Saturday, January 03, 2004

Left-Wing Anti-Semitism - A Spanish View

Fascinating Frontpage interview with Catalan leftist Pilar Rahola, who hits a few nails on the head.

On language - "there is also a problem of terrorism in Spain, but when the crimes of ETA [translator's note : the Basque terrorist group] are mentioned, one speaks of terrorism, while when the crimes of Hamas are mentioned, one speaks of militants, activists, resistance, struggle…When one mentions the Palestinian victims, one speaks of children, civilians, innocents, but when one mentions the Israeli victims, one speaks of people without a name"

For a UK example, see the BBC, with its Palestinian 'militants', 'fighters' and 'gunmen'.

On the Left - "it is necessary to be anti-Semitic to have credibility. Things have reached the point where, for instance, Sharon is always guilty of being guilty, while Arafat is seen as an honest figure, innocent, a tireless old resistance fighter, a heroic figure, a kind of Gandhi — when in reality he is head of an oligarchy that has so much blood on its hands. "

On moral blindness - "The most absurd thing is to watch leaders of the Left today greet and celebrate Arab leaders, even when they are fundamentalists. And there were those who tried to downgrade .... the danger embodied in individuals like bin Laden, who is, in fact, an authentic fascist. I believe that for the moment the world remains blind to the biggest totalitarianism of the twenty-first century, which is Islamic fundamentalism."

See the emerging alliance of the far left and the islamic right, as typified by the Stop The War Campaign.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Farewell Jennicam

You certainly started something .... internet exhibitionism has never been so popular.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

The People Have Spoken, The Bastards !

The flagship of left bias and political correctness on the BBC, Radio Four's Today Programme, decided it would be a good idea to ask listeners what new laws they would like to be enacted, and from the 10,000 suggestions received chose five for the listeners to vote on.

They were

1) Ban all Christmas advertising before Dec 1st
2) make voting compulsory and limit a PM to two terms, as in the US. (suggested by G. Brown of W1)
3) Ban smoking in bars and restaurants
4) Make organ donation a matter of 'opting out' rather than 'opting in' as now.
5) Authorise homeowners to use any means to defend their home from intruders.

27,000 people voted - or 27,000 votes were received. The 'Tony Martin law' won with 37%, provoking Stephen Pound MP to the above comment (real audio here). He's supposed to be introducing it in a Private Members Bill - I bet he won't. If he does the Tories should have a three-line whip out in support - it could be a PR disaster for Labour when they have to vote against it.

The programme's producers - and Mr Pound, convinced the organ donation law would win, had already arranged a debate between Evan 'Dr Death' Harris and a former Tory health minister, which had to be hastily rebilled on the website as 'the listeners' law for 'opt-out' organ donation came second - but a possible proposal nonetheless?'. And Mr Pound had actually already had preliminary discussions with Heath Secretary John Reid about the donor law.

Still, Today did the best they could, finding a critical barrister (audio here), and putting negative reaction top of their emails.

But the emails are illuminating themselves. Top is the horror of one Deborah Stux.

I am horrified at the winning "Listeners' Law" That Today listeners could endorse vigilantism is incredible. I notice that both proposers mention Tony Martin as if he were some sort of hero, he shot a 16 year old boy, in the back - how can that be reasonable force? Please don't repeat this exercise next year or no doubt somone will suggest bringing back hanging or the birch.

Of course, she's right - if people had a direct say in the laws that were passed it is quite likely that homosexuality would still be illegal, hanging would still exist and we might still be stuck in those dreadful 1950s. That would never do.

Unusual name, Deborah Stux. Only one in the whole Google world, a Transport and Travel Manager with Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, funded by the taxpayer and dedicated to reducing the waiting list via the innovative method of encouraging key medical staff to walk or cycle to work rather than drive. (This is called 'investing in the NHS'.)

Probably a completely different person. Does the BBC Stux sound as if she'd write "cycling also promotes psychological well-being, notably self-esteem." ?

But Joe Nutt (presumably not the Donne expert) responded "Was I the only listener standing open-mouthed with impotent fury in my kitchen this morning listening to Stephen Pound's disappointment because the result of the listeners' law poll did not go the way he had wanted? That he wasn't the least bit embarrassed to say so, or admit that he had already been discussing organ donor legislation with Dr John Reid displayed precisely the kind of contempt for voters which exemplifies contemporary political behaviour. "

UPDATE 2/1/2004
Simon Jenkins hits the nail squarely on the thumb in the Times. He rightly criticises the BBC and Mr Pound for taking part in an exercise which (IMHO) demeans Mr Pound and cheapens democracy, but what really disturbs him is the prospect of people having too direct an influence on the law.

"I wonder what stopped the Today programme from putting capital punishment to the vote?" he asks ? After all, poll after poll shows a majority of voters in favour. And of course such a thing is quite unthinkable in a civilised society like ours. Can we doubt that if the result had been right - victory for the 'sensible' law on compulsory organ donation - we wouldn't have heard a peep from Simon Jenkins ?

He also blames the result on the "work of the Tony Martin lobby". As a founder member of said lobby, I can assure him that no effort at all was made. Difficult to comprehend as this might be, there are large numbers of people in Britain who are deeply concerned by what happened to Tony Martin and the message sent by his conviction to law-abiding householders.

