Tag Archives: anti-Semitism

Hero or villain? The Livingstone question

A thoughtful and refreshing analysis of the Livingstone Affair. Ken’s a goshite and that’s something on which we can all, hopefully, agree. He is not, however, an anti-Semite. David Rosenberg was there at the dawn of the GLC Rainbow Coalition under Livingstone and is witness to some of the key events that have helped to shape the discourses surrounding Livingstone Affair.

rebel notes

My favourite political image among the protests and street activism that has marked the first three months of 2017 is a banner held on the St Patrick’s Day parade. It proclaimed:”More Blacks! More dogs! More Irish!” – mocking the daily racism of the 1960s when people looking for homes were confronted by openly discriminatory window signs rejecting applicants from these categories. The first Race Relations Act of 1968 finally knocked that appalling behaviour on the head, but not the sentiments behind it. It took another 20 years of grassroots campaigns led by victims of racism, finally aided by another layer of government, to normalise anti-racism and explicitly promote multiculturalism.

58e42cc61500002000c7dfa7 GLC leader Ken Livingstone addressing  GLC London Against Racism rally 1984.

That layer of government was the Greater London Council (GLC). Under a visionary Left Labour leadership from 1981 it railed against continuing inequalities and discriminatory practices and the mindset supporting…

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Life on Hannan World (Part 12)

Self-styled Whig (how’s that for nostalgia?) and Tory MEP for the South-east, Daniel Hannan is no stranger to this blog. His obsession with the European Union, his slack thinking and his inclination to smear the Left have all been documented here. Yesterday with the Israeli attack on Gaza in its 20th day, Hannan decided the time was right to have another go at smearing the Left.  The massive demonstrations against the brutal Israeli siege of Gaza provided him with, what he believes to be, more ammunition. We know that Hannan produces at least two blogs a year that allege the Nazis were ‘left-wing’ and ‘socialist’. We know the people who follow him and leave comments on his blog aren’t capable of critical thinking. We also know that Hannan isn’t as smart as he thinks he is, and his plummy voice and frequent classical references conceal a desperate lack of critical thinking. Yesterday he told us:

Left-wing anti-Semitism is anything but a new phenomenon

While there may well be anti-Semites on the Left (I’ve yet to encounter them), the Right has a terrible history of anti-Semitism. Many anti-Semites in the Conservative Party are, or were, Christian Zionists. These Christian Zionists believed that by convincing Jews to leave for Israel, they would somehow, not only rid themselves of what they saw as ‘the Jewish problem’ but they would also be hastening the ‘second coming’. The Tory Party was riddled with anti-Semites for years. Hannan opens his blog in characteristic fashion:

“How, as a socialist, can you not be an anti-Semite?” Adolf Hitler asked his party members in 1920. No one thought it an odd question. Anti-Semitism was at that time widely understood to be part of the broader revolutionary movement against markets, property and capital.

I’m tired of repeating myself, but Hitler was no socialist. Like Hannan’s Tory Party, Hitler denied the existence of the class struggle and loathed trade unions. This is one thing that Hannan cannot come to terms with and, instead, promotes a fallacious argument based on nothing more than his own ideological ignorance. He also forgets that many members of his own party have Nazi fetishes. Remember Aidan Burley? Hannan doesn’t. It’s already slipped his mind.

The man who popularised the term “anti-Semitism” had taken a similar line. Wilhelm Marr, a radical nineteenth-century German Leftist, may not have been the first person to use the word, but he certainly – and approvingly – brought it to a wide audience: “Anti-Semitism is a Socialist movement,” he pronounced, “only nobler and purer in form than Social Democracy”.

Another smear. Marr was not a “leftist” and nor was he a ‘socialist’. He was an ethno-nationalist and about as far away from real socialism as it is possible to be.

This paragraph shows us just how loopy he is.

It’s a measure of the modern Left’s cultural dominance that simply to recite these quotations is jarring. On the centenary of the Dreyfus Affair in 1998, the then French prime minister, Lionel Jospin, casually asserted that “the Left was for Dreyfus and the Right was against him” – an extraordinary distortion.

First, there is his McCarthyite paranoia that all cultural activity in Britain is controlled by the Left. If only. Second, it was the French Left, through the likes of  Émile Zola who supported Dreyfus. Indeed, it was Zola’s polemic J’accuse that brought the case to the attention of the wider public and attracted the support of French Radicals and Socialists. Hannan deliberately leaves the far-right Action Française out of his ‘analysis’ and fails to mention Zola (or, for that matter, Charles Maurras). Why? I think we know the answer to that question. Here Hannan repeats the line that he’s used in other blogs in which he’s smeared the Left. This is from the very paper that he writes for:

On January 13, 1898, France’s leading novelist, Émile Zola, entered the fray with a polemic, J’Accuse, naming the officers responsible for the conspiracy against Dreyfus. It was hailed as heroic by the Left, outrageous by the Right, and provoked anti-Semitic riots throughout France. Opinion abroad was incredulous. How could France, the most civilised country in Europe, experience this eruption of medieval barbarism? Why had the case of one Jewish officer led to this rage against all Jews?

Oops! I won’t bother to demand an apology from Hannan, because I know it won’t be forthcoming. Such is his arrogance.

He persists:

That we have largely edited such facts from our collective memory says a great deal about the assumptions of modern politics. In the puerile formula that seems to dictate our definitions, Left-wing means compassionate and Right-wing means nasty so, since anti-Semitism is nasty, it must be of the Right. Such reasoning is not confined to self-righteous seventeen-year-olds; it has, bizarrely, taken over a large chunk of our public discourse.

This is a man in his forties who still trots out sub-Sixth form debating society tosh like this. But let’s face it: there is nothing compassionate about the Right or, indeed, his party. The victims of his party’s social policies are legion. He ignores this because he cannot face the truth. He conveniently ignores the fact that his party opposed the Race Relations Act of 1968 and have openly called for the abolition of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (formerly the Commission for Racial Equality). In fact, Hannan demanded its abolition in this article from 2010.

This blog has proposed several candidates for abolition, including the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, the Health and Safety Executive, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Standards Board.

