Posts Tagged ‘The News’

The Young Turks on the Republicans’ Hatred of College Education

August 20, 2017

‘Do I detect an air of anti-intellectualism in this country? Came in about four years ago.’

-Bill Hicks, American comic, speaking four years after the election of Ronald Reagan.

Earlier today I posted a piece commenting on clip from Sam Seder’s Majority Report, about Rush Limbaugh’s mindlessly stupid ridiculing of NASA’s announcement that they may have discovered flowing water on Mars. Limbaugh’s a right-wing radio host, who’s been fouling the airwaves with his views about liberals, socialists, communists, gays, feminists, anti-racism activists and so on since the 1980s. He sneered at NASA’s announcement because – wait for it – the agency was part of a ‘leftist’ plot to promote global warming!

Not only does he not understand the science, nor the reality of global warming, I don’t think he knows anything about NASA. I know quite a few people, who are fans of space exploration and research from across the political spectrum, including Conservatives. None of them have ever considered that the space agency was ‘left-wing’, although some of its leading scientists and advocates, like Carl Sagan, were. And the accusation that the agency’s data on global warming is faked for political purposes is risible.

But this shows the contempt Limbaugh has for science, and for education generally.

Florence, one of the many great commenters on this blog, has a background in microbiology and has been very interested in the question of life in space. She has posted a long comment to my piece. I recommend that you read all of it. But the end is particularly important, as she wonders how we got to this point where science is so despised.

And of course, back to NASA. I was fairly sure the alt-idiocy had already “proven” it was part of the deep state and the heart of black ops and skunk works and a branch of the CIA. These latest revelations only serve, as you say, to illustrate the total lack of education to an acceptable level in this day and age, more worryingly the lack of scientists in government in the USA and across the world. The charge against the scientific community lead by Trump and his “business men” ilk, with the violent and thuggish self styled fascist enforcers and militias coming out the woodwork in the last year, make the premise of the Handmaids Tale seem worryingly prophetic. How did this happen?

I think it’s part of a general distrust of intellectuals in American culture, which has increased massively amongst Republicans in recent years. In the piece below, The Young Turks discuss the finding that a majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning people distrust college education. They also note that they don’t just look down on higher education. They also hate and distrust the media and science. 58 per cent of Republicans and Republican supporters state that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country, compared to 45 per cent a year ago, in 2016.

Cenk Uygur suggests that part of this is the use of propaganda by the party’s leaders. Part of the problem is that Conservatives tend to be more authoritarian than left-wingers. Thus, they’re more likely to follow the opinions of their leaders, and in the case of the Republican party, these leaders despise higher education.

Ana Kasparian, his co-host, who I believe teaches political science herself, argues that it’s because the Republicans want to keep you stupid. They’re trying to privatize education, and get children instead to attend private schools through voucher schemes, where the normal educational standards do not apply. There’s more than an element of hypocrisy in this. Those public figures trying to destroy the American educational system and minimize the benefits of higher education are themselves highly educated. Many of them have gone to Ivy League universities. Anne Coulter is one example. In her book, which Kasparian laments she has had to read, ’cause she’s got to debate her, Coulter states that the only purpose of college education is to produce ‘social justice warriors’. Yet this woman went to Cornel. Yet education is one of the great indicators of how well an individual will do in the future. And as she points out, it also protects you from scams.

Yet the Republicans themselves are also slightly divided on the issue of the benefits of higher education. 46 per cent of Republicans earning less than $30,000 a year say that college has a beneficial effect on how well you do. This declines for those earning over $30,000 all the way down to 32 per cent.

Uygur and Kasparian admit that there are caveats and qualifications to this issue. Higher education has a down side, in that students are saddled with an immense amount of debt. This needs to be reformed. But Republicans don’t see college as a negative because they feel sorry for the students burdened with this debt. No, they want to keep people stupid and misinformed, so they don’t climb the economic ladder and they can’t fill them with some of the nonsense they believe.

Uygur concludes ‘So don’t go to university, because if you go to a real university, you might not go to a Trump university, and that would be bad for Trump.’

Once again, this is an American issue that applies almost in toto to Britain. Continental visitors and emigrants to Britain have commented on how anti-intellectual British society is. And this anti-intellectualism is again part of British Conservatism as well. Way back in the 1980s Private Eye reviewed a book on Conservative by the right-wing British philosopher, Roger Scruton. Scruton declared that Conservativism wasn’t an intellectual force, but was largely unspoken, and based on the power of tradition. For which the reviewer thanked Scruton for being honest about how anti-intellectual it was. Intellectuals and science are distrusted, because many of their findings contradict or cast doubt on traditional attitudes. For example, feminism attacks traditional notions of gender roles. Black and Asian intellectuals and activist have also undermined commonly held racial assumptions about White superiority and the subordinate role of their ethnic groups. Left-wing historians and political scientists have also challenged the class basis of western, including American and British society, as well as the supposed beneficial nature of western imperialism.

