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.

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