The Media

Muslims, The Media And Poor Reporting

We are often caught up with our own lives. Attempting to understand how others see the world is frequently near-on impossible, but we should try, particularly when it comes to societal racism.

Daily Racism

Since 2001 increasing hatred and loathing has been directed towards Muslims. Political opportunists, such as the English Defence League, have tried to exploit the prevailing xenophobic climate in Britain and incite racial hatred.

Every day in Britain Muslims suffer racism. From verbal abuse to physical attacks. On-line animosity towards Muslims is stoked up daily by racists and semi-professional bigots. On-line activities have real world consequences as the site, EDL Criminals has shown time and again.

The real lives of real people in Britain are blighted by racism, yet these facts receive scant coverage in the Oxbridge dominated media. There are a few lines here or there, but little real investigation.

Factual Reports
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However, there is no shortage of informed commentary on Islamophobia or its negative consequences:

One academic report details how the Far Right and extremists exploit negative sentiment towards Muslims.

Another scholarly paper looked at the impact of racism towards Muslim women.

HMG report

The new government report on extremism has been welcomed by Tell MAMA, but highlights the complexities of these issues (I paraphrase):

  • It is very important to have a subtle approach to this topic and a dire need to tackle extremists who promote hatred towards communities.
  • Greater use of pastoral care should be made in prisons, etc, helping people in the most vulnerable of positions and playing a role in countering extremism.
  • On-line extremism is an unfortunate reality and in the Internet age we have to acknowledge this fact.
  • Extremism is often stoked up by international events, e.g in Syria or Middle East. We must ensure that whole communities, British Muslims, etc. are not blamed, labelled or isolated as a result.
  • Getting the balance is tricky, previous Governments talking tough simply fuelled isolation and helped extremist groups, like Al-Muhajiroun.
  • The new position by HMG is far more informed and nuanced, it should be welcomed.

A Societal Issue and The Independent

A piece in the Independent seems to have grasp the headline of this issue but not the subtleties, as expressed above, and:

In society we need to admit that anti-Muslim prejudice is quite widespread. That such reports can lead to a flare up of on-line hate against Muslims and cause more problems.

We should accept that anti-Muslim prejudice has to be tackled.

It is wrong to blame whole or part of communities as it further exasperates extremism, increasing societal disconnect and isolation. Such an approach aids the extremists, be they the EDL or Al-Muhajiroun.

We need to take care on these issues, racism, whatever its forms should not be encouraged.

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.
(more…)

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:

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“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]

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.

Rod Liddle’s Open Racism At The Spectator

specy1

This post is a public record, because I would expect that Rod Liddle’s open display of racism at the Spectator will soon be removed.

It is utterly senseless and disgusting.

Therefore, it is worthwhile recording Liddle’s racism and its appalling implications:

“I was slightly puzzled by the early media reports of the appalling murder in Woolwich and particularly the wrangling over whether or not this could be called ‘a terrorist attack’. Does it make much difference? Two black savages hacked a man to death while shouting Allahu Akbar; that’s really all you need to know, isn’t it? In a sense calling it an act of terrorism somehow dignifies the barbarism. The media will now go into crowd-control mode and tell us how all Muslims are as shocked by this attack as are the rest of us and how Islam is a peaceable religion. No, it isn’t.

All credit to the woman police officer who shot the scumbags, although I suspect we will soon have an inquest into why it took the ‘boyden’ (that’s ghetto slang for police, apparently, dear readers) took 20 minutes to arrive. “

It is like reading a commentary from a 1970′s National Front member: bigoted, stupid and openly racist.

Update 1:  That page vanished but not before a screenshot was taken:

rliddle1

Update 2: At this time, I can’t see much of the media taking Liddle to task for his racism, but the Huff Post covers it, Rod Liddle’s ‘Two Black Savages’ Spectator Blog Draws Accusations Of Racism.

If any readers find good links on this issue please do leave a comment, I will try and update the post.

