Nixiety Attack

Ever heard of nixiety? Its a neologism for the emotion that drives a well known journalist to post an article on the local election results in Tower Hamlets that draws more attention to his own prejudices than he probably intended.

Once again, we find a slice of the electorate in a poor part of Britain that is so lost in identity politics and victimhood that it will vote for those who stoke their rage, no matter how worthless they are.

Lots of emotive buzzwords there, “identity politics”, “rage”, “victimhood”. Since he’s taken the trouble to string them together in one sentence to describe the entire Bengali community in E1, he must be right, right? Not so fast Mr Cohen, your little exercise in misreprensentation cries out for comment.

I don’t like the politics of RESPECT any more than the next man and I don’t think it does the Bangladeshi community any favours to be associated with this group either. However, Mr Cohen’s arguments on why Bangladeshis in the East End have just elected RESPECT are wrong either because of his political agenda or just plain prejudice. Or both.

Bangladeshis have firsthand memories of seeing their people butchered by an imperialist army (Pakistan) in 1971. There is an empathy with the people of Iraq from the ravaged images they see on the media. The Iraqi war and protest of it is predominantly why the Bengali community has voted with their feet for RESPECT.

Those who argue that RESPECT’s success in Tower Hamlets was some Islamist vote instigated by the SWP do not understand the political dynamics of either Bengali society or the East End. There is no evidence, in my mind, that political Islam played any role in Bangladeshi voting patterns in these local elections.

There is the predisposition to brand as ‘Islamist’ any stripe of politicised Muslim activist. We see it happening on “decent” Left blogs every day. This is partly perpetuated by an anti-Islamicate prejudice and partly the consequential fallout caused by the internecine rivalries and factionalism of the Left. When Nick Cohen trots out pieces like this, we know that he is willing to malign entire communities merely for the sake of point-scoring for his side of the Left.

Cohen’s article itself gets a good hard fisking here, on the new-look Sharpener site.

84 Responses to “Nixiety Attack”

  1. sonia Says:

    i do find it funny when ordinary people are apathetic, everyone talks of getting them involved in ‘voting’ and the ‘project of democracy’. then some folk become less apathetic, then they become ‘politicised’ and this becomes conflated with the idea of ‘danger’ - not ‘democracy’.

    so what then constitutes ‘legitimate’ democracy vs. ‘illegitimate’ democracy..or is it a matter of who’s doing what?

    If Bush keeps talking about ’spreading’ democracy in the Middle East he’s going to have to deal with a bunch of ‘politicised Muslims’ - ooh do you think he ( and some commentators..) can handle that?

  2. sonia Says:

    oh and what about those Arabs who aren’t Muslim - now that would confuse people…” we’ve got reports of politicised A-rabs who aren’t Muslims - shit how do we go about ‘classifying’ them?! ”

    ha ha. boxes and life - life and boxes - come out of one and someone’ll try and shove you into another one.

    well its all relative so perhaps what does it matter..

  3. El Cid Says:

    Bollox!
    What’s more, I thought you were initially talking about the English working class in Barking. Now what do you think of that?

  4. Sid D H Arthur Says:

    Bollox!?

    There’s people (like Cohen) who are ready to conflate issues/motives of the white BNP vote with the RESPECT vote. I think they’re both protest votes, by and large, but thats where the parallel ends. One is supremacist and the other is pure protest vote. Bangladeshis have a knack of voting in the worst possible leaders to govern/represent them.

  5. El Cid Says:

    Come again? So what exactly makes British Bangladeshis diff from EWC?

  6. Sid D H Arthur Says:

    You got me. What’s EWC?

  7. El Cid Says:

    English Working Class? Doh!
    Anyway, I guess we will have to agree to disagree

  8. Sid D H Arthur Says:

    Okaaaaay. Still not sure what the original disagreement was about.

    But essentially there isn’t anything different the EWC and the BWC in E1.

  9. El Cid Says:

    I think we’ve had this disagreement before, on PP, with regards to the general election and the election of Galloway. I got a deep sense of deja vu, hence my messy retreat from the looming cul de sac.
    I don’t buy your argument that ethnic and religious considerations have played no role whatsoever in British Bangladeshi voting patterns in these local elections. For me, it is a protest vote underpinned by a sense of powerlessness in the same way that growing EWC support for the BNP in Barking was. Before you go incandescent with rage for daring to suggest that the two are in any way comparable, please reflect on the fact that I don’t condemn the people of Tower Hamlets for their choices. It’s up to them. But I also assume many of them were born after 1971.
    However, I want to end on a conciliatory note.
    Cohen should have done a little more research before being so dismissive. While I may suspect that RESPECT is exploiting the situation, I have no inkling of their local strategy and their actual pledges. I mean what has local politics got to do with Iraq? They still got to collect the rubbish, right?
    I also agree with you on the following, even if you’re tempted to use it against me:
    There is the predisposition to brand as ‘Islamist’ any stripe of politicised Muslim activist. We see it happening on “decent” Left blogs every day. This is partly perpetuated by an anti-Islamicate prejudice and partly the consequential fallout caused by the internecine rivalries and factionalism of the Left.

  10. Sid D H Arthur Says:

    Yeah we have had this discussion/disagreement before. And I remember being incandescent at the time. Mainly at a silly commenter who accused the entire Bengali population of E1 of being racists and anti-Semites for supporting RESPECT. And that same screed is being peddled by Nick Cohen now.

    I’m not saying for a minute that ethnic and religious considerations were not a factor for the success of the RESPECT candicates in TH. Those criteria are behind the protest vote that RESPECT so want to capitalise on. The “decent” Left’s suggestion, glibly made by Cohen and his ProWar factionists, that the Bengali vote is “Islamist”, which, nowadays implies, extremist. Thats just not the case and its a dangerous and irresponsible implication, whats more. Would they make the accusation that Barking and Dagenham voters are now arch Nazis? Of course not.

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