Posts Tagged ‘Conspiracy Theories’

BBC Launches Fact Checking and Verification Service – But Can We Trust It?

May 22, 2023

Okay, I just caught the announcement on today’s midday news that the Beeb has launched a fact checking and verification service. I didn’t quite catch all of the announcement, but I think there was something about the war in Ukraine. Assuming that this was part of the same announcement rather than a separate news item about the war, it may have been related to the conflicting claims yesterday made by Russia and Ukraine about Bakhmut. The Russians claimed they had taken the town, while the Ukrainians denied it. The BBC seemed to be saying that this new service would be able to cut through such confusion. The Beeb also announced a few years ago that they were going to launch a service aimed at checking and rebutting the fake news coming out of the internet. The announcement today seems to suggest that they’ve finally completed setting the service up. Events have moved on a bit since then, and internet fake news and the ‘alternative facts’ put out by Donald Trump aren’t such a pressing issue on the public mind. They’ve therefore decided to announce its launch with a more topical question, such as who’s telling the truth about the war in Ukraine.

But can the Beeb itself be trusted? One of the right-wing news outlets – I can’t remember which one – said that Britain had one of the very lowest rates of public trust in the news in the world. Only 13 per cent of us, according to polls, supposedly believe the newspapers. I think the amount of trust in the Beeb might by higher, but it seems to me that this will also have been hit by allegations by the Tories about left-wing bias, particularly over Brexit. But the BBC has shown several times to people on the left that it can’t be trusted. It wholeheartedly took part in the mass demonization of Jeremy Corbyn as an evil anti-Semite. And I particularly remember the way it blatantly edited and censored Alex Salmond during the referendum a few years ago on Scottish independence. Their correspondent, Nick Robinson, had asked Salmond if he was afraid that the Scottish financial firms, located in Edinburgh, would move south if Scotland became independent. Salmon answered that they’d gone into that, and the firms wouldn’t. This clip was gradually edited during the day so that first it appeared that Salmond hadn’t given a satisfactory answer, and then that he ignored the question altogether.

And part of the problem isn’t what the Beeb or the rest of the lamestream media tells you, but what they don’t. Like the Maidan Revolution that toppled the pro-Russian Ukrainian president eleven years ago and started the path to the current war wasn’t a spontaneous, popular uprising, but carefully stage-managed by Hillary Clinton and her deputy Victoria Nuland in the state department with the cooperation of the National Endowment for Democracy. Other lowlights that found their way into the alternative media were reports that Clinton and Nuland had been recorded discussing whether or not they wanted the boxer-turned-politico Klyuchko in the Ukrainian cabinet. The gruesome twosome were also recorded lamenting that they hadn’t rigged the Palestinian elections, thus allowing the Palestinians to elect a Hamas government.

Today’s announcement is no doubt intended to reinforce the Beeb’s image as a source of unbiased, objective news. Certainly, that’s the image the corporation likes to project of itself. A few years ago, there was an advert for the Beeb’s news programmes which stated that the Beeb was listened to all over the world, especially in countries with authoritarian and dictatorial governments. The people in these countries trusted it to give them the real news that was being suppressed or distorted by their official news agencies.

Except I think it may be too late for that. The Beeb has shown itself too biased, too untrustworthy too often. You’re far better off getting information from the left-wing alternative internet channels like Novara Media and OpenDemocracy. The internet is notorious for the amount of rubbish, fake news and conspiracy theories circulating on it. But sometimes it’s more truthful than the mainstream news. It wouldn’t surprise me if some of the fake news the Beeb will now claim to have checked and refuted is actually truthful, but needs to be discredited because it doesn’t fit the establishment agenda.

Private Eye Skewers Mogg’s Hypocrisy over BBC Presenters’ High Salaries

May 19, 2023

The Murdoch media has been running attack stories against the BBC for a long time focusing on the very high salaries enjoyed by star presenters like Gary Lineker. They’ve been joined by Tory politicians like Jacob Rees Mogg. This fortnight’s Private Eye for 10th May – 1st June 2023 neatly exposes the hypocrisy of Mogg and his gang by revealing the very handsome salaries and fees they get for presenting and appearing on their rancid, toxic programmes on GB News. The article runs

Jacob Rees-Mogg has previously queried the high salaries paid to BBC stars calling its presenters some of “the most well-off in our society” in a diatribe against the licence fee. Of course Rees-Mogg is himself now enjoying a very healthy media salary since he signed up to present a tedious weeknight evening show on GB News this spring, effectively becoming a part-time politician.

