It has been suggest that I publish the text of any videos. I will give it a try in future. In the meantime here is an approximation of the text of the video on deconstruction. Continue reading “DECONSTRUCTION 101 TEXT”
Moral equivalence is a fancy name for ‘Whatabouterry’, the playground debating tactic of countering any argument with ‘What about …?’ with the automatic assumption of an equivalence between the two propositions. Silly enough in primary school children, not so amusing in a supposedly educated person like Barack Obama.
Speaking of IS atrocities at a National Prayer Breakfast President Obama said:
Unless we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.
Obama makes the fatal errors of all addicted to Whatabouterry, the omission of historical context, the passage of time, and the comparison of the everyday with the rare.
Terrible deeds were committed by Christians during the Crusades, deeds roundly condemned by every Christian. But consider the context. The Crusades were not imperialistic wars launched by vicious Christians against pastoral Muslims interested only in leading peaceful lives cultivating their crops and living in harmony with the environment.
The Muslim history of religious war begins during Muhammed’s life time. Within 60 years of his death Islam had swept through the Christian lands of North Africa and had taken Jerusalem. In another twenty years they had conquered Spain. Was this the result of a particularly effective campaign of tract distribution, or a violent military campaign? The ‘religion of peace’ spread by the sword. Subjugated peoples were given three choices: convert, live and pay ‘jizya’ a tax for the privilege of living under Muslim domination, or die.
The Muslim invaders of Europe were finally stopped by the Franks under Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours in 732. Finding their northward drive halted imperialistic Islam consolidated its grip on Spain and then turned eastwards, as well as focussing turning the Mediterranean into a Muslim lake.
It was only in 1095, after nearly 400 years of violent Muslim imperialism that Pope Urban II preached the first Crusade and the religious war appears in Christianity.
The Crusades began almost a millenium ago, when Obama says ‘people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ’. He ignores that in the succeeding millennium some religions grew, others remained mired in the past.
If the detestable crime of slavery was defeated in the West it is largely due to the activities of one group, evangelical Christians. In Britain and the UK the driving force behind the movement to outlaw slavery was evangelical Christianity, embodied by the Clapham Sect in the UK and the abolitionists of the USA. Last century the Civil Rights movement amongst blacks in the USA was largely led by the evangelical black churches and their ministers.
In the meantime slavery remains an integral part of the social programme of IS, Boko Haram and their affiliates. It is moral cretinism to excuse or downgrade the crimes of today because of the crimes of 200 years ago.
It is not only in the USA that such self-loathing inanity is current. In the Guardian, where else, there appeared a column saying we shouldn’t consider the West superior to IS because of the Chad Evans case.
Evans is a footballer given a two year prison sentence for rape. Following his release and a Twitter storm denouncing his attempts to return to football some argued that having served his time Evans should be given a second chance and be allowed to play football. According to Guardian columnist Deborah Orr, Evans and his supporters ‘each and every one of them’ have a ‘good deal of common cause with the ideas of… the Islamic State’.
According to this argument those who believe that having served his time a man should be allowed a second chance in life are the equivalent of a vile pseudo state who have thrown out due process in favour of killing and maiming any it considers criminals. Only in the Guardian.
Such is the terror of making a moral judgement that some progressives claim that we in the West today are no different from IS who burned to death Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh because Thomas Moore had Protestants burned at the stake more than 450 years ago and Servetus was executed in Calvin’s Geneva.
Perhaps Obama and other progressives should ask: Why does barbaric violence persist amongst Islamic extremists today to an extent unknown in other religions? Why search the distant past for instances of moral equivalence, unless the present doesn’t offer suitable instances?
Parts of Central America are as poor as the Middle East, yet with the exception, nearly 50 years ago, of the Marxist-Christian priest Camillo Torres we do not find liberation theologians taking up the gun in the cause of redistribution. The Dalai Lama is not sending suicide bombers into China to avenge the takeover of Tibet. Jews are not machine gunning cartoonists in Paris. Hindus are not flying airliners into high rises in Britain as revenge for the exploitation of India by the Raj. Prussian Lutherans are not beheading Russians because of the mass rapes by the Red Army in 1945.
Our progressives should be asking why radical Islam is spreading terror all over the globe rather by denying it, employing euphemisms to cover it, or attempting to excuse it by citing supposedly morally equivalent examples from the distant past.
This is more than a trendy posturing by progressives congratulating themselves on their ‘sensitivity’ and ‘understanding’. It is destructive of the hard won advances toward freedom made in Western society over the centuries. If all is equivalence why should we urge Islam to reform? If all is equivalence why should we, how could we, defend Western freedoms?
