Friday, October 07, 2005

Friday Forecast [Alternative Universe Edition]

The Friday forecast may have a problem. Suppose either Nick or Dave actually read our humble corner of the interwebs? (Both read Harry's Place.) So suppose they read the Friday forecast -- and change what they write? Just to spite us, because spite feels good. Well, let us hope so.

As I've said earlier this week (not in so many words), I think Nick Cohen is a bit of a headbanger, but as I also said (this time in those words), his heart is in the right place. Now I think Nick's Modus Operandi goes like this: find a story (say, on the interwebs, like Harry's Place) which passed under the radar of tehgraunaid and The Observer, and then get worked up about it. As my colleague observered of Nick's last column, he prefers to get worked up about the public sector, as if the BBC and the Tate were the centre of power in this country. So, my bet goes for the Dudley Council story covered as Ungulates Unwelcome on Harry's Place. Coverage has been nugatory in the press, but blog interest (which often fixates on the trivial) has been considerable.

Somewhere in between (but more blog) is the ever-paranoid FrontPageMag. Robert Spencer adds some background, but he doesn't find anything out not in the original Express and Star report. Nor, of course, does Mark Steyn. At least neither reproduce this glorious non-sequitur:

Muslims are forbidden from eating pork in the Koran and staff were asked to remove the items.

I want Nick not to go there. For his own sake. It's the sort of thing he can precis well, and then come to some deflating conclusion. The story is, rather obviously, bollocks. I mean, it's in all likelihood true, as reported, just that none of the conclusions drawn follow any more than "staff were asked to remove the items" follows from "Muslims are forbidden from eating pork in the Koran." True, it is a council -- but it's one office in the council, so it seems unlikely that this went to any kind of vote. Mark Steyn gets:

Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council (Tory-controlled) has now announced that, following a complaint by a Muslim employee, all work pictures and knick-knacks of novelty pigs and "pig-related items" will be banned.


Novelty pig calendars and toys have been banned by bosses at Dudley Council in case Muslim staff are offended.
Workers in the council's benefits department have been told to remove or cover up all pig products including toys, porcelain, calendars and even a tissue box featuring Winnie the Pooh and Piglet.

There's a difference (emphases added for clarity), and it's one Nick is more than likely to be deaf to. I worked for a short time in a dole office, and they're the most miserable places on earth. Siberia, salt mines, and starvation are all better options. This story just tells you about the sort of people who work in them. There are some sensible comments on HP (out of 309, there should be at least a few), Luke says:

[I]n my experience no Muslims I know would be so petty and ridiculous. So who are these ridiculous individuals? What is their game? And why are they being catered to?
Much stupidity abounds in town halls, I think.

Dudley Council may be Tory-controlled, but the only councillor quoted, Mahbubur Rahman, is Labour. I've no idea why he'd say such a stupid thing, or why the union didn't object.

There's also been some excitement and cage-rattling over the banning of prison officers from wearing St George Cross badges as reported on CNN. Put the stories together and you start to get something about "Muslims, come here, ban pigs, object to the flag, ... and their cooking smells funny." Except the Muslim/Crusades angle was entirely in the mind of the CNN reporter (I'm sure there are Muslims who object to the Crusades, but they're the 101st jihadi keyboarders or the Pajamahajeen, and like their warblogger equivalents, don't leave their bedrooms often enough to get arrested) and nothing to do with the report on Wakefield Prison.

What will Nick write about? I haven't a clue, mate.

And Uncle Aaron (I think that's an "Uncle Joe" reference, not a nod to this humble blog's calling him "Aaro")? I guess bloggers. All useless bastards, except the Decent Left. I have a poor record at this game, however, so the smart money is doubtless elsewhere.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, yer man Nick's just revived the "opponents of the Iraq war are necessarily anti-semitic" meme in an essay in the New Statesman, so maybe we'll get some of that in digest form.

Come to think of it, it's probably better to think in term of themes rather than subjects, since anti-semitism and the left is dead both tend to crop up regardless of the formal subject matter. Poor old Nick. His subjects have become pretexts, a classic sign of advanced columnar hackery.

10/07/2005 02:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...that was the rioja kid, btw

10/07/2005 02:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Predictions? DA on the Tory party conference; NC on the News Statesman story about John Humphreys.

Meanwhile... Salon's Gary Kamiya reviews a pro-war liberal's book on the Iraq war. (Day Pass Required: link here) Worth it for the NC-related stuff on Paul Berman:

Packer recounts how he came to know Berman. "[E]xtraordinary times call for new thinking. Searching for a compass through the era just begun, I was drawn to people who thought boldly. One of them was the writer Paul Berman, who was working out a theory about what was now being called the war on terrorism." Berman was Packer's neighbor in Brooklyn, and Packer would meet with Berman over late-night dinners at a neighborhood bistro, where the older man would expound on his ideas.

Packer writes that he was drawn to the fierce intensity of Berman's intellectual quest and found his ideas compelling. "I listened, occasionally asking a skeptical question, admiring the dedication of his project (who else was really trying to figure this stuff out?), mostly sympathizing -- but also worrying about Berman's tendency toward sweeping, distinction-erasing intellectual moves. What, for example, did his theory have to do with Iraq?" The answer Berman gave was simple. Both Islamism and Saddam's Stalinist state were totalitarian, implacably opposed to liberal societies, to freedom itself, and so they had to be opposed just as Hitler and Stalin had to be opposed.


"The fight against political Islam isn't a clash of civilizations, and it isn't an imperialist campaign," noted Packer in "The Fight Is for Democracy." "As Paul Berman writes, it is a conflict of ideologies and they come down to the century-old struggle between totalitarianism and liberal democracy." The key concept here is the seemingly innocuous expression "political Islam." Like Christopher Hitchens' neologism, "Islamofascism," what this phrase did was allow Packer and Berman to lump al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein together as part of the same threat -- an obviously important move if one is trying to justify invading Iraq, which had no actual connection to al-Qaida.


Neither Friedman nor Berman ever explained exactly how smashing the Arab world in the face was going to turn it away from Islamist radicalism, or why the dubious attempt to install democracy by force in a fractured, wounded land with a bitter experience of colonial rule was worth risking thousands of American lives for. But intoxicated by what he with typical self-critical honesty called "the first sip of this drink called humanitarian intervention," and fastidiously put off by what he perceived as the crudeness of the antiwar movement, Packer signed on for the crusade.

Sorry for the long post, but maybe I'm getting my retaliation in first for a future, post-Iraqi referendum, Friday Forecast.

10/07/2005 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The Dudley/pig story, "it's just political correctness gone mad!" The Daily Mail do a lot of that type of story. Maybe the HP guys could write for the Mail now?

10/07/2005 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger Simon said...

With apologies for sounding like a stuck record, Cohen is going to take a full-length pop at the UN one of these days, and the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the IAEA is a convenient peg ("why has the IAEA failed to stop North Korea and Iran arming - And Why Is The Left Silent?")

This is made likelier by the fact Cohen has 'had a domestic' for the last couple of weeks and must be itching to get back to the front line of international decency.

10/07/2005 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger the management said...

I think redpesto takes "closest to the bullseye" here as the column, weird as it is, is basically poor man's Bermanism.

10/09/2005 03:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay! Go me! Is there a prize? A night out with Nick Cohen at the al-Qaeda Bar and Grill? (And does the runner-up get two nights with DA at Bin Laden's Go-Go Teaserama?)

10/10/2005 03:26:00 PM  

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