The Daily Mail And Hitler

Disclaimer: I am not a fan of Ed Miliband. I think that he is far too timid in his opposition to the Tories. I wish he would dispense with Liam Byrne’s services and adopt a stridently anti Tory agenda, but he won’t. Miliband is a rather moderate politician.

On a bad day I can be terribly cynical, but even I was astonished at the Daily Mail’s attack on Ralph Milliband.

Emily Maitlis is particularly great on Newsnight in examining the malicious, ill informed and scurrilous character assassination of Ralph Miliband, and by inference his son, Ed.

The Hacked Off campaign is good, if too brief.

Michael Newman hits the nail on the head:

“But, of course, Levy’s real target is not Ralph Miliband at all, but Ed, whom he accuses of being determined to bring about his father’s vision. Apart from being absurd, this is also ironic for, ever since my biography was published, I have constantly been asked to explain how both of Ralph’s sons became politicians in a party that he had often regarded as a barrier to the attainment of socialism. “[My emphasis.]

Even Lord Heseltine, who served under Thatcher, knows that the Daily Mail has crossed a line:

“Heseltine told The Daily Politics on BBC2: “This is carrying politics to an extent that is just demeaning, frankly. The headline isn’t justified. It is completely out of context. As everybody knows the guy fought for this country and we now live in a totally different world to the clash between communism and fascism.”

HitlerDM1
Just a simple reminder of who the Daily Mail boss, Viscount Rothermere, liked. He is the man in the middle.

This is what Rothermere wrote in September 1933:

“It is Germany’s good fortune to have found a leader who can combine for the public good all the most
vigorous elements in the country. President von Hindenburg and the Crown Prince form, with Herr Hitler, the keystone of the national structure.

The world’s greatest need today is realism. Hitler is a realist. He has saved his country from the ineffectual leadership of hesitating, half-hearted politicians. He has infused into its national life the conquerable spirit of triumphant youth.”

So when faced with the evil that Hitler represented, what did the Daily Mail proprietor, Rothermere do?

He applauded it.

That tells you all you need to know about the Daily Mail. Not much has changed.
HItlerDM2

Update 1: Daily Mail widens attack on Ed Miliband.

Update 2: Stephen Fry gives his tuppence worth:

“But there’s form here. The Mail still can’t quite live with the shame that it has always, always been historically wrong about everything – large and small – from Picasso to equal pay for women. Because it has always been against progress, the liberalising of attitudes, modern art and strangers (whether by race, gender or sexuality). Of course they’ll leap on a Stephen Lawrence bandwagon once the seeds of their decades of anti-immigration racism (read a 1960s or 1970s Daily Mail) have been sown, but deep down they have always come from the same place and had the same instinct for the lowest, most mean-spirited, hypocritical, spiteful and philistine elements of our island nation.

Most notoriously of all, they loved Adolf Hitler when he came to power, and as the Czech crisis arose they were the appeasement newspaper. And woe-betide any liberal-minded anti-fascist who warned that the man was unstable and that consistently satisfying his vanity, greed and ambition was only storing up trouble. The whole liberal left, not to mention Winston Churchill, were mocked and scorned for their instinctive distrust of Hitler. The Daily Mail knew better.” [My emphasis.]

Update 3: This Buzzfeed is superb. The Best Of The Internet Vs. The Daily Mail.

Update 4: Where is Paul Dacre? is funny.

Update 5: Channel 4 on The mythical power of the Daily Mail.
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The Twitter Parody Of “I’m Not Racist, But…”

twitter3aXavier Toby’s piece on Huff Post rings true:

“Here’s one quick way to work out if someone’s racist.

If they say, “I’m not racist, but…”

Then they’re definitely racist.

Really, that phrase should be outlawed.

If it actually worked, nobody would ever again be sent to prison.

In court all they’d have to say is, “I’m not a murderer, but… I accidentally mistook my husband for a knife holder thirty-seven times.”

And the judge would say, “While all the evidence indicates that you’re guilty, you’ve used the “I’m not but” defence. Which we all know is infallible. Therefore, case dismissed. Off ya go tiger. Try not to do it again, ya cheeky scamp.”

The phrase should be, “I am a racist, and…”

For example:

“I am a racist AND I only watch Channel Nine.”
“I am a racist AND I don’t own any bed sheets without eyeholes in them.”
“I am a racist AND I only eat the white marshmallows.”
“I am a racist AND follow me on Twitter @whitesupremacisttoteslol69.”

Now just say you suspect a person of being racist, but they’ve cleverly avoiding using the phrase, “I’m not racist, but…”

It’s not uncommon; some racists can be surprisingly crafty.”

anon2a

Twitter provides a very useful resource around this topic. Almost on a daily basis it is possible to find such talking points, however, they tend to be formed along the lines of “I’m not antisemitic, but…”.

The persistence of open antisemitism on Twitter and the apathy towards combating it, is astonishing. Storify has proven itself by allowing these few examples of overt racism to be documented with relative ease:

Holocaust Denial at Anonymous.
More antisemitism at Anonymous.
Antisemitism at Anonymous Continues Unchecked.
Free Gaza Movement And Racism.

What comes through is a remarkably similar pattern to that highlighted by Xavier Toby. There is a denial of racism, a play on words and a negation of evidence. Anonymous would, in all probability, say “We are not antisemitic, but…”.

Nevertheless, they would fail to explain the racist content of the Anonymous Operations account or the lethargy shown by its 170,000+ followers. Equally, Greta Berlin of the Free Gaza Movement has already tried on those excuses:

”TWEET from the Free Gaza TWITTER account was posted several days ago that had a link to a lecture titled, “Zionists Ran the Holocaust and the Concentration Camps.” This TWEET did not come from Free Gaza, and does not represent FG’s position in any way whatsoever; in fact we condemn its content. It came from Greta’s private Facebook page and was to be shared with a group of people who were discussing propaganda and racism, and this link was an example of the terrible propaganda that could be spewed on websites. For some reason, Facebook connected our Free Gaza account to her personal Facebook account, and the link was posted. Greta has added, “I apologize that I did not watch the video before hitting SHARE on Facebook. I was in a rush to get to a book event and simply reposted. The fault is completely mine. Free Gaza had nothing to do with the post at all. “

But more worrying, it appears that Anonymous and the Free Gaza Movement have reached the stage where they no longer feel the compunction to apologise for racism emanating from their Twitter accounts. In the end, Xavier Toby was right when he said “some racists can be surprisingly crafty.”

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On Syria

Syria and the West are intimate friends. For years Western leaders courted Bashar Assad, arguing he was a moderate and a vehicle of change. Vogue even produced a propaganda edition on the Assad family. Elsewhere, Russia and China continued to support and supplied buckets of armaments to the Syrian dictatorship or shuffle their feet at the UN.

queenAssad1a With a few notable exceptions, many Western activists simply coughed and looked the other way when the various Assads committed atrocities, as Galloway argued in June 2011:

“The BBC, Galloway complained, is denouncing Syria for using Apache helicopters to attack its own people. “I’ve never understood,” said Galloway, “why it is worse to kill your own people than other people’s people.” The BBC had cheered a week or 10 days earlier for Apache helicopters used by Britain to kill Libyans. The problem with Syria, Galloway said, is not that it’s run by the latest Adolf Hitler of the month, but that it harbors Palestinian leadership, supports Lebanese national resistance, and refused to participate in the attack on Iraq.” [My emphasis.]

That was good enough for them, deliberately forgetting Assad’s unsavoury allies.

Yet there is a foul stench that pervades any discussion on Syria, the inability to stop a dictator from openly murdering civilians for 2½ years. The West in terms of political leaders and supposed “activists” have given this smiling dictator an easy time. Complacency has rules from March 2011 onwards, with Westerners largely hoping that the slaughter in Syria would go away, all by itself.  MIDAEST SYRIA UK

Syria is not far from Europe. A mere 300 miles from Cyprus. A relatively quick trip from Italy, under three hours in a plane. Just over 4½ hours from London but it could as well be a world away, whilst the Assad regime carried on torture and murder, under Russia and China’s protection and it slipped down the media priorities.

