Sunday, June 25, 2006 

Borat: The Movie

Please, please let this not be a wind-up.


Daily Mail, Daily Nazi?

Slow blogging, so to share some links that have resided in the bookmarks waiting for a rainy day:
"The Daily Mail made one of its first campaigns against admitting Jewish refugees fleeing pogroms in Eastern Europe. It supported Mosley’s fascist black shirts in the 1930s including the notorious headline ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’. It supported appeasement with Nazi Germany and its owner Lord Rothermere willingly met Hitler and openly expressed admiration for Mussolini.

In July 1933 Lord Rothermere, owner of the Daily Mail, attacked in its pages the ‘clamorous campaign of denunciation’ being against the Nazi regime. He stated that under Hitler: ‘Something far more than a new government has arisen among the Germany. There has been a sudden expansion of their national spirit like that which took place in England under Queen Elizabeth’. He alleged that prior to Hitler coming to power: ‘Israelites of international attachments were insinuating themselves into key positions in the German administration.’ On 1 October 1938, after the Munich agreement, Lord Rothermere telegrammed Hitler ‘Frederick the Great was a great popular figure in England. May not Adolf the Great become an equally popular figure? I salute Your Excellency’s star which rises higher and higher.’ On 28 March 1938, when the anti-semitic policies of the Nazi government were well known, the Daily Mail wrote regarding Jews attempting to flee that regime: ‘To be ruled by misguided sentimentalism would be disastrous. Once it was known that Britain offered sanctuary to all who cared to come, the floodgates would be opened and we would be inundated by thousands seeking a home.’ At that time Jews could leave Nazi Germany and refusal to admit them directly cost the lives of thousands or tens of thousands of German Jews. A Daily Mail editorial in 1940, when Britain was at war with Germany, and Hitler’s anti-semitic regime had been in power for seven years, attempted to pin a moral responsibility for their treatment on the Jewish people themselves writing that ‘They should be careful not to arouse the same resentment here.’"
- from London Mayor Ken Livingstone, 22 February 2005.

"Four days before the 1924 General Election Rothermere decided to publish what became known as the Zinoviev Letter [which] urged British communists to promote revolution through acts of sedition. The letter, later discovered to be a forgery, contributed to the defeat of Ramsay MacDonald and the Labour Government.


Rothermere became increasingly nationalistic in his political views and in 1929 joined with Lord Beaverbrook to form the United Empire Party. Rothermere urged the Conservative Party to remove its leader, Stanley Baldwin, and replace him with Beaverbrook. He also argued for a reform of the House of Lords to make it possible for peers to be elected to the House of Commons. This dispute divided conservative voters and this enabled the Labour Party to win the 1929 General Election.

Lord Rothermere disposed of his shares in the Daily Mirror in 1931. He now concentrated on the Evening News and the Daily Mail. In the 1930s Rothermere moved further to the right and gave support to Oswald Mosley and the National Union of Fascists. He wrote an article, Hurrah for the Blackshirts, in January, 1934, in which he praised Mosley for his "sound, commonsense, Conservative doctrine".

Rothermere also had several meetings with Adolf Hitler and argued that the Nazi leader desired peace. In one article written in March, 1934 he called for Hitler to be given back land in Africa that had been taken as a result of the Versailles Treaty.

Rothermere and his newspapers supported Neville Chamberlain and his policy of appeasement. He was therefore devastated when war broke out between Britain and Germany in 1939. Lord Rothermere died on 27th November, 1940. "
Adolf Hitler, letter to Lord Rothermere (7th December, 1933)
I should like to express the appreciation of countless Germans, who regard me as their spokesman, for the wise and beneficial public support which you have given to a policy that we all hope will contribute to the enduring pacification of Europe. Just as we are fanatically determined to defend ourselves against attack, so do we reject the idea of taking the initiative in bringing about a war. I am convinced that no one who fought in the front trenches during the world war, no matter in what European country, desires another conflict.

