As a three-year resident of Lower Manhattan whose apartment is situated no farther from Ground Zero than the future Cordoba House—that is, a couple of blocks away—I might be expected to entertain no very tepid feelings toward this Islamic complex and the controversy it has provoked. As it happens, my take on the whole enterprise has undergone quite a bit of reassessment since I first heard of plans by Muslim developers of suspect financing to build a mega-mosque on Ground Zero. The phrasing of the last sentence alone should give some inkling as to the first corrections in order.
If built at all, the Cordoba House, or Park51, as it’s now being called, will be an Islamic cultural center hosting a library, auditorium, gym, swimming pool, day-care center, and culinary school—out of which some space for an indoor mosque shall be carved, true. But what a far cry from a mega-mosque of towering minarets, blaring out the calls of muezzins five times a day, summoning the faithful to prayer! And it wouldn’t stand on Ground Zero or even overlook it. As to the sources of the funds, the developers have so far raised only enough money to buy the old building on Park Place, which they intend to demolish. The rest, an estimated $100 million needed to actually build, furnish, and staff the 13-story Islamic complex, remains to be vouched for. No terror-tainted sources have been tied to the developers’ financing, nor any irregularities found with their assets. At this point, none are likely to surface either, at least not before more funds can be raised and their sources scrutinized.
And yet, even after the smoke cloud of misleading rhetoric is dispersed, a sour taste still lingers about this Cordoba initiative, which no profusion of goodwill can clear away. For one thing, there is the questionable symbolism of Cordoba, where Muslims, Catholics, and Jews admittedly lived in relative peace for a few centuries, but only as far as the former subjugated the latter two, at least nominally. However enlightened this Caliphate of the Middle Ages was, and whatever the merits of the arrangements that prevailed between its religious communities, none of them could be held up as a model for emulation in the 21st century.
Then there’s Imam Feisal Abdul-Rauf, the public face of the project. Though professing himself a moderate dedicated to improving relations between the West and the Muslim World—and taken as such at his word by the State Department, in whose employ he is currently journeying to the Middle East on a mission of “interfaith outreach”—he can supposedly reconcile said religious tolerance and liberality with the implications of the following statements (emphases mine):
I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened [September 11, 2001]. But the United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened. … Because we have been accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the U.S.A.
Asked whether Hamas meets the definition of terrorist group:
I’m not a politician. I try to avoid the issues. The issue of terrorism is a very complex question. … I am a peace builder. I will not allow anybody to put me in a position where I am seen by any party in the world as an adversary or as an enemy.
Is Feisal Abdul-Rauf a woolly cleric, well meaning but naïve, and perhaps somewhat scornful of consistency—moral and intellectual—that alleged hobgoblin of small minds? Or is he rather a subversive, astute fanatic, well versed in those formulaic platitudes that make a leftist’s heart melt but wholly unmoved by the charms of such things as Coexist bumper stickers? Of course, he might even be a mere career fundraiser, secretly indifferent to questions of theology or conscience, jealous of his professional reputation as bridge-builder extraordinaire, and too mindful of wealthy donors and patrons in the Middle East to risk stepping on their toes by damning their pet terrorist groups. In any case, Mr. Abdul-Rauf does not seem the kind of man anyone in his right mind would want to welcome into his neighborhood, especially as the head of his local Islamic community center.
Last and most important, although the most incensed critics of Park51 have shamelessly overstated the actual proximity of the complex to Ground Zero, I cannot but judge it in very poor taste to insist that this Islamic cultural center should be built nearly two blocks away from where the World Trade Center once stood. Even if the most honorable intentions could be imputed to the developers, demolishing a building damaged on September 11, 2001, by fragments of the hijacked planes, in order to erect in its place an Islamic center, is so obviously crass that they shouldn’t wonder why the majority of Americans—68 percent, by the latest count—oppose the undertaking.
That’s as far as I can sympathize with the opponents of the Cordoba House. And the American Center for Law and Justice could have obtained both my signature and my support had it organized a private petition for New Yorkers to civilly register their disapproval of Park51 instead of trying to block its construction through the courts. But, I should hope, the distinction between finding something distasteful and justifying coercive action against it cannot be so subtle as to elude most Americans. It is a hallmark of civilization—conspicuously wanting, by the way, in those Islamic societies whose young men seethed with rage and destroyed everything they could get their hands on because the portrayal of their prophet in certain Danish cartoons had mortally offended them.
It might have been possible to shame the developers of Park51 into reconsidering where to build their Islamic center, had their right to build it wherever they pleased not been called into question. But because most opponents started to conflate that matter with whether the mosque and Islamic center in Lower Manhattan were generally desirable or publicly acceptable, so, in turn, did some champions of the other side of the debate. In the process, the shady imam and his fellow developers have acquired the aura of noble “martyrs” to the cause of the First Amendment, bold visionaries molested by a growing mob of bigots—which is unfortunate and counterproductive. Of course, they must build near Ground Zero now, to prove that they can, their plight carrying such a high symbolic weight and what have you.
So we must contend with a thorny First Amendment case—and no, zoning laws cannot treat a mosque near Ground Zero as they might treat liquor stores near schools or strip malls in places where they offend local sensibilities, because neither liquor stores nor strip malls are expressly protected by the Constitution, whereas the free exercise of religion is. Therefore, no government interference with the developers’ property rights could be warranted. And this marks the first topic of public interest on which I fully agree with President Obama, who said:
Now, we must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of lower Manhattan. The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. The pain and suffering experienced by those who lost loved ones is unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.
