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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


“People Are Being Hunted Down” – ICE Launches Rights-Busting Onslaught Against Sanctuary Cities

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 07/03/2020 - 4:45am in


News, Ice, immigration

Operation Palladium has begun. Hundreds of agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have entered New York and other sanctuary cities in a fresh attempt to round up undocumented immigrants. The directive, according to officials, is simple: arrest as many undocumented immigrants as possible and “flood the streets” with officers. Beginning a 24/7 surveillance and detention program, ICE leadership has requested over 500 special agents who normally work fighting trafficking and organized crime to bolster the agency’s numbers. This follows an earlier decision to deploy immigration SWAT teams to round up undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities.

“I have gotten frantic texts from people that they are spotting ICE in their New York City buildings knocking on doors. They are terrified. This is happening TODAY. RIGHT NOW. People [are] being hunted down,” said journalist Maria Hinojosa.

New York Times reporter Annie Correal shared a viral image taken through the peephole of a Bronx apartment showing an ICE agent brandishing an assault weapon, demanding to enter. Correal claims that the officers were going door to door, threatening to force their way in and residents said that they did not present a warrant, both breaches of the law.

Without a warrant signed by a judge, ICE agents are unable to force their way into a home. They are therefore staking out targets and detaining them in public. In San Francisco, agents arrested a man on the steps of the Hall of Justice as he appeared for a court hearing on Tuesday, something Public Defender Mano Raju noted was explicitly against California law. The city’s District Attorney Chesa Boudin condemned the act; “ICE actions in or near our courthouses deters people from accessing our justice system, making us all less safe,” he said. The incident was caught on camera.

Operation Palladium is the latest battle in the war between the hardline Trump administration and sanctuary cities across the country that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities in order to protect low-priority immigrants from deportation, while still turning over those who have committed serious crimes. The operation is currently active in many large cities throughout the nation, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Newark. Trump has withheld federal funds from those cities and has filed lawsuits against state and local governments in California, New Jersey and Washington State over their refusal to cooperate. An ICE official told the New York Times that the operation has been designed to take place in spurts in different locations in order to avoid negative media coverage.

ICE has stepped up their aggressive actions of late, often behaving recklessly. Last month they shot a Mexican tourist in the face. Erick Díaz-Cruz was visiting his mother in New York City when the incident happened. And earlier this week The Intercept reported that the ICE New York office has been rigging an algorithm so it suggests keeping all arrestees in detention.

Brooklyn Defender Services and the American Civil Liberties Union joined forces on a campaign called “We Have Rights.” It aims to educate undocumented immigrants on what to do if they encounter ICE. They advise to not open your door, instead remaining calm and polite. They suggest asking officers to slip their identification documents and a signed warrant under the door. Without a warrant signed by a judge, it is illegal for ICE to search or enter a home. They note that it is common for ICE to lie and advise you to inspect any documents carefully and take pictures of them. They also recommend saying nothing to them except “‘I do not consent for you to enter my home,” “I do not want to talk to you without a lawyer present,” and  “please leave.” After an encounter with ICE, it is also suggested that you take detailed notes about the event. If a loved one is arrested, details can usually be found at

ICE is a contentious and partisan issue in American politics, and is the least popular government agency, according to a Pew survey. While Trump ran and won on a campaign of building a wall and demonizing undocumented immigrants, and around three-quarters of Republicans hold a positive view of ICE, a plurality of Democrats support abolishing the agency altogether. Like many issues, young people are far more progressive than the elderly, with more voters under 30 supporting getting rid of it than keeping it, but over two-thirds of retirees advocate the agency’s continuing existence.

Feature photo | A photo posted on Twitter by Annie Correal shows an armed ICE agent through the peephole of an apartment

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post “People Are Being Hunted Down” – ICE Launches Rights-Busting Onslaught Against Sanctuary Cities appeared first on MintPress News.

Europe fails refugees again

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/03/2020 - 10:52pm in

Once again, Europe is failing in its duties towards refugees. The latest episode is the decision of Turkey’s President Erdoğan to permit and even to encourage thousands of people to cross into Greece in order to pressure the EU to do more to support Turkey in its conflict with Russia and the Assad regime in Syria’s Idlib province, itself a site of mass forced displacement where people who have fled Aleppo and other conflict areas in Syria are now concentrated. Erdoğan’s instumentalization of migrants and refugees is cynical and calculated, but that doesn’t excuse the failure of Europe to do its part. Turkey already hosts 3.7 million displaced people from Syria on its territory and the EU has viewed the country as a convenient buffer to keep them from its borders, paying Erdoğan €6 billion to warehouse them.

