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Reason gets the death penalty

The death penalty is such a divisive issue than even I’m divided on it. On balance, I’m in favour – but with so many reservations that even simply listing them would bore you to tears.

Dominic Lawson, theologian

On the other hand, I know some good and intelligent people whose balance swings the other way.

Believers among them cite the relevant commandment or question the right of fallible people to pass irreversible judgement. Materialists are troubled by the likelihood of mistakes.

The materialist objection could be answered by tightening the required standard of proof. I’d be comfortable if proof beyond any reasonable doubt were in death penalty cases replaced with proof beyond any doubt.

For example, having plunged the knife into the body of Sir David Amess 17 times, his murderer calmly waited for the police to arrive. No doubt, reasonable or otherwise, of his guilt can exist; no mistake is possible. Give him the chop.

Still, I’m prepared to consider any informed argument on the issue. Alas, the one casually mentioned by Dominic Lawson, doesn’t qualify as such.

In his otherwise good article on Sir David, Mr Lawson described him as “a devout Catholic (despite his support for the death penalty)”. The assumption is that support for the death penalty is incompatible with Christian, or specifically Catholic, doctrine.

That, I’m afraid, is ignorance speaking. For Mr Lawson’s statement is tantamount to saying that being a Thomist is incompatible with being a Catholic.

For St Thomas Aquinas, the greatest philosopher among theologians and the greatest theologian among philosophers, was an unequivocal supporter of the death penalty.

According to St Thomas: “…men who are in authority over others do no wrong when they reward the good and punish the evil… Therefore, certain men must be removed by death from the society of men.”

And further: “… the physician quite properly and beneficially cuts off a diseased organ if the corruption of the body is threatened because of it. Therefore, the ruler of a state executes pestiferous men justly and sinlessly in order that the peace of the state may not be disrupted.”

Thus St Thomas doesn’t pass the Lawson test of Catholic probity. However, Pope Francis does. He opposes not only the death penalty but even life imprisonment, which he thinks amounts to the same thing.

I wouldn’t be surprised if This Holiness felt that a strong rebuke and perhaps a warning would be sufficient punishment for murder, but, after the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), even more conservative Popes have had problems with the death penalty.

However, saying that there’s something inherently contradictory about a devout Catholic supporting it betokens sheer ignorance. That is lamentable in a man who, like Mr Lawson, is married to a Catholic, Diana’s Best Friend by profession. One gets the impression that the Lawsons don’t ponder Christian doctrine at their dinner table.

One argument against the death penalty is that it corrupts the executioner. I find this argument worth considering. But David Amess always dismissed it out of hand. “If that’s your problem,” he’d say, “I volunteer.”

Generally speaking, I doubt I could honestly give the same answer. However, in this particular case, if the only obstacle to putting Sir David’s murderer to death were the dearth of executioners, I too would offer my services.

P.S. Our press blithely crosses the line separating righteous from self-righteous.

Thus there was an outburst of indignation when the Saudi government bought Newcastle United. Apparently the Saudis’ record on human rights doesn’t meet the exacting standards our hacks demand from any buyer of British football clubs.

These standards, however, are applied selectively. Thus journos fall over themselves trying to wangle an invitation to the box at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea’s stadium.

Now, Chelsea FC is owned by Roman Abramovich, one of those shady characters who were appointed ‘oligarchs’ by Russia’s KGB government. According to Catherine Belton’s book Putin’s People, it was Putin who ordered Abramovich to buy the club as a way of establishing a foothold in London and especially the City.

I won’t go into any details of Russia’s record on human rights, other than saying that it’s not conspicuously better than the Saudis’. So where’s that sauce for the gander?

Diversity strikes again

The French writer Madame de Staël (d. 1817) once quipped that “government in Russia is despotism limited by the garrotte.”

By the same token, government in Britain is a democracy that seems to be limited by diversity. This conclusion is prompted by the murder of the Tory MP Sir David Amess by Ali Harbi Ali.

After Sir David was stabbed 17 times and died on the way to hospital, the police analysed the crime, bringing to it their awesome powers of both inductive and deductive thought.

Upon painstaking contemplation, they came to the conclusion that the murder was an act of terrorism. Really? My first reaction was that it was multi-culti diversity in action.

The BBC coyly identified the murderer as British of “seemingly” Somali descent, and another day later the conclusion was reached that “Islamist extremism” was “a potential motivation”.

I have to compliment both the police and the BBC on their fleet-footed attempts to evade the gaping pitfalls. However, not being especially coy by nature myself, I don’t feel bound by the omertà evidently sworn by our woke media and, alas, increasingly woke police.

Nor do I feel duty-bound to deliver the mantra that’s de rigueur in such reporting. It includes three obligatory points: 1) the murderer acted alone, 2) he is an emotionally disturbed loner and, most important, 3) even though he is a Muslim, his crime was in no way inspired by Islam.

Variations are permissible, such as in this case. According to the reports, Ali was “self-radicalised” during the lockdown, when he had nothing better to do than peruse jihadist websites. Even assuming that’s true, the prefix ‘self’ would only be justified if Ali had produced such posts himself. But he didn’t — someone else inundates the waves with venomous Islamic hatred.

Optional but desirable is a bow towards diversity and a reminder of the invaluable contributions made by immigrants to British culture. The category is always left general and all-encompassing, to include Albert Einstein and Peter Bauer side by side with the 108,000 Somalis who have settled in Britain since their civil war towards the end of the last century.

Another option is to ascribe the murder to its perpetrator’s oppressive poverty. This must be exercised with caution, and some fact-checking is recommended. Ali Harbi Ali, for example, lived in one of London’s most desirable neighbourhoods (courtesy of his father, formerly a trusted adviser to the Somali government).

