Sunday, March 22, 2009

Weekending: Cycling, speed limits and the tabloids

If it's the end of the week then we should get down to some weekending;

  • Graham Linehan writes on the bottom dwelling tendencies of the tabloids. The campaign has finally led to an apology. I don't know if that's enough.
  • Is there a difference between activism and organising?
  • There was an interesting piece in the Guardian Weekly by a Venezuelan woman who's benefitted from the social programmes.
  • Hey - calling all cyclists... do you need help planning routes, etc.? Try the new site cycle streets.
  • I thought the interview with Ken Livingstone in Total Politics was quite interesting.
  • There's been hoo ha about the play Seven Jewish Children. You can read it for yourself and make up your own mind here.
Green news that caught my eye;
  • It's Green Party conference this weekend. I've done some roundups here.
  • Cambridge altuist Tim Eiloart has died. Adrian writes of his passing.
  • Jenny Jones spoke at the national launch of the smash the Iran sanctions at the House of Commons. You can listen to her, Yassimine Mather and John McDonnell here.
  • Local boy Tony Juniper in the Ecologist.
  • In the US the Greens have a 26 year old Mayor (of a small village) whose first act is to look into dissolving his own office.
  • In Iceland news this weekend sees the Green Left's conference. The party hopes to retain it's place with the leftist coalition government after April's elections.
  • We have one councillor in Islington but Katie Dawson has still been able to get things done.
  • The New Zealand Greens have been challenging the state's right to spy on who they like.
  • Jean Lambert helps push through legislation through the European Parliament on LGTB discrimination. In Pink News. Also quoted on jobs.
Finally, great footage from the premier of The Age of Stupid, where film makers collar Ed Miliband, the Environment Minister (who the Guardian are taking to task for conflicts of interest). The film seems to be going down very well;


ModernityBlog said...

Yes, Jim, there was a "hoo ha" about the racism in the play Seven Jewish Children and understandably so

you and readers might wish to inform yourselves of the subject via:

"Radio 4 and Seven Jewish Children - David Hirsh"

Green Gordon said...

I'm left confused about the play, and the motivations of the people performing it at Green Party conference.

It made me feel very uneasy, in that although it made token gestures to some sort of balance, the positions held were basically caricatures presented as if they showed some kinf of concensus.

I'd have to be an idiot to think there were not some racist jews (as well as racist muslims), so was this play trying to inform me that some jews are racist (or blinded by jingoism?) or that all jews are racist and complicit in attacks in Gaza?

Despite a barrage of press and people around me rallying for Palestine (which I largely agree with) I can't help but feeling I'm being disingenously presented with propoganda which asserts that pro-palestine voices are not being heard.

It makes me think pro-Palestinian campaigners are incapable of engaging in rational discussion and action but must resort to an antagonistic framing of us/them good/evil etc. Which of course antisemitism plays well into.

Jim Jay said...

Well, I think activists on all sides are prone to polarise issues and characture elements of the discussion so it doesn't need to be about anti-semitism - I mean look at Bush... people would say anything about him, put devil's horns on him, swastikas, etc - but that's nothing to do with anti-semitism - that's people hating the guy.

I think most people have heard there's controversy around the play but without the chance to see it themselves it's hard to make an informed decision which is why I posted the script up, and why it's interesting to hear your thoughts on it Gordon as I've not seen it.

Personally I'm usually not a fan of anything that feels like agitprop so it's not the sort of play I'd be into, but others have different tastes and it's useful to experience things first hand.

ModernityBlog said...

Jim you wrote:

"all sides are prone to polarise issues and characture elements of the discussion so it doesn't need to be about anti-semitism"

Then again if political activists on the Left or the Greens were going to consciously invoke stereotypes shouldn't that send out a warning, shouldn't people on the Left/Green be a bit more sensitive to the racist imagery?

Would you imagine that it would be acceptable to have a play on seven Gypsy children (in Italian, of course, as readers will remember the criminalisation that is going on in Italy concerning the Roma)?

Further would it be acceptable, to drag up nasty racial stereotypes of the Roma in such an imaginary play? about criminality, about being dirty, about being asocial? etc

No, of course not. Any conscious or thoughtful activist would understand why.

Still less would we excuse away a play on seven Irish children, which went into stereotypes of the Irish being drunkard's, lazy, feckless and working on building sites, etc.

I hope you follow that point?

So when you have a play which is explicitly racist in its title (remember it's not seven Israeli kids, it's not seven British kids, it's seven Jewish children)

And when you make out that the Jews are expressly bloodthirsty in that play, etc then you invoke age old racial myths.

I would have thought all that was obvious?

This play has been discussed at length and the various issues drawn out, I would recommend Howard Jacobson's dissection of this racist piece of theatre.

But if you wish to see a version of the play, here are the links:

And if, for some inextricable reason, you find yourself agreeing with the essentalising of Jews that occurs in the Play, then maybe it is time to stop, take a brisk walk and re-think about the whole issue of anti-racism.

After that get a copy of World at War and sit through it, then you'll understand why such an attitude is wrong.