It’s not just Corbyn lavishing praise on violent thugs. It’s a Great British political tradition.

September 13, 2015

Long before the cheers from the Labour faithful rang out upon learning of Jeremy Corbyn’s fast rise to the leadership of the Party, a bizarre fight for a moral high ground emerged between Labour’s left, and Labour’s centrists, both of whom absolutely can not claim to occupy it in any sense.

Jeremy Corbyn, the new Labour leader, genuinely referred to Hamas – one of the most anti-Semitic, homophobic, theocratic groups of thugs on the planet – as ‘dedicated to social justice‘. It wasn’t taken out of context, it wasn’t an evil ‘tabloid’ press that made it up. He said it. No amount of bad excuses can change that declaration. A Hamas that emerged out of the links between 20th century European Nazism, and the Muslim Brotherhood, that includes Nazi propaganda in its charter, and seeks to establish an IS-like caliphate in the entire region, hates Jews, promotes homophobia, cannot be referred to as ‘dedicated to social justice’ by anyone claiming to be a liberal, or a defender of human rights. I suspect if David Cameron had announced that his ‘friends’ in the KKK were ‘dedicated to social justice’, the Corbyn-left would have a meltdown. Naturally, and rightly, Labour’s centrists picked up on this and ran with it. As did we liberals (including myself). But here’s the problem; whilst those New Labourites indeed share my condemnation of Corbyn’s excusing religious fascists, they stayed eerily silent when Blair himself said of the passing of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia:

“I am very sad indeed to hear of the passing of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah. I knew him well and admired him greatly.”

– We are told that a Labour Leader lavishing grotesque praise on Hamas is an unthinkable crime, whilst in the same sentence, we hear that Labour should seek to listen to and emulate a Labour Leader who lavished grotesque praise on the King of Saudi Arabia.

Blair then went on to praise Abdullah for his dedication to interfaith relations. So dedicated was he, that the public practice of non-Islamic religions is strictly forbidden, atheism is now a ‘terrorist’ idea, and in 2009, the ‘religious police’ created an ‘anti-witchcraft’ team that included the beheading of Mustafa Ibrahim for ‘sorcery’. This man was a monster. But it’s unsurprising that Labour’s centre-left stayed silent when Blair lavished sycophantic praise upon Abdullah, given that ten years earlier they made not a peep when Blair signed an extension to the al-Yamamah arms deal originally forged by Thatcher and King Fahd, that exchanged Eurofighter Typhoons, for oil. A year later, the Saudi’s threatened to cut ties with the UK, if an investigation into fraud relating to the deal. Of course, the investigation was dropped. When it came to the original deal back in 1985, Thatcher said that she was indeed:

“…a great admirer of Saudi Arabia and the leadership of King Fahd.”

Along with his love for Abdullah, Blair wrote a friendly letter to Colonel Gaddafi in 2007, apologising for the UK failing to deport two Islamists, finishing the letter in a very Corbyn-esque ‘friends in Hamas’ way:

“Best wishes yours ever, Tony”

– This was a few years prior to Blair sharing publicity tips with Nursultan Nazarbayev, a man currently on a mission to close down as many dissenting media voices in Kazakhstan as possible. But it isn’t just the Blairites who are walking the hypocrisy tightrope recently. Today, the Tories released this image:

– Whilst Corbyn can absolutely be condemned for his hideous assertion that Hamas are social justice warriors, dedicated to the ‘good’ of the Palestinian people, he didn’t imply that Bin Laden’s death was a tragedy, simply the abandoning of the rule of law for the sake of an assassination I happen to disagree with him on that, though I understand the argument, but I wont claim or imply for the sake of political point scoring, that he mourns the death of Osama Bin Laden. The same cannot be said for the Prime Minister (or Prince Charles), when again, King Abdullah died. When the King of a nation renowned for funding and exporting Salafi Jihadism, flogging blasphemers, banning atheism, beheading opponents, and slaughtering gays died, the Prime Minister said:

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of the custodian of the two holy mosques, His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abd Al Aziz Al Saud.
“He will be remembered for his long years of service to the kingdom, for his commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the Saudi royal family and the people of the kingdom at this sad time.

– You wouldn’t know from this tale of woe, that former CIA director James Woolsey believes the Saudi’s sponsorship of Islamism is:

“…the soil in which Al-Qaeda and its sister terrorist organizations are flourishing.”