The latest register of MPs’ interest shows the ex-leader of the Commons earned just of £32,000 for 40 hours’ work on the show over just a few weeks. That equates to £802 an hour, and makes the already wealthy financier one of the best-paid MPs in terms of outside earnings.

GB News is a cash cow for Tory politicians. The latest register also shows it paid ex-chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng £1,000 for a single interview. In addition, it shells out a £100,000 salary to the party’s deputy chairman Lee Anderson, as well as recently paying around £10,000 each to married Tory MPs Philip Davies and Esther McVey for their pisspoor co-presented weekend offering.

Meanwhile, parts of GB News continue to be a haven for conspiracy theories. Earlier this month, regulator Ofcom again found it in breach of broadcasting rules for an episode of the Mark Steyn programme last year when guest Naomi Wolf said the Covid-19 vaccine amounted to “mass murder”, comparable to the “doctors in pre-Nazi Germany”. Executives have been told to go for a meeting with the regulator.

Despite the rap on the knuckles, GB News presenters show no sign of changing their crackpot ways. Last weekend Neil Oliver shared an image online of Bill Gates that featured the Microsoft founder holding vaccine vials while wearing symbols including a swastika and an Illuminati pyramid. Lovely!

While the vast salaries to MPs such as Rees-Mogg who aren’t very good at presenting might seem a waste of money, the political connections at least allow the channel to retain a veneer of respectability.’

Erm, not quite. One Labour MP has said that GB News presents two types of views on its programmes, the right and the far right. The head of Ofcom had an uncomfortable appearance before a Commons committee in which she was asked why the channel was allowed to break the rules against politicians presenting news programmes. One of the most notorious of these breaches was when one Tory MP interviewed Boris Johnson.

The channel was also in Private Eye last fortnight or so when it reported that GB News was in such dire financial straits that it was no longer paying guests appearing on their wretched programmes. Presumably the money saved helps to pay the inflated salaries of rich Tory presenters like Mogg. How very Conservative!

Spectator Article Claims Immigration Has Increased Since Brexit

May 18, 2023

Looking through Google earlier I found an article on the Speccie’s website claiming with that more or less as its title, authored by none other than its editor, Fraser Nelson. Unfortunately, I couldn’t read the article because you have to be a subscriber, and I’m not. But hold on! Weren’t all the right-wing, Tory anti-immigration types pushing Brexit as the solution too mass immigration and all those pesky people heading across the Channel to us on rubber dinghies?

And was this a pack of lies? Yes, yes, they did and it was. The anti-immigration Brexiteers – there were others on the Labour left who support Brexit, and who were definitely not racist or anti-immigration – told anybody who would listen that the migrants heading over here after passing through Europe had been able to do so because of the European constitution. That isn’t the case. The European constitution does call for freedom of movement across the Union for EU citizens, but from what I understand asylum seekers are required to settle in the first country they travel to. The Schengen Agreement allows immigrants from outside the EU to travel freely from one country to another, but that’s a separate treaty which only binds the specific countries that signed it. Quite simply, the Brexiteer right lied to people about this issue, just as they lied to people about oven-ready deals with the EU, using the money spent on our contribution to the EU on the NHS, the rest of the world flocking to us desperate for trade deals after we left, no traffic queues at Dover or extra bureaucracy and so on, and on, ad nauseam. And now it has dawned on them that, rather than stopping mass immigration, the number of immigrants entering the country has actually increased.

I’m not actually surprised. I was talking to a friend of mine about immigration a while ago, who’d been doing some reading on the issue. He told me that immigration also increased massively after Britain first passed legislation cutting down on it. Before then, it had been largely chain-immigration. Immigrants would arrive from south Asia or wherever and take up residence in a certain area, but would generally only live there for a short period of time before returning to India or Pakistan. They would then be replaced by another set of immigrants, who would also live there for a relatively short space of time before returning and being replaced by a newer set of migrants in their turn. But in the run-up to the date when the new anti-immigration legislation came into law there was a surge in the number of people immigrating to the country, presumably hoping to get in before the door shut. I wonder if something like that is happening now with the people coming here from Africa and the Middle East. Some of the rise in immigration that’s occurred over the past year has been caused Ukrainians seeking refuge in this country as a result of Putin’s invasion of their homeland. I’d say that this was something of an anomaly, as it’s the result of warfare in Europe itself while the pattern of migration that bothers the anti-immigration lobby is that of non-Whites from outside Europe. The exceptional circumstances of the war in Ukraine may mean that in subsequent years the level of immigration may well be lower.

