Tag Archives: terrorism

Gay History: Is It Okay to Be Gay (and in the Far-Right)?

How outspoken gay figures like Milo Yiannopoulos and Caolan Robertson go down with right-wingers, who – traditionally – haven’t been big fans of the gays.

MILO YIANNOPOULOS AT THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION CLEVELAND OHIO, USA, 21ST JULY 2016 (MARK REINSTEIN / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO)

In March of 2017, a terror attack in Westminster left 49 people injured and six dead or dying. While victims were still being driven away in ambulances, English Defence League (EDL) founder Tommy Robinson rushed to the scene with a camera crew to pace around outside the police cordon and rant about Muslims. Not long after he’d started, a younger man took over.

Pinching his thumb and forefinger together, the man raises his pinky and tells the camera: “If you import a culture, you get a culture.” Barking at unimpressed spectators, he finishes: “The blood. Is on. Your. Fucking. Hands,” with all the sassy-camp cadence of a RuPaul’s Drag Race queen.

That man was Caolan Robertson, a video producer with 12,000 YouTube subscribers, 41,000 Facebook followers and 35,000 Twitter followers. Robertson, who is gay, says that while “all religions are pretty bad… Islam is particularly worse”. Like fellow gay right-wing figure Milo Yiannopoulos – who became a darling of the alt-right on an anti-political correctness agenda – he has taken arch-campness to a twisted place.

That two public figures on the hard-right are openly gay might surprise some people, given that poster boys of this political persuasion are usually family-oriented and Christian-leaning, like Tommy Robinson and Britain First, or dullard conspiracy theorists, like Paul Joseph Watson. Also, right-wingers – from small-C conservatives up to neo-Nazis – historically haven’t been that keen on gays.

However, gay right-wingers aren’t actually as uncommon as you might think.

The recent case of neo-Nazi Ethan Stables, for example, who was convicted of preparing a terrorist act after plotting to attack a Pride event in Barrow, sharply counters this idea of heteronormative masculinity, as his defence involved an assertion of his own bisexuality. Elsewhere, European hard-right politicians Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen have played to an LGB – but not T – crowd, while Germany’s far-right Alternative for Deutschland party promoted lesbian Alice Weidel to its leadership.

But how do people like Yiannopoulos – a gay man who harasses trans students on campuses – fit into the UK’s radical right?

Historically, brief radical right acceptance of white gay men plays against a backdrop of institutionalised homophobia. The Nazis’ momentary permissiveness of the gay Storm Battalion co-founder Ernst Rohm is a blip compared to the 50,000 homosexuals imprisoned and 15,000 homosexuals killed during the Holocaust. In 1999, neo-Nazi nail-bomber David Copeland attacked gay people, Bengali Muslims and black people with equal measures of hatred. Nicky Crane may have been a violent neo-Nazi secretly enjoying gay dalliances, but when he came out in 1992 he cast his political views aside, declaring them incompatible with his sexuality.

Then came 9/11, and a shifting – at least in the radical right’s eyes – of the hierarchy of minorities. Here was an opportunity to knit together different factions of the right against a common enemy: Islam.

Just as the Taliban’s treatment of women was seized upon by the Bush administration and its supporters to justify the war on terror, its treatment of queer people was used to cast all Muslims as anti-gay. In 2009, a Gallup Centre for Muslim Studies report seemingly backed up the radical right’s assertions: while 58 percent of the British general public thought homosexual acts were “morally acceptable”, zero percent of British Muslims agreed.

Even the liberal press focused on this statistic: “Patriotic, respectful, homophobic”, read The Independent’s summation. “Muslims in Britain have zero tolerance of homosexuality, says poll,” said The Guardian. Right-wing outlets, still bothered about gays in the Anglican church and the impending doom of same-sex marriage, didn’t quite know where to pitch up.

The day of the shooting at Orlando’s Pulse gay club in 2016, wChose Islam Over Gays. Now 100 People Are Dead Or Maimed”. In it, he describes the actions of an extremist as representing all of Islam, using the poll to back up his claims: “This isn’t about ‘radical’ Islam. This isn’t a tiny fringe,” he writes. “In Britain, a 2009 Gallup survey found that not one Muslim believed that homosexual acts were acceptable. Not one!”

