Guess the speaker *UPDATED*

Later today, a government’s representative is going to make the following important announcements:

Western governments have “the moral imperative to intervene – sometimes militarily – to help spread democracy throughout the world.”

The same speaker says that “fostering democracy in the Middle East ‘is the best long-term defence against global terrorism and conflict.'”

He feels that keeping democracy alive is hard work and must be actively fostered: “After the end of the cold war it was tempting to believe in the ‘end of history’ – the inevitable process of liberal democracy and capitalist economics. Now with the economic success of China, we can no longer take the forward march of democracy for granted.”

Who is the speaker? John Bolton? George Bush? Nope, wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s the British foreign secretary, David Miliband, a representative of the Labour government. Some of his other pronouncements are even more rational and surprising:

Miliband’s broad-ranging speech reflects his deep concern that a combination of factors, including widespread distaste for the American neo-conservative movement, disillusionment at the practical failures in Iraq, and a feeling that some underdeveloped countries, such as Kenya, are simply too tribal for democracy, is storing up a powerful isolationist mood in Britain.

The foreign secretary, who has just returned from Afghanistan and Bangladesh, believes there is an urgent need to restate the case for the universal value of democracy.

He will argue that interventions in other countries must be more subtle, better planned, and if possible undertaken with the agreement of multilateral institutions. But “we must resist the argument of the left and the right to retreat into a world of realpolitik”.

Miliband believes that in the 1990s “something strange happened.

“The neo-conservative movement seemed more certain about spreading democracy around the world. The left seemed conflicted between the desirability of the goal and its qualms about the use of military means.

“In fact, the goal of spreading democracy should be a great progressive project; the means need to combine both soft and hard power. We should not let the debate about the how of foreign policy obscure the clarity about the what.”

This is not what one expects to hear from a Briton, nor from a member of the Labour party and, especially, a member of the Labour government. I wonder if he represents official government policy, if he is running ideas up a flag pole to see if any one salutes, or if he is that bizarre thing, a principled moralist in a politically-correct, Leftist government.

UPDATE:  Welcome, American Thinker readers!  Ironically, because I’m getting so many lovely hits here, today is the first day I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.

Yeah, what she said (plus a little of what I have to say)

I was trying to set up a post that selectively quotes from Melanie Phillips’ articles explaining the utter insanity behind the Archbishop of Canterbury’s muddled remarks about bringing sharia law into the British legal system — but I couldn’t. Each paragraph is so information-packed and important that (a) I couldn’t pick what to quote and (b) I couldn’t bear to dilute the impact of the articles in their entirety. I therefore urge you to read the articles yourself, which you will find here and here.

I do have a few words to add, though, about parallel private legal systems. We have them here too. Religious Jews have often resolved disputes through rabbis, not civil courts, and more and more people opt for private mediation or arbitration in the hope that those methods will be cheaper than litigation. With the Jewish disputes, it goes without saying that the law applied is Jewish law. (Phillips has a good description of these tribunals in Britain, and they’re much the same here.) As for the mediations or arbitrations, people can choose their law: they can pick the law of the state in which they live, or the state most favorable to the party in the stronger bargaining position. Heck, they could even choose the law of another nation entirely, assuming all parties agree. If the ultimate outcome of the religious tribunal, arbitration or mediation pleases the participants, that’s the end of the matter, and they go away happily, without the American civil litigation system ever being the wiser.

However, if they’re not happy, they do have recourse to the American litigation system. Sometimes the judge will simply tell the disgruntled party that he agreed in advance to the arbitration, the arbitration was conducted appropriately, and that’s the end of the story. Sometimes, though, the complainant will get to have his case heard and, in that case, American law, whether it be federal or state law, applies, as it would to any other similarly situated claimant. Additionally, if someone comes in complaining that the mediation, arbitration or religious tribunal resulted in an outcome that is antithetical to American law (for example, requiring him to sell his daughter into prostitution or to place himself into slavery), the American system will bring the alternative proceedings to a screeching halt. For all that I’m no fan of judges, only those who are mentally disturbed would allow their courts to be used for those purposes.

Rowan Williams muddled proposal, however, does not contemplate a system such as the American one, in which people can circumvent Civil Courts if they so desire (opting, say, for sharia courts), but if they don’t desire, they are bound by British law in British courts. Instead, he truly states a belief that the British courts should apply sharia law. As Melanie Phillips explains:

Dr Williams for some reason abandoned nuance altogether and left no room for doubt about what he was saying. Which was, in short, that although the

sensational reporting of opinion polls

recording large numbers of British Muslims who want to live in the UK under Islamic sharia law

clouds the issue,

the adoption of sharia law in the UK seems


and indeed desirable, since Muslims should not have to choose between

the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty.

So although

nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that’s sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states,

Muslims should be able to choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a sharia court. Such courts should therefore be

incorporated into the British legal system

as a

constructive accommodation

with Islam.

There is no parallel for this in the American system or even in the British system. Both will enforce as judgments private agreements but, as I noted above, they will not do so if the outcome is inconsistent with fundamental principles of American or British jurisprudence. Woe to England if it backs down from its near universal outrage at Williams’ proposal and allows his ideas to become reality, whether actively or by default.

So, go read Melanie Phillips’ article and then say a prayer for England, for she sorely needs it. And if you’re in a reading mood about Williams, read this one too, at American Thinker.

UPDATE: I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.

Al Qaeda’s a problem even when it’s contained

Apparently even locking up Al Qaeda guys for decades is inadequate to squelch the trouble they foment:

Prison officers are struggling to control a group of al-Qaeda terrorists who are clashing with other serious offenders in one of Britain’s high-security jails.

Frankland Prison, County Durham, holds an estimated 20 al-Qaeda members and sympathisers, serving long sentences for planning atrocities in the United Kingdom and abroad. They include Dhiren Barot, who was jailed for 30 years, and Omar Khyam, jailed for at least 20 years, for plotting to blow up the Bluewater shopping centre and the Ministry of Sound nightclub.

In recent weeks three disturbances have taken place at the prison. The Prison Officers Association (POA) said many of those involved had been moved to Frankland from Belmarsh Prison in London. ‘They don’t want to be in Frankland; they want to be in Belmarsh with their friends. They are getting more organised and want to be together in one place, which is scary,’ said Steve Gough, vice-chairman of the POA. (Emphasis mine.)

Gough warned that the increasing regularity of the disturbances was becoming a serious problem. ‘We are struggling to contain it,’ he said. ‘It’s having an effect on other prisoners.’

But don’t worry. It’s not just the jailers. The prisoners have their grievances, too. They say it’s not fair that their jailers are white:

Arani [an attorney for one of the Al Qaeda prisoners] added that 99 per cent of the staff at Frankland are of white origin: ‘This extreme imbalance across the board foments intolerance, racial hatred and white supremacist behaviour from a large percentage of inmates as well as some of the officers, too.’

What’s amazing is that the prisoners are still freely allowed to stir up trouble outside the walls, as well as in. Thus, Barot, who planned to blow up hundreds of people, is whining on websites:

In a lengthy email to an Islamist website, Barot recently outlined his concerns about what he called ‘oppressive conditions’ in Frankland. He said he was subject to three intensive cell searches in a fortnight and two visits to the segregation block in a week because he was suspected of having a mobile phone.

He said he had also been denied ‘suitable’ Islamic literature and CDs.

‘Any time the prison feels that I may have found a “friend” that I may be “overly” socialising with, more often than not the individuals concerned are promptly shipped out to other establishments. Why? For irrational fear of “sermonising” or “talent-scouting”,’ Barot told ‘Not only have I been subjected to mentally tortuous surroundings… but now physically, too, in order to break my psyche.’

You can read the rest here, but only if you want to depress yourself.

UPDATE: I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.

The Imam of Canterbury *UPDATED*

The most famous Archbishop of Canterbury was the martyred Thomas a Becket, a man who was ostensibly the victim of a political assassination, yet who essentially died for his faith. He’d been a hard living young man but, when his best friend Henry II invested him as Archbishop of Canterbury, the most important seat in the British religious heirarchy, he went through a profound change and began to take his religion seriously — so seriously that he took political stands antithetical to Henry’s interests, something that came as a great surprise to the latter, who had assumed that Becket’s would be “his man” in the Bishopric. Eventually, Becket’s attempts to defend the church’s integrity against Henry’s political desires irked the latter so much that he exclaimed “Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?” A handful of his loyalists, rather than viewing this as a purely rhetorical question, took it literally, and cut down Becket within the hallowed walls of his own church.

Thinking about Becket, I rather wonder what he would have made of the current occupier of his Bishopric, which is still the most important position in the Church of England:

The Archbishop of Canterbury says the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK “seems unavoidable”.

Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4’s World at One that the UK has to “face up to the fact” that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

Dr Williams argues that adopting parts of Islamic Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion.

For example, Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court.

He says Muslims should not have to choose between “the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty”.

An approach to law which simply said – there’s one law for everybody – I think that’s a bit of a danger
Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

In an exclusive interview with BBC correspondent Christopher Landau, ahead of a lecture to lawyers in London later on Monday, Dr Williams argues this relies on Sharia law being better understood. At the moment, he says “sensational reporting of opinion polls” clouds the issue.

I can’t figure out if Williams is naive, stupid or a genuine Fifth Column within the C of E. Aside from the peculiarity of a church leader arguing for the hegemony of another religion, his ignorance is scary. He doesn’t seem to understand that sharia is a package deal. Just today, I read a little bit about that package:

Two sisters – identified only as Zohreh and Azar – have been convicted of adultery in Iran.

They have now been sentenced to be stoned to death.

Adultery is a crime punishable by death in the Islamic Republic of Iran, in accordance with the canons of Islamic Sharia law. The Iranian Supreme Court has upheld the stoning sentence.

Zohreh and Azar have already received 99 lashes for “illegal relations.” Yet they were tried again for the same crime, and convicted of adultery on the evidence of videotape that showed them in the presence of other men while their husbands were absent. The video does not show either of them engaging in any sexual activity at all.

Their crime is non-existent, their trials a miscarriage of justice, and their sentencing a barbarity.

All those who believe in human rights and human dignity should protest against this sentence.

Proponents of sharia law in the West like to point out that it’s just a little thing that helps neighbors mediate fights, or husband and wife avoid (or, if need be, embrace) divorce. They willfully ignore the fact that sharia law is the single most misogynistic law in the world and, perhaps, in history. They — the same people who quiver at the mention of waterboarding — also turn a blind eye to sharia’s demands for whipping, dis-limbing, hanging and beheading. If we in the West let this camel’s innocuous little nose into the tent, if we just look to it just as a mediator of little neighbor disputes, I can assure you that very quickly that whole camel, beheading and all, will have nosed its way into the center of the Western criminal and judicial system, with horrific effects on all, especially women.

Hat tip: JL

UPDATE: Hot Air also caught and commented on this story.

UPDATE II: Another glimpse at the sharia law Williams finds so innocuous.

UPDATE III: Considering Britain’s problem with alcoholism, this little riff on sharia attitudes towards drinking alcohol (a 22 year old being hanged for drinking alcohol four times), might actually be a good thing. (And yes, that was sarcasm.)

UPDATE IV:  The information in Danny Lemieux’s comment deserves to be up here, in the post:

Here is a perspective that will never appear in the Western MSM:

There are Anglicans all over the Third World /Developing World pitted in a life struggle against Islam, from the Middle East (Sudan, Palestine, Iraq) to Africa to Southern Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan). Look anywhere along the burning crescent where Islam collides with kuffar infidels, you will find Anglicans struggling to protect their faith.

The largest Anglican community (by far) is in Nigeria, where Anglicans and other Christians have been struggling against an ongoing and vicious  jihad by northern Muslims, one that often breaks out into random massacres of Christian villages and a vicious imposition of Sharia in Muslim-controlled areas.

An aide to the Nigerian bishop Akinola once told me that the greatest damage the U.S. church did by appointing an openly homosexual bishop (the current bishop in New Hampshire) was to undercut the moral authority of Christians struggling against Islam in his country. It gave Muslim radicals a powerful propaganda tool with which to expand their influence.

I can’t think of an act more damaging to these Anglican Christians , in fact…ALL Christians, than to have the Archbishop of Canterbury, titular head of what is primarily a Third World Church,  give notice of his surrender to Sharia…other than, perhaps, his own conversion to Islam. What this twit did was not only horrendously stupid but enormously costly to those of Christian faith struggling in the trenches to protect all for which it stands. He will have blood on his hands for this.

