Yo, Blair, like what you see?

syriaMake no mistake about it: the blood of Aleppo, along with that of thousands of Anglo-American servicemen and hundreds of thousands of others is on Blair’s hands.

He lied to the people, Parliament and even his cabinet colleagues to draw the country into a criminal war initiated by a hare-brained US president.

“I am with you, whatever,” Blair wrote to George W. Bush, a blanket commitment he had no constitutional right to make without prior parliamentary endorsement. A government official who cynically violates the constitution must be legally culpable. But what interests me is the criminal stupidity of it all.

At a fundamental moral level, flattening cities full of civilians is always criminal. But it’s not always stupid.

This barbaric action may be vindicated by strategic need. Hence it’s possible to argue, as Americans often do, that dropping atom bombs on Japanese cities obviated the need for taking those islands one by one, thereby saving thousands of American lives.

For the record, sensible arguments to the contrary are also possible, but at least Hiroshima and Nagasaki were devastated in pursuit of an intelligible strategic objective. One may argue about the morality of it, but not its effectiveness. The danger Japan presented to the US disappeared.

On the other hand, rather than eliminating or even reducing danger, the criminal attack on Iraq in 2003 increased it no end – as predicted, false modesty aside, by every sensible commentator.

The operation was tactically successful, initially at any rate, but strategically inane. For the successful tactics were employed in pursuit of a false objective.

9/11 was a memento mori for Americans. That came as a shock. A nation congenitally committed to the idea of its own greatness can’t stand intimations of mortality.

Moreover, the Americans were deprived of their all-pervasive delusion that the whole world wishes to be just like them. Flying those planes into the twin towers was more than just an aggression committed. It was a myth debunked.

A response was called for. Shrieks of “We must do something!!!” resonated throughout the 50 states, and one of the voices belonged to the intellectually challenged US president George W. Bush.

Rather than formulating an intelligent and achievable strategic objective, Bush and his men were unable to rise above the din of vox populi. They were thinking not as statesmen but as American exceptionalists with injured pride.

Rather than seeing the crime in the context of 1,400 years of Muslim aggression against the West, they looked through the wrong end of the binoculars and decided that the problem was caused by a deficit of democracy in the Middle East.

It didn’t occur to them that a region where most people relieved themselves through every orifice where they stood was perhaps not quite ready for baseball, apple pie and a bicameral legislature. Hence Dubya girded his loins and rode out to eliminate those undemocratic folks who wouldn’t let the Muslims join the PTAs and the Little Leagues.

He didn’t realise that all those beastly Saddams, Mubaraks and Gaddafis were safety valves in the bubbling cauldron of barely contained violence. Eliminate the safety valves, and the whole world will be burnt in the ensuing eruption.

Blair responded to Bush’s “Yo, Blair” with canine devotion, lying and cheating all the way to a full-blown British involvement. A blood-soaked chaos followed.

The danger wasn’t eliminated; it was enhanced by many degrees of magnitude. Not just America but the whole world became imperilled as a direct result.

What would have been the proper response? First, real statesmen must be prepared to deal with life as it is, not as they wish it to be. As it is, there exists a 1.6-billion-strong Islamic world ideologically committed to conquering the world. This ambition has only ever been kept in check when the West was sufficiently strong and resolute.

When the West was vacillating and weak, the Muslims would conquer half of Europe. When their ears were pinned back by the likes of Charles Martel and Jan Sobieski, their passion would ebb for some time, until another chastisement was needed. It was Muslim passions, red-hot at the moment, that singed America in 2001.

The first strategic objective in dealing with aggression should be downgrading the enemy’s capability to escalate or indeed continue hostile action. That means depriving the enemy of its source of strength, whatever it is. Hence attacks on airfields, armament factories, command centres etc. are logical tactics in conventional modern wars.

But Islam’s strength doesn’t come from airfields and armament factories. Today’s Islam is like Antaeus – its strength comes from the earth, specifically the part of it housing oilfields. Take them away, and Islamic power will dissipate.

That should have led Bush, Blair et al. to formulating a strategic response centred on the takeover of Middle Eastern oilfields, including those of Saudi Arabia and Iran. Effectively that would have amounted to the recolonisation of the Middle East and keeping it in that state until Muslim passions died out.

No talk of regime changes, democracy, apple pie and the PTA. Just the Raj all over again, a realpolitik dish served with the sauce of liberal interventionism.

There might have been other sensible options to be considered. There were only two utterly stupid, and therefore criminal, things to do: nothing and what Bush-Blair actually did.

Now US and UK government spokesmen shed crocodile tears at the sight of all those mangled bodies in Aleppo. Who could have done such an awful thing?

The answer is that the bombs were dropped by Assad and Putin, the immediate culprits and unapologetic barbarians.

But the ultimate fault lies with the supposedly civilised Bush and Blair, prevented from thinking strategically by their corrupt morals, weak minds and wholehearted commitment to PC populism with its defunct, if vote-getting, democratic slogans.

They started it, and the scary thing is that there’s no end in sight.



“Drink-driving law is a ass”

bumbleDickens’s Mr Bumble would feel vindicated if he read about Yaya Touré’s conviction for drinking and driving.

I realise that no rational argument is possible when modernity’s sanctimonious dander is up. Over the limit? Off with his head.

But do let’s pretend we still live in a sane world where one could doubt everything except God. That world would distinguish between malum prohibitum and malum in se. The latter is wrong intrinsically; the former, only because it’s prohibited.

I’d suggest that drinking and driving is a clear-cut case of malum prohibitum. This, though statistical data doubtless show that alcohol is occasionally a contributing factor in fatal accidents.

But since when do we arrest people on statistical probability? For example, a black man is statistically more likely to commit a crime than a white one. Does this mean all black men should be arrested preventively?

