An attempt to smear Mehdi Hasan from New Statesman


by Sunny Hundal    
11:18 am - July 27th 2009

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Mehdi Hasan is a recently appointed senior editor covering politics at the New Statesman magazine. I mentioned a week go on Pickled Politics that a minor kerfuffle blew up last week when an article he wrote about biased coverage of terrorists in the media was questioned by Harry’s Place blog.

He gave a stinging response. Obviously not happy with the way he had come back at them – it looks like now HP is running a smear campaign against him. Over the weekend they ran a post titled: ‘Mehdi Hasan Exposed. Part I – Atheists and disbelievers are “cattle” and “of no intelligence‘.

It’s worth pointing out that I don’t know Mehdi Hasan and apparently I met him years ago but don’t recall the incident. But it’s worth while deconstructing the post itself for the absurd question it raises.

First: It looks obvious his comments are being taken out of context. Hasan is specifically relating what the Koran says. There’s a matter of what he believes in himself, and another matter of how he interprets the religious allegories. Anyone who spends even five minutes reading religious texts knows that they are full of analogies and allegorical references. This point is clearly missed by the anonymous ‘Channel 4 insider’.

People of all religions keep re-interpreting and arguing over religious texts as time goes on. To assume there is only one meaning to a paragraph taken from a religious text – and then to assume it should be taken literally is probably pretty idiotic too.

The full speech is actually more critical of Muslims than than the west – and uses the word ‘cattle’ of unthinking Muslims too. Here are some more key quotes:

We just follow the crowd, we are the cattle that Allah condemns in the Quran, and we can’t be. We can’t be. We have to acquire knowledge every day, night and day. And Rasoollah [the Holy Prophet] says…you have to go as far afield as China.

I watched this programme [“Science and Islam”, BBC4] and I really enjoyed it: a well-made programme, presenter very good…and yet I watched it with a sense of despair and a sense of sadness. Because this programme was pure history, every contribution was from the past, and the elephant in the room is the current Islamic contribution to knowledge and science and learning. Where was that in the series of programmes? It wasn’t there because fundamentally there isn’t one. That is the tragedy of our community today.

The Middle East, despite all its oil wealth…is an intellectually stagnant area of the world, where one in three Arabs, 65 million human beings, Muslims, are functionally illiterate, of which two thirds are women. 10 million children in the Middle East have never stepped foot inside a classroom, inside a school. That is the modern Muslim legacy. The Middle East…is now intellectually closed off to the outside world. … Closed off to the world – and let s not hear any of this nonsense about foreign literature, or foreign books, or foreign languages, being alien to Islam. It is the only way to learn, to open your minds to non-Muslims, to open your minds to other cultures, to learn foreign languages.

It is no surprise then that when you look at the Muslim world you see that we 1.2 billion Muslims have just 10 Nobel prizes to our name….and our Jewish brethren who we spend so much time fighting and arguing with, 12 million Jews in the world, they have 150 Nobel prizes to their name….We are not under-armed, we are under-educated. We have lost our ability to think, to acquire knowledge, to advance intellectually, and then we wonder why our community is in such decay, why globally wherever you find Muslims we have such problems. It’s not a secret, it’s not a conspiracy, its clear to anyone who looks at the numbers.

Just think about our priorities as a community, as a Muslim world, think about our priorities,: because when you look at our priorities….you look for example in the field of research and development…the West as an average spend around 2% of their GPD, their national income, on research and development…no Muslim country spends more than 0.5% of its national wealth on research and development…instead we spend the money on what? On killing, bombs, bloodshed, destruction, warfare, arms. Take Pakistan, for example, the “Islamic” Republic of Pakistan, with shamefully high levels of child illiteracy, and one of the world’s worst child labour problems, and yet it spends 20% of its GDP on its military and 2% of its GDP on education.

Do those words sound like that of an Islamist? That is not the kind of person Hizb ut-Tahrir would have in their camp really.

Second: it’s about the kind of debate that HP has – which is basically ‘debate by condemnation and association’. Using a 45 second clip from a 45 minute speech to imply that the guy is an Islamist and all sorts (just read the comments) is precisely the kind of politics and smearing that Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch has done for years. The left is supposed to be about nuance – not the simple right-wing nuttery that paints the entire world as good guys V bad guys.

But this sort of tactic is designed to promote the racist notion that all Muslims, even the mainstream ones working at national titles, are closet Islamists. The word ‘taqqiya’, used to imply that a person is hiding their true beliefs, constantly pops up in the comments of that expose.

It’s the ‘Islamists under your bed’ narrative that unfortunately Harry’s Place has descended into over the last few years. That needs to be challenged otherwise it perpetuates that sort of politics.

Third: There is a legitimate debate to be had about the choice of words that Mehdi Hasan uses. The word ‘kuffar’ is seen by many non-Muslims as derogatory like ‘golliwog’ (though you see an amazing number of right-wingers still defending those words) – and we should have a debate about whether it’s acceptable language even in wholly Muslim company.

But editors on HP and their friend Martin Bright are essentially saying that the New Statesman should not emply such a person, which is a deeply undemocratic and censorious position to take.

It’s also a character assassination to try and ruin someone’s career. This is especially odd since only a couple of months ago when a group of us challenged Nick Cohen’s attempts to malign the liberal-left, Martin Bright said we were trying to get him fired and said that was wrong. These are unequal standards being applied here.

Fourth: – I’ll take the general hatred of religious people in another article because that is a topic for another day. The killer argument here seems to be: well this is what the Qu’ran claims to say about non-religious people. And since this guy believes in religion he must believe in that and therefore he’s a nutjob! The HP hatchet-job feeds into the tendency among many atheists to automatically see religious people, and especially Muslims, in the worst possible light as if they’re all raging homophobes and misogynists if they’re slightly religious. But if you read the full speech – you see that his ire is reserved for Muslims, not non-Muslims.

Fifth: Possibly the worst thing about this ‘Islamists under your bed’ narrative is that it not only polarises people, but also allows the real nutjobs to get away with stuff while the likes of Harry’s Place are running their witch-hunts.

Last week I pointed out how the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir was trying to muscle in on the consultation around sex-education. This is the sort of work that Islamists are trying to do today – focusing on the cultural issues and promoting segregation. This kind of ‘gotcha’ politics aimed at mainstream figures doesn’t help – it actually plays into the hands of people like Hizb ut-Tahrir who say that the establishment will always find ways to malign and get rid of Muslims who get too uppity.

It feeds into the siege mentality that Islamists try and perpetuate and ironically what Mehdi Hasan is arguing against in that speech.

If the New Statesman editor gives in to this hatchet job then its feeds into a debasement of our political culture, where witch-hunts like the kind constantly seen on neo-con hubs like FrontpageMagazine.com become the way our politics is conducted.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Mehdi smeared himself – people have a right to ask for an explanation – the fact that he is a Muslim should not absolve him from having to answer for bigotry which is so evidently on display.

2. Mike Killingworth

Let’s do the easy bit first.

Harry’s Place is left-wing in the same way that a “red Tory” is a communist. It is not a place where reasoned argument holds sway. You might as well reason with Sarah Palin.

Now the harder bit. What counts as being “respectful” to Islam? I have no idea. I suspect Mehdi Hasan would not wish me describe myself as a “kuffar” – or “kaffir” – as T E Lawrence pointed out a long time ago, you can’t transliterate Arabic into English – but this doesn’t help me know how the next Muslim I meet would regard such a self-ascription – as insulting to them, to me or to neither of us.

I don’t think we have a problem with Islam as such – we have a problem with Israel/Palenstine on the one hand and with Wahhabism on the other. As far as the former is concerned, I am happy to tell any Muslim I meet that my Jewish friends think Israel is a failed state and why should I disagree with them?

No, I think the real problem is Wahhabism (and FWIW most of my Muslim neighbours are Wahhabis, to judge from the way the women dress). It is Wahhabism which provides the intellectual fig-leaf for sadistic practices – principally but not only against women – which would otherwise be denounced as the criminal activity of ignorant hillbillies. It is Wahhabism which provides the intellectual figleaf to justify terrorism against London commuters or Sri Lankan cricketers.

If Mehdi Hasan is in fact speaking out against Wahhabism as a blind alley, a poisonous and murderous dead end in the unfolding story of his faith then I applaud him. He will be doing much more than any other Muslim in the West (other than those like that Dutch woman who have apostasised) has done. And if he is doing it I have no dount that a Wahhabi cleric will issue a fatwa against him and someone will kill him.

This is the real problem. So far as I can see, the Muslim community in the West is in awe of Wahhabism – it doesn’t wish to practice it, but it certainly doesn’t want to be seen siding with imperialistic Zionist kaffirs against it. There is a thing called the ummah after all. Well, eventually the “mainstream” is going to have to choose between the Wahhabis and the rest of us. Religious groups do get expelled from the ummah after all – the Baha’i were.

Mehdi smeared himself – people have a right to ask for an explanation

You may have a right to an explanation. But using that to smear him as a nutjob or character assassination is an entirely different matter.

If they wanted an explanation – perhaps they could have emailed him and asked him? They didn’t at all.

Harry’s Place is a vile place.

I’m working on the assumption that HP are deliberately inviting libel actions now, for reasons I don’t understand. I’d see their point if they were taking on some hated foe of free speech on a basic point of well-established fact, but they aren’t.

That post and thread are jam-packed with highly defamatory and speculative assertions based upon… a short Youtube clip. If it ever appears in court a judge is not going to look at it and think Hmm, why yes, this is entirely defensible and proportionate piece of free intellectual inquiry that is in no way motivated by pissy fits of pique. He’s going to throw the fucking book at David T. and anyone else tangentially involved, and I for one don’t understand why DT is willing to stake his own future financial security on the line for the shower of wingnut fruitcakes that make up 90% of his commentariat.

HP are lucky in that most of the people they pull this One-quote-and-you’re-a-genocidal-Nazi crap on aren’t especially litigious, but hell – it’s one thing getting into a legal rammy with some Hamas figurehead over provable facts, and quite another to hang your arse out of the window with a sign on it reading Passing libel lawyers – insert boot here.

Hell, it’s their website, their money and their call. If I was them though, I’d try to restrict my defences of free speech to things that are, you know, actually defensible.

6. Edwin Moore

I never look at the NS or Harry’s Place – embracing boredom is not for me. Also, I am generally now reluctant to make any comments about religion in general and Islam in particular – am Cifed out and have nattered myself to oblivion on the matter.

I’ll leave it to others to sift Sunny’s case for this guy – about whom I know zilch – but can say that in general, the sort of complaints Mr Hasan is quoted as making about modern Muslim states surely aren’t that uncommon among fundies – these are sensible points that are made as well by liberals, conservatives and socialists, but I get the feeling – again just reading Sunny’s presentation of the guy’s beliefs – that what the guy means is that Muslim countries need to be more Islamic to cure their ills – and that’s the real issue here, is it not?

And as for this:

‘The word ‘taqqiya’, used to imply that a person is hiding their true beliefs, constantly pops up’

Well it pops up because it is constantly there. There was an interview with the egregious Yusuf Islam in yesterday’s Sunday Times which displays quite well the (ahem, jesuitical) practice of not saying what you believe in order to deceive.

Compare Yusuf islam with another Muslim convert, Richard Thompson. You don’t need to analyse what Thompson believes – he is straight down the middle, a good bloke. Yusuf Islam is a devious creature, and I suspect Mehdi Hasan belongs to the Yusuf Islam camp, not the Richard Thompson one.

The merits of the debate are clearly insignificant here. What matters is that Mr Hasan is a Muslim who stepped out of line — he’s been promoted to a somewhat decent position in a reputable publication — and so the smear campaign begins.

Imagine: ‘Mr X, the new Jewish senior political editor of the NS, doesn’t really believe in the liberal platform of that magazine: he is well known as a goy-hater; he hates the goyim.’

The debate would then go like this: ‘No, no, Mr X is a liberal Jew, he’s one of us, really.’ Versus: ‘Mr X has said some horrible things about goyim. ‘Goyim’ is offensive in the first place. I wouldn’t mind if he really was a liberal Jew, but he clearly isn’t. Judging by the way the Jews around me dress, they are all ultra-Orthodox anyway.’

Mr X can’t win this debate. And so the eternal wisdom of the smear campaign is revealed. (No religious connotations intended in that last sentence).

I think they’re inviting libel action so they can paint themselves as poor defenseless bloggers railing against a global Islamist conspiracy… again.

They should have asked him to comment first. Yes.
And there is now a second post on the topic (not Part 2 of the “expose”) somewhat disagreeing with the first.

Hasan’s whole speech seems to be saying something like:
Hey guys, we have allah while the kuffar are ignorant cattle; so how come they’re so far ahead?
(The word kuffar is uttered in, shall we say, a slightly contemptuous manner. He’s not just quoting.)

It’s hardly Qaradawi territory.
But it doesn’t reflect well on the New Statesman either.
Still I suspect I would prefer Hasan to Pilger…

I think they’re inviting libel action so they can paint themselves as poor defenseless bloggers railing against a global Islamist conspiracy… again.

But you’re inviting the NS to take action, aren’t you?

If the New Statesman editor gives in to this hatchet job…

Or do you mean something else?

Given the recording, I think a defence of “fair comment” would succeed.
(As you know the comment doesn’t have to be fair in the usual sense of the word for it to succeed.)

But editors on HP and their friend Martin Bright are essentially saying that the New Statesman should not emply such a person, which is a deeply undemocratic and censorious position to take.

All Bright has done is quote a section of what Hasan has said. He makes almost no additional comment.

I used to know Mehdi a little. I am pretty sure he is not an Islamist.
I am equally sure that he is basically an idiot.

He should do well at NS.

I think they’re inviting libel action so they can paint themselves as poor defenseless bloggers railing against a global Islamist conspiracy…

I can’t imagine what good they think that would do them – remember, their readers and supporters are idiots, not legal whizzes or wealthy patrons. If they did get sued, they’d certainly wind up forking over a hefty percentage of their future earnings to someone who has done nothing to deserve them.

I don’t think the subject of this particular hatchet job will sue, since most of the people HP have called anti-semites, apologists for genocide, quasi-Islamists etc. don’t, but he’d be perfectly entitled to. Remember, every allegation in that post and thread could be true, but if HP’s lawyers can’t back them up with evidence in court then it’ll be beans on toast for the next fifteen years.

I’m no lawyer, but if I was handed a brief to defend them in such a case, my advice would not be Let’s argue fair comment – it would be issue an immediate, grovelling apology followed by pledge to make a substantial cash donation to the charity of the plaintiff’s choosing.

The defence of fair comment would clearly succeed since the facts – the recording – are undisputed, and the opinions expressed are capable of being honestly held – however unattractive they might be. No further evidence would be required.

If they did get sued, they’d certainly wind up forking over a hefty percentage of their future earnings to someone who has done nothing to deserve them.

Where do you get this idea from? I’ve never seen a libel case in this country where damages have been awarded on this basis – or indeed any damages award on the basis of future earnings. You might be getting it confused with divorce settlements.

If the comment is like the usual Harry’s Place stuff, half of it would just be vulgar abuse anyway…

David T himself is a lawyer and when younger a law lecturer at London Uni so I suspect he has some idea as to where the boundaries are.

I doubt it and I’m hoping that NS take legal action so that responsibility has to be taken for the comments made, which are pretty vile, baseless stuff.

