Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Even if...

No news organisation in the West could base their main Middle Eastern bureau anywhere other than Israel, for the simple reason that it was the only free country with a free press, an independent judiciary and a constitution. Researchers and diplomats, as well as reporters, could phone or visit Palestinians in the occupied territories, as indeed could anyone else. Crucially, in an age dominated by images, television crews could get pictures. I am not saying that the authorities do not harass foreign or Israeli correspondents trying to report the undoubted violations of Palestinian rights, simply that they can report from Jerusalem but cannot from Damascus or Riyadh.

Even if the Baathists or Wahaabis let journalists in, they would place them under constant surveillance. Meanwhile any local invited to go on air to criticise his or her rulers would refuse because they knew that they would be running a terrible risk.


Nick's rather strange Standpoint tv reviewer gig continues.

Al Jazeera is based in Qatar. Wikipedia has a rather long section on the attempts to censor or silence the network.

During the 2011 Egyptian protests, on 30 January, the Egyptian government ordered the TV channel to close its offices. A day after, on 31 January, Egyptian security forces arrested six Al Jazeera journalists for several hours and seized their camera equipment. There were also reports of disruption in Al Jazeera Mubasher's Broadcast to Egypt.

On 4 March 2011, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Al Jazeera provided more informative news coverage than the opinion driven coverage of American mass media. Most American media outlets declined comment. Michael Clemente of Fox News called the comments "curious," while not directly refuting them.


I think that Nick wrote what he did because he's taken to using "the Middle East" to mean "Palestine" but if so, that doesn't quite fit with his broader criticisms of Jeremy Bowen.

The BBC's Middle East editor is not the only expert whose expertise now looks spurious. The Arab uprising is annihilating the assumptions of foreign ministries, academia and human rights groups with true revolutionary élan. In journalistic language, it is showing they had committed the greatest blunder a reporter can commit: they missed the story. They thought that the problems of the Middle East were at root the fault of democratic Israel or more broadly the democratic West.


Some of the problems of the ME are the fault of the West. These go back to at least World War I, and we do keep giving money and selling arms to the bastards currently in power so they can stay there. I can't think of any human rights group or expert who has ever praised Gadaffi (for example) except in the very faint way of saying that he's less of a bastard than he used to be.

Two 'bastards' in one paragraph. Elegant variation can eat my shorts.

161 Comments:

Blogger ejh said...

I just assume Nick doesn't know what he's talking about and is condemning the anti-Zionists in his own head.

The alternative would either be that Nick doesn't acre whether wht he says is true or untrue, which as yet I don't (for most purposes) believe, or that he's entered Melanie Phillips territory in which truth is what you fantasise it to be.

4/05/2011 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Wohoops, sorry - I had to mess about to get that published and I missed out the openign part. Which observed that I can think of many, many pieces I've read on the Middle East which have talked about the Arab regimes and the Arab street and hoped that the latter would rise up against the former.

Nick's premise is nonsense.

4/05/2011 01:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Journalists can report from Jerusalem"

Indeed they can, though I wonder how many of them realise that they are not in the capital of Israel.

Guano

4/05/2011 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Nick's premise is nonsense.

Oh, absolutely. He seems to be fixated on this idea that ME experts are somehow all pro the status quo/have gone native etc. I don't know why he believes this; it seems to be related with the anti-intellectualism he's been developing. He just doesn't like eggheads and researchers and journalists in more glamorous locales than Upper Street.

The thing is that he's so comically wrong about dissent in the Arab world. Al Jazeera had -- as everyone who's watched it via YouTube or whatever knows -- broadcast a lot of criticism of regimes in the ME. The tame Egyptian media were saying that the protests were poorly attended and had failed and don't bother going and so on while AJ *showed* thousands of people demonstrating and it showed them with signs (and with their faces uncovered). So there is a critical Arab medium; people did criticise the government, and they weren't visibly afraid, viz Meanwhile any local invited to go on air to criticise his or her rulers would refuse because they knew that they would be running a terrible risk We've seen people do so. This protestor doesn't show his face, true. (Not the video I was looking for; the CousCous kid will know the pic or video I was thinking of.)

I don't know how Nick can write stuff which is so clearly factually incorrect, or how he's allowed to go on doing so.

This is somewhat related to the dispute I had with Michael Ezra here a few weeks ago about Juan Cole and Marc Lynch. Michael seemed to view them as a fifth column in DC and he quoted and linked to a blogger who'd found a factual error in Juan Cole's blog. I found the post in question, and JC had been informed of the mistake in his comments, had accepted the correction and revised his post and acknowledged doing so, which seems the honest thing to do, and only those who have never made a mistake and believe they never will can sneer with impunity. I don't know much about either Cole or Lynch -- I recognise that neither are pro "regime change" which makes them anti-democracy in the Paul Wolfowitz/neocon world view, but I get the impression that both are sympathetic to the "Arab street".

I mean, FFS, Ian Kershaw wrote a two-volume biography of Hitler. That doesn't make him a Nazi. Studying something and being sympathetic to it aren't the same thing.

4/05/2011 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Damn Blogger and its comment-hungry ways.

Again, then - run it through the filter of Nick's previous behaviour, and it's pretty clear what's going on.

Nick has found an incredibly simple, black and white explanation for a series of major political problems. The reason the Middle East has so many problems is, its people are unwillingly ruled by tyrants! It can't possibly be more complex than that, because Nick has decided that it isn't.

And yet, lots of people disagree with Nick and are quite angry about Israel/Palestine, a place that only interests Nick insofar as he can beat his foes about the head with it.

Since Nick's new idea is so simple and straightforward, how could anyone disagree? There must be something wrong with those people that prevents them from agreeing.

Now, Nick isn't quite mad enough to accuse the entire Middle East correspondent set of pro-terrorist antisemitism - he likes having a job, after all, and would like to have others in future - so he reaches into his big bag of political insults. Therein, he finds a load of ignorant waffle about bruschetta, and west-hating liberal relativists and so on. A cartoon lightbulb switches on above his head - aha!

Usually, I'd be exaggerating about this for comic effect. Since this is Nick, I'm being serious. I don't think it's any more complicated than that.

And, presumably he still has a job because his editors like his output, for some mad reason. That, or the Observer thinks that charging £2.20 for a paper that intentionally insults its custsomers is a good business model.

Word verification: Ricin. What are you guys up to, over there?

4/05/2011 09:20:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Researchers and diplomats, as well as reporters, could phone or visit Palestinians in the occupied territories, as indeed could anyone else.

well... during Operation Cast Lead Israel refused to let any journalists into Gaza. Not technically an occupied territory but still.

It's also very embarrassing that Nick had never mentioned Fred Halliday until the LSE/Libya stuff blew up.

Nick's latched onto this idea of 'teh experts, they know nothing', but it jsut doesn't work. He's clearly tried to work out how his being caught napping with regard to the middle east can be spun as something that's not a result of his own laziness but of the, er, liberals, or something.

He must be spending a lot of time writing his book at the moment because he's managed to reproduce pretty uninteresting material - the LSE stuff - in every single one of the publications he writes for.

Some of that piece is just woeful though. I mean:

When Human Rights Watch did gain entry, its emissaries were honoured guests, visiting an exotic country other journalists and campaigners could not enter. They were grateful, and psychologically dependent on their hosts.

well - psychologically is a pretty worrying phrase there. and HRW's archive demonstrates some pretty strong condemnations. I wonder where Nick could be getting his material here? hmm, a google of the Libyan source he is quoting brings up - why it couldn't be!

http://hurryupharry.org/2011/03/07/human-rights-watch-and-libya/

it's only the clearly partisan editor of just journalism - which, lest we forget, Nick actually abandoned because it was too focused on Israel - writing for the Weekly Standard! and reposted by HP Sauce! you could not make this shit up. Nick is relying on the most partisan sources for his piece about media bias. also he's actively misrepresenting his Libyan source, who says nothing about 'psychological dependence' but instead accuses HRW of exchanging access for a soft touch.

my fave bit is this, though:

Anna Wintour, a fashion magazine editor who could be a tenured LSE professor

huh? there's about 100 things wrong with that phrase...

4/06/2011 07:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to add some local colour on the 'regional desk' front, CNBC's operations are based in Bahrain and CNN operates from Dubai.

4/06/2011 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Thanks Anon, I had the thought of checking where the regional offices of other "Western media" were. God, doesn't Nick do any research at all now?

This from the Telegraph is rather fun: David Cameron: Britain caused many of the world's problems. Nick seems to be trying to deny the" West as root cause" thing: does that make him right of the Tory leader?

And, presumably he still has a job because his editors like his output, for some mad reason. That, or the Observer thinks that charging £2.20 for a paper that intentionally insults its custsomers is a good business model.

Funnily enough, I don't think I've ever written on this, but I think it's deliberate on the part of the Observer. I don't know if it's masochism on the part of some readers, or showing how broad-minded they are that they can take being insulted, or the belief that he isn't talking about them but about other, bad faith sneering coward and flinching traitor, Observer readers. But I do think that "you're a bunch of wankers" is for some reason a necessary ingredient in a liberal paper.

4/06/2011 03:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anna Wintour, a fashion magazine editor who could be a tenured LSE professor

As the late Kirsty MacColl might have replied: 'In these shoes? I don't think so.'

[redpesto]

4/06/2011 05:31:00 PM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

Gaza. Not technically an occupied territory but still.
Or not technically an unoccupied territory?

4/07/2011 08:36:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

But I do think that "you're a bunch of wankers" is for some reason a necessary ingredient in a liberal paper.

Is it pertinent to ask why arses like Julian Glover are paid to write for the Graun?

4/07/2011 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Yes, I think it is. I can think of all sorts of reasons. Flame baiting is more fun for writers, for example. Or perhaps Grauniad readers' legendary fairness means they need to read opposing views. For some, I think it's more like bad faith: they started out as lefties or they grew up in left-wing homes, but they don't believe any of that stuff anymore, they just pretend they do to keept their friends and "fashionable status" but if they don't get some commentary they do agree with, they stop buying the paper. And for others, I think it really is self-flagellation.

Honestly, that was part of the reason I moved to the Telegraph. I didn't like a lot of their writers, but at least they didn't seem to hate their readers.

4/07/2011 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Oh, and that applies in the US too. See Maureen Dowd and David Brooks among others. They're not funny, not more than competent writers, have no special insights from education or experience, aren't insightful as people, and don't do research. Their only talent appears to be winding up the readership. Yet they go on being paid.

4/07/2011 10:52:00 AM  
Anonymous bensix said...

The Guardian seems to love forcing bad columnists on its readers. To misquote Hitchens they've printed Bunting, Bidisha, Brand and Burchill, and that's just the bs.

