Mind your language

Or, to turn it around, your language is your mind. This is a far-reaching statement, and one I know I can’t prove or disprove scientifically.

My only consolation is that neither can anyone else – and for no lack of trying. Neurophysiologists, psychologists and practitioners of God only knows how many other disciplines have been trying, and failing, for yonks to establish an ironclad link between language and thought.

Billions have been pumped into all those Genome Projects, Decades of the Brain and similar megalomaniac undertakings – all for the scientists to find out that some parts of their scanner displays sometimes light up and sometimes they don’t.

However, leaving the realm of forensic proof for that of observation and speculative inference, one can’t help noticing that native speakers of different languages think differently.

I don’t mean the destination of their thought process, but the process itself: its structure, directness, accents, emotional colouring and so on. And even in the absence of a scanner with its blinking display, I am still certain that one’s thinking technique is inextricably linked with one’s native (or first) language.

(The parenthetical phrase above points to a distinction. True enough, I can testify from personal experience that one’s mother tongue doesn’t necessarily remain one’s first language for life.)

It’s even possible to generalise that a nation’s language shapes its character. Or it may be the other way around, but a strong link exists in either case.

The two languages I know best, English and Russian, provide useful material for comparative study. They are as different as two European languages can be, and, as anyone with first-hand experience of the English and the Russians can testify, the same goes for the way they think.

Comparing an Englishman and a Russian of equally high intelligence, one is struck by how differently they shape their thoughts. Borrowing art terms, an Englishman is likely to be a classicist, while a Russian will be leaning towards impressionism at best, abstract expressionism at worst.

If an argument between the two occurs, they’d both be frustrated with each other.

The Russian will think that the Englishman can’t see the forest of ultimate truth for the trees of coldblooded casuistic detail and disembodied sequential reasoning. The Englishman will feel that the Russian can irresponsibly say anything that comes to his mind, colouring it with misplaced, effusive emotion and ignoring elementary logic.

Both will have a point, although neither may ascribe the difference to his mother tongue. Yet I’m convinced that’s where at least some of the problem lies.

The complete lexicon of English has roughly three times the number of words as Russian. Even if we make allowances for the many technical areas with their recondite terminology being more advanced in the Anglophone countries, the disparity is still vast.

That enables an educated Anglophone to fracture concepts into finely nuanced fragments, each precisely defined. But that doesn’t necessarily mean a Russian won’t be able to communicate most of the same nuances.

But where an Englishman can hit the bull’s eye with one accurately aimed word, a Russian will have to look for a roundabout, descriptive route to the same target.

That makes him too verbose and vague for the English taste, while the Russian will deplore his interlocutor’s obsession with desiccated precision. The Russian will also be more likely to fill the lexical gaps with emotive inflection, making the Englishman wince.

All in all, and I know the skies will open and the god of wokery will smite me with his lightning, the English language and hence thought tend to be masculine, and the Russian, feminine. This isn’t to suggest that one is superior to the other — only that they are different.

The same goes for the two grammars.

Russian is a morphological language, whereas English is an analytical one. In linguistics, a morphological language relies on adding affixes to the same root to convey both nuances of meaning and the word’s relationship with other words in the same sentence. An analytical language, on the other hand, keeps the words stable while relying on other words, such as particles and prepositions, to do the same job.

The Russophones among you will know what I mean, but for the benefit of others this is what a Russian can do by adding different suffixes to the sacramental word ‘vodka’. Talking to those who indeed hold that word as sacred, one can hear vodochka, vodchishka, vodchishechka, vodchyonka, vodchyonochka – and I’m sure I’ve left some possibilities out.

All those suffixes convey different degrees of emotional attachment, something that an Anglophone will struggle to do within the confines of a single word. We can say drinkypoo, but something like whiskykin would be stretching it.

To borrow a term from yet another field, the molecule of a Russian root has a greater valence, which goes some way towards making up for the lower number of words.

It’s not just words, it’s also sentences. An English speaker has to have a good reason for inverting the lapidary structure of subject-predicate-object and will only do so for stylistic emphasis. (Compare “I like vodka” with “Vodka I like”.)

A Russian sentence, on the other hand, has no lapidary sentence structure, no prescribed word order. That enables Russians to play fast and loose with their sentences, although it wouldn’t be quite accurate to say their word order is entirely arbitrary. Still, Russian grammar isn’t nearly as structured as the English equivalent, which allows for greater freedom – but also for greater slackness and sloppiness.

The combination of profuse suffixes and free sentence structure make Russian a better language than English for writing poetry, especially rhymed verse. Even Russian poets of modest talent can produce excellent poems, whereas it takes a great poet to do so in English.

In the hands of a lesser artist (some of the Lake poets come to mind), English rhymed poetry often sounds like doggerel. That’s why, unable to rely on affixation to produce interesting rhymes, English poets have always gravitated to blank or free verse much more than their Russian colleagues ever have.

At the same time, Russian doesn’t even come close to English in the genre of the essay. This may explain why Russia has only produced a couple of internationally recognised philosophers.

English enables its practitioners to achieve the ultimate freedom of expression, something for which a rigid discipline is a sine qua non. At the same time, the terminological precision of English is a valuable tool in the hands of an adept user.

Russians, on the other hand, don’t recognise discipline as a precondition for freedom, a failing that transcends language, going all the way to thought in general and political thought in particular. The old Russian word for freedom, volia, is etymologically related to ‘will’, and indeed freedom for a Russian is the ability to do as he will, not to have his rights protected by the discipline of just law.

In poll after poll, the Russians opt in overwhelming numbers for a strong leader in preference to any legal system – something unthinkable for an educated Englishman (or anyone else raised under the aegis of English Common Law). A scholar will identify, correctly, any number of historical, social, cultural and economic reasons for that difference.

Yet language is unlikely to rate a mention as an important factor, which is unfortunate. I thinks it merits pride of place among the dynamics forming a consciousness, both collective and individual. In the very least, this link deserves serious attention.

Moral martial muddle

You know what happens to a compass placed next to a metal bar? It goes haywire, pointing this way and that – anyone who then uses it as a navigational aid will go nowhere fast.

The same goes for the moral compass placed next to the secular modern ethos. People can no longer orient themselves in a kaleidoscopically changing landscape, especially when the landscape becomes a battlefield.

This brings me to TV Rain (Dozhd’), the independent Russian channel thrown out of Russia and now licensed to broadcast out of Latvia. (And there I was, thinking that all those former Soviet republics suppress everything Russian, including the language. Wasn’t that the point, Vlad?)

