How to lie factually

By way of illustration, I’m going to quote the headline and lead paragraph of yesterday’s article in The Daily Mail.

The article falls in line with the general thrust of our coverage of Israel in Britain: the Palestinians may be a little rough round the edges, but they have a legitimate grievance. The Israelis, on the other hand, don’t so much react to manifestations of such grievances as overreact.

That is the strategy, now let’s look at the tactics. The purpose here is to communicate the strategic message without hearing from the Press Complaints Commission.

Headline: “Jerusalem streets run red with blood: Israeli police shoot dead man who stabbed border guard at Damascus Gate – the 99th Palestinian to die in latest wave of violence.”

See what I mean? Jerusalem streets run red with Palestinian blood wantonly spilled by Israelis who probably used the blood for ritual purposes – that is the subtext.

The text is factually unassailable, except for one minor detail: one man shot, even for no provocation, is unlikely to have his blood flowing into the streets, plural. One street, perhaps, and even then, for it to run red with blood an Israeli bullet would have had to sever a major artery, the carotid one for preference.

Then of course any sense of balance would dictate that, now that we know how many Palestinians died while manifesting their just grievances, we should be told how many Israelis fell victim too (224 so far this year, 49 of them dead – and there’s still a month to go).

But hey, there are some high journalistic standards to uphold here. And a sense of balance is prime among them. Hence the lead paragraph:

“A Palestinian man has been shot dead at an entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem after he stabbed an Israeli border guard in the neck this morning. Just two hours later, a woman was stabbed in the back as she waited for a bus in north Jerusalem.”

You can see me wiping my brow even as we speak. Our most conservative newspaper hasn’t lost its objectivity after all, its commitment to truth. So the killing of the Palestinian man who drowned most of Jerusalem in his blood was either self-defence or retaliation? So it was justifiable?

Ah, but I didn’t tell you what the kicker was, coming in the very next sentence. Here it is: “Neither the policeman nor the woman were seriously wounded in the attacks.”

It should have been ‘was’, not ‘were’, but we’re way past the point where we expect grammatical rectitude from our semi-literate hacks and totally illiterate sub-editors. We do expect unbiased reporting though, and it is this expectation that this sentence frustrates, while pretending to be dispassionately objective.

Can you spot how? Of course you can. The sanguinary Palestinian was killed; neither of his victims was (or were, to the victims of our comprehensive education).

It’s that overreaction, you see. It’s that disproportionate response all over again. Well done, The Mail. I wouldn’t call this message subliminal, but it certainly conveys the message less crudely than one would expect from more left-leaning papers.

Never mind that Israel is surrounded by millions of fanatics whose governments are institutionally committed to murdering every Israeli. Never mind that terrorist attacks, successful or thwarted, happen practically every day in Israeli towns. Never mind that Israelis don’t have a moment’s peace.

One Palestinian killed is too many. One Palestinian killed is enough to inundate all of Jerusalem with the congealing red liquor.

If you are planning a career in journalism, this is a useful lesson to learn. Denotation is nothing; connotation, everything. Text trumps subtext. A few nice touches, and truth disappears behind the fog of factual accuracy.


Naked at the altar

Every day brings confirmations to the dawning truth that no satire can keep pace with the modern world.

It seems as if it was only yesterday when I made sly comments on women priests complaining about the sexless attire they have to wear. Responding to the growing demand, a famous designer began to fashion clerical clothes accentuating womanly charms.

I was so impressed with the deeply slit skirts that I let my fantasy flow freely, opining, among other things, that a nicely revealing décolletage wasn’t incompatible with the dog collar. I even went so far as to suggest that the reverend ladies perhaps ought to celebrate mass in the nude (having looked at their photographs, I withdrew the suggestion).

A priest friend took exception to my flippancy, especially when I wrote that such a development could give a whole new meaning to the entreaty “Take, eat: this is my body”. “Blasphemy,” he said, correctly, and I was suitably contrite.

Neither of us realised that I was not only blasphemous but also prophetic. For the world has caught up with my morbid satirical vision, moving it a step closer to reality.

Downing Street has just appointed the Venerable Karen Gorham to the bishopric of Sherborne, and I shan’t bore you with yet another diatribe about female priests and especially bishops.

What’s worth mentioning is the interesting fact that the freshly minted bishop is the author of an impassioned apologia pro vita sua… sorry, wrong book. The apologia the Venerable Karen did write was about the delights of nudism.

