We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

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

“People do not walk there if they can avoid it”

Emma Duncan has written a piece for the Times with which I ought to agree. It has the title “The city of billionaires is a vision of hell” and has the strapline “San Francisco shows what happens when rent controls are used to tackle a housing shortage”.

Her article starts with a vivid description of San Francisco’s woes:

… San Francisco and its environs have the highest density of billionaires on the planet. It is also the most visibly poor place of any I have been to outside India or South Africa, and the horrors on show hold lessons for London.

As Tom Knowles reported in The Times yesterday, there are more than 8,000 homeless men and women on the streets of what is, with a population of less than 900,000, a small city. Every time we stepped out of our city-centre hotel, we saw homeless people slumped on the pavements or wandering aimlessly. In the Tenderloin district, a formerly respectable area a quarter of a mile away, there are homeless encampments on most blocks and shit on the pavements. People do not walk there if they can avoid it.

In the four days we were there, I went into maybe ten shops. In three of them, homeless people walked in, took stuff and walked out. In Starbucks, for instance, a homeless man swept a lot of biscuits and chocolates from beside the till into a bag. I started to say something to try to stop him, then looked at the woman behind the till who shrugged her shoulders. I asked the manager how often this happened; he said seven or eight times a day. I asked him what he did about it; he said he filed “an incident report”.

My son said that the police have given up on property crime because they are short of resources, because this sort of crime is so common and because there is a certain sympathy for the perpetrators. We took two buses when I was there; on one of them, the man in the seat in front of us peed on the floor. My son said it was a regular occurrence.

It then offers two possible explanations:

When you talk to San Franciscans, many take the view that homeless people are sent there from cities whose welfare provision is less generous than California’s. That seems implausible, since there is little welfare on offer in San Francisco, and surveys of the homeless population show that the vast majority are local.

Those who have studied the problem say that the main explanation is the price of property. The tech industry is so big and well paid that demand for property has pushed prices to insane levels. Average rents are about twice what they are in London. To pay the rent on a one-bedroom flat in London you would need to work about 170 hours on the minimum wage; in San Francisco, you would need to work 300 hours. As rents rise, people get turfed out of their homes and end up on the streets; combine that with negligible health provision for the poor and you end up with a lot of mentally ill people on the streets.

The response to rising rents in San Francisco has been rent controls. Nearly half the homes in the city are now covered by them. But they have made the situation worse, not better, because they discourage people from letting out property and thus reduce supply, pushing house prices up further.

The Instapundit co-bloggers talk about San Francisco often. Though I would guess that none of them would be reluctant on ideological grounds to mention rent control as the main cause of San Francisco’s problems, as far as I recall they have usually cited the explanation that Emma Duncan rejects, namely over-generous welfare payments that act as a magnet to homeless people from other states. Beyond that they speak of general bad governance, often mentioning that the last Republican mayor of SF left office in 1964.

Of course both causes could be operating. If a single shop has homeless people walking in and openly stealing from it without fear of punishment seven or eight times a day, then bad governance most certainly is operating. But is that the cause or the symptom? My reasons for wanting a more precise diagnosis than “socialism sucks”* are not entirely disinterested. Rent controls are one of the most popular policies offered by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party. Apart from a few old fogeys who remember the deleterious effects of the Rent Acts, Brits love the idea of them. As Ms Duncan suggests, London may soon follow the example of San Francisco in re-introducing rent control. Lord knows the world is not short of examples that show this is a bad idea, but San Francisco might make that argument real to a British audience better than most places, as it is a city quite a lot of British people have visited recently and come away from with shit on their shoes. Do any American readers, particularly San Franciscans, have any observations to share?

*Two economists called Robert Lawson and Benjamin Powell, who seem to be more convivial than economists usually are, have written a book with this title that is currently nestling in my Kindle. My husband recommends it. He says it is about beer.

How we are saved from limiting ourselves

“First ads banned for contravening UK gender stereotyping rules”, reported the Guardian some days ago.

Two television ads, one featuring new dads bungling comically while looking after their babies and the other a woman sitting next to a pram, have become the first to be banned under new rules designed to reduce gender stereotyping.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the ads for Philadelphia cream cheese and Volkswagen, following complaints from the public that they perpetuated harmful stereotypes.

