Thursday, August 11, 2005

A wonderful example of the current insanity:

Pissing hell - the world really has gone mental. I'm agreeing (almost) wholeheartedly with Max Hastings. Highlights:

"Whatever steps a society takes to defend itself, these must be subject to extra-parliamentary review. Democracy in Britain is already in poor health. Such is the power of the executive, so feeble is the influence of Commons backbenchers, so weak are the Lords and local government, that today the judiciary represents the only substantial check upon the excesses and follies of government....

"The outbreak of active terrorism in this country indeed demands new laws, rendering necessary a shift of the balance between civil rights and public protection. It will be surprising if judges do not show sensitivity to this. But the greater the powers of the state - especially custodial powers - and the more vital becomes the sceptical, scrutinising role of courts...

"None of this is intended to make a case for the British government to respond feebly to the threat from violent Islamism. It is merely to argue that legislation on new security measures should be reasoned, rather than reflexive. This is difficult in the current overcharged mood, both at Westminster and among the public."
Has old man Hastings had a forced lobotomy since he started writing for the Guardian? This is pretty much spot on.

Update: There's a fairly predictable discussion of the latest witch-hunt over a Guardian opinion piece in the comments.


Blogger sean said...

Bless you NM, for reading the piece in the Guardian that no-one is talking about.
You are aware of the blogospherical buzz about today's other Guardian piece?
The one, it turns out, that was written by a suspected terrorist, cited as an al-Qaeda sympathiser by the UN, the man whose mobile phone was involved in the Nairobi suicide attacks?
The Guardian has outdone itself today. Seamus Milne, take a bow.

8/11/2005 02:35:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

To be honest, I try not to read the Guardian much these days - it's gone shit, and its opinion pieces are generally written by morons. Also haven't checked many other blogs today - and almost certainly not the ones that are obsessed with this sort of thing.

*quickly checks Harry's Place*

Ah. Surprise surprise.

From a quick scan of the accusations against the guy, he's not been convicted of anything (tell me if I'm wrong).

From a quick scan of the article, I'd imagine the Grauniad were fully aware of what they were doing to boot. The piece starts with the words "My message is to urge jihad", after all, and contains such nonsense as "The occupation of Iraq is a link in the Zionist-crusader chain of evil" and "There can be no dialogue with occupiers except through arms."

From the Harry's Place piece, they seem to think the Guardian didn't bother to read this thing they were publishing. So how do they explain the "This is an edited extract of a recording believed to have been made by the al-Qaida leader, transmitted by al-Jazeera and translated by the BBC Monitoring Service" bit?

It's a non-scandal. The Guardian published this as an example of the bullshit spouted by those kinds of people. Big deal.

8/11/2005 02:54:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Quick addition: I'd also be fairly happy to wager that they didn't pay the guy. The Aslam "scandal" I thought was an over-reaction, but at least he was actually employed by the buggers...

8/11/2005 02:55:00 pm  
Blogger sean said...

NM, I think you've missed the entire point of the Harry's Place piece.

To be fair, you did say you skimmed it, and you are probably a lot busier than me (I finished the memoirs!).

The thrust of the HP post is not the Osama article (the jihad one) but today's, by one Saad Faqih (sp?!).

It purports to be a sensible article about al Qaeda and Blair, saying Blair is playing into the hands of Osama BL. At the end the Gaurdian says the author is a Saudi dissident, seeking Muslim reform. And that's it.

What the piece does not mention is that the writer is suspected by the UN of being a serious supporter of al Qaeda, he is also listed by the US as an al Qaeda fundraiser, and his frigging mobile phone was used in the Nairobi bombings.

I think this is fairly relevant context, and stuff the Guardian should be telling their readers. The fact they haven't is extremely negligent, bordering on shite. And very very embarrassing for them.

Here's a thought game i played on HP.

Imagine that the Daily Telegraph had published an article about immigration by a writer who, it said, was 'working with asylum seekers'. Imagine that was the only credential they gave.

Then imagine what would happen if it was then revealed that the author of the piece was suspected of involvement in racist murders, was named by the UN as a member of the Nazi party, and was being investigated in the US for his work with the Ku Klux Klan.

