Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Harry's Place and Jenna Delich

Every so often there's a post on Harry's Place that I enjoy or find useful. I am, of course, duly ashamed of myself as it's hardly a place known for its cool and rational perspectives on politics, but once a month or so there's something worth reading there. We basically come from very different places and usually when I read HP it's with one long tut on the go.

However, that does not mean I think it should be closed down. Particularly for mentioning an uncontested fact - that a UCU union member posted a link to an article on the website of David Duke, who's politics are down the line racist.

His book Jewish Supremacism says it "simply examines and documents elements of ethnic supremacism that have existed in the Jewish community from historical to modern times" which should ring a bell with most readers here, but it is the least of the problems with the guy seeing as he's a former Grand Wizard of the KKK.

Interestingly I checked out the link Jenna Delich posted and it's essentially a cut and paste job which, whilst controversial and inaccurate, is not anti-semitic in itself, out of context. I can imagine someone scan reading the piece and, not knowing who David Duke was, forwarding the link. Although, having said that, they would have to be pretty unobservant not to cast their eye to the right of the screen, to the array of links and banners which do rather give the game away. Thankfully being unobservant is not yet a crime.

However, if I'd posted a link to a vile and genuinely dangerous racist, when it was pointed out to me I'd go "oh my good Lord" take down the link and apologise to everyone. In fact exactly that happened to me once - I linked to a BNP members blog. The piece itself was innocuous (it was on some local bit of news I think) but I hadn't bothered checking out the rest of the blog so I got a horrible surprise when someone said "Jim, why are you linking to fascists?"

It seems Jenna's response has been rather different from mine though. She's decided to take it all up a notch and has put in a legal complaint to their ISP and the site has been suspended, all for the fact that an image on Harry's Place said that she "links to far right websites associated with the Klu Klux Klan" - which is true.

Jenna states here that she "support[s] the idea that we should all stand united against all forms of racism against all people and religions (with no double-standards or selectiveness). All people are born equal, and deserve an euqal right to live, and an equal right to respect." If that's the case then she should really take stock about this whole affair. David Duke is not your ally.

It's one thing to link to abhorrent material (after all I've even done so in this post, it can be impossible to avoid if you're to allow the reader to judge for themselves) but it's quite another to kick up a fuss when someone highlights the fact that you did so. It's alright to make a mistake, it really is, who's perfect after all? But if you react to that mistake by refusing to correct what you've done and instead closing down the opposition - well, don't expect to feel the love.

Tactically she's clearly made one of the stupidest decisions of her life because her name will now be associated forever with posting a link to one of the world's leading racists and thinking it's everyone else who has the problem. Let's bring Harry's Place back on line.

You can read more on this episode here;

Update: The Place has returned.

Update II: following the comments discussion I wanted to make two amendments to this post, and following my normal custom and practice I've chosen not to simply change the original text (which would erase my errors but make the discussion difficult to follow) but rather to add text in an update.

Amendment one: I linked to the Jenna Delich blog (above) as at the time it was the place that gave their "official" side of the story - readers should not take that link to be an endorsement of the site and was provided so people could read around the topic. There are a number of statements on that site now that did not exist when I linked to it that I find to be exaggerations, hyperboles, stupidities or lies.

Amendment two: It's been fairly pointed out that whilst I was correct in stating the basics of the case the post does rather leave the impression that HP were completely innocent and truthful throughout the episode. I'm happy to clarify that I do not think this is the case. I still hold to the opinion that Jenna's course of action was quite wrong, but I want to correct any impression that I approve of everything HP have said about her or those they disagree with on the Palestine issue.

It's clear that HP's purpose in the affair was to attack those who provide solidarity to the Palestinians and oppose the policies of the Israeli state, in this case specifically in UCU. By focusing on Jenna's error they hoped, successfully as it turned out, to turn her mistake into something of far greater political significance and for it to carry the meaning that she specifically and, by implication, other PSC members are Nazi sympathisers and anti-semites.

There is no justification for those disgraceful claims.

However, silencing opponents is wrong in principle and does not work as a tactic, as this whole episode shows extremely clearly. HP should not have been closed down, and had it not been the most far fetched of its claims would have been forgotten long ago.


ModernityBlog said...

thanks for the support.

Anonymous said...

