Hitchens on Amnesty (circa 2005)


by Sunny
23rd February, 2010 at 3:05 am    

… this is one long-running vendetta. This time he attacked “Amnesty International’s disgraceful performance” because it dared to oppose Guantanamo Bay then. They were soooo nasty to Alberto Gonzales. What has that guy ever done wrong?


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  1. pickles

    Blog post:: Hitchens on Amnesty (circa 2005) http://bit.ly/cmGqQP


  2. TenPercent

    RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: Hitchens on Amnesty (circa 2005) http://bit.ly/cmGqQP




  1. cjcjc — on 23rd February, 2010 at 10:37 am  

    Hitchens is right on at least one thing: comparing Gitmo to the Gulag is ludicrous.

    Anyway….is anyone going to the Ramadan / Murray debate tonight?

    http://british-council-iq2.eventbrite.com/

    Will I be able to understand a word that Ramadan says?!

  2. FlyingRodent — on 23rd February, 2010 at 10:41 am  

    That’s the column that would hang Hitchens’ reputation out to dry, in a sane world.

    A quick look at what he’s saying and how he says it is damning. First up, the detainees are more or less all definitely guilty to Hitch – they’re “foreign sadists taken in arms in Afghanistan”. How does he know they’re guilty? He doesn’t know it – he’s just pulling this out of his arse. At this point, the US authorities were denying a number of the detainees themselves the right to even hear the evidence against them; nobody, probably not even the prison officers, knew how many of them were innocent or guilty.

    As we now know though, lots of these people were innocent – the US released a large number of inmates after this column was published, including at least one child, a taxi driver and a cobbler, IIRC. “I think it is fairly safe to say that not one detainee in Guantanamo is there because of an expression of opinion,” he adds, accurately. A lot of them were there because they were grassed up for cash, or because of official blunders.

    Not that that bothers Hitch, who cites the axiom that “justice is more offended by one innocent person punished than by any number of guilty persons unapprehended. I say frankly that I am not certain of the applicability in the present case”. Translation – fuck ‘em, and fuck the rule of law.

    That’s before we get to the blatant lies. “Several detainees released from Guantanamo have reappeared in the Taliban ranks” is horseshit – when the column was written in 2005, there was no evidence to support this, beyond Dick Cheney’s bluster.

    “The man whose story of rough interrogation has just been published in Time planned to board a United Airlines flight and crash it into a skyscraper” is bollocks as well – we’re talking about Mohammed al-Qahtani here. The man’s a self-confessed follower of Bin Laden, but no evidence to support the allegation that he was the “20th 9/11 hijacker” has ever been produced. As far as I’m aware, he’s still in the black prisons after the attempt to prosecute him collapsed, probably because the “rough interrogation” – Hitchens’ sly little wriggle to avoid using the word “torture” – to which he was subjected rendered his forced confession inadmissible.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/may/14/usa.guantanamo

    And Hitchens’ attitude to torture, forced confessions and extrajudicial detention is beyond suspect here. He “want(s) to know who (al-Qahtani’s) friends and contacts were”, even though he knew full well how the interrogators go about securing names and “confessions”. “Alberto Gonzales was excoriated even for asking… about the applicability of Geneva rules,” Hitch says, even though he knew then that the US was not “asking about the applicability of Geneva” – it was working as hard as it could to redefine torture, as a means to legalising torture. He describes Guantanamo as a “holding pen” even though the Bushies were clear that Gitmo was here to stay. Notice too how he’s only talking about Guantanamo and not the wider black prison network, even though the term “ghost detainees” enters public use in early 2004.

    And as for “Is al Qaida itself a ticking bomb or not?”, well, there’s the dog whistle for ya – what should we do with prisoners if AQ is a “ticking bomb”?

    Hitchens is clearly defending and endorsing the use of torture, rendition and extrajudicial detention here. He’s a professional communicator, and an accomplished one at that. These messages didn’t accidentally fall into his Slate piece after a few whiskies – they’re there because this is what he wanted to say, which is a fair indicator that this is what he really believes.

    Hitchens’ piece on Gita Sahgal should’ve been entitled “I Have Concerns About How Amnesty Protests a Prison And Torture System That I Fully Endorse” and this column should be shoved down his neck any time he opens his mouth about the War on Terror.