The Lyin’ King may want to take a look at this article from Ha’aretz from which I shall quote a portion.

Four senior members of the Oxford University Conservative Association are reportedly resigning over anti-Semitism, debauchery and snobbery that they say has emerged among members of the club. According to a report by The Daily Telegraph, the four senior members announced their resignation after members attending the club’s alcohol-fuelled meetings allegedly sang a Nazi-themed song and after a group of public school graduates ridiculed members from working-class backgrounds.

This article from the Oxford Student from which the Ha’aretz article is derived says:

Most embarrassing for OUCA is video evidence of one member beginning an anti-Semitic chant, which has featured before in the society’s controversial recent history.

The video, filmed towards the end of Michaelmas 2010 in Corpus Christi’s JCR, shows a member drunkenly singing: “Dashing through the Reich”, at the camera, before being silenced by another member. The song’s full version includes he words: “Dashing through the Reich / in a black Mercedes Benz / killing lots of kike / ra ta ta ta ta ”.

“This is a widespread issue at the moment,” said a former OUCA President, “Lots of people were singing it that night, and indeed on many other nights, and the general attitude is that that was OK. The thing is, lots of members do find that song (and songs like that one) absolutely despicable, though little is done to stop it. I am very worried with the direction the society is going in at present.”

Hannan was president of OUCA in 1992 while he was an undergraduate at Oxford.  Now The Cat isn’t suggesting that Hannan partook in anti-Semitic songs while he was OUCA president, but none of us knows for certain how long racists have operated in the association. Given the party’s historic attitudes towards race in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s, it is likely that there were anti-Semitic and racist members of OUCA during Hannan’s tenure.

While Hannan wrings his hands over what he perceives to be ‘left-wing anti-Semitism’ and, in the process, elides his party’s views on difference. For example, he forgets the Monday Club or the Swinton Circle, which openly called for involuntary repatriation of non-whites.

I could go on, but I’m finding all this as distasteful as (I hope) you are. Suffice it to say that – possibly for the first time in his brilliantly contrarian writing career – Brendan O’Neill is understating his case when he asks“Is the Left anti-Semitic? Sadly it’s heading that way”.

O’Neill’s blog was just as lacking in its analysis as Hannan’s.  Here he contradicts what he’s written earlier in his article.

I have never believed that criticising Israeli policy – or even, for that matter, arguing that the whole territory should be Palestinian – makes you anti-Jewish. You can be anti-Zionist without being in the least anti-Semitic. And – though this is almost never mentioned – the reverse is also true. Hannah Arendt recorded how, at his trial, Adolf Eichmann, who had read several Zionist tracts and learned some Hebrew and Yiddish, argued with evident sincerity that, in seeking to remove Jews from Europe, he had hoped to realise the vision a Jewish state in Palestine. Similarly, when the father of Zionism, the Assyrian-bearded Theodor Herzl, protested to Tsarist officials about pogroms, he was told that they were intended to give “your people” a helpful push in the right direction.

Confused mush. The suggestion in this paragraph is that if the Left criticises Israeli actions in Gaza and the West Bank, they’re anti-Semitic but if his side does it, well, that’s different.  Yet few Tories have criticized Israeli actions. Why? Because 80% of Tory MPs are members of the Conservative Friends of Israel. You fool no one, Dan.

Hannan then moves onto Karl Marx, who came from a Jewish family and who wrote a tract titled “The Jewish Question”. This essay is often cited by the Right as evidence of the Left’s sweeping anti-Semitism but as this article points out, the Right’s claim that Marx was a barking mad anti-Semite is mythological. Here is an excerpt:

There were to be sure, strong anti-Semitic currents on the European left in Marx’s time, but Marx defined himself and his own radicalism in opposition to such currents. In the latter half of the nineteenth century the ‘left’, if we can call it thus, was a battle ground on which anti-Semitic and anti-anti-Semitic currents battled with one another right up until the Dreyfus case in France. The position of Marx was one which clearly and distinctly had no truck with anti-Semitism in any form and his particular supplement was to show that anti-Semitism was a symptom of deep political problems within what might broadly be called the communist or anti-capitalist movement. On the whole, Marx did not see anti-Semitism as a motivating force on the left but rather as a sign of other political and intellectual deficiencies.

By the way, the above article was written by Robert Fine, a Jew.

In this paragraph, Hannan offers one of his characteristic generalizations and, at the same time, refuses to address the fundamental issue of ethnic nationalism (Zionism) and its role in the continuing violence.

Our political opinions often reflect our character traits. If you’re a generous and optimistic person, if you take pleasure in the success of others, you’re likely to be cheered by the story of the Jewish people, their success against the odds, their disproportionate intellectual contribution to mankind. Far from decrying commercial and financial accomplishments, you recognise them as a source of happiness for everyone.

Would he feel the same way about the suffering of African-Americans? I doubt it. Remember, Hannan has claimed that the American Civil War was about tariffs and nothing else. This is a position he shares with the historically revisionist Ludwig von Mises Institute, who have already been exposed as racist. Hannan, like the Israeli government he obliquely defends, is incapable of making the distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. And while there are some anti-Semitic anti-Zionists, there are plenty of Jews who are also anti-Zionist. Does that make them anti-Semitic Jews, Dan?

He closes with this flourish.

If, on the other hand, you are determined to see every exchange as a form of exploitation, every success as someone else’s defeat, every trade as a swindle, then the same promptings that make you anti-Israel may well make you anti-Semitic. It’s a tragic condition, a form of existential envy, and it goes back, if the Book of Esther is to be believed, at least 2,500 years

Utter garbage.

In 2010 Hannan was accused of using racist language in the past by the Daily Mirror. Hannan complained to the Press Complaints Commission, which backed the Mirror.

Hannan complained to the Press Complaints Commission about a Mirror article on 18 September headlined “Tory accused of ‘excusing racism’ after Barack rant”.

The story said: “David Cameron was dragged into the US race row yesterday after one of his rising stars said that he understood the anti-Barack Obama feelings.”

