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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky

These are all the Blogs posted on Sunday, 29, 2008.
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Some Operatic and Orchestral Interludes – Courtesy of My Father – and a few thoughts thereon

This Queen of Babylon, the incomparable Joan Sutherland, does such justice to the role and sings this great aria from Rossini’s Semiramide so superbly that one just knows, has to know, that she, and this, are indeed a ‘Bright ray of hope’ – bel raggio lusinghier. Let’s face it, we need all the bright rays of hope which we can get these days! I first heard this great Diva at the Fenice, I think, singing Gilda when my father took me there as a very young child more years ago than I care to remember – and many years before the last fire! This is but a pale shadow of that first childhood experience.


Afterwards, my father, wise old man that he was, is, took me out to eat at a cafe in the Calle Larga de l'Ascension, in San Marco – sorry, I can’t, after all these years, remember the name of the cafe we dined in (but I could walk you there tomorrow), but I know, I remember, that wonderful sense of being two grown up men together – father and son – out on the town, even though I was just a child my memory invests that night with a great significance. I’m sure that you know how important I felt that I was – I’d just been invited into the grown-up world by the most important male adult in my life – my wonderful father.


He had, still has, a superb understanding of everything that we are. My father was, is still, a believer in freedom, in art, in culture, in science, in us; in short, he is a polymath – a modern polymath, for he is a practical man – a chartered engineer – but, and most importantly, a cultured and tolerant man who introduced me, as a child, to the great arts – and to great music.


So, my beloved father, this is for you. Oh, and thanks for the Grosser Tiergarten and for believing in me so much that you made me face No. 4, Tiergartenstrasse, that stupid bus station – how banal, what on earth was I afraid of – last year, and thank-you for holding my hand and weeping with me – it haunts me still, as you meant it to, and, as I limp through life now, now at last, I see what you wanted me to see.


And thank-you, my dear, dear father, for teaching me how not to hate but to love and to love , despite that stupid autobus station in Berlin.


And thank-you for teaching me to recognise intolerance and hatred – even in myself – that was a hard lesson to learn.


So now I want to say just one simple thing:


“Thank-you, Dad.”

Posted on 06/29/2008 7:28 AM by John Joyce
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Quote Of The Day

New Duranty:

Sayed Kashua is a talented Israeli-Arab journalist and novelist who writes in Hebrew. On the one hand, Kashua says, Hebrew is “the language of the enemy, the conqueror.” But at the same time, “there are things I can write about in Hebrew that I cannot write about in Arabic. ... I need Hebrew to write about freedom.”

Posted on 06/29/2008 8:53 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Cliché corner

Am I the only person in the world who thinks "am I the only person in the world" is a cliché?

And pseudo-archaic word order does not a cliché make. Not after the first few times.

And when will people stop saying "poster child"? Why did they ever start?

Posted on 06/29/2008 9:49 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Ockham's Metaphysics

Bruce Thornton has an interesting review of George Weigel's book, Against the Grain: Christianity and Democracy, War and Peace, at City Journal. Like Richard Weaver, Weigel locates the origin of the modern breakdown of metaphysics and morality in William of Ockham. Weaver traces Ockham's thought through Puritanism and on into modern liberalism.

...Weigel’s essay “Two Ideas of Freedom” begins by critically examining Isaiah Berlin’s influential notion of “positive” and “negative” freedom: the former is the freedom “to,” which allows us to pursue some perceived greater good; the latter is freedom “from,” particularly from governmental intrusion into private life and interference in the individual’s pursuit of happiness. But Berlin fails to address “the crucial question,” Weigel writes, which is “the truth about man—the truth about the human person—on which any defense of human freedom with real traction must ultimately rest.” Thus Berlin’s notion of freedom reduces it “to a matter of one human faculty—the will—alone.”

Pointing out that Berlin’s analysis is rooted in Enlightenment philosophy and ignores earlier thinkers, Weigel revisits pre-Enlightenment thinking in his discussion of William of Ockham and Saint Thomas Aquinas. For Aquinas, freedom “is a means to human excellence, to human happiness, to the fulfillment of human destiny,” Weigel writes. Freedom helps us to “choose wisely and to act well as a matter of habit.” Only then can we pursue happiness suitable for a rational, moral creature and “build free and virtuous societies in which the rights of all are acknowledged, respected, and protected in law.”