Can't belive that she thought this would be seen by anyone as acceptable.
She may be an academic, but either she is extremely politically naive, or worse!
No fan at all of Harry's Place and its politics, but it is often an interesting read.


ModernityBlog said...

if you’ll indulge me another plug, my simple guide for UCU Activists and others - How To Avoid Re-posting from Neo-Nazi, Ku Klux Klan or White Power Web Sites.

it is free! recycle it as much as you like :)

Moll said...

The words 'storm' and 'teacup' spring to mind. But still. Indeed she did make the link she was accused of making, but I'm inclined to agree with Lenin's analysis of the situation.

Petty blog-wars are one thing, but they do - sometimes for better and sometimes for worse - have an impact in the real world. There is something tabloid-like about the bitchy-ness of personal attacks of this kind. What else, in the circumstances, could she have done, other than apologise on the email list and admit the mistake - which apparently she had already done?

I'm not saying I agree at all with the ease with which sites are able to be taken down. I don't think the site should have been taken down in this case, or in any other case. But I'd put HP's squawking about censorship up there with the Sun and the Mirror saying they are censored when they can't publish photos of b-list celebrities getting laid by their girl-friends.

ModernityBlog said...

the issue has moved on,

why does such racism get posted in the first place?

why is the UCU activists list used to pass around racist links?

why is racism entering the mainstream and more importantly, why can't some people see that?

Jim Jay said...

Well hold on Moll. If you're refering to some minor union member posting an obnoxious link to an e-list that most UCU activists don't even read then it would be a storm in a teacup.

But the issue, for me, is how can a publication that is quite widely read be taken down for telling the truth? It's not a truth they had to tell but despite HP's generally right wing nature this story was anything but.

It's quite right to rebuke activists when they link approvingly the nazi websites through trade union lists. It's quite wrong that the site could be removed for doing that.

Closing down publications is actually a real political issue.

I wouldn't fight to death to keep Harry's Place alive - but there has to be clarity about the fact that political disagreements should be fought politically.

Levi9909 said...

I know I'm very late with this but I have only just seen this post and it is very wrong though I can't tell if you meant it to be so here goes,

Jim - Harry's Place did not merely point out that Jenna Delich linked to David Duke's site. They ran a headline that she was a David Duke fan and a story that sought to firm up on that bogus headline together with a photo of her with the double entendre underneath that said "Jenna Delich links to fascist sites" or something like that which look intended to be construed (when taken with the headline) as her having links with rather than inadvertently having linked to a fascist's site. Jenna Delich sought to have the libellous headline and picture, together with its libellous caption removed. She succeeded in that. Unfortunately she succeeded in making David T(oube) look a martyr. I don't think you will find David t owning up anywhere to the fact that he changed the headline, though he does seem to have got some sock puppets to run the same headline elsewhere.

Jenna Delich made a mistake for which she apologised. David t libelled her. She defended herself. He made a tactical retreat by changing his libellous headline and removing the photo and caption and then he compounded the libel by making himself out to be the victim and she the bully. Absurd! And absurder still of you to fall for his disgusting bullying antics whilst describing yourself as a socialist and arguing on behalf of David Toube of all people that "political agreements should be fought politically".

If by "fought politically" you mean by honest debate then how is a bogus denunciation of someone as being a fascist "political" in a way that having the libel removed is not? HP want all criticism of Israel silenced. Jenna Delich wanted libellous comments removed. You seem not have understood the basic facts of the case.

Jim Jay said...

Hi Levi, no problems about returning to an old theme.

I'm glad Jenna apologised, although this is the first time I've heard that, and as I said in the post these things can easily happen - it's how you respond to them that counts.

I'm also under no illusions about where Harry's Place are coming from. Israel is not the only issue with which I disagree with them absolutely and completely.

But the taking down of HP was a problem. Not as much of a problem as the collapse of the world's financial markets, but a problem none the less. The entire online publication was taken down, not one post by one person - and for me that's a real worry.

If your site was taken down because you denounced Gilad Atzmon in glorious technicolour I'd be fuming. Not just because I actually enjoy reading your blog a hundred times more than HP and agree with most of what you say, but also because the forcible silencing of dissent is wrong.

Unfortunately debate with people who hate you can be unpleasant. I'm for political discussion being conducted in a way that doesn't put people off being part of politics altogether - but I think when you start legislating against people opposing your views there is a real issue there.

