Sunday, January 29, 2006

Groundhog masons

Poor Nick is clearly running out of material, since this week's Observer column has some egregious recycling concerning Freemasonry.

This week under the headline "Fascists are on the march again" Nick tells us:

It was Masons, not Jews, who were the target of the original conspiracy theory of the far right. What would end up as fascism began as a reaction against the American and French revolutions. The counter-revolutionaries had to explain why people were proclaiming heretical ideas about the rights of man. They couldn't admit that the French and Americans were embracing Enlightenment values of their own free will. There had to be a conspiracy. Europe's Jews were in the ghetto in the 1790s, and it was preposterous to pretend that they were secret rulers of the world. So the far right decided that the conspirators were the Freemasons.

No doubt, no doubt. But hasn't Nick told us this before? In the New Statesman on the 10th of October last:

The template was set by the reaction against the American and French revolutions. How could Americans proclaim such insane ideas as the rights of man, the counter-revolutionaries asked. How could the French overthrow the king who loved them and Holy Mother Church which succoured them? They couldn’t admit that the Americans and the French wanted to do what they had done. Their consent had to have been manufactured by the new rulers of the world. Originally these were the Freemasons, who were damned for peddling enlightened ideas. Only after Jewish emancipation opened the ghettos were the Jews press-ganged into the plot.

And back to April 2004 under the headline "Is Fascism behind the Terror" (NS again):

Islamist extremists believe in a worldwide conspiracy not just of Jews, but also of Freemasons. They thus echo the rantings of Europe's extreme right in the 19th and 20th centuries.

That column is now behind a paywall, but you can find the full text at some Islamic site (scroll down).

The April 04 column is, I think, the Ur-column (though there may be yet earlier versions). Nick there accorded great significance to the Google results for "Masons and Islam". This prompted a response on the Staggers letter page concerning the use of Google to research obsessions and conspiracies:

After reading Nick Cohen's tirade against Islam's paranoia about the Masons ("Is fascism behind the terror?", 12 April) and noting the significance he attaches to Google giving 14,000 hits when you type in "Masons and Islam", I did a little research. First, Google gave me only 12,000 hits for "Masons and Islam" - but what's a few thousand here and there? "Masons and Jews" got 20,000. Maybe Abdullah el-Faisal, whom Cohen quotes ranting about "cabals of Jews and Freemasons", reached his conclusions after messing around with Google in the same way.

Here are some more results. "Nick Cohen and Masons" gave me 445 hits, "Nick Cohen and Jews" 10,000, "Nick Cohen and Islam" 12,000. It's such a mystery, isn't it? But venturing into the more exotic may help us truly to understand the nature of internet searches. "Mickey Mouse and Jews" got 9,550 hits, "Mickey Mouse and Islam" 12,700. "Nick Cohen and Mickey Mouse" got a startling 5,190. But I do agree with Cohen that Islam is wasting its time bothering about the Masons. With the Project for the New American Century, Israel and the Bush administration plus cronies on the loose, I think it's got more than enough to worry about.


Blogger Matthew said...

He likes the Masons angle so much he mentions it again today - in the same column (the 3rd 'funny' bit)!

1/29/2006 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

There's also this, from NC's Pretty Straight Guys, published in 2003:

"The Baathist drive for racial purity was authentically Hitlerian. In its early years, Baathist Iraq was baptised with the execution of Jews before screaming crowds in Baghdad. The persecution of Freemasons, another favourite target of fascist and reactionary Europe, and of communists and trade unionsts followed." (p.89)

The footnote to this sentence points to Paul Berman, Terror and Liberalism, pp.56-7, so perhaps that's the Ur-ur-text for all of this, in keeping with its general role as fons et origo of Decency. I can't check this. I don't have a copy.

1/29/2006 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note as well the Orwell echo: It is impossible to write anything about Jews..without", etc.

Does anyone know if he has a funny handshake?

Incidentally, here's the wikipedia entry for the anti-masonic party in the US, which later went on to become one of the components of the Republican Party.

1/29/2006 01:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always think it's good style to leave a little bit more space between the bit where you laugh at other people for having conspiracy theories and the bit where you "of course when you understand this it all makes sense ...

1/29/2006 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

There's a bit more on Nick in the Observer today that we might be usefully Watching.

Cristina Odone writes idiotically on the subject of the Pope's new encyclical (here's a sample - of CO, not of B16: "In this maelstrom of emotion, the Pope dares raise an alarm. He is bold to speak out on a subject we assume only pouting celebrities or skimpily clad youf have any authority on...").

But with that lunacy out of the way she then reports at the end of her column that Rory Bremner's been made unhappy by Nick Cohen, and that somebody's been wagging a finger at somebody else. Or something.

1/29/2006 04:51:00 PM  
Blogger Backword Dave said...

Nuts to Deus Caritas Est; Amor Omnia Vincit, I always say. Or always trust a decent pagan over a monotheist any day.

1/29/2006 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger the management said...

that's interesting; the Nick bit isn't in Chretina's column in the paper Obs, only the online version. Wonder why not?

1/29/2006 07:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is in my paper edition...

1/29/2006 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

How exciting. Do you think it was removed from the later editions after an enraged Nick complained?

1/30/2006 09:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

or possibly I wasn't looking in the right place or went blind or something

1/30/2006 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Odone's article: 'There was a lot of furious hissing and wagging of fingers and talk of genocide and the Baathists,' Rory remembered. Over to Nick Cohen for his side of the story: 'The Liberal left these days can't handle evil.' Or, it would seem, a furious hack.

So Nick's bandying around notions of 'evil', is he? And we all thought Iraq was abouyt WMD. How silly of us.

1/30/2006 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I can remember when he used to describe new labour as 'evil' and voted Lib Dem.,8224,497272,00.html

1/30/2006 12:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's a fantastic article. I note that the "you lefties spent your time attacking social democrats and ignored the rise of Hitler" theme was being put to a different use in those days. It's a wonderfully versatile argument

1/30/2006 05:46:00 PM  

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