Jul 25, 2013

Standing up for Nazis is not freedom of speech

Giving voice to an article promoting a party that wants to "turn immigrants into soap" and "make lampshades of their skin" is not a diversity of ideas. It's violent hate speech.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


Golden Dawn

Hurry to the newstands to get your edition of this week's Spectator Australia, which contains "High Life" columnist Taki's stirring endorsement of ... Golden Dawn, the Greek fascist party. Here's the endorsement from the UK/Australia's leading conservative magazine:
"Golden Dawn came into being because of PC, poor Greeks at times getting fewer benefits than African illegal immigrants. Then GD became very popular with certain poor Greeks while it defended them from being mugged by Albanian criminals and drug dealers, and for safeguarding older folk after bank withdrawals. No, Golden Dawn is not house-trained, and many of its members tend to use rough language and get physical. None of them went to Eton, and none of their parents was my playmate when I was a child. But if they were lefties and railed against capitalism they would be treated like heroes, the way Bono, Bianca Jagger and other such untalented rappers and phonies are. Golden Dawn members might need some lessons in social etiquette, but what the bien pensant need much more is to get off the pot and their double standards. Golden Dawn members are mostly labourers, martial artists, cops, security personnel and good old-fashioned patriotic Greeks."
Yes, the "playing rough" includes axe attacks on migrants and Leftists in the '90s, vandalism of synagogues, a prominent member jailed for the attempted murder of three political opponents, numerous violent assaults on opponents, and a virulent and obsessive racism and anti-Semitism. Still, at least someone's standing up against the liberal elites, Nick Cater-style. UK Spectator editor Fraser Nelson, taking to Twitter, rather pathetically tried to defend publishing the article on the grounds of "diversity", a bullshit argument. Any editor makes choice; the political right to free speech doesn't include the right to a platform, or the obligation to lend one, if the opinion is not merely disagreeable, but vile by giving dishonest praise to people with an abhorrent philosophy. Indeed, Nelson hasn't always been so willing to encourage diversity -- he defended The Spectator's cancelling of a debate between George Monbiot and Oz moonbat Ian Plimer, after the latter decided to chicken out. The Speccie then ran an evening with Ian Plimer alone, absent all that pesky diversity of opinion. In that respect one of Nelson's tweets is instructive:

Fraser Nelson tweet

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54 thoughts on “Standing up for Nazis is not freedom of speech

  1. Warren Joffe

    Oh dear I often enjoy reading GR and tend to credit him with honesty, albeit honest and consistent bias one has to admit at times. But this piece, to be charitable, is displaying the same symptoms as former lefty Paddy McGuinness once exhibited in his days of greatest output. Writing too much to ever pause and think that one might be better off shutting up.

    Not only is Taki’s piece (which you link) nothing like a ringing endorsement of the Golden Dawn, and certainly not as a part of government, Golden Dawn only gets about 20 per cent of his article and the par. is aimed at the hypocrisy and humbug of the left. The idea that Taki would favour a true Nazi party (even in the 30s when, if he were of the right age, his sympathies would probably have been with the snobbish upper class who despised Hitler and his thugs, but, certainly, after the German invasion and occupation of Greece there is not the slightest chance that he would sympathise with Nazis as opposed to a Poujadist or perhaps Pauline Hanonite opposition to his opponents on the bien pensant left as he views them).

    You mischaracterise The Spectator. The Australian edition was added to keep Spectator subscribers in Australia, of which there have always been quite a lot, loyal to a rather expensive mag which was obviously going to face the problems of all the print media in a digital age. Taki’s column has little to do with the Australian edition, except that it, together with nearly all the UK edition’s stuff, is printed in it. Certainly its Australian editor would have no say in the matter.

    You mightn’t know GR, but The Spectator was probably taken by Australians who enjoyed a suite of overseas mags; e.g. NYRB, LRB, Atlantic, London Review of Books, perhaps Harpers and New Statesmen.

