The Socialist Workers Party have now published a mealy mouthed apologia for their decision to host the increasingly eccentric rationaliser of synagogue burnings, circulater of holocaust denial material, and promoter of worldwide jewish conspiracy theories: Gilad Atzmon.
The SWP hand wringing exercise commences with an explanation of its role, in the past, as an opponent rather than promulgator of racism. However, as they explain:
“No Platform” is a principle that the left has always reserved for fascists and organised racists
Helpfully, Atzmon then states:
I have never been a member in any political party. I am acting independently. I am not associated with any political body and I do not intend to be associated with one in the foreseen future.
The conclusion that we’re supposed to draw, no doubt, is that Atzmon is – at worse – a disorganised racist, and therefore not subject to the SWP’s No Platform policy. Phew!
What is more interesting is the length to which the SWP is now going to distance themselves from Atzmon. He’s no longer the man who produces “fearless tirades against Zionism“. Nowadays, this is the nicest thing they can think to say of him:
However, while defending Gilad’s right to play and speak on public platforms that in no way means we endorse all of Gilad’s views. We think that some of the formulations on his website might encourage his readers to feel that he is blurring the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti Zionism. In fact we have publicly challenged and argued against those of his ideas we disagree with.
It is also amusing, to say the least, to see the SWP depict itself as the defender of freedom of expression, when the SWP hasn’t been a well known enthusiast for free speech in the past. It is also droll to see the SWP suggest those who oppose the SWP’s invitation are opposing his freedom of expression. We should make it clear, in answer, that we have no objection to Gilad Atzmon being invited to speak by any openly racist organisation. The only objection to the invitation is that the SWP presents itself as a left wing party.
As a footnote, those of us who have been following the SWP/Atzmon affair closely will know what those views are. Its interesting to see Atzmon’s own, sanitized – and frankly bizarre – account of what he believes, reproduced in the SWP’s statement. Perhaps these vocal defenders of freedom of expression don’t have the guts to publish Atzmon’s unbowdlerised theses on their website.
The SWP has been caught on the hop as the promoter and defender of a man who expresses views which, even on the SWP’s account, blend into racism. Incredibly, they’re incapable of admitting their mistake and cancelling the invitation.
Still, what’s the bet this is the last invitation they’ll extend to him?
Hat tip: Phil D