Thursday, 11 July 2019

Anti-Semitic images considered: the 'facehugger' on the Statue of Liberty

An occasional series where I will ponder allegations of anti-Semitism directed at the British Labour Party and its members.

In this case, we are thinking about an allegedly anti-Semitic image shared by a Labour Party member. Its origins appear to be a far right site which revels in anti-Semitism. Rather than reproduce the image itself, I will link to it. For those not wanting to sully their browser, it shows the Statue of Liberty with one of the 'facehugger' aliens from Alien attached to it's face. The alien has a Star of David on its back.

The image was shared by a Labour Party member. It's origins appear to be a far right site which revels in anti-Semitism.

It has been described as anti-Semitic because the Star of David identifies the alien with Jews, and thus Jews with the alien. Anti-Semitic discourse regularly describes Jews as sub-human, alien and parasitical. The idea that Jews are corrupting their 'host' culture (just as the alien implants an embryo in the host) is very common. The reading here is that Jews are the enemies of freedom (hence the host is Lady Liberty).

BUT there are two factors that have to be taken into consideration. First, the Star of David is blue, associating it with the Israeli flag rather than Jews in general. This could change the message slightly - it is probably more about free speech and the perception that Israel is trying to stop criticism of it (ironically by claiming anti-Semitism at every opportunity!).

That's a 'legitimate' message, though I find the image abhorrent for the reasons outlined above. it is to crude and easily read as applying to all Jews rather than a political criticism of Israel.  It is far worse than the mural in that regard.

I think the mural was intended as a critique of capitalism that was too easily interpreted as anti-Semitic due to the crudity of its execution; whereas this image seems too much like it is an anti-Semitic dog whistle - an image that is essentially anti-Semitic but which is trying to give itself a veneer of acceptability which fools people into thinking it is not poisonous. The woman who re-posted it probably naively saw it as a legitimate criticism of Israel, but it is far more than that.   She should have known better.

Also, it is not clear if the woman who posted it knew it was from a far right site. These images slosh around the internet, are passed on from one person to another, or show up in Google searches and the provenance may not be clear.  On this aspect, I am willing to give the woman in question the benefit of the doubt in that regard.  Of course, if it could be proven she visited the site and was aware of the sort of place it was, that would be another matter.

The woman in question was suspended and investigated.  The investigation concluded the image depicted "a monster with the Star of David printed on it on the face of the Statue of Liberty suggesting that Jewish people control America.” and that, though distasteful "these are generally distasteful cartoons about the perceived relationship [between] Israel and the US." I think they were probably a bit generous in their interpretation there.  I think she was very thoughtless and foolish.

She was given a formal warning about her posting; hoepfully, she shows better sense in the future.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Another day, another load of old bollocks from the Guardian

It must be a day ending in Y because the Guardian - remember when it used to be a good paper1 - is running another spurious story about Corbyn's leadership being threatened over anti-Semitism.

The headline the Guardian runs is: "MPs tell Jeremy Corbyn: get a grip or lose a general election" and the main 'Gotcha' is a comment by Angela Rayner, speaking at a Fabian Society event:
The sense of crisis engulfing Labour deepened further last night when shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, a Jeremy Corbyn loyalist, broke cover to express her dismay at Labour’s handling of antisemitism. The shadow cabinet was “totally exasperated by the failure of our movement to be able to deal with this issue”, she said.  
 In an extraordinary outburst at a Fabian Society conference, Rayner said she was “absolutely embarrassed by what’s happened over the last few days and I’ve made my representations very clear. If that means setting up an independent system, then so be it... let’s just get on and do it.” 
Note the contrast.  The headline deliberately puts Corbyn in the frame, implying he is in someway responsible for the 'crisis.' (2)  Whereas Rayner doesn't mention him at all in the quoted passages.  In fact, the specifies "Movement," not Corbyn or the leadership team.

Later on, the story quotes Clive Lewis:

The Labour frontbencher Clive Lewis, who is on the left of the party, called on the leadership to “get a grip” before it was too late. With the Conservative party looking likely to elect a populist rightwinger, Boris Johnson, to replace Theresa May, the dangers and challenges were clear, Lewis said. 
“Now more than ever our democracy needs Her Majesty’s Opposition to do what it says on the tin and oppose and act as a counterbalance to what a significant portion of the electorate will consider as a likely dangerous lurch to the hard right,” said Lewis. 
“If Labour cannot perform this crucial function, then the danger for us as a party is that an increasing portion of the electorate will ask themselves: ‘If Labour won’t or can’t step up, then who will?’ The answer to this question may not be one we like very much. As such it really is time to get a grip and quick,” Lewis added.
Note again the lack of a specific mention of Corbyn or the leadership in general.  Surely, if he had specified Corbyn, the Guardian could have quoted him saying that?  But instead of actually presenting what Lewis and Rayner said failry, the Guardian framed these comments which seem to be aimed at the party as a whole, or perhaps - since the Guardian seems to think it is okay to make up whatever spin you like for a story - they mean Corbyn's critics within the party. 

So, another shoddy attempt by the Guardian to advance its Corbyn bashing narrative instead of just doing honest and straight-forward reporting.
1 - No, me neither.
2 - A crisis that largely exists in newspaper headlines such as the example here.  Even journalists must eat, and that is facilitated by making things sound much more exciting than they actually are. 