4/07/2011 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

See Maureen Dowd and David Brooks among others...

I always assumed that was fallout from the Nixon era, when the papers decided that they and their readers were all out of touch with the Republican wackos of flyover country, and started beating their readership in an effort to appeal to a demographic that hated them and didn't buy their product anyway.

4/07/2011 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I'm not sure it's to do with people who've grown apart from the left pretending ot still belong while wanting to read stuff that they 'agree with now'.

For me it's characteristic of being left-wing and middle class, knowing you're living a bit of a contradictory life but that you don't really want to lose it, so joking about it and really enjoying it when people take the piss.

I'm fairly happy with the contradictions etc myself - nobody can live an ideologically perfect life. you see it where i live (on the 'wrong' side of the Thames but in a pretty nice enclave) quite a lot - people who always erred to the left politically, but have ended up with decent jobs and thus live in recently gentrified areas, complaining about how terribly middle class everyone is while actually being terribly middle class themselves. They'll buy the Guardian because they always have and the other papers are genuinely worse (at least i reckon so) but will be a bit embarrassed about it.

on a less london-middle-class tip, an awful lot of leftie bloggers will post pieces about 'things i dislike in the guardian', but they'll still buy it. never underestimate people's capacity to enjoy pissing themselves off.

In Nick Cohen's case, instead of doing it in a lighthearted way like the majority of the examples above, he really, really, really means it, which is just embarrassing, but at least means that he's still in the political pages and isn't in the Magazine...

4/07/2011 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

FR: that's an interesting point, but I don't think it's quite right. The likes of David Brooks are really poor at explaining their philosophy anyway. And it doesn't explain why the Guardian is so keen on publishing trolls. (Julie Burchill especially.)

OC: I think that's more like it. Yes, most slagging off the middle classes is more tongue in cheek, and there's usually an element of "they can take it". But Nick is so terribly serious about it despite getting similar stick from Geoff Mulgan (re the Guardian being 'fashionable' and 'cynical').

I don't know if Norman Geras still buys the Guardian. He went through a long phase of "isn't it dreadful? Madelaine Bunting and mbunderstanding". But, yes, I think he enjoyed being pissed off in a way.

I just don't read Julian Glover. Total waste of time, IMO.

4/07/2011 01:49:00 PM  
Anonymous bensix said...

There's a cynical logic to it. Think of how the Mail's benefited from a hundred links to Littlejohn from outraged lefties...

4/07/2011 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Coming back to Israel, with which we are of course obsessed, might it possibly be that one reason it's written about so much, in comparison with (say) Saudi Arabia, is that it's contested? That there's so much disagreement about what it is? There's not such a debate about Saudi Arabia, everybody agrees that it's a dreadful tyranny, not that it stops us selling them weapons mind. But Israel is up for discussion, and hence the quantity of attention paid to it.

This is a statement of the bleedin' obvious, by the way.

4/07/2011 05:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry if no one is remotely interested in this, but here goes:

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thinktankcentral/2011/04/douglas-murray-and-staff-from-the-centre-for-social-cohesion-join-the-henry-jackson-society.html

4/07/2011 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Ah. Well, that makes it all rather more black and white than it used to be.

4/07/2011 08:02:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

I think the Independent's middle east bureau is in Beiruit, given that's where their chief resides.

I found my life improved immeasurably when I just ignored the comment pages.

4/07/2011 10:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Coming back to Israel, with which we are of course obsessed, might it possibly be that one reason it's written about so much, in comparison with (say) Saudi Arabia, is that it's contested?

But then a large chunk of the writing about Israel states in terms, suggests or otherwise implies that its status is contestable, so no real surprise there.

4/07/2011 10:57:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

states in terms, suggests or otherwise implies

As far as I can tell, this phrase means "says, or doesn't say".

4/08/2011 06:42:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I don't know if Norman Geras still buys the Guardian. He went through a long phase of "isn't it dreadful? Madelaine Bunting and mbunderstanding". But, yes, I think he enjoyed being pissed off in a way.

I'd be prepared to wager a substantial sum (ie about £1) that a lot of Decents still get tehGraun on a regular basis, even with all their Milne-hating etc. since Brownie's hanging out here, maybe he could tell us what he gets? I'm happy to show my allegiances - I get the Guardian most days, usually end up regretfully buying the Observer on Sundays too (simply because I've tried all the other Sundays and they're even worse, and I like the Observer sport).

I think this is linked to the 'paywall debate' - right-wingers like Michael Ezra can praise the Times' writing as much as they want but nobody's going to read it who hasn't already bought the Times.

The guardian model relies on being the paper people are going to talk about because its online content is the best-organised and most comprehensive, thus drawing more advertising revenue.

a large chunk of the writing about Israel states in terms, suggests or otherwise implies that its status is contestable

crucially that's on both 'sides', though. I've lost count of the number of people I've argued with online in the past who believe that Israel includes 'Judea and Samaria' as well as Gaza (though they don't seem to care so much about that) and the Golan Heights. HP Sauce includes contributions from someone who calls themself 'Israelinurse' and lives in the Golan...

4/08/2011 07:53:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Re Anon's Douglas Murray/HJS link.

Excellent news. Finally some talent amassing to take down the leftists, Islamists and apologists for moral relativism.

Does this (ahem) 'talent' have to amass in one place? is it like uranium?

I would like to make it clear that I am not an apologist for moral relativism. I am a moral relativist.

Depending on which way you look at me, of course.

4/08/2011 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Shorter Brownie:
Israel is only contested because the newspapers say it is.

Question: Does apologetics for Israel rot people's brains, or were apologists for Israel a little bit soft in the first place.

4/08/2011 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Shorter Brownie:
Israel is only contested because the newspapers say it is.

Question: Does apologetics for Israel rot people's brains, or were apologists for Israel a little bit soft in the first place.

4/08/2011 09:01:00 AM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

The only person I ever encountered who not only always bought and read the Guardian, but publicly announced his love of it, was a friend's dad: a fairly well known liberal Anglican bishop. This declaration was treated as the height of religious eccentricity by his offspring, albeit with a degree of embarrassed affection.

4/08/2011 09:06:00 AM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

Israelinurse is also one of the lights behind Cifwatch, so is presumably a Guardian reader, so we don't have to.
I see the Ney York Times pay-security fence is a bit holey, though I can imagine that the prospect of an informed debate with those who still read The Times might not be the most compelling reason for seeing if it is as rickety.

4/08/2011 10:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Michael Ezra said...

"right-wingers like Michael Ezra..."

On what basis is such a comment made?

One wonders if some people believe that an anti-Communist must, by definition, be right-wing.

4/08/2011 12:07:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

it's made on the basis of everything I've seen you writing, both on here and on HP Sauce.

4/08/2011 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

crucially that's on both 'sides', though. I've lost count of the number of people I've argued with online in the past who believe that Israel includes 'Judea and Samaria' as well as Gaza (though they don't seem to care so much about that) and the Golan Heights. HP Sauce includes contributions from someone who calls themself 'Israelinurse' and lives in the Golan...

A comment from a current thread -

"If you want to be coherent, you should boycott Palestinian produce as well [as produce from the settlements]. Since they live in what legally is not their country, every single Palestinian is a settler as well."

????

4/08/2011 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

On what basis is such a comment made?

To be fair you seem to be an apolitical "anti-communist" obsessive. Right/Left doesn't really apply here. Tragic on the other hand...

4/08/2011 09:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

I'd be prepared to wager a substantial sum (ie about £1) that a lot of Decents still get tehGraun on a regular basis, even with all their Milne-hating etc. since Brownie's hanging out here, maybe he could tell us what he gets?

I'm on record as disputing some of the more extreme criticism the Guardian and BBC come in for on HP comments threads. I do think the Guaridan operates double-standards with regards to platforming extremists, and the likes of Neil Clarke and Seumas Milne have no right having columns in any serious newspaper. But the paper is still on the right side of most arguments and, having done a fair bit of work with the Guardian over the years, can vouch for the integrity of at least those I met.

The BBC has its own problems but I still think it's a bloody fine organisation (I've worked with people there on and off for 10 years or so). It exhibits a low-level, liberal-left bias commensurate with its recruiting policy, but it's not nearly as bad as its detractors would have us imagine.

I get the Times most days. I did when it backed Blair and I continued to buy it after they came out for the blue shite last time around.

'Decnet' just mean anything you guys want it to mean, doesn't it?

Shorter Brownie: Israel is only contested because the newspapers say it is.

Question: Does apologetics for Israel...

That you insist support for Israel's existence translates as "apologetics" is not news to anyone who's acquainted with your execrable tripe.

4/08/2011 09:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Rosie said...

Re The Guardian I read Bedisha, Bunting, Milne et al on line and grind my teeth. Then I'll buy the dead-tree version to read on the train, and think "This is excellent value for the quid or whatever it costs these days." There's a lot of good writing in it.

they've printed Bunting, Bidisha, Brand and Burchill, and that's just the bs.

I take it Brooker doesn't fit in this rogues' gallery?

4/08/2011 11:02:00 PM  
Anonymous bensix said...

No - he makes me laugh. (Well, so do the others, but for different reasons...)

4/08/2011 11:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael Ezra said...

One wonders if organic cheeseboard has seen my posts arguing against unpaid internships, arguing against cuts to libraries, arguing against the death penalty, praising the radical journalist Laurie Penny, ridiculing the Federation of Conservative Students, arguing against Daniel Pipes, arguing against Melanie Phillips, to name just a few of my post that come to mind. I am sure there are more.

4/08/2011 11:48:00 PM  
Anonymous bensix said...

Brownie, decnet means whatever you want it to mean. A trapeze above a ship, perhaps...

4/09/2011 12:36:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

I do think the Guaridan operates double-standards with regards to platforming extremists, and the likes of Neil Clarke and Seumas Milne have no right having columns in any serious newspaper

Not only is this a disgraceful and loathsome comment in any circumstances, but given the website with which its author is connected, and its notorious comments box, it's also deeply hypocritical. But we've been over that particular jump too many times already.

People who come out with this stuff are vigilantes, I think. That's the closest parallel I can think of. They're there to try and hunt down, harrass and drive away people they disapprove of, and they have all the vigilante's fervour, all the cigilante's lack of discretion in their targets, and the vigilante's all their lack of consideration for the really unpleasant atmosphere they create.

"Extremists" indeed. When Seumas Milne runs a hate site, I'll call him an extremist. Until then, I can think of other people I'd much rather disappeared from view.

Word verification "sated", and I have indeed had enough of some people.

4/09/2011 07:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Rosie said...