I don't believe in freedom of speech at any cost but closing down publications you don't like is out of order, even when they make you spitting mad - whether that's the HP right or the san frontiers left.

Levi9909 said...

You're still not understanding what happened here Jim. Jenna Delich did not seek to have Harry's Place removed from the net. She sought to have a headline describing her as a David Duke fan removed from the post together with the false claim that created the impression that she had links to fascist sites. This is not political disagreement, it is a pack of lies aimed at undermining a named individual.

David Toube removed those libellous aspects of the post and then set up a load of sock puppets to repeat them with a clear view to jeopardising her employment. It is actually she who has been prevented from expressing herself since, in spite of her apology which was tendered before the whole thing was leaked to Harry's Place and on the same list that she had posted the offending link to, she has been banned from posting to the UCU activists' list.

David Toube must have known of the apology when he posted his libellous piece. Ironically it may even have been her apology that drew attention to the link.

She is also being falsely denounced around the internet as a fascist sympathiser and antisemite, not as someone who simply inadvertently posted a link to a neo-nazi's website as your post is claiming. Your post is factually incorrect and compounds the original libel.

It cannot be right that people can lie in such a way as to threaten someone's livelihood and get away with it but whilst it was not Jenna Delich's intention to have Harry's Place removed from the web it is clearly Toube's intention to silence criticism of Israel.

I am not making a general point here when I say that Jenna Delich has been far more wronged in this than David Toube was. I am not just saying that David Toube is a nasty piece of work in general. The point is specific to the case. He lied in the beginning and he has lied throughout this. The worst part is that some socialists and greens, including yourself, have fallen for his dishonesty or are colluding in it.

Regarding my denunciations of Gilad Atzmon, they do not involve falsehoods. I quote him accurately and without innuendo. David Toube lied to portray Jenna Delich as a fascist sympathiser and antisemite. That cannot be allowed in a climate where such things can lose a person their job and endanger their physical safety especially when you consider that he posted a photo of her. What was the relevance of that? That incidentally is the only part of the post he admits to having changed but don't worry, the sock puppets have posted the photo. A political approach would have been to either refute the facts in the essay she linked to or to provide a counter-explanation as to how it is that Israel gets away with killing far more civilians than its enemies do. Personal smears are not political disagreements though they may of course arise out of them.

A lesson to come out of this is that since the facts of the case of Israel and the Palestinians are starting to speak for themselves in spite of the mainstream media and appendages to it like Harry's Place, more and more political non-initiates are getting involved in the Palestine solidarity cause and Jenna Delich is one. These people will not be connoisseurs of the American extreme right. Mistakes will be made in which case, as happened, they should be pointed out and, as happened, rectified and, if appropriate, as happened, apologised for - all before the freedom loving David Toube deliberately got hold of the wrong end of the stick and well before you possibly accidentally did the same thing.

People should feel free to criticise Israel without running the risk of having their photograph put on line with a heavy hint that the person has links to fascists, especially if their job could be lost as a result.

Again with regard to the specifics, you have sided with the assailant against the victim and you still haven't fully grasped the facts of the case.

I must repeat that I am not simply saying that David Toube is a scumbag and therefore that he has no rights and I wouldn't say that. I am saying that in this case he has fully honoured his scumbag status and dragged otherwise worthy bloggers into his sewer with him.

A private individual has suffered a grotesque injustice by way of personal smears that could get even worse for her and people who ought to know better have sided with her assailant and given him ammunition.

I must say it's a wild coincidence that you brought up Atzmon. I once ran a post titled "Gilad Atzmon: liar, racist, buffoon" which had the great man and at least one of his cohorts threatening me with a libel action that never happened. I was thinking of running the same headline with David Toube as the subject (or is it the object?) and maybe I will still. Coincidence huh?

But let's be clear, whether deliberately or not you have misrepresented the facts of the case. First, HP did not simply say that she linked to a fascist site, they said she was a FAN of the owner of the site. Second, she did not try to have the blog pulled, she contacted the provider to have the libellous comments, not the political disagreements or the whole blog removed. Third, HP did not express a political disagreement with Jenna Delich, it lied about her at least twice and in a way that could still cost her her job and get her assaulted or otherwise abused. Fourth, David Toube of HP, encouraged by the misguided solidarity of certain socialists and greens has continued to lie about the facts of the case and about Jenna Delich and you and the Socialist Unity site have either deliberately or inadvertently helped him do so.

