Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Is this the same Nick Cohen?

A quickie, essentially reposting a comment I made on Nick's Spectator blog.

Tory MPs do not share platforms with BNP supporters, but Labour MPs associate [with] George Galloway, the SWP and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Is this the same Nick Cohen?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds

A quick bit of Nick watching. It's nice to see that Nick does do some research for his Observer pieces, even if it's hard to see how the research informed the column.

No one could write a modern version of Flora Thompson's Lark Rise to Candleford, which was set in the hamlets around Fringford in North Oxfordshire at the turn of the 20th century. The working and lower-middle classes of small country towns and the labourers on the farms have all but vanished.

Over to Wikipedia for a quick explanation:

Because Thompson wrote her account some forty years after the events she describes she was able to identify the period as a pivotal point in rural history: the time when the quiet, close-knit and peaceful rural culture, governed by the seasons, began a transformation, through agricultural mechanisation, better communications and urban expansion, into the homogenised society of today.

What happened to Nick's knocking of the BBC? I assume he's talking about the adaptation. And of course, modern versions happen all the time. Tamara Drewe was serialised in the Guardian and was, of course, an updating of Far From the Madding Crowd. The film was made in part by the BBC (confirmed by the crew listing in the IMDB). Tamara Drewe was really very good, and if you haven't seen it, it'll be on the box soon enough.

But, as they say, why let facts get in the way of a story? And re decency, would that the Cromwells innocent [update whoops! guiltless] of their country's blood were also mute like the inglorious Miltons. Fat chance. (I apologise if I've lost any readers here; it's really not important.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Protect vital facilities like oil and power

Two apologies. First, for suddenly posting so often, and second, for this will-you-condemn-athon.

Saudi Arabian troops sent to Bahrain as protests escalate.

There was no official comment on the presence of the troops, but a Saudi official said "the force will work under the directions of the Bahraini government and protect vital facilities like oil and power."

Never mind, I'm sure the protestors can rely on Comrade Blair.

Comrade Cohen has an important and timely post on the vile moral bankruptcy at the heart of the western world. Yes, he's comparing Ed Miliband to Finkler! Shoulder to shoulder with the oppressed, Comrade Cohen, as always.

Bonus: First 30 seconds of this never get old.

Update Wed 16 March: 4 pm At least Gene (no longer the only 'sensible one' at Harry's Place since Sarah joined) is concerned about Bahrain (very few comments, and one of those is me winding Marko up). And he's followed it up with a second disturbing video. At least somebody cares and isn't simply point scoring. Have any British pols said anything about Bahrain?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Shorter Quilliam

Thanks to the indefatigable Flying Rodent, Quilliam present a seven-point plan.

Quilliam therefore proposes the following urgent actions...

This could be reduced to:

What the Interim National Council said.

I think that's a use of "proposes" for the Newspeak dictionary.

Also, I have no idea what the following means.

Noman Benotman, a Libyan senior analyst at Quilliam who prior to the recent violence had acted in his private capacity as an intermediary between Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) of which he was formerly a senior member, said:
‘For the last forty years, the Libyan people have been the victims, first of the brutal Gaddafi regime, and then in the 1990s of the violent clashes between the regime and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, of which I used to be a leader. From 2007 until the start of the recent Libyan uprising I acted as an intermediary between the Libyan government and the LIFG in order to resolve both these issues within the framework of a broader democratic resolution of Libya's problems. This process resulted in the LIFG’s rejection of jihadist violence and the release of over 700 people from Libya’s prisons.[']

Both what issues? What was "within the framework of a broader democratic resolution" given that Libya doesn't have a democracy of any kind? Anyway, I'd never heard of them, but I have now.

LIFG was founded in the fall of 1995 by Libyans who had fought against Soviet forces in Afghanistan. It aims to establish an Islamic state in Libya and views the current regime as oppressive, corrupt and anti-Muslim, according to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

And this Noman character.

Noman Benotman's letter to Zawahiri was published in Akhbar Libya (News) as an op-ed clarification in November 2007. The gist is that Al-Qaeda's efforts have been counterproductive and used as "subterfuge" by some Western countries to extend their regional ambitions. These comments were first aired at a meeting in Kundahar in the summer of 2000

If he's criticising AQ for "counterproductive" "efforts", doesn't that mean that they agree about ends, if not means? Must be a lovely guy.

On July 10, 2009, The Telegraph reported that the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group had split with Al Qaeda.

From which I infer that they were on the same side before. In other words, this is a person who didn't object to the events of 11 September 2001, 7 July 2005, etc at the time. Lovely. Denis MacShane wants the UK government to fund this guy. And he thinks we're sympathetic to terrorists.

