Tatchell’s reply: “A new left-wing McCarthyism”
In February Bright Green carried a blog by Chris Jarvis of the Norwich Radical entitled “How I fell out of love with Peter Tatchell“. This is Tatchell‘s reply.
The future of progressive politics is under threat, again. But this time from the left. Historically, socialists and greens have made gains by building broad alliances around a common goal, such as the campaigns against the poll tax and the bombing of Syria. We united together diverse people who often disagreed on other issues. Through this unity and solidarity, we won. The government of the day was forced to back down.
Nowadays, we are witnessing a revival of far ‘left’ sectarian politics and it is infecting the Green Party too. Zealous activists, seemingly motivated by a desire to be more ‘left’ and pure than rivals, are putting huge energy into fighting and dragging down other campaigners. Corporate thieves and war criminals often get off scot-free by comparison.
The issues many of these sectarians highlight are not the mega crimes of mass murder in Syria and Yemen, fuel poverty, unaffordable housing, global hunger, climate destruction or transphobic and racist violence. They prefer to hound fellow activists.
Good people are being forced out of the progressive movement by hair-splitting, holier-than-thou ‘left-wing’ puritans. Their dirty tactics of smears and false accusations are borrowed from the far right, and have a whiff of McCarthyism.
Lenin once wrote a pamphlet called Left-wing communism, an infantile disorder. If he was around today he’d probably add a new chapter about the ultra ‘lefts’ who are sabotaging green and socialist politics with their destructive in-fighting.
The often dishonest, poisonous, aggressive tone of the current wave of sectarian attacks is a total betrayal of the ethics of comradeship that are supposed to be green and left values. People’s good intentions and long radical commitments are dismissed, even ridiculed; often over minor disagreements and sometimes based on distortion and fabrication.
The far right rarely receives the hatchet jobs that sections of the ‘left’ do on their own people who fail to follow the ‘correct’ party line.
These tactics are not only cruel to the individuals who are targeted, they also weaken progressive politics and drive good people away, which strengthens the political right and the power elite. As a left-wing green committed to securing radical social change, this destructive behaviour concerns and disturbs me.
Many progressive people and organisations have been victims of this low politics, including the Iranian communist and feminist, Maryam Namazie and activists in student Atheist Secular and Humanist Societies, who have be falsely accused of racism, anti-Muslim prejudice, neo-colonialism and worse.
I’ve also been a victim. What has been done to me is illustrative of the lying, sectarian denunciations made against many admirable long-standing activists.
A classic example of this dirty ‘left’ politics is the article by Chris Jarvis (Bright Green, 21 February 2016).
It is a savage, untruthful attack on my human rights campaigns.
I have no objection to criticism, providing it is factually based and not made up. Just because I’ve been campaigning for nearly half a century does not mean that I should be immune from criticism. My sole objection is to the torrent of untrue allegations.
I am challenging this sordid, baseles ‘left-wing’ political criticism, not only for my own sake but also for the sake of the many honourable activists who have been similarly smeared and traduced by ‘left’ sectarians.
Jarvis starts off by praising me as once being “one of my political heroes” whose “continuing radicalism throughout his long career….at the forefront of radical direct action, and progressive movements” had him “in awe.”
But then the article swiftly switches to denunciation, based on a mix of fabrication and distortion.
The article cites three ‘crimes’ I have allegedly committed and on this basis dismisses my 49 years of human rights activism: “I can’t continue to view you (Peter Tatchell) as an icon of liberation, or a hero of LGBT people,” Jarvis wrote.
Welcome to the ‘left-wing’ world of ‘three strikes and you’re out.” A lifetime of humanitarian endeavour counts for nothing.
Worse still, my three alleged crimes are ugly misrepresentations of the facts.
Jarvis wrote: “The Stop Murder Music Campaign erred on the edges of problematic, as white, westerners argued and campaigned aggressively against black reggae and dancehall musicians’ right to perform and record music.”
This is pure fiction. The campaign was initiated with the Jamaican LGBT group J-Flag at their request. In fact, myself and the UK-based LGBT group OutRage! were, initially, the only non-Jamaican organisation to respond to their appeal. The people who now denounce me, failed to lift a finger. No solidarity at all.
In Britain and other Western countries, Stop Murder Music (SMM) was not a “white Westerners” campaign. It was multiracial here, and in the US, France and so on. Key UK activists were black: Ted Walker-Brown, Simon Nelson, Rob Berkeley and Dennis Carney. Yet critics like Jarvis write them out of the story. They invisibilise black activists. Who’s being racist now?
Jarvis claims that SMM “campaigned aggressively against black reggae and dancehall musicians’ right to perform and record music.” More fabrications. SMM was not directed against all reggae and dancehall singers. It was solely against eight artists because were inciting the murder of LGBT people in their lyrics and public statements, which is a criminal offence.
