Posts Tagged ‘Polemic’

Je Suis Charlie: Cartoonists Tributes, and the Racist Backlash

January 9, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political has a further piece on the aftermath of the shocking massacre of the staff of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. In his article Charlie Hebdo update: French mosque attacked, Mike reports that three blank grenade were thrown at a Paris mosque, and shots were fired at nearby kebab stand. He says of this apparent reprisal against innocents, who had nothing to do with the attack, that

This is, of course, exactly what the terrorists wanted. Terrorists always want to set people against each other, for the wrong reasons. The vast majority of Muslims are likely to have been as horrified at the terror attack as everyone else – but what are they supposed to think, now that innocent Muslims are being attacked by idiots?

Here’s the real voice of Islam, in the words of Vox Political commenter ‘Nightentity’ yesterday: “Those that believe these so-called Imams are ignorant of their faith and will believe anything they hear that makes them seem intelligent and all knowing to the other ignorant [people].

“Terrorism is not Islamic, you don’t cause suffering to the aged, the weak and the innocent, you don’t hide behind masks and scarves, you stand like a man and fight a man’s battle. These terrorists are cowards and weaklings for they hide behind a faith that does not condone what they do.

“These terrorists are only out for power and control, they are not true Muslims in any sense of the word.” [Bolding mine]

This is entirely correct. One of the aims of terrorist organisations, from the Russian revolutionaries through to the IRA, is to provoke further reprisals and attacks against the people they claim to be defending by the authorities, in order to create further disaffection and radicalisation. I don’t believe for it was an accident that the savage attacks on Charlie Hebdo were carried out when they were. Germany this week has been torn by demonstration and counterdemonstration by and against Pegida, an anti-Islamic organisation. Pegida’s name is an acronym for ‘Patriotische Europaer Gegen der Islamisierung des Abendlands’, or ‘Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West’. And last week, in France itself, a Right-wing television host, Zammour, was finally sacked. Zammour seems to have been an extreme Right-wing bigot of the same stripe as Glen Beck, the American nutter, who declared that the young victims of Breivik’s massacre in Norway all deserved it because they were anti-Semitic Nazis. No, really, he did. Zammour was thrown out because he declared that France’s five million Muslims should all be deported. This ran chills down the spines of genuinely patriotic French people, as it recalled the deportation of the Jews to their extermination in the Nazi death camps under the Occupation.

The attacks on Charlie Hebdo were timed to coincide with this period of stress and potential conflict over Islam in Europe. I don’t think it is any other than an attempt to provoke further violence and civil war between Muslim and Non-Muslim.

Much of the anti-Western Islamic polemic is against Western racism, portraying White Europeans and Westerners as viciously racist, and contrasting this with the supposedly non-racist nature of Islam. It’s clearly aimed at disenfranchised non-White Muslims, who may themselves have been victims of racism. I reject its view of the West and western society. The attack on Charlie Hebdo, and the further threats of attacks and atrocities in the West by al-Qaeda and Isis, are designed to make White westerners behave according to the Islamist stereotype of them as racist bigots. That way, the Islamists can spuriously claim to have shown the true, racist nature of Western society and gather further support.

It’s obvious from this that, whatever we do, we should not let them. Non-Muslim and Muslim should stand together now to prevent further hatred and violence.

Mike’s article also has some of the visual tributes from fellow cartoonists to the murdered staff of Charlie Hebdo. Uderzo, who with Goscinny is the writer and creator of the world’s favourite ancient Gaul, shows Asterix and Obelix bowing in dignified respect. The two other cartoons, by Steve Bell and Lew Stringer, are a direct comment on the stupidity and cowardice of the attackers themselves.

Mike’s article is at It needs to be read.