I think the Guardian would be fairly upset about that, don't you? Just a tad angry? I think liberals would actually be up in arms demanding apologies or resignations from the Telegraph. and rightly so.


8/11/2005 03:03:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Ah - right you are - clicked the wrong link. (Congrats on finishing the memoirs, by the by...)

*quick skim*

Hmmm... Apart from the occasionally over the top rhetoric, can't see anything in the article itself to cause too much offence, it must be said.

And as for the allegations of links to AQ etc., yep, the dear Guardian possibly should have flagged them up. But from what I can gather the guy's never been convicted. The mobile phone thing was an allegation made by the prosecution, and seems not to have been verified, the rest is because he was involved with a website which carried AQ messages. So does Al Jazeera, but (although I know some do) I wouldn't call that a terrorist organisation.

Dunno - maybe they were hoping their readers could read between the lines. After all, if they stated that he had links to AQ they could probably have been successfully sued for libel, as there doesn't seem to be any categorical proof of ties.

I can understand why the usual suspects would be pissed off, but have to say I am not convinced it's a major problem. The article could have been written by anyone who disagrees with the current measures, and makes a fair few sensible points about possible AQ reactions to boot. The whole thing is basically praising the western system, so where's the issue?

8/11/2005 03:19:00 pm  
Blogger sean said...

Oh dear God.

NM, we are under fucking attack from these people. Dozens have died.

If the Guardian thinks it is still OK to publish pieces by sympathisers of al-Qaeda (very debatable anyway) I think the fucking least they can do is identify who these cunts are.

Otherwise we would never know that this guy might, just might, be being a little disingenuous.

Fer fuck's sake. what's wrong with the LEFT! Get jiggy with it! Open your eyes!

I shall have a lie down now.

8/11/2005 03:39:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Whether or not he's an AQ sympathiser is neither here nor there. Where in the article does he express or advocate such a view? Seriously, where? I only skimmed it, so I might have missed something, but I don't think so.

Or are you suggesting that we ban anyone we disagree with from being allowed to express their opinions in public, just in case? Maybe we should get an actor to dub over their voices in an Irish accent?

Sorry, still can't see the problem. As far as I can tell, the story here is simply that someone who is thought to have dodgy opinions on terrorism says something moderately sensible about terrorism. And so he should be banned from saying anything at all, because, erm...

8/11/2005 03:49:00 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Errr...has anyone got any evidence he ever did anything wrong? And, no, the Saudi government is NOT a source worth a fuck on this because they are over keen on dishing emigres they don't like.

Surely, if he was such an eeevil jihadi monster he would be writing, well, eeevil jihadi things?

8/11/2005 03:51:00 pm  
Blogger sean said...

No no no no no. *tears hair out and stares into space in amazement*

I can probably be persuaded, just about, that this man should be given space to spout his drivel. On the grounds of, sigh, 'balance'.

What I object to is the fact that the Guardian has not told us his real credentials, so we can properly judge what he is saying. If Josef Goebbels was penning sensible pieces about German-British relations, in the 30s, I'd jolly well like to know that he was Reichminister for Propaganda, so as to afford his opinions proper skepticism.

Does the Guardian not suspect that this guy might just possibly be pulling a fast one? FFS. If he is doing that, which I suspect, the poor bloody reader would have no idea - cause they don't know who he really is.

*throws cup against wall, then has another cafe creme to calm down*

8/11/2005 04:00:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...


1) there is no PROOF of his AQ connections, merely allegations - so the Goebbels comparison is somewhat flawed.

2) As there is no proof, for the Guardian to flag him up as an AQ sympathiser would have left them open to lawsuits.

3) If he's pulling a fast one, it must be so damn cunning that no one's actually been able to work out how yet, as no one has been able to highlight anything suspect in that article.

Demonstrate how this is pro-AQ propaganda, and I'll agree that it was reckless and dangerous to publish it. But I honestly can't see anything dodgy about it beyond a rather simplistic take on the subject.

8/11/2005 04:06:00 pm  
Blogger sean said...

I've gotta go write a piece for the Torygraph now, so I'll say goodbye for the moment.

In the meantime I think what the Guardian should have done, as someone on HP said, is say something like:

'Saad Faqih is close to al-Qaeda thinking, here's his opinion'. nothing libellous, just honest.

Then we could all have read his words as we wished, being properly informed.

