Pam Geller

Rebranding British Neofascism And The EDL

There has been much talk of Tommy Robinson (AKA Stephen Lennon) leaving the EDL. Some believe it is just a put on, whilst others believe his “conversion” is genuine. My own view is that it is merely a rebranding of British neofascism, which has constantly tried to gain ground in the wider world by dumping its unsavoury elements.

This approach has been a constant since the 1950s and Tyndall running around in Nazi gear.
TyndallNazi1
It is conceivable there maybe the odd occasion when an active hardcore racist or neofascist gives up their prior beliefs, and that is to be welcomed. However, when that happens there is normally a severe break with the past. A severing of old ties and clear breakage with former repulsive opinions.

I notice that has not occurred with Lennon. But rather than express my own skepticism I think many others do it better.

Alex Andreou’s Don’t be fooled by Tommy Robinson’s political sleight-of-hand is superb:

“There is a pattern of behaviour here. Robinson is doing what leaders of far-right movements have always done and continue to do. Like shyster businessmen, they set up one firm that serves their goals, then declare it insolvent and set up another one with a different name – each time creaming the profit of press coverage and a small shift of the political landscape.

This is exactly the modus operandi of such factions. From the British Union of Fascists to the British People’s party, the Action party, the National Front, the Flag Group, the New National Front, the BNP and the EDL, the far-right throbs and expands, blooms, then folds into itself and subdivides like an amorphous but sentient blob from a 1950s B movie. It reinvents itself constantly until it finds the marketable packaging, charismatic personnel, economic conditions and public mood within which it can thrive. In the process it creates new and unusual vacant spaces in our political consciousness that existing or newly formed parties scramble to fill. The entire manoeuvre is designed to inexorably drag the Overton window to the right, making the intolerable, accepted and the intolerant, acceptable.”

(more…)

Google’s Tax, Awful Pam Geller And The Census

Google didn’t pay a lot of tax last year, according to Mashable.

The truly awful Pam Geller, friend of the English Defence League, was on Russell Brand’s TV show and surprise, surprise she lied:

“BRANDX TRANSCRIPT.

Russell: “Do you believe President Obama supports jihad against America?”
Pamela: “Only in Libya. . . . [He's] not pro-jihad.”

FACT CHECK. On her blog, Pamela has written that “one thing is for sure: [Barack] Hussein [Obama] is a muhammadan. He’s not insane ………..he wants jihad to win.”

The Daily Mail and Home County types are having a fit about the latest British census, whilst one family of scroungers are planning a slap up Christmas.

Ripped-Off Britons shows how UK national debt isn’t as big as the Tories make out.

Open democracy had a good report from Oliver Huitson, How the BBC betrayed the NHS: an exclusive report on two years of censorship and distortion.

Anti-Muslim Fear Mongering

A piece in Wired has highlighted how fringe organisations stoke up fear with ant-Muslim sentiment in the US:

“A study published by a sociologist has revealed that fear-mongering non-governmental anti-Muslim organisations have been heavily influencing US media since 9/11, their messages seeping into news articles and television reporting and drawing their ethos from the fringes, straight into the mainstream.

What’s perhaps most troubling about the results is how these minor groups, which would ordinarily receive little or no air time, have gained an element of respect that has led to them receiving more funding and coupling with influential bodies. Their influence is such that they have even been able to paint mainstream Muslim organisations as radical, says the study.

“The vast majority of organisations competing to shape public discourse about Islam after the September 11 attacks delivered pro-Muslim messages, yet my study shows that journalists were so captivated by a small group of fringe organisations that they came to be perceived as mainstream,” the paper’s author, University of North Carolina assistant professor of sociology Christopher Bail, told Wired.co.uk. “

I can’t say I am surprised given the activities of Pam Geller and Robert Spencer, which I have covered before.

