Glorifying terrorism

by Chris Bertram on September 16, 2005

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of blogospheric comment yet about the more surreal aspects of the British governments intention to criminalize the “glorification” of terrorism. Saying that a particular terrorist act or event was a good thing is set to be a criminal offence unless the event was more than 20 years ago, except that the Home Secretary will draw up a list of older events the “glorification” of which will also be an offence. So far there’s no clear indication of what will be on the list except the suggestion that glorifying the Easter Rising of 1916 or the French Revolution (1789-whenever you think it ended) will not be illegal. Will it be illegal to praise the following events?

  • The Irgun bombing of the King David Hotel (1946)
  • Any bombings or shootings by the Baader-Meinhof gang.
  • ETA’s assassination of Prime Minister Carrero Blanco in 1973
  • Any acts of Palestinian terrorism.
  • The assassination by Mossad of Palestinian leaders in foreign countries.
  • The assassination of any member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.
  • The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior by the French secret service in 1985.

However repusive it may be to praise some of these acts, it is just incompatible with a free society for it to be in some politician’s gift to decide which historical events it is or isn’t acceptable to “glorify”.

{ 126 comments }

1

P ONeill 09.16.05 at 9:22 am

Indeed. How about Sinn Fein’s “IRA: undefeated army” accessories or the infamous “sniper at work” items that have disappeared from the website but are doubtless available at certain fine retailers everywhere?

2

Jason Kuznicki 09.16.05 at 9:26 am

I would find it very difficult to teach French history in the U.K. under this law. Given the country’s many revolutions and acts of terrorism besides “the” French Revolution, and given the fact that quite a few of these had some very sound justifications… What could I possibly say? Should I teach that all of them were illegitimate, and that the proper thing to do is to obey the temporal and spiritual powers, because they are ordained of God?

Sounds like the Old Regime to me–and we all know what happened to them

3

Jon 09.16.05 at 9:30 am

Indeed. Lordy, what would they make of this or indeed this.

4

otto 09.16.05 at 9:31 am

Well, it’s always possible to resist the spiritual and temporal powers without targetting civilians, or indeed employing violence at all for that matter. I wish more people would try it.

Glad to see that comments are allowed on this post.

5

Matt McGrattan 09.16.05 at 9:34 am

The whole conceptual basis of the law seems utterly wrong-headed.

I thought the whole argument that liberty of thought and speech was a good thing had been won some time in the 18th century?

What is their argument for it? That there’s some slim chance that by preventing such speech there may be someone who in another possible world would have carried out an act of violence but they now won’t?

Vague hand-waving counterfactual nods in the direction of the prevention of possibly bad future outcomes shouldn’t trump hard won and long-standing liberties.

Additionally, it seems fairly obvious that good governance requires laws that don’t allow politicians to make the kind of case-by-case judgement calls that this law is designed to set up.

6

Grandma Lausch 09.16.05 at 9:36 am

Who, if not ‘some politician’ – elected, incidently, in a liberal democracy – should decide what to ‘glorify’? Perhaps a pro Bin Laden rally in Trafalgar square will be more in the spirit of ‘a free society’?

7

Doctor Slack 09.16.05 at 9:36 am

I have to say Blair and his gang look set to overtake BushCo in the “convincing us that modern Western democracy is a dying beast” sweepstakes. That’s quite a feat.

8

Ginger Yellow 09.16.05 at 9:45 am

I don’t know if I’d agree with Dr Slack entirely, but it does seem that Blair, Blunkett and now Clarke are all worryingly eager to criminalise speech in various forms. It seems perverse that they feel the need to restrict fundamental rights like this rather than take simple measures used around the world like allowing wiretap evidence.

9

Matt McGrattan 09.16.05 at 9:47 am

I don’t really think Blair etc really believe in democracy.

Seriously.

I think they believe the country ought to be run in the country’s best interest, and if the country is too stupid to know it’s own interest, well, then more competent individuals will just have to get on and do it.

10

Peter Briffa 09.16.05 at 9:54 am

It’s complete idiocy. Typical of Blair and Charles Clarke, though. I expect the Tories will back it up too.

11

soru 09.16.05 at 9:57 am

Additionally, it seems fairly obvious that good governance requires laws that don’t allow politicians to make the kind of case-by-case judgement calls that this law is designed to set up.

I find that more persuasive when reversed. Don’t write apparently neutral and universal rules that, if applied universally and neutrally, would be disastrous. Instead, recognise that the (perceived or actual) problem is that certain people, who in general cannot be proven to have done anything specific wrong (yet), are considered unnaceptably dangerous and may need to be monitored, locked up and/or deported.

Then take the decision to do (or not do) those things. In an accountable way. Monitor the number and names of people so treated, have them visited by independant third parties, etc. And if you don’t like the result, vote out the politician who took that decision.

I find genuinely puzzling the popularity of the idea that you can write down in advance a complete, optimal perscription for managing complicated political tradeoffs between individual liberty and collective safety. How can any adult believe such a thing?

You can’t even write down a set of rules for playing a game as simple as chess. Why do so many people seem to think that every aspect of the organisation of human society is as simple an issue as how to win at noughts and crosses when going first?

soru

12

jet 09.16.05 at 9:59 am

Matt McGrattan,
If you think the battle for liberty was won in the 18th century, then you should read about how “liberal” 18 century western culture was. Slavery was just getting really started in the Americas and the French were about to take their victory and turn it into “The Terror” followed shortly by Napoleon. And then we still have Marx turning Hobbes’ “a few must suffer for the benefit of the majority” into a wildly popular political theory culminating in the deaths of perhaps several hundred million “fews”.

The battle for liberty is still a long way from being won.

13

Ginger Yellow 09.16.05 at 10:02 am

Via The Telegraph, possibly the worst excuse ever for detaining people for up to three months before charging them: “Another reason for requiring a longer period for questioning is because Muslims need time for prayer, often several times a day.”

14

Matt McGrattan 09.16.05 at 10:05 am

“I find genuinely puzzling the popularity of the idea that you can write down in advance a complete, optimal perscription for managing complicated political tradeoffs between individual liberty and collective safety. How can any adult believe such a thing?”

I assumed in the case of legislation that it was up to judges and juries to adjudicate in individual cases. Not that a ‘perfect’ law could be written down but rather that the interpretation of law was a judicial rather than legislative matter.

There’s nothing puzzling about wanting some degree of separation of powers.

15

Matt McGrattan 09.16.05 at 10:07 am

Jet, you’ll note I didn’t say that the battle had been won, just that the argument had been largely won.

It’s one thing for the notion of liberty of speech and conscience to become a widely held political ideal and entirely another thing for it to actually exist.

16

dsquared 09.16.05 at 10:18 am

this ought to be something that both decent and indecent leftists can get behind, since Christopher Hitchens’ eulogies of the PUK would certainly get his collar felt. Perhaps we need a “Unite Against Political Exploitation of Terrorism” petition?

17

Anodyne 09.16.05 at 10:21 am

It seems like a good bet that an early test of this law would relate to something posted on a website. Would a host of a site be responsible for comments made anonymously that were deemed to have glorified terrorism?

As bad as things might seem in the US under the Bush administration, there is really nothing I’ve heard of that has been brought to a vote at the federal or state level that comes close to being as limiting to free speech and unworkable as this proposed law. Please (and I mean it) enlighten me if I’ve missed something equally controversial in the US.

18

Hektor Bim 09.16.05 at 10:33 am

I’m not sure how you call the assassination of Blanco terrorism. He wasn’t a civilian or elected – he was serving in a military government run by a dictator. The objective of killing him wasn’t to create terror, it was to strike back at the government after the mass killing of political dissidents. In the sense that there was essentially no tolerance of peaceful dissent in Spain, there weren’t a whole lot of options.

Not only that, but a strong argument I have seen from historians of Spain is that Blanco’s death hastened the end of the Francoist regime, since Blanco was Franco’s obvious successor.

So regrettable as political violence is, I don’t think this qualifies as terrorism.

