Sunday, November 25, 2007

Nick sums up what's wrong with him

"I looked at the heckler at the Labour meeting and imagined his life in an instant."

We could just leave it there, I suppose, but "The-Stopper-from-Decent-Central-Casting" (presumably too grubby to get an invitation to one of those Islington dinner parties) does (allegedly) have this to say:

Only rich Iranians wanted democracy, he declared. The true voice of the masses, the tribune of the people we must attend to and negotiate with, was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iranian democracy is pretty imperfect, with all kinds of "liberal" candidates being barred by the clerics before the elections even happen, but there are elections, and those elections pitted Ahmadinejad against more liberal candidates. And Ahmadinejad won. Because more people voted for him. On the basis of the last election, Ahmadinejad's claim to be the "voice of the masses" looks disturbingly secure. Maybe it is Nick who isn't so keen on democracy?

(Of course the Decents might think that the only reasons ordinary Iranians would vote for an extreme over a moderate conservative would be the unavailablity of secular liberal candidates ....)

The rest of the column is boilerplate "Ayaan Hirsi Ali isn't the nutter libruls lyingly claim she is."

20 Comments:

Blogger Matthew said...

It need a good edit, that piece, but am I right in saying that Nick's basically signed up to point of view of AHA that the Islamist=Islam, and therefore we are in a war in which we should millitary crush all of Islam?

11/25/2007 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Bloody hell, he's still peddling the line that Garton Ash and Buruma 'attack' AHA rather than critique her. It's as if he couldn't tell the difference between Stephen Green who wanted 'Jerry Springer: the Opera' to be effectively censored and not broadcast because he didn't like the concept and a review of same by, say, Michael Billington. There is no way that Garton Ash subscribes to the view that "... there is no moral difference between those who would subjugate women, kill Jews and homosexuals, place the dictates of a seventh-century holy book above the parliaments of free peoples ..." Alleging that he does (or did before he 'apologised') is scandalous.

In my view trouble comes only when white liberals who don't understand religious politics assume any far rightist can be a friend so long as he stops short of planting bombs on the London underground. I'm pretty much the sort of white liberal he means, and I don't accept the word 'friend' in that sentence. I think liberal democracy (from the Enlightenment onward) is predicated on having dialogue with people one disagrees with. The Houses of Parliament are built on that principle with the front benches the distance of two drawn swords apart (IIRC, and that's not some sort of myth). We're supposed to talk to people we disagree with and are not 'friends' with.

I hope Garton Ash replies. He's been misrepresented and if the Guardian/Observer has any decency, it'll allow him to correct the record.

There's also a lovely coinage in the comments: Neo-Cohen. I wish I'd thought of that.

11/25/2007 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

And what's the world coming to when the Torygraph publishes a much more liberal piece by Jemima Khan. On the subject of Muslims, liberal intellectuals like Amis find themselves uncomfortably in bed with the neocons. They even sound alike. British Muslims that I know feel overwhelmed in the face of such hostility. Too right.

11/25/2007 12:45:00 PM  
Anonymous steven said...

I happen to know an Iranian in Paris who visits her family regularly in Tehran. For what it's worth, she tells me that they're much more worried about being bombed by the US than about the twat they currently have for president. (Who is not, of course, a "dictator" in any sense of that word, despite the propaganda to the effect that he is the new Saddam Hussein omg etc.)

11/25/2007 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Well there's also the fact that Ahmadinejad is not particularly powerful in Iran. Its certainly not his decision as to whether Iran develops nuclear missiles, or not - Nick's apparent belief otherwise simply demonstrates how ignorant (and disinterested?) he is in the region.

Incidentally, there seem to be good reasons for doubting that Ayaan Hirsi Ali's stories about her own experiences are actually true. Journalists who've gone to Somalia have had real problems substantiating them, and found various details that seem to contradict them.

11/25/2007 07:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Jon said...

Ed Husain, who renounced the jihad lovers of Hizb ut-Tahrir and joined the Labour party

There is something amusing about that sentence. Can't put my finger on it through.

11/26/2007 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

but the assault wasn't led by the churches and Daily Mail but by Timothy Garton Ash and Ian Buruma

Using the word "assault" here is terrible journalese. I can't imagine the mild mannered Garton Ash or Ian Buruma "assaulting" anyone. I think they criticised her a bit, but surely this is not an "assault"?

11/26/2007 07:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the most truly disingenuous and (arguably) dangerous part of Cohen's piece (which is otherwise typical in its failure to understand debate and its invention of anonymous 'enemies') is this:

On this reading, there is no moral difference between those who would subjugate women, kill Jews and homosexuals, place the dictates of a seventh-century holy book above the parliaments of free peoples... and those who wouldn't.

What he does the whole way through this piece is steadfastly refuse to actually consider any of Hirsi Ali's ideas. He says that she 'wouldn't so any of the above', but he won't say what she would do - her ideas are not limited to critiques of hardline Islamic countries, and Cohen either doesn't know it (because his enemies' enemies are his friends) or does, but can't admit to what Garton Ash so perceptively noted - that Hirsi Ali's experience is not only individual (and often, as someone on here said, unproveable) but there is also an awful lot fo criticise in what she suggests about Islam - gems like 'Violence is inherent in Islam—it's a destructive, nihilistic cult of death.'

The problem i have with all this is not really Hirsi Ali's ideas about Islam - they are typical of exactly what Garton Ash describes, a zealous atheism as opposed to rational deliberation - but it's her adoption as a poster kid by people like Nick and Andrew Anthony (not to mention her mates at work in Washington), who don't really ever bother to actually ask questions of her ideas, and as devotees of 'enlightenment thought' should really know better.

