‘Humiliating’ attack on London mayor in pro-imperialist US magazine

Francis Wheen“Bad news for London’s Mayor: he has a humiliating cameo role in the latest issue of America’s most venerable Left-wing journal, Dissent. In an illuminating account of how the remnants of the radical Left in Britain have aligned themselves with fundamentalist Muslims, it mentions Ken Livingstone’s embrace of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Qatar-based cleric who supports homophobia, suicide-bombers in Palestine and the subordination of women. For the benefit of American readers who haven’t heard of Livingstone, the author describes him as ‘Galloway-lite’. Even before Celebrity Big Brother, this would have been pretty rude. Since the recent televised shenanigans, it is surely the most wounding insult in the political lexicon.”

Francis Wheen writes in the Evening Standard, 31 January 2006

Venerable is defined in the dictionary as “impressive by reason of age”. However, while Dissent magazine is certainly old, its politics will impress only those “left-wing” neocons – such as Nick Cohen, Norman Geras and the chaps at the Harry’s Place blog – who believe that US imperialism is a force for progress.

Dissent was founded in 1954 by Irving Howe, a former member of Max Shachtman’s Independent Socialist League, but it has moved a long way from its origins in the Trotskyist movement. These days, it happily publishes articles defending (from the standpoint of the “decent left”) the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. If a magazine like that featured a favourable article on Livingstone, he’d really have something to worry about.

The author of the article that so impressed Francis Wheen is Shalom Lappin, who also has an article in the first issue of Engage journal, in which he claims that the welcome given to Qaradawi at City Hall was an example of “the rise of a new anti-semitism in the UK”. Not only that, but Livingstone’s relationship with Qaradawi is just one component in an overall strategy that aims to win public sympathy for Palestinian suicide bombers and “curry favour with radical Islamist groups”. Criticism from fruitcakes like this is hardly going to “humiliate” anyone.