Cohen Tells How

August 29, 2009 at 7:52 pm (anti-fascism, Human rights, Max Dunbar, media, religion, women)

A few weeks ago I stopped challenging the relentless pro-faith commentary in the UK press because I became bored with the repetitive nature of those commentators’ arguments, sick of their self-satisfied tone and feeble jokes, and depressed by their poverty of thought, lack of imagination and absence of compassion.

If you too are weary with Bunting, Brown, Byrnes, Eagleton, Gray, Armstrong, Vernon, Appleyard and all the other bores and charlatans making the same weak arguments over and over again in the comment pages, you might enjoy Nick Cohen’s savage counterblast:

When Ayaan Hirsi Ali published Infidel, her account of escape from forced marriage and genital mutilation to Europe, her defence of the liberal values they once believed in appalled ‘liberal’ Europeans. Although Ali needed bodyguards to protect her from Islamist assassins, Timothy Garton Ash sneered that she was an ‘Enlightenment fundamentalist’ while Ian Buruma denounced her as an absolutist. Maryam Namazie, a Marxist Iranian exile who set up the ‘One Law for all Campaign’ to oppose the Archbishop and the Lord Chief Justice, tells me that she experiences every variety of Western duplicity. When she argues in favour of the demonstrators in Tehran, the hard Left tell her she is serving the interests of US imperialism — ‘It’s now reactionary to have a revolution,’ she sighs. When she last appeared on the BBC, to argue that the burka was a straightjacket designed to mark off a woman as a man’s private property, the presenter told her she was an ‘extremist’. With dreary inevitability, Does God Hate Women‘s critics say that Benson and Stangroom’s atheist liberalism is as fundamentalist as the religion of the hardliners they condemn.

Leave aside, however, that the critics do not even-handedly condemn misogynists, homophobes and inquisitors but dedicate all their polemical energy to denouncing those who do. Consider instead whether their equivalence holds good. If you abandon atheism, no atheist police force imitates the religious police in Saudi Arabia and arrests you. If you decide you no longer believe in the equality of the sexes and say that God has made men dominant, no one arraigns you before an equality court. If you stop believing in free speech and start arguing for censorship, no ‘enlightenment fundamentalist’ judge punishes your apostasy with a death sentence.

It’s a long essay, but well worth reading.


  1. Big Al the Third said,

    Where is this mythical far left who are not supporting the Iranian demonstrations?
    Why does Cohen take a few isolated voices and project that as the view of the entire far left?
    Is it because Cohen has nothing to say but to build up straw men to support his pro bourgeois liberal views, just like this shit excuse for a socialist site?

  2. maxdunbar said,

    Pro bourgois eh?

    I suppose you’ve just got in from a day tilling the fields?

  3. voltairespriest said,

    Big Al (AKA Kieran, AKA BuckR, AKA LeeCarr, AKA AlanR, AKA StevenParker, AKA JayJ) has been trolling here for a while, so s/he is clearly obsessed with this site regardless of his/her comments.

  4. resistor said,

    Do Nick Cohen or Max Dunbar know of any Muslim women other than Ayaan Hirsi Ali?

    Is it because she is a neo-conservative on the payroll of the warmongering American Enterprise Institute?

    The magazine Dunbar links to is Standpoint, which is the house journal of British neo-conservatism and home to the notorious racist Douglas Murray.

    Standpoint’s editor, Daniel Johnson, says it’s time the West stood up for itself: “There are certain dangerous fallacies that have grown up over the past few years, which Standpoint will challenge – myths such as multiculturalism or political correctness, which is stifling comment on anything from the environment to religion.”

    Sounds like Nick Cohen’s true home.

  5. maxdunbar said,

    Nick doesn’t only talk about Ali, as you can see from the extract in the post.

    I read, and write about, and know socially, numerous women from Muslim backgrounds beside Ali.

    As for Murray – we’ve argued about this before, haven’t we? Douglas Murray has said things that I don’t believe (as you’ll be aware, having read my recent posts on migration) and that, I now know, even he doesn’t believe any more.

    As for ‘Neocon Europe’; it is run by a Hezbollah fan and antisemitic conspiracy theorist.

    Sounds like Resistor’s true home!

  6. resistor said,

    So Max is now linking to a neo-con blog which objects to being described as such.

    ‘The Spittoon is a blog that focuses on Islam maintained by an editorial team that comprises of Centre for Social Cohesion researcher Houriya Ahmed, Faisal Gazi and four pseudonymous contributors.’