Update 3: I had forgotten about Liddle’s previous form in this area. Spectator to pay out £5,625 over Rod Liddle’s Stephen Lawrence article:

“The Spectator has been ordered to pay £5,625 in fines and compensation for breaching reporting restrictions over a Rod Liddle comment piece published during the trial of Stephen Lawrence’s killers.

Judge Howard Riddle ordered the publisher of the Spectator to pay a fine of £3,000, plus £2,000 in compensation for distress to Lawrence’s parents, in a hearing at Westminster magistrates’ court in central London on Thursday morning.

The Spectator pleaded guilty to breaching a court order with the Liddle article, published in November 2011 at a key moment in the trial.”

Update 4: I think Liddle’s comments reflect a wider racism towards Muslims in British society. The antiracist campaign, Tell Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks (MAMA), summarizes part of that racism as:

“•632 anti-Muslim hate incidents reported to ‘MAMA’ since March 2012,
• Muslim women increasingly targeted (58% of all incidents),
• Victims of incidents range from a five-year-old child to an 89-year-old pensioner,
• 2:1 ratio of female victims in Islamic clothing to men in Islamic clothing,
• 74% of incidents take place on-line,
• 6% of incidents involve attacks on mosques/property,
• 5% of victims are white converts to Islam,
• Three-quarters (75%) of perpetrators are male,
• Far Right BNP/EDL supporters linked to over half (54%) of all cases,
• 23 arrests, 18 prosecutions (cases pending),
• MAMA pursuing review of police decision not to charge EDL leader,
• Trend of rising Islamophobia, recorded by YouGov figures (7 March)”

Update 5: Liberal Conspiracy deals with Liddle’s half-hearted semi-apology, Rod Liddle apologises for ‘black savages’.

Update 6: If you have a strong stomach, the comment box on the revised article at the Spectator is overflowing with xenophobia, anti-Muslim racism and the odd bit of antisemitism, dressed up as “anti-Zionism” not pretty:

“allymax bruce jjjj • 4 days ago −
Most you describe is true, BUT, what you fail to realise /question, is that this is being functionsd by the Zionists. I’m not being anti-semetic in saying this; in-deed, closing down intelligent thought & discourse is the result of using that anti-semetic excuse! Moreover, most Jews living in Israel are against the Zionists; are they anti-semetic too? No, ofcourse not. Slurring intelligent thought & discourse as anti-semetic only further disenfranchises us, but more importantly, furthers what you fear is happening to us. If you want to to truly stop the rot by this political Establishment, then you must consider it is a Zionist enforcement.”

Update 7: This is rather good, Rod Liddle and the Economics of the Commentariat:

“While a pretty poisonous clutch of miserablists all told, I wouldn’t consider them racist. Dan and Brendan, definitely not. Mel, well, she has written plenty of things that could certainly be construed that way but as awful as they are, but she just about stays on the right side of the line. But Rodders is a different kettle of fish. There are only so many situations available for former liberals and lefties as they migrate to the lucrative uphills of remunerated bigotry. And though Rod has been on his journey for a while, he’s taken his own sweet time. I blame his penchant for footy forums. But the market for anti-Islam rants is a crowded one, so how to stand out among the swivel-eyed and hard-of-thinking? Well, why not dance pack and forth across the line. And so, of last week’s appalling murder in Woolwich, he writes “two black savages hacked a man to death while shouting Allahu Akbar; that’s really all you need to know, isn’t it?

It’s not so much a problem of Rod’s dinner party racism, but with the whole economy of media commentary.”

Update 8: Talking of racism, another thread at Liberal Conspiracy seems to have succumb to antisemitism, again, Meet Woolwich Truthers who claim attack a “hoax”:

“Once you dig far enough and realise thru the Rothschild/Rockefella Ashkenazi-faux-jews and other pretend ‘Christian’ satanist-elitist families of the “Western World” (demon-strated quite clearly in the bible as “Synagogue of Satan” club ‘members’) that the West is dictatorially dominated by such eg all senior cabinet and top politicians are all so-called ‘Jews’ thoroughly misleading the vast majority (who are totally ignorant of this stitch-up) and making our lives hell.
Go back to Khazar history and you will find the same parasites who are in charge today as bankers and parasitical crony corporation owners stealing direct from the taxpayer and avoiding most or all taxes.”

Update 9: Musa Okwonga makes an excellent point:

“When bile such as “black savages” is sent unchecked into the atmosphere, it poisons the air. In this context, after all, “black savages” suggests that beneath the thin veneer of the apparently civilised Western-born black male lurks an irredeemably violent thug, and that all it takes is the right triggers to unleash him. That is precisely the same thinking upon which imperial attitudes were, and indeed still are, proudly based. “

Rev Stephen Sizer: More Anti-Israeli Than Pro-Palestinian

Rev. Stephen Sizer is once more indulging in victimhood and self-promotion. He has managed to convince some worthy individuals to write him references.

Ever shy and retiring Rev. Sizer has published them on his website.

They say, essentially, ‘he’s a jolly good fellow, not a racist, but a fighter for human rights’.

This is an extract from Rev. Dr. Don Wagner of Chicago:

“I have known and worked with Stephen for nearly 15 years and have the utmost respect for his writing, pastoral ministry, and his speaking around the globe on behalf of the victims of persecution and human rights violations.

I suppose, in part, that might be true, however, Rev. Sizer silent criticism of the Assad regime is noticeable.

You might, not unreasonably, think that in 21 months of slaughter in Syria that Rev. Sizer could have made a critical comment of the Syrian government. After all, he’s immensely capable of criticising Israelis, but suddenly acquires writers’ block when it comes to Assad and Syria.

It is a symptom which seems to inflict many Western “pro-Palestinian” supporters, capable of criticising Israelis at the drop of a hat, yet barely able to muster any criticism whilst Assad is slaughtering civilians.

Just to be clear, I am not accusing Rev. Sizer of hypocrisy, racism or anything else. Merely observing that in 21 months he might have at least commented once on the hundreds of Palestinians killed in Syria.

Rev. Sizer has written on Syria, but I can’t find any criticism of Assad. In fact, the opposite when he uses a proxy to say in June 2012:

“Revd Awad insists Qatar and Saudi Arabia along with the US are funding mercenaries from Libya and Iraq to attack civilians in Syria and that the army are not responsible. He is convinced the President enjoys the support of at least 75% of Syrians. He insists none of Syria’s diplomats around the world has defected to the opposition. He is confident that the Kofi Annan report will exonerate the Syrian government and that the external forces seeking to destabilise Syria will not succeed. “

It drips of paranoia and defensiveness, but later on of that month, June 2012 invokes Robert Fisk to argue Syria: Its all about oil.

For want of his own opinions Rev. Sizer employs Elizabeth Kendal’s Syria: The Lies Being Told.

Unfortunately, it appears that Ms. Kendal is a conspiracy theorist and believes that the Houla massacre committed by the Assad regime’s forces was a contrivance:

“For more on the Houla massacre, now exposed as a false flag operation wherein Free Syrian Army forces disguised as pro-Assad ‘thugs’ massacred unsympathetic mostly non-Sunni families and blamed the regime…”

So as far as I can see Rev. Sizer has written nothing to criticise Assad or his dictatorship which brought about the events in Syria after massacring peaceful protesters in March 2011.

In August 2012, Rev. Sizer utilises the words of others and latterly employing a questionable photograph to hint at something else:

“The first reaction of President Bashar al-Assad was to initially respond with hints of reform. But soon he launched violent crackdowns that could have dispensed with the opposition if not for outside support.

So what we see is conscious effort to blame everyone else, but the repressive Syrian government. The idea that people could rise up against a dictatorship, of their own free will, after being shot at, murdered and tortured seems to have escaped Rev. Sizer and these various proxies.

Despite 21 months of conflict Rev. Sizer can’t say a single word against Assad.

In short, Rev. Sizer is proclaimed as “speaking around the globe on behalf of the victims of persecution and human rights violations” yet I have not read one word from Rev. Sizer critical of Assad on the hundreds of Palestinians killed, the 40,000+ Syrians dead, hundreds of thousands injured and millions displaced within the country.

A curious omission?

Update 1: Whenever I post on Rev. Sizer’s antics the blog gets a lot of spam, incoherent or abusive comments. I would remind potential commentors to read, disgest and understand the Comments Policy.

Update 2: You might almost say “the world goes to hell in a handbasket whilst Rev. Sizer has other preoccupations”. Despite the mounting death toll in Syria, Rev. Sizer’s main concern is, somewhat predictably, Rev. Sizer.

More recently he has cajoled some friendly clergy into supporting him, Bethlehem Bible College, Canon Dr Mike Butterworth, Friends of Sabeel, Revd. Phil Hill, Manfred W. Kohl, Professor Scott Elias, Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church USA and Bishop Riah Abo El-Assal.

The excuse “some of his best friends are…” is threadbare by use, but I am sure these theologians will be able to explain why Rev. Sizer continually, regularly and mistakenly posted links to vile, hardcore, antisemitic filth.

Wikileaks, Guardian Personality And Sexist Of The Year

Julian Assange is exceedingly annoyed at the Guardian, as can be seen from @Wikileaks timeline on Twitter:

Julian Assange2

I am not terribly interested in Assange.

He strikes me as a manipulative misanthrope and misogynist, and will probably end up doing a “Mel Gibson” one day.

But the activities of his supporters and how they attacked a female Guardian columnist I do find very disturbing. It reinforces the view that Assange’s supporters have no difficulty attacking women, verbally or otherwise:

Julian Assange3

So I thought it appropriate to have my own Sexist of the Year poll in support of the End Violence Against Women Coalition.

Obviously, any poll is incomplete and it probably could contain many more entries but these are, in my view, a representative sample.

I would welcome reader’s comments and observations. No sexism please, that’s a reminder to Assange’s supporters!

Update 1: A reminder to read Cath Elliot’s excellent, Assange, and feminism’s so-called male allies.

Update 2:
I have been remiss and didn’t explain why Julian Assange was so cheesed off at the Guardian. In short, he and his followers tried to rig the Guardian’s person of the year, but they found out.

His reason for wanting to cheat is clear enough.

The narcissistic Assange could not stand the very idea of a brave and injured 14 year old girl winning.

Had Malala Yousafzai won the Guardian poll then it would have taken attention and admiration away from Wikileaks, which would come with Bradley Mannings’ victory.

Assange wants to bathe in the reflected glory of Mannings’ win. He needs the limelight. So he arranged to fiddle it.

Update 3: I forgot to say, but you can vote for several individuals in this poll, not just one.

Update 4: News just in, George Galloway, world famous expert on bad sexual etiquette, has won the End Violence Against Women Coalition’s Sexist of the Year 2012 award:

“George Galloway MP has been voted ‘Sexist of the Year 2012’ in a poll run by the End Violence Against Women Coalition (1), and will be sent a copy of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman as a prize.

The MP for Bradford West received more than a quarter of all votes cast, and around one and a times as many votes than his nearest runner up, the Prime Minister David Cameron. He received four times as many votes as the ‘bronze medal winner’, Julian Assange. Mr Galloway said, in a broadcast on YouTube in August, of having sex with a sleeping woman, “It might be really bad sexual etiquette but whatever else it is, it is not rape.”(2)

The poll, which was launched at the end of October and was open for a month, saw supporters of the EVAW Coalition and members of the public encouraged to send their nominations by email and on the twitter hashtag #sexist2012.

Voters nominated prominent institutions as well as individuals for their sexist attitudes and behaviour during 2012, including the BBC for its handling of the Savile crisis, The Sun for its ongoing Page 3 ‘feature’ and the Taleban for the attempted murder of schoolgirl campaigner Malala.

Other prominent UK politicians who were nominated included George Osborne, Jeremy Hunt and Ed Miliband (nominated by former MP Louise Mensch for his failure to censure sexist MP Austin Mitchell).

The EVAW Coalition has more than 60 members around the UK who are working to end sexual and domestic violence, forced marriage, FGM, trafficking, stalking and other forms of abuse. They include service providers, lawyers and academics who are on the frontline of tackling abuse and campaigning for government to take a more strategic approach to ending violence by aiming to prevent it in the first place.”

In Short: Syria And Egypt

Despite the many benefits of the Internet, access to news from all parts of the world and almost instantaneous translation, it is sometimes difficult getting a grasp of what is really happening in a certain country, particularly those in the Middle East.

Syria is but one example. After nearly 20 months, tens of thousands killed, millions of people displaced and hundreds of thousands injured, there is lethargy in the Western media concerning the fate of Syrians.

It used to be said that in journalism, what bleeds leads, but that clearly isn’t the case when it comes to Assad’s victims.

Yet as NPR reports things are changing, Project Looks At A New Way To Report On Syria.

Watch Syria Deeply for more developments.

The people in Egypt have been, rightly, demonstrating against authoritarianism, in the form of President Morsi and the new, proposed, constitution.

I am not a fan of the Middle East Research and Information Project but Ahmad Shokr makes some intelligent points:

“The draft constitution does not reflect a democratic consensus, as many in the opposition have argued that it should. It reflects an emerging relationship between the Muslim Brothers and existing state institutions, like the army, along with a great deal of appeasement of the salafis, whom the Brothers have embraced as junior partners. The rush to a referendum suggests a deep anxiety among the state elites about continuing instability and a desire to seize the opportunity to cement a new political framework as quickly as possible. More worrisome than the text itself is the vision these leaders have for which voices count and which alliances matter in the new Egypt. Should this vision go unchallenged, the losers would be all those who have been calling for more pluralistic and inclusive system.

(more…)

Channel 4, Stephen Sizer And Not Answering The Question

I had the misfortune to view a clip from 4thought.tv. It claims to be Channel 4′s daily religious, moral and ethical opinion show.

Provocatively, their latest programme is entitled Are Jews still persecuted in Britain today?

I am sure it is very well intentioned, however, it lacks two basic pre-requisites for an informed discussion of racism, a connection to the empirical evidence and an ability to differentiate between the spurious and the relevant.

They could have asked the simpler questions: ‘do Jews face racism in Britain?’ or ‘what type of racism do British Jews encounter?’

Yet, the Channel 4 producers decided to put up essentially a strawman argument, employing the shades of past persecution to diminish the problems faced by Jews in Britain today.

Additionally, the programme and contributions failed to differentiate between what is happening in Britain and the Middle East. It is perfectly possible to concede that many problems exist in the Middle East, without negating the issue of racial attacks on British Jews.

Moreover, I was struck by the small video from Stephen Sizer, which can be viewed on the 4thought.tv’s web site.

Readers will notice that initially Rev. Sizer does not actually answer the question directly or make any significant attempt to address the issue. Instead we are treated to a small rant about Israel and Zionism, two of Rev. Sizer’s favourite topics.

Readers might understand why Rev. Sizer is reluctant to engage with the actual question or make any significant attempt to talk about racism and how it affects Jews, given his pass misdemeanours in this area.

Readers will remember Rev. Sizer’s unfortunate mistakes, posting material from racist web sites on his blog.

These racist web sites had one, and only one commonality, they hated Jews, not anyone else.

So it is rather strange to see Rev. Sizer brought forward as having something meaningful to say, when he skirts around the issue and does not acknowledge his own stupidity in this area.

Better questions to ask would have been:

  • What is the extent of racism faced by British Jews?
  • What part does Christianity play in animosity towards Jews, historical and contemporary?
  • Or why do certain “anti-Zionists”, such as Stephen Sizer, Greta Berlin, etc have an unfortunate habit of posting links to racist material?

I would have hoped that Channel 4 could have made an effort to ask some penetrating questions on this important subject, or at least up their intellectual game a bit. Giving people a chance to grind their axes might make for cheap and frivolous TV, but it does not engage with these ethical and moral questions. Instead it confuses the matters and is unsatisfactory.

Better still, Channel 4 could ask the Community Security Trust (CST) for comment and why Jewish schools in Britain need extensive security measures? Possibly, after pondering that, they will be able to answer their own question.

Just in case, Stephen Sizer and his allies are ignorant of attacks on British Jews they should read the CST’s yearly reports (PDFs), Antisemitic Incidents Report January-June 2012 and Antisemitic Incidents Report 2011.

Overall, this particular programme was a missed opportunity. Channel 4 could have used it to illuminate, to shine alight on the problem of racism in Britain but it chose not to.

Next time, instead of making it an outlet for people’s resentment and personal grudges, the producers should stick to looking at the evidence, thinking about it and asking perceptive questions. That is the serious way to investigate this troubling subject.

Update 1: Many thanks to Rebecca for a pointer to this slightly tongue in cheek guide: How to Criticize Israel Without Being Anti-Semitic.

It should help those, like Rev. Sizer, who seem rather confused by this topic.

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.

Light Relief: Talking Cats, Speaking Robert Jay QC And Leveson

Ever felt you have a fair grasp of English and a passable vocabulary? Watch this video clip of Robert Jay QC at the Guardian and think again.

Esther Addley provides a good summary of the Leveson inquiry.

The above is light relief, or just more comedy, depending on how you view David Cameron’s reaction to the Leveson report.

And who said that the Tories weren’t clowns.

Update 1: Leveson report: the speed read is handy.

Council Borrowing Blamed On The Women Workers

I am a little bit preoccupied at the moment to blog in any meaningful sense, but this poor piece of journalism in the Guardian struck me as deserving of comment.

It concerns Birmingham City Council and the possibility that they will have to borrow over £300 million to meet their legal obligations after losing a major equal pay case.

What is surprising in the article, is where the blame is placed. It implies that the equal pay claims are at fault, but for them Birmingham City Council would not go bankrupt, or be in this situation.

“The country’s largest local authority faces a potential bill of £757m to settle a string of equal pay claims lodged by mainly women workers, amid speculation that other councils and private sector firms could be targeted by a new wave of legal action.

Birmingham city council said on Monday the figure combined the “actual and potential” equal pay settlements between 2006 and 2012, including a recent ruling in favour of 170 low-paid women staff, and could rise if more claims were made.

The council has applied to the local government secretary, Eric Pickles, for permission to borrow £325m on top of the £430m already secured to help fund the pay claims.

The council leader, Sir Albert Bore, said the costs would have to be taken from the council’s day-to-day running costs, putting it at risk of bankruptcy if permission for the loan was refused.”

What it ignores is all the more annoying.

  • One, the equal pay legislation dates back to 1970, that is 42 years.
  • Two, Birmingham council had a legal obligation to comply with this longstanding legislation.
  • Three, its senior managers and Councillors were aware of their legal obligations.
  • Four, they chose to fight a battle they could not win.

Ultimately, it is the poor quality of management from senior managers and the Councillors at Birmingham City Council that are to blame.

It is not the women’s fault for desiring equal pay and conditions, maybe next time the Guardian should remind its readers of those facts.

Tony Blair at Leveson Inquiry

The Guardian’s coverage of the Leveson Inquiry is good and they have allocated a slot for Tony Blair’s contribution.

Update 1: Surprisingly. the Leveson Inquiry doesn’t seem to have an official channel on YouTube, but there are others.

The Leveson Inquiry by ITN News Channel.

YouTube – Leveson Inquiry auto-generated by YouTube.

Update 2: CNN has a good summary:

“The Leveson Inquiry was established after British public anger at Murdoch’s News of the World about the hacking of voice messages of a missing teenage girl who turned out to have been murdered.

The case of Milly Dowler came on top of apologies from the tabloid for the hacking of the phones of celebrities and politicians, and proved to be the last straw for the paper, which was shut down in July.

Cameron set up the Leveson Inquiry to explore press ethics in Britain more widely, alongside a police investigation into phone hacking, e-mail hacking and police bribery by people working for Murdoch’s British newspapers.

More than 50 people have been arrested. Prosecutors this month announced charges against six people, including Rebekah Brooks, a former News of the World and Sun editor who later became chief executive of News International, the British newspaper publishing arm of Murdoch’s News Corp.

She, her husband and four others are charged with interfering with the police investigation.

Blair’s former director of communications said this month that the relationship between the press and the political elite in Britain was too cozy.

“I’ve been arguing for some years (that the relationship) got itself into a very, very bad place, and I hope it can lead to change,” Alastair Campbell told CNNI’s Christiane Amanpour.

“It’s not just about Rupert Murdoch,” he said. “We have a lot of newspapers in a geographically fairly small country. … And I think any political leader has to take account of the role they play in the political debate.”

Campbell, a former newspaper editor who became Blair’s spokesman when the Labour party was in opposition in the 1990s, said he hoped “some form of proper regulation” would arise from the hacking and bribery scandal. “

Update 3: My mistake, the Inquiry’s web site does provide video even if it is not obvious, on their hearings page. Still, a pity you can’t download them without a degree of mucking about, etc etc

John Cleese Vs. The Sun

These Letters of Note between John Cleese and Kenneth Donlan of the Sun are amusing and speak volumes for News International’s journalism.

Robert Pirosh‘s letter is delightfully witty too:

“Dear Sir:

I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like suave “V” words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, land’s-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp.

I like the word screenwriter better than copywriter, so I decided to quit my job in a New York advertising agency and try my luck in Hollywood, but before taking the plunge I went to Europe for a year of study, contemplation and horsing around.

I have just returned and I still like words.

May I have a few with you?

Robert Pirosh
385 Madison Avenue
Room 610
New York
Eldorado 5-6024 “

The Guardian’s Soft Racism and Deborah Orr

The Guardian newspaper is considered to be one of the quality periodicals in Britain, yet if you ever wanted to find the tell-tale smell of anti-Jewish racism then look no further.

Comment is Free, the Guardian’s on-line presence, is stuffed full of snide articles and remarks in the comments boxes that would not seem out of place in Far Right forums.

Even the home coming of Gilad Shalit was seen as another vehicle for expressing contempt for Jews, evidenced by Deborah Orr’s article with its disdainful conclusion.

Eve Garrard, over at Engage, pulls it apart with commendable logic:

“Things are different now, and this trope has been resurrected for the same old use: to denigrate Jews and stir up dislike, or worse, against them. In fact it’s very effective for that purpose: most people (very understandably) dislike anyone who claims to be inherently superior to everyone else; and so to attribute such a claim to Jews is a very economical way of making people dislike and distrust them. By referring to the Chosen People you can, without saying another word, tell your listener that Jews are an arrogant supercilious bunch who despise the rest of the human race, and that you yourself don’t much like that kind of thing; and indeed your listener (or reader, as the case may be) probably doesn’t much like that kind of thing either, being a decent honest person; and so you and she together can enjoyably agree that there’s something pretty obnoxious about Jews, or they wouldn’t be claiming to be ‘chosen’, would they, or insisting that one Jew is worth 1,000 other people, which of course they must believe, since Gilad Shalit was exchanged for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, and there’s no other possible explanation of that ratio, is there, eh?

All that hostile implication from just two well-chosen (so to speak) words, or even in Orr’s case one word alone – she writes with casual familiarity about ‘the chosen’, apparently assuming that her Guardian readers use the term so readily that no misunderstanding can arise from the informal contraction. This is indeed real economy of effort in the business of producing Jew-hatred. Orr herself may not, of course, have intended to stir up dislike of Jews; but the language which she chose to use did all the work that was needed for that unlovely task. “