Made in China

Image courtesy of Evening Standard.

Image courtesy of Evening Standard.

It’s hardly news: China runs tings. Last year saw David Cameron and a bunch of blue-blooded mafia mates head east, hoping to score fat trade deals on such British laurels as Peter Rabbit and…and well it’s hard to dig up anything else save guns and bombs. Surprising that ‘Great’ Britain still makes them, really.

The boot is truly on the other foot. A stroll down the high street this January would have ended up in one of the clothing chains or other, seduced by stratagems like ‘Up to 70% Off’ (NB “up to”). Likely more than 70% of the merch was made in China. And quite likely a growing percentage of the shoppers were too.

One such stroll found me on Carnaby Street, where I stopped for a moment–instantly buffeted by phone zombies and retail junkies–to take in the sight of a young Chinese lad and his family jerking their chins at the Doctor Marten’s shop.

At first I imagined they were charmed, thinking perhaps this was the original Doctor Martens, it being the famous Carnaby Street and all. Then I realized this was rubbish; they were more likely mildly surprised by the small size of the shop compared its gargantuan exported versions in shopping malls from Shanghai to Guangzhou. (Or should that be imported, as it’s more than likely that Doctor Martens is Chinese owned?)

It was not the shifting tides of international power microcosmed into a long-ago simulated London shopping street that really struck me, but the utter failure of that “great equalizer”––Globalisation–– to do anything for human culture. I mean, come on, it’s early days, Tony Blair would say.

But it isn’t. It’s very late days if anything. Shifting tides of the third dimension mean that middle class families from China can either send their offspring to learn––what? retail science? bomb making?––at British universities and spend their ample pocket money in the high street fashion stores and all with the exact same expat dynamic observed by Brits the world over. Alright, globalization has equalized something…

So now there’s a Doctor Martens, a Lush, a Zara and of course the obvious purveyors of chemically treated animal flesh in every city. Wander into one of those stores, comforted by its familiarity, its layout, product range and even prices identical to those back home. Frictions, such as language and cultural barriers, have been bulldozed flat. Possibly, there are cross cultural treasures to be found in, say, charming little differences in product range between Zara, London and Zara, Kuala Lumpur. Possibly those differences are more exciting than those between Zara Regent Street and Zara, Oxford Street.

But by and large urban culture is freefalling into that lowest common denominator of the shopping mall, scene of the original zombie movie, George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and of J.G. Ballard’s last novel, Kingdom Come, whose flawed structure nevertheless prophecies the kind of action that unfolded at the post Christmas sales at Asda, Ikea and other religious festivals up and down the country. ‘The human race sleepwalked to oblivion, thinking only of the corporate logos on it’s shroud,’ wrote Ballard.

The rest is familiar posthuman history, which is hardly worth writing about. Of course you are waiting for the ironic, shamanic reversal behind it. And for that I turn once again to that most useful online corner, the internet anagram server, for this gem:

Machine and I

Which says it all.

© 2014 Nizami Thirteen

 

 

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Vote Inner Obama

inner-obamaMunivara Ashram, Ubud, Bali. Lifting my torso into cobra pose one afternoon, my sweating face was suddenly gripped between the powerful hands of Mr Ketut Arsana. Are you Obama? he said. And so began my curious resonance with the Black President.

As I write, from Kinokuniya bookstore in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is adjusting itself to vague disillusionment at the non-result of the 13th general election. Shortly after midnight last night, the ruling party, Barisan National, was announced as the winner. BN is the current version of the same power base that has ruled this young country since the legendary Mahatir Muhammad (aka Dr Umum) architected Malaysia’s particular mix of nationalism, federalism, corporatism, ethnic and religious diversity in 1981. Umum held his post as Prime Minister and head of UMNO (then ruling party, now incorporated into the BN coalition) for a record 22 years.

Ethnically mamak (Malaysian Indian Muslim) Dr Umum was (is) a living legend. In his time he was the man who stood up to the old colonial powers in trade battles. On several famous occasions – Apartheid South Africa and Bosnia for instance – he called them on their hypocrisy and double standards. In turn he was criticised – not unlike the late Hugo Chavez perhaps – for his centralisation of power and erosion of civil liberties. There was the famous showdown with former UMNO deputy Anwar Ibrahim, which lead to the latter’s imprisonment on charges of buggery. Malaysia still has no free press. (Well, does anyone?) To the West, Dr Umum became “Asia’s Dr No.”