The anti-immigration crew have been aware for some time that Brexit hasn’t been the solution to the issue they believed, or they told people. I’ve seen disturbing articles on various right-wing blogs and YouTube channels talking about this, and suggesting that what we need to do is get out of the 1950s United Nations treaty on refugees. The Nat Cons are taking their inspiration and ideology from the American ultra-Conservative right, and there has been a strain in extreme right-wing American thought that’s been critical of the UN for a very long time. There are very conspiracy theories about the United Nations, which see it very much as the beginning of the Satanic One World Communist dictatorship. Other, less bonkers views attack it for supposedly being anti-American and anti-Israel. My guess is that it may not be too long before we see similar attacks on the United Nations appearing on the right in Britain with the purpose of discrediting the Refugee Treaty. Not that this will be such a radical change for some of the papers. When the UN criticises us for the poverty and suffering Tory policies have inflicted on our citizens, papers like the Heil respond with shrill attacks on it for being anti-British. I think we can expect this hostility to increase and become louder and more vitriolic as the Tories and other right-wing parties like Reform try to stir up anti-immigrant feeling.

Charles Exempts Himself from Legislation to Get £2 Billion Richer

May 8, 2023

I’ve said before that I’m a monarchist, but I am also aware that some the protesters against the monarchy have very good reasons for doing so. One of these is the immense cost of the Coronation when three million Brits have to use food banks to stave off hunger. The mellifluous voiced Irish vlogger, Maximilien Robespierre, put up a very pointed video about this the other day, commenting on a clip from the news in which Joanna Lumley commented on the monarchy’s generosity. The guest’s going to the event had the cars valeted and refuelled free. Robespierre commented that the monarchy wasn’t paying for this, but the British taxpayer. It wasn’t done free of charge, but the cost was being placed on the British taxpayer at a time when very many ordinary Brits are finding it extremely hard to make ends meet.

Rather more troubling is the allegation, which I’ve heard has been made by the Labour MP Clive Lewis, that our sovereign lord Charles III exempted himself from something like 120 different laws in order to rake in a cool £2 billion. If that’s true, then it’s just greed as well as using his personal position as head of state to unfairly enrich himself. When ordinary people do this, like politicians and government officials, it’s called corruption and ends up with an investigation from the rozzers. And it’s also an affront given the three million or so ordinary Brits, who are now forced to use food banks and the rising levels of real poverty in general in the United Kingdom.

People have been criticising Charles for years. Some of this has been general attacks on the monarchy, but some of has been about his personal profiteering. One documentary – I think it might have been ‘Charles: The Man Who Shouldn’t Be King’ – pointed out that normal jars of honey are below a pound in price. Unlike the honey Charles is producing from his estates in Cornwall, which is over £4. Other issues are that he doesn’t observe the same distance the Queen did between the monarchy and politics. There was an article in the Independent or the Groan years ago about the numerous letters he wrote to various authorities calling for the return of grammar schools. Some of Charles’ causes have made him genuinely popular. One of these was his attack on modern architecture, which he derided as ‘monstrous carbuncles’. This enraged various elite architects, but captured the mood of many ordinary people sick of grey, concrete monstrosities. After he made his stinging remarks, some wag wrote on the hoardings surrounding a building site in Bristol ‘another monstrous carbuncle – way hey, right on Charlie!’ But this attitude is dangerous, as not everyone shares his opinions. There have been a number of posts from various right-wing types who believe in the various conspiracy theories about the World Economic Forum and the Green Movement expressing their paranoid fears about Charles’ sympathies and connections to them. Charles is almost certainly correct in his support for Green issues, but it does mean that there is a section of right-wing opinion now alienated and distrustful of the monarchy.

I don’t think there are very many of them at the moment. A far more serious issue is the king’s profiteering. If he continues to do this as poverty in Britain grows, then more people will justifiably become anti-monarchists.