@ejh

Would it be "disgraceful and loatheome" to say that about eg Melanie Phillips or Madeleine Bunting or Rod Liddle - that they have no right to a column in a serious newspaper? It's reasonable criticism even if you disagree with it. Since when has that been "vigilantism"? I would say shoving up a site and calling it "Aaronovitch Watch" and going on and on about Nick Cohen smacks more of "vigilantism".

4/09/2011 08:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Sarah AB said...

I browse the Guardian online, also the Independent. Not surprisingly, I don't like Milne or Bunting, but there are plenty of good articles too. I also rather like the Times, particularly on foreign policy issues, and when I buy a newspaper (not often) I tend to go for that one, partly because it's not available online for free.

I agree with ejh about Israel's contested status making it more discussable. Tiresome people (quite possibly including Nick Cohen) sometimes grumble that 'Western Feminists' discuss minor UK issues concerning women rather than say FGM - but I think one reason for this is that there really seems nothing to discuss about FGM or stoning etc - whereas with a topic such as all women shortlists there is an opportunity for debate.

@anonymous - I was interested in your link about Douglas Murray. Without having investigated either in huge depth I have a vague tick in my mind against the Henry Jackson society and a slightly less vague cross in my mind against Douglas Murray (he never said sorry, did he?) so I'm not sure what to make of that news.

4/09/2011 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

That you insist support for Israel's existence translates as "apologetics" is not news to anyone who's acquainted with your execrable tripe.

I don't insist on any such thing. I think you're an apologist for Israel because you minimise, or deny, their many crimes, and push what is basically propaganda about it.

If the BBC has a left-liberal bias its not much in evidence on Radio 4, and certainly not on radio 5.

4/09/2011 12:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Witchsmeller Pursuivant said...

Brownie - But then a large chunk of the writing about Israel states in terms, suggests or otherwise implies that its status is contestable, so no real surprise there.

Of course its status is contestable. It refuses to state its own borders. It occupies and annexes territory. How can that not be contestable?

More insinuations of bad faith and/or anti-Semitism from you and your ilk? Definitely no surprise there, at all.

And while you're here; what's the current HP line on guest posts by convicted racists? Does it reflect badly on the Decent Left when HP hosts hateful bigots above the line as well as down in the commenters' sewer?

4/09/2011 01:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Witchsmeller Pursuivant said...

bensix - The Guardian seems to love forcing bad columnists on its readers. To misquote Hitchens they've printed Bunting, Bidisha, Brand and Burchill, and that's just the bs.

You forgot Bindel.

4/09/2011 01:30:00 PM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

"As someone who advances the quaint belief that the removal of two of the worst regimes in the region—the Taliban and the Iraqi Baath Party—did not have nothing to do with the subsequent democracy "wave," I also find it discouraging that some of the loudest expressions of sectarian emotion have come from Afghanistan and Iraq."
Whoops!
Hitchens latest

4/09/2011 03:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Would it be "disgraceful and loatheome" to say that about eg Melanie Phillips or Madeleine Bunting or Rod Liddle - that they have no right to a column in a serious newspaper? It's reasonable criticism even if you disagree with it.

Saying that somebody should be denied space in a paper, specifically on the grounds of their political views (double-standards with regards to platforming extremists), isn't "reasonable criticism": it's not even criticism. Firstly, it's an ad hominem attack on the writer; secondly and more importantly, it's aimed not at the writer but at the paper, ostensibly by a sympathiser with the paper, and its aim is precisely to get them to shut down and exclude somebody. ejh is precisely correct.

As for nutters on the other side of the spectrum, when I start opining that Mad Mel ought to be kicked off the Speccie (a) because she's a long way to the Right (rather than because she's crazy) and (b) while maintaining that I myself am on the Right, then you'll have some kind of equivalence.

4/09/2011 03:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess that Brownie’s But then a large chunk of the writing about Israel states in terms, suggests or otherwise implies that its status is contestable, is pointing to people who deny Israel’s right to exist at all. The people who deny its right to exist often have fundamental, religious reasons for saying that. Certainly that’s the case with Jewish anti-Zionists who would say it was a mistake to try and establish a secular realization of the godly state.

The rest of us try to deal with the facts as they are now, and don’t see how the clock can be turned back to pre-1948. We do see Israel’s expansive / defensive movements (the settlements / the wall) as helping to defeat its own project of a Jewish state. The pre-1967 Israel had, even for many on the left in Europe, the sense of being a progressive state, and an underdog struggling to survive. That sympathy has gone now, for reasons that have to do with Israel, not the European left.

K

4/09/2011 05:19:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Given that the Israeli government contests Israel's status (among other things they think it should be able to claim the whole of Jerusalem as its inalienable capital, for one thing), Brownie's argument would lead to some pretty amusing conclusions if one followed it to the logical conclusion. Perhaps when he returns.

I hardly think that objecting to Israel's ethnic-chauvinism, that manifests in such things as denying equal rights to Israeli Arabs (who after all the original inhabitants) equates to anti-semitism. If it does, then perhaps Brownie can explain what is so bad about being anti-semitic. If it doesn't, then he needs to redraft his argument

4/09/2011 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Since when has that been "vigilantism"? I would say shoving up a site and calling it "Aaronovitch Watch" and going on and on about Nick Cohen smacks more of "vigilantism".

Y'know, I've not ever noticed the discussions of Dave or Aaro's columns suggesting that these columns shouldn't appear because of the place the writers occupy on the political spectrum.

This, again, is a statement of the bleedin' obvious.

If, Rosie, you can' tell the difference between what this site does, and the way it does it, and what another site does, and the way it does it, then you need to take another look not only at the sites concerned, but at yourself.

4/10/2011 03:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

If, Rosie, you can' tell the difference between what this site does, and the way it does it, and what another site does, and the way it does it, then you need to take another look not only at the sites concerned, but at yourself.

You need to take another look at this thread, and Rosie’s comment in particular. Rosie merely observed that your criticism was hysterical hyperbole and remarked on the irony of it appearing on a journalist watch blog. That you’re now asking her to compare this site’s output with HP’s is not only a spectacular non-sequitur, it’s also illustrative of your obsession with HP and, true to form with all obsessives, signals a default assumption that everyone else shares your obsession.

Well guess what? They don’t. So given your comment to Rosie managed to be both nonsensical and rude, I suggest that if any self-reflection is in order then you might want to put yourself forward.

Re the rest of your sanctimonious scribble, my view is that the likes of Milne and Clarke should not find a journalistic home at any publication with even vaguely social democratic pretensions. I actually give a shit if what is more or less the only serious non-rightwing daily is giving column inches to extremists with views antithetical to progressive, left-liberal values. And in the matter of Clarke, at least, the Guardian would appear to latterly agree with me. These views are no more “loathsome” than arguing that Gareth Barry should not get within a country mile of a starting spot for England. In each case, the view is a comment on the suitability and qualifications to perform the job of those in question. Fair comment, in other words.

People who come out with this stuff are vigilantes, I think...They're there to try and hunt down, harrass and drive away people they disapprove of, and they have all the vigilante's fervour, all the cigilante's lack of discretion in their targets

An occasional amateur blogger leaves a one line comment on professional journos in the comments box of a two-bit blog and this is me “hunting down” and “harassing” Milne and Clarke? This is risible, not least because the chances of either reading my comment are about 1 in 10,000. If I were interested in hunting down and harassing either Milne or Clarke, I’d probably think about posting my criticism somewhere it stood a chance of being read by either them, or Alan Rusbridger.

You do know, don’t you, that confected outrage is, fundamentally, an intellectual dishonesty?

4/10/2011 09:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

@Phil,
Firstly, it's an ad hominem attack on the writer;

Nope, my comment on their unsuitability for a left-leaning, progressive journal is an unambiguous reference to their output as journalists. As it happens, I do think that both Clarke and Milne are first-class dicks, so there’s the ad hominem you’re so desperate for. But in the matter of my original comment, you’re flat-out wrong, Phil.

secondly and more importantly, it's aimed not at the writer but at the paper, ostensibly by a sympathiser with the paper, and its aim is precisely to get them to shut down and exclude somebody.

So this an ad hominem on the writer that is, magically, also aimed at the paper - how in the name of jumping Jesus Christ do I propose to achieve my aim to convince the Guardian to ditch Milne/Clarke by leaving what amounts to little more than a comment aside in a blog read by about 30 people?

Phil, I promise to let you know when my letter-writing campaign to Rusbridger starts, but until then I’ll have to assume this more confected outrage because I'm one of those nasty HP types. Dearie me.

4/10/2011 09:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Could you at least do me the courtesy of confirming whether I'm now banned isntead of just removing my comments, asusming that's what is happening?

I don't expect an explanation for why it's okay for Justin to launch an attack on me but not okay to defend myself; just a brief confirmation will do.

4/10/2011 09:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Given my last comment remains, I'm guessing the others are stuck in the spam filter. Oh well.

4/10/2011 10:10:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

I can't say I'm particularly outraged by Brownie's comment about Clark and Milne. If someone buys a particular newspaper why shouldn't they have an opinion about whether some of its writers deserve the space they are given? I buy the Indie during the week and I'm still pissed at them for giving Julie Burchill a column.

4/11/2011 07:06:00 AM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

A few comments were caught in the spam filter: I've released them all. Apologies to those affected.

4/11/2011 08:01:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Seamus Milne? Other than the usual HP tribal thing about the SWP I'm struggling to see why anyone would care. At least anyone who claimed to be on the left (I can see why somebody who was in favour of privatisation, or PPI, or anti-union, or something would dislike him). I don't particularly like his stuff (he constantly overestimates the chances for the left, and sees the coming crisis), but there are far worse offenders.

There's something very unthinking and tribal about HP sometimes. Its all about having the wrong friends, being in the wrong place. And god forbid that you might actually engage with somebody's ideas.

4/11/2011 09:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Rosie said...

An "ad hominem attack on a writer?" If I say, "Dan Brown's books are garbage," is that an "ad hominem attack"? How else do you talk about a writer? I read Madeleine Bunting's pieces with a kind of dazed outrage that she is actually paid to produce her pretentious waffle. I have said so on my blog. I've agreed with other bloggers when they have said the same thing. Those are "vigilantism" and "ad hominem" (or "ad feminam") attacks, are they?

If, Rosie, you can' tell the difference between what this site does, and the way it does it, and what another site does, and the way it does it, then you need to take another look not only at the sites concerned, but at yourself.

Yes, Miss, and I'll clean my blazer and hand my homework in on time. I can see I've got a real attitude problem, Miss Deputy Headmistress Miss.