In Britain, MAMA is the organisation to contact in the event of racism or bigotry towards Muslims. They can be contacted at, phone: 0800 456 1226, text: 01157070007, email info@tellmamauk.org or on Twitter at @tellmamauk.

The original paper from Dr. Bail, “The Fringe Effect: Civil Society Organizations and the Evolution of Media Discourse about Islam,” American Sociological Review, 77(7) is available as a PDF here.

Support Mona Eltahawy

I follow Mona Eltahawy on Twitter and she comes across as a smart, committed and principled woman.

She is on trial for, justifiably in my opinion, defacing a bigoted poster.

I have covered this before, these posters were instigated by Pam Geller, who readers will remember is a great supporter of the EDL and is trying to raise money for its jailed leader, Stephen Lennon.

Ms. Eltahawy was arrested in September 2012 and held for some 22 hours.

The Guardian reports:

“Writer and activist Mona Eltahawy appeared in court on Thursday on charges of criminal mischief for spray-painting an anti-Muslim poster in a New York City subway station.

Eltahawy was offered a plea deal but chose to go to trial for charges of criminal mischief, making graffiti and possession of an instrument of graffiti.

“I actually look forward to standing trial, because I acted out of principle and I’m proud of what I did and I will spray-paint that ad again in a second,” Eltahawy told the Guardian.

Eltahawy was arrested in September for spray-painting a poster paid for by the Anti-Muslim American Freedom Defense Initiative. The posters appeared in 10 New York subway stations and read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man,” and “Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

Following her arrest, Eltahawy was held in jail for 22 hours, longer than her detention in Egypt during the Arab spring. During the protests, she suffered two broken bones during arrest by Egyptian riot police.

Eltahawy said she was treated fairly in court proceedings but she and her lawyer believe her 22 hours overnight in jail were unjust.

“I don’t think I was treated fairly overall, because one of the points my attorney is making and has requested paperwork to look into is why four other people who were arrested with me that same night – who put stickers on an ad at another subway station – why they received DATs [Desk Appearance Tickets] and were sent home and I spent the night in jail.”

I hope she gets off and that these awful posters are taken down.

A Damp Round Up Of World News

Lighter blogging than expected, so it’s a good time for a roundup.

Tom points to David Cameron’s greed, Cameron is the first PM to pocket private rent while living at number 10.

Bob from Brockley argues that the slaughter in Syria is not really covered in the Western media with any vigour. The old adage of, if it bleeds it leads, doesn’t always applied to certain parts of the Middle East.

Sexism down under, as Julia Gillard rips into her conservative opponent.

Owen Jones on Hugo.

To quote Carl Packman: “Why are @GeorgeGalloway and Ken Livingstone silent about their employer giving so many anti-Semites a platform? …”

Elsewhere, Ruskin College is accused of academic vandalism and destroying its own historical records.

Battle of the ads in NYC, the campaign to counter Pam Geller’s bigoted nonsense.

Fit for work? Don’t believe it.

The statistics are frightening: I missed it but the Mirror pointed it out in April 2012. Chris Tattershall’s treatment was atrocious.

“Panorama also revealed that between January and August last year, on average 32 people died every week who the government had declared could be helped back into work in the medium term. “

Malala Yousafzai and the Taliban. As CNN reports:

“The Taliban controlled Malala’s valley for years until 2009, when the military cleared it in an operation that also evacuated thousands of families. Last year, Malala told CNN she feared “being beheaded by the Taliban because of my passion for education. During their rule, the Taliban used to march into our houses to check whether we were studying or watching television.” She described how she used to hide her books under her bed, fearing a house search by the Taliban.”

