Saturday, August 11, 2012
Slowly catching up
Back from some off-line time, wading through oceans of digital detritus. Here's some stuff which isn't detritus, on what are apparently the issues of the day.
Olympics London 2012
Sadly Brockley's own Olympian, Conrad Williams, who was apparently once a paperboy for Budgen's in Crofton Park, didn't make the 400m heats but almost got a bronze in the 4x400 hurdles, missing out by a whisker.
Further afield, Peter celebrates some of the Olympic reasons to be cheerful and the joys of being British in 2012. The Poor Mouth notes British excellence in sports involving sitting down and welcomes new countries to the medal table. Champagne Charlie celebrates Mo Farrah; the Soupy One celebrates Wojdan Shaherkani. Francis, on the other hand, is less celebratory in this interesting post on Critical Mass and the Olympic legacy, and Owen explains why the field is always already uneven. And I'll quickly pass over the various scandals, such as Mayor Boris using taxpayer cash to take Rupert Murdoch to the games.
Meanwhile, David Cameron rightly added a note of sobriety, with his speech to mark the 40th anniversary of the slaughter of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics (an anniversary the IOC itself shamefully refused to commemorate). Jeff Weintraub passes on two good links on the past and present treatment of Israeli athletes - by Hampton Stevens and Deborah Lipstadt. And Eric Lee identifies that moment in 1972 as pivotal in the left's turn to antisemitism.
Wisconsin Temple Shooting - and other hate crimes
I am not an opponent of gun rights, but it does seem as if mass shootings occur with what President Obama called "too much regularity" in the USA, although the statistics perhaps suggest we might expect this. The terrible shooting by Hammerskin Wade Michael Page at the Wisconsin Sikh Temple, is particularly shocking.
The attack is sadly just the latest in a long line of terror attacks by the American far right - some 180 people killed by far right activists in America in acts of ideological homicide from 1990 to 2010, not counting the 168 killed by Timothy McVeigh in 1995. In recent years, Muslims have been the main victims of such attacks, with examples including the plot by JDL terrorists Irving David Rubin and Earl Leslie Krugel to bomb the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City in 2001, or Sandlin Matthew Smith's detonation of a pipe bomb at a rear entrance to a mosque in Jacksonville, Fla. while worshippers were inside in 2010. Since the Wisconsin attack, the mosque in Joplin, Missouri, has been razed to the ground, the second arson attack in as many months. And, on this side of the Atlantic, an Islamic centre in Horley and a mosque in Gatwick have been desecrated.
However, as Sunny H writes, Sikhs have been America's silent scapegoats since 9/11. And some people can't really tell the difference; shamobilic Mitt Romney unbelievably spoke of an attack on a "sheik temple" not once but twice.
(See also my previous post on Jared Loughner, which rehearses some relevant issues.)
Honour [sic] Killings
Incomprehensible celebrity prof Jacqueline Rose penned a particularly atrocious article in the ever-gullible CiF using the sentencing of Shafilea Ahmed's parents/killers as an excuse to ponderously ponder on various inconsequential issues. Jim Denham takes a very sharp razor to Rose's piece, accusing her of dishonouring Shafilea's memory. He draws on a very good piece by the inspirational Muslim feminist activist Sarah Khan, who in turn draws on the powerful work of Southall Black Sisters. Sunny H also writes well on the issue, in The Times and New Statesman, and replying to some criticisms here. See also Shaheen Hashmat. Talking of honour-based violence, although not in this case homicidal, Jogo sent me this further example, which puts a different spin on the issue.
Dead white men
In my late teens, I was a great admirer of Gore Vidal, his wit and insight, his devastating scorn for liberal and illiberal pieties. Over the last decade, I came to dislike him more and more. I therefore loved reading this brilliant pre-obituary of him by the late Christopher Hitchens. If you don't have time, read Francis' more pithy and not un-Hitchensian* assessment, while Paul Berman's "requiem" is also brilliant.
George Szirtes: In the lion's mouth and In Chagall's yellow room (both very highly recommended, beautiful writing). Marko Attila Hoare: Montenegrins, Serbs and anti-fascists. Mike Harris on funding questions for Progress. Dave Semple says goodbye to blogging. Tim Flatman on Sudan's oil wars. Andrew Coates on Rosanne Barr, 9/11 Truth and the decline of the American left, on John Rees, Syria and "anti-imperialism", on Seymour v Hitchens. Snoopy on Norman Finkelstein's hubris. From Entinglichung: Maruti Suzuki Manesar Workers: Resisting Caste Violence – Facing Brutal Repression (Radical Socialist); ‘Peaceful patriots’ fail to stop anti-fascist march in Liverpool (Searchlight); Tense anti-racist march underscores the task ahead for Liverpool’s anti-fascists (LibCom).
*Apologies to the Hitch for using a formulation which violates all of George Orwell's rules on writing.
Image sources: Boat Magazine, CNN, Daily Mail, Channel 4.