This is . . . ignorance

The AP phrases the story as one about Brits “losing their grip on reality” because they think historical figures are mythical. This is not a reality problem, though. This is sheer pig-ignorance, the end result of a country that is so busy teaching political correctness, that it has phased out teaching its own history:

Britons are losing their grip on reality, according to a poll out Monday which showed that nearly a quarter think Winston Churchill was a myth while the majority reckon Sherlock Holmes was real.

The survey found that 47 percent thought the 12th century English king Richard the Lionheart was a myth.

And 23 percent thought World War II prime minister Churchill was made up. The same percentage thought Crimean War nurse Florence Nightingale did not actually exist.

Three percent thought Charles Dickens, one of Britain’s most famous writers, is a work of fiction himself.

Indian political leader Mahatma Gandhi and Battle of Waterloo victor the Duke of Wellington also appeared in the top 10 of people thought to be myths.

Meanwhile, 58 percent thought Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective Holmes actually existed; 33 percent thought the same of W. E. Johns’ fictional pilot and adventurer Biggles.

UKTV Gold television surveyed 3,000 people.

Britain starting to examine the law of unintended consequences

I would dearly love to see us stop funding Islamists by buying oil from the Middle East. To me, that means two things: examining our own oil sources (ANWAR, anyone?) and/or developing alternative energies. As everyone who visits this blog knows, though, I’ve been extremely hostile to biofuels, which I believe will cause food shortages amongst the most vulnerable. Apparently I’m not the only one who is starting to figure out that biofuels may not be as magic as promised:

Controversial plans to make cars greener by using fuel made from crops and animal fat will be thrown into doubt this week when MPs are expected to question whether they will do more harm than good.

Biofuels have been hailed as a green alternative to oil by some, but in the US, where there are massive plants converting maize (corn), it has been criticised for making food more expensive and being environmentally unfriendly.

From April, petrol and diesel sold in the UK must have 2.5 per cent biofuels, drawn from sources such as tallow, rapeseed and sugar beet, rising to 5 per cent in two years’ time. The EU wants to increase this to 10 per cent by 2020.

But the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee is likely to call tomorrow for the schemes to be delayed because of fears that biofuels can have negative consequences. Criticisms include claims that producing some biofuels emits more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels and that habitats such as tropical rainforests are being destroyed to plant the new crops. The report, ‘Are Biofuels Sustainable?’, is also thought to predict that rising food prices pushed up by competition for land could restrict growth in the industry.

The committee’s report follows a separate study last week by the Royal Society calling for strict controls on how biofuels are grown. Stavros Dimas, the EU Environment Commissioner, has also admitted that it might have been premature to press ahead with biofuels, which were fiercely debated at the United Nation’s Bali conference on climate change in December.

UPDATE: I urge anyone reading this post to take the time to read the comments too. They are very well informed and help round out the limited point I made by focusing on scientific data (which I didn’t know) and the profound differences between American and European agriculture (which I also didn’t know).

The voracious British government marches on

The progressives of the Victorian era would be proud, but the old fashioned liberals are rolling in their graves:

Independent schools are to be made to open their doors to more children from poor homes under guidelines announced to stop them being run as “exclusive clubs”.

Schools failing to meet the regulations could have bank accounts frozen, trustees suspended, buildings seized or even be closed down under a range of sanctions.

In the new guidance from the Charity Commission, schools are told they should consider charging lower fees so more families are able to afford places.

Schools with higher charges have been informed they should ensure money is set aside to provide free or subsidised places for poor pupils. They should also consider sharing facilities and expert teachers with local state schools.

The recommendations, which come in a landmark document, are designed to ensure independent schools justify their charitable status by meeting a “public benefit” test and hold on to £100 million-a-year tax-breaks.

Schools may be subjected to “random” spot checks and inspections to ensure they comply.

Education experts say some may have to increase class sizes, ditch A-level courses or cut teachers’ perks to fund more free places.

Under Labour’s 2006 Charities Act, organisations including independent schools, hospitals and religious groups no longer have an automatic right to call themselves charities.

According to the guidance, they must prove “people in poverty” benefit from their services – even if they cannot afford fees.

“At the extreme, charities should not be seen as ‘exclusive clubs’ that only a few can join, since the ‘public’ benefit from that is very limited,” says the document.

Now they pass the cui bono publico test, of course, but at what cost?

Soylent green *UPDATED*

One of the most striking things about the Jewish Bible is the respect it demands for dead bodies. As a result, Jewish ritual holds that the dead cannot be mutilated in any way and must be interred as quickly as possible — preferably within 24 hours of death. Desecration is anathema to the Jews. Many people ascribe this respect to the Jewish belief in resurrection. Others though, believe that there is one other element to the requirement that bodies be treated with respect, which is the fact that the Jewish religion arose during pagan times — and pagans were deeply committed to body mutilation.

In pagan cultures, which had no separation between “church” and state, the religious leaders would routinely sacrifice people to the Gods and then, before or as part of the death process, the victims’ brains and internal organs would be ripped out by the priests for study and ritual cremation for the gods. (The story of Isaac is, as everyone knows, the definitive Biblical statement against human sacrifice.) Even if people weren’t deliberately sacrificed, but died for other reasons, the state priests could still desecrate the corpses for religious purposes. The instant burial required under Jewish law was almost certainly an effort to protect bodies from assault by pagan priests. To this day, religious Jews will not allow themselves to be cremated.

I was thinking of the pagan state’s interest ripping out the deads’ internal organs when I read this, out of England:

Gordon Brown has thrown his weight behind a move to allow hospitals to take organs from dead patients without explicit consent.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, the Prime Minister says that such a facility would save thousands of lives and that he hopes such a system can start this year.

The proposals would mean consent for organ donation after death would be automatically presumed, unless individuals had opted out of the national register or family members objected.

Pragmatically speaking, Brown is right — a lot of perfectly good human organs go to waste when they could be put to use in the living. Nevertheless, there is something creepy and frightening about the state harvesting dead bodies, and it made me think of Jews in pagan times. On the one hand, you had the Jews with their tremendous respect for humanity, and their rules aimed at elevating the human condition and, on the other hand, you had the pagans who viewed the body as something that could be folded, spindled and mutilated depending on how the priests interpreted the whims of the Gods.

The other reason to get worried about this proposal is the “soylent green” nature of it. Once the government gets into the business of harvesting body parts — especially if it’s the same government that runs the health care system — you might want to go somewhere other than a state hospital if you’re at imminent risk of death. Once in the hospital, you may discover to your cost that it’s cheaper for the government to let you die so that it can use your organs for someone who might subsequently be less of a burden on the health care system than you are. Indeed, the plan seems to be set up precisely to achieve that cost effective goal:

But patients’ groups said that they were “totally opposed” to Mr Brown’s plan, saying that it would take away patients’ rights over their own bodies.

There are more than 8,000 patients waiting for an organ donation and more than 1,000 a year die without receiving the organ that could save their lives.

The Government will launch an overhaul of the system next week, which will put pressure on doctors and nurses to identify more “potential organ donors” from dying patients. Hospitals will be rated for the number of deceased patients they “convert” into donors and doctors will be expected to identify potential donors earlier and alert donor co-ordinators as patients approach death. [The emphasis is mine because, if this isn't scarily Orwellian, I truly don't know what is.]

Organ donation can be a great gift and I honor those who decide to make it a part of their death. Nevertheless, I cannot conceive of a situation in which it should be anything but voluntary. Having the same government that provides medical treatment make the decision is the stuff of the worst kind of Utopian totalitarianism.

UPDATE: The above story was from the right leaning Telegraph, which presents the plan as something upsetting (something with which I agree). Here’s how the left leaning Guardian presents the same story, with the focus on the needy transplant recipients, not on the state’s increasing control over life, death and after death:

A revolution in the way organs are donated for transplant is called for today by the government’s chief medical officer as concern grows over the acute shortage of donors and the rise in unnecessary deaths.

An expert report to be published this week says that every major hospital in Britain must have an organ donor specialist skilled in persuading grieving families that the hearts, lungs, kidneys and other vital organs of their deceased relatives should be used to save the lives of others.

Sir Liam Donaldson, England’s chief medical officer, will back the findings of the government’s taskforce on organ donation, but wants to go further and introduce a new system of donation because the shortage of organs is so severe. Three people a day are dying while on the waiting list for a transplant as the demand for a new organ is rapidly outstripping their supply.

Donaldson is advocating a system of ‘presumed consent’, where everyone in Britain would be presumed to be a donor unless they had specifically opted out, or unless their families had objections.

‘We have one of the lowest rates [of organ donation] in Europe, far lower than Spain,’ he told The Observer. ‘We have one thousand or more patients dying on the waiting list each year, and there is a lot of suppressed demand, with doctors not even referring patients on to the list because there is no hope for them. That is a lot of patients dying.

‘I think at the moment people often don’t know whether their relative would have wanted to be a donor. Families are being approached when they are in a very distressed condition and, faced with uncertainty, their default position is to refuse consent. Often the quality of their dealing with clinical staff is not as good as it should be – the dialogue could be better. It does require considerable skill to handle such sensitive situations.’

Today we reveal the heartbreak of those who are waiting for organs and the uplifting stories of families who have consented to donate, and launch a campaign for the UK to move to the new system of presumed consent so that hundreds more lives can be saved.

As for me, having read that, I still find too Orwellian the thought of the government, in all its bureaucratic splendor, deciding who lives and who dies, and desecrating the dead in between those two extremes.

Another “honor” killing in Britain?

The phrase “honor killing” doesn’t show up anywhere in this article, but it sound remarkably as if a much-abused young British woman was murdered because she refused to marry the Pakistani man her parents had picked for her:

A coroner this morning returned a verdict of unlawful killing on a Muslim teenager who vanished from home after refusing an arranged marriage, saying she was the victim of a “very vile” murder.

Ian Smith, East and South Cumbria coroner, said the way Shafilea Ahmed’s body had been hidden in a riverbank miles from home convinced him she was murdered, and said she probably died shortly after going missing.

After the verdict Cheshire Police vowed to continue investigating the death of the “beautiful and vulnerable young girl” until the killer or killers had been brought to justice.

Miss Ahmed, 17, disappeared four months after being taken to Pakistan by her parents to meet a potential husband. She refused to go ahead with the ceremony and even drank bleach in protest.

Her inquest heard she regularly suffered domestic abuse at the hands of her parents and was terrified about being forced into marriage.

The inquest heard that early in 2003 she ran away from home, only to be coaxed back on the promise she would not be taken to Pakistan. However, that trip went ahead and she was introduced to a suitor, but refused to go ahead with any wedding.

In September, Miss Ahmed, who wore western clothes and wanted to be a solicitor, disappeared from her home in Warrington, Cheshire.

Four months later her decomposed body was found washed up on a flooded riverbank at Sedgwick, near Kendal. She had been strangled or smothered.

Her parents, Iftikhar and Farzana, were arrested on suspicion of kidnap, and other members of her family were arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice. All were released without charge.

Bad news out of England

British mosques are not simply preaching religious morals:

Almost half of Britain’s mosques are under the control of a hardline Islamic sect whose leading preacher loathes Western values and has called on Muslims to “shed blood” for Allah, an investigation by The Times has found.

Riyadh ul Haq, who supports armed jihad and preaches contempt for Jews, Christians and Hindus, is in line to become the spiritual leader of the Deobandi sect in Britain. The ultra-conservative movement, which gave birth to the Taleban in Afghanistan, now runs more than 600 of Britain’s 1,350 mosques, according to a police report seen by The Times.

The Times investigation casts serious doubts on government statements that foreign preachers are to blame for spreading the creed of radical Islam in Britain’s mosques and its policy of enouraging the recruitment of more “home-grown” preachers.

Mr ul Haq, 36, was educated and trained at an Islamic seminary in Britain and is part of a new generation of British imams who share a similar radical agenda. He heaps scorn on any Muslims who say they are “proud to be British” and argues that friendship with a Jew or a Christian makes “a mockery of Allah’s religion”.

Seventeen of Britain’s 26 Islamic seminaries are run by Deobandis and they produce 80 per cent of home-trained Muslim clerics. Many had their studies funded by local education authority grants. The sect, which has significant representation on the Muslim Council of Britain, is at its strongest in the towns and cities of the Midlands and northern England.

