This is the beginning of a piece by Tony Blair that Guido linked to a few days ago. The rest of it is behind the Times paywall. But I think the basic folly that MPs were voting against, and which Blair presumably goes on to enthuse about, is actually quite well described:
The announcement of the summit in Jordan this week, after the use of chemical weapons in Syria, is very welcome. Western policy is at a crossroads: commentary or action; shaping events or reacting to them. After the long and painful campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, I understand every impulse to stay clear of the turmoil, to watch but not to intervene, to ratchet up language but not to engage in the hard, even harsh business of changing reality on the ground. But we have collectively to understand the consequences of wringing our hands instead of putting them to work.
But what is now collectively understood is that the consequence of this determination to be for ever “shaping events” and “changing reality on the ground” in the Muslim world only seems to be futile wars which expend much treasure and blood but accomplish very little. That, I think, is what MPs were voting against, egged on by just about all their voters. Where, ask the voters, is the British national interest in all this proposed action? What on earth is so wrong with reacting to events?
However, Blair’s claim that the choice is between ratcheting up language and taking action is surely wrong. The idea of all the verbal ratcheting of recent days has been to hustle MPs into voting for action. If the idea of action is now set aside, the verbals will be dialled down again.
By any reasonable definition, Maj Nidal Hasan’s 2009 rampage at Fort Hood, Texas was a terrorist attack. He proudly admits that he killed in the service of the Taliban, and witnesses say that he shouted “Allahu Ackbar!” as he fired. The Obama government, though, continues to insist that Hasan’s attack constitutes “workplace violence.”
- Bryan Preston.
Well, as far as The Community Organizer is concerned, his way of dealing with Islamist terrorism is to deny its existence. Deny it enough, and it will go away. (In case anyone starts accusing me of fear-mongering, I would immediately point out that accepting that there is a problem is not the same at all as knowing what specifically to do about it.)
Some people wants to intervene in Syria to stop Al Qaeda backed people and Hezbollah backed people killing each other.
I have a better idea… sell ammunition to both sides.
… and if ever there was a race in which I have no horse, this is it.
That said, at least the Egyptian military seem to be global ideology-free and thus are common-or-garden variety statist thugs as opposed to their democratically sanctioned but entirely totalitarian Islamo-Fascist rivals.
So as the blood of pro-totalitarian Islamists runs in the streets of Egypt, no doubt soon to be mixed with that of their enemies, perhaps those who hold up unfettered democracy as a self-evident Good Thing Everywhere and Always might care to reconsider and ponder where that can end up. I mean it is hardly as if a totalitarian regime has not won an election before.
Nah, never happen. Who am I kidding?
Or then again…
I regularly read David Thompson’s blog, and like many of his postings, this recent one pokes fun at a Guardian article, this time a piece by Mike Power, complaining about the alleged sexism of barbecues. The outdoor cooking of meat is bad, because men think that this is men’s stuff!
Thompson copies and pastes Power asking the following:
But, as several thousand years have passed since men had to kill our protein, make a fire, cook it and eat it, why is barbecuing seen as something women don’t or can’t – or, more accurately, shouldn’t – do? How – and why – do men continue to claim this sacred fire-space as a male-owned sanctuary where women are not permitted?
My immediate reaction to reading this quote at Thompson’s was that Mike Power was confusing a comedy routine with a seriously held idea.
I recall enjoying a TV show that happened on ITV4 TV a couple of years back, called Richard Bacon’s Beer and Pizza Club. Series 1 was particularly good, I thought. Series 2 got a bit above itself and happened in a bigger studio and with a bigger budget, and the guests became less quirky and amusing, and I didn’t enjoy it so much, but it was still great fun. The basic agenda was a bunch of blokes sitting around discussing their man-ness, with a mixture of genuine pleasure at often decidedly daft male rituals but also a healthy dose of self-mockery.
