Narcissism is forever: Tony Blair has a new job.
Over at The Spectator, Bruce Anderson rejoices:
A spectre is haunting the world: the spectre of Tony Blair’s ego. Mr Blair has wasted eight years pretending to solve the problems of the Middle East. He has also wasted millions of pounds, and achieved nothing. He has exposed his own total ignorance of history and his megalomaniac overestimation of his own powers. Throughout this time, he also earned large sums on the American lecture circuit, speaking to rich audiences so naive as to believe he is someone worth listening to. Rarely has shallowness been so profitable.
And the new job?
The Guardian explains:
Tony Blair is to take on a new role tackling antisemitism by assuming the chairmanship of a pan-European body that campaigns for stronger laws against extremism across the continent. . . .
Section 9 (Mass Media) is, in particular, worth a look.
(a) The Government shall ensure that public broadcasting (television and radio) stations will devote a prescribed percentage of their programmes to promoting a climate of tolerance, as per Section 8(f).
(b) (b) The Government shall encourage all privately owned mass media (including the printed press) to promote a climate of tolerance, as per Section 8(f).
(c) The Government shall encourage all the mass media (public as well as private) to adopt an ethical code of conduct, which will prevent the spreading of intolerance and will be supervised by a mass media complaints commission.
The European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (which. despite its name and the impression left by Tim’s article, is not an ‘official’ body of any sort) does — how kind — note that this whole media supervision thing is “a delicate matter.” But have no fear: “There is no intention to censor the media. The media complaints commission is supposed to consist of independent persons, but it has to be set up by – and report to – the media themselves, rather than the Government.”
That will work splendidly I’m sure.
Anderson describes Blair as an “intellectual coward.” He’s very far from that. Blair is, however, highly skilled in the darker political arts. Holocaust denial is, it should not need saying, grotesque, but Blair’s campaign to make it illegal (which, incidentally, would be wrong: the antidote to such venom is to argue back) is really an attempt to put SS uniforms on those opposed to his assault on free speech.
And there’s a deeper dishonesty at work here. Europe still has, alas, parties that conjure up memories of the Nazi past (I’m thinking, in particular, of Greece’s Golden Dawn and Hungary’s Jobbik) but for the most part they skulk on the political fringe. In today’s Europe the most menacing anti-Semites tend to be of more recent vintage, with a hatred inspired not by Mein Kampf, but by the politics of the Middle East and their understanding of Islam. To attempt to conflate this new wave of anti-Semitism with the old is dangerously misleading and remarkably dishonest.
The Guardian has a bit more on what Blair and his new associates want:
The council chaired by Blair believes it should promote education and ideas for legislation to confront extremists, leaving governments to deal with security and intelligence. Outlining a set of legislative proposals, they write: “The legislation includes giving greater power to judiciaries to prosecute hate speech, lowering the barriers to what constitutes incitement to violence, making Holocaust denial illegal, entrenching state funding for religious institutions into law, creating clearer definitions of what is racist and antisemitic, and securing educational programmes about tolerance in national legislation.”
Greater power to judiciaries . . . lowering the barriers . . . creating clearer definitions . . . securing educational programmes.
How those bland words flow.