Thursday, 28 February 2019
Bradford Grooming Trial: Hecklers called prosecutors 'slags' and 'hoped they would be raped'

From local newspaper the Telegraph and Argus

THE aggressive and threatening behaviour of some of the defendants and their families during and after the long-running Bradford grooming trial can now be revealed.

Following the men’s convictions, prosecution barrister Kama Melly QC said she and her junior counsel, Sharon Beattie, had been heckled and verbally abused outside the court building late on Tuesday afternoon. Miss Melly said several people hanging around after the defendants had been locked up pending sentence had called the lawyers “slags” and said they hoped that they would be raped.

The trial judge, the Recorder of Bradford, Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC, described this as “absolutely outrageous” and hoped the culprits could be identified and reported to the police with a view to being prosecuted.

A violent disturbance then broke out on the concourse, with several men being ejected from the building and barred from attending the sentencing hearing the following day.

Some of the defendants had to be warned about their conduct during the course of the trial. There were complaints from dock officers and canteen staff about their rude and unpleasant behaviour, prompting Judge Durham Hall to repeatedly warn them their bail would be withdrawn if they did not mend their ways.

The Recorder of Bradford, Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC, referred to earlier grooming cases, in “Rochdale, Leeds, Rotherham, you name it!” 

“No major city in England and Wales seems to have escaped this problem, grooming by older men acting together or alone,” the judge continued. “Your behaviour has been as wicked as it is incomprehensible to our society, and indeed all in this community.” Your Honour, have courage, mention the influence of Islam. You know it is a factor, and that factor makes sense of it all. 

The teenager at the heart of the seven-week trial was plied with alcohol and cocaine before being “raped without blandishment but with violence” by several of the defendants.

“She was treated by you, or some of you, like a toy or a commodity to be used,” the Judge ... said. “For years she felt she had no voice and that she was powerless, but she’s got a voice now, gentlemen,” he told the defendants, who were flanked in the dock by up to ten prison officers.

(From top left, clockwise)
Basharat Khaliq, Saeed Akhtar, Naveed Akhtar, Parvaze Ahmed, Zeeshan Ali, Fahim Iqbal, Izar Hussain, Mohammed Usman and Kieran Harris

He said of one defendant, Izar Hussain who was jailed for 16 years  “You didn’t bother with the grooming, it was violent rape and attempted rape,” 

Although several women family members wept in the public gallery as the sentences were passed and each man was led in turn down the steps to the cells, there was no further disturbance.

Posted on 02/28/2019 5:06 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 28 February 2019
Amazon deletes Mohammed's Koran by Tommy Robinson and Peter McLoughlin.

Yesterday, on a search by name and author, UK Amazon showed a 'not available' notice, like the book was out of print, or subject to some stock flow hiccup. Today a search request returns nothing. It is as if the book never existed. It is in the memory hole. If you remember it you are deluded, tricked by the agents of Eurasia, or East Asia. 

“‘Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’”

However all is not lost. Unlike the Satanic Verses (about which more later) no copies have been burned, so far as I know (and I'm sure if they had been a great fuss would have been made). What have gone are the thousands of positive 5* reviews, and the reasoned counter arguments to all the 1*, "I have not read this book but I KNOW it is boll**ks", reviews from angry Muslims and fellow travellers. 

Amazon have told peter McLoughlin that the book has been deleted from their catalogue because "because it does not provide a positive user experience". Mein Kampf definitely doesn't but they stock that as a matter of historical record. 

Those readers who have enquired since Amazon decided to emulate Orwell's Ministry of Truth yesterday may be interested to know that by following this link from Peter McLaughlin's website books are still available within the UK. I do not yet know what arrangements will be made for readers outside the UK, or what plans there are for digital download or suchlike. 

Meanwhile Tommy Robinson's other book, his autobiography Enemy of the State is still available through Amazon, as is the New English Review Press published Easy Meat by Peter McLoughlin, here

It is 30 years since the first publication of Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses and last night the BBC (yes, them)  showed a programme presented by a young Muslim called Mobeen Azhar of the BBC Asian Channel who wanted to know if opinions had changed. Despite being superficially somewhat secular his upbringing was such that he was visibly shocked by some of the book. Reading just one or two lines to young girls in Bradford caused them to shake with rage. One copy was snatched from his hand by an angry man and pages with scorch marks were later found on the ground; from this he deduced that an attempt to burn the book had taken place. Earlier the man who did burn the book in Bradford during the notorious demonstration of 1989 showed that he had to use copious quantities of paraffin to get any blaze going, so the gesture may have been merely that. He was certainly angry, as was the young man who haranged Mobeen for entering a Muslim area. But I am a Muslim and I come from nearby Huddersfield was the reply. 

This TV review from the Telegraph contains description and pertinent comments. If you can't read the whole thing, go straight to the comments. 

The programme makers thought that by showing scenes of marching, protesting, outraged Muslims the media were sowing the seeds of current 'islamophobia' which have culminated in  - shock! horror! TOMMY ROBINSON!!! 

I marvelled that it took so long, 28 years through 9/11, the London Bombings of 7th July 2015, the murder of Lee Rigby, and not until the Rotherham report followed by the jihad murder of 22 girls and their mothers at Manchester Arena in 2017 did the public begin to express concern, in numbers and with confidence, about the true nature and intent of Islam. The Hillsborough disaster was the same year, 1989, and it took nearly as long for the dead to get justice. 

There will be ways round this ban. We will find them. 

Posted on 02/28/2019 1:21 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 28 February 2019
Michel Houellebecq: Chronicler of Our Mass Incompetence in the Art of Living

by Theodore Dalrymple

Not reading many contemporary French novels, I am not entitled to say that Michel Houellebecq is the most interesting French novelist writing today, but he is certainly very brilliant, if in a somewhat limited way. His beam is narrow but very penetrating, like that of a laser, and his theme an important, indeed a vital one: namely the vacuity of modern life in the West, its lack of transcendence, lived as it is increasingly without religious or political belief, without a worthwhile creative culture, often without deep personal attachments, and without even a struggle for survival. Into what Salman Rushdie (a much lesser writer than Houellebecq) called “a God-shaped hole” has rushed the search for sensual pleasure which, however, no more than distracts for a short while.

Something more is needed, but Western man—at least Western man at a certain level of education, intelligence and material ease—has not found it. Houellebecq’s underlying nihilism implies that it is not there to be found. The result of this lack of transcendent purpose is self-destruction not merely on a personal, but on a population, scale. Technical sophistication has been accompanied, or so it often seems, by mass incompetence in the art of living. Houellebecq is the prophet, the chronicler, of this incompetence.

Even the ironic title of his latest novel, Sérotonine, is testimony to the brilliance of his diagnostic powers and his capacity to capture in a single word the civilizational malaise which is his unique subject. Serotonin, as by now every self-obsessed member of the middle classes must know, is a chemical in the brain that acts as a neurotransmitter to which is ascribed powers formerly ascribed to the Holy Ghost. All forms of undesired conduct or feeling are caused by a deficit or surplus or malalignment of this chemical, so that in essence all human problems become ones of neurochemistry.  

On this view, unhappiness is a technical problem for the doctor to solve rather than a cause for reflection and perhaps even for adjustment to the way one lives. I don’t know whether in France the word malheureux has been almost completely replaced by the word déprimée, but in English unhappy has almost been replaced by depressed. In my last years of medical practice, I must have encountered hundreds, perhaps thousands, of depressed people, or those who called themselves such, but the only unhappy person I met was a prisoner who wanted to be moved to another prison, no doubt for reasons of safety.