It's the idea of black and white, she is on the GOOD side and Tariq Ramadan is BAD - that's so depressing about Decency.

11/26/2007 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

A related point perhaps worth making is that some people's ideas and statements are interrogated rather more harshly than others. Statements by Ali or Amis are allowed to be exaggerations or one-offs or to not really mean what they say or to not be representative. Meanwhile other people (Tariq Ramadan comes to mind, but there are many others) are subject to the One Quote And You're Out rule.

11/26/2007 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous redpesto said...

I wonder if Nick read this piece by Garton Ash last week?

TGA: "In the form "Islamofascism", and with the added spice of references to "totalitarianism", the label elides two things that need to be kept separate. One is the mentality of death-seeking and death-delivering fanatics. The other is a totalitarian political system that controls major states."

And also:

Most Islamic terrorists are, in some sense, Islamists, but most Islamists are not terrorists. They are reactionaries. They propose a profoundly conservative religious vision of society which, in its attitudes to free speech, apostasy, homosexuality and women, is generally anathema to secular liberal convictions (including, emphatically, my own). But for the most part they do so through peaceful political means, not through violence.

In other words, I suspect in this instance, Garton Ash can make clear (and better) distinctions, whereas Nick doesn't and can't.

11/26/2007 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

also worth noting that the "Labour meeting" where this all kicked off was not really a "Labour Meeting", it was the annual meeting of creepy Blairites Progress. The idea that anyone would have been a "Heckler" at this meeting is pretty unlikely, and that they would get across the long sentence implied by Nick in a "heckle" . More lilely this was some poor ordinary Progress supporter who had the temerity to disagree with Nick Neocon and suggest there should be negotiations with the President of Iran (rather than unspecified, unelected and powerless Iranian "democrats"

11/26/2007 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Presumably as a journalist Nick taped the meeting and is in a position to show otherwise?

11/26/2007 11:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In fairness, journalists do not tape all - or even many - meetings they speak at. Notes are normally acceptable. In this case Nick was a member of the panel.

11/26/2007 12:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Jon said...

There's a classic post up on HP right now.

http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/2007/11/26/a_time_to_kill_a_time_to_heal.php

It's purified Decency. It's about Yuval, a "remarkable Israeli pediatrician/attack helicopter pilot who both treats Palestinian children from Gaza and kills Palestinian terrorists firing rockets from Gaza intended to kill Israelis."

It strikes me that an Israeli pediatrician/attack helicopter pilot is a perfect Decent profile. It really does cover the bases!

11/27/2007 10:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Aaro - Blair - Iraq TV programme. Are you going to do a comment? Where are there some comments on it?

(I've seen Septicisle and Robert Fox in the Guardian - anywhere else?)

11/28/2007 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

It's purified Decency. It's about Yuval, a "remarkable Israeli pediatrician/attack helicopter pilot who both treats Palestinian children from Gaza and kills Palestinian terrorists firing rockets from Gaza intended to kill Israelis."

At the age of three Comrade Ogilvy had refused all toys except a drum, a sub-machine gun, and a model helicopter. At six -- a year early, by a special relaxation of the rules -- he had joined the Spies, at nine he had been a troop leader. At eleven he had denounced his uncle to the Thought Police after overhearing a conversation which appeared to him to have criminal tendencies. At seventeen he had been a district organizer of the Junior Anti-Sex League. At nineteen he had designed a hand-grenade which had been adopted by the Ministry of Peace and which, at its first trial, had killed thirty-one Eurasian prisoners in one burst. At twenty-three he had perished in action. Pursued by enemy jet planes while flying over the Indian Ocean with important despatches, he had weighted his body with his machine gun and leapt out of the helicopter into deep water, despatches and all -- an end, said Big Brother, which it was impossible to contemplate without feelings of envy. Big Brother added a few remarks on the purity and single-mindedness of Comrade Ogilvy's life. He was a total abstainer and a non-smoker, had no recreations except a daily hour in the gymnasium, and had taken a vow of celibacy, believing marriage and the care of a family to be incompatible with a twenty-four-hour-a-day devotion to duty. He had no subjects of conversation except the principles of Ingsoc, and no aim in life except the defeat of the Eurasian enemy and the hunting-down of spies, saboteurs, thought-criminals, and traitors generally.

11/28/2007 01:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Backword Dave said...

I love that passage. I can never decide if "hand-grenade ... which, at its first trial, had killed thirty-one Eurasian prisoners in one burst." makes it perfect or spoils it. Mostly, I go for the former.

11/28/2007 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Malky Muscular said...

Stunned that nobody's mentioned Aaro's latest, in which all who criticise Decent men become smartass intelligentsier-than-thou beard strokers. I would be inclined to say that this was the moment in which Decency jumped the shark, were I not certain that a hundred jetskis rev fishwards every single bloody day.

Honestly, I don't know where to begin.

11/28/2007 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

"Anonymous" who posted extensive citations from the works of Gilad Atzmon here. I've deleted your comment - fuck off and don't come back.

11/29/2007 07:40:00 AM  
Anonymous redpesto said...

It's purified Decency. It's about Yuval, a "remarkable Israeli pediatrician/attack helicopter pilot who both treats Palestinian children from Gaza and kills Palestinian terrorists firing rockets from Gaza intended to kill Israelis."

Like Comrade Ogilvy...or Lieutenant Kije

11/29/2007 01:33:00 PM  

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