While studying the phenomena of support for Jenny Tonge I have been struck by a number of things:
1. The level of shared paranoia and slippage into conspiracy theories that occurs.
2. How many of her defenders subscribe to her conspiratorial views or paranoia about some supposedly all-powerful “Zionist” lobby.
3. How distasteful it is to see once cynical individuals don rose tinted glasses when dealing with Tonge’s comments.
Granted, my sampling was only every reference to Jenny Tonge on Twitter for a 12+ hour period and there might be other interpretations. Nevertheless they do seem to illustrate much of the above.
Naturally, there is a degree of variation and intensity in those expressing support for Baroness Tonge.
It is rather like a sliding scale, comparatively moderate at one end, increasingly vociferous and extreme at the other.
We can see how otherwise decent people may feel some sympathy for Jenny Tonge, as her supporters portray her as a victim.
The reality is, of course, very different. Baroness Tonge merely resigned the party whip, not from the Liberal Democrats. She is still a member. In fact, she has more freedom to shout off her mouth.
But it is understandable that some take pity on her.
Slightly further down the scale you have the political activists who have a chip on their shoulder about Israelis, and some that even share Baroness Tonge’s obsession with the supposedly all powerful “Zionist” lobby.
Inching along the scale we find cranks, such as the London BDS, which make inflammatory and perplexing remarks:
“Please write to Baroness Jenny Tonge to show your support. Israelificated Zionists controlled media trying to…”
“Lib-Dem and Labour Zionists purge Jenny Tonge « Red Scribblings”
All this might suggest that many people start off with understandable sympathy for the Palestinians, some migrate over time to Jenny Tonge’s stance and then possibly on to sharing Ken O’Keefe’s extremist views.
Readers will remember him ranting about 9/11 and Mossad, as the JC reported:
“Baroness Tonge was sitting next to Mr O’Keefe as he screamed at audience members, said Israel “must be destroyed” and claimed Mossad was “directly involved” in the September 11 terror attacks on the United States.”
That shared paranoia seemed almost infectious.
When questioned Tonge’s supporters are apt to respond with incredulity. They can’t see how their weird views could be seen differently from the outside. They show an almost complete lack of introspection.
That is the danger.
Starting off with good intentions, but after swimming around in this bizarre paranoid dogma become obsessed with “Zionists” ending up like Ken O’Keefe, ranting on about Mossad and 9/11, almost foaming at the mouth.
People being concerned with these issues, succumb to Jenny Tonge’s polite racism and paranoia, and can become purblind to the implications of Ken O’Keefe’s views.