That’s how many black people have been killed in assorted Central African genocides over the past few decades. An appalling number of black lives have been lost in Sudan, the Congo, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda – to name just the deadliest massacres.
On a smaller scale, thousands of American blacks are killed every year by other blacks. That’s more lives that matter, stamped out.
Yet one can’t recall offhand any outbursts of public wrath to match those prompted by the death of a single black criminal unlawfully killed by white cops. Do you get the impression that the on-going mayhem has been inspired by reasons other than touching concern for human lives?
Wise people know that to murder masses is the only real reason for mass murder. Similarly, discounting the self-righteous drivel emanating from all the usual quarters, rioting is the only immediate reason for riots.
Whatever pretexts are put forth by way of justification are just that, pretexts. Every mass riot, especially one underpinned by woke slogans, is a false flag operation.
Faced with a marauding mob, Britain goes down on one knee, and it’s not long before the other one is bent too. Looters and vandals are demanding mass genuflection as a gesture of surrender, and their demand is met with alacrity.
This emphasises the mock-religious nature of woke demonstrations and remonstrations. By eliciting a ghastly caricature of a Christian ritual, the mob is extorting worship of their secular deities, not just tacit agreement.
So-called liberals are Frankensteins observing with paternal pride the monster they have created. The monstrous sub-culture of resentment and discontent has been lovingly fostered for decades, as an essential prong of the ‘liberal’ attack on Western tradition.
Now they are trying to conceal smug QED smiles, but the grins force their way onto their faces. Using brainwashed, dumbed-down masses as their weapons, the ‘liberals’ have shown how easy it has become to bring the West, including Britain, to its knees.
Black lives don’t really matter to them. Neither do lives of any other colour. What matters is the rat of self-righteous resentment running around their hollow minds. They won’t have a moment’s rest until they release the creature to infect the world. Now they know they can.
When growing up, I suffered the delights of totalitarianism first hand.
That experience, while crippling in many ways, was also helpful. It left me with a lifelong love of freedom, loathing of totalitarianism, sensitivity to its manifestations and a realisation that no country is immune to this blight.
Watching the mob attacking and injuring policemen, befouling statues in Parliament Square and Whitehall, and trying to burn the British flag at the Cenotaph may be seen as anarchy and hence a harbinger of totalitarianism to come.
The choice of defaced statues is curious. Gen Haig, Allied commander during the First World War, may at a stretch be seen as a hireling to British colonialism. But Abraham Lincoln’s racial offences aren’t immediately obvious. After all, he led a fight against slavery, ostensibly at any rate.
And Churchill inspired and led one against the most racist modern regime. True, I’ve met some people who believe that Britain backed the wrong side in that war. However, that belief usually comes packaged with some others that are unlikely to appeal to the BLM crowd.
It takes many adhesives to glue a nation together, and one of them is surely respect for the nation’s history, signposted and highlighted by heroic figures like Churchill. Spray-painting WAS A RACIST on his statue makes it clear that large swathes of the British population don’t identify with their nation and feel no allegiance to it.
That, as far as I’m concerned, entitles the government to invoke the ancient principle of protectio trahit subjectionem, subjectio projectionem (protection entails allegiance; allegiance, protection).
If some people deny allegiance to the Crown, the embodiment of the nation, they forfeit the right to its protection. The most visible protective document is the UK passport, and its possession has always been contingent on loyalty.
That was, for example, the principle that led the Nazi collaborator William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) to the gallows in 1946. Though a US and Irish citizen, he used a British passport to travel to Nazi Germany, where he became the leading Anglophone propagandist.
Despite having got that passport on false pretences, Joyce was under the protection of the Crown on his travels and could therefore be judged as a traitor to it. Had he used one of his other passports, he would have got off with a small fine. On the same principle, I think HMG should withdraw its protection, and hence British passports, from the spray-painters.
However, their manifest disloyalty may presage totalitarianism, but isn’t yet totalitarianism in itself. The slogan SILENCE IS VIOLENCE, on the other hand, is totalitarianism at its purest.
When I lived in Russia, I was a dissident, but not the most outspoken one. However, I always got in trouble with every tier of authority, all the way up to the KGB. That happened even when I kept my hatred of the Soviets to myself.
I realised why that was. For there exists a vital difference between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. Both enforce acquiescence, but only the latter demand vociferous sycophancy.
I was more or less ready to offer acquiescence or at least a credible pretence of it. But I balked at vociferous sycophancy, knowing that it would have killed my soul, leaving me with no right to self-respect.
Yet silence wasn’t good enough for the authorities. They too treated it as tantamount to violence against the regime – and violence begat a violent response.
