Victoria Brittain: an idiot who may or may not be useful

July 8, 2013 at 5:35 pm (anti-semitism, apologists and collaborators, Beyond parody, Guardian, islamism, jerk, Jim D, media, middle class, Middle East, misogyny, Racism, relativism, religion, Respect, stalinism)

Above: Victoria shares a ‘Counterfire’ platform with fellow apologist and Guardianista, Shameless

The pro-Islamist Grauniad has carried some shameful and idiotic articles over the years, from the like of ‘Mad’ Maddie Bunting, Shameless Milne and Jonathan Stalinist. At one point the Graun even employed a member of Hizb ut- Tahrir as a trainee journalist, and published his filthy opinions without noticing anything wrong, until his politics were exposed.

But today’s article by Victoria Brittain, defending the racist homophobe and misogynist Abu Qatada (aka Omar Othman), must take the biscuit. Oh, but Mr Othman is an intellectual who wrote books in prison (Hitler did the same as I recall):

Our security services and politicians turned this man into an Islamic counter-terrorism myth. If instead they had chosen to talk to him, as I have many times, they would have found that the man behind the myth is a scholar with wide intellectual and cultural interests. He wrote books while he was in prison. His home is filled with books. His children have excelled at school, with help and encouragement from his daily phone calls from prison.

Victoria Brittain is certainly an idiot. Whether she’s a useful one is very much a matter of opinion.


  1. Rosie said,

    That article is on the short list for the most fatuous article ever on CIF. I’m not going to click on it again, as that’s what The Guardian wants me to do, but most of the commenters I saw were telling her what an idiot she is, what about Mein Kampf, Stalin’s bookishness etc.

    I thought that The Garn must be really scraping the barrel for a jihadiphile, if that’s the best they can do.

  2. Argaman said,

    Can someone explain why a leading liberal newspaper would be pro-Islamist (unless, secretly, the entire staff has converted to Islam and become members of the Muslim Brotherhood)?

    • R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

      IIRC the Times, the Observer, the Mail and other establishment newspapers were accused of being pro-Nazi in the late 1930s because they supported appeasement.

      But none of their editors and columnists and leader-writers were in fact supporters of Nazism’s true goals and after September 1939 when these finally became impossible to ignore they all became hyper-patriotic and anti-Nazi.

      And the Guardian shows the same mindset – most of its hacks do not actually support the violent imposition of Sharia Law and the reduction of most of the world’s population to dhimmitude any more than (most) members of the Cliveden Set actually wanted Nazi tanks to roll down Pall Mall and for their Jewish acquaintances to be marched into execution pits.

      But like the original appeasers they construct an entirely imaginary image of the enemy as rational men with demands that can be accommodated without war and genocide – and wilfully ignore evidence to the contrary.

      But unlike the Rothermeres and Astors there seems to be no final enormity that the enemy can commit which will persuade them that they might perhaps be mistaken.

      So ‘pro-Islamist’ is not putting it too strongly.

    • Jim Denham said,

      Argaman: a good question, to which there is no obvious answer, except, perhaps, two words:

      * Stalinism

      * relativism

  3. yaya sanogo said,

    So you’re big fans of the Jordanian torture justice system then? Expecting a lot of due process are you?
    This guy’s Hitler is he? Surprised all those Nazis didn’t stop him getting on the plane.

    • Jim Denham said,

      Yaya: None of your rhetorical questions really flow logically from the main post.

      • yaya sanogo said,

        Jim: there are none so blind as those that will not see. Jordan tortures people. You don’t send your worst enemy there if you have a shred of humanity. Simple, non-rhetorical point.
        “Oh, but Mr Othman is an intellectual who wrote books in prison (Hitler did the same as I recall)”
        What on Earth is that, Mr.Jim, if not part of the main post? Do you need English lessons? That is not a question of rhetoric, I do have friends who can teach if need be strong.

      • yaya sanogo said,

        Also calling him “Mr.Othman” is reminiscent of the racists who insisted on calling Muhammed Ali Cassius Clay, or Malcolm X Malcolm Little. Or insisted that Leon Trotsky was really a Jew called Bronstein. Are you a racist, Mister Jim, if not, why do you behave in this racist manner?
        [And no Mr.Jim, I don’t think Abu Qatada is comparable to all those folks, but you don’t have to be as bad as he is – I don’t know if he is a racist]

      • Jim Denham said,

        yaya: In refering to “Mr Othman” I am merely using Ms Bittain’s preferred terminology. So, presumably, according to your “logic” (I use the word advisedly in your case), she is a racist?