The new rules, introduced at the beginning of the year, ban the depiction of men and women engaged in gender-stereotypical activities to help stop “limiting how people see themselves and how others see them and the life decisions they take”.

… by limiting what they are permitted to see and making their life decisions for them.

Too Easy to Rebut the PC Ta-Nehisi / NYT

The long-suffering readers of this blog know that, like Bilbo Baggins, I occasionally inflict poetry upon you (in deference to this blog’s free speech convictions, I also allow the word ‘doggerel’ 🙂 ).

Whether this poem says anything my prose did not say, I leave to readers, but since Ta-Nehisi is being echoed by Democrat candidates, and the NYT is promising to write essay after essay “demonstrating that nearly everything that has made America exceptional grew out of slavery”, how can we avoid restating truths as they reiterate their lies? In pursuit of variety, I therefore offer as poem some thoughts mostly already expressed in prose. (If commenters know other ways of restating timeless truths to resist the fashionable lies of this time, by all means say.)

When white traders sought a profit in black endless tribal wars,
Where the winners sold the losers, pinioned in their slave collars,
Then the winners were the losers, left behind in Africa,
From the losers came the winners, free men in America.

If you thought that reparations were owed you by those you blame
Then the past you should have had, you would endeavour to reclaim –
Live with offspring of keen sellers, whence your captured forebears came,
Quit the nation that stopped buying, if you thought it owned the shame –

Since a man who claims repayment from a country where he’ll stay,
Clutching eagerly its passport (to live there, not go away),
Knows the winners don’t descend from those who won a tribal war;
He, descendant of the losers, knows he is today’s victor.

For we all have ancestors, and all have some who had it rough.
‘Fixing’ that would have no end, quite cause enough to say “Enough!”.
But to insolently claim repayment for great benefit,
When the losers are long dead, and in world terms you’re doing great,

When you say your country owes you yet remain its citizen,
Shows you don’t think you, today, inherit loss from way back then.
Better not repay your country with your self-indulgent hate,
But rejoice its negroes profit as it is again made great.

That it is in one way too easy to rebut these idiots – that the antifa woke mob have a power in their fists and in their administrators’ and media-friends’ fraud that they do not have in their heads – prompts me to write parables and poems to make it interesting. But since we believe diversity of thought is the only diversity of value, ‘too easy’ has its dangers – those words are not just in my title for the rhyme. But that must await my next poem.

Meanwhile (reverting to prose), the whole NYT Ta-Nehisian project is like observing that in the 1850s, while a majority of free U.S. blacks were literate and literacy passed easily from them to slaves, a majority of US slaves were not literate – at a time when the large majority of the world’s people were not literate. It is only because the US population was exceptionally literate for its time that one has any basis for complaint. And southern slaveowners worried about slave literacy only because, in the exceptional US, a literate slave might read that all men were endowed with inalienable rights – and then read a map showing routes northwards – which was not a danger in the unexceptional parts of the world.

(This is another of my “Less economy of truth, please” posts – maybe I should make a tag.)

Humanitarian Combat Fatigue

Recently I had the chance to talk to someone from a boat that had been in the mediterranean rescuing migrants – not one of the PC frauds that are the final stage of the people-smuggling operation, determined to land the ‘rescued’ in Europe or not at all, but just would-be humanitarian rescuers and returners.

What I was unprepared to learn about was something that sounded a bit like combat fatigue – the kind when a man says vehemently “I don’t want to talk about it”, and two hours later can’t stop talking about it. The people-smugglers pack them in, so the engine room is always crowded – maybe with those who did not pay or promise as much as others, maybe with those who were rashly eager, boarded first and got sent below, or maybe randomly. The ventilation is never adequate, and the people-smugglers never care, so typically half are dead by the time they are intercepted. I think the man who didn’t want to talk about it and couldn’t stop talking about it had cleared one too many such scenes – or maybe several too many.

Such accounts reinforce the impression I get from anecdotes on samizdata or elsewhere.

