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Ironically, the Oxfam Sex Scandal Got Worse When They Did Things Right
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The news agenda is dominated by melodramatic scandals that act as simplified versions of reality in which roles are allocated to accusers, victims, perpetrators and those condemned for failing to prevent wrong-doing. A few scandals are rooted in reality, such as those focused on Harvey Weinstein or Jimmy Saville, but others are becoming ever more exaggerated or phoney.

The media knows a good story when it sees one, regardless of whether it is true or false. It is interesting how the same characteristics crop in each scandal, however different they might at first appear: the most dubious sources of information are treated as credible; these sources gain the status of “victims” whom it is forbidden to criticise; the accusations against the person or institution under attack are vague, multiple and toxic; the trivial or shaky nature of the original crime is forgotten as the scandal is spiced up with claims of a cover-up, something which can never be wholly disproved even by the most thorough going disclosure.

There is a high degree of hypocrisy in the media pretence that it is duty-bound to report the most unlikely and obviously partisan allegations. In fact, it loves these stories of gladiatorial combat between angels and devils, though the scenario has often been concocted for partisan political purposes. The aim of any PR or propaganda person is to create stories that they know the press will be unable to leave alone. Fabricating a scandal is not difficult: an example of this is Hillary Clinton, who was cumulatively damaged by a series of fake scandals: the Whitewater real estate scandal in the 1990s from which she made no money; her use of a private email account that revealed no secrets; and the absurd attempt to hold her responsible for the murder of the US ambassador in Benghazi in 2012. As with most fake scandals, the aim was to slide away from any substantive charges but create a general belief among voters that she was slippery and evasive.

In Britain most scandals have a sexual element, but allegations of a cover-up are now so prevalent that anybody is vulnerable, however innocent. Even the most bizarre accusations are taken seriously. Take two recent cases: in 2015, the Church of England announced that George Bell, one of the most distinguished Anglican bishops of the twentieth century, famous for his principled criticism of the carpet bombing of German cities in the Second World War, was denounced by his own church for sexually abusing a child some 63 years previously. Having died in 1958, he could not defend himself and the accusation came from a single woman, “Carol”, while nobody else had complained about his behaviour. Yet without any real evidence being produced, the church decided to say it believed her, paid compensation and denigrated one of its most highly regarded members.

An independent inquiry was established by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, which found that the original report was shoddy and ill-informed. This should have elicited an apology from Archbishop to the memory of Bishop Bell since there was no evidence that he had done anything wrong. But Welby was evidently more frightened of being accused of a “cover-up” in defending Bell and did no such thing.

Instead, the Archbishop agreed that Bell has great achievements to his name – such as looking after Jewish children in flight from the Holocaust and helping German Christians resist Hitler – but it turned out that a single unsupported allegation made 50 years after the event outweighed this. “We realise that a significant cloud is left over his name,” said the Archbishop, adding that Bell had been accused of great wickedness.

There are echoes here of the psychology and behaviour that fuelled the great witch craze in Europe of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, during which anybody who did not support the most crazed allegations of the witch-finders feared the accusation that they themselves were complicit with the witches.

The same point is made by the story of another pretended scandal even more bizarre than that of Bishop Bell. This time the accuser, called “Nick”, claimed that he had been the victim of a VIP paedophile ring operating from the Carlton Club and an apartment block called Dolphin Square in London. Members of the supposed ring included Edward Heath and Leon Britain, the former Home Secretary, along with Field Marshall Lord Bramall. The ring, according to Nick, had murdered three boys, one of whom was knifed by an MP. The Metropolitan Police opened an investigation which found these allegations “credible and true”, despite a complete lack of evidence other than from Nick himself. The police even held a press conference in 2015 outside Heath’s old home in Salisbury appealing for his victims to come forward.

Why should such obvious nonsense receive such publicity? In part, because the press and public alike enjoy stories in which members of the establishment are unmasked as child molesters. But such is the merciless nature of modern scandal generation that few dare defend those who should be very defensible such as Bishop Bell, Edward Heath or Oxfam.

Those accused in such cases are in a particularly vulnerable position because it is difficult to disprove a fantasy, particularly if the accusation is lurid and disgusting. Those targeted know that even the most convincing denial will simply give the story legs and further damage their reputations.

The Oxfam “sex scandal” is the product of much the same script that has produced fake or exaggerated scandals in the past. The media has been lapping it up because it has all the elements of the classic British scandal, including the claim that high moral issue is involved.

ORDER IT NOW

There is a strong defence for Oxfam which is that the offences of which a small number of their staff accused are relatively trivial and have, as far as I can tell, not increased the sum of human misery in Haiti or anywhere else. Prostitution in the island is the result of the terrible poverty, not the availability of aid workers as clients. Most of the media revelations about Oxfam’s failings in Haiti come in any case from the aid agency’s own report, but critics have used this copiously as a stick to beat Oxfam, then turn round and accuse it of a “cover-up”, though most of the contents of the report were published by the BBC in 2011.

The hypocrisy is breathtaking: had Oxfam not reacted so quickly to allegation of bad behaviour by its staff in Haiti, there would have been no report and probably no scandal. Instead, it sent an expert investigation team, identified those responsible for misbehaviour and dismissed them. It did all this in the middle of a cholera epidemic which was to kill 7,500 and which Oxfam was trying to stem. Had it not done so, and had there been no report, it would not be in such trouble now.

Senior Oxfam figures tried briefly to defend themselves on the rational grounds that they had done little wrong and much right, but such a defence is not acceptable when the public mood is one of undiluted self-righteousness. They rightly concluded that they were much better off firing off volleys of apologies and showing extreme contrition for their over-exaggerated failings. One day the Oxfam scandal, along with those that denigrated Hillary Clinton, Edward Heath and Bishop Bell, will be recognised as the fake that it is.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Oxfam, Political Correctness 
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  1. Zimriel says:

    “the absurd attempt to hold her responsible for the murder of the US ambassador in Benghazi in 2012″

    This is straw, Patrick; and unworthy of you.