But as ever, there's wisdom to be found if you look.

"The listeners’ law may be game-show legislation but it has reminded us that law and order hold public priority. As long as government refuses to let local people dictate what sort of local policing they want, governments will be blamed for the public’s patent sense of insecurity. If the police sit hidden in offices doing paperwork for David Blunkett, the public will put its faith in ever more draconian legislation and ever longer prison sentences. "

Too right they will !

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Responses To Tragedy - Then And Now

George Gibbs, who has just died aged 86, came home on leave from the Merchant Navy in 1942 to find his wife had ben killed in an air-raid. After the war he took to the road, and walked rural Wales for over 30 years, carrying all his possessions in a pram.

22 year old Paul Davies' girlfriend and baby died in a car accident. He took to heroin, burglary and shoplifting, even stealing from his brother and grandmother.

One harmed no-one but himself, and died mourned by many. The other betrays and damages even those who raised him. How Welsh culture - and our culture - has changed.
Two Sensible Guardian Articles In One Day Shock Horror

Polly, Maddie, Moonbat and co. must all be on hols ...

Martin Kettle on the responsibilities of power.

"It is all very well complaining that the transport secretary, Alistair Darling, is making life more dangerous in the air. In some ways, he may be. Yet if a suicide hijack succeeds, killing hundreds of people, the first question that will be asked is why stronger measures were not taken to protect the victims.

Questions of this kind mark the difference between the lives that ministers and the rest of us live. Most people give these risks only occasional and passing attention. To us, the thought that we may all be murdered in our beds is remote. To hapless ministers, it is a serious possibility for which they must try to prepare, and for which they will be held accountable when it occurs.

In 2004, there is a greater likelihood than at any time since 1945 that large numbers of civilians will be the victims of an act of pitiless aggression. Most of us deal with this fear by ignoring it. For a Blair or a Darling, there is no such luxury. Just occasionally, perhaps, we should have the humility to see the awfulness of the world that they inhabit, and which they strive so unavailingly to control."

And the great Aaronovitch on Iran, with a wee side-dig at the Monbiots of this world.

"Iran is still being ruled by a useless, incompetent semi-theocracy, which is fatalistic, complacent, unresponsive and often brutal. And such a system does not deliver to its citizens one fraction of what the Great Satan, for all its manifest faults, manages to guarantee to ordinary Americans.

Following the fall of the Berlin wall there was, as the philosopher John Gray put it, a "false dawn" of the New Age of Liberal Democracy, in which all problems everywhere could be expected to be solved by a free market and free elections. But this triumphalism has been replaced, in some quarters at least, by the equally vacuous tropes of the anti-globalisation movement and its demonisation of liberal capitalism.

What, I wonder, has Arundhati Roy to say now about the superiority of traditional building methods over globalised ones? Some Iranians might think that it's a shame there wasn't a McDonald's in Bam. It would have been the safest place in town. "

Links via Normblog.
Wouldn't It Be Nice ...

If the Times archives were free, as they were until a couple of years ago. Then I could scan Simon Jenkins' old columns for disastrous Iraq forecasts as Mark Steyn has done.

"Baghdad Will Prove Impossible To Conquer". Simon Jenkins, The Times, March 29.

"The coalition forces confront a city apparently determined on resistance. They should remember Napoleon in Moscow, Hitler in Stalingrad, the Russians at Grozny"

"I Predict The Pundits Will Carry On Getting It Wrong", April 2nd

"Prepare for Beirut, the West Bank or Stalingrad". Our boys will be "trapped far from home and in hostile territory, like the Russians in Chechnya."

And in May, the 'looting' of the National Museum was "the destruction of the greatest treasure from the oldest age of Western civilisation, the greatest heritage catastrophe since the Second World War". As Steyn says, the story was "2003's Jenin Massacre".

But as Norman Geras among others has pointed out, "The real story of this past year is not Saddam, but something deeper, symbolised by the bizarre persistence of the "anti-war" movement even after the war was over. For a significant chunk of the British establishment and for most of the governing class on the Continent, if it's a choice between an America-led West or no West at all they'll take the latter. That's the trend to watch in the year ahead."

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Todays Papers ...

Deadly dull, mostly. Robin Cook thinks the government has lost trust (since he left it) .. yawn ... Gary Younge thinks the Democrats need to win a few seats in the South ... zzzzz .... only Katie Grant and Lord Rees-Mogg awake me from my overfed somnolence.

Katie sees the Brideshead inhabitant Hooper as a portent of the horrors to come, in words that Dalrymple himself could have written.

"Hooper, you may remember, was a perfectly nice chap, but one who had "not as a child ridden with Rupert’s horse or sat among the camp fires at Xanthus-side". He did not weep for "Henry’s speech on St Crispin’s Day, nor for the epitaph at Thermopylae". The names Gallipoli, Balaclava, Quebec, Lepanto, Bannockburn, Roncevalles and Marathon meant nothing to him. He never learnt to salute properly. After all, why salute, when you can just say okey-dokey?

