Ludicrous racism charges

Jesse D Serrins

New member
k-punk said:
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.
 

k-punk

Spectres of Mark
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.
 

Jesse D Serrins

New member
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.
 
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LRJP!

(Between Blank & Boring)
k-punk said:
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.
 

k-punk

Spectres of Mark
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.
 

Rambler

Awanturnik
k-punk said:
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.)
 
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henrymiller

New member
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.
 

johneffay

New member
Rambler said:
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.
 

Rambler

Awanturnik
johneffay said:
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,
 

henrymiller

New member
And didn't the Labour chairman compare Letwin with Fagin? Rambler is right in that the Conservatives are at least conflicted on this count. On the one hand they are the party of Disraeli; and it was, of course, the 'left' which developed an anti-semitic interpretation of (conservative-unionist) imperialism in South Africa. On the other hand the Tory party grandees are generally completely intolerant. But they have never gone in for conspiracy theories the way Labour sometimes does.
 

jenks

thread death
kpunk, whilst disagreeing with you about the 'offensiveness' issue i do agree with regard to the racist nature of the election. however it's not just hapening here, my mate in australia who covered their recent election bemaoned the fact that that both major parties got into 'i'm more racist than you' slanging match in their bid to appeal to the electorate. his dutch wife has now refused to apply for citizenship because of this!
and i am sure that the nazi demonstrations in dresden represent a much larger rise of european racism at work
 

stelfox

Beast of Burden
i honestly don't think anti-semitism was the thrust of the posters at all. so i'm agreeing with mark on this (wahey! first time i've had the chance to write that in about 6 months).
however, more worrying is that i really would be incredibly surprised if more than 5% of the electorate knew of howard and letwin's judaism before this and very few would have cared - now they do it may well become an issue, though.
also the likes of melanie phillips lecturing *anyone* but the most hardline bnp nutbag on prejudice just baffles me.
in the effort to throw accusations of anti-semitism where they won't really stick, the media is actually talking up this kind of bigotry's ascendance and it worries me.
those posters were daft, ill-advised, lowest-common-denominator propaganda, but what else do you expect from new labour, anyway...
 

mms

sometimes
johneffay said:
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..
hmm he's played it up with the argument against asylum in a sense , 'i was an immigrant so i can sympathise but these asylum seekers but....'
deserving and non deserving
 

k-punk

Spectres of Mark
A caller on Radio London this morning.:

"Claiming what Ken said was a racist is the same as me treating my workers really badly until someone says to me 'You're behaving like a slavemaster' and me protesting, 'That's racist, because I'm black.' That's ridiculous."

Quite.
 

henrymiller

New member
"Claiming what Ken said was a racist is the same as me treating my workers really badly until someone says to me 'You're behaving like a slavemaster' and me protesting, 'That's racist, because I'm black.' That's ridiculous."
While there are similarities between treating 'my' workers really badly (interesting use of the possessive) and being a slavemaster, there's no strong link between writing for the Standard and participating in genocide. So calling someone who treated their workers badly a 'slavemaster' would be more or less sensible, but calling someone who works for a newspaper a 'concentration camp guard' (and it doesn't matter if they're Jewish or not) is ridiculous.
 

k-punk

Spectres of Mark
henrymiller said:
While there are similarities between treating 'my' workers really badly (interesting use of the possessive) and being a slavemaster, there's no strong link between writing for the Standard and participating in genocide. So calling someone who treated their workers badly a 'slavemaster' would be more or less sensible, but calling someone who works for a newspaper a 'concentration camp guard' (and it doesn't matter if they're Jewish or not) is ridiculous.
No. You've missed the point. The link between Finegold and Nazi camp guards Livingstone was trying to establish concerned both disclaiming responsibility for their actions by blaming them on objective necessity. 'I'm just following orders.' 'I'm just doing my job.' Classic bad faith, in the Sartrean sense.

But the most important link that the slavemaster analogy establishes is that concerning fatuous outrage. It is no less ridiculous for Finegold to say 'I'm Jewish, I'm offended, I couldn't possibly be guilty of acting in bad faith' than it would be for the black boss to say 'I'm black, I'm offended, I couldn't possibly be guilty of exploiting workers.'
 

k-punk

Spectres of Mark
Dave, it's exaggerated, it's not stupid. Let's not forget: that type of journalist IS evil, contributing to cultural stupidity and all manner of reactionary nonsense. It's time people stood up to them and - more importantly - to the idiot PR culture (the big Other in person) that they represent.
 
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