Some of the Republican distrust of science comes from Biblical literalism. The findings of geology and cosmology contradict a literal reading of the creation of the world in Genesis. That said, one study found that the people, who had the greatest faith in science were actually Creationists.

The Republicans and some of their British counterparts, like Nigel Lawson, also deny the reality of global warming. Hence Trump’s decision to close down that part of the federal government that researches and publishes studies of climate change and the pollution and decline of America’s epic natural beauty. It’s why Theresa May and Dave Cameron get annoyed whenever anyone shows how terrible fracking is for local people and the environment.

Science can be particularly difficult for the layperson to understand. It can involve very careful statistical analysis of complex data. And some of the raw phenomena are extremely weird. Quantum physics is a case in point. The world of subatomic particles is contradictory and very different from the macroscopic, everyday world. Subatomic particles dart into and out of existence in the quantum foam at the very lowest layer of matter. Light can be simultaneously a wave and a particle. Particles may be in two places at once, under their position is recorded by an observer. They can also move between one place in the atom to another without physically crossing the space in between. And two entangled atoms can behave as one, even though they may be separated by light years. It’s so bizarre that the scientists studying it have said that ‘you don’t understand it. You just get used to it.’

Also, some of the pronouncements made by intellectuals themselves have given critics ample ammunition. Like the statement by one professor a few years ago that snowmen were racist and sexist. Or the £20,000 in grant one scientist received for researching the terribly important issue of why cornflakes get soggy when you pour milk on them.

There’s also the problem that scientific opinion also keeps changing on medical matters. Every so often researchers discover that certain foods are harmful for you. On the other hand, certain others are beneficial. Only for these opinions to be revised a few years later.

But the nature of science is that it is a process, not a set body of knowledge, and that it’s conclusions and statements may be revised as and when later discoveries are made. It’s why no-one now believes that an immaterial fluid – the ether – permeates the universe, with atoms only whirlpools in it, as they did over a century or so ago.

And so the right-wing press, like the Scum all the way up to the Torygraph, and particularly the Daily Heil, will publish endless numbers of articles attacking ‘left-wing’ intellectuals. Paul Johnson, the Conservative pundit, who used to write for the Daily Mail and Spectator, amongst other rags, wrote a book on them. Entitled Intellectuals, Johnson used it to explore what right intellectuals had to tell us what was right and how to order our lives. Private Eye also reviewed this as well. You will not be surprised to read that most of the intellectuals Johnson wrote about were left-wing, and many of them had shabby personal lives. Karl Marx is one example. Others were gay, or otherwise had colourful sexual tastes, like Kenneth Tynan, who apparently was into S&M.

But none of this actually refutes the value of their work, which has to be judged on other terms. Marx’s own bad behavior as a man doesn’t contradict his philosophical and economic theories any more than Alan Turing’s homosexuality refutes his work on mathematics and computers. But this doesn’t stop Johnson trying to tell you that their own bad behavior disqualifies intellectuals from having the right to explore how society may be improved. An attitude that, incidentally, is apparently shared by that other Johnson, Boris. This should rule Boris out as well as a serious politician, if true.

In the meantime, don’t let the Tories and Republicans run down public education. And stick up for proper intellectuals and intellectual discourse. As someone once said, ‘Eggheads of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your brains.’

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Vox Political on Yet Another Anti-Semitism Smear against Jackie Walker

September 29, 2016

I was starting to think that maybe I wouldn’t have to write many more pieces about the anti-Semitism allegations in the Labour party after my last post, which reported that Mike has his book out, The Livingstone Presumption, which soundly refutes them. In the same piece in which he announces the publication of his book, Mike also discusses an article by Michael Segalov, who roundly denied that Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters were anti-Semites. Mr Segalov pointed out that the people, who put their lives and their bodies on the line time and again to protect Jews and their religion, were left-wingers, including Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters. He made the point that the real anti-Semites were the Nazis, who have no qualms of spouting their filth and making the Nazi salute right in your face. Smearing genuine anti-racists like Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters as anti-Semites devalues the word and its ability to protect Jews from those, who really wish them harm.