Leaving aside the question of intervention for the moment, the inability of Westerners to inform themselves on the nature of the Assad dictatorship is exceedingly troubling. From 1963 coup d’etat to the later one in 1970 when Hafez Assad took power, civil rights were never on the agenda. However, Western Human Rights organisations have covered abuses over the years and those with access to the Internet have no excuse.

Human Rights Watch reports on Syria: 1997, 2000,2002,2010,2013.

Amnesty International reports on Syria: 1995, 2000, 2007, 2011, 2012.

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Assad’s Syria

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Greenbelt: British Christians, Syria And Assad

A yearly Christian festival has come in for criticism to the extent that Greenbelt felt compelled to put out a Statement on Israel/Palestine programming by Greenbelt. Whilst there is the broader question of, whether or not Westerners should be interfering in the Middle East, there should be no circumscription on criticising the human-rights record of any governments. Any.

cross1 There is much to criticise in the Middle East and the Israeli government is not immune from it. The continued occupation in the West Bank. The treatment of immigrants to Israel and the rise of right-wing racist ideas. However, we must not forget that it has been Israelis at the very forefront of these issues and opposing their own government.  That opposition takes various forms from the human-rights organisations, such as B’Tselem to Rabbis For Human Rights and beyond.

Where it is, Syria?

Except that Israel is not the only country in the Middle East.

Nor is it the only one connected to the Christian faith and therefore of interest to many Westerners or festivalgoers at Greenbelt.

I could not help notice a strange omission from the festival programme, any mention of Syria. Whilst it has slid down the news agenda, the 2½ year conflict involves many millions, with probably over 120,000 dead, millions of refugees flooding into neighbouring countries and should deserve at least one word of commentary. I thought it was a peculiar oversight, but then, is it?

I wondered, could it be that those fixated with Israeli misdemeanours give the rulers of Syria an easy time? There is one whole article on the Greenbelt site relating to Syria, whereas the search result on “Israel” amount to 7 pages of searches, 63 entries.

A Hypothesis.

The  hypothesis, that strident and negative views on Israel would lead to a bias in reporting of the Middle East needed testing, the question was how?

Well, I supposed that choosing the most strident Christian critics of the Israelis I could think of might prove illuminating. Surely, I reasoned, they could not fail to indict Bashar Assad for instigating the conflict in Syria? Or using tank shells and aircraft on unarmed civilians?

All of this did not happened overnight. The conflict started in March 2011 when the Syrian government decided to shoot peaceful demonstrators. The Western media begun to document the abuse by the Assad regime, including disappearances and regular use of torture.

I thought that even the harshest adversary of the Israelis would not be so lopsided as to moderate their acerbic attitudes when it came to the quasi-dictatorship in Syria.
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David Miranda, Picking Through The Issue

DM1There is considerable discussion of the detention of David Miranda and the lines are forming up.

On one side, those who seem to hate Glenn Greenwald and would probably justify any action against him or his partner, short of throwing them into Gitmo!

On the other, those concerned with the implications of the detention. I rarely find myself agreeing with Andrew Sullivan but he sums up the wider issue of Snowden’s exposé:

“Readers know I have been grappling for a while with the vexing question of the balance between the surveillance state and the threat of Jihadist terrorism. When the NSA leaks burst onto the scene, I was skeptical of many of the large claims made by civil libertarians and queasily sympathetic to a program that relied on meta-data alone, as long as it was transparent, had Congressional buy-in, did not accidentally expose innocent civilians to grotesque privacy loss, and was watched by a strong FISA court.

Since then, I’ve watched the debate closely and almost all the checks I supported have been proven illusory. The spying is vastly more extensive than anyone fully comprehended before; the FISA court has been revealed as toothless and crippled; and many civilians have had their privacy accidentally violated over 3000 times. The president, in defending the indefensible, has damaged himself and his core reputation for honesty and candor. These cumulative revelations have exposed this program as, at a minimum, dangerous to core liberties and vulnerable to rank abuse. I’ve found myself moving further and further to Glenn’s position.”

Joshua Foust is having none of that, essentially arguing that it was legal and that is what government do. Therefore, there is not much to complain about. I feel that is a rather narrow perspective, particularly for a journalist.

Nevertheless he writes:

“So, this is complicated. The UK authorities were correct to question David Miranda, but they were stupid, wrong, and abusive to have held him for so long — and in doing so, they ruined any possible legitimacy their questions might have held. It was a needless own-goal.

There’s also a bit of historical literacy we should perhaps add to the discussion. Histrionics aside, most governments, and many more unsavory groups, treat secrecy very seriously — sometimes with deadly seriousness. Regardless of the rightness or wrongness of his decision to help pilfer and distribute the treasured secrets of several governments, to do so openly, with such braggadocio, is not only arrogant it is misguided. This is not a game, especially to the governments being exposed, and casually involving a spouse to take a hit when he won’t risk it is a bizarre and troubling decision.”

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Norman Tebbit, Making Excuses for The EDL

Norman Tebbit’s claim to fame is a stupid comment concerning a bicycle. That was over 30 years ago and time has not improved Tebbit’s judgement.

Whilst most professional political commentators and academics would fairly and squarely place the English Defence League in the Far Right slot, Tebbit disagrees.

Normally, I would not even trouble to argue with a Tory, a waste of time.

Still, Tebbit might want to view this clip and explain away the convergence of neo-Nazis and the English Defence League.

Tell MAMA puts a solid case, Are the EDL a Far Right Group asks Lord Tebbit – on Many Occasions.

Update 1: EDL Review is a very useful resource. It is a site which exposes the thugs and criminals in the English Defence League.

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News International And The Police

There is a very revealing article in the Independent concerning Rupert Murdoch and News International.

It seems that, for once, the Police will investigate them with some vigour and potentially prosecute them as a corporation. This very notion has sent shivers down News International spines and they have reduced co-operation with the police accordingly.

But do read the article in full, as there is a lot more to this:

RUp2

“Lawyers for the media behemoth have pleaded with the Met and the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute the company as it would not be in the “public interest” to put thousands of jobs at risk. Gerson Zweifach, the group general counsel of News Corp, flew in to London for emergency talks with the Met last year. According to Scotland Yard, he told police: “Crappy governance is not a crime. The downstream effects of a prosecution would be apocalyptic. The US authorities’ reaction would put the whole business at risk, as licences would be at risk.”

The Independent can reveal that Scotland Yard warned News Corp that its UK subsidiary, which publishes The Sun and used to publish the now-defunct News of the World, was under formal investigation on 18 May last year.

A month later, Rupert Murdoch announced he was splitting the global empire he spent six decades building up into one of the most powerful companies in the world. The 82-year-old hived off the highly profitable television and film assets, including 21st Century Fox and Fox News, into a separate entity from the troubled newspaper group in what was widely perceived as an attempt to isolate any contagion from the phone-hacking scandal.” [My emphasis]

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A Poor Excuse For Rationalists

As an atheist, secularist and rationalist I should be within the ideal catchment area for the Rationalist Association.

I should be, but I am not.

Having read their recent contributions to the discussion over Richard Dawkins’s conflating Islam with Muslims as a bloc, and studiously avoiding the issue of why he retweeted material from an EDL sympathiser I am less than impressed at their rationality.

I don’t mind a polemic. But to be oblivious of racism in Britain, not to understand the nature of the English Defence League and to reflectively defend Richard Dawkins is not rational, even for the Rationalist Association.

Daniel Trilling’s moderate piece on how we need to get beyond Richard Dawkins has set the cat among the pigeons and brought out some rather irrational rationalists.

Not good.

