Posts Tagged ‘Rhetoric’

Sargon of Akkad Defends Internet Personality’s Approving Comments on the Holocaust

October 30, 2017

Well, not the real Sargon of Akkad, one of the great founders of Assyrian civilisation in ancient Mesopotamia, obviously. He’s been dead for about 3,000 years.

No, this Sargon of Akkad is a British vlogger from Swindon, real name Carl Benjamin, who was a major figure in the internet sceptics’ movement. Unfortunately, he moved from simply vlogging on subjects like atheism and scepticism, to becoming a mouthpiece for all manner of extreme right-wing views. I have a feeling he’s one of those people, who consider themselves politically moderate, while pushing all manner of racist, misogynist and generally politically extremely illiberal bilge. I think he’s turned up recently to at least one Alt Right or manospherian conferences.

In this very short little video, Kevin Logan calls him out for his defence of some truly astonishingly horrific comments by another right-wing blogger, Mouthy Buddha. Mouthy Buddha claimed that Hitler was very lenient with the Jews in the Holocaust, and ‘was a decent man’. And, oh yes, that the Jews got what they wanted after the war – a Jewish homeland – because of the Shoah.

Sargon goes on to say that Mouthy Buddha ‘did nothing wrong’ and that he was ‘steel-manning’ the argument for the Holocaust. Ominously, he goes on to say that he intends to do a series on ‘the Jewish question’.

Logan has responded by intercutting Sargon’s comments with footage from Mouthy Buddha himself, and a film clip of a bloke on a train saying exactly what these views about the Holocaust are: ‘Bullsh*t’.

He ends by putting up in front of Sargon’s face the words ‘You F***ing Pr*ck!’

Sorry for the language, peeps, but I think that the obscenity is entirely justified in the context of rebutting an obscene view. And the attitude that Hitler was somehow humane in his maltreatment of the Jews is far more obscene than any foul language or profanity.

The ‘steel-manning’ Sargon refers to is supposedly a rhetorical device in which one tries to undermine one’s opponent’s argument by putting in even stronger terms, as opposed to ‘straw-manning’, which is deliberately misstating it in far weaker terms. I hadn’t heard of ‘steel-manning’ before, and I don’t think many other people have either. One of the commenters on Logan’s video on YouTube states that it was thunk up by an internet group, and isn’t recognised by professional philosophers and scholars of logic and rhetoric.

There was nothing humane or restrained about the Nazis’ brutalisation of the Jews. Nothing at all. And the evidence for their extreme cruelty is so widespread and well-known that it isn’t necessary to provide any sources for it. All you have to do is go and look at any of the books on the Third Reich or the Holocaust by a mainstream publisher to see for yourself how horrific the Holocaust was.

As for the ‘Jews’ getting what they wanted from the Holocaust in the foundation of Israel as an independent state three years after Nazi Germany’s defeat, in 1948, it’s true that some Zionist groups and organisations were certainly more than happy to collaborate with the Nazis in the hope of creating further Jewish emigration to Palestine, such as during the brief Ha’avara agreement and the Sterngang. That’s established historical fact. It’s acknowledge by Zionist historians, like David Cesarani. It is only apparently denied by some Zionist groups, who attempt to defend themselves from the charge of collaboration by smearing those, who raise the issue of ‘anti-Semites’.

However, the Zionists were only one section of the Jewish community. The vast majority of Jews wanted to remain in the countries of their birth, as fellow citizens with the same rights and privileges as their gentile fellow countrymen. And they fought hard and bitterly against the Nazis and the other Fascist, anti-Semitic regimes. Those Zionists, who collaborated with the Nazis are entirely unrepresentative of the Jewish people as a whole. This has been pointed out again and again by anti-Zionists, including self-respecting Jewish scholars and activists like Tony Greenstein.

But Israel as a settler colony for European Jews was founded before the Holocaust, after Britain obtained control of Palestine during the period of the Mandate granted by the League of Nations. The followed the Balfour Declaration, in which the British Foreign Minister, Arthur Balfour, pledged that the British Empire would support a Jewish state in the area.

So Mouthy Buddha’s very, very wrong there. Norman Finkelstein and other anti-Zionist writers have pointed out how the Holocaust has been exploited by Israel and its supporters to garner international support, and that, quite understandably, Jewish emigration to Palestine did increase after the War. But reputable historians have also pointed out that during the War comparatively few Jews went to Palestine. The majority fled elsewhere, particularly to America.

