universities

Vote No to the NTEU national framework agreement—defend every condition, fight for every job

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/05/2020 - 5:29pm in

The leadership of the NTEU both at a national and state level have struck a deal with the Vice-Chancellors that accepts significant cuts to conditions and pay. There needs to be a strong no vote rejecting this in the national electronic ballot of members to be held on 25 May.

The deal is being sold as a lifebuoy for “the most vulnerable”
staff members, a so-called “Job Protection Framework” touted to save up to
12,000 jobs.

Staff are being told, “it takes solidarity to save
jobs”, but by solidarity the NTEU executive actually means a pay cut of between
5 and 15 per cent for many permanent staff members. Even by their own calculations, thousands
of jobs will still be lost with at least 21,000 full-time
equivalent jobs at threat. Giving up our pay and conditions is not an act of
solidarity, it merely accepts the logic that it should be workers who pay for
this crisis, not the government or the bosses.

The agreement offers only dubious promises of
consultation; there are no guarantees that jobs will be protected.

Alongside the pay cut, the framework cedes power to
Vice-Chancellors, heads of school and school managers. For example, section
21of the National Framework’s “Heads of Agreement” document suggests that if
management can show that an academic’s ability to perform research is impacted
by COVID-19, they can allocate them additional teaching duties. This is a recipe
for mass casual job losses.

Astonishingly, many university managements
(including at Sydney Uni, UTS and ACU) are saying that the NTEU framework
agreement goes too far in eroding staff jobs and conditions. In NSW even the CPSU, which represents some professional
staff, has said it will “vigorously oppose it at every turn”, noting that the pay
cuts would also apply to lower paid professional staff.

Even at universities where management has rejected
the NTEU framework, staff will still be asked to take part in the national vote.
A strong no vote nationally will be important, as any vote for the national
agreement will weaken the possibility of fighting specific agreement variations
on individual campuses subsequently. A successful variation anywhere will
encourage all university bosses to seek similar changes to cut staff wages and enforce
greater “flexibility”. 

Even some rich universities are already lining up
to take whatever they can get.

Every university has the ability to take
out low interest loans to see themselves through this period. Instead,
university managements are crying poor as they sack casual staff, vastly
increase the work load of permanent staff members and attempt to
slash our pay.

The University of Melbourne is already moving to
cut courses and load up permanent staff with additional teaching in order to
shed casual jobs. Yet the university has hundreds of millions of dollars in
cash reserves and an enormous portfolio of investments and other assets.

Melbourne University management has already
rejected the National Framework and indicated that they will seek their own
variations to the enterprise agreement. The last few weeks have seen an
onslaught of propaganda from the NTEU leadership encouraging members to
accept variations that enshrine concessions, in the context of their own
proposed framework. This has made it easier for university administrations to
push for even worse changes.

We would be much better placed to fight the
upcoming bosses’ variation at Melbourne University if instead the leadership
had been preparing members for the serious fight we have on our hands. 

Tragically, the NTEU executive is following in the
wake of most of the union movement and offering concessions to the employers,
rather than building an industrial and political fight. A more positive
response has come from the NSW Teachers Federation which is opposing the threat
by the state Liberal government to impose a wage freeze.

The NTEU should be mounting a campaign against the
Morrison government to demand full government funding of the tertiary sector.
The 21 May National Day of Action should be the first step in a concerted
campaign to tell the federal government and university management that
university workers will not pay for the latest crisis in tertiary education.
 

We have paid too much already. The tertiary sector
was already a victim of neo-liberalism, suffering constant job-killing corporate
restructures and rates of casualisation among the worst in the country.
Universities are now seeking ways to use the COVID-19 crisis to push through
even more drastic cuts and course restructuring.

The National Executive’s framework will make us
weaker, not stronger. A number of branches have already voted to reject this
approach of offering concessions including cuts to pay and conditions. We need to build on
that. A strong no vote is the way to build union organisation: approximately
4000 members have joined the NTEU since the COVID-19 crisis hit. A No vote
will send a strong message to the National Executive that members demand that
they back a fight for jobs and funding.

