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Thread: Ludicrous racism charges

  1. #16
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    the transcript i read in the guardian ran:

    'The row began when newsroom journalist Oliver Finegold asked him for a comment after the event.

    After Finegold had announced himself as a Standard journalist, Mr Livingstone said: "How awful for you. Have you thought of having treatment?"

    Mr Livingstone repeated his question and then asked: "What did you do? Were you a German war criminal?"

    Finegold told the mayor that he was Jewish and therefore found the remark offensive, before asking again how the event had gone.

    Mr Livingstone replied: "Arr right, well you might be [Jewish], but actually you are just like a concentration camp guard, you are just doing it because you are paid to, aren't you?"'

    how is that not gross? i realize that the standard is a bad newspaper, but saying people who write for it are like concentration camp guards is a bit much.

  2. #17
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    sure, i'm not saying it was clever and witty, it was stupid. i'm just saying it didn't justify a headline reading
    kens racist abuse
    or whatever the headline was. becasue it wasn't racist.

  3. #18
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    i think that what Ken is guilty of is mainly stupidity - stupid to be baited by someone who was quite clearly out there to rile him and stupid to use the analogy of concentration camp guards with someone only following orders - it is stupid and it is offensive to do so. whether he is intentionally racist i doubt but he has given people ammunition to attack him. there is some suggestion in the papers that Ken might have been a bit pissed but still no excuse
    what is a particular shame is that the reason Ken was out that night was for chris smith's bash - an event that should have received positive coverage even in the standard.
    as to the flying pigs advert, i told a mate in the pub about it and he didn't even realise that the two guys were jewish - if anything i think it is a bad poster cos it doesn't work, the graphics are poor and the message requires to be too carefully considered - it is not immediate enough. doesn't make etwin a nice man - remember he told a paper he wouldn't send his kids to the local comp if you paid him. and howard - don't forget the whole handcuffs for prisoners giving birth story amongst amny others.

  4. #19
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    No, what's 'offensive' - and why 'offence' is held to be the WORST THING ANYONE COULD SUFFER is worth a whole thread in itself - is that the journalist did indeed use precisely the same excuse that Nazi guards laid claim to in the postwar period. What's 'offensive' is trivializing racism to a matter of 'he called me a name': especially when the one insulted deserved it. If Livingstone's guilty of anything, it is hyperbole, but in a sense that's all the worse for the journalist, since no-one is coercing him into doing that badgering job, he won't be shot if he gets another one. What is being said? That someone who is Jewish couldn't be guilty of cowardice (in the Sartrean sense), i.e. couldn't go along with the status quo for the sake of a quiet life? That's just preposterous.

  5. #20
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    Much as I hate his guts, this is quality, isn't it?

    Asked if he would apologise to Finegold, Mr Livingstone said: " Absolutely not. If he isn't happy he shouldn't be working for a paper like that. You can't expect to work for the Daily Mail group and have the rest of society treat you with respect as a useful member of society, because you are not."

  6. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by k-punk
    No, what's 'offensive' - and why 'offence' is held to be the WORST THING ANYONE COULD SUFFER is worth a whole thread in itself - is that the journalist did indeed use precisely the same excuse that Nazi guards laid claim to in the postwar period. What's 'offensive' is trivializing racism to a matter of 'he called me a name': especially when the one insulted deserved it. If Livingstone's guilty of anything, it is hyperbole, but in a sense that's all the worse for the journalist, since no-one is coercing him into doing that badgering job, he won't be shot if he gets another one. What is being said? That someone who is Jewish couldn't be guilty of cowardice (in the Sartrean sense), i.e. couldn't go along with the status quo for the sake of a quiet life? That's just preposterous.
    K-Punk- I understand what you're saying, and I almost agree with you, but I do believe there's something you're not saying behind this, I mean, it's a pretty loaded subject. Or, if I'm not quite on the mark, nevertheless: if the dude's name is Finegold, and the Guardian transcript is accurate, then the bottom line is, comparing someone who's Jewish to a concentration camp guard is intensely inflammatory, not just for the individual but for a community of people. In my book, the same goes for all ethnic/religious groups, etc. It's interesting that you said that you think this is a uniquely British situation, 'cause the anti-semitism thing is fairly out and about on a global scale. Now what I agree with is the sense that there are much, much bigger deals going on in terms of immigration laws and such, i.e., policies that hurt much more than just feelings and can be and often are covertly (or not so covertly) extremely racist. And indeed, the anti-semitism watchdogs can be absurdly reactionary- this troubles me all the time. That doesn't mean anyone needs to sit back and just take it, or more so, that anyone deserves it. There are plenty of other analogies that can be made, why the Nazi one? I guess I'm just saying: correct me if I'm wrong, but there's a bigger reason you threw immigration law and overreactionary claims of anti-semitism together in the start of this thread.

  7. #22
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    The fact that people are offended is meaningless. So what? Offensiveness has nothing to do with racism, and the fact that all discussion of racism is now reduced to bourgeois parlour room politesse is part of the reason why this is so obnoxious. Being 'intensely inflammatory' is not a crime, even though the English Master Class would like to make it one. Besides, surely Livingstone's 'crime' consists in not RETRACTING the analogy AFTER he had learned that Finegold is Jewish. But that would have been hypocritical - either the analogy stands REGARDLESS of who it is aimed at or it doesn't. The problem, as I said, is exaggeration and cliche. The accusation of 'just following orders' is a rhetorical device many ppl reach for when faced with those who refuse to take responsibility for their actions or who appeal to some Necessity as a means of avoiding responsibility.

