Holocaust

Outrage as Rachel Riley Endorses Photoshopped Image of Corbyn Anti-Apartheid Protest

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 22/11/2019 - 5:43am in

Speaking of the Labour anti-Semitism smears, how crass, arrogant and insensitive is Rachel Riley in her determination to smear Jeremy Corbyn? And how long before her antics are too much for Channel 4 and they sack her? These are not idle questions, as today Riley showed how low she would stoop to libel Corbyn as an anti-Semite by publicly wearing a photoshopped image of the Labour leader. There’s nothing unusual about that, as people have been producing them for years. There was a particularly odious one a few years ago which showed Corbyn sat next to Adolf Hitler in a limo. But this time the smear merchants have excelled themselves. They took a photograph of the Labour leader when he was arrested at an anti-apartheid demonstration outside the South African embassy in the 1980s. Corbyn was wearing a sandwich board with the slogan “Defend the right to demonstrate against Apartheid. Join this picket”. However, this has been removed and replaced with the words ‘Jeremy Corbyn is a racist endeavour’. Riley tweeted a picture of herself wearing it on a T-shirt.

Riley obviously thought this was a good idea, but the good peeps on Twitter thought otherwise. They considered that it showed just how unhealthy Riley’s obsession with smearing Corbyn was, as well as being massively offensive in its erasure of apartheid. Mike Williams, for example, tweeted

“Jeremy Corbyn’s showing people he’s committed to reducing living costs by living rent-free inside Rachel Riley’s head” and continued

“Imagine having the confidence to smear Jeremy Corbyn as a racist, while simultaneously erasing apartheid history for your own twisted agenda. Rachel Riley, everyone”.

He concluded

“Is Rachel Riley behind this and is she ok? I’m all for freedom of expression but this just wrong”.

Similar comments were made by Mark Hebden, and Alex Tiffin, Socialist Voice remarked

Jeremy Corbyn was protesting against black peoples’ struggle in apartheid South Africa. Rachel Riley has erased this to smear Jeremy Corbyn in an attempt to portray herself as a victim. 

Tonight she reached a new low. What a disgusting and repulsive individual she really is. 

Novara Media’s Aaron Bastani stated that it was the craziest thing he’d seen a twitter, and that a white person erasing an anti-apartheid message reached a new level of bizarre. It was something you expected from the Alt-Right. He noted that she had fronted anti-trolling campaigns, to which he just added ‘Good grief’.

‘Good grief’ indeed.

Evolve Politics wrote

Rachel Riley slammed after erasing anti-apartheid message to label Jeremy Corbyn a racist https://evolvepolitics.com/rachel-riley-slammed-after-erasing-anti-apartheid-message-to-label-jeremy-corbyn-a-racist/ …

Naturally some of the people most unimpressed with her latest smear were Black people and Whites, who had been active in the anti-apartheid campaign.

Chardine Taylor Stone tweeted

Rachel Riley needs to be cancelled. YOU DO NOT treat apartheid as joke to make a statement. I don’t care who is holding the placard or what statement she thinks she is making here. #Blacktwitter we need to sort this out.

Coco (Vote Labour) tweeted

“How many times is Rachel Riley going to shit on black history before mainstream outlets will start calling her out… I… I’m tired”.

Andrew Feinstein, a White, Jewish anti-apartheid activist, who had lost family in the Holocaust, also sent this message:

As a former MP under Nelson Mandela, as the son of a Holocaust survivor who lost 39 members of her family in the camps, as a [South] African anti-racist, I find what Rachel Riley has done offensive, appalling & deeply repugnant”.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/11/rachel-riley-channels-katie-hopkins.html

Labour’s Black PLP with the hashtag ‘Register to Vote’ tweeted

Rachel Riley should apologise for the hurt and upset that she has caused to many whose families and loved ones suffered under the Apartheid regime!

The disrespect and lack of care shown to the Anti-Apartheid struggle is truly hurtful.
https://metro.co.uk/2019/11/21/rachel-riley-sparks-backlash-erasing-jeremy-corbyns-anti-apartheid-message-photoshopped-t-shirt-11192944/ …

Frank Owen’s Legendary Paintbrush also compared her tasteless T-shirt with Jonathan Freedland’s smearing of an innocent Muslim Labour councillor as an anti-Semite, remarking that it was funny how those trying to smear Corbyn as a racist ended up exposing themselves.

And then came the demands that Channel 4 should inflict some kind of censure on her for her actions. Peter Goldup asked the broadcaster to reconsider her position. ‘Andy’ sent them the message

I call on @Channel4 to condemn Rachel Riley’s disgraceful actions and to terminate their association with this unhinged individual. She has misused her fame & brought politics, by association, onto Countdown, a programme which I can no longer watch because of her presence.

Lu Vegan was more pessimistic, feeling that she probably wouldn’t get any work-related backlash for her slur.

Mike has taken this as an opportunity to once again ask his supporters to donate to his crowdfunding campaign to help him defend himself against a libel action from Riley. Riley, he reminds his readers, accused a 16-year old schoolgirl of being an anti-Semite for criticising her smears against Corbyn. The girl was then subjected to a torrent of abuse from Riley’s followers, some of whom issued death threats. When Mike wrote a piece about this, Riley became offended and threatened to take him to court. Mike continues

My belief is that she thought she could bully me into paying her some money because I could not afford to defend myself.

Instead, I started a CrowdJustice page and members of the public helped me fight back.

There could be no better demonstration of why I need to win this case than this latest incident. It is clear that Ms Riley will continue with this abhorrent behaviour unless she is made to face legal consequences for it.

He states that he doesn’t think ‘think there will ever be a better time to contribute to my appeal, so please forgive me for asking’, before going on to inform people how they can contribute to his fund.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/11/21/if-you-think-rachel-riley-went-too-far-with-photoshopped-t-shirt-please-support-my-court-case/

In my opinion, Riley and her pal Tracy Ann Oberman have a fanatical fixation on the Labour leader, and are bullies, deliberately picking on ordinary people, who they believe won’t be able to defend themselves from rich celebrities such as themselves. And they will go on doing so as long as they’re allowed.

If you can support Mike, please do so. All contributions are gratefully received, as is the great support he’s also received morally from followers of his blog and his work.

As for Riley, Zelo Street is right when they say that she’s now reached the level of ‘Hatie Katie’ Hopkins, the former apprentice contestant and right-wing gob, who’s become so racist that she’s lost her position at a string of media outlets, including the Daily Heil.

How long before Riley goes the same way, and Channel 4 gives her the order of the boot?

Ha Ha! Careless Riley Retweets Anti-Zionist Church Minister Who Heckled Corbyn

Oh ho! It appears Riley’s all-consuming hatred of the Labour leader is making her careless. Either that, or she’s stupid or hypocritical. Or both. On Thursday Mike put up a piece about a Church of Scotland minister, Reverend Richard Cameron, who heckled Jeremy Corbyn during his visit to Glasgow. The Rev. Cameron asked Corbyn if he thought that ‘the man, who’s going to be prime minister of this country should be a terrorist sympathiser?’ Yes, we’re back to the old Tory canard that Corbyn must be a terrorist sympathiser, because he wanted Britain to hold peace talks with Sinn Fein and the IRA, and wants a peaceful solution to the Palestinian problem. And that means talking to Hamas. It does not, however, mean that Corbyn supports either of those organisations. This subject has been dealt with extensively before, and shown to be false. Those involved in the Northern Irish peace talks on both sides, both Nationalist and Loyalist, have said that Corbyn was fair and not partisan. And the same has been said of his commitment to a just peace for the Palestinians in Israel. for this to happen, Israel has to hold talks with Hamas. Negotiating a peaceful settlement to anything means that you have to talk to the other side. You don’t succeed by only talking to your friends. But that simple strategy is lost on the Tories and Ultra-Zionists, who want to paint him as a friend of terrorists and murderers.

Duncan Dunlop, the CEO of Who Cares? Scotland was angered by Rev. Cameron’s question about Corbyn wearing a ‘jihadi’ scarf. In fact, it was one of the organisation’s own scarves and very definitely tartan, rather than the colours of Daesh or whoever. Corbyn was in the middle of explaining how significant the organisation and its Care Experienced people were when  Cameron interrupted.

