Thursday, August 09, 2007

Credit Where It Is Due

I don't know what passes for normal behaviour in the Watch business, but here at 'World of Decency' we like to think we see things in a few shades between black and white.

I was reminded by Jamie's post on the Iraqi interpreters that the petition [to] the Prime Minister to offer asylum in the UK to the Iraqis who have been working as translators and in other capacities for the UK armed forces is still open. All the Aaro Watchers have signed it (most of us got in early, and that page shows the most recent 500 by default) as has our inspiration (not that anyone can be arsed watching him any more) David Aaronovitch. By the way, should you think that the abandoned Iraqi translators story was some sort of got-up business by us 'Stoppers' - Harry's Place covered it too. (Although I don't see even the pseudonymous presence of certain well-know pro-war bloggers among the signatories. But then, maybe I have their real names wrong.)

Nick isn't a signatory, but he did join the facebook group. So, there's something we all agree on.

Supporting the rights of Iraqi interpreters doesn't seem a controversial issue to me. Plenty of people (yes Aaro-Watch watchers, I'm not going to name any, because I can't think of any names - I know I've committed the cardinal sin of blogging known as Hari hand-waving) think the US and Allies did a terrible thing in abandoning the Iraqis who rose up against Saddam in Gulf War I. I can't see why there aren't more signatories to a simple call to support those who directly aided us. No doubt there will be a long post on Comment is Free thick with impressive words and self-importance asserting that because the US and the UK have done this, and we are civilized, it was in effect the right thing to do.

Finally, seeing Aaro's name there threw me a little. I'd assumed that he just wasn't a signer, probably having had his fill of petitions back in his NUS days. He stayed away from Unite Against Terror and the Euston Manifesto (perhaps I'm being thick, but I can't find the signatories page). But a lot of people who signed both of those haven't signed here. Perhaps Dave would rather put his name to sensible, concrete proposals as against verbose essays which damn Hamas and MicroSoft amongst other things.

If any readers haven't signed, I suggest you do so.

10 Comments:

Blogger Jasper Milvain said...

Thank you for the prod. Signed now, finally. There's a link to give a full list of names: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Iraqi-Employees/?showall=1

And while you're distributing credit around the World of Decency... Oliver Kamm is also on there.

8/10/2007 06:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh joy !

"The Fall Out: How a guilty liberal lost his innocence"

"In 2001 Andrew Anthony was 39, a successful "Observer" and "Guardian" journalist who had just become a father. He was perfectly poised to settle into English middle-class middle-age life. A signed-up member of the liberal left, he'd even spent time supporting the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in the 80s. There were assumptions that, like wallet and keys, he never left the house without: the greatest menace to world security was America; crime was a function of poverty; Israel was the source of all the troubles in the Middle East. Then came the wake-up call: 9/11. Shocked by the response of liberal friends and colleagues - a belief that America had it coming, a determination to understand the perpetrator rather than support the victim - Anthony was forced to re-examine and unpick his prejudices. It seemed there were other threats in the world far more malicious and dangerous than America. Could he really go on tolerating the intolerable? "The Fall-Out" is his memoir, an account of his political education in Thatcher's Britain and the painful midlife reassessment. It shifts from the universal to the personal, the global to the local. The Iraq war, the vicious murder of Theo van Gogh, the 7/7 bombings, ethnic divisions and violence on quiet London streets: Anthony touches on all these to show how the 'muddled thinking, hypocrisy and cant' of the liberal middle-class has led to a world where guilt leaves people too timid to confront the vital issues of the day. Along the way there are revealing encounters with Christopher Hitchens, George Galloway, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Yusuf Islam and Michael Moore. From one of the country's finest journalists, this a major book about broken dreams, darkened illusions and big questions that no longer match their received answers. This is a controversial and humane reality check - an invitation to wake up and smell the cordite."

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fall-out-Guilty-Liberal-Lost-Innocence/dp/0224080776/ref=sr_1_1/202-0080979-7070276?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1186852471&sr=8-1

8/11/2007 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger Sonic said...

"Shocked by the response of liberal friends and colleagues - a belief that America had it coming,"

Does anyone know anybody who actually said that after 9-11?

8/12/2007 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Oh Jesus, not another wanker handwringing about how rising house prices helped him realise the necessity of secret detention without trial. What is it with the fucking Observer?

8/14/2007 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Mary Beard, in the LRB:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v23/n19/mult01_.html

8/14/2007 08:59:00 PM  
Blogger StuartA said...

I'm not sure the Mary Beard comment is quite definitive. Her line, at least, is that she was reporting the views of others. She said:

This wasn't just the feeling that, however tactfully you dress it up, the United States had it coming. That is, of course, what many people openly or privately think.

I'm sure that is viewed in the ranks of Decency as at best disingenuous. But she never unambiguously stated that "America had it coming" was her own opinion, and certainly disavowed that view subsequently.

Of course, if you agree with her summary of other people's views then the point is proven, but I don't see her presenting any particularly strong evidence. She doesn't supply details of anyone who used those words.

8/15/2007 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I don't buy that explanation. She said:

The horror of the tragedy was enormously intensified by the ringside seats we were offered through telephone answering machines and text-messages. But when the shock had faded, more hard-headed reaction set in. This wasn't just the feeling that, however tactfully you dress it up, the United States had it coming. That is, of course, what many people openly or privately think. World bullies, even if their heart is in the right place, will in the end pay the price.

The 'we' seems to imply she is including herself, and anyway in her explanation you link to she says it was only her noting other's reactions, and then she's goes on to defend it as not meaning what you might think it means. Which would be an odd thing to be be able to do if she wasn't thinking it herself.

But anyway, if you do believe her, then the answer so Sonic's question is simply: "'many people' Mary Beard knows".

8/15/2007 08:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I think a more important question* is why Andrew Anthony should be shocked to find that his 'liberal friends and colleagues' believed that 'America had it coming'.

That phrase can mean a number of things: that the US had deserved to be attacked; that the US had provoked the attack; that the US had made the attack more likely; or simply that the US had been bound to get attacked sooner or later.

None of those - even the first one - implies that the attack itself was a good thing, or that the victims deserved what happened to them. But that seems to be the response Anthony thought he'd heard. And yes, it would be pretty shocking if the Guardian-reading classes had been dancing in the streets that day. They weren't, in my world.

It seemed there were other threats in the world far more malicious and dangerous than America.

I think that sums up a lot of the Decent (proto-Decent?) reaction to 9/11. Yes, there are other threats in the world far more dangerous to us than America; yes, there are people out there who really would like to kill us. But yes, America is still 'the greatest menace to world security' - just not, necessarily, the greatest menace to the security of you and me and Andrew Anthony.

*As distinct from the most important question, which is 'who's Andrew Anthony when he's at home, and why should anyone care what he thinks?'

8/15/2007 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger StuartA said...

I don't buy that explanation.

Fair enough. But I maintain what she wrote was ambiguous, and she did not defend that opinion as her own.

Which would be an odd thing to be be able to do if she wasn't thinking it herself.

Not really. She summarised what she claimed other people thought. Some people interpreted her summary one way; she apparently meant it a different way.

But anyway, if you do believe her, then the answer so Sonic's question is simply: "'many people' Mary Beard knows".

I thought I covered this. To repeat myself:

Of course, if you agree with her summary of other people's views then the point is proven, but I don't see her presenting any particularly strong evidence. She doesn't supply details of anyone who used those words.

I don't see why I should believe this claim on her say-so any more than, for instance, Cohen's, particularly if the only evidence she actually points to is a Question Time broadcast. Besides, if you want to start nitpicking, she also claimed to know what people "think", whereas Sonic asked about what was said.

8/15/2007 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Orwell on executions.

Note how his pertinent remarks about the executiond of "quislings" go with a general dislike of enthusiasm for executions. One wonders whether the pro-war blogs and papers, who hailed the death of Saddam, would have felt the same.

(And of course it's true at the same time that he wrote of Churchill:

I'd gladly shoot him when the war is won
Or now, if there was someone to replace him
)

and later regretted, not the sentiment but the tone in which he'd criticsed the actual target of his piece, Alex Comfort. Complicated and contradictory man, Orwell, and not one to be appropriated for simple worldviews or simplicities in general.)

8/18/2007 07:58:00 PM  

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