Jarvis then goes on to write further false stories about my campaigning. He condemns what he calls my “neo-colonial perspective on international aid and LGBT rights that argues countries whose governments abuse LGBT rights should not be granted international aid.”
This is junk worthy of the lying right-wing Senator Joseph McCarthy. I said the exact opposite to what Jarvis claims: that aid should not be cut.
Why did he misrepresent my news release on this issue, which documents my exact words?
This is typical of my ‘left-wing’ critics. They never quote from first-hand sources, preferring to rely instead on someone else’s prejudiced and often distorted account. They ignore my news releases and articles which show what I actually said – because it doesn’t fit their fantasy narrative that I am a racist colonialist.
In this instance, Jarvis links to a partial, incomplete Pink News report.
But even this report quotes me as saying that international aid should not go to oppressive homophobic “regimes.” It does not say that aid should be cut – only that the regimes should not receive it.
Contrary to Jarvis’s smears, I have argued that international aid should be switched from tyrannical governments to local organisations that don’t oppress their fellow citizens.
Why did he never bother to examine and comment on what I really said? Why did he not look at my website, which documents all my articles and news releases?
Lazy or malicious? Either way, it is typical of the gutter tactics of the new pseudo ‘leftism.’
Moreover, I lobbied the UK government and secured it’s pledge to “switch aid, not cut it” – in line with the wishes of a coalition of African social justice advocates. But that fact doesn’t get a mention because it doesn’t suit the sectarian ‘left’ agenda.
Jarvis then goes on to denounce my “crusade against homophobia within what he (Peter Tatchell) dubs ‘Islamism.’”
Islamism is different from Islam. It is a political-religious movement that seeks to impose a clerical dictatorship, like in Saudi Arabia and Iran, where the whole population is subject to religious-inspired oppression. Of course, like any democrat, liberal or socialist, I oppose Islamist tyrannies. And not only because of their “homophobia” (another Jarvis distortion) but because of all human rights abuses perpetrated by Islamist regimes.
“Tatchell adopts the position of gay white saviour,” claims Jarvis – himself a white man dictating what constitutes the ‘correct’ politics. Pot calls the kettle black!
For nearly five decades, I’ve been motivated by a green and socialist internationalism. All my campaigns have been in solidarity with oppressed people, at their request and in consultation with them. Every initiative has been to support their struggle.
For people like Jarvis, solidarity seems to be a dirty word. Westerners who support freedom struggles in non-Western countries are suspect. Far from being sincere humanitarians, they are de facto neo-colonialists who allegedly cloak their racist agenda in the language of solidarity.
Tell that to the global anti-apartheid movement! Oops! That was another imperialist ploy by ‘white saviours’ according to the ‘left’ sectarians. The same with the solidarity campaigns against the Pinochet regime in Chile. More ‘white savourism’ they say.
Jarvis resumes with further false narratives: “Tatchell’s controversy…(has continued) this time in relation to NUS LGBT+ Officer (Women’s Place) Fran Cowling’s decision not to share a platform with Tatchell at an event at Canterbury Christ Church University….Cowling is free to decide who she wishes to share a platform with and who not to. It is nobody’s God given right to expect people to wish to debate them.”
Who said otherwise? I never did. On Newsnight, RT, the Telegraph and elsewhere I did not say I was no-platformed and I defended Cowling’s right to not share a platform with me.
My objection was to Cowling’s false allegation that I am “racist” and “transphobic” and her equally false claim that she was acting on behalf of the NUS membership who, she dishonestly claimed, believe that I am racist and transphobic. The NUS membership never made any such ruling and I was not on the NUS no-platform list. For nearly three weeks, I privately contacted Cowling seeking dialogue and asking for evidence of her allegations. She ignored my request and refused to speak to me. That’s why I went public.
Jarvis then rebukes me for signing an Observer letter that defended free speech, including the free speech of people I strongly disagree agree with on trans issues and who I have repeatedly criticised, such as Julie Bindel and Germaine Greer (I’ve also been critical of Julie Burchill on these issues).
This letter did not utter a single word of criticism of trans people, let alone oppose their equal human rights.
Supporting free speech does not mean endorsing the content of that speech. As the German communist, Rosa Luxemburg, argued: freedom of speech means nothing if it does not exist for the person who thinks differently.
Free speech doesn’t equate with allowing bigotry to pass unchallenged. It should always be refuted and protested. The most effective way to do this is by defeating bigoted ideas in open debate and thereby winning the public to oppose intolerance, as Nick Griffin discovered to his cost on BBC Question Time. No-platforms, bans and censorship don’t work. They suppress bigotry but fail to expose and counter it.
Then Jarvis claims: “Tatchell tacitly endorses the idea that people should not be able to collectively decide the people that they chose to invite to speak at events that they are organising in their own spaces.” More nonsense. I defend the right of people to invite or not invite who they choose. What I actually said is something very different: that if one group invites a speaker, another group should not have a right to veto that invitation – unless the speaker is guilty of threats, harassment or encouraging violence – or demands discrimination such as forced gender segregation.
