Israel & Gaza; It isn’t “being selective” that is the issue…. it’s the motive for the selection.

August 11, 2014

I’ve been writing on this blog for several years now, and every now and again I’ll be asked “why do you focus so much on….” The question is usually followed by “Islam?“, “Christianity?“, “God, even though you don’t believe in Him?“, “The GOP?“, “Tories?“. And for the most part, those people are right. It’s not a big selection of issues that I tend to focus on. I am selective. I focus on religion, because I’m a secular atheist interested and critical of all things religion. I focus on the US Republicans, because I find their shift to the far right to have created an intriguing atmosphere in US domestic politics. I focus on the Tory Party, because, well, I don’t like them. It’s that simple. I am selective. But I’m clear in my motives and my prejudices and on such issues that don’t have a clear right or wrong, I expect a lot of disagreement from others.

In Owen Jones’s latest article for The Guardian on the rise anti-semitism, I tended to agree with much of what he wrote, but some of it I found to be more excuses for his own recent motives. He was correct when he points out that during the protests, a section of the Western right-wing attempted to paint all of those attending, as anti-Semites, which completely dilutes the term ‘anti-semitic’. It was a hideous misrepresentation of many well meaning people with genuine concerns and a wish to see the end of immense human suffering in Gaza. Where Owen slips up, is in his characterisation of the criticisms that I and others have regarding the selective outrage of sections of the Western left. Owen writes:

“The response of many supporters of Israel’s attack has been instructive. In a world where there is so much injustice and bloodshed, they say, why not march against the sectarian murderers of Islamic State (Isis) or Boko Haram? This is known as “whataboutery”: an attempt to deflect from one injustice by referring to the suffering of others. Some defenders of Israel’s governments believe the supposed special attention received by the conflict is itself evidence of antisemitism. But Israel’s atrocities attract this attention because the state is armed to the teeth and backed by western governments, rendering them directly complicit; IS and Boko Haram, on the other hand, are (quite rightly) opposed by our rulers. Demonstrations and protests are generally a means of exercising influence over supposedly democratically accountable governments.”

– This paragraph highlights my point throughout this debate entirely. It’s probably worth noting that taking issue with Owen’s selective outrage does not make one a “supporter of Israel’s attack” nor a “defender of Israel’s government“. To subtly hint at such, is as ridiculous as suggesting that criticism of Israeli policy, comes from “supporters of Hamas“. It is not worth dignifying with a full retort.

Next, the entire paragraph is irrelevant in an article on the rise of anti-Semitism, there is no reason to include it, and so I suspect the entire article was written as a response to the criticisms Jones has faced in recent weeks. (Mehdi Hasan attempted a similar excuse, which I wrote on here.) It also fails, because whilst he’s correct that demonstrations and protests are a means of exercising influence over a government, there’s no reason – nor precedent – for protests being solely connected to whom the UK/US/West funds and/or arms. The conclusion to his paragraph therefore, does not follow from his overall argument. Protests against the Sri Lankan Civil War urged World leader’s to push Sri Lanka to declare ceasefire. Their motivation wasn’t that the UK had grotesquely sold almost £14mn in arms to Sri Lanka in the recent years of the conflict (that knowledge came later), it was a concern for human rights and a possible genocide. The Global Day of Action for Burma did not include in its demands any reference to funding being the sole justification for their protest, and instead focused on raising awareness and working to pressure governments of the World into taking action. The ‘Stop Kony’ fad of 2012 – whilst it didn’t achieve its key goal, and was doubtless a fashionable fad for many rather than a protest – did achieve significant goals. It raised awareness, leading to Human Rights Watch saying:

“We’ve spent years investigating the horrors perpetrated by the LRA in central Africa – Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic (CAR), and South Sudan. We gathered evidence at massacre sites – wooden clubs covered in dried blood, rubber strips from bicycle tires used to tie up the victims, and freshly dug graves – and spoke to hundreds of boys and girls forced to fight for his army or held captive as sex slaves. And we’re elated that #stopKony is a trending topic on Twitter – if anyone deserves global notoriety it’s Kony.”

– It also led to Senators Jim Inhofe and Chris Coons raising the issue in the US Senate and pledging the US’s support for governments in Africa trying to track down leaders of the LRA. It led to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees noting an unprecedented reaction to the atrocities and new commitments to stop the LRA. To a large extent, it worked. Mobilising, protesting, using the power of social media, and all forms of pressure do not require first analysing the financial transactions of the UK. Which leads me to point two:

I am not keen on this new excuse that amounts to a sort “we don’t fund them, so we’re not that fussed” reaction. This is not how the international left traditionally went about its business, and as seen with prior protests, has not been a major theme. It didn’t strike off the list all of those human rights abusing nations or groups that weren’t receiving Western aid. It wasn’t a primary concern, and I’m not sure why it is now. It is also a badly crafted excuse and I don’t buy it as the real motive. Pakistan is one of the biggest recipients of bilateral aid, with a large chunk from the UK, despite Pakistan’s violent grip on Balochistan, to no protests whatsoever from the Western Left. The US funded the gangland regime in Honduras for years, which in turn created a brewing humanitarian crisis on the US/Mexico border with very little registering on the US Left. Afghanistan with its awful Shia Family Law, corruption within the PA, Congo, Jordan, the list goes on, and the murderous, oppressive regimes receive little protest from the left. It is a self-evidently weak excuse, and still fails to do its job, because the selective outrage is still applied inconsistently. Those conflicts may involve the US to a degree (when isolated from all other context), but they don’t directly involve Israel, so the outrage may be limited to a few words of condemnation, in perhaps a Tweet or two about how it’s all the US’s fault. I would also argue that this inconsistency and a tendency to single out Israel under a daily microscope, whilst making excuses for that, has fuelled the rise of the very anti-semitism Jones now rightly argues against.

Thirdly, my criticism is not that Owen and others like him are selective in their outrage. We all do that. I do that. Whether on foreign issues like Gaza, or domestic issues like the Bedroom Tax, we’re all selective and we all have our motives for being selective. Being selective is not a negative in itself. It would be ridiculous of anyone to demand we register equal protest and outrage at every conflict in every part of the World on every single day. That appears to be what Owen believes we’re doing, but it simply isn’t the criticism I have. I am clear with my criticism, and it is based on motive. Motive drives us all in how we select, and that is no different for that particular section of the Left. My criticism is that there is a significant section of the Left that increasingly selects its moral outrage and how it chooses to protest, on the basis of whether or not the crisis and the victims can be used as a vehicle to progress a rabid anti-US/UK/Blair/Israel sentiment. Through this, I am frustrated by their rewriting of history to filter out surrounding context, by underplaying the contribution to the crisis from figures other than the US/UK/Israel, by sharing images that do not show what they purport to show, and articles that are far less than accurate and cannot be dismissed as simple oversight. The motive is not primarily concern for victims (though I don’t doubt that concern for victims plays its part, I’m not suggesting Owen’s section of the Left lacks empathy), nor is it the traditional Left’s motive of fighting oppression where ever it is found. It is the cynical use of conflicts, to progress the underlying narrative of anti-US/Israel/West, that forms the bases of my criticisms.

When such a dogmatic motive for a very narrow narrative lies just beneath the surface, it may not be formed through conscious bigotry, but it manifests itself in simplistic analysis, and manipulative rhetoric that perpetuates bigotry (see Galloway’s recent comments). As previously mentioned, Mo Ansar played to that crowd when working to underplay the devastation caused by Hamas rocket fire. This is also evident in Owen’s past articles. For example, in his article entitled “Why the left must speak up about the persecution of Christians” – a noble fight – it doesn’t take Owen long to simplistically blame the US and UK, betraying the original point of the article:

“It is, unsurprisingly, the Middle East where the situation for Christians has dramatically deteriorated in recent years. One of the legacies of the invasion of Iraq has been the purging of a Christian community that has lived there for up to two millennia.”

