Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

Now Milo Yiannopolis Turns Up to Help Sargon Destroy UKIP

May 7, 2019

More from the continuing implosion of UKIP thanks to Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad. As I’ve blogged about several times previously, Sargon’s one of the extreme right-wing bloggers, vloggers and internet personalities Kipperfuehrer Batten has recruited to boost UKIP’s electoral chances. The others include Mark Meechan, alias Count Dankula, of Nazi pug infamy and Paul Joseph Watson, late of American conspiracy news site, Infowars. As well as the vicious islamophobe and thug, Tommy Robinson. And rather than increase UKIP’s popularity and chances, these personalities are actually torpedoing it massively.

Sargon’s become infamous for a series of comments he made on social media. These include the tweet he sent to Labour MP Jess Phillips, saying ‘I wouldn’t even rape you’. This was bad enough, but then the Sunday before last the Mail on Sunday did a hit piece on him, reporting other comments Sargon had made which suggested he endorsed paedophilia. In one internet conversation, Sargon is supposed to have said that people could quote him as approving of adults have sex with boys. Because they did in ancient Greece, where it was called mentoring. In another chat with the Justicar, another vlogger, who claimed to have had sex before he was 11, Sargon had commented that it depended on the child whether this was right, and had to be considered on a case by case basis. When he was running The Thinkery podcast, Sargon had also made a broadcast with Singaporean vlogger Amos Yee, who genuinely believes that the age of consent should be scrapped.

And this is in addition to Sargon’s own use of racial slurs and his casual antifeminism. Sargon has attacked the media reporting these comments as ‘dirty, dirty smear merchants’, but he hasn’t disavowed them. Or at least, not the tweet directed at Jess Phillips, which he’s tried to defend, as has Batten, who claimed it was satirical. This has just made it all worse.

But, it seems, as Michael Medved used to say when presenting Channel 4’s The Worst of Hollywood back in the 1980s, ‘the worst is yet to come.’ How much worse? Milo Yiannopolis has announced that he’s coming to help Sargon out. That’s how much worse.

Yiannopolis is, you’ll remember, another extreme right-wing pundit. A former technology correspondent for Breitbart, Yiannopolis made his name promoting extreme Conservative views and policies. He was another anti-feminist, who also attacked Blacks, other ethnic minorities and has been accused of homophobia because of his comments about gays. And like Sargon, he tried to excuse it all in the name of ‘free speech’. He also hid behind his own identity as a half-Jewish gay man with a Black husband. A year or so ago he was touring America’s campuses as part of his ‘Dangerous Faggot’ campaign for the Republican party and Donald Trump. He also had a very lucrative book deal ready with the imprint of publishers Simon and Schuster specialising in right-wing politics.

Then it all spectacularly self-destructed. Like Sargon, Yiannopolis opened his mouth to make comments approving of child abuse. This was to Joe Rogan on his internet show, where Yiannopolis revealed that he had been molested when he was 13 by a Roman Catholic priest, called ‘Father Michael’, but claimed that he had been the active seducer. He said that sexual relationships between boys and older men were beneficial in that they helped these young gays with their sexual identity. He also claimed he had been to Hollywood boat parties where very young boys had been employed as prostitutes, but refused to name names. Under Californian law, failure to report sexual abuse is a crime. I don’t think Yiannopolis was formally charged with any offence, but his comments cost him his job with Breitbart, his book contract, and an invitation to the annual American Conservative gathering, CPAC. He has been declared bankrupt to the tune of £4 million. He was also hoping to go to Australia to do a tour there with Tommy Robinson, but the Ozzie authorities refused to let him in. But now Yiannopolis has sent a message telling everyone that he is flying in tomorrow to help Sargon on the campaign trail.

This is someone, who has destroyed their career through comments supporting paedophilia, coming to support someone else, who’s political career is being destroyed because they’ve allegedly made comments supporting child abuse. This brings to mind the old adage, ‘When you’re in a hole, stop digging.’

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/05/ukip-enlists-disgraced-paedophilia.html

A few days ago, Kevin Logan, Kristi Winters and Steve Shives did a livestream together, in which they discussed and mocked Sargon’s utterly incompetent management of his electoral campaign. To say it is not going well for Sargon is an understatement. Thanks to Sargon, the Gloucestershire branch of UKIP have shut themselves down rather than endorse him as a candidate, posting this on their website. When Sargon went to Gibraltar to drum up support there, as apparently it’s part of the southwest England European constituency, governor Fabian Picardo refused to meet him. The good politico then issued a tweet stating that as far as he was concerned, Sargon’s views represented hate speech that had no place in his country.

See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73f1TYBlRo4

This is nearly two and three quarter hours long, and I haven’t watched all of it, so I can’t comment on the video as a whole. But the reports and screenshots of Gloucestershire UKIP are at the 38 minute mark.

Logan, Winters and Shives also believed that Sargon was also refused entry to a Beefeater restaurant when he went to my home city of Bristol the other day. He wanted to hold a meeting in it, but somebody phoned them up to warn them that a Fascist wanted to hold his meeting there. So they refused.

The trio also joked that Sargon was the reverse Midas. Just as the ancient King in Greek legend turned all he touched into gold, so Sargon turns everything he comes into contact with to ordure. Why, joked Shives, couldn’t he join the Tories? Quite. And while he’s at it, I’d also like him to join the Jewish Labour Movement and get a job with Gabriel Pogrund on the Sunday Times, writing articles about how Corbyn and his supporters are anti-Semites. That should destroy those organisations.

According to Logan and co, UKIP’s polling is about 2.4 per cent, which is just above the 2 per cent level needed to get one of the two listed candidates for south-west England elected. But Sargon is the second, and at this rate definitely won’t be going to Europe any time soon. But after his performance, and support from Yiannopolis, it’s going to be a good question whether there’s still a UKIP party after this election.

 

 

 

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Sargon Begins Car-Crash UKIP Campaign

April 26, 2019

As it’s now certain that we’re still going to be in the EU for the European election, the various racist, anti-EU, anti-immigrant and islamophobic parties are lining up to campaign. And that includes UKIP, who, as I’ve blogged previously, have selected Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, to be one of their two listed candidates for the southwest. Sargon’s a right-wing internet personality with a hatred of ‘political correctness’, meaning feminism and anti-racist and gay rights activism. He styles himself a ‘centrist moderate’ and a ‘classical liberal’. The latter means that he isn’t moderate, but believes in the classical economics of the 19th century: everything should be privatised, and there should be little or nothing in the way of a welfare state. And as an anti-feminist, Sargon is notorious for a Tweet he sent to the Labour MP, Jess Philips, when she was describing the rape and death threats she’d received via twitter, which said ‘I wouldn’t even rape you’.

Sargon launched his campaign at a big UKIP conference last week or so with his fellow internet rightist, Mark Meechan, aka Count Dankula, and current Kipperfuhrer Batten. Dankula is the man, who was convicted of spreading hate by making a video showing how he had taught his girlfriend’s pug to make the Nazi salute when he shouted ‘Gas the Jews’. It was not a pretty spectacle. In fact it was, as Star Trek’s Ferengi used to say, ‘Ugly. Very ugleee!’ Although it was supposed to be a press conference, Sargon started by attacking the press, boasting that their audiences were collapsing while he had a million subscribers. When asked about his notorious rape tweet by a female reporter from Sky News, Sargon got defensive and said that it wasn’t a rape threat. Which is disingenuous, as no-one said it was. What everyone found offensive was that it was directed at a woman, who had suffered rape. Kevin Logan, discussing the tweet and Sargon’s catastrophic press meeting with Dr. Kristi Winters, argued that his tweet was threatening, in that by including the word ‘even’ Sargon was suggesting that there were people, he did consider worth raping.

And everyone has picked up on that Tweet. Sargon has been massively pilloried for it in the mainstream press, with the Scum – of all papers! – describing him as a ‘sicko’. But this hasn’t deterred Sargon and his supporters from defending it. They try to wave it all off by saying that it all happened three years ago, and so it’s no longer relevant. But it is, as unlike the other politicos, who’ve been forced to apologise for ill-judged or malign comments, they’re still defending it and haven’t changed their views. In fact, the evening before the press conference Meechan and Sargon had held an event at which they talked about themselves. And Meechan told a joke that was arguably even worse. He was talking about how he had been poor at university. The were so poor, they couldn’t afford hook-ups, and so had to resort to rape. But it was worse for the women, who were also poor and always being raped. It’s the kind of joke which would have any other political party demanding an apology or considering suspending the politico involved. Not so UKIP, apparently. Back at the press conference, Sargon said he wasn’t going to answer any more questions from them, as they were ‘dirty, dirty smearers’. Which he then contradicted by immediately asking, ‘any questions?’

