Monday, November 03, 2008

"My favourite political website, Harry's Place"

Sorry, Justin - from the horse's mouth, Harry's Place is officially on topic. A strange paradox here - Dave's article in the JC is a fine example of the genre "Big Chief Eye-Spy's Book of AntiSemitic Tropes"[1], pioneered by David Hirsh of ENGAGE and brought to perfection by the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism. But what is one to say about someone who has such a nice sensibility about the use of racist code-language, but who declares that his favourite political website is Harry's Place?

[1]I would regard referring to a member of the Rothschild family as a "money-changer" as careless to say the least, but Mandelson portrayed as a snake? Nah. Mandelson is regarded popularly as sneaky, silent and poisonous (cf George Osborne, who accused PM of "pouring poison in my ear", which would certainly have been pounced on as an A-ST if someone else had said it. I also think the homophobia thing is a hell of a stretch - drawing Mandelson as a big pink cock appeals to a cartoonist simply because it's funny.

37 Comments:

Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

it's pissweak in general, this article, isn't it?

These conceits are Bell's own; they emerge from inside his imagination, rather than from any objective view of his targets.

and yet...

the incredibly impetuous and emotional Lord Mandelson

He can't have it both ways.

Steve Bell's Mandelson-snake is a new thing, isn't it? as in, judging from memory and from the guardian archives, the Mandelson-as-snake conceit appeared in print for the first time the day before the cartoon Aaro is talking about. In the first Bell cartoon the snake is an obvious reference to the 'dropping poison' line - as it is doing just that, dropping poison into Brown's ear.

In that cartoon, the snake is not 'insinuiating itself everywhere', but it is in the second cartoon, which is fairly clearly a comment on Osborne's lack of wisdom in briefing on Mandy the snake, since the snake is coiled all around him. And it's a fairly straightforward parody of one of the most famous works of art in the world - Laocoon, in the Vatican. Maybe a homosexual undertone there, but then again, maybe not - it's very much in the eye of the beholder, and Aaro does a pisspoor job of making the case. There is also no cartoon involving a yacht, which Aaro's piece implies, either.

What really frustrates me is how this kind of thing cheapens the charges of homophobia that can rightly be directed at many detractors of Mandelson in the British press. This is another attempt to paint people one opposes as 'objectively antisemitic', isn't it? And it's about as convincing as those countless attempts to call anti-war protesters 'objectively pro-Saddam'.

11/03/2008 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

It was this piece of amateur psychoanalysis which really caught my eye.

I don't think it is particularly fanciful to see Bell's Mandelson as a gay-rape fantasy, in which Bell shares his unconscious fears that the homosexuals are after his (and our) vulnerable openings.

Crikey!

11/03/2008 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger philip.eagle said...

As I recall Bell first depicted Mandelson as a snake in a series of If... strips when Mandelson was Northern Ireland Secretary, as a pun on the legend of St Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland.

11/03/2008 01:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If homophobic abuse of Peter Mandelson is a bad thing, then I hope that DA is about to pronounce anathema on Wheen for all the shit that's come out of the Eye on that topic over the years.

Chris Williams

11/03/2008 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Isn't pouring poison in the ear an very old anti-Catholic trope rather than a contemporary anti-Semitic one? All it presumably means is that George Osborne's read John Webster.

11/03/2008 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Incidentally, you don't get round me this easily. It's still a fiver a throw (or a euro on Fridays, which I will generously declare to be HP Happy Hour).

Note though it's not actually for mentioning the site, it's for "OMG have you seen what they're saying now" postings. "In cretin news, cretins today behaved cretinously" - not exactly Man Bites Dog, is it?

11/03/2008 02:12:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Webster? Though Osborne has a history degree, and therefore presumably knows a bit about literature, Shakespeare (specifically Hamlet) seems a more likely source.

Webster was more into poisoned Bibles and that sort of thing, wasn't he?

11/03/2008 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Ah, I think you're right - I was misremembering The White Divel.

Now if I'd paid attention at school I might be where George Osborne is now.

11/03/2008 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

I have real problems seeing that snake as a dick. And if Aaronovitch thinks its tumescent, maybe he should get his checked out by a doctor. Really strange article, particularly given that the cartoon would be equally as effective if Mandelson wasn't gay.

11/03/2008 04:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Dagon said...