There’s some reductio ad absurdum here, but not that much. Yes, a driver whose blood content of alcohol is higher than some arbitrarily established limit (for example, in France it’s half ours – does it take more to get us drunk?) is breaking a law. But the law isn’t just, and such laws never command much respect.

What kills people is bad driving, not drinking and driving. If someone drives dangerously, say tailgating at high speeds or swerving between lanes on motorways (the French routinely do both even when sober), then by all means throw the book at him.

But stopping a driver for no reason and then punishing him because his reflexes have supposedly been made slower by one glass of wine too many doesn’t strike me as just.

For example, I’m blessed with very quick reflexes, which have been further honed by a lifetime of playing tennis, much of it at the net. So even after drinking half a bottle of wine and thereby losing 20 per cent of my reaction time, I’d probably still be faster to react than my stone-sober octogenarian neighbour. Yet she’s deemed legal whereas I wouldn’t be.

If accidents caused by drunk drivers were a widespread problem (and Britain’s rate of road deaths is by far the lowest in Europe), then a better solution would be to treat a fatal accident caused by a drunk driver as murder, punishable by a mandatory life sentence. That, I dare say, would be a stronger deterrent than a year’s ban and a fine.

So much for the crime. Now let’s discuss punishment, specifically one meted out to Touré. For in any sane world that would constitute a gross miscarriage of justice.

This supposedly teetotal Muslim drank from a jug of diet Coke supposedly without realising it was laced with brandy, which put him at twice the drink-driving limit. Now, as far as I’m concerned, anyone drinking such revolting concoctions should be imprisoned for this gross lapse of taste alone, even if he doesn’t drive afterwards.

The addition of brandy would make diet Coke even more disgusting, and personally I’d doubt the veracity of a man who claims he couldn’t tell the difference. Such lack of discernment also calls for a summary conviction.

Such facetious comments aside, let’s accept for the sake of argument that, malum prohibitum or no, Touré deserved to be banned and fined.

The length of the ban he received, 18 months, is more or less normal for someone found to be twice over the limit. But the fine of £54,000 strikes me as ever so slightly excessive, not to mention draconian. This is roughly 50 times more than the usual penalty for this transgression because the fine was means-tested.

Since Mr Touré gets £200,000 a week in salary alone, and probably as much again in endorsements and image rights, he is a wealthy man – so much is true.

The logic behind means-testing is that for a rich man like Mr Touré a normal fine wouldn’t constitute much of a punishment. He probably tips parking attendants that much.

By the same logic, even £54,000 isn’t very punitive either, considering that Mr Touré makes as much in just over a day. But we’ll let it pass and concentrate instead on the diabolical injustice of means-tested punishments in general.

For one thing it contravenes the sacred principle of British jurisprudence: the same law for all. But even putting that aside for a moment, this practice isn’t only unjust but also illogical.

Why single out fines? What about prison sentences? It could be argued that imprisonment isn’t that much of a punishments for a chap who has been in and out of the pokey since his early teens and who still has friends from his last stint left inside. At the same time, even a few months in prison is a severe punishment for a middle-aged accountant who got a little too creative.

So why not apply means testing to that? Sentence the accountant to two months instead of a year, and the serial burglar to 10 instead of one. Good idea? No?

Well, I don’t see any substantive difference between that and fleecing Mr Touré for the same infraction most people would be fined £1,000. Mr Bumble, ring your office.

Learn Russian, ladies and gentlemen

rtNot being able to read Gogol and Tolstoy in the original is unfortunate but hardly lethal. One’s physical survival isn’t threatened by reading those chaps in translation only, or for that matter not at all.

However, not being able to follow Russian newspapers and TV shows may have such a fatal effect. Granted, the official line of Putin’s government comes across on RT and other Anglophone propaganda channels.

Their Western viewers are the target of disinformation, whose techniques were honed within the good offices of the KGB’s First Directorate. Not every intended target is reached, but most receive at least glancing hits.

KGB disinformation artists paint a rosy picture of a Russia espousing every conservative value.

It’s conservative values that are stressed because, unlike the USSR, Putin’s KGB Russia cultivates her ‘useful idiots’ on the right of the political spectrum. Hence Russia comes across as the last bastion of Christianity committed to peace, love and heterosexual marriage.

It’s a tragic mistake, screams RT, to confuse today’s Russia with the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is dead and it’ll never do a Lazarus.

Yet Putin’s propaganda vindicates Euclid by having two parallel lines that never converge. One is designed for the West, the other for home consumption.

One comes across in English, the other in Russian and never the twain shall meet. Only occasionally do translations of Russian-language utterances reach Western ears, usually when the speaker is either Putin or one of his top ministers.

Thus even monolingual Anglophones are aware that Putin regards the break-up of the Soviet Union 25 years ago as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century”. Implicitly that suggests that he sees his mission as reversing the catastrophe by reconquering the former constituent republics (and everything else he can get while at it).

But that implication may well be drowned by RT’s explicit assurances of Russia’s peaceful intentions, her decisive break with the Soviet past and her urgent desire to be friends with the West, if only the West would let her.

That deluge drowns not only the odd bits of information to the contrary seeping out of Russia at times, but also the brains of Putin’s Western fans. That inundation is indeed mortally dangerous.

For strategic deception always pursues strategic objectives. In this case, Russia is trying to demoralise NATO and the West by corrupting public opinion, which still exercises tremendous power over our government by focus group.

This strategy is succeeding, in part by enabling Putin’s useful idiots to acquire key political appointments in the West. Putin’s name was shouted by the Italian opponents of Renzi, Turkey has just appointed dozens of Putin’s admirers to important diplomatic posts in the West and NATO, the run-off in the next French presidential election is likely to be contested by two of Putin’s fans, Bulgaria and several other Eastern European countries are being run by Putin’s acolytes, the leaders of our own UKIP drool at the very mention of Putin’s name.