Houellebecq’s one-word title captures this phenomenon (a semantic shift as a handmaiden to medicalisation) with a concision rarely equalled. And indeed, he has remarkably sensitive antennae to the zeitgeist in general, though it must be admitted that he is most sensitive to those aspects of it that are absurd, unpleasant, or dispiriting rather than to any that are positive.

Houellebecq satirises what might be called the neurochemical view of life which is little better than superstition or urban myth. The protagonist and narrator of Sérotonine, an early-middle aged agronomist whose jobs, though rewarding enough financially, have always seemed to him unsatisfactory or pointless. He suffers from the unhappiness that results from his inability to form a long-lasting relationship with a woman, instead having a series of relationships which he sabotages by his impulsive sensation-seeking behaviour. This man goes to a doctor to obtain more of his Captorix, a fictional new serotonergic anti-depressant. The doctor, without enquiring into the circumstances of his life, says to him:

What’s important is to maintain the serotonin at the correct level–then you’ll be all right–but to lower the cortisol and perhaps raise the dopamine and the endorphins would be the ideal.

This is the kind of debased scientistic language that can be heard in conversations on any bus, and reminds me strongly of Peter D Kramer’s preposterous book, Listening to Prozac, which some years back persuaded the public that we are on the verge of understanding so much neurochemistry that we shall soon be able to design our own personalities by means of self-medication.     

The novel lacks even the semblance of a plot, being more the fictional memoir of the chagrins of a man (one suspects) very much like the author himself. The protagonist, Florent-Claude (a ridiculous name that he hates) has been in love twice, but has both times ruined the relationship by a quick fling with a passing young woman. Although he has become dependent, at least psychologically, on his Captorix (incidentally, but not coincidentally, a very plausible name for a new drug), he recognises at the end of the book that he is the victim-participant of a culture in which monogamy is hardly to be expected. Speaking of the failure of his relationships, he says:

I could have made a woman happy… In fact, two; I have already told you which. Everything was obvious, extremely obvious, from the first; but we didn’t realise it. Had we surrendered to illusions of individual freedom, of the open life, the infinity of possibilities? That could be, these ideas were in the spirit of the times; we hadn’t formalised them, we hadn’t the desire to do so; we were content to conform to them, to allow ourselves to be destroyed by them.

For me the pleasure of reading Houellebecq is not in the plot, still less in the characterisation which is thin because the protagonist-narrator is so egotistical that he has little interest in anyone else (a trait which we are clearly intended to believe is widespread or even dominant in the modern world). It is rather in the mordant observations that Houellebecq makes on consumerism and its emptiness. Here, for example, Florent-Claude meets Yuku, his former Japanese girlfriend living in Paris, at an airport in Spain where he is temporarily living:

I knew her luggage very well, it was a famous brand that I had forgotten, Zadig and Voltaire or perhaps Pascal and Blaise, whose concept had been to reproduce on its material one of those Renaissance maps in which the landmass was represented very approximately, with a vintage legend reading something like ‘Here be tygers’, anyway it was chic luggage, its exclusivity reinforced by its lack of the little wheels that the vulgar Samsonite cases middle managers have, so it was necessary to wrestle with it, just like with the elegant trunks of the Victorian era.

He continues:

Like all the other countries of Western Europe, Spain was engaged on the mortal struggle to increase productivity and had suppressed all the unskilled jobs that formerly helped to make life a little less disagreeable, at the same time condemning the greater part of its population to mass unemployment. Luggage like this, whether it was Zadig and Voltaire or Pascal and Blaise, only had sense in a society in which porters still existed.

In this passage, with typical economy, Houellebecq skewers both the shallowness of a culture in which people obtain their sense of themselves from the visible labels or brands of their possessions, and the absurd but intractable contradictions of our political economy. He of course proposes no solution (perhaps there is none), but it is not the purpose of books such as his to propose solutions. It is enough if he opens our eyes to the problem.

His mordant observations make many people extremely uncomfortable, not because they are inaccurate, but because they are only too accurate and could conceivably lead to unpleasant conclusions, or at least thoughts. They therefore reject the whole: it is the easiest way to deny what one knows to be true. In the following passage, for example, the protagonist (or Houellebecq) describes the owner of a bar in Northern France who has just spent his time—of which there was much—in minutely reading the local newspaper:

The owner had finished Paris-Normandie [the local newspaper] and had launched on just as close a reading of France Football, it was a very thorough reading, such reading exists, I have known people like that who are not satisfied by reading just the headlines, the statements of Édouard Philippe [the current Prime Minister of France] or the amount of Neymar’s transfer fee [Neymar is a famous Brazilian footballer], but want to get the bottom of things; they are the foundation of enlightened opinion, the pillar of representative democracy.

Houellebecq runs an abattoir for sacred cows.

What can be said against his misanthropic, completely disabused view of the modern world? His sex scenes, which for those who have read several of his books now seem like a tic or the public confession of his own deepest fantasies, imply that sex is (and can be) nothing but the brief satisfaction of an urgent desire, as mechanical in its operation as that of a cement mixer. More importantly, it might be said that he concentrates only on the worst aspects of modernity, its spiritual emptiness for example, without acknowledgement of the ways in which life has improved. But this is like objecting to Gulliver’s Travels on the same grounds.   

His work, not least Sérotonine, is filled with disgust, as was Swift’s: but it is the kind of disgust that can only emerge from deep disappointment, and one is not disappointed by what one does not care about. There is gallows humour on every page: the personage hanged being Western civilisation.

First published in the Library of Law and Liberty.

Posted on 02/28/2019 12:25 PM by Theodore Dalrymple
Thursday, 28 February 2019
Shamima Begum, Who Joined the Islamic State, Has “No Regrets” But Wants to Come Home

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Shamima Begum left the U.K. in 2015 to join the Islamic State, of which she was then, and remains now, a supporter. She was 15 at the time. When she left the U.K., the Islamic State had already been beheading Christians, Yazidis, and Shi’a Muslims for more than a year. In 2014, the IS fighters had decapitated James Foley, an American journalist, and Alan Henning, a British aid worker. So Shamima Begum knew exactly what kind of group she was joining. She soon married an IS fighter. Now that the last redoubt of ISIS in Syria is about to fall, Shamima Begum has fled to a refugee camp in Syria. She wants to come back to the U.K. She has just been stripped of her British citizenship, but the controversy still rages: should she have been allowed back into the country?

She has not declared her disaffection with, much less horror at, the Islamic State. In fact, she remains committed to the murderous ideology of the Islamic State. She has told the BBC that “she had no regrets but wanted to have her baby — she is pregnant — in the U.K. “No regrets” about being a supporter of the homicidal fanatics of ISIS for five years. Keep that uppermost in mind.

