THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain

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A dialogue of the deaf (and dumb)

A woman was in full niqab at my local Tube station today. That I respect her right to dress as she likes, is for most libertarians all that there is to say on that subject. In truth, of course, there is much more. A wise friend of mine said recently that libertarians are wrong to treat such issues as cut and dried. We give the impression that we are uncaring, cold and more unlike other people than we really are.

This post of mine was a good example. My friend rebuked me for saying that "I don't care" if people want to enter into polygamous/polyandrous marriages, when I would actually be very concerned for any family member or friend embarking on one. He has a point. As witness the conventional lives that most of us lead, libertarians generally have a similar range of ethical scruples to everyone else. In a sense, we just have an extra scruple about interfering in the lives of others.

I would never advocate interfering with that young lady's right to dress as she does. That doesn't mean I don't have any other response. In truth my reaction was the same I would have to seeing her paraded in public on a leash. However much she and they might deny it, I feel it's degrading that her menfolk claim the right for her to be seen only by them. I feel her garb is the sign and symbol of misogynistic subjection.

Other libertarians might have different responses. We are not an army of liberty-minded robots. We are diverse, mostly rather ordinary humans with a range of views.

Why then do I feel so uncomfortable in expressing such a personal view? I am not afraid of being accused of islamophobia. As used in public discourse in Britain, I regard it as a bogus concept designed to close down discussion. Rather like racism, sexism and homophobia, it is usually no more than an incantation; a magic spell to shut opponents up.

Nor do I recognise the lady's right not to be offended. Someone is offended by any point of view. I am very offended by those who advocate enslaving their fellow-men on a time share basis; making them work for the state for months before permitting them to earn for their families. Yet I don't claim the right to suppress their foul views. There is no free speech without offence - real, imagined or bogus. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but if we want to live in a free society we can't ever allow mere words to hurt us.

My wise friend is right. If we don't talk about the many concerns we share with non-libertarians, we make it harder to win them over. We sound like cold, hard people lacking concern for our fellow men. It's not enough to say the lady in the niqab is entitled to wear it. We also need to say that, like our fellow citizens, some of us at least feel sorry for her and disgusted by the misogyny her garb represents.

In modern Britain, libertarians inevitably spend most of our time arguing against the increasing intrusion of the state into private lives. We need also to make clear that we only do so as a matter of ethical principle. It's not because we approve of whatever "evil" the state pretends it is trying to cure. We would oppose a hijab ban à la française in England for example, but that doesn't mean any or all of us are happy for the women concerned. Just because we claim no right to interfere doesn't mean we lack a moral response.

Perhaps the confusion arises from the fact that, in a radically statist society like ours, where government accepts no boundaries on its right to interfere, moral criticism is almost always the precursor to an attack on liberty. We used to separate the immoral (to be avoided in oneself and discouraged in others on ethical grounds) and the illegal (to be suppressed for the protection of others from genuine harm). That distinction has somehow been lost.

The loss is no accident, in my view. To advance their cause, statists have - in a cynical agitprop exercise - sought out "oppressed" groups and offered them the state's protection. They have given the right to those favoured groups (selected for the sympathy they evoke in a population of generally decent people) not to be offended and not to have hatred expressed against them. In doing so they have chilled free expression so effectively that it's hard not to imagine that was their objective. And they have caused a clamour from other groups to be added to the list of the elect.

The British media demonised the Polish and Ukrainian peoples as racist bigots in advance of UEFA 2012, for example. I am familiar with both countries and don't believe racism is more prevalent there than here. I simply think we have suppressed its expression here and in doing so may even have increased its incidence. Does that really make anyone's life better? Does it increase the chance of different communities growing together; learning to understand each others' concerns and to build trust? I think not.

The lady on the platform today may, as most human communication is non-verbal, have detected my unease. She may speculate as to its causes but she will never know the truth. Unless it's possible to talk openly to each other, how can we progress? How can we explain to those who are taught to assume we are hostile by our racist, sexist, homophobic and islamophobic natures, that we stand by the old English principle of "handsome is as handsome does?" That we really just want people to stop calling for us to be controlled like dangerous dogs and for all of us - citizen familes old and new - to sign up to the standards of tolerance and mutual respect that we think should define our society?