– It is eternally mystifying to me that Tories are willing to accuse Corbyn of putting the UK’s security at risk, whilst they arm and defend one of the World’s biggest exporters and sponsors of Islamism. Interestingly, whilst the Tories and Prince Charles were out visiting Saudi Arabia with The Defence and Security Equipment International, Corbyn was demanding answers from the government on our unjustifiable relationship with Saudi Arabia.

There is a well-established tradition of Tories falling desperately in love with monsters. In 1999, long after leaving office as Prime Minister, Thatcher visited Pinochet in the home where he was held under house arrest, and told him:

“I know how much we owed to you for your help.”

“I’m also very much aware that it is you who brought democracy to Chile, you set up a constitution suitable for democracy, you put it into effect, elections were held, and then, in accordance with the result, you stepped down.”

– So much was Pinochet dedicated to bringing ‘a constitution suitable for democracy’ to Chile, that The Commission of Truth and Reconciliation found that Pinochet’s terror regime resulted in 28,000 tortured using electric shock and sexual abuse among other forms, 2,279 executed mainly for being socialists, and 1,248 “disappeared.” In fact, several detention centres were created in Chile with the sole purpose of raping prisoners. Prisoners later recalled how animals were used in the sexual torture of inmates, with female inmates also reporting how they had been forced to have sex with their brothers and fathers. This was Pinochet’s Chile. This is what a Tory Prime Minister praised.

These past two weeks – and I expect to see it more often now – has seen tribalism and anti-Corbyn dogma pushing normally rational human beings, to condemn the praising and excusing of violent, illiberal thugs, if the one who did the praising was Jeremy Corbyn, whilst acting as if the same isn’t true of New Labour politicians, and Tories. I see no politician at the front-line of British politics adhering to liberal, secular, democratic principles. I see hypocrites and sycophants. Cameron is one of those, Blair is another, Corbyn is a third.

Tell MAMA appoints Nathan Lean to its advisory board…. why?

September 3, 2015

I like Tell MAMA. At times I find it conflates criticism, mockery, or even hate for Islam as doctrines and dogma, with anti-Muslim bigotry, but on the whole Tell Mama is a necessary force for documenting and fighting anti-Muslim bigotry, that is undoubtedly a problem. But it seems their concept of anti-Muslim bigotry differs somewhat from mine, in its recent appointment of Nathan Lean to the Tell MAMA advisory board:

When the late Christopher Hitchens released his book ‘Missionary Position‘ exposing the abuses of power of the much loved Mother Theresa, there was silence from the New Illiberals. No cries of Catholicophobia. No pronouncements on the offensive nature of the title of the book. Nothing. By contrast, when the late Christopher Hitchens released his book ‘God is not great‘ – a play on the chant ‘God is great‘ by Muslims – the New Illiberals lost control.

Back in 2013 Nathan Lean published an article called ‘Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens: New Atheists flirt with Islamophobia’. In it, Lean says:

“Until 9/11, Islam didn’t figure in the New Atheists’ attacks in a prominent way. As a phenomenon with its roots in Europe, atheism has traditionally been the archenemy of Christianity, though Jews and Judaism have also slipped into the mix. But emboldened by their newfound fervor in the wake of the terrorist attacks, the New Atheists joined a growing chorus of Muslim-haters, mixing their abhorrence of religion in general with a specific distaste for Islam (In 2009, Hitchens published a book called “God Is Not Great,” a direct smack at Muslims who commonly recite the Arabic refrain Allah Akbar, meaning “God is great”).”

– A quite bizarre link, given that ‘God is not great‘ does not focus ‘specifically‘ on Islam at all. That’s simply the title of the book. Even more bizarre, given that ‘God is not great‘ as a title is not anti-Muslim hate, as the paragraph implies, but satire. And the last of the bizarre reasoning from Lean is evident in the fact that Sam Harris released a book with a ‘specific distaste‘ for Christianity rather than Islam in his 2006 book ‘Letter To A Christian Nation‘. What Lean means is, a few people have actually mentioned Islam several times, and he doesn’t like that. Even when it comes from Muslims themselves, as we’ll see shortly.

The point I’m trying to make – as I’ve made several times over – is that Nathan Lean, CJ Werleman, Reza Aslan, and other New Illiberals are less interested in tackling anti-Muslim bigotry, and instead obsessed with attacking what they see as white, imperialist, ‘New Atheists‘ criticising or satirising Islam in any way whatsoever. This obsession and given that the narrative they convey is so very flawed, then ironically tends to manifest itself in anti-Muslim bigotry, and racism.