And let’s not forget the US President-elect who doesn’t bother to conceal his friendship with, and admiration for, Putin. As to Rex Tillerson, about to be appointed US Secretary of State, he was personally decorated by Putin for services rendered.

Both Trump and Tillerson have extensive business dealings with Russia – and a vested interest in discontinuing Western economic sanctions against her. Given a slightly different intellectual climate, this might be regarded as conflict of interest in some quarters – yet nobody seems to mind.

None of this would be possible if the public were able to follow the parallel, domestic, line of Russian Russophone propaganda. Then everyone would know that today’s rulers of Russia are committed to recreating the Soviet Union in all its tyrannical glory, if with different institutional symbols and jargon.

Thus, for example, Dmitry Kisilev, officially known as Putin’s mouthpiece and unofficially as his Goebbels, speaking on his TV show, the most influential one in Russia:

“Much of the Soviet Union survives. It seems that the main things aren’t material. The main thing, invaluable for the whole mankind, is the experience of the grandiose social experiment we staged on ourselves. Its goal was creating paradise on earth, a good life for everyone. And much of it succeeded. We literally moved mountains, creating the material foundations of communism. Our economy still rests on those foundations. And very warm Soviet features so dear to us are still surviving in our character.”

The “grandiose social experiment” enslaved Russia and half the world, destroyed millions of lives, reduced work to servitude, the press to nauseating propaganda and government to the worst tyranny ever known in history.

Those who know and deplore this should take Kisilev’s harangues at face value, including his threat to “turn America to radioactive dust” – especially since variations on the same theme are beamed at the Russians round the clock by all sorts of sources, including Putin himself.

Listen to the tyrants, ladies and gentlemen. Unlike our politicians, they usually mean and do what they say. The entire history of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany could have been forecast – and possibly changed – by taking seriously the works of Lenin and Hitler.

But in order to take a despot’s words seriously, one has to understand the language in which they’re uttered. That gets us back to the title of this article.

And ze opened ze mouth and taught them…

transgenderIf this version of Matthew 5:2 sounds odd, you don’t belong in our top universities.

For the sentence represents the twin peaks of modern lexicology, one scaled by Oxbridge, the other, with all due modesty yet justified pride, by me.

If you feel the pain of others as acutely as your own, you must behold the peaks with appropriate awe. For you must toss and turn through the night, weeping over verbal discrimination against gender-fluid and transgender people.

Even the earliest sentences written in English contained, with nary a thought for their offensive potential, the pronouns ‘he’ and ‘she’ – not to mention their equally lacerating derivatives ‘his’, ‘her’ and ‘hers’.

Those pronouns were like knives going through the heart of every gender-fluid person millennia before this indispensable adjective was even coined or the surgical transgender option became available.

Yet those sieve-like hearts aren’t beyond healing. The cardiac holes are beginning to close thanks to a therapeutic diktat issued to Oxford students. Henceforth they shall replace ‘he’ and ‘she’ with the mellifluous neologism ‘ze’.

This explains the first ‘ze’ in the title, which corrects the crass oversight committed by Lancelot Andrewes et al. who dared refer to Jesus as ‘he’ in their grossly outdated version of the Bible.

While I wish I had come up with the ‘ze’ breakthrough, I must give credit where it’s so richly due. But I can claim some for myself too.

For the same sample phrase mentions ‘his mouth’, which undoes some of the good work by being unacceptably gender-specific. Yes, a ready-made solution can be found in the ubiquitous word ‘their’, now doing the sensitivity job in addition to its own.

However, while the phrase “And ze opened their mouth…” is unobjectionable in terms of either sensitivity or aesthetics, it creates an unnecessary theological ambiguity. This involves the dual nature of Christ, the fact that ze is an hypostasis of the Trinity and other things too involved to ponder here.

Hence my ingenuous solution: replacing ‘his’ with ‘the’. But so many English words work at several tiers of meaning, and my second ‘ze’ is no exception.

Spelling ‘the’ that way makes it easy for our German and French EU friends to scale the otherwise daunting phonetic barrier of English interdental sounds. This second ‘ze’ thus strikes a double blow for sensitivity to both gender-fluid and nation-fluid persons, whose plight happens to excite me with equal passion.

In general, as a lifelong student of English I welcome any new additions to this great language, especially those inspired by newfound empathy and sensitivity.

The innovations mentioned are paralleled in a guidebook Can I Tell You About Gender Diversity? sponsored by Educate and Celebrate, an organisation funded by your taxes – and what better use can you find for some loose change?

The book is “much-needed” as an educational guide, according to Elly Barnes, the founder of Educate and Celebrate. “Not everyone identifies as male or female – that is fact,” ze said.

Indeed it is. Some people identify as male, some as female, some as neither, some as both, some as dogs and some as trees. Branding such people as abnormal would imply that there’s such a thing as the norm, which we know isn’t true.

After all, even the forward-looking St Paul acknowledged that “there is neither male nor female”, although theological pedants will no doubt argue that the Apostle meant something other than gender-fluidity.

The next thing will be to correct the English language to bring together every possible variant of self-identification (provided we keep those who identify as dogs apart from those who see themselves as trees), but at least a step has been made in the right direction.

Or rather many steps, for the book also comes up with other suggestions to facilitate “medical transitioning for children aged seven and above”.

My personal favourites, apart from the beautiful coinage ‘transitioning’ itself, include such essential words as “cisgender” (children who stubbornly identify with their original sex), “genderqueer” and “panromantic” (children ready to jump anything with a pulse and a few things without).

How can anyone not feel overjoyed about the new blood injected into our tired old tongue? One person who can’t contain himself is Peter Tatchell, that heroic campaigner for every perve… sorry, I almost let slip a word that ought to be excised from dictionaries. Equal rights, is what I mean.

“Giving people the ‘ze’ option is a thoughtful, considerate move,” ze said. “It’s about respecting people’s right to define themselves as neither male nor female.”

Cambridge wouldn’t be outdone by its old rival, as proved by Sophie Buck, the welfare officer at its students’ union. Ze said: “Events start with a speaker introducing themselves using a gender-neutral pronoun.” ‘Themselves’ implies that the speaker suffers from the multiple personality disorder, which too must be respected.

By now you must be feeling terribly lost among the surfeit of things you must respect, to say nothing of a whole new lexicon with which such respect must be communicated. But don’t worry, I’ll keep you straight – and I don’t mean that the way it sounds.

Does anti-Israel mean anti-Semitic?

AntisemitismoI refuse to sit on the fence whenever this question is posed. My reply is a resounding yes and no.

Yes, if the sentiment is anti-Israel qua Israel. No, or rather not necessarily, if it’s aimed against this or that policy of Israel’s government.

Israel came into existence in the wake of a genocidal catastrophe. The awful aspect of it wasn’t just the crime itself but the wide spread of its perpetrators and accomplices.

In his book Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Daniel Goldhagen destroyed the myth that most Germans didn’t know what was going on. But Goldhagen limited his inquiry to Germany only.

Another book ought to be written about the enthusiasm with which so many Eastern Europeans, all those Balts, Ukrainians, Poles, Russians, Hungarians, Romanians and so on, jumped on the Holocaust bandwagon. Their ardour in murdering Jews in zoologically cruel ways predated and exceeded the efforts of the Germans themselves, although, to be fair, it didn’t take them long to catch up.

The behaviour of Western Europeans was marginally better, but not wholly blameless.

Vichy France, for example, started deporting Jews before the Germans actually demanded it. And, while the Dutch are justifiably proud that a Dutch family hid Anne Frank, they should also be justifiably ashamed that a Dutch informer betrayed her and a Dutch policeman led her to the slaughter.

Yet another book should describe the sluggishness with which the Allies, including Britain, accepted Jewish refugees – this even after realising that slow hospitality meant quick death. Today’s Europe is much more eager to welcome migrants from Syria, although, compared to European Jews in the ‘30s and ‘40s, they’re much less imperilled and much more alien to our culture.

That lethal acquiescence, sometimes active participation, in genocide ran up a huge moral debt owed to Jews by what used to be called Christendom. Its – far from uniform and often lukewarm – support for the founding of Israel in 1948 was self-acknowledged as partial repayment.

Israel was established as an independent Jewish state in a region where its survival as Jewish, independent or indeed a state would always be touch and go.

The Israelis have created arguably the world’s best army, but the numbers game is stacked against them. It’s reasonably clear that without Western military aid the nation will sooner or later succumb to the kind of aggression it has successfully repelled five times in its short history.

That wouldn’t be any old military defeat. It would be Holocaust Mark II: we’re being served another demonstration, as if any more were necessary, of how Muslims deal with their enemies. Without cutting too fine a point, without Western aid, millions of Jews will again die horrible deaths.

That puts Western, especially US, support for Israel in a proper perspective. Opposition to Israel qua Israel and a concomitant campaign to withdraw Western aid, such as the one championed in the US by Pat Buchanan, is tantamount to a) repudiating the aforementioned moral debt and b) condoning genocide.

(Interestingly, however, the centre of anti-Semitism has generally shifted leftwards. For example, anti-Semitic scandals bedevil Labour, not the Tories. Considering the rabid anti-Semitism of Marx and other spiritual fathers of the Left, this isn’t surprising.)

This trumps the legitimate but tertiary strategic, idealistic or even religious considerations. That Jewish scripture is such a significant part of Christianity that our civilisation, and especially its morality, is referred to as Judaeo-Christian is an important point, but one largely invalidated by creeping secularism.

That Israel is the West’s most reliable, and sole democratic, ally in the Middle East is true but not indisputably valid. The West has no moral duty to support every democratic regime. Not all such regimes are benign, nor are all non-democratic regimes evil. Some of the former may well be anti-, and some of the latter pro-, Western.

As to strategic alliances, they’re by their nature fluid and not always dependent on political commonality. Britain and the US, for example, were allied with Stalin’s Russia and at war with democratic Finland.

Western support for Israel thus rests mainly on moral and thus unimpeachable foundations, while hostility to Israel qua Israel is definitely anti-Semitic with a strong genocidal tinge.

Moreover, there’s a longstanding tradition of using anti-Zionism as camouflage for anti-Semitism. Even in modern British papers, to say nothing of the Soviet papers of my childhood, one finds cartoons of Israeli villains indistinguishable from the Jews so lovingly depicted in Der Stürmer.

All things considered, equating hatred of Israel with hatred of Jews is bona fide. That, however, doesn’t mean that criticising this or that policy of Israel’s government automatically brands one as an anti-Semite.

Israel may be too socialist for some or not socialist enough for others. Some may believe it oversteps the boundaries of necessary self-defence, others may think it’s too reticent. And so forth, ad infinitum.

All this is part of a course charted towards the destination of free discussion. Deviating from the course means disavowing the destination.

However, the intellectual ship is cast adrift whenever someone like Pat Buchanan or Jeremy Corbyn opposes, if not in so many words, the very existence of Israel as a Jewish state for which multiculturalism spells slow death – and withdrawal of Western aid, instant extinction.

















The only good Muslim is a bad Muslim

Norwegian MuslimsOur papers are filled with Muslim apologetics, essentially saying that there’s nothing about Islam that can possibly prevent its exponents from effortlessly adapting to any Western society.