Let’s fight for pay, conditions and every job

The consistent beacon of hope is the resistance of
NTEU members to both management and the union leadership’s framework. In the
opening throes of the COVID-19 crisis 100 casuals at the University of
Melbourne rallied for pandemic leave and occupied the foyer outside the
university’s COVID-19 task force office. They won guaranteed sick leave and
isolation leave within a matter of days.

In the last few weeks, members’ meetings across the
country have passed motions opposing concessions on pay and conditions, and
calling for a fighting campaign for government funding. It is this kind of
insurgent confidence and a willingness to fight that can steer us through these
difficult times, not the national leadership’s framework.

Pressure from NTEU members forced the leadership to
call a National Day of Action on 21 May. In Sydney and Melbourne, thanks to
agitation from rank and file members, this will not be just another selfie
action. There will be socially distant and safe public protests including car
and bike convoys that all NTEU members should join if they are able.

The National Day of Action is an opportunity to
build pressure on the Liberals to properly fund the shortfall and open up
JobKeeper for university workers. And it is an opportunity to flex our muscles
and build confidence, networks and organisation for the battle we are facing
against our Vice-Chancellors and school managers.

We need to “Vote No” to the National Agreement and
convince our colleagues to do the same. But to make the VCs and the Liberals
pay for this crisis, we need to build broader and stronger mobilisations.

We are not powerless in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. Managements everywhere are relying on the goodwill of staff to carry the extra burden of online classes and everything that goes with them. University managements and the government are vulnerable to political and industrial action. That’s the campaign that we need to build. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  1. Call branch meetings to carry resolutions opposing the National Executive’s framework agreement
  2. Form local action groups to campaign to “Vote No” in the national e-vote on 25 May
  3. Carry resolutions to call on staff members to refuse extra work usually done by casuals
  4. Join the 21 May National Day of Action
  5. Prepare “Vote No” campaigns against any moves to vary agreements at individual universities

The post Vote No to the NTEU national framework agreement—defend every condition, fight for every job appeared first on Solidarity Online.

To rediscover their public value universities can learn from the free culture movement

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/05/2020 - 8:00pm in

The culture of acceleration and quantification that arguably defines contemporary academic research is closely related to the information society in which we live and the technologies that support it. In this post Dafne Calvo, argues that the democratic decentralised principles of the free culture movement provide a blueprint for how academics and academic institutions might … Continued

University of South Carolina Announces Plan to Restart In-Person Classes the Fall

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 07/05/2020 - 9:45pm in

Yesterday, my school, the University of South Carolina, announced it is planning to restart in-person teaching this fall. This seems like a good move.

The main reason is that planning now to restart in the fall gives the university greater flexibility when it will need it. We don’t quite know how the pandemic will look in three months. If it turns out closer to then that it doesn’t seem wise to resume in-person teaching and other campus operations, the university can always delay their implementation. But if it turns out that it makes sense then, on balance, to do so, the university will be better prepared.

The plan is still in development. You can read the announcement about it from University of South Carolina President Bob Caslen here. Importantly, it stresses that faculty, staff, and students who do not feel comfortable returning to campus in the fall need not do so then:

While we would like as many students, faculty and staff members as possible to return in person, doing so would not be mandatory, as we recognize that some would be uncomfortable coming back to campus in August. We respect each person’s decision to either return or delay their return, and we will expand our online course offerings to accommodate those who choose to remain away.

