Melanie Phillips attacks article she hasn’t read

I’m not sure how much my earlier blog entry on Aberystwyth has to do with this, but I’ve been getting a flurry of comments the last couple of days on my entry What’s Going On at Aber?, a response to Melanie Phillips’ publication of a letter from an un-named student about un-named (but easily identifiable) people at my old university, the University of Wales at Aberystwyth. I checked the referrers list and discovered that most or all of the referrals had come from Aber’s webmail system, which suggests that they found out in an email. Today, she’s published two responses in a new entry entitled An Alternative View.

Above that, however, she’s published a set of quotes which supposedly illustrate “the similarities between the language of hatred being employed by the far left, the far right and white supremacists”. The people quoted are Pat Buchanan, Alexander Cockburn of Counterpunch, David Duke, Noam Chomsky, and Bradley Smith (Holocaust “revisionist”).

The quotes are all culled from a piece on Front Page by one Steven Zak. It appears, however, that Phillips hasn’t actually read at least one of the articles from which these quotes are drawn. Alexander Cockburn is quoted thus:

Certainly, there are a number of stories sloshing around the news now…The purveyor of anthrax may have been a former government scientist, Jewish…with the intent to blame the anthrax on Muslim terrorists. Rocketing around the web and spilling into the press are many stories about Israeli spies in America at the time of 9/11….

However, you can find the source of this quote by going to Counterpunch and availing yourself of the Google search facility. The quote is dishonestly taken out of context. The original article, When Billy Graham Planned To Kill One Million People, shows both Graham and the late Richard Nixon in a thoroughly negative light, alleging that large tracts of the US media are dominated by Jews - 95% of their writers, according to Nixon, who is quoted as saying, “this stranglehold has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain”. After both men are sure of each other’s opinions, Graham tells Nixon that if he got elected again, he might be able to do something about it. Nixon also is quoted as calling the Jews an “irreligious, atheistic, immoral bunch of bastards”.

The supposedly “anti-Semitic” quote seems to be aimed to demonstrate that Jews do not have a controlling influence over the media, which is demonstrated in the bit Phillips (or Zak) left out (emphasis mine):

Certainly, there are a number of stories sloshing around the news now that have raised discussion of Israel and of the posture of American Jews to an acrid level. The purveyor of anthrax …

So, the media are more than willing to report stories that show Jews in a bad light, although at the time of the anthrax scares, I certainly didn’t hear that the alleged American perpetrator of the anthrax attacks was Jewish. We receive what I consider a reasonably balanced picture of the Israel / Palestine situation: we see the Israeli oppression and the bloody suicide bombings, which people don’t condone.

As for the Chomsky piece (I found it reproduced here, although I’m sure it’s on other sites), Chomsky simply explained why he believes that anti-Semitism is not really a problem; real anti-Semitism is, in his view, what he experienced as a young man - the fact that good academics could not get jobs at Harvard, and he and his family were told, in round-about ways, that they could not live in this town or that in Massachusetts. The issue of anti-Semitism is raised today because “privileged people want to make sure they have total control, not just 98% control” - and control of what? Of debate over American policy towards Israel. The implication seems to be that Chomsky alleges a Jewish conspiracy to control the USA, but over what this particular group of privileged Jews want control is made clear.

Phillips ends with the moronic conclusion: “The Stalin/Ribbentrop pact had nothing on this lot”. This is one of those sentences which is so stupid as to barely merit an attempt at refutation. All I can say is: until Chomsky, Cockburn and David Duke get together to invade the countries in between, this comparison is far-fetched, to say the least.

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