Btw; any damages I recover from the NUS for defamation will be donated to Defence Fund for Julian Assange and Bradley Manning
— George Galloway (@georgegalloway) October 1, 2012
Warning: this blog discusses rape.
This is what George Galloway actually said in his podcast in August (transcript) – after calling both women liars, Galloway then says “if the allegations made by these two women were true, 100 per cent true, and even if a camera in the room captured them, they don’t constitute rape”, because in Galloway‘s view, if a woman has spent the evening arguing with him because she won’t have sex with him unless he wears a condom, and he doesn’t want to, but eventually begrudgingly he does, and then when he wakes up the next morning and she’s still asleep, he screws her without a condom because, well, she’s asleep so she’s not telling him to use a condom right now. That’s what Fröken W says happened, and according to English law, that’s rape. But what Galloway says he thinks of this act of non-consensual sex:
I mean not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion. Some people believe that when you go to bed with somebody, take off your clothes, and have sex with them and then fall asleep, you’re already in the sex game with them.
It might be really bad manners not to have tapped her on the shoulder and said, “do you mind if I do it again?”. It might be really sordid and bad sexual etiquette, but whatever else it is, it is not rape or you bankrupt the term rape of all meaning…
So, George Galloway outright says that having non-consensual sex with a sleeping woman isn’t rape, and that makes Galloway a rape apologist.
On 26th September the National Union of Students passed a motion to no-platform George Galloway, and said in explanation:
“NUS believes that there is a culture of undermining rape victims and rejects attempts to glorify, joke about or dismiss rape.
“The motion passed yesterday confirms that NUS shall not offer a platform to speakers who are rape deniers or apologists, or support events where such individuals speak.
“NUS will campaign to tackle attitudes on campus that trivialise sexual assault or seek to blame survivors, and instead promote a better understanding of consent.”
Aaron Kiely argues in advance of the motion that to no-platform George Galloway is to dilute the NUS’s “No platform for fascists” policy, because a rape apologist is not a fascist:
That’s because no platform is a policy we reserve for fascists because they uniquely threaten democracy for all and stand for the annihilation of entire groups for people. NUS’s No Platform policy has never, and should never, be about banning people whose views we find offensive or disagree with. And it’s very important to understand the implications of diluting the policy in this way. To extend no platform beyond fascists, blurs and undermines the policy. This is especially dangerous when fascists are seeking to overturn this on campuses as they have done in recent years.
But it is worth noting that according to a NUS spokesperson, the NUS no-platform policy
only applies to NEC members and NUS events and so cannot be used to force universities to deny platforms to any speakers.
As if to underline this point, on October 16th Galloway will be giving a talk at the University of Bristol, and will be opposed by members of Bristol Feminist Network.
If motions like yesterday’s are to be anything other than empty posturing then consistent application of the ‘No Platform’ policy is essential.
Criticism that adding dinosaurs like Galloway to this policy undermines the fight against fascism requires that the fight against fascism be actually prosecuted. This motion is a step in the right direction but there is still plenty more to be done.
In Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism, there are three points that match up with George Galloway’s remarks in that podcast: Disdain for the recognition of human rights; Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause; and of course Galloway’s rampant sexism
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.
One might also note that another defining characteristic of fascism is:
Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.
Irna Qureshi’s reaction to George Galloway’s address of the Bradford Muslim Women’s Circle was that
Hearing him in person for the first time, I was taken by surprise when Galloway’s Islamic greeting was even longer than the Muslim chairperson, Bana Gora’s. Galloway had even preceded this with an impressively enunciated ‘bismillah’ (literally ‘In the name of Allah’) which traditional Muslims believe to be auspicious when recited at the start of any task. This was a taste of things to come. However, if the political maverick meant to impress with his awareness of Islam, then I remained indifferent. Actually, I felt ill at ease with Galloway’s inclination to invoke the Islamic cause time and again.
I should have seen it coming when the Respect MP first described his landslide victory as the “Bradford spring”, referencing events in the Muslim Middle East. In the Bradford West by-election campaign itself, Galloway had reminded Muslim voters that they would have to answer to God on judgement day if they did not vote for him. Undeniably, it was a group of Muslim women that Galloway was addressing in Bradford yesterday, and it’s certainly the case that the wars with Iraq and Afghanistan have been unpopular with Muslims. But, believe me, the only person pushing Islam to the top of the political agenda last night was Galloway himself.
