A truly insidious and disturbing piece showing the tell tale strains of an expedition to muddy the waters and shift the responsibility from the perpetrators of a terrible crime to the victims.Normally this happens post the body count but I guess this time we may as well start the whitewash right way.
Bravo Giles, you truly intellectual giant of man, with the rare ability to cut through the ravings of a brutal Islamist terrorist group and it's sadistic foot soldiers and look into their soul to discern their 'competing vision of Africa', 'discontent with crime and supermarkets' and 'angst about the corruption in Kenya' even as they single out non-muslims for slaughter.
Your considerable talents are truly wasted here, anyone who can frame barbarism in root cause sophistry and cloak butchery in anti-corruption crusade can have a lifetime gig justifying mass murder with AlQaeda.
Give me Bin Laden or Al-shabaab ' undeconstructed' any day, at least they have the courage to put themselves out there in all their intolerance, hate and ugliness, and do not subject the global public to delusional fantasy.
(I do get the feeling that Giles Foden knows something about corruption in Kenya, and rather like an examinee asked an unexpected question, is tailoring his knowledge to fit the topic.)
There was one by Jamie Gilham, about the tabloid construction of Samantha Lewthwaite as a female hate figure.
Gem of a paragraph:-
Her transgressions are plentiful: she converted to Islam, took the veil and a Muslim name, married a black and notoriously radical convert, and is the mother of mixed-race children.
The "transgressions" that those brutes of tabloid readers are objecting to are her possibly massacring a bunch of people in Nairobi. Oh , and the "notoriously radical convert" - why not "murdering jihadist"? It's not really bigotry to suspect that a woman who marries a suicide bomber could be dodgy.
Gilham's special subject is "conversion to Islam" and to him the issue is that converts can raise hostility. So he strikes two Guardian tones:- (1) forestalling purported anti-bigotry from the tabloid readers; (2) covering a subject that tabloid readers are vulgarly interested in, with his own haut en bas angle on it. This is normally done with celebrities like the Kardashians. His third tone is that of the aesthete - as Lamia (see below) says, in the "tired, arch language of a 90s art critic" as if Lewthwaite had been exhibiting an edgy art installation. It is crassly inappropriate - no vilely wrong - in such a context.
But - astonishing - here's an article by Martin Plaut which he hasn't just pulled out of his behind but which actually gives some background and even stresses that Islamism may have played a part in these events!
The commenters in the thread are reeling in shock at an informed and reasoned piece.
I cross-posted this at Harry's Place and it elicited a terrific comment from Lamia:-
So we have Foden's text-book 'Islamists are anti-capitalist protesters' rubbish, aided by this lie of convenient omission:
"Al-Shabaab is responding, specifically, to Kenyan involvement in a joint African peacekeeping force (Amisom) in Somalia."
Funny, Al-Shabab was 'responding' to Kenyan troops entering in Somalia by launching cross border murder and kidnapping raids before Kenyan troops had... even entered Somalia. How prescient of them.
But Foden's apologism, however indefensible, was predictable enough. Someone was bound to have tried the 'anti-capitalist' line just as, should Al Shabab ever start slaughtering dolphins, one ought not really be surprised if the Guardian tries to spin it as a protest against water parks in the US, or the result of Hollywood films such as Jaws which demonise aquatic life etc.
But Jenkins' piece appears to be a picture of a mind breaking down under the pressure of doublethink. He blames architects and people who gather with other people for making terrorist attacks more bloody than they need be, which is crazy and cowardly enough in itself. But he tops that with trying to argue both (1) that terrorism is the result of 'overreaction' to, er... terrorism, and (2) the proper, proportionate reaction should be people staying at home and not gathering together.
There Jenkins manages a construction of almost ingenious idiocy in which two thoughts are offered, each spectacularly stupid in itself, but each of which also fatally undermines the other. His desperate, floundering ''argument' is a sort of idiotic snake eating its own tail.
Gilham's piece (1) talks about a terrorist's career in the tired, arch language of a 90s art critic ("provokes, disturbs and fascinates"); (2) plays the racist card at the British public; and (3) accuses the rest of the media of being in an unseemly rush to write about the person he's er, writing about. So he offers us: simultaneous moral atrophy and moral censoriousness, topped with a big brass neck.
