The state of Israel is to blame for everything

April 22, 2009 at 12:30 pm (anti-fascism, Anti-Racism, anti-semitism, Iran, israel, Max Dunbar, religion)

Following on from Comrade Charlie’s post I thought it would be useful to collate a round-up of the reaction to the consequences of inviting a genocidal racist to address an anti-racism conference.

First up is Seth Freedman who says, essentially: what else did you expect?

Inviting the Iranian president to take centre stage in such a high-profile forum was always inevitably going to be a recipe for disaster, in terms of what the UN ostensibly hoped to achieve with the Durban Review Conference – so what did anyone really expect to happen when Ahmadinejad stepped up to the plate?

In Ahmadinejad’s myopic worldview, the only country worth singling out for criticism is Israel; the only ideology worth hauling over the coals is Zionism. His own personal crusade is so inextricably linked to the Israel-Palestine imbroglio as to render any hopes he would have used his platform to talk about anything other than the I/P conflict utterly redundant.

Also at CiF Brian Klug has set a fun quiz. Of the three quotes below, two of them are from ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ and one is from Ahmadinejad’s speech.

A. ‘In our day, all the governments of the entire world are consciously or unconsciously submissive to the commands of this great supergovernment of Zion … All affairs – industry, commerce, and diplomacy – are in the hands of Zion.’

B. ‘In social and political circles, in business and art, wherever one probes, Zionism raises its ugly head … and suddenly reveals itself ubiquitous and all-powerful.’

C. ‘[Zionists have] penetrated into the political and economic structures including their legislation, mass media, companies, financial systems and their security and intelligence agencies … to the extent that nothing can be done against their will.’

Can you guess which piece of poisonous rhetoric comes from Iran’s cretinous ruler? Were you right?

On to the blogs now. Over on Chas Newkey-Burden’s site (steady, Comrade Resistor!) there is a guest post from Alex Dwek, who is at the conference.

So Ahmadinejad was introduced by the president of the conference. The room was tense, emotions were on edge. We had no idea what was awaited us. At this point I looked around the room and saw that Elie Weisel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner was sitting a few rows in front. I had always wondered what it must be like for a survivor of the Holocaust to witness 60 years on the President of a country denying that such atrocities ever took place.

Ahmadinejad began to speak. No sooner had he got a few words in when there was shouting and chaos. Two men in clown wigs were shouting and running towards the stage throwing clowns noses as the President of Iran! (The two guys, were members of the French Union of Jewish Students, who had managed to get onto the plenary floor!)

The NGO room went absolutely crazy, cheering and screaming. Ahmadinejad continued, but the NGO room was still going mad with people out of there chairs running around. The sound for the English interpretation was not working. The students were going mad, along with Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, who was also in the NGO room. There were shouts of: ‘This is a deliberate attempt to prevent us from hearing him’ and ‘This is a breach of our human rights’. There were also calls from others in the room that this was all part of the Zionist’s plan. This developed into a minor confrontation.

A big debating point is whether anti-racist delegations were right to walk. Stay or go? Boycott the whole event on the chimney-sweep wrestling principle or attend and challenge racism? Azarmehr thinks they should have stayed:

By walking out [these delegations] allowed Ahmadinejad to babble on without being challenged and they allowed him to become the champion of the Arabs. For example imagine if a representative of one of those countries that walked out, stood up to Ahmadinejad’s wolf cries for Gaza and reminded everyone that five times more Iranians were killed in the two months during the 1988 massacre of Iranian political prisoners by the Islamic Republic than were killed by the recent conflict in Gaza.

Or one of them who walked out could have asked if Israel is such a racist genocidal regime, why did the Islamic Republic buy arms from Israel during the Irangate affair?


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Anti-semitism at Geneva conference

April 20, 2009 at 5:41 pm (anti-semitism, Champagne Charlie, fascism, Iran, israel, Middle East, Racism)

The holocaust denier and clerical fascist Ahmadinejad was – disgracefully – invited to addess the UN’s “anti racism” conference in Geneva. Predictably, this loathsome piece of scum launched into an anti-semitic attack on Israel’s very existence, refering to it having been created on the “pretext of Jewish suffering” from World War Two, and the (supposed) Western policy of sending “migrants” to occupy Palestine.

