Tag Archives: Hitler

Myths, lies and the iconography of Osama bin Laden

Here is some breaking news,

“Osama bin Laden was killed by US Navy SEALS. He was armed and was brandishing an AK-47.  A woman, believed to be one of his wives, was being used a human shield”.

There was only one thing in that statement that is true: bin Laden was killed by US Navy SEALS. The rest of it is rubbish.  Within hours of the announcement of bin Laden’s death, a photo was produced that was purported to be that of the newly-deceased Al-Qaeda leader. It was a photoshopped composite of two, possibly more, separate photos. A doctored image that had, apparently been substituted for the real image, which was allegedly “too gruesome” for sensitive Western eyes. Bullshit. We got to see the photos of the expired Saddam Hussein and his gruesome sons. What’s the problem? Aren’t humans, by nature, full of bloodlust? Isn’t that why ‘sports’ like badger-baiting and hare-coursing are still popular with some people? Because we revel in the sight of a blood-spattered being? In spite of what they say, those who go fox-hunting don’t go for the “thrill of the chase” and the stirrup cup (though it helps); they go purely for the denouement. They want to see death.

The assassination of Osama bin Laden in a house in Abbottabad in Pakistan has raised more questions than it has answered. Already, there are conspiracy theories surrounding the life and death of OBL.  Is he really still alive and living the life of luxury in Belize? Is he teaching at a school in Dar es Salaam? Or is he working in a chip shop in Batley, West Yorkshire with Elvis Presley as his manager? Or, to pose a more Baudrillardian question, did he ever exist? I’ll leave those questions for those people who listen to the paranoid ramblings of Alex Jones and Jeff Rense ;  or those who  get a buzz from reading the psychotic prose of  lizard-worrier and anti-Semite, David Icke.  By far the most important question is how this mission was carried out without the expressed prior approval of the Pakistani government. Such a mission would have been unthinkable in a country like North Korea or China, both of whom would be planning  la  revanche as I type this. Surely this hit violated every tenet of what passes for international law? Yes? No? So much for co-operation in the “War on Terror” and other abstract nouns. l’alliance: elle est cassé. Pakistan was only ever going to be a junior partner if that…but Pakistan has a nuke. Nonetheless, the Torygraph bloggers are pretty much united: most of them claim that bin Laden’s summary execution was just and that the US had every right to carry it out. Many of them also agree that this event will spawn a million and one conspiracy theories, which they will pin on ‘leftists’. Some of them, like the Hon Tobes, have produced spectacular drivel like this,

If bin Laden had been captured and put on trial, thousands of people would have died at the hands of his terrorist sympathisers. No doubt there will be reprisals in any event, but the terrorist response would have been far greater if bin Laden had been taken alive.

Hmmm, yes, Tobes. The real truth is that The Network (Al-Qaeda to you and me) is in decline. They have had no influence on the events that have taken place during the so-called and ongoing, “Arab Spring”.  The suggestion put about by Torygraph bloggers and other self-appointed sages of the Right is that bin Laden’s execution will serve as a bookend. But you’d have to be an idiot to believe that. Tobe’s stablemate, the LMer Brendan O’Neill, on the other hand, comes across like a tuppence ha’penny moral philosopher , O’Neill opines,

And third, these complainers don’t seem to realise that the stakes in war are far higher than they are in law. War is a matter of life and death. It touches upon highly existential issues. It is generally considered acceptable in a war to kill someone whom you believe to be a threat to you, your people or your way of life.

On the same page, gobshite serial commenter and Islamo-obsessive, “danoconnor” chips in like a skipping CD,

The Left feels it has an affinity with Islam because the Left feels it has an affinity with everyone–except its own culture .

The Left thinks that all religions have a few nutters , but don’t worry we’ll take care of that when we have defeated the real enemy –the West .

“danoconnor” is a two-trick pony. He only does Islam and the “Left”. Aren’t you glad you don’t have to drink with him?

