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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Sunday, November 13, 2005

The bigots come out to play

Jason Burke, The Observer, November 13:

"Analysts and commentators often seek to find evidence to support their well-established ideas in any given event. So while critics of the 'French social model' have gleefully seen evidence of its failure in the recent violence in France, its supporters have seen evidence of the damage done by right-wing policies in the country. But little compares with the extraordinary way in which the disturbances of the last two weeks have been hijacked by those who appear set on either finding, or creating, a 'clash of civilisations' between Islam and the West.

"Take one particularly egregious example. Melanie Phillips, writing in the Daily Mail, described the riots in France as 'a French intifada, an uprising by French Muslims against the state'. I covered the intifada in Israel and Palestine and, beyond the fact that thrown stones look much the same wherever they are, saw little that resembled the Gaza Strip in the autumn of 2000 in Clichy-sous-Bois in the autumn of 2005. In the course of her article, Phillips spoke of how 'night after night, France [had] been under attack by its Muslim minority', how the country was being 'torched from Normandy to the Mediterranean', how it had 'sniffed the danger that had arisen in its midst' and quoted a little-known writer called Bat Ye'Or who is a favourite of the more unsavoury right-wing American websites and believes that the European Union is a conspiracy dedicated to creating one Muslim-dominated political entity that will comprise most of the Middle East and Europe.

"Phillips also conflated Arabs (a race), and Muslims (a global religion of 1.3 billion, some devout, some not). This is dangerous nonsense, but needs to be studied."


Blogger brokenleg said...

Have a look at 60 Minutes tonight. If their story about the French riots is anything like their promos, you can't expect some pretty ridiculous claims.
The promo goes like this (paraphrased) "The French riots prove once and for all, Australians can't ignore muslim extremists".
The French riots were exactly like the MacQuarie Fields riots but on a much larger scale. The spark (police chasing people to their deaths), the demographics (young males), and the socio-economic factors (high unemployment/ghettos/limited prospects) are identical in both cases.
But notice how 60 minutes focusses on the religion (most probably totally lapsed)of the criminals involved, and draws a ridiculous link to international terrorism.
Anything for ratings.
Maybe someone should have written an article saying, "The Anglo MacQuarie Field riots prove once and for all that we can't ignore the Christian Fundamentalists in Washington" to prove how stupid 60 minutes have become.
One more thing. Check out my blog to see the latest effort from our home grown neo-Nazi movement.

Sunday, November 13, 2005 2:16:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Thanks, checked out the Neo-Nazis, sad cases.
As for 60 minutes and the usual media suspects, it's far too complex to actually examine why something is happening, so much easier to talk about radical Islam, the new bogeyman, akin to the 'threat' of Soviet Communism, another Western exaggeration.
It'll fool some...
And let's not forget, Ronnie Reagan ended Communism...and supported death squads in Latin America, but let's not focus on the negatives.

Sunday, November 13, 2005 3:38:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Ronnnoe was also famour for saying things like, "facts are stupid things" and, "you can tell a lot from a man by the way a man eats jellybeans".

Sunday, November 13, 2005 3:49:00 pm  
Blogger J F said...

The French appear to be choosing sides for a game of bigot ball.

Sunday, November 13, 2005 10:23:00 pm  
Blogger Pete's Blog said...

Well it just looks like thugs being thugs.

However its significant that young men in Australia of Lebanese ethnic origin enjoy a higher than usual crime rate (rapes etc) and they appear to form a majority of the suspected terrorists recently picked up here.

So it appears that generalisations can be drawn in the Lebanese case on basis of ethnic origin.

Islam itself is probably a secondary excuse. Seems the would-be terrorists do not appreciate Australia being part of the force occupying Iraq - an ethnic "Arab" country.

Monday, November 14, 2005 12:36:00 am  
Blogger boredinHK said...

soviet communism wasn't ever a threat ?
you just keep getting better with the passage of time !

Monday, November 14, 2005 1:49:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

If it was a threat, it was singinificantly less than we were led to believe at the time.

Monday, November 14, 2005 2:22:00 pm  
Blogger boredinHK said...

You must be young stupid ignorant or all of these at the same time.
What did you believe at the time incidentally?

