Posts Tagged ‘Immigration’

Literary Authors on the Occupation of Palestine

March 31, 2020

Michael Chabon, ed., Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation (Fourth Estate 2017).

This is another book I found in the Postscript catalogue for April, 2020. It seems to be a collection of pieces by prominent western literary types dealing criticising the occupation of Palestine. The blurb for it runs

Edited in cooperation with Breaking the Silence, an NGO of former Israeli soldiers who served in the Occupied Territories, this collection of essays reflects on the human cost of 50 years of occupation, conflict and destruction in the West Bank and Gaza. The contributors include such celebrated international writers as Mario Vargas Llosa, Colm Toibin, Eimear McBride, Hari Kunzru, Dave Eggers and Rachel Kushner.

It’s usual price is £12.99, but they’re offering it at £4.99.

Michael Chabon’s the author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which seems to be a fictional version of the creation of the superhero comic by two Jewish lads in ’30s America. Which is how Superman started, and immediately became a massive success and icon of modern American popular culture. More recently, he’s the showrunner for Star Trek: Picard, the latest installment in the Star Trek franchise. This has been massively pilloried by fans because it has moved away from the Utopian optimism of Gene Roddenberry’s vision, to become dark and dystopian. It is also very heavy-handed in its treatment of contemporary politics, such as immigration, Donald Trump and Brexit. And it’s terribly written. But it seems that Chabon has done excellent work here in compiling this volume, with its contributions from some very prominent writers. Mario Vargas Llosa is a giant of South American literature, Colm Toibin is a favourite of the British and Irish literary landscape, as is Hari Kunzru, and Dave Eggers is another famous literary name.

As for Breaking the Silence, they’re one of the many Israeli groups against the country’s brutal maltreatment of the Palestinians, like the human rights organisation B’Tsalem, that Netanyahu has raged against and tried to silence. Because the extreme right-wing Israeli establishment, as it stands, really cannot tolerate criticism from Jews, even when they are Zionists and/or domestic citizens. They have to be monstrous autocrats like Netanyahu. Who I’ve heard described by one Jewish academic as ‘that bastard Netanyahu’. None of these writers are anti-Semites and the book seems to be a successor to previous volumes by historians, writers and personalities attacking the occupation of Palestine and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. One of the Jewish voices condemning the bombardment of Gaza nearly a decade ago was the respected British thesp, Miriam Margolyes. She said she spoke ‘as a proud Jew, and as an ashamed Jew’. This lost her the friendship of Maureen Lipman, who has spent the last five years ranting about how anti-Semitic the Labour party is. She began spouting this nonsense back in 2015 or thereabouts when the-then leader of the Party, Ed Miliband, who is Jewish, utter some mild criticism of Israel and dared to take a few steps away from Blairism.

Books like these are necessary, and they do seem to have an effect. The woefully misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism was set up in 2012 because the Zionist faction in Britain were worried about the bombardment of Gaza had resulted in Israel losing the support of many severely normal Brits. It’s why the organisation seems to spend its time and energy not on pursuing and attacking real anti-Semites and Fascists, but mostly left-wing critics of Israel.  It’s why the Israel lobby is trying to close down criticism of Israel worldwide through contrived definitions of anti-Semitism like that of the IHRA, which include criticism of Israel.

It’s great that books like this are still being published despite the efforts of the Israel lobby to silence their authors and the principled Israeli organisations that work with them. And it’s a disgusting scandal that, in 2020, they should still be crying out against this glaring injustice.

Telegraph Journo Embarrassed by Sargon and Robinson’s Free Speech Organisation

March 10, 2020

As we know, embarrassing the Tories is good and righteous work. So Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, the man who broke UKIP, deserves especial congratulations for making the Tories uncomfortable over the whole question of free speech. He didn’t do it intentionally. It’s just that they found the similarities between Toby Young’s Free Speech Union and a rival right-wing organisation founded by Sargon and the islamophobic thug Tommy Robinson far too close for comfort.

Last month the Spectator’s vile Toby Young announced that he was founding the Free Speech Union along with a load of other rightists. This was going to defend those expressing controversial opinions from being silenced and kicked out of their jobs. The Heil on Sunday quoted Tobes as saying

People who become the target of ‘Twitter storms’ after making controversial remarks will be defended by a new body called the Free Speech Union. The organisation will ‘stand up for the rights of its members to tell the truth in all circumstances’. The union has been set up by the journalist Toby Young in response to police investigations into a string of ‘non-crime hate incidents’ triggered by outspoken comments”.

If someone at work writes to your boss to complain about something you’ve said, we’ll write to them, too, and explain the importance of intellectual tolerance and viewpoint diversity. If self-righteous social-media bullies pick on you, we’ll return the fire. If someone launches an online petition calling for you to be sacked, we’ll launch a counter-petition. The enemies of free speech hunt in packs; its defenders must band together too.

The organisation has a Latin motto, which runs something like ‘Audi altri partem’, which I think means ‘Hear the other side.’

However, it’s not a union, but an incorporated, whose five directors are all spokesmen for the right. They include Young himself, Prof Nigel Biggar, who defends colonialism, Douglas Murray, who has islamophobic opinions, and Radomir Tylecote, who was suspended from the Treasury for writing a book against the EU. And their record of defending their opponents’ right to express their opinions is actually very poor. Zelo Street in their article about the wretched union quoted Paul Bernal, who tweeted

As Toby Young should know, your commitment to free speech isn’t shown by how well you defend those whose speech you agree with, but how you defend those whose speech you don’t. When his ‘free speech union’ talks about the excesses of the Prevent programme, then see”.

