Saturday, March 13, 2004

BBC Disses The English Again

England cricket follower ? Looking for live BBC radio coverage of the Windies series today ?

Forget it. They weren't prepared to go head to head with Talk Sport for the rights.

Of 'Asian Heritage' ? Failed Tebbit's cricket test ? Ball by ball coverage of Pakistan v India ?

No worries. Live coverage as I type, on the BBC Asian Network. Pakistan are chasing 350 and it's going to be close, though India have the edge.

Still, it's nice for an oppressed minority, subject to all kinds of violence and abuse from the majority population, living in a land where the State religion automatically discriminates against them, to have something like this to celebrate.

I'm not talking about British Asians of course - I mean Pakistani Christians.

Devout Catholic Yousuf Youhana's brilliant 73 from 69 balls (including four sixes) is the highlight of coverage so far. Must get back for the finish.

PS - Latif's blog is worth a read.

UPDATE - India won a nailbiter by six runs. As a cricket lover I shall be listening to the whole series, but in what other country would the national broadcaster devote such time to meeting the needs of people who support a foreign rather than the national team ?

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Those Caring Social Workers

I never fail to be amazed at our punitive criminal justice system. Just because you beat someone to death in an unprovoked attack doesn't mean you should necessarily go to jail, does it ? Especially when you were only fifteen at the time. A fine, probation or community service should surely be sufficient.

After all, he looks like a nice boy.

Yet when social workers included these in a range of suggested sentencing options, fuddy-duddy old High Court judge Lord Hardie spat the dummy.

"He said that for a social worker to consider the options of fines, community service or probation was absurd.
The only sentence available for murder, he insisted, was life imprisonment."

To think we pay taxes for a judge like that when we could spend the money on social workers !

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

They're Back !

The Tipton Taleban return. Initial reports are that their first question on arriving at Northolt was 'Can you tell me the time of the next flight to Baghdad ?'.

Littlejohn doesn't seem too chuffed, but all right-thinking people will be delighted that these innocents, so cruelly snatched from their backpacking holidays, are out of the clutches of the Great Satan. Allahu Akhbar, as Terry Waite would say.

UPDATE - The Sun has the sort of details you won't find in the Guardian - like the convictions for violence of two of the three Tipton boys. Good to see they released the web designer (Jamad al Harish ne Ron Fiddler) though ...

What has the world come to when you can find real news in the Sun ?
Plastic Gangster

Has a couple of interesting posts - one on the dreadful Jon Snow, and a link to this story on Iraq. I must say that these Shi'ite clerics do have a few ideas on how to deal with the social issues of our time. I can see why Pilger and Co. are so supportive of them.

"Saddam Hussein had two advantages over the coalition: In his time, anyone who took drugs was executed, and anyone with AIDS was burned."

I confess I only link to the Snow story because the Gangster appears to be a fan of Frank Zappa's "Apostrophe".

Bloggers Against Fascism

Debate at Harry's and Peter Cuthbertson's.

Two points

Firstly, what do we mean by fascism ? Is it a state of things where telling the truth can be a criminal offence, or where the State takes it upon itself to decide what truth is ? Is it a state of affairs where free speech is suppressed by the organs of the State ? Is it where thought crime exists in law ? Or where senior members of the Government meet at the House of Lords to be advised by someone who believes that supporters of some political parties should be beaten up in the street ?

If so it appears to have arrived early, with a caring liberal face. Yet not a dog barks on the Left, with the notable exception of Peter Tatchell. "Liberty, if it means anything, is the right to tell people what they don't want to hear", says the admirable Harry's Place. Yet the case of Harry Hammond passed him by totally, as it's passed by Amnesty International and Liberty. The days of 'I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it' are long gone. It's a very bad portent when 'freedom of speech' becomes 'freedom of speech for some but not others'. The infrastructure is being built.