      • R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

        Arabs take the name or kunya Abu xxxx when they are particularly proud of having a son and adopt its name as their own.

        Historically it used to be an epithet added to a name rather than a new name replacing the old one – which is why historians have to navigate around lengthy names like ʾAbū l-Walīd Muḥammad bin ʾAḥmad bin Rušd (literally Muhammad the father of Walid, the son of Ahmad who was the son of Rusd – the medieval philosopher known in the West as Averroes).

        But when modern Arabs took to modern revolutionary politics they needed noms de terroir and so adopted real or fictional kunyas which became their given name.

        And Umar ibn Maḥmūd ibn ‘Uṯmān as he is by his own lights a revolutionary took to calling himself Abu Qatada il-Filastini (the father of Qatada the Palestinian) which is technically a kunya but clearly seems to be his preferred given name under which he has published his many exhortations to kill Jews and Westerners.

        So for us to call him that is the exact opposite of a racist calling Muhammad Ali Cassius Clay or El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X was just his transitional Black Muslim name which he abandoned on becoming an orthodox Sunni Muslim) Malcolm Little – whatever may be on his passport he chose that name as an adult and we should honor that choice.

        And as he was born in Bethlehem and proudly declares his Palestinian nationality shouldn’t we have perhaps packed him off to Israel instead? (where incidentally he’d be rather less likely to be tortured).

      • yaya sanogo said,

        So according to your logic, if she’s a racist, you are too.

      • R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,


        You really don’t get this argument thing at all do you?

  4. Rosie said,

    I should be hardened now but I’m still staggered that the Garn runs such stuff.

    Imagine, say, if there was some Russian Orthodox priest who was a spiritual adviser of a Russian fascist movement and was a great supporter of Slav superiority, treating other peoples as untermensch and. of course, who would be grossly antisemitic.

    Imagine that same priest being pursued by the Russian authorities, seeking asylum in the UK and managing to stall extradition on (probably quite reasonable) grounds that he would be maltreated by the Russian prison system.

    I doubt if you would find that many human rights’ lawyers breaking their balls to defend him, and also I really don’t think the Garn would run articles in support of him, saying what a sweetie he is, who wrote a book and has read lots of them as well.

    It’s utterly nauseating. When fascism grows a beard and puts on the clothes of an exotic religion it gets accolades. Not just the liberal attitude that everyone deserves a fair trial and proper treatment, but eulogies. Who the hell commissions such garbage?

    • R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

      Sorry to be pedantic but there are no ‘priests’ in Islam where Imams and Muftis and Sheikhs and Qadis and Mullahs are teachers, scholars and prayer leaders but not in any sense intermediaries between the worshippers and their God.

      And actually there are multiple Russian Orthodox priests who fit your profile – except that they are lionised and not persecuted by the Russian authorities and it is almost impossible to imagine one being driven into exile by the present regime and them then wanting him back.

      The real problem here is that Ms Brittain isn’t a human rights lawyer and doesn’t defend Qatada on narrow human rights grounds as a refugee but proclaims him to be a sterling fellow whose opinions have merit.

      Which to me seems symptomatic of something much deeper – a loss of nuance and depth and contextualisation and the reduction of a monstrously complex world to a cartoonish Manicheanism.

      50 or 100 years ago we would have had no problem simultaneously holding the ideas that a Qatada was a monster but one whose rights as a refugee might have to be defended and a GK Chesterton might write a little essay glorying in such a paradox.

      But for the modern pseudo-left there are only ever Heroes and Villains presented in the starkest monochrome.

  5. Rosie said,

    You are more likely to find that kind of G K Chesterton article with its liberal patriotism, in the Daily Telegraph these days, not The Guardian.

    “We have preferred not to press charges, instead holding him under the various forms of house arrest made possible by recent anti-terrorism legislation. More recently, we have attempted to deport Qatada to Jordan, but this strategy has rightly fallen foul of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg – which refuses to countenance the idea that any individual should be deported to a country that practices torture.

    Mysteriously, however, this decision has been condemned as an outrageous assault on British sovereignty, while the Strasbourg Court is under attack as an alien construction, hostile to British history, law, freedom and our national identity.