Lord Rothermere, telegram to Adolf Hitler 1st October, 1938)
My dear Fuhrer, everyone in England is profoundly moved by the bloodless solution to the Czechoslovakian problem. People not so much concerned with territorial readjustment as with dread of another war with its accompanying bloodbath. Frederick the Great was a great popular figure. I salute your Excellency’s star, which rises higher and higher."
Wrapping up with Red Ken again:
"After the replacement of David English as editor of the Daily Mail on 10 July 1992 a party was held in the building of Associated Newspapers. Two accounts of this have been published. In An Unlikely Hero: Vere Rothermere and How the Daily Mail Was Saved, prepared in cooperation with the most senior managers of Associated Newspapers, the author states the following: ‘when David [English] retired as editor of the Daily Mail in order to take over as chairman of Associated Newspapers, he gave a party wherein he and all his editorial staff dressed up like Hitler and various members of the Third Reich. A memorable appearance of the newspaper’s drama critic Jack Tinker as Goebbels brought the house down.’ (An Unlikely Hero p171)

Associated Newspapers has disputed some aspects of this account stating that only five persons in Nazi military uniform were present and David English considered the spoof in ‘poor taste’. It does not state who the five were, whether they are still employed by Associated Newspapers, or dealt with the issue of whether Jack Tinker, who was extremely senior writer, made an imitation of Goebbels. What is clear even from Associated Newspaper’s own admissions is that people in Nazi military uniform were present at a party with the most senior management of Associated Newspapers, they were not asked to leave, no apology was made, and no action taken against them."
The leopard never changes its spots, apparently. Looking forward to a defence of the glorious record of the Daily Mail (now with an "oirish" edition), if anyone should be so stupid courageous as to do so.

* Yes, that's Daily Mail owner Lord Rothermere in the photo.


Anglophile Principles

A post over at Rainy Day (on the subject of FIFA and junta-era Argentina) serves as an appropriate postscript to something written here recently. It deals in forthright terms with the reality of what that living under the junta meant:
"A country run by a brutal military dictatorship that had seized power two years earlier and set about "disappearing" thousands of those who resisted it."
Yet we are willing to wager that Mr. Fitzgerald would experience difficulty in summoning up similar outrage to what was happening in neighbouring Chile at that same moment. Oppressive military dictatorships in both, yet one made the error of threatening British interests and the other did not. Guess Saddam can sympathize.


'Barley' Impressions

Went to see it last night in the company of friends, some foreign. Powerful stuff - a two-hour film that doesn't shirk in showing the harsh realities of both the War of Independence and the Civil War, in stark contrast to the romantic floss that has hitherto defined the genre (Michael Collins, etc.). From the savagery of the British forces to the ruthlessness of the Volunteer response, Loach shows a gritty, authentic portrayal of the birth of this State. Accusations of "pro-IRA bias" (made by the British rightwing and tabloid press) are predictable, entirely false and reflect a continuing misty-eyed version of their Empire days in certain British quarters.

For those who haven't grown up in communities with strong local memories of the period - and those who don't 'get' the bitterness that created the enduring Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael dichotomy that defines Irish politics to this day - this is an essential film to see.


Squeaking Furious Venom-spitting Rabid Lamb Squadrons

Oh, my.

Saturday, June 24, 2006 

Trusting commentators in the media?

