Monday 31 July 2017

We need to talk about Kevin

Yup, saw it.

Isn’t this a funny old business?
 Here we have Kevin Myers, a writer/journalist/ provocateur who has got himself into hot water for writing an antisemitic column in the Irish Sunday Times. 
Not only has he got himself into trouble, but he’s managed to drag a whole bunch of people down with him. 
As Vanessa Feltz said just now on the BBC News channel, many others will have seen the piece and passed it before it went to press. You can’t just write something and publish it (like we bloggers can) Your official, legitimate press article has to be commissioned, approved, and cleared by armies of editors, sub editors and so on before it goes to press.

(Thank goodness for blogs, although at times I must admit a sub editor would have come in handy.)

It’s quite ironic that as soon as an antisemite like Myers gets caught out and admonished, or in Myers’s case, sacked, the antisemites swarm round with fresh, blatantly antisemitic remarks and innuendos, which commonly include the accusation that the all powerful Jewish Lobby is trying to “silence them”  or shut down debate. If they can’t see that the very presence of their own antisemitic bile staring back at them on the page belies that circular, self defeating argument, they must be deeply stupid.

As part of the all powerful Jewish lobby, the last thing I want to do is shut down debate, but I don’t think ‘holocaust denial’ really constitutes debate. Antisemites obviously find the Holocaust pretty annoying, because mentioning it loses them the moral high ground, which can have a chilling effect on the pure unadulterated hatred they feel the need to express.

Here are some excerpts from Myers’s piece that we can still easily access”

“Sorry ladies, equal pay has to be earned”
“men usually work harder, get sick less frequently and seldom get pregnant”.
“I note that two of the best-paid women presenters in the BBC — Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz, with whose, no doubt, sterling work I am tragically unacquainted — are Jewish. Good for them. Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price, which is the most useful measure there is of inveterate, lost-with-all-hands stupidity.
I wonder, who are their agents? If they’re the same ones that negotiated the pay for the women on the lower scales, then maybe the latter have found their true value in the marketplace. “

How antisemitic is that? Well, it’s using that ‘trope’ (recurrent theme) that the Jews are greedy. Not all that much worse than anything you might come across in the Guardian, but nasty all the same.  Brian Sewell got away with it!

The pompous phrase Myers uses about the good ladies: “with whose, no doubt, sterling work I am tragically unacquainted” leaves a glaringly open goal begging, begging to be flung right back. Who has ever heard of Kevin Myers? Tragically, up till yesterday, not I.

Anyway, the “fun” response is here, by another 'Kevin', and former colleague. 
“Myers is not a journalist, never has been. He is an overpaid star columnist on the Irish edition of The Sunday Times who writes a weekly rant that is based solely on his own warped view of the world. There is no striving for balance or fact-based evidence with Myers: just an outpouring of bile and sermonising that is intended to offend, shock or outrage readers. He makes the likes of Katie Hopkins and Kelvin Mackenzie seem like reasonable human beings.”

Another piece, which I will preemptively label  the ‘bleating’ response, is here: 
“There’s nothing remotely controversial about this statement to me, because as a Jew, I’m on the receiving end of this type of remark all the time.”

Needless to say, on cue, a goodly measure of ’this type of remark’ appears below the line.

The Telegraph’s report specialises in 'ugly' photos. If you’re interested, they’re here.

The piece that puts all the rest of it into some sort of context is here. It’s by Kevin Myers himself, in the Sunday Times, I assume the Irish edition, written after the Manchester suicide bombing. 

So Kevin isn’t a left-wing Islamist apologist and antisemite of the variety commonly found amongst the Corbynista wing of the Labour Party. No, he’s an old fashioned right-winger who hates Nazis, Islamists, and possibly Jews, in equal measure.
Now, we can hardly start saying things about ‘my enemy’s enemy’, can we, although he gets plenty of praise below the line for his bravery in writing a piece about Islam which flies in the face of political correctness. Although the piece is aimed at the Irish audience, there is much within it that it’s hard to disagree with. One might well ask, how can it be that he writes a piece criticising Islam in no uncertain terms and no-one bats an eyelid, yet the minute he turns his talents against the Jews, everyone is up in arms.?

