Respectful Insolence

If you’ve been a regular reader here, one thing you know about me is just how much I detest Holocaust denial. What I detest even more, however, is when a Holocaust denier wraps his Nazi apologia and anti-Semitism in the cloak of free speech, particularly when he tries to claim martyr status while doing it. The ever-odious David Irving is particularly good at this, particularly when he flaunts the law of another country and enters it, knowing that there is a warrant for his arrest for denying the Holocaust, and then is shocked–shocked, I say!–that the police actually arrested him and that the prosecutor actually put him on trial. Regardless of what you think of laws criminalizing Holocaust denial (and I’ve been consistently and utterly clear about my complete and utter disdain for such laws as a crime against free speech), it’s really dumb to think that you can enter a country with impunity when it has a warrant out for your arrest, whining when you don’t get away with it. Such was David Irving’s behavior, along with his disingenuous claims that he’s not a Holocaust denier because, according to him, Hitler knew nothing about the genocide, and, besides, “only” 2.4 million Jews died at the hands of the Nazis.

Still, despicable cranks like David Irving are one price that we pay for living in a free society, with guarantees of free speech. Our Founding Fathers showed amazing wisdom when they crafted the First Amendment, meaning that laws against Holocaust denial are not Constitutional, a good thing. After all, the answer to hateful speech is refutation, not censorship, and laws censoring hate speech almost always backfire in that they allow the most despicable characters to seem almost plausible in taking on the mantle of a free speech martyr.

All of this is why, when I found out via Professor Deborah Lipstadt’s blog that the Oxford Union had offered a forum for both David Irving and the leader of the white nationalist British National Party Nick Griffin to speak on free speech issues, I just couldn’t believe it. Apparently, a lot of other people couldn’t, either, leading to protests at the speeches. Moreover, the excuses offered by the organizers for the event were just pathetic:

The president of the Oxford Union Debating Society, Luke Tryl, told the BBC he was disappointed by the actions of those who tried to stop the event going ahead.

“The way to take fascism on is through debate and that’s how we’re going to defeat them,” he said.

“David Irving came across looking pathetic. He looked weak. The flaws in his arguments about free speech were exposed and I’m pleased that that happened.”

And:

But participant Ms Atkins said controversial views should not be silenced but exposed.

“When you say that the majority view is always right I think that is a deeply dangerous and disturbing thing to say.

“I am not for a moment saying that I agree with David Irving or Nick Griffin but I am saying that once you start having truth by democracy you risk silencing some of the most important prophets we have ever had.”

I swear, some people are so “open-minded” that their brains are in danger of falling out. Yes, free speech is good. Yes, Irving and Griffin should have every right in the world to spew their lies. That does not mean that a prestigious venue such as the Oxford Union is therefore obligated to give them a forum from which to do so. People, like Irving, who consistently lie about history and distort the evidence to suit their ideological agenda should be exposed. That’s a good thing. However, they should be exposed in such a way that does not give their arguments a patina of respectability, as speaking at the Oxford Union does. The right to and belief in free speech does not obligate us to permit a liar like Irving the microphone in respected venues.

I also must point out that I was disappointed at the tactics of the antifascist demonstrators, who were hypocritical, to say the least, when they blocked the gate in order try to bar anyone from entering the Union to hear Irving speak. While I think it was a huge mistake on the part of the Oxford Union to invite Irving, it had every right to do so, and attendees had every right to hear what he had to say if they so desired. Of course, Irving is certainly no saint on this score, either. His commitment to “free speech” is so great that he went to great lengths to take advantage of Britain’s notoriously plaintiff-friendly libel laws to try to silence Deborah Lipstadt’s free speech when she correctly labeled him a Holocaust denier. The protesters’ techniques uncomfortably mirrored those of David Irving himself on that score. In any case, Professor Lipstadt gets it right when she says:

Why should the Oxford Union give one of its coveted places to a man such as this or a man such as Nick Griffin, who spews hatred and racial prejudice? I am firm believer in free speech. In my country the much maligned First Amendment gives everyone a chance to make a complete “arse” of themselves. However, the right to free speech does not mean that everyone is deserving of a platform at the Oxford Union.

Exactly.

Comments

  1. #1 Jane
    November 27, 2007

    I agree with you entirely the Union had a right to give Griffin and Irvin an invitation to speak, Griffin and Irvin have a right to free speech but what they say is reprehensible. The Union shouldn’t have invited them because by doing so they give a veneer of respectability to these two toe-rags.

