Author: Jamie Palmer

Glenn Greenwald: Fascism’s Fellow Traveller

“When Glenn Greenwald castigates the dead Charlie Hebdo cartoonists for racism,” the writer Sam Harris observed recently, “he’s not only proving that he’s a moral imbecile; he’s participating in a global war of ideas over free speech – and he’s on the wrong side of it.” Back in April, the short story writer Deborah Eisenberg took a rather different view. In her letter to PEN’s executive director Suzanne Nossel, Eisenberg included Greenwald on a shortlist of people she considered worthier of PEN’s annual Freedom of Expression Award for Courage than the dead and surviving Charlie Hebdo staff. Unlike the slain cartoonists, she wrote of her recommendations, “their courage has been fastidiously exercised for the good of humanity.” All things considered, this was an extravagant claim to make on behalf of Greenwald’s valour and integrity, particularly at Charlie Hebdo’s expense. Greenwald – formerly of Salon and the Guardian and now co-founding editor at Pierre Omidyar’s campaigning blog, the Intercept – is most famous as the journalist to whom rogue NSA employee Edward Snowden leaked a vast cache …

The Shame and the Disgrace of the Pro-Islamist Left

By supporting fundamentalists, the Left simply chooses one camp in a political struggle without acknowledging it. Maryam Namazie, a trenchant campaigner against religious fundamentalism, made this observation last week during a fraught lecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. It would turn out to be pertinent. Namazie’s appearance at Goldsmiths was causing trouble before the event had even begun. The day before the event, the university’s Islamic Society (ISOC) let it be known that they considered Namazie to be a “renowned Islamophobe” whose presence on campus would cause ISOC members to feel “extremely uncomfortable”, and constitute a violation of their “safe space”. Such a reaction was tiresome but unsurprising. Goldsmiths’ ISOC is, after all, an Islamist-led organization, dominated by people who hold precisely the kind of beliefs Namazie spends her days attacking. When expressions of Islamist self-pity failed to get her disinvited, ISOC members resorted to childish disruption of the talk itself, giggling, talking, heckling, and interfering with her power-point as she tried to speak. The video of the event (which can be seen here) makes …

What Drives Academics Who Oppose Free Speech?

One of the more dispiriting features of the current debate over the limits – or even the permissibility – of academic freedom is the eagerness with which some academics take the side of the censors. In the wake of the row that erupted when Germaine Greer was invited to speak at Cardiff University, a particularly fascinating example of this suicidal trend appeared on an Australian website called the New Matilda, written by one Dr. Timothy Laurie, described as “a Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne”. Laurie maintains that the student-led movement to disinvite Greer must be supported, not in the interests of good taste or some elastic definition of student ‘safety’, but in the interests of education itself. Generous to a fault, Laurie allows that Greer is “free to write books” but he also announces that, “the journalistic conception of free speech cannot be applied to universities”. This, we are told, is because universities exist to disseminate truth and Greer is a peddler of falsehood. Greer’s ideas about trans issues and her …