Atrios (in a specific context) sounds forth on a problem which has now arrived on our own shores, too:
"But, more generally, there's no qualification or particular expertise or license one obtains to get to talk about politics on stage, on cable, on the radio, or on the internets. In outlets with barriers like TV and radio, some people magically enter the "pundit club" through various channels. Some people earn their key to face time by being on enough rolodexes. Some people are actually experts in some stuff. But, for a long time punditry has consisted of people who don't necessarily know what the hell they're talking about posing as experts in just about everything. That's not necessarily as bad as it sounds, but it's made better if we strip away the pretense that everyone invited to talk about stuff on the TeeVee is actually an expert."
Specifically in an Irish context, one can readily think of certain pundits whose presence on the airwaves or in print in a serious media publication is inexplicable. Why, exactly, should a PR liar professional be allowed hawk his or her services in the guise of providing commentary on political issues of which she has clearly no expertise whatsoever, other than obfuscation and spinning? Why is there still any pretence that the audience on Questions & Answers isn't stuffed with activists and that questions aren't pre-vetted? And on a tangent, just how did members of the Stalinist Worker's Party get away for so long (and are still in situ in some cases) in infiltrating the national media? And why do the numerous Catholic conservative activists in the media go relatively unremarked?

We here at DICK are shocked that the media are both so easily manipulated and can so easily manipulate in turn, we can certainly tell you.


Oh, dear

The former 'Freedom Institute' bloggers are apparently still pushing the notion that yep, those WMD were indeed found in Iraq (see here for one earlier FI foray into this territory). The latest resurgence of this wanton dishonesty (i.e. that rusting Iran-Iraq War era mustard shells are the 'proof' that Bush and Blair didn't lie) was prompted by grade-A wingnut Republican Senator Rick Santorum's latest bizarre outburst.

A good measure of the lunacy of these claims is that even the white phosphorus (WP) munitions used by the Irish Defence Forces for night illumination could conceivably fall under the absurdly wide definition of "WMD" that the true believers now apparently accept. This is a useful example of how it seems that you can flap your gums with any kind of old nonsense and get some to believe it, even among allegedly "serious" bloggers on the Irish Right. Though admittedly, some have been a little more creative (and entertaining) in trying to escape the judgement of history than others.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 

Blogroll link changes

"Copernicus" now resides here, and Fiona de Londras makes a welcome return also at a new address.


A poorer place

Monsignor Denis Faul, RIP. From today's Irish Times:
"Msgr Faul first rose to prominence when he marched with the Civil Rights movement in 1968, which was demanding equality for Catholics in the North.

He was criticised by then Primate of Ireland, Cardinal Conway after attracting attention with a pamphlet in 1969 which said the unionist-appointed judiciary "perhaps actively promoted systematic discrimination against the Catholic minority."

He also protested against human rights abuses by the British army and Royal Ulster Constabulary in the 1970s and was also outspoken about republican and loyalist paramilitary violence.

Msgr Denis Faul intervened in the republican H-Block hunger strikes 25 years ago in a bid to save the lives of some of the 10 men who died in the Maze Prison.

He also campaigned for the release of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four who had been wrongly imprisoned in Britain for the bomb attacks before their cases became high-profile."

Tuesday, June 13, 2006 

The Wind That Shakes The Barley

(A 25MB QuickTime trailer is available at Allocine)

The Wind That Shakes The Barley, Ken Loach's Palme d'Or-winning Irish War of Independence/Civil War flick which we've mentioned before (and is on release next week) is the subject of a Hidden History documentary tonight (Tuesday) at 10pm on RTÉ 1.

One notable omission in the interviewees, though - just where are revisionist Canadian academic Peter Hart's many critics among those mentioned at the RTÉ site?

Sunday, June 11, 2006 

The myth of the 'Special Relationship'

A short memory among Anglophile wingnuts in this jurisdiction, apparently.

Sir John Nott, British Defence secretary during the Falklands war:
"The issue of America's involvement in the crisis is a crucial one. Certain Americans, of course, such as Casper Weinberger, the US Defence Secretary, were splendid from the outset.

But the State Department, at this time, was dominated by Latinos who saw President Reagan's Latin American policy going down the drain. Jeane Kirkpatrick, the American Ambassador to the UN, had even dined with the Argentines on the evening that they invaded British territory.

It took weeks of determined diplomacy by Sir Nicholas Henderson, our ambassador in Washington, before the White House was prepared to declare itself on the side of the British. Moreover, it did so, I suspect, only because Congress and American public opinion had come down heavily on our side. By doing so, it destroyed the support of the South American dictators for Reagan's anti-communist crusade in Central America.

