Former Guardian staffer takes George Monbiot to task

Tony Gosling tony at
Sat Jan 13 01:46:44 GMT 2018

Monbiot is not only a hypocrite, but a bully too

Written by 
Cook on January 12, 2018 -

It is time for George Monbiot’s legion of 
supporters to call him out. Not only is he a 
hypocrite, but he is becoming an increasingly dangerous one.

Turning a blind eye to his behaviour, or worse 
excusing it, as too often happens, has only 
encouraged him to intensify his attacks on 
dissident writers, those who – whether right or 
wrong on any specific issue – are slowly helping 
us all to develop more critical perspectives on 
western foreign policy goals than has been possible ever before.

I do not lightly use such strong language against 
Monbiot, someone I once admired. But his column 
this week drips with hypocrisy as he accuses the 
rightwing media of being the real villains when 
it comes to “no-platforming”. Monbiot 

But perhaps the real discomfort is that the worst 
no-platforming of all takes place within our 
newspapers. In the publications most obsessed 
with student silliness, there is no platform for 
socialism, no platform for environmentalism, no 
platform for those who might offend the interests of the proprietors. 

I believe that a healthy media organisation, like 
a healthy university, should admit a diversity of 
opinion. I want the other newspapers to keep 
publishing views with which I fiercely disagree. 
But they – and we – should also seek opposing 
views and publish them too, however uncomfortable this might be.

What free speech advocate would disagree with 
that. Except it is Monbiot himself who has been 
using his prominent platforms, at the Guardian 
and on social media, to discredit critical 
thinkers on the left – not with reasoned 
arguments, but by impugning their integrity.

Denied a platform

with his unsubstantiated claim that scholars like 
Noam Chomsky and the late Ed Herman, as well as 
the acclaimed journalist John Pilger, were 
“genocide deniers and belittlers”. It now 
on childish insinuations that those who question 
the corporate media’s simplistic narrative on 
Syria are Assad apologists or in Vladimir Putin’s pay.

But worse than this, Monbiot is also conspiring – 
either actively or through his silence – to deny 
critics of his and the Guardian’s position on 
Syria the chance to set out their evidence in its pages.

The Guardian’s anti-democratic stance does not 
surprise me, as someone who worked there for many 
years. I found myself repeatedly 
by the paper – even while on its staff – after I 
started taking an interest in the 
Israel-Palestine conflict and writing about the 
discomforting issue of what a Jewish state 
entails. My treatment is 
from unique.

Now the paper is denying a platform to those who 
question simplistic and self-serving western 
narratives on Syria. And Monbiot is backing his 
employer to the hilt, even as he professes his 
commitment to the publication of views he 
fiercely disagrees with. That’s the dictionary definition of hypocrisy.

‘Selfless’ White Helmets?

The latest instalment of the Guardian and 
Monbiot’s long-running battle to silence Syria 
dissidents arrived last month when Olivia Solon, 
the paper’s technology writer living in San 
Francisco, developed a sudden and 
expertise in a controversial Syrian group called the White Helmets.

In the western corporate media narrative, the 
White Helmets are a group of dedicated and 
selfless rescue workers. They are supposedly the 
humanitarians on whose behalf a western 
intervention in Syria would have been justified – 
before, that is, Syrian leader Bashar Assad 
queered their pitch by inviting in Russia.

However, there are problems with the White 
Helmets. They operate only in rebel – read: 
mainly al-Qaeda and ISIS-held – areas of Syria, 
and plenty of evidence 
that they are funded by the UK and US to advance 
both countries’ far-from-humanitarian policy objectives in Syria.

“The White Helmets have been filmed describing 
Syrian Arab Army bodies as “trash” and one 
particular video shows them standing on top of a 
pile of SAA soldier’s bodies, whose boots have 
been removed or stolen. The White Helmets talk 
about the bodies in pejorative terms and they 
flick a victory V sign as the truck drives off “~ 
White Helmets Campaign for War not Peace

There are also strong indications that members of 
the White Helmets have been involved in war 
crimes, and that they have staged rescue 
operations as a part of a propaganda offensive 
designed to assist Islamic extremists trying to 
oust Assad. (Solon discounts this last claim. In 
doing so, she ignores several examples of such 
behaviour, concentrating instead on an improbable 
“mannequin challenge”, when the White Helmets 
supposedly froze their emergency operations, in 
the midst of rescue efforts, apparently as part 
of a peculiar publicity campaign.)

Guardian hatchet job

Whatever side one takes in this debate, one would 
imagine that Monbiot should have a clear agenda 
in support of hearing evidence from all sides. 
One might also imagine that he would want to 
distance himself from Solon’s efforts to tie 
criticism of the White Helmets to a supposed 
“fake news” crisis and paint those critical of 
the group as Putin-bots. According to Solon:

The way the Russian propaganda machine has 
targeted the White Helmets is a neat case study 
in the prevailing information wars. It exposes 
just how rumours, conspiracy theories and 
half-truths bubble to the top of YouTube, Google and Twitter search algorithms.