Norm on the Guardian’s pandering. The Beeb’s Malala Yousafzai: Portrait of the girl blogger. Related, the Safe World for Women campaign has a message. Alex Andreou is sharp on the Tories:

“Last year, he framed his speech with “Britannia didn’t rule the waves with her armbands on”. This year he says “it is time to sink or swim”. An elegant, if unwitting, indication of how his thinking has moved on; from foolhardy champion swimmer to panicked doggy-paddler. The UK economy is fast becoming a small makeshift raft, cobbled together from antiquated dogma, U-turns and fiascos, adrift in a sea of global uncertainty. Selling off the planks to passing sharks is not a solution. When the water is ankle-deep, crew and passengers look to the captain for action, not regurgitated rhetoric, however deftly delivered. All he can do is stand there and shout passionately “The Free Market will save us! Enterprise will save us! Aspiration will save us!” Abstract, deified, neoliberal concepts without a smidgeon of policy, detail or budget to back them up. I recognised his speech for what it was: A drowning man’s gurgling prayer. “

Immigration detention centres in Britain. Bradley Burston’s appeal:

“Send a message. The asylum seekers want nothing more than to live productive lives and contribute to this society. It makes much better economic sense to integrate asylum seekers into work places and schools, than it does to waste millions on building, maintaining, and operating centers for endless detention of non-criminals and their children. “

Nikolas Kozloff’s Chomsky, Ali, and the failure to challenge the authoritarian left is damning.

Some say Keynes was right? The IMF?

Trending swastikas? Twitter shows that antisemitism is not dead, not even by half.

Atos and Scotland, I must start reading the Daily Record.

When next you meet a Press TV admirer remind them of how it openly pushes the Far and Extreme Right, plus a whole host of nasty racists.

Julian Assange and leaving Sweden.

Topically, sexual harassment and the 21st century.

Didn’t  anyone see this coming? Jean-Marie Le Pen backs Marine on kippah ban.

The UK Human Rights Blog is always worth reading, in particular, their post on Back in the spotlight: the detention of mentally ill asylum seekers.

In cult news, Scientology and the Nation of Islam. Even the free-wheeling Economist thinks Mitt Romney’s foreign policy is weak:

“In truth, his speech, though grave and stern in its delivery, was pretty short on policies that differ greatly from Mr Obama’s.”

B’Tselem’s camera project.

How a society treats minorities, women and rape victims is emblematic of its priorities.

Nick Lowles on football and how not to tackle racism.

Finally, lest we forget buttons, and why history is important, Kublai Khan.

Pam Geller, Robert Spencer In The Company Of Neofascists

Matthew Goodwin has graciously provided the line up of assorted misfits, bigots and neo-fascists attending a “Global Counter Jihad” rally in Stockholm on 4th August 2012:

I doubt this is the first occasion Pam Geller and Robert Spencer have found themselves in the company of neofascists (Lennon, Carroll, etc) or that it will be their last.

It shows that once you start down the road to bigotry you will often end up in the company of some very unsavoury types, normally on or about the Far Right.

Update 1: Thanks to TellMama UK for pointing out this piece by SPLC:

“Speakers, according to Geller’s blog, will include some of Islamophobia’s most influential and vicious voices. In addition to herself, Geller lists Robert Spencer, a colleague and self-taught “expert” on Islam who is greatly admired by Anders Breivik, the Oslo terrorist who in July 2011 slaughtered 77 people he thought were enabling Muslim immigration into Norway; Steven Lennon and Kev Carrol of the EDL; Anders Gravers of SIOE; and a host of European and Australian Islamophobes whose names are less well-known in America. Noteworthy among them is Richard Abrahamsson (also known as Richard Abrams), a leader in the Swedish Defence League (SDL) who, according to Islamophobia Watch, has blogged about a plan to “reclaim the Swastika,” writing, “If you want US to respect OTHER cultures, you must also respect OUR culture and its symbols.”

Update 3: Richard Bartholomew is typically thorough:

Abrams’ website is for the most part macabre and disturbing: among weird occultic images we find statements such as “I will be remembered as the one who beheaded presidents in righteous wrath”. He is also a musician, sometimes using the fuller name “Richard Isak Abrams”. According to a blurb for his band on LastFM:

Iblis Industries (or 1blis 1ndustries) is a Swedish project created in 2005 by Richard Abrams (also in Sitra Ahra and Hypothermia.)

