Thursday 19 March 2009

Consistency Cohen: Will Nick now denounce Boris?

In all fairness, let us note that Nick Cohen continues to gain support in our little disagreement about whether the Fabians are liberal democrats (of which I am confident), or appeasers of fascist extremism (as he says). Particularly from close allies keen to stress that they also wish to comment from a position of ignorance. So Oliver Kamm is for Cohen, while taking care to stress that he ceased his own Fabian membership sometime about a decade ago and has not paid any attention to us since. That's expert witness number one. Got any more like that, Nick?

Equally unsurprisingly, on my side, Sunny Hundal - regular scourge of extremists, and bane of the MCB too - thinks the referee should stop the fight to save Cohen from unnecessary further damage. (As regular readers will know, I have worked with Hundal on the New Generation Network debates challenging old-fashioned community leadership politics, with liberal Muslims against 42 days, and in the causes Cohen lambasts us for ignoring).

Meanwhile, a small site called 'Aaronovitch Watch' which seems to NickCohenwatch too is having a lively online discussion of whether time travel might even be able to bring the old, much missed and sane Nick Cohen back.

Intriguingly, we now know that "fact-check Cohen" reads the comments there closely, and indeed acts upon them: yesterday, he swiftly changed his own description of Sadiq Khan from Chief Executive of the Fabians, to "Chair of the Society's Executive Committtee" (dropping his previously posted version down a 1984-style memory hole rather than noting the editorial change), when that was noted in the comments. Cohen is still wrong: Khan's correct title is Chair of the Fabian Society, but it is very sweet to see old fact-check trying that little bit harder than he did last Sunday. (Let me remind any professional journalists interested in writing about us that they can even contact us for comment).

And what's this? (Hat tip to the same source). Did Boris Johnson send an entirely warm and positive message to the Global Peace and Unity conference, about which Cohen is so exercised (and which had nothing to do with the Fabians).

Message from Mayor Boris Johnson
Statement of support for the Global Peace and Unity Event

I am delighted to send a message of support to the organizers and attendees at the Global Peace and Unity event. This hugely significant event in London does much to promote global cohesion across all communities; it increases understanding and encourages dialogue throughout the Muslim community and beyond.

I am intensely proud of being the Mayor of a city which has such a rich diversity with communities from across the globe choosing to settle here, and one which encourages all in society to participate economically, democratically and culturally at all levels. Our diversity is our biggest asset.

The Muslim community is hugely varied. In many ways it represents everything that is special about London: vibrant, engaged, tolerant and dynamic. The community has played a hugely significant part in the social, cultural and economic affairs of this city and I hope that under my Mayoralty this continues.

I hope many of you were able to enjoy the Eid celebrations in Trafalgar Square, when Londoners celebrated after the holy month of fasting, Ramadan.

My best wishes once again and I hope this event is a huge success.

Boris Johnson
Mayor of London

But, Nick, where, oh where, were the denunciations? Why do you betray us all so? Surely Nick must rapidly now denounce The Spectator (where Boris was editor) for condoning extremism by association, and indeed the Henley regatta too.

(Perhaps Nick will now challege Boris on this. As an additional bonus, with the Evening Standard in new ownership, there could now be a few quid in that argument too).

And Hundal reminds us of a remarkable Nick Cohen contortion that I had missed.

In the New Statesman in 2003, Nick Cohen attacked Anthony Browne's leading role in "a new vicousness" and "loathing which dominates the media", which Cohen compared to the Daily Mail's attacks on the stateless Jewish refugees from Hitler's Germany in 1938.

"this line of cant has been developed by Anthony Browne, an occasional contributor to this paper, and a writer for the Times and Spectator, elite journals both. "Blair's epidemics" of Aids, TB and hepatitis B are being spread by asylum-seekers, he has asserted to great acclaim. You can understand the reasons for the applause".

Strong stuff. Cohen mocked Browne's claim to be "a brave dissident bringing a truth which few dare utter", flagging up Browne's rather ambiguous comments about the BNP when congratulated by an extreme right-wing US website.

Yet, in the Standard this July, immediately after Anthony Browne was given a job by Boris Johnson, Nick Cohen praised the very same comments of Browne's which he had denounced now praising them as brave, "liberal" dissident truth-telling, as Sunny and Dave Hill noted at the time.

Of course, Anthony Browne then apologised, saying that he deeply regretted writing these articles, and that they did not fairly reflect his views or what was "in his heart"!

Why didn't Cohen denounce Browne? Why didn't he denounce himself for not denouncing Browne? How deep this cycle of betrayal goes. Can nobody save our sanity?

Instead (as far as I am aware) Nick Cohen then, for once, seems to have wisely decided that a rare period of silence on his part would be welcome.

And peace fell upon the land.

1 comment:

Tom Griffin said...

While we're on questions for Nick Cohen, can I add this one?

Who was the "pleasant American"lady who invited him to meet Paul Wolfowitz at Annabel's? (Nick Cohen, Evening Standard, 21 June 2005).

Is she by any chance related to the lady who's been running "cozy, off-the-record briefings by senior Pentagon officials, fellow-neo-cons and fellow members of the Defense Policy Board (DPB) for select British and European reporters in exclusive clubs and cafes in London and Paris". (