– Firstly, this is a commercial operation in which the people labelled ‘refugees’ are indeed really migrants but they are also more (or do I mean less?) than that. They are a commodity – a collaborating (and also pressured and deceived) commodity.

– Secondly, it is news to me if this aspect gets on the mainstream news. Is it just me (maybe it is – maybe I’ve missed watching counter-examples), or does mainstream media news consistently obscure this basic aspect of the migrant operation?

Climate change scientists starved of media coverage

According to the Independent they are, anyway.

The study showed climate change deniers were featured in nearly 50 per cent more media articles than expert scientists.

Naturally, the Indy cements its point by putting a video of renowned climate scientist Greta Thunberg at the top of the article. They also put up some graphs and, discussing them, can not quite bring themselves to use the study’s terminology of CCC (climate change contrarian) and talk about the non-existent CCD (climate change denier) data set. A testament to the Indy’s devotion to reporting accurately the true official expert view.

The Indy even gives us a lovely example:

For an example of how some media outlets mistreat environmental issues – Fox News had a debate about the Trump administration’s move to weaken the Endangered Species Act yesterday.

A former senior Interior Department official was defending the act, while a random editor from the conservative website Townhall was defending Trump.

One of those people is vastly more qualified to talk about the act than the other – Clue: It’s the one who worked for the government…

So not about climate change, and “worked for the government” is a synonym for “scientist” as far as the Indy is concerned, it would seem. Good work, guys.

As for the study, I am curious about how they selected the media outlets for comparison, but I have not yet looked. And I wonder what would happen if we measured media attention given to non-expert climate change alarmists?

In any case, even on the face of it the study does not quite show what the Indy thinks it shows:

Here we show via direct comparison that contrarians are featured in 49% more media articles than scientists. Yet when comparing visibility in mainstream media sources only, we observe just a 1% excess visibility, which objectively demonstrates the crowding out of professional mainstream sources by the proliferation of new media sources, many of which contribute to the production and consumption of climate change disinformation at scale.

I guess “crowding out of professional mainstream sources” is something the Indy would want to play down. Other than that it is the same old story: the peasants are revolting and the nobility are afraid.

Don’t let them have a double standard about their double standards

Recently, the Daily Mail told me what the Guardian chose not to – research in the tapes made by the FBI of Martin Luther King suggest they were more embarrassing than just those impertinent recordings of a man when intimate with his wife that the narrative assured us was all they were.

Of the truth or falsity of these new claims I will say nothing. Truth is the daughter of time, and I think it wise to keep an open mind for at least a little more time. The point of this post is different.

Although it’s been old news for years (these stories may revive it), there was a time when the narrative was very invested in assuring us that Robert Kennedy signed off on this bugging in all innocence. Poor Bobby just thought the bugging would prove that Dr King was not a communist sympathiser, and so discredit the racially-motivated rumours. How upset he was to realise – too late, alas – that racist J Edgar Hoover had used it otherwise. Like ex-KKK member the ultra-liberal senator Byrd, and that other Kennedy after his belatedly-reported car accident, Bobby got the absolution that all get who get with the PC programme.

Meanwhile, on the other side of this ledger, Dr King is now accused of joining the elite in enjoying the 60s sexual revolution in 1964, a few years before it was announced to us commoners – and, much more seriously, of being the accomplice in a rape. That is, it is claimed that very hard credible evidence exists of Dr King’s doing more determined and greater evil than Justice Kavanaugh was accused of doing without a shred of credible evidence.

Reacting to this, some have asked

Should we change the name on every school, park, and boulevard across the nation named after him as if he were the inverse of Robert E. Lee

Others quote a commenter to one of the early reports urging that when statues and street names are threatened by the PC, the name of Dr King can be mentioned

NOT in the spirit of “Whataboutism”, but in order to remind them that there is no incompatibility between celebrating the achievements of people in the past and acknowledging that those people had – as we all do – major flaws.

(“major flaws” reminded me of Laurie’s enraged “Rape is a ‘moral lapse’ !” response to the comedian’s – arguably lesser, as we eventually discover – guilt in Watchmen.)

