Greg Palast Roasts Galloway
The 16 September “grapple in the Big Apple” between George Galloway and born again neocon Christopher Hitchens was predictably frustrating, with both egos sustaining well-deserved bruises but naturally failing to make a positive case for their own position.
Who could refute Hitchens’ summary of Galloway’s career? “The man’s hunt for a tyrannical fatherland never ends. The Soviet Union let him down, Albania’s gone. Saddam’s been overthrown. But on to the next, in Damascus.” And, equally, who would dispute Galloway’s description of Hitchens — who let us remember not only supported the Iraq war, but attempted to whitewash the US President over Hurricane Katrina — as “a jester at the court of the Bourbon Bushes”?
Any socialist with two brain cells could have made mince-meat of them both. And while sections of the American left do seem to have fallen in behind Galloway, Greg Palast’s commentary on the debate has begun to do just that.
Palast is an Atlantic-hopping investigative journalist with a speciality in sniffing out corporate crime, and author of the meticulously researched anti-corporate polemic The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. A well known and highly active opponent of the US war in Iraq, he has stuck his neck out to condemn Galloway.
On his website, Palast emphasises the contrast between the New York debate and his own confrontation with Hitchens over Iraq in the summer of 2003 — and points out that what really riles Hitchens is not apologists like Galloway, but those who combine opposition to totalitarianism with a sharp critique of US foreign policy and the “war on terror”. Palast:
“I could not, like Hitchens, shill for Mr. Bush’s war of ‘liberation.’ I could see where it would end. When a snake devours a rat, it doesn’t liberate the captive mice. The mice are ‘saved’ — for lunch.
“But it is not good enough for the Left to oppose Mr. Bush’s re-colonization of Iraq. We needed to actively supported Iraqis fighting to remove their Mesopotamian Stalin. And now, we’d better come up with something a little less nutty than a recent suggestion by one otherwise thoughtful writer that we, ‘unconditionally support the insurgency’ of berserker killers and fundamentalist madmen. If that’s the Left’s program for Iraq, count me out
“We can’t define ourselves as the ‘anti-Bush’, blindly supporting those he opposes, and thereby letting the nitwit Napoleon in the White House pick our enemies for us. Nor can our revulsion for Bush’s horrors throw us into the arms of swamp-things like George Galloway.”
The US ruling class is delighted to debate Galloway, while it avoids debate with genuine anti-war left-wingers at all costs. By allying with the likes of Galloway, the left undermines itself and strengthens As Palast puts it: “We need to repudiate this guy — before the warmongers do, with glee.” He goes on: “Some well-meaning progressives have said that my exposing Galloway plays into the hands of the ‘other side’. Friends, this isn’t a World Cup match, with sides; it’s a World War, with too many dead bodies piling up… Galloway says ‘I have religious beliefs and try to live by them’… Well, Mr. Galloway, you may live by your beliefs — anti-choice, fatwas, Saddam’s ‘courage’— but too many are dying by them.”
For more visit www.gregpalast.com
Back on earth.
To publicise its September 24 demonstration, the Stop the War Coalition has produced a leaflet whose back side deals with a number of issues connected with the London bombings and the Iraq war — including defence of the “Muslim community” against racism. This important aim is unfortunately somewhat undermined by the sheer lunacy of what the SWPers (I assume) have written. “We reject the view that terrorism is rooted in Muslim fanatacism…terrorism is rooted in real problems here on earth.”
Since everything terrestrial is rooted in real problems here on earth, including the growth of the ultra-reactionary Islamist ideology which inspired the London bombers, it is difficult to see what Stop the War is getting at — unless, as I suspect, they want to whitewash political Islam without actually having to come out and say it. No one is arguing that the London explosions were lightning bursts from the hand of Allah, or that the only way to stop terrorism is to prevent people from praying…
Meanwhile, the York AWL comrades tell me that Chris Bambery, speaking at their town’s September “Marxist Forum”, argued that the gathering in Trafalgar Square to celebrate England’s Ashes victory was comparable to the Nuremberg Rally.
Weekly Worker front page this week, on the US after Hurricane Katrina: “Military dictatorship in the offing”.
Sharia in Canada
On 12 September, Ryan McGuinty, premier of Canada’s Ontario province, quashed speculation that his administration would allow the development of Sharia courts to deal with civil issues such as child custody and marriage and promised to legislate “as soon as possible” to ban all religious arbitration (it already exists as an option for Christians and Jews). McGuinty told the Canadian Press news agency: “There will be no Sharia law in Ontario. There will be no religious arbitration in Ontario. There will be one law for all Ontarians.”
This was a major victory for the socialists and women’s rights activists who had campaigned against the introduction of sharia law. Amongst others, the campaign involved the New Democratic Party, a mildly social democratic party which previously ran Ontario’s provincial government.
For the crime of opposing medievalist theocracy and standing up for women’s rights and equality before the law, the NDP was condemned by — guess who? Yes, that’s right, George Galloway, who used a meeting at the University of Toronto on September 17 to lambast the anti-sharia campaign and argue passionately in favour of the right of religious bigots to rule over “their” communities like petty dictators.