- 06 Feb 20
Labelling as anti-semite those – like Jeremy Corbyn and Ilhan Omar – who espouse left-wing politics is just another way of undermining their radical message. Just ask Humpty Dumpty...
"'When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less’."
“‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things’."
“‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master – that’s all’.”
Alice from Wonderland learned lots from Humpty Dumpty as she pondered her world through the looking glass. A good egg, was Humpty. The sort of fellow might be dispatched to the Middle East with plenipotentiary powers to sort out the Palestine/Israel fracas.
“This will be a terrific deal for everyone,” announced Donald Trump, standing shoulder to shoulder with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a White House presentation last month, the highlight of which was a Presidential once-in-a-lifetime offer of a shit sandwich to the Palestinians.
When the potential recipients of this largesse failed to strike up a chorus of “Food Glorious Food,” the usual suspect commentators cried, “They didn’t even taste the shit sandwich before turning it down! They prefer to starve rather than sit down like adults and discuss what flavour of shit they fancy.”
When words mean what you want them to mean you can create a bespoke reality and cast all others in the roles which you reckon best suit your interests.
Here’s two statements marking International Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27th, the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by the Red Army.
“We mourn the lives of six million Jews who were systematically murdered. Today and every day, we must redouble our efforts to confront anti-Semitism.”
“We must confront anti-Semitism and all forms of religious discrimination and say – Never Again!”
The first came from Minnesota Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, the second from British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Arsen Ostrovsky, executive director of the Israeli-Jewish Congress, responded to Omar: “How dare you defame memory of the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust!”
The Campaign Against Antisemitism described Corbyn’s remark as “insulting to the Jewish community… particularly audacious, given that Mr Corbyn has spent his time in office cultivating antisemitism in the Labour Party.”
Of course, Mr. Corbyn has done no such thing. Gimlet-eyed zealots have fine-tooth combed through his 50 years of political activism in search of an antisemitic utterance they might hold up as evidence of hatred of Jews, and have come up with nothing, because there’s nothing there.
The reproach to Corbyn was a straightforward lie. The lie was spurred on its way to circle the world before the truth managed to pull its boots on. Relentless repetition of the charge eventually gave it an ersatz sort of authenticity. On BBC1’s comedy snob-fest Have I Got News For You last December, a panel of slick celebs hooted with delight at the quip that Corbyn in retirement would probably “just potter around his garden shed muttering about Jews.”
Regular panellists Ian Hislop and Paul Merson guffawed in approval of this so-clever wisecrack.
Ilhan Omar is the first Muslim woman ever elected to the US congress. She was born in Modgadishu in Somalia, one of the most distressful countries that ever yet was seen. She was nine when her family escaped the encircling war and, after three years in a squalid camp in Kenya, was recognised as a refugee and allowed into America.
The key allegation against Ms. Omar – still repeated at regular intervals in mainstream media – has to do with her reply last year to a threat from House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy to have her and another Congresswoman “punished” for criticism of Israel. She wrote back, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby” – a line about $100 bills from a Puff Daddy song. (The $100 bill features the face of President Benjamin Franklin.) She was jumped on from a height by a range of commentators and politicians (both Republicans and Democrats) clamouring that she had called up a hateful stereotype of Jewish Americans.
Omar apologised for sloppy wording. Which, predictably, served only to rachet up the volume and toxicity of the abuse poured upon her. At the mention of her name, thousands of Trump supporters at mass rallies now roar out: “Send her back! Send her back!”
Another thing Omar and Corbyn have in common is that each was elected on a radical programme, which virtually all political commentators had pronounced in advance to be politically suicidal. Corbyn had publicly given favourable mention to the Beelzebub of bourgeois nightmare, Karl Marx. Nobody of any importance had entertained the possibility of a young, black, African woman who describes herself as a “democratic socialist” winning an American election.
The antisemitic smear represents an effort to stunt the emergence or growth of any serious anti-capitalist movement.
Label the Left as antisemitic and you don’t have to deal with its argument.
If antisemites have no moral right to declare sorrow and solidarity with the victims of the Holocaust, then socialists, deemed antisemitic, are doubly at fault in daring to protest against the murder of Jews.
Somewhat convoluted. But then, the question is whether you can make words mean many different things.
Actually, the question is, which is to be master, and that’s all.
It’s all about power. Most things are.