Cage’s unsavoury nature became undeniable

James Bloodworth got into a discussion with an Amnesty volunteer last week on the question of whether or not it’s a good idea to collaborate with groups or people who stand for bad things, with Cage being the example of standing for bad things. That’s a difficult and unavoidable question for all movements and campaigns and groups, because there are always going to be differences, and it’s not generally easy to know where to draw the line.

But Cage has made it easier now…

My own argument was simply to ask whether it would be acceptable to partner with an organisation of the British far-right in a similar fashion. Would it really be kosher to share a platform with Nick Griffin simply because of ‘common ground’ over his and  our opposition to, say, the war in Iraq?

Of course not, and I suspect my interlocutor now realises this – ever since Cage’s unsavoury nature became undeniable yesterday afternoon, his tweets defending the group have mysteriously disappeared. Or not so mysteriously; for who really wants to be on the record publicly defending a group which referred to Mohammed Emwazi (aka Jihadi John) as a ‘beautiful man’?

Yes, that makes it a whole lot easier.

Nor can yesterday’s Cage press conference be defended on the basis of putting Mohammed Emwazi’s actions in their proper ‘context’. Contemplate for a second how silly (and how sinister) it would have been to talk about the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik in a similar fashion – not as a ruthless killer but as a misunderstood victim of the system. As a friend put it this morning, the ‘MI5 made me do it’ narrative is also an insult to all of those who fall foul of the immigration system yet do not resort to beheading people.

Many who ought to have known better have coddled Cage in recent years and will no doubt feign surprise at news that the group isn’t so much a human rights group as an Islamist activist outfit. Well I’m sorry to say this but: we told you so.

But there are still people who think Islamist activism is more or less the same kind of thing as human  rights activism. I can never really understand how they manage to think that, but they do.

One hopes that after yesterday’s grim spectacle Amnesty will distance itself from Cage, just as it would any other group that was so closely aligned with (and so ready to make excuses for) dangerous extremists.

There’s that word again. I don’t care that they’re “extremists”; I care that they’re theocratic murderers and rapists and enslavers and colonialists of the most bloodthirsty kind. If they were “extremist” Quakers for instance, we wouldn’t have this problem.

But that’s a quibble. On the larger point, James is quite right.


  1. Athywren, Social Justice Weretribble says

    You’re only more forgiving of extremist Quakers because of your, frankly, unethical pro-porridge agenda. Damn oat apologists won’t be satisfied ’til our rivers run creamy brown!

  2. Bluntnose says

    Some evidence that Amnesty are distancing themselves from Cage now (interview with Saghal on R4 this am), which is a relief even if they are doing it with extremely bad grace. They will not quite say that Cage is what Saghal has long claimed it is, but they are least admitting that they have been working with them and now seem to suggest that they won’t in future (because of the current ‘climate’ or something).

  3. johnthedrunkard says

    My suspicion is that the ‘mainstream,’ ‘progressive’ Left has never recovered from the days when Syria and Egypt became Soviet client-states.

    Like the signing of the Hitler-Stalin pact, this was a moment when all previous considerations of moral and political judgment were tossed overboard. Islamism, anti-Semitism, and Pan-Arabism, were stamped ‘Progressive,’ and seem to have remained so ever since.

  4. says

    @3: And what does that laughably simpleminded blithering about leftist thought have to do with anything? Who, exactly, allegedly did the “stamping” here — progressives, or their enemies?

  5. RossR says

    My impression was that Amnesty shacked up with CAGE largely because Saghal warned them not to when they (of course) sacked her for speaking out. Some people will go to any lengths to avoid conceding that a woman might be right.

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