Monday, 30 July 2018

Trump has driven liberals insane, literally

American health professionals are reporting increasing numbers of people complaining of symptoms they define as Trump Anxiety Disorder. This is beyond irony.

Ever since Donald Trump won the presidential election in November 2016, conservatives have been mocking liberals by labelling them as suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome. Now health professionals have confirmed the existence of this putative mental illness. Stranger still, many liberals have publicly admitted to suffering from this mental illness. What started out as mere political name calling has within the space of a mere two years become an actually existing mental illness, publicly proclaimed by both suffering individuals and treating professionals. Within American culture, it is now established that holding democratic elections can cause mental illness.

Perhaps, it really shouldn't come as a surprise. When President Trump met with President Putin in Helsinki, the corporate media characterised the meeting, not as an opportunity to improve relations between two nuclear powers with the capacity to destroy all human life, but as treason. The newspapers and television shows were full of people calling for Trump's impeachment. The characterisation and the calls had even been made whilst the press conference was still in progress. The only reasonable inference is that the American political media elite clearly prefer the prospect of nuclear war to the idea of America and Russia having normal diplomatic relations. If that's not insane, its hard to think of anything that would be.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Name calling as censorship

The outraged allegations of anti-Semitism being hurled at Jeremy Corbyn are nothing more than name calling. The current manifestation of this campaign is the hullaballoo surrounding the Labour Party's National Executive Committee's guidelines on anti-Semitism. The political media elite are crying foul on the ground that the guidelines do not accept hook, line and sinker the so called International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's working definition. The representation being that not doing so is proof of anti-Semitism.

However, the pundits and commentators, the politicians and pseudo-journalists forwarding this line either have not read the working definition or do not care that its examples do in fact provide a means of censoring non-anti-Semitic speech (as indeed has been recognised by the author). This fact is carefully hidden from view in all the countless discussions of the issue by rhetorical sleights of hand, such as construing the issue as: Why does Labour have such a problem with anti-Semitism? A construction that clearly implies that anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is an established fact - which, of course, is false. No matter how many times a false assertion is reiterated, it still remains a false assertion.

Of course, the accusations are not about anti-Semitism. They are about Jeremy Corbyn's position as leader of the Labour Party; they are about the criticisms of Labour party activists of Israel; they are about the movement to boycott Israel; they are about the support on the left for the rights of the Palestinian people. When the Board of Deputies issued its denunciation of the Labour Party for its alleged anti-Semitism, Enough is Enough, it actually made it clear that its concern was Corbyn's "far left" politics. Another fact that the political media elite conveniently overlooked. This selectivity is normal and routine.

Currently, the BBC and the rest are jumping up and down about Margaret Hodge's personal attack on Jeremy Corbyn, not in terms of her verbal aggression, but as proof that the Labour Party is an anti-Semitic organisation and that Corbyn (somehow) has fostered and encouraged that anti-Semitism. Apparently, for the BBC (and the rest) mere accusation constitutes proof, when the accusation is directed against those they disapprove of.

The "the Labour Party is anti-Semitic" campaign has nothing to do with actual anti-Semitism. It is a part of a much larger campaign against the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. The political media elite are terrified at the prospect of a genuinely left wing politics achieving popular support. Corbyn has been subjected to a constant campaign of smear and character assassination ever since he was elected as leader. These campaigns have been notable only by their spectacular lack of success. Smearing and lying about Corbyn has had no effect on his support in the party and the country. And this is why the political media elite are so committed to these false accusations: merely being accused of being racist is toxic in contemporary political culture. No evidence is required. So, calling him nasty names should make him unelectable.

However, the name calling card has been so over used, it is ceasing to work. The political media elite construed anyone who would vote to Leave the European Union as an ignorant racist: yet the people voted to Leave. In America, anyone who supported Trump was labelled a deplorable racist, sexist, Islamophobic, homophobe: and Trump won the election by a landslide. The same tactic was tried in Italy: and it failed. Nevertheless, the political media elite keep playing the same card in the hope that it will work, for the simple truth is they have no other. They really do hope that sufficient name calling will silence all dissent.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

FaceBook deletes Declaration of Independence

The US Declaration of Independence is hate speech, according to FaceBook.

