In the British sit com Dad’s Army Private Fraser, the gloomy Scottish undertaker, has a catch phrase, ‘We’re doomed’.
It is easy to despair and think that we are doomed and that progressives have taken over the Western world.
Our media is painfully politically correct and relentlessly pushes a progressive agenda. If politicians utter a word out of line they are quickly brought to heel by a braying Twitter mob. When students demand safe spaces and trigger warnings and university authorities hasten to appease them it’s apparent our universities have become havens of progressivism.
Does this mean that progressivism has won the day? Not necessarily. If you succeed in shutting down public debate it could mean that you have won. It could also mean that you are well on the way to losing. Continue reading “ARE WE DOOMED?”→
When it comes to Islam the automatic response of our self appointed moral arbiters is deflection, denial and projection.
With every Islamic inspired atrocity there is an inevitable backlash. Not from supposed Islamophobes bent on wreaking revenge by attacking Muslims, but the cry of progressives warning about a backlash of Islamophobes bent on wreaking revenge by attacking Muslims. Following the Sydney café siege even Australia has succumbed.
Hashtag activists have sprung into action to defend the theoretical victims of an Islamophobia which wasn’t happening. ‘I’ll ride with you’ is their slogan, and “#illridewithyou” their Twitter hashtag. The idea was that Muslims couldn’t ride on Australia’s public transport in safely because bigots would attack them, so good-hearted strangers had to ‘ride’ with them.
It appears that on Monday 1000 miles away in Brisbane Rachel Jacobs, a Green candidate, was on a train reading in her paper about the siege when she noticed a woman in the carriage taking off her headscarf.
‘Tears sprang to my eyes and I was struck by feelings of anger, sadness and bitterness’, she wrote. Not tears for the victims in the Lindt Café, rather tears for ‘victims of the siege who were not in the café’. Victims like the woman who took off her headscarf.
Jacobs later admitted that ‘She might not even be a Muslim or she could have just been warm’. Nevertheless Jacobs felt compelled to start her Twitter campaign for the ‘other victims’.
This epitomises the arrogance which sees progressives as enlightened and morally superior to the rest of us who are, in their eyes, knuckle dragging red-necks liable to explode into a pogrom against anything we think ‘other’. The fact that a backlash against Muslims doesn’t happen never seems to penetrate the prejudices of the progressives, they have the narrative of their moral superiority to maintain and nothing is allowed to dent it, especially facts.
If there is a genuine fear of a backlash against Muslims it is an irrational fear disconnected from any evidence. If genuine its purpose would be to suppress uncomfortable dissent and convince our elites of their own righteousness, a self-righteousness which places them above criticism and beyond responsibility for their actions.
The warnings of immanent ‘backlash’ are nothing more than a diversion which deflecting attention from the real atrocity, the actual people terrorised and murdered in the name of Allah.
Every Western leader whose country has suffered an Islamic terrorist attack has responded with the denial that it has anything to do with any religion. Even Australia’s defiantly non-progressive prime minister Tony Abbot joined in this week.
‘The point I keep making is that the ISIL death cult has nothing to do with any religion, any real religion. It has nothing to do with any particular community. It is something to which sick individuals succumb.’ So ISISL, which perpetrates its atrocities in the name of Islam, which flies a black flag proclaiming Islam and seeks out non-Muslims to slaughter or sell into slavery, actually has nothing to do with Islam.
Political and community leaders continually parrot the line that repeated acts of Islamic terrorism have nothing to do with the religion which the Muslim terrorists equally invariably proclaim as the inspiration for their atrocities.
Here in the UK our leaders do the same. Following the beheading of Lee Rigby David Cameron assured us, ‘There is nothing in Islam that justifies acts of terror’. In this he differed from the two Islamists who shouted “Allahu Akbar” and quoted 22 verses from the Koran as they murdered a British soldier on a London street.
Following the Nairobi shopping mall massacre that noted Islamic scholar David Cameron assured us, ‘They don’t represent Islam or Muslims in Britain or anywhere else in the world’. Cameron also assured us that Islamic Sate has ‘nothing to do with the great religion of Islam, a religion of peace’.
Not to be left behind Theresa May, Home Secretary and possible Tory leadership contender told the Conservative Party Conference in 2014, ‘This hateful ideology has nothing to do with Islam… Let the message go out that we know Islam is a religion of peace.’
This week, following the school massacre in Peshawar when Taliban gunmen murdered 141, including 132 children in the name of their brand of Islam, Cameron again assured us that it, ‘Is nothing to do with one of the world’s great religions – Islam, which is a religion of peace.’