As for writing blog posts about ‘the Jewish Question’, there is no question at all about the Holocaust. I’ve already blogged about how an American judge in California officially ruled that the evidence for the Holocaust was so plentiful that it could not reasonably be doubted. The same should go for the brutality of the Nazis and their collaborators, who instituted and conducted it.

It is, however, entirely fair and reasonable to discuss the historical complicity of various Zionist groups and individual Zionists, who hoped to exploit Nazi and anti-Semitic persecution generally to support their political goals of an independent Jewish homeland in Palestine, but this is very different from claiming that the Jews as a whole were somehow complicit in their own persecution. And it is this latter claim Mouthy Buddha has apparently made here, and it can rightly be attacked as anti-Semitic.

I am absolutely astonished that anyone outside of the various Nazi groups and their own twisted, ahistorical worldview, could ever make those comments, and if they were intended as a rhetorical tactic, it was certainly a poor one. Not least because of the way such comments and will be used by the extreme Right to encourage support. But that’s if Mouthy Buddha’s remarks were simply a piece of ill-judged rhetoric as Sargon says. But from the looks of it, it doesn’t seem that it was. Either way, Sargon is wrong about Mouthy Buddha having done nothing wrong. His comments were abhorrent and dangerous, and he should never have made them. The Alt Right have risen to prominence through their use of the internet. They and their vile views should be attacked and refuted at every turn, not given more ammunition to assault democracy and decency.

Lobster on the Rhetorical Similarities between Tony Blair and Oswald Mosley

August 21, 2016

The Blairites have been falsely accusing anyone they can of being an anti-Semite. Most of those smeared have been so libelled simply because they were opponents of Israel’s oppression and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. The victims of this disgraceful smear, as I have pointed out time and again, include Jews and anti-racist activists like Tony Greenstein, Rachel Nesbitt, Jackie Walker and Ken Livingstone. One of the most disgusting examples of this was last weekend, when Mark Foster, a Jewish donor to Labour, denounced Momentum and the supporters of Jeremy Corbyn as Nazi ‘stormtroopers’.

This is more than a little hypocritical, considering the Israel lobby’s own attempts render Israel’s racist policies against the indigenous Arab population off-limits through the abuse of such accusations, and the appalling contempt the founders of the state of Israel had for Arab Jews and European Jews, who wished to stay in their traditional European homelands. Chaim Weizmann and David Ben Gurion wished to see increased Nazi persecution of European Jews during the Second World War, in order to encourage them to emigrate to Israel. One of the two even said that if there was a choice, between all of the Jews in Europe emigrating to Britain, and being saved, or half of the European Jewish population emigrating to Israel, while the other half were murdered by the Nazis, he’d prefer the latter.

They considered the Mizrahim, Arab Jews, culturally inferior, and only took them in because there was a shortage of labour after their expulsion of the Palestinians. They were segregated, given the lowest-paid and most menial of jobs to perform, and taught in special schools in order to remove any trace of their inferior Arab culture. This included the theft of Arab Jewish children from their parents, who were then given to childless European Jewish couples to bring up.

Lobster has also been a persistent critic of Tony Blair and New Labour. It has also not been shy of pointing out the similarity between Blair and the Nazis. For example, Blair’s warmongering in Iraq is exactly the same war crime committed by the Nazi leader Ribbentrop. And Blair’s rhetoric was also very close to that used by Oswald Mosley when he was the leader of the British Union of Fascists. So close is this resemblance that Robert Henderson published an article on the similarity, ‘New Labour, New Fascism?’ in issue 38 of the magazine, for Winter 1999. He opened with the statement

Tony Blair’s rhetoric is heavily if unconsciously littered with fascist buzz words: NATION, NEW, RENEWAL and so on. But there is a greater similarity than single words: Blair frequently expresses ideas which have a remarkable similarity to those of Oswald Mosley. To demonstrate this, I have compiled a series of quotes from Blair and Mosley.

He then provides a series of quotes, and challenges the reader to decide which is Blair and which is Mosley. There was a key at the bottom of the article giving the answers. All the quotes from Mosley were taken from Eugene Weber’s Varieties of Fascism, shortened to VoF. Those from Blair came from Iain Dale’s, The Blair Necessities, and were abbreviated to BN.

