Sunday, June 11, 2006

The leftie that didn't cheer in the night

Bashing the rich is pretty much staple Nick-of-old. Here at egalitarian Aarowatch you won't find too many complaints. But a bit of petty carping won't do any harm. Nick commends the use of statistics to illustrate the problem, but then restricts himself largely to information drawn from last Monday's Evening Standard. He also fails to distinguish adequately between wealth and income, so his phrases about the top 1 or 2 per cent are meaningless. My guess is that, in income terms, Nick's own household is in the top 1 or 2 per cent. Still, he can check for himself by using the IFS's handy calculator of these things. But moving on to matters where I actually disagree with him on the substance (or where it's hard to tell) ....

Internment without trial for suspected terrorists? (Perhaps like the two chaps released without charge in Forest Gate this week?) Is Nick for or against? Well he doesn't tell us. What he says is that there's a split within the establishment which will be resolved in favour of internment as soon as psychopathic Islamists manage to kill enough people. Which he expects they will. There's also his worrying reference to the fact that, unlike Americans, Europeans don't believe themselves to be in a state of war. Well I'm going to stick my neck out on this one and say that the Europeans are basically right about this, and that Americans who think otherwise are wrong. Having sat in a Wisconsin hotel room last year and watched John "Professor of Torture" Yoo, rhetorically steamroller critics of Guantanamo with "we are at war" talk, I think it's best avoided. Since Nick's column is published on the morning when three suicides have been reported in Guantanamo, he didn't pick the best moment to intimate that the Bush administration's response to terror is preferable to that of Euro-judges. I also seem to remember that our least big experiment with interning terrorist suspects was rather strongly counterproductive, maybe Nick has forgotten.

Finally, on to Nick's finger-point of the day, which concerns how people responded to the death of Al-Zarqawi:

The real question is not why so few people cried on the news of Zarqawi's death, but why so few cheered. The answer will take the liberal-left a long time to live down.

I remember cheering when General Franco died, and I expect to cheer when Mrs T finally kicks the bucket, but, Franco aside, actual cheering has been pretty much absent. Only a nutty single-issue obsessive of the type Nick has become would think that the alleged not-cheering of the left was "the real question". Sad.


Blogger Matthew said...

I had a few issues with this one, not all that different, except:

* He misinterprets the Lib Dems policy, which actually is more similar to what he wants than the previous one (though as you point out there's an element of the rich begin at exactly the point where my salary ends about this)
* I think on the civil liberties bit he is actually saying he does disagree with the notions of not deporting suspects to torture and not having Belmarshes. That's the implication, I think, of his using the terms 'liberals' as Nick does not consider himself one of them nowadays.

6/11/2006 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

Over at the Observer's comments thread, someone has helpfully provided a link to a Cohen piece from 2002, which is a nice example of how he used to write about civil liberties before he read Terror and Liberalism.

6/11/2006 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

It's impossible to argue Nick Cohen hasn't swerved to the right when you read that and this, isn't it?

6/11/2006 11:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the seals of Dacre were popping like ... well, like champagne corks at the Asprey's refit on this one. I certainly read him as saying "we must torture suspects". There is also a bit about comprehensive schools toward the end of the Lib Dem bit too.

In unrelated news, I really ought to do something a bit longer about the Aaronomics piece if there is any point to me at all ... I'll give it a try this evening.

6/11/2006 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger Simon said...

I think the civil liberties stuff is another indication that he writes his columns in the middle of the week. The Guantanamo news would have been too late to incorporate, but we've known since Friday that the Forest Gate raid was probably an MI5 cock-up, and yet here he is treating the words of 'the security services' as if they're gospel.

The Cohen of old might have taken the opportunity to raise a few questions about the usefulness of counter-intelligence in response to the news. The new Cohen seems almost to be willing a new terrorist attack in order to teach 'lawyers' and the liberal-left a lesson.

6/11/2006 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

The bit about comprehensives is revealing. Much like Melanie Phillips (pop!) when he adds educational bits as asides he lets slip what he attempts to cover up (or blame liberals for) in articles when it's the main subject, ie is he sees comprehensive schools as disastrous for the middle class, not the working class.

6/11/2006 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

He has an old fashioned view about income tax, hasn't he? Cutting income tax, especially for the poor is not necessarily not progressive. My own view is that income tax should be minimised with a shift to green taxes and land value taxation.

I am not sure what camp puts me in!

6/12/2006 01:16:00 AM  
Blogger Sonic said...

They are becoming more and more like the Stalinists they claim to despise.

It's not enough to try and win an argument your opponents, real or imagined, must be dehumanised then crushed without mercy.

I remember reading that during the 30 min standing ovations after a Uncle Joe speech the first person to stop clapping got a little visit from the KGB. Presumably the first of the Eustonistas to stop cheering over Zarqawis death suddenly finds dinner party invites drying up.

6/12/2006 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Williams said...

What's the Eustonites' line on last week's other dead war criminal, Roy Farran? After all, he was an objective anti-Zionist (and how...). Has Nick cheered his death? And if not, can he therefore be regarded as an anti-Semite?

6/13/2006 10:57:00 AM  

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