  3. Solomon Hughes — on 23rd February, 2010 at 10:47 am  

    good point Sunny. If you really want to go into to detail of Christopher Hitchen’s article, you might also want to note:-
    (1) Hitchen’s 2005 article having a go at Amnesty is based around a positive review of the Iraqi TV show “Terror in the grip of justice”. This was a production of the “Wolf Brigade” of the Iraqi police. “Insurgents” confessed to their crimes graphically on the TV show. While many were no doubt real terrorists, it is likely some were innocent. This was not any kind of “judicial” procedure – the “confessors” had often obviously been beaten, the “confessions” were unconvincing, and at least one “confessor” was later returned to his family, dead, without explanation.

    See for example

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A26402-2005Apr4.html

    Hitchen’s also asserted “I think it is fairly safe to say that not one detainee in Guantanamo is there because of an expression of opinion”. In fact, two brothers, Badr Zaman Badr and Abdurrahim Muslim Dost
    , were held in Guantanamo for four years because they published a satirical magazine that made fun of an Afghan warlord – Badr and Dost were particular admirers of Swift . In fairness to Hitchen’s, they were finally released – after a certain amount of brutality – in April 2005, a couple of months before Hitchen’s article. Amnesty did, of course, support the satirical brothers.

    for more on the satirical brothers, see

    http://humanrights.ucdavis.edu/projects/the-guantanamo-testimonials-project/testimonies/prisoner-testimonies/writers-jailed-in-2002-for-political-satire

  4. FlyingRodent — on 23rd February, 2010 at 10:50 am  

    And while I’m on a roll, let’s not kid ourselves that Hitchens is too dim to grasp what Amnesty were on about when they used the word “Gulag”. They didn’t mean that the US were murdering thousands in work camps – they meant the detention of thousands of inmates, identified and unidentified, beyond the reach of the press, the courts and international observers; they were talking about a system where merely being detained was taken as evidence of guilt, and how coerced self-incrimination was used to justify the existence of the prisons themselves.

    Like I say, Hitchens is a smart, smart geezer – he knows full well what they’re talking about, and is pretending he doesn’t understand, just like he’s pretending not to understand that Gita Sahgal was not suspended “for making an uncontroversial statement”. It seems to me that this tactic of pretending not to understand things which you do, in fact, understand perfectly well has become commonplace in the last decade, especially for those like Hitch who are in the habit of making mealy-mouthed apologies for things that are really indefensible.

  5. Brownie — on 23rd February, 2010 at 11:10 am  

    including at least one child, a taxi driver and a cobbler, IIRC.

    There’s at least two perfect candidates there for a NGO-sponsored tour of Europe highlighting the injustice of the “black prison network”. No political baggage, no dodgy past asssociations. Just two geezers unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Or there’s Begg.

  6. MiriamBinder — on 23rd February, 2010 at 11:15 am  

    I am going to the debate cjcj … have just sorted out the congestion charging ;)

  7. Chris Williams — on 23rd February, 2010 at 11:52 am  

    Yes, why can’t that 20something Afghan guy be found, paid to come to Europe, and sent round on the lecture tour? I’m sure, sure as only a complete absence of evidence of any kind can make me, that he’d like that and it would do him good.

    But Amnesty, where are they in this? If AI _really_ cared about human rights, that’s what they’d do!

    Hey Brownie – why don’t _you_ do that? What’s to stop you? Get together all the decents who, having torn up their standing orders to AI in disgust, can be assumed to have £28 pa more than they used to, use Pledgebank to set up an org called “Human rights for 100% nice people and for enemies of bad countries”, and _find that guy_? You can talk the talk, so why not walk the walk?

  8. Brownie — on 23rd February, 2010 at 12:03 pm  

    Hello Chris.

    Sunny, here’s an AI press relese from 2007. The title is:

    Leading human rights groups name 39 CIA ‘disappeared’ detainees

    Who are these leading HRGs who have collaborated on this briefing paper? Why, it’s:

    Amnesty International, Cageprisoners, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law, Human Rights Watch, and Reprieve

    So AI endorses CP as a “leading human rights group” and partners with them on briefing papers. Which means you have about 600 miles of backtracking to undertake.

    It’s hardly surprising that AI would be partnering with Begg if back in 2007 they were touting CP as a leading HRG.

    Now, what sort of taste did you say CP leave in your mouth?

  9. soru — on 23rd February, 2010 at 12:03 pm  

    Hang on a sec, are Christopher Hitchens and Nick Cohen the same person then? Perhaps they are both pseudonames of Gita Sahgal?

    Has Hitchens even written anything on the current topic? If not, why is this supposed to be relevant?

    Or does the Cheney principle apply: if some bad people once made false claims against an organisation/country, then that serves to prove forever it is in the right. Details don’t matter: either you are with us or against us, only some kind of dangerous Communist traitor/neoliberal lackey would ask questions.