And Rev. Cameron’s heckling has caused people to look at the minister’s own tweets, and what they found was, in the world of the Ferengi, ‘ugly. Vereeee ugleeee’. It seems that Rev. Cameron has bigoted views regarding Muslims and gays. Mike has put up a couple of these tweets, in which Cameron tells a Muslim that his religion has a problem with terrorism, and that gays ‘celebrate perversion’. And he’s also extremely anti-Zionist. For example, he tweeted a comment about Zionists stealing Arab babies to build the state of Israel. Zelo Street also reproduced a few more of his comments about Zionists. They include remarks that the ‘anti-Semitic card is overplayed these days’, accused one of his critics as spouting ‘Zionist propaganda’ and declared that he thought that Zionists had a lower IQ than normal people, and even sheep. And when asked by someone if it was possible to be a Jew and an atheist, he replied that it was perhaps possible if you were a Zionist. They don’t believe in God’s justice, according to the Minister, ‘but like the real estate deal’. He also talked about “Zionists going off at the deep end because Pope Francis uttered these 4 troubling words: ‘The State of Palestine.’”

This has led to Cameron being accused of anti-Semitism, but I don’t think that’s entirely fair. He wasn’t sneering at Jews in the above comments, or at least, not Jews as simply Jews. Nor does he sneer at Israelis, although he is certainly no fan of the Israeli state. He attacks Zionists. Zionism isn’t a race or ethnic group – it’s a political ideology. And as Tony Greenstein and David Rosenberg have shown on their blogs, along with many other Jewish bloggers critical of Israel, Zionism was very much the minority position of most European Jews before the rise of Nazism and the Holocaust. And some of Cameron’s comments are based on fact. Tony Greenstein posted up a piece a little while ago about how the early Israeli state stole babies from the indigenous Arab Jews of Palestine to give to rich Ashkenazi European immigrants because of their racist views of them. The Mizrahim were considered to be racially inferior to European Jews, and leading Israeli nationalists even called them ‘human dust’. But Cameron’s bitter remarks about Zionism are a problem for Riley and her bestie Tracy Ann Oberman, because they’re the kind of sentiments that have got people expelled from the Labour Party. Cameron’s comment about the anti-Semitism card being overplayed is the same criticism that got Labour MP Chris Williamson expelled. He complained that Labour had given in too much to accusations of anti-Semitism. The Ultra-Zionists hate and fear Corbyn not because he’s genuinely anti-Semitic – he isn’t – but because he wants a just peace with the Palestinians. That would mean abandoning Israeli expansionism into Palestinian territory and the dismantlement of the system of apartheid. It’s this which they decry as ‘anti-Semitism’, not hatred of Jews or even Israelis simply for being Jewish.

All of which puts a different complexion on Riley’s attacks on Corbyn and her support for the minister. Zelo Street comments

‘Do Rachel Riley and Tracy Ann Oberman support all of that? Probably not. The problem is that neither of them was looking before either Tweeting or endorsing. And the result of this lapse is that both end up looking even less credible than they did previously.

Rachel Riley’s Jezza bashing campaign is imploding. No outside assistance is necessary.’

And Mike concludes his piece with

When people with such obvious prejudices attack a politician like Mr Corbyn, they make it clear that it is their opinions that are at fault – not his.

Mr Corbyn walked away, showing he wants nothing to do with people like this.

I’m with him – wouldn’t you be?

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/11/14/jeremy-corbyn-could-do-with-more-hecklers-like-this-they-make-his-case-for-him/

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/11/rachel-riley-endorses-anti-semite.html

Rev. Cameron’s bigoted views should be an embarrassment to those who see him as some kind of Conservative hero, and particularly to Riley and Oberman. If they support him, it shows that they are either careless or hypocritical. And Corbyn was entirely right to walk away from him. It wasn’t an active of cowardice, but simple pragmatism. Such bigots can’t be reasoned with, and there’s absolutely no point arguing with them.

Why Are Politicians Waiting for the People? They Are Supposed to Lead

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/11/2019 - 6:00pm in

Whenever people push for positive change whether it be gay rights, equal rights for women, equality of income, or even something as basic as healthcare for everyone, centrist moderates always say the same thing: the country just isn’t ready yet. But politicians aren’t supposed to wait for the people to be ready for positive change. They are supposed to lead. That means making the case for the better world that is possible and pushing until it is achieved.

John Bercow Denies Jeremy Corbyn Is Anti-Semitic

More evidence to add to the plentiful pile of it showing that Jeremy Corbyn isn’t a Jew-hater was given by John Bercow the other day. Bercow, who has just stepped down as Speaker of the House of Commons, was interviewed by Alistair Campbell for GQ magazine. Campbell told him that he realised Bercow was a Jew, and asked him about the issue of anti-Semitism in the Labour party. Bercow responded cautiously and diplomatically, pointing out that racism was a problem across society. He said that anti-Semitism was an issue in the Labour party, and that it needed to be dealt with and that he respected those, who were concerned about it. But in all his time in parliament he had never encountered it from a member of the Labour party, and in the 22 years he had known and worked with Corbyn he had never experienced it from him either. This was not even when Bercow was a right-winger. Campbell joked with Bercow about Corbyn, as a long-time opponent of New Labour, probably voting with the Tories more often than he voted with the Labour party. Bercow chuckles, and admits that he always got on well with Corbyn, and found him personally very supportive.

Okay, it’s not a refutation of the lie that anti-Semitism is rife in the Labour party. It most definitely isn’t anywhere near as serious as the Tories and the right-wing media are making out. Anti-Semitism has actually dropped in the party since Corbyn became leader, and he himself has led numerous initiatives to root it out. But Bercow has said that Corbyn isn’t anti-Semitic, which contradicts what Stephen ‘Goysplaining’ Pollard of the Jewish Chronicle and Rabbi Jonathan Romain in the Torygraph have been telling people this week.

Tory Fibs has put a short clip of this part of Bercow and Campbell’s discussion in a tweet, which Mike posted on his blog yesterday. Along with twitter comments from other people supporting the Labour leader. Many of these messages came from Jewish Labour supporters, who have also found themselves abused as anti-Semites by those taken in or responsible for these lies.

Also, Mike and another twitter commenter, ‘Paul’, point out that Corbyn rarely voted with the Tories. The Conservatives mostly voted for New Labour policies, which is hardly surprising as both groups were Thatcherites. Corbyn, as an old-fashioned Socialist, would have opposed them.

There was also a tweet from RedCountessa, who said that there were plenty of left-wing Jewish people, who support Corbyn, but it was also very noticeable that they were rarely interviewed by the lamestream media to get the other side of the argument.

And Jill Gore showed a twitter response from a Mark Fleischmann to show the odious response some individuals have towards Jews, who support Corbyn. So convinced was Fleischmann that no true Jew could ever support the Labour leader, that he was demanding the Jews who did to prove their Jewishness. I’m not Jewish, but this strikes me as a form of anti-Semitism itself. It’s as racist as Richard Spencer ranting about ‘octaroons’ to smear Blacks and people of mixed race, and in my opinion, anti-racist Whites, ’cause he can’t understand how real White people don’t hate Blacks.

And there were other tweeters attacking Ian Austin, who was in the news yesterday telling everyone to vote for Boris.

Pauline Lane retweeted a message from Children’s Poet Laureate, Michael Rosen, asking the Tory party to stop using the Holocaust and the threat of anti-Semitism to attract people to the party of Windrush, the Hostile Environment Policy, the anti-refugee and 20 years of austerity.

There was also a tweet from ‘Norman’ of Austin interrupting Michael Rosen’s testimony before the Education Committee for Holocaust Education. Norman states that he was aware of Austin, because of his support for Phil Woolas. Woolas was a ‘moderate’ Labour candidate, who got deselected because he ran a dirty campaign designed to get White voters angry and smearing the rival candidate, a Muslim, as a supporter of terrorism. But his interruption of Rosen showed how really horrible Austin is. Rosen testified that when the Nazis invaded the Channel Islands, all nine Jews were deported. Austin says something about how we cannot know what would have happened in Britain, because we fought back and stood alone against the Nazis. Rosen corrects him about this, stating that we had the support of two major powers, the US and Russia.

Rosen is quite correct. We didn’t stand alone. We not only had the support of America and Russia, but we were also supported by the entire resources of the British Empire. If we hadn’t, I gather that we too would probably have only lasted a week. As for what happened on the Channel Islands, Norman states that his grandfather evacuated from Jersey, and that Austin ‘is wrong’.

Absolutely right there, too. The Nazis did invade UK/ Britain, as the Channel Islands are part of it. And the people there were starved, they saw Russian P.O.W.’s worked to death as subhuman slaves, as they were seen by the Nazis, as well as the deportation of the islands’ Jewish citizens. And we can be sure that what happened there, would have happened elsewhere in Britain if the Nazis had invaded. Years ago Anne Applebaum wrote a piece in the Spectator saying that Brits would have collaborated with the Nazis, which I think was probably based on the evidence of the collaboration of the island authorities with the Nazis. This comes from the Speccie, which is the arch-Tory magazine.