Update 1: A reminder of what a self-confess Dawkins fan said:

“Because Dawkins has gone from criticising the religion itself to criticising Muslims, as a vast bloc. They’re not individuals with names, they’re “these Muslims” or “some Muslim or other”, undifferentiated, without personhood. They haven’t managed to get very many Nobel prizes, presumably because they’re stupid, or brainwashed into zombiehood by their religion.

Yes, it’s only a “fact”, but in different contexts, the same fact can have different meanings. For instance, would Dawkins have tweeted another fact, which is that Trinity also has twice as many Nobel prizes as all black people put together? It’s just as true, but presumably he doesn’t believe that it’s because black people aren’t as clever. Yet he is willing to make the equivalent inference about Muslims, without further evidence.“[My emphasis.]

Update 2: I was probably a bit harsh, not all at the Rationalist Association are purblind to racism.

Paul Sims wrote a good piece in 2011, Demonising Muslims: When does criticism of religion cross the line into racism?

“Whatever the debates over terminology, it seems clear that there is a serious problem with anti-Muslim prejudice in Britain and, indeed, beyond. “All across Europe we have seen right-wing extremists moving more and more to using attacks on Islam as a way of using fear to win people to their cause,” says Sam Tarry, a campaign organiser at the anti-fascist organisation Hope Not Hate. Of the extremist groups tracked by Tarry and his colleagues the most high-profile in recent years has been the English Defence League, which emerged in the aftermath of a protest in 2009 against homecoming troops in Luton by the extremists of Islam4UK, the now-proscribed group led by Anjem Choudary. Drawing on pre-existing networks of right-wing extremists and football hooligans, the EDL positioned itself specifically in opposition to what it called “militant Islam” and organised street demonstrations in towns with large Muslim populations, drawing attendances of up to 2,000 by the spring of last year.

While EDL leaders maintain that their concern is with Islamic extremism, Tarry says their marches target a far broader section of society. “They’ve actually hardened their position over the last two years,” he explains. “Now they are pretty much saying they are against Islam itself as a religion, that it’s evil, that it’s incompatible with the West, and this feeds into a whole other set of arguments that they make about the general Islamification of Britain.” Hope Not Hate estimate that the demonstrations, which have frequently descended into violence, have cost the taxpayer as much as £25 million in policing and have caused serious damage to community relations. “I was there in Leicester [in October 2010] when they managed to break through police lines,” says Tarry. “Around 500 managed to rampage through the city centre and attack a halal fast food restaurant, smashing windows and storming it. In terms of victimising a particular community in this way, we haven’t really seen this kind of behaviour since the days of the National Front.” “

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Quick Round Up on Straight Pride UK

This is just a quick summary for anyone coming late to this issue.

1. Oliver Hotham published a quick question-and-answer on a small grouping which pushes “straight pride”, whatever that would be.

OliverH1

2. Subsequently, they became annoyed and tried to intimidate him to remove the blog post. They even went to the extreme and sent Wordress a DMCA notice.

3. Naturally, as a comparatively poor student, Oliver Hotham, complied. He couldn’t afford the time nor the money to fight that action in a court. But he expressed his annoyance in a further blog post, The sordid tale of how I was censored by Straight Pride UK.

4. Straight Pride UK wanted that removed as well, piling on the pressure. But the Internet came to Oliver’s rescue.

5. I and many other bloggers reposted the material, invalidating any take down notice. Unless, of course, Straight Pride UK wanted to sue half of the Internet!

6. Activists on Twitter took notice of events and pointed out the homophobic sentiment underlying Straight Pride UK (expressing support for Putin’s anti-Gay laws). which led them to protecting their tweets, effectively censoring themselves! Under pressure they swapped Twitter accounts, but made the elementary mistake of leaving their old free.

Putin2

7. So Straight Pride UK was turned into a parody account with an associated web site, kindly donated by Craig T. Smith.

8. You might think that would be the end of it. Anyone sensible would lay low, lick their wounds and think about their strategy. NB: the individuals behind the original Straight Pride UK  are now using the @prideofstraight account on Twitter.

9. Instead they tried to intimidate the owner of the Straightprideuk.co.uk parody site, without success.

10. Now Twitter activists are re-tweeting with the #prideofstupid

11. The issue was picked up by various sections of the media:

The Guardian, WordPress pulls interview with anti-gay group Straight Pride UK.

Pink News, Straight Pride UK uses US copyright law to remove critical article.

Techcrunch, Straight Pride UK, A “Heterosexual Rights” Group, Sics The DMCA On A Journalist.

Gizmodo, The Most Convoluted DMCA Takedown Request of All Time.

Huff Post, Do the Rights of Straight People Need Defending?

Boing Boing, WordPress honours fraudulent copyright complaint from UK “straight rights” group, cooperates in censorship.

[This is a partial summary, may contain errors, typos or omissions so blame the author! I welcome intelligent corrections, but no DMCA notices please, as I ignore them and I am immune to libel proceedings too.]

PS: If you suffer from DNS issues, then please do visit the second parody site stupidprideuk.com

Update 1: Straight Pride seem a bit troubled and anxious, changing their Twitter account, again to @ofclstraightprd

So that is from @StraightPrideUK to @prideofstraight to @ofclstraightprd, what next week? Putin Pride?

I suspect there are some deep-seated issues at play there.

If they were not bigots I might feel sympathy for their neurotic behaviour, but as it is they need to be exposed for the closet homophobes they are.

Update 2: The plot thickens their new account @ofclstraightprd comes up with “Account suspended” on Twitter.

I can only assume that they have decided to give up social media, realising that they cannot impose their totalitarian and homophobic agenda on the rest of the Internet.

Or possibly they have retreated back to their cave, knuckles scraping on ground? Who knows?

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Censored Post: It’s Great When You’re Straight… Yeah

[Editor’s note: This is the censored post. It is available on Google cache.

I can not see Straight Pride UK trying to coerce Google, but they tried it on with a young blogger, Oliver Hotham. I suggest other bloggers re-post.

It is a polite interview with Straight Pride UK given every opportunity to make their case. A good example of freedom of speech.

But why I am reminded of attitudes found recently in Russia? Hmm. Soupy]

It’s Great When You’re Straight… Yeah

There has never been a better time to be gay in this country. LGBTI people will soon enjoy full marriage equality, public acceptance of homosexuality is at an all time high, and generally a consensus has developed that it’s really not that big of a deal what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms. The debate on Gay Marriage in the House of Commons was marred by a few old reactionaries, true, but generally it’s become accepted that full rights for LGBTI people is inevitable and desirable. Thank God.

But some are deeply troubled by this unfaltering march toward common decency, and they call themselves the Straight Pride movement.

Determined to raise awareness of the “heterosexual part of our society”, Straight Pride believe that a militant gay lobby has hijacked the debate on sexuality in this country, and encourage their members, among other things, to “come out” as straight, posting on their Facebook page that:

“Coming out as Straight or heterosexual in todays politically correct world is an extremely challenging experience. It is often distressing and evokes emotions of fear, relief, pride and embarrassment.”

I asked them some questions.

First of all, what prompted you to set up Straight Pride UK?

Straight Pride is a small group of heterosexual individuals who joined together after seeing the rights of people who have opposing views to homosexuality trampled over and, quite frankly, oppressed.

With the current political situation in the United Kingdom with Gay Marriage passing, everyone is being forced to accept homosexuals, and other chosen lifestyles and behaviours, no matter their opposing views. Straight Pride has seen people sued, and businesses affected, all because the homosexual community do not like people having a view or opinion that differs from theirs.

Are your beliefs linked to religion? How many of you derive your views from scripture?

Straight Pride aims are neutral and we do not follow religion, but we do support people who are oppressed for being religious. Only today, Straight Pride see that two homosexual parents are planning to sue the Church because they ‘cannot get what they want’. This is aggressive behaviour and this is the reason why people have strong objections to homosexuals.