Jeremy Corbyn and Momentum against Real Nazism

This is all entirely correct. As I blogged yesterday, it’s been my experience too that the people, who took ant-racism very seriously and went on the marches and demos against racist and Nazi organisations were left-wingers like Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters in Momentum. And there are all too genuine Nazi organisations in Britain today. One is National Action, which openly spouts conspiracist nonsense about the Jews trying to destroy the White race using Blacks, and whose members will make the Nazi salute and chant ‘Sieg heil!’ during their rallies. There’s also a miniscule National Socialist Party, who are exactly what their name suggests they are: Nazis. A few years ago there was a furore about their meeting in a pub near Bristol. Somehow the organisation had managed to book it to hold a meeting. I think they used a false name. On the day, they were there in full Nazi regalia, complete with flags. The neighbours were disgusted, properly made complaints, and the whole incident ended up on the local news. This included photos and footage of the event, showing the flags. And they were the proper, vile thing.

Jackie Walker Accused Yet Again of Anti-Semitism

Unfortunately, members of the Blairite Labour party hierarchy don’t seem to have got the message that Momentum and its members aren’t anti-Semites, and that the real threat is showing itself quite openly in the shape of National Action and the National Socialist Party. According to a story in today’s Guardian, Jackie Walker, the vice-chair of Momentum has faced calls to resign after she made ‘insensitive’ comments at a Labour party training day on anti-Semitism. She ‘incorrectly’ criticised Holocaust Memorial Day for commemorating only Jews, and is quoted as saying

“In terms of Holocaust day, wouldn’t it be wonderful if Holocaust day was open to all people who experienced holocaust?”

She also took issue with the definition of anti-Semitism used at the training day, and is also accused of questioning the need for Jewish organisations, including schools to have so much security to protect them from attack. Walker has made a statement denying she said this, and apologising for any offence she might have given.

Definitions of Anti-Semitism

Mike in his comments on the case begins by stating that he also appeared at an event marking Holocaust Memorial Day, where he read a piece about the Shoah by the German playwright Peter Weiss. He states he makes an attempt at defining anti-Semitism in his book, but also gives a 7-point definition of it by David Schneider. Roughly summed up, this says that you might by an anti-Semite if you don’t make a distinction between Jews and Israel, hold Jews responsible for all the atrocities committed by Israel unless they explicitly say otherwise, and believe in the stupid conspiracy theories about the Jews having control of capitalism, the government and the BBC in order to control the world. Mr Schneider says of the latter that if they have control of the Beeb, no-one’s yet told him. Which makes me wonder if David Schneider is the actor and comedian, who has been a frequent star on a number of shows, such as the spoof news programme, The Day Today, and Alan Partridge, where he played the TV host’s boss.

Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone Not Anti-Semites

Mike also makes the point that Naz Shah’s suspension has been lifted, and only one of the tweets on which the accusation against her were made could reasonably be construed as anti-Semitic. As for Red Ken, they are based on ignorance of history and taking the original comments out of context. He also makes the point that Rhea Wolfson had her bid to join the NEC voted down by her constituency Labour party by Jim Murphy, because she was a member of Momentum, who were anti-Semites. Mike makes the point that it’s amazing how people could believe that an organisation full of anti-Semites would want to see Mrs Wolfson, a Jew, promoted to the party’s governing body.

Mike’s absolutely right. They wouldn’t. The real, Nazi anti-Semites are all about keeping Jews as far away from power as possible, following all that rubbish they believe of the Jewish conspiracy to destroy the Aryan race.

Wilhelm Marr and Anti-Semitism

If you want a short definition of anti-Semitism, try the one from the person, who first coined the term in the 19th century, Wilhelm Marr. Marr was an anti-Semite, and the founder of the Bund der Antisemiten, the League of Anti-Semites, if I recall correctly. He defined anti-Semitism as the hatred of Jews simply for being Jews, regardless of Judaism as a religion. The stupid conspiracy theories that have grown up around them are basically an elaboration of that, roughly based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious forgery drawn up by the Tsarist secret police, the Okhrana, to persuade Nicholas II to persecute the Jews more savagely in the Russian Empire.

Why Security in Britain?

Mike also makes the point that the Groan’s article does give the definition of anti-Semitism that was made at the event. He also says he is confused about the need for Jewish organisations here to have high security, as the reason given was the example of the attack in Toulouse. This is in France, and the French government has been criticised for failing to protect its citizens, not just Jews. And he also makes another, very good point, that Mrs Walker’s accusers have also shown their insensitivity in not considering the harm they’re doing.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/09/29/another-anti-semitism-row-that-completely-misses-the-point/

Another Politically Motivated Smear

I think Mike’s right when he observes that the paper doesn’t supply the definition of anti-Semitism the party used at its training day. In fact, I think there is a lot that this article isn’t telling us. And it seems to me that this is yet another attempt to smear Mrs Walker as an anti-Semite, which is itself part of a wider campaign to purge politically liberal Jews from positions of leadership as part of a Neocon agenda.

