Category Archives: Equality

We can’t let this go on: Rukhsan Muhammed

On 29th November 2013, a photojournalist on a rescue boat in the Aegean Sea took the photograph below of Rukhsan Muhammed struggling to keep her child Mirwan alive. Later, the photographer sold the image to Anadolu Agency (a state-run press agency in Turkey) which licenced it to Getty Images:

Rukhsan Muhammed, one of the passengers of the boat carrying Syrian refugees to Greek Islands fights for her life after the boat sinks at Aegean Sea near the coastal city of Balikesir, in Turkey on November 29, 2013. Rukhsan Muhammed told a new aspect of her family’s dramatic escape, to Turkish authorities during her appearance in court this week. She explained that following the accident she used her suitcase as a means of life preserver to keep her 1,5 years-old child, Mirwan Muhammed, from drowning. But despite of all her efforts her son fell off the suitcase and got lost amongst the waves.

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Filed under Human Rights, In The Media, War

Smearing by Mensch, 2

There’s a solid 19-point guide at the This-Is-Not-Jewish tumblr, on how to criticise Israel without being anti-Semitic. I have a quibble only over point 5: “Zionism is no more a dirty word than feminism.”

Feminism is the peaceful worldwide revolution for women’s rights and to end the patriarchy. Zionism is the movement, founded in the late 19th century, for the return of Jews to Eretz Yisrael / “the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel”.

The two are not the same. The equivalents would be the peaceful revolution to end anti-Semitism worldwide or the foundation of a matriarchal state.

The problem with founding a homeland is that in any habitable part of the world, there are people already living there. (The same tumblr also discusses this in how to support Israel without being racist.)

Deir Yassin was a village in what was Palestine. On 9th April 1948, around 120 fighters from the Irgun and Lehi groups (which were “paramilitary” or “terrorists” depending on your viewpoint) attacked the Deir Yassin village, killing over a hundred people, many of them women and children, and drove out the survivors.

In Kelvingrove Park, there is a plaque in memory of the massacre, unveiled on the 40th anniversary by the then-Lord Provost Robert Gray. At a memorial event on 7th April 2002, during Operation Defensive Shield, the STUC General Secretary Bill Spiers said:

“But in the midst of this brutal madness in Palestine there is a glimmer of hope which links April 1948 to April 2002.
“We know what happened in Deir Yassin in 1948 in part because of the eyewitness testimony of Jewish villagers, who had lived peacefully alongside their neighbours until the Zionist terrorists arrived. And more ­ the slaughter was actually stopped by courageous protesting Jews from the nearby village of Givat Shaul.”

Louise Mensch on TwitterLast Friday night Louise Mensch – former Tory MP, current Sun on Sunday columnist, and author of Sparkles, Glamour, Glitz, Passion, Desire, and Destiny, had an embarrassing incident involving a screenshot and Twitter’s auto-complete function, detailed in part 1. I am posting these as a series of debunking reports of the long blog Mensch posted on unfashionista the Saturday night after her Twitter fail.

Louise Mensch, like the Telegraph, started out seeing Jeremy Corbyn’s bid for leadership as a very good joke, since obviously Labour members and supporters would never actually elect him: and then as it became clear that he might just win, that Jeremy Corbyn could be Leader of the Opposition in September, Mensch and the Telegraph appear to be as one on this one thing: Corbyn must be stopped.

On Thursday 13th August, a follower responding to Louise Mensch’s tweet “Christ on a bike. Antisemites for Corbyn” coined the first use of the hashtag #antisemitesforcorbyn. (In the same tweet, he also coined #inbredforcorbyn and #thickasminceforcorbyn.)

Louise Mensch didn’t immediately pick up on this hashtag. Nobody did.
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Filed under Equality, Politics, Religion

Smearing by Mensch, 1

Louise Mensch on TwitterLast Friday night, Louise Mensch – former Tory MP, former novelist, currently a columnist for Rupert Murdoch (she took the trouble to praise Murdoch highly when she was an MP and the Murdochs were being investigated by Parliament for phone-hacking) – came unstuck in her hashtag-related attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn when she confused Twitter’s autocomplete function with Google’s autocomplete function.

Google’s autocomplete function, while targeted towards you based on your location and search history, gives you an idea of what other people are searching on.

Louise Mensch discovers her own search historyTwitter’s autocomplete function simply remembers your own previous searches. Louise Mensch had been searching Twitter for references to Liz Kendall (@LizForLeader) combined with “zionist”, “nazi”, “jewish”, “jews”.

