web analytics

Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

Deception or stupidity?

I’ve studiously avoided getting involved in recent blog flame-wars. So this post is a bit of an aberration. Sorry…

Unsurprisingly, I’m not much of a fan of anti-EU right-wing blog EU Referendum.

Aside from their constant assumptions of “liberal media bias” (which led to them accusing the Associated Press – if I recall – of faking the Israeli bombing of Lebanon last year… Yes, really…), and the fact that they increasingly seem to be drifting towards conspiracy theory explanations for every slightest cock-up – largely playing up to the maniacs that flock in their droves to their comment sections – it’s also rather depressing, as the blog’s main man, erstwhile UKIP researcher Richard North, is actually relatively intelligent, and used to be able to come up with well-considered and insanely well-researched arguments to back up his anti-EU case.

These days, the blog seems more like a random collection of unjustified ravings, occasionally interspersed with picture after picture after picture after picture after picture after picture after picture after picture after picture of military hardware (those links all just from the current front page of the blog, going back just to Monday), which North then verbally masturbates over like a cross between a caged monkey and the most deranged characature of a right-wing militaristic maniac since Dr Strangelove’s General Ripper.

Rare now is the careful dissection of Brussels policy. Rare, indeed, is any mention of Brussels or the EU beyond wild accusations and lazy references to sovereignty, bureaucrats, and socialist conspiracies. Which is a shame, as North used to be one of the better anti-EU online commentators – before his soldier-boy fetish kicked off and his “scoop” about Lebanon actually being completely fine and the whole war last year simply an anti-semitic plot between Hezbollah and the liberal media to make Israel look bad attracted attention from the nuttier, Little Green Footballs-style US right-wing blogs, boosting his visitor count beyond his wildest dreams.

Now, however, even my previous respect for North’s ability to dissect complex EU legislation has been called into question, as the boy DK highlights numerous and hard to deny cases of plagiarism by North. I’d vaguely suspected as much before, but had put it down to an inconsistent writing style. Now, however, it would appear I can safely bother not reading the thing any more – even on the increasingly rare occasions when something about the EU does crop up there, I’ll likely already have read it in the Times.

Update: Of course, this could all be part of a co-ordinated anti-UKIP movement from anti-EU types who don’t have much time for the party. North would certainly be amongst that group, following his falling our with the party a few years back. Quite what good they thing splitting the anti-EU movement even further will do them I have no idea, but still…

13 Comments

  1. I belive you will find that you are incorrect to state that Eureferendum was guilty of (faking the Israeli bombing of Lebanon last year) I think the point of the posts concerning the episode were about the faking of photographs by a Lebanese propaganda unit. At no time did Dr North infer that the Bombing was not done by the Israelis.

  2. Check out his conclusion again. Particularly the use of inverted commas around words like "murdering" and "dead babies". It would tend to imply that, in fact, no children were killed – because the implication is very strongly that by "proving" that a couple of incidents were "faked", all the other deaths caused by the Israeli bombing campaign must also be called into question. Especially considering lines like "The majority seems to have been either posed or staged, or both".

    And that's not even to start on the pretty self-evident reasons why North's assertions about those photos were based on little more than paranoid assertion (something he effectively admitted himself), and are completely unjustifiable if you use a little thing called rational thought combined with genuine knowledge and fact. (Though, of course, that last link can be dismissed because it's to the Guardian, and therefore can't have anything of merit to it.)

    But still, that's beside the point. As one of his fellow anti-EU bloggers surely you must have noticed the serious decline in his EU coverage and massive rise in his military fetishism these days? Doesn't that disappoint you at all?

  3. Sorry it was not a Lebanese propaganda unit but Hezbolla.

    As comments are allowed on Eureferendum if you feel that Dr North incorrectly assessed the photographs or incorrectly described the photographic evidence you are of course at total liberty to point out his misconceptions. However what you posted was an incorrect and totally misleading smear, Dr North was not guilty (of faking the Israeli bombing of Lebanon last year… Yes, really…)

    I would suggest that your interpretation of the reason behind Dr North`s 75 page report is far of the mark Dr North did not set out to minimise or make excuses for the bombing his concern was clearly confined to the reaction of the media.

