Pity Max Blumenthal and Electronic Intifada. After spending, presumably, countless hours researching Islamophobia, "exposing" Thor Halvorssen's links to it, and "alerting" the government of Norway and Amnesty International about it,they were dismissed, by both, as irrelevant. It must be hard I would imagine, all that work to reveal the "shadowy" links, and to inform the world that Thor has "ties to the Islamophobes who inspired mass killer Anders Breivik", only to be dismissed by one of the world's most respected governments and THE human rights watchdog as irrelevant. That goes on their CV you know, that's part of the public record now.
Google alerts is a good tool to be aware of what other people are writing about topics of interest. As such, I got one the other day where my name had been mentioned by Blumenthal in the fringe Electronic Intifada website in a conspiratorial tirade against Thor Halvorssen and the Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF). I declare that I have been unaware of Thor's run ins with others in the press. In 2008 I was contracted by the NGO he founded, Human Rights Foundation (HRF). While I think we did great things together -such as getting Guadalupe Llori out of illegal imprisonment by Ecuador's Rafael Correa, providing much needed technology support to Cuban freedom fighters pre Alan Gross, and exposing Evo Morales barbaric tendencies- the marriage came to a sudden and unexpected end. In any case, I think I was instrumental in the success of HRF's first OFF in 2009 and its subsequent relations with the late Vaclav Havel. Many things have happened since, Havel's passing for one, though OFF's seems to be well on the way to permanent success, and the more successful it becomes the more vicious the attacks from irrelevant radicals like Blumenthal.
In 2010, a publication associated with Norway's extreme left called Manifest first "brought to light" my former relation with Thor. I didn't respond then. Manifest, and Blumenthal recently, repeated baseless allegations about me made byCalvin Tucker, a London-based extremist with a history of violence. I am not going to start defending Thor, after all he's got a media megaphone and access to people I can only dream about, but I will point out that if the strategy his critics have left is guilty by association, he really has nothing to worry about. And if my critics only recourse left is to continue citing Tucker's out-of-context reference to a nightmare I had nearly 10 years ago, well, they are truly hopeless.
Calvin Tucker's article in The Guardian's Comment is Free is the source of choice for those wanting to criticise me -and with the 14-month association with HRF- Thor. It is lost in them that Tucker is anything but an authoritative source on anything to do with Venezuela, me, human rights, or objective journalism, but rather a nostalgic Stalinist, an individual so insane as to be proud of having given someone such a vicious beating that the victim needed reconstructive surgery to his face. Tucker, and those who take him seriously, are part of an intifada allright, an ideological one that advocates for and supports the violent struggle of the extreme left as a legitimate position. Curiously they see my arguments of violence as the only recourse left to deal with authoritarian regimes, such as Hugo Chavez's, as something unacceptable. It could be because Chavez was an icon of the extreme left, as Hamas, Arafat, Castro, communism, Stalin, Che Guevara, etc. Holding an argumentative and virtual mirror to them is an intolerable affront. For only their side has "sufficient moral justification" (Tucker's dixit) to remove by force "corrupt governments... which had lost all claims to democratic legitimacy". Ergo Chavez's assassination attempt and coup d'etat against democratically elected Carlos Andres Perez = good; terrorism against Israel = good; Fidel Castro coup against Batista and 54-year communist dictatorship = good; Joseph Stalin's reign of terror = good; but same stance against Chavez, Arafat / PLO / Hamas, Fidel Castro, communism = FUCKING INTOLERABLE!!!!!
Intellectual honesty and consistency is certainly not Blumenthal et al's forte. Take for instance just a couple of Blumenthal's irrelevant accusations against Thor published by Electronic Intifada:
"The forms show that the Human Rights Foundation received approximately $600,000 in donations from the Donors Capital Fund from 2007 through 2011. Based in Northern Virginia, Donors Capital Fund is essentially a slush fund for the cadre of rightist donors who bankroll the conservative movement. The Electronic Intifada’s analysis of IRS filings by Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust shows that the Human Rights Foundation received $764,950 from 2005 through 2011 from Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust, all but about $5,000 coming through the Donors Capital Fund. “Since the fund handles money from multiple donors and donors names aren’t disclosed, contributions made through the Donors Capital Fund are difficult to trace,” the Center for American Progress noted in its 2011 landmark report “Fear, Inc.” “Potential donors are required to open a minimum $1 million account to utilize the fund’s services.”"
Is it $600,000 or $764,950? A slush fund? As in "money earmarked for a loosely defined, but legitimate, purpose that is instead surreptitiously used for an illegitimate purpose", like Blumenthal's baseless writings in Electronic Intifada? In a shorter period (2006 - 2010) Electronic Intifada's parent organization (Middle East Cultural and Charitable Society or MECCS), whose stated mission is "education and elimination of discrimination" (talk about loosely defined...) got $1,282,034. What is the source of those funds?
In addition, Electronic Intifada's parent organization has gotten in excess of $150,000 from Network for Good, a donor advised fund that "has processed more than $800 million in donations to more than 80,000 charities" according to its website. Among the 80,000 charities that receive money from donors through Network for Good one finds, for instance, Friends of the Israel Defence Forces (FIDF), an organization at odds with Electronic Intifada's "education and elimination of discrimination" mission. One also finds the Center for Security Policy, Ander Breivik's source of inspiration according to Blumenthal. By his logic (guilty by association), Blumenthal and his publishers are associated with FIDF's "war criminals" and purported atrocities committed on Palestinians. In fact, Blumenthal and his dishonest intifada also share with Thor the "guilt" they attribute to the Islamophobes that stoked Breivik's killing spree (Center for Security Policy). After all MECCS, FIDF as well as the Center for Security Policy get funds from Network for Good, innit?
Fortunate son of Venezuela’s elite: "Halvorssen is the scion of an oligarchic Venezuelan family closely linked to the political opposition that formed against recently deceased former President Hugo Chavez..."
Take a good look in the mirror mate. While Thor's OFF gathers more support and recognition from some of the world's most respected people and organizations, who stands shoulder to shoulder with Blumenthal and his comrades, Hamas? I mean, is this imbecile for real? I could refer to Columbia Journalism Review's elegant put down of Blumenthal's deficient grasp of facts and intellectual dishonesty, but I rather go with Hitchens: "to read Max Blumenthal is more like being confronted with a young skunk who hasn't learned to piss yet."
As per those who continue citing Calvin Tucker, an extremist proud of disfiguring people, don't forget to quote next time the following from him:
Now j.scott bernard wants to fight me! This is getting distinctly surreal. But whenever you're ready, scott. Whenever you're ready. And yes, I would kick your ass. I grew up in a LONDON barrio, mate, so I know how to look after myself. The last guy who tried it on with me, left for hospital in an ambulance and required reconstructive surgery to his face. And no, I'm not kidding.
BUT... if you think you can intimidate ME with threats, you're picking on the wrong guy. If you're up for a ruck, Mr Big Mouth, let's have one. But I warn you, I don't fuck about.
My point is that the Caracazo and the political disenfranchisement of most Venezuelans was sufficient moral justification for the insurrection of 1992. With the benefit of hindsight, i.e. from the standpoint of Chavez's election win in 1998, I think we can also say it was also a tactical success, even if at the time it appeared to be a defeat. Without 1992, as with Fidel's Moncada debacle, ultimate victory would have eluded the revolutionaries."
By contrast, I proclaim my support for the attempt to overthrow by force in 1992 the corrupt government of Carlos Andres Perez, which had lost all claims to democratic legitimacy when it massacred up to 3,000 civilians and secretly buried many of the bodies in mass graves.