The return to campus will be “phased in” in stages. Other elements of the plan include:

  • We will have the capacity to test every Student, Faculty and Staff member for COVID-19 upon return the campus
  • We have the capacity to sustain a robust testing program throughout the entire semester
  • We are reviewing several comprehensive tracing and tracking apps for early and thorough identification of at-risk contacts
  • We have designated ample student housing for those who may require isolation and quarantine, and we are putting in place the support services to provide for their meals, education, and other needs
  • We will increase on campus single-occupancy rooms in on-campus residence halls
  • We will modify our dining practices in order to reduce close student contact in student dining facilities through “grab and go” meals
  • We will make accommodations for high-risk individuals and others who choose to continue online instruction with safeguards for protection against discrimination and stigma
  • We will follow clear public health protocols, including social distancing within classrooms, lecture halls, meeting rooms and sports venues, with strong encouragement of proper social distancing off campus
  • We will ensure that large class sections will either meet in smaller sections or in online formats and create alternative academic offerings to accommodate safe class gatherings
  • We will provide advising over the summer to help all students adjust their course schedules as needed
  • And finally, as stated, no student, faculty or staff member will be required to return

At this stage, many of the details as to how these elements of the plan will be realized are missing. But they at least point to having an understanding of what’s needed to return to campus responsibly.

You can view a searchable list of universities’ plans for the fall in light of the pandemic here.

The post University of South Carolina Announces Plan to Restart In-Person Classes the Fall appeared first on Daily Nous.

Unrepresentative Jewish Group Makes Racist Demand to Labour to Expel Black Women MPs

This is absolutely atrocious behaviour from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, for which they should be roundly condemned by every genuinely anti-racist person in the country. Mike today has reported that the Board, led by its odious president, Marie van der Zyl, should expel two of its highly esteemed Black women MPs. The women they’re targeting are the Labour veteran, Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy. Why? Because they attended a conference on Zoom in which they took questions from the audience, which included two former Labour members, Tony Greenstein and Jackie Walker, whom the Israel lobby and Conservative – including Blairite – establishment had smeared as anti-Semites. And because Keir Starmer had stupidly tried to win their approval by signing their wretched ‘Ten Pledges’. One of these was that Labour Party members would not share a platform with those expelled from the party for anti-Semitism.

The Board is an unrepresentative body. Despite it claims to speak for all of Britain’s Jews, it really speaks for a tiny minority, the United Synagogue. It does not represent the Haredi Jews nor the Orthodox, who have their own bodies. Furthermore, it explicitly defines itself in its constitution as a Zionist organisation, which means that it does not represent non-Zionist Jews, of which there are many. The Board is, like the rest of the British establishment, by and large very Tory, though I would not care to say that all of its members are. Starmer, and the rest of the Labour leadership candidates, has given them, an organisation outside the Labour Party and hostile to it, dictatorial powers over whom it may accept as members, how they are to behave and with whom they may associate. Many of their demands, as Mike and others have pointed out to me, would not stand up if challenged in a court of law. Indeed, I have heard that they run directly counter to it. To many people, van der Zyl’s and the Board’s obnoxious demands look like both a domineering attempt to dictate to the Labour party and its members, and also a racist attack on two distinguished Black female MPs.

And not only is the Board morally wrong to demand their expulsion, it is also technically wrong according to the terms of its own wretched pledges. Jackie and Tony weren’t on the platform. They were members of the audience. And neither of them were expelled for anti-Semitism.

Mike reproduces a number of tweets from Labour members and supporters, who are very much aware of the gross injustice and sheer arrogance of the Board’s latest demand, and strongly condemn. They include Jackie Walker, the Alternative Daily News, ‘Saboteur Aesop’, ‘Stevewhiteraven’, Kerry-Ann Mendoza, Clare Curran, the Rt Rev’d Mojito and Simon Maginn.

Mike considers that this has put Starmer in quite a quandary, as if he gives into the Board there will be such a mass walkout that by Christmas it will only consist of him and Rayner.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/05/01/this-minority-interest-group-is-dictating-racist-membership-rules-to-the-labour-party-why/

As well as being racist, it also looks very politically motivated. The right has hated Abbott since she was a radical young firebrand in the 1980s. She was one of the first of the wave of Black and ethnic minority MPs that were then entering parliament, along with the late Bernie Grant. She was among the Labour MPs smeared by the Scum in the 1987 election. They claimed that she had said that all White people are racist. They hate her because she is very loud and outspoken in her attacks on anti-Black, anti-Asian racism. But she is also a close friend, and, so I have heard, a former lover of Jeremy Corbyn. This looks very much like the Conservative Board using this as an opportunity to attack a Labour MP they have always loathed.

