The current political discourse in Britain is just nuts.
The level of hypocrisy and flippant political rhetoric thrown around on social media has reached fever pitch, truly. Not only among the masses, but among political pundits and politicians, journalists and activists etc - those we once upon a time relied upon to be subjective. Every day we're confronted with new confirmations that this country - and more generally, the world as a whole - is going down the toilet, yet most of seem to be obsessed with using these events to score points off their 'chosen adversary'. Regardless of how tenuous the link.
We've got natural disasters arguably linked to climate change ravaging millions of people, with some scientists saying by 2050, we're screwed. We have open physical abuse and violation of citizens in Spain. Britain about to dive face-first off an economic cliff, under an incalculably incompetent government. Towers of poor people bursting into flames, with no money to house them, but ample to bribe folks in Northern Ireland, fix a giant clock, and redecorate Buckingham Palace. Airlines closing, and businesses fleeing the country like rats from a sinking ship. Beyond Britain, though the Western media have mostly abandoned the subject, the migrant crisis continues in the Mediterranean - and has according to reports, intensified. Genocide in Yemen - a conflict in the Middle East that gets ignored due to lack of vested Western interest. Then the worst and most horrific mass shooting in in American history, under a US government now saying it's OK to murder gay people, nigh on the verge of going full-on 'Third Reich'. (But the American version... the 'best version, it's gonna be great.')
Yet somehow, bizarrely, a good portion of political debate in Britain seems to have swung back round to whether the Labour Party is antisemitic or not.
'The pressing issue of our time'.
The Labour Conference
The minute the subject was raised at the Labour Party conference, seemingly out of nowhere, some of us sighed and said 'uh-oh, here we go.' It was pretty inevitable. Now the momentum seems to be with Corbyn (that pun seems to be unavoidable, apologies), I wondered how long it would be before we were all 'Jew-bashing Holocaust deniers' once again. Not long, as it turns out.
Then an American-Israeli author named Miko Peled made a comment at the conference regarding free-speech, and where you should draw the line: in essence saying (I'm paraphrasing):
'Yes, you should be free to criticise everything from the Holocaust to the actions of Palestine, but Israel's testament as to how it treats Palestine is about as reliable as Nazis defending their actions, or supporters of apartheid in South Africa'.
That is a fairly brutal way of putting it, I grant. And liable to incite an emotional reaction; but perhaps that's the point? In truth, I cannot fault the sentiment. Peled didn't mention Holocaust denial, but that's somehow been made the focus. It's completely missing his intended point. Which is exactly yes, we should be free to discuss and debate ideas, however distasteful and uncomfortable - or even ludicrous, such as Holocaust denial - but not for the perpetrators of arguably heinous offences to legitimise their crimes. Their particular 'testament' is too biased.
That message has been obscured entirely.
But even if you disagree, or find even that position offensive, how are the comments of one party member representative of all? If that was the case, surely the odd balls of Conservative and UKIP should have sunk their parties long ago?
I just find it mind-boggling. The minute you say anything that dares grant even the slightest concession to the Palestinian side of the argument, even if you're Jewish yourself, you are instantly slurred an 'antisemite'. And it goes further. That same day of the conference, when I was perhaps stupidly sucked into political debate on Twitter, I ended up being slurred an antisemite simply for saying there are powerful Jewish elites in Washington, Wall Street and Hollywood. Which to me, honestly is just a given! Apparently, describing them as Jewish is what makes me 'a racist' though - a detail I'd refute til I'm blue in the face.
But these were not typical buffoons spouting such nonsense; these were political correspondents from The Irish Times and The Guardian, one of whose sentiments got retweeted by J.K bloody Rowling of all people! It was upsetting and ridiculous in equal measure. The fact that - like Miko Peled - I'm half Jewish myself, and am also ironically the son of an Austrian Jewish holocaust survivor? Or that anything and everything I've ever argued for is fairness and equality - to look at both sides of any argument? Well, apparently such details are neither here nor there in Britain's political discourse of today. 'You disagree with me? Or state a detail I find uncomfortable? That's prejudice.'
A Routine Witch Hunt
It's not a flash in the pan. This theme has been an undercurrent of discussions surrounding the Labour Party since Corbyn first became leader. The reason, simply put, is Corbyn's adamant criticism of Israel's aggression. He insists that both sides of the Israel/Palestine conflict have legitimate grievances, and he sticks to it. That's really the nub of it. Yet somehow that equates as anyone who supports Corbyn's Labour being an 'antisemite.'
It's a damnable witch hunt. I for one can certainly say I've never spoken to anyone on the left of politics who's 'antisemitic', or in fact prejudiced against anyone for their ethnicity or religion. That's kinda the point of being on the left! Written on the tin. Or being 'liberal' at any rate. True antisemitism? That's all the far-right's turf, and deep down everyone knows that.
Which leads me neatly to a post I saw this morning, concerning Jewish citizens harassed in the U.S. A Jewish bakery in Brooklyn received an openly racist and Nazi-supporting threat in the mail. Nasty stuff. The threat of fascism being legitimised in America is very, very real - again, anyone should be able to see that.
Yet bizarrely, the first and only comment on my friend's post about this horrific abuse in the U.S? Well... it was a pop at at the UK Labour Party:
Yep... when I see a Swastika, the very first thing I associate and think to talk about is Jeremy Corbyn and/or Labour. Honestly, how ridiculous. Right or wrong, I bit back at this silly person. I'm sick of hearing it to be frank, and such smears deserve to be held accountable. But I remained polite. The lady's response? Cries of implied 'abuse', labelling me a 'troll'. 'Here we go, another Corbynista'. Orders to 'cease and desist'. Somewhat pitiful appeals that flippant slurs are OK if you're a 'good person who opposes racism'. Or if unbelievably, you also happen to be 'a member of the Labour Party'. (Perhaps therein lies a big part of the problem.)
Then she tries to 'shame me' for detracting from the original issue of Jews being persecuted in Brooklyn - conveniently ignoring she was the one who detracted from it in the first place!
NO. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. If you're gonna post bullsh*t, have the guts to back it up. Provide some evidence, or at least a coherent justification - don't scarper like a coward, attempt to close down the discussion where YOU want to leave it, protesting that anyone who calls you out is 'abusive'. It's beyond pathetic.
Sadly, the person whose post it was joined in deeming me inappropriate for saying their friend was wrong. I'm apparently 'narrow-minded' for calling out someone who's being narrow-minded. I hear it and see it all the time in political discourse... you're a 'bully' if you attempt to push back against a bully. You're a 'racist' if you dare criticise a nation that suffers racism. You're 'prejudiced' if you call out prejudice. You're condemned as 'offensive' for using an expletive, by someone arguing for the real-life persecution of actual human beings. Where does it end? It's like anti-logic, and it's driving me potty.
A Fashionable Ruse
This fashionable ruse is now aped by politicians and journalists, who do exactly the same thing. It started with Angela Eagle, when she didn't like being contradicted and held accountable for her smears of 'antisemitism' and the alleged 'targeted hate campaign' within Labour, back in 2016.
That legacy is now we've got the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg, Daniel Hannan, Nigel Farage, Julia Hartley-Brewer, Boris Johnson, and countless other Tory toads frequently postulating that any who oppose their views are simply 'abusive'. As if the criticisms and hostility they face are somehow born of prejudice for them as individuals, rather than the noxious stuff coming out their own gobs.
My greatest fear however, is this 'abuse' is currently being primed as justification for the removal of free speech on the internet. Eg: the one and only thing that stands in the way of their propagated 'legends'.
Very much like the legend of 'Antisemitic Labour and the Socialist Grail'. Coming to a crap cinema near you.