Jarvis carries on with more distortions: “Tatchell has continuously called for the stopping of ‘Islamists’ from speaking on campuses up and down the country for hate preaching.” Not true. I have not called for the banning of mere “hate” preachers. I have opposed platforms being given to Islamists who go beyond hate to endorse the killing of other human beings; specifically the killing of Muslims who turn away from their faith, people who blaspheme, women who have sex outside of marriage, LGBT people and Ahmadi’s and other minority followers of Islam. This is more than just hate. It is encouragement to murder. Endorsing violence is my red line.
The real issue is much more than Jarvis’s article. What he wrote is indicative of a bigger, wider problem that is infecting and damaging left and green politics: the decline in civility and honesty, and the rise in sectarian attacks on other activists. We can never build a successful a mass movement to challenge the Tories, UKIP and the far right if people in our movement are attacking each other and obsessed with minute political purity. The sectarians say: better fewer but purer. I say: unite the many to defeat the few.
Another article I think Peter Tatchell might benefit from thoughtfully reading and considering: “Does the hard-left have an ‘old-fashioned misogyny’ problem?” by Zoe Williams http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/apr/11/hard-left-misogyny-problem-liz-kendall-socialist-worker-party
Jane Carnall, April 11th 2:12 pm, says “Tatchell seems to think Cowling should have given no explanation at all”.
The facts are otherwise. It is very clear that he tried by sending emails to get her to explain her views.
No, the facts are exactly as I stated them: Tatchell spent three weeks harassing Fran Cowling with emails *because* she explained to the NUS organisers of the event why she did not want to share a platform with him. Had she simply emailed the NUS organisers to cancel without any explanation whatsoever, it seems doubtful that Tatchell would then have instigated either the three weeks of harassment or the very public attack that followed.
This is getting bizarre. Ther is no point in speculating what PT may or may not have thought. He has given a clear account of the important points in his original piece above. I will not discuss further.
Well that went well, didn’t it?
Might I suggest that a number of folks would benefit from a better understanding of such things as “hearsay”, “evidence”, “proof”, “fact”, “speculation”, “assumption”, “subjective”, “objective” and dare I say “justice”? That’s not an exhaustive list, by the way.
This is why at times, I despair of Homo-sapiens.
Those wee souls, so intent on demolishing this planet for their own material gain, seem so much better equipped materially and intellectually, to disrupt utterly, the efforts of those who would do things a “better and more equitable” way. Let’s face it, they’re very persuasive with their “have it all now” message; a society of a few wolves and a great many marks. Only you’re ALL marks; because you don’t have an open goal. You have this notion that the very survival of the species is at stake, but that is not what you are actually pursuing. You try to make this bit and that bit better, which is fine; but you’re not doing it as part of an overarching process. You have very little cohesion and still less consensus. You are not thinking it through; have you perhaps not fully understood that you can never stop “thinking it through”? Have you grasped that there is no final epiphany?
“They”, on the other hand, have very simple closed goals that are not sullied by any realistic concern for the long-term welfare of humanity; and destruction is so much easier, is it not? We fit into destruction as easily and seamlessly as we immerse into water. “They” will make concessions that they see as ultimately profitable and that’s all they will concede; thus you are doomed to partial victories. Small satisfactions and satiations of the broad populace keep the profits and acquisitions going. They’re happy and you think you’ve made progress. It’s swings and roundabouts in a playground in which “They” never relinquish ultimate control.
And don’t get me wrong here. This is no grand conspiracy drifting down the ages (our species really is not smart enough for that, as if it were, it could not happen). It is simply because people intent of damage work better together than those seeking a truly better world. Destruction is easiest; hold that thought.
To beat them, to set in motion the transition to a better world, do address the wee issues as you do now, but preferably without the infighting – if you have a gripe with the way some activist or other does something, bloody well talk to them openly and seek common ground vigorously – if you can’t do that then you are no bloody use.
Realise what “They” value and dismantle – destroy – its value; in short, make their money worthless and in so doing, remove the seat of their power. That’s an open goal, because if one means of wielding control is taken “they”, that ilk, will seek and find another.
What you do now towards a “better world”, is too slow; too few of “Them” are genuinely acknowledging the very real threats we all face. What is more likely to be quick enough is rather scary and will not happen unless a great many individuals buy into it. It involves literally stopping their world and seamlessly moving the everyday business of living into another.
So that’s your homework for tonight, answers to this thread by Mayday? How do you destroy the existing economy, practically overnight, and just as suddenly, replace it with another viable model that addresses the basic needs of all. And how do you convince enough of your fellows to “buy” into it and actually do it. Clue: we are the economy and what that economy does, depends on the balance of fear.