Open Britain: Telegraph Claims Protesters Will Purposely Leave Their Ideas Behind at Tomorrow’s Elections

May 3, 2023

I had this piece come though earlier this evening by the pro-democracy group Open Britain. Faced with very many people being turned away from polling stations because they don’t have ID, the Torygraph has decided to dream up a conspiracy theory so that it’s their fault, not the fault of an anti-democratic and unnecessary law. Yes, they’ve declared that protesters are going to disrupt the voting tomorrow, including by deliberately leaving behind their ID. This is desperate. It’s a fantastic excuse, and it shows the powerful imaginations the Tories have when spinning lies and excuses. Here’s the piece:

‘Dear David,

Local elections are tomorrow, and a significant number of people still risk being turned away from the polls – despite councils’ and the Electoral Commission’s best efforts. Compounding that, we won’t even know the actual number of people turned away because of how the scheme has been organised. 

Funnily enough, some in the Conservative press and on the Tory backbenches are taking this as yet another opportunity to demonsie “activists” and protestors. A recent piece in the Telegraph claims that left-wing troublemakers will intentionally leave IDs at home in protest. There’s no evidence that’s true – take it from the activists themselves.

Tory MP Craig Mackinlay argues that such groups will disrupt our local elections not because of their disagreement with voter ID as a policy but simply because they have a nefarious agenda – because they’re just out to cause chaos. It shows an implicit inability even to consider the fact that the policy might be flawed. There are many good reasons to oppose the policy, and people like us are busy making those cases fairly and reasonably, not going out of their way to disrupt elections. 

Mackinlay’s spasm is really an attempt to distract from the glaring negative impacts of the government’s poorly-planned policy. As always, its easier to blame the “wokerati” protestors than it is actually to take responsibility for policy choices that don’t work. We can’t be sure, but it looks like the results tomorrow aren’t going to reflect well on the Voter ID scheme – with potentially thousands turned away. They could be hedging their bets. 

Regardless, Mackinlay is embodying the same attitude that Suella Braverman has brought to the Home Office, one that favours a brutal crackdown on opposition instead of dialogue or debate. Just this week, the Public Order Bill was enshrined into law, meaning that the police’s powers to crush any coronation protests will be vastly extended. Braverman even wrote a letter to various republican groups designed to intimidate them into submission. 

A government that forcibly silences dissent is a government that lacks democratic legitimacy. We’re much further along this road already than many realise. 

We won’t stop fighting for a government that favours compromise over crackdowns and dialogue over censorship. We’re glad to have you with us for the fight. 

The Open Britain team

This deep authoritarianism and refusal to concede that protesters have a good reason for demonstrating, as well as Braverman’s letters to the various republican organisations to stop them spoiling King Charles’ special day are just a few more instances of the Tory party’s determination to stifle dissent and protest. It’s why they’re a danger to democracy.

Vote them out!

Lawrence Fox on the History of Drag Queen Story Hour

April 24, 2023

This is a video from Lawrence Fox’s Reclaim the Media channel on YouTube, which is part of his Reclaim party. I’m very much aware that by reblogging it I’m tempting the ire of the Labour party for publishing the ideas and content of a rival party. But I think here Lozza and his crew have a point. Looking at it, he doesn’t object to drag as a late night entertainment for adults. What he objects to is very sexualised drag performances being staged in front of children as a vehicle for indoctrinating them with Queer Theory and the gender ideology.

I state again that I am definitely opposed to anyone being stigmatised or persecuted because of their sexuality or gender identity. I’m putting this video up because I do think that there is an attempt to use drag as a vehicle for indoctrinating children, and that the theories about human sexuality and sexual identity are fundamentally wrong and dangerous.

The video traces the history of drag from the days of ancient Greece, the middle ages and the early modern period, when male actors took female roles because of the social taboos against women appearing on stage. He claims that drag as a distinct form of entertainment appeared in the 19th century. The word itself may be a contraction of ‘Dressed As A Girl’. By the late 19th century drag was subversive and political, critiquing social norms about gender. It was originally late night fun for adults, but now there are attempts to put into the classroom. Drag Queen Story Hour is in the vanguard of this campaign.

