Trojan Horse: The Graun’s Adams shows his hand – again

October 29, 2015 at 1:14 pm (anti-semitism, Brum, Champagne Charlie, children, Education, Guardian, islamism, misogyny, Pornography, Racism, religion, religious right, sexism, thuggery, women, youth)


Above: Adams
Park View school in Birmingham

Teachers and senior staff linked to the Trojan Horse allegations of “undue religious (ie Islamist) influence” in Birmingham schools, have been appearing before the misconduct panel of the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) since mid-October. The NCTL is the professional body for teachers and has the power to impose lifetime prohibitions on teachers.

As the hearing has not yet concluded (it is expected to last until December), Shiraz has taken a conscious decision not to cover the proceedings, even though the hearing is in public and the local Birmingham Mail has carried extensive reports of the disturbing evidence presented by witnesses. Most of the national press, including (until now) the Guardian, also seem to have decided not to cover the hearing in detail, or to be very circumspect in their coverage, while it is in progress*.

But today’s Guardian carries an article by the paper’s Education editor, Richard Adams, headlined Witness in ‘Trojan Horse’ case accused of religious slurs”.

Adams’s story is written entirely from the standpoint of the teachers and senior staff accused of misconduct, and seems to be based upon the ‘line’ of cross-examination being pursued by their lawyer, Andrew Faux, as he attempts to discredit one of the witnesses (‘Witness A’, a former teacher at Park View School) who has given evidence of malpractice. Faux has accused Witness A of herself making a series of racial and religious slurs.

Faux, as a lawyer acting for some of the accused teachers, is perfectly entitled to pursue this line of cross-examination. What is, however, quite outrageous, is for the Guardian, in one of its few articles covering the hearing, to report Faux’s attacks in detail, adding that the witness “faced an internal complaint in the wake of comments she was alleged to have made at an event.” No details whatsoever are given of the evidence presented by Witness A against the teachers and senior staff of the Trojan Horse schools.

Adams closes his article by repeating, once again, the tired old red herring that “The [Trojan Horse] letter is widely regarded as a hoax” – yes it is, but that’s not the point. The question is, are the claims of Islamist influence in Birmingham schools true or not? The answer to that question has nothing to do with whether the Trojan Horse letter was all it purported to be.

Whether Adams is acting directly on the wishes of Mr Faux and his clients, or whether he (Adams) is so committed to defending/excusing the accused teachers and senior staff that he simply cannot write an impartial article, we shall probably never know.

But he has form:

Here’s what  Adams, had to say about this matter  in June 2014, shortly after the story first sufaced: “Is the Trojan Horse row just a witch hunt triggered by a hoax?”

This shabby article by Adams was not a one-off: he had previously reported on Park View School  (the academy at the centre of the allegations) following a visit that was quite obviously organised and supervised  by the school’s ultra-reactionary Islamist chair of governors, Tahir Alam. In short, Adams has been a mouthpiece and conduit for the Islamist propaganda of people like Alam, Salma Yaqoob and the SWP throughout.

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  • * Adams has written two other articles covering some of the allegations, and emphasising that “The Department for Education said its case against Johirul Islam, a former teacher at Park View, ‘has been discontinued’ in the hearing’s fourth day… The decision suggests the NTCL may struggle to press its case against several other teachers facing similar allegations” (here)
  • * The Guardian website has carried another article reporting one of the allegations of misconduct: this was not, however written by Adams, but came from the Press Association. And as far as I’m aware (and I read the Graun every day) it did not appear in the print edition – C.C.

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The most laughable, preposterous and irrelevant left-wing faction fight … ever

January 29, 2014 at 9:21 pm (Beyond parody, comedy, ex-SWP, fantasy, gloating, good honest filth, James P. Cannon, jerk, Jim D, middle class, perversity, political groups, Pornography, Racism, strange situations, surrealism, wankers)

I was going to put a question-mark at the end of that headline, but on reflection decided not to. I think we can be unequivocal about this.

When I was a callow young Trotskyist and James P. Cannon fan, older, more experienced comrades told me that Cannon’s organisation, the American SWP (no relation to the Brit group of the same name) had gone off the rails very badly in the 1950’s, when Cannon began to take a back seat and handed the reins over to lesser figures like Joseph Hansen. Evidence of this petty bourgeois degeneration, I was told, was a ludicrous faction fight over the question of women’s cosmetics that threatened to tear the SWP apart. In the end, good ol’ James P. came out of semi-retirement to bang heads together and tell Hansen and the comrades to get a grip and stop arguing about such irrelevant nonsense. Anyway, that’s how I remember being told about it.

As you can imagine, I never (until now) took the trouble to investigate the matter in any detail, but if you’re interested, quite a good account is given here, and you can even read some of the contemporaneous internal documents here, if you scroll down to No. A-23, October 1954. On the other hand, like myself when I was first told about the Great Cosmetics Faction Fight (GCFF), you may feel that life’s too short…

The point being, that I’ve always carried round in the back of my mind a vague recollection of the GCFF as a prime example of petty bourgeois leftist irrelevance, and probably the most ridiculous and laughable left-group factional dispute of all time.

Until now.

The recent row within the International Socialist Network, resulting in the resignations of some of its most prominent members, makes the SWP’s GCFF look quite down to earth and sensible. If you ever wanted an example of why serious, socialist-inclined working class people all too often regard the far left as a bunch of irrelevant, posturing tossers, this is it. Don’t ask me what it’s all about, or what “race play” is. Comrade Coatesy gives some helpful background here and here. More detail for the serious connoisseur (aka “more discerning customer” wink, wink, reaching under the counter) here and here.

I’ll simply add, for now, that this preposterous business does appear to be genuine (rather than, as some might reasonably suspect, an exercise in sitautionist performance art and/or anti-left political satire) and is also one of those rather pleasing situations in which no-one in their right mind cares who wins: both sides are unspeakably awful self-righteous jerks. Actually, the ISN majority strike me as, if anything, even worse than Seymour, Miéville and their friend “Magpie” – if that’s possible. Still, it’s hard not to endulge in just a little schadenfreude at the discomfiture of Richard “Partially Contingent” Seymour, a character who’s made a minor career out of sub-Althussarian pretentiousness and “anathematising” others on the left for their real or imagined transgressions against “intersectionality“, and now falls victim to it himself.

Those who live by intersectionality, die by intersectionality.

Or, as Seymour himself put it in his seminal postgraduate thesis  Patriarchy and the capitalist state:

“My suggestion is that as an analytic, patriarchy must be treated as one type of the more general phenomena of gender projects which in certain conjunctures form gender formations. What is a gender formation? I am drawing a direct analogy with Omi and Winant’s conception of racial formations, which comprises “the sociohistorical process by which racial categories are created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed … historically situated projects in which human bodies and social structures are represented and organized.” This is connected “to the evolution of hegemony, the way in which society is organized and ruled,” in the sense that racial projects are linked up with wider repertoires of hegemonic practices, either enabling or disrupting the formation of broad ruling or resistant alliances. A gender formation would thus be a ’sociohistorical process’ in which gender categories are ‘created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed’ through the interplay and struggle of rival gender projects. From my perspective, this has the advantage of grasping the relational, partially contingent and partially representational nature of gendered forms of power, and providing a means by which patriarchy can indeed be grasped in relation to historical materialism.”

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Porn: hard cases make bad law

June 1, 2013 at 2:58 pm (censorship, children, crime, cyberspace, Guardian, Guest post, murder, Pink Prosecco, Pornography, tragedy)

Mark Bridger
Above: Mark Bridger, murderer of April Jones and user of child porn
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Guest post by Pink Prosecco

The kneejerk reaction to violent crime often seems to be a call for illiberal restrictions on freedoms.  Arguing against such responses can be difficult, particularly when the crime is the sickening murder of a small child.  But the message in the Guardian editorial (31.05.13 in print edition) does, I think, need to be firmly resisted.

“Internet pornography is usually abusive and often violent. Mark Bridger, convicted yesterday of the murder of April Jones, had compiled a store of it. Pornography is easily and freely accessible, and at most requires only a credit card.”

The editorial goes on to describe the apparent link between pornography and violence.  There are correlations between all kinds of activities and negative outcomes, but that doesn’t mean a ban is always the answer.   Pornography comes in many different forms.  Either the content or the production may be exploitative, certainly.  It would be good to tackle the factors which drive people to seek work which exploits them – which is not to say that all who are involved in the industry are exploited (or exploiting).  To claim that pornography, all pornography, is an ‘incitement to hate’ seems over the top.  (Otherwise surely there’d be a lot more hate around the place.)

Taking measures to prevent children accessing pornography is fine, and obviously child pornography should be clamped down on ruthlessly.  But measures such as those suggested in the Guardian’s editorial – such as preventing UK credit cards being used to view pornography on line – seem like a massive over-reaction.

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NB: since the print version of the Guardian editorial appeared, it has been amended online, and the following addendum has been posted:

• This article was amended on 31 May 2013 to clarify that the intention of the editorial was to propose restrictions on violent and abusive pornography, as opposed to pornography in general. The original also incorrectly stated that it was Dutch members of the Pirate party who brought down attempts to insert a proposed ban on pornography into European equal rights legislation.

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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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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 Amazon.com’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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