Who Are These People?

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by Fed Up Texas Chick, The Tenpenny Report:

by Czechs and Balances

Does the name Imran Ahmed ring a bell with you? No? How about Sarah Eagan? Nothing? Tom Lavelle? Let me guess…I’m batting a thousand. So would it surprise you to learn that these people — these great unknowns — are at the helm of a non-profit helping to drive policy in the Biden White House here in the US as well as in the bastions of power in the UK?

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You likely haven’t heard the names Callum Hood or Simon Clark either, but these five individuals make up the driving force of the Center for Combatting Digital Hate (CCDH). It’s a catchy little name that packs an emotional punch for anyone who has been caught up reading online threads in the news calling for this or that group to be silenced, canceled, doxxed, maimed or even killed. It’s a group whose time has certainly come. But wait, not so fast.

Digging into the CCDH website is not a task for the faint of heart, but is well worth the effort for those who wonder about these shadow people. They proclaim political agnosticism and no affiliation to any specific party. So far, so good, but dig deeper.

A search on these people sets off the spidey senses because there is not much information on them. What little can be found does not align with what the CCDH publishes about itself. On one hand, the CCDH claims to have no political affiliation. But if anything can be said about CEO Imran Ahmed, it would be that he IS a political animal through and through. Since 2012, Ahmed has been embroiled in Labour Party politics, serving as senior political advisor to Hilary Benn from 2012-2015 and then aligning with Angela Eagle to help her with her bid for MP. He also co-authored a book with Eagle entitled “The New Serfdom: The Triumph of Conservative Ideas and How To Defeat Them”. That doesn’t sound politically unaffiliated to me. In fact, this book was roundly criticized for its empty attacks on the free-market with no alternatives offered, its condemnation of the current “toxic culture” of personal success, and its calls for an “empowered state”. Angela Eagle is a radical leftist and makes no effort to hide it. Ahmed is a radical leftist, too. In fact, Ed Miliband, himself a leader in the British Labour Party, has referred to Ahmed as a “dangerous” left wing radical when Ahmed served as a Shadow Cabinet advisor.

So when the CCDH tries to foist itself off as politically unaffiliated while having a CEO who is clearly politically active, who can believe that? I don’t.

After establishing his political bona fides, Ahmed launched the not-for-profit CCDH for the ostensible purpose of countering online hate. His Chief of Staff (CoS), one Sarah Eagan, does not have a huge presence online, but then, if my math is close to correct, she is probably only about 26 years old. Prior to becoming the CoS at CCDH, Ms. Eagan was the Press Secretary for NextGen American/Pennsylvania where she self-identified as a “Progressive Political Communicator, Writer and Strategist”. A quick peruse of her articles on Cuttings show her to, indeed, be progressive, liberal, and dedicated to directing young people to the progressive cause. I can’t help but wonder if Ms. Eagan’s clear agenda also plays into the “non-political” stature of the CCDH.

And then we come to Callum Hood, the Head of Research. I expected him to be an established researcher, and therefore braced myself to have to dig my way out from under tons of information, from original papers to co-authored books to a veritable jungle of abstracts and honorable mentions. But nope. I find nothing on this guy except for his work at CCDH and comments made to the press while at CCDH. How does someone get to be the Head of Research without any tangible research to his name? Well, I don’t know but I read some of his work at the CCDH and it is clear that he does not have a research background. The work is a verbose collection of semi-reports and information dumps, with very little data presented to clarify the story. There is a disturbing amount of repetition, minimal tying up of loose ends, and no suggestion of recommendations, next steps, or what the information means in the larger context. Much of the text is loaded; in the same sentence, the hatred of misogyny and racism are combined with the apparent sins of wanting to opt out of the Covid vax or not buying in to the “existential threat” of climate change. One article went so far as to call crisis pregnancy centers “fake clinics”. The basis for this was because sometimes crisis center information was returned to individuals looking for abortions. Now perhaps someone was disappointed to call a center and learn they did not provide abortion services, but to levy the “fake” moniker on these centers is a bridge too far. And I think the purpose is to get them closed. Why else the attacks? There was, actually, some data in this research. A full 11% of respondents reported reaching a crisis center when abortion services were wanted. But this isn’t online hate. Why the heartburn? This research department and its head are not apolitical. They have an agenda; it is very leftist and very progressive.

And what organization is complete without a Head of Campaigns? (It’s a rhetorical question.) The CCDH has Tom Lavelle to round out its management hierarchy. I was certain that this guy would be non-political. After all, right there in the submission to the White House it says: “ …CCDH is independent, is not affiliated to any political party…”. But perhaps it is in the wording. Perhaps they are not “affiliated” by money to any party. But this guy Lavelle has been working in politics for ages. He worked for the office of Gordon and Sarah Brown, and he worked for almost eight years directly for the Labour Party, including Sadiq Kahn, the Mayor of London. In this capacity, he was an organizer for delivery of Labour Party aims and objectives in London. He also served as a Campaign Consultant. This guy is as political as they come and he, too, is a leftist.

Last, but certainly not least, Simon Clark, Chairman of the Board (CoB), is a little bit hard to find on the internet, but he falls in line with the others quite well. Prior to pulling in the CoB position at CCDH, he had a job as Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he lead their efforts to “combat violent white supremacy” by informing the White House’s Domestic Terrorism Strategy of his findings. One of his accomplishments here was co-authoring a paper: 4 First Steps for Congress to Address White Supremacist Terrorism. This piece is a diatribe invoking the dangers of right wing extremism and ignoring domestic terrorism visited upon this country by the likes of Antifa and BLM. They report that white supremacy is the most lethal threat to the US, a factoid they attribute to a CNN report. They have looked at data from a GAO Report entitled Countering Violent Extremism; Actions Needed to Define Strategy and Assess Progress of Federal Efforts. This report conflates white supremacists/extremists and radicalized Islamists in their data collection. Their criteria for defining a white supremacist/extremist includes: 1) nationalistic 2) anti-global 3) suspicious of federal authority 4) reverent of individual liberty (especially owning guns, limiting taxes) 5) belief that one’s personal or national way of life is currently under attack and is lost or may be lost soon 6) belief in the need to be prepared for an attack. (Oh dear. I know some people like that. But they are NOT white supremacists or extremists. Most of them are the kindest, most loving people you would ever meet.)

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