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Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Danny Finkelstein And The Bigots

Confidant to many senior Tories, ennobled by the party for political service, and stalwart of the Murdoch Times, Danny Finkelstein is also a regular fixture on broadcast media, the polite yet challengingly knowledgeable regular on shows like the BBC Daily Politics. But at a time when his paper is throwing around accusations of racism, his own links are coming under increasing scrutiny, and questions are being asked.
Danny Finkelstein
The latest questions have come from expat journalist Abi Wilkinson, and concern Finkelstein’s connection to the Gatestone Institute, described with admirable restraint by Wikipedia as  a right-wing … anti-Muslim … think tank that publishes articles, particularly pertaining to Islam and the Middle East. The organization has attracted attention for publishing false articles and being a source of viral falsehoods”.
Ms Wilkinson’s concerns were put directly. “He's in a position of double influence: national newspaper columnist and unelected politician in the House of Lords. It matters quite a lot that he might well be using those positions to aid the Gatestone Institute agenda, however subtly and politely … The Gatestone Institute *only* exists to spread anti-Muslim hate. That's the entirety of what it's about. His stint on the board came after endless scandals about this stuff. He literally just had to read their wikipedia page, their blog feed or any news article about them”. And, it seems, he knew what this was all about.
He knew exactly what the organisation was. Here's a tweet where he confirms that … Geert Wilders was involved from the start. They were explicitly racist from the very start”. Gatestone also hosted infamous Islamophobic bigot Douglas Murray.
How did Finkelstein respond to the concern, and indeed the claim that he had served on the board of this singularly unpleasant convocation of right-wing bigotry? “I do not serve on the board and have never had any role of any kind running Gatestone or supervising it in any way. They listed me on the board, until I asked them to stop”. He then went further.
They listed me on a board and I didn’t actually know at first. The board never met or was asked to meet or had any role and rather lazily, once I do know, just left it … More recently I thought, mmm, being listed on a board is different to making a speech or two and I don’t want to be responsible for everything they do with no actual control so I’d better not continue lazily ignoring this. So I asked to be taken off”.
However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, that is not what Finkelstein said three years ago. After Nafeez Ahmed asserted “you are on the board of [Gatestone]”, he replied “I naturally don't (and didn't) say that I didn't know who it was or what it publishes or who it hosts. Of course I do. Being on the Board doesn't mean I agree with every article or every speaker, nor does it imply that I don’t” [my emphases].
Do go on. “I don't accept your characterisation of Gatestone. I find Douglas Murray stimulating and worthwhile and often right, without always agreeing. I think Gatestone acts as an excellent platform …”. Murray said “conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board”, a remark from which he has never resiled.
He also said “There are certain things in Britain about which it is impossible to speak frankly. The birth rate of the Muslim population is a prime subject”. In either of those cases, had he used “Jews” and “Jewish”, he’d - rightly - have been denounced for his bigotry.

Moreover, it is one thing to take the stance of Voltaire, and defend the right of Murray, and the likes of Geert Wilders, to speak freely, no matter how distasteful their views, but quite another to allow oneself to be so closely associated with them. Danny Finkelstein admitted to “being on the board” of the Gatestone Institute. That is rather closer than the guilt-by-association catch-all of “sharing a platform” which his paper uses today.

Moreover, being part of an organisation which “frequently warns of a looming ‘jihadist takeover’ and ‘Islamization’ of Europe leading to a ‘Great White Death’”, which “published articles claiming that Europe had Muslim ‘no-go zones’, falsely describing them variously as ‘off-limits to non-Muslims’ and ‘microstates governed by Islamic Sharia law”, which “published an article that said the British Press had been ordered to avoid reporting the Muslim identity of terrorists by the European Union” and “falsely claimed that 500 churches closed and 423 new mosques opened in London since 2001” is not a good look.
If racism is A Very Bad Thing - and it unquestionably is A Very Bad Thing - then no aspect of it should get a free pass. That includes anti-Muslim bigotry, whoever practices or condones it, and however tangential their approval. By being on the board of the Gatestone Institute, Danny Finkelstein gave its behaviour his tacit approval. It is most telling that he did not dispute that role until Ms Wilkinson called him out yesterday.

Anti-Muslim prejudice is the true growth industry of modern racism. As a result, it ill behoves anyone in a position of trust to go anywhere near it. I’ll just leave that one there.


Anonymous said...

Muslims aren't a race . .. ...

Anonymous said...

Islam is a religion, not "a race". The same applies to Judaism and Christianity, plus any other similar religious grouping you can name.

Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people is an illegal nationalist act by a theocratic government condemned by, amongst others, the United Nations.

There is only one "race", Homo sapiens.

Stephen said...

Nor are Jews, anon. That didn't stop the Nazis.

You thought you had an unanswerable argument there, didn't you? people who say that always do.

Anonymous said...

No, Muslims are not a race. But if their depiction in the media is highly racialized and conflict with them is portrayed as "whites vs Muslims" (as described in this very blog), then it's racism.

One cannot use racist tropes against Muslims when it's convenient and then pretend that their intentions weren't racist afterwards. Most intelligent people can see through that.

Anonymous said...

But some intelligent people can see it is some muslims that deliberately racialise themselves, it suits their purpose.

Because islam is not a religion, like christianity, it is an ideology with a purpose, that apparently cannot be discussed without accusations of racism, bigotry and/or prejudice. We will have to discuss it someday, islam won't let it lie, which is precisely why people bring it up - it is not racism, anymore than being against the ideology of communism is. How come hindus or sikhs aren't subject to these "racist tropes"?

Islam, a liberal cause ?!?

Andy McDonald said...

Does any reasonable person honestly think that hatred of Muslims in Britain today stems primarily from issues with the tenets of Islam?

No. It comes from a perception of Muslims as brown, filthy and over here. There's also a class element to it.

If the likes of Tommy achieved their dream, and removed every single Muslim from Britain, do you think they'd sit back, say "job done" and go get an actual job? Of course not. They'd just decide which minority group to move on to next.

Anonymous said...

@Stephen 20:30.

Read the second sentence again.

You appear to somehow miss it in a post of four sentences. Quite apart from also missing the fourth sentence.

No argument is "unanswerable", including yours - whatever it may be.

nparker said...

Anonymous, his argument was perfectly clear. Your argument, was demolished.

Islam isn't a race. Doesn't matter, it is treated as a race by racists. It is talked about and attacked using racism. Bigoted vile worthless garbage people hate Islam because of race. End of.

It isn't about criticism of Islam's tenets. We can all see that. Realise, along with other Anonymous people, that you aren't going to trick anyone with that tactic.

chris e said...

He also accepted a (paid) invitation to speak to them earlier this year.

Anonymous said...

naprker 12:39.

It appears you too cannot read or understand plain English.

Strangely, your "argument" and "Stephen's" is virtually the same as Adolf Hitler's in Mein Kampf, volume 1, chapter 2. In this, he attempts to define Judaism not as a religion but "a race"; moreover "a race" which threatens "the white race". The precise sentence reads "Yet I could no longer very well doubt that the objects of my study were not Germans of a special religion, but a people in themselves......" Thus, having separated Jews out he could "justify" the rest of the lunacy spattered throughout his crackpot ranting, including physical attacks. Which led directly to the Holocaust. He even ended the chapter with this: "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the word of the Lord". Thus he used religion - in his case raised in Catholicism - to "justify" his own crazy notion of "race". That's the same kind of "justification" still used in some crackpot religious quarters to isolate people of colour.

Before you join this "argument" it would help if you read primary sources and some history. So far you are batting zero.

I repeat - whatever Hitler claimed, or his contemporary equals, there is only one race. That is Homo sapiens. The sooner ALL organised religions come to accept that the better. Until then, this madness will continue.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there is only one race, as clearly shown in the New Testament, but islam is an ideology that seems to want to resist all attempts to question it. Aided and abetted by the left who seem to be fighting fascsim with fascist tactics to support a fascist ideology! Just claiming that critics are doing it out of racism or bigotry does not answer fundamental questions about women's rights, child abuses, apostacy,voting manipulation, corruption in office, sharia, animal rights. Just saying we can't mention it or report on it in the interests of "community cohesion", whatever that is, is patronising to all concerned and only helps to cause the very dissent it seeks to avoid.

It will all have to brought out into the open one day, let's not pretend avoiding this is a liberal cause, it isn't, let islam prove itself in argument.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 18:25.

Few people of common sense make the "arguments" you claim. Certainly nobody I know does. Nor does it have much to do with "a liberal cause". This is a matter of straight forward human decency based on the value of a single human being. Irrational generalisations have nothing to do with it, though some people try to make it otherwise.

Certainly, Islam faces Enlightenment questions and should surely "...answer fundamental questions about women's rights, child abuses, apostacy,voting manipulation, corruption in office, sharia, animal rights." AS SHOULD ALL RELIGIONS. None of them are free of superstitious nonsense or these issues. You need only consult the public record, including our contemporary society.