Another Angry Voice on ‘How To Criticise the Tory Party’

October 4, 2013

The angry Yorkshireman yesterday posted a long article arguing against the use of scatology and vicious revenge fantasies to express outrage at the Tory party. The article is written in response to some of the obscene and violent comments that greeted some of his posts about the Conservatives on the Angry One’s Facebook page. His opposition to that style of argument and criticism is based not only on personal distaste for obscenity and violence, even if merely that of a wish-fulfilment fantasy. It is also based on the observation that the Conservatives will and do use such language against the Left to show how vicious and evil their opponents really are. ‘Ohhh, look at how vile all this is. You really don’t want to be associated with such vile, incoherent sadists do you?’

The Angry One write: ‘There is something obscene and insipid about the Conservative party. It is a trait that many people find difficult to put into words without resorting swearing or violent language. It is a sad state of affairs that in a country with a proud literary tradition, so many people these days seem unable to express a political opinion without resorting to simple-minded sub-literate abuse. It is not eloquent, and it serves no purpose at all to use female anatomy words to disparage the Tories, nor to idly fantasise about the horrible fate you wish to befall them. However, a large proportion of the public these days seem to have little else to offer, judging from the regularity of such comments on the Another Angry Voice Facebook page.

As regular readers know, I have a virtually unbreakable no-censorship policy, so I feel compelled to allow these kinds of comments to remain, after all, I can’t expect everyone to be as eloquent at expressing their anger as I attempt to achieve in my own political commentaries. However the regularity with which they appear really does annoy me.

It’s not so much the sweary comments that wind me up, it’s the ones that resort to violent language: the ones that fantasise about karma somehow repaying the most egregious Tories with some kind of horrific disease or torturous death. Implicitly violent language is either foolhardy or gratuitous. It is common knowledge that people have been locked up for the idiotic things they’ve written on the Internet. Under these circumstances it is extremely foolhardy to make casual threats of violence. If the violence is fantasised about rather than implicitly threatened, then it is gratuitous and counter-productive. Fantasising about the physical torture you would like for another human being to endure, achieves nothing but to demonstrate the warped nature of your own mind and create the impression amongst more moderate people that “lefties are sickos”.’

He’s right, unfortunately. According to this week’s Private Eye, Dominic Lawson pretty much tried this approach in his Daily Mail column on Monday. ‘” The tribal left is driven by hate, says the Mail’s “sparklingly incisive new voice”, Monday columnist Dominic Lawson. Lawson continued, ” It is one of the factors tending to distinguish the left in politics from the right, that the former frequently regard the latter as actually wicked, if not evil; whereas most Tories tend to regard the left as just misguided”.’ (Private Eye, 4th-17th October 2013, p.6). The Eye then goes on to show that he expressed the same comments back in the pages of the Sunday Times in November last year.

Now Lawson’s comments are clearly rich coming from the Daily Mail, whose invective against the Left clearly shows that they believe that anyone to the Left of Thatcher is not only wicked, but utterly depraved, and a menace to society and should be locked up at once. It’s also another example of the Right in this country taking their cue from Republican journalism across the Pond. The Right-wing blogs in America and Canada frequently compared the well-ordered behaviour of the Tea Party crowd with the criminality and thuggishness of some of the Occupy protesters. The point was that the Tea Party people were largely decent, civil types, who simply objected to increased taxation and government interference, while the Occupy people were vile thugs, who behaved like animals and who were a genuine threat to order and the public good.

Now I also feel that part of the problem is the impoverishment of the English language regarding the right epithets to describe the venal, vicious, cruel and sadistic. Historically there were a number of words that could be used to describe such people: knaves, scoundrels, rogues – which originally meant something like ‘mugger’ or ‘armed robber’ -blackguards, brutes, beasts, poltroons. The sense of some of these have become rather weaker. We now talk about ‘lovable rogues’, when in fact when they appeared in the 16th century there was little lovable about them. Other terms now sound either archaic, like scoundrels, knave or blackguard, as well as camp, like ‘brutes’ or ‘beasts’. Which leaves only the crude, sexual insults.