And Josh tweeted a clip from Question Time, in which a Jewish lady stood up and attacked the Tories and the Conservative media for using anti-Semitism to smear and demonise Corbyn and the Labour party. The lady states that she and all her family are Jewish, and they’re not scared of leaving the house because of anti-Semitism. The Tories and the press take quotes of context to vilify Corbyn. But only 7 per cent of the time do they discuss his policies. 80 per cent of the time, she says, they’re just attacking his character, because his policies are right.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/11/08/never-mind-the-newspapers-bercow-buries-claims-of-anti-semitism-against-corbyn/

Clearly, not all Jews buy this rubbish about Corbyn being an anti-Semite by a long chalk. Ken Livingstone, who has now resigned from the party because of the smears and suspensions, said in an interview with George Galloway that he had Jewish people walk up to him in the street and tell him that they know he’s not anti-Semitic.

Perhaps that explains the desperation of the Tories to keep repeating the claim. Because now more and more people don’t believe it!

Desperate Tories Now Reduced to Anti-Semitism Smears Again

Do I scent fear hitting the Tory ranks? Surely not! But the proof is there, as the increasingly desperate Torygraph and the Jewish Chronicle are reviving the old smear that Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite. But they’re simply parroting the claim of James Cleverly, the Tory chairman – and Mike’s absolutely right that his monicker is a misnomer – that Jewish families are going to leave the UK, ’cause they’re afraid of what Corbyn’s going to do if he gets in.

Really? I don’t believe it!, to use Victor Meldrew’s old catchphrase. Has anybody asked the views of Corbyn’s many Jewish supporters? Like, you know, Jewish Voice for Labour? Jewdas, with whom Corbyn spent a Passover seder? Mr Shraga Stern and the Haredi community, who Corbyn gave his support to their campaign to save their historic London cemetery from redevelopment? Or just ordinary, grassroots Jewish Labour voters, like those, who have appeared on YouTube and in print stating clearly that there is anti-Semitism in the Labour party, but they personally haven’t experienced it.

No, clearly not, because this would undermine the narrative the British political establishment want to push: that Jeremy Corbyn is a vicious anti-Semite, and so are his supporters – decent, anti-racist women and men like Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Marc Wadsworth, Ken Livingstone, Mike, Martin Odoni and too many others. The pro-Israel right is pushing this for all it’s worth, because Corbyn isn’t an anti-Semite. But he does want a just peace in Israel with the Palestinians. And that can’t be tolerated. As for the Tories, they’re simply using any smear they can to destroy Labour, while it’s been repeated by the Blairites within the party as a way of ousting him and purging his supporters.

As for the two papers pushing this story, they’re going down the tubes at a rate of knots. The Torygraph has lost much of its readership, partly due to its mercenary editorial policy, which has seen it sacrifice journalistic integrity to the interests of its advertisers. And the Jewish Chronicle is under the helm of Stephen Pollard, who’s as Jewish as I am. Hence writer and academic Michael Rosen, who I think was Children’s Poet Laureate, has accused him of ‘Jewsplaining’. Yes, Pollard’s a non-Jew, who’s taken it upon himself to tell Jews what to believe as Jews. But he’s also a right-wing hack, who when he was with the Depress and similar rags wrote foam-flecked rants demanding the destruction of the welfare state, attacking the trade unions, and claiming that Labour and the Scary Muslims are going to destroy western civilisation.

The Tories have been pushing this line for a long time, ever since around about 9/11, I think. I remember Frederick Raphael giving a glowing review in the Spectator to a novel set a few years hence, in which the remains of the socialist parties in the EU and the Scary Muslims have joined together to begin a new Holocaust. And long before Corbyn won the Labour party leadership, the Right were already leveling accusations of anti-Semitism. Their target was Ed Miliband, who was, er, Jewish. And there was more than a shade of anti-Semitism in their attacks on him. Like the Mail’s article attacking his father, Ralph Miliband, as the ‘Man Who Hated Britain’. Miliband pere was a Belgian immigrant, who fled here from the Nazis. And unlike the father of former editor Paul Dacre, who stayed put in Britain as their society correspondent, Miliband fought for this country in the War. And then there’s the Mail’s own infamous history of supporting Mosley and the British Union of Fascists, and how the father of the newspaper’s current editor, Geordie Grieg, was a member of one of the pro-Nazi British societies before the War.

And the anti-Semitism continues, along with the islamophobia and bog-standard racism. Zelo Street has posted a very good riposte to Sunday’s Andrew Marr Show, where the show’s host interviewed John McDonnell. Of course Marr had to raise the question about what Labour was doing to allay the fears of the Jewish community about anti-Semitism. It’s now part of the standard set of questions the media now ask. But they don’t ask it of the Tories, despite the flagrant examples in the Tory ranks.

For example, how about Jacob Rees-Mogg calling John Bercow and Oliver Letwin ‘illuminati’ in parliament? As I’ve blogged previously, the Illuminati were a freethinking sect, who infiltrated the Freemasons in Bavaria. They are now at the centre of a bonkers conspiracy theory, which sees them as the secret force behind the world’s governments, manipulating politics and industry. Not all varieties of this theory are anti-Semitic. In some, they’re just the global elite, who are seen as Masonic Satanists. But it does merge with the stupid, murderous theories about Jewish bankers. The accusation so alarmed one Jewish academic, that he wrote an article about it revealing the anti-Semitic underpinnings behind the accusation. But it was about the Tories, so the media ignored it. Oh well, at least Mogg didn’t accuse Bercow and Letwin of being members of the Zionist Occupation Government.

Then there’s Priti Patel’s support of the Viktor Orban, the head of the viciously anti-Semitic and islamophobic Fidesz party of Hungary, and her denunciation of the ‘north London liberal elite’. Now she might be referring simply to rich liberals in that part of London. But it also sounds very much like an attack on a certain religious/ethnic group, who stereotypically live in Golders Green.

Gove has also tried to smear Labour again with another accusation of anti-Semitism, following a tweet from an individual, who wasn’t a member of the party. Apart from the fact that Labour can’t suspend people who aren’t members, Gove himself was also criticised by the Jewish Chronicle, amongst others, for opposing an attempt by the European Parliament to censure Orban’s government in Hungary for its anti-Semitism.

And this is all quite apart from the rabid islamophobia and racism of the various twitter and Facebook groups supporting Boris and Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Gove’s equally odious wife, Sarah Vine, declaring that the statement that there should be ‘less Islam in Britain’ was funny.

Going back to the claim that Jewish families are going to leave Britain to escape Corbyn, Mike points out on his blog how this resembles Phil Collins’ statement back in the early ’90s that if Labour won the election, he’d go to America. Well, he didn’t. The Tories won the ’92 election, so he didn’t have to. But he didn’t leave when they won the ’97 election either.

It also reminds me of the curious case of Danny Cohen. Cohen was a senior Beeb executive, who bogged off to Israel claiming that Labour was anti-Semitic and Britain was unsafe for Jews. Not that unsafe, however, as I think he’s come back. So much for the claim that contemporary Britain is like Germany in 1937. It isn’t, not by a very long chalk.

Treat all this as just more scaremongering from the Tories. It’s just more lies, from a desperate and lying party. And one that hopefully will be out of power after the election.

For more information, see: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/11/04/jewish-families-will-leave-this-nonsense-claim-is-the-upshot-of-the-labour-anti-semitism-witch-hunt/

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/11/michael-gove-more-tory-anti-semitism.html

 

No, HIGNFY, That’s Not What We Object to in Your Treatment of Corbyn

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 03/11/2019 - 4:35am in

Last night’s edition of the Beeb’s satirical panel game, Have I Got Not For You, decided to reply to certain criticism regarding their treatment of the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. This week’s guest host, Jo Brand, stated that the programme had been widely attacked by supporters of the Labour leader because the programme continued referring to him by his surname, while the Prime Minister was more informally called by his first name, Boris. This, it was claimed, showed a bias towards the Tory leader, which the programme disputed.

