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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Gary Lineker’s own goal

BBC football pundit Gary Lineker just brought the end of the BBC licence fee measurably closer.

In this tweet he quoted the BBC Press Office saying he had signed a new five year deal with them and said,

“Oh dear. Thoughts are with the haters at this difficult time.”

In the last few months the BBC has turned a corner, the one leading to a blind alley in a bad part of town. The strategy of appointing a former Conservative politician as Director-General might have worked ten years ago but comes too late now. The almighty row about the last night of the Proms finally convinced many of those older viewers and listeners who were once its core audience that the state broadcaster does not like them very much. The Beeb’s protestations that its proposal to omit the words of Land of Hope and Glory and Rule, Britannia was because of Covid-19 rather than BLM were not believed. Partly this disbelief was because – until it became clear how big the row was going to be – the BBC itself had given its usual sympathetic coverage to those saying patriotic anthems should be dropped from the Proms because “How are we going to break down the institutional system, if we hang on to these [songs]?”. Partly it was because this was the last straw, not the first. There had been many straws like this:

…during a debate about “white women’s privilege” on No Country for Young Women, a podcast devoted to racial issues, hosted by Monty Onanuga and Sadia Azmat.

Amelia Dimoldenberg, a YouTuber who appeared on the episode, urged white women to “educate yourself, read some books, so you are aware of the histories of white people and race”. She added: “Don’t be so loud. Stop shouting and stop attacking black voices — instead you should be uplifting them.”

The advice was echoed by her fellow guest Charlotte Lydia Riley, a historian at Southampton University, who said that white women should “try not to be defensive about your whiteness”. She added: “A lot of the time when women are Karens it’s because they are completely unwilling to accept that their whiteness is a privilege . . . They feel like they don’t want to interrogate how their behaviour might be racist.”

The guests, both white, suggested that white women should stop expressing opinions. “Get out the way, basically,” said Dr Riley, to which Ms Dimoldenberg agreed: “Yeah, basically leave.”

A lot of white women were moved to comment on that Times article. They expressed complete willingness to “basically leave” the BBC, as soon as the law allowed them to do so. Middle-aged, middle-class Times readers would once have been the most eloquent defenders of the BBC and what a previous Director-General delicately called its “unique method of funding”, a euphemism for force.

Who else among former loyalists has the British Broadcasting Corporation annoyed recently? The old. Personally I thought Tony Blair’s decision in 2000 to issue free TV licences to those over the age of 75 was sentimental nonsense, but as with all subsidies, cancelling them makes people angry. Who’s left? Surely that would be fans of Match of the Day, the longest-running football television programme in the world?

Maybe, maybe not. Match of the Day‘s lead presenter is the aforementioned Gary Lineker who is so famous that I know who he is. Until his recent £400,000 pay cut, agreed to help out his employer in hard times and, er, increase gender balance among BBC salaries, Gary Lineker was earning £1.75 million per annum. To have presented Match of the Day for as long as he has at the salary he commands (“commands” as in someone at the command economy of the BBC commands that he shall have that amount), Mr Lineker must be doing something right. But he is not doing Twitter right if he thinks reminding people that he is now down to a measly £1.35 million will go down well with the average football fan, especially since he had agreed as a condition of the deal that he he would tweet more carefully.

Someone called Michael Rafferty replied,

Let’s not be smug Gary iv not worked since Christmas due to this pandemic… It’s comments like that put me off people like yourself …

jim ferguson says,

I dont hate you Gary but as an ex serviceman on a lowly pension after serving my country putting my life on the line 23 years and then having to pay to keep you in that style you turn your nose up at us feel its unfair when i dont want to or should be forced too pay for it

LSW1 says,

Shouldn’t you be on your way out so they can replace you with someone younger and more diverse?

The Royal Opera House did not perform as expected, and nor did a woman surrounded by a mob

Sometimes I start to make a Samizdata post and then that silly business of Real Life gets in the way and the post is left to languish as a draft. And sometimes Real Life comes back months later and tells me I was right the first time: there was a story there worth talking about.