My answer to that is going to sound pretty obvious (channeling Mandy Rice-Davies.) There are substantive reasons to criticise and fear Islam. It’s subversive, incompatible with ‘Western values’ and threatening. Specific aspects of Islam concern and alarm us, forming a legitimate basis for debate. Suicide bombings, stabbings, vehicle-rammings, no-go zones, cousin marriage, female genital mutilation, grooming gangs, antisemitism and, to quote Kevin Myers, “ The hijab — the full facial veil — is a public refutation of the norms of our society”  to name but a few of the  actual differences between ‘them and us.’
To put it crudely, Islam is behind violence, cruelty, sexual repression and terrorism. Innocent people die.

On the other hand, antisemites emote, insinuate and snipe, and some seriously think the Jews mess with your mind, control the media, are the cause of all wars and, if everyone hates them, there must be a very good reason why. But they haven’t got a substantive reason for their hatred. Of course there is always Israel, the country the British media has vilified and traduced with great success, effectively concealing from the public the Islamic antisemitism that is at the heart of the conflict, thus arming antisemites with the false equivalences they need to prop up their racism. 

I’m getting tired of writing about BBC bias all the time. When we started doing it, we were the few. Now we’re the many. 
This time the BBC is not the main offender. They’ve reported it, albeit with brevity, and dare I say, lack of detail. But they have featured it on their News channel. 

I don't know what to make of it really; but please, you make of it what you will.

 I hadn’t read this post by Sarah AB when I wrote the above. There are some interesting comments, and new (to me) info, including references to Myers’s support for Israel, which is something I’d never have imagined to be the case.  Not everyone thinks he’s antisemitic. Of course, supporting Israel doesn’t automatically absolve him of antisemitism or excuse him for promoting antisemitic themes.

It does show a lack of judgement though; it’s as though he believed he could simply assume that his record of ‘non-antisemitism’ would be enough ensure that if he made a casual, snarky allusion to ‘greedy Jews’ it would automatically be contextualised by readers, perhaps forgetting that not every reader would be familiar with his personal history.

Amol Rajan kept saying that the piece was incoherent. I’d have liked to hear him flesh that out more.


  1. Myers shouldn't have been sacked for it. Reprimanded, yes, suspended for a month with no pay, possibly. But not sacked. Partly because what he said wasn't the Protocols of Zion or Tim Willcox sort of thing, and partly because of the reactions and perception resulting from sacking him.

    The simplest way to 'prove' to die-hard Jew-haters that Jews control everything and if there's one people you can never criticize, it's the Jews, this is the way to do it. They see this as a substantive reason for their hatred. Or, as they see it, telling the truth about Jews. And here we are.

    It should have been a teachable moment Let him apologize (although not in that Maoist way the BBC required of Carol Thatcher), lesson learned, discussion had openly. Explain why what he said encourages anti-Jewish sentiment. Make it more about BBC stupidity than Jewish money-grabbing. Instead, they've just given more fodder for the Jew-haters. It just became that much more difficult to demonstrate how the BBC is clearly not run by the Zios.

  2. Absolute Equality is Absolute BS31 July 2017 at 18:03

    This is definitely your old "PC gone mad". Are we supposed to believe that Jews are generally, as an average, not very good at business or possibly worse at business than the rest of humanity? I've often heard it said what a wonderful contribution East African Asians have made to business in the UK. Is that now supposed to be a racist statement? Are we supposed to pretend that Papua New Guinean rain forest tribes are as good at space science as Americans and that Americans are as good at finding their way through dense rain forest as Papuans? Or that Africans have written as many classical symphonies for orchestra as Europeans?

    It seems to me we lose the ability to talk sensibly about humanity if we can't make loose general observations.