But let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.
Neither did I find his subsequent clarification the least bit disingenuous; quite the contrary:
I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about.
So there is no arguing on whose side the law is. As for decency, well, I wish I could say that decency, at least, were squarely on the side of Cordoba’s opponents, but their cause has been hijacked by the likes of Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, bottom-feeding activists who, collectively, allege that Barack Obama is the love child of Malcolm X and extol Serbian war criminals indicted by the Hague Tribunal as valiant paladins of our civilization (for having slaughtered thousands of Muslims in the Balkans). Another leader of the opposition to Cordoba, John Joseph Jay, considers every single Muslim a legitimate target for murder. These three have founded the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which sponsors the anti-Cordoba ads now plastered over New York buses, and work closely with the aforementioned American Center for Law and Justice. Suffice it to say, such people do not represent me and should not represent anyone who understands what they are up to.
But leaving these anti-Muslim fanatics aside, the sane opponents of Cordoba—most of them staunch conservatives and champions of individual liberties—must still account for the unprincipled ease with which they propose to infringe the property rights of private developers. Hypocrisy, however, is a plague on both houses, conservative and liberal. For it is the latter, the usual proponents of Eminent Domain, most of whom have never heard of a Walmart or casino in their remotest vicinity whose construction they didn’t want to stop, but whose lips are now curling up in self-righteous indignation at the gross encroachment upon these Muslim developers’ property rights. Of the many counterfactual scenarios and thought experiments so popular with those pundits fond of reasoning by analogy, my favorite is by Cathy Young, from her excellent piece in RealClearPolitics:
Let us consider a hypothetical, leaving aside for a moment the usual examples involving Germans and Auschwitz or the Japanese and Pearl Harbor. Suppose a group of Christian anti-abortion fanatics bombed the offices of Planned Parenthood in New York, killing hundreds. Suppose that, 10 years later, a conservative Christian group, strongly pro-life though repudiating violence, wanted to build a 13-story community center and church next to the site of this tragedy.
Most likely, the roles in this debate would be reversed. Quite a few liberals would denounce the planned construction of the center as a slap in the face to the victims and their families; the likes of Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin would decry anti-Christian bias and voice outrage that the actions of a handful of extremists would be used to denigrate all Christians or all abortion opponents.
Indeed. Apparently, no ground is as hallowed as to deter some from exploiting the sentiments it commonly excites. But of the 68 percent of Americans opposed to the Cordoba House, I wonder what percentage concede that the developers have every right to build their mosque and Islamic complex near Ground Zero. And whatever our numbers be, I also wonder, who represents us in this debate?
I thought I was done writing about Robert Spencer for a number of reasons. First, compiling the exposé of his friend and colleague James Jatras was a laborious effort for which, until recently, I had little to show besides publication in the Albanian-American newspaper Illyria (I have little interest in preaching to the converted) and a few (mostly unsympathetic) comments. Second, the more I read about Spencer’s other associates and their agendas, the more I felt that by virtue of their sheer extremism, these fringe elements could never achieve anything of substance in America; so why bother exposing them? And third, I do have a life. And a job.
That being said, in the wake of second-hand threats of legal action I have decided my best defense against potential charges of defamation is the truth. More truth about Robert Spencer.
While I don’t think Spencer and his associates stand a chance of implementing what I fear are their stealth policies, their shrill and unfortunately universally accepted identification with “the counter-jihadist movement” is severely detrimental to the efforts of respectable intellectuals standing up to Islamofascism. Front groups for radical Islamist interests — along with their Western apologists — conveniently employ such critics of compromised backgrounds as straw men against any legitimate scrutiny of their own activities. I believe everyone acquainted with Robert Spencer’s work should consider the causes he is involved with and the company he keeps before lending him support; this is one more reason for me to write about him.
What’s so interesting about Trifkovic? Just about everything omitted or whitewashed from his Wikipedia profile.
The following is an accurate albeit incomplete introduction:
…Trifkovic was one of the leaders of the Bosnian Serbs during the years of ethnic cleansing. Unsurprisingly, he has an online article titled “The Hague Tribunal: Bad Justice, Worse Politics,” in which he argues that there was no ethnic cleansing at all against Bosnian Muslims by Serbs. His subtitle reads “The Myth of the Bosnian Holocaust,” and to support his eccentric case he repeatedly accuses the U.S. authorities of distorting or covering up “facts” about Bosnia to accuse Serbs unjustly…
In the same article, Trifkovic openly supports Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and his military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic and argues for their innocence. These two have been indicted by the U.N. Tribunal on sixteen counts of genocide and war crimes regarding the Bosnian war of 1992-1995…
In March 2003, Trifkovic appeared as a defense witness in the trial of Milomir Stakic in [the Hague Tribunal.] On July 13, 2003, Stakic was sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty on the following counts:
Count 4: Extermination, a Crime against Humanity
Count 5: Murder, a Violation of the Laws and Customs of War
Count 6: Persecutions, Crimes against Humanity, incorporating
Count 3: Murder, a Crime against Humanity, and
Count 7: Deportation, a Crime against Humanity.
The Stakic case is of great importance in the overall context of the Bosnian war and The Hague Tribunal, because it centers on the expulsion of non-Serbs from the area of Prijedor in northern Bosnia-Herzegovina, in which the notorious concentration camps of Keraterm, Omarska and Trnopolje were located. Stakic himself stated on television that the camps of Omarska, Keraterm, and Trnopolje were “a necessity in the given moment.”