And finally, for those who think I’m crazy, I am. For those who think the idea is crazy – think it through.
You need to wake up. we actually need more of this language policing and outing of
Class divisions within the progressive sphere are the deepest divisions and the hardest to paper over. The Republican party is splitting right now because they abandoned the religious component. That was the glue that brought blue collar workers on a ride with east coast elites that they never would have gone for otherwise. That’s why we always joked about blue collar poor people voting against their own interests.
Similarly, within progressivism we only have identity politics or social justice to act as glue. We’re moving toward a global, borderless economy that is now poised to make things harder for the educated/administrative class that is the heart of the Left. If we allow populist movements to tear us apart, that’s it for the Democratic party.
Pointing out bad speech, and hate speech, works as team building. It sucks because we feel like we’re fighting each other. But those divisions can be sorted out. The class division cannot be repaired once it is opened wide. So just suck it up and take one for the team.
Rachel says “Similarly, within progressivism we only have identity politics or social justice to act as glue.”
Er…no. The social glue, the uniting principle within the Green Party is our consciousness that the mistakes of non-green economics and politics are compromising the integrity of the planet’s life-support systems, both for us and especially for our children and grand children. Our commitment to social justice is strengthened by that concern, because only a socially just economy can do the work needed to achieve sustainability. Identity politics per se, if anything, can be divisive, as we are seeing right now and right here, as intersectionalism is accusing Peter Tatchell and others of thought crimes that he did not commit.
A good portion of people who are active in the gamergate movement are classical liberals and left-libertarians , It is not some right wing group, it is the left wing fighting against the totalitarian left.
Accusing Peter Tatchell, of all people, of McCarthyism for finally speaking out and correcting the vicious slanders he’s been subject to is truly head-spinning. Tatchell is a genuine leftist hero who has walked the walk, not just spouted hot air – a commodity more rare and valuable than all the world’s diamonds and other gems put together – and has spoken out against all forms of bigotry for his entire adult life which he’s risked repeatedly to stand in genuine solidarity and brotherhood with the oppressed globally, something his critics will never be able to say.
He’s been a helluva lot more patient with the tantrum-throwing brats smearing and denigrating him across media than most people could have managed. All power to him.
Already sick of the attacks on Tatchell – far more of a left wing hero than any of the critics. Some of us have been here before from the 60s onwards – the divisive attempts of Militant, SWP etc. I raise a glass to Tatchell – keep going matey!
I know Greens are far too cultured to be involved with anything as base and vulgar as farming, but have any of you ever seen a nest of hungry rats eating each other?
Just look in the mirror if you need an example.
Corporate thieves and war criminals often get off scot-free by DESIGN. Progressive stack worked wonders to destroy the occupy movement and you were all still dumb enough to let something that was blatantly and openly designed to destroy progress infect your entire community because you thought it sounded kind of nice.
It is a demonstrable provable fact that many of the “activists” causing this turmoil are being funded by the wealthiest megacorporations in the world but it’s easier and more satisfying to get your satisfaction by bullying some nerds on twitter
It’s just occurred to me: Peter Tatchell argues that the article in February by Chris Jarvis, is ” a savage, untruthful attack on my human rights campaigns”, but he doesn’t – perhaps because he couldn’t – actually rebut any of the issues in the article.
Tatchell says: “Historically, socialists and greens have made gains by building broad alliances around a common goal, such as the campaigns against the poll tax and the bombing of Syria. We united together diverse people who often disagreed on other issues.”
But as Chris Jarvis points out in his own article, the key issue is that Tatchell is denying – tacitly with regard to Germaine Greer, quite openly with regard to Fran Cowling – that people have a right “to collectively decide the people that they chose to invite to speak at events that they are organising in their own spaces”.
Fran Cowling attracted Tatchell’s ire because she did not want to appear on a platform with him at an event and wrote to the NUS organisers to explain why. Tatchell acknowledged when called on it that Cowling did have a right to refuse to share a platform with him, but he didn’t say how he thought she should have refused if writing privately to the organisers was not, in his view, an accceptable method.
Germaine Greer attracted Tatchell’s defense because some students wanted to hold a peaceful protest against her being invited to give a prestigious lecture. Greer gave the lecture and also appeared on Newsnight and in the Guardian to explain that these protesting students were challenging her right of free speech: why Tatchell opted to defend Greer rather than the students, only he can say – and he’s chosen not to.
Broad alliances must be formed. But when privileged members of the alliance declare that less privileged members of the alliance must shut up and refrain from criticising the heroes of the alliance, this is not solidarity: this is bullying.
