Tag Archives: Charles Moore

Life on Gilligan’s Island (Part 50)

Kennite: leave the EDL alone, they'll just go away.

Kennite: leave the EDL alone, they’ll just go away.

After Charles Moore’s high praise for Kennite’s faultless piece of investigative journalism (sarcasm) and his own muddled analysis of the EDL in yesterday’s Telegraph, we get this from Gilligoon.

Last weekend, Tony Brett, a Liberal Democrat councillor in Oxford and the city’s deputy lord mayor, found what he called a “disgraceful rabble” of people climbing on the city’s main war memorial — squashing, he said, the flowers that mourners had placed there, then trying to remove half of them altogether and “jeering” other visitors as they paid their respects.

“Last weekend”? We’ll come back to that later. So what’s got your goat, Andy?

That day, the memorial was supposed to be the scene of a wreath-laying by the far-Right, racist English Defence League. But none of the people laying flowers and being jeered bore any kind of EDL insignia and none of the wreaths had any kind of card or message from the group.

Oh, really? Why do I get the feeling this article is going to tread the by now familiar path of a classic Kennite smear job?

Neither Mr Brett, nor a local newspaper reporter on the scene, saw any sign of any EDL presence.

Gilligoon loves to keep us in suspense. Finally, he tells us:

All the aggro, Mr Brett said — he called it the “hate” — came from the self-appointed opponents of bigotry, a group called Unite Against Fascism (UAF). UAF’s response was to start an online petition saying that merely by criticising them Mr Brett had proved himself an EDL patsy, “not a fit representative for Oxford’s wonderful and multi-ethnic community”, and must resign immediately.

Yeah, I agree with the protesters. In fact, after doing some digging, I’ve discovered that these quotes came from a two week old story that was carried by The Oxford Mail on June 2. Here’s an excerpt:

Oxford City Councilmember Mr Brett said the protesters “jeered” at people and “floral tributes were squashed and badly damaged”.

There was “no sign” of EDL banners, clothing or “behaviour” he said, adding: “What I saw was a loud and unruly bunch who were showing hate towards what seemed to me to be a peaceful and lawful act of remembrance.”

He said on his blog: “If I do see any hate activity from any group in Oxford I will challenge it rigorously but the only hate I saw today was from the protesters.”

However, the local branch of UAF deny this.

Unite Against Fascism branch treasurer Tracy Walsh said it feared the EDL would use the event as a “smokescreen for their anti-Islamic views”.

Adding she did not see anyone damage the flowers, she said: “We were very mindful of the fact that it was a war memorial.”

Brett, who had signed up to attend an EDL rally on Facebook,  has also faced calls to resign. There’s no mention of this from Gilligoon.

OUAF has created an online petition calling for Mr Brett to stand down. Twitter users have also criticised Mr Brett for attending the event.

Green party councillor for University Parks Sam Coates called for an immediate apology.

Ian McKendrick, spokesman for OUAF, said Mr Brett’s remarks were “divisive and unhelpful”.

He said: “There was no chanting, no trouble, and it was a peaceful protest.”

Of course, that didn’t convince Kennite, who instead tells us:

UAF, 10 years old this year, is one of Britain’s most prominent anti-fascist organisations. It has received hundreds of thousands of pounds from the biggest trade unions, and support from dozens of mainstream politicians. Its vice-chairmen include Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, and Hugh Lanning, the deputy general secretary of the PCS civil service union.

This is Kennite’s way of having a quick dig at the trade unions. Here he says:

Of course, few causes can be more deserving than resistance to the EDL and British National Party. But the uncomfortable truth about UAF is that it contains more than a trace of fascism itself. It specialises, as seen in Oxford, in organising counter-demonstrations to any activity, or anticipated activity, by the far Right.