The key question is, as always, cui bono? I don't think it's the young lady in the niqab, who might well enjoy having me as a neighbour if not taught to fear me. I don't think it's the black and brown football fans who missed out on two wonderful countries. The only beneficiaries of this moral panic agitprop are those who seek ever more control over our lives. Every time we edit our speech for fear of PC "offence" we are losing the battle for our freedom.


Free Asia Bibi

freeasiabibi.co.uk - What can I do?.

 

I have made a donation today to the British Pakistani Christian Association to support its campaign to free Asia Bibi, a Christian in Pakistan who is to be hanged for "blasphemy." The alleged crime is described variously as having taken the form of refusing to recant her Christian beliefs or "drinking from a well designated for Muslims only".

I am prepared to match the donation to the first British Muslim organisation which formally joins the campaign. Some of my intellectually sterner readers complain when, despite my own atheism, I sympathise with the religious. This case offers fuel to their views, but also an opportunity for believers of all faiths to prove them wrong.

Two Christian politicians have been murdered in Pakistan for opposing this barbaric blasphemy law and there are threats from Muslim clerics that people will "take the law into their own hands" if Asia Bibi is released. It is disturbing to think that there are people of Pakistani origin living in this country who nurture such hatred in their hearts, but apparently - according to Harry's Place - that is so. Sitting here in my London home I can't say that I have ever read more chilling words than these;

There is evidence that the case against Bibi is being directed, funded and organised from London.

If so, then shame on those who are doing it. I hope their fellow British muslims will persuade them to see the error of their ways. There should be no place on these islands for such barbarism. The purpose of this blog is to oppose the erosion of liberty in Britain. British citizens baying for the execution of a woman exercising her freedom of thought is - to put it mildly - part of that problem.

h/t Harry's Place


The aftermath of 9/11

September 11 attacks - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

300px-National_Park_Service_9-11_Statue_of_Liberty_and_WTC_fire

This is the anniversary of the day that had even the French saying "we are all Americans now."

I remember a baffled Polish colleague coming into my office in Warsaw with the news. I remember waiting to hear if colleagues in the WTC were safe. I remember sending messages of sympathy and support to American friends and clients.

The sense of unity we had that day has been entirely lost. Partly because of the American alliance's mishandled responses, but mostly because no envied superpower can expect sympathy for long. Anti-Americanism is back to default levels among all the usual suspects.

Today, however, the families of 2,974 innocent people are remembering their loss. As we remember with them, we should reflect on the costs of fanaticism. After eight years, perhaps our governments should also begin to reflect on how quickly we can return to peacetime levels of security. The "War on Terror" has outlasted the Second World War, though such of our enemies as have not been killed or captured skulk harmlessly in caves.

There have been huge costs to civil liberties. There has been economic damage as "security theatre" has become the bane of international travellers. Intelligence, espionage, diplomacy and clandestine military operations are the way to defeat Al Qaeda. All else is pointless show at best and political opportunism at worst.

Every day we live in continued fear, is a victory for those 19 maniacs and the evil men who sent them to their deaths. Enough.


Shari`a vs English Law

Shari`a — Suspect Paki.

LondonmosqueI wish he posted more often, because Shahid over at Suspect Paki provides one of the few unmediated insights into the thinking of our Muslim community in Britain. He is a sincere man with his heart mostly in the right place who says some quite terrifying things at times. His pride in his community and his religion is impressive. I wish more native Britons had that. However, his latest attempt to evangelise - by reference to the shocking lenience of the English law to a gang of teenagers who raped a 14 year old girl is monumentally misguided. His personal (and "distinctly un-Islamic") suggestions as to how the rapists should have been punished are amusingly reminiscent of the style of DK over at the Devil's Kitchen.

In truth, had this incident occurred in a country governed by Shari'a law, the rapists would not have been convicted at all, because four male Muslim witnesses would have been required. The girl's evidence (and that of any female by-standers) would not have been admissible (even on the basis of two female witnesses being equivalent to one male). A different view to Shahid's of what she might have expected under Shari'a is to be found here.