There are some illuminating points in Trifkovic’s testimony. At page 13757, Trifkovic admits that he served as “representative of the Republika Srpska between 9 November, 1993, and July, 1994, in London,” a fact that he had omitted from the C.V. he submitted to the Tribunal. The Republika Srpska [R.S.] was the Serbian occupation zone in Bosnia-Herzegovina created on the orders and under the direction of Slobodan Milosevic.
On March 19, 2003, Judge Wolfgang Schomburg commented on the character of Trifkovic’s testimony, which he described as showing “the clear lack of tolerance, the poor basis of facts relying on secondary instead of primary sources. And not going into details, we discussed some examples yesterday. This is clear. But as I said yesterday, this has nothing to do with Dr. Stakic being the accused here in this Tribunal.”
That is, the Judge states that the opinions of Trifkovic should not be attributed to the defendant Stakic. The opinions of Trifkovic were so extreme they should be excluded so as not to prejudice the defense of a man who finally was given the first LIFE SENTENCE for his crimes against Bosnian Muslims!
The full transcripts of Trifkovic’s defense of Milomir Stakic at the Hague Tribunal can be found here, here, here, here, here, and here, in chronological order. Robert Spencer is close friends with not one, but two defense witnesses for Serbian war criminals, the other being James Jatras, who defended Slobodan Milosevic at his trial. But Trifkovic’s testimony was even more scandalous than the above account would indicate:
[S]ources at the Hague report that war crimes prosecutors last week ripped apart Chronicles editor, paleocon speaker and longtime war-crimes tribunal critic Srdja Trifkovic for plagiarism; according to people at the trial, Trifkovic republished verbatim and without attribution four pages of sensitive court documents, allegedly obtained from a member of the defense team.
Whenever confronted with his ties to the genocidal Bosnian Serb government, Trifkovic pulls out an entire portfolio of published statements to prove his vehement opposition to Slobodan Milosevic throughout the 1990s. His indignant alibi is that, in fact, he worked as adviser to a “determined foe” of Milosevic:
Yes, I was Plavsic’s consultant during her brief presidency (1998), when she was persona gratissima in Washington, where I accompanied her during her visit in May of that year. She was certainly not a “member of the Milosevic regime” — quite the contrary, she was his determined foe, which made it possible for me to help her, and made her attractive in the eyes of the U.S. Administration.
Slobodan Milosevic is so infamous that in the sensitivities of many a Westerner, opposition to such a monster is conflated with epic struggles of “good vs. evil.” It is hard to fathom that many Serbian leaders (as well as a significant portion of the Serbian population) opposed Milosevic not because he was planning and executing genocide and mayhem all over Yugoslavia, but because he hadn’t gone far enough and had failed to fully deliver on those counts. After all, who can be expected to keep track of all these colorful characters? Milosevic, Karadzic, Mladic, Stakic, Plavsic, Blagojevic… Opposition to Milosevic is automatically considered a proxy for human decency.
The most fascinating thing about Biljana Plavsic, whom Trifkovic admittedly served as a consultant, is she’s not a fictional character! The descriptions below do not refer to a comic book or horror film caricature. She did indeed live and rule in Serb-occupied Bosnia:
Biljana Plavšic is a former Bosnian Serb politician and university professor currently serving a sentence in Sweden as a result of a conviction by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for war crimes. She was the president of Republika Srpska for two years from 1996 through 1998.
Besides being the highest-ranking Bosnian Serb politician to be sentenced [by the ICTY], she was also known for her fiery nationalist statements during the War in Bosnia, against the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), and, later, her remorse for the crimes against humanity she admitted to have been responsible for as a high-level politician.
She was infamous for some of her comments during the war, and for her April 1992 appearance in Bijeljina with Željko Ražnatovic, aka Arkan. Serbian President Slobodan Miloševic’s support for the “Vance Owen Plan” caused her to refuse to shake his hand, as she denounced him as a traitor to the Serbian nation.
Vojislav Šešelj, at the Miloševic trial, described Karadžic’s motives for nominating her.
“She held very extremist positions during the war, insufferably extremist, even for me, and they bothered even me as a declared Serb nationalist. She brought Arkan and his Serb Volunteer Guard to Bijeljina, and she continued to visit him after their activities in Bijeljina and the surrounding area… Radovan Karadzic…believed her to be more extreme than himself in every way. He thought that the Western protagonists who tried to eliminate him at any cost would have an even greater problem with her… Radovan Karadzic believed that she would continue to occupy her patriotic positions until the end…”
Vojislav Seselj is the founder of Serbia’s neo-fascist Radical Party, so just what kind of thoughts and plans were roaming in Biljana Plavsic’s head to be deemed too extremist even for him? Srdja Trifkovic’s utterances were so outrageous that the ICTY judge explicitly cautioned that they not be attributed to the war criminal Stakic. Is it any wonder, then, that not even Milosevic was a worthy embodiment of Trifkovic’s political philosophy? Biljana was his true and only match.
More (<– excellent source I recommend reading in full) about and from the “iron lady”:
“I’m not saying that we no longer wish to live with Croats, but rather that we shall not allow them to live with us.”