I don’t want to be boring but the tests are
(1) are the facts truly stated, ie did Hasan actually say what was claimed?
Obviously yes – there is a recording.
(2) are the opinions expressed about him, given the facts, capable of being honestly held, however unattractive they might be?
I think it would be pretty difficult to argue otherwise.

You are boring as both of your questions can be answered…

1) No, they are not truly stated
2) No, plus they have the added bonus of being unattractive

20. Shatterface

‘Because this programme was pure history, every contribution was from the past, and the elephant in the room is the current Islamic contribution to knowledge and science and learning.’

‘Islam’ has never made a contribution to science, any more than Christianity or Judeism.

‘Muslims’ have though, as have Christians and Jews, not to mention Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, etc.

(1) there is a recording of what he said – obviously the full speech would have to taken into accout, but how would the facts be in dispute?
(2) obviously that would be a matter in the end for the jury – I wouldn’t take the risk myself

The whole ‘honestly held opinion’ test is not particularly challenging. Where most fair comment defences fail is that the ‘facts’ on which they are based are found themselves not to be true.

Indeed so – and the “facts” here are the recording, so I think the defence would have a pretty easy time of it.

Agreed – depending on what horrors may lurk in the comments…

25. Shatterface

‘Agreed – depending on what horrors may lurk in the comments…’

Is Sunny responsible for the insane misogynistic, homophobic & anti-Semitic dribblings of munir’s on Pickled Politics?

25 – yup. Well, provided that there’s any moderation of comments involved he is. Libel law’s pretty all encompassing that way.

27. MoreMediaNonsense

POI – in the last case re blog comments and libel there was a significant ruling :

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/technology/shanerichmond/5144547/Online_comments_are_more_like_slander_than_libel_says_judge/

“Defamatory comments on internet “bulletin boards” are more likely to be slanderous than libelous, a High Court judge ruled last month. The judgment came just as I was going on holiday, which is my excuse for missing it until now, but it raises interesting questions for comments on newspaper sites.

First, though, the judgment itself. In a libel case concerning comments posted on an investor’s bulletin board, Mr Justice Eady said that such comments are “contributions to a casual conversation (the analogy sometimes being drawn with people chatting in a bar) which people simply note before moving on; they are often uninhibited, casual and ill thought out.”

This, Mr Justice Eady said, makes them “much more akin to slanders (this cause of action being nowadays relatively rare) than to the usual, more permanent kind of communications found in libel actions.”

However, he emphasised that he was not saying “that blogging cannot ever form the basis of a legitimate libel claim”.

I suspect they may be some confusion of terminology here, with “blogging” being used to mean “commenting online” but I’m not sure.

This is a significant development and, in my view, a very sensible one. As legal trainer Richard Sharpe points out, slander is harder to prove than libel.”

has this become a love-in?

Shatterface:

I think the intention is the furthering of certain elements of science under Islamic rule when other religions were having a bit of a cull. As for Pickled Politics, its a hellish nightmare of a place infested with far too many JuliaMs and other right-wing loons.

cjcjcjcjcjcjcjcjcjcjcj:

(1) context is usally quite an important thing to take account of isn’t it?
(2) “I wouldn’t take the risk myself” we aren’t taking about you

Tim J:

Plenty of horrors lurk in the comments and although I’m sure the NS are glad of your and cjcjcjcjcjc legal opinion, perhaps best to leave that to a professional?

So when he refers to me as a “zioturd” could I sue?!

30. organic cheeseboard

i’m not sure what’s more embarrassing – HP’s idea that they could get away with such an obvious smear, based on so clear an out of context clip that a GCSE media studies student would be embarrassed by it; or the fact that somone who’s meant to be a serious journalist (as opposed to amateur wingnut blogger), like Martin Bright, has fully bought into it.

More and more it’s clear that Decent politics are based on a series of personal grudges. Bright hates the NS because he was fired having cost them lots of money in a libel case (not, as he claims off the record, cos he made a programme attacking Ken Livingstone). cohen also hates them cos he was let go having had his wages lowered. and they are mates of Toube, who also dislikes this new NS editor because he dared to quibble with the amateur ‘media analysis’ of some idiot called Brett on Harry’s Place. cue the tedious witch-hunt that is the only thing HP Sauce is any good at.

it’s just playground nonsense, dressed up as ‘the great intellectual struggle of our time’. HP Sauce and the people who run it claim to be friends of ‘progressive muslims’ but are unfortunately cantankerous, patronising, and often offensive to any of those progressive muslims who dare not to toe the barking mad party line of HP Sauce.

31. organic cheeseboard

provided that there’s any moderation of comments involved

Hp Sauce claim that they don’t moderate – but they actually do…

cjcjcjcjcjcjc:

Who cares if you can sue, I’m more interested in organic cheeseboard’s excellent comment!

33. organic cheeseboard

fwiw i don’t think he’d have much ground to stand on to sue them, but neither do i tihnk he’d be bothered. their petty, vindictive, and outright unintellectual nature is well and truly exposed in this debacle and they should be thoroughly embarrassed.

but as i’ve said, HP Sauce in tedious, unfactually-based withchunt is hardly news. What i find weird is how many ostensibly ‘serious’ journalists take the site seriously – Martin Bright, nick Cohen, aronovitch, and Francis Wheen all seem to have their wingnut-detection turned off when tey read it.

Look at the recent ‘Eurabia’ thread for evidence of the kinds of people the site attracts – despite the ‘best efforts’ of the site owners…

Plenty of horrors lurk in the comments and although I’m sure the NS are glad of your and cjcjcjcjcjc legal opinion, perhaps best to leave that to a professional?

You mean DavidT?

Flying Rodent,

Let’s deal with the post first then we can come onto the comments…

Which parts of the post, specifically, you do think are libellous?

35. douglas clark

Daniel Hoffmann – Gill @ 28,

Are you sure you meant Pickled Politics when you said this:

As for Pickled Politics, its a hellish nightmare of a place infested with far too many JuliaMs and other right-wing loons.

Sunny might be mortally wounded!

And so might I.

Hp Sauce claim that they don’t moderate – but they actually do…

I tihnk this is libellous. We claim we moderate with a light hand, so you are wrong.

Overt racism is out, but behaving like a wingnut of whichever stripe is, regretfully, permitted.

Brownie:

“You mean DavidT?”

No. I don’t.

Douglas Clark:

Yes I did, sorry, I like it here a lot more than Pickled Politics and I know here and there are connected but they do feel a million miles apart, in the sense that Pickled has far more trolls than here and the trolls that are here are a lot more well spoken and able it seems.

Apologies for any offence caused, I just don’t like the comment ambiance there.

Brownie:

As you tihnk that the charge of moderating is libellous, then clearly DavidT is your legal advice.

And glad to see that subtle and obtuse racism is still in at your horrendous gaff.

39. organic cheeseboard

Overt racism is out

not sure about that at all. there are racist tirades (eg ‘Arabs are in general liars because Arabic is inherently a deceitful language’) let onto the site not as comments but as yer actual articles…

best to leave that to a professional?

You mean DavidT?

he doesn’t know much about libel at all, he’s a corporate lawyer. he once noted that nick cohen should sue david edgar for being ‘misrepresented’, for instance…

40. MoreMediaNonsense

Hasan said this in a recent NS article :

“Nothing justifies anti-Semitism – or any form of racism, racial discrimination or, I might add, Islamophobia. But I do find it both tragic and ironic that the state of Israel – created ostensibly to protect Jews from across the world from hatred, prejudice and violence – through its actions today, and through its self-proclaimed role as the leader and home of world Jewry, provokes such awful anti-Semitic attacks against diaspora Jews who have nothing to do with the actions of the IDF or the policies of Netanyahu, Olmert and Sharon.”

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/dissident-voice/2009/07/anti-semitism-israel-rise

Israel provokes anti-Semitic attacks “through its self-proclaimed role as the leader and home of world Jewry” ? Uh ?

Does Saudi Arabia then provoke anti-Muslim attacks ? Does the high level of crimes committed by Afro-Carribeans provoke attacks on Afro-Caribbeans ?

Using the word “provoke” in this context is a disgrace. Hasan with this and his nasty quotes from the Koran about “the kaffar” shows himself unfit for his job on the theoretically “progressive” NS.

41. organic cheeseboard

and so the poor quality witchhunt continues. poor stuff, based agains on stuff taken out of context and leading questions, but nothing more to be expected from HP Sauce and its denizens. they’ll be happy enough with it, they lap up this kind of hysterical tosh, but anyone rational wants a bit less hysteria and a bit more sober analysis.

hasan’s only mistake was wasting his time rebutting an HP Sauce article. you make their writers look stupid (and it isn’t hard), you feel the force of the witchunt. weird for a site that sells itself with the slogan ‘liberty, if it means nything, is the right to tell people what tey dont’ want to hear’.

But if you dare to tell HP Sauce just how poor quality some of the crap that passes for ‘analysis’ on there actually is, you will be witch-hunted ad nauseam. leave this tedious shit for that site.

Indeed, well said, just more of the same and this reminds me of a lot of the back and forth that occured in the Ben White thread .

43. MoreMediaNonsense

Looks like the only “poor quality witchhunt” here is from you organic cheeseboard with your ranting obsession with HP.

Back to the point : Do you think Hasan’s views on Israel causing anti-semitism are acceptable ?

@43:

Seriously, it is not a new concept to state that any nations’ actions can influence the feelings against it, thus some of Israel’s policies will indeed cause anti-Semitism, just as the polices of the UK and US cause anti-UK and US feeling.

Good grief you smear merchant, if you’re going to come here at least come with a decent point.

45. organic cheeseboard

in case you missed it, this thread is actually about harry’s place.

and as i said, take your witch-hunt with all its boring leading questions, questionable assumptions, and dodgy interpretations of stuff taken out of context over there.

they enjoy that kind of crap – this place has a much lower tolerance of tedious witch-hunts.

as i said – Hasan’s only mistake was to bother replying to the idiotic ramblings of Brett ‘security guards at morrisey gigs are actually all NAZIS’ Lock. cue tedious HP Sauce witch-hunt as described above. perfect storm, and it hpapens weekly – last week ben wihte, before then Sean Wallis, before that a 17 year old girl, etc etc.

46. MoreMediaNonsense

Oh well no sensible answer from the Harryophobe organic cheeseboard. What a surprise.

I’m sure less obsessed folk will have different views on Hasan’s comments.

“thus some of Israel’s policies will indeed cause anti-Semitism”

Why ? Why does hating Israels policies rationally “provoke” anyone to attack Jews in London (who may also hate Israel’s policies) ?

it is not a new concept to state that any nations’ actions can influence the feelings against it, thus some of Israel’s policies will indeed cause anti-Semitism

No. But “anti-Israel” does not equal “anti-Semitism” – apparently.

Oops – you’ve rather let the cat out of the bag there Daniel.

48. organic cheeseboard

ask him, via the HP Sauce comments pages, as you and your ilk always do, while frothing yourselves up into ever-more hysteric tones, ever-more removed from the onbjective truth.

take your witch-hunt over there. we’re not interested.

49. organic cheeseboard

oh and ‘obsessive’ – rom an HP Sauce loon who spends his days googling people who dissent from the HP party line then asking leading questions of people that have no real interest?

hmm. not sure it’s all that offensive really with that in mind.

take your witch-hunt over there, troll. take it to the NS messageboards if you must. but we don’t care about your or your petty little vindictive online vendettas. we understand, he was mean about lovely old Brett Lock, so he must be hounded out of his job. get on with it if you want, but not here.

MoreMediaNonsense:

OC has you down pat and his answer was spot in, you’re fishing now.

And in answer to your question “Why does hating Israels policies rationally “provoke” anyone to attack Jews in London (who may also hate Israel’s policies) ?”

I never said that, what I said is above, which is that a nation’s choices effect perceptions of a nation’s people, please see US under Bush for reference.

cjcjcjcjcjcjc:

“Oops – you’ve rather let the cat out of the bag there Daniel.”

I have no idea what you mean by that?

51. MoreMediaNonsense

“hysteric tones” ? “onbjective truth” ? “frothing yourselves up” ?

Calm down dear – your phobias are overheating your brain.

Which parts of the post, specifically, you do think are libellous?

Good God man, the whole – the totality. How do you think you would get on if your blog was called NonceWatch and you started excising and analysing short film clips where identifiable individuals say some variation on “I’ve always quite liked kids” or some such during a lengthy speech on football or the price of fishcakes in China? Especially if it was served up with a side of wink-wink, we’ve seen this kind of spittle-flecked, maniacal raving before, haven’t we folks?

How much nudge-nudge is too much nudge for a judge?

That’s before you get onto the fact that all of you know damn well that any target you present to the lunatics in your comment sections is going to be libelled in some hilariously over-the-top fashion – “Islamist bigot on offensive Jihad” is a reasonable summary of the comments on that thread, so I can imagine what the NonceWatch equivalent might be.

Carter-Fuck would be up you like a rat up a drainpipe. I mean, how much of your own money would you personally wager on your ability to defend this guff?

I see no phobia, only your terrible trolling.

My “leading question” (there was only one) was a request to Flying Rodent to point out which parts of the original post were “libellous”.

As he isn’t around, I’m wondering if anyone else eager for the NS to sue can help out?

55. MoreMediaNonsense

“I never said that, what I said is above, which is that a nation’s choices effect perceptions of a nation’s people, please see US under Bush for reference.”

anti-Semitism is about Jews worldwide not just Jews in Israel. Or have you forgotten that bit ?

Daniel H-G:

thus some of Israel’s policies will indeed cause anti-Semitism

Oh dear – and we’re always being told that to oppose Israeli policies is *not* the same as anti-Semitism.

Cat out of bag.

Brownie:

He’s answered you.

Troll:

Anti-Americanism was a worldwide problem, or have you forgotten that bit.

cjcjc;

You do know I’m a Jew don’t you? It’s just that the tone of your comments is starting to get a little bit cunty if you catch my drift?

You seem to be forgetting that Israel is in the unique postion of being a nation connected strongly with a race and religion and people connect Israel with Jews, hence Israeli policy can, if you’re the kind of idiot that wants to attack people based on nation’s decisions, influence the afore mentioned idiots into anti-Semitic attacks.

Seriously, you can stick your so-called cat and bag right up your arse.

Good God man, the whole – the totality. [and then some absurd analogy]

Flying Rodent,

Not even you believe this…that the *entire* post is a libel. It’s the kind of response proferred when someone is asked to cite specific examples that support an allegation but is left floundering when they hyperbolic nature of the original claim finally dawns.

Have another go, sans analogy. If all of the post is a libel, humour me by citing the most libellous passge.

It’s just that the tone of your comments is starting to get a little bit cunty

Seriously, you can stick your so-called cat and bag right up your arse.

Does this “indivisibility of the blog and comments” schtick apply to HP only, or all blogs? This thread is plumbing new levels of lowbrow.

60. MoreMediaNonsense

“Anti-Americanism was a worldwide problem, or have you forgotten that bit.”

Yes but again that’s US citizens you’re alluding to. Jews in the West are generally not Israeli citizens.

“You seem to be forgetting that Israel is in the unique postion of being a nation connected strongly with a race and religion and people connect Israel with Jews, hence Israeli policy can, if you’re the kind of idiot that wants to attack people based on nation’s decisions, influence the afore mentioned idiots into anti-Semitic attacks.”