The music released so far consists of a variey of elements such as; Neoclassical, Downtempo, Black metal, Industrial and Noisestep.

The themes of Iblis Industries is mainly cultivated in a search for the divine embers.

Of course, a provocative interest in the grotesque and and the dark is par for the course with this kind of music, and it is unclear how far one can extrapolate from stage persona to political identification. However, for an organisation seeking wider credibility, the impression given by Abrams’ site is unattractive. And given the links between the self-described “Counter-Jihad Movement” and elements of the Christian Right, such an association is likely to be awkward.

” [My emphasis]

Having looked at Richard Abrams’ site I can confirm that he has serious hangups with the swastika.

Update 4: This is a bunch of EDL members and supporters who were very keen on the swastika so much so they had it tattooed on their chests, watch them giving the Nazi salute:

Pam Geller & Mitt Romney

The truly awful bigot and English Defence League supporter, Pam Geller, can be seen cosying up to Mitt Romney.





Anyone unfamiliar with the EDL can see its supporter giving the Nazi salute in this video clip:

LoonWatch, How Not To Combat anti-Muslim bigotry

I have been asked for my view of LoonWatch and feel it might help to air these issues.

I think the issue of anti-Muslim bigotry is a real problems in Western societies. In Britain and Ireland, it is often a mutated form of racism which previously targeted Asians. Now it is used against those from North Africa, the Middle East, their descendants or those seen to have different customs.

Not sure if that descriptions does it full justice, but I imagine my more astute readers will see what I am getting at.

On Twitter

In the past I use to followed LoonWatch on Twitter.

Good Material

Anyway, I wanted to keep up with the extent of racism and bigotry towards Muslims and LoonWatch certainly covers it with vigour.

On their web site, LoonWatch, they publish some commendable articles and posts on anti-Muslim bigotry.

This one on Sweden’s Jews, Muslims Face Web Hate Rise: Study is a good example. As is this Dean Obeidallah: Sacha Cohen’s Movie a Minstrel Show.

Also, they have excellent material on cooperation between Jews and Muslims.

However

Less so their defence of Gunter Grass.

I could put that down to a matter of opinion and give them a pass, but I find their attitude towards anti-Jewish racism a bit unsatisfactory.

I could, without much trouble, find examples of their posts which have questionable language for antiracists to use. Often their comments boxes contain sneering and snide comments, either directly or indirectly aimed at Jews, Israelis or “Zionists”

Conspiracy Theories

I am sure that some of the smarter authors at LoonWatch would recognise that conspiracy theories are integral too many of the Far Rights’ attacks on Muslims. Further, that conspiracy theories are the key to a hardened forms of anti-Jewish racism, such as the Protocols, etc etc

Then to publish a piece which indulges in conspiracy theories and broadbrush demonisation of “Zionists” shows a clear lack of introspection and insight into the issues surrounding racism. Readers with access the Internet will be able to confirm that “Zionist” is a common Far Right euphemism for Jew.

Sensitivities

So there is a need for sensitivity in this area, and I find Loonwatch wanting in that respect.

Having said that, I think there is a dire need for web sites to combat anti-Muslim bigotry, but such sites need to be aware of certain sensitivities, not to cross certain lines, not to invoke, even by stealth, conspiracy theories.

Nevertheless, I did enjoyed their cover of the awful Pam Geller and terrible Robert Spencer.

In short, there is a need for insight and that is what I find lacking at LoonWatch.

I wish them well in their work to combat anti-Muslim bigotry. I just wish they would think a bit more, reflect on what they are getting at, and not generalise as much. If they wish to combat racism they should avoid such practices, as that is what racists and bigots tend to do.

Perhaps they might want to tidy up their comments boxes too?