Is Liberal Conspiracy Hung Up on Jews?

Snap 2013-02-01 at 18.35.06

I like Liberal Conspiracy. As a blog it has much to recommend it, there is a diversity of posters and a variety of topics.

Well, that’s what I like to think, however, some of its recent posts suggests an unhealthy concentration.

At Liberal Conspiracy within the space of a few days, there have been two, rather mean spirited and fairly questionable, posts.

Scarfe.

One which seemed to categorically argue that nothing was wrong with Gerald Scarfe’s offensive cartoon.

Another takes a pop at the Jewish Chronicle’s editor, Stephen Pollard.

The former, I could, just with some effort, understand. There is a debate to be held on what constitutes racism towards Jews. There is a diversity of opinions on this lurid cartoon, but to argue emphatically that it couldn’t ever be seen as offensive to one particular ethnic minority is silly, in the extreme.

The fact the author of the posts doesn’t find such cartoons offensive doesn’t mean other people can’t, or see elements of the past in it, as Mark Gardner argued:

“Unfortunately for Jews – and for satirists – antisemites and antisemitism also have ‘a thing’ about blood; and especially about the allegation that Jews murder others (children in particular) in order to use their blood or organs for heinous purpose. It is a harsh fact that blood has long played a profoundly disturbing part in the history of antisemitism, and this has obvious consequences for Jews and antisemites today. The actual intentions of Gerald Scarfe and the Sunday Times count for very little within this broader context of history, and its contemporary emotional and racist impacts.

But as I say, there is a debate to be held on these issues. I feel the way the Liberal Conspiracy brushed over, even the possibility, that this cartoon, content and timing could be seen as offensive, was intellectually loutish and distasteful.

Pollard And Cartoons.

[Up front: I am not a fan of Stephen Pollard, still less his time at the awful Daily Express.]

The other post is ostensibly on Stephen Pollard’s hypocrisy on offensive cartoons.

The post goes on to argue that Pollard is guilty of double standards, etc. Apparently, condoning the publication of the anti-Prophet cartoons but decrying ones when they are aimed at Jews. Some of the commentators point out the obvious difference between, right to publish and having the sense sometimes not to.

Pollard’s own arguments can be heard in this audio extract of the BBC Radio 4 Today programmme. They are more sophisticated than the post suggests.

Initially, I had put the odious tone of the post down to another spat between media types. It seems fairly common. The underlying argument is normally disregarded as an opportunity to settle scores.

Not very edifying, but such is the media. Then I began to ponder alternative possibilities, and I did not like them. To settle scores but with whom?

Hung Up on an ethnicity?

For quite some time I had noticed that the comment boxes at Liberal Conspiracy often became cluttered with nasty remarks, in one certain direction. Time and again, there were the stray arguments of the Far and Extreme Right. Most covered with euphemisms, but a well-worn animus was evident. Those common themes.

I have seen such derangement at Comment is Free, and it seems prevalent in parts of the British media.

Yet I debated, was a persistent sub-plot at Liberal Conspiracy that I was missing? Not in the comments, but the articles and their focus.

Analysing Bias

Fortunately, there was a methodology which was developed many years back, to remove my or anyone else’s subjective judgement.

It is fairly simple.

You tally up the articles around a certain subject matter and then categorise them, negative or positive. If that result is balanced or within expected tolerances that is one thing. However, if the majority of the articles are hostile towards one or more particular ethnicity then there is an issue. The Over Coming Hate portal discusses these issues and its section, Fanning The Flames, provides a useful background on the media, racism and the issues. Teun A. van Dijk’s Racism and the Press is helpful in explaining some of the issues [PDF].

Gwen Sharp summarised one application of this approach, Who’s Reporting The News? An Analysis By Race And Ethnicity.

If I ever get the time I might apply those techniques to Liberal Conspiracy and see what patterns come out.

Personally, I would prefer if Liberal Conspiracy employed its usually politically sophisticated approach to this and related subjects.

Yet I am not sure that will happen where one particular ethnicity is concerned. Worrying.

