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Nick Cohen is wrong about the liberal-left


1:27 pm - March 22nd 2009

by Newswire    


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This was in the Observer letters page today:

Cohen needs to find a new column to write. Yet again last Sunday, he declaimed that the liberal-left has failed to engage or support liberal Muslims, asserting that leading voices and institutions refuse to challenge Islamist extremism as well as opposing the BNP. But this is nonsense. It can be easily disproved by what we have all said and done.

Many of us have been working consistently together to secure the liberal and democratic values we want our shared society to promote and uphold, against erosion from every direction and extremism from every source. Innovative projects to challenge extremism and promote a shared British citizenship led by a diverse range of democratic Muslim voices such as the Radical Middle Way, Muslims for Secular Democracy, City Circle, Progressive British Muslims and New Generation Network have had strong engagement from groups such as the Fabian Society, ippr, Demos and Liberal Conspiracy, openDemocracy and Democratic Audit.

But too often, too many in the media prefer to give platforms to the most extreme, polarising and least representative voices and crowd out the mainstream conversation we believe most of our fellow citizens want to have. We make a comradely call on Nick Cohen to stop shouting, to rejoin the conversation, engage with the work going on across the liberal-left and to become part of the solution.

Sunder Katwala Fabian Society; Navid Akhtar; Fareena Alam, Fuad Nahdi Radical Middle Way; Yasmin Alibhai-Brown; Anthony Barnett Convention for Modern Liberty; Farmida Bi Progressive British Muslims; Yahya Birt, Usama Hasan, Asim Siddiqui City Circle; Rachel Briggs; Tony Curzon-Price openDemocracy; Sunny Hundal Liberal Conspiracy; Dilwar Hussain Policy Research Centre; James MacIntyre New Statesman; Dr Nasar Meer, Prof Tariq Modood Bristol University; Peter Oborne; Ed Owen; Chuka Umunna Labour ppc for Streatham; Stuart Weir Democratic Audit

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Reader comments


Yeah, the title of this post? Has too many words in it. You could delete everything from “about” onwards and it’d be perfectly accurate.

I’m still trying to wade through the execrable book I’ve been sent of his to review.

2. Alex Higgins

Finally, Nick is being called out on his bogus and vicious attacks. More please.

Excellent letter.

4. the a&e charge nurse

NC may be wrong about the “liberal left” but he is spot on about Stafford.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/mar/22/nhs-whistleblowers-nick-cohen

Although Nick has totally lost the plot, along with Aaro (check out: http://aaronovitch.blogspot.com/ ) I still find it very very depressing that the man who gave us the brilliant Cruel Bitannia collection is the man who went on to inflict What’s Left? on the world.

It makes me more sad that in Nick’s head he is the last True Believer fighting The Good Fight, without seeing how confused he has become.

6. Green Socialist

spot on!

Cohen and the Euston Manifesto Crowd Grrrr!

6. Green Socialist. What is wrong with the Euston Manifesto ?

Charlie, what was right with it? At the time, it was roundly rejected by a large number of people on “the left”, including many of the founders of this site, I wrote two posts on it, rather than trigger the spam filters with many links, here’s a link to them all:

http://voting.taktix.org/?s=euston

Essentially, it’s a mixture of apple pie platitudes and horrible simplifications, it was too verbose to be a campaign but too light on specifics to be a call to arms. It essentially was another attempt by the likes of Cohen to get everyone to agree with them without thinking about it too much.

“What is wrong with the Euston Manifesto ?”

It was just pathetic; formed as a reaction against “those on the left” who apparently promote anti-Americanism, support the “Jihadist and Baathist thugs of the Iraqi so-called resistance” and, most terrifyingly of all, are “unable to understand the considerations that led others on the Left to support [the war]“. Bemusingly, it then went on to attack those who “devot[e] most of [their] energy to criticism of political opponents at home“. Signatories, condemn thyselves!

Moreover, it was just wrong. It argued that “since the day on which [the invasion] occurred, the proper concern of genuine liberals and members of the Left should have been the battle to put in place in Iraq a democratic political order“, without considering that those who allegedly show “simplistic “anti-imperialism” and/or hostility to the current US administration” and, thusly, support a withdrawl, might a) be right and b) have the nation’s best interests at heart. The “new internationalism” – the idea that there’s “a duty upon the international community of intervention and rescue” – is just blithely asserted, without pondering the, certainly now, fairly evident truth that military intervention, well, just usually makes things worse.

