Monday, 20 April 2015

We must stop people drowning by refusing to accept any asylum seekers

Katie Hopkins
A woman friend once told me that the secret of being a bitch is to tell the truth in the nastiest possible way. In Fleet St a succession of women journalists have been paid to be complete bitches, because male and especially female readers enjoy it. It's probably a mildly sado-masochistic sex game. One female TV reviewer, but I forget who, had the by-line The Bitch on the Box. Julie Burchill was very good at it in the 1980s. Before her, for my mother's generation, Linda Lee Potter in The Daily Mail and Jean Rook in the Express did the job. Jean Rook was the original of Private Eye's Glenda Slagg.

If they are right-wing it's all the more fun. Left-wing and bitchy simply don't go. In America it's Ann Coulter and now in England someone called Katie Hopkins writes for the Sun.

On Saturday she published an article in the Sun on why Italy and the EU should not accept boat people from Libya. It understandably caused a huge stir, which was its purpose. Even a contrarian like I could not forbear to raise an eyebrow. She certainly told the truth in the nastiest possible way.
NO, I don’t care. Show me pictures of coffins, show me bodies floating in water, play violins and show me skinny people looking sad.
I still don’t care.....
Make no mistake, these migrants are like cockroaches. They might look a bit “Bob Geldof’s Ethiopia circa 1984”, but they are built to survive a nuclear bomb. They are survivors.....
It’s time to get Australian. Bring on the gunships, force migrants back to their shores and burn the boats.
It's worth noting that she compared refugees to cockroaches in terms of how hard it is to get rid of them, rather than in respect of any other qualities that cockroaches have, and she wants gunboats to deter them not to shoot their boats down and drown them. She intended people to misunderstand her, however, and people wanted very much to misunderstand her and did so. 

So everyone was happy. Perhaps the narrow area of what is acceptable discourse about immigration has been broadened but that remains to be seen.

Then 700 poor refugees were reported drowned when a boat they were travelling on sank.

The admirable Ed West in the Spectator, who disapproved of Miss Hopkin's 'dehumanising' remarks, makes the point that I should like to make. I could not put it better.
There are just two policies that would stop people drowning: open borders, with assistance from EU navies, or automatically returning all illegal migrants to their homeland. (For example, no one drowns trying to reach Singapore, because there is no point – you just get sent back.)
This is the point. The only point.

Ed West aptly quotes an excellent recent piece in the Spectator by James Bartholomew about the purpose of hatred for the Daily Mail and Ukip.
It’s noticeable how often virtue signalling consists of saying you hate things. It is camouflage. The emphasis on hate distracts from the fact you are really saying how good you are. If you were frank and said, ‘I care about the environment more than most people do’ or ‘I care about the poor more than others’, your vanity and self-aggrandisement would be obvious, as it is with Whole Foods. Anger and outrage disguise your boastfulness.’In fact only stopping taking refugees and sending gunboats to turn boats back will prevent further deaths.
Hating Margaret Thatcher and the Sun performed a similar function in the 1980s, as older readers will recall.

But let's be very clear. Katie Hopkins, unlike her critics, is offering a proposal to save the refugees' lives. 

Her solution is, of course, the right one. Regrettably, harsh though it may sound, the European Union has urgently to stop accepting refugees from outside Europe and resile from the the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, in order to save refugees' lives and in order to save Europe from what is in effect an invasion. A British admiral made this point back in 2006. This invasion of refugees is a far bigger threat than Russia. Leaving the UN Convention, which was agreed in an utterly different world, would do more good than renewing Trident.

But are there any politicians brave enough to say this, except the far right?  Winston Churchill would have agreed with every word of Katie Hopkins's piece, but he would nowadays be beyond the pale.

The solution is not necessarily to force the refugees back. We can pay African countries to take them. This is much cheaper than housing them in Europe. It is a principle widely accepted by organisations that take refugees that they are best given refuge in countries close to their own. 

We could subsidise Chad or Mali to take Libyans. I suspect that most refugees would prefer to stay in Libya.