    The generous part of me says that Tryl was naive if he thought that he could “confront” fascism through inviting them. The more cynical and probably more accurate part of me thinks that they were invited by Tryl because he knew that if nothing else happened he would get the Oxford Union back into the news and his name noticed by the sort of employer who thinks that stunts like this are just tickety boo ie right wing think tanks, obscure right wing magazines and some companies in the City.

  2. #2 PJ
    November 27, 2007

    Sadly the Oxford Union is rather over supplied with pompous undergraduate twits, they achieved exactly what they set out to do – which was to garner press coverage for their expensive drinking club cum backstabbing political bureaucracy. They’ve done it before and they’ll do it again. The real mistake is in pretending that the Oxford Union is in any way prestigious, has any political relevance, or truly engages in grown-up debate.

    It was pretty much a win-win situation for the Union, Irving and Griffin.

  3. #3 Colugo
    November 27, 2007

    So-called “anti-fascist” demonstrators are often totalitarian thugs themselves – Communists, black bloc anarchists, red skinheads, “direct action” revolutionaries and the like – who have a symbiotic relationship to fascists. Scum like Irving allow revolutionaries to advertise their supposed anti-fascist credentials while promoting their much broader agenda. The typical “anti-fascist” literature and iconography also condemns police (“pigs”), the state of Israel, capitalism, the USA and so on as “fascists/KKK/Nazis” worthy of revolutionary destruction. It’s an old game – see Weimar Germnay – that benefits both fascists and “anti-fascists”.

  4. #4 MarkH
    November 28, 2007

    I’m infecting you with my language I can tell. “Patina of respectability/legitimacy” is one of my favorites, and I used it on my post too.

    Lets see if I can infect you with my denier trolls as well. That’ll be a blast.

  5. #5 Jerad
    November 28, 2007

    I suspect that the Oxford Union thought they were going to show the world what dopes David Irving and Nick Griffin are. I don’t see what is wrong with famous morons getting their comeuppance at a famous venue; isn’t that a way to ensure the world hears about it?

  6. #6 Acleron
    November 28, 2007

    Jerad, you would be right if these two did get their ‘comeuppance’. Unfortunately, their vacuity and dishonesty has been overshadowed by the publicity surrounding the demonstrations against them.
    Irving had already been totally discredited by his reversals of opinion and persistent misrepresentation of historical evidence. The Oxford Union’s invitation has only served to allow him a platform to repeat his obnoxious views and get away with them. To many people, unfamiliar with the subject, he may now appear to be the victim.

  7. #7 Andrew Dodds
    November 28, 2007

    Clearly another sign of the decline of The Other Place..

    Sheesh, I expect that Irvine and Griffin found themselves to the left of half the people in the bar afterwards.. Griffin anyway.

  8. #8 Orac
    November 28, 2007

    I’m infecting you with my language I can tell. “Patina of respectability/legitimacy” is one of my favorites, and I used it on my post too.

    Au contrare, my friend. I’ve used the term at least since February 2006 and possibly even longer. Maybe not as often as you use it, but who’s been blogging longer?

  9. #9 Rob
    November 28, 2007

    The Jews who own Hollywood studios commit Holocaust denial by ommission in making movies such as “Schindler’s List” and forcing curricula such as “facing history and ourselves” on American high school students, while ignoring the Holodomor, which was a Jewish genocide against the Ukrainian people in the 1930’s. Also, the Jewish secret society ADL of B’nai Brith lobbied against the recognition of the Armenian Holocaust by the US government. See http://www.noplacefordenial.com/

    Newspapers, movies, television shows etc., all provide a very one-sided, pro-Jew, pro-Zionist view of history. I think Schindler’s List was made in black and white so the masses would think that it was “archival footage” instead of extreme artistic license applied to historical events.

    And you are offended by one historian? There’s a heck of a lot to be offended by on the Jewish side. I’m very grateful for David Irving’s work and his pointing out that when Eisenhower, Churchill and Truman wrote their memoirs of World War II, none of them mentioned the Holocaust. Were they anti-Semitic neo-nazi Holocaust deniers? Also, when they changed the plaque at Auschwitz and changed the number of dead at Auschwitz from 4 million to 1.5 million, why wasn’t the six million number also revised down to 3.5 million? 6 million minus 2.5 million is still six million? What kind of kosher accounting rules are you using that let you violate basic arithmetic?