– Yup. It’s the West’s fault. For the rest of us, it is the ‘legacy’ of a plethora of causes, that to an extent includes the incompetent conducting of and the aftermath of the invasion, the sectarian and disuniting policies of Maliki’s government, but those are given their strength by religious turmoil for centuries including the massacre of Assyrian Christians in the 1930s, private funding for groups like ISIS from donors elsewhere, Saddam’s relocation of Christians away from strategic resources and an emphasis on the notion that Christians are to be ‘tolerated’ in those areas, rather than considered equal. It is not simply ‘legacy of invasion, blame the US’. The problems are rooted far deeper. The context far wider.

When it came to the crisis with the self-titled ‘Islamic State’ – ISIS – in Iraq, the focus for Jones was another overly simplistic analysis, in which surrounding context can just be dismissed, in a quest to blame the US/UK. This time, the self-serving motive was less subtle: “We anti-war protestors were right; the Iraq invasion has led to bloody chaos”. It’s almost as if there wasn’t bloody chaos – a couple of genocides, nothing to see here – prior to the Iraq invasion. In his incredibly reductive analysis, Jones chooses to ignore the Iraq that Saddam left behind devoid of any semblance of democratic institutions, a massive Syrian civil war, ignore the Arab Spring, ignore a power play between Saudi Arabia – seeking to weaken Maliki whilst also opposing Jihadists at home – and Iran in Iraq & Syria, ignore what seems to be support for anti-Shia groups in Syria from private donors in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, ignore a largely heavy handed Shi’ite security force in Iraq, ignore the fight for a resurrected Caliphate from extreme elements within Islam for decades (it’s difficult to blame Blair for the popularity of al-Nabhani’s ideas and the strength of Hizb in the 1980s/90s across the globe), ignore centuries of sectarianism (including Saddam’s hideous massacre of around 100,000 Shi’ite Muslims in and around Karbala and al-Najaf a year before Blair took over as leader of Labour), ignores al-Maliki’s sectarian governance, ignores a weak Iraqi constitution, ignores the tensions between ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra. All surrounding context is filtered out, because it doesn’t indicate a line directly from Blair to ISIS.

So, we can discount the ‘we fund them’ excuse, because it doesn’t seem to extend far beyond Israel, and still leaves us with the same criticism of the motives for selection. We can discount the ‘we protest to pressure the government’ because that is the case with most protest movements regardless of whether or not we fund the culprits. We can discount the ‘whataboutery’ complaint, because it isn’t the criticism we actually have in the first place. My conclusion remains the same; there is a purpose in working to oversimplify conflicts in the manner that the Galloway-left often does. Being selective is not the issue. The motive is the issue. In this case, ‘being selective’ is focused entirely on how a crisis can be used to progress an anti-US/Israel narrative. Manipulated and reductive history, dismissal of all surrounding context, blatantly false or emotive images and information, and awful excuses, are all utilised to that end. And I’m fine with that bigoted motive, if only they’d admit it, because at the moment it gives the rest of us on the Left a bad name.

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As the Yazidi face extermination by ISIS: Where are the Western Left?

August 7, 2014


Vian Dakheel Saeed Khadher MP making an impassioned and emotional plea in the Iraqi Parliament for humanitarian solidarity in confronting the extermination of the Yazidi population by ISIS.

Where are the protests in the streets of London and beyond for the people trapped on Sinjar? Where is the Western outrage? Where is the solidarity movement? Where are the angry demands for the right to return for the thousands displaced from their stolen lands? Where is Mehdi Hasan (currently Tweeting his distaste at ‘Conservative Friends of Israel’)? Where is Owen Jones (currently blaming the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East on the war in Iraq, obviously)? Where are the Ministerial resignations from a government remaining silent on constant torture, beheadings, and mass slaughters? Where are the ‘Free Iraq’ banners? Where is the pressure on the UN to uphold its human rights declaration and protect the most vulnerable? Where are the constant stream of images showing the grotesque result of what is slowly turning into a genocide? Where is the solidarity with the Kurds resisting ISIS? Will the Galloway’s of the World be cynically using the slaughter of the Yazidi people as a badly masked pretext to express how much they dislike Blair again? What use is a modern left that traditionally transcended international borders, if it now picks and chooses its relentless fight for basic human rights, based entirely on that population’s relation to US/UK foreign policy? The crisis in Syria and Iraq with ISIS is quickly highlighting the failures of the 21st Century Western Galloway-left’s outrage machine. It is a machine that is focused entirely on expressing its distaste for the US/Israel/Blair and will seemingly, and without a sense of shame, use any crisis to highlight that distaste. It is a left I no longer identify with.

The quickness in which the Western left springs into collective action became apparent over the past two weeks, when it responded with pictures, demands, articles, leaflets, debates, protests, and pressure over Israel’s violent incursion into Gaza and the awful human suffering that followed. This response from the Western left was admirable at times, and manipulative and slightly unsettling at others. It saw Mo Ansar try to underplay the effects of Hamas’s rockets. It also saw writers like Mehdi Hasan and musicians like Brian Eno try to justify a lack of anything close to a similar reaction to any other humanitarian crisis when that crisis doesn’t directly involve Israel or the US. A cynical attempt to justify singling out people, based on incredibly faulty, desperate logic, that may lead one to conclude that behind the poor justifications, lies the stench of bigotry. Because right now, ISIS has captured an area larger than Great Britain, controlling the lives of 6,000,000 people, whilst tens of thousands of innocent human beings – many children – from a religious minority are stuck on Mount Sinjar, threatened with starvation and dehydration if they stay, or execution for apostasy by ISIS if they leave. The women and young girls face enslavement. The men face slaughter. A further 130,000 have fled to the Kurdish north to escape death, forcing a humanitarian refugee crisis in the north of Iraq. Amnesty has noted how desperate the displaced people are for aid in the region. Unicef noted the deaths of 40 children as a result of dehydration and violence. This isn’t a crisis that the World can ignore. As ISIS spreads its net further, more human lives will absolutely fall into its hands to be crushed. It threatens to engulf the region, and beyond, and we have seen what this group is capable of. It is a crisis of massive proportions, and through it all, there is barely a mention from the Galloway, Jones, Hasan Western Left, unless they can find a way to use the human suffering to express their dislike of Blair or the US. A whole new meaning to the term ‘disproportionate response’.

After witnessing how quickly people can mobilise – especially in the age of social media – when it came to the crisis in Gaza and the constant stream of anger from protesters across the World, the quickness by which images were shared (some manipulated from previous conflicts) to create a sense of outrage, article after article, news report after news report, and international pressure rightly put on Israel for its violent incursion, I am left wondering why that Western liberal left moral compass has now been securely locked away during one of the biggest humanitarian crises in living memory.


Iraq: Don’t blame Blair. Blame sectarianism.

June 17, 2014

There seems to be a slight undertone of glee in the writings of the rabidly anti-Blair brigade since ISIS began its hideous incursion into Iraq a couple of weeks ago. A sort of “We told you so” smugness to their tone. Owen Jones’s article for The Guardian is horribly self serving. This attitude is then qualified with an incredibly simplistic analysis that seems to draw a direct line from Blair in 2003 (the beginning of all history), to ISIS in 2014. To do this, requires ignoring the Arab Spring, it requires ignoring ISIS’s earlier incarnation in 2000 under a different name whose goal was to overthrow “UnIslamic” regimes in the Middle East before, it requires ignoring a power play between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Syria, it requires ignoring the policies of al-Maliki and a largely Shi’ite heavy-handed military, it requires ignoring the decades long desire for a resurrected Caliphate from militant groups across the World, it requires ignoring the Syrian civil war in its entirety and the tensions between ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, it ignores the fact that most ISIS fighters are Syrian, and most of all it requires stopping at 2003, rather than perhaps laying an ounce of the blame at the door of an historically militant Sunni inability to accept that Shi’ite Muslims have a right to life and participation in government. It’s as reasonable an assessment, as blaming Ali and Abu Bakr.