But they didn't. So that makes them hugely irresponsible I think, in the present climate. And when you add in the Aslam case..

Either the Guardian has a terrible blind spot when it comes to Islamofascism, or.. well.... who knows.

8/11/2005 04:11:00 pm  
Anonymous soru said...

_ if he was such an eeevil jihadi monster he would be writing, well, eeevil jihadi things? _

err, no, he would be writing clever propaganda that you deserve to be given a warninmg about before reading.

How would you react it if it had been a piece purporting to be from an ordinary Iraqi saying his life was better since the invasion, but it turned out it was actually written by Ahmed Chalabi?


8/11/2005 04:12:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/11/2005 04:16:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Sean - even saying his opinion is similar to AQ's could be libellous. And who determines what is meant by "similar". In that AQ refer to God as Allah, all Muslims could be accused of having "similar" views. That'd be silly though.

Soru - But where's the propaganda? Really - where? Where's the devious doublespeak, the cunning use of logic to lead the reader into thinking in a particular way? It's one of the least subtle attacks on Blair's anti-terror measures I've seen, but at no point can I see anything more sinister behind it.

8/11/2005 04:17:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Anonymous - no personal stuff, ta. At least, not if you don't give some kind of name (even if it is just a stupid pseudonym like mine).

8/11/2005 04:18:00 pm  
Anonymous cham said...

[sorry, NM, i missed off my handle.]
it's just that i get really annoyed with all these comments that completely ignore (or intentionally divert) from the important issues. a good example is your piece on hiroshima which was, frankly, one of the most insightful pieces on the subject -- i would have relished the opportunity to debate and discuss some of the issues but the topic was completely subverted by nitpickers who refuse to deal with the salient points. same thing is happening here with this post and it's almost always sean at the helm... i've seen his blog -- why doesn't he stick round there, since it seems all he wants to do round here is grumble about pretty irrelevant things?

8/11/2005 04:25:00 pm  
Anonymous cham said...

[and unfortunately, loudest and most persistent voice usually wins]

8/11/2005 04:27:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Fair enough. I actually find a lot of Sean's stuff rather entertaining - may even have a flick through his memoirs when they come out. We're rarely going to agree on anything politically, and neither of us is going to convince the other of our opinions - especially not on the way to respond to terrorism by the looks of things - but I actually prefer the "Gah! Why can't you see what I'm talking about?" responses to the attempts to patronise that come from certain other quarters.

(Plus I'm vaguely hoping that at some point dear Sean will bunk me some of his contacts so I can try to blag myself some freelance work... Heh!)

8/11/2005 04:40:00 pm  
Anonymous cham said...

okay, so maybe i'm just nostalgic for the kind of argument/debate one has in person: where you actually try to *understand* what the other person is saying so that you can either make them see something differently or so that you can see something differently, rather than just trying to trip your "opponent" up with verbal gymnastics that really don't help anyone analyse a topic (or ever change opinion). that's why i dislike the "Gah! Why can't you see what I'm talking about?" tone of blogs, and perhaps that makes me old fashioned -- i much prefer the "Gah! Why can't I see what you're talking about?" mode.... [and i realise now that *i* too am diverging from the issues at hand]. but it's not that i'm looking for discussions where everyone already agrees -- far from it, my favourite discussions with my mates are where we're all at each other's throats because our opinions are so far apart -- the difference is that we have an intention to try to learn something rather than just score points and make other people agree with us.

[now, i'm verging on the sycophantic, but NM that is why i like your reasonableness -- it really seems you would like to understand issues when you write, it's not that you want to tell other people what they should believe]

8/11/2005 04:54:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

In other words: I'm great, everyone else is shit.

Finally - a world view I can live with!

The thing with all this terrorism lark is that I'm fully aware that I don't understand it and have no solutions to it. And nor does anyone else. So confrontation is largely rubbish, but does at least let you see how well thought through the various arguments are.

It's like that whole House of Lords thing yesterday - a lot of people (including some whose opinions I respect) seemed to be going "elect the Lords because democracy's great" without really asking themselves precisely WHY democracy's so great or why it's better than other systems. Certain things simply seem to be givens, and certain views seem so entrenched it's ridiculous.