Taken separately these are horrible, deeply stupid, utterly dishonest or delusional pieces. But put together it suggests something actually sinister at the Guardian. It seems programmatic, as if they have been instructed by the editors to use all possible forms of 'argument', no matter how logically or morally unsound, in order to aid the ideological extraction of Islamism from yet another of its bloody crime scenes.
"Any vehicle will do. Send them all. Send the people who hate modern architecture, send the people who hate capitalism, send the art critic (yes, Gilham actually is a Fellow of the Royal College of Art). Just get our Islamist comrades out.
"And don't forget to draw your 'Racist!' cards from the armoury. You will need them."
A couple of years back I made some quip about Guardian writers needing aqualungs because they keep reaching new depths etc.. But it's two years on and they just keep going further down. It's like there's a black hole at the bottom of their moral ocean.
At a Council of churchmen and magnates called to Clermont in France and in a flurry of papal letters accompanying it around 1095, Urban [Pope Urban II] described renewed but completely imaginary atrocities against Christian pilgrims by Muslims in Jerusalem, so that he could arouse appropriate horror and action would follow. The effect was sensational: noblemen present hastened to raise their tenants to set out on a mission to avenge Christian wrongs in the East.
(From A History of Christianity by Diarmaid MacCulloch)
And thus began the First Crusade.
When I read this I was reminded of latter day lying skunks in the Rushdie affair and the Danish cartoons.
Both these events seemed simple enough. A novelist, cartoonists, produced works that devout believers found blasphemous. Outraged, these believers rioted, burned buildings and killed people. Liberal commentators deplored the violence but had a sweet sense of empathy for the rage boys, and were inclined to scold Rushdie/the Danish cartoonists for their lack of sensitivity.
However between the blasphemous work and the spontaneous-seeming riots there were the clerics with the lack of scruple of Mafia bosses ramping up the outrage. With Rushdie it was the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, trying to gain political advantage over the Saudis.
The Danish cartoons were a chance for clerics lower down the scale to make their careers. The Motoons did not at first cause much of a stir, but journalists began to move events towards a story:-
Only when journalists, disappointed by the lack of controversy, contacted a number of imams for their response, did Islamists begin to recognise the opportunity provided not just by the caricatures themselves but also by the sensitivity of Danish society to their publication.So Laban travelled around the Middle East and with him went an imam, Akhmad Akkari. To big up the blasphemy they included three extra drawings that were far more grossly offensive than the originals.
Among the first contacted was the controversial cleric Ahmed Abu Laban, infamous for his support for Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 attacks. He seized upon the cartoons to transform himself into a spokesman for Denmark’s Muslims. Yet however hard he pushed, he initially found it difficult to provoke major outrage. in Denmark or abroad. It took more than four months of often hysterical campaigning and considerable arm-twisting by Saudi diplomats, to create a major controversy.
The first of the three additional pictures, which are of dismal quality, shows Muhammad as a pedophile deamon , the second shows the prophet with a pig snout and the third depicts a praying Muslim being raped by a dog. Apparently, the 12 original pictures were not deemed bad enough to convince other Muslims that Muslims in Denmark are the victims of a campaign of religious hatred.
Akhmad Akkari, spokesman of the 21 Danish Muslim organizations which organized the tour, explained that the three drawings had been added to “give an insight in how hateful the atmosphere in Denmark is towards Muslims.” Akkari claimed he does not know the origin of the three pictures. He said they had been sent anonymously to Danish Muslims. However, when Ekstra Bladet asked if it could talk to these Muslims, Akkari refused to reveal their identity.recanted:-
“The world doesn’t need a lid on human expression. That also goes for people you might disagree with. There was something deep-seated in the mentality of the group I belonged to, which I just didn’t notice. There was this fundamental idea that people were not allowed to express themselves freely, and that is just wrong,” said Akkari.It sounds as though John Stuart Mill was on his reading list as well.
Akkari’s days as an imam are now behind him and he says that he is “no longer a part of the Islamic mission". He further claims that many of his former colleagues are hypocrites with a mindset that is “horribly wrong”.
When asked whether the cartoons were misused.