“when privileged members of the alliance declare that less privileged members of the alliance must shut up and refrain from criticising the heroes of the alliance…”
Thatchell simply hasn’t done that. Look at what he writes: “I have no objection to criticism, providing it is factually based and not made up. Just because I’ve been campaigning for nearly half a century does not mean that I should be immune from criticism. My sole objection is to the torrent of untrue allegations.” He is not claiming to be immune from criticism; he is simply asking people on the Left not to slander him with false allegations which actively misrepresent his opinions and actions. He’s not telling “less privileged members of the alliance [to] shut up and refrain from criticising” him. He’s just not. So why claim that he is, thereby misrepresenting him yet again?
From a personal perspective, I think that some of the criticisms that have been levelled at Tatchell are pretty valid. That doesn’t mean that I don’t respect him and it certainly doesn’t mean I want to play any part in demonising him and slapping pejorative labels onto him. He is what he is. Criticise him by all means, but when undertaking that criticism, please, please, please make sure that it is accurate and not just further slanderous accusations that paint him out to be something that he isn’t. Doing that ain’t right and it ain’t fair.
He quite clearly does, read the article…
“Contrary to Jarvis’s smears, I have argued that international aid should be switched from tyrannical governments to local organisations that don’t oppress their fellow citizens.”
“This is pure fiction. The campaign was initiated with the Jamaican LGBT group J-Flag at their request. In fact, myself and the UK-based LGBT group OutRage! were, initially, the only non-Jamaican organisation to respond to their appeal. The people who now denounce me, failed to lift a finger. No solidarity at all.”
“Who said otherwise? I never did. On Newsnight, RT, the Telegraph and elsewhere I did not say I was no-platformed and I defended Cowling’s right to not share a platform with me…My objection was to Cowling’s false allegation that I am “racist” and “transphobic”… For nearly three weeks, I privately contacted Cowling seeking dialogue and asking for evidence of her allegations. She ignored my request and refused to speak to me. That’s why I went public.”
“Islamism is different from Islam. It is a political-religious movement that seeks to impose a clerical dictatorship, like in Saudi Arabia and Iran, where the whole population is subject to religious-inspired oppression. “
Actually, I did read the article.
Peter Tatchell justifies his national attack on Fran Cowling by saying that after three weeks of harassing her privately, she still wouldn’t speak to him, so he launched a massive public attack on her. For which, I notice, he has not apologised.
Something that Peter Tatchell might have wanted to think about before he launched a massive public attack on Fran Cowling for the crime of *not responding to him*:
“Nobody is entitled to be here, or be responded to. If you cannot follow these rules, you will be blocked. No ifs, ands or buts.”
I have read multiple criticisms of Peter Tatchell prior to his attack on Fran Cowling, and I’ve always tended to dismiss them as likely to be unjustified because of his track record, which I’ve always admired.
Even when he hailed Julian Assange as a hero – even when he opted to defend Germaine Greer rather than the students who wanted the right of peaceful public protest – even then, though both incidents upset me a bit, I still thought, well, he’s made a couple of mistakes, but so what? Everyone makes mistakes.
But attacking Fran Cowling could not be justified, could not be dismissed as a simple mistake of judgement: Tatchell deliberately and with malice set out to harm someone whose “crimes” were to privately criticise him and then to refuse to respond to Tatchell’s harassment trying to get her to respond to him. That wasn’t a simple mistake. That wasn’t an error of judgement. That was malicious, deliberate, unapologetic bullying. It cast a very nasty light on Peter Tatchell’s character, and has frankly made me reconsider every other criticism against him over the past few years.
Peter, I know you’re reading this comment thread. I wish you’d stop and consider: that you acted like a bully to Fran Cowling. Your actions and the harm you did Cowling can’t be undone. You can’t even un-do it by a public apology, though it would be nice to see you do that. But if you want to know when I stopped admiring you: it was right then. I hate bullies.
If Fran Cowling had been a private individual who wanted to boycott a talk by Peter Tatchell, that would be the end of the matter.
But she was not, she was an elected officer in the NUS, and her boycott was a public act. As Peter says, Fran has a right not to join him on a platform, but as an elected official she also a duty to explain her reason for not doing this. She failed to answer Peter’s reasonable private emails asking her to explain, but he discovered from the organiser that it was because she believed he was “transphobic and racist”. These are very serious accusations. Any official who is prepared to make such accusations, even to another official in emails, must be prepared to substantiate them.
Peter naturally tried to engage Fran in discussion, and these attempts are being misrepresented as “harassment”. This is one of the problems in this whole dispute. Words and actions are being stretched and extended – not to say distorted. Letters about free speech are characterised as endorsements of transphobia. Campaigns against lyrics that advocate murder are being misrepresented as campaigns against rap music generally and also against black culture. Speaking out against Islamo-fascism is misinterpreted as Islamophobia, which is in turn further transformed into racism.
We face many major ecological, economic, humanitarian and political problems in our world. Our actions to oppose them require clear thinking and clear communication, and this requires precise and accurate use of language, as well as a good understanding of the rights and duties of holding public office.
Hopefully the Green movement and the Green Party will learn a lesson about clear thinking and responsibility from this messy episode.
