Alan Sugar has tweeted a photoshopped picture showing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn alongside Hitler, behind a craven attempt to pass it off as ‘jest’. We will not reproduce the vile image here.
Sugar’s disgraceful tweet prompted an avalanche of outrage, with even John Mann – who is not given to restraint in his accusations – remonstrating with him and urging him to remove it and apologise:
Sugar anything but sweet
Sugar’s unrepentant arrogance was clear in his response to a criticism from the OBE-holding honorary vice-Chair of the British Medical Association, Dr Kailash Chand:
Sugar is a disgrace – a role in the TV series ‘The Apprentice’ seems not to be Sugar’s only point of similarity to Donald Trump. But his tweet is the tip of a large, ugly iceberg.
He was not the first person to link Corbyn with Hitler on Saturday.
The CAA data – and a Hitler comparison in spite of it
On Friday, the SKWAWKBOX revealed exclusively that data collected by YouGov for the Campaign against Antisemitism – which has been among the vocal critics of Corbyn over the last week – showed that antisemitism has dramatically declined among Labour supporters since Corbyn became the party’s leader.
In spite or because of that revelation, the CAA put out a ridiculous video of its ‘Head of Political and Government Investigations’ comparing Labour under Corbyn with the emergence of the nazi party and Hitler.
The video is pathetic to the point of ridiculousness – but was a serious attempt to portray a lifelong peace and anti-racism activist with the murderer of millions of Jews and others.
Sugar’s ‘jest’ was not the only example of behaviour that ‘demeans’ and ‘damages the fight against antisemitism’.
This behaviour is especially vile because it seeks to exploit the legitimate concerns of the Jewish community about the serious dangers of antisemitism – and in doing so to attack a man so obviously not antisemitic that it risks undermining the credibility of genuine accusations of hatred against Jewish people.
And the tactic of attempting to portray those who challenge that narrative as antisemitic themselves makes it all the more despicable.
The attacks this week have been amplified by many of the very same right-wing outlets that, not too long ago, made political capital out of mocking the appearance of Labour’s Jewish leader and vilifying his refugee father:
Others have given unfettered voice to Corbyn’s critics, in spite of obvious deficiencies in their claims. One today even gave a platform for the risible Progress director Richard Angell to attack Corbyn for not controlling a Facebook group that the article even acknowledges has nothing to do with the Labour Party.
The human cost
Many people have reported depression, severe mental distress and even suicidal feelings as a result of the unprecedented and undeserved assault aimed at a leader who has given them hope of a change from the predations of the Tory government.
Many have reported feeling afraid to speak up in his defence because of the likelihood of one of a number of despicable troll accounts accusing them of antisemitism for daring to speak out against the attacks, inciting ‘dogpiling’ to discourage dissent from the prevailing narrative.
At the same time, the Tories have used it to distract from their own guilt about the ‘outing’ of a gay Muslim man for political gain, the unfolding saga of their involvement with Cambridge Analytica and the bitter hurts and humiliations they continue to inflict on the vulnerable people of this country.
This damage to those least able to bear it seems not to be an issue to many of those making the most noise – particularly those within the Labour Party who, ironically, have bleated about the ‘intimidation’ of being asked a question.
In addition, the determination of a few to perpetuate the narrative that Corbyn is bad or dangerous is such that they have labelled Jewish members and supporters who challenge it as ‘self-hating Jews’, fake Jews and even the loathsome ‘kapos’.
Sugar’s tweet and the CAA’s video – and much of the hyperbole this week over a six-year-old Facebook comment – carry clear risks, to the point that they can fairly be characterised as reckless.
There is a serious risk of incitement: that someone will use it as justification for physical action against Labour’s leader or members, just as the criminal who killed a Muslim man by vehicle attack had hoped for an opportunity to kill Corbyn, after right-wingers described Corbyn in terms of betrayal.
They also carry a clear risk to our Jewish citizens: that some right-wing fanatic – because in spite of the current narrative it is the right where most antisemitism lies – will exploit the current situation to perpetrate an individual attack or larger atrocity.
Those risks increase when hatred is fanned by hyperbolic language – as Labour knows only too well, having lost one of its MPs to a right-wing attack in the very recent past.
And by using the legitimate concerns of Jewish people as cover, a small number of individuals threaten to damage – as avowed opponent of antisemitism John Mann points out above – undermine the real fight against real antisemitism for the sake of political advantage.
The dangers and wrongs of the last week or so – the ridiculousness of the notion that one of our greatest and most committed fighters against hatred and racism is antisemitic and is encouraging antisemitism – risk damaging the Jewish community and the righteous fight against antisemitism.
They risk prolonging and deepening the harm done to our whole society and all our people of any religion and none. They put Jewish people, Jeremy Corbyn and others in physical danger – and they are already inflicting psychological harm on vulnerable people.
Those risks did not start with Alan Sugar’s disgusting, disgraceful tweet, nor with the CAA’s ridiculous video.
But it’s just possible that Sugar’s disgrace – by being so obviously and unequivocally vile and ridiculous – will serve to crystallise and expose a cynical exploitation of our Jewish citizens and their honest concerns for what it is.
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