April this year marked the 20th anniversary of the genocide that UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon insisted the UN should be ashamed for not preventing. Rwanda was the very epitome of what happens when dogmatic non-intervention is adopted. The World has seemingly learnt nothing in those 20 years, given that the the international community is largely ignoring another genocide on the horizon, in which intolerant Sunni extremists attempt to wipe Shia Muslims from the face of the planet knowing full well that Western powers are chained by their own internal soul searching over the invasion of Iraq, rather than internally soul searching since the sectarian genocide in Rwanda.

This is a problem that has existed for generations, is perpetuated by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, was utilised by Saddam, was not adequately addressed at the constituting of a new Iraq, leads to reprisal attacks, and has now fallen into the hands of ISIS. It did not begin in 2003. In fact, in June 1992, Human Rights Watch noted:

“In Karbala, as in al-Najaf, there were reports that Shi’a clerics found walking on the streets were rounded up and never seen again.”

– A year earlier, and three years before Blair became leader of the Labour Party in the UK, Saddam had been responsible for – with Taha Yassin Ramadan overseeing – the hideous massacre of around 100,000 Shi’ite Muslims in and around Karbala and al-Najaf and had previously restricted pilgrimage in Karbala (a holy Shi’ite city) to Iraqi citizens only. In all, The New York Times reported that Saddam was responsible for around 1,000,000 deaths of his own people; a figure that permits the term ‘genocide’. During the repressions, al-Najaf was hit heavily, including the Shi’ite shrine of tomb of the Imam Ali, which Saddam’s security forces didn’t seem to care too much for. Karbala was opened up in 2004 to Shi’ite pilgrims, with over 1,000,000 Shia from all over the World attending for the first time, but the day was marred by the brutal slaughter of many Shi’ite pilgrims, by car bombs and rocket fire planted by a group led by Sunni anti-Shia Abu Abdallah al Hassan Ben Mahmoud. The slaughter of the Shia is a continuation of supremacist Sunni attitudes. The Shia genocide is not new. It was simply institutionalised and easily hidden under the rule of Saddam.

Ten years earlier, in 1982, Saddam had ordered the rounding up of 393 men, and 394 women, and children, on suspicion of being part of a Shia uprising in Dujail that attempted to assassinate him. Some died in captivity after taking a beating by security forces, others were exiled. Hundreds were routinely tortured, and executed, including ten children between the ages of 11 and 17, who were held in secret, and executed in 1989.

In Balochistan in 2011, 29 Shia Muslims were murdered by Islamist terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, whose main reason for being, is to murder Shia Muslims where ever they find them. Some estimate that around 30,000 Shia have fled Balochistan because they feel threatened, and Pakistan refuses to acknowledge the problem, largely due to their ties with Saudi Arabia. This is reflected in Pakistan’s treatment of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s leader Malik Ishaq, who is routinely arrested and released instantly, despite his clear involvement in the deaths of hundreds.

In 2012, armed Hamas men stormed a gathering of Shi’ite worshipers, brutally assaulted them, and continued the attack even as the victims were on their way to hospital. Incidentally, George Galloway spent Sunday on Radio 4 denouncing Blair for the troubles in Iraq, rather than acknowledging that funding Hamas – as they perpetuate a narrative of violent sectarianism, and anti-Shia hate – to the tune of £25,000 might not have helped matters either.

Today coordinated attacks against Shi’ite communities simply for not being Sunni continues, and not just in Iraq. Shi’ites in Parachinar, Pakistan have been the focus of violent attacks from Sunni extremists for years. In July 2013, extremists deliberately targeted Shi’ite mosques in a town next to the market place, because families were out shopping for Iftar. Instead of a family day out at the market, 56 people were killed, and another 100 injured in coordinated bomb blasts simply for being Shia. In fact, between January 2012, and July 2013, over 635 Shia have been killed in Pakistan, in separate attacks.

It isn’t just the Middle East either. Indeed, it is illegal in Malaysia for Shia to promote their faith. Middle Eastern academic Vali Nasr insists that Shia living in Bahrain are basically living under a system of apartheid (largely ignored by the Western left, who focus the term ‘apartheid’ on Israel only). Similarly, Shia are often accused of crimes they didn’t commit in Saudi Arabia and imprisoned, a country that also bans Shia from leading government positions. Shia in Saudi Arabia also have to live with the fact that school books refer to their interpretation of their faith as a heresy. All over the Middle East, Shia Muslims are disenfranchised, abused, tortured, oppressed, and murdered. It’s been going on for years, and ignored for those same years.

Today, the growth of ISIS – to the point in which they are a threat to the World, not just Iraq – and the mentality and anti-Shia hate – as well as a rabid desire to reconstitute a Caliphate – that drives groups like them did not begin in March 2003. It has a long and deep history, it is rooted in intolerant religious sectarianism autonomous of Western foreign policy, Saddam’s Iraq made it the order of the day, Pakistan turns its head and ignores the problem for global political reasons, Saudi Arabia perpetuates it, a Galloway funded Hamas plays on it, Iraq’s government has left it to fester, scripture is used to justify it, and the complexity of this is slowly leading to a Rwandan-like genocide, as an international left that cared not an ounce when Saddam was doing it, nor takes a moment to consider its poison in Saudi Arabia, haven’t mentioned the attacks in Pakistan, do not know the name of liberal, secular, democrats fighting for a just and peaceful Iraq, but suddenly developed a sense of humanity the moment they recognised the potential to ceaselessly denounce Blair as the principle architect of the problem.

The end of the war in Iraq failed to provide a substantial constitutional framework for the institutional protection and political equality and a fair distribution of power between both Shia and Sunni minorities in different parts of the country and on local levels. The scales tip from one sect, to another, and a balance seems to evade Iraq’s politics. It was a key issue in providing the base for a working democracy, and it was largely mishandled, and a heavy handed Shi’ite military seems now to be viewed with contempt by Sunni minorities feeling alienated. For years Anbar province has complained that Maliki’s government in Baghdad ignored them and that they had been practically left out of the political process. So they rebelled, some joined militant Al Qaeda inspired groups, and Maliki inflamed the sectarianism by referring to all of them as al-Qaeda, rather than refusing to acknowledge his own shortcomings. He ignored the fact that the same Anbar province largely supported the US surge in 2007. Again, this has nothing to do with Blair, and everything to do with religious sectarianism and a failure to address the issue on a political level. It is not the fault of the Iraq war that Iraq now slips back into sectarian violence. It is both global inaction in Syria, and the deficiencies in the democratic settlement that require immediate redress, because Iraq still deserves a safe, democratic institutional framework that caters for all, rather than leaving it to fall into the hands of violent Theocratic thugs. For the West to leave Iraq to burn, is to tacitly agree with ISIS that Iraq cannot handle democracy, human rights and political equality, and can only be controlled by dictatorship.


Kennedy, Obama, and the Tea Party extremists.

November 26, 2013

THISLAND JOHN BIRCH

The intensity of paranoid right winged hysteria that faces everything the President says, everything he does, and everywhere he goes has grown substantially over the past few years. From those demanding a birth certificate, to public office holders invoking the image of slavery and Stalin whenever they disagree with any policy coming out of the White House. It is all anchored by a paranoid fear of an imminent communist take over. The intensity of the vitriol is growing… but it isn’t new, nor are the people behind it.

In November 1961, President Kennedy gave a speech in which he warns about the “discordant voices of extremism” on the far right fringes, Kennedy said:

“They equate the Democratic Party with the welfare state, the welfare state with socialism, and socialism with communism. They object quite rightly to politics’ intruding on the military — but they are anxious for the military to engage in politics.”

