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Tag: The Spectator

Saudi Barbaria

Sunday, 14 October, 2018

“The fate of Khashoggi has at least provoked global outrage, but it’s for all the wrong reasons. We are told he was a liberal, Saudi progressive voice fighting for freedom and democracy, and a martyr who paid the ultimate price for telling the truth to power. This is not just wrong, but distracts us from understanding what the incident tells us about the internal power dynamics of a kingdom going through an unprecedented period of upheaval.”

So writes John R. Bradley in The Spectator. His article is titled What the media aren’t telling you about Jamal Khashoggi. Among the things we don’t hear in the reportage about the disappearance in Istanbul of the Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi is his view of democracy. “In truth, Khashoggi never had much time for western-style pluralistic democracy,” writes Bradley. “In the 1970s he joined the Muslim Brotherhood, which exists to rid the Islamic world of western influence. He was a political Islamist until the end, recently praising the Muslim Brotherhood in the Washington Post. He championed the ‘moderate’ Islamist opposition in Syria, whose crimes against humanity are a matter of record.”

Bradley portrays the struggle for the soul of Saudi Arabia is one between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Wahhabi movement. Both hate each other and they’re united only in their hatred of the West:

“The Wahhabis loathe democracy as a western invention. Instead, they choose to live life as it supposedly existed during the time of the Muslim prophet. In the final analysis, though, they are different means to achieving the same goal: Islamist theocracy. This matters because, although bin Salman has rejected Wahhabism — to the delight of the West —he continues to view the Muslim Brotherhood as the main threat most likely to derail his vision for a new Saudi Arabia. Most of the Islamic clerics in Saudi Arabia who have been imprisoned over the past two years —Khashoggi’s friends — have historic ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Khashoggi had therefore emerged as a de facto leader of the Saudi branch.”

And, says Bradley, there’s another issue: “Khashoggi had dirt on Saudi links to al Qaeda before the 9/11 attacks.”

Bringing Saudi Arabia into the 21st Century — or even the 19th — was never going to be easy, but the feeling in the West up to now has been that if Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman could pull it off, the results would be worth it. The brutal reality is that it’s always one step forward, two steps back in the barbaric monarchical autocracy.


A Guardian editorial column is read by how many?

Thursday, 18 January, 2018 0 Comments

Rod Liddle has the answer: “A Guardian editorial column is read by about 100,000 people, 0.1 per cent of the population. It does not matter. And nor does double that number signing a petition. It is time the right wised up to this and acquired from somewhere the semblance of a spine.”

That’s from “Your Twitter history will always haunt you — if you’re on the right” in The Spectator, and Liddle is fired up:

“Just hypothetically speaking, I think it is entirely possible that one could be appointed to a senior position within a left-wing party despite having demanded honours for IRA murderers, supported genocidal terrorist organisations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and proclaimed an affection for a totalitarian communist dictatorship in, say, Cuba which imprisons trade union leaders and persecutes homosexuals That’s just hypothetically speaking, mind; I can’t know for sure.”

The Guardian offers its platform now to those who have glorified Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA, along with apologists for Cuba, Venezuela and every other awfulness that the Left endorses. And things can only get worse now that the newspaper has downsized to what it once despised: the tabloid format.

It was a very different Guardian, however, that crowed with confidence in 2005 when it switched from broadsheet to the “Berliner” format. Then editor Alan Rusbridger praised it as “a modern print format for a new generation of readers” combining “the portability of a tabloid with the sensibility of a broadsheet.” To pursue this vision, the Guardian Media Group invested (wasted) £80 million on specially commissioned Berliner printing presses. Today, The Guardian and its Sunday title, The Observer, have gone tabloid and, what’s more, the group has gone from printing papers on its own presses to outsourcing the job to Trinity Mirror.

The Guardian made a loss of £45 million in the year to last April and this unsustainable “burn rate” cannot continue. The endgame is obvious. The paper will follow the ghastly London Independent out of the print business and into the online shark tank where clickbait is the only currency that counts. There, it will compete with everything from The Huffington Post to The New York Times for eyeballs with faux outrage and lots of “Wow!” From an ignominious present to an ignoble future is the path of The Guardian.


James Joyce and Italo Svevo, Trieste and Zurich

Thursday, 11 August, 2016 0 Comments

In The Spectator, Philip Hensher offers a poignant review of Stanley Price’s James Joyce and Italo Svevo: The Story of a Friendship. Trieste played a key role in this happy episode of literary history and, recalling his time in the Italian seaport, Joyce said, “I met more kindness in Trieste than I ever met anywhere else.”

Joyce and his family had to leave Trieste shortly after the outbreak of World War I and they settled in Zurich, where most of Ulysses was written. The story goes that he went for a walk one evening by the shore of Lake Zurich and bumped into the English painter and Ministry of Information employee, Frank Budgen. After exchanging pleasantries, Budgen inquired as to how the novel was progressing and Joyce said that he had managed to produce two sentences during the day.

“You have been seeking the right words?” asked Budgen.
“No,” replied Joyce, “I have the right words already. What I am seeking is the perfect order of words in the sentences I have.”

When the anti-hero of Ulysses, Stephen Dedalus, is walking along Sandymount Strand, he observes a dog belonging to a pair of cockle pickers discovering the body of another dog washed up by the sea. Here’s how Joyce used his vocabulary and syntax to convey the animal’s reactions:

“Unheeded he kept by them as they came towards the drier sand, a rag of wolfstongue redpanting from his jaws. His speckled body ambled ahead of them and then loped off at a calf’s gallop. The carcass lay on his path. He stopped, sniffed, stalked round it, brother, nosing closer, went round it, sniffing rapidly like a dog all over the dead dog’s bedraggled fell. Dogskull, dogsniff, eyes on the ground, moves to one great goal. Ah, poor dogsbody. Here lies dogsbody’s body.”

The perfect order of words.


The debate on robots and AI illustrated

Monday, 18 January, 2016 0 Comments

There is little, journalistically or ideologically, that unites Britain’s Spectator and Germany’s Zeit, apart from the fact that both are weeklies. And yet, when it comes to their coverage of the digital economy one does detect a certain visual agreement.

The Spectator

Die Zeit