Saturday, March 25, 2006

Kember- there's only so much oxygen, you're being greedy.

I noticed this lavish op-ed from Bruce Kent, former head of CND, on the BBC.

It's a good example of how leftists have privileged and easy access to the state sponsored soap box that the BBC is able to offer.

Bruce Kent's pedigree as a political agitator is a long one, and I've no doubt his apologia for wrong-headed activism is well practiced.

I don't really like criticising people like Kent and Kember. It's not because they're well-meaning, which is something I don't really believe, but because they are clumsy and obvious.

Kent, for instance, justifying Kember, says

'He could see there were a lot of people in Iraq who were hurting and suffering, who had lost relations or been imprisoned. Whatever their nationality, our job as Christians and as people interested in peace was to offer help and consolation to people who were suffering. That was Norman's basic wish.'

Here we have a combination of straw man and faux charity.

Firstly the nationality issue was not an issue. If he said that Kember went to protect the Sunni minority from a backlash from Shias that might have some semblance of sense- but don't expect any such precision from people like Kent- or Kember.

Secondly, the vast majority of Iraqis were suffering first from the tyranny of Saddam, and afterwards from the tyranny of his regime remnants and the terrorists who have killed Iraqis, but especially Shias, by the score. Kember was a major kind of propaganda tool for the insurgents (so called), and thus was de facto taking sides in the conflict. Unfortunately for him, his propaganda value was not seen as being high enough by the so-called insurgents, so they kidnapped him and others, and killed one of them.

Kent proclaims the virtue of Kember's desire to show 'we were not a country which was united in favour of what had been done.' That is precisely the message which has encouraged the insurgents (so-called) and led to thousands of deaths as they seek to further tip the balance helpfully pointed out by Kent, Kember and their ilk.

Thirdly, what 'help' was it that Kember intended to provide? Did he take with him supplies and equipment? In this case he must be very stupid if he does not know that the US is in Iraq with all the necessary equipment to help Iraqis should there be peace enough to enable proper reconstruction.

As is typical, the Christian anti-war campaigner says that 'we as Christians are commanded to be concerned about the suffering and imprisonment of others - it's an explicit mandate to us.'

Well, if you insist. However the same obviously (and this is why I rarely comment on such things) applies to the suffering and imprisoned people in Iraq under Saddam. Kember was explicitly rejecting their rights by opposing the war in Iraq. Definitely the idea of compassion shouldn't extend to those actively engaged in murder and torture, as the so-called insurgents have been, for example the 'defenders' of Fallujah. There were many under Saddam's Iraq though who had not abused anyone yet were subject to vicious oppression.

Kent goes on to say 'We send out government people and contractors and God knows who else as well as soldiers, and they all take major risks, some of them for commercial reasons and some for political or other purposes.'

Yes indeed: and all of them have rational reasons for being where they are and doing what they do, whereas Kember had none- unless, that is, one analyses his actions politically and as a consequence of a classic case of holier than thou emotional rather than rational, self-aggrandising rather than humble, superior and pampered western condescension to events of global significance.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Changing Media

David Aaronovitch has a fascinating post up about media change over the last twenty years. Lots of fine insights. One of the most recent changes has been the Times' launch of blog sites. They're not bad, in general, but Aaro's is like watching a duck entering the water. Can't say I'm too enthusiastic about having a blog broadside from Britain's media establishment, but hey-ho, I think participation is healthy.

Meanwhile, this type of journalism could be the consequence of the coincidence of media change stress syndrome with Bush derangement syndrome. Not pretty.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

BBC gab fest taking place as Norman Kember is 'freed'. I've never bothered to talk about him as he didn't seem too important, but look at these guys gush.

However, I notice now the ambiguity of the word 'freed'. It does seem to me that that word 'rescued' seems more appropriate.

Certainly I do not think we should be hearing from the latest terrorist celebrity, Moazzam Begg. If not a terrorist, this man consorted with them, and now the BBC is allowing some spurious and evidently inconsequential words he used to advocate Kember's release in December as a justification for his rehabilitation into an acceptable face of Islamic extremism.

