Sunday, 1 February 2015

No comment

From the Telegraph & Argus, a newspaper in Bradford

Police seek man over derogatory Islam slurs on bus

Man sought over Islam slurs on bus
Man sought over Islam slurs on bus
Updated on  in News
POLICE wish to speak to this man (right) after derogatory comments about Islam were made on a bus.
The incident, described as a public order offence by police, allegedly happened on the 576 Halifax to Bradford bus, between 10pm and 10.20pm on Thursday, January 8.

Churchill did not give Romania to Stalin

The fiftieth anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill's death makes me repost this, which I first posted in 2012. I have been explaining that Great Britain did not ‘give away’ Romania at Yalta, which should be self-evident, throughout 16 years I have lived in Romania. I don’t think anyone was persuaded, but I can never see why Romanians can never see it.

On 9 October 1944, he and Eden were in Moscow, and that night they met Stalin in the Kremlin, without the Americans. Bargaining went on throughout the night. Churchill wrote on a scrap of paper that Stalin had a 90 percent "interest" in Romania, Britain a 90 percent "interest" in Greece, both Russia and Britain a 50 percent interest in Yugoslavia. When they got to Italy, Stalin ceded that country to Churchill. The crucial questions arose when the Ministers of Foreign Affairs discussed "percentages" in Eastern Europe. Molotov's proposals were that Russia should have a 75 percent interest in Hungary, 75 percent in Bulgaria, and 60 percent in Yugoslavia. This was Stalin's price for ceding Italy and Greece. Eden tried to haggle: Hungary 75/25, Bulgaria 80/20, but Yugoslavia 50/50. After lengthy bargaining they settled on an 80/20 division of interest between Russia and Britain in Bulgaria and Hungary, and a 50/50 division in Yugoslavia. 

I continually am told by Romanians that Churchill and Roosevelt gave away Romania to Communist Russia. They are talking about the infamous scrap of paper on which Churchill sought to divide Eastern Europe with Stalin into spheres of influence in 1944 and the agreement reached at the Yalta Conference between the Big Three (Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill) in 1945. In fact of course neither Churchill nor Yalta gave Russia a third of Europe. She won it by much blood and no-one could have prevented it, except possibly Germany.

There was nothing the UK or US could do to stop the USSR treating the countries it had occupied as it pleased. What difference did Yalta make? Had the Allies invaded the Balkans not Sicily things would have been very different. Had the Allies gone straight for Berlin, instead of liberating Paris, more of Germany would have been democratic. Likewise, the Allies could have liberated Prague but Yalta had no great significance.

Nor did the USSR adhere to the Yalta agreement which gave the UK 50% influence for example in Hungary and Yugoslavia. The late Tony Judt said in his great book 'Postwar':

"But Yalta actually mattered little...Nothing was decided at Yalta that had not already been agreed at Teheran or elsewhere. ...

..For by then Stalin scarcely needed Western permission to do whatever he wished in Eastern Europe, as the British at least understood perfectly well." 

Judt is a fine historian, but here he is merely stating the obvious. I can never see why Romanians can never see it.

No decision at Yalta could have helped Romania, only Stalin's good will. This good will or whim allowed Finland to be democratic, though allied to the USSR, but this was not a decision at Yalta. The West did begin the Cold War pretty quickly after V.E. Day. Some historians today argue that the Cold War was an overreaction and about expanding US power, but the US and UK can certainly not be accused of doing nothing.

Yes Churchill wanted to save what he could in the Balkans, not helped by FDR (FDR like George W. Bush was a Wilsonian who did not understand realpolitik). Only Greece was saved and after a long civil war, but Churchill had very little leverage. Luckily, Stalin who was a child of the 19th century seems to have thought it was unthinkable that Britain would allow Greece to go Communist and did curiously little to help the Greek Communists take power there in the civil war although that war was the proximate cause of the Truman Doctrine and the full-blown Cold War.

Nor did  Stalin seriously hope France or Italy would become Communist though this seemed possible in 1945 and he did not do much to help the Communists there. Unlike Hitler, Stalin was not bent on dominating Europe but on protecting his country from invasion. Nor was his successor Khrushchev and a missed opportunity was not agreeing to Khrushchev's plan in 1955 to unite and demilitarise Germany.