Despite their claims, the Board and the Israel lobby have a very poor record when it comes to combating racism when it does not involve Jews. David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialist Group, a veteran anti-racist campaigner, states in one of the pieces on his blog that when he was in the Anti-Nazi League, the Board forbade Jews from joining or holding their meetings in synagogues. This was ostensibly because the founder of the Anti-Nazi League was an anti-Zionist, and they wished to stop impressionable Jews hearing criticism of Israel. But other Jewish left-wingers suspected there was also another agenda, to stop Jews supporting Blacks and Asians.

The Board’s demands for the two women’s expulsion also resembles the racist undertones behind the Blairites’ and Israel lobby’s demand for the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth. Wadsworth is a genuine anti-racist activist. He worked for the parents of Stephen Lawrence to meet Nelson Mandela, and with the Board in the 1980s to stop anti-Semitic assaults by the BNP around the Isle of Thanet. But he was the man, who supposedly made a Jewish Blairite MP cry when he caught her passing information on to the Telegraph at a meeting, and called her out for it. An angry squad of Blairites, including, I believe, Luciana Berger, descended on his hearing to demand his expulsion. All of them were White, and critics said it looked very much like a White lynching party about to attack a Black.

Jackie Walker, a very respectable anti-racism educator and activist, has also been subject to viciously racist abuse since the Israel lobby smeared her as an anti-Semite. Apart from the grotesque hate messages she’s received demanding that she should be hanged, or burnt and her body dumped in bin bags, she’s also been racially abused by Jews. She’s Black, and so, according to their limited ideas, can’t be Jewish. I got news for them. There have been communities of Black Jews in Ethiopia for a very long time. There are also Black Jews in the West. There’s a professor of Afro-Jewish Studies at one of the American universities, an American synagogue has even made a Black woman its rabbi. And some of the older readers of this blog will remember a certain Sammy Davis jnr, a very popular singer, dancer and film star, who was a member of the famous ‘Rat Pack’ which included Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.

But the Israel lobby also includes some individuals, who can certainly be fairly described as being Far Right. One of the ultra-Zionists, who turns up to protest pro-Palestinian meetings, was formerly a resident of apartheid South Africa and, it seems, very comfortable with its official racism. Others have links to the EDL and other islamophobic groups. Jonathan Hoffman, the former head of the Zionist Federation, has appeared at protests alongside Paul Besser of the extreme right-wing group, Britain First. There is also a couple who turn up to such protests, including those organised against Corbyn by the Campaign For Anti-Semitism and the Board of Deputies, wearing Kach T-shirts. Kach are an extreme right-wing Israeli terrorist group. There have also been Jews, who are extremely sympathetic to the British Nazi right. One Tory MP in Barnet, according to one anti-Zionist Jewish website I read, who used to complain that it was a pity the Conservatives and BNP were separate parties, as it divided the Nationalist vote. The great historian of the British Jewish community, Geoffrey Alderman, was also under pressure from the Board to remove the finding in one of his books in the 1970s that two per cent of the Jewish community support the National Front against Blacks and Asians. There were also some Fascists, who had no hatred of the Jews. Matthew Collins of the anti-racism, anti-religious extremism groups, Hope Not Hate, formerly a member of the BNP and other Nazi groups, recalls being told by another by another Fascist that he really couldn’t understand hatred of the Jews. This interesting snippet is in his book, Hate.

It is therefore completely possible and sensible to talk of Jewish White supremacism and anti-Black, anti-Asian racism.

Marie van der Zyl’s attacks on Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy is not only another partisan, Conservative, Zionist attempt to dictate to Labour under the spurious pretext of combating anti-Semitism, it also looks very much like anti-Black racism.