Queer Theory, which is part of this new movement, has its origins in the postmodernist philosophical movement of the 1960s and 1970s. It begins with Michel Foucault’s 1976 History of Sexuality. Lozza says that Foucault definitely wasn’t a paedophile. This is almost certainly irony, as Foucault used to travel to north Africa for sex with young, pre-teen boys. He also explicitly argued that children can give sexual consent. His book claimed that sexuality was a social construct shaped by culture and history. This was then extended further by Gail Rubin, a lesbian anthropologist in her Thinking Sex. This also argued that sex and gender were the product of cultural norms, which were themselves oppressive and had no basis in nature. She defended every sexual taboo, including ‘boy lovers’.

Rubin was followed by Judith Butler and her book, Gender Trouble, which introduced into the debate the theory of performativity. Gender was not innate, but something people perform. She also challenged the gender binary of male and female. Drag Queen Story Hour differs from other forms of drag in that it is an exercise in gender performativity. This is unlike pantomime dames, who are comic figures exaggerating some female mannerisms while preserving their male gait. Drag queens themselves evolved from gay nightclubs and cabaret to challenge gender norms, but they were adult entertainment.

Drag Queen Story Hour itself began in 2015 in San Francisco, launched by author and activist Michelle Tea. She started it as a way of spreading knowledge of gay culture. Tea was already involved with transgressive culture, touring with a sex workers’ artistic collective and with a Queer feminist poetry collective, Sisterspit, whose anthology included pieces by and about drug addicts and other marginalised, underground groups. Drag Queen Story Hour was launched with Tea’s own group, Radar Productions, and was first staged in San Francisco public library. It was intended to introduce children to gay culture and diversity, equity and inclusion. It was an immediate success, and spread to other cities and across the Atlantic to Britain.

Lozza states that the claim by its defenders that Drag Queen Story Hour is just about teaching children to read in a fun way is dishonest. Here he mentions the recent scandal of the drag king, who performed in schools in the Isle of Man. This individual sparked controversy and a review of the programme by teaching children that there were 72 genders. Amongst themselves, the advocates of Drag Queen Story Hour are quite clear about their intentions to indoctrinate children. He talks here about the paper ‘Queer Pedagogy’, co-authored by the drag queen Little Miss Hot Mess, which appeared in an American journal of education. This stated the goal was to attack racist, capitalist modes of reproduction and the nuclear family.

From this he moves to the matter of expense and how much these events cost. Much of it is funded by the Arts Council. In 2019 the British Library hosted a Drag Queen Story Hour as part of their ‘Live, Love, Liberty’ exhibition. Last year, 2022, New York public library spent $200,000 on such events. The organisers insisted that these performances were safe, with background checks made on the performers and the performances themselves not sexual and suitable for children. This was belied by clips of some of these events showing very sexualised performances. Seven of the drag queens who performed in the Story Hours have been charged with child sex offences. Sharon Le Grand, another drag queen, also said in 2022 ‘We need to teach our children to open their hearts. We need to teach our children to open their minds. We need to teach our children to open their legs.’ Drag kings, a recent addition to the show, have also exposed their chests during the performances to show their mastectomy scars, blurring the line between drag and strip shows. He also talks about the problem of the adult nature of the drag acts away from children. Many of them have web pages with very adult jokes and content, which children can easily find. As an example, he gives a rather coarse joke from Ruby Violet’s description of herself, who performed in front of children aged 3-11 in an event staged by Hertfordshire council.

He concludes by discussing the way opposition to Drag Queen Story Hour has been misrepresented and the attempts to outlaw protests against it. The Beeb declared that opponents of drag queens were motivated by conspiracy theories and were members of the far right. In Canada a law has been passed banning protests within a certain limit of drag queen performances, punishable by a fine of $25,000. The video concludes with him mentioning that there are a number of organisations fighting the gender ideology and Drag Queen Story Hour, whose details he’ll put in the blurb about the video, and a plug for another YouTube series from Reclaim, Bad Education.