Views of of what Churchill and Roosevelt should have done in 1945 are coloured by what we know came later.  What happened long ago was once in the future. The last thing in 1945 the West wanted was another war or a cold war. Stalin was the one who made a huge strategic mistake in forcing Communism on the satellites, threatening Berlin and supporting the Communists in Korea (something he was manipulated into doing by Kim Il-sung). He thereby kept the US troops in Europe. With a disengaged USA and an impotent exhausted Britain he would have had a free hand in Europe.

Churchill's career ended in failure. He helped defeat Hitler to leave half Europe Communist and lived to see the end of Britain as an independent great power and the dissolution that he dreaded of the British Empire. In his last years as Prime Minister he wanted to prevent 'coloured immigration' into the UK yet presided over the beginning of multiracial Britain. At one of his last birthdays he told his daughters, 
'I have achieved a great deal to achieve nothing in the end.' 
As Enoch Powell said, 
'All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.'

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Archbishop of Canterbury talking piffle

The Archbishop of Canterbury is quoted today condemning sermons that preach 'claptrap' about being nicer to one another and saying the life of Jesus “challenges every assumption” about society. He went on,
He does not permit us to accept a society in which the weak are excluded – whether because of race, wealth, gender, ability, or sexuality.
Is that true? 

It all depends what you mean by exclusion, of course. I don't suppose anyone believes many people should be completely excluded from society, except people put in gaol. Some people were ostracised in ancient Greece, but I am not sure this punishment was necessarily un-Christian. I suppose some people behave in such a way that they are rightly or wrongly shunned by others. 

If exclusion means not respecting some groups of people, or not caring for them, or forgetting what Pope Pius XII, in words aimed at the Nazis, called solidarity 
"imposed by our common origin and by the equality of rational nature in all men" 
then it's clearly a bad thing. But I think exclusion is a weasel word, intended to smuggle in ideas that are not anything to do with Christianity. In first century Palestine, a very hierarchical society like all pre-modern societies, even the very poor had their place and there was very little exclusion, but I am not sure whether this kind of very unequal society commends itself to Archbishop Welby. By 'inclusion' he means something else, I think. 

In any case, I do not think one should attempt to turn Jesus into a feminist or supporter of homosexual rights. 

Jesus abolished divorce and condemned swearing oaths, but He was a first century rabbi and therefore He believed it was an abomination for a man to sleep with a man as with a woman. He did not preach a change in the position of women (or slaves, for that matter) in Jewish society - a Jewish society, by the way, that very much excluded Gentiles (goyim). Markedly too, He did not choose women as His disciples, nor of course Gentiles, in whom He showed limited interest, although He was moved by the centurion and preached the parable of the good Samaritan. Instead he was an exorcist who preached the coming end of the world.

I suppose capital punishment is the ultimate form of exclusion - people who are executed are thereby completely excluded from society and this sublunary life. Yet the Old Testament decrees death as the punishment for various crimes. I don't imagine that Jesus would have disapproved. If He did it is not recorded.

Jesus did say, however, that
My Kingdom is not of this world.
How odd, too, of the Archbishop to think that to oppose social exclusion on the grounds of race, gender or sexuality is 
to oppose every assumption about society.
Opposing these things is the ruling ideology, the default setting of society and enshrined in law, not counter-cultural in the least.

The last Archbishop of Canterbury was a clever man, whom I couldn't help liking, but this kind of stuff is ... well, claptrap.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Fifty years since Sir Winston Churchill died

Today is the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill's death. This saddens me because my father wanted to take me 
(I was just three) up to London to watch his funeral, but my mother dissuaded him, on the ground that I was too young.  He therefore went alone. My mother has been dead for more than ten years but I have never forgiven her. Why do women so often have completely the wrong priorities?

I love Churchill as a man, but I have very slowly changed my mind about him and 'Britain's Finest Hour' in 1940. I have finally come to the conclusion that it would probably have been better had we made peace after the Battle of Britain, as Alan Clark thought, and probably much better had we never declared war on Germany in 1939. I wrote about this here. Halifax, the Foreign Secretary, who wanted to discuss peace with Germany after the fall of France, was right to do so though he was the man who persuaded Chamberlain that a guarantee to Poland in 1939 was necessary. The Anglo-French guarantee was fatal for Poland and France and, I would argue, for Great Britain too.

Churchill was one of the greatest Englishmen (perhaps greater than his ancestor Marlborough or Wellington, because he was a great statesman as well as a great war leader) but, as he said himself shortly before he died, he achieved a great deal to achieve nothing at all. Looking back now, it is increasingly clear that by continuing the war with Germany in 1940 we threw away the British Empire and Britain's power in the world for fairly little gain. At the end of the war, in which seventy million died, we were in hock to the Americans and Communists ruled the half of Europe that Hitler had wanted to rule.

