Tagged: Zionism

A Lesson in Whitewashing: The Anti-Semitism of A.K. Chesterton’s The New Unhappy Lords

By Will Banyan Copyright © 14 July 2012 (updated 18 February 2015)

Author’s note: First published in 2012 on the Martin Frost website, Mr Baron did write me a heated response, but that served mainly to defend his criticisms of Israel and Jewish power, rather than to acknowledge he had misrepresented A.K. Chesterton’s views in disputing Macklin’s charge that Chesterton’s book was “anti-Semitic”. Note also that as Mr Baron no longer writes for Digital Journal – his tale of woe can be found here – I have updated this essay to put his work for Digital Journal in the past tense. Mr Baron now has a blog.

Up until March 2014, Alexander Baron was a prolific contributor to Digital Journal, writing on all manner of topics, but with a particular focus on music, crime and conspiracies. His efforts on the last topic are obviously noteworthy as he seems to share Robin Ramsay’s impatience with those conspiracy theorists that play fast and loose with the facts, or indeed make the most outrageous claims with little or no evidence. In doing so Baron gives the impression of being eminently reasonable, even intractable in his devotion to evidence over the attractions of ideology, and gratifyingly intolerant of those buffoonish flimflammers David Icke and Alex Jones. Indeed, many of Baron’s missives on Icke have much to commend as he has lambasted the oracle of the Isle of Wight for his embrace of censorship, purveying “nonsense” on 9/11, and for promoting “implausible” stories about the House of Rothschild supposedly “bankrolling Hitler.”

But, to abuse a much-abused cliché, appearances can be deceiving. A visit to Alexander Baron’s other website gives a different and more complete sense of his rather complex and controversial views on political and historical events of some note than can be detected from his Digital Journal pieces alone. Discerning readers would notice something of a gulf between the reasonable Alexander Baron who writes for the Digital Journal and the more controversial Alexander Baron, the Holocaust-denying opponent of “organised Jewry”, whose works grace www.infotextmanuscripts.org. But in his lengthy op-ed piece in Digital Journal defending A.K. Chesterton (1896-1973) author of The New Unhappy Lords: An Exposure of Power Politics (1965), an early and uniquely British take on the New World Order conspiracy, Baron appears to bridge that gap between his two selves. The object of Baron’s ire is the article “Transatlantic Connections and Conspiracies: A.K. Chesterton and The New Unhappy Lords” by Graham Macklin, from the Journal of Contemporary History (April 2012).

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The Strange Case of the Rothschild ‘Straw Man’

Facts, Fallacies and Fantasies about Jewish Power

By Will Banyan Copyright © 30 August 2012

According to their strongest critics, conspiracy theorists (or conspiracists) are, at best “harmless lunatics and amusing eccentrics”, but at worst, they resemble “the totalitarian immersion of cult members into herd thinking.” The litany of conspiracist sins, as compiled by Professor Stephen Plaut from the University of Haifa, is long:

Conspiracism feeds on misrepresentation of facts, outright lying, and tendentious twisting of unrelated factoids into a grand theory. Conspiracists take the logical fallacy, the non sequitur, to incredible heights. They are notoriously prone to rearrangement of their perception of reality based upon the mere power of suggestion.

Chip Berlet, an American researcher long associated with the Southern Poverty Law Center, also charges conspiracists with utilising “common fallacies of logic in analyzing factual evidence to assert connections, causality, and intent that are frequently unlikely or nonexistent.” More colourfully, Canadian journalist Jonathan Kay, in his book Among the Truthers (2011), asserts that all conspiracy theorists share the common trait of having “spun out of rationality’s ever-weakening gravitational pull, and into mutually impenetrable Manichean fantasy universes of their own construction.” Of course, neither Professor Plaut, nor Mr Berlet, nor even Mr Kay can be considered disinterested observers when it comes to the apparent dangers posed by conspiracism. But that does not invalidate their essential observation about the fallacies and fantasies that populate the conspiracist sphere.

One of the common fallacies often employed by conspiracists is the “straw man”, which is defined by Wikipedia as:

an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position. To “attack a straw man” is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the “straw man”), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.

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The ‘Israel Lobby’ Controversy: Elite Factionalism or Elite Conspiracy Theory?

by Will Banyan © 2008

Author’s Note: This is an extended and slightly revised version of an article which originally appeared in PARANOIA (issue 44) Spring 2007.

The publication in March 2006 of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, as a working paper for the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and as an article in the London Review of Books, aroused much comment in the American media and academia—most condemnatory. The authors, academics John Mearsheimer from the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt from Harvard University, have had their work widely dismissed as being both conspiratorial and anti-Semitic.

“[T]his paper is anti-Semitic” declared Professor Eliot Cohen from Johns Hopkins University, in the Washington Post (April 5, 2006); nor was it “research in any serious sense,” claimed Marty Peretz in The New Republic, but “the labor of obsessives with dark and conspiratorial minds.” According to Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, the authors shared with white supremacist David Duke “the same interest in vilifying Jewish leaders and spouting conspiracy theories about Zionist plots against American interests” (Dershowitz, p.41). Even Stephen Zunes, a left-wing critic of U.S. support for Israel, implied that in subscribing to an “exaggerated claim of Jewish clout,” Mearsheimer and Walt were “flirting with anti-Semitism” (Zunes 2006b, p.15).

At the same time, there were some observers who were clearly overjoyed at the appearance of The Israel Lobby as it seemed to confirm their belief that the U.S. is, in fact, ruled by a “Zionist Occupation Government,” or some other sinister Jewish cabal. David Duke, for example, praised it for having “told the truth about the proverbial gorilla in the room: the Zionist lobby and its enormous political and media power” (Duke 2006). The Israel Lobby, claimed a commentator for Rense.com, left “absolutely no doubt that Israel not only controls our entire government, our Pentagon, our foreign policy and our political parties, but our media as well” (Lang 2006).

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