Israel’s Ethnic Cleansing of the Palestinians

If you remember, Mrs Walker was accused of anti-Semitism previously, because she had dared to criticise Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and state, quite correctly, that other peoples had also experienced their own holocausts. Both of these statements are exactly true. Israel has been and is pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians. It has been abundantly documented by courageous Jewish scholars like Ilan Pappe and Norman Finkelstein. I even found a copy of Pappe’s book on it, whose title calls it what it is, in one of the secondhand bookshops in Cheltenham.

The Holocaust and Other Genocides

As for other nations also having suffered their own genocides, the great Afro-American historian and one of the founders of the modern civil rights movement, W.E.B. Dubois, stated that the transatlantic slave trade had caused ‘a holocaust in central Africa’. The extent of the devastation inflicted on the African population by the slave trade is a subject of debate, and many historians of the slave trade would take issue with Dubois’ statement. But nevertheless, that is how many Blacks see the slave trade and its effects on Africa, not unjustifiably. And the campaigns to exterminate the First Nations of North and South America, beginning with the genocide of the Taino in the Caribbean, by European settlers is notorious. If you want to read about the genocide of the Amerindians in America, try the classic Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. There have also been campaign to wipe out Aboriginal Australians following the British invasion of that country, and a long string of other crimes against humanity, including the ethnic butchery following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans, culminating in the Armenian Massacres and the Day of the Sword against the Christian population in the Empire’s Middle Eastern territories. Not to mention the horrific persecutions after the Second World War, such as the invasion of East Timor, Pol Pot in Cambodia, the Rwandan genocide and Bosnia during the break up of the former Yugoslavia.

The Guardian article states that

Holocaust Memorial Day is intended to commemorate all victims of the Nazi Holocaust, and other genocides, including atrocities in Bosnia and Rwanda.

Neocon Attacks against Jews Universalising the Holocaust

I wonder if that attitude was being seriously followed at the Labour party training day. It’s certainly the attitude of the older, mainstream Jewish organisations, but more recently this universalising of the Holocaust has come under attack from the Neocon right. For example, one of the rightwing Canadian blogs is Five Feet of Fury, run by Kathy Shaidle. Shaidle’s blog is pro-privatisation. She attacked the 2012 British Olympic opening ceremony because it celebrate the NHS, which she and the other Republicans and High Tories desperately, and openly wanted to see sold off. She was rabidly anti-Muslim, and despite indigenous Canadians. She also hated Bernie Farber, the head of the main Jewish organisation in Canada, and those she derided as ‘official Jews’. In one of her rants against Mr Farber, she attacked him precisely because he had universalised the Holocaust. This was at the time of the Darfur massacres. Mr Farber and his organisation had launched a ‘Shabbat for Darfur’. This was a ‘sabbath’ in the sense of a day of fasting and prayer. Mr Farber and the other organisers explicitly connected the genocide now being suffered by the people of Darfur, with that of other victims of similarly massacres, and the Holocaust of the Jewish people in the Third Reich.

For most decent people, whether they’re Jews or not, Mr Farber’s stance was noble and honourable. He represented a victimised, persecuted people, standing up on behalf of all victimised peoples, to demand an end to the genocide of yet another suffering people. Shaidle, however, had nothing but scorn for Mr Farber, his organisation, and proposed Shabbat. She was outraged that the Holocaust was to be universalised. In her opinion, it was an event unique to the Jewish people, and should be regarded as such. She also sneered at Mr Farber and his organisation for concentrating on the threat to Jews from White Nazi organisations, and ignoring, or downplaying, the threat from militant Islam. The blog is also vehemently Zionist, regularly attacking the Palestinians as terrorists, and defending Israel’s annexation and occupation of the West Bank.

I don’t know how many readers Shaidle’s blog has. Possibly not many, but I don’t think she was alone in her views. The Tories over here definitely want to privatise the health service, as very many people have pointed out, including Jacky Davis and Raymond Tallis in NHS-SOS, and I’ve also written my own pamphlet about it, Privatisation: Killing the NHS, which is available at Lulu. Similar attacks on Islam and the mainstream Jewish organisations have also been made by Ezra Levant, a journalist and presenter on a minor right-wing cable TV station in Canada.

The Manipulation of the Commemoration of the Holocaust by Zionism

One of Prof. Norman Finkelstein’s most controversial works is his The Holocaust Industry. Prof. Finkestein wrote it a few years ago, tracing the emergence of an industry exploiting the memory of this most heinous crime from Israel’s victories over the Arabs at the end of the 1960s. He makes the case that the Holocaust has been deliberately exploited by Zionist organisations as a way of creating public support for Israel. I’ll make it very plain here to avoid any misunderstanding: Professor Finkelstein is not a Holocaust denier. He is the son of parents, who managed to survive the horror. Hence, I think, his outrage at the way its memory has been exploited for narrow political gains and the ethnic cleansing of another people.