For those furth of the UK Eric Pickles is Communities Minister in the present government. A rather rotund Yorkshireman he plays the part of common sense man of the people rather well, but behind the bluff exterior there lies a very canny political operator. But even the canniest, most Machiavellian of operators can come a cropper.
Following the Charlie Hebdo attack Mr Pickles sent a rather benign, supportive letter to 1,000 Muslim leaders in the UK asking them to help with their co-religionists who are on their way to embracing jihad. Clearly the great majority of Muslims want nothing to do with the violence, unfortunately there also exists a small minority planning or enacting violence. However, and almost as worrying, there are large numbers in the middle who will not condemn any other Muslim over any act, or who actively sympathise with the violent.
In the face of this Mr Pickles in his letter made the valid assessment that Muslim radicalism ‘cannot be solved from Whitehall alone’ and stressed the need for all to fight extremism. He stressed that he was ‘proud’ of the way Muslims in Britain had reacted to the Paris atrocity but added that there was ‘more work to do’. He asked the immams to explain how Islam ‘can be part of the British identity’ explicitly making the somewhat strange assertion that British values are Muslim values. Pickles even repeated that well worn cliche that Islam is ‘a religion of peace’.
He wrote: ‘We believe together we have an opportunity to demonstrate the true nature of British Islam today. There is a need to lay out more clearly than ever before what being a British Muslim means today: proud of your faith and proud of your country. We know that acts of extremism are not representative of Islam, but we need to show what is.’
‘We must show our young people, who may be targeted, that extremists have nothing to offer them. We must show them that there are other ways to express disagreement, that their right to do so is dependent on the very freedoms that extremists seek to destroy.
‘We must show them the multitude of statements of condemnation from British Muslims, show them these men of hate have no place in our mosques or any place of worship, and that they do not speak for Muslims in Britain or anywhere in the world.
‘Let us assure you that the government will do all we can to defeat the voices of division, but ultimately the challenges of integration and radicalisation cannot be solved from Whitehall alone. Strong community-based leadership at a local level is needed.’
One would assume that such an emollient letter would be received in the spirit in which it was written, however, this ‘Islamophobic’ missive was not well received by all.
Harun Khan, Deputy Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain said: ‘We will be writing to Mr Eric Pickles to ask that he clarifies his request to Muslims to ‘explain and demonstrate how faith in Islam can be part of British identity’. Khan continued, ‘Is Mr Pickles seriously suggesting, as do members of the far right, that Muslims and Islam are inherently apart from British society? He asked, as though it was not apparent, ‘Why is the Muslim community being singled out in such an approach?’
Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, said he was ‘dismayed’ by the letter, which was ‘typical of the government only looking at Muslims through the prism of terrorism and security’.
Pride of place in reaction to the letter goes, of course, to the Guardian. In today’s Comment is Free section there is an article by Areeb Ullah. In a classical example of ‘Whatabouterry’ he asks of Mr Pickles: ‘Serious question. Will you be sending a letter any time soon to members of the Roman Catholic church following the child-abuse scandals in Catholic institutions?’
There are some basic differences between the scandals which have hit the Roman Catholic church and the somewhat over enthusiastic interpretations of jihad amongst too many Muslims. Chief amongst them is that, depraved though many of them are, it is doubtful that those priests who raped children claimed they did so because Jesus told them to do it. The Muslims murdering those whom they think have slighted Muhammad do so because they have been taught, and sincerely believe, that Muhammad sanctions such action.
When it comes to child abuse no-one is asking Muslims to show their Britishness because of the horrendous grooming gangs who committed horrific widespread acts of child abuse in England. Everyone reckons that this was committed by Muslims who were bad people, not just because they were Muslims. These men were under no illusion that what they were doing was what Islam commanded.
I’m not sure if such creatures exist but I think I would feel more comfortable being around an extreme Methodist than I would being around an extreme Muslim.
Jesus is insulted constantly. If the Methodist Mujahadin take action the most they are likely to do is purse their lips, shake their heads and get on with organising the jumble sale. Offend the Church of England and the Anglican Al-Qaida may just have the Vicar invite you round for a sherry and a quiet chat after Evensong. As for the Baptist branch of Boko Haram they are the worst, offend them and they will pray for you.
There is a world of difference between a faith which teaches its followers that when attacked they should turn the other cheek and one which sanctions violent reprisal.