    It is time that the case was heard for the defence. Certainly, it should be conceded that those who claim protection from the European Court are often suspicious or unattractive men and women, and many of them foreigners. Abu Qatada is a near perfect example of this kind of phenomenon. But the brutal truth is that obnoxious and unpopular figures are exactly those who most desperately need the protection of the law.

    Consider this: there is nothing on this earth more British than the instinct to stand up for the underdog or the pariah, however unpopular or unattractive he or she might be. And there is no institution – not even the MCC or the Lawn Tennis Association – more British than the European Court of Human Rights.

    It was inspired by Sir Winston Churchill, eager in the aftermath of the Second World War and the Holocaust to export the British system of fairness and decency. Churchill ensured that its founding document was drafted by a British politician, David Maxwell Fyfe, later to become a Conservative Lord Chancellor. Every single one of the great ideas that were to be embodied in the European Convention – freedom from torture, restraint on the power of the state, freedom under law – was an ancient British principle transferred on to the European stage.

    It should be a matter of enormous national pride that an institution so profoundly British in its inspiration has refused to send an Arab fundamentalist (however despicable his crimes are alleged to be) to Jordan, where he might be tortured, or at best face the prospect of being sent to jail on the back of evidence acquired from a torture victim. Yet this decision has been greeted with horror by all three of our main political parties.

    Tuesday’s Commons debate, in particular, was a day of shame for Parliament, once famed as the cockpit of freedom and justice. MPs combined to demand that Britain flout the European Court. Only one solitary backbencher, Labour’s David Winnick, asked the obvious question: if Abu Qatada is such a bad egg, why not press charges and secure a sentence in court?

    It is more than 60 years since Churchill made his famous “Iron Curtain” speech in Fulton, Missouri, in which he defended the Western tradition of the rule of law. This is what he said: “We must never cease to proclaim in fearless tones the great principles of freedom and the rights of man which… through Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, habeas corpus, trial by jury and the English common law, find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.” Churchill was clear, too – as he wrote to a constituent in 1938 – that “the use of instruments of torture can never be regarded by any decent person as synonymous with justice”. ”

    What Leftist could write in quite such a strain? E P Thompson would have, not so much citing Churchill, as traditional English attitudes towards liberty.

    So Brittain (okay, a poor example of a thinker) has to defend AQ, not on the grounds that the campaign against him is a contradiction of traditions of justice for all, but that the authorities had it in for him because they’re racists.

    “Victoria Brittain is saying something else here: that no evidence has ever been produced justifying Abu Qatada’s deportation on grounds of national security, that he has been unable to know and meet the case against him, and that racism is the underlying reason for the Lords judgment.

    She says this:

    “Othman has never been charged or tried for any crime in this country. The evidence on which the law lords made their decision was heard in secret, and neither Othman nor his lawyers have the right to know what it is so that it could be challenged. This system of secret evidence against Muslims accused of terrorism is manifestly unjust…”

    (Note, yaya sonogo, that Brittain calls AQ Othman.)

  6. R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    And yet Churchill did as Prime Minister sanction the use of torture.

    During World War 2 there were special sections of military intelligence that tortured captured Nazis:

    (yes this is by the odious Andrew Roberts whose neocon pro-torture axe is all too clearly being ground – but the historical facts about Operation Fortitude are clear).

    And under Attlee after WW2 many former SS prisoners were routinely tortured in order to identify which of them committed war crimes or just beaten to a pulp on capture (as happened to Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Hoess) on the grounds that they patently deserved it.

    The Jewish Brigade network that executed every Nazi war criminal they could get their hands on when they were part of the British occupation forces clearly also used whatever methods were necessary to gather evidence and hunt down their targets.

    And it is very difficult indeed at this distance and knowing what we now know to regret all or indeed any of this – rather these efforts should have been even more extensive and killed tens of thousands of Nazis rather than the few hundred that were executed formally or informally.

    But dealing with actual Nazis is pretty much the definition of a hard case that makes bad law.

  7. R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    And Stuart Weir is also playing the ‘Abu Who? – oh you mean that nice Mr Othman’ game – clearly there’s been a memo sent out from Pseudo-Left Central:

    Again we see the bizarre refusal to accept that the very thing we (or at least liberals which on the whole I am not) should be celebrating is that the rule of law applies to vicious misogynistic anti-semitic scumbags as well.

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