Tuesday, February 20, 2007

George Monbiot gags George Monbiot

Gagging the sceptics

The US, founded to protect basic freedoms, is now insisting that its critics are its enemies
... If we are to preserve the progress, pluralism, tolerance and freedom which President Bush claims to be defending, then we must question everything we see and hear. Though we know that governments lie to us in wartime, most people seem to believe that this universal rule applies to every conflict except the current one. Many of those who now accept that babies were not thrown out of incubators in Kuwait, and that the Belgrano was fleeing when it was hit, are also prepared to believe everything we are being told about Afghanistan and terrorism in the US.

There are plenty of reasons to be sceptical. The magical appearance of the terrorists' luggage, passports and flight manual looks rather too good to be true. The dossier of "evidence" purporting to establish Bin Laden's guilt consists largely of supposition and conjecture. The ration packs being dropped on Afghanistan have no conceivable
purpose other than to create the false impression that starving people are being fed. Even the anthrax scare looks suspiciously convenient. Just as the hawks in Washington were losing the public argument about extending the war to other countries, journalists start receiving envelopes full of bacteria, which might as well have been labelled "a gift from Iraq". This could indeed be the work of terrorists, who may have their own reasons for widening the conflict, but there are plenty of other ruthless operators who would benefit from a shift in public opinion.

Democracy is sustained not by public trust but by public scepticism. Unless we are prepared to question, to expose, to challenge and to dissent, we conspire in the demise of the system for which our governments are supposed to be fighting. The true defenders of America are those who are now being told that they are anti-American.
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Amen to all that.

Sixty-four months on, witness the deterioration in Monbiot's latest articles, which do nothing more than convey some not-very-fascinating news about George Monbiot: In the sixth year of an oxymoronic Global War on Terror conducted by the most ruthless and secretive government in US history, he has noticed that many of that government's opponents are now quite deeply confused. This is a scandal, or so we're told. As George shows us some (very carefully selected) "morons" [sic] thrashing about inelegantly in the dark, he praises himself for having so cleverly noticed their confusion. So preoccupied is he with wrinkling his nose in ostentatious disdain that he neglects to notice one thing: his own current approach to the topic relies entirely on a crass and inexcusable reversal of the burden of proof.

Strange times we live in, when people who call themselves leftists claim to be omniscient and tell us to trust our governments. There is indeed, as Monbiot says, an "epidemic of gibberish" doing the rounds, and it is not pleasant to see him and Alexander Cockburn succumbing to it. Let's hope they both make a full and speedy recovery. Because "we must question everything we see and hear" -- mustn't we? -- even from a source as unimpeachably trustworthy as the Bush-Cheney White House.

5 comments:

  1. And in one slickly executed fell-swoop, George Moronbiot is hoisted by his own petard.

    This is, of course, the same George Moronbiot whose father, Raymond, is the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party and Chairman of the National Convention and whose mother, Rosalie, is a Conservative councillor who led South Oxford district council for a decade. GM was always destined to be a revolutionary left wing radical extremist, ever since his early days at Stowe and, later on, Brasenose College, Oxford.

    George Moronbiot also wrote a book, 'The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order', a New World Order where Anarchism and Communism are very, very, very bad indeed and mustn't exist.

    It seems we have stumbled into the murky and not-oft discussed world of 11/9 class politics....

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  2. warszawa6:33 AM

    I didn't know George Monbiot was so posh. That casts some light on the nature of his reaction to those revolting peasants - wounded vanity, beacuse they just won't shut up and listen to him. These two point-missing rants of GM's are comparable to Cockburn's in many illuminating ways.

    But "Moronbiot"? I can't agree with you there, and I think that referring to him in that way only supplies him with further specimens of insulting invective to select and display on his website. It's precisely the fact that he is not a moron, and in many ways one of the good guys, that makes his terrible performance on this issue so deeply annoying.

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  3. warszawa: I think you'll find Moronbiot started it through the use of terms like "gibbering idiots" and other emotive language like "virus", "disease" and "infect", none of which was required to make the point he was endeavouring to make. His second effort was no better either.

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  4. That's precisely why everyone should try hard to avoid replying in kind. You see how both he and Cockburn have used the anger directed against them.

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