Another Jimmy Savile “Vote Conservative” Hoax Image Goes Viral

There may be a number of reasons not to vote Conservative in the next UK election, but “Jimmy Savile supported the Conservative Party” is not one of them – especially when fake images are brought into the argument. Two examples that are being widely disseminated on social media are shown below.

The first is Savile wearing a t-shirt in 1985, on which is written “Don’t get your fingers burnt”; apparently, the slogan related to a government straw and stubble disposal campaign. This image has now been doctored so that the t-shirt now says “Vote Conservative” and bears the Conservative Party’s old torch logo. The doctored image also carries the mysterious words “Sket Chag” in the bottom-right corner, barely visible.

The second picture is of Savile with a van – a “California” made by Volkswagon, apparently published by the car-marker as an advertisement. This van has been doctored into a Conservative Party election campaign vehicle. That one has been around for a while, and was noted as a hoax by the Daily Telegraph in early 2016.

There are, of course, genuine photographs of Savile with Conservative politicians, most notably Ted Heath and Margaret Thatcher. However, such photos reflect Savile’s status as a celebrity campaigner and his access to government; they do not indicate that Savile was publicly aligned with the Conservative Party (Savile was later photographed with Tony Blair). Nor, despite frequent postings to conspiracy websites, do they demonstrate that these politicians must have been involved with child sex abuse.

Savile has been linked to claims of “VIP Westminster abuse” by three individuals:

1. Operation Midland’s “Nick” says that he was abused by a group that included Savile, and that Savile was “sadistic”. Harvey Proctor was astonished and exasperated to be asked whether he had known Savile.

2. Jimmy Savile’s nephew Guy Marsden spoke affectionately of his uncle following his death in 2011; however, two years after the broadcast of the Savile allegations in 2012, he suddenly decided to relate how he had found his uncle among paedophiles after running away to London. Then, after allegations were made against Ted Heath in 2015, Marsden added that the group had apparently included Heath.

3. The American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones says that according to his “sources”, Savile would procure girls for Heath, and that these children would be ritually sacrificed in front of him.

Documentary Stirs New Interest in Schøyen Collection’s “Tower of Babel stele”

Also: Mystery of two provenance stories

From the website of the Smithsonian Channel:

SECRETS: SEASON 4: EPISODE 1
TOWER OF BABEL

Inside the legendary city of Babylon in modern-day Iraq lie the remains of a vast structure, which ancient records suggest was the Tower of Babel. Is it possible that this biblical stairway to heaven actually existed? Experts think it did, and thanks to satellite technology and new discoveries, they have pinpointed exactly where the legendary tower once stood, and what it looked like. Join us as we revisit the inspiration for one of the strangest stories in the Bible, and then recreate the spectacular skyscraper in all its glory.

The programme includes discussion of a seventh/sixth-century BCE stone stele that depicts E-temen-anki, the ziggurat of Babylon as rebuilt by Nebuchadnezzar II. This site has long been identified as the model for the Bible’s Tower of Babel, but the stele’s appearance on the show has inspired some excited reports on Christian media websites: “Scientists Discover Irrefutable Evidence Tower of Babel Was Real” (Charisma News); “Evidence for Bible’s Tower of Babel Discovered” (Christian Post); “Stone Tablet Believed to Confirm Tower of Babel” (WND); and so on.

These headlines are all over-stated. The former existence of the ziggurat has never been in doubt, and the site was excavated in the early years of the twentieth century. Further, although the site may have inspired the Biblical story, the story itself relates to a legendary structure that supposedly existed thousands of years earlier.

The stele is part of the Schøyen Collection (MS 2063), which is owned by a private Norwegian collector, Martin Schøyen. It is described in a 2011 book by Andrew George, Cuneiform Royal Inscriptions And Related Texts In The Schøyen Collection, although it was already known before this. George writes:

This extraordinary monument, popularly known as the Tower of Babel stele, has already been brought to the attention of scholarship and the wider public. As one of the Schøyen Collection’s most notable objects, a photograph of its face was early placed in the collection’s online checklist of manuscripts (www.schoyencollection.com/babylonianhist.htm), where it soon attracted comment (e.g. Van De Mieroop 2003: 264). The photograph has been reproduced several times in print, in both academic and popular publications (Schwemer 2005: 16, Montero 2005: 216, André-Salvini 2008: 229), and my drawing of it has already appeared in a popular book on early cities (Levy 2008: 31).

…The ziqqurrat of Babylon has fascinated many generations of antiquarians, from those romantically attracted to the notion that it was the Tower of Babel to those concerned with the detailed reconstruction of the cultic topography of Marduk’s sanctuary. 