It’s not just the content of the mantra that’s prescribed, but also the exact choice of words, or rather misnomers. The idea is to establish at least two degrees of separation between the criminal and his religion.

Thus no one can ever be killed by a Muslim. The murderer must always be identified the way the police identified Ali Harbi Ali, as an “Islamist extremist”.

The assumption being shoved down the reader’s throat is that ‘Islamist’ is somehow different from ‘Islamic’ or ‘Muslim’ (first degree of separation), and that ‘Islamist extremist’ is but a tiny subset of ‘Islamist’ (second degree). The wielders of such mandated mendacity usually explain that they are at pains to prevent an upsurge in ‘xenophobia’ in general and ‘Islamophobia’ in particular.

The cataclysm they see in their mind’s eye is a mob of tattooed, facial-metalled supporters of Millwall FC, each a Tory voter, starting to lynch innocent Muslims who run corner shops, drive taxis or go about some other lawful business.

No such outrage has happened so far, although those hypothetical lynchers have had plenty of provocation over the years. What does happen is a wave of terrorism directly inspired by Islam, whose scripture includes hundreds of verses calling for the murder of infidels, mainly Jews and Christians.

Any BBC or Guardian journo worth his salt will tell you that the Koran also contains some 6,000 other verses that have nothing to do with sectarian violence. That’s as true as it’s irrelevant.

Every aggressive doctrine (those who doubt that Islam is aggressive should cast an eye over the past 1,400 years of world history) is spearheaded by an impassioned vanguard adept at reading the founding sources selectively.

Most writings of Marx, Engels and Lenin don’t mention things like concentration camps, murder by category or abolition of private property – but some do. And Mein Kampf contains only a few passages calling for the genocide of the Jews – but it does contain them.

Yet no one demurs when the mass violence perpetrated by attentive readers of such literature is blamed on, respectively, communism and Nazism. And no one absolves those doctrines from the guilt of inspiring heinous crimes.

Nor does one detect any reluctance on the part of the same hacks to blame any real or imaginary excesses of Christianity on the underlying doctrine. This, though there isn’t a single word in the New Testament that, say, a Crusader could have cited in justification of murdering an Arab child or raping his mother.

Imagine what would be written about Christianity if the New Testament said: “Take them [unbelievers] and kill them wherever ye find them. Against such We have given you clear warrant.” Now look at what’s being said about Islam although that verse comes from the Koran (4:91), where it happily coexists with some 300 similar passages.

I’ve lost count of the times a president or a prime minister has reassured the people, sickened by yet another act of Muslim terrorism, that “Islam is a religion of peace”. Tell it to the population of southern Europe circa 711 AD.

Or, closer to our own time and theme, to the wife and five children of Sir David Amess, MP.

Requiescat in pace.

The C of E fails its great servant

Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, has left the Anglican confession to become a Roman Catholic.

I can only hope that’ll be Bishop Michael’s gain – but I know for sure it’ll be the Church’s loss. For seldom in God knows how many decades has the Church of England had a bishop of such intellect and integrity.

His conversion is so much more unexpected, considering that he tended towards the evangelical, Calvinist end of Anglicanism, although he once described himself, somewhat oxymoronically, as “Catholic and evangelical”.

That was a reflection of his soul that seeks reconciliation before confrontation. In the same spirit, he pursues an ecumenical dialogue not only with other Christian confessions, but also with other faiths.

In 2009 Bishop Michael left his diocese to devote himself to pastoral work in places like his native Pakistan, where even professing, never mind proselytising, Christianity is all one’s life is worth. But Bishop Michael has that rare combination of gentleness and courage one seldom finds in people in general and, these days, clergymen in particular.

In 2014 he found some time in his inhumanly busy schedule to write the preface to my book Democracy as a Neocon Trick, in which he generously described me as “a master of language”. “If there is to be a genuinely free society,” he wrote, “we need critics like Boot to be ruthless in their analyses of conventional wisdom and its seers.”

I can repay the compliment by saying that if the Church of England is to survive as a genuine Christian institution, rather than a promulgator of the subversive woke rubbish preached by The Guardian, it can’t afford to lose prelates like Michael Nazir-Ali.

That a man always seeking an accommodation could no longer reconcile his conscience with a Church he had served faithfully all his life is a denunciation ringing louder than the bells of St Paul’s.

I suppose he could have lived with our two archbishops spouting leftie nonsense on every conceivable secular subject. But he couldn’t abide with a Church taking giant strides away from Christian doctrine and tradition.

Even there he allowed the Church a fair amount of latitude, for example by not objecting to the ordination of women or by not leaving when women began to be consecrated as bishops (five other bishops did). But even Bishop Michael’s tolerance has found its limits.

He has accused the C of E of “jumping on to every faddish bandwagon about identity politics, cultural correctness and mea culpa about Britain’s imperial past”. Guilty as charged, as any honest Anglicans will admit.

But it’s not just that. Bishop Michael also said that his conversion was “about belonging to a church where there is clear teaching for the faithful”. By implication, the C of E doesn’t offer such clarity, and this is a much more serious charge than simple wokiness. It’s just as fair though.

Some C of E hierarchs refer to the Virgin Birth and the Holy Trinity as figures of speech. Some others don’t seem to believe in the divinity of Jesus. Its second-ranking prelate teaches that Jesus was a black man, though not yet a black woman. It welcomes openly homosexual priests, as long as they promise to stay celibate (who’s checking?). It blesses homosexual marriages and will soon start to officiate them. Its stand on abortion is permissive.

Bishop Michael, for all his moderation, couldn’t stay in such a Church. Neither could I, in my own small and insignificant way. But being neither a priest nor an especially moderate man, I go further than Bishop Michael will ever do, at least in public.