Lesser lights (Twitter bores) choose diversion and regurgitate the accusation that Christianity is as bad. It is common to cite Roman Catholic support for the IRA. That the IRA was largely made up of Catholics and drew its support from that community and that there were those in the priesthood who supported and sheltered them is beyond doubt. However, the IRA, vile as they were, never claimed to be a Catholic organisation or murdered people in the name of Jesus.
If, as is claimed, ‘All religions are the same’ where are the Christian terrorists? Think of what has gone before the Lindt Café murders; the Twin Towers, the London bombings, the Bali Bombing, the Madrid train bombing, the Boko Haram atrocities, the interminable persecution of religious minorities across the Middle East, the Peshawar bombings and school massacre. Were these atrocities perpetrated by a breakaway faction of the Militant Methodists? Perhaps that is what the Salvation Army is really up to, or maybe it was a branch of ‘Anglicans for Al-Qa’ida’.
For those who will inevitably cry out ‘What about the Iraq War, what about Fallujah etc.’ consider the facts. In every country involved in the Iraq War, into which the Labour government dragged the UK, there were massive anti-war movements supported by Christians. The Christian denominations of the UK opposed the war. The Vatican opposed the war. The dwindling number of Christians in Iraq bear testimony to what Christians have suffered as result of the war. That war, and the horrors flowing from it, was not done in the name of Christianity.
On the other hand world wide Islamic terrorism is defiantly perpetrated in the name of Islam, and those involved justify their actions, the intention of imposing Sharia law and the creating of an Islamic state or society, with reference to the Koran and the life of Muhammed.
Not all Muslims are terrorists, but practically all terrorist are Muslims. But according to our leaders ‘All this has nothing to do with Islam.’
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.
Day by day the future of the Church of Scotland becomes ever clearer. Whilst the denomination is haemorrhaging members the leadership is desperately trying to curry favour with a narrow sector of Scottish opinion, the politically correct and ‘right on’ opinion formers.
Foremost amongst these failing leaders is Sally Foster-Fulton. Sally is convenor of the Church and Society Council which engages with national and international political and social issues facing Scotland today. To this influential post the ever strident Sally has brought all the theological depth, nuance and subtlety of student union politics.
Until recently her Council’s pièce de résistance had been the debacle of ‘The inheritance of Abraham? A report on the “promised land”’. This report presented to the 2013 General Assembly purported to be an examination of the theology behind Israel’s attitude to the land of Israel. So offensive was the original report that it had to be redrawn before being presented to the General Assembly.
Even the amended report in its open bias failed to quote a single orthodox Jewish theologian or authority when dealing with specifically Jewish issues, including anti-Semitism. The arrogance of lecturing Jewish people on how to interpret Jewish text and theology without even listening to what Jews actually say is astounding.
The arrogance extended to Christians. The report worked on the assumption that the only alternative in the discussion was either to support Palestine or be a Christian Zionist. No Christian theologian of any note was quoted when dealing with a Christian understanding of Israel today. Those who did not share the report’s pro-Palestinian viewpoint were described as having a theological position based upon ‘the mores of the colonial and imperial age’ and the attitudes of ‘European colonialism’. Supposedly representative thinkers supporting Israel were such theological luminaries as presidents Reagan, Clinton and ‘tele-evangelists and novelists like Jerry Falwell and Hal Lindsay’.
It would take charity to describe the report’s hermeneutic as sub-Marcionite. Never mind the appalling theology, the report proceeded with a blithe ignorance of 20th century European history where the danger of a church splitting the Old Testament from the New should have been glaringly obvious.
The crass Christian triumphalism extended to the report’s treatment of the concept of covenant where it ended up in effect denying that God is a God of grace who loves the unlovely and draws back the erring. Instead in the report He was presented as a God of vengeance who discards sinners, at least when they are Jewish sinners.
Most shameful of all this report in all its comic book posturing and crass theological justification of a previously arrived at political position was accepted by the General Assembly of 2013. Day by day it becomes clearer that evangelicals in the Church of Scotland are not fighting an uphill battle, we are half-heartedly engaged in a losing battle.
This week sees Sally and her coterie in typical form relentlessly pushing a progressive agenda. Incredibly the Council, representing the official Church of Scotland position, has collaborated with the Humanist Society Scotland in making a joint representation to the Scottish Parliament concerning religious education. Religious education in Scotland is open to thoughtful reform and Christians could take advantage of this to present the gospel story in a creative and engaging fashion, and there are many committed evangelicals eager to do so in a way which would include children from all backgrounds.
The present collaboration between the Council and the Humanist Society does not seem to have this in view. It seems to have the objective of minimising the possibly of offence being caused to anyone, except evangelical Christians of course. Within the joint letter, which is disturbing enough, we have the following sentence.
