Religion and Politics Blog

Card-carrying Liberal Democrat. My views are my own, and do not necessarily reflect party policy.

Ken Livingstone and the Anti-Semitism of the Left

This is the state of British politics in 2016

Anti-Semitism is of course no laughing matter, and the Labour Party have done the right thing and suspended him. But Livingstone and his apologists have doubled down and insist he’s done nothing wrong.

If you make no distinction between a nation’s government, its people, and those worldwide who share the same ethnicity, you are a racist. It really is that simple. Trying to deflect the issue by pointing out all the horribly racist things Boris Johnson has said in the past just doesn’t wash. That’s classic “whatabouterty”; as my mother always said, two wrongs don’t make a right.

When the left have adopted a form of radical identity politics in which everyone is classed as either “Privileged” or “Oppressed” on the basis of their ethnicity, gender and sexuality, it’s hard not to see a connection with the rise of anti-Semitism, something that always used to be associated with the far right. Jews, like Gay Men, have been moved out of the “Oppressed” category because a minority of them have become wealthy and successful, and some very old and very dangerous bigotries have been allowed to come back to life.

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Boris is the British Trump

Boris Johnson’s attack on Barack Obama belongs in the gutter, says Nick Cohen in The Spectator, not mincing his words.

I am therefore writing with the caution of a lawyer and the deference of a palace flunkey when I say that Johnson showed this morning that he is a man without principle or shame. He is a braying charlatan, who lacks the courage even to be an honest bastard, for there is a kind of bastardly integrity in showing the world who you really are, but instead uses the tactics of the coward and the tricks of the fraudster to advance his worthless career.

Boris doesn’t care whether Britain leaves the EU or not. It’s all just a means to an end in his ambition to become Prime Minister. He has no underlying principles whatsoever; everything he says or does is based on cynical calculation around what he thinks his audience wants to hear.

The parallels with Donald Trump run far deeper than the terrible hair. If Boris thought being a massive racist would gain him support, he’d be as racist as Trump. The fact that he isn’t says more about the British people than it says about him.

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How come they trust us to decide on Britain’s future in the EU when they can’t even trust us to name a boat?

Posted on by Tim Hall | 2 Comments


Exactly what is the purpose of egg-manning “news” pieces with titles like “Dudebros are butthurt over female lead in new Star Wars trailer“? It’s not exactly news that you will find icky, slimy creatures if you go looking for them by turning over enough rocks, but what does anyone gain by giving such troglodytes the attention they don’t deserve?

The whole thing smacks of manufactured controversy for cheap clicks, relying on people who ought to know better to share the links in order to feel superior to their chosen outgroup. Sadly it appears to be the default business model for online publishing, even as there are more and more signs of the bubble bursting.

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If everyone adopts the tactic of ostracising The Bad People rather than the far more difficult task of discrediting bad ideas, it’s not surprising that the culture wars become so toxic. It will inevitably devolved into witch-hunts and guilt-by-association. Getting somebody from your outgroup banned from a confererence or fired from their job may seem like a satisfying short-term victory, but does that really contribute towards making the world a better place?

Posted on by Tim Hall | 1 Comment

Perhaps Donald Trump is an AI chatbot that’s gone rogue, and they can’t work out how to turn him off?

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میں لاہور میں ہوں

The title of the this post hopefully reads “I am Lahore” in Urdu. If I’ve trusted Google Translate too much, I apologise in advance and hope an Urdu speaker will correct me.

After Paris, after Istanbul, after Brussels, another senseless massacre. Cold blooded sectarian murder of women and children on the most holy day of the Christian calendar. Another action by the nihilistic apocalyptic cult which has appropriated the symbolism and rhetoric of Islam.

It’s difficult to know how to react; this attack can be seen as part of the same global war as the attacks in Europe and the war in Syria, but its context is also the ongoing ugly sectarianism of Pakistan and the systematic persecution of that nation’s Christian minority.

The Taliban, Islamic State, Al Queda, Boko Haram and others like them are cults. It’s tempting but dangerously wrong to claim that they nothing to do with Islam. It’s hard for westerners with little knowledge of Islamic history to understand where Islam stops and these cults begin; like all cults they twist holy texts to their own ends, and ignore centuries of interpretation by wiser scholars. The best we can do is listen to wiser voices within the Islamic world. And show completely solidarity with those in the Muslim world who take a principled stand against extremism, sometimes at great personal risk.

What we can and must do is deal with our own extremists. both the obvious bigots of the far-right who want to start pogroms against Muslims, and terrorism’s useful idiots of the far-left who engage in apologia or whatabouttery out of misplaced anti-oppression dogma and post-colonial guilt.

And no, I am not going to change any of my social media avatars to a Pakistan flag. The combination of the religious symbolism on the flag and the sectarian nature of the crime makes it seem, at least for me, too disrespectful towards the victims.

Comments are disabled on this post because I don’t want to deal with the sorts of trolls it risks attracting.

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Much of what I said in response to the Paris attacks in November here and here are as relevent now as they were four months ago. There is little more I can add.

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Or you can love….

Because Marillion put my thoughts on the atrocity in Brussels far better than I can in the song “A Few Words For The Dead

Can you make it on your own
Can you take it by the throat
Make your own luck – learn the skills
Get in early
For the kill

It carries on

Pick up the weapon
Marry it. Give it your name
Define yourself by it
Take it down the disco

It carries on

Trigger happy
Pulling power
Take em out

It carries on

See the weirdos
On the hill
Come to get you
If you stand still

Somewhere in history
You were wronged
Raise your children
To bang the drum

It carries on
Tell all the family
Tell all your friends
Teach your brothers
To avenge

It carries on

Or you could LOVE…
You could LOVE

Lie down in the flowers
In the blue of the air
Open your eyes. Why use up your life for anything else?
No need to fight for what everyone has
What do you need?
It’s already there
It’s already there

You could LOVE

So he carried the stars in his pocket
He drank the sunrise till was drunk
He embraced the angels
They swam like little minnows in his blood
Ghosts in his eyes
Out walking beside him
Laughing like children in his mind

They chanted his mantra together
“You could love”

They were happy.

Steve Hogarth, 1998

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There’s one in the spotlight, he don’t look right to me

This mashup is chilling stuff. Donald Trump is the sort of man Roger Waters warned us about 36 years ago.

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