On a positive note, Ahmadinejad was heckled by anti-racist protesters, and many delegates walked out.

What will the Western “left” have to say about this incident? Especially those who are on record as excusing  Ahmadinejad’s holocaust denial, and who – basically – agree with what he says about Israel?

We’ll be keeping an eye on the anti-semitic “left” over the next few days.

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No other way to be here

April 20, 2009 at 2:07 pm (Civil liberties, literature, Max Dunbar, Pornography)

roth1After going to a No2ID benefit the other night I was wondering exactly what it is about the prospect of having to carry an ID card that inspires such anger. After all it’s not necessarily the physical card itself but more the register that the card would be connected to that is so problematic.

That got me thinking about the idea that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. Have you ever read a more base and vicious and stupid slogan. It seems to go beyond the offence of banality to piss upon the fact of human complexity.

One of the many reasons I respect Nightjack the English Detective is that he did what so many bloggers do not do – he turned up, said his piece and got out. His blog is no longer updated but it is well worth reading this reflection on civil liberties in the light of the Jacqui Smith prono scandal. Emphasis is mine:

“Nothing to hide, nothing to worry about” really is a very, very stupid take on things, right up there with “No smoke without fire“. Nobody I know has nothing to hide. Nobody I know wants the government arranging for the blanket collection and analysis of the huge amounts of personal lifestyle data currently proposed. That’s nobody. Nobody at all.

That’s it. No one anyone knows has nothing to hide. We all have something to hide. Not necessarily something illegal, or immoral – but it is there. I wonder if Smith’s husband reflected on this after having his sorry little sin exposed to public derision. We all have things that are hidden and things that we fear.

And then I was rereading Philip Roth’s The Human Stain, a great book about secrets and the fantasy of purity, and I found this:

Nobody knows, Professor Roux. ‘Everyone knows’ is the invocation of the cliche and the beginning of the banalization of experience, and it’s the solemnity and the sense of authority that people have in voicing the cliche that’s so insufferable. What we know is that, in an uncliched way, nobody knows anything. You can’t know anything. The things you know you don’t know. Intention? Motive? Consequence? Meaning? All that we don’t know is astonishing. Even more astonishing is what passes for knowing.

The second sentence could easily apply to the ‘nothing-to-hide-nothing-to-fear’ cliche.

Roth goes on to say this:

That’s how it is – in her own dry way, that is all Faunia was telling the girl feeding the snake: we leave a stain, we leave a trail, we leave our imprint. Impurity, cruelty, abuse, error, excrement, semen – there’s no other way to be here.

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“Reclaiming Labour” – political necrophilia

April 18, 2009 at 11:05 pm (labour party, socialism, voltairespriest)

So Alice Mahon has become the latest in a long line of members to turn in her Labour Party card, citing the Damian McBride affair as the final straw following a long period of discontent (h/t – Stroppy). Various people appear to be sad about this, albeit that no-one’s surprised. What I do find surprising though is how on earth in this day and age, anyone with progressive left-wing politics manages to justify remaining a member of Gordon Brown’s party. And that brings me to the central topic of this post.

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard anyone who isn’t an idiot even attempting to defend the government’s record and using it as a reason for remaining in the LP. “Well you might not agree with X, but Y is a progressive policy” was the constant refrain in the early years of the Blair government, but the Iraq war finally quelled the vast majority of those voices – those that hadn’t already torn up their membership cards and walked at any rate. So that’s not your reason for staying, is it, LP socialists?

It’s not entryism either. There used to be substantial numbers on the UK left who joined the LP as a way to gain leverage for transitional demands and to argue their politics in a class-conscious political forum whereby the Marxist movement could gather political momentum. The changed structures of the party have now rendered that political position nonsensical, which is why it is adhered to these days only by the odious careerists of Socialist Action, the nostalgic Grantites of Socialist Appeal and a few random ex-members of Trot groups (sorry, I mean “Independent Socialists Who Are Very Important) whose politics are basically frozen in time from the moment that they left said entryist group. So no, it’s not entryism.