– Echoing these thoughts, the former President, Eisenhower – a Republican – also in 1961 registered his concern about the growing tide of right winged paranoia and extremism that the President and the country were facing in the early ’60s. He expresses concern over what he calls the “super-patriot” and that they tend to wish to:

“…go back to eliminating the income tax from our laws and the rights of people to unionize… [and those] advocating some form of dictatorship.”

The far right attacks on Kennedy grew during the early ’60s, and by November 22nd 1963, the Dallas Morning News printed this full page advertisement attacking the President:

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– It is a page dedicated to the subtle hinting that Kennedy was soft on communism and must be resisted by Constitution loving Patriots. For example, one “WHY” on the list reads:

“WHY have you ordered or permitted your brother Bobby, the Attorney General, to go soft on Communists, fellow-travelers, and ultra-leftists in America, while permitting him to persecute loyal Americans who criticize you, your administration, and your leadership?”

– Interestingly, you will note that the name on the bottom of the ad is Bernard Wiessman. During the 60s, Wiessman was a member of the infamous ultra-right ‘John Birch Society’. The society continues to this day. Their website lists Fred Koch – the father of the Tea Party bankrolling Koch Brothers – in its “list of significant figures”. Koch was a founding member of the John Birch Society. The society has played host to some particularly unsavoury characters, not least Fred Koch himself, who laid the seeds for his wealth by building Soviet oil infrastructure, and training Soviet engineers. The Koch family has only ever been interested in increasing its own power and wealth. The same is true today.

Haroldson L.Hunt, the Texas millionaire was a keen member of the John Birch Society during the 1960s. Hunt frequented the radio waves of Texas often to warn of the terrible consequences of President Kennedy’s support for Medicare:

“The plan provides a near little package of sweeping dictatorial power over medicine and the healing arts—a package which would literally make the President of the United States a medical czar with potential life or death power over every man woman and child in the country.”

– According to Hunt – the John Birch member, and someone who clearly doesn’t understand the word ‘literally’ – Medicare would lead to dictatorship, and death panels. According to Tea Party today – including groups with links to the John Birch Society – the Affordable Care Act will lead to dictatorship and death panels.

A ’60s associate of the society, Reverand Billy James Hargis wrote:

“This nation today is in the hands of a group of Harvard radicals who have long ago been “hooked” by the insidious dope of socialism and view human life from the international standpoint – They are a dangerous scourge – and they are so deeply entrenched in power that they can be removed only by a nationwide upsurge of conservatism.”

“They are liberals; liberals are socialists; and Khrushchev himself said that socialism is ‘the first phase of communism.'”

– Hargis headed the fifth annual convention of the Christian Crusade against Communism, which included Robert Welch – the director of the John Birch Society.

In 1961, a report by Congressman Morris K. Udall noted another significant member of the John Birch Society:

“For example, the testimony revealed that Gen. Walker is a member of the John Birch Society, an organization whose leader says former President Eisenhower, John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles and other high officials of our government have been Communist dupes. Also, it was revealed that Gen. Walker made public statements which were derogatory of other present and former officials of our government. Such statements, of course, are wholly out of keeping for a military officer.”

– General Walker – also a guest at the Christian Crusade against Communism convention – was using his position as a General to amplify his far-right, aggressive John Birch Society beliefs. According to further testimony to the Warren Commission by the aforementioned Bernard Wiessman, Walker was driving around with copies of this in his car, shortly after November 22nd 1963:

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– Anti-Christian, Communist race rioters, betraying the Constitution, treason. Familiar vitriolic terms you will still note coming out of the same far right, largely funded by the same Koch family in 2013.

On October 18th, 1963 – just over a month until the assassination – the Delaware State News ran an editorial:

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. His name right now happens to be Kennedy. Let’s shoot him, literally, before Christmas.”

– The fear driven, violent rhetoric is the same. But in 2013, the John Birch Society and its Tea Party has just as much – if not more – power than it had in the 1960s. The dangerous conspiratorial tone that a Marxist takeover of government is imminent, now infects legislative bodies across the US. For example, In March 2012, the Tennessee House Republicans drafted House Joint Resolution 587 that read:

“WHEREAS, according to the United Nations Agenda 21 policy, social justice is described as the right and opportunity of all people to benefit equally from the resources afforded us by society and the environment which would be accomplished by socialist/communist redistribution of wealth”

– The wording is eerily similar to a John Birch Society mock-up Bill which reads:

“WHEREAS, according to the United Nations Agenda 21 policy, social justice is described as the right and opportunity of all people to benefit equally from the resources afforded by society and the environment which would be accomplished by a socialist/communist-style redistribution of wealth”

– When I say “eerily similar”, I mean “exactly the same”.

At a Tea Party rally back in 2010, a speaker from Corpus Christi passionately told the crowd that President Obama’s:

“…goal is to do whatever he can to reinvent the United States of America into the aggressively, militantly, secular socialist and post-Christian state he wants it to be. This means … deconstructing the Constitution however he pleases.

Also in the more recent past, Republican darling Ron Paul was not only the first chairman of ‘Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE)’ which was founded in ’84 by David and Charles Koch, and is now ‘FreedomWorks’ – he was also a key speaker at the John Birch Society’s 50th Anniversary celebration in Wisconsin in October 2008. Interestingly, one of ‘FreedomWorks’ main financers is Crow Holdings, LLC. Crow Holdings has contributed $20,000 to Senator Cruz so far for 2014. This, on top of the $25,000 from Koch industries. 50 years of Koch family promoted vitriol and paranoia, through their hired mouthpieces in Congress.

The opposition to both Kennedy and Obama from the fringe of the right wing has never been a reasonable opposition built on democratically scrutinising ideas. Their brand of opposition has been consistent for the past 50 years; to present any policy slightly to the left of father Koch, as ‘unamerican’, as ‘communist’, as a threat to the fabric of American society, needing to be dealt with outside of the democratic process if necessary, and to spend an obscene amount of money sponsoring candidates and running “Welcome Mr Kennedy” ads to help spread the paranoid fantasies of one far-right family, whilst presenting itself as “grassroots”.

The Tea Party in 2013, and to a growing extent – the Republican Party in 2013 – is the John Birch Society of the 1960s. The same meaningless yet vicious and provocative manipulative and paranoid phrasing, bankrolled by the same family for the sake of the power of that one family, and working to inspire the same reactions from those who suffer the most from its manipulations. They inhabit the realm of paranoid fantasy that is usually considered fringe. It has been key to the far-right’s 50 years of manufacturing false and delusional hysteria, and as of 2013, the power of John Birch-style extremism had the power to shutdown the government in September. That’s a worrying development.


Capitalism and Language

August 7, 2013

It is impossible to go a day or two without being presented with language that means very little, whilst appearing to mean a lot. It gives the appearance of some sort of professionalism, but that is all it is; appearance. It exists in its own World, somewhat divorced from reality. It perhaps mimics notions of professional dress codes; professional hair cuts; making sure tattoos aren’t on display; all the signs of modern day lifeless ‘professionalism’. It is all appearance, with very little meaning behind it. It is a religion unto itself. Allow me to give you some examples I once noted down having seen on a company mission statement:

“Our team works to prioritise mission-critical web-readiness, leveraging cross-platform web services.”

– I have studied this wording for quite some time, and I’m still unable to tell you what it means. I think it means; “We update our website a lot.

Orwell once took this beautiful line from Ecclesiastes:

“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

– And transformed it into modern, business-English:

“Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”

If we take a look at language we’re so used to hearing from the business community, from politicians, and from those who are speaking from a position of considerable privilege, we can easily note that the rhetoric tends to reflect the prevailing social and economic centres of power, used – among other things – to water down injustices within that particular system. Words and phrases are used to subtly promote the prevailing structure. The Liberal Democrats have taken to using the word “fair” to describe policies that do not fix inherent problems (like housing shortages) but do such untold damage to those who at the bottom, that repeating the word “fair” over and over seems like nothing more than an insecure exercise in trying to convince themselves of what they’re saying.