I recently caught a repeat of one of these shows, in which comedian Rufus Hound described how a typical male stunt, namely doing something that looked dangerous but wasn’t actually that dangerous, had become truly dangerous. It involved him putting a small puddle of something flammable in his hand and setting fire to it. His story of how this had all gone very wrong, on account of him making the puddle too big and then the setting of it on fire being delayed until the fluid had seeped between his fingers, won Hound the round where they were taking it in turns to recount their worst injuries. That his injury was self-inflicted while pursuing manly fun was central to why Hound was victorious. Doing it to yourself trumps anything that merely happens to you. How manly is that? In both a good way, and a ridiculous way.
The Beer and Pizza Club regularly featured shots of women in the audience, creasing up with laughter at the various masculinities that were being thus both enjoyed and mocked. Ah, men.
And, getting to back to the original point of this posting, I recall another Rufus Hound fire-based comedy moment on the B&P Club, when they were each describing their idea of a perfect day. Hound’s perfect day involved him cooking meat out on his patio and inviting the neighbours round. He said something like: “Nothing says manliness like cooking meat, out of doors, over a naked flame.” Much audience laughter, from both men and women. And from me. “Bacon” being a good name for the man genially presiding over this meaty mirth.
This is the kind of thing Power was on about. But what he misses, probably on purpose because he’s such a puritan, is that … it’s a joke! No, says Power. It’s not funny, I tell you! Stop enjoying yourselves!
And guess what, David Thompson agrees with me, although really he said it first and I am agreeing with him.
He quotes Power again:
This grilled-food gender split is ubiquitous, odd and unacknowledged.
And he responds thus:
This may strike readers as a bold, indeed preposterous, claim to make. One of the rituals of the barbecues I’ve attended is the good-natured parodying – one might say acknowledgment – of precisely those conventions. “Man make fire. Man cook meat,” etc. But perhaps we’re to imagine that only the keen social observers who write for the Guardian have ever noticed such things or found them worthy of amused comment. More to the point, it doesn’t seem to have occurred to Mr Power that quite a few people, male and female, actually enjoy the role-play opportunity of the barbecue – the theatre, the ritual, the fun. Even – heresy! – gendered fun.
Gendered fun. Spot on. Can’t have that.
I particular like Thompson’s invention of:
The Plastic Spatula of Oppression.
Not that men oppressing women is always and everywhere such a joke. That other favourite blogger of mine, Mick Hartley, recently did a posting about how a woman in Pakistan was stoned to death by her male relatives for the crime of possessing a mobile phone. What does Mike Power make of that, I wonder? My guess (please prove this wrong if you can) is … nothing, on account of him being (I further guess) an anti-anti-Islamist. It’s not that stoning women to death for having mobile phones is right, you understand. Merely that complaining about it is wrong.
I read an article describing confrontations between the fascist EDL and ‘anti-fascist’ protesters in the aftermath of the recent Woolwich atrocity. Ok, Marxist collectivists confronting non-Marxist collectivists, very much a row-within-the-family it seems… “Yah Boo Sucks! Our identity politics are better than your identity politics!”
But I have a question… were these fine anti-fascists also out in force when Islamic fascists were marching in London calling for the imposition of Sharia law?
Just curious, does anyone actually know?
John Stephenson has some views regarding the Woolwich attack and freedom of speech
The events witnessed this week in Woolwich, London, were a devastating reminder of the problem Britain faces regarding the threat of terrorist activity. However, much of the ensuing reaction has been one of confusion and has done little to aid the in the slow and painstaking process of combating such delusional ideology. On the one hand there are those who are determined to tar the events by forwarding their equally absurd beliefs. Demonstrations organised by the EDL and “Operation Fightback” were organised but quickly shut down by police, while mosques were attacked in places such as Gillingham and Braintree. On the other hand, I have to say that there appears to be an apologetic element within the public domain that is just as guilty of blemishing debate, although this has been done by shooting down anyone who is willing to speak openly about the nature of the attacks as “islamophobic”, “bigoted” or “racist”. Some of these attacks are justified – the support for Stephen Lennon’s EDL movement is undoubtedly host to anti-Asian racists and those who are prepared to beat up anyone they meet wearing a veil. However, many of their gripes come as a result of the confusion that surrounds the criticism of Islam.
