These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 10, 2009.
Monday, 10 August 2009
Generally we are not allowed to mention Muslims or Islam when talking about the threat from Islam or Muslims. We must couch it in euphemisms like "youths" (of any age) "extremists-of-any-religion-Christians-are-just-as-bad" or "Asians". Recently a Government initiative did mention Muslims, with predictable results.
Prevent, a Government scheme for "tackling extremism", involved giving money to "moderate" Imams and mosques in the hope that they would tackle the "extremism" in their midst. Given that nearly all successful and failed terrorists in the UK are Muslim, this would seem only reasonable. Surely "extremism" is a misunderstanding of the true Islam, and the "moderate" Muslim community should be only too pleased to root it out?
Far from it. Muslims feel "singled out". Singling out the single group from which danger comes is wrong, apparently. It may alienate the Muslim community, and we know what alienation can do to a Muslim. So let's pretend. Let's pretend that there are lots of equally dangerous "communities" hell bent on "extremism". Put Muslims in among other groups and render them harmless.
The Government’s flagship scheme on tackling extremism is alienating Muslim communities and should be scrapped according to a new report. The New Local Government Network (NLGN) think tank is calling for the £45million scheme to focus on tackling all extremism – including far-right extremists – rather than just focusing on Islamic extremism.
The Government set up the Prevent scheme in 2006 to help local councils to tackle violent extremism at a local level. Currently 94 local authorities receive funding from the scheme. NLGN’s independent report argues that whilst the scheme has helped in some areas, overall it risks alienating some local communities and particularly Muslim communities.
The report calls for the Government to allocate resources to tackle all extremist ideologies, arguing that the recent increase in far-right extremism is as much of as a challenge for local communities as Islamic extremism. In July this year Scotland Yard warned that far-right extremists are planning a “spectacular” terrorist attack in Britain to try to stoke racial tensions and that more resources need to be targeted to tackle this form of extremism.
It also calls for reform of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) to allow an expert on ‘home-grown’ terrorism to sit on the Committee. It suggests that the Communities and Local Government department should have a permanent seat on the JIC alongside the seven other government departments on the Committee and that experienced local authority Chief Executives should be consulted when assessing potential security risks.
Author of the report, Anna Turley argues that reform of Prevent is vital to rebuilding confidence within local communities:
“While Islamist extremism remains a very serious threat to our security, this kind of extremism is not the only threat to the stability and security of our communities.”
“Prevent is too prescriptive from the centre, undermines broader community cohesion objectives and lacks sufficient integration with police and security services at local and national level. Concern has also been acknowledged over the agenda’s impact on relations with Muslim communities and whether it unfairly stigmatises an entire community.”
While it is too early to assess the success of the Prevent agenda in terms of outcomes, the lack of support from within the Muslim community, as well as the changing threat of wider extremist voices mean that it is time to review whether the separation of the Preventing Violent Extremism approach from wider community cohesion approaches is still relevant.”
Dozy bint. And what terrible English, sloshing around like a wet dishcloth. What use is a wet dishcloth against the sword of Islam?
But how could it be otherwise? Muslims dominate in Egypt, and they cannot ignore the texts and tenets of Islam. Egypt managed to receive back, for the second time, the entire Sinai (which, let it be remembered -- see the Diary of Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen (mentioned today in quite a different context), for the map showing the territory transferred to Egypt in the 1920s once the Ottoman power had been broken), for a series of solemn promises not one of which -- save that not to engage in open warfare, which behavior is not the result of adherence to a treaty but, like the same behavior from Syria or Iran or Saudi Arabia, merely a reflection of fear of what Israel could do in return -- has been kept, while Israel scrupulously handed back, in three tranches, the Sinai to which it had a considerable claim, if all the normal rules of post-bellum settlements were to be properly applied.
And, of course let's not forget, Sadat was Saint Sadat, and walked on water, and preached peace. And the entire nation of Israel turned out (idiotically) to welcome and help anoint him.