As the Falklands conflict developed, America stopped arms sales to Argentina, but was unwilling to take more effective economic measures. Nicholas Henderson reported that the Americans were not prepared to "tilt" too heavily against Argentina; to do so, they said, would deprive them of their influence in Buenos Aires.

They did not want the Argentine dictator General Leopoldi Galtieri to fall - whereas we saw him as an outright fascist and aggressor. For the Americans, he was a central pillar of resistance to communism in South and Central America - and all the efforts of Reagan and the State Department were concentrated on the crisis in El Salvador.

The United States, it seemed, did not wish to choose between Britain and their interests in Latin America. Indeed, apart from Weinberger and the Pentagon, the Americans were very, very far from being on our side.

If Washington had been in the hands of the East Coast Wasps (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) instead of the West Coast Americans, with their overriding concern for the Americas, things might have been different.

But the State Department, the White House security staff and the president himself were, privately, never wholly committed to our cause. For all Margaret Thatcher's friendship with Ronald Reagan, he remained a West Coast American looking south to Latin America and west to the Pacific. Sometimes, I wondered if he even knew or cared where Europe was.

So, the Americans gave every assistance to the United Nations and every other mediator - Brazilian, Mexican and the rest - to bring about a negotiated settlement, on terms which would have been seen as a surrender in the United Kingdom. Then, in the closing stages of the conflict, when we had already lost many ships and men, they leant heavily on us - aided by telephone calls from Reagan to Thatcher - to find some way of saving Galtieri's face. "Magnanimity before victory" became their watch-phrase."
And that's not all:
"In many ways, Mitterrand and the French were our greatest allies. They had supplied the Argentines with Mirage and Super Etendard aircraft in the earlier years; but, as soon as the conflict began, Mitterrand's defence minister got in touch with me to make some of these available so that our Harrier pilots could train against them before setting off for the South Atlantic. The French also supplied us with detailed technical information on the Exocet, showing us how to tamper with the missiles.
It was a remarkably successful operation. In spite of strenuous efforts by several countries - particularly Israel and South Africa - to help Argentina, we succeeded in intercepting and preventing the supply of further equipment to the Argentines, who were desperately seeking resupply."
Shouldn't a political scientist (and endless self-promoter as a commentator on politics) really be expected to know these things?


Scurrilous Notes

Witch-hunting season over at Half-Assed Notes:
"Michael Jansen's Bad Reporting
From Iraq, as the good news broke:

Joy filled Baghdad's hot streets, as gun shots sounded through the air, and cars packed with overjoyed Iraqi's roamed the streets. Iraqis were sharing sweets with people outside their homes. Civil organizations paraded as they condemned violence chanting "death to Zarqawi and Saddamites." Thursday's celebrations could be compared to the jubilation in Baghdad's streets the day Saddam Hussein was captured.

Michael Jansen of the Irish Times seems less enthused. Writing the day after Zarqawi overdue demise, at a time when the news was being universally hailed in the English speaking mainstream as a significant success, Jansen ran with the absurdly pessimistic headline "Fears killing may lead to retaliatory attacks". After duly flagging the fact that not even the killing of al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq would squeeze a positive headline out of his column, Jansen choose to prejoratively describe Zarqawi's demise as an 'assassination', as if there had been something illegal or immoral about the overdue killing of that terrorist butcher."
First off, "assassination" is the accepted description of the targeted killing of a specific individual; which is exactly what happened to the late unlamented Zarqawi (and, advice to Mr. Waghorne: "strike" is a term which gives away the user's knowledge of military matters as coming entirely off American cable news). Dickie can look it up in the dictionary (if he so wants), where he will discover that no such pejorative meaning (as he rests his case on) hangs on the word.

