Archive for December 2010
Access to the Internet doesn’t confer intelligence, but you would like to think that those with high-speed connections to the web could at least educate themselves on the basics.
The web is a positive encyclopaedia and with a few clicks you can find out most things.
So it is all the more annoying to see a constant, almost obsessive, Internet user demonstrate major historical illiteracy, that person is Julian Assange.
Readers will remember how I am somewhat enamoured of Wikileaks, as I think that it is good for information to come out into the public domain and stimulate debate. How I find the timing of the charges against Assange too coincidental.
Nevertheless, as the story unfolds in the media you get the impression that Julian Assange is a bit of a fool, or at the very least rather naive and unworldly.
Assange’s profile on the free dating site, OkCupid.com, is indicative of someone not fully in touch with reality.
His latest comments, comparing his treatment to that of the Jews, is unbelievable, the JC has more:
“The founder of WikiLeaks has compared his treatment by the Swedish authorities seeking his extradition over sexual assault allegations to the persecution of the Jewish people in the last century.
Julian Assange, the 39-year-old Australian behind the extraordinary leaks of US diplomatic cables and documents, told The Times that he believed the allegations and the publicity surrounding them were unfounded and motivated by “a mixture of revenge, money, and police pressure.”
He said: “All sorts of abusive statements were made against the Jewish people in the 1950s and before.
“I’m not the Jewish people, but the people who believe in freedom of speech and accountability [are in the same position].”
Julian, it was considerably more than just “abusive statements”. Try searching Google with pogrom, Soviet antisemitism and mass murder.
I am lost for words.
Blogging is understandably going to be slow to non-existent for a while.
I won’t be around or near a PC for ages and might resume posting near the end of the year.
I hope all of my readers relish, their breaks (not too literally) over this coming Pagan festival, and here’s some music to enjoy:
In Britain, the elites often use understatement in English to convey their meaning or downplay a problem so the winter chaos is really just seen as a “little problem”.
International conflicts can be conveyed as “a temporary difficulty”, normally this would not be a problem but BBC News has taken it one step further.
For the BBC News, the neofascists in the EDL are “controversial”.
Instead of being racist thugs, the BBC News now calls them an “anti-Islamist group”.
Any competent journalist, or those able to access the Internet, would realise that the EDL are considerably more than a “controversial anti-Islamist group”, they are a proto-neofascist street gang, with ex-BNPers and stuffed full of neo-Nazis.
This is the appalling BBC News story.
Oh, someone hacked the EDL’s servers and their membership list is doing the rounds, along with the names of those cretins that purchased EDL merchandise.
PS: ANYONE remotely tempted to defend the EDL should read my comments policy, again.
There’s plenty of denial in Western societies concerning anti-Jewish racism.
When it does occur in the open, naked and is undeniable then various excuses are often forthcoming.
Lord Wallace, a Lib Dem peer, even went so far as to say that she was “…over-emotional, mistaken.”
We’ve heard it before with Oliver Stone and his cretinous remarks concerning Adolf Hitler.
Remember Madeleine Kirk?
““There is no such thing as the ‘Jewish race’. Yes, there is the Jewish religion, but not a Jewish people per se.
“The view that Jews have been persecuted all throughout history is one that has been fabricated in the last 100 or so years to justify the persecution of Palestinians. To paint the picture that all Jews have always had to flee persecution is just plainly inaccurate.”
“This badly-worded comment was something that I wrote in haste on Facebook at a very busy period. I’m sorry for any misunderstandings caused by what I wrote.”
Thus, the excuses have been over emotional, tired or too busy to think, whatever next?
More is the pity that such people can’t admit that racism affects their underlying thinking and these gaffs are just an unguarded moment when their racism slips out into the open.
Update 1: I am not really here, but on the Engage thread they are ably pulling apart Solomon’s racism and her non-apology.
I am very happy for any debate to take place in the comments pages below, but anyone tempted to contribute should first read my comments policy, make an effort to understand it and realise that their first post on this blog will need to be approved.
I don't implement political censorship, but I do get a lot of spam from neo-Nazis, Far Right headbangers and some pretty nasty antisemites. So I hope that readers will be understanding. MB]
A guest post by David N. Gibbs.
