Friday, August 07, 2009

Ooh Fight! Fight!

We're not following Nick Cohen you know. We didn't say anything about his column on Michal Kaminksi among other things.

For all his slippery excuses, Kaminski did not back the president's full apology. After the Observer's initial revelations last week, Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza explained why a politician who appears as sleek and savvy as his new friend David Cameron, plunged into the dark corners of Polish politics. "Kaminski isn't officially and completely an anti-semite or homophobe, but at some point he recognised that these things can help him politically," it concluded. He retained the option of appealing to a "certain sector of the electorate, which, to put it delicately, is not hugely opposed to anti-semitism".

Note what Nick does say about Kaminsky. And then what he doesn't. His headline is "What's Cameron doing with Europe's lunatic fringe?" which suggests that the subs don't have a problem with 'lunatic fringe' even if the term is missing from the article. There are warmer words he could have used of course.

In today's Torygraph, Stephen Pollard calls attacks on Kaminsky Anti-Semitic mudslinging of the worst kind.

Pollard seems to have drifted from Decency, if he was ever a Decent, but I still suspect Nick is right. I hear too often that the Left is soft on anti-semitism. I think this is going to bite the Tories, have things really got so mad that only Muslims' objectionable views draw comments from the right?

Update 6:20 pm (5:20 GMT) I forgot to mention that Denis MacShane, no friend of this blog, also charged Kaminski with anti-Semitism, which lends some credibility, to me, to Pollard's case. But he totally muffs it with his conclusion:

Far from being an anti-Semite, Mr Kaminski is about as pro-Israeli an MEP as exists. Ironically, it is Mr McMillan-Scott who has repeatedly called for Israel to engage with Hamas – an organisation which is committed by charter to the destruction of Israel.

There are swivel-eyed pro-Israelis, of course. As far as I'm concerned, it's the unconditional supporters of Israel who are loons. It's a good bet that anyone on the side of talking, "Jaw-jaw is better than war-war" as Churchill put it, has sanity and history on their side. Anyway, aren't the BNP rather pro-Israel these days, if only on the grounds that they hate the Muslims more?


Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

It is worth noting that Pollard vs MacShane pits the current versus the former chairmen of the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism.

8/07/2009 09:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pollard vs MacShane... Jesus, it's like Nick mud-wrestling with Brendan O'Neill. The morbid fascination blends with the wish they could both lose.

Anyone see Nick on Newsnight talking about Ronnie Biggs? Nothing he didn't say in his column, but at least he appeared sober.

8/07/2009 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger John B said...

See: Alan Sugar versus Quentin Letts.

8/08/2009 12:58:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Far from being an anti-Semite, Mr Kaminski is about as pro-Israeli an MEP as exists

Ah, the old 'if you support the actions of Likud and the IDF, that disqualifies you from accusations of antisemitism' thing. Of course as you say, the BNP make 'pro-Israeli' noises nowadays, and a sizeable part of the Zionist movement in America is made up of born-again Christians like ann coulter who think that Christians are 'perfected Jews'...

As a note, I think that anyone who is an unconditional supporter of any country in the world (in, er, current affairs, as opposed to sport) is a loon.

Did Nick repeat his claim that Biggs returned to the UK because of 'patriotism' (something Nick thinks is an uncomplicated, good thing), as opposed to the fact that he was ill, had run out of cash for healthcare, so came back to use the NHS? And shouldn't every good Decent be standing with the Union of Train Drivers of Britain in their opposition to Biggs's early release? etc.

8/08/2009 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

BTW, there's a recent post by Norman Geras which seems moot here.

Pollard: Mr Kaminski's argument was that apologising for the collective guilt of Poles let the individual murderers off the hook. Far from trying to cover up the massacre, he was using the president's apology to make a wider point: that the massacre was not committed by "the Poles" against "the Jews", but was a vile crime committed by specific individuals against their fellow nationals.

Norm: But there's no defensible intellectual basis for the claim that institutional collectivities can't coherently apologise for past wrongs when those issuing the apology bear no blame for the wrongs in question. Nothing mystical about supra-individual personality, nothing obnoxious about racial responsibility, need be assumed in such cases. Otherwise you'd have to deny that a university can coherently apologize for a wrong done to one of its students once those responsible for the wrong have moved on.

I read NG here as saying "of course, not all the individuals were oppressors, but the collective was, and it's right and proper for a spokesperson for the successors of that collective to apologise." I'm not attracted to these sorts of apologies myself, but I don't believe that Professor Geras can both stand by that post and accept Pollard's defence of Kaminski.