Doubtless to spare the aesthetic sensibilities of the outside world, the new bishop no longer practises what she preaches, as it were. But she used to, throughout her youth.

Going buck naked, she wrote a few years ago, “is just about doing things which one generally does with clothes on.” Since Her future Grace generally officiates church services… well, you get the picture.

“It is a natural way of doing things, and gives people freedom,” she added. Far be it from me to debate a theological point with a professional, but Jesus, in whose divinity Her naked Grace presumably believes, talked about the truth making one free.

I think, from my lowly theological position, that he meant the truth of God, not that of walking about with one’s floppy bits flapping in the wind.

Sinking even deeper into the exegetical hole I’ve dug for myself, I may even suggest that going starkers isn’t natural any longer. It was so only before Original Sin, a concept the Venerable Karen must have studied at the seminary but has since forgotten.

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they – well, all of us – were punished. “And the eyes of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”

Of course the Venerable Karen might have received a personal revelation that Original Sin no longer applies and, if so, by all means she should share it with us.

But in the absence of such a Damascene experience, her advocacy of nudism makes her sound vulgar, ignorant and probably agnostic. Along with her unmarried womanliness, these are just the right qualifications to become a bishop in today’s Church of England.

The Nazis had some good points too

According to Diane Abbott, Labour’s international development spokesman, “Mao did more good than wrong.” Specifically, he left his country “on the verge of great economic success.”

This shows an enviable consistency of opinion, for back in 2008 Miss Abbott explained to a TV audience that “I suppose that… Mao did more good than wrong. We can’t say that about the Nazis.”

Well, I don’t know about the balance (or rather I do and will get to it later), but the Nazis had their moments too. For example, they were the first to establish a link between smoking and lung cancer, thanks to which cancer rates in West Germany remained lower than in the rest of Europe for decades.

This was achieved without staging any ghastly experiments on animals, to which Miss Abbott no doubt objects. Of course the Nazis had no shortage of eager human volunteers, but at least Hitler looked after animal welfare.

Moreover, Hitler, Hess and quite a few other leading Nazis occupied the high moral ground by being vegetarian. It has taken the idea some time to catch on, but now, even though most of us regrettably still insist on devouring the bodies of murdered animals, we know exactly where true virtue lies.

As to economic success, Hitler eliminated unemployment and energised German industry to a point where it continued to crank out weaponry even when most of it lay in ruins due to Allied bombing campaigns (which I, presumably along with Miss Abbott, deplore). Then again, Nazi industrialists had access to cheap labour generously provided by such work centres as Auschwitz.

So you see, Mao isn’t the only one who did good things as well as bad. Stalin could also boast – and the Russian press is still boasting for him – that he took over a Russia of the plough and left her with the hydrogen bomb. The greatest war industry the world had ever seen was created from scratch in less than 10 years in the 1930s – if that’s not a great economic achievement, I don’t know what is.

As to Mao, he murdered, by executions, privation and artificial famines, 70 million of his citizens, a fact more indisputable than the rather mythical ‘economic success’ on the verge of which he left the country. On which side of Miss Abbott’s ledger does this fact appear?

Naturally, as a communist in all but name, she can justify mass murder dialectically. Thesis: 70 million were murdered. Antithesis: They died in a good cause. Synthesis: Their deaths, lamentable as they must be, left China “on the verge of great economic success”. Marx himself couldn’t have done better, and as to Hegel, he was a rank amateur.

China’s ‘great economic success’ was all about creating a slave economy on millions of corpses. That someone like Abbott would be ignorant enough to know nothing about economics and amoral enough not to care about millions of victims is par for the course – she is, after all, a communist in all but name and, which is worse, Jeremy Corbyn’s ex-mistress.

Even mentioning this disgusting woman in polite conversation would be pointless and ill-advised – except for one minor detail. She is a member of Parliament. And of the shadow cabinet. And of the elite that governs us.

It pains me that Great Britain – Great Britain! – is governed by an elite including a creature who thinks that creating a slave economy that benefits a small group and leaves the rest starving justifies 70 million dead – and the rest starving.

From here there’s but a small moral step (if a greater physical one) to being governed by ISIS. At least those chaps don’t pretend to be respectable.   




Putin can’t have Turkey for breakfast

A dilemma is goring my friend Vlad with its horns. The Turks slapped him in the face (or stabbed him in the back, as he put it) by shooting down his bomber, so what’s he going to do about it?

On the one hand, the temptation to do something cataclysmic is strong. No one disses Vlad and gets away with it.