You really ought to revisit the post to set out the real facts of the case or do an update post explaining what really happened. You seem to be running with David Toube's version of events. Maybe you should try contacting Jenna Delich to ask her for her explanation or has David Toube succeeded in making her such a pariah that you couldn't possibly do that?

Jim, it's time for you to think the unthinkable, you got it wrong and not just in principle. You have not grasped the facts of the case. Start again. Revisit the case to see exactly what happened. So far you have run with David Toube's version of events and to call him an unreliable witness would be an insult to unreliable witnesses. You need to come to this cold all over again and see exactly what happened. Then you need to run a corrective post.

We all make mistakes Jim. I've had plaudits of my blog tell me that their favourite thing is that I always admit to and correct errors sometimes with the apology in the headline. Go on geez, try it, you'll feel better for it. I always do.

Levi9909 said...

woops for got to ask for email notifications. i'll do that now.


Jim Jay said...

Ok - there's quite a bit here - I'll try to keep this as tight as I can, but I hope you'll forgive me if I ramble a bit.

A few starting points:

I hope I made clear in the post that posting the original link was clearly a mistake that anyone could make rather than a signal of support for David Duke... rather it was the response to criticism that I had an issue with.

I have seen no evidence that Jenna is a racist and I am 100% happy to chat to her about the affair. If you'd like to forward her email address to me, or forward mine to her if she'd prefer please do (my email is under core links) I have no wish to demonise her and would find her version of events useful.

I do not believe her to be "a fascist sympathiser and antisemite" and I'm pretty sure my post does not claim that she is. If I do say this please highlight the sentance for me and I will edit it to clarify my meaning.

The Atzmon thing wasn't a coincidence I remember that you had problems with him - I don't remember if I left a supportive comment on your blog at the time but certainly my good wishes were with you. They still are.

I see the distinction you're making between honest differences and lies. I think we're talking at slight cross purposes here. I think that often facts are contested and are themselves part of an ideological framework - but this may not be the place to discuss ontology, so I'll stick to your terrain.

There are lies and lies. There are those who claim that opposing the state of Israel is itself anti-semitic or demonstrates anti-semitic tendancy. This is completely untrue. They aren't lying as such, they are wrong. And unpleasant.

As I understand what you're saying she complained about the specific allegation - that she was a fan of duke etc. (which there is clearly no evidence for and no reason to think) and that this was removed.

David T then used sock puppets (by which I believe you mean he used a different user name(s) to give the appearance of wide support for his position) to repost the allegations in the comments section. Because these comments were not deleted the site was taken down. I think this is what you're saying but please do correct this timeline if I have it wrong.

If this is the case David T was clearly dishonest and malicious. The HP club should deal this. Closing down the publication because of it? I'm still not convinced although I'm sure Jenna has had a thoroughly unpleasant time of it.

As I said in the post (new emphasis) "Tactically she's clearly made one of the stupidest decisions of her life because her name will now be associated forever with posting a link to one of the world's leading racists"

Which unfortunately is true. She made a mistake by pursuing a course of action that meant any damage that had been done up to that point snowballed out of control. I don't mean to sound hard but she is paying the price for that error - but she should certainly *not* lose her job over this!

Apologies if I've missed anything out here in my attempt to keep to the key points - obviously there's quite a lot in your last message, feel free to revisit areas that I've accidentally avoided.

Levi9909 said...

aw gawd, did you ramble? or was it counter-rambling?

i am not saying that your post is accusing Jenna Delich of anything more than what she did, ie link to the david duke site and have HP pulled.

my issue is what you are missing about what HP did, not what she did.

and it's not what david t did in the comments. you said in your post that she merely posted a link to a fascist site. but you say that that is all that HP posted. they did not. they posted a picture of her with a caption "links to fascist sites" which creates the impression she has links to fascist sites. so the post was dishonest and damagingly so.

your post claims that the HP post was factual. it was not. the headline too was not factual in that it described Jenna Delich as a David Duke fan and HP had to change it to get the site restored by their provider. what other remedy could a private individual have sought without the kind of following a populist blog has?