    (in a context where Hezbolla have been known to exploit and even magnify incidents for propaganda purposes, the media were – just a few hours after the event – presenting their accounts as definitive statements of fact.

    In being the custodian of the record, the media – especially in democratic countries which profess to have freedom of speech – have a special responsibility to report accurately, to which effect they rely on the professionalism and integrity of the journalists in the field who provide the words and images. In this instance – by comparison with the reporting of other incidents in less fevered atmospheres – the dogmatism and unwarranted certainty was jarring.)

    Yes I have noticed a decline in general EU coverage and a drift towards coverage of military matters, I belive the underlying reason for this is that the British government are spending so much money on futuristic military hardware intended for uses with the EU rapid reaction force, that they do not have enough left to support our troops in the low level actions in which they are presently engaged, so it is still relevant to the EU.

  4. Off topic, but can you please get rid of the useless and irritating Snap preview. It really serves no purpose whatsoever, rather it gets in the way of actually clicking on the links. Another example of 'because we can' technology.

    BTW the links in your comment don't work as they have 'rhef' instead of 'href' in them. Still, it stops the Snap preview.

  5. I quite like the Snap thing, myself – though I can understand why the backlash is beginning to grow – it's spread like wildfire… You can turn it off by clicking the options bit in the top right of the pop-up window, I believe – and it's possible that <a href="http://spa.snap.com/options.php?source =www.jcm.org.uk&key=faa7c288849bf3687708bc44668a92e1&sb=0&th=silver#” target=”_blank”>this link might do the same.

    Ta for the heads-up on the comment links, though – I'll see if I can work out what's gone wrong.

    By the by, Ken, I won't go into how you've misunderstood me on the Lebanon thing (which is lots), because I'm really not in the slightest bit interested

    However, if I had something suitable to hand I would gladly present you with an award for your outstanding attempt to justify the current EU Referendum war machine fetishisation in your final paragraph. It's got some kind of insane genius to it, and I can respond with nothing other than applause.

  6. Don’t get me wrong, for me at present the site is now less interesting than previously, I did not intend to try to justify it, merely pointed out that it has some linkage to the EU.

    Sorry if I misunderstood you about the Lebanon .

  7. I really loved the site, it's so well-fashioned, usin' excellent comments and ideas, like Europhobia… Europhobia is an issue i'll try to develop since the theoretical purposes I hace being political journalist.

    My best wishes from Chile,

    Don't forget checkin' mine at http://boggito.blogspot.com

    Fernando.

  8. Nm,

    I'm with Ken here.

    You said:

    "(which led to them accusing the Associated Press – if I recall – of faking the Israeli bombing of Lebanon last year… Yes, really…)"

    No. Not really. At all.

    The MSM coverage of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict last year was abysmal. Remember the ambulance? North's error was to focus on Qana when his cause would have been better served by nailing this incident. I have not yet seen a retraction from any media outlet of any of the instant and vociferous denunciations of the IDF.

  9. Cleanthes – as I say, I'm really not remotely interested in the Lebanon thing, so this will be my final word on the thing (unless someone's stupid enough to crop up here and accuse me of being anti-Israel or anti-semitic, in which case I'll pop back to call them a twat) and feel free to accept it or not as you like. It was, however, fairly clear to me that North's implication was "ha – we reckon this particular explosion in Lebanon is suspect, therefore we should suspect all claims about ALL explosions".

    The entire affair was, indeed, on the surface a substandard conspiracy theory designed to make the bogeyman of the "liberal media" look anti-Israel / anti-semitic (not the same, obviously, but so often made out to be). But it was also to make Israel look better at a time when the country was bombing the crap out of people in what many felt was a disproportionate response to Hezbollah's rocket attacks (even while supporting Israel's right to self-defence).

    His intention was to suggest that at least some of the damage caused by Israeli bombs was in fact caused by or faked by Hezbollah, based on little more than a gut feeling (as he admitted) that was seemingly caused by his typically uncritical neocon support for Israel. This is, in fact, how it was taken by some of the more nutty right-wing American blogs and media – and North's not stupid enough not to have realised that this would have been the reaction from certain influential quarters of his target audience.