  10. #10 TheProbe
    November 28, 2007

    Rob is the sort of guy who proves that mentioning “Holocaust denier” is akin to placing a pile of steaming dog feces in the sun on a summer day. Both atract nuiscances.

  11. #11 Bronze Dog
    November 28, 2007

    What’s the deal with all the emphasis on numbers, Rob? The 6 million number just got repeated enough to be thought of first by the man on the street, who, by the way, is not a historian.

    And, of course, Rob changes the subject to “offense”. Holocaust deniers are 1: factually wrong and 2: they employ dishonest debate tactics.

    Why do woos get so holier-than-thou, yet morally relativistic, whenever a skeptic gets angry at someone doing something morally and ethically wrong?

  12. #12 David D.G.
    November 28, 2007

    Excellent commentary as always, Orac. However, if I may be pedantic for a moment, there is a problem with word usage I need to point out:

    The ever-odious David Irving is particularly good at this, particularly when he flaunts the law of another country and enters it….

    The word you want is not “flaunts” (displays, shows off) but “flouts” (disregards, disobeys). It’s a common error, and I hope that correcting it here will keep others who read your work from repeating the mistake. Thanks.

    ~David D.G.

  13. #13 Jerad
    November 28, 2007

    Acieron: I agree they didn’t get their comeuppance but I was saying I didn’t condemn the idea on the face of it; as always, execution is critical. I have to say as well that people in Britain are generally pretty respectful of free speech and hate to abrogate that freedom so they tend to err on the side of letting people have the soapbox for a bit.

    Believe me, no one in Britain thinks of him as a victim; everyone I have ever talked to thinks he’s hideous BUT he still has a right to say what he thinks. And we have a right to scoff at him. It could be argued that it was the protesters who screwed up, if they had stayed away no one would have ever heard of the event. The BNP are always having rallies and such but since most of us don’t give a toss they get no airtime.

  14. #14 S. Rivlin
    November 28, 2007

    Why I am not surprised that it is a British academic entity that once again promotes the anti-semetic (anti-zionist) sentiment? After all, has not the British Union of Academician about to vote on the boycot of Israeli academicians due to the Israeli government policies in the Palestinian territories? Such a vote has never been contemplated against Burmese, Sudanese or Serbian academiians)? The Brits have never been known for their love for the Jewish people. One needs only to read the history of their mandatory rule in Palestine during 1917-1948, which culminated in its last three years in sending Jewish refugess of German concentration camps, who were on their way to Palestine, to newly built British concentration camps in Cyprus.

    As to Rob’s math, I guess that 6 millions exterminated is a holocaust, but 3.5 millions exterminated is just a collateral damage.

  15. #15 Matt Penfold
    November 28, 2007

    “Why I am not surprised that it is a British academic entity that once again promotes the anti-semetic (anti-zionist) sentiment? After all, has not the British Union of Academician about to vote on the boycot of Israeli academicians due to the Israeli government policies in the Palestinian territories? Such a vote has never been contemplated against Burmese, Sudanese or Serbian academiians)? The Brits have never been known for their love for the Jewish people. One needs only to read the history of their mandatory rule in Palestine during 1917-1948, which culminated in its last three years in sending Jewish refugess of German concentration camps, who were on their way to Palestine, to newly built British concentration camps in Cyprus.

    As to Rob’s math, I guess that 6 millions exterminated is a holocaust, but 3.5 millions exterminated is just a collateral damage.”

    And people accuse Irving of being inaccurate (which he is). You are doing the same. Try learning some British, and earlier, history. You may also want to read up on Jewish terrorist organisations. Golda Meir was a member of one you know!

  16. #16 PJ
    November 28, 2007

    “Why I am not surprised that it is a British academic entity that once again promotes the anti-semetic (anti-zionist) sentiment?”

    Because you are an idiot?

  17. #17 Matt Penfold
    November 28, 2007

    I would also point out that it was a British court which ruled that Irving was holocaust denier, a Nazi sympathiser and a liar to boot.

    You also need to learn the difference between being anti-zionist and anti-semitic.

