Tag Archives: “ISIS”

Corbyn And The Media (Part 3)

Yesterday, the mass media was agog at the spectacle of Peter Tatchell disrupting Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to mark the occasion of the United Nations general assembly signing the declaration on human rights in 1948. Tatchell, a man whose career since 1983 has been characterized by its use of stunts, claims he was highlighting Corbyn’s silence on Russian bombing of Aleppo. Leaving aside the lack of objectivity in news coverage of the Syrian conflict, Tatchell’s choice of moment for his latest stunt could not have been better timed.  He knew that this would provide excuse for the mainstream media to launch another round of attacks on the beleaguered Labour leader.  And attack him they did.  The Guardian even took the time to remind us that St Tony had “condemned” Corbyn over the bombing of Syria. This is the man whose eagerness to bomb Iraq has led directly to the current conflicts in the Middle East. This is the man whose supporters in the Commons voted to bomb Syria.  One of those MPs was Hilary Benn, who was applauded by the Tories for his “barnstorming speech” and grandstanding ignorance of the historical actualité.

It is no surprise that news providers covered the Tatchell stunt but not the actual event at which Corbyn was speaking.  The media created its narrative through the magic of digital video editing, in which only those moments of Tatchell’s stunt were broadcast. However, The Cat has seen additional footage that tells a rather different story:  it is one in which Corybn, though under attack, gives a clam and measured response to Tatchell.  He wasn’t manhandled or harangued.  The Tory press would have loved that.  Can you imagine what would have happened if he’d pitched up to a UKIP meeting and had done the same thing? Can you imagine what would have happened if he’d done that when Blair was leader?

So what about Tatchell’s point?  Has Corbyn done enough to condemn Russian bombing?  As always, it depends on who’s asking the question.   If the BBC, ITV, Sky or Tatchell himself is asking the question, then it comes with the added demand that if Corbyn is ‘guilty’ in their eyes, then he should do the decent thing by donning sackcloth and sleeping with a stone for a pillow.  Nothing less will do.  This is, at least, the subtext of Andrew Neil’s Twitter exchange with former Labour MP, Chris Williamson.  Click on the images to access the conversation.

Neil is joined by what The Cat assumes are a number of Labour right-wingers (the names are real giveaways) and Tories,  all of whom are flatulent with their own sense of self-importance and entitlement.

For his part, Tatchell is continuing to churn out his excuses.

That’s great, Peter, but you’ve chosen the wrong politician to attack.  That reminds me, for a gay man, you don’t seem that bothered by Daesh, who continue to throw gay men from tall buildings.  These are the people whom the mass media refers to as “the rebels”, while next door in Iraq, they’re called ‘Daesh’.  Funny that.

What about Corbyn’s “silence” over Russian bombing?  Well, Corbyn has condemned all sides in the conflict.  I mean, aren’t all sides guilty of atrocities?  Yet this is not enough for Andrew Neil, Peter Tatchell or our notionally free press. The hidden discourse to their claims is that Corbyn quietly supports ISIS/IS/ISIL/Daesh.  But there is nothing on record to even remotely suggest that he does.  This statement issued in the aftermath of the Paris attacks earlier this year attacks all parties involved in the conflict.

This article from Left Foot Forward published in October, repeats the demand that Corbyn “must break his silence on Assad and Russian bombings”.  These things are gifts to the Tory press, the Tory Party and the Labour Right.  But whatever Corbyn does or doesn’t say, you can be assured that a story will be assembled from a lot hearsay, speculation and lobby tittle-tattle.

Remember, the ‘news’ is just a collection of stories that have a beginning, middle and end.  In stories, simplistic themes of good versus evil are crucial in driving the narrative’s plot.  If you’re looking for impartiality or objectivity in the news, forget it.  Go and read some critical theory instead.

 

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Filed under Ideologies, Journalism, Media, propaganda

Are You Horrified Enough Yet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you horrified enough yet?

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

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Filed under Media, Middle East, propaganda

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Caliph? Not Me.

Today, the mainstream news media is beside itself with the revelation that ISIS (a western media construction) has declared a caliphate in the territory they hold in Iraq. So what?

For ages I’ve read right-wing commentaries that concern themselves with the possible declaration of a caliphate. In all cases, the commentaries have been melodramatic to the point of hysteria. The ever-paranoid Daniel Pipes claims it’s “what the terrorists want”. Really? How does he know that? He doesn’t. Yet, Andrew Gilligan regards Pipes as some kind of authority. The fool.

The Roman Catholic church has a pope and an entire city-state.

The Greek and Eastern Orthodox churches have their patriarchs. The Greek Orthodox Patriarch is still called “The Patriarch of Constantinople”, even though the name of the city was changed to Istanbul many years ago.

So what’s the big deal?

The neo-cons and their friends would have us all believe that the declaration of a caliphate is something non-Muslims should fear. Yet, the Ottoman Empire declared itself a caliphate with the Ottoman Sultan as its caliph. The Ottomans were Sunni Muslims, which meant that Shia Muslims rejected the caliphate. Many countries with large Muslim populations, like Malaysia and Indonesia, didn’t recognise the Ottoman Empire’s claim. Interestingly, the West never got into a lather about the Ottoman Caliphate, it was accepted without question or anxiety. Britain and France actually fought on behalf of the fatally weakened Ottoman Empire during the Crimean War to prevent the Russian Empire from seizing territories that had flaked off the larger empire. In fact Britain took advantage of the Ottoman Empire’s weakness and cut deals with the Emir of Kuwait in the 1890s.

So who’s afraid of the big bad caliph? Not me.

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Filed under Iraq, Middle East, World