Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Big fat Jew in a bikini

I have been writing a follow-up post about class (provisional title: we are the 47%) for a few days now, but keep stalling, for lack of time.

I mainly got sidetracked by work, family and the other demands of the real world. But I also got sidetracked in the unreal world. First by the excellent Sad Red Earth with his first and second posts on the stink of today's politics and the hall of mirrors in which we dwell (taking in Muslim Rage, Maureen Dowd, slithering neoconservatives and Andrew Sullivan, among other things).

I also got sidetracked by the chutzpah of JihadWatch's Robert Spencer, whose Twitter effluent defames dozens of mainstream American liberals by preposterously claiming they want Christians to be imprisoned in the US for insulting Mohammed - but who bullyingly demanded a retraction of my friends Glyn and Peter for "defamatory" things they never even said about him. Spencer, along with Pamela Geller, circulated completely false claims about Nigerian Muslims crucifying cats. When they realised it was a hoax, they pulled their posts. But not before literally thousands of bloggers, tweeters and such had re-circulated the lie. Anyone with any integrity would have corrected their error, rather than brushing it under the carpet, but Spencer and Geller don't care about the truth, only about provoking the clash of civilizations. Here are the key documents.

While I was here, I glanced at my ever-dwindling readership stats. Apart from the obvious "Bob From Brockley", here are the most popular searches that bring my sweet readers here (with hyperlinks to the posts they must be looking for, for added reductio ad absurdum):
If you are missing my more frequent blogging days, I am more prolific at the moment (if of course more concise) on Twitter. And some of my Twitter feed gets aggregated by robots in Lichtenstein here.

Hope 5773 is going well for you so far.

21 comments:

Entdinglichung said...

from my referrer stats, it is my general impression that 25-30% are looking for porn and 10-20% for stuff they could use for writing (plagiarising?!) their course work

kellie said...

I get quite a few people searching for "heads, shoulders, knees and toes." Maybe they don't know the rest of the words? Or they've forgotten the tune, is that possible?

Sarah AB said...

I think it would be useful if someone would put together a myth busting digest of all the misleading stories posted by people like Robert Spencer. I believe some of his individual posts may be ok, but that makes it all the more important to identify the problems.

The Contentious Centrist said...

I totally agree with what you are saying, Bob, on the cat crucifiction story.

I saw Pamela Geller on CNN the other night, defending an "anti-Jihad" ad she promoted on NY buses. She was accused of posting provocative hateful messages against Muslims. I think she acquitted herself quite well, making the point (and this is the point I want to make) that the whole media hullabaloo around her ads was conspicuously absent from the public glare when for years now there has been an on going anti-Zionist vilification ad campaign on the same buses and nary a word or a raised eyebrow from any of the mainstream media.

Of course lies and slanders against entire peoples, nations and cultures should NOT be repeated in major or minor websites. But you know, "Angry Arab News Service" is a very popular website with millions of readers in the Middle East. That website, regularly and probably on a daily basis, publishes lies, manufactured outrages, distortions and just plain incitement for hatred against Israel, and Jews (scrupulously re-named "Zionists") and other entities it calls Zionists (such as the Saudi royal family and media). And yet, I have not seem even a fraction, or a fraction of a fraction, of the same wrath and dogged focus that are very much evident towards Geller or Spencer.

How do you explain the difference in interest, Bob?

modernity's ghost said...

" I believe some of his individual posts may be ok, but that makes it all the more important to identify the problems."

Really? Really??

Isn't that a bit like the symptom we saw years ago?

Anti-Zionists would post from Far Right sites without batting an eyelid.

When you find you're agreeing with bigots or racists then it is time to have a re-think, whatever "side" you are on....

Sarah AB said...

modernity - I am not a regular jihadwatch reader by any means but I think its approach is subtler than that of Atlas Shrugs - the rhetoric is considerably less exaggerated. When I say that some individual posts may be ok I do not wish to excuse or mitigate the problems, but to highlight the importance of a precise critique which explains why the site's mix of the broadly, or superficially, fair and the horribly tendentious is so dangerous.

