Monthly Archives: August 2014

George Galloway – the man who praised Saddam Hussein at a time when the Iraqi dictator was known to be murdering his fellow Iraqis – has always denied being either an antisemite or a racist and has on a number of occasions threatened to sue people for calling him either. Yet he has recently (and not so recently) shown his true colours by making statements that attack people not for what they have done or  even what they have said, but rather for what they born.

The first occasion was when he walked out of a debate with an Israeli, at Christ Church College, Oxford, claiming falsely that he had been “misled.” Galloway had already spoken in the debate, but when his eloquent opponent, Eylon Aslan-Levy, started his response with the words “We wanted peace, we got war. We mustn’t make the same mistake again,” the ill-mannered Galloway interrupted him by asking rudely “are you an Israeli?” Now of course, if Galloway had genuinely thought the question to be relevant, he could have asked it before, at the time when the debate was being arranged. He chose not to do so.

Whether he merely assumed that the person speaking for Israel would not be an Israeli or simply didn’t think about it at all, I cannot say. But as soon as the opposing speaker used the word “we”, the rather excitable Galloway became agitated and interrupted to ask his obnoxious question –  a question that no right-thinking person would have thought relevant. The opposing speaker innocently and honestly replied: “I am. yes.” At this point, Galloway got up and said: “I don’t debate with Israelis. I’ve been misled.”

Now first of all, it was Galloway who misled the organizers of the debate, by not stating his terms and conditions up front. Secondly, Galloway then walked out, refusing to participate in the debate any further. And this was of course, rather conveniently, after he had made sure to have his own say before the ostentatious walk-out. In other words, he knew that he was out of his depth and was beating a hasty and cowardly retreat.

But what is interesting is that at no stage did Galloway ask his opponent if he was an Israeli by birth or by naturalization. That means that Galloway was equally unwilling to debate with Israelis whether they be born Israelis or became Israelis by choice. Now  of course, even if they became an Israeli by choice it would be silly to refuse to debate with them, because a debate – by definition – involves arguing one’s case against an opponent. And Galloway knew that he was there for a debate, so  he knew that he would be facing a man of differing opinion.

The fact that Galloway agreed to the debate at all, meant that he was ready to face off with a person who held a different view to his own. But the fact that he walked out only when he discovered that his opponent was Israeli, without so much as inquiring if that citizenship was acquired by birth or by choice, means that Galloway was showing prejudice against a fellow human being because of a fact of that other person’s birth. (It does not in fact matter whether Eylon Aslan-Levy was born an Israeli or became one. The fact that Galloway didn’t ask, is sufficient grounds to characterize Galloway as a racist).

But could this have been a one-off? Well not if Galloway’s most recent outburst is anything to go by. In a recent speech he said with customary arrogance and malice: “We have declared Bradford an Israel-free zone. We don’t want any Israeli goods. We don’t want any Israeli services. ” Now if he had left it at that, – referring to “Israeli” rather than “Israelis” and “goods” and “services” rather than people – he might just have got away with it. But Galloway – ever the bully – went on to say: “We don’t want any Israeli academics coming to the University or the college. We don’t even want any Israeli tourists.” By referring to people who possessed Israeli citizenship – again without specific reference to whether their citizenship was by birth or by  choice (as adults) – he was showing prejudice towards people because of what they were born. And this is classic racism. He didn’t even specify that he meant Israeli residents. From his phraseology, he could even have been including Israeli citizens who were not resident in Israel.

And for these reasons it is clear that George Galloway is a racist.

 

Cold Turkey - Amazon cover
Cold Turkey is the story of two drug-addicted brothers, Lee and Mark, who kidnap a right-wing radio talk-show host and deliberately set about getting him addicted to heroin, after he has angered them by mouthing off about “junkies” and their lack of “moral fibre.” To some extent they are merely taking him up on his own hubristic posturing:

“You could kidnap me tomorrow,” he bragged, “shoot me up with smack till I’m hooked and I could kick the habit cold turkey!”

But when they take up his challenge, he fails to live up to his boast and his life spirals out of control. And yet their victory is a Pyrrhic one, as differences between the brothers come to the fore, forcing them to re-evaluate their own lives – culminating in Lee taking a most extraordinary decision.

I first had the idea of Cold Turkey while I was sharing a flat with a psychologically-dependent drug user in South London. Although he was an irritating chav, a thief and even, at times, a wife-beater (or at least girlfriend-beater), I also learned about his background and the events that turned him into what he became. I saw his dependency on the friend who got him into the drug scene – a sort of substitute older brother – and the vicious circle he had got himself into. I also saw his vulnerability, how that was exploited by others and the rage that sometimes flared up within him.

The characters in this story are by no means “based on” my former flatmate and his drug-using friends. They are, however, inspired by them. The real-life character was never viciously beaten by his father. But he was thrown out by both parents after their acrimonious divorce, because of his own behaviour and at one point ended up on the streets at the age of 12, when he was “taken in” (in both senses of the expression) by a young man who introduced him to drugs and took advantage of him sexually. (Ironically, they remain friends and drug-buddies to this day, except for moments when “Lee” goes into a rage – usually under the influence of alcohol rather than drugs.

I wrote this story to explore the minds of people trapped in a downward spiral of self-destructive behaviour. I have seen “Lee” off drugs as well as on. Unlike the brothers in this film, he does not “do needles” – although some of his friends do. In truth, he is not physically addicted to heroin or any other drug – or at least was not for most of the time I knew him. Like the character in the film, he has been to prison several times, for offences like stealing (to get drug money) and violence whether against shop-keepers or others with whom he has got into conflict, under the influence of alcohol. And like the character in the film, he has been off drugs, but has always relapsed and got back “on the gear” – usually as soon as he was out of prison. (NB he did not need methadone in prison – except on one occasion.)

The novel explores such questions as: to what extent are we in control of our own lives? Are we the captains of our souls or at the mercy of the winds of fate. Can one achieve anything alone or does one always need a friend? And are some friendships toxic?

Asking these questions in the context of the modern day problem of drug (and alcohol) addiction, we see the thin line that separates winners from losers and get a glimpse of the fragility of the lifestyles that some of us take for granted.

There is also a US Kindle edition, a US paperback edition and a UK paperback edition: Cold Turkey
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