“I don’t have much faith in political negotiations. One good battle would settle this war,” she told Telegraf (Belgrade) on 15 July 1994. Hence her statement that she “exchanges kisses only with heroes [more on that later -ed.].” Her conception of heroism is personified by Zeljko Raznjatovic-Arkan, the perpetrator of horrific ethnic cleansing in B.-H. “WhenI saw what he’d done in Bijeljina, I at once imagined all his actions being like that. I said: here we have a Serb hero. He’s a real Serb, that’s the kind of men we need.” (On, Belgrade, 12 November 1996.) “Arkan is wonderful… he impressed me as a humane person forced by necessity to take up arms.” (Bosnian Serb News Agency, 1992.)
Plavsic’s monstrous celebration of Arkan as the symbol of Serbdom and heroism can be understood only in the context of her own authentic conception of ethnic cleansing: Arkan is not simply the Serb Empress’s favourite hero, he is the loyal and systematic executor of her “imperial” design. This is the reason for her great affection for him, which has lasted to the present day. “I would prefer completely to cleanse eastern Bosnia of Muslims. When I say cleanse, I don’t want anyone to take me literally and think I mean ethnic cleansing. But they’ve attached this label ‘ethnic cleansing’ to a perfectly natural phenomenon and characterized it as some kind of war crime.” (Svet, Novi Sad, 6 September 1993.)
What the difference is, in this concrete case, between the cleansing of Muslims from eastern Bosnia and ethnic cleansing, is something that only Biljana Plavsic’s monstrous mind can discern. “It’s not the nape but the neck,” as the saying goes.
From the very beginning of the war Plavsic was already invoking Dragoljub-Draza Mihailovic, leader during World War II of the Serb(ian) nationalists better known as Chetniks and a proven collaborator of the German occupiers. “He fought for the unification of all Serbs within a single Serb state, the borders of which were to run from Djevdjelija [on the Macedonian-Greek border] to Karlobag [two thirds of the way up the Croatian coast]… Uncle Draza intended to cleanse the future united Serb lands of all enemies of Serbdom and Orthodoxy, as well as of anti-national elements.” (Srbija, 3 September 1992.)
“That’s true [i.e. that the Bosnian Muslims were originally Serbs]. But it was genetically deformed material that embraced Islam. And now, of course, with each successive generation this gene simply becomes concentrated. It gets worse and worse, it simply expresses itself and dictates their style of thinking and behaving, which is rooted in their genes…” (Svet, Novi Sad, 6 September 1993.)
As a concrete example of her thesis about Muslims being “genetically deformed material,” she has used Ejup Ganic: “I have never met a more deformed person than him in political circles, which abound with such deformed people.” (On, Belgrade, 12 November 1996.)
“We are disturbed by the fact that the number of marriages between Serbs and Muslims has increased… because mixed marriages lead to an exchange of genes between ethnic groups, and thus to a degeneration of Serb nationhood.” (Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, May 1994.)
[Plavsic] once said, at the time of the Vance-Owen Plan[which led to her falling out with Milosevic, because he settled for peace -ed.]: “there are twelve million of us, and even if six million perish the other six million will live decently.” Later she tried to explain this away by saying that Milosevic had misquoted her (NIN, Belgrade, 6 May 1994.) She claimed she had only repeated to him what a wounded soldier had told her! It is not known what reply she gave to the wounded soldier, but if Milosevic said one good thing during the war it was that she belonged in an institution.
“The Serbs of Bosnia, especially those living in frontier regions, have developed and refined a special ability to sense danger to the nation and to evolve mechanisms for self-protection. In my family it was always said that the Serbs of Bosnia were much better than the Serbs of Serbia… As a biologist I know that the best ability to adapt and survive is possessed by those species which live next to others that are a threat to them… Hence, the separation of Serbs from other nations is both a natural and a necessary phenomenon.” (Borba, Belgrade, 28 July 1993.)
Even the former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic’s December 2002 confession of guilt in The Hague seemed more aimed at appeasing the guilt of Serbs than remorse for the victims of Bosnian Serb atrocities. Her explanation that egregious crimes had been motivated by Serbs’ “blinding fear,” which led to an “obsession” that they would “never again become victims,” as they had in World War II, had little resonance in non-Serb quarters. Few can forget the woman who was once shown on local TV stepping over a Bosniak corpse to kiss and congratulate the Serbian warlord Zeljko Raznjatovic, known as Arkan.
This is the person for whom Robert Spencer’s friend and colleague Srdja Trifkovic worked at a time when her actions and pronouncements were a matter of public record. He also worked for Karadzic in the capacity of official spokesperson, a fact he has tried to deny since his self-refurbishment as a pundit and scholar of Islam in the US:
I have met Karadzic during my many trips to the Balkans but I never “worked” for him.
Sources say otherwise. A BBC article identifies him as a former spokesperson for the Bosnian Serb government as he argues against Karadzic’s extradition to The Hague. But the smoking gun comes from elsewhere:
Dr Trifkovic, in a 1994 interview with Adam Nicolson of the London Sunday Telegraph:
“In the press the Serbs have been portrayed in a Manichaean way, as the perennial and only culprits, demonised as a collective monstrosity. It was this which induced me to give up my other career pursuits and become a spokesman for Dr. Karadzic, which is not much easier at the moment, I must say,” he smiled, “than being the spokesman for the Afrikaner Republican Party.” The Serbs’ main shortcoming, as he saw it, had been in public relations. “There is a Serb reluctance to manipulate the truth,” he said. “A sense of propriety. The concept of public relations is morally repugnant to the Serbs, to manhandle people’s minds in that way we believe the truth will become known by itself. The result was a lack of preparedness for this aspect of the war from which we have suffered.”
