Socialist Worker

For the dogs of war, a muzzle would be welcome

by Anindya Bhattacharyya
Issue No. 1905

A SERIES of hysterical articles attacking Respect appeared in the liberal press last week. These come from journalists who pose as left wing humanitarians. Yet they strongly support Bush's war on terror and hate the anti-war movement.

As Bush's Iraq project sinks into the quagmire, the dogs of war are turning their venom on Respect. In last week's New Statesman Nick Cohen started off with the bizarre allegation that the BBC censors criticism of the anti-war movement. He proceeded to denounce Respect as being sexist and homophobic. If Respect is so sexist, why does it have more women candidates than any of the mainstream parties?

And if Respect is homophobic, why was it the only political organisation to turn out in numbers at Birmingham's Gay Pride and leaflet the event? Cohen is obsessed with 'religious fundamentalists' and insinuates that Muslims are bigots who hate women and gays.

His bile doesn't stop there-he denounces everyone who marched against the war as 'gormless'. Last year he was happy to stand shoulder to shoulder with the biggest fundamentalist bigot of them all-the gormless George Bush. Then came Johann Hari in the Independent.

'I supported the war, so it's no surprise that I'm not voting for Respect,' he said, before proceeding to lecture anti-war readers on how they should vote. 'A vote for Respect is a vote for totalitarians in an unconvincing left wing costume,' he declared, before giving lukewarm support to the Liberal Democrats, who 'took a clear anti-war line'.

The only unconvincing left wing costume is Hari's. In the run-up to the conflict he urged people to stay away from anti-war demonstrations and insisted that war would bring democracy to Iraq.

He was forced to recant last month. 'I misjudged-badly, terribly, offensively-the Bush administration,' he wrote. 'I implied that the Americans were doing this for humanitarian reasons. That was wrong.'

Then on Saturday David Aaronovitch, the Guardian's resident red-baiting heavyweight, wrote about a Respect meeting in Waltham Forest in north London. Rather than engage with any arguments, he settled for sniping against the people at the meeting.

Perhaps Aaronovitch is affected by the conspicuous failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He wrote last April, 'If nothing is eventually found, I will never believe another thing I am told by our government or that of the US, ever again. 'And more to the point, neither will anyone else. Those weapons had better be there somewhere.' You wait for that, David. The anti-war movement will get on with opposing the warmongers.

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Thu 10 Jun 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1905
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