It reported on a blog Hannan had written for the Daily Telegraph websitein which he wrote, “Barack Obama has an exotic background and it would be odd if some people weren’t unsettled by it.”

It also mentioned that Hannan had “hailed Enoch Powell, infamous for his anti-immigration ‘rivers of blood’ speech, as one of his heroes”.

Hannan’s hero is Enoch Powell, whom he frequently airbrushes. You cannot separate Powell’s economic arguments from his racism. The two intersect.

Distortions, half-truths, smears and outright lies are the currencies that Hannan deals in. I wonder if he realizes that some Jews are black? I bet he doesn’t. He probably prefers the nice white Ashkenazi kind, like Netanyahu and his Revisionist chums.

EDITED TO ADD

I’ve noticed a couple of links, one of which leads back to Hannan’s blog and the other to his EU page.

He tweets:

I’m trying to work out whether this self-contradictory attack on my blog about anti-Semitism is a parody: http://t.co/Be2dPjz4e5

There’s nothing “self-contradictory” or parodical about my blog, Danny. In fact, by tweeting this, it shows that you’re not only vain and arrogant, you’re also rattled.

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Filed under anti-Semitism, Ideologies, Media, racism, Society & culture, Tory press, Yellow journalism

The Birther Conspiracy: Good Old Fashioned Racism For The 21st Century

The Birther conspiracy: white America’s racist fantasy

The ‘birthers’, no name could be more misleading for a group of people who want to be taken seriously about their beliefs, but there is nothing serious, logical or reasonable about people who believe that Barack Obama was born in a country outside the CONUS. If you suggest to people that the idea of questioning the birth circumstances of America’s first non-white president has more than a whiff of racism about it, they get defensive. Some may even claim that you’re ‘obsessed’ with race and that ‘everything’ you say is ‘about race’. But such beliefs – for this is what they are – are also an exercise of denial on the part of the ‘birther’, who is as likely as not to dismiss you as a ‘sheeple’ if you refuse or refute their ‘truths’.

It is undeniable that the language of racism has changed a great deal since the 1970s and racists themselves are conscious of a need to speak in words that aren’t necessarily directly related to what Fanon (1986) called ‘melanism’; a classificatory practice that is based on pseudo-scientific notions of biological difference and characterised by the outward marker of skin colour. Therefore the more ideologically-inclined of their number will resort to purely economic language to circumlocute the subject of discourse. For example, there is a belief on the part of a particular group within the American libertarian right that Jim Crow should have continued because, in their eyes, denying the rights of white Americans to deny African-Americans access to a variety of socio-economic activities was a refusal of white freedoms. This was America’s apartheid that was rationalized in similar terms to South Africa by British apologists (The Freedom Association, for example) for the latter’s racist regime.

The fixation that some people have with Obama’s circumstances of birth is doubtlessly predicated on a racist trope: namely that blacks are not full citizens of the United States. This belief has its origins in slavery when blacks were the property of their masters. Even free blacks (and, indeed, Indians) were not considered citizens: they could not vote and were barred from holding public office. When African-Americans were enfranchised at the end of the Civil War, they continued to be denied the vote in the former Confederate states through the means of pseudo-legalistic mechanisms like The Grandfather clause or the Poll Tax. The former was enacted at the biological level and the latter was exercised economically. It took further Federal legislation to force change on the southern states. Even so, the question of who is allowed to be American and who is not persists with certain sections of the American right.

Like suspicious software that can be downloaded on the Internet, the birther narrative often comes bundled with other dubious narratives that tend to orbit other unpleasant and sometimes hidden discourses, some of which may be related to discredited tracts like The Protocols and bizarre notions about lizards-in-human-form. Wherever you find a site about World Financial Conspiracies, you will also find an abundance of birther material. Those who choose to believe these conspiracy theories appear to be substituting one form of extreme religious belief for another.

Recently, I have found myself having to deal with conspiracy theorists on Facebook and elsewhere. I have tried to use logic and examples from history in an attempt to get them to think critically about their beliefs but, as anyone who has dealt with cultists will recognize, this is an impossible task. The ‘Birther’ conspiracies are some of the most vile racist ideas to have been propagated since The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. When I point out to CT’s that these notions were produced by racist discourses, the reply that I get from them is “I’m not a racist”. But if you’re not a racist, then why do you subscribe to racist discourses? They have no answer. It’s like saying to a born-again Christian that praying achieves nothing; all you are doing is refusing responsibility for your life and your actions – or lack of them.

The way in which the birther conspiracy has morphed over the course of the last few years demonstrates the CT’s slipshod grasp of reality. First, they claimed Obama’s birth certificated was “forged” and that he was, in fact, a Muslim who was born in either Kenya (his father’s place of birth) or Indonesia (his stepfather’s place of birth). Even Obama’s church-going wasn’t enough for these people, who fail to understand that if a Muslim goes into a church and partakes in its rituals, that person would be considered an apostate. To this, the CT’s claimed that Obama was also a “Marxist”. But if that were true, why did he bail out the banks? Why hasn’t Obama created a proper Marxist economy instead of attempting to patch up a fatally-wounded capitalist economic system? Again, the CT cannot produce a coherent reply and instead, falls back on tropes. ‘Obamacare’, they scream. When it is pointed out to them that the biggest opponents of universal healthcare are big pharma and the medical insurance companies, both of whom have an interest in producing scare stories, there is no reply, just more of the same gibberish about people having chips implanted into their bodies or nanites being injected into their bloodstreams. It’s the stuff of dystopian science fiction.

More recently, CTs have claimed that Obama, who shortened his first name to the more English-sounding “Barry” in his youth, renounced his US citizenship when his mother married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian. The CTs claim that he applied for a Fulbright Scholarship at Occidental College under the name ‘Barry Soetoro’, yet the college has no record of this and, even if Obama had taken his stepfather’s surname, it’s hardly unusual or surprising. It happens all the time. Naturally, CTs will then claim that Obama “ordered the college to destroy any records”. When you ask them to produce evidence to support this claim, guess what happens? Not much. Just more incoherent babble. In fact, when Obama visited Ireland to connect with his Irish roots, I Gaelicized his name to Bairre Ó Beámagh for a laugh. I don’t doubt that he has Irish ancestors. I, too, have Irish and Scottish ancestors. There is no such thing as pure ethnicity and even those white racists who talk about the “indigenous British” have no idea what they’re talking about because this is an island nation of immigrants and invaders.