In contrast to Aquinas, Berlin’s intellectual ancestor Ockham reduces freedom to “a neutral faculty of choice, and choice is everything—for choice is a matter of self-assertion, of power,” Weigel writes. Thus freedom has nothing to do with goodness, truth, or virtue. The moral life is now severed from human nature, and humans are severed from one another, “for there can be no ‘common good’ if there are only the particular goods of particular men and women who are each acting out their own particular willfulness.” Moreover, by putting reason into conflict with freedom, Ockham “created a situation in which there are only two options: determinisms of a biological, racial, or ideological sort, or the radical relativism” that eventually leads to nihilism. “In either case,” Weigel believes, “freedom self-destructs.”

Weigel traces the consequences of an Ockhamite understanding of freedom shorn from virtue and moral truth, or the “freedom of indifference” that dominates “much of Western high culture.” Advances in genetics and biotechnology entice us with the promise of human engineering for perfection and immortality, while cloning and stem-cell research destroy human embryos in the service of various ends. By ignoring Aquinas’s notion of “freedom for excellence” we are unlikely “to deploy our new genetic knowledge in ways that lead to human flourishing rather than to the soulless dystopia of the brave new world.” More immediately dangerous is moral relativism, which has been on display throughout the culture in response to the challenge of Islamic jihad; it is an outgrowth of the separation of freedom from moral truth. Meeting the Islamist challenge, Weigel writes, requires not the flabby tolerance or guilty self-loathing engendered by such moral relativism, but rather a patriotism that is the “expression of a nobler concept of freedom than mere willfulness.” For ultimately, “Homo Voluntatis cannot give an account of a freedom worth sacrificing, even dying, for.” Absent such patriotism, we will end up in the state of appeasement that Weigel documents in his essay “Is Europe Dying?,” a brilliant survey of a culture that can no longer reproduce itself or act against Islam’s “aggressive anti-humanism fueled by a distorted theism.”...

Posted on 06/29/2008 10:45 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 29 June 2008
A Musical Interlude: You Wouldn't Fool Me, Would You? (Annette Hanshaw)
Posted on 06/29/2008 11:25 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 29 June 2008
The "Palestinian People," Golda Meir, And Not Giving An Inch

"Sayed Kashua is a talented Israeli-Arab journalist and novelist.." [from the Times piece quoted below]

 A talented "Israeli-Arab" journalist and author? Why isn't he a talented "Palestinian" journalist and author? Is the word "Palestinian" a term of national and ethnic identity, or is merely a geographic term, or is it a geographic term posing, when the need arises, as a national and ethnic identity, for Arab and Muslim propagandistic purposes?

The very same people, including Israelis, who unembarrassedly note the existence,  in Iraq, of the "Kurds and the Arabs," or who in discussing Algeria or Morocco mention the "Arabs and the Berbers," or who -- even the egregious Kristof does it-- write about the Sudan where the "Arabs" make war on the "black Africans" -- the same people who will also talk or write about the "Israeli Arabs," will nonetheless seldom or never write about "the Palestinian Arabs" but, rather, carefully or carelessly, about "the Palestinian people."

And they do this automatically, unselfconsciously, without feeling the need to explain whny the Arabs of Iraq and of Algeria and of the Sudan are just the "Arabs" but suddenly become, when they live in Gaza or in the "West Bank" or in any of the other Arab states or indeed anywhere in the world, are no longer "Arabs" but "Palestinians," those who belong to the "Palestinian people."

No one would call Ted Koppel, whose parents fled Nazi Germany, a "German refugee" nor call Kissinger, or still more crazily, his son or grandchildren, "German refugees." No one would call Dmitri Nabokov a "Russian refugee."If you refer to the Arabs who live anywhere in territories that were once part of Mandatory Palestine, but were won by Israel in a war of self-defense in 1967 as, say, the "Gazan Arabs" or the "West Bank Arabs" you will feel, at first, a little strange. If you call those Arabs who, living outside of Israel and the territories it won in 1967, originated in the area, anything but "Palestinians" you will be made to feel as if you are doing wrong. That is how clever, and damaging to Israel's interest, and resilient, this unique branding of a subset of the Arabs has become.  