To be fair, other names besides General Lee are being bandied about. Of Jefferson at least, there is both contemporary accusation (“He sold the offspring of his lusts at the block to swell his profits”, said Hamilton) and some later evidence (I do not know if the “him or his brother” aspect of the DNA evidence has been fully resolved); did Jefferson “tremble for my country when I think that God is just, that his justice will not sleep forever” because he had memories of which he was not proud? Of some others, we know only that on the old south’s plantations (where white control was strongest) between 1% and 2% of the babies born were of mixed race, which is one guide to the probabilities on either side of any debate about a given insufficiently-known individual. No doubt some master-slave sex was consensual – in a sense. Though the old south did not equal an Arab harem’s ability to give its occupants no alternatives and compelling motives, one does not have to OD on PC and MeToo to see what could be said about the limits of that sense – but one does have to OD on them not to see that the absence or presence of overt refusal and misery on the part of the woman says something important about the character of the man. If the tapes only showed Dr King anticipating the fashionable left-wing mores of the later 60s with women (over whom he had authority) who were overtly consensual, former admirers would not call it ‘nauseating’.

Of General Lee, I long ago said that I admired his character, but was glad his cause lost. Of Dr King (if this prove true) I will one day say that I’m glad his cause won but do not admire him – very much the reverse. And I will indeed not mention him with General Lee in any spirit of what-about-ism – because there would be a great gulf fixed between the characters of the two men. King would indeed be an inverse of Lee – inverse in cause and inverse in character, and those two the inverses of each other. Let’s have no new double-standard, like an adversity-qualified SAT score, about what makes a decent human being.

Or, as powerline remarks in passing,

For what it is worth, however, I think that American heroes like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant and Ronald Reagan were of far higher moral character than King.

Me too!

This is not yesterday’s post about the NHS killing several hundred people

Today’s post about the NHS killing several hundred people is quite different from yesterday’s and should not be confused with it. They have nothing in common except both being about times when the NHS killed several hundred people.

The Guardian reports,

Fresh criminal inquiry launched over Gosport hospital deaths

Police have launched a fresh inquiry into how 450 patients died over 14 years after being given dangerously high doses of painkillers at an NHS hospital that showed “a disregard for human life”.

Relatives of the victims hope the investigation – the fourth into one of the biggest scandals in NHS history – will finally lead to criminal charges being brought against staff involved in administering the drugs unnecessarily.

An independent inquiry last year into events at Gosport War Memorial hospital in Hampshire found 456 patients had their lives shortened as a result of being given opioids without medical reason between 1987 and 2001. Their deaths are the focus of the new police investigation.

Another 200 people “probably” received excessive doses of painkillers at the hospital between 1989 and 2000, it added.

However the Guardian does not report a little detail that the Times does:

A hospital doctor faces a new police investigation into the deaths of 456 patients who were given “dangerous” levels of powerful painkillers.

Last year an official inquiry concluded that Jane Barton, who was known as Dr Opiate, headed an “institutionalised regime” of prescribing the drugs without medical justification at Gosport War Memorial Hospital.

Patients considered a “nuisance” were allegedly given drugs on syringe drivers filled with opiates which killed them within days of their arrival at the hospital in Hampshire.

(An earlier post on Gosport can be found here: “If a nurse didn’t like you, you were a goner”.)

And they wonder why we do not trust the media

What Roger Scruton actually said in an interview with George Eaton, Deputy Editor of the New Statesman:

“I think there are difficulties around the corner that we are ignoring, like the rise of China. There is something quite frightening about the Chinese sort of mass politics and the regimentation of the ordinary being. I think that the… We invent robots, and they are in a sense creating robots out of their own people, by so constraining what can be done that each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that’s a very frightening thing. Maybe I don’t know enough about it to be confident in making that judgment but the politics is like that, and the foreign policy is like that. And the concentration camps have come back, largely there to “re-educate” the Muslims and so on.”

What George Eaton said that Roger Scruton had said:

“I think there are difficulties around the corner that we are ignoring, like the rise of China. There is something quite frightening about the Chinese sort of mass politics and the regimentation of the ordinary being. I think that the… We invent robots, and they are in a sense creating robots out of their own people, by so constraining what can be done that each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that’s a very frightening thing. Maybe I don’t know enough about it to be confident in making that judgment but the politics is like that, and the foreign policy is like that. And the concentration camps have come back, largely there to “re-educate” the Muslims and so on.”