Days later, Yiannopoulos addressed a small crowd in a YouTube livestream, calling for a Muslim ban on that basis. “This is not radical Islam… this is Muslims in the West,” he said, ignoring the fact that the same poll found that 19 percent of German Muslims and 35 percent of French Muslims thought homosexual acts were acceptable, implying countries with a longer legacy of Muslim immigration have more LGB-tolerant Muslims.which killed 49 people, Yiannopoulos wrote an article for Breitbart titled “The Left Chose Islam Over Gays. Now 100 People Are Dead Or Maimed”. In it, he describes the actions of an extremist as representing all of Islam, using the poll to back up his claims: “This isn’t about ‘radical’ Islam. This isn’t a tiny fringe,” he writes. “In Britain, a 2009 Gallup survey found that not one Muslim believed that homosexual acts were acceptable. Not one!”

Days later, Yiannopoulos addressed a small crowd in a YouTube livestream, calling for a Muslim ban on that basis. “This is not radical Islam… this is Muslims in the West,” he said, ignoring the fact that the same poll found that 19 percent of German Muslims and 35 percent of French Muslims thought homosexual acts were acceptable, implying countries with a longer legacy of Muslim immigration have more LGB-tolerant Muslims.

With that, the clash of civilisations narrative was set.

Weeks later, Donald Trump – whose campaign manager at the time was Stephen Bannon, then-CEO of Breitbart – became the first ever Republican nominee for the US presidency to mention LGBT people, using them as leverage to call for a Muslim immigration ban.

As Matthew Feldman – co-director of the Centre for Fascist, Anti-fascist and Post-fascist Studies, and Professor of the History of Modern Ideas at Teeside University – puts it: “The thinking is: ‘If this is another stick to beat Muslims with, we’ll take it. We’ll be silent on the LGBT question, we’ll just talk about their rights in the abstract.'”

ANNE-MARIE WATERS (PHOTO BY JAMES POULTER)

Trump’s views on LGBT people have since wavered, but other British groups are unafraid to exploit professed support for LGBT rights to attack Islam.

In 2016, a Stockton-on-Tees Pride march was organised by a group with no previous affiliations to the LGBT community, but many links to the EDL and Pegida UK, also founded by Tommy Robinson. The march was “appropriating tragedies to promote further bigotry”, warned anti-Islamophobia project Tell MAMA.

The next year, Gays Against Sharia (GAS) – set up by Tommy English, known as Tommy Cook, founder of the EDL LGBT division – carried the baton. Though Tommy Robinson hijacked one of GAS’s marches, rebranding it Unite Against Hate, in September of 2017 GAS held its own parade in Bristol. Footage shows English holding a rainbow flag reading “UNITED TOGETHER, TODAY AND FOREVER. HELP US STOP THE GROWTH OF AN EVIL, HATE-FILLED IDEOLOGY”. Pictured helping carry this banner is Anne-Marie Waters, the lesbian who ran for candidacy of UKIP on an anti-Islam ticket.

The demonstrators had re-framed Islam as the real and sole oppressors of LGBT people, and the far-right as minorities’ protectors – a narrative that’s as transparent as it is cynical.

As for the Gallup analysis, Dalia Mogahed – Director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding – tells VICE it has been misinterpreted: “Saying homosexual acts are morally wrong is not evidence that Muslims will hurt the LGBTQ community.”

“Muslims have been part of the UK for literally hundreds of years, and unlike the Christian right do not advocate against the LGBTQ community,” added Mogahed. “In a democratic society, freedom of thought and belief are central principles, including beliefs that we may not agree with. We erode our own values when we start policing thought.”

Mogahed also pointed out the paradox of Yiannopoulos complaining about Muslim bigotry against LGBT people while advocating for the Muslim ban.

