Thursday, 31 March 2011

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

I have two brief points I would like to make about the return of 'Draw Mohammed Day'. Firstly, I remember watching with great amusement and irritation the first DMD last year and some of the reactions the idea received from members of the atheist 'community' on Youtube when juxtaposed with the reactions to the Ground Zero Mosque. Legally these were both open and shut cases. Both caused a great deal of offence, and in neither case should the law protect against offence. I found it interesting however, at the number of atheists who were to later emphatically jump to the defence of the building of the Ground Zero Mosque - i.e. to defend the right of (some) Muslims to offend (some) members of the West, who could not bring themselves to apply the same standard to DMD and the act of (some) members of the West offending (some) Muslims. Other than a fringe group of protesters in New York there was never really a serious possibility of the building being stopped and regardless of that small number of stereotypical fat Christian Americans that the atheist community so gleefully took the piss out of that protested in New York, this was nothing compared to the overwhelming response of the 'Muslim' world to DMD which in some cases went as far to respond with 'Everybody Draw Holocaust Day'. To repeat there really was little debate to be had over the legality of the Ground Zero Mosque so any atheist that may defend themselves by claiming they were merely defending the 'right' of the Muslims to build the mosque should shut the fuck up. If you are going to defend the right of (some) Muslims to offend (some) members of the Western World, and to truly treat them like equals, you should apply the same standards when it goes the other way and not pussyfoot around the topic as so many did.

The second point I would like to make is merely over the point of DMD this second time around. If the aim of DMD is to express 'our' right to free speech, then by all means DMD is a relevant and legitimate response to many of the Islamic thugs that have censored and bullied so many critics of Islam on the continent. If however, DMD is about 'them' and making Islam 'grow a sense of humour' as I have heard repeated, then it is a completely stupid idea. Repeatedly offending the Muslim world will not suddenly make them lighten up on this issue. A bad joke does not become funny because someone keeps repeating it to you. There is also no 'moderate' interpretation of the cartoons. Yes there is a difference in response- some Muslims could be violent, others simply ignore it, but either way it is a part of Islam to not depict the prophet so no matter how secular a Muslim may be they are still going to be offended by the cartoon. If DMD is in fact supposed to be about the latter objective, then it will not only fail completely, but likely alienate the moderates and provide ample propaganda for the not so moderates.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Blood On Who's Hands?

It was pretty obvious to most people that as far as the humanitarian argument for the war in Iraq applied, action and inaction would both lead to the loss of lives of innocent civilians. It seems apt here to include a quote I have always liked from David Aaronovitch:

"But just as there are armchair warriors, who run none of the risks that they recommend for others, so there are armchair pacifists whose commitment isn't tested by the threat to family or friends. Just other peoples' families and friends."*
*Taken from David Aaronovitch's article 'At the eleventh hour' which can be read here:

One of the arguments I'm starting to hear a lot from the anti-war movement now that they are witnessing the grass-roots rebellions taking place in the Middle-East is that the removal of dictators must take place internally. Well with the news recently that the coastal city of Bin Jawad was lost to Gaddafi loyalists and the appalling scenes we have been witnessing of unarmed protesters being killed in the streets, I would now like to ask the anti-war movement how their plan of internal rebellion is going? Let's not just focus on Libya where the rebellions have had the biggest effect, why don't we also look at places like Bahrain where protests were quickly and quietly put down with every-day civilians completely powerless to fight against the state without outside support. Even in Egypt the removal of Mubarak has been quickly replaced with a military takeover of government with very dubious figures still in power. It took two years for well over 8 million people to attend elections in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam (even with the most reactionary forces of the Middle-East trying to stop them). While there are reasons to be positive, can we say with certainty the same will happen in Egypt?

Whatever the pragmatic arguments that related to the war in Iraq (of which there were many) the moral depravity of many of those opposed to the war (most conspicuously of the George Galloway variety) are now being exposed for what they really were. Why is it exactly that so many on the left are spitting blood at the possibility of simply a no-fly zone? Not a military invasion or an occupation but simply drawing up plans that if a murdering tyrant appears to be re-taking the country through the genocide of innocents, then we will simply set up a perimeter at no benefit to ourselves that will at least stop him from bombing his own people? How vacuous the term 'imperialism' has become.

How far can the left sink?
I see that the disgrace of a man John Rees was on the Moral Maze this week to discuss this issue that I have not got round to yet which will no doubt have my blood boiling. I remember watching with bemusement as his so-called 'anti-war' side moved to being pro-war for the other side, even when those 'freedom fighters' spent most of their time attacking innocent Iraqi civilians instead of targeting the 'occupying imperialists'. When I see them rearing their ugly head on the Libya debate stubbornly refusing any support for the Libyan oppressed, I wonder what is the point in calling yourself anti-war if the war in Libya has already fucking started?

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Anti-Christian or Anti-Gay?

It is surprising to me that a lot of the reaction to the case of Mr and Mrs Johns has been in sympathy with the side supporting 'anti-gay' views and against the 'pc' decision of the courts, even on the BBC's website. There are a lot of things that I could not say are a 'good' thing to a child. Like liberalism for instance. Or even Christianity. As someone who does not believe in either of those things, unless I was willing to lie to the child in question then I would not say that those were good things.

What a lot of people seem to be missing including apparently many gay people like David Starkey that was on Question Time, was not so much that the couple may have had views that did not conform to the state sanctioned doctrine of diversity, but that the couple may have had views that directly contravened their role as foster parents. That view not being that homosexuality is not a "good" thing, but that they would refuse to be neutral on this issue if the child brought it up. As I see it, there is a perfectly legitimate view not that the parents may pass on anti-gay attitudes to the children, but that the children themselves may turn out to be gay or have gay friends of which the parents would actively interfere and tell them was unacceptable.

While there may not be much of a fuss to make over the issue of the fact that the couple may mention that they do not approve of homosexuality in the nicest way possible, there very well may be an issue if the child itself turns out to be gay and has been told either at the time or had it implanted in him that to be gay is unacceptable. It seems pretty clear to me, that as often as the state can and does get these kinds of issues wrong this was one of those times when the state was attempting to discriminate not against the potential fosters' views, but the harmful effects of those views. If the couple really cared about the children, would it be really asking for that much for them not to mention their views on such an unrelated topic or at the very least agree to do it in a way that was decidedly neutral and not harmful. The fact that the couple seems to have angrily asserted their hurt and their irritation instead of emphasising that this issue would not have been a problem even if the child was gay, is I believe fairly telling even as someone who usually groans louder than anyone at these types of cases.


While I do not agree with the often heard Muslim 'grievance' that there is a conscious and deliberate 'Anti-Muslim Agenda' amongst the higher echelons of British society (which oddly seems to include those governments that allow such huge numbers of Muslims to move here, against the wishes of their electorate) including amongst our newspapers, I do agree that there is a bias towards sensationalism and shock in general.

Either way, Anjem Choudary has to be one of the most shamefully attention-seeking media whores that we have seen in a long time and our irresponsible media douses far too much fuel on an otherwise very small flame. That does not mean that the connections between his organisation and many alleged 'martyrs' sent to Afghanistan and elsewhere should not be looked at, but about ten people burning a poppy or this idiot visiting the US to babble some nonsense at the cousins, should not be front page news.

UKIP Finish Second, For Now..

Less than a week after the Populus survey revealed that 48% of the British public (including a large number of minorities) would vote for a 'far-right' party under certain circumstances, UKIP come second in the Barnsley by-elections beating not just the Liberal Democrats but also (which has gone curiously unmentioned) the Conservatives themselves. I make this connection between this report and UKIP, not because I believe them to be 'far-right', merely because it is clear that the polls were referring to immigration.

Isn't it interesting that around the time that this has been released it is revealed that our net immigration last year was raised to an eye-watering half a million. As I see it there are two fundamental conclusions to take from this poll. Firstly, that there is yet more concrete proof that the Multi-Culti pipe dream has not materialised and is not appreciated by the majority of the population it was forced upon (only 12% would concede that immigration had benefited them locally). Secondly and most importantly the race-relations industry that developed around the time of mass immigration that has played the dual role of attempting to stop legitimate prejudice of individuals on the grounds of their race, while also playing a cover to the ideology of mass immigration and multiculturalism has been proved completely wrong. This poll clearly demonstrates that even though a huge number of the British public are very unhappy with the transformation taking place in their local and wider community, they have still refused to vote for a far-right party that would stop this because they do not wish to vote for a party that may be racist or associated with violence.

The liberal reaction to this poll has been fairly predictable. They could not care less that their policies are not wanted by the majority of the population they force it on, and cannot understand any reason beyond white supremacism that people may not want to see the community they grew up with transform before their eyes, even when many of those that expressed such views where black and asian. While many minorities spoke against immigration for economic reasons, there were even many that considered it a matter of identity as they themselves considered themselves assimilated and a part of British identity that they saw as under threat. Yet further proof that the race-relations industry has got it all wrong.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Real Free Speech

The US Supreme Court once again defended the right of the Westboro Baptist Church to continue it's hateful behaviour, even at the funerals of dead soldiers after the family of Lance Corporal Matthew Synder sued the Church for emotional dystress.

Compare this with the overwhelming response to the Danish cartoons.

What do you think hurts more? Some cartoons drawn in a different country, or your dead son attacked at his funeral?

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Shaking Hands With Gaddafi

Was it wrong for Tony Blair to shake hands with Colonel Gadaffi, the man that is now piling the bodies of his citizens in the streets of Libya? Before I answer that I would like to question the default premise that most people jump into this question with. It really cannot be emphasised enough that this notion of a foreign policy that is not based on anything other than a ruthless pursuit of one's economic interests and an indifferent participation in the balance of power is an incredibly new idea (even in the west) that is nothing like as universally practiced as is commonly assumed. We are a very small country with a proportionately very small amount of influence in the world today and should not treat benign statesmanship in the international arena on our part as automatically influential, if not in some cases potentially destabilising and harmful.

First of all it is important to note that the regimes that exist in the Middle-East did not appear out of a vacuum. While I would never go as far to say that all regimes receive the unanimous support of the people they rule, it is equally naive to assume that where we able to wave a wand and remove these tyrants, burgeoning democracies would flourish in their place. If the war in Iraq proved anything, it is that there are more systemic barriers to democracy than the man at the top. Most people would now oppose military intervention to remove dictators as a result of these lessons. When we consider the status quo in the Middle-East in those terms people appreciate that as unpleasant as the dictators are, they serve a purpose to which there are no easy or quick-fix solutions. What's more, many of the same people who opposed the 'illegal' American overthrow of Iraq, also hated the 'legal' UN sanctions and no-fly zones. If you cannot militarily threaten a regime, and cannot even impose sanctions on it you are often left with the choice of simply leaving the dictators completely to their own devices, which many people on the phone-ins this week seem to consider a bizarrely more moral choice.

This takes us to Libya. All week long, I have heard uninformed members of the public decry Tony Blair for dealing with Gaddafi when he was Prime Minister. Presumably however, these same people would not have supported Blair overthrowing Gaddafi in an Iraqi style invasion. Are these people really suggesting that the most moral thing to do would be to leave Gaddafi to himself entirely unchecked? If they appreciate that whichever path they criticise, Gaddafi remains in power, this automatically shifts the focus to one of damage limitation. The arms trade is a natural part of international relations and there is no room for doubt that were we to refuse to sell arms with regimes that we did not approve of, we would change absolutely nothing in the region other than shifting the influence of the region to even less trustworthy forces while unnecessarily shooting ourselves in the foot economically. Do people really think that we are acting in the best interests of the people by cutting our influence out of the picture, and pushing Gadaffi to trade with statesmen like Putin who would have imposed very little conditions on the terms of usage for those weapons in question. As it happens in the case of Libya, Tony Blair achieved a stunning success in putting an end to Gadaffi's nuclear weapon's programme. Had he taken the advice of the legions of Captain Hindsights that are phoning into 5 Live this week, Gadaffi would have still controlled and murdered his own people as intervention was off the table, but now he may very well have unstable nuclear components within his arsenal. The same man that has said he will fight his people to the "last bullet". That definitely sounds like the most sensible thing to do.

Whenever people are successfully deterred by these arguments they often jump onto the topic of Saudi Arabia and accuse us of a double-standard. This is an utterly puerile accusation. To start with, our 'standards' are not a universal push for democracy they are a blend of our own interests with as much democracy and internationalism that can be pushed as possible. Many people are deterred from criticising Blair when they hear about the nuclear concessions. Because we have not so far acheived anything comparable in Saudi Arabia this suddenly means that the most 'moral' thing to do again is to abandon the region to the more powerful despots that trade arms in the world. Even if we cannot force concessions at this moment in time, is it still not better at least having a foot in the door for possible future influence? Even if there is no guarantee of future influence is it still not better to at least sell arms with laws and conditions attached that would not be found elsewhere. Even if there were no laws, no concessions present or future, and we were denied military or any other intervention, what possible difference does it make if the regime will exist nonetheless to at least satisfy our interests economically once all other options have been extinguished to put principle first? During the Cold War there were times when one could legitimately argue in certain examples in Latin America, that the US did prioritise stability over principle and therefore could be accused of a double standard. In today's terms however, it should be perfectly obvious that while it is reasonable to expect the US to covertly and even overtly support aspects of the Iranian revolutionary movement it is totally unreasonable to expect the same policy towards China. It is clear in today's examples that are being argued it is circumstance that is dictating priorities and not ideology. It is therefore a frivolous accusation to describe such policy as 'hypocritical', without first establishing an alternative to simply leaving dictators alone or at least providing evidence of a solution that may produce democracy that has been ignored in favour of our material interests. Without military intervention I am not sure if such a policy existed for Blair, and I am absolutely certain one does not currently exist in regards to Saudi Arabia. That is not hypocrisy, that is seeing the world as it is and making the best of it that we can.