Mr. Waghorne is unfortunately also going to need to expand his list of al'Qaeda sympathisers to include the Iraqi government, who ordered a curfew in Baghdad on the strength of - you guessed it, fears of retaliation. Again:
"Nor is Jansen much better on facts. He writes:
"Buoyed by the elimination of Zarqawi, Iraq's parliament confirmed the nominees of Mr Maliki to three key posts which were not filled when he presented his cabinet three weeks ago"
but as most will know, the posts were filled before Zarqawi was killed, not afterwards."
The BBC:
"Shortly after the Zarqawi announcement, the Iraqi parliament approved Mr Maliki's nominees for the key posts of defence and interior ministers.
The two crucial roles had remained unfilled despite the formation of a coalition government last month. "
Need we add more?

The Witchfinder-General then goes on to finish:
"Jansen concludes, calling the killing "a politico-military and propaganda coup". That he cannot, in a thousand word article, bring himself to join the chorus of relief and approval is genuinely revealing. Jansen's factually wrong and politically charged reporting is only intelligible as the output of a man who genuinely regards the beheadings and bombings in Iraq as the work of a home-grown, quasi-legitimate resistance against foreign occupation, one worthy of some sympathy.
Jansen has not, in any of his many pieces for the Irish Times, once reported that the UN mandate for the coalition troops is worth supporting. Nor has he once argued that Iraq's democratic government is the true and legitimate voice of that nation. He has yet to call for the unequivocal suppression of the terrorism in that country. He is, in short, an apologist of the al-Qaida/Ba'athist insurgency in that country. That the Irish Times continue to print his chronically unreliable and political unacceptable pieces is a stain on the paper's reputation. If he had any integrity he'd apply to al-Jazeera where he belongs."
A real journalist simply reports the facts, ma'am. That Dickie doesn't accept that the press shouldn't be Pravda-like (or indeed Fox News-like) in reporting - well, state propaganda - says a lot about this neo-Magill and Oirish Daily Mail 'contributor'. And the characteristic sneering reference to al-Jazeera - the only serious independent media in the Arab world, mind you - speaks volumes too.

Oh, and we nearly forgot. Michael Jansen is actually a member of the fairer sex, so to speak (we can helpfully provide sketches if Dickie has trouble identifying one). Not only that, but she happens to be a very distinguished journalist:

Michael Jansen is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and the American University of Beirut with specialization in the politics of the Middle East. She has since worked as a regional correspondent for the Irish Times [Dublin], Middle East International [London] and the Deccan Herald [Banglagore, India]. She also contributes columns to other publications including the Jordan Times [Amman] and is the author of The United States and the Palestinian People [1970], The Battle of Beirut [1982 and 1983], The Aphrodite Plot [1983] which deals with the 1974 invasion of Cyprus by Turkey, and Dissonance in Zion [1986]. Following the outbreak of the civil war in Lebanon, Jansen took refuge in Cyprus, where she has lived since 1976.

The contrast with the résumé of Mr. Waghorne could not be more striking, we think readers will agree. Perhaps Dickie should make an effort to get his own facts straight (such as the sex of his target, even) before penning articles condemning "bad reporting". But we won't be holding our breath waiting.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006 

Bashing gays back on the GOP agenda; must be US election year

See here for the video, and here for confusion in the Bush White House as to what constitutes 'civil rights'. Here's a question - is Bush going to outlaw divorce by Constitutional amendment too, in order to "strengthen the family"? And if not, why not?

(via Raw Story)


US to World: Geneva protections for us, but none for you

Suspected to long unofficially apply under the Bush régime, it may now be made formal.


A Mystery

Sicilian Notes:
It's been brought to my attention that some wise guy is signing up email accounts with names similar to mine and purporting to send emails from me to various people. These hoaxes are sufficiently artless that I don't believe any damage could have been done, but I'm putting the word about that people should take a moment to check the address of emails in my name. If it's not from my usual gmail account, it's not from me."
Free Stater will be eternally grateful to any person who can forward (to the usual address here) the actual contents of one of these alleged hoax emails. Confidentiality will be assured!