While I feel that the video is broadly accurate, obviously that doesn’t mean that each and every drag queen involved in story hour is ideologically motivated or a danger to children. Clive Simpson and Dennis Kavanagh have said in their YouTube videos, The Queens’ Speech, that many drag queens are just gay men trying to make a buck, and so don’t want a blanket ban on such shows. The EDIjester has also drawn a distinction between British and American drag. In his view, British drag, unlike its American counterpart, came out of the music hall tradition and wasn’t sexual. Again, I remember when British TV comedy frequently included drag. One of the major stars of 70s week day TV was Danny La Rue, while comedians and comic actors like the Two Ronnies, Dick Emery and Les Dawson also performed in drag. Also back in the 70s and 80s were Hinge and Bracket, which mixed musical comedy with drag. Again, this was mainstream entertainment on TV and radio and considered entirely innocuous. There have also been Paul O’Grady’s Lily Savage and Barry Humphries with Dame Edna Everege.

And yes, some of the opponents of Drag Queen Story Hour are far right conspiracy theorists. You can see that with Correct, Not Political, who hold weird conspiracy theories about the World Economic Forum, staged counter-protests against left wing demonstrations and openly admire Mosley. Their opposition to Drag Queen Story Hour comes from a deeper hostility to homosexuality and its promotion.

But I think critics of Drag Queen Story Hour and Queer Theory, like James Lindsay, are absolutely correct about the attempts to use drag as a vehicle for explicit political indoctrination and very harmful ideas about gender. It’s this aspect of it that needs to fought and combated.

Liberal Apartheid: Robin DiAngelo Calls for Separate Spaces for Blacks

April 21, 2023

This is going to be another controversial video because of where it comes from: Paul Joseph Watson. Yeah, I know, he’s another far right mouthpiece. He was Alex Jones’ British buddy over on Infowars, which pushed just about every bizarre conspiracy known to humanity. He was one of the celebrity rightists who broke UKIP, along with Mark ‘Count Dankula’ Meacham and Carl ‘Sargon of Akkad’ Benjamin. When those three joined the party, all the genuine anti-racists left. Party collapse followed, as well as refounding as the Brexit party, now Reform or whatever.

But here Watson makes a perfectly valid point. It’s in response to Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert cartoon strip, torpedoing his career by telling Whites to stay away from Blacks. He said this in response to a poll which found that just under 50 per cent of Blacks thought it wasn’t okay to be right, or didn’t know if it was or wasn’t. He took this as showing that this proportion of the Black American population hated Whites. He therefore told Whites to stay away from Blacks, even though just over 50 per cent of Blacks had no problems with Whites and ‘don’t know’ doesn’t necessarily translate to ‘hate Whites’.

What Watson objects to in this video is that Critical Race Theorist and anti-racist activist, Robin DiAngelo, says much the same thing from the Black perspective but doesn’t suffer the same consequences as Adams. He presents a clip of her saying that Blacks need their own separate spaces away from Whites. Now this attitude ain’t new. I encountered it years ago in the editorial/ ‘things you should know about’ column in the newsletter of the Black and Asian Studies Association newsletter, no. 31 or perhaps 32, c. 2002, when I was working at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol. I wasn’t impressed. One of the columnists for the Financial Times had reviewed a book on the Empire and post-war immigration, and, if I recall correctly, had criticised it for saying nothing about what it called ‘reverse colonisation’ and ‘liberal apartheid’. Liberal apartheid is the system of goods and services set up exclusively to benefit Blacks and ethnic minorities. The call for separate Black spaces, however well meant, is effectively a call for a return to segregation. When coupled with an opposition to restrictions on non-White immigration, as was also expressed in the same column, it becomes effectively a form of colonialism in which Whites are to be excluded from certain spaces for the benefit of non-White immigrants. I don’t doubt, though, that those making these demands wouldn’t see it like that and would be terribly offended by the very idea. Nevertheless, it’s there, and it’s causing further racial division and conflict. But it’s seen as acceptable because the people advocating it come from the left and do so on the part of an underprivileged ethnic minority.

Egyptian Lawyer Suing Netflix for Portraying Cleopatra as Black

April 20, 2023

Netflix has caused a bit of controversy this week with its documentary about the legendary queen of Egypt by having her played by a Black actor. This is unhistorical, as the real Cleopatra was Greek, descended from Ptolemy, one of Alexander the Great’s generals. Ptolemy had set himself up as pharaoh after Alexander’s death. I’ve also heard the claim today that she also had red hair. There have been a number of posts by bloggers and vloggers across the Net showing that Netflix got it wrong. And now, apparently, an Egyptian lawyer is so angry about it and the threat it presents to Egyptian identity that he’s suing Netflix. He also wants the streaming service banned in Egypt because its content is contrary to Islam, and especially Egyptian Islam.