The story of how the Machiavellian Roosevelt mercilessly exploited Britain's vulnerable position makes sad reading.

In any case, without Britain's and America's help, I think Stalin would still have won the war, although no-one can be sure.

Romanians blame Churchill for the fact that Romania was conquered by Communist Russia. They are quite unfair. Britain could do nothing to prevent it, as I explain here. In fact I have been explaining this, something which should be self evident, throughout the time I have lived in Romania but am not sure if anyone was persuaded. One Romanian, who went to university in the USA, did however tell me that he did not understand why Romanians, who allied with Germany and were at war with Britain, felt the British had an obligation to them. 

If Romanians want someone to blame they might blame Marshal Antonescu. The wartime Romanian dictator, unlike Mannerheim of Finland, after reconquering the territories taken by Stalin in 1940 went on to occupy territory which had always been Russian. The historian Larry Watts believes that Antonescu was right, but I disagree. (He is also to blame for the slaughter of somewhere between 280,000 and 380,000 Jews.)

Had Britain been a non-belligerent in the war perhaps Romania might conceivably have kept out of it too, though it's not very likely. Interestingly, I have not heard any Romanian say that it would have been better for Romania had Germany won.

Today were he alive Churchill would be a great supporter of NATO, of Anglo-American friendship (the illusion of the Special Relationship, which Americans have never heard of) and of IsraelChurchill was a great supporter of the Jews in Palestine and, testifying in 1937 to the Royal Commission looking at the question, said
I do not admit… that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia… by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race… has come in and taken its place.
After 1945 Churchill wanted a United States of Europe. He did not at first want the UK to be part of it but in his last years supported Macmillan's application to join the E.E.C. 

If he were alive today I am sure that ending immigration would be his main political theme. In January 1955, a few months before he ceased to be Prime Minister, discussing the forthcoming general election, Churchill told the cabinet that
'Keep England white'
 would be a good campaign slogan.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Style - who and what has it

      I get enormous fun out of places with STYLE. Rabat and Tangier have it but Tunis doesn't and Dubai certainly doesn't. Odessa has it but the Baltic States do not. Split has it, Budapest I suppose, Madrid, Tbilisi. Expensive London has it, Aleppo had it alas, Havana despite the tourists has it
      The Island of Mozambique has it to overflowing, but now I am showing off. 

      France has it, more than anywhere else. Italy has it, but Greece doesn't. Brussels and Amsterdam don't have it at all nor anywhere in Germany except Berlin. Istanbul has it but you have to look in the working-class Fatih district. Bucharest had it before Communism and it still has it, in its own way, despite the new Old Town (which is anyway not so bad yet) and the satanic malls.

      Style is like an elephant. I recognise it immediately but can't define it. 

      The old restaurant TicTac near Cismigiu, a relic of the 1980s where Ion Laceanu sang each night, had it but the new ultra-expensive Diplomatic Club restaurant also has it in its way - a style I thought of in the early 2000s as 'PSD chic'. It goes with sports cars and beautiful brunettes. Casa Vernescu (old fashioned grand) and lots of cheap terraces had it. The old broken streets of the historic centre of Bucharest have it - but not when they are renovated. They are always renovated in ghastly style. Late 19th century hotels with ancient wrought-iron lifts had it before they were renovated. The old men playing chess in Cismigiu park have it and the House of the Writers housed in a magnificent shabby genteel villa.

      Arthur Balfour was the most stylish British Prime Minister and I was going to say the only one, but both Benjamin Disraeli and Churchill had style too in their idiosyncratic ways. I am not sure Shakespeare had style but Christopher Marlowe certainly did. Alexander Pope had it and Byron did when he wrote Don Juan. 
      Leslie Charteris had style, John Buchan a writer I hugely prefer didn't. 

      Brighton has A LOT of style, Southend-on-Sea, my native place, not a shred. Oxford and Cambridge have style, other English universities, well, never mind. Despite the liturgy and 1960s chasubles, Catholicism has style, especially Pope Benedict XVI. Since the Second Vatican Council, at least, Orthodoxy has more. Women priests do not have it, nor single-sex weddings.