Last month Timothy Garton Ash, like Nick, stopped short of sticking a particular label on Kaminski. His distaste, however, speaks for itself.

8/08/2009 07:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have mixed feelings about Wishbone Ash, going back to when I encountered him in Czechoslovakia (as was) in the early 90s. Very good on the Prague intelligentsia, not so good on the more plebeian layers of the Czechs, didn't get the Slovaks at all. And of course, there's his idolatry of the EU, which I don't share.

On the other hand, he's nothing if not well informed, and I'd take him over MacShame any day. He is, after all, an intellectual rather than a propagandist.

I'm also interested in how this factors into Nick's weird stance of simultaneously supporting and opposing Cameron. And the Tories' Strasbourg alliance is something that's been greatly exercising Ian Traynor in the Graun, but it's not exactly the sort of thing the folks down the pub are talking about.

Nick on Newsnight was doing his populist thing about how the Establishment had it in for Biggsy, and the original sentence was ridiculous.

8/08/2009 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

It's not wholly on topic but this article in the Daily Mail (via Nick Barlow) on the UK invading Zimbabwe contains some choice Tony Blair quotes. It's also hilarious, in which Trevor Phillips is installed as the new governor, and appears based on a 'soldier I met in the pub'

8/09/2009 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger AndyB said...

Another off topic, but how will DA, in his new role as expert on conspiracies, deal with the latest example; that the IPCC were willing to push police-exonerating lies as their conclusions to an inquiry into the death of Ian Tomlinson?

8/09/2009 09:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That one' easy. Because it didn't work, it showed that the IPCC is effective and thus it cannot be classed as a successful and real government conspiracy.

It's easy, you see: every time an 'attempted conspiracy' is uncovered, what it proves is the efficiency of the uncovering mechanism, not the prevalent of actually existing conspiracies. There's a flowchart in this somewhere.

Chris Williams

8/09/2009 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

Wow, that Mugabe article is bringing the crazy like nothing on earth. The Mail journalist really hasn't bothered to get any sources of information about Zimbabwe other than a 65-year old Rhodesian ex-soldier, and back issues of the Daily Mail.

8/09/2009 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

Aaro on Tomlinson. His position so far seems to have been that this is a case of systematically bad policing; will be interesting to see what he thinks about the IPCC coverup.

8/09/2009 11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Chris Baldwin said...

More to the point, should Zimbabwe invade Britain?

8/09/2009 12:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My God, that Zimbabwe piece is brilliant. It's nearly as good as Peter Hitchens' "What if the Berlin Wall hadn't fallen?" piece of alternative history.

8/09/2009 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger AndyB said...

I think Mugabe should spin the recent history of Zimbabwe as simply 'poor post-war planning'. After all, you wouldn't prefer to have that white sumpremacist monster Ian Smith still in charge, would you? And, for all the civilian casualties, for all the human rights abuses, for all the carve up of the nation's national resources and its redistribution to cronies, you have offer Mugabe critical support.

Of course, the similarites between Zimbabwe and Iraq fall down because only one was a genuine war of liberation, and I'd guess that the Decents are much happier supporting white, Western proven villians such as Negroponte, Rumsfeld and Cheney, and their assorted rabble of butchers of Latin America, than a villian who overthrew an aparthied government.

8/09/2009 06:34:00 PM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

the thing about Mugabe that the Mail completely ignores (and this ties into the Seumas Milne "gilded youth" comment about Ahmadinejad) is that even after all, he has about 40% support, even according to MDC polling. It is nothing short of amazing that people who have no problem in taking Sarah Palin as in some way representing "the real America" are baffled by the idea that comparable nationalist halfwits elsewhere command significant popularity (and similarly, as Zizek points out in the LRB article, rather pathetic that people who wouldn't for a moment regard Palin or Berlusconi as the authentic voice of the people, fall for Ahmadinejad).

8/09/2009 07:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, in re the point about the BNP's pro-Israel stance, I mentioned this on Dave Osler's blog last night and was met with a splenetic rant from HP's resident guest lunatic Modernity Blog. Morality's point, when you stripped away the prolixity, was "Yes, they say they're pro-Israel, but they don't really mean it." He also said that antisemitism was the driver of the BNP's ideology, which will come as news to Muslims.

I was a little flippant, but I stand by my point. If you mosey over to the BNP site and read Griffin's essay "Israel's Gaza Affair" you will see very little that couldn't fit comfortably into a guest post on HP. Therefore, by the standard of guilt by association practiced by David T, Morality, Marko et al, the Saucers are in political alignment with the BNP.