Luckily, Yiannopoulos isn’t the threat he once was, having lost the radical right’s affections, Breitbart’s employ and Robert Mercer’s funding after footage surfaced of him defending pederasty. Mind you, he’s still at it: his new website, Milo Inc, both damns gays and uses them as a shield to deflect accusations of Islamophobia. Two headlines read: “All The Studies Show, Gay Parents Are Not Good For Kids”, and “GOOGLE Aids Indonesia’s Muslim Government In Anti-Gay Crackdown”. There is, after all, a limit to how much homosexuality radical right LGBT people can appear to condone.

Caolan Robertson is more overt in his disdain for gay culture. In a video for far-right Canadian YouTube channel The Rebel Media, he attends London Pride 2017, mocks interviewees and calls the event “the most degenerate festival I’ve ever seen”. He also mentions a 2016 ICM poll with questionable methodology which suggests that 52 percent of British Muslims think homosexuality should be illegal, quoting when the stat before asking left-wing journalist and campaigner Owen Jones, “Do you think that’s something that’s a threat to gays in our country?”

Jones replies, succinctly: “Far-right groups… try to cynically appropriate gay rights for Islamophobia.”

In an another video – this time an interview with radical right vlogger, Millennial Woes – Robertson cites an unknown report alleging that “60 percent of gays in the UK admit to having over 500 partners”, adding, “[Gays] have literally shit all over all of the people who fought for their rights to be able to exist by behaving like this.” The only record which correlates to this is a 1978 sociological study regularly shared on Christian websites.

Robertson later left Rebel Media acrimoniously, and now works behind the camera on documentaries with fellow Rebel alumni, alt-right Canadian vlogger Lauren Southern.

Failed UKIP leader Anne-Marie Waters’ beliefs about LGBT rights and Islam can be summed up by one of her tweets: “I’m a gay woman who values my freedom, believe me, Islam is out to get me.” However, her new party, For Britain, makes no mention of LGBT people in its manifesto. Perhaps this is because the radical-right has little space for lesbians, who, as Patrik Hermansson of Hope Not Hate – who spent a year undercover in the alt-right – explains, “aren’t even discussed” due to its boys’ club chauvinism.

Hermansson understands how gay men come to be part of and celebrated by the radical right: “There’s this glorifying of the male body and an idea that men are the best in every possible way. It makes sense, then, that when men are close together, in those groups, homosexuality doesn’t have to be so strange.” He also cites the manosphere – made up of single men who feel “left out and oppressed by what they perceive as feminism” – as a common entry point to the radical right. Feldman agrees: “A close male bonding can go from homosociality to homoerotic to LGBT.”

There’s an argument to be had about the point at which fetishistic enjoyment of fascist iconography can tip into full-blown appreciation of the Nazi ideal of the Ubermensch – a strong, muscular and healthy Aryan man. Think Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising, Tom of Finland’s predilection for uniformed antagonists and the gay skins culture. As Hermansson points out: “It’s like the bullied turning into bullies, but it only happens to white men because they’ve got that possibility.”

More pressing, though, is supposedly pro-LGBT groups leveraging a minority status to provide a get-out-of-bigotry-free-card in a cynical and manipulative attempt to gain the hard-right ethical kudos and more members. Not only can their arguments – propped up by sloppy and wilfully misinterpreted polling – be convincing, but these people also attempt to cast the left as the real oppressors of gay people. It was a Conservative government which introduced same-sex marriage to the UK, yes, but LGBT rights are more than marriage.

As that long fight showed, sexual orientation doesn’t always imply a political orientation, and it’s incumbent on everyone across ideological and political spectrums to continue the conversation about how the religious and socially conservative consider and treat LGBT people.

The radical right’s rebranding as well-dressed, slick and intellectual operators has worked to give the movement an undue credibility, but the gay-tolerant rendition of Islamophobia is transparently exploitative. It’s only a matter of time before they get found out.

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

Reference

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Daily (Or When The Mood Takes Me) Gripe: Over-Reporting 

You know what the biggest problem with the 24/7 news cycle is? That it is 24/7, that’s what! 