His argument is that the portrayal of Cleopatra as a woman of colour is Afrocentric, and derives from that ideology’s doctrine that the originally ancient Egyptians were wholly Black and only became lighter through later invasion and immigration. This is a correct description of the Afrocentric view of ancient Egypt, although some leading Afrocentrists, like Cheikh Anta Diop, also thought that the ancient Egyptians were a racial mixture of Black and White. The idea that the ancient Egyptians and thus Cleopatra were Black is fervently held by very many western Blacks. The Black activist Akala gave a talk to the Oxford Union a few years ago arguing for the view. The contrary view, that the ancient Egyptians were light-skinned Caucasians, is dismissed as a colonialist doctrine intended to deny Blacks knowledge of their true history. There’s a weird conspiracy theory added to this. I’ve heard Blacks claim that White, British authorities deliberately chopped the lips and noses off ancient Egyptian statues in order to disguise their negritude.

The lawyer is not just angry at Neflix’s portrayal of Egypt’s most famous queen, but he also fears that this is a truly colonialist attitude that will lead to the displacement of his people from their homeland. He states that Afrocentrism is a doctrine that teaches specifically Black Americans that they are the true Egyptians and demands their return to Egypt. This is certainly true of a number of Black Muslim sects, beginning with the Moorish Science Temple. However, he adds that this return to Egypt is also coupled with a call to expel or displace the present indigenous Egyptian population. I’ve done some reading on Afrocentrism, and haven’t found that as an Afrocentric doctrine. The founders of Black American Islam seem to have claimed to be either Egyptian, or to have been told the true history of ancient Egypt during visits to the country by Egyptian holy men. I haven’t come across any doctrine in the Afrocentric religions calling for the disinheritance and ethnic cleansing of present-day Egyptians. The insistence that the ancient Egyptians were Black has caused friction at some Egyptological conferences and symposia held in Egypt, but I’m not aware of anything more serious.

I’m not a Muslim, so I can’t comment whether Netflix’s content is contrary to Islam or not. Some Islamic countries, such as Iran, have very strict rules regarding what may be shown on the screen. Violence is forbidden along with relationships between men and women. Hence a few years ago there was a spate of Iranian movies about the adventures of children. Other Muslim countries have different attitudes. When Dallas was still a force on global TV, I was surprised by a statement from one of the Gulf Arab states that the show was enjoyed by its people, and they felt that Patrick Duffy’s character exemplified proper Muslim values. That must have been before the character had an adulterous affair. The accusation that Neftlix is contrary to Islam therefore seems to me to be an extra allegation just to get the service banned in Egypt. The real reason is the documentary’s perceived insult and threat to Egyptian ethnic identity.

It seems to me that the problem is that Netflix wanted to please Black American ideas about ancient Egypt, ignoring how the Egyptians themselves saw their identity. This is a form of colonialism. One of the doctrines of Critical Race Theory is ‘epistemic violence’, which holds that White supremacy denies the colonised, darker peoples a voice and the ability to describe their position. Well, this is clearly what the portrayal of Cleopatra as Black for Afrocentric reasons has done, although I doubt this would be recognised by Critical Race Theorists, for whom the victims of such violent colonialist discourse are always Black. This controversy is itself another refutation of Critical Race Theory.

Clown Planet on New York’s Police Robots

April 12, 2023

Clown Planet is a YouTuber who puts up short videos about the weird, bizarre and stupid happening around the world. I think he’s a man of the right, as much of his content is about some of the daft, nonsensical and dangerous stuff uttered or done by the extreme gay rights and trans crowd. In this video, however, he covers the reintroduction by the NYPD of their Digidog and K5 robots. The Digidog is a version of Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot dog, equipped with an artificial arm. It was first put on the streets by New York’s finest two years ago, but was subsequently taken off following complaints that it represented a science fictional, aggressive style of policing. As you can hear from the audio in one of the excerpts, the cops state that it will only be used for situations like terrorism and hostage negotiations,

The K5 robot looks to me like a giant pepper pot, a bit like a Dalek shorn of gun, sink plunger and eyestalk. This machine is intended to police the subway and Times Square.