That is how I come to be posting about a Times report dating from early June on August 27th.

On June 10th 2020, the Times reported:

Royal Opera House under fire for ‘silence’ on Black Lives Matter protests

The Royal Opera House has been described as an “unrelentingly white organisation” by a senior employee who said he was “ashamed” of its silence over the death of George Floyd.

Mark Dakin, the organisation’s technical director, said it had paid “lip service to the inclusion and progression of a black and minority ethnic workforce”.

In an email which has been posted on the Royal Opera House intranet Mr Dakin said he had “only an exhausting, burning rage and desolate sadness that still nothing has changed . . . you continue to exclude us”.

He said that during the Black Lives Matter protests over the killing of Mr Floyd the Royal Opera House was “silent and chooses to not even show public solidarity”.

Mr Dakin, who joined in 2016 to run Covent Garden’s technical and production department after 20 years with the National Theatre, said that unlike other organisations the Royal Opera House had not sufficiently supported #blackouttuesday on June 2.

Mr Dakin, who grew up as an adopted child in Bristol with a white family, also claimed that the Royal Opera House had continually declined to publicly support Black History Month.

In an open letter posted on the website of Stage Sight Mr Dakin said he was “ashamed the organisation for which I work has chosen to exercise the privilege of staying publicly silent about the racist murder of the African American George Floyd, proactively choosing to ignore #blackouttuesday, as it always publicly ignores Black History Month.”

Mr Dakin’s “burning rage” at the Royal Opera House for the horrible crime of not participating in his favoured hashtag campaigns that were utterly unrelated to opera seemed almost comical in June. Less so in August.

America’s Woke Red Guards Enforcing Goodthink by Harassing D.C. Restaurants Patrons

That was from PJ Media. A little to my surprise even the Independent seemed to have cottoned on to the idea that a mob surrounding a random woman and berating her for not making a gesture of solidarity at their demand might be a bad look. Interestingly the woman in the pink top, Lauren B. Victor, is herself a supporter of BLM but was commendably resistant to being coerced.

Edit: The story about the harassment of the diners has been reported worldwide.

Une foule agressive de manifestants BLM accostent des convives blancs à l’extérieur des restaurants de DC

Los huéspedes del restaurante estaban rodeados de manifestantes enojados de Black Lives Matter: “Un regalo para Trump”

„Heb deine Faust!“ – US-Aktivisten bedrängen Restaurantbesucherin

At the time of writing neither the BBC nor the Guardian had any mention of it.

Another edit: The Guardian is not merely declining to mention the Lauren Victor story, it is actively deleting mention of it by readers in comments to this opinion piece on the US election by Nathan Robinson. I assure you that my own two comments were polite and relevant but they were instantly deleted. I think I saw a couple of comments from other readers mentioning unsavoury behaviour by BLM supporters that, like my two, have now disappeared.

The culture wars, ctd

“Speaking personally, I am getting a little fed up with the shoe-horning of George Floyd into every aspect of our lives. The Minnesotan policeman accused of killing him is currently in prison awaiting trial for murder. Literally nobody on earth is defending his actions. So it is slightly galling that anyone, at the BBC or anywhere else, should try to present his killing as some sort of Murder on the Orient Express effort involving every white person on earth.”

Douglas Murray.

He, yours truly and many other people are fed up with all this. But for today’s Maoist culture warriors, even seemingly small things, such as the words accompanying “Land of Hope and Glory”, are worth crushing into silence, if their acts achieve the end of demoralising and destroying what they hate. (Check out this Elgar CD for the actual music.)

Ironically, the song Rule Britannia includes the line “Britons never, never shall be slaves”. That enrages some, for whom the object of their drooling political philosophy is to enslave humanity. Their hatred of such tunes is in fact a form of psychological projection and on a massive scale. They see evil imperialism in a desire not to submit to rulers.