As one of the Tweeters quote by Mike says, get the Board out of the Labour party.

 

 

To Pay is to Die: The Threat of Student Debt and Homelessness

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 22/04/2020 - 1:25pm in

image/jpeg iconTo Pay is to die.jpg

A statement from the Bandilang Itim Collective on the continuation of school semesters and rent and debt obligations under the current state of pandemic.

All initiatives of students, tenants, and homeowners should be supported, and we encourage them to organize in order to assert their demands for their welfare and survival.

Bandilang Itim Collective

read more

Book on Vanished Jewish Communities of the Holocaust

Shmuel Spector, The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, 3 vols. (New York University Press, 2001). 

I found this book in the latest Postscript catalogue for April 2020. The blurb for it goes

Profiling more than 6,500 Jewish communities, with over 600 photographs, 17 pages of maps, a chronology and glossary, these volumes are the product of three decades of work at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Remembrance Authority of Israel. The alphabetically arranged entries provide details of the history, people and customs of communities, large and small, that thrived throughout much of Europe, north Africa and the Middle East during the early part of the 20th century, but were changed irrevocably by the Holocaust.

The price is beyond most people’s pockets. It was £173.00, but Postscript are offering it at £75. It might, however, be available from an academic library.

I’ve absolutely no problem with this book whatsoever. The college where I did my undergraduate degree, the College of St. Paul and St. Mary, which became part of the University of Gloucestershire, hosted an exhibitions of photos of the shtetl Jewish communities of eastern Europe. There is, however, a moral problem with Yad Vashem. While it’s entirely correct to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, critics of the museum have complained that it acts to sanitise some of the world’s worst political leaders when they turn up on an official visit to make a deal. These have included real Nazis and anti-Semites, people responsible for horrific crimes against humanity, authoritarians with absolutely no regard for the value of human life. But these people suddenly become worthy friends of Israel and its people by the simple act of making a visit to Yad Vashem as part of their itinerary and laying a wreath or making some other gesture of mourning.

The activity of Yad Vashem in researching and documenting the Jewish communities destroyed by the Holocaust in Europe also has a counterpart among the Palestinians. They are also active doing the same for the Palestinian communities destroyed during the Nakba, the term they use for their violent ethnic cleansing at the foundation of Israel. In contrast to the victims of the Jewish genocide, I very much doubt that any western publisher will bring out a book on these lost communities.

Because if they did, the Israel lobby and someone like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the Board of Deputies of British Jews would almost certainly accuse them of anti-Semitism.

How universities can soften virus blow and inject further stimulus

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/03/2020 - 7:42am in

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Blog, universities

By Ben Spies-Butcher and Gareth Bryant

The coronavirus pandemic highlights how uncertainty and fear can quickly translate into panic and crisis in the economy. For individual businesses faced with potentially falling revenue, it appears to make good sense to be cautious and cut back on spending. But for the economy as a whole, this reinforces the downturn as spending falls everywhere.

The announcements by the federal and NSW governments to deliver stimulus confirm the unique role of public spending in avoiding recession. What us unusual about this crisis is that universities are at the frontline and among the first to consider spending cuts – this from a sector we usually consider to be public. Across the country, universities are considering freezing staff hiring and halting building works, taking much needed money out of the economy.

Universities are now vital to Australia’s economy. Higher education is Australia’s fourth highest earning export sector, behind coal, iron ore and natural gas. It brought in $35 billion in 2018. Much more than primary industries, universities are also a major employer, with 217,500 people employed by them in 2017-18, including some workers most exposed to a downturn. They directly employ tens of thousands of casual staff and indirectly support thousands more in other industries such as construction. This means university spending cuts reduce many people’s incomes and overall economic demand.

In contrast, announcements of temporary school closures have not led to the same cuts in spending. Public school funding continues even as private spending in the economy falls. Public institutions have a unique ability to weather bad economic times. It makes no economic sense to cut school or hospital budgets in a recession and just by keeping this spending going, the public sector plays a crucial role in easing the downturn.