The perennial problem for those who wish to speak frankly about organised religion is that in asserting their view they can sound similar to the bigot they would run a mile to get away from. However there is one fundamental difference; while the intolerant will tar a religion’s supporters with the same brush, the critic of religion will be averse to doing so. This can easily be put in a better light; suppose I am opposed to Conservative politics (which for the most part I am). This should say nothing about the way I treat Conservatives when I meet them in my day-to-day activities and should not prevent me from greeting them with the same friendliness I would give anyone else. However I should still have the fundamental right to speak my mind with regards their ideology or beliefs as long as my conduct towards them is not affected.
One objection to this may come from those who deem it “offensive” to voice anti-Islamic views. The problem is that it assumes that this gives the offended some sort of “rights” and in doing so seems to pay little regard or thought to the fact that the person of no religion may be equally offended by religious views. For all it’s worth I may be offended at the Bible’s description of a lady turning into a pillar of salt or offended at the Quran’s views on polygamy. However, I would not for one moment suggest that my offence should impede their right to voice those beliefs. As long as we do not discriminate against Muslims, we should be allowed to voice our views and people should have the right to be offended.
→ Continue reading: The Woolwich attack: criticism of Islam and the issue of free speech
One of the most shocking things about the brutal attack in Woolwich yesterday was the arrogance with which one of the bloodied knifemen claimed to be acting on behalf of all Muslims. In what sounded like a South London accent, this British-seeming, casually dressed young man bizarrely spoke as if he were a representative of the ummah. He talked about “our lands and what “our people” have to go through every day. He presumably meant Iraqis and Afghanis, or perhaps the broader global “Muslim family”.
How can a couple of men so thoroughly convince themselves that they speak for all Muslims, to the extent that they seriously believe their savage and psychotic attack on a man in the street is some kind of glorious act of Islamic resistance? Perhaps because they live in a country in which claiming to speak “on behalf of” a community, even if you’ve never been elected by or even seriously talked to that community, is taken seriously. A country where one’s identity, one’s racial or religious or cultural make-up, now counts for everything, certainly for more than what one does or what one believes. A country in which the politics of identity, the narrow and deeply divisive communal politics of shared cultural traits, has been privileged over all other kinds of politics.
- Brendan O’Neill
He was writing in the aftermath of the murder of a young soldier in London this week.
There are many reasons how this state of affairs came about, and I am sure commenters have their views on this. I would point to what has happened in our own education system and the climate of ideas in the West for the past few decades. While Western society is, by some measures, more “individualistic” than it used to be – and that is a good thing – in some ways tribal mentalities remain strong. Maybe part of that has to do with post-modernism and the whole challenge to the idea that there is such a thing as objective truth, and that there are universal, shared qualities that all humans have, most importantly, the capacity for long-term, rational action, coupled with notions of taking responsibility for one’s actions, linked as that is to the idea that humans have free will.
As those notions have been challenged, or even mocked – consider how it is fashionable these days to say we are all driven by “unseen” motives and urges that come from Darwinian evolution – then people are more susceptible to collectivism, to group-think, with its consequent view of people as either “belonging” to this or that group. Throw in the features of Islam as it is today as described by the likes of Bernard Lewis, and this fusion of religious fundamentalism, craven Western self-abasement, victimology, and post-modernist moral relativism, then it is not hard to see why these thugs can claim to speak for a whole chunk of humanity.
Rape, enslavement, child prostitution go unpunished for years. The victims’ complaints are dismissed by social services. The accusations are not seriously investigated by the police. With a few honourable exceptions the politicians and the media won’t even discuss the issue.
No one disputes that the crimes themselves are the responsibility of the criminals, but who is to blame for the conspiracy of silence?
Why, the first man to break it, of course!
In the comments to my earlier post, Jaded Voluntaryist pointed out an article by Sean Thomas in the Telegraph “…which blamed Nick Griffin for the events in Oxford, since by talking about this issue no-one wants to talk about way back in 2004, he made it impossible for anyone else to talk about it seriously. Yes, I’m sure if he had kept schtum it would have all been sorted out years ago…”
Here is said article: Oxford gang rape: did people ignore this sort of scandal because racist Nick Griffin was the first to mention them?