It is the same with those who were once called (not quite accurately) "Arab refugees" but have since the Six-Day War been carefully called "Palestinian refugees." Not only have those who left Mandatory Palestine (or, after May 15, 1948, the State of Isarel) been renamed the "Palestinians" but it is treated as being an inheritable condition. No other refugees in the world are so treated. After the first generation, those who are born elsewhere are referred to by their new places of origin, not those of their fathers or grandfathers. No one would call Ted Koppel, whose parents fled Nazi Germany, a "German refugee" or still more crazily, call his daugher, or Henry Kissinger's son, "German refugees" or even "Germans." No one calls Dmitri Nabokov or other children of people who fled the Bolsheviks as "Russian refugees" but as "the son or daughter of Russian refugees." And it is the same with others, who left this or that place. Even leaving aside the very doubtful notion that the Arabs who left Mandatory Palestine in the fall of 1947 and up to mid-May 1948 can be called "refugees" -- they left because they knew the Arab armies would attack, as they did, and wanted to remove themselves from the area of conflict because they were certain those Arab armies would triumph, and they would simply return, delicately stepping over the corpses of the Jewish men, women, and children who would be the victims, so every Arab thought, of a "massacre the likes of which would not have been seen since the days of the Mongols" -- which is what Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League, assured everyone would be the outcome. "

After the Six-Day War, the Arabs simply renamed those Arabs who lived in Gaza and the "West Bank" or were living, as "Arab refugees," in other Arab countries, on the permanent UNRWA dole, as the "Palestinian people." This was part of the strategy to refashion, or repackage, the conflict not as one between hundreds of millions of Arab Muslims, intent on destroying the Infidel nation-state of Israel, but as a conflict, rather, "between two tiny peoples," a struggle for the  "legitimate rights" of the "Palestinian people"   so the narrative went,  and the real story -- of a Jihad conducted against the tiny Infidel nation-state of Israel, was presented in a comically bowlderized version, so as not to scare the women, the horses, or Western diplomats intent on peace-processing and treaty-making and all the rest of it,  diplomats who would not hear of, and would not study themselves, the real views of Muslims on what treaties with Infidels are, and must be, all about.

Few inside Israel, and even fewer elsewhere, appeared to notice, much less wanted to call attention to, what should have immediately been understood as a carefully-planned propagandistic presto-chango, by which the Jihad against Israel, which had been undisguised before 1967 -- for example, in the speeches by Arafat's predecessor Ahmed Shukairy, or in the statements made by Arab rulers and diplomats addressing Arab audiences in which they would promise to destroy Israel, to eliminate it. After the invention of the "Palestinian people"  a for-infidels-only version of the Arab war on Israel became more easily offered, and the Western diplomats and journalists were among those who, seemingly permanent ignorant of, or wilfully inattentive to, Islam, were those keenest to believe that an Arab-Israeli settlement (and not merely an Israeli surrender of rights as part of a never-ending series leading to ultimate disaster) was possible, was attainable, if a series of "if onlys" were met:  "if only" Israel did this or did that, "if only" some American President stuck to his guns, and paid enough attention to the "peace-making process,"  without worrying about domestic politics (i.e., the so-called Jewish lobby, whose power was always greatly exaggerated, and far inferior to the power of the Saudi lobby, which also meant the Islam lobby).

What is strange is that nowadays, when so many know so much more, have been forced to learn so much more,  about Islam, and therefore about the source of Arab and Muslim opposition to the existence of Israel, is that even some who are sympathetic to Israel are reluctant to admit that the whole "Palestinian people" business is and always was merely a matter of propaganda, endlessly rerpeated. They don't want to work to undo the Arab success. They are tired, and don't think  it a battle worth fighting. They justify their inability to undo what has been done by various means. Some think:  to themselves: well, maybe the "Palestinian people" was originally an obvious absurdity,   but don't such a people now exist? Haven't a whole forty years gone by in which that "Palestinian national consciousness" has been created? And so on.

This is nonsense. The exaggerated, hyper-conscious insistence on the supposed "construction of a 'Palestinian' Identity," along with all the stuff that has been done in that line -- for example, the dutiful creation of a few "Palestinian folk dances" made up as part of that fake identity that is presented to the credulous outside world -- should have been the signal that the whole effort, which would not be needed for a real people, bespeaks not a genuine nation, but an artificial construct.

A just-published review in "Commentary" of a book on Golda Meir offers an example of someone (Dean Godson) who, while hardly being unsympathetic to Israel (quite the contrary), nonetheless can write this:  "On the Palestinian question [by which it appears the author of the review, Dean Godson, means the existence of this "Palestinian people"] Golda has become much too right-wing for contemporary tastes, especially in her supposed denial of the existence of a Palestinian nation."

