A devastatingly important question posed, interestingly enough, by Ian Black, the Guardian’s Middle East editor:
‘Mummy, why did everyone forget about Syria when Gaza started?’
It’s a truism that news organisations and audiences alike struggle to cope with more than one major international crisis at a time: if the war in Gaza wasn’t a big enough story, then the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine was almost unbearable overload. But what about Syria, where 1,700 people are reported to have died in the last 10 days alone?
Lets have a look at the facts:
In May, the death toll in Syria was counted at 160,000 in two years of fighting. Although this figure has most certainly increased since then.
The death toll in Syria’s three-year conflict has climbed past 160,000, an activist group said Monday, a harrowing figure that reflects the relentless bloodletting in a civil war that appears no closer to being resolved.
i must start by declaring an interest here, not only as someone who supports a fair and equitable end to the arab-israeli conflict in which israel’s future is secured and a wider lasting peace in the middle east for all its peoples, but also as someone many of whose ancestors came from mosul and kirkuk in kurdistan. i have met many talented kurds and they have invariably been the sort of people who i could get along with and do business with; reasonable, rational and sensitive to the realities of history and politics.
for all these reasons, the issue of kurdistan has been close to my heart for a number of years; it felt very much to me as if it was a pipe-dream, given the geopolitical status quo. the basics are this:
we at the spittoon have for some time been a target for the not-very-impressive “spinwatch” site, which appears to be the hobby-horse of strathclyde university’s answer to bob pitt, dr david miller. dr miller, we hardly need remind you, appears to think that spittoon authors are without exception rabid “neo-cons”, by which he appears to mean some sort of catch-all imperialism of liberal democracy imposed by force of arms on the bucolic, picaresque and entirely pacifist natives of the middle-east and south asia. as if this wasn’t bad (or inaccurate) enough, we are also supposed to be apostles of islamophobia; apparently it isn’t clear enough to someone who is supposed to be an academic that what we oppose is the virulent political ideology known as islamism – as well as other forms of religious and political extremism; jewish, christian, atheist, muslim, ethnicity-based – we are equal-opportunity anti-extremists, or we certainly try to be.
Also posted in Activism, Anti Muslim bigotry, Blogosphere, Dodgy Policy Wonks, Education, European Fascism, Far Right Extremism, Homophobia, Islamism, Moral relativism, Nutters, Racism, The Far Left, The Left, The Regressive Left
obviously, a great deal has been written about the riots to date and a great deal of predictable outpouring has also taken place. what i wanted to offer to this debate is, however, along more behavioural lines.
i have for some time been aware of the powerful analytical frameworks for bio-psycho-social systems developed by the american psychologist dr clare graves and systematised for practical application by don beck and chris cowan in the excellent book “spiral dynamics” (i’m not affiliated with anyone concerned, incidentally). at the risk of sounding like somewhat of a “fanboy”, as i believe it is called on teh interwebs, i am convinced it constitutes an important piece of intellectual real estate for the understanding of complex socio-political systems, particularly in behavioural terms.
Also posted in Activism, Blogosphere, Civil Rights, Communalism, Crime, Democracy, Education, Ethics, Exegesis, Human Rights, Media, Misc, Moral relativism, Multiculturalism, Political Correctnes gone mad!, Politics, The Far Left, The Left, The Regressive Left, UK Politics
we at the spittoon seem spend a lot of time both criticising people who appear to be disingenuous, swivel-eyed fundamentalist weasels and their stooges, as well as calling for honest, open-hearted dialogue and support for a stronger, more liberal society in which both jews and muslims have a role to play, not just as citizens, but as jews and muslims. we believe both in the robust defence of liberty and the principles of democracy as well as aspiring to a better, more peaceful future in which people of differing religions, cultures and points of view will be able to live together – call it a messianic vision, if you like, or even “roddenberry-lite”, but we don’t see why people can’t “sit under their vine and fig-tree, with nobody to make them afraid“.
Also posted in Activism, Anti Muslim bigotry, Antisemitism, Blogosphere, Civil Rights, Democracy, Entryism, Freedom of Religion, Human Rights, Interfaith, Islamism, Jewish Extremism, Multiculturalism, Racism, UK Politics
Hope Not Hate publish a new report called Fear and HOPE, available for download tomorrow. The report is based on a Populus survey exploring the issues of English identity, faith, and race. The findings are not encouraging.
The executive summary explains the depressing downside:
On one level it is not happy reading. It concludes that there is not a progressive majority in society and it reveals that there is a deep resentment to immigration, as well as scepticism towards multiculturalism. There is a widespread fear of the ‘Other’, particularly Muslims, and there is an appetite for a new right-wing political party that has none of the fascist trappings of the British National Party or the violence of the English Defence League. With a clear correlation between economic pessimism and negative views to immigration, the situation is likely to get worse over the next few years.
The key findings of the report:
David Cameron unveils a new strategy in a speech today to tackle State Multiculturalism and how its policies have encouraged the growth of home-grown Islamist extremism in the UK. Cameron’s speech is not enough to counter extremism but it is at least a recognition of social policies that have enabled it to the flourish here in Britain, at taxpayers expense. It acknowldges the illiberal and intolerant views that we currently permit and refuse to challenge. Coming so soon after the Warsi debacle, this is a breath of fresh air.
In his speech, Mr Cameron rejected suggestions that a change in Western foreign policy could stop the Islamic terrorist threat and says Britain needs to tackle the home-grown causes of extremist ideology. “We have failed to provide a vision of society [to young Muslims] to which they feel they want to belong,” he said. “We have even tolerated segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values. All this leaves some young Muslims feeling rootless. And the search for something to belong to and believe in can lead them to extremist ideology.”
This is a guest post by 17th Angel. Some details have been removed in the interests of anonymity.
This is a cross-post by Ananya Jahanara Kabir
A Muslim woman living in Europe talks of her experiences with markers of Islam and her reasons for affiliating herself with Muslimness alongside equally powerful reasons for distancing herself from its overt expressions in the public sphere.
This is a guest-post by harith
Consider an hypothetical scenario analogous to the situation with Islamist politics in the UK.
Let us suppose that Hindutva extremism had somehow become acceptable because it encapsulated the doctrine of “defensive Jud’dha”, made palatable by “socially conscious” liberals who saw within it elements of a response to colonialism and US imperialism. They argued that the doctrine of religious warfare was a theocratic norm accepted and acceptable to all Hindus. Furthermore, any attack and criticism of Hindutva terrorism (let’s call it Hindutvaism for the purposes of this illustration) was simply racist and a fundamental attack of ordinary Hindu individuals. These liberals even came up with a neologism for this kind of criticism; they called it ‘Hinduphobia’. What was more, any liberal pushback of Hindutvaism was deemed ‘Hinduphobic’.