Figures supplied to The Times by the Lancashire Council of Mosques reveal that 59 of the 75 mosques in five towns – Blackburn, Bolton, Preston, Oldham and Burnley – are Deobandi-run.

It is not suggested that all British Muslims who worship at Deobandi mosques subscribe to the isolationist message preached by Mr ul Haq, and he himself suggests Muslims should only “shed blood” overseas.

Read the rest here.

I wonder, in the face of this fanaticism, how useful the British government’s latest anti-extremist plan is: to empower Muslim women by sending them to management courses. I’m laughing even as I write this. On the one hand, you have men and women who leave mosques imbued with the most powerful form of religious and political hatreds. And on the other hand, you have women who have been to a corporate empowerment class. Boardroom versus battlefield; negotiation table versus suicide bomber. The mind boggles.

Bishop warns of the Islamification of England and the death of the C of E

Is he an hysteric, a prophet, or a tragically doomed Cassandra? Time will tell if Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester in the Church of England, is correct to warn of the end of the Christian faith in that country, something he already sees happening in various British communities:

In fewer than 50 years, Britain has changed from being a society with an acknowledged Christian basis to one which is increasingly described by politicians and the media as “multifaith”.

One reason for this is the arrival of large numbers of people of other faiths to these shores. Their arrival has coincided with the end of the Empire which brought about a widespread questioning of Britain’s role.

On the one hand, the British were losing confidence in the Christian vision which underlay most of the achievements and values of the culture and, on the other, they sought to accommodate the newer arrivals on the basis of a novel philosophy of “multiculturalism”.

This required that people should be facilitated in living as separate communities, continuing to communicate in their own languages and having minimum need for building healthy relationships with the majority.

Alongside these developments, there has been a worldwide resurgence of the ideology of Islamic extremism. One of the results of this has been to further alienate the young from the nation in which they were growing up and also to turn already separate communities into “no-go” areas where adherence to this ideology has become a mark of acceptability.

Those of a different faith or race may find it difficult to live or work there because of hostility to them. In many ways, this is but the other side of the coin to far-Right intimidation. Attempts have been made to impose an “Islamic” character on certain areas, for example, by insisting on artificial amplification for the Adhan, the call to prayer.

Such amplification was, of course, unknown throughout most of history and its use raises all sorts of questions about noise levels and whether non-Muslims wish to be told the creed of a particular faith five times a day on the loudspeaker.

This is happening here even though some Muslim-majority communities are trying to reduce noise levels from multiple mosques announcing this call, one after the other, over quite a small geographical area.

There is pressure already to relate aspects of the sharia to civil law in Britain. To some extent this is already true of arrangements for sharia-compliant banking but have the far-reaching implications of this been fully considered?

It is now less possible for Christianity to be the public faith in Britain.

The existence of chapels and chaplaincies in places such as hospitals, prisons and institutions of further and higher education is in jeopardy either because of financial cuts or because the authorities want “multifaith” provision, without regard to the distinctively Christian character of the nation’s laws, values, customs and culture.

Not only locally, but at the national level also the establishment of the Church of England is being eroded. My fear is, in the end, nothing will be left but the smile of the Cheshire Cat.

Read the rest here.

Brits suffering from self inflicted yorking and just plain bad luck

Yesterday, I read that the British health care and ambulance services had been devastated by New Year’s drunkenness, a self-inflicted illness for which I, as a tee-totaller, have little sympathy. If you vomit because you got blitzed, serves you right.

Today, however, I read something that caused me to feel serious sympathy for the beleaguered, vomiting Brits. Apparently norovirus has hit England’s shores in a big way:

Calls to NHS Direct soared over the extended Christmas break as hundreds of thousands of people fell ill with a violent stomach bug.

More than 1.2m people logged on to the NHS Direct website or called for advice over the 11-day period, more than two thirds higher than the same time last year. Dental pain was the most common complaint followed by vomiting and abdominal pain.

The NHS advises patients affected to stay at home for 48 hours after they last suffered the symptoms

The figures confirm warnings from doctors and Government scientists that cases of the winter vomiting bug, called norovirus, have reached the highest level for five years.

Almost two million people are thought to have suffered with the two-day vomiting and diarrhoea bug between the beginning of September and the first week in December.

New cases will peak in the next month and doctors warned up to 200,000 a week could fall ill as schools and offices return after the Christmas break.

A staggering 1,122,874 people contacted NHS Direct during the extended 11-day Christmas and New Year break.

As someone who used to be vulnerable to stomach flu; who suffered from severe morning sickness 24/7 for the entirety of both her pregnancies; and who has been hospitalized twice with severe food poisoning, there are few things that elicit more sympathy from me then stomach flu.  I wish the Brits the best of luck in combating this problem.  I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that the norovirus, which always crops up here occasionally, doesn’t become epidemic.

Bloody Mary’s revenge

Bloody Mary — or Mary I, her more official title — was Henry VIII’s oldest daughter by his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Raised by staunchly Catholic parents, she too was staunchly Catholic. By the time she was about 16, however, Henry VIII was troubled by Catherine’s inability to bear a son (because the dynastic consequences were huge) and was madly in lust with Anne Boleyn.

As you all know, when the Pope, who was utterly dependent on Charles V of Spain, Queen Catherine’s nephew, refused to grant Henry either a divorce or an annulment, Henry found his own way out of the situation, which was to declare himself head of the British church. In effect, if he couldn’t divorce the Queen, he’d divorce Rome. Being of a bullying nature, he worked hard and brutally to force Mary to give up her allegiance to Rome, but she refused to do so — and suffered mightily for that refusal, including being barred from seeing her beloved mother as the latter lay dying.

Things got even worse for Mary after her father’s death, when Edward VI ascended the throne. Unlike Henry, who remained Catholic to his death, despite rejecting Roman supremacy, Edward VI was a hardcore Protestant, as were those who ruled in his stead (since he was a minor when he ascended the throne). Edward and his ministers worked hard during his short reign to remove all “Papish” influences from England, and to “Reform” the English church entirely. When it became apparent that Edward would not live past his 16th year, Edward and his ministers conspired to elevate Lady Jane Grey to the throne, despite the fact that Henry VIII’s will had given Mary the succession after Edward.

Poor Lady Jane reigned for only nine days before the people of England — or, rather, the people of Southern England, especially in and around London — who had no liking for being manipulated, surged behind Mary and placed her on the throne. (Incidentally, after Mary became queen, she tried being lenient to Jane Grey. When it became apparent, however, that Jane Grey was a rallying point for those who wished to see a Protestant England, Mary very reluctantly sent Jane to the block.)

Mary’s reign started with real hope. People liked her, they admired her tremendous loyalty to the old faith and to her mother, and they appreciated her resemblance to her father. The problem was that this same loyalty had created in Mary a kind of rigidity that she could not leave behind when forced to rule a more diverse England than that into which she was born. She immediately set about restoring Catholicism and reaffirming England’s allegiance to Rome, but she coupled that with a couple of things the English found intolerable: she married Phillip of Spain, and appeared to be giving him (and, therefore, Spain) more power than the xenophobic British people could stand and, when certain British people expressed a preference for Protestantism over Catholicism, she felt it was her bounden duty to burn them.

It’s rather interesting that the British took so much umbrage to the burnings. This was, after all, an exceptionally violent age. Bear baiting, and dog and cock fights, which invariably ended with all the animal combatants dead or horribly wounded, were considered good entertainment for the whole family. More crimes than we can imagine were punishable by death — hanging for the commoners, beheading for the rich and powerful. Torture was common.

Death was also omnipresent from natural causes. Plague still reoccurred on a regular basis; the sweating sickness, a killer disease unique to England showed up regularly; and people died from everything from an infected toenail, to childbirth fever, to measles, to you name it. Child morality hovered around 50%, as it would until well into the Victorian Age. Death — violent, horrible, suffering death — was omnipresent.

Yet for all death’s familiarity, ordinary Englishmen drew the line at burnings. Burnings were Spanish and Papist. They were foreign and utterly un-English. Mary’s burnings also had no class distinction and the common people, rather than being pleased by this macabre democratic approach to heresy, were appalled. Feelings hardened and even those people who had a laissez faire approach to religion, in that they would go whichever way the monarch went, suddenly decided that Catholicism was foreign and mean and ugly.

By the time the well-intentioned, fundamentally kind, but dogmatic and religiously fanatic Mary died, the British people were grateful to see the last of her. They were also grateful when the flexible, pragmatic Elizabeth came to the throne. She was happy with a middle way religion and freely professed that she had no desire to peer into her subject’s souls. It was very early in her reign, therefore, that the British settled into the great compromise, which was a religion that was an amalgam of Protestant and Catholic doctrine and ritual.

And so the Anglican church that we know was born under Elizabeth. Mary knew this would happen — she was resigned to it at her death — but it was a terrible heartache for her. Her tragic and pathetic life was defined by her hope that England would be restored to the true faith, and she viewed that as a gift she was bestowing on her people. She never could understand why they wanted to reject that gift, and why they viewed the burnings as an insult rather than a remedy aimed at the unpleasant, but necessary task, of purifying England to save the English.

It’s an interesting history, certainly, but why should we care today? We should care today because, for the first time since Bloody Mary died, her religion has truly been restored to British soil, and I’m not just talking about Tony Blair’s conversion. Instead, despite the fact that Britain’s Muslims are probably having more babies than any other religious groups, it is the immigrants from Eastern Europe and Southern Africa who are currently have the greatest effect on the country’s faith — they’re turning it Catholic:

Roman Catholics have overtaken Anglicans as the country’s dominant religious group. More people attend Mass every Sunday than worship with the Church of England, figures seen by The Sunday Telegraph show.

This means that the established Church has lost its place as the nation’s most popular Christian denomination after more than four centuries of unrivalled influence following the Reformation.

Girls from the Salisbury Cathedral Choire School rehearsing
Girls from the Salisbury Cathedral Choir School rehearsing. While church-going declines, cathedrals fare better

Last night, leading figures gave warning that the Church of England could become a minority faith and that the findings should act as a wake-up call.

The statistics show that attendance at Anglican Sunday services has dropped by 20 per cent since 2000. A survey of 37,000 churches, to be published in the new year, shows the number of people going to Sunday Mass in England last year averaged 861,000, compared with 852,000 Anglicans ­worshipping.

The rise of Catholicism has been bolstered by an influx of immigrants from eastern Europe and Africa, who have packed the pews of Catholic parishes that had previously been dwindling.

Read the rest of the story about the changing face of Britain’s Christianity here and here.

If Mary is in the Heaven in which she so devoutly believed, she’s quite happy right now.

Another tale of a failed government initiative regarding health care

I won’t quibble with the need to distribute health care more evenly across America.  I will fight, though, against putting health care in the government’s hands.  Think of the DMV, think of airport security, think of the IRS, think of any interaction you’ve had with a government entity that has no competition, and tell me if that’s how you want your health care run.  And if you need a reminder, read this tragic story out of England:

Scores of premature babies may be dying unnecessarily across England because the NHS mismanaged a reform of neonatal units in 2003, parliament’s spending watchdog reveals today.

Health ministers provided £73m over three years to link up hospital neonatal units in 23 regional networks that could provide specialist services to save premature and low birth weight babies.

But the National Audit Office finds that the Department of Health did not issue instructions for the units to be adequately staffed. As a result the service was overstretched. Its specialist nursing workforce was nearly 10% below strength. There were not enough cots to respond to every emergency and there was a lack of specialist 24-hour transport to move babies and mothers to other hospitals.

Jacqui Smith, when health minister in 2003, said she agreed with recommendations from the British Association for Perinatal Medicine for minimum staffing ratios. But the government did not order NHS trusts to implement them.

The NAO says there was “confusion” over whether staffing ratios were mandatory, making it difficult for unit managers to convince NHS trusts they needed more staff.

Half the 180 units providing neonatal services did not meet the approved ratio for high dependency care of one nurse to two babies. And only 24% met the intensive care ratio of one nurse to one baby.

That is the kind of often well-intentioned inefficiency that characterizes government bureaucracies, and that is how people — especially the most helpless people — die.

Depressing story out of England.

This story, out of England, is depressing.  It’s about the lamentably high rates of teen pregnancy in England, the fact that more government intervention in sex education is not paying off, and the ease with which pre-teens can get morning after pills without their parents being any the wiser.  I don’t have time to add my comments to and thoughts about this article, but I think you all will find it interesting.

Immigration is destiny

Newest figures out of the UK:

One in five babies born in Britain last year was born to a woman from overseas, according to the first official analysis of the impact of migration on fertility.

Immigrant mothers are having far more children than their British counterparts – fuelling the biggest rise in population since the 1960s baby boom.

The highest birth rates were among Pakistani, Indian or Bangladeshi-born mothers, who gave birth to five per cent of all UK babies last year.

A further four per cent were born to mothers from EU countries outside Britain and Ireland, with a growing number from eastern Europe.

The Pakistani rate of 4.7 children per mother is almost three times higher than the British rate of 1.7.

I’d simply like to remind you to this book.

It’s “random thoughts” day

I’m on another vacation, sitting in a cyber cafe, working at a small computer with a microscopic keyboard, so it must be random thoughts day. Thank goodness DQ is doing the heavy lifting.

The first thing that caught my interest is what Mitt said at the debate, which I really liked:

But it was Romney forced on the defensive on the issue of abortion, when Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback defended automated phone calls his campaign had been making that highlight his rival’s one-time support for pro-choice policies.

“It’s truthful,” Brownback said.

Romney called it “desperate, maybe negative,” adding moments later, “I get tired of people that are holier than thou because they’ve been pro-life longer than I have.” (Emphasis mine.)

The fact is that many people who came of age in the 1960s have taken a long slow journey from one side to the other. As my own change in political convictions shows, the fact that I came late to the game doesn’t mean I’m not one of the biggest fans. In any event, as I keep reminding and reminding people, the best we can hope for is a chief executive who appoints strict constructionist judges, since it is they, not the President, who will change abortion policies.

Indeed, I’m reminded again and again that, probably, the most important thing the new President can do is change the Supreme Court — and we must really hope that the new President is a conservative. I think I’ve hammered hope the point that, if you haven’t already read Melanie Phillips’ Londonistan, you must. It points the finger of blame at activist judges who decided that the laws and traditions of their own country were irrelevant, because they were connected to a higher authority of human rights law, courtesy of the EU and the UN. (As you may recall, some of our more liberal and aged Supreme Court justices have been making tentative moves in the same direction.)

I’m now reading Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within, which describes in chilling detail what is happening, day-to-day, on the streets of Europe as a result of the multi-cultural, socialist, non-democratically judge ruled European nations that allowed unlimited Muslim immigration, with full funding no matter the fraud, and has proven unwilling because of  its doctrinal blinders to deal with the inevitable Islamist nihilism, violence and brutality.  Bawer is a liberal  gay man who is mad, frightened, and finally aware the America is the last, best hope for Western freedom  and democracy.

Continuing randomly, Confederate Yankee continues to eviscerate the once reputable TNR over the Scott Thomas propaganda piece.  It now turns out that when TNR did  it’s little “we were sort of wrong” mea culpa, it left out  a few pertinent facts.  Whoops!

TNR’s not  the only one covering up information to score political or ideological points (or just to cover up journalistic  malfeasance).  Turns out that, again, the Times is guilty of allowing the publication of an article attacking Orthodox Jews that used as its starting  point a known false anecdote.  Starting with Walter Duranty, journalistic integrity at the Times seemed to have morphed into, if we beieve the underlying ideology, we are acting with integrity when we lie about those  facts to support our ideological  beliefs.  Incidentally, that’s psychologically similar to the European Muslims who have no problems breaking European laws because, as far as they’re concerned, such laws don’t exist.

Incidentally, since I’m in Times bashing mode (it’s editorial policies make it an easy target), let me just  direct you to an American Thinker article exposing its decision to publish a piece by known  Israel  basher — and Canadian — Michael  Ignatieff as he explains  why he can’t support the war in Iraq. Surprise, surprise!  It’s all about the “Jooos.”  As Babu said to Jerry, finger rhythmically wagging, “You are a very bad man.”

And the last random thought, a surprising report today that more women are living with the fathers of their children!  We used to call that marriage, but they don’t because they aren’t (married, that is).   I  suppose this should be heartening, but I find it depressing, at least from the child’s  point of view.  Marriage says (even though it may not  mean) “we’re committed for the long haul.”  Living  together says (even though it may not  mean) “I can walk out at any time.”  I think the former is better for children’s sense of stability, rather than the latter.

The BBC in freefall

I used to admire the BBC. It’s role during WWII was stellar. In the 1960s, it brought us Monty Python and other cutting edge, very silly comedies. In the 1970s, it began making a series of marvelous historic dramas, many of which still represent the finest viewing TV has offered. But it’s been downhill lately. Some of us, of course, believe that the BBC is reprehensibly biased in its coverage about Israel, and that it is anti-Semitic and anti-American. You can see my short series of posts cataloging the BBC’s integrity-free conduct here.

But don’t just take my word for it. The BBC itself has acknowledged that it’s a left-wing, biased entity (although it refuses, irrationally, to believe that the bias that permeates it from top to bottom might, just might, leak into its news coverage).

And just the other day, the BBC got into trouble for insulting the Queen (how dare they?!), an insult that proved to be based, not on fact, but on media manipulation. (Hmmm . . . I wonder where they got the idea that media manipulation was a workable tool?)

You’d think the BBC’s travails would have bottomed out about now, but new depths of corruption just keep emerging. The latest report is that the BBC has had to stop phone-in competitions because of rampant institutional dishonesty:

The BBC is to suspend all its phone-in competitions after the Corporation’s Trust expressed concerns about “significant failures of control and compliance”.

An editorial review revealed viewers had been misled in shows including Comic Relief and Children In Need, some of which featured fictitious winners of phone-in competitions.

Mark Thompson, the BBC director-general, said the failures within the corporation and by its suppliers, have “compromised the BBC’s values of accuracy and honesty”.

“There is no excuse for deception,” he said.

“I know the idea of deceiving the public would simply never occur to most people in the BBC.

“It is far better to accept a production problem and make a clean breast to the public than to deceive.”

The Trust said the additional editorial failings showed “further deeply disappointing evidence of insufficient understanding amongst certain staff of the standards of accuracy and honesty expected, and inadequate editorial controls to ensure compliance with those standards.”

It added: “We have made clear that we regard any deception or breach of faith with our audiences as being utterly unacceptable.”

All phone-related competitions on BBC TV and radio will cease from midnight tonight, while interactive and online competitions will be taken down as soon as possible.

(You can read the rest of the story here.)

I wonder if Britain’s famous betting shops are making book on the specific date of the Beeb’s ultimate demise.  If I were a betting woman, I’d put my money on an early date.

Incidentally, it’s worth keeping in mind the rampant bias and dishonesty you see at the Beeb the next time you hear someone trumpeting a renewal of the Fairness Doctrine.  I know that the Left has always loved the BBC:  to them, it’s so pure, uncorrupted by those nasty market forces.  And it’s true, as I noted at the beginning of this post, that the ability to ignore the market meant that the BBC could broadcast wacky, experimental comedy, and that it could create historical costume dramas that appealed to the elite, rather than the masses.  Certainly when I lived in Britain, on the rare occasions I had access to a TV, I was charmed by the complete absence of commercials, and did appreciate that there were certain high quality shows that would not then have found an outlet in America other than taxpayer funded PBS.  There was also a lot of drek on British TV, but I was so delighted by the “British-ness” of it all, that I let it pass.

But those silly comedies and high dramas come at a high price.  Without serious competition, and without the need to respond to the public needs, the BBC has had no restraints on it.  This is quite different from what happened in America, where the free market revealed that Americans were hungry for conservative commentary.  And while it’s true that American network television has hewed to the Left, the nagging fear of the conservative market has kept network TV from becoming quite as biased and unhinged as the BBC.   Insert a Fairness Doctrine, though, and we’ll be BBC’d all over here, with all the bias and corruption that flows from a powerful organization having a stranglehold on the marketplace of ideas.

Is Britain still a civilized nation?

London, one of the greatest cities in the world for the last 1,000 years or so, continues to slide down, down, down. If you’re unlucky enough to live in the wrong section of London, this is what it’s like to do business:

A corner shop run by an Asian couple has been attacked 200 times in the past decade by thieves and robbers using guns, knives and CS spray.

The owners of the K&S corner shop, in east London, have been threatened, assaulted and racially abused by thugs and feel let down by police. They fear they may be killed.

Leaders of the organisation representing small businesses believe the experiences of Suresh Kumar and his wife, Sebah, in their shop in Plaistow, are typical of thousands of shop owners whose livelihoods, and even their lives, are threatened by crime, much of it drink and drug-fuelled and violent. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said crime against shops costs at least £1.5 billion a year.

The FSB said: “The retail sector suffers the highest level of intimidation or threatening behaviour of any business sector. A third of small firms have been the victim of such crime in the past year.” It demanded tougher action to protect shopkeepers.

The experiences of the Kumars were highlighted last night in an investigation broadcast on ITV’s London Programme. Footage showed a robber ripping a till from the shop counter. Mr Kumar, a father of two, said he had been threatened with a gun, sprayed in the eyes with CS gas and attacked with a sword. He has suffered a broken nose and has been spat on while working in the shop. One scene captured a man shouting at him: “You just keep your mouth shut. You are Asian, you are nothing.”

Working with the police, the FSB plans to offer rewards for information leading to convictions in cases where shopkeepers have been murdered.

In one of the most notorious recent cases, Mahmut Fahri had chilli powder thrown in his face and was then stabbed to death in his shop in Bounds Green, north London, in 2004 by two men who stole two bottles of whisky. One man has been jailed for life for murder and another is serving 12 years for manslaughter.

Given the anarchy that characterizes large swaths of England, it’s perhaps no wonder that England has become a breeding ground for some of the world’s worst terrorists:

Muslim radicals recruited to terrorism in Britain and Europe were labelled a major threat to US national security last night.

The US homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, singled out extremists who have been radicalised in Britain as a danger to America. A report compiled by US security chiefs on the threat to their homeland concluded that British-based Muslims would regard “the use of violence here as legitimate”.

The findings will reinforce efforts by the US government to tighten up visa controls. Mr Chertoff is calling for visitors from the European Union who enter the US via the visa waiver scheme to register their personal details 48 hours before taking a transatlantic flight.

I’m not saying here that the root causes of terrorism are just poverty and racism.  Indeed, the high economic and educational status of so many major terrorists and would-be terrorists completely puts the lie to that notion.  I am saying, though, that a society that is pockmarked with holes of decay and degradation becomes a perfect petri dish for all sorts of dreadful people and ideologies.

Harry Potter and ostrich syndrome

Britain distinguished itself under its new Prime Minister by announcing that Islamic violence no longer exists — or, to be more precise, Britain intends to define it out of existence by refusing any longer to refer to it. That fact, coupled with this July’s release of both a Harry Potter movie and a Harry Potter book, leads me to believe that it’s time for me to reprint an article I wrote originally for American Thinker in May 2006:

Harry Potter and the War on Terror

Not too long ago, there was a lot of giggling on the right side of the blogosphere when it learned about a book called Why Mommy is a Democrat, which its publisher proudly boasts is “A Different Kind of Children’s Book.” The book’s point is that, just as a child views Mommy in a saintly light, he should project that view onto Democrats because they share Mommy’s values. For example, just as Mommies do, Democrats make sure people share. And so that no one misses this message, the well—dressed, silver—haired, obviously Republican white folk in the background walk by a homeless man with noses upturned. Likewise, just as Mommy does, Democrats make sure everyone can go to school, while those same pompous white Republicans allow in only the rich.

Probably because it is so rich in venom and stereotyping, Why Mommy is a Democrat has not made much of an impact the publishing world. It’s self—published, and I wasn’t even able to find it on Conservatives are actually doing better in this area. Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed is actually sold through Amazon, although it places at a wan 5,700 in the Amazon rankings.

The push to get children to think in politically correct ways doesn’t stop with books. Just recently, Hollywood released Hoot, a somewhat turgid movie about children learning lessons in eco—terrorism. (Even the New York Times, while it liked the message, admitted the movie had little to offer in the way of enjoyment.)

These books and movies remind us how boring polemics are. You have to appreciate these heavy—handed attempts at pop culture indoctrination, however, because those on the Left are fighting an uphill battle when it comes to our kids.

You think I’m kidding? I’m not. In the last five years, through a series of rousing movies and books, our children have been introduced to some of the best conservative thinking ever put to paper or put on film.

In 2001, Hollywood released The Lord of the Rings : The Fellowship of the Ring, based on the first part J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ring trilogy. The movie was a blockbuster hit, and is currently the thirteenth most profitable movie ever made. It also wholeheartedly affirms traditional Victorian values: honor, loyalty, bravery and steadfastness. More than that, the movie’s story acknowledges that evil exists and recognizes that the only thing to be done against evil is to attack it, root and branch. A war against evil is a total war, from which one cannot walk away.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, The Fellowship of the Ring has no talk about trying to understand Saruman’s unhappy childhood as a way of exonerating his evil acts. Even Boromir’s manifest unhappiness is not an excuse for the envy in his heart — something he himself recognizes at the end, when he sacrifices himself to save the Fellowship. The two subsequent movies in the Ring Trilogy ( The Two Towers and The Return of the King) keep up the same steady drumbeat: honor, loyalty, steadfastness, and the recognition that evil cannot be destroyed with half measures.

In 2003, the same year Hollywood released Return of the King (which is the second highest grossing movie ever made), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix came out. To date, this book has sold 13.7 million copies in the United States alone (including a one day sales record of 5 million books in 24 hours). This popularity, obviously, didn’t arise in isolation. It was a logical result of the Harry Potter juggernaut that began in 1989, and that has been increasing ever since (helped by some very popular movies). I’m focusing in this article on the Order of the Phoenix, though, because it’s very different from the Harry Potter books that preceded it.

As the reviewers noted when Order of the Phoenix first came out, this book is much darker than its predecessors . In the earlier Harry Potter books, there was always a rather giddy, “Boy’s Life” adventure quality to the books. Voldemort was out there, but merely as “You Know Who.” We got a glimpse of him in each book, but nothing really serious — that is, until the very end of the book immediately preceding the Order of the Phoenix. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Voldemort emerged, fully formed. The problem was that only Harry lived to see Voldemort and his Death Eaters resurgent.

In the wake of Voldemort’s perverted resurrection, The Order of the Phoenix centers on Harry’s desperate efforts to convince the Powers That Be that evil once again walks among them. What Harry discovers is that nobody wants to hear him. He is reviled as a liar, attention seeker, and trouble—maker. Dolores Umbridge, who is the ultimate smug bureaucrat, with grim smiles mires Harry in endless, aimless tasks, all intended to reduce his ability to focus on Voldemort’s existence. Only with tremendous effort is he able to rally some believers to his side and prepare them for war.

I don’t pretend to know what J.K. Rowling was thinking when she wrote Order of the Phoenix, but I can’t help but see in this post—9/11 book a perfect analogy to the situation the West faces today, in the real world, in its War against Islamofascism. Some of us, like Harry, know that we have seen evil, acknowledge its existence, and are prepared to fight it. But just as Harry must deal with a government Ministry bound and determined to explain away or ignore the evil in its midst, we too face an anti—War movement that endlessly ignores, explains away, and excuses the most vile acts of terror and human degradation. I have to believe, however, that there are at least some young people who experienced the Twin Towers falling as the formative event of their youth, and who will find guidance and inspiration in Harry’s struggle to wage overcome both evil itself and a cultural indifference to that same evil.

Rowling’s dark tone continues unabated — indeed, it deepens — in Harry Potter and the Half—Blood Prince (which has sold a breathtaking 20 million copies just in the United States). As Half—Blood Prince begins, the denouement in Order of the Phoenix, which saw Harry and his allies at the Ministry of Magic engaged in a pitched battle against Voldemort and his Death Eaters, has finally convinced the governing forces in the Wizard world that there is a real problem.

There’s an awful lot of plot in Half—Blood Prince that simply moves the characters forward, but the book also contains a powerful defense of a just war. Near the book’s end, Harry questions whether it’s worthwhile engaging in a fight so destructive to the Wizarding community. Dumbledore will have none of this. Essentially, he tells Harry that, in the battle between Good and Evil, those on the side of Good cannot give up, but must press ahead, knowing that they are doing the right thing. Again, I can’t think of any better message for countless young people throughout the Western world to read. Some, at least, will figure out that, despite the worldwide media’s negative drumbeat regarding America and her military, true evil resides in those who gleefully torture and murder in the name of their God.

The last of the big pop culture hits that I hope will infuse our children with conservative values is, of course, The Chronicles of Narnia : The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Although this movie doesn’t quite rank with the revenue numbers for the Ring trilogy or the Harry Potter movies, it has already earned a respectable $291,706,092 in the United States. Indeed, for 2005 releases, it placed second only to the most recent Star Wars movie.

When it came out, the Narnia movie was much praised for its allegorical retelling of Christ’s death and resurrection. I have also noted its reaffirmation of traditional masculine values. What no one has yet addressed is that, as with the Ring movies and the Harry Potter series, this movie not only emphasizes those old—fashioned virtues of loyalty, bravery, steadfastness, it also does away with moral relativism, recognizes evil, and honors the fight against it.

The Narnia movie has one other virtue: its has spurred a new generation to read the entire series of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books. The books are wonderful adventure stories, but they also have one peculiar twist. The last book — The Last Battle — imagines the end of the world, complete with an Armageddon type battle; a Judgment Day; the destruction of the world as we (or, rather, the Narnians) know it; and a glorious eternal Paradise. I’ve always found it a very satisfying book.

In recent years, though, I’ve also found The Last Battle rather surprisingly relevant to modern times. This is because the adversaries whose invasion of Narnia triggers the Apocalypse are essentially Muslims. Lewis calls them Calormen, but it is clear that he’s pulled their manners and values right out of A Thousand and One Nights. This means that, back in 1956 when Lewis wrote this book, his imagination carried him to a place in which Muslim—like people attack the West and usher in the end of the world. This is an especially eerie premise given President Ahmadinejad’s outspoken Messianic delusions and apocaplyptic visions, most of which center on immolating Israel, but many of which include America in the flames.

As both a parent and a former child, I’ve discovered that you can feed children a tremendous amount of pap, in the form of silly rock songs, vapid movies, and endless American Idol contests without affecting their core inner values. That is, while these products won’t enrich our children, they won’t harm them either. Some things, though, do matter. It is therefore a great comfort to me that the most popular and compelling products our children devour affirm values that will aid America in the fight against the Islamist forces arrayed against us.

Education without meaning

Regular readers know that I periodically rant about public school education, which feeds kids massive amounts of bite size, PC information, leeched of content and meaning. One of my bookworms, having spent weeks studying California missions, was able to name all the missions, describe adobe production, and detail the abuses heaped upon Indians. She had no idea how the missions got to California, how the Spanish were involved in the missions, how the Spanish got to California, the religious purpose the missions served, etc. It’s as if the school gives the kids lots and lots of little pieces of marble, and announces that, in their hands, they hold David.

Just the other day, you heard me grumble about a massive school recital that had teachers blathering on about global warming (it’s all our fault, in case you didn’t know), and kids zealously wrapping about recycling. The walls were festooned were pictures of kids picking up garbage from the beach.

In other words, after a year in public school, my bright little bookworm has learned math at a procedural level, without having any idea what she’s doing (which is why, within weeks of a lesson she’s aced, she’s entirely forgotten how to to do), she’s well on her way to being completely up to date on all the horrible things Americans and other white people have done to every one else in the world, she lectures me about waste, and she’s reading for an advanced degree in beach cleaning. Grrrr.

It turns out I’m not a lone malcontent. The same dreary politicization of education, with children being forced to memorize endless factoids that are not allowed to hold any place in their imagination, while at the same time being deluged with political pap, is going on in England, all in preparation for tests that are aimed at memorization skills and multi-culti mastery. At least one prestigious think tank is now on the attack (emphasis mine):

The curriculum in state schools in England has been stripped of its content and corrupted by political interference, according to a damning report by an influential, independent think-tank.

It warns of the educational apartheid opening up between the experience of pupils in the state sector and those at independent schools, which have refused to reduce academic content to make way for fashionable causes.

No major subject area has escaped the blight of political interference, according to the report published by Civitas.

“The traditional subject areas have been hijacked to promote fashionable causes such as gender awareness, the environment and anti-racism, while teachers are expected to help to achieve the Government’s social goals instead of imparting a body of academic knowledge to their students,” it says.

The report, The Corruption of the Curriculum, comes as the General Teaching Council, representing the teaching profession in England, calls for the scrapping of all national curriculum tests.

Civitas casts doubt on the value of much of what children are now “taught”. History has become so divorced from facts and chronology that pupils might learn the new “skills and perspectives” through a work of fiction, such as Lord of the Rings, it says.

Teenagers studying for GCSEs are being asked to write about the September 11 atrocities using Arab media reports and speeches from Osama bin Laden as sources without balancing material from America, it reveals.

In English, the drive for gender and race equality has led an exam board to produce a list of modern poems from around the world without a single poet from England or Wales being represented.

The new 21st-century science curriculum introduced last September substitutes debates on abortion, genetic engineering and the use of nuclear power for lab work and scientific inquiry, it says.

Designed to make science more popular, the results of a study show it has had the opposite effect, with pupils less interested in the subject and less keen to pursue it in the sixth form than they were under the previous, more fact-based lessons.

Future scientists will be even more likely to come from independent schools because the new GCSE courses will leave state pupils ill-quipped for further study, it says.

Most comprehensive schools are teaching the new science for examination next year but the vast majority of independent and grammar schools have seized the opportunity to continue to teach biology, chemistry and physics as separate subjects.

Martin Stephen, the High Master of St Paul’s, a leading boys’ independent school in London, warned of the “terrifying absence of proper science” in the new courses and said his pupils would be taking the International GCSE in the three separate sciences.

If we’re not careful, just as our past was once England (and a fairly good legacy of freedom and democracy it gave us), soon our future will be England too, and that, sadly, is a very depressing thought.

UPDATE: On the subject of what an English education once was, let me recommend one of my all time favorite books, Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory. In his book, Fussell examines the intellectual life of the British as they went into World War I, and how it changed as they went through and eventually came out of the first modern war. It’s a beautifully written book, balancing a history of the war itself, literature, poetry, and the biographies of the war’s great literary figures (from Rupert Brooks, to Robert Graves, to Siegfried Sassoon). I can’t find my copy right now, but I distinctly remember him writing that it was the first war were every soldier, from top to bottom, was literate, and even those soldiers from the lowest social echelons were literate in a way we can’t imagine today, casually making reference to Shakespeare, Chaucer, Pope, Bunyan, etc. Even when I lived in England, some 25 years ago, I was impressed with the casual familiarity my British friends had with their country’s great literary works, something I doubt you’d find amongst college students nowadays.

Incidentally, I have in the past recommended another of Fussell’s works, a collection of essays entitled Thank God for the Atom Bomb — a book, interestingly enough, that no longer seems to be in print. In that book, Fussell compelling argued that Truman, in dropping the bomb, was not motivated simply by a desire to show off to the Soviets. Instead, he had before him accurate information that the Japanese intended to fight to the last man, woman and child. They’d already shown staggering, indeed insane, fortitude, in prior engagements with the Marines and the Navy. They’d also shown themselves to be particularly cruel to prisoners (think Bataan Death March). Truman had reason to believe that, even though America would definitely defeat Japan, it could only be done at the cost of another 30,000 – 40,000 American lives, with an almost unlimited number of suicidal Japanese deaths. In this context, it made perfect sense to drop a single bomb that would (a) result in about the same number of Japanese deaths anyway (because no one could have imagined the years of radiation poisoning; (b) end the war in minutes; (c) save tens of thousands of American lives in a war the Japanese started and, oh yes, (d) give the finger to Uncle Joe in Moscow.

As it turned out, Fussell’s theory about the reasonableness of dropping the atom bomb turned out to be right on the money. After decades of historical revisionism that tried to paint the Japanese dead in Hiroshima and Nakasaki as the first and worst victims of America’s heedless plunge into the cold war, recently revealed papers showed that Truman (and Fussell) were right.

Sometimes it’s worth remembering that there might be a certain virtue to the “ripping off the bandaid” school of warfare, since slow bleed warfare can be just as deadly, but possibly even more demoralizing, not only for the inevitable loser in the war, but for the victor too.

