Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Do something along the lines of any of these strategies, George, and I for one will stop moaning - too much.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Harry's Place,the prof and others have been turning their attention, again, to the STW marches. This time they are wondering why STW haven't protested about Saddam, Al-Qaeda, terrorism, Uncle Tom Cobbley and all. The general thrust seems to be that while it does not mean, per se, that if you don't demonstrate against something, you are for it - which is a relief, since I wasn't looking forward to Stop the GBH Coalition march tomorrow, nor yet the Stop the Drunken Hoolies Throwing up in little Old Ladies' Gardens Coalition rally next week - in this case, it does. Or rather, if you marched against Bush and Blair while not simultaeneously protesting about people being shredded by Saddam and blown to pieces by terrorist bombs, then your motives may be suspect, you may be a closet terrorist yourself and at the very least you are sending the wrong message to the world, making terrorism more acceptable and providing propaganda for the Islamofascists and Baathists in Iraq.

All this is deduced mainly by the content of the banners, "Bush - World's No 1 terrorist", "End the Occupation" etc, and the toppling of the paper Bush statue, which was an attempt to suggest, apparently, a moral equivalence between Bush and Saddam rather than a rather snappy way of getting on the news.

The STW crowd are light on the details behind their slogans, and an idea of their positions on the occupation and the war on terror beyond the fact that they are against 'em wouldn't go amiss, but the vitriol that some of the pro war left are pouring on them seems to me to go beyond the necessary. There were a million people demonstrating against the war before it happened. They were saying "not in my name" to the politicians who were intent on war before all avenues of peace had been explored. They objected to many things about the war - the legal authority, the fact that world opinion was being ignored, the sidelining of the UN, the dubious evidence on WMDs. They thought it more likely rather than less likely that terrorism would flourish in the world and in the region. And they questioned whether killing Iraqis - between 20,000 and 50,000 as it turned out - was the best way to rid the world of Saddam Hussein.

The jury is out on these points. The occupation is messy. There are a thousand things to debate about where to go from here.

And the left, as per usual, squabbles with itself.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

If you only read one thing today, make it the prof's review of Emmylou Harris. Wish I'd been there.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

The Beastly Beatification of Mother T

The Hitchens man is on surer ground when he slags off Mother Teresa and the whole grotesque specatacle of her impending sainthood.

He says:

Many volunteers who went to Calcutta came back abruptly disillusioned by the stern ideology and poverty-loving practice of the "Missionaries of Charity," but they had no audience for their story.

I can personally vouch for the truth of this. I volunteered for a year and was astonished at the gap between the popular view of the Sisters' unceaseless devotion to the poorest of the poor and the actuality. If you've ever wept a sentimental tear at images of a Sister cradling the head of a dying child, then you've been conned. If it happens it's the exception rather than the rule. The Sisters are more likely to be upstairs praying, leaving the poor souls to meet their maker alone. Their primary concern is their own relationship with God, with their self sacrifice and devotion to destitution. Not the destitute, the state of destitution. And as Hitchens says, since suffering is so Godly, they don't really care about its alleviation. More than one person said to me that they would rather die on the streets than live in the Sisters' house.

It's not all evil. There are some happy people living at Missionary of Charity homes all over India. There are people who are alive now with three meals a day and a roof over their head who would have died had not a sister picked them up off the street.

But when I hear of the soon to be sanctified Mother T, I think of a young boy at whose cremation I was the only onlooker, apart from the furnace man who unceremoniously tipped the shrouded body into the fire.

The boy died of hyper glycaemia, I think the technical term is. He was diabetic, and the sisters stopped giving him insulin because he kept eating glucose biscuits.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Christopher Hitchens on those last minute offerings of Saddam is uncharacteristically weak.

The general thrust is, "Aha, this proves we were right all along and goes to show that it was all for the best in the best of all possible worlds that we went to war."

He concludes by telling us there need be no silly nostalgia for a "peace" offer that confirmed all our worst suspicions about Saddam and tells us: for the date of elections, that should be for the Iraqi people and not their murderers and torturers to determine.

Nor yet Bush or Bremer, presumably?

It seems to me that for the supporters of the moral war, this whole thing is a bit of a problem. Their touchingly naive faith that this was all done for the good of the Iraqi people would take quite a knock if it turned out that gunboat diplomacy may well have worked. If this remarkable set of offers was genuine, and it's a big if, I'll grant you, then what else might have been put on the table while Saddam was looking
down the barrels of the tanks as they prepared to roll? The release of political prisoners? Some form of UN investigation/enforcement of human rights?

Fanciful? Yes, about as fanciful as the idea of Saddam saying come in and look for WMDs, actually.

If the war had been about liberation, this might have been pursued. It would probably have come to nothing, but it was worth a punt. One of the hallmarks of a just war is, surely - to mix metaphors a bit - that all possible avenues of peace are explored.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Apparently, if you write Prince Charles, Michael Fawcett and Popbitch in the same post, your traffic will increase by 300 uniques in a day. Well, I could do with some of that.

Actually, I was going to blog on it anyway. I've tried, Lord knows how I've tried, to cultivate a suitably lofty, mature and dignified attitude to the latest Royal farce, like the one over at Harry's and like the Republican on the Today programme this morning. You know how it goes, the private lives of the royal family has no bearing on the case against them and therefore we should not sully our pristine, self righteous souls with petty scandals which demeans anyone who shows the slightest interest in them.

But, I'm sorry, I just can't do it. I remember the nauseating fawning of the Silver Jubilee of '77 or whenever it was, the Royal Wedding of '82 and the endless parading of this privileged bunch as some sort of ideal family that we should all look up to. And, of course, no matter what our opinions on the matter we were, indeed still are, Her Majesty's subjects rather than citizens of this country.

So, every scandal, justified or not is fine by me. I don't care whether genuine Republicanism or unorthodox duties from flunkies brings them down, just so long as something does.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

I've changed the look again, mainly because I get a lot of referrals from Norman Geras and he uses the same template as I did. Can't have people getting confused and thinking the mighty prof has lost a bunch of brain cells, now can we?

Needless to say I forgot to retore the comments boxes and can't remember where to find the code.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Pity, if you can find it in your heart to do so, the poor Tory activist. The foot soldiers of the natural party of government, for so long used and abused by their masters in parliament. But, hey ho, while the Tories were in government or government in waiting, I don't suppose they minded too much, and there was always the promise of a visit from Heseltine or Archer on the cold chicken leg circuit.

Then along came William Hague, dragging the party kicking and screaming into some semblance of democracy by giving the rank and file a say in electing their leader. Okay, so their first choice wasn't a conspicuous success, but maybe they'd get it right next time.

But no. A hundred and sixty five of the worst performing MPs of all time decide they know best and foist a new leader upon them once again. A new leader whose chief qualification for the job is his popularity among those self same useless MPs.