Ah, but what’s a little bit of personal revisionism from a man who denies the Srebrenica genocide and other meticulously documented massacres without batting an eye? Trifkovic’s on-record views include:
[T]he commonly quoted figure of victims of the Srebrenica massacre was a “long-debunked myth.”
[T]he often-cited figure of 200,000-250,000 Bosnians killed in the entire conflict is incorrect, and that it is closer to 80,000-100,000 on all three sides (Serbs, Croats and Muslims), about half of them civilians, which is the figure confirmed by the Hague Tribunal research team.
Muslims in the UN-designated safe havens, like Srebrenica, led by Naser Oric, were actually using them “as armed camps and springboards for offensives against the Serbs.”
He has said that the alleged Bosnian Serb “rape camps” were “entirely fictitious.”
Invoking Lord David Owen’s memoir, he has described the Breadline Massacre, where 22 people died, as a public relations “stunt” by the Izetbegovic regime.
What did an average workday as Karadzic’s spokesperson entail? No comment:
Dr Trifkovic, as featured on CBS EVENING NEWS (6:30 PM ET) May 26, 1995, Friday:
HEADLINE: BOSNIAN SERBS HOLD UN PEACEKEEPERS HOSTAGE IN RETALIATION FOR NATO AIR ATTACKS
DAN RATHER, anchor:
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization stepped up its air attacks against Bosnian Serbs today, but the Serbs are still very much in control on the ground, and they came back with even more terror against civilians and United Nations’ soldiers. Correspondent Barry Petersen begins our report.
BARRY PETERSEN reporting:
American and NATO strategists expected the air strikes to change the course of the war. They were right; it got worse. Serbs reacted by imprisoning unarmed UN observers.
Unidentified Man #1: Our lives are in danger.
PETERSEN: Some were turned into human shields at the ammunition dumps NATO was targeting. There was a desperate radio message, apparently sent by a UN hostage.
Unidentified Man #2: If the bombing stops, we will be set free. Otherwise, we will be–we will be killed, over.
Unidentified Woman: (Foreign language spoken.)
PETERSEN: The Serbs chose a somewhat different response to yesterday’s air strike: a massacre; artillery blasting a crowded street in Tuzla lined with sidewalk cafes. More than 70 were killed. The youngest victim was two months old. The Serbs know they can’t stop the warplanes militarily. They think if they can make the price of the air strikes high enough in human terms, that will stop the UN generals.
Mr. SERGE TRIFKOVIC (Bosnian Serb spokesman): The next time there is a call for stern action against these dastardly Serbs, if it is known that it will result in 2,000 shells falling on the so-called protected areas, people will think twice.
PETERSEN: The shells rained down on Sarajevo today, another of those so-called protected areas that isn’t.
Mr. MARTIN McCAULEY (Eastern European specialist): The military must now consider whether it’s worth using military force against military objects if the result is the death of innocent children and men and women.
PETERSEN: The UN now stands at a terrible crossroads about what to do next. It has never stood up so strongly to the Serbs, and Bosnia has never paid so dearly. Barry Petersen, CBS News, London.
At this point, I would like to briefly revisit the recent online debacle over Robert Spencer being caught joining a genocidal Facebook group championing the “Reconquest of Anatolia,” which would be accomplished through the ethnic cleansing and forced sterilization of the Turkish population. Anyone disposed to charitably dismiss the evil lunacy espoused by the group as merely hyperbolic sentiment ought to remember that Robert Spencer is closely associated with a man who has personally participated in an actual ethnic-cleansing campaign of similar proportions. Spencer’s family background is a reasonable fit for irredentist intentions toward Turkey, not to mention his seething hatred for everything Muslim/Islamic:
LAMB: What’s your own background as far as country?
SPENCER: Well, I’m an American and my family is from what is now Turkey and actually that is the beginning of my interest in the subject of Islam that my grandparents shortly after World War I were offered the choice of conversion to Islam or exile from the land where they had lived for many hundreds of years – that is my family had lived. And many Christians in that area had lived there.
They were – those chose exile and they came to the United States. They, despite their experiences which involved some violence and some of the – some killings of some of the family members, they were – they spoke in a uniformly positive fashion about life over there and made me become quite fascinated with it such that I took the first opportunity I could when I went to college to read the Koran and to begin studying Islamic theology and history.
But I won’t elaborate on Spencer’s genocidal sympathies or lack thereof, lest I be freshly accused of making libelous allegations. Readers can draw their own conclusions, though by now they’re probably just wondering whatever happened to our old friend Trifkovic in the wake of the Dayton Agreement, when the Bosnian Serb government he worked for was assimilated within the federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina. I believe I already gave it away, but it’s worth rehashing: He became an American pundit, analyst, author, and anti-Islamic polemicist. Anyone impressed with Spencer’s credentials and achievements should be in awe of Trifkovic’s: after all, the latter holds a PhD as opposed to a mere Master’s degree, has been a visiting scholar at no less than the Hoover Institution (on the State Department’s dime), and has also authored bestselling books on Islam. A counter-jihadist par excellence, wouldn’t you say?
A closer look at his activities in America reveals involvement with the paleoconservative Rockford Institute. Trifkovic is the director of the institute’s Center for International Affairs and publishes its magazine, Chronicles. The leader of the John Randolph Club — an offshoot of the Rockford Institute preoccupied with “renewal of Christendom” — is Justin Raimondo, owner of the anti-Semitic conspiratorial site Antiwar.org, which has published several of Trifkovic’s articles.
