Too bad for you

An Indymedia UK reader made the following post, pointing to this blog:

“Over the holiday period I have been doing a lot of reading on the net about the current crossroads Indymedia has found itself at with regard to anti semitism and the situation with Gilad Atzmon. I have felt uneasy with this debate from the begining with the use of consesus decision making being used as a reason to not hide Gatzmon’s writings. And I was pleased to see the following article on a blog which neatly encapsulates my thinking. It is entitled – What motivates the critics of Atzmon?”

followed by the text of this blog entry.

The post was instantly hidden, as it should have been under the Indymedia UK convention that discussion of editorial policy is to be done on the email list rather than the site itself. Not all Indymedia collectives have that policy, but it is stated policy for Indymedia UK, and was therefore followed through. No harm, no foul.

The poster wrote to the email list:

‘I made a post this morning to the newswire and was upset to see it hidden and to see the reason for the hiding given as, “non news/moderation issue/promotion of zionist blog intended to fuel trolling war”.

I do not consider I am contributing to any trolling war, in fact I am not sure I know what a trolling war is. Neither do I consider the blog in question to be Zionist. The blog was set up as far as I could see to give a balanced overview of the current debate concerning anti semitic posts on Indymedia and the way it is being dealt with by some of those charged with administering the site. It reflected the views I feel about the current debate and is fair comment on an important issue.

I regard this debate as being vital to the continuing future of Indymedia because unless it deals with it, sets clear rules for hiding and ensures all administrators abide by them irreparable damage will be done.’

The surprising reply from an Indymedia UK editor:

[Trolling war is] what your alter-ego Mike Cooperson does all the time – before that it was the fictitious IMC-GB and not to forget the equally fictitious IMC monitoring team – along with ex-IMCer all these have in common a history of lying about posts being hidden, emails being hidden etc etc etc.

The editor then shows that the email in question was sent from Belgium — for no particular purpose I can see — while failing to back up his assertion that the writer has an alter-ego named Mike Cooperson. Then the gracious closing:

“… Here’s hoping you step in front of a moving bus”

I will say here that I am sceptical that Mike Cooperston — a persistent poster for the last month on Indymedia UK — exists. If he does, good for him, and I hope he is able to attend the meeting. If he is merely a persona and is indeed trolling, he should get out of the way and stop wasting anyone’s time.

At that point, another email came in to the list, expressing similar concerns and calling out a particular editor.

Richard Jones’ email.

“I see that the post “No platform for racists (388702)” was today hidden by [editor].

As it is the same [editor] who has caused all the problems for IMC with this refusal to hide the racist posts of Gilad Atzmon it’s a bit bloody off for him to hide a post about it.

We all know that some of the admins have already walked away from IMC over this stuff and it should be wrong for [editor] to try and shut down discussion of this.

I have watched this entire event descend into farce already because of the way it has been handled and IMC needs a real rethink of how racists need to be dealt with when they post to the newsline.”

Note the Richard Jones email ended up not being posted to the mailing list, but instead sent to a wiki page at docs.indymedia.org. This wiki page is effectively a morgue; items posted there are not responded — publicly, at least — to by Indymedia UK editors. It’s something of a black hole, from which no signal returns. It is not the same as being ignored; it is only astonishingly nearly the same thing as being ignored.

Such a procedure sends a terrible message:

If you are a Jew, and you are offended by an anti-Semitic post on Indymedia UK, then too bad for you. True, many members of the Indymedia collective may agree with you that the post in question is anti-Semitic, and we are all against anti-Semitism in principle, but at the end of the day the post stays up: too bad for you.

If you are any Jewish Indymedia UK reader at all, too bad for you, because you’ll quickly discover that Indymedia UK in its current configuration simply will not fight anti-Semitism with anything resembling the energy it uses to fight other kinds of racism. Show it a racist post of any sort but one and watch the post disappear; show it an anti-Semitic post and watch it twist itself into unproductive knots for months on end like a great jungle snake writhing on hallucinogenics. And throughout the twisting and writhing, the anti-Semitic post says up, insulting Jewish readers racially and making an outrageous mockery of Indymedia UK’s claim to be anti-racist.

Rules are rules and rules must be obeyed, even if it means that Indymedia UK becomes a haven for posts that racially insult Jews. If you think that’s wrong, if you think that’s outrageous, if you think that’s contrary to the mission of Indymedia, too bad for you.

At the moment, it seems that the Indymedia UK collective is permanently divided. On one hand, there are those who see nothing to the issue but a pernicious campaign of “Zionist censorship” they will fight to the last. On the other hand, there are those members of the collective who watch in dismay, unable to do anything about it except perhaps walk away in regret — as some of them seem to have already done.

The collective is likely never to agree the question whether Atzmon is anti-Semitic. The logjam will endure indefinitely. And in that time, the posts many inside and outside Indymedia UK consider to be anti-Semitic will be well-protected and well-displayed. Indymedia UK should not expect gratitude from Jewish readers for that.

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