Shamima Begum had her baby, a boy, in Syria after all. So her main reason for wanting to return to the U.K., which she had earlier claimed was in order to assure the safe delivery of her baby, no longer applies. What is of note is that she named the baby Jerah, the same name she had given her first-born son, in what historians have interpreted as a reference to Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah, a 7th century Islamic warlord, one of Muhammad’s Companions, famous for killing Infidels. At the Battle of Badr in 624, Abu Ubaidah fought his own father, Abdullah ibn al-Jarrah, who had been fighting on the side of the army of the Quraysh. He later attacked and killed his father. The following verse of the Quran was written about this display of character by Abu Ubaidah:

“Thou wilt not find any people who believe in Allah and the Last Day, loving those who resist Allah and His Messenger, even though they were their fathers or their sons, or their brothers, or their kindred. For such He has written Faith in their hearts, and strengthened them with a spirit from Himself. And He will admit them to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow, to dwell therein (for ever). Allah will be well pleased with them, and they with Him. They are the Party of Allah. Truly it is the Party of Allah that will achieve Felicity. (Qur’an 58:22)

Perhaps the little boy will grow up and emulate the warrior he was named after. Something, though not by any means the only thing, for Shamima Begum to worry about.

The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, says Shamima Begum could be prevented from returning to the UK.

“My message is clear,” Sajid Javid told the Times: “If you have supported terrorist organisations abroad I will not hesitate to prevent your return.”

He added that if Shamima Begum, 19, did come home she could be prosecuted.

“We must remember that those who left Britain to join Daesh were full of hate for our country,” Mr Javid said.

“If you do manage to return you should be ready to be questioned, investigated and potentially prosecuted.”

Mr Javid added that there were a range of measures available to “stop people who pose a serious threat from returning to the UK, including depriving them of their British citizenship or excluding them from the country.”

Bravo for Sajid Javid. That this commonsensical attitude by the Home Secretary should be questioned by some among the Great and Good of the United Kingdom — see below — is deplorable.

Security chiefs in London could also control Ms Begum’s possible return through a Temporary Exclusion Order.

The controversial legal tool bars a British citizen from returning home until they have agreed to investigation, monitoring and, if required, deradicalisation.

However Lord Carlile, a former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said Ms Begum would have to be accepted back into the UK if she had not become a national of any other country.

Under international law, it is not possible to render a person stateless.

When the needs of national security bump up against so-called “international law,” any leader in his right mind will simply refuse to recognize that “international law.” Who’s going to enforce it? A bunch of U.N. peacekeepers? And what U.N. Security Council Resolution (the only kind that is binding) that requires a country to allow back former nationals who have travelled abroad to join such groups as the Islamic State — will not be vetoed by the U.S, or the U.K., or France, or even — for they are just as wary of Islam as the West — China or Russia?

When someone leaves the U.K. to join a terrorist group that likes to kill non-Muslims (which includes most people in the U.K.), that person has become a traitor. The U.K. should be able to strip such a person of citizenship, as Javid suggests, and keep him or her from returning to the country.

Shamima Begum was legally a child when she pinned her colours to the Islamic State mast.

And if she were still under 18 years old, the government would have a duty to take her and her unborn child’s “best interests” into account in deciding what to do next.

But she’s now an apparently unrepentant adult – and that means she would have to account for her decisions, even if her journey is a story of grooming and abuse.

She may have been “groomed” — that is, subject to propagandists, likely online,  for the Islamic State, but she’s had four years in Raqqa to rethink her initial enthusiasm, and apparently nothing she experienced in the Islamic State caused her to change her mind. Hers is not a story of “grooming and abuse.”

Another British jihadi bride, Tareena Shakil, who got out of the war zone with her child, lied to the security services on her return and was jailed for membership of [sic] a terrorist group.

If Ms Begum got out of the country, that is the kind of charge she could face – along with encouraging or supporting terrorism.

But that’s a long way off. Assuming she made it to an airport, the UK could temporarily ban her from returning until she agreed to be investigated, monitored and deradicalised.

And what about those who previously seemed to have been successfully “deradicalized” in various programs, not only in the U.K. — that is, they supplied all the “right” answers that were expected of them — but later were found to continue to be supporters of, or  even participants in, terrorism? There is not much hard evidence that “deradicalization” programs work, though extravagant claims have been made, nor is there even agreement on how to properly evaluate whether these programs work or not, as the report here makes clear.

Social services would also certainly step in to consider whether her child should be removed to protect him or her from radicalisation.

In an interview with the Times, Ms Begum, who married an IS fighter, showed little remorse for her involvement with the terror group and said she was not fazed by seeing “beheaded heads” in bins.

“I’m not the same silly little 15-year-old schoolgirl who ran away from Bethnal Green four years ago,” she said.

No, four years later, she’s not “that same silly little 15-year-old schoolgirl,” but a silly little and morally moronic 19-year-old adult who saw the Islamic State from within for four years, and apparently did not object to anything she experienced. She was not fazed by the decapitations she witnessed, nor by the heads piled high in bins. She summed up her four years with ISIS:

I don’t regret coming here.”

However, she said that after the “shock” of losing two children to illness while living in Syria, she was scared her unborn baby would also die if she stayed in the refugee camp to which she fled last month.

She said: “I’ll do anything required just to be able to come home and live quietly with my child.

Ms Begum said life in the one-time IS stronghold of Raqqa had lived up to her expectations: “The life that they show on the propaganda videos – it’s a normal life.

“Every now and then there are bombs and stuff. But other than that…”

Ah, yes, that “normal life” that “lived up to her expectations.” If it were a Yelp review, she’d give the Islamic State five stars. “Met or exceeded expectations.”

But she said she felt the IS “caliphate” was at an end.

I don’t have high hopes. They are just getting smaller and smaller,” she said. “And there is so much oppression and corruption going on that I don’t really think they deserve victory.”

So she doesn’t have “high hopes” that her beloved Islamic State can hold on: the territory it controls is “just getting smaller and smaller.” Sad. But perhaps Allah wanted it this way, for she suggests that those now ruling IS “don’t really deserve victory.” Not because they have committed thousands of murders of innocents — that doesn’t bother her — but because there is “much oppression and corruption.” By “oppression” Shamima Begum means the threats ISIS, now desperate, has to use to keep its fighters, and their families, from running away, and by “corruption” she means those ISIS members who have taken possession of property left behind by fleeing Syrians, or who have pocketed bribes by those who want to be allowed to flee the Islamic State’s territory.

Ms Begum’s family have appealed for the teenager to be shown mercy.

Her brother-in-law Mohammed Rahman, 36, told the Times: “She was so young – I don’t think she had the life experience to make those decisions.”

“I think the hope would be that she would be allowed to return home, as long as the government is satisfied she has turned her back on their ideology,” he said.

But everything Shamima Begum has said shows she is still in thrall to, and enthralled by, that ideology. Has Mr. Rahman forgotten that she has “no regrets” and found living in IS, where heads were regularly chopped off, as  perfectly “normal”? Keep that in mind: “The life they show on the propaganda videos — it’s a normal life.”

Ms Begum was one of three schoolgirls, along with Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15, from Bethnal Green Academy in east London, who left the UK for Syria in February 2015.

She escaped from Baghuz – IS’s last territory in eastern Syria – two weeks ago.

Her husband surrendered to a group of Syrian fighters as they left, and she is now one of 39,000 people in a camp in northern Syria.

Diane Foley – whose son James, an American journalist, was kidnapped and beheaded by IS seven years ago – said that the group’s supporters did not “necessarily” have to be treated as criminals and deserved a trial.”

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that she felt “very strongly that Isis continues to be a threat,” adding: “It’s very difficult to discern how much of a threat they continue to be when they want to return home. “We have to be very careful and very vigilant with any of these folks who have been involved in so many human rights atrocities.”

Diane Foley is far too generous: she apparently feels that because Shamima was “only” a supporter of ISIS, and not a fighter, she “did not necessarily have to be treated as a criminal and deserved a trial.” Here is where she differs, alas, from Sajid Javid, who believes that if you leave your country and go off to join the Islamic State, knowing full well of its atrocities, and if, further, you remain loyal to the Islamic State for four years, that is until it totally disintegrates,  and you have “no regrets” for doing so, and want to return to the U.K. only in order to guarantee the safe delivery of your baby, then you should be treated not just as a criminal, but as someone who must not be allowed back into the country you so obviously hate.

But what if Shamima “promises” to undergo a “deradicalisation” program in order to return to the U.K. “War is deceit,” claimed Muhammad, and of course Shamima Begum will say whatever she needs to, to prove that her “deradicalisation” has worked. For four years she was an enthusiastic supporter of, and accomplice to, the mass murder of Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims at the hands of Islamic State fighters like her husband. She still claims the sight of severed heads in a basket left her indifferent. She has “no regrets.” Does such a person deserve to be admitted back into the U.K.? Or to keep her citizenship?

Shamima Begum became a traitor to her own country the moment she left to join the Islamic State. She had four long years to reconsider her enthusiasm for the Islamic State, when every sort of atrocity was being committed by its fighters, including her husband. She never did. Even now she wants to be readmitted to the U.K. not because of any change of heart, but only because she is pregnant and, having lost two children to illness in the Islamic State, wants to ensure that her third child survive, thanks to the National Health Service that British Infidels fund.

Shamima Begum does not deserve to be allowed back into the U.K. under any conditions. If she were so allowed, by having agreed to a “deradicalisation” program, and then feigning a change of heart, which apparently would give her the right to be re-integrated into society, she would escape suitable punishment for her treasonous activities, in lending aid and comfort to ISIS. Had ISIS held onto its territory, she would, having “no regrets,” be living in ISIS territory still.

Instead of returning to the U.K., let her share the fate of other Islamic State women who have been captured, and are now in Syrian prisons. It’s not a pleasant ending. But why should her ending be pleasant? Why should it not be miserable?

There will be more Islamic State branches attempting in the future to seize territory. One, or a few, might temporarily succeed. And when they do, there will be other impressionable Muslims leaving Western Europe and North America to join them. Those that become disenchanted immediately, within a few weeks, might reasonably be allowed to return, right away, to face only Western justice, and a prison term of several years. But all those thinking of joining this camp of Muslim murderers, whatever name they give themselves, should be put on notice, with the example of Shamima Begum front and center, that once you choose to join the Islamic State, or any similar group, you will be stripped of your citizenship, and not be allowed to return to the country you betrayed, whatever “international law” has to say about statelessness.

If current laws are insufficient to ensure this outcome, then Western governments must pass the laws that will be sufficient, something to the effect that “Anyone who willingly leaves Country X to join any terror group, and remains with that group for a period exceeding one month, will be stripped of citizenship and not be allowed to return” to Country X.” The word “Islam” need not be mentioned; it would be understood.

What then happens to them, these now “stateless” beings, someone asks in anguish, out of a diseased sympathy. Why should we care? Those people who worry so much about the proper treatment of Muslim terrorists and their sympathizers are on the one hand. We are on the other.

On February 19 came the glad news that the Home Office in the U.K. has revoked the citizenship of Shamima Begum. Her family is “disappointed.” Sensible people, on the other hand, will be delighted, and grateful to Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, for his swift decision.

For those who may need a reminder of the moral idiocy of Shamima Begum, here are a half-dozen of her recent remarks:

1. During an interview with Sky News, Ms Begum was asked how she felt about the debate in the UK as to whether she should be allowed to come home.

She responded: “I think a lot of people should have, like, sympathy towards me for everything I’ve been through.”

2. During the same interview, she was asked if she knew about the beheadings and executions carried out by the Islamic State.

She replied: “Yeah, I knew about those things and I was okay with it. Because, you know, I started becoming religious just before I left.

“From what I heard, Islamically that is all allowed. So I was okay with it.”

3. In an interview with The Times earlier in February, Ms Begum had spoken of seeing “beheaded heads” in bins, but admitted it “did not faze her.”

4. When asked whether she had any regrets, Ms. Begum responded: “No.”

She said she had no second thoughts until the death of her son, telling Sky her second thoughts came: “Only at the end after my son died. I realised I had to get out for the sake of my children – for the sake of my daughter and my baby. Yeah.”

When she was asked if she thought she’d made a mistake, she added: “In a way, yes, but I don’t regret it because it’s changed me as a person.

“It’s made me stronger, tougher. I married my husband. I wouldn’t have found someone like him back in the UK.”

5. When speaking of having no regrets, Ms Begum spoke of how she’d had a good experience, “I had my kids. I did have a good time there, it’s just that at the end things got harder and I couldn’t take it anymore.”

When asked what it was like living with and under Islamic State, Ms Begum said: “At first it was nice, it was like how they showed it in the videos, like ‘come, make a family together.’”

“Then afterwards, things got harder, you know. When we lost Raqqa we had to keep moving and moving and moving. The situation got difficult.”

6. BBC reporter Quentin Somerville said: “Here’s your opportunity then to apologize to some of the people who were murdered by the group that you joined. Some of the kids from Manchester who were killed in the Manchester arena.”

The 19-year-old replied: “I was shocked but…

“I do feel that is wrong that innocent people did get killed. It’s one thing to kill a soldier, it’s fine, it’s self-defense.

“But to kill people like women and children just like the women and children in Baghuz who are being killed right now unjustly by the bombings – it’s a two-way thing really because women and children are being killed back in the Islamic State right now.

It’s kind of retaliation. Their justification was that it [the bombing in Manchester] was retaliation so I thought, okay, that is a fair justification.”

7. Beheading videos and the “good life they can provide you” are what attracted her to Islamic State.

When asked by a BBC reporter if it was the beheading videos that attracted her to join the Islamic State, Ms Begum said: “Not just the beheading videos, you know the videos they show of families and stuff in the park, the good life they can provide you.

“Not just the fighting videos, but the fighting videos as well.”

Yes,  I knew you would agree. Shamima Begum’s statements are unbelievable. Islam can do that.

First published in Jihad Watch here, here and here

Posted on 02/28/2019 7:22 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 27 February 2019
Identity, False and True, in the U.S.

by Michael Curtis

To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. This wholesome advice has become more significant and more difficult in our age with individuals differing and asserting those differences in age, religion, class, religion, culture, gender, sexual orientation, occupation, and residence. This is part of identity politics which results from individual acceptance of political opinions and proposals of social groups with which people identify. 

Identity politics is not new, but in the present age it is to a considerable degree replacing the politics of ideas, especially among younger people. It stems from the assumption and the reality that some groups in cases such as race, sexual orientation, civil rights, and ethnicity are oppressed, that individuals in those groups are subjected to discrimination, and therefore they can best express themselves and exercise political strength by acceptance of group identity.

Whatever the considerable advantages of adhering to identity politics, there are troubling problems. Marginalized groups may become more assertive, but by emphasizing differences, they may harm themselves. In the U.S., identity politics in largely tied to partisan politics, since Democrats are more likely to be supportive than Republicans of immigration and racial equality. Moreover, can identity politics be equated with the reality that individuals have multiple types of identities including racial, ethnic, religious, demographic, thus making a single sense of purpose and meaning more uncertain?

This instability or uncertainty of identity was illustrated in the unusual book Orlando, perhaps confessional, by Virginia Woolf that portrays instability by constant gender change: “If there are 76 different times all ticking in the mind at once, how many different people are there not …all having lodgment in one time or another in the human spirit.” 

But a major problem of reliance on identity politics if that it has been misused for personal advantage both to avoid criticism or punishment, and for obtaining benefits. This form of hoax is separate from the perennial issue, almost an occupational disease of politicians, of lying for political or personal advantage. 

I'm coming Virginia I'm coming to stay, don't hold it against me for running away. I tried to forget you but found I was wrong. This was the message of the three male musketeers of the ruling group playing their role in the travesty of politics in the Commonwealth of Virginia. All three have misremembered, forgotten, or belatedly remembered aspects of their controversial past, and perfect identity still eludes them.

The Governor of the state of Virginia, Ralph Northam, has memory problems about a photo from a medical school year book of costumes taken at a party in medical school days in1984. The photo contained two figures, one in blackface, the other in hooded KKK robes. Northam, after first acknowledging he was one of the characters in the photo, then denied he was either of them. 

Falsehoods in politics have short durations. On May 17, 2010 the New York Times published the story that Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, currently running for the Senate, had falsely claimed on a number of occasions, he had served in U.S. forces in Vietnam. In fact, he had never done so, but received at least five deferments that kept him out of the war zone. Blumenthal did later enlist in the Marine Reserve that kept him in Washington, D.C. He was elected Senator (Dem) in 2010, and said he had “misspoken,” about his military service. Moreover, he had benefitted from his inaccurate picture of his military service. In fact, in the relevant years he finished at Harvard on March 3, 2008, spent a year as a graduate at Trinity College Cambridge, and was later at Yale Law School. 

Lying of course is not confined to public officials to achieve fame or success. Rosie Ruiz, Cuban American, born in Havana, was declared the winner in the female part of Boston Marathon in 1980 but the title was quickly taken away when it was discovered she had cheated. She had not run the whole course, but only about half a mile before the finish line. Her skill came in bending the truth, not in running.

The case is more amusing of a skillful trickster, Frank Abagnale, a New York businessman, supposedly a security consultant. In fact, he was really an imposter who claimed to have assumed at least eight identities. As a result, he spent less than five years of a 12 year term in prison for fraud and forgery, before working for the FBI academy and field offices. His unique story, as fake pilot, teacher, physician, attorney, is told in the film Catch Me if You Can, starring Leonardo di Caprio.

However amusing or diverting these misdemeanors, a serious problem has risen by the abuse of identity politics to gain advantages. There recent examples will suffice. Senator Elizabeth Warren (Mass), Jussie Smollett, Chicago actor, and former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. 

Senator Warren has given contradictory accounts of her ancestry as a Native American and the real color of her skin. The crucial question is whether she deliberately lied about her supposed Native American heritage in order, on the basis of affirmative action, to get appointments at U. of Pennsylvania Law School and Harvard Law School.

A few documents show she registered at the State Bar of Texas as “American Indian.” DNA tests showed that examining ten generations back, Warren is 1/512thNative American. The Senator has apologized, after a fashion, for “not having been more sensitive about tribal citizenship and tribal sovereignty.” She is more sensitive about electoral politics and remains a presidential candidate.

A second case is that of Jussie Smollett, African-American and openly gay, star of the hit TV show Empire. Smollett told Chicago police he was beaten by two masked men in the morning of January 29, 2019, who shouted at him that this was MAGA (aka Trump) country. At first, he was believed as a crime victim of racism and homophobia, but then two brothers, the alleged assailants, confessed it was a hoax and that they were paid $3,500 by Smollett to pretend to attack him.  

Smollett was suspended by 20th Century Fox, owners of the program, from further episodes in  Empire, and he was removed from the  last scenes in which he  had performed.

What is disturbing is not simply the lying of Smollett, abusing the racial identification, presumably to get a higher salary on his TV show, but also the alacrity with which some political figures , many potential presidential candidates, and celebrities, among them Sen. Cory Booker, (Dem-NJ,) Julian Castro, Hispanic mayor of  San Antonio, Texas, and former HUD Secretary ,Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Kamala Harris, at first, supported Smollett’s version of events because of supposed “racist, homophobic” attack on him. The best comment on this ongoing case has been made by Sen. Harris, who retracted her original support of Smollett. On February 21, 2019, Harris commented that Smollett’s behavior distracted from the truth of the increase in hate crimes in the U.S., and makes it more difficult for other victims of such crimes to come forward. 

The third case is rather depressing. The former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, 88 year-old  former Archbishop of Washington, and Archbishop of Newark, was on February 15, 2019 defrocked (laicized) by Pope Francis over allegations of sexual  misconduct including while hearing confession, now ordered by the Pope to a life of prayer and penance in seclusion, expelled from the Roman Catholic priesthood, dismissal from the clerical state, after a canonical investigation. He was found guilty of sins against the Sixth commandment with sins against both minors and adults of the Catholic church. McCarrick is probably the first Cardinal to be defrocked for sexual misconduct.

To thine own self be true. Farewell, my blessed season this in thee. 

Posted on 02/27/2019 1:34 PM by Michael Curtis
Wednesday, 27 February 2019
Nine Bradford and Dewsbury men jailed for raping and sexually abusing two young girls

From the Yorkshire Evening Post Photograph from the BBC (I'll trust them with bare facts like names of defendants) 

Nine men from Bradford and Dewsbury have been jailed for a total of more than 132 years for sexually abusing two young girls. The sentences were passed at Bradford Crown Court on Wednesday, February 27 after a trial which began in January.

Basharat Khaliq, 38, of Glaisdale Court, Allerton, Bradford, was found guilty of five counts of rape and one count of assault by penetration. He was jailed for 20 years.

Saeed Akhtar, 55, of Back Girlington Road, Bradford, was found guilty of one charge of rape and two charges of causing or inciting child prostitution. He was sentenced to 20 years.

Naveed Akhtar, 43, of Newport Place, Bradford, was found guilty of two counts of rape. He was jailed for 17 years. 

Parvaze Ahmed, 36, of Farcliffe Road, Bradford, was found guilty of three charges of rape. He was sentenced to 17 years.

Izar Hussain, 32, of St Leonards Road, Bradford, was found guilty of rape. He was jailed for 16 years.

Zeeshan Ali, 32, of Durham Terrace, Bradford, was found guilty of sexual assault. He was sentenced to 18 months.

Kieran Harris, 28, of Fir Parade, Dewsbury, was found guilty of two counts of rape.

Fahim Iqbal, 28, of Quarry Road, Dewsbury, was found guilty of aiding and abetting one of Harris’s rapes. They were jailed for 17 and seven years respectively.

Mohammed Usman, 31, of Quaker Street, Bradford, was found guilty of two counts of rape. He was jailed for 17 years.

(From top left, clockwise)
Basharat Khaliq, Saeed Akhtar, Naveed Akhtar, Parvaze Ahmed, Zeeshan Ali, Fahim Iqbal, Izar Hussain, Mohammed Usman and Kieran Harris

A tenth man was found not guilty by majority verdicts.

Posted on 02/27/2019 11:22 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 27 February 2019
Dutch court rules against Muslim man who refused to shave beard for job

A Dutch court has backed the suspension of a Muslim man’s benefits over his refusal on religious grounds to shave his beard while on training for a job.

The unnamed man had been offered a job as an asbestos removal officer but was subsequently told he would need to be clean shaven in order to undergo the training course. When he refused on the basis of his religious convictions, Amersfoort city council suspended payments to both him and his wife for a month under the Participatiewet, which provides a minimum income for every legal resident in the Netherlands.

The man appealed the decision at the court of central Netherlands, where he claimed that the removal of his benefits was an infringement of article nine of the European convention on human rights which protects the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

The council argued that there was a danger of asbestos particles ending up in the man’s beard, which is harmful to his health. They added that his facial hair would also impact on the effectiveness of the respiratory mask he would need to wear.

In the summing up the judges took into account the lack of any prospect of other employment given the man’s history including time in jail, psychological problems and a gambling addiction.

“The provision offered … did not involve any internship or training, but was provided with a job guarantee”, the court said. “For the appellant, the training was therefore an excellent, concrete chance for regular work …Due to the refusal to participate in the training, the appellant did not make use of the guaranteed opportunity to gain access to the labour market. As a result, he put undue pressure on the public funds to the detriment of those who, in solidarity, bear the costs of the provisions in the Participatiewet.”

The judges ruled that the suspension of payments was “deemed necessary in the interest of the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”.

Posted on 02/27/2019 10:41 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 26 February 2019
UK to ban Hezbollah under anti-terror laws ~ approved by Parliament

From Sky News, the BBC, and the Telegraph

The UK Parliament is set to pass new rules classifying Hezbollah as a terrorist group. UK authorities say they are no longer able to distinguish between the group's military and political wings. The changes are expected to take force from Friday, after which supporting Hezbollah will be an offence carrying a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Sajid Javid said: "Hezbollah is continuing in its attempts to destabilise the fragile situation in the Middle East - and we are no longer able to distinguish between their already banned military wing and the political party. Because of this, I have taken the decision to proscribe the group in its entirety."

Even wearing or carrying something which could provoke a "reasonable suspicion" of being a member would be an offence and lead to a six-month sentence. That would mean the flag carried, or worn at the Al Quds march through London every year is banned, or display should, at last, lead to arrest. This isn't certain yet though. 

Labour has refused to rule out opposing Sajid Javid’s move to ban Hizbollah, the Iran-backed militant group. 

The ban will be put to a vote Tuesday evening in the Commons, raising the prospect that it could be opposed by Jeremy Corbyn, who once referred to members of the group as friends.

A Labour briefing document, drawn up by Diane Abbott’s shadow home affairs team last January, advised MPs not to push for Hezbollah to be banned in Britain because party leaders wanted to “encourage” it “down an effective democratic path.”

The advice by Ms Abbott’s team was drawn up in response to a backbench debate calling for a ban on Hizbollah by Joan Ryan, a Labour MP who last week quit the party to join the new Independent group and was chair of Labour’s Friends of Israel.

Al Quds day is the last Friday of Ramadan and the march through many cities is a convenient day near to that Friday. At the moment the oxymoronicly named Islamic Human Rights Commission who organise the march through London are asking supporters to vote on this year's route.  I can't see that any date has been set yet, but the last Friday in Ramadan will be Friday 31st May. They are not happy at the idea of Hezbollah being banned either. 

IHRC has strong grounds to believe that the policy change has been forced by pressure from extremist Zionist groups in the UK in their campaign to silence those who continue to support the Palestinians’ legitimate and internationally recognised right to resist occupation through armed struggle if necessary.

For several years pro-Israel lobby groups have harangued successive home secretaries and London mayors to ban demonstrators from flying the green and yellow Hizbullah flags at the annual al-Quds Day parade which takes place in London at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. 

Fingers crossed for tonight's vote, and no nonsense from Labour. 

below, senior officers of the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police ignore the Hezbullah flag at the Al Quds march of 2017. 

Update Wednesday morning from the left-leaning Independent. 


MPs have approved the government's decision to proscribe Hezbollah‘s political wing as a terrorist organisation.

Home secretary Sajid Javid said the new designation would cover the political as well as military wing of the Lebanese Shia group.

“There have long been calls to ban the whole group with the distinction between the two factions derided as smoke and mirrors,” Mr Javid said during a debate on the prevention and suppression of terrorism in the House of Commons. “Hezbollah themselves have laughed off the suggestion there is a difference. I’ve carefully considered the evidence and I’m satisfied they are one and the same with the entire organisation linked to terrorism.”

Labour drew fire for refusing to back the government’s decision, only going as far as saying it would “not be opposing the motion”.

Tory former cabinet minister Theresa Villiers intervened to ask: “Does the Labour front bench support the proscription of Hezbollah in its entirety?”

Tory ex-cabinet minister, Stephen Crabb, also criticised Labour, saying “. . . what we want to hear from the opposition tonight is they actively support this important measure we are taking”.

Labour’s Dame Louise Ellman welcomed the “much-needed measure”, but added: “I am extremely concerned [Mr Thomas-Symonds], speaking for the opposition, was unable to give proper, full support to the banning of this terrorist organisation Hezbollah in its entirety. Hezbollah are not our friends and today would have been a very good opportunity to say so.”

Posted on 02/26/2019 12:44 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Satanic Verses book burning RETURNS in Bradford 30 years later after Rushdie’s fatwa

From the Daily Express and The Times

A FURIOUS man set on fire a copy of the controversial novel The Satanic Verses in Bradford 30 years after the book burning demonstration in the Yorkshire town. When a BBC presenter returned to a public square in the city carrying a copy of the book to interview people for this week’s programme, the hardback was snatched by a man who set it on fire. A furious youth proclaimed that the TV crew had entered a “Muslim, Prophet ghetto”.

The Satanic Verses affair, when images of book-burning in Bradford evoked memories of the Nazi era, radicalised some British Muslims and made others a target for the far right, according to a documentary marking 30 years since the fatwa. The author was forced into hiding for a decade and 59 people died in protests around the world as Ayatollah Khomeini, figurehead of the Islamic revolution, issued a fatwa for blasphemy against anyone involved in the publication of the book. Left, archive photograph from that period. A Norwegian publisher was shot and a Japanese translator was murdered.

While the death threat itself was launched by late Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the BBC is now claiming Kalim Siddiqui, director of Britain’s pro-Iranian Muslim Institute, was the person demanding it in the first place, as he visited the Iran shortly before the fatwa.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, a journalist working at the New Statesman at the time the threat was issued, claimed the fatwa would have not been issued if Mr Kalim hadn’t made the trip. She said: “I knew because I interviewed both of them. Kalim was adamant till he died that he did go and he did what he did and it was the right thing to do.”

Posted on 02/26/2019 7:43 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 26 February 2019
In Uppsala, No Handshake

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Here’s the story, from last summer, but with enduring implications:

A Muslim woman in Sweden who said she was discriminated against in a job interview for refusing to shake hands on religious grounds has been awarded financial compensation by a labor court.

The woman, Farah Alhajeh, 24, was interviewing for a job as an interpreter at Semantix, a language services company, in the city of Uppsala, north of Stockholm, in May 2016, when the person conducting the interview offered to introduce her to a male boss. Ms. Alhajeh said she placed her hand on her heart as a greeting, smiled, and explained that she avoided physical contact because she was Muslim.

Not because she “was Muslim” but because she was a certain kind of Muslim, for many others do not share her view.

She was shown to the elevator.

“It was like a punch in the face,” Ms. Alhajeh, who was born in Sweden, said by telephone from her home in Uppsala on Thursday, a day after the ruling. “It was the first time someone reacted, and it was a really harsh reaction.”

A Swedish labor court agreed, ruling on Wednesday that the company had discriminated against Ms. Alhajeh, and ordering it to pay 40,000 kronor, or about $4,350, in compensation.

The case, brought by Sweden’s equality ombudsman, raised numerous thorny issues in a country already wrestling with questions of immigration and integration. Among them: whether a female Muslim employee could refuse to shake hands as a greeting in the workplace, said Martin Mork, who leads litigation at the ombudsman’s office.

Ms. Alhajeh, the labor court said in a statement, “adheres to an interpretation of Islam that prohibits handshaking with the opposite sex unless it is a close member of the family.” The court concluded that “the woman’s refusal to shake hands with people of the opposite sex is a religious manifestation that is protected under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

But the company with which Ms. Alhajeh had interviewed argued that its staff members were required to treat men and women equally, and that it could not allow a staff member to refuse handshakes based on gender.

The labor court ruled 3 to 2 on Wednesday that while the company was right to require that employees treat men and women equally, including in how they greet others, it could not require that the greeting in question involve shaking hands. What matters, they said, was consistency in how men and women were greeted.

But Ms. Alhajeh herself has admitted that there is no “consistency” in how men and women were greeted by her. She has said that in mixed company she will put her hand over her heart, but that she will shake hands with women when only women are present, while she refuses to shake hands with a man, any man, no matter what. This does not constitute “consistency.” or rather, she is consistent in her unequal treatment of men and women.

“The court struck a balance between the interest of gender equality and religious freedom in the workplace,” Mr. Mork said.

But Lars Backstrom, who represented the company in the case, said the labor court’s ruling had gone against Swedish laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace because of gender.

“The Muslim woman did not take the boss’s hand because he is a man,” Mr. Backstrom wrote in an email. “When it comes to employees who meet clients and other external people, it’s up to the employers to decide whether employees can manifest their religious or political affiliations.”

Ms. Alhajeh said that she was pleased with the decision. She said that she greeted men and women the same way in mixed company, by bringing her hand to her chest. But if she is meeting only with women, she might shake hands, she said.

“Might shake hands”? Ms. Alhajeh knows perfectly well that of course she would shake the hand of any woman when in the company only of women.

We live in a society where you have to treat women and men the same,” she said. “I know that because I am Swedish.”

But Ms. Alhajeh, that’s exactly what you don’t do. You don’t treat women and men the same. The court tied itself in knots in order to conclude that your differing treatment of men and women  should trump gender equality, despite the high value Sweden places on such equality. The court decided that in Sweden Islamic customs, as observed by you, were more important than Swedish values and customs. Three judges on the labor court were also apparently unaware that a great many Muslim women, unlike Farah Alhajeh, are perfectly willing to shake hands with men.

I have to practice my religion in a Swedish way that’s acceptable,” she added.

But she doesn’t do that.  She practices her faith exactly as she wishes, with no concessions made to Swedish customs.

This is not the first time that the issue of handshakes has drawn attention and controversy in Sweden. In 2016, a Muslim member of the Green Party withdrew his candidacy for a seat in the party’s leadership after he was publicly criticized for refusing to shake hands with women, including a television journalist who was going to interview him.

That was the only acceptable decision. if he wouldn’t shake hands with a woman, he had no business being a candidate for a leadership position in the Green Party, and no business being in Swedish politics at all, given that gender equality is one of the most important principles of Swedish society..

“I stand for equality among people,” Stefan Lofven, the prime minister, told Parliament in April 2016, according to the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. “For me, it’s the same as women and men having the same opportunities. It also means that in Sweden, we greet each other. One shakes hands with both men and women.”

What does Stefan Lofven think of the  3-2 decision that says he is flatly wrong, and that in Sweden one no longer need shake hands with both men and women? What does he think of Sweden’s future as an advanced Western society? Anything? Nothing?

Mr. Mork of the ombudsman’s office acknowledged the importance of such greetings in his country. “In Sweden, one shakes hands,” he said.

But, he said, “This is very much viewed under the lens of integration and gender equality.”

“It has become a little bit of a symbol question for how Sweden deals with its religious minorities,” he added.

“A little bit of a symbol question”? The tortuous phrasing reflects a certain confused embarrassment over the outcome. It’s not a question of symbols. It’s a question of who is to be master, that’s all. The Swedish people in Sweden or others, who may be citizens but have shown themselves  unwilling to accept Swedish ways, such as shaking hands with people of both sexes. That practice is not just a symbol, but a long-established custom that reinforces the notion of gender equality. It is reasonable to ask all those who benefit from the laws of the well-ordered Swedish state and the customs of an advanced Swedish society, to observe those laws and customs.

“The question of balancing local custom with religious freedom has also been playing out in other countries recently. In 2016, the authorities in the Swiss canton of Basel-Landschaft ruled that two Syrian boys who studied at a public school in the town of Therwil could not refuse to shake their teacher’s hand on religious grounds. Shaking a teacher’s hand before and after class is part of Switzerland’s social fabric, and the canton authorities said that parents whose children refused to obey the tradition could be fined up to 5,000 Swiss francs, or about $5,020.

The Swiss, more hard-headed than the Swedes and more attached to their folkways, were not about to allow  those who had been given generous refuge in their country to refuse to honor a Swiss custom, one that was always deemed to be an important part of the teacher-pupil relationship. For the Swiss, the handshake between teacher and pupil both before and after class was a sign  both of solidarity and respect. If two Muslim boys refused to shake a female teacher’s hand, that reflected the lower standing of women in Islam, and was not to be tolerated.

“On the other hand, a school in Sydney, Australia, caused an uproar last year by adopting a policy allowing Muslim schoolboys to refuse to shake hands with women, as long as they instead placed a hand across their chest.

This places rules of some — not all — Muslims above those of Australian society. This clearly endorses a view of women as inferior, instead of requiring that everyone in Australia observe the rules of gender equality. If Muslims enjoy the great privilege of being allowed into Australia in the first place, especially considering the kind of places they likely came from, they  ought to be willing to observe those rules of gender equality.  This is the unwritten bargain immigrants have struck with their host country. Apparently the school authorities, in their diseased sympathy for The Other, and hellbent for “diversity,” did not agree. A nation-wide policy on the shaking of hands needs to be put in place, with the force of law. Australia ought to emulate steadfast Switzerland or, even better, France:

And this year, France’s top administrative court ruled that an Algerian woman’s refusal to shake hands with male officials at a French naturalization ceremony was sufficient grounds for denying her citizenship.

To that decision, which shows the French in their take-no-prisoners mode, one can only say “Attaboy.”

Meanwhile, I’d like to end on a lighter, less Islamic note. A Sicilian fisherman of my acquaintance, now living in America, told me once that in 45 years as a fisherman, he never had to sign a contract. All of his agreements were based, he said, only on a “shakanza.” I looked puzzled. He took my hand and shook it. “Shakanza,” he said. “Una shakanza.”

First published in Jihad Watch here and here.

Posted on 02/26/2019 6:50 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Tommy Robinson removed from Facebook

Since blogging with the links to Panodrama this morning Tommy Robinson has been removed from Facebook. The link to Panodrama I gave no longer works. This is not unexpected. I don't use Instagram but his account there has also been removed. 

So far the video remains on You Tube. Enough people have downloaded copies and will upload as and when necessary that I doubt the authorities can make it disappear altogether. 

The left-leaning Guardian newspaper says

In a statement, Tom Watson, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said: “I welcome Facebook’s decision to remove Tommy Robinson pages under their “Organised Hate” policy. But for far too long this violent thug’s hate-spewing, anti-Islamist tirades were given a platform by Facebook. Today’s decision comes far too late..."