Sargon is also notorious for a post he put up on his YouTube channel in which he used a range of racial slurs against Blacks, Hispanics, Jews, gays and the mentally handicapped. The anti-racist/ anti-religious extremism organisation has dug it out, and yesterday put up a piece about this wretched video, including a transcript. The post was made in November 2015, and was titled ‘Offence Is Never Given, Retard’, but has since been pulled from YouTube for violating their community guidelines. Sargon’s video was a response to another piece trying to get people to stop using racial slurs. This featured a Black man, Hispanic woman, gay man, an Asian, a Jew and a woman with Down’s Syndrome, who come forward and say, ‘It’s not acceptable to call me – ‘ and then the racial or sexual slur, ‘n***er’, ‘Sp*c’, ‘f*g’, ‘k*ke’, ‘Ch*nk’ and ‘retard’. Sargon then protests against all this, and claims it’s perfectly acceptable to call Asians ‘ch*nks’ because they are more privileged than Whites. He then ends his video with a piece of text reading

DON’T LET THESE AUTHORITARIAN BUSYBODIES CONTROL YOU.

IT’S NOT UP TO YOU TO PROTECT THE FEELINGS OF OTHERS, IT IS FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL TO DO THAT FOR THEMSELVES.

AND IT CAN BE SO LIBERATING TO BE PURILE [sic] OCCASIONALLY.

GOD FORBID THESE STODGY BASTARDS OUTLAW OFFENDING PEOPLE.

Oh yes, and just to be really offensive he puts up in front of the Black man the title of a notoriously offensive Danish movie, Gay N*ggers from Space.

The piece by Hope Not Hate also states that Benjamin’s cameraman, Michael Brooks, is another rightist, who has described himself as ’14 and 88′, a far right code mixing ‘Heil Hitler’ with the notorious ’14 words. He has contributed to various far right sites, and once posted a graph showing how the birthrate in Africa was outstripping that in Europe with the phrase, ‘Planet of the Apes is coming’. Brooks appeared alongside Sargon at another Brexit rally organised by UKIP and the Islamophobe Tommy Robinson.

UKIP Euro Candidate’s Vile Racial Slur-Ridden Rant

And this week Sargon kicked off his campaign in his home town of Swindon. He arranged to meet his public by the fountain, before moving to the pub, which he considered to be a more comfortable environment. He showed his characteristic lack of punctuality by turning up half an hour late. No-one from the mainstream media bother to be in attendance, and even the reporter from the Swindon Advertiser packed it in and went off after a while. Which doesn’t bode well for Sargon’s media coverage. Not that he can really complain – he deliberately baited them at the UKIP press conference, expecting to be able to pick up votes online. Kevin Logan pointed out that what he doesn’t seem to understand is that of his million subscribers, many are abroad and so can’t vote for him, while those in Britain are spread all over the country, so that there may be very few of his supporters in the southwest. Which means that the number of people, who know who he is, yet alone intend to vote for him, may be very small. He did turn up in Bristol on Wednesday, where he had a small gathering, but the UKIP rally was vastly overshadowed by Change UK’s.

See Kevin Logan’s and Kristi Winter’s video discussing Sargon’s campaign at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOd0KMVJDBQ&t=7193s This is two and three-quarters of an hour long, but the last 50 minutes or so are about an incident in America where the racist YouTuber Andy Warski was threatened with violence for his stupid antics.

Also, as Zelo Street has pointed out, Aubrey Attwater, the chairman of UKIP’s Swindon branch, has also demanded Sargon’s deselection because of his rape tweet. See https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/04/carl-benjamin-forgotten-already.html

Sargon is proud of having appeared at the European parliament supporting UKIP, but this looks like it’s going to be the high point of his career. With antagonism, hostility and apathy from the press and his own local party, and more general outrage from the rest of the population at his racism, misogyny and bigotry, hopefully Sargon’s hopes to be an MEP are doomed to failure.

Reviewing the ‘I’s’ Review of Ian McEwan’s ‘Machines Like Me’

April 21, 2019

George Barr’s cover illo for Lloyd Biggle’s The Metallic Muse. From David Kyle, the Illustrated Book of Science Fiction Ideas & Dreams (London: Hamlyn 1977).

The book’s pages of last Friday’s I , for 19th April 2019, carried a review by Jude Cook of Ian McEwan’s latest literary offering, a tale of a love triangle between a man, the male robot he has purchased, and his wife, a plot summed up in the review’s title, ‘Boy meets robot, robot falls for girl’. I’d already written a piece in anticipation of its publication on Thursday, based on a little snippet in Private Eye’s literary column that McEwan, Jeanette Winterson and Kazuo Ishiguro were all now turning to robots and AI for their subject matter, and the Eye expected other literary authors, like Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie, to follow. My objection to this is that it appeared to be another instance of the literary elite taking their ideas from Science Fiction, while looking down on the genre and its writers. The literary establishment has moved on considerably, but I can still remember the late, and very talented Terry Pratchett complaining at the Cheltenham Literary Festival that the organisers had looked at him as if he was about to talk to all his waiting fans crammed into the room about motorcycle maintenance.

Cook’s review gave an outline of the plot and some of the philosophical issues discussed in the novel. Like the Eye’s piece, it also noted the plot’s similarity to that of the Channel 4 series, Humans. The book is set in an alternative 1982 in which the Beatles are still around and recording, Tony Benn is Prime Minister, but Britain has lost the Falklands War. It’s a world where Alan Turing is still alive, and has perfected machine consciousness. The book’s hero, Charlie, purchases one of the only 25 androids that have been manufactured, Adam. This is not a sex robot, but described as ‘capable of sex’, and which has an affair with the hero’s wife, Miranda. Adam is an increasing threat to Charlie, refusing to all his master to power him down. There’s also a subplot about a criminal coming forward to avenge the rape Miranda has suffered in the past, and a four year old boy about to be placed in the care system.

Cook states that McEwan discusses the philosophical issue of the Cartesian duality between mind and brain when Charlie makes contact with Turing, and that Charlie has to decide whether Adam is too dangerous to be allowed to continue among his flesh and blood counterparts, because

A Manichean machine-mind that can’t distinguish between a white lie and a harmful lie, or understand that revenge can sometimes be justified, is potentially lethal.

Cook declares that while this passage threatens to turn the book into a dry cerebral exercise, its engagement with the big questions is its strength, concluding

The novel’s presiding Prospero is Turing himself, who observes that AI is fatally flawed because life is “an open system… full of tricks and feints and ambiguities”. His great hope is that by its existence “we might be shocked in doing something about ourselves.”

Robots and the Edisonade

It’s an interesting review, but what it does not do is mention the vast amount of genre Science Fiction that has used robots to explore the human condition, the limits or otherwise of machine intelligence and the relationship between such machines and their creators, since Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. There clearly seems to be a nod to Shelley with the name of this android, as the monster in her work, I think, is also called Adam. But Eando Binder – the nom de plume of the brothers Earl and Otto Binder, also wrote a series of stories in the 1930s and ’40s about a robot, Adam Link, one of which was entitled I, Robot, which was later used as the title of one of Asimov’s stories. And although the term ‘robot’ was first used of such machines by the Czech writer Karel Capek in his 1920s play, RUR, or Rossum’s Universal Robots, they first appeared in the 19th century. One of these was Villier de l’Isle-Adam, L’Eve Futur of 1884. This was about a robot woman invented by Thomas Edison. As one of the 19th centuries foremost inventors, Edison was the subject of a series of proto-SF novels, the Edisonades, in which his genius allowed him to create all manner of advanced machines. In another such tale, Edison invents a spaceship and weapons that allow humanity to travel to the planets and conquer Mars. McEwan’s book with its inclusion of Alan Turing is basically a modern Edisonade, but with the great computer pioneer rather than the 19th century electrician as its presiding scientific genius. Possibly later generations will have novels set in an alternative late 20th century where Stephen Hawking has invented warp drive, time travel or a device to take us into alternative realities via artificial Black Holes.