Which brings me to the two crap excuses. The first one is sometimes overtly stated, and could be called the “only game in town” position. This position holds (quite correctly) that the extra-LP left is totally atomised and has no political influence. Therefore adherents of this position argue for remaining in the LP because “it’s big”, “the Tories would be worse” or “there’s nothing else”. Of course it chooses to ignore the fact that the argument is vacuous: it could be used about any grouping anywhere, and is a totally apolitical reason for being a member of anything. For example, the Scout Association is also “big”: people who leave it are therefore no longer members of a “big” group. Furthermore, there are many things “worse” than the Scout Association. Let me put it in simple terms. The Labour Party is indeed big. Much, much bigger than any left group or coalition. It is, however, really shit. And you don’t run it. And you’re not going to. Ever. They won’t let you, and you can’t make them let you because there are no democratic mechanisms via which you could take control of it, even if there were enough of you – which there aren’t. It is a dead parrot. Forget it. I hope that spells out my objection to this argument.

Finally, I suspect, comes the real reason, which is that people have just got so far into the habit of being LP members that they’d find it a wrench to admit the truth that’s staring them in the face. It’s a lot easier to hang on to your cards, pay your subs, go to John McDonnell or Tony Benn meetings, hang about on demos and sit in pubs in liberal parts of town talking about organic markets and restaurants left wing politics of days gone by, than it is to admit that the game is up, the party’s over, and we need to start again. The trouble is, it’s the political equivalent of lusting after a corpse: it’s just a twisted reanimation of a love which has long since been lost. You can’t reclaim something that’s dead, and pretending to yourselves that you’re not living in the past just prolongs the pain. And if you really are staying just because it’s a lifestyle, well then that is just pathetic.

Time to leave, comrades. Step into the cold light of day. It’ll hurt at first but you’ll feel better for it in the end.

Update – what’s more, that man with the silly ‘tache isn’t finished with the whole rotten cabal of them, either.

Update #2 – latest polling has Labour at sub-1983 levels of support, and the Tories poised to gain a 3-figure parliamentary majority. And let’s not forget that polls usually overstate Labour’s numbers.

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Wonderful eccentrics we have known

April 18, 2009 at 12:16 pm (funny, good people, voltairespriest)

I got a little trip down memory lane yesterday courtesy of the Grauniad Diary, which had a short story about a Hertfordshire Liberal Democrat councillor.

When I was a student some years back, I was a regular attender at the University of London Union Council, which was basically a beery club of Student Union bureaucrats who hung around sneering at the NUS for being crap, and also spent many evenings taking the piss out of each other in a more genial fashion. However there were some stalwarts determined to take it seriously.

One of those was Allan Siao Ming Witherick, a truly lovable character who if I remember rightly was a student at UCL. He would run for office on a regular basis, always lose, but kept coming back for more like the plucky soldier he was. He was of those people who nobody disliked, and even though I never voted for him it actually saddened me that he never got his hands on one of the posts he so clearly coveted in a political forum which he loved. I can still remember him passing our delegation his leaflets and gamely pointing out the “loan does not equal a grant” symbol on the front, before bounding off towards the people from Royal Holloway, presumably to discuss rugby or whatever Allan had decided would swing votes from that union in his direction.

Indeed, in one of my very rare successes in Student Union politics, I once beat him to a minor ULU elected position, albeit only just. He had clearly spent some time preparing, whereas I had spent the previous few hours in the bar, ranting at my fellow students about some obscure point of left-wing politics or another. Nevertheless I managed to slur out enough coherent sentences to scrape past him by a wafer-thin margin, a fact that in some ways I now rather regret.

Imagine my delight then to see that not only has Allan been elected to a grown-up political body, but also that he is still breaking new campaigning ground by speaking about his views on Council Tax freezes and other crucial issues… via the medium of rap music. He always was, is, and ever will be, a legend. Keep trucking Allan.