Once upon a time – yeah, back in fairytale days – you received your news (at least on television) at 6.00pm every night, whether it was a big thing like a terrorist attack, or something as trivial as political scandals. Now, you get the headlines at 6.00, then again at 6.15, again at 6.30, again at 6.45 ad nauseam –  including “updates” that are…well…often not updates because there is nothing else to tell! Often any empathy or sympathy you have for any single situation is destroyed within hours of the event happening. 

This isn’t to say I’m downplaying situations like Charlie Hebdo, the Paris massacres, Nice, the destruction of  Christchurch by earthquake, or the tsunami that hit Japan. These are all – singularly and collectively – dreadful, hope shattering situations, and your heart goes out to those affecred by these events – until the media decide to jam it down our throats as often as possible over the next two days, anyway! Scheduled shows are canceled, news reports are extended, special coverages are organised until we – the viewers – find ourselves reaching for the remote everytime the situation is revisited…which seems to be often, with no added information! 

The terrible events in Nice is a current example of media coverage going overboard. Not only were we inundated with the news reports, and seeing the same footage again…and again…and again, we were then subjected to endless intervuews by witnesses, who all had the same story to tell, just in different words. In many instances, the interviews just became lame as the reporters tried to extract some crumb of information that hadn’t already been given.24 hours after the Nice tragedy, I turned on the morning news programs to find that Karl Stefanovic had suddenly appeared there, still trudging over what was by then old ground. He had nothing to add, no “update”, no new insights!

And it would seem there is no accountability for how the media reports, often creating an overblown sense of fear, anxiety and often placing blame on assumed presumptions. We are all looking for terrorists under the bed these days, something outside the ordinary to attach blame to. We couldn’t just have a guy with no terrorist affiliations, but with some mental problems, who was undergoing a messy divorce and had just cracked, and was taking his frustrations out on anyone within reach (which would have been the conclusion in the past), but no, these days it has to be attached to terrorism, and the media go out of their way to find the links! This isn’t helped by a terrorist organisation – Islamic State – seemingly laying claim to any unclaimed events as a way of promoting their cause, and making themselves more powerful and far-reaching than they actually are! And don’t think this isn’t the case – it is! 

The nedia have a way of creating anti-heroes, and taking simple information and creating a mythos around it, often making what isn’t scary…scary! We live in a world of catch-phrases, and despite google being just a mouse-click away, there is often little, if any, research done into words that are currently being used to instill fear into an often misinformed, and scared-of-the-unknown public. I mean, just look at the words currently being used to create a sense of fear in many peoples minds – Muslim; Islam; terrorist; halal; burqa; sharia law; extremist et al – seems to be a common thread, doesn’t there! If we are looking for contemporary scapegoats – then this seems to be where we are concentrating. You want to know something – several centuries ago, it would have been the Catholic church copping this attention as they performed the same “terrorist” attacks on anyone who didn’t think the way they thought!

As individuals who can think and reason for ourselves, we owe it to ourselves not to get caught up in this endless stream of nedia beat-ups, distortions, and laying blame as an easy way to explain what are often horrific events. Religious nuts exist – and always have! After all, what else could the Crusaders, and the Inquistion be called! People cracking up and going berserk has always happened – and always will! Let’s ask the Cathars, and the Jews, about being scapegoats for the ills of the world! The media are trying to make us scared because it gives them stories to fill their 24/7 cycle. The humdrum of everyday life isn’t enough to feed this voracious animal! 

And we keep looking in the wrong places for the people who can give us “hope” in these scary times! The Pauline Hansons and Jacqui Lambies of this world don’t have the answers – they just add coals to the fires of fear! They are, in a way, media pigs who at the best are being given attention they don’t deserve, and at their worst are misinformed, and in turn are misinforming others. I have always admired the unsubtle hypocrisy of people like Hanson, who in a single breath can be a ranting racist – while asuring everyone she us nit a racist! Nothing like a thick hide to cover your true intentions!

