Top ten stooges, part two

Yesterday we revisited five of our top ten useful stooges of 2016. Here are the other five, who happen to have one thing in common: a readiness to defend Islam, the premier totalitarian force of our time. 

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Ben Norton

He hates Israel, calls the U.S. a “rogue state,” celebrates the legacy of the Black Panthers, and reflexively responds to each new act of terrorism by fretting about anti-Muslim backlash and smearing critics of Islam. He’s boy scribe Ben Norton, who when he’s not writing for Salon – an execrable enough venue – can be found at such vile pro-jihad sites as Electronic Intifada and Middle East Monitor. Instead of condemning the murderers of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists in January 2015, Norton slammed the victims as racists. Instead of writing about the massacres in Boston, San Bernardino, and Orlando (media attention to such events, he argues, only boosts bigotry), he penned an entire article about a white lady who’d jumped a hijab-clad woman on a Washington, D.C., sidewalk.

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Laurie Penny

Laurie Penny was born into a prosperous family (both her parents were lawyers), went to a posh English public school, studied at Oxford, and was soon a highly successful journalist and author. But she’s still (as she constantly whines) a victim of sexism, a member of an “oppressed class.” And every man’s an oppressor – except, note well, for those Muslim males who act on the permission their religion gives them to beat, rape, and even kill women with impunity. So it was that when gangs of “refugees” committed mass rape in Cologne last New Year’s Eve, Penny turned her ire not on the rapists, but on the “racists” who responded to this crime by criticizing Islam. 

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Sally Kohn

It sounds like a set-up for a bad joke: a Jewish lesbian defending sharia law. But it’s no joke – it’s Sally Kohn, who after holding a series of jobs as a sleazy political operator and PR flack is now a CNN talking head. Even worse than her utter lack of a decent education is her utter lack of embarrassment about it: when an editor commissioned her to write about Amsterdam, she admitted she didn’t even know what country it was in – but that didn’t keep her from visiting it for a few days and banging out a piece accusing the natives of (what else?) Islamophobia.

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Owen Jones

“Modern capitalism is a sham,” advises British lad Owen Jones, and “democratic socialism is our only hope.” A Guardian columnist, Oxford grad, and son of Trotskyite parents, Jones is a consistent whitewasher of Islam who turns every act of jihadist terror into an excuse to denounce critics of Islam.

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Will Smith

Finally, there’s movie star Will Smith, who this year called for “cleans[ing]” America by eliminating Trump supporters. (He didn’t say how we should do it.) He also condemned America’s “Islamophobia” and extolled Dubai, which, he claimed, “dreams the way I dream.” Never mind that the UAE, where Dubai is located, is a sharia-ruled country where you can get stoned to death for being gay: Smith, a self-styled “student of world religion,” claimed that if Americans have a bad image of the place, it’s entirely the fault of Fox News.

Happy New Year!

Worse than moral equivalence

Penny Red (Penny Laurie) speaking at rally. -- Several hundred people, mainly women, came to rally outside Parliament to oppose restrictions on abortions proposed by Nadine Dorries and others, and to campaign for a woman's right to chose, both here and Northern Ireland. UK. 9th July 2011
Penny Laurie

Though she’s only 29, Laurie Penny‘s output is already depressingly large, and therefore impossible to cover adequately in just a few short pieces. Then again, a hell of a lot of it is the same thing over and over again. In other words, she’s a narrow-minded ideological scold, not an original and versatile thinker. Today we’ll conclude our week with Ms. Penny by looking at a few more bits and pieces from her oeuvre.

The first item, a July 2014 column, shows that Penny is, unsurprisingly, an eager – and vulgar – Israel-basher.  Accusing Israel of murdering hundreds of Palestinians, including children, Penny (who is herself half Jewish) claimed to be pained by anti-Semitic rhetoric on the part of Palestinians and their supporters. But she quickly added:

היום הסתיים קורס סמלים בכירים שהתקיים בבית הספר למכים וחיר של זרוע היבשה בצהל בקורס נכחו לראשונה מספר שיא של ארבע בנות שסיימו את הקורס יחדיו לראשונה ארבע הבנות יחזרו לשרת כמפקדות בכירות בפלוגות השונות בגדוד הקרקל ובחיל ההנדסה הקרבית
Bad guys?