    The core Benghazi accusation is that Obama’s administration did not act to rescue thirty other people affected, after the murder had happened. This event, including how these men were actually rescued (i.e. by other Libyans) is dramatically portrayed in “13 Hours”.

    Then Obama gave notice to blame all of it on some stupid yootoob which nobody had watched; Clinton joined in this misdirection. The intent was, opportunistically, to drive critical commentary about Islam off the public square. As has been seen with the Northern Virginia flag (successfully) and is now being seen with NRA supporters and gun owners generally (so far, also successfully).

    THESE are the Clinton scandals. As a member of the alternative media yourself, Patrick, you should be more in sympathy with their exposure. BTW the Clintons are more directly involved with a number of other scandals, including over Haiti during the relief-effort, and would have made the law-enforcement agencies a Clinton-run NKVD, but hey.

  2. I wish to accuse Chuck Berry. He came to Britain in 1972 and invited numerous children to play with his ding-a-ling (a possible reference to Bishop Bell) and the recording reached #1 in the BBC top 20 in spite of protests from morality complainer Mary Whitehouse who alleged she had found a class of small boys with their trousers undone, singing the song and giving it the indecent interpretation.

    Whitehouse died in 2001 and was never charged with voyeuristic paedophilia.

    Berry, who in 1962 had been sentenced to three years in prison for offenses under the Mann Act—he had transported a 14-year-old girl across state lines died in 2017 and his ding-a-ling was buried with him.

    My Ding-a-Ling was a song based on an obscene song of the 19th century called Little Brown Jug that glorified the use of the intoxicant known as alcohol which was at one time prohibited in the US.

    Based on these facts, I believe Berry has earned a place in the Rock N’Roll Hall of Infamy.

  3. Fabricating a scandal is not difficult: an example of this is Hillary Clinton, who was cumulatively damaged by a series of fake scandals: the Whitewater real estate scandal in the 1990s from which she made no money; her use of a private email account that revealed no secrets; and the absurd attempt to hold her responsible for the murder of the US ambassador in Benghazi in 2012.

    Those just deflected attention from the real scandal of utilizing [sic] her professional legal education to dissuade a rape victim from pursuing charges without, technically, dissuading her and thus breaking the law.

    It would hardly be surprising to learn that many of the weakest charges against both Clintons originated within their own camp.

  4. What I’m reading is, Oxfam are good guys, lay off them. Which is bad but it’s how things go. I wonder if Cockburn would make the same argument if the ones proved guilty (which is different from the Bell case because Bell was never proven guilty of anything) were members of a Christian church. I doubt it. But, again, that’s how things go.

  5. H.S. says:

    In Britain most scandals have a sexual element, but allegations of a cover-up are now so prevalent that anybody is vulnerable, however innocent.

    [...]

    Why should such obvious nonsense receive such publicity? In part, because the press and public alike enjoy stories in which members of the establishment are unmasked as child molesters.

    The same “element” is repeatedly used by Canadian mainstreams to discredit organizations, people, charities, politicians, churches, etc.. These MSMs and their owners, i.e., the Anglo/US/NATO “elite” probably wants to discredit OXFAM and Oxfam’s reports on the horrific consequences of NATO’s humanitarian bombings/sanctions/interventions in Libya and Syria:

    One year on from Libya migration deal, people still in captivity and suffering abuses

    Published:
    1 February 2018

    “Many people are still trapped in captivity and suffering abuses in Libya a year after Italy struck an EU-backed deal with the government to stop irregular migrants. Migrants who have managed to escape Libya following the deal have told Oxfam and its partner Borderline Sicilia of on-going kidnapping, murder, rape and forced labor.

    “The Libya migration deal is fundamentally flawed, and people are suffering in horrific conditions. Italy must end the deal immediately. A new agreement must prioritize the safety and wellbeing of all those in Libya who require help. Instead of trying to stop migrants from leaving Libya, the EU must focus on liberating all migrants – regardless of their nationalities – from the detention centres they are in.”

    https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2018-02-01/one-year-libya-migration-deal-people-still-captivity-and

    Or:

    Thousands trapped in Syria’s Afrin district need protection and aid

    Published:
    5 February 2018

    “Refugees and residents in the Afrin district of Syria are trapped between warring parties on the border with Turkey without any protection or proper medical supplies, Oxfam warned today.

    Oxfam in Syria warned that more than 5,000 people are now displaced because of the recent surge in fighting in Afrin. There are limited supplies of food, water and medicine. Routes out of the district have been blocked off, leaving people wanting to flee with nowhere to go. Families trying to escape the city have reportedly been forced by local fighters to pay an “exit fee” of $100 per vehicle. This is a prohibitively expensive demand for many people, who have already lost their homes and livelihoods.”

    https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2018-02-05/thousands-trapped-syrias-afrin-district-need-protection-and-aid

  6. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    her use of a private email account that revealed no secrets; and the absurd attempt to hold her responsible for the murder of the US ambassador in Benghazi in 2012.

    Using a private server that was easy to hack was a crime in and of itself. Also, if there was nothing to hide, why was so much of it destroyed?

    On the Libya issue, Benghazi was small potatoes. The real crime was destroying an entire nation. That was a war crime. But for the GOP, destruction of an entire nation was less of a problem than 4 dead Americans. Btw, Obama and media colluded to blame Benghazi on some US pastor who burned a Koran.

    It seems Cockburn is just another lying partisan hack.

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