This is getting close to some of the dystopias in science fiction in which machines patrol the streets keeping criminals and the general public in their police. One of the first SF stories about the dangers of this kind of mechanised policing was Ray Bradbury’s The Pedestrian. This was a short tale about a man stopped and arrested by a robot police car, which judges him suspicious simply for going for a walk. With these machines now patrolling New York, this is starting to look more than a little prescient. The video is bookended with Alex Jones looking amazed and horrified. Which he may well be, as this is precisely the kind of SF scenario he kept banging on about. When he wasn’t ranting about ‘the globalists’, Barack Obama planning to incarcerate everyone in emergency camps and declaring himself totalitarian overlord of the US, Hillary Clinton being an alien, or a cyborg, or possessed by demons, and stupid and dangerous nonsense about the Democrats operating a child abuse ring out of a Boston pizza parlour.

At present I don’t think these robots present a serious threat to humanity. Their own intelligence and autonomy is very limited, and it doesn’t look as if there’s going to be many of them hitting New York’s streets. So at the moment it’s still going to be human police officers keeping citizens safe from the bad guys.

The situation in China, on the other hand, may be very different. A year or so I found another video on YouTube showing what the Covid lockdown was like there. It was very restrictive over here, but this video showed drones flying through the sky and one of the Spot robots patrolling the ground making sure that everyone kept to their apartments. A very chilling, totalitarian sight, from a state that is using facial recognition technology to track and monitor its dissidents.

I think we’ll have to watch this very carefully. At present it’s a harmless gimmick, but if American politics becomes authoritarian, it’ll easily become something much more sinister.

Is China Preparing to Challenge America for Power in the Middle East? And What Will That Mean for Israel?

April 6, 2023

TNT News this afternoon put out a post stating that one of the Chinese senior diplomats, foreign secretary or equivalent has stated that China will be the Middle Eastern nations and help to ensure that they remain strong and independent. I don’t think you have to look very hard to see what that’s about – backing the region’s nations and making sure that America and the west don’t invade them, as we did with Afghanistan and Iraq.

This could also complicate the situation for Israel. I got the distinct impression that the west supports Israel as an outpost of western influence and power in the Middle East, especially against Iran and the various Arab states aligned with the Communist bloc. In return, America acts as Israel’s bully-boy. The neo-cons drew up a list with the Israelis over which states they wanted overthrown. This list included Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran and, in Africa, Somalia. Hence the bombings of those countries and the support for rebels attempting to topple the government, as in Libya. Israel seems to get its way not just through a perceived identity of interest with America, but also through bullshit accusations of anti-Semitism when they don’t. They got the Iron Dome anti-missile shield through the generosity of Barack Obama. But when he didn’t give them the amount of aid they demanded, they immediately fell back to screeching ‘anti-Semitism’ until he did.

But how long can they continue to do that as the power balance across the world changes and China grows in power?

Years ago I used to read Theodore Beale’s – Vox Dei’s – site. He’s an extremely right-wing Libertarian – anti-feminist and, I would say, an anti-Semite. But he could say some very interesting things. And one of those was how long Israel could continue calling on America with China becoming the major hegemon in the Middle East.

Good question. I’m sure there is a minute Jewish population in China, but as far as I know there’s no tradition of anti-Semitism there. There have been persecutions of Buddhists and Christians during Chinese history, as well as Mao’s campaign to eradicate the Taoists and the recent persecution of the Falun Gong and the ongoing genocide of the Uighurs. But I’ve never heard of any persecution against the Jews. I think if there is a Jewish community, it’s probably tiny, perhaps no more than 1-2 million in a country with a population of 1 1/2 billions. They’re not big enough to present any kind of threat, and the real danger to the country’s independence has come from western imperialism and colonialism. I doubt that many Chinese have even met one, although when the Nazis started their persecution Jews constituted only 5 per cent of the German population. There was a surge of anti-Semitism in Japan in the 90s, despite there being hardly any Jews in that nation, so numbers don’t necessarily make much difference to the bigoted believers of stupid conspiracy theories. Apart from which, as the invasion of Tibet and the genocide of the Uighurs shows, the Chinese don’t seem to be bothered about committing real genocide and crimes against humanity in the face of international horror and condemnation.

And without the black past of anti-Semitic persecution, Israel doesn’t have much moral leverage against the Middle Kingdom. This could get very interesting indeed!