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The Inquisition of Melanie Phillips
By Robert Spencer

Last week British columnist Melanie Phillips wrote a blogpost at the Spectator entitled "Armchair barbarism," discussing the brutal jihad murders of the Fogel family in Israel. Her references to the "moral depravity" of the Arab "savages" who committed the crime have gotten her in hot water with Britain's hyper-PC Press Complaints Commission, which has launched an investigation.

Phillips is being investigated, ironically enough, for writing that "the moral depravity of the Arabs," as she chose to term the murderers of the Fogels and those in Gaza who celebrated those murders, "is finding a grotesque echo in the moral bankruptcy and worse of the British and American 'liberal' media." And as if on cue, the watchdog organization in Britain of that liberal media swooped down upon her.

The irony was compounded by a further statement in Phillips' column: "Overwhelmingly, the media have either ignored or downplayed the atrocity -- or worse, effectively blamed the victims for bringing it on themselves, describing them as 'hard-line settlers' or extremists." In this case, however, they were not blaming the victim, but blaming the columnist who spoke forthrightly about the nature of the murderers.

After the column was published, the P.C. Commission received two complaints about it: one from Engage, a group that is dedicated to advancing Muslim participation in British society, and from one of Britain's most prominent Muslim leaders, Inayat Bunglawala, the chairman of Muslims4UK. Bunglawala fumed that Phillips' words "went far beyond just denouncing the killings. It was a far more generalised racist outburst against Arabs as a whole."

Ignoring the fact that Arab Muslims commit jihad terror attacks on a virtually daily basis, and that there is no equivalent among Jews, Bunglawala claimed that "if you insert the word 'Jew' or 'Jewish' where she has referred to Arabs then I am sure she would have no doubt that those words would be antisemitic. Just as she abhors antisemitism it is important that she maintains the same vigorous anti-racist stance against Arabs. It is just unacceptable to use that kind of language."

Yet Bunglawala and Engage were ignoring one undeniable fact: the Islamic jihadists who murdered the Fogel family were savages, as were those who celebrated their murders in Gaza. I would say this while standing in the middle of Trafalgar Square, and if Britain's PC Commission had any residual sense of shame, it would drop its investigation of Phillips immediately.

It is also worth noting, however, that it may have been a lingering politically correct impulse on Phillips' part that played into the hands of the Islamic supremacists who complained about her piece. For she referred to "Arabs" again and again, when the murderers of the Fogels were killing not because they were Arabs, but because they were Muslims, and Islamic jihadists. So many Western analysts will call jihadists anything -- anything -- so as to avoid calling them what they are, devout and observant Muslims. They just can't bear the idea that religious teachings might really have something to do with this conflict. Yet to characterize the Itamar murderers again and again as "Arabs" may have made it easier for the execrable Bunglawala to characterize what she wrote as a "generalised racist outburst."

On the other hand, since resistance to jihad violence and Islamic supremacism is routinely described as "racism" also, if she had referred to the killers as jihadists or Muslims it may not have made any difference.

In any case, note the moral inversion from the complaining Muslims -- a moral inversion that is now so common that we may not even notice it. Bunglawala and the other complainers are full of righteous indignation against Melanie Phillips for her words, but where is the indignation of these supposed "moderates" against the jihadists who murdered the Fogels? Which is worse? Phillips's allegedly "racist" remarks, or the cold-blooded killing of a family sleeping in its home?

And if Bunglawala and co. had issued some pro-forma condemnation, deploring the attacks, admonishing the West that "Islam forbids" such murders and similar eyewash, what were they doing to back it up with real action? What programs have they instituted in mosques and Islamic schools in Britain to teach against the beliefs and assumptions that led Muslims to believe that it would be a good and righteous act to murder the Fogels in the first place?

Such questions are the ones British authorities really ought to be investigating.


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