Conservatives are wonderful at claiming to be a Party willing to take “tough decisions“. As if that’s an inherently good thing. As if “tough” translates to “right“. It ignores ideology, if you claim the decisions were tough. You might envisage the millionaire Chancellor weeping as he signs off on cuts to disability funds for the most vulnerable, as if his anti-social security ideology isn’t a factor. It’s no different to Republicans in the US claiming it a tough decision to strip women of reproductive rights. Or slave owners in the Antebellum South claiming it’s a tough decision to whip their slaves. Those with the privilege do not get to claim a decision that perpetuates that pivilege, whilst oppressing those already oppressed, is “tough“.

In the business world, “End of play” suggests a sort of child-like fun that you must be having. ‘Flexible accumulation‘ used to suggest an inherent and unavoidable part of the system that means of production, of distribution, and so labourforce (people) are in fact all unimportant in themselves – secondary – to the most important aspect of life; the accumulation of capital (which, oddly, is deemed a natural ‘good’). And so as language analysts suggest; if workers are convinced of their own nature as ‘flexible’ they are more likely to accept that their jobs are part of that ‘flexible‘ cycle, willing to work longer hours for less. If you tell a worker he or she is ‘expendable‘ or ‘worthy, until the boss deems otherwise‘, you’re unlikely to inspire much loyalty (a loyalty, the boss isn’t obliged to reciprocate). ‘Flexible accumulation’ is a very subtle threat, hidden behind more creative language. Just today, we read that the Institute of Directors has responded angrily to suggestions that zero-hour contracts be banned, insisting that it risks the UKs ‘flexible’ labour market. Another way to describe a ‘flexible‘ labour market, is job insecurity. According to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine; anxiety, depression, and poor health increase dramatically in those people who consider their job to be insecure. This, to the Institute of Directors, is an unimportant consequence of a “flexible labour market“.

Burst bubble” denotes something out of anyone’s control, and so those who were at the very centre of the financial crash are exonerated by a linguistic con-trick. Those who suffered the most from the impact of the “burst bubble” tend to be those with very little political or economic power, and so it is easy to transfer the blame from those at the centre of the bubble, to those who were reliant on the bubble. The rule of divide and conquer. Ensure those on incredibly low wages, with a falling standard of living, and insecure jobs (flexible workforce) believe it is the fault of those who are poorer than they, rather than those with the power and the wealth. The poor must be ‘scroungers’ or they are ‘leechers’ or they are ‘Welfare dependent’ or ‘lazy’ or ‘immigrants taking our jobs’.

We are bombarded with how ‘the markets‘ will react, to any social or economic change. ‘The markets‘ are treated as a mysterious, God-like entity that must be obeyed. A new Theology. Milton Friedman appears like a Prophet promising “freedom” but delivering destitution. The ‘Market‘ God is treated as if infallible. As if perfect rather than what they actually are; indifferent, amoral. For example, if I were to drive my car a mile away to the shop, I must buy a car, I must buy insurance, I must pay my road tax, I must buy petrol, I might choose to buy a new CD for the car, or an air freshener. Doubtlessly, driving a mile down the road to the shop contributes to the growth of ‘the markets’. Or, I could choose to walk the mile to the shop. I am benefitting the environment this way, it is far more healthy for me to do this, and yet, I contribute nothing to the growth of ‘the markets’ this way. In this example, my health and the health of the environment are less important, than pollution and laziness. The Institute of Directors, who care little for the health of humanity, would be thoroughly unimpressed if I were to walk to work. But for the thriving of Capitalism, especially after such a risky crises, the language used to portray ‘the markets’ must be positive and lofty at all times, whilst those that fall victim to the insidious side of market forces, portrayed as weak, lazy, and a burden. By dehumanising the most vulnerable, people are able to turn their heads when harsh economic violence is conducted against them.

We are told that policy must be directed to benefit those we now consider “job creators“. They are our saviours. We are indebited to those people. As if their money is how wealth is created. As if they don’t just ride the tide of demand. We have called it supply-side, we have called it trickle-down, now the rhetoric has moved on to labeling anyone with money as a ‘job creator’. We are told that if we do not cut taxes for the richest, whilst slashing social programmes that those taxes fund, the ‘job creators‘ will all leave. And so, they must be given the biggest Welfare payment of all; a massive tax cut. This is the real something-for-nothing society, because the obligation for someone who has used a well funded public system and social security safety net and framework in order to gain great wealth, to pay back into that system in order for the next generation to be afforded the same opportunities, is cut the moment a government give into the threat of leaving if taxed. The poorest do not have that option.

Interestingly, through all the media hype and demands of “catching” Welfare cheats, alongside exaggerated shock stories of parents claiming millions in Welfare, for their 40 children, in their 140 bedroom house, and their Spanish beach home, all paid for by your hard work!!!!!…. only £1.2bn was lost to Welfare fraud in 2010/11, which is 0.8% of the total benefit expenditure. If the total benefit expenditure was a £1 coin, less than 1p would be lost to fraud. By contrast Vodafone (that’s one company, not an entire Nation) was allowed to write off its tax bill of £6bn. That’s six times more than that lost to Welfare fraud across the whole country. Rather coincidentally, the head of tax policy at Vodafone is a man named John Connors. Connors used to work at HMRC and enjoys a close relationship with current head of HMRC, David Hartnett. They go for cosy lunches together, and then they casually wipe £6bn from the Nation’s second largest company on the Stock market’s tax bill. Unsurprisingly, Hartnett is the most wined and dined civil servant in the country, by corporations. I’m sure it’s just because he’s such a nice guy. Yes. That must be it.

The Conservative Party does not like talking about individual cases of those suffering intensely due to Tory budget cuts. Iain Duncan Smith, when presented with families struggling to live, started his answer with “this is typical of the BBC“.
In March 2012, according to figures by the Department for Communities and Local Government, local authorities registered 48,510 households as homeless, representing a 14% leap. The largest in nine years. A report from the same department also showed the number of people sleeping rough had jumped by a fifth, in a year.
Leslie Morphy the Chief Exec. of Crises said:

“Our worst fears are coming to pass. We face a perfect storm of economic downturn, rising joblessness and soaring demand for limited affordable housing combined with government policy to cut housing benefit plus local cuts to homelessness services.”

Similarly, the Chief Exec. of Shelter, Campbell Rob said:

“These figures are a shocking reminder of the divide between the housing haves and have nots in this country,”

Similarly, Matt Harrison, interim chief executive of Homeless Link said:

“This comes at a time when reduced funding has already hit services and further cuts are expected this year. Our research indicates that there are now fewer projects, fewer beds and more of our members are turning people away because they are full.”

– With overwhelming evidence, and statements from those whose lives are dedicated to helping the most vulnerable, wishing to highlight the situation, you’d think the government might firstly accept their is a problem given that the 7th largest economy in the World has a rising homeless population, and secondly, set out just what the government intends to do about this horrendous situation. Instead, Grant Shapps said:

“the debt-laden economy we inherited is leaving a legacy of hard-up households across the country”.

During the Mick Philpott murder case, George Osborne echoed the sentiments of the right winged Tabloid press, when he hinted that the murder of children, could in any way be linked to the concept of Welfare. Social security under attack politically, needed a rhetorical bedfellow, and it was handed it with the Philpott case. Tory Councillor John Bell, ran with this:
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– The manipulative nature of the rhetoric is evident when we note how the Daily Mail dealt with the case, in its story:

“Michael Philpott is a perfect parable for our age: His story shows the pervasiveness of evil born of welfare dependency. The trial spoke volumes about the sheer nastiness of the individuals involved. But it also lifted the lid on the bleak and often grotesque world of the welfare benefit scroungers — of whom there are not dozens, not hundreds, but tens of thousands in our country.“

– The suggestion being that there are two groups of people in the UK; those not on any form of Welfare, and those on Welfare who are also potential child killers. The Daily Mail headline that day, above a picture of Mick Philpott was simple:

“Vile Product of Welfare UK.

