“The racism of the anti-racists.”

March 28, 2010 at 4:38 am (africa, Free Speech, Human rights, immigration, islamism, Jim D, religion, secularism, women)

If you don’t read anything else this week, read this:

http://www.slate.com/id/2248809/

Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: heroine…and standing rebuke to the white, western liberal/”left.”

90 Comments

  1. Vietnam Music: Tha Rang Chia Tay – Cam Ly » Vietnam infoblog said,

    [...] “The racism of the anti-racists.” « Shiraz Socialist [...]

  2. skidmarx said,

    If you’ve got bugger all else to do ,waste a bit of time on this:

    All but calls her “uppity.”
    But doesn’t, but I’ll proceed as if he did.
    It would almost be as if
    But isn’t, but I’ll proceed as if it was.

    And so on.

  3. Jim Denham said,

    …That’s how racism works, Skidders.

  4. FlyingRodent said,

    Well, that’s some pretty badly argued silliness, isn’t it?

    After all, Aayan Hirsi Ali has experienced some terrible things and much of her work is admirable, but she isn’t a saint or the pope – if she says and does daft things or hangs out with a load of horrible right wing freaks, it’s perfectly legitimate to point this out. The idea that criticism is verboten is ridiculous.

    Berman’s lengthy and tedious beef with Garton Ash and Buruma – he’s been at this for at least two years, maybe more – is composed entirely of silly bullshit and the idea that some folk are beyond criticism. I can’t see anything controversial in their statements, most of which are along the lines of previous criticisms of Dawkins, i.e. that he’s right but he doesn’t have to be quite as much of a C U next Tuesday about it.

    That comment about how her appearance has influenced the media’s response to her is just plain common sense, too. Anyone who knows anything about how the print press works would know that she’d have got less coverage if she was fat and ugly, and saying so is an observation of the reality of media sexism, not a dismissal.

  5. Jim Denham said,

    Flying Rodent: this is, fundamentally, a matter of “which side are you on” when it comes to free speech, secularism vs religious fundamentalism…and defending a person who fascistic fanatics want to kill. The likes of Buruma have failed her. They are traitors to the enlightenment and cowards in the face of fundamentalism.

    Your comment that “some folks are beyond criticism” is either a dreadful misunderstanding of what is at stake here, or a shameful betrayal…actually, reading your remarks about Dawkins, it’s now obvious to me that you’re a traitor.

  6. FlyingRodent said,

    …actually, reading your remarks about Dawkins, it’s now obvious to me that you’re a traitor.

    It’s pretty clear that you might be a bit of a nutter, then. I read Dawkins’ last book, enjoyed it and agreed with almost all of it, but he personally can be a bit of a prick, from what I can see. Nothing wrong with saying so either, unless you have no sense of proportion at all and greatly enjoy going all DefCon One on people.

    And if you’re concerned about free speech, secularism etc. then I suggest that Condemning! everyone whose opinions are slightly less belligerent than your own as traitors and bastards is a terrible idea. You’ll catch more fish with a rod and some tasty bait than you will with a blunderbuss.

  7. Jim Denham said,

    Rodent: “It’s pretty clear that you might be a bit of a nutter, then”: OK, Rodent. Would you say the same about *anyone* who’s willing to stand up and be counted? In a strike, say, or in favour of women’s or gay rights?

  8. Jenny said,

    Here’s a few things from David Byrne on the issue that are worth reading:

    http://journal.davidbyrne.com/2009/12/121309-the-limits-of-multiculturalism.html

    http://journal.davidbyrne.com/2007/04/41307_there_are.html

    Granted, the danish government was trying to make amends and the re printing of said cartoons only fueled the fire. And Ali joining that Danish far right party isn’t necessairly helping much either.

  9. johng said,

    “The likes of Buruma have failed her. They are traitors to the enlightenment and cowards in the face of fundamentalism.”

    Rolls around on the floor laughing hysterically. Jim, Jim, don’t you know Bush lost the election?

  10. John said,

    Although it is from last year, I think you may find this book review on Ayaan useful. The author comes from a Muslim perspective and reviews her works. The link is here … it is good to hear other opinions and ideas.

    http://loga-abdullah.blogspot.com/2008/11/defending-our-diin-ayaan-hirsi-ali.html

    Hope you find it interesting.

  11. FlyingRodent said,

    Rodent: “It’s pretty clear that you might be a bit of a nutter, then”: OK, Rodent. Would you say the same about *anyone* who’s willing to stand up and be counted? In a strike, say, or in favour of women’s or gay rights?

    Uh, I would if they did so while also acting like a bit of a nutter. To be clear, that could take the form of denouncing people who issue mild dissent as traitors and cowards. And we are talking some pretty mild dissent here.

  12. saeed said,

    @ Jim Denham…do you know any other somalis?

  13. saeed said,

    read the link below in which ayaan makes crystal clear the nature of her views and erases forever any thought that the perception of her as a “clash of civilizations” extremist might be the result of misreporting or looseness of expression….

    http://www.bakelblog.com/nobodys_business/2007/10/my-interview-wi.html

    You jim, and your mate, berman are a disgrace…

    she has been criticised by ed husain, majid nawaz, laila lami, khaled diab, Halleh Ghorashi (iranina anti-thesit)

  14. resistor said,

    Juicy quotes

    From

    http://reason.com/archives/2007/10/10/the-trouble-is-the-west/1

    Reason: Do you see eye to eye with high-profile AEI hawks such as former Bush speechwriter David Frum and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton?

    Hirsi Ali: Most of the time I do. For instance, I completely and utterly agree with John Bolton that talking to Iran is a sheer waste of time.

    Reason: We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot? In concrete terms, what does that mean, “defeat Islam”?

    Hirsi Ali: I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways. For starters, you stop the spread of the ideology itself; at present, there are native Westerners converting to Islam, and they’re the most fanatical sometimes. There is infiltration of Islam in the schools and universities of the West. You stop that. You stop the symbol burning and the effigy burning, and you look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, “This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.” There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.

    Reason: Militarily?

    Hirsi Ali: In all forms, and if you don’t do that, then you have to live with the consequence of being crushed.

    Reason: In Holland, you wanted to introduce a special permit system for Islamic schools, correct?