Even though we think of universities as public, their increasing reliance on private income, especially from international students, leaves their cash flow more exposed to changes in demand. By forcing universities to seek out private income, governments have encouraged them to increasingly think and act like private entities. As a result, universities have sought to cut back spending to manage the drop in expected revenue from international students caught up in travel bans.

Surprisingly, private financial markets view universities somewhat differently. Credit ratings provide an assessment of how confident investors should be that an entity can pay its debts. The global ratings agency Standard & Poor’s rates many Australian universities in the AA to AA+ category (the second highest rating behind AAA). This places these universities on par with the governments of countries such as France, New Zealand and Britain as well as several Australian state governments in terms of their credit worthiness.

Strong credit ratings allow universities to borrow money at very low rates over long periods of time because international creditors view them as having a low risk of defaulting. University credit ratings are underpinned by the dominant role public finance continues to play in the sector. This reflects a quirk in the other main source of university funding – the fees charged to domestic students, which are largely deferred through HELP, our system of student loans.

While student fees appear to be private income, for the purposes of university financing they operate differently. Domestic students do not typically pay universities up front, as international students do. Instead, governments directly pay universities on behalf of the majority of students and will continue to do so through the crisis. The guarantee of future public financing helps assure financial markets that lending to universities is a safe bet.

Universities are facing a short-run cash flow challenge, not a structural decline in income. They can therefore play a more “public” role in helping the Australian economy. Rather than making cuts to balance their budgets, universities can deliver their own fiscal stimulus. Like governments, universities can spend money to keep people in jobs and our economy going in tough times, financed by long-term borrowing that can smooth the short-term impact of the crisis.

Individual universities can act to shore up spending. However, for their spending to be most effective as fiscal stimulus, it must be co-ordinated across the sector. This gives governments a unique opportunity to expand their stimulus packages by assisting universities to borrow and spend. The federal government could increase the capacity of universities to borrow now by committing to increased funding in the future. Even a modest future commitment, such as to increase student places or per-student funding, would allow universities to use this commitment as collateral and spend much more now.

Such a move would make good political sense by helping the government meet its macroeconomic and fiscal targets. Because any commitment would be primarily in the future, it would have little impact on this year’s budget and, because the borrowing would be done by universities, it would not increase government debt.

The government could tie such a commitment to promises from the universities to keep spending through measures such as lifting staff freezes, keeping casuals employed and proceeding with building works. This would give governments a new fiscal policy tool to keep people in work and the economy moving.

Ben Spies-Butcher is Associate Professor and Head of the Sociology Department at Macquarie University.

Gareth Bryant is Senior Lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Sydney and Economist with the Sydney Policy Lab.

First published in the Sydney Morning Herald

The post How universities can soften virus blow and inject further stimulus appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

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.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/02/toby-youngs-free-speech-sham.html

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.

History Book on Why Israel’s Military Elite Can’t Make Peace

Postscript are a mail order company specialising in bargain books. I got their latest catalogue through the post today, and looking through it I found a book arguing that the country’s military leaders and the militaristic nature of Israeli society makes it impossible for the country to make peace. This is Fortress Israel – The Inside Story of the Military Elite Who Run the Country – and Why They Can’t Make Peace by Patrick Tyler, published by Farrrar Straus Giroux. The blurb for it in the catalogue runs

Since its foundation in 1948 Israel has been torn between its ambition to be ‘a light unto nations’ and its desire to expand its borders. Drawing on declassified documents, personal archives and interviews, this epic history demonstrates how military service binds Israelis to lifelong loyalty and secrecy, making a democracy a hostage to the armed forces. A compelling study of character, rivalry, conflict and the competing impulses for war and peace in the Middle East.