Friday, 28 June 2019

Chris Williamson's re-admission

So, some Labour MPs and peers have written Corbyn a letter complaining about the re-admission of loudmouth MP Chris Williamson, who had been suspended over allegations he made anti-Semitic comments.

Never mind the Guardian's typically biased headline that Corbyn is facing "Mounting pressure" over this (as opposed to the same old stuff from the same old sources).

This, from the letter to Corbyn, is truly bizarre:
It is clear to us that the Labour party’s disciplinary process remains mired by the appearance of political interference. This must stop. We need a truly independent process.
So, a "truly independent process" is one where an independent decision is made by the people who have scrutinised the case and are empowered to make that decision; and then it is overruled because some people don't like it?

 Williamson is a tool, but Watson et al are dearranged.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Islamaphobia in the Conservative Party

And now this:

The Tories are having a really stink couple of days. Obviously, the prospect of a conservative win must be making a lot of bigots feel legitimised and safe to express their hate.

n.b. He hasn't actually been expelled from the Conservative Party (yet) but has been forced to stand down from his role as chairman of the Conservative Muslim Group, for the sin of criticising the Dear-Leader-in-Waiting.

It seems you can't question Johnson's moral character ... even though the police have just been round to see if his girlfriend was alright.

A bad couple of days for the Conservative Party

In - what, 48 hours? - a Tory MP assaults a female demonstrator, a Tory MP verbally abuses a female colleague via twitter, a Tory MP is recalled for corruption, and a Tory MP (and likely future PM) has the police turn up at their door at 2am because his girlfriend was screaming "Get off me!"

With regards the last instance, I'm trying to be fair and imagine circumstances where a woman screaming "Get off me!" at 2am in the morning is okay.

Nope, can't think of any.

The Conservative Party - home of corruption and toxic masculinity.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Tony (not Tommy) Robinson quits Labour

That's a shame, I've always liked him, but if he quits, he quits. His choice. I am puzzled by his comment about 'duplicity' on Brexit. The policy has always been pretty clear and if he though Labour were supporting Remain after the referendum result, then he is a fool.

It is very disappointing to see him mentioning anti-Semitism as a reason, though I wonder if this might help us understand the reasoning behind the right wing 'anti-Semitism' strategy. It isn't going to have much of an impact on the general voters because they won't pay much attention to it or will generally write it off (correctly) as a hatchet job. But celebrities will be nervous about supporting a party that is continually being described as anti-Semitic, no matter how unfounded the claims. After all, they depend on their reputation and profile for their money, and are likely to be very careful in avoiding negative associations.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Heidi Allen to lead 'Change UK'

So, Heidi Allen is to be leader of the re-branded The Independent Group (Now Change UK - really mining that vacuous, non-aligned, post-ideological, aspirational, sub-Obama seam of meaninglessness.)

At least she is guaranteed a footnote in the history books - Chukka Umuna must be sick with envy at that.

Let's remind ourselves of Allen's voting record:

Anti diversity:
  •  Consistently voted against laws to promote equality and human rights.

Wants people to suffer:
  • Has never voted on allowing terminally ill people to be given assistance to end their life

  • Consistently voted for use of UK military forces in combat operations overseas
  • Voted against investigations into the Iraq war

Doesn't care about the poor and needy:
  • Generally voted against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability
  • Generally voted for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits
  • Consistently voted for phasing out secure tenancies for life
  • Generally voted against greater public control of bus services

Serves the rich:
  • Consistently voted for raising the threshold at which people start to pay income tax
  • Consistently voted against higher taxes on banks
  • Consistently voted for more restrictive regulation of trade union activity
  • Consistently voted for reducing capital gains tax
  • Consistently voted for reducing the rate of corporation tax

Anti-democracy, devolution and local control:
  • Voted for fewer MPs in the House of Commons
  • Consistently voted for reducing central government funding of local government
  • Voted against a more proportional system for electing MPs
  • Voted against a wholly elected House of Lords
  • Voted against removing hereditary peers from the House of Lords
  • Generally voted against transferring more powers to the Welsh Assembly
  • Generally voted against transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament
  • Almost always voted against more powers for local councils

Contempt for young people:
  • Almost always voted against a lower voting age

Little concern for refugees and immigrants:
  • Consistently voted for a stricter asylum system
  • Almost always voted for stronger enforcement of immigration rules

Like snooping:
  • Consistently voted for requiring the mass retention of information about communications
  • Consistently voted for mass surveillance of people’s communications and activities

Doesn't care about the environment;
  • Consistently voted against measures to prevent climate change
  • Voted against financial incentives for low carbon emission electricity generation methods
  • Consistently voted against a publicly owned railway system

Oddly, used to hate the EU, but now purports to like it:
  • Generally voted against a right to remain for EU nationals already in living in the UK
  • Generally voted against UK membership of the EU

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Don't be fooled by her 'bubbly' exterior and her "I'm just like everyone, I eat chips at Nandos" routine.

Anti-Semitic images considered: the 'facehugger' on the Statue of Liberty

An occasional series where I will ponder allegations of anti-Semitism directed at the British Labour Party and its members. In this case, ...