Daily Archives: May 1, 2014


The Coward Rusbridger

The actions of the Guardian in complying with the demands of the security services to destroy the computers containing Snowden’s revelations were cowardly in the extreme.  There was a principle at stake here.  The existence of other copies elsewhere is not the point.  That does not make the hard drive destruction better, any more than  Nazi book-burning was made OK by the existence of other copies of the books.

Freedom of the press has only ever been won by extremely brave journalists willing to be beaten, imprisoned or jailed for it.  If editors had always given in to legal threat, there would be no freedom of the press now.  That is why the Guardian’s pathetic excuse that it was legally compelled to destroy the hard drives is of the essence. States always have the sanction of law: standing to advance freedom has always meant not being intimidated by law.

I was threatened with the Official Secrets Act if I insisted on exposing the use of intelligence from torture.  I considered and decided it was worth going to jail for.  I published.  Jack Straw backed down.  The difference between Alan Rusbridger and I is that one of us is not an abject sniveling coward.*

The Guardian not only destroyed the Snowden hard drives, but spent an entire month hiding the fact from the public.  They only came clean and published after the arrest of David Miranda led Glenn Greenwald to refuse to keep it quiet any longer.  Remember this is the same newspaper which sent the  young and extremely brave whistleblower Sarah Tisdall to prison rather than protect their source.

Now Rusbridger p0ses as though smashing the computers was an act of defiance.  I couldn’t resist a comment on this appalling piece of hypocrisy in the Guardian thread below that link.

Then something extraordinary happened.  A reply defending the Guardian was posted to my comment, and this reply extremely quickly gathered 232 recommends.  Now the next highest number of recommends for any comment on that thread is just 57.  That 57 recommend comment is on the main subject of the article – the fall in the UK’s rating for freedom of the press.  My comment is tangential to the article, and the reply to it is somewhat banal.  The vastly disproportionate “recommends”  for that reply are as believable as the 97% vote in the Crimea!

There was a time when the Guardian was something more than just another neo-con mouthpiece.  Now its business model depends entirely on racking up internet clicks in the United States and this influences its content.  It has run, for example, over two dozen extremely one-sided articles in praise of the vicious American murderess Amanda Knox.  It seems increasingly devoted to Israel.  I was at the time genuinely shocked by The Guardian’s refusal to publish the true facts of all the meetings between Liam Fox, Matthew Gould and Adam Werritty.

I understand now that Rusbridger is entirely a neo-con tool, and that their efforts with Assange, Snowden and Greenwald were no more than control and channeling, and broke down when that became obvious.

 

*There are other differences.  I don’t wear a wig, and I was not implicated in promoting and defending Tony Blair.

 

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In Defence of Jeremy Clarkson

I only today realized that the “Eeny meeny” rhyme contains the word nigger – despite having said it many times in my childhood.  I really attached no meaning at all to the word then – I though it was just nonsense like “eeny meeny’.  I certainly had no idea it meant a black person.  I had only ever met two or three black people, and did not think of them as any different.

Once I did know the word “nigger” and its hateful sense – probably from TV – I never made the cognitive connection between it and that old nursery rhyme.  Absolutely not until today when I read about Jeremy Clarkson.  I then closed my eyes and said the rhyme.  I was genuinely astonished – and horrified – to find myself saying:

Eeny meeny miney moe

Catch a nigger by the toe

If he squeals let him go

Eemy meeny miney moe

I am quite sure that was the version I chanted as a child when counting out a random choice.  It was just a counting rhyme.  I had as a small child  no associations at all with its meaning, any more than I associated “ring a ring of rosies” with bubonic plague, or “Here we go round the mulberry bush” with pagan fertility rituals.

Clarkson said the rhyme in the context of making the point that there was nothing to choose between two cars, as a way of indicating the choice would be random – an entirely natural context for the rhyme to spring to mind.  Plainly he realized what he had done, and recorded another version.  Clarkson is even older than me.  I might very well have made the same error.  He denies he ever said the word “nigger”.  I can conceive I might have done it without realizing it is there, until too late.  If that sounds incredible, I think it is because you are not taking into account the way children learn and continually repeat rhythmic counting rhymes.

Naturally I hope that version of the nursery rhyme is never used again.  There can be few things harder to eradicate than ancient playground chants, but parents and teachers must explain why it is wrong if they hear it.  I don’t know if children still use it.  But while we may deplore attitudes of the past, we have to exercise wisdom in dealing with people who were products of a very different environment.  Like Clarkson.  Oh, and me.

Which leads me to a further thought.  I am pretty sure I had no concept of people’s colour as a small child, and the following I know for certain. My elder children attended a primary school in Gravesend in which a little over half the children were Sikh.  By age seven, they had absolutely no conception of any racial difference between themselves and any others in their class.  It is a slender piece of evidence, but I am generally fairly convinced that racial difference is a taught construct.

 

 

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