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The Old Man Of The Mountain

April 18, 2009 at 12:45 am (comedy, jazz, Jim D, wild man)

Something for the weekend, with Betty Boop and Cab Calloway. Them Fleishers sure was surreal:


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The ugly side of showbiz

April 17, 2009 at 12:45 pm (Jackie Mcdonough, music, TV, women)

A plain, chubby, middle aged woman with heavy eyebrows is selected to appear on a TV talent show. Before performing she tells interviewers Ant and Dec that she’s unemployed, “never been kissed” and lives alone with her cat.

The audience laughs and jeers when Susan steps forward. Judges Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan make no attempt to hide their revulsion and amusement. Then she opens her mouth to sing…

So now the producers, live audience and TV viewers of Britain’s Got Talent can feel really good about themselves. They’ve given an “ugly” woman a chance. Warms the cockles, eh?

Or maybe not. I can’t improve on Tanya Gold:

“Susan will probably win Britain’s Got Talent. She will be the little munter that could sing, served up for the British public every Saturday night. Look! It’s ‘ugly’! It sings! And I know that we think this makes us better people. But Susan Boyle will be the freakish exception that makes the rule. By raising Susan up, we will forgive ourselves for grinding every other Susan into the dust. It will be a very partial and poised redemption. Because Britain’s Got Malice.

“Sing, Susan, sing – to an ugly crowd that doesn’t deserve you.”

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Urgent appeal from Iraqi LGBT

April 15, 2009 at 6:00 pm (anonymous, Civil liberties, gay, Human rights, iraq, Jim D, lesbian)

Faz V forwards this most worthwhile appeal:

URGENT – Dear Friends and Donors of Iraqi LGBT


Dear Friends and Donors of Iraqi LGBT This is an urgent appeal for donation to all our friends and supporters all around the world to help us with our new campaign and demonstration and to continue the fight for lgbt rights in Iraq .


Donations helps activist inside Iraq to continue monitoring, reporting the situation for our lgbt community all over Iraq .


With over 24 activists around the Iraq putting their lives at risk to help, support the lgbt rights movements.


We need to pay for their phone calls, transportation, and accommodation and food.  


Thank you for your support and kindly ask that you pass the word around that if anyone wishes to make a donation to help Iraqi LGBT in its work to maintain safe houses and work that we coordinate from London .


You can choose to use the paypal method, our paypal email address is or you send a check in GBP no other currencies please payable to (Iraqi Lgbt) and send it to:


Iraqi Lgbt

22 Notting Hill Gate

Unit 111

London, W11 3JE

United Kingdom


Also Read:


Independent 13/04/09
“Dozens of young men and boys killed by death squads in Baghdad”: uk/news/world/middle-east/ iraqi-leaders-attacked-ove r-spate-of-homophobic-murd ers-1668013.html

Daily Telegraph 13/04/09
Iraqi leaders ‘ignoring murder of homosexuals’: /news/worldnews/middleeast /iraq/5147219/Iraqi-leader s-ignoring-murder-of-homos exualsira.html

BBC 13/04/09
“Fears over Iraq gay killing spate”: /world/middle_east/7996487 .stm

NY Times 7/04/09
“Iraq’s Newly Open Gays Face Scorn and Murder”: 9/04/08/world/middleeast/0 8gay.html?ref=middleeast

Denver Post 12/04/09
“Killing Gay Iraqis shouldn’t be ignored”: opinion/ci_12110664

Denver Post 9/04/09
“Polis takes Iraq to task over attacks on gays”: news/ci_12103017


Ali Hili – Iraqi Lgbt
22 Notting Hill Gate
Unit # 111
London , W11 3JE
United Kingdom
Mob: ++44 798 1959 453
Website :

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An absolute epic fail from Amazon

April 14, 2009 at 11:13 pm (Caroline S, censorship, Feminism, Free Speech, LGBT, Pornography)

Image found at CRAIG’S POP LIFE.