You say that one of your goals is “to raise awareness of the heterosexual part of society”. Why do you feel this is necessary?

The Straight Pride mission is to make sure that the default setting for humanity is not forgotten and that heterosexuals are allowed to have a voice and speak out against being oppressed because of the politically correct Government.

Straight Pride feel need to raise awareness of heterosexuality, family values, morals, and traditional lifestyles and relationships.

Your website states that “Homosexuals have more rights than others”. What rights specifically do LGBTI people have that straight people are denied?

Homosexuals do currently have more rights than heterosexuals, their rights can trump those of others, religious or not. Heterosexuals cannot speak out against homosexuals, but homosexuals are free to call people bigots who don’t agree with homosexuality, heterosexuals, religious or not, cannot refuse to serve or accommodate homosexuals, if they do, they face being sued, this has already happened.

Straight Pride believe anyone should be able to refuse service and speak out against something they do not like or support.

There is a hotel in the south of England, called Hamilton Hall, this only accepts homosexuals, now if this is allowed, then hotels should have the choice and right to who they accommodate.

What has been the response to your campaign?

The response to Straight Pride’s formation has been as expected; hostile, threatening, and aggressive. Homosexuals do not like anyone challenging them or their behaviour.

We have had support from many people saying that if homosexuals can have a Pride March, and then equality should allow Heterosexuals to have one too. After all, the homosexual movement want everyone to have equality.

Why would you say that heterosexuality the “natural orientation”?

Heterosexuality is the default setting for the human race, this is what creates life, if everyone made the decision to be homosexual, life would stop. People are radicalised to become homosexual, it is promoted to be ‘okay’ and right by the many groups that have sprung up.

Marriage is a man and a woman, homosexuals had Civil Partnerships, which were identical to Marriage with all the same rights, they wanted to destroy Marriage and have successfully done so.

If you could pick one historical figure to be the symbol of straight pride (just as figures like Alan Turing, Judith Butler or Peter Tatchell would be for Gay Pride) which would you choose?

Straight Pride would praise Margaret Thatcher for her stance on Section 28, which meant that children were not taught about homosexuality, as this should not on the curriculum.

More recently, Straight Pride admire President Vladimir Putin of Russia for his stance and support of his country’s traditional values.

How do you react to anti-gay attacks and movements in Russia and parts of Africa?

Straight Pride support what Russia and Africa is doing, these country have morals and are listening to their majorities. These countries are not ‘anti-gay’ – that is a term always used by the Homosexual Agenda to play the victim and suppress opinions and views of those against it.

These countries have passed laws, these laws are to be respected and no other country should interfere with another country’s laws or legislation.

We have country wide events which our members attend, and ask people their opinions and views, on such event at Glastonbury this year was very positive with the majority of people we asked, replied they were happily heterosexual.

For the record, Straight Pride did not respond to these questions:

“Pride” movements such as Gay Pride and Black Pride were making the argument that the stigma against them meant that proclaiming their “pride” was an act of liberation from oppression. Can being heterosexually really compare?

A problem that Gay rights activists cite is the issue of bullying, and the effect this can have on young LGBT people. Do you think a similar problem exists with straight children being bullied by gay children?

I will obviously add to this if they do respond.

You can follow Straight Pride on Twitter here and see their Facebook page here.

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Oliver Hotham: The sordid tale of how I was censored by Straight Pride UK

[Reprinted from Oliver Hotham’s blog after threats from the Straight Pride UK group. I would suggest that other bloggers do the same, as a direct counter to this attempt at censorship and intimidation. Soupy]

Oliver Hotham writes:

“A few weeks ago, when thinking of interesting things I could write for this blog, I remembered a weird organisation that gathered some attention on the internet a month or two ago.

The organisation is called Straight Pride UK. It’s a strange group which believes that the tide of Gay rights has gone too far, and that now heterosexuals have become the oppressed minority. Essentially their philosophy is spun from the same reactionary cloth as “Men’s Rights activists” – the notion that, having essentially run Western society for most its existence, progressive demands that Christian white straight males share some of their total grasp on power is somehow a removal of their rights.

Anyway, I wrote to Straight Pride asking that they answer some questions. Stipulating that I was “a freelance journalist”, I sent them some questions, about what they do and what they believe.

About a week later they responded with an attached document with the title “press release”. I went through the questions, corrected the horrendous grammar, and organised it so it coherently answered the questions I’d posed. I also noted that two rather pointed questions I’d asked, regarding the problem of the bullying of LGBTI youth and the nature of other “pride” movements, had not been answered. I sent them an email about this, saying that I’d give them the opportunity to respond but, if they didn’t, I’d “make it clear in the article” that they avoided the questions. They didn’t get back to me for 2 days, which I thought ample time to write two sentences.

Fully satisfied that my journalism had made them look like the arses they are, I hit the publish button, and sat back, feeling all together really pleased with myself. I called the article “It’s great to be straight… yeah”, too, which I thought acutely summed up their philosophy and referenced a mid-90s dance album I rather like.

The article gained a lot of traction, too. A friend and I put it on Reddit, and I got thousands of hits. In my short career of attempting to become a respectable journalist, it was one of the most successful things I’d done.

Then came the email from Straight Pride UK’s press officer, Nick Steiner:

“It has been brought to my attention that you have published the email that I sent you to, you did not state this in your email request, nor you did have consent to do this.

I therefore request that you take down the article that you have placed on your blog.

You have 7 days in which to do this, failing this I shall submit a DMCA to WordPress to have it removed.”

I laughed this off, and responded to the email arguing their case was absurd:

1) There was no indication on the “press release” they sent me that it was copyrighted material. (I’m no expert on copyright law, but I do know you have to make clear on the material that it is protected). Nor did they make any mention of the fact that anything they gave me was copyrighted.

2) I wrote “I’m a journalist and I’d like to ask you some questions” in my first email. If you’re a press officer and you don’t know what this means, then you really aren’t qualified to have your job.

3) In my email about the questions they didn’t answer, I made reference to “the article”. If that isn’t an indication that I’m going to publish something then I really don’t what is.

I thought this was a good enough defence, and I assumed this would all be swept under the carpet, and that their rather sad attempts to remove my article because it made them look stupid were all for naught.

I was wrong – within a few days WordPress caved to them without question, removing my article and telling me if I tried to publish it again I’d be suspended, but that I could challenge the takedown of my article. I responded that yes, I very much would like to, and was emailed a form I’d have to fill in. One of the requirements was that I “consent to local federal court jurisdiction, or if overseas, to an appropriate judicial body”.

I’m a student. I don’t have the money, time, or patience to go through with potentially having to go to court over this. All in all, I just could not be bothered to challenge the decision.

So I accepted the takedown, feeling thoroughly shit about myself.

Then I get another email from Straight Pride UK, which pissed me off even more. They demanded I take down the material (which I had) but also that I:

“…remove all references to Straight Pride UK, The Straight Forward Project, along with images, and links, from your Blog.”

Ok.

So not content with forcing me to eat a shit sandwich on dubious grounds and making me take down my work, they now demand that I never write anything about them again. Are these people kidding? Who the hell do they think they are that they can simply demand that I not write about them again, in an email with the pointedly sinister name of their solicitors at the bottom?

This, for me, was the final straw, and why I decided to write this article.

Because I find it absurd that this silly little group can simply demand that remove all my references to them because it makes them look bad. What are they afraid of? Their views make them look stupid enough, why the need to so aggressively bully and harass me? Why do they care so much?

And are they so cowardly that an article criticising them is enough to attempt to pursue a tenuous legal case against the author?

It really boggles the mind.”