Hang on, UAF “contains more than a trace of fascism”? He’s repeating the same spiel as the EDL and UKIP here. If he’d been alive in the 1930s, would he have said the same thing about the anti-fascists who chased Mosley’s British Union of Fascists from Cable Street?  What we see in this kind of statement is an attempt to revise history to suit the narrative of the far-right. I would even go as far to say that Gilligan is actually providing a service to the EDL, in spite of his apparent distaste for their activities (in 2010 an EDL member was prosecuted for possessing indecent images of children; the BNP is no better).

Unfortunately, UAF’s counter-demonstrations often seem to cause as much, if not more, trouble than those by the EDL and BNP.

Again, I would refer Kennite to Battle of Cable Street and the events of the 1970s when the National Front were confronted by anti-fascists on Britain’s streets. The overwhelming discourse that’s being advanced by Gilligoon is “the EDL is bad but don’t challenge them. They’re just misunderstood. Ignore them and they’ll go away”. Predictably enough, Kennite proposes no alternatives.  Instead he says:

And there are ineffective ways. The racist Right thrives on two things: publicity and the politics of victimhood. The mob outrage practised by UAF gets the fascists more of both. As with the “anti-Islamophobia” monitoring group Tell Mama, which has lost its government funding after overhyping the nature of anti-Muslim hostility, there is a sense that the racists and their opponents need each other.

For someone who supposedly has a degree in history from Cambridge University, Kennite is remarkably ignorant of this country’s recent past. Cable street, Kennite, Cable Street. He also gets another opportunity to repeat what he said in last week’s article about Tell Mama. Lazy.

He closes with this:

The danger is that by exaggerating it, and by the politics of confrontation, supposedly anti-racist groups fuel the very division, polarisation and tension they are supposed to counter.

Wrong. Fascists must be confronted and challenged wherever they are. Kennite prefers to gives the EDL and others a free pass. He accepts UKIP’s and the EDL’s anti-intellectual view that anti-fascists are ‘fascist’ because they challenge them. Never in my life have I encountered such twisted logic.

I’ll leave you and Kennite with Edmund Burke’s well-worn dictum.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

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Charles Moore: the EDL is misunderstood

Most, if not all Tories, are out of touch; on another planet and only capable of listening to the voices in their heads. This is something they have in common with Blairites, who are really nothing less than Tory entryists who infiltrated the Labour Party. Charles Moore, former editor of The Sunday Telegraph, The Daily Telegraph and is, more recently, Thatcher’s official biographer sums this up more than most.

At Nowhere Towers we know how some of the Telegraph’s bloggers routinely play to an audience of fascists, racists and sexists.  Kennite is one, Tobes is another. So it comes as no surprise that Charles Moore, who is not the sharpest tool in the box nor the most original hack in the Barclay Brothers stable, rides in on Gilligan’s coat-tails with this article.  The title is hysterical and screams:

Woolwich outrage: we are too weak to face up to the extremism in our midst

A sense of victimhood oozes from every letter and punctuation mark. It also suggests emasculation; the poisoning of our precious fluids. Have a look at the opening paragraph:

It is less than a month since Drummer Lee Rigby was murdered in Woolwich, yet already the incident feels half-forgotten. In terms of the legal process, all is well. Two men have been charged. There will be a trial. No doubt justice will be done. But I have a sense that the horror felt at the crime is slipping away.

Is horror something that we all want to feel every minute, every hour of the day? No. It is evident that Moore’s completely lost touch with the real world. He grudgingly admits that ” justice will be done” but then begins to paint a nightmarish picture of his own mind that even Heironymus Bosch would have envied. For in the next paragraph, he says:

The media, notably the BBC, quickly changed the subject. After a day or two focusing on the crime itself, the reports switched to anxiety about the “Islamophobic backlash”. According to Tell Mamma, an organisation paid large sums by the Government to monitor anti-Muslim acts, “the horrendous events in Woolwich brought it [Islamophobia] to the fore”. Tell Mamma spoke of a “cycle of violence” against Muslims.

Well, it’s true. In the aftermath of Lee Rigby’s murder, the number of attacks against Muslims and anyone who was ‘of Muslim appearance’ actually increased. If Moore doesn’t want to believe that, then perhaps he’d like to have word with the Met? He claims that monitoring groups like Tell Mama are using the tragedy to pursue a political agenda…unlike the EDL or the BNP? Get real, Charlie.

