Sunday, May 14, 2006

Congratulations to "Ming Campbell has never been asked a difficult question"!

Another Golden Groundhog awarded this week, I think, to this old friend of AW, on the occasion of what I think is its fifth appearance in a Nick Cohen column.

The main piece is bog standard Harry's Place "Islamophobia? Moi? But there are very serious questions to be asked about this gutter religion of terrorists, and a backlash is inevitable from decent white liberal Europeans if our concerns are not addressed!". It is apparently considered impolite or unserious to mention that this is very similar indeed to the current campaigning line of the British National Party (and of course, any smear by association would be just as silly and groundless as it was when Aaro tried to do it to Mearsheimer & Waltz), but the facts are what they are. The "Eustonians" (god fucking help us) are very good at turning a complete blind eye to the fact that they are engaged in a kind of rhetoric that has serious, real consequences; in domestic politics as in international relations, their sheer moral Decency acts as a kind of liberal flak-jacket that protects them from any practical consequences of anything they do or say.

Meanwhile, in attempting to keep the Euston Manifesto in the public eye, Nick has now, by citation, brought the entire ouvre of Norman "not Johnson" Geras on topic for Aaronovitch watch. I know a few Watchers have been waiting eagerly for thsi moment so go for it guys. Apparently the EM is a "statement of the obvious"; who knew?

14 Comments:

Blogger Simon said...

I would be interested to know who has described the EM as "sexist". I mean, some idiot probably has, but it certainly isn't a common line of attack.

Oh, hang on, is it the Natasha Walter thing about the lack of reference to women's rights? But that isn't anything to do with 'brown-skinned women having the same rights as white-skinned women'. (And from a crowd who appear to think the only liberal Muslim woman in the world is Irshad fucking Manji, it's hardly an unfounded charge that they aren't especially interested in actually existing Muslim women who don't provide an opportunity for rhetorical point-scoring)

5/14/2006 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger Simon said...

Also it's interesting that he'll happily 'concede' that Stalin and Pol Pot were inspired by "a version of" socialism, but the weasel words are removed when it comes to political Islam. As it happens, it was only really barking right-wingers who would routinely refer to the Khmer Rouge as actual socialists, and only then because they were trying to advance a domestic political agenda. Comparisons with people who use the term 'Islamic terrorism' not as a descriptor but to advance a domestic political agenda are entirely coincidental, of course.

5/14/2006 02:14:00 PM  
Anonymous rioja kid said...

"The point here is not to argue in favour of Holocaust deniers or Flemish rightists, any more than it is to argue in favour of incitement of religious hatred, except when the religious are hateful."

This seems to say that a crime committed by an Islamist terrorist means that it's justifiable to "incite hatred" against all muslims. And is inciting hatred his prefereed means of response?

Nick does seem to be taking a surreptitious pleasure at the success of the BNP, doesn't he? It's a "see, serves you right" kind of response. It;s an interesting evolution. fascism isn;t something that shpould be opposed. It's an opportunity for political blackmail.

5/14/2006 03:53:00 PM  
Blogger Simon said...

From comments on this article at Comment is Free:

"Great article Nick. I know you hate BNP voters like me, but I can't fault you with this article... excellent."

5/14/2006 05:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Steven Poole said...

Simon - I entirely agree with your well-taken second point.

I've made a longer analysis here.

Regards,
SP

5/14/2006 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger Sonic said...

Lovely example of decentism here, a thread about a racist murder of a Muslim turns into a thread about how evil muslims are.

http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/2006/05/12/an_extreme_form_of_racism.php

5/15/2006 12:48:00 AM  
Anonymous redpesto said...

I would be interested to know who has described the EM as "sexist". I mean, some idiot probably has, but it certainly isn't a common line of attack.


Natasha Walter did here. (Please note David T's characteristically Harryette line of attack in the comments)

5/15/2006 10:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Martin said...

I profoundly AGREE with Nick Cohen's remarks on Ming Campbell.

He should have mentioned another classic case, the case of Robin Cook. In office he was useless on the media and reacted badly under pressure in interviews. He quickly became the most unpopular member of the government. Then, almost overnight after he resigned and the entire media made a deal not to mention the fact it was Robin Cook who begged us it was alright to bomb Iraq in 1998, he suddenly became Mr Cool in intereviews.

It's so easy to come across well when people give you the time and space to put your views, and deliberately try not to contradict you.

5/16/2006 04:46:00 AM  
Anonymous bruschettaboy said...

I profoundly AGREE with Nick Cohen's remarks on Ming Campbell.

Well in that case I would recommend the show "Newsnight" on BBC2 to the both of you. It's on at 2230 on weekday evenings, and its presenter Jeremy Paxman has regularly interviewed Menzies Campbell and asked him tough questions.

I think that the reason that Robin Cook started coming over much better in interviews after he resigned is that he stopped talking a load of New Labour crap and started to say things that he actually believed and which were close to the truth.

It is one of the general themes of Stephen Poole's book (which I have bought and it's very good indeed btw) that there is a difference between someone who is telling the truth and someone who is lying, and it is unreasonable to expect that someone who is telling the truth (say about Iraqi WMDs) not to come across better on TV than someone who isn't.

5/16/2006 08:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Simon said...

The Ming Campbell stuff is just another symptom of the Decentists' determination to be underdogs in the face of all the evidence. The government is 100% onside with the Euston agenda already, so it must be somebody else conspiring against them, and the obvious target to be the somebody else is the 'liberal media'.

As Jon Stewart said about the Republicans, "you're not some group of rag-tag rebels trying to overthrow the empire. You ARE the empire."

5/16/2006 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous martin said...

I think mine and Nick Cohen's take is more credible. I could take you through the interviews and show you the difference.

5/17/2006 05:38:00 AM  
Anonymous bruschettaboy said...

What "difference", Martin? The question is, has Ming Campbell been asked tough questions. He has. He's been asked "aren't you too old to lead the LibDems" and he's been asked "didn't you by opposing the war, stand against the possibility of democracy in Iraq" (shortly after the elections in 2005). Questions don't get much tougher than that.

If you (and Nick) are now trying to change the criterion from "not one single tough question" to "questioning that has not been as hostile as that given to some other arbitrarily selected person" then that's wrong. Unlike Tony Blair, Menzies Campbell has in general been vindicated by developments in Iraq, and unlike the various George Bush representatives that have been through the Newsnight studios, he doesn't present himself as speaking for an administration that bombed Fallujah.

As I say, it's simply wrong to expect that someone who has in general told the truth and been proved right to be treated like someone who has in general lied and been proved wrong.

5/17/2006 06:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Martin said...

No, no, no. You missed the point. He *is* being asked tough questions now, AND is being found out. The reason this was so unexpected is because before he became leader he was just brought on after a tough interview with a government member to ask how he saw it. It was often outrageous.

Robin Cook wasn't pressured at all after he resigned - it's got nothing to with telling the truth; he had to use more spin after he resigned than before it.

Ken Clark is another case in point. For years he was allowed on to slag off the Tory leadership without having to answer a difficult question. I was pleased about that but I can see how it wound up Tories.

The media are very sloppy at giving those people who are not the leadership of the government or the main opposition a hard time. It's too lop sided.

5/17/2006 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschetta Boy said...

No, no, no. You missed the point. He *is* being asked tough questions now, AND is being found out. The reason this was so unexpected is because before he became leader he was just brought on after a tough interview with a government member to ask how he saw it. It was often outrageous.

No this isn't true. Campbell was not leader in 2005 when the Iraqi elections happened.

How could Robin Cook have been "pressured" after he resigned? He was in fact, telling the truth. What question would possibly have been awkward for him to answer? Is this the "moral equivalence" I keep hearing about?

5/19/2006 08:36:00 AM  

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