UPDATE II: Re Rob’s comment: Rob, did you read the article about the use of computers in Marin County? At great expense, all the kids from 5th grade and up have been given computers, despite the fact that more and more studies are showing that, for at least half the kids in any given class, the only things they learn are (a) how to use computers (which is useful, but could be a discrete class); and (b) how to cheat. Knowledge is not improved and, indeed, analytical abilities go downhill as kids simply get better and better at cutting and pasting, with ever less time going into thinking.

Things are not going to change, however, if the school supe’s comment is anything to go by, a comment that tells much more about educators and this particular superintendent’s ego, than it does about the children’s needs:

“We hosted the Ministry of China here,” said Chris Carter, superintendent of Reed Union School District, of which Del Mar is a part. “A man who wants to know what we do, how we do it — and take it back to 230 million students. And here, we get negative press for it.”

I’ve never had any dealings with this superintendent, but I’ve heard from those who have that this is pretty typical of her attitude: I’m right and everyone else in the whole world is wrong.

UPDATE III: This is a very meandering post. Let me meander back to my point about the atom bomb: Truman properly fulfilled his function, as commander in chief, to dramatically minimize American casualties while still achieving the inevitable end of American victory — an end that would have been equally bloody for the Japanese, although they would have died more traditional deaths, at the receiving ends of bullets, bombs and bayonets.

Over at America’s North Shore Journal, the blog’s proprietor has looked as something the American press routinely ignores in its rush to publish casualty numbers out of Iraq: the proportion of Americans killed in the line of duty to the portion of Jihadis killed. The numbers are striking: our troops are being incredibly effective, while minimizing the risk to themselves — which is, after all, the way wars should be fought, unless you’re a member of the American media or the liberal establishment, in which case you pray for American deaths for reasons of political opportunism.

Speaking of which, I saw in the grocery store a Newsweek cover, which I can find at Newsweek’s website, so I assume it’s old, which asked whether Bush’s departure from White House means America can repair its standing in the world. Or, decoded, it asked whether, when the cowboy who looked after America’s interests leaves, can we please, please, please have either Edwards, or Hillary, or Gore, or Obama, or some other good Democrat who will willingly subordinate America’s interests to UN and European policy makers so that, even as we’re destroyed from the inside out, and from the outside in, liberals won’t have to suffer anymore by being insulted at cocktail parties by the transatlantic cronies.

(Hat tip for update III goes to the temporarily ailing lgf.)

UPDATE IV:  Here’s Cal Thomas on the same report about the British education system.

Muslims in Britain’s northlands

Many, many moons ago, I lived in the North of England. I’d hoped to live in the South, land of Oxford and Cambridge, but fate sent me north and I ended up without any regrets. I discovered during that long-ago sojourn that my much-desired South was more international than the North, in that it had a larger international population and catered more to tourists. The North, in contrast, was solid, old-fashioned English and I, as a lifelong Anglophile, was very appreciative of that fact. The North did, of course, have a foreign population — I was one of those foreigners — but the predominant ethos was British. And yes, there were Muslims, but they were just one group amongst many, distinguished, not by their exotic dress or (in the case of women) veils, but simply by their darker complexions.

That’s changed so much. Courtesy of an LGF post, I present for your viewing delight a BBC Panorama film made about Blackburn, England, one of the old Northern manufacturing towns. One of my very dear friends lived in Blackburn, and a more working-class English rose you couldn’t have found. I’ve lost contact with her, but I do wonder what she and her family, all of whom were still living in Blackburn when last I knew, make of the changes around them:

Incidentally, the veiled women who keep popping up in the above little video remind me of the fact that I’m seeing more and more veiled women in my own hip Marin community. Their increased presence means one of two things: Either (1) that there is a growing Muslim population here or (2) that the Muslim population that already lives here is getting more fundamental in its behavior. Either alternative is worrying to me, not because I have any bones to pick with moderate Muslims freely practicing their religion and lifestyle in a pluralist society, but because a federal employee who is in a position to know told me that Marin is considered one of the hot spots for jihadist Islam in the United States. In this regard, my friend told me that John Walker Lindh, who got radicalized at a local mosque, is not anomalous. And if there are exponentially increasing numbers of Muslims here, and/or increasingly radicalized Muslims, that does not bode well for the tranquility of my community in years to come.

UPDATEA little more on head scarves.

Is the British Left wising up?

From 9/11 forward, it appeared that the British Left — which encompassed most of the British intelligentsia — was implacably hostile to America and viewed Islamism through rose colored glasses. Certainly, to the extent that the BBC represents a low brow form of intellect, that statement is true. However, things may be changing, and I’m not just talking Christopher Hitchens. Daniel Johnson, writing at Contentions, the new Commentary Magazine blog, notes that Michael Gove, a Tory MP who wrote about the 7/7 bombings in London, believes that the British intelligentsia are beginning to see the writing on the wall:

What adds lustre to his thesis is the remarkable fact that the most prominent voices now being heard in protest against the scandalous alliance of the Left with Islamo-fascism are themselves for the most part intellectuals with impeccable Left-liberal credentials. Gove singled out the journalists Nick Cohen (whose book What’s Left? How the Liberals Lost Their Way chronicles the Left’s great self-betrayal), David Aaronovich (who defected from the Guardian to the Times of London), and Christopher Hitchens, who needs no introduction for American readers. Nick Cohen is also a leading light among the group of liberal academics and writers who last year signed the Euston Manifesto, distancing themselves from the Leftist consensus.

Most remarkable of all, three of the most celebrated British novelists—Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, and Martin Amis—have all come out strongly against Islamism. Amis even describes himself as an “Islamismophobe,” but the real objects of his hatred are the “middle-class white demonstrators last August waddling around under placards saying ‘We Are All Hizbollah Now.’” As he observes, “People of liberal sympathies, stupefied by relativism, have become the apologists for a creedal wave that is racist, misogynist, homophobic, imperialist, and genocidal. To put it another way, they are up the arse of those that want them dead.”

Johnson has more details about this thesis, and what a u-turn some of these intellectuals are making here. | digg it

Exposing the BBC’s moral nakedness

Britain’s Anglican Church seems to be waking up, not just to the terrorists within England’s borders, but to the fifth column as well. Thus, the second most senior Anglican in England has launched a full frontal, no holds barred attack against the BBC for being (a) anti-Christian and (b) afraid of radical Islam. While he was at it, he took a swipe at veils, too:

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has accused the BBC of bias against Christianity and says the broadcaster fears a terrorist backlash if it is critical of Islam.

The archbishop, the second most senior figure in the Church of England’s hierarchy, said Christians took “more knocks” than other faiths at the hands of the BBC.

“They can do to us what they dare not do to the Muslims,” he said. “We are fair game because they can get away with it. We don’t go down there and say, ‘We are going to bomb your place.’ That is not in our nature.”

The Ugandan-born archbishop nevertheless said Christians must be more forceful in promoting their beliefs.

Blaming the “chattering classes” for undermining trad-itional Christian culture, he said: “They see themselves as holding the flag for Britain and that Britain is definitely secular and atheist. I want them to have their say but not to lord it over the rest of us.”


Dr Sentamu rejected the idea of the Church severing its remaining ties with the state. “People of other faiths say to me that the Church establishment is critical because it is a bulwark against a secularising agenda,” he said.

“The Church of England reminds the nation that in this country the Queen is Defender of the Faith, head of the Commonwealth and head of state.” The Queen, he added, was the “real uniting force” and no politician “could ever rise to her level”.

Dr Sentamu also questioned whether Muslim women were required to wear the veil by the Koran, and argued that those who did should not expect British society to be reordered to accommodate them.

He said Muslim scholars would say three things about the veil. “First, does it conform to norms of decency? Secondly, does it render you more secure? And thirdly, what kind of Islam are you projecting by wearing it?

“I think in the British context it renders you less secure because you stick out and it brings unwelcome attention.

“On the first question (of whether the veil conforms to norms of decency) I don’t think it does conform.”

The archbishop said he never wore a cross when visiting a synagogue or mosque, explaining: “Because I am going into someone else’s home. And I can’t simply say, ‘Take me as I am, whether you like it or not.’

“I think the thing is in British society you can wear what you want, but you can’t expect British society to be reconfigured around you. No minority can expect to impose this on the public or civic life.”

A BBC spokesman declined to comment but referred to a newspaper article by Mark Thompson, the director general, which denied that the BBC was systematically biased against Christianity and in favour of Islam, saying that it did not square with the facts.

Hurrah! I do rather wonder whether Dr. Sentamu’s moral bravery is aided by the fact that he’s not a leeched out, bleached out Brit, but came of age in the vibrant African church.

Assimilation versus multiculturalism in a capitalist society

As you know, there is a big debate going on in England right now about the veil. Those who support the veil are framing this support in terms of religious freedom. However, veils are not an integral part of the Muslim religion. Instead, they are a product of Arab culture. (Indeed, you only need to think of the number of devoutly religious Muslim countries in which the women have not traditionally worn veils. Indonesia and Bosnia immediately spring to mind.) The modern use of the veil outside of Saudi Arabia (whether a simple head covering or the full mask) is a political statement that began to rise to prominence as part of Arab nationalism during the 1930s.

The distinction between ritual (or culture) and religion is an important one in the debate about assimilation in a multiculturalist world. France and England demonstrate the dangers of taking either of those doctrines to extremes. At the time of the riots in Paris last year, mahy people commented on the French demand that immigrants assimilate completely — abandoning all ties to their place of origin — as a mandatory prerequisite to entering the French social and economic system. Immigrants unwilling to abandon all vestiges of their past are locked out of French society, and condemned forever to the netherworld of the banlieus. There is no middle ground. Clearly, this level of imposed assimilation doesn’t work.

England, of course, is rapidly going in the other direction regarding its immigrants. If the immigrants ask for it, they get it: In an officially Christian country, crosses are banned and St. George’s flag is pulled down. Muslim police officers are free to walk away from assignments they find distasteful or worrisome. Because Muslims won’t eat pork, cultural icons are threatened or removed entirely. (Personally, I’m deeply offended when I’m in grocery stores selling liver. Blech.) Students are arrested for pointing out that they can’t carry on a discussion with non-English speaking Pakistani students. (Although this seemed more like preemptive obedience by the school and the police than any response to Muslim complaints.) I could go on with examples, but I think we all have the sense that England’s slavish devotion to multiculturalism is also a model that doesn’t work.

There’s got to be a happy medium and, chauvinistically, I think the traditional American model (one that the Leftist’s are chipping away at to recreate the British model) is the one that works. This one says that (a) we will respect purely religious beliefs and (b) you can cling to ritual beliefs, but you have to recognize that they may hamper your ability to get ahead economically. I don’t think (a) needs much discussion. We are allowed to worship as we please in America and, while one can always dig out anomalous situations in which some boneheaded supervisor was disrespectful of an employee’s religion, that’s certainly not the American norm — nor has it been.

The more interesting point is America’s approach to ritual. Although we are officially a secular nation, we don’t have the militant secularism that characterizes France. People are free to wear Stars of David, crosses, and head scarves — all of which are ritual expressions associated with belief, rather than religious imperatives — as long as they don’t interfere with things. We’re all proud of our cultural backgrounds. Many people also find spiritual comfort in wearing religious icons, and that’s okay. However, because we’re a country governed more by the marketplace than by the government (at least until this November), our national position is that people who wish to engage in more extreme cultural rituals than small jewelry or little scarves have to be willing to take the economic hits. Thus, if you’re an Ultra-orthodox Jew, you’re not going to work for a Fortune 500 company that can’t accommodate the myriad religious rituals that underpin your life — and the government is not going to make that Fortune 500 company hire you (or, at least, not yet). To date, multiculturalists’ efforts notwithstanding, religion is still your own business, for better or for worse.

America is also totally willing to allow people to celebrate their cultures within their own homes and their own communities. A Jewish company won’t fire you because you have a Christmas tree in your home, nor will a Christian employee fire a Jew who lights Chanukah candles in December. Again, we celebrate these differences, but refuse to allow them to dominate the marketplace.

The unspoken American pact has always been that legal immigrants are welcome to cling to their traditions, but that they may do so at their own risk economically. The more you’re willing to assimilate, the better you’ll probably do. But if you don’t assimilate, there are still many opportunities. You make your choices. If the veil is overwhelmingly important to you, you limit your opportunities. If it’s of transcendent importance, maybe you should stay in your own country. We will not (or, rather, we should not) change for you.