And let's not forget, either, that Egypt is a staunch ally of the United States. How do we know? Not, surely, by the fact that Egypt conducts in its media an incessant antisemitic campaign,including a television series based on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Not because Egypt has been running diplomatic interference, while pretending to deplore the behavior of, those who in Khartoum call themselves Arabs, and massacre black Africans in Darfur as they did previously in the southern Sudan. Not because Egypt attempts to bully Ethiopia in not using any of the headwaters of the Nile for irrigation projects, as Ethiopia has every right to do, because Muslim Arab Egypt believes the Nile belongs to it exclusively, and Christian black Africans have no real rights. Not because the Mubarak Family-and-Friends regime has shown itself willing to end its corruption, and to allow a modicum of fairness in the grotesque state of Egypt. Not because the people of Egypt have shown themselves grateful for everything the Americans have done -- no, Egyptian public opinion, whipped up by the official and unofficial press, is consistently anti-American.
No, Egypt is a "staunch ally" of the United States because it allows itself to receive, uncomplainingly, close to $3 billion every year -- a sum which now adds up to about $70 billion, as Egyptians continue to breed and breed, and have five or eight or ten children apiece, and hapless helpless Americfan taxpayers, limiting for economic reasons the number of children they have, keep paying, as they have paid two trillion dollars for the fiasco in Iraq, and are now being asked to pay for another fiasco in Afghanistan, and also to pay tens of billions to Pakistan, and to support the Jordanians, and of course the "Palestinian people" whose sole reason for being is the destruction, by slow means or fast, of the Infidel nation-state of Israel.
That's what makes Egypt a "staunch ally." Only this, and nothing more.
One was "biltong" -- a South African variant on the American meat jerky (see here). This appeared in a review by Frances Wilson, of Jennifer Scanlon's "Bad Girls Go Everywhere," a biography of that provincial cosmopolitan girl, Helen Gurley Brown": "her own body has for years...resembled a strip of biltong."
The second was "dazzle painting" for a kind of camouflage that does not hide but does confuse the enemy (see here), which appeared in a short review by Nicholas Rankin of "Churchill's Wizards":
"Many of the familiar stories are given an airing;[sic] Richard Meinertzhagen's ruse of leaving false battle plans at the Battle of Gaza in 1917, the dazzle painting of shipping and the stunning success of "Fortitude" -- the shceme to delude the Germans over the real location of the Allied invasion of France."
Articles in the TLS sometimes infuriate. A recent review by A.N. Wilson of the Letters of Isaiah Berlin did so, and in the same TLS in which "biltong" and "dazzle painting" were made known to me, Henry Hardy and his co-editor, Jennifer Holmes, replied to Wilson. They chose to ignore his "bizarre and petulant judgments" but took devastating issue with "so many of the points he makes" that "are based on factual errors."
And here, of relevant and great interest, is a letter that appeared in a later issue of the TLS from Paul Trewhela (who must have been biltonged practically to death in South African prisons):
Refugees from Riga
Sir, – Suppose that A. N. Wilson is right in every judgement he makes of Isaiah Berlin, whom he knew – “malicious, snobbish, boastful, cowardly, pompous”, guilty of “loghorrhoea” and of “somewhat obsessive social climbing” (July 16) – he is nevertheless too narrow and lacking in historical imagination.
It is one thing to have been born, like Wilson, to a British family in 1950 and to have grown up in the long peace of this country of this generation, and quite another to have been a Latvian Jew born in Riga in 1909, arriving in this country, as Wilson recalls Berlin telling him, “with a little cardboard suitcase”. Berlin’s demeanour really was that of someone as Wilson describes him, “an exile in a foreign land”.
My friend and trial colleague, Eli Weinberg, with whom I shared a cell in prison in South Africa, the author of the best-known photographs of Nelson Mandela from before his arrest, was like Berlin a Latvian Jew, born in Riga a year before Berlin.
At the age of six Weinberg was a mascot of the Cossacks in the First World War, separated from his family in 1914 by the turmoil of the German advance; later arrested and tortured in post-war Latvia under the “Grey Barons”; arriving afterwards as a refugee in South Africa, none of whose languages he spoke, but several of which he mastered fluently, including Zulu and Sotho; his immediate family in Latvia wiped out under Hitler.