Many bloggers and commentators were quick to draw parallels with the Nuremberg War Trials and an imagined war crimes trial of OBL.  But it’s lazy stuff that is born of enfeebled minds. It was inevitable that the Nazis would get dragged into this, since the Nazis have become wholly symbolic of pure, undiluted  evil. Before the Nazis came along, Satan incarnate came in the shape of Kaiser Wilhelm and before him, the squat figure of Napoleon Bonaparte.  Will bin Laden supersede Hitler as the embodiment of evil? More than likely. Make no mistake, OBL is the bogeyman for the 21st century. He is, in death as he was in life, a mythologized creature of  spectacular invention: paradoxically, he is at once a dehumanized human being and a monster of gargantuan proportions. He takes his place in the genealogy of unspeakable evil – he is the bastard son of  Adolf Schicklegruber. A sort of bastard’s bastard.

The issue of bin Laden’s “burial at sea” is also a bone of contention. The US says that it dumped OBL’s bullet-riddled corpse into the briny because they “didn’t want his grave to become a site of pilgrimage”. Of course this ignores the fact that the Abbottabad compound in which he was slain could easily become a shrine, complete with a souvenir shop selling T-Shirts, mugs and key-rings with OBL’s visage gracing each one.

One thing that was revealing about the White House’s Jay Carney’s press briefing yesterday, was the way he unconsciously divulged the manner of bin Laden’s death. He was shot in the face, though he corrected himself and said “head”.

The mafia and others shoot people in the face so that the deceased’s relatives can’t have an open coffin at the funeral. But OBL was chucked into the deep…. Now there’s something to think about.

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The new crusaderism?

The crusader mentality never went away. By ‘crusader’ I am not suggesting that there is necessarily an active desire on the part of Islamophobes to reconquer the Holy Land. No. What I am talking about is the way in which certain politicians, journalists and others seek to produce scare stories for popular consumption; these are scare stories that have a particular historical precedent. These myths have been systematically inserted into public conversations on Islam for the last 9 years. But stories, myths and tropes are only part of it. The English Defence League (EDL) has  articulated its discourses around the alleged ‘Islamification of the country’ and have formed themselves into a sort of mass lynch mob ready to crush anyone who dares to get in its way.  We see countries like France banning the burqa and politicians like Geert Wilders declaring the Koran to be ‘evil’.

Given the Vatican’s blatant refusal to come clean on the child abuse scandals that continue to dog it, Wilders and others have deliberately blinded themselves to the reality that all mass religions from Catholicism to Hinduism have a great deal of explaining to do vis a vis their methods of social control and the secrets that they keep. No mass religion is free from these sorts of scandals but in the Catholic church such abuse was institutionalized; the perpetrators shielded from investigation by the current Pope. Yet not a word about this from the likes of UKIP, Wilders or the EDL.

The Islamophobia we are currently witnessing has its roots in events that took place over 1000 years ago: the Crusades. While many Muslims have pointed out this fact to their detractors, Western neo-conservative journalists like Douglas Murray have sidestepped the issue. But they can do this no more. The current opposition to Islam is part of this new crusaderist mentality. The comments on this blog sum up this mentality. The issue of the building of a mosque called park51 (in fact a community centre) near  ‘Ground Zero’ has got American right-wingers foaming at the mouth. Of course, they conveniently and deliberately ignore the fact that Muslims were killed on 9 September 2001 along with Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Hindus and others. Death doesn’t discriminate.

To ensure their opinions found purchase in the public mind, the neo-cons coined a word for Islamist fanatics: Islamofascist. The word is a portmanteau of  ‘Islam’ and ‘fascist’ and is designed to conjure up images of Hitler and the Nazis, who are a sort of touchstone of evil – true demons. Whenever a new enemy comes along, it is only a matter of time before he is compared to Hitler. Gamal Abdel Nasser found himself labelled as “another Hitler” by British Prime Minister, Anthony Eden during the Suez Crisis of 1956.  In truth Nasser wasn’t even a Mussolini yet this comparison found favour with diehard militarists, right-wingers and Daily Mail readers.  It was, after all, only 11 years since the end of WWII and memories were of Hitler were still fresh in the mind.  In the 19th century, Napoleon Bonaparte was used in a similar way. Parents would threaten their children by telling that ‘Boney’ would ‘get them’ if they didn’t go to sleep. An effective weapon to keep children in line for sure but what about the adults?

