The Independent is right: Jeremy Corbyn’s remarks on Bin-Laden are out of context

Hold the front page! The newspapers, Twitter and the blogosphere have been analysing Jeremy Corbyn’s comments on Press TV in the wake of Bin-Laden’s death; in particular, there has been focus on the fact that Jeremy Corbyn called the death of Bin-Laden a ‘tragedy’.

Did he? Yes. But there’s more to it, as The Independent points out in a piece titled ‘Jeremy Corbyn Calls Osama Bin Laden’s Killing a ‘Tragedy’ — But Was it Taken Out of Context?’ Bin Laden’s death was one a few different events over the past decade and a half that Jeremy Corbyn was referring to as tragedies. Here’s the relevant part of the transcript;

“This was an assassination attempt, and is yet another tragedy, upon a tragedy, upon a tragedy.

“The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy. Tens of thousands of people have died. Torture has come back on to the world stage, been canonised virtually into law by Guantanamo and Bagram.

“Can’t we learn some lessons from this? That we are just going to descend deeper and deeper…”

The Independent is right. Jeremy Corbyn’s remarks on Bin-Laden have been taken out of context.

So let’s help The Independent by giving Jeremy Corbyn’s comments some context.

  • Corbyn seems to be suggesting that there is some sort of moral parity between the Osama Bin Laden and his 9/11 victims, by referring to the deaths of both as being part of an ongoing cycle of ‘tragedy’.

Which is a pretty messed up thing to say.  I’d like to think that most rational people would say something like this — ‘while I disagree with the death penalty, I will personally find it hard to mourn the fact that a mass-murderer is dead.’ But Corbyn can’t bring himself to do that.

  • Corbyn seems to believe that torture has somehow been reintroduced to the world by the US at Guantanamo and Bagram.

Notice which place Corbyn leaves out. That’s right — Abu Ghraib. There was a significant amount of horrific torture carried out by US forces at Abu Ghraib, which is indefensible. However, the fact that Corbyn doesn’t mention this prison along with Guantanamo and Bagram is probably because it would bring attention to the fact that Saddam Hussein’s regime was perpetrating unspeakable horrors at Abu Ghraib for decades before the Iraq invasion. Torture has never been off the world stage — unless for you ‘the world’ means the Western world, and the US in particular.

  • Corbyn is saying all this on Press TV

Amidst all Corbyn’s hand-wringing about being against assassination (he goes on to say that he ‘profoundly disagrees with the death penalty for anybody’), he appears not to have bothered to take a minute to dwell on the following;

‘Hang on. I’m on Press TV, the state-controlled channel of Iran, a country which executes hundreds of people a year. A country which regularly tortures dissidents. A country in which being homosexual can be punishable by death. A country in which a few years ago a man was sentenced to six years with flogging for helping to organise the country’s first independent trade union and his colleague had his tongue sliced by the regime in an attempt to silence him. An independent trade union, for goodness sake! I’m supposed to be a socialist, and yet here I am, being used as a puppet by a dictatorial regime which stands against everything I supposedly hold dear. What am I doing?’

But Jeremy Corbyn has clearly not had that inner monologue — he has been on Press TV not just as a guest, but as a host for a phone-in show.

You want context, Independent? There you go: context has been provided for you.

About the Author
Daniel Sugarman is a twenty-something North West Londoner. He has been described as a fanatic, but only in the sense of being a film fanatic. Daniel blogs about the UK and Israel, as well as the Jewish Community and Culture in general.
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