Yet the only serious violence was against a British soldier, who was dead.

Oh really? What about the elderly Pakistani man who was stabbed to death in a racist attack on the streets of Birmingham weeks before?  But it’s the next part of the paragraph that’s really Dagenham (two stops past Barking).

In The Sunday Telegraph, Andrew Gilligan brilliantly exposed the Tell Mamma statistics – most of them referred merely to nasty remarks on the web rather than actual attacks, many were not verified, no reported attack had required medical attention, and so on.

Ah, but Charlie, if I were to threaten to carry out violent acts against your wretched and pitiful body on the Internet, you would be perfectly entitled to refer the matter to the cops as I know you would.

A trap is set here, inviting those of us who reject such statements, to defend the EDL. I do not. While not, in its stated ideology, a racist organisation like the BNP, the EDL has an air of menace. It must feel particularly unpleasant for Muslims when its supporters hit the streets. But the EDL is merely reactive. It does not – officially at least – support violence.

The EDL is what? Yes, here Moore claims that the EDL “doesn’t support violence”. Laughable isn’t it?

It is the instinctive reaction of elements of an indigenous working class which rightly perceives itself marginalised by authority, whereas Muslim groups are subsidised and excused by it. Four days ago, six Muslim men were sentenced at the Old Bailey for a plot to blow up an EDL rally. The news was received quietly, though it was a horrifying enterprise. No one spoke of “white-phobia”. Imagine the hugely greater coverage if the story had been the other way round.

Here Moore panders to the bigots he knows will be attracted to his ill-informed rubbish. It would appear that Moore, like Kennite, has also taken issue with the word “Islamophobia”.  Similarly, Torygraph hacks also have a problem with the word “homophobia”. Tell you what, Charlie, if the word offends you that much, The Cat will use the phrases “anti-Muslim attacks” and “anti-gay attacks” instead. That way you and your chums won’t get your knickers in a twist over semantics. Is it a deal? But there’s still an element of fear to both kinds of bigotry. Deny it all you like.

All journalists experience this disparity. If we attack the EDL for being racist, fascist and pro-violence, we can do so with impunity, although we are not being strictly accurate. If we make similar remarks about Islamist organisations, we will be accused of being racist ourselves. “Human rights” will be thrown at us.

“Human rights”? Yeah, God damn those human rights. That reminds me of a passage from Gil Scott-Heron’s excellent rap poem B-Movie.

Civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights…it’s all wrong. Call in the cavalry to disrupt this perception of freedom gone wild. God damn it…first one wants freedom, then the whole damn world wants freedom.

We can’t have that. Human rights get in the way of making massive profits… just like it did in the 19th century, which is where Moore, Kennite and Hon. Tobes long to be.

Moore lays it on rather thickly here:

Much more important – from the point of view of the general public – you frequently find that Muslim groups like Tell Mamma get taxpayers’ money (though, in its case, this is now coming to an end). You discover that leading figures of respectable officialdom share conference platforms with dubious groups. You learn that Muslim charities with blatantly political aims and Islamist links have been let off lightly by the Charity Commission. And you notice that many bigwigs in Muslim groups are decorated with public honours. Fiyaz Mughal, for example, who runs Tell Mamma, has an OBE. Obviously it would be half-laughable, half-disgusting, if activists of the EDL were indulged in this way; yet they are, in fact, less extreme than some of those Muslims who are.

Here he uses the ad reductio absurdum argument that it’s “your money” that pays for Tell Mama. Remember, these people want to abolish the Equality and Human Rights Commission for the same spurious reasons. You often hear these people get defensive and scream “I’m not a racist”, then in the next sentence they’ll try to rationalize their bigotry by using plausible-sounding economic language taken from the lexicon of Murray Rothbard or Ron Paul to justify segregation and continued racism.