That's a succinct summing up of this and similar affairs. You can hear Akkari on the World Service 5:04 in. He has apologised to one of the cartoonists.
“The way I see it today, yes. Behind all the talk of protecting religious imagery, there is always power and abuse," he said. "It is simply revolting.”
So credit to the man for recanting, unlike Urban II and Khomeini, who should both be rotting in the hell they were so ready to hand out to those outwith their own religious kingdom.
There was a piece in today's Sunday Telegraph which I don't think is on line about Charlie Veitch, a former conspiracy theorist, who was praised by David Icke and Alex Jones.
The facts in the piece were pretty much covered by Slate in September 2011, so it's old news now. Still, here are some quotes worth having to hand. (I use this blog as a commonplace book, with a useful search tool).
In essence, the modern conspiracy narrative is the same as the one that has existed since the 19th century: that the few (often termed the "Illuminati") control the many. This, of course, is the nucleus of the dangerous anti-Jewish myth. When he was an insider, did he experience anti-Semitism? "Loads. Loads. I was once accused of being a Jew because of my olive skin and my nose. They said, "We can't trust him". " And when they say the "Illuminati" or "Reptiles", do they actually mean Jews? "It's slightly complicated but, mostly, yes," he says.
(I realise this is Ickeism for Beginners, but I don't want to move on to an intermediate stage.)
Veitch turned back to normality after taking part in a BBC documentary, Conspiracy Road Trip, where he talked to demolitions experts, air traffic controllers and family members of the United 93 flight. He came to the conclusion that 9/11 was the work of Islamists on a suicide mission in passenger planes. He made a video out of his recantation.
His old conspiracy friends took Internet revenge by sticking up hate videos involving pigs and child pornography and emailing a bogus "confession" of paedophilia supposedly from him. (Do these people reflect that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion might have been a similar kind of trick, using an earlier technology?) Alex Jones, who had praised his "great work" now put out a film referring to Veitch's "psychopath sociopath eyes".
He describes the conspiracy community as an "evil-worshipping paranoia. As someone who's been deep in it, and seen the hatred and insanity, I think big terrorist attacks will come from conspiracy theorists" He can envisage an assassination or a bombing carried out by a conspiracy believer who has lost all contact with reality.
Conspiracy theorists, he says, are often "bullied people. People who maybe didn't get the girls at school. . . So they see a lot of rugger bugger types and they're against anything to do with them. They will side with the devil, as long as the devil is against the West. . There's a professional victimhood in conspiracy theorists. There's hatred of high achievers."Over at Liberal Conspiracy Sunny Hundal has put up a post in order to rebut a conspiracy theory about the Woolwich sectarian murder with the explanation:-
"This is a bit of a tricky blog-post to write.
No doubt I’ll be accused by some of giving prominence to these Truthers. On the other hand unless such accounts are challenged and shone a light on, they can generate their own unchallenged cult status."
I really did think Sunny knew the internet better than that. Shining a light on these loons is like painting your nails with sawdust and superglue. It wastes your time, it doesn't work and it makes a mess.
The post has of course attracted the Truthers in full voice LISTEN DELUDED SHEEPLE! THE ANSWER IS IN THE PYRAMIDS AND THE ROTHSCHILDS.
This is fisking for dummies, but it’s Christmas after all:-
Let's just hope God is merciful, Chris
By George Galloway
WELL, he kens noo. I hope that the deceased, unbelieving English man of letters Christopher Hitchens has discovered that God is not only great but merciful too.
[Now, when Christians say that kind of thing in pious tones, you know they are lying. May all my enemies go to hell, Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel]
I had taken a self-denying ordinance over his demise at the weekend from osophageal cancer on the grounds that one should not speak ill of the recently dead and there would be nothing good to say about him considering the circumstances.
Two things forced me to shorten my purdah. The first was the way in which almost every one of the eulogies and profiles, in which I had declined to be represented on grounds of taste, nonetheless managed to attack me in the process of praising him.
[Oooh George – I've read loads of these, and y'know, you're not mentioned THAT much. The American ones don't mention you at all. But of course if your google alert says "George Galloway" – and I'm sure it does, not out of mere vanity though yours should never be underestimated, but for litigation opportunities - that's how it must seem to you.]
