ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for July 27th, 2009

Bigotry In The Press.

with 31 comments

The New Statesman was, at one point in time, considered almost obligatory reading for anyone interested in politics or current affairs in Britain, but has suffered more recently from some internal turmoil and staffing changes.

A rather predictable article has just been published called, “Does Israel “cause” anti-Semitism?”

The author makes it very clear that he thinks antisemitism is wrong, bravo, but then proceeds with a time honoured, or time worn argument, that antisemitism is actually related to the behaviour of Israelis:

“But I do find it both tragic and ironic that the state of Israel – created ostensibly to protect Jews from across the world from hatred, prejudice and violence – through its actions today, and through its self-proclaimed role as the leader and home of world Jewry, provokes such awful anti-Semitic attacks against diaspora Jews who have nothing to do with the actions of the IDF or the policies of Netanyahu, Olmert and Sharon. “

Astute readers will remember this argument being trotted out by every bigot under the sun in various guises, for example, “Jews wouldn’t get attacked if they didn’t act as they did”, etc.

It is not a very pretty or coherent argument for what would be Britain’s premier weekly political journal.

From the comments Dave Rich of CST rightly argues:

“Let me explain some of the basic dynamics of hate crime. The people who are primarily responsible for racist hate crimes are the racists who perpetrate them; the “cause” is their bigotry and hatred for a chosen ‘other’.

Different racists respond to different stimuli: so, for instance, when Prince Harry wore a Nazi uniform a few years ago, or when Ken Livingstone was censured for his “concentration camp” comments, those events also acted as triggers for short-term surges in antisemitic incidents, but the incidents they triggered were of a different nature, and seemingly from different types of perpetrators, than the incidents triggered by the Israel/Hamas war in Gaza in January of this year.

In all cases, though, there is a very big difference between the stimulus, or trigger, and the “cause”. You would not write an article lamenting that fact that Muslim immigration “caused” the recent arson attack on the Luton Islamic Centre, or any of the other Islamophobic attacks that have been in the news recently, and rightly so. Don’t make excuses for racists, and don’t use racism as an excuse to score political points. It’s demeaning and not something the NS, of all journals, should be doing.

Most people who watched events in Gaza, even most of those who got angry about what Israel did, did not then go out and attack or abuse Jews. There is no direct cause and effect between the two. That is why CST’s reports talk of the response to events in Gaza being the trigger for incidents, rather than simply the events in Gaza themselves. “

It is a shame that a periodical, such as the New Statesman, is reduced to regurgitating bigotry, and I finally remember why I ceased buying it.

Written by modernityblog

27/07/2009 at 20:38

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