Update 1: This is a fair summary of the arguments about Scarfe’s cartoon from the JLC:

  • “Jews (and others) throughout the country reacted to this cartoon with a visceral disgust that is unprecedented in recent years. This was due to the gratuitous and offensive nature of the image, made worse by its use of blood and its being published by Britain’s leading Sunday newspaper on Holocaust Memorial Day.
  • Blood has a long and ugly tradition within the history of anti-Semitism, premised upon the notorious medieval Blood Libel, with Jews being alleged to steal the blood of others for religious purposes. The use of blood, including on occasion the actual Blood Libel, persists in extreme Arab and Iranian anti-Israel propaganda. It is a profoundly disturbing example of the adaptation of anti-Semitism for modern day usage.
  • These historical and contemporary contexts have racist impacts upon victims and proponents alike. This is why so many Jews were wounded by the cartoon, regardless of the initial motivations of Gerald Scarfe and the Sunday Times.

Update 2: This is a good interview with Jeremy Newmark from Radio 5 Live, as an MP3.

Update 3: Marc Goldberg looks more broadly at these issues, nevertheless argues:

“But what I hated was the timing of all this, for me an undercurrent of hostility which occasionally raises it’s head, the dark side of an England in which I was hard pressed to feel at home came into the light. The Holocaust Educational Trust has done sterling work in making sure that the tragic event that saw so many Jewish communities in Europe wiped out has become a part of the national consciousness but there has been a blowback effect, the likes of David Ward and Gerald Scarfe put this on centre stage and the people who rallied around Ward in particular, show off the extent to which this is a point of view that is bigger than him alone.

Update 4: Mark Gardner in 2010 wrote:

“Anti-racists must condemn anti-Jewish racism as readily as they would any other type of racism. Anything less and they risk fostering the notion, seductive for a dangerous minority, that antisemitism in the name of anti-Israel hatred is somehow a legitimate form of political protest. On previous occasions when we have tried to discuss the issue of antisemitism on this forum, we have been accused of various things. First, that we are part of some global conspiracy to shut down criticism of Israel. Second, that the figures are fake and exaggerated. Third, that even though the figures are lies, they paradoxically prove that the escalation in antisemitic incidents is the fault of Israel and the fault of Jewish representative bodies. Indeed, the fault of everybody but antisemites.”

Update 5: For the moment, the final word will go to a poster at Liberal Conspiracy:

“32. Shatterface 10:53 pm, February 1, 2013

  • attacking someone for hypocrisy is a weasely way of dodging the main issue which is the continual use of antisemitic tropes by British cartoonists.
  • It’s perfectly possible to criticise the Israeli politics without falling back on stereotypes of big-nosed puppeteers using blood as an ingredient just as it is possible to comment on African politics without images of black people with bones through their noses cooking missionaries in a pot
  • or, for that matter, portraying the English as football hooligans with the George Cross tattooed across their faces. ” [My emphasis.]

Update 6: Certainly, whatever your opinion of Liberal Conspiracy’s choice of topic, many of its posters have grotesque views:

“46. sara ann 12:27 pm, February 3, 2013

why is it wrong to not like Israel or Judaism?

we are encouraged not to like say iran, argentina, mali etc and certainly to dislike Islam .”

Update 7: Barely a week passes and Liberal Conspiracy are at it again.

A nonsensical and linguistically illiterate piece attempts to compare David Ward MP’s disparaging remarks with those of the Israeli Prime Minister, Why is there no backlash when Benjamin Netanyahu focuses on “the Jews”?

I suppose the simple answer is context.

Here is an easy example, suppose a tattooed neo-Nazi skinhead went around making disparaging remarks about ethnic minorities and then invokes the “N” word. Suppose that.

Would it be the same if an Afro-American rapper used that awful expression in the song? No, of course, not.

But that’s an argument often heard on the Far Right: that because ethnic minorities occasionally use the “N” word that therefore it is legitimate for the Far Right to use it. All nonsense but that’s how they argue.

Bigotry at Liberal Conspiracy Goes Unchallenged

Liberal Conspiracy is an interesting and frequently informative blog, however, its occasional forays into commentary on the Middle East often allow racist or bigoted comments to go unnoticed or unchallenged.

That is what happened recently.

Unrelated to the topic, one of the posters started comparing the number of Jewish MPs & the number of British Jews.

As the CST pointed out last year:

The concept of “Jewish entitlement”, whereby Jews (or other minority groups) are limited to a certain number of seats in Parliament according to their numbers, is entirely alien to British democracy. Candidates are supposed to appeal for votes on the basis of their policies rather than assuming “entitlement” because of their religion or ethnicity; and for a party to select candidates on the basis of their religion or ethnicity would almost certainly be illegal.”