19

Barry Freed 09.16.05 at 10:38 am

Guy Fawkes, your country needs you now.

20

Matt McGrattan 09.16.05 at 10:42 am

I don’t know the details of the case Hektor Bim mentions but I imagine that whatever your political views — a few Quakers aside — there are bound to be cases of political violence which people on one side of the issue see as terrorism and people on the other side do not.

It’s just another illustration of the unworkability of the law.

21

Chris Bertram 09.16.05 at 10:53 am

Hektor, the reason I included Blanco — “the first Spaniard to the moon”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luis_Carrero_Blanco — was precisely because it was an act that some might call terrorism but which I think of as a good thing.

22

Chris Brooke 09.16.05 at 10:55 am

“There doesn’t seem to be a lot of blogospheric comment yet…”

Chris Lightfoot has had a couple of posts on the subject here and here.

23

des von bladet 09.16.05 at 10:56 am

[T]here are bound to be cases of political violence which people on one side of the issue see as terrorism and people on the other side do not.

It’s just another illustration of the unworkability of the law.

Ixnay, dude: the side which isn’t the Home Secretary’s side is illegal. (Well, half illegal, until they pass a law banning non-glorification of Glorious Acts of Liberation.)

24

jet 09.16.05 at 11:01 am

Matt McGrattan,
Even the Quakers believed that some situations call for military action. The US Civil War saw extremely high levels of volunteers from Quaker communities. Since most everyone else was drafted, I believe that claim that the highest percentage of volunteers from any single subculture was from the Quakers extremely reasonable.

25

Matt McGrattan 09.16.05 at 11:11 am

Jet, I didn’t know that. I did know that lots of Quakers served (bravely) in dangerous non-combat jobs e.g. medics, ambulance drivers, but I wasn’t aware that there was much in the way of active combat service from the Quaker community.

26

Mrs Tilton 09.16.05 at 5:11 pm

Otto writes:

it’s always possible to resist the spiritual and temporal powers without … employing violence at all….

Quite. But that doesn’t really address Chris’s point at all now, does it?

I wish more people would try it.

If you are the Otto who has been commenting on afoe, I wonder whether you wish the July 20 conspirators had tried it.

27

Thinker 09.16.05 at 5:12 pm

Well, for British History, how about:

1) Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. ( So much for Guy Fawkes Day. )

2) The murder of Thomas a Beckett.

3) Robin Hood

4) William Wallace

28

nick 09.16.05 at 5:21 pm

Guy Fawkes, your country needs you now.

Well, ‘V for Vendetta’ comes out on November 5th….

29

Matt Daws 09.16.05 at 5:37 pm

Soru,

Then take the decision to do (or not do) those things. In an accountable way. Monitor the number and names of people so treated, have them visited by independant third parties, etc. And if you don’t like the result, vote out the politician who took that decision.

I have, in the past, argued this view. It’s often said that we don’t know what future governments will do with laws we set today: we could elect a new Hitler tomorrow, and he’d have a field-day with such draconian legislation. This is rubbish though: if politics takes a sudden lurch to the right (or indeed left) then the climate will be such that this law could be passed anyway.

However, I do think there’s a very real risk of more moderate function creep. We’ve already seen it with anti-terror legislation used by police to keep anti-arms-sales protestors at bay. The law is such that the police and prosecutors are always looking for ways to “get their man”: I’m certain these laws will be used in cases where there is little other evidence. Indeed, I have a strong suspicion that part of the effort to pass these laws *is* to get people whom the police suspect are dodgy, but about whom we can’t prove anything else.

Other points: we already have laws which are basically “incitement” laws; the level of “monitoring” which you call for is woefully laz: we don’t even know what many people being currently held are even accused off (although I grant that this is a separate issue really).

30

MNPundit 09.16.05 at 6:07 pm

Hey Britons, how’s that unwritten constitution going for you? Sorry sorry, I’m just being snarky.

It’s not like our written constitution has been much of an impediment to that kind of thing over here either.

:(

31

Bob B 09.16.05 at 6:10 pm

Believe me – I checked at the time – until shortly after the London bombings on 7/7, a number of websites with Yorkshire connections celebrated the Yorkshire origins of Guy Fawkes who, with fellow conspirators, planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London at the state opening on 5 November 1605.

Fawkes was drawn into the plot as the explosives expert. According to a recent assessment, he was unstinting in the quantity of explosives he planned to use for the purpose, evidently intending over-kill to make quite sure:

“Guy Fawkes could have changed the face of London if his 1605 plot had not been foiled, explosion experts have said. His 2,500 kg of gunpowder could have caused chaos and devastation over a 490-metre radius, they have calculated. Fawkes’ planned blast was powerful enough to destroy Westminster Hall and the Abbey, with streets as far as Whitehall suffering damage, they say. . . “
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3240135.stm

Tours of places in Yorkshire connected with Fawkes were run by local tourist agencies. I can only assume that the celebrity status of Fawkes in Yorkshire would have been familiar to the three of the London bombers who came from Yorkshire.

For readers here less familiar with the history of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes

32

dsquared 09.16.05 at 6:15 pm

actually in its present draft I would be surprised if this legislation survived its first encounter with the ECHR.

33

dsquared 09.16.05 at 6:17 pm

btw, will it be permissible to say that the Contras in Nicaragua were the moral equivalent of the founding fathers?

34

Uncle Kvetch 09.16.05 at 6:24 pm

Well, for British History, how about:

Robin Hood? Thomas a Beckett? Please. Here in the US we don’t have to stretch nearly that far. Just for starters, the last 20 years encompass the Nicaraguan contras, right-wing paramilitaries in El Salvador and Guatemala, and the Afghan mujaheddin, all of which targeted innocent civilians with the enthuasiastic support of the United States.

As heinous as the new UK law is, I can’t help thinking it would that it would provoke some unintentionally hilarious results if something similar were attempted here: you know, Max Boot explaining why blowing Central American peasants to smithereens somehow “doesn’t count” and so forth.

35

RedWolf 09.16.05 at 6:25 pm

Interesting choice of items. Will the Brits ever recover from being thrown out of the Holy Land (and by the Jews no less)?

36

Uncle Kvetch 09.16.05 at 6:27 pm

Heh. dsquared beat me to one of my punches.

37

Nabakov 09.16.05 at 6:30 pm

Another issue is how do you define “glorification”? That could be anything from a military historian or analyst praising the effectiveness of a terrorist group’s tactics while not necessarily endorsing their cause to someone celebrating the role of the ANC in getting rid of apartheid, a cause most people would applaud, even though they supported terrorist tactics at times.

Or what about calling the contras the “the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers.”? Applying the letter of the law here would have seen at least one US President in jug.

38

jet 09.16.05 at 6:32 pm

The problem with these “for the better good” arguments is you have to trust the complete assclowns in government to not abuse them. Today you can’t celebrate Palestinian terror, tomorrow you can’t say anything that might upset “the people”. The French Terror is a good example of where this particular slippery slope can lead.

39

junius ponds 09.16.05 at 6:32 pm

How about praising Jonas Savimbi as a freedom fighter?

40

Bob B 09.16.05 at 6:32 pm

Those inclined to celebrate liberalising tendencies in Britain during the 18th century might also consider:

“Hanging people for small crimes as well as grave, the Bloody Penal Code was at its most active between 1770 and 1830. In those years some 7,000 men and women were executed on public scaffolds, watched by thousands. Hanging was confined to murderers thereafter, but these were still killed in public until 1868. Clearly the gallows loomed over much of social life in this period. But how did those who watched, read about, or ordered these strangulations feel about the terror and suffering inflicted in the law’s name? What kind of justice was delivered, and how did it change?”

VAC Gatrell: The Hanging Tree (OUP 1996)
http://12.107.205.42/isbn/0-19-285332-5

With hanging a frequent regular sentence for even minor crimes, our ancestors were astute enough to appreciate that an extra special deterrent would be required for crimes regarded as especially horrendous, which is how hanging, drawing and quartering came to be the usual sentence for traitors – as a concession to decency, women were burnt instead. Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators were duly hanged, drawn and quartered.