Ummm, no. This is not why many of us object to the programme’s bias against Labour. We object to it because it pushes, like the rest of the media, the flagrant lie that he and his supporters are anti-Semites. Last Friday I put up on this blog immediately after the programme an article expressing my dismay at seeing this pushed once against by Victoria Coren-Mitchell, a broadcaster for whom I have otherwise immense respect. She made a joke about Corbyn believing in the anti-Semitic Jewish bankers conspiracy. He doesn’t. Never has done, and never will. He has a proud record of supporting Jews and Jewish issues in the UK as part of a general commitment to combating racism. But he frightens the British, American and Israeli political establishments by supporting Palestinian rights. And more alarming, horror of horrors!, he has the support of self-respecting Torah-observant and secular Jews. The meeting he attended, which so sent the British Jewish establishment into panicked hysteria because it compared the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians to that of the Jews under the Nazis, was addressed by Hajo Meyer, a Holocaust survivor. It certainly was not a Nazi meeting by any stretch of the imagination. And Mr Meyer wasn’t alone in his support for Palestinian rights. They were also championed by Marek Edelman, another Holocaust survivor, who had fought in the heroic Warsaw Uprising. Edelman even compared the Palestinians fighting for their land, freedom and dignity with the Uprising against Nazi genocide. But this is very much how it is not presented by the British press and media.

I wasn’t alone in my disgust at the programme pushing the idea that Corbyn was an anti-Semite and a conspiracy theorist in the worst sense of the term. Many others were too. Mike put up a piece reporting their criticisms and concerns. To be fair to Victoria Coren, she tried to reply to them, and seemed to leave thinking the issue over.

And it seems that the outrage on social media with the programme and its treatment of Corbyn has got to the point that its producers realise they have to do something to tackle it. But they can’t defend their linking of Corbyn with anti-Semitism and bogus, murderous conspiracy theories, it seems. Nor can they acknowledge, it appears, that there is a serious issue here. Because all decent people know that Corbyn is an anti-Semite, and they cannot damage this myth by showing that there are decent people, who don’t.

And so they tried to head off criticism by rebutting a different issue entirely.

This is not good enough, not by a long way. Some people might object to the programme for the above reason, but that’s not why an increasing number do. But it does seem to show that the programme’s producers are worried about criticism they are getting about their contemptuous and contemptible treatment of the Labour leader.

Perhaps if we continue to voice our real objections, the Beeb might just have to come clean on the real issue. I hope so, but I’m not holding my breath.

Review of Book on New Atheist Myths Now Up on Magonia Review Blog

The Magonia Review of Books blog is one of the online successors to the small press UFO journal, Magonia, published from the 1980s to the early part of this century. The Magonians took the psycho-social view of encounters with alien entities. This holds that they are essentially internal, psychological events which draw on folklore and the imagery of space and Science Fiction. Following the ideas of the French astronomer and computer scientist, Jacques Vallee, and the American journalist, John Keel, they also believed that UFO and other entity encounters were also part of the same phenomenon that had created fairies and other supernatural beings and events in the past. The magazine thus examined other, contemporary forms of vision and belief, such as the Satanic Ritual Abuse scare in the 1990s. It also reviewed books dealing with wide range of religious and paranormal topics. These included not just UFOs, but also the rise of apocalyptic religious faith in America, conspiracy theories, ghosts and vampires, cryptozoology and the Near Death Experience, for example. Although the magazine is no longer in print, the Magonia Review of Books continues reviewing books, and sometimes films, on the paranormal and is part of a group of other blogs, which archive articles from the magazine and its predecessor, the Merseyside UFO Bulletin (MUFOB), as well as news of other books on the subject.

I’ve had a number of articles published in Magonia and reviews on the Review of Books. The blog has just put my review of Nathan Johnstone’s The New Atheism, Myth and History: The Black Legends of Contemporary Anti-Religion (Palgrave MacMillan 2018).  The book is a critical attack on the abuse of history by New Atheist polemicists like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and so on to attack religion. He shows that the retail extremely inaccurate accounts of historical atrocities like the witch hunts and persecution of heretics by the Christian church and the savage anti-religious campaign in the Soviet Union in order to condemn religion on the one hand, and try to show that atheism was not responsible for the atrocities committed in its name on the other. At the same time he is alarmed by the extremely vitriolic language used by Dawkins and co. about the religious. He draws comparisons between it and the language used to justify persecution in the past to warn that it too could have brutal consequences despite its authors’ commitment to humanity and free speech.

The article is at: http://pelicanist.blogspot.com/2019/10/believing-in-not-believing-new-atheists.html if you wish to read it at the Magonia Review site. I’ve also been asked to reblog it below. Here it is.

Nathan Johnstone. The New Atheism, Myth and History: The Black Legends of Contemporary Anti-Religion. Palgrave Macmillan 2018.

The New Atheists is a term coined to described the group of militant atheists that emerged after the shock of 9/11. Comprising the biologist Richard Dawkins, the journalist Christopher Hitchens, the philosophers Daniel C. Dennett and A.C. Grayling, the neuroscientist Sam Harris, the astronomer Victor Stenger, and others, they are known for their particularly bitter invective against all forms of religion. The above claim to stand for reason and science against irrationality and unreason. But while they are especially protective of science, and who gets to speak for it or use its findings, they are cavalier regarding theology and the humanities, including history.

Johnstone is appalled by this attitude. Instead of respecting history and its scholarship, he compares Dawkins, Harris et al to hunter-gatherers. They are not interested in exploring history, but rather using it as a grab-bag of examples of atrocities committed by the religious. In so doing they ignore what historians really say about the events and periods they cite, and retail myth as history. These he regards as a kind of ‘Black Legend’ of theism, using the term invented in the early twentieth century by the Spanish historian Julian Juderas to describe a type of anti-Spanish, anti-Roman Catholic polemic. He states his book is intended to be just a defence of history, and takes no stance on the issue of the existence of God. From his use of ‘we’ in certain points to describe atheists and Humanists, it could be concluded that Johnstone is one of the many of the latter, who are appalled by the New Atheists’ venom.

One such religious doubter was the broadcaster John Humphries,  the author of the defence of agnosticism, In God We Doubt. Humphries stated in the blurb for the book that he considered himself an agnostic before moving to atheism. Then he read one of the New Atheist texts and was so shocked by it he went back to being an agnostic. The group first made its debut several years ago now, and although New Atheism has lost some of its initial interest and support, they’re still around.


Hence Johnstone’s decision to publish this book. While Dawkins’ The God Delusion was published almost a decade ago, the New Atheists are still very much around. They and their followers are still on the internet, and their books on the shelves at Waterstones. Dawkins published his recent work of atheist polemics, Outgrowing God: A Beginner’s Guide a few weeks ago at the beginning of October 2019. He accompanied its publication with an appearance at Cheltenham Literary Festival, where he was speaking about why everyone should turn atheist.

The events and the atrocities cited by the New Atheists as demonstrations of the intrinsic evil of religion are many, including the Inquisitions, the witch-hunts, anti-Semitism, the Crusades, the subjugation of women, colonialism, the slave trade and the genocide of the Indians, to which they also add human sacrifice, child abuse, censorship, sexual repression and resistance to science. These are too many to tackle in one book, and it confines itself instead to attacking and refuting New Atheist claims about the witch-hunts, the medieval persecution of heretics, and the question of whether Hitler was ever really Christian and the supposed Christian origins of Nazi anti-Semitism and the Holocaust.

The book also tackles historical movements and figures, that the New Atheists have claimed as atheist heroes and forerunners – the ancient Greek Atomists and two opponents of the witch-hunts, Dietrich Flade and Friedrich Spee. It then moves on to examine Sam Harris’ endorsement of torture in the case of Islamist terrorists and atheist persecution in the former Soviet Union before considering the similarity of some New Atheist attitudes to that of religious believers. It concludes with an attack on the dangerous rhetoric of the New Atheists which vilifies and demonises religious believers, rhetoric which could easily provoke persecution, even if its authors themselves are humane men who don’t advocate it.

Johnstone traces these atheist myths back to their nineteenth and pre-nineteenth century origins, and some of the books cited by the New Atheists as the sources for their own writings. One of the most influential of these is Charles MacKay’s 1843 Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. In many instances he shows them to be using very dated, and now refuted texts. With some of the modern works they also draw on, examination shows that often they ignore the authors’ own conclusions, which may differ considerably, or even be the complete opposite of their own.

In the case of the witch-hunts, Johnstone traces the oft-quoted figure of over nine million victims to an early nineteenth century German author, Gottfried Christian Voigt, who extrapolated it from the murder of the thirty witches executed in his home town of Quedlinburg from 1569 to 1683. He assumed this was typical of all areas throughout the period of the witch-hunts. The figure was picked up by the radical neo-Pagan and feminist movements of the 1970s. But it’s false. The real figure, he claims, was 50,000. And its intensity varied considerably from place to place and over time. The Portuguese Inquisition, for example, only killed one witch c. 1627. In other places, the inquisitors were conscientious in giving the accused a fair trial. Convictions for witchcraft were overturned and evidence was taken to prove the accused’s innocence as well as guilt. The Roman Inquisition also demanded the accused to provide a list of their enemies, as their testimony would obviously be suspect.

