As the West continue to engage in wars to protect democracy and free speech, it is becoming more and more apparent that our free speech is dwindling. ‘Cancel culture’ is destroying our ability to have an opinion, while extreme censorship on Facebook is fuelling and not preventing conspiracy theories.
History has taught us not to accept everything on face value. Between 1977 and 1991 the Tobacco Industry spent nearly $10 million on studies to disprove any links between ill-health and tobacco. At the same time, Exon (ESSO), knew of CO2 causing climate change but instead spent millions on creating doubt. Both industries using scientists to deliberately cause miss-information to protect their money.
Then we have the Iraq war and the weapons of mass destruction that never existed. So, it is a little wonder why people are not blindly believing everything they see and hear. What is becoming different now, is how society is being forced into a little box. A box of what they can say, what they can think and anyone outside of this box is to be belittled and cast away.
Stay in the box!
This is a real issue, and one made greater for the possibility that those creating the box can often have ulterior motives. Do you have an unbreakable trust in the West? Are you certain that we are always the ‘good guys?’ Do you have complete faith in our leaders? Do our media have your best interest at heart?
For many, the answer to those questions is not certain. Our previous Prime Minister (and I’d forgotten Liz Truss then) is a proven liar. You must understand how difficult it is, to call someone a liar in print. Not so much for a little magazine like this one, but for broadsheets and tabloids. It is a fact; it is undisputed that the person in charge of the entire country was lying to us. Papers can (and do) print this, knowing they can’t be sued for liable because it is true. This, at a time when we had Donald Trump as the leader of the free world.
So, how can we trust Fact Check? How can we accept the monitoring of our social media posts? How do we know that the box that we are being squeezed into is the right one?
I try and have a chat with a few local people and their experience and try and get my head around what is going on.
The Vaccine: ‘Bill Gates is putting a microchip in the World’
The box – The vaccine is good. It saves lives. The unvaccinated are bad, stupid, mad or all three. That is the narrative. That is the fact.
Anyone who goes against this will be ridiculed and cancelled. Any post on Facebook questioning this will be removed and blocked.
Back in November 2021, Scottish midfielder, John Fleck collapsed on the pitch. Trevor Sinclair was on air for Talk Sport at the time and stated, ‘I think everyone wants to know if he (Fleck) has had the Covid vaccine.’
Sinclair was quickly cut off and his comment was edited from the archive. He was later suspended. In a tweet he posted “Everyone I speak to about these heart problems suffered by footballers (which worryingly seem to be happening more regularly) are they linked to Covid vaccines or not??’.
I don’t want to get into whether they are or aren’t. However, the fact that he cannot say it, is scary, and surely creates conspiracy theories as against prevents them. Matt Le Tissier is another former player who has seen their career in tatters for not following this rule.
The Southampton legend has been mocked in the press and lost his Sky Sports job in the result. He has since pointed the finger at the wider media and raised concerns about free speech.
There are extreme conspiracy theories, (such as the Bill Gates micro-chip) but surely even these need to be allowed to be discussed. If not, then we are allowing them to gain traction.
But asides from the more ‘out there’ theories, surely it is sensible to question something that goes into your body? It can’t be seen as outrageous not to blindly follow the instructions. Especially when things are rarely as black and white as the box implies.
Dan Simons from Swansea Marina told me “I was thinking about having the vaccine. At the time, I was probably edging towards it, but I decided to wait a bit longer than when my first one was due and to look into it a bit more. It seemed obvious that it wasn’t preventing the spread. I noticed that France at the time was the country with the highest percentage of vaccinated people in Europe, but it was also the country with the highest number of covid-cases. There was a similar link with the states in the US. This was my own research. I wasn’t thinking that it was causing Covid, but it certainly wasn’t helping the spread and I think most people accept that now.”
“Despite this, I was made to feel selfish for not having it. As in, it was my duty to ‘protect Granny’ and have the vaccine, the kids too. I’m glad that I didn’t, but the propaganda to try and get me to have it was strong. I couldn’t go on holiday without it. You were made to feel like some conspiracy nut for not having it. We would only hear from people on the news etc. that endorsed it. Anyone who questioned it was off-air”.
I asked him whether he believed any of the conspiracies?