Muslim terrorists have yet again demonstrated their barbaric cruelty to any who may be critical of Islam and Muhammad. In broad daylight yesterday, Wednesday January7, 2015, three Kalashnikov armed, masked and hooded gunmen murdered 12 people, 10 journalists and two police officers. Their target and the scene of the atrocity, the Paris headquarters of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The world has been shocked by the atrocity. In February 2006, then French President Jacques Chirac described Charlie Hebdo’s publication of the Danish Muhammad cartoons as a ‘provocation’. Two years ago Laurent Fabius, French Foreign Minister, had criticised Charlie Hebdo for its attacks on Islam saying ‘Is it really sensible or intelligent to pour oil on the fire?’
More realistically, yesterday President Hollande unequivocally called the Charlie Hebdo attack a terrorist action, an act against liberty of expression. He declared that France should not give in to fear of subversion or submission.
Meanwhile ‘Je Suis Charlie’ has become the hashtag of the moment. But is this just an understandable immediate reaction to a bloodthirsty act, or will it mark a sea change in the establishment view of the danger of militant Islam, not just to France but to the very concept of enlightened Western civilisation?
Witnesses heard the gunmen shout, ‘We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad’, and ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is Great) as they gunned down their victims. Today we have seen British newspapers telling us that this monstrous act was actually anti-Islamic and to be expected.
The Spectator thinks this is ‘also an attack on Islam’, whilst in the Guardian Ed Husain wrote ‘The killing of journalists in Paris on Wednesday was not only an attack on France but also an assault on Islam.’ The Guardian published examples of the cartoons to be found in Charlie Hebdo giving as an example cartoons attacking the Pope. Curiously our free press loving journalists at the Guardian failed to publish any of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons attacking Islam, the very reason for the attack.
Also in London the Financial Times comes as close as they could without actually saying so that the journalists at Charlie Hebdo got what they were asking for: ‘[Charlie Hebdo] has a long record of mocking, baiting and needling French Muslims . . . [This] is merely to say that some common sense would be useful at publications such as Charlie Hebdoo . . . which purport to strike a blow for freedom when they provoke Muslims, but are actually just being stupid.’
Tony Barber, the editor of the FT, can write such a crass, insensitive and downright disgusting piece because he knows that those offended by it will not rush the offices of the FT and gun him down. He is safe to denigrate Western journalists who mock the inherent violence in Islam. Perhaps it is time for some of our journalists actually put the reality behind ‘Je Suis Charlie’?
The Telegraph was not slow to pinpoint the dangers facing France, this morning it ran a report headlined “France faces rising tide of Islamophobia” The Telegraph’s response to this latest incident of Islamic violence was to list the terrible rise of right-wing and other forces — as though the attack were the response to radical Islam, rather than even suggest that it might be radical Islam itself that was at fault. Once again, the ‘backlash’ against Muslims took precedence over the actual murder of non-Muslims at the hands of Muslim fanatics.
What our press is actually saying is, ‘Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie’.
You may disagree but if the Guardian did not exist it would be necessary to create it. Not because of the sometimes perceptive journalism, not even for their kindness in employing dyslexic proof readers, but simply for the laughs.
Every so often, amongst the reports on the rising tide of Islamophobia, vile actions by Jews (sorry Zionists), brave homosexuals defying convention by actually kissing on screen and the latest machinations of the far right to seize power and chain every woman to the kitchen sink, we find a very earnest article so outrageous that it seems like a parody of a very earnest article in the Guardian. Then we realise; no, the children have been let loose with the crayons again and the wallpaper is in a terrible mess.
The latest example of the spoof that is real is an article by Tracy Van Slyke, a writer we are warned who ‘researches and writes about the intersection of social justice and pop culture’. Her latest venture into the dangerous world of subliminal messaging promoting a fascist takeover of the West is Thomas the Tank Engine. If McCarthy searched for reds under the bed Van Slyke searches for fascists in the toy box.
It seems that Revd WV Awdry, engine enthusiast and father of a measles stricken young son Christopher, was not writing something to cheer up a little boy, he was actually penning a hymn of hate, a paean of praise to all that is wrong and wicked in the modern world.
The Thomas stories are clearly, according to Ms Van Slyke, such a dangerous source of ‘subversive messages’ it is imperative that ‘children everywhere’ must be ‘saved’. Consider this, Thomas and his chums, ‘toil away endlessly on the Isle of Sodor – which seems forever caught in British colonial times’. Clearly in the Van Slyke imagination this is an attempt to indocrinate little children in the values of empire and exploitation. Most of us would think that one might as well complain that Shaekespear is too Tudor or John Grisham too American.
Further the characters are all male which sets ‘a bad example for girl wannabe train engineers’. To further the wickedness they are controlled by a fat, ‘imperious, little white’ man who acts as the ‘Monopoly dictator of their funky little island’.
Mr Awdry, born in 1911, spent his adult life serving in country parishes mainly in the West of England and also in the Isle of Man, or Sodor as the diocese is termed. The stories are set in the 1940s, a time when Britain was, in the term employed by Greg Dyke when director general of the BBC, ‘hideously white’. In fact in 1945 the Isle of Man was 100% white and today is pretty much the same. Nevertheless, that the Fat Controller is white is enough to cause Ms Van Slyke a fit of the vapours.
The Thomas books and TV programmes are viewed as a poisonous stew of ‘classism’, ‘sexism’, and ‘anti-environmentalism bordering on racism’. Thomas is banned in the Van Slyke household because, ‘The constant bent of messages about friendship, work, class, gender and race’ undoubtedly send her ‘kid the wrong message’. Van Slyke urges us to, ‘Look through the steam rising from the coal-powered train stacks’, and you will quickly ‘realise that the pretty puffs of smoke are concealing some pretty anachronistic messages’.
The substance of the environmental racism accusation lies in the steam-diesel dichotomy. All the nice characters are steam engines and the nasty characters dirty diesels. This is not because Mr Awdry, at a time when diesel was replacing steam, was nostalgic for the engines of his youth. Not for a moment; it becomes clearly racist when we note that the nice steam engines emit white smoke whilst the nasty diesels emit black smoke. Obviously isn’t it?
In ‘Tickled Pink’ the other engines make fun of James when he is painted pink ‘”What are you doing James? You’re a big pink steamie,” says Diesel, the bad-boy engine.’ Once again we can be in no doubt as to what the underlying message is in that story.
Ms Van Slyke has ears so keen she can hear bats never mind dog whistles. It is possible to go on, but why spoil your fun? Next time you are down and feel that the world is closing in on you, read the article, it is sure to make you smile.
The Guardian, don’t you just love it?
Jonathan Edwards seems a nice guy, but why don’t we stone him to death?
Jonathan Edwards was once the most prominent sportsman in Britain. As well as being world record holder he is a former World, Olympic, Commonwealth and European champion for the hop, skip and jump, now known more prosaically as the triple jump.
The son of a vicar and sharing a name with America’s greatest theologian Edwards was also at one time Britain’s most high profile Christian. Early in his career he refused to compete on Sundays, only changing his position after coming to the conclusion that God had given him his athletic talent in order for him to compete. When his athletics career ended he became a television sports presenter, also at one time fronting Songs of Praise a Sunday evening semi-religious programme on BBC television. Then in February 2007 he announced that he had lost his faith.
In religious terms Jonathan Edwards, who appears on television to be an extremely nice guy, the sort of person you could easily have a chat with, is an apostate. He has come to the conclusion that there is no God and as a consequence no longer considers himself a Christian.
Although this happened seven years ago we are still waiting for Christian leaders to call for his stoning. The archbishops of Canterbury and York have been silent on the subject. Not a peep from the General Assembly of the CofS. The Methodists and Pentecostalists are holding their collective tongues and we listen in vain for the voice of the usually reliable Baptists.
The only reaction from Christians to Jonathan Edwards’ loss of faith is a genuine sadness for him and his family, and a belated recognition of the folly of having a starstruck worldly attitude towards prominent individuals. He is still thought to be a nice guy and more worth listening to as a sports commentator than most of the semi-literate bozzos who crowd our screens.
We bring this up because a couple of days ago Owen Jones, the perpetually adolescent thirty year old journalist beloved of the Guardian, the BBC and other nostalgic left wingers, wrote an article in the Guardian with the title ‘Why the left must speak up about the persecution of Christians’. Whilst relieved that Jones has taken a break from trying to reproduce the British left of the 70s with its strikes, three day working week and economic collapse we have to question his analysis and motivation. The best thing about the article is the title.
Unfortunately Jones fails to grasp that there are certain crucial differences between Christianity and Islam. In his desire to be above the fray, like the good progressive secularist he is, he posits a moral equivalence between Christianity and Islam. Without any attempt at providing context or descriptions of the relative types of oppression he trots out the assertion of the Pew Research Centre that Christians faced oppression in 110 countries, and Muslims have suffered in 109. As far as oppression is concerned in Jones’ mind it is all equal.
We could not expect him to understand the theological differences between Christianity and Islam, but we could have expected an acknowledgement of the practical outworking of those theological differences. One religion tells us to love our enemies, the other to kill unbelievers, yet in Jones’ world both are to be considered equally.