    And you certainly haven’t taken time to acquaint or reacquaint yourself with the outrageous Taki’s column any more than you have been fair to the one you quote a small part of. In the case of the Taki column you should be thinking of a long conversation with someone over a dinner table where, especially after plenty of wine, some at least try to provoke as well as entertain. I know respectable people who object to Taki so much they would find it hard to be formally polite to him but, equally, you would surely find something to be said for the co-founder of the outstanding (and outstandingly good value, at least now that it is owned by Ron Unz) The American Conservative. After all, they were against the Iraq war from the outset!

  2. Ben Abraham

    I disagree with Warren’s comment – that the sanctioning of a fascist Golden Dawn takeover of Greece (“we should be so lucky”, don’t forget!) only references them for a paragraph or two is immaterial. Give an inch, take a mile. It’s a dangerous precedent for the next column, and the next. It’s a disgusting abdication of responsibility on the part of the editors.

    Now, I tried reading more of the Taki piece and I couldn’t get past just how devoid of actual content it was (besides the author’s faux-self-effacement and smarm), but that’s another matter entirely.

  3. Kevin Herbert

    Taki shoots at every corner of the political spectrum using his poor little rich boy theme as the springboard for his attacks.

    One thing though..he’s consistently anti Israel, but I would not have described him as anti Jewish.

    I buy the Speccie not for the Aussie content, which is so blindly pro Israel as to be absurd, as for the great UK theatre, book & gallery reviews….and for that feeling of walking down Piccadilly on a summers evening when one was resident there.

  4. michael r james

    [Warren Joffe at 3:45 pm
    Taki would favour a true Nazi party (even in the 30s when, if he were of the right age, his sympathies would probably have been with the snobbish upper class who despised Hitler and his thugs …]

    Gotta laugh. Like Sir Oswald Mosley (6th Baronet) and Lady Diana* (Mitford) getting married in the Berlin home of Joseph Goebbels with Adolf Hitler one of the guests! *Diana’s sister Unity was a veritable Hitler groupie. (Turning to Wikipedia to get my Mitford sisters clear, I find the amazing fact that Unity was “conceived in the town of Swastika, Ontario.”)
    And at the very top of the whole British aristocratic pyramid, well, we won’t even mention the sympathies of King Edward VIII (and Mrs Simpson) et al. …

  5. rachel612

    So the Duke of Winsdor, Oswald Mosely, Verity Mitford and a whole swag of upper class English twits despised Hitler and his thugs?

    Sorry Warren Joffe, you’re as silly and as deliberately offensive, in a trolling sort of way, as Taki. Try reading some British history some time, and then go on with your sweeping, self-congratulatory generalisations.

  6. Warren Joffe

    @ rachel1610 A little knowledge is a dangerous thing especially when combined with lack of either intelligence, education or both. It puts you on unfirm ground when being presumptuously offensive.

    Even if I had been referring to English upper class twits such as your misspelled and misnamed list** you would have been guilty of one of the classic fallacies in suggesting that the existence of some deluded or malign English upper class people implied that there were not others who despised Hitler and his thuggish supporters or that Taki would not have been amongst the latter – which, anyway, I left open. As it happens I know enough, including enough history, both British and other, to know that the German upper classes, to whom I was actually referring, despised Hitler and the Nazis even when they deluded themselves early on that he was controllable or decided to take advantage of what he offered whether to Prussian military families or western capitalists. In order to learn German I stayed as a paying guest with an old Hanoverian family who typified the old, minor aristocracy who valued learning and scholarship and had hidden Jews in their basement in Potsdam. (The father’s service in WW1 was all that stopped him being executed by the Nazis in the last days of the war and he was then imprisoned by those great philo-Semites, the Soviet commissars, before the family escaped to the West with his library in a lorry. And they weren’t just some of the many Germans who would need to try and talk the talk and cover up their 30s and 40s histories).

    I also happen to know a bit about Taki that you are evidently unaware of. His wife Alexandra is (like Karl Marx’s wife!) a German aristocrat and Taki often makes clear his admiration for the marshal qualities of the Germans. He may even have expressed a preference for Germany to have won, or at least not lost so disatrously, WW1. He would be on safe ground in arguing that Jews would have been better off by a million miles if that had been so. Anyway, that is just the kind of provocative thing which well-read people, especially those who know lots of important or well-placed people, use to entertain people when in provocative mode at sophisticated dinner parties. And that, understandable to anyone who has read a lot of Taki’s stuff, is what I suggested was the right frame of reference for reading his articles.

