Genteel Racism at Liberal Conspiracy And Cranks Around Up

We tend to think of anti-Jewish sentiment as coming from the Far Right, yet nowadays it is fairly common to find examples of it on liberal or left wing web sites. It is not overt or blunt as found amongst the extreme racists, but there are tell-tale signs: conspiracy theories and strange terminology.

Some posters at Liberal Conspiracy indulge in such activities without a moment’s recrimination or actions from the site’s moderators or post’s author.

I am not surprised that racists mount their pathetic hobbyhorses, rather that the non-racists who read that material at Liberal Conspiracy can’t see a problem or are willing to let it go unchallenged. If I were charitable I might conclude that most at Liberal Conspiracy don’t understand racism, and in particular anti-Jewish racism.

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Shorter version: maligning Israelis and Jews gives the game away. Particularly if there is a pejorative reference to the “Chosen”, or consciously linking to Rense, a site which proffers conspiracy theories, anti-Jewish racism and approvingly advertises David Duke.

This is not an isolated incident at Liberal Conspiracy as I have covered such poor behaviour before.

Even George Orwell spotted this form of usage in the post war period.

In an under reported topic on the British media, Asiya Islam looks at discrimination faced by Muslims, as seen by five women:
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Hugo Chavez, Comandante

Radio 4’s book of the week, Comandante, is magnificent.

Rory Carroll’s narrative gives a subtle favour of Chavez, Venezuela and the reality of life there.

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The Miami Herald reviewed his book, which the radio programme is based on:

“In his latest book, Irish journalist Rory Carroll delivers an authoritative account of the complicated legacy of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who died this month. In Comandante, Carroll — who served as The Guardian correspondent in Caracas from 2006 until 2012 — describes in minute detail how Chávez, who ruled Venezuela from 1999 until his death on March 5, created something unique, “an authoritarian democracy . . . . a hybrid system of personality cult and one-man rule.” Here is Chávez not as a one-dimensional symbol but in all his complexity: The utopian socialist, the voracious reader, the vainglorious militarist, the bad husband, the doting father.

Even as he describes how Chávez empowered poor communities in Venezuela by creating communal councils and building homes for thousands of people who had never known decent shelter, Carroll succinctly outlines how the president squandered the great opportunity for durable development afforded to him by record-high oil prices, failing to diversify the country’s economy.

At the heart of this failure proves to be a desire — above all else — for power.

Chávez had a digital record of the names of three million people who had voted against him in a 2004 recall referendum, which was then used “to purge signatories from the state payroll, to deny jobs, contracts, loans, documents, to harass and punish, to make sectarianism official.” The mastermind behind the list, Luis Tascón, went on to become a strident critic of government corruption and was banished from Chávez’s inner circle before his own death in 2010.

Chávez’s opposition — a diffuse and disorganized group of former military allies, civil libertarians, the country’s besieged middle class and what Chávez would doubtless refer to as the country’s rancid oligarchy — never managed to unseat him. This is perhaps not surprising. They were faced with the cheerleading omnipotence of the ubiquitous state media — the result of Chávez’s war against Venezuela’s virulently hostile private media — and massive slush funds paid for with money siphoned from the state oil company.

Chávez did not ascend to and retain power alone, though, and contained in Carroll’s book are revealing snapshots of those who accompanied the president: The Machiavellian academic-turned-government-official Jorge Giordani; the gruff bus driver who would become foreign minister (and now president) Nicolás Maduro; the slippery former army officer Diosdado Cabello.”

Boris Johnson Lying Through His Teeth

The BBC gets a lot of stick nowadays, but this small clip, where Eddie Mair questions the London Mayor, Boris Johnson is worth its weight in gold.

Apparently, Boris Johnson: The Irresistible Rise will be broadcast on BBC Two at 21:00 GMT on 25 March.

Update 1: Who can forget Nye Bevan’s lovely quote on the Tories:

“That is why no amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party that inflicted those bitter experiences on me. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin.

They condemned millions of first-class people to semi-starvation. Now the Tories are pouring out money in propaganda of all sorts and are hoping by this organised sustained mass suggestion to eradicate from our minds all memory of what we went through.

