Thursday, March 07, 2013

Fragile ghosts of things


06:38 And now that wonderful soft mist, grey thinning into fragile ghosts of things, trees rising and stretching, bare children
Budapest parliament in February, by Cadermark
As an early riser with a long commute, I cross London with twitter to accompany me. For non-tweeters, like I used to be, Twitter seems the reductio ad absurdum of social media: the most banal and superficial of platforms. For me, though, it is a window into hundreds of stories and worlds un-reported by the mainstream media. It satisfies an itch to reach out that also motivates my blogging, and is easier to squeeze into a cramped life than blogging.

One effect of Twitter seems to be that almost no bloggers any longer are doing the sorts of posts I still do, like the one you’re reading now: links to the multitude of “content” that has enriched my recent reading life. With Twitter, the instant retweet is so easy, why bother taking time out to write this stuff down? For me, although this sounds self-aggrandizing, posts like this are part of a political project: to join the dots between the isolated islets of sanity and decency in a public sphere filled with shrillness, idiocy, partisan vitriol, and regurgitation of received wisdom. While I don’t agree with all of the things I link to, in aggregate they make up a conversation I think more people need to have.

The words at the opening of this post are from an early morning tweet from the poet and (I hope I can say) my virtual friend, George Szirtes, one of the first things I read this morning. Like me, George doesn’t blog as much as he used to. But a recent post, “Hungary, Hungary: students, liberals, losses”, is a must-read. It gives three exemplars of the terrible drift to authoritarianism that deepens every passing month in Hungary – a drift which has progressed further, faster and more alarmingly in Hungary than in most of the continent, but which I fear is a European rather than specifically Hungarian drift nonetheless.

In Israel/Palestine, the same drift is amove. In the third dispatch from Roland Dodds’ wonderful travelogue with the IDF, he documents some of this. He starts with the Jewish religious right and “the slavish, nearly Ayatollah like admiration some of the ultra-orthodox parties have in Israel” but his post focuses elsewhere: on Arab Nazareth, and its secular Hadash municipal politicians. However, the thrust of the narrative, as in Hungary, is bleak, with political Islam displacing the secular left on the Arab street, the Christian community living in the shadow of intolerant theocracy.

While Western liberals have (rightly) focused on the scandals of Israel’s secret deportations of African migrants to Sudan and apartheid-like segregation of bus routes, this week has also seen further signs of the entrenching of Islamism’s intolerant theocracy in Hamastan, many barely reported, such as the continued murderous purge on claimed "collaborators", and the Hamas prevention of the Gaza Marathon because they could not countenance men and women running together.

Talking of gender apatheid, another post to recommend is this one, “Debating Feminism”, from Sarah AB.  Sarah is more energetic than me, and sleeps even less, but she is one of the few other bloggers still blogging in the old sense of linking to stuff that’s out there. The feminism post links to a number of very interesting pieces and you should click on all the links. One of its links is to Julie Bindel’s recent piece on the left’s betrayal of feminism. It’s a great article, hard-hitting and filled with stomach-churning examples. (Although, like Sarah, I had some caveats: While maybe he is "of" the left, isn't Brendan O’Neill’s brand of “leftism” is so maverick (and anti-leftist) that he is a poor exemplar of anything about the left in general? And while I get what she means when she uses the phrase "sharia-type court" wouldn't the Catholic church be a better analogy, without playing to Standpoint anti-Muslimism? And so on.)

Alan A had a thoughtful post on antisemitic cartoons, taking as a starting point Iranian cartoons blaming the horrific persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Burma on… the Jews. He uses these to think about the recent Steve Bell and Gerald Scarfe cartoons which we discussed here, and in my view he gets it exactly right. 

4 comments:

Roland Dodds said...

Cheers comrade. I am working on my piece about the international incident I was involved in in Egypt.

Sarah AB said...

" Sarah is more energetic than me, and sleeps even less"

I have posted four posts this morning (only two actually by me though) and am now feeling sulky because it's way past 7 and no one has commented yet!

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Flesh said...

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