What George Eaton did after this and other lies forensically detailed by Douglas Murray in the Spectator got Roger Scruton fired from his unpaid job advising the government on architecture:

Caption written to a now-deleted picture posted on Instagram by George Eaton,
Deputy Editor of the New Statesman, showing himself drinking champagne from the bottle:
“The feeling when you get right wing racist and homophobe Roger Scruton sacked as a Tory government adviser”

Some examples of promises that Remainer MPs made to get elected and then broke

At the height of the Watergate scandal Nixon’s press secretary was a man called Ronald L Zielgler. He became famous for declaring with a straight face that only his latest statement was “operative” and that all previous statements contradicting it were thus “inoperative”.

The following statements by prominent Remain-supporting MPs are all inoperative:

Heidi Allen

This is what the Right Honourable Heidi Allen MP promised to the voters of South Cambridgeshire to get them to adopt her as a candidate at her hustings in 2017:

This is democracy. We might not all like the result. I was a remainer, but the minute we start ignoring the democratic will of the people in this country we are slipping very quickly towards the sort of banana republic I don’t want to live in.

*

The referendum was a different kind of vote. It was a national question, it wasn’t a local one, and I know that probably the majority of people in this room tonight will think “well, we don’t want it”, but we can’t forget that this was a national vote. And I think it’s wrong for us as democratic leaders to be picking and choosing the results that we don’t like.

*

So quite frankly if I am re-elected as your MP, I am not going to waste time, precious time, resisting Brexit from happening. I’m going to grasp that opportunity, leverage that opportunity we have with every fibre of my being and make the best of it.

*

I think those that voted to Leave would think we were treating them as fools and that they were stupid and that we didn’t respect their views. So I think that a second referendum is not what we should be aiming for.

Heidi Allen is now the interim leader of the Change UK party, formerly known as The Independent Group and informally known as the Tiggers or CUKs, whose only significant policy is to force a second referendum.

I saw that speech on the video “Heidi Allen Hustings 2017 Best Bits” posted to YouTube by Tom Harwood. The video of Sarah Wollaston’s hustings linked to below was also posted by Mr Harwood. I thought it was very useful that he added subtitles to the videos, as that makes it easier to find and cite the most strikingly dishonest passages in the MPs’ speeches. By writing out the speeches and the contents of the election flyers and leaflets here in this Samizdata post I hope to make it still easier to spread the word of how these Remainer Members of Parliament are not to be trusted.

Nick Boles

This is what the Right Honourable Nick Boles MP said to the voters of Grantham and Stamford in an election leaflet:

60 SECOND Q&A
NICK BOLES

Q: How do we know you won’t betray us, if we elect you?

A: I will publish all my expense claims online and I will never claim for food or furniture or household goods. I think that MPs elected for one party should have to stand down and call a by-election if they defect to another party.

On 1st April 2019 Nick Boles resigned from the Conservative Party following the announcement of the results of the second round of indicative votes on exiting the European Union. He now describes himself as an Independent Progressive Conservative. His previous belief that defecting MPs should have to stand down fell by the wayside when the time came to apply it to himself.

That leaflet can be seen at the URL https://staging.electionleaflets.org/leaflets/full/58310/ uploaded to the site electionleaflets.org. The fact that by the standards he himself had proclaimed Boles had betrayed his constituents was highlighted by Guido Fawkes in this post. The post reminded me that when Mark Reckless and Douglas Carswell left the Conservatives for UKIP they both voluntarily resigned their seats and stood for election again under their new colours. Both were re-elected to their old seats.

Yvette Cooper

This is what the Right Honourable Yvette Cooper MP said on an election leaflet addressed to the voters of Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford to solicit their support in 2017:

Yvette Cooper MP
– Securing the best Brexit deal for the Five Towns
– I voted to trigger Article 50 in Parliament
– I want to reform freedom of movement
– I will not vote to block Brexit
– I want to secure the best deal for the Five Towns not just the cities

I took the picture of the Yvette Cooper election leaflet from a tweet by Paul Embery of the Firefighters’ Union.