    Also with regards scientific collaboration: The UK currently has sanctions in place against Burma and Sudan, and used to against Serbia. Part of those sanctions include restrictions on academic collaboration. Thus with there nations you cite there was no need for any further action by British academics as the situation was already dealt with by the British government. Now there is an argument to be had about how sensible a boycott of Isreali academics would be, but that argument is not the one you put forward. In fact in doing so you undermine those who think such a boycott would be futile and silly and so oppose it.

  18. #18 Orac
    November 28, 2007

    Holocaust denier and anti-Semite “Rob” reveals his utter idiocy by parroting one of the oldest Holocaust denier canards in the book, the famed “4 million” gambit, which is easily and thoroughly refuted.

    As for the ADL, I’ve actually taken Abe Foxman to task for his bone-headed stance on the Armenian genocide. So did a lot of other people, including Jews, members of the ADL who resigned in protest. In my book, the ADL is much like the Catholic League, an organization that is often far too much like a pit bull in attacking anything that even has a whiff about it of criticism or of causing offense.

  19. #19 Matt Penfold
    November 28, 2007

    S Rivlin would seem to be one of those people thinks that in objecting to Isreali policy towards the Palestinians is to be anti-semitic. If such is the case then he must regard the EU and all EU members as anti-semitic as the EU currently objects to Isreali policy.

  20. #20 Orac
    November 28, 2007

    You also need to learn the difference between being anti-zionist and anti-semitic.

    Actually, the difference between the two isn’t always that clear. The reason is that a lot of anti-Semites try to hide behind claims along the lines of, “Oh, no, I don’t hate Jews. I’m not anti-Semitic. I’m anti-Zionist.” Even as someone who’s been interested in combatting Holocaust denial for nearly a decade now, I’ll admit that there are times when I’ve had difficulty telling whether a person claiming to be an anti-Zionist really isn’t an anti-Semite. The language used by some anti-Zionists can sure sound anti-Semitic at times.

    I also think that the attempt by British academics to boycott Israeli academics was a horrendously hypocritical act. One would do well to read Deborah Lipstadt’s posts about the topic.

  21. #21 Matt Penfold
    November 28, 2007

    “I suspect that the Oxford Union thought they were going to show the world what dopes David Irving and Nick Griffin are. I don’t see what is wrong with famous morons getting their comeuppance at a famous venue; isn’t that a way to ensure the world hears about it?”

    That argument might have more weight had the debate itself had more coverage. As it was what got reported was not the debate but the controvesy surrounding it. Oxford Union debates do not get televised, nor do the proceedings get reported in the papers. I am not even sure the events get videoed, although I suspect they might and could be available online somewhere. To be honest I have no real desire to watch what happened and so cannot be bothered to find out. Neither man has anything to say I want to hear.

  22. #22 Matt Penfold
    November 28, 2007

    Orac,

    I get your point but I think you would agree there can be a difference. And that opposing current Isreali policy in the occupied territories (such as the continued construction of settlements) is in no way anti-semitic ? Or that even thinking there is a need to take a stronger line with Isreal to force it to comply with UN rulings is not anti-semitic either ? Or e ven that current US policy is not helping resolve the conflicts but rather seems to perpetuate them is also not anti-semitic ?

  23. #23 Matt Penfold
    November 28, 2007

    “I also think that the attempt by British academics to boycott Israeli academics was a horrendously hypocritical act.”

    I was rather a stupid idea, but I am not clear in what way it is hypocritical ?

    That said I have come to the view that the EU ought to put in place sanctions against Isreal until Isreal stops building new settlements in the occupied territories. Those may include limiting academic collaboration but also may not.

  24. #24 Robster, FCD
    November 28, 2007

    Rob, you aren’t impressing anybody.

  25. #25 wfjag
    November 28, 2007

    “. . . while ignoring the Holodomor, which was a Jewish genocide against the Ukrainian people in the 1930’s.”