Moreover, these are the very same claims made against Judaism in Europe and the USA by nazis, fascists and falangists between the two world wars. They were absurd generalisations then as they are now against Muslims in Britain. Certainly some Muslims have formed gangs and breached secular law, BUT THEY ALSO BREACHED SHARIA LAW. They are as much criminals as, say, Christian gangs carrying out acts which go against the ten commandments, or, for that matter, Jewish hoodlums like Meyer Lansky who scarred US society for decades.

Yes, there is a serious problem. But the answer lies in a twisted nerve somewhere in human evolution, not in specific religions and their off the wall superstitions such as transubstantiation or the lunacy of priest celibacy or pilgrimage to "holy sites". Some people take sanctuary in religion because it relieves them of the burden of deeper considerations of existence. Almost all of it is harmless and peaceful primitive claptrap which will evolve out sooner or later.

These are not specifically Muslim, Christian or Jewish problems. They are the problems of being human.

Anonymous said...

How many times, islam is an ideology, if we keep thinking it is merely a religion full of superstition and it's followers will become enlightened given time (Arab spring anyone?) it will eventually consume us all. It's history shows this, it thinks it is right, we are wrong, and it isn't changing anytime soon, in fact never because then it would cease to be islam. It is specifically an islamic problem. Comparisons to religions are wrong, compare with communism, national socialism or any other upotian political ideology. It is not by accident countries are named islamic state of .......

Anonymous said...

Actually, Sikhs and Hindus are routinely attacked by people who think they're Muslims.

Tell me again it isn't racism.

nparker said...

@ Anonymous 17:25

You could perhaps get my username correct before spouting off.

Your entire schtick is tiring. It is you racists who make the arguments of Hitler. I'm afraid there is this little thing called 'Godwin's Law,' and I'm not sure you've heard of it. What it entails is that your entire rant is worthless, and so it does not require a serious response. Perhaps if you had given it paragraphs, I would have entertained your racist rant. Alas.

"Before you join this "argument" it would help if you read primary sources and some history. So far you are batting zero."

Oh dear, little one. I've been reading history academically for probably longer than you've been on this planet. I am well versed in primary and secondary sources, having studied as much with aplomb. You, on the other hand, I am willing to bet have never studied history academically and have not the first idea how to study it, or how to read sources in an appropriate manner. I have extensively studied the Nazi period of German history, and it is clear you never have seriously done so yourself.

Islam is not a race. That much everyone knows. That does not effect this argument, which is about racism. Racism exists regardless of race's genetic reality, which entails that it is not a genetic term but a social one.

I will briefly return to your disgusting attack on my character. You are on the slippery slope to where the Nazis went, not me. Stephen responded to your asinine response by pointing out that race not existing genetically doesn't matter, that 'nor are Jews, anon. That didn't stop the Nazis.' He demolished your point, if you had one at all. We've seen your type of bigotry before.

Your type of bigotry maintains that Islamophobia isn't racial. It is. The Nazis used fear of the Jewish religion in racist terms, and that is also what you are engaging in.
We will not stand by and allow racist, disgusting attacks on Muslims to stand. You'll have to deal with that.

You are the same as all the other laughable wasters who think that 'waah, Islam isn't a race' absolves you of racism towards Muslims. We've seen your simple-minded, thicko argument a thousand times before, and you people always think you've got some unanswerable point. Yet you haven't, as many a commenter here has shown us all.

I can tell when someone has never academically studied to the level I have on history. It would be wise to not make the mistake against others. You are dismissed now.

Anonymous said...

@nparker 17:11.


What a strange post full of sophist hysterical nonsense.

My post did NOT "attack Muslims". Quite the opposite. It identified the false "argument" of claiming Islam is "a race" and using that falsity to "show Muslim separateness" as a "justification" for ostracising its believers. As I showed from Hitler's own words, this is precisely the tactic used by him to oppress Jews, identify and isolate them in ghettos, then mass murder them. "Race" was an excuse he used, just as it is used now against Muslims - and is no more true or valid now than it was then. It is an insane, homicidal strategy.

Islam is a single god religion like Christianity and Judaism. All of them have suffered persecution for that belief at one time or another, even internal lethal factionalism. None of them are "a race", except to those who wish to persecute them or have little interest in the reality of human nature. There is only one "race", Homo sapiens. How you come to construe this observation as an attack on Islam is beyond the boundaries of common sense.

If you cannot get such plain English through your head, I'm afraid I cannot help you untwist that knot in your uninformed and ill-advised knickers. I doubt even God knows what point you are trying to make.

The floor is yours, however peculiar you care to make it.