Thursday, September 15, 2005

Is it beyond our Ken to admit he's wrong?

Well, I’m glad somebody has come out and said it:

The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has come out with a string of fatuous remarks during his unedifying career on the Left of British politics. This is the puerile figure who once claimed that "capitalism has killed more people than Hitler". But for sheer offensive idiocy it is hard to beat his comparison of the hardline Egyptian cleric Yusuf Qaradawi with the beatific Pope John XXIII.

Well, actually, I do think that there is a case to be made against Capitalism. I have nothing against the romantic notion of the mom-and-pop store which through hard work, sweat and blood… well you know the story… but I have no doubt that Mr Livingstone is right that multinational corporations have been responsible for the deaths and suffering of millions. Though, comparisons with Hitler are usually wrong because it is hard to imagine industrial-scale deliberate genocide having any comparison to industry-scale indifference. Perhaps “… more than Stalin” would have been a better comparison – and it would have had the added benefit of directly contrasting Communism and Capitalism in such a way as to deflate the silly communism-baaad/capitalism-gooood binary.

And, actually, I have issues with the Roman Catholic Church too, so I doubt I’d describe any pope as “beatific”.

But, to use what is fast becoming the most common phrase on this blog, I digress.

Where the widget has really slipped of Mr Livingstone’s production line is his insane defence of Dr Qaradawi – in the face of all evidence.

In yesterday’s Telegraph, Livingstone displayed a remarkable talent for dishonest circular justification. He said his view of al-Qaradawi was “no different from an assessment offered by the Foreign Office”. Remarkable! But, as I pointed out recently on the Gay & Lesbian Humanist Association’s blog, the Foreign Office’s report was based on Ken’s! So, he’s citing as justification for his assessment a document the Foreign Office put out using his estimation as justification for their assessment. Bwahahahahaha!

Then Ken said that a criticism was based on information "from translated sources hostile to him". Oh dear. In OutRage!’s well-publicised reply to Ken’s apologia for Qaradawi, it specifically states that “all quotations are taken directly from Dr al-Qaradawi as published on the website that he supervises, They are presented on the website in English, so there can be no question about the accuracy of the translations.”

As if to forestall this obvious rebuttal to his smear, Ken then says that Qaradawi “was also not responsible for everything on the website that operates under his name”. Oh really, then why does IslamOnline say in the “about us” section:

"Our goal is for this site to be worthy of your trust. To reach our goal, a committee of the major scholars throughout the Islamic world, headed by Dr. Yusuf Qardawi [sic], was formed. Its role is to ensure that nothing on this site violates the fixed principles of Islamic law (Shar'ia)."
So that too is rubbish.

Interestingly, in IslamOnline’s comment on the Telegraph story, they note all Livingstone’s apologetics for Qaradawi except this bit about not being responsible for what appears on the site. What can this mean? That it’s rubbish!

This is also rubbish: Livingstone says that Qaradawi’s musings on the death penalty for homosexuality are "a series of questions of a philosophical nature". So was Mein Kampf!!

And more rubbish: As I’ve noted previously, Palestinians do have weapons other than their bodies, and more importantly, they do have targets other than school children.

But that’s the problem with Ken. It doesn’t matter how many times he’s confronted with the evidence, it seems his tactic is just to repeat the lie – over and over again. Hey, the Foreign Office bought it.

But, just when I thought that I’d dealt with everything, something else caught my eye in today’s Telegraph story. Apparently, Ken Livingstone said:

"I will not tolerate companies involved with the Greater London Assembly if they display homophobia."

So why do I have to avoid certain bus routes because I refuse to travel on a Stagecoach bus after their bigoted proprietor Brian Souter poured over ₤500 000 of his profits from that company into campaigning against gay rights? Yet still, half London’s signature red busses are run by his company. Is something going to be done about that?


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