That’s why, when I see this sinister slogan, I shiver with terror – on top of the revulsion I feel at the sight of the revolting mob. I fear for the country, not so much for myself: if the KGB couldn’t force me to toe the line, then this lot certainly won’t.
But their very insistence that everyone should make transparently cretinous noises along the BLM lines, while perhaps also ‘taking the knee’, brackets them together with the KGB, Mao’s Red Guards and Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge. How long before they begin to respond to this putative violence with the real kind?
All the rioters need is the power to enforce their totalitarian demands. That they haven’t yet got. But any confrontation between law and lawlessness is a zero sum game. The more power does one side have, the less has the other.
Our law enforcement is demonstratively impotent in the face of mob violence, which empowers the mob no end. God only knows how far they’ll go this time if certain of immunity. One thing for sure: next time they’ll go even further.
In 1791 Haitian slaves rose against their French masters. Like most other revolutions, that one vented many febrile emotions, hatred of the whites prime among them.
Yet there was an interesting twist there. Since a majority of the freed slaves had been baptised, they added a Christian touch to their racial animus. “The whites crucified Jesus,” they chanted. “Let’s kill all whites!”
That was the first uprising I can think of where the concepts of race, collective responsibility and religion came together in one explosive package. But, judging by the current events, not the last.
Though a secular cult has replaced Christianity as a constituent, the other ingredients remain in place. It’s not just Derek Chauvin and his accomplices who are being held responsible for George Floyd’s death, but all white policemen in general – and by extrapolation all whites.
Mocking that sort of thing is easy, and I myself have succumbed to the temptation. Yet it does raise deeper questions than the idiotic chants of a crazed mob can ever pose.
I often talk about the larcenous shift of modernity, akin to looters burning somebody’s house down but moving some of the furniture into their own home.
Thus modernity was brought to life largely – I’d even say mostly – by a revolt against Christianity and the civilisation it had begotten, Christendom. That house was razed in short order, but some of its fixtures, those that looked useful to the victors, were stolen and, after being thoroughly perverted, shifted over to the new residence.
Thus freedom, the centrepiece of Christianity, was repainted into liberty and then licence; equality before God became economic and social levelling, often by violent means; brotherhood of all in Christ became a licence to kill and dispossess those unworthy of secular kinship.
Collective responsibility is one such stolen property, for it used to be essential to the scriptural sources of our civilisation, indeed our civilisation as a whole. The Old Testament story of Adam and Eve gave rise to the Christian, especially Augustinian, theology of original sin.
Roughly speaking, we all bear the onus of responsibility for the sin of defying God committed by our progenitors, and it doesn’t matter whether Adam and Eve were merely a symbol of mankind or its sum total. One way or another, original sin is on all of us.
Yet it isn’t irredeemable. A Jew can cleanse himself by living according to the Law, and a Christian by living in Jesus Christ, who died to redeem mankind of original sin and show a path to eternal salvation.
Thus, for all practical purposes, collective responsibility becomes individual. We can exercise our individual free will and do certain things that will ease our way to life everlasting – or not, if our individual choices are bad.
For a Christian, the greatest individual choice is to accept Jesus Christ, but that option can’t be taken up collectively. Even if a person was unwittingly baptised at birth, the choice to stay faithful in adulthood will always remain individual and free.
One may choose to believe all of this or not, but intrinsically the system is sound on every level – theological, philosophical, logical and practical. Everything within the system, including the notion of collective responsibility, is also sound. Anyone is free not to accept it, but no one can seriously claim the system doesn’t make sense on its own terms.
Not so with collective responsibility, as invoked by modernity in general and particularly the looting mob reinforced by its bien pensant camp followers. Like all metaphysical concepts purloined by modernity, it stops being sound and noble, becoming instead stupid and pernicious.
White skin as such is seen as a sin, and one that can’t really be propitiated, although some have tried and more will do so in future. If a man can decide to identify as a woman and vice versa, why can’t a white person identify as black?
Some have done so, but there’s no evidence that real blacks accept such trans-racialism as anything other than patronising. Many others have been driven by guilt to which they weren’t entitled to march in step with black crowds, wherever they were going.
It can be a civil rights march or a looting expedition or a cross between the two – it really doesn’t matter. Blacks of course see through white guilt and exploit it, which is the natural thing to do. But as often as not they despise such fellow marchers. Turncoats are always despised by both sides.
Unless we talk about original sin and its relation to our salvation, collective responsibility in the secular context is at best disingenuous and at worst idiotic. Usually the two together.