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Storify, Richard Dawkins Problem With Muslims

Just started using Storify as a quick and easy platform for relaying exchanges on Twitter. It is not too bad, when it works. Storify seems to have an issue on Chromium with “This webpage has a redirect loop”. Hope it is a teething problem. Nevertheless, these particular stories may enlighten readers:

Holocaust Denial at Anonymous

Richard Dawkins, Insensitivity And the English Defence League
anon2a
A few observations, as I found a great similarity in these variations of racism:

The highlighted Anonymous accounts and their allies would probably claim that they are merely “anti-Zionists”, which could be true but they also have a strong line in disseminating antisemitism.

Whilst I do not believe that anti-Zionism is antisemitism, it is not coincidental that rantings involving antisemitic themes are found in proximity to anti-Zionism. Nor is it mere chance that many strident “anti-Islamists” around the periphery of English Defence League are found to have a connection to the British Far Right or worse.

Equally, when looking at the background to Richard Dawkins’ foolish mistake of re-tweeting from one EDL sympathiser, there were parallels between fanatical “anti-Zionists” and maniac “anti-Islamists”.

Both of these creeds as exercised by these extremists are, almost, inoculated against spotting racism.

Whereas “anti-Islamists” of this order rarely perceive any racism towards Muslims, their compatriots within the sphere of anti-Zionism find it incredibly hard, next to impossible, to spot modern antisemitism.

My research found that “anti-Islamists” had a catalogue of standard arguments which bore a striking similarity to those found on the Far Right. Naturally, few of these themes stood up to any serious scrutiny and had the stench of refried racism from the 1970s.

Studying the crossover on Twitter (an imperfect but readily available sampling) not all obsessive “anti-Islamists” were from the Right of the political spectrum. However, it became very apparent that those not imbued with Hard or Far Right thinking could not spot an EDL sympathiser amongst them, if their life depended on it.

Which is very troubling.

Elsewhere, mainstream anti-Zionists have yet to address with any intellectual competency the question of periodic outburst of antisemitism amongst supposed “anti-Zionists”. Greta Berlin’s eruption of racism was hardly coincidental and only one example.

In short, neither of these political trends can adequately explain the presence and persistence of hardened racism in their midst.
Dawkins2a
Bringing us back neatly to Professor Richard Dawkins. Predictably he went from general antagonistic statements against Islam to swift digs at Muslims in general. A past supporter of Dawkins, Tom Chivers at the Torygraph takes him to task:

Treating all Muslims as featureless representatives of their religion (as Dawkins does when saying things like “Who the hell do these Muslims think they are? How has UCL come to this: cowardly capitulation to Muslims? Tried to segregate sexes in debate between @LKrauss1 and some Muslim or other”) is – well, it may not be directly racist, but it’s certainly not the sort of thing Martin Luther King would admire. The content of their character, and all that.

Because Dawkins has gone from criticising the religion itself to criticising Muslims, as a vast bloc. ” [My emphasis.]

The Guardian provides two reflective articles on Professor Dawkins’ unhealthy discharges:

Richard Dawkins criticised for Twitter comment about Muslims.

Richard Dawkins’ tweets on Islam are as rational as the rants of an extremist Muslim cleric.

Martin Robbins at the News Statesman argues:

” “Islam isn’t a race,” is the “I’m not racist, but. . .” of the Atheist movement, a tedious excuse for lazy thinking that is true enough to be banal while simultaneously wrong in any meaningful, real-world sense.

Yes, congratulations, you can read a dictionary. Well done.

But it’s possible for a statement to be both true and wrong. “Homeopathy worked for me” is one example (as is its inverse): it may genuinely make people feel better, emotionally or through the placebo effect; but it doesn’t work in any medical sense.”[My emphasis.]

Final thoughts, people need to decide seriously if they are against certain particular forms of racism and rather lazy or ambivalent on the rest?

Do you oppose racism towards Muslims? Do you apply the same standards when Jews are the target of racism? Etc

Are you universally opposed to racism or just selectively?

If the latter, then you are not really an antiracist/nonracist. Whatever else, that is not the company to keep.

Update 1: The Indy covers it too, Richard Dawkins Muslim jibe sparks Twitter backlash.

Nelson Jones makes some sharp points and I imagine this last one will fly over Professor Dawkins’ head:

“A final point. The United States may boast almost as many Nobel Prize winners as the rest of the world put together, but it is also home to millions of diehard creationists. What has Richard Dawkins to say about that?”

Update 2: Professor Dawkins has replied without the restrictions of Twitter and 140 characters. Yet predictably, Professor Dawkins’ arguments do not engage with any intelligent criticism of his previous stupidity:

“…

Twitter’s 140 character limit always presents a tough challenge, but I tried to rise to it. Nobel Prizes are a pretty widely quoted, if not ideal, barometer of excellence in science.

I thought about comparing the numbers of Nobel Prizes won by Jews (more than 120) and Muslims (ten if you count Peace Prizes, half that if you don’t). This astonishing discrepancy is rendered the more dramatic when you consider the small size of the world’s Jewish population. However, I decided against tweeting that comparison because it might seem unduly provocative (many Muslim “community leaders” are quite outspoken in their hatred of Jews) and I sought a more neutral comparison as more suitable to the potentially inflammable medium of Twitter.

It is a remarkable fact that one Cambridge college, Trinity, has 32 Nobel Prizes to its credit. That’s three times as many as the entire Muslim world even if you count Peace Prizes, six times as many if you don’t. I dramatised the poverty of Muslim scientific achievement, and the contrast with their achievements in earlier centuries, in the following brief tweet: “All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.” [My emphasis.]

Why pick on Muslims? You could arbitrarily pick on plenty of categories of people that have achieved far less than Trinity College, Cambridge

Again, fair point. Somebody mentioned redheads (neither he nor I have figures on redheaded scientific achievement but we get the point). I myself tweeted that Trinity Cambridge has more Nobel Prizes than any single country in the world except the USA, Britain (tautologically), Germany and France. You could well think there was something gratuitous in my picking on Muslims, were it not for the ubiquity of the two positive boasts with which I began. Redheads (and the other hypothetical categories we might mention) don’t boast of their large populations and don’t boast of their prowess in science.”


Update 3: Glad I am not the only atheist cheesed off, Richard Dawkins’ Anti-Muslim Tweets Spark Furor, Even Among Atheist Supporters:

“Even some of his admirers were disgusted, as Tom Chivers published a blog on the Telegraph titled, “Please be quiet, Richard Dawkins, I’m begging as a fan.” He makes the point that Dawkins has strayed from providing critiques of religious beliefs and practices grounded in logic to blindly attacking faiths as monolithic groups, manipulating facts to further an agenda.

The Atlantic published “A Short History of Richard Dawkins vs. The Internet” that thoroughly chronicles Dawkins’ long history of anti-Islamic speaking and writing, as well as his admiration for Geert Wilders, the notoriously far-right and anti-Muslim Dutch politician.”

This is worth reading on its own, A Short History of Richard Dawkins vs. The Internet.

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Antisemitism, Anonymous And Twitter

Finding antisemitism on Twitter is easy, but it’s surprising how few attempt to stop it, as witnessed by the 170,000 plus followers of the Anonymous Operations account.

Remembering that wherever you find racism, sexism and the degradation of women is often not far behind.

k1

My first storify looks briefly at the issues, Holocaust Denial at Anonymous.

Elsewhere, there is a nice tumblr account which tries to track this form of racism.

Also, the new humourously entitled Zionist Entity blog aims to tackle antisemitism and supports Kestrels.

Finally, Oliver Hotham is blogging and always worth a read.

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Iain Duncan Smith Caught Lying By The Economist

Politicians do not like being told that they lie.

The English language hides the necessary directness beneath such wording as disingenuous, economical with the truth or actualité. But even the Economist, frequently feriously supportitive of the Tories, has conceded that Iain Duncan Smith is a liar, in a roundabout fashion:

”And this is the only the latest in a series of questionable press releases. Earlier this month, Mr Duncan Smith claimed that the benefits cap had encouraged 8,000 people to get jobs. Yet as Jonathan Portes, the director of the National Institute for Economics and Social Research pointed out, the Department for Work and Pensions has never made an estimate of the behavioural effects of the benefit cap. At best, Mr Duncan Smith’s figures simply showed that 8,000 people who were to be affected had got jobs. Perhaps some did because of the benefits cap—but we have no idea.

