When fanatics kill journalists, Seumas Milne blames something else

Labour's new spin doctor made excuses for the Charlie Hebdo killers

 

As Guardian columnist Seumas Milne is announced head of communications for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party, journalists who now have to deal with him should know how cheaply he values their lives.

Just days after the Paris murders at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in January, Milne took to the pages of the Guardian to rehearse for his new role as spin doctor – only this time for the killers.

Milne Paris

In a column titled ‘Paris is a warning: there is no insulation from our wars’, and sub-headed, ‘The attacks in France are a blowback from intervention in the Arab and Muslim world. What happens there happens here too’, Labour’s new spinner-in-chief gets his deniability in early:

“Nothing remotely justifies the murderous assault on Charlie Hebdo’s journalists, still less on the Jewish victims singled out only for their religious and ethnic identity.”

Despite this proviso, Milne proceeds to list at length more justifications than had even occurred to the killers. After explaining that the cartoons and jokes in Charlie Hebdo were a ‘repeated pornographic humiliation’ for French Muslims, he casts a wide net:

“Of course, the cocktail of causes and motivations for the attacks are complex: from an inheritance of savage colonial brutality in Algeria via poverty, racism, criminality and takfiri jihadist ideology.

Everything, in short, except the agency of the killers themselves. (One could argue that the role of religious ideas in the murder of cartoonists for drawing a religious figure is more significant than the Algerian war of independence, which wound down in 1962, but leave that aside for now.) Milne’s apologia hits its stride as he asserts:

“But without the war waged by western powers, including France, to bring to heel and reoccupy the Arab and Muslim world, last week’s attacks clearly wouldn’t have taken place.

Clearly? Given his articles after 9/11, 7/7 and the Woolwich murder of Lee Rigby, the only thing clear is Milne’s consistent victim blaming when it comes to Islamist terrorism.

Milne goes on to invoke the authority of the dead killers to make excuses on their behalf, repeating their self-serving propaganda in a liberal newspaper:

“Cherif Kouachi insisted the attacks had been carried out in revenge for the ‘children of Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria’. Ahmed Coulibaly said they were a response to France’s attacks on Isis, while claiming the supermarket slaughter was revenge for the deaths of Muslims in Palestine.”

He then quickly reassures readers who might be getting the wrong end of the stick that ‘such wanton killings are, of course, entirely counterproductive to the causes they are supposed to promote’. Of course. Poor misguided terrorists. If only you had listened to Seumas!

‘Why does this matter?’ you might ask. ‘Milne has written countless god-awful things. Why is this of particular significance now?’ Well, I think for this reason.

Journalists who cover British politics will now presumably deal with Labour’s new head of comms on a regular basis. Due to this professional necessity, they deserve to know what he thinks of them.

When Milne says there is a ‘gulf that separates the official view of French state policy at home and abroad and how it is seen by many of the country’s Muslim citizens,’ adding ‘That’s true in Britain too, of course’, he means that his apologia for terror would apply to the murder of British journalists as well.

Hacks might have hated Lynton Crosby and Alistair Campbell, but at least they could rely on them to be solid on the right of journalists not to be shot in their workplace.

The same cannot be said for Campbell’s successor.

In Seumas Milne, journalists will be sitting down to lunch or speaking on the phone with a man of whom they know the following to be true:

If a fanatic stormed into their offices tomorrow and stuck a gun in their face – either out of dislike for something they had written or to act out some political grievance – Milne would be willing to say, in public, that this was at least partly their own fault.

Happy lunching, comrades.

***

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Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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141 Responses to “When fanatics kill journalists, Seumas Milne blames something else”

  1. GhostofJimMorisson

    But they’re wasting their time and ignoring the root cause of the problem, which is religious fundamentalism.

  2. Cole

    Whatabouterry, I think.

  3. Cole

    Oh come on. Milne has a long record of playing down the atrocities of bad people, such as Stalin. It say a lot about Corbyn that he would appoint such a man to a senior role.

  4. GhostofJimMorisson

    What’s a penis mate? Is it one of your kinky sex toys?

  5. Cole

    How about dealing with the issue of Milne being a bad guy. Many of us on the left think this is a shocking appointment.