If we don't do something like this, the time will come when people will be moving countries to seek asylum from asylum seekers.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Calling things by their names

I wish employment law were still called master and servant law. 

Once the relationship between master and servant was considered one that conferred obligations on both but the French revolution started a change in thinking which led to paternalistic masters becoming employers, a purely legal, mostly commercial bond and slowly the idea of hierarchy give way to the idea that Jack's as good as his master.

I'd rather like mental health law still to be called the law of lunacy. A fat Victorian tome called 'The Law of Lunacy' sat in my room in my first job. 

The world was in many ways saner in Queen Victoria's day, when things were called by their names.

The Mar Mattai monastery five years later: Christianity is being extinguished in the Middle East

I was in the beautiful Assyrian monastery of Saint Matthew's (Mar Mattai in Syriac) in 2010, overlooking the plain of Nineveh. In those days Kurdish Iraq was the place along with Syria where Christians were safe.

Mar Mattai dates from 363 and was founded by a hermit fleeing from Julian the Apostate. Some parts of the nave of the church are very old indeed, though what you can see is late 19th century. The monk I spoke to there, of course, said that Saddam was a good friend to Christians. How could he not? The monk also told me that one of the departing Jews in the 1970s told him 'It is the turn of the Saturday people now but it will be the Sunday people later.' 

When we arrived there were three large coaches parked in the forecourt and I feared we were not the only foreign tourists, but I found that the coaches had brought pilgrims from Erbil. Now no pilgrims dare visit and only six monks are left. Jane Corbin has been there for the BBC and wrote this very depressing report. Her broadcast can be watched in the UK on the net.

Damn Mr Bush and Mr Blair. (Damn Mr. Cameron and Mr. Sarkozy too for overthrowing Colonel Gaddafi.) Swearing relieves my feelings but now we have to do what we can against IS. 

Exorcism and Christianity

Jesus was an itinerant exorcist. If you don't believe in exorcism, you don't believe in Christianity. Modern man prefers, understandably, to ignore this.

However, Pope Francis talks a lot about the devil and exorcisms are becoming more frequent, according to this interesting article in The Independent, by a writer I don't like, Peter Stanford.
It all comes down to our modern tendency to cherry pick the bits of Christianity that we like. Thumbs up to quoting Jesus, in the gospels, when he calls for a fairer, more loving society, but close your eyes when, in exorcist mode, he drives out evil spirits from the sick and afflicted. One is deemed real, the other, at best, symbolic. Yet for centuries the Devil was anything but a symbol. Priests would routinely deal with all manner of problems in their congregations by pronouncing the rite of exorcism, summoning out the terrifying reality of the Devil, confronting him with the crucifix, and applying holy water, salt and clouds of incense lavishly.
Modern man, and this includes bishops, likes Jesus when, in the gospels, he calls for a fairer society, but did he call for a fairer society? Not fairer in the sense modern politicians understand. 

Jesus also speaks often of hell and damnation. In the words of Henri De Montherlant,
Many are called but few are chosen, but devout Christians think this is the rhetoric of Jesus Christ.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Thoughts from 1000 miles and 16 years away on the British general election

People should be not be encouraged to vote but discouraged from voting - the most intelligent vote without encouragement.

We learnt yesterday that Labour leader Ed Miliband's nanny uses his second kitchen, which is fine. Nothing wrong with having staff. I remember Roy Jenkins' ex- miner father kept a maid. I'd like Ed much more if he wore white tie every night, as one duke did who died in the 1980s even when dining alone. (Northumberland?)

To put into context the them and us policies of the Labour Party the top 2% of earners in the UK pay 25% of the tax burden and the top 50% pay almost 90% of the income tax bill.

I see little chance of UK leaving EU. ‪UKIP‬ is actually boosting support for EU.

The most important issue facing Britain and Europe, now and for the next century, is mass migration, which has already started to transform Europe but is only getting underway. I hope that UKIP is enabling the case for sharply restricting immigration to become respectable, but this remains to be seen. 

Unlike UKIP I think the issue of immigration within Europe is impossible to tackle, even if the UK did leave the EU. By the time we did so everyone who wanted to move to the UK from the EU would have done so. They largely already have. In some respects Europe is already becoming one country.