41

Matt 09.16.05 at 6:35 pm

I agree that this is a stupid and awful law. But, it’s worth noting that the US has, in this century, been perfectly willing to put people in jail for 10-20 years for engaging in what can only be considered political speech (criticizing the draft) or for being mere members of unpopular organizations, or studying the wrong texts. If you read the Shenck, Debbs, Whittney, Abrams, or Dennis cases you’ll see that, first amendment or not, we have our share of simialarly stupid laws and political prisoners.

42

Aidan Maconachy 09.16.05 at 6:36 pm

Bring it on! The hysterics and appeasers as usual are resorting to paranoia and hyperbole in an attempt to defend the indefensable in the name of free speech.

Go Tony … stick it to them!!

I along with millions of others, don’t want to listen to some terrorist enabling drone who has managed to worm his way onto the BBC, intone the praises of the London martyrs, Musab al Zawqari or any other deranged person who has committed criminal acts while in the grip of Jihad psychosis. How that is supposed to further democracy and sanctify us as “free people” escapes me … let alone help adversarial communities reach some kind of middle ground.

Keep in mind, this isn’t some right putsch either … Blair, according to his resume … is a socialist :)

43

jet 09.16.05 at 6:38 pm

Uncle Kvetch,
I’m not trying to provoke a reaction or start an arguement. I just wonder if can show a link to an example of the rhetoric used to defend the contras? The only defensive argument I’ve ever heard is that they were the least evil of many evil choices. I just can’t believe that anyone would hold up the contras as anything other than a sorry alternative to the genocidal (okay that was cheap) Marxists they were fighting.

44

maunga 09.16.05 at 6:41 pm

It is interesting that you should censor comments, allowing only those which conform to your political views. My blog was neither obscene nor an incitement to violence.

45

Nabakov 09.16.05 at 6:41 pm

And one of mine too, the fat terror-loving bastard.

46

Nabakov 09.16.05 at 6:46 pm

Jet, you comment ilustrates just how slippery it is to define terrorism sometimes. One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist and all that.

47

Nabakov 09.16.05 at 6:49 pm

Jet, your comment illustrates how slippery it can be to define terrorism. One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.

And despite what you think of the contras; cause, they sure behaved like terrorists.

Do you, like Lenin, believe the ends justify the means?

48

paul 09.16.05 at 7:04 pm

For the US, I expect that saying anything less than damning about the Klan and its associated death squads, or the SLA, the Black Panthers or the Weather Underground would be right up there. Then there’s Earth First and the Animal Liberation Front… The history of US policy with respect to Chile would pretty much be a blank…

But like a lot of others I also wonder just what “glorify” means in this context. Does there have to be something like reasoned argument involved, or are all those shirts and posters with pictures of Che fair game (or portraits of any suicide bomber or the cleric du jour, or, for the other side, ostentatious displays of the Union Jack)?

This seems like such a mindbendingly stupid proposal that it’s almost difficult to get a handle on how to talk about it.

49

jet 09.16.05 at 7:05 pm

nabakov,
I never described any party as “freedom fighters”. I believe that only Western liberty loving cultures are capable of producing freedom fighters, and Nicaragua was certainly not part of western culture. In hind sight, it may have made sense to support the contras given that the sandinistas were such more efficient killers (genocide anyone). But without the benefit of hindsight, the sandanistas and contras were equally evil and Reagan should have left it alone rather than side with one demon over another.

50

Matt Weiner 09.16.05 at 7:07 pm

Jet,
Here’s a Washington Post story that recalls Ronald Reagan’s description of the contras as “the moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers”–Uncle Kvetch was actually quoting Reagan.

Weirdly enough, when I Googled that phrase about half the top hits were references to the mujaheddin. The #1 hit, I’m pretty sure, is making a quote up.

(Nabakov, it seems Jet accepts that the Contras were terrorists, but is questioning how enthusiastic their supporters’ rhetoric was.)

51

Matt Weiner 09.16.05 at 7:08 pm

46 was posted before I saw 45.

52

Brian C.B. 09.16.05 at 7:15 pm

Just a guess, but I would anticipate that the armed resistance against the crown that most of us know as the American Revolution would slip past the censors, here. I’m not so sure, though, about the various assassinations in czarist Russia. That’s going to require some more serious discussion in government.

53

KCinDC 09.16.05 at 7:16 pm

I don’t understand, Jet. Are you claiming that the Reagan “moral equivalent of the founding fathers” quote is some sort of myth — that he never said it?

54

Nabakov 09.16.05 at 7:19 pm

Jet, you keep eliding the point being made about here about the contras: the fact that defining what they what are illustrates how impractical it’s gonna be to define “terrorism” under the proposed legislation.

55

jet 09.16.05 at 7:26 pm

Matt Weiner,
That Washington Post story (and google) is a real eye opener. How can power corrupt so thoroughly as to make someone betray their principles so completely?

56

jet 09.16.05 at 7:34 pm

Sorry about the slow responses, it’s wine day in my house and duty calls.

kcindc,
I have no idea how you came to that conclusion. I’m in no position to doubt the Washington Post on this. I’m sure he did say it, and when I sober up tomorrow, I’ll put it in my journal noting that he deserves a place in hell next to Johnson for being a damned power hungry sophist willing to make shit up to further his arguement.

nabakov,
I’m pretty sure I wasn’t eluding the point as I was being an obnoxious drunk [it is Friday after all], but I think that the idea of this law is total bullshit. I’ve been on CT before argueing against European laws against Nazi [although I believe all Nazi’s should hang, if only in the afterlife] speech, and I’m certainly against this one. I’m sure lawyers can make some soothing noises about this law being properly applied by learned men who know “right from wrong” but that is bullshit. This law may not be abused at first, but history shows that it will be eventually. Sooner or later an MP will use it to protect his ass.

57

Fernan Carrière 09.16.05 at 7:35 pm

Was the American Revolution legal? How would Paul Revere be branded, given today’s definitions?

Let’s take today’s paradigm and apply them to yesterday’s situation. How would we judge the American Revolution?

Nelson Mandela was not considered to be a Freedom Fighter by the current USA VP not very long ago. Should he have remained in jail?

General Franco overthrew a legally elected regime in Spain with an army composed of mercenaries with the support of fascist regimes and the benevolent neutrality of democratic regimes. How would this be judged by today’s standards?

58

bellatrys 09.16.05 at 7:44 pm

Are they going to punish people who praise the Met for doing such a good job shooting random people on the way to work, or the Black & Tans in the Troubles? Just to start with–

What *is* it with New Labour and Thoughtcrime, anyway? It’s bad enough that they’re Airstrip One in all practical ways, do they have to go voluntarily down the subjective ones as well? I think Ship of Fools answered them pretty well the last time they did this kind of fool stunt–

59

Anodyne 09.16.05 at 7:56 pm

Matt,

“But, it’s worth noting that the US has, in this century, been perfectly willing to put people in jail for 10-20 years for engaging in what can only be considered political speech …”

None of the cases you referred to in your comment occurred in this century and my impression is that all of them would be unlikely to be pursued under current sedition laws. US law pertaining to the First Amendment has evolved in a manner that raises the bar for limiting speech. One point of my earlier comment was to suggest that since 9/11 there have been remarkably few attempts to pass laws in the US that would reverse that trend. I could be wrong about that and I was wondering whether anyone knew of any instances where legislation has been introduced or existing laws have been in enforced in a way that could be construed as a reversal.

I do seem to recall a case in which a lawyer spent some time in jail for illegally aiding a client accused of plotting a terrorist act, but the details are fuzzy.

60

Hamish 09.16.05 at 8:04 pm

Looks like we’ll have to stop celebrating “Australia Day” which commemorates the forced takeover of a continent by British interests , commencing in 1778 and still ongoing, to the great detriment of the Aboriginal population.