The most revealing thing about the birther conspiracy is that Black people don’t buy into it. It is supported entirely by whites. Furthermore, Obama is not actually black, he is of mixed parentage and as those people who are of mixed parentage will tell you, they’re always being questioned on their origins. For example I have been referred to to variously as ‘Arab’ or ‘Pakistani’, although I am neither. People will make up things about you if they are blind or foolish enough to buy into the superficialities of skin colour as a marker of a person’s identity and/or culture. This ethnic purism is undoubtedly racist. To this end, the Obama birth conspiracy was concocted by white racists who couldn’t come to terms with the fact that a man who is not white is now President of the United States.

The conspiracy theory is quickly supplanting religion as a belief system. The followers of conspiracy theories are highly devoted to their beliefs and blinded by their faith in questionable ideas. They are unable or unwilling to interrogate the sources that they frequently cite and accept any information so long as it accords with their beliefs.  Unwittingly CTs produce a confirmation bias that is endlessly looped  in their mind. In fact, it is the only voice they hear.

This mediamatters blog is worth a read.

References

Fanon, F. (1986) Black Skin, White Masks. London: Pluto Press

Gilroy, P. (2007) There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack. London: Routledge

Hall, S. (ed.) (1997) Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, London: Sage.

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Telegraph Comment of the Week (#7)

This week’s Telegraph comment comes from numbskull “josiexuereb”, who left this comment on Dan Hannan’s blog.

Josiexurb anti-Semite

Notice how “josiexuereb” skirts around history to promote the notion that the biggest threat of anti-Semitism comes from Islam rather than the far-right. She’s completely forgotten Edward I’s expulsion of the Jews and the persecution that took place immediately before that.

The comment left under that points out how the parties like Hungary’s Jobbik is openly anti-Semitic and anti-Ziganist (probably anti-Muslim too). No doubt someone will come along and claim that Jobbik is a “socialist” or “far-left” party as they usually do with the fascist BNP. Jobbik is actually a member of the EAF, a European Parliament grouping of far-right parties that includes the BNP. UKIP’s Godfrey Bloom also has close ties to the group.

So what prompted this comment? Hannan wrote a blog which claims that Shakespeare’s Shylock character in The Merchant of Venice “may be a greater incitement to anti-Semitism than the Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. Frankly, I think he’s tilting at windmills. Here’s a taste of the article.

No wonder anti-Semites in every age and nation seize gleefully on the play. No wonder Disraeli’s opponents used to shout “Shylock!” when he addressed Parliament. No wonder performances were so popular in fascist Europe in the 1930s. Even in the 1980s, I listened as a teenager to Peru’s President, Alan García, justifying his nationalisation of the country’s banks (one of which was owned by a Jewish family) by recalling the pound of flesh story. I wish I could say that García had missed the point of the play, but the awkward truth is that the theatre-goer is invited to spit upon Shylock with the otherwise high-minded Antonio; to declare with Gratiano, “O, be thou damn’d, inexorable dog!”

Hannan ignores how The Protocols has been used to assert an international Jewish conspiracy. This has far greater potency in the minds of anti-Semites than a character in a Shakespeare play.

I’ve just gone back to Hannan’s blog and noticed that the comment that replied to “josiexuereb” has been removed. I would suggest that what was said in that comment upset the Lyin’ King and his far-right readers.

UPDATE: 15/9/13 @1028

josiexuereb’s comment has been removed. Never mind, I still have a screenshot.

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The Top Four Weasel Words Used By Racists

Michael Howard’s “Are you thinking what we’re thinking” backfired.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen the statement “I hate it when people use the word ‘racist’ to shut people up” or something like it when racists are challenged on their abhorrent views.  I often see statements like this on the comments threads on Telegraph blogs or Huffington Post. The funny thing is, the ones who use that statement will often say something really racist in the next sentence.

Racists don’t like to be called racists. That’s understandable. It’s a pretty horrible word but then racists are pretty horrible people; there is really nothing nice about them. Scratch a racist and you’ll likely find a sexist, an anti-Semite and a bully underneath.

Then there are those who use weasel words to claim they aren’t racists but actually succeed in achieving the opposite of what they’d intended to do.

Here is my Top Four.

  1. “What’s wrong with loving my own people”?
  2. “I’m not a racist, I’m an ethno-nationalist”
  3. “I’m concerned about immigration, that doesn’t make me a racist”
  4. “Anti-racism = anti-white”

The first one attempts to refute the charge of racism but fails to work, because when the phrase “my own people” is used it refers to a specific ethnic group. It also implies that the speaker loves every person who shares their pigmentation regardless of never having met them and regardless of their ideologies. The speaker fools no one but him/herself.

The second one uses the compound word “ethno-nationalist” to claim that the speaker isn’t racist but some kind of nationalist. But the construction of this compound informs the reader or the listener, that only one ethnic group can have citizenship bestowed upon them – in other words, the ethnic group of the speaker.

The third phrase is fairly common and was used by Michael Howard when he was leader of the Tory party (“Are you thinking what we’re thinking”?). The trouble with this innocuous looking phrase is that it is used to deflect attention away from some pretty unsavoury notions. More often than not the phrase will be accompanied by revealing remarks like “swamped” or will make a reference to hygiene or contamination.

The fourth phrase is a favourite of Telegraph commenter, “danoconnor” and has been adopted by others. There are two things about this phrase that interest me. First, there’s the insistence that anti-racism campaigners hate white people or that anti-racist efforts are directed against whites. No, we hate white people who are racist. There’s a big difference.  Second, it suggests a well-developed sense of victimhood on the part of the speaker who will also make the claim that most violent crime is committed by blacks on whites.

Perhaps the worst excuse that I’ve heard is “racism is natural”. Yes, someone actually said that on Telegraph blogs. He then proceeded to compare the entire country to an enormous village where they’re suspicious of strangers and lynch them upon sight. “Us simple folks don’t take kindly to yo metropolitan Fancy Dan ways ’round here, fella. Now git yo ass outta here or git it lynched”.