“but as an elected official she also a duty to explain her reason for not doing this.”
Fran Cowling did explain their reasons for not wishing to share a platform with Peter Tatchell, in a confidential email to the organisers of the event.
The organisers of the event unfortunately then forwarded this confidential email to Peter Tatchell, who then harassed Fran Cowling for several weeks: when Cowling failed to respond to Tatchell’s harassment, Tatchell launched a public attack on Cowling.
Tatchell apparently disagrees with you that Cowling had an obligation to explain their refusal to appear on a platform: Tatchell seems to think Cowling should have given no explanation at all.
Assange may be offtopic, but it’s notable to me that the same men who want to defend Peter Tatchell’s behaviour also want to defend Julian Assange.
Jim Killock: Factually, Assange described to his lawyer, in his own words, what he did to the two women in Sweden: what he described doing was sexual assault and rape. Factually, Assange has successfully evaded ever appearing in court on charges of sexual assault, since he has now evaded questioning by Swedish police – he would have been charged during the questioning – past the end of the statute of limitations. If he chooses to remain in “asylum” for another five years, he will have successfully evaded the statute of limitations on rape. Tatchell may think – and has said – that Assange is his hero: but evidently Tatchell has no concern for justice for the two women in Sweden.
Rob Brookes: Assange stands no risk of being extradited to the US from Sweden, as he knew perfectly well when he decided to make his home in Sweden in 2010. Sweden has a much stronger track record than the UK of resisting political demands for extradition, and Assange has done nothing for which the US could legally extradite him.
>>Assange has done nothing for which the US could legally extradite him.<<
Well many people disagree as to whether you are right about that or if the US is concerned about legality. Chelsea Manning is a worrying example, though arguably releasing a video showing US helicopter pilots seemingly enjoying killing civilian Iraqis may be illegal. I don't know but I am giving Assange the benefit of the doubt. https://justice4assange.com/
I do not have the knowledge to contribute more.
Hi Rob, certainly many people are misinformed about whether an Australian citizen can legally be extradited by the US for publishing information the US government had ruled must remain secret. But anyone who has read the extradition agreement between the US and Sweden, studied the history of Sweden’s refusal to extradite to the US for political crimes, read the US legislation under which US citizens can sometimes be prosecuted for doing what Assange has done, and also read the report to US Congress authored by Jennifer K. Elsea, Legislative Attorney, published on 10th January 2011 from the US Congressional Research Service: anyone who has done all that, and I have, and I fully expect Julian Assange has done so too, *knows* that the US cannot legally extradite Assange for Wikileaks.
(Chelsea Manning’s horrifying situation is not parallel to Julian Assange’s, as anyone who had bothered to inform themselves of her case would know. I did, Tatchell certainly has, evidently you never did.)
So you might ask yourself: given that Assange undoubtedly knows better, *why* is he spreading the misinformation that he has reason to fear being extradited from Sweden, if he goes there to face charges of sexual assault and rape? You might also ask yourself, can Tatchell reasonably be expected to have informed himself of the facts, as I did?
“it’s notable to me that the same **men**”
Yep, see there it is right there. Whole issue here is driven by off the rails “feminism”. Unfortunately, this brand of “feminism” is not merely about perusing equal rights under the law and opposition to discrimination, it is about making every single issue isn’t a battle of “lenses” and defining every argument via “victimhood authority”, i.e. he(rather she) who belongs to the most victimized group via whatever claims to victimihood can be mustered, has the most authority.
Assange is a bit off topic but does he not have a very real reason not to go to Sweden to face or defend the charges of sexual assault against him, ie his fear of being extradited to the US which seems a real possibility. I would have thought he would prefer to face a trial and even the risk of imprisonment if the charges were judged to be true rather than continue to be imprisoned in the Ecuadorian embassy. The risk of extradition to the US would be truly terrifying to most people though even if the chances are not high. I thought Sweden would not guarantee that he would not be extradited to the US if a request was made and until they do Assange refuses to go to Sweden which seems a rational choice to me..
As for Peter Tachell , he is still one of my hero’s despite disagreeing with him on some issues, not necessarily the ones outlined here. Think Greens and the left have to accept we disagree on some issues but our core principles are the same, reduction and prevention of unnecessary suffering and having a safe and clean environment.
Peter is as ever correct in his demolition of the eejits that seem to have taken over much of what passes for student ‘politics’ these days. But as a lifelong socialist I struggle to see anything ‘left’ about them, more like middle class kids playing at politics for a few years and wanting to sound oh so radical and ever so feminist but actually being neither (unless intolerance and jazz hands are no classed as progressive radicalism and I haven’t noticed). As a socialist I’m always quite wary about having heroes when they often come at the expense of the wider movement and the grassroots, but Peter Tatchell is without question one of mine.