Even before that, there was the matter of 878,000 people who apparently dropped their claims for disability benefits when faced with a doctors test over the past four years, as the old Incapacity Benefit system was replaced with the new Employment and Support Allowance. Again, this figure was absurd. It took no account of the churn—the number of people who come off benefits each month anyway. The most glaring error was that the figures completely ignored the fact that a lot of Incapacity Benefit and ESA claims are short-term—and so a lot of claimants simply got better before facing the test.

All of these are technical, even wonkish objections. “Yes, we twisted the statistics a little”, I can hear a hypothetical Conservative MP saying, “but so does Labour, and the fundamental truth is that the benefits system costs too much and is need of reform.”

Well, quite. The welfare system does indeed need reform. But the whole point about government statistics is that they are meant to be at least sort of objective. Ministers can quote the ones which support their case—but they shouldn’t manipulate them and distort them to tell stories that aren’t actually true. There is plenty of evidence to support welfare reform without resorting to such disgraceful abuse of numbers.

But the problem is, they get away with it—they have done for a long time. Even before the election, Chris Grayling, then the shadow home secretary, was alleging that gun crime was soaring, using distorted data to prove his point. In fact, gun crime began its precipitous decline under Labour. Similarly, much of David Cameron’s “Broken Britain” rhetoric ignored—or denied—dramatic and unexpected improvements in social indicators. “[My emphasis.]

The Economist is too polite. I blame lying Tories, myself.

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National Secular Society: Occasionally Agitated

Lingering prejudice in Britain can bring out the worst in people. Such attitudes are not confined to thugs in the EDL or the BNP, rather are often found on the periphery of the Hard Right, spoken in polite tones and impeccable English.

More importantly, there is denial about racism towards ethnic minorities in Britain. Denial of the facts.

Recent examples of this form of negation were Douglas Murray’s extended rant in the Jewish Chronicle and Charles Moore’s piece. Sadiq Khan deals with it.

Notable in this trend was Andrew Gilligan’s hack journalism. It sought to deliberately play down racism in Britain and deny the evidence. Tim Fenton’s ably picks it apart, Gilligan’s Islamophobia Goof:

“…Gilligan to put out an article without him getting called out for a mixture of falsehood and misrepresentation. This is probably because falsehood and misrepresentation is exactly what he indulges in. And today he has been at it again, twisting the available facts to fit the Telegraph’s narrative, that the “Islamophobia Industry” is getting above itself.”[My emphasis.]

In all of these articles the conclusions were long decided upon, even before writing and the supposed evidence was shoehorned into place, each according to the authors’ particular bias.

It is all the more annoying when these slanted pieces are used as good coin.

NSS1a

The National Secular Society made such a mistake last week, using Gilligan’s suspect form of journalism, Muslims must be protected. Islam must not.

They should know better than use singular and questionable sources.

If the National Secular Society are truly interested in the welfare of Muslims and ethnic minorities in Britain then they should contact the groups monitoring prejudice against them, Tell MAMA.

Picking a single source, that has a clear bias against an antiracist organisation, was a sign of poor judgement by the National Secular Society. They should know better.

I would recommend that the National Secular Society and secularists read the [PDF] report: Anti-Muslim Hate Crime and the Far Right By Professor Nigel Copsey, Dr Janet Dack, Mark Littler and Dr Matthew Feldman.

Update 1:Tell MAMA’s response to the original article, National Secular Society & the ‘Money’ Shot Which Never Was!

“Furthermore, the flippant manner in which anti-Muslim prejudice is discarded, does a disservice to victims such as this woman, or this one. What is the worst element of all of these discussions, is that the victim’s voice is drowned out by figures, numbers and statistics. It would do the National Secular Society a world of good, if they simply took a few minutes out to listen to the stories of these Muslim women. For Amina, she is starting to put her life together against after 14 months of anguish. For Jamilah, the scars will never heal.”

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What Have the LibDems Done For Us?

libdems1

H/T: @joedgoldberg

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SWP Warned About Their Collusion with Antisemitism In 2005

[Editor’s note: I have taken the liberty of re-publishing an article by David Aaronovitch from 2005. There may be minor typos, if so they are my fault. It deserves to be read and re-read.]

I remember reading it at the time and thinking: surely no one can ignore this warning of collusion with antisemitism?

Yet the SWP did.

They actively colluded with and promoted an antisemite, Gilad Atzmon. They fended off any criticism, any questions or any reservations for some five years.

Collaboration with a racist was not an idle mistake by the SWP. It was a result of their political orientation, how the SWP see the world and in particular how they relate to Jews. It is a lesson which they still have not learnt.

(The material is the copyright of David Aaronovitch/The Times newspaper)

“June 28, 2005

How did the far Left manage to slip into bed with the Jew-hating Right?
David Aaronovitch

WHEN I WAS YOUNG, smug centrists used to tell me that the extremes of Right and Left would, extended far enough, meet somewhere round the back. And I never quite believed it. But here’s a story that seems to suggest that it really can happen. Indulge me . . .

First a recapitulation. The Respect Party of George Galloway famously turned in the best performance by a far-Left party since the Communists won two seats in 1945. Respect itself is mostly though not entirely a front for the semi-Trotskyist organisation called the Socialist Workers’ Party, or SWP. SWP members made up just under half of Respect’s candidates, SWP activists form the party’s main cadre and it is the SWP that drives the strategy, tactics and political platform of Respect.

When I was at college, the local SWP used to drive around in minibuses looking for members of the far Right to beat up. In those days the party had an uncompromising attitude towards those it decided were racists and fascists, throwing politicians such as Sir Keith Joseph into an adjacent sub-category and trying to get them banned from making speeches.

Next week the SWP begins the annual festival at which members, supporters and friends are spoken at and sung to on topics revolutionary and progressive. Marxism 2005 features grizzled Trots from the 1970s, Tony Benn, George Galloway, a poet or two and, for the third year running, billed at No 13 on the speaker’s list, a chap called Gilad Atzmon.

And that’s where the trouble starts. Atzmon is a well-known jazz-musician, an Israeli-born Jew and as the SWP has previously described him also a deliverer of fearless tirades against Zionism. But the tirades have got him into trouble with more than just the Jewish community. A Palestinian musician told me a couple of years ago that she would no longer work with Atzmon because, in her opinion, he was an anti-Semite. He had, somewhere, crossed the line.

In 2003, for instance, Atzmon, who makes many speeches and runs a very substantial website, said this about the idea of a global Jewish plot: We must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously.

Why? Because American Jewry makes any debate on whether the Protocols of the Elders of Zionitic forgery are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews do try to control the world, by proxy. So far they are doing pretty well for themselves at least.

So, he’s a silly boy advancing slightly dangerous arguments (or fearless tirades). And we might take no notice. It’s just that Atzmon does get about a bit gigs, meetings, university debates, and yet one of his heroes is an author and activist, Israel Shamir.

According to Atzmon, Shamir is a very civil and peaceful man and probably is the sharpest critical voice of Jewish power’ and Zionist ideology.

I first came across Shamir after I’d made a programme for Channel 4 on anti-Semitism in Islamic countries. In it I’d pointed out how the blood libel, the slanderous accusation that Jews killed gentiles for the blood, had travelled from medieval Europe to the Middle East. But was it slander? Shamir, who claims to be a Russian Jew from Jaffa, wrote a long article in response arguing that the Jews probably were guilty of kidnapping Christian children and drinking their blood. I was more than amazed.

