Whilst most contributors to sites such as Harryâ€™s Place or MPACUK attempt to maintain at least a faÃ§ade of tolerance, a scan of the comments to the average article reveals reams of virulent and poorly understood dogma, much of it founded on ignorance, racism and religious intolerance.
It is a truth universally acknowledged by anyone who has spent time moderating blog comments that as well as being a brilliant place to share ideas and force the pace of social change, the blogosphere has a tendency to lure idiots, bigots and bullies from their hiding places. Such is the case in comments threads of both camps in this debate. Not content with hosting frothing wingnuts, however, Harryâ€™s Place has pursued what has been seen as a â€˜witch-huntâ€™ against any Muslim or Muslim-ally who does not fit the site editorsâ€™ strict definitions of â€˜moderationâ€™; to whit, near non-involvement in politics.
In other words: â€œsit down you silly little girl, this is grown folks businessâ€. Whilst I wouldnâ€™t care to speculate about the age of this particular author, the argument Marcus makes here is often used by people whoâ€™ve gotten too old to remember how seethingly furious they were when someone directed it at them. Well, they say we all turn into our parents one day.
As for the crass jibes about her background, these are the kinds of resentments & class jealousies which only nullify any argument youâ€™re trying to make: when you canâ€™t tell whether the writerâ€™s statements are born out of logic & rationality or some disdain for people from a different background, thereâ€™s really no incentive to accept them as valid or relevant. Really, itâ€™s little more than an exercise in self-defeat.
But itâ€™s posts like this which give HP the reputation for bullying and sectarianism which Laurie was decrying. The habit of singling individuals out and â€˜exposingâ€™ them as morally or intellectually deficient doesnâ€™t speak well of the site, particularly when the writers claim to be interested in some of the big international debates of our time.
In other words Marcus ironically fulfils the precise job-description that Laurie actually points at. Marcus clearly can’t do irony that well.
Speaking of witch-hunts, I can point most recently to the pathetic smear-attempt of Mehdi Hasan at the New Statesman, which failed so badly the only people who cite it without a hint of embarrassment are the traditional bunch of neo-con loons.
But on to the main point, which Marcus only half-heartedly tackles:
Like good anti-racists we donâ€™t care what colour these people are either. This stance used to be pretty non-controversial on the left.
But the same could go lefties who weren’t supposed to make excuses for states that: shower innocent people with White Phosphorous, do not allow investigation of war-crimes, demand censorship, attack humanitarian missions, keeps building illegal settlements that de-stabilise the entire region… etc etc.
Or perhaps we can all accept there are shades of grey here. Israel sometimes acts legitimately and sometimes illegally. Muslims groups sometimes make mistakes and sometimes there are loons, sometimes lefties make mistakes in allying with some Muslim groups but most of the time they only want to ensure anti-Islamism is not being used as a cover for racism.
Which is why it’s impossible to classify, for me, Harry’s Place as a leftie blog, because their primary enemy is the left. Most of the writers and commenters there have convinced themselves that the left is in bed with Islamists (and that Islamists are everywhere) to the point that attacking Muslims and lefties is now 90% of their content.
Last year they were even attacking the left for not speaking out about Sri Lanka enough, while doing exactly the same. Similarly, they keep attacking others for having an obsession about Israel, while at the same time running a blog that is obsessed by Muslims.
The attack on Laurie, not really addressing her points but attacking her for being some sort of a leftie they don’t like (oooh look at her, she went to Oxford! How dare she call herself an authentic leftie? It’s only salt-of-the-earth working class boys like us can do that!) is precisely why that blog no longer makes entertaining and useful reading that it once did. Sad really. But Marcus just reinforces the stereotype.
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