The Tragedy of Iraq

In this edition of the Aidan Project, Aidan is joined by Iraq-born writer, Sami Ramadani, to discuss important questions regarding Iraq and the Middle East. What is happening now in Iraq? We are now 14 years on from the controversial invasion, yet Iraq is not at peace, not least because of an ongoing battle with ISIS. Sami provides a whistle-stop history of the struggle of the Iraqi people, from imperial oppression from the United Kingdom up to the occupation of US-led forces in 2003. Sami also discusses US foreign policy under the Trump administration, speculating on a potential showdown with Iran. Sami grew up in Baghdad, but departed as a political exile during Saddam Hussein’s reign. However, despite his objections to Saddam’s government, Sami argued against US-led sanctions and opposed the 2003 invasion and occupation. A semi-retired lecturer in sociology, Sami writes on Middle Eastern affairs and sits on the Stop the War Coalition’s steering committee. For more information on Sami, you can find him on Twitter (@SamiRamidani1) and the Guardian web site (https://www.theguardian.com/profile/samiramadani).

For more ways to listen, to subscribe to the podcast or to sign-up for e-mail updates when new content is available, please click here.

The Fake News Agenda

In this edition of the Aidan Project, Aidan is joined by Gary Herman to discuss press freedom, fake news, citizen journalism and the future of a free press in a digital age. Also discussed on this show is Donald Trump’s scheduled autumn visit to the United Kingdom, why journalists often refrain from pressing public figures on evaded questions, ‘Stop Funding Hate’, the lack of trust of the public in the media, Facebook as a news source, Leveson, and much more. Gary is a member of the British National Union of Journalists and has been campaigning for press and broadcasting freedom for 37 years. Gary sits on the National Council of The Campaign for Press & Broadcasting Freedom (http://www.cpbf.org.uk/), which is funded by membership and trade unions. Established in 1979, the CPBF strives for a more accountable, freer and diverse media. Gary has a background in journalism and writing, beginning his career as a freelance journalist and author, specialising in film and popular music and authoring or co-authoring a number of books. If you would like to find out more information about Gary, you can visit http://www.keywordsassociates.com/.

For more ways to listen, to subscribe to the podcast or to sign-up for e-mail updates when new content is available, please click here.

On Liberty and Free Speech

The title of this episode is an homage to an important philosophical work by John Stuart Mill, ‘On Liberty’, which was published in 1859. In this edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan is joined by journalist, podcaster and activist, Joshua Thomas, host of Liberty Live and the Political Conundrum Podcast. Whilst Aidan and Joshua disagree on several points, a true liberal democracy’s interpretation of free speech must surely mean that diametrically opposed arguments can be made without shouting your opponent down. In addition to the central theme of the episode, also discussed and defined are ‘fake news’, ‘the regressive left’ and ‘social justice warriors’. Aidan and Joshua also look at the Daily Mail infamously labelling UK judges as ‘enemies of the people’, and much more. For more information on Joshua, you can catch Liberty Live every Saturday evening at 8PM GMT on YouTube, where you can also find the Political Conundrum Podcast. Joshua is on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/PoliticalConundrum/) and YouTube (http://bit.ly/2g4ZXiN).

For more ways to listen, to subscribe to the podcast or to sign-up for e-mail updates when new content is available, please click here.

Challenging Bad Ideas

[This article is a companion piece for The Aidan Project Podcast episode, Left to Die: Whilst Liberals Slept, which is available at the footer of this page or by clicking here]

ayaan

“Americans on both sides should find a way to address the lethal ideology of Islamism. This standoff is a distraction.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
9 February 2017

I have provided this companion piece to put to writing one of the most surreal examples of the Regressive Left‘s insatiable desire for self-strangulation and to address what I will simply call ‘bad ideas’. Enter the Southern Poverty Law Centre, an organisation which incomprehensibly included Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali on a list of dangerous extremists in October 2016.