This isn’t going to stop unless and until the structures that today’s Gramscian Left have captured – many universities, tax-funded arts bodies, the BBC, etc, must have their funds cut off, their staff fired, and the organisations forced to subsist on whatever private stipends they can obtain.

Meanwhile, the BBC has once again achieved the opposite of its intentions.

The choir

“For centuries, the cherubic faces of choirboys in white ruffs have been part of church culture”, said the Guardian. Whenever a news report begins by saying that a tradition has endured for centuries you know that tradition is about to die. Sure enough the story which I quote tells of the ending of that aspect of historical Anglican culture in one cathedral at least:

Decision to disband Sheffield cathedral choir strikes discordant note

But is this change progressive or not? The next line of the story lets the hard pressed Guardian reader know what attitude to take:

Choristers usually came from privileged backgrounds, were coached by expert music masters at fee-paying schools attached to cathedrals and churches, and performed exquisite choral music, often in Latin.

Some of that has changed. The first girls were admitted, at Salisbury cathedral, almost 30 years ago and choirs have become more diverse.

Now Sheffield cathedral is going a step further, disbanding its choir in order to make a “completely fresh start” with a new team of choristers that reflects and engages with a changing city.

The cathedral would pursue “a new model for Anglican choral life here, with a renewed ambition for engagement and inclusion”, said a statement on its website.

The population of Sheffield and the surrounding area was growing, getting younger and becoming more diverse. In recent years, the cathedral had welcomed refugees and supported people living on the streets, Bradley said.

“We need to be engaging with people who are part of this changing city. We believe strongly in equality and giving as many children as possible the opportunity to sing at the highest level.”

The appeal of church music was wide but was sometimes “presented in a way that can be seen as elitist”, Bradley said.

That was in late July. Since then this apparently obscure local story about the disbandment of one cathedral choir has been widely reported. These are just a few of many examples:

  • Why is Sheffield Cathedral’s choir being disbanded for ‘inclusivity’? – the Spectator
  • Sheffield Cathedral Choir disbanded in “complete fresh start” for music and diversity – the website of the radio station Classic FM
  • Dean defends disbanding of Sheffield Cathedral ChoirChurch Times
  • Sheffield Cathedral closes choir and looks for new one to reflect urban diversity – the Times
  • Diversity is no reason to scrap Sheffield’s cathedral choir – the Telegraph

    As some of those titles indicate, the decision to close down the Sheffield cathedral choir has angered people who have not been to church for years and would not normally much care for church music. Why has it resonated so widely? I think I know why, and the knowledge depresses me. Until a few months ago I would have said that the UK had done relatively well in promoting an inclusive, non-racial sense of patriotism in which immigrants were seen as “joining the team” and adding their culture to the indigenous culture rather than displacing it. The maiden speech of Kemi Badenoch, my MP, expressed this idea well. “I chose to make the United Kingdom my home”, she says, and speaks of the British Dream: “It is a land where a girl from Nigeria can move here aged sixteen, be accepted as British, and have the great honour of representing Saffron Walden”.

    But that ideal of inclusive patriotism is being eroded by decisions like this one. It is scarcely surprising that white British people begin to see diversity as a threat to their culture when they are told that a part of their culture that has gone on for centuries is to be abolished in the name of diversity.

  • Book news

    Andrew Doyle reports:

    Titania McGrath has written a book for children in order to teach them how to resist indoctrination and think exactly like her.

    Doyle has done more than anyone else to publicise how wokery is at least as much a posh white girl thing as a downtrodden ethnics thing. Discuss.

    Apparently there’s a chapter in it on Robin DiAngelo.