David t has pretended throughout this that nothing was changed in the post ("we are going nowhere" - of course that could be taken lots of ways, some of which i'd agree with!) since his post was so innocent.

my reference to "sock puppets" meant that new blogs have popped up around the net repeating the libel - "fan" "links to" - by simply copying verbatim the original, not the cleaned up post. i didn't mean that david t was commenting on his own posts under a false name. you're confusing him with david hirsh (sorry, gratuitous).

so, the story in a nutshell. jenna delich posted a link on the UCU elist to an article on David Duke's site not knowing who he was. someone pointed out that the site was a dodgy one and she apologised to the list for her mistake. the apology appears to have drawn one of david t's spies' attention to the first email and david t ran a post describing her as a "david duke fan" and posted a photo with the double entendre caption. she complained to the HP provider who pulled the blog, apparently pending the removal of what could well amount to an incitement to lose her her job or even get her beaten up. david t removed the offending stuff, pretended that he hadn't changed anything bar remove the photo, which he piously admitted to on the grounds that he wouldn't want anyone thinking that this pro-war enthusiast and israel apologist supported violence against anyone.

david t has lied throughout this saga first to undermine a critic of israel, second to silence all criticism of israel and third to make himself look like his victim's victim.

jenna delich has erred in that she showed poor taste and judgement in her choice of an article

I think I've only just noticed that you link to a blog set up specially to smear jenna delich. see its sub-title:
"To be a repository of posts concerning the Sheffield-based UCU member who posts links to articles on the website of neo-Nazi and former Ku Klux Klan member, David Duke."

She is not someone "who posts links to articles on the website of neo-Nazi and former Ku Klux Klan member, David Duke." She inadvertently posted one link to the site.

the site you encourage people to read as offering "more" on the case is a case of more libel. it certainly doesn't offer any clarification.

that kind of thing is what i mean by "sock puppet" whether it's david t who personally created it or not.

the "Jenna Delich archive" blog carries the original libellous post in full and the photo and caption (now it's in front of me) "Sheffield-based academic, Jenna Delich - links to far right websites associated with the Ku Klux Klan". In fact the photo and caption appear twice on the same page.

in the skin of a kernel of a nut - you said that HP ran a factual post - they did not, they (he) lied and lied and lied again. you fell for it, promoted and distributed it and are, it seems, still falling for it.

Could you at least update to the effect that David t changed the headline and removed the photo and caption? Then at least readers could see that Jenna Delich was not simply complaining about a statement of fact.


Jim Jay said...

Quick responses:

"i am not saying that your post is accusing Jenna Delich of anything more than what she did, ie link to the david duke site and have HP pulled." Cool

I think it's fair comment to say that my post only cites the true comment and does not mention anything else... it's also true that the wording of the link is a bit of a hostage to fortune because at the time it was a one post blog with info, but of course I've had no control over its future content, so I'll amend that.

Thanks for the clarification on sock puppets - it's a web term I hear about but I think it gets used to mean different things by different people.

I think a lot of what you say about David T indicates he is politically untrustworthy (which I believe is a reasonably widely held view, although I've no particular experience of him), but what it does not show is why HP as a whole had to be shut down.

They cleaned up the post but then he went elsewhere to spread untruths in other places. How does shutting down HP stop that? It doesn't - it only highlights their side of the issue all the more.

At no point am I attempting to defend the politics of HP. Nor do I think they behave in a "decent" way - I do still maintain that having HP closed down was stupid - and the facts bear this out 100%.

Silencing critics, even ones that lie, does not work and is completely the wrong approach.

Levi9909 said...

Jim, thank you so much for this. Sadly, flushed with his successes, yes there have been more like this, David Toube is now trying to have a 17 year old Muslim woman removed from the government's Young Muslim Advisory Group because she is a member of the Socialist Workers Party. According to David T, because the SWP has associated with islamist groups and it is therefore responsible for driving a wedge between Jewish and Muslim communities and with its lies it has frightened Muslims into believing that they are under attack from and in the west and they wouldn't ditch Atzmon when they should have so they have frightened Jews too. I kid you not.

In spite of HP's very clear similarity to the BNP on issues relating to Muslims and the uncritical support that both HP and the BNP give to Israel, David T claims that the SWP is just as racist as the BNP.

If you check out the relevant article scroll down to where "Zin" links to the BNP's article on the same thing. The BNP's article is actually more liberal than HP's and again, I kid you not.

Anyway, thanks very much for revisiting your post on Jenna Delich.