The Street himself commented that it was just free speech for the right, and a way for Tobes and co. to complain about how unfair the world is.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/02/toby-youngs-free-speech-sham.html

Unfortunately for Tobes’ outfit, Sargon and Tommy Robinson, the founder and former leader of the EDL, have launched their own right-wing free speech organisation, the Hearts of Oak Alliance. And the similarities between the two concerned Tory feminist academic Zoe Strimpel to write a piece for the Torygraph on the first of this month, March 2020, complaining about this fact. Strimpel’s a Cambridge graduate with an M. Phil in gender studies. She’s the author of a series of book on men’s psychology, feminism, dating and romance. She began her article with the statement that her circle of friends has taken on a left-wing hue. It includes many Labour supporters, against whom she has to defend capitalism and Zionism. Well, at least she said ‘Zionism’, rather than accuse them once again of anti-Semitism. She’s upset by them chuckling off her fears about the erosion of free speech and thought, which, she claims, is under attack by a visible machinery of censorship in offices, the cops, universities, arts and online. She cites approvingly a report by the right-wing think tank Policy Exchange, which advised universities to guard against being the voice of critics of those, who despise the supporter of the traditional values of patriotism, family, faith and local traditions. They have to be willing to represent and not sneer at those, who feel justifiable pride in British history, culture and traditions.

However, she was worried whether it was possible to defend free speech, without sullying the cause with too many real thugs, who wanted to get as close as possible to inciting actual violence under the guise of expressing their democratic rights. Was it possible to challenge the climate of intimidation, snide snitching, and mendacious and manipulative accusations of hate-mongering, racism and making people feel ‘unsafe’, without being a magnet for the alt-right? She agreed to become a member of the advisory board, but has her reservations. She’s uncomfortable about Sargon’s and Robinson’s organisations, because of Sargon’s own anti-feminist, misogynistic views. Sargon was, she declared, far right, a thug, who called feminism ‘a first world female supremacy movement’, and ‘all kinds of blokeish’. He’s also the man responsible for sending that Tweet to Labour MP Jess Philips, telling her that he ‘wouldn’t even rape her’.

She concluded her article by stating that the aims of Tobes’ outfit were perfectly legitimate and free speech is under threat. But it was ‘just a shame that in defending those who ought to speak freely, one has to defend those, who – in an ideal world – wouldn’t have anything to say.’

Sargon was naturally upset at this assault on his character. He therefore posted a piece up on his YouTube channel, Akkad Daily, on the 2nd of March defending himself from her attack. He didn’t deny he was anti-feminist, and defended his own comments on this. But he roundly denied being a thug and far right. He was, he repeated, a Lockean classical liberal, and believed in precisely the same values as those Policy Exchange’s report claimed were under attack.

Sargon is indeed far right. He’s a libertarian, who would like everything privatised and the end of the welfare state. He’s against the European Union and immigration, and is bitterly critical of feminism and affirmative action for women and ethnic minorities. And yes, he is an islamophobe like Robinson. But in very many ways he and Robinson are absolutely no different from Young and his crew. Young is also far right. He’s a right-wing Tory, who attended eugenics conferences whose members and speakers were real Nazis and anti-Semites. And Young also is all kinds of blokeish as well. He’s posted a number of tweets expressing his obsession with women’s breasts. Way back in the ’90s, he also wrote a piece for the men’s magazine, GQ, about how he once dressed up in drag in order to pose as a woman, because he wanted to snog lesbians in gay clubs.

And it’s not just the people in the Free Speech Union, who have no real interest in free speech. Neither does Conservatism or Zionism. Thatcher tried to pass legislation making it illegal for universities to employ Marxists. A week or so ago, Turning Point UK announced that it was launching a British version of its parent organisation’s Professor Watch, a blacklist of university lecturers, who dared to express or teach left-wing views. And anti-Zionist and Israel-critical bloggers, like Tony Greenstein and Martin Odoni have described how Israel’s super-patriotic supporters, like Jonathan Hoffman, don’t want to permit free debate about Israel and its barbarous treatment of the Palestinians. Rather, they turn up at pro-Palestinian meetings with the intention of heckling, shouting down and otherwise disrupting the proceedings. They also seek to use the law to suppress criticism and factual reporting of Israeli atrocities as anti-Semitism.

Now there are opponents of free speech on the left. But Stimpel, as a good Tory, doesn’t want to recognise that it exists on the right. She’s embarrassed that supporting right-wing speech also means supporting extreme right-wing figures like Sargon and Robinson. But she doesn’t recognise, because she can’t afford to, that Sargon and Robinson aren’t actually much different from Toby Young, Douglas Murray, Radomir Tylecote, Nigel Biggar and the rest. In fact, there’s little difference between the two groups in fundamental attitudes.

It’s just that Sargon’s a little more extreme and doesn’t have a column in a major right-wing newspaper or magazine.

