Defending Lars Hedegaard

March 8, 2013 6:24 am 0 comments

Police search the area around Lars Hedegaard's residence after the assault.

At 11:20 a.m. on Feb. 5, Lars Hedegaard answered his door bell to an apparent mailman. Instead of receiving a package, however, the 70-year-old Danish historian and journalist found himself face to face with a would-be assassin about one third his age. The assailant shot him once, narrowly missing his head. The gun locked, Hedegaard wrestled with him, and the young man fled.

Given Hedegaard’s criticism of Islam and his even being taken to court on criminal charges of “hate speech,” the attack reverberated in Denmark and beyond. The Associated Press reported this incident, which was featured prominently in the British press, including the Guardian, the Daily Mail, and the Spectator, as well as in Canada’s National Post. The Wall Street Journal published an article by him about his experience.

When the New York Times belatedly bestirred itself on Feb. 28 to inform its readership about the assassination attempt, it did not so much report the event itself but an alleged Muslim support for Hedegaard to express himself. As implied by the title of Andrew Higgins’ article, “Danish Opponent of Islam Is Attacked, and Muslims Defend His Right to Speak,” he mainly celebrates Danish Islam: “Muslim groups in the country, which were often criticized during the cartoon furor for not speaking out against violence and even deliberately fanning the flames, raised their voices to condemn the attack on Mr. Hedegaard and support his right to express his views, no matter how odious [emphasis added].” This theme pervades the piece; for example, Karen Haekkerup, the minister of social affairs and integration, is quoted pleased that “the Muslim community is now active in the debate.”

(For a close dissection of this agitprop, see Diana West‘s evisceration; and see Andrew Bostom‘s analysis for a comparison of Higgins to Walter Duranty, the NYT reporter who whitewashed Stalin’s crimes.)

Secondarily Higgins delegitimizes Hedegaard, my topic here. In addition to the snarky “no matter how odious” reference, Higgins dismisses Hedegaard’s “opinions” as “a stew of anti-Muslim bile and conspiracy-laden forecasts of a coming civil war” and claims the Dane has “fanned wild conspiracy theories and sometimes veered into calumny.”

These characterizations of Hedegaard’s work are a vicious travesty. A few specifics:

1. What Higgins airily dismisses as Hedegaard’s “opinions” is in fact a substantial oeuvre in several academic books and articles laden with facts and references dealing with Islamic ideology, Muslim history, and Muslim immigration to Denmark. Those books include:

I krigens hus: Islams kolonisering af Vesten [In the House of War: Islam's colonization of the West] (with Helle Merete Brix and Torben Hansen). Aarhus, Hovedland, 2003

1400 års krigen: Islams strategi, EU og frihedens endeligt [The 1400 Year War: Islam's strategy, the EU and the demise of freedom] (with Mogens Camre). Odense, Trykkefrihedsselskabets Bibliotek, 2009

Muhammeds piger: Vold, mord og voldtægter i Islams Hus. [Muhammad's girls: Violence, murder and rape in the House of Islam] Odense, Trykkefrihedsselskabets Bibliotek, 2011

Hedegaard’s major articles include:

“Den 11. september som historie” [September 11 as history] in Helle Merete Brix and Torben Hansen (eds.), Islam i Vesten: På Koranens vej? Copenhagen, Tiderne Skifter, 2002.

“The Growth of Islam in Denmark and the Future of Secularism” in Kurt Almqvist (ed.), The Secular State and Islam in Europe. Stockholm, Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation, 2007

“Free Speech: Its Benefits and Limitations” in Süheyla Kirca and LuEtt Hanson (eds.), Freedom and Prejudice: Approaches to Media and Culture. Istanbul, Bahcesehir University Press, 2008

“De cartoon-jihad en de opkomst van parallelle samenlevingen” [The cartoon jihad and the emergence of parallel societies] in Hans Jansen and Bert Snel (eds.), Eindstrijd: De finale clash tussen het liberale Westen en een traditionele islam. Amsterdam, Uitgiverij Van Praag, 2009

To the best of my knowledge, no one has claimed these writings contain sloppy scholarship or wrong references. As Hedegaard puts it, “I am a university-trained historian and take my craft seriously.” The real criticism of Hedegaard is not about his scholarship – but that he raises difficult and even unpleasant questions.