Meanwhile, I've changed my opinions on various things before and rarely have a fixed opinion about anything (beyond a vague belief that killing people is wrong) so I'm always open to alternative views - even ones I've previously thought ridiculous.

I just want to be convinced, rather than lectured - which is why I normally avoid obsessive sites like Harry's, Biased BBC, EU Referendum etc. Dogmatism - be it religous, political or whatever - is rarely the most sensible way to making life as nice as possible for everyone, which I've always reckoned is the whole point.

8/11/2005 05:14:00 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Soru: As far as I can tell, no-one suggests he's an actual, direct terrorist. So the accusation must be that he is a propagandist for terrorism. So, you must mean he's such a subtle propagandist for terrorism he's stopped propagandising so as not to be rumbled - which is a bit like claiming a sheep in a field is actually a wolf so cunning he's gone veggie.

8/11/2005 06:05:00 pm  
Blogger Jarndyce said...

Wish I'd posted my thoughts over here instead of spending the afternoon getting abused by a couple of HP regulars (note, not David T, who I tend to like and - sorry guys - often agree with, though not this time). Ho hum. That'll teach me: brand loyalty, my boy.

8/11/2005 06:17:00 pm  
Blogger sean said...


Babe. Thanks for checking my blog. Nice one. However I fully intend to maintain my 'Gah!' attitude - which I am glad to see that NM finds entertaining! - coz it's just me. I like a good barney.

The reason I like posting here is precisely because NM also accepts a fair argument. And he's good to argue with partly coz he has such bizarrely variant opinions. Sometimes he hits the nail on the head, other times he goes way off beam (like the Holocaust thing, which I still haven't quite worked out). But it's nearly always lively.

I differ with NM on HP (the blog not the sauce). I think they are doing a sterling job upbraiding the Islamofascist fellowtravellers. And the commenters are often very funny and bright. Well, I comment there anyway.

The EU Referendum site i used to like, but NM made the point that it is too dogmatic - and when I went there again I saw that he was onto something.

Anyway. A long boring comment. Just taking time out from writing a searing personal think piece for the Torygraph.

(contact email: - he's on the Comment desk!)

8/11/2005 06:23:00 pm  
Blogger Jarndyce said...

The Torygraph - suitably impressed. I saw something of yours on Scotland a couple of months ago - is that right? Some walking travel piece? Enjoyed it a lot.

8/11/2005 06:29:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

J - I agree on David T. He normally seems pretty sane. Even - to an extent - on this thing today (though his three potential reasons for the Guardian publishing the piece needed a good couple more, I reckon). If they were all like that over there I'd knock around and engage a bit more. Not that they miss me, I imagine.

8/11/2005 06:51:00 pm  
Anonymous soru said...

Where's the devious doublespeak, the cunning use of logic to lead the reader into thinking in a particular way?

To quote from the article:
Blair's anti-terror measures are exactly what Bin Laden wants

When you know who the author is, it really starts to look like a classic 'briar patch' tactic:

"Drown me just as deep as you please, Brer Fox," says Brer Rabbit, says he, "But please do not fling me in that briar patch, " says he.
"There's no water near here," says Brer Fox, says he, "And now I reckon I'd better skin you," says he.
"Skin me Brer Fox," says he. "Snatch out my eyeballs, tear out my ears by the roots," says he, "But please, Brer Fox, don't fling me in that briar patch, " says he.
Of course, Brer Fox wanted to get Brer Rabbit as bad as he could, so he caught him by the behind legs and slung him right in the middle of the briar patch. There was a considerable flutter when Brer Rabbit struck the bushes, and Brer Fox hung around to see what was going to happen.
By and by he heard someone call his name and 'way up on the hill he saw Brer Rabbit sitting cross-legged on a chinquapin log combing the tar pitch out of his hair with a chip. Then Brer Fox knew he had been tricked.
Brer Rabbit hollered out, "Born and bred in the briar patch. I was born and bred in the briar patch!" And with that he skipped out just as lively as a cricket in the embers of a fire.

next week in the guardian: _England's batting tactics are exactly what Warne's wants_, by some random guy they don't happen to mention is a member of the australian touring party.

8/11/2005 07:33:00 pm  
Blogger sean said...

quite so, soru, quite so!

8/11/2005 07:38:00 pm  

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