This 2011 publication caught the interest of the Daily Mail, which ran a piece at the time under the headline “One of the Earliest Drawings of the Tower of Babel found on Ancient Stone Tablet”.

An inscription on the stele states that Nebuchadnezzar “mobilized [all] countries everywhere” for the construction project, and the current Schøyen Collection webpage for the object links this to the Bible story:

Obviously all the tens of thousands of workers speaking different languages, could not communicate with each other, and this caused a total confusion at this huge building project, which lasted 43 years. Neither the Babylonian gods nor Yahweh needed to come down from heaven to interfere and cause language confusion. And most importantly, the Jews taken into captivity in 586 BC after destruction of Jerusalem, were there in Babylon and observed the building of the Tower and the confusion. So when the Genesis text was composed by the Jews during the Babylonian exile and after return to their homeland in 539 BC, this down to earth chaotic building story had to be put in a theological context, and hence the present text in Genesis 11:1-9.

George endorses this (somewhat speculative) theory in an interview for the Smithsonian Channel show.

The webpage that is cited in George’s 2011 book is no longer active, and instead redirects to another part of the Schøyen Collection website. However, a quote from the lost webpage has been preserved on some other sites, and also appears in some academic sources:

The stele was found in a special hiding chamber, broken into 3 parts in antiquity, at Robert Koldewey’s excavations of the site of the Tower of Babel in 1917. Its importance was immediately recognised. A photograph was taken with 3 archaeologists standing next to the stele. With the imminent danger of war breaking out in the area, they decided to rescue it, and each archaeologist carried one part out of the war zone. One part was taken to Germany, one part to Jordan and then London, the third part to U.S.A.

This story appears to be alluded to in the Smithsonian Channel documentary; in a preview clip, a (rather bombastic) narrator explains that the stele “was discovered in Babylon over a century ago. Unbelievably, no one realized how important it was until Professor Andrew George, an expert in ancient texts, brought its faint carvings back to life”.

Oddly, however, this somewhat romantic story is no longer present anywhere on the Schøyen Collection website, and it is flatly contradicted in George’s book. George is certain that Koldeway had no knowledge of the stele, and he notes “the complete silence of nineteenth and twentieth-century archaeological records in regard to the stele”. George suggests that it was probably removed from Babylon during antiquity to some other site, perhaps Susa, and he concludes:

The stele, if it was also taken to Susa, clearly evaded discovery by [Jacques] de Morgan and subsequent excavators, but could have been found by local people in an interval between expeditions or after scientific exploration of the site ceased. Or it could have come from some other site where Babylonian antiquities were hoarded.

So how exactly did it come into Schøyen’s hands (the top part, showing the image but not the inscription, was apparently first exhibited in 1997, according to the current webpage), and where did the incorrect provenance story involving Koldewey and a photograph with “3 archaeologists” come from? It should be noted that the Schøyen Collection is controversial, with allegations that some items in the collection amount to “tainted cultural property”.

Tommy Robinson Confuses Contempt of Court with Journalism

From Kent Live:

Controversial political activist Tommy Robinson has been arrested for contempt of court after attempting to interview four men on trial for raping a 16-year-old girl in Thanet.

Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, who took on the alias Tommy Robinson during his stint as leader of the English Defence League (EDL), was warned by police outside Canterbury Crown Court on Monday (May 8).

As the police descended down on his home early this morning (May 10), Robinson took to twitter to say the charges related to “attempted journalism.”

…A spokesperson for Kent Police said: “On Wednesday, officers attended an address in Luton, Bedfordshire, and arrested a 34-year-old man for contempt of court…”

…Robinson set up his own media venture, The Rebel, which films confrontations with alleged Muslim criminals.

That last part is slightly inaccurate: The Rebel is a Canadian media outlet run by Ezra Levant, who employs Robinson as a “contributor” (in the US, Rebel contributors include Jack Posobiec, who helped to promote “Pizzagate” conspiracy theories and who is currently in the news in relation to the “Macron leak” story).

There have been two main strands to Robinson’s “reporting” at The Rebel  confrontations with critics, and appearances outside court buildings during trials involving groups of men who have been accused of raping young girls; Robinson is exclusively interested in cases in which the defendants are men of Muslim heritage. As well as Canterbury, Robinson has shown up outside trials in Huddersfield and Oxford.

Robinson, of course, wants the public to believe that Muslim crimes are being covered up by a complicit media on behalf of a corrupt establishment, which is why he says he has been arrested simply for “journalism”. Ezra Levant, meanwhile, has connected the arrest to Robinson’s advocacy on behalf of a rape complainant in Sunderland, suggesting that police have acted because they have been “embarrassed” by Robinson’s reporting.

