Spare a thought for poor, maligned David Toube. Today he posts an indignant article complaining that Lindsey German of the Stop the War Coalition has misrepresented him and his fellow bloggers at Harry’s Place. She can only get away with this, Toube writes piously, because she knows that “as a matter of principle, I will not sue for defamation”. Given that Toube regularly denounces Muslim activists he disagrees with as racists and fascists, and once described Inayat Bunglawala and myself as the “ideological wing” of the terrorists responsible for the attempted car bombing of Glasgow airport, perhaps he should be grateful that his opponents apply the same principle when responding to his attacks on them.
Toube makes a show of outrage that, at the launch meeting of the anti-Islamophobia campaign Kafa/Enough last Friday, Lindsey German quoted a comment from a Harry’s Place discussion on Sarkozy’s proposed “burka ban”, which declared that the wearing of the veil “must be intended to convey a message. For me, that message is that the wearer and her family support terrorism and those forces against which our soldiers are fighting, and so are going to get no sympathy from me.” We like to think that Lindsey German was quoting directly from a post here at Islamophobia Watch, where we published excerpts from the Harry’s Place “burka” thread. As can be seen, the comment cited by Lindsey was just one of a series of disgusting attacks on veil-wearing Muslim women, and not the worst by any means.
We’re not alone in noting the vile anti-Muslim racism that pervades Harry’s Place. In the discussion that follows Toube’s “Lindsey German was horrible to me” piece, Harry’s Place supporter Marko Attila Hoare complains that “the comments boxes here are frequently flooded by extremely nasty bigots who really do hate all Muslims. Their visceral expressions of chauvinistic hatred all too frequently seem to become the dominant theme in any discussion here. And to be honest, I think you’re far, far too reticent about tackling them.”
The failure of Toube et al to subject these repeated outpourings of hatred to any sort of moderation is certainly a disgrace. But perhaps the more fundamental question Hoare should address is why these Muslim-hating bigots are drawn like flies to Toube’s site in the first place. After all, Sunny Hundal’s Pickled Politics blog hosted an equally lengthy debate on the Sarkozy-burka issue without the comments degenerating into the sort of revolting anti-Muslim rants that appeared on Harry’s Place.
The obvious explanation is that Harry’s Place has a well-earned reputation of being, to quote Lindsey German herself, “a disgusting kind of blog which is very very much against Muslims”. As one commenter demands of Toube:
“But isn’t her point right? This is a blog, nominally of the Left, which allows racists to vent their spleens in such huge numbers that it’s impossible to challenge them all. You say you have an open comments policy but I’m sure everyone has at some point had a comment deleted for some reason, so the idea that there is no moderation is nonsense. Surely when the opinions and thinking of the writers here start chiming with racists, creating a space where they feel comfortable chatting shit, then you start reconsidering your motivations and writings.”
Toube and the other Harry’s Place bloggers “reconsidering their motivations and writings”? Not a chance, I’m afraid. Instead, we can predict a stepping up of their vitriolic attacks on anyone who stands in the way of their support for imperialist war and Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people.