In regions where the discussion of witchcraft had resulted in the mass trial and execution of the innocent, the religious authorities imposed silence about the subject. Johnstone rebuts the statement of some Christian apologists that the Church was only complicit in these atrocities, not responsible for them. But he shows that they were an anomaly. Nearly all societies have believed in the existence of witches throughout history, but the period of witch-hunting was very limited. The problem therefore is not that religion and belief in the supernatural leads inexorably to persecution, but how to explain that it doesn’t.

He shows that the Church moved from a position of initial scepticism towards full scale belief over a period of centuries. The witch-hunts arose when maleficium – black magic – became linked to heresy, and so became a kind of treason. As an example of how secular and political motives were also involved in the denunciations and trials, rather than just pure religious hatred, he cites the case of the priest Urbain Grandier. Grandier’s case was the basis for Aldous Huxley’s novel, The Devils of Loudoun, which was filmed by Ken Russell as The Devils. Here it appears the motives for the trial were political, as Grandier had been an opponent of the French minister, Cardinal Richelieu. Johnstone also considers that as secular societies have also persecuted those they consider to be politically or morally deviant there exists in humanity a need to persecute. This means finding and identifying an anti-group, directly opposed to conventional society, whose existence and opposition demonstrates the value of that society.

KEN RUSSELL’S ‘THE DEVILS’ (1971)

The medieval persecution of heretics may also have been due to a number of causes and not simply due to the malign attitudes of religious believers. There was a period of nearly 700 years between the execution of the Roman heretic, Priscillian, in the fourth century and the revival of persecution the early eleventh. This arose in the context of the emergence and development of states and the expansion of papal and royal power, which involved church and crown extending their power over local communities. At the same time, the papacy attempted reforming the church, at first in response to popular demand. However, it was then faced with the problem of clamping down on some of the popular reform movements when they threatened to run out of its control.

As the case of the Waldensians shows, the line between orthodoxy and heresy could be an extremely fine one. Johnstone also raises the question here of whether one of the most notorious medieval heretical groups, the Cathars, ever existed at all. It is possible that their existence is an illusion created by the categories of heresies the inquisitors had inherited from the Church Fathers. These were forced onto a group of local communities in the Languedoc, where popular piety centred around the Good Men and Women. These were highly respected members of the community, who were believed to live exemplary Christian lives. They were therefore due proper respect, which to the inquisitors looked like heretical veneration.

Hitler’s Christianity is also highly debatable. The little reliable testimony states that he was indeed Roman Catholic, but doesn’t provide any evidence of a deep faith. He certainly at times claimed he was a Christian and was acting in accordance with his religious beliefs. But an examination of some of these quotes shows that they were uttered as a rebuttal to others, who stated that their Christian beliefs meant that they could not support Nazism. This raises the question of whether they were anything more than a rhetorical gesture. There is evidence that Hitler was an atheist with a particular hatred of Christianity. This is mostly drawn from his Table Talk, and specifically the English edition produced by Hugh Trevor-Roper. The atheist polemicist, Richard Carrier, has shown that it is derived from a French language version, whose author significantly altered some of the quotes to insert an atheist meaning where none was present in the original. However, Carrier only identified a handful of such quotes, leaving forty requiring further investigation. Thus the question remains undecided.

Johnstone also examine the Nazi persecution of the Jews from the point of view of the theorists of political religion. These consider that humans are innately religious, but that once secularisation has broken the hold of supernatural religion, the objects of veneration changes to institutions like the state, free market capitalism, the New Man, Communism and so on. Those who follow this line differ in the extent to which they believe that the Nazis were influenced by religion. Some view it as a hydra, whose many heads stood for Christianity, but also Paganism in the case of Himmler and the SS. But underneath, the source of the real religious cult was the race, the nation and Hitler himself. If these theorists are correct, then Nazism may have been the result, not of a continued persecuting Christianity, but of secularisation.

He also considers the controversial view of the German historian, Richard Steigmann-Gall, whose The Holy Reich considered that the Nazis really were sincere in their Christianity. This has been criticised because some of the Nazis it examines as examples of Nazi Christian piety, like Rudolf Hess, were minor figures in the regime, against vehement anti-Christians like Alfred Rosenberg. He also shows how the peculiar views of the German Christians, the Nazi Christian sect demanding a new, Aryan Christianity, where Christ was blond and blue-eyed, and the Old Testament was to be expunged from the canon, were similar to certain trends within early twentieth century liberal Protestantism. But the German historian’s point in writing the book was not simply to put culpability for the Nazis’ horrors on Christianity. He wanted to attack the comfortable distance conventional society places between itself and the Nazis, in order to reassure people that they couldn’t have committed such crimes because the Nazis were different. His point was that they weren’t. They were instead uncomfortably normal.

DEMOCRITUS

The New Atheists celebrate the ancient Greek Atomists because their theories that matter is made up of tiny irreducible particles, first put forward by the philosophers Epicurus and Democritus, seem so similar to modern atomic theory. These ancient philosophers believed that these alone were responsible for the creation of a number of different worlds and the creatures that inhabited them by chance.

Some of these were forms that were incapable of surviving alone, and so died out. Thus, they appear to foreshadow Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection. New Atheist writers bitterly attack Aristotle, whose own rival theories of matter and physics gained ascendancy until Atomism was revived in the seventeenth century. The natural philosophers behind its revival are credited with being atheists, even though many of them were Christians and one, Pierre Gassendi, a Roman Catholic priest. Their Christianity is thus seen as nominal. One also takes the extreme view that Galileo’s prosecution was due to his embrace of the atomic theory, rather than his argument that the Earth moved around the Sun.

But scholars have shown that the ancient atomic theory grew out of particular debates in ancient Greece about the fundamental nature of matter, and cannot be removed from that context. They were very different to modern atomic theory. At the same time, they also held beliefs that are to us nonsense as science. For example, they believed that the early creatures produced by atoms were fed by the Earth with a milk-like substance. They also believed in the fixity of species. Even where they did believe in evolution, in the case of humanity, this was more Lamarckian than Darwinian. Aristotle’s views won out over theirs not because of religious narrow-mindedness or ignorance, but because Aristotle’s had great explanatory power.

The scientists, who revived it in the seventeenth century, including Boyle and Newton, were sincere Christians. They believed that atoms created objects through divine agency because the ancient Greek explanation – it was all chance without a theory of momentum – genuinely couldn’t explain how this could occur without God. As for Galileo, the historian who first suggested this extreme and largely discredited view, believed that he was a victim of papal politics, and that there had also been a party within the Vatican and the Church, which supported his theories.

Discussing the two witch-hunters celebrated by the New Atheists as atheist, or at least, Sceptical heroes, the book shows that this was not the case. Dietrich Flade seems to have been accused because he had fallen out with an ecclesiastical rival, Zandt, for being too lenient on the accused witches. But he also appears to have been protected by the church authorities until the accusations of witchcraft by accused witches became too many to ignore.

The other Sceptical hero, Friedrich Spee, was a Jesuit priest, who became convinced of the innocence of those accused of witchcraft through attending so many to the stake. He then wrote a book condemning the trials, the Cautio Crimenalis. But he was no sceptic. He believed wholeheartedly in witchcraft, but considered it rare. The use of torture was wrong, as it was leading to false confessions and false denunciations of others, which could not be retracted for fear of further torture. Thus the souls of the innocent were damned for this sin. But while good Christians were being burned as witches, many of the witch-hunters themselves were in league with Satan. They used the hunts and baseless accusations to destroy decent Christian society and charity.

But if the New Atheists are keen to ascribe a wide number of historical atrocities to religion without recognising the presence of other, social and political factors, they deny any such crimes can be attributed to atheism. Atheism is defined as a lack of belief in God, and so cannot be responsible for inspiring horrific acts. Johnstone states that in one sense, this is true, but it is also a question about the nature of the good life and the good society that must be constructed in the absence of a belief in God. And these become positive ideologies that are responsible for horrific crimes.