    Of all the things “the Jooooos” have been accused of, this one seems original. Most historians agree that the Holodomor (Ukranian famine of 1932-33) was caused by the policies of the Soviet Union under Stalin. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodomor. I’m not aware of anyone denying that some 10 Milllion people starved to death (which is very different from “Holocaust Deniers” who deny that some 6 Millions Jews – among 16 Million+ people – were systematically murdered by the Nazis and their allies). Yes, I am aware that there were Jewish Bolsheviks, like “Leon Trotsky” aka Lev Davidovich Bronstein. However, in October 1927 Trotsky was expelled from the Central Committee, in November 1927 he was expelled from the Communist Party, and in February 1929 he was exiled from the USSR (in 1936 he was sentenced to death, in absentia, and in 1940 he was living in Mexico when someone put a pick-axe in his head). In 1932, “Uncle Joe” Stalin ordered the collectivization of Ukrainian farmlands and seizure of the crops, and sold the crops and used the money to buy heavy machinery to industrialize the USSR (another of Uncle Joe’s projects) – triggering the famine. It’s a little hard to see how this can be blamed on “the Jooooos”. As a kid, “Uncle Joe” had been an Alter Boy (Hint: That’s a position in some Christian churches). Whether the Holodomor meets the legal definition of “genocide” is a different issue. But, as I noted, no one is denying it happened.

    FYI #1 Rob: Don’t try to use Yiddish unless you know a little bit about the language. “Kosher” refers to certain types of foods – of excellent quality I might add – and not math. For false math, try “chev” – I’m not sure it’s Yiddish, but, at least it’s a synonym of “sham” and sorta sounds Yiddish.

    FYI#2: The US government does recogize that between 1 & 2 Million Armenians died in Turkey between 1917 & 1923. It has not, however, labeled it as “genocide” — the legal definition issue again. Try not to confuse yourself over this issue again — not calling something “genocide” (which has a legal definition — although not exactly a clear one) isn’t the same as denying that the event happened.

    FYI #3: I’m not Jewish or Ukrainian. I do, sometimes, check out “conspiracy theories.” It’s entertaining to see what lunacies some people will believe. It’s almost as entertaining as watching people read tabloids while waiting in a check-out line. Of all “The Jooooos did it” conspiracy theories I’ve come across, blaming them for the Holodomor is a new one.

  26. #26 Prup aka Jim Benton
    November 28, 2007

    While I have nothing substantive to add, I do want to say that I’d love to see a ‘cage match’ between Rob and S. Rivlin — to be precise, I’d like to know one was occuring, I probably wouldn’t watch it, but at least it would end up with one idiot less, hopefully Rob.

    And PLEASE, wfjag, the term is “AltAr Boy” — one who serves at the altar, not “AltEr Boy.” I haven’t been a Catholic for 45 years, but I remember that.

  27. #27 S. Rivlin
    November 29, 2007

    It is typical of those who never experienced discrimination, persecutions, pogroms or a holocaust to call those who did experience such acts “idiots” when the latter are voicing their opinions about those acts and the people who commit them. I happened to experience some of those acts. Most of the members of my family on my mother side who did not get out of Europe before the rise of the Nazies were perished in the Holocaust. The British government and many Brits have a long history of anti-Jewish attitude and actions. I was born and raised under the British occupation in Palestine and experienced some of their discriminatory actions against the Jewish population. The Brits are responsible to most of today’s problems in the Middle East, from creating the monarchy in Trans-Jordan (Jordan today) to the monarchy in Iraq (the kings of both Jordan and Iraq were brought from the same Saudi family in Saudie Arabia), to leaving the whole region in disarray when their mandate expired.
    Zionism is a movement that was founded in the late 19th century to explore and advance the idea of creating a homeland for the persecuted European Jewery. Once the state of Israel was established, the Zionist movement had completed its mission. The use of the term Zionism was revived by the Arab countries that objected to the creation of the state of Israel. They even succeeded in making the UN pass a resolution declaring Zionism a racist movement. Many antiSemites have jumped on the opportunity to hide their real feelings behind this term, Zionism, which, of course, includes all Jews who either live in Israel or are supporting Israel. The fact that the UN recended its resolution years later has not stopped the use of anti-Zionism as a cover for anti-Semitism.

    Matt, please indulge me by providing the name of the terrorist organization Golda Meir had belonged to. Or maybe you meant Menahem Begin, you history expert.

    One can object to certain Israeli policies (I myself object to the settlements and what they represents), but when British academicians are the ones that are pushing for the boycotting of their Israeli peers, people of whom the majority objects to the settlement policies of the government, one must question the real sentiment behind such initiative.

  28. #28 Matt Penfold
    November 29, 2007

    Correct, I did mean Begin.

    Now it is your turn to admit you were wrong. I call on you to withdraw your nationalistic and xenophobic comments about the British. Until you do I consider no better than the anti-semites you and I condemn. In some respects you are worse, as you are being a hypocrit as well.