“It wasn’t my reason for not having it. I looked at my age, my health and the statistics around the virus and I thought that I’d be OK if I was to catch it – which I have been so far. It wasn’t that I believed any of the conspiracies online, but I was sceptical of why the media were pushing it so much and not covering any negative stories about the vaccine. I still am. I don’t think we will ever get the whole truth about it but obviously someone is making billions of pounds somewhere which always makes people suspicious.”
One of the issues with creating ‘the box’ is that it changes. What we should do and how we should behave can be different from one day, week or month to the next. Masks didn’t work and then suddenly it was the law to wear them.
Changing the box
Boris Johnson stated that Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was safe for the under 40s and ‘reduced’ the chance of having blood clots. Within 2 weeks, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was stopped for under 40s because it caused blood clots. Anyone in this age group who opted not to have the vaccine over these two weeks, was made to feel stupid for not doing so.
The JCVI (Joint Committee of Vaccine and Immunisations) stated in 2021 that it “has not recommended that all young people aged 12-15 are given the covid-19 vaccination” but the government instead put it forward, not just for this age group but from 5 years old. Is the parent that followed the government or the JCVI wrong?
The reality is that it should all be down to personal choice but if that choice takes you out of that box, then you are in trouble. Don’t question anything about the box!!! Novak Djokovic became a hate figure.
Mair John told me “I’ve been banned a few times on Facebook for questioning the Covid vaccine. Everything has this ‘fact check’ thing with it but who is monitoring the facts? Who is financing it? Where is the information coming from? As we have learned from things in the past, just because the Government say that something is a fact, that doesn’t mean its true. We should be able to question everything and if social media only allow us to question what the government allows us to, then that doesn’t seem right.”
Ukraine Good – Putin Bad
“Kiev must contend with a growing problem behind the front lines: far-right vigilantes who are willing to use intimidation and even violence to advance their agendas, and who often do so with the tacit approval of law enforcement agencies.”
“A January 28 (2017) demonstration, in Kiev, by 600 members of the so-called “National Militia,” a newly formed ultranationalist group that vows “to use force to establish order,” illustrates this threat. While the group’s Kiev launch was peaceful, National Militia members in balaclavas stormed a city council meeting in the central Ukrainian town of Cherkasy the following day, skirmishing with deputies and forcing them to pass a new budget.”
This is from a 2017 article from Reuters. NBC news also stated that “Ukraine has a neo–Nazi problem”. The mainstream media, at this time, were happy to report that Ukraine did have an issue with Nazism and the far-right.
Then, Putin invaded Ukraine.
The new box – Putin bad, Russia bad, Zelensky good, Ukraine good. We must fight to defend the kind of democracy described by Reuters.
President Biden stated in 2022 “Putin has the gall to say he’s ‘de-Nazifying’ Ukraine. It’s a lie. It’s just cynical. He knows that. And it’s also obscene.”
The simplification of war is something we’ve seen the world over. The Ukraine conflict is the most recent one. I would like to state (again) that I’m not being drawn into an opinion. I’m not stating that Putin is good or that Ukraine is bad but merely that we must allow both sides of the discussion. If not, then what is this free speech we are fighting for?
It was accepted that Ukraine had a major issue with Neo-Nazis. The war didn’t begin on the day that Russian forces entered the country either. There were thousands of deaths on both sides in the East of Ukraine in the years leading up to it. This is a very complex issue and just because the West acknowledge a clear border between both countries, it doesn’t mean that any differing opinion should be oppressed.
Banned for sharing
A resident from Pontardawe (that wants to remain anonymous) was banned from his local facebook group for sharing a photo of Ukrainian soldiers with Nazi tattoos and doing the Nazi salute.
“I had a 7-day ban from Pontardawe Voice, which is the main group in the area for discussion and information etc. It was obviously believed that I broke a rule, yet it is difficult to understand what that rule could be, other than not blindly accepting the narrative that Zelensky and Ukraine are 100% innocent and Russia 100% guilty.”
“The photo that I shared was legit. The issues with Neo-Nazis within Ukraine and specifically in the military are well known and were completely accepted until the war.”
I asked whether being restricted from sharing something that he knows to be true is making him more suspicious of other things?