– Yet, when Stephen Seddon murdered his parents for his £230,000 inheritance, the Mail did not suggest this was the ‘vile product‘ of the concept of inheritance. When the Mail editors got hold of the Philpott story, their main objective was to further the demonisation of Welfare. Nothing more. Any tenuous link was going to be drawn. Capitalism, that inevitably leads to the necessity of social security is not to blame, for the Daily Mail. That social security itself, is to blame.

When the Shropshire millionaire Hugh McFall murdered his wife and daughter, the Mail said:

“Detectives believe the mild-mannered family man snapped as he struggled to cope with spiralling debts…..Last night his sister Claire Rheade said: ‘It’s unbelievable – he doted on his family, he would never harm them. ‘He was a gentle man who wouldn’t hurt a fly.’ ”

– Note the rhetorical differences.
The Philpott case: “evil“, “sheer nastiness“, “grotesque“, “scroungers“, “bleak”.
The McFall case: “mild-mannered“, “family man“, “doted on his family“, “never harm them“, “gentle man“, “wouldn’t hurt a fly“. They mention his “personal spiralling debts” as a catalyst. Here, they limit responsibility to he alone. They could call the McFall murders a “vile product of Capitalism“. They don’t.

To water down injustices within the system, whilst promoting the prevailing order, it is necessary to inflict linguistic damage upon those considered ‘outside’ of the system. Those who lose out. Those on the receiving end of the injustices, because to face up to the injustices puts those who gain the most, in a threatened situation. Marx was convinced that the injustices would eventually manifest in the collective consciousness of the oppressed, which in turn, would lead to revolution. Marx faltered in his underestimating oppressive discourse and how it becomes so ingrained into the social fabric (especially if it is repeated over generations) so as to threaten opposition by stigmatising it as much as possible. It represents a narrowing of both social, and political discourse. You can usually tell just who benefits the most from the prevailing rhetoric of the day, because they’re the ones with the power.


Galloway: When you defend Hamas…

July 28, 2013

George Galloway is working on a documentary to ‘expose’ the Blair administration as what he perceives to be ‘war criminals’. It might therefore be worth remembering the odious, anti-secular, violent, homophobic, misogynistic religious far-right war criminals that Galloway happily and publicly supports and funds.

In 2009, Galloway delivered an address in Gaza, in which he proudly states that he will be funding Hamas. Here:

“I, now, here, on behalf of myself, my sister Yvonne Ridley, and the two Respect councillors – Muhammad Ishtiaq and Naim Khan – are giving three cars and 25,000 pounds in cash to Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Here is the money. This is not charity. This is politics.”

Later, Galloway insisted he actually doesn’t fund Hamas at all. It was all – presumably Western, Zionist, Neo-Con – lies:

“I didn’t give any money to Hamas, I gave it to the ministry of health in Gaza to pay for the salaries of the doctors and nurses who hadn’t been paid. By the way, we’re talking about 20 odd thousand pounds, not millions. It’s a symbolic donation. I gave it to the ministry of health in Gaza and I’m proud to have done so.”

He goes on:

“Maybe the Americans, the British, the Israeli’s don’t recognise Ismail Haniyah as the Prime Minister of Palestine, BUT WE recognise Ismail Haniyah as the Prime Minister of Palestine.”

– This horrendous sentiment summarises just why Galloway must be considered of the Islamist far-right, rather than of anything even slightly left. Ismail Haniyah referred to Osama Bin Laden as a ‘Muslim warrior’ whose soul ‘rests in peace’. Haniyah is also imperialistic, believing the entire region Islamic by divine right. He believes that peace with Israel can only come about, if they agree to give up Jerusalem, for no other reason, than being under the delusion that his particular fairy-sky man divinely ordained it for Muslims. If support for violent Islamist imperialism, based on faith is what passes for ‘left’ in the 21st Century, keep it.

hamas
– So flippant. So ignorant. “For all their mistakes”. This is a wonderful way to so effortlessly underplay the violent imperialism, so contrary to liberal, left wing ideals that Galloway at other times professes.
Incidentally, “for all their mistakes” is better articulated by Amnesty:

“The human rights violations perpetrated … have included killings of fugitives, prisoners and detainees, injuries caused by severe physical violence, torture and misuse of weapons, the imposition of house arrest, and other restrictions that have been imposed on civil society organisations.”

– Oh just simple mistakes then. Nothing to stop Galloway funnelling money to the leadership thereby perpetuating the inherently oppressive nature of Hamas.

When you defend Hamas by flippantly dismissing their guiding principle of Theocratic imperialism, you defend violence against other religious minorities in the West Bank, simply for being non-Islamic.
In 2006, a Christian YMCA was burnt to the ground in Hamas-controlled Qalqiliya, by Hamas members. The Christian’s ‘crime’? Being missionaries. A petition had previously been sent to local authority, by Muslim groups demanding:

“We the preachers of the mosques and representatives of major families in Qalqiliya ask you to close the offices of the YMCA because the population of Qalqiliya doesn’t need such offices, especially since there are not many Christians in our city. The act of these institutions of the YMCA, including attempting to convert Muslims in our city, will bring violence and tension.”

– It isn’t just in the West Bank that Christians must be fearful of how the Galloway-funded imperialists running the show might treat them. Imad Jelda, an Orthodox Christian who runs a Youth Training Centre in Gaza, said:

“People here do not celebrate Christmas anymore because they are nervous. The youth in particular have a fear inside themselves.”

– This, after Hamas worked to ensure no Christmas tree would be allowed any more in Gaza City, and Christmas no longer celebrated as a public holiday. Families are split, as Christians travel abroad to enjoy their freedom, leaving older family members in Gaza, unable to celebrate Christmas alone, and unable to celebrate with their dearly missed loved ones. This is the reality of the group Galloway chooses to fund.
But his own logic, appears to contradict his actions. Despite his deep involvement and love affair with the Hamas leadership, when talking to a caller on the subject of underrage marriage in Saudi Arabia, Galloway said:

“What happens in Saudi Arabia is none of your business. It is your business, what happens in Britain.”

– Well, George, what happens in Palestine is none of your business, and yet you seem more than happy to be funding a group that willfully attacks and threatens the rights of minorities. Galloway is of course very hypocritical, but a typical Islamist. Anything that gets in the way of Theocratic dominance, is deemed to be “imperialism”, whilst Islamist imperialism, is defended, and promoted.

When you defend Hamas by flippantly ignoring their guiding principle of Theocratic imperialism, you defend their murder sprees.
If then, you happen to be George Galloway, your 2005 election victory speech seems to be laden with hypocrisies:

“Mr Blair, this defeat is for Iraq and the other defeats that New Labour has received this evening are for Iraq. All the people you have killed and all the loss of life have come back to haunt you and the best thing that the Labour Party can do is sack you tomorrow morning.”

– The key to this, is his focus on innocent lives lost. Well, then we must play by Galloway’s standard. Let’s remember that Galloway not only defends Hamas, he also willfully funds them. This, despite knowing that a year prior to his 2009 funding effort, three Hamas members blew themselves up at Kerem Shalom border crossing, injuring thirteen people. Any attacks, following this, and following his funding effort, Galloway must shoulder some responsibility for, if we are to play by his own logic.

For example, a year after Galloway so whimsically and joyfully funded Hamas, the imperialist group attacked an Israeli settlement near Kiryat Arba, in which Tali Ames, a woman nine months pregnant was murdered along with her partner. They had a five year old child. Kochava Even Chaim was also killed. She was a teacher, with an 8 year old child. Hamas hailed the massacre of pregnant women, and a teacher with a young child, as a “heroic operation”.

Galloway then, knew of Hamas violence, and innocent deaths prior to funding them. He then funded them. And more pointless deaths, achieving nothing, occurred. By his own logic, George Galloway – a man who funds a group who find the murder of mothers, and pregnant women to be “heroic” – is partly responsible for the deaths of those people. He funds a group that wish to establish power for one faith, over the lives of all others. I hope, by his own words, the loss of life, and those killed, haunt him. I doubt they will.

When you defend Hamas by flippantly ignoring their guiding principle of Theocratic imperialism that seeks to cage those who don’t fit its narrow spectrum of 7th century moral teachings, you defend the increasing crackdown on human liberties throughout Hamas-controlled areas.

Those of us on the progressive, liberal, secular side of the aisle, support – and incidentally, “Respect” – the right for human beings to love whomever they wish without oppressive and grotesque ideologies forcing those people to live in fear of their lives. Gender is irrelevant. We must always support LGBT rights as natural human rights considered sacred, and oppose those who wish to oppress. Galloway-funded Hamas, incidentally, seek to harm those who aren’t exactly like them, in abhorrent ways, according only to the dictates of their single faith. For example, Shaul Ganon, of Agudah, a gay rights group in the region, said:

“I know of two cases in the last three years where people were tried explicitly for being homosexuals,they were both beheaded.”

Dr. Mahmoud Zahar (seen stood next to George Galloway in this video a co-founder and senior leader of Hamas, described gay people as being:

“a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick.”

– Does this fall under the flippant “for all their mistakes” that George Galloway thinks isn’t important enough to warrant his express condemnation, and cessation of funding? Where is Galloway’s outrage at the imperial, anti-human rights, destruction of all things those of the left should be fighting to protect against?

It isn’t just gay people that Galloway’s friends over in Hamas have issues with, and believe they have a divinely ordained right to harm. Predictably, for Islamic Theocrats, they don’t particularly like women either.
In 2009 (the year Galloway chose to fund Hamas) the feminist, secularist writer and journalist (those who we on the Left should absolutely be showing solidarity toward) Asma al-Ghul was detained by Hamas, for the terrible crime laughing loudly, around male friends, and not wearing a Hijab. al-Ghul says:

“They also wanted to know the identity of the people who were with me at the beach and whether they were relatives of mine.”

– Subsequently, the men who were with her, were detained, and beaten. This was in July, 2009. Galloway funded Hamas earlier that year. Perhaps his money went to paying the salaries of the Hamas officials who beat men, for hanging around with a woman who dared to laugh.
In March this year, the UN cancelled a planned Marathon in Gaza, because Hamas banned women from participating. Hamas Cabinet secretary, Abdul-Salam Siam said:

“We don’t want women and men mixing in the same race. We don’t want any woman running uncovered.”

– George Galloway therefore, funded a group dedicated to Patriarchy and controlling women.
A month before George Galloway stood in solidarity with the Hamas leadership, promising them funds, Amnesty reported:

“Hamas gunmen have shot dead at least two dozen men since the end of December last year. In the same period, scores of others have been shot in the legs, subjected to severe beatings which caused multiple fractures and other injuries, or otherwise tortured or ill-treated, according to evidence given to Amnesty International. ”

“Most of the victims were abducted from their homes; they were later dumped – dead or injured – in isolated areas, or were found dead in the morgue of one of Gaza’s hospitals. Some were shot dead in the hospitals where they were receiving treatment for injuries they sustained in the Israeli bombardment of Gaza’s Central Prison.”

– Presumably George Galloway saw this, and thought…. “Yes! Abducting people from their homes, shooting them in the legs, dumping their bodies in isolated areas, is the epitome of freedom fighting! Let’s fund them!
As of April this year, the Education Ministry in Gaza, has decided men are no longer allowed to teach girls in schools, and boys and girls are not allowed to share classrooms, after the age of 9. Why? Because Allah! That’s why!

It is of course possible for those of us on the left to oppose restrictions placed on Gaza by Israel, to oppose the similar religious extremism of the far-right in Israel that undoubtedly fuel the fire of Islamic extremism in the region, and help empower Islamist groups like Hamas. We can do this, whilst simultaneously condemning absolutely everything Hamas do, everything they say, and everything they stand for.

George Galloway is not of the left. He is not a fan of democracy. He is anti-secular; choosing instead to fund a group dedicated to combining Mosque and State, and all the hideous oppression that comes with it. He funds a group dedicated to eroding civil liberties, and democratic rights. He funds a group dedicated to the imperialistic dream of Islamism; to control land they believe is theirs by nothing more than a child-like “my God said it’s mine!” rationale. He funds a group dedicated to achieving that imperialist goal, even if it means massacring pregnant women and innocent mothers. He funds a group willing to behead gay people, and detain feminists. He funds, and supports a group that wishes to impose a violently strict code of barbaric Islamist ‘morality’ upon citizens whether they want it or not. This is the antithesis of left-wing, liberal, secular principles, and should be resisted at every opportunity. It is the complete opposite of “Respect”.


Republican Round-up

July 6, 2013

Every week, the extremes of the Republican Party just wont go away. Like a christmas gift you really dislike. You didn’t ask for it, but you can’t take it back, or if you did take it back, you’d get home, and it’d be sat on your kitchen table, to your utter horror. There has been a spectacular array of irritating headlines on offer from the Grand Old Party this week. Here is a quick summary of five of those stories, that caught my attention:

Sex Education is for Soviets:
Louie Gohmert (R-TX) isn’t a stranger to over the top, strange statements to back up political points, as we see with his statement on gun control:

And I pointed out, well, once you make it ten, then why would you draw the line at ten? What’s wrong with nine? Or eleven? And the problem is once you draw that limit ; it’s kind of like marriage when you say it’s not a man and a woman any more, then why not have three men and one woman, or four women and one man, or why not somebody has a love for an animal?

There is no clear place to draw the line once you eliminate the traditional marriage and it’s the same once you start putting limits on what guns can be used, then it’s just really easy to have laws that make them all illegal.

– He managed, effortlessly, to link a slippery slope gun control, to a same-sex marriage slippery slope. That’s impressive by any Republican standard. Not least because it contains two fallacies rolled into one. Both his arguments are the equivalent of: “Well you eat chicken meat, so why not eat human meat?” … completely absurd.

But Gohmert’s obsession with sex didn’t end there. This week he made more wondrous statements, this time on the subject of sex education:

“Mankind has existed for a pretty long time without anyone ever having to give a sex-ed lesson to anybody,”

– This could be used to restrict progress in any subject known to man. Mankind existed for years with slavery, so why not reinstate it? Mankind existed for thousands of years without airplanes and cars, so let’s scrap them. Progress is defined by moving from a primitive stage to a more enlightened stage of human existence. Sex-education, according to Gohmert is fine as it is. It’s not necessary to educate our children. I mean, it isn’t like we’ve had millennia of Patriarchy, sexual oppression, with growing numbers of sexually transmitted diseases whilst an old white man’s womb controlling Republican Party continues to push anti-women sentiment, anti-homosexuality sentiment, anti-contraception sentiment, anti-transgendered sentiment, that absolutely leads to sexual discrimination and bullying in school and beyond and perpetual patriarchy. That’s never happened. Why would we need to educate children away from primitive ideas on sex? Thanks Gohmert.

He goes on to inform us about the time he spent in the Soviet Union:

“I was shocked when they were saying ‘no, the children don’t belong to parents, they belong to the state.’ And if any parent said anything in front of their children negative about the wonderful Soviet Union, then we will take their children away and give them to somebody more deserving. And I just thought how horribly shocking that was, that of course parents were the ones who love the children, not the state. And I thought thank God that we don’t have that in our country.”