Mr Thomas has wisely opted not to allow comments. They would be radioactive.
As long ago as 2001, Nick Griffin, the leader of the BNP, was making claims about Asian grooming gangs. In 2004 he repeated these allegations in a speech clandestinely recorded by the BBC for a TV documentary, Secret Agent. He was arrested and charged with inciting racial hatred.
Which is exactly what he was doing, of course. He was making his allegations to stir up ethnic strife. Right-thinking people, aware of the BNP’s record as liars, presumed that these stories were just racist demagoguery. No doubt Griffin feels vindicated today: for telling the truth before anyone else. And yet it was thanks in part to his thuggish intervention that society felt able to ignore the scandal. And thus the abuse continued.
[UPDATE 17 MAY 09.45: As those viewing Samizdata on the morning of 17 May will have seen, I tried to edit a minor error in the post and somehow deleted the text from this point onwards. A kind person has emailed me the lost text, which now follows. I will gradually reinsert the links. Apologies for this interruption - NS]
Some background on “the events in Oxford” here.
…a jury at the Old Bailey convicted seven men responsible for running an underworld child sex abuse ring in the Cowley area of Oxford of 43 charges of rape, child prostitution, trafficking and procuring a backstreet abortion. Six victims gave harrowing evidence during the three-and-a-half month trial, but police believe the number of girls recruited by the gang and abused numbers more than 50.
The gang – who were of Asian and north African descent – targeted extremely vulnerable white girls as young as 11 on the streets of Cowley and sold them for £600 a time to be raped and violently abused over an eight-year period. Two other men were cleared by the jury.
A litany of failings by police and social services had allowed the men between 2004 and 2012 to groom young, vulnerable girls they met on the streets, outside schools and in cafes, entice them with the promise of alcohol and trinkets, and subject them over years to sexual atrocities and torture.
“Asian” generally means Pakistani background, although two of the perpetrators here were Eritrean. All the abusers were Muslim. None of their victims were. This was not coincidence. The men generally targeted girls from children’s homes and disrupted family backgrounds. The abusers saw their victims as promiscuous white trash, in an utterly different category from their own wives and daughters. This is the latest of a string of such cases, all following the same pattern, such that a report produced by the police-staffed Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre “found that more than a quarter (26 per cent) of suspects reported to Ceop were of Asian origin, and the majority of groups identified were Asian”. There have been other trials of similar “Asian” (specifically British Pakistani) grooming gangs in Rochdale, Rotherham, Derby, Telford and Keighley.
Keighley, as it happened, was where Nick Griffin made one of the speeches that got him prosecuted. In that speech, Griffin said,
“These 18, 19, and 25-year-old Asian Muslims who are seducing and raping white girls in this town right now are not particularly good Muslims, they drink and all the rest of it, but still part of what they are doing comes from what they are taught is acceptable.”
It will be a cold day in hell before I vote for the Holocaust denier Nick Griffin’s literally fascist party, but I rather think that if Griffin feels vindicated that is because he has been vindicated.
Thug he may be, but his “thuggish intervention” in this case consisted of stating the truth when almost nobody else would – and being prosecuted for it. The charges covered many things said by Griffin, but the opening speech by the prosecuting counsel specifically featured his claims of “paedophile drug rape” in Keighley. (The prosecution was unsuccessful. Two juries acquitted Griffin and another defendant in two separate trials.)
Society did not just “feel able to ignore the scandal”, society – in the form of police chiefs, social workers, and the media – actively, cravenly dodged saying anything about it. Why? Because they were all afraid of being branded racist. As one of the few exceptions to the media silence, the documentary-maker Anna Hall, wrote, “…a senior children’s services manager said: “The men are Asian, Anna, but you’ll never get anyone on the record to say that.”” Or as Tim Loughton, the former Children’s Minister admitted, “There are clear cultural sensitivities around these cases that too often meant the relevant agencies were reluctant to intervene properly”. Or as retired police Superintendent Mick Gradwell said, “There is a problem with some members of the Pakistani community targeting young women in this way [...] In the past there have been major fears of being seen as racist, especially after the Stephen Lawrence inquiry at the Met police said the force was institutionally racist.” (H/T: Laban Tall at UK Commentators, who has followed this story for years.) Note how Gradwell described the former Home Secretary Jack Straw as “brave” for speaking out as late as 2011. He was, too, even though his fellow Labour MP Ann Cryer had been much braver in speaking out back in 2004 when she was MP for Keighley. Bravery was required to speak out because bad things were likely to happen to the careers of those who did, particularly if they did not have Cryer’s or Straw’s Parliamentary privilege.