“Both the Church of Scotland and the Humanist Society Scotland also believe that requiring external visitors to schools to agree with the equality and diversity policy of the school, or local educational authority, would ameliorate situations which have arisen in the past.”
This is a rather unsubtle attempt to exclude from school chaplaincy any who do not sign up to the approved ‘equality and diversity policy’. We should remember NineteenEightyFour where ‘War is peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength’. To the politically correct establishment ‘equality and diversity’ mean exclusion and uniformity.
Equality and diversity as understood by the Humanist Society Scotland and the CofS Council would mean the exclusion of any chaplain who did not accept homosexual marriage, but who did accept the inerrancy of Scripture. It could exclude any chaplain who taught an alternative view of creation. More importantly it could lead to the exclusion of any chaplain who taught that Jesus alone is Lord and Saviour, no more of that John 3:16 or 14:6 exclusivity, it’s just not diverse enough and might offend someone. The only views allowed to be expressed would inevitably become those approved of by the Humanist Society Scotland.
The Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, like much of the leadership of the denomination, is so caught up with a politically correct social agenda that it is prepared to make common cause with the Humanist Society in a move which could see evangelicals being excluded from chaplaincy in Scotland’s schools.
In the words of the Council they wish to ‘journey together’ with the Humanist Society. Where does that leave evangelicals in the Church of Scotland who do not wish to go on that journey?
The furore over the now rescinded UUK advice that it is permissible for an orthodox religious speaker at a British university to insist on segregated seating has raised an interesting question. Given that any speakers insisting on segregated audiences would be Muslims it is most likely that the temptresses not allowed to sit with the men in case the poor dears went into testosterone overdrive would be women of Asian origin. It is therefore apparent that in the game of Victim’s Top Trumps, Muslim beats both black and female. But how is it decided?
It is theoretically possible that an ultra-orthodox Jewish speaker might demand segregated seating. Unfortunately such is the anti-Semitism prevalent on campus today that it is highly unlikely that a Jewish student group would be so foolish as to invite an ultra-orthodox speaker.
There are so many groups with so many claims to pain that it is difficult to differentiate. There is overwhelming agreement that the cause of all suffering anywhere is ultimately either white European males or Jews, that is a given and is beyond dispute in progressive circles. But how do we divide up the remainder? We have homosexuals of varying tendencies, feminists, chimpanzees, Travelling People, asylum seekers, Roma, the list is a virtually endless stream. Calculating the priority of privilege claims by the perpetually underprivileged is a minefield.
On the surface the most important factor for the warm-hearted progressive in determining victim preference would appear to be perceived suffering. To paraphrase the SAS ‘Who suffers wins’, the greater the degree of victimhood the greater the claim for preferential treatment.
This, however, does not stand up to examination. On any ‘suffering scale’ the historical injustices done to the aboriginal peoples of the Americas and Australia far outweighs those perpetrated against those of the Muslim faith, yet there is no doubt about which group gets the most attention, support, sympathy and encouragement. The interest group gaining most attention from progressive activists, the Muslims, actually have the least claim to historical justice.
The sad truth is that position on the League of Victims is determined on the same principle that functions elsewhere in society; the squeaky wheel gets the grease. This however, is more than children pestering parents for sweets; it goes deeper and is one reason why progressives make common cause with a religious group whose ethos is diametrically opposed to so much which progressives hold dear. Homosexual rights, women’s rights, moral relativism, abortion, legalised drug use, all are utterly opposed by the same Muslims who are embraced by progressives.
Progressives see themselves as good people intent on reforming society and in doing so they need victims as a tool to be used in chipping away at the existing order. Those who give them the most ammunition get the most attention and help from our secular moral arbiters. A few demonstrations, the occasional outburst of violence and our progressive elites will trot out ‘moderate’ Muslims, very often linked to the ‘radical Islamists’, and speak up for them so that the violence is momentarily lessened in return for meeting their demands.
The Twin Towers, London Transport, Madrid railways, these are all reasons why Muslims have gone to the top of the table in the League of Victims. Before Muslims began blowing things up in the West no more attention was paid to them than was paid to Hindus, Sikhs or Buddhists. The other groups have lost out because they are relatively successful, choose to try to integrate, get on with their lives and don’t blow things up.
Christians don’t even get to enter the League. It is possible for Christians to be massacred and ethnically cleansed from the Middle East without an eyebrow being raised by our compassionate progressives.
Relative position on the League of Victims is important as it influences how the group is treated. We need look no further than the law. An attack by a member of a group high up the league table on a member of a group lower down the table is unlikely to be treated by the police and prosecution services as a hate crime. An attack by a member of a group lower down the table on a member of a group higher up the table will invariably be treated as a hate crime.