As a curious aside, speaking of Christendom, the director and producer of the documentary “Islam: What the West Needs to Know“, starring both Robert Spencer and Srdja Trifkovic, is a contributing author to Chronicles. In a recent article he prophesies that Barack Obama is the Antichrist, whose presidency heralds the end of our times. Gregory M. Davis writes:
I propose that with president-elect Obama we have taken a significant step toward the end of the world-and not just because a left-winger is likely to make a botch of whatever he touches. By the end of the world we mean the end of human history, which had its beginning with the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. The fall was the beginning of history; the Second Coming of Christ and the Last Judgment-when we shall all be changed in the twinkling of an eye and the elements burn with fervent heat-will be the conclusion. History as we know it is the story of the separation of man from God through disobedience and the saga of his redemption through divine grace. We do not know when the Master shall return-no man knoweth the day nor hour-but we do have powerful indications from Holy Scripture and Tradition about the general course of history and what its latter days will look like.
This same Gregory M. Davis also contributes to Spencer’s JihadWatch, where he has authored an entire column, Islam 101. Back to Chronicles: A magazine that would publish insane screeds of the Obama-is-the-Antichrist caliber can be safely assumed to carry more craziness on board, and it does. On the magazine’s website the League of the South is prominently blog-rolled. In fact, Thomas Fleming, Chronicles’ current editor-in-chief, is a founder and former board member of the neo-Confederate League. Pat Buchanan also has a regular column, and the magazine has strongly supported his presidential bids. The magazine’s attitude toward Jews and Israel can be gleaned from a simple Boolean search of their archives. Fleming writes:
From a fairly homogeneous ethnic base-a British core with Northern European accretions-we have morphed into a multiethnic, multilingual, multicultural population in which no one, not even descendants of the oldest stock, knows or cares who he is. Leftists now rejoice that the White House will be presided over by someone whose middle name is Hussein and actually run by someone whose middle name is Israel.
Vast numbers of people in the United States and abroad are hoping that President Obama will end America’s illegal wars, halt America’s support for Israel’s massacre of Lebanese and Palestinians, and punish, instead of reward, the shyster banksters [sic] whose fraudulent financial instruments have destroyed economics and imposed massive sufferings on people all over the world.
The Council of Conservative Citizens grew out of the old white Citizens Councils-the principal organization that fought for segregation in the South during the Civil Rights era. At the end of 1998, it appeared as if the role of the Council of Conservative Citizens in public life would be greatly diminished after the exposure of close ties to elected officials. However, recent events point to a new cycle of activity by the Council members in the electioneering sphere.
On June 30, 2000, nearly 100 supporters gathered at the Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral on Chicago’s Northside for a $100 a plate fundraiser for Reform Party Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan. Although a posted flyer announcing the hastily scheduled event claimed that the meeting was sponsored by a group calling itself the “Coalition for Just Peace in the Balkans,” it was clear who was in charge.
The Very Revered Father Denis Pavichevich, priest of the Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, was the host of the event, and clearly ran the show. Dressed in a gray cassock, accessorized with a large gold cross around his neck and a huge diamond-encrusted Confederate Battle Flag ring on his left hand, Father Denis-as most people referred to him that evening-was a friendly albeit imposing figure.
Flying in front of Pavichevich’s residence next to the church is the third national flag of the Confederacy-just below a Serbian flag. In addition to running the church and being the RSVP contact for the Buchanan fundraiser, Pavichevich is the vice-chair of the Northern Illinois Council of Conservative Citizens (Northern Illinois CCofC). He uses his church to hold regular Council of Conservative Citizens meetings as well as this Buchanan fundraiser.
Staff from the Rockford, Illinois based Rockford Institute also played an integral role in the event, running the registration table and doing the introductions.
The crowd milled around the lobby, browsing through copies of Chroniclesand Buchanan’s latest book, Republic, Not an Empire, as they awaited the arrival of the Reform Party candidate. There was a virtual absence of Reform Party literature. Several people in the crowd wore the green “Buchanan 2000” buttons of the Spotlight-run “Americans for Buchanan Committee” on their lapels.
As Buchanan entered the room with Pavichevich and Chronicles Foreign Affairs Editor Srdja Trifkovic, people began filing into the banquet hall and taking their seats. With the verve of a politician, Buchanan made his way through the crowd, shaking hands with many of the people sitting down. Towards the end of his rounds, Buchanan stopped to chat with John Kelly, the chair of the Northern Illinois Council of Conservative Citizens, who was surrounded by CofCC activists at his table.
Another mini-commotion broke out at one of the CofCC tables. John Kelly brought a CofCC banner with him to the event. A discussion ensued about whether they should ask Buchanan to pose for a picture in front of it. But since the CofCC was a “controversial” group, they decided it might be too awkward for Buchanan to fully align himself publicly with the CofCC. They settled for a group picture with Buchanan, without the banner.
After dinner, Thomas Fleming, head of the Rockford Institute, stepped up to the podium to begin the Buchanan introductions. During his lively and brief remarks, Fleming discussed how someone had labeled Buchanan a “loose cannon.” To Fleming, that was a good thing. He extolled the virtues of being loose (able to turn to meet the opposition, on all sides, and not tied down by money) and a cannon (a dedicated individual who is powerful). He then introduced Trifkovic, to give a “more serious introduction.”