…. although the women were undeniably Muslim, it was local issues we wanted to speak to Galloway about. The issues the women raised clearly reflected their commitment to equal rights and to Bradford. In fact, the women were more interested in Galloway’s moral stance than his faith. This is why his insistence on addressing us purely in terms of our religious identity, made the meeting all the more frustrating.
The veteran socialist Tony Benn has apologised for his comments last year down-playing the rape allegations against Julian Assange.
The comments by Benn were made at a Stop the War rally in 2011 in defence of Julian Assange.
George Galloway’s reaction to being called on his rape apologism was to angrily attack his critics, as Shiraz Maher describes:
Not known for his humility, Galloway continued attacking his critics on Twitter and eventually courted yet more controversy after calling one user a “window licker,” a highly derogatory slang term for the disabled. The statement prompted an outcry from charities for the disabled. This time Galloway did back down, offering a half-apology on YouTube. He said:
It’s clear that by being drawn into dialogue with a moron I have inadvertently caused a great deal of upset to the parents of disabled children, disabled people themselves and those campaigning and raising funds and awareness on their behalf, it would never knowingly be my intention to do so.
Few were ready to accept Galloway’s maudlin tears, not least because he shed them them with evasions and deceit. Rather than apologize frankly for the incident and leave it there, Galloway continued to try and explain away his remarks.
Salma Yaqoob, the leader of Respect, criticised Galloway’s comments:
There are many political issues entwined in the case of Julian Assange. These issues cannot be used to diminish in any way the seriousness of any allegations against him. Any individual accused of a crime, sexual or otherwise, is innocent until proven guilty. By the same token, any individual who believes themselves to be a victim has a right to have their grievances heard in a fair manner and not have their allegations belittled or dismissed. This is the cornerstone of justice.
Mandy Rhodes, editor of Holyrood magazine, sacked George Galloway as a political columnist:
George Galloway is no longer a columnist for Holyrood magazine and the reasons for that, I would have thought, are fairly obvious…his recent outpourings about definitions of rape have left me, frankly gobsmacked. There is no excuse, ever, for sex without consent and regardless of the details of the Assange case, Galloway’s comments and inappropriate language about rape per se are alarming.
And a few weeks later, on 11th September, apparently because of angry attacks from Assange and Galloway supporters, Salma Yaqoob resigned as leader of Respect:
It is with deep regret that I have decided to resign from Respect. The last few weeks have been extremely difficult for everyone in the party. I feel necessary relations of trust and collaborative working have unfortunately broken down. I have no wish to prolong those difficulties, and indeed hope that they may now be drawn to a close.
In Salma Yaqoob’s ‘Why I quit’ interview, she says that George Galloway never got directly in contact with her.
Let’s recap that. The leader of his party wrote a strong criticism of his podcast comments, and Galloway just never bothered to get back in touch – either then or when she felt she had to resign. The disrespect this shows Galloway felt towards his party and its leader is – well, not really astonishing, just repellant.
But on discovering that he was about to be no-platformed by the NUS, George Galloway did not apologise nor retract his original podcast. Instead, he instructed a staffer, Rob Hoveman, to write a “What the MP meant to say was” letter:
Firstly, on the issue of rape, George Galloway has always held and continues to hold the following positions. No always means no, and never means yes. Consent must be present for any sexual intercourse or other sexual contact. Without meaningful consent, sexual contact will imply sexual assault or rape. Meaningful consent cannot be given if someone is not conscious and sexual intercourse in such circumstances could therefore prima facie imply the possibility of rape. He is also mindful that rape has been severely under-reported over many years because of fear on the part of women, and that it has proved difficult to secure rape convictions in many cases where rape has occurred. He wholeheartedly welcomes the work done by many women’s groups and others to assist women who have suffered domestic and sexual violence and to change attitudes on these issues and he deplores the closure of projects to assist women in these circumstances, and especially women’s refuges, as a result of government and local government spending cuts.
But then in the second paragraph adds that
“George’s view that Assange has been set up has been one widely held on the left of the political spectrum and by those who have examined the detail of the allegations against him in the public domain”
which suggests that if Galloway did try to speak to defend himself, he would just end up saying the whole thing over again.
John Wight at Socialist Unity, who quite evidently doesn’t like this modern trend towards including women as equal human beings in the socialist movement, has written a gleeful post quoting the NUS motion and claiming that calling George Galloway a rape apologist for the rape-apologist things he said is “clearly actionable”.