Secondly, the culture war waged over the last thirty years by the Left (I dissociate Old Labour from this - this is a phenomenon with its genesis in student politics) has objectively created conditions which make a form of fascism much more likely. The celebrated decline of deference cuts more than one way. Society is much less gentle, more violent, than it was fifty years ago. Political allegiance is much less deep-rooted, more volatile, than it was. Our children are being taught to identify themselves as members of a particular ethnic group (my older children were given a form at school to fill in) rather than as Britons. There is enormous cynicism about politics and a culture which demands instant gratification. Ancient institutions which have served to preserve liberty over centuries have been emasculated or abolished. It's possible that given such a cultural background, national self-confidence (something we currently don't have) could take unpleasant forms.

Though at the heart of the BNP are some very nasty ideas (I keep coming back to this document) I don't see a big BNP vote as directly bringing fascism nearer, though it may help tilt the cultural balance of forces a little in that direction. What it will do is unleash a long-overdue debate on the Left. If their website is any guide, the average BNP member/supporter is from 'the old school' - a remnant of the culture which the left are attacking. A typical example was the charming elderly BNP councillor who told Radio 5 that her most admired person was Nelson Mandela. These people just aren't natural fascists, unless you consider the England of Attlee or Harold Wilson was fascist. Elderly Englishmen and women - the Middle England of the Daily Mail - don't do fascism. For younger surfers, fascism isn't not being allowed to marry your gay partner in church, or being cold-shouldered at the PTA. It's being beaten in the street, sacked from your job, having your windows smashed or your property torched. Middle England ain't big on any of that.

A big BNP vote (and I'll be surprised if we don't see a couple of Euro-MPs elected) won't be a vote for fascism in the minds of their voters, any more than the million Stop the War marchers were supporters of Saddam or the SWP. It'll be a gigantic 'Not In My Name !' aimed at the mainstream political parties, who will need to look again at the vast swathe of political terrritory they've vacated and left to the BNP.

For those who read their history, fascism was always about youth. Currently the nearest thing to a fascist youth movement is the area where animal rights, anti-globalisation and environmentalism meet. The kind of people who will hit an elderly hunt follower in the face with a hammer, surround a house containing terrified children and smash all the windows, burn foreign-owned property (if it's American owned, that is), publish lists of enemies to be dealt with, or wear 'Hurry up and Die, Queen Mother' t-shirts. These movements all belong to the cultural Left.

I see no sign at all of any similar youth movement on the Right. When the coolest kids in school self-identify as nationalists, when their bands are in the charts and girls wear 'My Boyfriend Is An Englishman' shirts - that'll be where the kind of fascism the Left disapproves of begins.

So if you want to prevent fascism, stop creating the objective conditions for it. And roll back the existing manifestations.

It won't happen of course. We will continue down the broad and pleasant path, eyes wide shut, until the rough beast finally arrives, in whatever form, and we wonder like children what's gone wrong. In my worst visions my sons are on the streets, trying to stop people being attacked because of their race (and in danger of attack themselves), while in a thousand council offices ex-liberal careerists are hastily applying for the new Anglicisation Policy Co-ordinator posts ("under the Race Relations Act 2016, this post is only open to those of Anglo-Saxon cultural heritage") and the UN is wondering whether troops should be sent in.

Have a nice day.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Brits Give Muslim Women The Vote

Poorly and in bed for the last couple of days, with time to read Churchill's 'My Early Life', Charles Allen's excellent 'Soldier Sahibs', about the young Victorians who policed the North West Frontier, and Dilip Hiro's 'Between Marx and Muhammed', a review of the Central Asian republics and their Muslim neighbours, all the more valuable for being written before 9/11, an event which inevitably colours recent coverage of Muslim affairs.

The Churchill book is fascinating. What a life that man led. And it's all described with such humour and irony. His description of finding himself alone, sword in hand ('after all, I was Public Schools Fencing Champion'), against a dozen NW Frontier tribesmen, and of his rapid retreat, is a classic.

Dilip Hiro's book is full of unexpected information. Where was the first election in a Muslim country with universal suffrage including women ? The Democratic Republic of Azerbijan, capital Baku, which lasted from 1918-1920 and was underpinned (or occupied if you prefer) by British Imperial troops led by General Thomson. The tension between Islam and the Soviets is another theme of this book, from the massacre of 14,000 Muslims at Kokand (Uzbekistan) by Soviet troops in 1917 to the 1992 civil war between Islamists and Russian-backed forces in Tajikistan, in which 30,000 died. And a certain Commissar of Nationalities, one J V Stalin, plays a leading role in the story.
This Government ...

gets more corrupt every day, and they are now deliberately corrupting the Civil Service. Can we belive anything they say about migration any more ?