Trifkovic appealed to the large contingent of Serbian Americans in the crowd, by waxing [sic] on about how Buchanan is the only candidate who is pro-Serbian and how that position is a natural result of his “America First” stance.
Buchanan then took the stage for a canned stump speech and an announcement that Perot would not be running against him, followed by questions. During the Q & A period, Trifkovic seemed to guide Buchanan through the questions, at times whispering into his ear.
The same source summarizes Fleming’s and Trifkovic’s pasts and positions:
Fleming goes even further, mounting an assault on the legal foundation of civil rights and equality before the law in the United States – the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Arguing that “no one who believes in a federal system can accept the premise of the 14th Amendment,” Fleming further asserts the genetic determinist view that has generally accompanied assaults on the rights of people of color in America. He writes that the “genetic differences” between the races “are responsible for gross statistical variations in…emotional and behavioral norms, and the various components of intelligence” (Chronicles, August 1994).
Given Fleming’s views on matters racial, it is no surprise that he emerges as an apologist for the Reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan. Fleming characterizes the Klan as a “national liberation army” of “ex-Confederates” who “refused to accept their status as a subjugated people.” As such, Fleming argues, the “postwar struggles” carried out by the Klan were “only accidentally a struggle between races.” (Chronicles, November 1997). Fleming’s views on the Reconstruction Klan are in keeping with his position on the board of directors of the League of the South. This Alabama-headquartered group opposes the idea of “egalitarianism” between the races and argues that southern whites should not “give control over their civilization and its institution to another race, whether it be native blacks or Hispanic immigrants.” To accomplish such goals, the League advocates overturning the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and states that “secession is the best way to restore good government to the South.” The League has subsequently been a leading advocate of defending the use of the Confederate Flag in southern states.
Fleming has also offered his own twist on history and its uses. While rejecting the crass Holocaust denial of David Irving and Ernst Zundel, he nonetheless attacks Holocaust education curriculum such as “Facing History and Ourselves” as a “reigning ideology” that has “displaced the authentic religion of Judaism.” Such ideology, he argues, has been “distorted into a weapon to destroy every real and good thing in the traditions of European and American Christendom.” (Chronicles, May 2000).
Another Rockford staffer adept at bending history for political purposes is Srjda Trifkovic, director of the Rockford Institute’s Center for International Affairs and Chronicles Foreign Affairs Editor. Trifkovic has dismissed ethnic cleansing in Bosnia as being “fabricated by the Muslim side” and minimized the devastating war in the Balkans as nothing more than “a medium-sized local conflict.” Trifkovic and Fleming are listed as heads of the “Coalition for a Just Peace in the Balkans,” the group sponsoring the Chicago Buchanan fundraiser. Trifkovic introduced Buchanan at the Chicago event and helped guide him through the difficult foreign policy questions from the audience.
Other individuals involved with Chronicles, the Rockford Institute, and the Council of Conservative Citizens have their backgrounds examined, but the connections and positions become as repetitive as they are nauseating, so I will refrain from airing them here. Readers may satisfy their morbid curiosity about the associations between various American and European neo-fascist fringe groups and their respective histories by consulting the above source.
Here are two other insightful sources related to Srdja Trifkovic and the insidious web of connections between Belgrade propaganda, neo-confederate/white-nationalist groups, and fringe elements of the GOP. Excerpt:
The Foreign Policy Editor of Chronicles, the Journal of the Rockford Institute, is Serge (Srdja) Trifkovic. Trifkovic, a proponent of extremist Serb nationalist causes and former advisor to the architects of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia (see below) has appeared on CNN as an expert on the Balkans.
The Chronicles web page on Kosovo includes every possible Belgrade position, from the claim that the atrocities at Racak were a hoax, to claims that Albanians in Kosovo were fleeing NATO bombs rather than Serb militias, that the Bosnian Muslims slaughtered themselves, and that Serbs were experiencing in Kosovo what white Americans are experiencing in the U.S. as the “browning of America.”
One of the authors of this “browning of America” theme for Chronicles is another extreme supporter of Serb radicalism, Bob Djurdjevic. In a series of articles for Chronicles, The Washington Times, and on his own web site, Djurdjevic glorifies as a victim the indicted war criminal Simo Drljaca, who was responsible for the region of the most gruesome atrocities in Bosnia, including the Omarska, Keraterm, and Trnopolje concentration camps, and he extols General Ratko Mladic, now indicted for genocide by the International Tribunal, and shows a picture of himself with his hero Mladic. He writes [that] the New World Order (NWO) is out to destroy White, Christian America even as it is out to destroy the White, Christian purity of Europe. He even proudly publicizes a letter, sent to him by Ku Klux Klan leader Louis Beam, in which Beam volunteers to fight in Kosovo to protect Serbia from the non-Christian hordes. Beam, in turn, in an article called the Alamo of Kosovo, extols Prince Lazar and the Serb heroes of 1389 as the greatest defenders in history of Christian White culture and the effort by the Belgrade regime to continue this heroism in Kosovo in 1999. For full details, citations, and quotations of Djudjevic and Beam, see my full article, “‘Mutt America’, The Religio-Racist Right and the Balkan Genocide.“
But Trifkovic is not a one-trick-pony; in addition to Serbian Fascism, he seems receptive to neo-fascist efforts all over Western Europe (not to mention his routine dissemination of Russian propaganda on all fronts, ranging from the situation in Ukraine to the conflict in Georgia):
Among the slew of anti-Muslim screeds published in recent years, one of the more prominent was The Sword of the Prophet by Serge Trifkovic. Despite Trifokovic’s dubious background as a former spokesman for Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic (although he also spoke against Slobodan Milsoevic), he was embraced by American conservatives — paleo and neo — as yet another expert who dared to tell “the truth” about Muslims and Islam. Here he is on Frontpage, discoursing on the subject with fellow polemicists Robert Spencer and Walid Shoebat. Sites such as Jihad Watch and pundits such as Don Feder toasted his efforts; Brian Mitchell of Investor’sBusiness Daily gushed over him as “a European historian of broad learning, sound philosophy and keen political insight.”