It could be argued that membership in a criminal organisation, such as the SS or the KGB, makes one collectively responsible regardless of any personal wrong-doing. Even that argument isn’t always easy to sustain, what with endless nuances coming into play.
As to insisting that all whites should feel guilty for race crimes committed by evil men, be it slavery or the murder of George Floyd, this sort of thing belongs in the madhouse – or in the smarter salons of Manhattan and Kensington.
When it spills out into the streets, drawing tens of thousands to rallies, peaceful or otherwise, this nonsense is related to its professed cause only tangentially, if at all. At the heart of it lies deep general resentment, a ball of hate bouncing about in the cavernous spiritual emptiness of modern life.
No matter how he dissembles, a racist will always betray himself.
All he has to do is use the expression ‘black as the devil’, refer to a ‘black sheep in the family’ or describe besmirching a person as ‘the pot calling the kettle black’ and everyone will know he’s a crypto-racist.
He can then protest till the protesters come home that he has never described anything as an Afro-American in the woodpile, and that he has always defied zoology by changing a popular counting rhyme to suggest that tigers have toes. All to no avail.
A racist is bound to let his mask drop, like that wartime German spy who spoke perfect English but eventually went to the gallows for saying ‘vishing vell’ just once.
This brings us to Joe Biden, whose welcome presidential bid is wholly based on portraying Trump as a divisive racist. Yet the other day Joe proved he was in fact the pot calling the kettle… well, you know.
He made this statement: “There are probably anywhere from 10 to 15 per cent of the people out there that are just not very good people.”
That left this observer wondering how Joe had arrived at that figure. What kind of poll established that proportion, on what sample, with what margin for error?
How was the questionnaire worded? “Are you a good person?” You better believe it, pal, would be the only possible reply, true or false.
Anyway, I don’t think such a poll was ever conducted – unless Joe put that question to his family members and campaign workers. He probably didn’t, to the regret of those who’d like to hear his son’s answer to that question.
Sweeping aside the seditious suggestion that Joe simply mentioned the exact proportion because it sounded good, one has to delve deeper to uncover the hidden meaning. So I did.
I began by asking myself: “Why did Joe, a great if not always original orator, leave himself open to mockery by mentioning an arbitrary proportion? His insight would have lost none of its poignancy had he simply said ‘…some people out there aren’t very good’.”
Then I remembered a story dating back to the time I lived in Texas. A chap suspected of holding racist views was campaigning for a senate seat, and he desperately needed to court the black vote.
His standard word for members of that race was ‘n*****s’, enunciated in full. That’s the term he used when his adviser told him to praise publicly some great black of the past, say Booker T Washington.
“Who’s that n*****?” inquired the candidate. “A great black American educator,” said the adviser. “Just quote ‘it is better to be alone than in bad company’ and then say ‘These are the words of Booker T Washington, the great black American educator’.”
“I don’t want to quote any n*****s,” objected the candidate. “Don’t think of them as n*****s, for crying out loud,” cried the adviser out loud. “They are voters!”
“For me they are n*****s,” said the enlightened politician. “Oh well, what the hell, I’ll do it.”
The next day he cited the above quote in his speech, beamed broadly and said: “These are the words of Booker T Washington, the great black American n*****.” That put paid to his campaign, none too soon.
The trouble of course was that the offensive word was always on the tip of his tongue, waiting to slip out. So I thought, what if something like that had happened to Joe? What if the 10 to 15 per cent proportion was always in his mind and on that occasion forced its way out?
I did some number-crunching research and found out – are you ready for this? – that blacks make up 12.1 per cent of the US population. Almost exactly in the middle of the range mentioned by Joe!
Could it be that he was so preoccupied with that proportion that he let it slip out inadvertently? It’s only a guess, but an educated one: of course it could. That’s what people mean by a ‘Freudian slip’.
If that’s the case, look at the context in which the slip occurred. A simple rhetorical exercise, of the sort favoured by Biden supporters everywhere, would then yield a startling result.
If, according to Joe, the proportion of bad people exactly corresponds to that of blacks, his subconscious (or is it ‘id’? – I always get those Freudian terms wrong) spoke loud and clear, branding Joe as a crypto-racist.
There, I hope I’ve made my case with the same logical rigour for which Joe himself is universally known. In November America will face the choice of two divisive racists, both proved as such on similarly unassailable evidence.
The Diana virus is infecting the world. The symptoms of the resulting pandemic include mass hysteria, grossly sentimental effluvia, acute self-righteousness, moral torpor, aesthetic paralysis and highly contagious loss of taste.
And by George, the disease is lethal. As in George Floyd, hailed as a hero and martyr in the US and beyond. This strikes me as incongruous.