    So Rivlin, show us you actually deserve to be treated as a human being rather than a racist scumbag.

  29. #29 iain
    November 29, 2007

    @ S. Rivlin:

    One problem with your original comment is that it appears to be based on incomplete and/or incorrect beliefs about the various organisations involved in the UK.

    The Oxford Union is a student-run debating society. Its most active members often go on to careers in politics, and are planning those careers while members of the Union. As noted earlier by PJ, this means that a chief goal of the Union is to attract attention, by whatever means. This ‘debate’ looks very much like a publicity stunt.

    The Oxford Union is therefore an ‘academic entity’ to use your deliberately vague term, of a very different stripe from the University and College Union, to which I assume you meant to refer when you spoke of “the British Union of Academician”. The UCU is an organisation of paid professionals, not a student club. Its members are for the most part lecturers and researchers working in universities and colleges.

    It is not true that the UCU is about to hold a vote on a boycott of Israeli universities.

    It is true that the UCU recently entertained the proposal of discussing a boycott of some sorts of academic contact with some Israeli Universities. This proposal came from some members of the UCU, not from the UCU leadership. It was fairly swiftly defeated. Note that the UCU did not get as far as actually consdiering whether such a boycott should be imposed.

    The UCU was formed fairly recently by the amalgamation of two unions. One of those predecessor unions (the AUT) did agree, briefly, to a similar boycott. This happened when supporters of such a boycott (again ordinary members and not the leadership) were well-organised and packed a meeting in which the vote on the motion to boycott took place. On that occasion as well, the union swiftly organised an extraordinary meeting at which the decision to boycott was reversed.

    In summary, there is no evidence that a majority in any UK academic union supports a boycott of Israeli universities, although it’s clear that a vocal set of members (probably a minority set) do. (I quite deliberately say nothing hear about the merits of any proposed boycott, or about whether agreeing to such a boycott would be evidence of anti-semitism.)

    So I suspect that others have called you an idiot (which having read other comments by you I know you’re not) because you seem to be smearing the British as a nationality as anti-semites on the basis of some false beliefs about what is happening in British academia.

  30. #30 Orac
    November 29, 2007

    Actually, you’re far too kind regarding the UCU. The main reason that the UCU boycott didn’t go forward much further than it did is because its lawyers decided that it would be illegal, as the UCU’s own press release states. What it looks like to me, in essence, is that the leadership was embarrassed (and rightly so) by the international outcry that its idiotic (and, yes, arguably anti-Semitic) proposal provoked and was fortunate enough to find a legal reason to stop its membership from pursuing it further. EU involvement also likely helped quash this stupid proposal.

  31. #31 S. Rivlin
    November 29, 2007

    iain,

    Thank you for the elaborate explanations regarding the Oxford Union and the UCU. If my original response appears to paint all Brits as antiSemites, of course, this was not my intention and I am sorry for the perceived generalization that my words imply. Nevertheless, in every society, the antiSemites or any other racist group usually represent a vocal minority, which at times can have much greater influence than its representation in the general population. Moreover, students are influenced by their teachers and mentors and your attempt to separate these two groups as if they have nothing to do with each other is unjustified. Young, soon-to-become politicians establish many of their political positions while in school. We all remember the ex-mayor of London and his antiSemetic declarations. Was he a graduate of Oxford? was he a member of the student organization known as the Oxford Union?

    Here is a point I have left out of my previous response, which I think worth mentioning in regard to occupations and settlements. Those in the British Academia who so vigorously object to the Israeli government’s policies in the occupied territories should look no further than North Ireland or Iraq. Or if they choose so, they can look as far as the Falkland Island and the war that Britain had chosen to engage in with Argentina. Maybe British academicians should boycot themselves for the policies of their government in foreign lands.

  32. #32 wfjag
    November 29, 2007

    Prup — please accept my apology. While there are at least 5 Society of Jesus members on my Mom’s side of the family, she was part of the “heretic” branch. Maybe that’s why I rely on spell check instead of a dictionary.

  33. #33 S. Rivlin
    November 29, 2007

    Matt,

    I missed your little gem where you called me a racist scumbag. Not that your namecalling deserves any response, but you can read my response to iain, which may or may not satisfy you. By the way, who put you as representative of the readers of this blog (“So Rivlin, show us you actually deserve to be treated as a human being rather than a racist scumbag“)?

