Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Brian Haw: 1,251 Days

UK Indymedia (and redundant copies on numerous other (redundant) IMC sites) are beside themselves reporting that Brian Haw has now spent 1,251 protesting. For those of you who don't know who Brian Haw is:
He began camping in Parliament Square in central London in a one-man political protest against war and foreign policy (initially, the sanctions against Iraq).
Like the two Japanese soldiers who didn't know WWII was over, at first it seemed Haw never found out the sanctions on Iraq were lifted years ago. Not to worry, his protest turned into one against the Iraq war and in particular, George W. Bush and Tony Blair.
The new rules covering protest in Parliament Square say that anyone wanting to demonstrate within 1 kilometre (about half a mile) of Parliament must have authorisation from the police `when the demonstration starts`. Brian’s lawyers successfully argued that as his demonstration had started four years ago he did not have to apply for authorisation, even though the law was aimed specifically at him. Three judges decided by a 2-1 majority in the high court that legislation brought in to control demonstrations around the Houses of Parliament did not apply to Brian Haw.
Brian’s solicitor David Thomas said, “It is clearly embarrassing for the government.”
I understand the laws were actually moved specifically to deal with Brian Haw, and they may be a problem.
Outside the court Brian said he would continue his protest for “as long as it takes”.
I guess you can do that when you are an
unemployed British carpenter who is famous for living in Parliament Square since 2001
according to the WikiPedia entry whose text has been copied alongside the photos on Indymedia.

It states:
Supporters of the UK and US policy in Iraq have however accused Haw of anti-Semitism.
Which I found a little odd. Outside of Indymedia, I would have thought being opposed to antisemitism had nothing to do with one's support for UK or US policy, and everything to do with antisemitism. It seemed, allegations of unfair accusations of antisemitism were being used to write-off Haw's critics. This peculiar contradiction has happened on Indymedia before.

So, besides being a little nutty, was Haw an antisemite?

Naturally the Indymedia article (and Wikipedia until anyone edits it) didn't list the circumstances. I did a little Googling and came across this in the archive which I reprinting for posterity. It's almost prophetic.
The other protester was...well, where to begin? I don't know if it was overhearing my American accent or seeing Jon's yarmulke that set him off, but he went apeshit. At first, he was sitting down on the side of the road, holding his placard and shouting angrily at Jon about Pol Pot, Cambodia, depleted uranium, the cancer that the American military has given to every Iraqi citizen since the invasion (I'm not making this up), Lord Carrington and, of course, freedom for Palestine. I found his hatefulness quite disturbing. Just looking at some of the protest signs -- here's a charming one that depicts Tony Blair as Adolf Hitler -- made me feel sick. But being face to face with that kind of rage was something I had never experienced.
In the end, the man rose from his seat to follow me, getting all up in my face and shouting the entire time about my "Jew-loving country" and how I should be ashamed of where I come from. Sick, sick, sick. (The police who were on hand ignored the man's threatening behaviour and continued to stand watch over Carol Gould and the peaceful people with her who were holding a silent vigil in memory of the Israeli PM. Make of that what you will.) Frank later tried to make jokes about how the guy was probably on staff at Indymedia, and how it's pretty much a rule of thumb that anyone who's wearing more than six political buttons on their hat is probably not the most sane person on earth, but I couldn't find anything remotely amusing about the experience. Such views are not rare in this country, or in other parts of the world where people should know better. As the four of us walked up Whitehall later, past Downing Street (where I stopped to take a photo -- later accidentally deleted -- of Mr Cuthbertson in front of the gates), I felt monumentally sad about what had just transpired, about the blight of anti-Semitism and about where this world is headed
UPDATE: Anthony Wells writes:

The guy yelling at you in Parliament Square is one Brian Haw. I recognised him from the photo - have a look on google, there are pages dedicated to him. He is the dead loss who has been camping out there for the last two years.
If some schadenfreude would help, I believe his wife has left him. Then again, if your husband spent two years sitting on a traffic island hurling abuse at passers by and pissing in a flowerbed, wouldn't you?
Wow, that is sad. I mean it -- his poor family. Google does have more information on Mr Haw, and yes, Indymedia loves him.
They sure do.

In some cultures, unemployed people who eat, sleep and live on the street, abusing strangers are called homeless and attract sympathy. On Indymedia, they are called heroes.

Yeah, I had a brief conversation with him back in January, pointing out that Goldman Sachs International is actually run by an Irishman, making the Jewish label a bit problematic.
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