The channel’s current mission is to exonerate the Russian people from the crimes committed by the Russian government. Dozhd’ founder, Natalia Sindeyeva put it in a nutshell: “Putin isn’t Russia, Russian people aren’t Putin. And it’s not the Russian people who are bombing the Ukraine.” Well, it’s certainly not Bolivians.

I could write a plump tome on that subject, but in this abbreviated format I’d rather draw your attention to another statement by Miss Sindeyeva, one that has created a maelstrom of comments in the émigré press. She expressed empathy for “our poor mobilised boys, freezing in the woods, having nowhere to live, no food, no proper clothes…”

Liberal Russian journalists, most of them now in exile, have joined forces to accuse Miss Sindeyeva of every mortal sin. Prime among them is “universal humanism”, a term they use in the sense of indiscriminate empathy. The Russo-German columnist Igor Eidman has thus summed up the prevailing attitude:

“I am on the Ukraine’s side, wish her victory and look at the situation from the Ukrainian perspective. That’s why I can’t pity Russian soldiers, feel empathy for them. One can pity POWs, but not armed invaders. Even if they are hungry, cold and went to war not of their own accord.”

I unequivocally agree with the first sentence and just as unequivocally disagree with the subsequent ones. But in order to make a cogent argument, I have to remove the moral compass from any proximity to the iron bar of the modern ethos.

The lump of metal in question goes by the name of ‘humanism’. The word has been forced to do so many jobs that its real meaning has fallen by the wayside. For most people, including those Russian journalists, the word has got to mean love of man. Yet the full stop is premature there.

I’d suggest that the true, historical meaning of humanism is professed love of man as a way of cocking a snook at God. Humanism yanked morality out of heaven and tossed it to the ground, where it shattered into an infinite number of fragments.

Human beings, now empowered by their cognate ism, were each freed to pick up whichever fragment they fancied and use it as their moral guide. Except that a closer look revealed that newly acquired wasn’t so much freedom as anarchy. The demise of collective morality left people to their own devices – and vices.

As humanism gathered pace, it predictably proved to be rather inhuman. The 20th century, the first humanist one from start to finish, produced more violent deaths than the previous five millennia of recorded history combined.

People were being taught a lesson: morality can’t conquer on earth unless it comes from heaven. But they didn’t heed the lesson – they could no longer think in those terms.

Trained to believe that every man is his own judge, they failed to detect the incongruity of being both player and referee in the game of morality. They didn’t notice that the arrow of their moral compass was spinning around faster than the second hand of a stopwatch.

Hence the muddle in which those Russian commentators found themselves: their sights were set wrongly. Attacking Miss Sindeyeva’s “indiscriminate humanism”, they targeted the adjective instead of the real culprit, the noun.

In pre-humanist times, the argument wouldn’t have arisen. It would have been nipped in the bud by this imperative sentence: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…”

This commandment is often misinterpreted as a statement of pacifism. So it would be, if expressed by someone like Tolstoy, his disciple Gandhi or any of their current followers. When expressed by Christ, it was a statement of higher, divine morality reflecting the new understanding of man vouchsafed to an uncomprehending world.

Men were told to love one another not because they were all equally lovable, but because God loved them all equally. And He loved all human beings not because they were angelic but because they were indeed human, creatures made in the image of God and endowed with life everlasting.

That kind of love didn’t mean awarding identical marks to every deed men commit during their earthly life, far from it. But it did mean a promise of salvation in eternity, which is an act of love at its most sublime.

That’s what loving one’s enemy means: a hope for his eternal salvation. Each person, including our mortal enemy, is entitled to this core love based on the respect for his humanity, as created by God.

Feeling for his earthly suffering is corollary to that. This shouldn’t stop a soldier from shooting an evil invader point-blank or eviscerating him with a bayonet. That type of violence is just when it stops or deters violence that’s unjust. But it doesn’t preclude love – and even empathy.

I support the Ukraine’s resistance to Russian fascism as strongly as Mr Eidman does. And I’m not even as ready as Miss Sindeyeva is to exculpate the Russian people in general from the evil war they are fighting against the Ukraine.

I too hope the Ukrainians will drive the Russian invaders out, which has to mean wishing they kill more thousands of the soldiers Miss Sindeyeva describes as “our boys”. And yet that bloodlust doesn’t prevent me from feeling empathy for those youngsters, freezing and starving in the icy, brick-hard Ukrainian mud.

You decide whether this makes me a moral relativist or a moral absolutist. I’m sure it’s the latter, but those ‘liberal’ journalists might disagree.

P.S. Early this morning, Ukrainian drones hit the Engels base of Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers near Saratov on the Volga. Two of the bombers used for terrorist missile attacks on the Ukraine were destroyed.

Apparently, the new drones, designed and manufactured by the Ukraine herself, carry a 75 kg payload to a range of up to 1,000 km. Since Moscow is but 500 k from the Ukrainian border, this gives Putin yet another headache. Well done, Ukraine!

UK is bombing Irish cities

Such is an inescapable inference from the comments made by Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the European Commission and the new oracle of moral equivalence.

EU’s historian in residence

Though named after a British saint, it’s safe to say Ursula has little time for Britain. In that spirit she likened Russia’s genocidal war on the Ukraine to our historic rule of Ireland.

This reminds me of a story my late father-in-law told me. During the war he was sent to Belfast on some military business and naturally dropped by a pub for a pint of the black stuff.

His uniform acted on the locals the way a red rag acts on a bull. Though they didn’t gore my future father-in-law, they felt called upon to vent their criticism of the British army.

“British soldiers have killed our civilians, burnt our houses and crops, raped our women…,” they ranted, and my future father-in-law was both aghast and incredulous. That sort of behaviour wasn’t something he readily associated with the army in which he served.

“British soldiers have done that?” he asked, allowing some doubt to creep into his voice. “When?” “Under bloody Cromwell,” explained the historically minded drinkers, referring to the 1649-1653 reconquest of Ireland, during which the Irish indeed suffered an appalling loss of life.

Now, I realise some historical scars take time to heal. Still, going three centuries back in search of grievances strikes me as excessive. But note that those Irish pub-crawlers didn’t mention a much more recent conflict with Britain, the Irish War of Independence that had ended just 20 years earlier.