61

Glen Tomkins 09.16.05 at 8:19 pm

Among terrorists you forgot to mention:
1. The folks who tried to assassinate Hitler in 1944.
2. The folks who carried out the Boston Tea Party (bonus points because they were terrorising loyal subjects of the Crown)
3. Francis Marion and other Revolutionary War guerrillas (ditto the above on crimes against the Crown).
4. The mujahadin who brought down the Soviet Empire.
5. The Contras in Nicaragua.
6. Jewish partisans in Eastern Europe in WWII, their French counterparts of the Maquis.

A regular rogues’ gallery…

62

Matt 09.16.05 at 8:27 pm

Anodyen,
You’re right on the dates. Damned centuries creeping up on me… They did happen less than 100, and for Dennis only 54 years ago. (I sometimes forget it’s not the 20th century anymore.) But, I’m pretty sympathetic to Justice Douglas’s remark that in practice the first amendment has (and likely will) work like an accordion- expanding in “safe” times and contracting in “dangerous” ones. My point was only that claims that we in the US don’t have to worry about such dumb laws since we have the first amendment are probably too hasty and not necessarily supported by history. If, for example, the Republicans win again in the next presidential election, and Ginsberg and Stevens are replaced by Scalia clones, I’m fairly sure we’d see the first amendment contract again.

63

Dan Simon 09.16.05 at 8:36 pm

I agree with most of the commentators here that outlawing the “glorification” of terrorism is dangerously vague. But it might be worthwhile to consider the problem that the law is clearly meant to address, and explore whether there are better ways to address it.

The problem, put simply, is that sophisticated modern terrorist organizations operating in free countries routinely employ front groups that perform recruiting, fundraising and logistical support for their terrorist cores. These fronts claim not to be involved in terrorism themselves, but serve as essential gateways for channeling money, personnel and assistance to terrorist cells. Key to their operations is their ability to “glorify” terrorism while denying involvement in it: it allows them to operate freely, keeping a high profile and attracting potential recruits; to gauge the seriousness of recruits and supporters carefully before revealing any secrets about terrorist operations to them; and to operate in the open financially on a fairly large scale, obtaining the necessary contributions of cash and assistance from ostensibly law-abiding supporters with a wink and a nod, while serving as a protective cocoon for the terrorist group itself.

The most prominent current users of this technique are various radical Islamist groups, but anyone familiar with the modern history of terrorism will recognize the pattern from numerous past examples. Given the spectacular success of this front-based approach to organized terrorism, and the manifest failure of the authorities to deal with it effectively in the past, it’s not surprising that the British have, in the wake of 7/11, decided to ratchet up the pressure on terrorist front groups. The particular measure of outlawing “glorification” of terrorism may well cast its net dangerously wide, but I wonder what the alternatives are, and what readers here would think of them. I’m inclined to believe, for instance, that aggressive surveillance, of the kind that usually draws brickbats from civil liberties types, is safer in the long run–in terms of both political freedom and protection from terrorism. But I wonder what the commentators here would think of that approach….

64

maunga 09.16.05 at 9:03 pm

Redwolf —- not true, (that the Jews drove out the British from Palestine), but then apologists for Israel lie like their fellow trolls the neocons in their attempts to justify the genocide and state terrorism practised against the people who have always belonged in Palestine and are not the possible descendants of a small number who left in approximately 77AD. When are you leaving the US and going back where you decide your ancestors lived in 77AD?

65

herostratus 09.16.05 at 9:12 pm

Um.

I’m assuming that the law is designed mainly to prevent Islamic clerics from praising events such as the London Subway Bombings or 9/11.

There are 60 posts above, and none of them seem to show any appreciation of this. Every other poster has seemed to assume, or pretended to assume, that this law just came out of the blue and is to be applied to Guy Falkes and the like.

Note that any event over 20 years past is exempt, unless specified. I presume the Holocaust might be specified, and probably few if any other events.

Because they are not social problems. You see, the law is intended to deal with the actual social problem of (a few) Muslim clerics praising terrorism and encouraging an environment in the sometimes quite insular mosque communities where some young men might get the wrong idea about where honor and glory lie.

If someone writes Boo-Yah For The Contras on his 3-reader website, so what? That is not a social problem and the Home Secretary frankly won’t give a rat’s ass. Does anyone on this site actually think that the Home Secretary is going to include the storming of the Bastille or whatever on the proscribed list. Then why are you pretending that. It contributes to no reasoned discussion.

Whether the law is proper or workable I don’t know. That it might be used in questionable cases for which it was not intended is a risk, certainly, as with many laws.

I wonder, then, what law you all would propose. Perhaps someone has an actual, useful seggestion about how the law might be modified to reduce this risk.

I agree that the response to the London bombings and the situation that they exposed should be reasoned and fair and proportional.

I do not agree that the response should be to do nothing and to pretend that nothing is wrong.

66

rea 09.16.05 at 9:19 pm

John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave,
John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave,
His truth goes marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah,
Glory, glory, hallelujah,
His truth goes marching on.

67

The Blue Nomad 09.16.05 at 9:26 pm

By my calculation, Rambo III – where Rambo and Bin Laden and his band of merry mujahadeen Islamist crazies – singlehandedly repel the Soviet occupation (actually I never saw the movie but I’m guessing this is what it is about) was made seventeen years ago. Does this count as glorifying terrorism?

68

Mike M. 09.16.05 at 9:47 pm

As much as I love Europe and want to live there, I think that their iggest weakness, which is the result of age and attrocities committed there, is their lack of free speech protection, especially their lack of protection for offensive speech. They have their reasons, but they’ve also given something up.

69

Maximus 09.16.05 at 9:58 pm

Who, if not ‘some politician’ – elected, incidently, in a liberal democracy – should decide what to ‘glorify’? Perhaps a pro Bin Laden rally in Trafalgar square will be more in the spirit of ‘a free society’?

Yes, we need this law, to stop the numerous daily pro bin Laden rallies currently happening in Trafalgar square!

–WTF are you talking about? Take your straw man argument elsewhere. Free citizens should decide for themselves who to glorify, not politicians. We don’t elect people to do our “glorifying” for us.

70

Maximus 09.16.05 at 10:00 pm

But without the benefit of hindsight, the sandanistas and contras were equally evil and Reagan should have left it alone rather than side with one demon over another.

Those pesky brown devils… they’re all the same!

71

Matt_C 09.16.05 at 10:05 pm

Regarding the Debs case and sundry other instances of anti-war speech being criminalized during the first world war: yes, it’s true that the general interpretation of the 1st amendment has broadened since then, but it’s also good to remember that Oliver Wendell Holmes’ famous “can’t shout fire in a crowded theater” limitation on free speech, which is generally considered a “common sense” measurement, was made in during a decision UPHOLDING the Sedition Act and the jailing of draft opponents. It is not impossible to imagine a near American future which that sort of logic makes sense again

72

Henry 09.16.05 at 10:50 pm

“Who fears to speak of ’98″:http://www.deochandorais.de/misc/98songs.htm#memory_of_the_dead as it were.

73

Bruce Wilder 09.17.05 at 12:44 am

An absurd law, to be sure, but Britain has a number of absurd laws regarding freedom of the press and of speech.

Blasphemy is illegal in Britain, for example. No making fun of Jesus.

You might not guess from the way the London Press chases after royals, but Britian has lese majeste laws on the books, and they are (sometimes) actually enforced. No British paper, for example, could actually report that a former servant to Prince Charles claimed that he once walked in on the Prince getting a blowjob from his valet.

Then, there’s the Official Secrets Act. The government can declare almost anything a “secret”, even things, which are not secret, by any reasonable definition, and thus, prevent their publication. Margaret Thatcher declared the menu at a State dinner an Official Secret to prevent editorial comment on its sumptiousness at a time of privations among the poor.

None of this touches on British libel law, which is much abused by plantiffs.

Why Britain has a undeserved reputation for legally free speech and free press, when those were American innovations, I can only wonder.

74

Locutus of Bork 09.17.05 at 1:21 am

Does this mean that any member of the Bush administration who was involved in elevating Osama and Zarqawi to the level of comic-book supervillains can get arrested?