Score! Anti-Racism Charity Gives Riley the Red Card over Competition Judges

March 7, 2020

Despite Melanie Phillips and Ephraim Mirvis trying to keep the anti-Semitism smears going, there has been some good news. The anti-racism charity, Show Racism the Red Card, politely told smear merchant Rachel Riley where she could stick her complaints about the judges they had selected for a youth competition. The organisation had launched a competition for school children, and chose as judges the left-wing film director, Ken Loach, and Children’s Poet Laureate Michael Rosen. Both are eminently suitable. One of Loach’s most recent film, Dirty Pretty Things, is about the immigrants, who do the dirty, menial work we don’t want to, like cleaning. Michael Rosen is Jewish and an educator on the Holocaust. He has presented evidence about the latter to parliament. But Riley and her matey Tracey-Ann Oberman, and a journalist, Ebner, objected to the decision to appoint the two because they had a ‘problematic’ relationship with British Jews. This was, in my opinion, the insinuation that they were anti-Semitic. Loach has been accused of it before, because he directed a film or a play years ago about the gross maltreatment and dispossession of the Palestinians by the Israelis. Of course, like so many others so smeared, he is nothing of the sort. He was given a very warm welcome a few years ago when he was invited to attend a meeting of Jewish Voice for Labour. They’re a group formed to campaign against the anti-Semitism smears against the party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Unlike the Jewish Labour Movement, they really were all Jewish, although gentiles could become associate members, and they were members of the party. Neither of these stipulations apply to the JLM, whose members don’t have to be Jews or party members, but who somehow claim the right to represent Labour’s Jews. Loach and Rosen were smeared by Riley and her buddies because they had the audacity to support Jeremy Corbyn.

Now Show Racism the Red Card has issued a statement confirming that they are very pleased to have Loach and Rosen as judges. They lament the way the competition has been overshadowed by these accusations. However, they were contacted by prominent figures in education, the arts, sport, law, media, science and politics, who endorsed their decision and refuted the allegations against Loach and Rosen. They also thank the public for the kind messages of support they received from them. Loach has been a member of the charity’s Hall of Fame because of his work with them. The charity says of Loach and Rosen that

As award-winning icons in their respective fields, it is very exciting for us that Ken and Michael have agreed to be judges. But equally important is the compassion we have seen them show to people – of all races and religions – who our charity is here to help.

Mike rightly describes Riley and her fellows as bigots. They are, in the sense that they are utterly intolerant of the opinions of others. They have consistently tried to silence and deplatform supporters of Jeremy Corbyn by smearing them as anti-Semites, even self-respecting Jews like Michael Rosen. However, Riley isn’t concerned about real anti-Semitism from outside the Labour party. She is silent when people send her examples of such to her Twitter feed. Mike gives two such cases. One is a Tweet from the Prole Star asking her what she has to say about a video contained in the Tweet. This shows the islamophobe Tommy Robinson greeting his followers with ‘Shalom’ – the traditional Jewish greeting – and asking them to send money so he can continue his work of destroying the White race. Robinson is a gentile, and this is a reference to the notorious anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about Jews. Robinson’s probably joking, but this isn’t funny, just grossly offensive.

Derek Lucas sent Riley and the noxious editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard, a Tweet from the Auschwitz Memorial. The Museum was appealing to Amazon to take down from the book store real anti-Semitic books. These included one by Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi governor of Czechoslovakia and one of the chief organisers of the Holocaust, and three by the Nazi ideologue, Alfred Rosenberg. One of these was an explicitly anti-Semitic piece with the title, The Jew and His Trace through History. And another was The Sins of High Finance, which you can guess is about the Jewish control  of capitalism. There’s no question that these books should not be for sale. But Riley has said that she’s not interested in anti-Semitism outside the Labour Party. And so she’s silent about these real works of anti-Jewish hatred, by men who were active in the Jews’ mass murder.

Mike is currently fighting a libel action against him brought by Riley, who wishes to silence him and a number of others for the horrendous crime of blogging about her alleged bullying and smearing of a vulnerable schoolgirl as an anti-Semite. Because, surprise! Surprise! – the girl also dared to support Corbyn on line. Mike states that it is important that he win, so he can very publicly defeat her and her wretched bigotry. He therefore ends his article by appealing for donations and giving details how people may give them, if they choose to do so.

It’s excellent that Show Racism the Red Card has stood up to the real bullies in this, and backed Loach and Rosen. I have no doubt that they’ll be excellent judges.

And Riley’s silence on real Nazism and anti-Semitism would seem to indicate that she’s the real bigot in all this.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/03/06/anti-racism-charity-defies-bigots-like-riley-retains-loach-and-rosen-as-competition-judges/

Imnmigration Rights Organisations Write Letter of Protest Against Patel’s Deportations

February 23, 2020

This comes from last Friday’s I for 21st February 2020, and reports that two organisations dealing with immigrants and detainees have written a letter of protest against the Tories latest deportation of ex-convicts. They complain that the deportees may not have had access to proper legal advice. The article, by Chloe Chaplain, runs

The Home Office has been warned a planeload of people due to be deported from the UK contains “asylum seekers and vulnerable victims of trafficking” who might not have had access to proper legal support.

In a joint letter, Detention Action and the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association have written to the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, claiming that those on board a flight scheduled to leave the UK yesterday might not have been given “adequate access to justice”. 

The Home Office said that all cases had been properly considered and that all detainees were “given simple opportunities to seek any legal advice they require” while in the centres.

But Ms Lenegan said her concerns stemmed from the quality of advice available to these people.

“What I imagine the Home Office is referring to is the detained duty advice scheme – and that is what we are concerned about,” she said. “All the detention centres have this scheme where lawyers will sit in the removal centre for a day, and there will be 10 half-hour slots to speak to people.”

I think I’ve come across this story before, or something like it. These questions were being raised when the deportations first occurred. Now it seems that the organisations involved have raised an official complaint.

It also looks like they’re trying to refute the Tories’ claim that the legal advice they’ve received is adequate. To my, admittedly inexpert eyes, a half-hour slot is nowhere near adequate for someone in an immigration detention centre to get propler legal advice. However, it does fit the Tories’ and Blairite’s strategy of presenting a bare minimum of support and then claiming that it was somehow full or adequate. From personal experience, I know that people writing letters of complaint to the authorities are warned how they phrase these letters, so that the Tories do not subsequently misrepresent them as a kind of public discussion when no such thing has occurred.