Earlier this year, Nathan Lean decided that a book he hadn’t read, critical of conservative Islamic principles and Islamism, could only be penned by a white man (who just so happens to be one of the ‘New Atheist‘ sect that Lean is obsessed with), and – quite tellingly – his ‘Muslim validator‘:

– The anti-Muslim, racist bigotry is evident. Firstly, criticism of Islam is given a skin tone, which naturally leads to problems when we consider non-white atheists equally critical of Islam. CJ Werleman faces that same problem in his recent rants. For Lean, it is assumed that ‘white‘ Sam Harris takes the lead, with Maajid Nawaz simply there to ‘validate‘ Sam’s criticisms. The depth that Maajid goes into in the book, and his thoughts and reasoning is completely dismissed. A dismissal, incidentally, not shared by Lean’s new colleague on Tell MAMA’s advisory board, Mohammed Amin:

– In fact, Amin actually reviewed the book that Lean hadn’t read, and quite positively concluded:

“The issues discussed are also very important for Muslims living as minorities who see their children being attracted by the bloodthirsty nihilistic fantasies cloaked in Islamic language promoted by organisations such as the so-called “Islamic State”. Maajid Nawaz has been thinking about these matters for many years, and this book offers an excellent insight into what he has learned.”

– So, one of Tell MAMA’s new advisory board members, is convinced brown Muslims critical of aspects of Islam are simply ‘validators’, whilst the other offers an indepth analysis of the book, and is generally supportive of liberal Muslims. When Lean was taken to task for his clear bigotry, he played the same game, this time reducing Maajid down to a ‘lap dog‘ in the game played by white ‘New Atheists‘:

– Note the absurd, and irrational anger aimed at ‘New Atheist‘ Sam Harris in the first instance. This is why I believe the New Illiberals have very little interest in fighting anti-Muslim bigotry, a form of bigotry that they instead use to relentlessly attack ‘New Atheists‘. We can see it here. Whilst Amin calls the dialogue ‘very important‘, Lean calls it ‘smug‘ to actually publish a dialogue in the first place; something people have been doing for centuries. How smug Plato and Socrates must have been. How smug it is to publish the words of the Prophet Muhammad. How smug it is to publish interviews on TV shows, podcasts, and in magazines and newspapers. Incidentally, here is a published conversation that Nathan Lean had with Muscat Daily.

Lean then goes on to call Maajid a ‘lap dog‘ for Sam Harris. Again, Maajid’s contribution to the book is entirely dismissed, with Maajid dehumanised. Indeed, for Lean, Maajid’s expertise is irrelevant. The white man is the one leading, the brown Muslim man is assumed to play an inferior role in the set up, thus denying Maajid his own free faculties, simply because Maajid is a Muslim man who doesn’t fit into Nathan Lean’s neat little box of angry, oppressed Muslim. The problem for Lean and others like him, is that they assume that Muslims are one homogeneous group, with one thought process, and any deviation from an expected course created by the New Illiberals, any suggestion that perhaps Islam requires reform at any level whatsoever, must only be the result of an individual Muslim having become the pawn of white supremacist New Atheists. Essentially, Lean and others like him have created a “Muslim” box, Maajid escaped, and Lean is shouting “get back in your box!” It is a thoroughly bigoted narrative, it dehumanises not only Maajid, but other liberal Muslims fighting the same illiberal, conservative Islamic principles whom we should all be supporting. It works to not only silence non-Muslim critics of Islam (which, contrary to Lean’s absurd implication, is perfectly reasonable, given that non-conservatives criticise conservatism, and non-socialists criticise socialism, and non-Monarchists criticise Monarchism etc), but crucially it also implies that liberal, secular Muslims are somehow being mislead from their perfectly crafted box, and so strips that individual Muslim of his or her critical faculties. For Nathan Lean and others like him, those Muslims are the wrong type of Muslim. It is a betrayal of liberty.

I would consider Lean’s dismissal of Maajid’s views, and his quickness to portray liberal Muslims as ‘lap dogs‘ for white atheists, as a form of anti-Muslim bigotry. And so I would be interested to know how Tell MAMA reconciles Nathan Lean’s views, with Tell MAMA’s principles, and the polar opposite views of other board members.