We owe it to ourselves to return balance to our lives. We are allowing the media to bring fear into our lives, to make us all feel that we can’t go about our everyday business without constantly looking over our shoulder, that we need to shift blame, to point fingers. 

There is, in fact, a very simple way to break the 24/7 news cycle, to return balance, common sense and fairness to our lives ; 

Change channels!

Tim Alderman (C 2016)

Daily (Or When The Mood Takes Me) Gripe: When is Terrorism…Terrorism?

I thought it was really important as a city leader to stress that this is a one-off, isolated event by someone who shouldn’t have been out on bail, a very violent background, clearly a mental illness,”
So said Clver Moore, the City of Sydney Lord Mayor, on 15 December – the day of the first anniversary of the Lindt Cafe shootings, in Martin Place. It caused an outcry.
Now, I’ll be the first to say that Clover Moore has outlived her usefulness as Lord Mayor. She has been in the job for too long, and is mainly notable for her outrageous (or is it a touch of genius?) suggestions for moving Sydney, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.

And here, I have to say…I agree with her in this instance! This was not a terrorist attack – it was an event planned and carried out by a mentally disturbed man. Now before you all start jumping up and down – and trolling me on social media – let me explain my point-of-view.

The statement by Clover created commentary on just about every front – and considering the particular day she chose to make this controversial  statement – that is probably the appropriate response, and in many regards it was a heartless and tactless comment that should have been better thought out.

But it does raise the question – just what is terrorism?

Dictionary.com defines it as

[ter-uh-riz-uh m] 

noun

1.the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.

2.the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.

3.a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.

And the Oxford Dictionary as “The unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims:

the fight against terrorism

international terrorism”

In my mind, and looking at terrorism as I have seen it over the last 15-odd years, in the wake of 9/11, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and the rise of ISOL it is acts of terrorism caused by, and enacted, by individuals or groups in the pursuit of political and religious aims. How they achieve these aims is usually through violence, acts designed to shock and alienate, and uncaring of collateral damage.

In times past, Man Haron Monis would have been called a nutter! He was not associated with ISOL, despite having their flag with him in the cafe, and any connection to them was either just in his mind, or to create a statement implicating a group that he knew ignited public fear and outrage.

On one particular chat show, it was stated by one of the commentators that to him, tertorism was any act that caused terror, the act of colloquially terrorising people. This is a huge step in the public perception of terrorism…so much so that it concerns me that we are not only pandering to terrorist organisations in that EVERY act will now be tied back to them – something that would please them greatly – but that our use of the word is now distorted. If we look at it from the commentators perspective, every mentally disturbed person who goes out and takes a life, or creates a hostage situation, will no longer be what they are – mentally disturbed. They are now terrorists! Ipso facto, how then do we define those who deliberately go out, with full knowledge and consent, and create acts of violence? Do we need a new word? 

In the court of punlic opinion, the Lindt Cafe seige was an act of terrorism. And Paris was an act of terrorism! The differences to me are immediate – Paris was a planned incursion, deliberately designed and enacted to take lives, to create havoc and fear and deliberately push the cause of the ISOL politico-religious group. The Lndt Cafe situation was instigated by an individual with a clear history of mental illness, someone who had slipped through the cracks of both the police force and the court system. He didn’t select the Lindt Cafe for religious or political reasons – he picked it for its close proximity to a local news service, to draw attention to himself. The outcome of his demand for notoriety had tragic consequences, and is now a part of the history of the dark sude of this city. But an act of terrorism? Or the act of a lone nutter?

I don’t feel that Clover’s statement was inaccurate…though I do feel it was badly timed! Maybe it is a discussion that we need to continue having. We cannot allow ourselves to pander to the ego and demands of terrorist organisations…nor can we neglect the needs and care of those who commit acts without really realising what they are doing. And we need to have this discussion away from the sensationalism of social media, talk-back and television chat shows. 

Language can be used as a way to create or alleviate fear in our society. We need to use it carefully, and with consideration.

Tim Alderman (C) 2015

  

Daily (Or When The Mood Takes Me) Gripe : Be Afraid and Be Alarmed!