In how many countries shaped by Christianity is there state sponsored persecution of Muslims? Are there Christian nations where, as in Saudi Arabia, it is illegal to build a church or where there are certain holy cities non-Christians are not allowed to enter? Do we have courts in the UK, USA or Canada handing down sentences of flogging on Muslims who have helped others convert from Christianity to Islam? How often have Christian mobs violently rampaged through streets of major cities threatening murder because someone has drawn a cartoon of St Paul? How often have Christian courts handed down death sentences for apostasy, as did a Sudanese court to Meriam Ibrahim who, although her father was Muslim, was herself a Christian?
Owen Jones should grasp that there is a world of difference between a Muslim in Bradford being called a nasty name and a church being attacked and the worshippers inside murdered as has happened in Egypt, Indonesia, Syria, Nigeria, Central African Republic, and too many other countries.
Just why does Owen Jones think that the left must speak up about the persecution of Christians? If he had argued that persecution is persecution, whoever is the perpetrator and whoever the victim, and as such should be opposed he would have met with general agreement. However, Jones’ stress is that unless the left speaks up about the persecution of Christians it will be left to those ‘with ulterior motives who wish to hijack misery to fuel religious hatred’, those whom he describes as ‘Muslim bashers’.
According to Jones’ reasoning the left should speak up about the persecution of Christians worldwide in order to protect Muslims from insults in the West.
Whilst being glad that there is a prominent voice amongst progressives who is willing to acknowledge that Christians are persecuted we wish he had done so from motives other than trying to make a political point against those who have been vilified by progressives for standing up for persecuted Christians.
We will have moral equivalency either when Muslims stop murdering people for disagreeing with them or when Christians call for Jonathan Edwards to be stoned to death. Both events are unlikely in our lifetimes.
Language fascinates, particularly the manner in which it can be used as a political and cultural tool, thus campaigners rejected fighting for ‘homosexual marriage’, chose instead to struggle for ‘same sex marriage’ and ended up campaigning for ‘marriage equality’. Same-sex marriage has nothing to do with equality but never mind that, changing the terms of the debate carried the implied assumption that only a Neanderthal could be against equality. It worked.
It is refreshing to read of those who argue from the other side, not as is usually pointed out that political correctness is corrupting language but that ‘capitalism is altering our language’ in sneaky ways which must be resisted. Owen Hatherly who writes primarily on architecture and culture for the Guardian, Socialist Worker and Socialist Review assures us that ‘According to a report by researchers at the University of Los Angeles English has become a peculiarly capitalist language – though they don’t quite put it like that.’
They may not put it like that but Hatherly has no qualms about doing so. He considers words such as ‘unique’, ‘individual, ‘self,’ and ‘choose’ to be ‘particularly acquisitive words’. Hatherly thinks such words and those like them signify avarice and rapaciousness, whilst most of us who are not bien pensant Marxists would consider them to have connotations of empowerment and potentiality. But then Marxists love the masses, its just people they can’t stand.
Hatherly would have us employ the word ‘users’ rather than ‘consumers’ on the grounds that when we consume what industry provides for us we do so ‘unthinkingly’. He approvingly quotes Welsh socialist Raymond Williams who rejected ‘consumer’ and argued for ‘user’ on the grounds that ‘we might look at society very differently, for the concept of use involves general human judgements – we need to know how to use things and what we are using them for… whereas consumption, with its crude hand-to-mouth patterns, tends to cancel these questions, replacing them by the stimulated and controlled absorption of the products of an external and autonomous system’. (It is difficult to credit that Williams was writing about the same time that George Orwell was pleading for the use of clear English in political writing).
We who ‘unthinkingly’ talk of consumers clearly need the truly enlightened and unrelenting class warrior to ‘reveal the pernicious assumptions behind these professedly innocuous words’. Yet Hatherly seems blithely unconscious of the fact that if ‘user’ involves general human judgements surely ‘choose’ equally involves general human judgements.
This view of language is of a piece with Hatherly’s general outlook. According to Hatherly in a previous Guardian piece, ‘squats, long the major laboratory of experiments in group living’ are a good thing and lead us to living in communes, supposedly another good thing. In his passion for the collective and antipathy to the individual Hatherly is bewildered that, ‘For some reason, it is still considered common sense for housing, irrespective of its quality, to be as private as possible.’ He views wanting a certain amount of privacy and individual space as ‘insularity’ an unhealthy form of obsession.
Hatherly is right about one thing, as has often been pointed out on this blog the language we use reveals something not just about the thing we speak of but of our own attitudes and presuppositions. The progressive attitude which sees uniqueness, individuality, self awareness and choice as things to beware of and rejected reveals a set of presuppositions antithetical to human worth.