In all honesty, I feel for the journalists working at establishment papers who have to churn out desperate and utterly dubious rubbish to protect the state’s totalitarian tendencies. Bills need to be paid, afterall. The Telegraph, with its history of neoconservatism is one such paper. With the likes of Dean Godson, and Charles Moore, the Telegraph was, according to its former editor Martin Newland, effectively a mouthpiece for US and Zionist interests. Today, the standard of journalism – or churnalism – is Andrew Gilligan-level: dubious state-propagandist tripe of the neoconservative variety. And it seems with the stalled and now exhumed and resuscitated Telegraph piece attempting to a) delegitimise PREVENT opposition and advocacy group CAGE, and b) intimidate Muslim charities to not work with them, the neoconservative tradition of spin, deception and outright lies continues.
Clutching at Straws
Despite the five month gestation period, providing a comment seems like a pointless task given how ridiculously poor the article is. However, it does provide an opportunity to further expose the extent of the dangerous penetration of the neoconservative narrative from parts of government through to the press.
The article, titled, “Muslim charity event ‘boosted Cage’ and fundraised for the organisation” is riddled with ridiculous statements:
- The piece highlights that an event featuring CAGE speakers, alongside an Islamic scholar and activist, was “held after the Charity Commission ordered two charities to stop bankrolling the group amid concerns over its links with extremists.” It conveniently omits the fact that a judicial review into this decision found that the Commission, headed by neoconservative Guantanamo Bay-supporter William Shawcross, had overstepped its remit, to the relief of the third sector.
- It repeats the nonsensical lie that “organisers were ordered to “lock the doors” before appealing for cash donations.” My sources who happened to be present at this particular event state that it was clearly in jest and this was evidenced from the fact that parts of the crowd chuckled.
- It attempts to couch the broad, fundamental religious doctrine of Jihad (which within the Islamic paradigm permeates Muslim life i.e. struggling against the self, against in justice etc.) as “extremism”.
- It highlights without reason, Moazzam Begg’s statement that “terrorism is extremely broad” and “terrorism is so broad, nobody can define it”. Renowned journalist Glen Greenwald has said practically the same thing, that there “really is no coherent, stable definition”. I wonder if the Telegraph has any plans to do a piece on him.
Pressure on Universities
Previously, I exposed how the Daily Mail was seemingly utilising the strategy devised by the Henry Jackson Society to effectively suppress dissent. In short, the Daily Mail assertions and queries which were clearly premised on shaping opposition to PREVENT as “extremism”, were directed to CAGE in preparation for an impending assault (see below). It seems like the assertions and queries based on this specious, censorious strategy is being shared across the right-wing press with yet another report by the Torygraph being published, with universities firmly bearing the brunt of political pressure.
The report clearly indicates to the advancement of the work done by the dystopian-turned-real “Ministry of Truth”, otherwise known as the Extremism Analysis Unit. The McCarthyite and opaque unit within the government, which seems to use material taken from neoconservative think-tanks, has previously attacked Kings College London and SOAS through the “extremism” rhetoric. With this latest round of attempted attacks on universities, neoconservative opinions and narratives retrieved most likely from the “Henry Jackson Society/Student Rights think-tanks” are permeating the press uncritically and forming their assumptions upon which propaganda is being published.
The report, however, backfires miserably, as the contentions raised therein have already been intercepted and exposed by CAGE for lacking in substance. To compound this, the responses from the universities which are reiterated in the paper expose the report as being wholly baseless. By publishing resilient responses from respected academic institutions rebutting the notion that there was any “extremism” at university events, and reiterating statements which criticise PREVENT, the article does a brilliant job of propagating legitimate concerns around the political expediency and exploitation through PREVENT rhetoric.
Daily Mail’s Assaut
As I write this piece, the Daily Mail has now launched its military-esque propaganda campaign to discredit CAGE, the organisation which has rapidly become the symbol of legitimate political resistance against discriminatory, totalitarian measures born from the War on Terror. The points, issues, and citations raised and referenced are a combination of last year’s smears and statements from neoconservatives like Alexander Carlile, along with points already addressed above (and exposed by CAGE). In reality, it only serves to vindicate the organisation and its work to ensure rule of law and accountability, and contributes to the continued discrediting of the PREVENT policy. The unceasing and desperate effort to intimidate academics, organisations and Muslims into not working with CAGE failed last year. In fact, CAGE’s work has grown, its associations strengthened, and its credibility increased. The people recognise the attempts to suppress PREVENT-dissent through the superficial, blustering headlines.
The Press, Henry Jackson Society, and the Subversion of Democracy
Using the press to bully-in a political policy is a coercive subversion of democracy. In a Stanford University working paper named “How to Subvert Democracy: Montesinos in Peru” and authored by a leading economist, the most important of all checks and balances are deduced:
“Which of the democratic checks and balances—opposition parties, the judiciary, a free press—is the most critical? Peru has the full set of democratic institutions. In the 1990s, the secret-police chief Montesinos systematically undermined them all with bribes. We quantify the checks using the bribe prices. Montesinos paid television-channel owners about 100 times what he paid judges and politicians. One single television channel’s bribe was five times larger than the total of the opposition politicians’ bribes. By revealed preference, the strongest check on the government’s power was the news media.”
The neoconservative elements of the government most certainly know the power of the press. The Extremism Analysis Unit, Office of Security and Counter Terrorism propaganda unit known as the Research, Information and Communications Unit, (RICU), and the above exposition show that one of Britain’s most important checks and balances – the press – has been subverted.
This should come as no surprise. In the Henry Jackson Society’s screed on suppressing PREVENT dissent, it is proposed that the Office of Security and Counter Terrorism takes an uncompromising opposition to “extremist criticism of PREVENT” and other counter-extremism policies (p.71). RICU is known to target media organisations for its propaganda dissemination. What we are most likely witnessing is the hand neoconservatism once more.
The desperate attempts of the right-wing press would be hilarious were it not for the grim reality it reveals.
The first is that such reports are an unabashed attempt at pressuring activists, Islamic scholars, organisations and academic institutions into toeing the government line. It is nothing short of government-backed bullying.
Secondly, there are increasingly strong indications that the press is operating as a propaganda mechanism for the dangerous ideology of neoconservativism in government – a sure sign of creeping fascism.
Finally, legitimate political resistance is being undemocratically spun as a threat to the state, through deception, lies and an incorrigible desire to refract religious beliefs and practices through the filter of security – a further sign of a fascist state.
Yesterday it was Muslims. Today it is Muslims, journalists, National Union of Students and parts of Labour. Tomorrow, it will be anyone who dares to meaningfully dissent against any policy of the neoconservative government.