Johnstone goes on from this to attack Hector Avelos’ statement that the Soviet persecution of the Church was only a form of anti-clericalism, which all societies must go through. Johnstone rebuts this by describing the process and extent of Soviet persecution, from the separation of church and state in 1917 to the imposition of atheism by force. Churches and monasteries were closed and religious objects seized and desecrated, religious believers arrested, sent to the gulags or massacred. These persecutions occurred in cycles, and there were times, such as during the War, when a rapprochement was made with the Orthodox Church. But these periods of toleration were always temporary and established for entirely pragmatic and utilitarian purposes.

The goal was always the creation of an atheist state, and they were always followed, until the fall of Communism, by renewed persecution. The wartime rapprochement with the Church was purely to gain the support of believers for the campaign against the invading Nazis. It was also to establish state control through the church on Orthodox communities that had survived, or reappeared in border areas under Nazi occupation. Finally, the attack on the clergy, church buildings and religious objects and even collectivisation itself were done with the deliberate intention of undermining religious ritual and practice, which was considered the core of Orthodox life and worship.

Sam Harris has become particularly notorious for his suggestion that atheists should be trusted to torture terrorist suspects because of their superior rationality and morality compared to theists. Harris believed it was justified in the case of al-Qaeda suspects in order to prevent further attacks. But here Johnstone shows his logic was profoundly flawed. Torture was not introduced into medieval judicial practice in the twelfth century through bloodthirsty and sadistic ignorance. Rather it was intended as a reasonable alternative to the ordeal. Human reason, and the acquisition of evidence, was going to be sufficient to prove guilt or innocence without relying on supposed divine intervention. But the standards of evidence required were very high, and in the case of a crime like witchcraft, almost impossible without a confession.

The use of torture was initially strictly limited and highly regulated, but the sense of crisis produced by witchcraft resulted in the inquisitors abandoning these restraints. Similarly, Harris’ fear of terror attacks leads him to move from reasonable suspects, who may well be guilty, to those who are simply members of terrorist organisations. They are fitting subjects for torture because although they may be innocent of a particular offence, through their membership of a terrorist organisation or adherence to Islamist beliefs, they must be guilty of something. Finally, Harris also seems to see Islamism as synonymous with Islam, so that all Muslims everywhere are seen as enemies of the secular Western order. This is exactly the same logic as that which motivated the witch-hunts, in which witches were seen as the implacable enemies of Christian society, and so exempt from the mercy and humane treatment extended to other types of criminal.

From this Johnstone then goes on to consider how the New Atheists’ image of atheism and the process of abandoning belief in God resembles religious attitudes. Their belief that atheism must be guarded against the dangers of falling back into religious belief mirrors Christian fears of the temptation to false belief, such as those of the Protestant reformers towards the persistence of Roman Catholicism. At the same time, their ideas of abandoning God and so attaining the truth resembles the Christian process of conversion and membership of the elect. And the vitriol directed at the religious for continuing to believe in God despite repeated demonstrations of His nonexistence resembles the inquisitors’ attitude to heretics. Heresy differs from error in that the heretic refuses to be corrected, and so must be compelled to recant by force.

The book also shows the dangers inherent in some New Atheist rhetoric about religious believers. This runs in contrast to much New Atheist writing, which is genuinely progressive and expresses real sympathy with the marginalised and oppressed, and which advocates trying to see the world through their eyes. But no such sympathy is granted religious believers. They are described as children, who may not sit at the same table as adults. Or else, following the logic of religion as a virus, proposed by Dawkins, they are described as diseased, who do not realise that they have been infected and even love their condition.

Bringing children up religious is condemned as child abuse. A.C. Grayling is shown to have a utilitarian attitude in his own advocacy of secularisation. He first states that he supports it for creating multiculturalism, but then contradicts himself by stating that he looks forward to it undermining religion. This was the same attitude the Soviets initially adopted towards religion. When it didn’t disappear as they expected, they resorted to force. Peter Boghossian wants atheist ‘street epistemologists’ – the atheist version of religious street preachers – to attack believers’ religious beliefs in public. They are to take every opportunity, including following them into church, in order to initiate ‘Socratic’ discussions that will lead them to questioning their faith.

Johnstone states that this is an implicit denial of theists’ right to conduct their private business in public without atheist interference. It’s in line with the New Atheist demands that religion be driven from the public sphere, into the churches, or better yet, the home. The metaphor of disease and infection suggests that what is needed is for religious believers to be rounded up against their will and forcibly cured. It’s the same metaphor the Nazis used in their persecution of their victims.

He quotes the atheist philosopher Julian Baggini, who is dismayed when he hears atheists describing religion as a mental disease from which believers should be forcibly treated. As for the statement that religious upbringing equals child abuse, the seriousness of this charge raises the question of how seriously the New Atheists actually see it. If Dawkins and co. really believe that it is, then their lack of demand for state intervention to protect children from indoctrination, as they see it, from the parents shows that they don’t treat child abuse seriously.

The New Atheist rhetoric actually breaks with their concrete recommendations for what should be done to disavow believers of their religious views, which are actually quite mild. This is what Johnstone calls the ‘cavalierism of the unfinished thought’. They may not recommend coercion and persecution, but their rhetoric implies it. Johnstone states that he has discussed only one of several competing strands in New Atheist thinking and that there are others available. He concludes with the consideration that there isn’t a single atheism but a multiplicity of atheisms, all with differing responses to religious belief. Some of them will be comparably mild, but most will involve some kind of frustration at religion’s persistence. He recommends that atheists should identify which type of atheist they are, in order to avoid the violent intolerance inherent in New Atheist rhetoric. This agrees with his statement at the beginning of the book, where he hopes it will lead to an atheist response to religion which is properly informed by history and which genuinely respects religious believers.

The book is likely to be widely attacked by the New Atheists and their followers. Some of its conclusions Johnstone admits are controversial, such as the view that the Cathars never existed, or that the persecution of heretics was an integral part of the forging of the medieval state. But historians and sociologists of religion repeatedly show that in the persecutions and atrocities in which religion has been involved, religion is largely not the only, or in some cases even the most important reason. Johnstone’s views on witchcraft is supported by much contemporary popular and academic treatments. His statement that the figure of over nine million victims of the witch-hunt is grossly exaggerated is shared by Lois Martin in her The History of Witchcraft (Harpenden: Pocket Essentials 2002). The Harvard professor, Jeffrey Burton Russell in his Witchcraft in the Middle Ages (Ithaca: Cornell University Press 1972) also shows how Christian attitudes towards witchcraft passed from the scepticism of the Canon Episcopi to belief as the responsibility for its persecution passed from the bishops to the Holy Office.

Early law codes treated maleficium – black or harmful magic – purely as a civil offence against persons or property. It became a religious crime with the development of the belief that witches attended sabbats where they parodied the Christian Eucharist and worshiped Satan. A paper describing the scrupulous legality and legal provisions for the accused’s defence in the Roman Inquisition can be found in the Athlone History of Witchcraft and Magic In Europe IV: The Period of the Witch Trials, Bengt Ankerloo and Stuart Clarke eds., (Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press 2002). Other writers on religion have noted the similarity between the late medieval and early modern witch-hunts and paranoid fears about Freemasons, Jews and Communists in later centuries, including the Holocaust, Stalin’s purges and McCarthyism. They thus see it as one manifestation of the wider ‘myth of the organised conspiracy’. See Richard Cavendish, ‘Christianity’, in Richard Cavendish, ed., Mythology: An Illustrated Encyclopedia (London: Orbis 1980) 156-69 (168-9).

The Soviet persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church is described by Rev. Timothy Ware in his The Orthodox Church (London: Penguin 1963). Ludmilla Alexeyeva also describes the Soviet persecution of the Orthodox Church, along with other religions and national and political groups and movements in her Soviet Dissent: Contemporary Movements for National, Religious and Human Rights (Middletown, Connecticutt: Wesleyan University Press 1985). R.N. Carew Hunt’s The Theory and Practice of Communism (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1950) shows how leading Communists like Lenin believed atheism was an integral part of Communism and the Soviet state with a series of quotations from them. An example of Lenin’s demand for an aggressive atheism is his speech, ‘On the Significance of Militant Materialism’ in Lenin: Selected Works (Moscow: Progress Publishers 1968). 653-60.

It is also entirely reasonable to talk about religious elements and attitudes within certain forms of atheism and secular ideologies. Peter Rogerson in many of his well-reasoned articles in Magonia pointed out how similar some of the sceptics’ attacks on superstition and the supernatural were to narratives of religious conversion. His attitude is shared with some academic sociologists, historians and political theorists. Peter Yinger’s section on ‘Secular Alternatives to Religion’ in The Religious Quest: A Reader, edited by Whitfield Foy (London: Open University Press 1978) 537-554, has articles on the ‘Religious Aspects of Postivism’, p. 544, ‘Faith in Science’, 546, ‘Religious Aspects of Marxism’, p. 547, ‘Totalitarian Messianism’ 549, and ‘Psychoanalysis as a Modern Faith’, 551. For some scholars, the similarities of some secular ideologies to religion is so strong, that they have termed them quasi-religions.