      Wilde and Saki had it. The late Anita Ekberg had it to some extent, Doris Day didn't. Anna Chancellor has it, Diana Rigg had it, William Powell had it in spades in The Thin Man films. Raymond Chandler had so much it wasn't true, Dashiell Hammett didn't, despite writing the novel of The Thin Man. The English countryside has it. So does the Romanian countryside. I'm not sure the Irish countryside does, except the Mountains of Mourne.

      The place with least style I think I ever visited is the Hotel Carol Park, a six star hotel in Bucharest, but some other Romanian-owned 'good' hotels in Bucharest are little better.
      Indrei Ratiu very sweetly told me we had it. 

Saturday, 17 January 2015

A young boy thinks girls are genetically programmed for housework

Victor Beltran, a 12 year old boy, has won the Junior Masterchef competition in Spain but become notorious for saying, when contestants were asked to clean their stoves,
“My goodness, I’m surrounded by girls, and girls already know how to clean because of genetics.”
Rocío, a 12-year old girl, immediately warned him,
“Eh, eh, eh, watch what you say.”
He was then ordered to clean the entire kitchen as a punishment but his punishment has continued in the media. His mother was abjectly apologetic, the Spanish media mortified. 

How far things have changed since General Franco's day. The Generalissimo forbade married women to go out to work.

The Guardian, unsurprisingly, felt the story would appeal to its readers and you can read the article here. The comments under the article are fun, the ones that the Guardian moderator did not remove. I wonder what the ones that were removed said.

I liked this informative comment:

He couldn't be further from the truth
Women may enjoy cleaning more, but the average female's kitchen is about 5x more dangerous because they use the same wash cloth on multiple surfaces, generally spreading bacteria around, whereas men rely more on antibacterial products 
Also interesting to note a woman's handbag harbours more bacteria than a toilet
And the inevitable immediate response to this comment:
The Daily Mail? Nice choice. 
The comment on the Mail got 47 likes. On the internet, whenever anyone posts a link to or quotes the Daily Mail, the subject immediately changes from whatever was being discussed to the Mail. The Daily Mail is the sin eater of British life.

The Guardian readership inhabit their own time-space continuum, contiguous with but distinct from our world. The legendary editor of the Daily Telegraph (and model for William Boot in ScoopWilliam Deedes used to read the Guardian letters page each day for laughs but it has always frightened me.

Sexual and racial equality and homosexuality have taken the place of the sacred in Catholic Spain as much as everywhere else in Western Europe and the boy has gravely offended against this secular religion's fundamental tenets. Being only 12 mitigates the offence, but only partly.

Still the Guardian writer possibly felt slightly sorry for the boy, despite everything. She ends her story with his poignant words
“Everyone took it as if I were an adult, but I’m just a kid.”

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Freedom of speech lasted three days

French belief in freedom of speech lasted three days. Dieudonné M’bala M’bala a comedian was arrested in France on an accusation of being “an apologist for terrorism”, after saying on Facebook
 “Know that this evening, as far as I’m concerned, I’m feeling Charlie Coulibaly”. 
In other words instead of saying, as officially approved,
Je suis Charlie
he was combining Charlie Hebdo with the surname of the man who killed Jews in the kosher supermarket.
He could go to prison for up to seven years if found guilty.
The BBC says
What sophistry. Freedom of speech means the freedom to say what you like. It includes the freedom to offend. In fact, the freedom to offend people is another way of saying freedom of speech. Freedom to say inoffensive things isn't freedom at all. Obviously freedom of speech most certainly includes the freedom to express racist ideas and to make faulty historical judgments and to say it's repulsive to see men holding hands in public.
Under French law, however, you only have the freedoms the law gives you (in Britain you are free to do whatever you are not forbidden to do). And in France freedom of speech does not extend to incitement to hatred or racism, anti-Semitism or homophobia, etc.
I passionately believe the Armenian genocide happened and should be publicised, but everyone is entitled to say no it didn't. Except in France they are not. In France expressing this view is a crime. Muslims ask why their religion is less important than the Christians whom they massacred. The Muslims have a point.

Why can't people choose this moment to make a plea to legalise all manner of speech and go back to the freedom of speech people enjoyed in say 1990? That would be a fitting memorial to the people murdered. Though it would not please the French Arabs.
Actually, I am not sure whether the murdered journalists were always in favour of freedom of speech themselves. Like most people outside France I don't know too much about Charlie Hebdo but I know they were on the left and the magazine  petitioned the President of France to have the National Front banned as its ideals were incompatible with the Declaration of the Rights of Man. 