However, videos of Robinson’s “attempted journalism” in this area have for the most part consisted of him goading and abusing defendants as they enter the courts, and denouncing their friends and supporters for “defending” their crimes by asserting their innocence.

Obviously, this is legally problematic. In the UK, there are strict laws about what can be reported during a live trial, and one of the most basic rules is that a defendant should not be declared guilty in a media statement before a verdict has been reached. (1) Confronting defendants (and possibly witnesses) outside of a court is even more egregious, as it is likely to affect the composure of those who are about to give evidence. In the Canterbury case, the defendants also include one individual who is a juvenile and who as such cannot be named in the media – and it is doubtful that Robinson would have been mindful of this restriction in his filming.

Footnote

(1) Some fringe sites have clouded the issue by conflating Robinson’s videos with an old case from 2013, in which a man named Mohammed Karrar and his associates were jailed for “rape and trafficking” in Oxford.

Northumbria Police Respond to “Social Media Reporting” on Sunderland Rape Allegation

From the website of Northumbria Police:

Northumbria Police has released a statement in relation to social media reporting on an attack that happened in Hendon [in Sunderland] last year.

Chief Supt Ged Noble, the Southern Area Commander at Northumbria Police, said:

“Reporting on social media about a complaint of a serious assault in Peel Street Hendon last year has grossly misrepresented the facts… On receiving the complaint, Northumbria Police made early arrests and conducted an extensive investigation. Officers sensitively gained the complainant’s recollection of the event, secured CCTV footage, interviewed independent witnesses and obtained DNA and other forensic samples.

“The CPS took the decision that no action should be taken, in accordance with the evidential test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

“The complainant has been informed of her right to appeal that decision… It is disappointing that the victim is now having to endure a situation where the case she was involved in is being subjected to entirely misleading reporting, based on unfounded information, via social-media outlets…”

The “serious assault” is actually an allegation of rape. Last September, it was reported that a young woman had awoken “with cuts and bruises”at a strange address after a night out, and that six men had been arrested; a few weeks later, a fuller account of the allegations in the Daily Mail revealed that the suspects were “a gang of six migrants from Iraq, Syria and Bahrain”. The Mail report also had details of a “far-right” protest march “involving the Sunderland Defence League”, during which the property had been attacked and two unconnected Asian men assaulted.

More recently, the allegations have been publicised by former EDL leader Tommy Robinson via Ezra Levant’s Canadian Rebel Media website, which now employs Robinson as a contributor. However, contrary to Northumbria Police, the complainant does not seem be “enduring” the attention – instead, she has (informally – see update below) waived her right to anonymity, given an interview to Robinson, and appears to be actively involved in marches demanding “Justice for Chelsey”. According to what she told Robinson, a rape exam “uncovered two counts of semen, one of them inside her body”, and it is further alleged that police failed to speak to a witness who saw the suspects attempting to restrain the complainant as she fled the property in a distressed state.

Robinson used his recent appearance on the Daily Politics Show to draw attention to the case, citing a web address that has been registered by Levant and that redirects to a relevant page on The Rebel. Robinson believes that the police have failed to investigate properly because the suspects are Muslims, and his supporters complain that there is a media “blackout” in place.

Robinson has been keen to stress that the protests reflect the feelings of “the community” in Sunderland. Perhaps this is so, but the far-right appears to be an organising presence. In particular, an activist named Billy Charlton is heavily involved, and Robinson can seen posing with him here. It is difficult to believe that Robinson is unaware that Charlton has a history with Combat 18, and difficult to to understand why someone who frequently complains bitterly that he is mischaracterised as far-right would be willing to overlook such an association.

Further, this context of far-right involvement is probably why the media is wary of continuing with the story. The prior coverage in the Mail shows that there is no squeamishness about running a story that might stoke up resentment against migrants or Muslims, but for the most part not even other conservative outlets are touching it – Paul Joseph Watson is on board, but there is nothing even on Breitbart, while commentators who railed against old police failures to tackle “grooming” in places like Rotherham haven’t (so far as I have seen) said anything about it either.

UPDATE (16 May): The Sunderland Echo has a follow-up piece, which includes a quote from John Dilworth, acting Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North East. According to Dilworth, there was a “thorough investigation” by police, and that only one of the suspects was referred to the CPS. The Echo adds:

The Echo understands that the CCTV and forensic evidence gathered significantly undermined any assertion that the complainant had been kidnapped or drugged, or that multiple assailants had been involved in an attack of the nature being suggested online.

Further:

We have received numerous inquiries asking why we have not covered the gatherings that have taken place in Sunderland city centre.

However, the woman at the centre of the case has, on more than one occasion, contacted the newspaper to insist nothing is reported about the matter.

She said: “I’d like to make this clear that I do not give any permission for any stories to be wrote about the incident that happened in Peel Street several months back.”