It’s a fair guess that, had the British matched Cromwell’s homicidal zeal in the war of 1919-1921, Cromwellian atrocities would have been overshadowed in the Irishmen’s minds. Yet it was that war that von der Leyen had in mind when indulging in her bit of ignorant and malicious moral equivalence.

Addressing the Irish Parliament in Dublin to celebrate some sort of EU anniversary, she said: “This country knows what it means to struggle for the right to exist. Today, another European nation is fighting for independence. Of course, Ireland is far away from the front line in Ukraine. But you understand better than most why this war matters so much to all of us.”

(I dismissed that EU anniversary as “some sort” although I know she was talking about the 50th anniversary of Ireland’s joining the EU. That was a typical federastic legerdemain. For the EU didn’t exist in 1972, what with the Maastricht Treaty still 21 years away. What existed was the European Economic Community, whose leaders were at pains to conceal their plan of creating a single European state by a series of incremental steps.)  

It would be easy to accuse Ursula of ignorance, but that would be letting her off way too easily. The statement she was making had nothing to do with historical facts, which I’m sure she knows as well as I do, and everything to do with the vindictive EU attempts to punish Britain for the temerity of refusing to be bossed by the likes of Ursula.

In her eyes, Brexit makes Britain a terrorist, fascist state like Russia, and never mind the nuances. The syllogism is there for all to see. Thesis: Putin doesn’t like the EU. Antithesis: Britain doesn’t like the EU. Synthesis: Britain is as evil as Putin’s Russia.

The EU would love to apply to Britain the same punitive measures as it did to Russia, but it has to acknowledge that, unlike Russia, Britain has broken no international laws. And she is certainly not perpetrating genocide in Ireland or anywhere else.

Hence a package of wholesale sanctions and boycotts can’t be on the table. The table can only be set with stealth and perfidy.

Such fine stratagems are coded in the EU’s DNA, and it’s Ireland that the EU chose as a whip with which to lash Britain. Since the Republic of Ireland is an EU member, her border with Ulster has been turned into a front line of the EU’s punitive raid.

While tacitly encouraging the separatist tendencies in Northern Ireland, those that produced Britain’s surrender on Blair’s watch, the EU openly puts into effect border controls that are much more stringent than at other entry points. This, Ursula and her ilk hope, will drive a deeper wedge between the Republic and the UK, ideally leading to another Time of Troubles and the breakup of the United Kingdom.

I shan’t emulate Ursula by drawing historical parallels, although Prussia’s 19th century Zollverein is worth studying as a lesson in how economic levers can act as mechanisms of political subjugation.

Suffice it to say that her remarks betoken open hostility to Britain, an animus deep enough for the EU’s top politician to sink into the morass of unfounded, impassioned rants. These come at a point when Sunak’s administration is making overtures to the EU, hinting at a possibility of some sort of compromise.

We’ve walked over that terrain back and forth so much and so often, it’s densely covered with thousands of footprints. There’s always room for compromise in diplomacy, but national sovereignty is a binary yes-or-no proposition.

And here a parallel between the Ukraine and Britain is indeed appropriate – not one between Britain and Putin’s fascist state.

The Ukrainians are dying in their thousands to make good their clean break from their former masters. Britain merely risks some economic discomfort at worst to stand up to EU bullies, finally shaking the dust of that pernicious contrivance off her feet.

When one thinks of the sacrifices the country made during Germany’s previous attempt to unite Europe, one is reminded yet again that Rishi Sunak is no Winston Churchill. Mercifully, Ursula von der Leyen is no Adolph Hitler either.       

Our royals are running scared

The Prince and Princess of Wales are in the US, pressing flesh and sharing with the public their deep concern about warm weather.

The future of ‘our planet’ is in safe hands

At the same time, their spokesman adumbrates the arrival of cancel culture at the Palace, welcoming the brutal, indecent dismissal of Lady Hussey: “Racism has no place in our society.”

Our commentators are falling over themselves hailing the couple for “making the monarchy more modern”. A noble effort, that, but no match for the Sussexes who are up for an award in New York for their “heroic” (and rather lucrative) stance against the “structural racism” of the royal family.

Alas, this sort of thing didn’t start with the younger generations of the royals. The idea that the monarchy must march in step with every malodorous fad extruded by the bowels of modernity was advocated – or at least not contradicted too strongly – by Prince William’s father and even by his late grandmother, God bless her.

A cynic like me is bound to question the sincerity of such sentiments, or at least its extent. And if, as I suspect, the family isn’t wholly driven by genuine beliefs, one has to wonder what else may motivate them.

The answer is fairly obvious: fear. The royals think, justifiably, that, if they walk and talk truly royal, they are the ones who’ll find themselves on the receiving end of cancel culture.

Poll after poll shows that the republican sentiment is weak in Britain. But if you believe such surveys, there is a bridge over the Thames I’d like to sell you.

Yes, the salt of the English earth, the old Tory-voting lower and middle classes, tend to be monarchist or at least not too violently anti-monarchist. But they constitute the silent majority rapidly becoming the silent – and cancelled – minority.

Even their sympathies are fickle, largely at the mercy of swings in public mood. And if, as one can confidently predict, Labour turns an 80-seat Tory majority into a 100-seat majority for themselves at the next election, that will indeed reflect a swing in public mood, not just in electoral fortunes. The vociferous minority is already doing well but, when it becomes the majority, it’ll sweep all before it.

And then the dormant republican sentiment will break through the dam of the erstwhile affection for the late Queen and her husband. I can’t predict the form that outburst will take, only that it’ll put paid to the monarchy as we know it.

I suspect that de jure cancellation is unlikely for a generation or two. But the de facto demolition of everything the monarchy should, and used to, stand for is on the cards.

As it is, I find it remarkable that the dynasty has managed to survive for as long as it has, given the congenital conflict between this institution and the zeitgeist. In a word, the monarchy is fundamentally conservative and the zeitgeist, just as fundamentally, isn’t.

The internal barbarian has emerged victorious in Britain (and everywhere else in the West), and he hates every traditional institution with red-misted ferocity. Unable to demolish them wholesale, he keeps gnawing at the outer edges, burrowing closer and closer to the core.

This victorious type is committed to destruction, which it coyly describes as ‘change’ or ‘progress’. The internal barbarian flashes a beatific smile, hoping that nobody notices the red-dripping fangs thereby bared.

The fangs are systematically sunk into the flesh of the country’s constitution, of which the monarchy is both the lynchpin and the guardian. Exsanguinated already is another lynchpin, the House of Lords, which isn’t democratic enough for the internal barbarian’s taste.