As for Patel herself, Mike yesterday raised the question whether she was ‘self-hating’. Is she a member of an ethnic minority who hates their own race? Patel had made a statement denying that Boris Johnson was racist after the rapper Dave changed his lyrics to attack BoJob at the Brit awards. But Johnson certainly looks like one, with his racist caricatures of Blacks, Muslims and Jews in his execrable novel, 72 Virgins. Not to mention his remarks about ‘grinning picanninies’ and not shaking the hands of the Black people attending the Tory party conference.

Patel claims that her parents arrived in this family in 1972 as part of the Ugandan Asian community expelled by Idi Amin. They were given sanctuary by Ted Heath when every other country, including India, refused them. But her parents actually arrived before that, in the 1960s, meaning that they may not have been allowed into this country as asylum seekers as she claims. Under her rules then, she’d have had her own mother deported.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/02/22/patels-policies-would-deport-her-own-mother-why-believe-her-when-she-says-johnson-isnt-racist/

Mike’s article is also worth reading as he demolishes the Tories’ simple equation of low-paid with low-skilled. The Tories want to refuse entry to migrants unless they’re going to a job that pays £25,600 plus. But Mike states that when he was working as a journalist and editor, he was never paid anywhere near that amount.

And I’m absolutely sure Mike’s experience is common. There is now a wave of graduates seeking low-paid jobs for which they are ridiculously overqualified, because the graduate-level opportunities simply aren’t there. And I heard from academic friends over a decade ago that even academics may be on extraordinarily low wages due to the way the profession’s been restructured so that the upper management are vastly overpaid. The people, who do the actual teaching work, on the other hand, may be on part-time contracts and other devices, which would keep their salaries under that £25,600 amount.

This is more toxic, racist exploitative nonsense from a toxic, racist and exploitative government seeking to capitalise and inflame hatred against immigrants.

 

Keir Starmer’s 10 Pledges for the Labour Party

February 22, 2020

I’ve just received a pamphlet from Keir Starmer’s campaign team, promoting him as the future of leader of the Labour Party. It begins with this quote

“I’ve spent my life fighting injustice. I’m standing to be leader of our Labour Party because I’m determined to unite our movement, take on the Tories and build a better future. If all parts of our movement come together, we can achieve anything.”

There’s a brief biography that runs

A Life Devoted to Fighting Injustice

Keir is the son of an NHS nurse and a toolmaker. As a former human rights lawyer, Keir is dedicated to Labour’s core principles of fairness and justice.

He has devoted his whole life to fighting injustice and defending the powerless against the powerful, as his ten-year unpaid battle over the McLibel case goes to show. he has fought against the death penalty abroad, defended mining communities against pit closures, and taken up hundreds of employment rights and trade union cases. After being the Director of Public Prosecutions, he was elected MP for Holborn & St Pancras in 2015, later becoming Shadow Brexit Secretary. Defeating Boris Johnson is a huge task but Keir knows that if we bring our movement together and stay true to our values, we can win, and change Britain for the better.

As leader of the Labour Party, Keir will contine to fight for justice in all its forms: social justice, climate justice, economic justice.

There’s then three columns of endorsement from people such as Dawn French, Rokhsana Fiaz, the elected mayor of Lewisham, Laura Parker, the former National Coordinator of Momentum, Emma Hardy, the MP for Hull West and Hessle, Aneira Thomas, the first baby born on the NHS, Sarah Sackman, a public and environmental lawyer, Alf Dubs, the refugee campaigner, Paul Sweeney, the former MP for Glasgow North East, Ricky Tomlinson, David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham, Doreen Lawrence, Konnie Huq, the TV presenter and writer, Mick Antoniw, the member of the Welsh Assembly for Pontypridd, Ross Millard of the Sunderland band, the Futureheads, Lucio Buffone, a member of ASLEF and LGBT+ Labour national committee member, and the Unison General Secretary, Dave Prentis.

The back page contains his ‘My Pledges To You’. He says

My  promise is that I will maintain our radical values and work tirelessly to get Labour in to power – so that we can advance the interests of the people our party was created to serve. Based on the moral case for socialism, here is where I stand.

His pledges are as follows

  1. Economic Justice.

Increase income tax for the top 5% of earners, reverse the Tories’ cuts in corporation tax and clamp down on tax avoidance, particularly of large corporations. No stepping back from our core principles.

2. Social Justice.

Abolish Universal Credit and end the Tories’ cruel sanctions regime. Set a national goal for wellbeing to make health as important as GDP; invest in services that help shift to a preventive approach. Stand up for universal services and defend our NHS. Support the abolition of tuition fees and invest in lifelong learning.

3. Climate Justice

Put the Green New Deal at the heart of everything we do. There is no issue more important to our future than the climate emergency. A Clean Air Act to tackle pollution locally. Demand international action on climate rights.

4. Promote Peace and Human Rights.

No more illegal wars. Introduce a Prevention of Military Intervention Act and put human rights at the heart of foreign policy. Review all UK arms sales and make us a force for international  peace and justice.

5. Common Ownership.

Public services should be in public hands, not making profits for shareholders. Support common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water; end outsourcing in our NHS, local government and justice system.

6. Defend Migrant’s Rights.

Full voting rights for EU nationals. Defend free movement as we leave the EU. An immigration system based on compassion and dignity. End indefinite detention and call for the closure of centres such as Yarl’s Wood.

7. Strengthen Workers’ Rights and Trade Unions.

Work shoulder to should with trade unions to stand up for working people, tackle insecure work and low pay. Repeal the Trade Union Act. Oppose Tory attacks on the right to take industrial action and the weakening of workplace rights.