75

abb1 09.17.05 at 2:55 am

Meanwhile in NewEngland:

Wiretap mosques, Romney suggests

”How many individuals are coming to our state and going to those institutions who have come from terrorist-sponsored states?” he said, referring to foreign students who attend universities in Massachusetts. ”Do we know where they are? Are we tracking them?”

”How about people who are in settings — mosques, for instance — that may be teaching doctrines of hate and terror,” Romney continued. ”Are we monitoring that? Are we wiretapping? Are we following what’s going on?”

The Heritage audience was highly receptive to Romney yesterday, giving him a rousing welcome and lengthy applause as he concluded his remarks. The foundation promotes study of issues important to conservatives.

76

bad Jim 09.17.05 at 3:18 am

Hence:

Shakespeare’s acting troupe, the Chamberlain’s Men, were commissioned by the Earl of Essex to stage “Richard II” at the Globe on February 7, 1601. Essex’s rebellion against Queen Elizabeth occurred on the following day, and it was believed that Essex tried to use Shakespeare’s play to encourage the people to revolt. Elizabeth herself said “I am Richard II, know ye not that?”. Essex was executed on February 25.

Somehow I had the idea that the bard’s company performed Julius Caesar on that occasion, which would have been a more straightforward glorification of terrorism.

77

John Quiggin 09.17.05 at 3:39 am

An obvious question is whether glorification of terrorist acts by states (including illegal resort to war) falls under the ban.

78

Natalie Solent 09.17.05 at 3:45 am

Herostratus in comment #65 writes: “I wonder, then, what law you all would propose. Perhaps someone has an actual, useful suggestion about how the law might be modified to reduce this risk.” [i.e. the specific risk of Muslim clerics inciting terrorism.]

My answer to that is that the specific risk of Muslim terrorism – which I agree is the overwhelming threat facing us at present – is reduced, not increased, by allowing free speech to Muslim fanatics. That which must be said in secret gains an attractive aura. It cannot be argued against, or mocked.

Societies that have freedom of speech are generally more peaceful than societies that don’t. They have fewer racial and religious conflicts, pogroms etc. And less terrorism.

Furthermore when fanatics are banned from speaking the security service loses valuable intelligence, not just about individuals but about the general climate of opinion in circles likely to turn to terrorism.

And, as many other commenters have said, this law will not stay limited for long. It is too tempting.

79

James Wimberley 09.17.05 at 4:00 am

Another example: the assassination by the Czech resistance in June 1942 of Reinhard Heydrich, Protector of Bohemia and Moravia and one of the architects of the Final Solution.

80

Chris Lightfoot 09.17.05 at 4:56 am

“An obvious question is whether glorification of terrorist acts by states (including illegal resort to war) falls under the ban.”

The law uses the definition of “terrorism” from the Terrorism Act 2000, which covers almost anything, including all of the examples in #61 and numerous others, including the invasion of Iraq. The new Bill does bring in the twenty-year limit, and requires that prosecutions are authorised by the Director of Public Prosecutions (so we won’t see members of the armed forces being prosecuted by “peace groups” for their activities in Iraq), but otherwise it’s completely unsatisfactory.

81

Bob B 09.17.05 at 5:06 am

Natalie,

In the news today, I read that:

“BRITAIN is desperate to avoid a diplomatic row with Israel after Ariel Sharon apparently snubbed an invitation from Tony Blair to visit London, claiming that he feared arrest.”
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1784018,00.html

All of which may convince some that antisemitism is deeply embedded in Britain – except that:

“Israeli leader Ariel Sharon has been branded a ‘war criminal’ and a ‘fool’ by former Labour minister Gerald Kaufman.

“In a blistering attack, the veteran MP, who is Jewish, said Mr Sharon had reduced his country to an ‘international pariah’ whose actions were staining the Star of David with blood. . . “
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/1933309.stm

“Britain’s chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, today delivers an unprecedentedly strong warning to Israel, arguing that the country is adopting a stance ‘incompatible’ with the deepest ideals of Judaism, and that the current conflict with the Palestinians is ‘corrupting’ Israeli culture. . . “
http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,2763,781113,00.html

82

Backword Dave 09.17.05 at 5:20 am

Soru (at #11): You can’t even write down a set of rules for playing a game as simple as chess.

Are you sure about this? You know, it’s very easy to recognise cheating in chess; and find universal agreement when someone does cheat. But there are rules written down. Also, my Mac plays (very good) chess.

Don’t write apparently neutral and universal rules that, if applied universally and neutrally, would be disastrous. I think there’s a tautology at play here. (Anyway, it seems to break down to “Don’t write … rules that, if applied universally and neutrally, would be disastrous.”) It seems you don’t like the idea of a neutral, disinterested law, and your problem lies with applying rules “universally and neutrally”. So: one law for us and another for them?

I find genuinely puzzling the popularity of the idea that you can write down in advance a complete, optimal perscription for managing complicated political tradeoffs between individual liberty and collective safety. How can any adult believe such a thing?
Only idiots with a recipe for a doomed Utopia.

83

Sean 09.17.05 at 5:55 am

ermm I think everyone should calm down just a little bit – the “glorifying terrorism” part of this proposed legislation is just that – it’s a proposal the chances of something so woolley and ill defined actually becomin law are pracically nil.

an aside to bob b at number 80

perhaps I misunderstand you but it seems you cite these things as evidence of “anti-semitism”?

Jonathon Sachs is an anti semite?

really?

84

Grandma Lausch 09.17.05 at 5:55 am

Is ‘Bob’ saying that Jews who slander Israel, Kaufman-style, are immune from accusations of anti-Semitism? As recently as 20 years ago there was a whole anti-Zionist committee in Moscow made up of kaufmans. And the chief Jewish ‘expert’ during 1930s purges in the Soviet Union was one Lazar Kaganovitch, son of a rabbi.

L’affaire Sacks is of course an old pair of pants. Straight after the Guardian interview, a couple of years ago, the chief rabbi made clear that he had been set up by Jonathan Freedland and his views distorted, as you would expect from the Guardian’s lead yodeller.

Sharon at Her Majesty’s pleasure? A good idea. And don’t let him out until he taught Tony how to fight terrorism

85

Brendan 09.17.05 at 7:00 am

How about, on the day that this worthless law is passed, a public protest: outside Number 10 or parliament, in which a group of us stand and praise various acts of terrorism and then wait to be arrested?

I might add that one of the posters above would seem to be wrong. According to Jonathan Freedland in today’s Guardian, at least some of the events that it will be forbidden to praise will be over 20 years old.

Failing that, how about a law making it illegal to praise imperialism and colonialism (i.e. the British Empire), as both Blair and Brown have done recently? The precedent here could be Germany’s law making it illegal to praise the Holocaust and aspects of Nazi-ism (displaying the swastika etc.).

86

Matt McGrattan 09.17.05 at 7:12 am

Brendan, I’d sign up for that – standing outside Number 10 doing a bit of glorifying.

In fact, if someone was to, say, set up a Pledgebank pledge to do exactly that, I’d be happy to sign it…

87

Syd Webb 09.17.05 at 7:30 am

The highly respected John Quiggan asks,

An obvious question is whether glorification of terrorist acts by states (including illegal resort to war) falls under the ban.

If we support the state monopoly on violence, as we must, then clearly state acts of killing are not terrorism.

Thus in Chris Bertram’s original post:

* The assassination by Mossad of Palestinian leaders in foreign countries.

and

* The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior by the French secret service in 1985.

are not terrorism and can be freely glorified as responsible state actions and not the crazed killings carried out by individual actors.

HTH

88

abb1 09.17.05 at 7:41 am

Grandma,
is there really any doubt that Mr. Sharon is a criminal personally responsible for the well known act of genocide in Sabra and Shatila? I thought even the official investigation conducted by the Israeli government admitted that much. That happened over 20 years ago though, so it might’ve been a glorious event after all.

89

Natalie Solent 09.17.05 at 7:49 am

Bob B, I confess I really do not understand what point you are making in comment #80. I do not mean this sarcastically or insultingly.