8/09/2009 08:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and there is our project for the next six months, get a BNP article posted on HP as 'Your View'.

8/09/2009 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

@BB ...(and similarly, as Zizek points out in the LRB article, rather pathetic that people who wouldn't for a moment regard Palin or Berlusconi as the authentic voice of the people, fall for Ahmadinejad). You mean, like Darius Guppy? (According to Amnesty's twitter updates this evening, 115 people have been executed in Iran since the election.)

@SplinteredSunrise: well, you could argue that both Muslims and Jews are semites... And I think I read some of that Nick Griffin article - I read something by him on the subject, just to confirm that they really were pro-Israel (a few caveats, but yes). I didn't link, for reasons which should be obvious.

BTW, Nick in the Sunday Guardian anyone? It's the 30s all over again! Yawn. Why do they let him do economics?

8/09/2009 08:45:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Has anyone read Family of Secrets (by Russ Baker)? I've not read it (though I very much want to), but it seems to fall into the intelligent "conspiracy" genre. Russ Baker is certainly no loon, and his arguments about both the CIA, Nixon and the Bush family seem plausible.

I'm still waiting for a good book on the British equivalent (the 70s/Northern Ireland, obviously).

8/09/2009 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Darius Guppy? Good God.

Modernity Blog amused me not too long ago by writing the line "the beautiful people of Iran" which struck me as a little look-at-me in the rhetorical stakes.

8/10/2009 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Nick's Observer article, which I skim read, didn't seem absurd, it just seemed pointless, as if Max Hastings was writing about beatboxing.

8/10/2009 07:13:00 AM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

I think it was a Galbraith joke that a correction is when your neighbour loses his job, a recession is when you lose your job and a depression is when a financial journalist loses his job, which seems about right as a description of Cohen's column given the current state of the Observer.

8/10/2009 07:30:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

antisemitism was the driver of the BNP's ideology

that was one of the main 'ideas' in those Edmund Standing blog pieces that HP Sauce ran for a while, and which Dougie Murray's think tank cobbled together as a 'report' - never mind what they say about Muslims, look at what they say on their facebook pages about jews! I do think that the pro-Israel stance is a transparent piece of political grandstanding, mind you, but it's not as simple for HP Saucers just to say 'they don't really mean it', given that the BNP have repositioned themselves as islamophobic Eurabia crusaders (and I see HP Sauce are, perhaps to their credit, continuing to run anti-Eurabia pieces, only to expose their commenters as almost entirely in favour of the eurabia thesis)...

That 'Modernity' one is a funny stick. for example:

there is an introduction I would recommend, Deborah Lipstadt's Denying the Holocaust, it explains in some detail the motivations, the activities and tactics used by these would be Hitler Lovers, and is quite informative.

thanks. for. that.

On the cohen column - it's just a restatement of stuff he was saying earlier in the year (well, when he wasn't advocating the trickle-down ecconomy idea). He (hilariously) predicted that there would be middle-class riots this summer protesting at Gordon Brown's handling of the credit crunch, and it's not happened, so now he seems to think that young unemployed young people will be on the streets protesting that Martin Bright's rehashes of Thatcherite ideas aren't getting wider publicity, or something. And his call for millions more school leavers to be forced into university (didn't he also say that everyone should be forced to stay in school til they're 18 a while back, too?) is entirely at odds with the Obs pieces about falling academic standards, which Cohen is surely onside with. He seems increasingly divided against himself, as his simultaneously pro-and-anti-Cameron pieces demonstrate.

If anything, him on economics is worse than him on the arts, because he can't even fall back on the stock rant about how it was all better when he was a lad. aside from his support for Thatcherite policy, that is...

8/10/2009 08:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find Modblog pretty easy to understand. He's clever, but significantly less clever than he thinks he is. Everything else follows from that.

Lippstadt? She was right about Irving, but there was a _reason_ why Penguin didn't put her on the stand when he sued.

As for the BNP and Israel, I'm afraid that if you're one of those people who likes the idea of ethnically homogenous states, by any means necessary, then Zionist Jewish people are far less of a problem than rootlessly cosmopolitan ones. This would be the case whatever the religion of the majority of the state of Israel's active enemies was.

Chris Williams

8/10/2009 08:34:00 AM  
Blogger Gregor said...