As with any power base that resists change over time, stagnant channels begin to stink. Croneyism, money and houses for votes for instance. To be expected, you could argue, and all rather innocent against the politrix of big boys like Bush and Blair. This morning, Malaysians – a sizeable minority at least – suffered a blue Monday. The blue BN pennants continue to flutter from every available lamppost and railing. Probably they’ll still be fluttering there in six months time. The will of the people – a sizeable minority at least – has failed.

Probably the majority of Malaysians voted for no change. The choice after all was between BN and a coalition including Chinese, Sikh, Hindu, Islamic and assorted other elements – in other words Barisan National or not. A magician’s choice. One imagines the long, deft hand of Dr Umum behind this strategy. Or perhaps this is a little too 007.

The heavily televised BN victory stumbled home last night amidst odd notes. Live TV crews battled exhaustion then studio hysteria to think of new angles on what was in effect an ordeal of televised absurdity. As the night wore on the only surprise was the extent of the BN majority. In the closing moments there were cries of foul play. Bus, plane, ship loads of illegal Bangladeshi labourers had been spotted outside polling stations. The live vote count website went down. The electricity supply to the main counting centre was switched off in honour of Earth Hour.

With no independent press to follow up these stories – easily dismissed on TV by BN officials – their shadows linger. Facebook Malaysians are today expressing their disgust by blacking out their profile pictures. It’s not activism Argentina or Bolivia style, exactly, but then it’s very hot here today. Others are calling for President Obama to come to Malaysia’s rescue.

It is an entirely understandable lament. Despite broken election promises (e.g. failure to dissolve that grizzled fragment of Hell on Earth known as Guantanamo) the Black President remains the most powerful icon of democratic power on the planet. Skeptics are quick to point out Obama’s many u-turns, swerves and dips, but his image continues to soar. He is a Good Man doing his best within a corrupt system. He is playing their game. If he didn’t he’d be assassinated. Or his family would. He sees the way forward for America and has the unenviable task of transmitting some tough truths to the Gung Ho nation. And so on and so forth. Arguments you will have heard in discussion with friends and relatives already.

I rather like Obama. I look a bit like Obama. To the political skeptic, the reader of indie news feeds on the internet, liking Obama is woefully – dangerously – naive. It is to labour in the black sleep of illusion. The skeptics might goad me into a fact fight. Leftie healthcare versus American involvement in Syria perhaps. But I find myself less and less interested in the facts. Obama did this, signed that, said he’d do this and then didn’t. Rather than political heat, I prefer the shade of my Obama icon.

It is an act of what Carlos Castaneda called controlled folly. I know that Obama could be torn down – not unlike those statues of Saddam Hussein – yet I choose to prefer that he isn’t. Why? Energetically speaking it is preferable that he’s there. For now. For millions of people he is a projection of hope. Are we asleep, deluded, suckered by the telly? No we’re not. I’ll wager that – to varying degrees consciously – we’ve weighed up fact versus feeling and decided to keep the Obama figure on the inner altar. It feels better. Maybe we just like his face. Otherwise what? Obviously it wasn’t Mitt Romney.

Nor is it the ‘truth’ that all of it is illusion. Iraq, Iran, Syria, Democracy. How do we feel pulling up the flagstones and watching the quicksand squirming beneath? Anxious? Depressed? Cynical? At the very least deeply skeptical in anything like the Goodness of Humanity or a Divine Plan or Evolution out of the eternal human condition of – well – damnation really, isn’t it? How’s that feel?

Umum, Najib, Anwar, Cameron

Non-illusions: Umum, Najib, Anwar, Cameron

Of course, there are times when we must turn from our smiling icon – be it Buddha, Ganesha or Obama – and face the facts. From time to time we must stare into the Abyss of Not What We Believe. We must have our faces pushed into the dirt. The bubble bursts. We see the illusion for what it is and are no longer – can no longer be – illuded by it. An illusion is only an illusion when it is not an illusion. Amongst many benefits, the process of disillusionment elevates one beyond the reaches of duff illusions like Malaysian Prime Minsiter Najib, rival Anwar Ibrahim, or for that matter British Prime Minister David Cameron. Maybe we just don’t like their faces.