90

Bob B 09.17.05 at 7:53 am

Grandma Lausch: “Sharon at Her Majesty’s pleasure? A good idea. And don’t let him out until he taught Tony how to fight terrorism”

You really think Tony Blair should have ordered the bombing and bulldozing of Dewsbury and the Beeston district of Leeds in Yorkshire?

What an interesting idea. Mind you, I don’t think that would go down too well with other Labour voters and there are some here who, mistakenly or otherwise, regard torture as a universal crime:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/766746.stm

91

otto 09.17.05 at 8:15 am

Mrs Tilton writes:

“Otto writes:

it’s always possible to resist the spiritual and temporal powers without … employing violence at all….

Quite. But that doesn’t really address Chris’s point at all now, does it?

I wish more people would try it.

If you are the Otto who has been commenting on afoe, I wonder whether you wish the July 20 conspirators had tried it.”

My comment as a whole: “Well, it’s always possible to resist the spiritual and temporal powers without targetting civilians, or indeed employing violence at all for that matter. I wish more people would try it.” was addressed to the point of Jason K’s post @2 (FYI sometimes comments refer to earlier comments, not the original post). The July 20 conspirators certainly targetted no civilians, which is perhaps the most important point re. terrorism. Of course in most political situations, but not re. Hitler, usually a lot of progress can be achieved without violence at all.

Btw, if your implication here was that someone who argues that German Turks vote according to their position in the German labour market (and thus aren’t potentially available to the CDU even tho many have conservative social views), must somehow be suspected of wildly reactionary views of German history, then I am sorry that my disagreement with your afoe post seems to have demented you and you should close comments on your afoe posts for your own calm of mind. Of course, if that’s not your implication, then no problem.

92

doran 09.17.05 at 8:23 am

these terroristic events should be on the list: The murders at Kent State by National Guard soldiers; every massacre of American Indians by the US Army and by civilians; the killings at Waco, Texas by FBI and other governmental forces; the murders of Black Activists by US police; the murders at Ruby Ridge by FBI sharpshooters; the Oklahoma City bombing; the bombings of abortion clinics; the criminal war against Iraq started by the Bush Administration.

93

Brian C.B. 09.17.05 at 8:42 am

I would assume that discussing the Boston Tea Party in certain United Kingdom circles will now be a punishable offense.

94

Sean 09.17.05 at 9:01 am

Grandma Lausch at #83

Apparently nobody is immune from accusations of antisemitism – at least not when these accusations are a convenient expedient to evade serious and legitimate criticism.

Unfortunately for all of us this is often the case. How sad.

For example – I’d probably say that dropping a 1 ton bomb on an apartment block at midnight was terrorism. Am I antisemitic too?

95

Brendan 09.17.05 at 9:04 am

‘In fact, if someone was to, say, set up a Pledgebank pledge to do exactly that, I’d be happy to sign it…’

What does everyone else think? Is anyone else up for it? I certainly am…..

96

Randy Paul 09.17.05 at 12:29 pm

Will it be illegal to praise the following events?

Even if isn’t illegal and you do praise them, it makes it impossible to excuse such acts as this:

In Lillehammer, Norway, on 07 January 1974, Mossad agents mistakenly killed Ahmad Boushiki, an Algerian waiter carrying a Moroccan passport, whom they mistook for PLO security head Ali Ahmad Salameh, believed to have masterminded the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics [Salameh was killed in a 1979 car-bomb explosion in Lebanon]. Following the attack, the Mossad agents were arrested and tried before a Norwegian court. Five Israeli agents were convicted and served short jail sentences, though Israel denied responsibility for the murder. In February 1996, the Israeli government agreed to compensate the family of Ahmad Boushiki.

Blowback is also not limited to the US (from the same link):

On 24 September 1997, Mossad operatives attempted to assassinate Khalid Meshaal, a top political leader of the Palestinian group Hamas. The assassins entered Jordan on fake Canadian [passports], and injected Meshaal with a poison. Jordan was able to wring a number of concessions out of Israel in the aftermath of the fiasco, including the release of the founder of Hamas, Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, from an Israeli jail.

I’m sure the extremists on both left and right will find some way to justify their own acts of terrorism.

97

maunga 09.17.05 at 12:42 pm

Dear Grandma, ‘Israel’, has no historic right to exist, nor economic, nor political, (an economic colony of the US), is a terrorist state. Sharon is an internationally declared war criminal: two of its previous PMs, Begin and Shamir, publically acknowledged their terrorist acts: neither dared even enter Brtitish air space. Two other PMs were fellow travellers.

BTW, “Anti-semitisim” is a further blurring by the Zionist lobby. Arabs, which includes the original and present owners of Palestine, are Semites. It must be arguable as to whether 2,000 years of cross-breeding in Northern Europe really and truly entitles modern (European) Jewry to claim semitism. Read The Bible Unearthed or The View From Mt Nebo.

Also BTW, the Boston Tea Party was staged by smugglers who were Very Upset that the home (English) government had greatly reduced the tea tax.

I wrote last night, but it was not posted, that the Blearies are all from the Red Stalinist 60s, so they are instilled with Stalinist Control mores.

The inflammatory aspects of Bliar’s proposal will be greatly softened by the House and something will appear on the statute book which will no doubt be an infringement on the present colossal freedoms, but in these times it seems necessary to do something. At least it is unlikely to go so far as to force the public libraries to keep a record of what everyone borrows for ten years as is the case in the USA.

98

jet 09.17.05 at 1:32 pm

Maunga,
Samuel Adams was a tea smuggler?

There weren’t any Jews in Palestine for 2,000 years up until the creation of Israel?

Anti-semitisim” is a creation of the “Zionist lobby” and not merely a term for anti-jewish actions that go back thousands of years(note the frequent massacres of Jewish colonies)?

You certainly offer some interesting persectives, but I find them a bit hard to believe.

99

Michael 09.17.05 at 1:49 pm

What about the actions of Umkhonto weSizwe, the military arm of the ANC, during the anti-apartheid struggle?

100

Natalie Solent 09.17.05 at 2:03 pm

I am still a bit mystified as to how this thread got onto the subject of anti-semitism at all. It seems to have been triggered by Bob B’s comment addressed to me (previously #80, now #81). I have tried to figure out that comment and I now think Bob B was making a point about the difficulty of defining controversial words like “terrorism” and “anti-semitism”.

I agree that it can sometimes be difficult to agree wether certain acts are terrorist, or anti-semitic, or whatever. I also think that at other times it is quite easy to tell. However the point I want to make is that it is a mistake to think that the difficulty of definition is the main objection to the proposed new law, although it is a valid objection.

As far as I am concerned the first objection is that the proposed abridges everyone’s rights. The second objection is that even if it is targeted soley at Muslim fanatics it will make them more fanatical not less.

101

peteb 09.17.05 at 2:53 pm

I’d suggest that there is a, rather obvious, act of terrorism that would indicate the arbitrary nature of the 20 year rule, as well as the lack of thought in general behind this amendment.. the bombing, and attempted assassination of the elected government of the time, of the Brighton Grand Hotel in 1984.

102

Barry Freed 09.17.05 at 2:56 pm

Gee, terrorism sure is swell. All the cool kids are doing it. You want to be cool, don’t you?

103

Dan Simon 09.17.05 at 5:31 pm

“How about people who are in settings—mosques, for instance—that may be teaching doctrines of hate and terror,” Romney continued. ‘’Are we monitoring that? Are we wiretapping? Are we following what’s going on?”

I’m glad to see we agree, Abb1–this sort of thing is clearly both necessary and far more likely to be effective at identifying and disrupting terrorist front organizations than any crude ban on vaguely-defined classes of rhetoric.

104

Bob B 09.17.05 at 6:43 pm

Natalie,

IMO it was a big mistake to paint any who (dared) criticise the policies of the Israeli state as antisemites.

Remember who killed Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 and why? The massacre of civilians at Qibya in 1953 was inflicted at night by soldiers in military uniform under the command of Ariel Sharon – reference: Avi Shlaim: The Iron Wall – Israel and the Arab World (Penguin Books, 2001)

105

Donald Johnson 09.17.05 at 7:48 pm

Jet, where do you get this notion that the Sandinistas were guilty of genocide? They were corrupt and repressive and sometimes murderous, but “genocide” doesn’t really apply, unless we use the term in that very loose way ideologues have in referring to any atrocity committed by a government they don’t like. I don’t doubt you can scrounge up some rightwingers who use the term but then I can find lefties who talk of Israel’s brutal treatment of the Palestinians as “genocide” with an equal level of accuracy. The word only really applies in Central America in the 80’s to Guatemala’s treatment of its Mayan Indians, when Reagan was enthusiastically defending their human rights record.

106

maunga 09.17.05 at 9:02 pm

Jet, I am sorry, perhaps I was not clear enough. My point is that the term “Anti-semitism/semitic” is rather modern and is used as a synonym for ‘Anti-Jew”, which is wrong since Arabs are also Semites.

107

abb1 09.18.05 at 1:58 am

Comrade Simon,
I disagree that wiretapping mosques is likely to be effective. Saboteurs and enemies of the people are not stupid, and they certainly read the Globe – they will move their meeting outside the mosques.

We need to wiretap all conversations; each and every conversation that happens, there is no other way. To suggest wiretapping only the mosques is, in fact, an act of treason; Comrade Romney is objectively on the side of the Taliban here.

108

Matt McGrattan 09.18.05 at 3:22 am

“‘In fact, if someone was to, say, set up a Pledgebank pledge to do exactly that, I’d be happy to sign it…’

What does everyone else think? Is anyone else up for it? I certainly am…..”

Brendan, I’m definitely up for it. If you are interested in taking it further, maybe email me? (matthew DOT mcgrattan AT philosophy.ox.ac.uk)

109

Mrs Tilton 09.18.05 at 6:19 am

No, Otto; my implication here is that somebody who regards the Union’s recognition of the need to play to the anti-Turkish bigotry of its base with equanimity because, hey, ‘the Turks’ (the lot of ‘em, apparently) are going to vote SPD ‘in any conceivable circumstances’ may safely be expected to harbour all sorts of wildly reactionary ideas. No big deal, though; lots of CDU-Anhänger do.

And thanks, but comments will remain open at afoe, and you remain welcome to speak there. The threshold for a banning is somewhat to the right of the CDU.

110

Natalie Solent 09.18.05 at 6:42 am

Bob B says: “IMO it was a big mistake to paint any who (dared) criticise the policies of the Israeli state as antisemites.”

Why, thank you for telling me that holding an opinion I have never held was a big mistake.

I still don’t see the relevance to a thread about proposed criminalisation of certain historical views. Don’t feel obliged to explain.

111

otto 09.18.05 at 7:40 am

Mrs Tilton:
If you can’t take disagreement with parts of your analysis without being prompted into making wild, nay demented, accusations of bigotry, then political blogging with comments, or any form of intellectual inquiry, is really not for you. Ad hominem intemperateness and useful discussion do not mix. Go and drunkenly shout at yourself instead if you must. Chasing people down on other blogs and making criticisms of their posts there without reading the previous ones that they are responding to suggests that hasty irritation got the better of you yesterday. Maybe the election tension is getting to you and all will be well next week?

One other point: Most arguments advance by people disagreeing with part of what others have just said. I never defended e.g. Kauder’s comments. I just pointed out that 1. demand for redistribution frequently dominates demand for social conservatism so that the CDU would not be the ‘natural home’ for German Turks you suggested and 2. enforcing laws on dual citizenship was not good evidence of racist pathology (which you then seemed to agree on). That’s it. So you really have no basis for suggesting that I “regard the Union’s recognition of the need to play to the anti-Turkish bigotry of its base with equanimity”, unless you think that disputing any part of an analysis is a mere subterfuge for unspeakable disagreements with the parts that are not criticised. That’s a common view, of course, but it doesn’t make for a profitable conversation.

112

Brendan 09.18.05 at 9:06 am

Matt
I’m on holiday at the moment, but will be back on the 27th. I will contact you then.

Brendan

113

Mrs Tilton 09.18.05 at 3:06 pm

Otto,

I think I’ll have one more go at this before taking up your advice to get drunk and shout at myself.

And yes, perhaps electoral tension does have me on tenterhooks, even though (or perhaps rather, specifically because) I am relegated to an observer’s role.

You didn’t defend Kauder’s remark. But nor did you attack it. I doubt very much that Kauder is personally a racist. But that simply makes him all the worse; just as Dick Cheney is probably no homophobe, but is willing to cavil at homophobia for electoral benefit. Insofar as I understand the ideals ‘Christian democracy’ purports to champion, I should have expected any decent supporter of the Union to be all over Kauder’s remark. You weren’t, though. (In fairness, I have some friends who strongly support the Union and absolutely hate that sort of thing.)

Also suspect is your amazing lumping of all German Turks into a single monolithic group, as well as the apparent implied support for discrimination (that another respondent pointed out). Here I am wiling to give you the benefit of the doubt and presume, absent further evidence, that this was down merely to linguistic imprecision on your part.

What remains, however you might like to spin things, is that the Union parties in Germany are, to an extent that should be inconceivable in the post-Nazi world, völkisch belastet. There is no possible excuse for that.

In the unlikely event you wish to continue this chat, we should do it at afoe or else by email; we are wandering much too far OT here. To touch briefly back on topic, though I agree with you that the 20.7. conspirators didn’t target innocent civilians (though truly innocent German civilians would have been few and far between in those days). But most cases aren’t quite so clear cut. One of the examples cited was ETA’s ridding Spain of Franco’s designated successor. I have no use for ETA. They are normally little more concerned about innocent civilians than are the IRA; and indeed, though I do not generally like violence, it is a pity that insufficient violence has been brought to bear on ETA. But this particular act was a service to decency, no matter who performed it. So tell us, would it have been better had Franco’s plans not been disrupted as they were?

114

otto 09.18.05 at 3:52 pm

“I should have expected any decent supporter of the Union to be all over Kauder’s remark. You weren’t, though.”

The purpose of blog comments is not to say Yes!Yes!Yes! to parts of posts you agree with. BTW I am not a CDU supporter. Maybe the inaccurate assumption that I was has been the cause of all your rancour, and your irritation with me for things that I do not say? That assumption is rather amusing given your thoughts about generalisations below. I am not defending, nor do I have a responsibility to defend, anything except what I write. Your assumption here betrays your childishly personal and ad hominem way of arguing and, perhaps, thinking.

“amazing lumping of all German Turks into a single monolithic group, as well as the apparent implied support for discrimination”

A remarkable and bizarre comment. When talking about German Turks as a group, I make generalisations, of course, as I did with regard to several other groups. So did you, just less plausible ones. And the suggestion that there was any support for discrimination WHATSOEVER implied is another disgrace for your intellect, and further evidence for a casual approach to insulting people, just when I thought it was not possible for you go further. Arguing that disadvantaged ethnic groups commonly vote their interests in redistribution rather than their social conservatism in no ways whatsoever implies approval for the sources of their disadvantage (duh!), which obviously include discrimination (duh!).

115

Grandma Lausch 09.19.05 at 7:07 am

abb1 at 88: in the civilised part of the world a ‘criminal’ is someone convicted in a criminal court. The ‘official investigation’, ie the Kahan commission, was not a criminal trial. And it didn’t accuse Sharon of ‘criminal responsibility’.

Bob b at 90: Relax: Dewsbury and Beeston are safe from bulldozing at the moment. However, Tony is obviously learning from the Israelis: a senior Met policeman was in Jerusalem last week for a few lessons from Israeli cops. I guess some Labour voters regard blowing up the Tube as a ‘universal crime’.

sean at 94: Dropping bombs at midnight (or midday for that matter) and causing collateral damage is not terrorism per se. Targeting innocent civilians is. As for anti-Semitism, double standards applied to Jews/Israel is a useful rule of thumb.

maunga at 97: Oy vey, boychik. What did they put into your chicken soup?!

