Monthly Archives: August 2014

Are You Horrified Enough Yet?

The bewildering variety of names of the entity known as “Islamic State/ISIS/ISIL/The Caliphate/[insert new name]” is enough to worry paranoid survivalists and bloodthirsty neo-fascists alike. The people who invent these names are well aware of this.  It’s as if each new word and phrase has been specifically crafted to strike a chord within the minds of a variety of constituents. For example, it is likely that Sun readers will respond more favourably to the simple phrase “Islamic State”, while classically educated people who are familiar with names like The Levant, the classical name for the Middle or Near East, will respond to the name “Islamic State in the Levant”. The British far-right has convinced itself that Muslims in general (never mind that Islam, in common with other mass religions, is far from being a homogeneous religious group) desire to carve out a caliphate and that this caliphate will challenge Western (often referred to as Judaeo-Christian) hegemony. Hence the word “caliphate” was used to appeal to this target group.  Interestingly, the use of this word has slipped from media usage and has been superseded by ISIS/ISIL. It goes without saying that a gullible public can always be counted on to fall in line when the state dictates. Are you horrified enough yet?

The revelation in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph that the video of James Foley’s apparent execution may have been staged is reminiscent of the many atrocity stories that are produced on behalf of the state has been happening since time immemorial. The First Crusade, which took place before the advent of mass media, was prosecuted on rumours, innuendos and lies. A largely illiterate population was convinced, by those who controlled the production and flow of information, of the need to fight “the Saracen” by graphic stories of unspeakable horror. Crowds of people would be whipped into a frenzy by the plausible speeches of dubious characters like Peter the Hermit. As a bonus, those taking the cross were told that participation in the Crusade would achieve the remission of their sins. There is no remission of sins offered in these latest escapades.

In the weeks leading to Britain’s entry into the First World War, newspapers printed stories that were broadly referred to as “The Rape of Belgium“. The most memorable line from those stories was “Huns rape nuns”, this was joined by variations like “Huns eat babies”. The public fell for these stories to the extent that thousands of pals signed up to fight Germany, even though it was apparently Serbia that had started the war. European monarchs fearful of potential revolution at home, were eager to commit hundreds of thousands of working class people to fight for a war that only they wanted. For we must remember that in the years leading up to World War One, there was a great deal of industrial and social unrest that was marked by the Tonypandy and Llanelli riots, and the anchoring of gunboats in the Mersey and the Humber. The propagandists did their jobs and revolution was avoided.

But this is not the Crusades (in which thousands of Jews as well as Muslims and Orthodox Christians were also slaughtered by Western Christians) nor is this the First World War, but the basic intent of atrocity propaganda has stubbornly refused to change. It is designed to strike horror and fear into the minds of television viewers and readers. The apparent execution of James Foley is one in a long line of horror stories produced by propagandists to horrify otherwise sensible people and persuade them to hate others for no reason at all. Are you horrified enough yet?

Within hours of the video of the “execution” going live on the Internet, the British government informed us that viewing it would be a breach of national security and people watching it on YouTube could face arrest. Twitter and YouTube dutifully removed the video, even though they had no evidence of its veracity and complied with government diktat. On the BBC, security correspondent Frank Gardner, who himself has close ties to the intelligence services, offered his expert opinions on the video and what it signified. The subtext of this signification was adopted by Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond (who is also a member of Conservative Friends of Israel), who warned that “ISIS could strike on British soil”. To this, he added,

“[it is an] utter betrayal of our country, our values and everything the British people stand for”.

Hammond’s ideas of “British values” ignore the gross violations of human rights committed by British forces in Northern Ireland, India and Iraq over the course of its imperial history. Are you horrified enough yet?

You will also notice how quickly Binyamin Netanyahu latched onto the Foley story and, within hours, his office produced a series of propaganda graphics to claim Hamas is the same as ISIS (or whatever they’re calling themselves this week). Here’s one example that was produced within hours of Foley’s “execution” as it appeared on his Facebook page.

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Netanyahu and his fellow Revisionist Zionists hope that the average person will be ignorant of the fact that Hamas and ISIS are ideologically opposed to one another. Furthermore, the name “Hamas” has been used by Israeli propagandists as a shorthand for all Gazans. You will recall that early into wittily titled “Operation Protective Edge” that Netanyahu and his propaganda minister, Mark Regev, insisted that because the Gazans (sic) had voted for Hamas, this was sufficient grounds for them to collectively punished. However in terms of their callous disregard for human life, one is tempted to argue that the Zionists and ISIS have much more in common than Netanyahu would care to admit.

