Tweeting Checking: Is Jeremy Corbyn Labour’s first Black Leader?

It wasn’t too bad a week. Sure, Owen Jones defended Maoist China, a Tory MEP demanded treason laws cover those with “extreme EU loyalty”, Netanyahu asserted that Hitler didn’t really want to exterminate the Jews a week after turning Israeli Arabs into second class citizens, while Billy Bragg said it was up to the British Jews community to rebuild trust with the Labour party, not the other way around, and a literal neo-Nazi is now openly running for Mayor of Toronto, but the unmooring of Betsy DeVos’ yacht did give me a giggle.

Two things get me about that though: firstly, that the US education secretary has a $40 million yacht (with an on-duty crew); and secondly, out of all the possible names she could’ve given it, she called it the Seaquest, a name stinking of cheese that must’ve come from the ridiculous mid-‘90s TV show.

Of the 31 tweets I had gathered over the week, 17 involved the on-going and seemingly never-ending anti-Semitism controversy, which is set to go on especially after it was revealed what Corbyn himself said about the “hand of Israel” back in 2012. But it couldn’t all be anti-Semitism…you have to give stupidities equal time as much as possible.

5. Leave.EUC:\Users\Owner\AppData\Local\Temp\IMG_1417.jpg

 

Yes, how dare the Vauxhall CLP members attempt to deselect an MP who votes against their views, against their constituents’ views (77.6% voted to remain), against the views of the Labour leadership, against the general views of the PLP, and against the views of the general membership?

If anything, this is the most apt deselection of all time: the CLP members want it, the leadership find Hoey a drag, the rest of the PLP despise her, she has essentially no support base elsewhere in the party, and her constituents it seems would not mind at all it.

Don’t you understand? Hoey has done the impossible and successfully brought Corbynite and anti-Corbynite together in a coalition of disapproval.

And as to her being “proper Labour” in the mould of Tony Benn, I don’t think even Benn—a man who defended Mao—would’ve been seen dead with Farage.

4. Aaron Bastani

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Jonathan Healey, the historian, goes into Batsani’s points from a qualified historical-analytical perspective, but I’d just like to say that if you can’t differentiate between workhouses, which as brutal as they were, were a social policy to give employment to the poor (and to force them to seek employment/domicile elsewhere in the long term), and gulags, which were deadly frozen places of forced labour, starvation, and torture where you were sent for political dissention, then you’re at best either disingenuous. As I write this, I can’t help but think of that poor local official in Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago who got sent to die in Siberia because he was the first person to stop clapping in a room of party members applauding Stalin.

Bernard Lewis, who wrote a book on the Swansea workhouse, puts it best: “Prisons were built to keep you IN and workhouses to keep you OUT.'

3. Tom Pride

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Much of the IHRA controversy ultimately comes from many refusing to read and understand the actual text of the document. It is disingenuous and wrong to say that calling Netanyahu’s comments “offensive bullshit” would be regarded as “anti-Semitic”—also disingenuous to say that the IHRA definition is the province of “right-wing Jewish groups”, as well as an attempt to undermine mainstream Jewish opinion as a partisan conspiracy.

Nothing in the IHRA Working Definition of Anti-Semitism stops Tom Pride calling out Netanyahu for his “offensive bullshit”. You can criticise the Israeli government, its ministers, and its policies as much as you like as long as you don’t indulge in anti-semitic tropes or exclusive criticism. As Jonathan Freeland writes: “the only pro-Palestinian [individual] who needs to fear the IHRA is the one who wants to say Jews are disloyal to their own countries, that Jews are Nazis and that the very idea of Jews having a homeland of their own is “a racist endeavour”.”

Being called “anti-semitic” has become almost something of a status symbol, a mark of unjust oppression. People like this want to be called anti-semitic because it gives them a certain credibility amongst anti-Zionists and Corbynites. In an age where the concept of “truth” has effectively broken down, people on both the Left and the Right are actively attempting to break down the borders of what constitutes bigotry for their own game.

2. Lester Holloway

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This is what happens when you spend your entire life in some radical bubble: you begin to think that despite your white middle class status## you are one of the oppressed.

When they used to call Bill Clinton the “first black president”, it was meant in relation to his actual policies to help African-Americans (although Toni Morrison’s original comment it seems was misunderstood). Here, although his policies are alluded to, seem to indicate that Corbyn somehow represents and embodies the modern black Briton, in spite of having none of that group’s qualities, namely through not being black, but also having quite the wealthy background. Spending a portion of your youth in Jamaica and having a love affair with your black future Shadow Home Secretary does not make you black. If anything, I’d call him perhaps the whitest man in England, so white in fact that his neighbours have allegedly observed him getting out of the shower and reported his chest being completely see-through.

Indeed, some have suggested the overbearing middle class whiteness of the Labour leadership is partly responsible for the current anti-semitism mess.

  1. 1. Paul

C:\Users\Owner\AppData\Local\Temp\IMG_1412.jpgre were many possible examples of tweets to show that in spite of everything that has happened, Corbynites just don’t know or don’t care what anti-semitism actually is. There was Mehdi Hasan claiming that the Jewish paper leaders were “alarmist, offensive, dishonest and dangerous”; there was Kerry-Anne Mendoza saying that the leaders “abuse[d] the daily victims of all racism”; and there was “Pablo Miller’s Vest” claiming that Margaret Hodges’ actions were the cause of British Jews’ stress.

But this takes the first prize.

Claims that Jews are the source of their own anti-semitism is actually one of the most common forms of anti-semitism, as is painting the accused anti-Semite as the real victim—he himself says that is “hurt and worried” at the end of his thread.

Claims of an “orchestrated campaign” also make it look as though these papers are somehow responsible for the situation rather than attempting to present a united front in the face of it.

Paul seems to struggle to identify anti-semitism at all: a direct invocation of “Jewish banking houses” on the same thread is at best only an “echo” of “real anti-semitism” for him. However, he is always ready to identify anti-semitism when it comes from the Right.

Clearly, not only have many Corbynites not acceded to reasonable demands, they have pushed back hard, emboldened their rhetoric, and some are having no problem in suggesting that Jews be expelled from Labour or even forced into exile from the country.

It’s always easy to imagine yourself too good to commit evil, because that’s the first step in actually being able to justify committing it yourself or ignoring it being committed by your friends and allies. Legislation and attitudes to protect free speech, pluralism, checks and balances, and to prohibit discrimination exist as much to protect both minorities and majorities from you and your allies and much as from your political enemies and their allies.

 

 

More about the author

About the author

Harris Coverley writes the Tweet Checking column for Disclaimer and is constantly looking for readers to help him correct the worst of internet. No stupidity or falsehood is too great a challenge.

He lives in Manchester and holds an MA in Intellectual History from UCL. He also writes short fiction and poetry, the former of which only Disclaimer has had the good sense to publish.

Follow Harris on Twitter.

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