    Finally, try showing a modicum of courtesy and modesty by at least not saying things which are flatly untrue. I challenge you to find a “self-congratulatory generalisation”.

    ** Your implicit claim to superior knowledge of something relevant about British history requires examination in the light of two of the three names being misspelled (though one was probably mere carelessness which you could afford if you were better on substance) and one just plain wrong. Duke of Windsor please. Oswald Mosley. And the Mitford sister? Not Verity but perhaps Unity who got close to Hitler or Diana who married Mosley. How to make a fool of yourself in two short paragraphs. Not bad.

  7. Warren Joffe

    Ben Abraham I wonder if you are one of those would be defenders of Israel and other Jewish interests who repeatedly embarrass true friends of Israel by leaping in with oversized boots and a display of ill-directed enthusiasm and not much knowledge or intellect on display. (It is truly embarrassing when even the truly smart like Ron Merkel bring up the Nazi horror as he did in the Bolt case: not his finest hour in the minds of previous admirers).

    If you had bothered to understand the context of Taki’s writing in the huge corpus of Taki output you wouldn’t have had any trouble understanding his “The public sector is what sank the Greek economy. That and corruption by the two main parties, the very same two parties now putting the squeeze on poor people in order to satisfy the EU crooks. But the voices one hears whining about the loss of jobs are the voices of those who played a big part in sinking the country, those of civil servants crying over the loss of their sinecures. (Like that stupid woman writing in the IHT and warning against a fascist takeover of Greece; no such luck, I’m afraid.)” which you quote in part (though, interestingly, Rundle didn’t quote).

    Apart from the fact that “fascist” is a mile away from “Nazi” despite Mussolini’s craven giving in to Hitler on anti-Jewish laws and practices (previously he had probably been better than the average Pope even forgetting the church’s darkest centuries) what Taki is clearly doing is making clear how he despised most of the Greek political class. {If you have trouble grasping that and are still baffled by the Taki style try this “He [some fraudster] has been taken out of solitary confinement and classified with the rapists and child molesters – an unjustified promotion in status”. But yes….

    to Kevin Herbert I think you are right to describe him as not anti-Jewish. Someone like Jimmy Goldsmith was a friend but vulgarians who he would have classified with East End “barrow boys” who had made it big in currency trading and immediately started to show off would cop it whoever they were.

    On Israel, apart from being against the Iraq war which was mostly the responsibility of Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney but fostered by a lot of Jewish neo-cons like Wolfavitz, Perle, Kristol and (but is he Jewish?) Krauthammer – and was certainly seen to be in Israel’s interests whether rightly or not – I do recall his being quite specific on a number of issues. But then the sinking of that American ship during the Yom Kippur war, if I haven’t misdated it, is generally regarded by realists as deliberate, if not the result of a deliberate Belgrano type decision from the PM’s office. Taki claimed to have some particularly good source of information I think. So…. I agree with you.

  8. Warren Joffe

    “martial qualities” …..

  9. Warren Joffe

    @ michael r james

    Your point would be well enough taken if you hadn’t made the possibly understandable mistake that I was referring to the British and not the German upper classes. A bit more research on Taki would have made you realise that the German reference was the probable interpretation, as well as its being more directly relevant to Hitler**… AND if you hadn’t commmitted the same logical fallacy as the egregious rache1612 (vide supra).

    **Taki did go to Gordonstoun for a time I believe but usually quotes Lawrenceville in the US as his school. Anyway Gordonstoun, connected as it was with liberal Germany, is hardly evidence to make one equate Taki’s self-identification as English or British upper class.

  10. Peter Wertheim

    Golden Dawn is an overtly racist party of the old school. Their members’ thuggish, antisemitic behaviour has included vandalising synagogues and Jewish graves. The Spectator has erred fundamentally in publishing this apologia. Racism is wrong no matter where it comes from. In the past The Spectator has rightly pointed to examples of antisemitism on the far-Left and it is equally condemnable when it comes from the far Right.

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