116

Chris Lightfoot 09.19.05 at 7:26 am

Dropping bombs at midnight (or midday for that matter) and causing collateral damage is not terrorism per se.

This simply is not true in the case of the proposed legislation.

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jet 09.19.05 at 8:29 am

Donald Johnson,
There were no Contras in the East, only the “counter-revolutionary” Miskitos. And we all know how Socialism/Communism/Marxism deals with counter-revolutionaries. Go educate yourself.

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abb1 09.19.05 at 11:57 am

abb1 at 88: in the civilised part of the world a ‘criminal’ is someone convicted in a criminal court. The ‘official investigation’, ie the Kahan commission, was not a criminal trial. And it didn’t accuse Sharon of ‘criminal responsibility’.

According to dictionary.com as well as webster.com, in the civilised part of the world a ‘criminal’ is…

One that has committed or been legally convicted of a crime.

So, keep working on your lawyering skills, Grandma.

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Donald Johnson 09.19.05 at 5:45 pm

Oh good grief, Jet, I know the Sandinistas were guilty of atrocities against the Miskitos. I’m old enough to have read about them at the time. It’s a question of scale and no reputable human rights organization ever said that what the Sandinistas did to the Miskitos was comparable in scale to what what happening in Guatemala or El Salvador. It was more like the level of state violence you had in Honduras at the time (when Negroponte was covering up for their military.) Apparently you have no evidence for your assertion, or rather, you have the sort of evidence that says that because the Sandinistas and Stalin were both Marxists, they were both guilty of genocide. I’ll leave it to you to figure out the flaw in your “logic”.

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jet 09.19.05 at 6:36 pm

Donald Johnson,
“Apparently you have no evidence for your assertion…” So you dispute that hundreds of Misktos were murdered and then nearly half the population sent to camps or fled accross the border out of a total population of only ~75,000?

I guess in your eyes it can’t be genocide if it is just a small tribe of native Americans in Central America and the aggressors help make Reagan look bad. But you’d probably have a different take on the matter if it was a small tribe murdered and displaced by the 19th century US government. And I love all your flack you throw up about the other horrible things going on in order to make the “tiny” matter of the Miskotos not so bad in comparison. If it was genocide in Kosovo, then it was genocide in Nicaragua.

“the sort of evidence that says that because the Sandinistas and Stalin were both Marxists, they were both guilty of genocide.” Yeah, obviously the lesson to be drawn from the Moskitos is that if the Sandinistas would have been as powerful as Stalin they would have been absolutely nothing like him, right? Is that the “flaw” in my logic? The free fire zones, the bombing of civilians, the mass starvations, is that the difference?

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Donald Johnson 09.20.05 at 12:32 am

Jet, the question here is whether what the Sandinistas did to the Miskitos should be called genocide. They forcibly moved them, partly in response to contra attacks (by Miskitos, something you don’t seem to know about) which killed civilians. The Sandinistas killed civilians themselves. The Sandinistas were quite brutal, as I mentioned earlier and all this is bad, both what the contras did and what the Sandinistas did, but neither qualifies as “genocide” unless you want to stretch the term to include atrocities found in almost every war. (The fact that they are found in almost every war doesn’t make them okay, but it also doesn’t make them genocide.) You’re the one who said that the contras might have been the lesser of two evils, because of the “genocide” of the Sandinistas. Well, if I wanted to play by your definition, I could call what the contras did “genocide”–they targeted civilians too. But it’s the scale I’m talking about. When you talk as though the contra terrorism was justified when compared to the Sandinista “genocide”, you clearly imagine that there’s some vast difference in the scale of the atrocities. If anything, the contra atrocities were larger. I could accuse you of downplaying the contra atrocities, but unlike you, I try not to make false accusations. You did denounce the contra atrocities–you just mistakenly think that the Sandinistas did to the Miskitos what Reagan’s pal Rios Montt did to the Mayan Indians in Guatemala.

But if you want to count the treatment of the Miskito Indians as genocide, then the contra attacks were genocidal, the Honduran death squads (tiny compared to what was going on in El Salvador and Guatemala) were genocidal, and what happened in Guatemala was ultra, super genocidal. The Vietnam War was genocidal on a monstrous level–I’d almost be willing to defend that proposition, but Daniel Ellsberg disagreed, though literally millions of Vietnamese peasants were bombed out of their homes. Some of America’s actions in Iraq are “genocidal” by your definition (see Fallujah). What Israel did in 1948 more than qualifies as genocide, by the Jet definition–they massacred hundreds of Palestinians and forced the majority (hundreds of thousands) from their homes and in the later stages of the war, they did this for demographic and not military reasons. That is, at the beginning of the war, according to Benny Morris, the Israeli expulsions were motivated by military considerations (similar to why the Sandinistas moved the Miskitos), but by the end of the war they wanted to greatly alter the demographic balance. Incidentally, in saying “military considerations” I’m not giving my benediction to either the Sandinistas or the Israelis. I’m normally a harsh critic of Israel, but I don’t call their actions in 1948 genocide because, well, I don’t think that using words inaccurately would make me a better person.

By the way, you don’t seem to know much about the chronology of what happened in Nicaragua–the worst acts of Sandinista brutality towards the Miskitos happened in the early 80’s. That’s when the Reagan Administration started using the word genocide, at the very same time they were denying the (comparable or larger) atrocities of the contras and the vastly more numerous murders of their pals in El Salvador and Guatemala. Your argument that in hindsight we know that the Sandinistas were guilty of genocide and at the time a reasonable person could have thought the contras and Sandinistas were equally evil just isn’t how it all happened.

With that said, I’m out of here.

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abb1 09.20.05 at 1:51 am

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

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Miskito supported the Contras, and many anti-Sandinista groups were formed, and composed entirely of Miskito tribesmen. As a result, the people often incurred fierce retribution from Sandinista guerillas, with reported massacres of Miskito.

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

Lacking support from the population in that part of the country, Sandinista troops committed their most controversal activities (as far as human rights are concerned) on the Atlantic Coast, including the forcible relocation of 8,500 Miskito from their land to create free-fire zones for combatting the Contras. They also killed and imprisoned several indigenous people suspected of Contra collaboration. On two separate occasions in 1981 and 1982, Sandinista troops committed massacres in which approximately (UNHCR Report) 34 Miskito Indians died. However many Sandinista supporters claim this pales in comparison to the 100,000+ murderered by the Contras. [1]

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jet 09.20.05 at 7:32 am

Abb1,
Those wikipedia articles are extremely suspect in my book. Most of the documentaries are pay to read, so I don’t have more than descriptions, and the few extremely biased article. But I somehow doubt that massive amounts of Contras crossed to the other side of the country and set up shop as the Sandinistas claimed. The Miskotos themselves were the rebels the Sandinistas were fighting who didn’t want to be under “Creole” rule. If there was a Contra/Miskoto connection, it was probably through the conduit of the CIA.

I used to work a dock with a guy who claimed he fought the Sandinistas. He certainly claimed the fighting in the East was genocide, but then he thought pretty much everything the Sandinistas did was genocide since they were trying to erase his culture.

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Grandma Lausch 09.20.05 at 8:37 am

abb1: 118 A ‘criminal’ is someone who ‘has committed …a crime’? I love it. And you can wear it upside down: a ‘crime’ is something that is committed by…a criminal.

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abb1 09.20.05 at 10:09 am

And you can wear it upside down: a ‘crime’ is something that is committed by…a criminal.

I don’t think you can: committing a crime makes you a criminal; while, obviously, not all actions carried out by a criminal are crimes.

Your legalistic definition just doesn’t work in real life and you only invoke it to muddy the water when you got hots for one particular monster ot another. You probably won’t insist on the guilty verdict to call Hitler or bin Laden a criminal.

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Grandma Lausch 09.21.05 at 5:35 am

abb1, 125: insist on the guilty verdict for Hitler? Oops, you’ve just missed the Nuremberg trials

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