Israel has also been known to employ agents provocateurs in the past and the current crisis in Gaza is no exception. Today we learned that Israel had staged the recent ceasefire violation in order to assassinate Commander-in-Chief of the Al Qassam Brigades, Muhammad Al-Daif.

The website of Makor Rishon newspaper said that Ben Yair, who also worked as a judge in the Israeli supreme court, tweeted on his twitter account the following: “There is no agreement and hostilities have been renewed, but who is the culprit? Hamas who wants an agreement with accomplishments or Israel who staged the breach of the ceasefire in order to justify the assassination of Muhammad Al-Daif?”

ISIS or whatever they’re being called this week is part truth and part fiction. The simple fact is that whatever is being reported about this group, and there appears to be some doubt as to its cohesiveness, much of it is gibberish. This is not say that the group called ISIS doesn’t exist and isn’t killing civilians. But the mass media’s hysterical reportage fits in with the Israeli state’s objectives and the murderous desires of Western warmongers, who can’t wait to start another war. Why? Because war is big business and as Major General Smedley Butler wrote “War is a racket”.

Are you horrified enough yet?

You won’t be, if you refuse to live in fear.

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Life on Hannan World (Part 14)

A week or so ago, I was reading a comments thread on Facebook that someone had started in response to a statement that Daniel Hannan had made on a subject on which he knows little (let me tell you, there are many of them). On that thread, someone asked “Why doesn’t he join UKIP”? The answer to that question is simple: he’s comfortable where he is. However, today, he offers a long-winded explanation for his reluctance to join a party with which he clearly has a great deal in common. For example, they both share a love of Enoch Powell. Need I say more? Well, to employ a useful analogy, it’s impossible to separate the art of the Italian Futurists from their evident love of fascism, love of war and hatred of women. Powell poses a similar conundrum. Yet Hannan and the Kippers will gleefully elide Powell’s racism to focus on his free market economic views. But then racism is more than just a simple matter of bigotry, it’s also exercised economically.

The title of today’s blog is:

So why don’t you join Ukip, Hannan?

What follows this title is worth a laugh or two.

The question is put to me, with varying degrees of politeness, 20 times a day – on Twitter, at public meetings and, not least, in the comment threads that follow these blogs. Well, chaps, here’s a collective answer.

Generally, most people who leave comments on his anti-EU blogs are either Kippers or ethno-nationalists of some description. Today, the Kippers are slugging it out with the Tories and it’s quite a spectacle. The phrase “two bald men fighting over a comb” springs to mind. He continues.

I have many friends in Ukip. You won’t find kinder, braver, more generous men in public life than Stuart Wheeler or Malcolm Pearson. Many of the finest Conservative activists from my region have moved to that party. As for Nigel Farage, he is in politics from decent and patriotic motives and, in the 15 years that we’ve represented the same patch, I’ve always found him gentlemanly and pleasant to deal with.

You may recall that when Pearson stepped down as leader of UKIP, the Lyin’ King offered his gushing praise.  Pearson is an “honourable and decent man” he opined. He’s also chummy with Geert Wilders, whose idea of ‘freedom’ is, well, unfreedom. Like Pearson, Stuart Wheeler is an Old Etonian and spread-betting mogul, who once claimed that “women aren’t as good as men” at things like chess. Really? Sexist much? Like Pearson, Wheeler is a former Tory and this is the thing about UKIP: most of the party’s leadership is drawn from a cadre of disgruntled Tories.

I found this passage particularly amusing.

It’s true that Ukip has its share of eccentrics, as every party has. It’s also true that Ukip has more extremists than the older parties. This is an unavoidable side-effect of being an anti-Establishment movement.

“Eccentrics” is a rather euphemistic way of describing the membership of UKIP, but “anti-establishment” is something the party is not. UKIP is deeply rooted in the establishment as I pointed out in this blog.

Here, Hannan gives the image of UKIP an airbrushing.

Ukip has been pretty good at expelling racists while respecting the presumption of innocence. The presumption of innocence matters, by the way, in a climate where a photograph which is very obviously of a man trying to grab the camera can appear on a tabloid front page as a Ukip candidate “giving a Nazi salute”.