It is not anti-Semitic to suggest that Israel doesn’t get a free pass to kill whoever it likes in order to feel “safe.” It is not anti-Semitic to point out that if what Israel needs to feel “safe” is to pen the Palestinian people in an open prison under military occupation, the state’s definition of safety might warrant some unpacking. And it is not anti-Semitic to say that this so-called war is one in which only one side actually has an army.

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Good guys?

Yesterday we noted Penny’s penchant for moral equivalence. But this was worse than moral equivalence. Penny wasn’t equating Israel’s defensive measures with the Islamic terrorism to which it’s a response; she was actually painting Israel as an armed aggressor and the Palestinians, because they don’t have an “army” in the same sense that Israel does, as helpless victims. She even managed to work in the word “genocide,” which she did in this sneaky fashion:

This is a conflict in which no one wants to edge towards saying the word “genocide,” because in this context that is a term so loaded that what’s left of reasoned debate staggers and falls to its knees.

Then why mention it? 

Among the ticklish facts that did go unmentioned in Penny’s column, of course, was that Hamas, while targeting innocent Israeli civilians for coldblooded murder, hides behind its own children and mosques and schools and hospitals, making all of them vulnerable to retaliatory Israeli fire, while the IDF, in its effort to take down these savages, does its best to avoid harming civilians on either side (even those who may be aiding and abetting the savages).

Anyway, on to a more recent article, in which our heroine shared her thoroughly predictable reaction to the Brexit vote. She began as follows:

This morning, I woke up in a country I do not recognise…

There’s not enough tea in the entire nation to help us Keep Calm and Carry On today. Not on a day when prejudice, propaganda, naked xenophobia and callous fear-mongering have won out over the common sense we British like to pride ourselves on.

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Nigel Farage

Apparently considering those nasty words insufficient, Penny went on to slur Brexit champion Nigel Farage as a “racist” and his supporters as “the frightened, parochial lizard-brain of Britain.” Then, without the slightest hint of irony or self-awareness, she said she wanted “to wake up tomorrow in a country where people are kind, and tolerant, and decent to one another.”

In any case, at no point in a very long article did Penny acknowledge that there might be any merit in the pro-Brexit argument that the EU is undemocratic – or that any of the pro-Brexit voters, far from being bigots, were simply voting for the right to choose their own rulers again.

We’ll close with a couple of YouTube videos. First, here’s one that shows her complete ignorance of – or indifference to? – the basic facts of economics (please excuse the inelegant title that the YouTube user has placed on it): 

And finally, this next one shows her talking part in a 2013 discussion on BBC’s Question Time. The issue: should Muslim women in Britain be allowed to wear the full face-covering niqab, even in jobs like schoolteacher and nurse? Other participants had nuanced views, with a couple expressing concern about women wearing veils when working in hospitals and dealing with patients. But Penny was firm: it was, she pronounced, “brutally islamophobic and deeply sexist” to even discuss the question.

Admittedly, we haven’t given this prolific young lady her due. But we hope we’ve covered enough of her work to show, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this is, in sum, a totalitarian soul who, though she takes part in endless debates, doesn’t really believe in debate. As she sees it, the opponents who disagree with her on Twitter are trolls who should probably be banned from the Internet. And the very idea of holding TV discussions about issues on which 29-year-old Laurie Penny has come to an unequivocal conclusion are offensive in and of themselves, and should be outright verboten.

Laurie Penny’s moral equivalence

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Laurie Penny

Today we’re continuing our study of 29-year-old British columnist Laurie Penny, who, in half a dozen books, innumerable articles for The New Statesman and The Independent, and countless lectures before rapt audiences around the world, has bravely raged against the evil Western capitalist patriarchy that has kept her enchained in oppression as a woman throughout her difficult life – from her upbringing as the daughter of two very affluent attorneys, through her years at a posh public school and at Cambridge, right up till now, when she’s experiencing professional mega-success but has had to endure the cruelty of online persecution and abuse (read: people disagreeing with her on Twitter and Facebook).