Strip by strip the onion is peeled. (I read earlier that onions have more genes than humans.) Ultimately we become our own icon. Or rather, we realise that the blackness, presidentness, earthiness, goodness, fairness and love we project onto the icon is our own. In the final election, we vote Inner Obama. In my case the campaign seems to be going well. Apparently I look like him.

Antimatters

250px-Signorelli-Antichrist_and_the_devilCatching myself recently launching half-baked Facebook threads  with provocative mentions of “the Antichrist.” I’d better expand.

In traditional Christian belief, Jesus the Messiah appears in his Second Coming to earth, to face the emergence of the Antichrist figure.
[Wikipedia]

Christianity decries the Antichrist as a false prophet – the Devil’s advocate  depicted in Revelations 13 and the famous painting by Signorelli. I am not concerned here with identifying this man as Dick Cheney, the Pope, or Binyamin Netanyahu, but with something more in line with Gnostic ideas:

The only one of the late 1st/early 2nd Century Apostolic Fathers to use the term is Polycarp (ca. 69 – ca. 155) who warned the Philippians that everyone who preached false doctrine was an antichrist.[13] His use of the term Antichrist follows that of the New Testament in not identifying a single personal Antichrist, but a class of people.
[Ibid.]

But let’s rewind. In the beginning was the Word, and the word was Om. Which is not a word in the same way ‘antichrist’ is a word, but the transcription of a sound – according to the vedas, the master sound that contains all others just as white light contains all the colours of the rainbow (and beyond). Om – whose correct pronunciation moves from a to o – is the alpha and omega of Mantra.

Whereas ordinary language bundles phonemes into words and sentences, the sounds of Mantra are manifestations of ultimate reality, which is beyond (and behind) ordinary human cognition – and therefore the perennial project of human endeavour. To see it, touch it, understand it. The Tower of Babel is perhaps the most famous fable of the outcome of that endeavour. The Tower touches the heavens and God strikes it down, its builders stricken with the bewildering affliction of tongues (plural). We fall from the unified language of Mantra, the stuff of which the world is made, into the babble of ordinary tongue.

shmnc-cch-box150Mantra, like the ayahauasqero’s icaros (not to be confused with Icarus, who flew too close to the sun, though we may well admit that myth here), have creative power. They are utterable vibrations that connect directly with the stuff of the universe. Shipibo textile patterns – to name one form I am familiar with, there are many others – are maps of such vibrations. If you prefer, we can say visualisations of the sounds, but this allows the idea that the patterns are creative interpretations of the sounds, which they are not. There is a science connecting sound and pattern. Different people produce the same sounds from a particular pattern.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that the universe is made of sound. Sound is energy, which we know from Einstein to bear a linear relationship with mass, that fundamental property of the material world. Matter is thick energy, if you like. Certain sounds are harmonious, others are unsettling or enervating. Certain notes played together on a piano sound strong (yang) or mysterious (yin). Others sound dischordant. If you are struggling with the idea of the universe being made of sound, ask yourself – Why do nice chords sound nice?

Perhaps you will say that ‘nice’ is psychological, a property of the mind, which is at the end of the day explainable with recourse to neurons and neurotransmitters, the transmission of electrons along myelin molecules and so on and so forth. In that case you would also say that consciousness, though science is not yet able to do it, is also explainable as atoms and electrons – and if need arises as quarks and charms and so on.

It seems strange in this postmodern, quantum – or even post-quantum – day to find reductionism so deeply entrenched. Anything that cannot be reduced to the theories of particle physics – God, for instance –  is often met with scoffing, sarcasm, cries to wake up. Anything that cannot be reduced to particle physics is seen as delusion. Consciousness is a sort of moot point, as it is taken on faith that one day it too will be seen to be a matter of atoms and electrons. This scientific faith is seen as better than spiritual faith, because science proceeds by hypothesis and repeatable experiment.