Sarah Wollaston

This is what the Right Honourable Sarah Wollaston MP promised to the voters of Totnes in order to solicit their support at her hustings in 2017:

It was extraordinarily divisive, the referendum, and we need to move on from that. But what we must do, in my view, is accept the result, but now make sure that just because we are leaving the European Union, we are not leaving Europe. Taking all of the people within this constituency into account, this constituency voted by 54% to Leave. I think this is one of the things that annoys people is telling them that they didn’t know what they were voting for. That was the purpose of the referendum; we accept the result; we move on and make it as constructive as possible. There are real problems with how the Common Agricultural Policy has worked, and we have an opportunity now to redesign something that does more to protect Devon’s farmers and to look at how we balance that with protecting our environment.

A second referendum to take us out of the European Union: it is a direct incentive for us to get the worst possible deal. We have to go into this absolutely understanding that the principle here is that we respect the outcome of the referendum and I think it would be a huge mistake to go into this promising that I’d be prepared to vote to actually overturn the deal and send us back into Europe. We shouldn’t be going back and saying that we don’t accept the result of the referendum, I’m afraid.

From the video “Sarah Wollaston’s 2017 Husting Highlights” posted to YouTube by Tom Harwood.

On 20 February Sarah Wollaston resigned from the Conservatives and joined The Independent Group / Change UK. Wollaston’s pledge to respect the referendum thus joined in the inoperative bin her belief that MPs who cross the floor ought to face a mandatory by-election. As the Wikipedia article on Sarah Wollaston says she actually supported a Private Members bill to make this the law:

Call for mandatory by-elections for MPs switching parties

In March 2019 it emerged that Wollaston had supported a 2011 bill which required MPs who switch parties to face an automatic by-election. Wollaston herself switched parties on 20 February 2019, yet refused to let voters have a say on her switch. Chair of the Labour Party in Totnes and South Devon, Lynn Alderson, said Ms Wollaston “made her views clear”. Wollaston acknowledged the likely calls for her to face a by-election but refused such a proposal, stating “neither this nor a general election would answer the fundamental question that is dividing us”.

Broken promise on respecting result of EU Referendum

During her election hustings when campaigning for re-election at the 2017 General Election, Wollaston promised her constituents she would “accept the result” of the EU Membership Referendum, noting that 54% of her constituents had voted Leave. She went on to state that “one of the things that annoys people is telling them that they didn’t know what they were voting for” and completely rejected the idea of holding a second referendum. Wollaston later switched to the Independent Group, all the member of which oppose to respecting the result of the EU Referendum and committed to holding a second Referendum, therefore meaning Wollaston had broken all her election promises on the issue.

She falsely accused nine men of rape and six of sexual assault on four separate occasions but still the BBC puts scare quotes around the word ‘liar’.

Jemma Beale’s repeated lies caused an innocent man to spend two years in jail, and untold anxiety to many others. Part of Beale’s motive appears to have been to make her lover jealous, but she told a former girlfriend that she did it in order to get compensation money from the government. She was tried and convicted for her crimes and is now in jail.

You’d think that after all that her guilt would have been established beyond reasonable doubt. Yet with what strange new respect for the presumption of innocence (even after conviction!) does the BBC report her case:

Jemma Beale: Rape claim ‘liar’ loses conviction appeal

A “serial liar” who invented false rape and sexual assault allegations has failed in a bid to clear her name.

Jemma Beale, 27, from Hounslow, west London, was jailed for 10 years in August 2017 after claiming she was sexually assaulted by six men and raped by nine over the space of three years.

She challenged her convictions for perjury and perverting the course of justice and her sentence.

Her bid was rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal.

Beale’s lawyer Gillian Jones QC argued the trial judge should have given the jury directions about the “danger of assumptions, myths and stereotypes” relating to victims of sexual offences.

I agree with Beale’s lawyer. The trial judge should have warned about the danger of the currently fashionable assumption, myth and stereotype that “women never lie about rape”. Fortunately the jury saw through Beale anyway.