There was nothing "supposed" about that denial. Golda Meir  flatly refused to believe any of that stuff about the "Palestinian people" because she was present at the creation -- the creation of the phrase, the creation of the idea, the creation of the myth, the whole transparent "construction-of-the-Palestinian-identity" project that nearly all of the Arabs, and seemingly half the non-Arabs, getting degrees on something to do with the Middle East, appear to have taken as their doctoral-dissertation topics, and then manage to put these dissertations between hard covers, and apparently have no trouble getting university presses to publish the stuff.

Golda Meir denied that there was a "Palestinian people" because in her entire life -- as a young woman in the United States,  in Mandatory Palestine, and then in the State of Israel -- the Arabs had always been the Arabs. They never called themselves the "Palestinian people." They didn't do so in 1948 either, or during the Suez Conflict. They didn't do so in the period leading to the Six-Day War in 1967. It took a while for them, after that war, and their many helpful foreign public-relations advisers and experts, to recognize the efficacy of declaring the Arab population that  was on the spot, and constituted the shock troops of the Jihad against Israel, a Jihad that is not so much about the actual well-being of those local Arabs (which doesn't matter very much to the other Arabs, if at all), but about creating the conditions, absent the possibility of an immediate all-out military assault, by which Israel would be weakened, territorially, economically, morally, and of course also militarily, so that by degrees, as it weakened, and was subject to terror attacks from within and without, the people of Israel would become disheartened, disenchanted, divided, unable to think straight.

It might work.

Or, if Israelis simply  recognize the truth about the war being made on them, a war that is merely a classic Jihad  with some novel instruments substituted for the old qitaal or combat -- it will be salutary for them and for their supporters. Part of the truth they need to recognize is that the "Palestinian people" is a construct designed to hide the fact that the war is Islam-based, is a Jihad, and will not be softened, much less come to an end, if Israel does not hold firm to its own legal, historic, and moral claims to every dunam now under its control. Dutiful Arab Muslims -- and that means most of them -- will find their appetites whetted, not sated, by further Israeli concessions -- and part of that truth is to stop talking about, and stop letting others talk unopposed about, this goddam "Palestinian people" -- about Islam, the situation, far from being hopeless, will become manageable, because at last what was always there will at last be grimly understood.  

It would be a good thing too, if everyone who saw things more or less correctly were not tempted to make any concessions, especially by fooling themselves that "it's not a battle worth fighting" or "that's already been decided."

Nothing has been decided. Every gain by the Arabs and Muslims is reversible. The "Palestinian people" business can be, should be, undone at every opportunity.

Posted on 06/29/2008 1:14 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Islam Is Greatest Threat To Church

Alison Ruoff shows great courage. This is from The Telegraph:

Divisions in the Church of England over homosexuality and women bishops are nothing compared with the threat it faces from Islam, a prominent member of its governing body has warned.

More than 1,000 conservative Anglicans have been meeting in Jerusalem this week to develop a new movement within the worldwide Communion, in order to combat liberals who they say are departing from the Bible's teaching by supporting gay clergy.

Next week the General Synod, the Church of England's parliament, gathers in York to discuss the introduction of women bishops without provisions for those who oppose the historic move, which could see dozens of conservative clergy leave the church and claim millions in compensation.

But Alison Ruoff, an evangelical lay member of the Synod and a former magistrate who is at the Gafcon summit in Jerusalem, told The Daily Telegraph that the church needs to get past these divisions and concentrate on fighting the rise of Islam in Britain.

She says that under an Archbishop of Canterbury who said it is inevitable that elements of Sharia will be introduced in the UK, the church has not done enough to put its message across.

And she believes the Government, out of politically correct sensitivity, is not preventing the growth of Muslim communities which do not integrate with those around them.

Mrs Ruoff, who earlier this year called for a halt to mosque building in Britain, said: "The problems of homosexuality and women bishops which face the Church of England are minor compared with the threat to the church and the nation from Islam.

"The church is sleepwalking into an Islamic state. Hopefully we can unite against it.

"The leaders of the church have lost their confidence in the Gospel. We have got an Archbishop of Canterbury who doesn't stand up for Christianity but wants a degree of Sharia law.

"The church should be getting out with the Christian message.

"Our Government is allowing it to happen out of political correctness, but it should be protecting our values and heritage."

She added that many people share her fears but do not like to speak out about it in case they are criticised.

"People are genuinely worried. There's a general concern in the nation about its building blocks being rapidly eroded.

"But we are very afraid of the law and of being persecuted. The police in many respects are standing up for Islam rather than Christianity."

Mrs Ruoff believes the problem with the growth of Islam in Britain is that some communities do not integrate, and that some immigrant imams do not learn English, leading to segregation.