    And in any case, let's face it, even if you accept that the incidents he identified were faked (and the evidence/conjecture is hardly even close to conclusive), what about all the many, many other bombs and deaths that weren't?

  10. I'm not holding any kind of torch for Richard North, but many of the comments you make of his blog seem to miss the point spectacularly.

    He used to focus on EU matters. Now, the focus has shifted to the intersection between military tactics, the defence staff, politics and the media. (I wonder why? Perhaps because we're fighting two rather major wars?)

    As a corollary, his coverage of the EU has lessened, and become more superficial; a rather similar process to what's happened to your coverage of UK matters, in fact. Not having the time or inclination to properly cover two such large subjects, both very poorly understood by the public and the media and so requiring lots of research and exposition is neither surprising nor blameworthy, on his part or yours.

    The size of your error is particularly obvious from the mere abuse you throw at him: apparently "North then verbally masturbates over [pictures of hardware] like a cross between a caged monkey and the most deranged characature of a right-wing militaristic maniac since Dr Strangelove’s General Ripper."

    Well, it's just my reading of it, and perhaps you find any image of weapons to be utterly beyond the pale, but the links you give go to posts making reasonable points. A picture of ultra-modern equipment to point out the fallacy of comparing the current situation in Afghanistan to 19th century British fuck ups; a picture of an assault helicopter as a visual pun showing Tory criticisms are off target; an cannon with extremely interesting historical associations; and so on. You may disagree. Certainly the Turkey gag about the cannon was cheap. But to call it verbal masturbation is, in fact, wank of the highest order.

    The plagiarism charges seem pretty dodgy, and I found all the rubbish about Lebannon and the media rather stupid, for the reasons you gave.

    On the other hand, I don't really care about plagiarism in covering one issue of no real interest, in a blog giving interesting information on little-understood topics, any more than I care about one instance of media manipulation in an obviously horrific war.

  11. Yes I have noticed that your interest level seems to develop a fugitive tendency at certain times. Luckily none of your readers need rely solely on you attention span on this occasion, as all they really need to do is to visit Eureferendum and read the introduction to the report, they will find it on the top left margin, and reading it will put the suggestion you have made about Dr North’s intention in preparing his report on the Hezbollah propaganda unit and the Western media, in its correct perspective.

  12. His intention was to suggest that at least some of the damage caused by Israeli bombs was in fact caused by or faked by Hezbollah

    True but his main concern is surely to justify his claim of the partiality of the media coverage. Hezbollah indisputably won the propaganda war. The fact that the defining issue of the war was "proportionality" is proof of that.

    There has been little debate about whether Hezbollah did fire rockets from close to population centres or whether (that being true) they should bear responsibility. I have seen no in-depth analysis of the ratio of combatant to non-combatant deaths.

    And this is not the first time that the media has determined Israeli guilt based upon Arab propaganda. Even the supposed shrill for Israel, the Daily Telegraph bought into the Jenin massacre.

    Having said all that I concur with your view about the war toys.

  13. TDK – there were definitely rockets fired at Israeli population centres, and Hezbollah were 99% certaily responsible. At the time I was getting (semi-)regular email updates from an Israeli friend in Nahariah who had the things landing in her back garden, and saw her home town become increasingly deserted as people fled. Casualty rates were relatively low – but that's probably because the rockets were fairly low-tech.

    Ken – nothing to do with being scared to debate. Just due to having no interest in Middle Eastern affairs, and no desire to get into the heated debates on Middle Eastern issues that always ensue, where neither side can see or accept the point the other is making, and there's no room for the middle ground that I generally tend to inhabit.

    Case in point: the reference to Lebanon was less than a sentence in a longer piece with an entirely different focus – yet has become the focus of 99% of the comments. This, as far as I'm concerned, is both depressing and tediously predictable. I should have known better than to mention anywhere south of Turkey – nothing good ever comes of it in terms of reasoned debate or enlightenment. (And if you can prove me wrong by pointing to just one online debate on Middle Eastern affairs that hasn't descended into a slanging match full of straw-men and/or misunderstandings/misrepresentations of opposing views within a few comments, then I'd be fascinated to see it…)