False accusations have bad consequences



Jeremy Corbyn is suspended from the Labour Party following misconduct allegations.


Jeremy Corbyn was recently suspended from the Labour Party over alleged claims that his statement responding to an internal report investigating the party’s response mechanism to claims of anti-Semitism were inadequate.

Essentially, Corbyn merely pointed out that, while the report did bring to light legitimate failures in reporting processes in order to respond to cases of anti-Semitism within the party that needed to be addressed and resolved, what also became clear from the report was the reality that this narrative of rampant anti-Semitism within the Labour Party was ginned up by right-wing media and political figures, in concert with anti-left forces within Labour itself and that the scale of the issue was completely manufactured. As the report itself indicates, there was a total of two elected Labour officials who had had legitimate complaints of anti-Semitism filed against them, and hundreds of complaints that were filed did not pertain to Labour members at all. For merely restating the conclusions of the report, Corbyn was suspended from the party in a clear bid to purge any elements of leftism from within the party.

Corbyn has long been vilified as supposedly not being resolute enough in dealing with the supposedly rampant anti-Semitism within the Labour Party, when not being called an anti-Semitic himself outright. This cynical deployment of accusations of bigotry for the sake of partisan factionalism is repulsive for a number of reasons.

Perhaps most obviously is the fact that anti-Semitism is a very real phenomena, so falsely accusing someone of anti-Semitism (or any other form of bigotry) in bad faith only serves to delegitimize valid, good faith accusations of anti-Semitism. It further serves to obfuscate from the real perpetrators of anti-Semitism, the Tories and the right-wing more generally, by instead refocusing on Labor. It is because anti-Semitism is an important issue that we need to contend with that we need to be careful in applying the label. The instrumentalization of anti-Semitism for political ends only shows that the people who are instrumentalizing it do not actually care about anti-Semitism, and only deploy the term when it serves their political ends.

We have seen this practice replicated in the States as well. Centrists often use smear tactics in order to character assassinate leftists. Ilhan Omar is often accused of anti-Semitism for her critique of Israel’s ethnic cleansing program. More recently, primary challengers Alex Morse and Shahid Buttar were falsely accused of sexual misconduct in what can only be deemed homophobic and racist campaigns against them. What is most disgusting about falsely accusing someone of sexual misconduct is that it undermines the #MeToo movement and all that it has accomplished.

When people can point to clear instances of false accusations, that only serves to delegitimize valid accusations of rape and sexual harassment. Sexual harassment and rape are serious issues, not merely political cudgels to be utilized when needed. Those who deploy them in such a manner only show that they do not care about them as actual issues.

While claims of bigotry are verifiable, they are also unfalsifiable, meaning that while we can sometimes show that someone is bigoted, we can never prove that someone is not bigoted. With the recent advent of phrases such as “unconscious biases,” this only becomes more so the case, since a phrase like this means that biases are literally undetectable even by the person who holds them. This makes such claims of bigotry superfluous, since they can never be tested for falsity, and even if they somehow could be proven to exist, nothing could be done about them.

By definition, the unconscious is that which is not liable to the conscious. Such claims about the internal psychic economy of another therefore become meaningless, and it is unclear what the implication of such a claim would be. Except, of course, that there is no implication, there is nothing that needs to be done to resolve it, since those making the claims are not acting in good faith, they themselves do not believe the claims, so it does not matter to them that one resolve the bigotries that they know that person does not have. It is merely enough to have deemed them so.