Monday, November 14, 2005 2:25:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Mountains of evidence that proves the West exaggerated the threat is there to read. Not unlike the current terrorism 'threat'.
Perspective...and spare the hyperbole.

Monday, November 14, 2005 2:31:00 pm  
Blogger boredinHK said...

Mountains ?
The threat was real - you maintain there was exaggeration because you are an apologist for a failed political philosophy.
The cuban missile crisis was what - a tea party ? A nuclear threat can't be called an exaggeration can it ?
Mountains of Pilger bilge doesn't cut it as evidence by the way....

Monday, November 14, 2005 2:44:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

It amazes me how when confronted by the futility of the Vietnam war (that in spite of the US being defeated, communism did not spread like cancer as we were warned), the same appologists argue the Soviet communist threat was already in shaper decline.

Nontheless, when it suites them, they fallback to the position of this massive threat that esistsed until the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Cuban missile crisis is of no consequence, because the same threat exists today. In fact, the threat is greater given the greater range, accuracy and lethality of these weapons and the fact that the Russians are a good ten years ahead of the Aemrican's in missile technology.

Boredinhk, you don't need Pilger to preach this stuff. It is widely aknowledged, even by former Cold War armchair warriors.

Your perspective is about 10 years behind the times.

Monday, November 14, 2005 2:53:00 pm  
Blogger boredinHK said...

You miss the point - AL stated that soviet communism was a threat in western minds only
-" radical Islam, the new bogeyman, akin to the 'threat' of Soviet Communism, another Western exaggeration. "
Soviet communism existed , it was expansionary , it was an aggressive political idea - ask any of the invaded countries. These wars and invasions don't count as disasters for all involved?
How can someone claim these activites weren't a threat?
The cuban missle crisis was a crisis and could have been a disaster. It could happen now but that doesn't make it less of a crisis then.
I'm not trying to hide the truth but AL needs to keep looking for the truth in all the aspects to these stories and unfortunately he doesn't seem to be able to.
You don't need to tell me that all and sundry political operators and sleaze bags used the existence of the soviet union to build up false concerns and exploit these fears in numerous ways - that is all reasonable comment. But you lose any credibility if you try and assert there was NO threat.
I'll leave out of it the internal problems the soviet had - gulags for dissidents , psychiatric treatments for troublemakers , environmental disasters from one side of the country to the other- they aren't a threat to cloistered western know it alls are they ?

Monday, November 14, 2005 3:34:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Fair enough comment. I'll let Ant speak for himself, but the way that the terror threat is being packaged does have a ring of fmailiarity to it.

Interesting that you mention, "
the internal problems the soviet had - gulags for dissidents , psychiatric treatments for troublemakers , environmental disasters from one side of the country to the other-".

Some of the gulags have been taken over by the US under the cheerful name of "black sites", and that Bush's environmental policies have wreaked devastation to the environment throughout the US.

Psychiatric treatments for troublemakers is verold school, when you have the media at your beck and call to do the charactre assaninations on your behalf.

The Soviets were overtly aggressive in conduction the invasion of terrotories adjacent to their borders, but it woudl be naive to suggest the subversion in many parts of Aouth America, and countries throughout the world has been any less devastating.

Monday, November 14, 2005 3:44:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Communism no threat? Vastly exaggerated, much for political gain in the West.
Sound familiar?

Monday, November 14, 2005 4:16:00 pm  
Blogger Davo said...

The riots in France and probably formed by a number of factors (none of them relating to radical islam).

Firstly it seems that often European education systems (and possibly society at large) are not as inclusive of immigrant children as they should be. And secondly, the french operate a social democratic model of the economy which doesn't not appear (at least in the french and german experience) to provide their low skilled and unemployed (read immigrant) workers with employment.

Add in police racial profiling and brutality and you get a reciepe for disaster.

Here's a couple of frenchie quotes.

"The troubled suburbs are the extreme expression of a country which despairs for the future. They are not another France but France as we have built, and managed it, for the past 30 years."
- Interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy

"The French social model is not a model, since no-one wants to imitate it, it is not social since it leads to record unemployment and it is not French since it is based on class struggle and a refusal of reformism"
- The ex-minister Patrick Devedjian

Friday, November 18, 2005 6:24:00 pm  

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