Robot Romances

As I said in my original article, there are any number of SF books about humans having affairs with robots, like Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover, Lester del Rey’s Helen O’Loy and Asimov’s Satisfaction Guaranteed. The genre literature has also explored the moral and philosophical issues raised by the creation of intelligent machines. In much of this literature, robots are a threat, eventually turning on their masters, from Capek’s R.U.R. through to The Terminator and beyond. But some writers, like Asimov, have had a more optimistic view. In his 1950 I, Robot, a robot psychologist, Dr. Susan Calvin, describes them in a news interview as ‘a cleaner, better breed than we are’.

Lem’s Robots and Descartes

As for the philosophical issues, the Polish SF writer, Stanislaw Lem, explored them in some of his novels and short stories. One of these deals with the old problem, also dating back to Descartes, about whether we can truly know that there is an external world. The story’s hero, the space pilot Pirx, visits a leading cybernetician in his laboratory. This scientist has developed a series of computer minds. These exist, however, without robot bodies, but the minds themselves are being fed programmes which make them believe that they are real, embodied people living in the real world. One of these minds is of a beautiful woman with a scar on her shoulder from a previous love affair. Sometimes the recorded programmes jump a groove, creating instances of precognition or deja vu. But ultimately, all these minds are, no matter how human or how how real they believe themselves to be, are brains in vats. Just like Descartes speculated that a demon could stop people from believing in a real world by casting the illusion of a completely false one on the person they’ve possessed.

Morality and Tragedy in The ABC Warriors 

Some of these complex moral and personal issues have also been explored by comics, until recently viewed as one of the lowest forms of literature. In a 1980s ‘ABC Warriors’ story in 2000AD, Hammerstein, the leader of a band of heroic robot soldiers, remembers his earliest days. He was the third prototype of a series of robot soldiers. The first was an efficient killer, patriotically killing Communists, but exceeded its function. It couldn’t tell civilians from combatants, and so committed war crimes. The next was programmed with a set of morals, which causes it to become a pacifist. It is killed trying to persuade the enemy – the Volgans – to lay down their arms. Hammerstein is its successor. He has been given morals, but not to the depth that they impinge on his ability to kill. For example, enemy soldiers are ‘terrorists’. But those on our side are ‘freedom fighters’. When the enemy murders civilians, it’s an atrocity. When we kill civilians, it’s unavoidable casualties. As you can see, the writer and creator of the strip, Pat Mills, has very strong left-wing opinions.

Hammerstein’s programming is in conflict, so his female programmer takes him to a male robot psychiatrist, a man who definitely has romantic intentions towards her. They try to get Hammerstein to come out of his catatonic reverie by trying to provoke a genuine emotional reaction. So he’s exposed to all manner of stimuli, including great works of classical music, a documentary about Belsen, and the novels of Barbara Cartland. But the breakthrough finally comes when the psychiatrist tries to kiss his programmer. This provokes Hammerstein into a frenzied attack, in which he accidentally kills both. Trying to repair the damage he’s done, Hammerstein says plaintively ‘I tried to replace his head, but it wouldn’t screw back on.’

It’s a genuinely adult tale within the overall, action-oriented story in which the robots are sent to prevent a demon from Earth’s far future from destroying the Galaxy by destabilising the artificial Black and White Holes at the centre of Earth’s underground civilisation, which have been constructed as express routes to the stars. It’s an example of how the comics culture of the time was becoming more adult, and tackling rather more sophisticated themes.

Conclusion: Give Genre Authors Their Place at Literary Fiction Awards

It might seem a bit mean-spirited to compare McEwan’s latest book to its genre predecessors. After all, in most reviews of fiction all that is required is a brief description of the plot and the reviewer’s own feelings about the work, whether it’s done well or badly. But there is a point to this. As I’ve said, McEwan, Winterson, Ishiguro and the others, who may well follow their lead, are literary authors, whose work regularly wins the big literary prizes. They’re not genre authors, and the type of novels they write are arguably seen by the literary establishment as superior to that of genre Science Fiction. But here they’re taking over proper Science Fiction subjects – robots and parallel worlds – whose authors have extensively explored their moral and philosophical implications. This is a literature that can’t and shouldn’t be dismissed as trash, as Stanislaw Lem has done, and which the judges and critics of mainstream literary fiction still seem to do. McEwan’s work deserves to be put into the context of genre Science Fiction. The literary community may feel that it’s somehow superior, but it is very much of the same type as its genre predecessors, who did the themes first and, in my opinion, better.

There is absolutely no reason, given the quality of much SF literature, why this tale by McEwan should be entered for a literary award or reviewed by the kind of literary journals that wouldn’t touch genre science fiction with a barge pole, while genre SF writers are excluded. It’s high time that highbrow literary culture recognised and accepted works and writers of genre SF as equally worthy of respect and inclusion.

Private Eye: Literary Authors Now Turning to SF’s Robots for Subject Matter

April 17, 2019

According to this fortnight’s Private Eye, the British literary authors Ian McEwan, Jeanette Winterson and Kazuo Ishiguro are turning to the world of robots and AI for their next books. A brief snippet on page 34 of the issue for 19th April – 2nd May 2019 runs

For middle-aged authors looking for a reboot, the trendiness of artificial intelligence and robots is proving a godsend.

In Ian McEwan’s just-out Machines Like Me, a couple acquire a male synthetic human and a love triangle duly develops ( a set-up quite similar to the main storyline of Channel 4’s sci-fi drama Humans, with the robot’s gender switched).

In her forthcoming Frankissstein, Jeanette Winterson – unfazed by having missed last year’s Frankenstein anniversary – reworks Mary Shelley’s novel in a story featuring not only Victor Stein, a professor “leading the debate around AI”, but also a character who sells sex bots. Kazuo Ishiguro told the Oxford literary festival his next book will be about AI too… Who else? Rushdie? Amis? Jeffrey Archer? 

One of the complaints of the SF world back in the 1990s was that literary fiction, and writers like McEwan, Rushdie, Amis, Winterson and the rest of them were lifting ideas from Science Fiction to great critical acclaim, while the genre itself remained despised by literary critics and prizes. This seems to be yet another example.

Not all serious literary critics are dismissive of Science Fiction. The late J.G. Ballard and Ursula Le Guine managed to achieve mainstream critical appreciation, and some of the newspapers do give good review to SF books, like the Guardian and the I. And the years have passed since I heard the late Terry Pratchett speak at the Cheltenham Festival of Literary, telling the crowd that the Festival’s organisers seemed to look at him as if they expected him to give a talk on mending motorbikes. Brian Aldiss in his and Peter Wingrove’s history of SF, The Trillion  Year Spree, states that in the 1950s even pornography had a higher reputation among critics than Science Fiction. More recent critics and historians of the genre have pointed out that there never was quite the severe break between proper literature and Science Fiction in Britain as there was in America. Serious literary writers like Kingsley Amis and Anthony Burgess also wrote Science Fiction, as did C.S. Lewis and Conan Doyle. Nevertheless, I still get the impression that there is in certain literary quarters more than a little of the old literary disdain still remaining. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is dystopian Science Fiction, but she has still sneered at the genre as ‘talking squids in space’ apparently.

And looking at the plots of some of the books mentioned in the Eye article, I wondered how many of the literary types reading these pieces would be aware of similar works by some of the great genre SF writers. If you’re talking about romances between humans and robots, there’s Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover, about a girl who has an affair with a robot, which is destroyed by jealous human males.  The robot scientist, Geoff Simons, mentions a series of SF tales about romances between people and robots, or the construction of sex robots, in his book Robots: The Quest for Living Machines (London: Cassell 1992) including Satisfaction Guaranteed (1951), by Isaac Asimov; Maria Bujanska’s Krwawa Maria (Bloody Mary), 1977, R. Forsyth’s ‘Silicon Valley of the Dolls’, 1979; The Pleasure Machines (1969); Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives (1974) and such as Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966) and Sins of the Fleshapoids.

As for Frankenstein, Brian Aldiss has argued that Mary Shelley’s classic should be regarded as the first real work of Science Fiction, as it was based on genuine science, as it was understood in the early 19th century. He also wrote a book inspired by Shelley, Frankenstein Unbound, which is split between Shelley’s time and a technological future. It was later filmed by the old producer of low-budget SF, Roger Corman.