The SPLC describes itself as ‘combating hate, intolerance, and discrimination through education and litigation’. There is no question that the SPLC has been responsible for a number of admirable successes in tackling intolerance, but it has now gone completely off course. Indeed, by adding Nawaz and Ali to a list of persons it alleges exploit terrorist attacks to demonize the Islamic faith, the left has struck a new low in inexplicable moral confusion.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a heroic icon of would-be Islamic Enlightenment. Fleeing an arranged marriage and the confines of a strict Islamic upbringing, Ali found asylum in the Netherlands, where she embraced liberal, democratic values. Ali, who admits in her book that in her indoctrinated youth she supported the Fatwa against Salman Rushdie, is now a brave campaigner for Islamic reform. A dangerous job, which she tackles with immense courage and intelligence.

Maajid Nawaz now operates a counter-radicalization group called Quilliam. Nawaz, a former Islamist himself, speaks with insight about Islam, and makes clear the distinctions between Muslims, Islamists and Jihadists. A distinction all too often confused by the real Islamaphobes, who address all groups as one. Unfortunately, to his enemies on the left, Nawaz is – in true regressive fashion – labelled as Islamophobic, while his opponents on the right infer that he is a secret Islamist on a mission of infiltration. What a sorry state of affairs.

The SPLC would certainly go on my list of regressive liberal organisations which have completely lost the plot. The poverty of progress could not be more pronounced than with this embarrassing own goal by the SPLC. What chance, I ask, does the left have in winning the moral and progressive argument when its own best assets of informed reason are themselves attacked as extremists? It is not only the right which have moved to post-truth, the left is at it as well.

The wider debate continues, and whilst the left argues with itself about Islam, immigration, healthcare, the economy – and anything else worth debating – there is only one winner, and it is not the left. To be sure, the left has always been at war with itself, but I simply do not believe it needs to be this way. We just need some honesty. Real honesty. Perhaps even uncomfortable honesty. We urgently need to have difficult conversations that do not confuse the true essence of liberal democracy. Bad ideas must be challenged by good ones. And there are some really bad ideas out there.

Perhaps, even with the left totally confused and impotent, Trump would still have won, and Brexit would still have happened. However, at least with a sensible, honest left, there would be a united opposition to Trump’s bigotry.  As it happens, large sections of the left are willing to defend bigotry and misogyny, as long, of course, if it is done in the name of good-old-fashioned religion. But there is no such tolerance for the President. Would Trump’s infamous “grab ’em by the pussy” utterance be okay if it was merely the sincere expression of a deeply held belief based on his closely observed religious faith? Is this not ever so slightly patronising and hypocritical to condemn Trump but let the zealots off from their nonsense because of their supernatural beliefs? Let us be clear: neither Trump nor the devout should get a pass for bad ideas. It is quite proper to expect more from society. There is nothing more regressive than letting bad ideas slide for fear of causing offence. You should never have to apologise for bad ideas.

We must be able to say honestly, in the 21st century, that desiring to throw homosexuals off buildings for the “crime” of their sexuality is wrong, regardless of religious belief. I am not an Islamaphobe for saying that. If you are willing to defend the right of any religion to hold such pernicious views then you are part of the problem. If you want honest debate and want to help challenge the nonsense of the Regressive Left, please do share my message. Please also support Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz.

‘Left to Die: Whilst Liberals Slept’
Podcast

For more ways to listen, to subscribe to the podcast or to sign-up for e-mail updates when new content is available, please click here.

Pokemon Diplomacy and Transnational Culture

On this edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan is joined on the line from Oregon by Jared Miracle, a cultural entomologist with an M.Ed. and a PhD. in anthropology from Texas A&M University. Where did tea really originate from? Or the bow and arrow? Or Pokémon? Probably not from where you may have assumed. In this episode, Aidan and Jared discuss cultural phenomena, homing in on the case of Pokémon, of which Jared is the world’s leading scholar. Aidan and Jared also discuss the fascinating characteristics of Japanese culture more generally. Also discussed on the show is violence in society, delayed human adaption to modern technology, and much more. Jared is an author, educator, researcher, martial artist, chef, and much else besides. Definitely a fun show to share with your friends to get them hooked on The Aidan Project! You can follow Jared on Facebook (facebook.com/jaredmiraclewriter) and Twitter (@DocKungFu).

For more ways to listen, to subscribe to the podcast or to sign-up for e-mail updates when new content is available, please click here.