There’s also a class element in there as well. The people, who have always been at the sharp end of Tory victimisation have always been the poorest, and the least educated. Without being patronising and condescending, this also means people, who may lack the education or vocabulary to express their opposition to the Tories except in crude terms. Unfortunately, this does allow the Tories to once again portray the hoi polloi as crude louts, in the same way that their predecessors in the 19th century expressed horror at the grubby ‘democracy’, who toiled in the factories. Lawson and the other journalists have the advantage in that they are well-educated people, who are skilled in expressing themselves. This means that, as far as language goes, they have an advantage of the less articulate victims of Tory policies. This does not mean that the people they sneer at don’t have dignity, or that their own prose isn’t similarly vicious and spiteful. It merely means that they can dress up this spite in a better, more elevated vocabulary.

I also believe that some of the violent language and revenge fantasies against the Tories the Angry One has encountered comes from a sense of powerlessness. It’s the reaction of people unable to oppose directly the policies inflicted on them, and who feel victimised and helpless before a system that seems – and under the Tories, it certainly is – designed to crush them. When forced into such a situation of powerlessness, people frequently resort to scatology and violent fantasies as the only expression of defiance and opposition available to them.

Again, this contrasts with the Tories at Dominic Lawson’s level. Lawson and the Right-wing columnists like him are highly paid, and frequently from a very privileged background. They therefore have the benefit of a network of powerful friends, who can open doors for them, and a personal wealth, that means that they never have to suffer the hardships faced by the lower middle and lower classes. Lawson may worry about his share options, and rising school fees. He, along with his Tory fellows at the level, will never have to worry about making ends meet while unemployed, or fighting to pay the rent or the mortgage. Actually, he might have to worry about paying the mortgage on his second or third home, but he will never be faced with destitution that many of his party’s victims face. And this allows him and the other Tories a certain complacency. It’s why Matthew Freud infamously declared that the lower classes should be more willing to take risks as they have the least to lose. As rich as they are, they really can’t understand that the lower orders, when they take risks, risk losing absolutely everything.

As for the Tories not considering their opponents evil, or hating and despising them, I really don’t believe that for a single minute. But let’s give Lawson the benefit of the doubt, and say they don’t. I’d argue that actually, the anger and hatred felt by the Left is actually the correct response. The view that one’s political opponents may be misguided is good and noble. In the case of the Tories, it seems to come from real complacency. The people responsible for their vile policies are sufficiently far up the social hierarchy that they will never personally suffer, or even necessarily encounter, the poverty, hardship and desperation their policies will generate. Indeed, the economic and political models on which Neo-Liberalism is based view people in the abstract as social and economic units, rather than as living men and women with all their fears and hopes. They may know in the abstract that economic downturns will mean poverty and despair, but this is merely an intellectual understanding, not an emotional, visceral knowledge gained through personal, lived experience. For those, who daily have to deal with the real, human consequences of Tory policies, anger, hatred and a sense of how truly evil these policies are, are justified reactions.

Now in actual fact, I agree with the Angry One in his distaste for obscenity and violence. I think he’s right in that the level of argument needs to be raised, and the Tories countered with articulate argument, rather than scatological rants and denunciations. I’m just trying to explain why this is so, and show the opposing view to Lawson’s complacent statements about the Left’s supposed hatred.

Apart from this, the Angry One’s article is well worth reading because of the economists he recommends people should read. The Angry Yorkshireman has a truly impressive, profound understand of the economic issues. I have at times wished he would recommend some sources so that others could also cite these when arguing with the Tories. There’s always the problem that unless one cites chapter and verse, one’s political opponents will simply dismiss one’s arguments with the shrug of ‘Oh, you don’t understand economics, do you?’ or ‘this is simply more left-wing lies and ignorance’. The Angry One has this time listed a book, and two economics worth reading for their deconstruction of Neo-Liberalism, once again passing on his excellent and well-aimed armoury of fact and argument to his readers. The article’s at: