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.)


Blogger AndyB said...

"invocation to violence in Middle East conflicts"?

Didn't the "invocation to violence in Middle East conflicts" have the support of the two largest political parties in the UK and the vast majority of the media?

3/08/2011 11:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Martin Wisse said...

"Both men through the writing and work are an inspiration here and abroad."

Are we sure English is McShane/Cohen's first language?

3/09/2011 09:48:00 AM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

(The headline made me cackle. Well played.)

3/09/2011 04:02:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

In answer to the final question - am not sure, really. I never got the point of Quilliam and good old Denis does a pretty bad job of explaining it.

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.

Good for you, Denis, and for him, but a) why did the journo need Denis to take him if Quilliam is so aces, and b) it's not like Nawaz is going to die if Quilliam loses funding, the journo could still go to see him.

Personally i'm of the opinion that there are rather bigger fish to fry in terms of opposing tory cuts than the cutting of funding to a small think tank.

The vital work it does is... well... there are no events listed for 2011 on the website. They've got a blog about Egypt and they've issued a fair amount of statements, but all the same...

also quilliam go quite badly off decent mesage with reference to Israel/Palestine but hey.

Maybe the underlying problem here is that other Muslim groups which Denis isn't so fond of aren't govt-funded, and will thus potentially get more airtime than Qulliam if it loses funding?

3/10/2011 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger Coventrian said...

Uber-decent Martin Bright adds his voice to the clamour.


Bright explains,

'Quilliam has its friends within the Jewish community (although the organisation may not thank me for saying so) and they are needed now more than ever.

The terrible irony of Quilliam's predicament is that it has always resisted offers of generous funding from "enlightened" figures from the Gulf. The reason? The think-tank was not prepared to shift to a more critical position on Israel.'

3/11/2011 02:11:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Quilliam has been pretty critical of Israel in the past iirc. it's one of the reasons I'm quite well-disposed towards Husain, in fact; it'd be a lot easier for him to toe the Govt line.

see Brighty himself:



“I’ve spoken out in support of Israel’s right to exist. But Israel’s cold, politically timed killing of more than 300 Palestinians makes me, and millions more rethink our attitude towards Israel.”

i still don't understand why funding Quilliam is so important. Yes, Husain might be a decent guy. But cutting Quilliam funding is not going to stop him writing op-eds.

3/11/2011 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Coventrian said...

This. Is. Hilarious.


3/12/2011 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

"Yes, Israel is not free from blame, as our Quilliam Foundation press release stated, it has acted with utter disregard for human life. There is however, one crucial difference that slices through this debate like a hot knife through butter. Israel does not have an active policy of deliberately capturing children to murder them, or even deliberately murdering civilians for that matter. Israel acts irresponsibly, with impunity and total disregard for the consequences of its military onslaught, and this leads to the deaths of many Palestinian civilians and some children. But it does not deliberately select children to murder, nor justifies doing so. Hamas just has.”

Which would be the root distinction of double effect: between specifically intending something on the one hand, and on the other deliberately acting in such a way as to bring it about with certainty. Which, other things equal, makes piss-all difference to the permissibility of one's plan.

I suspect this kind of thing explains why Quilliam (name reminds me of noirish subterfuge-y novels for some reason. Quilty in Lolita - subterfugitive?; I'm sure Greene (poss Le Carre) has some Quimby or such; then the Quiller Memo of course) is/was so valued by Decents.

Showy but eventually insubstantial crit. of Israel if anything adds further credibility, along with the supposed 'extremist' etc past which I can't be othered to verify, any more than I can Bright's testimony that Gaddafi graduated to ...bumping off Libyan dissidents... One of these was the father of my friend Huda Abuzeid, who was murdered in his grocery shop in west London. Gaddafi’s hired assassins pushed kebab skewers through his face in a particularly brutal “hit”.

For those Decents who get the point of easing up on the outrage - the fiendishly cunning trade-off strategy known as 'making it look good' - it's presumably worth accepting the outrageous slurs on good name of the IDF, because the rest of the Quimbimble output (up to and including being happy to deal with US-allied arab despots) is straight out of the Decent playbook, but with that hard-to-find 'see? even the less, er, extreme Islamic extremists agree with us' factor.