4/11/2011 09:27:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Yeh I've never really understood the massive problem people have with Milne. I've no great love for his writing but I don't see how it's particularly 'extremist'. One of the reasons i like the guardian's comment pages is that the writers are a pretty broad church really - Milne, Jenkins, Kettle etc. In a way Aaro's better suited to the times in that, though i just don't get on with the sport writing in the times, and i find the leaders really unconvincing (probably because they're written by oliver kamm).

I would say shoving up a site and calling it "Aaronovitch Watch" and going on and on about Nick Cohen smacks more of "vigilantism".

well it does incorporate 'world of decency'...

I wouldn't go as far as 'vigilantism', but it's not like HP Sauce doesn't have a track record of effectively inviting its readers to harass 'enemies'. The name Sean Wallis springs to mind.

I was interested in your link about Douglas Murray. Without having investigated either in huge depth I have a vague tick in my mind against the Henry Jackson society and a slightly less vague cross in my mind against Douglas Murray (he never said sorry, did he?) so I'm not sure what to make of that news.

on the one hand, it's good news that the 'centre for social cohesion' is going the way of all flesh. I think the writing was probably on the wall there when they fed inaccurate data to David Cameron for PMQs.

The HJS, though most of us on here are not exactly fans, is certainly much less hysterical - Murray's bigotry will have to be watered down which is no bad thing.

It does also prove what I've always suspected of him - he's just yer typical media whore, the first rat off a sinking ship.

4/11/2011 09:56:00 AM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

it’s also illustrative of your obsession with HP
Or the person who's been most empahtic on this site that he isn't interested in talking about HP.

If I'd the time I might launch into the idea that trying to get someone sacked and "going on and on" about Nick Cohen aren't exactly the same, but I have more outrage at HP to confect. Excuse me.

4/11/2011 10:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brownie "I do think the Guaridan operates double-standards with regards to platforming extremists, and the likes of Neil Clarke and Seumas Milne have no right having columns in any serious newspaper."

Can we be clear about this? Are you saying that Clarke and Milne are extremists? Or does the word extremists apply to other people? If it's the latter, who are these other people and what are your ground for saying that Clarke and Milne have no right to have columns in serious newspapers? Or if it's the former, what are you grounds for saying that these two gentlemen are extremists?

Guano

4/11/2011 12:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Rosie - I was taking issue with your suggestion that Brownie's freelance anathema was "reasonable criticism". "Dan Brown is a lousy novelist" may be a true statement, but it's not "reasonable criticism" - as you'll see if you make the imaginative leap to put yourself in the shoes of someone who's read The Da Vinci Code and found it unobjectionable. "Reasonable criticism" is something people can disagree on productively; in the case of writers it usually takes the form of analysing specific things they've written, rather than dismissing everything they've ever written or ever will write.

What Brownie was doing, & what you're doing wrt Madeleine Bunting, isn't criticism at all - it's polemic. I don't object to polemic - that's just a definitional point, in response to your attempted defence of Brownie. What I object to in Brownie's comment is polemical denunciation of writers as extremists - and I particularly object to the suggestion that they shouldn't be given a platform in the media, as extremists. (Obviously this has nothing to do with the actual efficacy of Brownie's bletherings, which I am happy to agree is minimal.)

4/11/2011 01:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I done bin modded!

4/11/2011 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

Thanks for the heads-up; I've freed your comment from the bin.

4/11/2011 04:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Biz said...

Sorry, I put up the Douglas Murray/HJS link. I just think that any Labour HJS supporter (McShane, NC, Chris Bryant etc) should be ever so slightly worried about Murray, given the things he's preached in the past. eg the EDL as a 'legitimate' grassroots response to the threat of Islamism (a view only really shared by the 'radical right').

4/11/2011 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger Coventrian said...

Perhaps Brownie and Sarah, who deem Milne and Clarke beyond the pale, could explain why Harry's Place engaged Terry Fitzpatrick as their 'East End' correspondent.

4/11/2011 05:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Phil, I was asked directly about my newspaper preferences generally and the Guardian specifically and gave a summary view in a comment that took about 45 seconds to write. In that comment I tried to make it clear that I don't, as it happens, go in for the complete trashing of the Guardian that occurs regularly at HP; although I also made it clear that at least some of the ciriticism it receives is deserved, and pointed to Milne and Clarke having columns as exhibits A and B in this regard.

My comments re Milne and Clarke were inelaborate, but then I wasn't attempting the forensic deconstruction of very sentence they produce that happens on here whenever DA and NC go to work. It certianly wasn't ad hominem and a lack of sophistication (espceically when none was attempted) does not invalidate or delegitimise the criticism and your assertion that my comment was an attempt to have Milne/Clarke "shutdown" is just too funny. How did I propose to get that bandwagon rolling with an aside at AW?

and I particularly object to the suggestion that they shouldn't be given a platform in the media, as extremists.

I never said Milne and Clarke should be denied any sort of platform anywhere (although I'm not going to pretend that this would upset me too much). My issue is that the country's only serious, left-leaning, daily newspaper provides that platform.

We can argue about this, but it's a perfectly legitimate point of view.

4/11/2011 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

it's also illustrative of your obsession with HP

Heh.

How often do you think I read this site with which you claim I'm "obsessed"?

(You do know, don't you, that confected outrage is, fundamentally, an intellectual dishonesty?)

4/11/2011 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

An occasional amateur blogger leaves a one line comment on professional journos in the comments box of a two-bit blog and this is me “hunting down” and “harassing” Milne and Clarke?

And of course, I was referring only to you and nobody else, and of course, I was referring only to that comment and to nothing else.

(You do know, don't you, that confected outrage is, fundamentally, an intellectual dishonesty?)

4/11/2011 06:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Rosie said...

@Phil

I've done a couple of fisks of Madeleine Bunting in my time (search my site if you're interested). Now I glance at her and then at the comments excoricating her, and think, "more pretentious drivel."

I don't know if Norman Geras still buys the Guardian. He went through a long phase of "isn't it dreadful? Madelaine Bunting and mbunderstanding". But, yes, I think he enjoyed being pissed off in a way.

Actually she has been appearing a lot less in The Graun lately - so for a while I thought the Guardian had come to their senses and kept her away. But she has popped up again quite recently.

But on the general point - a few pet hates keep the blood moving so are good for your health in moderation.

4/11/2011 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

She always struck me as being rather more civilised than most of her critics. It's also often seemed to me that aforesaid critics have been happy to employ some less than generous interpretations of what she says. But I guess that's the name of the game.

4/11/2011 06:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Witchsmeller Pursuivant said...

Brownie (here)-In that comment I tried to make it clear that I don't, as it happens, go in for the complete trashing of the Guardian that occurs regularly at HP

Brownie (at HP) in the comments to this particularly ludicrous post threatening to "bury" the Guardian for advising its readers to vote Lib Dem;

The self-indulgence of the effete, middle-class, nothing-to-lose, self-describing ‘progressive’ rears its ugly head once more. Fuck ‘em all.

You're an altogether more reasonable sounding debater when you don't have your nasty little attack dogs with you aren't you Brownie?

Now can you explain why HP invited numerous guest posts from (convicted racist) Terry Fitzpatrick and even allowed him to conduct his racist vendetta against Lee Jasper on the pages of your blog?

4/11/2011 07:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Witchsmeller Pursuivant said...

You modded me too!

4/11/2011 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Again Madelaine Bunting. Who cares. I thought David Aaronovitch was interesting because he illustrated a tendency among the Centre Left to a kind of technocratic anti-democratic thinking. And he's a smart guy, for all I disagree with him.

Stupid people are only ever worth paying attention to if they're influential. Madelaine Bunting isn't (if she's stupid, she's certainly no more stupid than her critics. As Justin hints, an ability to read is a useful thing). There are maybe three or four Guardian commentators who have any influence, and that's probably overstating it (the economics editor, Toynbee and Monbiot). The rest don't. Neil Clark is a thundering bore, so who the hell cares.

Thinking about it, I do read the guardian's economic commentators. They have some pretty good people, including Richard Wolff. Who's a Marxist. Unleash the hounds...

4/11/2011 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Argh. Missed out the main point I was trying to make.

The point of this site originally was to engage with DA because he was worth the argument. That was the point, to argue with him. Nobody suggested for a moment that he should be fired from the Guardian.

4/11/2011 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

Sorry, WP. I've retrieved your comment from the bin.

It looks as if html tags to make bold text, italics, hyperlinks, etc. trigger the spam filter v. quickly.

4/11/2011 08:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

your assertion that my comment was an attempt to have Milne/Clarke "shutdown" is just too funny.

This "ineffectuality plea" of yours is an interesting one. Once again, I was writing about the words you wrote (and I'm happy to concede that they were completely ineffectual words), not imagining you were engaged in some vast machination to manipulate the media.

I never said Milne and Clarke should be denied any sort of platform anywhere

Nor did I say you did.

My issue is that the country's only serious, left-leaning, daily newspaper provides that platform.

Exactly. As I said, "I particularly object to the suggestion that they shouldn't be given a platform in the media, as extremists."

4/11/2011 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger Coventrian said...

It seems that Brownie ignored my request to explain his site's use of convicted racist Terry Fitzpatrick.

I'll be generous and offer him another chance.

So, how's about it Brownie?

Put up, or ...

4/11/2011 09:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Witchsmeller,

Your role on this blog apepars to be to raise the logic failure quotient.

I claimed that I don't go in for the complete trashing of the Guardian that happens regularly at HP. You think citing a critical comment from a post-election thread where the topic was the Guardian's abandonment of Labour contradicts this? If I'd said I never criticise the Guardian, it would. But I didn't, so it doesn't.

Is this like that bad faith arguing which you're always accusing me of, DD?

Now can you explain why HP invited numerous guest posts from (convicted racist) Terry Fitzpatrick

This comment does not make an explicit claim that we invited a convicted racist to post at HP (as opposed to invited posts from someone who was subsequently convicted of racial harassment), but it could certainly be read that way; and given it follows this from you earlier in the thread:

And while you're here; what's the current HP line on guest posts by convicted racists?

...I'm more than entitled to interpret this as you deliberately misrepresenting the facts i.e. to give uninformed readers the impression that a convicted racist was invited to post at HP.

As you know, this is a lie and a transparent attempt to smear those whom you regard as political foes.

Glavin engaged in racist behaviour, whilst you are attempting to smear me and HP by alleging we consort with and host racists.

The only difference between you and Glavin is that one of you has been to court.

4/11/2011 09:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Coventrian,

This is not school and you are not my teacher. Don't take it personally if you don't get an isntant response, but euqally please don't kid yourself that you are giving me "chances" to respond.