Might it not have been more charitable for Wilson to have imagined Berlin as formed by similar terrors, a shipwreck from the mincing machine of Stalin and Hitler?
Since we are the beneficiaries of Berlin’s gifts to this culture, from a part of the world of which we know – almost – nothing, Wilson should have been more perceptive about the inner demons that could well have driven this man, who gave us his priceless interview with Anna Akhmatova in Leningrad in the winter of 1945–6, when he was her “Guest from the Future”.
In their personal formation, A. N. Wilson and Isaiah Berlin are worlds apart.
31 Berryfield Road, Aylesbury.
Quaere from the sidelines: might A. N. Wilson's malevolence toward Isaiah Berlin have anything to do with Berlin's unwavering support for Israel, a country which A. N. Wilson detests? I have my own suspicions.
The TLS One Mo' Time: Fotiade, Orend, Prendergast On L.-F. Celine
One More on the TLS:
The business about A. N. Wilson and his – what shall we call them? -- prejudices, leads me by a not-terribly commodius vicus to other recent Letters in the TLS, centering on Louis-Ferdinand Celine and attempts by an apologist, Karl Orend, to win sympathy for him in an initial essay-review. The first in a series of three letters on the matter w as by Ramona Fotiade, who intelligently takes issue with a TLS essay on Celine by Karl Orend, an essay in which Celine is grotesquely depicted sympathetically, almost as a victim, when we all know that Celine got away, not with murder, but with incitement and defense of murder before and during the commitment of such murders of Europe's Jews. Karl Orend replied to Fotiade, in a manner so bizarre and confused that this, in turn, elicited an excellent reply from Christopher Prendergast of King's College, Cambridge. The three letters deserve to be read, and I've reprinted them below, in their proper order:
Sir, – Readers who have waited for the English translations to read Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s work will no doubt have been moved by the image of the hounded author on the run in June 1944 that Karl Orend so convincingly painted in his article (June 19). A mainly anglophone readership would still be easily persuaded that Céline’s virulent anti-Semitism sprang from his pacifist convictions and that he was turned into a scapegoat and victimized for having, “like Sade, held up a mirror to all that was base and ignoble”, such as the time “when he said that no matter how fast the terrified civilians ran fleeing the advancing Wehrmacht they could never catch up with the retreating French army”. Unlike his celebrated novels (Journey to the End of the Night and Death on the Instalment Plan), Céline’s ferociously anti-Semitic pamphlets (Bagatelle pour un massacre, École des cadavres and Les Beaux Draps) have never been translated into English, and indeed have never been reprinted in French since 1942–3. Orend can thus sweep under the carpet Céline’s wild exhortations to racial hatred and extermination of the Jews in books that went through several successful reprints (with Denoël’s German-sponsored publishing company) during the war. Orend also forgets to mention that the self-righteous author (hero of the First World War) who pointed the finger at the hasty retreat of the French army before the advancing German troops did so in a book (Les Beaux Draps, 1941) which affirms his pro-Nazi beliefs in unambiguous terms: “The clause of the true pact, the only one respected: Vote for the Aryans. Urns for the Jews”, “Fix the Jew to a post!”. This came from a man who, two months before the German withdrawal from Paris in 1944, rushed to the German embassy to ask for the travel documents to flee the Allies and the just retribution awaiting him at the hands of former Resistance fighters whom he had described as “hooligans, half-breeds, . . . profit-seekers”. In the words of Ernst Jünger, then a German officer stationed in Paris: it is “curious to see how people capable of demanding the heads of millions of men in cold blood worry about their dirty little lives. The two facts must be connected”.
While praising Céline’s literary talent, Karl Orend has every reason to worry that “the danger to his reputation will come when his pamphlets leave copyright protection”. But long before that happens, it would be worthwhile recalling the polemic that opposed the author of Les Beaux Draps to his critic, the Surrealist poet Robert Desnos, in the pages of the journal Aujourd’hui. Having dared to judge Céline’s diatribe against the Jews as boring and unreadable, Desnos was accused of leading a “pro-Yids campaign” (“une campagne philoyoutre”). “Nature signs all his works. ‘Desnos’ means nothing”, added Céline. In a lapidary reply, the poet passed comment on the “original theory” according to which a critic had only one alternative: either to shout “Death to Céline” or “Death to the Jews”. The responsibility for this illogical argument, he concluded, was entirely with M Louis Destouches, aka Louis-Ferdinand Céline. Signed: Robert Desnos aka “Robert Desnos”.