If you’re the sort of person who uses racist language and insists that certain ethnic groups leave the country, then you’re a racist. If you think Enoch Powell was “right”, then you’re a racist.  If you think that by saying “Islam isn’t a race, it’s a religion” lets you off the hook, then you’re most likely a racist.  There’s an old saying that can be applied in all cases: “If the cap fits”.

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Ron Paul, right libertarians and their questionable attitudes to difference

Ron Paul, right libertarian, racist, anti-Semite and conspiracy theorist

A lot of right libertarians love to talk about freedom. They love to tell us how their ‘libertarianism’ will make us happier. “Greed is natural and greed is good” is the motto by which they live their lives. They also love to talk about how they want to abolish institutions that work to promote greater understanding and equality. The suggestion put forth by the right libertarian is that the ‘invisible hand’ of the ‘free market’ will eliminate racism. It’s not only laughable. It’s a myth. Especially when so many right libertarians harbour deep-seated prejudices.

Scratch the surface of some of these ‘libertarians’ and you’ll often find some questionable attitudes to difference underneath. Their attitudes are almost always shrouded in economic dogma and masked by cold, matter-of-fact business-speak. For example the lunch counter protests in the South were retroactively opposed on the grounds of “trespass”. They also argue that businesses should be permitted to refuse someone on the basis of skin colour.  It is for these reasons that soi-disant libertarians claimed to oppose the civil rights movement. Ron Paul, whose soubriquet is “Dr No”, has earned a reputation among right libertarians as “principled”. He is often lauded on The Telegraph’s blogs and hailed elsewhere as a true ‘libertarian’. A commenter on Hannan’s blog says,

Ron Paul seems to be ignored by the British media.   In the U.S. he also gets a raw deal. A recent CNN poll had him rated at
0%.  It turned out that they had polled just 50 people.

This reads like a lament but the commenter does not connect the lament with lived experience. Furthermore this commenter wilfully ignores Paul’s racist and anti-Semitic remarks. In 2008 CNN reported that,

A series of newsletters in the name of GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul contain several racist remarks — including one that says order was restored to Los Angeles after the 1992 riots when blacks went “to pick up their welfare checks.”

Hannan is a self-declared admirer of Paul, whom he describes as an “honest principled patriot” (see the comments).  There’s no mention of his racism and that is no surprise.  It’s much easier to elide something as inconvenient as Paul’s racism and talk movingly about his ‘honesty’. We’ll return to Hannan later.  Paul may deny it but there are still many doubts over his protestations of innocence. Is it because he doth protest too much? CNN again,

The controversial newsletters include rants against the Israeli lobby, gays, AIDS victims and Martin Luther King Jr. — described as a “pro-Communist philanderer.” One newsletter, from June 1992, right after the LA riots, says “order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks.”

It’s just a joke… yeah, sure it is.

In May 2011, capitolhillblue wrote,

Twice-failed Presidential wannabe Ron Paul’s racism is never far from the surface and reappeared Friday when he admitted to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that he would not have voted for the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 if he had been in Congress at the time.

News One, a black website tells us that Paul is closely associated with the extreme right-wing  John Birch Society,

Despite its nefarious history, Ron Paul has been a longtime supporter and friend of the John Birch Society, speaking as they keynote speaker at their 50th anniversary and holding  rallies with them. Like The John Birch society, Paul has become a magnet for Neo-Nazis who support him online on sites like Stormfront. Paul even has a picture with the Internets most notorious Neo-Nazis, Don Black and his son Derrek, the founders of Stormfront. Paul also famously refused to give back a donation from Don Black.

In fact, here is Paul addressing the John Birch Society in August 2009.


Outside the Beltway attempts to defend Paul and, by extension, the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Much of the piece is guilt by association. Kirchick notes Paul’s long association with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a respected libertarian think tank, and points out that other people associated with the organization are Confederate sympathizers and the like.

The Ludwig von Mises Institute is at the intellectual forefront of the neo-Confederate movement. It produces reams of  libertarian justifications for slavery, while also perpetuating the myth of the Southern states-as-victim. The Civil War, they argue had nothing to do with slavery. It was all about states rights. In other words, and in the mind of the neo-Confederate, the war was about the right for individual states to continue the practice of slavery as well as “tariffs”. In essence, the LvMI rewrites history to suit a particular ideological agenda. Their neo-Misean narrative is intended to lend intellectual gravitas to what is, actually, a Dixiecratic vision. This article is fairly typical.

Immediately following that clause in the Confederate Constitution is a clause that has no parallel in the U.S. Constitution. It affirms strong support for free trade and opposition to protectionism: “but no bounties shall be granted from the Treasury; nor shall any duties or taxes on importation from foreign nations be laid to promote or foster any branch of industry.”

The LvMI believes its strict economic discourse is unassailable. The suggestion is that economics is a neutral ‘science’ that speaks for itself. LvMI’s ‘scholar’ Thomas Di Lorenzo is part of the vanguard in the historical revisionism of the Confederate States of America. Here he says,

Legal scholar Gene Healy has made a powerful argument in favor of abolishing the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. When a fair vote was taken on it in 1865, in the aftermath of the War for Southern Independence, it was rejected by the Southern states and all the border states. Failing to secure the necessary three-fourths of the states, the Republican party, which controlled Congress, passed the Reconstruction Act of 1867 which placed the entire South under military rule

The Fourteenth Amendment is the one that contains what is known as the Citizen Clause. This  granted all persons born or naturalized in the United States, regardless of their skin colour, the right to citizenship (The Indians were mysteriously excluded). Prior to this, black people – free and slave – were not considered to be citizens. The amendment is referred to as a “Reconstruction” amendment  and was enacted partly in response to the Black Codes of the southern states, which were passed in the wake of the Thirteenth Amendment – which ended slavery –  and forbade blacks from voting and holding public office.  In this article, Di Lorenzo muddies the waters by introducing the straw man of northern racism. He splits hairs over the Constitution which is, in the mind of the neo-Confederate, an evil document that stole their freedoms away.

