"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Saturday, 28 March 2009

A Response on Galloway

A contributor called 'dwillsworth' who blogs over at 'In Ruins' recently responded to a comment I left on his blog with a full length post.

The issue in question is whether or not George Galloway actually defended Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir, and whether or not the latter individual counts as a 'genocidal dictator'.

Here is my response:

Thanks for this detailed response to my request.

Now, you say that the 'anti-Galloway lobby' generally see him as a 'Muslim-lover'; I think I see through him. Does he really care about ordinary Muslims? I don't think so. I think he cares about any bandwagon which serves his ego and anti-West agenda, to be quite honest.

I want to be clear here; I do fundamentally disagree with most of Galloway's beliefs, but finding him to be quite an unpleasant person is separate from that. Galloway is a hypocrite, full stop, and he picks and chooses his causes to suit himself.

He was happy for Geert Wilders to be banned from Britain under threat of Muslim violence, but he feels being banned from Canada is an unbearable affront, as well as pretending that the Jewish Defence League will attack him or incite violence against him. I don't know about you, but it seems to me the vast majority of the violence and violent rhetoric in the world today does not come from Jewish organisations but from the militants Galloway spends his life apologising for.

You must also ask yourself why Galloway is generally free to strut around the world spreading his message, when critics of Islamic militancy such as Mr Wilders must live in genuine fear of their lives.

Anyway, on to your list of points:
Yes the title of the video is anti-Galloway, but it was hosted by an anti-Galloway channel. I'm sure there are plenty of pro-Galloway ones that also carry the clip. You'll notice that he's talking on Press TV, the Iranian equivalent of al-Jazeera, and I think that alone enables us to take much of what he says with a large pinch of salt. That's not to say I necessarily trust the Western media either, for the record.

You can re-define what Omar al-Bashir is all you want, but the fact is I doubt you'd want to live under his rule or that you genuinely find the man morally acceptable. He is at the very least a ruthless authoritarian - the very sort of person Galloway would love to protest against if he wasn't a Muslim Arab and it didn't suit his agenda this month (don't forget, he's got to get elected to a largely Muslim constituency in east London in a year or two).

Now we get on to definitions of genocide - again, we're back to hypocrisy. If a non-Muslim country was treating Muslims the way Bashir is treating his citizens, we'd have peace marches and protests and hand-wringing. But it's the same old story - I've never seen student occupations and protests about how Arab countries treat their citizens, or when Hamas purged Fatah elements from Gaza - this is why I made my comment about Muslim deaths, because on some issues the Left always seems oddly silent.

Al-Bashir has been in power since 1993. He appointed himself president after seeing his power base increase and then disbanded other political parties. Is this not how a dictator behaves?

I think there is a middle ground to be taken between the typical 'what's happening in Darfur is the worst humanitarian crisis ever line' and 'nothing's happening in Darfur, move along, nothing to see here.' Why did Kofi Annan meet with al-Bashir on three occasion in 2004 and demand he disarm the Janjaweed? The estimated death toll of the ethnic cleansing in Darfur is 200,000 - 400,000. Al-Bashir claimed it was just 10,000. Why should I take his word?

Whatever you feel the West has to gain by inventing these charges of genocide, it's clear that something deeply unpleasant is occurring there, but I too find the modern Western habit of painting a metaphorical Hitler moustache on all its opponents distasteful and counter-productive. But anyway, is the West inventing the testimony of survivors?

I can believe they might doctor Wikipedia, but why only on this issue? Wikipedia often seems biased in the opposite direction on other articles, and surely the criminals Olmert and Bush would want themselves and their conflicts seen in only a good light?

Galloway also fails to mention what Sudan and al-Bashir are getting in return for 'every drop' of their oil - military hardware and training programmes from the Chinese Government so they can continue the war against the black Africans of the south west.

I'm not going to get into 'Olmert, Blair and Bush are the biggest war criminals' territory; I don't personally care for any of them or their policies, but there is a huge difference between deliberately targeting civilians and doing your very best not to target civilians.

In a sense I agree bringing al-Bashir before the ICC is absurd, but only because I think the ICC itself is absurd; but not as absurd as pretending that China, the Arab World or the African Union have more moral legitimacy than the West.

I am not blind to the faults of the West and Israel (a country in which many Sudanese refugees are finding a new life), but it occurs to me that none of the former countries and organisations are exactly paragons of freedom, human rights and military restraint.

I think part of the problem here is simply definition; the word 'genocide' is over-used, in my opinion. But if Slobodan Milosevic was guilty of it and deserved to go to the ICC, then so is and does al-Bashir.

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