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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

More on Mayor Ken

I'm not a betting man, but I wish I'd had money riding on the Grauniad's reaction to Ken Livingstone's suspension. So, so predictable: the great edifice of political correctness vanishes in a puff of smoke, and instantly the paper is gung-ho for the sacred right of an elected office-holder to indulge in a spot of racial abuse when he feels the urge.

Of course there's a case for seeing the Adjudication Panel for England as a typical product of New Labour control freakery. But hands up anyone who thinks the Graun would have taken up the cudgels on behalf of Councillor Miles of Wellingborough's democratic right to use the "n" word.

It's humbug but what kind of humbug, exactly? Is it about special pleading on behalf of Ken, or special pleading on behalf of anti-Semitism? As Shalom Lappin makes clear in his posting on normblog, it really comes to the same thing. We've heard ad nauseam that it is inconceivable that Ken should do or say anything anti-Semitic, since he is anti-racist to the very core of his being. I believe this is an instance of something known as essentialism, upon which the best authorities frown. It's becoming increasingly clear that anti-racism doesn't quite protect Jews in the unconditional way it protects other groups. Ken is indeed a doughty fighter against anti-Semitism - so long as the anti-Semites are the right kind of anti-Semites and the Jews are the right kind of Jews. And in this the Grauniad is clearly right behind him.

The right kind of anti-Semites are the ones who wear jackboots and swastika armbands, and not the ones who sport keffiyahs or long beards. And the right kind of Jews? Not Oliver Feingold, whose entitlement to elementary human decency is forfeit because of his employers' shameful fascist sympathies seventy years ago (support for contemporary tyrants somehow doesn't have the same impact on Ken). Not the Board of Deputies, who are not entitled to receive a simple apology. Not any Jew living in Israel, since, as Ken's honoured guest Sheikh al-Qaradawi has made abundantly clear, they are justly under sentence of death for being in the wrong place - a sentence passed by a jurisdiction which does not recognize a minimum age of legal responsibility.

But if you've proved yourself to be a Good Jew who acknowledges that Israel is the most evil state in the world, and you get any aggro from the BNP, no doubt Ken is your man.

And, as all the Grauniad pieces remind us, all this a distraction from the real issues in London. His congestion charge has been an outstanding success. If only he is allowed to get on with his job he will make the trains run on time and make a triumphant success of the Olympic Games!

Talking of which, if Mayor Wowereit of Berlin had compared a Jew to a concentration camp guard, he could have started clearing his desk on the day the story hit the newsstands. They take anti-Semitism seriously here. It's a pity they don't in London.

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