Incidentally, Charlie Hebdo does seem to have had a double standard when it comes to offending Jews and offending Muslims. The magazine fired a writer for an allegedly anti-Semitic column. He was prosecuted for the article which linked being Jewish with social success. On this point the founder of Charlie Hebdo agrees with me. He also blames the murdered editor for 'dragging the team to their deaths' by overdoing the provocative cartoons.

This story has revealed what is really sacred in Europe, in case we somehow had not known before. It's not God, not Christianity, nor of course Islam, and certainly not free speech either, but racial equality, along with sexual equality and homosexuality. In the USA, God and free speech precede equality.

Maurice Cowling was exactly right when he said
Secularisation so far from involving liberation from religion, has involved merely liberation from Christianity and the establishment in its place of a modern religion whose advocates so much assume its truth that they do not understand that it is a religion to which they are committed.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

French National Assembly spontaneously sings the Marseillaise

After a moment of silence to remember the victims of the people murdered in Paris, the French National Assembly yesterday broke into a spontaneous rendition of La Marseillaise, for the first time since the Germans surrendered on 11 November 1918.

I detest the French Republic and wish they would restore the monarchy. The Marseillaise is the song of one part of France, not of France. It was republican anticlerical ideals that made the cartoonists publish their cartoons, of course, for good or ill - mostly for ill. 

The words of the Marseillaise are about beheading anyone who doesn't go along with the ideals of the revolutionaries. The deputies sang this in protest against young men who killed people who offended their ideals.  

But this spontaneous singing is nevertheless very moving. Like the scene in the film, Casablanca. 

I hope the French wake up after these killings and tackle their Muslim problem, but they won't.

Monday, 12 January 2015

'Liberals', not Muslims, are the enemies of freedom

In France it is the government, not Muslim extremists, who prevent free speech and in the UK it is, of course, exactly the same story. 

Our old enemy the ideas of the French Revolution are behind the disgraceful Charlie Hebdo cartoons, but this does not mean murder is any less dreadful. This is an explanation of why the leaders of Europe are not interested in free speech - only free expression of liberal ideas. 

You can offend religion, or the religious. That is fine. But you cannot offend the secularists Gods of Equality and Diversity for instance.
Had Charlie Hebdo been anti Islam there deaths wouldn't have been mourned in the same way, but they published these things for republican (in the French anti-clerical sense of the word), liberal reasons. That's why the leaders turned out, not abstract belief in free speech. Imagine had the Le Pens been killed.

French satirists had demanded that Pegida (the German anti-Islam movement) should not commemorate their killed colleagues using their demonstrations. To ridicule Pegida, the satirists used a 80s-type bald, tattooed skinhead. The problem with that is that the caricature is pretty much off target: Pegida is a crowd of regular folks worrying about job security and the confrontation with novelty.

German officials forbade Pegida to use the Charlie Hebdo caricatures during their demonstrations. And one German minister demanded that the Pegida demonstrations should be forbidden. The irony is that during these demonstrations there was never any mockery or hate speech - organisers always demanded a respectful tone from their participants knowing they were being observed world wide. So much for the German government's commitment to free speech.

Meanwhile, a French police commissioner has reportedly killed himself after meeting relatives of a victim murdered in the Charlie Hebdo massacre. These very sad stories that reality writes. If it were in a novel you would throw the novel down and not pick it up again. Such grand guignol. I wonder why, when I was growing up, I thought the age I lived in was grey and dull. (But the 1960s and 1970s were grey and dull, even though a man landed on the moon and the Cold War divided the world into two.)

And the wife of the al-Qaeda man who mentored the Charlie Hebdo murderers is living on benefits in Leicester. She came to England with her children in search of a more "Islamic environment". 

Andrew Gilligan has a ghastly story about how many dangers Britian faces from Muslim extremists here.

A Syrian Facebook friend of mine, the daughter of a mixed marriage (Christian-Muslim, these almost always end in divorce in the Arab world), posted these moving words.

I am Iman, a Syrian citizen. I hereby declare to all, that I am against any form of terrorism, of any kind, likewise; I'm against any kind of sarcasm against ANY RELIGION. Those who killed the journalists in Charlie Hebdo are the same extremists who've been sabotaging my country for almost four years now under a fake goal that is called FREEDOM, and they have nothing to do with Islam, nor with any religion on earth, so let the whole world make an effort to demolish the devil, let the whole world rise against the enemies of God and all mankind. Blessed be my country and all our martyrs! Bless all Humanity!