And really, that last point is the most interesting. Why do people immigrate to Western countries? I think the obvious reason is that the majority come to enjoy the economic opportunities those Western countries offer. Whether they’re leaving Mexico for America, Turkey for Germany, or Saudi Arabia and Pakistan for England, the immigrants come for the work. It is ironic, then, that the more militant, having come to the West to enjoy the economic benefits it offers, immediately work upon the credulous multiculturalists among us to turn our Western economies into the same damaged backwaters they left behind.

As for me, here in America, I welcome immigrants who come here legally, willing to work, and accepting of the fact that they have to embrace the American pact regarding expressions of culture and religion. I am intractably hostile to immigrants who come here to escape their stagnant home countries, and then attempt to impose on us ritual beliefs and practices that will reduce us, a thriving pluralist society, to the same level of cultural and economic stagnation they ostensibly sought to escape.

UPDATE:  Minutes after I posted the above, I opened LGF and read about the British man convicted for protesting (crudely) Muslim extremists.  He was turned in by his neighbors, who feared the wrath of Muslim extremists.

More newspeak out of England

There is, apparently, nothing as divisive as asking people to join up with you. Or at least that’s the Reuters take on the very important squabble in England right now about veils. I leave you to interpret the story yourself but, as you read about Blair’s call for Muslims to integrate better with British society, consider the headline Reuters gives the story: “UK Muslims say Blair’s integration call divisive.” If that’s not newspeak, I don’t know what is. Maybe it’s appropriate considering that Orwell envisioned England as the home of his 1984 world.

“Preemptive obedience”

The Germans have some interesting words that encompass deep philosopical ideas. The ones that spring easily to my mind are Weltanschauung (“a comprehensive conception or image of the universe and of humanity’s relation to it“); and Weltschmertz (“Sorrow or sadness over the present or future evils or woes of the world in general; sentimental pessimism“).

It turns out that the East Germans invented yet another phrase that encompasses deep philosophical ideas.  Although I don’t have the German word here, I know that it which translates into English as “preemptive obedience.” Amir Taheri explains what preemptive obedience is, and why it matters now, even though East Germany is long gone:

In Communist-ruled East Germany, they had a term for it: pre-emptive obedience. This meant guessing the future orders of the politburo and obeying them before they were issued. East Germany was thrown into the dustbin of history a long time ago. However, “pre-emptive obedience” is making a comeback in re-unified Germany and several other European countries.

It was based on “pre-emptive obedience” that the German Opera in Berlin decided to cancel its production of Mozart’s Idomeneo after the managers decided that it might anger Muslims. The opera had already been shown in 2003 without incident and no Muslim group had called for it to be withdrawn. Thus, the managers were obeying orders that had not been issued.

A few days after the Idomeneo scandal it was the turn of French philosopher Robert Redecker to do a bit of “pre-emptive obedience” by going into hiding after publishing a newspaper column that some of his friends feared might anger Muslims. The fact is that quite a few Muslim writers have published essays more daring than Redecker’s without going into hiding under police protection, thus resisting “pre-emptive obedience” of orders that might come from “Islamofascist” groups.

“Pre-emptive obedience” was also at work when the Whitechapel Art Gallery, one of London’s major art exhibition venues, decided to withdraw a number of paintings by the surrealist Hans Bellmer. The reason? The management decided that the erotic paintings might “hurt the sensibilities of the Muslim community” which is strongly present in London’s East End of which Whitechapel is a part. Again, no Muslim had seen the paintings or would have been able to interpret them as “an erotic assault on the Quran”, let alone demand that they be withdrawn.

Read here as Tahiri gives myriad other examples of European fear-driven self-censorship, and what that means for the world as we know it.

Taheri’s article has special resonance for me today for two reasons. The first is personal and the second, which I by coincidence appears in today’s news, precisely illustrates Taheri’s thesis.

The first reason I care about the fact that Europe is racing to delete its identity is that we’re trying to plan a December vacation. Mr. Bookworm is pushing for Europe, especially London and Paris, because of the cheap flights. I’m loath to go there, though. I’m so sickened by the way those countries have become actively and passively Islamicized that I don’t want to go there at all. I’d prefer to remember England as English, rather than be exposed to “Londonistan,” as Melanie Phillips so accurately calls it. Nor do I want my money to support these economies. I really hate the idea of giving money to France, the same country that treated Yassar Arafat’s death as a national tragedy.

And before you say that I’m exaggerating, and I’ve read too many right wing blogs that magnify ridiculously what’s going on over there, let me get to the second reason Taheri’s article is timely. Not in Londonistan, but in Manchesterabia, an English girl was arrested after she objected to being placed in a discussion group where none of the other members — called “Asians” — spoke English (hat tip:  LGF):

A teenage schoolgirl was arrested by police for racism after refusing to sit with a group of Asian students because some of them did not speak English.

Codie Stott’s family claim she was forced to spend three-and-a-half hours in a police cell after she was reported by her teachers.
The 14-year-old – who was released without charge – said it had been a simple matter of commonsense and accused the school and police of an over-the-top reaction.

The incident happened in the same local education authority where a ten-year-old boy was prosecuted earlier this year for calling a schoolfriend racist names in the playground, a move branded by a judge “political correctness gone mad.”

Codie was attending a GCSE science class at Harrop Fold High School in Worsley, Greater Manchester, when the incident happened.

The teenager had not been in school the day before due to a hospital appointment and had missed the start of a project, so the teacher allocated her a group to sit with.

“She said I had to sit there with five Asian pupils,” said Codie yesterday.

“Only one could speak English, so she had to tell that one what to do so she could explain in their language. Then she sat me with them and said ‘Discuss’.”

According to Codie, the five – four boys and a girl – then began talking in a language she didn’t understand, thought to be Urdu, so she went to speak to the teacher.

“I said ‘I’m not being funny, but can I change groups because I can’t understand them?’ But she started shouting and screaming, saying ‘It’s racist, you’re going to get done by the police’.”

Codie said she went outside to calm down where another teacher found her and, after speaking to her class teacher, put her in isolation for the rest of the day.

A complaint was made to a police officer based full-time at the school, and more than a week after the incident on September 26 she was taken to Swinton police station and placed under arrest.

“They told me to take my laces out of my shoes and remove my jewellery, and I had my fingerprints and photograph taken,” said Codie. “It was awful.”

After questioning on suspicion of committing a section five racial public order offence, her mother Nicola says she was placed in a bare cell for three-and-a-half hours then released without charge.

She only returned to lessons this week and has been put in a different science class.

Yesterday Miss Stott, 37, a cleaner, said: “Codie was not being racist.” “The reaction from the school and police is totally over the top and I am furious my daughter had to go through this trauma when all she was saying was common sense. “

“She’d have been better off not saying anything and getting into trouble for not being able to do the work.”

Miss Stott, who is separated from Codie and her 18-year-old brother Ashley’s father, lives with her partner Keith Seanor, a 36-year-old cable layer, in Walkden.

School insiders acknowledge that at least three of the students Codie refused to sit with had recently arrived in this country and spoke little English.

But they say her comments afterwards raised further concerns, for example allegedly referring to the students as “blacks” – something she denied yesterday.

The school is now investigating exactly what happened before deciding what action – if any – to take against Codie.

Headteacher Dr Antony Edkins said: “An allegation of a serious nature was made concerning a racially motivated remark by one student towards a group of Asian students new to the school and new to the country.”

“We aim to ensure a caring and tolerant attitude towards people and pupils of all ethnic backgrounds and will not stand for racism in any form.”

You can read the rest of the article here. The phrase “preemptive obedience” applies perfectly to a situation in which a teacher and a school reacted so violently to anti-Islamist perceived insult that they sicced the police on a child, even though it does not appear that the “Asian” students themselves objected.

And as you read this article, please keep in the back of your mind the school’s Orwellian Newspeak. Thus, after having a 14 year old arrested and placed in solitary for (a) objecting to being placed in a work group where no one spoke the language in which the class was being taught and (b) perhaps calling the students “black” behind their backs, the head of the school states with a straight face that “We aim to ensure a caring and tolerant attitude towards people and pupils of all ethnic backgrounds and will not stand for racism in any form.”

That last bit of New Speak wraps around to a war of words, or a one-sided war of words we are now seeing fought regularly here in America.  I’ve already pointed out the fact that, to the Left, any verbal attacks from private citizens entitle them to play the government censorship card.  In their view, words from the Right are deadly weapons (perhaps because, in the war of words, they have no weapons with which to answer back).

Today, Peggy Noonan notes in the Opinion Journal that, in addition to crying out in pain at words challenging their ideas, the liberal media and liberal academic institutions are busy shutting down any effort even to speak those challenges to liberal dogma.  After pointing out four well-publicized instances in which the liberal media and academia worked to silence those who offended them, Noonan has this to say:

It is not only about rage and resentment, and how some have come to see them as virtues, as an emblem of rightness. I feel so much, therefore my views are correct and must prevail. It is about something so obvious it is almost embarrassing to state. Free speech means hearing things you like and agree with, and it means allowing others to speak whose views you do not like or agree with. This–listening to the other person with respect and forbearance, and with an acceptance of human diversity–is the price we pay for living in a great democracy. And it is a really low price for such a great thing.

We all know this, at least in the abstract. Why are so many forgetting it in the particular?

Let us be more pointed. Students, stars, media movers, academics: They are always saying they want debate, but they don’t. They want their vision imposed. They want to win. And if the win doesn’t come quickly, they’ll rush the stage, curse you out, attempt to intimidate.

And they don’t always recognize themselves to be bullying. So full of their righteousness are they that they have lost the ability to judge themselves and their manner.

And all this continues to come more from the left than the right in America.

You see, just as in England, the vocal on the Left trumpet the fact that they’re all about  “caring and tolerant attitude[s] towards people,” except that they’re not.  Any deviation from their norm (and you can define their norm however you wish), results in violent and comprehensive efforts to silence that deviation.  For those of you familiar with Madeline L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” you should be reminded of that far away planet, overtaken by evil, in which “It” forces all of the planet’s citizens to think and speak a single way, or suffer severe punishment and reeducation.  I certainly know I’m reminded of that cold, dark, drab place, and it makes me shudder to think it may one day be my home.

Cuts like a dull knife

In October 2004, the once respectable British medical journal, The Lancet, published an article in which it vastly overestimated Iraqi war deaths. Those who contended then that the article’s timing was purposeful, and was intended to affect the American elections, were pooh-poohed. I’ll concede, for the sake of argument, that the 2004 article’s appearance immediately before an election might just conceivably have been accidental. However, since the The Lancet is doing precisely the same thing again — publishing an article a month before American elections that hysterically inflates Iraqi deaths — I think any reasonably intelligent person has to conclude that the British publishers are intentionally meddling with the American electoral process.

At Decision ’08, you can read a compelling post about the bizarre numbers, the suspicious timing, and the weird intellectual backdrop for the article. (Great tip, Mr. Paragraph Farmer.) Then, at LGF, you can see a video of the Lancet’s editor, Richard Horton, giving an impassioned anti-War speech a convention in England, where he shared the stage with that feline luminary, crook and nutcase, George Galloway.

If you hear London calling, run in the opposite direction

This is London calling, and it’s not a place you want to go. First, from Melanie Phillips, we get a view into how the media, especially the British media, reported the war (hat tip: Crossing the Rubicon):

In short, much of the most incendiary media coverage of this war seems to have been either staged or fabricated. The big question is why the western media would perpetrate such institutionalised mendacity. Many ancillary reasons come to mind. There is the reliance upon corrupted news and picture agencies which employ Arab propagandists as stringers and cameramen. There is the herd mentality of the media which decides collectively what the story is. There is the journalists’ fear for their personal safety if they report the truth about terrorist outfits. There is the difficulty of discovering the truth from undemocratic regimes and terrorist organisations. There is the language barrier; there is professional laziness; there is the naïve inability to acknowledge the depths of human evil and depravity; there is the moral inversion of the left which believes that western truth-tellers automatically tell lies, while third world liars automatically tell the truth.

But the big answer is that the western media transmit the lies of Hezbollah because they want to believe them. And that’s because the Big Lie these media tell — and have themselves been told — about Israel and its place in history and in the world today has achieved the status of unchallengeable truth. The plain fact is that western journalists were sent to cover the war being waged against Israel from Lebanon as a war being waged by Israel against Lebanon. And that’s because that’s how editors think of the Middle East: that the whole ghastly mess is driven by Israel’s actions, and that therefore it is only Israel’s aggression which is the story to be covered. Thus history is inverted, half a century of Jewish victimisation is erased from public consciousness, victims are turned into aggressors and genocidal mass murderers turned into victims, and ignorance and prejudice stalk England’s once staunch and stalwart land.

