Tag Archives: Brendan O’Neill

Covid-19: The Conspiracy Theory Files

It was inevitable that various conspiracy theories would emerge during the Covid-19 pandemic, and it’s no surprise that many, if not the majority, of these conspiracy theories come from the far-right and Right libertarians. For self-styled libertarians like Spiked’s Brendan O’Neill, who also takes the Murdoch shilling, the crisis is really all about liberal-left spoilsports wanting to curtail his right to infect others in confined spaces.

The pandemic has provided O’Neill with the opportunity to attack his favourite targets: the Greens, left-wingers, anti-racists, socialists, you name them, O’Neill hates them. He’s like one of those pub bores you meet supping in the local Wetherspoons, talking about how the country is “going to hell in a handcart”.

The first paragraph of O’Neill’s article starts predictably, but messily.

People’s refusal to panic has been a great source of frustration for the establishment in recent years. ‘The planet is burning’, they lie, in relation to climate change, and yet we do not weep or wail or even pay very much attention. ‘I want you to panic’, instructs the newest mouthpiece of green apocalypticism, Greta Thunberg, and yet most of us refuse to do so. A No Deal Brexit would unleash economic mayhem, racist pogroms and even a pandemic of super-gonorrhoea, they squealed, incessantly, like millenarian preachers balking at the imminent arrival of the lightning bolt of final judgement, and yet we didn’t flinch. We went to work. We went home. We still supported Brexit.

How any of this is related to the pandemic is a mystery, but O’Neill persists:

Our skittish elites have been so baffled, infuriated in fact, by our calm response to their hysterical warnings that they have invented pathologies to explain our unacceptable behaviour. The therapeutic language of ‘denialism’ is used to explain the masses’ refusal to fret over climate change. Environmentalists write articles on ‘the psychology of climate-change denial’, on ‘the self-deception and mass denial’ coursing through this society that refuses to flatter or engage with the hysteria of the eco-elites. Likewise, the refusal of voters to succumb to the dire, hollow warnings of the ferociously anti-Brexit wing of the establishment was interpreted by self-styled experts as a psychological disorder. ‘[This is] people taking action for essentially psychological reasons, irrespective of the economic cost’, said one professor.

Ah, so this is about the mysterious ‘elites’? Find me an O’Neill article without the word ‘elite’ and I’ll show you a caring Conservative. O’Neill is in complete denial; his brain (if he has one) is in total lockdown. He refuses to accept the fact that Covid-19 is a communicable disease and is highly contagious. The fact that people of all ages have died is of no matter to him. For O’Neill, people ignoring medical advice and mingling in public spaces like parks and the beaches is seen as an act of defiance against the shadowy ‘elites’ who want to you to eat your vegetables.

Of course, the replies beneath Spiked’s article are just as barking, if not worse.

This one looks like a bot.

What analysis? What insight? There’s more. This one talks about “The Cabal”. Cue eerie theremin music.

You should see the rest of his timeline. It’s a catalogue of conspiracy theories and the usual mush about horrible Greens wanting to spoil his freedom. Here’s my reply to one of Matt’s tweets on his timeline. You’ll notice that he hangs on Donald Trump’s every word.

This is one is incomprehensible.

This one uses the opportunity to spout racist and xenophobic nonsense.

O’Neill and his followers are ignorant of science and disdainful of expert advice from clinical practitioners. They think their ignorance trumps years of study, and clinical work, and all that matters is their ‘freedom’. I don’t like wishing illness or death on anyone, but in the case of O’Neill and his deadbeat acolytes, I’m happy to make exceptions. Perhaps a dose of Covid-19 will teach all of them a valuable lesson. Then again, maybe it won’t.

There’s a massive threat to public health, much of it is caused by Covid-19, but some of it will be caused by ignoramuses and anti-intellectual schmucks like O’Neill taking to social media and telling people that there’s nothing to worry about.

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Obeisance Is So 12th Century

Britain is swinging between two extremes. On the one hand, there’s a silly Blitz spirit being invoked in response to the coronavirus pandemic, while on the other, there are demands that cringing deference be paid to a cruel and incompetent government, which has wasted several weeks instead of preparing for the pandemic.

First, the definition of the word ‘obeisance’.

noun

a movement of the body expressing deep respect or deferential courtesy, as before a superior; a bow, curtsy, or other similar gesture.deference or homage:The nobles gave obeisance to the new king.