I suppose its nothing to do with Bell caricaturing Bush as a chimp during the halcyon days of March 2003 when bliss was it to be alive and to be decent was very heaven?

11/03/2008 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Cover your ears , Justin (or your eyes or whatever). A certain "political website" has indeed changed its banner from the old poison-dripper and pals. It's not Russell Brand and Andrew Sachs, it's B Hussein Obama. I'm really not sure what he's supposed to have said that people don't want to hear. Progressive taxation is good? But McCain isn't a flat-taxer (nor was Bush). It's tough at the bottom? No one says it isn't.

The people who hate Obama, hate him for what he is and for what he might do. Michael Moore, now ...

11/03/2008 06:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Alex Higgins said...

Actually, there is one anti-Semetic trope that I;ve never heard Aaronovitch or HP (on topic, so ref. is justified) discuss - namely the association between Jews and Marxism/socialism/Trotskyism.

Trotskyists and Marxists have been purposefully conflated with Jews - in Stalin's USSR and Hitler's Germany respectively, for instance.

Aaronovitch and HP have protested that complaints about neoconservative influence in the US acts and denunciations of neocons are a cover for anti-Semitism.

But the same might be said, with about as much justification, of the denunciation of Trots and Reds, a classic anti-Semetic trope. And one it could be said that they may even have used on occasion.

11/03/2008 07:36:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Trotskyists and Marxists have been purposefully conflated with Jews - in Stalin's USSR and Hitler's Germany respectively, for instance.

It happened in the UK as well. Around the time of the Balfour Declaration the Jews were feared, especially by the upper classes, as agent of Bolshevikism.

But Alex if you follow your argument through to its logical conclusion that means that David T is Britain's most obsessive anti-semite.

11/03/2008 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I largely agree with Alex, but with anti-intellectualism for anti-communism. Nixon counted 'Jews in New York' among his enemies. He (probably) meant the New York Times as much as anything. Similarly, there's a fear of Hollywood in certain circles - it's partly a red scare thing, partly just philistine, and partly anti-Semitic. Where you see one of those, you tend to find the others. Mad Mel has just moved fear and loathing of the Jews onto Muslims, otherwise she's McCarthyism as usual.

Bubby, actually Alex's logic points to Mad Mel, not David T.

11/04/2008 06:40:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Update: Hah!

11/04/2008 06:44:00 AM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

My favourite political website, Harry's Place

Come on, you're just pissed because he didn't say it was AW (iWOD)

; )

11/04/2008 08:39:00 AM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

As someone mentioned Mad Mel, those nice people at Liberal Conspiracy have let me write a piece on her anti-Obama hysteria, if I may be allowed a shameless plug.

11/04/2008 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

It did occur to me that Aaro might have been invoking HP in order to wind us up...

11/04/2008 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Speaking of Harry's Place, could we, perhaps, compile of roster of decentist bloggers who are now backing Obama who once (during the Lebanon war, for example) treated Zombietime as a credible source of information?

Mad Mel at least has the virtue of consistency in her reception and recycling of wingnuttia.

11/04/2008 09:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing about Mad Mel is that her rhetoric is so extreme that it surely places her in a tricky spot. Either it is all overblown and she invokes the apocalypse at the first sign of political disagreement - in which case everything she says is trivialised - or her analysis would justify if not obligate assasination or civil war to protect civilisation.

Even failing that, and we all know how these existential conflicts seem to require very little action beyond column writing, you would think that Mad Mel would be embarrassed if Obama were to win and we got anything less than civil war in the US or WWIII or something. I guess the US would leave Iraq, but surely even Mad Mel would have trouble painting that as the end of civilisation? Ah, but even asking that, I already know the answer.

11/04/2008 11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Bubby, actually Alex's logic points to Mad Mel, not David T.

Surely not? David T spends far more time obsessing about obscure trot groupuscles than Mad Mel.

who once (during the Lebanon war, for example) treated Zombietime as a credible source of information?

Ho ho ho. We all remember when David T had his little 'Did the planes hit the second tower' moment and all the other wignuts piled in to support him. It rather rich of him to denounce others for peddling wackjob conspiracy theories.

11/04/2008 11:27:00 AM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

To be fair(!!) to Mel at least she considers the biggest threat to civilisation to be the prospective President of the USA (ie the most powerful man in the world) and not the Neasden branch of the SWP/Respect.