Steve Moxon's revelations on how the borders are being opened to Eastern Europe in advance of EU enlargement, so that there won't be a sudden increase in the figures post-June, are here, here and here. This appears to be a political decision taken on a deniable basis with no official documentation. Words fail me.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

A Girl (Sappho, approx 600 BC, translated by CM Bowra)

I have a child; so fair
As golden flowers is she,
My Cleis, all my care.
I'd not give her away
For Lydia's wide sway
Nor lands men long to see.

It's not giving her away but being taken away from her I'm more worried about, following reports that Blunkett has surrendered to the anti-smacking lobby.

I have smacked her in the past and I'm sure I'll have to do so on a future occasion. Her rages are titanic, magnificent - like a force of nature, yet there are some boundaries she's not allowed to go beyond - in speech or behaviour. She's six years old and I love everything about her.

Yet a lot of people think I, and the other 70% of parents who occasionally smack their children, should be locked up and are campaigning to that effect.

After all, how can you teach a child that hitting people is bad when you hit them yourself ?

What a good argument. How can we teach our young people that taking other people's money or property is bad and yet fine them for not having a tax disc, or send the bailiffs in when they don't pay the gas bill ? How can we teach them that kidnapping people and holding them captive is wrong, yet support the processes of arrest and imprisonment ?

How can we teach them that invading other countries is bad and yet support the overthrow of Saddam ?
Maybe that last was a bad example, because I'm pretty sure there's a hefty correlation between the anti-family crowd and the anti-war crowd.

A quick flick down the list of supporters provides a few rough categories.

People whose living and career is funded by increased family breakdown (the largest category - all those professors, paediatricians and parenting co-ordinators). I think the economists call it 'producer capture'.

Old rich hippies (Branson, Peel, Gabriel, Melvyn Bragg, three-quarters of whom make their homes in leafy (or hilly) conservative shires.)

Homosexual activists who might not be too displeased at higher levels of family breakup, though I can't imagine why.

Radical feminists who see the family as the source of all oppression (Beatrix Campbell, the various Domestic Violence specialists), whereas I see it as the place where children learn to be good.

Agony Aunts and sobbing abbesses (Virginia Ironside, Susie Orbach).

Jenny Tonge MP - it's bad to smack children but she might consider blowing them up.

What they all have in common is an income considerably above average, enabling them to to insulate themselves from the effects of family and social breakdown.

Organisations such as NSPCC and Barnardos are leery of actually releasing any of the research on which their policies are based (I wrote in vain to them asking for the references). I get the impression that they rely upon studies of dysfunctional underclass 'families' (remember that for today's liberal class 'family' usually means Mum, child and whoever Mum's shacked up with at the time), the sort of family where a child may be smacked for anything, everything and nothing. If you don't know what I mean skip Tesco and get down to your local Lidl on a Friday between 4 and 6. To rely on such studies is the equivalent of studying Ugandan and Congolese militia, plus the Red Army's advance through Germany in Spring 1945, and concluding that the British Army should be disbanded because of the unacceptably high risk of atrocities being perpetrated on civilians.

Of course targeted and controlled violence, which is what smacking is, is probably the most effective modifier of behaviour ever devised. Parents wouldn't use it if it didn't work. The problem is that a growing number of people don't believe it's a parents role to try and modify a child's behaviour, especially not in such a mechanistic way. After all, if a child's behaviour causes concern, there's obviously some deep-seated ... blah ... underlying cause ... the poor creature needs help from experts - people who really have the child's interests at heart. Have you considered these new behaviour-modifying drugs ? Now that's what I call child abuse - a nine year old on Ritalin . There are tens of thousands of such children in Britain, probably a couple in every primary school.

Peter Hitchens wrote in 'The Abolition Of Britain' of the conflict between the therapeutic and judgemental approach to discipline in schools :

"The rebuking slap or smack, or even the blow of the ruler on the hand, are all symbols of authority imposed from above, unquestioned and unquestionable. They define the limits of a child's behaviour and make it plain that the child is subject to the adult, who acts in the place of the parent. The doctor and psychologist, the use of pseudo-scientific discipline, are symbols of an entirely different form of government. If a child needs a smack, he is a free individual who has overstepped the line. If he needs a child guidance clinic, there is something wrong with him which must be cured."

The abolition of smacking has long been the aim of the anti-family lobby. It's an extremely effective weapon. The aim isn't to protect children - there are laws in place for that already. The real target is the family as a transmitter of the existing culture, with particular emphasis on the role of the father. For the radical anti-patriarch 'Wait till your father gets home !' is anathema. In practice we see that violence up to and including mass murder carried out by a mother is always understandable and sometimes excusable. After all, isn't the mother a victim too ?
Similarly ethnic minorities, who are generally great believers in the physical punishment of children, will be cut a fair amount of slack. We have seen in the Climbie case that an African couple can torture a child, and her fear will be ascribed to the cultural respect for elders so prominent in Caribbean communities.

To some extent the State is already mediating between parent and child. Your child may be offered contraception or abortion without your knowledge, as the parent who found 'killed my baby' in her daughter's diary recently discovered. In an age where 'grassing up' your mates is the greatest playground and street crime, organisations like Childline offer you the chance to, like Pavel Morozovich (who became a Hero of the Soviet Union for denouncing his parents to Stalin's secret police), grass up Mater and Pater. If you are sixteen and wish to leave home, your age makes you a 'vulnerable person' and catapults you to the top of the housing list, as the great Dalrymple noted when he asked an Asian girl what kind of relationship with her parents she wanted. 'Like an English girl' she replied. 'And that is ?' 'They look after you till you're sixteen and then you get a flat'.

Not so long ago I read in my local paper of the death of such a sixteen-year old from a heroin overdose. (He hadn't got on with his parents and had made himself homeless, knowing he'd be offered accommodation. Our nearest town has about a dozen such deaths a year). And a friend's daughter left home at fifteen, moving in with her boyfriend and his father. Social Services considered it an acceptable arrangement.

For me this mooted law change is a little late to modify my child-rearing, as they're mostly beyond the smacking age, though I wouldn't put it past my poppet to call the police. In a rage she's capable of anything. But for society the effects will be profound. They will be

a) a lower birth rate as parenting becomes not only hard work but hard work with no effective available control mechanisms. People will be less likely to have children as the relations between uncontrollable children and powerless teachers in State schools become replicated within families.

b) Increased family breakdown.

c) Increased crime and disorder.

d) Increased rates of drug abuse and STDs among the young.

e) Increased emigration of native Brits.

It began with a poem and it will end with a poem. On occasions, hopefully rare ones, a parent will smack a child unwisely, and suffer for it. So for all parents who've ever been there here's what Alice Bachini would perhaps characterise as a 'message of evil' .

The Toys (from the Unknown Eros, by Coventry Patmore 1823-1896)

MY little Son, who look'd from thoughtful eyes
And moved and spoke in quiet grown-up wise,
Having my law the seventh time disobey'd,
I struck him, and dismiss'd
With hard words and unkiss'd,
—His Mother, who was patient, being dead.
Then, fearing lest his grief should hinder sleep,
I visited his bed,
But found him slumbering deep,
With darken'd eyelids, and their lashes yet
From his late sobbing wet.
And I, with moan,
Kissing away his tears, left others of my own;
For, on a table drawn beside his head,
He had put, within his reach,
A box of counters and a red-vein'd stone,
A piece of glass abraded by the beach,
And six or seven shells,
A bottle with bluebells,
And two French copper coins, ranged there with careful art,
To comfort his sad heart.
So when that night I pray'd
To God, I wept, and said:
Ah, when at last we lie with tranced breath,
Not vexing Thee in death,
And Thou rememberest of what toys
We made our joys,
How weakly understood
Thy great commanded good,
Then, fatherly not less
Than I whom Thou hast moulded from the clay,
Thou'lt leave Thy wrath, and say,
-'I will be sorry for their childishness.'