This follows a week in which Julian Assange spoke at a UN event. He did not discuss his seeking asylum in Ecuador in order to avoid having to face up to charges of sexual assault and rape in Sweden. Slutwalk London joined Women Against Rape in arguing that when they said they wanted all rape to be taken seriously, all rape victims to know they were believed, they made a special exception just for Julian Assange.
— AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) September 27, 2012
The Swedish division of Amnesty International had to make clear that it
doesn’t support demands from its parent that the Swedish government guarantee WikiLeaks-founder Julian Assange would not be extradited to the US should he come to Sweden.
This is because, as everyone who has looked in the case in any detail knows, the US have not made an application to extradite Assange (it is extremely unlikely that they ever will), and the Swedish government cannot instruct the Swedish courts, in advance of any application, to automatically disregard an application for extradition if it is made. The court must have the right to examine the extradition request and respond to it on its own legal merits. What can be said with surety is that Sweden does not extradite for espionage or for other political crimes: and the UK has in fact extradited people to the US for the “crime” of having a website.
“If the Swedish authorities are able to confirm publicly that Assange will not eventually find himself on a plane to the United States if he submits himself to the authority of the Swedish courts, then this will hopefully achieve two things,” said Nicola Duckworth, a researcher at Amnesty International. “First, it will break the current impasse, and second, it will mean the women who have leveled accusations of sexual assault are not denied justice.”
But the only person who is actively denying the women in Sweden justice is Julian Assange himself. He wanted to live in Sweden: he does not want to be questioned on charges of rape. His supporters, and it is infuriating and saddening that Amnesty International has joined them, are assisting him in denying those women justice by publicly joining the pretence that Assange’s refusal to return to Sweden has anything to do with his fear of extradition to the US.
But so long as Ecuador’s government remains willing to shelter him in their Knightsbridge embassy, there is nothing that can be done about that.
George Galloway, on the other hand, is a British politician whose career, it may be hoped, is soon to be in eclipse.
— Another Angry Woman (@stavvers) August 20, 2012
Apparently George Galloway has still not answered Stavvers’ letter, in which she asks:
You’ll notice, George, that the recurring theme throughout all of this is that the women were not consenting. There’s a word for sex without consent. Rape.
I find it rather concerning that you dismiss this as merely, as you put it, “bad sexual etiquette”. Bad sexual etiquette is not saying “thank you” before leaving. What Julian Assange is accused of is far more than that. It’s rape, George. It’s rape.
And it’s precisely due to arse-gargling ballfarters like you that this imaginary “objective proof” can’t work. Because there’s always scum like you who refuses to call a rape a rape. You’ll cloud the issues with rancid squid-ink because… actually, I have no idea how this state of affairs could possibly benefit you unless you’re a rapist. Would you explain to me why you so fervently pretend that none of this is rape?
Good question. Deserves an answer. I wish Bristol Feminist Network all success.
Let’s see him sue ALL OF TWITTER #gallowaytherapeapologist
— Another Angry Woman (@stavvers) October 1, 2012
— Sarah Anderson (@Seja75) October 1, 2012
— Jo (@opinionatedpavs) October 1, 2012
This isn’t bullying or mob justice. It’s at worst bad social etiquette. #gallowaytherapeapologist
— Conor (@IdioticInuit) October 1, 2012
— Another Angry Woman (@stavvers) October 1, 2012
This hashtag #GallowayTheRapeApologist briefly trended to third place in the UK, but appears to have then been pulled by Twitter as it disappeared shortly afterwards and has not appeared on the list again – despite being still tweeted several times a minute shortly before midnight 1st October.
Julian reconsiders his support for unfettered online discourse after #gallowaytherapeapologiststarts trending
— Assange Big Brother (@AssangeBB) October 1, 2012
#gallowaytherapeapologist is suing the NUS because not everybody needs to be asked prior to each injunction
— Assange Big Brother (@AssangeBB) October 1, 2012
George Galloway as saying that he is ‘strongly against abortion. I believe life begins at conception and therefore unborn babies have rights. I think abortion is immoral…I believe in God. I have to believe that the collection of cells has a soul’. This reactionary position will be a surprise to many people but in fact it is consistent with his record as a Labour MP. The completely reactionary Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child lauds him as a ‘courageous fighter’ in defence of the ‘unborn child’.
Also, this Still standing: George Galloway reveals why his staunchly Leftist outlook is still invariably right piece of fanart by Robert Chalmers from June 2012 does clarify why anyone ever liked him. (I have stood and listened to Galloway at altogether too many anti-war demos to ever like him.)