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Questions David Miller must answer

This is a crosspost by Shiraz Maher

My colleague and comrade Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens has today explained why he wanted his profile removed from the SpinProfileswebsite operated by Professor David Miller of Strathclyde University.

Hitch the younger was characteristically generous in his response, omitting the wider questions relating to David Miller’s websites and views. I am honour-bound to raise these in defence of a trusty friend.

Miller operates SpinProfiles along with a number of other websites which include SpinWatch and Neocon Europe. The first of these websites came to attention after Alexander requested that his profile be removed from it.

SpinProfiles describes itself as an:

encyclopedia of people, issues, and groups shaping the public agenda that is being written collaboratively on this website. It catalogues descriptions and details of PR firms, activist groups and government agencies as well as the criticisms that are made of these groups from different perspectives.

There is some truth in this. SpinProfiles does indeed catalogue ‘people, issues and groups shaping the public agenda’. What is curious however is the rather narrow manner in which targets are selected.

For example, there is a profile of the Community Security Trust. There is one for the Board of Deputies of British Jews. There is also an entry for the Jewish Leadership Council. An entire essay greets those looking upBICOM.

By Miller’s own admission SpinProfiles:

features close to ten thousand profiles of think tanks, lobbying organisations and those associated with them.

But what about the Muslim Public Affairs Committee which is, by definition, a public advocacy group? After all, it describes itself as ‘a movement with branches across the country and Britain’s biggest Muslim website’.

What of IEngage which boasts of “enhancing the active engagement of British Muslim communities in our national life, particularly in the fields of politics and the media”?

There is a similar dearth of material on the pressure group ‘Muslims4Ken’which campaigned unsuccessfully to have Ken Livingstone re-elected as Mayor in 2008. And you’ll find nothing if you search for the Muslim Council of Britain which created the ‘Muslim Vote’ portal for the last general election. It states that ‘Muslim Vote’ is:

a tool and a platform to encourage British Muslims to go out and vote on 6 May.

Muslim Vote 2010 also intends to create a non-partisan space where British Muslims of all political persuasions can come together, debate, share learn and activate for the common good.

Despite the ‘close to ten thousand’ entries on SpinProfiles you will find nothing on these groups.

The problem, of course, is not with generic, non-sectarian initiatives encouraging greater participation in the political process – whether communal or not. That is something to be applauded. The problem is with SpinProfile’s apparent obsession with “Jewish power” or, if you will, “the Jewish lobby”.

After all, Miller is supposed to be an academic of the highest order: a professor. Yet, nowhere does he offer any methodology for how his targets are selected.

What constitutes a person, issue or group ‘shaping the public agenda?’ How is ‘public agenda’ defined? What level, type and kind of activity constitutes ‘shaping’ as opposed to merely ‘observing’ or ‘commenting’ on an agenda?

If Miller wants to be taken seriously as an academic these are questions he must answer. It is not just SpinProfiles which is guilty of such intellectual sloppiness.

Another of Miller’s projects, Neocon Europe fails to offer any definition of ‘Neocon’. Yes, the website does give a history of neoconservatism, its emergence and development – which is, in itself, highly contentious and skewed, but put that aside for now.

The most basic requirement for the website might be considered a fairly robust definition of the criteria by which someone is judged to be a neocon and therefore listed on the site. This is, however, lacking altogether. A pitiful attempt at offering some criteria is offered here, but the categorisations (particularly the third) are too vague to have any meaning.

How can Miller expect any credibility when he cannot even define his terms? The absurdity of it is that even Sunder Katwala, director of the Fabian Society, once had a profile on the website. It has since been ported over to SpinProfiles (though click here to see an old copy of it on Neocon Europe).

Anyone wanting to understand Miller and his projects needs to consult two websites: The Spittoon and SpinWatchWatch. The former has produced a series of lucid expositions on the matter while the latter focuses on it exclusively.

SpinWatchWatch identifies David Miller’s websites as having ‘a keen interest in Jews’ which promote a ‘Jewish conspiracy theory of history’.

A quick read of Miller’s sites reveals just that. While they profile almost every Jewish group out there – such as those listed above – they only focus on those Muslims who oppose Islamism. Thus, friends such as Faisal Gaziand Ed Husain are logged and recorded on Miller’s websites (along with myself) while there is nothing on Iqbal Sacranie, Mohammed Abdul Bari, or Daud Abdullah. Even the intellectual heavyweight, Inayat Bunglawala is left without an entry.

How can Miller, then, continue claiming academic impartiality and balance? His websites have a clear and obvious selection bias.

To make matters worse, research undertaken by the Spittoon reveals that until around November of last year Miller’s Neocon Europe website was hosting material by the neo-Nazi sympathiser Kevin MacDonald.

In the past MacDonald has appeared as a witness for David Irving in his libel battle with Deborah Lipstadt, describing Irving’s work as “required reading for serious students of the Third Reich and World War II”. MacDonald went on totell the court:

…my training as an evolutionist as well as the evidence compiled by historians leads me to conceptualize Judaism as self-interested groups whose interests often conflict with segments of the gentile community.

MacDonald’s views were reproduced uncritically and without challenge at length on Neocon Europe. There are pictures proving this here and here. Perhaps worst of all, the site also reproduced a racial eugenics list written by MacDonald outlining the ‘characteristics of Jewish intellectual movements’. He listed these as follows:

  • A deep concern with furthering specific Jewish interests, such as helping Israel or promoting immigration.
  • Issues are framed in a rhetoric of universalism rather than Jewish particularism.
  • Issues are framed in moral terms, and an attitude of moral superiority pervades the movement.
  • Centered around charismatic leaders (Boas, Trotsky, Freud).
  • Jews form a cohesive, mutually reinforcing core.
  • Non-Jews appear in highly visible roles, often as spokespersons for the movement.
  • A pronounced ingroup/outgroup atmosphere within the movement-dissenters are portrayed as the personification of evil and are expunged from the movement.
  • The movement is irrational in the sense that it is fundamentally concerned with using available intellectual resources to advance a political cause.
  • The movement is associated with the most prestigious academic institutions in the society.
  • Access to prestigious and mainstream media sources, partly as a result of Jewish influence on the media.
  • Active involvement of the wider Jewish community in supporting the movement.

As the Spittoon points out:

That’s the kind of attitude that ultimately led the Nazi’s to theirLebensunwertes Leben doctrine.

Miller now concedes:

Macdonald has been repeatedly and rightly (in our view) accused of racism. Moreover, the statements expressed core essentialist anti-semitic/racist ideas. This material should not have been posted and is in no way endorsed by this site. I apologise for, and deeply regret, this error.

While attacking my trusty Hitch on Comment is Free, David Miller states:

Our site can, indeed, be controversial for those who appear on it, which is part of the point. Some of the organisations and individuals we focus on go to great lengths to evade transparency.

In the interests of transparency and full disclosure David Miller should now answer the simple questions put to him by my friend Faisal Gazi almost seven months ago.

It would be a shame if he continued to evade those questions so, for convenience, I have replicated them below (with some changes and additions of my own):

1. Who posted the material by Kevin MacDonald on Neocon Europe?

2. What disciplinary action was taken against this individual? Do they still write for Neocon Europe? If so, why?

3. What steps have been taken to review all other material contributed by them to the site?

4. Neocon Europe claims to have ‘tighten[ed] the editorial process governing the posting of material’. Please explain, in detail, what new processes have been introduced.

These are urgent and pressing questions which Miller must now answer. They are not the only ones. He should also explain more about the research methodology and selection criteria for his websites if he wants to be perceived as anything more than a simple hostage to ancient and destructive prejudices.