To show us what a weasel he is, Moore closes with this cloying paragraph in which he invokes the name of Nelson Mandela for effect.

This weekend, Nelson Mandela is gravely ill. When he was a boy, his teacher – whose name was Wellington – replaced his African first name with that of a British hero: he called him Nelson. It stuck. Anti-imperialist though he is, Mandela was educated with a profound respect for the British culture of parliamentary democracy. It became, in many respects, his model for a multiracial South Africa. It arose from good beliefs inculcated early in life. In our own country today, almost the opposite happens. In our state schools, in mosques, on the internet, in university gatherings, many young people are taught to detest the freedom in which they live. Just as surely as good teaching, bad teaching has its power. We refuse even to face it, let alone to stop it.

Yet, when Moore was editor of The Spectator The Dictator, he did not call for sanctions against South Africa. Indeed, like all right-wing journals of the period, The Dictator supported the perpetuation of apartheid. But let’s not forget the embarrassing episode in 2003 when Moore’s Telegraph had alleged that George Galloway had received a substantial sum of money from Saddam Hussein that had been creamed off the Oil for Food programme. Even Tony Blair believed the lies… well, what did you expect? Galloway, a serial litigant, sued the paper successfully for libel and the Telegraph was ordered to pay £150,000 in damages.

As I said  earlier, Moore’s article rides on the coat-tails of Kennite’s article but he also manages to kick one of his favourite hobby horses in the process: the BBC. This is from The Guardian (2 October 2003):

Moore has, in recent weeks, adopted an extreme anti-BBC stance, launching Beebwatch to note down incidents of leftwing bias noted by his readers (and himself) in the corporation’s broadcasts. It began with the Kelly affair and coincides with Black’s loathing of the organisation. Why did the line change, I ask. At the beginning the paper took a very neutral line, then suddenly it became rabidly anti-BBC. “We got it slightly wrong at the beginning. We were right, and we maintain the view, that the Kelly affair reflects very badly on the government. But I think for about a week we missed how all this was going to be used, which is to discredit the whole war, and once we’d twigged that, we hardened the line.”

Kennite, who was sacked from the BBC was soon hired by the Telegraph to write hatchet-jobs. I’m telling you, these people stick together like shit to a blanket.

UPDATE 15/6/13 @ 1546

Title changed.

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Totalitarianism and celebrating the death of Thatcher

The Lollipop Guild from The Wizard of Oz

Predictably, the scenes of celebration that greeted the news of Margaret Thatcher’s death on Monday were met with shouts of hurt and anguish by the Conservatives and their allies in the right-wing press. “It’s hateful”, “it’s disrespectful”, “Have some bloody decorum”,  cried the genuflecting faithful of the cult of St Margaret of Grantham.

But it wasn’t just the Tories who complained about the celebrations: members of the Labour party, too, urged restraint. Restraint? On an occasion like this? I think not.  To make a philosophical point: we’ll never get another chance to celebrate the death of the authoritarian-libertarian Thatcher again. This was a woman whose international friends included the ‘friendly’ dictator (according to The Daily Mail), Augusto Pinochet and the butcher of Indonesia, Suharto. A life like this should not be celebrated. On the contrary, this is the occasion to burn effigies.

Those who were the victims of Thatcher’s government – ordinary workers, the poor, the disabled, gays, lesbians, travellers, the list goes on – have every right to celebrate her demise. A safety valve has been inadvertently provided for us to let off some steam. For all those who wrongly believe that Thatcher’s death has been the only instance in history of mass celebration of the death of a public figure, let me just say that there is nothing new in this: we can see these celebrations as a form of carnivalesque that goes back to mediaeval times.  The carnival had its own rules and during these mass celebrations, the participants were subject only to the laws of the carnival. Church-led celebrations of the middle ages demanded formality, deference and obeisance to the objects of veneration. In other words, they were boring.

We don’t know if mediaeval folk celebrated the deaths of tyrannical rulers, because no record of their culture exists. We only have the official version of this period of history and it’s usually mediated to us by the likes of David Starkey.