'Moazzam Begg, who publicly pleaded for the release of Mr Kember in December, said he was "ecstatic" at the news.

He said: "I am extremely pleased. I am very, very happy and hope to meet him soon after he gets back here.

"I am a little concerned about the military operation and hope that nobody was hurt during that.

"It is the best news to come out of Iraq in a long time.

"I just know the experience of being kept away from your home for such a long time. He needs time to recover and I hope that everybody gives him that." '

heh- "I am a little concerned about the military operation and hope that nobody was hurt during that." - wouldn't want any of his friends harmed during the 'freeing' of infidels, would he?

Interesting stuff from the DT on Begg here. For the BBC to use Begg as a quotable source on the Kember matter implies a firm assumption about Guantanamo and US interrogation procedures. That's no surprise, but sometimes media judgements become foundational, and treating Begg as a quotable source is one such.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Some Anniversaries But Not Others

In the post below I noted the tenth anniversary of the predictions of doom that accompanied a Government announcement about Mad Cow Disease. Nothing from the Beeb about that. It would actually be interesting to read an anatomisation of mindless hype, so there's little chance of the Beeb going near it. They loved saying 'how could the US intelligence have been so wrong over Iraq WMD etc', but somehow fail to see the dramatic shortfall between expectation and reality when it comes to their own deranged pontifications.

Needless to say, they make space to remember a nuclear accident, Chernobyl, where slighty fewer people- 56 - died than have died so far in the CJD crisis (which nevertheless represents a case study example of failed punditry). Of course we can argue about fallout in terms of defects of birth and whatnot, but this comment in the BBC's Have Your Say, like a seed fallen on stony ground, seems to me to have real merit:

'How about querying why the environmental pressure groups' estimate of 300,000 to 400,000 deaths caused by Chernobyl does not tally with the actual death toll to 2004 of 56.'

1 recommendation demonstrates how the reality game is a minority sport.

Oh, and another thing: I really resent the BBC's giving the ETA ghouls centre stage for a spurious announcement made in full fascist regalia. Who made these evil clowns the story except their own pathetic and murderous activities? I so dislike the BBC's responding to the whims of people only notable for their criminality.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Wrong Again: the MSM

Richard North has a classic post up at Euref; one of those where the apparently unstoppable force of media hype meets the immoveable object of historical fact, and squishes like an overripe tomato.

As the BBC have been reminding us, it's the third anniversary of the Iraq war. If it weren't that they were reminding us about that perhaps there'd be a new season of climate change reporting instead, or Guatanamo, or oppressed Muslims in Europe or...

But we're unlikely to hear about the anniversary of the predictions of mass deaths from BSE. Richard points out that there have been only 160 confirmed or probable cases of vCJD (people alive or dead) in the decade since the Tory Government was lambasted by the MSM (well, they were idiots by that stage, but they were punished less for their real faults than for media generated and spun ones). North quotes the Observer. It's difficult to believe such hysteria could have existed, until you contemplate some of the absurd hysteria about today. In fact, if anything the situation has got worse, and writers like North and Booker who were pointing out the reality back then are certainly further from the media hub than they were.

Apologies for the lack of posting yesterday. Of course, I am also sorry about the hiatus that occurred in recent weeks, but this was almost wholly due to technical matters beyond my control eg. being given the wrong password for an upgraded ISP connection! (amongst other things) duh. There are two compounding factors; one, I live and work in Prague, thereby reducing my ability to communicate over matters which in the UK would be simply solved (Czech is a difficult language; I am not confident using it). Second I have very limited patience with the technology, and I don't really cope well when it misbehaves.

Yesterday, at any rate, I had a very busy day and when I finally got to sit in front of a screen with time to blog I found several things which belonged on Biased BBC instead of here. Thus it goes sometimes.

Still, regarding blogging I found this a very heartening piece- not to say delightful- from Scott Burgess. In my view blogging has far to go before it has revealed the extent of its potential, but as Scott points out, it has some intrinsic qualities which, if you like, give the project its water wings. My view of newspaper/antique media today is that it's hideously reductive, lacking the sense of social responsibility which undergirded its history. So in those respects, in a way, blogging can't fail- which makes it a likely success story, I feel.

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