Using the Holocaust to Justify the Occupation of Palestine

There was an example of the kind of political exploiting Prof. Finkelstein describes about a week ago. Counterpunch wrote an article criticising Binyamin Netanyahu, after he made a speech declaring that he would not halt or recall the colonisation of the West Bank by Israeli settlers, because this would violate their civil rights. And he, or one of his cabinet, invoked the Holocaust once again to justify Israel’s colonisation of the Occupied Territories. It’s disgusting to see one of the most horrific crimes of the 20th century used in a piece of twisted rhetoric to justify the persecution and dispossession of another people.

This is what makes me suspicious that there is more behind this latest smear against Jackie Walker. Despite the Groan’s protestations, there are Zionists, who would like the Shoah seen as an exclusively Jewish tragedy and resent its extension to cover the victims of other, similar crimes against humanity. It looks to me that Mrs Walker has been censured, precisely because she did universalise it and has criticised its political use by the Israel lobby.

Jackie Walker’s Black, Jewish and Anti-Racist Heritage and Activism

As for her ‘insensitivity’, I give that the same about of credence I give to the allegations against her of anti-Semitism. Mrs Walker is half-Jewish. Her mother was a Black civil rights activist, who was thrown out of America because of her activism. Her father was a Russian Jew, and so therefore probably knew more than most about real anti-Semitic persecution. She has made it clear that she has always fought against racism and anti-Semitism, and with her heritage, I do not think there are any grounds for doubting her at all. She has also stated that her partner is Jewish, and said in an interview that their family had not spoken to her after the allegations were made. This must clearly have caused her distress, so I think her accusers should be called up on their insensitivity and the emotional distress they have caused her.

The Jews and Other Victims of the Nazis

As for Walker’s own ‘insensitivity’, from the sound of it, she asked a reasonable question at a time when at least some Zionists are trying to deny the universalisation of the Holocaust, and manipulate its memory to support their own ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. It’s a disgusting attitude that insults the memory of those who suffered and perished in the Shoah. And it wasn’t just Jews, who perished in the Nazi camps. The Roma – the Gypsies, who are even now persecuted in central and eastern Europe, were also targeted for extermination by the Nazis as untermenschen, subhumans. As also were the Slavic peoples of eastern Europe – the Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Czechs and Slovaks, who were to be reduced to illiterate peasants supplying the Reich with agricultural goods, when not forced off their homelands for German colonisation and worked to death as slave labourers. And historians of the Reich have pointed out that the Nazis began their extermination campaign against the Jews with their odious Aktion T4 ‘euthanasia’ programme against the disabled. I was taught at school that altogether 11 1/2 million people died in the Nazi camps. The majority of these – six million – were Jews, but in addition to these victims there were 5 1/2 others, who included not just the aforementioned peoples, but also political prisoners – Socialists, trade unionists, Communists, anti-Nazi Conservatives, such as Konrad Adenauer, West Germany’s first president after the War. It certainly should not be out of the question why these victims are also not given their due commemoration along with the Jews, with whom they were enslaved and perished.

More Hatred against Muslims than Jews in France and Britain?

I also don’t think Mrs Walker was at all out of order when she asked why Jewish organisations, including schools, needed so much high security. I am not complacent about anti-Semitic hate crime against them. The threat of Daesh is very real, as is the murderous buffoons of National Action and the National Socialist Party and related sects. But if the situation in France is comparable to that of England, then Jews are much less likely to suffer hate crime from mainstream British society than Muslims. One of the reasons the French government was keener to protect Muslims from hate crime than Jews, was because more French people considered the Jews to be French than felt that way about Muslims. In polls, only about 5 per cent of French people said that they did not consider Jews really French. While that’s clearly troubling, it’s also somewhat reassuring as it says that 95 per cent of all French people consider Jews to be French. The number of French people, who don’t consider Muslims to be French, is much higher. My guess is the situation in Britain is probably similar, and that more mainstream Brits consider Jews to be properly British than they consider Muslims.

Muslims Also Victims of Islamist Terrorism

Al-Qaeda and Daesh also do not limit themselves to killing only Jews. They kill and maim all Brits, including Muslims. That was abundantly shown in the 7/7 bombings. It was also shown earlier this week, when a young man, who had fallen under their influence, was found guilty of murdering the imam at his local mosque. The imam performed healing rituals using amulets. While this is common in parts of Islam, it is condemned by Daesh. The man was described as ‘self-radicalised’, and had come under their influence through the net. Motivated by the Islamic States sectarian intolerance towards other Muslims, he attacked and killed the imam. Just like Daesh are butchering other Muslims in Iraq and Syria, for having the temerity to hold different views about what it means to be a member of the ‘umma, the Muslim community. Muslims are as at risk from their attacks as the rest of British society.