This has direct relevance to a recent attempt by the Israel lobby to smear yet another left-wing Labour MP as an anti-Semite. If I recall correctly, it was Richard Burgon, who said that ‘Zionism was the enemy of peace’. This was too much for the Israel lobby, despite the fact that Burgon was not speaking about Jews, but about Zionism. As any fule kno, Zionism is political doctrine, not a race, religion or ethnic group. The largest Zionist organisation in America, for example, is Ted Hagee’s Christians United for Israel And anti-Zionist and Israel-critical Jewish bloggers like Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker, David Rosenberg and Martin Odoni, as well as anti-Zionist Jewish denominations and groups such as the Haredi and True Torah Jews, show that Judaism and Jewish identity most definitely is not synonymous with Israel, no matter how many laws Netanyahu passes declaring that Jews across the world are its citizens.

Burgon’s comment wasn’t a statement of anti-Semitic prejudice at all, but a perfectly reasonable opinion. The Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, who now teaches at Exeter University here in the UK, has argued in his books, such as Ten Myths About Israel, that Zionism always implied the removal of the indigenous Arab people. And it also presented very strong evidence that Israel, contrary to its propaganda, was a reluctant participant in its various wars. Rather the Israeli leadership actively sought war, manipulating the Arab nations into striking first through military incursions and the denial of vital water supplies in order to give a false impression of its Israeli peacefulness and non-aggression. Tyler’s book adds yet more support to the view that Israel is indeed the enemy of peace.

It also shows another danger of the Israel lobby’s campaign to silence the country’s critics as anti-Semites. Not only has this led to the appalling smearing of perfectly decent, anti-racist people – one of whom recently died of the shock at her expulsion from the Labour Party, but it is also a danger to proper historical discussion, research and argument. The Israel lobby would like to substitute pro-Israel lies and propaganda for proper, objective history.

They aren’t just an attempt to affect political decisions and opinions, but also an attack on historical fact itself.

Turning Point UK Preparing Anti-Academic Witch Hunt

There’s some areas of the American right still pining for the days of the McCarthy witch hunts. And unfortunately, it looks like they want to export them to these shores as well. Turning Point UK is one of them. If you don’t remember, Turning Point UK is the British spawn of the American Conservative outfit, Turning Point USA. Founded by the repulsive Charlie Kirk, who ‘LIVES AS A CAPITALIST EVERY DAY’, as he shouted at the Young Turks’ Cenk Uighur, this is supposed to be dedicated to inspiring young people with right-wing ideals, turning back the evil tides of liberalism, socialism and so forth. Its British branch got off to a notoriously bad start when Candace Owens, another prominent American rightist, told the assembled faithful at its inauguration that Adolf Hitler wasn’t really a nationalist. She declared that what he did would have been all right if he’d stuck to his own country, but he wanted to make everyone German. This was the opposite of nationalism. This was the opposite of history and morality, as was soon pointed out to her. TPUK have kept a quiet profile since. So much so that it has been suggested that the outfit is no more than a trick to part elderly American Conservatives from their money through encouraging them to donate to it, so little has it actually done. Unfortunately, it still seems to be around and making a nuisance of itself. Zelo Street has posted a couple of articles about the organisation posting attack ads libeling former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and leadership contender Rebecca Long-Bailey as anti-Semites, terrorist supporters and claiming they aid paedophiles.

And now Zelo Street has also reported that one of its scummy number has announced on Twitter that they want to import their parent organisation’s campaign of blacklisting left-wing academics. TPUSA has a ‘Professor Watchlist’ of academics they claim have a ‘left-wing agenda’. One critic, the Skeptical Seventh, has said of this that “They must know that what they are doing will lead to people being harassed, being shut down … It is undermining academic freedom, which is ironic for an organisation that claims to be in favour of free speech”. Yes, but for them it’s a case of free speech for me, but not for thee. However, the Beeb reported that it had been told by Dominique Samuels, one of the TPUK’s influencers, that they wouldn’t be introducing that policy over here.