8. Radical Devolution of Power, Wealth and Opportunity.

Push power, wealth and opportunity away from Whitehall. A federal system to devolve powers – including through regional investment banks and control over regional industrial strategy. Abolish the House of Lords – replace it with an elected chamber of regions and nations.

9. Equality.

Pull down obstacles that limit opportunities and talent. we are the party of the Equal Pay Act, Sure Start, BAME representation and the abolition of Section 28 – we must build on that for a new decade.

10. Effective Opposition to the Tories.

Forensic, effective opposition to the Tories in Parliament – linked up to our mass membership and a professional election operation. Never lose sight of the votes ‘leant’ to the Tories in 2019. Unite our party, promote pluralism and improve our culture. Robust action to eradicate the scourge of antisemitism. Maintain our collective link with the unions.

This is all good, radical stuff, but there are problems. Firstly, his commitment to taking ‘robust action to eradicate the scourge of antisemitism’ and his decision, along with the rest of the Labour leadership contenders, to sign the Board of Deputies’ highly manipulative pledges, means that more people are going to be thrown out of the party without any opportunity to defend themselves, based only the allegations of anonymous accusers. We’ve seen innocents like Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Marc Wadsworth, Mike Sivier, Tony Greenstein, Martin Odoni and so many others suspended and thrown out through the party’s kangaroo courts. One poor lady has died through the shock of being so expelled, even though she was a passionate anti-racist. This isn’t justice, it’s a pledge to renew the witch hunt.

As for promoting peace and human rights – how long will that last with the Board of Deputies demanding to supervise everything relating to Jews? Israel is a gross violator of human rights, but the Board has consistently defended it and its deplorable actions. Their demands that Labour adopt the IHRC definition of anti-Semitism was to stifle criticism of Israel by declaring them ‘anti-Semitic’. This pledge might be genuine, but the momentum anyone applies it to Israel the BoD will start howling ‘anti-Semitism!’ again and decent people will start getting expelled. Especially if they’re Jewish.

And his plan for giving Britain a federal constitution doesn’t seem to be a good one. From what I’ve read, it has been discussed before, and while it may solve some problems it creates others. It’s supposed to be no better than the current arrangement, which is why it hasn’t been implemented.

I also don’t back him on Europe. Oh, I’m a remainer at heart, but I think a large part of  the reason we lost the election was because, instead of accepting the results of referendum, Labour pledged itself to return to the EU. This was partly on Starmer’s insistence. He is right, however, that EU nationals in the UK should have voting rights.

But I have to say that I don’t trust Starmer. His campaign team were all supporters of Owen Smith, one of those who challenged Corbyn’s leadership. They include Luke Akehurst, one of the leading figures of the Israel lobby within the Labour Party. Tony Greenstein a few days ago put up a piece arguing that, whatever he claims to the contrary, as Director of Public Prosecutions he always sided with the authorities – the police, military and intelligence services – against everyone else.

My fear is that if he becomes leader of the Labour Party, he will quietly forget these pledges and continue the Blair project.

See: http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2020/02/keir-starmer-is-candidate-that-deep.html

http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2020/02/pauline-hammerton-expelled-for.html

Arab Intellectual George Antonius on British and American Double Standards on Pre-War Jewish Immigration

February 13, 2020

One of the points John Newsinger makes in his chapter on Palestine in The Blood Never Dried: A People’s History of the British Empire, is that both Britain and America had double standards when it came it came to Jews fleeing Nazi persecution. While they were more than prepared to encourage it in Palestine, where the refugees came to colonise, they were less willing to allow them to enter their own countries. In 1935 the US only allowed 4,837 Jews to enter the country, for example. In that same year the number of Jewish immigrants to Palestine was 66,472. This would have been the equivalent of 2 million Jews entering Britain. The Arab intellectual, George Antonius, was acutely aware of this and sympathetic to position of the Jewish refugees. But he didn’t see why the burden of such immigration should be borne by the Arabs. Newsinger quotes his comment

The treatment meted out to the Jews in Germany and other European countries is a disgrace to its authors and to modern civilisation, but posterity will not exonerate any country that fails to bear its proper share of the sacrifices needed to alleviate suffering and distress. To place the burden upon Arab Palestine is a miserable evasion of the duty that lies upon the whole civilised world. It is also morally outrageous. No code of morals can justify the persecution of one people in an attempt to relieve the persecution of another. The cure for the eviction of Jews from Germany is not to be sought in the eviction of Arabs from their homeland; and the relief of Jewish distress may not be accomplished at the cost of inflicting a corresponding distress upon an innocent and peaceful population.

Unfortunately, the Palestinians are still being oppressed and ethnically cleansed by the Israelis because of Europe’s moral failure, not just in the rise of Nazism and the persecution of Jews in the first place, but also our refusal to accept our share of Jewish refugees.

 

Diane Abbott on the Latest Windrush-Style Deportations

February 12, 2020

The Tories are doing it again, trying to deport Caribbean immigrants back to countries from which they emigrated so long ago they may only have the dimmest memories of them. If they remember them at all. It’s like May’s attempted deportation of the Windrush migrants, people who were, or should have been, legally entitled to remain here. But the documentation allowing them to say had somehow been destroyed. Now Johnson wishes to deport 50 similar migrants back to Jamaica and the Caribbean. The difference is that these people are all supposed to be guilty of serious offences, such as manslaughter, rape, violent crime and dealing class A drugs. But they’ve all served their prison sentences, and the law firm representing one of them says that they are “potential victims of trafficking, groomed as children by drugs gangs running county lines networks and later pursued in the criminal justice system as serious offenders”. The deportations come suspiciously before the publication of the ‘lessons learned’ review of the Winrush Scandal. More than 170 MPs, led by labour’s Nadia Whittome, have signed a letter demanding the cancellation of the flight.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/02/10/johnson-insists-on-deportation-of-caribbean-nationals-despite-claims-theyre-not-serious-criminals/

The Appeal Court has also ruled that the deportations may not go ahead until it is confirmed that they have all had advice from the lawyers. But it’s a good question whether the Tories will pay any attention to this. Boris Johnson does not seem to have much regard for the rule of law when it suits his interest.