We do not celebrate the life of Thatcher, that is the job of hagiographers, the dewy-eyed panegyrists and the chinless lickpittles in the media. We rejoice in the death of one who visited pain and suffering on many communities. This is our right as citizens. It is also the nature of carnival.

For all their meaningless rhetoric about liberty, the Conservatives are really authoritarians who are in denial.  In those totalitarian countries that they purported to have historically positioned themselves against; those in which the people aren’t even permitted to utter curses and oaths (not of fealty) to the corpse and memory of a much-hated dictator, the Tories seem to  think that anyone who does so in this country should be silenced. Such is their weakness of spirit and intellect. Such is their desire for the total control of discourse that they are actually trying to rewrite history before our very eyes! “She saved Britain”, “She ended the Cold War” are just two of the more popular myths being substituted for the materialism of history.

It’s been pointed out elsewhere that the Right didn’t hold back in celebrating the death of former Labour leader, Michael Foot. Their jubilation was no less effusive when Hugo Chavez provided a similar opportunity for them a month or so ago. Unable to fathom how much Thatcher was hated, some Tories will only concede that she was “divisive” and then, in the next breath, they will ascribe superhuman qualities to what was supposedly a human being. Breathtaking stuff. Anyone would have thought that cults of personalities are the sort of things that authoritarian leaders of totalitarian countries do, not self-described ‘free’ countries. Surely not in democratic Britain?

It’s worth noting that the death in 2006 of Thatcher’s close pal, Pinochet, was also celebrated by his opponents.  There are other examples in history where the death of a hated public figure has been greeted with celebration. For example, Thatcher’s friends should count themselves lucky they didn’t live in 12th century Constantinople.  The Late Roman (Byzantine) Emperor Andronicus I Comnenus’s two-year reign was marked by harsh and brutal laws (he had also married the 12 year old Agnes of France). Andronicus became increasingly paranoid and created a terror state in which his opponents (and anyone else) were summarily imprisoned, tortured, mutilated and executed. He also attempted to move against aristocracy, thus incurring their wrath.

In 1185,  Andronicus  was away from Constantinople on a military expedition. His loyal lieutenant, Stephen Hagiochristophorites (who actually had questionable loyalties), moved to arrest Isaac Angelos, who had previously been involved in an uprising in Nicaea. Isaac killed Hagiochristophorites and took refuge in the Hagia Sophia, from there he appealed to the masses to rise up against Andronicus. When the latter returned, he discovered that he’d been overthrown and Isaac had been proclaimed emperor. Andronicus was arrested while trying to escape and Isaac, now Isaac II Angelos, handed him over to the mob. He was tied to a post and beaten, mutilated and burned for three days before being strung up between two pillars by his ankles. Legend has it that two Latin soldiers took turns stabbing him to see who could plunge their sword the deepest into his body. He died a few days later.  Grisly stuff. By the way, Isaac was later blinded and imprisoned by his elder brother, Alexios, who was proclaimed Alexios III Angelos, who would in turn be overthrown by his nephew and so on…

So it amuses me when I see the likes of Louise Mensch whining on Twitter about people celebrating the death of Thatcher. It amuses me even more that the Right is making themselves look foolish and weak because they cannot deal with any criticism of their idol. It amuses me when I see arsekisser-in-chief, Charles Moore, claim on television that Thatcher was “Dorothy” to the Warsaw Pact’s “Wicked Witch of the East” in response to Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead rising up the download charts. It amuses me that they have no sense of humour and are only capable of laughing at those weaker than themselves – which isn’t funny. It amuses me when Thatcher’s boot-licking worshippers buy downloads of the Not Sensibles’ song, I’m In Love With Margaret Thatcher, and misread the lyrics so badly. They just don’t get satire.

Tories: they may be rich but they aren’t very bright.

Glenn Greenwald’s Guardian article is well worth a read.

Reference

Bakhtin, M., Iswolsky, H. (trans) (1984). Rabelais and His World. Bloomington: Indiana University Press


			

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