Here are the quotes. See how you do. There is obviously no prize, but I feel that if there was one, it should consist of a speech in the winner’s favour by Tom Mann at the Nuremberg Stadium.

1. It combines the dynamic urge to change and progress, with the authority, the discipline and the order without which nothing great can be achieved.

2. It is largely from family discipline that social discipline and a sense of responsibility is learnt.

3. Our challenge to be a young country is not just economic, it is a social and moral challenge.

4. I believe we have broken through the traditional barriers of right and left; they were are developing a new radical economic approach for the left and centre.

5. Above all it is a realistic creed. It has no use for immortal princip0les in relation to the facts of bread-and-butter; and it despises the windy rhetoric which ascribes importance to mere formula.

6. One Britain. That is the patriotism for the future.

7. The steel creed of an iron age, it cuts through the verbiage of illusion to the achievement of a new reality…

8. It is no good waving the fabric of our flag when you have spent the last sixteen years tearing apart the fabric of our nation.

9. A young country that wants to be a strong country cannot be morally neutral about the family.

10. We have in unison in our case the economic facts and the spiritual tendencies of our age…

11. We need a new social reality.

12. We seek to establish a new ideal of public service, and a new authority based on merit.

13. It must be absolutely clear to the British people that we are apolitical arm of no one other than the British people themselves.

14. The mild tinkering with the economy proposed by the Social Democrats nowhere near measures up to the problem. A massive reconstruction of industry is needed… The resources required to reconstruct manufacturing industry call for enormous state guidance and intervention.

15. We will protect British industry against unfair foreign competition.

16. There is nothing odd about subsidizing an industry.

17. It is true that within the old parties and even within the old parliament are many young men whose real place is with us and who sympathise with our ieas. The real political division of the past decade has not been a division of parties, but a division of generations.

18. The market collapsed: its guardians, the City whizz-kids with salaries fractionally less than their greed, now seem not just morally dubious, but incompetent. They failed miserably, proving themselves ut5terly unfit to have such power.

19. Politically, the fall-out from the events of the past two weeks will be immense. There will be few politicians standing for election next time on a budget advocating ‘free markets’.

20. The new establishment is not a meritocracy, but a power elite of money-shifters, middle men and speculators… people whose self-interest will always come before the national or the public interest.

21. The case advanced in these pages covers, not only a new political policy, but also a new conception of life. In our view, these purposes can only be achieved by the creation of a modern movement invading every sphere of national life.

22. We will speak up for a country that knows the good sense of a public industry in public hands.

23. A nation at work, not on benefit. That is our pledge.

24. Social aims without economic means are empty wishes. By uniting the two we can build a better future for all of our people.

25. In our project of national renewal, education renewal must be at the forefront. Our watchwords will be aspiration, opportunity and achievement.

26.I want a negotiated settlement and I believe that given the starkness of the military options we need to compromise on certain things.

27. It is the primary responsibility of any government to defend the country. That much is obvious. But my contention here is that a strong defence capability is an essential part of Britain’s foreign policy.

28. To change our country, we must show that we have the courage to change ourselves.

29. I think that you should always put the national interest before any section of interest in your party.

30. Our task now is nothing less than the rebirth of our nation. A new Britain. National renewal…The task of building new Britain now to come.

31. We ask them (our supporters) to rewrite the greatest pages of British History by finding for the spirit of their age its highest mission in these islands.

32. Without an active interventionist industrial policy… Britain faces the future of having to compete on dangerously unequal terms.

33. [We aim to] convert the existing chaotic survival of laissez-faire liberalism into a planned economy serving the needs of the State as a whole.

Key

1. VoF p. 170.
2. BN p. 18 1993
3. BN p. 19 1995
4. BN p. 14 1996
5 VoF p. 170.
6. BN p. 13 1996
7. VoF p. 171
8 Bn p. 13 1996
9. BN p. 12 1995
10. VoF p.172.
11. BN p. 19 1996
12. VoF. p. 111.
13. BN p. 28 1996
14. BN p. 39 1982
15. BN p. 39 1983
16. BN p. 40 1983
17. VoF p. 172
18. BN p. 41 1987.
19. BN p. 41 1987.
20. BN p. 42 1994
21. VoF p. 171.
22 BN p. 521988.
23. BN p. 65 1995.
24. BN p. 65 1995
25. BN p. 69 1994
26. BN p. 89 1982
27. BN p. 90 1997
28. BN p. 94 1993
29. BN. p. 98 1996
30. BN p. 106 1995
31. VoF p. 175.
32. BN p. 57 1988
33. VoF p. 116.