“I see that Marko Atilla Hoare has been busy attacking my book, First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia
(Vanderbilt University Press, 2009). His attacks have appeared on his own blog site, Greater Surbiton, as well as on Modernityblog.
In undertaking these attacks, however, Hoare has omitted important
information, which readers have a right to know: That the book
presented an extended critique of Hoare’s own publications on this
topic, and so he is not a disinterested party. To be specific, my book criticized Hoare’s work for shoddy scholarship, which included mischaracterizing the ethnic makeup of the Yugoslav National Army (p. 252), omitting information that the US sabotaged Bosnian peace talks (262), providing an inaccurate account of testimonies before the Hague tribunal (274), and neglecting evidence of Al Qaeda involvement in Bosnia (280). I understand Hoare’s anger that I have criticized his work, but he really should let readers know when he has a vested interest in a book that he is reviewing.
And Hoare’s recent attacks contain major factual errors. For example,
Hoare claims that my book “suppresses the history of Serb mass killings of Bosniaks in east Bosnia in 1992.” Wrong. Here is what my book actually says (122):
As war began [in 1992], Serb forces launched a major offensive in
northeast Bosnia, taking over a series of villages of mixed
ethnicity, and then expelling most of the non-Serb inhabitants by
force. By the end of 1992, Serb forces had overrun large portions of
Bosnia-Herzegovina, and they controlled approximately 70 percent of the whole area of the country. The process of ethnic cleansing, for
which the war became famous, had begun… The Bosnia conflict
quickly became notorious for the scale of atrocities, especially
those perpetrated by Serb forces against Muslim civilians. The
widespread practice of ethnic cleansing was often associated with
the killing of noncombatants, and also the raping of women and girls.
Thus Hoare’s claim – that I suppressed information on Serb atrocities in 1992 – is baseless. Hoare is of course entitled to criticize my book, but he is not entitled to do so on the basis of fiction.
Hoare also claims that Gibbs “hasn’t bothered to engage with the
existing literature, but simply ignored all the existing works that
undermine his thesis.” He then lists five specific authors that I
supposedly failed to cite (Michael Libal, Richard Caplan, Daniele
Corversi, Brendan Simms, and Hoare himself). Wrong again. In fact I
cited four of these authors, each several times, and also included them in the bibliography. Hoare’s own writings were cited in four separate endnotes. His claim that I have ignored these authors is thus baseless.
I am unsure whether I should be more impressed by the extravagance of
Hoare’s misstatements, or by the sloppiness of his fact checking.
And there is yet more sloppiness: Hoare writes that the research for my book entailed “regurgitating English-language sources,” previously used by others. This claim is ridiculous, a point that will be evident to anyone who glances at the extensive list of primary sources in my 26-page bibliography. Finally Hoare implies that my book relies too heavily on the writings of University of Ottawa economist Michel Chossudovsky, someone that Hoare does not like. In reality I cited Chossudovsky exactly once (out of more than a thousand separate endnotes).
As is typical of his writing, Hoare grandiosely overstates his own
accomplishments and presents himself as a leading authority on the
topic of my book; he is not. In reality, my book was a study of the
international relations of the Yugoslav wars, a topic on which Hoare
has no qualifications. He also lacks access to German-language sources, which are crucial to understanding the diplomacy of this period. And given Hoare’s numerous factual errors, the scholarly content of his work is thin.
Throughout, Hoare creates the impression that my book was an extended
apologia for Serb conduct. This is wildly inaccurate. In fact, my book extensively described Serb atrocities in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo, and noted that Serb atrocities were much larger than those undertaken by other ethnic groups. I also discussed at length the nefarious role of Slobodan Milosevic in helping to make all of this possible, a fact that again runs contrary to the impressions created in Hoare’s review.
To state my position: I have no particular sympathy or hostility toward any of the ethnic groups in the Balkans, and present the facts as objectively as possible. Such is not the case for Dr. Hoare, however, whose work is heavily slanted against the Serbs, and in favor of their adversaries, especially the Croats. In making this point, I do not reference Dr. Hoares own ethnic background or his motives, since these are irrelevant. Instead, I refer to the content of Hoare’s writings, which represent an extended exercise in ethnic partisanship.
Let us now turn to Dr. Hoare’s “style” of argumentation. One his main
techniques is to attack the motives of his opponents. He does this in
recent postings on Modernityblog, during an argument with an anonymous blogger called Asteri. Hoare attacks Asteri as “a self confessed Greek nationalist” – as if this refutes his/her arguments. The response is obvious: Even if the blogger is a Greek nationalist, why should anyone care?
The blogger’s ethnic background and politics have no bearing on whether the substantive claims are right or wrong, and Hoare’s ad hominem attacks only serve to distract. Yet, ad hominem attacks remain a staple feature of Hoare’s writing style. All of this is not the mark of the objective scholar but of the polemicist – which is exactly what Hoare really is. Hoare’s ad hominem attacks would be perfectly acceptable on the talk radio shows. But they are discrediting for someone who poses as a scholar.
Another of Dr. Hoare’s techniques is to threaten writers who might
disagree with his opinions. In a recent posting to Greater Surbiton, he boasts:
A couple of years ago I sacrificed a couple of days of my life to writing a review that cataloged the numerous falsehoods and
distortions contained in the sensationalist anti-Muslim propaganda
tracts about the Bosnian war written by Christopher Deliso and John Schindler. Since then, I have never seen either of those books cited by any reputable author. If my review contributed to this happy state of affairs, then writing it was a worthwhile use of my time.
He also states that writers who disagree with his positions are “like
lambs to the slaughter,” who will surely “sacrifice any reputations
they might have.”
It is very unusual to see a professor boast publicly – in writing no
less – that he will destroy the reputations and presumably the careers of those who dare to disagree. Note also the venomous tone of his statements. Apparently, Hoare is not interested in refuting arguments through reasoned debate, since reason has no place in his method. Instead, he destroys reputations; and he seems to do so recklessly, without regard for the facts.
Now, I am a tenured full professor and am unimpressed by his threats.
And in truth, I plan to use some of Hoare’s more hysterical accusations as a blurb for future printings of my book; it will no doubt sell copies. However, I can well imagine the chilling effect that these attacks have on younger writers, who will feel constrained by the poisonous atmosphere that Hoare has helped to create. The overall effect has been to stifle free debate, by intimidating potential debaters.
In essence, Dr. Hoare and his network of neocon friends at the Bosnian Institute and the Henry Jackson Society have designated themselves as the new Thought Police, while conducting their own little witch hunt.
Anyone who wants evidence of this witch hunt can just click on Hoare’s website, which is pretty self incriminating.
If Hoare has a sense of fair play, he will attach this reply to his
website, along with his attack on me. He will also correct his more
egregious factual errors.
David N. Gibbs
Professor of History and Government
University of Arizona “
Update 1: [From one of Santa's helpers], Dr. Hoare has replied at Greater Surbiton, in a post entitled: First Check Their Sources: On David N. Gibbs and ‘shoddy scholarship’. Here’s a small extract:
I shall deal shortly with the specific points Gibbs raises, but let us first make this clear: it is wholly untrue that Gibbs’s book has ‘presented an extended critique’ of my own publications. Anyone reading Gibbs’s book without examining carefully the endnotes would not even notice that I had been criticised at all: my name does not appear in the text itself, nor in the index. Gibbs has four trivial quibbles with me, buried in his endnotes. Gibbs does not, as he now claims, accuse me in his book of ‘shoddy scholarship’, and has made this accusation only in his subsequent reply to me. I cannot help but suspect that he has only decided I am guilty of ‘shoddy scholarship’ after reading my critique of his book.
If my own mum, dad, best friend, girlfriend or granny had reviewed my work, and come up with nothing more substantial than Gibbs’s four quibbles, I’d feel I was getting off lightly and that they were being too soft on me. If all four of his quibbles were entirely justified, I hardly think they would mark me down as a ‘shoddy scholar’. “
Many consider privatisation in Western countries to be a failed experiment of the 1980s and 1990s, yet it is the backbone of the current Tory government in Britain.
In their pursuit to sell off the family silver the Tories might well do away with the monarch.
On stamps, that is.
You can almost hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth from Neanderthal Tories and backwoodsmen as they contemplate the demise of Queen Elizabeth from British stamps, the Guardian has more on that possibility:
“The coalition is looking for a way to ensure that the Queen’s head is not removed from stamps if the Royal Mail is sold to a foreign buyer, business secretary Vince Cable said today.
Since the “penny black” went on sale in 1864, every British stamp has borne the profile of the reigning monarch. However, the government is now in talks with Buckingham palace after it was pointed out that there is no explicit guarantee that the tradition would continue if the Royal Mail is sold.
Speaking on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, Cable said: “We have thought very hard about how we protect the brand – the royal family. There is provision within the legislation to stop the abuse of it,” he said. “But now it has been pointed out that there’s nothing specifically to stop whoever runs the Royal Mail in future dropping the royal head.
“I think it is unlikely they would, because it is a very powerful brand, but we will talk to the palace about whether any further changes need to be made.”
The postal services bill to enable the sell-off gives the Queen a veto over any use of her image, but does not insist that her head is shown.”
Try as I might I can never understand the English middle classes.
I am probably somewhat at a disadvantage in understanding their attitudes and fixations, but Julian Assange’s release on conditional bail has revealed another peculiarity.
Assange is staying at the Manor house of one of his backers, Captain Vaughan Smith.
Smith is the founder of the Frontline, a journalist club, and presumably not short of a penny or two, as he is standing surety with others for Julian Assange, yet the Sydney morning Herald reports that Captain Smith will be charging his guest during the stay:
“Ellingham Hall, he told the court yesterday, was a perfect location for Mr Assange as it was around a mile away from the nearest police station.
“It’s a short distance on a bicycle. I can cycle it in about 15 minutes,” the Guardian reported Captain Smith as saying.
“It’s an environment where he would be surrounded. We have members of staff. My parents live in proximity as well. My father was a Queen’s Messenger and a colonel in the Grenadier Guards.”
The manor has been in the Smith family for 225 years and was previously owned by the Johnsons, who the Smiths married into, Captain Smith told the Guardian before the court hearing.
“Some of the buildings are even older. On the walls are paintings of the people who bred me,” he said. “My grandfather liked shooting and I’m partial to it myself.”
Paying guests at the large estate can spend their days shooting pheasants and partridges and dine on the produce grown in an organic farm on the grounds.
Mr Assange would also value the privacy of the large estate. The nearest train station is Diss, the Guardian reports, while the nearest city, Norwich, is a half-an-hour drive away.
But there’s a catch. Captain Smith says the Australian has to pay for his stay at Ellingham Hall, and at starting rates of £10, it might burn a fairly big hole in his pocket. “
How true that is I can’t say, but it seems strange to charge a house guest, or at least it does to me.
What peculiar middle-class customs they have in Norfolk?
As if we needed further confirmation of Mel Gibson’s nauseating views, Winona Ryder recalls an encounter with him:
“”I remember, like, fifteen years ago, I was at one of those big Hollywood parties. And he was really drunk. I was with my friend, who’s gay. He made a really horrible gay joke. And somehow it came up that I was Jewish. He said something about ‘oven dodgers,’ but I didn’t get it. I’d never heard that before. It was just this weird, weird moment. I was like, ‘He’s anti-Semitic and he’s homophobic.’ No one believed me!”
The debate on Wikileaks has shifted somewhat, and I think that is not useful, as from my cursory reading there is plenty of excellent material.
I can well imagine that the photo with Julian Assange is staged, but that does not excuse his association with this well-known racist.
I would assume that Shamir wanted to engineer himself into a position of power, disseminating Wikileaks material as he chose and probably pulled the wool over a slightly naive Assange. However, that is no excuse.
Wikileaks should release a statement disassociating themselves from Israel Shamir and his associates.
Update 1: Snoopy has done a far superior post on this topic:
“Whatever you can say about Assange, he certainly captured the attention of the world lately, dividing the audience into haters and admirers. No one remained indifferent, for a wide variety of reasons. It could be said – and I tend to accept the view expressed by Francis Sedgemore – that Assange and his team started something that is far beyond the related scandals and dirt and is of extreme importance to the journalism and politics of this century.
Assange methods and Assange personal habits, though, may undermine the possible good that could come out of the whole endeavor. Enough is said and written about the way Assange published hundreds of documents that endangered people. A lot is written about his persona, so there is no need to repeat all this stuff. WikiLeaks could certainly do with a more sensible leader.”
Update 2: The JC has more on Israel Shamir/Jöran Jermas/Adam Ermash.
In the 21st century we are increasingly jaded. We think we seen it all, every weird video, every crime, every shooting, nearly every atrocity and certainly all of the stupidly thuggish actions that the police can take.
Yet they have surpassed themselves.
Four big and extremely fit policemen tackled a wheelchair user.
Yes, that’s correct, FOUR policemen.
Precisely what crime the wheelchair user committed is unclear, and the aggressive interviewer on BBC news shows no sympathy for the plight of the wheelchair user.
Had the wheelchair user had an axe, or a machine gun you might have understood a sense of urgency, but all he had was his hands on the wheels, and as far as I can see was not in any way a threat to the police.
However, it is fairly clear that the Cameron government have let the police off their leash, so be you able-bodied, a wheelchair user, or blind I will bet that you will find nothing but a size 10 boot coming your way, if you decide to oppose the policies of the Tory government.
Update 1: Here’s Jody McIntyre explaining things in the Indy:
“Adding insult to injury is The Daily Mail, which found it appropriate to suggest I’m faking my disability and am mentally inept when it comes to making decisions about my actions. Highlighting a somewhat backwards attitude towards disabled people and their place in society, that over 500 people have already complained about Richard Littlejohn’s depiction of me as Andy from Little Britain (I don’t wear vests for a start), shows whose side the public are on when it comes to what’s acceptable where mocking disability is concerned.”
Update 2: Marko has more on the student that was attacked by the police and the Daily Mail.
Update 3: Jody Mcintyre’s blog is here.
Update 3: CiF Watch strays into the territory of political vitriol and character attacks, all completely irrelevant to the issue of Jody McIntyre’s appalling treatment by four big police officers.
I can’t help wondering if he had held different views, would the attack upon him, as a wheelchair user, instead be condemned?
It takes a certain moral turpitude not to see his manhandling by the police as wrong, it takes an entrenched ideologue to want to use that against a disabled person.
I can only imagine that *if* Jody had been blind then the excuse would have been that his labrador dog was about to attack some riot police, or some such nonsense.
That’s the level of this mindless maliciousness.
Update 4: Littlejohn’s rant against Jody McIntyre produce a reaction:
“The Press Complaints Commission said that they have so far received more than 500 complaints from members of the public, but have yet to make a decision on whether to launch a formal investigation.”
Update 5: I don’t often agree with Sunny Hundal, but his post, Littlejohn & Tories attack Jody McIntyre, and the comments below it make some very good points, particularly Carole-Anne Melia’s:
“As a wheelchair user myself, I’m not surprised to see Littlejohn’s cartoon. For people like me it is part of everyday life to come across such attitudes. I’m forever being treated as having ‘Learning difficulties’ or being shouted at because being in a wheelchair apparently makes you deaf (news to me). The point is that we as disabled people have just as much right to protest as everyone else, though I might not agree with everything that a small minority of protestors got up, but Jody had just as much right to be there. The point is the police dragged a disabled person out of their wheelchair, they had no idea what damage that could have done to him. There was other ways the police could have got him moved, for them it was an easy option. I can walk a bit like Jody but if I was dragged from a wheelchair like that I would have been in hospital with increased damage to my spine. Thank god this didn’t happen to Jody with the what the spineless police did to him.”
Update 6: More evidence is forthcoming, slightly better picture, about 01:16 you can see him being pushed along, then when the camera returns how he’s tossed out of the wheelchair and dragged across the road by the police:
Update 7: This slide show shows how he was pulled about by the police.
Update 8: Pickled Politics has posted on this issue as well, Now Jody McIntyre is being attacked for his pro-Palestinian views.
Update 9: I posed a few questions at Pickled Politics draw out the issues:
1. For those who are critical of Jody McIntyre, would you hold a different view, if Jodie McIntyre held different opinions? In other words, do you view his treatment as acceptable because you disagree with his political views?
