Friday, July 17, 2009

Mehdi Hasan

Alerted by Martin to the kerfuffle at HP over Mehdi Hasan, the new senior politics editor at the New Statesman (not to be confused with the other, truly great, Mehdi Hassan). Just had a brief scroll through the young fellow's ouevre.

Item: Here Hasan argues that going on Press TV is a good thing, because it can "help foster much-needed dialogue and debate between the west and the Middle East". He argues this by (rightly) pointing out the hypocrisy of the likes of Rod Liddle and Dominic Lawson attacking “Iran’s British stooges”, but fails to address the substantive point that propping up a totalitarian regime's propoganda machine can never be right.

Item: Here he claims that the Quilliam Foundation think that using the term "the Muslim world" is "a phrase conceived exclusively by radical Islamists for nefarious propaganda purposes", when in fact they say nothing of the kind, but sensibly call for a stop to constructing an imaginary homogenous Muslim "community", not least because that kind of homogenising view plays into an anti-Muslim racist "clash of civilizations" worldview.

Item: Here he says that Obama's Cairo speech won't stop "the Muslim world" from hating America, only stopping its support of Israel and, er, of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states, will they stop. In this article, he quotes as an authority one Michael Scheuer, Ron Paul's foreign policy adviser, who recently called for Osama bin Laden to nuke America ("The only chance we have as a country right now"). Here, Scheuer is returning a favour; Bin Laden once said ""If you want to understand what's going on and if you would like to get to know some of the reasons for your losing the war against us, then read the book of Michael Scheuer in this regard." Scheuer is also, unsurprisingly, part of the Walt and Mearsheimer "Israel Lobby" conspiracy theory fantast world:
GARY ROSEN:If you could just elaborate a little bit on the clandestine ways in which Israel and presumably Jews have managed to so control debate over this fundamental foreign policy question.
SCHEUER: Well, the clandestine aspect is that, clearly, the ability to influence the Congress—that’s a clandestine activity, a covert activity. You know to some extent, the idea that the Holocaust Museum here in our country is another great ability to somehow make people feel guilty about being the people who did the most to try to end the Holocaust. I find—I just find the whole debate in the United States unbearably restricted with the inability to factually discuss what goes on between our two countries.[source]

18 comments:

Sohrab said...

Where did they find this guy?

Minnie said...

This guy needs to be kept tabs on just as you are. He is pretty extreme yet is enjoying a stellar career. He was part of the C4 mob that put Ahmadinejad on their "Christmas message" and now he's the Senior Editor at NS. But he is really a sixth form Dave Spart who condems terror but offers cover for it.

2yyiam said...

"This guy needs to be kept tabs on just as you are. He is pretty extreme"

Because he's voiced an opinion about the lack of coverage of white terrorists, he's suddenly classified as extreme?? Are you really that threatened?

Dear oh dear.

bob said...

Myself, I don't know see "extreme" as a particularly useful category. But, 2yyiam, you have completely missed the point. I have not condemned him for voicing an opinion about what terrorists (although I agree with Brett at HP that Hassan has got that wrong). I am condemning him for supporting the theocratic regime in Iran as it brutally suppresses its citizens, for defaming Quilliam who have made a pretty sensible suggestion, and for giving his weight to the Ron Paulista/Walt-Mearsheimer conspiracy theory view of the world.

Minnie said...

When I said he was "extreme" I meant the totality of his opinions not just this particular piece. it's part of a pattern.

bob said...

Thanks Minnie. The other thing that irritates me about 2yyiam's comment is the word "suddenly". Minnie raised the issue of him being part of the team that gave Ahmadinejad - a vicious dictator - the "alternative" Xmas message back in (obviously) December, so this is not about "suddenly".

bob said...

Minnie, if you are still around, is that absolutely sure for a fact that he was part of that team, or just that he worked for C4 at that time?

Anonymous said...