    Hirsi Ali: I wanted to get rid of them. I wanted to have them all closed, but my party said it wouldn’t fly.

    etc etc

  15. skidmarx said,

    3. Jidders said:
    That’s how racism works
    What does this mean ? If someone is a proven racist and fascist, with a record of racist statement it is reasonable to look at the statements they make and elucidate the racism behind them.

    or…if think there might be racism behind what someone says then it is fine to say that they are saying whatever you might wish to fit your preconceptions, and then attack the straw man you’ve erected.

    Or maybe you’re saying that you are a racist and that’s how you work. Given your vitriolic denunciations of those that would show solidarity with the victims of imperialism, it’s good that you can finally admit to your bigotry.

  16. doodoo said,

    Even the English Defence League are more subtle than those quotes from Hirsi Ali. They only claim to be against Islamic extremism, not to be fighting a war against Islam itself.

    Hirsi Ali is to Islam what Gilad Atzmon is to Jewishness. An ideological overreaction against something bad that gives comfort to something even worse (or in Ali’s case, actively goes further and joins outright something worse).

  17. Jim Denham said,

    I never claimed to agree with everything Ms Ali has said and written (I don’t): what I do say is that the liberal/left has shamefully betrayed her and other dissident and secular Muslims and ex-Muslims, and that betrayal undoubtably accounts in large part for her rightward evolution.

    I don’t buy the comparison with Atzmon: for a start even the most bigoted and fanatical right-wing Zionists are not threatening Atzmon’s life.

  18. Lobby Ludd said,

    Jim D:

    “I never claimed to agree with everything Ms Ali has said and written (I don’t): what I do say is that the liberal/left has shamefully betrayed her and other dissident and secular Muslims and ex-Muslims, and thjat betrayal undoubtably accounts in large part for her rightward evolution.”

    Call me shallow, but where is this ‘shameful betrayal’ happening? Have the ‘liberal/left’ handed dissidents over to torture by reactionary regimes? Where is ‘Aayan Hirsi Ali’ right now?

    There are any number of victims of vicious reactionary religious regimes. They are not victims because they were betrayed the ‘liberal/left’ in the UK.

    That ‘Aayan Hirsi Ali’ is a reactionary fuck is entirely her responsibility.

  19. Jim Denham said,

    Lobby asks: ” Have the ‘liberal/left’ handed dissidents over to torture by reactionary regimes?

    Answer: no (obviously)…BUT by failing to forthrightly and unambigiously defend dissidents against islamist threats, they have encouraged the bigots and potential murderers. The Baruma’s and Garton-Ash’s of this world have played a shameful, cowardly role. At least Garton Ash has seen the error of his ways and had the common decency to beg forgiveness

    I think the “Slate” article I linked to answers the rest of your points, Lobby: But if not, try this:

    http://www.resetdoc.org/story/00000000430

    If that doesn’t fully explain my point about the betrayal of the liberal/”left” in the face of Islamicism, to your satisfaction, then I don’t know what can.

  20. Waterloo Sunset said,

    There’s two seperate points here.

    The first is the question of whether much of the left has failed to tackle the rise of far right Islamism properly. On that, I’m largely in agreement with Jim. It is the case that much of the left treat right wing Islamists as somehow a special category.

    The other is the question of Ali’s politics. On that I’m with Lobby. She supports implementing an immigration policy that targets Muslims, as Muslims . She has worked closely with Geert Wilders. She does, as has been pointed out, believe in a “war against Islam”. As a whole. Which can only realistically mean a war against Muslims. (And these issues weren’t tackled in either of the pieces linked).

    Those are the opinions of a right wing scumbag. And, like Lobby, I hold her responsible for her own politics, same as I do anyone else.

    Jim, serious question. If an EDL leader came out with exactly the same comments Ali has done, would you stlll be trying to contexualise them or would you condemn that out of hand? Because this comes across to me as special pleading. Just because she’s a Somalian ex-Muslim, that doesn’t preclude the possibility that she’s also a political enemy. And there’s nothing antiracist about treating someone as less responsible for their politics, simply because of their race and (ex religion).

  21. Jenny said,

    I am with Waterloo here.

  22. voltairespriest said,

    Yup. Me too.

  23. Sarah B said,

    I’ve just caught up with this thread and I was interested to read the comparison with Atzmon because it’s one that had occured to me as well – they are both taken up by dubious people to defend borderline racist positions. (Although I do take Jim’s point about Atzmon’s life not being threatened – that *is* an important distinction.) Like others I found Waterloo Sunset’s analysis of the different issues at stake spot on.

  24. FlyingRodent said,

    Jim’s “betrayal” amounts to two journalists penning insufficiently grovelling articles. Buruma and Garton Ash added piffling caveats to what were positive pieces, but for some that’s enough to make them traitors. This is, as I said, lunacy.

    Sure, if Jim wants us to take sides, I think everyone would place themselves in the “Opposed to religious nutters assassinating people for their beliefs” category. That’s very different from “Those who have had their lives threatened must only ever be referred to in 100% glowing terms”.

    After all, I think I can imagine how feminists might react to Ali running off with another woman’s husband – a man with three kids, no less – for instance. I make no judgements – she’s free to do whatever she likes and it’s no business of mine – but anyone who said “That’s really pretty despicable behaviour” would be standing on solid ground.

    And of course, there are plenty of people who believe that criticising certain people is an ultimate betrayal. It’s just that they tend to be on the side of the religious nutters, and not their victims.

  25. Lobby Ludd said,

    Waterloo said:

    “There’s two seperate points here.

    The first is the question of whether much of the left has failed to tackle the rise of far right Islamism properly. On that, I’m largely in agreement with Jim. It is the case that much of the left treat right wing Islamists as somehow a special category.”

    No, the point Jim was making was that particular individuals had been ‘betrayed’, not “that much of the left treat right wing Islamists as somehow a special category”, although I am sure he would agree with that latter formulation.

    For what little it’s worth I am not surprised that much of the left treat right wing Islamists as somehow a special category. It’s something to do with doubting their significance to everyday life in the UK, and a concern that too many people are being demonised because of said right wing Islamists.

    As to the left failing ‘to tackle the rise of far right Islamism properly’, well that begs a few questions, doesn’t it?

