Anti Fascism,  Media

The Guardian Sacks Racist Blogger

It has been some time since I’ve read Comment is Free. I find it an unpleasant place. One of the nastiest posters is a woman who calls herself Tehrankid77, whose stock in trade is the peddling of Jewish world conspiracy theorising.

Here are a few of Tehrankid77’s low points from the last year or so:

Star of David has been flying inside number 10 since Thatcher days; you are just too blinded by your hatred for the Muslims to notice it.”

“The republicans have killed millions across the Middle East and elsewhere to please their darling Israelis, what more are you moaning about??? What else the American-Israeli gov’t in Washington can do to please their SUPER-masters in Tel Aviv??? More killings, may be this time they are after Persian bloods??? Who knows, these gods always get what they want…mindless, selfish, arrogant lot….”

~blerin9000… The Jewish State will not only survive, but thrive and prosper and expand! ~~

you are damn right, it [i.e the Jewish State] has already expanded … to the Rivers of Babylon and beyond the Kurdistan mountains!!!! the IDF criminals started building their killing bases the second “mission was accomplished“…their grandfatehrs, fathers and themselves have ALWAYS dreamed of Rivers of Babylon, where they shit down!!! And before you know it, we will have a United Stink of America’s warlords and criminal gangs relocating themselves to their own mini-america in the heart of Middle East (Iraq was just a start)

Two of these three posts were identified as racist, and removed by CiF.

I have been reluctant to join in the CiF-bashing: at least as far as the Guardian is being blamed for not removing racist material from the comments of its pieces. Although it is a newspaper, and is therefore reasonably well resourced, I don’t think there’s much you can do about bigots who haunt your website. Yes, sure, it doesn’t help that the Guardian solicits articles from activists and advocates for genocidal racist terrorist organisations: like Azzam Tamimi. That certainly does help to attract the scum. But at least they do try.

Comment is Free editor, Matt Seaton is quoted at length on the subject in the JC this week, in connection with a CST report on the use of the comment facilities of newspapers by racists, neo-Nazis and other extremists:

“We have a zero-tolerance policy on antisemitic postings or any other form of hate speech.

“We devote considerable and growing resources to moderating out site, with the help of our users.

“We do not tolerate any hate speech, and our moderators will delete comments which are antisemitic or Islamophobic or otherwise racist , as soon as they are reported to us or when we see them ourselves. That happens in minutes rather than hours or days.

“We are very well aware that one should never be complacent about antisemitism in the public domain or other forms of racist discourse and we work very hard to tackle the issue and to keep racist commenting off our site.”

I think that is broadly true.

The Guardian’s failings in this area are, I think, dwarfed by the Daily Telegraph: which hosts a Daily Telegraph branded blog, by the neo Nazi, ex-boyfriend of Tilda Swinton, and BNP GLA Leader, Richard Barnbrook, which he uses to… well you know what the BNP thinks. That’s pretty much what you get on Barnbrook’s Telegraph blog.

However, Barnbrook merely took advantage of a facility that the Telegraph was offering.

By contrast,  the Guardian – astonishingly – recently commissioned Tehrankid77 to write a CiF column.  Given that Guardian staff spend a good deal of its time deleting the racist and conspiracist ramblings of Tehrankid77, that seemed an extraordinary gaffe to have made.

Well, she has now been sacked. Here’s Matt Seaton:

Dear David

Thank you for drawing this to our attention.

On the main issue – of whether someone posting below the line in this manner should be allowed to post above the line – you are completely right. And our response is that we cannot have a comment contributor whose posting in threads has been subjected to moderation for antisemitism. We were not aware that this was an issue with Soraya Tehrani and we should have checked her commenting record much more carefully with the community management team, which is a separate department (physically, as well as administratively).

If we had been aware of Tehrankid77’s record of posting, we would never have accepted her as a contributor. We won’t be using her again.

Clearly, this raises an issue of vetting for us. While we like, on principle, to promote interesting posters to comment under a proper byline above the line (and there are many positive examples of this), we cannot afford to be naïve or careless about who this privilege is extended to. So, your complaint about this user has highlighted a weakness in our procedures and, in future, there will be closer coordination between the editorial and moderation team on the vetting of users’ posting records before accepting comment articles from them.

I hope this answers your points satisfactorily.

With best wishes,

Matt

(reproduced with Matt’s permission)

The point here, is one of racism blindness. Tehrankid77 will have struck somebody at CiF as a fabulous, well informed, articulate Iranian voice, who would be an ornament to the Guardian. It just won’t have registered with them that a good chunk of her postings are filled with bile about of Jewish world domination.

That’s kind of where we are today.

UPDATE

In discussing this affair, below, I’ve suddenly realised that this is the third time that the Guardian has had to dispense with the services of a columnist.

The first was Dilpazier Aslam, of “We Rock The Boat” fame. I’m told that one prominent – now decidedly part time – staffer knew that Aslam was a Hizb ut Tahrir activist and thought it rather thrilling. I don’t know if that’s true. However, they certainly didn’t check up on him, or notice the warning signs.

The second was Muslim Brotherhood activist, Faisal Bodi. He had previously written commissioned articles for the print edition of the Guardian, including one notable article about women’s refuges, where he described Sharia as a “sharp sword” and continued:

Take women’s refuges. Not without cause do we view them with suspicion and mistrust. Refuges tear apart our families. Once a girl has walked in through their door, they do their best to stop her ever returning home. That is at odds with the Islamic impulse to maintain the integrity of the family. Instead of being a kneejerk response, we want refuges to be last resorts, where victims can turn after all efforts to resolve the dispute have been exhausted.

Because they are founded on the assumption that religion is responsible for women’s misery, some refuges are inherently Islamophobic. One refuge in the Midlands is currently the subject of an industrial tribunal because it sacked a Muslim worker who had distributed religious literature. Muslim refuge workers report the preponderance of homosexuality among residents and staff.

Nevertheless, they also missed the warning signs with Faisal Bodi, and had him back as a CiF blogger, where he wrote comment after comment.

What finally caused his sacking was that he made the mistake of calling Sunny from Pickled Politics a “coconut”. That’s right, a racist comment directed at a “brown person”, and the Guardian finally recognised as the mark of a bigot and a loon.

And, now there is a third one.

All three of them Muslim.

This is evidence of Islamophobia, but not in the way that some might think. The Guardian is not a paper that sets out to sack Muslim writers. Rather, it is a publication that believes that the essential Muslim is an angry, hateful ranter. It chooses such people, as columnists because – like Faisal Bodi – it regards those who do not behave in such a manner as “coconuts” or – in Seauaueumus Milne’s words, a “British neocon pinup boy

This is a tendency common to certain white liberals, Islamists, and out and out Islamophobes. They read a piece that, coming from a Christian, Jew,  athiest – even Hindu or Sikh – they’d find repellent. However, if it comes from a Muslim, they treat it as the mark of authenticity.

It is noble savagery.

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