The second was the sight of his friend Tony Blair, his voice catching with emotion in the "death of Diana way", telling us what a great man he was.
This canonisation of the departed by some of the worst hypocrites operating in the English language must be halted before it slithers any further.
[Weel, I'd be very careful of the "h" word if I were you.]
Hitchens was the only-known case of a butterfly changing back into a slug.
He wrote like an angel but placed himself in the service of the devils.
He was a drink-soaked former Trotskyite popinjay, the Englishman in New York who discovered there were large bundles of right-wing dollars available for apostates like him. If they were prepared to betray their friends, their principles and sell the soul he didn't believe he had in the first place.
[And I'm sure your work for Iran's Press TV is done for a small pittance, barely enough to keep you in cigars. Also the "popinjay" – which one is the dapper little chap and which one the untidy handsome guy out of you two? And though it's the season for recycling, couldn't you have at least come up with some new insults?]
Easy. As Groucho Marx once put it: "These are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others."
Thus, the man who once praised Saddam Hussein in adoration and opposed the first Gulf War when the Iraqi tyrant was still occupying Kuwait, was transformed into the main literary cheerleader for the second war.
[Ah, well you would know about "adoration" of Saddam Hussein, not to mention his rapist offspring.]
And he was still blowing the weapons of mass destruction trumpet long after its tinny notes were discredited.
The man who once championed the Palestinian cause became a little echo for Benjamin Netanyahu, denouncing the 10 Turkish dead on the ship Mavi Marmara as "Hamas-sympathisers" who got what they asked for.
[Do you mean that they DIDN'T sympathise with Hamas? I'm shocked. And – get your little head around this – it's possible to champion the Palestinian cause and not become a pimp for what Hitchens would call "gaunt fascists with an Islamic face".]
Sure his ditties were witty, his parsing precise and, if you like your men drunk, slurred and slobbering, he could be charming no doubt.
[You really know you were outclassed on all fronts – "ditties were witty", "parsing precise" – is that your way of showing you can do that writing thing as well?]
But when you're slobbering in support of the re-election of George W Bush for his catastrophic second term, or backing Bush's handling of the clean-up operation after Hurricane Katrina (where he was the only man in the country other than Bush who thought the Federal Emergency Agency was doing a "heck of a job") and you have written the script for the most disastrous massacre since Vietnam, I'm afraid literary pretence must be put in its proper place. Down the lavatory.
Hitchens and I shared the ring in an epic "Grapple in the Apple" back in 2005 in Manhattan.
Thousands of people queued around the block for ringside seats paying top dollar for the privilege. You can watch it on YouTube or wait for the DVD, with commentary and my updates, which I will produce shortly.
[My dear, plug your work in the visual media as you will, your most popular appearance on YouTube will continue to be pretending to be a cat in a red leotard.]
Ultimately, the real reason for the tear-stained eulogies from the British media commentariat for the late Mr Hitchens is that, by and large, the writers and editors are weeping for themselves.
They share his guilt over the Iraq War and deep inside they know it.
But all the salty tears in the world will not out that damned spot. The next reason is class.
Hitchens was a toff, a Lord. And the English-speaking world, it seems, still likes to love a Lord.
[Admiration undeservedly won, nothing to do with talent of course. And congratulations for about the best example of resentful envy and self-promotion incompetently disguising itself as principled opposition I've seen in a long while.]
In his series Lifemanship Stephen Potter invented a reviewer called Hope-Tipping who, in order to make a splash, would take a writer to task for not doing something he was famous for, e.g. accuse D H Lawrence of showing a neglect of "the consciousness of sexual relationship, the male and female element in life”. So Hope-Tipping would be severely disappointed with Irving Welsh's lack of interest in Edinburgh's low life and he would castigate Dick Francis for not drawing on his knowledge of horses and horse-racing.
Gilad Atzmon has evidently picked up this trick of drawing attention to himself:-
Mein Kampf is an interesting read, a very important document, I could hardly find anything about the Jews – only 2 and a half pages out of 400 about the Jews.
It's one way to get noticed.
