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Why George Galloway Must be Noticed
Last uploaded : Saturday 14th May 2005 at 06:02
Contributed by : Carol Gould


Editor's Update: 18 May

Galloway having now had his day in the Senate, the following was one of many editorials:

Washington Times Editorial, May 18

'Unfortunately, the most talked-about aspect of [the senate sub-committee hearings] is Mr Galloway's vitriolic attack on the integrity of [chairman] Norm Coleman and the sub-committee, his denunciation of the war to liberate Iraq and his assertions of persecution at the hands of Zionists, Christian fundamentalist and other alleged malefactors. None of this is out of character for a man who has described the fall of Soviet communism as a tragedy, who openly attacked his own government for opposing Saddam and who depicts Iraq's terrorist insurgents as liberators..'

by Carol Gould
14 May 2005

I sat and watched every news programme on American television this week and could find no reports on the accusations now being levelled at British MP-elect George Galloway, better known as ?the member from Baghdad.?

Galloway, who last week defeated incumbent MP Oona King in the British general election, has been the most vociferous of all public figures in his opposition to the war in Iraq and to American support for Israel. Oona King, it must be mentioned, is the daughter of an African American father and Jewish mother. She regards herself as a black Jewess and was elected to Parliament five years ago with a 10,000-vote majority on the coattails of a then-popular Tony Blair in the heavily Muslim Bethnal Green/Bow constituency, which has gone to Labour since 1945.

This time around, however, poor Oona suffered the consequences of having supported the war in Iraq and, like so many other Labour MP s, lost her seat in the great wave of anti-war, anti-Bush-Blair sentiment across the country. The campaign in the East End was ugly and noisy; on the eve of the elections Cspan showed a local rally in which King was barely able to finish her speech because of the fierce heckling by an obviously hostile, mostly male crowd of Muslims. Cspan reported that voters in her ward were warned by agitators that if shop-owners had a picture of her in their window their premises would be burned to the ground. It should be noted here that King herself had made some rather inflammatory remarks in the past about America and Israel, but the rise of the truly scary Galloway in a mainstream election context worries us more than any past misdeeds by the otherwise respectable Ms King.

Galloway is the man who is reported to have exhorted British troops to refuse to fight in Iraq and was duly expelled from the Labour party because of his extreme views on this issue. He has also given impassioned public addresses across the nation condemning the actions of the Israeli government and of the American administration.. He starts speeches with ?Salaam Alekheim? and tries to rouse groups to loud protestations whenever the words ?Israel?, ?Zionist? or ?America? come into the equation. On the night of his election victory a crowd of eighty Muslims carried him on their shoulders down Brick Lane and said ?A new god has been born.? It must be ackowledged that much of Galloway's viewpoint is becoming more and more widely accepted by the general public as the Iraq campaign descends into what is being described in the world's media as chaos and carnage for military and civilian alike.

Melanie Phillips remarks: ?Galloway is a latter-day Oswald Mosley, ( British Nazi of the 1930s), the mirror image of the neo-fascists of the BNP (British National Party) in playing upon and fomenting the irrational paranoia and prejudice of a group that believes itself to be singularly oppressed, in this case the Muslim community which voted en bloc in its perceived particular interests?his views are surely only a more extreme version of the anti-war vote cast by millions at this election whose position, if acted upon, would also have been to have kept Saddam in power, and whose virulent anti-Americanism is merely a few notches on the ratchet down from Galloway's own wild rhetoric. In other words, the Galloway victory is a symptom of the tide of irrationality and hatred which has overwhelmed our mainstream culture. ?

Now, he has been accused of receiving moneys from the Saddam Hussein regime that were destined for humanitarian needs in the oil for food programme. The ?Telegraph ? newspaper reports that Former Saddam loyalists have been providing evidence to the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Permanent Subcommitee on Investigations chaired by Sen Norm Coleman ( R ) and whose Ranking Member is Carl Levin (D), that Galloway wanted sanctions lifted against Iraq and in turn was rewarded by Saddam with ?oil vouchers? that would have made him a paper millionaire.

Last week Galloway insisted he had tried on various occasions to contact the Senate and had had no reply. Sen Coleman said that he had no record of any communications from Galloway, "including but not limited to telephone, fax, e-mail, letter, Morse code or carrier pigeon". Galloway later acknowledged, according to the ?Telegraph? newspaper, that he had not in fact contacted the Committee. (It is notable that the ?Telegraph? lost a court case last year after printing identical ?oil money? accusations against Galloway, and the newspaper is to appeal the decision.)

It has been impossible to explain to Americans, even here in Washington tonight at a well-attended black tie media-world dinner, that Galloway?s victory in the East End, and his appearance before the Senate this coming Tuesday are serious stories deserving of the full attention of Americans wondering why so many Brits voted against Tony Blair.

When one attends these events in Washington one hears alarm in the voices of professionals about the rise of the religious right and the ?police state? in the USA. Frankly this writer finds Galloway and his followers much more menacing than a Bible-pounding Iowan.

The dangers of a man like Galloway using inflammatory rhetoric to rabble-rouse in the East End of London, causing Oona King and her supporters to be fearful in an atmosphere of violence and ugly confrontation seems not to resonate with Americans. Even Fox News ignored the Galloway story and has yet to report in depth about his impending appearance on Capitol Hill on Tuesday 17 May.

Americans will have a rude awakening when George Galloway appears on the Hill next week. They will see the hatred of America that has become visceral in its intensity in daily British discourse. Galloway represents a considerable swathe of British public opinion; what Americans I meet in Washington do not seem to grasp is that ? the Britishers? are not gung-ho supporters of America by any means whatsoever.

The election of George Galloway in the East End of London was a pivotal event in the history of ?sensible and civilised discourse? for which Britons are renowned, and it is worrying that the American media continue to take so little interest in the growing radicalism of Europe and the United Kingdom.

We are here in Washington reporting on this as best we can and we hope our well-paid competitors at the major newspapers, agencies and television networks take notice, too.

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