  6. Cole

    I think you’re talking about the hard or far left….

  7. Samuel Smith

    Must be home time at the tory troll office with responses like that. Byyyyye

  8. Cole

    Is no criticism of Corbyn or Milne allowed? A bit rich as they’ve both spent decades denouncing other people on the left as sellouts.

  9. GhostofJimMorisson

    So men blowing themselves up on a packed bus crying ‘Allahu Akbar’ are operating from something other than, or alongside, religion? Please, enlighten us? If, as Milne suggests, they are motivated by colonial grievances and poverty, then why aren’t black African Christians committing terrorist acts on an almost daily basis? Goodness knows they have suffered from the twin evils of colonialism and poverty, and are still suffering today.

  10. Forlornehope

    Even Max Hastings has pointed out that the Red Army was not in a position to assist the Warsaw uprising.

  11. jj

    I’m a ‘Tory troll’ and a ‘daily fail reader’ (I have only picked that paper up to make fires from) because I disagree with you. We never provide ‘motivating circumstances’ in Christian terrorism (the kkk for example). They are branded as a hate group and not listened to at all, why should we treat those who proclaim Islamic fascism and terrorism in an ‘understanding’ way. There is absolutely no reason to blow apart the twin towers, as there is absolutely no reason to massacre innocent journalists because they have drawn something you personally may not like. Samuel Smith, before you shout ‘f*cking idiot’ at me, please watch a few documentaries, such as the recent one on Islamic State to see just how vile they treat yazidi women, look into the views of countries like Jordan, where the majority think there are valid reasons why terrorism can be justifies. Most of the Islamic world also believe that women should not have freedom of choice in terms of what they wear. This all points to an extremely distasteful culture that needs radical change, that radical change could start here in the UK!! Not many Muslims are horrible or bad people, but I certainly do see that you may be with your use of the English language!

  12. jj

    Is a belief that non believers are ‘haram’, among other things, a considerable minority believe that if you get rid of the non believers, you will live eternally in paradise. e need imams to counteract this gross thinking. And these people DO commit terrorist acts purely in the name of religion, a plus side is usually they also get to take over the oil fields in Iraq, further funding the misery they spread.

  13. jj

    I’m glad to hear it, common sense prevails.

  14. Flaming Faerie

    His views are thus entirely in keeping with the Dear Leaders and his Corbots.

  15. Richard Robson

    What people from the right side of the political spectrum fail to understand or at the very least do not want to confront is the fact that there is a very real reason why we have terrorism. Jeremy Corbyn, Seumas Milne and i imagine most right thinking leftists definitely do not condone such terrorist attacks as 911, 7/7, or the Charlie Hebdo Murders. Very clearly it is wrong to resort to violence in order to make a political / Economic gain or to exact revenge ( Even if that’s exactly what the British and American Governments have been doing for at the very least the last century ) However if we truly want to see an end to terrorism then we must look at the reasoning for these terrible events however hard or controversial it is to do so. It does not matter at this point if it was right or wrong for those terrorists to kill all those journalists, what matters is understanding why they did it and finding a way to prevent such things happening in the future. Everyone knows that its basic science to say that every action has a reaction, for example what goes up must come down. If the American and British Governments did not interfere so much in the political structures of other countries imposing their will and conspiring to overthrow any leader who does not conform, and if we did not take part in the destabilizing of the Middle east engaging in multiple illegal wars killing hundred of thousand of innocent men women and children, and selling weapons to countries on our human right abusers list, weapons that end up in hands on both sides of every conflict all for profit and political gain then we would not have a problem with terrorism at all. The terrorists on that fateful day chose to target the Journalists of Charlie Hebdo because with their drawings of the prophet Mohammed they symbolized everything that is wrong with western media and their sometimes if not blatant irresponsible reporting which more often than not constitutes as propaganda in favor of the ruling classes of Europe and America and paints a demonizing and unfair picture of the Muslim faith and any person or country who does not conform. Indeed the media onslaught Jeremy Corbyn has had to endure since he won the Labor Leadership is testimony to this fact. and i do believe that this article is yet another attempt to assassinate the character of Corbyns newly employed head of communications before he has had a chance to do anything of any consequence. This shows that this man Seumas Milne is someone the establishment fears and is someone to watch closely in the coming years leading up to the next General Election.