Winterson has previous in taking themes from science/ science fiction. Way back in the 1990s, when everyone was getting very excited at discovering a Grand Unified Theory (GUT) or ‘theory of everything’, she wrote a book, GUT Symmetries, about it and parallel world. She’s also written novels of feminist Magic Realism, following the feminist fairy tales of Angela Carter. But the Polish author, Stanislaw Lem, who wrote Solaris, filmed by Andrei Tarkovsky, also wrote a series of tales about robots, The Cyberiad and Mortal Engines, set in a fairy tale universe in which robots were the dominant life form. Another of Lem’s books is a series of philosophical explorations of machine and human intelligence and nature from the point of view of a vast computer that has far surpassed the intellects of its human makers. Lem was a high-brow author, who, after winning various awards from the Science Fiction community, then went on to decry Science Fiction, so he personally shared the sneering view of some mainstream literary critics. However, his books are still well worth reading.

And any literary exploration of robots, AI and the human condition inevitably involves Asimov’s robots of the books I, Robot and the Caves of Steel, and his Three Laws of Robotics, as well as William Gibson and Cyberpunk. Cyberpunk’s a form of SF set in dystopian near futures, where humans are able to ‘jack into’ cyberspace, a Virtual Reality inside the Web, and where AIs have consciousness and some rights. The classics of this genre include Gibson’s Neuromancer, Count Zero, Burning Chrome and Mona Lisa Overdrive.  One of his novels, relevant to any literary discussion of humans and AI, was Idoru, about a man, who has an affair with a Virtual celebrity. Gibson was very hip with his worlds of urban decay and high-tech criminality mixed with the glamour of the super-rich and celebrities. Shortly after Idoru was published, one of the Japanese tech firms declared they had created the first, computer-generated rock star. There was a powerful impression, shared by Gibson himself, that the computer industry looked to his books for ideas without accepting that his books were also part of SF’s tradition of ‘literature as warning’. His futures had great AIs and cool Virtual Reality and hackers, but they also featured poverty, despair and a massive gap between rich and poor.

And then there’s the film Bladerunner, one of the great SF classics, and the problems it poses about humanity and human capacity for compassion within the narrative of the detective thriller. It’s another dystopian future, where animals are all but extinct and humanity has created a class of artificial slaves, replicants. These are indistinguishable from real humans, except through psychological testing. The final speech by the replicant leader, Roy Batty, ‘I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Set ships on fire off the shores of Orion’, written by actor Rutger Hauer, has itself become one of the classic speeches of cinema, and quoted and parodied by other SF writers.

In my opinion, whatever McEwan, Winterson and Ishiguro write about robots, genre writers will have got their first and done it better. And I wonder if the literary critics and award judges will recognise that when these books inevitably get put in for the Booker and other literary awards. And I also feel that when they are, these awards should be open to self-conscious genre writers. Because if the literary crowd can write about robots and win literary prizes for them, it’s only going to be snobbishness that keeps the genre SF writers from winning them too.  

The Israel Lobby’s Racist Persecution of Jackie Walker

April 1, 2019

Both Jewish Voice for Labour and Jackie Walker herself have issued statements following her mistrial by the Party at a grotesque kangaroo court and subsequent expulsion. The veteran anti-racism campaigner was targeted by the Israel lobby because of her support for the Palestinians against Israeli state oppression and ethnic cleansing and because she was a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn.

So they smeared her as an anti-Semite, first using a sloppily-worded statement in a private internet discussion she was having with two other colleagues in which she said that her ancestors – the Jews – were the chief financiers of the slave trade. She should have said ‘among the chief financiers of the slave trade’. Walker is an educator and historian, and she is able to back up her contention with entirely reputable scholarship by mainstream Jewish historians. But the poor wording of her statement allowed them to put her together in the public’s eyes with real anti-Semites like the head of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan. Farrakhan believes that the slave trade was run by the Jews. It wasn’t, and his statements that it was are total nonsense. But this was how the CAA, who looked through her internet history, were able to present her. This was the cause of her first suspension.

She was then suspended again after the Zionist frauds of the Jewish Labour Movement secretly recorded her at a workshop on the proper commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day questioning their definition of anti-Semitism and what she perceived as the Day’s exclusive focus on the Jewish experience. She felt that every people, who had suffered similar genocide, like Blacks, should be included. Now this is a part of Holocaust Memorial Day, but for making these comments she was again smeared as an anti-Semite. The Labour Party knew that couldn’t stick, and so changed the charge to one of ‘behaviour against the Party’. Or something like that. This charge could have come straight out of Stalin’s Soviet Union, where anyone who did anything Stalin and his fellow despots didn’t like was accused of ‘anti-party activities’. It was a charge the inmates of gulags sent up by referring to it instead as ‘anti-party farting’. Her hearing last week was so grotesque that she walked, and was subsequently found guilty of the above anti-Stalin flatulence and expelled.

The JVL’s statement condemning this travesty, posted on 27th March 2019, begins

The decision to expel Jackie Walker from membership, and the whole process leading up to this shameful conclusion, are a travesty of justice.

The Party has enabled a process in which a principled and fearless member has been persecuted by violation of trust, by media campaign, through bullying by senior members within the party, and by a seriously flawed process which has allowed racist commentary on her person to form part of the charge against her.

It goes on to state that she is not the only person to be treated like this, and ask why the people with access to the mass media haven’t been reined in and themselves charged with bringing the party into disrepute. They state that it doesn’t bring the party into disrepute to challenge a deeply flawed definition of anti-Semitism, nor call the party to live up to its reputation by condemning all racisms and all holocausts. What does bring it into disrepute is the suppression of free speech in order to appease the powerful. They conclude that they believe it will not be long before the Party is ashamed of this episode in its history.

https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/blog/jackie-walker-expelled-a-shameful-passage-in-labour-history/

Absolutely.

Jackie and her legal team have issued a statement explaining why she walked out of the Party’s kangaroo court, describing the background to the case, and then dealing with individual points about her prosecution. These are

  1. The Labour Party’s submission on what constitutes anti-Semitism.
  2. The Party’s reliance on racist statement to prosecute her.
  3. Other racist statements against her.
  4. Her hearing was a secret court.
  5. It was at a secret venue.
  6. They failed to put the intended charges to her.
  7. The lack or loss of investigatory records.
  8. A late submission of evidence by the Party.
  9. Prejudicial statements by Labour MPs.

This is followed by her own explanation of why she walked out.

Much of this is very similar to how others, like Mike, have been mistreated by a court determined to find them guilty whatever the evidence.

One of the most disgusting features of what is overall a colossally prejudiced and contrived miscarriage of justice are points 2 and 3 – the racist character of the statements used to prosecute her and then victimise her. These need to be quoted in full, with Walker’s own words, to show how grotesque and revolting they are. This contains extremely strong language, which I am not going to blank out as I believe the impact of such vile language should not be blunted in this case. Jackie and her legal team write

2. LP relies on racist statements to prosecute me

It is beyond any sense of fair process that in prosecuting me for antisemitism for my asking a training session for a definition of antisemitism in September 2016, that the LP, astonishingly, has submitted racist and discriminatory statements made about my colour, gender, appearance, ethnicity and heritage, to support its misconceived case against me.

The LP relies on anonymous witnesses who have written:

“[JW is] a white middle-aged woman with dreadlocks”

“Walker- who claims to be part Jewish”

And also on the written witness evidence of Mike Katz who states:

“… JW uses her self-identification as a black woman and a Jew as cover to put her beyond criticism…”

There is no conceivable place in a fair disciplinary process for such statements to be allowed in evidence.

As a black person I have long campaigned for the proper recognition and memorialisation of those who died and suffered during the shameful period of the slave trade.  During the training session I was making the point that it would be fitting to include the victims of the slave trade as well as other pre-Nazi genocides in the Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations.  In prosecuting me for raising that comment, again astonishingly, the LP relies on an anonymous witness who writes:

​“I am not at all happy regarding her obsession with African genocide and the holocaust”

I have repeatedly asked those conducting my disciplinary process for anonymous and racist evidence to be removed from the evidence presented by the LP.  My applications have not been agreed.

That is unfair.

I applied to the Panel to adjourn my case to allow the reliance on racist material by the LP to be referred to the Equality and Human Rights Commission for investigation. My application was rejected.

That is unfair.

3. Other racist and threatening remarks 

I have been subjected to threatening, racist and abusive remarks throughout the time I have had to wait for the LP to carry out its disciplinary process. Some examples of the material sent to me have included:

“Jackie Walker is as Jewish as a pork pie, stop harassing Jews you fucking Nazi scum”

“Jackie Walker and her defenders can go hang”

“Jackie Walker’s Jewishness is a hastily constructed identity to protect her from the backlash of her antisemitic comments”

“Her father whom she barely knew apparently was Jewish so she isn’t Jewish…nothing to do with her colour”

“We should send people like you to the fucking gas chamber! Palestine does not exist, nor did it ever exist. Israel has been a Jewish homeland for 3,000 years! Moron”

“Was that thundercunt referring to you wanting to see Corbyn shove Jackie Walker into a burning bin? You didn’t mention ethnicity”

“God, what a fucking anti-Semite black Jewish working class female Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker is! Can’t think why Labour want rid”

The above examples were submitted by me as part of my documents in the disciplinary process yet the Panel hearing my case still did not allow my application to remove racist and discriminatory evidence being relied on by the LP.