‘Me Ne Frego’, Fascism, Trump and Vulgarity

March 9, 2016

There was a bit of mild controversy a few days ago about the low tone the rivalry between Trump and his rival for the presidential nomination, Marco Rubio. Rubio had made a speech stating that while Trump was a big man, about 6’2″, he had small hands. He then implied that another part of Trump’s anatomy was similarly petite, adding, ‘And you know what they say about men with small hands.’ Trump responded at one of his rallies a day or so later by claiming that he was very well endowed in a certain direction.

This had caused something of a stir, with Bill O’Reilly talking on Fox News about whether or not this piece of vulgarity was justified, or if it had been too crude for public taste. O’Reilly himself didn’t think so. His partner in the debate did.

Actually, this seems to me to be par for the course for Trump. Trump’s rhetoric is violent, full of put-downs, threats and vitriolic attacks on his opponents. Trevor Noah on the Daily Show pointed out how similar his attitudes as expressed in his rhetoric were to Fascism. It occurs to me that his vulgarity is another aspect of this. One of the formative elements in Mussolini’s Fascist movement were the arditi, elite Italian soldiers with a reputation for reckless bravery. The name means something like ‘Daredevils’. After the First World War, these and other discontented ex-servicemen, unable to adjust to civilian life, formed bands to beat their political opponents. And they had a slogan, ‘Me Ne Frego’, which means, ‘I don’t give a damn.’

Trump doesn’t just share the Fascists racial and nationalistic intolerance, or their taste for violence. He also has their crudity and vulgarity. And unfortunately, it seems to be winning him votes.

Secular Talk: This Time It’s Personal: Marco Rubio Mocks Trump for Having Small Penis

March 2, 2016

Marco Rubio, Trump’s rival for the Republican nomination, has finally taken off the gloves. Deep discussions about matters of economics and politics haven’t worked to dent Trump’s popularity, so the Marcobot has finally gone and stooped below the belt. In this clip, he makes several ad hominem remarks about the Generalissimo of Rednecksville. Trump has commented on how Rubio is always sweating, so Rubio hits back with the comment that Trump can’t sweat, because of all the fake tan he’s put on. ‘Trump’s goal is to make us orange’. Trump has also sneered at Rubio for his lack of height, calling him little Marco. Rubio says this is all right, as Trump is a tall man – 6’2″. But according to Rubio, Donald Trump only has 5’2″ hands. Small hands. ‘And you know what they say about men with small hands. He’s dishonest.’

Kulinski says that some people have been put off by this new, personal assault on Trump and the apparent implication that Trump is somewhat less than impressive in the downstairs department. Kulinski states he’s not one of them. He feels that this earthy rhetoric is better than the very affected, robotic ‘fake’ speech Rubio had adopted earlier. It’s appropriate. When Trump turned up, many people, including Kulinski himself, didn’t think that Trump would last very long, because he was a reality show clown. Kulinski admits that he was wrong, but insists that Rubio’s new rhetorical style is right, as Trump is a reality show clown. He notes that many of the other contenders were so convinced that Trump would easily be defeated, that they didn’t bother to do basic research to find his weakness. Like the man went bankrupt four times. Or that when he talks about getting American jobs back from China, he’s a hypocrite, as his ties are made there.

Unfortunately, this is going to be a case of two little, too late. Trump is set either to win across the board, or seven states out of eight on this Super Tuesday. And if that happens, it’s game over.

Secular Talk on Trump’s Vagueness as Successful Rhetorical Strategy

February 20, 2016

This is a very interesting piece from Secular Talk, in which Kyle Kulinski discusses a piece in Reuters analysing the immense appeal of what looks like Trump’s poor rhetorical ability. Trump contradicts himself, he cuts himself off early, and he uses vague words instead of better, more descriptive vocabulary. The article cites as an example a sentence from Trump’s speech demanding that Muslims should be stopped from entering America. He stated ‘We need to do something, because something’s going on’. Or something like that.