In recent times refugees who have reached Greece have been penned in overcrowded camps on the Greek islands, such as Moria on Lesbos and now the BBC has disturbing footage of children in pens at Mytilene port. If the EU uses Turkey as a holding cage for refugees, it also sees Greece as its next line of interior defence, however much the hapless Ursula von Leyden might declare her “solidarity” with the country. Greece is now using force to repel “illegal” border crossers and is refusing to assess claims for asylum. (Although those is its camps are already facing two-year delays for the assessment of their claims). All of this a clear breach of international law under which refugees have a plain right to have their claims for asylum assessed, where unauthorized border-crossing is not illegal for refugees, and where states that are parties to the Refugee Convention have strict duties of non-refoulement. Von der Leyden has expressed her sympathy for those “lured by false promises”: but the principal false promises are those made by the states she represents when they voluntarily became parties to the Convention.

It might be possible to have a bit more sympathy with Europe’s leaders if it were not plain that their policy is to keep out refugees by any means necessary. Other, poorer, countries, including Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Jordan and Lebanon do far more for refugees that these wealthy states. Europe does next to nothing by way of refugee resettlement and the conditions in places like Moria make even Donald Trump look welcoming and enlightened. The EU supposedly wishes to uphold a liberal international order, but a key component of that order and its claim to legitimacy (see David Owen’s recent book) is to take responsibility for the human beings that order fails when the states that are supposed to protect their human rights percecute them or when those states disintegrate in conflict, as Syria has. You cannot preach about internationalism, the rule of law and human rights if you can’t uphold those “European values” on your own territory and borders.

Reed-Sandoval’s “Philosophy for Children in the Borderlands Field School” Wins Major Grant

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 29/02/2020 - 12:30am in

Amy Reed-Sandoval, assistant professor of philosophy  and participating faculty in the Latinx and Latin American Studies Program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has won a Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship to support her Philosophy for Children in the Borderlands Field School.

Amy Reed-Sandoval

The Whiting Public Engagement Fellowships support “faculty in the humanities who embrace public engagement as part of the scholarly vocation.” Each fellow receives $50,000 for a public-facing project.

Here’s a description of Professor Reed-Sandoval’s project, which continues work she began while she was at the University of Texas, El Paso (see this previous post):

Children in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands contend with a range of challenging questions in their day-to-day lives. What are borders? Why do some people get to be citizens of the country where I live, and not others? What’s the difference between being Mexican and being American? Can you be both, and what am I?

In 2014, Amy Reed-Sandoval founded the Philosophy for Children (P4C) in the Borderlands program to guide children in thinking through these fundamental questions using the tools and methods of philosophy. The program has since reached hundreds of children in the El Paso-Juárez region and has trained a legion of teachers to lead P4C sessions, many of whom have gone on to start their own P4C programs. Reed-Sandoval will use the Fellowship to expand the program to three community centers—two in Ciudad Juárez and one in El Paso—while launching a new field school to train a cohort of K-12 teachers, childcare workers, and philosophy students to teach P4C classes with special attention to the needs of young people in border areas.

Participants in the field school will draw from pedagogical literature and their experiences in the classroom to create and disseminate open-access lesson plans designed to inspire similar P4C initiatives in bilingual, bicultural environments. With local community leaders working increasingly hard to lift up children’s voices in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, Reed-Sandoval intends to use the field school to support these efforts while growing the program’s reach throughout the region.

Only six Whiting fellowships are awarded annually.

To learn more about Professor Reed-Sandoval’s project, visit the Philosophy for Children in the Borderlands site.

The post Reed-Sandoval’s “Philosophy for Children in the Borderlands Field School” Wins Major Grant appeared first on Daily Nous.

Book Review: Unjust Borders: Individuals and the Ethics of Immigration by Javier Hidalgo

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 26/02/2020 - 10:45pm in

In Unjust Borders: Individuals and the Ethics of ImmigrationJavier S. Hidalgo makes a clear and engaging case for open borders, arguing that immigration control is unjustly coercive and outlining the responsibilities we have as individuals when it comes to responding to this injustice. This book is essential reading for scholars studying migration and policymakers policing it, writes Mollie Gerver, as well as for all citizens deciding what to do in a world where borders remain closed and movement remains curtailed. 

Unjust Borders: Individuals and the Ethics of Immigration. Javier S. Hidalgo. Routledge. 2018.

Find this book: amazon-logo

Shortly before New Year’s 2020, the Byron Burger chain added a brunch menu, a vegan option, a quirky new logo and a revamped interior design with ‘Nordic style and California tones’. It opted for this facelift partly to distance itself from a 2016 PR disaster. That year, in early July, workers reported that it had invited migrant staff members to a fake ‘health and safety” meeting. As staff showed up, immigration officers swept in, eventually arresting 35 migrants from countries including Brazil, Nepal, Egypt and Albania.