That is unfair.

See: https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/blog/why-jackie-walker-has-withdrawn-from-lp-disciplinary-hearing/

Some of these statements, and further abusive material sent to Jackie, can be found in the JVL article Jackie Walker – Abused and Vilified, posted on 11th February 2019. This reproduces the actual Tweets themselves, complete with the identities of the people who sent these disgusting texts.

See: https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/blog/jackie-walker-abused-and-vilified/

From this it seems that the members of the Israel lobby and Labour Right, who brought this prosecution, were partly motivated by sheer anti-Black racism. They did and do not believe that a Black woman can really be Jewish. This is belied by the facts. There are clearly Black Jews. The Jon Pullman documentary, Witchhunt, about her persecution, features comments by an American professor of Afro-Jewish history. Sammy Davis Jnr, the Hollywood legend, was a Black Jew. There have been communities of Black Jews in Ethiopia for thousands of years, and the strong influence of the Hebrew Bible in Ethiopian Christianity has led some scholars to suggest that the country was originally Jewish before King Ezana converted it to Christianity in the fourth century. There is also an indigenous Jewish community in India. I don’t know, but I would also imagine that they were not White either, but share the same Asian physical appearance as other Indians.

Racism seems to be a large part of mindset of certain Zionists and their promoters and defenders in this country. Karl Sabbagh’s book, The Anti-Semitism Wars, has an appendix of racist quotes by prominent Zionists about non-Jews. And Mike found when the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism were accusing him of anti-Semitism, because he defended Ken Livingstone, when they found he was calmly refuting them they turned to sneering at him as a gentile instead. They are also profoundly racist towards Jewish opponents of Israeli apartheid. Tony Greenstein and Martin Odoni have described how they’ve been vilified as ‘Kapos’ and worse. Greenstein has even been told by one irate man that he wished he and his family had died in the Holocaust. The vilification inflicted on Jewish critics of Israel is such that it would automatically be condemned as anti-Semitic if it came from a non-Jew.

It is not Jackie Walker and the other innocent victims of the witchhunt, who are racists and anti-Semites. The racism and anti-Semitic verbiage comes from the Israel lobby and its allies, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and Jewish Labour Movement, and embraced and supported by the Conservatives and Conservative Jewish organisations like the highly unrepresentative Board of Deputies of British Jews.

The media has also extensively covered the genuine anti-Semitic abuse sent to right-wing members of the Labour Party like Luciana Berger. But they are absolutely silent when it comes to the anti-Semitic abuse sent to genuinely left-wing Jews, and the anti-Black racial abuse sent to Jackie. And I’ve seen nothing about the racist abuse sent by the CAA against Mike, despite the fact that he handed a dossier of it over to the police.

The Israel lobby and its allies in the media are a disgrace. Not only are they themselves deeply racist, they stoke racism against their opponents as part of their campaign of intimidation against them. And by remaining silent about it the right-wing media in their turn are utterly complicit. It is they, who should face investigation, trial and prosecution, not decent, privileged anti-racist people like Jackie, Mike, Martin, Tony and the others, who genuinely despise anti-Semitism and Fascism.

Jackie Walker on the Abuse of Anti-Semitism to Silence Israel’s Critics

March 25, 2019

This is the second video put up on YouTube in March 2017 by Brighton and Hove Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement. In this first, Tony Greenstein, the veteran Jewish anti-racism and anti-Zionism activist, spoke about how false accusations of anti-Semitism were used by the Israel lobby to defend the indefensible – Israel’s brutal maltreatment of the Palestinians. In this video another great anti-racism activist, Jackie Walker, continues the theme.

Targeting Walker and Jeremy Corbyn

She begins by introducing herself as a life-long anti-racist activist, teacher, trainer and writer, and that as a young woman she was involved with SWAPO, the anti-apartheid movement in Namibia, and went on from that as a natural progression to supporting the Palestinians and criticism of Israel. She states that it is very clear from watching documentaries like the al-Jazeera film, the Lobby, that the reason her posts were so delved into and organisations like the Jewish Chronicle and the Jewish Labour Movement had such an attraction for her is because they target anyone, who is any way prominent (as a critic of Israel). She states that she’s only a minor figure, as Tony Greenstein keeps reminding her, but he’s right. And this shows the level of paranoia and resources that is going into the campaign against activists like her.

She says it’s no coincidence that they had no problem with anti-Semitism in the Labour Party until Jeremy Corbyn, one of the best-known anti-racists on the left, became leader of the Party. Can you imagine what happened in Tel Aviv, she asks the audience. She states that she will get into trouble for saying it, so she’ll say it again: accusations of anti-Semitism have become weaponised. It’s a weapon that doesn’t just affect individuals like her, but affects communities, families, Labour parties, and people who support the struggle to have better human rights. She states that she doesn’t have a problem with those on the Right and Zionists. They’re just doing their jobs. They’re our enemies. Her problem is with people, who are supposedly on the Left, who are actually undermining the campaign for justice in Palestine all the time.

The Alt-Right and Zionism

The reason Israel has put millions of pounds into undermining the BDS is not for no reason. It is a recognition of the fact that what’s happening in Gaza is being steadily raised. And as it is, we see this strange thing happening with international leaders who seem to be getting closer and closer to Israel. We see it in particular in America. And most people find that link between the Alt Right and support for Zionism very strange. But as an anti-racism campaigner, it makes total sense to her. All nationalist ideologies have more in common than things that separate them. Trump can speak a language that the Chair of the Board of Deputies of British Jews can understand, particularly when he supports Jewish settlements, or even now beginning to lay the groundwork for suggesting that the two-state solution is dead. And this plain-speaking at last may be a good thing. She thinks that for most of them this might clear the ground, as the establishment of Jewish settlements has shown that the two-state solution is unworkable. She says that as someone, who has relatives living in the settlements in Israel. ‘And let me tell you’, she states, ‘there’s no way those people are leaving’.

BDS a ‘Strategic Threat’ to Jews

Netanyahu has branded the BDS movement and people like them ‘a strategic threat’. They’re up there with Iran’s nuclear weapons, Hamas and no doubt a few other enemies of Israel. She finds it extraordinary that she, at the age of 63 and a grandmother of three, is up there with Hamas. It’s even more crazy in that the Wiesenthal Centre, who compile a list of the top ten threats to Jews in the world included Jeremy Corbyn and her at No. 2.  Yes, she’s the No. 2 threat to Jews, not Hamas. This is why the campaign against them is led by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and why they’re really gearing up on it. She makes it clear that it is not easy thing for her to resist what’s happening to her. She’s making light of it, but it’s destroyed her life, because she’s become that crazy woman who won’t be silent about the injustice she sees, or be bullied by them. She won’t allow people, who tell her that they want to see her put in a plastic bin and burnt, or put in a concentration camp, or call her any of the names they want to, silence her. And one of the reasons is that she has had racial abuse as a Black person for 63 years, and she’s got to that point you do when you get older when you can’t be a***ed any more. But she no longer has a job or young children to look after. She’s told her adult children to come off twitter so they don’t see what’s being said about their mother. She then tells the story about how she shared a platform in Norwich with a young teacher, who had the temerity to read out a poem that his children had written about children in Palestine. This man almost lost his job due to the wave of criticism that was sent to his headmaster. Every single time she goes to a meeting there are attempts to shut it down. This is even to the point that they had a security officer come into the middle of the room, as someone had said that there was a rabid racist speaking and it was going to cause trouble. This was one of the nicer techniques they use, along with the new definition of anti-Semitism, which makes it more difficult for people to speak out. This is what is happening to free speech.

The Left Particularly Under Attack

She goes on to address those of the audience, who are in the Labour Party, mentioning that she’s on her second suspension, and who think this is just a fringe problem. She asks them to think about, because it is people on the Left, who are being picked off, attacked and gagged. She is sure that had she gone quietly, they’d leave her alone. But she won’t go quietly, and there are things that are going to happen which people should look out for. Addressing the audience again, she says that those of them, who saw the film the Lobby will have seen the involvement of the Jewish Labour Movement. The Jewish Labour Movement have an affiliation with the Labour party for historical reasons, and are actively lobbying for all the changes that will come in at Conference this year. This will mean that any kind of criticism of Israel will become such a hot potato that it will become very hard to discuss it in the Constituency Labour Parties.