For I believe that every failing of the C of E is systemic, springing not from the failings of some of its clergy but from the very essence of the institution.

Some Anglicans, especially those at the High end, describe themselves as Anglo-Catholics. It’s true that, in its liturgical pomp and circumstance, High Anglicanism is so similar to post-Vatican-II Catholicism as to be practically indistinguishable.

But its doctrine is Calvinist through and through, as even a cursory reader of its 39 Articles of Religion will confirm. This serves as a reminder of the Anglican Church’s Protestant genesis. It was a child of the Reformation, a revolution I regard as similar to the Enlightenment in its destructive effect.

That parentage brought with it certain genetic defects, such as a tendency to sectarianism. After all, if to Luther every man was his own priest, soon enough he’ll become his own God.

There currently exist about 200 Protestant sects in the world, but I haven’t checked for a month or so. For all I know, by now there could be more.

The C of E suffers from this disease in its mild form, but even it boasts three main strains. That’s why Bishop Michael used to claim being both Catholic and evangelical: it was an honest attempt at settling the differences among the High, Low and Broad churches.

Yet the differences are purely formal, for all three strains of Anglicanism share the same Protestant dogma. And all three together are a state church, which brings with it a baggage of gags, chains and other tethers.

Here I detect a parallel with another state church, Russian Orthodox. In both churches, it’s the state that appoints the bishops. That’s like Pontius Pilate, acting on the authority of Emperor Tiberius, appointing the original twelve apostles.

Jesus unequivocally separated the domain of God from that of Caesar, but a state church can’t imitate Christ in that respect. A prelate who is effectively a government employee can hardly avoid being painted with the government’s brush, and HMG is painting a rather ugly picture.

There have been great archbishops who steered their own course, but they went against the institutional grain. Ultimately, the hierarchs of the C of E have to stay downwind of the government. They are thus in danger of contracting all the government’s diseases.

The common, and largely justified, objection is that the Catholic Church, the only other possible destination for a Western Christian, isn’t free of its own defects. Indeed, if we compare the current pope with the current Archbishop of Canterbury, it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other.

But it’s a mistake to judge an institution solely on the basis of its current leaders. It’s equally wrong to say that Catholicism is no better than Anglicanism because Francis is as bad as Welby as it is to insist that Catholicism is better because the previous Pope was a great theologian, and the previous Archbishop wasn’t.

Both churches are suffering, but the problems of Catholicism aren’t inherent to its very nature. The problems of Anglicanism, in my view, are.

Another such problem is its parochialism. Anglicans like to claim that theirs is an international communion, but it really isn’t. It’s mostly practised in Britain and her former colonies, which is a far cry from Catholic universalism.

My favourite Anglican, who himself is a great theologian, once said he was Anglican because he was English. That, to me, is part of the problem.

A universal religion must transcend ethnicity, nationality or imperial vassalage. This thought isn’t mine but St Paul’s: “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.”

I pray that Michael Nazir-Ali may find in Catholicism what he is seeking. He may not: the current state of his new Church isn’t a picture of health. However, there flickers a hope of recovery – something that I think has been extinguished in Anglicanism.

Still, I’ll continue to quote from the KJV and the Book of Common Prayer. The gravitational pull of these sublime English texts is irresistible even for those who have made the same journey as the one on which Bishop Michael is embarking. You know, those texts that the Church of England is busily ignoring.  

Get your politics out for the lads

Laura Amherst, who often prances about naked for the Extinction Rebellion, has now gone on hunger strike.

That seems to be the only rational response to Boris Johnson’s failure to respond to her letter. My suggestion would be for her not to write but to insist on a face-to-face meeting. Our PM is known to respond to female charms, especially if they can be assessed unclad.

‘Climate Tits’, as she calls herself, states her intentions succinctly, as befits a politics student from Brighton: “Basically I have made the decision to not eat any more food until Boris Johnson actually addresses this letter and XR’s demands… This is going to sound so dramatic but I’m prepared to die for this.”

Such a tragic outcome may be a long time coming. By the looks of her, Miss Amherst has sufficient reserves of subcutaneous fat to last at least a month, perhaps longer.

Meanwhile, our football fans, widely known for their sensitivity, can begin to compose a song starting with the words: “Would you like a chicken supper, Climate Tits? Would you like a chicken supper, you filthy climate…” I’ll leave it for them to supply the noun here replaced with an ellipsis. Traditionally, the tune is borrowed from She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain.

(For those of you who are either too young, too foreign or too highbrow to understand the reference, a similar song was sung by football lovers in 1981, after the IRA terrorist Bobby Sands starved himself to death in prison.)

Far be it from me to accuse Miss Amhurst of lowly motives, but her manner of protest isn’t only impassioned but also lucrative. She has started a web page, which earned her £18,000 last month.

Even if she keeps her promise to donate 75 per cent of it to her beloved cause, she’ll still have a bit left over. That’ll do nicely, especially considering that she doesn’t have to spend much on clothes. (A note to myself: ask Penelope to choose a worthy cause to support.)

One wonders about a cause that can be championed so remuneratively in such a manner. By way of comparison, a few years ago many of my friends went on a Countryside Alliance march to support hunting. All the marchers, however, covered their nudity, mostly with tweeds and Barbours.

That conferred dignity on the procession, which nonetheless failed to overturn the ban on riding to hounds. Perhaps I may suggest that next time they swap dignity for efficacy by dropping their kit… No, scratch that idea. I mean, have you seen my friends?

Britain is in the grip of two epidemics. One, Covid, is abating; the other, casual exhibitionism, is not. That reverses a rather long tradition of decency that goes back to the first trend setters, Adam and Eve, who started a fad for fig leaves.