Our comprehensively educated masses nod their consent whenever they hear that, since Britain is a democracy, an unelected chamber is an affront. This is basic political illiteracy, something to be expected from people who move their lips when reading even road signs.

Britain is a monarchy, with the king exercising his sovereignty through parliament. The monarchy is hereditary and hence non-democratic by definition. Its power has traditionally been balanced by the lower House, the democratically elected Commons.

The unelected upper house, the Lords, used to be hereditary too, and therefore presumed free of political pressures. Its function was to keep a watchful eye on the aforementioned balance, making sure neither end shoots up at the expense of the other.

The demise of the Lords that has been under way for several decades and is now for all practical purposes complete has destroyed the balance, creating the dictatorship of the Commons. Democracy, but in fact the internal barbarian, rules, which leaves the constitution without one of its essential guardians, with the other one, the monarchy, finding itself at a loose end.

Divested of much, eventually all, of its executive power, it still has a vital constitutional role to perform, that of providing continuity of sovereignty linking past, present and future generations.

It’s the fulcrum on which the balance of power rests and, like any other fulcrum, it has to remain relatively immobile for the balance to be maintained. In other words, any monarchy is either a conservative institution – or it’s a purely decorative and meaningless one.

Since conservatism of any kind is moribund, not to say dead already, our monarchy lives on borrowed time – and the royal family knows it. Hence its dubiously sincere and definitely pathetic efforts to stay in sync with every objectionable woke fad that comes round the block.

The critical race theory, the global warming fraud, equal rights for every sexual perversion under the sun – bring it on and our royals will endorse it. I don’t know if they realise that by doing so they are signing their own death warrant, but I’m sure some of them must.

One wishes those who do were able to augment their perspicacity with strength of character and moral fibre. But that’s too much to ask of today’s lot, both the rich man in his castle and the poor man at his gate. Or, more likely, at his throat.

An easy mistake to make

Lady Susan Hussey, the late Queen’s lady-in-waiting (and close friend) and godmother to Prince William, has been made to resign her honorary post at the Palace.

Ngozi Fulani could have fooled me too

Now, Lady Hussey dedicated 62 of her 83 years to royal service and never once put a foot wrong. Hence, for her to be – not to cut too fine a point – thrown out on her ear, she had to do something truly awful.

And so she did, by the standards of our heightened sensitivity. Lady Hussey was mingling with a crowd at a Palace function devoted to stamping out domestic abuse. Even though I wasn’t present, I can guess what she was saying to the attendees: sweet noncommittal nothings delivered with half a smile and heard with half an ear.

Then she ran into Ngozi Fulani, the founder of the domestic-abuse charity Sistah Space and a good friend to Harry and Meghan. The encounter proved to be Lady Hussey’s undoing.

That was an international occasion, with three queens, a princess, a countess and two First Ladies in attendance, flanked by a regiment (well, a battalion) of foreign visitors.

Though the do was officially hosted by Queen Camilla, it was Lady Hussey’s job to keep the social gears meshing smoothly, partly by introducing guests to one another. To do so competently, she had to have some snippets of information about their bios.

Such was the backdrop against which Lady Hussey saw before her a black woman having an African name, sporting an African hairdo, wearing African clothes and speaking with traces of the gangsta accent that Lady Hussey had probably never heard before in her cossetted life, but could be forgiven for identifying as African.

Though the combination of those accoutrements must have taken the courtier out of her comfort zone, she nonetheless asked a question she doubtless thought was both another polite nothing and a request for useful information: “What part of Africa are you from?”

Little did she know that asking that question amounted to what Miss Fulani then described on the TV show Good Morning Britain as “racial abuse”. That crime was aggravated by Lady Hussey repeating the question even though Miss Fulani had assured her she was as British as they came.

Activists like Miss Fulani want to have it both ways. They want us to notice they walk a different walk and talk a different walk from the rest of us – but also not to notice it at the same time.

And if we fail to comply with either of those unspoken demands, we are guilty of ‘racism’, which has over time expanded its original meaning (and lost its original British name, racialism). It used to mean the belief that some races are superior. Now it does the extra job of describing the belief that races are different.   

If Miss Fulani doesn’t want to be abused in such an egregious fashion, perhaps she should stop shoving her African heritage, distant though it may be, into our faces. And if she cherishes it so much she must wear it on her sleeve, then by all means she should do so. But then she shouldn’t be surprised if some people may be uncertain about her Britishness.

It’s not about skin colour, by the way. I’ve worked with several black people, both men and women. And it would never have occurred to anyone to ask them where they were from. But then their clothes, accents and hairdos were normal for Britons of a similar geographic, educational and social background. They didn’t insist on coming across as walking campaign slogans.

National identity is communicated by any number of semiotic signals. When such signals send an obtrusive message of foreign origin, then surely someone like Lady Hussey can be forgiven for being ever so slightly confused.

What no sane person would accuse her of on the basis of that incident is racial bigotry. Yet sanity is in short supply everywhere these days, including the rarefied atmosphere of the Palace. Thus Prince William’s spokesman thundered that: “Racism has no place in our society. The comments were unacceptable and it is right that the individual has stepped aside with immediate effect.”

Thank you for 62 years of loyal service, Lady Hussey. Now get lost – and ponder at your new leisure the fine points of modern sensibilities.

In a parallel development, the director Richard Curtis’s next project seems to go by the provisional title of Woke Actually.

Speaking to Diane Sawyer in the ABC special on his 2003 film Love Actually, Mr Curtis offered effusive mea culpas, indirectly demonstrating the lightning speed at which aforementioned modern sensibilities are plummeting into the woke gutter.

Most of the stars of that film are still with us, except Alan Rickman (d. 2016) and half of Martine McCutcheon, who ought to be complimented on her diet and exercise regimen. And yet what was par for the course 20 years ago – a film with no black characters – has become the stuff of which racial abuse is made.

“There are things you’d change, but thank God, society is, you know, changing. So, my film is bound, in some moments, to feel, you know, out of date,” explained Mr Curtis, suitably contrite.

When Miss Sawyer asked for specifics, the director added: “I mean, there are things about the film, you know, the lack of diversity makes me feel uncomfortable and a bit stupid.”

The world is indeed, you know, changing, but mostly, you know, for the worse. But at least Mr Curtis can find comfort in the fact that hardly a film or a TV commercial made these days makes the same omission he so bitterly regrets.