Similarly Saudi Arabia is strongly connected with Islam. Its also has some very unpleasant policies. I wonder if Hasan would ever write an article accusing Saudi Arabia of provoking anti-Muslim attacks by its policies.

Also if its only brainless idiots attacking Jews then why should we care what the cause is ? We won’t be able to influence them anyway. Or should policies be influenced by what idiots may or may not do ?

Brownie,

Thanks for making such a great value judgement but seriously, your wig is slipping.

Troll:

I’ve made the ideas and concepts clear, it’s not my fault you struggle to deal with them and are interested only in smearing people and as I’ve said to others here that bandy around the term anti-Semitic, my granddad would’ve clipped you round the ear for wasting the term and not understanding what it means.

Ta ta troll.

Good grief!

A few exchanges here and suddenly I don’t feel so bad about even the worst of the commenters at HP.

“Ta ta” indeed.

64. MoreMediaNonsense

Good performance Daniel, you’re nearly as rational and convincing in your arguments as organic cheeseboard.

Disgusting mindless Harryophobia is rampant and uncontrolled here. What a disgrace.

Tim J:

Plenty of horrors lurk in the comments and although I’m sure the NS are glad of your and cjcjcjcjcjc legal opinion, perhaps best to leave that to a professional?

Good job I’m a lawyer then I suppose.

a nation’s choices effect perceptions of a nation’s people

Yet it is *British* Jews under attack. How does that work?
How many attacks have there been on US expats I wonder?
(Actual US citizens.)

as I’ve said to others here that bandy around the term anti-Semitic, my granddad would’ve clipped you round the ear for wasting the term and not understanding what it means

Except that *you* were the one who said “some of Israel’s policies will indeed cause anti-Semitism”.

You do know I’m a Jew don’t you? It’s just that the tone of your comments is starting to get a little bit cunty if you catch my drift?

So what?
Oh dearie me.
You like to dish it out, but you certainly can’t take it.

my granddad would’ve clipped you round the ear

You should be more concerned about those times he dropped you on your head.

Not even you believe this…that the *entire* post is a libel.

How would you describe cutting a short clip out of a long speech, then using it to falsely imply that the subject holds extreme political and religious beliefs? Outright, deliberate lying; intentional misrepresentation, or just an accidental overstatement? Because I can’t see how it could possibly be the latter, and I wouldn’t fancy defending the first two out of my own pocket.

If you’re keen to separate post from comments, not to mention intent and context – which a court certainly wouldn’t – would you put your own backside on the line to defend it against a half-decent legal team?

…and then some absurd analogy

The methodology of it is absolutely identical to that in the post and several hundred in HP’s archives, mate – smear, hate, then coalesce, just with the words “Islamists” or “liberal-left” replaced by “Nonce”. If the analogy is absurd, it’s got plenty of company.

Brownie:

You’re a terrible liar and the wig has just about come off.

As for mentioning my grandpa, not a wise move really so a nice warning, I’d drop that motif.

Bye now!

Troll:

NEWSFLASH! Harryophobia isn’t real, you just made it up just like the smears on Mehdi Hasan.

Tim:

Libel lawyer?

I mean I teach but I’d never profess to be an expert on, let’s say teaching disabled children because I haven’t and even though I teach disabled adults I wouldn’t presume to know teaching disabled young people.

You dig?

cjcjccjcjcjcjcj:

As in other exchanges you’re not reading what’s in front of you.

“Yet it is *British* Jews under attack. How does that work?”

Sorry but British Jews aren’t under attack or if we are someone better tell us please so I can play the victim. Also, you’ve missed the point about the unique status of Israel.

“How many attacks have there been on US expats I wonder?”

No idea and don’t care.

“Except that *you* were the one who said “some of Israel’s policies will indeed cause anti-Semitism”.”

Yep and they do. Glad we’ve got that cleared up, you see what you don’t grasp is that Israel’s awful policies have fed the beast that is anti-Semitism, they’ve missed a trick, if they clambered to the moral highground they would be unassailable but they don’t, they wallow in a sense of injustice the size of Brazil and carry out acts of such brutality and violence on the peoples in the occupied territories with a malevolance and de-humnaisation of the victims that seems to be a working out all the horror of the Holocaust, nevermind the numerous other acts of horror against the Jewish peoples that have littered history.

We have to be a master of turning the other cheek, as soon as the Jewish people sink to the level of those that have hurt us we feed the sleeping monster of anti-Semitism.

Anyway, this thread isn’t about that, it is about the smearing of an innocent man, which I abhor in any context but esp. in this one. As for your so whats and dearie me, your language was starting to verge in a direction I took little care for, that of the cunt, so it was a wise move to get you to check your bad self.

And don’t quote my dear old grand pa back at me or I’ll end up calling you terrible names and that wouldn’t be good for either of us.

Yours with kind affectation,

DHG

‘The left is supposed to be about nuance – not the simple right-wing nuttery that paints the entire world as good guys V bad guys. ‘

I assume you are taking irony to a whole new level. This would be the most embarrassing sentence you’ve ever written Sunny if it weren’t followed up with this:

‘The word ‘kuffar’ is seen by many non-Muslims as derogatory like ‘golliwog’ (though you see an amazing number of right-wingers still defending those words) – and we should have a debate about whether it’s acceptable language even in wholly Muslim company.’

Kuffar is a racist, derogatory epithet just like gurra or shutsi, or paki or nigger. I am sure the majority of people would see it like that Muslim or non-muslim. To use them in any company is manifestly racist. For you to suggest that ‘ we should have a debate about whether it’s acceptable language even in wholly Muslim company’ is absolutely repellent. You admit that non-muslims find it derogatory so why would you wish to use the word regardless of what the company you are in. Are you saying it’s ok to call people racist names as long as they are not around?

Have another go, sans analogy. If all of the post is a libel, humour me by citing the most libellous passge.

Well, the headline for a start – especially since he refers to Muslims as behaving like cattles when it’s actually non-believers.

But I suppose ‘Muslim editor calls Muslims cattles’ isn’t inflammatory enough for your audience.

Tim:

Libel lawyer?

I mean I teach but I’d never profess to be an expert on, let’s say teaching disabled children because I haven’t and even though I teach disabled adults I wouldn’t presume to know teaching disabled young people.

You dig?

Litigator kiddo. On matters that have included defamation, though it’s not my main focus. I’m not offering legal advice here as such, either. Except that it’s very plain that your knowledge of the English legal system is as limited as your grammar.

73. Bongo Bot

Sunny

My understanding is that Hasan refers to Muslims as “cattle” only in the context of telling Muslims that “if we Muslims do not educate ourselves then we will be like the non-Muslims; i.e. like cattle”.

Hasan also appears to believe that while Muslims are capable of becoming less cattle, if they chose to act virtuously, wheras “the kuffar” (note that he doesn’t distinguish between different types of Kuffar) are just born like that – and they will remain in their ignornant, animal-like condition until they leave their state of ignorance by converting to Islam.

If that’s a position that you want to defend Sunny then that’s up to you. Likewise what do you think of the whole context to his arguement that unless Muslims educate themselves they will become like the kuffar? The whole way that he frames this argument means that he can only see being kuffar as a bad and unpleasant thing. Do you want to stick up for Mehdi on that score as well?

Regards,

Bongo B.

Tim J:

You’re kidding me youth? Well, well, well, my fears for the legal system in the UK seem well founded.

Seriously though, if your skills at law are in any way connected to you being a right twat, you’ve a stellar career ahead of you.

Look after yourself now!

My understanding is that Hasan refers to Muslims as “cattle” only in the context of telling Muslims that “if we Muslims do not educate ourselves then we will be like the non-Muslims; i.e. like cattle”.

The point is that uninformed and stupid people who follow the crowd are the cattle. This isn’t actually very different to Richard Dawkins claiming that people who believe in religion are sheep. Perhaps he should be banned for cursing more than half this country too?

There are plenty of verses in the Koran that say non-Muslims with knowledge are way better than Muslims without knowledge. Hey, it’s a bloody organised religion -some degree of a superiority complex is inherent.

If we want complete egalitarianism then perhaps we should stop the Bishops, the Archbishop the Pope and related folks also exercising influence over the UK’s affairs (which they do more than any Muslim).

Do you want to stick up for Mehdi on that score as well?

The speech was about Muslims learning from the west. I can happily state that I agree with the point of his speech.

Well, fair’s fair. You argued that only libel lawyers have a valid understanding of the laws of defamation. I don’t actually agree with this – it’s a relatively clear, albeit developing area of law and it’s more or less understandable for non-specialists. But even if you are right, and only people with professional qualifications can have a valid opinion on the law, that still doesn’t invalidate my opinions. Sorry.

77. Bongo Bot

Exactly Sunny. Hasan’s argument to his Muslim audience was that non-Muslims are collectively “uninformed and stupid people” – and he therefore urges Muslims to educate themselves in order not to be like the kuffar/stupid people (he argues that the two terms pretty much inter-changeable).

There’s a big different beweeen a religious “superority complex” and slagging off everyone who isn’t muslim as being “ignorant” and comparing them to “animals” and “cattle”. That isn’t acceptable behaviour for taking about races, ethnic groups etc and isn’t should be acceptable for taking about other religious groups either.

I don’t believe that slagging off other religious groups en masse is ever acceptible – even if you are doing to this in an attempt to mobile your own faith group to educate themselves better. Bigotry is bigotry – even if it is done to encourage education.

I don’t read Harry’s Place, so I can’t immediately tell which ones of the people on this thread are regular commenters there. Consequently the political demarcation lines aren’t very clear to me, and as such you all sound equally crazed.

Just sayin’. It’s simply impossible to tell, just from reading the comments on here, which ones of you are pro- or anti-Israeli. It’s all the same low grade nitpicking, sarcastic, content-free, accusatory, pointed, smug, sanctimonious bullshit.

Thus will the Israeli/Palestinian conflict be solved. Not.

Tim J – when Daniel H-G is on weak ground he quickly gets personal – don’t worry about it.
Shame because he otherwise seems very nice.

79 – no worries. The problem is of course that appealing to authority on the internet is a real waste of time. I could be anyone, from Moore-Bick LJ to Joe Schmoe on a university computer. What matters is what is written…

81. Shatterface

There are two issues here: whether Harry’s Place is Islamophobic and whether Mehdi is a bigot.

Leaving HP in the Bleedin’ Obvious pile for a moment, Mehdi’s bigotry or non-bigotry rests on whether he believes the offending passages of the Quran are true, or at least acceptable.

I’ll accept ‘kaffir’ is the equivalent of calling someone a ‘gollywog’ but Im baffled you see that as a defence. I don’t remember many here defending Carol Thatcher. Condemn them both or defend them both: anything else is hipocrisy.

As to Dawkins use of the word sheep, the Bible’s full of references: you can hardly refer to yourself as a flock and say ‘the Lord is my Shepherd’ without somebody pointing out that describing YOURSELF as idiotic, ambulatory meat isn’t a bright idea.

82. Cheesy Monkey

Who reads Harry’s Place? I mean, I’ve tried, but it’s like closely examining someone else’s shit without the aid of a microscope, gloves and a peg.

Why take them even remotely seriously? After all, they are the theoretical outriders of New Labour – nonenities bellowing nonsense to numpties. And as New Labour evaporates into thick air, you’ll probably find the HP jizzwizards sloping off to the Tories, where they should have been in the first place.

I would have suggested that Harry’s Place contributors suck the barrel and blow their brains out, but it would be pointless: not that I think they might miss, but who would notice if they didn’t?

Looks like Mehdi Hasan will be responding to HP’s smear campaign tomorrow: http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/dissident-voice/2009/07/mehdi-hasan-career-life-news

84. Shatterface

‘Who reads Harry’s Place? I mean, I’ve tried, but it’s like closely examining someone else’s shit without the aid of a microscope, gloves and a peg.’

For some reason they still publish Peter Tatchell, who’s usually worth a read.

Harry’s Place, smearing somebody? Whatever next…

Some of the people who leave comments at Harry’s Place are a tad deranged, but many seem very intelligent folk.

I think HP is justified in drawing attention to the fact that the Senior Editor (Politics) of a prominent centre-left magazine has been using this type of unpleasant sectarian language.

I’m all in favour of reform-minded Muslims encouraging education and self-improvement amongst their fellow religionists. But there’s nothing at all progressive about unquestioning, literal usage of bits of Koranic text which refer to the “kafir” and describe non-believers (and bad Muslims) as being like animals.

It’s patronising to British Muslims to suggest that they can’t express their religion and their thoughts on non-believers without resorting to this sort of offensive terminology.

It’s the kind of stuff we could (unfortunately) expect to maybe come from reactionary religious organisations who don’t care much for interfaith relations, but to hear these words from a journalist on an important centre-left magazine is surely something that merits discussion and criticism?

87. Charlieman

After 84 comments, I am still no clearer about the context of Hasan’s words in the extract chosen by the HP author. For now, I’m going to accept Sunny’s background information.

Given that, I believe that Mehdi Hasan is guilty of political naivety. If I was going to quote Nick Griffin in a political speech, I would do so in a calm, moderate voice to disassociate myself from the hatred in the words. Unless I had a track record as an anti-Nazi speaker, I wouldn’t emphasise the quotation in any way. Flatness of delivery provides appropriate emphasis anyway.

Hasan made the mistake of stressing words in the same ways as the real Islamists who feature in HP video clips. He needs to spend some time looking at Christopher Hitchens on YouTube.

God almighty this tedious blog war with HP has now landed here too? Sunny man, let it go, it’s not worth your considerable energy and talents!

89. Chris Baldwin

The Harry’s Place comments mob really are beneath contempt.

How would you describe cutting a short clip out of a long speech, then using it to falsely imply [insert a few sentences that unsurprisingly avoid any attempt to actually cite from the post]

Flying, you’re floundering. You won’t cite a libellous passage from the post because you know there is no libellous passage in the post. If there is another reason why you won’t cite, then please enlighten me. Until then, we’re left with the ridiculous spectacle of you claiming to know what the author is “imply[ing]“, and simultaneously pronouncing on the falsity of such an implication.

It’s rum stuff and a libel judge would give this shorter shritft than Thatcher would receive in Dundee.

Sunny: Well, the headline for a start

You’re kidding, right? You’re completely wrong anyway about Hasan’s invocation of the term “cattle” when he uses it to describe *some* Muslims as well as kaffars….er, I mean non-believers…but even if you were right about this other use of the term, the fact is he did use it in resepct of “atheists” and “disbelievers” as the author claims. Seriously, do you know what libel is and how the law is constructed?

Daniel: As for mentioning my grandpa, not a wise move really so a nice warning, I’d drop that motif.

Firstly, you mentioned your Grandpa. Secondly, how fucking old are you?

Sunny, I do believe one of your commenters is ‘asking me outside’. Flying knows all about implications, so perhaps you can ask him what Daniel is implying above? I do believe he is threatening me.

There are two ways I can deal with this: ask you, the blog moderator to deal with it, or I can sink to his level.

Fuck it…

Daniel, the trouble with playing the hard guy behind your computer screen is that one day you you’re going to run into someone who is going to call you on your posturing and you’ll be left looking silly, or bloody, or both. Hopefully, this machismo bullshit is something you’ll grow out of once you get the GCSEs out of the way.

FWIW, I’m old enoguh not to be so naive to think there aren’t people out there on the internet capable of giving me a good hiding. But I’ve won more fights than I’ve lost and somehow I don’t think you’d make the grade, pal.