  34. #34 MartinM
    November 29, 2007

    We all remember the ex-mayor of London and his antiSemetic declarations.

    London has had only one Mayor, Ken Livingstone, and he’s still in the job, last I heard.

    Was he a graduate of Oxford?

    Don’t think so, no.

  35. #35 S. Rivlin
    November 29, 2007

    Wow, still the mayor! My mistake for exing him. A leader the Brits must be really proud of.

  36. #36 PJ
    November 29, 2007

    S.Rivlin – I reiterate that you are an idiot.

    Let us consider just a single data point in your idiocy:

    “The majority of Oxford’s [UCU] members…supported the view that Oxford is opposed to academic boycotts per se.” (here)

  37. #37 Orac
    November 29, 2007

    So Rivlin, show us you actually deserve to be treated as a human being rather than a racist scumbag.

    Somehow I missed this and am stepping in here. I do not tolerate personal charges of racism without some pretty concrete evidence to support them. I just don’t see any such evidence here that Rivlin is a “racist scumbag.”

    So stop it now. I will not warn you a second time.

  38. #38 PJ
    November 29, 2007

    Idiocy data point number two, what exactly did Ken Livingstone say that was ant-Semitic (as opposed to offensive, crass, and pissed)?

    Standard reporter Oliver Finegold tried to interview Livingstone after a reception marking the 20th anniversary of former MP Chris Smith’s coming out as gay. Here’s what was said:

    “Finegold: Mr Livingstone, Evening Standard. How did tonight go?
    Livingstone: How awful for you. Have you thought of having treatment?
    Finegold: How did tonight go?
    Livingstone: Have you thought of having treatment?
    Finegold: Was it a good party? What does it mean for you?
    Livingstone: What did you do before? Were you a German war criminal?
    Finegold: No, I’m Jewish, I wasn’t a German war criminal and I’m actually quite offended by that. So, how did tonight go?
    Livingstone: Ah right, well you might be [Jewish], but actually you are just like a concentration camp guard, you are just doing it because you are paid to, aren’t you?
    Finegold: Great, I have you on record for that. So, how was tonight?
    Livingstone: It’s nothing to do with you because your paper is a load of scumbags and reactionary bigots.
    Finegold: I’m a journalist and I’m doing my job. I’m only asking for a comment.
    Livingstone: Well, work for a paper that doesn’t have a record of supporting fascism.”

  39. #39 PJ
    November 29, 2007

    Idiocy three: “Those in the British Academia who so vigorously object to the Israeli government’s policies in the occupied territories should look no further than North Ireland or Iraq. Or if they choose so, they can look as far as the Falkland Island and the war that Britain had chosen to engage in with Argentina.”

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here. As far as Iraq is concerned: “UCU is opposed to the current occupation of Iraq and is one of the many UK unions affiliated to the Stop the War Coalition”

    Your point about Northern Ireland, currently governed by an elected assembly with representatives of both sides of the sectarian divide, and the Falklands War (15 years ago), where Argentina invaded and occupied land populated entirely by British farmers with British sovereignty last established in the early 19th century, is lost on me.

  40. #40 S. Rivlin
    November 29, 2007

    PJ,

    1. When I talk about British antiSemites I do not distinguish between the Oxford academicians who belong to the UCU and the non-academic Brits. Nevertheless, the fact that the majority of members of the Oxford UCU rejected the idea of boycotting Israeli academicians does not nagate the minority (how big?) who supported such boycotting, a minority that no doubt includes antiSemites.

    2. On Ken Livingston, maybe you will find this link helpful:
    http://adloyada.typepad.com/adloyada/2006/03/ken_livingstone.html

    3. Regarding British occupations around the world. Won’t you think that before the UCU members stick their noses in the policies of other governments they should try to fight against the occupational policies of their own government?
    I gather that according to you taking the Falkland Island over a hundred years ago makes it Kosher, while taking lands in a survival war 40 years ago is not. Now, this is “idiocy” for you!

  41. #41 PJ
    November 30, 2007

    1. So your argument is that the 4-5% of Oxford UCU members who didn’t reject the boycott “that no doubt includes antiSemites” were the cause of the Oxford Union inviting Irving and Griffen? Bollocks.