Those are the same algorithms that have been 
in recent months to make sure that prominent 
leftist websites are increasingly difficult to 
find on internet searches and their writers’ views effectively disappeared.

Yet Monbiot has been using social media to 
promote Solon’s cheerleading of the White Helmets 
and her hatchet job against on-the-ground 
journalists who have taken a far more critical view of the group.

out by Prof Tim Hayward, the Guardian’s response 
to criticism of Solon’s piece has been typical. 
The comments section below the article was 
hastily closed after many criticisms were voiced 
by readers. The journalists who were singled out 
for attack by Solon were denied a right of reply. 
A group of concerned academics led by Hayward who 
submitted their own article, which detailed 
publicly available evidence to counter Solon’s 
simplistic account of the White Helmets, were 
ignored. Meanwhile, the Guardian’s editors and 
the reader’s editor have ignored all efforts by these parties to contact them.

Given his claim to be an uncompromising defender 
of free speech and a fierce advocate of providing 
platforms to those who can back up their 
arguments with evidence, however discomforting, 
one might have assumed that Monbiot would at the 
very least have lobbied on behalf of Hayward and 
his fellow scholars. But not a bit of it. Yet 
again he has joined the dogs of the corporate 
media baying for blood. Instead he turned to 
Twitter to claim Hayward and Piers Robinson, an 
expert on propaganda, had 

Undermining climate concerns

The many tens of thousands of leftists who defend 
Monbiot, or turn a blind eye to his hypocrisy, 
largely do so because of his record on the 
environment. But in practice they are enabling 
not only his increasingly overt incitement 
against critical thinkers, but also undermining 
the very cause his supporters believe he champions.

Climate breakdown is a global concern. Rewilding, 
bike-riding, protecting bees and polar bears, and 
developing new sustainable technologies are all 
vitally important. But such actions will amount 
to little if we fail to turn a highly sceptical 
eye on the activities of a western 
military-industrial complex ravaging the planet’s poorest regions.

These war industries fill their coffers by using 
weapons indiscriminately on “enemy” populations, 
spawning new and fiercer enemies – while often 
propping them up too – to generate endless wars. 
The consequences include massive displacements of 
these populations who then destabilise other 
regions, spreading the effect and creating new 
opportunities for the arms manufacturers, 
homeland security industries, and the financial industries that feed off them.

A true environmentalist has to look as critically 
at western policies in Iraq, Libya, Syria, 
Ukraine, Venezuela and many other areas of the 
globe as he does at UK policy in the Welsh hills and the Lake District.

All indications are that Monbiot lacks the 
experience, knowledge and skills to unravel the 
deceptions being perpetrated in the west’s proxy 
and not-so-proxy wars overseas. That is fair 
enough. What is not reasonable is that he should 
use his platforms to smear precisely those who 
can speak with a degree of authority and 
independence – and then conspire in denying them 
a platform to respond. That is the behaviour not 
only of a hypocrite, but of a bully too.

published: Jonathan Cook 

 From South America, where payment must be made 
with subtlety, the Bormann organization has made 
a substantial contribution. It has drawn many of 
the brightest Jewish businessmen into a 
participatory role in the development of many of 
its corporations, and many of these Jews share 
their prosperity most generously with Israel. If 
their proposals are sound, they are even provided 
with a specially dispensed venture capital fund. 
I spoke with one Jewish businessmen in Hartford, 
Connecticut. He had arrived there quite unknown 
several years before our conversation, but with 
Bormann money as his leverage. Today he is more 
than a millionaire, a quiet leader in the 
community with a certain share of his profits 
earmarked as always for his venture capital 
benefactors. This has taken place in many other 
instances across America and demonstrates how 
Bormann’s people operate in the contemporary 
commercial world, in contrast to the fanciful 
nonsense with which Nazis are described in so much “literature.”

So much emphasis is placed on select Jewish 
participation in Bormann companies that when 
Adolf Eichmann was seized and taken to Tel Aviv 
to stand trial, it produced a shock wave in the 
Jewish and German communities of Buenos Aires. 
Jewish leaders informed the Israeli authorities 
in no uncertain terms that this must never happen 
again because a repetition would permanently 
rupture relations with the Germans of Latin 
America, as well as with the Bormann 
organization, and cut off the flow of Jewish 
money to Israel. It never happened again, and the 
pursuit of Bormann quieted down at the request of 
these Jewish leaders. He is residing in an 
Argentinian safe haven, protected by the most 
efficient German infrastructure in history as 
well as by all those whose prosperity depends on his well-being.
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