Tit.

First paragraph is from Flying Rodent and should be italicised.

92. Cheesy Monkey

Brownie

Been at the booze, ‘ave we? Or have you just got tired of all that internet porn and returned to the scene of your last defeat?

Either way, enjoy the silence.

Night x.

Been at the booze, ‘ave we?

I haven’t touched a drop since my absinthe bonanza on Friday night.

Or have you just got tired of all that internet porn and returned to the scene of your last defeat?

I must have blinked and missed this. As it happens, I blog and comment because I find discussing stuff online beats the crap out of most of the garbage on TV. I really don’t see this hobby of mine as a battle in which there are victors and the vanquished. This is mostly because I’m not 14.

Night x.

Blimey, there are still people out there who think this faux-sincerity schtick is clever. Who knew?

You won’t cite a libellous passage from the post because you know there is no libellous passage in the post.

Do you think that this short clip – deliberately ripped free from its context – merits the description “an attack on all atheists as “kaffar”, as “cattle” and “people of no intelligence”? Is it 100% accurate to say that the purpose of the sentences spoken is to defame and insult others on account of their beliefs? And this is now the third time I’ve asked this – are you so confident that the post is accurate that you personally would pony up your own cash to defend it from a half-competent legal team?

Since you’re keen to separate the post from the comments, the context in which it appears and the intent of the author – and as I’ve repeatedly said, a court would be unlikely to accept this, but we’re talking hypotheticals here – would you put your arse on the line for it?

I’m very confident that any action on this would be able to successfully demonstrate that this is a clear attempt to defame the subject by misrepresenting his statements; that it’s made in the context of a group of writers with a long history of deliberately defaming named individuals by misrepresenting their statements, and that it was done with the intent to encourage HP’s wingnut readership to attack the subject as an Islamist extremist. If it was me who had to back this up, I would definitely go down the apology/donation to charity route.

Ask yourself – have you ever seen the Times wrench a passage from some speech that, say, Tony Blair has made about his contempt for Ba’athist dogma, and then slap it onto the front page under the headline OMFG Blair Must Answer Questions About Pro-Ba’athist Comments?

You haven’t, because it would be a) intentionally defamatory, b) unethical, deliberate lying and because c) they would be instantly sued with the hairiest, scariest lawsuit imaginable. Plus, the Times isn’t staffed by vengeful idiots.

And now that I come to think of it, there are authoritative supporting voices available to back up my argument that there was deliberate intent to deceive and defame…

I’m not entirely persuaded that the title of the post ‘Mehdi Hassan Exposed’ was entirely justified…

…Those looking to paint Hasan as some sort of firebrand estremist with Islamist tendencies cannot do so in good conscience if they have listened to the whole speech… Insofar as he is “exposed” as anything, it is as someone who is given to the odd use of unacceptable phraseology rather than as a true bigot or fundamentalist. I think it’s fair to infer that the author of the HP piece was attempting to go further than this in his/her use of “exposed” and perhaps plant an idea that Hasan is someone and something he is not – at least, that’s “not” on the basis of Hasan’s speech in its entirety.

I lift that from http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/07/27/19780/

Can you tell me whether you agree with this entirely sensible assessment, or whether this is yet another example of a “ridiculous spectacle of (someone) claiming to know what the author is “imply[ing]“, and simultaneously pronouncing on the falsity of such an implication?”

Presumably the act of “infer(ing)” what the author’s intent is perfectly reasonable, while claiming to know what the author is “imply(ing)” is ridiculous, lunatic behaviour. Will you be having a go at that particular HP poster for his foolishness?

Does anyone read the New Statesman any more? Frankly, this man is irrelevant.

I get back from a night at the theatre and my inbox is full of horseshit.

Thankfully Flying Rodent is doing excellent work combating idiocy left, right and centre.

I shan’t get in his way.

Aside from to say…

Brownie:

Oh dear, the more you go on the bigger the shit pit is you lounge in like some unredeemable old toad. You do know you’re looking rather bad out of all of this don’t you?

I have a nasty habit of actually going to meet people I argue with on the Internet and doing it face to face, that’s if they show, the last guy didn’t but he was a racist so what do you know. I get the feeling you’re in the same league as him though.

cjcjcjcjcjcjcjc:

Smashing.

Eddie:

I think you’ll find you’re irrelevant.

Flying,

You still don’t seem capable of distinguishing between what you perceive to be the rum deal received by Hasan over his speech, and the basis for a libel suit.

I wrote what I wrote because I believe it, but the last time I checked the libel laws it didn’t include a clause about what I think (there are lots of articles I disagree with that fail the defamation test). Trying to base a case for libel on the back of your overall impression of an article without being able to cite individual words or sentences that constitute the libel, would be a tad tricky. I thought the use of “expose” was an attempt to paint Hasan as an extremist; another commenter interpreted “expose” in the sense that Hasan was being revealed as someone unfit to be the editor of a progressive magazine. You pays your money, and all that. Trying to claim “the author clearly means this” when what the author has done is repeat words verbatim (as well as supplying a link to full speech for that all important context) and left readers to draw their own conclusions, is going to lose you a lot of money very quickly.

Additionally, your case for the prosecution includes all sorts of invective against HP and accusations about past behaviour that vary between somewhat unfair and outright lies. Judges tend not to look favourably on such arguments.

A libel suit that challenged the facts of the article wouldn’t get past first base as the author reports Hasan’s words accurately. A case that challenged fair comment would likewise fail as the author makes no assertion about Hasan. He doesn’t label Hasan an Islamist, a Wahhabist, a fundamentalist or even an extremist. There’s nothing.

Is it 100% accurate to say that the purpose of the sentences spoken is to defame and insult others on account of their beliefs? And this is now the third time I’ve asked this

I wasn’t aware that I hadn’t answered, but yes it is accurate to say that. That’s clearly what Hasan does. At leasst, it’s clearly fair comment to claim that’s what he is doing when he calls such people “cattle” and “people of low intelligence”. There is absolutely nothing in the rest of his speech to suggest he doesn’t actually think this about non-believers. There is no context that changes the meaning of those particular words.

Ask yourself – have you ever seen the Times wrench a passage from some speech that, say, Tony Blair has made about his contempt for Ba’athist dogma, and then slap it onto the front page under the headline OMFG Blair Must Answer Questions About Pro-Ba’athist Comments?

This would be a clincher for you were it not for the unfortunate fact that this analogy bears not the slightest relation to the facts of this case. The author at HP did not take Hasan’s words X and replay them as Y. The charge against the author is that he didn’t also mention W and Z. He linked to the whole speech, however, and the reality is that, whatever problems I have with article, the presence of W and Z do not alter the fact that Hasan also said X. If the author then took X and asserted this revealed things about Hasan that were contradicted by W and Z, then there might be a problem. As I’ve already show, however, the author is actually silent on what Hasan’s words reveal to be the true character of the man.

Oh, and for the record, I have no money to wager on anything.

@Hobgoblin:

You have mis-read, something that you’ve been prone to do in this thread, more in reference to Mehdi Hasan than me but still, you like to make stuff up rather than use what is actually said.

I’ve offered no one out, all I did was make it clear that cheap jibes about the family is out of bounds and if you cross that line consequences will have to occur because there are limits.

What form those consequences take I did not outline, you read them as fighting but I never said that but you seem to like the idea and have run with it to the hills but I’m not playing.

I’ll tell you a story, I went to meet this BNP racist cunt, a real anti-Semite, white supremacist type, he was ex-army and some other left-leaning types has warned me off, concerned he might be mental and hard but I thought, fuck it, we’re meeting in public; my aim was just to front the cunt out and show him that no matter what it talks and walks online, some one will call him out as what he is, a fucking coward with no ideas. I was going to talk but if worst comes to worst I’ve spent plenty of time fighting and if I can take the fucker down at least it’ll be one less scum bag out there.

He didn’t turn up.

Fucking hell fire!

I brought it in to perhaps bring some fucking perspective from a German Jew who barely survived the Holocaust, so while idiots are cheapening the term anti-Semite for their own petty fucking agendas, some of us actually understand what the term means.

Are you sure you understand that the interweb is a public medium?

There are two questions: 1. Do the posts & comments constitute libel, and therefore put HP legally in the wrong? Dunno, don’t care.

2. Do the posts constitute a smear campaign, by wrenching words out of context, misrepresenting them, and deliberately inviting the most damning possible interpretations (which are then – inevitably – made explicit in the comments)? Yes. Does this put HP morally in the wrong? A resounding yes.

The blind alley which Hassan seems to be advocating is the one on which Pakistan embarked on independence, become more Islamic, ie adhere more closely to the Prophet’s original teachings, and all blessings will flow to you. Of course there are several intellectual problems with this – the most glaring being whose particular interpretation of Islam do you select to achieve this.

Hassan rightly addresses the fact there is a mismatch between lhow to reconcile a pure interpretation of the Prophet’s teaching with educating the Moslem world and adopting modern science and technology.

Hassan does not however seem to address how this can be achieved, in particular how it can be reconciled with the stranglehold that the Wahhabists using Sauid oil money, exert over what constitutes the purest form of Islam.

Algeria has made a great effort to educate its population, but some years ago it was ruled that all teaching in its universities had to be in arabic. An exception had to be made for science and technology as there is no vocabulary to teach these subjects in the works of the Prophet. There are however many Islamic countries, including Algeria, Turkey and Egypt, and Malaysia which do have educated middle classes.

The next problem is that having a technically advanced education seems to set up further conflicts within young Muslims, as seen by the fact that many the 21/9 bombers had advanced technical educations.

I am still puzzled by how Hassan got the job of Political Editor at the NS, given his apparent view that Muslims need to be more devout, as this view demands that political beliefs are secondary to to political ones, and surely this is an unfeasible view for a political editor to hold.

Maybe he would be better employed by the NS as Islamic Affairs correspondent.

104. Ganpat Ram

Would Sunny Handal be happy enough with a Hindu editor of the New Statesman who called Muslims “cattle” because some “holy” book said so?

Just midly curious.

Would Sunny Handal be happy enough with a Hindu editor of the New Statesman who called Muslims “cattle” because some “holy” book said so?

But then, wouldn’t that be a good thing coming from a Hindu perspective?

Oh, and for the record, I have no money to wager on anything.

I don’t really think that matters, Brownie, although I notice that you’ve now failed to answer the question “Would you stake your own finances on defending this post” three times. That’s your prerogative, of course, but I think it’s charitable enough to allow you to restrict our discussion on this to the post itself and ignore both the comments thread and the culture and context of HP, without allowing you to tip-toe away from this question four times in a row, so I’ll ask it again – would you, Brownie, stake your possessions, however humble they may be, on defending this post in court? You might like to bear this next part in mind before you answer…

…the last time I checked the libel laws it didn’t include a clause about what I think…

They do, to a certain extent. I think the question is whether the Man In The Street would find his opinion of a person significantly lowered by an unjustified attack – basically, a “reasonableness test”. Given the status of Islamists in British society – basically, above kiddy fiddlers but probably below drunk drivers and muggers – do you think the perceptions of the Man In The Street re: Hasan might be lowered somewhat by the post? I wouldn’t second-guess a court’s opinion of the matter.

Further, a quick Google reveals that many of the defences against libel actions are reliant on a lack of malicious intent. I put it to you that the post under discussion may not be impervious to accusations of malice – that it may, in fact, just be spiteful mud flinging to smear a person with whom Brett had tussled previously. Again, my legal knowledge is weak old man, so that’s a matter for the courts.

In short, I don’t think it’s necessary for the post to say Oh my God, Hasan is an extremist nutter! in order to be vulnerable – I think the intent and context, not to mention the behaviour of your commenters, would be more than enough to have HP’s lawyers soiling their Dockers if Hasan sued you.

…There is absolutely nothing in the rest of his speech to suggest he doesn’t actually think this about non-believers. There is no context that changes the meaning of those particular words.

I hate to break the news, but attacking people for saying X without qualifying it with Y or Z is the kind of thing HP and Ollie Kamm have been complaining bitterly about whenever Chomsky and various others do it for years, and similarly Chomsky et al. throw the same at their enemies. It’s not really much of a smoking gun, is it?

You still don’t seem capable of distinguishing between what you perceive to be the rum deal received by Hasan over his speech, and the basis for a libel suit.

Well, indeed. My legal knowledge is minimal, and what little there is of that is restricted to criminal law. My point in this thread is that, as far as I can tell, libel law looks a lot more like the version I’m setting out – essentially, that deliberate, malicious smears aren’t somehow protected by virtue of being couched in Hmm, isn’t it all a bit suspicious language, and really are greatly damaged by being hosted above a lot of headbangers making wild accusations. I think you might be thinking of American law, under which you have to call someone a devil-worshipping, puppy-eating crackhead before you fall foul of the courts.

All of which is, of course, yet another step away from the bone of contention in this affair, as pointed out by Larry above. Regardless of its legality, chopping brief segments out of the speeches of people you don’t like, emphasising the very worst-possible interpretation and then handing the floor to the ghouls and goblins in your commentariat so that they can fill in the blanks for you is really, really dishonest and shitty behaviour.

Apologies if I missed any of your points there, I’m getting to the end of my lunchbreak here.

Guys – for a start the personal attacks violate the comments policy so please end them now. I’m going to clean up this thread because it’s getting completely off-topic.

Sunny

‘There is a legitimate debate to be had about the choice of words that Mehdi Hasan uses. The word ‘kuffar’ is seen by many non-Muslims as derogatory like ‘golliwog’ (though you see an amazing number of right-wingers still defending those words) – and we should have a debate about whether it’s acceptable language even in wholly Muslim company.’

Why should there be a debate when you admit it is offensive?

Are you seriously saying that it might be ok to say kuffar or golliwog it as long as non muslims or blacks were not around?

109. Ganpat Ram

Tim J:

You say, appropos Hindus hypothetically calling Muslims “cattle”:

“But then, wouldn’t that be a good thing coming from a Hindu perspective?”

No, it wouldn’t. Not if the Hindus had any decent values. Which is why I sak what Mehdi hasan thought he was doing. And why he is still an editor of the New Statesman.

“thus some of Israel’s policies will indeed cause anti-Semitism”

This is a disgraceful remark. Racism is never ok, no matter the circumstances.

Sunny, I see by “clean up” you mean delete my repsonse to Daniel throwing his not inconsiderable weight around like a 20-year old who’s had one too many Stellas, whilst leaving his implicit threats of violence to stand.

Still, this is what they mean by a blogger’s prerogative, I suppose.

Flying, I wouldn’t stake a penny of my finances on defending that or any other post on HP or any on any other blog since the internet existed. That’s how shit the libel laws are.

I hope this means you can stop asking that question now, but what it demonstrates is that everybody is scared of being sued, not that every post you disagree with is ripe for a suit that would succeed. But you already know this.

Regardless of its legality, chopping brief segments out of the speeches of people you don’t like, emphasising the very worst-possible interpretation and then handing the floor to the ghouls and goblins in your commentariat so that they can fill in the blanks for you is really, really dishonest and shitty behaviour.

GIve me a fucking break. The post included a link to the whole speech! All 68 minutes of it!

Blogging is, for the most part, almost entirely parasitic. It borrows from the output of others to spark discussion. The convention is to link and cite so readers can read the source material for themselves and make up their own minds. It’s clear from comments in the original thread not everyone bothered to do that. I’m talking both those for and against the post. Who’d a thunk it, eh?