As you have stayed the right side of misrepresentation, I'll happily clarify that Glavin, once a well-known anti-acist campaigner whatever other disagreements you, I, or anyone else might have had with him, posted two guest articles at HP and left several comments on other threads. During this time, Lee Jasper accused him of using racial slurs, something which Glavin denied. Glavin later admitted using the 'n' word in correspondence with Jasper, whereupon his guest articles and comments were all deleted from the HP archive and he was banned, permanently. This all occurred BEFORE Glavin was convited of any offence.

After Glavin's ban at HP and before his conviction, he could still be found posting comments at other blogs dotted around the internet, including 'Socialist (sic) Unity'. Shocking, eh?

Thanks for giving me "another chance" to clear this up.

4/11/2011 10:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

And of course, I was referring only to you and nobody else, and of course, I was referring only to that comment and to nothing else.

Oh, you mean you were referring to that blog you never visit and those bloggers you never read?

Nobody suggested for a moment that h[DA] should be fired from the Guardian.

This is getting tedious, but leaving aside the fact that I didn't suggest either Milne or Clarke should be fired, given my criticism is of their work as journalists what would be problem if I had? Are you not permitted to call for rubbish football managers to be fired from their jobs managing football teams? You make it sound as if Milne and Clarke are a pair of blue-collar workers whom I'm suggesing should get the bullet from the local factory for something they've written on the 'net.

4/11/2011 10:20:00 PM  
Anonymous bensix said...

Glavin?

I'm not sure it's significant that HP host the bloke (whatever his name was). They've no interest in consorting with racists; they'd just accept anything that casts a poor light on Da Left (or, at least, its furthest reaches).

4/11/2011 10:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

This "ineffectuality plea" of yours is an interesting one.

Nope, I'm very much focused on the "actuality". I didn't do what you claimed I did or was trying to do.

Once again, I was writing about the words you wrote (and I'm happy to concede that they were completely ineffectual words), not imagining you were engaged in some vast machination to manipulate the media.

You earlier:

it's aimed not at the writer but at the paper, ostensibly by a sympathiser with the paper, and its aim is precisely to get them to shut down and exclude somebody.

So not a vast machination to manipulate the media, just a small one designed to twist the arm of a specific paper.

Me: "I never said Milne and Clarke should be denied any sort of platform anywhere."

You just now: Nor did I say you did.

You earlier: and I particularly object to the suggestion that they shouldn't be given a platform in the media, as extremists.

As extremists or otherwise, you're talking about "a platform in the media".

As I say, this is getting tedious.

4/11/2011 10:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Fuck me - Fitzpatrick.

4/11/2011 10:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Do me a favour please, mods. Given we're talking about crimes and convictions, can you amend my name references to read 'Fitzpatrick'? Ta.

Multi-taksing, see.

4/11/2011 10:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Witchsmeller Pursuivant said...

Your role on this blog apepars to be to raise the logic failure quotient.

Given that you appear unable to distinguish between Terry Glavin, the propagandist for Israel and signatory to the Euston Manifesto, with Terry Fitzpatrick, occasional HP poster and convicted racist, I don't think I'll take that too seriously.

Is this like that bad faith arguing which you're always accusing me of, DD?

Every time we argue you call me either Daniel or DD. I don't want to people to think I'm Daniel; as far as I can tell Daniel/DD seems unafraid to post under his own name and I'm certainly not impersonating him. You should be embarrassed for being so clueless. I actually think you might be Hazel Blears, but I don't keep pointing it out.

...I'm more than entitled to interpret this as you deliberately misrepresenting the facts...As you know, this is a lie and a transparent attempt to smear those whom you regard as political foes.

I'm a stunted Situationalist, Brownie. This online persona exists primarily to goad you, as a member of the HP collective, to write things like that, so that every body else can laugh long, hard and bitterly at your lack of self-awareness. HP is poison, and whilst even you can't seem to stomach writing much for it, you do whore yourself out as a defender of it. BTW that's just my criticism of your work, not an ad hominem.

whilst you are attempting to smear me and HP by alleging we consort with and host racists.

You do. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

4/11/2011 10:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Witchsmeller Puruivant said...

Given we're talking about crimes and convictions, can you amend my name references to read 'Fitzpatrick'? Ta

Given that it's pertinent for my case that Brownie is a buffoon, and that he has retracted his accusation against Glavin, can we please leave the thread intact?

4/11/2011 11:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Given that it's pertinent for my case that Brownie is a buffoon, and that he has retracted his accusation against Glavin, can we please leave the thread intact?

Ha, as if further evidence of your mendacity were needed, here you are suggesting a request to correct an innocent faux-pas is a "retraction of an accusation". Infantile and interminably tedious.

I'm a stunted Situationalist, Brownie. This online persona exists primarily to goad you, as a member of the HP collective, to write things like that, so that every body else can laugh long, hard and bitterly at your lack of self-awareness. HP is poison, and whilst even you can't seem to stomach writing much for it, you do whore yourself out as a defender of it. BTW that's just my criticism of your work, not an ad hominem.

Or to put it another way, you're admitting you're an anonymous coward with a lying agenda.

"Self-awareness", you say?

You do.

No we don't, as I've demonstrated.

Given that it's pertinent for my case that Brownie is a buffoon

'Buffoon' or not, I know which preposition 'pertinent' takes, you numbskull.

4/12/2011 12:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Every time we argue (sic)

Catch yerself on, pal. You're a drive-by smear merchant, nothing more, and the only bit of that you haven't already conceded on this thread is the 'drive-by' bit.

Apologies to Daniel, by the way.

4/12/2011 01:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Witchsmeller Pursuivant said...

What's with the sic? Surely you remember our previous little contretemps?
The one where you described Daniel as "editor of a blog which exists for the sole purpose of 'watching' and discrediting a single journalist of Jewish extraction"?

If you don't, then please allow me to repeat my comment to you at the the time; "excuse me while I laugh and laugh and laugh at the sight of an HP author trying to lecture somebody else on the merits of arguing in good faith."

4/12/2011 07:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Witchsmeller Pursuivant said...

Or to put it another way, you're admitting you're an anonymous coward with a lying agenda

Said the anonymous coward from a racist hate-site.

4/12/2011 07:12:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

They've no interest in consorting with racists; they'd just accept anything that casts a poor light on Da Left (or, at least, its furthest reaches).

indeed.

Oh and HP Sauce, while a fairly repellent place, is not a racist hate site.

4/12/2011 07:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Sarah AB said...

I can't believe the ridiculous response here to Brownie's Glavin/Fitz error!

4/12/2011 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

Hello everyone: our magnificent Blogger comments system doesn't allow us to edit comments, just to zap them. I'm not going to do that right now: it's pretty obvious from anyone who looks at the context of the thread that Brownie made a mistake, and corrected it quite quickly. That, at any rate, is better description of what's just happened than WP's language of "retracting" "allegations".

And please keep the discussion civilised, everybody: this isn't, after all, Harry's Place.

4/12/2011 08:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Brownie - yes, this is getting tedious. Just once more:

So not a vast machination to manipulate the media, just a small one designed to twist the arm of a specific paper.

No, just somebody vapouring on a blog without any expectation of the comments being read by anyone on the Graun. That doesn't change my opinion that the comment you made was, as it stood, "a suggestion that [Milne & Clarke] shouldn't be given a platform in the media, as extremists". Which, as ejh said, is pure vigilantism. To put it another way, you can't even say you read the Guardian without listing the extremists they ought to ban.

Oh, and the word "a" preceding "platform" means (and always did mean) "a singular platform", not "any possible platform".

4/12/2011 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Well, speaking as someone who's a good deal more belligerent on the Decents generally than the people who run AaroWatch, I'd say that the difference with AW is that it's a Watch site that actually watches, rather than Condemns! all the time. It's consistently read Aaro, Nick et al, discussed the points they made and identified consistent themes and fallacies. The tone may not be overly friendly to the subjects, but it's not Red Watch.

What it doesn't do is mount campaigns with the explicit aim of marginalising its subjects and, if possible, getting them fired from their jobs.

That would be a fairer charge to throw at me personally, since my attitude towards Decency generally and its loopier advocates - Nick, HP, Hitchens although not Aaro - is that it should be a laughing stock. I've certainly tried -ineffectively, of course - to encourage marginalisation of Decent opinion by pointing out its own gaping logical flaws and double standards.

If there's a difference between HP and I, I think it's that if you offered me a button that would see Nick etc. fired from their jobs if it were pressed, I wouldn't push it. I think much of their output is actively harmful to the nation's intelligence, but I quite enjoy having them around - if they weren't here, I'd have to tackle people with intelligent and well-considered opinions instead, which is a lot like hard work.

And no, HP isn't a racist hate site, though there are certainly plenty of very strong criticisms that can be and often are chucked at it. My last trip there involved watching a barrowload of hateful lunatics openly calling for collective punishment and democide in Gaza and Lebanon, under the pretence that opposition to such is highly suspect, with little beyond mild reproach by the management. That might be where those accusations come from.

4/12/2011 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Yes you are. I've done so many many times. What is less acceptable is for that to occur on the grounds of their views. Not without something very speific and very nasty indeed to point at.

Oh, you mean you were referring to that blog you never visit and those bloggers you never read?

Fantastically. this chap appears unable to locate any ground between somebody being "obsessed" with something, and never visiting or reading it.

As a blog commentor, Brownie, you should be sacked. For being rubbish at it.

4/12/2011 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger Coventrian said...

Sarah, you and Brownie were asked why you chose Terry Fitzpatrick as your East End correspondent and stuck by him despite being made aware of his activities.

Brownie responded by pressing the self-destruct button on his credibility console and went into a meltdown like Fukushima crossed with Rory McIlroy.

Perhaps you might give us an explanation.

4/12/2011 09:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Sarah, you and Brownie were asked why you chose Terry Fitzpatrick as your East End correspondent and stuck by him despite being made aware of his activities.

We 'stuck by him' (for those two posts) whilst he denied the allegations against him. When he subsequently admitted to using a racial slur against Jasper, he was dropped on the spot and banned permanently, and all this happened before TF was convicted of anything.

This has now been explained twice on this thread (although I very much doubt it needed explaining once) and numerous times elsewhere. I really don't understand the motivation of commenters who continue to pretend they haven't had asnwers to their questions when the evidence to the contrary is a half-second scroll up the thread.

Why would anyone want to give the (false) impression they are illiterate?

4/12/2011 09:56:00 AM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

Brownie - I believe the point is that there was convincing evidence that Fitz had been racially abusive for years and you just took his word for it that this was not the case.Not failing to read what you say,just not accepting it as the unvarnished truth.
Was Sarah AB at HP at the time?