Last week, I read an interesting article by The Guardian’s Nesrine Malik, who wrote:

There is an odd piousness that infects the public and the media during times of national crisis. Overnight, our leaders are imbued with qualities they previously did not possess; in Boris Johnson’s case, with qualities he is notorious for not possessing. His pandemic management plan, one released with little supporting scientific evidence, is not to be questioned. It is to be followed and, if you like, praised. For those particularly susceptible to fetishising those in power in troubled times, it is to be hailed as not only clever, but a sort of counterintuitive genius. In Britain this is how we like our heroes – boffiny underdog types who retreat to their self-built labs at the bottom of the garden, and emerge with a panacea.

In these conditions, a leader is laundered of historical recklessness and proven incompetence. Any minor adjustments in behaviour become major corrections. There was a point towards the end of the government’s post-Cobra press conference when it became clear to me that Johnson was struggling to get through it all with a straight face, without making a quip. He ummed and aahed, fighting his compulsion by making vague noises. He almost pulled it off, but fell at the very last stretch, saying that the aim of the plan was to flatten the peak of the infection, to “squash that sombrero”. He then left with a hurried afterthought of a message to the stricken: “We will get through this.”

She continues:

Johnson and his team’s hagiography is already being written merely for coming up with a plan, not because it works, but because in times of crisis our exceptionalism becomes embodied in our leadership. We are keeping the country open as the rest of the world does the opposite because we have cracked it.

Things have moved on since that article was written and, last night, it was announced that pubs, bars and restaurants would close. This, however, prompted complaints from the usual quarters about freedoms being lost, some of which have been couched in World War 2 Blitz rhetoric, while others, like this one from Brendan O’Neill was simply idiotic.

Britain without its pubs is not Britain. It just isn’t. It becomes something else. Something worse. Something less free, less convivial, less human.

Yes, we all know that Covid-19 is a serious disease and we all agree that huge amounts of government resources should be devoted to tackling it and treating those infected by it.

Below this, O’Neill reaches for Orwell in a feeble attempt to justify the continued opening of pubs

But to halt everyday life, even pub life, in response to it? We didn’t do that during the far worse 1918 flu epidemic. Or during the Second World War. Or when the IRA was bombing actual pubs. We carried on. The pub continued. It had to. It’s the space where people meet and debate and fall in love and read their newspaper. As George Orwell said, forget the booze — though that is essential — what a pub really embodies is ‘atmosphere’.

O’Neill simply isn’t much good at thinking, and for all his complaints about ‘freedom’, there isn’t a single word about how public places like pubs, cafes and other places where people gather, are sites of possible infections. Like all anti-intellectuals, O’Neill believes that if you can’t see the threat, then it doesn’t exist. We should simply channel our inner Blitz spirit and carry on selfishly drinking while infecting those around us. O’Neill’s plea could go something like those stupid ‘Keep Calm’ posters which now emblazons tea towels and t-shirts.

Keep Calm

And

Carry On

Infecting Others

Former UKIP MEP and anti-intellectual, Godfrey Bloom also invoked World War 2 nostalgia with this ill-considered tweet.

Bloom was actually born 4 years after the end of the war and, in any case, this is a false equivalence. A virus is not the same as the Luftwaffe’s bombs and is arguably far deadlier because of its relative visibility and its ability to replicate itself inside cells. Perhaps what O’Neill and Bloom are really trying to tell us is that they’re piss heads.

Apart from the World War 2 nostalgia, there’s a hardcore of Tory politicians and their media hangers on, who have been complaining that there isn’t enough deference being shown to Boris Johnson and his hapless ministers. We’re supposed to shut up, stop complaining and pay homage to our glorious leaders. Here’s Dan Hodges complaining about shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, who rightly criticized Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s economic measures as not going far enough.

He was joined by Mrs Gove, who enjoys a few bottles of wine of an evening and then takes to Twitter to embarrass herself. This tweet ploughs roughly the same furrow as Hodges’ tweet. No surprise there, they both write for the same appalling newspaper, the Daily Mail.

Someone called Ash Hirani thought he’d emulate his Tory heroes with this tweet


Some Labour politicians are just as bad. Here’s a tweet from the Leader of Crawley Council.