How dare you not conform to the exact same views as your critics! Their treatment of you and other veteran left wingers, and especially the insane persecution of atheist societies by so-left-they’re-fascist NUS fanatics, is just sickening. Holier than thou is the perfect description.
Though I think Peter is right with the label McCarthyism( they are kind of mini-McCarthyites),such people shouldn’t be awarded the label left-wing.
It is clear that they have little grounding in left-wing thinking. They use terms like “racist” in a very casual ,self-indulgent and especially judgemental manner.
Basically they are going with some fashionable threadbare ideas coming from a pseudo-radicalisms in the USA.
It is “pseudo” because they are disconnected from any real problems of people in society.
They show little or no interest in the major problems of housing, employment , health, climate change , bio-diversity etc.
Instead,they pontifcate inside their “safe spaces” in universities and try to infuence student union party politcal societies.
Clearly they have the delusions of the self-righteous even to the extent of making ill-informed and illogical attacks on a life-long, real and successful fighter against injustice which Peter Tatchell is.
In contrast to what Jane Carnall, claims: I said Julian Assange was a hero for exposing human rights abuses and war crimes. I did not say he was a hero per se. Right from the outset, I said he should answer the allegations of sexual crimes. At the moment he has not been charged with any offence. He has not been summonsed to appear in any court. I take the allegations by the Swedish women very seriously, but in law Assange is innocent until proven guilty.
The Swedish prosecutors should have come to London to interview him years ago, as Assange had offered. They have come to the UK to interview dozens of other alleged criminals. Their failure to act has been condemned by the Swedish courts.
Peter: It’s interesting to find out that as far as you are concerned, if a person is raped and then any of the following things occur: victim never reports it to the police: the police fail to follow through and arrest the person accused: the public prosecutors decide that the case can’t be brought to court: the jury decide to acquit: the rapist claims “asylum” and sits in safety to outwait the statute of limitations – if ANY of these things happen, then you are absolutely prepared to say that the rapist is innocent, because you give no weight whatsoever to the evidence of the person who was raped.
I find it extremely interesting that you, a long-time ACT-UP activist, are not *even* prepared to stand up for safe sex and say that the women were absolutely right to demand Assange use condoms, and Assange was vile for refusing to use them.
As for your still insisting Assange is a hero – well, I have no more words.
Peter Tatchell remains one of my heroes. If he is not safe from these modern McCarthyite denonciations, nobody is.
A brief history of the left wing
Once upon a time there was a movement called the Left and they wanted to make the world a better place so they tried to let everyone have an education and access to public health and the right to vote and no forced labour or under-age marriage but then one day after a political protest march they tried out a drug called multiculturalism, sometimes known by its street name of ‘You’ve got to understand it’s part of their culture’ or ‘Brent’, and they felt as high as a kite but when they came off the drug they had horrible trips in which they were chased by a monster calling them racists so they sold all their values and spent the rest of their lives making sure nobody would ever accuse them of racism and they were never heard of again the end.
I’m not kidding when I say that I think much of the blame lies at the feet of “intersectional feminism”. Unfortunately, a lot of what has been going on in feminism is really toxic and resembles what being described here. The focus on victim-hood, cliques, denial of science and math all logical interpretations of statics and basic historical facts in favor of “outrage” and “feelings”, etc.
The problem is this sub-culture of essentially total rejection of all facts and logic and practicality. And quit honestly, this is led by feminists who see these traits as “masculine” and therefore reject them.
As far as I was aware, and have no I in depth knowledge, the Tatchell Foundation was indeed supporting Julian Assange’s civil liberties and due process. 44 people involved in the case have been interviewed in the UK and Assange is asking for the same treatment.
He hasn’t been formally charged and I don’t know enough about libel law to advice Jane re her comments above.
Strong, well argued article. Week done Peter for addressing the prevailing regressive left dogma that is poisoning so many young minds.
Well argued. What is happening is utterly disgraceful and a total embarrassment for the Left. What I find ironic is that Tatchell has been attacked for decades and now the one group that normally stood by him have now turned against him. It’s absolutely wrong and even his decades old critics know it. Critics who now find themselves compelled to defend him. It defies common sense. What makes me so angry is that Peter has always been a do-er and he’s being torn apart by arm-chair SJW’s who at best just don’t know what they are talking about.
I said Julian Assange was a hero for exposing human rights abuses and war crimes. I did not say he was a hero per se. Right from the outset, I said he should answer the allegations of sexual crimes. At the moment he has not been charged with any offence. He has not been summonsed to appear in any court. I take the allegations by the Swedish women very seriously, but in law Assange is innocent until proven guilty.
The Swedish prosecutors should have come to London to interview him years ago, as Assange had offered. They have come to the UK to interview many other alleged criminals. Their failure to act has been condemned by the Swedish courts.
Let’s bear in mind that Peter Tatchell has made clear that he regards any criticism whatsoever, even in private emails, as “McCarthyism”.