Positive discrimination, what Americans call affirmative action, is in full bloom. But it bears poisoned fruit.

Why theology?

Many sincere believers don’t see the point. Why bother reading recondite tracts? Pondering the deep meaning of, say, transfiguration isn’t going to make their faith any purer.

True. In fact, St Anselm (d. 1109) agrees wholeheartedly: “I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but rather, I believe in order that I may understand.”

But let me ask a different question. Why bother learning the basics of musical theory? It wouldn’t make one enjoy music more, would it?

In fact, it could even mean less enjoyment. Some people get so deeply engrossed in decorticating musical structure that they lose sight of why they listen to music in the first place. The analytical English mind in particular runs that danger, which was astutely observed by Chopin.

“The English,” he said, “love music. They just hate listening to it.” His eye was of eagle-like sharpness.

However, that danger notwithstanding, it doesn’t follow from there that learning about musical structure is useless. By analogy, we can still enjoy a bœuf bourgignon even if we know its recipe – and are aware of the perils of overeating.

It’s just that the greatest products of man’s genius live on multiple planes. Thus, someone who likes, say, Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor without knowing anything about counterpoint, may still perk up when hearing the familiar tune on Radio 3 no matter how well or badly it’s played. In fact, he may not even know the difference.

Yet a musically literate listener, while enjoying the piece on the same emotional level, may also appreciate, for example, the subtlety of the opening passages rushing down from the top to the bottom, with a diminished seventh chord awaiting.

That appreciation may not be conscious at the time the music is played. It’ll only take a precise mental shape afterwards, as post-rationalisation. Yet, although the educated listener may not be aware of it, even at the moment of listening his understanding will deepen his enjoyment by adding new planes to it.

Content and form are like a bottle of wine. The bottle without the wine can be used criminally, for hitting someone on the head, or responsibly, for recycling. But by and large it’s useless. However, the wine without the bottle isn’t a delicious drink. It’s an unsightly puddle.

Raising our sights a bit, we realise that form and content are inseparable. They have a different provenance and possibly a different final destination, but when they come together they form a unity, to be perceived as such.

From there, it’s but a short step to theology, starting from the understanding of Christ as both fully divine and fully human. Any church-goer has heard this phrase so many times that he doesn’t stop to contemplate that unity in duality. Yet the church took several ecumenical councils and some five centuries to understand the deep meaning of that confluence.

Many deadly heresies had to be defeated in the process, many battles won. Some of them weren’t just rhetorical. For example, St Nicholas is reported to have punched Arius in the face during the First Council of Nicaea in 325. But then Arius could try even the patience of a saint.

Understanding the true nature of Christ or any other doctrinal concept, such as the Holy Trinity or the Transfiguration or anything else, won’t make one’s faith purer. But it may make it deeper, add new levels to the edifice of belief.

Yet even a non-believer may still find much intellectual pleasure in studying scriptural sources and commentary on them. For the theological science sits at the top of the intellectual hierarchy, just above philosophy.

If a man has no religious predisposition, perusing De civitate Dei or Summa Theologica won’t make him a believer. But it will make him more intelligent, more capable of acquiring the mental discipline essential to grasping subtle and intricate points. That, in turn, can stand him in good stead throughout his life.

Not everyone has the capacity for such exploits. But those who do would be cheating themselves of the higher reaches of pleasure they could ever attain if they let that ability go to waste. For pleasure too exists on many different levels, with more and more appreciation boosting enjoyment as one climbs up.

Of course any talk of a hierarchy of pleasure or appreciation or whatnot goes against the grain of modern egalitarianism, the unshakable conviction that all men aren’t just created equal but stay that way in every respect. This is an interesting paradox.

For the grossly misnamed Age of Reason produced gradual yet ineluctable diminution of reason. The attempt to replace divine wisdom, Sophia, with its putative superior, common sense, has produced much that is common but little that is sensible.

The study of disciplines that used to be seen as the bedrock of knowledge, such as theology, philosophy, logic, rhetoric, music, classical mathematics, has fallen by the wayside like so much rubbish dumped into a skip. Modern man has no time for abstractions – he has more important things to worry about.

Oh well, more power to his elbow. But he shouldn’t complain when I find him excruciatingly dull, as a collective entity. Whatever I may think of each man individually.

Go, Morocco!

Suppose – and I know this is a stretch – you are a football fan. Then further suppose your national team wins a match against all odds.

How do you celebrate? You can punch the air and scream “Yes!!!”. You can shout “You’ve got to see this!” at the wife who is hiding in another room because she thinks your love of footie is pathetically infantile.

You can then crack a bottle of something bubbly or, for the sake of stylistic integrity, pop open another can of lager. Or, if you are a gregarious type, you can meet your mates down the pub and sink a pint or two toasting your team. A choral rendition of “Ere we go, ere we go, ere we go” may be slightly annoying to other patrons, but hey, no real harm done.

All of the above? Some of it? And that’s it? In that case, let me tell you: you are one boring, possibly anally retentive, git who either has no sense of joy or doesn’t know how to express it with real exuberance. Moreover, I’d venture a guess you aren’t Moroccan.

For Moroccan residents of the Low Countries (and they don’t call them ‘low’ for nothing) know how to rejoice, especially when they have something to celebrate. And do they ever have that, in this case.

For at the on-going World Cup the lowly Morocco team wiped the pitch with mighty Belgium, ranked second in the world. The Moroccans, I’ll have you know, are a sizeable minority in both Belgium and Holland, so their presence is always felt, if not always in a positive way.

Legally, there are about 500,000 of them in Belgium and just under 400,000 in Holland, but the outnumbered Moroccan diaspora punches well above its weight, and I use the verb advisedly. In Holland, for example, Moroccans commit 10 times as many crimes as the native-born Dutch.

Some of this activity is organised: the Moroccan Mafia is a dominant force in the drug trade throughout Europe, but especially in the Low Countries. Most crime, however, is sheer individual initiative: some mugging, some burglary, some rape, the odd bit of murder, that sort of thing.

Far be it from me to suggest that Moroccans, or Muslims in general, can’t be properly assimilated in Europe. But one thing for sure: yesterday the Moroccan ‘community’ (have you noticed that any group is now a community, such as a ‘transgender community’, an ‘animist community’, a ‘MeToo community’, you name it) definitely failed the Tebbit test.