But, I warn you young men and women, do not listen to what they are saying now. Do not listen to the seductions of Lord Woolton. He is a very good salesman. If you are selling shoddy stuff you have to be a good salesman. But I warn you they have not changed, or if they have they are slightly worse than they were.”

I wish the modern Labour Party had remembered that, particularly when it came to workfare.

Bold Mehdi Hasan on Antisemitism

I thought Mehdi Hasan’s piece at Huff Post was very bold.

He didn’t have to write it, but made a concious choice to combat antisemitism. So commendable:

“To claim that your jail sentence for dangerous driving is the result of a Jewish plot is bigoted and stupid. The peer has since been suspended from the Labour Party and forced to stand down as a trustee of the Joseph Interfaith Foundation. I’m not sure how many “Jewish friends” he has left – if, that is, he had any to begin with.

Full disclosure: I know Lord Ahmed and have defended him in the past. In 2007, he flew out to Sudan to help free the schoolteacher Gillian Gibbons from the clutches of the odious Islamist regime in Khartoum. In 2009, an Appeal Court judge noted how the peer had “risked his life trying to flag down other vehicles to stop them colliding with… his car”. He is not a latter-day Goebbels. But herein lies the problem. There are thousands of Lord Ahmeds out there: mild-mannered and well-integrated British Muslims who nevertheless harbour deeply anti-Semitic views.”

I wish others would stand up to anti-Muslim bigotry with the same vigour.

To paraphrase someone else, you can’t combat antisemitism or anti-Muslim attitudes if you are hard on one but not the other.

You can’t be selectively antiracist.

China’s Gulags, Tories Fiddle The Law And LibDem Porridge

Years back, as older readers will testify, one of the major criticisms of the Soviet Union was its arbitrary use of the gulag.

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Most of us have thought they were a relic of the past where Kings and despotic rulers locked up dissidents and their opponents, but they are very much alive in the 21st century, as the BBC reports:

“The Zhuzhou Baimalong Labour Camp is an imposing sight, built like a prison.

At the front there’s a giant, curved facade, lined with classical columns, where the main gate stands. Behind it is a sprawling collection of white buildings, some six or seven storeys high, with workshops, vegetable gardens and a parade ground, all surrounded by a high wall and watchtowers.

The camp is just one component in China’s sprawling gulag system, known as “laojiao”. These camps are a throwback to the years just after China’s Communist revolution, and many outside China don’t even know they still exist.

There’s a constant flow of police vehicles and buses in and out of the camp. It’s big enough to hold hundreds of inmates, all sent here to undergo “re-education through labour”. You see them every now and again, in lines, walking from one building to another, performing exercises.

Drifting on the wind you can hear the chants of inmates, undergoing their forced re-education. Just an order from a policeman is enough to have you locked up here for as long as four years.

Tang Hui, a former inmate, guides us closer to the huge camp gate. Her incarceration here last year caused outrage in China.

“It was living nightmare. A real nightmare would have been better. I could have woken up from that,” she says, dissolving into tears.”

The Tories were caught breaking the law, by those dastardly radical High Court judges, but with boundless gall they are now changing that law, to prove they are innocent:

“The Department for Work and Pensions has introduced emergency legislation to reverse the outcome of a court of appeal decision and “protect the national economy” from a £130m payout to jobseekers deemed to have been unlawfully punished.

The retroactive legislation, published on Thursday evening and expected to be rushed through parliament on Tuesday, will effectively strike down a decision by three senior judges and deny benefit claimants an average payout of between £530 and £570 each.

Last month the court of appeal ruled that science graduate Cait Reilly and fellow complainant and unemployed lorry driver Jamieson Wilson had been unlawfully made to work unpaid for organisations including Poundland because the DWP had not given jobseekers enough legal information about what they were being made to do.

The ruling meant that hundreds of thousands of jobseekers who had been financially penalised for falling foul of half a dozen employment schemes, including the government’s flagship Work Programme, would have been entitled to a full rebate if a final government appeal was rejected by the supreme court.”