Poor Wee Lamb is completely oblivious to the fact that Sunak’s measures don’t cover the self-employed and casual workers, and the government wasted several weeks pursuing its Social Darwinian ‘herd immunity’ notion. Perhaps this is the kind of opposition politicians that the likes of Hodges et al on Fleet Street want: unquestioning, uncritical and offering only token opposition. He would do well to read up on the history of the party of which he purports to be a member.

As Nesrine Malik observes, now is not the time for deference. I would add the criticality is vital to ensure that we not only get through this public health emergency, but ensure that workers of all kinds are financially protected, and that the government is properly held to account. Such things have escaped the attention of our selfish idiotic commentators. who would much rather wallow in World War 2 nostalgia, suck up to authority and whine about not being able to knock back oceans of booze under the slippery rubric of ‘freedom’.

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What’s Wrong With The Word ‘Coloured’?

Since Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions uttered the word ‘coloured’, many White people up and down the country have been losing their minds over the outrage it’s caused among Black and Brown people. “What’s wrong with it?”, they’ll demand, while others will say “but it’s okay to say ‘people of colour’, so why isn’t it okay to say ‘coloured'”? Well, it’s really quite simple: the word ‘coloured’ is an old-fashioned term, much like ‘half-caste’ and ‘Negro’. It’s offensive to many Black people. ‘People of colour’ is a relative new construction, and refers to anyone with dark skin. It is not the same as ‘coloured’, which also has connotations with South African apartheid, and which was used to classify anyone who was neither White nor Black.

Sadly, too many white people, Brendan O’Neill, for example, are incapable of seeing this and will claim, without a shred of self-reflexivity, that Black people “see racism everywhere” as he has done in the tweet below.

If anyone is being ‘divisive’, it’s O’Neill, who couches his racism in pseudo-libertarian language of opposition to identity politics.

Look, if you’re born with Black or Brown skin, you’re reminded of your ethnicity and social status every time you look in the mirror. That doesn’t happen for White folk. Moreover, those White people who claim to see nothing offensive in the word ‘coloured’ do so from a position of privilege and view the world through the lens of that privilege. O’Neill rails against ‘identity politics’, which provides convenient camouflage for his evident racism. It’s not the first time he’s done this either.

In their defence, some white people may claim that “John Barnes sees nothing wrong with it”. Well, Barnes is only one man and he doesn’t speak for all Black people, and neither does Trevor Phillips. But just because some Black people have no problem with the word, that doesn’t give White people the license to use it themselves. Furthermore, it reveals a great deal of insensitivity on the part of those White people who believe there’s nothing wrong with the word ‘coloured’.

Those people who share Brendan O’Neill’s weltanschauung will often be heard complaining that they can’t say the word ‘nigger’ and will often offer the feeble excuse, “but Black people use it”. First, not all Black people use it and second, why do you want to use it? Many of the most common racial slurs were coined by White people. These words have power behind them; the power of the dominant cultural ideology. It is the same ideology that produced the pseudo-science of racial classification. Racial slurs coined by minorities to refer to Whites, however, lack the same power. So, honky, for example, doesn’t have the same power as, say, ‘paki’ or ‘gypo’.

When Amber Rudd used the word ‘coloured’ to refer to Diane Abbott, she unconsciously revealed her inner racist in all its classificatory glory. She may deny she was being racist (so what if she’s had an on/off affair with Kwasi Kwarteng?), but when was the last time you heard the word ‘coloured’ being used to describe anyone? The 1960s? The 1970s?

I’ll leave you with the words of Prof. Stuart Hall.

It is much harder for black people, wherever they were born, to be accepted as British”.


Hall (2003:230)

Further reading

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

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Let’s Talk About: The Marketplace Of Ideas

First, let’s get something straight: there is no such thing as a “marketplace of ideas”. It is a fantasy of reactionaries, racists and their apologists. Ideas cannot be bought, sold or exchanged because they have no physical form. They are what they are: ideas and nothing more. They are, to adapt Engels, false consciousness (remember that the word ‘ideology’ was originally coined to refer to a ‘science of ideas’ before it was laden with considerable baggage). The notion of the marketplace of ideas is one that has been popularized by LM and its various outlets as well as the free speech fundamentalists that gather around the feet of its self-appointed sages.

To claim that all ideas deserve equal time, consideration and space is also a fantasy; a figment of the SpikedOnline imagination. The inhabitants of Spiked World and their related LM spheres believe that “dangerous ideas” should be aired for the sake of ‘free speech’, but some ideas, or discourses, are hidden for a very good reason: they are dangerous, and the fact that they are dangerous also means they’re harmful and likely to cause problems for minority groups or society as a whole.