And thus the abuse continued, Mr Thomas.
Incidentally, the police “requested” that Anna Hall’s documentary “Edge of the City” be postponed until the 2004 local elections were over, for fear it would send votes to the BNP. I thought the police were meant to be politically impartial.
There is a grain of truth in what Sean Thomas has written. When I first saw reports that the BNP claimed that Asian gangs were grooming white girls, my eyes skated over them because claims that “their” men are seducing, corrupting and raping “our” girls have been a staple of racist propaganda through the ages. Thus far, Mr Thomas was right. But to attempt to shift the blame for even a fraction of years of sustained, repeated evasion of their duties on the part of every organ of the establishment onto Nick Griffin is… inventive. Were the social services departments of multiple British towns really listening that hard to Nick Griffin? Did the chief constables of several different police authorities check that the chairman of the British National Party hadn’t spoilt the atmosphere before giving the go-ahead to investigate? Should we assume that the fact that in the last couple of years the Crown Prosecution Service has finally started to actively prosecute these gangs (following the initiative taken by Chief Crown Prosecutor for North West England Nazir Afzal, himself of Pakistani heritage, please note) is because the CPS lawyers have finally got over their sulk at Griffin making them look bad?
A question for the mainstream media: aren’t you ashamed that the British National Party reported what you dared not?
A question for the politicians, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service: do you now regret the prosecution of Nick Griffin and Mark Collett on charges of using words or behaviour likely to stir up racial hatred, specifically including his claims about Keighley? Do you acknowledge that your action in attempting to curtail and punish his free speech, in part for saying this type of crime was happening at a time and a place when it was, will certainly have deterred others from speaking out?
Earthquake near Iranian nuclear power station leaves four people dead…
Claims that Israel caused the earthquake in 3…2…1…
What? You think I am joking?
The claim that muslim thugs have been harassing people walking through ‘muslim areas’ of Britain has received much coverage in the UK media. I am always leery of taking such stories at face value… how prevalent is this? I do not live in an area with much in the way of a muslim population but I do regularly visit parts of London that do… and I have never seen anything like what is shown in the linked article/video happening.
That is not to say I do not think this sort of thing is at all implausible… not at all and heaven knows I am never slow to think poorly of a religion that explicitly espouses a totalitarian political order in its holy writings. But I wonder just how much of a problem it is? I am not in a position to judge for myself, but that it happens at all is intolerable.
Nevertheless, I wonder if the appearance of ‘Muslim Brownshirts’ in Britain is the sort of problem that is particularly amenable to government suppression. In truth, it seems to me it would be best dealt with at a more local and social level… no, I do not mean via some officially sanctioned ‘community outreach’ but rather by people taking a more ‘civil society oriented’ approach, which is to say confronting the fuckers on the streets, getting in their faces and if needed, replying to any violence by kicking them in the bollocks repeatedly.
Ideally, this sort of thing should be done by non-lunatic members of Britain’s muslim community, but that should by no means be seen as a prerequisite for pushing back. Indeed as they seem to enjoy picking on perceived homosexuals, perhaps some members of the typically vocal gay community might like to forcibly stick their oar in the water on this… but who pushes back matters less than someone should.
I suspect a more ‘grass roots’ approach would be vastly more effective than anything our worthless political class is likely to come up with.
Look, I want you to know that if I thought there was the slightest chance that it was really going to happen my first reaction to this story would probably not have been to say “Cool”.
Lord Gilbert Suggests Dropping A Neutron Bomb On Pakistan-Afghanistan Border
Even cooler: he is a former Labour defence minister.
Responding for the government Lord Wallace said the coalition did not share the “rumbustious views” of Gilbert.