As everyone in the blogosphere knows, Gilad Atzmon has written a book, The Wandering Who, published by Zero Books and with a blurb of warm endorsement from Professor Mearsheimer - "fascinating and provocative . . Should be widely read by Jews and non-Jews alike.' This has caused a storm. Professor Mearsheimer defends himself here, and in his comments thread he is in turn warmly endorsed by every Nazi nutter and Holocaust denier in town.
I haven't read Atzmon's book, and as I wouldn't buy it or ask the library to get it, I suppose I never shall. But I did check out Atzmon's warm endorsement of his own book (here) which has put "the entire Zionist network is in a total panic" (according to him). Atzmon has also photoshopped pictures of the heads of his critics onto naked bodies. Somehow I don't think he and the Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago are in the same intellectual milieu.
Atzmon's account of the controversy:-
". . .the Islamophobic agent-provocateur “Harry’s place” [Atzmon doesn't know what an "agent provocateur is, evidently] – who never miss a chance to muddy the water – joined in, intimidating and harassing a London academic just because she tweeted that she likes Atzmon’s book
Just before London Tea Time, America woke up. Within the hour, her Zionist stooges were ready to join the campaign. EX- IDF concentration camp guard Jeffrey Goldberg had a clear plan to chew Professor John J. Mearsheimer circulating the same banal and unsubstantiated accusations.
At that stage, it appeared to be a campaign that was run by hundreds of Zionist enthusiasts – but if one scratches the surface, it was actually an orchestrated move of barely more than five Jewish bloggers, [Richard Seymour? Andy Newman?] who have managed to mobilise another twenty or so book burners or shall we call them ‘wandering sockpuppets’ that habitually attack in different areas of the net and the press, co-coordinating to harass, bully and intimidate, with the same dull, repetitive, accusations, ‘arguments’ and smears.
By Sunday night the Guardian published an appalling piece by one Andy Newman of Swindon, who, according to one of his “Socialist Unity” editors, attacked Atzmon simply to appease the relentlessly Islamophobic “Harry’s Place” public.
[Now since when did Socialist Unity "appease" Harry's Place? They have just put up a very rude piece about them - or is this merely a cunning Zionist smokescreen?]
. . .
In a final desperate attempt to jeopardize the publication of the book and to silence its author. Richard Seymour AKA ‘Lenin Thumb’, authored a new anti Atzmon manifesto.
I read Richard ‘Lenin’ Seymour’s text with interest and found out that for some reason, both ‘avant-garde revolutionary’ Seymour’s text, and Guardian’s ‘socialist’ Andy Newman’s drivel are suspiciously far too similar to the unforgettable ‘Aaronovitch Reading Atzmon’ performance at the Oxford Literature Festival. [This reading is of the choice bits of antisemitism in Atzmon's work. Why Seymour, Newman and Aaronovitch should quote the same choice pieces of antisemitism is moronically obvious.]
One may wonder how come Seymour, an alleged revolutionary radical Marxist, Andy Newman, a mediocre socialist and Neocon pro war Aaronovitch are caught together naked holding ideological hands. [Yes, how would a far left anti-Zionist like Seymour pick up with the liberal Aaronovitch?]
How is it that the three try to prevent myself and others from criticising Jewish political lobbying. For some reason they also don’t want us to look closely into the events that led to the financial turmoil. [Jews' fault of course] How is it possible that a hard core Zionist and ultra radical leftists are not only employing the same ideological argument but also performing the exact same tactics? Clearly, there is an obvious ideological and political continuum between Aaronovitch, Newman and Seymour. The Wandering Who? scrutinizes this very continuum.
Zionism clearly maintains and sustains its ‘radical left opposition’ and the logos behind such a tactic is simple- ‘revolutionary’ left is totally irrelevant to both the conflict and its resolution. Hence, Zionists cannot dream of an easier opposition to handle. When the Zionists detect a dangerous rising intellect [Atzmon of course - he tells it like it is] who aims at the truth, they obviously utilize and mobilize the Jewish left together with the few willing Sabbath Goyim executioners to gatekeep the emerging danger. Seymour, Newman and a just few others are always happy to slay the emerging intellect. [Atzmon again - in case you didn't get the first time who this "intellect" is].