And, as someone who has written two books on conspiracy theories, I judge Hedegaard’s writings innocent of that intellectual sin.

2. Higgins ascribes to him “forecasts of a coming war”; but these are not his forecasts, only his reporting what Islamist texts and spokesmen themselves predict and advocate.

3. Higgins writes that Hedegaard “for several years edited a mainstream Danish daily, Information, is a major figure in what a study last year by a British group, Hope Not Hate, identified as a global movement of ‘Islamophobic’ writers, bloggers and activists whose ‘anti-Muslim rhetoric poisons the political discourse, sometimes with deadly effect’.”

“Islamophobia” is a silly neologism intended to vilify anyone who criticizes Islam or even Islamism.

As for “sometimes with deadly effect”: that is applied to the whole group of 100 organizations and individuals in the Hate not Hope listing, not to Hedegaard individually. Higgins nastily insinuates that Hedegaard is responsible for deadly attacks on Muslims when, in fact, he was the victim not the perpetrator of an attack. (Hope not Hate, by the way, lists both the Middle East Forum and me in its Counter-Jihad Report; it flatters me as the “Powerhouse behind the international counter-jihadist movement.”)

In conclusion, it’s not “a stew of anti-Muslim bile and conspiracy-laden forecasts” but “a cocktail of sensible critiques and unsettling analyses.” Higgins has written a stew of shoddy aspersions of a brave, distinguished, and accomplished writer with whom I co-authored an article “Something Rotten in Denmark?” in 2002 and who is currently a colleague at the Middle East Forum.

Shame on Higgins for this article and shame on the New York Times for publishing him.

This article was originally published by Front Page Magazine. Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2013 All rights reserved by Daniel Pipes.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Theater US & Canada New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that he has a major concern with: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views. At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds his captive. Tony, who is also an [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    A Jewish comedy troupe released a parody video on Wednesday of Taylor Swift’s hit song Shake It Off in which they joke about taking extensive time off from work for Jewish holidays. “And the goyim gonna stay, stay, stay, stay, stay. And the Jews are gonna pray, pray pray, pray, pray. I’m just gonna take, take, take, take, take. I’m taking off,” goes the chorus for I’m Taking Off. Menachem Weinstein, the video’s lead singer, is the creative director at [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    JNS.org – The 75th anniversary of the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on Dec. 15 presents an opportunity to examine the Jewish influence on one of the most popular films of all time. That influence starts with the American Civil War epic’s famed producer, David O. Selznick. Adjusted for inflation, “Gone with the Wind” remains the highest-grossing movie ever made. It earned the 1939 Academy Award for Best Picture, the same honor another Selznick film, “Rebecca,” garnered in 1940. Selznick [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Music US & Canada EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    Matisyahu got candid in an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner on Monday about his religious and musical journey – after shedding his Chassidic skin, yarmulke, long beard and all – from the start of his career in 2005 when he became a reggae superstar with hits King Without a Crown and Jerusalem. The singer-songwriter embarks on his Festival of Light tour this month, an annual Hanukkah event that stops in Montreal, New York, and other cities before ending in San Juan, [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Personalities ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    JNS.org – It was an era of steel strings, guitar heroes, and storytellers—high on heroin, rebellious. Outlaw country music, the hallmark of Nashville’s powerful and angry music scene of the 1970s, was the brew of greats such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Townes Van Zandt. But there is another, little-known music hero of that era: Daniel Antopolsky. A Jewish lad from Augusta, Ga.—the son of immigrants who settled in the south and ran a hardware store on Main Street—the [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi replaced Israeli star Gal Gadot as the female lead in the new Ben-Hur remake, Hollywood.com reported on Tuesday. The Homeland actress will play Esther, a slave that Ben-Hur sets free and falls in love with. Gadot quit the movie when it became clear that filming conflicted with her schedule for the Man of Steel sequel. The Israeli actress plays Wonder Woman in the superhero film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Actor Jack Huston takes on the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.