  26. Alec said,

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali might hold those unpalatable views she does because she’s bad, or it might be because her experience of austere tribal societies in the Horn of Africa and extreme Wahabism in the Arabian peninsular has coloured her views… or it might be because, like all individuals, she is more likely to be at some point on the continuum between light and dark rather than at one extreme.

    Who knows?

    What’s clear is that she has more personal knowledge of the subject than that failed academic, John Game. Considering the fascists he makes excuses or, or joins in with on their little riots outside Starbucks, he should be very careful about what he says.

    And, of course, she is a standing rebuke to the white, western liberal/”left” – because she isn’t a ‘white’ European lording it over the homogeneous Third World mass.

  27. maxdunbar said,

    I think Hirsi Ali has done a lot of good work in attacking the idea that Islam itself is essentially benign while only political Islam can oppress.

    Islam itself is enslavement of Muslims; we know this, because of the exodus of people from the theocratic world to the secular world.

    And this is also where she runs into problems with her advocacy of immigration restrictions that would have kept Hirsi Ali herself out of Holland when she was on the run in the early nineties.

    Although Western governments go on all the time about reaching out to moderate Muslims, by cracking down on immigration, we are betraying the people we are supposed to be reaching out to.

    So Hirsi Ali is certainly wrong on immigration, as on a couple of other things. However, there’s a sense that Buruma etc use these surface political disagreements (she knows Paul Wolfowitz! She won’t talk to Iran! etc) as an excuse to avoid the wider and far more important issues of basic solidarity.

  28. Alec said,

    I don’t think a direct comparison of Hirsi Ali to Atzmon is fair. Whatever reactionary views on Islam she does have is a long chalk off his full leap into Hitlerian antisemitism.

    What is apposite is a contrast of the loathing of Hirsi Ali with the acceptance of Atzmon by Gameboy et al. Whereas they will insist that Atzmon can’t be antisemitic ‘cos he’s Jewish (Atzmon disagrees that he’s Jewish) [1] they will denounce Hirsi Ali as Islamophobic (sic.) *even* *though* she hails from a Muslim background.

    Personally, I find the likes of Taslima Nasrin and Gita Sahgal to be far more sympathetic and worthy of our support. And Gameboy et al. loathe them (whilst, at the same time, praising Arundhati Roy to the rafters), which is even better.

    [1] Or flatly deny they ever supported this Nazi.

  29. FlyingRodent said,

    “Loathing”?

    Look guys, the article linked in the post is talking about very mild critcisms made by two journalists. Jim reckons these mild criticisms are the vilest, most heinous treachery. As noted, other people object to Ali’s views because a lot of her views are very wingnutty, Geert Wilders-esque stuff.

    I know that it’s less exciting to talk about that rather than flailing around at apocryphal left-liberals who just hate, hate Ali because she’s like, smart, disdains the horrible liberalssess and is harsh on the Islamics etc. Because you know, Buruma, Garton Ash and commenters here are named and their comments up for analysis – what you’re talking about has been pulled out of thin air.

  30. Alec said,

    Oh, lordie, here’s Flying Pissant constructing a bizarre enemy which only he can see. I was referring to the loathing of *Gameboy* *et* *al.* – this song isn’t about you, Rodent (especially as I’ve criticized Hirsi Ali).

    I know what Gameboy et al. would be fighting for in any revolution, but have no fucking clue what you’d be fighting for.

  31. Michael Ezra said,

    I have ordered Berman’s latest book. I hope it is as good as Terror and Liberalism and Power and the Idealists, both of which were excellent.

    • Lobby Ludd said,

      Yeah, but what are you having for tea?

      • voltairespriest said,

        Curling up with a nice bit of scoff and some wine. Lovely. And the Berman book will correct that wobbly coffee table a treat.

  32. Waterloo Sunset said,

    Alec-

    I don’t think a direct comparison of Hirsi Ali to Atzmon is fair. Whatever reactionary views on Islam she does have is a long chalk off his full leap into Hitlerian antisemitism.

    True. She’s closer to Atzmon’s earlier position than where he is now.

    What is apposite is a contrast of the loathing of Hirsi Ali with the acceptance of Atzmon by Gameboy et al. Whereas they will insist that Atzmon can’t be antisemitic ‘cos he’s Jewish (Atzmon disagrees that he’s Jewish) [1] they will denounce Hirsi Ali as Islamophobic (sic.) *even* *though* she hails from a Muslim background.

    Again mostly correct. Although I’d put the SWP previous support of Atzmon down to them being fuckwits who were unable to recognise an obvious antisemite, even when it was staring them in the face. But you’re doing the same thing here regarding Ali. Yes, you’ve criticised her. But you’re still making excuses for, and trying to contexualise, her bigotry.

    Compare and contrast.

    The SWP on Atzmon:

    While defending Gilad’s right to play, that in no way means we endorse all of Gilad’s views. However it is worth noting that he is a Jewish exile from Israel who was a member of the Israeli army.

    Alec on Ali:

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali might hold those unpalatable views she does because she’s bad, or it might be because her experience of austere tribal societies in the Horn of Africa and extreme Wahabism in the Arabian peninsular has coloured her views.

    Thats essentially the same argument.

    Max-

    However, there’s a sense that Buruma etc use these surface political disagreements

    I don’t consider supporting a racist immigration policy and working with Gert Wilders to be a “surface political disagreement”. There is no significant difference between the immigration policy of Ali and that of Nick Griffin. And their views on Islam are essentially the same.

    And it’s something you seem to be coming close to.

    Islam itself is enslavement of Muslims; we know this, because of the exodus of people from the theocratic world to the secular world.

    Here we see you treat Islam, and even Muslims, as a monolithic bloc. You’re going to find yourself in the company of some very dubious bedfellows if you continue down this road.

    • Max Dunbar said,

      ‘I don’t consider supporting a racist immigration policy and working with Gert Wilders to be a “surface political disagreement”. There is no significant difference between the immigration policy of Ali and that of Nick Griffin. And their views on Islam are essentially the same.’

      Geert Wilders is a scumbag, yep. The outlook of Wilders and the BNP is the flipside of Islamism: the same hostility to gay people, Jews, and also most black and Asian people.