By the way, in the comments on the Stephen Fry/anti-American thread at HP I notice mention was made of one of those infamous dinner parties where liberal middle class types spend the whole time venting their anti-American spleen to the horror of the sole working-class Decent in attendance. How come I never get invited to them? I mean I read the Independent and Guardian and everything.

11/04/2008 01:03:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

Otoh, to be fair (?!) to David T, he does at least hate the Trots for being Trots. Contrast with Mel, who sees in the Trot sects a conspiracy with the liberals, blacks, intellectuals, Jews[1] etc to bring down the USA.

[1] Yes; see for example this piece, where Melanie Phillips excoriates American Jews for smearing the reputation of Sarah Palin, being social liberals, undermining society, promoting abortions, etc. It would perhaps be a step too far to call this "anti-Semitic", but if you stripped the context away from it, it looks really bad.

11/04/2008 01:19:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Off topic. but anyone need a job?

11/04/2008 01:54:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Where do they get the dosh to pay the support staff for this journal? There's no print edition, hence no cover revenue, and there's no advertising either.

Editing Democratiya must surely rank up there with rectifying that unfortunate siuation with Jayne Mansfield as one of the worst jobs one could ever have.

11/04/2008 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

MAH has, to my surprise, reiterated his McCain endorsement, maybe at great personal cost:

"there are some powerful arguments to be made in favour of Obama, which I have been hearing from Obama supporters - such as my own girlfriend, as well as my mother - for some time now."

http://greatersurbiton.wordpress.com/2008/11/03/weighing-obama-versus-mccain/

11/04/2008 02:48:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

If it's an Edge Hill job advert then i'm guessing it's a university-funded post. which is pretty funny given how appalled Decents everywhere are that the LRB once received public money to survive. the journal has had praise from Blair and Miliband; since universities like Edge Hill rely on foreign postgrads coming over it's not necessarily a bad move to promote Decentiya. And maybe the assistant editor will mean that it actually gets edited. I doubt it, mind you.

Marko seems to be suggesting that people should vote for McCain because he said 'We are all Georgians now'. As the recent post on here showed, rather unfortunate timing; and Marko is surely self-aware enough to realise that calling Clinton's foreign policy 'dictator-appeasement and milosevic-collusion' while the younger Bush's is simply 'the removal of Saddam' is one-eyed in the extreme...

11/04/2008 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

It isn't actually on the Edge Hill website; it's also only a 6 month contract so it might in principle be funded out of a research grant and/or the Decentiya 100 Club. I wonder if it's a union job and suspect it isn't.

11/04/2008 04:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

It isn't actually on the Edge Hill website

No, but I should think it will be. From the Guardian ad (working link) Edge Hill is clearly the employer.

11/04/2008 05:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

That's a damn good rate, particularly if you look at the qualifications & experience they're asking for (essentially, none). I suspect grant funding. I also suspect they've got someone lined up - at least, I hope they do; if not, they'll have a hell of a job working through all the applications from Excel-using graduates with an interest in international politics.

11/04/2008 05:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, Phil, with your CV and editing experience... Go on, I dare you.

11/04/2008 06:19:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

it's probably a grant - what the advert suggests is that this is a one-off, 6 month position to prepare the way for an 'internship' system of deputy editing. There will be someone lined up - probably a PhD student who is close to completion.

Quite why Decentiya operates differently from other academic journals (ie going for a magazine style structure as opposed to peer review) is open to question - but then again, its editorial policies have never been in keeping with standard academic journal editing practice anyway.

11/04/2008 07:32:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

From the ad...

Excellent research, writing and interpersonal skills, and an understanding of contemporary international politics will be equally important.

It would be nice if they extended these qualifications to those who write for it.

11/04/2008 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

interpersonal skills

What, in academia?

11/05/2008 09:59:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I think that's code for 'agreeing with Alan NTM's opinions and decisions'

11/05/2008 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

surely it's code for "kissing a few ministerial arses to get the rights to republish press releases and transcripts of speeches to enhance the illusion of relevance"

11/05/2008 04:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aaro and Mandelson. Remember that Aaro is in debt to Mandelson, so it will be interesting to see how often Aaro defends Mandelson over the next few months.

Moussaka Man

11/07/2008 10:06:00 AM  

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