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?
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.)
And looking at the GAO database of extremist perpetrators was confusing. They have listed the nut job that flew a small plane into an office building in Austin, Tx, because it housed the Internal Revenue Service. Was he an extremist or was he just crazy? There is a difference. It listed three individuals (two of whom it identified as “extreme”) who killed a drug dealer. Hmmm. Did anyone stop to consider that the drug dealer was in a high risk job and these three may have just been dissatisfied customers? They listed Nidal Hasan, the Ft. Hood jerk who shot 13 people on base. Really? And they had several listings for the Tsarnaev Brothers, the Boston bombers and then another individual listing for Tamerlan Tsarnaev. How many times do you get to count these guys? And then, the DC sniper. Whoever this guy is, he is listed over and over and over for every location he took a shot from. How do they know this guy is an extremist? Or a white supremacist? Or a radicalized Islamist? This is the same GAO group that determined, somehow, that there were no leftist groups contributing to deaths during this time period (9/2001-12/2016). And that is just a very small part of the data. It is both tedious and soul-wrenching to go through this GAO data and the paper by Clark. But one thing is clear: Simon Clark is on the same page as the other executives at CCDH.
So this entire bunch is certainly political! They may not have a line item in the budget to donate to political causes and, as hard as I looked, I could not find who their donors are. But they are assuredly agenda-driven and this informs their products. They are all about the progressive narrative and they are out to destroy anyone who dares speak against it.
You might recall the early days of Covid when the government was scrambling to come up with a rational strategy to address the virus. First it was “two weeks to stop the spread”, then it was masks, then no masks, then back to masks, then two masks, six feet between individuals, then lockdown…we all remember it. And there was concern over treatment modalities as well. There was the AMA and then there were America’s Frontline Doctors.
I loved those Frontline Doctors because they did two things for me. First, they often made me think and then go do some research myself. Second, they sometimes affirmed my own thoughts. I was very happy to listen to these outspoken members of the medical community. Plus, I think we are never so blind as when we all agree. But suddenly, we started hearing about The Disinformation Dozen! Where did those talking points come from? And they were targeting some of my Frontline Docs, especially those who were taking issue with the government narratives of natural evolution of the virus from a wet market, concerns that masks did not work, disagreements with government about best treatment modalities, and, later, issues relative to vaccination efficacy. Well, best be sitting down, because you will not believe this. Or, after reading this far, perhaps you will. The concept of the Disinformation Dozen came directly from Imran Ahmed. He coined the name and the CCDH began their campaign to smear these people in the press.
They made a point of going after a “disinformation” doctor who testified to the Ohio House in June, 2021, in support of House Bill 248. House Bill 248 was developed to allow Ohioans Covid Vaccination choice and the ability to opt out of the vax without recrimination, isolation, or other discriminatory actions. It was good for the people of Ohio, giving them choice, freedom and safety. But the CCDH was brutal in their condemnation of this witness. The progressive CCDH simply wanted the mandate to stay and they were willing to do anything to keep it. The press was a willing accomplice, publishing many articles against this doctor and against HB 248 that were based in “…according to the CCDH…”. Forget the fact that no one had ever heard of the CCDH, the CCDH was unheard of in every neighborhood in the US, and none of us knew what they did. There they were with no medical knowledge annihilating a based medical witness. And the press was all too happy to go along. Ahmed very willingly accepts the fact that he wants the “Dishonest Dozen” banned from online forums. So much for free speech, right Imran? Likely his biggest fear is open scientific discussion.
According to the CCDH, the “hate” label applies not only to racism and misogyny, but also to so-called anti-vaxxers, the “anti-mask” crowd, pro-lifers, election-deniers, climate change deniers, and, I would posit, any position that is to the right of center. These are NOT positions of hate. Note that they never define “hate”. It is what they want it to be at the time. To them, hate is the pro-life woman who wants to talk to another woman experiencing a problem pregnancy. It is the scientist who has data that shows the oceans are not rising. It is the doctor who has medications to treat Covid but can’t use them because of the government narrative.
But what is even more alarming is that these people are writing papers advising the White House, Parliament, how to move on policy and putting their spin on why those policies are required. They are in the drivers’ seat determining internet policy and what can be said online. This is about implementing the policies of the left and limiting speech. It is about banning entire groups of people from having an online presence. Moreover, in their capacity as a non-profit NGO, I looked for their funding sources. Those sources are not identified anywhere. I want to know where they get their money. I want to know what their budget is. I think they are lying about being “non-affiliated” and I want to follow the money. I want to know how many “researchers” they have and what their bona fides are because I don’t see many bona fides anywhere in this bunch. I see a group of leftist progressives who have come together to make the world in their image. And their image of the world is awful.
I am one of the writers for Czechs and Balances substack. I had my awakening during the Clinton White House years. When the president of my country came out with the defense that it “…depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is”, I knew I had had enough of democrat prevarication and weasel words. The Clintons raised my hackles to an entirely new level. My interests in recent years have centered around the new level we seem to have achieved in which our struggle seems less and less political and more and more against evil itself. I can’t help but feel that the Clintons are instrumental in raising that bar, and their minions rushed in to assist at every turn. They are not the highest level of evil but they have been very successful in bringing people into their fold, cajoling and teasing until people do not even realize how very far they have fallen. It has been a hard 30 years watching my country fall into the hands of those who would do her harm. I am trying to wake people up but some never will.