I hate to break the news, but attacking people for saying X without qualifying it with Y or Z is the kind of thing HP and Ollie Kamm have been complaining bitterly about whenever Chomsky and various others do it for years

You’re assuming, wrongly in this case, that X is inevitably qualified by Y and Z. What if it isn’t? What if Y and Z are just other things the speaker said in the course of a speech in which s/he also said X? If X is thought to be particularly offensive, there is no obligation on any blogger to mention the redeeming features of Y and Z, assuming they offer any redemption at all.

“That Nick Griffin. He may be a racist c*nt, but he still loves his mother.”

You don’t seem to appreciate that a lot of people are unhappy about being labelled “cattle” and people of “low intelligence” and “kaffar”. Nowhere in the rest of Hasan’s speech does he qualify the use of these terms. Nowhere. There is no context – for some people at least – that makes it okay for an editor of a supposedly liberal and progressive magazine to refer to athiests as “kaffars”.

that it may, in fact, just be spiteful mud flinging to smear a person with whom Brett had tussled previously

Brett isn’t the author. It might even be spiteful to a degree, but it just needs to be factually accurate (indisputable) and fair comment (arguable but, again, the author asserts precisely NOTHING as to the character of Hasan) to survive a libel suit.

Larry,

Do the posts constitute a smear campaign, by wrenching words out of context, *misrepresenting them*

Which words in the post “misrepresent” Hasan’s own? What is the precise nature of the misrepresentation of Hasan’s words? I’m not talking about your suggestion that words have been wrought out of context, but asking about your specific allegation that Hasan’s words are “misrepresented”?

If I remeber rightly, the context for Prince Harry wearing a Nazi uniform was a fancy dress party. That didn’t save him. What’s frightening about this discussion is that there are so-called anti-racists and progressives who are contorting themselves in an effort to find context for use of the word “kaffar”. What happened to you?

Well Brownie, if HP had simply highlighted his usage of the word “kaffar” and asked for an explanation, that would be fair enough, and there would be no complaint from me.

What instead we get is an incoherent and hysterical barrage of half-formed accusation and innuendo.

You want misrepresentation – how about the eminently sensible point Mehdi made, that instead of fighting and arguing against Jews, Muslims should be investing their money and efforts into education. Somehow this gets twisted into a completely invented “us and them narrative” where he only cares about education because of some unstated but deeply unpleasant hidden agenda.

Or the idiotic, self-rebutting discussion about his attitude to Iran, which acknowledges that is committed in his opposition both to that specific dictatorial “regime” with its “terrible human rights record”, as well as more generally to the theoretical posssibility of any Islamic State, but nevertheless tries to imply that somehow he isn’t really, because he happens to agree with the Ayatollah on the specific issue of nuclear weapons.

Or the unexplained accusation to do with his use of the phrase “Muslim world” – somehow it’s meant to highly indicative of something nasty, but exactly what or why is left to the imagination of the reader. (And of course there’s no shortage of readers happy to make clear exactly what they imagine.)

I wouldn’t expect anyone to have to account for themsleves before that sort of onslaught.

As for what happened to me – well nothing’s changed, I’ve always been opposed to witch-hunting. I repeat, I’m not denying that there are legitimate questions that could be raised. I’m just saying that HP hasn’t “raised” anything. It’s simply attacked him with every rhetorical weapon at its disposal, with the transparant intention of trying to get him discredited and preferably fired before any serious debate can be had.

Brownie,

I don’t want to argue about the rights and wrongs of Hasan’s speech and the reaction to it. Maybe the use of the word “kaffar” was justified in the context, or if not then it may have been down to foolishness rather than wickedness, so it’s not unreasonable IMHO to consider the speech as a whole to try to judge where Hasan is coming from. That doesn’t neccessarily mean that people won’t be offended or that he shouldn’t be questioned on his use of it.
But criticising him for remarks made in a particular speech is one thing, what is more questionable is running a series of pieces attacking him – that smacks of a vendetta.
I mean the amount of attention he is being given suggests one of two things – either this is a dangerous individual about whom we should all be concerned, which I’m not sure is justified given what I have read so far, or that someone is using your blog to nurture a grudge. It is especially hard to judge when the author is anonymous and not even a regular HP contributor. How much do you actualy know yourself about “Channel 4 insider”

114. Luis Enrique

What is the difference between witch hunting and Aaronovitch Watch? “Smearing” people sounds like a bad thing …. Flying Rodent, remind me again how you like to describe the writers at HP? I’m sure I have seen HP condemned on the basis of excerpts from posts, cited out of context and willfully misinterpreted etc. .

I suppose I’d better quickly add the qualification that I don’t think much of Brett’s posts, nor those of Channel 4 Insider, and I think much of what Larry & FP write here has weight and that Brownie could do more to acknowledge it, but there’s an awful lot of sooty hypocrisy flying about here, and the fashion in which some people respond to HP verges on the batshit crazy in my humble, unimportant and unsubstantiated opinion.

Larry,

I appreciate your reply, but every example of misrepresentation you cite in your comment comes from the second post, not the first. Not that you could be expected to know, Flying Rodent and I have been arguing the toss about the validity of any libel suit arising from the first post. So I (mistakenly it seems) took your comment about “misrepresentation” to be a reference to the first post.

I’ll be honest: I can’t talk with any authority about potential defamation in the second post because – whisper it quietly – I haven’t even read it.

Andrew,

Maybe the use of the word “kaffar” was justified in the context, or if not then it may have been down to foolishness rather than wickedness, so it’s not unreasonable IMHO to consider the speech as a whole to try to judge where Hasan is coming from.

You do accept, I assume, that there are some things one might say for which there is no mitigation, whatever else one might say in addition?

“Infidel” means without faith. That’s all. But if, say, a Muslim MP had been delivering speechs in which s/he referred to “infidels”, you would, I’m sure, object. If the speech itself was overall positive in its message for, say, greater social cohesion, it wouldn’t change a damn thing. People in that position shouldn’t be going around saying those sorts of things. “Kaffar” has derogatroy connotations and there’s not a single person commenting on this thread who with a clear conscience can suggest otherwise. Come on, Andrew, you know this.

I. for one, am more appalled at the attempts to contextualize what is so obviously a slur than I am by anything Hasan actaully said.

But criticising him for remarks made in a particular speech is one thing, what is more questionable is running a series of pieces attacking him – that smacks of a vendetta.

Maybe it is. I’ve no idea. Neither do you, however. Maybe this person actually knows Hasan very well (he did work at C4 in the past) and is aware that what you’ve heard in that speech is just the tip of a very ugly ice-berg? Maybe Hasan is possessed of some views in private that make him unfit to be on the editorial board of the NS? And maybe he is actually the moderate he sounds like in most of that speech?

I can’t possibly know the answers to these questions so I’m not guessing. I’ll take Hasan as I find him based on what’s available in the public domain. For example, a short piece on the NS site that supports the notion Israel “causes” anti-semitism. Why don’t you do the same instead of thinking the worst of the blog post author whilst performing intellectual gynastics to find a conext for “kaffar”?

Brownie, Do yu know if it is infact David T writing these posts?

@ Brownie

Well, my record on convincing you of anything is currently running at around zero-for-fourteen, so I’ll say this and sign off…

…what it demonstrates is that everybody is scared of being sued

I’m not, and I bet Andrew and Larry aren’t either.

Sooner or later, HP is going to run one of its four-hundred comment Oooo, look at this Youtube clip, what does this tell us about that evil fucker person X, eh? no-evidence hate-harshes on somebody with no sense of humour whatsoever, and when they do they’re going to find themselves getting blasted into cinders with great fireballs of litigation.

It’s possible that might happen because of Britain’s absurdly one-sided libel laws, which offer blanket protection to the insanely wealthy. OTOH, I’ve got folding money here that says it’ll happen because the UK also has very sane and sensible libel laws that are designed to protect citizens from organised, politically-motivated smear campaigns of the kind that are all too frequent on HP.

When it happens, extended appeals based on the nasty beliefs of a pick ‘n’ mix of mad Islamics isn’t going to garner much sympathy from many other bloggers, or at least not the kind whose endorsement you’d want. That’s because I’d say that a lot of bloggers are far more likely to wind up on the receiving end of one of HP’s crazed Jihads on suspect thought than they are to suffer grief at the hands of Israel-baiting columnists, seventeen-year-old SWP activists or well-known film directors.

@Luis Enrique

You’re quite right — self-righteous hypocrisy and wild overstatement are two of the worst of my many, many vices. On the other hand, I would argue that a future employer running a Google search for Brownie or David T. isn’t going to turn up an itemised charge sheet calling them Jew-hating racists, to pick a random example.

118. Luis Enrique

FP

Aw shucks, I’m being certainly hypocritical calling anybody else hypocritical, so no hard feeling I hope. But are you sure that future employers running a Google search on David T (I don’t know whether Brownie has protected his identity more successfully) aren’t going to find some pretty strong accusations against him? But whatever, all I meant was some people are getting an attack of the vapours rather unnecessarily.

You probably have a different notion of what constitutes a politically motivated smear campaign from me. For example, I think a series of post concerning a UCU activist who talks about the campaign to boycott Israeli academics being threatened by lawyers backed by those with “bank balances from Lehman Brothers that can’t be tracked down” is entirely fair comment, and I’m happy to see people hounded for saying damn fool (at best) things like that. If you catch an HPer saying something as daft and borderline repulsive as that, feel free to hound them with the much sought after Luis Enrique seal of approval.

It looks like I’m just saying that one person’s smear campaign is another person’s fair comment, whereas I know that really some things are fair comment and others are smear campaigns …. and hell, I’m not going to convince anybody here of the merits of HP, much as a hold onto the belief that there are some (alongside some demerits) … so I’ll beat a retreat.

119. organic cheeseboard

I’m happy to see people hounded for saying damn fool (at best) things like that

but there is a difference between writing a blog post pointing out a stupid or borderline offensive comment, and what HP did to Sean Wallis.

which was – do the former, but then write and publish many other posts, publishing personal correspondence without permission, posting his email address (an invitation to their readers to spam him with abuse), do lots of dodgy and wrongheaded misreading of other things he’d said. all done, of course, based on a post which Wallis was not consulted about before it was posted, which is a real problem with bloging in general i think.

I don’t think the hounding actually achieves anything positive, and it’s the frequency with which HP Sauce reduce themselves to this kind of witch-hunt, based in almost every instance on their having a personal beef with the person being hounded (and there is no doubt AT ALL that this spat with Hasan is motivated by his making Brett Lock look like the idiot he is rather than anything else), that makes HP such a repulsive website.

But that’s all beside the point really – the central question is, what does this kind of witch-hunt, no matter how ‘deserving’ the target, actually achieve?

120. Luis Enrique

(back again)

OC

don’t know about the stuff in your second para, if it was as you describe, then clearly out of line.

what does it achieve? well depends on content and context, but if say HP is drawing attention to the odious views of somebody who speaks at left-wing events alongside the great and the good (a HP favorite) isn’t the value of that self-evident?

If there was say somebody who regularly appeared in the media in pro-free market role, but it turned out this person has some really indefensible views (I mean, much worse than you probably think ordinary free-market endorsers are) wouldn’t you want this repeatedly dragged up by bloggers, and the otherwise decent free-marketeers asked why they associate with this person, if indeed they do? I would.

(off again)

brian:

You’re a terrible div, who said that racism is ok? No one, you’re being an ass, now go back to whatever hole you crawled from.

Speaking of holes:

Hobgoblin:

I’m not sure what you’re fighting for but you’re not winning.

This is getting circular.

Maybe it is. I’ve no idea. Neither do you, however. Maybe this person actually knows Hasan very well (he did work at C4 in the past) and is aware that what you’ve heard in that speech is just the tip of a very ugly ice-berg? Maybe Hasan is possessed of some views in private that make him unfit to be on the editorial board of the NS?

So many maybe’s brownie – so many maybes. Maybe it’s that the editors at HP are determined to find something wrong with any Muslim who dares to disagree with them on an issue here or there and want to take him down a notch by mis-representing what he’s saying and then taking the negative meaning to everything he says.

I mean, the guy included Jews and fighting in one sentence! Who cares if he said ‘instead of’ – the point must be that he is a dangerous nutter who is clearly hiding his Islamist tendencies!

Maybe HP writers think these lot are ‘uppity Muslims’ who should be put in their place. Who really knows eh?

Maybe HP writers think these lot are ‘uppity Muslims’ who should be put in their place. Who really knows eh?

Anyone who actually read the HP writers, though not some of the commenters, would know that was not true.

Comment 122 is really out-smearing the smearers. The full Vaseline in fact.

124. organic cheeseboard

don’t know about the stuff in your second para, if it was as you describe, then clearly out of line.

it was more or less how it went, and you can look over the site archives if you dare to check, i’m really not misrepresenting them here; it was just the latest in a long series of witch-hunts conducted in exactly the same way by the website.

I’m sure they think that they operate on the basis outlined below:

If there was say somebody who regularly appeared in the media in pro-free market role, but it turned out this person has some really indefensible views (I mean, much worse than you probably think ordinary free-market endorsers are) wouldn’t you want this repeatedly dragged up by bloggers, and the otherwise decent free-marketeers asked why they associate with this person, if indeed they do? I would.

And in and of iteself there’s nothing too wrong with that. Although i should add that the above describes an act of blogging about someone’s dodgy views – the HP witch-hunts operate in a rather different manner. Most of the time there are repeated posts adding little new but building the hysteria to fever pitch – it’s the same sort of tactic we saw the Evening Standard use about Lee Jasper last year, when there was precious little evidence, ultimately precious little wrongdoing, but it didn’t matter, the ‘Jasper is dodgy’ meme was circulated. And i do think there’s something very worrying about that, from an ostensibly ‘progressive’ and ‘intellectual’ blog, and this feeds into Flying Rodent’s objections up there. the Hasan example is, er, exemplary – he’s in reality done and said very little wrong, but he not only dared to dissent from the HP line on the middle east, he also took issue with their shonky methods in a public forum, and to top it all off, he’s got the job that a friend of HP, Martin Bright, used to have (before he cost the magazine tons of money in a libel payout).

the proof is in the pudding, and all too often the witch-hunts are actually based on personal grudges (as, to repeat, this one undoubtedly is) and rake up very little ‘muck’ but pose a lot of very loaded, leading questions, all of which are posted on the blog and are very rarely actually asked of the person in question.

And when they do manage to consult the target of the witch-hunt, no response is good enough for them – witness the sordid Wallis affair in which the HP bores pore over his responses looking for anything they can seize on as ‘evidence of antisemitism’, when to the objective eye there is exactly none. anyone who steps into the fray, even if they do so in an entirely private manner, is fair game for HP Sauce – witness their treatment of a Jewish librarian at UCL who dared to stand up for Wallis.

This is what’s so truly depressing about the site. they claim that they are motivated by ‘telling people what they don’t want to hear’, but in reality any public dissent from the HP line (which includes a lot of stuff whose ‘progressiveness’ is pretty questionable) is cause for an immediate shitstorm of accusations of antisemitsim, smears and postings of personal email addresses (ie invitations to spam).

Brownie, Do yu know if it is infact David T writing these posts?

I don’t know who it is, but I know who it’s not. It’s not DavidT nor any of the regular posters.