There are, broadly, three themes to consider: the roots of this remark, the blog’s comments policy and the wider applicability of this line of reasoning.

Snap 2013-01-25 at 00.50.20

Firstly, it is a very common feature found on the Far and Extreme Right.

Stormfront, the neo-Nazi forum, covered this in January 2012, for the obvious reason that to the hardcore antisemite “one Jew is one Jew too many”.

Antisemitism is predicated on conspiracy theories, of secretive power and supposed manipulation, etc. which underlies the comment.

This is ingrained into the antisemite’s consciousness and an obvious tell-tale sign of their thinking. Anyone remotely familiar with antiracism should have familiarised themselves with these particular tropes, which is why it is exceedingly annoying to find it at Liberal Conspiracy, a left-wing antiracist blog.

The comment (#9) itself is cut and paste from an article by the racist, Stuart Littlewood from May 2010. The essence of the comment is common currency across anti-Jewish and racist web sites as any simple search of Google would show.

Secondly, this is all the more egregious as Liberal Conspiracy prides itself on having a tight comments policy aimed at fostering constructive debate.” [My emphasis.]

I can only assume that moderators at Liberal Conspiracy can’t see the implication of the comment or understand its antecedents.

I had tried to illuminate this issue to those running Liberal Conspiracy, but it seems that the comments policy varies considerably in implementation, although they say:

“We believe in free speech but not your right to abuse our space.
Abusive, sarcastic or silly comments may be deleted.
Misogynist, racist, homophobic and xenophobic comments will be deleted.”

Thirdly, such interjections and conceits are a mainstay of racists. The particular target may vary, but the argument is similar, running along the lines of “there are too many …….[fill in ethnicity] here” or “why are so …….[fill in ethnicity] doing this job”.

In Britain that applies, whether or not the target is Polish immigrants**, Afro-Caribbean nurses or other ethnic minorities.

In short, I think that Liberal Conspiracy is right to provide critiques on the Middle East and related matters, but they should be conscious of how anti-Jewish racism is fostered. They should educate themselves in the various figures of speech and arguments use by the Far/Extreme Right. Their comments policy should be implemented in an even-handed but intelligent manner. Its moderators should be aware, more broadly, of these racist arguments and where they lead.

Finally, ignorance of this type of racism is no excuse, particularly at Liberal Conspiracy.

PS: **Apologies for linking to the Daily Mail, but the atrocious comments connected with the article illustrate my point.

Rev. Sizer And The Questions of Veterans Today

In light of Rev. Stephen Sizer linking to an antisemitic site, Calvin Smith has asked some pertinent questions:

“What is Veteran’s Place? Is it properly anti-Semitic or predominantly anti-Israel?”

The quick reply is, yes, Veterans Today (run by Gordon Duff) is most definitively an antisemitic web site.

Nevertheless, I think Calvin Smith and readers deserves a fuller answer.

Veterans Today is a sullenly obsessive site, whose target is Jews, across the world and throughout history.

We can verify the nature of this site by sampling some of its pages. Readers should be warned that the following are specimens of racist material, used to illustrate the character of Veterans Today.

First off, we find articles either praising Adolf Hitler, excusing him or trying to deflect attention from his murderous crimes:

Hitler and the Banksters: The Abolition of Interest-Servitude posted by Dr. Ingrid Rimland Zundel, wife of well known Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, author of “The Hitler We Loved and Why”

If you have any doubt about the sympathies of the author, or Veterans Today, then this article puts them to rest, when he argues:

” On August 30, 1939, in an act of great statesmanship, Hitler again offered to the Poles the Marienwerder proposals,(21) namely retention of the existing 1919 borders, the return of Danzig (97% German), the construction of a 60-mile autobahn and rail link connecting West and East Prussia (from Schoenlanke to Marienwerder) and an exchange of German and Polish populations. On the orders of the international bankers, the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, strongly advised the Poles NOT to negotiate. This is how and why World War II was started. The ensuing forced war resulted in victory for the international financiers and defeat and slavery for all the people of Europe.