The title of Glenn Beck’s programme has the words “Jihad. Mein Kampf” as if to suggest that the fundamentalists constitute a form of Nazism, complete with its own uniforms and regalia. Somehow I doubt Beck has ever read Mein Kampf...

Funnily enough, Beck has a disclaimer: “I am not a journalist”. That’s all right then. He also ‘reminds’ us of how these fanatics use the “weapon of propaganda”. A bit like Fox News?

Christopher Hitchens has  declined the credit for the appearance the word Islamofascism – that’s big of him. The Popinjay says

The term Islamofascism was first used in 1990 in Britain’s Independent newspaper by Scottish writer Malise Ruthven, who was writing about the way in which traditional Arab dictatorships used religious appeals in order to stay in power.

Is that so? That still doesn’t make it right. How would one define Francoist Spain? As Christofascist? We know that Franco was a staunch Roman Catholic and placed the church at the heart of the state yet Franco wasn’t fascist; he sympathized with the fascists and the Nazis. He allied himself with the Spanish Falange, though did not join the Falange until the early 1960’s. In his attempt to explain away the term, Hitchens doubles back on himself,

Technically, no form of Islam preaches racial superiority or proposes a master race. But in practice, Islamic fanatics operate a fascistic concept of the “pure” and the “exclusive” over the unclean and the kufar or profane.

Clear as mud, but that still doesn’t make them ‘fascist’, my former Trotskyite friend; it makes them either religious fundamentalists or religious purists; reactionary conservatives to be precise – not unlike the Generalissimo himself.  David Horowitz, another former Trotskyite, came up with the idea of an Islamofascism Awareness Week (sic). Steven Schwartz of the Murdoch-owned Weekly Bog Standard claims that

I was, as I will explain, the first Westerner to use the neologism in this context.

Good for you, Steve. Schwartz does his best to defend the term, going so far as to offer badly drawn connections between the use of state-sanctioned violence and the activities of Al Qaeda to make his somewhat tenuous point.

Fascism was paramilitary; indeed, the Italian and German military elites were reluctant to accept the fascist parties’ ideological monopoly. Al Qaeda and Hezbollah are both paramilitary.

There is a major difference between the two: Islamic fundamentalists do not roam the streets looking for non-believers to beat up nor do they attack political meetings. Both Hitler and Mussolini used gangs of thugs to smash printing presses and offices of newspapers that opposed them. I see none of this in the cities of the so-called West. Where is the Al-Qaeda equivalent of the squadristi or the Sturmabteilung? They are nowhere to be seen. There are no Islamic fundamentalist equivalents of the Blackshirts, Brownshirts or any other colour of shirt…though the likes of Hitchens would have us believe that these religious fanatics have formed themselves into the kinds of paramilitary units that operated in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

A lot of the mutterings and op-ed pieces on ‘Islamofascism’ are redolent of the rantings of the evidently mad Peter the Hermit who propagated the will of Pope Urban II by claiming Muslims had committed a variety of unspeakable acts against Christian pilgrims. Never mind that Christians had, for centuries, subjected Jews to the very thing that they were now accusing Muslims of – the Hermit wasn’t interested as he was most probably a raving anti-Semite – like most Christians of the period.  It was partly because of Peter’s efforts that the Peasants Crusade attracted so many volunteers (Urban II had declared that anyone who took the cross would be given a remission from all sins. A very tempting offer to the superstitious medieval mind). Things haven’t changed  great deal since 1096, we may have more advanced technology but our attitudes and our way of thinking is, more often than not, rooted in the past. It is easy to accuse ‘Islamic extremists’  or Islam itself of being mired in the medieval period but our thinking, which we like to think of as ‘enlightened’ is mired in exactly the same place, if not an earlier time. This is particularly the case when one hears  Douglas Murray talk about the ‘creeping Islamicization of Europe’. These ‘warnings’ are medieval in their style, tone and delivery.