She fears that if these communities introduce Islamic law, all non-Muslims and women will be treated as second-class citizens by them...

Posted on 06/29/2008 1:46 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Wilders Vs. Dedecker

Here is an interesting interview blogged by Paul Belien:

Yesterday, the Belgian establishment newspaper De Standaard published a double interview with the Dutch politician Geert Wilders and the Flemish politician Jean-Marie Dedecker.

De Standaard: There are also large differences between the two of you. Mr Dedecker is opposed to prohibiting things, whereas you [Geert Wilders] want to prohibit all kinds of things, starting with the Koran. […]

Wilders: That I want to prohibit all sort of things is complete nonsense. I only want to prohibit things to defend our rule of law. I am still enough of a liberal to prohibit things only in the most extreme cases. I do not like to prohibit books at all. You will never hear me advocate prohibiting other books.

De Standaard: Do you also feel that our rule of law is threatened in this way, Mr Dedecker?

Dedecker: I feel threatened by the fact that the separation between church and state is diminishing. But I have no existential angst. There are two major phobias at present in our society: Islamophobia and climatophobia. Both are being promoted.

(To Wilders) You think that Eurabia is a danger. I disagree. Our enlightenment values are strong enough to withstand this. However, we have to wake up. What the politically correct Left has done to our society explains our [electoral] success.

Wilders: If you say that we must wake up, this means that the leftist political elite is sleeping at this moment. That is exactly the reason why our enlightenment ideas do not prevail. Because those leftist politicians, who have become ever more dependent on [the votes of] immigrant groups, will sleep on.

Dedecker: I think prohibiting the Koran is a form of overacting. We shouldn’t prohibit any books: neither Mein Kampf nor the Koran. The Bible, the Thora and the Koran are but fairy tale books. That is what you have to dare tell the people. If religion manifests itself as collective madness, then we must dare to oppose it and start the debate.

Wilders: The Koran is a diabolic book rather than a fairy tale book. It is also, unlike the other books which you refer to – and which I would not call fairy tale books, but it is your right to do so – a book from which people draw inspiration today to commit terrorist acts and exclude women and homosexuals from my community and execrate the separation of church and state. Fairy tale books do not do such things. Fairy tale books concern the Efteling or Walibi [Dutch and Belgian theme parks; equivalents of Disneyland]

Dedecker: I am opposed to the wearing of headscarfs by civil servants, I am opposed to separate swimming hours [for men and women] in swimming pools, but is this a reason to prohibit the Koran? On the contrary, I am one hundred percent behind our own values. And I am as much criticised for this as you. […]

[To Wilders] Up to a certain extent you are also a Zionist. I find that very strange of you.

Wilders: A Zionist? What next?

Dedecker: The way you always defend Israel – as a matter of fact this happens much more in the Netherlands than in Belgium. We both have visited Israel and the Palestinian territories. I consider Zionism and Islamism as similar phenomena. You constantly defend Israel although you know what is being inflicted there on the Palestinians. Do you do that perhaps because Zionism is the counterpart of Islamism?

Wilders: It is interesting that you say this. Zionist goes perhaps a bit far, but I am, indeed, a convinced defender of Israel. Because Israel is an oasis of democracy and Western values in the Middle East. I have also been in other countries in the region, from Syria via Iran to Afghanistan: all these countries are dictatorships. Israel is the only country where a majority in parliament can dismiss a minister – as members of parliament you and I should be able to appreciate that.

I am biased in favour of Israel. Is that so bad? No, I am even proud of it. You have to make up your own mind, but you, too, should be proud of every democracy in the world.

You are partly right. But that does not justify Israel’s apartheid policies – and that is exactly what I reject. I call Israel a kippah democracy.

Wilders: I have a different opinion. Palestinians who are living in Gaza and on the West Bank at this moment, could very well move to the other side of the Jordan – to Jordan or other areas. There is space and place enough there and many Palestinians already live there.

De Standaard: So you also favour ethnic cleansing?

Wilders: That is not ethnic cleansing. Israel can justly claim those regions. Moreover we do not have to harm anyone, but I see what happens today: Hamastan, governs Gaza.

Dedecker: Why should the Palestinians have to go to Jordan? The Palestinians are the outcasts of the Middle East: they are not welcome anywhere. These are people who were driven from their territory on the basis of an international treaty and pseudo property rights granted by the Thora or the Bible. Property rights on the basis of fairy tale books.