It’s not about losing a plane. It’s about losing face. When Vlad was growing up as a ‘common street thug’, by his frank self-description, losing face meant losing respect.

That was tantamount to dying: not only would members of rival gangs play fast and loose but, more important, even one’s mates would withdraw their protection. The bully would get bullied.

On the other hand, however, the Turks had the foresight to join Nato, which is to say the West. The last time they looked westwards for help against Russia, they won the Crimean War in spite of being outgunned, or rather the West won it for them, and Vlad is a keen student of Russia’s imperial past.

Of course there’s every chance Nato would back off, like those intelligentsia wimps Vlad used to harass in his youth, brandishing a length of bicycle chain. But there’s a risk: Nato may be a wimp, but it has a length of chain of its own. Sufficiently provoked, it may just swing it.

No, Turkey is too difficult a target. The Russian people are an easier one, and they don’t seem to mind being a target.

So Vlad declared that the same Turkish food imports that a week ago met every exacting health standard no longer do so. In other words, Russians are going to lose Turkish tomatoes, fruit and meats the same way they’ve already lost French Camembert, Italian Parmesan and Spanish hams – not to mention more basic things.

Meanwhile Vlad expelled a few Turkish businessmen whose visas miraculously got out of order overnight, severed all military contacts between the two countries and threatened to withdraw billions’ worth of business from the dastardly Turks.

In passing he accused Erdogan of being a secret member of ISIS and acting as a fence for its oil, while Turkey’s president defied diplomatic protocol by calling Putin a ‘slanderer’ in reply.

Vlad responded by moving more tanks into the area, along with AA missiles capable of downing a Turkish airliner 250 miles away, should the spirit so move Vlad.

Britain wouldn’t take it lying down either. Following yesterday’s preliminary head-count in Parliament, the RAF will start bombing Syria any minute now, which probably means Londoners should brace themselves for the same treatment that Parisians received, or worse.

I do mean bombing Syria, not ISIS, for it’s impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins. Nato, including Turkey, clearly can’t do so, while the Russians don’t care one way or the other.

Turkey downed that Russian plane mainly because the Russians are pounding Turkmen villages. The Turkmen, who are Sunnis, oppose Assad, who’s a Shiite, and hate the Kurds who are a burr under Turkey’s blanket, which makes Turkmen Turkey’s friends, not just ethnic brothers.

The Russians are strafing the Turkmen for being ambivalent about ISIS, who are Sunnis too and therefore hate Assad, whom the Turkmen also detest but the Russians quite like. Then of course there are the anti-Assad forces who are not ISIS, so the Russians bomb them too, along with ISIS, the Turkmen and everything that moves, except Assad.

We’re against Assad because he fails the democracy test, which ISIS also fails, along with everyone else in the region except Israel. That’s why we’re probably going to bomb the pro-Assad soldiers, some of whom are, like us, fighting ISIS and some cross-pollinate with them. No plans to bomb Israel have so far been revealed, and nor do the Saudis need to worry yet, even though they aren’t democratic either.

Just two years ago Dave ‘Bomber’ Cameron hated Assad so much that he was prepared to back ISIS, as it then wasn’t yet known. Now he still hates Assad, for not being a democrat, but he also hates ISIS, which means that logically he should endorse carpet-bombing all of Syria since neither side to the conflict is any good.

In practice though, he won’t, pretending that British bombs will unerringly find appropriate targets all on their own – and that he actually knows what the appropriate targets are.

The Russians meanwhile will bomb everyone except Assad and his forces, proceeding on the philosophy first enunciated during the Albigensian Crusade: kill them all, God will claim his own. Amazing how little things change over 800 years.

God only knows where it’ll all end, whether Vlad will have Turkey for proverbial breakfast, or whether he’ll choke on the Middle East the same way his predecessors choked on Afghanistan.

But even a mere mortal can realise how fatuous the West’s Middle Eastern policy has been over the last 12 years. If nothing else, it has drawn Putin in, the jet-black cat among the pigeons.

To extend the prandial analogy, Putin is the devil we’re supping with. And no long spoon is anywhere to be seen.













Thank God there’s no more phoney talk of austerity

Whatever happened to austerity, George? This question screams off the front pages of today’s papers.

This curiosity has been prompted by the Chancellor’s announcement that the government will go an a £27-billion spending spree, something that doesn’t quite tally with its much-vaunted austerity drive.

Is austerity dead then? That’s a good question to which there’s a good answer. Austerity isn’t dead because it never lived.

Like most things political these days, the notion existed in the virtual world only. It had nothing to do with reality.

The government still wasn’t paying its way, our sovereign debt was still growing, the wolf was still at the door. A Tory Chancellor doesn’t do austerity any better than his Labour counterpart. He just has to talk austerity to earn his PR keep.

There’s nothing new about this, which I’m going to prove by re-running my earlier article George the Builder Will Look After You Mate. I apologise to my foreign readers for the idiosyncratic idiom and references only understandable to a British reader. But hey, it’s satire, mate, djahmean?

“Which cowboy built this economy then? Oh no, gov, can’t pin this one on me.

“Look, mate, this house was falling down, like, when I got the call. 2010 it was, when the call came. I was having me cuppa Rosie, listening to N**gaz With Attitude, when me mate Dave called, saying George, I want you to be me builder, mate. Shore the booger up, djahmean?

“Off I go like a goodun, and what do I find? The debt is well weak, way down. Not even a trillion, mate, just over a half is all. Ain’t big enough to keep the welfare roof over tenants’ heads, djahmean?

“So I put me scaffolding up – it’s made by Austerity, you know them blokes in Westminster – and go to work. Bit of repointing here, some grouting there and look at it now. 1.36 trillion quid and going up well strong! Sorted.

“Then them Greeks call me mate Dave, saying Dave, gizza hand, mate, every year we go over the budget, half a per cent at least. It’s like we have a grand but spend a grand-five – no good that, ain’t no way to build an economy.

“And me mate Dave’s like, too bloody right, can’t build an economy that way. Look at me mate George the Builder, he says. Spends five per cent more ‘n he has every year, that’s 50 quid over every budget grand, and the house is growing like Corbyn’s support.

“That’s the way to build, Dave says. Good lad George. That way you’re sure the debt will stay well up and never fall down.

“And people will trust you. They see that Austerity scaffolding on the building, they know George the Builder’s at work. Satisfaction guaranteed, djahmean?

“And it ain’t just houses, mate. Roads, railways, airports, power-stations – I can build them all. Just call your George the Builder, show him the dosh, and Dave’s your uncle, Theresa’s your aunt. Sorted.

“Where’s the dosh going to come from? That’s your problem, mate, not mine. You make it, I spend it, djahmean? Do what I do when I’m short, borrow. Easy as pie, a right doddle, mate. Things get built, houses go up, so does the debt – sorted.

“A new way to build, that’s what I, George the Builder, stand for. Power to the people, djahmean? People like me and me mate Dave.

“The other day we was having a swift pint of wifebeater at King’s Head, and Dave’s like, George me old China, he says, it’s like doing a slag who’s pissed unconscious. You do her, and she don’t even know she got done.

“Next morning she wakes up all sore, calls the filth, and you’re like, who me? She done it herself, gov, she voted to get done, djahmean? Consent of the done, like. Judge gives her a kick up the Khyber, you go down the pub – sorted.

“Well smart, Dave is. That’s what the building trade’s all about, take it from me. As long as we have them Russians, Chinese and Arabs buying up me houses, things will go up. And when they stop – well, things will still be going up. Don’t know how, but they will. Up and up, that’s what it’s all about, djahmean? Up’s the word, mate.

“Just listen to your mate George the Builder. You know what me slogan is? Got it from that Sherman from way back: Of the people, by the people, for the people. And up the people’s.



Parallel lines converge in Syria

At the start of Russia’s involvement in the Syrian conflict, I wrote “The danger of accidental conflagration is high, and the choice of possible flash points is wide.”

Now that one of those points has actually flashed, I feel no pride in having been vindicated. I feel fear.

No one in his right mind wants the world to end this side of the Second Coming, either with a bang or with a whimper. I don’t know about the whimper, but the bang is terrifyingly close.

Historical parallels are defying Euclid and vindicating Lobachevsky by converging at a point where a world war becomes possible, if not yet probable.

For Syria circa 2015 read Serbia circa 1914; for the Middle East now read the Balkans then, for the First World War read… something no one wants to read.

Then too the potential area of conflict was only the stage, not the drama. The drama involved a clash of some real but mostly trumped-up interests seeking resolution in a conflict of some sort. A cataclysm effectively ending our civilisation wasn’t of course planned. But it was risked.

In the game of Russian roulette played in today’s Middle East the revolver’s cylinder still has a few rounds missing, but there’s already more than one in. And the risk of discharge is edging towards certainty.