Immigration from the poor world to Europe is a separate and much more important question. Almost 11,000 asylum seekers arrived on the Italian coast from Libya in the last few days, including fifteen  Muslims who were arrested on reaching land for throwing twelve fellow passengers overboard -- drowning them -- because they were Christians. Of course this points to the tragic mistake David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy made of overthrowing Gaddafi, but also makes the practical point that asylum seekers are certainly not always benign. This mass migration of peoples is not a fait accompli but just beginning.

Five wonderful quotations

"Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits."
Robert Louis Stevenson

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back—
Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
Begin it now."

“The Church says: the body is a sin.
Science says: the body is a machine.
Advertising says: The body is a business.
The Body says: I am a fiesta.”
Eduardo Galeano, who has died.

"In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves... self-discipline with all of them came first." 

Harry S.Truman

“Only one offence is now vigorously punished,—an accurate observance of our fathers’ traditions."
St. Basil on the Arian schism

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Asylum seekers are transforming Europe

The number of asylum-seekers entering Germany rose last year by nearly 60 per cent to 175,000. 

Some are Islamists, some will be terrorists. 

Unfortunately, harsh though this may sound to you, gentle reader, I am afraid that Germany and the whole EU should stop accepting any asylum seekers, except ones from Europe. It is widely agreed by organisations that help asylum seekers that it is best if refugees are given asylum by countries close to the one they are fleeing. I think we should let the UAE or Saudi Arabia take refugees from nearby states. 

No one can know which countries in the next century will produce large numbers of refugees but it seems sure that very many will be Muslim and it seems sure that increasing numbers of Third World immigrants and in particular Muslims in Europe - and Muslim majorities in many big cities - will alter Europe in ways in which the present inhabitants of the continent do not desire.

A British historian told me last week that, thanks to immigration,‬ Europe is like the Germanwings plane being flown by Andreas Lubitz. 

Freedom is so last century

A New York yellow cabbie is facing $15,000 in fines for ordering two female passengers to stop kissing. It used to be the law not so long ago that London cabbies had to permit smoking in their cabs, a law that went back centuries. Kissing seems very reasonable between people of the opposite sex in London cabs where the driver is partitioned off but this cabbie had a no kissing policy. Meanwhile a cabbie who killed a 9-year-old boy as he held his dad's hand in a Manhattan crosswalk was fined $580.

In Scotland a Rangers fan who was arrested for sectarian singing while on his way to attend a game against Celtic has been jailed for four months.The sheriff described the words to the song as "inflammatory" an said it "could have led to horrendous violence".

Another man, Alexander Blood, from Saltford in Somerset, was given a community payback order after admitting acting in a racially aggravated manner.
Blood swore at police officers and called them "Jock".

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Genius and childhood

"Genius is no more than childhood recaptured at will, childhood equipped now with man’s physical means to express itself, and with the analytical mind that enables it to bring order into the sum of experience, involuntarily amassed." 

Charles Baudelaire

"Creativity represents a miraculous coming together of the uninhibited energy of the child with its apparent opposite and enemy, the sense of order imposed on the disciplined adult intelligence."
Norman Podhoretz

"Happy is he who still loves something he loved in the nursery: He has not been broken in two by time; he is not two men, but one, and he has saved not only his soul but his life." G.K. Chesterton

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." 
Pablo Picasso

"One must ask children and birds how cherries and strawberries taste." 
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"A little boy sees and hears birds with delight.

Then his “good father” comes along and feels he should “share” the experience and help his son “develop.” He says: “That’s a jay, and this is a sparrow.”

The moment the little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing. He has to see and hear them the way that his father wants him to.

Father has good reasons on his side, since few people can afford to go through life listening to the birds sing, and the sooner the little boy starts his “education” the better. Maybe he will be an ornithologist when he grows up.

A few people, however, can still see and hear in the old way. But most of the members of the human race have lost the capacity to be painters, poets, or musicians, and are not left the option of seeing and hearing directly even if they can afford to; they must get it secondhand.

The recovery of this ability is called “awareness.”

Eric Berne

Time management advice by Jung

If you always do the next thing that needs to be done, you will go most safely and sure-footedly along the path prescribed by your unconscious. Then it is naturally no help at all to speculate about how you ought to live. … you cannot know it, but quietly do the next and most necessary thing. 
Carl Jung

Friday, 3 April 2015

Who are the best prose writers in English?

A friend of mine and I have just exchanged these mails. He wrote first.

Sat at home, sombre, listening to St Matthew's Passion. Thought some more about the best prose writers I can think of. 

Amis - Kingsley and Martin. Martin brilliant, complex, sometimes convoluted. Kingsley polished. 
Waugh - often brilliant and economical writing. 
Hitchens - very consistent, punchy, funny. His brother also good. 
Rana Dasgupta - superb long form journalist, wrote a brilliant essay on the ills of modern Delhi 
Jonathan Sumption - his books on 100 years war are exquisite although he sometimes meticulous to the point of dull. 
Russell Brand - ignore his Revolution twaddle. His autobiography is one of the funniest books I've read and he sets the scenes of his misdemeanours superbly. 
Kenneth Tynan - brilliant, funny, uninhibited.

My reply:

I forget it's Holy Week. Of course I should have listened to the Bach Passions. It doesn’t help that everyone here thinks Easter is in ten days’ time.

I would rate Jeremy Taylor very high but I brought Holy Living with me when I came here in 1998 and only dipped into it. The King James Bible is better if that counts. Robert Burton is fun.  I never quite went loopy about Sir Thomas Browne but he is good - all the early 17th century writers wrote great prose. And I love of course John Aubrey's unfinished Brief Lives that had he finished it would have lost much of its charm.

I must read Coleridge's prose. I am atrociously badly read in some areas. But without ANY doubt my favourite prose writer is Macaulay. I haven’t read Ruskin. Not much Newman or Carlyle. 

Of the 20th century I love Harold Nicolson’s diary, my favourite diarist (along with Macaulay). Sybille Bedford is wonderful. I like Belloc’s essays and The Path to Rome though not his novels. I like Eliot’s prose better than his poetry, much better. Churchill was very good. I also love William Dalrymple. Yes, I love Tynan very much. And Hitchens wrote great polemic – although I only read a 2 or 3 of his pieces.  This in particular sticks in my mind as great prose. 

I love Macaulay’s letters enormously, my favourite letter writer. Also Lady
Diana Cooper's letters, in her autobiographies and in Philip Ziegler's biography. I love The Faber Book of Diaries. Not a fan of Pepys unlike my beloved Dad, but Pepys is more fun than Evelyn.

My favourite sentence in English is by Landor. Quoted in '84, Charing Cross Rd', that enchanting play, then book and then film.

There are no fields of amaranth on this side of the grave : there are no voices, O Rhodope ! that are not soon mute, however tuneful : there is no name, with whatever emphasis of passionate love repeated, of which the echo is not faint at last.
Oh and I almost forgot perhaps the best prose writer of the 20th century was Raymond Chandler. I love Evelyn Waugh very much and rate him higher than Graham Greene but as a prose stylist I prefer Graham Greene. Greene's book reviews are wonderfully written as are Philip Larkin's.

Here is the best thing Macaulay ever wrote.
There is not, and there never was on this earth, a work of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic Church. The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of human civilisation. No other institution is left standing which carries the mind back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, and when camelopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre. The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of life and youthful vigour. The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustin, and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila. The number of her children is greater than in any former age. Her acquisitions in the New World have more than compensated for what she has lost in the Old. Her spiritual ascendency extends over the vast countries which lie between the plains of the Missouri and Cape Horn, countries which a century hence, may not improbably contain a population as large as that which now inhabits Europe. The members of her communion are certainly not fewer than a hundred and fifty millions; and it will be difficult to show that all other Christian sects united amount to a hundred and twenty millions. Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.

I blogged about the best opening lines of books here but actually I think the opening lines of Graham Greene's The Honorary Consul might be best of all. 
Doctor Eduardo Plarr stood in the small port on the Paraná, among the rails and yellow cranes, watching where a horizontal plume of smoke stretched over the Chaco. It lay between the red bars of sunset like a stripe on a national flag. Doctor Plarr found himself alone at that hour except for the one sailor who was on guard outside the maritime building. It was an evening which, by some mysterious combination of failing light and the smell of an unrecognized plant, brings back to some men the sense of childhood and of future hope and to others the sense of something which has been lost and nearly forgotten.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Today is the 13th anniversary of the death of the Queen Mother

Today is the 13th anniversary of the death of the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, whom I thought (mistakenly) was the last Empress of India.

Thirteen years!!! Where did they go?

I learnt from the omniscient Rafe Heydel-Mankoo that I was wrong about Queen Elizabeth being Empress of India. Queen Victoria was the only Empress. Wives of the Emperors of India were not empresses as, unlike common law kingship, the title of Emperor derived from an Act of Parliament and no provision was made in the statute for the consort of the Emperor or Empress.

Was Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother ever Queen of Ireland? I think so, yes, though some say she was not.

The Irish Free State parliament removed all mention of the monarch from the Irish Constitution on the day of King George VI's accession, by the Constitution (Amendment no. 27) Act 1936. After the abdication of King Edward VIII on Dec 10, 1936 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth reigned briefly over the South before Ireland had a President - the 1937 Irish Constitution was passed on July 1, 1937. She was Queen of 'of Ireland', rather than 'of the Irish Free State' because George V under the 1921 Treaty was made 'King of Ireland' as well as being King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This title, King of Ireland, passed to George VI, so the Queen Mother was Queen of Ireland, although Ireland had ceased to exist as a constitutional entity when the South became independent from 1922.

After 1937, the King retained some responsibility for Irish foreign affairs. This situation produced legal uncertainty as to whether Ireland did or did not have a monarch until a republic was formally proclaimed in 1949.

It is noteworthy that both India and Ireland were only united under the British crown. Partition was a tragedy for both countries.

If Conor Gearty were British Prime Minister things would be even worse than they are

An article by Professor Conor Gearty from today's Independent makes a plea for an internationalist United Kingdom, a sibling in Europe not merely a good neighbour. If he were Prime Minister, he says, he would speak the truth:
that Britain is a small place that should stop pretending it is a power, much less a super-power; that the future depends on sibling and not just neighbourly relations with Europe; that immigration is what Britain is, not what Britons should fear; that the country is horribly class-conflicted with the engine of inequality being driven not by the poor but by the upper middle-class with their different schools, accents, health plans and gated communities; that the "free press" is merely the commercial tool of capitalists who trade off the worst instincts of the people for their own gain; that the green belt is a rust belt standing in the way of British homes; that re-industrialization is a fantasy but that the skills to cope with post-industrial Britain can only be delivered by the higher taxation needed to fund the better schools and colleges we need.
His ideas are utterly mistaken, topsy-turvy. The class system is one of the few things that unites Britain and creates social cohesion. Immigration, on the other hand, gravely weakens social cohesion. It acts on our sense of national community like Agent Orange did in Vietnam on forests. So, to a lesser extent, do European integration and devolution, of course.

I am told and believe that Conor Gearty, Professor of Human Rights law at L.S.E., is very clever but this stuff does not impress. As a Southern Irishman, naturally enough, he does not particularly love English national identity, sovereignty, our tradition or our ruling classes. Which goes to make my point for me about immigration and social cohesion.

He might be right, though, that we should forget about being a second rank great power. It is the case that the main threats to us come from terrorists and extremists at home. Also from nationalists who want to dissolve the union and, I should argue, from the European Union.  But if we abandon our role as an American satellite and the USA becomes isolationist what ensues? I am not sure we would like it. 

So I am torn. Perhaps we should be isolationist ourselves, though I am not sure about this one. I think we should probably leave the EU and certainly resile from the ECHR. International law is a great threat to democracy in Great Britain, but so, even more so, is the authoritarianism of the British political class and the sheepish docility of my compatriots. By authoritarianism I am thinking, inter alia, of much human rights law, which extends rather than restricts the powers of the state to tell people what to do, while giving power to foreign institutions to tell the British state what to do. 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Why Facebook and sugar are addictive

My friend and fellow blogger Mark Griffith gave me a very good insight tonight by into why we can't keep off Facebook, Twitter or the net in general. Things which give quick feedback (e.g. sugar) are very addictive. I by the way do not much like sweet things but the point still holds. And marketing people, Mark says, are trying to make social media more addictive, to train us like farm animals. 

I have suspended my Facebook account but this will not stop me wasting time on the net less enjoyably. How can anyone who loves reading, loves knowledge and whose mind flits rapidly keep away from the net?

Pen facts

1. Gorbachev's pen didn't work when he wanted to sign the USSR out of existence so he had to borrow one from a CNN correspondent. These things are a parable.

2. When signing autographs for fans, Dalí would always keep their pens. This is rather surreal.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Christianity is Middle Eastern, but Christians are being forced out of the Middle East

loved Syria so much that I extended my ticket two times and I visited Maaloula. Maaloula is one of the 5 villages in the world where Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, is still the mother tongue. The fate of the place since I was there is very sad, as described in this
essay which Janine Di Giovanni has written in the current Newsweek.

I love so much the Christian Middle East. I lo
ve how Jewish and how Middle Eastern Christianity is. I want to do my little bit to draw attention to what is happening to Christians in the Middle East.

The story of the elimination of the Christians from the Middle East is tragic. Most people in the Middle East were once Christian and the place would be much happier were they still Christian. Even in 1900 they made up a fifth of the people in the region. As an old (Arab, of course) Greek Orthodox priest told me in Nazareth, Israel and the West Bank are the best places for Christians. Interestingly Christians are making many conversions, especially in Iran, where numbers are growing by 5% a year.

A Syrian Christian friend whom I made when I visited the country years ago and who now lives in Bucharest made this comment on my post.
Christians are being kicked out also in Europe. take France as an example. Ask what happened to the napoleon theatre in Paris. Unfortunately money talks. and it is a sad news also for Muslims not to have Christians among them. They would not be able to show their love to their loved ones in the the Christian neighbouring areas hiding from their families..they would no longer be able to flee extremism that always accompanies the correct practice of the religion. Christians of the Orient never fought nor killed . Unfortunately westerners did fight and do support fighting. they are not as Christian as they claim to be. They should at least treat Assyrians ans Ashourita and Aramites as endangered species. They are a fortune to humanity. They are the source of all your believes. Muslims never attacked alone. Anyway i have a hope that Christians would work as the yeast in the flour anywhere they are... and i still believe that some Muslims are as sad as we are for what is happening to Christians now in the middle east. We should write a book about middle eastern Christian treasures.

The West started the current war in Iraq and by removing Saddam and Gaddafi bears very much of the responsibility for what has happened, though by no means all of it. Westerners are not as Christian as they claim to be? I don't think the West any longer considers that it is Christendom and in thirty years or so it no longer will be, which is incredibly sad. 

Trevor Howard was a psychopath

Watching for the first time in many years The Third Man - it's still my favourite film - last night, I googled and found this 2001 story about Trevor Howard that I missed living far from England. 
'Although stories of his courageous wartime service in the Royal Corps of Signals earned him much respect among fellow actors and fans alike, files held in the Public Record Office reveal that he had actually been discharged from the Army in 1943 for mental instability and having a "psychopathic personality".' 
Terence Pettigrew's biography recounts that he lied about having the Military Cross (an honour awarded, of course, for bravery under fire). In fact, he didn't leave England for the whole of his brief, unhappy army career. 

I must catch up on decades of scandal. Redgrave being a sado-masochist, Olivier and almost everyone being homosexual...

We just watched The Third Man projected onto a screen. The full film is on YouTube but not for long. I still thought it's the best film I ever saw and it improves with each viewing. It's Graham Greene's greatest masterpiece. Howard is wonderful as is everyone and everything in it. 

According to Mr. Pettigrew,
Once, on location in Africa, the cast and crew decided to honour Trevor by screening Brief Encounter. He sat through it without a word. When a mate of his whispered to him 'Wish they'd chosen The Third Man.' Trevor drew himelf up to his full height and roared so that everyone got the message, "So do I".
And quite right too.

When I first visited Vienna in January 1990 I thought not of Freud or Hitler, Strauss or the Hapsburgs but of the Third Man. But I forgot when I was in Vienna a few months ago to go on the Third Man tour and think it a good reason for returning there this year. The guide who invented the tour is said to be very good and utterly smitten by the film and all to do with it. She even tracked down the actor who played the weird, staring little boy with the football who implicates Holly Martin (Joseph Cotton) in the murder of the porter.

Three-quarters of Western Europeans would refuse to fight for their country

An opinion survey shows only 27% of Britons (a word I dislike, by the way, conjuring a mental picture of bearded druids) would fight for their country. Only 25% of Western Europeans would do so. 44% of Americans were willing to fight and 77% of residents of the Middle East and North Africa.

I wonder what the figures for Romania and Eastern Europe would be. Much higher than 27% I hope and think.

I'd fight to keep Northern Ireland British, but would I fight to make some Middle Eastern country safe for democracy and human rights?

This reminds me of the following exchange between Enoch Powell and Mrs. Thatcher.

‘No, we do not fight for values. I would fight for this country even if it had a communist government.’ 
Mrs. Thatcher (it was just before the Argentinian invasion of the Falklands): 
‘Nonsense, Enoch. If I send British troops abroad, it will be to defend our values.’ 
‘No, Prime Minister, values exist in a transcendental realm, beyond space and time. They can neither be fought for, nor destroyed.’
Now, as in the Cold War, the real enemies are within. I think now the danger is terrorism and Muslim disaffection at home. Other threats to the UK are from Irish, Scottish, Welsh nationalism, the EU and the ever growing body of international law. The main threat, however, and a very urgent one, is from mass immigration. There is no other credible threat of foreign invasion, which is partly why so few people say they would fight for their country. 

People in England in the 1930s joined the Peace Pledge Union, the Oxford Union voted in 1933 that 'This House would not fight for its country' (Germans took note) and yet in 1939 Oxford men and everyone else went to war. But also there is another factor: two generations of people who have been taught patriotism is suspect. Thanks perhaps to that wonderful, dangerous play/film, Oh What a Lovely War, and to being taught the First World War poets at school, thanks to the decline of deference and the dissolution of social cohesion due to a cocktail of relativism, pluralism, affluence, loss of faith in God and multiculturalism.

Would one fight for a Communist government? Millions fought under Stalin against a foreign invader. They were not fighting for Communism or against fascism but for their country. On the other hand, it is true that the Nazis could have posed as liberators and won support and thereby reached Moscow . And of course some people in the Ukraine fought against the Bolsheviks, despite the Nazi contempt for Slavs. Yugoslavs and Albanians fought the Germans under Communist leadership out of patriotism - were they right or wrong to do so? The Hungarian ruling classes in 1919 backed Bela Kun's Communist government of 1919 as a way of defending Greater Hungary against her enemies. 

Loyaulte me lie
was the motto of Richard III: 
"Loyalty binds me"
and loyalty is not to ideas. As Joseph de Maistre said, a nation is not made of ink.

But sometimes, very rarely, despite Christian teaching about being submissive to the authority placed by God over us, patriotism means opposing the lawful government as the White Rose resistance group did in wartime Germany. Absolute obedience to the temporal power is easy to preach in theory (easy to preach to arch-conservatives anyway) but it is not a satisfactory answer. 

I don't like to quote Nurse Cavell whose statue the first Labour Government erected close to Trafalgar Square, with these words prominently displayed, but patriotism is not enough and, in any case, the White Rose were the true patriots. As were the German plotters who tried to seize power in 1944. So I agree that one fights for ones country not values, except that love of country is a value and if one truly loves one country that supposes other values.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Turkey unveils Great Synagogue as Jewish population fades

This is a sad story of how the synagogue in Edirne (Adrianople is its real name)  has just been rebuilt and yet there is only one Jew left there.

I love Edirne very much and recommend it - my favourite place in Turkey - but it is  a shadow of the city it was until the Balkan Wars or the1920s. Like other cities in Turkey, Adrianople was a mix of Greeks, Armenians, Bulgarians and Turks, etc. 

Multiracial societies in Central and Eastern Europe were brutally simplified in the first half of the 20th century, while the homogeneous societies of Western Europe became multiracial in the second half. 

I think people have learnt the wrong lessons from history but they always do.

Germanwings crash: pueri aeterni die young and like flying planes

The Germanwings plane which crashed did so because the co-pilot deliberately crashed it, killing himself and 149 others. He waited till the main pilot went to the WC and would not let him back in.

Despite speculation on Twitter the pilot did NOT have a Muslim name. He was Andreas Lubitz, aged 28.

No-one has any idea why this happened. Nor do I. But one thing comes to my mind.

According to Jung's cleverest disciple, Marie-Louise von Franz, who wrote the classic book on the subject, 
The Problem of the Puer Aeternus, pueri aeterni (boys who never grow up, Peter Pans) are especially attracted to careers as air pilots. Airlines, she said back in 1960, try to avoid employing them. 

Pueri often die in their late twenties or early thirties. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who crashed his plane and died in his early 40s, was certainly a puer. 

Pueri, according to Miss von Franz, are also apt to join extremist organisations like the Nazis and Communists. It is pueri, she says, not real men, who become the torturers.

I imagine jihadi terrorism attracts pueri, and the Catholic priesthood, the civil service and the armed forces.

This possibly has absolutely nothing to do with the crash. Terrible things always happen and always will. 

Germanwings has asked for its adverts to be removed from the London tube. They read: 

"Get ready to be surprised. Visit Germany."

Note on Saturday:

Lubitz did it because his dream of a job as a long haul pilot was impossible, due to his history of depression, claims his ex-girlfriend. Malignant narcissism in other words. Self-pity is very close to the root of evil, as is envy.

I have no idea if he was a puer aeternus. Probably not but pueri, I remember, are said to have a cruel and callous shadow that they repress.

The vast Empire of Censorship in Europe - and how to fight it

I recommend this article by the wonderful Brendan O'Neill, on how little freedom of speech still exists in (Western) Europe. He is allowed to argue for free speech because he is a Trotskyite and not a conservative and therefore cannot be accused of thought crimes like racism, sexism or nationalism. He says:

Some people say Turkey isn’t fit to become a full member of Europe because it’s too authoritarian. On the contrary, Turkey’s willingness to punish and fine and imprison people for speechcrimes shows that it has all the necessary credentials to be European in the 21st century.

In Germany, a 74-year-old woman is currently struggling to pay off a fine imposed on her by the courts for the crime of carrying an offensive placard.
She was on a march against immigration when she held up a sign that said “The arrogant Turks and Muslims are threatening Europe”. For this, for expressing her quite hardcore, not-very-nice political views, she was convicted of incitement to hatred and fined 1,000 Euros.

Past McDonald's and KFC, the last of the Plantagenets makes his final journey

The glories of our blood and state

Are shadows, not substantial things;

There is no armour against Fate;

Death lays his icy hand on kings.
I've never before wanted to visit Leicester but I wish I could be there today for the funeral of King Richard III, the last Plantagenet king. Though, of course, his funeral should be in a Catholic church, not a Protestant one. He was a bad Catholic, which Brendan Behan said was the only thing to be. 

Actually he was a child murderer, which is not funny even after 500 years. Still there is a divinity doth hedge a king.  

The funeral is here.

I know I have quoted these words of Lord Chief Justice Crewe in the Oxford peerage case rather often on this blog and recently but I have to do so again.
Where is Bohun? Where is Mowbray? Where is Mortimer? Nay, which is more, and most of all, where is Plantagenet? They are entombed in the urns and sepulchres of mortality!

This is an excellent article about how Richard III's England was less developed (civilised was the old word) than Roman Britain. And this moving account of the funeral by Robert Hardman, with the wonderful headline

Past McDonald's and KFC, last of the Plantagenets makes his final journey.