Via Audacia Ray (on Twitter): Amazon US have removed the sales ranking from “adult material”. Adult? Why, sexuality, lesbian, gay, transgender, feminist and, um, other smutty porn books, of course.
The sales rank, as you can see from the picture, on the left is under ‘Product Details’ at the bottom of the list. On the left is the product details of Kitchener’s Last Volunteer (I picked that just because it’s top of my wishlist). Below right is the product details of Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, a title I got from Helen G. Note the missing “sales rank”.Heather Corinna (on her Amazon blog) explains:

In other words, it [her book] is no longer listed in the sales ranks with other books of its subject or genre, no matter how good my sales are, or if my sales are above others who are currently listed. As well, my book, as is the case with many others, is not currently listed anymore in the subject heading appropriate to it. That deranking can massively impact us as authors, and also can impact consumers, particularly those who are trying to seek out material on a subject broadly without knowing what books are available by title or author. And with books that serve any sort of marginalized population or subject matter, finding them offline is often tough. Deranking books like mine further marginalizes the already marginalized.

(See also this article for more information on Amazon sales ranking, thanks to Dacia for sending me the link).

Here’s a list of some of the books from Meta Writer and another list from Jezebel affected by this. Up there at the top, I see Brokeback Mountain, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit and The Well of Loneliness have had the treatment. Jesus. This is scary – what is happening here is actually incredibly disturbing. To be honest, I’m still absolutely stunned.

So what can we do? Craig Seymour, who has been on this from the start, has a round up. Smart Bitches proposes Google Bombing – “As always, fuckwittery should not go unrewarded”:

All you have to do is link to the page using these words: Amazon Rank. The more you do it, the higher up in rank the page will go, and the more successful it will be. One would hope.

The goal: that “Amazon Rank” points to the definition that underscores’s shortminded censorship and inconsistent policing of what ought to be accessible to the book buying public.

Also, there is an online petition you can sign, a call to boycott Amazon, fill out their customer complaint form, ring them or you could email them – here’s an example of what someone wrote to them. Finally, keep an eye on what’s being said on Twitter by searching for #amazonfail.

This is very reminiscent of Google’s indexing, which makes it all the more disturbing. It’s like the internet’s being “cleaned up” by the damn Christian Right.

Edited to add: Don’t you just love how Mein Kampf keeps its rank? Hell, Adolf fucking Hitler’s books fine, that Winterson woman though? She dangerous.

Also, via a commenter at Jezebel‘s:

Wanna hear something that will really make your day? Now because of this who sales rank thing when you search for Homosexuality in the Amazon search engine guess what is the first book that pops up? A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality!

It’s true, for both US and UK Amazon (click to enlarge).

Cross-posted at Sex In The Public Square and Uncooler Than Thou.

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Hillsborough 20 years on

April 12, 2009 at 3:51 pm (hell, history, Jim D, sport, workers)

Hillsborough 20 years on – truth, acknowledgment and justice still lacking

by Will, 11 April 2009


Death on the Terraces: The Contexts and Injustices of the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster — PHIL SCRATON (pdf)

The significance of the Hillsborough disaster is not limited to its broader context and immediate circumstances. A sequence of injustices followed: the appalling treatment of the bereaved and survivors by the police and other authorities in the immediate aftermath; the inhumane police and coronial procedures adopted for body identification of loved ones; the conduct and outcome of the inquests; the systematic review and alteration of police recollections, their transformation into criminal justice statements and Taylor’s acceptance of the process; the judge’s direction of the jury in the private prosecution of Duckenfield and Murray; the taking of body tissue from the deceased without the knowledge or permission of the bereaved. And Eddie Spearritt has received no information regarding his whereabouts between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. when he was admitted to intensive care. The aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster reveals the shortcomings, failings and manipulation of the state’s systems of inquiry and investigation. Over time, it shows how disproved and discredited accounts can be reconstituted and legitimated, how ‘truth’ can be degraded through propaganda to protect powerful interests and how public servants, supposedly legally and politically accountable, can evade the reach of the law.



Will at the Sots reminds us of an important anniversary, and injustices still unresolved.

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