This claim is an article of secular faith and therefore impervious to rational argument, appeals to history or Islamic scripture and indeed the avalanche of empirical evidence before our very eyes.

That last should by itself clinch the argument for anyone who genuinely desires to find the truth rather than merely ventilate an ideological bias. Rather than inclusivity and pluralism claimed for Islam by the Oxford imam Dr Hargey et al., Islam manifestly promotes resentful particularism.

After all, the conditions of virtual apartheid in which so many British Muslims live are self-imposed, rather than thrust down their throats by an oppressive government. Anyone who wishes to become British in every other than just the legal sense can do so without hindrance, and I would be the first one to cheer.

Life within those self-imposed ghettos isn’t necessarily all bad. In fact, there are many things in Islam that we might envy.

Respect for one’s elders and the tradition they embody, the importance of family, widespread worship, contempt for drunkenness, drugs and pornography – these are all admirable, taken one by one. However, when mixed with less admirable features, they add up to a civilisation that’s incompatible with ours.

It was the Russian philosopher Valdimir Soloviov (d. 1900) who remarked that too many Christians aren’t true to their great religion, while too many Muslims are true to their bad one. Such devoutness isn’t always voluntary.

Unlike Christianity, which was spread by suicidal missionaries, Islam was spread by homicidal warriors. Coerced conversion was the order of the day, and Muslims have never been encouraged to question their faith – and always discouraged to leave it. The punishment for apostasy is death, and good Muslims still don’t regard this as a quaint anachronism.

There are some 300 verses in the Koran, conservatively counted, that prescribe violence, plus 41 calling for jihad. Unlike the violent passages in the Old Testament, these are all open-ended, not tied into a particular situation or historical context.

This alone – before we’ve even begun to discuss Muslim matrimonial practices, treatment of women, dress code and some such – should suffice to show that Islam, for all its sterling qualities, cannot be automatically presumed to foster traditional British moderation in its adherents.

This isn’t to say that all Muslims are avid killers of infidels and apostates. Far from it. Some of them are Muslims in the same sense in which Leon Trotsky was a Jew or Richard Dawkins is a Christian.

They were born to a faith whose practices they don’t really follow and whose dictates they don’t necessarily obey. Such Muslims may indeed be really moderate – what they aren’t is really Muslims.

The argument that violent Muslim zealots constitute only a minority doesn’t quite wash either, even though I’m sure it’s technically true. Every outburst of mass aggression has always been instigated and led by a small cadre of impassioned elite turning the inert masses into lemmings.

This holds true for the American Founders who professed to be acting on behalf of the people, whereas most of the people were either indifferent or downright hostile to their cause.

It was the case with the handful of French and Russian revolutionaries who then proceeded to annihilate millions of those in whose name they were allegedly acting.

It’s also true of ‘Islamism’, which is the PC for Islam.

There’s nothing new about these comments, heretical as they may sound to modern ears half-deafened by progressivist din amplified by the newly hatched (and often legally enforced) PC orthodoxy.

A few decades ago even schoolchildren would have shared the common perception of Islam, as enunciated, among many others, by Winston Churchill: “No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytising faith.”

Today’s commentators can’t express themselves so forthrightly in the mainstream press. They’re expected to profess acceptance of Dr Hargey’s assurances that Islam is inclusive and pluralistic. Only the inveterate cynics among us dare say “Yeah, yeah, known for it”, and then only in private or at best on line.

I don’t think our papers should open their pages to Muslims and their apologists when they utter demonstrable falsehoods. Freedom of the press doesn’t, or at least shouldn’t, protect freedom of alien propaganda full of deliberately misleading lies.

Such openness makes us strategically vulnerable. Public opinion still matters in Britain and, while few readers of our newspapers are likely to develop particularly warm feelings about Islam, many may well accept the mythical difference between Islam and Islamism as real.

If sufficiently widespread, this public sentiment may have an adverse effect on policy, if only by giving our congenitally vacillating government an excuse to replace muscular response with, at best, police action.

Meanwhile, Mrs May gave a dressing-down to Boris Johnson for daring to say that the Saudis are involved in all sorts of beastliness by proxy. The ensuing debate revolves around the trade deals Mr Johnson’s frankness may jeopardise, rather than on whether or not his statement is true.

Post-truth society indeed.


What’s wrong with populism?

rallyQuite a lot, I’d suggest.

Nothing, goes Douglas Murray’s typically impassioned argument in The Mail. Populism is “the BBC’s new buzzword, being used to sneer at the ‘uneducated’ 17 million who voted for Brexit”.

This disagreement points at the inadequacy of political taxonomy in general. If an English conservative wants to preserve Western civilisation and a Russian conservative wants to destroy it, or if an Australian liberal wishes to limit state power and an American liberal wishes to increase it, then one may be forgiven for doubting the value of those terms.

Populism is a way to excite grassroots sentiments by appealing directly to the masses over the head of established political institutions. If so, the very fact that Brexit was settled in a referendum makes it an exercise in populism on either side of the watershed.

Hence our view of populism is in this context affected by how we feel about the referendum’s outcome. Since the BBC doesn’t like the result, it uses the term ‘populism’ pejoratively. Murray, on the other hand, is happy with the result, which is why his feelings about populism are warm to the point of being febrile.

The BBC makes its evaluation of populism contingent on the result it yields. But then so does Murray: when populism produces a Brexit, he likes it. Presumably, when it produces a Hitler, who goes on to kill six million Jews, Murray’s view of populism changes.

That means his heart is in the right place: all decent people believe that Britain must regain her sovereignty, and all such people deplore democide. However, one may doubt that such taxonomic relativism testifies to a particular depth of thought.

A fair argument can be made that unchecked democracy ineluctably degenerates into populism. That has been clear to political thinkers since the time Plato referred to democracy as ‘mob rule’ and, 2,000 years later, John Adams was terrified to see that the American republic he had co-founded was turning into a democracy.

However, modern democracy still tends to preserve some residual checks, in my view insufficient but still not nonexistent. Populism leapfrogs them and lands in the midst of the troubled waters of vox populi, which, upon examination, turn out to be a morass.

Murray’s ideologically neoconservative commitment to Democracy (always implicitly capitalised) prevents him from seeing that vox populi can be confidently expected to strike false notes more often than true ones.

The Germans were denied the opportunity to vote for Hitler after 1933, but, given the chance in, say, 1938, they would have given the Nazis a landslide. Moving from Past Subjunctive to Present Continuous, the Russians are supporting their criminal KGB junta in overwhelming numbers, and many Cubans are mourning the death of the worst tyrant in their history.

Staying with that grammatical tense, one can’t help noticing that Putin’s name is emblazoned on the banners of the European populist movements that are producing results Murray likes so much.

Bulgaria’s Ataka Party, France’s National Front, Belgium’s Vlaams Belang, Greece’s Golden Dawn, Hungary’s Jobbik, Italy’s Forza Italia, Austria’s Freedom Party are all locked in passionate embrace with Putin. And even some leaders of our own dear UKIP are known to admire Putin’s crypto-fascist junta.

This intercourse isn’t wholly disinterested: France’s NF, Hungary’s Jobbik and Denmark’s People’s Party are known to have helped themselves to Putin’s rouble. I don’t know about the others, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case with them too.

Even a good populist cause attracts bad people – to this law there are no known exceptions. For example, as the Crusaders were moving toward the Holy Land, all sorts of creepy-crawlies came along for the ride. Hence the murders, rapes and looting that cast aspersion on the Crusades in perpetuity – even though their cause was just and noble.

Populism always introduces an element of entropy into politics, when rabble-rousing may turn politics into mob rule. Any serious, and especially conservative, political thinker has to be wary of the resulting potential for disaster.

The subterranean tremors in European politics are producing tectonic shifts, and the long-term outcome is unpredictable. In the short term, the EU seems to be moribund, and, if so, hooray. But then what?

When tectonic plates smash together, eruptions ensue. What sort of lava will this particular eruption disgorge? I don’t know, Murray doesn’t know, and nobody knows.

The EU is a wicked contrivance lacking legitimacy on any historical, moral or intellectual level. In purely empirical terms, it’s mainly responsible for creating a social powder keg ready to go off at any moment, with assorted populists lighting the wick. For contrivances like that never just fizzle out – they go out with a bang.

But would we be happy with Putin’s Russians acting as feudals to Europe’s vassals? European anti-EU populism is already tinged with fascism – do we want it to reach tropistically for the fascist sun shining out of a certain portion of Putin’s anatomy?

Implosion of the EU is likely to create troubled economic waters, in which national-populist demagogues will profitably fish. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t wish for that vile construct to disappear, but it does mean we should be on guard against populism – and take every measure to protect ourselves from its inevitable excesses.


Another neocon weathervane

niall_fergusonMy book Democracy as a Neocon Trick was published in 2014, but the elasticity of the neoconservative conscience continues to fascinate me.

Neocons think like apparatchiks mouthing the party line: all that matters to them is knowing the wind direction. Their answer is always blowin’ in the wind, which makes their writing look as if it all came from the same author.

Their arguments, treatment of facts, conclusions are as identical as those of the party apparatchiks from my Soviet childhood. Even the British authors, nice gentlemen sporting bespoke suits and expensive accents, are indistinguishable from their American Parteigenossen.

Like any apparatchik, a neocon will change his mind whenever the wind changes. For example, a hack may be sputtering venom at the very mention of Trump’s name until the very moment the election result has been announced – and then, with nary a blush, proclaim the very next day that the result is cordially welcomed.

Considering this collective propensity, it’s astonishing that Niall Ferguson has waited almost six months to do an about-face on Brexit. Such tardiness testifies to his self-restraint: the temptation must have been strong not to wait even six minutes. It doesn’t, however, testify to his honesty.

Yesterday he tweeted his change of heart by listing EU failures: “1 Monetary union 2 Foreign policy (MENA, Ukraine) 3 Migration policy 4 Radical Islam policy. EU deserved Brexit.”

Now which of these failures weren’t evident six months ago? The EU’s monetary union was then as disastrous, foreign policy as craven, migration policy as catastrophic, radical Islam policy as supine. Nevertheless Ferguson was then responding to the clarion call of compulsive internationalism that neocons hear in every tonal detail.

In his mea culpa, Ferguson adds: “My mistake was uncritically defending Cameron and Osborne instead of listening to people in pubs. Issue was not GDP but future migration.”

The issue was neither GDP nor even future migration, but political sovereignty and upholding the constitution of the realm. All else is strictly derivative. If a professional historian and commentator doesn’t realise that, he should take a remedial class in his chosen disciplines or, better still, abandon them altogether.

I know this may come as a surprise to Ferguson, but one doesn’t have to choose between poodle-like loyalty to the neocon cause and heeding boozy rants in pubs. Another epistemological expedient exists: it’s called intellectual integrity and sound judgement. But then what do you expect from a paid-up neocon apparatchik?

During the run-up to the referendum, Ferguson was true to the Trotskyist genesis of neoconservatism. In that good tradition, he eschewed rational argument, opting instead for vile invective.

Words like ‘morons’ happily rolled off his pen whenever that implement made contact with paper. His articles Fog in Channel: Brexiteers Isolated from Britain’s Duty to Save Europe and Brexit’s Happy Morons Don’t give a Damn About the Costs of Leaving were filled with vituperative diatribes, masking the crepuscular thinking in the background.

His stock in trade was rhetorical fallacies, such as argumentum ad populum: the belief that a proposition is true because many people support it. Thus Ferguson took a roll-call of “leading historians” and found out that more of them supported Remain. Specifically, “70 historians gathered at 11 Downing Street to affirm their support for EU membership.”

The remote possibility that historians who think differently weren’t invited to George Osborne’s home didn’t occur to Ferguson – he forged right ahead, undeterred by elementary demands of intellectual honesty.

He then switched from fallacy to sycophancy: “US administrations since the heyday of Henry Kissinger have consistently favoured UK membership in the EU.” True. So what?

Recent US administrations may indeed have believed that such a development would be in American interests, but Ferguson’s argument is meaningless – unless of course he thinks, as he probably does, that our interests are always identical with American ones, especially as seen by US neocons.

Then came the clincher: “the president of the United States… advised against Brexit”. That argument relied on the universal agreement that Obama is blessed with near-papal infallibility. Since little in his record supports that belief, this was yet another infantile rhetorical so-what.

“No one can seriously deny,” continued Ferguson, “that the process of European integration has brought an end to centuries of Franco-German conflict and has settled the German question for good.”

QED. If you dare deny, you aren’t serious. Ferguson must have attended the Trotsky class in polemic techniques. He certainly skipped the Aristotle one in logic.

What “settled the German question for good” was the military castration imposed on Germany by the victorious allies in 1945 and since then enforced by Nato. France, whose belonging to the victorious alliance wasn’t entirely unequivocal, is consequently stronger than Germany militarily, if weaker in every other respect.

On and on he then went, bristling with effrontery, mouthing platitudes that any moderately intelligent man knew to be not only clichéd but also false. Nothing presaged the about-face to come.

Now Ferguson has performed his pirouette, many of those “happy morons” who campaigned for Brexit all along are welcoming him as one of their own. I’d happily do the same if only I could contain the emetic impulse. Alas I can’t, and my wife disapproves of throwing up on the floor.


There’s no such thing as religion

hilairebellocHilaire Belloc argued that there isn’t even such a thing as Christianity. There’s only the teaching of the Church and variously heretical deviations therefrom.

Belloc might have overstressed the point. However, this doesn’t mean he didn’t have a point.

It’s impossible to lump together under the same rubric Catholicism with, say, Christian Science. The Christ worshipped by the former has little to do with the Christ venerated by the latter.

So much more intellectually frivolous it then is to believe that various creeds, such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism, are sufficiently similar to be classed together as ‘religion’.

‘Intellectually frivolous’ can segue into downright cretinous in the able hands of Richard Dawkins who disavows ‘religion’ because of the profusion of terrorist acts perpetrated in its name. The syllogism is simple, and idiotic in its simplicity: Muslims commit terrorist acts; Muslims are religious; therefore the fault lies with religion in general.

It would be unchivalrous to apply pejorative modifiers like ‘idiotic’ to Rachel Sylvester. Alas, her comments on Dame Louise Casey’s report on integration suggest that Miss Sylvester in particular suffers the deficit of logic ascribed to her sex in general.

In broad strokes, the report says that many Muslims live in self-imposed apartheid, often to the point of not realising that Britain isn’t actually a Muslim country.

Dame Louise attaches most of the blame to the Muslims themselves, but also some to our government, so eager to accommodate diversity that it has “ignored or even condoned regressive, divisive and harmful cultural and religious practices for fear of being branded racist or Islamophobic”.

Thus many Muslim children speak bad English, live in Islamic enclaves and go to schools where all pupils are Muslims. That makes them ripe for radicalism.

The diagnosis is good – now what’s the conclusion? Oxford imam Dr Taj Hargey offers some sensible ones in his Mail article. He correctly blames uncontrolled immigration, accompanied by a manifest lack of effort on the part of the government to make sure migrants coming to Britain accept what Britain is.

Dr Hargey proposes solutions: making sure that new arrivals take an oath of allegiance, learn English, repudiate rites that contravene British law, attend mixed schools and so forth.

This is a logical response to Dame Louise’s report, even though Dr Hargey’s measures aren’t going to succeed because his key premise is wrong: he rebukes “Wahhabi-Salafists” because “they reject the inclusive and pluralistic ethos of Islam’s scripture…”

By ascribing inclusiveness and pluralism to Islamic ethos Dr Hargey loses some of the merit points in my estimation. If taken to task on the issue, he’d no doubt cite many inclusive and pluralistic verses from the Koran, ignoring one minor detail.

Mohamed dictated most of them while still in Mecca. When he took over Medina, he began to kill people in large numbers, justifying such activities in the Koran. As a result, the Islamic holy book contains 300-odd verses explicitly calling for the killing – or, at a kinder moment, ostracism – of Christians and Jews.

Islamic scholars solve the contradictions by applying ‘abrogation’: in case of conflict, the later verses take precedence. The Centre for the Study of Political Islam (CSPI) estimates that the ‘religion of peace’ takes abrogation seriously: it has killed 270 million infidels in the 1,400 years it has been in business.

I’m sure that intelligent Muslims like Dr Hargey can find a way of reconciling their faith (and its theology) with being loyal British subjects. But anyone who holds a realistic view of human nature has to realise that such Muslims constitute a minority so infinitesimal that it wouldn’t make a dent in the findings of Dame Louise’s report.

Also, the ‘British values’ that Dr Hargey wants the Muslims to embrace understandably exclude Christianity, the core of every other ‘value’. A quick look at the Queen’s 1952 coronation oath will confirm that Britain is constituted as a Christian commonwealth, which must create a problem for any devout Muslim, even one as intelligent as Dr Hargey.

But at least he doesn’t defy logic. Dame Louise has identified the problems; Dr Hargey proposes solutions, perfectly logical if perhaps unrealistic. But Miss Sylvester, while accepting Dame Louise’s findings, lets her sex down yet again by following up with staggering non sequiturs, which seems to be her stock in trade.

Because Muslim children grow up in ghettos and attend schools with no white faces around, Miss Sylvester thinks Mrs May should abandon her professed commitment to faith schools. Not specifically Muslim schools, but all of them, including Catholic and Anglican ones.

“[Mrs May’s] aim is to encourage diversity of provision,” writes Miss Sylvester, “but the change will surely also deepen divisions at a time when religion is the source of so much tension and concern.”

“Religion”, my dear Miss Sylvester, is “the source of so much tension and concern” only to intellectually disadvantaged ignoramuses who know little about either religion or Britain, and understand even less.

It’s not too much religion that’s the problem. It’s too much Islam.

Christianity underpins British culture and civilisation, along with its every law and institution. Christian schools, which incidentally provide much better general education than comprehensives, teach that.

Hence the more British pupils attend Christian schools, the more civilised they – and Britain – will be. The more Muslim children attend Muslim schools, the less civilised they – and Britain – will be.

There’s no such thing as religion in general. There is, however, such a thing as hacks who ought to retrain for a new career. Digging ditches would be my suggestion.

One integrated Muslim

yayatoureA recent survey shows that over half of British Muslims want to integrate fully into British society, even though there’s no such thing according to Margaret Thatcher.

What I like about the survey is that, while 93 per cent are strongly attached to Britain, an almost identical number, 94 per cent, either aren’t sure al-Qaeda had anything to do with 9/11 or are sure it didn’t.

However, I’d rather not contemplate this overlap, nor indeed the validity of such surveys. I want to concentrate on the positive: more than half of British Muslims want to be British first and Muslims second.

That means adopting the customs of the host nation, and I’m happy to see that for once it’s a footballer who sets a bright example to follow.

Manchester City’s midfielder Yaya Touré isn’t even British – he plays his international football for Ivory Coast and has only lived here for six years. Yet Yaya is so eager to fit in that a couple of days ago he was done for drinking and driving.

Welcome to England, Yaya! Now get yourself thrown out of a couple of night clubs a few hours before kick off, punch a bouncer en route, and your application for British citizenship, should you choose to submit one, will be fast-tracked. Use me as a reference.

What adds a slight piquancy to the situation is that Yaya is a devout Muslim. In fact, two years ago, citing his faith, he refused to accept a bottle of champagne customarily awarded to the Man of the Match.

There are two possibilities here. One, in the intervening two years Yaya has travelled farther down the road to integration, all the way to the destination of a drink-driving charge. Two, his disdain for bubbly was a public gesture of defiance, while in private he was integrated all along.

If so, this is yet more grist to the mill of rabid right-wingers who maliciously claim that a Muslim can be a good Englishman only if he isn’t a good Muslim. Moreover, they aver, and I hope you’re sitting down, that Islam is inherently at odds with Britishness, what with the Koran’s 300 verses calling for violence towards Jews, Christians and other infidels.

How dare they claim such incendiary rubbish when there’s a survey showing that over half of British Muslims are dying to become integrated, even if that means dying of cirrhosis?

Those extremists don’t have a leg to stand on. Or rather wouldn’t, if the aforementioned survey were the only study on offer. Alas, it isn’t.

There’s also the upcoming report by Dame Louise Casey, identified as the government cohesion tsar. I have several issues with that job description.

First, if we insist on using Russian titles to describe British officials, it should be ‘tsarina’, not ‘tsar’. Yes, I realise we mustn’t be gender-specific on pain of ostracism at least, but political correctness hadn’t yet arrived at the time when either title was common currency.

Second, it sounds as if Dame Louise’s remit might be cohesion of the government, which would be a good idea, considering the non-stop bickering in the cabinet. But let’s not be pedantic: I know what the title means.

Dame Louise is to promote integration, mainly of the Muslim community. Yet her report will say that, though we indeed have Muslim communities, some of them are rather less integrated than the honorary Englishman Yaya Touré.

Apparently, thousands of Muslims inhabiting Islamic ghettos in places like Blackburn, Bradford or Dewsbury successfully combat their strong urge to integrate. In fact, many have only a vague notion of what country they live in.

Inhabiting a world circumscribed by Muslim housing estates, schools, papers and TV channels, they don’t realise all Britain isn’t quite like that.

According to those who’ve read the report, “Certain Muslims, because they are in these communities and go to Muslim schools, think Britain is a Muslim country. They think 75 per cent of the country is Muslim.”

The actual proportion is 4.8 per cent, but that’s an easy mistake to make. For example, going to my local Sunday market near Parson’s Green I sometimes wonder if I’m actually in France. Most customers are resident Frenchmen, who are profusely grateful when I supply French translations for such incomprehensible English words as ‘parsnip’ and ‘swede’.

The French diet doesn’t typically include winter vegetables, while the Muslim diet in those northern enclaves apparently doesn’t include anything British. Integration isn’t cohesive enough, or else cohesion isn’t sufficiently integrated.

For example, the chief inspector of schools has identified 21 predominantly Muslim schools in Birmingham where there are no white pupils at all. Nearly half of those schools are “less than good”, which is the government for lousy.

A Whitehall source says: “The report will say that we are in a vicious circle where some institutions are so wrongfully interpreting their version of political correctness that they are gifting the far right.”

Much as one objects to the use of ‘gift’ as a verb, the source has a point. If the government does nothing to prevent the perception of so many Muslims becoming a reality, “the far right” might – and I wouldn’t want to predict the consequences.

Meanwhile, here’s to you, Yaya. You’re on the right track, mate.