Please don't go over to his site and abuse the guy. He's reaching out and it's a good thing that British Muslims engage with the wider community. We should encourage as many British Muslims as possible to express their views openly and honestly rather than leave them to be "represented" by self-appointed community leaders and the mealy-mouthed in government and media.  We would all benefit from more communication. I have left a measured comment. You may like to do the same.


The heart of Islamist darkness?

Mumbai attacks: Are they British? - Telegraph.

Let's hope the Mumbai attacks were not led by British muslims, but would it be surprising if they were? I fear that Britain has long been the heart of Islamist darkness. Muslim communities in the North of England - not far from where I grew up - live entirely apart. When my flights to Manchester airport coincide with flights from Islamabad, it is apparent that those communities are being constantly reinforced, with two identical and roughly equal queues of Pakistanis holding British passports and other Pakistanis arriving to begin the process of acquiring them. British muslim men ship in pliant wives from "back home", rather than marry British-educated muslim women. There have been calls for muslim-0nly areas and examples of non-muslims being beaten up for straying into muslim territory.

All this is our fault, not theirs. If given the chance of a richer life for one's family without any need to compromise linguistic, religious or cultural traditions, who in their right mind would not take it? It was our local authorities, funded and encouraged by our central government, urged on by our academics who provided cultural cocoons for these colonists. We provided translators so that they did not need to learn English. We provided multilingual information to help them find their way around our public services and systems of welfare benefits.  I have lived in other countries and can assure you their authorities felt no such need. Nor would I ever expect it. It is our schools that are staffed by teachers who have taken "respect for other cultures" to the point of inspiring contempt for the weakness of our own. it is our academic establishment that has twisted the curriculum so as to inspire shame in the native population. It is our politicians who have raised the historical apology to a ludicrous art form and put us into a cringeing posture of submission and shame in relation to our new fellow citizens. As the lyrics of Show of Hands' excellent modern folk song "Roots" put it;

And we learn to be ashamed before we walk
Of the way we look, and the way we talk

Our public servants have betrayed us at every level and have fostered evil in our midst. If I were a young British muslim, I would have nothing but contempt for the weaklings who hymn the merits of every culture but their own. Convinced of the superiority of my own culture and way of life, I might well see a chance to take over the society around me and raise its level to my own. I understand the thinking of the radical British muslim far better than I understand that of my craven fellow-citizens who saw no need to welcome and integrate our newcomers. My Labour-voting mother-in-law has taken in her old age to attending art galleries, operas and concerts of orchestral music in the cities of Liverpool and Manchester. Both have substantial immigrant communities, but she noticed that she never sees any at such events. We have rightly learned to value their cultures, but it is chilling that they have not learned  to value ours.

If it proves that British muslims were involved, then the "multi-culti" ideologues of the Left ought justly to share the blame. They will be partly responsible not only for the appalling slaughter in Mumbai but also for the poverty and misery it will now cause in an Indian economy desperate for foreign investment. Foreign investment that will not now come.


Teddy teacher freed after "pardon"

Link: Teddy teacher freed after pardon - Telegraph.

Respect_thumbnailHave we no dignity left as a nation? After the humiliating way in which certain Royal Marines conducted themselves in the hands of the Iranians last April, now "the teddy teacher" Gillian Gibbons feels the need to apologise to the very people who imprisoned her. How pathetic. As for her "respect" for Islam, what can one say? Of course there are good Muslims. I am sure that (as in most religions) more are moved to good works by their faith than are moved to evil.  But what about those who called for her death on the streets of Khartoum ? What about the ridiculous judges who applied Sharia Law in such an absurd way? What about the leaders of the genocidal regime which so ruthlessly exploited this petty incident?

To apologise for the "distress" Gibbons supposedly caused these groups was both ridiculous and an embarrassment. They deserve nothing but her (and our) contempt. Now that she is safely en route to the UK, we should evacuate our citizens, withdraw our ambassador and expel all Sudanese diplomats from the UK. Most importantly, we should cancel all financial aid to the murderous regime responsible for the Darfur genocide. We would have done so long since were they not members of the so-called "religion of peace."