This has been flat-out contradicted by the odious Darren Grimes. Grimes was upset when Priyamvada Gopal, a lecturer at Cambridge, tweeted a particularly apt quote from Lord Macauley to describe Priti Patel. She said:  “We should acknowledge, as we look at Priti Patel, that there was one very successful cultural eugenics project: ‘We must at present do our best to form…a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect’”. This was too much for Grimes, who didn’t recognise the quote, and ranted  “This person is a lecturer at Cambridge. Is it any wonder our students are churned out of these university factories like hard-left, braindead sheep when this is what is teaching them?! What a truly bloody horrendous thing to think, never mind tweet”. Gopal herself was highly amused by Grimes’ reaction. She said “Before I withdraw again for a bit, I thought I should share my enjoyment of Mr Grimes’ condemnation of Lord Macaulay’s  ‘truly bloody horrendous thing to think’ … The great thing about British far-right is their complete ignorance of their own history &  literature”. Macauley’s comment demanding the anglicisation of Indians is notorious. It frequently appears in textbooks as an illustration of the hostile attitude of the British colonisers to their subject peoples’ indigenous cultures.

The TPUK twitter feed then joined in with the ominous statement “Our uni campuses are overrun by leftist lecturers who teach their overt political bias as objective truth. This is not ok. The fight back begins now. Introducing ‘Education Watch’: Documenting University Lecturers’ Political Bias”.

This is, as Zelo Street has commented, the right using the false assumption that not only do they have the right to their own opinions, but also their facts, to start a witch hunt. And as Grimes was at the launch of Toby Young’s wretched Free Speech Union, it also shows that’s a sham as well.

Paul Bernal, an associate professor of Law at UEA, commented: “Can I just ask, what do the thought-police *want* us lefty academics to teach our students? Obviously facts are out. Analysis is against the law. Nothing foreign. Nothing expert”.

Tim concluded his article on this latest right-wing assault on free speech with the observation that TPUK were obviously trying to whip up hate and harassment because they were so desperate for the publicity. And so he was sure that they would be condemned by all good Conservatives.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/02/turning-point-uk-turning-nasty.html

Let’s be clear what Turning Point are demanding – the harassment and purging from academic of lecturers, whose politics they disapprove of. This is a feature of just about every totalitarian regime and movement. The Italian Fascists did it. The Nazis did it in the ‘coordination’ of the universities, which saw Jews and Marxists purged. The Communists did it. And it got really unpleasant in China under Mao during the Cultural Revolution, when children were called upon to denounce their parents and teachers. The BNP or National Front also tried something like it in Britain in the 1980s. They urged nationalist schoolchildren to write to them informing on ‘Communist’ teachers. They would then send a couple of their thugs round to assault them. TPUK haven’t called for having them attacked, but this is what such a list would lead to.

As for this wave of left-wing lecturers churning out a generation of impressionable kids indoctrinated with cultural Marxism or whatever, this is, in my opinion, somewhat of an hysterical overreaction. Yes, there are outspoken left-wing academics, and always have been. But there are also Conservatives and all shades of political opinion in between. And, with a few obvious exceptions, such as those calling for sectarian or racist violence and hatred, for example, they should all have the right to teach what they believe to be objective fact. Because this is what democracy and freedom of speech means.

Freedom of speech and conscience means putting up with speech, ideas and opinions of which you don’t necessarily approve. It certainly does not mean tolerating only those opinions that you share. That, whether done by the left or the right, leads to intolerance and persecution.

And in the intellectual context, it also means the massive impoverishment of national culture. As a result of the Nazi purges of the universities and the arts, German culture suffered immensely. That of other countries, particularly America, benefited immensely, as talented scientists, mathematicians, writers, film-makers and artists took sanctuary on the other side of the Pond. It’s been said that if the Nazis hadn’t taken power, and pushed their greatest minds abroad, the 20th would have been hailed as the German century rather than the American.

This is what Turning Point would like to do to America, and which their equally idiotic counterparts on this side of the Pond would like to do over here – a stifling, stagnant, impoverished culture in order to enforce their own intellectual agenda.

 

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