After all, heroes and martyrs are role models for all to venerate and follow. Yet I’m not sure that a drug-addled career criminal is suited for that role.
In fact I’m sure he isn’t, especially considering that Floyd’s crimes included such distinctly unsaintly acts as aggravated assault and armed robbery. Not to mention that the fatal incident resulted from Floyd, flying high on meth, being caught red-handed by a green-handed sales clerk (whose fingers turned green from contact with a $20 note George had counterfeited somewhat clumsily).
There exists a semantic distinction between a hero and a victim, which seems to be lost on the mob. Floyd was as far from a hero as it’s possible to get this side of Jack the Ripper, but a victim of a crime he undoubtedly was. So by all means demand maximum prison terms for the criminals, and I hope they get them, but please, please, spare us the emetic displays.
But they won’t, will they? Once the Diana virus gets out of hand, it’s unstoppable.
Unlike other popular viruses, however, it produces a curious side effect. The carriers demand that the unaffected individuals, especially those in the public eye, submit to the infection willingly and with a broad smile on their faces or, better still, tears filling their eyes.
Disgruntled Gen Mattis, ex-Defense Secretary unceremoniously fired by Trump, vented his rancour by attacking the president for being infection-free. Writing in The Atlantic, a magazine not generally known for Republican sympathies, the good general got his own back:
“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people… Instead, he tries to divide us… Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens…”
Allow me to propose a factually correct ending to the last sentence: “… to burn cities down, throw Molotov cocktails at police cars, loot shops, attack policemen and force an imposition of curfews in major cities.”
Actually, the last time I looked none of these rights was mentioned in the US Constitution. Peaceful protest, however, is indeed protected by the First Amendment to that document. So does the general think that Trump called for the National Guard and troops to be deployed in response to the people exercising their right “peaceably to assemble”? If he does, he justifies the mad part of his ‘Mad Dog’ nickname.
As to Trump being divisive, that is the common leitmotif in the liberal press, which is to say the press. Chaps working for the New York Times, The Washington Post, most TV networks and, for that matter, The Atlantic brainwash the gullible populace, successfully, with messages of Trump’s divisiveness.
What supposedly makes Trump have that deplorable effect is his open contempt for the Beltway establishment and also his tendency not only to sound conservative (in the American sense), but even to implement some conservative policies.
The liberals know that the voting public won’t be repelled by Trump’s real failings, those I find repellant, such as his narcissism, illiteracy, bumptiousness, vulgarity, dubious dealings with Putin. Hence they have to repeat ad nauseum that Trump divides the nation, meaning doesn’t let it sink into the morass of ‘liberal’ uniformity.
How, according to Mattis and other victims of dianafication, is Trump supposed to heal the wounds of the nation? By being photographed hugging a black woman, like Terrence Monahan, NYPD Department Chief? Why, he’d be accused of sexual harassment faster than you can say Harvey Weinstein.
Anyway, if a soppy speech, a strategically placed hug and a tear or two can unite a nation torn asunder, how disunited was it in the first place? Not very, I’d suggest.
Do people really expect Trump to turn touchy-feely in his advanced age? If so, they are in for a let-down. At least he never pretended to be an old softie when they voted him into the White House. Or is Trump expected to tell those arsonists and looters that he feels their pain, shares it and – by George! – he’d be tossing Molotov cocktails too if only he weren’t president?
Would that unify the nation Trump has so egregiously divided? I don’t know how many Americans would wish to be united with the crazed mob, but I suspect not many.
When Trump talked tough, he was threatening not peaceful demonstrators but looters. And force is the only way to deal with a rampaging, marauding mob. When looting talks, conciliation walks.
If some people have a craving for nauseating spectacles, they don’t need the president to provide them. The sight of policemen ‘taking the knee’ in abject surrender to the horde in American cities and even in London (!) should satisfy that appetite – especially if accompanied by cops marching with the multitudes and even giving the Black Power salute.
The only reason for policemen to go down on one knee is to create a more solid platform for firing a rifle – unless of course they are being knighted. If they wish to express solidarity with the protesters, they should do so off-duty, not when trying to stop an onslaught with riot shields.
Does it ever occur to the guardians of the peace that the very fact they have to wield riot shields suggests that the demonstrations aren’t entirely peaceful? And hence kowtowing to the mob represents a gross dereliction of duty? No, obviously not.
The world is in the grip of the Diana virus, ultimately more toxic than Covid-19. The latter can only kill the individual body and lighten the wallet. The former is killing the collective soul.
Both politics and war can serve good ends, as well as bad. However, current views of past politics and wars change. In line with current expediency yesterday’s good may become today’s evil, and vice versa.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with historical revisionism as such. It can correct a wrong perception and put forth a correct one. It can also do the opposite.
Two current examples illustrate both possibilities. One restores a truth, the other perpetuates a lie. In both cases a statue of a military leader has been seen as offensive in today’s political climate.
Two months ago, a statue of the Soviet marshal Ivan Konev was taken down in the centre of Prague. That created a stir both at home and abroad.
Putin and his mouthpieces screamed bloody murder, accusing the Prague mayor of retrospectively fighting on Hitler’s side. Czech President Milos Zeman, Putin’s acolyte, echoed the screams, as did the Communist Party leader Vojtech Filip.
Putin’s totalitarian propaganda includes an historical component: the entire history of the Soviet Union, brought close to reality in the 1990s, is being rewritten again according to the previous Stalinist model.
That especially includes the war, with the Soviet Union portrayed by Stalin and his heirs as an innocent, peaceful victim of dastardly aggression. The Secret Protocol to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, kept under wraps until the 1990s, is now again praised as the acme of morality and sagacity – not what it in fact was, a collusion between two predators to divide Europe between them.
At the end of the war, the Soviets liberated half of Europe – and Marshal Konev was one of the principal liberators. The liberators commemorated their advent by disfiguring European capitals with the stigmata of statues (the most disgusting one, an obelisk adorned with quotes from Stalin, still stands in the centre of Vienna).
However, most liberated people didn’t regard Soviet occupation as particularly liberating. Seeing it as one revolting oppressor replacing another, they rebelled occasionally and seethed all the time.
Konev led the Soviet troops that occupied Prague in 1945, and perhaps if his career had ended then, a statue to him would be appropriate. But it didn’t.
In 1956 his troops drowned the anti-Soviet Hungarian Uprising in blood. In 1961 Konev, then in command of the Soviet forces in East Germany, supervised the construction of the Berlin Wall.
And, more to the point, in 1968 he masterminded the crushing of the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia. Hence the removal of his statue in Prague corrects a historical wrong pepetrated by the Soviets and perpetuated by the present regime.
Score one for truth. But the decision of Virginia’s governor Levar Stoney to remove a statue of General Robert E Lee from the centre of Richmond evens the score.
Robert E Lee, who led the Confederate army during the Civil War, was a brilliant general. Before the war he had served in the US Army for 32 years, distinguishing himself during the Mexican-American War.
When his native Virginia announced its secession from the Union, Lee (incidentally married to George Washington’s great-granddaughter) was upset. He wanted to keep his country intact and, on a more personal level, had just been offered a senior Union command.
However, Lee felt he was honour-bound to fight for his native state. He thus accepted the Confederacy command and led his army to some great victories against prohibitive odds. Eventually the South was crushed and Lee survived the Confederacy by only five years.
His place in history depends on understanding the Civil War for what it was, not how it’s depicted in popular mythology. And mythology insists that the war was fought against slavery. This is a fallacy.
Interestingly, some Northern commanders, such as Grant and McClellan, were themselves slave owners, while many Southern generals, such as Lee himself (who had freed his slaves two years before the shooting began) weren’t.
This emphasises what has to be obvious to any unbiased observer: the war wasn’t about slavery. True enough, the Southern states seceded largely because the federal government had put obstacles in the way of spreading slavery into the newly acquired territories.
However, Lincoln and his colleagues had no quarrel with slavery in the original Southern states. Their bellicose reaction to the secession was caused not by slavery but by their in-built imperative to retain and expand the power of the central state.
“If that would preserve the Union, I’d agree not to liberate a single slave,” Lincoln once said. Note also that his Gettysburg Address includes not a single anti-slavery word – and in fact Lincoln dreaded the possibility that he himself might be portrayed as an abolitionist.
The war was fought for political centralism, characteristic of post-Enlightenment modernity, against political localism, characteristic of pre-Enlightenment Christendom. The North’s aggression denied the Southern states’ right to secede, stipulated in the Constitution. Thus the South, though itself a sinner, was sinned against even more.
That slavery is a blot on American, especially Southern, history is beyond doubt. And, judging by his actions, Lee would have agreed with that.
But the North’s conduct during the war and in its aftermath was equally inhuman. The aim wasn’t just to win the war but to destroy the South. That desideratum added to the conflict the distinctly modern touch of total annihilation.
The term ‘scorched earth’ entered the language courtesy of Gen Sherman’s March to the South that left whole cities burned down to ashes, not to mention countless manor houses and plantations.
What happened after the war was equally vile. The South was left at the mercy of carpetbaggers (poor whites moving down from the North) and freed slaves. Murder, vandalism, rape and looting were actively encouraged as a way of finishing the job started by Sherman.
Even though America suffered greater casualties in the Civil War than in all her other wars combined, it was that orgy of encouraged violence that left festering wounds in the American psyche. And in the South the wounds aren’t just festering but still bleeding.
The South, with its despicable Jim Crow laws, made a bad situation much worse, but the 1964 Civil Rights Act was supposed to heal the racial lesions. So it would have done – but for the existence of powerful groups with a vested interest in continued racial strife. Parallels with the on-going mayhem are irresistible.
Yet again white liberals are conferring an eternal status of victimhood on the blacks, tacitly encouraging conflict. In the 1960s this used to take grotesque forms, such as Lenny Bernstein treating his liberal guests to the delicious presence of Black Panthers (Tom Wolfe brilliantly sent up that event in Radical Chic).
Today’s white liberals are less inclined to make fools of themselves. Instead they rely on more subtle and less direct incitement, mainly by implementing policies guaranteed to perpetuate, enlarge and enrage the black underclass.
As in the case of Putin’s current attempts to rewrite history the Stalin way, US history is conscripted to serve the cause of social disintegration. Hence the historically false account of the Civil War, taught as gospel truth in American schools.
Hence also the distortion of Robert E Lee’s role in history. The honourable and courageous general is shamelessly portrayed as a white supremacist who would have had Martin Luther King lynched had their lifespans overlapped.
Rather than closing the racial rift, this conscious policy serves only to widen it. That, evidently, is its intended purpose, rather than an unfortunate side effect.
Unlike the Czechs, who removed a statue to uphold historical truth, the governor of Virginia is removing one to serve a lie. He ought to be ashamed of himself.
When the French have to be forced to forgo frozen pizzas and other pre-cooked industrial rubbish, you know it’s the end of the world.
That’s exactly the apocalypse unfolding before our eyes. French senators, worried about the health ramifications of British-style (originally American-style) eating, are planning to introduce a ‘bad grub tax’ to dissuade the French from aping British coprophilia.
That measure won’t affect me, for I never buy such food anyway, and never have. However, I’ve been peeking into the supermarket trolleys of my fellow shoppers at French supermarkets for 20 years now, and I understand how the senators got the urge.
My area is one of the country’s poorest, and yet 20 years ago one hardly noticed people buying foods symptomatic of coprophilia. They tended to buy cheaper cuts of meat, unremarkable fish and basic vegetables, but everything was fresh and eminently cookable.
Then things began to change. The very same people slowly developed a taste for microwave food, the sort of thing my British colleagues subsisted on.
I knew what my co-workers were buying because there was a supermarket next to the office, and we all shopped there at lunch to save time after work. My younger colleagues would also look into my trolley and conclude that I was odd.
“Alex cooks from fresh,” they’d whisper in a bemused and mildly critical manner, as if I had been rummaging the rubbish skips for my daily bread.
I was surprised they were surprised. Cooking from fresh seemed to be the only option, especially when compared to cooking from stale, rancid – or for that matter pre-prepared.
When queried, the youngsters explained that they had neither the time nor the money to cook fresh food. However, being a didacticist by nature, I showed them, calculator in hand, that fresh food could actually cost less than the alternative.
And, much to their disbelief, I said that a weekday meal seldom took me more than 15 minutes to cook. And – unlike them – I could always find 15 minutes, even though it took me much longer to get home, and at that time I spent every spare minute writing my books.
Amazingly, French coprophiliacs are putting forth the same arguments. And, unlike me, the authorities take them seriously.
According to scientists at the National Institute for Agronomic Research, low- income families face “constraints on time, resources and equipment that can dissuade them from buying and preparing fresh food”.
Chaps, you are French! Didn’t your pauvres mères teach you that a sharp knife and a decent saucepan are really all the equipment you need to produce the delicious food your pauvres mères used to cook?
Pour l’amour de dieu, take some cheap cut of meat, seal it on all sides, add some bacon, lightly fried onions and garlic, any herb growing in your garden, some carrots, sliced mushrooms, a splash of wine (you don’t have to spend more than €2 a bottle, though ideally you should), leave it to bubble for a couple of hours – and Robert est ton oncle, as the French don’t yet say.
A quarter of an hour of your time is all it takes, plus a small amount of money and exactly the high-tech equipment I mentioned earlier. Leave it to the perverse Anglo-Saxons to opt for frozen merde, and even they are getting better.
There’s hope for the French yet, as there may not be for les Anglo-Saxons. For come Friday, I see those same incipient coprophiliacs queuing up at the cheese counter in our local market and spending €40 or so on average.
