For years now I've said that anti-free-speech leftists and the men who slaughtered the staff of Charlie Hebdo, shot up Lars Vilks' event in Copenhagen, etc, are merely different points on the same continuum: They're both in the shut-up business: both groups find it quicker and easier and more satisfying to silence you than to debate you.
There were those who found the comparison offensive - to whom I would on good-humored days grant that the two points on the same continuum were nevertheless some distance apart.
Well, they got considerably closer in Reykjavik last week.
Robert Spencer, the author of several bestselling books on Islam, a brave crusader against the dopier multiculti illusions and the proprietor of the indispensable Jihad Watch, gave a speech at the Grand Hotel, went to unwind at dinner afterwards, and was poisoned by a social-justice warrior. Here's Robert's account of what happened:
After the event, my security chief, the organizers of the event, Ms. Williams, and I went to a local restaurant to celebrate its success. But I was quickly recognized: a young Icelander called me by name, shook my hand, and said he was a big fan. Shortly after that, another citizen of that famously courteous land likewise called me by my name, shook my hand, and said "f*** you."
Back in my hotel room, I began to feel numbness in my face, hands, and feet. I began trembling and vomiting. My heart was racing dangerously. I spent the night in a Reykjavik hospital.
A hospital test confirmed that I had been poisoned -- Ritalin mixed with MDMA (Ecstasy). One of the local Icelanders who had approached me (likely the one who said he was a big fan, as he came much closer to me than the "f*** you" guy) had dropped drugs into my drink. I was ill for several days afterward.
That's quite a sophisticated operation - a two-man team, the first a fake fan, the second a post-kiss-of-death gloater.
Before the banking crash of '08, Iceland was flush, and celebs like Elton John were flown in for gala bashes. But it's all quietened down a bit since then, so the Spencer event was a big deal. He drew an audience of 500 - which in a town of 125,000 and a nation of 300,000 is pretty impressive. There was lots of coverage of his visit - none of which actually quoted him or excerpted his speech or interviewed those who were interested in hearing what he had to say. Instead the media preferred to cover the few dozen protestors of his trip. In all the column inches devoted to Robert Spencer, no journalist thought to seek a comment from Robert Spencer. There are two sides to every story - except this guy's story: he doesn't deserve a side.
This kind of dehumanization sends a message - and the man who poisoned Robert got it loud and clear:
Those who paint the targets, and those who shoot at them, think they're doing something great. Not only does the Left fill those whom it brainwashes with hate, but it does so while portraying its enemies as the hatemongers, such that violent Leftists such as the young man who drugged me feel righteous as they victimize and brutalize for the crime of disagreement.
I have no doubt whatsoever that whoever poisoned me in Iceland went away feeling happy over what he had done. If he told anyone what he did, I'm sure he was hailed as a hero. I'm also aware that many who read this will crow and exult in knowing that someone who hates my opposition to jihad terror and Sharia oppression made me seriously ill. This is how degenerate and evil the Left has become.
I don't know how I'd stand up to a cocktail of Ritalin and Ecstasy. I do know there's at least one person in my modest entourage it would kill. And I have no doubt that had the fellow in the restaurant switched on the radio the following morning and heard that Robert Spencer had died in hospital overnight he would have celebrated.
Like the guns at Singapore, the social-justice mob's fingers are pointing in the wrong direction: They accuse their opponents endlessly of "otherization"; yet they are the ones who so deny the humanity of "the other" that it seems cool and heroic to attempt to kill a chap who gave a speech you object to - even though you never heard the speech, and, even if you had, are incapable of articulating what exactly in it you take issue with.
Douglas Murray and I noted after the tenth anniversary of the Mohammed cartoons how strangely controversial the post-event dinner has become. In Copenhagen, the restaurant panicked at the sight of the PET - the Danish security-service agents - and canceled our booking. As Douglas wrote:
Ten years ago, you could publish depictions of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. Ten years later, it is hard for anyone who has been connected with such an act to find a restaurant in Copenhagen that will serve them dinner.
For those in Robert Spencer's line of work, these events are undeniably stressful. There are security precautions, of course, but you never know, from the Vilks event in Copenhagen to Robert's in Garland, Texas, whether some jihadist will succeed in breaking through. There's a sense of relief when you exit the stage and it's all gone off without incident. You're looking forward to a drink and a bite to eat in convivial company. And you're on your post-performance high, so you're generally bonhomous when people approach professing to be fans and seeking a selfie or an autograph. And there's three or four and they're all around you, and you put your drink down on the table - as Douglas and I did again and again in the bar we wound up in late that night. And the fans move on, and you pick up your glass without a thought...
Robert Spencer will never do that again.
The social-justice crowd are moving toward the same point as the Charlie Hebdo killers, and for the same reason: They're too stupid to argue. For the Islamic imperialists, debate is a largely alien concept. For the left, it's simply too much effort. As I said here many years ago, the great appeal of multiculturalism is that it absolves you from having to know anything about other cultures: If they're all equally valid, what's the point? Slap on the CO-EXIST bumper sticker and off you tootle. No need to worry whether the "C" might have a bit of a problem with some of the other letters, and that indeed, if not for the "C", you wouldn't need a bumper-sticker admonition to CO-EXIST in the first place. But, after two generations of social engineering, of the substitution of attitudes for education, it would require too much effort to equip yourself to argue against the difficult questions a man such as Robert Spencer raises. It's literally easier to kill him.
Not yet in the blood-lusting exultant scimitar-raising style of the decapitators of French priests. But just through whatever you've got in your stash that might ensure he'll be flying out of Reykjavik by the handles. So for the moment there is still a continuum. But it's narrowing, and will narrow still.
Get well soon, Robert.
~If you're an Icelandic member of The Mark Steyn Club and you'd like to comment on the above, have at it below. Tomorrow, Friday, Mark will be back on air for one of his favorite shows, "Varney & Co" on Fox Business, a little after 11.30am Eastern/8.30am Pacific.