Indeed they were effective for years. From an intellectual perspective our movement is pretty much a desert. Every deep thinker we have ever had [Atzmon for instance] has been targeted and destroyed by the Jewish Left and their Sabbath Goyim. But for some reason, they somehow failed with me. My views on Palestine and Israel are now circulated on most dissident journals [bringing them into discredit] and my book The Wandering Who is endorsed by the most important people scholars and activists in our discourse. [please - list of names besides Professor Mearsheimer's?]
So far, all efforts to stop the book have fallen apart. There is no sign of anyone pulling the book out but there are clear signs that the Hasbara orchestrated campaign has backfired. No one surrendered to the Zionist campaign and its stooges. As they said in Tahrir Square, ‘we have lost our fear.’ [ Oh who do you think you are!] The Wandering Who is now a best seller for more than a week (as far as Amazon ranking can tell). On the Jewish best seller list, it is even more popular than the Babylonian Talmud and the Torah. I guess that this is indeed a great concern for Zionists and their stooges, but there is nothing they can do about it.
The sheer dreadfulness of this writing passes description. How could a distinguished academic like Professor Mearsheimer read such self-important, bragging crap and pat its author on the back? OK, this is not Atzmon's book - but if this is how the guy writes - its juvenile abuse, its total idiocy on how left and liberal writers in the UK operate, its paranoia, so that if people criticise him they must be in some kind of "Zionist" conspiracy, its general craziness - now, how could Professor Mearsheimer read anything from a writer like that and endorse it? What was he on?
I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
The Act of Contrition (c1100) is really a model apology. You say you are greatly at fault, you don't offer excuses for doing what you did, and you don't say, by the way, I did other good stuff and my intentions were fine. Also, it is very short.
Not like Johann Hari's apology. He starts by explaining why he plagiarised - because the people he interviewed didn't produce good copy:-
The first concerns some people I interviewed over the years. When I recorded and typed up any conversation, I found something odd: points that sounded perfectly clear when you heard them being spoken often don’t translate to the page. They can be quite confusing and unclear. When this happened, if the interviewee had made a similar point in their writing (or, much more rarely, when they were speaking to somebody else), I would use those words instead.
He was doing them a favour you see. He was wanting to make a nice job of it. Just as an engineer, if he found a few cracks in a bridge he'd constructed, would put on extra thick paint to disguise this ugly appearance.
In my work, I’ve spent a lot of time dragging other people’s flaws into the light. I did it because I believe that every time you point out that somebody is going wrong, you give them a chance to get it right next time and so reduce the amount of wrongdoing in the world. That’s why, although it has been a really painful process and will surely continue to be for some time, I think in the end I’ll be grateful my flaws have also been dragged into the light in this way.
I, for one, don't believe that dragging other people's flaws into the light is motivated by a desire for their reform. Dragging other people's flaws into the light doesn't need lofty motives - it is jolly good fun, immensely gratifying and much practised by our opinion writers, professional and amateur. Think how many people would be pissed off if the targets of their criticism turned over new leaves. What would they have to write about in happy self-righteousness? (By the way, this gratitude for having one's flaws exposed is reminiscent of a prominent evangelical Christian caught with a tart and furry handcuffs saying that this is a visitation from the Lord to humiliate them and bring them low and closer to Him, Hallelujah).
As well as creating a succinct apology, the middle ages had a line in thorough penances. For inciting the death of Thomas a Becket, Henry II walked to Canterbury Cathedral in sack cloth and ashes and got the monks there to flog him.
So first, even though I stand by the articles which won the George Orwell Prize, I am returning it as an act of contrition for the errors I made elsewhere, in my interviews. But this isn’t much, since it has been reported that they are minded to take it away anyway. (I apologise to them for the time they’ve had to spend on this.) So second, I am going to take an unpaid leave of absence from The Independent until 2012, and at my own expense I will be undertaking a programme of journalism training. (I rose very fast in journalism straight from university.) And third, when I return, I will footnote all my articles online and post the audio online of any on-the-record conversations so that everyone can hear them and verify they were said directly to me.
After this he will no doubt appear on the Piers Morgan show, saying how this was a humbling experience but he has really learned from it and hopes he is a better person and a better journalist now.