    The political purity spiral as experienced by the Instagram knitting community

    I cannot knit and I am not on Instagram, but as someone who sews and is into politics, I cannot think how I came to miss this article from Gavin Haynes when it came out in January of this year. After seeing it recommended on the UK Politics subreddit, I hastened to post it here:

    How knitters got knotted in a purity spiral

    Mr Haynes discusses purity spirals throughout history, then narrows his focus to a couple of examples from 2018/19:

    Our documentary analysed just two latter-day purity spirals — Instagram knitting culture and young adult novels. Both seemed perfectly-sized to be taken over — they were spaces big enough to have their own star system, yet small enough for the writ of a dominant group to hold.

    In each, a vast tapestry of what were effectively small businesses competed for attention online by fluidly mixing personal and professional brand. On social media, opinion, diary and sales often existed within the same posts. Each individual small business was uniquely vulnerable to being un-personed, ‘cancelled’. But, simultaneously, each could benefit enormously from taking on the status of thought leader — from becoming a node that directed moral traffic.

    To take the example of Instagram knitting: the unravelling began with a man called Nathan Taylor. Gay, living with HIV, nice as pie, Taylor started a hashtag aimed at promoting diversity in knitting, Diversknitty, to get people from different backgrounds to talk. And he did: the hashtag was a runaway hit, spawning over 17,000 posts.

    But over the following months, the conversation took on a more strident tone. The list of things considered problematic grew. The definition of racism began to take on the terms mandated by intersectional social justice ideology.

    The drama played out in the time-honoured way:

    Finally, just as the guillotine had eventually come for Robespierre, Nathan Taylor, who had founded the #Diversknitty movement, found himself at its sharp end.

    When Taylor tried to inject positivity back into Diversknitty, his moral authority burnt up inside minutes. A poem he’d written asking knitters to cool it (“With genuine SOLEM-KNITTY/I beg you, stop the enmity”) was in turn interpreted as a blatant act of white supremacy. When the mob finally came for him, he had a nervous breakdown. Yet even here, he was accused of malingering, his suicidal hospitalisation described online as a ‘white centring’ event.

    Gavin Haynes also made a half hour Radio Four documentary telling the same story. (A BBC iPlayer sign-in is required to listen.) I am about to listen to it now.

    VIDEO: Boris Johnson with two naked men

    No, this is not one of my clickbait headlines. The video is from 2000 and at 1:03 we see a younger, slimmer Boris express commendably libertarian views on the right to be naked in conversation with two people exercising that right.

    Sad to say, an older, fatter Boris has recently “ditched ‘libertarian’ position on obesity after coronavirus battle”, according to PoliticsHome.

    The Prime Minister is not the only one to cut a poor figure compared to his earlier self. His host on that trip to Glastonbury – for there it was that these events took place – was the singer and songwriter Billy Bragg. Bragg has always been a massive lefty, of course, but in that video from the turn of the millennium he came across as enjoying the exchange of political barbs with Johnson. In contrast, the Billy Bragg of a few days ago who wrote this miserable article in support of cancel culture in the Guardian comes across as an old man abasing himself before the cult of youth.

    Hey, let’s make it a three-way racial grudge match!

    “The purity of a revolution can last a fortnight”Jean Cocteau

    I thought from the start that most of the “solutions” the Black Lives Matter protesters demand would make the lives of black people worse, but (as with the Me Too movement before it), the BLM movement would never have got off the ground if there were not justifiable anger at real abuses.

    To fight real abuses is hard. It might require thought. It might require compromise. To fight images of dead men is much more exhilarating. Don’t worry, you still get to crack heads.

    The Leicester Mercury reports,

    Gandhi statue campaign ‘a distraction’ from Black Lives Matters – Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe

    Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe says a campaign to remove the statue of Mahatma Gandhi risks being a distraction to the Black Lives Matter movement.

    A 6,000 name petition is calling for the sculpture of the Indian leader and civil rights campaigner to be taken down from the plinth in Belgrave Road where it has stood since 2009.

    The petition was launched after a statue of Bristol slaver Edward Colston was toppled during a recent Black Lives Matters protest and dumped in the city’s harbour.

    The organisers of the Gandhi statue petition said he was a “fascist, racist and sexual predator” who brought “inconsolable suffering” to millions of people during the partition of India before his assassination in January 1948.

