Islamophobia – a reality in today’s world

August 22, 2006 at 6:46 am (Uncategorized)

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingFor those of you who don’t read this blog very often (or hopefully to new visitors), I should make clear that I write as I speak, quite deliberately, very plainly. I also tend to drop a lot of jokes and one-liners into my posts, of variable wit. That does not, however, mean that I am in any way seeking to avoid taking a stance on hard political issues. I just think that it’s important for arguments about complex issues to be expressed in the most accessible language possible, as opposed to the most obscure.

With that in mind, let’s talk about Islamophobia. I’ll explain my stance on the issue whilst discussing the use of the term on the political left. This is an issue that’s been gone over many times before in the context of society as a whole (personally I’m a fan of Zia Sardar’s short article “The Next Holocaust” in the 5th Dec 2005 New Statesman). However, it has rarely been tackled properly in the context of the left, other then by partisans seeking to score points from each other.

I think that, regardless of whether groups like the SWP and sites like “Islamophobia Watch” either deliberately or inadvertantly abuse the term in order to gain political traction, nonetheless Islamophobia is a very real issue across Europe and the USA today, and one that has become appreciably worse since 9/11. It is, or should be, the moral duty of every person in this country who calls themselves any sort of left-winger, progressive or liberal, to stand publicly against what is a form of racism directed specifically at people perceived as “Muslim” (by which is almost certainly meant “Arab” or “South Asian” in reality), and to acknowledge publicly that such racism is primarly directed at Muslims, as Muslims. I find it honestly amazing that such a facile and obvious point should even be a topic for debate on the left. And yet, in some quarters, it is.

Various arguments are made against the use of the term “Islamophobia”. Most of these centre around the fact that Islam is a religion, not a race. This argument is often dismissed as simply stupid (or, in particularly moronic cases, as itself being “Islamophobic”) by leftist advocates of the opposite view. In fact, in the literal sense, it is true – Islam is a universalist religion, to which people of any race can, and do, convert. But in terms of whether Islamophobia exists or not, and what the phenomenon precisely is, this argument is beside the point.

The first and most obvious point, is that sections of the left who don’t acknowledge Islamophobia as a phenomenon, are ignoring the rise in racial prejudice directed against Arabs and Asians across Europe, as Muslims, since 9/11. Recent news stories especially show that this is not just a transient phenomenon. The second is a concomitant rise in a “Muslim” ethnic identity whereby people’s prime ethnic identifier is their religion. These are facts, whether people on the left like them or not, and they will not simply go away if ignored. Similarly, left individuals and groups who make political decisions that do not take proper account of these facts, are simply being irresponsible. This is one of the reasons that I thought, and continue to think, that the AWL’s decision to publish the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons was as politically ridiculous as it was (to me) personally appalling, driven as it was by macho posturing about publishing them “because we can”, and paranoia about a threat from a nebulous and powerful body called “the Islamists”, the precise identity of whom no-one ever did seem to be able to pin down. Aside from the old argument about whether the cartoons themselves were racist (I think it’s clear that they were), there is the rather obvious point that one doesn’t start a rational debate with someone of a religious persuasion by crapping on their doorstep.

This is not an argument for the sort of boneheaded treatment of organised religion as a primary point of engagement with communities, that the SWP seem to be practising (see the not-inaccurate satire of their article about the cricket, below). But it is an argument for acknowledging a very real phenomenon that afflicts some of the most vulnerable communities in the UK and across Europe. And on that basis to engage with those communities all the better.

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So-called "Ball Tampering": No more than Islamophobia

August 21, 2006 at 6:34 pm (Uncategorized)

A special report for Stupid Wanker:

The alleged “ball-tampering” at the Oval is no more and no less than the latest example in a long line of British state-sponsored Islamophobia. The supine parroting of so-called “information” deliberately fed by the International cricket Council’s elitist and imperialist umpiring panel is now widely discredited, despite the ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed’s attempts to smear the heroic Pakistanis. The fact that the instigator of this anti-Muslim outrage, Darrell Hair, is an Australian, is no coincidence: Australia is the only supporter of Bush and Blair’s so-called “war on terror”in the whole of the rest of the world. No wonder Hair was determined to use all means at his disposal to humiliate and disqualify the heroic Islamic team from Pakistan: when you hear the totally biased British media uncritically repeating Hair’s claims of ” deadly ball tampering”, just remember Blair’s claims about so-called “weapons of mass destruction” and the so-called “Forrest Gate” shooting of Charles de Menezes within “45 minutes”. No wonder no-one believes a word that the ICC have to say.

As renowned war reporter Claud Cockburn once said: “Believe nothing until it is officially denied”. Why haven’t more of the supine parrots of the British so-called “media” heard of that quote, and acted upon it.

The official persecution and trial by media of the totally innocent Inzamam-ul-Haq, is clearly because the British secret services suspect him of being the captain of the Pakistani cricket team -solely on the basis of his name and beard – and without a shred of evidence. The official so-called “media” therfore have already found him guilty of deadly ball-tampering and other (unnamed) so-called “offenses”. With sinister intent, Blair’s poodle Speed says “The umpires are meeting to this morning to consider whether there should be any further charges in relation to the refusal by pakistan to take the fiels that resulted in the forfeit of the match.” Speed closed with a typically menacing imperialist threat: “It may be that there is more than one charge”.