Islam is often accused by western commentators of treating women as second class citizens. What these commentators ignore is the fact that women, particularly in this country and elsewhere, are paid less than men and are objectified in the media. Feminine traits are ridiculed, sidelined and devalued, while masculine ones such as war-making are celebrated.  In the home, women do all, if not most of the work while the men do as little as possible.  Then there’s the issue of marital rape, where the husband believes it to be his conjugal right to violate his wife if he so chooses – a pater familias for our time? Perhaps.  In the light of this,  how are women freer in the west than in Muslim countries? They aren’t and it is a simple matter of cultural relativism that prevents the Islamophobes from seeing the truth. The Patriarchy is near-universal and doesn’t make distinctions between religions.

The way in which the word ‘Islamofascist’ has been used reminds us of how the western political pundits saw Saddam Hussein: as a new Hitler. The construction of demons seems to rest on the last great demon of our recent history. This laziness in thinking exists for a purpose: to convince the gullible and the illiterate that Hitler had been reincarnated in the body of a contemporary figure and, as such, had to be stopped. In the 19th century, the bogeyman was Napoleon Bonaparte whose name was used to keep children in line if they did not say their prayers or go to sleep when told to do so. “Boney will come and get you”!

I am not a Muslim. In fact I do not belong to any religion, mass or otherwise. These mass religions are not concerned with spirituality, rather, their focus is on blind faith and submission. What they all have in common is their vertical structures of power, where an educated (educated in the religious sense) elite controls all aspects of the spiritual as well as the temporal (your body and its needs). It is only The Religious Society of Friends – The Quakers – who have a horizontal power structure.

Finally, here’s a blog from Damian Thompson in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph. The title is interesting and demonstrates how Islamophobia has percolated through each level of our society. The misguided belief that Muslims are being ‘pandered’ to for the sake of ‘multiculturalism’ has become a form of universal truth among Daily Mail readers, who were never predisposed to Others of any creed or colour.

In 1977, The Jam declared that “This is the modern world”! Today I would ask “Is this the modern world”? It doesn’t look like it.

UPDATE:

Here’s a wind up blog from Andrew Gilligan. If this kind of article was written about Jews and synagogues, there would be trouble. Yet, because it involves Muslims and a mosque that was, allegedly the place where various bombers worshipped, it is ‘fair game’. In this blog, Sunny Hundal of LiberalConspiracy asks “Why is Gilligan still taken seriously”? Good question.

Gilligan wrote an earlier blog about an “Islamist press release” from The Guardian.  For Gilligan a small group of cranks becomes a mass movement,

Perhaps it’s because Mr Ali is a senior official of the fundamentalist Islamic Forum of Europe – which works, in its own words, to create an Islamic state under sharia law in Europe. The IFE and the MSF share the same offices.

I won’t happen anymore than I am likely to become President of the United States. Gilligan lives in a fantasy world that is populated by fools, ignoramuses and sockpuppets.

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Cheap tricks and smears. Welcome to the world of Dan Hannan

Hannan’s repeating the lie that the BNP is a ‘left wing’ party again in his blog. Only this time, he is involved in a spat with fellow Telegraph blogger, Damian Thompson. who says,

I really am bored of Right-wing Tories like my old mate Dan Hannan insisting that the British National Party is “far Left”. It isn’t. It’s on the far Right. Sure, the BNP’s economic policies reflect a version of socialism; it would create a monstrously intrusive, high-spending state not unlike those on the totalitarian Left. But, for crying out loud, let’s use some common sense here. Political parties are defined not just by their economic manifestos but also by their culture. And the culture of the BNP expresses a nationalist racism that is almost identical to that of European parties that everyone identifies as far Right, even if they are less statist and protectionist. This culture is a long way removed from Dan’s free market Whiggery; but then Dan is not on the far Right, just as (say) Will Hutton is not on the far Left and has almost nothing in common with the Socialist Workers’ Party. Calling the BNP Left-wing is like calling the Soviet apparatus Right-wing, as so many libertarian Lefties did in the 1970s. It’s a debating society trick, nothing more.