The Fourteenth Amendment has had precisely the effect that its nineteenth-century Republican party supporters intended it to have: it has greatly centralized power in Washington, D.C., and has subjected Americans to the kind of judicial tyranny that Thomas Jefferson warned about when he described federal judges as those who would be “constantly working underground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric.” It’s time for all Americans to reexamine the official history of the “Civil War” and its aftermath as taught by paid government propagandists in the “public” schools for the past 135 years.

Di Lorenzo presents what appears prima facie to be a reasonable request to examine the history of the Civil War in new light but why stop there? Why not re-examine the Civil War against the backdrop of the entire history of the United States as Howard Zinn has done with The People’s History of the United States? The answer to that question is because Di Lorenzo and the LvMI have a vested interest in isolating the Civil War from the rest of US history. But notice how he uses quotation marks around the words “Civil War”.

Di Lorenzo’s main body of work orbits the dead star of Abraham Lincoln, whom he and the LvMI regards as a tyrant and a bully. Those of us who are familiar with a broader sweep of history already understand how historical figures are cosmetically-enhanced to offer a media-friendly image of flawed men and women. It happened then and is happening now.  Lincoln is not unique.  Yet Di Lorenzo labours under the illusion that he and the neo-Confederate movement are the only people to possess such knowledge.  And Jefferson Davis? Not a word about him and his poor grasp of military tactics or his slipshod presidency.  The Claremont Institute produced a review of Di Lorenzo’s The Real Lincoln in which it says,

As the title suggests, The Real Lincoln purports to go beyond the mountains of revisionist historiography to reveal Lincoln’s genuine principles and purposes. According to DiLorenzo, these had nothing to do with the perpetuation of free government and the problem of slavery: The “real” Lincoln did not care a whit about the “peculiar institution.” At the core of the “real” Lincoln’s ambition was an unqualified and unwavering commitment to mercantilism, or socialism as DiLorenzo sometimes intimates. Lincoln would stop at nothing to impose the “Whig economic system” upon America, and any opinion he voiced regarding slavery was merely instrumental in advancing this end. Lincoln’s “cause,” in the words of DiLorenzo, was “centralized government and the pursuit of empire.” According to DiLorenzo, Lincoln said this “over and over again,” although DiLorenzo does not trouble himself to produce a shred of evidence for this assertion.
If the “real” Lincoln needed to resort to war to advance his cause, he was happy to do it: “Lincoln decided that he had to wage war on the South,” because only military might would destroy “the constitutional logjam behind which the old Whig economic policy agenda had languished.” In the end, writes DiLorenzo, “[Lincoln] wanted war” and “was not about to let the Constitution stand in his way.” Lincoln was devoted to undermining the Constitution in the name of tariffs and internal improvement schemes. In its place Lincoln hoped to build a centralized mercantilist-socialist state, with himself at the helm.

Here, Di Lorenzo has written a smear job on his most critical foe, the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The League of the South recently published its “Declaration of Cultural Secession” advocating a society that advances what it calls the virtues of “Celtic culture,” defined on its Web site as “the permanent things that order and sustain life: faith, family, tradition, community, and private property; loyalty, courage, and honour.” The SPLC lied about and defamed the League of the South by spreading the falsehood on its own Web site that by “Celtic culture” the League of the South means, and I quote, “white people.” Apparently the SPLC believes that only white people embrace family, tradition, community, private property, courage, etc.

Notice the wilful misrepresentation at the end of the paragraph. Di Lorenzo, who is supposed to be some sort of academic, writes in a prose style that’s reminiscent of a petulant correspondent who writes regular letters of complaint to local newspapers. Here he writes of Obama,

It only took the Obama administration a couple of weeks to prove that the national leadership of the Democratic Party is guided by totalitarian-minded socialists who seek to create an omnipotent government. The U.S. government is now controlled by people who have been dreaming of living out their utopian socialist fantasies ever since the fantasies were brought to their attention in college decades ago by their Mao/Castro/Che Guevara poster-hanging, capitalism-hating, communistic professors.

Right libertarians will often use words like “socialist” , “totalitarian” or “America-hating” to describe Obama. Some will question his birth (see the amusingly self-styled ‘Birther’ movement)  and claim that he wasn’t born in the US. It’s merely a way of transferring one’s racism over to a narrative about ‘patriotism’.

Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs also identifies herself as a ‘libertarian’ but her website tells us an altogether different story. Atlas Shrugs is often cited by the Islamophobes of the EDL and Stop the Islamisation of Europe. Even the mass murderer, Anders Behring Breivik, cited it. Geller even wrote a few apologies for Breivik’s actions. She described the summer camp on the island of Utoya as an “indoctrination center” that was full of “jihadists”. She even tried to claim that those who had attended the summer camp weren’t “pure Norwegian”. Recently, she edited her blog to remove a blatantly racist caption.

Writing for the Mellon-Scaife WorldNetDaily, she wrote of Barack Obama,

After reading Barack Obama’s speech at the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NAACP Thursday, there is no getting around it: The man is a racist. He is not a unifier, a healer, or a leader – he divides, incites, destroys. He foments animus and anger. The speech proves, yet again, that he does not (nor does he want to) represent all Americans. He is the most racist, divisive official we have ever elected to any high office, let alone the most powerful office in the world.

