Over recent months Gita Saghal has become something of a heroine for red baiters. Since her very public split with Amnesty International, she has popped up frequently to make dubious claims about the left, the human rights movement, and their connection with political Islam. “Here in Britain”, she said in one interview:
Political Islam and the left are allied. The Government, too, promotes fundamentalists.
Everyone is indifferent to the slaughter going on in the name of religion that is being opposed by human rights advocates, feminists, communists and trade unionists.
Having recently seen first hand the excellent work many socialists and communists have done in solidarity with those who rose up against the Iranian theocracy, I take less than kindly to her assertion that none of us give a shit.
Anyway Gita’s latest outpouring suggests that she is not just deluded about the politics of the left and the human rights movement, but is in fact rather going off the rails of reason.
In the past, she told us that Amnesty was risking its reputation by its association with Cage Prisoners. Now she goes further. Amnesty, she says, “has come to resemble the forces that it has done so much to oppose”. I mean, seriously. As Cloggie puts it, Amnesty has yet to disappear torture and murder people.
She accuses western human rights movement of supporting islamist “programmes of social control such as promotion of the hijab”. Yet the link she posts to support this claim shows nothing of the sort. It simply demonstrates that Human Rights Watch opposed France’s state ban on Hijabs in schools. It would seem pretty obvious that opposing a state ban on something does not amount to “promoting” it. I would support Nick Griffin’s right to speak his mind; that doesn’t mean I support the content of his speeches. You would think that somebody boasting three decades of experience as a human rights activist could make a basic distinction between supporting the right to do something and positively promoting it. I will leave it for readers to decide whether Gita is disingenuous or just thick.
But it gets worse. “The actions of human rights activists”, Gita says, “mirror those of governments from Chechnya to the UK. Recruit former insurgents or fundamentalists and subcontract them to provide surveillance and control over the mass of the population.” Really, what possible response is there to this except for “what the fuck”? I really that hope amnesty do not send an insurgent round to look through my letter box any time soon. In fact i could really do without it.
I would have thought that the “decents” would have been a bit embarrassed by their star spokeswoman’s crackpot conspiratorial crap. Yet they have proudly republished it in full.
And so my friends, it appears that years after the Euston Manifesto was launched with promises of a new, better kind of left, the movement has whittled down to this: a mildly entertaining website in which any blotches of red and swamped by huge dollops of red-baiting. And a star spokeswoman who appears embarassingly divorced from both reason and reality, as she peddles the same old line about lefties and fundamentalists.