Fear is a complex emotion but it comes in two main forms. There’s anticipatory fear where we perceive a threat, know what to do about it, and take the necessary evasive action.
That happens when you see a dangerous situation looming on the road, or someone threatens you with violence.
Then there’s inhibitory fear, where the threat is too great, too amorphous or too appalling for us to know how to deal with it. Because there’s no way to discharge the fear through action, we are inhibited rather than energised. The term ‘paralysed by fear’ is a good description of inhibitory fear at work.

Hugh Mackay Speech “Be Afraid” 2007

We are again experiencing the politics of fear…however, I don’t know how effective it is going to be this time around. It is not so much that we are immune from it, but in an age of social media, and historical introspection we are all more aware of what it is all about.

There has been so many examples of this whipped up in our own lifetime: fear of Jews; reds-under-the-bed; nuclear holocaust; fear of terrorists; fear of muslims; fear of extremists etc etc,always led by both politicians, and the media. Tony Abbott’s mob are currently trying to whip up both fear of extremists in the follow-up to the crash of flight MH17 in the Ukraine (and by proxy the loss of MH370) implying that we are suddenly involved in the war going on there by sending in both the AFP AND ADF personnel not just to secure the crash sight, but that our army would train Ukrainian army personnel! (Reported 3rd Sept 2014 SMH, then denied on 4th Sept 2014 in The Guardian). We were suddenly confronted by a range of statements between then and now, not only about involvement in the Ukraine, but our insolvent in Iran in the face of the ISAS/ISOS/Islamic State (or whatever they are calling themselves today) THREAT (how quickly did the Ukraine crash become a poor cousin when all this started!), naturally, the media are just wallowing in all this pandemonium that is being whipped up. We were constantly seeing headlines and leading news reports about our sudden involvement in scuffles that have nothing to do with us – though it us essential for us to crawl up the arse of America – because they want to whip up hysteria that this MIGHT (though won’t) happen here! Naturally the lead-on from all this at home has been a redneck hatred of Muslims here – irrespective of their individual or community response – resulting in Mosques being desecrated, the burqa becoming a weapon of fear, new laws covering “supposed” civilian terrorists entering and leaving the country, additional laws allowing police to have even yet mire powers than they already have, and the general generating OF an atmosphere of FEAR, making us, the regular run-of-the-mill Australian (emphasis on that) joe-blow citizens to constantly look over our shoulders, to denigrate anyone who was Muslim or wore a burqa, too generally feel….ill at ease in our day to day lives. This is a frightening scenario, and goes to show how easy it is to manipulate a population using Politics of Fear!

I just loved how after every alarmist report, there was a request to not be afraid and to “carry on as normal”! My response, and that if many others in social media was: like we’ve been doing otherwise!

Of course, that has now carried over to the wanker G20 conference up here in Queensland! What a fucking waste of taxpayer money this giant waste of time is! Police given extra powers; control of protesting ( a supposed democratic right); shutting off of areas weeks before the bloody thing even happens; exclusion zones; cutting off access to roadways while they transport the wankers around; removing…garbage bins (potential terrorists sees no garbage bin…cancel action and go home…not!). Naturally, all the fear being whipped up about a potential terrorist attack over this period (assumes we would miss any of them if anything DID happen!) has been sugar-coated by granting additional public holidays, and telling us not to be scared to shop in the CBD over this period. To my thinking…doesn’t both these actions place more people at risk if anything does happen! Just me being paranoid! Oh no….they’ve got to me!

So are the Politics of Fear really affecting our daily lives? I don’t think it has been as successful as perhaps they like to think. All I see is people “carrying on as normal”. Certainly on social media it has been treated as a joke. Amongst those who think and evaluate, it is just another example if government stupidity, with Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop (who has scored rather well out of all this) striding the world stage like circus clowns, making us out to be bigger and more powerful than we actually are! In some respects…making us a target!

Will be interesting to see what happens here after the G20! My bet…there will be no revocation of given “specific period” powers…and no fucking garbage bins to put my rubbish in!

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2014

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