While some atheists resent atheism being described as religion, this term is meant to avoid such objections. It is not intended to describe them literally as religions, but only as ideologies that have some of the qualities of religion. See John E. Smith’s Quasi-Religions: Humanism, Marxism and Nationalism (Macmillan 1994). New Atheism also mimics religion in that several of the New Atheists have written statements of the atheist position and edited anthologies of atheist writings. These are A.C. Grayling’s The Good Book and Christopher Hitchens’ The Portable Atheist. The title of Grayling’s book is clearly a reference to the Bible. As I recall, it caused some controversy amongst atheists when it was published, as many of them complained that atheism was too individual and sceptical to have a definitive, foundational text. In their view, Grayling’s book showed the type of mindset they wanted to escape when they left religion.

The fears of the terrible potential consequences of New Atheist rhetoric despite the avowed intentions of its authors is well founded and timely. There have been sharp complaints about some of the vitriolic rhetoric used to attack particular politicians in debates about Brexit which has resulted in assault and harassment. At the same it was reported that anti-Muslim hate crimes spiked after the publication of Boris Johnson’s column in which he described women wearing the burqa as looking like letterboxes. Neither religion, nor secularism and atheism should be immune from criticism. But Johnstone is right in that it should be correctly historically informed and careful in the language used. Otherwise the consequences could be terrible, regardless of the authors’ own humane feelings and sympathies.

Have I Got News For You Pushes the Anti-Semitism Smears against Corbyn

Hey, ho! Another day, another anti-Semitism smear against the Labour party from the Beeb. I might be overreacting here, but my respect for Victoria Coren has just taken a very severe dent. On Have I Got News For You tonight she made a very stupid joke about Corbyn believing in the classic conspiracy theory about Jewish bankers. She told the world that Labour had gone from a surplus in funds of several million to being £650,000 in debt. She then told Corbyn, ‘Jeremy, if you want to know someone good with money, it’s the Jewish bankers you believe are conspiring against you.’ Or something like that. I’ve forgotten the precise wording, but no doubt someone will put it up on YouTube tomorrow. But whatever the wording, she definitely mentioned Corbyn and the Jewish banking conspiracy.

I’m really disappointed as I thought she was better than that.

I can’t say I’m a fan of Have I Got News For You. I got sick and tired of seeing the Beeb push lies on it. It annoyed me so much at one point I stopped watching it completely. I wasn’t really keen on seeing it tonight, truth be told. Perhaps I should have kept well away.

But for the information of Victoria Coren-Mitchell and anyone else who might be taken in by the media’s lies, neither Jeremy Corbyn nor his followers believe in stupid, murderous theories about Jewish bankers. Indeed, as Mike and so many others have put up on their blogs, Corbyn has a proud record of defending the British Jewish community. He even criticised the Beeb and other broadcasters for not putting on enough programmes to cater for the Jewish community. What he has done to cause outrage to the Conservative British Jewish establishment – the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council and former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, among others, is demand proper civil rights and equality for Palestinians. Freedom from torture, house demolitions, arbitrary arrest, seizure and eviction from ancestral lands by the Israeli state and militant settlers, the dismantlement of the system of apartheid that exactly mirrors that of White South Africa. You know, basic human rights like that.

In his criticism of Israel, Corbyn has enjoyed the support of Jews, who share his concerns. Hajo Meyer, at whose speech criticising Israel Corbyn committed the heinous crime of nodding in agreement, is not only Jewish but a Holocaust survivor. Many of the entirely decent people smeared as anti-Semites and suspended or expelled from the Labour party by their kangaroo court, are also Jews. People like Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker, Martin Odoni and many, many others.

No-one from the BBC has ever had the decency to talk to any of the people smeared by the witch-hunters, whether anti-racist gentiles like Mike or Ken Livingstone, or the self-respecting, Torah-observant and secular Jews like those I’ve mentioned. They have sought comments on the anti-Semitism smears from people like the Israel-critical Jewish American scholar, Norman Finkelstein, and have given only grudging airtime to Jewish Voice for Labour. Nor has anyone mentioned that some of the heroes of the Warsaw Uprising against the Nazis, like Marek Edelman, were also supporters of the Palestinians. Indeed, Edelman caused notoriety in Israel by stating that the Palestinian rebels were the equivalent of his comrades in their revolt against occupation and murder by the Nazis. Edelman has passed on, but his legacy as an anti-Fascist and supporter of Palestinian rights is admired by veteran anti-racists in the Labour party like Tony Greenstein. A man who is also justly proud of the way British Jews and their gentile comrades in the Labour movement and trade unions resisted Mosley and his thugs before the War.

All this has gone by the wayside. Instead, the Beeb has followed the media pack and its self-imposed groupthink, and pushed ad nauseam the lie that Corbyn and the Labour party are institutionally anti-Semitic. And this latest smear of Corbyn is very suspicious in its timing. Zelo Street yesterday suggested that Louise Ellman’s resignation and the way news of it seemed to come first from the wretched Guido Fawkes was deliberately timed to do damage to Labour. Boris Johnson was in trouble, there hadn’t been an anti-Semitism smear scandal in a little while, so lo! Ellman manufactured one. As has the Beeb. As Mike and Zelo Street have pointed out, Ellman was a Thatcherite entryist parachuted into Liverpool by Blair. Jewish members of her constituency party have made a video stating that they have always been welcomed in the party and they do not recognise her comments about it.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/10/louise-ellman-and-guido-fawkes.html

Good riddance to Louise Ellman and her lies about Corbyn and anti-Semitism

I don’t expect anything better than the BBC in this. The Beeb has been pushing the anti-Semitism smears ever since they were first made. But I did expect better of Victoria Coren-Mitchell. How wrong I was.

 

Private Eye Cheers Defunding Campaign Against the Canary

I’ve blogged many times before about Private Eye’s hatred of Jeremy Corbyn and their poisonous support for the anti-Semitism smear campaign against Labour. One of those pushing it in the Eye is ‘Ratbiter’, revealed by Tony Greenstein a little while ago to be the pseudonym of Groaniad/Absurder hack Nick Cohen. Cohen, who isn’t actually Jewish despite his name, is clearly one of those miffed that Labour has elected someone who’s actually going to do something for Britain’s working people, and isn’t prepare to ignore or support crimes committed by the British establishment’s favourite colonialist state in the Middle East. He’s the author of a piece, ‘Faking Hell…’ in this fortnight’s issue of the satirical rag for 18th-31st October 2019, praising the Stop Funding Fake News organisation for their campaign to stop advertisers using those social media sites they consider to be outlets for fake news. Cohen’s article starts by praising the site for doing what he believes Google should be doing in preventing firms advertising with extremist web sites. He starts off by describing how those on the extreme right have had their advertising revenues hit, as firms like Sky, Macmillan Cancer Care, Which?, the World Wide Fund for Nature, Manchester United, Chelsea, Ted Baker, Experian and Ebay have requested Google to take down their advertising on Breitbart, Westmonster, and TR, the site of the notorious islamophobe and jailbird Tommy Robinson. Thanks to their campaign, Robinson’s site has lost 70 per cent of its income. Which might stop some of his jaunts abroad for a little while. But almost inevitable, the article goes on to attack The Canary. This has been a particular bete noir of the Eye for some time. They really don’t seem able to stand the idea that there are any social media sites supporting Corbyn, not least because they’re also a rival to the lamestream media. Which also includes Private Eye. Describing SFFN’s attacks on The Canary and its effects, Cohen says

While far-right sites target Muslim immigrants, far-left sites target Jews. “The Canary”, the campaign tells its followers and advertisers, “regularly publishes fake news and attempts to justify anti-Semitism”. it also feeds the conspiracy theories of the far left. One hideous example came when the campaign discovered that Unicef, which tends to the victims of the Syrian and Venezuelan regimes, was advertising on the Canary, which has denied the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and pretended that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad did not use chemical weapons against Syrian civilians in Douma. In August, the Canary cut its staff from 25 to seven. Perhaps inevitably, it blamed “political Zionists” targeting advertisers.