Behind this Islamophobic conspiracy lies the hand of Tony “Bliar” Blair and his master George “Bush” Bush – not to mention the Zionist leader of so-called “Isreal”, Ehud “Eliar” Olmert: none of them can bear the prospect of a muslim team defeating them at their national game, so will resort to the foulest accusations of so-called “deadly tampering” to stop the heroic resistance fighters of Cricketballah, who they have been totally unable to defeat by fair play. “It’s just not cricket” is the cry that has gone up from millions of Cricketballah supporters throughout the region.

George Galloway says: “This is a typical piece of Western hypocrisy: Bush and Blair are responsible for, literally, millions of balls. But when one is allegedly tampered with by a heroic fighter like Inzamam-ul-Haq, they cry “foul” and call in their poodles, the so-called “umpires”. No doubt because the Zionists cannot bear the sight of Muslims actually defeating the so-called “West” at its own game! The Stop the War Coalition will be responding with a “cricket match” in Trafalger Square.

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Fruitcakes

August 20, 2006 at 9:30 pm (Jim D, mental health, perversity, twat, wankers)

Dark, sinister conspiracies – preferably set in a dystopian near future – make great films, going right back to Fritz Lang’s 1926 masterpiece Metropolis. The genre more or less disappeared in the 1940’s and 50’s, probably for the same reason that the gangster movie disappeared at the same time: the reality of Nazism and WW2 made such films seem trivial.

But in recent years the sci-fi conspiracy/dystopia picture has made a big comeback with Blade Runner, Minority Report, Total Recall and -of course- the vacuous but highly enjoyable Matrix trilogy. Now we have A Scanner Darkly, based (like the first three in that list) on a novel by the late Philip K. Dick. It’s received rave reviews, not least because unlike previous adaptions of Dick’s work, this film apparently pays attention not just to the technological gimmickry that sci-fi always temps fil makers with, but also the “philosophical dimensions of his work”, the end result being (in the words of the UK Daily Telegraph’s film reviewer Sukhdev Sandhu) “an elegy to a lost generation of drug casualties, an elegy to questers and dreamers and refuseniks”.

So far so good. And the film is, apparently, shot as a conventional movie and then transformed into an animation through a process called ‘interpolated rotoscoping’, that means the actors Robert Downey Jr, Woody Harrelson, Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves “retain their voices, but (are) turned into cartoon figures clearly resembling themselves yet becoming somehow dreamlike and abstracted” (Philip French in the Observer – UK: 20/08/06).

Sounds very promising doesn’t it? And it was definately down on my list of ‘must see’ films, until I read the following, quite casually mentioned almost as an aside in Philip French’s review: “…Linklater (Director Richard Linklater) and his collaborator, Tommy Pallotta, apparently feel the picture is especially relevant to te current American war on terror and that the US government actually perpetrated 9/11 in order to create a police state”.

Now, generally I take the view that art can transcend the formal politics and even the sanity of its creators, to take on an autonimous existence of its own. Wagner was a magnificent composer despite his ‘blood and soil’ nationalism and anti-semitism, Philip Larkin was a great poet despite his Thatcherism and drunken racism, John Ogdon was a wonderful classical pianist despite serious mental illness, etc; etc. But when I hear that someone – an apparently well-educated, articulate, talented and sane film director – and his “collaborator”, believe in all seriousness that 9/11 was the work of the US government “in order to create a police state”, I really have to ask myself whether anything these two fruitcakes put out is worth spending my valuable time looking at and my hard-earned money paying for. The answer is a resounding “no”.

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And I didn’t know they still existed

August 20, 2006 at 9:24 am (Uncategorized)

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From the Class War Federation statement on the Lebanon War:

“The left have adopted two approaches.

Firstly, wholesale adoption of the Islamist agenda, cheerleading Hamas or Hezbollah without qualification or criticism. This ‘Idiot anti-imperialism’, the trademark of today’s SWP, says my enemy’s enemy is my friend and any criticism of them, no matter how mild, is ‘racism, islamophobia, and Zionist pro American warmongering.’

The second approach is slightly more subtle – Hezbollah is fighting back, therefore we must support Hezbollah and the slogan ‘we are all Hezbollah’ is an act of basic solidarity with those who are fighting back against imperialism – the slogan is compared with the Parisian students who, when Danny Cohn-Bendit was attacked in the bourgeois press as a German Jew, marched through Paris chanting ‘nous sommes tout les jiufs allemands!’ (we are all German Jews).

This argument is crap – Hezbollah isn’t a nationality or a racial epithet, it is a political party/militia, if the slogan really wanted to fit then the SWP should have handed out placards proclaiming ‘WE ARE ALL SH’ITE’.”

Well, there it is. And I bet you all thought they’d just disappear with the demise of the “hospitalised copper” column.