Free speech is not absolute and anyone who says it is, is not only hopelessly naïve but quite probably working to normalise and legitimise reactionary discourses, in order to further a particular ideological agenda. So it is with Spiked and LM, whose tiresome mantra is “free speech at any price”. If people come to harm because of their airing of bad or dangerous ideas, then, in LM’s eyes, that’s simply the price that one pays for free speech. It’s intellectually dishonest and immature.

All ideas, like ideology, are a product of discourse. The recent revival of interest in eugenics, for example, is a product of historical revisionist discourses, which also come bundled with other reactionary discourses: racism for example. Eugenics, once popular among self-styled intellectuals of the Right and the Fabian Left, was banished to the wilderness of discourse after it was popularized by the Nazis. Toby Young, whose ability to think and construct coherent and logical arguments is poor and, like the fools at Spiked, is obsessed with the notion of free speech at any price. His recent dalliance with education was used a trojan horse to smuggle in his retooled notion of eugenics, which he oxymoronically describes as ‘progressive eugenics’.

Young’s fascination with eugenics comes from his uncritical acceptance of Richard Hernstein and Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve, which posits, among other things, that intelligence, itself a contested term, is inherent to certain ‘races and social classes’, while other ‘races’, those of African origin particularly, score low on IQ tests and are thus deemed, in the eyes of eugenicists, as subnormal. This is to ignore the ethno-cultural bias in IQ testing in the first place.

Young has defended his notion of ‘progressive eugenics’ in this statement:

My proposal is this: once this technology [genetically engineered intelligence] becomes available, why not offer it free of charge to parents on low incomes with below-average IQs? Provided there is sufficient take-up, it could help to address the problem of flat-lining inter-generational social mobility and serve as a counterweight to the tendency for the meritocratic elite to become a hereditary elite. It might make all the difference when it comes to the long-term sustainability of advanced meritocratic societies.

What Young fails to grasp, and to which I alluded earlier, is that intelligence is in the eye of the beholder. Moreover, Young takes Murray’s position and claims, without a shred of evidence, that intelligence is class, as well as, racially based. We should note that Murray isn’t a geneticist or a medical scientist, he’s a political scientist. Hernstein wasn’t a geneticist either, he was a psychologist and sociologist. Many have critiqued The Bell Curve for its research and lack of academic rigour and rightly so, and yet it still cited by right-wing politicians and commentators for daring to speak the truth about ‘genetically based intelligence’.

Young’s ‘progressive eugenics’ is underpinned by racist and classist discourses, which have been around since the 19th century. Indeed, IQ tests, which form the basis for Young et al’s concept of ‘progressive eugenics’ is little more than a justification for scientific racism, which in turn serves as a means to justify social exclusion and the marginalization of already oppressed groups of people.

As this blog points out, LM regards hate speech as free speech. What is revealing about this claim is that its proponents are mostly white people. In a Spiked article titled Hate speech is free speech, Frank Furedi, the leader of the LM cult lazily conflates hate speech with blasphemy:

Hate speech is the secular equivalent of blasphemy. Blasphemy targeted ‘evil speaking’, but in a non-religious world, censors don’t do morality. So hate speech is defined as prejudice directed at individuals or groups on the basis of their identity — be it racial, cultural or lifestyle. In our era of identity politics, criticism of a cultural practice can now be interpreted as an instance of ‘hatred’ towards a group.

LM’s basis for ‘free speech’ hinges on what it sees as ‘identity politics’, which has become something of an Aunt Sally for the libertarian right. You will notice that there is no criticism of identity politics when it is deployed by the Conservative Party as a means to wriggle out of its racist Hostile Environment policy or its defence of Shaun Bailey’s recent bigoted comments, when they were criticized by many on the Left. LM’s other claim is that we now live in a post-racial world, but this is nothing less than wishful thinking and intellectual dishonesty – especially because structural (which the Right denies exists) and institutionalized forms of racism persist and show no immediate signs of abating.