Now instead of being the mark of a poor speaker, it’s actually a very persuasive rhetorical tactic with its own technical term: enthememe. It’s convincing because it makes the orators hearers persuade themselves by filling in the blanks in the speech with what they want to hear. And Trump throws contradictory statements about policy issues out willy-nilly. At one point, Trump will state he supports a single-payer healthcare system, or some form which supports the poorest in society. He will then go on to say that he wants more capitalism in healthcare, and for people to be able to buy health insurance over state boundaries. Complete contradiction.

It’s the same in Iraq. At one point he’s for going into the country and killing not only ISIS, but their wives and children. It’s a completely criminal attitude, as Kulinski points out. Then he says something completely contradictory, like America should Putin handle the situation, and America should concentrate on infrastructure.

Everyone listening to him comes away convinced that he stands for what they want. If they want single payer health care, they’re convinced that Trump wants it too. If they want free enterprise capitalism, they’re convinced Trump will give cheaper health care through free enterprise. And the same with Iraq.

Additionally, Trump convinces because he is aggressive, confident, and claims to be outside the system. He isn’t. He tried to get funding from the same corporate donors as the rest of the Republicans, and it was only when they turned him down that he resorted to funding himself. But it’s been an immense boost to his appeal.

Kulinski points out that this marks a change in what the public wants from politicians and their rhetoric. Trump and Sanders, although polar opposites, are winning over large numbers of the American public, because they both speak as if they’re off-script. Which to an extent they are. Kulinski states that he doesn’t know where this preference comes from, but he finds it more interesting on his programme when he’s speaking ex tempore on the show, and not from a piece he’s written earlier. This contrasts with some of the Republican candidates, like the Marcobot, Marco Rubio, where their speech is so scripted they may as well be reading it off a screen in their contact lenses. Their delivery is so scripted and stereotypically that of a politician, that it repels voters.

And now back to Hitler and Godwin’s Law. I’ve been saying all along that Trump’s vagueness and his multiple contradictions on policy are the same rhetorical strategies that Hitler used to appeal to different groups in Germany. In rural areas, where there was a hatred of Jews, he played up the anti-Semitism. In industrial areas, he stressed anti-capitalism. And when he was courting big business, he claimed that Nazism was also pro-business, and would defend the big combines from Socialism and Communism.

Also, Hitler continued to speak in the tones of someone from the Austrian lower middle classes. He didn’t use the polished, educated register of the upper classes. And so it gave the impression that he truly was ‘a man of the people’. As for his rhetoric, it’s been criticised for being convoluted, verbose and muddled. Yet he used striking imagery and very carefully noted what went down well and what didn’t with his audience. Vagueness and an apparently poor rhetorical style – though definitely not poor delivery – were part of Hitler’s appeal.

Just as they’re part of Trump’s. And like Hitler, Trump is another Fascist, who aims at further persecution and marginalisation of America’s ethnic minorities. His attacks on Mexicans and Muslims come dangerously close to Hitler’s policies at the start of the Third Reich, before he launched the Holocaust. For the sake of human life and decency, he must be stopped.

Shop Charges Tory Customers Extra

May 12, 2015

This is another excellent little pic I found over on the SlatUKIP Facebook page.

Tory Shop Tax

If you can’t read it, the text says

Important Notice

Please could anyone who voted Conservative please identify themselves on entering my shop as I will be happy to apply a 10 % ‘Tory Tax’ on your plants. I’m sure as someone who has opted to support a party of elitist, self-serving types, that you understand that this is one of the many ‘tough’ decisions that I need to make to ‘balance the books’ under your preferred government.

Don’t be a shy Tory! Oh, and UKIP voters, please shop elsewhere.

Thanks, Matt.

It’s a great piece of satire, skewering all the Tory rhetoric of making ‘tough’ decisions to ‘balance the books’.

It also bears out a piece Tom Pride put up last week, shortly before he decided to take a break from blogging. Most small businessmen don’t vote Tory, as the Thatcherites would like us to believe. They support Labour.

Arkwright has crossed the electoral floor, so to speak, and now sees the threat to the s-s-small businessman as coming from big business, rather than organised Labour and the unions.

And so falls another Thatcherite myth, of Maggie as the workers’ friend, living above her father’s shop. She was never their friend, and the small businessmen in whose interest she claimed to champion, have turned their back on her after being thoroughly betrayed and ground down by her party of the rich and big business.