Actually I never really “got” Class War as an organisation – they never seemed quite to be part of the anarchist millieu proper, nor part of the wider left. And I really did think they’d vanished by the end of the 1990s – I was surprised to see the statement from which the above exerpt was taken.

The ropey “wit” is obviously at the same level it ever was (witness the oh-so-funny pun on “Shi’ite” at the end of the paragraph above), but my question to any sectariana hunters reading this is: are they actually still going or are they just a phantom web presence?

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The Bush and Blair Corporation?

August 20, 2006 at 7:54 am (Uncategorized)

Here’s a quickie – as ever, I was sitting by the wireless last night, listening to George Galloway in his twice weekly TalkSport slot, “The Mother of All Talk Shows”. One caller in particular brought up the question of George’s recent shouting match with a Sky News presenter. When the caller suggested that there might be issues with Sky’s coverage, Galloway responded that he thought the BBC was “worse” and referred to it as the “Bush and Blair Corporation”.

Now, I know the BBC is state-owned etc, but to suggest (as George seemed to be) that it has a right-wing bias worse than the UK TV news network owned by Rupert Murdoch, seems more than a little bizarre. Particularly given that the majority of negative views attributed to the BBC claim the opposite to what George says – ie that the BBC is hyper-critical of “Bush and Blair”. For example, in a show of the Murdoch media’s objectivity, bookers for presenter Bill O’Reilly on Murdoch’s US network Fox News, tried to badger mediachannel.org’s Rory O’Connor into calling the BBC the “Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation” on-air. When O’Connor refused, he was promptly un-invited from the show. See, now that’s fair and balanced.

I should just make clear that this blog is, of course, 100% certain that TalkSport’s ongoing use of the Sky News service has had no impact at all on George’s view.

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Digital Dave?

August 18, 2006 at 2:34 pm (Uncategorized)

OK. Someone (and I honestly have no idea who) has just emailed me a video, via the contact email on the side of this blog. I can’t decide whether I think it’s brilliantly avant-garde, or just a bit weird. Either way, I thought it was quite funny.

Have a look and see what you think:

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From beyond the grave…

August 18, 2006 at 7:38 am (Uncategorized)

“The British are at the same time doing all in their power to foster the Moslem Brotherhood, a clerical-fascist organization in Egypt”

– Tony Cliff, 4th International, vol. 7 No. 9, Sept. 1946

Wow, that’s harsher language than I would use about the Brotherhood. Any supporters of the “resistance” from a certain political organisation care to comment?

Or alternatively perhaps our Maddy of the Sorrows would like to say something?

(Quote shamelessly nicked from Tom at NewerLabour)

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Prescott in "says something useful" shocker

August 17, 2006 at 10:28 am (Uncategorized)

Wow, that’s the most on-the-ball the bungling fool’s been in the past 9 years of Labour Government.

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Mezz, Trotsky and Others

August 17, 2006 at 12:15 am (drugs, jazz, Jewish music, Jim D, music, trotskyism, wild man)

As some of you will know, I am always on the lookout for obscure, (preferably) jazz-related pieces of historical trivia. I know, for instance, that the ghost-writer of clarinetist / dope-fiend Mezz Mezzrow’s extraordinary jive-talk ‘autobiography’ (actually, a load of entertaining but self-serving garbage) “Really the Blues” was one Bernard Wolf, who’s other main claim to fame was working with Leon Trotsky on *his* autobography, “My Life”. Mezz and Trotsky: what a combination!

But can anyone explain this (from “Jazzbeat” magazine’s “56th Anniversary Special Issue 2005 – but only just received by Yours Truly), in response to a letter about US (official) Communists’ enthusiasm for George Lewis and Bunk Johnson in the 1940’s and 50’s?

A“Basically Starr’s hypothesis was that the American communists felt that by embracing “folk music” they could attract new supporters. This began as early as the late 1930’s when a communist front organisation , The New Masses, sponsored the Spirituals to Swing Concert after John Hammond failed to get the support he’d expected from the NACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored people – JD).

“Starr’s theory also included early connections between Al Rose and Larry Borenstein and Leon Trotsky”

A “Google” search failed to come up with any information about Al Rose or Larry Borenstein: so I’m depending upon you lot.

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Another little chunk of inspiration from Euston

August 16, 2006 at 2:18 pm (Uncategorized)

In another step forward for the blinding re-foundation of the left that is the Euston Manifesto group, they’ve launched an initiative called “Social Democratic Futures”, which is going to be “a vehicle for new left thinking” according to the preamble by ex-AWL/SWP Euston guru, Alan Johnson.

In a sign of things to come, things are kicked off with a rip-roaring article by that radical firebrand James Purnell, Minister of State for Pensions, proclaiming that “Choice and competition can help create self-reforming public services and secure traditional social-democratic values”. Well, be still my throbbing loins…

What marvellous political thinkers can we look forward to next, contributing to this new dawn? Kenneth Clarke perhaps? Actually on second thoughts no, he was opposed to the Iraq war. Michael Gove, maybe? Margaret Beckett? David Miliband?

Only time will tell. Watch this space for more exciting developments.

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