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Cologne, New Year’s Eve

Yesterday we began looking at the column Penny wrote last January about the mass rapes in Cologne. Her basic point was this: when Western men or conservatives or whoever criticize mass rape by Muslims, they’re stealing “feminist rhetoric in the name of imperialism and racism.” Lots of men, she reports, have been calling on her to condemn Muslim violence against women. But this is the best she can do: when it comes to patriarchal brutality, “there’s not a country or culture on earth that won’t have to take a long, hard look at itself.” Hey, it’s our old friend again – moral equivalence. “I stand,” she adds, “with the many, many Muslim, Arab, Asian and immigrant feminists organising against sexism and misogyny within and beyond their own communities.” But, as she’s been taught by her far-left feminist mentors, it is not the white woman’s place to speak out against the brown man’s misogyny.

koln9She dismisses the idea that it would help to improve controls on immigration into Europe. “That fits in,” she writes, “with the shibboleth that only savage, foreign men and hardened criminals rape and abuse women.” But this is a straw-man argument (a species of rhetoric that is common in Penny’s work): nobody has ever said that “only” foreigners and criminals rape and abuse women. More: “As usual, white supremacist patriarchy only concerns itself with women’s safety and women’s dignity when rape and sexual assault can be pinned on cultural ‘outsiders.’” Again, there’s that ridiculous “only.” All this, of course, is a smokescreen thrown up by a pampered Western woman who’s comfortable bashing the “white supremacist patriarchy” – including the police and soldiers who guard her while she sleeps – but who’s too pusillanimous to face one stark, simple fact: namely, that rape is far, far more prevalent in the Islamic world than it is in the West, and that to import armies of Muslim men into Europe without careful vetting them is to invite a terrifying upsurge in European rape statistics.

penny10Penny goes even further – disgustingly so. She accuses the white men who express concern about Muslim rapists of doing so because they’re turned on sexually by the idea of it. It doesn’t seem to occur to her that these men may worry about the fate of their wives and daughters and granddaughters in an Islamized society where unveiled infidel females are considered legitimate targets of sexual assault. But to understand their worry would involve a sense of realism and responsibility that Penny utterly lacks.

“The point,” she says by way of summing up her rant on Cologne, “is that misogyny knows no colour or creed.” And stupidity, we might add, knows no gender.

More tomorrow.

Laurie Penny and the Cologne rapes

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Laurie Penny

This week we’re studying the oeuvre of Laurie Penny, a young firebrand who, despite being a benificiary of British upper-class privilege, has made a successful career of standing at lecterns and scolding Western society – and, especially, Western men – for oppressing her as a woman.

When it comes to genuine sexual oppression in non-Western societies, however, Penny does the usual far-left shuffle. In other words, while she’s quick to condemn Western men as oppressive patriarchs, she refuses to criticize honest-to-goodness Muslim patriarchs – the guys who beat and rape their wives, who subject their daughters to FGM and deny them an education, and who make sure that none of the women in their lives enjoy the kind of freedom that Penny has enjoyed every day since she was born.

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Cologne, New Year’s Eve

Take Penny’s response, back in January, to the mass rapes in Cologne, Germany. Her angle, as articulated in her article’s subhead, was as follows: “Why can’t we always take sexual assault as seriously as we do when migrants and Muslims are involved as perpetrators?” Which is a slick way of instantly turning from a very real problem, rooted in dramatic cultural differences, to a B.S. issue. The fact, of course, is that in the West, rape is taken very seriously indeed: it is reported by women, prosecuted in courts, punished by imprisonment, and looked upon with repulsion by all decent citizens. Under sharia, however, rape is not only permitted but, under certain circumstances, required; in most Muslim countries, rapists enjoy a degree of legal impunity and social acceptance unthinkable in the West.

koln3But Penny doesn’t want to go there. Instead she pretends that Western authorities always treat rape with indifference. For her, the government of Cologne’s suggestion that women should dress more modestly is not a sign of irresponsible cultural relativism and of a cowardly refusal to stand up for Western values, but just another example of what she describes as a Western habit of blaming women for rape. An then she offers this:

The attacks in Cologne were horrific. The responses – both by officials and by the armies of Islamophobes and xenophobes who have jumped at the chance to condemn Muslim and migrant men as savages – have also been horrific.

koln4For, you see, conservatives (meaning, apparently, anyone to her right – i.e. pretty much everybody) never care about rape except when the perpetrators are Muslims. Only then do they get worked up, using rape as an excuse to bash Islam. She neglects one minor detail: there is no case in modern history of hundreds of Western men committing mass rape in the center of a major city. This, whether Penny likes it or not, is an imported phenomenon – imported from a society where women really are oppressed, and where there really is something deserving of the name of rape culture.

But no, she’d rather serve up inane statements like this:

You know what has never yet prevented sexual violence? Unbridled racism.

More tomorrow.

The oppressed princess

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Laurie Penny

Yesterday we met Laurie Penny, a very young British woman who has made a very big impact with her very left-wing views.

In particular, we saw a few minutes of her parrying with historian David Starkey. She evinced the usual far-left attitude toward such exchanges: free speech for me, but not for thee. I can hurl personal accusations because I’m on the side of the angels; for you to do it, however, is beyond the pale. If I speak, that’s my right; if you disagree, you’re being uncivil and trying to silence me – and therefore deserve to be silenced.

In short: I’m the hero here – and the victim.

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David Starkey

As we saw, Penny can give it but she can’t take it.

Let’s take a look at another video. This one has been “fisked” by a popular blogger who calls himself Sargon of Akkad. (Definition of “fisking,” from the Free Dictionary: “To criticize and refute…especially in point-by-point or line-by-line fashion.”)

This video (see below) finds our upper-class heroine onstage at the Sydney Opera House, in front of a packed audience of admirers, explaining why she – by virtue of being a woman – is oppressed.

Note the way in which Penny recycles familiar far-left rhetoric about colonialism, imperialism, patriarchy, and capitalism, serving every bit of it up as if she’d invented it. Note, as Sargon puts it, that she talks about the oppression of women as if it were the 1950s, as if women were still confined to the home, “as if women’s liberation never happened.” Note the glibness and ignorance with which this young woman, who has benefited immensely from modern capitalism (how do women live in non-capitalist societies? How did they live before the modern era?), savages the modern world and the capitalist system for creating “losers.” In fact, as Sargon quite properly observes, modern capitalism has made more people “winners” – that is, improved their material conditions – than any system in human history.

pennybookAnd how about Penny’s absurd and audacious contention that she knows how today’s men feel and think? They feel like “losers,” she maintains, because of the ways in which the economic system has oppressed them, and they respond to this feeling of oppression by, in turn, oppressing women. She pretends to have sympathy for these men; but instead she batters them brutally. “We are not saying that all men hate women,” she offers generously. “But culture hates women.” And, later: “Men as a group, men as a structure, hate women.” (Check out this savvy reply by one You Tube commenter: “Culture hates women. What, you mean that culture that’s 53% women? The culture where it’s perfectly acceptable for a woman to stand on any stage and blurt out the most disgusting rhetoric against an entire half of society, whereas if a man were to do the same thing the other way around, the event would be bullied into cancellation.”)

pennybook2Penny, though awash in privilege her entire life, truly does appear to regard herself as being oppressed. (One sentence in the introduction to her book Unspeakable Things begins: “Women, like any oppressed class…”) And she sees every man as an oppressor. One can’t help thinking here of Professor Starkey, who not only knows a hundred times as much as Penny does about how society works and how it has come to work that way, but also – as a son of working-class parents who was openly gay in mid twentieth century Britain – understands prejudice and oppression in a way Penny never could.

Sargon provides a perfect summing-up of Penny’s stubborn, counterfactual conviction that she’s oppressed: “That is what privilege looks like.” Bingo.

Tomorrow: on to Penny’s written work.

The girl who cries “racist”

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Ben Norton

In recent weeks we’ve been discussing a couple of ambitious lads who, despite their very tender ages, have already made a big name for themselves by parroting – in print, online, and on TV – the familiar grab-bag of far-left talking points about America, Israel, “neoliberalism,” Kirchnerism, chavismo, Islam, Islamophobia, and so on.