Golden Dawn’s growth has galvanised its supporters as Giorgos Katidis showed, openly giving a Nazi salute. I can’t help feeling that the lessons on the grotesque and propulsive nature of fascism never really sunk in, and that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to its resurgence.

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Finally, it might sound cruel but I feel more politicians should spend time in prison, to better understand the realities of life and meet some of their future constituents. No doubt it would be hard on them, but they would probably write a book and make a small fortune from their, temporary, incarceration.

Still, I wasn’t at all surprised that Chris Hulne and Vicky Pryce were given cushy billets within Her Majesty’s Prison Service.

It is their release that worries me.

They will probably put themselves forward as both experts and victims of the penal system, as Jonathan Aitken did.

On France, Richard Dawkins And Atos

The French President has stated what might be obvious to many people, but seems to go unsaid in Britain, that the victims in Toulouse last year were killed because they were Jews.

A similar point should have been made in the British media when killers deliberately sought out Mumbai’s Chabad House, however, given the peculiar nature of the British press, it wasn’t.

Tell MAMA takes on Richard Dawkins:

“Naturally, Dawkins, his supporters, and the broader movement of self-identified ‘liberal, nice, decent people’ may yet defend themselves as critics of Islam who do not adopt the violent extremist attitudes of EDL members. Many of them may well be decent people though it is important that they realise that their actions may feed into the rhetoric of hate organisations like the EDL.

Sometimes, the language and comments used may well be perceived by Muslims as being identical to groups like the EDL and whilst they are coming from different places, the impact and perceptions on Muslim individuals may be the same – whether from the liberal or political left or whether from the Far Right.

Any form of speech that lumps groups of individuals together and abuses them collectively is unacceptable in a tolerant, diverse, and equal society.

Furthermore, these ‘decent, nice and liberal people’ need to understand that some in society attack Islam to undermine and dehumanise Muslims. Some genuinely believe that by attacking Islam, they are having no impact on the perception of Muslims by others.

It is therefore not a simple issue and saying that hating and attacking Islam does not impact or affect Muslims in our communities is naive.”[My emphasis.]

Spot on.

Having scanned Richard Dawkins’ timeline on Twitter I can see the issues.

It is peppered with questionable argumentation, fields of straw men and a depressingly simplistic approach to the issue of racism. It would take a whole blog post to pick them apart, but his failure to understand that religious identities can be used as a way to attack ethnic minorities is surprising.

Even President Hollande got that point fairly quickly and he is not a professional academic.

Elsewhere, Atos’s callousness knows no bounds, as the Independent reports:

“A Thalidomide victim with a brain tumour who is blind in one eye and has trouble walking is battling against a decision by Atos that she is capable of “work related activity”.

Martine White, 50, is due to appear at a tribunal in which she will appeal against the decision which she fears could force her to take employment or face losing up to half of her benefits.

The mother of four from Burnley, Lancashire, is one of a number of victims of the morning sickness drug which left more than 500 people in Britain with severe birth defects who claim they are being unfairly treated by the Government’s controversial back-to-work assessors.

Mrs White, who has deformed arms and is facing spinal surgery which she fears could put her permanently in a wheelchair, was assessed by Atos and moved from incapacity benefit to the new employment and support allowance last year.

She was placed in the category which deemed she was capable of “work-related activity” which can require attending a “work-related interview” once a month and putting together a CV in order to continue receiving her benefits of £212.70 a fortnight.

Mrs White, whose late husband Michael was also affected by Thalidomide, has twice appealed against her assessment but has now been told to argue her case in front of a judge. “

Golden Dawn’s True Face

History has shown that we ignore the growth of neofacism at our peril. Golden Dawn is but one example of that.

Konstantinos Georgousis’s film on Channel 4 is a a reminder to never underestimate the boldness, stupidity or vileness of neofacists:

Update 1: The JC has a worrying development:

“Leaders of the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party have announced plans to open nursery schools.

The decision comes after the organisation ran a pilot class at the party’s offices in Artemida last month.

