One of the most common, tiresome, and potentially dangerous side effects of speaking out against Islam and its adverse influence over society, are the ceaseless accusations of bigotry and racism hurled around by all and sundry. Explaining repeatedly as to why objection to a set of deeply illiberal ideas and their increasing prevalence, does not constitute a blanket hatred of individual people, seems to make little difference. For someone like myself, a major aspect of my objection to Islam is the suffering it causes Muslims. I object to the subjugation and persecution of Muslim women, apostates, and other minorities, frequently enforced by countries that base their societies on the precepts of Islam and Sharia.
I’m not alone in coming at Islamic criticism from this angle, which is why many of these accusations of anti-Muslim bigotry are baseless, malicious smears which are virtually impossible to counter once in circulation. Constant accusations of racial hatred and anti-Muslim animosity create a smokescreen whereby anyone can be dismissed with a single word, resulting in their valid criticisms being rendered redundant and their reputations being indelibly tarnished. Sam Harris has been a frequent target of this dishonest, toxic behaviour, and has repeatedly stated the difficulty he therefore has in endorsing or supporting any particular speaker on this topic, without the limitless capacity for researching their entire backlog of statements. When only an infinite scope for research will confirm whether the accusations you are hearing at any given time are founded in reality or are simply smears, it becomes nigh-on impossible to form meaningful associations without the possibly of inviting reputation destroying revelations.
This is one of the reasons that when genuine bigots attempt to move in the same circles, it’s important to call them out and to make it clear that their views are incompatible with our own. If we demand that moderate Muslims disassociate themselves from the extremists and speak out against them, then I’d suggest we have the same responsibility to act accordingly with extremists in our own space.
A self-proclaimed right-wing, independent journalist, who goes by the name Peter Sweden appears pretty conclusively, to be one such person. He runs a popular You Tube channel and has over forty-eight thousand Twitter followers. Peter has long skirted the peripherals of my awareness. I’ve never followed him and am unfamiliar with the overwhelming majority of his output, although I did previously watch a video interview he conducted with the mixed-race gentleman whose calm and articulate argument with a Corbynite at the Manchester March Against Hate demonstration went viral. In the portion of the interview that I saw, Mr Sweden came across as relatively mild-mannered and balanced. It appears that many of his followers also viewed him the same way.
However, I recently noticed a Tweet by an account called Wild Geerters (presumably a play on the name of Dutch politician Geert Wilders) which contained screenshots of a number of extremely unpleasant Tweets purporting to be from Peter Sweden’s Twitter feed. I then became aware of a couple of Tweets by anti-Islam activist and UKIP leadership candidate Anne-Marie Waters describing Peter as a “misogynist”, an “anti-Semite” and a “nasty piece of work”.
I subsequently conducted a search of Peter’s timeline using some strategic keywords and the results are not pretty to say the least. It appears that Mr Sweden has repeatedly expressed something of a sympathy for holocaust denial, and for other anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, as well as a penchant for explicitly homophobic bigotry.
Once these Tweets began to be noticed and circulated on Twitter, Peter released a deeply unsatisfactory statement on this matter that does little, if anything, to clarify his actual views.
Here’s the statement in full:
Ironically enough, whilst claiming that any accusations of anti-Semitism, misogyny, and homophobia directed towards him are calculated slurs intended to silence free speech, Peter disingenuously dismisses those who disagree with the views that he is on record as espousing, as “leftist trolls”. He proceeds by describing his preposterous and revolting statements merely as “edgy” whilst in no way refuting that they are actually genuine, then claims that his views a have somewhat progressed from when he was “younger”. Younger is a strange word to use in this context since, in many cases, we are addressing views that he has expressed less than 12 months ago.
It’s also worth pointing out that this is not a free speech issue. I have no objection whatsoever to Peter espousing whatever opinions he pleases, and I make no attempt to stop him doing so. I support free speech unequivocally. Peter remains free to say whatever he wants, and the rest of us remain free to denounce his views, criticise his statements, and reject associations with him. That’s how free speech works. Someone’s right to espouse their views does not for a second oblige anyone else to either agree with those views or to refrain from disagreeing with them publicly.
Without further ado, here’s a sample of Mr Sweden’s unfortunate Tweets. This in no way represents a comprehensive list of objectionable statements he has made on his account, but simply provides a flavour of the sentiments he routinely expresses, but which somehow seem to have evaded the attention of many of his followers.
This, for example, is Peter’s take on the massacre of 49 innocent people at the Pulse nightclub, by Islamic State terrorist Omar Mateen, in Orlando last year.
Peter’s views on homosexuality more generally:
Here Peter appears to claim that the Västmanland Wildfire, which forced the evacuation of over one thousand Swedish residents in July 2014, was divine retribution for a celebration of homosexuality.
Peter also appears to believe that the HIV virus is some kind of punishment for the supposed immorality of homosexual relations.
When addressing the subject of anti-Jewish bigotry, Peter rejects the claim that the proven forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which describes a supposed Jewish world domination conspiracy, is anti-Semitic.
Furthermore, his general attitude towards Jewish people in general is pretty telling.
Peter’s apparent animosity towards Jewish people reaches its inevitable conclusion in some pretty full throated holocaust denial. I’m compelled to point out that I cannot verify the authenticity of the following Tweets, they were reported by other people and, as of now, they do not appear on Peter’s timeline when searching for these phrases. However, there are a number of other Tweets that do appear on his timeline and reflect similar sentiments. This leads me to believe that the more overt examples of holocaust denial have simply been deleted. Furthermore, Peter has not once denied tweeting these statements despite being asked repeatedly and by numerous people for confirmation of their authenticity or lack thereof. If these tweets prove to be falsifications I will update this article to reflect that fact.
The following are Tweets that mirror the above attitudes which I personally captured from Peter’s timeline, and therefore stand by their authenticity. At the time of writing they are still present on his Twitter feed.
As I mentioned previously, this is by no means of comprehensive list and I’ve not even touched upon his ‘traditional’ views on women, and his endorsement of 9/11 conspiracy theories. I recommend searching Sweden’s Twitter feed yourself using the keywords such: “Jews”, “Hitler”, “Holocaust”, “Homos”, “Gays”, “9/11” etc.
It may be the case that Peter’s views have evolved in recent months, as he claims, but I see no evidence of it. His statement on the matter is massively insufficient in providing clarification on his views, not least on whether he accepts that the holocaust took place, since he doesn’t address it in the slightest.
Ironically enough, many of Peter’s objectionable views – his animosity towards Jewish people, his hatred of homosexuality – appear to stem from his own fundamentalist religious beliefs, and so his criticisms of Islam are hypocritical at the least. The final irony of course is that people like Peter Sweden make legitimate and desperately needed criticism of Islam all the more difficult by employing their own brand of religious supremacism and intolerance, and increasing the likelihood that guilt by association arguments against Islam critics can be used with increasing legitimacy. A common argument made by those who oppose criticism of Islam is that Islamic fundamentalists and so-called “Islamophobes” occupy different sides of the same coin. If all critics of Islam were like Peter Sweden, they might have a point.