White men have the lowest League placing possible, lower than whale droppings. It is therefore possible to make jokes about white men you couldn’t make about white women, just force yourself to listen to Jo Brand for a moment. ‘What’s the quickest way to a man’s heart? A sharp knife through the chest.’ It is possible to make jokes about women you couldn’t make about black men. It is possible Muslim comedians to make jokes about Muslims. How many white, cutting edge comedians are prepared to make jokes about Islam?
Whether it is law or laughs one’s position on the League of Victims is crucially important. Thus, increment by increment a society is changed.
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 Guardianpiece, ‘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.
For more than 20 years Norwich Reformed Church has held worship services in Eaton Park Community Centre. For the past four years they have also had a regular weekly bookstall on the Council owned Hay Hill site as a means of outreach. There has never been a problem either at Eaton Park or Hay Hill. Both these activities are being stopped by Norwich City Council.
Why? The Council have received one complaint about a booklet written ten years ago by Dr Alan Clifford the pastor of the church.
The booklet was titled Why Not Islam? The Council spokesman said:
“Although the police advised that no criminal offence had been committed, we have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to foster good relations between people of all backgrounds and religions.
“By allowing premises owned by the Council to be used by an organisation publishing such material, we would be failing in that duty.”
A police spokesman confirmed a complaint had been received from a member of the public regarding leaflets that were distributed but, following discussions with the Council, the force’s diversity team and Crown Prosecution Service it was “deemed that no offences were carried out”.
Yet although the Council accept that no criminal offence has been committed and only one person has made a complaint about the booklet the Council have decided to brand it as ‘hate motivated.’
The Council is made up of 18 Labour members, 15 from the Green Party, with the Lib Dems having four and the Conservatives two. We wonder whether if an Islamic group had published a leaflet asking Why Not Christianity? this overwhelmingly ‘progressive’ Council would have branded it as ‘hate motivated’ and taken steps to isolate and silence the mosque? Yet the steps they have taken may lead to the Church being silenced or driven out of public space.
The Council have advised its Community Centre to stop taking the regular Sunday bookings from the Church. The Church have also been banned from holding their weekly outreach bookstall. Norwich Reformed Church is at present worshipping in a private home in the city.
From personal experience I can vouch that Alan Clifford is no East Anglian Terry Jones. He is no publicity hungry Koran burner, rather he is typical of a certain type of reserved Englishman (but in a good way) who would rather be left alone to get on with his work than court notoriety.
True he does hold firm views on theology which would not sit well with the politically correct or the Neo-Protestant Church, as do many of us. Alan Clifford happens to believe John 14:6 and that he has a duty to uphold the uniqueness of Christ.
It is possible to argue that he should be more discerning about Islam. The Wahhabi Salafists who seem to be making the running in Islam today are undeniably hate mongers who seek to subjugate the non-Islamic world. To portray the type of theology they spread as being typical of Islam is less than helpful. However, in his pamphlet there is nothing which is untrue or factually incorrect.
This is more than a minor kerfuffle in an out of the way town usually known only for its mustard and football team. It has serious implications for us all. Truth is no defence against progressives.
Unfortunately, because one person claims his feelings have been hurt the Council has chosen to try to deny Dr Clifford and his church freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
In the USA they have the concept of a separation between Church and State. Today this is taken to be a means of protecting the state from interference from meddling Christians; originally it had the opposite intention, to protect the Church from the interference of the State, particularly the establishment of one denomination as the Church of the State. Many of the original Puritan settlers in America were East Anglians fleeing the persecution of a state church.
Nevertheless, Norwich City Council has taken it upon itself the authority and the ability to be able to decide on the orthodoxy, or lack of it, of a Christian minister and his church. The intolerance of deviation from the accepted progressive line is frightening. They have deliberately chosen to ‘foster good relations’ with every community, except the Christians who believe in the Bible.
This has implications for more than Christians. Free speech is only free when it covers people with whom you disagree. Someone may well have felt insulted by Alan Clifford’s pamphlet. There is, however, no right not to be insulted.
That Christians are insulted is a commonplace in today’s UK. Does that mean that Richard Dawkins and Muriel Gray should be charged with hate crimes? Of course not. It is vitally important for the health of society and the Church that they must be free to express their sincerely held opinions. The way to meet them is with reason and argument, not with the blunt force of banning.
Norwich City Council takes a different view. Like totalitarians of every stripe they cannot bear the thought that anyone should disagree with them. They do not use reason or argument, they use force and intolerance.