Friday, May 08, 2009

US 'shock jock' to sue Jacqui Smith

Savage attack: Michael Savage says he's been libeled by Home secretary

British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith may find herself in court in the coming months after placing an American radio presenter on a list of persons banned from Britain. Michael Savage, a so called ‘shock jock’, has joined a list which included convicted terrorists, murderers and Islamic fanatics. But his addition to the list has angered the 67 year old presenter who insists he has been defamed by the Home Secretary.

And in response he has threatened to sue Ms Smith personally, unless he is removed from the list and receives a written apology.

Britain’s ‘least wanted’

The list of Britain’s “least wanted” which was published this week seeks to exclude people the government considers dangerous. It is made up of 22 individuals, though only 16 are named. It names 7 radical Islamists, one Jewish radical, two Russian right wing extremists and several US citizens ranging from neo Nazis to radical preachers.

Amongst those mentioned are the Hamas MP Yunis Al Astal. He once claimed that ““Rome will be conquered [by Islam], just like Constantinople” and is considered by the Home Office to be an individual who engages in “unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs and to provoke others to terrorist acts." Others Islamic extremists include Hezbollah terrorist Samir Al Quntar and preacher Amir Siddique. Samir Al Quntar once participated in the attempted kidnapping of an Israeli family in Nahariya that resulted in the deaths of four Israelis and two of his fellow kidnappers. He was released from prison last year after 29 years in prison. Other Islamic radicals included are Nasr Javed, Wadgy Abd El Hamied Mohamed_Ghoneim, Abdullah Qadri Al Ahdal and Safwat Hijazi.

It’s not just Islamic extremists on the list. Jewish extremist Mike Guzovsky is also included. Guzorsky is listed as a contact for the US banned terror organisation

Far right Russian skinheads Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky said to be responsible for leading a violent gang that beat migrants and posted films of their attacks on the internet have been banned from Britain, though both are languishing in prison following their conviction in 2007 in connection with the murder of 37 people.

Apart from Michael Savage, there are 5 other Americans on the list. Ex-Ku Klux Klan grand wizard Stephen Donald Black, neo-Nazi Erich Gliebe, Muslim activist Abdul Alim Musa, radical pastor Fred Waldron Phelps and Shirley Phelps-Roper.

Many of those named on the list have not expressed any specific desire to travel to the UK, and at least three are currently in prison.

Defamation claims

Following the publication of the list, Michael Savage, whose real name is Michael Weiner, said he was shocked.

“I looked at the headline on the Drudge Report and I couldn’t believe it,” Savage told listeners on his radio show, “I thought it was a joke.”

But his shock turned to anger after the DJ found out who he’d been associated with.
"For this lunatic Jacqui Smith, to link me up with skinheads killing people in Russia and mass murderers who kill Jews on buses is defamation,” Savage proclaimed. “She has put a target on my back,” the controversial radio presenter added, and said he would sue the British politician.

Jacqui Smith has justified the inclusion of Mr Savage on the list saying he was “someone who has fallen into the category of fomenting hatred, of such extreme views and expressing them in such a way that it is actually likely to cause intercommunity tension or even violence if that person were allowed into the country.”

Britain’s Prime Minister, Gordon Brown also defended the government position. “There will have been specific decisions made by the Home Office based on the evidence that they have,” he said. “Our general position is that we do want to make a distinction between reasonable and moderate debate and actions that deliberately set out to create tensions.”

Following the release of the list, several news organisations clamoured for interviews from Savage, who is not well known in Britain. The BBC, Sky News and CNN all covered the story giving Michael Savage more publicity than he could have imagined.

The irony is that the decision to include the ‘shock jock’ on the ‘least wanted’ list has served to bring his views to a far wider audience. Few in Britain would have heard of Savage or his programme the “Savage Nation” before this week. In years past his show could only be heard on short wave radio, but with the advent of the Internet many can easily tune in to his chat show.

Ranting and raving

For those who listened in to the several affiliate stations which carry the Savage Nation, they were met with the ranting of an angry man. Savage, who has published several books and holds a PhD, claims he has up to 10 million listeners across America. From this large base he says he will launch boycott of British goods and travel to the country.

“Britain will suffer financially from this mistake,” Michael Savage told his listeners on Thursday. In his show which warns listeners of “adult language and psychological nudity”, Savage claims he represents the majority of what America believes.

“I talk about family values,” he said, running a campaign of “Borders, language and culture”.

His views are nonetheless very strong. He has spoken out very strongly against homosexuality and Islamic terrorists. He has also been criticised for statements made about autism, though he says he has made mistakes at times. But he insists he has never incited violence.

He holds nothing back in his criticism of those he dislikes. On Thursday night’s show he called the British government “extremist” and described Home Secretary Jacqui Smith as a “Witch”, a “hateful person” and a “creature”.

“I am going to use attorneys of England to sue Jacqui Smith,” he said, “Send me a letter of apology or you will find yourself in the courts.”

Callers to the show were unsurprisingly supportive of the right-wing DJ. One caller who claimed to be a former London police office calling from within the US said the British government had chosen a “White American radical Jew to appease the Islamists”.

“They are petrified of radical Muslims” the caller said, and in order to placate those that might feel the Muslim population had been unfairly singled out, Savage had been added to the list. “I’ve heard that,” Savage said, but avoided direct agreement.

Britain an "extremist nation"

His show was punctuated with bursts of Rule Britannia, the Russian ex-Soviet Nationale and the Sex Pistol’s God Save the Queen. At one point he played what he regarded as one of the most important speeches of all time, that given by Winston Churchill on June 18th 1940.

“What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us.

Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.' ”

It was all a part of his attempt to show how Britain had lost sight of its once well founded principles of democracy and free speech laid out in the Magna Carta.

“If they don’t get some backbone they won’t have a nation” Savage declared.

“People are saying to me that this is the last gasp of a troubled Labour party that is out of touch with the voters of England,” Savage told reporters earlier. “That's all well and good but will the Conservatives undo the damage that this lunatic has done?”

Oxygen of publicity

Whether or not his views are dangerous, as the government maintains, their efforts to exclude him from Britain, has only increased his public profile. But it is not the first time such plans have backfired. In February this year Dutch right wing politician Geert Wilders was turned back at Heathrow by authorities because of his views. As a result he was unable to attend a meeting in London’s parliament, but the publicity served only to increase his public profile. His controversial film Fitna subsequently received record hits on video websites and there were pages of debate in the national press and on television about a previously unheard of politician.

In fact the banning of people, books and records has often served to make them more popular than they otherwise would have been. By banning Savage, the Labour party, which are already suffering in the polls, has courted yet more bad publicity for itself. From a failing economy, criticism over MP’s expenses to accusations of directing the country towards a police state, the government is on the defensive. A libel case against the Home Secretary is the last thing it needs.

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