    Just a reminder: free speech is about people saying things that others might find offensive. The Sunday Times has over-reacted.

    1. Free speech is one thing, endorsing ugliness is another. The paper isn't obligated to publish. The government - theoretically - is obligated to allow it and not arrest somebody for it, but a private entity is not obligated to do anything.

      Having said that, even if it's common knowledge that Jews are better at grabbing money than most other ethnicities (how charming), a columnist publishing it that way can certainly encourage anti-Jewish sentiment. He can publish it on is own blog. A national newspaper really needs to be more responsible.

      The thing is, if it's management's decision that Myers should be fired for writing that, then they should fire the editor who saw no problem with it.

      I don't think anyone should be fired over it.

    2. I agree David. Kevin Myers must be free to write what he wants and newspapers must be free not to publish it. (And just as free to face the flak if they do).

    3. Sadly, the only lesson learned from all this will be that, whatever you do, never, ever speak the truth about Jews.

    4. Generalisations about any people or nation are dangerous and should be stopped whenever they are given a public hearing.

    5. I didn't find the comments anti-Semitic or racist in any way. To me,the comment "Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price," is, in fact, praise for Jews. It indicates that they are not stupid and would not undersell themselves. Joe.

  3. A BBC editor opening the genie bottle of 'coherence' is... 'brave'.

    His twitter timeline refers.

  4. Myer’s comments are typical of a kind of casual, mindless anti-Semitism that was once commonplace - notable as much for its stupidity as for its unpleasantness. The fact that this kind of idiotic bigotry is rarely heard these days (at least in the circles that I inhabit) makes it seem all the more shocking. But is there a difference between this and another kind of blind visceral hatred? Frankly I’m not sure. There is certainly an argument that one leads to the other. Nevertheless I don’t believe that Myers should have been sacked.

    I didn’t read the BBC report, but to take a holier than thou attitude towards this, whilst condoning far worse forms of anti-Semitism from both the political left and elements of Islam is more than mere hypocrisy. It is a deliberate smokescreen. The absurdity of claiming that Myers is a bigot because not only is he anti-Semitic, but he also supports Israel has already been alluded to. But censorship is never right. Far better to have obnoxious views out in the open, where they can be refuted. The Nazis in Germany thrived, not because of their murderous philosophy, but because like all terror regimes they made all opposition impossible.

    1. There are times when a civilised society cannot allow certain evil things to be repeated again and again. The Jimmy Young Show ( Radio 2) years ago used to air blatantly open racist views and people would get used to hearing them and they would become acceptable. when I complained I was told I could express my own views contradicting them but the point was missed that these views should never have been expressed in the first place . A national broadcaster should have nothing to do with spreading racist views !!

    2. In a general sense racism is of course despicable, but the problem with this is who exactly decides what is racist. The BBC? The government? University campuses who define Israel as an apartheid state?

      I don’t have a specific recollection of the Jimmy Young Show, but I can imagine what you are referring to. Social attitudes have changed since then, so clearly those views did not become acceptable. But if you want racism to end you will never achieve this by bans on free speech. The only correct responsibility of a National broadcaster is to create a platform for open debate.

  5. Sue I think you miss an important perspective of Semitism because of your concern for whether the individual is anti Semitic or not. This is not so important compared to the effect of the words that they publish or say to others. It this that should issue to focus on.

    1. Yes, as you say, whether or not Kevin Myers is an antisemite is probably neither here nor there, and I agree that the effect of words is by far the most important takeaway message from the affair.

      But I am also quite concerned about over-using the term ‘antisemite’, which devalues and weakens the term while strengthening the argument that Jews use it “to silence us”.

    2. I don't think there is an alternative though. We have to say it as it is and if it is used against us we should see it is just another method of getting others to hate us. "Turning the other cheek" and staying silent ourselves against slander against us never worked and will never !

  6. "Good for them. Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price, which is the most useful measure there is of inveterate, lost-with-all-hands stupidity."

    Jews are smart.


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