    That has enraged many people from the Indian community in Leicester East.

    You don’t say!

    Ms Webbe spoke out on the issue of the Gandhi statue after her predecessor as MP Keith Vaz arrived with city councillors and community volunteers to throw up a symbolic human ring around the piece of art.

    Mr Vaz, who stood down as an MP after more than 30 years representing his city constituency prior to December’s General Election, had vowed to “defend it personally”.

    Keep your eyes peeled

    Julius Caesar, Act III Scene III:

    CINNA THE POET: Truly, my name is Cinna.
    FIRST CITIZEN: Tear him to pieces; he’s a conspirator.
    CINNA THE POET: I am Cinna the poet, I am Cinna the poet.
    FOURTH CITIZEN: Tear him for his bad verses, tear him for his bad verses.
    CINNA THE POET: I am not Cinna the conspirator.
    FOURTH CITIZEN: It is no matter, his name’s Cinna; pluck but his name out of his heart, and turn him going.
    THIRD CITIZEN: Tear him, tear him! Come, brands ho! fire-brands: to Brutus’, to Cassius’; burn all: some to Decius’ house, and some to Casca’s; some to Ligarius’: away, go!

    The BBC reports:

    Sir Robert Peel statue removal calls ‘targeting wrong man’

    Anti-racism campaigners calling for the removal of statues of a former British prime minister have been accused of targeting the wrong man.

    There are several statues of Sir Robert Peel, who founded the modern police.

    But city leaders said people appeared to be confusing him with his father, of the same name, who opposed the abolition of slavery.

    In contrast the Robert Peel of the statue, to quote Wikipedia, “often started from a traditional Tory position in opposition to a measure, then reversed his stance and became the leader in supporting liberal legislation. This happened with the Test Act, Catholic Emancipation, the Reform Act, income tax and, most notably, the repeal of the Corn Laws.” He also, most pertinently, laid down the principles of policing by consent that many forces would do well to re-learn. Oh, and as Prime Minister he “supported William Wilberforce’s Anti-Slavery Bill wholeheartedly” against the opposition of many in his own party.

    So there you are. Two Robert Peels, father and son, same name but very different people. This whole statue-toppling thing is stupid but a little mix-up like that did not exceed the base level of stupidity. Easy mistake to make.

    The next bit, however…

    Despite acknowledging the mistaken identity, campaigners are still calling for the Leeds statue to go.

    […]

    Although organisers recognised they had initially referred to the wrong person, they said they wanted it removed because “we should not celebrate colonisers”.

    The petition states: “With the legitimacy of current policing in question, the history of policing, its origins in colonialism and its role in suppressing dissent deserves greater scrutiny.

    “Peel’s statue belongs in a museum, as part of an exhibition for others to learn about the history of British colonialism.”

    Edit: There are two petitions currently running on Change.org relating to different statues of Peel. The first is “Keep the Bradford Robert peel statue” and the second is “Keep the Sir Robert Peel statue in Picadilly Gardens”

    As the BBC article states, the petition to remove the statue of Peel in Leeds got its target number of signers. You can see it here.

    Peel created the London Metropolitan Police in 1829, the ideas for which he developed while overseeing the British colonial occupation of Ireland. He was pivotal in setting up the police forces which maintained British rule in Ireland and a system which led to the poverty, famine and displacement of Irish people. Colonialism and racism – in this case anti-catholic sentiment – are central to British history. Not only that but with the legitimacy of current policing in question, the history of policing, its origins in colonialism and its role in suppressing dissent deserves greater scrutiny.”

    That is an extract from the version they wrote after they were made aware that they had misidentified the Robert Peel depicted in the statue.

    Wokeness is toxic to show business. And yet…

    I am so over the Star Trek franchise. Star Trek, like Star Wars, is an intellectual zombie, a parody of when it was alive, before it was bitten and infected with a virus. Consign the wretched thing to history and move on, there are other new, fresh and genuinely engaging series out there.