The article goes on to explain that complainants in sexual allegations have legal anonymity, and that “the anonymity remains unless the alleged victim signs a written waiver allowing her anonymity to be lifted.”

This is curious: the complainant has clearly consented to her name and face being used for a public campaign, and she was happy enough to be identified by Robinson and Rebel Media. Yet she apparently hasn’t “officially” waived her right to anonymity, and she doesn’t want other media to write about the case. This is of some significance, given the claims of a “media blackout”.

Tommy Robinson and an “Angry, Hate-Filled” Canadian Media Organization

From Yahoo News:

Controversial right-wing activist Tommy Robinson has defended his actions after he confronted members of Muslim counter-extremist group Quilliam at their London headquarters.

Footage posted on YouTube earlier this week shows the former EDL leader attempting to confront Quilliam senior researcher Julia Ebner after alleging that she referred to him as a white supremacist in a newspaper article.

…He told the BBC [Daily Politics] show: ‘The doors were open, I was very polite. I walked in with one cameraman and asked a simple question…

‘In the last two weeks I’ve had to go to four different companies’ premises who have all run headlines that are complete lies.

‘This is about working class people at home who have been pigeonholed as extremist, as racist and as far right when they’re not. They’re genuine concerns and fears.’

Robinson’s account can be seen in full here, and Ebner’s article is available here. Qulliam famously led Robinson out of the English Defence League in 2013, although their relationship has since soured.

The confrontation at the Quilliam office (described as a “raid” by Quilliam’s Maajid Nawaz) has been posted online as part of a series of videos called “Troll Watch”, in which Robinson travels around challenging people who he claims have misrepresented him. Those receiving visitations have included my friend Tim Fenton, who had Robinson banging on his door and demanding explanations at 10 pm. Robinson subsequently accepted an invitation to talk to Peter Jukes (curator at Byline Media, which publishes some of Tim’s writings), although he did not respond to a specific scheduling proposal and no more has been heard from him on the subject.

It is true that terms such as “far-right” and “extremist” are often thrown around quite loosely and vaguely, when Robinson can come across on screen as reasonable and even personable.  However, although Robinson appears to have outgrown the controversial baggage of his EDL origins and brushes with the law (unexpectedly), his media profile and influence remain dependent on a corrosive political milieu that, in broad terms, can be described as “alt right”.

Specifically, Robinson is now a reporter for Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media, a Canadian media venture described in a recent profile by Jason Markusoff in Maclean’s as “the angry, hate-filled, unapologetic and surprisingly successful ‘Breitbart North'”. This first came to my attention when he appeared on the scene following the Westminster attack; presumably, Rebel Media are financing his “Troll Watch” travel and production costs.

Markusoff’s profile describes how Levant has built up the site over the past two years, and he relates a controversy involving one particularly notorious contributor, Gavin McInnes:

Behind The Rebel paywall last November, McInnes’s show featured a chummy interview with Richard Spencer, the white nationalist leader who coined “alt-right” and had days earlier ended a group conference with a “Hail Trump!” shout that some attendees met with Nazi salutes. In the segment, Spencer said they were having fun, being “a little provocative.” McInnes then asked: “I work for a Jew named Ezra Levant. How much does that make your blood boil?” Spencer replied: “It doesn’t make my blood boil at all. The fact that a Jew—he’s a neo-conservative, as I understand… the fact he has you on, you’re kind of pushing things in our direction in your own way. The fact I’m on here and we can talk respectfully, that’s great.”

Levant took a relaxed view of this, and a few weeks after the above was published he similarly laughed off as “some off-color comments” an anti-Semitic tirade by McInnes (on McInnes’s own website) that was praised by David Duke. Levant’s pose is that he trusts his contributors to make their own judgments, but, as Markusoff notes, he took a different approach when Michael Coren wrote a newspaper column that he didn’t like: Coren’s involvement with Rebel Media was promptly terminated. Coren – who interviewed Robinson sympathetically more than once for the now-defunct Sun-TV – has subsequently denounced Levant’s indulgence of McInnes, and Levant has responded by describing Coren as a “leftist”.

It is not a great surprise to see that Levant is currently on Twitter promoting a “fake news” doctored image which appears to show Emmanuel Macron sitting at the feet of Angela Merkel, or to see Levant using the alt-right insult “cuck” to describe its significance.

The point here is not to say that Robinson is “guilty by association” – the issue is not “guilt”, or how he sees himself, but his position within a political movement that regularly deploys smears and conspiracy theories to fearmonger and to whip up hate. Robinson uses Levant’s operation for exposure, and Levant’s operation gets new audiences because of Robinson’s pre-existing support base. The same goes for Robinson’s association with Paul Joseph Watson, Alex Jones’s British collaborator.