When Mensch noticed this coming up in her Twitter autocomplete, she concluded the only reason someone would be doing this kind of search was because they were an anti-Semitic supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. She therefore screenshotted this and posted it on Twitter – to have it pointed out to her that she was condemning her own search history as a “sewer”.
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Filed under Equality, Racism, Religion

Susan Rae: Leith Walk and Hawick Riding

Susan Rae Leith WalkComfy in Susan Rae’s tiny sitting-room, in her flat at the top of Shrubhill, with a cup of tea, I ask her “So why did you move to Edinburgh from the Borders?” I knew she’d moved here seven years ago.

An American once told me, exasperated, “When I ask why you guys always say ‘Well, four hundred years ago – ‘”

This is of course quite untrue. Sometimes, it’s five hundred years ago.
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Filed under Elections, Historic Scotland, Politics, Scottish Politics, Women

Fate of the Third Child

Approved and Unapproved FamiliesFrom 7th April 2017, parents claiming child tax credit will be limited to claiming it for two children only. This is George Osborne’s latest flashy scheme for punishing low-income families in a pretence of “saving money”.

Liz Kendall openly supports this: Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper decline to oppose it (Cooper says she’ll “fight” it but that didn’t extend to voting against it in the Commons). They know that 50% of people who voted Labour in May 2015 support the two-child rule, and Burnham and Cooper aren’t about to try to stick their heads over the parapet and say it’s wrong to do so.

I wrote a few weeks ago why I think this policy is wrong, but this post is about the people who are blithely sure this won’t really affect children of low-income families, and why they haven’t thought it through.

What this policy is really for is to push the idea of the feckless poor, and especially, feckless women who have children without thinking of the consequences. (Iain Duncan Smith and his wife Betsy Fremantle have four children, but that’s OK, because Iain Duncan Smith has a huge salary and Betsy Fremantle is wealthy in her own right.)
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Filed under Poverty, Women, Children

Chutzpah: Julian Assange

It surely cannot be the case that Assange can rely on his own refusal to go to Sweden to escape answering the allegations. However, this does seem to be the case.

It would seem that, in the circumstances, any charge will require an investigation to close; and, in turn, for an investigation to close requires there to be an interview with the suspect. David Allen Green, lawyer & legal blogger

Leo Rosten in The Joys of Yiddish defines chutzpah as

“gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible ‘guts’, presumption plus arrogance such as no other word and no other language can do justice to”.

Famously, Rosten defines the term chutzpah as

“that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan”.

Julian AssangeThe Oxford English Dictionary will need to add a new definition to chutzpah: Julian Assange.

In Swedish legal procedure, to be charged with a crime you have to be interviewed by the police. Julian Assange has now permanently evaded being charged with sexual assault in Sweden by the following series of actions.

First, Assange left Sweden.

Julian Assange had applied for residency in Sweden on 18th August 2010. On 31st August 2010 he was questioned by the police and told of the accusations: the investigation was re-opened. Assange left Sweden on 27th September 2010, and went to the UK. He did not return. On 18th October 2010, the Swedish Migration Board denied Assange a residency permit: Assange was still in the UK.

On 18th November 2010, the Stockholm District Court approved a request to detain Julian Assange for “questioning on suspicion of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion”. Marianne Nye, the Swedish Director of Prosecution, told the court that Assange he has “not been available for questioning”.
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Filed under Unanswerable Questions, Women

Project Truth: SPUC off

Is going swimming in natural water (that is, in a river or a lake or the sea, not a swimming-pool) a particularly dangerous thing to do? Between 2008-2010, 160 people died of drowning in natural water.

We don’t think of pregnancy as being a particularly dangerous undertaking in the UK. But between 2008-2010 147 people died of their pregnancy and/or childbirth.

(Between 2006-2008, 261 people died of “causes directly or indirectly related to their pregnancies”: the mortality rate for pregnancy in the UK 2006-2008 was 11.39 per 100,000 maternities and still declining.)

Pregnancy may be regarded as about as dangerous as going for a swim in open water. Most healthy adults who go for a swim in natural water survive the experience – even if they accidentally fall in. Nothing would justify pushing someone into deep water without knowing or caring if they could swim: not even if they survived. Anyone offered the experience of a swim in natural water should have a right to say “no thanks”, or to change their mind and go back to shore. Any organised swim across open water ought to include rescue boats to pull people aboard if they change their minds, for any reason or none.

Most people in Scotland agree: the same applies to pregnancy. Even if most healthy adults could survive a forced pregnancy, nothing would justify pushing a girl or a woman to have a baby against her will, her conscience, or her judgement. And anyone can decide for herself that her pregnancy needs to be terminated: no one should be denied rescue from an unwanted or unsafe pregnancy.
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Filed under Poverty, Healthcare, Women, Human Rights