High Security Imprisoning British Jews and Black Americans?

I think also think that Mrs Walker’s question was justified following remarks about the amount of security around Black schools in America. The left-wing internet news and politics show, The Young Turks, had a piece the other day comparing Black American schools with prisons because of the amount of security. Mrs Walker, as a woman of colour, may well have been worried that the Jewish community was also going to suffer from the same imprisonment behind walls of security designed to protect them. After all, the article states that she was particularly worried about schools, such as that attended by her daughter. While the reasons for the security are different for Black and Jewish communities – its their to protect Jews from attack by outsiders, while it’s present in Black schools to protect the children from the violent criminality that plagues many poor communities – Mrs Walker may well have been worried that the sociological and psychological effect would be the same. If that is the case, then she asked a reasonable question with only the best intentions at heart.

Jackie Walker Smeared; They Owe Us an Explanation

It is therefore my belief that the truly wronged party in this instance is Mrs Walker. This seems to be yet another attempt to smear her character as part of a campaign by the Israel lobby against the country’s critics. As I said, it looks like there is a concerted neocon campaign to make sure that only Zionists have ownership of the memorialisation of the Holocaust, to the exclusion of more liberal voices from the rest of the Jewish community. And I can understand Mrs Walker’s opposition to seeing the Jewish community and its schoolchildren walled off from everyone else behind high security. I feel dismayed by the amount of security schools generally have to maintain, with locked gates, though I well appreciate the need to protect our young people from those, who would do them harm.

I think rather than Mrs Walker being queried and investigated for anti-Semitism and ‘insensitivity’, it is the anonymous organisers of this training day, who deserve to give the rest of the Labour party, both Jews and gentiles, an explanation.

For Netanyahu’s grotesque invocation of ‘human rights’ to justify the ongoing colonisation of the West Bank, see the Counterpunch article ‘The Human Rights of the Settler’, by Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini, at http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/09/13/the-human-rights-of-the-settler/

The Obesity Epidemic, Starvation and Osborne’s Sugar Tax

March 16, 2016

I caught a piece of Osborne on the News today telling parliament and the British public that he was going to slap a tax on sugary foods and drinks. The BBC included with his comments some stats on the obesity epidemic, such as supposedly 25% of adults are now obese, and how much this was costing the Health Service. While I’m sure that there is an obesity epidemic, I doubt the statistics and have grave concerns about the effects of the tax. I can see it leading to further starvation, rather than healthier eating. I’ll explain why.

Firstly, there was an interesting little programme on BBC 2 a few years ago about the influence ad men and lobbyists had had on buying and general consumer culture. This included a piece on the way the official definition of obesity had been changed in America due to lobbying from one of the drug companies, keen to sell a fresh load of diet pills and supplements to a worried American public. Before this company and the like got involved, the line at which Americans were considered officially obese was higher, and so there were fewer technically obese people in the Land of the Free. Then the corporate lobbyists got to work, the definition was lowered, a whole new group of fatties was created that the corporation could sell their quack cures to. And I wonder whether the same process is at work over this side of the Pond. Given how much Dave C., Osbo and their fellows parliamentary whores just love lobbyists and corporate cash, my guess is that it is.

Then there’s the issue of starvation. It’s seeming contradictory and paradoxical to be discussing this in modern Britain, but it exists. 590 people have died in neglect, starvation and by their own hands since Dave C. and his chief thug in charge of the genocide of the disabled, Ian Duncan Smith, embarked on their sanctions regime. Stilloaks over on his blog has a list of them. An artist, whose work was covered by Tom Pride over at Pride’s Purge, turned their faces into a composite artwork as a protest against the Coalition’s policy of mass death. We were told by our parish priest last week that there are 4.7m people in ‘food poverty’ here in Britain. This is a disgusting number, given that the country is the 6th/7th wealthiest nation in the world.

One of the reasons why people eat unhealthy food – all the fatty, sugary stuff that’s bad for us – is because it’s cheap and easily available. Joe Queenan and his contributors, including a journo from the Torygraph, mentioned this when the issue of America’s obesity epidemic was aired on the Radio 4 show, Postcard from Gotham twenty years ago. They were agreed that people on low incomes, like the unemployed, bought it because it made you feel good. Going back to the 1930s, Orwell reckoned that one of the reasons there wasn’t a revolution was because, despite the Depression, cheap food was still available. He’s quote in Eric Hopkins’ History of the British Working Classes. And he wasn’t the only one. The 1990s also saw the public of a book on the Social History of the Potato. This discussed the way the humble spud had managed to combat some of the mass famines and starvation in Europe after its introduction from the New World. The book quoted the organisation representing fish and chip shops during the First World War as saying that it was only them that was keeping millions of Brits from starving.