Here is an example of a recent post which doesn't display overly obvious signs of bigotry.

http://www.jihadwatch.org/2012/09/france-muslim-arrested-for-calling-for-beheading-of-muhammad-cartoon-magazine-editor.html

Sarah AB said...

I think, Modernity, I may also have expressed myself quite mildly because the idea that I might possibly be on the same 'side' as Robert Spencer seems bizarre - I am a reasonably on message commenter on Loonwatch (Spencer's bete noire), for example.

bob said...

I think it would be useful if someone would put together a myth busting digest of all the misleading stories posted by people like Robert Spencer. I fear that would be an endless task... Little Green Footballs is good for addressing the worst ones.

How do you explain the difference in interest, Bob?

A good question. In my personal case, I don't really have the stomach for either job. I only got involved in this cat story because I noticed Spencer (8886 followers) claiming he'd been defamed and acting in a pompous bullying way Twitter on towards the mild-mannered Glyn (1110 followers) and towards Peter (345 followers and resolute anti-Islamist).

However, in the case of most leftists and liberals, I think it is is the case that antisemitism is considered less of a significant threat than Islamophobia in today's world, and there is a consequent trivialising of the former and boostering of the latter.

I also think the "racism of low expectations" is at work, with the vitriol of the Angry Arab (8799 followers) indulged because he somehow represents the downtrodden Other, despite his privilege, relatively high salary, tenure and enormous access to the public sphere.

bob said...

JihadWatch mostly simply reproduces news stories which put Muslims in a bad light (the overwhelming majority of which come from reliable sources and many of which include information that should be better known) with minimal editorial comment. Atlas Shrugs generally is several notches more hysterical and racist, with a lot heavier editorial intervention. Spencer writes from time to time for Atlas Shrugs, and when he does his invective is not really much milder than Geller's. Both sites are dangerous because of the extremely wide reach and circulation of their poison.

Anonymous said...

While Im sympathetic to Geller, Im not a fan of her style. Not sure how Spencer got so entangled with her, but I have much more respect for Spencer.

PJMedia is posting Spencer articles these days, about once a week or so.

Im afraid Im, anti Twitter. I cant see the usefulness of the 140 character box for deep analysis and nuanced communication of complicated ideas. Twitter is anathema to thought, IMO. What next, whittling communication down to grunts, moans, coos, and yelps. The short story is a triumph of concise effecient communication, the 140 character comment box on a mobile electronic gizmo, not so much.

EV

modernity's ghost said...


"I may also have expressed myself quite mildly because the idea that I might possibly be on the same 'side' as Robert Spencer seems bizarre"

Sarah,

My point was much broader than personal indignation allows for.

I am trying to point out the issue of universality and the question of judgement, that's independent of individuals, but naturally connected to them as they express their judgements.

Let us flip it over (and this should have been obvious) and see what comes out.

Suppose instead of Spencer someone had said "I believe some of Gilad Atzmon (Counterpunch, or whatever anti-Jewish bigot you please) individual posts may be ok, but that makes it all the more important to identify the problems"

Any reasoned person would probably say, hang on, this writer is a bigot and clearly employs low level antisemitism, dressed up for a modern audience. Why would anyone ever agree with a single word he wrote, as clearly the motivation is to attack s specific **ethnicity**.

That’s irrespective of whether or not the recipients of such bile are Jews, Muslims, Asians, etc

The mechanisms and habits of bigots, racists and their hanger-ons are well-documented. They often vary in intensity depending on the individual, their predisposition’s and desire to push their propaganda.

But the motives of such twisted individuals are fairly consistent.

They wish to stick it to a particular ethnic minority (or minorities) and, as Bob pointed out, they gather any salacious and negative news to convey a detrimental view of said ethnicity/ethnicities.

That applies to people who dislike blacks, the Irish, the Roma, Jews or Muslims.

That applies whether or not they do it on a conscious level or not.

Their basic modus operandi is obvious and it is for intelligent antiracist to see that.

It is for smart anti-racists to see beyond the bleeding obvious and apply universal principles.

But suppose instead of Muslims that Spencer had published a continual diet of negative stories concerning blacks in Britain (talking about "Mugging", "crime", "immigration", "too many babies", all of that borderline filth, etc) would it be sensible, hypothetically speaking, to find any common ground with him? Or to even acknowledged that one of the stories might have a milligram of fact in them.