    Wokeness murdered the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises, to wit the recent dreadful outing as ‘Picard‘.

    And yet, Tatiana Maslany’s tour de force ‘Orphan Black‘ (link: massive spoilers) demonstrated you can make a show Woke-as-fuck that is still clever and really innovative: I enjoyed it in spite of the Wokeness. Yet both Star Wars/Star Trek descended into badly made absurdities (I admit I stopped watching Star Wars anything after the execrable The Last Jedi).

    So was it ‘Wokeness’ per se that actually zombified those two franchises? Or the fact people got hired to make these expensive clusterfucks on the basis they were Woke, rather than actually being any good at, well, making shows?

    Discuss.

    What joining a union can do for you

    In Laurence Fox’s case, get you Officially Denounced – and then a payout for being denounced.

    In the midst of a pandemic, this story, comparatively trivial but not without consequences, may have passed you by.

    Laurence Fox is an actor and musician. Two months ago he caused rather a stir on the BBC political panel show Question Time. I posted about it here: Has the BBC stopped putting bromide in its actors’ tea?

    As I said in that post,

    The actors’ union Equity helped spread the story by calling on actors to “unequivocally denounce” their fellow. Yes, those exact words. Equity has now backtracked, but it went to prove Mr Fox’s point.

    In the end Equity had to do more than backtrack. On March 13th the Guardian reported,

    Equity apology to Laurence Fox sparks string of resignations.

    The entire race equality committee of Equity has resigned in protest after the actors’ union apologised on its behalf for criticising Laurence Fox’s views on race and paid an out-of-court settlement to the actor after he threatened to sue them for libel.

    I am sure they will be greatly missed.

    The former star of the detective drama Lewis also used his appearance on the BBC discussion show to insist it was “racist” for an audience member to call him “a white, privileged male”.

    “We’re the most tolerant, lovely country in Europe,” he said at the time. “It’s so easy to throw the card of racism at everybody and it’s really starting to get boring now.”

    In the aftermath of his appearance, minority representatives of the actors’ union made a series of accusations on Twitter against Fox, saying he wanted to “berate and bully women of colour attempting to discuss issues of race and gender discrimination”.

    Narrator’s voice: he didn’t really.

    On Friday, the actors’ union issued a carefully worded statement apologising for the comments, with sources saying a payment had been made to the actor: “We are sorry that in the tweets he was called a ‘disgrace’ by Equity. It was a mistake for Equity as an organisation to criticise him in this way. Nothing in Equity’s later statement was intended as a slur on his character or views, or to suggest that he should be denied the ability to work. We would like to make that clear. Equity and Laurence Fox condemn prejudice unequivocally in all its forms.”

    Daniel York Loh, the former chair of the race equality committee, said he and his eight other colleagues on the committee, elected by the union’s minority ethnic members, felt forced to resign as a result of the decision to apologise to the actor.

    I think that should read “as a result of the decision to apologise to their own member”.

    He tweeted: “Equity and La*rence F*x can issue as many joint statements and apologies as they like. It’s nothing to do with me and I apologise for nothing.”

    If Mr Loh says that Equity’s apology is nothing to do with him, I assume that means that he has not just resigned from the union’s race equality committee but from the union itself – which in practice would mean that he has resigned from being an actor. A principled decision indeed.

    Fox, a member of a well-known acting family, previously said he was concerned he would not be able to work following the intervention from the Equity race equality committee. A source close to Fox said a particular concern was its call for him to be “unequivocally denounced” for his comments on race, which could have reduced his ability to earn money from roles and make a living to enable him to look after his family.

    Having lost its race equality committee, Equity might like to see if it can manage without replacing this expensive luxury.

    Who is Dr. Li Wenliang?

    Seen on a wall in Prague earlier today. Powerful, because most of us do indeed know who Dr. Li Wenliang is, or rather… was.