    Yes the very same Centre for Social Cohesion run by Douglas Murray, author of ‘Neoconservatism: Why We Need It’. Who but a conspiracy theorist could believe that author of a book with such a title would in fact be a neo-con.


    ‘The blog’s editorial team includes Houriya Ahmed, a researcher at the far-right Centre for Social Cohesion founded by the professed neoconservative Douglas Murray. Other links with the Centre for Social Cohesion include posts by Edmund Standing who has also worked for the think-tank. The blog also appears to have links to the Quilliam Foundation – for example through Lucy James a Research Fellow at the foundation who has contributed to The Spittoon.

    It cross-posts material from the neoconservative Standpoint magazine’s Focus on Islamism blog and from Harry’s Place with which it also coordinates attacks on critics. The former is run by Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, who is also a researcher at the Centre for Social Cohesion.’

    The link analysis is worth a read to.

    I’m afraid you’ve laid another one Max.

  7. Harry Tuttle said,

    I think Sid of The Spittoon will get a kick out of being labeled a neo-con. Hak Mao is also listed on that site. Hak Mao is a neo-con! Neocon Europe is a comedy goldmine.

  8. maxdunbar said,


    Linking to Quilliam? What next? I have no problem with liberal Muslims, although I’m aware that you do.

    Lucy James wrote a report explicity defending Muslims that I talked about here: And Edmund Standing has done some brilliant exposes of the BNP.

    Thing is, Neocon Europe is not a credible source. This is because its editor, Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, makes very stupid claims, including an assertion that the Iraq war was a Jewish conspiracy.

    Outside, an eco-chamber consisting of influential think-tanks – such as WINEP, JINSA, CSP, Brookings Institution, AEI, and well placed columnists and commentators – such as Charles Krauthammer, George Will, William Safire, Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami, further amplified the threat of the non-existent WMDs and Saddam-Al-Qaidah link with a deluge of alarmist reports and widely circulated op-eds. The warnings were further echoed by mainstream Jewish organizations such as ADL, CPMJO, AJC, ADL and ZOA and their activists – doctors, dentists, philanthropists, real estate magnates, financiers, journalists, media magnates and academics. In the end, as Petras argues, the relentless campaign waged by what he describes as the Zionist Power Configuration overwhelmed resistance.

    You’re laying enough for an omelette, pal.

  9. resistor said,

    Max Dunbar fails to understand (or deliberately confuses) the difference between a Zionist campaign and a ‘Jewish Conspiracy’. This tactic was used to smear the thesis of Mearsheimer and Walt that the Israel Lobby was damaging to the interests of the United States. The majority of neo-cons and even Zionists in the United States are not Jewish. Of course the Zionist Lobby in the US works through, or tries to influence Jewish groups, they’d be stupid not to. however it is a lie to identify the Zionist Lobby as a Jewish Lobby. The biggest organisation, AIPAC, does not represent liberal American Jews and is not even representative of many Israeli Jews as it is obviously a pro-Likud body.

    The Quilliam Foundation is a government funded front with no credibility. They are not ‘liberal’ Muslims, but extremely well paid government mouthpieces.

    Standing’s ‘brilliant’ expose of the BNP includes the idea that the BNP aren’t really anti-Muslim, its just a temporary tactic. He said, ‘It’s not just a case of media scare stories, however. Another important factor that is undoubtedly greatly assisting the BNP in its promotion of anti-Muslim sentiment is the problem of largely self-appointed Muslim ‘community leaders’ and organisations and their very vocal and, to the majority of Britons, unreasonable lists of demands of how British society should change to accommodate what is presented as Islam and the ‘rights’ of Muslims.’

    You see its all the Muslims fault for being too uppity and demanding their ‘rights’, as if they had any.

    I believe Hak Mao gets a mention as a signatory of the neo-con Euston Manifesto. Why sign up for a neo-con manifesto if you’re not a neo-con?

  10. Eskimo Sue R said,

    What’s an ‘eco-chamber’? Is that a carbon neutral bedroom? Don’t some people love intoning lists of governmental organisations and people. Does it give them magical power?

  11. maxdunbar said,

    I think he meant ‘echo chamber’

  12. Rosie said,

    Or “ego chamber”? That would describe some sites I know.