Today the bankers reign supreme. The European Union with its commissars in Brussels and its so called “European” Central Bank headquartered in Frankfurt,(22) increasingly resembles the old Soviet Union. However, with the recent ongoing “sovereign” debt crisis and the collapse of the Euro, the plan for a united Europe anchored in perpetual debt enslavement has received a major setback and has indeed started to disintegrate
.
Notwithstanding the inability of Adolf Hitler to permanently liberate Europe, it behooves us to appreciate that what he achieved was not done in vain. It is incumbent on us to learn and understand the fundamentals of usury and to spread that knowledge relentlessly, until our material and spiritual liberties have been restored. “

This is not isolated, another vile piece by J.B.Campbell states:

” We now know that the insane Jewish liars are guided in this by a mystical attachment to the number six, as seen with their national symbol, the six-pointed star. Six, or six hundred, or six thousand, or six hundred thousand, or six million Jews must be removed before the messiah returns or Israel reappears or whatever. It’s not important to us, just that this is a magic number to them. And they should be wholly burnt in ovens. Hence, Holocaust (wholly burnt). Read >>> Jewish History and the Scriptual Orgin of the 6 Million Dollar Number “

It goes on in a similar vein. Yuck.

The owner of Veterans Today, Gordon Duff dives straight into Holocaust revisionism:

“Two thousand people in Europe are in prison today for questioning some part, no matter how minor, of the holocaust. The official story of the holocaust is a compendium of testimony of several hundred thousand people as there was little physical evidence left at the end of the war. Some facilities were reconstructed based on testimony, for historical perspective but in general, it is believed that the Germans destroyed all evidence of death camps and mass graves when they learned they were losing the war.

Thousands of those who find this explanation unsatisfactory and had chosen to disagree, some noted historians, some scientists and some simple troublemakers and activists, have been imprisoned. At the trials, holocaust victims claimed that such questioning harmed them irreparably. However, not one holocaust victim has ever spoken up about the endless numbers of phony holocaust victims who besmirch them every day and have for nearly 65 years. Why is that?

One thing the revisionists claim is that almost every story from the holocaust, including notable books and even world famous holocaust survivors are, in actuality, the worst phonies of all. The analogy of the “phony veteran” is applicable here. After each war, endless numbers of those, who for reasons legitimate or not, felt their contribution to the war effort was less than honorable or noteworthy, claim accomplishments they are undeserving of. It is also known that combat veterans are seldom seen on bar stools at service organizations talking about heroic exploits. “

All of this repellent material was found in a cursory search of Veterans Today.

Any thoughtful individual would not have chosen to link to this site without first verifying the source of the material, and as we have seen Veterans Today is full of the most unspeakable antisemitic filth around.

Looking down its “Featured Columnists” is like a mini-Who’s who of bigots, conspiracy theorists and semi-professional Jew haters.

Alan Hart
Allen L Roland
Anthony Hall
Bob Johnson
David Swanson
Debbie Menon
Denise Nichols
Dr. Ingrid R. Zundel
Ed Mattson
Eileen Fleming
Gordon Duff
James Petras
Jim Fetzer
Jim W. Dean
Johnny Punish
Ken O’Keefe
Ken Smith
Kevin Barrett
Khalil Nouri
Kourosh Ziabari
Paul J. Balles
Raja Mujtaba
Robert O’Dowd
Sami Jamil Jadalla
Sherwood Ross
Stephen Lendman
Stewart Ogilby
Stuart Littlewood
Tim King
Tom Valentine
Vojislav Milosevic

So, the fuller reply to Calvin Smith’s question is, yes, Veterans Today is most certainly an antisemitic web site and I have not even mentioned references to David Duke, ex-Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan or 911 conspiracy theories.

It is hardly coincidental that hard antisemitic sites are replete with conspiracy theories, as such notions are central to anti-Jewish racism.

Whilst it’s true to say that, not every conspiracy theorist is an antisemite, every committed antisemite is a conspiracy theorist, as it is integral to their racism.

In my view, no considered or attentive person would use, link to, associate with the Veterans Today site or any of its authors.

If they did, then you must question their judgement, commitment to anti-racism and above all their attitudes towards Jews.

I think Rev. Sizer should truly reflect on this issue and ask himself the questions:

1. What impulse made me use material from the antisemitic site, Veterans Today?
2. Why was I drawn to it?
3. How can I avoid making this mistake once more?