Robinson’s new position also allows him shift away from questions about his alliances as an activist by referring to his role as a journalist. Thus during his Daily Politics Show appearance, Robinson dealt with a question from Andrew Neil about Paul Golding and Britain First by stating that

I’ve reported on a Britain First demonstration, as I’ve reported on Muslim demonstrations. I’m now doing reporting for Rebel Media, so of course I’m going to go to these organisations.

However, this photo and commentary suggest that his association with BF is rather closer than that.

Daily Mirror Notes Conservative Candidate’s Faith-Healing Anecdote

From the Daily Mirror:

A Tory candidate has claimed she healed a man who was deaf in both ears through the power of prayer.

Kristy Adams, the Conservative candidate in Hove and Portslade, said she laid her hands on the man’s ears and said: “Be healed in Jesus’ name.”

When she removed her hands, she claimed, he could hear without his hearing aids.

…Mrs Adams, who was involved in Theresa May’s campaign against modern slavery, spoke of the healing at the King’s Arms Church in Bedford in 2010.

…The church is an offshoot of social justice organisation The King’s Arms Project, which was formed in 1989 by Tory peer Baroness Stroud.

More accurately, then, Adams claims that “Jesus healed a man who was deaf” – an important distinction, even though it is sometimes blurred by high-profile Christians who specialise in “faith-healings”.

Adams’s account of the healing appears in a 2010 audio interview on the church website, which the Mirror has re-posted. She says that it occurred while she was part of a Christian team witnessing at a New Age health expo in London in 2009; another member of the team was a Jewish evangelist named Stuart Cohen (“his passion is to see Jewish people come to God”), who “had hearing aids in both ears and I just thought that wasn’t right.” She prayed for Cohen’s healing, after which they were both amazed to discover that he could now hear without the hearing aids.

Christians of course generally believe that God can answer prayers, but when someone makes a strong claim to have witnessed or been part of a supernatural intervention, there is bound to be reasonable scepticism, which in turn may lead to doubts about judgement and credulity. Also, the very idea of faith-healing raises questions about the status of the disabled in certain strands of Christianity (why wasn’t it “right” for an evangelist to have hearing aids?), and giving people unrealistic hopes of healing can be unwise and cruel.

However, a sneering soundbite from a Labour figure that also appears in the Mirror article seems to me to be unwarranted:

Labour MP Paul Flynn said: “Egads. Can we get this on the National Health?

“I think they’ll probably make her the science spokesman if she does get elected for the Tory party. She seems up to their standard of unscientific science.

But all Adams has done is to relate an experience as she remembers it. She did not claim to have scientific proof, and the story – dredged up from 2010 – is not part of her election campaign or political profile. For outsiders, her belief about what happened may seem odd and exotic, but I wouldn’t use it as the basis for claiming that Adams is therefore “unscientific” or would be unable to be a competent MP. Like Adams, Flynn is also currently running for office (that “Labour MP” designation is not currently correct, as there are no MPs during election season), and mocking someone for believing that God can heal illness through prayer seems to be a pointless fight to pick.

The King’s Arms Church was also at the centre of controversy in 2010, when Philippa Stroud was standing for election. I discussed this here and here.

T.B. Joshua Announces Plan to Move to Israel

From the Lusaka Times:

…Nigerian Prophet T.B. Joshua [has] declared his intentions to leave Nigeria and relocate his ministry to the nation of Israel.

Joshua disclosed that he had just returned from the ‘Holy Land’ after holding meetings with three prominent Israeli mayors of Jerusalem, Tiberias and the Jordan Valley.

According to the cleric, they offered both land and facilities in an area around the biblical site of the Sea of Galilee for the Nigerian Pastor to organise meetings for international pilgrims.

…According to the cleric, the invitation to Israel came due to the growing popularity of Joshua’s television channel Emmanuel TV, which is especially known on YouTube.

…Statistics from the Nigerian Immigration Services revealed that six out of every ten travelers to Nigeria go to The SCOAN [Joshua’s church – the The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations], with countless local businesses and hotels in the area relying on the church activities for their sustenance.

The report comes with photos of Joshua shaking hands with Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat and with Idan Grinbaum, billed as “Jordan Valley mayor”  – the latter is actually head of the Emek HaYarden Regional Council, which covers western Galilee and the northern Jordan Valley (the Council is one of two entities that is also known as the “Jordan Valley Regional Council”; the other administers an area in the West Bank). Nigerian pilgrimage is big business, and carriers and handlers compete for contracts with the country’s Christian Pilgrim Commission.

