OK, so it’s frankly hilarious that a RESPECT councillor and Socialist Workers Party member has defected to the Tories. But describing him as a “socialist jihadist conservative” is offensive, stupid, illiberal and anti-democratic, not to mention libellous.
For a start, it assumes facts not in evidence. Mr Hussain is not, to the best of my knowledge, on record anywhere as “apologising for Al-Qaida” or advocating “violent revolutionary struggle”. Secondly, the only people who think RESPECT is a “jihadist” organisation are Decent Left twerps desperately trying to smear anyone who was right about Iraq. Jihadis do things like, well, waging jihad. RESPECT organises demos against Oona King. There is a considerable margin of difference here.
Perhaps his political activity is an expression of the Sufi understanding of jihad as inner struggle. I dunno. You’d have to ask the guy. Presuming to divine other people’s thoughts, and discovering that – astonishingly – they are exactly what would be most creditable or discreditable to the target depending on partisan allegiance, is a tactic of the most unpleasant political characters of our time.
But it’s worse than that; the very notion that, as Graham says, there is a “difference between the Lib Dem opposition to the war and the Respect opposition” is repellent. We both opposed it because it was wrong and it was stupid. It has however been a consistent tactic of the Right, and of the Government’s pet columnists, to accuse opponents of the war of being pro-terrorist. It’s always been easier to push this at RESPECT because its membership includes the far Left, who are not respectable, and brown people. But push it they would at the Liberals if there were only more of us.
There is no point trying to appease this bullshit. It’s the politics of denunciations. They will constantly demand more – do you condemn this? will you dissociate from X? you surely don’t believe Y? are you one of them? can you prove it? Once you accept the idea that opinions that are right in themselves are wrong because they come from those people, you’ll accept the crap the powerful want you to believe about those people. And they will always want more denunciations.
As George Orwell said:
The very people who for twenty years had sniggered over their own superiority to war hysteria were the ones who rushed straight back into the mental slum of 1915. All the familiar wartime idiocies, spy-hunting, orthodoxy-sniffing (Sniff, sniff. Are you a good anti-Fascist?), the retailing of atrocity stories, came back into vogue as though the intervening years had never happened.
Right, that’s six paragraphs, 464 words, devoted to a not very important blogger from a third political party’s pointless abuse of a similarly unimportant petty politico from a fourth political party in a two party system. Blogs, eh? Changing the world. But there’s an important principle involved, which is that we really ought to apply the same rules to ourselves we want others to respect. Just as hit-pieces sourced to Peter Oborne’s arse are just as wrong when they agree with us as otherwise, throwing around accusations of treason is a practice that is just as repellent from our side as from the kind of people who specialise in it.
Update: The evidence is here. Apparently, some other guy once quoted Walden Bello in an article that was neither by or about Mr Hussein, nor did it even contain his name. Thoughtcrime!
Ah well, this is what really getting into political parties does to you…anyway, the dogs bark, the caravan moves on. To more important matters, which is after all 99.9% of the things I could possibly write about.