No, of course not.

Racism must be opposed if it comes dressed in Dr Martin boots and tattoos, or a nice jacket and pleasant smile. It is for conscious people to understand its varied nature and changing motifs, but to see its intrinsic prejudice and intolerance.

Those committed to universality should understand that, irrespective of who is the object of the hatred (Muslims, Jews, Asians, etc) and whoever articulates it (Spencer, Atzmon/Counterpunch, EDL/BNP, etc).

Antiracists and shrewd people must see the common connections between the racists’ methodology and how they try to make their views palatable as possible whilst retaining the essence of negativity and prejudice.

All of that applies when the object of resentment is: Muslims, Jews and any other ethnicity you care to name.

Sarah AB said...

I remember I did once agree with something Atzmon wrote - I've blanked out what it was though.

I'm not sure the parallel with negative stories concerning blacks in Britain in entirely precise, as Islam is a religion which can be interpreted in different ways, not a race. Where Spencer sneers 'misunderstanding of Islam' other Muslims will use similar words quite sincerely, citing the same incidents (eg treatment of Christians in Iran, violent responses to blasphemy).

bob said...

Back...

1/ Re being anti-Twitter. I thought for some time it was a completely insane thing. it certainly is not a platform for profound thoughts. However, it is excellent for a number of things:

(a) being aware of breaking news items that might be below the radar of the mainstream media - e.g. the rigged election results in Belarus, the extraordinary demonstrations against Islamism in Benghazi, the dignified mass citizen post-riot clean-ups in Pakistan, George Galloway's civil wedding ceremony to someone less than half his age who he already married possibly bigamously in an Islamic ceremony some months before. (Oh, that last one isn't significant is it?)

(b) it is a good way of sharing, signposting and accessing links of interest

(c) people can be very funny there who have perfected the art of concision. And some people (e.g. George Szirtes) can actually be eloquent and profound in 140 words

(d) making superficial connections with people that you wouldn't necessarily want to hang out with but might have some common ground with

bob said...

2/ Re the Mod/Spencer issue

Why would anyone ever agree with a single word he wrote, as clearly the motivation is to attack s specific **ethnicity**.

It's true that we must make every effort to expose the racism of bigots, from the Angry Arab to Israel Shamir and Gilad Atzmon to Robert Spencer. I agree that it is ESPECIALLY true when their statements come packaged in apparently palatable or persuasive form, when the task of exposing and refuting them is much more valuable than when they look like the jackbooted Nazis liberals and leftists are most comfortable opposing.

BUT I don't think we can say that it is impossible to agree with a single word ever said by a racist. Surely if Spencer or Atzmon says something undeniably true we can't disagree with them simply because it's them that said it? Privately agreeing with rational individual statements made by racists is not the same as endorsing, circulating, linking to, promoting or giving platform to them.

--

Talking of people being taken in by bigots, I presume those who would be interested are following the disgusting syndication from wingnut rag CounterPunch to Stalinist rag Morning Star of neo-Nazi Israel Shamir and his defence of Putin's repression of Pussy Riot, and of Shamir's even more offensive pro Pol Pot propaganda in CounterPunch...

modernity's ghost said...

"I'm not sure the parallel with negative stories concerning blacks in Britain in entirely precise, as Islam is a religion which can be interpreted in different ways, not a race. "

A few points, over 60+ years ago a similar line of reasoning that Jews were not a race but a religion was used by those hung up and full of prejudice towards Jews.

So the point is perfectly applicable, unless we wish to be pedantic and define what what isn't a race, etc and all that nonsense which is frequently used by bigots to hide their racism.

It also is rather naive to assume that racists would not lie about their motivations, the target of their animus and why they do it.

A rather stark example would be the moronic propaganda put out by the EDL, it goes on about how Muslims are not a race, etc etc

Yet anyone halfway sensible realises what their game is, to attack ethnic minorities, the same is true of Spencer.

We need to see beyond the bleeding obvious and ask why does he constantly publish a diet of negative comment involving Muslims?