If anybody wnats an example of misrepresentation, here’s what I wrote earlier when someone suggested the author of the post at HP has a vendetta against Hasan:

Maybe it is. I’ve no idea. Neither do you, however. Maybe this person actually knows Hasan very well (he did work at C4 in the past) and is aware that what you’ve heard in that speech is just the tip of a very ugly ice-berg? Maybe Hasan is possessed of some views in private that make him unfit to be on the editorial board of the NS? And maybe he is actually the moderate he sounds like in most of that speech?

And here’s how Sunny quotes me:

Maybe it is. I’ve no idea. Neither do you, however. Maybe this person actually knows Hasan very well (he did work at C4 in the past) and is aware that what you’ve heard in that speech is just the tip of a very ugly ice-berg? Maybe Hasan is possessed of some views in private that make him unfit to be on the editorial board of the NS?

Pure class, eh?

Maybe it’s that the editors at HP are determined to find something wrong with any Muslim

Hey, Flying Rodent? What do you reckon? Is tihs libel material?

Sunny, there isn’t single bit of you that honestly belives this tripe. What the fuck are you doing linking to an anti-Muslim hate site on your blogroll if you do?

Just for clarity, and in the name of fairness to all the editors at HP, could you be specific as to those authors who are the anti-Muslim bigots? So:

DavidT
Marcus
Gene
Me
Brett

Perhaps you’d do us the courtesy of putting an asterisk against the name of each author you believe is an anti-Muslim bigot?

FR,

it’s possible that might happen because of Britain’s absurdly one-sided libel laws, which offer blanket protection to the insanely wealthy. OTOH, I’ve got folding money here that says it’ll happen because the UK also has very sane and sensible libel laws that are designed to protect citizens from organised, politically-motivated smear campaigns of the kind that are all too frequent on HP.

What you appear to be saying is that the libel laws in this coutnry are indeed unfair, except to the extent they might be used against one of your political opponents.

At HP, we’ve at least demonstrated intellectual and moral consistency re our libel law. Indeed, we’ve produced multiple posts calling for libel law to be rewritten.

You’re quite right — self-righteous hypocrisy and wild overstatement are two of the worst of my many, many vices.

And as if to prove the point…

On the other hand, I would argue that a future employer running a Google search for Brownie or David T. isn’t going to turn up an itemised charge sheet calling them Jew-hating racists, to pick a random example.

I don’t think I’ve ever used that phrase and I’m fairly certain it isn’t DT’s style either. Or if it has ever been used on HP, I’d wager there’s very little debate about the validity of its use on those very specific occasions.

You do have a habit of reporting your impressions of HP and its writers as if they were acknowledged fact. You can add that to your list of vices.

OC,

We’re not going to agree on anything, so I’ll just check this bit:

This is what’s so truly depressing about the site. they claim that they are motivated by ‘telling people what they don’t want to hear’, but in reality any public dissent from the HP line (which includes a lot of stuff whose ‘progressiveness’ is pretty questionable) is cause for an immediate shitstorm of accusations of antisemitsim, smears and postings of personal email addresses (ie invitations to spam).

The perosnal email address thing was wrong i my view and I think I’m correct in stating that the original blog post was edited to omit the email address (although we were talking about an email address that was publicly available on other sites and not a priavte addy someone was hellbent on keeping private). But anyway…

You claim we don’t tolerate dissent yet Mehdi was given a right of reply after the first post. Our moderation policy is the lightest of any moderately popular political blog that I know of. Our threads, including the Hasan threads, are often bursting with dissenting views. This isn’t my opinion; anyone objective wouldn’t and couldn’t deny this.

I mean, you don’t like smears, right? But you can write this stuff and presumably sleep okay at night? And Sunny can suggest we are an anti-Muslim hate site (albeit one that he continues to link to) and that’s okay too? Because I’m a racist, DavdiT is a racist, and so are Brett, Gene and Marcus, yeah?

BTW, if anyone wants to google me, they’ll discover I’m a supporter of the IRA (as well as being an anti-Muslim bigot).

127. douglas clark

Brownie @ 125,

Either you stand by what you apparently said:

http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/07/27/19780/

Or you don’t.

That is how it works on Harrys’ Plave these days. I do not give a monkeys about what the law says. It was morally bankrupt to do what Harrys’ Place tried to do. You know that. You’ve damn near come out and said it:

So, why are you attempting to defend the narrower proposition that it might be legal.

That, would be, frankly disingenuous.

Douglas,

I didn’t like the way the criticisms of Mehdi were couched using the “Exposed” series of posts device. Mehdi doesn’t seem to me to be an extremist, or bigot, or Islamist of any description. I interpreted the first post as an implied suggestion he might be, although as other commenters pointed out, they interpreted things differently, as in, Mehdi was being “exposed” as someone who wasn’t fit to be on the editorial staff of a progressive, liberal magazine. In which case I would have preferred to see more criticsm of the NS than Mehdi himself.

As it happens, I think the NS disappeared down the plughole a good few years back, so I’ll be straight and say that I couldn’t give a rat’s ass who helps to edit it. As I mention above, my issue is with self-described anti-bigots and so-called progressives who are willing to perform intellectual handstands in any effort to defend the worst of Mehdi’s comments. That many of these people will decry smears, witch-hunts and misrepresentation and in the next breath make up any old shit they can think of with regards to HP and people like me who write there, only adds to my displeasure.

129. organic cheeseboard

I mean, you don’t like smears, right? But you can write this stuff and presumably sleep okay at night?

What I’ve been saying isn’t smearing at all, and you know it full well.

You claim we don’t tolerate dissent yet Mehdi was given a right of reply after the first post.

And was Sean Wallis? nope, in fact his response to the various smears and horrible abuse he suffered was reproduced from another place, without his permission, and was misread ad infinitum, first by ‘lucy lips’ in the actual post, then in the comments too.

you can pretend that you ‘don’t agree with posting email addresses’ but Wallis wasn’t an isolated example.

as i said, Hasan’s only mistake was to tackle Brett Lock’s ridiculously poor quality ‘media analysis’. That started a witch-hunt which culminated in the disgraceful ‘exposure’. And you should be absolutely ashamed to be part of a site which uses smear tactics like that.

as i said up there, the actions speak for themselves. your site carries the tagline ‘liberty, if it means anything, is the right to tlel peopel what they don’t want to hear’, but when Hasan objectively pulls apart the output of Brett Lock, as it’s not what the HP crew want to hear about themselves, they start a smear campaign against Hasan.

And Sunny can suggest we are an anti-Muslim hate site

he didn’t do that, and i refer you to my posts up there about extrapolating things from statements that only seem to be there if you intentionally misread the statements, as well as asking leading questions that seem totally at odds with the raw material. Leave it for your own site, they lap that shit up over there, but it’s no good on here.

this style, which you’re using in a post where you’re trying to deny your site routinely smears people, is ridiculous.

Oh and as for not being a site that’s happy with racism – remind me about those posts where Arabs were meant to be inherently untrustworthy because of the ‘slipperiness of their language’…

At HP, we’ve at least demonstrated intellectual and moral consistency re our libel law.

except when David Edgar makes nick Cohen look bad. Then David Toube says ‘Nick Cohen should sue for misrepresentation’.

I don’t think I’ve ever used that phrase and I’m fairly certain it isn’t DT’s style either.

er, David T is on record as saying that CND’s real motto is ‘fuck the yids’. nice try, but it’s not going to work. Toube has an astonishing track record of unsubstantiated claims of antisemitism.

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many of these people will decry smears, witch-hunts and misrepresentation and in the next breath make up any old shit they can think of with regards to HP

if you’re tlakign about me, this is probably the most unintentially hilarious thing I’ve ever seen on this site. take a good look at yourself.

if you don’t think the Hasan posts on HP have been a witch-hunt from day one based on a personal grudge… oh dear oh dear.

Brownie,

You do accept, I assume, that there are some things one might say for which there is no mitigation, whatever else one might say in addition?

Yes, of course.

“Kaffar” has derogatroy connotations and there’s not a single person commenting on this thread who with a clear conscience can suggest otherwise.
Come on, Andrew, you know this.

Of course “kaffar” has derogatory connotations. Sometimes the use of words with derogatory connotations can be acceptable, and often it isn’t. In the latter case, as I said above, it can be down to foolishness rather than wickedness (and some words have less lattitude for innocent use than others). That’s why you can’t pass immediate judgement on someone for their mere use of a word, particularly if you are not familiar with their views in general – you have to look at the specific comment and the sense it has been used. In other words you apply context, a concept you seem to object to. And guess what, sometimes different people will read the same piece and disagree about what the author is trying to say. That doesn’t mean it isn’t possible for us as individuals to make an objective judgement, but it also doesn’t mean that people who disagree with you are being in some way dishonest. Personally I’m really not familiar enough with the word and its origins to judge either way and I don’t think it’s neccessarily wrong for people to object to its use. But neither do I think it reasonable on teh basis of the evidence displayed so far, to use it to portray him as some kind of dangerous extremist as “channel4 insider” is clearly doing,. And I am still wondering exactly what exactly his or her agenda is.

Anyway, he has now explained his use of the word and the associated comments. And his explanation if pretty much that which his defenders have claimed. I honestly don’t feel qualified to judge whether this is a reasonable explanation or not but in the absence of any other evidence that he is some kind of extremist nutter I’m inclined to take him at his word. Do you think that’s unreasonable?

And now attempts to go after Sunny via Pickled Politics, as if to prove the vendetta style at the vile Harry’s Place.

Good grief…

What you appear to be saying is that the libel laws in this coutnry are indeed unfair, except to the extent they might be used against one of your political opponents.

I’m saying that libel laws are often abused by wealthy individuals to stifle legitimate criticism, and that this is bad. Simultaneously, I’m saying that basic libel laws should be available for all individuals to use as last-resort protection against illegitimate and malicious smear campaigns, and that this is a good and wholesome part of life in a functioning democracy. The former doesn’t tarnish the latter, and this has been my position for years, since long before HP existed.

I don’t think I’ve ever used that phrase (Jew-hating racist) and I’m fairly certain it isn’t DT’s style either. Or if it has ever been used on HP, I’d wager there’s very little debate about the validity of its use on those very specific occasions.

David T. does have the occasional lapse, of course, such as the time he had this to say about a named group of Quakers, based upon no evidence whatsoever…

“If an institution has decided that its guiding principle is “Fuck the Yids”, we should be grateful to them for being honest with us… The most plausible explanation is that they have decided that this statement: “That spirit of Christ by which we are guided is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil and again to move unto it” …is not nearly as important as fucking the yids… I think that reason is that they want to fuck the Yids… I genuinely believe that the desire to fuck the Yids is stronger than the desire to oppose fascism.”

http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/04/01/the-quakers-betray-george-fox-john-rees-disgraces-the-left/

David’s comments here are only unusual in that he is saying explicitly what he believes, rather than heavily implying it and counting on the reliable tools in your readership to spell it out. That kind of comment is, however, par for the course for around 60% of your readership, and the more of this type of baseless, borderline insane allegation appears on your blog, the more likely you are to be fragged into space dust with vicious lawsuits. Looking at that quote, I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t attend the ensuing self-pity party.

Far more commonly, David et al follow the standard HP formula of digging up some forgotten quote, subjecting it to the inkblot anti-semitism test, dropping dark hints about what phrase x implies if you look at it with your eyes a bit screwed up, then tossing it to the bestiary in comments for them to fill in the blanks. And not just once – it will happen again, and again and again to any individual targeted, regardless of the actual content of any response they make.

I would suggest that the number of people who could raise legitimate complaints against your website for this kind of behaviour and stand a fair-to-good chance of winning could run to the hundreds.

You do have a habit of reporting your impressions of HP and its writers as if they were acknowledged fact. You can add that to your list of vices.

I will, Brownie, although I’m usually inclined to trust the evidence of my own eyes. You can add your habit of repeatedly asserting that HP’s shite is shoepolish to yours.

I see little point rehashing the same old shite for a third day, but OC, Sunny is willing to speculate thus:

Maybe it’s that the editors at HP are determined to find something wrong with any Muslim who dares to disagree with them on an issue here or there

Maybe HP writers think these lot are ‘uppity Muslims’ who should be put in their place.

So whilst he’s not stating categorically that HP is an anti-Muslim hate site (nothing to do with commenters here – he specifically mentions the writers), he’s certainly willing to entertain the idea that it might, which in trun means he’s happy to speculate openly on a public forum that I, for example, as a writer at HP, might be a racist.

Where does this sit in the smear firmament, I wonder? Perhaps you could ask Sunny why PP links to a site that even *might* be a anti-Muslim hate site?

The obvious thing to do, of course, would be for me to start casting aspersions on Sunny’s anti-Semitic credentials. The next time we disagree about something, maybe I should just slip in the odd mention that Sunny’s public pronouncements might not be entirely the full story when it comes those Jews, eh? Maybe Sunny secretly thinks David irving had the right idea after all. You can never can tell, eh?

Of course, no matter how bitter our disputes have been at times, this is something no writer at HP has ever done or would dream of doing. And that, in a nutshell, is the difference between you guys and us.

That’s why you can’t pass immediate judgement on someone for their mere use of a word,

Bullshit Andrew, people do this all the time. If someone as media savvy as Mehdi is willing to use words like “kaffar”, describe people as “cattle” and “of low intelligence”, he should expect a shit-storm and it is up to him to explain its use after the fact if he wants to; it’s certainly not incumbent on the listener to contemplate that such comments might have a totally innocent meaning. Again, you’re willing to grant a dispensation to Mehdi that you wouldn’t entertain in different circumstances. How many comments did you submit contextualizing GWB’s use of “crusade” in Iraq, I wonder?

But neither do I think it reasonable on teh basis of the evidence displayed so far, to use it to portray him as some kind of dangerous extremist as “channel4 insider” is clearly doing,

I honestly don’t feel qualified to judge whether this is a reasonable explanation or not but in the absence of any other evidence that he is some kind of extremist nutter I’m inclined to take him at his word.

Sorry Andrew, but you just don’t get it. Not everyone who objects to Hasan’s words regards him as an extremist nutter. I don’t. How about dealing with the complaints of those who don’t think Mehdi is up there with bin Laden but who still don’t like being called “kaffar”? Why is your yardstick “extremist nutter”? You’re willing to “take him at his word” because he hasn’t been shown to be something that most of his critics are not claiming him to be?

You’re not stupid; use your own judgment and don’t subordinate it to some attempt by Mehdi’s more harebrained critics to paint him as an “extremist nutter”. Right now, your comment just reeks of not wanting to admit what you suspect – that Mehdi’s phraseology was highly-suspect – so you’re desparately trying to find ways to come to an alternative conclusion that you can abdicate responsibility for i.e. the the attempt to paint Hasan as an extremist nutter made me do it, m’lud.

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Of course, no matter how bitter our disputes have been at times, this is something no writer at HP has ever done or would dream of doing.

bwahahahahahaha! oh dear god. there’s no hope for you lot is there?

Har, fantastic.

I’m working on the assumption that HP are deliberately inviting libel actions now, for reasons I don’t understand.

It can currently be quite difficult to call somebody an anti-Semite without providing any actual examples of genuine and overt anti-Semitism: there’s more than a few people who would like it to be rather easier. HP are among that disreputable number.

Having read this entire debacle, including the HP end, the focus on the use of the word ‘kuffar’ seems … very odd to me.