It is baffling that people like O’Neill and Young are given so much airtime when their ideas lack as much as a scintilla of academic rigour or, indeed, erudition. The ideas that they proffer in the media are never challenged but are accepted as axiomatic by broadcasters. Yet, any attempt to challenge their bad ideas is met with defensiveness and claims that those who oppose them are “shutting down free speech”. However, this is to assume that free speech means that the other person is compelled to listen to badly thought-out arguments without having a right to reply. On the contrary, free speech means being able to challenge bad and dangerous ideas and discourses. O’Neill, Furedi and the rest of LM need to learn that.

Further reading

Butler, J. (2013). Excitable speech: A politics of the performative. Routledge.

Here’s the Manic Street Preachers.

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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 LM Network and Operation Yewtree (or Won’t Someone Think of the Abusers?)

Since the government’s announcement last week that there was to be an over-arching inquiry into child sex abuse at the highest levels of British politics, it was only inevitable that the LM Network would be out in force to cry foul and muddy the waters a little. In the last few days, Frank Furedi and Claire Fox have been conducting a tour of national television and radio studios to offer their rather suspect take on the matter. Within the space of hours, Furedi and Fox have both attempted to claim that the latest call for inquiry will lead to a “fear of adults” and that parents will be too afraid to let their children play outdoors for fear of being kidnapped and/or molested. This is not the issue and they know it. The majority of the abused children did not come from stable homes, nor were they kidnapped while playing on the swings in the local park. Many were in care homes and others were students at boarding schools. This point has been consistently sidestepped by LM in order to advance the claim that ‘freedoms’ are being compromised or eroded. It’s a classic appeal to emotion.

On Monday, Furedi and Fox’s fellow LMer, Brendan O’Neill, was quick out of the traps with this piece of drivel.

For around 30 years now, Britain has been in the grip of a paedophile panic.

You know where this is going and predictably enough.

There has been no break from the paedophile panic over the past three decades. Even when certain forms of the panic are exposed as baseless, as completely hollow, the underlying urge behind the panic, the moralism that is its fuel, simply moves on to another terrain, adopting a new language and a new focus to keep the concern with evil child abusers alive.

O’Neill continues:

Yewtree has institutionalised the 30-year-long paedophile panic, elevating it from an ever-present but sometimes ill-formed thing into an actual institution, a key part of British political, social and moral life, a constant provider of yet more horror stories, claims and rumours about wicked behaviour. And when (if) Yewtree is wrapped up? It will be replaced by something else. There are already demands for an extensive ‘Hillsborough-style inquiry’ into the rumours of a paedo ring in Westminster, the paedo obsessives clearly already looking for their next outlet, the next moral terrain on which they might keep alive their panic and spread more fear about the demonic dangers surrounding children in every town, village and hamlet in Britain.

Nowhere in O’Neill’s article is there even a modicum of sympathy for the victims. It’s all about him and his libertarian friends and how the investigation/inquiry will limit their ‘freedom’. That reminds me, the comments thread is particularly vile. Take this comment from which I shall quote a portion.

Yes, Rolf Harris’s conviction and absurd six year sentence today is a travesty of justice: a show trial of man-hating ideology.

This is just a sample of what passes for libertarian-style analysis. Demands for justice for the murdered and the abused children are dismissed as part of some “man-hating ideology”. It’s at times like this that some right-wing libertarians reveal, not only the limits of their thinking, but their real thoughts about women and children, who they believe exist solely for the pleasure of men.

In February, The Grand Furedi contributed this article to Spiked. He complains that Operation Yewtree is “more propaganda than policing”. He rationalizes Yewtree thus:

Operation Yewtree was different: it was not designed to solve reported crimes. Its principal aim, rather, is to construct crimes through soliciting allegations of sexual abuse committed decades and decades ago.

Children were killed and many more have been scarred for life, but all Furedi and his gang can do is complain that any attempt to get justice for the victims (a word he rejects) is an affront to his notion of ‘liberty’.

Here’s The Grand Furedi on Monday’s edition of Newsnight. Count the number of times he refers to children’s homes.

Not once. Cristina Odone, who often makes little sense, actually talks more sense than Furedi!

The LM network has always had questionable ideas on pederasty.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the LM Network wants no restrictions on Internet pornography. This includes child pornography.

What LM and their libertarian friends conveniently ignore is the impact that their ‘freedom’ will have on the freedoms of others. Theirs is nothing less than a rationalization of selfishness. The right of children to be free from exploitation and abuse is of little or no interest to them.