An obscure American newspaper, the Vindicator, has been publishing extracts from the US Declaration of Independence. The paper has a FaceBook page. When the Vindicator published part of the Declaration which denounced merciless Indian savages, who kill indiscriminately, FaceBook stepped in and deleted the post on the ground that it constitutes hate speech. FaceBook was, of course, entirely correct, as a matter of definition. However, in response to complaints, FaceBook apologised, stated that it had made a mistake and reinstated the post.

FaceBook's removal of the post was correct. The characterisation of native Americans as merciless savages, who kill indiscriminately, is "hate speech". FaceBook routinely deletes posts that are far less negative in their characterisations in respect of "protected" attributes, such as ethnicity, race, national origin, gender, religion, etc. Yet, FaceBook apologised and reinstated the post.

However, FaceBook's apology is was anything but sincere. FaceBook has not changed its policies and it does not intend to. FaceBook will continue to exercise its censorship on the basis of so called hate speech. The reason FaceBook apologised is not because it made a "mistake" and it now recognises that the Declaration of Independence is not hate speech. FaceBook apologised because the Declaration of Independence is a sacred document in America. Banning it is simply not politically possible. But let anyone try writing on FaceBook about native Americans (or any other social category) as the Founding Fathers did and their post will be censored.

What this episode shows is that the liberal opposition to hate speech is selective. Some hate speech is perfectly acceptable to the liberal political media elite and some hate speech is completely unacceptable to the same elite. This selectivity reveals the political motivation of the hate speech censorship campaign. The liberal political media elite do not want free discussion of certain issues, and characterising some speech as hate speech is an effective way of closing down debate without being accused of censorship; indeed, the censors get to wrap themselves in the robes of liberal, humanitarian concern for the welfare of others: it's not censorship, it is altruism. Better yet, it does not even need an explanation because anyone who cannot see its justice is obviously a racist, sexist, homophobe, anti-Semite, or whatever. This is censorship by name calling.

When FaceBook censored the Declaration of Independence, they did everyone a favour: because their action showed how pernicious this anti-hate speech campaign is. The anti-hate speech campaign denies human rights, it denies reality, it creates the pre-conditions for totalitarianism. When a minority gets to decide what can and cannot be said, there is no crime they cannot commit with complete impunity.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Parliamentary virtue signalling

Today the British parliament discussed the Israeli destruction of the village of Khan al Ahmar. The sight was deeply depressing. The minister, Mr Burt, speaking on behalf of the government, fielded trenchant criticisms of Israel from all sides of the House. But none of it made any difference whatsoever.

The minister acknowledged that Israel is behaving contrary to international law, that its actions make peace and a two state solution even more distant, that Israel is not prepared to listen to reason. Yet, he made it perfectly plain that the British government is not prepared to do anything more than ask the government of Israel to show restraint - a restraint that by his own admissions, he knows Israel will not show.

This debate in the House was futile, and as Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry expressed it, a waste of breath. Israel violates international law and commits war crimes, systematically. The British government, when pressed, expresses regret and calls for restraint, whilst knowing full well that its words will have no effect. For decades, Israel has violated international law, has flouted United Nations resolutions, has systematically pursued policies that make the possibility of a sovereign Palestinian state ever more remote. And the British government has tacitly colluded in this.

When members of parliament suggested that finally the time had come for the British government to take some practical action, the minister fended off by asserting that the government was in discussions with its international partners. The debate ended with no requirement that the government do anything whatsoever.

The Americans have an expression: virtue signalling. It refers to the conspicuous, but empty because without effect, expression of one's moral values. And that is precisely what happened in this parliamentary debate. No action whatsoever is to be taken by the British government in response to Israel's violations of international law. The only purpose served by the debate was the expression by parliament of its own assumed moral superiority.