UKIP is so good at “expelling racists” that there are still plenty of them in the party.  Janice Atkinson, the party’s MEP for the South East (the same constituency as Hannan) referred to Thai people as “ting tongs”. What a charmer.

So why won’t he jump ship?

I share Ukip’s view that Britain would be better off outside the EU. As far as its other policies go, I agree with most rather than all of them – which is exactly my position vis-à-vis the Conservative Party.

I’m still none the wiser, but please do continue…

For most of its existence, this was also Ukip’s overriding goal. But now the party has adopted a spread of domestic policies aimed at picking up disillusioned voters. It has every right to campaign on whatever issues it wants, obviously. But it is no longer focused on getting out of the EU and, in consequence, is prepared to subordinate that goal to its wider electoral interests.

Yet, in this paragraph, he doesn’t really offer any real explanation for why he won’t join a party to which he is clearly well suited (and booted). It’s obfuscatory mush.

This represents a shift. The Ukip of ten years ago, or five years ago, would gladly have thrown its weight behind whichever of the main parties offered an In/Out referendum. Its activists used to boast that this is what made them different: unlike all the other politicians, they said, their aim was to get Britain out and then quit politics. Now, though, they would rather maximise their vote than ensure a pro-referendum majority in the Commons. To adopt one of their own favourite phrases, they are “putting party before country”.

UKIP of “ten years ago, or five years ago” was still whining about immigrants and offering more or less the same hysterical drivel about how they “wanted their country back”, a line that came straight from the mouths of John Tyndall and the National Front. So are UKIP’s domestic policies (such as they are) not to his liking? He doesn’t really say. Guts? I’ve seen more guts on a set of violin strings.

So what about the electoral pact Hannan was proposing alongside his stablemate, Tobes? Well, it seems he’s had a change of heart… well, sort of…

I’ve almost given up arguing for a Tory-Ukip pact. Though the electoral logic is irresistible, there are evidently too many objections on both sides.

Crumbs! Why?

It’ll happen eventually – the first-past-the-post system more or less demands it – but it may, as in Canada, take a decade.

He still isn’t clear, but this idea that the two parties will merge at some point in the future reads, not like a fantasy, but something from a dystopian nightmare. Tories are good at dystopias and nightmares.

A decade of Ed Balls and Ed Miliband. A decade of Labour’s wastrel incontinence.

So that’s unlike the “wastrel incontinence”, not to say, the economic illiteracy of the Tory Party in government? Hilarious.

A decade of deeper European integration. And, when it eventually happens, we’ll ask ruefully, as Canadian Conservatives do today, why we let it take so long.

Curiously, there’s no mention of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in his piece, though one suspects he (and the Kippers) regards it as “socialist”.

By the way, Hannan has a book out at the moment titled How we Invented Freedom and Why it Matters. You can guess who the “we’ is in the title, but let’s just say that no one can invent an abstract noun.

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Daniel Hannan on Norris McWhirter, Supporter of Fascism

Some time ago, I wrote a blog on Daniel Hannan’s defence of Norris McWhirter after he and his beloved Freedom Association got into a lather about David Baddiel’s off the cuff remarks about the former being no better than a brownshirt. Beastrabban’s article is much more in depth about McWhirter’s passions, shall we say, than mine. McWhirter subscribed to the League of Empire Loyalists’ journal “Candour” (sit back and think about that title for a moment). The LEL gave birth to the National Front and similar parties.

Beastrabban\'s Weblog

McWhirter

Norris McWhirter, Founder of the Freedom Association and probable supporter of the anti-Semitic and racist League of Empire Loyalists

The extreme Right-wing Conservative MEP, Daniel Hannan, amongst his other attacks on the Left and the NHS, criticised the comedian David Baddiel for his film criticising Norris McWhirter in his online Telegraph column. Baddiel had made the terrible offence of comparing the Freedom Association, which McWhirter founded, to the BNP. Guy Debord’s Cat has also posted a detailed critique of Hannan’s comments, ‘Hannan: McWhirter is a Decent Man (Because I Say So)’ at https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2010/12/24/hannan-mcwhirter-was-a-decent-man-because-i-say-so/.

In fact Baddiel’s comment about the Freedom Association being similar to the BNP has more than a little truth in the context of McWhirter’s extreme Right-wing political views. There is evidence that McWhirter was a member of the League of Empire Loyalists, a Fascist, anti-Semitic organisation that formed the National Front along with the BNP, the Greater…

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