Thursday, 13 April 2017

False analogies and stupid comparisons

A bit late with this, sorry. Let’s take a quick look at Sean Spicer’s infamous blunder. He said something like “even Hitler didn’t sink to using chemical weapons” . Well, who hasn’t stopped themselves just before saying something stupid? 
Out it came. Too late. Instead of retracting it immediately he dug himself deeper into the pit by adding “against his own people.”  

At first the media decided to focus on the lowest-hanging howler: “Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons”.  Somehow or other, clutching wildly for a superlative to convey the extent of the Syrian leader’s malevolence Hitler’s extermination of six million Jews, mostly by gas, had slipped Sean Spicer’s mind. 
He was only trying to articulate his disdain for Assad, or “Ashad” as he blurted out in a desperate lurch from brain to voice. After all, it was nothing but an impromptu attempt to find a colourful comparison that would best communicate the extent of the Syrian leader’s malevolence. 

Do bear in mind the difficulties the poor chap has with expressing himself. And he’s got to live this down.

‘Against his own people’ carries the implication that Germany’s Jews were not considered Germany’s ‘own’, which, in itself, is an unforced racist slur. Perhaps the media weren’t too sure about that themselves.
Every rationalisation made matters worse, an all too familiar behaviour pattern. The curse of inappropriately invoking Hitler. At least Sean Spicer apologised. Unlike the other practitioner of Godwin’s law, Sean Spicer did it by mistake. 

Of course there was the panicky reference to the “Holocaust centres”, perhaps momentarily confusing them with tourist attractions with cafes and souvenirs. Well, he was flustered. Make allowances. Just as he blurted out “Ashad” instead of Assad, he temporarily forgot the phrase ‘concentration camps’. Brain fade. It could happen to anyone. 

It does seem quite unusual to hire a press secretary whose whose mental agility deserts them when faced with the press.  At first it seems like the opposite of logic. But then, people with speech impediments frequently speak on the radio, people with ‘radio faces’ are always on T.V. and reporters accidentally misreport stories or leave out whole chunks of them. There must be some hidden benefit to it. 


I heard someone called Martin Wroe on Thought for the Day  comparing Saffiyah Khan with Tank Man. I did that myself recently, but I was being sarcastic and he wasn’t.  Yes, she’s the cute Muslim girl whose ‘smiling stand-off’ picture ‘went viral’ .The snapshot was meaningless and misleading therefore the analogy was false. She is no Tank Man.

Let’s look at the image. The girl, much taller than the ‘EDL thug’ is smiling down at him, and he is ‘facing up’ to her with an aggressive look. 
That’s all it is. A snapshot; a meaningful moment, encapsulating smile-power - all you need is love. 

But she’s not in any danger. There is no tank. The police are there to escort her off safe and sound, smiling insouciantly all the while. It is alleged that she did not go there to pay her respects to the victims of terrorism. Martin Wroe got that wrong. The reality is quite different. The girl is a Muslim, yes, but a ‘punk’ version. No hijab, just piercings and a denim jacket. A ‘moderate’ perhaps? Someone who embraces tolerance and goodwill?  Or not. She’s part of the “Free Palestine” movement. A student, maybe and a provocateur. Next day she’s interviewed on the Victoria Derbyshire programme to represent ‘smiling and love’.

 However, she’s wearing her Free Gaza / Free Palestine  T-shirt. Did the BBC know she’d be wearing propaganda?
What does “Free Palestine” even mean?  Free, as in ‘free from?’ Free from Israel? Free from Jews?
Does it mean “Our aim is a ‘Palestine’, (a region, not a state) free from Jews ‘from the river to the sea?” Is that it?

Free Gaza? Gaza is already ‘free from’ Jews. Perhaps ‘Free Gaza’ means ‘Release Gazans’. Let them do as Hamas (and Fatah) would wish. Overrun Israel; drive the Jews out and create a totally Muslim Middle East. A caliphate. “An ideal world”

Sorry, but Saffiyah Khan is not a symbol of love, and her smile does not say to me ‘Love Trumps Hate’. The exact opposite.


  1. Well technically the weapon wasn't deployed by Hitler but his subordinates and it wasn't a weapon in the truest sense it was a commercially available pesticide employed in a extreme way much like the BBC 's fave Uncle Joe was using a biological weapon when he starved millions to death

  2. Sarcasm notwithstanding, I think you are too kind to Sean Spicer.

    What Saffiyah Khan’s smile says to me is: She knows she is being photographed. She knows she is in no danger whatsoever. She knows exactly how she will be perceived and how the EDL supporter, who looks flustered and angry, will be perceived. I don’t have any sympathy with the views of the EDL, but in this instance it could be said that she is the aggressor.

  3. Both your items demonstrate how poorly we are served by our 'professional' media.

    It is difficult to draw parallels with the action of Assad, who is fighting a civil war where it is inevitable that action is taken against 'his own people'. Hitler wasn't fighting a civil war and his armies didn't use chemical weapons so makes a poor comparison for Spicer to use.

    The actions of the 'media' are despicable. It should have been obvious to a moron that Spicer wasn't trying to make an offensive comment yet the reporters deliberately tried to trap him into making such a comment involuntarily. No doubt they were banging on Jewish leaders' doors giving their version of his comments hoping to incite a response - 'telling tales' as we were warned againsy as children. If a comment 'might' be seen as 'offensive' don't report it! Are the messengers' words somehow free of offence?

    Going on to Miss Khan. Classic stereotyping! 'Pretty' young lady versus 'skinhead' young man and that is the limit of the BBC and others 'fact checking'. Not all young women are nice and not all young men are thugs, some of them might even be supportive of young women being able to dress as they like and take a full part in society, free of harassment.

    1. "skinhead", really? Is that hair just part of his hat?

      Far from being despicable, I think the news coverage was an amusing reminder to think before speaking, and to avoid being drawn into Hitler comparisons at all costs!

    2. The stereotype is EDL/BNP = 'skinhead'. Any woman with ironwork in her face isn't 'pretty' either!

      News coverage that aims to stir up outrage over trivia IS despicable. Is engineering 'Trump' gaffes news, is there nothing more important happening in the world. Obama's idiot comments re. Trayvon Martin produced little press comment yet arguably led to riots i.e. physical harm not melting snowflakes as per Spicer.

  4. Spicer doesn't seem that bright and has a Prescott-like ability to mash syntax or omit crucial negatives. It was a stupid comparison to make and the way he made it was even more stupid. His stupidity was however matched by the naked opportunism of the Anne Frank Centre.

    I heard Martin Wroe's fatuous TFTD. Puke-inducing.

    Looking at the regular contributors, I noticed something odd...there seems to be no one obviously RC. Rather strange, given how obsessed Sunday is with matters RC. I wonder if this is a long standing thing...maybe they cannot stomach the idea of someone using the relatively uncensored radio pulpit to condemn abortion and defend the idea of the male priesthood. Just wondering.

  5. Spicer was an idiot for even thinking of bringing Hitler into it, as was any staff member who either suggested it or didn't smack him in the head for bringing it up in the first place. He hasn't been very good at all, IMHO. Trump needs somebody very composed and on top of the game right now, not somebody who doesn't see blatantly obvious landmines.