Simon Kent reports: Being economical with the truth is a BBC speciality. After all it views the world through a prism of oh-so-trendy left-wing morality so massaging the truth into something more palatable to its own world perspective is, sadly, a given.
Viewers had another taste of the public broadcaster’s distorted views last night when BBC Two aired an hour-long documentary called Children of the Gaza War presented by chief international correspondent Lyse Doucett. She typified the truism that ‘neutral’ for a BBC reporter is left-of-centre for everyone else – Guardian readers excepted.
Doucett’s report was all pretty anodyne stuff and purported to show the Palestinian conflict through the eyes of children from both sides during and after the 50-day war last summer. Except something got lost in translation. That something was the truth.
Throughout the programme the word “Israelis” was substituted for “Jews” in the on-screen translation of interviews with Palestinian children. In one instance, a Gazan child says the “yahud” are massacring Palestinians. However the subtitles read: “Israel is massacring us”.
There were other examples where Palestinian children were routinely interviewed and used the word ‘yahud’ meaning Jew. BBC translators again insisted on using the word ‘Israelis’ instead. Read the rest of this entry »
‘I flew the flag in London’s gay pride parade because Isis is deserving of mockery and disrespect. I never thought CNN would think it was real’
Paul Coombs writes: I spent the morning of London’s Pride parade hand-stitching dildos onto a flag.
I’d been using the sex-toy motif in my work before I made a flag of Isis out of them and brought it to the march. Previously, I’ve attached dildos onto postcards from each country where homosexuality is still illegal to point out that the laws of these places regards its gay residents as mere sex objects.
The decision to make the flag was a simple one: a sense of outrage at Isis’s brutal advance across North Africa, Libya, Syria and Iraq. Medieval ideologies and barbarism were being spread and recorded
through that most modern of expressions, social media, with that flag ever-present. It has become a potent symbol of brutality, fear and sexual oppression. If I wanted to try and stimulate a dialogue about
the ridiculousness of this ideology, the flag was key.
It was important that I didn’t try to replicate the writing on the flag, because the words and their subject – Islam – are not the target. But if I showed as little respect to this flag as Isis shows to the religion and people they claim to represent so that when people saw it they would think, “dildos”? Would that be a crazy idea?
The Pride festival is a pure celebration of the finest aspects of humanity: of tolerance, togetherness, acceptance and liberation, the polar opposite of what Isis stands for. If there was anywhere where my flag had a voice, it was there. And I had an invitation to march in the parade with a friend involved with “Alien Sex Club”, an art project exploring the HIV syndemic by John Walter. Read the rest of this entry »
For the Times Literary Review, Robert Irwin writes: The title Reading Darwin in Arabic notwithstanding, most of the men discussed in this book did not read Charles Darwin in Arabic. Instead they read Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, Ernst Haeckel, Herbert Spencer, Thomas Huxley, Gustave Le Bon, Henri Bergson and George Bernard Shaw in European or Arabic versions. They also read popularizing accounts of various aspects of Darwinism in the scientific and literary journal al-Muqtataf (“The Digest”, 1876–1952). The notion of evolution that Arab readers took away from their reading was often heavily infected by Lamarckism and by the social Darwinism of Spencer. Darwin’s The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection was published in 1859, but Isma‘il Mazhar’s translation of the first five chapters of Darwin’s book into Arabic only appeared in 1918.
For a long time, the reception of Darwinism was bedevilled by the need to find either neologisms or new twists to old words. As Marwa Elshakry points out, there was at first no specific word in Arabic for “species”, distinct from “variety” or “kind”. “Natural selection” might appear in Arabic with the sense “nature’s elect”. When Hasan Husayn published a translation of Haeckel, he found no word for evolution and so he invented one. Tawra means to advance or develop further. Extrapolating from this verbal root, he created altatawwur, to mean “evolution”. Darwiniya entered the Arabic language. Even ‘ilm, the word for “knowledge” acquired the new meaning, “science”. With the rise of scientific materialism came agnosticism, al-la’adriya, a compound word, literally “the-not-knowing”.
[Robert Irwin is the author of “Visions of the Jinn: Illustrators of the Arabian Nights” (Studies in the Arcadian Library) and “Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, mystics and the sixties” both available at Amazon]
Theories about evolution had circulated widely in Britain and France from the late eighteenth century onwards. In the nineteenth century the work of Georges Cuvier on the reconstruction of creatures from fossil remains and of Charles Lyell on the geological evidence for the great age of the world and its slow transformation had prepared the ground for consideration of Darwinism.
Daniel W. Drezner writes: Until yesterday, Elizabeth O’Bagy was a senior analyst at the Institute for the Study of War and an increasingly prominent expert on the Syrian rebel groups. Then the institute announced the following:
The Institute for the Study of War has learned and confirmed that, contrary to her representations, Ms. Elizabeth O’Bagy does not in fact have a Ph.D. degree from Georgetown University. ISW has accordingly terminated Ms. O’Bagy’s employment, effective immediately. Read the rest of this entry »