My fear therefore is simple. If Osborne whacks a tax on all the cheap, sugary foods to make them too expensive to buy, or at least buy in the quantities people are currently doing, without raising incomes so that people can purchase the healthier but currently more expensive foods, the result won’t be a slimmer waistline, but the emaciation of the starving.

Mind you, Ian Duncan Smith had a jolly good laugh in parliament, when the story of how one woman suffered from starvation due to his wretched sanctions was told. Considering that vile incident, it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s exactly what he and his vile crew wanted.

School Student Ruby Hill Organises Anti-Bombing March in Bristol

December 9, 2015

Points West, the local news programme for the Bristol, Somerset and Gloucestershire, has just reported a march by young people in the Bristol against bombing of Syria. I think the march is happening right now, as it was definitely early evening with a black sky. The marchers were walking down Park Street in a crowd, the Beeb’s reporter estimated numbered 600. He said it was remarkable, as it was organised by 16-17 year old school students on social media. He then interviewed one of them, Ruby Hill. She stated that they organised it because young people of that age group don’t have a voice. He asked her whether it was pointless, as the decision had already been made. She replied that she didn’t think so, as if politicians really are for the people, as all parties claim, then they should take notice.

It’s an inspiring sight, and I think Ms Hill and her friends and colleagues are to be absolutely congratulated on organising the march. She’s right about the disconnection many young people feel about politics. They don’t have a voice, but the government has made major decisions affecting their future. Like introducing and raising university tuition fees. Sixteen-seventeen is about the age many young people become seriously interested in politics. I can remember that when I was in the Sixth Form all that long ago, one of the additional studies we had to do was ‘topical issues’. This was usually held on a Wednesday afternoon, and involved debating some issue of the day with the teacher. The point was not to indoctrinate us – this was made very clear at the very beginning of the lessons, but just to get us into the habit of carefully thinking about issues in order to prepare us for the civic responsibility as future citizens. The school also encouraged us to watch the news and take notice of political events.

And some of those students may well have personal reasons to be worried. In a year or two they will be 18, by which time Cameron may well decide that really, conscription is the only way to contain the terrorist threat, just like the Americans did in Vietnam. And like Vietnam, we risk losing our young people in a pointless imperial war.

CNN Interview with Female Former ISIS Fighter

April 7, 2015

Yesterday I put up a couple of videos from The Young Turks internet news show discussing the issue of young women and girls being lured away from their homes and families to join the genocides and butchers in ISIS. This has also happened in Britain, the most recent and notorious examples being the three girls from Bethnall Green in London, who fled to Syria. There was a brief feature about it on the One Show, where one of the Beeb’s female newsreaders discussed the possible reasons why some British girls would find it attractive. The Beeb is also screening a full length documentary on it some time this week.

This is another video, which also gives some insight into the lives of women joining ISIS. It’s an interview with a female defector from the terrorist outfit, broadcast by CNN. The woman is heavily veiled, her voice disguised, and given a pseudonym to protect her identity. She was a former junior school teacher, who became radicalised in the uprising against Assad in Syria. When it first broke out, she was very positive and optimistic, but then said she was drawn to a darker and more violent path when the country descended into civil war and the bombing and shooting started.

She states she was also drawn into the organisation through her love for a Tunisian man she met on the web. They travelled to Raqqah in Syria, where they were married. She also had a female cousin, who had already joined the al-Khansa women’s brigade. This cousin took her to meet the brigade’s leader, tall and fearsomely equipped with combat rifle, guns and dagger.

The woman says that she initially felt happy carrying a gun. It was new to her, she felt powerful, but she didn’t feel she was scaring anyone. Her job was to make sure that women obeyed the strict dress code. If they didn’t, they were punished. This could include whipping, and she was forced to do this. Eventually ISIS’ brutality was too much for her. She was especially upset by the image of crucified boy, who had been convicted of rape.

This last is a very interesting perspective, as there are many in this country, who’d applaud such a severe measure against rapists. However, it also shows the human cost on some of those meting such punishments out, and who have to live in a society where such judicial brutality is normal.

She also states that the brutality was not confined to criminals, but was also inflicted by ISIS members on their wives. She states that ISIS had an office in Raqqah, where they arranged marriages for their members. She was taken to this by the Tunisian she had met when they moved to the city. These marriages were not just arranged, sometimes they were forced. She states that most of ISIS’ fighters were foreign, and that they abused and brutalised the local people. They also beat and raped their wives. This could be so severe, that in one instance one of the women had to be taken to A & E at the local hospital because of the sexual violence.