4/12/2011 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

FWIW, I don't think the Terry Fitz thing is a major issue. If anyone wants to get on at Brownie for problems with his pals' site - a place he doesn't much frequent himself these days - I'd suggest it's that he needs to get the big Delete and Ban buttons out and start bashing them like he was playing Hungry Hippos during a crazed amphetamine binge.

That said, let's be honest here - if any of HP's regular bugbears had been caught with the same tenuous connection to a guy like Terry Fitz, HP would be wanking up the maximum storm for the next four years. Every time say, Sunny Hundal, had anything to say, they'd be Aha, but Terry Fitz!-ed to death in five seconds.

Brownie is correct that this is no biggie, and it's childish to pretend it's some epic offence. Lets not kid on though that the hassle he's getting for it is much different to the hassle his mates enthusiastically dish out to everybody else on a daily basis.

4/12/2011 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

this chap appears unable to locate any ground between somebody being "obsessed" with something, and never visiting or reading it.

Who said anything about your obsession having anything to do with how much you visit/read? I'd say the vast majority of our harshest critics are (very?) infrequent visitors. Which is why most of their criticism is as ignorant (in the non-gratuitously pejorative sense) as yours.

I'm sure a discussion where everybody thinks of the 5 worst posts they've ever read at HP and asks me to account for every single one would be an absolute riot, but these half-arsed attempts to shoe-horn such a discussion into every AW thread in which I comment must be as boring as bat-shit for those not fascinated (if not obsessed) with HP's output. So for their sakes, if not my own, I'll try to stay on topic.

4/12/2011 10:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Sarah AB said...

I'd only had guest posts at that point. Following the TF issue from a distance, my impression at the time was that the HP stance seemed ok, but I wasn't scrutinising every move.

FlyingRodent - to be honest, I did find that thread you refer to very difficult - the one about Gaza etc. I tried to alert someone else, but my email server was down so the message got delayed beyond the point when assistance might have helped.

4/12/2011 10:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Brownie is correct that this is no biggie, and it's childish to pretend it's some epic offence. Lets not kid on though that the hassle he's getting for it is much different to the hassle his mates enthusiastically dish out to everybody else on a daily basis.

You could restrict your demand to one that asks only that I justify *my own writing* rather than everything that's ever appeared above and below the line for nigh on 9 years. I mean, that is an option, isn't it?

4/12/2011 10:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Brownie - I believe the point is that there was convincing evidence that Fitz had been racially abusive for years and you just took his word for it that this was not the case.Not failing to read what you say,just not accepting it as the unvarnished truth.

As I've already pointed out, TF was happily posting/commenting on other blogs at the time, *and indeed AFTER he'd already been banned from HP*. So I think the problem with your comment above is the "convincing" bit. Clearly, it wasn't just HP who were unconvinced.

In the spirit to complete honesty, I'll say perhaps we were too dismissive of claims against TF given the known history between TF-LJ and because we suspected an ulterior motive from the complainant. So perhaps a lesson learned, there.

4/12/2011 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

You could restrict your demand to one that asks only that I justify *my own writing*...

I didn't realise that I was making a demand, unless you mean the one about deleting cranks - that was more of a suggestion. My attitude to that is, do whatever you like, but it couldn't hurt, could it?

Frankly, on your point about joint and several liability for what appears on your blog, I'd usually be fairly relaxed on that point. In your case though, given the habits of your buddies, I'm inclined to say that what's HP Sauce for the goose is HP sauce for the gander.

It wasn't me or AW that decreed guilt-by-association as the ultimate argumentative smackdown and I don't see any particular reason why you should be exempt from the standards that your pals set for others.

4/12/2011 10:41:00 AM  
Anonymous amc said...

It wasn't me or AW that decreed guilt-by-association as the ultimate argumentative smackdown

It is a hilarious though, to watch the adjectives before every denounced name pile up with each successive post.

4/12/2011 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

to be honest, I did find that thread you refer to very difficult - the one about Gaza etc. I tried to alert someone else, but my email server was down...

I'm quite happy to accept this myself, Sarah. I just note that this would be unlikely to save, say, the Guardian, or Socialist Unity or any of the other innumerable leftist bogeymen that haunt Decent dreams.

Bluntly, I don't think that "I tried to do something about all the hateful, bloodthirsty lunatives but (x) impediment" would protect any major leftwing website from the OMG the left is crazed with hate and lust for murder baseball-bat beating they would get from your pals.

I think they'd get a psychologising lecture on why such sites attract nutters, at best.

4/12/2011 10:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

It wasn't me or AW that decreed guilt-by-association as the ultimate argumentative smackdown

You may not have decreed it, but then you don't have to if it becomes standard practice. And saying "what's sauce for the goose, etc." is just another way of conceding you're hypocrites on the whole g-by-a thing.

4/12/2011 10:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Sarah AB said...

Brownie reminds me - I was sceptical about whether TF had written those emails because they seemed so completely and surreally offensive. Bizarre.

FlyingRodent - I don't care for SU much at all, but I aim, where appropriate, to make it clear that I am moaning about the commenters rather than Andy Newman or whoever.

4/12/2011 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Witchsmeller Pursuivant said...

I'd like to apologise to AW and its regulars for lowering the tone. I thought my quip that Brownie had "retracted his accusation against Glavin" would have been taken for the mischievous jibe that it was.

I also retract my "anonymous coward from a racist hate site" comment. I should have said "anonymous coward from a hateful site that hosts racists (but only occasionally above the fold and not when the police get involved)" but it wasn't as snappy.

4/12/2011 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Coventrian said...

I think the lesson to be learned by Brownie is that old one involving glass houses and bricks.

4/12/2011 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

And saying "what's sauce for the goose, etc." is just another way of conceding you're hypocrites on the whole g-by-a thing.

Not normally, no. Judging people by their own moral standards seems perfectly reasonable if all you're doing is noting their own hypocrisy. If the situation was reversed you, or at least your partners in crime, would be out there leading the attack dogs.

4/12/2011 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

"anonymous coward".

My name is David Brown and my personal email address is linked here (althoguh Blogger prevents you from seeing it) and on my comments at HP. I've offered my email addess publicly in the past and I'll do it again if you'd like it? There used to be link on the HP front page but that's no longer there for some reason.

I've attended various blogging events (puke!) and lots of other bloggers from all sides have met me and know who I am. In the past, I've also volunteered details of where I live and work.

You, on the other hand, have admitted, "This online persona exists primarily to goad you," and have adopted a monicker from a Black Adder episode to hide behind whilst you do it.

So, about "anonymous cowards"...

4/12/2011 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Hell, I'll accept charges of hypocrisy. It's much the same in my mind as how I'd feel if a News International journalist was complaining about violations of privacy, or if Robbie Savage bitched about being the victim of a studs-up two-footed tackle.

They may have cause for complaint, but on the other hand, my reserves of sympathy ran dry some time ago.

4/12/2011 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

FR: You can summon that much hate for HP? I can understand as a kind of legacy thing from when they still mattered. But these days they're like a dying communist sects - still pumping out missives to the (dwindling) faithful, but ignored by the wider world. Its too boring to generate much outrage, surely. They marginalised themselves. Best to ignore them in case you end doing the same to yourself.

4/12/2011 12:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Not normally, no. Judging people by their own moral standards seems perfectly reasonable if all you're doing is noting their own hypocrisy.

Defending your own behaviour on the basis of "what's sauce for the goose" is an admission you're engaged in the same behaviour, not an exercise in judgment. Specifically, on the gult by association thing, the AW position is HP (allegedly) does it, so AW will as well.

Hypocrisy, in other words, except that genuine hypocrisy is supposed to be unconscious.

4/12/2011 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Hell, I'll accept charges of hypocrisy. It's much the same in my mind as how I'd feel if a News International journalist was complaining about violations of privacy, or if Robbie Savage bitched about being the victim of a studs-up two-footed tackle.

You're kinda missing the point. In those analogies, AW is not some third-party observer smiling at the irony of it all. You are the guys hacking the NotW journalist's phone and going over the top on poor old Robbie.

4/12/2011 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Specifically, on the gult by association thing, the AW position is HP (allegedly) does it, so AW will as well.

As best I can tell, none of the AW posters have said a word on the matter here, besides calling on commenters to keep it civil. Like I say, my opinions are a good bit less generous than those of our hosts, but this isn't my blog, nor is it ejh's or Cian's.

4/12/2011 12:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

I really must leave it there. I've got a screen test for the Bronson role in 'Death Wish 6' to prepare for.

4/12/2011 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

There's no AW position on this, Brownie.

We have positions on various things (we don't encourage people to speculate about other people's drinking habits, for example), and we have positions we fail to live up to (that Nick isn't worth Watching anymore), but we don't have any kind of collective opinion on whether it's OK to use the basic techniques of Harry's Place if they are being used as weapons against Harry's Place.

My personal view (not speaking for any other members of the AW collective) is that it's not OK, and I really hope AW (and every other site on the planet) doesn't follow Harry's Place into the sewer by copying its characteristic argumentative habits.

4/12/2011 12:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

As best I can tell, none of the AW posters have said a word on the matter here, besides calling on commenters to keep it civil. Like I say, my opinions are a good bit less generous than those of our hosts, but this isn't my blog, nor is it ejh's or Cian's.

As it happens, that's a fair point. In the matter of good faith discussion of individual blogs, distinguishing between the comments and editorials really is a minimum requirement.

4/12/2011 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Defending your own behaviour on the basis of "what's sauce for the goose" is an admission you're engaged in the same behaviour, not an exercise in judgment.

What do you mean "my behaviour". The two activities that I have engaged in are:

1) I have pointed out in the past when HP have failed to live up to the standards you judge others by. That's hardly "the same behaviour".

2) I have also noted in the past your associations with some dubious and rather unpleasant Americans from the right. Though more wonderingly (are they moving to the right, or is this a really misguided alliance, or have they just lost all judgement). I wouldn't bring it up now (assuming the associations have ended - I really don't follow Harry's World), unless it was relevant (i.e. you were criticising somebody else for the very same thing you had done in the past). That's where we differ.

4/12/2011 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Oh, and I haven't done either of those things on this thread. So, huh?

4/12/2011 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

cian, the "you" in my remarks was an unspecific second person for the purposes of illustration. I didn't mean you, personally. I was discussing with FR my belief that there are those commenting at AW who employ the very same g-by-a tactics they accuse HP of using.

My point to you was those doing this are not merely exercising judgment as you suggested; they are exhibiting the same (alleged) behaviour.

4/12/2011 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

...my belief that there are those commenting at AW who employ the very same g-by-a tactics they accuse HP of using.