Since then, civilised people have shunned walking starkers through the streets. Those who didn’t used to be arrested for public indecency, but that’s no longer a possibility. For indecency to exist, there must be decency – and that condition is no longer met.

That’s why public nudity, immortalised in publicity shots, has become a widespread form of political self-expression for causes worthy or, typically, otherwise.

It has been on display in protests against furs, various wars, culling of animals, LGBT+ rights, women’s and prostitutes’ rights and so on. I wonder why they bother.

Naked women no longer have any shock value, what with the abundance of such images in every medium known to man. If in the old days newsagents coyly wrapped girlie mags in cellophane and kept them on the top shelves, today naked female flesh attacks – or perhaps tickles – our senses at every corner.

One has to believe that all those nudists with a political dimension are there to prove that Marshall McLuhan was right: the medium is the message. They disrobe not because they genuinely think that’ll advance their cause, but because they are attention-seeking sluts with a keen commercial sense.

Miss Amherst has a body to die for, but I doubt she will. In fact. I’m willing to bet she won’t. She’ll simply catch the moment when enough capital has been made out of her stunt and move on to other things. Anti-capitalism perhaps?

And Laura: no cheating by smuggling in bacon sarnies in the middle of the night. Just pretend you’re a naked Bobby Sands.

Lefties don’t think, they feel

First, draw an imaginary political line from right to left. Now decide where you place yourself on that line, and why.

When Hitler met Sally

I’d suggest that, wherever it is, you’ve arrived at your political convictions by an amalgam of reason and feeling, ratiocination and intuition, judgement and prejudice (when I use this word, it’s free of pejorative connotations).

Those who claim their political beliefs are totally rational are deceiving themselves. Ratio is only one ingredient in a complex mix. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that there’s no rationalisation in politics, only post-rationalisation – thinking through something already felt intuitively.

However, the farther left one goes along our imaginary line, the smaller does the rational component become. Feelings, some noble, most despicable, no longer get the benefit of post-rationalisation. By the time we’ve traced the line to the extreme left end, feelings are all that remains.

That’s why I oversimplify when saying that left-wingers aren’t just misguided but actually stupid. They may not be. They may have an IQ breaking through the ceiling of the scale. It’s just that whatever intelligence they possess isn’t involved in their politics.

This brings us to Sally Rooney, the Marxist author of several soft-porn bestsellers with a communist dimension. I’m sure that no one capable of selling books by the million can be stupid, in the IQ sense of the word, but that may be envy talking.

One way or the other, whenever Sally delivers herself of a political statement, it’s clear that her mind took no part in formulating it. Her inspiration in politics, as well as in her art, comes from a different part of herself, one located halfway between her hairline and her toes.

In that spirit, Sally has denied the Israelis the guilty pleasure of enjoying her latest novel in ways that literature isn’t really supposed to be enjoyed. Israel’s hard line on the Palestinians is incompatible with Sally’s soft porn.

“I simply do not feel it would be right for me under the present circumstances to accept a new contract with an Israeli company that does not publicly distance itself from apartheid and support the UN-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people,” explained Sally, a prominent member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Descartes teaches that all knowledge comes from comparing two or more things. Applying that Cartesian wisdom to Sally’s statement, one wonders if she even knows the meaning of the words she uses. She certainly hasn’t arrived at accusations of apartheid by comparing the situation of Arabs in Israel with that of Jews in Arab countries.

Let’s help her out, shall we?

Large numbers of Jews always lived everywhere in the Middle East for many centuries. Yet now Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, the UAE and Qatar have Jewish populations of under 100. Iraq, whose capital was for millennia one of the world’s Jewish centres, now tolerates a mere four Jews. Not four hundred. Not four thousand. Four, as in one small family.

That makes Iraq a Judeophile country compared to Libya, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Jordan. None of them has any Jews at all.

By contrast, Israel is home to 1.9 million Arabs, almost 20 per cent of the population. And they enjoy the kind of civil rights no Arab countries grant even to true-green Muslims.

My point is that it doesn’t even matter whether or not Sally knows these statistics. Her Marxist (which is to say West-hating) viscera demand that Israel be branded as an apartheid state. (I suspect old-fashioned antisemitism also may have a role to play. In politics, this is mostly evinced these days by various socialist, especially Marxist, parties.)

On the other hand, all Arab countries, and especially those wild-eyed Palestinian terrorists, are fighters for universal justice.

Hatred is the main ingredient in the cocktail of Marxist feelings, and in that sense Marxism is no different from Nazism. Hence it’s important to remember that Sally is inspired not by loving Muslims but by hating the West, of which Israel is the sole Middle Eastern bulwark.

For she has no problem with her soft porn being translated into Chinese. She must know that her Chinese comrades are throwing Muslims, the lucky ones, into concentration camps, while killing the unlucky ones out of hand. Not a problem for our Sally.

Nor is she objecting to her books being published in Russia, where more Muslims have been killed in the past 20 years than Israel has managed in the 70 years of defending itself against those who seek its annihilation.

And Marxists, whose faithful comrade Sally is, murdered in one century, the 20th, more people than had died violently in the previous 5,000 years of recorded history.

I can just hear Sally say that Marxism is a sublime idea unfortunately perverted by the excessive zeal of its practitioners.

I wish I had 10 quid for every time I’ve heard this idiocy, and I always reply the same way: “Read The Communist Manifesto and any writings by the founders of the sublime idea, Marx, Engels, Lenin et al. Then tell me which of their aspirations appeal to you.”

Confiscation of all private property? Taking all children from their parents to raise them as wards of the state? Murdering millions of people by category, either race or class? Concentration camps for those who disagree? Complete state control over people’s lives? Conscripting the whole population into labour armies?

All those ideas, and then some, are to be found in the works of Marx and his co-conspirators. If the Bolsheviks perverted their teaching, it’s only in the direction of softening it.

When I say those things, I too speak from emotions, not thought. I go against my own conviction that Marxists don’t think even if they can. They emote, and no rational argument can ever hold sway over visceral feelings. So why bother? One reason only.

Lefties aren’t individuals; they are case studies. That’s why I only talk to or about them when they are typical cases. And Sally is as typical as they come.

Race is academic

Black scientists insist Britain is “institutionally racist” and, being scientists, they try to support that hypothesis with empirical observation expressed in a mathematical form.

And no institutional racism anywhere in sight

Blacks, they’ve discovered, hold a mere 3.5 per cent of professorships. QED. Case made. What other proof of racism can anyone possibly want?

I could reply that, since blacks make up three per cent of the UK’s population, institutional racism is here expressing itself less than stridently. We are, after all, encouraged to believe that every racial and social group must be proportionately represented in everything: government, universities, theatre. An exception is only ever allowed in sports, but it’s the right kind of exception.

Hence, anything greater than three per cent of blacks in professor posts represents reverse discrimination. That, however, isn’t a problem. It’s the right kind of discrimination.

But I’ll leave the number-crunching to those who do it professionally, such as our scientists. Alas, they are probably not social scientists because, if they were, they wouldn’t make such an elementary conceptual error.

No, take that back. Since most of today’s social scientists see Britain as a branch of the Ku Klux Klan, they’d allege anything to confirm their ideological bias. So let’s just say that real social scientists would know how to analyse and juxtapose demographic data objectively.

For discrimination may not be responsible for the underrepresentation of some groups. Moreover, on general principle, it’s extremely unlikely that British universities, which are all competing for the accolade of Wokier Than Thou, would practise institutional racism. They’d be more inclined to discriminate in favour of blacks.

That aside, the hypothesis of academic racism fails the Popper test: it can be neither proved nor falsified empirically. It can only be stated as an a priori assertion in the form of an unsound syllogism: the UK is institutionally racist. There aren’t enough black professors in UK universities. Ergo, UK universities are institutionally racist.

It’s nothing short of astounding how scientists fail to apply their customary methodology to their ideological biases. If they didn’t, they’d realise that a multitude of factors determine the proportion of blacks (or anyone else) within a professional (or any other) group.

For one thing, proportionate representation in any group has never been achieved anywhere, even when that was an explicit intent. For example, there is no evidence that parents discriminate against their younger children – in fact, the opposite is just as likely.

Nevertheless firstborn children win more academic honours than all their younger siblings combined – even in families with as many as five children. And Asians, who are as likely as blacks to be victims of prejudice, consistently outperform whites in all academic and professional outcomes.

Thomas Sowell (himself black) points out that in the last half of the 20th century, Jews – who make up less than one per cent of global population – received 22 per cent of the Nobel Prizes in chemistry and 32 per cent in both medicine and physics. This in spite of having found themselves on the receiving end of hatred and abuse in many parts of the world for centuries.

To understand why there aren’t relatively more black professors than blacks in the population, we’d have to look at hundreds of variables, such as: proportions of single-parent families, median incomes, school attendance, drug and alcohol use, areas of residence, numbers of books in households, motivations to succeed academically.

And I’m even willing to risk summary arrest by suggesting that the median IQs of various groups may also play a role. In the US, for example, the descending order of collective median IQs is as follows: Asians, Jews, non-Jewish whites, blacks. This also happens to be the descending order of their economic and professional success.

Sowell doesn’t dispute that blacks have a lower median IQ, although he shows convincingly that, as blacks ascend the social ladder, their IQ improves, to the point where it’s indistinguishable from the whites’. 

In general, he denies that any institutional bias currently exists anywhere in the anglophone West. But then Sowell is an honest scholar and a first-rate thinker. We no longer expect to find such people among our academics of any colour, certainly not when they pronounce on social and cultural issues.

When scientists lose the ability to look at data dispassionately and go anywhere the data take them, you know the end of the world is nigh. And when they don’t even bother to look at the data before spouting off, you know the end has already arrived.

What planet does HRH live on?

Certainly not on the one he professes to love so much. If he were indeed an earthling, he’d have a firmer grasp on life, people and events.

And for my next trick…

Prince Charles is a man of infinite compassion and understanding. That’s good, in general. Except that he seems to reserve those laudable feelings for assorted ecofascists, such as Extinction Rebellion, Insulate Britain and Greta Thunberg.

“All these young people feel nothing is ever happening so of course they’re going to get frustrated,” commiserated HRH. “I totally understand because nobody would listen and they see their future being totally destroyed.”

I’ve always had reservations about Charles’s intellect, but now I’m beginning to be worried about his sanity as well. For divorce from reality is the first symptom of schizophrenia.

“Nobody would listen”, Your Royal Highness? Are you joking?

Alas, everyone listens to that evil child with learning difficulties: presidents, prime ministers, parliamentarians, the UN, the EU and even heirs to some worthy thrones. Greta’s illiterate, hysterical harangues are treated with the reverence denied God’s Commandments.

When Trump once appeared mildly dismissive in her saintly presence, he was skewered by public indignation. Whatever next! Is he going to say there are only so many Haitians the US should welcome? Off with his head.

Nor is it just Greta. All those thugs using climate as a pretext for screaming their hatred of our civilisation enjoy as wide an audience as they wish. And it’s not just that grown-ups listen to them – they do as they are told, or rather screamed.

Heads of governments, including ours, have committed their countries to destroying their economies and impoverishing their people for the sake of acting on Greta’s febrile fantasies. Doing otherwise would paint a giant target on their backs, and anyone, from the press to the opposition parties, would be taking pot shots.

As to those poor youngsters who paralyse city centres and block major thoroughfares, their future isn’t threatened by warm weather. It’s threatened by their own thuggish idiocy – and by those who take their obscene propaganda at face value.

“I understand why they go out but it isn’t helpful I don’t think to do it in a way that alienates people,” continued the prince. Right. So blocking the M25 to prevent ambulances from taking people to hospital isn’t “helpful”?

It’s actually quite a bit worse than that. It’s criminal, and the police should disperse those crazed fanatics with maximum force (live rounds would be my preference, but I realise that’s too much to hope for), arrest those who resist and fast-track them to trial and prison.

HRH then started mouthing the sort of nonsense that made one feel he must have been delirious. Apparently, his Aston Martin runs on the by-products of wine- and cheese-making.

There I detected a kindred soul. Wine and cheese figure prominently in my driving too, every time I go home after a dinner out. But I put them inside myself, not my fuel tank, and I do recommend this saner option.

I also feel like trading my 3-litre car for a real guzzler, just to spite HRH and the cretins with whom he feels so much kinship. And I want to upgrade my diet for the same reason.

For HRH boasted that he abstains from meat and fish on two days a week, and dairy on one. “If more people did that it would reduce a lot of the pressure on the environment,” opined the prince.

I eat meat or fish every day, but now I’ll probably switch to twice a day, and cholesterol be damned. On second thoughts, perhaps not. One should avoid childish gestures.

But just imagine how much better off the environment would be if more people starved, which incidentally many have throughout history, every time the Earth – sorry, I mean ‘our planet’ – was going through its glacial periods. Conversely, during the interglacial periods, like the one today and also in Roman and medieval times, crops grew abundant, cattle grew fat, people were well-fed.

And what do you know, when grapes grew in the north of Scotland, and global temperatures were some 10 degrees higher than now, those toga-clad Romans shunned SUVs, aerosol sprays and jet travel. And the Scots, who hadn’t yet invented kilts, walked around wearing next to nothing.

Speaking of the gruesome fate awaiting ‘our planet’, the prince played Cassandra on heavy downers: “It’ll be catastrophic. It is already beginning to be catastrophic because nothing in nature can survive the stress that is created by these extremes of weather.”

He should talk to God about this, telling him to amend His ways. Lord, I can hear HRH say, we beseech thee, please desist from what thou hast been doing ever since thou created our, or rather thy, planet. Please spare us that ever-changing solar activity that produces these extremes in weather.

Then the skies will open, and a booming voice will come from high above: “Charles, don’t worry about things you don’t understand. Go home, stop pouring good claret into your fuel tank – and don’t be a royal pain.”

P.S. Tory MP Dehenna Davison has come out as bisexual, assuring the nation that her sexuality is no big deal. If so, why did she have to declare it publicly? My guess is she knew someone was about to out her and decided to preempt that attack by beating that reprobate to the punch.

All boxes ticked (except one)

Prof. Kathleen Stock seems to have every qualification to lecture on philosophy at a modern university, in her case Sussex.

“You are a transphobe!”

She focuses her intellectual powers on a branch of philosophy unknown to Plato or Kant: gender and sexual orientation. TICK.

She is left-wing, thereby meeting an ironclad requirement for a professor of the humanities. DOUBLE TICK.

She is a woman. MULTIPLE TICKS, especially since this commendable ‘gender orientation’ is rare among philosophers (and, Elizabeth Anscombe excepted, nonexistent among important ones).

She is a lesbian. Even MORE TICKS, for this ‘sexual orientation’ delivers a slap in the face of traditional morality – and isn’t that what philosophy is all about?

What more could one possibly wish for? Quite a bit, actually. For modernity is nothing if not absolutist. It isn’t enough to tick many, or even most, boxes. If one remains unticked, the offender is cancelled.

In Prof. Stock’s case, that box is one in which she branded herself as an out-and-out transphobe. If your modern is rusty, allow me to translate.

You may be confused by the eclectic derivation of this term: the prefix trans- is Latin, while the root phobia is Greek. Incidentally, the same stylistic misalliance occurs in the word homosexual, suggesting that… well, it must suggest something.

Yet in modern usage phobia has shed its Greek meaning of inordinate morbid fear. It now means reservations about anything for which enthusiasm is mandated to be unreserved.

Hence transphobia, of which Prof. Stock is guilty in the eyes of the student body. No, she doesn’t re-enact the famous Edvard Munch painting every time she espies a former boy walking through the groves as a girl. She only maintains that, appearances notwithstanding, the boy remains biologically a boy: the sex one is cursed with at birth stays with one forever.

ONLY maintains?!? screams the collective student throat. And it’s not just the students – some faculty members are shouting the loudest.

She is a transphobe! Fascist! She must be sacked! If not, we’ll take care of her in other ways! Next thing you know she’ll say that a woman with a penis shouldn’t be allowed into women’s showers!

Actually, that’s exactly what the stubborn philosopher says, that conclusion representing a logical deduction from the a priori statement of immutable innate sex or, if you will, gender. In other words, SHE PERSISTS!

The students’ rage boiled over and burst into action. Prof. Stock has received hundreds of messages ranging from strong rebukes to physical threats. The pedestrian tunnel leading to the campus now bears signs saying she “makes trans students unsafe”, “Stock out!” and “We’re not paying £9,250 a year for transphobia”. They missed out on “Stock in the stocks!” which I’m happy to offer.

Prof. Stock knows where this sort of thing can lead. Though too young to have witnessed the orgy of student violence in the sixties, mainly in the US and France, she must have read about it. Why, she may even know the term soixante-huitard, educated woman that she is.