Conservative MP and former minister Norman Tebbit had his doubts about any possible assimilation of millions of arrivals from Third World countries. A true measure of success, he suggested, would be to see which cricket team the Pakistani ‘community’ in Britain supported when England played Pakistan in a Test match.

There is no hiding from the fact that the Moroccan ‘community’ didn’t pass that test yesterday. That’s upsetting enough, but not nearly as bad as the manner in which it celebrated the footie triumph.

Riots broke out in Brussels, Antwerp and Liege, with the Moroccan ‘community’ in Amsterdam, the Hague and Rotterdam also pitching in out of solidarity. Cars were torched, shop windows smashed, metro stations shut, bus shelters vandalised, cities sealed off, water cannon and tear gas deployed by the police trying to ward off attacks by hooded youths – and great fun was had by all.

If that’s how those people express their joy, I wonder what they’d do if they were unhappy. I can just see explosions rocking Belgian and Dutch cities, with ornate gables falling into those cute canals. What I refuse to see is “the River Tiber foaming with much blood”, remembering the trouble another Tory MP, Enoch Powell, got in for quoting that line from Virgil.

I also wonder what this outburst of unbridled joy will do for interracial relations in Belgium and Holland. I have a gnawing fear that the cause of multiculturalism, so dear to my heart, may suffer. And it’s already not doing especially well, as I’ve had many occasions to observe.

Every time I drive to Amsterdam to see our close friends, I park at a garage run by some genial Francophone Arabs, who I assumed were Moroccans. I always chat to them in French, which effort they reward with slight discounts.

That amity was almost destroyed when I asked them how long ago they had left Morocco. They were mortally offended: “We are Algerians, not bloody Moroccans!” However, they graciously accepted my profuse apologies.

Amazing how one little exclamation can speak volumes, isn’t it? What upsets me is that I suspect many Dutchmen or, for that matter, Belgians may be as ignorant about the salient differences as I was. Why, some may even feel that no differences exist, salient or otherwise.

P.S. I’m happy to report that, though I’m still the founder and chairman of the Charles Martel Society for Multiculturalism, I’m no longer its only member. Brian C. of California has met all the exacting entry requirements, and I’m pleased to welcome him to the swelling roster.

Welfare state is no charity

As many Western states are getting beggared by promiscuous social spending, their rhetoric on the subject becomes particularly emetic.

Rather than honestly describing the welfare state as the power mechanism it really is, they rely on claims shoplifted from Christendom and scoured of their original meaning. Granted, all new civilisations build on the foundations of the old ones even as they replace them.

Christendom in particular was an asset-stripping civilisation: it borrowed numerous aspects of philosophy, aesthetics, jurisprudence and statecraft from Greece and Rome, imbuing them with a new meaning. Yet widespread institutionalised charity was a uniquely Christian concept, based on the new understanding of the nature of man.

Every human being was to be cherished not because of any towering achievement or superior character but simply because he was indeed human. In fact, people short of achievement or incapable of it, like those frail boys routinely drowned by the Spartans or those unwanted baby girls left to die in the woods by the Romans, began to be seen as God’s creatures to be loved before all others.

Though some people may have been wicked, some weak and some moribund, none was useless. They all had redeeming qualities because they had all been redeemed.

Hence the institutions for the care of the old and infirm, widows and orphans, lepers and cripples that rapidly spread already during Constantine’s reign. In fact, the emperor Julian the Apostate (d. 363), who had switched from Arian Christianity back to his beloved paganism, reluctantly praised the “Galileans” for looking after the weak and needy, “not only theirs, but ours as well,” so much better than the pagans did.

“But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth,” taught Christ. His followers understood: charity, especially if offered anonymously, not only materially helped the recipient, but also spiritually elevated the donor.

In many countries individual charity was supplemented by local administrations. They carried some of the burden either of their own accord or because they were obligated to do so by the Crown.

In Tudor England, there existed an unequivocal law on that subject: “All Governors of Shires, Cities, Towns, Hundreds, Hamlets and Parishes, shall find and keep every aged, poor and impotent Person…”

In other words, people who are unable to support themselves must be supported by their neighbours because Christians don’t stand by and watch human beings starve to death out in the cold. However, “unable” was the key word in that edict.

The parameters of inability were precisely defined to communicate the valid distinction between ‘cannot’ and ‘will not’. The implication was that those capable of sustaining themselves weren’t entitled to any such assistance.

To avoid any misunderstanding of this point, in 1536 Henry VIII passed The Act for Punishment of Sturdy Vagabonds and Beggars. “Sturdy” meant both physically sound and persistent mendicants, what we today would call ‘professional beggars’.

Though the letter of that law didn’t survive for long, its spirit defined institutionalised charity  throughout the lifespan of Christendom in England. The ‘deserving poor’ needed help; the undeserving ones were supposed to help themselves.

When the modern state barged in, it gradually yet systematically eliminated that distinction. Charity was shifted into the domain of an increasingly centralised, faceless state, which eliminated at a stroke any spiritual payoff for the donor.

That wasn’t the only thing it eliminated. For unrestrained powerlust is the genetic imperative of the modern political state. If in the past the central state was kept in check by an intricate network of local government and voluntary associations, the modern state has slipped such annoying tethers by a long series of incremental steps.

Since power in modern democracies is acquired by putting blocs of voters together, modern politicians will stop at nothing to trick, scare, cajole or – more to the point in this context – bribe people into voting right. And what better way of doing so than offering whole swathes of the population something for nothing.

The modern state has nothing to lose and all to gain by creating a vast underclass of freeloaders beholden to the state as its chattels and dependents. Nothing to lose politically, that is. For economically, socially and morally the burgeoning welfare state is an unmitigated disaster.

Yet when modern politicians push through yet another welfare appropriation, they don’t care about the long-term social and moral damage they do. Their term in office is all they care about, and its years are usually measured in single digits, not decades.

Even the economic consequences may not rebound on modern politicians within the few years they can hope to stay in power, especially when trillions can be borrowed at negligible interest rates. Hence they toss billions after billions into the bottomless pit of the welfare state with nary a thought for even immediate future, never mind any deferred calamities.

However, when the economic cards fall differently, the situation changes. Soaring inflation and interest rates make runaway social spending unsustainable and, just as damaging, the economy begins to suffer from a suffocating shortage of labour.

Lack of jobs, that traditional malaise of struggling economies, has given way to a glut of jobs left untaken. At this point, the state discovers that the welfare merry-go-round is easier to jump on than off.

The lumpen underclass created to prop up political power won’t be budged. Yesterday’s faux charity has become today’s real entitlement. Unlike the deserving poor of the past who humbly and gratefully received help in the name of Christ or simple decency, today’s ‘sturdy vagabonds’ demand their unearned living as of right.

The links in the chain of causality clasp together to throttle the country. When several generations of the same family have lived off social handouts, each subsequent generation has no incentive to develop marketable skills.

As for jobs that require little education or specialised training, they don’t pay as well as the sum total of all welfare benefits – not just cash on the nail, but also such extras as housing, food stamps, single-mother benefit and whatnot.

Hence the welfare state has an effect diametrically opposite to that of Christian charity. Rather than elevating both the donor and the recipient, it corrupts them both. Exponentially and, one fears, irreversibly.

However, although the moral content of Western charity has bitten the dust, the language of sharing and caring perversely persists. And our sturdy vagabonds keep laughing all the way to the ‘social’, while the rest of us weep.

P.S. While we are on the subject of language, two recent bloopers have caught my eye.

The first one reinforces my belief that the use of long words must be licensed and restricted to those qualified. A World Cup commentator the other day praised a defender for a “vociferous tackle”, even though the chap hacked his opponent down silently. Full-blooded? Strong? Borderline criminal? Who knows. Words mean whatever today’s Humpty-Dumpties want them to mean.

Then I saw an ad for a “£5 claret”, which is a glaring oxymoron. Contrary to a popular misapprehension, a claret isn’t any old red wine but specifically a Bordeaux. And not any old Bordeaux either, but a top one. These, I’m afraid, tend to cost considerably more than five quid. Stick to lager, lads.   

Happy anniversary, Vlad

The congratulations may be a little premature: the Wannsee Conference is still two months short of its 81st anniversary. But what’s a month or two among friends?

Reinhardt Heydrich, Putin’s role model

On 20 January, 1942, Reinhardt Heydrich called a conference at Wannsee to coordinate the work of various services involved in the Final Solution, the wholesale extermination of Jews. That was the first time in modern European history that a major country expressly identified genocide as its policy. But, as it turns out, it wasn’t the last time.

Speaking through his dummy Lukashenko the other day, the ventriloquist Putin enunciated in short, punchy words that, unless the Ukrainian people surrendered, they’d all be annihilated. Not their army routed. Not their ministers arrested and tried. No – for the second time in modern European history genocide was explicitly enunciated as the strategic aim of state policy.

To his credit, Vlad is as good as his word. Though he didn’t specify his preferred genocidal expedients, with nuclear and chemical weapons widely mentioned in this context, his immediate stratagem involves destroying the Ukraine’s infrastructure.

That would have the most satisfactory effect of having the whole population freezing and starving to death during the inclement Ukrainian winter. It has to be said that Russia has form in the same type of genocide in the same place.

Holodomor, the man-made famine deliberately engineered by the Soviets to educate Ukrainians in the benefits of collectivised agriculture, killed 3.5 million of them, conservatively estimated. The actual number was probably twice as great, plus as many again in Kazakhstan at the same time.

Really, when it came to genocide, it was the Nazis who learned from the Soviets, not the other way around. Even the use of exhaust fumes pumped into locked vans full of people was a Soviet invention, which their Nazi disciples gratefully borrowed, adding their own embellishments later.

After the war, all the Germans not directly involved in the mass murder claimed they didn’t know it was going on. Daniel Goldhagen’s 1996 book Hitler’s Willing Executioners proves most of them were lying. But at least, what with mass media still embryonic at the time, the Germans’ denials had a modicum of plausibility.

In our Internet age, the Russians haven’t got that. Every one of them knows exactly what kind of mass atrocities their army is committing in the Ukraine – and what kind Putin is planning to commit soon.

He, his generals and everyone who has followed this criminal war knows Putin’s hordes are incapable of defeating the Ukrainian army on the battlefield. Hence the Russians have switched from warfare to terrorism, with genocide their ultimate and stated aim.

The whole country of 140 million souls knows about this, yet their reaction varies from enthusiastic support to passive acquiescence to shoulder-shrugging indifference. They seem to be re-enacting the last line in Pushkin’s play Boris Godunov: “The people remain silent”.

It’s obvious they have been either scared or, more likely, brainwashed into silence. The question is, how. What strings in their hearts did Putin’s propaganda tug on so expertly and successfully?

One line taken by Putin’s Goebbelses is that, since Ukrainian fascists were planning to attack Russia, his genocidal war was a last-ditch preemptive strike. I’m sure some especially feeble-minded Russians believe that lie, but their numbers can’t be sufficient to ensure overwhelming support.

Another falsehood was that Putin had to liberate the fraternal Ukrainian people, especially their Russophone part, from the yoke of their fascist rulers. Again, each Russian missile hitting a Kherson block of flats, a Kiev hospital, a Kharkov school or a power station anywhere in the country unmasks that lie for what it is.

Yet neither lie would have resonated in the Russian soul en masse. The two lies can function as a starter, but not as the meat and potatoes. It’s another propagandistic ploy that delivers enough stodge to sate that restless soul.

This is how it goes. The Ukraine is only a proxy for Nato. It’s not the Ukraine that heroic Russians are fighting, but “the collective West”. That dastardly collective entity has devoted its entire history to the single-minded conspiracy to conquer Russia, dismember her and plunder her natural resources.

Now, any adman will tell you that the best campaigns succeed by appealing to the audience’s innermost beliefs and feelings. Once such triggers are credibly identified, it’s all down to the resources committed to the campaign. Throw enough money and time at it, and a throng of lemmings will flock to the product advertised.

That’s the case here. For Putin didn’t invent that effective line. The notion of a saintly Russia being surrounded by Western enemies wishing her ill is a core concept resident in the Russian psyche, implanted as it was when Russia was still a patchwork blanket of separate and mutually hostile principalities.

What united them was their shared repudiation of the West, starting with its religion. In fact, that was probably why the Kievan Grand Duke Vladimir rejected numerous attempts by the Catholic West to bring Russia into the fold.

It was in the reign of his grandmother Olga that Bishop Adalbert had arrived in Kiev to baptise all her subjects. The bishop failed, but not, according to the Primary Chronicle (the source of much information about ancient Russian history), “for any lack of industry on his part.”