I have personally not felt that Tatchell could be on *my* side when I discovered that he regards Julian Assange, who sexually assaulted two women in Sweden and then dodged into “asylum” to successfully avoid being charged with his crimes, as a hero. Assange is still hiding in the Ecuador embassy to avoid the justice process in Sweden for the charge of rape.
But even so, I was completely taken aback when Tatchell launched a massive, public attack on a NUS officer for the offense of not wishing to share a platform with him. That was extraordinary, vicious egotism.
I no longer wish to ever share a platform with Peter Tatchell. Presumably when Assange emerges, five years from now, he’ll still get a lavish welcome from the many men who, like Tatchell, can think of a man who committed sexual assault – and, allegedly, rape – as a hero. I never can: and I never will share a platform with any man who thinks sexual assault and rape are crimes that can be ignored in their heroes.
I hope it is not out of turn to ask for a little more information about Peter’s views on Assange. I had a quick look, and did find two pieces by him criticising Sweden’s decision not to interview Assange in the UK, and a video in 2011 saying that he felt that Assange should announce that he was prepared to face the charges at trial in Sweden.
I would expect Peter to make the judgement that Assange, like anyone, has to face serious charges such as sexual assault in court.
However, we should also remember that as yet Assange has not been convicted. I therefore think that it is a bit strong to state the two accusations of rape or sexual assault as factual record, as you appear to do in the comment above.
Equally, I think it would be helpful for those people who wish to lend support to Assange to remember that his likely failure to address these charges in court will leave him with a permanent and large cloud of suspicion and distrust among many people who ought to support his stance on state transparency and accountability. While Assange has great strides for these causes, as a human rights and accountability campaigner, he cannot legitimately evade such accountability himself.
This extraordinary rant against Peter Tatchell precisely underscores the overall point he was making in his article about Mccarthyism on the left. I happen to have a more critical view of Assange as do you but that doesn’t make me dismiss Peter Tatchell as you do. And your denunciation of his”massive public attack” on an NUS officer for not wishing to share a platform with him demonstrates that you haven’t bothered to properly read the article where he makes his position clear.
“I was completely taken aback when Tatchell launched a massive, public attack on a NUS officer for the offense of not wishing to share a platform with him.”
You’ve certainly made one of Tatchell’s points for him.
Try reading the article before you comment, next time.
“regards any criticism whatsoever, even in private emails, as McCarthyism”
Are you serious? He writes an article about dishonest misrepresentation and you misrepresent him. Well done for proving his point.
“I was completely taken aback when Tatchell launched a massive, public attack on a NUS officer for the offense of not wishing to share a platform with him. That was extraordinary, vicious egotism.”
This just isn’t a fair assessment of the situation. Tatchell never condemned Cowling because they refused to share a platform with him. Rather he publically criticised them for sending a mass email to members of the union in which they branded him a racist and a transphobe, without any supporting evidence. In response to such slander, Tatchell repeatedly emailed Cowling privately, asking to discuss the situation, but Cowling never responded to him. Only then did Tatchell decide to take the issue public; maybe he shouldn’t have done so, but Cowling had already made the incident semi-public with their initial mass emails. Tatchell’s beef with Cowling was never about the latter’s refusal to share a platform with him, it was always because they were spreading slanderous accusations against him without supporting evidence.
“can think of a man who committed sexual assault – and, allegedly, rape – as a hero.”
He has yet to be formally charged of anything, yet you are already certain of him being guilty. As usual, the regressive left puts their feelings before the reality. I guess the UAV hoax, mattress girl hoax and others werent enough to show you how dangerous it is to criminalize those who are merely under investigation – especially when it comes to someone involved in actively battling the world’s strongest superpower as is Mr. Assange.
E: Tatchell condemned Cowling because they refused to share a platform with him and explained why in a confidential email to the organisers of the event. Unfortunately Cowling’s email was forwarded to Tatchell, who took this private criticism public.
Tatchell had no right to expect that Cowling would respond to harassment by email, nor any right to attack Cowling for offering a private explanation to the event’s organisers but to refuse to respond to Tatchell’s harassment.
Tatchell himself decided that Cowling’s criticisms should go public.
“putting huge energy into fighting and dragging down other campaigners”
You understand that his piece was simply a backlash against you dragging a non-outed trans activist through the press for political point scoring?
An activist decided in private they didn’t want to share a platform with you and rather than accepting this you deliberately approached the organiser of the event to gain access to private email communications in order to present yourself as the victim of an attack on freedom of speech. You then pushed this heavily in the press at the personal expense of an activist.
It’s absolutely unacceptable for you to use the same oppressive tactics as have been used against LGBT, left-wing and other social movements historically. You have more of a platform than that activist will ever have and presenting yourself as the victim of an “ultra left” attack clearly shows you aren’t open to any criticism. And in the case of the person in question they weren’t even trying to criticise.