    2. Ken Livingstone, angry about their role in an Olympic development, says of the “Bombay born Iraqi Jews” the Reuben brothers that “perhaps they could always go back to Iran and see if they do better under the Ayatollahs.” Clearly showing his anti-Semitism through the medium of borderline xenophobia and geographic ignorance. Bollocks.

    3. I’ve already shown that the UCU oppose Iraq. Northern Ireland is clearly not being ‘occupied’ by the British government. The Falklands war has been over for 15 years, and the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) have a rather more complex history than you seem to appreciate, but certainly they have been under British rule for nearly 200 years and the population wishes to remain independent from Argentina (in fact before the invasion the British government was in negotiations with Argentina over transfer of sovereignty). So bollocks again.

  42. #42 Ed
    November 30, 2007

    Denial of history is one thing. Fabrication of facts is another. The first is a one way street to confrontation, the latter a slightly more desperate attempt to live up to 15 minutes of fame, while ignoring their content.
    Thanks for the blog Orac. I agree with your views.You’ve got it well.

  43. #43 S. Rivlin
    November 30, 2007

    PJ,

    You sure have a nack for twisting things any which way to fit your perception. You clearly don’t like to admit that among the British citizens, academicians and non-academicians, there are antiSemites; that the Brits’ obsession with “Israeli injustices” over the past 60 years has nothing to do with the fact that Israel is a Jewish state. You also trying to tell me that a British occupation that has lasted 200 years is OK, at least in part, because it is a complicated issue yet, the Middle East issue is, according to PJ, less complicated and thus the focusing of all fair and just Brits on it. Bollocks

  44. #44 PJ
    November 30, 2007

    I’m sorry to keep calling people names, but you really are a dick.

    Of course there exist anti-Semites amongst the British – but you have claimed that the British, and particularly British academics, are peculiarly anti-Semitic, and that this academic anti-Semitism is a causal factor in the Oxford Union inviting Irving through their influence on students. All of these claims are complete crap and you have nothing to back them up.

    I don’t want to get into an argument over the Falklands as it is a complete side track that you have thrown up to muddy the waters (dropped the Iraq and Northern Ireland comparisons now?) – but I’ll just point out that any friend of Israel ought to be rather careful contrasting the legitimacy of Israeli occupations and the British in the Falkland Islands.

  45. #45 S. Rivlin
    November 30, 2007

    If name-calling helps you feel better, be my guest. This is probably your way of reducing the stress you are under. I cannot be sure if antiSemitism has been the only reason Irving was invited to speak in front of the Oxford Union, but you also cannot say for sure that it was not the reason. Promoting the message of a Holocaust denier, especially after he was proven to be one and even arrested for this crime in Germany, on a a stage such as Oxford University says much about the sentiments of people who invited him. British academics have tried over three years ago to boycot Israeli academics and they have tried again this year. I do not recall any other British organization trying to boycot any other Israeli organization, which indicates to me that certain British academics are acting on their antiSemitic sentiments more than other British groups.

    Do you think that just because I did not mention Northern Ireland and Iraq for the second time, these illegal occupations are now legitimate? The British military occupation of Iraq is as legitimate as the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. As to the Falkland Islands, again just because it is an older occupation, how is it more legitimate than a more recent one? This is, of course, on the main track of the debate we have here, despite you calling it a side track. Many Brits are obssessed with Israel actions specifically because Israel is a Jewish state. The Brits are much more forgiving when such actions are committed by their own government or those committed by other governments. I haven’t heard anything from the Brits about Syrian actions in Lebanon, Russain actions in Chechnia,Chinese actions in Tibet or Turkish actions in Iraq. I know, for you it is all side tracks and I’m a dick, but for me it simply indicates a British bias where the land of the Jews is concerned.

  46. #46 PJ
    November 30, 2007

    S. Rivlin, it is clear you have the barest familiarity with Oxford, Oxford University, British academia, Britain in general, the British people, and British history, so I’ll leave you to your strange views informed by nothing in particular and based on the argument “you also cannot say for sure that it was not the reason”.

  47. #47 S. Rivlin
    November 30, 2007

    P.J., I know as much about Britain, Oxford University, British academia and British history as you know about Israel, Judaism, antiSemitism, Israeli academia and Jewish people in general. You did not provide even a little grain of evidence to suggest that Irving’s invitation was not driven by antiSemitic sentiments. I, in contrast, have provided many grains of information and some specific instances to support my assertion that there is a British biased sentiment against the Jewish state and Jews.

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