Jamaica deportation: will the Tories go ahead after appeal court decision?

Yesterday, Diane Abbott wrote a piece in the I laying out the issues involved and forcefully showing why these deportations are unjust in a piece ‘Windrush: reigniting the scandal’. She wrote

The planned deportation of 50 Jamaican-born British residents to Jamaica has caused uproar among the black community and many campaign groups. it is widely considered to have strong racial overtones and recalls the injustices of the Windrush scandal.

The 50 people involved are all convicted offenders. Judges have always had the power to direct that criminals be deported at the end of the sentence, but that is when they are dealing with an individual case – with all the facts and personal circumstances in front of them. These deportations are different and relatively arbitrary. They are solely tied to the length of the original sentence – No 10 has said that all 50 have sentences of over 12 months – with no consideration of personal circumstance. The potential deportees have already served an appropriate sentence. There have been assurances that none of these deportees are members of the Windrush cohort, but it is not clear whether any are the children or grandchildren of Windrush victims. If so, their eligibility to apply for British citizenship may have been compromised by the confusion over their relatives’ immigration status.

The Government’s 2016 review into the welfare in detention of vulnerable persons suggested that it should not be deporting people who came to this country as children. The Windrush: Lessons Learned review reportedly says the same thing.

The Government wants to deport people back to Jamaica, when they may have no memory of the country because they came here so long ago. Many of them will have no support in Jamaica or they may no longer have family and friends there.

The people the Home Office proposes to deport have been held effectively incommunicado because of problems with the mobile phone signal in the area of the detention centres. So it is not clear that the potential deportees will have had all the appropriate legal advice. Campaigners are asking that, at the very least, these deportations are halted until the Windrush review has been published and studied.

The Windrush scandal was traumatising for Britain’s black community. It is very important that Britain’s diverse communities see that we are all entitled to fairness and due process. 

Abbott is probably the most reviled woman in parliament, no matter what the Blairite ladies were saying about the misogyny they’d supposedly received from Corbyn’s supporters. The Tories and their lackey press hate her as a left-wing firebrand and an anti-racist activist. But here she shows herself cautious – she doesn’t actually call the deportations racist, although I’m sure that is very much how it appears to her as well as others. I’m also aware that most people don’t have much sympathy for the perpetrators of serious crimes. But that’s evidently what Johnson was hoping for when he selected these people for deportation. He hoped that their criminal records would mean that either no-one was bothered, or he could depend on the right-wing press on presenting it as good, British justice. And needless to say, those criticising it would once again be presented as foul liberals siding with crims because they just happen not to be White. But Abbott and the other MPs and campaigners are right. This looks very unjust. It does look like Windrush Mk 2. And if it goes ahead, it will mean that Johnson and the Tories will be bolder the next time about deporting people. And that will mean people, who are innocent any crime or serious wrongdoing, with the exception that they were born outside this country, or are the wrong colour.

And after Johnson finds out how far he can get away with victimising Blacks, he’ll start doing it to everyone, regardless of the colour of their skin. That’s another reason why he has to be stopped, apart from the obvious racism.

Spectator’s US Sister Giving Platform to Alt-Right Thug

January 30, 2020

The Spectator continues its goose-stepping to the beat of the Alt Right. Yesterday, Zelo Street put up a piece about the magazine’s American sister paper, Spectator USA, which had carried a piece by Douglas Murray attacking ‘cancel culture’. This is a term for the banning of an individual from the public sphere because of their views. My impression is that it’s usually done by the left against those they consider, rightly or wrongly, to be promoting intolerable racist, homophobic or misogynist views. Murray’s article was about how people could fight back against it. Murray told his readers that ”Cancel Culture’ was a horrible term because outside of a dictatorship nobody can be cancelled or otherwise ‘disappeared”. Many people, on the left as well as the right, object to the increasing climate of intolerance and the narrow limits now being imposed on what constitutes acceptable speech. However, instead of producing as an example of a victim of the Culture someone whose views, although controversial, could be justified, and whose silencing presented a wider threat to free speech everywhere, the magazine showed instead where its real political allegiances lay. They chose Gavin McInnes. That’s Gavin McInnes, as in the founder of the Proud Boys, a group of Alt Right thugs. McInnes gave his article the title “The mob and me: my life in the crosshairs”. He began it with “As someone who has been canceled, I can tell you this culture is far from over. Just because some millionaires were able to take a hit, it doesn’t mean there aren’t thousands of others annihilated by the mob rule of the radical left”, according to the Spectator USA’s twitter feed.

But it isn’t just the radical left that consider the Proud Boys a bunch of racist thugs. So does Wikipedia, whose article described them as a far right neo-Fascist organisation that was only open to White men and promoted political violence. Andy Campbell of Huffington Post USA tweeted that he was pretty sure McInnes got cancelled because he’s  running a Fascist street gang, many of whose members are in jail for assault, and got his career started by touting date rape for bros in the magazine Vice. Another tweeter, Jonathan Portes, quoted Campbell, adding that McInnes had also been canceled for putting up a video ’10 Things I Hate About Jews’, amongst other things. The Australian authorities also weren’t impressed with McInnes. He was due to tour the great island continent in the company of Stephen Yaxley Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson, and Alt Right ‘virtuous troll’ Milo Yiannopoulos. But McInnes was too much for them, and he was refused entry.