      It is Ali’s critics who believe that Muslims are a monolithic bloc – passive believers who don’t mind being ruled by priests.

      Islam is rich and diverse but in pretty much all of its forms it places huge strictures burdens on how people live their lives. It’s enslavement. Like all religions. You don’t become a BNPer or a Eurabist for pointing this out.

  33. voltairespriest said,

    It’s also incorrect that Muslim-majority states are monolithically theocratic. Two of the largest (Turkey and Indonesia) are electoral democracies, as are several others. Even many of those which are not democratic, are far from “theocratic”.

    • Max Dunbar said,

      But that just reinforces my point – when Islam is offered at the ballot box, it’s rejected even by people who live in the nominally Islamic world

      • Waterloo Sunset said,

        Well, yeah. But most religious believers don’t want to live in a theocracy. I don’t think that’s particuarly surprising.

      • voltairespriest said,

        Not really – the AK Parti have won serial elections in Turkey, for instance. Again, “Islamism” isn’t really a one-size-fits-all term, any more than “Islam” is.

    • Lobby Ludd said,

      Max:

      “Islam is rich and diverse but in pretty much all of its forms it places huge strictures burdens on how people live their lives. It’s enslavement. Like all religions. ”

      and:

      “…..But that just reinforces my point – when Islam is offered at the ballot box, it’s rejected even by people who live in the nominally Islamic world.”

      Looks like you understand that ordinary people can reject the enslavement that extreme forms of their religion offer them.

      • Max Dunbar said,

        Yes Lobby – that is the point I have been arguing on and off for the past three years!

  34. Rosie said,

    Yeah, isn’t Iran the only actual theocracy? Afghanistan was, but isn’t any longer. I don’t think even Saudi Arabia is technically a theocracy, more like Ireland used to be in that the clergy wield huge influence and act with a fair amount of autonomy, out of control of the state.

  35. Alec said,

    She’s closer to Atzmon’s earlier position than where he is now.

    Thats essentially the same argument.

    No it’s not. Muslims, as a group, never have been targeted for mistreatment in the way Jews have – even the national socialists in Serbia didn’t roam the world looking for Muslims or Bosniaks [1] to kill.

    Atzmon’s pathopsychology is a documented phenomena, and he did not hail from a society which was treating him [2] in the way Hirsi Ali had been [3].

    Stop being a berk. The elevation of anti-racism to the Communism of the 21st Century – which is what this thread is about – is that the anti-racists such as the Swuppies would call Hirsi Ali an Islamophobe whilst excusing Atzmon.

    [1] Bearing in Bosniaks are not necessarily Muslim.

    [2] Despite what he said, and how much the SWP agreed with him.

    [3] When she was one of those oppressed Third Worldists so deserved sympathy.

  36. FlyingRodent said,

    Alec – Well, feel free to take “Guys” in the plural, non-gendered sense it’s generally taken in these days.

    I’m taking issue with Jim’s idea that Buruma and Garton Ash, hence the wider “white, western liberal left”, have somehow betrayed Ali and become “traitors”. This is ridiculous and hilarious for many reasons I’ve noted above. Does Jim – or anyone else – fancy tackling this, or can we take it that it was a bit of wild overstatement?

  37. Jim Denham said,

    Rodent: : “Does Jim – or anyone else – fancy tackling this, or can we take it that it was a bit of wild overstatement.”

    Answer: no, it wasn’t “wild overstatement.” The failure of the liberal/left and the “hard-left” SWP and its allies, defend secular, dissident Muslims and ex-Muslims (who should have been our natural allies) , has been one of the “left”‘s disgraces of recent years.
    The likes of Baruma and Garton Ash are merely more intellectual and civilised versions of the SWP’s Birmingham organiser of a few years ago, Ger Francis (now a paid bag-carrier for Salma Yaqoob), who supported Islamist thugs physically intimidating a secular Iranian refugee and dissident outside a meeting in Small Heath, Birmingham a few years ago. The SWP and the relativist “left” – in its eagerness to suck up to Islamism – has been a fucking disgrace on this issue in recent years.

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali may (or may not) have been destined evolve to the right: but the “left”‘s betrayal of her and other secular Muslims (coming close – in the case of the SWP – to denouncing them as “bad Muslims”) made that evolution almost inevitable.

    You bet I’m angry about this, Rodent.

  38. FlyingRodent said,

    Yes Jim, but the SWP – particularly the small faction of it you’re talking about – is not “the white western liberal left”. That’s quite a large number of people, and announcing that these journalists are the equivalent, based on Foxtrot Alpha, isn’t that convincing.

    Which particular criticisms Buruma and Garton Ash made do you think constitute betrayal? Which is the most traitorous?

    • Alec said,

      Yes Jim, but the SWP – particularly the small faction of it you’re talking about – is not “the white western liberal left”. That’s quite a large number of people, and announcing that these journalists are the equivalent, based on Foxtrot Alpha, isn’t that convincing.

      Wait a moment, is this the author of Dickipaedia accusing others of constructing phantom opponents?

  39. Lobby Ludd said,

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s politics are entirely her responsibility, and it is patronising to suggest that if only the Brit left had supported her (as opposed to ‘betraying’ her) she would not have become the reactionary that she is.

    What do you suggest the Brit left should have done to support her, and other dissident Muslims? What did the AWL do in her case and those other dissidents? Accusations of ‘betrayal’ in blogs and small circulation publications doesn’t count.

  40. Michael Ezra said,

    It is sadly the case that in recent years that a significant section of the left have failed abysmally to stand up to Islamic clerical fascism. In fact, these same sections often go out of the way to apologise for it and in some cases ally with it. That is why the SWP got into bed with the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) Nick Cohen made these points very well in his 200y book, What’s Left?

    It is a terrible shame that these same sections of the left have not been there for the Iranian green demonstrators. In the name of a misplaced anti-Zionism and anti-Imperialism, these sections of the left can organise tens of thousands of people to march and demonstrate against the State of Israel. However, in June last year as Iranians were correctly demonstrating against the corruption in their election process and the clerical fascism of their own rulers, these leftist sections were not outside the Iranian Embassy with the Iranian ex-patriots in London and they did organise a mass demonstration of their own.

    When I was young, I learned that the left was against racism and against fascism. It is a terrible shame that sections of the left are aligning themselves with the racist and clerical fascist Muslim Brotherhood.

    • Waterloo Sunset said,

      While you might not think they’ve done enough, it’s a simple fact that the only significant solidarity campaign regarding Iran is HOPI. Which undoubtably draws most of its support from the far left. What have liberals or the right done in comparison? For that matter, what have your friends at Harry’s Place done, outside a few blog posts? Why are you not attacking them?

      On top of that, it is the case that some of us, as individuals and as organisations, do actually have contacts in the Middle East. I suspect you can understand why I’m absolutely not prepared to go into any detail on this with you.

  41. Michael Ezra said,

    Waterloo Sunset,

    Where was HOPI when the Iranians were demonstrating outside the Iranian Embassy? I saw a number of people from Harry’s Place there, but I did not see a whole bunch of people from the Communist Party of Great Britain (Weekly Worker) types there.

    In fact, what HOPI is more about is attacking America and European Union and calling them “hypocritical” for arguing that the Islamic Republic of Iran should not have nuclear weapons and attacking Israel, because that is what leftist sections love to do. One need only look at the policies adopted at their AGM (http://hopoi.org/?p=840) to note that HOPI is more concerned with attacking Israel and Zionism than defending ordinary Iranians from the theocratic state.

    At the same time as slating Israel, there is not a single word about Russia and the support that it has provided the Islamic Republic or Iran, let alone any criticism of Russia in its policies adopted at the AGM.

    The policies by HOPI are clearly against sanctions to Iran – any sanctions. In fact, sanctions against the Iranian regime are deemed to be “a form of war.” This is in spite of the fact that many Iranians would like to see sanctions directed in a targeted fashion against the Iranian leadership.

    In short, HOPI is a disgrace.

  42. voltairespriest said,

    In fact, what HOPI is more about is attacking America and European Union and calling them “hypocritical” for arguing that the Islamic Republic of Iran should not have nuclear weapons and attacking Israel, because that is what leftist sections love to do.

    Michael that is such a bunch of crap that it truly is difficult to know where to start. HOPI is, to the best of my knowledge, the only one of the anti-war campaigns with any traction that explicitly opposes the Iranian regime. Amongst its supporters are Iranian leftists. It’s precisely because of HOPI’s anti-regime politics that it gets so much vitriol thrown its way from certain other groups and individuals within the anti-war movement.

    Further, it takes some kind of prism-affected vision to claim that HOPI “is more about” demanding that a regime which it opposes should be attacking Israel and building nukes. And I speak as someone who isn’t a supporter of HOPI.

    As for the playground generalisation about “leftist sections” (whatever that means) loving to encourage Iranian nukes and attacks on Israel, I’m not even going to dignify that statement with an answer, because it speaks rather more volumes about your politics than it does about whatever “sections” of the left you’re referring to.

  43. FlyingRodent said,

    Look, bluntly, in what way has the white western liberal left betrayed Ayaan Hirsi Ali? The post implies Buruma and Garton Ash are particularly guilty. How?

    We’re all in favour of her not being killed by extremists; we’re all in favour of her right to free speech. We’re in favour of her right to live her life however she likes. That doesn’t mean we can’t pick her up on her horrible politics, and let’s not mess about – her politics are pretty horrible. Noting this is no disrepect to anyone.

    As for HOPI – congratulations to Michael Ezra for painting his ballsack green in support of the Iranian protestors. I notice they’re no more free today than they were then, despite my support and yours.

  44. Will said,

    Michael Ezra is a lunatic. this is well known. just read hp sauce (or better still – don’t).

  45. Waterloo Sunset said,

    Where was HOPI when the Iranians were demonstrating outside the Iranian Embassy? I saw a number of people from Harry’s Place there, but I did not see a whole bunch of people from the Communist Party of Great Britain (Weekly Worker) types there.

    HOPI aren’t just made up of the CPGB (who have about 30 people nationally, to the best of my knowledge). And that’s not what I asked you. You specifically criticised the left for not organising any solidarity demonstrations. What demonstrations have HP organised? HOPI organised a day of action in solidarity with Iranian workers on February 10. What equivalent events has HP organised?

    In fact, what HOPI is more about is attacking America and European Union and calling them “hypocritical” for arguing that the Islamic Republic of Iran should not have nuclear weapons and attacking Israel, because that is what leftist sections love to do. One need only look at the policies adopted at their AGM (http://hopoi.org/?p=840) to note that HOPI is more concerned with attacking Israel and Zionism than defending ordinary Iranians from the theocratic state.

    That would be why there are four paragraphs (out of aprox 66) on Israel. Let’s look at HOPI’s position on nuclear weapons.

    We therefore call for a mass grass-root campaign for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, with the following aims:

    • Prevention of development and manufacture of nuclear weapons and other WMDs
    • De-commissioning of all nuclear weapons and other WMDs
    These must be verified by effective democratic, mass based inspection and supervision.

    We call upon all progressive organizations and individuals in this country, in the Middle East and throughout the world to join this campaign. In particular, we call upon the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the UK, and similar organizations elsewhere, to actively promote the above aims.

    The campaign for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons is not a substitute for a campaign for global nuclear disarmament; on the contrary, the former is an integral part and a vital step towards the latter.

    Which parts of that are you against? Just to speed things up, can you give us a list of which countries you think have the nice cuddly kind of nukes and which have the bad kind that kill people?

    The policies by HOPI are clearly against sanctions to Iran – any sanctions. In fact, sanctions against the Iranian regime are deemed to be “a form of war.” This is in spite of the fact that many Iranians would like to see sanctions directed in a targeted fashion against the Iranian leadership.

    Have you got any statistics for “many Iranians” wanting to see sanctions? Or any counterarguments to HOPI’s position that sanctions will strengthen the regime and hurt ordinary Iranians? Or is the latter not something you’re that concerned about, compared to the wider goal?

    It’s very telling that you’ve switched the goal posts from “active solidarity with the Iranian people” to “active support for sanctions”. I suspect your next move may be to switch to “active support for military action”.

    In short, HOPI is a disgrace.

    Is it fair to say that your opposition to HOPI stems from their belief that change has to come from below, as opposed to being imposed by sanctions and/or military action? Or is it that you consider their opposition to the US more important than their support for the Iranian people?