The toppling of the Canary is “the strongest evidence yet that the clickbait business model can be defeated”, the campaign said. Combine it with changes to Facebook’s algorithms to reduce the prominence of media businesses, and fake news in the UK is taking a hit.

Let’s go through and critique this pile of driveling hogwash. 

Firstly, the Canary isn’t a ‘far left’ site. As I understand it, it supports Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn’s programme of nationalisation, the restoration of the NHS, welfare state, worker’s rights and trade unions, isn’t extreme left, except in the addled brains of convinced Thatcherites. It’s actually a return to the social democratic consensus, which was actually the centre left before the appearance of Thatcher and her campaign of privatisation, deregulation and the destruction of the welfare state and the decimation of working class organisations.

Secondly, it doesn’t promote anti-Semitism. What it has done is attack, rebut and refute the anti-Semitism smears against the Labour party and specifically Corbyn’s and his supporters. And these are very much politically motivated. It comes from the Blairites, who are determined to cling to power whatever the cost, the British political and media establishment, which is simply terrified of anyone giving back any power to working people, and the Israel lobby. And a large part of it comes from the Israel lobby. Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker, Asa Winstanley of the Electronic Intifada, and the Jewish American academic and critic of Israel, Norman Finkelstein,  have described at length how Israel and its supporters have been smearing any and all critics of Israel as anti-Semites since the 1980s, even when they are anything but Jew-haters, as in the case of those above. It’s their only defence against the justifiable criticism and condemnation of Israel’s government for its crimes against the Palestinians. It’s hasbara, the Hebrew term for Israeli civilian propaganda. The campaign against Israel’s critics, including Corbyn, is run by a special department of the Israeli state. This is why one of those smeared as an anti-Semite is Cyril Chilson. Mr Chilson is the son of a Russian Red Army pilot and a holocaust survivor.  He’s Israeli, and served in the IDF and then an intelligence unit producing such propaganda. It’s because of his work for the Israeli military that he recognised the attacks on Corbyn and his supporters for what it was, and denounced it. And as result, this man, the son of people whose resistance and survival of Nazism was truly heroic, has been smeared as a Jew-hater. Disgusting.

Thirdly, the Anglo-American media have been producing fake news about Venezuela and Syria. Some of the footage of refugees supposedly fleeing persecution by Maduro’s regime was faked. Independent experts analysing the footage and evidence of the chemical weapons attack at Douma have come to the conclusion that this was also faked. Assad is a monster, who has killed and tortured in order to maintain power, and he does oppress his country’s Sunni Muslim population. But it doesn’t look like he was responsible for that atrocity. That lies instead with the ‘freedom fighters’ – ahem- which we’re supporting. You know, groups connected with ISIS and what evolved from the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda. But the neocons have been pushing for the overthrow of the Syrian regime since the 1990s, because Assad is a Shi’a, like the Iranian regime, although of a much more radical branch of that faith. He’s therefore allied to Iran, which the Americans also want to overthrow. See the pieces produced by the Jimmy Dore Show about this.

Cohen in his attack on the Canary for rightly rejecting the received view of these events is therefore parroting Neocon propaganda.

Zelo Street has written extensively about Stop Funding Fake News, exposing how it attacks decent left-wing social media sites, while at the same time remaining very shadowy itself. No-one knows who runs it, as their identities and connections are very much hidden. The Sage of Crewe has therefore advised companies not to be influenced by their misinformation and pronouncements, until they themselves become much more transparent.

And then there’s Private Eye’s hypocrisy for printing this drivel.

Ian Hislop, the magazine’s editor, appeared on Radio 4 a few years ago in a piece about satire down the centuries, explaining that what his magazine attacked was humbug, double standards. Private Eye is one of the few mainstream magazines that tries to bring the public the news behind the news, exposing double-dealing, lies and hypocrisy in the press, the government and industry. But publishing this attack on the Canary is very hypocritical, consisting as it does of nothing but lies and propaganda.

The Defunding of Arab Satirists Al-Hudood

And it’s especially hypocritical as a few pages before Cohen’s wretched piece, there’s a little article in the magazine’s ‘Street of Shame’ column, ‘Joke Now, Pay Later’, about how the Arabic satirical website, Al-Hudood, was experiencing a funding crisis. Metro Bank has told them it will no longer act as their bank, and they have not been able to find anyone else to do so. There has been no explanation from the banks for this refusal to deal with them.

This seems to be the same tactics Stop Funding Fake News are taking with the Canary and other left-wing bloggers and vloggers: try to take them down through preventing people from supporting them financially. Perhaps whichever oppressive regime or organisation has leant on the banks to withdraw their support for al-Hudood also considers that they’re ‘fake news’ and a dangerous, extremist organisation.

Private Eye does much good in its exposure of some of the underhand dealings in Britain and around the world. But this attack on the Canary is, like their attacks on Corbyn and his supporters, just pure hypocritical establishment lies.

Count Dankula’s Dismissal of Labour Supporters and their Concern for the Palestinians

It has been pointed out, time and again, that there is very little real anti-Semitism on the left. Mike and other opponents and victims of the anti-Semitism smears haven’t denied it exists, but that it’s tiny. The overwhelming majority of anti-Semitism come from the right. Tony Greenstein has blogged countless times about the massive support Israel, and right-Zionist organisations like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism enjoy on the Far Right. He’s put up photograph after photograph showing various viciously intolerant pro-Israel groups demonstrating shoulder to shoulder with racist, islamophobic and Fascistic organisations like the Jewish Defence League, the EDL and Britain First. But you won’t read about this from the lamestream press and media. Or from Z-lists celebs and trolls like Rachel Riley and Tracy Ann Oberman.

The real reason for the mass smearing of decent, anti-racist women and men in the Labour party – people like Mike, Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Martin Odoni and so on, ad nauseam, is nothing to do with anti-Semitism. It’s the Labour right trying to purge the party of Corbyn’s supporters, and right-Zionist groups, which include the Jewish Labour Movement, trying to close down any criticism of Israel. Decent people like those above, have been smeared either because they’ve stood up for the rights and dignity of the Palestinians, or defend those who have after they were smeared as anti-Semites.

And it seems one of those, who shares the witch-hunters contempt for Labour supporters defending the Palestinians, is Count Dankula. Dankula, real name Mark Meechan, was one of the right-wing internet personalities like Sargon of Akkad, aka Carl Benjamin, who joined UKIP, thus helping it towards its massive electoral implosion and total demolition at the last elections. Dankula’s the bloke, who was convicted of hate speech after he posted a video online about how he’d taught his girlfriend’s pug to do the Nazi salute when he shouted ‘Heil Hitler!’ or ‘Gas the Jews!’

Meechan has tried to excuse his behaviour as just a tasteless joke, and defend it as a free speech issue. Looking at some of his videos, don’t think Meechan is an anti-Semite. And he does seem genuine in his defence of free speech. He does seem genuinely concerned about its suppression in so many parts of the world, like North Korea, for example. He’s not a free speech absolutist, but he does see the right to say and write grossly offensive and sometime immoral material as part of this issue. He also sympathises with everyone, even those whose political opinions are the polar opposite of his, who has fallen victim to censorship through the same speech codes that forbid racist, misogynist, or otherwise bigoted and hateful material.

But he also shares the witch-hunters’ contempt for supporters of the Labour Party, who protest against the brutal maltreatment of the Palestinians. In a video posted on 21st August 2018, ‘A Salty Peanut’, Dankula critiques a video made by one of his opponents, celebrating his conviction for hate speech. Five minutes 40 seconds into the video, there’s a clip of this man criticising Israel for the gunning down of Palestinian protesters. After this, at the 5.53 mark, Dankula simply says to the camera ‘A Labour supporter.’ I’m not posting a link to the video or showing it on this blog, as I don’t want someone from the Campaign from Anti-Semitism or the Gnasherjew troll collective using it to smear me as an anti-Semite, as they’ve lied and smeared Jackie Walker and so many others. But the video is up on YouTube, and all you have to do to find it is find Dankula’s channel and look for its title.

Dankula’s video shows just who else on the political right shares the same views about pro-Palestinian activists in Labour as Tracy Ann Oberman, Rachel Riley, David Collier and the rest of the witch hunters: a man, who was convicted of anti-Semitism for teaching his girlfriend’s dog to make the Nazi salute. While I believe it’s not evidence that Dankula really is an anti-Semite, it does show who the right-wing supporters of Israel really are, and their support for anti-Semitism witch-hunt against the Labour party. It’s further evidence of the kind of people, who support the likes of Oberman and Riley, and in turn shows the witch-hunter’s  hypocrisy very clearly.

 

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