The Jewish Chronicle and the Other Papers

She goes on to make the point that her second suspension wasn’t for anti-Semitism, although she knows that the papers said it was. They lie. They lie in a very interesting way. She doesn’t think it’s a conspiracy, but what happens is that the Jewish Chronicle  gets a story, runs it, and the other newspapers then run the same story. But they don’t come back to you to question it. They run exactly the same story. She also says, in reply to those, who’ve asked her why she hasn’t sued them, it’s because she’s not a millionaire. According to her lawyers it would cost half a million pounds to run something because of the type of case it would be, so if people would give her the money, she would be quite happy to run a case of defamation both against the Jewish Chronicle and the Board of Deputies. 

The JLM and the Labour Party

JLM are very much building up their position within the Labour party. She points out that you don’t actually have to be Jewish to be a member, and may be what needs to happen is that ‘you lot’, meaning the audience, should all join the JLM. And so there’s a question about the validity about the JLM being the voice of Jews. But what the JLM is, is a very effective voice of the Right. As such they now have a position on the NEC, and a position on the Equalities Subcommittee. That means that when people like herself and Greenstein are being suspended for being racist – because that’s all anti-Semitism is, there’s nothing special about anti-Semitism, it’s just racism, and every racism has its particularity – they’ll come up with their own ideas about what anti-Semitism is. She states that she would like to ask the Labour party, and has asked the Labour party about it, and it would be interesting to see their answer, that she was suspended the second time for comments she made at a training session. She asks the labour party if they have investigated who leaked that to the press, because it was during the Labour party conference and you couldn’t get in unless you were a party member. She has suggested that the person who brought the Labour party into disrepute was the person, who leaked that tape. There are also people, who think they know what that person was. But she hasn’t had a reply on that at all.

She concludes by telling her audience to keep their ears out, it’s an ongoing situation, they’re here in a struggle, they’re up against extraordinary forces, and she promises that, as insignificant as she is, so long as she can keep annoying them, she will keep buzzing.

Walker and Greenstein’s experience of being vilified, smeared and abused as anti-Semites is typical of those of the many other decent members of the Labour party, who’ve also been libeled as anti-Semites. And they’re also stymied in their campaigns to clear their name because of the huge expenses of the British judicial system. Jenny Randles, a UFO investigator, who was smeared with a different accusation connected with the world of UFOs, declared that the British legal system considers you guilty until declared rich, which aptly describes the situation. Mike and Tony Greenstein, however, have been helped by being able to start a crowdfunding appeal on the internet. But even so, considerable obstacles have been placed in their way of ever obtaining justice.

Walker’s revelation that, according to the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, she and Corbyn are the number two threat to Jews around the world just shows how skewed and perverted the Zionist worldview is. That they consider two anti-racist older people, one of whom is a Jewish granny, a major threat to Jews above Hamas and many other explicitly anti-Semitic groups, is a twisted obscenity. I can remember the various documentaries celebrating Simon Wiesenthal when I was growing up. He was a Nazi hunter, and rightly admired and celebrated for bring people, who had perpetrated the most horrific crimes against humanity to justice. For the Wiesenthal Centre to mix entirely decent people like Walker and Corbyn in with real Nazis devalues Wiesenthal’s work, and should discredit the Centre itself.

And the various nationalisms certainly do have more in common with each other than differences. It’s why Alt Right figures like Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, Milo Yiannopolis and the islamophobe Tommy Robinson have been welcomed in Israel. In fact the founder of the Alt Right has declared himself to be a ‘White Zionist’, and wants to create a White ethnostate in America the same as Israel is an ethnostate for Jews. Zionism is simply another form of racial nationalism, and so their enemies aren’t those on the extreme Right so much as the real anti-racists, and opponents of anti-Semitism, like Greenstein, Walker, Martin Odoni, Mike, Ken Livingstone and so many others. The Right has a near monopoly of the press, and even left-wing newspapers like the Guardian and the Mirror repeat the anti-Semitism lies and smears.

But the truth is coming out through the internet, and the more the establishment lies, the more people are increasingly seeing through them. And I hope this process goes on, until the press and the Israel lobby is completely discredited, and the reputations of those they have smeared vindicated and restored. 

 

 

The Rights’ Conflation of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Capitalism and the Erasure of Left-Wing Jewish History

March 19, 2019

Just as the Jewish Chronicle may have itself been guilty of anti-Semitism by denying that one of the signatories to the letter of support for Corbyn and the Labour party sent to the Sunday Times, so other members of the right may also be aiding anti-Semitism by their repeated use of the conspiracy theory that the Jews are the real force behind capitalism.

Three days ago, on 16th March 2019, David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialist Group, an ardent campaigner himself against racism, anti-Semitism and thus Zionism, put up on his blog an article discussing this very point, which had been published that day in the Morning Star. He began by commenting on the statement by Blairite Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh to John Humphrys on Radio 4 that ‘anti-capitalist politics are at the root of anti-Semitism’. Rosenberg states that it’s an appalling slur against everyone fighting against the poverty and inequality of Tory Britain, but it also revealed that the Right, even those, who think they are pro-Jewish, still believe anti-Semitic stereotypes, as McDonagh obviously thinks that Jews are rich capitalists.

He goes on to discuss how this is at the heart of the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that sees the Jews as using their wealth to control the banks and governments. A theory that was pushed by Henry Ford, an Episcopalian Christian and founder of the car manufacturer that bears his name, in his paper the Dearborn Independent. Ford believed that the Jews caused World War I, and published the infamous Tsarist forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And someone else who believed this poisonous nonsense, and was Ford’s biggest fan in Europe, was one A. Hitler.

Rosenberg goes on to discuss how there are Jews, who identify the Jewish community with capitalism, banking and property and so accuse the anti-capitalist left as anti-Semites. He then cites Richard Mather, who claimed in an article in the Jerusalem Post that ‘the Labour party’s call for the seizure of property’ was part of ‘anti-Semitic class warfare’, and pieces written by the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard, and one of his journos, Alex Brummer, who both claimed that Corbyn was an anti-Semitic threat to Jewish capitalists, with Pollard harking back to Corbyn’s attack on the bankers that caused the financial crash ten years ago. Rosenberg tweeted in response to this nonsense that of Pollard and Corbyn, one of them thought all bankers were Jews. And it wasn’t Corbyn.

Rosenberg goes on to say that

In my 61 years I’ve never met a Jewish banker. I’ve met unemployed Jews, Jewish decorators, post-office workers, van drivers, taxi drivers, shopworkers, social workers, secretaries, teachers, pharmacists, and several comedians.

He reinforces this point by describing how Arnold Brown, a Jewish comedian, who came from a poor background in Glasgow, tore up the floorboards at his home one day after the other schoolkids told him that all Jews were rich. He also makes the point that the racist Right use the stereotype of the rich Jewish capitalist to divert popular anger away from capitalism to particular Jewish figures, who are supposed to be responsible for its ills, such as Rothschild and Goldman Sachs to George Soros today, demonised by Trump and a slew of extreme right-wing regimes because he funds agencies for migrants and refugees and anti-government demonstrations.

But he also makes the point that this stereotype also erases the strong history of Jewish left-wing anti-capitalist activism, writing

When McDonagh, Mather and Pollard repeat stereotypes of Jews as capitalists, they not only feed these conspiracy theories, but also erase an outstanding tradition of Jewish anti-capitalism. People know the famous Jewish revolutionaries, like Marx, Trotsky, Rosa Luxemberg, Emma Goldman, but it was in mass Jewish workers’ movements such as the Bund, and among the Jews so numerous in socialist and communist parties over the last 120 years, that anti-capitalism was ingrained. In 1902, a Russian Jewish bookbinder, Semyon Ansky, wrote a Yiddish song to honour the Bund’s struggles for social justice. The movement adopted it as its anthem. One powerful verse translates as:

“We swear to the heavens a bloody hatred against those who murder and rob the working class. The Tsar, the rulers, the capitalists – we swear that they will all be devastated and destroyed. An oath, an oath, of life and death.”