Instead Vladimir baptised Russia in the Byzantine rite in 988. There were many reasons for that choice, including those mentioned in the Primary Chronicle. But the principal one had to be Vladimir’s rejection of the inchoate liberties already evident in Western Christendom.

The Byzantine confluence of autocracy and theocracy in the person of the ruling Basilisk appealed to Vladimir and his subjects much more. And the eventual demise of Kievan Rus’ did nothing to mitigate the inherent occidentophobia of the Russians.

They fought tooth and nail against every Western adversary, while their propaganda elevated even victories in minor skirmishes (such as those won in 1240-1242 by their hero Alexander Nevsky) to the status of historic triumphs. At the same time, they put up only token resistance to the Mongols who conquered most of Russia at the time Alexander was raiding Swedish caravans, and then lorded it over the country for the next 300 years.

In the reign of the second Romanov tsar Alexey Mikhailovich (d. 1676), Patriarch Nikon introduced a Westernising church reform, trying to bring Russian Orthodoxy closer to Greek Catholicism. That created a great schism, for the peasant population regarded “the collective West” as a collective Antichrist.

When Alexey’s son Peter (the Great) embarked on a whole raft of Westernising reforms, he himself was widely (and suicidally) portrayed as the Antichrist. Hence both Nikon’s and Peter’s reforms only succeeded, after a fashion, by most egregious violence. Thousands of surviving Old Believers immolated or buried themselves alive, preferring horrible death to Western heresy.

Hence anti-Western sentiments have been deep-rooted in Russia throughout her whole history. Tapping into that reservoir of hatred has been an easy task for even tsarist propagandists, never mind Soviet and post-Soviet ones.

Under Stalin, a casual praise for, say, a Western car or film could get the perpetrator charged under the “Worship of the West” law and sentenced to an automatic tenner (if he was lucky). Under Khrushchev, young people wearing conspicuously Western clothes were routinely roughed up by the police and often arrested. Under Brezhnev, reading and disseminating banned Western literature was covered by Article 70 of the USSR Penal Code. The maximum punishment was seven years of hard labour, plus another five of internal exile.

The people kept silent then too. They had their own reasons to hate the Soviets, but hostility to the West wasn’t one of them.

The Russians aren’t a civilised nation. But that alone wouldn’t have turned them into perpetrators or at least supporters of sadistic, genocidal violence. It’s just that the KGB junta ruling the country has used its professional expertise to perform an op of collective recruitment.

I do hope the actual anniversary of the Wannsee Conference on 20 January will be widely celebrated in Russia. That at least would be honest.       

Don’t you just love multi-culti?

As the founder, chairman and so far only member of the Charles Martel Society for Multiculturalism, I’m fascinated by Sharia law.

Those Muslims certainly don’t proceed from the namby-pamby premises of Western jurisprudence. This is especially noticeable in their laws concerning sexual morality.

The Qatar World Cup currently under way (go, Ingerland!) has brought this divergence in matters legal into focus. One case that has caught my eye in particular involves Miss Paola Schietekat, 28, from Mexico.

She travelled to Qatar in June last year to work for the World Cup organising committee, but got more than she had bargained for.

A Qatari colleague broke into her flat and raped her, an incident Miss Schietekat reported to the police. An arrest ensued immediately – only she was the one arrested.

Miss Schietekat was charged with extramarital sex, which is against the law in Qatar, a country that obviously sets the moral bar much higher than we do in the decadent West. That crime is punishable by up to 100 lashes and seven years in prison.

The charges against her rapist were dismissed because the attack hadn’t been caught on camera. The charges against Miss Schietekat, however, remained in place. She bitterly protested, but Qatari judges couldn’t quite see what she was on about.

She didn’t deny she had had extramarital sex, did she? Fine. So the circumstances under which she had transgressed were irrelevant, as far as Islamic law is concerned. Dura lex, sed lex, as those degenerate Romans used to say. That’s what the rule of law is all about.

Miss Schietekat’s lawyer advised her that the only way she could avoid being flogged to mincemeat and spending the next few years in prison was to marry her rapist. The jurist was sure the man wouldn’t mind: what’s one wife more or less.

However, Miss Schietekat found a different way: escaping from the country. Really, not only do Western whores have their wicked way with Arabs by inflaming their passions, but they also have no respect for the law.

Dr Charlotte Proudman, a barrister specialising in violence against women, is aghast: “Shockingly, everyone has been incredibly silent on Qatar’s horrific sexual assault laws. Qatar’s strict Islamic code outlaws all sexual contact between unmarried couples – making it an offence even if the woman has not consented.”

That’s a neat summation, if somewhat lacking in verbal precision that used to be the hallmark of the legal profession. Surely she meant “sexual contact between unmarried” people, not “couples”? Sex between couples would be a throwback to those degenerate Romans, or else a reference to the current practice colloquially called ‘dogging’.

Anyway, following that incident, Qatar’s laws have been modified ad hoc for the duration of the World Cup, bringing them in line with the customs of the decadent West. Police in Qatar have been told that, contrary to every traditional notion of decency, rape victims shouldn’t be treated as criminals.

And if an unmarried pregnant woman seeks medical help, that’s what she should get, rather than the good flogging she so richly deserves. Oh well, even the last bastions of morality come tumbling down like the walls of nearby Jericho. What’s the world coming to?

I wonder what our champions of diversity, those who don’t belong to the Charles Martel Society, think of such aspects of Sharia law. Or rather what they’d be willing to state publicly.

Two pieties seem to be in conflict here. On the one hand, anyone who finds anything wrong with diversity in all its manifestations is guilty of racism (in this case Islamophobia), one of the two worst crimes imaginable. Yet those who condone violence against women and, even worse, treat victims as criminals are guilty of the other one of the two worst crimes: misogyny.

If diversity comes packaged with misogyny, what’s anyone whose virtue is in urgent need of signalling supposed to say? All I can say is that, much as I sympathise with the problem, I can’t offer a ready solution. Either way you go, you get… well, what Miss Schietekat got.

Meanwhile, large boroughs of several British cities have declared that, as far as their denizens are concerned, Sharia takes precedence over the English Common Law. Local police express their disagreement, but hardly ever translate it into punitive action.

The champion of diversity in me rejoices; the inveterate traditionalist weeps. But then I remember the Society of which I’m the founder, chairman and so far only member, and stamp out those traditionalist notions.

If diversity presupposes the stoning of adulterers, execution of homosexuals, dressing women in Halloween costumes and flogging rape victims, then so be it. Take the rough with smooth, I say.