2. Do you think it is acceptable for four big and burly policemen to manhandle a wheelchair user in that way?
3. Alternatively, would you think it is acceptable for those four policeman to have manhandled an elderly pensioner in such a fashion?
4. Finally, do you feel that wheelchair users should stay at home and not venture out, just in case ?
I would welcome some engagement with those particular points.
Update 10: Journalism.co.uk has a piece on the Beeb interview:
“An interview on the BBC News channel with Jody McIntyre, the student protestor who was allegedly pulled from his wheelchair during the student demonstrations, has received a “considerable” number of complaints, controller of the channel Kevin Bakhurst said on the BBC Editors blog yesterday.”
If your comment was inadvertently stuck in the moderation queue I apologise, just got back and normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, here’s some music:
I am away from a PC for a few days so here are some useful links and discussions on Wikileaks.
Huff Post’s rolling commentary, which isn’t too bad.
The Guardian’s WikiLeaks US embassy cables site is well worth a read.
WikiLeaks Central too.
If readers come across any other useful sites or links please leave a comment below.
Marko has a post on the Police’s treatment of demonstrators in London last night and he knows who is to blame:
“At one level, I was grateful it was the UK rather than, say, Italy or Russia, as individual officers showed a lot of discipline and restraint; things would have been a lot worse if individual officers had lashed out indiscriminately on their own initiative, as police in such circumstances have been known to do. But that is a tribute to the ordinary policeman – not the strategy of the police command, which put its own officers in harm’s way.
The police strategy did not serve to protect people or property from violence; on the contrary. Although there was a minority among the demonstrators that was actively seeking violence, the police strategy of keeping people ketted for hours in the cold, and preventing them from going home, appeared guaranteed to ensure that a riot would take place, and that even some demonstrators who hadn’t been out for trouble would be drawn into it. The strategy of not only keeping people kettled, but then inserting a phalanx of armed police into the kettle was sheer lunacy – what did they think would happen ? The moderate, peaceful majority was lumped together with the minority and treated as dangerous deviants, instead of what they were – citizens exercising their democratic right to protest. Those of us who wanted to move to the second demonstration were prevented from doing so – a violation of the right of freedom of assembly.”
I suspect the Police or their political masters, Cameron and Co, don’t really care about freedom of assembly or other freedoms.
The politicians who call the shots are preoccupied with pushing their policies through and anything else is a distraction. They will, naturally, do lipservice but they probably view anyone who is not a Tory or doesn’t vote Tory as a subversive.
My bet is that Cameron’s government will go down in history as one of the most ideologically bent ones, even exceeding what Thatcher did. They will use the full force of the State against anyone that actively opposes them and we would be naive to assume otherwise.
This is the shape of things to come in Britain.
Update 1: A young student was violently attacked by a policeman wielding a truncheon, AP reports:
“A student was left unconscious with bleeding on the brain after a police officer hit him on the head with a truncheon during the tuition fee protests in central London, his mother said.
Alfie Meadows, 20, a philosophy student at Middlesex University, was struck as he tried to leave the area outside Westminster Abbey during Thursday night’s demonstrations, his mother said.
After falling unconscious on the way to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, the second-year undergraduate underwent a three-hour operation for bleeding on the brain.
Susan Meadows, 55, an English literature lecturer at Roehampton University, said: “He was hit on the head by a police truncheon. He said it was the hugest blow he ever felt in his life.
“The surface wound wasn’t very big but three hours after the blow, he suffered bleeding to the brain. He survived the operation and he’s in the recovery room.”
Mr Meadows and his friends tried to leave the area where protesters were being held in a police “kettling” operation when he suffered a blow to the head.”
It is interesting to see how the news agenda has moved away from the contents of the Wikileaks material to discussing cyber-attacks.
Instead of pondering what Wikileaks’ releases tells us about misrule, political complacency and the stupidity of the political classes we are debating what happened with Julian Assange.
Whilst his arrest is important it is also a convenient distraction from the meat of the issue, Cablegate.
Along with the cyber-attacks it is a diversion from what we should be concentrating on, what the Cablegate material tells us, what political issues does it illuminate.
That’s what we should be directing our gaze towards.