Quite right, Damian, quite right….it’s not only a debating society trick, it’s a cheap trick; a cheap and nasty trick.

Mad Dan’s headline reads “There’s nothing Right-wing about the BNP – except in the BBC sense of baddie”. I think that title reveals more about the man than he cares to admit.

Here, he falls back on a rather shaky piece of logic

The BNP, like all fascist movements, emerged from the revolutionary Left. It dislikes free enterprise, hates the rich and resents the monarchy. It markets itself as “the Labour Party your parents voted for” and its last manifesto promised “to give workers a stake in the success and prosperity of the enterprises whose profits their labour creates by encouraging worker shareholder and co-operative schemes”. Its support comes overwhelmingly from ex-Labour voters.

Wrong. The BNP was formed as a splinter group from the National Front whose precursor was Mosley’s British Union of Fascists. So what does this prove? Nothing whatsoever. Did Mussolini’s fascists emerge from the revolutionary left? No,  they did not. Mussolini may have, at one time, been a socialist but he was soon expelled for supporting WWI. he soon followed the lead of irredentist,  Gabriele d’Annunzio (who was a darling of the Futurists). Being expelled from a socialist party doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have taken socialism with you to forge into a new dynamic party of fascists. Yet, this is what Mad Dan assumes. Quite frankly, I don’t know what history this man has been reading but it is all wrong. Appealing to the working classes is pretty common for fashos, but actively incorporating them into the party’s leadership structure is something quite different. No far-right party has ever done this. In this way, the far-right shares something in common with the Tories. Remember the Primrose League? It was an attempt by the Tories to attract working class support in the 1880’s. But the working class never found themselves actually leading the League’s  local branches; they remained at the bottom of the hierarchy.

Then there are the Nazis:  Hitler was not and never was, a socialist.  While some of the Nazis may have, at one time, been socialists, they were either expelled or left the party of their own accord. Hitler was totally opposed to socialism from the outset. How on earth could he and his party be ‘left-wing’ when they were opposed to trade unions?

Hannan then quotes FA Hayek. This is a very bad move because Hayek isn’t exactly neutral in his ‘analysis’ of socialism; he wants to tie it to fascism and in so doing ignores the corporatist nature of fascism/Nazism in order to score a political point. The defence of Hayek appears to rest on a single premise: Hayek lived in Austria during the Dolfuss regime.  For Hannan, it is as if Hayek exists in some kind of ideological vacuum.

Read Hayek’s chapter on “The Socialist Roots of Nazism” in The Road to Serfdom,

No thanks, I tried Hayek and he made me sick….and he made the rest of the country sick when Thatcher adopted his philosophy.

This is pure gold,

In what sense, then, is the BNP Right-wing? Some argue that it is Right-wing to discriminate on the basis of race and nationality rather than class and income, but this would surely make Stalin, Gerry Adams, Pol Pot and Robert Mugabe very Right-wing indeed. A true Rightist believes that, other things being equal, the individual should be as free as possible from state coercion: a position equally abhorrent to socialists of the National or Leninist varieties.

When did Gerry Adams discriminate on the basis of race or even religion? You’re going to have to find some pretty solid examples, Dan; because your case is looking shakier by the minute. You do realise that there have been Protestant members of the IRA or did you think that the ‘Troubles’ was all about religion? Your take on the Right as ‘defenders of freedom’ is so risible that I can only say one thing by way of reply: Pinochet. Of course I could have said Franco or Salazar, but Pinochet was alleged to have presided over an ‘economic miracle’  that was, in part, informed by the theories of Hayek (as well as those of Friedman who was also influenced by the Austrian School).

As the blog nears its end, it becomes ever more batty. He shrieks,

No, there is only one sense in which the BNP is Right-wing, and that is the BBC sense. Our state broadcaster uses the epithet “Right-wing” to mean “disagreeable”

Do they? Is that like when “lefties” allegedly use the word “hate” when they mean “disagree”?  To be honest, I think you’re spending far too much time around Teabaggers, Dan.

One thing is clear from this blog and your blog of a couple of days ago: you don’t know your right from your left.

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