He goes on to say that he is going that day to march and speak with the Jewish Socialist Group on a national demonstration in London against racism and Fascism, including the anti-Semitism that is rising in central and eastern Europe and Trump’s America with the Pittsburgh shooting.  He concludes

At street level, far right organisations concentrate physical attacks more frequently on Muslims, Roma, migrants and refugees, but when they want to explain to their supporters who they believe holds power in the world they fall back on Jewish conspiracy theories as surely today as they did in the 1930s. The fight against antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-migrant propaganda are absolutely linked and we must combat them together.

See: https://rebellion602.wordpress.com/2019/03/16/the-anti-antisemitism-that-actually-promotes-jew-hating/

Absolutely. Rosenberg’s blog is particularly fascinating for the pieces he publishes about the Bund, the socialist party of the eastern European masses in the Russian Empire. It’s a history that I doubt many non-Jews know about, as the Yiddish-speaking communities the Bund represented were murdered by the Nazis. If people outside the Jewish community know about it at all, it’s probably because of the movement’s connection to the Russian Socialist movement. The Bund were, with the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, part of the Russian Social Democratic Party, the parent organisation of the Russian Communists. It was their withdrawal from the party conference in 1909, when Lenin demanded that there should be no separate organisation for Jewish socialists, that made the Bolsheviks the majority faction and gave them their name, from ‘Bolshe’, the Russian word for bigger.

But the articles by David Rosenberg and other left-wing Jewish bloggers and vloggers reveal a rich, lost history of Jewish anti-capitalist struggle. One of the remarkable consequences of the anti-Semitism smears is that this history is being rediscovered and brought to public attention as Jewish Marxists and socialists refute these smears. Jon Pullman’s film, The Witchhunt, attacking these smears and particularly the libelous hounding of Jackie Walker, includes a brief mention of the Bund, including black and white footage of their demonstrations and banners. If Channel 4 had kept to its original charter as an alternative BBC 2, the Bund and its legacy would be a very suitable subject for a documentary. It could also easily be screened on BBC 4. But I doubt that this will ever happen because the stereotype of the rich Jew is too important a weapon against the anti-capitalist left for it to be refuted by such a thing as actual history.

And if left-wing Jewish history, like that of the Bund, is being forgotten, some contemporary works on the Jewish community may inadvertently reinforce the stereotype of the rich Jew. Back in the 1990s an aunt gave me a book about the Jewish community in Britain, The Club. It was a mainstream book by a very respectable mainstream publisher, but from what I can remember about it, it was about the elite section of British Jewish society, the top 100. I think it was written from an entirely praiseworthy standpoint – to celebrate Jewish achievement, and to how how integrated and indeed integral Jews were to British society and culture. But books like it can give an unbalanced picture of Jewish society in Britain by concentrating on the immensely wealthy and successful, and ignoring the ordinary Jewish folk, who live, work and whose kids go to school and uni with the rest of us, and whose working people marched in solidarity with us.

It’s fascinating and necessary that the history of Jewish socialism is being rediscovered, and that activists in the Bund’s tradition, like Rosenberg, continue to write, demonstrate and blog against racism and anti-Semitism as part of the real struggle by working people.

 

 

Jewish Labour Supporters Attack the Anti-Semitism Witch-Hunters

March 18, 2019

Oh ho! Mike today posted a very interesting article about two letters written by Jewish supporters of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party, which the anti-Semitism witch-hunters will definitely not like.

One was written to the Groaniad by 200 Jewish ladies, who were angered by the formerly left-wing newspaper’s unqualified support of Margaret Hodge. Hodge was disappointed that so few people have been charged with anti-Semitism, as she personally had denounced 200 people. They pointed out that of 111 people she had accused, only 20 were actually members of the Labour party. The other 91 were nothing to do with the party’s disciplinary procedure and her complaints against them were a waste of the party’s time.

They also said that her other claims – that the party should shut down those branches which had expressed loyalty to Chris Williamson, or refused to adopt the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism should be similarly treated as suspect. They supported Williamson’s statement that the party had been too apologetic in its treatment of the anti-Semitism accusations, and stated that the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism had been shredded by two QCS and the Jewish human rights specialist, Sir Geoffrey Bindman, and the Jewish retired appealed court judge, Stephen Sedley. Their letter concludes

All signatories to this letter grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust. We know we must maintain eternal vigilance against antisemitic resurgence. But we also celebrate our Jewishness, especially the disputatiousness (pace our aphorism: two Jews three opinions) central to Jewish identity. We are terrified by Margaret Hodge’s attempt to hijack our history and rewrite our identity and by unwillingness to investigate, fact check and challenge her allegations.

The Groaniad refused to print the letter, on the grounds that it didn’t say anything new. So two Jewish Labour ladies, Naomi Wayner and Leah Levane, one of whom was a signatory to the letter, published an article about it and the text  of the letter in the Prole Star.

See: https://www.prole-star.co.uk/single-post/2019/03/15/Jewish-Labour-Women-The-Voices-The-Guardian-Wants-To-Silence

Mike comments that this means that probably more people will see it and read it than if it had been published by the paper.

The Sunday Times, when of the offenders in the media smears of decent people as anti-Semites, also printed a letter by 12 Holocaust survivors. They state that they don’t believe the party is perpetrating any hostility or prejudice towards Jews, and if it is, it is minimal, and no more prevalent than in any other party. And rather than considering Jeremy Corbyn a threat, they say he has been over backwards for Jews.

They also state

Media attention on the Labour Party in general, and on Corbyn in particular, is being generated by anti-Labour and anti-Corbyn mischief makers, who unfortunately are over-represented within the so-called Anglo-Jewish leadership — a leadership whose legitimacy is not recognised by the mainstream Haredi (strictly Orthodox) Jews.

The Jewish Chronicle, a paper with a proud future behind it, has criticised the letter, and in particularly claimed that the authors or somehow connected to Shraga Stern, the Orthodox Jew, who appeared in a photo with Corbyn during his visit to Finsbury Park mosque. The paper also claimed that the rabbis who signed an earlier letter of support for Corbyn didn’t know what they were signing. According to the Skwawkbox, both claims have been thoroughly refuted. See:

https://skwawkbox.org/2019/03/17/jewish-chronicle-pushes-fake-news-to-discredit-pro-corbyn-letter/

Mike also notes that the film Witchhunt, about the persecution of anti-Zionists and Corbyn supporters within the Labour party, has just been released. He hasn’t seen it yet, but encourages everyone to do so. He ends his article

The mainstream – the ‘establishment’ – will try hard to regain the initiative; we have seen one attempt already in the response of the Jewish Chronicle. The best advice you can take is to use your own intelligence and make up your own mind, based on the evidence available and the reliability of those providing it.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/03/18/at-long-last-the-voices-of-opponents-of-the-anti-semitism-witch-hunt-are-being-heard/#comments

I’m surprised that the Sunset Times published the article by Holocaust survivors, but perhaps they were afraid of the bad press they’d get if they didn’t. As Jewish bloggers like Tony Greenstein, Martin Odoni and David Rosenberg have pointed out, Orthodox Jews are not represented by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and don’t recognise the Chief Rabbi. And I suspect that Haredi Judaism of some of the signatories may well also be embarrassing to some of the witchhunters. According to a recent article by Shaun Lawson, a liberal Zionist, witchhunter Jonathan Hoffman tried to shut down Jewish supporters of Corbyn with a questionnaire asking them about how Jewish they were in terms of synagogue attendance, activity within the Jewish community, adherence to the Jewish purity laws and Torah, and so on. He had to abandon this approach. From what I gather, the Haredi are a Jewish revival movement, who call Orthodox Jews into a full observance of the Mosaic Law. Which means that there can be absolutely no question about their Jewishness, not that Hoffman’s wretched questionnaire could ever quantify that and the merest suggestion that it could is ridiculous. The Jewish community is divided in its adherence to the Law, from the very strict – the Orthodox and the Haredi, to the less so, like Reform Jews. But all of them view themselves as devout Jews, just as I’ve no doubt the third of the community that is secular also do not deny or are ashamed of their heritage.

As for Shraga Stern, who the Jewish Chronicle seems to believe was somehow involved in persuading the Holocaust survivors to write their letter, he has also received a threatening message because of his appearance with Corbyn, just like Mrs Manson. Is the Jewish Chronicle trying to stir up more hatred against him through its article?

I’m sure Mike’s right that further attacks will come, especially as Survation has put Labour five points ahead of the Tories. But with claims like anti-Semitism, you do have to exercise proper scepticism and critical thinking. You have to ask what the issues really are behind the article, who is writing it, and what they are not telling you. 