'Nor is the proposition that a hermetically sealed society has managed to contain evidence of wrongdoing convincing. Truth has an uncomfortable habit of getting out. Proper evidence, real smoking guns, have been regularly uncovered where genuinely repressive regimes such as Zimbabwe, North Korea, Stalinist Russia and so on are concerned'.

Seems a bit like the standard 'conspiracy theory' rebuttal.

Incidentally, I read an American article, smugly stating that the lovely Iranians who oppose the regime are chanting 'death to Russia'. On the off-chance the story isn't fabricated bullshit, it's good to know they have a homicidal loathing for 140,000,000 people they've never met (yes, Ahmedinjad is a creep and a crook, but giving his opponents a blank cheque is never a good idea).

8/10/2009 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

How long did it take for

(a) news ;


(b) reliable information

about Novocherkassk to come out?

It was before my time so I don't know the answer, I'm not asking rhetorically.

I did notice that the LRB's piece about the recent riots/massacre was entitled In Ürümqui despite the fact that the writer wasn't. Which was odd.

8/10/2009 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Really, really off topic, but hugely amusing: Decca Aitkenhead in the Guardian.

At the lunch, Mandelson is to present Blair with the Fenner Brockway medal, in honour of his services to Anglo-Indian relations. "Rather an irony, really," Mandelson muses mischievously, running over his speech. "I mean, Brockway was a great pacifist. Not very appropriate, is it? Shall I point that out? Or would it be naughty?" When we arrive I'm completely taken aback at the former PM's appearance, for he resembles a bad actor playing Blair in the grip of some awful psychiatric meltdown. He really does look quite mad, with his face over the place – a grotesque dance of eyebrows and teeth, manically gurning away, every feature in permanent motion – beside which Mandelson looks like a vision of poised sophistication. There are warm greetings, and as I'm introduced Mandelson pretends I'm there to shadow Blair, provoking another great jerky grimace.

"Oh no," Blair tells him. "No, not me, I'm the past. You're the future."

Mandelson can't resist inserting his pacifist jibe into the presentation speech, although I get the feeling it amuses him more than Blair, and is clearly lost on most of the audience of Indian dignitaries.

My emphasis. What has the war party come to?

8/10/2009 03:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does this not remind you of the immediately post-office collapse of Herself? "I used to be prime minister, you know."

But Fenner Brockway award.

'He was a pacifist', ha ha ha.

This is what the Labour movement has come to in this country.

Makes Ramsay MacDonald look like Jenny Lee.

[Swearing deleted - insert your own to taste.]

Chris Williams

8/10/2009 04:37:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Oh dear, it just gets worse for Nick:

The campaign will be a massacre. Four weeks of Cameron - whom you can’t help liking even if you disagree with him - vs Brown - whom you can’t help disliking even if you agree with him. Night after night on every bulletin.

does he seriously think that Cameron is inherently likeable? And does he think this counts for analysis? Looks like he's been 'persuaded' by prestigious invitations, just like he was with wolfowitz... Whither the evil Etonians of yore?

I should add that if you click on the link, a scarily massive photo of nick immediately appears...

aaro today - looks suspiciously anti-american to me...

8/11/2009 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

When I think of Cameron I can never quite get this picture of him out of my head.

8/11/2009 09:37:00 AM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

"Almost two months did go by,however,before the foreign press had an inkling of what had happened, and four beforea skeletal and moderately accurate account appeared."
Bloody Saturday in the Soviet Union By Samuel H. Baron, p108.

8/11/2009 12:53:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeesboard said...

On the Kaminski topic - looks like Pollard's argument has rather fallen apart.

8/11/2009 02:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That Kaminski story in the Graun is immediately followed by comments saying "this is a non-story". Is this going to be the line that the Tories take on every issue from now to the election?


8/11/2009 03:14:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

The blog might not be properly watching Nick Cohen, but damn it is difficult not to, such is the car-crash nature of his recent output. Guess who Nick blames for what he finds a distasteful tone in reporting on the 'Baby P' case?

Why, Mr Justice Eady, of course!

You couldn't make it up. Nick, of course, misses out the fact that many even more horrible cases of child abuse never make it to the front page. But that would stop the all-new GISOOT, which appears to be a harry's place style witch-hunt against Eady.

8/12/2009 08:40:00 AM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

oc - the article you link to doesn't mention Mr, Justice Eady,and appears to be focussed on the extension of misery tittilation to Fleet Street.

8/12/2009 04:06:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

re above

"Danuta highlighted Paul Dacre's speech to the Society of Editors in which he rightly accused the judiciary, most notably Mr Justice Eady, of inventing a privacy law without parliamentary authorisation."

