The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

'The Left Isn’t Listening' - really Mr. Cohen?

Paul de Rooij

It is rather odd to see that the Guardian/Observer has a set of virtually identical writers (Aaronovitch, J. Freedland, and now Mr. Cohen) who conjure similar arguments. All of them have criticized the “left” by setting up straw men and then charging them quixotically. Mr. Cohen’s remarks deserve rebuttal due to their nefarious nature.

Mr. Cohen’s first paragraph: “When Saddam is sent to rendezvous with a judge in The Hague…, the democratic opposition in Iraq will need help. It has many enemies: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the CIA and the Foreign Office want to replace the old tyrant with a new, compliant dictator - a Saddam without a moustache. As the moment of decision arrives, Iraqi democrats and socialists have discovered that their natural allies in the European Left don't want to know them. They must add the shameless Stop the War Coalition to the enemies list.” Hopefully this fresh pile of fecal matter will stop you from reading the rest of this article. However, if you pursue your masochistic tendencies, or read it because it appeared in a reputable webzine, e.g., the Blanket, then some discussion is necessary.

First, there are many “Iraqi democrats” and not all of them are of a wholesome nature. So, if one of them says that he’s been shunted by the “left”, it means that there may be a good reason. Furthermore, a political movement seeks to act on aspects it can influence, e.g., British participation in the obscene war, thus a simple NO message is the most effective. How things turn out on the ground thereafter, well that is indeed the Iraqis’ responsibility. So, whether or not the Stop the War Coalition has actively sought to include the “Iraqi democrats” is of secondary importance.

The Stop the War Coalition is just that, a grouping of all colors projecting an anti-war message. This is a simple message that will gain wide following as evinced by the demonstrations on the 15th. Yes, there were Moslems marching too, and they were welcomed because they had the same political message.

Mr. Cohen states: “What (…) about the strange insistence of the anti-war movement that Iraqis must not be liberated until Israel withdraws from the occupied territories?” Could he conceivably explain where this nonsense came from? This message was not uttered by any of the speakers at the London demo - so it is utter nonsense.

Mr. Cohen’s portrayal of Harold Pinter’s stance on Iraqi/Kurdish rights is preposterous. Pinter has been at the forefront of the defense of Kurdish human rights for ages. Where does Mr. Cohen manage to find this nonsense?

Mr. Cohen throws in a swipe at Edward Said by stating “But he too has fled into denial”- this because he doesn’t have flattering things to say about one of Cohen’s Iraqi darlings.

The final swipe at the so-called Left is truly remarkable. “The Iraqis must now accept that they will have to fight for democracy without the support of the British Left. Disgraceful though our failure to hear them has been, I can't help thinking that they'll be better off without us.” What hogwash!

The demonstrations on the 15th had to do with a general disgust with the long torture of the Iraqi people by the US/UK and a principled opposition against another horrendous massacre that is in the offing - period. Mr.Cohen’s disingenuous remarks have more to do with tarnishing this movement than with providing a legitimate criticism.

Perhaps looking at the co-optation of the anti-war movement in California reveals Mr. Cohen’s real reason for his invective. In California, the anti-war demonstrations were co-opted by a group that did everything to stunt any criticism of Israel or references to the plight of the Palestinians. As such, the demonstrations were deemed a “success” by their organizers, i.e., no criticism of Israel was voiced, and the organizers ordered posters with such messages to be taken down. Is it the case that the Zionist-trio at the Guardian/Observer have launched their invective against the “peace movement” for this reason? The fact that the London march did not attempt to stamp out statements about the Palestinians or criticism of Israel is perhaps the main reason that sparked the ire of the likes of Aaronovitch or Mr. Cohen. One would have thought that the editors of the Blanket would recognize such destructive statements before adding them to their webzine.

Paul de Rooij - can be reached at



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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.
- Thomas J. Watson

Index: Current Articles

27 February 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Blair in Belfast
Sean Smyth


Bernadette Devlin McAliskey Deported from USA
Tommy McKearney


Sinn Fein's Helpful Hints for Upholding Harmony
Eamon Lynch


Jomo Kenyata in the Mau Mau - Never

John Nixon


What Practical Alternatives To Provo Republicanism exist?

Seaghán Ó Dubhslaine


Caoimhe Butterly
Anthony McIntyre


'The Left Isn't Listening' - Really Mr Cohen?

Paul de Rooij


Israel's Proxy War?

M. Shahid Alam


Jack Holland And The Obsolescence Of Republican Socialism
Liam O Ruairc


23 February 2003


Knowing Too Much and Saying It Too Well: Bernadette McAliskey Barred from US
Anthony McIntyre


A Unity of Purpose Against the War
Aine Fox


UK Complete Me
Jimmy Sands


The Left Isn't Listening
Nick Cohen


The Letters page has been updated.




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