In 2006, Trifkovic demonstrated this “keen political insight” in a cosy interview with the BNP’s Nick Griffin, in which he took at face value Griffin’s denials of racism and failed to ask any questions about either Griffin’s anti-Semitic past or the various private comments made by BNP leaders expressing crude racism and praise for Hitler. The BNP has a Jewish town councilor, Patricia Richardson, and this is presented as evidence that the BNP has rejected its past anti-Semitism-although in fact Griffin has (by his own admission) merely discarded anti-Jewish politics for anti-Muslim as a matter of strategy.
And as it happens, Richardson and Trifkovic will be meeting at the end of this week at a conference in Baltimore entitled “Preserving Western Civilization”.
The conference is being organised by Dr. Michael H. Hart, an astrophysicist who claims that human history should be interpreted by considering differences in racial IQs. He also argues that the USA should be divided into white, black, and mixed “nations.” Other speakers include Philippe Rushton, the “scientific” racialist who believes that white intellectual superiority over blacks can be inversely correlated to size of genitalia-as I blogged here, in 2006 he spoke on the “biological basis of patriotism” at a Right Now conference held at Mark Mason’s Hall in central London-and the usual characters from the American Renaissance circuit.
It’s interesting that despite the rabidly racist and anti-Semitic environment he is steeped in, Srdja Trifkovic takes time to tailor Belgrade propaganda specifically for Israel, as exemplified by his articles “Kosovo: A Threat to Israel’s Survival,” “U.S. Kosovo Policy is Bad for Israel” (coauthored with James Jatras), etc. This is yet another example of how anti-Semitic agitators are learning to pay lip-service to Israel’s interests for the sake of expediency when they think they can co-opt Jewish sympathy for their hatred of Muslims.
A confrontation with CAIR over his book, the Sword of the Prophet, has boosted Trifkovic’s profile as a reputable “counter-jihadist.” In such a conflict, asymmetric information can lead outsiders familiar with the disreputable background of only one of the parties involved to conclude that its antagonist is blameless. Just as whoever hears Biljana Plavsic was Slobodan Molosevic’s adversary may assume she was one of “the good guys,” whoever knows of CAIR’s disturbing tactics and connections to Islamist terrorists (e.g. the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas) may think Trifkovic is “fighting the good fight.” But how many people will in turn sympathize with CAIR and discount as motivated by Islamophobia any future scrutiny of its activities, should they learn of the baggage Trifkovic carries? In a perverse way, CAIR and their ilk, and Trifkovic and his ilk, are each other’s allies: they use each other as bogeymen to divert attention from their own severely compromised agendas.
CAIR is not interested in integrating Muslims into a liberal America, but rather in spearheading subversive movements to empower extremists at home and abroad. Conversely, Trifkovic is not interested in defending America, the institutional product of the Enlightenment, from the advances of radical Islam — in fact his writings and actions suggest he despises America’s liberal, secular, constitutional nature. Philosophically he yearns for the establishment of a tribal, medieval, eugenicist, proto-Christian aggressive state whose glory is defined by the cruelty it can inflict on its neighbors, while pragmatically he seems interested in furthering Belgrade and Kremlin propaganda in American circles. Anti-Islamic polemics is his platform for gaining attention and credibility to promote his true goals.
Effective opposition to the insinuations of radical Islam in the West ought to focus not only on what we oppose, but most importantly on what we affirm. No successful response to Islamofascism — or one worthy of success — can include the likes of Trifkovic and his supporters, including Robert Spencer.
As for Schwartz’s guilt-by-association attacks on Srdja Trifkovic, they are all the more beneath contempt for the fact that Trifkovic himself over a year ago supplied in this very publication a string of quotations from his own work going back to 1990 showing that he was an early and consistent opponent of the Milosevic regime. [And we’ve seen how much that’s worth. -ed.] Trifkovic, of course, does not need me to defend him.
It is true that in Sharia courts, the testimony of non-Muslims need not be considered [a gratuitous jab at Schwartz for being a Muslim -ed.]; but Stephen, we are now in a different court: the court of public opinion.
Indeed, Robert. We’re in the court of public opinion. The spotlight is on you.
Money doesn’t buy happiness, of course, but it ought to remove almost all obstacles lying in its way. $109 million, 109 million opportunities for yourself, yet all you care about are the so many “opportunities” you have for our country? All these glorious master-plans you have concocted for us little people… Who the hell do you think you are Hillary, and what’s your excuse for being so miserable despite your riches?
Donate all your millions first, before you get the audacity to screech for raising taxes for the rest of us. What a contemptible hypocritical corrupt power-hungry Leftist byotch! It makes me feel all toasty inside to know that despite your fortune, you always have been and always will be miserable! That’s the story of your life.