Deleted by the PC Media, and about time too

Matt Kilcoyne of the Adam Smith Institute writes,

The Guardian’s anti-Brexit fake news

An article, since deleted, made nonsense claims about the treatment of EU migrants.

and

When you try to find the article now you get a page that says it has been removed (rather amusingly, the related stories are eight other removed articles). The Guardian, unwilling to admit to its failures, claims that the piece was ‘taken down because it was found to have been based, in good faith, on outdated information’. This was after 16,000 people had shared it.

A cursory search of the soul

“France has an antisemitism problem – and not just from the gilets jaunes”, writes Cécile Guerin in the Guardian.

With a headline like that the obvious next question is where else is France’s anti-semitism coming from, besides the gilets jaunes?

France, like every nation in Christendom, has a long history of Christian hatred of Jews on religious grounds, which gradually morphed into the “traditional” anti-semitism of the far right, exemplified by Jean-Marie Le Pen. That tendency is by no means extinct. I had forgotten that despite his expulsion from the le Front National by his daughter, Le Pen père remains a serving Member of the European Parliament. But though it still has venom, that style of anti-semitism is clearly in decline and is not the source of the upsurge in recent years. So where is it coming from? To answer this question, it surely makes sense to look at the most serious manifestation of Jew-hatred: the murder of Jews. The following is a list of Jews who were killed for being Jews in France this century:

– In 2006 Ilan Halimi, 23, a Jewish mobile phone salesman, was kidnapped and tortured to death over a period of three weeks. The leader of the gang that killed him, Youssouf Fofana, arrived in court shouting, “Allah will be victorious”.

– In 2012 Mohammed Merah, shot and killed three French soldiers, two of whom were, like him, Muslims. He then moved on to the Ozar Hatorah Jewish day school in Toulouse. The Wikipedia article records that “Four people were killed at the school: 30-year-old Rabbi Jonathan (Yonatan) Sandler; his two oldest (out of three) children, Aryeh, aged 6, and Gabriel, aged 3; and eight-year-old Miriam Monsonego, daughter of the head teacher.” Merah said in a call to a TV station that the killings were done “to uphold the honour of Islam”.

– In 2015 Amedy Coulibaly, a supporter of ISIS and associate of the two brothers who had carried out the Charlie Hebdo massacre two days earlier, and who had himself killed a policewoman the previous day, entered a kosher supermarket in Paris and took hostages. He murdered four of them, all Jews. According to Wikipedia, “Coulibaly stated that he targeted the Jews at the Kosher grocery to defend Muslims, notably Palestinians”. It should be noted that during the seige a Muslim employee of the supermarket, Lassana Bathily, courageously hid people from Coulibaly in a cold storage room.

– In 2017 Sarah Halimi was killed by Kobili Traoré, a native of Mali “who shouted about religious ideas in Arabic during the murder”. One could argue that since her killer was not a French citizen her murder is not relevant to a discussion of French anti-semitism. But it is certainly relevant to anti-semitism in France, and by a cruel irony, Sarah Halimi was a relative of Ilan Halimi, the first entry on this list.

– In 2018 an 85 year old Holocaust survivor, Mireille Knolle, was murdered. The authorities have arrested Yacine Mihoub, a Muslim neighbour of Ms Knoll who she had known since he was a child and Alex Carrimbacus whom Mihoub had met in prison. Carrimbacus has claimed that Mihoub called out “Allah Akbar” after killing her.

My list was compiled from memory, backed up by the Wikipedia article on antisemitism in 21st century France. It may contain mistakes or omissions; if you see any please let me know in the comments. But whatever its deficiencies, it is doing better than the Guardian article on anti-semitism in France that I linked to at the start of this post. That has plenty about the far right and a little about the far left but omits mention of Islam entirely.

Cécile Guerin’s article ends with the words, “More soul-searching and longer-term solutions are needed”, but if she cannot bring herself to say the words “Islam” or “Muslim” in an article about French anti-semitism, when so far as I can judge every single anti-semitic murder in France during the 21st century had a Muslim as the sole or leading perpetrator and was proclaimed by the killers themselves to have been done in the name of Islam, then she is not serious about seeking a long term solution. Perhaps she should search her own soul a little harder.