The West needs a defence system that works

Link: The West needs a defence system that works | International News | News | Telegraph.

Rice_copyCondoleeza Rice's article is itself of no particular interest. It's addressed more to a certain foreign government than to the readers of the Daily Telegraph. It is no doubt a minor part of a major diplomatic effort.

The comments posted on it are fascinating however.

To judge by them, the UK is populated with semi-literate anti-Zionists. Who are all these people with the leisure during working hours to tell Ms Rice to have children, to call her a c*** and to call the rest of the Bush administration "facists" (sic)?

I have sympathy with those commenters who ask the question (more or less politely) "How can we be sure you are correctly assessing the threat from Iran when you so misjudged that from Iraq?" It's a fair point and one which Ms Rice needs to answer. The Bush and Blair governments have been left (by their dishonesty, their credulity or the failings of their intelligence services) with a credibility problem.

If Iran is the threat she suggests, that credibility problem makes it more difficult to defend our countries. For that, the two governments are to blame and Ms Rice must take her share.

However it's amazing to see, fewer than 20 years after Communist dupes in Britain were suggesting the moral equivalence of the USA and the USSR, new dupes are already doing the same for the USA and an Iran led by an open proponent of genocide.


What is the point of blogging?

Multimedia_pics_1386_1_photo_657Why am I still here? As I watched the British prisoners suck down to the murderous pixie who leads Iran, my reasons for political blogging died. Britain’s educationalists, for so long more dangerous than any external enemy, have triumphed. Those young sailors and marines displayed the cultural cringe that must now betray us all. Faced with a deadly enemy, they saw an equally-valid culture as worthy of respect as our own.

They  probably, as one of my readers commented,  "don't know who Nelson was". However, I am sure they know all about Britain’s “wicked” imperial past. They will know everything of her role in the slave trade, save for abolishing it within her empire (only the second country to do so) and then using her navy to suppress it elsewhere. They will not know that the Anti-Slavery Squadron of the navy in which they now serve liberated 160,000 slaves between 1811 and 1867 off the coast of Africa.

They probably don't know the history of people abducted into slavery by Muslim rulers from British ships and English coastal towns. They will know, however, of every time their country has fallen short of the high standards set by Ghana, Nigeria or the Islamic world. They will also know, in their guts, that Islamophobia is a terrible thing, though they will not be able to explain why. Frankly, they will have been so brainwashed that you could stick “ophobia” after anything you liked and they would be automatically unmanned.

Why then should they risk a beating - or even the indignity of being mocked for their resemblance to Mr Bean - for a country they have been taught to despise? A country which suspects anyone who respects its flag of being a fascist?

24_8601150455_l600If (happy fantasy) we could now purge our Ministry of Education, Universities, teacher training colleges and the staff rooms of our bog-standard schools, where could we find the people to replace those we defenestrated disinfiltrated? Generations have been lost to this self-loathing indoctrination. As Show of Hands sing in their song Roots;

We learn to be ashamed before we walk,

Of the way we look and the way we talk

The great public schools now teach to the same National Curriculum and even independent-minded teachers tell pupils not to lose marks by, for example, critiquing the poems from different cultures added to the GCSE English curriculum.

“Yes I know it’s technically poor dear, but there are no marks for saying so.”

Our decline and fall will not even feature the fun and games with which Ancient Rome distracted itself at its end. If you Google for examples, it becomes hard to argue that England is hopelessly decadent. Puritanism is still a powerful negative force and every description of a pleasure, even in the advertisments for spas and resorts, is accompanied by a ritual justification to do with how hard we all work. The English don't feel they deserve pleasure. We are unlikely even to fiddle as London burns.

When our time comes, I fear that as a nation we will submit as meekly to dhimmitude as the 15 submitted in Tehran. Perhaps one day, from the ashes of an Islamic Republic, a new England will rise.

Until then, is there any point in wasting breath, ink or bandwidth?

TO BE CONTINUED.