  10. Chris Williams — on 23rd February, 2010 at 12:07 pm  

    Pledgebank, Brownie. Half-arsed “human rights organisations” that only go after people you don’t like don’t just happen, you know – they have to be built up. Perhaps you could start off with a one-page advert in the Observer? You might be a just bit late for that, though.

  11. cjcjc — on 23rd February, 2010 at 12:09 pm  

    Oh dear.
    Whatever CP may be, it is not a “leading HRG” is it?!

  12. Sunny — on 23rd February, 2010 at 12:17 pm  

    Now, what sort of taste did you say CP leave in your mouth?

    You forgot this thread was about your ideological ally Chris Hitchens..

    You havent’ said much about that really, have you?

    But that’s ok – let him condemn Amnesty for railing against Gitmo!

  13. Brownie — on 23rd February, 2010 at 12:19 pm  

    Whatever CP may be, it is not a “leading HRG” is it?!

    We’ll have to see what Sunny has to say after he’s got that “nasty taste” out of his mouth.

    Chris, I think you’re mistkaing my preference to completely ignore anything you have to say for an inability to make yourself heard. Please be assured, it’s most definitely the former.

  14. Brownie — on 23rd February, 2010 at 12:22 pm  

    You forgot this thread was about your ideological ally Chris Hitchens.

    Okay. Personally, I don’t care much for this particular article. I think he’s written far better.

    Shall I post the comment about CP, that “leading HRG”, in the thread below so you can pick it up/ignore it completely there?

  15. Chris Williams — on 23rd February, 2010 at 12:28 pm  

    But I’m your biggest fan, Brownie – I have seized on your retrospective demand that AI find someone, anyone else who was in Gitmo, and stick them behind a microphone in preference to the guy who was there and is prepared to talk about it. As a favour, I’m sketching out the suprisingly easy steps that you and your comrades can take to make this one happen. I have every faith that you’ll give it the good ol’ Decent try.

  16. FlyingRodent — on 23rd February, 2010 at 12:43 pm  

    Sorry Chris – the Decents may be in full-on Get Amnesty mode, but when it comes to setting up a replacement HR org, it’s always going to be somebody else doing the heavy lifting.

    Hate to repeat myself, but here’s what professorial numbnuts Tom Gallacher had to say about it at Harry’s Place recently…

    ..lets hope that the initiative for setting up a successor to Amnesty might emanate from worldly and progressive Iranians who are clearly committed to defending a universal set of civil, legal and political principles which Amnesty has so obviously lost sight of. If that happens, then I don’t think they will be extending the red carpet to Noam Chomsky.

    http://bit.ly/dr4tJP

    For those who can’t read good, let’s reconstruct a more honest version of the “successor to Amnesty”, “progressive Iranians” and “Chomsky” proposition…

    “…Let’s destroy Amnesty, then keep our fingers crossed that somebody else will magic up a deus ex machina human rights org that is more to our liking, in the vague hope that it might say nasty things about Noam Chomsky”.

    I can see several flaws with this plan already.

  17. Arif — on 23rd February, 2010 at 12:45 pm  

    Soru #9 – Yes, Christopher Hitchens has also written about this issue in the National Post.

    cjcjc #11 – I think it is very fair to say Cageprisoners in a human rights group – see their aims and objectives: http://www.cageprisoners.com/page.php?id=2

    You may not see them as a “leading” group – it is a subjective judgment. In the context of the hidden prisons network and Guantanamo Bay, at least, I would consider them a leading human right group.

    I think the broader point you are making, though, is whether this terminology legitimises a group with a different understanding of human rights from AI, and whether therefore AI should not make this statement. I’m still not certain about this – until a consistent process is defined for handling vetting of organisations, there appears to be only accusations and lobbying.

    I do think that the broad point cuts both ways, however. It is more clear to me that using the term “leading human rights groups” to describe the groups who have contributed to a report is aimed at legitimising the report rather than the contributors. For me, this would be AI doing its job in presenting an important report.

    If it also becomes AI’s job to undertake detailed vetting of co-contributors, then so be it, but not in a manner which is dictated by opponents of human rights!

  18. Brownie — on 23rd February, 2010 at 12:54 pm  

    the Decents may be in full-on Get Amnesty mode

    And you a bit earlier:

    It seems to me that this tactic of pretending not to understand things which you do, in fact, understand perfectly well has become commonplace in the last decade

    That noise you can hear is the last pane in your glasshouse crashing to the floor.

    but when it comes to setting up a replacement HR org, it’s always going to be somebody else doing the heavy lifting.

    Shall I take lectures on what constitutes a worthwhile enterprise from someone who spends their time running a *watch site* (no less!) on a not very controversial journalist?

    I think not.

  19. Chris Williams — on 23rd February, 2010 at 12:59 pm  

    Don’t waste time with lessons from the Rodent, Brownie. I’m sure that you don’t read Decentpedia in any case, such is the importance of your role. Would you like any practical help with getting in touch with any Gitmo survivors? Aside from Begg of course.

    By the way, this is a bit of a downer, but there’s a slight chance that some of these squeaky-clean ex-inmates might have heard that Hitchens and his mates were fine about their kidnapping, imprisonment and mistreatment. There’s a tad of a chance that they might not trust Decent Rights! to represent them, unless you (say) condemn Hitchens utterly for condoning all this malarkey. But that shouldn’t be a problem for you, should it?

  20. Brownie — on 23rd February, 2010 at 1:05 pm  

    I’m still not certain about this – until a consistent process is defined for handling vetting of organisations, there appears to be only accusations and lobbying.

    With respect, such a process very much does exist within AI. This is the point. It is inconceivable that AI would collaborate with an organisation on a joint paper and PR exercise and not have done their homework. At least, it ought to be.

    It is more clear to me that using the term “leading human rights groups” to describe the groups who have contributed to a report is aimed at legitimising the report rather than the contributors. For me, this would be AI doing its job in presenting an important report.

    Do you really believe this? That the legitimacy of the report is divisible from the those who wrote it? Here’s an idea: ensure your co-contributors are legit HRGs in the first place and then you don’t need to waste your time trying to legitimise the report you wind up producing. It just kinda flows.

    If it also becomes AI’s job to undertake detailed vetting of co-contributors, then so be it

    This implies that it is not currently AI’s job to find out what and who are the people they are planning to collaborate with. Maybe this is why people like Sahgal are in despair: because AI thinks it doesn’t/shouldn’t have to bother finding out if a prospective and actual partner is pushing a pro-Jihadi agenda, for example?

    but not in a manner which is dictated by opponents of human rights!

    Like Sahgal, you mean? Go on, say it.

    You guys, really.

  21. Sunny — on 23rd February, 2010 at 1:08 pm  

    Okay. Personally, I don’t care much for this particular article. I think he’s written far better.

    Mmmm…. no no. Let’s go over this again. The guy is condemning Amnesty for opposing Gitmo and basically saying these people are guilty without even being tried.

    Don’t you find that an affront to human rights?

    Why should we take him seriously on the issue? Don’t duck the thread’s point please.

  22. FlyingRodent — on 23rd February, 2010 at 1:15 pm  

    @Brownie: (On the idea the Decents want to Get Amnesty) That noise you can hear is the last pane in your glasshouse crashing to the floor.

    Well, it’s your mates’ website that’s running fantasies about “successors” for Amnesty magically arising from somebody else’s hard work in the east, but don’t let that put you off.

  23. Morrigan — on 23rd February, 2010 at 1:16 pm  

    Brownie,

    Who are these leading HRGs who have collaborated on this briefing paper? Why, it’s:

    Amnesty International, Cageprisoners, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law, Human Rights Watch, and Reprieve

    Well done that man!

    So Sunny, you still don’t think that Amnesty has partnered with CagePrisoners???

  24. Sunny — on 23rd February, 2010 at 1:20 pm  

    Oh I absolutely love the obfuscation going on here. Hitchens – the great defender of human rights pointing fingers!

  25. Arif — on 23rd February, 2010 at 1:20 pm  

    Brownie – as I said – the issue of legitimation cuts several ways. So no, I am not saying that legitimation is a one way street, I am saying the opposite.

    In terms of ensuring your co-contributors are “legit HRGs”, you fail to explain how this should be done in a manner which would satisfy you. You claim that there is already a process for doing this, so far no-one has explained what this is.

    There is a process for identifying “prisoners of conscience” and for endorsing groups as “human rights defenders”, but Cageprisoners was not endorsed in this way by Amnesty. As far as I can tell they shared platforms to highlight particular human rights issues, and shared information for reports. Are you arguing that AI should only work in this way with organisations who meet the criteria of “human rights defenders”? If so, fair enough, say so.

    And obviously I do not see Sahgal as an opponent of human rights. I think she is a very powerful advocate for human rights. There is no reason that advocates for human rights shouldn’t disagree with one another. I am thinking of people who argue for the suspension of human rights either in the war on terror or in “jihad”s – I am trying to draw attention to the role of lobbying, and that legitimacy, in this case, should also be earned.

  26. Chris Williams — on 23rd February, 2010 at 1:21 pm  

    Brownie:

    ” opponents of human rights!

    Like Sahgal, you mean? Go on, say it.”

    Don’t let your proper sense of modesty prevent you from taking credit where credit’s due, Brownie. I think he means you. Little old you! Who’d have thought it, eh, that you could have come so far?

    By the way, there are some good standby deals out there for Kabul – but I think that I need to warn you that before Decent Rights! starts cruising round Helmand looking for the Gitmo graduates, you might need to distance yourself from Hitchens just a tiny amount.

  27. Morrigan — on 23rd February, 2010 at 1:29 pm  

    By the way, there are some good standby deals out there for Kabul – but I think that I need to warn you that before Decent Rights! starts cruising round Helmand looking for the Gitmo graduates, you might need to distance yourself from Hitchens just a tiny amount.

    Can I just say (as a non blog-geek) that all these little snyde shorthands like ‘Decents’ and ‘waambulance’ and ‘concern troll’ that sort of thing make the users sound like tragic blog-geeks.

  28. Chris Williams — on 23rd February, 2010 at 1:34 pm  

    Hey, sorry Morrigan. Here’s the definition:

    ‘Decent’ is a term of abuse, directed by people who would consider themselves on the liberal-left part of the political spectrum, against those who, while often claiming to be on the political left, operate as part of the right. Their chief though not sole distinguishing mark is support for US/UK wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The ‘Euston Manifesto’ is a useful summary of their declared position, and the blog ‘Harry’s Place’ is a fine exponent of the way that they actually think. This definition – like so many polemical definitions – is provisional and subject to endless tedious debates on Aaronvitch Watch, which frankly I can’t recommend.

    HTH. Next week’s 90-second defintion will be ‘antinomian’.

  29. Morrigan — on 23rd February, 2010 at 1:42 pm  

    Thanks CW,

    So just to be clear, ‘Decent’ is a term of abuse that Sunny permits on his bolgs. Because he likes to use it too.

    Other terms of abuse fare less well…

  30. Chris Williams — on 23rd February, 2010 at 1:47 pm  

    Pretty much any collective noun for a group of political ideas is a ‘term of abuse’ for some people. Any political debate is therefore going to see some of these ‘terms of abuse’ deployed.

    Perhaps (and stop me if I sound too radical here) those who overtly condone kidnap, torture and murder by the state deserve a bit of abuse?

  31. Morrigan — on 23rd February, 2010 at 1:50 pm  

    Perhaps (and stop me if I sound too radical here) those who overtly condone kidnap, torture and murder by the state deserve a bit of abuse?

    Fine, but then perhaps those who overtly condone the miseries of Sharia Law and Salafi Islam do too?

  32. cjcjc — on 23rd February, 2010 at 1:53 pm  

    So given Sunny’s support for the Afghan war, does that make him “half decent”? ;-)

  33. Chris Williams — on 23rd February, 2010 at 2:00 pm  

    Morrigan – indeed they do. Abuse them wholeheartedly, I say. Struggle against the buggers. Give money to SBS and the WCPI. But don’t put them in prison if they’ve committed no crime, and don’t try to pretend that they haven’t got rights.

    cjcjc ‘sright, in more ways than one. You probably didn’t notice (several hundred posts up) me pointing out to Hero Of Human Rights Brownie that my politics and Sunny’s were not the same. But I can cope with that, given that he’s one of the good guys, most of the time.

  34. cjcjc — on 23rd February, 2010 at 2:02 pm  

    But don’t put them in prison if they’ve committed no crime, and don’t try to pretend that they haven’t got rights.

    Indeed not.

    But don’t describe them (CP) as a “leading human rights group” either.

  35. Chris Williams — on 23rd February, 2010 at 2:05 pm  

    cjcjc – click on the link above, then take the test. Be the Decent Ref. I’m ‘mostly as’. Sunny is, I think, ‘mostly bs’. But Brownie is ‘mostly cs’. That’s why me and Sunny are goodies, and Brownie is a baddy. See how easy it is? Now, which one are you?

  36. Brownie — on 23rd February, 2010 at 2:18 pm  

    Chris, your desperation for my attention is touching, if a little toe-curling, but there’s an old truism that talks about rope, and giving someone enough of it, and what the end result will be.

    Anyway, you’re clearly prepubescent so I’d prefer to avoid all conversation with you henceforth lest I be accused of ‘grooming’, or such like. Hope you understand?

    The guy is condemning Amnesty for opposing Gitmo and basically saying these people are guilty without even being tried.

    No, he’s saying some are, and some will be given where they were apprehended and what they were doing when they were apprehended. But they should have been granted PoW status as that’s what they were, effectively. Of corse, this would have meant no access to lawyers as PoWs don’t get legal representation, they just get repatriated at the end of hostitlities. Which is where the Geneva Conventions fit in and which raises the issue of the need to redraft them to accommodate non-inter-state warfare and how to handle combatants picked up on the field who cannot be repatriated because their home states don’t want them/will torture them.

    In short, I have some smypathy for the US in that there is no functional model for how such actors are to be held and processed, but none for the fact that they chose the worst possible option of Gitmo. This explains why every HP author is opposed to the existence of Gitmo. But you knew that already.

    So, I cannot and do not share Hitchens commentary on Gitmo, albeit it stops a long way short of the unqualified support for Gitmo you claim he has penned.

    Is this enough for you yet?

    You still haven’t told me the appropriate thread to pick up the fact that AI and CP have been partners, that the former regards the latter as a “leading human rights organisation”, and how this changes the taste in your mouth?

  37. Chris Williams — on 23rd February, 2010 at 2:26 pm  

    You still here, Brownie? Not at the airport? Come on, man, I know it’s fun (though, I have to say, ever so slightly harmful to one’s cred) to run back into the room, shout “I’m still not listening to you!” then run back out. It reminds me of someone, but I’m not sure who. It can’t be any of my children – they’re too old for that sort of thing. Perhaps a neice.

    But enough of this musing. It’s not closing any of the gulags you hate, is it? I’m sure your facebook mates will be good for your initial stake. Good luck in Helmand!

  38. dave bones — on 23rd February, 2010 at 2:40 pm  
  39. Morrigan — on 23rd February, 2010 at 2:42 pm  

    CW

    Morrigan – indeed [Salafi Islamists] do [deserve abuse]. Abuse them wholeheartedly, I say. Struggle against the buggers. Give money to SBS and the WCPI. But don’t put them in prison if they’ve committed no crime, and don’t try to pretend that they haven’t got rights.

    It bears repeating- for the umpteenth time on Sunny’s many threads- that nobody is suggesting detention without trial is a good thing.

    I’m certainly not claiming that, and I’m glad Begg was released, but don’t partner with the guy. Amnesty couldn’t work in a world under Shariah.

    Begg:Amnesty :: Scorpion:Frog

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Scorpion_and_the_Frog

  40. Brownie — on 23rd February, 2010 at 2:44 pm  

    Having no talent for comedy is nothing to be ashamed of. Lots of people carry this burden. Jim Davidson, for example. What is, however, unforgivable, is the insistence that your half-arsed atempts at humour are ritually shoved down the throats of commenters trying to have a discussion.

    Seriously, Chris, you’re approximately one-quarter as funny as you think you are. Give it up, man. Those grown-up children of yours are embarrassed for you.

  41. Chris Williams — on 23rd February, 2010 at 2:49 pm  

    But Morrigan, that’s what Hitchens, to name but one, was suggesting. And the HP bed-wetting over the Saghal case is precisely about whether or not some people’s rights are worth than others. Brownie’s “Hunt the cobblers” post at the start of this thread nicely summed this attitude up.

    I hope that the Rodent doesn’t want royalties, because I’m going to quote him here:

    “Amnesty’s latest work on the Taliban is available here and is, admittedly, somewhat short on kisses and hugs and long on documenting human rights violations. Mind, you’ll notice they Condemn the Taliban, but the question is, do they Denounce them? Do they Castigate and Excoriate them?”

  42. Chris Williams — on 23rd February, 2010 at 2:50 pm  

    Brownie, for a man who’s been so adamant that he’s not paying me any attention, you haven’t half been paying me a lot of attention. Why might that be?

    Visa not come through yet?

  43. Morrigan — on 23rd February, 2010 at 2:57 pm  

    Hitchens is just a bit of whataboutery Sunny has introduced to keep flogging this issue.

    HP have taken a stand on Gita Sahgal’s side, as have I. It’s not about denial of human rights, it’s about who Amnesty should be working with.

    Bringing HP and Euston MAanifestos etc. into this is a dead giveaway to what all these threads are really about. Not everything goes back to Palestine and the Jews, some issues are worth fighting for on their own merits.

  44. Sunny — on 23rd February, 2010 at 2:59 pm  

    Oh dear – thanks for flagging that up Dave.

    Just shows how hypocritical most of the critics of Amnesty are.

  45. Chris Williams — on 23rd February, 2010 at 3:09 pm  

    Morrigan “Not everything goes back to Palestine and the Jews,”

    er, I couldn’t agree more – I avoid the middle-east online ding-dong like the plague, me. That’s why I didn’t mention them. Nor did anyone else until you, just now. Why? I’m genuinely bemused, although I will concede that my pose of faux-bemusement that I’ve adopted today is about to bite me in arse by making it a lot less likely that I will get a straight answer from you.

    The problem with your bland statement in favour of human rights in the abstract, though, is that it’s remarkably difficult for an organsation like AI to stay on target. There’s always some bunch of people wanting to point them in a certain direction, or to stop them pointing in a certain direction. Some of these people have a reasonable point, even if some of them sometimes can express themselves in ways that are perhaps in retrospect unwise. Others of these people are essentially devoted to removing the spotlight from certain categories of rights abuse by certain governemtnts, and they are very keen to leap on any disagreement within the organisation and use whatever they can find to discredit it in toto. Everyone loves a human rights organisation that exposes their enemies, after all – the ideal for the baddies is one that’s too scared to make a big fuss (like, you know, a speaking tour) about the taboo abuses, or better yet has been cowed into crippling inactivity by a vituperative hate campaign holding up higher and higher hoops for it to jump through.

    I admit that while I’ve had fun kicking Brownie around for his batshit crazy “Where are the cobblers?” accusation, Arif’s been making rather more sense than me upthread, and I commend his comments to you.

  46. Morrigan — on 23rd February, 2010 at 3:13 pm  

    That’s why I didn’t mention them. Nor did anyone else until you, just now. Why?

    Bringing up HP and the Euston Manifesto suggests to me that this argument is more about the views of Jewish people than about Amnesty. And don’t pretend you don’t know why.

  47. Chris Williams — on 23rd February, 2010 at 3:18 pm  

    You asked for a definition. I gave you a definition. I’m afraid that you’re going to have to tell me what I’m guilty of before there’s the remotest chance that I’ll confess.

    Right now, you’re the guy wildly shouting on a bus about someone stealing his Special Brew. Make a bit more sense, please.

  48. Morrigan — on 23rd February, 2010 at 4:57 pm  

    This whole debate is only about the suitability of Begg as a partner for Amnesty.

    It is not about Harry’s Place or the Euston Manifesto, unless anyone is seeking to hang wider issues on this one particular debate.

    Bringing HP and the EM into it suggests that someone wants to air their wider beef about Jews, Palestine and the Middle East. That is what I’m accusing you of.

  49. Chris Williams — on 23rd February, 2010 at 5:30 pm  

    Well, rest assured that I have no wider beef. You might just about be able to remember this moment, when you wrote:

    “Can I just say (as a non blog-geek) that all these little snyde shorthands like ‘Decents’ and ‘waambulance’ and ‘concern troll’ that sort of thing make the users sound like tragic blog-geeks.”

    And I replied in a lovely polite way with a definition of ‘Decent’. This did specifically mention the US, the UK, Iraq and Afghanistan, but – as you may have noticed, assuming that you read it – it didn’t mention anywhere else.

    Perhaps you need to turn the gain down on your anti-Semitism detector? Alternatively, please can point me to the bit of the Euston Manifesto which says “And anyone who disagrees with any of this is an anti-Semite, so there.”, so I can laugh at it. Ta.

    But you’ve clambered through your hoop (though I doubt anyone will be impressed with what you landed in), so I will leap through mine:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jan/14/racism-labour

    Hanley, money quote: “The fact is that, for most families, racism has died out now that generations of people from different ethnic groups have grown up together. Many of us who once had bigoted relatives with a terror of miscegenation now have black and mixed-race family members. The minds of a majority have opened over time.”

    which rather neatly ‘challenges his view.’

    Next!

  50. Morrigan — on 23rd February, 2010 at 5:44 pm  

    Have the courtesy to put it on the right thread at least- I did!

  51. Shatterface — on 23rd February, 2010 at 6:09 pm  

    So now Hitchens is the story, not Rushdie, not Cohen. Hitchens. I’ve obviously got to keep up.

  52. Soso — on 23rd February, 2010 at 6:58 pm  

    Look, torture is wrong and should be denounced, but nonetheless Amnesty has no business parading about with a man whose politics ( and there’s plenty of video and literature proving this) negate the very concepts of equality and rights. It’s like parading Nick Griffin in the service of ‘human rights’

  53. Niels Christensen — on 23rd February, 2010 at 9:14 pm  

    If you think about it, whats the fuss about. AI has grown from being an organization with a rather narrow concept to a multinational corporation which deals all sorts of political issues.
    The cooperation with Cage prisoners is just one way AI seeks to diversify
    it’s activities and is a another try to gain street credibility from groups that would be critical of AI or not supportive of the organization.
    The campaign to combine poverty and human rights is another example. When AI criticizes ‘poverty’ politics in Denmark, to name an example, then a lot of people is asking themselves whats going on.
    AI is moving into more disputed areas, and a consequence has been that the organization has got itself more vulnerable. AI used to be on the ‘right’ side, and isn’t used to be criticized, but if they continue to diversify their activities and their partners, they have to get used to it.

  54. KB Player — on 23rd February, 2010 at 9:31 pm  

    I’ll repeat what I said on another blog:-

    Sunny is flailing about on PP like he’s caught in a midge swarm. He doesn’t want to say outright that Sahgal is a liar, or a neocon dupe, or a bad human rights activist because she has huge credentials including being Asian, so he can’t even do his normal “this whole thing is anti-brown” shtick. In fact, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t believe those things of Sahgal but his arguments are leading him to that point. So he tries to do a bit of distraction like waving the Hitchens flag or the Cohen flag or the Rushdie flag – the kind of smearing by association for which he is always lambasting HP. His quoting some dipstick comment that Rushdie came out for Polanski and is therefore totally discredited when it comes to speaking about the Sahgal affair is a particularly desperate move.

  55. Chris Williams — on 23rd February, 2010 at 11:43 pm  

    Unlike, say, Brownie castigating AI for not getting hold of squeaky-clean and not at all screwed-up ex Gitmo inmates to go on their speaking tour instead of Begg.

    Secret prisons. Torture. Murder. Sunny’s credibility.
    Spot the important topic(s) above.

  56. dave bones — on 23rd February, 2010 at 11:44 pm  

    Everyone is so quick to take sides on this issue.

  57. Sunny — on 24th February, 2010 at 2:07 am  

    Playing the race card again KB Player? I expected better from you.

    The point I’m trying to make is blindingly clear.

  58. Lunium — on 24th February, 2010 at 2:05 pm  

    “The point I’m trying to make is blindingly clear.”

    But that’s according to you, Sunny. You have not even replied clearly to a simple question I asked in the ‘Rushdie’ thread. (Check out the last comment still standing there). To me, you seem to be a master of obfuscation, at best.

    Bye.

  59. FlyingRodent — on 24th February, 2010 at 6:39 pm  

    Not sure why this is controversial – after all, there’s a legitimate question over the PM’s temper, but nobody would deny coverage of his “bullying” tendencies has been a right wing circlejerk by the politically motivated.

    So it is with Amnesty – there’s a genuine issue here, but it’s only fair to point out that all the running is being made by liars, cranks and bullshitters with a history of attacking human rights orgs for political gain. By all means question Amnesty, but if you’ve got a history of beating up NGOs for complaining about western black prisons and insane bombing campaigns, don’t expect any charity. Fair enough, no?

  60. Brownie — on 25th February, 2010 at 12:17 am  

    there’s a genuine issue here, but it’s only fair to point out that all the running is being made by liars, cranks and bullshitters with a history of attacking human rights orgs for political gain.

    The only reason we’re having this conversation is due to the original running made by Gita Sahgal. Where’s your evidence she is liar, crank or bullshitter?

    What you meant to say was that there is a genuine issue here, but you’ll be buggered if you’re going to give it any attention whilst there’s an opportunity to rail against ‘decents’.

    What a monumental waste of your talent.

  61. douglas clark — on 25th February, 2010 at 12:32 am  

    Brownie @ 60,

    No.

    The only reason we are having this conversation is because the Euston leeches have attached themselves to her campaign.

    That is why we are having this discussion. Let me be quite clear about this. I think there is an issue, but I suspect your motives big style.

    You have, frankly, shown no interest in either Moazzam Begg nor Amnesty International. You cannot lay a decent punch on him, nor do I believe you give a monkeys about Amnesty International.

    That is why we are having this ‘conversation’. It is because smear and innuendo are the only methods ‘decents’ use, especially when they have zero evidence to present. And you are well known for it. Blasted ambulances as a decoy? Pull the other one.

    You have been invited by Sunny and others to come up with some evidence here. You know you are short of a case but you still come back with ‘no smoke without fire’ bullshit.

    What a monumental waste of your talent….

  62. FlyingRodent — on 25th February, 2010 at 1:04 am  

    @ Brownie: I’ve deliberately made a point of not offering any opinion on Gita Sahgal, beyond her decision to go to the Murdoch press.

    …Whilst there’s an opportunity to rail against “decents”.

    I have no talents I’m aware of. You can read this, though, if you like – that’s my opinion on this…

    http://bit.ly/9ojyf4

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