Mehdi Hasan fits in at the New Statesman. Richard Herring is no racist.

Aka: the decline of British left papers and mags.

Taking a break from collecting reasons to back Vestas, I see that the knives are out for Harry’s Place again, this time with the New Statesman’s new senior political editor Mehdi Hasan as the pretext.

Sunny Hundal of Pickled Politics, iEngage, the SWP are pushing the view that Harry’s Place is virulently racist. Harry’s Place bloggers aren’t racist. Racists are, nevertheless, attracted to comment there. I think I see a relative of mine who is Islamophobic constructing careful arguments under the posts. For some time, Harry’s Place hosted overtly racist comments in the name of free speech. They hoped to that other commenters would refute them. These days they are moderating, for the reasons Marko outlined, and making welcome and, I think, successful efforts to distinguish their political antipathy to political Islam from anti-Muslim bigotry. Harry’s Place is a basically responsible blog.

Next, defend the winningly revolting comedian Richard Herring, whose podcast with Andrew Collings the Guardian lists as number 7 in its top ten comedy podcasts (update – and to which I’m a not-infrequent listener) from what amount to allegations of racism by Guardian writer Brian Logan. Herring pulls stunts like telling his audience that anybody who votes BNP should have their vote withdrawn – and when they whoop and clap, asks them whether they aren’t being just a bit fascist themselves. Herring takes apart the opinions of racists by asking his audience whether they might have a point and proceeding to creatively communicate that they do not. He sails close to the wind, but Richard Herring leaves nothing open to racist interpretation. Richard Herring is a responsible comedian. Leave him alone. Defend him. Here he is defending himself. Guardian readers and writers rally. Dave Gorman. Andrew Collings. Charlie Brooker. And more.

The Guardian has been nurturing the form of anti-Jewish racism which hides under anti-Zionism for some years. Seven Jewish Children, for example, was viewed by a number of credible people as an exercise in pathologising and discrediting Jewish (explicitly Jewish, rather than Israeli, which would have been bad enough) parents. And now here’s The Guardian allowing a columnist to stick the knife into an anti-racist like Herring in this way. It’s a topsy turvy world. Sometimes I feel a bit queasy.


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