Hence, while proclaiming as loudly as she can that she isn’t a transphobe – God, who doesn’t exist, forbid! – Prof. Stock is listening to the advice to hire bodyguards, although she hasn’t taken that action just yet.

Perhaps she draws strength from the support she is receiving from the university’s powers-that-be. Speaking to the BBC, Vice Chancellor Tickell said: “It’s absolutely clear that all of our staff have an untrammelled right to say and believe what they think. So we take it very seriously if people try to prevent that right from being exercised.

“I have to say I am really concerned that we have masked protesters, putting up posters, calling for the sacking of somebody for exercising her right to articulate her views…”

A friend of mine welcomed this statement as a sign that sanity may be launching a fightback. That was one of the few instances when he and I disagreed.

My pessimism was encouraged by what Prof. Tickell said next: “I think what we have to do is we have to listen to people. We have very strong policies both on freedom of speech and on inclusion.” There’s an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one.

The moment a university administrator boasts of strong policies on inclusion, sanity has lost. The subject of ‘inclusion’ shouldn’t even come up at an academic institution. If it does, strategic ground is ceded, and it can never be recovered.

Cretinous youngsters shouldn’t be allowed to dictate the terms of debate. The proper response to the accusation “You’re a transphobe” is neither “No, I’m not” nor “We have strong policies against transphobia”. It’s “If you use this word again, you can kiss the university good-bye.”

In the same vein, when a professor is threatened by the British answer to China’s Red Guards, the youngsters shouldn’t be encouraged “to listen to people”. They must be expelled and reported to the police.

Yes, there are a few supposedly encouraging signs that some resistance to the rabid attacks on our civilisation is being put up. But somehow I, unlike my friend, don’t feel encouraged. The overall curve zigzags in one direction only, and its peaks are much greater than its troughs.

Some resistance is indeed observable, but it’s too meek and may well be too late. No institution seems to reject the key presuppositions of modernity, even if some take issue with their more extreme manifestations.

When the metaphysical battle is lost, the physical defeat is bound to follow. That’s how glossocracy works: whoever controls words, controls ideas; whoever controls ideas ends up controlling everything.

Thus speaks the voice of my reason. But the voice of my heart is begging for my reason to be proved wrong.

Prison leads the way

Following the High Court’s ruling, male criminals identifying as women are now put in women’s prisons. This upholds the sacred principles we are all told to live by.

That’ll teach you to use the right pronouns

Those who tell us to live by such principles are prepared to accept any ensuing sacrifice, provided someone else has to make it. In this case, the sacrifices may be dire.

Since female self-identification no longer has to involve penile amputation, the newly converted women, especially those of a violent disposition, often proceed to rape every woman they can get their hands on, sometime even including the female warders.

Never mind. Those well-hung libidinous girls are still classified as women, and prisoners who refuse to address them as such may extend their stay at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

The pronoun war has spilled over into jails. Calling a trans woman ‘he’ or ‘him’ now falls under the rubric of “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour”, similar to, say, brandishing a shiv.

An offender against pronoun rectitude will be assessed by an independent adjudicator who will decide whether the offence was malevolent or accidental. If it’s the former, extra time may be tagged on to the current sentence.

Like any other conflict, the pronoun war must have its casualties, and prisoners are the first line of defence to be cut down. However, wars have a tendency to escalate.

The first shots may be fired in prisons, but the logic of warfare will guarantee a full-blown cannonade on the out as well. Before long, anyone refusing to use the dictated pronouns will have his/her/its/their collar felt.

It stands to reason, doesn’t it? If wrong pronouns are punishable by prison time, it’s only fair that the same law should apply to those who haven’t yet been incarcerated. We are all believers in equality, aren’t we? Of course we are.

‘Equality’ and ‘levelling’ figure so prominently in practically every political speech that it’s hard not to infer that such virtues supersede all others. If so, then prison provides a perfect model for society at large.

Politicians of all hues won’t admit it, but it’s true. Prison is the ultimate ideal they see in their mind’s eye, the only arena in which the battle for equality has been won decisively and irreversibly.

Prison is a microcosm only waiting for a quantum event to expand indefinitely. That big bang won’t be long in coming.

Just think: prisoners are equal in everything. They all have the same housing, food, clothes, schedule of activities, access to sports and entertainment, communications facilities, work duties if any.

True, they are also all equal in their institutional inferiority to the warders, but that in no way violates the sacred principle. Champions of equality, especially those in government and its environs, assume that they themselves will occupy a lofty perch whence they can look down on perfectly equalised hoi-polloi.

This arrangement was prophesied by Dostoyevsky in his novel The Possessed: “Everyone belongs to everybody, and everybody to everyone. All are slaves and equal in their slavery. There may be slander or murder in extreme cases, but equality is the main thing.”

The Soviets banned the novel because it treated such prophesies as a dystopic nightmare rather than a worthy ideal. How long before the same will happen here?

The ultimate equality of all before the omnipotent state presupposes book burning. The match has already been struck, and the kindling is already smouldering.

For example, books where racially pejorative terms are used are being expunged from school curricula, even if the book is as passionately anti-racist as Huckleberry Finn. I’m sure that the turn will soon come of books featuring sinful pronouns.

And then recalcitrant writers may follow such books to the pyre. See you there.

P.S. ‘Conservative’ pundits both here and in France are salivating at the prospect of their French colleague, Eric Zemmour, mounting a serious challenge in the upcoming presidential elections.

I’m sure Col. Putin is ecstatic too – Zemmour is his adulatory admirer. This is what he wrote in Le Figaro: “While France has renounced her former mission, Putin has become the last defender of Eastern Christianity. …He defends national sovereignty, family and the Orthodox religion.”

And there I was, thinking I’d never root for Manny Macron.

Over a barrel

Clinton’s boy James Carville got it wrong: it’s not the economy, stupid. It’s the will to live.

For, while separate countries can be killed by outsiders, whole civilisations only ever die by suicide. There are all sorts of bullets they can fire into their own brain, all sorts of stakes they can drive through their own heart.

But it’s not the method but the underlying cause that matters: sooner or later, civilisations lose the will to live. Once that goes, they can self-administer euthanasia in any number of ways, such as destroying their own economy or putting it at the mercy of their enemies.

Yet it’s metaphysical collapse that’s the disease, with economic suicide only its symptom. And in today’s Europe, emphatically including Britain, this symptom is most virulent.

Our civilisation has systematically destroyed its soul, hoping that the body would be so much the stronger for it. Alas, things don’t work out that way.

There’s only so much moral corruption that a civilisation can handle, and we haven’t just crossed that line – we’ve bloody well erased it.

We’ve put our fate in the hands of politicians, knowing in advance that some of them would turn out to be corrupt. What we didn’t bargain for was that the whole system, and everyone in it, would be corrupt in the worst possible way, miles beyond the odd backhander greasing the odd palm.

The current Pandora investigation has shown that 34 Conservative (!) MPs are in Putin’s pocket. Perhaps. But if the remaining 626 MPs of all parties aren’t taking Putin’s ruble, it’s only because they didn’t get the offer.

There are no moral hurdles they’d have to clear, no scruples they’d have to overcome. It’s just that they’d have to be less open in their moral decrepitude than they become once out of office. Just look at the careers of Messrs Blair, Cameron, Osborne et al., and you’ll get the general idea.

While still in office, they put the whole country on suicide watch, with the watchers all blind. If you think this judgement is too extreme, I’ll be happy to entertain other explanations for the present situation.

Which, in broad strokes, is as follows. European (hereinafter also to include British) politicians have accepted on faith the pernicious, ignorant fallacy of man-made global warming.

How could they not, considering how hysterically they were scolded by an evil, retarded child from Sweden? Thus persuaded, they began to dismantle the existing energy industries: oil, gas, coal and nuclear (this last one is still hanging on in Britain). And of course they forswore any further exploration, leaving a vast reservoir of shale gas going untapped underfoot.

They then committed their countries to replacing all engines powered by fossil fuels with electric ones. Hence the demand for electricity, which is already growing exponentially, will shoot through the stratosphere.

This is supposed to be met by wind farms (provided the wind blows) and solar panels (provided the sun shines). If these parenthetic conditions aren’t met, our energy is supposed to come from… well, Russia of course, or perhaps the Muslim countries.

Neither of those is a friend of the West. In fact, both are our self-declared doctrinal enemies. Hence it should have been predictable long in advance that their energy largesse will come with a ganglion of political strings attached.

With Europe heading for a shivering spell this winter, Putin reached for the gas control valve, with his hand stopping an inch away. Do you want the gas to flow?

Well then, in that case: [approve Nord Stream 2, remove all sanctions, recognise Russia’s interests in the post-Soviet space, elect transparent Russian spies to Parliament, stop blocking Russian propaganda, turn a blind eye on Russian money laundering – you name it].

Do you, Mr West, accept these conditions? A roaring chorus came in reply: YOU BET WE DO! ANYTHING YOU WANT!!!

To be fair, some of those hypothetical demands aren’t exactly hypothetical. Most have already been met throughout Europe, and I assure you that the 34 MPs popping out of the Pandora box barely scratch the surface of wholesale corruption.

Against that background, it’s pointless trying to compare the relative military strength of NATO and Putin’s Russia. The Western gun may be bigger, but that doesn’t matter if it never fires – or, worse still, is used for suicide.

A Europe at the end of a string pulled by Putin’s kleptofascist gang will no longer be Europe in any other than the purely geographical sense. Western governments proudly (if not always truthfully) proclaim that they won’t negotiate with terrorists. Clearly, they feel that an abject surrender to energy blackmail is a different matter altogether.

Everything I’ve mentioned so far is of course a simplification of a devilishly complex problem. Yes, our politicians can be bought retail or wholesale. But they don’t exist in a vacuum.

We are all passengers on a giant merry-go-round that’s gathering so much speed that jumping off is impossible. Or, if you prefer a different metaphor, cogs in a civilisational machine that has run out of gas metaphysically, not just physically.

That’s why we shouldn’t wonder if our politicians are stupid. Some are, most aren’t, but it’s irrelevant either way. It’s not that they don’t understand what’s good for the country – it’s that they inhale the zeitgeist and stop caring about anything other than their own careers.

Jean-Claude Juncker, whom I unkindly nicknamed ‘Junk’, put it in a nutshell. “We all know what to do,” he said. “We just don’t know how to get re-elected once we’ve done it.” A tectonic shift had to happen to make that aphorism true to life.

A civilisation in the grip of a death wish is impervious to reason in thought or deed. If someone tried to stay its suicidal hand, he would be brushed aside – we must kill ourselves, and we won’t be stopped.

P.S. Speaking of civilisational suicide, to put younger bums on pews the Bournemouth church of St Michael will henceforth be called St Mike’s. I wonder what St Matt, St Pete, St Jim, St Jack and St Andy would have to say about that.

P.P.S. On the same subject: Dmitry Muratov, editor of the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, has just won a share of the Nobel prize. The paper is owned by the career KGB officer, Alexander Lebedev, who’s also the proxy owner of our own Evening Standard and Independent. The official owner is his son Evgeny, elevated to the House of Lords by his friend Boris Johnson.