'Fellini didn't make me famous. I made him famous.'

Anita Ekberg who died at the weekend aged 83 here makes a, to me, much more alluring sight than Ingrid Bergman. But de gustibus.... Or perhaps, de bustibus.

Ingrid Bergman hoped for a Nazi victory in the Second World War. I don't know if Miss Ekberg took sides in the war but Marcello Mastroianni said she reminded him of a German officer who arrested him. I think one can see something of that in her performances and her pictures.

I saw many years ago a television documentary about her in old age and she was a very sad, vain and self-absorbed old woman, of hideous aspect, who knew herself to be a star as exiled royalty knows itself to be royal. It reminded me of what Lytton Strachey said about the death of the egotist.
"While he is alive, he devours all the happiness about him,like a grub on a leaf; but when he goes, the spectacle la not exhilarating."
In Anita Ekberg's case she had ceased devouring happiness many years earlier, one saw. 

However, she was one of the most beautiful women who ever lived. This is important.

Neagu Djuvara: the killings in Paris are part of an inevitable Muslim conquest of Europe

The distinguished Romanian historian Neagu Djuvara, who is 98, said on Saturday that he believes that the recent murders in France are a step in a process by which Europe will be conquered by Muslims, who are taking a revenge for the conquest of Muslim lands by the European powers in the 19th century. There is now nothing that we can do, he says, to stop this process. 

Neagu Djuvara outlined his theory of the rise and fall of civilisations in 1975 in his Civilisations et lois historiques, Essai d'étude comparée des civilisations.

His bleak prognosis, for those who read Romanian (or for those who understand Google translate), is here. He thinks Europe will, in time, be ruled by Arabs and gypsies.

American hegemony, which kept world peace for so long, will not last much longer. Europeans lack ideals and have stopped having children. The West has thus created a vacuum which people from the Third World will fill. It is a universal law, he says, that civilisations burn themselves out and disappear.

I think that his points about immigration being about to transform Europe for the worse are right and that Western civilisation is in decline. What great writers, painters, artists or thinkers have appeared since 1950? None. I am not sure I believe in a Muslim conquest of Europe but it is possible. I am sure, however, that a war on Islam would be exactly what the extremists most want. As they wanted the Americans' reaction to September 11th. 

The German television station ZDF recently reported that half the population of Germany would be immigrant-descended in fifty years' time. A German Christian Democrat MP, one Martin Gillo, even apparently put this on his website (but then took it down).

“According to current calculations, people with an immigration background will be the majority of the [German] population as early as 2035. That is less than a generation… A new age begins in 2035! It will be an age when we ethnic Germans become a minority in our country. How will we be treated then? Friendly, courteously and as belonging to the “Future Germans”? Or will we be satisfied to at least be tolerated as a protected minority?”

But 2035 is a mistake on his part and much too soon. About 5% or 6% of the population of Germany are probably Muslims nowadays. 9.1% of all newborn babies in Germany had Muslim parents back in 2005.

I agree with Robert Reich who made made this point yesterday.
Few ideas are as wrong-headed and dangerous as the notions that the West is engaged in a "clash of civilisations" with the Muslim world, or that we are at "war" with radical Islam. The vast majority of Muslims are moderate, they have nothing to do with radical Islam, and they eschew violence. Radical Islam itself is not a unified force or a movement; it's a set of gangs manoeuvring for dominance over other gangs, and using violence mostly against other Muslims. But the extremists would like nothing better than for the West to embrace the notions of a clash of civilisations, or a "war" against a coherent organisation, because these ideas give them legitimacy, enhance their appearance of power, and give them more resources and recruits.

Did we learn nothing from the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq?

Muslim extremists represent a fifth column in Europe, a huge danger and a strong argument that mass immigration into Western Europe was not a good idea. However, nothing could be more disastrous than a situation where most Muslims in Western Europe resent the governments which rule them and the non-Muslims around them.  This development is possible, is what the bad men want and must be avoided at almost all costs.

At the same time, we should reduce immigration into Europe from the developing world to a trickle, otherwise indigenous Europeans will in time, perhaps in less than a century, become a minority in Europe.

Long live freedom of speech

President Iohannis is not the most powerful but he is the tallest.