A few months job training, a career at the end of it and a bit of journalism with footnotes? A bit flabby, Johann. No, we need the full-blown medieval pentitential work-out. Here's what you should do for you plagiarism, misrepresentation and lies.
Retrieve every article where you interviewed someone and then added words from the interviewee's own works or from other interviewers. Go through the articles and highlight every phrase that you have interpolated. Publish results on web. Leave the comments open and unmoderated. - the modern equivalent of the stocks.
Better still, act out your interview. For instance this one with Toni Negri:-
He looks at me very closely, with mild displeasure. He says in a level voice: “I never made an attempt on anyone’s life.” Then, with a shrug, he says to his translator: “I was accused of having committed hold-ups.” So, was that accusation accurate? He takes a long drag on his cigarette. “Stealing money, if it’s necessary, I can understand.” I wait for him to continue, but the sentence hangs there, like his fading smoke. Did you rob banks? “Brecht said that it’s hard to know which is a greater crime, to found a bank or to rob one,” he replies. More waiting, more smoke. He pushes his glasses on to the top of his head with his taut middle finger. “I agree with Brecht,” he says, waving his hand as though to physically push me on to another question.
So you can perform as Negri, with a cigarette as a prop.
Record this and put it on Youtube, Leave the comments open and unmoderated.
After a week or so read each comment aloud and record yourself reading it. Put that on Youtube. Leave the comments open and unmoderated. And so on . The sadism and schadenfreude of a chunky percentage of internet commenters is up there with our ancestors who chucked things at miscreants sitting in the stocks and cheered at heretic burnings.
Lazy and incompetent journalists who make stuff up to cover their laziness and incompetence are as old as journalism itself. Young Scrubbs was supposed to cover the parish meeting, couldn't be bothered, invented some copy and sent it in, only to find that at that meeting the parish hall had burned down and the mayor collapsed with a heart attack. But Hari's other crime, that of using sock puppets to edit Wikipedia entries, really belongs to the internet age.
The other thing I did wrong was that several years ago I started to notice some things I didn’t like in the Wikipedia entry about me, so I took them out. To do that, I created a user-name that wasn’t my own. Using that user-name, I continued to edit my own Wikipedia entry and some other people’s too. I took out nasty passages about people I admire – like Polly Toynbee, George Monbiot, Deborah Orr and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. I factually corrected some other entries about other people. But in a few instances, I edited the entries of people I had clashed with in ways that were juvenile or malicious: I called one of them anti-Semitic and homophobic, and the other a drunk.
What is the pre-internet equivalent of that? Sending anonymous letters about your enemies to their spouses and employers? But how crazily malicious that sounds. Gossiping about them to all and sundry can be dangerous as it may blow back on you, so it is a crime that needs the anonymity of the internet and the invention of Wikipedia.
Hari says of this:-
I am mortified to have done this, because it breaches the most basic ethical rule: don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you. I apologise to the latter group unreservedly and totally.
Of course it is a basic ethical rule taught to us as kiddies not to pull the cat's tail as how would you like it if the cat pulled your tail, but it isn't that which would stop most of us from inventing personae to edit people's Wikipedia entries. Hari did this hundreds of times, taking elaborate precautions and creating a whole cast of sock puppets. Most of us wouldn't do this because it makes you look like a crazy and obsessive loser. I can imagine some blog commenters that I know (in the internet sense) doing this, but a writer with a prestigious job on a national broadsheet? However, I was equally gob-smacked when Orlando Figes, a respected historian, did something similar. There really is nothing queerer than folk.
So to continue Hari's penance, he can edit each Wikipedia entry where he defamed someone and re-cast it, writing about their sobriety, homophilia, brilliance, tolerance and general sweetness. Also, since he sent his sock puppets around the internet to infiltrate threads where they abused his enemies and praised the works of Johann Hari he can retrieve each of those items and produce them in a handy compendium somewhere - eg seventhcircleofhell.blogspot.com. Comments open and unmoderated as above.
One year of this should be enough. By then he should be very sick of writing and the internet. However, he should have learned that it's a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive and honesty is the best policy and all such things his parents neglected to teach him. He may even become known as Honest Hari, the man who never tampered an odometer when he takes up his new career as a used-car salesman.