Forbes has described Joshua as one of the “The Five Richest Pastors In Nigeria“, and his followers include politicians in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa. However, despite some endorsements from other pastors (such as the late neo-Pentecostal evangelist Bill Subritzky), he is a highly controversial figure who has been rejected by many of his peers for allegedly “mix[ing] Christianity with occult practices”. He also makes extravagant claims to supernatural predictive powers, which he purports to prove by releasing heavily edited videos of old sermons after disasters and such; and in November, there was mockery after he attempted to explain away a prophecy that Hilary Clinton would win the US election.

For some reason, though, God apparently failed to warn Joshua about the state of a guesthouse owned by his church – the building collapsed in 2014, killing dozens. Joshua tried to explain away the negligent construction by blaming a “strange aircraft” nearby.

Andrew Bostom and WND Mislead on Vaccines and Islam

(Amended post: I originally failed to notice that the WND author had conflated Somali-Americans with Somali refugees)

From WND:

An outbreak of measles is sweeping through a community of Somali refugees in Minnesota and the growing number of cases may be starting to test the limits of the Hennepin County healthcare system.

…Dr. Andrew Bostom, M.D., an academic internist specializing in general internal medicine who has also authored several books about the history of Islam, said Muslim communities often prove difficult to convince that vaccinations are appropriate for their children.

“The case against vaccinations is first an Islamic one,” he said, citing a 2011 article by Dr. Majid Katme, spokesman for the Islamic Medical Association in the United Kingdom.

“We are giving our innocent children haram [forbidden] substances and harmful chemicals that destroy their natural immune systems, causing disease, suffering and death,” Dr. Katme wrote. (1)

The article, by WND‘s Leo Hohmann, was originally titled “Measles Outbreak among Somali Refugees Stretches Minneapolis Health System”, but this has since been amended to “Quran Blamed in New U.S. Disease Outbreak”.

It should be noted that other reports refer to “Somali-Americans” rather than “Somali refugees”, and it seems more likely that this is the case: from the rest of Hohmann’s article, it seems that he has chosen to portray the patients as “refugees” in order to promote Donald Trump’s thwarted travel restriction proposals.

It is the case that measles vaccination rates among Somali-Americans in Minnesota are low – but this is something that is local, and that has happened over the past ten years. It’s theoretically possible that Majid Katme’s view about what is “haram” may have played a role, but if so, neither Hohmann nor Bostom provide any evidence of it, and I’m doubtful.

A more immediate cause appears to be first-hand contact between Somali-Americans in Minnesota and the discredited Dr Andrew Wakefield. Of course, a community might have been predisposed to welcoming Wakefield’s anti-vaccination theories due to a pre-existing religious objection to vaccines, but this seems unlikely to be the case here given that in 2004 the vaccination rate among Minnesota-born Somalis was at 92%.

Ironically, it may be that Somali refugees are better protected: although some vaccine resistance has been reported in Somalia, the authorities have run vaccination programmes without without encountering serious problems. More generally, although Islamists have opposed vaccines in some parts of the Muslim world (as blogged here), the mainstream Muslim view, as expressed by the Islamic Advisory Group for Polio Eradication – and apparently endorsed by the OIC – is that “routine childhood vaccinations” are “a life-saving tool which protects children” and that vaccination “fully conforms to Islamic rulings.”

Somali-Americans in Minnesota are far from being the only group to have shunned the measles vaccine: in one particular case in 2005, a returning missionary from Romania brought measles to churchgoers in Indiana. A subsequent study confirmed that the patients had been concerned “about adverse events, particularly related to media reports of a putative association between vaccinations and autism”.

WND has sent out mixed messages on the subject of vaccines; on the one hand, it has run pieces by a libertarian named Phil Elmore with titles such as “Don’t Buy the Vaccines-Autism Myth”, and in February 2015 it published a column by Ben Carson stating that “there is no substantial risk from vaccines, and… the benefits are very significant”. However, the site’s more typical output has been fearmongering headlines such as “Measles Vaccines Kill more than Measles”, which was followed by “Stunner! Whistleblower Claims Feds Hiding Vaccine-Autism Link” and “Big Pharma-CDC Lie On Vaccines” (among others).

Further, in 2007, WND‘s tie-in print publication Whistleblower ran a special issue on “Scary Medicine: Exposing The Dark Side of Vaccines”. Contributors included one Dr Sherri Tenpenny, who is on the board of directors of the “International Medical Council on Vaccination”. The council has a website, which includes among its resources… the very screed by Majid Katme quoted by Hohmann and Bostom!

UPDATE: ABC News has run a piece on the issue, under the headline “In Minnesota’s Worst Measles Outbreak, a Battle of Beliefs over Vaccines”. It includes the following:

On Sunday, a nonprofit group that has questioned vaccine safety held a meeting for the Somali community [in Minnesota] to advise them about their rights to decline vaccinations based on their beliefs.