“100% yes. If I can’t share something which is a fact, then what else isn’t being shared? The Americans and Europe have made the war into a good v bad scenario and everything that we see and hear in the media is reinforcing this. Obviously in Russia, they are seeing a totally different media and have a different opinion because of it. We are told that they are being brainwashed but aren’t we too?”
The ’truth’ is rarely an exact science and all sides are rarely told evenly. Yet, our opinions as the public are always based on the ‘facts’ that we are given. Which are naturally selected.
If we look back over the past 80 years, then we can almost see each countries propaganda (or at the very least selected ‘facts’) in action.
After France was liberated after World War II. A 1945 poll showed that the French public overwhelmingly credited the USSR as their main liberators. Asked which nation they felt made the biggest impact to their freedom, 57% said the USSR, 20% USA and 12% the UK.
After all, over 80% of Nazi deaths were on the Eastern Front. In 2009, 63% of Russians believed that they would have won the war alone.
Over the past 80 years, opinion has shifted. History has been retold. In France today, just 15% of people credit the USSR as the main contributor. 14% Britain and 47% believe it was the United States that made the biggest contribution. Interestingly, today, the Americans are credited to be the greatest contributor to the war effort across most of Europe – even in Germany.
In the UK, however, 50% believe that it was us that did the most to win the war.
I make these points, just to show how the media, (and our schooling) influence us. All of us, every country. None of these countries’ opinions are necessarily right or wrong but without engagement and discussion and all the facts, then we will all blindly believe that whatever is in the box, is always right.
Jeremy Corbyn, Israel, Hamas & Antisemitism
In 2017, Jeremy Corbyn oversaw an election where Labour increased their vote by more than any other leader since 1945. The allotment loving vegan was different to the political class, offering a change that appealed to many left leaning voters.
His demise was brutal. And it still is. Daily headlines regarding his antisemitism values have created a scenario where most people believe that Jeremy Corbyn hates Jews. However, cynics and conspiracy theorists believe that the antisemitism smear on him is merely the elite ensuring the status quo, to prevent any seismic shift in UK politics.
In 2019, The Jerusalem Post, ran a headline that read ‘63% of Jeremy Corbyn supporters hold at least one antisemitic view’. Stephanie Saunders from the Uplands is a Jeremy Corbyn supporter and claims “It is all bollocks. Corbyn has fought against racism and hate for the whole of his life. This has been a deliberate ploy by the establishment, to bring down someone who wanted to change that establishment.”
“There is no example anywhere of Corbyn being antisemitic. He has voiced concerns over how Israel treats the Palestinian people, and this is used to smear him”. Stephanie is far from alone in this view. In a 2019 poll, 52% of Labour voters from the 2017 election agreed that there had been “a concerted smear campaign by his political opponents to try to discredit him over antisemitism”.
Reported antisemitism is on the rise, both here and in the USA. However, according to American journalist, Phyllis Bennis, as is false antisemitism claims. “The bad news is that false accusations of anti-Semitism, usually linked to criticism of Israel or Israel’s supporters in the United States, are on the rise as well. And we need to be clear: It is not anti-Semitic to support Palestinian rights, demand a change in U.S. policy toward Israel, expose the kind of pressure that the pro-Israel lobby brings to bear on elected officials, or call out Israel’s violations of human rights and international law. False accusations of anti-Semitism are used to undermine Palestinian rights, violate the First Amendment, and demonize social movements. They also serve as a powerful diversion from the urgent task of combating the real thing (antisemitism).”
So, what antisemitic views do the Jerusalem Post refer to in their poll?
It claims that “42% believe that Israel’s supporters are damaging British democracy, and 60% believe that Israel treats the Palestinians like the Nazis treated the Jews.”
This is complex and the box is tricky. ‘You can criticise Israel. Hamas are terrorists. Don’t mention the Nazis’.
The Jerusalem Post state that these beliefs “directly evokes one of the examples of antisemitism in the International Definition of Antisemitism adopted by the British Government”.
‘Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.’ is, according to the act, deemed antisemitic.
There are two issues here. The first point is that there is a real difference between stating something and answering to a direct question in a poll. You may think that the Israeli forces behave in some ways, like the Nazis in Germany, however you understand that it’s a sensitive comparison and so you’d never dream of using that exact wording.
However, if you were faced with a yes or no question ‘do you think that the Israeli forces behave similarly to the Nazis in Germany?’ – then you may answer ‘yes’, and then be labelled antisemitic.
The bigger question, is should comparisons with Israel and the Nazis be deemed antisemitic or merely very poor taste? The Holocaust was an evil, horrific act. The worst in human history. Yet, the Nazis did horrific and evil things to other groups. A third of Belarussians were killed. The Soviet Union lost 27 million lives, yet the Scotsman – the national newspaper of Scotland, ran a headline this year of ‘Putin is a Nazi’. So why couldn’t we do the same with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu?
Israel is regarded as the nation-state and sovereign homeland of the Jewish people. Nearly half of the Worlds Jews live here. This can create a blurry line between criticism of Israel and an ‘unfair treatment of the Jewish people’. The later is antisemitic, the former is not, but restricting what people can say about the nation of Israel alone, is surely going to cause resentment.
Some see Israel an aggressor. A right-wing country that persecutes the Muslim minority within its borders and is responsible for the deaths of innocent Palestinians. Others, feel that the Jewish people deserve a homeland. There are various Arab countries, Christian countries, and Israel is the rightful home of the Jewish people and they are merely protecting their border.
Both sides of the argument have their reason for their beliefs and should be able to share them. However, another antiemetic view according to our adopted rule is “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour”.
Again, that is difficult to comprehend. Israel was created in 1948. There are over 5 million people in the UK, older than Israel. Is it antisemitic to question the borders of Israel? To question its growth?
With daily media coverage, today, it is almost a fact that Jeremy Corbyn is an antisemite, but it is difficult to find any examples of him showing ‘hate towards or unfair treatment of Jews’ which is what the Oxford dictionary defines as antisemitism.
In searching for some examples, I come across another Jerusalem Post article from 2018 which is headlined – Jeremy Corbyn’s’ top ten outrageous anti-Israel moments. With a strap line of ‘even making anti-Jewish comments’.
Jeremy Corbyn & Hamas
You can search all ten online but I’ve selected three:-
It is obvious that Jeremy Corbyn dislikes the state of Israel and how it has behaved in the past. This is a view shared by many people in the UK. According to a YouGov poll, we are two and a half times more likely to sympathise with the Palestinian people than the Israeli. This doesn’t make him or the UK public antisemitic but if we are made-out to feel antisemitic for having these views or restricted for sharing them, or see people like Corbyn vilified for stating them, then surely this will create more problems and not less?
The Daily Mail ran a headline from late 2021 that read “Jeremy Corbyn faces TEN YEARS in jail if he meets his ‘friends’ from Hamas again under new measures to treat supporters of the Palestinian group as terrorists”
It is true that Corbyn, in 2009, called Hamas ‘friends’. It is also true that in the UK, they are deemed a terrorist organisation, as they are in Canada, the European Union, Israel, Japan, Australia, and the United States.
However, it is NOT deemed a terrorist organisation by New Zealand, Norway, Brazil, China, Egypt, Iran, Qatar, Russia, Syria, Turkey and many others. In December 2018, the United Nations General Assembly rejected a U.S. resolution condemning Hamas as a terrorist organization.
Nelson Mandela was on the US terrorist watchlist until 2008 (he was 90 years old at the time). Thatcher called his group a “typical terrorist organization”. By today’s standards, if Corbyn had called Mandela a ‘friend’ back then, then he would have faced the same scrutiny for being out of the box.
Were those that sympathised with Mandela anti-white any more than those that sympathise with Hamas antisemitic?
It seems bizarre, that we have a box on the Ukraine crisis which means that we should all completely reject Putin’s expansion of Russia and back Ukrainians fighting back. Whilst we have a similar box that states that any Palestinian rejecting the expansion of Israel is a terrorist and anyone associated with them should face 10 years in prison and is antisemitic.
Jeremy Corbyn is now too toxic to touch. He is essentially cancelled. The Labour Party want to distance themselves completely from him. Another fallen foul to the box.
Antisemitism – part 2
Antisemitism, like any prejudice is awful. I don’t want to belittle it in any way. I fear though, that it, along with other abuse, will continue to rise the more our speech is restricted.
The box – Don’t mention money and the Jews in the same sentence.
The website antisemitism.adl.org says “The stereotype of Jewish greed took hold in the Middle Ages, when Jews were frequently associated with money. Jews typically had restrictions placed on their economic activity and were sometimes prohibited from owning land…. sometimes the only option available to earn a living in such circumstances was through high-interest crediting, a role for which Christian rulers sometimes recruited Jews, as Christians were prohibited from it.”
“This made for a complicated and tense dynamic between Jews and Christian society that lasted well beyond medieval times. It made it easy for leaders to position Jews as a scapegoat, as the cause of the common people’s financial woes; it also compounded the perception among some Christian theologians of Jews as immoral and devoid of virtue.”
This is important. It is a lesson that we should all know and something which we should all be able to discuss openly. A ‘myth’ today is that the Jewish people tend to be rich. It can be deemed antisemitic to imply this. However, this isn’t a myth.
Jews are richer
In the UK, people that identify as Jewish earn on average the highest hourly wage out of all religious groups. In the United States, roughly half the Jewish population say their annual household income is at least $100,000 – much higher than the percentage of all U.S. households at that level.
Acknowledging that Jews are generally richer than non-Jews is not showing ‘hate towards or unfair treatment of Jews’. It is a fact. In the same way that is it’s a fact that black people are the poorest ethnicity in the UK.
It is not a fault of those Jewish people to be rich. Nor is it a fault of those black people to be poor.
While many in the Jewish community were bankrolling Europe and the Americas, many of the black community were being forced into slavery. We have a system where social change is rare. If you are a great grandchild or somebody with money, then you probably have money today. If you are the great grandchild of someone without money, then you probably still haven’t got any.
So, it is little surprise that today, the descendants of Jews in the 18th century are generally richer than the status quo, while the descendants of slaves are the poorest. That’s the society that we live in. This also doesn’t mean that any rich Jews, are only rich because they inherited wealth. Or that all poor black people, are only poor because their ancestors were slaves. Or that there aren’t poor Jews and rich black people.
Banned on Facebook
But we must be open to talk about this sort of thing. Joe Taylor from Morriston told me “I was banned on Facebook for sharing a post about Rothchild controlling the banking industry. It was reported as antisemitic, and it was removed and that was that. I don’t just share anything I see on Facebook. I looked into it and from what I could see, it was true. The post said that he was worth over $500 trillion and had a share in 80% of the world’s banks. It didn’t even mention that he was Jewish if I remember rightly.”
Again, I am not getting involved into whether Rothchild is worth that money or not. (I did have a brief look into it, and I fancy doing some digging) but we are creating a screwed-up society where people are scared to say anything. This opens the door for nasty bigoted views. Any box we are forced into without being able to discuss things will create divide.
Conspiracy theories and hate crimes are on the rise. Social media is being blamed but people are feeling attacked from not being able to speak their mind. We shouldn’t be allowed to spread hate, but Matt Le Tissier and Trevor Sinclair were just voicing their opinion. Them and Jeremy Corbyn have fallen to what?
The box must grow. We must be able to have different opinions. We must be able to discuss.
I’d like to end this with an extract from the United States. In March 2016, a college professor at Oberlin College, shared several posts deemed antisemitic.
The College President wrote “I am a practicing Jew, grandson of an Orthodox rabbi. Members of our family were murdered in the Holocaust. As someone who has studied history, I cannot comprehend how any person could or would question its existence, its horrors, and the evil which caused it. I feel the same way about anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Regardless of the reason for spreading these materials, they cause pain for many people — members of our community and beyond.”
However, he continued, his parents “instilled in me a strong belief in academic freedom.”
Noting that the college recognizes “that academic freedom and tenure do not protect unlawful discrimination and harassment,” the statement said that “principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech … ensure we can develop meaningful responses to prejudice.”
“This freedom enables Oberlin’s faculty and students to think deeply about and to engage in frank, open discussion of ideas that some may find deeply offensive … Our community will address the issues raised in this situation by honouring the essence of liberal arts education at Oberlin by interrogating assertions with facts and deep, critical thinking from multiple viewpoints.”
This is something worth protecting. This is a democratic freedom of speech and that is worth going to war for. What we are creating now, is not.
*As I write this, the West have begun a war on TikTok. The Chinese company is seen as a threat because of its close ties to the Chinese government.