But the epilogue to this story came a few years later. An active member of a clandestine Resistance network, Desnos was arrested by the Gestapo and deported to Buchenwald, then to Terezin. While Céline was making his way to the relative safety of Germany and Denmark in June 1944, Desnos died of typhus in a concentration camp. As the years go by, it will become increasingly difficult to ignore the full impact and consequences of Céline’s anti-Semitism. Perhaps it is already high time we stopped exonerating his support for Nazi ideology and racial cleansing on account of his “brilliantly inventive” style and misguided peace-keeping strategy during the pre-war years.
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French Section, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Glasgow, 16 University Gardens, Glasgow.
#2. Céline on the run
Sir, – Ramona Fotiade’s attack on me (Letters, July 3) for daring to defend the literary importance of Louis-Ferdinand Céline was carried out with the verve of a prosecuting attorney. She uses emotive imagery to condemn Céline and myself.
It is not true that Céline’s pamphlets are impossible to find. They are freely downloadable from the web. The attack on Céline by Ernst Jünger came from a man who had sworn an oath of allegiance to the Führer. Jünger sent an apologetic letter to Céline for having written thus about him.
Editions Denoël, which published several anti-Semitic tracts, was, due to political connections, exonerated after the war. It is a prime example of the double standard applied to Céline. Many of those who collaborated with the occupying forces escaped with no punishment. Céline did not collaborate. Using him as a smokescreen to hide the deeper culpability of French society is wrong. Céline paid his dues in full under the laws of France.
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There is no mention by Fotiade of the attacks Céline made on Hitler and the Vichy hierarchy, his damning comments on Aryans, or his refusal to turn in people he knew to be Resistance fighters. Céline is a satirist in the tradition of Swift. When he wrote “urns for the Jews” he had no idea about gas chambers, crematoria and the Holocaust. Céline was a doctor – anyone who knows the importance of eugenics in the medical field is well aware that race theory was hardly a German invention.
Céline said he should never have meddled in the “Jewish question”. When Pound was released from St Elizabeth’s Hospital, the first thing he did on arriving in Italy was give the Nazi salute. Where is Fotiade’s condemnation of Pound, or of Sartre, who blindly promulgated an ideology that cost more than 20 million lives in Russia alone? The reason Céline is reviled is simple. He reminds us of the lies people have written to cover their shame at allowing the Holocaust to happen, and the shame of the French in particular at their collusion in it.
Ramona Fotiade could perhaps have helped her case by mentioning Céline’s comment to the effect that the Jewish people had been racist for 2,000 years. The emotive shock that comment sparks in us is due to the cultural singularity Jewish suffering has now assumed in Western society. The Holocaust is the most evil act ever perpetrated against a single people. However, the fact we cannot admit is that the guilt was spread throughout many countries and peoples. Trying to make Céline appear responsible for the Holocaust is ridiculous.
I do not exonerate him. I never set myself up as his judge. I am neither a Holocaust denier nor a revisionist. My maternal family were Jews from Poland. But Fotiade’s letter is not about Céline. It is about the pain she feels – many people feel – at the Holocaust, manifesting itself through her revulsion against a man who made anti-Semitic comments and anyone who states that he is a great writer.
24 rue de Condé, 75006 Paris.
Sir, – On the question of Céline, anti-Semitism, the Occupation and the Holocaust, Karl Orend’s reply (Letters, July 10) to Ramona Fotiade’s letter (July 3) consists of a farrago of non sequiturs on a scale such that clarifying them all would require a full-length article in its own right. Here are some of the more egregious examples.
1. Ernst Jünger, who had “sworn an oath of allegiance to the Führer”, attacked Céline, but later “sent an apologetic letter” for having done so. The moral of the tale – the attack or the apology? It can’t be both.
