Remember Rev. Stephen Sizer’s Racism.

Rev. Stephen Sizer is no novice in terms of racism.
coe1
Engage 2006: The Church is Moral; The People in the Shadows Are Not

My coverage, going back years.

The CST on Sizer.

Betsy Childs’ excellent The Master of Apologies.

Racism, Tracts and the Stop the War Coalition

Previously, I have pointed out how the Stop the War Coalition uses material from an active antisemite, Alison Weir (not the historian).

Also, they published a poem, which willingly referenced Gordon Duff, the proprietor of a hardcore antsemitic site, Veterans Today.

At the time I had thought that it was only an unfortunate mistake by the author, but now the train of thinking is apparent. Another tract from Heathcote Williams has appeared.

In a demented sermon masking itself as a poem Churchill is accused of provoking Hitler and starting World War II:

In ‘Human Smoke’ Nicholson Baker
Shows how complicit Churchill was
In provoking World War Two:
He bombed Berlin

Antifascists will remember how David Irving took a similar tack many years back.

IrvingChurchill1

Had I not seen such thinking and arguments before on the Extreme Right I might have been surprised, but shockingly Williams is not a neo-Nazi or an active antisemite.

Instead Williams is an old Etonian and apparently on the fringes of the British Far Left.

I was curious if Williams other works would reveal something of his thinking. I didn’t have to go far.

Williams has written a long, interminable, piece on the Middle East. It drips with contempt for Jews.

I was mistaken before to think that his use of material from an active antisemite was an aberration, an error, rather it is more a way of thinking amongst the Stop the War Coalition and its groupies.

So the desire to blame everyone, but Hitler and the Nazis for World War II is not confined to the Extreme Right. It has its advocates on the British Far Left.

That is why we must not forget history or allow such foul revisionist thinking to go unchallenged, whenever and wherever it comes from.

JfJfP Thinking??

This is what passes for comment amongst some ‘Jews for Justice for Palestinians’ supporters, taken as a public record:

God Promised Antisemitism to the Zionists

My reflections on the Campaign Against Antisemitism survey, by Aaron Dover

[Picture]

In order to say what some might consider the unsayable I first need to deconstruct some mythical terms so let me just wade into some taboo territory as though I don’t even see the no-entry signs.

What is anti-Semitism?

“Antisemitism” is a word and a political construct. It has been loaded with meaning and importance like no other word in the English language. This is no exaggeration, it is not meant as hyperbole, if you want evidence of this you need look no further than the UK National Curriculum. I had a look at the core curriculum for secondary school History, and have quoted a section of it below.

– challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day
In addition to studying the Holocaust, this could include:
Examples (non-statutory)
women’s suffrage
the First World War and the Peace Settlement
the inter-war years: the Great Depression and the rise of dictators
the Second World War and the wartime leadership of Winston Churchill
the creation of the welfare state
Indian independence and end of Empire
social, cultural and technological change in post-war British society
Britain’s place in the world since 1945

Now take a look closely at it. It does not say that the Holocaust is a mandatory subject, but it is implied, which is interesting in itself; the optional subjects follow and are clearly marked as such. The Holocaust is the only mandatory subject in this area. Not just any holocaust; there are so many to choose from by now; with new ones happening frequently; this is the Holocaust and is a proper noun with a capital.

The most important things being said here are those that are unsaid. What is unsaid? The Holocaust is the important holocaust i.e. the Jewish one. The Holocaust is exceptional. Not just important; nobody is here to argue with that; but exceptional. The other ideas suggested are important, and many, many ideas that would never appear on that list at all are also very important. The Holocaust is unique, and all students must know about it, and laws in place that criminalise Holocaust denial ensure not just that the topic is covered, but that it will be covered with the broadly accepted narrative. Every child educated in UK schools will be told about the Holocaust and they will be told the same things you were told.

Other holocausts might match it in terms of any particular respect; the brutality of the methods; the nature of the target population; the body count; the ideals of the perpetrators; their propaganda; their moral failings; and so on. But irrespective of any of those things, the proper noun Holocaust retains an exceptional an unique position in the prevailing historical narrative of all Western society.

As a result, a fully-educated Brit will certainly know that Hitler was German, unless he skipped class a great deal and his parents and friends never mentioned it, but may well be unaware that the British royal family are too.
Once of the implications of this is that every child in the UK will learn about Jew-hatred, termed anti-Semitism. No child will be left behind on this subject. They may not hear about other racial prejudices, other holocausts, they may not know how they got what remains of a welfare state around them, but they will know about anti-Semitism and Holocaust. This then becomes the common currency in discussions as the high water mark of evil throughout history, and this is the explanation for the existence of Godwin’s law (or Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies).

The reason people reach for Nazi analogies so frequently is a result of it being this global common currency of an ultimate evil narrative. People wouldn’t write articles in the global press saying “so-and-so is behaving like Ceaucescu” the way they say so-and-so is behaving like Hitler. They know they would lose the majority of their readers on that remark, because no matter how nasty Ceaucescu is, he is just not as famous. Obviously there are countless other examples. This is quite simply because everyone knows about Hitler, and – crucially – everybody knows that everybody knows about Hitler. It’s a given. The Nazis are the one-stop-shop for evilness yardsticks.

The Nazi Holocaust of the Jews (and other victims of that same holocaust) therefore enjoys the same educational status as, say, basic maths. In the same way you expect people to be able to do a bit of arithmetic, you can be confident that they have covered these educational subjects. They will know that 6×7=42 and also that the Jews have always suffered persecution throughout their history and were brutally slaughtered at the hands of a maniacal German tyrant who we stopped. They will not necessarily have heard of Zionism, nor have any awareness of the Nakba in Palestine that followed the war. Nor, for that matter, will they necessarily have any knowledge of any holocaust in Armenia for example.

So it follows that you can go and do a survey of people’s views about attitude towards Jews, and that isn’t weird to anyone, because of the Holocaust. They will know the various tropes and stereotypes assoicated with antisemitism, if they were listening in class, the hook noses, the greed, the blood libels and so on. Therefore if you ask someone in a survey or focus group do you think people perceive Jews to be more interested in money than other people? What will happen is that they will recognise that this view is a view that was held by antisemites, such as the Nazis. You will also know that these tropes have persisted over the ages, because you were taught that. These are ideas about Jews that wax and wane across time and society but never vanish; that is what we are taught. So to enquire as to whether these tropes that you may have first heard about during Holocaust lessons are present today and to be asked if you agree with them is a fair question, if we accept the previous fact.

Hitler was a maniac. But he was not a maniac for his antisemitic views, because these were things he found already lying around him in German society to repurpose to his ends. The antisemitism was there, it is there now, it is here, it is all around us, always, like a field. The field is stronger and weaker in places, but nowhere in space and time is it absent.

A survey therefore is simply a way to measure the field strength at a specific location and time. The questions will reflect the set of tropes that we understand to comprise antisemitism. We don’t ask, in a survey; what do you think about Jews? Open questions are not suited to surveys. So instead we must create a survey based on a set of preconceptions of how to measure the antisemitism field. We ask people about their own feelings in respect of the attitudes we suspect they may hold. This method is fundamentally flawed if we seek an objective answer, because the questions are leading.

If I ask; do you think Jews are more interested in money than most people? I might also ask; do you think Jews are more interested in motorsports than most people? But I do not ask the latter. Of course, you can only ask a limited number of questions so you have to stay focused; and that means discarding anything which could be used as a control for any other questions you are asking. What if we asked that second question and 99% of people responded positively? Thinking “bloody Jews, all into bloody motorsports” would not be the kind of antisemitism we are probing for. It does not fit our preconceived opinion-fingerprint of an antisemite. That’s not to say a dedicated Hasbarist wouldn’t try to make capital of such a statement, but it isn’t one of the statements that sets off a buzzer.

What are these tropes? The stereotyped view of a Jew by an antisemite, we learn, is made up from a number of parts. The hook nose. The evil, the clasped hands, the leering girn, the rubbing of hands in glee at either massive financial gain or the death of Christian babies. That’s your antisemitic stereotype. There’s plenty more to it than that, it extends from this to encompass more. The blood libels, the Jew hungry for the blood of Christians; that’s a blood libel.

What do each of these tropes provide to the ever-eager antisemite hunters? A wealth of opportunity for allegations.

What is antisemitism? Antisemitism poses a very real and very present danger in the UK and Europe, and around the world. On that I will agree with CAAS and their ilk. That is by now one of the most politically powerful ilks in human history. That ilk has made it on the one hand compulsory to learn the Holocaust; but on the other hand has made it criminal to deny or belittle the Holocaust. It has achieved this dual success in many of the developed nations.

Antisemitism is a danger not to the purported victims of said antisemitism, but to the actual victims; those accused of it. Everyone lives the antisemitism minefield. It is not neccesary for me to spell out the consequences for anyone who falls foul of the various bodies of antisemite-hunters that span the globe. Socially, professionally, step on an antsemitism mine, and you’re toast. You could be anyone; you can be the President of the United States, you are in the same minefield. You can even be a Jew, in which case the antisemite-hunter reaches into the bag for a self-hater label instead, it’s not a great substitute but it’s all they’ve got to work with. I’m not going to go into the self-hating Jew mythology here, there are more worthwhile subjects to address.

How do we fight antisemitism? In terms of containing antisemitic sentiment, we gag people and ban things from being said, and we keep everyone in fear of stepping on an antisemitism mine by making examples of public figures on a frequent basis. If people keep seeing careers destroyed by a misplaced remark on Gaza or similar, others will not become too emboldened, even if they harbour such antisemitic thoughts, to vocalise them.

To fight antisemitism, do we also stop the large scale killing of Jews by a monstrous machine of fascist brutality? No. Why? Because we did that decades ago.

How do we fight Islamophobia? In terms of containing Islamophobic sentiment, not very well at all, that’s how. We could try to restrain the media from trying to link individual incidents to all Muslims, through their overt and covert propaganda. But we don’t.

To fight islamophobia, do we stop the large scale killing of Muslims by a monstrous machine of fascist brutality? No. Why? Because we are the machine. The Western killing machine has run on a fuel of islamophobic sentiment for over a century.

But the media are focused more on the rise of antisemitism, or a perception of a rise. A survey of this kind signals simply by the fact that it is done, let alone the results, that antisemitism is something we should fear. The minefield is something we should fear.

But the fear of antisemitism is unrelated to incidents of antisemitism. The fear-to-incident ratio has never been higher; the perception of antisemitism and fear of that antisemitism has been boosted as hard as possible by the scaremongers of CAAS. They don’t even care if their survey methodology is a joke. If they send out their survey so literally anyone can fill it in and question 1 is “are you Jewish” and question 2 is “are you British” and you fill it in from any web browser… and take the answers in good faith… allowing literally anyone to contribute to the results… well then you cannot be taking the methodology very seriously. But CAAS doesn’t need to, because they know with their network they can churn out the intended results infographic and get the whole world media singing their song. It’s a song of victimhood that’s had so many re-heatings and re-releases that even Bob Geldof would blush.

It’s a song about the poor Jews feeling scared. Not being actually murdered or gassed or blown to pieces but worrying that they might at some point. Whereas the Muslims victimhood song doesn’t even chart, when they are being massacred day in day out by our stormtroopers and hired guns.

The world is tired of the Jewish victimhood song, and tired of this victimhood being used as a weapon, as a means to bully people into observing Zionist taboos.

Antisemitism is a terrorist weapon. It is used to terrify the world into observing Zionist taboos through fear of losing social standing, being labeled a racist, being fired, exiled, diminished, hounded. This terror is being escalated by CAAS and all the other antisemite-hunters.

I’m Jewish; It takes Jewish privilege to be able to say this. It should not. But to actually question the dogma around antisemitism itself, is one of the ultimate taboos. It’s at the very foundations of the Zionist enterprise.

I don’t think there is any special exceptional Jew-hatred, a special antisemitism field existing all around us throughout time. People are really fucking pissed off with Israel though.

That’s why the public perception of antisemitism has to be cranked up now, because the gagging needs to be cranked up, because people are waking up smelling the bullshit and calling out Israel for its actions. Now that is the kind of antisemitism emergency that calls for a total propaganda war. Expect more assaults on free speech, the mines in the minefield are going to be increasingly sensitive. Expect increased casualties of public figures. Expect people to become more reticent about saying stuff; expect media and social media to clamp down on any anti-Israel sentiment.

Because otherwise, you know at this rate, we European Jews will all going to the gas soon. Yawn.”

Thanks to Engage for pointing out the misanthropic thinking at the heart of this sorry article.

It has been removed from JfJfp’s site, presumably they were seriously embarrassed by its embedded irrationality, but who knows?

The SWP, racism and Gilad Atzmon

My old political sparring partner, Bob from Brockley, has wide intellectual tastes, from anarchism to extraordinary musical endeavours and beyond.

But above all he is very charitable. He takes an interest in what ex-Socialist Workers Party members think and say. Notably the writings of Richard Seymour, one-time SWP intellectual and consummate blogger.

Bob gave space over to a fellow intellectual to examine Seymour’s views on the recent Paris attack.

I can’t say I always agree with Bob’s approach, but I admire his persistence in keeping an eye on (ex) SWPers.
SWPfist1
I am not terribly interested in Seymour or (ex) SWPers as people, rather the ideas that they put forward and represent, critically when it comes to antisemitism. I think it is worth commenting because there is a wider importance to this issue, how such attitudes help create a social climate that is hostile towards Jews.

A few thoughts.

SWPers

It is my view that (ex) SWPers often share many characteristics of 1960s Stalinists in their attitude toward Jews, either disdainful or oddly ambiguous.

I am not the first to come to this conclusion as the socialist Steve Cohen argued it years back.

[NB: I should point out for the sake of clarity and before any misunderstanding occurs that. I do not believe that the vast majority of (ex) SWPers are hardened antisemites, instead the evidence shows they are tolerant of those who are, which is the distinction I am making. I could add I have known some quite decent SWPers when I was an active trade unionist, but this is a discussion about their attitudes and where they lead, not them as individuals.]

My basic problem with SWPers and (ex) SWPers is, how it is very apparent they have learnt little or nothing from their encounters with antisemites or antisemitism.

To learn is normally to admit we don’t know something. Or to concede we might have made a mistake and don’t wish to repeat it. As far as I can see that has not happened with most leading (ex) SWPers. There are two obvious examples, the Stop the War Coalition and Gilad Atzmon.

Atzmon talks with another racist, Ken O'Keefe
Atzmon talks with another racist, Ken O’Keefe

Too close to antisemites

The fact that the Stop the War Coalition couldn’t see any problem using the works of the antisemite Alison Weir (not the historian) is simply astounding.

Further, if you investigate their site you will see only disdain for anything related to Jews (whatever guise that takes or whatever nickname is used). The Stop the War Coalition is run by a mix of ex-SWPers (Lindsey German, John Rees, etc), soft Stalinists and assorted types.

Whereas Gilad Atzmon is a prolific antisemite, despite once being an Israeli. For well over a dozen years Atzmon has had exceedingly questionable views concerning Jews. He never misses a chance to employ barely concealed antisemitic conspiracy theories or support those who do.

SWP hosted a racist

Yet you would be hard pushed to find any really significant critique from SWPers or (ex) SWPers of Atzmon.

That is despite the fact that the SWP supported and hosted this racist for years. Bob provides a great chronological guide, showing SWP’s support from 2004 to 2010.

And this is the disparity: how can people call themselves socialists, say they are opposed to antisemitism, yet allow their organisation to promote and aid an antisemite, Gilad Atzmon?

As far as I know, not a single SWPer resigned over their organisation’s support for that particular racist.

And intelligent people are compelled to ask why? Did their ingrained worship of Leninism override their antiracist principles? Was Atzmon’s racism really an issue for them? Did they grasp why they should oppose such an antisemite? Did it even register with them?

There are plenty of questions to ask, and whilst flippant answers may satisfy the intellectually barren (ex) SWPers, serious antiracists should not stop from questioning why it happened and what is to stop it happening again?

Atzmon is a litmus test as I previously wrote. The SWP and its members seriously failed that test, year after year.

SWPers and modern antisemitism

Any cursory examination of the Socialist Workers Party’s views around the topic of Jews reveal that the SWP have never had a sophisticated analysis of antisemitism. They fail to miss the most obvious signs.

But these are not thugs or ne’er-do-wells. The SWP leadership was over time replete with academics, educationalists and supposed antiracist activists. Whilst they may have been able to explain Marxist capital at great length SWPers couldn’t grasp the complexities of modern antisemitism.

It is not for want of intellectual gumption.

Instead it is how the (ex) SWPer’s view the world. It is a mechanical mindset, where Jews (whatever euphemism used), invariably, fall on one side and the (ex) SWPers and their allies are on the other.

That I find profoundly depressing, it is as if not one lesson has been learnt since their earlier collaboration with the racist Atzmon, even fewer questions have been asked.

In short, (ex) SWPers are really no wiser today than they were in 2009 when they continued to host Atzmon or in 2005 when the SWP issued a defence of him.

It is a truly lamentable situation for socialists to find themselves in, having a panoply of answers how to change the whole of the world for the better, yet not when the topic relates to Jews.

If you doubt my argument then at least consider the evidence or lack of it. On a weekly basis Jews are assaulted in Britain, yet with one small exception the main SWP publication, Socialist Worker, has never covered these incidents of physical antisemitism towards British Jews in any meaningful way.
Dark clouds
A plain disregard

I feel that shows a plain and simple disregard for Jews. However, I am sure that (ex) SWPers will find suitable excuses to explain it away, but would they take such a tack if any other ethnic minority was involved? Probably not.

Briefly, I don’t believe that the majority of (ex) SWPers are active antisemites, rather their political indoctrination means that when they deal with any topic relating to Jews they have a certain blind spot. The Atzmon debacle and the Stop the War coalition use of an antisemite’s material demonstrate this. It is apparent that since the SWP’s chumminess with an active racist, Atzmon, its many members and ex-members have learnt next to nothing.

A climate

Why is that an issue?

Because the SWP’s ex-members run some large organisations and have influence beyond their numbers. In turn their unchanged attitudes towards Jews can lead to a climate of hostility and aid racists, even if that is not their intention.

But more importantly, the SWP are part and parcel of the negative mood facing Jews in Britain. They do not throw bricks at synagogues instead they rant on about “Zionists” ad nauseam and help to perpetuate antagonism towards British Jews.

If SWP members and ex-members couldn’t resign on the principle of opposing racism when it came to Atzmon, what use are they? Have they no embarrassment now? Have they learnt anything at all?

The evidence suggests not, and that should worry anyone seriously opposed to antisemitism.

A few reminders about Atzmon and the SWP:

2004: “Gilad Atzmon will speak and perform on Tuesday 13 July at the Marxism 2004 festival and conference in London. You can find out more about his life and work at his website…”

2004: Richard Seymour on Atzmon. His advice was ignored for the next seven years.

2005:The SWP does not believe that Gilad Atzmon is a Holocaust denier or racist. However, while defending Gilad’s right to play and speak on public platforms that in no way means we endorse all of Gilad’s views. 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. In fact we have publicly challenged and argued against those of his ideas we disagree with.”

2005: “Gilad Atzmon is arguably the most outstanding artist to emerge on the British jazz scene in recent years. ”

2006: “Gilad declared, “I will be playing at the Cultures of Resistance concert because I support the Socialist Worker appeal.”

2007: “Readers of Socialist Review may know jazz musician Gilad Atzmon due to his Coltrane tour with Martin Smith and the Cultures of Resistance gig at this year’s Marxism.”

2007: “Gilad Atzmon is not racist” according to leading SWPers, Hannah Dee, Viv Smith and Lindsey German.

2007: Socialist Worker promoting: “A celebration of jazz musician Charlie Parker with Martin Smith and Gilad Atzmon. Includes launch of Gilad’s new album, Refuge ”

2008: “Gilad Atzmon celebrates Charlie Parker” [with Martin Smith]. Martin Smith was the SWP’s National Secretary and leading Central Committee member.

2009: “Disclaimer – I’ve never previously much liked Gilad Atzmon’s CDs. Live, he can be brilliant, with a bite and intensity that make him one of the best jazz artists working in Britain today. ”

2009: Atzmon hosted yet again at the SWP’s premier bookshop, Bookmarks.

2009: Atzmon argues “Throughout the centuries, Jewish bankers bought for themselves some real reputations of backers and financers of wars [2] and even one communist revolution [3]” A common neo-Nazi theme.

2012: Atzmon joins the neo-Nazi site, Veterans Today.

2013: My short piece, The death agony of the SWP

2014: Gilad Atzmon praises ex-KKKer David Duke

2014: Atzmon support for Holocaust Revisionists.

2015: Atzmon thinks the Paris shooting was a false flag. That is antisemite-speak for “Jews did it”.

Stop the War Coalition Doesn’t Object To neo-Nazis Or Antisemites

As a matter of public record this is a poem published by the British Stop the War Coalition.

Duff1

Astute readers will notice that it approvingly quotes from a neo-Nazi, Gordon Duff.

“JOAN RIVERS died in an endoscopy clinic
Where she was having her vocal chords examined.

Her voice had been getting raspier and raspier,
And recently she’d berated an interviewer
On leaving LAX, Los Angeles airport,
Who’d had the impudence to solicit her opinion
On the then current massacres in Gaza.

She turned on him angrily screaming
That she had “zero sympathy
For the civilians killed in Gaza”
Because “they had fair warning to get out, and they didn’t …
“So they deserve to die. They were told to get out.
“They didn’t get out. You don’t get out? you are an idiot.
“Hamas,” she continued, “was re-elected
By a lot of stupid people who don’t even own a pencil.
“At least the ones that were killed,” she added with a savage relish,
“Were the ones with very low I.Q.s.”

She then praised World War Two being ended by Hiroshima and Nagasaki
And she continued hoarsely shouting
At the interviewer who’d had the gall to ask her,
In view of her uncritical support for the Israeli State,
What were her feelings about the deaths of 1400 people:
“They started it. We now don’t count who’s dead.
“You’re dead, you deserve to be dead.”

In her snarling triumphalism
She was suggesting
That three hundred and seventy three children,
Killed by Israel’s ‘Protective Edge’,
Had brought their own deaths
Upon themselves.
“You’re dead, you deserve to be dead.”

However karma is also a bitch,
And shortly afterwards Rivers
Would lose her voice
And, worse still, upon her entering the endoscopy clinic
And being given an anaesthetic
She fell into a coma and died.

The friend of Nancy Reagan, the friend of Netanyahu,
And the friend and favoured wedding guest of Prince Charles,
She would dance attendance upon the rich and powerful
And make it clear that she held political opinions
That matched theirs. She’d play court jester
And then growl, “We must bomb the shit out of Iran”.

Her friend, the Prince, said that he was ‘deeply saddened’
By the comedian’s death
And, keen to identify himself with outpourings of showbiz grief,
He added that, “Joan Rivers was an extraordinary woman
“With an original and indefatigable spirit,
“An unstoppable sense of humour and an enormous zest for life.
“She will be hugely missed and utterly irreplaceable.”

In his dull insouciance the hapless Prince
Had overlooked the fact that his heroine,
Fawned upon in Hollywood as the ‘Duchess of Dirt’,
‘Queen Wise-Arse’, and the ‘Goddess of Snark’,
Had advised his future daughter-in-law, Kate Middleton,
‘If you ever want to go to Paris, fly, don’t take the tunnel.’

But perhaps he hadn’t really forgotten it –
Perhaps he’d perversely savoured Rivers’ sick reference
To his ex-wife’s untimely death…
And nor did Charles seem aware that,
Far from her being “irreplaceable”,
Much of Joan Rivers had been replaced by plastic.

Thanks to nearly three hundred operations
She’d become a smooth skinned gargoyle
Coated by a lustrous chemical sheen;
A reflective veneer on her tautened pink skin.

In 2010 she tweeted, “With all the plastic surgery I’ve had,
I’m worried when I die God won’t recognize me.”

The historian Alan Hart responded,
“If she was still alive today, I would say to her something like,
‘If he does recognize you, perhaps you should worry
About whether he will forgive you for saying
That, because they voted for Hamas,
The Palestinians of the Gaza Strip prison camp
Deserved what they were getting
When Israel was delivering them
More death and destruction.”

The commentator Gordon Duff had a less measured response:
“May a gaggle of flying blood monkeys escort her to the side of her creator”.

Others disobligingly wondered whether
Those disposing of her body would cremate her
Or would recycle her plastic corpse.

“I’ve had so much plastic surgery,” she’d declare,
“When I die they will donate my body to Tupperware.”
Although sadly, Tupperware might not think it served their brand –
Devoted to keeping food fresh in a hygienic fashion.

Most tragically of all, despite her surgery she was wistfully to confess,
“No man has ever, ever told me I’m beautiful.”

Maybe that was because there was an inner ugliness
That couldn’t be concealed by cosmetics:
The inner ugliness of a woman who’d often complain
How much she was inconvenienced by children on ‘planes
By saying “where is Casey Anthony when you need her?”
Casey Anthony being an infamous mother
Accused of killing her two-year-old daughter
By suffocating her with parcel tape;
Ugliest of all perhaps, Rivers took a hideous pride
In doing anything for money:
“For $500, I’ll write for Hitler,” she said.

There is now a new face in hell,
With its mouth made of collagen
And a voice that may mercifully be silent. “

Update 1: This is where Duff’s word were extracted from:

Gordon_duff_Screenshot from 2014-09-10 11:17:18

Notice the link to the Daily Stormer, Stormfront’s regular neo-Nazi filth.

Update 2: I covered Gordon Duff’s Veterans Today previously.

Duff is rather keen on David Duke.

Not forgetting his admiration for the Holocaust denying, David Irving.

Update 3: A moment’s research on Gordon Duff would reveal his sick racist view, Veterans Today Editor Blames Newtown Tragedy on Israel.

Update 4: Heathcote Williams eventually managed to remove Duff’s contribution, but wasn’t too troubled to tackle antisemitism on Stop the War Coalition’s web site, ie. Alison Weir’s appalling article.

I can’t say I am surprised. Only a matter of time before another hardcore antisemite pops up on their site. Not that they will notice.

Gilad Atzmon praises ex-KKKer David Duke

Most literate adults (or at least those with access to the Internet) would probably know to avoid the opinions of David Duke.

duke1_kkk

Duke, ex-Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, convicted fraudster and semiprofessional antisemite is hardly a reputable source.

Yet the “activist” Gilad Atzmon has a high opinion of Duke:

“…

Now there is something very interesting and it’s again the first time I’m saying it. The left is devastated by David Duke for instance. He was in the KKK when he was young. But here is something quite amazing: I read him and I was shocked to find out that this guy knows more about Jewish identity than I do! How could a supposedly ‘racist’ Gentile who probably never entered a synagogue knows more than I do about Judaism? The reason is in fact very simple : he is a proud white man. He’s interested in nationalism, in the culture of his own people, so he understands things that I am not even allowed to think about. Believe it or not, even as a Jew, I wasn’t allowed to think of myself as a racist. I was a racist, maybe I am still one, but I was not allowed to acknowledge it. Once he acknowledges the he’s talking about white people’s rights, in a way he thinks like Avigdor Lieberma ! But in fact, he is way better than Liberman. David Duke is a humanist because he says, «I want to celebrate my right and you should celebrate your rights» whether you are Muslim or black or whatever. He believes that all people should celebrate their rights, this is his current philosophy. Avidgor Liberman is not a humanist, because he wants to celebrate his rights at the expense of other people.”

Duke hasn’t, really, changed his views over the years, just polished them and tried to drag in the gullible or those seriously hung-up on the existence of Jews.

Bird of a feather flock together?

(H/T: Adam Holland)

Update 1: The SPLC on Former Klan Leader David Duke Expelled From Italy@

“No one wants David Duke.

The former Klansman, Holocaust denier and founder of a series of hate groups was expelled from Italy in early December after a court there deemed him “socially dangerous” for allegedly planning to create a pan-European neo-Nazi group. Duke, who has fled or been expelled from several countries before, was kicked out of Italy this time after a court upheld a finding that he had entered the country on false pretenses by using his middle name, Ernest, in place of his first.”

Update 2: Not forgetting Huff Post Crime’s coverage, David Duke Arrested In Germany, Ex-Klan Leader Faces Deportation:

“Since his release from prison, Duke has traveled and lectured widely, including a 2006 appearance at a Holocaust denial conference in Tehran, Iran. The conference featured numerous speeches denouncing the Holocaust as a “myth.” At the conference, Duke voiced support for discredited, fringe scholars imprisoned in Europe for denying the use of gas chambers against Jews during the Holocaust.

In the United States, Duke continues to speak regularly at gatherings of prominent right-wing groups and writes for Stormfront, a leading white-supremacist website.”

Update 3: Well worth a read, Ron Stallworth, Police Sergeant, Chronicles His Experience As Undercover KKK Member, particularly the slideshow “A day in the life of the KKK”

Ron Stallworth’s blog and his insights make very necessary reading.
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Update 4: the SPLC looks at a new David Duke project, Anti-Semitism Illustrated: David Duke Working on New ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’:

“White supremacist David Duke has a new book coming out, of sorts – a repackaged and “illustrated” version of the notorious anti-Semitic hoax, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” But unlike previous editions of the text – all of which attempted to claim that the book was a genuine transcript of a gathering of wealthy Jews who conspired to bring about the enslavement of Western civilization – Duke is taking a different tack.

“The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” Duke now claims, is in fact a work of fiction – which means, he says, that the hoax issue is moot. Instead, as he explains in his promotional video for the book, the text is like all “great literature” – a work of art whose value lies in the greater truths it supposedly reveals about the world. ”

In all likelihood Gilad Atzmon will be endorsing that too!

Update 4: Last year the CST blog exposed Atzmon and some of his friends, Truth Movement – “Stupidest People on the Planet”??

Update 5: The SPLC takes on “Dr. Duke”:

“Former Klansman David Duke has made much of his academic credentials of late. On his website, he repeatedly refers to himself as “Dr.” David Duke, a reference to the supposed Ph.D. he “earned” in 2005 at an anti-Semitic Ukrainian institution described as a “diploma mill” by the State Department. Around the white supremacist world, excited accolades to Duke’s scholarship abound.

As the closest thing the radical right has to an intellectual today, Duke claims to uphold the high standards of academia. His website brims with criticisms of plagiarism — although they come, naturally, in the form of repeated attacks on civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who is characterized as a “world-class plagiarist.” Plagiarism, Duke’s site adds piously, is “theft,” a rip-off that the site suggests amounts to “a serious felony.”

Duke, meanwhile, continues to boast of his “Ph.D” — his website, for instance, is now headlined, “The Official Website of Representative David Duke, PhD,” although he hasn’t been a Louisiana state representative for 17 years. As to the Ph.D., well, what Duke actually got at the Ukraine’s Interregional Academy of Personnel Management is a “Kandidat Nauk” degree, which ranks below a full doctorate. It was awarded to Duke for a thesis entitled, “Zionism as a Form of Ethnic Supremacism” and was the second degree given Duke by the university, which had earlier handed the former Klan boss an honorary degree.

Jeremy Bowen, BDS and Obvious Questions

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Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East Editor recently stated:

I feel there are many serious questions that need to be asked about BDS and racism.

I have covered them many times before, but this handy Tumblr draws them together:

Twitter, Storify and how to spot a bigot.

[The above image was taken from one of the numerous antisemitic web sites that support BDS.

How do I know it was antisemitic? Because it rants on about 9/11, blaming Jews, and promotes Holocaust denial. That is how!]

Stop The War: Parroting The Arguments Of A Thuggish Putin

The premier antiwar movement in Britain, the Stop the War Coalition, are in a bit of a bind.

They owe their existence to campaigning against the invasion of Iraq. They actively campaign on the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Yet for years they were silent on Assad’s slaughter of Syrian civilians. For the first years of the Assad dictatorship campaign of mass murder not a word of criticism was heard from Britain’s Stop the War Coalition.

They were always very quick to criticise British and US governments, but could barely mumble a single scornful word against Assad.

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Nevertheless, this time around they have learnt their lesson.

So instead of shuffling their feet and talking about anything else they have issued a statement on the crisis in Ukraine and Russia’s military involvement in the Crimea.

It is a pitiful piece, that could have been written by one of Putin’s trusted advisers. It is basically soft propaganda for the Russian regime, full of disjointed arguments and non sequiturs

The Economist has thankfully fisked it:

8) The historical divisions within Ukraine are complex and difficult to overcome. But it is clear that many Russian speakers, there and in the Crimea, do not oppose Russia. These countries have the right to independence, but the nature of that independence is clearly highly contested. There is also the reality of potential civil war between east and west Ukraine. The very deep divisions will only be exacerbated by war.

This comment is perhaps the easiest to rebut: Ms German is mistaking the Ukrainian protest movement for the aggressors in the current crisis. The new government in no way threatens Russian-speakers in the Crimea. Moscow, not Kiev, is the preeminent belligerent thus far.

9) Those who demand anti-war activity here in Britain against Russia are ignoring the history and the present reality in Ukraine and Crimea. The B52 liberals only oppose wars when their own rulers do so, and support the ones carried out by our governments. The job of any anti-war movement is to oppose its own government’s role in these wars, and to explain what that government and its allies are up to.

Ms German does not enlighten us on how, precisely, the British government is guilty of “war” against Ukraine or Russia. She also fails to explain why the “job” of an “anti-war” movement is to attack its own passive government while parroting the arguments of a thuggish, illiberal power threatening its neighbour with invasion.

10) The crisis in Ukraine has much to do with the situation in Syria, where major powers are intervening in the civil war. The defeat for intervention last year has infuriated the neocons. They are determined to start new wars. After the US failures in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, the neocons are looking for a defeat of Russia over Ukraine, and by extension, China too. The situation is developing into a new cold war. The rivalry between the west and Russia threatens to explode into a much larger war than has been seen for many years.

Again, Ms German conveniently ignores interventions in Syria by those “major powers” that she finds more palatable than the US or Britain—Iran and Russia. That, and her comment about China, suggests a preference for illiberal non-Western powers over liberal Western ones. It is an oddly one-sided comparison: she delights in listing Western flaws (real and imagined) while unquestioningly accepting anti-Western dogma. For one who leads an organisation committed to “stopping the war”, it is a fatal error.”

Update 1:I have commented on Russia’s role in Syria before.

Refugees From Assad’s Campaign of Murder

The level of ambivalence found in the West towards the mass death of Syrian civilians is truly grotesque.

In March 2014 it will be the three year anniversary of the conflict, which started with peaceful protests and continues with the Syrian government dropping barrel bombs.

Nearly three whole years of slaughter. A point to ponder.

This map shows only one aspect of the conflict, mass refugees.

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We need to be under no illusion that the cause of suffering in Syria is placed squarely at the feet of the Assad government and their allies, Russia, China and Iran. The latter countries have fuelled the conflict from the outset and propped up Syria’s murderous dictatorship.

What I find most galling in the West is the denial of basic facts about the Assad regime. Westerners seem to have an infinite amount of concern about the Middle East until it affects real people.

Hussein Ibish, one of the most intelligent Middle East commentators, re-enforces that point by asking “Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk are being starved to death by the Syrian regime. Does anyone care?”

Please do read it:

“There isn’t much the Palestinian people haven’t suffered. But the use of enforced starvation against them by the Syrian dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad at the Yarmouk refugee camp breaks new ground in cruelty. Hundreds are said to be facing imminent death by starvation, lack of water and medical care, and the loss, for almost a year now, of all heat and electricity.

The crucial thing is not simply that Assad and his allies – Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia – must be held fully and completely responsible for this outrage. It must also be noted that the international community and the Arab world are not doing enough to respond to it, practically or politically. They have done virtually nothing as Yarmouk’s pre-war population of 250,000 has shrunk in the past three years to 18,000 famished, cowering, and shivering souls.

Those who still worship at the altar of the false idol of “resistance” and see Assad, Iran, Hezbollah, and their allies as the embodiment of the Arab cause are not simply disingenuous or delusional propagandists. Their thinking – not even, but especially, if it is sincere – is profoundly sick.”

I have covered Syria elsewhere.

Islamophobia And Social Media

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There is a new report covering the phenomenon of Islamophobia and social media.

It comes from the superb Online Hate Prevention Institute and leading scholar in the field, Dr Andre Oboler.

“On International Human Rights Day, December 10th 2013, the Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI) have released a major new report into the growing problem of online hate targeting the Muslim community. The full report, titled ‘Islamophobia on the Internet: The growth of online hate targeting Muslims’, is available below as a free download.

The report examines anti-Muslim hate on Facebook and was produced by the Online Hate Prevention Institute, Australia’s only charity entirely dedicated to the growing problem of online hate. We thank the Islamic Council of Victoria, the peak body representing Victoria’s Muslim community, who we consulted regularly in the preparation of this report. The report follows previous major works by OHPI examining online hate against Indigenous Australians, the Jewish Community, and the ANZACs and Military Veterans.

This major work examines 50 anti-Muslim Facebook pages. The Facebook pages range from “The Islamic threat” which today passed the 113,000 supporter mark and continues to rapidly grow, to “Mohammad the PIG” which vanished after reaching 2000 supporters. From these 50 pages the report documents 349 images of anti-Muslim hate. These images represent 191 unique images and many repetitions as messages of hate move between the different pages.”

Read more here.

The link to the download is towards the end of the page and marked ‘Islamophobia on the Internet: The growth of online hate targeting Muslims by Andre Oboler.

Update 1: The Online Hate Prevention Institute has produced a number of fine and informative publications which can be found here.

Not forgetting their briefings and opinion pieces.

Racial Attack Against An Imam In Hull

History has shown that a climate of intolerance and anxiety leads to racial attacks.
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The constant back-biting aimed at British Muslims in the media and on the Web has real and deadly consequences, the Guardian reports:

“Details of the assault on Imam Hafiz Salik, 60, have only just emerged. His son Ateeq Salik said his father was driving home last Saturday evening from his daughter’s house next to the Hull Mosque and Islamic Centre when two men and a woman tried to stop his car.

“They ran into the middle of the road and he had to do an emergency stop. He beeped the horn at them,” said the imam’s son. “One of the men lay down in the road right in front of the car. My father was confused and thought he was injured. Then the man slowly got up and went to the car and opened the door. My mum was sitting in the front and my youngest sister was in the back. He looked at all of them and he punched my father very hard in the face. It was a very forceful punch and my father’s face was covered in blood. Then the man walked away.” “[My emphasis.]

Update 1: The Hull Daily Mail has more.

Fake Quotes And Nelson Mandela

As I commented elsewhere, even before Nelson Mandela’s body was cold various cynical operators were trying to expropriate his memory.

As distasteful as that is, it is to be expected. Political activists have axes to grind and often very little self-awareness.

They cannot understand when they are being tasteless, silly or cynical. That applies across the political spectrum from the Left to the extremes of the Right.

However, there are no excuses for using fake quotes.

These are very common in the arena of debate on the Middle East.

Regrettably, the speaker and personality Mohammed Ansar has allowed himself to be manipulated in this area.
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Mohammed Ansar may have had the best of intentions. But it is incredibly sloppy for anyone in the lime-light, with access to Google. Public figures and organisations on Twitter need to take extra care.

We know this is fake because the original author, Arjan El Fassed, admits it.

Even the Electronic Intifada site acknowledges that fact:

Editor’s note, 28 June 2013: This article was written by Arjan El Fassed in 2001 in the satirical style then being employed by Thomas Friedman, of writing mock letters from one world leader to another. Although it carries El Fassed’s byline, it has been repeatedly mistaken for an actual letter from Mandela. It is not. It is a piece of satire. El Fassed has written this history of the piece and how it subsequently was mistaken for a real letter, on his personal blog.” [My emphasis.]

My own view is, by all means criticise any government for their actions or deeds, but don’t get pulled into demonisation or use fake quotes. In the age of Google there is no excuse.

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.

Over at Tumblr Too!

I am trying a little experiment out at Tumblr.
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I find Twitter fascinating, but 140 characters is terribly challenging, even with the greatest of effort. So I am going to use Tumblr for the odd thought that can’t be compressed into Twitter-speak or does not deserve a full blog post here.

Obviously, other alternatives exist such as TwitLonger, but I felt Tumblr offered more.

I shall continue using Storify as its interface with Twitter is excellent, if occasionally slow.

Please do expect plenty of typos, poor grammar and an abundance of misspellings on my Tumblr account, Longer Soupy.

World Socialist Web Site: Doing PR for Assad

Cherry picking is not just confined to fruit.
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It is incredibly popular amongst politicos. Such an approach can be seen from the World Socialist Web Site’s defence of the Assad government on the Houla massacre.

A copy is left below as a public record, as the original was recently removed!


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung confirms: Houla massacre committed by Syrian “rebels”

By
Clara Weiss

16 June 2012

On June 13, journalist Rainer Hermann confirmed his earlier report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung refuting the official version of the Houla massacre in Syria.

The media have almost unanimously described the May 25 events in Houla as an atrocity committed by the Syrian government, relying almost exclusively on reports from the so-called “rebels.” Western powers have used the massacre as a pretext to whip up pro-war sentiment and intensify their pressure on the Assad regime. The US and UK reacted to the massacre by withdrawing diplomats from Syria.

In his June 7 report, Hermann asserted that the victims of the massacre in Taldou, a village in the Houla region, were members of the Alawite und Shi’ite minorities and that the killers were not troops loyal to the Assad regime, but forces aligned with the Sunni-based sectarian Free Syrian Army (FSA).

Although the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is one of the most prominent German-language newspapers and Hermann a well-known journalist, the report has largely been ignored by the German and international media and criticized in a few reports.

In his new article June 13, Hermann defends his reporting and adds further details about the massacre. This report has also been met largely with silence.

The Houla plains region, Hermann writes, “is burdened by a long history of sectarian tensions. … Of the names of the civilians killed, 84 are known. These are the fathers, mothers and 49 children of the Al Sayyid family and two branches of the Abdarrazzaq family. … Additionally killed in Taldou were relatives of the … member of parliament Abdalmuti Mashlab.”

Hermann goes on to describe what happened: “The family members were targeted and killed with only one exception. No neighbour was injured. One had to have knowledge of the place to carry out these well-planned executions”.

Hermann then quotes 11-year-old Ali, the only member of the Al Sayyid family to survive the bloodbath: “Those responsible had shaved heads and long beards”. In Hermann’s opinion, this points to “fanatical jihadists” and not the Shabiha militia.

The version of the event advanced in the global media, in particularly lurid fashion by Britain’s Observer and Der Spiegel, the German news magazine, blames the Shabiha militias, regarded as assault detachments of the Assad regime. These articles rely on the testimony of a Major Jihad Raslan, said to have first served in Assad’s army, who then deserted because he was so appalled by the “events in Houla”. Hermann’s article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung exposes these reports as a bunch of lies.

Hermann reconstructs the sequence of events as follows: “After the Friday prayers on May 25, more than 700 armed people led by Abdurrazzaq Tlass and Yahya Yusuf, forming three groups from Rastan, Kafr Laha and Akraba, attacked three army checkpoints around Taldou. The numerically superior rebels and the (mostly also Sunni) soldiers fought bloody battles in which two dozen soldiers, mostly conscripts, were killed. During and after the fighting the rebels, supported by residents of Taldou, wiped out the Al Sayyid and Abdarrazzaq families. They had refused to join the opposition”.

In his article, Hermann refers to earlier reports by other journalists and nuns from the Jacob Monastery in Qara. Nuns had described to Dutch journalist Martin Jannsen how the “rebels” piled the bodies of dead soldiers and civilians in front of the mosque and told UN observers their version of the alleged massacre in front of cameras from “rebel”-friendly television channels.

The nun Agnès-Maryam had already described the escalation of sectarian violence around Homs in an open letter toward the end of April. She warned of a step-by-step liquidation of all minorities by the Sunni “rebels” and described the displacement of Christians and Alawites from their homes and the rape of young girls who had been given to the “rebels” as spoils of war.

Herman also refers to Russian journalist Marat Musin, who works for the Anna news agency and was in Houla on May 25 and 26, thus becoming an eyewitness to the events as well as a reporter. So far, Musin seems to have given the most detailed description of what took place. His version coincides with Hermann’s and that of the nuns on all decisive points.

These reports and the latest article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung confirm that Syria is being ravaged by a civil war deliberately promoted by Western powers to destabilize the country and prepare it for regime-change. The rebels do not speak for the majority of the population. They are made up of former members of the regime, soldiers, mercenaries, terrorists and secret agents pursuing a reactionary political agenda, many of them using the support by the West to settle old scores and carry out sectarian conflicts.

International news media are supporting the war preparations of US imperialism and its allies in an unprecedented campaign of agitation and propaganda. That is why Hermann’s article and the well-documented reports of other journalists and eyewitnesses are mostly being hushed up.

Human Rights Watch on Syria:

“On May 25, at least 108 residents of Houla near Homs were also killed, most shot at close range. According to survivors and local activists, it was pro-government armed men who were responsible for the executions. In late August, residents from the Damascus suburbs of Daraya and Moadamiya also described finding hundreds of bodies following ground operations there. Some of the victims appeared to have been executed by government forces.”

I have covered Syria many times before.

Wikimedia Foundation and Antisemitism

jw1I chanced upon this discussion on Jimmy Wales’ page. It is best to read it in full.

I think a fair summary is, one particular Wikimedia Foundation employee was an admirer of Adolf Hitler and alarm bells didn’t ring with his employer.

Or maybe they did? His contract was subsequently ended. However, the lingering impression is, many connected to Wikimedia can’t simply understand what the fuss is about.

Perhaps they should read Wikipedia’s page on World War II casualties and ponder the role of a certain Austrian corporal?

I am reproducing it here in full as a public record, just in case it gets “accidentally” deleted:
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Norman Geras. Not an obituary.

I think I first heard Professor Emeritus Norman Geras talk about 8-9 years ago. It was some event at Senate House. I had read his blog for some time and wanted to hear him in person.

He was impressive, intellectually.

That is the word for him, but moreover connected to humanity.
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I often disagreed with Norm. My last email exchange with him could have been much better. My fault entirely. He never made a point of highlighting his illness. Norm kept writing intelligently to the very last.

This is not an obituary for Norm, but praise of his intellectual prowess, kindness and deep connection to civilisation in all its various forms.

I can make no better recommendation than to suggest reading his blog from the first post onwards. Think about the point he is trying to convey. Disagree with it and then have a rethink.

Norm enriched humanity, and what better tribute is there?

Norm Geras on Blogger, from July 2003.

Norm Geras on Typepad, from 31st December 2003.

I shall be adding to this post over the next few days. Readers, please do leave links to any material on Norm that I have missed.

Update 1: Pioneering blogger Norman Geras dies of prostate cancer aged 70.

Norman Geras in the Guardian.

John Rentoul on Norman Geras: 1943-2013.

Norman Geras at New Left Review.

Update 2: The superb Norm Fest site has been set up by Damian Counsell.

Update 3: Engage has produced a small tribute, Norm 1943-2013.

Update 4: Choosing one or two particular posts from Norm is incredibly difficult. He was consistently outstanding, but these two should strike a bell with thinking antiracists:

On resigning from the union.

David Ward MP, innocent.

Update 5: Norman Geras: For Human Nature by Colin Talbot.

Martin In The Margins is good, R.I.P. Norman Geras (1943 – 2013).
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Labour, Letters And Clear Water

Both Paul Bernal and Sunny Hundal have written open letters to Rachel Reeves. First, the ex-Labour Party member expresses what many of us feel:

“This is a rare chance for you – I do hope you haven’t already thrown it away. Ed Miliband’s speech at conference was very well received, and seemed to pretty seriously rattle the Tories. They, in response, revealed some of their nastiest aspects at their conference. The Lib Dems are still in chaos. With the departure of Liam Byrne, you had a chance to change the game. It was a chance get onto the front foot, and set the agenda – as Ed Miliband did so well with the energy price freeze policy. Did you notice how well that resonated with people? And how the promise to repeal the Bedroom Tax resonated with people? Did you ask yourself why? One of the key reasons is that it put clear water between Labour and the Tories. It showed that Labour understood peoples’ problems, and actually seemed to care about them. It showed that Labour was no longer going to just be a slightly milder version of the Tories…. or so we thought.
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Through your interview, you’ve reversed all that. You may well have lost all the goodwill gained by the Party Conference. I do hope that’s not the case, and I hope you’ll be willing to reconsider your approach. Personally, I live in Cambridge, which is a marginal seat, currently held by the Lib Dems, and I would have thought that you want my vote. Right now, with an approach like this, I don’t think I can give it to you. After Ed Miliband’s speech I was even considering rejoining the Labour Party – after a long gap – and putting a good deal of energy into supporting the campaign. I’d still like to do that, but with an approach like this, I really can’t see a way. [My emphasis.] “

Sunny puts it in an more moderate way:

“The conventional wisdom within Labour is that the party is seen as ‘soft’ on people who claim social security and too forgiving of people who abuse the system. You will know that poorer people are usually harsher towards others on benefits and want tough sanctions on abusers of the system. You will have seen polling that suggests Labour needs to neutralise that image or else people may be tempted to vote for the Conservatives in 2015. Hence you wanted to sound tough in your interview with the Observer on Sunday.

This talk of Labour ‘walking into a welfare trap’ set by the Tories has itself become a problem: we keep returning to the safe ground of ‘tough’ rhetoric, without convincing messages or policies that favour Labour in the long term. It is time to bring some fresh thinking to this debate and I hope you won’t shy away from doing so.”

Update 1: George Eaton argues EU study shreds the myth of “benefit tourism”.

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.
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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.”

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