  13. resistor said,

    Nick Cohen and Clive James have no problem writing for a far-right magazine with its advisory board littered with such ‘feminists’ as Sir VS Naipaul KB

    Indeed here

    Clive James excuses Naipaul’s treatment of women, while having another bash at Muslims.

    Naipaul is a self-confessed racist and a violent serial abuser of women.

    I wonder why Dunbar is so drawn to the writings of the pro-war islamophobes?

  14. maxdunbar said,

    Risible. Even for you.

  15. resistor said,

    Cohen thanks Dunbar here

    ‘Sunday 9th August 2009
    Exposing the media conspiracy

    I found Nick Davies’s assault on my newspaper, the Observer, hugely unconvincing. He presented as fact allegations I knew weren’t true, and, I later discovered he knew weren’t true. Still it’s August and I’m in a generous mood. I cannot deny that his example has inspired an important investigation into the sinister forces controlling our news.

    Thanks to Max Dunbar’

    Despite a dozen requests, including from Nick Davies himself, Cohen fails to back up his accusation of dishonesty. What a coward and slime merchant. Cohen and Dunbar make a fine pair.

  16. maxdunbar said,

    Actually, I loved Flat Earth News. I have to disagree with Nick (Cohen) on this one.

  17. Rosie said,

    Thanks for the links to Clive James, Persister. I’m a great fan of his and that article of his on Naipaul was one I hadn’t read. BTW, by “excuses Naipaul’s treatment of women” is your way of saying “finds very reprehensible”, as anyone who reads the article would see. But you do have your own way of reading, as I’ve noticed in the past.

    BTW, I notice that one of your links is to the Daily Mail. I am utterly shocked, aghast even, that you should link to such an islamophobic, immigrant-hating rag as that.

  18. maxdunbar said,

    Well spotted Rosie.

    I hadn’t noticed that.

    Resistor gets all his information from Neocon Europe and the Daily Mail.

  19. maxdunbar said,

    I’ve now read that Clive James piece. All he really does is express surprise that Naipaul could write good books while being, as a man, a bigoted piece of shit. Far too nuanced for our resident monomaniac.

  20. resistor said,

    This is what Clive James said in his disgusting piece, “And in Sir Vidia’s invidious case, the women could always have told the genius to go chase himself. None of them did, and it seems fair to assume that they put up with him because they thought he was an important man.”

    Here James says that it was the fault of the women involved for not telling him ‘ to go chase himself’ as if violently abused women can do such a thing – in fact his wife was drugged on Mandrax she lost any will to rebel.

    Clive James finds Naipaul’s violent thuggish misogyny ‘very reprehensible’, yet says about other such men, ‘There is seldom, apparently, much chance of “warning” the men in such cases that if they publicly avow violent intentions towards a woman they will be hauled up, and there is never any chance at all that such men will be expelled from the country.’ No James and Cohen haven’t called for Naipaul’s expulsion from this country, they would rather sip champagne with him at the Standpoint launch party.

    Rosie is a self-confessed ‘great fan of his’, which says it all.

  21. Rosie said,

    Rosie is a self-confessed ‘great fan of his’, which says it all.

    Yes, it shows I have a fine discriminating taste for one of our best literary critics, you moronic Philistine.

  22. maxdunbar said,


    Care to explain why you read the Daily Mail – a paper that supported British fascism in the 1930s?

    Doesn’t that make you a fascist too?

    (Watch as I use Resistor techniques against him! The hunter has become the hunted!)

  23. Red Maria said,

    I would enjoy Cohen’s polemics but the silly git still hasn’t paid me back for the cigarette I graciously gave him in 2005 (the Tuesday Club’s belated Xmas bash at a Greek restaurant in Clerkenwell in February – remember, Nick?) and neither has he expressed his profound gratitude for my stopping him making a twit of himself at Kevin Maguire’s Graun leaving bash later that year at El Vino’s. And have I mentioned making sure his books were safe after he’d staggered out of the Sekforde last June?

    To top it off, it seems as though he’s taken umbrage at a comment I made on Ruth Gledhill’s Facebook page.

    I mean, some people!


  24. Rosie said,

    Red Maria – half of those scenarios feature a Nick Cohen who has drunk rather a lot. Are you subtly trying to present him as an alcoholic with trembling hands?

  25. Red Maria said,

    Me, would I do such a thing?

    Heh heh heh.

    The thing with Cohen is that he’s not by any means a good drunk. He’s an atrocious, obnoxious one, given to shouting at people and lurching at them before collapsing in a heap on the floor.

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