  16. GhostofJimMorisson

    Ever heard of paragraphs? Puts people off reading it. Mind you, thats probably just as well. I skimmed through it, and it’s complete waffle. You blame Charlie Ebdo for getting themselves killed for the ‘crime’ of drawing a religious/historical figure. You’re a cretin of the highest order.

  17. veganista

    He didn’t support them. Some of you people are right idiots! He is attempting to explain WHY they happened. Hasn’t it always been said that Blair an d Bush helped create extremists? Personally I don’t think Islamists need excuses but we in the West certainly don’t help the situation. I don’t agree with Milne on Charlie Hebdo but that doesn’t mean he is a hard boiled Stalinist! He would not condone the attack!

  18. veganista

    You know that, do you? You are spreading outright lies!!!

  19. veganista

    Absolute and utter RUBBISH!

  20. jj

    Give me a break! Charlie Hebdo made fun of every religion, it was and still is a far left publication dedicated to mocking the ruling class and religion in general also. In what world do you live in? Why do you believe that it is wrong to criticise and mock certain things? It is criticism that SHOULD improve a faith, if they are so confident in their faith they would not even care…
    New paragraph begins…
    If they did NOT mock Islam the same way they mock Christianity and Buddhism and Hinduism, and political leaders, it would be seen as giving Islam undeserved privileges, and frankly they are undeserved. That’s what you call equality.
    I am a catholic, and I welcome criticism, and frankly care not about what others think of my faith, I certainly would never murder in the name/ ”defence’ of my faith. You seem to argue that it is actually Charlie Hebdo’s fault for the massacre, frankly what a disgusting point of view to hold!

  21. Samuel Smith

    You neglected to answer easily my most important point. My advice to you is to watch some documentaries on western foreign policy and try to understand the seeds that we sow.

    I agree that Islam has some grave issues, and some muslims very archaic views, but how can we expect the middle east, home to the majority of the worlds’ muslims and those most prone to radicalisation, to “civilise” or “evolve” to western standards when we consistently militarily destroy their countries, causing major infrastructure damage & civil unrest, engage in covert political upheaval, and rape them of their resources.

    All Milne is saying is that their is some context to these actions beyond some f*cking cartoons. The same goes for all terrorist atrocities. Every side of the situation is appalling, not just what certain western governments sanction as “terrorism”.

  22. RaymondDance

    Has anyone ever seen Seumas Milne laugh – or even just smile. Terrifying man.

  23. usignuolo

    They killed the Charlie Hebdo journalists because, in their eyes, they “insulted” Islam and the Prophet. End of. Maybe the problem is with their religion………

  24. Eoireitum

    Noted! Re: Trumping through use of Hitch quotes? Didn’t mean to give that impression – I was simply mid-latte on the street corner and it was a helpful cut and paste job. Helpfully summed up my own approach was all. Religious fervour? Possibly – I’m willing to acknowledge that’s possible, and if there was one based on his philosophy it would be a damn good religion!

  25. veganista

    Are you being deliberately perverse or just simple? You know very well that he doesn’t support the terrorists!

  26. veganista

    Hear, hear!

  27. veganista

    I don’t think they CAN think for themselves. It’s their knee-jerk reactions that do the thinking!

  28. Jack Pepin

    Username checks out

  29. Edmole

    Good job two wrongs make a right, eh?

  30. Edmole

    “Try thinking for yourselves, yeah! And see that I AM RIGHT!”

  31. MacGuffin

    No, I am talking about the multiculti white guilt soft-left.

  32. jj

    He may not directly ‘support’ terrorists, but he’s doing a good job at watching their backs and making up excuses for their actions. Imagine him doing that for the kkk! He would be rightly shamed on national TV.

  33. MacGuffin

    The vast majority of deaths in each of those countries has been the result of muslim-on-muslim, local-on-local violence.