It's wonderful to see Western European leaders claiming to believe in free speech, but their countries have restricted free speech in ways absolutely unimaginable in the 1970s or 1980s. Even though back then we were fighting a cold war against Communists.

I would not necessarily mind cartoons like the on in Charlie Hebdo being illegal - that seems akin to hard porn being illegal, which I think right. This would help prevent Muslim disaffection. (Yet why must we change our laws because of Muslims, when we do not care about protecting Hinduism or Christianity?) What worries me more are all the other things that it is illegal to say in the UK and France. A man on Twitter said he hoped a footballer would die and went to gaol for two months. Other people get arrested for quoting Churchill on Islam or the bible on homosexuality. Etc, etc, etc, etc.

These leaders by their immigration policies are also, of course, making European countries into mosaics of ethnic and religious groups. This, I imagine, will lead to more conflict. But Peter Sutherland, the Southern Irish former EU commissioner and former head of GATT, would not agree. Speaking for many powerful Eurocrats he told a sub-committee of the British House of Lords Home Affairs Committee that 

"...The United States, or Australia and New Zealand, are migrant societies and therefore they accommodate more readily those from other backgrounds than we do ourselves, who still nurse a sense of our homogeneity and difference from others. And that's precisely what the European Union, in my view, should be doing its best to undermine."

What we need of course is what De Gaulle wanted: a Europe of countries. He and Churchill were they alive today would spend all their time arguing for restrictions on immigration.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

In praise of hot baths

Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cures for depression.

So said Dodie Smith in that wonderful book,  I Capture the Castle, but I think she was talking about feeling low, not about depression. 

On the net I just came across hot baths described as liquid psychotherapy, which makes me feel I should not rush them so fast. I have some back problems after going around Europe with heavy baggage and I find somewhere else on the net that tells me that hot baths not ice are the best treatment. How nice to know.

In any case baths are wonderful. Sir John Betjeman made fun of them though, in 'Business Girls':

From the geyser ventilators
Autumn winds are blowing down
On a thousand business women
Having baths in Camden Town

Waste pipes chuckle into runnels,
Steam's escaping here and there,
Morning trains through Camden cutting
Shake the Crescent and the Square.

Early nip of changeful autumn,
Dahlias glimpsed through garden doors,
At the back precarious bathrooms
Jutting out from upper floors;

And behind their frail partitions
Business women lie and soak,
Seeing through the draughty skylight
Flying clouds and railway smoke.

Rest you there, poor unbelov'd ones,
Lap your loneliness in heat.
All too soon the tiny breakfast,
Trolley-bus and windy street!

Baths I realise are zen and about finding calm. If, as Gibbon said, solitude is the school of genius calm is too - and hot baths the mothers of many deep thoughts. One of the very few blogs I actually read, Zen Habits, agrees, though I have no wish to have bubble baths or a subsequent cold shower.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

What people are saying about the killings in Paris

An interesting short piece in the Telegraph suggests that the extremists want to provoke conflict between Muslims and non-Europeans. I am not sure if these killers in Paris had any thought-out ideas like that, but his is exactly what happened after September 11th. The reaction to that was utterly disastrous for the West and a huge victory for the Muslim zealots.

On the other hand after innocent people were killed in the tube in London there was almost no reaction and people kept wringing their hands about something called Islamophobia.

Charles Moore is characteristically insightful here but he has no solution to the Muslim question.

Max Hastings, in this article, takes the opportunity to argue for more investment in the secret services and to attack Wikileaks. He is right, obviously, about Wikileaks. I agreed too with this.

Instead of spending £30 billion on replacing Trident, as the Government plans, we would do better to use a fraction of that money to start defending ourselves against cyber-attack, a much more real threat, and one against which we are currently almost naked.
And this.
Professor Sir Michael Howard makes an important point: we in the West like to delude ourselves that most of the world wants to share the cultural freedom we cherish... 
Michael Howard notes that fundamentalist Muslims feel a much stronger attachment to their tribe or sect than to any nation state. Jihadism, he says, represents a response to ‘the challenge of a secular, urban civilisation that threatens to destroy their traditional values and beliefs’.
Bill Maher, whoever he is, thinks most Muslims sympathise with the killings. An interesting half-truth.

This blogger argues that Islam is a fine religion but simply not compatible with Western civilisation because it is organised around a completely different system of rules, sharia.

It is about religion but it's also about race and class of course, inevitably - especially about race. 
This screed is interesting and scary for what it tells you about how many think.
White people don’t like to admit it, but those cartoons upheld their prejudice, their racism, their political supremacy, and cut it how you will — images like that upheld a political order built on discrimination. 
A former French Minister of Arab origin says here that 
‘There is no such thing as moderate Islam.’ 
I came across this written by a Muslim:
I have not condoned the attacks even once. But the victims were hatemongers who celebrated other people's murder, spread racism and intolerance. Don't ask me to mourn them simply because they were murdered and they were European. Nor am I against freedom of expression but I'm not joining a racist narrative which depicts me and my co-religionists as backward people who need to be civilized by the white man nor am I going to support the uncivilized and immature notion that people should have the right to abuse and insult others. 
Interestingly enough, the journalists were in fact left-wing anti-racists, believers in diversity, who hated 'hate speech'. Which is why I saw one fascist taking pleasure in their murder. 

Another devout Muslim shared on Facebook this list of assassinations ordered, or approved of, by Muhammed.

Rupert Murdoch tweeted these thoughts:
Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible. 

Big jihadist danger looming everywhere from Philippines to Africa to Europe to US. Political correctness makes for denial and hypocrisy.
He was very much criticised, which does not argue that people have had a change of heart regarding Islam since these murders.

I liked this tweet.  

Although, wasn't the policeman just defending people, not a right of free speech? Nor do I like the suggestion that the journalists are to blame in part, although I disagree with the publication of the cartoons.

What do I think? I think Muslims do not allow their religion to be insulted. We now have many Muslims in Western Europe and centuries of problems lie ahead. 

I hate (well, dislike) hate speech laws but I also hate people desecrating what other religions consider sacred. I very much hate kowtowing to murderers and, if I am honest, I dislike the way Islam is becoming an increasingly important part of Western European life, but it is inevitable.

The very people who are passionate for free speech today are the very ones who want to curtail it, as Norman Tebbit points out here. So does Sean Gabb here in an apocalyptic piece. 

I do not think things will necessarily end either in an all-out racial war or in Muslims ruling Europe, as Dr. Gabb does and as the great Romanian historian Neagu Djuvara does, though diversity and a mosaic of ethnic minorities will surely lead to some kind of war at some point. It already has. Things will end, in the short term, in a Europe which is no longer nominally Christian or very socially cohesive and in the medium term in one dominated by people whose families moved here from other continents. European national cultures will absorb and be altered by the cultures of the incomers. Islam will provoke conflicts, grave conflicts, much violence. I imagine the state will be very powerful, since nations as cohesive communities will be weak, but no-one can see more than a couple of generations ahead at the very most.

However it will be interesting to see what long-term effect these killings will have. Because the dead are journalists it might have a real effect on people's thinking. Or it might be quickly forgotten. I suspect it will be the latter. I doubt if it will change immigration policy which is what will decide the future of Europe.

The same horrified people who are adopting the slogan, "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie") are saying that the Pegida march in Dresden a couple of days ago against the Islamisation of Europe was racist. These nice people's belief in freedom of speech is nuanced. Some of them want the anti-Muslim gadfly Wilders to go to gaol for his remarks about Moroccans.

The EDL people, who marched for fifteen minutes to protest against the beheading of Drummer Rigby in Woolwich, were widely reviled in the UK. You would almost have thought that the EDL were marching in support of the murder, to judge by the reaction. People seemed angrier with them than the man who did the beheading.  Some people put the murder of poor Rigby into the 'context' of Britain's wars. No-one seemed to want to put the (non-violent) demonstrators into context.

This is only partly about Islam and, at one level, more a crime story about three losers attracted by violence. Many people in this story behaved with great manliness. Some of the heroes were Muslims, like the policeman who was shot dead and the worker in the Jewish grocery who saved a customer's life. In so far as it has a lesson about Islam in Europe it is that most Muslims are excellent citizens and Islam should be treated with absolute respect. However, Muslims should be treated firmly, Europe should not adapt to sharia law and immigration from outside Europe into Europe should be very sharply curtailed, or even ended.

But even this modest proposal will not be acceptable.

Three quotations that I just came across

As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind - every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder.  John Glenn

Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets. Napoleon Bonaparte

Lenin is a gifted man who has all the qualities of a leader, including these essential ones: lack of morality and a merciless, lordly harshness towards the lives of the masses. As long as I can, I will repeat to the Russian proletariat: “You are being led to destruction, you are being used as material in an inhuman experiment; to your leaders, you are not human." Maxim Gorky