Byron Burger’s collaboration with immigration authorities was condemned on social media. Twitter users noted the workers had been paying taxes and improving the UK’s economy, and many workers were from low-income countries, merely seeking to improve their lives. In response, an op-ed in the Independent defended the company’s actions. Not only would Byron have faced fines and closure had it not complied with officials, but the workers were not refugees, and many had used fraudulent documents to obtain work. They were not victims of any human rights violations, and so Byron did no wrong.

Javier S. Hidalgo’s Unjust Borders: Individuals and the Ethics of Immigration provides precise and persuasive arguments for why firms like Byron do commit wrongs when complying with immigration authorities, and why deported workers are victims of human rights violations.

The first chapter of the book (11-29) sets out an argument in support of open borders, starting with the premise that individuals have a presumptive right to be free from coercion. For example, it would be wrong for a police officer to block you from leaving your neighbourhood, as there would be a range of important choices you could not make: you couldn’t work, meet friends, date, attend a political meeting or pray at your out-of-town mosque, church, synagogue or temple. These and other abilities are constitutive of basic freedoms, including freedom of occupation, speech, conscience and association. These same freedoms are undermined when nation states prevent migrants from crossing borders.

Of course, it may seem that moving to another nation state is different, because other states do not owe us the same duties as our own states: if a police officer prevents you from leaving your neighbourhood, the police officer wrongs you as a co-national, but if a UK immigration officer prevents a non-British national from working at Byron, she does not wrong the worker as a co-national. Moreover, the immigration officer might even be helping British citizens, assuming some level of immigration control is necessary to ensure that citizens maintain a given quality of life. Hidalgo demonstrates a flaw in these claims: immigration control entails coercive force, and it is wrong to use coercive force against someone in order to benefit someone else. For example, it would be wrong to assault a job candidate so that one’s daughter gets the job instead. Whatever duties we have towards family and co-nationals do not justify assaulting the innocent (36-37). The UK assaults the innocent by stopping migrants from working in the UK, even if it helps British citizens in the process.

Hidalgo is not an absolutist when it comes to immigration. He does think that immigration restrictions are justified when immigration brings about sufficiently bad consequences overall (57). However, Hidalgo argues that such bad consequences rarely come about in practice. This is because migrants tend to increase wages in the long run, do not have an impact on the state’s overall finances and do not increase crime in general (though they do sometimes). While opening up borders overnight is too hasty, a gradual opening of borders is justified (66-68, 77).

Many people may not be persuaded by Hidalgo’s defence of opening borders. As he notes, only between 1 and 7 per cent of citizens surveyed in seven nations think immigration should increase ‘a lot’. He nonetheless makes another, less controversial, claim: today’s immigration restrictions are largely unjust even by less radical standards. If immigration control is ever unjust – and I imagine many readers of this blog will agree it is – this has implications for what migrants are permitted to do themselves. Hidalgo defends migrants’ rights to use evasion, deception and even harmful force against border authorities, when these actions are a necessary and proportionate means of resisting unjust immigration laws (119). Citizens are similarly permitted to evade immigration enforcement if this too is necessary to help migrants avoid far more harm. For example, if a manager at Byron were aware that migrant workers would be targeted at the next ‘health and safety’ meeting, she would be permitted to tip off the workers, or even provide them a place to hide, helping them avoid arrest.

Controversially, such a manager might even be obligated to evade immigration enforcement when she would face harm herself as a result, such as being fired. This is because humans can have duties to avoid committing an injustice even if the personal costs they would experience are quite high. For example, if a person threatens to shoot your foot unless you shoot an innocent third party’s foot, you should just let them shoot your foot. This is because the duty to avoid actively doing harm is greater than the duty to avoid letting harm occur, and shooting another person is doing harm, while letting yourself be shot is letting harm occur (177). A burger-chain manager complying with authorities is doing harm against migrants, and so should refuse to comply even if this means being fired, as being fired is merely letting harm occur.

Hidalgo presents these and other arguments fluidly, clearly and in an extraordinarily engaging manner. He weaves together logic, case studies, fictional examples and hard data, effortlessly taking the reader through each claim he makes. Even if many readers disagree with some of Hidalgo’s arguments, they might still accept his core conclusions regarding the rights of migrants to circumvent clearly unjust controls, and the duties of individuals to not comply with these controls.

Though the book was compelling and persuasive, there are still some questions worth exploring. Here is one: might it ever be justified to prioritise one’s compatriots over would-be immigrants? In eliciting the intuition that prioritising one’s compatriots is unjust, Hidalgo asks us to imagine choosing between saving two strangers at sea, one a foreigner and one a compatriot (a philosophical example tragically close to the reality of some migrant experiences today). It seems wrong to choose the compatriot, and even worse to choose the compatriot over two foreigners. If so, it seems incorrect to claim that immigration control is justified merely because one is always permitted to prioritise one’s compatriots (37). While this argument is strong, our intuitions regarding the case might change if imagining someone who has already saved many people at sea, and no longer has a duty to save more, perhaps because swimming out again would be very difficult. Given this difficulty, and given her past assistance, perhaps she is permitted to choose who she saves. Those supporting immigration restrictions might claim they are like this potential swimmer: they have already helped a lot of people by paying taxes and foreign aid, and so can choose who they help, restricting immigrants if they wish to.