Come and keep your comrade warm

Psmith is a somewhat selfish young man; however, he is generous towards those he likes. In a typical example from Leave it to Psmith, he perceives Eve, trapped by the rain under an awning, and decides, chivalrous gentleman that he is, to get her an umbrella. Unfortunately for Psmith, he does not, in point of fact, possess an umbrella. He solves this problem by appropriating another man's umbrella; when confronted by the umbrella's owner, Psmith attempts to comfort him by saying it is for a good cause, and, later, when relating the story, says, "Merely practical Socialism. Other people are content to talk about the Redistribution of Property. I go out and do it."[5] (Another of Psmith's quirks is his penchant for nominal socialism, observed mostly in his casual use of "Comrade" as a substitute for "Mister.")

From the Wikipedia entry on Psmith.

O my gospodata, o my droogs, when language does not shape thought, thoughts shape language, and what base thoughts we think. There are no terms of respect which are not malleable by irony. 'Sir' can be misshapen by a waiterly sneer. 'Comrade', one imagines, was given the pretzel treatment in the days of the Iron Curtain, and became its opposite, as, say, chum has in English. Though of course, 'comrade' is know here too.

'Oh, comrade,' she began in a dreary, whining sort of voice, 'I thought I heard you come in. Do you think you could come across and have a look at our kitchen sink? It's got blocked up and----'

It was Mrs Parsons, the wife of a neighbour on the same floor. ('Mrs' was a word somewhat discountenanced by the Party--you were supposed to call everyone 'comrade'--but with some women one used it instinctively.) She was a woman of about thirty, but looking much older.

It is never used at face value nowadays. Well, almost never.

The Arab revolutionaries have found a new comrade.

The rest is Nick at his most generalising and impenetrable. He says nasty things about almost everyone, and if you think nasty things need to be said, you may enjoy it. His targets are pretty much "everyone but me and my friends".

Nothing can shake Europe's racism of low expectations, which holds that for an undefined reason – Arab culture, Islam, something in the water – hundreds of millions of people do not want the same rights as us.

Belle le Triste left a splendid comment and as did organic cheeseboard. Nick clearly believes there is a right side of history, and he also seems to believe that rights are the same across the West. But they're not: the right to smoke in public or the right not have your air polluted by someone's cigarette are not universal. Many states in the USA still execute people (or can legally do so, even if they haven't for years); the EU things adult life is sacred. And whether foetuses have rights is debated continuously in the US, again. Is there a right to marry whomever one wishes, or should that be restricted only to members of the opposite sex? The right to vote is happily ignored by a consistent third of the population. I not only think that we're not at the end of history, but there isn't an end. I can't remember Nick's views on education, but I know that many of his Spectator colleagues think the education guaranteed by right is this country is not actually a very good education at all (and as people still leave school unable to read, may not merit being called an education at all). Et cetera, et cetera.

To be clear, my take on universal rights is broadly the same as the EU's, but I've met enough people in this country who disagree (I believe there should be a right not to be killed by the state; many don't: I believe in a woman's choice to bring a baby to term or not; again there are plenty who think that abrogates the baby's right to life) for me not to make sweeping generalisations about people I've never met.

Over to you. Title from Lennon and McCartney who splendidly rhymed 'south' with 'out' and 'farm' with 'warm'. Now, that's writing!

Kudos to Michael Ezra

Sorry to drag Michael "Not a Troll" Ezra up again, but I have to say that I admire him for writing this video and posting it on Harry's Place.

This is a bit off-topic, but if you watch, much of it will seem familiar. Video below, so you don't have to follow the link.

I wouldn't recommend reading the comments on Harry's Place, but Linda Grant makes some good points. ME earns himself some love with this comment on 12 March 2011, 11:58 am:

Israeli Nurse,
You are also a parody of the female character in the video in the main post.

Finally, for those who won't watch the video, this is the best bit:

-- All you are interested in doing is hating Israel. You read the Guardian. I read it too. Look how many articles that they publish attacking Israel. And then look at the comments. If there is an article on Canada, a massive country, they will be lucky to attract 50 comments. But on the tiny little country of Israel, they would get 500 comments on an article.

-- A lot of those comments are your comments or responses to your comments. If you did not comment, there would be a lot less comments.

-- I comment because I have to defend Israel.

Of course, Michael goes and spoils everything by saying that he likes Norman Podhoretz, whom I regard as nothing more than a bigot, like his wife Midge Decter:

From there we segue into a long, withering attack on Midge Decter ("Mrs. Norman Podhoretz"), whose nakedly homophobic Commentary essay on "the homosexual-rights movement" ("The Boys on the Beach," September 1980) clearly provoked in Mr. Vidal a kind of gleeful, murderous fury. He alternates light slaps ("She … writes with the authority and easy confidence of someone who knows that she is very well known indeed to those few who know her") with roundhouse punches ("For sheer vim and vigor, ‘The Boys on the Beach’ outdoes its implicit model, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion"), and ends on a note of bitter contempt and ominous foreboding: "[S]he is indeed a virtuoso of hate, and thus do pogroms begin."

But we can't have everything.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Quilliam, It Was Really Nothing...

The Rt Hon Denis MacShane tweets:

Nick Cohen quick off mark in support of T May's attack on Quilliam Foundation in Speccie Coffee House

No link, but Denis doesn't really do the internet thing. It's just as well that he calls the Home Secretary 'T May' as he spelled her given name wrongly twice in his letter. Letter? I'm getting ahead of myself. Nick's "quick off [the] mark" thing is a copy and paste (or perhaps not, the date was originally wrong, as spotted in Nick's comments) of Denis MacShane's letter to David Cameron, Michael Gove, and Ms May, and introduced with a bit of fluff.

I can't find any stories which say that Cameron or May are cutting think tanks (though it would be good if they were, IMO) still less the Quilliam Foundation. Here's the letter:

I was shocked to read today that cuts in Home Office funding may [sic DW] lead to the closure of the Quilliam Foundation.

Ever since Ed Hussain and Maajid Nawaz set it up[,] Quilliam has been a beacon in London for clear-headed, moderate, balanced analysis and policy recommendations on the vexed problem of radical, extreme Islamist ideology and its nefarious impact on British Muslims. [Why do policy recommendations need a beacon? Are they lost? DW]

Both men through the writing and work are an inspiration here and abroad. Only the other week I was taking an important American journalist to meet Mr Nawaz as he was the best guide to aspect of this problem in the UK. [An important, but secret American journalist. Still, I'm glad that Maajud Nawaz had the opportunity to meet "the best guide to aspect of this problem in the UK" even if that person is a Yank.]

I fought [!!! DW] under the last administration against those who wanted to see the ideological and communication struggle against extreme Islamist politics – including rampant anti-semitism and invocation to violence in Middle East conflicts – down-graded or returned to the denial of the problem that pervaded Whitehall at least until July 2007. [Didn't something happen in June 2007? I seem to remember one of those liberal friends of Islam left some office and was replaced by an ideological friend of MacShane and John Rentoul. But I may have got my Labour history mixed up again. DW]

I appreciated the robust language you used in support of what Quilliam stands for, Prime Minister, not the least at the CST dinner last Wednesday and the arguments of the Education Secretary.

Closing Quilliam will send the wrong signal at the wrong time to the enemies of our values and our freedom. I hope this vital work is allowed to continue. [And who is stopping it? DW]

Denis MacShane MP

Cut all the think tanks. God will know his own. There are days I could almost like Cameron. After all, he'd understand the title. Nice that Denis MacShane admits that those he "fought" were the real enemy -- other members of the Labour party.

Fun link: Cosying up to those who reject democracy is out (from the Times of London) is which a journalist praises David Cameron and Theresa May (he spells her name correctly) for their stance on Islamism.

Related post: The Capsule Decentiya, once more:

Maajid Nawaz: The Roots of Violent Islamist Extremism and Efforts to Counter it. The Quilliam Foundation does its funding pitch. The general message of "you should all listen to me because of my past as a violent halfwit" has been roundly mocked in these pages on many occasions, but here it is again. Contains a not bad summary of the history of Islam since 1928, if you had never heard of the thing, but most of our readers have.

Even if one agrees that the Quilliam Foundation did something useful once, it seems to have told the government where Islamic extremism came from and about countering it. Why fund them again? (Serious question.)

Monday, March 07, 2011

Worthy of Malvolio or Uriah Heep

Nick Cohen, Oxford graduate, basks in the schadenfreude of the resignation of the LSE's Howard Davies.

Yes, indeed, Davies was alone in taking money from the Libyan dictator. Never mind the often very good argument, "if he's going to give money away, better he gives it to us than someone worse." Or the other persuasive argument, "if Libyan students come here (to the LSE and the UK) perhaps they will return to Libya with broadened minds."

Libya: Lord Mandelson says Tony Blair was right to bring Gaddafi 'in from the cold'. Telegraph, nice pic of Tony Blair and the Colonel.

US brings Gaddafi in from the cold. Telegraph again, from 2004.

ANALYSIS: How Britain's Blair brought Gaddafi in from the cold
. From something called 'EarthTimes' but the copyright is Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

Scapegoating much?

Nick's prose now reads like a parody of newspaper journalism.

Davies' successors will need to open all the windows and let fresh air blast in if they are to remove the sweet smell of corruption that hangs over what was -- until only yesterday -- one of Europe's great universities.

Surely the rot started earlier than the day before Nick wrote his post?