The ban on circus animals

It was good to see so many MPs opposing the enslavement of animals for entertainment – in the case of the Conservatives like Mark Pritchard – despite threats from their leadership.

They did the right thing. Now this can come before Parliament and be outlawed.

However:

  • The distinction between ‘wild’ and other animals is false. The only distinctions worth making are the levels of suffering the animals are subjected to, to what end, and what this says about us. Is a moderately or occasionally diverting life as an amusement for humans so much worse than living as a cripple in a cage too small to stretch your wings in?
  • We should not allow ourselves to be diverted by lions and elephants while ignoring millions of animals who live in pain and die brutally.
  • This is the experience of almost all the animals whose lives are controlled by humans.
  • I won’t go to any circus which exploits animals, but I think it’s important to keep in mind that, say, eating cheese involves far more anguish, exploitation and violence to animals than going to the circus – the antibiotics, containment, separation of mother from young, slaughter of the male calves as soon as profitable, and of the cows as soon as they reach the end of their productive lives.
  • I also speculate that circus animals probably have a better life than many pets.

More on the circus ban, and on efforts to ban of the act of barbarity which is bull fighting.

When it comes to animals, humans are truly a debased species. But slowly, slowly, and always with the possibility of relapse, we are recovering.

English Defence League marches unescorted from Redbridge to Dagenham

An estimated 250 EDL supporters marched today from Redbridge to Dagenham. It got violent. The pretext seems to have been the conversion of a former butchers into a Muslim centre.

It seems I wasn’t the only one taken unaware. Hope Not Hate reports that there was no police escort, and while Dagenham had organised 10 police vans, Redbridge had one community support officer on a bike. When the EDL started attacking young Asian men, hospitalising one with a broken jaw, the police were nowhere (the net gain of Redbridge’s two-for-one police offer comes to mind).

In case there is any doubt, the EDL is a group associated with violence and consequently huge policing costs. Over the past fortnight:

If the EDL try to control the streets, local police forces shouldn’t warn residents away as Kirklees force warned away young people in Dewsbury. Forces need to work with residents, as they have done in Bradford, Leicester, and Thames Valley to ensure that they remain everybody’s streets.

Here’s a positive grassroots response – due for an EDL visitation on 9th July, Derby has scrambled a multicultural music festival. But unlike us, they had forewarning.

The local group to support is Redbridge and Epping Forest Together (REFT) – details from Hope Not Hate’s directory:

Redbridge and Epping Forest Together
P.O.Box 1576 Ilford IG5 0NG
GerryGable@aol.com
020 8550 1805

Councillors Bhamra and Nijjar are involved in a nationwide initiative to counter the EDL’s “divide and rule” tactics with British Asians.

EDL background at:

Update:

Still no cached page yet, not inclined to provide a direct link, so copy and paste this for the EDL’s report of the march: http://englishdefenceleague.org/content.php?382-Dagenham-Demo-18-June-2011. (On the poppy burning, I noticed that the Muslim Defence League, which grew up as an answer to the English Defence League and is cause for concern, has condemned that act at some length.)

A YouTube video interview of the man whose jaw was broken has a cesspit of anti-Muslim, anti-Asian comment underneath it (the video is by MPACUK, an organisation that means bad news for people like me; incidentally, the Muslim Defence League says on its Facebook page that the men involved were not part of the MDL, and Hope Not Hate doesn’t report any aggressive behaviour on their part).

Update: Barkingside21 has a piece on this. As B21 writes, we’re a pretty diverse bunch in Redbridge, we get along for the most part, and are all the better for it.

Update: a heads-up from Jams on a planned rally in Romford this weekend, seeking to broaden participation by badging it as a patriotic celebration of military service. They are actively encouraging people to bring their kids. Is this a way of keeping violence at bay?

Update: Sarah’s neighbourhood will have a visitation on July 9th.

In defence of a broader definition of antisemitism

Well it’s certainly not tactical to call Richard Kuper antisemitic because he devised a contorted argument for rejecting the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism – and Eve Garrard doesn’t. She does however demonstrate that there were several other ways than antisemitism you can balls up making your point. His piece is like a holiday from logic.

But I tend to think that the difference between antisemitism on the one hand and the persistent excusing or minimisation of antisemitism, on the other, is no more than a matter of degree. I can’t see the difference. And for that reason, I think Richard Kuper must be a bit antisemitic. Not the worst thing in the world you can be, no. But pretty bad when you’re trying to kick some guidelines about antisemitism into the long grass, and replace them with nothing.

Can anybody tell me why I shouldn’t think of Richard Kuper as a bit antisemitic? And the Green Party Regional Council?

(Don’t get in a lather – antisemitism is a kind of racism, racism is very ordinary, we’re all susceptible, you just have to acknowledge it in yourself, work on it, take measures, move on. Stop acting as if somebody has accused you of eating a live puppy.)

One possible reason more alert readers may have noticed is that I’ve departed from the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism. There’s no example there that relates to minimising or denying antisemitism.

And have you noticed that the EUMC Working Definition allows us to identify EDL’s former Jewish Arm (tiny – 12 people) leader Roberta Moore as antisemitic when she calls the Community Security Trust ‘kapos’ for not defending Israel with sufficient militancy for her liking, too?

Throwing it away and replacing it with nothing. An error. I’d call it an antisemitic error.

Is there any reason to distinguish between antisemitism on the one hand and the persistent excusing or minimisation of antisemitism, on the other?

Addenda:

Over on Engage, Matt points out in a comment:

“There are also some more specific problems with Kuper’s piece.

“surely be possible to question whether “the Jewish people” are a people in the secular-nationalist as opposed to the religious sense of the word (as the Israeli author Shlomo Sand has done most forcefully in his recent book The Invention of the Jewish People).”

Passages like this are always particularly galling, because it was Rashid Khalidi who wrote one of the most important works on national identification in order to defend Palestinians against charges that they weren’t a legitimate national group. All national claims are, to some extent, fabricated. When some people make such claims without contest, it is because of the totality with which they have subjugated others. Jewish national claims are as strong as any, but we are constantly made to defend ourselves against what shouldn’t be an issue. This is a regressive, and even reactionary, argument from Kuper. Actually, it strikes me as a variation on the rootless cosmopolitan line that claims that Jewish culture and Jewish difference aren’t legitimate and that the Jewish desire to refuse assimilation is wrong. Jews must be allowed difference, and we must be allowed to be different on the terms WE define, but Kuper argues for minimizing difference in order to define our politics for us.”

Which affirms my feeling that antisemitism should not be thought of only as slathering Jew hatred and active malevolence towards Jews, but that it should also include the distinctive forms taken by a preparedness to put Jews at a deficit unless they toe your ideological line, to withhold sympathy from the errant Jews while upholding the entitlements of other groups (here, Palestinians), and to hold Jews responsible for Israel while moving to prevent anybody from identifying hostility against Jews with hostility against Israel. I don’t think that this doubles standard is always antisemitic – sometimes it’s no more than policing members of your group. You judge by effects – here the outcome is to throw out some careful and context-dependent guidance on antisemitism, Kuper allowing his anti-Israel politics to trump concern for Jews battered over the head with those same politics emanating from many different sources on a daily basis.

Definitions of antisemitism have got to be broader and more differentiated than the simple final solution kind. They do need to allow for anti-Israel antisemitism.