antisemitism

Deny/Refute

Here’s SWP member, Sean Wallis, on the UCU Activists List:

I came back from Congress (and an academic conference at the weekend, so I did not see any emails) to find myself accused of anti-semitism by people imputing racist ideas to me that I
* do not hold,
* find utterly abhorrent, and
* have spent my lifetime opposing.

The person who posted the accusation anonymously did not ask me what the remarks she alleges I made meant. Instead she alleged anti-semitism by association, referring to a racist right-wing US conspiracy theory regarding the Lehmann Brothers that I was unaware of at the time, as an explanation of what I really ‘meant’ to say.

In other words, the anti-semitism in the chain of reasoning she claimed I advanced consisted of the views she imputed to me, not in any words that I said. 

I am not saying any more on this subject on the activist list, except
the following.

For the record, I utterly refute the allegation.

This is what Sean Wallis said:

One of these was Sean Wallis, UCL UCU branch secretary. He wanted to speak about how UCU should debate a boycott whether it’s legal or not. One of the threats he mentioned was from lawyers backed by those with “bank balances from Lehman Brothers that can’t be tracked down.”

Here is the conspiracy theory about Jews spiriting away billions from Lehman brothers explained in Haaretz. The lie has been doing the rounds on the internet for some time, and has appeared in the comments of newspapers and mainstream blogs. 

Sean Wallis, is the Senior Research Fellow, Survey of English Usage at UCL. He is a linguist. Yet he doesn’t understand the difference between “deny” and “refute“.

You “refute” a statement, when you show it to be in error.

You “deny” a statement when you merely assert that it is incorrect.

Wallis has merely denied that his “joke” was a reference to the racist hoax alleging that thieving Jews had sent $400 billion to Israel in advance of the collapse of Lehman Bros. He has not refuted my allegation at all. In fact, having complained that I did not ask him what he meant first, he has now clammed up altogether:

I am not saying any more on this subject on the activist list

Too right he isn’t. What could he say? That the statement was not about Jews at all, but rather about the “Zionists” who caused the collapse of Lehman Brothers by, er, spiriting  $400 billion to Israel?

Actually, what is he saying:

[she] did not ask me what the remarks she alleges I made meant

Is Sean Wallis denying having made the remarks? If so, he isn’t specifically saying that he made no such comment. However, the use of the word “alleges” implies that there is some doubt as to what he said. But, hang on. If Sean Wallis denying saying these words, then why should I have asked him what they meant? What light could he throw on the subject. 

This is known as “having your cake and eating it too”. 

Remember, this is Sean Wallis: a member of the Socialist Workers’ Party, which both toured around and then defended the outspoken antisemite, Gilad Atzmon.

This is all very reminiscent of the Jenna Delich affair, isn’t it? Delich was caught out reposting material, written by a extreme right wing nutter, that was sourced in one case from the website of David Duke, the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan.  And here is Sean Wallis on that sorry business:

Those who have made this allegation again and again have not produced a shred of evidence that contributors to the list endorse racist views. In the case of the witch-hunt directed at Jenna Delich, no evidence was produced that her inclusion of a link to a racist’s website was anything other than an honest mistake.

In Sean Wallis’ world, links to neo Nazi websites and the regurgitation of their antisemitic contents in public fora is never anything more than a misinterpretation, a coincidence or an error. 

Of course, if Sean Wallis wants to provide an explanation as to who those with  “bank balances from Lehman Brothers that can’t be tracked down” are, and how he came to hit on precisely the same filthy lie that antisemites have spread all over the world, I’m happy to print it. 

But I suspect that Sean Wallis will stick with his non-refuting denial.

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