If he were to change tomorrow and continue in the same vein but the object of his hatred had been the Roma, I wonder would the penny drop?

Spencer's a bigot, that’s plain to anyone with eye to see and some grey cells to reason with, he's just a bit more polished than the thugs that assault Muslims in the street.

If you wish a historical parallel, think of Enoch Powell. He was not a violent man, yet his vile ideas stirred up prejudice and racism, how different is Spencer?

So if you find yourself ever agreeing with Powell or Spencer, then it is time to think why, and change pronto...

Sarah AB said...

Modernity - I don't strongly disagree with you, but I do a bit. I think much anti-Muslim feeling comes from the same mental space as racism, but you can be an anti-Muslim bigot without being identifiably racist, and you can certainly be a critic of Islam or Islamism without being racist. (Though you might be a bigot.) It's quite a grey area, certainly, and I agreed broadly with Sunny Hundal over the debate about those 'counter jihad' posters organised by Pamela Geller - ie I thought there was a reasonable case for saying they were racist.

I really don't think we are in serious disagreement over Spencer. But you identify the problem yourself - his relentless focus on negative stories about Muslims. Some of these are obviously offensive or at least tendentious, but sometimes he just pretty much reports a story straight - and some of these stories are perfectly valid. That's what makes him a problem - he's less obviously a frothing loon than Geller. So he has to be countered in a bit more detail, and in order for counterarguments to be effective, I think, there has to be an acknowledgement of the fact he doesn't always smear and lie. So where he reports something like Islam-inspired attacks on shrines in Mali, you could agree that is bad, but point out (which Spencer never will) that the story has been condemned around the world by Muslims and that Muslims and Christians have lived together in that region for centuries. That doesn't make the attacks any better, but it does show how he is essentialising Islam with his blinkered and bigoted approach.

modernity's ghost said...

"That's what makes him a problem - he's less obviously a frothing loon than Geller. "

They are the best of friends, and it all comes down the modus operandi.

If we were to use historical examples, we can see that antisemites came in various different stripes (there is even some theoretical work on this), from someone with a moderate dislike of Jews, across many shades to the genocidal hater. And in the middle, the respectable, nicely suited, well spoken academic (and we know from historical sources that many European Professors and students were/have been active supporters of the extreme right).

Naturally, there are grains of haters from active thugs to the backroom boys and the smooth frontmen as anyone studying the phenomena of fascism and racism should know.

So the question is not what motivates them, that's plain enough: Spencer dislikes Muslims, only his *method* is different from Geller and the EDL/BNP

Thus, if you wouldn’t give the EDL or BNP the time of day then it is best to treat this besuited bigot with equal and vigorous contempt.

Spencer's use of sources and lack of comment is probably just a tactic, so that he doesn't seem as extreme as he really is.

You might, in fact, argue that sometimes lack of comment, is a comment , a nod and a wink, a dog whistle to his supporters, with the steady drip of dubious stories, they know the trajectory of the outcome.

Intelligent people should not be fooled by the antics of racists.

We have seen how the EDL plays games, pretend to be antiracists, etc and generally lie through their teeth.

The astute among us should assume that Spencer does the same.

And let's be very clear, it's not about Islam it's not about religion.

Spencer, his acolytes and Far Right followers hate Muslims and in their quests for hatred they employ various methods (guff about shrines in Mali, etc), but the essentially negative message is the same.

Historically speaking, Spencer isn't terribly different from bigots of yesteryear and we shouldn't assume otherwise.

He may wear a suit, have better manners, but his message is one of racism, intolerance and prejudice towards Muslims, the rest is just veneer.

Sarah AB said...

I think the only sense in which I disagree with you, Modernity, is that I see the intersection between AMB and racism as a little less marked than you do.

TNC said...

see this? http://trialbyjeory.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/a-new-mural-row-in-brick-lane/#comment-7500

would have emailed but thought this might be the quickest way to get it to you. My comments are there.

kellie said...

There is no worse kitsch than political kitsch. Mick Hartley had a post on this recently.

Sarah AB said...

@TNC - I had noticed it, via Twitter. I agree about your comment WRT Tim, I think. But I would say the mural seems to tap into antisemitic tropes, to put it no more strongly.