Sick of ISIS, the interviewee decided to get out. She states that she wants to go back to the happy, carefree young woman she was before she joined.

This video is just the perspective of a very courageous and moral woman, who found the regime’s brutality too much to stomach, and took the extremely dangerous step of leaving. She may be just one of a small minority. As the BBC’s newsreader said on the One Show, very few of the girls recruited to ISIS are likely to come back, because they want to be there. The video made by French TV made the same point, when it showed French women in the chat rooms arguing with their parents, telling them that they weren’t going to return to France.

It does, however, show the reality of what joining the regime is actually like, and the cost it has on the humanity of its recruits. They are stripped of decent human compassion in order to become the obedient servants of a violent and pitiless regime. It is an organisation that treats the indigenous people of the area it conquers with contempt, and whose thuggery even extends to violence against the women it forces to marry its fighters. As I said in one of my articles, there are passages in the Qu’ran and Hadith where Mohammed encourages men to treat their wives well. However, an army of brutal, extremely violent men, who twist the Qu’ran to justify their mass murders, aren’t going to be too particular about observing these milder texts.

UKIP Spokesman: UKIP Should Represent Bigots and the NHS Is a Nazi Waste of Money

January 25, 2015

Today’s Huffington Post UK as a story about some of the revealing comments UKIP’s press spokesman, Matthew Richardson, has made about those the party should represent and the NHS. The newspaper reports that according to the Sunday Times that

Richardson told a meeting last month: “I’ve said before, people talk about Ukip being bigots. There are hundreds of thousands of bigots in the United Kingdom and they deserve representation.” He also joked about party leader Nigel Farage, saying: “He’s a Kent man. Well, sounds like Kent, anyway.”

Richardson has tried to put these comments behind him, saying that some of them actually didn’t come from him, but from another Kipper, Eric North. He also remarks that they were just banter in the pub, rather than real policies.

The NHS: A Socialist Reichstag Bunker of Waste

The Labour Party, however, has footage of Richardson telling the Young Americans Foundation conference in Washington in 2010, “When I was younger a trillion was an astronomic number. Now when I look at our national deficits, and your national deficits, actually it is an economic number.

“A number I couldn’t possible imagine when I was younger is now the amount of money that is owed by my country, and soon more than that by your country, to other countries, paying for wasteful socialist programmes. And of course at the heart of this, the Reichstag bunker of socialism is the National Health Service.”

That very same year he told the Conservative Political Action Conference “This socialist government wastes money like you can’t imagine. They have started doing every wasteful scheme under the sun … The biggest waste of money of course in the United Kingdom is the NHS, the National Health Service.”

The article goes on to quote John Trickett, Labour’s Shadow Minister without Portfolio, as saying that these comments indicate what Farage really thinks of the NHS, and that he is still basically a creature of the Tories, with their money and wishing to extend the worst of their policies.

And he’s absolutely right. Richardson cannot claim that his comments should not be taken seriously, because they’re just pub banter. They’re what he really thinks when the public and the media aren’t looking. The Latin adage ‘in vino veritas’, roughly translated ‘truth comes out when people are drunk’ is pretty much a truism.

Tory Views on State Medicine: So Extreme, They Even Accuse Israelis of Nazism

As for the comments about the NHS being the Nazi bunker of Socialism, remember that to the American Right, Socialism is Nazism. Just how grotesque this attitude was shown a few years ago on one of the news channels when they were covering the controversy about Obamacare in the US. It was when the Republicans were claiming that the state provision of healthcare really was a Nazi policy, along with Palin’s hysterical ranting about ‘death panels’ for the disabled. One of those who spoke out in favour of the state provision of medical care was an Israeli. He pointed at the difference between the American health service and his country. He’d broken his leg, and treatment in the US had set him back $7,000. He contrasted it with the Israeli system, where such treatment didn’t cost a bit. This did not stop at least one of the Republican morons, who started making comments about Nazis and giving the Hitler salute, before weeping mock tears when he told about his experience of having his leg attended.

You know these people truly are moronic, apart from colossally offensive, when they start accusing Jews of being Nazis simply because Israel has free health care.

It also shows what the Tories really think about the NHS. It joins a long list of quotes from Jeremy Hunt, Andrew Lansley and others about their plans to privatise it. When they were caught out with one such comment a few years ago, the Tory spin machine went into action and a denial was just spewed out. No, they hadn’t really said they were going to privatise the NHS. In reality, the minister in question said that they were going to cut down on bureaucratic waste.

It’s lies. The quotes from Richardson show you what UKIP and the Tories really think.

The story is ‘Ukip Should Represent Bigots’, Says Ukip PR Man, and it’s at
http://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/ukip-should-represent-bigots-says-ukip-pr-man/ar-AA8ypqe?ocid=OIE9HP