Patti Carroll, the director of outreach for the non-profit group called the Vaccine Safety Council of Minnesota, said the goal was to inform parents of their rights and that they could decline recommended vaccinations even during an ongoing measles outbreak.

…Mark Blaxill spoke at the meeting on Sunday, aimed at parents in the Somali community, according to ABC affiliate KSTP, and told parents they could refuse vaccinations and still have their children attend daycare and receive benefits.

WND re-published the first three paragraphs of the article, and provided a link for the rest. However, WND has also changed the headline; while the ABC News report refers to “Somali Minnesotans”, WND headlines the article as “Somali-Muslims at Center of New Vaccine Battle” – thus maintaining the bogus refugee and religion angles while implying that Minnesotans of Somali birth or heritage are not “really” Minnesotans.

Footnote

(1) Katme actually used the spelling variation haaram, and “forbidden” appears to have been in the original source:

We are giving our innocent children haraam (forbidden) substances and harmful chemicals that destroy their natural immune systems, causing disease, suffering and death.

Former EDL Leader Shows Up on Zelo Street‘s Doorstep at 10pm*

*UPDATE (17 May): In a new video, Robinson claims that his visitation in fact occurred at 8.43pm

At Zelo Street, my friend Tim Fenton reports on an unwelcome visitor:

…[T]here was loud and persistent banging at the front door, high-intensity lights were shone into the front windows, and when I went to see what was kicking off – it wasn’t going to be an election canvasser or the Witnesses at 2200 hours – one of those high-intensity lights was shone into my face as [former English Defence League head man Tommy] Robinson introduced himself.

He wanted to ask me one question. He claimed I had “written lies about him“. He would come back, and keep coming back, until I answered him, which suggests someone has sufficient time and money on his hands to keep on making 300 mile round trips to Crewe on the off-chance of finding someone at home. After the front door was shut in his face, the hammering and shouting continued.

The confrontation was a stunt by Robinson in association with Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media – in recent weeks Robinson has been making numerous videos in the company of one Caolan Robertson, who heads the UK branch of Levant’s operation. In March, Rebel Media gleefully reported on Robinson’s negative reception at a London Stand Up To Racism rally; and earlier this month, Robinson (civilly) doorstepped a student who had used Twitter to call for his murder. Robinson has also visited a newspaper office to air grievances about being labelled “far right”, a video of which is in the works.

In Tim’s case, it seems (although this is something we must infer) that Robinson objected to being called a “racist bigot” in a blog post from 8 April in which Tim criticised the Spectator for running a soft-ball interview with Robinson by James Delingpole. For the record, I don’t think that Robinson is racially prejudiced, but his continuing activism against Islam is characterised by sensationalism and inflammatory interventions – as was seen when he showed up at the scene of last month’s Westminster attack. And while I wouldn’t want to reduce someone to the most regrettable thing they’ve said or done, the fact that he was filmed joking about the Anders Breivik massacre while drunk a few years ago does not leave an impression of moderation.

However, Tim is hardly the first person to describe Robinson with the “R” word – it’s something that he gets a lot, as he lamented to James Whale in January. From an earlier video, it seems that Robinson visited Crewe while en route to Dewsbury, but even so, such an extensive detour seems a somewhat disproportionate reaction given Robinson’s profile. Tim’s blog has only ever mentioned Robinson a couple of times over eight years, and so far as I can see there is nothing by Tim on Robinson among his writings for Byline Media. It’s a surprise that the post even caught Robinson’s notice, let alone that he would feel the need to research the author and travel in pursuit of him. Oddly, Robinson kept referring to Tim as “Paul”, which is a given first name that he doesn’t use. It’s as if Robinson had only a vague idea about who he was off to meet.

Perhaps Tim’s post was brought to Robinson’s particular attention by someone – Tim has annoyed a number of tabloid and right-wing media figures over the years, and there have been intimidatory consequences in the past – examples include an abusive and intrusive attack blog (anonymous, but praised by Delingpole) and a series of anonymous letters from a supposed “Blog Complaints Commission”.

Of course, though, going after Tim also serves a more general purpose for Robinson, demonstrating to other potential critics that they risk family intrusion and doxxing. This was not a serious attempt to “engage” or remonstrate over a grievance – it was a gratuitous and thuggish stunt at an unreasonable hour for the benefit of a fan base (whose unpleasant social media effusions in response to it are noted in Tim’s new post).

UPDATE: Robinson published his video on 17 May; for some reason, he puts quote-marks around Tim’s name, and he describes him as a Guardian journalist. But Tim has never written for the Guardian, although he’s been quoted a few times and was even interviewed once.