    Look, the logical structure is the same as this:

    A: You're behaving like a witch hunter.

    B: My great grandmother was burned as a witch, I find that very offensive.

    Now, what should A respond here? Oh, I'm sorry Mr B that I offended you? Surely not. Surely B's conduct is MUCH MUCH WORSE precisely because his family were themselves the victims of just this sort of behaviour, meaning that he ought to be well aware of its consequences and should NEVER use the excuse that his ancestors' oppressors appealed to.

    As to a wider agenda? Not really. I don't believe that the state of Israel is equivalent to Nazi Germany, much as I deplore its existence (IN THE SAME WAY that I deplore any State organized on ethnic-sectarian principles). But I WOULD want some evidence of how either Howard, Letwin or Finegold have been disadvantaged on account of their Jewishness before I will grant that they are the victims of racism. Otherwise, my original point stands: this is a case of the EMC trivializing racism in order to protect their own power and privilege. And also, an appalling distraction from the most racist election campaign in a generation.

  8. #23

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    Yes, most definitely, all around (BUT I really should add that I would NEVER say that I deplore the existence of the state of Israel), and thanks for the patient clarification, except:
    now I've gotta look into what's going on specifically 'cause I know almost nothing about the British political situation and you've piqued my interest greatly.
    Last edited by Jesse D Serrins; 15-02-2005 at 12:33 PM.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by k-punk
    As to a wider agenda? Not really. I don't believe that the state of Israel is equivalent to Nazi Germany, much as I deplore its existence (IN THE SAME WAY that I deplore any State organized on ethnic-sectarian principles). But I WOULD want some evidence of how either Howard, Letwin or Finegold have been disadvantaged on account of their Jewishness before I will grant that they are the victims of racism. Otherwise, my original point stands: this is a case of the EMC trivializing racism in order to protect their own power and privilege. And also, an appalling distraction from the most racist election campaign in a generation.
    For what it's worth I know of one lifelong Conservative voter (who isn't Anne Widicombe[sp?]) who won't vote for Howard because of “his blood” (!) Creepy beyond belief. I guess that’s a disadvantage for him.

    I agree that the values of the campaign/current debate are sickening - bewailing the hidden and all pervasive
    Racism while simultaneously stoking up hatred of Asylum Seekers and Immigrants… unrelentingly bleak.

  10. #25
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    Did people watch that profile of Howard on the BBC on Sat night? Incredible how the ground has shifted: all those images of him as a vampire (in the wake of Ann Widdecombe's 'something of the night' remark) were perfectly acceptable, it seemed, despite the fact that one of the most persistent caricatures of Jews depicts them as vampires.

  11. #26
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  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by k-punk
    one of the most persistent caricatures of Jews depicts them as vampires.
    Don't forget that his family was Romanian too - which makes him doubly susceptible to the protean depiction as vampire/baby-stealing gypsy/thieving East European, or however you want to paint it.

    Under current sensitivities Howard probably has a right to take offence at that sort of depiction - to his credit he doesn't*. Even more offensive though is the fact that a Labour MP of non-white male West European Christian stock would probably only make party leader as part of some quota system....

    (*Although this is where my sympathies with him most definitely stop.)
    Last edited by Rambler; 15-02-2005 at 09:44 AM. Reason: Didn't really make sense before...

  13. #28
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    No, what's 'offensive' - and why 'offence' is held to be the WORST THING ANYONE COULD SUFFER is worth a whole thread in itself - is that the journalist did indeed use precisely the same excuse that Nazi guards laid claim to in the postwar period.
    I haven't read all the press on this. But who exactly has said that offense is 'the worst thing anyone could suffer'? No-one. In fact the journalist didn't need to be Jewish for the comment to be offensive(ly stupid). Writing for the Standard (as of course Livingstone has done in the past) is not a 'crime' that justifies this kind of gratuitous insult. Now obviously: big deal, a journalist was offended, so what? But I'm absolutely entitled to think Livingstone is a fool with all the debating skills of a student debating society also-ran.

    The fact that people are offended is meaningless.
    If you like. I wonder how often K-Punk gets offended to be so flip? Is it only racism/homophobia/sexism if you suffer in obvious physical/material ways.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rambler
    I think Howard probably has a right to take offence at all that sort of depiction - to his credit he doesn't*.
    He can't afford to. He has to play down his background in order to appeal to some of the parochial scumbags his party has voting for them. That is why his speech at the last party conference was such a surprise.

    The conspiracy theorists are claiming that the pig poster was deliberately engineered by Campbell and the gang to highlight the fact that Howard and Letwin are Jewish by means of the (deliberately engineered) media 'outrage' that it caused. This is undoubtedly bollocks, but entertaining nevertheless.

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by johneffay
    He can't afford to. He has to play down his background in order to appeal to some of the parochial scumbags his party has voting for them.
    Which is a shame, because if you put the parochial scumbag minority to one side the traditional Conservative voter block has no inherent difficulty with race, gender or sexuality. There are plenty of gay Tory MPs, a Jewish immigrant leader, and they elected the only female prime minister we've had (and look to have for some years yet) etc. etc. The values of traditional Conservatives are that if you're good enough you will rise to the top on merit (that's the philosophy, even if it works less in practice than it should) - actually, I think that's why he plays it down. For him, it's not an issue. If he was Labour, it probably would be,

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