Wilders: For me the security of Israel as a democracy prevails on the rights of a group who is to a large extent guilty of terror and corruption. There is no democratic Palestinian authority – that is the sad truth. I am convinced that the attacks which Israel suffers from radical Islam are attacks aimed at us.

Dedecker: Isn't it the opposite? Research shows that three fourth of the suicide terrorists are motivated by the fate of the Palestinians. If we solve that situation, would it not lead to a safer world for all of us? Meanwhile we have to spend billions and billions on our own security.

100% of Muslim suicide bombers are motivated by Islam, if three fourths also include the motivation of killing Jews and taking back the formerly Muslim land of Israel, that's still an Islamic motivation. If Israel didn't exist, Muslims would still have the Islamic motivation to attack (or to support jihad more broadly by using wealth, the pen or tongue and/or demographic conquest) elsewhere.

Posted on 06/29/2008 2:04 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Malapropism of the month

Lee McQueen, roughest of rough diamonds and winner of The Apprentice, on presenting his new brand of tissues:

 "We've aimed our product at the female genre."

Genre? I suppose he's trying extra hard to avoid sex. Tissues may come in handy.

Posted on 06/29/2008 3:29 PM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Inverted snobbery

Perplexed by his high-powered lesbian colleagues, a diamond geezer in the excellent TV series This Life asks: "Where is Radclyffe Hall?"

Where indeed? Away with the fairies, that's where.

The Well of Loneliness was one of those worthy books that one was supposed to read. I tried it and got bored. This is probably my fault, but understandable at the time. I was working long hours in a demanding, precarious and tedious job. I felt little sympathy with a character, "invert" or not, who had a private income and nothing to do all day but find herself and get depressed. 

Speaking of self-indulgent, whining bints with nothing to moan about, Virginia Woolf gets a free pass from normally sensible ex-northerner, Jeanette Winterson. (See Theodore Dalrymple's scathing comments on Woolf's "servant problem" for a more realistic view.) Winterson thinks Orlando is “sexy, provocative and tantalising”:

It has every power to suggest that a commitment to gender is a waste of half a life.

Perhaps Orlando is sexy, provocative and tantalising - I haven't read it. But if it suggests that "a commitment to gender is a waste of half a life", then it is silly.

Leaving aside the absurd phrase "commitment to gender", or "genre" as our winning apprentice would call it, this “half a life” thing makes no sense to me. Those magazine articles you see, where a woman lives "as a man" for a day, or vice versa, make no sense either. If I were to spend a typical day - office, pub/theatre/eat, home/eat, TV, blog, bed - "as a man", the main difference for me would be that I would use a different toilet. Much would be the same. I would get up, put on trousers and a shirt (but I call it a top), go to work and so forth. Of course, if I were a man, I would be able to speak forthrightly, and make dirty jokes. Oh, wait…

Many women's lives are different from mine. I have no children, and little interest in make-up. I don't claim to speak for all women or about all men. But generally, I have far more in common with an enlightened Western man - and wear less make-up than some - than with a Saudi or Somali woman.

Islam sees men and women as different species. Ne’er the twain shall meet – at least not as equals. Even the men in Islam waste half a life, and the women have their whole lives wasted for them.

The battle of the sexes must surely take second place to the battle for civilisation.

Posted on 06/29/2008 4:18 PM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Hersh: US Getting Ready To Hit Iran

I'm quite sure we'll let the Israelis take out the Iranian nuclear project alone unless it looks like the Iranians might retaliate against our troops in Iraq, then we'll take out much of that capability too. Personally, I'd like to see a joint US-Israeli mission on this.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration has launched a "significant escalation" of covert operations in Iran, sending U.S. commandos to spy on the country's nuclear facilities and undermine the Islamic republic's government, journalist Seymour Hersh said Sunday.

White House, CIA and State Department officials declined comment on Hersh's report, which appears in this week's issue of The New Yorker.

Hersh told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" that Congress has authorized up to $400 million to fund the secret campaign, which involves U.S. special operations troops and Iranian dissidents.

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have rejected findings from U.S. intelligence agencies that Iran has halted a clandestine effort to build a nuclear bomb and "do not want to leave Iran in place with a nuclear program," Hersh said.

"They believe that their mission is to make sure that before they get out of office next year, either Iran is attacked or it stops its weapons program," Hersh said...

Posted on 06/29/2008 6:48 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 29 June 2008
A Musical Interlude: Sugar (Lee Wiley)
Posted on 06/29/2008 8:25 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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