More than 20 children, aged six to 10, were taught “Greek ideals” and mythology in accordance with the ideological values of the third most popular party in Greece.

A spokesperson described the class as a “national awakening” on the party’s official website. Educators across the globe have drawn comparisons to indoctrination methods used by the Nazis. “

The Reality of Anti-Muslim Bigotry

We should not underestimate or diminish the extent of anti-Muslim bigotry in Europe.

In Britain, long-standing animosity towards immigrants has been rekindled and focused on Muslims. Police forces and other organisations have been slow to catalogue, detail and deal with this pernicious form of racism.

However, one excellent organisation is MAMA, as they say:

“When reporting an anti-Muslim prejudiced incident to TELL MAMA by SMS, Email or Facebook, please include Your Name, Contact number and Location of the incident. One of our caseworkers will endeavour to contact you within 12 hours. In case of emergency please dial 999.

1. By filling in this form
2. Phone TELL MAMA on 0800 456 1226
3. Text TELL MAMA on 01157070007
4. Email TELL MAMA at info@tellmamauk.org
5. Tweet TELL MAMA @tellmamauk
6. Message TELL MAMA on Facebook at TellMamaUK

Our caseworkers will be able to assist you in a number of ways, including (i) providing a ‘listening ear’, (ii) signposting, (iii) casework and referrals to mainstream partners like Victim Support or Neighbourhood Watch and (iv) working with you to collect evidence that can be used by the police in possible prosecutions. We also have a range of solicitors that provide pro-bono advice that you may be able to access through the project if you have suffered an anti-Muslim incident. “

The report on Anti-Muslim ‘Cultural Racism’ is a must read for those serious about combating racism.

Update 1: Rob Ford takes Trevor Kavanagh to task.

Update 2: Some time ago, Giles Fraser identified the problem of slippage and the comparatively subtle nature of racism in Britain:

“No one actually comes out and directly says “I hate Muslims” – at least, not on the liberal dinner party circuit that was the target of Lady Warsi’s speech. Conversations generally begin with the sort of anxieties that many of us might reasonably share: it cannot be right for women to be denied access to education in some Islamic regimes; the use of the death penalty for apostasy is totally unacceptable; what about the treatment of homosexuals? The conversation then moves on to sharia law or jihad or the burqa, not all of it entirely well informed. Someone places their hands across their face and peers out between their fingers. Another guest giggles slightly. Someone inevitably mentions 9/11. Later, guests travel home on the tube and look nervously at the man in the beard sitting opposite.

The problem Warsi identifies is the problem of slippage. What can begin as a perfectly legitimate conversation about, say, religious belief and human rights, can drift into a licence for observations that in any other circumstance would be regarded as tantamount to racism. Like the 19th-century link between anti-Catholicism and racism towards the Irish, one can easily bleed into the other.”

Update 3: Tell MAMA’s blog asks the question, Problem? What problem? America and Islamophobia.

The “Israel Apartheid Week” And “Don’t buy from the Jews week”

Over at Engage, David Hirsh’s acid wit skewers the Palestine Solidarity Campaign with, “Israel Apartheid Week” – Don’t Buy from the Jews Week.

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I looked in at the PSC’s site, to see if they had covered the recent death of Palestinians in Syria, but alas couldn’t find anything. Conceivably, just possibly, something is hidden beneath the mountain of vitriol aimed at Israelis, but I doubt it.

I couldn’t see any genuine concern for Palestinians, outside of the West Bank and Gaza. Even Google couldn’t draw out any articles on the on-going slaughter in Syria from the PSC.

The PSC’s feed on Twitter was barren and bereft of any mention of Syria over the past month.

As Reuters reported a few weeks ago, some 10,000 Syrians have been killed since the start of 2013.

Still, the PSC were probably more interested in organising “Don’t buy from the Jews week” and must have missed what has been going on in Syria.

I think we know where the PSC’s priorities lie, all in all, David Hirsh was too kind to them.

Update 1: Liberal Conspiracy has surprisingly given Matt Hall the chance to put a persuasive argument, Pro-Palestinian activists are wrong to shut down debates by pro-Israelis.