UPDATE 2: On the question of whether Robinson can legitimately be called “far right”, a post by Joe Mulhall for Hope Not Hate draws attention to some pertinent associations:

Pictures have emerged of [Robinson] and Caolan Robertson having drinks with Britain First leaders Jayda Fransen and Paul Golding.

It seems that, rather than for any concern over the extreme tactics deployed by BF, Yaxley-Lennon’s previous reticence to cooperate with the group was the result of his “beef” [quarrel] with former BF leading member Jim Dowson. In a recent Q&A video he called Dowson “a grass” [informant]…

I previously blogged on Golding and Dowson here. Britain First is an offshoot of the BNP – in an interview with Andrew Neil, Golding explained that he had left the BNP over corruption, rather than because of an ideological rethink.

Mulhall also notes that after the confrontation at Tim Fenton’s house, Robinson (Mulhall refers to him by his legal name of Yaxley-Lennon) “then proceeded to storm the offices of a South Wales newspaper alongside George Llewelyn-John of The New Brit and Rebel Media.”

The New Brit appears to be Caolan Robertson’s venture, running parallel to his Rebel Media work – also involved is Jack Buckby, of Paul Weston’s Liberty GB party (blogged here).

Police Consulted “Dissociative Identity Disorder” Therapist In Ted Heath Abuse Probe

From the Daily Mail:

The farce over the Sir Edward Heath child abuse inquiry grew yesterday as it emerged that a member of an independent panel scrutinising the probe has been paid to help on the case.

Dr Elly Hanson, a clinical psychologist who specialises in abuse and trauma, received £2,025 for advising Wiltshire Police about two individuals who have made allegations against the late Tory prime minister.

The force subsequently asked her to join a panel of four looking at all aspects of the Operation Conifer probe to help police chiefs ‘consider the ongoing proportionality and justification for the investigation’.

The report goes on to add that Hanson denies any conflict of interest.

It is not known for sure if the “two individuals” she was asked about pertain to the Satanic Ritual Abuse claims against Heath or some other strand of the investigation, but it’s a reasonable assumption: another expert consulted by police stated last week that the SRA claims were “the core strand” that Wiltshire Police “wanted to use to prove Ted Heath’s guilt”.

Further, Hanson is actually a specialist in “Dissociative Identity Disorder”, a diagnosis that implies memories that have been repressed due to trauma, usually childhood sexual abuse. We know that the Heath SRA accusers were a “group” of women, and that the main accuser underwent recovered memory therapy in Canada.

It seems unlikely that Hanson would have advised the police to exercise caution: just last month she gave a presentation at a conference organised by the European Society for Trauma and Dissociation (ESTD), where other speakers included Peter Garsden, a firm believer in the “sacrifce of children” by “secret societies” (as blogged here) and three members of the Ritual Abuse Information Network and Support (RAINS, previously blogged here).

Supposed “recovered memories” have formed the basis for numerous allegations  of Satanic Ritual Abuse. Some background here is provided by by Jeffrey Victor in his 1993 book Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend:

MPD [Multiple Personality Disorder, the old name for Dissociative Identity Disorder] psychotherapists are faced with an ambiguous problem in need of a clear explanation… The Satanic cult legend serves as a substitute for “hard news”, that is, a substitute for a decisive discovery of a cause for the ambiguous symptoms of Multiple Personality Disorder… There is good evidence that MPD patients have a chameleon-like, manipulative personality and feed therapists the kind of stories they feel therapists want to hear. (p. 93)

Further:

The “survivor” stories were first given credibility when leading MPD psychiatric authorities publicly professed belief in their plausibility. This happened at the firat national conference of the International Society for the Study of Multiple Personality disorder, in 1984. Once authority figures lent credibility to the stories, the process of consensual validation, operating through the psychiatric communication network, reinforced the credibility of the stories. In this network, normal open and public scientific criticism and dispute is discouraged.

…Believing therapists have been articulating the Satanic cult legend in great detail for years, since the mid-1980s, without publishing any empirical research findings in juried scientific journals where the findings can be subjected to scientific cross-examination. (pp. 93-94, 95)

I speculated on how such networks may provide a link between old SRA claims and new false sex abuse allegations against public figures in the UK here.

It is perhaps also relevant to note that at the start of 2016 Hanson gave a presentation at an exhibition called “The Wall of Silence”, which was created to highlight the testimonies of child abuse survivors. One of the exhibition’s organisers and promoters, a nurse named Sue Crocombe, believes that Heath must be guilty of sex abuse, and the exhibition blurb makes special reference to “powerful people” supposedly being involved in child sex abuse. This is based on the testimony of the exhibition’s “exemplar” survivor, a man who has made extravagant allegations against politicians.