– Here, he suggested that sex-ed takes responsibility away from the parents, and places it in the hands of the State. I’m not sure why this only applies to sex-ed, and not, say, geography? And there is no comparison. The purpose of sex-ed is to ensure children have all the available information on their bodies, on contraception, on relationships, on their developments, on the risks and so on. It is not the purpose of sex-ed to take children from their parents, if their parents criticise the President.

The Republican Party: The Party of Poverty.
In my previous article I noted the damage inflicted upon the most vulnerable, when Republicans are in control of the State. In it, I point out:

In Mississippi, child poverty rates are at a shocking 32%, one child or teenager is shot and killed every single week, and infant mortality is higher than anywhere in the country. This, as well as around 60,000 uninsured people living in Mississippi, and yet, Republicans in the State have decided to tackle all of these problems…….. by harshly regulating abortion inducing pills, whilst attempting to make it easier to carry a gun in public.

– Not to be outdone, North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory will sign off on a plan to strip 71,000 long term unemployed people of their unemployment checks. This comes after cutting weekly unemployment benefits by 35%, and repealing an important tax credit for families on the lowest incomes. The extraordinary move to the economic far right was enabled after the Republicans won both chambers of the General Assembly and the Governorship.

This is all possible, because the moment Governor McCrory was elected, the new official appointed Art Pope as State Budget Chief. It’s no great leap to see how the libertarian Pope managed to secure this position, given that, according to The Institute for Southern Studies, Pope (through groups linked to himself) spent $2.2 million on winning 18 out of 22 legislative battles in North Carolina in 2010, spending three quarters of all spending by independent groups in the State that year. The Governor thanked him, by giving Pope free reign to attack whomever he wished; Punishing those who lost their jobs during the recession, further immiserating the lives of the most vulnerable, North Carolina’s Republicans are really trying to challenge Mississippi’s as the winning poverty State. A State that is now privately owned by Art Pope.

On the subject of North Carolina, lawmakers in the State are currently working to suppress minority voting, after the Supreme Court killed the voting rights act. Their proposals include an end to early voting, same-day registration, and a new provision requiring I.D at the polls. All methods to harshly and disproportionately affect African American voters in North Carolina, who tend to vote Democrat.

The GOPs horrifying War on Women:
In a previous article I referred to a number of attacks over the years on women, committed by GOP lawmakers in their continued war on women. This week, Republican Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker took it one step further. Walker signed into law a Bill that forces a woman who wishes to have an abortion, to have a transvaginal ultrasound, for no medical purpose, whether they want it or not. Walker is quite literally asking for Republican politics to be inserted into a woman. Talia Frolkis, a young pro-choice activist in Wisconsin said:

“That’s part of the reason this is so important to me. It is a violation. It is unnecessary penetration, and for some women who are seeking abortions because they’ve been violated already, it’s just going to repeat the trauma.”

– The anti-women attacks by the Republican Party are becoming darker by the day. They are a Party that believe it less intrusive to insist on a vaginally probing a rape victim, than checking the credentials of would-be gun owners. Nothing says “small government” like a Republican Governor insisting that pregnant women have a piece of metal inserted into them without their full approval. Every time a woman in Wisconsin is forced to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound without medical reason, and without her actually wanting to undergo it….. Scott Walker and the Republicans of Wisconsin should be guilty in all of our eyes of sexual assault.

Beware, the ‘Rabid Radical Homosexual Activist Movement’.
Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia, E.W Jackson is angry this week that his comments on homosexuality have been taken out of context. To recap, in the past Jackson said:

“Their minds are perverted, they’re frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality. When they talk about love they’re not talking about love, they’re talking about homosexual sex.”

“Homosexuality is a horrible sin, it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of… It’s an authoritarian, totalitarian spirit.”

– Usually, ambiguity leads to words being taken out of context. The “their minds are perverted, they’re frankly very sick people” and “Homosexuality is a horrible sin, it poisons families, it destroys culture” lines don’t scream ambiguity to me. So, we should really see why Jackson believes his words were taken out of context, and what he really meant. I’m sure we’ll all be surprised by his declarations of love, and compassion:

“I don’t believe that there’s any second-class citizens in Virginia. I don’t treat anybody any differently because of their sexual orientation. But I do think that the rabid, radical homosexual activist movement is really trying to fundamentally change our culture and redefine marriage and do a number of things that I just think are not good at all.”

– In essence, what he’s done here, is cloaked his inherent homophobia behind more creative – but just as unambiguous – language. He’s rephrased the words that were ‘taken out of context‘ to appear less brutal on the surface. He has clearly been told “probably don’t say words like ‘poison’ and ‘they’re frankly very sick’ “. And so he’s omitted the blatantly vicious rhetoric, with slightly more subtle but equally as vicious rhetoric.

In the past, Jackson has suggested that Medicaid is worse than slavery, that LGBT rights groups are worse than the KKK and that President Obama has “Muslim sensibilities“. In summary, E.W Jackson should not be allowed anywhere near a position of power.

Can’t win on merit? Say something that no one has any interest in hearing:
Alison Lundergan Grimes, Democratic Secretary of State of Kentucky has a tough road ahead of her if she is to beat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the 2014 Senate race. McConnell is ruthless, he’s very wealthy, and very negative. He is not a good person. As noted in a previous article, McConnell is loyal to the interests of big business and those who donate to his considerable wealth. In it, I note:

“A couple of years back, McConnell attacked Democrat attempts to prevent foreign companies from financing US public figures and elections. He claimed laws already exist to stop this from happening. He of course failed to mention that existing laws do not prevent foreign corporations with US subsidiaries from channelling money to preferred candidates. This omittance shouldn’t come as too much of a shock, given that McConnell, from 2005 to 2010, received around $21,000 from BAE Systems Inc. BAE Systems Inc is a US subsidiary of the World’s 2nd largest defence contractor, BAE Systems, based in the UK. In 2010, McConnell asked for $17,000,000 of Federal funds to be earmarked for BAE defence improvements, at the exact same time as BAE was under State Department investigation for alleged widespread corruption (including the bribery of public officials). Of course, any link between McConnell’s apparent passion for outspokenly opposing campaign finance regulation from foreign companies who are under investigation for bribing public officials, at the same time as one of them is funding his own campaign – and in fact funding the Mitch McConnell Centre at the University of Louisville to the tune of $500,000 through a subsidiary – is just speculation.”

– Though, McConnell, as of April was only leading Grimes by 4 points according to Public Policy Polling, he is likely to pull out all the dirty tricks at his disposal to make sure he retains his long held seat for the State of Big Business Kentucky. And he’s already begun. Soon after Grimes announced her plans to run against McConnell, his team released this video. Perhaps it might contain his policy plans? Perhaps it might contain his record in office working for Kentuckians? No. Instead, it attacks Grimes, already, for not having a campaign banner and, oddly, having no air conditioning in the room.

Grimes not having air conditioning, pales in comparison to McConnell’s very dirty tricks McConnell has used to ensure Federal dollars keep flooding into the pockets of his donors. McConnell lead all but five Senators, in 2012, to kill the Veteran’s jobs bill, designed to provide training and jobs to Veterans. Similarly in 2012, McConnell lead a Senate filibuster movement to block the “Repeal Big Oil Subsidies Act”, an Act that offers tax breaks to big oil, to the tune of $24bn. Unsurprisingly, McConnell received $131,500 from oil donors in Midland, Texas.
I hope the Grimes team can make issue out of where exactly Mitch McConnell’s loyalties lie.

The Republican platform can be summed up thusly: Those without money have too much and need less. Those with money have too little and need more. Every policy can be attributed to that summation of Republican ideals. The GOP war cry of “Take back America” is sounding more and more like “Take back America….. by about 60 years” every day.