But as Portes remarked in his tweet, the Speccie’s editor, Fraser Nelson, and the chairman of their board, Andrew Neil, are perfectly comfortable putting him in their pages. Zelo Street concluded

‘I’m sure Fraser Nelson and his boss Andrew Neil will plead FREEZE PEACH in their defence. But hiring Gavin McInnes is not a good look for any mainstream publication.

Unless, of course, normalising bigotry and hatred is the game. I’ll just leave that one there.’

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/01/spectator-promotes-racist-thug.html

Of course, this isn’t anywhere near the first time they’ve published and promoted someone with racist views, who supported violent far right thugs. The Spectator has been publishing the Greek playboy, Taki Theodorocopoulos since at least the 90s. Not only has Taki published anti-Semitic comments, a little while ago he also wrote an article defending the Greek Golden Dawn neo-Nazi outfit as a just a group of good, patriotic Greek young men. Despite their savage assaults on the left and immigrants, including the murder of a journalist. They also decided to promote Tommy Robinson. When Zelo Street dared to put up a piece criticising that, Robinson did what he often does with his critics: he turned up on Tim’s doorstep in the middle of the night demanding a word.

Despite David Cameron’s boast that he was going to clear all the racists out of the Tory party, the Spectator is proof that he manifestly didn’t. It also shows the hypocrisy of the Tory media in that it’s acceptable for a Tory magazine to promote real members of the far right, while hurling fake accusations at a genuine anti-racist, Jeremy Corbyn, and the Labour party of anti-Semitism. The Spectator undoubtedly represents just the tip of a very ugly iceberg of barely submerged Fascism and vicious racism in the Tory party. And while Cancel Culture is a threat to free speech, so is giving space to Fascists like McInnes. Because they themselves are viciously intolerant of it in their opponents.

And the Spectator is normalising this dangerous, violent intolerance.

Collection of Science Fiction Stories Tackling Racism

January 18, 2020

Allen De Graeff, ed., Human And Other Beings (New York: Collier Books 1963).

Science Fiction, it has been observed, is more often about the times in which it was written than about the future. Quite often it’s been the ‘literature of warning’, in which the author has extrapolated what they feel to be an ominous trend in the present to show its possibilities for the future if left unchecked. Thus H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine presented a nightmarish far future in which capitalist elites and the working class had diverged into two separate species. The Eloi – descendants of the elite – were small, dreamy creatures, with no industry of their own. They were the food animals instead of the Morlocks, descendants of the working class, who had been forced into lives of underground toil by the late Victorian and Edwardian class system. Other SF stories have tackled the problems of overpopulation – John Brunner’s Stand On Zanzibar, the catastrophic over-reliance on mechanisation for, well, just about everything – E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops, or the horrifying potential of genetic engineering and mass psychological conditioning, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and so on. I borrowed this colllection of SF stories from a friend. It’s interesting because it uses the theme of contact with alien and other non-human intelligences to criticise and denounce the very real, present issue of racism. The book’s blurb begins with the quotation ‘”Everything that diminishes human dignity is evil,”‘, and continues

With this timeless truth as his theme, Editor Allen DeGraeff has collected a group of superbly told science fiction tales that support it with horror or humor. Other planets, other centuries, living beings of shapes and colors other than “human” are the imaginative ingredients. Shock, surprise, and sympathy are the emotions they act upon.

  • Would you join the Anti-Martian League? Or, like Sam Rosen, would you fight it?
  • Would the gentle Adaptoman – four arms, two brains, three eyes-arouse your hostility if he worked in your office?
  • Could you live as a Professional in a world of Categoried Classes if there were also people known as Wipers, Greasers, and Figgers?
  • Would you marry an Android, a person physically just like you, but artificially “Made in the U.S.A.”?
  • Would you mock or make a friend of Narli, the charming fur-bearing exchange professor from Mars?
  • Could you serve with a soldier Surrogate, a human being reclaimed from the dead with biological techniques of the future?

In settings ranging from the Second Battle of Saturn to Earth 2003 and shining blue-green globe Shaksembender, these authors portray the ideas of human dignity.

The authors, whose work is collected in the volume include some of SF great masters – Ray Bradbury, William Tenn, Leigh Brackett, Frederick Pohl, both alone and with his frequent collaborator, C.M. Kornbluth, Robert Sheckley and Eric Frank Russell.

The stories were written at a time when the Civil Rights movement was gaining power, although still bitterly opposed by a viciously racist, conservative state apparatus and politicians. A number of other SF writers were also using the genre to denounce racism. Sometimes that was through metaphor, such as in Cordwainer Smith’s ‘The Ballad of Lost C’Mell’. This tale’s titular heroine is a young woman genetically engineered from cats. She is a member of an oppressed servile class of similarly genetically engineered animals. These creatures are denied all rights by their human masters, and humanely killed by euthanasia is they are unable to perform their functions. Through telepathic contact with another such creature, a dove of immense intelligence and wisdom, C’Mell is able to persuade a human board of inquiry to grant her people human rights. Other SF writers tackled racism directly, such as Harry Harrison in his 1963 story, ‘Mute Milton’. This was his angry reaction to a comment by a redneck southern sheriff’s response to the news that Martin Luther King was highly respected in Sweden and Scandinavia, and had been awarded the Nobel prize. The sheriff responded that King might be popular in Norway, but back in his town he would be ‘just one more n***er’. Harrison’s story is about a Black American college professor, who comes to a southern town on his way to another university to present his invention: a radio that runs on gravity. A stranger to the racial repression of the Deep South, he falls into conversation in a bar with a wanted civil rights activist while waiting for his bus out of town. The Black activist tells him what it’s really like to be Black in the South. The sheriff and his goons burst into the bar looking for the activist. He escapes out the back. The sheriff and his men shoot, but miss him and shoot the professor instead. When one of the goons tells the sheriff that they’ve killed an innocent man, he just shrugs it off as ‘another n***er’.

