ModernityBlog

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

Archive for November 2010

Wikileaks And Its Importance.

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There is quite a disagreement over the significance of the Wikileaks’ new material and I confess I am not a Guardian reader so did not manage to absorb their take on matters, yet.

Political Betting is rather dismissive of the whole matter, suggesting that it has displaced other more important items from the political agenda, and whilst that might be true, it seems to me to be taking a rather parochial and limited view of the many connected issues.

I do not think we fully appreciate how the Internet has changed our grasp of world events, power relationships and the control of the news agenda.

As I have argued before, national governments have made a concerted effort to restrict and control the Internet and they do so not because they are concerned particularly with pornography or downloading of films.

No, one of their prime concerns is controlling the flow of information and what people know about issues. That approach applies to dictatorial states across the world, such as China, Burma and parts of the Middle East, but not exclusively so, it also happens in Western countries, just in a far more subtle form.

Governments are, by their nature, in power, very literally. They want to control things, influencing how people perceive the world, how they perceive government policies and more critically, politicians.

The Wikileaks’ material makes it all the more harder for politicians to lie, fudge issues and mislead their constituents and the wider public, which is why it matters.

Nowadays we view world events in a completely different light than we did, say 30 years ago. We can obtain information and opinions from around the world, with a few exceptions. Aided by automatic translation tools we can read foreign media and gain insights into different countries, customs and attitudes.

So in all of that, we are less dependent on governments and media groups to feed us their predetermined agendas or shape how we see the world.

That is why the Wikileaks’ release has great significance.

On top of that we must not forget history, these documents provide a real insight into the shady world of governmental dealings. They confirm what many of us had suspected, and in doing so they are important, providing solid confirmation of how governments and politicians really work, beyond the public gaze. If we truly wish to hold politicians, political leaders and our rulers to account then we should welcome the released material.

Wikileaks’ work is a way of helping us to keep tabs on politicians and understand the underlying motivations behind the public face of governmental actions, behind the bland press releases, behind the fake smiles, which is why we should welcome it.

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30/11/2010 at 19:22

In Paris.

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From the EJP:

“PARIS (EJP-AFP)—The Paris City Hall has mobilized its employees to remove wall posters making publicity for an anti-Semitic book denouncing the “Jewish mafia”.

The move followed a complaint by the National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA), a body monitoring anti-Semitic incidents in France.

According to BNVCA president Samy Ghozlan, these posters are regularly placed on wall of Paris and its suburbs since November 12.

They represent three men standing upright with the mention “The Jewish mafia, the great international predators” and feature a new book by extreme-right and anti-Semitic author, Herve Ruyssen.

The BNVCA was alerted by several of its Parisian correspondents who were shocked to discover on the walls of diverse locations in the French capital the anti-Semitic advertising posters.

On these posters one could also read: ” Racket, weapons trafficking, murder under contract, drug trafficking, money laudering, casinos and discotheques, pornography, diamond trafficking, slave trade, Third world plundering, artworks trafficking, swindle.”

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29/11/2010 at 15:40

Ben White, Bigot Or Colonialist?

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Ben White will be well known to this blog’s readers and whilst normally I try to ignore that individual, I will make an exception in this case.

Ben White has a lot of form.

But what I find worrying, in this instance, is White’s underlying thinking as Seismic Shock ably illustrates:

Last year, White wrote for Comment is Free:

” […] the Palestinian Authority is also staffed with “native” West Bank leaders for whom business interests long since trumped fighting for national liberation. Then there are also the groupings created by individuals who have a loyal power base around them.”

White here criticises huge swathes of Palestinian society in a terribly unfair manner. Also I can’t help thinking that his use of the term “native” sounds horribly colonialist.

Having told us that he understands antisemitism (which might vex Israelis), and then criticised the “natives” in the West Bank (which might vex Palestinians), we have to wonder, is Ben White really the best person to be running political campaigns about the Middle East?

The more you read White’s new site, well, it just gets more and more confusing.

[My emphasis.]

I couldn’t have put it better.

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24/11/2010 at 14:29

I Go Away For A few Days.

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I go away for a few days and look what happens, the Irish economy melts, some scroungers called William and Kate are plastered across the British papers, my email inbox is overflowing and the blog gets spammed by a semiliterate neo-Nazi.

That’s what happens when you cover the English Defence League, your blog invariably gets undeserved attention from some knucklescrapers, who occasionally start their comments this way:

“Im not a neo nazi but am decendant from an SS officer who gave me great principles for life and he and many others wer not Nazis fanatics but loved their German culture.”

It is that mindless lack of self-awareness which is so galling, and anyone that starts a sentence with “I am not a neo-Nazi, but…” obviously hasn’t got a clue, and shouldn’t be let near a blunt butter knife let alone a PC (or anything electrical).

It is a shame that such people are too stupid to read my comments policy and understand it.

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23/11/2010 at 19:11

The Western Sahara.