Islamic extremists who are of course anti-Israel (but we do not speculate that they are in some sense antisemitic, because of course being agreed with by someone who has been called antisemitic makes you wrong and fiendish).

Also, All these claims have since been rebutted by Quilliam co-founder Maajid Nawaz.

much less clear than in the case of 'refute', but isn't 'rebut' factive too, i.e. implies success? For the literate, 'denies' would be the unambiguously non-factive option. Is Bright hedging about the bush here? He seems to mean deny, but perhaps thinks it has too dismissive an implicature, dunno.

3/12/2011 06:03:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

Meanwhile Nick now lays into the EU for the situation in North Africa, again failing to use the works "United States", although Bush gets a big yay for deposing Saddam.

3/14/2011 09:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Husain might be a decent guy. But cutting Quilliam funding is not going to stop him writing op-eds."

Writing op-eds may be the ostensible output from such a grant but it isn't the real one. Really it is a bung to allow the grant recipient to dabble in politics, network, lobby or whatever. Ditto the "peanuts" paid to BoJo to write a column in the Telegraph or the advances paid to people like Blair for their books.


3/14/2011 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

Those of us wondering what it is that Quilliam actually does will be delighted to know that, amongst other things, it puts a cornflakes box on its head and marches around pretending to be General MacArthur...


A seven-point plan! Awesome!

3/14/2011 01:31:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I love that Nick article...

Europe did not condemn the Arab dictators' denial of freedom, the cruelty of their regimes or the cronyism that was allowing the Mubarak family in Egypt and the Bashir and Gaddafi clans in "revolutionary" Syria and Libya to become monarchical dynasties where absolute power passed from father to son.

Neither did Nick, but that's by the by.

Meanwhile the British know that BP lobbied Gordon Brown to secure the release of the Lockerbie bomber. With luck, we may learn more if the rebels can reverse their defeats, and open the secret police archives in Tripoli.

If a certain take on the Lockerbie issue is correct, this might look pretty bad for people like, well, Nick and his Blairite chums.

This is my fave bit though:

Most of the apologists for dictatorship do not need bribes, whether they are Foreign Office Arabists, Little England columnists for the Tory press or the Livingstone/Galloway breed of brutal leftist.

Galloway, of course, is outspokenly anti-Gadaffi, and supports intervention (though not by us). But Tony Blair, much admired by Nick, supported both Gadaffi and Mubarak. Blair, incidentally, must be seriously pissed off that his Iran hobyhorse has been supplanted by these other 'concerns'.

bonus cohen points for a needless bit of poetry cribbed from his well-used quotations book. Did anyone else read this:

"You cannot hope to bribe or twist,/Thank God! the British journalist./But, seeing what the man will do/Unbribed, there's no occasion to."

and think of the names 'Paul Wolfowitz' and 'Hassan Butt'?

I still don't get Cohen's ideas about 'racism', either. He identifies racism as :'for an undefined reason – Arab culture, Islam, something in the water – hundreds of millions of people do not want the same rights as us'. But even the most staunch relativist doesn't think this - they'd simply say that it's not our responsibility to enforce democracy overseas, that we have no right to tell other people how to govern themselves, even if we believe strongly in democracy (not saying I'm with them here) and that it's problematic for us to be engaging in wars in countries we've previously colonized. and, i might add, it's fairly problematic to be starting wars against dictators we've previously supported until very, very recently.

3/14/2011 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Note also the context of that quote:

readers who see corruption as a universal explanation [sic] should take a deep breath and remember Humbert Wolfe's line: "You cannot hope... etc

This displays a bizarrely restricted conception of what corruption consists in. If there is no brown envelope (cf. 'smoky room') it's case closed.

Thus Nick, quite incidentally to his main point, displays his status as consumer/B-cop to the producers/A-cops who put so much effort into stigmatising 'conspiracy theorists' in the abstract and in person.

3/14/2011 09:15:00 PM  
Blogger Naadir said...

Organic Cheeseboard:
"Husain might be a decent guy. But cutting Quilliam funding is not going to stop him writing op-eds."

Bit of an error there. Hussein's now at the Council for Foreign Relations.

3/15/2011 11:45:00 AM  

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