Not because it wasn’t a risky word; I have been known to do the same kind of thing. For example, I recently used the expression ‘sand nigger’ in a post; which it would be very easy to take out of context and say “yo! racist!”. However, the actual quote was:

The Western media and many of its politicians do not want anyone in their countries to know [ devout, peaceful Muslims ] exist, although many of them are constituents of those same politicians and subscribers to those same daily papers. The myth of the turbaned sand-nigger with the IED in his backpack is far too politically expedient.

I was using a term I find offensive (for obvious reasons) in conjunction with a semantic structure which, a, indicated I don’t like it (referring to the construction as a myth) and, b, turned the rhetorical trick of ridiculing those who do like it.

Mehdi Hasan seems, fairly clearly, to have indulged in a similar oratorical device when speaking to a fairly identifiable audience; and anyone who has tried platform speaking knows what you have to do with idiom and vocabulary to tailor an address.

He used a term which his audience will have been familiar with from childhood and which they will have already known is problematised. This is called “encoding”: words become possessed of nuance and referential significance due to their cultural uses. It is a term much-used by Islamist and Wahabbist agitators; and that contextual knowledge is encoded with the word in the culture of his audience. Which provides a specific context for the points he then makes.

The historical context is equally laden with meaning. The coinage of ‘kuffar’ as a disparaging term reflects a sense of civilised superiority which the early Arabic cultures held relative to the barbarians (actual barbarians: we’re talking about the Huns and the Goths here) of Europe. Remember that Islam developoed in the “Cradle of Civilisation”: their culture was better organised, had considerably better tech and intellectual development, and had written history and a corpus of literature considerably longer than ours. They had a history of mathematics and astronomy dating back to Sumer. By comparison, we didn’t figure out chimneys for a further six hundred years.

Put that in context with Hasan’s oratorical trick; he’s pointing out that since Islam, the tables have been turned. The “cattle” are now world dominating technologists who’ve produced a vast body of architectural and intellectual beauty. The man is using language which will convey meaning to his audience and which will create cognitive dissonance designed to buttress his main point; Islam does not have to be medievalist or imperial to be Islam.

When he applies the term “kuffar” to the herd mentality he perceives in modern Islam, he is drawing an obvious line in his auditors’ minds between Islamist demagogues -> sheeplike followers -> intellectually bankrupt cultural choices -> systemic poverty and corruption. He underlines it by using language which embeds a number of cultural tropes and assumptions. He’s explicitly transmuting a racist insult into a “take the beam from your own eye” piece of rhetoric. Only someone who was actively looking for excuses to attack him could read it any other way. And that implies that anyone reading it as as revealing Islamist tendencies disagrees with him on that final point… which is revealing.

bwahahahahahaha! oh dear god. there’s no hope for you lot is there?

Okay, so which HP writer has explicitly stated or even implied that a writer at PP is soft on anti-Semitism?

Apparently my contention that this hasn’t happened is laughably inaccurate, so this should prove a simple task, no?

It can currently be quite difficult to call somebody an anti-Semite without providing any actual examples of genuine and overt anti-Semitism: there’s more than a few people who would like it to be rather easier. HP are among that disreputable number.

Yep, this our motivation for wanting to see a rewrite of the libel laws laid bare. Nothing to do with said laws being a bag of shite, or owt like that.

FFS.

so which HP writer has explicitly stated or even implied that a writer at PP is soft on anti-Semitism?

Uh, Brownie, I think the point is that if HP haven’t accused Pickled Politics of being at very least “Soft on anti-semitism”, then they must be one of a very lucky and privileged few.

Grabbing some inconclusive statement then using it to impute deep, suspicous racism is HP’s modus operandi. They’ve done it to bloggers, politicians and their parties, newspapers, unions, commentators, academics, activists, human rights NGOs, film directors and a whole host of other people, often on hilariously thin evidence. Any attempt to deny this is going to score an epic fail on the laugh test, son.

So nothing then.

It funny, there’s apparently so much evidence of all sorts of HP misdeeds but when I call this out and ask for specific examples you keep coming up empty-handed.

There is a reason for that.

Yes, it’s that when I performed that task for you on D-Squared’s blog, demonstrating, against your contention, that an HP loon had inded called anti-war marchers fascists, you screamed “smear” and disappeared like the Wicked Witch Of the West. After that it sdeemed best to leave you and your unpleasant chums to your own devices.

You’ve got a better memory than I have, but even if that’s so, it proves what exactly? That political blogs attract all sorts of nutcases? Fuck me sideways.

And if this was on DD’s blog, it’s more than likely that I was banned/deleted than fled anywhere.

We operate with very light moderation at HP. Calling anti-war marchers “fascists” is moronic, but it’s not going to get you banned, just as we don’t ban the comemnters who turn up daily to call us “zio-cons”.

I’ll happy disucss the editorial content of HP with anyone any time, but condemning us because of what some wingnut says in the comments boxes is infantile. We’re more laissez faire with the comments than CrookedTimber, Pickled Politics, Liberal Conspiracy, and pretty much any blog you care to mention. I’d wager we have a higher proportion of dissenting voices in our comments boxes than any of those blogs. We have people pushing 9/11 troofer crap, the Protocols and all all sorts of shite. But when our detractors want to have a go, this stripe of commenter is never mentioned; it’s always the reactionaries and rightwing fruitloops we have rammed down our throats. Why is that, I wonder?

I remember a thread at CrookedTimber when more than a few regular commenters were arguing that Iraqi interpreters were fair game for the resistance. Repugnant, but proves what exactly?

Hasan used exactly this tactic in his ‘response’ article on the NS. Cited three comments where he was labelled an “extremist nutter” and such like. The motivation is clear: “the only people who have a problem with what I say are looney-tunes with big mouths who throw around harebrained insults like confetti.” Or, pick the easiest arguments to refute so you don’t have to deal with the trickier stuff and hope no-one will notice.

Well, why not? It works on some of you.

In fact, it’s worse than that.

Hasan’s self-styled ‘repsonse’ to the HP posts enjoys the title:

“Who are you calling an Islamist?”

“Who” indeed. Certainly not any of the wrtiers, including ‘C4 Insider’, who in the second of the posts writes:

Hasan is not an Islamist. Indeed, he has clearly written and spoken of his opposition to the idea of an “Islamic State” as well as criticising Wahhabi and Takfiri groups.

The answer to Hasna’s question is, of course, “some bloke in the comments box at HP”.

Job done? Apparently so.

when I call this out and ask for specific examples you keep coming up empty-handed.

Well, you said earlier that calling people Jew-hating racists and such wasn’t David T.’s style, and expressed doubt that any such thing would be said at HP without good reason. When I went to the hassle of tracking down a quote and link to DT repeatedly accusing the Quakers of wishing to “Fuck the yids”, you ignored it.

On the strength of that, could you consider – and that’s “consider”, not “accept” – the possibility that I’m a fairly reasonable person making well-informed judgements based upon what I’ve seen with my own eyes?

After all, your function at HP these days appears to be Comments Janitor, chasing around blogs mopping up negative reactions to your colleagues’ more objectionable output. That you have to do that implies either a) that there are a lot of nutters who just hate HP because we love them Islamists and anti-semites or b) that there is something fundamentally fucked up going on over there on a regular basis.

I realise that you believe option a) is the one, and there sure are plenty of nutters on that internet. OTOH, I’d say b) is bang on the money.

“Grabbing some inconclusive statement then using it to impute deep, suspicous racism is HP’s modus operandi. They’ve done it to bloggers, politicians and their parties, newspapers, unions, commentators, academics, activists, human rights NGOs, film directors and a whole host of other people, often on hilariously thin evidence.”

I don’t accept that HP’s writers – as opposed to too many of its commenters – are Islamophobic. But what FR says here is pretty much undeniable and is for me what makes HP so repellent these days. Its primary purpose seems to be the electric fencing of Israel by smearing its critics as anti-semitic. Obviously Brownie’s exempted from this (and Gene to some extent) since he so rarely posts and even occasionally pops up to take issue with some of David T’s new team of nutters.

FR,

The Quakers thing was an isolated incident of DT losing it with people he expects more from. Surely the salient point is that Quakers responded to our post by tightening their letting policy for the Friends Meeting House? In other words, they admitted they go it wrong when they let out the hall to, effectively, Hezbollah? I literally cannot be arsed to do the search, but there were a couple of follow-up posts where we credited the Quakers for their actions and DavidT did the same.

HP has more posts on an average day than virtually any UK politcal blog I know. The instances where writers come right out and label anyone an anti-Semite or racist or similar are as rare as a clean sheet at White Hart Lane. This probably has something to do with the fact that two of the writers are lawyers as much as anything. I don’t need persuading that there are legitimate criticisms that can be made of some posts – fuck, I’ve made them myself – but why not stick to those legitimate criticism instead of fantastical assertions that our writing is an exercise in flinging the anti-Semite label at everyone who disagrees with us? It’s just bollocks.

Insofar as there are a lot of posts that discuss anti-Semitism, in 90% of cases the subjects are either self-avowed anti-Semites or at least people who flirt so close to it that you wouldn’t normally waste a breath complaining about this were it not for the fact this is happening on HP.

After all, your function at HP these days appears to be Comments Janitor, chasing around blogs mopping up negative reactions to your colleagues’ more objectionable output.

If we were that concerned about criticism of the authors a simple review of our moderations policy would solve that in a stroke. At least there’s an implicit admission here that our comments boxes have a very healthy proportion of dissenting voices. Some of those dissenting voices say things every bit a looney tune as the right-wing reactionaries you love to quote, but somehow these seem to attract less attention than the likes of field, etc.

that you have to do that implies either a) that there are a lot of nutters who just hate HP because we love them Islamists and anti-semites or b) that there is something fundamentally fucked up going on over there on a regular basis.

I don’t *have* to do anything. Even when I was posting, I always commented more than I blogged. I prefer commenting. Sometimes the truth is boring, eh?

But again, I’m glad to see that this myth that our comments boxes are filled with mini-Ann Coulters and not much else has been finally put to bed.

I know what answer to expect, but I can’t understnad why someone like you isn’t in the comments boxes making your case? No-one says you have to engage with regular numpties, but don’t pretend there aren’t some commenters you could get a half decent discussion out of. Same with you, Sy. I’d no doubt disagree with you both on many things, but I’d swap you two for some of the crackpots we have any day. People like Justin and Dsquared, also. Instead of sniping from the sidelines about our comments “cesspit”, why not change the dynamic?

I’m sure this is a waste of keystrokes, but I’d happily grant either of you a guest post to make your case about what’s wrong with HP if you’re up for it?

I’m off to bed just now – up at five – so I might respond more fully later, but –

I know what answer to expect, but I can’t understnad why someone like you isn’t in the comments boxes making your case?

I’m not in your comments because only about a tenth of the ones I make get through moderation, and those that do get through generally solicit “Fuck off you fucking nutter” as a response, with no right of reply. I’m a big boy and can take it, but it’s not like I don’t have enough hands-on experience to form an opinion without fighting with your “open comments policy” and your commenters’ “healthy dissent”.

I’m not in your comments because only about a tenth of the ones I make get through moderation

Really? I’ve no idea what that’s all about. We get the odd commenter complaining about this, but for the most part, and so long as you avoid the word “monkey” (???), everything’s good.

I liked the “spazzed pigeons pecking each other to death over a pile of sick”, by the way. I might well plagiarise that at some point.

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sorry brownie but i also regularly get deleted, for no good reason, and when i do get through I just get called a cunt and an anti-semite ad nauseam. it’s too boring to bother trying, and when i have done, i even get accused by the people who run the blog of having ‘sinister motives’.

I’m glad to see that this myth that our comments boxes are filled with mini-Ann Coulters and not much else has been finally put to bed.

look back about a week to David toube’s thread about Eurabia. I don’t think that ‘myth about your readership’ is anything like as wide of the mark as you think. I’d be seriously worried if a blog I ran attracted so many comment in suport of the idea of eurabia, and so many people who are clearly islamophobes, whose comments are left unmoderated. also see the horrific stuff under what is ostensibly a good post on nazi analogies today – ‘Islam is genocidal since its inception’ for example.

The Quakers thing was an isolated incident of DT losing it with people he expects more from.

for a start, no it wasn’t. and the idea that the result – Quakers tightening their policy on who can hire their hall – justifies the allegation that their guiding principle is ‘fuck the yids’ is utterly abhorrent. it’s pretty worrying that you think the ends justify those kinds of means.

in 90% of cases the subjects are either self-avowed anti-Semites or at least people who flirt so close to it that you wouldn’t normally waste a breath complaining about this were it not for the fact this is happening on HP.

untrue – witness the Caryl Churchill mess. witness counterpunch being called ‘a neo nazi magazine’. and even Sean Wallis who is fairly clearly not an antisemite even if he made a vaguely dodgy-sounding comment. far too many of the 90% you identify are based on faulty logic and questionable readings at best.

HP is also now hosting people (as contributors, not commenters) who not only admire Lieberman, who is a fascist, but people who also believe there’s no such thing as an illegal settlement in the West Bank. I’m not sure that would’ve happened back in the day but these people enjoy widespread support in the comments sections.

The image you are presenting of HP is all well and good, but the facts don’t bear it out. as a moderator, you have influence and could try to sort it out.

“in 90% of cases the subjects are either self-avowed anti-Semites or at least people who flirt so close to it that you wouldn’t normally waste a breath complaining about this were it not for the fact this is happening on HP.”

I’d say it’s closer to 50%. Livingstone, Tutu, Bowen, Lauren Booth, even David Miliban, and those are just the famous people (and Lauren Booth), God knows how many academics etc have been similarly maligned.

There’s a lot to dislike about the manner in which some on the Left elevate Israel to Top Demon. But this blanket criticism of its critics as anti-semitic unless they can point to an equal record of activism re. China/Sudan/Congo stifles intelligent debate. Which means you get left with the nutters. And round and round it goes.

It’s no coincidence you get the commentariat you do (I doubt CiF would get the same free pass for theirs). Four years ago, when I first found HP, it was robustly nu-Lab, fairly centrist, but clearly social democratic (arguments about neocon running dog foreign policy notwithstanding). Gradually the social democratic parts have dwindled into almost nothing and you’re left with tits like Chas Double-Barrel shouting their approval as this week’s designated Jew-hater is hauled into the stocks.

(btw, Rodent is the first I’ve seen complain that most of his comments get stuck in moderation – I’m sure dsquared has said the same somewhere)

correction: (Rodent isn’t the first…)

Sy, good points. HP has always been too New Labourite on domestic issues for me and too neocon on foreign ones but they used to at least generally discuss topics likely to be of interest to a leftish audience. The site has more recently become increasingly dominated by (often repetitive) pieces on Israel, Palestine, Islamism and anti-Semitism – not subjects unworthy of discussion of course (although in the latter case I would certainly question the tone and choice of target of a number of posts) but ones which do tend to attract more extreme commenters and bring out the worst in others who are normally more reasoable. ISTM that the deteroration of the comments and the above change in focus are unlikely to be coincidental.

And while I have no complaints about HP’s light touch moderation policy and they obviously can’t control who comments there, I think it’s the case with any blog that the kind of people who comment there on a regular basis do reflect on the blog itself and that blogs tend to get the commentariat they deserve. I mean the likes of Chas NB undoubtedly hang out at HP because they like it there.

for a start, no it wasn’t. and the idea that the result – Quakers tightening their policy on who can hire their hall – justifies the allegation that their guiding principle is ‘fuck the yids’ is utterly abhorrent. it’s pretty worrying that you think the ends justify those kinds of means.