To be sure, spirituality has taken a bashing thanks in equal measure to the rantings of generally poor, uneducated and deceived people and the rich, educated and carefully selective eye of the television camera. It is easy to go from the irrationality of burning copies of the Quran or effigies of Barack Obama to the irrationality of “everything those people stand for.” Watching scenes of chaos following publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, or the refusal of protestants in Northern Ireland to lower the Union Jack for a day, we feel compelled to knock some sense into people.

350px-Confusion_of_TonguesBut lets rewind. In the Beginning was the Word, then there was the Fall – from Eden, of the Tower of the Babel. These two are very closely related, if not one and the same. Note, by the way, the paradox already encoded in ‘In the Beginning was Om’ – in the Alpha was Omega. The Fall happened because of Identification. Adam and Eve suddenly knew who they were. Adam knew the Names of Things. The Fall from Mantra into language takes place because of Identification.

Sounds produced are no longer of the same sonic substance as the universe itself but lie at a remove. The sounds now represent or encode. They require interpretation, which, if the sounds are to constitute communication requires the kind of convention Wittgenstein called a Language Game. I can crack a joke with you. You can tell me the world is made of quarks and charms. Well. You can try, but whether or not I buy it is a matter of language games. Do I play the same ones as you?

I don’t play the Consciousness Explained game. Because consciousness cannot be explained. (What does it actually mean to explain something anyway? But that’s another article.) The big difference between esoteric thinking and reductionist-materialist thinking is this:

  • Esoteric: consciousness is itself a fundamental property, like gravity or electromagnetic forces
  • Materialist: consciousness reduces to atoms and electrons.

Just as white light contains all the colours of the rainbow, so Om contains all the sounds of the universe. So far that is a description – a language game I am inviting you to play. So far you’ll either buy it or you won’t. Hopefully, when I add that those sounds of the universe are themselves aware – yes, conscious! – the game suddenly sounds more interesting.

You see – or should that be hear – this sonic stuff of the universe I’ve been talking about transcends the dualism of consciousness (in here) and matter (out there). It’s both a huge idea, and at the same time something as familiar as music. Subjective energies – moods, emotions, feelings – correspond to such objective wave-making as the plucking of a string or the beating of a drum.

The world is not as out there as we think.
[Carlos Castaneda]

In other words, the Subjective should not be relegated to mere epiphenomena – the pretty and pretty pointless patterns created by the firing of neurons – but should be carefully considered as our prima facie reality. Of course, as everyone knows, appearances can be deceptive. Learning happens when we discover we have been deceived, and – ideally – how we have been deceived. We move on with an improved idea about the world.

The problem for those who identify with the Consciousness Explained game of quarks and charms and so on, is that quarks and charms bear no relation whatsoever to ordinary human existence. They quite literally do not enter the frame. Indeed, highly specialised apparatus and conditions are necessary in order to observe events interpreted as phenomena of these invisible elements. Atoms and electrons are useful constructs for materials scientists. The rest of us need only observe that matter is made up – to the vast proportion – of empty space.

But the deniers of astrology and numerology and spirit and god and all the rest are seldom so rational. Even Richard Dawkins, the arch-materialist, fails to make the simple conceptual shift that awareness/consciousness is not phenomenon but noumenon. There is an old fashioned English word ‘nouse’ meaning ‘wits’. The matter is emotive because there is identification. To be precise: identification with the reductiveness of consciousness. Which is identification with the lying-at-a-remove of the Fallen. Identification with the husks of Babel.

Identifying oneself with something reducible to atoms and electrons is thus to play a game in which either everything – including consciousness and God – is similarly reducible or does not exist. Recruitment into this game is the function of the Antichrist – the Devil’s Advocate who arrives to explain Creation away as atoms and electrons. According to Biblical prophecy, the Reign of the Antichrist – interpreted successively in recent times as communism, capitalism, the New World Order – is a necessary precursor to the End of the World and the Second Coming.

In other words, perhaps the deathwish of identification with the material is necessary for human beings to realise the existence of spirit.

That said, what am I doing trying to rumble the mission of the Antichrist?