 

‘I’ Celebrates Lad Who Egged Racist Senator Fraser Anning

March 18, 2019

Here’s an inspiring story. Fraser Anning, an utterly repugnant far-right Australian senator, who literally blamed the victims of the Christchurch massacre for their own murder, got his just comeuppance. As he was speaking, a White kid hit him over the head with an egg. And the lad is now an internet hero.

The story’s covered by the I, whose article in today’s edition for 18th March 2019, on page 9, runs

Online accolades for boy who egged far-right senator

Will Connolly, the 17 year old boy who egged the far-right Australian senator Fraser Anning, has become an online hero.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggested yesterday that the anti-Muslim senator should be charged after he slapped a teenager who cracked a raw egg over his head.

Mr Anning has been condemned for blaming Muslim immigration for the racist attacks on two New Zealand mosques. Mr Morrison said: “The full force of the law should be applied to Senator Anning.”

Posting on after the mass shootings on Friday, Mr Anning tweeted: “Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?”

“The real cause of the bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration programe which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place, ” he said later. A GoFundMe page set up to raise A$2,000 (£1,0000) to pay for Connolly’s ‘legal fees’ and ‘more eggs’ had exceeded A$25,000 yesterday.

The site says most of the money will go to Christchurch victims.

The I’s columnist Eleanor Margolis wrote a further piece about, When words fail, some people need egging, adding a bit of historical context to Eggboy’s act. She mentions the egging of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jeremy Corbyn at Finsbury Park mosque last week, and John Prescott, how it was used against people in the stocks in the Middle Ages, and by less than impressed audiences in Elizabethan theatres. She said of Eggboy’s strike against Anning that

For anyone slating Eggboy for food wastage, maybe supermarkets should start keeping the eggs that pass their sell by date specifically to see to people with grievances against our leaders. Becuase the thing about egging is, it’s sort of effective. When Eggboy matter-of-factly broke that egg on Fraser Anning’s racist head, millions of people soon saw a display of solidarity -from a White non-Muslim kid – with those impacted by the Christchurch shooting and the victims of today’s rampant islamophobia in general. When words fail, some people just need an egg to the face. It’s probably the most physical, yet mostly non-violent, way of showing the world you disagree with someone and their entire schtick. (p. 18)

Let’s add a bit more detail to this. Anning didn’t just blame Muslim immigration for the violence, he specifically suggested that the victims of this atrocity were themselves violent and to blame for it. He issued a statement essentially saying that Islam is a violent religion, all Muslims were violent, and the massacre victims were ‘not armed yet’. Very many religions and ideologies, including Christianity, have their violent  as well as peaceful aspects, and Islam is no different. At times it has expanded through military conquest and at others through peaceful preaching and simply commercial interaction. It’s believed that Islam spread into sub-Saharan African, for example, through merchants, and that many of the African peoples, who adopted it did so because the majlis, or assembly of religious scholars, offered a constitutional check to the power of the kings.  It’s also obviously untrue that Muslims are violent, as clearly shown by the peaceful behaviour of the vast majority. And Anning’s statement about the victims of the massacre is both wrong and obscene. They weren’t armed at all, and there’s no evidence whatsoever that they were going to be.

Kevin Logan dealt with this lie in his livestream he did with feminist professor Kristi Winters. It’s on YouTube, entitled ‘We Love You Kiwis’. I haven’t reblogged it, because it’s over an hour long and Logan, as an internet atheist, makes a series of gratuitous attacks on Christianity. But on a more positive note, he did post this video celebrating Anning’s nemesis. Enjoy! 

Warning: Contains language.

 

Margolis’ article is also interesting for how she describes the attack on Corbyn. She repeats the falsehood that he was hit with an egg – he wasn’t. He was punched in the head. But she admits he was attacked by a racist. Which is interesting, as this is a tacit admission that Corbyn isn’t. And if he isn’t a racist, he can’t be an anti-Semite, by definition. But I doubt you’ll find the I going that far to buck the anti-Semitism witch-hunt against Labour.

David Rosenberg on the Racist Supporters of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism

March 8, 2019

More bigotry and bullying from the Jewish Labour Movement and their allies, the grievously misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. Yesterday the Equalities and Human Rights Commission announced that they were investigating the Labour Party, following a dossier of complaints handed to them by the above. David Rosenberg, a Jewish socialist and firm supporter of the Bundist tradition of anti-Zionism, has put up a very interesting piece exposing just what kind of people sign the CAA’s petitions. Last August the Zionist hate group put up a petition declaring ‘Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite and must go’, which was later changed to ‘Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite and the Labour Party must act’. Also changed was a piece that alleged the Labour leader was stuffing the party with Holocaust deniers. The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism also invited those signing its wretched petition to leave comments. And these were ‘ugly, very ugly’, as the Star Trek’s Ferengi used to say. Rosenberg gives just a few examples. They are:

“corbyn is a danger to the uk he hates the uk and white men he is skum”

“He is disgrace to the people actually born and bred in this country”

“We are an island and cannot take any more migrants, and he would welcome a million more”

“Corbyn is a communist and terrorist supporter, he is persecuting the Jews who are peaceful people unlike the immigrants he wants to flood the country with”

“This pond scum should not be allowed to be a public figure”

“This man is a treasonous snake who is of grave danger to our country”

“Jeremy is a cunt”

“Corbyn is a dirty nazi”

“It would not surprise me if he had Mein Kampf by the side of his bed.”

“This piece of terrorist loving anti-Semite scum is poison.”

“Let’s get this bastard!”

“I would prefer for someone to shoot him”

Rosenberg therefore encourages the EHRC request a full list of the comments the CAA had on their petition, and asks them if they really want to cooperate with an organisation that posted up such vile abuse and threats of terrorism. He also asks if the Jewish Labour Movement is proud of its association with the CAA, now that it is playing a game of brinkmanship with the Labour party with its threats to disaffiliate.

See: https://rebellion602.wordpress.com/2019/03/08/now-who-has-got-a-problem-with-discrimination/

The racism left by the CAA’s commenters doesn’t surprise me. It’s almost to be expected that the people, who hate Corbyn are the same racist fanatics who want Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg to lead the Tory party and begin an ethnic cleansing of Blacks and Muslims. And the same islamophobia seems to pervade the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. Tony Greenstein has commented several times on the organisation’s own hatred of Muslims. According to the CAA, the typical anti-Semite is a young Muslim male. But as the CAA plays very fast and loose with stats, for which it has been criticised, you can’t necessarily believe that. It might be true that most British anti-Semites are Muslims, given that rabid hatred of Jews is common across the Middle East and Islamic world. A few years ago Egyptian television staged a dramatisation of the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And back in 2007 the Channel 4 documentary, Undercover Mosque, caught an uncomfortably large number of militant Islamic preachers in British mosques vilifying and demonising Christians, Jews and non-Muslims in general. But that doesn’t mean that their congregation was necessarily listening to them.

From what little I’ve read, it doesn’t seem that the CAA has given any information about how it reached this conclusion that British Muslims are more inclined towards Jew hatred than anyone else. What polling company did they use? How large were the sample populations? What questions did they use to gauge anti-Semitism? There are very serious questions about how the CAA came to such a serious claim, and I don’t think the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism has provided any information to answer them. And as so much Israeli psy-ops is based on creating fear of Muslims as the terrible, non-Judaeo-Christian other ready to murder us all in our beds if we don’t convert, this simply looks like more Zionist fear-mongering.

As for the JLM, after Mike posted a piece about their theatrical antics yesterday in pretending to be considering whether to disaffiliate from the Labour party, their supporters responded in their inimitable way: Personal abuse and lies. Mike was once again told he was an anti-Semite and a holocaust denier, needed anti-Semitism training, and told that Arabs lived in perfect equality with Jews in Israel. They opposite to all this is the truth, which Mike shows with some very good tweets of the testimony of Ronnie Barkan and the grandson of Nelson Mandela.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/03/08/supporters-of-the-jewish-labour-movement-respond-to-this-sites-critique-with-abuse/

The Jewish Labour Movement has announced it will hold its AGM on the 7th April. My guess is that if anyone from outside this wretched organisation were to sneak in and secretly film them, they’d be shown making some deeply racist and anti-Semitic comments about non-Zionists, and particularly non-Zionist Jews. The organisation seems to be stuffed with the kind of Fascists that support BoJo and Rees-Mogg. The only difference is that they’re Jewish.