Did you see how she inverted the entire argument about racism by claiming that Obama is a ‘racist’? She can’t use the word she wants to use: nigger. It’s a distortion.  Like the rest of the ‘birthers’ that she associates herself with, she repeats the worn out canard that Obama is really a Muslim in Christian clothing.
Of course, no Obama speech would be complete without the advancement of Islamic supremacism. He got applause for claiming that “Muslim Americans [are] viewed with suspicion simply because they kneel down to pray to their God.” He made no mention of public Christian prayer (which can get you fired these days).
Every single headline calls Terreblanche a “white supremacist,” alluding to his position in the waning days of the apartheid government, thirty-odd years ago. But the real story here is not that Terreblanche was a “white supremacist” — if he really was (and I know how the left loves to throw around those labels). Whether he was or not, the man was brutally murdered, and I had to go through ten newspaper accounts to find out how he was murdered. The liberal media had to dehumanize him first. And not one newspaper account speaks of Black supremacism — yet that is the really important story in South Africa today. All I see in South Africa is Black supremacism. Terreblanche may have been a white supremacist, but he’s the dead one.
This demonstrates how Geller is disconnected from history . There is no mention of apartheid and the conditions in which South African blacks, Asians and ‘coloureds’ had to suffer. As far as Geller is concerned, all blacks are violent genocidally-inclined criminals
The genocide of Boers taking place in South Africa is never spoken of
What “genocide”? I wonder if she has ever been to South Africa. The fact-free Geller makes it up as she goes along. She clearly overlooks the Afrikaner Weerstandbeweging (AWB) and its veneration of Nazism. For a someone who is supposed to be Jewish, it’s a very odd position to take. Perhaps she’s insane?

In Britain, right libertarians also offer lip service to anti-racism. I say “lip service” because while they claim to be against racism, they will call for certain institutions to be abolished and will excuse an employer’s racism by declaring it a matter of ‘business’.

In 2009, Hannan wrote this

Barack Obama has an exotic background, and it would be odd if some people weren’t unsettled by it. During the campaign, he made a virtue of his unusual upbringing. He was at once from the middle of the country (Kansas) and from its remotest edge (Hawaii). He was both black and white. He was a Protestant brought up among Muslims. He seemed to have family on every continent. Like St Paul, he made a virtue of being all things to all men.

Was he playing to his gallery of US right libertarians? No doubt about it.

They complain that he has no mandate for the policy of tax, spend and borrow. And they’re right. Look, I supported the fellow, and I still wish him well. But to seek to close down debate with the racism card is pretty low.

Well, I hardly think anyone is “playing the racism card” and even if they are, then they may actually have a valid point.  Indeed, it’s easy for someone who isn’t black to make excuses for the tone of language used by Obama’s right wing critics.  Like many so-called libertarians, Hannan swats aside any idea that racism may be lurking behind the rhetoric used by the likes of the ‘Birthers’ for example. Incidentally, Hannan later wrote that he was “wrong” about Obama.

Now, I am not accusing Hannan of being a racist. He may be many things but I don’t think he’s necessarily a racist. However his use of the word “exotic” when describing Obama was wrong-headed. The word “exotic” is often applied without much thought and is used to describe someone of a different skin tone. My own background, for instance, is probably more mixed than Obama’s. But why has Hannan overlooked Ron Paul’s racist outbursts? Because he has the right credentials: he’s a small stater. But what Hannan fails to mention is Paul’s love of conspiracy theories. Paul has appeared on Alex Jones radio show to talk about the ‘New World Order’ and the 9/11 ‘Truth’ movement. When people speak about such things, you can’t guarantee that anti-Semitism and racism are following closely behind. The libertarian right are rather fond of conspiracy theories.

Hannan is a member of The Freedom Association, a right wing pressure group that was founded by Ross and Norris McWhirter, who had previously been involved in the Economic League, which worked to blacklist trade unionists and others whom it deemed to be subversive. The McWhirters were also associated with Lady Jane Birdwood, an eccentric right-winger who was closely associated with Britain’s fascists in the 1980’s.

The McWhirters were close personal and political friends. In the mid-1970s she joined forces with Ross McWhirter to produce the far-right magazine Majority. But it was to be a short-lived venture as the project was terminated after Ross McWhirter was killed by the IRA in 1975. Although she fought bitterly to keep the publication going, the trustees opposed such a move.

TFA’s darkest hour came when it supported the rebel English cricket tour of apartheid South Africa. In 1976, upset at the deselection of turncoat Reg Prentice,  TFA  secretly funded Julian Lewis (now Conservative MP for The New Forest) to pose as a Labour moderate in order for him to take control of the Newham North East constituency Labour Party . Prentice later  joined the Tories and became their MP for Daventry. He was elevated to the House of Lords in 1992.

The recent riots in England have sent the right libertarians scurrying to pen articles attacking black youths, whom have been variously described as “feral”. There is an implication here that black people are genetically pre-disposed to criminality. When television historian and Tudorist, David Starkey blamed the riots on the way people spoke, he unwittingly cast himself in the role of a rather posh Alf Garnett. He deliberately inflamed the situation by quoting Enoch Powell’s infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech. Yet, the Telegraph’s arch-libertarians were quick to defend Starkey claiming that he wasn’t “a racist” and that he was right to single out black youths because of the way they spoke and the music they listened to.  They also defended his weird thesis that “whites have become black”.

Toby Young (known as Hon Tobes on this blog) produced this apology, while hiding behind the Oxford Dictionary definition of racism.

To begin with, Starkey wasn’t talking about black culture in general, but, as he was anxious to point out, a “particular form” of black culture, i.e. “the violent, destructive, nihilistic, gangster culture” associated with Jamaican gangs and American rap music. Had he been talking about these qualities as if they were synonymous with African-Caribbean culture per se, or condemning that culture in its totality, then he would have been guilty of racism. But he wasn’t. He was quite specifically condemning a sub-culture associated with a small minority of people of African-Caribbean heritage. (Admittedly, he could have made this clearer.) Rather than being racist, he was merely trotting out the conventional wisdom of the hour, namely, that gang culture is to blame for the riots. The Prime Minister made the same point in the House of Commons on Thursday. (I wrote a blog post on Thursday in which I pointed out the shortcomings of this analysis.)

Tobes, completely and wilfully unaware of 1950’s R&B, rock n roll and death metal rushed to the conclusion that only gangsta rap is a dangerous and corrosive musical form because it celebrates a “violent, destructive, nihilistic, gangster culture”. Perhaps Hon Tobes would like to consider the example of Little Walter’s Boom Boom…Out Go the Lights? Then there’s Marilyn Manson, who has been banned from a number of states as well as Australia because of his image and lyrics. It’s pretty obvious that Tobes also blissfully ignorant of the swaggering misogyny of heavy metal too – the majority of which is played by white musicians.
He then went on to make an almost equally controversial observation about the Labour MP for Tottenham. “Listen to David Lammy, an archetypical successful black man,” he said. “If you turned the screen off so you were listening to him on radio you’d think he was white.”