  46. Michael Ezra said,

    Voltairespriest. Let us look at the policies of HOPI shall we?

    http://hopoi.org/?p=840

    Policy1

    “For a Middle East Free of Nuclear Weapons and other WMDs”

    This policy is a really lengthy attack on Israel

    Policy 2

    “Sanctions are a form of war”

    This is basically arguing against any sanctions to Iran irrespective of whether they are targeted solely to Ahmadinejad and the clerical fascists that run the country.

    Policy 3

    “Day of solidarity with Iranian workers”

    Well this is not really about solidarity with Iranian workers is it, Again, this policy is a thinly disguised attack on the West arguing against sanctions. The policy criticises both the “International Transport Federation and the International Trade Union Confederation” who organised “protests against the regime”

    This really is a joke isn’t it?

    Policy 4 (final policy)

    “No to state murders”

    Well, well, this policy does “demand an end to this state murder and repression” but it does not stop there, it has to have a dig at the “Zionist State”

    Reading through these policies and I have done, one would think that it is Israel that is the aggressor state. Why is there no criticism of the Iranian regime talking about wiping the Israel off the map (or erasing it from the pages of time, if you prefer that translation)? The reason is that those in HOPI would like to see Israel wiped off the map and that has been the long held views of both Moshe Machover and Charlie Pottins who were the proposers of two of the four motions. Why is there no criticism of Russia supporting the Iranian regime? Why is there no demand for targeted sanctions against Iran’s rulers and the opposite position was passed as policy – no to any sanctions?

    As I said in my previous post, HOPI is a disgraceful organisation.

  47. voltairespriest said,

    So… would I not be right in concluding that essentially because HOPI doesn’t agree with your views, you therefore think it is not essentially any different from (say) the SWP, and further therefore is a “disgrace”? If so, that’s poor reasoning to put it mildly.

    It’s an anti-war group, Michael. It was set up to oppose a possible attack on Iran, and its policies reflect what it perceives to be the source of that threat. It also does oppose the current regime, and supports dissident Iranians, some of whom it counts amongs its own members. No amount of interpretation/reading of motions passed at its AGM will alter that fact.

  48. Michael Ezra said,

    voltairespriest,

    I do not necessarily mind things that do not necessarily agree with my views. For example I do not agree with all the political views of either the mainstream Labour Party (the biggest left wing party in the UK) or the Conservative parties (the largest right wing party in the UK) but I can see where they are both coming from.

    When it comes to HOPI, as you sate, the organisation “was set up to oppose a possible attack on Iran.” What it has not done is oppose Iran’s continual threats against either America or Israel. There are state sponsored rallies called regularly in Iran that call for “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” These rallies and similar statements from the Iranian leadership do not seem to bother those in HOPI. Well they bother me.

    It is not fair for you to discount what has been passed by the AGM of the AGM and what has not been passed as it is these policies to which the group rests.

    Incidentally, I have not said that HOPI is the same or “not essentially different” from the SWP. However both the SWP and HOPI seem to have one thing in common: a belief that the greatest evils in the world are America and Israel.

    • Lobby Ludd said,

      Anyway, so what did you have for your tea, Michael?

  49. Waterloo Sunset said,

    I do not necessarily mind things that do not necessarily agree with my views. For example I do not agree with all the political views of either the mainstream Labour Party (the biggest left wing party in the UK) or the Conservative parties (the largest right wing party in the UK) but I can see where they are both coming from

    But what you don’t like is anyone to the left of Tony Blair. As your many posts on HP show. Which makes this comment from you obvious concern trolling:

    When I was young, I learned that the left was against racism and against fascism. It is a terrible shame that sections of the left are aligning themselves with the racist and clerical fascist Muslim Brotherhood.

    Can you explain why anybody should take you seriously when you’re being so dishonest?

    When it comes to HOPI, as you sate, the organisation “was set up to oppose a possible attack on Iran.” What it has not done is oppose Iran’s continual threats against either America or Israel. There are state sponsored rallies called regularly in Iran that call for “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” These rallies and similar statements from the Iranian leadership do not seem to bother those in HOPI. Well they bother me.

    So what you’re against, as you state clearly here, is the fact that HOPI’s focus is on Iran, not Israel or America.

    So why are you pretending that the people of Iran are your primary concern?

    Because there’s a really obvious reason for why this focus is there. The Iranian rulers are currently in no position to be a serious threat to Israel, let alone the US. And yet you’d have them focus on that at the expense of the Iranian people, who actually are under threat from the regime.

    Funny that your concern for Israel didn’t stop you going out drinking with a Holocaust denier.

  50. FlyingRodent said,

    At this point, I think Michael should answer Will’s points @44, which look 100% accurate and factual to me.

  51. Michael Ezra said,

    Waterloo Sunset,

    It is not true that I do not like anyone to the left of Tony Blair. What is true is that I do not have much respect for Trotskyist political parties. There is quite a significant gulf between Tony Blair and the Trotskyite group, (to name but one example), Workers Power. Nor do I have respect for those parties that consider themselves on other parts of the revolutionary left, including Stalinists, Maoists, supporters of North Korea,

    You tell me that I am being “dishonest” for arguing that sections of the left allied itself with the racist and clerical fascist Muslim Brotherhood. Before you accuse me of dishonesty again, please read the following essay:

    Richard Phillips, “Standing together: the Muslim Association of Britain and the anti-war movement,” Race & Class, Vol. 50, No. 2 (2008) pp. 101-113.

    (For your information, Race & Class is quite a radical left wing journal.)

    What HOPI’s focus is on is not primarily where it should be: defending Iranians in Iran opposed to the regime. It’s primary focus is defending Iran, including the Iranian government from sanctions against the regime or war against the regime. What HOPI has not criticised is the “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” chants emanating from the Iranian regime. I suspect the reason for that is that those in HOPI agree with the sentiments of those chants. Instead of criticising America and Israel, HOPI should have criticised Russia, but there is not a word in the resolutions passed at its AGM against Russia for its support for the regime.

    Regarding my drink with Gilad Atzmon. Over the years, I have had drinks with many extremists including anarchists, revolutionary socialists from various groups and in various countries,relics from the 1960s pro LSD and peace movement, someone who was awarded a medal by the North Korean regime for something they wrote in support of the country, and the list goes on. There is plenty of stuff that can be seen on the Internet where I have attacked Gilad Atzmon for his political views. Meeting extremists is a hobby of mine. It may be an odd hobby, but I don’t have much interest in football. My actions can be contrasted of course with the SWP who not only defended Atzmon, they invited him to play year after year at their “Marxism” event.

  52. voltairespriest said,

    What HOPI’s focus is on is not primarily where it should be: defending Iranians in Iran opposed to the regime. It’s primary focus is defending Iran, including the Iranian government from sanctions against the regime or war against the regime.

    Once again, Michael, that’s because… it’s an anti-war group that was set up to oppose a prospective US attack. You might as well critice the RSPB for not “focussing” on saving the red squirrel, on Unite for not “focussing” on saving the rainforests, or on CND for not “focussing” on building a case for green power generation.

    HOPI does support dissidents, in point of fact – particularly Iranian leftists and trades unionists who have been attacked by the regime. And its supporters’ attitudes reflect that.

  53. Michael Ezra said,

    voltairespriest,

    Can you explain why HOPI supporters were not out in force demonstrating in front of the Iranian Embassy in London in June along with numerous Iranians? Can you explain why HOPI did not even advertise these protests on their web site?

    What HOPI is really about as it makes clear in its founding statement is the following:

    “The main enemy is imperialism.”

    http://hopoi.org/?page_id=574

    The point being that it does not matter how bad the Iranian regime actually is, Britain and America are worse. As I said earlier, HOPI is a disgrace.

  54. voltairespriest said,

    Let’s put it another way. Rather than rattling off one or another event that HOPI members didn’t show at, answer two straight questions. Do you or do you not accept that HOPI’s position is to oppose the theocratic regime in Tehran? And do you or do you not accept that it counts dissident Iranians amongst its members?

    Both are incontrovertible facts.

  55. Michael Ezra said,

    volatairespriest,

    It does seem that HOPI opposes the theocratic regime in Iran and it has dissident members but you do not also accept the incontrovertible fact, as outlined in its founding statement, that HOPI opposes Britain and America more than it does the theocratic regime?

    I noted you avoided answering my previous question as to why HOPI were not involved in the demonstrations outside the Iranian Embassy last June and why they did not promote them.

  56. Michael Ezra said,

    edit ..

    “but do you not also accept”

    not “but you do not also accept.”

  57. voltairespriest said,

    I don’t know why they weren’t there, Michael, not least because I don’t spend much of my spare time going to any Trot meeting that’s going – I only bother when there might be something of interest to me (as with the Coventry meeting that I have recently reported on). It could be for a whole host of reasons, far from all of which are even related to your claims. Why don’t you ask someone from HOPI (MarshaJane or Stroppybird, for example)?

    What I do know, is that you’re clearly reading a massive amount of negative politics into their non-attendance at an event. Given what else I know about HOPI, I’m not sold at all by your argument.

  58. Michael Ezra said,

    Voltairespriest,

    My big problem with HOPI is not so much that they did not support one event, it is that they see America and Britain a more dangerous enemy than the theocratic regime.

    I have in front of me a short pamphlet produced by the International Marxist Group and published in January 1979. It is entitled Iran: The Unfolding Revolution and was written by Saber Nickbin with a foreword by Tariq Ali. It seems to me that the Marxist left are making similar mistakes now as they did then. Marxists focus a lot on history, but it seems that the Marxists behind HOPI have not learned anything from history.

  59. voltairespriest said,

    So, you disagree with that particular kind of Leninist politics on imperialism. Well, you’re not going to agree with a group whose biggest single political component is the CPGB, are you? I can’t understand why you’re so outraged – it’s as though I were to foam at the mouth over the theoretical perspectives of the Henry Jackson Society: obviously I don’t agree with them, but then I wouldn’t, would I? They’re neocons, and I’m not.

    Nevertheless it’s the case on a practical level that HOPI do oppose the Iranian regime, that they do so explicitly, and that they’ve taken part in solidarity with dissidents in Iran, for instance with the labour movement over there. What’s your problem with that?

  60. Michael Ezra said,

    Yes, It is true I am not going to agree with the CPGB, backers of Stalin

    http://hurryupharry.org/2010/04/03/from-the-vaults-the-times-august-31-1939/

  61. voltairespriest said,

    Umm, that’s not the same group, Michael.

  62. Michael Ezra said,

  63. Max Dunbar said,

    The fact is that most of the Iranian people do not want war. Shirin Ebadi said that the crimes of Western governments in propping up the Shah, supporting Saddam in the Iran/Iraq war etc are too well remembered – and so they should be.

    Given that Iran has nukes, an invasion would be disastrous and although I don’t think it will happen, I understand why people would be afraid and want to campaign against it.

    Michael has a good point about the sanctions but hasn’t really justified his accusations against HOPI about the anti-Israel stuff. I mean, what’s wrong with calling for global nuclear disarmament? It’s more than our British CND has done.

    • Lobby Ludd said,

      “Given that Iran has nukes, an invasion would be disastrous and although I don’t think it will happen, I understand why people would be afraid and want to campaign against it. ”

      You what?

  64. voltairespriest said,

    Michael: yes, really. The bold-type emphasis is mine:

    The Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee) is a political group which publishes the Weekly Worker newspaper. The party favours the creation of a unified “Communist Party of the European Union”.[3] It is not to be confused with the now-defunct Communist Party of Great Britain or the Communist Party of Britain.

    Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee) Wikipedia entry

  65. Michael Ezra said,

    Actually, using your own Wikipedia source, (not necessarily a reliable source, but as you have used it,I shall play along) the CPGB(PCC) until 1977 was part of the CPGB. Consequently it is the same organisation that used to defend Stalin. I shall provide an example from their writings:

    In brief, Deutscher’s book on Stalin is an anti-Soviet tirade based on distortions, gossip, and blatant lies. History will not require Deutscher’s opinion on Stalin. The enormous achievements of the Soviet Union, the immortal victories over the fascist armies, the growing might of the Communist influence and the building of a Communist society are the monuments to Stalin’s greatness. [Emphasis added]

    http://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/sections/britain/periodicals/communist_review/1950/01/x01.htm

  66. voltairespriest said,

    The point in the Wiki entry about the Weekly Worker group’s provenance is accurate, Michael. A simple Google search will give you plenty of evidence that corroborates it.

    Your second point is just gobbledegook. Yes, some of the current CPGB leadership used to be in the CPGB (I think you’ll find the total is in single figures), but to take that to mean that they are therefore the same organisation as the old CPGB is a nonsense.

    For a start, the two organisations led separate existences for some time before the old CPGB’s collapse, for another thing the two organisations have very different politics, and for one more thing, I very much doubt that most of the “current” CPGB’s members were ever in the old organisation.

    In terms of the old CPGB’s political heritage, the modern Communist Party of Britain, a much bigger and more influential group who still use the bones of the old CPGB’s political programme, have a better claim. The old CPGB organisation itself wound up altogether in 1991, becoming the short-lived group called “Democratic Left”. Neither of those groupings has, or ever had, anything to do with the organisation which today calls itself the CPGB.

    Do you think that the AWL “is” the old International Socialists just because most of its members still around (which again, is a minority of the total membership) from that time were in the old IS? On your logic, you would. For that matter, one of the executive members of West Midlands CAMRA is also in the Socialist Party. Does that mean they’re “the same” organisation?

    Face it, Michael. You’ve simply gotten your facts wrong.

  67. Michael Ezra said,

    I have not got my facts wrong.. The split did not occur until the 35th Congress of the party in November 1977 and as such until that point in time, the party backed the Soviet Union and followed the Soviet line. Hence in 1939, after the Stalin-Hitler Pact, they were against war and after Hitler invaded Russia, they were in favour of war. They fully supported Stalin until Khrushchev’s speech when he denounced Stalin. Their policies were basically anything that the Soviet Union determined should be their policies.

    More on this can be seen in the following reference:

    John Callaghan, The Far Left in British Politics, (Basil Blackwell, 1987) pp. 161-180

  68. voltairespriest said,

    November 1977 was more than 32 years ago, and as you correctly state, the small group of people who formed the Weekly Worker group has been outside of the CPGB ever since then.

    The CPGB itself carried on until 1991, as John Callaghan would doubtless be the first to tell you, the Leninist Group (as the Weekly Worker people were then known). The CPB (which continues most of the old CPGB’s politics, and contains far more of its former members than the Weekly Worker group does) continues to this day.

    They are not the same organisation as the old CPGB. They’re a small group which has members who used to be in the old CPGB. You got it wrong.

  69. voltairespriest said,

    For that matter Michael, to the best of my recollection, one of your favourite Trotskyists – Sean Matgamna – was at various points in his political history a member both of the CPGB and of Gerry Healy’s Socialist Labour League (the precursor of the WRP).

    AWL’ers (or Sean himself) may wish to correct me if I’m wrong there, but I’m pretty sure that’s the case.

    Perhaps you therefore think that therefore the AWL “is” both the CPGB and the WRP?

  70. Michael Ezra said,

    voltairespriest,

    What happened in 1977 is of little interest to me. What happened in the period when Stalin was in power is of far more interest. It is absolutely clear that the CPGB defended Stalin and followed the Moscow line. This can be seen in detail in the following illuminating essay:

    Alan Campbell and John McIlroy, “Is CPGB History Important: A Reply to Harriet Jones,” Labour History Review, Vol 68, No. 3 December 2003, pp. 385-390

    You complain that 1977 was more than 32 years ago, but Marxist-Leninists of all stripes go on and on about the events in Russia in 1917 which was in a different country to the UK and over 92 years ago.

  71. Michael Ezra said,

    On the subject of the AWL, that organisation defend Trotsky, the Butcher of Kronstadt. I have no idea why any sane person would consider themselves a Trotskyist unless they generally support violence and murder. Robert Service summed up Trotsky quite neatly in his recently published biography of the man.

  72. voltairespriest said,

    Whatever the old CPGB did or didn’t say about Stalin, Michael, it still isn’t the same organisation as the one which today calls itself the CPGB, which was your original, incorrect, claim.

    As for citing 1917, take your complaint up with someone who does that on a regular basis. I don’t.

  73. voltairespriest said,

    PS so, do you think the AWL “generally support violence and murder” then? Or perhaps you think they’re all insane?

  74. Michael Ezra said,

    voltairespriest,

    I think I have made myself clear. Any member of the CPGB that was a member prior to 1977 was in a party that took the Soviet line. I accept that this is relevant for older members. However, last year, as part of my visits to meetings held by extremist organisations, I attended a public debate held by the CPGB in London. The average age of THE MAJORITY of people in the room, was high enough that they could have been active in the party prior to 1977 and many substantially before that. (That does not mean to say that they were members of the party or that the age of people in attendance reflects the current membership.)

    I think that anyone who supports Lenin and Trotsky (or Lenin and Stalin for those that do) support violence and murder, because that is what they were – pro violence and pro murder. If any of the members of the AWL or any other Trotskyist party bothered to read S.P Melgounov’s The Red Terror in Russia (J.M. Dent & Sons, 1925), they would realise the brutal techniques used, but they either do not read it, or simply do not care.

    When Trotskyists, as I witnessed members of the Militant Tendency do, sing “Hang the Tories from the lampposts, when the red revolution comes,” what is one supposed to make of it? That they do not support murder?

  75. voltairespriest said,

    Absolutely, you’ve made your position perfectly clear. What conclusions our readers may choose to draw from it, I leave up to them. In particular I leave it up to those such as Jim who are members of Trotskyist organisations, whom you believe to be supporters of murder.

  76. Michael Ezra said,

    Voltairespriest,

    Thank you. Please tell Jim to read up on the Kronstadt uprising and come back to me. In the interim, I am off out. I wonder if I shall spot anyone selling any newspapers with words such as “Workers”, “Revolutionary”, “Socialist”, “Power” , “Fight” or “Hammer”, in the title.

  77. voltairespriest said,

    Depends where you habitually spend your leisure time, I suppose. There don’t tend to be many about in my local pub.

    As for Kronstadt, I daresay Jim et al are aware of it already, but thanks for your concern.

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