The New York Times noted today that accused Norway murderer Anders Behring Breivik cited the work of anti-Jihad activist Robert Spencer 64 times in his 1,500 page manifesto, which also included a large portion of the Unabomber's writing. Now, Spencer and several other people who crusade against extreme forms of Islam are pushing back, and arguing the media is unfairly focusing on Breivik's citations.
"If I was indeed an inspiration for his work, I feel the way the Beatles must have felt when they learned that Charles Manson had committed murder after being inspired by messages he thought he heard in their song lyrics," Spencer wrote on his blog, referring to the so-called White Album by the Fab Four, which featured the song "Helter Skelter." "There were no such messages. Nor is there, for any sane person, any inspiration for harming anyone in my work, which has been consistently dedicated to defending human rights for all people."
Meanwhile, Pamela Geller, who runs the popular "Atlas Shrugs" blog and partnered with Spencer in a campaign against the proposed Park51 Islamic community center near Ground Zero, told The Daily Caller that she thinks she is has been unfairly associated with Breivik because her work is mentioned once in the manifesto. That linkage is "ridiculous," Geller said.
In past writings, Geller has said that she "does not believe in the idea of a moderate Islam," and wrote that "there really is no difference between muslims and radical muslims." Both Geller and Spencer paid for bus ads encouraging Muslims to leave "the falsity of Islam."
Detractors of both Spencer and Geller say that such broad-brush characterizations stigmatize all Muslims as pro-violence and encourage distrust.
Author Bruce Bawer wrote in the Wall Street Journal that he was "stunned" to realize that Breivik had read his book "While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within." He lamented that "this murderous madman has become the poster boy for the criticism of Islam," making it more difficult for Bawer and others who have denounced radical Islam to advance their cause.
Meanwhile, the Muslim-American advocacy organization CAIR has asked for stepped-up security outside of American mosques, saying they fear Breivik's manifesto will incite more violence. "These horrible attacks have exposed more than ever before the ideological underpinnings of anti-Muslim extremism in Europe and the United States," CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement.