Richard Bartholomew, an excellent blogger who chronicles religious extremism, has been smeared by his enemies after his extensive exposing of vicious attacks on child ‘witches’ in Nigeria by Christian extremists:
A couple of weeks ago, several hit-and-run one-post smear blogs were created to – once again – spread the idea that I’m a far-leftist who collaborates with Islamic extremists while hating religion.
The author of these blogs wants to give the impression that he is associated with a neo-Pentecostal church in Nigeria; I have criticised this church for spreading the idea that children can be witches, and as a result the church has created a website attacking me (along with some other people) in crude and abusive terms – this includes the claim that I am a rapist . The new author has also created a Twitter feed linking both to the church’s website and to the new attack blogs, and he has generated a fake Facebook profile with a Nigerian name, which he has used to advertise the Twitter feed on the church’s Facebook page.
The insults and smears were lifted from his domestic enemies, who have long been after him and another blogger, Tim Ireland, for the crime of exposing their thuggery and bigotry:
However, it is no great surprise that the new blogs in fact consist exclusively of accusations which have been made by the cyber-bully Charlie Flowers on his “NiceOnesUK” Facebook group (see here), including the bizarre claim (which Flowers made back in February) that I am in correspondence with Dominic Wightman. There are also side-swipes at some of Flowers’ other pet hates: these are a Facebook page called “Exposing Racism” (where I occasionally leave comments) and the blogger Tim Ireland.
Richard has been a long time ally of this blog, and a good friend of Sunny and me. These attacks are disgraceful.
Readers, you’ll be happy to know PP has been featured in the print and online edition of today’s Observer. MS Bennett says:
For some on the left, progressiveness is denoted by the denial of platforms for one or more of the following: the BNP, Islamists, Israeli academics, climate change deniers, arrogant BBC comedians, newspaper columnists pushing their idea of “free speech” that bit too far. Last week, the progressive website Pickled Politics was enjoying the humbling of its current bÃªte noir: “[Rod] Liddle doesn’t believe in free speech,” declared Sunny Hundal, “he simply believes in his right to say what he wants without regard for facts or any blowback.” Blowback? As in a critical response to one’s opinions? If so, it seems Tory commentators are apt to be equally heedless. At ConservativeHome, Tim Montgomerie has counselled offenders that “there is constructive criticism and there is destructive criticism. There is a time for debate on the right and a time to either be silent or gun for Labour”.
God knows what reassures such speakers that their high-minded support for gagging has absolutely nothing in common with, say, that of the Chinese communist party and, moreover, that they will never suffer the consequences of their own selective approach to free expression.
In the midst of the current hysteria surrounding the internet and children, and given the tragic murder of Ashleigh Hall; the Mail obviously thought it would be a good time to tap into the fear of thousands of ‘predators’ posing online. Facebook in particular has come under attack as unfortunately it was the site where Ashleigh Hall first met her killer.
Last week, I reported on the case of Dana Ali, an Iraqi immigrant being held in Oakington detention centre because of an apparent Home Office mix-up in his paperwork. Tonight, Dana has been released and has been allowed to return home while his case is considered. He has not yet been granted leave to remain and the campaign continues, but increased public exposure will hopefully ensure the situation is resolved. Thank you to all the blogs and sites that carried the story and helped raise awareness of the injustice served to Dana. Sometimes we can win.
Activists from the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir are covertly trying to influence the government’s consultation on sex education. Furthermore – they are being aided by Islam Channel, which has given them plenty of free airtime without revealing their affiliations.
Andy Newman highlights something I wrote late last night, which I sort of scribbled quickly while half-asleep. But I think its worth repeating here:
The thing is this: all the bloggers mentioned above [Iain Dale, Guido Fawkes, Conservative Home], Derek Draper, and the Westminster journos who buy into the rubbish that these are the only blogs worth mentioning, are part of the Westminster bubble culture that makes politicians so aloof from the rest of the country. They think the world revolves around Westminster, which is why they exclude anyone who doesnâ€™t write about the same as â€˜boringâ€™ and bereft of any readership.
Iâ€™d go as far as saying that left-wing blogs have more diverse and wider audiences because they cover a whole range of different issues and topics, rather than being part of a circle-jerk where the same people read Guido, Dale and CH, and occasionally pop over to other rightwing blogs those three link to.
Andy ends by saying: “It is time to rebuild trust based upon ideological conviction and honesty, a project that the likes of Derek Draper have no place in.” — as pretty much everyone, including the formidable Sunder Katwala of the Fabians has said, Derek Draper’s time as the online saviour of New Labour is up. He’s just delaying the inevitable.
Added: And you know what is among Derek Draper’s biggest crime? Re-habilitating and making Nadine Dorries MP respectable again! Argh!
Remember the controversy over Southall Black Sisters being threatened with a huge cut in funding last year by Ealing Council? That was because Ealing Council said groups like SBS were not inclusive enough and thus not spreading community cohesion. Thankfully:
The Government has quietly shelved plans to encourage local councils to avoid funding “single-identity” groups after realising it could severely hamper charities working within some of Britain’s most vulnerable communities.
Single-identity groups are those charities that work exclusively within one cultural, religious or geographical community. That means charities combating honour violence, for instance, or working with the children of asylum seekers, or even rape crisis centres that only deal with female victims.
As pointed out in that article, this will be hugely welcomed mostly by small groups who help among the most vulnerable in our society, especially women. Last year I went to a meeting organised by Asian women groups, attended by John McDonnell MP of Hayes and Harlington (Labour), where many groups voiced their worry that the government’s new “community cohesion agenda” could shut them out.
The point of the agenda was to say that funding targeting just one ethnic or religious group was harmful for communities because it fostered tension. There is some truth in that, though it’s futile to force through a blanket solution without judging this on a case-by-case basis. Fortunately, the big outcry in support of Southall Black Sisters killed off Ealing Council’s plans and now this blunt instrument.
Back in July last year, I wrote about the Atheist Bus Campaign before it had taken off so massively, defending Ariane’s usage of the word “probably” in the official slogan: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” In response, Rumbold snorted a bit derisively saying, “Is it really even much of a campaign? How many buses is it going to be on, and for how long? Who reads bus adverts anyway?”
Hah! The answer is here. The campaign itself has been huge and written about here by Ariane, who is now seriously challenging my bid for world domination. It’s already gone across Europe and to the United States. If it goes to India and Hindus, Sikhs & Muslims start burning effigies of her in unison then we’re talking global superstar.
On top of that, she’s was wearing a t-shirt on a day that I wore 5 layers and two pairs of socks when I went out. It just proves she’s super-human. Beware religious people, your foe is more powerful than you think.
I’m going to be doing a fair bit of link-dumping over the coming weeks, as I’m trying to write more and develop more ideas on internet campaigning. So I’m going to throw out short thoughts and ideas. This article on the Washington Post makes a point I wanted to about how political campaigning online, especially in the UK, is badly conceived:
“In this Internet era, it’s not enough to run a campaign; you need to lead a movement,” Mindy Finn, a Republican online political operative, told me less than three days after the election. “That’s what Obama did.” Finn, 27, worked on President Bush’s eCampaign team in 2004 and supervised former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s Web strategy. She worries that, unlike its Democratic counterpart, the Republican establishment hasn’t fully grasped the ways the Web is revolutionizing politics. “If you look at their site,” she said of the Obama campaign, “their online videos, their online ads, everything they did, it wasn’t about ‘me, myself and I.’ It was about ‘we’ and ‘us.’ ”
It was, in essence, about you.
I think the same point can be made here. Most Labour, Tory or Libdem online operations seem to be about promoting the party and their policies, rather than assuming its a new voter who wants to empower themselves or see what this politics business is all about. It isn’t about engaging them in a movement based on any ideology or vision. It’s just: hello! We are the [whatever] party. Come and learn more about us here. In fact, the only party that explicitly thinks of itself as a movement and tries to engage its readers as much as possibly online is the BNP. No wonder they’re so popular. The Green Party, for a small operation that is meant to be radical, actually has a very conservative site, has changed somewhat with a more explicit focus on its most popular policies, on its front page. But there’s no sense of a movement, which is the only way that party will get anywhere.
Shministim means â€œtwelfth-gradersâ€ in Hebrew. Military service is mandatory after high school for young Jewish Israelis. The Shministim are Israeli youth who refuse to serve in the army because it enforces Israelâ€™s 40-year occupation of the Palestinians.
While a number of Shministim letters have been written in the past (read about the first letter sent to Prime Minister Golda Meir here ), about one hundred youth have signed the current 2008 Shministim letter which articulates the basis for refusal.
Because of their principled refusal to serve in an occupying army, youth who sign the letter face jail terms in Israeli military prisons. Terms range from 21 to 28 days; those who refuse to wear a military uniform while in jail are sent to solitary confinement for the duration of their term.
Details are emerging about the coming Progressive London conference to be held on the 24th January 2009.
Saturday 24 January 2009
Great Russell St London WC1
Tickets Â£10 waged; Â£6 unwaged; Â£20 per person for organisations;
Register for the conference now by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch with you very shortly with further details including payment details.
The conference is the first event organised by â€œProgressive Londonâ€, which was initiated by Ken Livingstone to bring together supporters of progressive policies in London including politicians, trade unionists, artists, campaigns and individuals. The conference will be an opportunity to debate and discuss all the issues that lie at the core of Londonersâ€™ quality of life and the cityâ€™s future success, from the current economic crisis to protection of the environment, social justice to good community relations, the cityâ€™s cultural life, transport and equal rights to name just a few.
Sounds interesting, although I’m still not sure what the format is going to be or how the many (and there are many) speakers are going to be fitted in.
Anyone else going to this? Let us know and perhaps we can organise a PP meet up on the day.
Its finally happening. Britain is being gently shuffled into pooterish mediocrity. Whilst the generation of artists that had to face up to Mary Whitehouse and her hateful brigade were confrontational and interesting the generation of British artists that has emerged post cool-britannia produce generic crap.
They don’t have the ability to fathom what the interesting topics are let alone contribute in any meaningful way to breaking taboos or saying something interesting.
Thanks to Riz for sending me the link to this study published by the British Medical Journal only last week. I’ve long boycotted Nestle for their unsavoury practices in developing countries. Apparently its still going on:
Objective To investigate the use of Bear Brand coffee creamer as a food for infants and the impact on consumers of the logo of a cartoon baby bear held by its mother in the breastfeeding position.
… Conclusion The Bear Brand coffee creamer is used as a breast milk substitute in Laos. The cartoon logo influences peopleâ€™s perception of the product that belies the written warning “This product is not to be used as a breast milk substitute.” Use of this logo on coffee creamer is misleading to the local population and places the health of infants at risk.
There was also a report on the same product two years ago in Canada which pointed to the same issue. There has been some coverage in the Australian press but nothing in the UK. Spread the word!!
Habib â€˜Paapuâ€™ Ullah died on Thursday 3rd July 2008 during a stop and search by Police Officers on a vehicle in a car park in High Wycombe at approximately 7.15pm. He was 39 years old and leaves behind a young family.
A group of friends have set up a campaign to raise awareness of his death in custody. On the Facebook page, they say:
We are concerned how a man can die in the process of being arrested and how he came to have breathing difficulties. There is an Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation taking place into his death.
The release of the IPCC investigation is here. There was a peaceful protest about this last week. According to their campaign blog, five police officers are now under investiation by the IPCC. If you can, spread the word. I’ll bring updates when they come in.
I’ve hear from a friend that Ealing Council has backed down over its much condemned decision to cut funding for Southall Black Sisters. No surprise the original plans came from a Conservative run council, but I bet they were surprised at the strength of the opposition to their plans. The demonstration in support of SBS was on Thursday/Friday. Anyway, once I know more I’ll post it.
The question is, what should us liberal-minded folk do? We didnâ€™t pick this fight or choose Davis to be our champion, but can we really afford to sit back and watch? Iâ€™ve lost count of the number of blog posts and facebook groups Iâ€™ve skimmed past denouncing Davis for being a hypocrite on the issue of civil liberties. That may be so, but what is more hypocritical? A hang â€˜em, flog â€˜em politician standing up for fundamental civil liberties or a smart arse who claims to care about the drip-drip erosion of our rights while sitting on the fence because the one person taking a stand doesnâ€™t pass a â€œpurityâ€ test.
I’m very attracted to this view. But I think in order to bring over the lefties in general, something else will be required James. Though, I do share your concern too.
I blogged last week about two people from Nottingham University, Rizwaan Sabir and Hicham Yezza, who were arrested when the police thought there were downloading terrorist material. It turned out they were researching the material and downloading it from an American govt website. The police let them go after 6 days of questioning.
But the story doesn’t stop there. The dimwits from the police force, in order to cover up their own embarassing stupidity, decided they would deport Hicham Yezza in order to make themselves feel better. On his release Hicham was re-arrested under immigration legislation and, due to confusion over his visa documentation, charged with offences relating to his immigration status. His visa conditions say if he is arrested then the home office has the right to deport him.
So the police wrongly arrest him and then use that as an excuse to deport him! It’s at times like this I wish I could become a more sweary blogger because the idiocy of govt officials never ceases to amaze me. There was an article in the Independent on Sunday highlighting this.
Hicham Yezza is such a popular figure at the uni that there is protest today at the uni to highlight his deportation. There is also a popular Facebook group, with more info, and a blog – Free Hicham Yezza. If you’re in the Nottingham area, try and attend the demonstration! He is apparently being deported this Sunday. A disgrace.
Well, you should know by now that Southall Black Sisters may potentially go under if the bastard Tory controlled Ealing Council cut their funding. Here are some things you can do to help:
1) To his credit, Ealing-Southall MP Virendra Sharma is supporting this campaign and has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament to this effect.
Quickly, drop an email to your MP asking to support it!
Below is an unsolicited email sent yesterday by Guido to political journalists and sundry others, modestly claiming credit for Peter Hain’s resignation. If you can bring yourself to read all the way to the bottom, check the boilerplate legal text in the last three paragraphs. [Via Three Line Whip]
Or is this just one blogger inflating his importance?
This email just came to me from Positive Action In Housing regarding the plight of Meltem Avcil. If you want to help out email Prime Minister Gordon Brown to protest email@example.com and the Home Secretary, firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘We have just been informed that government authorization has been granted to Home Office officials to charter a private jet to remove 14 year old Hall Cross Lower pupil, Meltem Avcil, and her mother, either today or first thing tomorrow. We have been informed that removal is IMMINENT and â€œuse of forceâ€ has been authorized.
Meltem Avcil, whose 14th birthday is today, had been assessed by doctors from Medical Justice yesterday. There was concern about Meltemâ€™s psychological state, as a result of being incarcerated for three months at Yarlswood Detention Centre, after being dawn raided by an immigration snatch squad at their flat in Doncaster, their home for the past six years. Doctors requested she be transferred to Bedford hospital for assessment.
Until literally minutes ago, Meltemâ€™s supporters believed she had been transferred to Bedford hospital along with her mother. Unfortunately, our sources have informed us that it was â€œextremely worryingâ€ that Meltem was being taken from Yarls Wood WITH her mother.
What is most worrying of all is that the Childrenâ€™s Commissioner has taken up Meltemâ€™s case and Dianne Abbott MP raised her case in the House of Commons yesterday. Meltemâ€™s case was also highlighted in todayâ€™s Independent newspaper.
Meltemâ€™s mobile phone has been cut off. During her time at Yarls Wood she says she was denied access to newspaper coverage of her case. The Home Office has cut off all communication with Meltemâ€™s lawyers, despite counsel standing by to carry out a judicial review of her case.
We are concerned that Meltemâ€™s school, Hall Cross Lower, responded to Meltemâ€™s predicament by saying they â€œwish her the best of luck for the futureâ€ . We are also concerned that the National Union of Teachers, where protests were held today in Doncaster, have issued no statement on the treatment of Meltem Avcil.’
I was chatting to a friend yesterday who works at a British women’s NGO and regularly conducts research and lobbies the government on that basis. As many organisations do. So I said it would be really useful if more of their people blogged about the research they do and feed into debates taking place on the web.
I think that’s important because, as we already know, many (political) bloggers will simply spout off on a subject without having any research to back up their points. They have an opinion on an issue and then get really agitated when the government does something else. Why does no one listen to them, they scream with rage.
Firstly, I think the level of debate on the blogosphere makes it very difficult for academics, anlysts, think-tanks and other NGOs to get involved. There’s too much “drive-by commenting” and people just want to spout abuse because that’s the culture we’ve developed. I believe this needs to change if the British blogosphere is to attract heavy-weights who can feed into constructive dialogue, as is the case a lot in the United States. I’m not saying the Americans do it better but I definitely think the level of debate there is way better (apart from the likes of LGF, Michelle Malkin and sometimes even Daily Kos) because more academics, analysts, policy people get involved.
Secondly, there’s also a fair bit of elitism amongst such organisations, who feel that testing their ideas amongst the masses serves no purpose and they should concentrate solely on lobbying. To an extent I can see their point since resources are usually quite stretched.
But sometimes I get the feeling they don’t want to have that debate because they’re worried it might challenge their own methodology / ideas. It may partly be because they don’t see a constructive debate happening (so it becomes a chicken and egg situation). But unless we get more people working at grass-roots, doing research or developing policy actually engaging with others on their ideas, it means intellectual stagnation. And I see this happening a lot on the left on areas like race, religion, feminism, environment, migration etc – where the same ideas from 20 years ago are being recycled.
That was the main reason I launched New Generation Network – to challenge those ideas and move the debate forward. And I think we did that well. Now the challenge remains to build a broad coalition, to have cross fertilisation of ideas, but also re-think our ideas on other issues than just race and religion. There are far too many single-issue groups just talking to themselves. It needs to change.
The Nether-World points us to the fact that Tim Ireland is back, albeit temporarily, with a new blog taking on a certain Uzbek businessman. Good stuff!
Update: Interesting set of observations on how the campaign unfolded here, I wonder if we’ll see more models like this develop the more we use this medium in this way? Link courtesy of Douglas Clark in the comments.