Reading a Troll’s Playbook

Recently, I have attracted the attention of such a troll. This person, as is to be expected, has an anonymous profile and uses that anonymity to bully and intimidate social media users who happen to disagree with his “radical” political opinions. Over the past couple of weeks pro-independence bloggers have been putting out fires started by an accusation by Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard and the leadership of the GMB Labour-affiliated trade union that a blog published by the pro-independence blogger Gareth Wardell was an anti-Semitic attack levelled at GMB activist Rhea Wolfson.

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Weaponised Gender Politics

In hiding behind this myth that we, “middle aged men,” are “a-l-w-a-y-s” chasing women with pitchforks – like angry and uncouth villagers, the gender politicians are wilfully ignoring the truth. Men argue with men in politics all the time. This has nothing to do with the sex of the belligerents, but this fact is deliberately overlooked when the picture is drawn of a club of men – obviously all members of the same secret society, “the patriarchy” – rounding on a woman who is portrayed in the most sexist way; as weak, fragile, and defenceless, against their bullish behaviour.

Open Letter to the SNP

Yesterday the decision was made by the Disciplinary Committee of the Scottish National Party to rescind the party membership of Gareth Wardell, the well-known and much respected author of The Grouse Beater blog. This decision was made as a result of an article he published addressing the issue of the GMB, a London-based trade union, acting in Scotland to deny people their democratic rights. Owing to the author’s reference in the blog to the Nazis’ attitude to trade unions in the 1930s and 40s and his quotation of the term “the Jew” – in the context of citing Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf...

Independence and Internal Conflict

Scottish independence, as a political aspiration, is not an ideology. It is an idea shared by adherents of a number of political ideologies. The independence movement is a broad church; a political spectrum that stretches from one lunatic fringe on the far-right, with such blood-and-soil nationalists as Sìol nan Gàidheal and its ilk, to the other on the far-left, with the pseudo-academic disco of Marxists, Trotskyists, and Bakuninists. This is a movement that is as politically colourful...

The Grouse Beater Accusation

Antisemitism – the hatred of Jews – is real. It is a real form of racism. As, arguably, Europe’s oldest racism, antisemitism is pervasive throughout western society. As it affects all of society it is unarguably true that there are anti-Semites and people who, for whatever reason, pass on anti-Semitic ideas, conspiracies, and opinions within the SNP and the wider independence movement – as these entities reflect broader society. But Fiona Robertson is right, we need a better definition than is to be found in the dictionary. How then do we define this particular racism?

Did You Just Cross Yourself?

Sectarianism is a serious social problem in our country, for sure, but there is little we can do about it when it happens outside institutions. We can’t police people’s homes to stop parents poisoning the minds of their children. The best we can do here is improve diversity awareness and education in schools and hope some of it sticks. But racism, prejudice, bigotry, and sectarianism thrive in institutions where such cultures have gone unchallenged and allowed to fester.

Antisemitism and the Modern Apartheid State

At the heart of this Israeli and Zionist definition is the deliberate conflation of Zionism – an ethno-nationalist state-political ideology – and Judaism, and, by extension, the conflation of anti-Zionism and antisemitism. How useful to the State of Israel – Katz’s “Jewish State” – would it be had this definition been adopted officially by the European Union as it was by the US State Department last year? Doubtless, this is what the AJC’s Andrew Baker had in mind when he negotiated with the EU to have it adopted. Yet, more rational heads prevailed.

Antisemitism: A Meaningless Charge

But this new antisemitism – the use of “antisemitism” to silence dissent, by calling everything anti-Semitic, weakens our ability to combat real anti-Semitic racism. When everyone is an anti-Semite no one is an anti-Semite. Reasonable people who can see through the political weaponisation of this language begin to dismiss – as I have been guilty of doing – almost every claim of antisemitism. We become deaf to a terminology that, ever since Auschwitz, should ring immediate alarm bells the moment we hear it. “Antisemitism,” thanks to pro-government media outlets...