In another parallel development, for the first time since the Korean War a Nato air force has downed a Russian warplane. Then, 60-odd years ago, only Stalin’s realisation that Russia was badly outgunned prevented a major war.

Stalin vacillated. He let his generals talk him out of using Russia’s first short-range missiles to fire at Gen. MacArthur’s fleet approaching Inchon.

The generals explained that such an act would trigger a full-scale nuclear attack on Russia herself, something that the country’s AA defences would be unable to ward off, and Stalin listened to reason. When he was no longer capable of doing so, he conveniently died.

Today’s situation closely resembles those two. Whether a world war will be unleashed, as in 1914, or averted, as in the early 50s, is anybody’s guess.

Newspapers and social media are full of regrets over Turkey’s ‘ill-considered’ action, while the Russians are repeating the usual lies, this time about their aircraft not having violated Turkey’s air space.

It did, and the Turks acted in full compliance with international law. They issued several warnings and, when they weren’t heeded, opened fire.

Most commentators bemoan that fact, saying that a single bomber was no threat to Turkey’s sovereignty. That may be true, but it’s also irrelevant.

 A serious country can’t tolerate foreign incursions into her territory, for doing so would open the door for further violations. When those escalate, sovereignty may somehow fade away, replaced by submissiveness and ultimately enslavement.

Having said that, if, say, a Dutch plane strayed into Britain’s territory for a few seconds, I doubt RAF Tornadoes would shoot to kill. The capital of goodwill between the two countries is of too long a standing, 300 years plus, which would entitle the Dutch pilots to three centuries’ worth of the benefit of the doubt.

The Turks don’t feel about the Russians the same way, for all the footsies played by Putin and Erdoğan over the last couple of years. There was no capital of goodwill being built during that period. There were attempts by two wily politicians to pull a fast one on each other.

As you travel the Bosphorus towards the Black Sea, you’ll see old cannon pointing in the same direction, towards danger, towards Russia. This is a reminder that, from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, the two countries fought 12 wars.

Russia won most of them, having suffered only two defeats, in 1712 and 1856, in the Crimean War, when Turkey had a little help from her friends. But in spite of all her victories Russia never won the strategic imperial prize she coveted and still covets: access to the Mediterranean through the Turkish Straits.

This is the perennial aim of Russia’s policy towards Turkey, which can only be achieved by turning the country into a Russian dominion. However sunny the relations between the two countries may appear to outsiders, the Turks know and fear this Russian craving – a fear much strengthened by the genetic memory of blood spilled over the centuries.

They too see parallels, which is bound to make then a bit trigger-happy when Russian planes barge into their air space – especially when these planes are bombing Turkmen villages inhabited by the Turks’ ethnic brothers.

Nato is duty-bound to support and defend its members, and Obama had to make a statement to that effect. Does Putin detect cold resolve behind that statement or only hot air? The answer to that question may well determine whether or not we find ourselves in a world war.

One wonders if Bush and Blair still think it was a good idea to laser-guide democracy to the Middle East back in 2003. As their British neocon fan told me at the time, sometimes it’s good to poke a hornets’ nest.

No doubt. As long as we don’t all die from the ensuing stings.




Juncker is right and Farage is wrong

“There will be no Brexit,” announced Jean-Claude Juncker or Junk, as he’s known to his friends. He then helped himself to a snifter of the finest brandy southwest France can offer.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage begged to differ, and the two men’s views on the situation are as opposite as their tastes in liquid refreshments: cognac by the bottle for Junk, beer by the bucket for Nige.

“Insufferable ignorance,” said Farage, blowing some foam off his pint. “The British people will decide for themselves and I’m confident they’ll vote for prosperity and freedom.”

This goes to show that cognac out of a desk-drawer bottle is more conducive to clear thinking than bitter at the Coach & Horses can ever be. For Mr Farage based his retort on all the wrong assumptions.

First, he assumes that the British people will associate Brexit with ‘prosperity and freedom’ as unshakeably as does Mr Farage himself. That may well be wishful thinking.

Come the referendum, the British people will be on the receiving end of tonnes of propaganda chaff, burying the kernels of Brexit wheat. God, said Napoleon, is on the side of the big battalions, and the god of publicity is on the side of the big budgets.

While Brexit campaigners depend on a million here or there generously donated by chaps blessed with both pounds and sense, Junk’s British acolytes will have billions of freshly minted euros pouring into their coffers courtesy of Junk and his friends.

Pounds won’t be in short supply either, what with Dave eyeing Junk’s job as an alternative to flogging around the world like his idol Blair, to spout gibberish after black-tie dinners. For Dave to have Junk’s job, it has to be there when Dave retires, which simple thought lies at the heart of Dave’s principled commitment to Britain staying ‘at the heart of Europe’.

People capable of understanding what’s what well enough to withstand a massive propaganda offensive would indeed be able to make up their own minds. But does Mr Farage seriously think that, after 60 years of oxymoronic comprehensive education, the British people en masse fall into that category? If so, that’s another wrong assumption.

This misapprehension, however, pales by comparison with the folly of his apparent belief that, even should by some miracle the British people vote right in the referendum, Britain will leave the EU.

If history shows anything, it’s that referendum results are only ever binding if they go the EU way. If Angie et al. don’t like the outcome, they either ignore it or tell the offending nation to vote again until it gets it right.

Actually, my friend Junk has other aces up his sleeve, apart from pumping billions into a Goebbels-style propaganda campaign aimed at explaining to us that Brexit will mean we’ll be dying in the street like stray dogs.

He could pretend to offer some meaningless concessions, while Dave could pretend they are meaningful. In fact Junk hinted at this stratagem the other day, in between his seventh and eighth snifterfuls.

One day, he said, specifically when Turkey and the Balkan countries join the EU to expand its membership to “33, 34 or 35” nations, “we should rethink the European architecture with a group of countries that will do… all things together and others who will position in the orbit different from the core.”

To give material substance to Junk’s metaphor, bodies that move in orbits around the core are called satellites. That clearly is the role Junk plans, and Dave accepts, for Britain.

Sharing the orbit with Her Majesty’s former realm will be such European powerhouses as the Balkan countries and Turkey, which qualifies on the strength of five per cent of her territory actually being in Europe.

The possibility of revolving in such auspicious circles will probably sway our undereducated populace into supporting Junk’s vision and rejecting Nigel’s. That’ll only prove that Junk has a better grasp of the general geopolitical thrust of modernity.

Modern democracy is so intertwined with the notion of unlimited drifting of power towards the centre that for all intents and purposes they are one and the same. Logically, when most power is already concentrated at the centre, while the urge for more is still unquenched, powerlust has to leave national confines to seek a ganglion of intersecting urges at an outside site.

The EU thus represents a logical development of unlimited democracy, which effectively vectors political power away from individuals and their local institutions towards an inevitably denationalised elite that has more in common with similar groups abroad than with its own people.

Junk’s mind is probably too befuddled by all that cognac for him to grasp such philosophical niceties, but his instincts are of bloodhound acuity. That is more than I can say for Nigel’s instincts – though I do pray that I’m wrong and he’s right.


P.S. You can find many such subversive thoughts in my book How the West Was Lost, now available in its second (paperback and electronic) edition.  




The madness of King Charles III

At least George III waited until he was on the throne to go bonkers. The Prince of Wales has already given an indication of a premature onset – along with the hope that his accession to the eponymous title won’t happen soon.

Prince Charles ascribes the blood-soaked chaos in Syria, and generally in the Middle East to – brace yourself – climate change, “one of the major reasons for this horror.”

The disorder must still be in an early stage, for otherwise HRH would have said ‘the only reason’. But the condition is degenerative, and we have much to look forward to.

It’s hard to keep pace with the runaway train of Charles’s thought, but he does try to support this bizarre statement: “What we’re doing to our environment [creates] greater conflict over scarce resources”.

Our wanton disregard for the environment caused “five or six years of drought” in Syria; the drought caused the 2011 uprising; the uprising caused the civil war; the civil war caused 250,000 deaths; the deaths caused 11 million to run away from home; and the combined effect of all those disasters presumably caused the hundreds of massacres perpetrated by Muslims over the last 20 years (to keep the temporal perspective narrow).

All this is traceable back to anthropogenic climate change, believes our future king, so next time you whip out that aerosol spray, I hope you’ll be suitably ashamed of yourself. The blood of all those Muslims and their victims will be on your head, vicariously at least.

HRH modestly credits himself with saying those same things “twenty-something years ago”, which belies my belief that his condition is still in an early phase. Perhaps it’s only passing from chronic to acute.

This is one of the rare moments when I no longer regret that our royals aren’t allowed to play a bigger role in running the country although, to be fair, Charles couldn’t possibly be worse than Dave.

However, his firm commitment to this madcap idea is worrying. After all, the anthropogenic nature of warm weather is the first discovery in the history of science made not by scientists but by a political body, the UN as it happens.

Much as one has to respect the epic successes this organisation has achieved in its own field (Yugoslavia springs to mind, among many other examples), one has to say that the evidential base of the theory is, to be charitable, weak.

The political base, however, is massive, and the banners of fictitious global warming have drawn all the same people who oppose nuclear energy, shale gas, medical experiments on animals and everything else that can improve and prolong human lives.

However, an attempt to connect the current upsurge in Muslim aggression with this slapdash theory leaves the domain of ill-advised politicking and inability to assess evidence to enter one of a clinical problem.

To realise this, all one has to do is look at the map of the Middle East, where Israel looks like a tiny strip on Syria’s south-western edge. Indeed, the territory of Syria is nine times that of Israel, but this isn’t the point.

The point is that, since Israel is right on Syria’s border, her climate has to be roughly the same. Israel, in other words, must be suffering the same effects of climate change (at least the even more idiotic ‘global warming’ is out of fashion) as those driving so many Syrians and other Muslims to mass migration and mass murder.

Yet none of this is happening. No droughts, no uprisings, no civil wars, no urgent desire to mow down people in Western capitals. The only thing Israel seems to be suffering from is the same Muslim aggression that has been with us for 1,400 years, ever since Mohammed and his jolly friends rode out of the red-hot Arabian sands.

Perhaps HRH should reconsider the whole issue and reroute his train of thought to a track where the danger of hitting intellectual buffers is less imminent. But then his mind seems to have only one track at the moment.


P.S. You can find many such subversive thoughts in my book How the West Was Lost, now available in its second (paperback and electronic), edition.  



Two priestly reactions to one ghastly massacre

A little boy, a friend’s grandson, was asked at school what word, starting with an ‘A’, describes a person who neither believes nor disbelieves in God, but says he just doesn’t know.

It took the precocious tot a split second to come up with the answer: “Anglican”. I don’t know whether or not the boy had ever come across the word ‘agnostic’, but in either case his, correct, understanding of modern Anglicanism is telling.

This is rather worrying, for Western Christianity has only two apostolic confessions: Roman Catholicism and, as I acknowledge when in a generous mood, Anglicanism. That’s why communicants in either ought to feel empathy for each other’s plight. And even cultured agnostics, along with – God forbid – atheists, should feel the same way, for the West can’t survive without its founding creed.

The plight of the C of E is highlighted by its hierarchy. That one doesn’t detect any present-day Richard Hookers among them is both understandable and forgivable: all priests can no more be expected to be great theologians than all soldiers to be heroes.

Anglicans, however, would be within their right to expect that their archbishops firmly believe in God. One would think that even agnosticism, never mind atheism, would be a disqualifying circumstance for a prelate in the same sense in which pacifism would be for a general. Every job has its requirements.

Alas, the present Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby echoed his predecessor by saying that his faith was shaken by the Paris massacre, which, as he put it, “put a chink in [his] armour.”

One wishes someone put some armour in his chink, for his present battle suit seems to be made not of steel but of wet lavatory paper.

“Where are you [God] in all this?” asked the Archbishop and obviously received no answer that satisfied his curiosity. My contention is that any priest, never mind a prelate, who can ask this theologically illiterate question and then leave it unanswered should be summarily unfrocked.

I’m not always happy with the way the present Pope answers what Dostoyevsky called ‘the accursed questions’. But, commenting on the same tragedy, His Holiness inadvertently taught the Archbishop how to respond to such enquiries:

“We should ask for the grace to weep for this world, which does not recognise the path to peace. To weep for those who live for war and have the cynicism to deny it. God weeps, Jesus weeps.”

Implicit in this comment is the kind of understanding that, as my brilliant friend the Rev Peter Mullen says, ought to be confidently expected from any Sunday school pupil.

Such a youngster would know that God endowed man with free will, which presupposes but doesn’t predetermine the free choice between good and evil. Being omniscient, God knows which way the person will go, but he doesn’t force him to go one way or the other.

That’s where God is in all this, Your Grace. Showing us how to choose right; weeping when we choose wrong. Hoping we’d choose good, weeping when we choose evil.

Having established his theological ignorance and at best uncertain faith, the Archbishop then displayed equally shaky secular credentials.

“Two injustices do not make justice,” he said. “If we start randomly killing those who have not done wrong, that is not going to provide solutions.”

This sounds suspiciously as if he thinks that any armed response to any injustice is by definition unjust. While in theological terms this betokens woeful ignorance of the basic principle of just war, first enunciated by Augustine, in secular terms such pacifism represents a shortcut to extinction.

Oh for the Anglican bishops of yesteryear, who blessed battleships sailing off to Jutland or, in the next war, Lancaster bombers taking off to do quite a bit of ‘indiscriminate killing’ of their own.

They knew exactly what needed to be done – and where God was in all of that.


P.S. You can find many such subversive thoughts in my book How the West Was Lost, now available in its second (paperback and electronic), edition.  









Je ne suis pas Diesel

The world is barking mad and yes, it’s meant to be a pun. This melancholy observation took shape at the sight of the outburst of cloying sentimentality following the death in Paris of a police sniffer dog named Diesel.

It’s as if the tawdry response to Diana’s death came back to remind us of the salient difference between sentiment and sentimentality, real grief and PC effluvia, dignity and vulgarity. It’s as if the mob’s capacity for screaming slogans starting with ‘Je suis…’ wasn’t exhausted by the PC-mandated sorrow about the victims of Charlie Hebdo.

Even as in 1997 a mob, whipped up to frenzy by Blair’s government and the Blairite press, was bellowing at the Queen “Ma’am, show us you care!!!”, so are today’s lot busily decorating canine and sometimes even their own chests with Je suis Diesel signs.

Diesel died during a French police assault on a Jihadist stronghold, when a Muslim ‘it’ girl detonated that essential fashion accessory, the suicide vest. As a side theme, the girl herself is quite interesting, for before she tarted herself up according to the latest Islamic haute couture, she had drunk like a beached sailor, smoked like a chimney, uploaded semi-nude selfies and took men by the dozen.

Such behavioural patterns aren’t normally associated with fundamental Islam. In fact they are so contrary to it that one can be forgiven for thinking that the young lady was motivated not so much by her love of Allah as her hatred of the West.

That of course greatly exonerated her sins in the eyes of Allah, for evidently having such venomous emotions is more germane to his will than even abstinence from the basic pleasures of life. But that is by the bye, for it’s not the slapper-for-Allah who’s my main theme today, but Diesel.

By all accounts the Belgian shepherd was a nice little doggie. Well, not really little but definitely nice, a good pet when he wasn’t at work. When on the job he’d turn into a son of a bitch in more ways than one, but then that’s what he was trained to do.

On the basis of what I can glean from too many confusing reports, Diesel was the only member of the French police force to die in various shootouts. Except that, and I don’t know how to put this without offending the dog lovers among my friends, Diesel wasn’t really a member of any police force.

He was but a tool. Typologically and functionally he was closer to a police truncheon than to a police officer. Diesel was many good things: lovable, trainable, obedient, effective. There was one thing he wasn’t though: human.

Hence he wasn’t a free agent when he was picked out of many puppies to be trained for sniffing duty. He no more chose to sniff his way to glory than a truncheon chooses to come down on a truculent head. And it pains me to have to repeat that the ability to make free choices is the exclusive property of man – a simple fact known for at least 2,000 years but now well-nigh forgotten.

Neither did the anthropomorphised Diesel choose to rush towards his death. He was sicced by his trainer to do that on the correct assumption that, unlike police officers, Diesel was expendable.  

A canine life is worth next to nothing when compared to the cosmic value of a single human life, and those on the cutting edge of the on-going fight know this because to them such knowledge is a matter of life or death.

But even policemen have bosses, and some of them are more interested in public relations than in public safety. Hence Diesel was decorated with service medals for his distinguished career, and I hope he barked all the right sounds when receiving his awards.

More menacing is the general public reaction to Diesel’s death. Someone who puts a Je suis Diesel sign on his own chest, or even for that matter his dog’s, is denying his own humanity. Someone who praises Diesel for his ‘heroism’ and ‘bravery’, knows the words but not their meaning.

Both concepts derive from free will, that unique property of man that Diesel didn’t possess. The human victims of the Muslim atrocity did, yet even they can’t be legitimately described as heroes because their free will was disengaged.

They were victims – an important distinction. Similarly, most passengers of the 9/11 airliners were victims, not heroes. The heroes among them were those few who feely chose to fight the murderers, thereby probably preventing their plane from falling on the political heart of Washington.

Such little semantic nuances aren’t the whole edifice of our civilisation, but they may well be the nails holding it together. It’s for want of such nails that our civilisation has been lost, or as near as damn.


P.S. You can find many such subversive thoughts in my book How the West Was Lost, now available in its second (paperback and electronic), edition.