Shamir both buys the world plot and has some very strange allies. For as long, he wrote, as Richard Perle sits in the Pentagon, Elie Wiesel brandishes his Nobel Prize, Mort Zuckerman owns the USA Today, Gusinsky bosses over Russian TV, Soros commands multi-billions of funds and Dershowitz teaches at Harvard, we need the voices of (David) Duke, (Justin) Raimondo, (Pat) Buchanan, (Horst) Mahler, (Nick) Griffin and of other anti-bourgeois nationalists. For those who don’t know, Mahler is ex-Baader Meinhof turned neo-Nazi, David Duke is a former leader of Ku Klux Klan and Nick Griffin is our very own Welshpool Duce.

And despite warnings about his true identity as a Swedish fascist, Shamir sits on the 16-person board of advisers of the international pro-Palestinian campaign organisation, Deir Yassin Remembered (DYR), named after a Palestinian village destroyed and ethnically cleansed in 1948 by the Zionist terror groups, Irgun and the Stern gang. DYR organises events that many of the great and good of the pro-Palestinian movement attend.

As it happens the Jewish UK Director of DYR, Paul Eisen, is a fan of Shamir’s, describing him as a man who has no trouble whatsoever in calling a Jew a Jew . . .

And Eisen is of Atzmon and Shamir’s mind concerning Jewish power. Last year he expressed the view that Jewish influence in America was not over its muscle and sinew but over its blood and its brain . . . Lists abound (though you have to go to some pretty unpopular websites to find them) of Jews, prominent in financial and cultural life.

It seems to have been on one of these unpopular websites that Eisen made a fatal connection. He discovered the site of one Ernst Zundel.

Zundel, wrote Eisen, is a gentle, good-humoured man . . . Zundel understands people and . . . he understands history. Zundel, a German-born Canadian, is not just a modern saint, but also the distributor of the booklet, Did Six Million Really Die? And a co-publisher of the rather heroically titled, The Hitler We Loved and Why.

In an article published last December Eisen explained what he’d learnt from kindly Ernst. No one is able to show us, at Auschwitz or anywhere else, argued Eisen, even one of these chemical slaughterhouses. No one is capable of describing to us their exact appearance or workings. Neither a trace nor a hint of their existence is to be found . . . Nor would it be the first time that Jews have accepted and propagated stories, true, false or a mixture of both, of their suffering.

It was Eisen on the Holocaust that sent the balloon up for Atzmon at Marxism 2005. Because Atzmon firstly circulated Eisen’s Holocaust-denying article, then told critics defiantly that, my take on the subject is slightly different than Paul’s one. For me, Atzmon continued, cretinously, the Holocaust like any other historical narrative is a dynamic process of realisation and interpretation.

Not a few left-wing Jews who style themselves anti-Zionist have been horrified by the Atzmon-Eisen-Shamir business. And a couple of weeks ago they began to exert pressure on the SWP to disinvite the over-fearless tirader. But the SWP it of smash racism has refused. The party issued a statement. It was, it admitted, a bit worried about Atzmon, because: We think that some of the formulations on his website might encourage his readers to feel that he is blurring the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. But, it nevertheless concluded: We do not believe that Gilad should be banned’ from performing or speaking. No Platform’ is a principle that the Left has always reserved for fascists and organised racists.

There are a couple of questions left begging there. Are the readers, in the SWP’s usually magisterial and definite opinion, right to feel that the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is being blurred, or not? And is Atzmon being exempted from banishment because he is merely a disorganised racist?

Or is it that an influential section of the far Left has, in this instance and on this issue, completely and disgracefully lost its political and moral compass?

david.aaronovitch@thetimes.co.uk”

Continue reading

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A Set of Experiences, President Obama: Trayvon Martin

Pundits across the Left, Right and Centre have discussed the Trayvon Martin case. Far from the US, in Europe and Britain it has not escaped comment.

Yet few have put their finger on the issue as President Obama does. This short clip touches on one neglected aspect: experiences.

An extract:

“I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me — at least before I was a senator. There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

And I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear. The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws — everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case. “

Update 1: Trayvon Martin’s parents show immense dignity at this harrowing time.

Update 2: Huff Post has a poll on the outcome of the trial.

Update 3: Many see this latest injustice as another Emmett Till, Blair L.M. Kelley explains:

“This time we are mourning for a boy from Miami, visiting his father in Sanford, Florida, unaware of the racial terrain in a neighborhood with some crime and an overzealous neighborhood watchman, driven by assumptions. While I am almost sure Trayvon Martin’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sabrina Fulton, talked with him about being cautious and respectful if approached by the police, I’m sure none of their advice prepared him for being followed by George Zimmerman.

We are mourning because Martin’s death at the end of Zimmerman’s gun was initially dismissed by the police as a “Stand Your Ground” case of self-defense, Florida’s version of an ALEC-sponsored law that, unlike most self-defense laws does not require that self-defense is the last resort of someone who cannot escape the altercation. We are mourning that any fistfight might turn into justifiable homicide.

We are proud that Martin’s parents had the courage to publicize their son’s death in order to push for a trial, but we are mourning because unequal justice still seems to be the norm. We are disheartened because we know a Florida woman, Marissa Alexander, is not allowed to stand her ground against an ex-husband with a documented history of abuse, but Zimmerman was found by the court to be justified in believing he needed to kill an unarmed stranger.

And sadly, despite all the changes that have occurred over the past five decades, many of us are mourning, worried about what we should tell to our children that might just keep them safe, as if some set of behaviors could prevent them from being perceived as a threat. We mourn for all our boys.”

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Douglas Murray, The English Defence League And The Jewish Chronicle

That is Douglas Murray umming and ahing when asked about supporting the EDL. His inability to criticise the Far Right thugs in the EDL indicates something deeply troubling about his sentiments.

In that wider context, I was exceedingly disappointed to see this week that the Jewish Chronicle ran an article by this Hard Right commentator. I was even more disturbed to see that they allowed Murray to attack an anti-racist campaign, Tell MAMA. I am at a loss as to understand why such an editorial error took place and why the JC would publish such scurrilous nonsense.

Murray On The English Defence League

I had hoped that, whoever commissioned Murray, would know the questionable nature of his views, particularly concerning the English Defence League. It cannot have been beyond the JC to research Murray’s slippery outlook. In the above video, Murray is all over the place, rather than give a straight answer we hear “just don’t know…it is complex…benefit of the doubt… take enormous care…”. Douglas Murray is unable or unwilling to come out unequivocally against the neofascists in the EDL.

Murray could not answer, in any satisfactory way, the simple question “Should we support the EDL?”

I find that exceedingly troubling, as should anyone opposed to racism and neofascism. More importantly, the JC must answer the question, do they share Murray’s ambiguity towards the EDL? Or was this just an editorial oversight?

But, if the JC’s editorial staff are as ill-informed about the nature of the English Defence League as Murray clearly is, then this video of EDL supporters should help clear up the matter.

We should not forget the violent criminality connected to English Defence League members and supporters. Or their recent threats to Andrew Neil.

The CST and Tell MAMA

This is the Community Security Trust commenting on Tell MAMA‘s first annual report:

“The Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) group, led by Fiyaz Mughal of Faith Matters, has issued its first annual report on anti-Muslim hate crimes.

Tell MAMA’s findings include the following:

• 632 anti-Muslim hate incidents reported March 2012-March 2013
• Muslim women are the victims in 58% of all incidents
• Victims range from a five-year-old child to an 89-year-old pensioner,
• 74% of incidents take place on-line,
• 6% of incidents involve attacks on mosques/property,
• 5% of victims are white converts to Islam,
• 75% of perpetrators are male,
• Far Right BNP/EDL supporters linked to over half (54%) of all cases,
• 23 arrests, 18 prosecutions (cases pending),
• Trend of rising Islamophobia, recorded by YouGov figures (7 March)

CST is proud to have helped Tell MAMA to establish and professionalise itself. BBC News carries a good summary of the report. This includes CST’s public support:

CST is glad that our work countering anti-Semitism has helped Tell Mama provide the Muslim community with a proper mechanism for reporting and understanding anti-Muslim hate crimes.