For an example of poor thinking accompanying, as it often does, bad writing have a look at this piece on the New Statesman website by Jonathan Githens-Mazer.
Start off with the by-line:-
There is a slippery slope between deciding who is moderate enough to be politically active, and totalitarianism.
This sums up one of the non-arguments of the piece which is that the Labour Party, by not engaging with Islamists, is somehow stifling their democratic rights. This is like saying that the X-Factor gang, by eliminating Tilly Tuneless after the first round of auditions, is silencing her singing.
At a recent event organised by Progress, a whole evening was dedicated to discussion about whether Labour should ever engage with "Islamists" (which debaters admit was a term never even defined in the debate) – or whether doing so cut against the fundamental grain of Labour itself.
What's striking about these debates is the utopian [why utopian? That makes no sense,] sterility of a position that deigns to dictate to political participants how they may or may not participate in politics in a free and open British democratic system. This is not only an explicit rejection of the "big society", it is a fundamental admission of a lack of faith in British democracy.
[No, oh logically-challenged one. Political participants can join the EDL, the BNP, the SWP or Hitz ut Tahrir if they want to. It doesn’t follow that the Labour party should engage with them. Note the loaded “deign” as well, as if this was the Labour party being snobby and superior.]
The very idea that parties themselves, or those with vested interests in the default position of current party politics, think that they have a unique right to decide which groups may or may not organise themselves within existing political frameworks is a solipsism [does he mean solecism? But that doesn’t make much sense either.] trotted out by those who want to protect their own positions within the political order. [Anyone can stand for election. Some parties like the BNP do. There are significant pressure groups as well outside of party politics eg the haulage industry when faced with a rise in the price of petrol, who can exert significant pressure on politicians.] In fact, this is a well-used expression of an older colonialism – diktats from political elites about how religious, ethnic and racial minorities should act to be more "British", and a complete lack of listening or equal exchange between participants from a range of perspectives who all have a vested interest in making politics in Westminster and beyond work. [A lot of waffle filler there. What’s an “equal exchange” with a groupuscule who thinks all problems in the world would be solved by having theocrats in charge of a greater Caliphate, and laws made with reference to the Qu’ran?]
Read the article, and the comments beneath it, which eviscerate it pretty thoroughly. What astonished me most was this:-
Jonathan Githens-Mazer is a senior lecturer in politics at the University of Exeter.
It seems he get paid by the Cordoba Foundation to produce this kind of badly argued and illiterate drivel. I don’t suppose the New Statesman has that excuse for publishing it.
Osama Bin Laden is going into caring corporate mode.
First of all he praised the knickerbomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who is alleged to have tried to blow up an aeroplane but only burned his pants instead. So you think he’d be taking him to task for screwing up so badly, but in the training that is given to management there is what is called a “praise sandwich. Managers do not act like Alan Sugar and bark that you’re a hopeless, idle, useless idiot and you’re fired (literally true in Abdulmutallab’s case). No, they stress that they appreciate the efforts you’ve put in, and um ah you do lend the tissues on your desk to your colleagues, then indicate, as obliquely as possible, that you are an idle, useless idiot, and could they offer some training to rectify this.
So Osama Bin Laden described Abdulmutallab’s botched attempt at mass murder like this:-
"The message delivered to you through the plane of the heroic warrior Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was a confirmation of the previous messages sent by the heroes of the September 11.”
You see – heroic warrior. And comparing him to the September 11 pilots, who should protest from the beyond that at least they hit their targets. But that’s corporate speak for you. Thanks to my team, says the department manager, and there are some in the team who are irritated that skiving Susan, champion work dodger, is bracketed along with them, who have really pulled out the stops and gone those extra miles. But note that Osama Bin Laden did not call Addulmutallab a competent or successful terrorist, merely an “heroic” warrior. Perhaps he was thinking of heroic failures, i.e. those who deserve credit for trying but who fall flat on their faces.
He’s also going green in his concern about global warming. There must be recycle bins in his cave and Fair Trade tea bags at his coffee point. At the end of his message, did he urge people not to waste paper by transcribing it and printing it out?
Some song writing, some verse writing and too much blogging about culture, politics, cycling and gardening.