 

11

Google image search on “911”

Eleven years on from 9/11 I am sitting in a small room on the 26th floor of a 39 floor tower in downtown Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A downpour has suddenly begun, and I am peering, slightly alarmed, out the window, between the air con units, across the 50 meters of airspace to the still under construction Shell Building opposite. The latter tower is – after some tautological marketing calculus – deemed ‘green’. Unpicking how thousands of tons of concrete and steel assembled by low-paid migrant workers from Punjab and Bangladesh into a 50 floor air conditioned blue glass box is ‘green’ is not what I want to do here. I only want to take my place along with the millions of other bloggers and armchair activists out there who will be saying something about the sudden removal of the World Trade Center from the New York skyline eleven years ago.

The Shell Building on fire, KL, 18 Jan 2012

Personally, I was convinced that all was not what it seemed – that an amorphous anti-West phantom called Al Qua’ida had orchestrated the attacks as part of their global Jihad against “Our Way of Life” – the instant a passport bearing the name “Mohammed Atta” and a Qur’an were ‘found’ in the glove compartment of a car in the WTC carpark within the hour of the planes striking the towers. You remember the television pictures. The clouds of dust. The people running away. Ask yourself if it was really possible to have found such a needle – such a convenient needle – in that haystack?

The word CONSPIRACY will be flashing up on your inner screen. That haystack is already oversized, bristling with articles about the ‘TRUTH’ of 9/11, ‘INSIDE JOBS’ and so on. This is not another one of those articles.

One thing strikes me about 9/11 eleven years on. Which is that the majority of people still believe the official story: that Al Qua’ida did it, which was why Afghanistan was bombed, and in turn Iraq invaded.

The latter consequence – which has been logically, legally and factually dismantled by a great many people – should, and I think does give these 9/11 Official Story people pause for thought. Just as Copernicus’s logical and factual account of the Earth orbiting the Sun gave the Vatican pause for thought. Yet the Vatican has yet to officially accept the Copernicus model. This is precisely the sort of cataclysm depicted in that most fearsome of Tarot glyphs, The Tower.

Tarot: The Tower

The Tower as depicted by Pamela Coleman-Smith in the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck

So if you find yourself pausing for thought regards what actually happened re 9/11, ask yourself, what is it you have invested in the Official Story? I am not asking you to believe in any other account. There is, I think, no need to go into the details of melting points of steel, or the demolition patterns of similar buildings and so on. I think it’s enough to take the Invasion of Iraq on false premises (Al Qua’ida hiding there armed with weapons of mass destruction) and to work backwards from there in order to arrive at questions about the Official Story. We needn’t even take into account the published papers of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz on the New American Century and the ‘hamletization’ of various parts of the world to observe some sort of strategy at work.

I have heard many people argue that the various US bodies typically pointed at by conspiracy theorists – the FBI, the CIA, the Secret Service, FEMA, the Department of Homeland Defence etc etc – are simply not competent enough to handle any such strategy. That may be the case. One could certainly argue that 9/11 wasn’t handled particularly smoothly, hence the many holes in the Official Story.

But the point is simply that there is a question mark. A great big one. The answer to it lies in your own response. What would you like to be the answer and why? And what would you fear the answer to be and why? Somewhere in that spectrum lies ‘THE TRUTH ABOUT 9/11’.

In fact, regardless of all the mayhem and death that began on 9/11, the point of the event is this question. Considering it honestly and answering it truthfully for oneself is the way to honour the thousands of American citizens, hundreds of thousands of Afghan citizens, millions of Iraqi citizens and the thousands of individuals of all nationalities that have been detained without charge, rendered, tortured, and murdered in furtherance of the Official Story.

Do have a think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funny dictated

The 911 scene

The 911 scene from The Dictator

I sat down to write a simple review of The Dictator and found myself hesitating and thinking twice, thrice before writing anything at all. It’s difficult to comment on the film without being drawn into the highly complex territory of ‘Anti-semitism’.

I sat through the 90 mins of toilet humour (including rape jokes) trying to work out the film’s agenda. Conclusion? The film is a mashup, memetically all over the place by accident, on purpose, or accidentally on purpose. Probably the third option.

The sense of non-plussed bemusement rather than challenging confusion or outrage I experienced I put down to the film’s use of triplespeak: pretend to pretend that the ‘pretend’ agenda blasted all over it is just a joke.