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Eamonn McDonagh, over at Z Word blog, has an interesting piece on the Western Sahara:

“Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony the bulk of which has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975. The Saharaui people have sought independence in a long struggle against the Moroccan authorities. In recent days there have been fresh outbreaks of violence by the Moroccan security forces against Saharauis in El Aaiún, the territory’s capital and this has led to protests by Saharaui exiles in Spain. Lluís Bassets is a senior journalist at El País and this is what he has to say about the situation today: “

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16/11/2010 at 03:56

English Defence League Attack Portsmouth Mosque.

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The pretence that the English Defence League is solely concerned with extreme Jihadist is laid to rest as their supporters attack a mosque out of the blue, as the Portmouth News report:

“Scores of demonstrators gathered outside Portsmouth’s Jami Mosque. They were protesting after a small group of Muslims – not from the city – burned poppies in London during the two minutes’ silence on Armistice Day.

The protest, led by former soldier David Tallard, congregated outside the mosque at midday and numbered about 40.

It broke for Pompey’s home game against Doncaster, and gathered again shortly after 5pm this time with about 100 taking part.

Peace protesters who had heard about the protest also gathered outside the mosque.

Shouting between the two groups then ensued with firecrackers, an egg and a golf ball being thrown into the peace campaigners.

There was a strong police presence with one man from the demonstrators being arrested after a confrontation. He has now been bailed.

A 6ft poppy had also been graffitied on the mosque the day before.

Portsmouth police commander, Chief Superintendent Nigel Hindle said: ‘The majority of those taking part in the demo’s did so peacefully however there were a number of objects thrown and we did make one arrest for a public order offence.

‘We will now be reviewing CCTV footage and collecting evidence to find those who did commit offences. People can be assured we will track those responsible down and deal with them appropriately.’

‘As a precaution following yesterday’s protests additional resources were put in place today (Sunday) as a measured response. This was to make sure the Remembrance Day service in the city passed off peacefully – which we are pleased to say it did.

‘Extra officers will continue to be present in the areas around the city’s mosques today to ensure public safety and provide reassurance to the whole community.’

The Muslim community in Portsmouth said they condemned the burning of the poppies and that they would have joined any protest, had it not been directed at the Jami Mosque.

Akf Suyeb, of the mosque, said: ‘When these people are pointing their fingers at us about this, it’s not right. ‘We condemn the people who burnt the poppies, and we do show our respect to the people who died in war.

‘After all, Indian people, Muslim people, also died during the first and second world wars. We should remember that.

‘As Muslims, we are not allowed to wear images of animals, but flowers are fine.

‘And we would have been happy to have a poppy painted on the mosque – but it was graffiti, and they should have asked our permission before painting on our building.

‘We would have absolutely joined in a protest, because the Muslim community condemns this act, but not when it is against our mosque.’

Former soldier Mr Tallard, 25, who was injured while serving in Iraq in 2004, insisted the protest was not racially motivated despite the location outside the mosque on Victoria Road South.

He said: ‘It is a busy road, and someone had already painted a poppy on the outside of the mosque. This protest has nothing to do with religion.

‘We just don’t want to see poppies being burned. It’s just not right.’

A coach-load of members of the English Defence League nationalist group made the trip to Southsea from London to join in the protest.”


So some idiots in LONDON burn some poppies and we meant to believe that EDL picked a peaceful, unconnected mosque in Portsmouth to attack?

That’s 75 miles away, something happens in London, so the EDL attack a mosque in Portsmouth…what racist knucklescrapers. The EDL are out just to attack Muslims, any Muslims, anywhere for any excuse.

They have to stopped.

Update 1: It seems that one EDLer admits causing criminal damage to the mosque. by painting graffiti on it.

Update 2: Any EDL supporters tempted to post should first read the my comment’s policy.

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15/11/2010 at 03:34

Institutionalised Racism And UCU.

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A recent letter of resignation (or 2) from the University and College Union highlights how the proposed boycott of Israelis has weakened the Trade Union movement in Britain.

Despite numerous letters and resignations UCU still doesn’t take seriously the question of its institutionalised racism, from Shalom Lappin’s resignation and those that followed, on and on and on.

As Shalom Lappin wrote:

“In my view, matters have reached the point where the UCU is no longer an effective agent of industrial democracy or a credible representative of its members in the struggle for improved working conditions in the University sector. It has allowed itself to be infected by the raw prejudice of a small group of political extremists, who are using it to pursue an appalling agenda. In these circumstances I see no alternative but to withdraw from the union. I will work against the discrimination that the boycott campaign is attempting to promote in a more efficient way than by allowing myself to be placed in the defendant’s dock by agents of bigotry in an endlessly recurring, stacked “debate” within the UCU. If the UCU ever frees itself from the malevolent grip of the boycott obsession which it has permitted to flourish in its midst and returns to its intended role as a genuine labour union, I will be delighted to return.”

It is a terrible state of affairs when a modern trade union can’t address the issue of institutionalised racism within it and forces members who resigned in protest.

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