Racism has since gone on to be a major topic of much SF. It’s been explored, for example, in Star Trek, both recently and in the original 60’s series. It also inspired Brian Aldiss 1970s short story, ‘Working in the Spaceship Yards’, published in Punch. This was about a man with a Black friend having to come to terms with his own feelings about androids as they started working alongside them in the spaceship yards of the title, and going out with human women. It’s a satire on the racial politics of the day, when many White Brits were, as now, concerned about Black and Asian immigrants taking their jobs. And specifically anti-Black racism was tackled in an episode of Dr. Who written by award-winning Black children’s writer, Mallory Blackman. In this tale the Doctor and her friends travel back to the American Deep South to make sure Rosa Parks makes her epochal bus journey against the machinations of White racist from the future determined to stop Blacks ever gaining their freedom.

Not everyone is satisfied with the metaphorical treatment of racism pursued by some SF. I can remember arguing with a friend at college about Star Trek, and how the series explored racial tension and prejudice through Mr Spock. Despite being half-human, Spock was still an outsider, distrusted by many of his human crewmates. My friend believed instead that the series should have been more explicit and specifically explored anti-Black racism. More recently there has been the rise of Black SF writers, who use their work to address issues of race and the Black experience. An anthology of their work was published back in the 1990s as Dark Matters, a pun on the dark matter of astronomy, that is supposed to give the universe its missing mass.

Even if not explicit, the metaphorical approach allows writers to say what otherwise may not be said, as in the former Soviet Union. There, writers such as the Strugatsky brothers used the ‘Aesopian’ mode – SF as fable – to attack conditions in the Communist state, which would have been subject to censorship and severe punishment if said openly. Over in the capitalist world, the political situation was much freer, but there were still limits to what could be portrayed. Star Trek featured the first interracial kiss, between Kirk and Lt. Uhuru in the episode ‘Plato’s Stepchildren’, but the network faced deep opposition from broadcasters in the Deep South. An indirect treatment also allows people to think about or accept ideas, which they would have rejected through a more straightforward treatment of the subject. Some readers may have been more receptive to anti-racist ideas if presented in the form of aliens than through an explicit treatment of colour prejudice against Blacks and other races.

This anthology, then, promises to be very interesting reading both through the tales themselves, and what they have to say about the times in which they were written. Times in which Science Fiction was joining the other voices denouncing racism and demanding equality and freedom for all, human and non-human. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trotsky on the Failure of Capitalism

January 16, 2020

I found this quote from Trotsky on how capitalism has now outlived its usefulness as a beneficial economic system in Isaac Deutscher and George Novack, The Age of Permanent Revolution: A Trotsky Anthology (New York: Dell 1964):

Capitalism has outlived itself as a world system. It has ceased to fulfill its essential function, the raising of the level of human power and human wealth. Humanity cannot remain stagnant at the level which it has reached. Only a powerful increase in productive force and a sound, planned, that is, socialist organisation of production and distribution can assure humanity – all humanity – of a decent standard of life and at the same time give it the precious feeling of freedom with respect to its own economy. (p. 363).

I’m not a fan of Trotsky. Despite the protestations to the contrary from the movement he founded, I think he was during his time as one of the leaders of the Russian Revolution and civil war ruthless and authoritarian. The Soviet Union under his leadership may not have been as massively murderous as Stalin’s regime, but it seems to me that it would still have been responsible for mass deaths and imprisonment on a huge scale.

He was also very wrong in his expectation of the collapse of capitalism and the outbreak of revolution in the Developed World. As an orthodox Marxist, he wanted to export the Communist revolution to the rest of Europe, and believed that it would be in the most developed countries of the capitalist West, England, France, and Germany, that revolution would also break out. He also confidently expected throughout his career the imminent collapse of capitalism. This didn’t happen, partly because of the reforms and welfare states established by reformist socialist parties like Labour in Britain and the SPD in Germany, which improved workers’ lives and opportunities, which thus allowed them to stimulate the capitalist economy as consumers and gave them a stake in preserving the system.

It also seems to me that capitalism is still actively creating wealth – the rich are still becoming massively richer – and it is benefiting those countries in the Developing World, which have adopted it, like China and the east Asian ‘tiger’ economies like South Korea.

But in the west neoliberalism, unregulated capitalism, certainly has failed. It hasn’t brought public services, like electricity, railways, and water supply the investment they need, and has been repeatedly shown to be far more inefficient in the provision of healthcare. And it is pushing more and more people into grinding poverty, so denying them the ability to play a role as active citizens about to make wide choices about the jobs they can take, what leisure activities they can choose, and the goods they can buy. At the moment the Tories are able to hide its colossal failure by hiding the mounting evidence and having their hacks in the press pump out favourable propaganda. But if the situation carries on as it is, sooner or later the mass poverty they’ve created will not be so easily hidden or blithely explained away or blamed on others – immigrants, the poor themselves, or the EU. You don’t have to be a Trotskyite to believe the following:

Unfettered capitalism is destroying Britain – get rid of it, and the Tories.