Most of all, though, it was a limp apologia for the actions of the “War on Terror”. Not that there was particularly overt in support, mind, but there was a lot of careful omission. Torture – if only at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo – was briefly touched upon, but not actually named, merely referenced as “a departure from universal principles“. While “Anti-Americanism“, “simplistic…hostility to the current US administration” and those who “treat as the worst violations of human rights those perpetrated by the democracies” were notched up on the litany of denunciation, there was no mention of the deceit behind the war, the multifarious indiscriminate bombings, the intricate web of torture (taking in not just Guantanamo, but Bagram, Uzbekistan and others), Fallujah, Haditha…I could, sadly, go on…

Unfortunately, I was an arse and signed it…which is quite shaming…

Shaming indeed. It was a load of bollox from day one. But Ben you’ve done me a favour, I can’t hold on to my opinion that only a complete cock would have signed it. Because you are clearly not a cock…

Cohen’s
replied
!

He deals with the suggestion that he “needs to find a new column to write” by writing that you should, er, read a book of his old columns…

Cross commented from PP.

But Ben you’ve done me a favour, I can’t hold on to my opinion that only a complete cock would have signed it. Because you are clearly not a cock…

Aw, that’s the nicest thing anyone’s said to me all day. Certainly have my phallus-like phases, though.

I also said because your vampire finger/teeth thing scares the crap out of me.

13. Shatterface

I wonder if they are going to reconsider the bit about not condemning the then-current US Administration now that the new Administration is dismantling so much of what made it so repellant?

“I also said because your vampire finger/teeth thing scares the crap out of me.”

(For those who didn’t understand that, here’s a picture of me canvassing.)

I wonder if they are going to reconsider the bit about not condemning the then-current US Administration now that the new Administration is dismantling so much of what made it so repellant?

Doesn’t look like it.

15. Shatterface

Clinging to the spirit of George Bush now that America has embraced Obama strikes me as kinda, um, un-American.

16. Shatterface

And get your damn hands off Caroline Munro, she’s mine.

I forgive you too Ben, but only because of that Afghan coat you’ve got.

Nick Cohen has added this morning a PS


“The great and the good – if that’s the right description – were complaining about my Observer column of 15 March on the willingness of Labour, the Royal Family and the judiciary to go along with Jamaat-e-Islami, a remarkably ugly religious group. Last Sunday I wrote about the willingness of doctors to go along with remarkably ugly standards in NHS hospitals. The comment editor has just warned me that a round robin from Lord Winston, David Tennant, Miriam Stoppard and Harold Shipman is on the way”.

I have to admit, that made me laugh.

But, since Nick is still digging, here’s my latest post. Olive branch still on offer!
http://www.nextleft.org/2009/03/difficult-art-of-polemical-persuasion.html

19. douglas clark

Has anyone else taken the time out to look at the Euston Manfiesto site?

http://eustonmanifesto.org/

I appreciate they were the victim of an attack back in mid February, but, it is very quiet, is it not?.

Even the list of signatories wasn’t available for viewing, so if BenSix wasn’t such an honest chap, no-one would have ever known!

The Observer’s readers editor has written a very fair column about this in today’s newspaper. He agrees with me that Cohen should have told readers about Maher’s background, and writes that the charge put by Cohen and Maher against the Fabians was without credibility or foundation. He also refers back to the Hassan Butt case.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/apr/05/readers-editor-shiraz-maher

I have blogged on this at Next Left
http://www.nextleft.org/2009/04/observer-on-nick-cohen-and-fabians.html


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    New post: Nick Cohen is wrong about the liberal-left http://tinyurl.com/cpgd9r

  2. Tom Griffin

    RT: @libcon New post: Nick Cohen is wrong about the liberal-left http://tinyurl.com/cpgd9r

  3. Liberal Conspiracy

    New post: Nick Cohen is wrong about the liberal-left http://tinyurl.com/cpgd9r





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