He was a member of the Channel 4 commissioning team under Dorothy Byrne. That's a small team of commissioners (no more than 6-8) and Hasan was one of those commissioning editors. Byrne is the most senior and therefore gave quotes to the press when the desired furore kicked off but it is hard to believe that this very vocal guy wasn't involved because he was part of the team that commissioned it. My ex-boyfriend has worked in TV so that's how I heard this stuff. I can't tell you his name though!

Minnie said...

Sorry that Anoymous above was me, Minnie! must get the hang of this. .

bob said...

Thanks Minnie. Appreciated.

bob said...

Done some googling. He was Editor, News and Current Affairs from October 08, under Dorothy Byrne. The alternative Xmas message was December 08.

Byrne and Hasan commissioned the interesting "It shouldn't happen to a Muslim" (Peter Oborne for Despatches) earlier that year.

Hasan is only 30...

For more see Dorothy Byrne is a sucker « Engage; Mehdi Hasan: The big transfer of the season in TV news - Media, News - The Independent

Minnie said...

The Indy piece seems to have been written by his mate at the New Statesman! all very incestuous!

bob said...

Thanks Minnie. I didn't notice that.
NS: "James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman. Before that he was a reporter at the Independent [that's when he wrote Hasan's profile] after moving across to print journalism from television, where he was producer of LWT's Dimbleby programme [where Hasan also worked before he joined C4] and BBC1's Question Time." Wonder what schools they went to?

2yyiam said...

First of all no one is able to substantiate the claim that he was part of the team who commissioned Ahmedinajad and yet the accusation remains.

Secondly, in his Press TV article, where exactly does he state that he is "supporting the theocratic regime in Iran as it brutally suppresses its citizens?" As far as I can tell, he is merely voicing an opinion on using Press TV to ones advantage to communicate. Iran hasn't suddenly become brutal and suppressive over it's citizens and yet the journalists mentioned in the article only now decided to have a problem with Press TV - why not before?

As for the Quilliam foundation, I rather not take advice about the "muslim world" from an ex-Islamist and again it's an opinion designed for debate.

How all of the above makes him extreme, I am still struggling to understand!

PS You also note Bob, that he commissioned the Dispatches on Islamaphobia - any thoughts on the scene where Obourne shows a series of headlines and replaces Muslim with Black, Gay, Jew and the appalled reactions from the punters in the shopping mall? They didn't seem so appalled when the headline read Muslim... - no Islamaphobia there then?

bob said...

1. Commissioning Ahmedinajad: My googling suggests this is true (see above) but I think I’ve been clear that it may not be.

2. He doesn’t state that he is "supporting the theocratic regime in Iran as it brutally suppresses its citizens"; he simply is: by giving Ahmedinejad a platform on Channel 4 (probably) and by legitimising Press TV.

3. I would rather take advice about the Muslim world from an ex-Islamist than from an Islamist or from an Islamist fellow traveller. Some of the most dedicated anti-fascists I’ve met were youthful members of the NF who saw the error of their ways.

4. I didn’t use the word extreme myself – I am quite an extremist on many issues – so won’t reply to that point. What all of the above does add up to, however, is someone quite unsavoury, and it is a shame that the New Statesman have been taken by him.

5. I don’t quite get your point on Dispatches. I thought the documentary was interesting (as I said above). I think that anti-Muslim racism is a serious political problem today, and that it needs combating. However, this man is not doing that good cause a favour.

Minnie said...

On the commissioning issue - maybe someone should ask him?

Minnie said...

I was the one who used the word "extreme" and I stand by it when it comes to all the various aspects that have been highlighted here. I should perhaps add that I found his views extreme given his senior role at a magazine that used to be more mainstream. it seems to be moving radically to the left and towards the unholy alliance between the hard left and (at least) apologists for terrorism and totalitarianism. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised!

bob said...

By the way, I notice HP are starting a 3 part series on this young fellow, starting here http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/07/24/medhi-hasan-exposed-part-i-%E2%80%93-atheists-and-disbelievers-are-%E2%80%9Ccattle%E2%80%9D-and-%E2%80%9Cof-no-intelligence%E2%80%9D/ with a recording of him talking about atheists as cattle.