  34. MacGuffin

    Just wait until Galloway is welcomed back into the Labour Party with open arms and is made Shadow Foreign Secretary.

  35. Kiosk

    “this man Seumas Milne is someone the establishment fears”

    – Despises, yes. Fears? No. Why would they fear him? All he’s going to do is alienate everyone, save for a handful of posturing, ill-informed pseudo-leftists such as yourself. This appointment is a gift to the establishment. If you can’t see that, I really don’t know what to say to you.

    “The terrorists on that fateful day chose to target the Journalists of Charlie Hebdo because with their drawings of the prophet Mohammed they symbolized everything that is wrong with western media and their sometimes if not blatant irresponsible reporting which more often than not constitutes as propaganda in favor of the ruling classes of Europe and America”

    – Sorry, all I hear is a gurgling sound, coming from the bottom of a moral cesspool. Woefully inarticulate gurgling, at that.

  36. JAMES MCGIBBON

    Strange you should say that. Churchhill said a fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject

  37. Major Bonkers

    No he didn’t. And presumably your reference is to his book ‘Armageddon’.

    Apart from the obvious result of the crushing of the Polish Underground army, which no doubt suited Stalin just fine, the other results included another couple of months of the Auschwitz meat-grinder and the final liquidation of the Lodz ghetto.

  38. Anthony Cavanagh

    I new this article was bollox, he wrote

    “course, the cocktail of causes and motivations for the attacks are complex: from an inheritance of savage colonial brutality in Algeria via poverty, racism, criminality and takfiri jihadist ideology”.

    Add a 4th to big Brother

    War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength

    we now have analysis is apoligy

  39. Anthony Cavanagh

    Rubbish apoligist is just the name given to anyone who questions the cluster fk of the wars that cost millions in life;s billions we cant afford,multiple civil wars in the middle east and dumped million of refugees on our borders.

  40. Anthony Cavanagh

    Rubbish ,you are yakking pure bollix, the I mix with them but dont share there views that is how i know is a old as the hills , bag of balls,

  41. BetrayedRosse

    “The terrorists on that fateful day chose to target the Journalists of Charlie Hebdo because with their drawings of the prophet Mohammed they symbolized everything that is wrong with western media and their sometimes if not blatant irresponsible reporting which more often than not constitutes as propaganda in favor of the ruling classes of Europe and America and paints a demonizing and unfair picture of the Muslim faith and any person or country who does not conform.”

    NO – they did it to ‘avenge the prophet’. Because of a 7th century text.

  42. BetrayedRosse

    The Daily Fail is incredibly pro-Islam, you should look more closely at some of the articles

  43. Chicago

    So Left Foot Forward is just a Nick-Cohenist outfit? Why don’t you all go back to Euston and draft up some more manifestos, you silly twats. If we’re really serious about preventing the hideous Paris murders, we would do well to analyze the warped motivations of the killers, and set aside the moral posturing for some other day. Love, An American. Viva Bernie

  44. Chicago

    So Left Foot Forward is just a Nick-Cohenist outfit? Why don’t you all go back to Euston and draft up some more manifestos, you silly twats. If we’re really serious about preventing the hideous Paris murders, we would do well to analyze the warped motivations of the killers, and set aside the moral posturing for some other day. Love, An American. Viva Bernie

  45. Chicago

    Also funny that a quick scan of the approving comments show that a central theme is Aggrieved Whiteness. Love it.

  46. Jeremy Poynton

    Not to mention Livingstone. Then they could change their name from Labour to Terror

  47. MacGuffin

    Oh God, I had forgotten about Livingstone! Corbyn’s Home Secretary of choice, no doubt. Though Corbyn better be careful – if he ever became PM, Livingstone would depose him the day after.

  48. Jeremy Poynton

    They’ll all be deposing each other in no time at all. It’s what the far Left do.

    SPLITTERS!

    I thought we’d abandoned this garbage way way back. Obviously not. I can understand kids being Trotskyites – indeed, I met a young man the other day who claimed to be an Anarcho-Syndicalist, bless him. But most of us grow up.

  49. Jeremy Poynton

    “Even?” Max is an expert on 20th Century wars! No “even” about it.

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