Which, once you cancel out the pretending-not-tos, winds down to a fairly simple proposition: that the Middle East’s Only Democracy is streets ahead in terms of the politics of memes. Which, of course it is. I may be oversimplifying. I may have missed an ironic turn in the equations here.

The scene near the beginning – you will recognise it from the trailer at least – where The Dictator runs the 100m in his own Olympics, which he must win at pain of death to other competitors, is quite funny. As is the comic refrain of Aladeen making throat-cutting gestures to order so and so’s  execution – for such ludicrous disagreements as getting in his way on the stairs. And other slapstickiness that other commentators have commented echoes Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy.

But Baron Cohen lives in a different era. The Dictator’s name is Aladeen, i.e. Allah deen, ‘faith in God’. Muslims will have to suck that one up or be seen as humourless anti-semites. Haha! Arabs will have to take leaves from Kazakhstan’s book on how to see the funny side of being portrayed as rapists and goat-fuckers. Women will have to schlerp it on being portrayed as bed fodder. Sexy Beast fans will observe Sir Ben’s Kingsley’s now irrefutable status as Prize Arsehole.

And anyone attuned to more intelligent (and more funny) humour a la Chris Morris, Stephen Merchant, Ricky Gervais etc etc will I think wonder who finds cock and jizz/ hotdog and mustard jokes funny. There is a weird, low-brow broadside to the film. As if it’s begging for someone to, Irvine Welsh style, haul up the sash window and shout out ‘THAT’S FUCKING SHITE!’

But it’s more complicated than that.

What are we to make of the “911 Scene” (pictured), where Aladeen (Baron Cohen) and Nadal (Jason Mantzoukas), take a tourist helicopter ride, and pretend (i.e. pretend to pretend to pretend) to discuss a 911-style hijack in mock-Arabic that neither actor can quite keep from sliding into mock-Hebrew. The two languages are semitic after all. All those ‘kh’ sounds.

We could complain that Baron Cohen and Mantzoukas are openly mocking Arabs. Sure, there is much to be mocked about Arabs; there is much to be mocked about anyone and everyone. We could say the whole film mocks Arabs. Borat body-swerved being anti-Kazakh by ‘in fact mocking American midwestern anti-semitism.’ Does the same body-swerve work here? Is the mockery of Arabs in fact only pretend – the real mockery being of American paranoia about 9/11, as represented by the two American tourists in the helicopter? I can’t work it out.

I was also bemused the film’s climax, where Aladeen decries the film’s treaty to democratise the fictional dictatorship Wadiya as a smokescreen for corporate grab of its oil and other natural resources. There then follows a remarkable excursion into ‘leftist’ politics, viz:

  • Imagining America as a dictatorship (Dick Cheney has been mentioned earlier among Khadaffi and Kim Jong Il as one of the world’s great dictators), and then
  • Keeping 99% of wealth to the richest 1%
  • Taxing the poor
  • Filling prisons with “one particular racial group” [camera closes on an African man]
  • Using the media to scare people into support for policies against their interests…

And at that point The Girl enters, allowing the device of Aladeen looking at her and declaring his love for Democracy, with all its imperfections.

Leftist credentials established via apparent criticism of the Invasion of Iraq, we rewind to the early scenes of the film, where we see Aladeen making his first public speech, announcing that Wadiya have enriched ‘weapons grade uranium’, and sniggering that it ‘is for peaceful purposes’. This scene can only be seen as a step firmly in favour of the current hardline stance towards Iran – most vociferously put by Israel, which, it says is entirely justified given Iran’s hardline towards it. The complexities are nutshelled by Aladeen’s line at the end of this speech: “…will be used only for purposes of medical research…and will certainly never be used to attack Is…Is…Oh boy.”

Here Baron Cohen pretends to body-swerve the furore that follows mention of  Is****. Why did he have Aladeen ‘almost’ say it? (Why daren’t I mention it now?) Struggling a little with Peter Bradshaw’s uncritical review of the film, I arrived at one of the comments at the bottom of the page…

…actually I was only pretending to have done that.