It has taken CST nearly 30 years of focus and professionalism to get to where we are today, so what Tell Mama has achieved in just one year is very impressive.

We wish Tell Mama every success for the future; and if our joint co-operation helps break down barriers between British Muslims and Jews, then all the better.”[My emphasis.]

Murray’s Corrosive Views

Marko Attila Hoare provides a fair summary of Murray’s dubious political connections and attitudes. Murray was deemed even too toxic and Right Wing for the Conservative Party, Paul Goodman: Why the Conservative frontbench broke off relations with Douglas Murray – and what happened afterwards.

Lessons Of The Past

I do hope that the JC editorial staff reflect on their mistake of allowing Douglas Murray to soil the Jewish Chronicle and do not repeat this grave error, ever. We should have learnt the lessons of the 1930s. The JC should be promoting antiracist campaigns, not using pundits with an axe to grind to attack them. The JC must understand the dire need of combating racism faced by all ethnic minorities.

Next time, I would hope that the JC would be wise enough to ask the CST about Tell MAMA, and not those on the political fringes of the Hard Right.

PS: I am getting some abusive and aggressive comments from Far Righters in the moderation queue. New readers should make an effort to read, digest and familiarise themselves with the comments policy on this blog.

Update 1: Jessica Elgot reminds us, Women Targeted In Anti-Muslim Attacks, More Than Half By Far Right Groups.

Update 2: Last year Matthew Goodwin pointed out, Far Right Violence: More Needs to be Done.

Update 3: Shiraz Maher puts many fine arguments:

“In recent weeks, a Muslim group called Tell Mama has come in for severe and unfair criticism. Modelled on CST, Tell Mama has been assisted by it in setting up to monitor anti-Muslim sentiment. The group was subjected to a ferocious and unfounded assault by the Sunday Telegraph who accused it of “scaremongering” and artificially inflating the level of hostility directed towards Muslims following Rigby’s murder.

Tell Mama is new and, though gauche in many respects, it is badly needed. It was established by Fiyaz Mughal, who led the “Muslims Against antisemitism” campaign. Unlike most Muslim groups, Tell Mama also records intra-Muslim sectarian attacks. More importantly, it replaces the Muslim Safety Forum, an extremist group dominated by Islamists who support Hamas.

It is undeserving of the insidious claims levelled against it. British Jews already know the outstanding contribution CST makes to their community and will recognise the growing need for Muslims to have a similar organisation. This is why CST has offered Tell Mama extensive support.”

Update 4: In 2009 James Brandon provided background to Murray’s mindset:

“Finally, there is, of course, Douglas Murray, “Britain’s only neoconservative”, who has often failed to distinguish Islam from Islamism. In just one speech, for example, Murray referred to the “violence, intimidation and thuggery of Islam” and “the problem of Islam”. Like Steyn, Murray has also represented Muslims as a collective threat, referring ominously to the “demographic time-bomb which will soon see a number of our largest cities fall to Muslim majorities”. He concluded that “conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board” – a phrase that could easily be interpreted as a call for the collective punishment of Muslims.”

Update 5: Matthew Feldman hit the nail on the head, Centre-right columnists are legitimising the EDL.

Update 6: This is helpful in understanding the data, FAQ’s to the Teesside University Report Launch on TELL MAMA Data.

Update 7: This 1997 PDF summary from the Runnymede Trust is useful, Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All. See the closed and open views of Islam, which is exceedingly relevant in this instance.

Update 8: This scholarly report is a fine antidote to the Hard Right’s dismissal of anti-Muslim racism, Anti-Muslim Hate Crime & the Far Right by Prof. Nigel Copsey, Dr Janet Dack, Mark Littler & Dr Matthew Feldman.

Update 9: A handy Google map detailing recent attacks on mosques.

Update 10: This week, BBC Question Time has chosen Murray as one of their panelists. Expect the usual torrent from him.

Update 11: Rachel Shabi makes many strong arguments:

“t’s a symptom of the febrile atmosphere around Islam, this ridiculous furore over a timeless spiritual occurrence across the Muslim world. But it obviously has a much more serious and troubling context. In late June a home-made bomb was found at a mosque in Walsall, from which 150 people were evacuated. Police are also investigating arson attacks a few weeks earlier on an Islamic centre in north London and a mosque in Grimsby, which was targeted with petrol bombs as worshippers prayed inside. Last Sunday a suspicious package was destroyed at a mosque in Liverpool, and a Muslim cemetery in Newport, south Wales was desecrated with swastikas. And last Wednesday saw the spraying of yet more Nazi symbols on a mosque in Redditch, Worcestershire.

These are just a few of more than a dozen recent racist attacks on mosques. And that’s before we get to the death threats, taunts and spitting; the forced hijab removing; and the depositing of pig heads outside Muslim homes. Such incidents are believed to be widely under-reported – although the monitoring group Tell Mama UK says there were 212 hate incidents in the week following Lee Rigby’s murder in Woolwich

And yet, rather than recognise how alarming and frightening this vicious spike in anti-Muslim attacks truly is, sections of the British media have been engaged in trying to underplay it. When Tell Mama UK reported this rise in attacks after Woolwich, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail both pushed out reports suggesting fakery.”

Update 12: Mehdi Hasan takes on a petty Spectator contributor: Douglas Murray, the EDL, Dodgy Videos and Me.

Update 13: Douglas Murray’s fans extend across the Atlantic, the ill named American Thinker comes to his aid in a rambling piece:

“Like so many other people, I found Mehdi Hasan’s arrogant and smug words repulsive. (Hasan is arrogant and smug most of the time. What do you expect from a public schoolboy?) But they didn’t repulse me half as much as his later claims that all his critics took his words ‘out of context’! Ah! That old Muslim chestnut — out of context. You know, as in all the negative and violent passages in the Koran always being cited ‘out of context’. That’s strange. Have you noticed that the positive Koranic passages (of which there are few) are always quoted in context? To be accurate, Muslims never mention the ‘necessary context’ required for any citation of the positive passages.”

My guess is that American Thinker has some, er, issues with Muslims in general and is probably soft on the EDL.

Update 14: Knock me down with a feather!

Pam Geller writes for the American Thinker and uses it to drum up support for the EDL.

Elsewhere, that dreary rag does a PR exercise for the English Defence League:

“The war for freedom of speech in Australia and the U.K. was discussed by Debbie Robinson, President of Q Society in Australia; Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll of the English Defense League (EDL); and George Igler of the Discourse Institute in the U.K. It was astonishing to listen to both Robinson and Carroll share how their small town in England is one of many communities where Muslims have been moving in over the last twenty years; the Muslims have grown so large in numbers and influence that both the police and the Brits are intimidated, and many have left.

They made the argument that Americans should not fall for the idea that this can’t possibly happen in the U.S. with a Constitution that guarantees freedom of speech and religion. This is what the British people also thought, Britain being the home of the Magna Carta. How wrong they were.

Mr. Carroll dramatically held up two British newspapers with headlines that are testimony to the degree of Muslim influence the English are living under today and the loss of their individual freedoms. They read: NO RIGHT TO WEAR A CROSS AT WORK and SPEAK UP FOR CHRISTIANTY PM TELLS ARCHBISHOP, both front-page stories in the U.K.’s Daily Express.

These brave gents refuse to leave their homes in spite of the fact that their country is now in the second stage of Islamic transformation.” [My emphasis.]

But it is hardly surprising that right-wing conservatives are found in the company of neofascists, or that they defend them. The pity is that the American Thinker deliberately omitted the criminal convictions and background of the EDL leaders.

Hope not hate reminds us The BNP past of the EDL leader.

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