Again, that's an entirely fair statement if you're talking about me but less so, extended more generally, and particularly to AW's proprietors.

After all, I did maintain a blog over a couple of years explicitly to laugh the arse off HP, Aaro, Nick, Norm and Hitch et al, with the declared intent of using the same absurd argumentative techniques that they use on others, as a kind of reductio ad absurdam.

To my credit, I think, is the fact that I was open and honest that I did this for comedy purposes, but at heart my stated intent was to turn the Decent left into a laughing stock* by using its own low, low standards. I fully admit that I'm not exactly innocent on this score myself: after all, whoever looks into The Abyss should be aware that the Director's Cut of the Abyss is on FilmFour at 9pm on Thursday, or something along those lines.

*Not that I needed much help, but still.

4/12/2011 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Who said anything about your obsession having anything to do with how much you visit/read?

My old friend Mr Common Sense, who rarely visits HP either.

In the matter of good faith discussion of individual blogs, distinguishing between the comments and editorials really is a minimum requirement.

This is not a point that the law would necessarily accept.

4/12/2011 01:48:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Ignoring all the rest of that stuff, and back on topic, it looks like Hague is now accusing Jeremy Bowen of being a Gadaffi stooge. It doesn't look any better from the mouth of a politician than it did in Nick's columns.

4/13/2011 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Oh wow, 128 comments, and I've been away. Probably just as well, as non-intervention seems to have been the best course. Thanks to the Cous Cous Kid for freeing comments and for his very restrained intervention. NB very restrained intervention is all it takes. IMO, Harry's Place and Socialist Unity would be greatly improved if comments which veered toward personal abuse were taken on in a calm and disinterested way by moderators. Comments in three figures and no one has yet called anyone else a Nazi or wished someone dead. Go us. Civilisation has not yet fallen.

Anyway, I'm certainly not leading some flaming-torch-and-pitchfork brigade who want Nick or Aaro sacked for their opinions. Good lord, no. Blogging for me is like shouting at the television, just done in public. There are a lot of columnists whose output I consider to be very poor but a) Nick's views are or were somewhat similar to my own, and b) I don't have the time, inclination, or energy to concentrate on everyone.

While I don't think Nick should be sacked for his beliefs, I am starting to wonder about his approach to facts. This thread started with a post about one of Nick's confident generalisations which deserved a lot less confidence. I think that's bad journalism and deserves comment. Sadly, I don't think that blogging about newspapers' shortcomings has done anything to raise the standard. Possibly because most newspapers don't take bloggers seriously, as so many of them spend their time spotting fictional biases.

There are hacks I believe should be sacked -- Melanie Phillips is at the front of the queue if only for her obsession with Andrew Wakefield who was never anything better than a fraud. Despite her keenness for others to apologise (and did you see what she does in the opening paragraph? Oh my sides), Melanie never apologises herself. It must be something like the samurai code: to admit being wrong would mean fatal loss of face.

There is much wrong with the Guardian, as was pointed out in 2009 by Martin Bright:

Just to remind ourselves, Bella M (whose job is to act as an independent moderator of other people's comments) wrote of the JC columnist [aka Mad Mel]: "I imagine she's like a character in Little Britain who is violently sick every time she hears the words 'black' or 'gay'. Except for Melanie, the word would be 'Muslim'." Nice.

Terrible. The joke would have been much better and more accurate if Bella M had written "the words would be 'Muslim' and 'gay'." This is a serious problem with the Guardian. They don't understand comedy.

4/13/2011 03:33:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

That would be the objectively antisemitic Jeremy Bowen, presumably? One of the few TV journos who seems to have both some real expertise and the professionalism to apply it properly.

For 'stooge', see the BBC's establishment-to-the point-of-self-parody security correspondent, Frank Gardner's emollient remarks about Bahrain.

4/13/2011 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Guys, I have to recommend that you all part with a quid for the Times today.

Our Dave has finally evolved into the apex predator of Decency, penning a column about Libya that manages to bash a) Radio 4, b) Media narratives, c) some pro-Gaddafi he met and d) anti-Libya war German ministers. Not only that, but it really does end with the following sentence...

I think that sometimes the messenger should be shot.

...But it contains not one word of discussion of the current state of affairs in Libya and not a single thought on prospects for a positive outcome.

It's perfect. I can't really resist putting the boot into it further today, if only to satisfy the inner rage that drives tinfoil-hatted, pro-tyranny inadequates like myself.

4/14/2011 08:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

I think it is rather good. It isn't about Libya, per se, rather it's concerned with an incoherent rationale that uses a lack of certainty to justify inaction.

4/14/2011 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

It isn't about Libya, per se, rather it's concerned with an incoherent rationale that uses a lack of certainty to justify inaction.

That's one way of putting it, yes. There are less charitable readings - I'll post some very, very uncharitable ones when I find the time.

4/14/2011 09:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Of this, I have no doubt.

4/14/2011 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

How about "although these interventions have a poor track record and the motives of those involved are both mixed and questionable, it is quite wrong to reflect that these interventions have a poor track record and that the motives of those involved are both mixed and questionable"?

4/14/2011 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Back when I was on the wrong side over Kosovo, I ended up supporting something being done against Milosevic, but with the proviso that the actual NATO intervention was illegal twice over (ad bellum and in bello), was being undertaken by the wrong people and for the wrong reasons, and would have counter-productive results.

Too much of that and you end up like Norm, insisting that having been wrong for the right reasons makes him morally superior to everyone who was right for the wrong reasons. But I guess some people find that quite a comfortable place to be.

4/14/2011 12:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I am just repeating what our airborne ratty friend is saying, but it is quite a remarkable piece from David Aaronovitch in the Times on Libya , having a go at the press (inc. John Humphry's) for asking too many of the wrong questions over Libya. these annoying journalists, he says in his last sentence, are "a powerful weapon that our enemies can use against us. In that situation, I think that sometimes the messenger should be shot.". He really seems too be saying unpatriotic journos should face the firing squad. That Humphry's put him up against the wall for talking like that to our nice Mr Hague. I guess the rifles are metaphorical, but it isn;t that obvious they are
Ann On

4/14/2011 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

"although these interventions have a poor track record and the motives of those involved are both mixed and questionable, it is quite wrong to reflect that these interventions have a poor track record and that the motives of those involved are both mixed and questionable"?

Strike the first part of that quote and you'd be absolutely right. There is exactly no discussion at all of the actual situation in Libya.

A shorter precis of Aaro's piece - which, I have to say, is probably the most eye-popping absurdity he's penned in some years - would go like this...

If you intentionally and entirely ignore what is actually happening in Libya, it is clear that the BBC deserves criticism and censure for depicting that conflict as yet another entirely avoidable fuck-up.

This is, bluntly, an argument that would cheer up secret policemen the world over. Aaro really is saying that, as the BBC and others are sapping the National Will To Victory and are Giving Aid and Comfort to the Enemy, they deserve some form of punitive action.

It should escape no-one that this argument differs from the pronouncements of the Iranian mullahs and the Chinese government only in the voltage by which he wants the evildoers zapped.

I guess the rifles are metaphorical, but it isn;t that obvious they are.

To be fair, Aaro does clearly set up "shoot the messenger" as a metaphor, and I'm glad he does. It really clarifies the issue in stark terms, and not in the way that I imagine he intended it to.

Right, I'll shorterise the piece in a highly unfair fashion*, for them what care to read it. Give me a minute or two...

*I don't know whether there's a common latin phrase that goes something like Ex Absurdam, Veritas, but it's a phrase that I'll gladly claim as my own if there isn't.

4/14/2011 03:14:00 PM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

(an old-school pedant suggests: "veritas ex absurdo")

4/14/2011 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Right - Losing our patience only helps our enemies

Let me start with a football analogy. Clever managers with poor teams playing away against stronger sides understand that they have a powerful ally. If they can get the home supporters to a point of frustration whereby they barrack their own players, the job is halfway done.

In this analogy, by the way, I mean that British journalists and the BBC in particular are actually actively playing against Britain in a time of war. If this strikes you as an odd argument for a journalist to make, you ain't heard nothin' yet.

(Fairly witty Jeremy Bowen pun). Now, Gaddafi will be hoping that political pressures take their toll on our National Will To Victory.

I met some "pro-Gaddafi folk" in London. They agreed with the BBC that Libya is (Scare-quotes time!) a "stalemate", a "quagmire", that we have no "exit strategy" and that there's a bit of "mission creep". In doing so, I make it clear that I believe all of these points are merely propaganda in the service of evil, and it's probably not coincidental that these pro-Gaddafi traitors are sandwiched inbetween mentions of Jeremy Bowen and John Humphrys.

Do these scare-quoted terms have any relevance to the actual situation as it stands in Libya? I don't care to say, largely because doing so would massively weaken the argument that I am making. For the rest of this column, just assume that I am 100% ignoring absolutely everything that has happened in Libya since we started bombing it, because I will be. Just note that, while I am criticising the BBC for saying that Libya is a stalemate, I make no attempt to deny that it is.

John Humprhys says that the war was going to be short and easy. Nobody said that - here are some examples of the war's masterminds not saying exactly that.

For obvious reasons, I will not address anyone who predicted that the war would be long, extremely difficult and likely both bloody and unpredictable...

(More follows, do try to stay awake)

4/14/2011 03:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loose lips help Gadaffi / shoot John Humphry's, metaphori-cally

Ann On

4/14/2011 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

...All of this, by the way, is the BBC's attempt to create a pre-prepared Narrative of a stupendously fucked, hit-and-hope military strategy.

Is this narrative false? Again, I very noticeably don't say. Any perception that our strategy is stupendously fucked is the BBC's fault.

We've only been bombing Libya for a very short period of time. The people of Benghazi have not been massacred and Libya has been saved from the nightmare of a Gaddafi victory, although I do not care to speculate upon whether an extended period of very violent civil war should be counted against those achievements.

No-one promised it would be over by the time the ADHD presenters on 24-hour news channels had run out of things to say and pundits to recycle. No-one said what the time table was. Because no-one knew. It was unknowable.

(Note here that another possibility suggests itself - that it was, in fact, entirely predictable that the war would be long and bloody, and that quite a lot of people said so at the time. Aaro ignores those people as assiduously now as he ignored them then).

Here follows a long, padded-out complaint about the German government, who said that they wanted Gaddafi to stop attacking the rebels but also refused to hurl high-explosives into the country on the off-chance that this might somehow produce a stable, tyrant-free democracy.