Thursday, June 01, 2006 

Schizophrenic analysis?

One (and especially amusing) theme over at Sicilian Notes is the repeated attempts to conflate the long and honourable Irish tradition of UN service - intimately tied with our anti-colonial past - with imperial adventures of the United States - e.g., the second coming of the British Empire in many anglophile eyes. We don't think many are taken in by this, so we usually let it go without comment.

But while the usual strategy employed is a simple one of what Americans refer to as a 'bait and switch' (somehow, pieces on the Irish military always seem to segue into attempts to set up arguments to go to Iraq), recent days have seen one particularly dishonest element creep in:

29th May 2006:
"Never mind that the US is there under a UN mandate, or at the express request of Iraqi leaders, or with the support of the Iraqi people as repeatedly voiced to pollsters"
30th May 2006:
"The US is a good friend to Ireland, fighting in Iraq with a UN mandate and at the request of the democratically elected government there."
i) The US didn't invade Iraq under "UN mandate", as political science research assistant Richard presumably knows to be the case;

(ii) Isn't it curious how ephemereal Richard's disdain for the United Nations becomes once the UN can be used (however dishonestly) to ginny up talking points favouring George W. Bush?

(ii) We're still waiting on Richard's comment as to whether he's siding with McDowell/the gay marriage campaigners, or the homophobic Catholic protestors who broke up that meeting; on tenterhooks, some might say.



Bill Sjostrom, US expat and NUI Cork academic:

I remember fondly the good old days when the left used to have the decency to lie about their opposition to an Iraq invasion. You remember, Saddam was a wicked man and all, but there is the matter of sanctity of the UN and all. But now they barely seem to bother. David Hirst, the Guardian's former Mid-east correspondent, in a rant blaming George Bush for the rise of Hamas, offers this:
Even if the US did succeed in bringing Hamas down, it would, like the overthrow of Saddam, be a catastrophic kind of success . . .
The overthrow of Saddam was catastrophic. Pretty much says it all, doesn't it.

It certainly does, but not about the entirely innocent Guardian reporter. The short institutional memory of wingnuttery strikes again, we fear!

US Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld, press briefing 11th April 2003:
"[The invasion of Iraq] is fascinating. This is just fascinating. From the very beginning, we were convinced that we would succeed, and that means that that regime would end. And we were convinced that as we went from the end of that regime to something other than that regime, there would be a period of transition. And, you cannot do everything instantaneously; it's never been done, everything instantaneously. We did, however, recognize that there was at least a chance of catastrophic success, if you will, to reverse the phrase, that you could in a given place or places have a victory that occurred well before reasonable people might have expected it, and that we needed to be ready for that; we needed to be ready with medicine, with food, with water. And, we have been."
US President George W. Bush, August 2004:
"Bush, in an interview with Time magazine, suggested he still would have gone into Iraq, but with different tactics had he known "that an enemy that should have surrendered or been done in escaped and lived to fight another day."

He called the swift military offensive that led to the fall of Baghdad in April 2003 "a catastrophic success" even though fighting continues despite the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's government."
Did Bill not get the memo?
Postscript 6/06: of course, Sjostrom has long form in being wrong.

"Libel"-Richard Waghorne
"Attack blog"-Damien Mulley

About me

  • An early-thirties male Irish technologist living and working in Dublin, I'm a former (recovering) member of both Fianna Fáil and the Roman Catholic Church.

    I'm not a member of any political party these days, but my opinions can be broadly categorised as 'lefty' and republican. I am also a former member of the Irish Defence Forces.

    Please feel free to check out the FI Fie Foe Fum group blog, where I was once a regular contributor, and the Cedar Lounge Revolution, where I can usually be found in the comments.

    (This blog and its contents reflect only my own personal opinions as a private citizen, and not those of any other person or organisation.)


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