There are potential responses to the above objection. Citizens in high-income countries have unlikely fulfilled their duties towards outsiders, and so perhaps have a duty to not prioritise compatriots. Most importantly, Hidalgo’s other excellent points make the above objection somewhat irrelevant. He demonstrates that immigration control involves a great deal of coercion, and so even if we can prioritise compatriots before others, it does not follow that we can use outright physical force in doing so. Physical force requires a special justification.

Hidalgo’s analysis of this special justification is somewhat controversial. He claims that physical force in immigration control – i.e. arresting migrants, detaining them and deporting them – is only justified when there are sufficiently bad consequences overall (57). This conclusion seems rushed compared to his later brilliant application of the morality of self-defence. Self-defence, he rightly states, permits the use of force against those liable to harm, which is why migrants are often permitted to use force against border officials enforcing unjust immigration laws (114-37). What he fails to note is that self-defence might permit the use of force against those liable to harm even if this defence does not lead to better consequences overall. Imagine an individual personally exerts weeks of energy digging up a well, and the well has enough water to sustain only herself or three strangers. If three strangers try to access the well, perhaps she is permitted to use force against them, even though saving them might be a better consequence overall. Immigration control is not like defending a well, but it can involve defending resources which are important for an individual’s survival, or at least their wellbeing. If so, then contrary to Hidalgo’s claims, perhaps citizens are permitted to support immigration control that does not lead to better consequences compared to a world of open borders. For example, indigenous groups may be permitted to use force against potential settlers entering their territory, even if better consequences overall might ensue with the settlers’ entrance. The indigenous groups needn’t always weigh the settlers’ wellbeing as equal to their own, so they can prioritise their own interests to an extent.

If individuals are permitted to prioritise their own interests to an extent, this has implications not only for when force is justified, but for when assistance is obligatory. Hidalgo persuasively demonstrates that citizens can be obligated to avoid actively harming migrants, but does not address whether firms are permitted to not hire migrant workers to begin with. Not hiring migrants appears to be merely letting migrants face harm, and so perhaps firms like Byron are permitted to not hire migrant workers at all if the consequences for the firms are serious enough.

At the least, this is a possibility left open by Hidalgo’s argument. Indeed, there are many new possibilities left open, precisely because his analysis is so novel.  He moves away from focusing only on the injustices migrants face, and on to the individuals who risk committing such injustices. Given how many people are involved in immigration enforcement – from the owners of high-street burger chains to the immigration officials at airports – there will be numerous debates about whether and when different agents have committed a wrong against migrants seeking to enter, and whether migrants themselves commit a wrong when attempting to do so. Addressing all such individuals means the book is truly comprehensive, not only trying to persuade the reader that borders should be open, but also presenting new debates largely overlooked in discussions on immigration. The book is therefore essential for scholars studying migration and policymakers policing migration. Importantly, it is also essential for citizens deciding what to do in a world where borders remain closed, and where movement remains curtailed.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 

Image Credit: Photo by David Wood on Unsplash.


Cartoon: Trumping our safety, 2020

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 25/02/2020 - 11:50pm in

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Follow me on Twitter at @JenSorensen

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

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 23/02/2020 - 10:24pm in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Keir Starmer’s 10 Pledges for the Labour Party

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

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

There’s a brief biography that runs

A Life Devoted to Fighting Injustice

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

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

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

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

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

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

His pledges are as follows

  1. Economic Justice.

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

2. Social Justice.

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

3. Climate Justice

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

4. Promote Peace and Human Rights.

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

5. Common Ownership.

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

6. Defend Migrant’s Rights.

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

7. Strengthen Workers’ Rights and Trade Unions.

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

8. Radical Devolution of Power, Wealth and Opportunity.

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

9. Equality.

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

10. Effective Opposition to the Tories.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Who will pick the turnips?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 21/02/2020 - 4:38am in

I have a new piece up at the LRB blog on the UK’s post-Brexit immigration plans. I argue that at the core of the plans is an intention to treat EU migrants and others as a vulnerable and exploitable workforce and that the logic of denying a long-term working visa route to the low paid leads to three possibilities: either the businesses that rely upon them will go bust, technology will substitute for labour, or the UK will have to start denying education to young Britons so that they become willing to be the underpaid workforce that picks turnips and cleans the elderly in social care.