8/12/2009 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

After Eady's Max Mosely judgment, tabloids beacme nervous about running stories about celebrities and needed a replacement. They found it in the misery market. This is why Baby P's wretched life receives such prominence (and not just on those low-class red-tops, but in what we used to call the broadsheets and on the BBC).

I'd note that the Shannon Matthews kidnapping (which occurred as a result of the media coverage of the Madeleine McCann kidnapping), was in February/March 2008, three months before the judgement in Moseley vs News Group. And also that the coverage of the Baby P case was more or less exactly the same as that of the Victoria Climbie case eight years earlier.

8/12/2009 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

It's also worth noting that Nick doesn't seem to understand that Moseley vs News Group was not a libel case.

8/12/2009 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Am I the only person who thinks that "news" by definition is about misery? War, murder, unemployment - these are news. Celebrities aren't; they're gossip. Maltreatment of a helpless (and blond!) kid: absolutely news. It would be news during an election or a blitz, FFS. The Baby P case has nothing to do with libel laws. Look at the things the tabs say about Jordan, Nick, before you claim that they've been scared by libel laws.

8/12/2009 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

The Baby P case was also a genuine news issue in that exposed serious shortcomings in the relevant council social services department and started a national debate over the proper balance between keeping families together and protecting threatened children. It was also not obviously more proletarian or sordid than, say, the recent stories about Jordan, which Nick Cohen would like to see more of. Its main disadvantage was apparently that it caused some (particularly squeamish; I also have a kid that age and didn't remotely think to make the comparison) parents to feel a bit funny. Perhaps we should give up on reporting casualties in Afghanistan for the sake of journalists with teenage sons? The more I think about it, the worse Nick's post gets.

(the real significance of Nick having a child is, of course, that with the Standard gig gone, the Observer looking wobbly and "Waiting for the Etonians" not selling anything like as well as "What's Left?", Standpoint is perilously close to becoming his household's main source of income).

8/12/2009 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Not really, there are other newspapers and there's always the Spectator.

8/12/2009 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

I'm more interested in NC's argument which appears to weld the traditional tactics of prurient red top news stories with current broadsheet/BBC/family newspapers.

He seems to assert that the above have become seduced into covering extremely unpleasant stories about children that they wouldn't have gone near years ago.

This doesn't make any sense. Crime sells stories.

Although tabloids were traditionally given impetus by "horror" stories - the (arguable) foundation of the Daily Globe was driven by its candid coverage of Jack the Ripper in the 1880's yet does not mean that either its consumers or publishers were uninterested in the facts of the case.

His argument (aside from the foolish conclusion on the Moseley one) brings nothing new to the table in terms of "I-don't-want-to-read-this-over-the-breakfast-table) Daily Mail readership. An undefined readership that could be called a "tell-me-everything-about-the-Bulger/McCann/Mary Bell/Climbie cases/ad nausea" as long as one is left feeling comfortable at the end of the story. But spare me the forensic details. Which is fine to a certain extent.

But NC, don't pretend that you can look disdainfully at an industry economically wrapped in frightful stories and come to a position where it's easy to say: I draw the line here. Or, to be more blunt, stop acting like a Daily Telegraph reader.

8/12/2009 10:01:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I really don't see the link between misery lit (something I have no time for) and the cases Cohen mentions. The Matthews and Baby P 'backstories' might be upsetting to some (personally i found them interesting regarding the implications for social work etc, but hey) but they have come in reports of court cases, which would have been reported extensively decades ago in more or less exactly the same way. The idea that they're only in broadsheets because of a combination of Angela's Ashes being popular and Eady's ruling on the NoTW filming Max mosley is really odd. And does nick not even look at the tabloids? they're still full of celebrity stuff, just as they were decades ago, too. The 'fake sheikh' stuff seems to have died down, but i don't really think that's too much of a shame, since it was more often than not an attempt to get people to lie, in order to impress someone, then running the lies as news...

Nothing's really changed in journalism, which is why nick's slightly distasteful 'fish and chip' term is an old one, as he admits. If he doesn't want to read this stuff, that's fine, and if he doesn't think it belongs in broadsheets, that's ok too, but it'll always be featured in them.

and it's not like Baby P's dragging on forever, either, in most papers - nothing in tehgraun today really, a sun 'woman in prison' splash no different to their huntley/Carr obsessiveness, mirror has x-factor, mail has alan duncan.

8/13/2009 09:03:00 AM  

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