Hooper was Tony Blair’s forefather. His education was filled not with the exploits of heroes to lift him up and set him aglow, but consisted of "a profusion of detail about humane legislation and recent industrial change", the prime objective being to equip him for a career dedicated to making things "safe for the travelling salesman".

Now we see the result. Hooper’s Britain is Blair’s "young country", a place without a soul, brilliantly characterised in all its mundane, hideous, plodding inanity by EastEnders and Ricky Gervais in The Office.

Hooper/Blair’s contribution to civilisation is the Turner Prize, speed bumps, equality officers, Holyrood, Big Brother and Pop Idol. Britain’s Bridesheads are only acceptable if blanded down by the National Trust, just as history is only acceptable if delivered in politically correct sound-bites. If this is progress, give me less of it.

In 1959, Waugh famously thought Brideshead Revisited "a panegyric preached over an empty coffin" because the cult of the country house had not yet been utterly destroyed, as he thought it would be, by the war. But the coffin was not empty. It was already filling up with all the things that Hooper felt superfluous to his world: religion, chivalry, standards, patriotism, manners, self-discipline and deference. Now the coffin is so full (only fox hunting to go) we can barely get the lid down. It’s taken him half a century, but finally Hooper is triumphant. "

Rees-Mogg tells us "One forecast for the coming year can be made with some certainty. 2004 will be a bumper year for immigration into the United Kingdom, legal and illegal. Another forecast can be made with equal confidence. The Government will be taken by surprise."

I think he's probably right - and I think it likely that it will also be the year the BNP go mainstream, although the main influx of migrants (from 'New Europe' aka the former Warsaw Pact nations) will take place after the June elections.

"A large-scale immigration, such as we are experiencing, is almost always an economic advantage. The new people are younger than the host population, more highly motivated, and will have developed particular skills. "

He may well be correct. There's no doubt that migration to America and Australia raised the GNP of those nations. I'm just not sure the natives appreciated the favour we were doing them.

"There is a common fear that a national culture will be destroyed, or weakened, by the intrusion of a new culture. This might be true if all the newcomers came from the same culture as each other, or had the same religion. But that has been relatively rare in human history, except in cases of invasion or conquest.

It is certainly not the case in the modern immigration to Britain. The British culture does itself change over time, but it has nothing to fear from coexistence with small minority cultures, none of which have the scale to challenge the host, and few of which have much appeal for each other."

Again he makes a good point. A self-confident national culture should have no difficulty in absorbing quite large numbers of migrants, especially if they are from varying cultures.

The problem is, we don't have a self-confident national culture. A nation whose charity shops hide the Christmas cribs, and whose hospitals refuse to hand out charity CDs because Jesus gets a mention, is in trouble. As David Farrer and Private Frazer rightly point out, 'a culture or a religion that does not stand up for its own values is doomed.'

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Aaro vs Riddell

Over 8 rounds, protective gear to be worn, our hero and Mary ('Some of my best friends are Americans but ..') Riddell battle over Iraq. Well worth a read - I'll just pick up on one point, because it was on my mind when blogging about potential attacks on churches.

"On the war against terror I fear a descent into arbitrary government, and I also fear the popular consequences were a large-scale terrorist outrage to happen here in Britain. Do you remember how the David Copeland bombs a few years back provoked Ken Livingstone to call for the banning of far-right political parties? Can you imagine what a lorry-load of explosives in a London cinema, driven there by a Muslim from Derby, would lead to?

This means that I am torn on the question of how far civil liberties may be compromised in the battle against terror."

Aaro, like all right-minded middle class people, is worried about the BNP. I think what he's getting at here is that it might only take one outrage to give them a boost which would be reflected in next year's council and Euro elections. And that therefore it is in the interests of decent people to ensure this does not happen, even at the risk of compromising some people's civil liberty. (I also like to think he'd be against terror even if it didn't help the BNP, but feel that's probably top of his agenda.)

Some people on the liberal left, like Rasputin, just don't get this point. The Telegraph gives the Mad Monk a richly deserved shoeing.

"On Christmas Day the Pope appealed to God to rid the world of the scourge of terrorism. The Archbishop of Canterbury, on the other hand, reserved his clearest condemnation for the West's counter-terrorism campaign. Imprisoning terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay and Belmarsh prison, he complained, "sends out the wrong message" to Muslim societies. Those of the Christian faith, he said, should show themselves to be "on the side of humanity" by "making sacrifices for the sake of justice".

The "sacrifices" to which Dr Williams refers presumably involve risking another terrorist attack on the scale of September 11. So far, the counter-terrorist campaign has been remarkably successful in preventing al-Qaeda attacks in Europe and America, in spite of that organisation's strikes elsewhere in the world. Moreover, this has been achieved without any curtailment of the rights of ordinary Muslims in Britain and America, who are free to practise their faith with a degree of freedom of which Christians in many parts of the Islamic world can only dream."

Whether or not all of Blunkett's arrests and detentions have been justified, they have been successful thus far. There's no doubt that some bad people would like to commit terrorist acts, and that some of those people in the past have been British. We have had no atrocities as yet. That is not victory over world terror, but it's a good start.