One of these kids is Ben Norton, an American writer who contributes regularly to Salon and pops up frequently at Mondoweiss, AlterNet, and the Electronic Intifada. The other is Owen Jones, a British Guardian columnist who also turns up occasionally in The Independent, The Mirror, and New Statesman.

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Owen Jones

Both of these boys are as callow as they are predictable, but that hasn’t hindered them – on the contrary, it’s almost certainly helped them – on their very fast climb up the ladder of the transatlantic commentariat.

It’s only fair to give the other sex equal time, so this week we’re going to meet a young woman who’s every bit as spectacularly successful a far-left ideologue as Ben and Owen. Her name is Laurie Penny.

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Laurie Penny

Just short of thirty years old, she comes from a very privileged background. The daughter of two successful lawyers, she went to a “posh” (her word) public school – which, of course, is what the British call their fancy private schools – and studied English at Wadham College, Oxford. Like Owen, she’s been a columnist at both The Independent and New Statesman, and currently writes for the latter. She’s also published several books: Meat Market: Female Flesh Under Capitalism (2011), Penny Red: Notes from a New Age of Dissent (2011), Discordia: Six Nights in Crisis Athens (2012), Cybersexism: Sex, Gender and Power on the Internet (2013), and Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution (2014). Yet another book, Everything Belongs to the Future, is forthcoming in October.

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David Starkey

We’ll get around to some of her writings shortly; first, though, by way of introduction, let’s take a look at an excerpt from a June 2012 panel about English identity on which Penny, then age 25, appeared with Professor David Starkey, C.B.E., F.S.A., R.Hist.S., who at the time was 67. A couple of words about Starkey, which (for reasons that will become obvious) are relevant here: the son of a factory foreman and cotton weaver, he suffered as a child with club feet and polio, had a nervous breakdown at age 13, and attended Cambridge on a scholarship before going on to create a splendid and substantial career for himself as a serious historian of England and a presenter of well-received television documentaries about English history. He is also openly gay, and was an outspoken champion of gay rights at a time when that was a brave and dangerous path to take.

On, then, to the June 2012 panel. As can be observed in a video (see below), Penny stood at the lectern and accused Starkey, who is not a bigot of any kind, of “xenophobia and racial prejudice” and asked him where he was “domiciled for tax purposes.” Starkey stood up and took her place at the lectern. “As you have chosen to be personal and invidious,” he said, “let me tell you a little story.” He told the audience that he and Penny had recently been invited by an underfunded institution to debate the topic of republic vs. monarchy. (Starkey is a monarchist.)

“I was prepared to do it for free,” Starkey recalled, but Penny “insisted on trying to charge such large fee that the event had to be cancelled.” Calling her action “mean and grasping,” Starkey said, “I will not be lectured to by a jumped-up public-school girl like you. I came up from the bottom and I will not have it!” (“Jumped-up,” by the way, is perfect here: it means someone who considers herself more important than she really is, or who has “suddenly and undeservedly risen in status.”)

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When she’s not fighting for the oppressed, Penny is a world-class clotheshorse

He would not have it – and she could not take it. The rest of the video is almost painful to watch. Penny, obviously unsettled, says at first that she wants to reply to Starkey’s charge. She then bumbles through an incoherent explanation of her fee demands, citing her financial needs and plane schedules and problems involving other invited speakers. She then says she’s changed her mind – she doesn’t want to reply to Starkey. She then changes her mind again, and says that her request for a high fee for the republic vs. monarchy debate wasn’t really about money at all but about her fear that she would be personally attacked on that panel in the way, she says, that Starkey has attacked her just now. “There’s a violence inherent in this discussion,” she maintains, and again accuses Starkey of going personal and failing to maintain civility.

“You started it!” an audience member shouts. “You called him a racist!” Penny looks out at the crowd, uncomprehending. “He is a racist,” she says.

But of course this brief glimpse of Laurie isn’t enough to get the full picture. Tune in tomorrow, when we’ll look at a longer, more revealing video of her in action.