Oh for Christ sake look at the link FR provides above and read the actual post. The idea that this was an article in which the proposition that the Quakers are anti-Semitic was launched is truly pathetic. DT wasn’t even the bloody author; his comment was an update to the original post and you just have to read the comments to see that most sensible people took DT to task on the “fuck the yids” comment. It’s transparently obvious that this was him lashing out somewhat rather than a sober analysis of what he really believes makes the Quakers tick. As I’ve already said, the follow-up posts clarify this.

As for the end justifying the means – and again without trawling the archives – the Quakers’ defence was that they didn’t realise who they were letting the hall to. They weren’t forced into doing anything by HP; they simply repsonded the right way once they realised FMH was being used to promote Hezbollah. If you have a problem with that decision, you need to take it up with the Quakers.

And you say you are “deleted” rather than trapped in moderation? Since we moved to WordPress and with the current access rights, the only person who can delete comments is the author of the post. So which author is deleting you? Unless you’re being overtly racist or off-topic, nothing should be getting deleted. It’s kind of the unwritten rule between authors.

also see the horrific stuff under what is ostensibly a good post on nazi analogies today – ‘Islam is genocidal since its inception’ for example.

See, this is exactly my point. You say “for example”. At the time of writing, it’s the ONLY bloody example. Your comment suggest a thread replete with anti-Islam invective. And however much I disagree with the nutter in question, there is nothing inherently racist in that comment (“Muslims are all terrorist” would be different entirely). Don’t get me wrong – I’d bet a penny to a pound that the commenter is a fucking racist, but tha’ts not quite the same thing.

So to be clear, when you say “horrific stuff” and “for example”, you’re talking about one bleedin’ comment. There are a stack of comments in that thread praising Gabriel’s article, yet you want to focus on one nutbar? And I’m the one trying to project a false image of HP?

HP is also now hosting people (as contributors, not commenters) who not only admire Lieberman, who is a fascist, but people who also believe there’s no such thing as an illegal settlement in the West Bank.

The “no such thing” is, I think, an allusion to the stance of *some* people that international law is not as clear cut as others like to make out. But whatever, I can say categorically that the majority of HP authors have been clear that they are AGAINST settlement expoansion in the OCs. Gene included. It may even be all authors, albeit there’s disagreement about how quickly Israel can/should disengage.

For kicks, here is the list of most recent posts at HP:

* Neda Soltan’s Arbayeen
* ‘The fall of the Nazi language’: A response
* Invisible Women
* The fall of the Nazi language
* Laughing at the poor
* Who Supports the Free Market?
* Desperate for health care in the USA
* A Chorus of Singh
* Salman Says…
* Greenslade Nuts Eady
* Cartographer Fox up!
* Publicity for Lubna Hussein
* Two years is a long time in (pickled) politics
* Independent Letters
* Interesting discoveries…

I’m not saying the subject matter is as varied as it oculd be, but it’s hardly the anti-Semitism fixated blog detractors like it claim it is, either.

I odn’t think anyone’s being disingenuous here. Perception is 90% of the truth and all that. But I definitely think some observers are too quick to conflate the comments and the editorial content and focus on the arsehole commenters – of which I accept there are more than a handful – to the exclusion of the many more thoughtful contributors.

I’m not saying that FR or you won’t get a “fuck you” from at least someone if you comment; I’m saying you can ignore the wankers and take things up with the commenters who have more than 2 brain cells to rub together.

And while I have no complaints about HP’s light touch moderation policy and they obviously can’t control who comments there, I think it’s the case with any blog that the kind of people who comment there on a regular basis do reflect on the blog itself and that blogs tend to get the commentariat they deserve.

I’d quibble a bit with this but not too much, but…

I mean the likes of Chas NB undoubtedly hang out at HP because they like it there.

..this kinda reinforces my earlier point to OC where he decided to focus on the commnet of a lone nutter to the exclusion of everyone else on a particular thread. You chose to mention CNB, but of course you could have selected anyone else, including the likes of MikeS, Joe Muggs, mettaculture, and any number of non-foaming at the mouth, lucid, articulate commenters*. But you didn’t, did you?

*CNB is not a foaming at the mouth extremist, but you obviously selected him to make a specific point, and I’m simply saying you could have mentioned any number of people whose politcis are closer to your own. Bloody hell, I don’t there’s an awful lot that separates me and you on the really big issues, is there?

Back to my quibble, it’s that the sort of commenter a blog attracts is as much a function of the comments policy as it is anything else. If you are relatively popular, discuss contentious isuses and pretty much allow anyone to commentate, you’re going to get more than your fair share of loons. I’ve never denied that we do attract some loons; my issue is that you guys make too much of them. They are HP parasites, not our central nervous system.

“but of course you could have selected anyone else, including the likes of MikeS, Joe Muggs, mettaculture,”

But Joe Muggs writes about music, Mettaculture has, I think, been banned and Mike S is exactly the kind of person who rarely posts there anymore, bar the occasional “my god, has it come to this” laugh at some of the wilder comparisons of fluffy liberals to Adolf Eichmann.

Incidentally, I know little bout CNB except that his Bowen post was scandalously poor. But if he is, as claimed, a supporter of Liebermann he should have no place on your front page.

157. organic cheeseboard

I think this has all run its course, but still:

..this kinda reinforces my earlier point to OC where he decided to focus on the commnet of a lone nutter to the exclusion of everyone else on a particular thread. You chose to mention CNB, but of course you could have selected anyone else

not really, because the moderates you mention very rarely publish posts on the politics side, and CNB has had a fair few recently and enjoys the explicit, and blanket, support of the person who increasingly seems to run the site on his own, David Toube. And it’s CNB i was referring to about ‘there is no such thing as an illegal settlement’ – and it’s not a quibble over international law. It’s also him i was mentioning, on his blog he specifically says he supports Avigdor Lieberman. for a site which ostensibly opposes fascism to embrace CNB as a contributor says everything, I think. But as i’ve said, that’s the way it’s been going for a while – people are picked up based on one facet of their politics with the rest disregarded, which is something HP leap on when it’s people they dislike.

and just to repeat again – far too much of this is based on personal grievances. The Hasan stuff was only featured because he made Brett Lock and David Toube look stupid.

It’s transparently obvious that this was him lashing out somewhat rather than a sober analysis of what he really believes makes the Quakers tick.

well maybe – but this rather puts paid to the idea that as he’s a lawyer he’d never write anything contentious or libellous, doesn’t it?

But I definitely think some observers are too quick to conflate the comments and the editorial content and focus on the arsehole commenters – of which I accept there are more than a handful – to the exclusion of the many more thoughtful contributors.

I’m not saying that FR or you won’t get a “fuck you” from at least someone if you comment

more or less every time i comment i get a ‘fuck you’, and often an accusation of antisemitism, from the people who run the site, most often David Toube and ‘Lucy lips’ (who again i tihnk is just his alter ego). And the one time I had a sensible conversation on there, the people who run the blog then misrepresented it on another thread, and used this conversation as a stick to beat me with.

so you’ll forgive me if i refrain in future, notwithstanding your claims that there are loads of level-headed people who post on there. there’s only so often people can intentionally misread my posts and call me a cunt in the process before i give up believing the place is a haven for serious debate. I’d believe it was a problem with the commenters and not the people who run the place, if it weren’t for the fact that a lot of the time it is the people who run the site calling me a cunt.

Arguing with Brownie and a re-run of Edgbaston 2005 on the telly…I’m feeling quite nostalgic. Much more of this and I’ll believe Labour have just won again and the recession never happened.

if it weren’t for the fact that a lot of the time it is the people who run the site calling me a cunt.

I’m calling ‘bullshit’ on that one. The person most lilely to do that is ‘Graham’, who:

a – is as far remvoed from the politics of the right-wingnuts as any of us, and
b – posts even less than I do and I’d bet is not even identified by most people as someone who helps to ‘run’ HP.

And you must be using a different name when you comment at HP, yes? I don’t think I’ve ever seen ‘organic cheeseboard’ in the comments.

Just out of interest, which moderately popular political blogs do you think set the benchmark for comments? Everything you’ve said about HP I’ve experienced at CrookedTimber or the rare occasions I’ve gone onto Dsquared’s blog. The difference between places like that – both of which I know are capable of generating great discussions – is that you can be deleted literally for just disagreeing with the editorial line. Apparently, this makes you a troll, see?

Arguing with Brownie and a re-run of Edgbaston 2005 on the telly…I’m feeling quite nostalgic. Much more of this and I’ll believe Labour have just won again and the recession never happened.

Didn’t we agree more than we disagreed? You may have been objectively pro-Saddam in your opposition to war**, but I always thought of us as, more or less, on the same side.

**Joke! In the name of God it’s a joke!

161. organic cheeseboard

game’s started now too… haddin broke a finger after the toss.

And for those still paying attention, there’s a classic of its kind currently ongoing in this thread.
http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/07/29/the-fall-of-the-nazi-language/

That someone like Conor Foley, whatever you think of his alleged “self-aggrandising”, is under sustained personal attack – and not from the lunatic wing – says nothing good about the current culture of HP.

“Didn’t we agree more than we disagreed? You may have been objectively pro-Saddam in your opposition to war**, but I always thought of us as, more or less, on the same side.”

Oh, we do, regardless of your wrongheaded stances on Bernard Manning and St Etienne. I was, er, trimming the facts to fit the joke.

Brownie,

I don’t dispute that there are sane and rational posters at HP, I do particularly like Joe Muggs and Mike S although neither are frequent posters nowdays and ISTR Mike getting nothing but abuse from another poster when he commented there the other day. There are others whom I often disagree with but I still don’t think of as nutters. The reason why people tend to focus on the loons is that they tend to dominate some threads (such as the Eurabia one) and even if there are only a limited number of them they tend to be particularly vocal and drown out the more reasoned posters.
I mentioned Chas N-B because Sy had brought him up but he does obviously represent a certain strand of opinion, the pro-Israel fundamentalists, and he has been granted guest posts so someone at HP must think he’s a sensile chap. As I said before it’s the nature of pieces about Israel/Palestine wherever they appear that they attract extreme elements and given the number of posts you have on the subject nowadays you are bound to get a good few of them, which is a shame because there are others such as S.O. Muffin who have genuinely interesting and enlightening opinions on the subject.
There are certain others who are just plain obnoxious and too often resort to personal abuse. Look at your “Pickled Pollibollocks” post the other day – there is nothing wrong with the kind of criticism you made of Sunny, whether one agrees with it or not, but certain commenters accused him of “objectively supporting vicious and/or murderous racists” and of anti-semitic abuse towards posters at PP, accusations which are both very serious and utterly false. And to be frank this isn’t helped by certain posts which have attacked particular individuals, often pretty insignificant ones, in an overly personal manner. That’s not to say the individuals don’t deserve criticism but it can often turn quite nasty – I mean I think Lauren Booth is a silly woman for example but some of the stick she has received has been very unpleasant. I think that if you managed to rid yourself of a very small number number of commenters (you could start with Morgoth) it would raise the tone a great deal. And broadening the range of subject matter would help as well – perfectly good discussion about healthcare systems today.
And this is meant as constructive criticism, I’m not just having a pop.

Oh and yes, I think we have fundamental differences on certain issues but overall I would guess we agree on more things than we disagree. And, more pertinently, so do you and Sunny.

I actually like Conor and I’ve corresponded with him privately. I don’t agree with the treatment he gets at HP but I’m going to say that this is not typical of the treatment someone with his views receives, as in (and I’m sure Conor would agree with this), there is quite a bit of history where Conor and HP are concerned. In other words, I think you’ll find Conor was getting a hard time at HP even before you think HP turned into a joke.

But look at the Apartheid Wall threads, and the disucssion following the Crown Prince of Bahrain speech. These are the sorts of conversations you get at an ultra-Zionist, anti-Muslim site. They’re just not.

And you’re wrong about St. Etienne.

Andrew, I take the point about broadening the subjects. You see, I don’t think the criticisms you make of HP can’t be made of any other blogs, but I guess we tend to focus on the more contentious issues. So for example, show me the political blog where you can get a rational discussion of Israel/Palestine without at least a few loons from both sides of the debate chipping in? I doubt such a place exists, so if your blog carries a disproportionate number of posts about I/P then the result is a idsproportionate amount of threads that become dominated by nutters or implode entirely. For my money, the solution is – as you say – to broaden the topics. I’d rather see that than introduce an unmanageable moderation policy.

BTW, the points about Sunny were mostly to do with anti-Semitic commentary on PP, of which there has been plenty over the years. I won’t take lectures from physicians who themselves are in intensive care, if you catch my drift?

“And you’re wrong about St. Etienne.”

And, by implication, right about Bernard Manning? OK, I’ll accept that ;)

Glad to see we’re agreed that Medhi Hasan is not an anti-Semite.

Cool.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Article: An attempt to smear Mehdi Hasan from New Statesman http://bit.ly/10hcLu

  2. Paranormal Guru

    Liberal Conspiracy » An attempt to smear Mehdi Hasan from New …: About the author: Sunny Hundal is editor of L.. http://bit.ly/4ugt5s

  3. Liberal Conspiracy

    Article: An attempt to smear Mehdi Hasan from New Statesman http://bit.ly/10hcLu

  4. Paranormal Guru

    Liberal Conspiracy » An attempt to smear Mehdi Hasan from New …: About the author: Sunny Hundal is editor of L.. http://bit.ly/4ugt5s

  5. tancopsey

    rt @danhancox £"$% harry’s place and its army of straw men, frankly http://tinyurl.com/luzkcw

  6. New Statesman’s senior editor (politics) responds to accusations about his religious beliefs | Journalism.co.uk Editors' Blog

    [...] reading: political blogger Sunny Hundal’s take on it here for Liberal Conspiracy (July 27), and a previous piece for context on Hasan and Harry’s [...]

  7. muiz

    Article on the subsequent smear campaign against @NS_MehdiHasan after his critique of media reportage on terrorism… | http://is.gd/jkQaZ

  8. sunny hundal

    @holysmoke Nice try Damian – but that was dealt with ages ago. Keep up mate! http://t.co/QdnECw0r

  9. Glyndwr

    RT @sunny_hundal @holysmoke Nice try Damian – but that was dealt with ages ago. Keep up mate! http://t.co/nofB3Y9e

  10. Mehdi Hasan

    @sitsio See here: http://t.co/dxOBhydy. And here: http://t.co/xbO618ss

  11. Mehdi Hasan

    @ActuarialChris http://t.co/PE93JDsD and http://t.co/K7heF6rv

  12. Mehdi Hasan

    @His_Grace 2) http://t.co/PE93JDsD and http://t.co/K7heF6rv

  13. sunny hundal

    Meanwhile, right-wing gofer Raheem Kassam to Fox: "no way to contextualise allegations against Mehdi Hasan." Oh…? http://t.co/zqdGf1I1

  14. Jamal Barry

    Meanwhile, right-wing gofer Raheem Kassam to Fox: "no way to contextualise allegations against Mehdi Hasan." Oh…? http://t.co/zqdGf1I1

  15. Hussain Ahmed

    Meanwhile, right-wing gofer Raheem Kassam to Fox: "no way to contextualise allegations against Mehdi Hasan." Oh…? http://t.co/zqdGf1I1

  16. ali alghamdi

    An attempt to smear Mehdi Hasan from New Statesman | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/FuHxOlun





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