Owen Jones leapt on this: “You said David Lammy when you heard him sounded white and what you meant by that is that white people equals respectable.”

But I don’t think that is what Starkey meant. Rather, he was simply reiterating the point that he wasn’t condemning African-Caribbean men per se. On the contrary, he was condemning a particular sub-culture, one that may have originated in parts of the African-Caribbean community, but which has now been taken up by some white people as well. Condemning a sub-culture that’s associated with certain people of a particular race, but is embraced by blacks and whites, may be provocative, but it isn’t racist.

But would Hon Tobes be able to identify racism without the aid of the OED? Unlikely. He adds this,

No doubt there’ll be people who take issue with this analysis.

The only problem for Tobes is that his use of the word ‘analysis’ is misleading. This is an apology and a very poor one at that.

Delingpole tried to claim that if  “Starkey is racist, then so is everyone else”. But that doesn’t let him off the hook.

The part of the programme which seems to have most got the Left’s goat is the one where David Starkey says that “the whites have become black.” But again, the cultural point he is making is indisputable. Listen to how many white kids (and Asian kids) choose to speak in black street patois; note the extent to which hip hop and grime garage and their offshoots have penetrated the white mainstream; check out how many white kids like to roll like pimps or perps with their Calvins pulled up to their midriffs and their jean waistbands sagging below their buttocks.

This is a posh, middle-class white man speaking in an RP accent. Remember, Delingpole is not only a self-styled climate change sceptic, he’s a batshit mad libertarian who rejects peer-reviewed evidence. Like others of his ilk, he clings fast to conspiracy theories. But people like Young and Delingpole can only see culture in one-dimensional terms. For them, there is a ‘black’ culture as well as a ‘white’ culture. One culture contains an aberrant popular form and the other doesn’t. It’s simple.  The cultural cross-fertilization that occurred as a result of immigration is neither here nor there. In fact, it is seen as a corrupting influence and there is no evidence to the contrary that can change their views. After all, wasn’t Grand Theft Auto accused of encouraging people to commit the crimes depicted in the game?

Right libertarians prefer to see things in black and white. The world is a complicated place that is full of complex issues. Yet, these people only want easy answers – hence their love of conspiracy theories. The racists among them lack the honesty to admit to their prejudices. For them, it’s simply a matter of individual rights and if those individual rights include the right to discriminate on the basis of skin colour then it’s simply a matter of ‘business’ and not racism.

The line here seems to be “I’m not a racist, but…”

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Filed under History, History & Memory, Human rights, Neoliberalism, Popular music, racism, riots, Society & culture

John Galliano, casual anti-Semitism and Ezra Pound

I don’t follow fashion and I despise the fashion industry. Out of all the arts, fashion is probably the least politically and socially engaged of all the forms. Its leading ‘lights’ are self-congratulatory and self-obsessed. Some, like John Galliano, are either completely clueless or wilfully ignorant of history. So when I’d heard that Galliano had been accused of anti-Semitism, I wasn’t at all surprised.

Galliano’s excuse for his outburst is that he is addicted to drink. Nowhere Towers believes this is a feeble excuse and suspects that Galliano is being dishonest and is really an anti-Semite at heart. In all of the talk about the incident, no one has once mentioned the fact that he models his appearance (and perhaps his thinking) on Ezra Pound.

For those who aren’t familiar, Ezra Pound was an expatriate American poet who lived in Britain in the early part of the 20th century. He was friends with T S Eliot, another expat American, whose poems he published. He also helped to shape the work of Hemingway and Joyce. Pound wrote for Wyndham Lewis’ (who was also an anti-Semite) literary magazine BLAST and coined the word “Vorticism”, which was the British inflection of futurism. Pound was appalled by the loss of lives in WWI, which he blamed on “international finance and usury” – these words are often employed euphemistically by anti-Semites to refer to Jews.  Initially attracted to  CH Douglas’s social credit ideas, he became a fascist in 1924. He wrote anti-Semitic articles for Action,  Oswald Moseley’s newspaper. He dabbled in economics too…but no one took him seriously.

He lived in Italy during WWII and broadcasted anti-Semitic propaganda for the fascist government.  When the Allies invaded Sicily in 1943, he fled north. Days after Mussolini was shot, he was captured by partisans, who later released him. Fearing the game was up, he and his wife surrendered to the US Counter-intelligence Corps in Genoa. He was imprisoned. He was later examined by psychiatrists, who concluded that Pound had had a mental breakdown. It should be noted that Pound was an early advocate of the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.  If that sounds surprising, then we should remember that Zionism was not popular among the majority of Europe’s Jews and was seen, and rightly so, as a playing into the hands of anti-Semites.

So now Galliano is awaiting his fate. He claims that he isn’t anti-Semitic or racist and yet, it seems, he has plenty of previous form. Besides, racism seems to be rife in the fashion industry.  This blog says,

Issues around racism within the fashion industry aren’t new. Every few months, it seems, a new incident takes place: models being photographed in blackface (Claudia Schiffer in 2010 and Lara Stone in 2009); non-white models dressed in “tribal” clothing (most recently at the 2010 Victoria’s Secret fashion show); all-white runway shows (Fall 2008 is perhaps the most infamous example, but despite media coverage of the issue, the trends have continued); all-white fashion editorials in some of the most influential magazines; and, in seeming apology, the cliched “black issue,” dedicated  to models of color (see, most recently, Vogue Italia, 2008).  Influential people of color within the fashion industry have been speaking out for years, but the situation remains bleak.  With such a pitiful record, it’s little wonder that the hiring of a white editor for Essence magazine was met with such outcry.

Galliano’s defence reminds me of the oft-used defence of the 1970’s, “It was just a joke…can’t you take a joke”? Well, call me humourless but racism is racism and it doesn’t matter if it is masked by jocularities. In fact, that makes it worse.

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Filed under fashion, racism, Society & culture