 

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Filed under Child sex abuse, Society & culture

Telegraph Comment of the Week (#27)

The severe weather that’s been affecting the British Isles for the last few weeks has provided a stark reminder that climate change is here and it is real. Climate change sceptics or ‘deniers’, as they are sometimes called, respond with the usual mush about how fossil fuels aren’t a contributory factor to the change in climate and how we should all learn to love breathing heavily polluted air. The ‘deniers’ are a scientifically-challenged bunch, who pretend to know more about science than they actually do. Lord Nigel Lawson is one such fellow. Lawson possesses no scientific qualifications… unless you count his degree in PPE, which includes the dismal science of economics but aside from that, he’s no scientist. He is, however, working on behalf of the very industries that are responsible for pollution and he loves to frack.

Climate change sceptics are an odd bunch. Take Brendan ‘Eddie Munster’ O’Neill, a man who takes a contradictory position on almost anything. Today he takes the side of the petrochemical industries over peer-reviewed scientific research. In a blog titled “Are you now or have you ever been a climate change sceptic”?

Eddie takes over from where his erstwhile stablemate, James ‘Norma Desmond’ Delingpole (who left Telegraph blogs this week),by accusing the Green Party’s Natalie Bennett of “McCarthyism” because she said in a BBC interview that “every senior adviser who refuses to accept the scientific consensus on climate change shouldn’t be in their posts”. Fair enough. Would you have a creationist in charge of teaching evolutionary theory? Well, no you wouldn’t. Therefore, it makes perfectly good sense to exclude any adviser whose views are ideologically opposed to climate change.

Eddie can’t see this. He groans:

Perhaps we should ask every aspiring civil servant, “Are you now or have you ever been a climate-change sceptic?” The Green Party’s proposal shows how authoritarian and intolerant environmentalist politics has become, so that everyone who raises awkward questions about the climate-change consensus is branded a “denier” (a term borrowed from the Inquisition) and anyone who fails to conform to the right way of thinking on climate-change issues will swiftly find themselves accused not just of being wrong, but of being immoral and even dangerous – the Green Party says senior government advisers who refute the green consensus are “endanger[ing] our future and our children’s future”.

This is paranoid stuff from Eddie and he knows just what his readers want, so he lays it on some more.

When a party can so casually call for the sacking of political advisers who do not accept a particular outlook, a particular consensus, then it’s pretty clear that party has lost any attachment to the age-old ideals of free thought, free speech and the rights of conscience. The Greens are demanding nothing less than a purge of eco-heathens and political undesirables from public life. And in the process they have revealed their true instincts, which are to demonise their opponents rather than debate them, censor stuff they don’t like rather than challenge it, and, like a secular version of yesteryear’s pointy-hatted enforcers of Biblical correctness, brand as beyond the pale anyone who doesn’t accept the gospel of greenness.

Notice how he continues the religious theme in this final paragraph.  The Greens are “demanding purges” and they “demonise their opponents”. Not that O’Neill ever demonizes anyone. Oh no. Not our Eddie. Parties call for sackings all the time but in O’Neill’s eyes, the Greens are a special case and his readers agree with him. This week’s comment was provided by someone calling themselves “bluepeter”.

bluedickheadNotice how this one immediately ties the idea of climate change to “wealth re-distribution”. Yeah, wealth redistribution is bad, it’s kind of like communism for “bluepeter”.  What I find curious about this comment is the way the author seems so certain of the merit of his bad arguments. “It’s not a debate the believers wish to have because they know they will lose” (my italics). The climate change sceptics believe that anyone who supports (the correct word for those who accept the scientific position) the idea of climate change are the same as members of a religious cult – as Eddie had done earlier with his Inquisition references. Not that the ‘deniers’ attitudes aren’t cult-like or the their unwavering belief in bankrupt economic theories borders on blind faith. Please, spare me the hysterics.

“Bluepeter” closes by suggesting the Greens, climate change scientists or anyone else who doesn’t agree with him are “fascists” adding  they, “silence the opposition”. Which is kind of funny when you think about it,  because that’s what today’s fascists (who tend to refer to themselves variously as ‘nationalists’ or ‘libertarians’ these days) accuse anti-fascists of doing when they oppose fascists on our streets. I even had someone suggest to me that trade unions who went on strike were ‘fascists’. Fascism and Nazism were both opposed to trade unions. Who says irony is dead?

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Filed under Media, Telegraph Comment of the Week, Tory press