That’s why the fact that hundreds of thousands of refugees from the north of Israel fled to the shelter of strangers in the south; that within one third of Israel, those too poor or old or handicapped or disadvantaged to seek refuge elsewhere were forced to live in shelters for a month in great hardship; that the entire economy of northern Israel was effectively shut down for a month; that thousands of rockets were fired at northern Israel, hundreds every day, many times more than were daily fired at Britain during the Blitz — that’s why none of this was reported in Britain (where as a result such facts, when now related, are received with open-mouthed astonishment) because journalists were told to ignore it all since that wasn’t the story their editors wanted. Israel’s victimisation simply was not, could not, be the story. The only story was Israel’s aggression. But that story is a Big Lie. So a host of lies were transmitted to support it.

Second, we get to see how this Big Lie plays out on London’s streets (hat tip: Seraphic Secret):

A 12-year-old Jewish girl who was beaten unconscious and robbed by anti-Semitic yobs on a bus has spoken out at her disgust that no-one came to her aid.

The girl, who does not want to be identified, was stamped on several times in a racist attack lasting around five minutes while on board a 303 Metroline bus in Mill Hill, north London.

At 6.30pm on August 11, she and a friend were sitting at the back of the bus when a group of around four girls got on at the Concourse, Grahame Park estate, and asked them if they were English or Jewish.

They both replied they were “fully English”.

One girl in the group asked the victim for money, but she said she did not have any.

She and her friend tried to leave the bus at Mill Hill Broadway but were blocked by the gang who searched their pockets and stole a bracelet.

One girl hit the victim around the face with her phone, slapped her several times, grabbed her hair and pulled her to the floor, where she was kicked and stamped on. She was left with a fractured eye socket, bruising and swelling to her face and chest.

“All I remember is her stamping on my face,” she said. “Me and my friend were screaming. Then I blacked out. There were four people on the bus who didn’t do anything.”

After regaining consciousness, the girl and her friend tried to pull the bus doors open to escape.

She said: “The driver heard the attack and didn’t open the doors. A boy opened the doors for us and I ran off.”

It’s becoming a scary thought indeed, that there might “always be an England.”  I’m sorry for those of you Brits who are good, and honorable, and true.  Your ancient country is becoming a place where you no longer belong.

Why I doubt the reality of so-called moderate Muslims

Radical Islamists in England sought to blow up at least ten transatlantic flights. Britain’s so-called “moderate” Muslims did not condemn this manifest act of terror. Instead, they sought to be capitalize on it, in order to advance the same Muslim agenda the terrorists wanted to impose through mass murder:

Islamists working within the system exploited the thwarted Islamist terror plot to pressure the British government to implement their joint wishes and reverse British policy in the Middle East. Lawful Islamists shamelessly leveraged the near death of thousands to forward their agenda.

Despite its reported fears of Muslim street unrest, the Blair government heatedly rejected the letter. Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett called it “the gravest possible error.” The Foreign Office minister Kim Howells dismissed it as “facile.” Home Secretary John Reid deemed it a “dreadful misjudgment” to think that the “foreign policy of this country should be shaped in part, or in whole, under the threat of terrorism activity.” Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander rejected the letter as “dangerous and foolish.”

Undaunted, the “moderate” Muslim establishment pushed even harder on the domestic front. In an August 14 meeting with high government representatives, including the deputy prime minister, it made two further demands: that a pair of Islamic religious festivals become official holidays and that Islamic laws pertaining to marriage and family life be applied in Britain. A Muslim present at the meeting later warned the government against any plans to profile airport passengers, lest this step radicalize Muslim youths further.

Why these ultimata and why at this time? According to the Daily Mail, the leader of the August 14 Muslim delegation, Syed Aziz Pasha, explained his group’s logic: “if you give us religious rights, we will be in a better position to convince young people that they are being treated equally along with other citizens.” More ominously, Mr. Pasha threatened the government leaders. “We are willing to cooperate, but there should be a partnership. They should understand our problems. Then we will understand their problems.”

The press reacted furiously to these demands. The Guardian‘s Polly Toynbee condemned the open letter as “perilously close to suggesting the government had it coming.” The Daily Mirror‘s Sue Carroll portrayed Mr. Pasha’s position as “perilously close to blackmail.”

This was not the first such attempt by “moderate” British Muslim leaders at political jujitsu, to translate Islamist violence into political clout. The same happened, if less aggressively, in the aftermath of the July 2005 London bombings, when they piggybacked on the death of 52 innocents to demand that British forces leave Iraq.

By the way, as Daniel Pipes, who wrote the above quotation, goes on to explain, the last acts of political jujitsu worked. Maybe after the show of heated expressions of outrage at the latest demands, the British establishment will cave this time too.

The BBC and its pro-Hezbollah agenda

The foiled bomb plot in England is again bringing into stark relief how the BBC manipulates the news to hide the Islamist component behind all the terror attacks worldwide and to focus blame on Israel. The most recent indictment is a Wall Street Journal commentary from William Shawcross, a British writer. As far as I can tell, it’s in the “pay per view” section of the WSJ, since I didn’t see it in the free Opinion Journal section. If you have access, read it. If you don’t, fair use means I can still share with you Shawcross’ major indictment:

It took President Bush to tell the truth to Britain about the alleged massive plot to blow U.S.-bound airliners out of the sky. In his first comment on the apparently foiled attempt, he put it simply: “This was a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists.”

He is right, but in the first news reports in Britain yesterday, the words “Islamic” or “Muslim” were hardly mentioned, let alone the dread word “fascist.” Instead the common code-words on television were that the 24 men arrested were “British-born” and “of Pakistani origin.” No mention of their Islamist ideology. Does the BBC think they might turn out to be from Pakistan’s embattled Christian minority? I don’t think so.

In Europe, the truth is so terrible that we are in denial. Perhaps it is understandable. We simply do not know how to deal with the fact that we really are threatened by a vast fifth column, that there are thousands of European-born people, in Britain, in France, in Holland, in Denmark — everywhere — who wish to destroy us. You see this denial in the coverage of Israel’s war against Hezbollah. The deaths in Lebanon are utterly tragic. But if you watched only British television, particularly the BBC, you would be hard-pressed to understand that Israel has been forced into a war for its survival. Last weekend people marched in an anti-Israel march though London carrying banners proclaiming “We are all Hezbollah Now.”

Yes, we in England are all one with a terrorist group that has murdered more Americans than any group save Al Qaeda; we are all one with a terrorist group that is dedicated to wiping out a nation and all its citizens; we are all one with an organization that deliberately targets civilians to achieve its religio-political goals; we are all one with a radical Islamist organization that seeks to impose Sharia law on Lebanon, with all that entails — the total isolation and subjugation of women, the marginalization or death of all non-Muslims, and the death penalty for adultery, listening to music, playing sports, eating ice cream, shaving a beard, falling afoul of the local imam, etc.

This kind of perverted thinking, where happy people parade the streets of London, cheerfully and loudly proclaiming their allegiance to mass murders of the worst kind can occur only when you have a dominant, Leftist, state-controlled media that has perverted the discourse, lied about the facts, and hidden all contrary information. Apparently George Orwell was off by 22 years, but otherwise he got it right.

UPDATE: James Lewis writes compellingly about the worldview the BBC trickles through to its captive audience in Great Britain.

UPDATE II:  Just a little editing detail.  I’m pathetically bad at “s” apostrophes.  My brain knows where they go, but my fingers tend to insert them, or ignore them, on an entirely random basis.  I have removed the inapposite apostrophe from the post’s title, but apologize in advance for all the other misplaced apostrophes you have found and will continue to find.

Talking to Technorati: , , , , , ,

Why the British don’t deserve their own history

England used to be a fairly wonderful place. For one thing, with that blessed wet climate, it’s just so doggone pretty. Spring in England is a sight to see. England also used to stand for a really high degree of civilization. It prided itself on setting high standards for its citizens (an idea spoofed in Noel Coward’s Mad dogs and Englishmen). During World War II, Britain was, for a long time, the lone light in the long, dark war against the Nazis. The British wrote wonderful books that sent their ideas about civilized behavior all over the world — from Adam Smith to Jane Austen, from Arthur Conan Doyle to Shakespeare (and that’s just a random sampling of whatever popped into my head).

The British also used to be terrible. They subjugated Ireland for centuries, often in the cruelest ways imaginable. They used imperialism to dominate all sorts of different places where they had no business being. Although, to give them credit, that was the world norm and the time, and the British were a lot less bad than other colonists (most notably Belgium, which established a terror record in the Congo that I believe has been unmatched by any other colonizing power). After breaking all their promises to the Jews, and trapping desperate Jews in Hitler’s German before WWII, they abandoned the Jews to Arab depredations in 1948.

One can go on and on with this good/bad analysis, but I think England is slipping irreparably into bad, because she has finally lost all sense of right and wrong, or of good and evil. Or, as Melanie Phillips writes:

At a recent Stop the West rally (yes, I know, but that’s their real agenda) demonstrators waved placards proclaiming ‘We’re all Hezbollah now’. Really? If so, why were they allowed to parade in Trafalgar Square? In a sane society, they should surely all have been arrested as a self-proclaimed army of holy warriors whose explicit aim was to murder untold numbers of innocents, destroy Britain, America and the free world and subjugate them to the dictatorship of the ayatollahs.

Because that’s what Hezbollah is. Literally designated the Army of God, it is a military force funded, trained by and answerable to the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iran that is pledged — as it has been since the Khomeini revolution of 1979 — to the destruction of Israel and the genocide of the Jews, as a prelude to destroying the west and infidels everywhere. The Iran that is steadily developing nuclear weapons so that it can achieve these aims.

But then, Britain at this moment isn’t really sane. It is gripped by a kind of collective derangement in which, blinded by hatred of Israel, it thinks that the current war against Israel by Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, and its ally Syria, is a war by Israel against ‘innocent’ Lebanon. As a result it is quite unable to grasp that Hezbollah’s war against Israel, which is desperately trying to bring Israel to an end once and for all, is a key salient in Iran’s escalating war against the free world.

Because Hezbollah is Iran. Every weapon in Iran’s arsenal is potentially available to Hezbollah. A few days ago, the London Arabic daily, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, detailed the extensive assistance being provided to Hezbollah by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

Hezbollah’s commander Hassan Nasrallah leads an Iranian jihadi army that exports terror round the world. And just as it did with the rival jihadists of al Qaeda, Britain — a prime target of Iranian terror — is once again allowing itself to become a theatre of the Iranian jihad and a weak link in the chain of resistance against it.

Many on the British left mistakenly believe that Hizbollah is merely another Muslim liberation movement to add to its collection. (The thinking which leads the left to classify genocide as liberation is a story in itself). As a result, the comrades of ‘Stop the War’ march behind placard images of their new hero Nasrallah; while George Galloway MP proclaimed at the demonstration: ‘Hezbollah is not a terrorist group and I am here to glorify the Lebanese resistance movement.’

Read the rest of her article here.

UPDATE:  Just a little more on the decline and fall of the British Empire.  Silly me! I just thought they were wankers because of their decadent, corrupt political viewpoints.  (And D-Brit, I hope you’re right that, should push come to shove, we’ll see a repeat of Britain’s 1930s switch from morally blind pacifists to righteous warriors.  I fear that, this time, the cancer goes too deep.)

Tired of America-bashing?

Are you tired of America bashing? If you are, refresh yourself by reading Edward Bernard Glick’s article explaining why you probably shouldn’t take it all that seriously:

When European intellectuals and their U.S. counterparts proclaim that the peoples of the world hate the U.S., they have it backwards. Americans are not the ones who are paying fortunes of money to be smuggled into other countries. Do Europeans see Floridians rafting to Cuba in order to live under Fidel Castro? Do they see Texans crossing dangerous deserts in order to work in Mexico? Do they see Canadians spending their winters in the Sudan and Saudi Arabia, instead of Florida, Arizona, and California?

We should certainly look for the few grains of wheat in the constant stream of European chaff thrown our way, but we make a terrible mistake if we allow ourselves to fall into paroxysms of self-loathing because the British, fed on their unrelentingly anti-American BBC diet, don’t like us today.


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