Once, bored in a queue behind them, I tried to count all the varieties on offer. My turn came when I was at 110, each looking delectable. So one can understand those big spenders, most of them on some kind of income support.
They are thus still stuck in some time warp, if only in its cheesy part. Another small step backwards, and they’ll revert to those winey beef stews for which Burgundy is so justly famous.
One just wishes they learned other things from us, not just such perversions as awful food, tattoos, facial metal and drinking bladder-bursting amounts of beer. Surely there must be other things to learn?
This photograph of a looted Steinway shop in Philadelphia is full of symbolism.
That a piano shop should be targeted for righteous wrath is natural. With a little imagination classical music performed on Steinways can be easily seen as the distillation of white culture and therefore white oppression.
A Steinway is only half a step removed from another symbol of white supremacy, an overseer’s bullwhip at a cotton plantation. But even the Steinway family of tyrannical instruments isn’t homogeneous: racial distinctions exist there as well.
Thus it’s easy – nay, inevitable – to surmise that white Steinways, though less numerous, oppress black ones. Hence a white piano must be abused as a manifestation of commitment to justice and racial equality.
Then again, participants in that spontaneous reaction to what Democratic politicians are calling “an open season on blacks” came equipped with black, rather than white, spray paint. Hence it would have been a waste of good paint to write FUCK on a black piano. A white one provides a more natural canvas for that genre of artistic expression.
Sound like nonsense, doesn’t it? Yet this little vignette is the acme of reason compared to some of the statements made by the likes of Joe Biden and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
Displaying his well-documented oratorical skills, Joe drawled in a monotone unassisted by any facial expression: “Black lives are under threat every day.” And the good mayor contributed an unassailable insight: “Being black in America shouldn’t be a death sentence.”
An existential philosopher may argue that blacks aren’t unique in that respect. Everybody’s life is under threat every day, and each life ends in a death sentence, in this world at any rate.
But that’s not what those venerable gentlemen mean. They are suggesting that white people in general, and white policemen in particular, are homicidal maniacs out to kill blacks for fun.
This belief is an ideological sine qua non of the dominant ‘liberal’ ethos, and as such it’s impervious to any contrary facts. (I cited some yesterday.)
In the same vein, Black Lives Matter is a slogan, not a thought. One can argue against a thought, but slogans are argument-proof.
What are you going to say? That all lives matter? That specifically black lives are mostly lost to black violence? That when a black criminal is shot by a policeman (white or black), it’s usually the criminal who either fires first or is about to? That a lot more policemen are killed by black criminals than vice versa? Don’t – anything you say can be used against you, as proof of inveterate racism.
Also, the riots are a good time to score political points off Trump. Professional Trump haters can now draw on volunteer amateur support.
The president is accused of being divisive, saying and doing all the wrong things. Now I do find Trump an unpleasant and vulgar man. That, however, doesn’t mean he can do no right.
He’s trying, rightly, to elicit a tough response to violence from individual states, involving the National Guard and the army, if need be. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Trump said, to thunderous gasps in all the usual quarters.
Instead, they claim, he should reason with the rioters, try to understand their concerns, pour balm on their bleeding hearts. So what should he say to the scum who looted the Steinway shop? “You are right in principle, if not in every detail”?
And how should justice be served in the Floyd case? After all, it’s not all white Americans who killed Floyd, but just one of them – and he’s going to prison.
So what do they think a proper president would do? Tell policemen not to shoot black criminals, even as they are cocking their guns? Ideally not to arrest them at all? Ban kneeling on black people’s throats? But cops already know that, and the one who didn’t may never come out of prison.
Trump is also accused of hypocrisy. He’s talking tough, but he ran to his bunker like a rank coward when justice-seekers appeared to be attacking the White House.
Those who say that are ignorant of basic Secret Service protocol, or rather pretend to be. When a president is perceived to be in danger, Secret Service agents have authority over him. They don’t ask him if he wants to go down to the bunker; they tell him to go. And if he won’t, they are authorised to drag him there kicking and screaming.
If firing at looters is the only way to prevent American cities from turning into an inferno, then I say don’t spare the ammunition. Trump obviously understands this, even though he can’t say so in as many words. Anyway, so far the shooting hasn’t started, which is why Steinway pianos are being thrown out of the windows of vandalised shops.
The less violent but more emetic aspect of the riots is their attendant dianafication of the world, if you’ll pardon the neologism. Morons of the world are united in going down on one knee to signal their virtue. This response is mandated by the ‘liberals’ and inculcated into many a susceptible mind.
In Britain such practices go back to the death of Diana, which everyone was ordered to mourn visibly and vociferously on pain of ostracism. When the Queen reacted to the tragedy with her usual dignified restraint, the mob outside Buck House brayed: “Ma’am, show us you care!!!”
If police had descended on that mob with truncheons, I would have cheered – as I now cheer for the American police, the National Guard and perhaps the army.
Show the scum, so they understand, that you care for justice, order and social tranquillity. And for Steinway pianos, come to that.
One can’t read today’s newspapers without first having to wade through spread after spread of riot stories complete with lurid pictures, eyewitness accounts and editorial moaning along the why-oh-why lines.
Some papers take a neutral stance, others are scathing about the rioters, still others are broadly sympathetic to them. But that’s in England. In France, most papers stay, well, not exactly silent, but reticent.
Remarkably little space is devoted to the worst racial upheavals since the 1960s, as if the papers wished to communicate the message that, yes, merde happens, but it’s no big deal and in any case it’s none of France’s concern.
It’s not as if French journalists can’t see the importance of a story that has ousted Covid from front pages. They can. The trouble is, they can see it too well.
They just fear, with good reason, that the rocks thrown at American policeman have the range to fly across the ocean and shatter France’s glass house, already showing a spiderweb of cracks. They don’t want their own potential rioters, whose name is legion, to get any inspiring ideas.
Riots happen throughout the West, and even Britain isn’t exactly immune to them. But no Western country can match US riots in scale, nor French ones in frequency.
One can’t help feeling that the two nations, despite their professed disdain for each other, are somehow umbilically linked. They seem to share some common DNA, specifically those genes that predispose to mob violence.
So they do. America and France are the first commonwealths of rebellious modernity, its revolutionary flag-bearers. Both were born, in their present forms, as revolutionary republics, mob violence their birth cries. To this day words like ‘revolution’ and ‘rebellion’ have more positive connotations in those countries than, say, in Britain or Holland.
The link between the two revolutions isn’t instantly obvious. It certainly wasn’t to Edmund Burke, whose genius betrayed him in this one area. While ripping the French Revolution to shreds in one of history’s seminal texts of political philosophy, he welcomed the American Revolution as “a revolution not made but prevented”.
Burke failed to detect familial kinship between those two children of the Enlightenment, both having equality chiselled into the stone tablets of their founding documents. Some 20 years later the link was blindingly obvious to John Adams, America’s second president.
Writing with the benefit of hindsight, he remarked ruefully in 1811: “Did not the American Revolution produce the French Revolution? And did not the French Revolution produce all the calamities and desolation of the human race and the whole globe ever since?”
Both America and France have since reaped a rich harvest of the culture they sowed. And they continue to reap it, each in its own way. The flag they originally unfurled is still flying high.
This was, or should have been, predictable. For there was one slight problem with their founding promise of equality: it was impossible to keep, not as they defined it.
With the legerdemain larceny so characteristic of modernity, the Enlightenment stole the term ‘equality’ from its rightful owner and turned it upside down. That fooled the masses for a while, partly because they were inured to the term.
As it used to be understood, equality was strictly a Pauline, which is to say metaphysical, concept: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Victorious modernity consigned Christ Jesus, along with the great civilisation he founded, to the status of antiquarian curiosity at best, an object of hatred more typically. Hence equality had to lose its sublime metaphysical meaning, acquiring instead one of social and economic levelling.
Understood that way, equality runs contrary to human nature and therefore can only function as a destructive, divisive force. Striving for it automatically presupposes turning most people into envious, resentful brooders, each feeling hard done by both individually and as a member of some social, economic, racial or ethnic group.
That creates a tinderbox ready to ignite at any moment. All it takes is someone striking a match, and such helpful individuals are never in short supply.
I don’t know who performed that service to set off the present conflagration. Various cabals are mooted as possible culprits, including some extreme political groups, Muslims, Russians, Chinese, anarchists, Trotskyists – the list of eminently possible suspects is long.
Yet who really is at fault ultimately doesn’t matter. What matters is the ever-present tinderbox created by that greatest misnomer in history, the Enlightenment.
The modernity it inspired isn’t confined to America and France. Masses everywhere have staged a revolt, so eloquently described by Ortega y Gasset. But few other Western countries have rioting so integrally interwoven into the fabric of society as the two revolutionary republics that got the ball rolling – all the way towards the precipice.
The French cross their fingers, hoping that their own country won’t explode and knowing it very well may – wouldn’t be the first time. Yet few of them cringe, as I do, when seeing the slogan Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité prominently displayed on every public building.
Neither do Americans cringe when reading The Declaration of Independence, the first political document of the Enlightenment. Perhaps now they’ll begin to understand what it really means.