2. “Many of those who collaborated . . . escaped with no punishment”. There is thus a “double standard” applied to the case of Céline, who “paid his dues in full under the laws of France”. This defies the logic of two wrongs not making a right. Céline may have paid his dues, but all that means is that he was legitimately punished, not that the punishment erases the original wrong.
3. “Céline was a doctor – anyone who knows the importance of eugenics in the medical field is well aware that race theory was hardly a German invention”. This simply defeats even the most elementary test of sense-making. Race theory was indeed not a uniquely German invention, but what is supposed to follow – that the French version, along with Céline’s status as a medical man, somehow “normalizes” the whole business?
4. “Ramona Fotiade could perhaps have helped her case by mentioning” Céline’s view that “the Jewish people had been racist for 2,000 years”. How might this remarkable claim have “helped” in the matter of Céline’s anti-Semitism? The answer comes in the following form: don’t focus too strongly on the Holocaust, because racism and anti-Semitism have been around for a very long time. That is another familiar version of the “normalizing” case. But what has Céline’s comment that the Jews themselves have been racist for 2,000 years got to do with it? Are they one of the “peoples” Orend has in mind, thus complicit in the very thing that destroyed them, and arguably mitigating Céline’s own complicity in what happened to them?
The above are not arguments, rather a mixture of the intellectually chaotic and the ideologically repugnant. Orend also claims, as part of what he calls “defend[ing] the literary importance of Céline”, that he “is a satirist in the tradition of Swift”. This is a familiar analogy and hugely wrong-headed. Céline was a literary phenomenon, violently inventive and violently disturbing, but by no stretch of the imagination could he be described as a great writer, principally for the reason that he was incapable of the disciplined sublimation of raw emotion into achieved form. Céline once said, in a rare moment of self-understanding, that the only thing that kept him going was hatred. That is what he wrote from, and it tells us virtually everything about his limitations as an artist. Hatred, unlike anger (which, as the case of Swift shows, can be a fertile source of artistic inspiration), is ultimately sterile, capable of generating hallucinatory trips but little else besides.
King’s College, Cambridge.
Which pub is mentioned by Dickens in The Pickwick Papers?
Which pub is said to have been frequented by Dick Turpin, Lord Byron, Bram Stoker, Charles Dickens and Karl Marx?
In the beautiful garden of which pub is Keats said to have written Ode to a Nightingale?
In the beautiful garden of which pub did I spend a lovely afternoon yesterday?
Which pub has a doggy wash?
Which pub will soon be turned into a mosque and renamed The Andalucians?
The little toll house on the left, listed, so it can't be knocked down however much the bottleneck inconveniences the traffic, is to be a footbath area, and the inn itself, listed and listing, will be the main mosque building, with one or both of those chimneys to serve as a minaret. The adhan will ring out over Hampstead Heath as far as Highgate and Golders Green. As for the doggy wash ...
Not really, not yet, but it wouldn't be the first time attempts have been made to turn a pub into a mosque. The Spaniards is exceptionally beautiful and steeped in history, but I wouldn't wish that fate on the most charmless, fruit-machine ridden, spit-and-sawdust backstreet boozer. Would you? Even if you're teetotal?
Posting about The Spaniards Inn, a very English pub, I naturally switched off, or put on standby, my Anglo-American dictionary. Accordingly, I used the term "fruit machine". This probably translates as slot machine, but God only knows how it played out over there. From Wikipedia:
"Fruit machine" is a jocular term for a device developed in Canada that was supposed to be able to identify homosexual people, or "fruits". The subjects were made to view pornography, and the device measured the diameter of the pupils of the eyes (pupillary response test), perspiration, and pulse for a supposed erotic response.
The fruit machine was employed in Canada in the 1950s and 1960s during a campaign to eliminate all homosexuals from the civil service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and the military. A substantial number of workers did lose their jobs. Although funding for the "fruit machine" project was cut off in the late 1960s, the investigations continued, and the RCMP collected files on over 9,000 suspected homosexuals.
No offence intended to gamblers, homosexuals, or one-armed bandits of whatever cause. We have fag machines, but that's another story, as is that cottage in the country.
What is it with the Mounties by the way? Are all men on horseback on the other bus? As always, Monty Python has the answer: