Saturday October 8, 2005
Is it me, or is there something a tad fishy about the sudden disappearance from the web of Harry, creator of and lead contributor to the eponymous blog Harry's Place? You don't have to be a conspiracy-obsessed neocon to wonder about the timing of Harry's departure, at the very top of his blogging game - and believe me, Harry was good. How do you explain his exit, after a blog lasting three years, at exactly the time the government is being urged by its army (and yes, I use the term advisedly) of Islamist advisers, to do all it can to reassure the famously moderate British Muslims that a caliphate, if not exactly round the corner, is not an impossible dream?
Paranoid, moi? Last time I was accused of this (when the new dustbin went missing) my suspicions (the menopausal sadsack next door) proved to be not, as alleged, paranoid, but fully justified. And I think I'm dead right about Harry. Maybe if, like me, you'd spent night after night round at his place, chewing the cyberfat with a gang of unseen but like-minded anti-fascists, you might have registered how convenient it would be if the author of the most influential, most free-thinking forum for muscular liberals were, at a stroke, to cease all communication. Put it this way: Harry's departure will have made Ken Livingstone's day. For George Galloway, it came as close as anything ever could to snogging Saddam. The night I heard about Harry's unexpected valediction, I pictured Islamofascists from Tooting to Tikrit chilling the lemonade, laying in the Quality Street and dancing the night away to the happening beat of the SWP. They do dance, right? Or is that just dervishes? Whatever. Respect.
Me? I cried like a woman. Yes, I know we columnists are not as other men: we're strange, antsy, media obsessives who get off on intense intellectual activity. But if you trash our blogs, frankly, it hurts. Where are the anti-appeasers going to show up now? Sure, there's always Annabel's if you want to catch up with an international set that includes, among others, Paul Wolfowitz, Nicky Cohen, Dave Blunkett; but the beer's not cheap and last time I went some bastard conned Blunko into bouncing a young neo-Stalinist on his knee.
Who was Harry? Politically, I'd put the great blogmeister somewhere around the rightish end of a continuum that starts with dear old Rosa Luxembourg and ends with Charles Clarke. Like many of us, he'd made that arduous journey from the idealistic wing of the CPGB to the place now occupied by liberal humanitarian interventionists, thinking every step of the way. For those of you who'll never have the privilege of sparring with Harry, I'll quote the man himself. "Wake up you sad, naive cretin", he challenged one of the many fascistic stoppers (Harry's Place shorthand for surrender monkeys) who constantly challenged his dialectic. "Why don't you all just fuck off to your own websites", he told another loser, who subsequently had to be banned. "I'm sick of reading your crap on my site now." It was a working democracy.
For me and many fellow internationalists who've had to struggle to be heard, there was inspiration as well as consolation. At Harry's I first debated how many deaths would have to accumulate before it was legitimate to raise doubts about the liberation of the Iraqi people (the population of Iraq, plus one, we decided). But it wasn't all politics. It was there I heard that a biggish note in the church collection box got you into the local primary. At Harry's I found the support to keep on keeping going. Without it, I might not be here. Is it so strange now that Harry had to go?