In actual fact I arrived via google on ‘Peter Bradshaw’ at the CIFWatch web page. CIFWatch, for those who don’t know (I didn’t until now) is a website dedicated to monitoring the Guardian’s Comment Is Free pages. Its mission is stated on its masthead:

The particular page I arrived at singles out one particular response to Peter Bradshaw’s review:

Screen Shot of CIFWatch's screenshot of Guardian

Screen Shot of CIFWatch’s screenshot of Guardian

Which CIFWatch dissect as follows:

Unpacking this comment (which has thus far garnered 39 ‘Recommends’):

  • Conflating of Jews with Israelis: Cohen, a British Jew, is immediately tied to Israel. (Also, see this CW post about a similarly bigoted attack on Cohen by the Guardian’s Michael White.)
  • Classic projection: The suggestion that Israel is an extreme anti-Arab, anti-Islamic country is a perfect moral inversion in light of the Arab world’s malign obsession with Jews and Israel, and endemic culture of antisemitism. It takes a lot of ideological conditioning to see the last 64 years as the Israeli/Jewish war against the Arab/Islamic world.
  • Thinly veiled Nazi analogy: The reader sees a Jew mocking Arab dictators as somehow analogous to Germans mocking Jews in the years leading up to the Holocaust.

This off-topic, gratuitously anti-Zionist (and ad hominem) attack on Cohen has not been deleted by CiF moderators.

If you visit the Peter Bradshaw review and click through the comments to page 4 you now find:

Screen Shot of Guardian Comment page

Screen Shot of Guardian Comment page

So the comment has been removed. Why?

Perhaps the Nazi analogy was the straw that broke the camels back (Haha – joke, guys!) The ‘Classic Projection’ accusation – the absurd and abhorrent suggestion that Israel is anti-Arab (where in Gaza did ATTW get that idea?) is a piece of simple Doublethink not worthy of our attention here. Nor is the tacit admission of CIFWatch’s gratuitously Zionist stance in their final comment on the comment.

The first point is the interesting one: Conflating of Jews with Is****is. Baron Cohen is British and Jewish, and therefore tracing a route to Is…Is…Oh boy! Is an illegal move. We shan’t delve into Google search results to discover the countless rebuttals of criticism of Israeli policies – esp with regards the Palestinians – as “anti-semitic” – including by CIFWatchers.

No, we shall simply return to that masthead:

  

“…and the assault on Is****’s legitimacy…” I think makes the site’s connection from Jews to Is**** quite clear.

The quote from CP Scott simply baffles me. Is it another ironic twist? Who was CP Scott anyway? Wikipedia:

Charles Prestwich Scott (26 October 1846 – 1 January 1932) was a British journalist, publisher and politician. Born in Bath, Somerset,[1] he was the editor of the Manchester Guardian (now the Guardian) from 1872 until 1929 and its owner from 1907 until his death. He was also a Liberal Member of Parliament and pursued a progressive liberal agenda in the pages of the newspaper.

Hmmm… So a quote from a former editor of the Guardian, viz the voice of opponents no less than that of friends has a right to be heard” appears in the masthead of a website dedicated to monitoring the Guardian’s Comment is Free pages. Whether CIFWatch had anything to do with the comment shown above being removed or not is of course speculation.

 

Conclusion

I hesitate to come to a conclusion.

The Is****i-P****tinian “issue” is well documented elsewhere.

Rather than appearing (or pretending) to outline any “agenda” on behalf of Is…Is… (any such thing is therefore Classic Projection on the reader’s part) I hope to have induced in the reader a certain confusion. A stumbling from proposition to proposition, from pro this to anti that and back again. This is the feeling that accompanied my viewing of The Dictator. I am tempted to say that the film is smokescreen, blurring vision of the complex terrain of the Middle East. But that would only be Classic Projection on my part. I am finally tempted to say that, whatever agenda the film simulates, dissimulates or simply doesn’t have (Ha!), attempting to progress a politics of memes by attrition, by spinning doubly and trebly around them, is surely a hiding to nothing. But that would only be thinly veiled analogy.

The author disclaims knowledge, inference, deduction or any other form of cognitive production of any connection between the members of the movie industry mentioned above and the Middle East’s Only Democracy.

More on Triplespeak in my article on Rachel Corrie.