People who don't want Gaddafi to win but who also say that hurling high-explosives into the country with their fingers crossed is a bad idea are bastards. As proof, here are some comments by the German opposition in which they attack the government in furious style. Are these attacks 100% moral and practical or could there be a possible political angle to them? Don't go there, girlfriend! I certainly won't!

Back to the treacherous BBC and their Hunnish ways. John Humphrys suggested to William Hague that, if you have no fucking idea what you're doing and are merely charging into a country hurling bombs on the off-chance that some deus ex machina will miraculously save the day, maybe it might have been better not to have got involved in the first place.

I present this entirely sane suggestion as some kind of epic, treacherous, duplicitous, coup de grace that utterly destroys and exposes the BBC as fifth-columnists, for some reason.

When you say that journalists who take an oppositional stance in interviews should be punished in some way, people tend to get upset. However, when journalists are sapping our Awesome Football Club's Will To Victory and Actively Managing The Enemy's Team in order to get The Fans on our brave boys' backs, they deserve to be punished.

Let's punish journalists for taking an oppositional stance in interviews about wars.

(Also missing from this Aaro piece: The words "Iraq", "Afghanistan" and "Pakistan". Aaro already ticked me off for mentioning the former today, even if I was suggesting that his writing in 2011 is eerily reminiscent of his output in 2004. Plus ca change, etc.)

4/14/2011 04:00:00 PM  
Anonymous bensix said...

Well, I want the real thing now. This is like seeing somebody act out the "oh my god" scene from Troll 2.

4/14/2011 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

Also missing from this Aaro piece: The words "Iraq...

Didn't he mention Iraq, when he touched on Joschka Fischer?

4/14/2011 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

even if I was suggesting that his writing in 2011 is eerily reminiscent of his output in 2004. Plus ca change

"He forgot to add - the first time as tragedy, the second as farce."

4/14/2011 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Didn't he mention Iraq, when he touched on Joschka Fischer?

Good spot, he certainly did. That's probably only one of many goofs. Nonetheless, I think I captured the spirit of the piece, if I say so myself.

4/14/2011 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

I thought it abundantly fair-minded.

4/14/2011 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Sarah AB said...

I’m glad I happened to buy the Times today – so can join in. I agree with some of the criticisms of the piece.

I can see why DA might not care for Bowen, but a) journalists shouldn’t report things with a view to cheering up their country’s troops and b) JB is only reported saying the *the regime* thinks the coalition is becoming fragile.

I found the sentence (WRT pro-Gaddafi demonstrators) beginning ‘They too can count and recount for the benefit of the regime the number of times that Nato’s involvement in limited action over Libya has had attached to it the inevitable word “stalemate”’ rather emptily rhetorical.

'Today' presenters always seem to ask their questions in virtual quotation marks, as though acknowledging that this is as much an invitation to the interviewee to give an opposing point of view as anything else. So I didn’t find Aaronovitch’s criticisms of John Humphrys very telling.
I think it should be possible to argue that what is happening in Libya is intolerable and yet also think that military intervention may carry greater risks.

BUT if Benghazi has been ‘saved from a possible massacre’ to quote David Aaronovitch – then that’s surely a good thing. And is it possible that intervening (even if it is difficult to be certain what the local net benefit was) might make other dictators in the region pause?

4/14/2011 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Thanks to FR for that. I DID buy the Times, and here's what I think: turn to page 6 where Martin Fletcher reports from Benghazi. 3rd column, 2nd para:

Despite more than 1,700 NATO airstrikes, this is now a military stalemate.

4th column, 2nd para, last sentence:

For Britain, France, and the US, who have cast their lot so firmly with the rebels, any outcome that leaves Colonel Gadaffi in situ is politically unthinkable without a catastrophic loss of prestige.

That, to me, says that the current situation is a stalemate (which DA uses twice, both times in scare quotes) and is potentially harmful to this country's international reputation. "Potentially harmful" is pretty much the same thing as dangerous. I can't see any difference between what Martin Fletcher says, and what Aaro fulminates about the BBC saying. We've flown a lot of missions against a burnt-out nutter with no credible support, whose assets are frozen, who has become a pariah in the Arab world, and we haven't won.

Meanwhile, I bet that only a few months ago Gadaffi thought he'd go into that good night after a long illness as the obituary writers have it, and now he can look forward to a romantic exit a la Butch and Sundance. I bet that's stirred his blood.

Blair and Berlusconi are both old mates of the Colonel. Surely they could give useful insights into his character? Or maybe not. I think heads are being kept down. I wonder why.

Gadaffi was right about one thing: the "rebels" as the Times calls them are nasty Islamist headbangers. Telegraph: Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links. Nice of us to arm them.

4/14/2011 07:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Gadaffi was right about one thing: the "rebels" as the Times calls them are nasty Islamist headbangers"

Is this still part of the War on Terror?

Guano

4/14/2011 09:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Chardonnay Chap,

C'mon, "we" (as in NATO) have conspicuously NOT armed 'them'.

What is tHe objection to 'stalemate'? Are you saying UNSCr 1973 should have been more robust and sancitoned the interventionist force to do more or less as it pleased in order to avoid staelmate (the salient point here being that total military victory is well within the compass of NATO), or that an inability to guarantee Libya would resemble Belgium by August 31st 2012 means we should have left Benghazis to their fate? Neither you nor FR are clear on this point.

4/15/2011 01:40:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

What is tHe objection to 'stalemate'?

You tell me. It's Aaro who objects. He seems to be saying that only out-and-out Gadaffi fans and the BBC use the term. This isn't true. The situation IS a stalemate.

C'mon, "we" (as in NATO) have conspicuously NOT armed 'them'.

I beg to differ. Perhaps you don't remember when the Tories (that's the lot who are bravely enduring the slings and arrows of John Humprheys scorn, and who Aaro is riding to protect) were conspicuously not arming Saddam. Why oh why can't the media just be loyal to whoever is in power instead of criticising them all the time? Shorter Aaro, at least they don't get the Today programme in North Korea: that's why it has lasted so long, the enemy within is contained. Nothing wrong with a bit of judicious shooting now and then.

4/15/2011 08:10:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Oh and as for my views on what NATO should or should not be doing. I think the sausage-eating surrender monkey whom Aaro quotes puts it very well.

Anyone who uses the term "cheese eating surrender monkey" will be shot. This was clearly coined by secular Islamofascist Muammarites for the purposes of spreading doubt and incohesion among our island race. The French are our friends and have always been our friends. The Germans are the enemy. We should really stop all this creeping around and don't mention the war stuff. They started it.

4/15/2011 08:16:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I find Aaro (and Nick's) approach to the BBC on this really weird. As Sarah said, it's standard journalistic practice to pose 'oppoing' questions to politicians - otherwise they might as well just hand the mic over to the politician for them with no interruption.

even weirder is Aaro's apparent refusal to read the news about Libya in his own paper.

is it possible that intervening (even if it is difficult to be certain what the local net benefit was) might make other dictators in the region pause?

If that does hapen, then it might be a good thing, though it's telling that action against Gadaffi was sanctioned by the Arab League - something it seems Obama was insisting on - and which makes it more likely that the west won't be able to do anything about places like Bahrain.

4/15/2011 09:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Sarah AB said...

I think this was a much better piece than DA's.

http://hurryupharry.org/2011/04/14/how-the-left-got-it-wrong-on-libya/

4/15/2011 10:38:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I read that one. Though it takes issue with some of the pieces it identifies fairly well, I don't really see how the views necessarily reflect 'the left'. I mean, I've never once bought a copy of Socialist Worker and am nothing to do with 'stop the war'.

I think the writer has, essentially, picked easy targets, onces which suit his worldview.

And on top of that, he doesn't really succeed in dealing with the 'why not X other country' argument either. Especially here:

I’m not suggesting the action against Col. Gaddafi will seriously worry countries like Saudi Arabia, however it may worry others [...] The idea that this [bombing] will persuade other opposition movements to stop protesting is again nothing but a leftist fantasy.

presumably 'others' like those in the Arab league who, while shooting civilians in their streets, signed up to 'support' the bombs on Libya? surely there's something really problematic being overlooked here.

the difficult questions are ducked elsewhere. For example:

As to what will happen, of course…no one knows. No one ever knows what will happen when you embark on such action.

Well, it was clear, if people had wanted to look, that many of the anti-Gadaffi fighters are linked to al-Qaeda. Gadaffi was ridiculed for saying this, but it does actually appear to be true, albeit that they're not ALL al-Qaeda liek he was suggesting. That doesn't necessarily mean that we shouldn't have bombed, but it does demosntrate a lack of forethought about the military action in Libya.

4/15/2011 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

And is it possible that intervening (even if it is difficult to be certain what the local net benefit was) might make other dictators in the region pause?

Probably not, nor indeed has it given any of them pause.

It really in a major problem that after a while, if the Bad Guy (and never mind whether or not there are any Good Guys) doesn't get knocked down strauightaway, it does become more and more a question of "credibility". Rationally so, on one level, because if you don't follow through to the bitter end then your dictators are going to feel that all they have outwait you.

But thing is, I t5hink all this "!nobody said it was going to be sbort and easy" thing is a con. What we were told was that there was going to be a no-fly-zone to prevent the taking of Benghazi - and that was it. And I think it's fair to say that those of us who were against the whole idea were against it because we didn't believe that would be the end of it. And lo and behold, it was not.

Now, apparently, and to my mind predictably, we have an open-ended process instead, with the prospect of great deal of bloodshed and a greater quantity of bullshit. Well, no. That's not what we were told.

4/15/2011 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Frank Gardner's at it again re: Bahrain.

4/15/2011 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Sarah AB said...

ejh - fair enough. I don't feel able to have strong feelings about the intervention. But I thought Gardner wrote well about the way in which *some* of those opposed to intervention were opposed for dogmatic rather than pragmatic reasons.

4/15/2011 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Well, depends what you mean by dogmatic. I'd certainly consider myself against this sort of thing on principle, but that wouldn't mean always being against, and among my reasons for the principle would be the practical consequences that normally arise.

4/15/2011 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I thought Gardner wrote well about the way in which *some* of those opposed to intervention were opposed for dogmatic rather than pragmatic reasons

That's probably true, but it's very hard to diagnose in an individual case (I stick to my principles, you have fixed ideas, he's dogmatic), and in any case I'm not sure why it should matter. I personally felt out of tune with most of the Left over the Balkans right up until the Kosovo intervention, but what annoyed me wasn't that other people were dogmatic but that their dogma seemed to have led them to support bad policies and believe things that weren't true - both of which you can do without being at all dogmatic. If dogmatic people are making true statements and supporting good policies, I don't think denouncing their dogmatism is particularly urgent.

4/15/2011 12:39:00 PM  

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