As I am hearing figures of over 1 million views so far on just one platform I'd say it is too late. Cat, bag, out. 

Posted on 02/26/2019 6:39 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Tommy Robinson ~ Panodrama ~ complete programme

Tommy Robinson's Panodrama, exposing the attempts by BBC TV political and investigative programme to 'take him down' is now available to view in comfort at this Facebook video here. 
Update, Tuesday lunchtime (in England). Tommy has been removed fro Facebook, therefore that link will not work. The You Tube videos are still operational. 

Or embedded into You tube below

It is being shared as widely as possible in case it is removed from some places. Hence this second copy on another channel.

John Sweeney has form for plying young women and men with alcohol. But the then head of the BBC said the resulting Panorama documentary about North Korea justified putting student lives at risk "This is an important piece of public interest journalism."

Posted on 02/26/2019 3:38 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 25 February 2019
At the University of Northern Iowa, It’s Time for Islam 101

by Hugh Fitzgerald

“Muslim students to discuss hijab, jihad during ‘Islam 101,’” by Amie Steffen, The Courier, November 12, 2018:

To someone who isn’t Muslim, or doesn’t know anyone who practices Islam, the concept of “jihad” may sound bad.

To Muslims, “jihad” isn’t negative at all. But despite more Muslims joining the Cedar Valley [sic] each year, the disconnect between Islamic and non-Islamic communities persists.

We can guess exactly how “Jihad” will be presented to a non-Muslim audience at the lecture called Islam 101. Attention will be focused on the spurious hadith in which Muhammad, returning home from fighting, is said to have exclaimed that he was returning from the “lesser” Jihad of combat to the “greater” Jihad of personal moral struggle. Muslim apologists love to quote these words attributed to Muhammad, but they never tell us it’s based on a very questionable hadith, with a weak chain of narration (isnad).

Nadir Khan believes a lack of education is the issue, and his group has come up with a solution.

Islam 101, organized by the Muslim Students Association of the University of Northern Iowa, will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday [November 14] at the Mocker Union Ballroom on UNI’s campus.

The lecture will feature two speakers: Dem Kazkaz, a Syrian-American activist and president of the Masjid Al Noor Islamic Center in Waterloo; and Miriam Amer, a Lebanese-American activist and founder of the Iowa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“The community is getting bigger,” Khan, president of the 25-member MSA, said. “Due to the political climate, and seeing all that is happening, this helps to bridge the gap between groups.”

Topics discussed will include the actual meaning of jihad, the importance of the hijab, fasting during Ramadan, what Islam teaches about humanity and the shared brotherhood between Christianity and Islam.

The “actual meaning of Jihad” to be conveyed will of course not be that which is accepted both by Jihadis around the world, and by mainstream Muslims, too. Nor will it be that presented by thousands of Qur’anic scholars and commentators. For Jihadis, mainstream Muslims, and Qur’anic commentators, Jihad means warfare against the Infidels, until they are killed, or converted, or they accept the permanent status of dhimmis, subject to a host of onerous conditions, including payment of the Jizyah. The “actual meaning of Jihad” the Muslim speakers will offer will be that of a “personal moral struggle,” based on that single weak hadith in which Muhammad returns home from the battlefield, declaring that he has returned from the “lesser” to the “greater” jihad of domestic life.

The “importance of the hijab” presentation will discuss the function of cover — from the simple hijab, a kerchief or foulard that covers only the hair, to the full covering provided by the chador (in Iran), the burka (in Afghanistan), and the niqab (in Saudi Arabia), where a woman is totally covered save for a cloth grill over her face (with the burka), or eye-slits (with the niqab). These types of cover will be discussed as the  means to prevent Muslim men from being unduly aroused, by hiding the wearer’s physical beauty. These various covers will be presented, unsurprisingly, not as being anywhere imposed on women by men, but as freely chosen by Muslim women.

As for the fasting during Ramadan, there is no need to misrepresent it. Ramadan is simply a way for Muslims to demonstrate, by observing a month of strict day-time fasting, the strength of their commitment to the faith.

In discussing  “what Islam teaches about humanity,” the Muslims delivering the Islam 101 talk will pass over in silence the Qur’anic division of all mankind into Believers and Unbelievers, Muslims and non-Muslims. According to Qur’an 3:110, Muslims are “the best of peoples,” while Qur’an 98:6 calls non-Muslims “the most vile of creatures.” That is the most significant “teaching about humanity” to be found in Islam.

The discussion of “the shared brotherhood between Christianity and Islam” will of course require that many more Qur’anic verses be ignored. The verses that command Muslims “not to take Christians or Jews as friends, for they are friends only with each other” (5:51)  paints quite a different picture of the so-called “shared brotherhood” between Christianity and Islam; indeed, it undermines the idea completely. So do 3:110 and 98:6, with  their stark distinction between Muslims, called “the best of peoples,” and non-Muslims, called “the most vile of creatures.” A  “shared brotherhood” could only be achieved by ignoring important verses in the Qur’an. How likely is it that devout Muslims would do that?

And where do we see, in real life, this “shared brotherhood”? In the endless attacks on Christian churches and worshippers in Pakistan? In the death sentence, and eight years of prison, endured by Asia Bibi? In the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian Minister for Minorities, who dared to attack the blasphemy law that was used to condemn Asia Bibi? Is that “shared brotherhood” displayed in the hundreds of thousands of Pakistani Muslims who came out on the streets, after Bibi’s acquittal, to bay for her blood? Do we see that “brotherhood” of Christians and Muslims in the attacks, even in supposedly “moderate” Indonesia, on Christians, including the decapitation of Christian schoolgirls? Is this “brotherhood” visible in Saudi Arabia, where Saudis are forbidden to practice Christianity, and where even the foreign Christians are forbidden to worship publicly, and must do so only behind closed doors? Bibles, crucifixes, and other Christian symbols are prohibited; Christian clergy are forbidden entry to the country. Even the most innocuous of activities are punished. A group of Korean nurses, softly singing Christmas carols in their own rooms, behind closed doors, were overheard by the religious police, and were promptly expelled from the country.

Is the “shared brotherhood” of Christians and Muslims to be found in Iraq, where the Christian population has gone from 1.5 million in 2003 to 250,000 today, a country where, the Anglican Canon Andrew White now says, “Christianity is dead”? Why did the Christians leave Iraq? Once Saddam Hussein, who had been their protector, was overthrown, Muslims of both sects — Sunni and Shi’a — promptly began to attack at will the now unprotected Christians. Or is that “shared brotherhood” to be found in Lebanon, where the Maronite community has been in steady decline ever since the Lebanese Civil War, during which it defended itself mainly against  the Sunni Muslims, and now finds its major foe to be the Shi’a Muslims of Hezbollah? In Egypt, where is that “shared brotherhood” when Muslims attack Coptic Christians, bomb their churches, riddle with machine-gun fire buses in which Copts are traveling to and from pilgrimage sites? Where, in any of these countries, have Muslims turned out en masse — or even turned out at all — to protest the mistreatment of local Christians by local Muslims? The answer is: nowhere. Nowhere can this “shared brotherhood” of Christians and Muslims be found.

Islam 101 comes on the heels of last semester’s interfaith panel, “A Rabbi, A Pastor and An Imam: Stronger Together,” which Khan said brought out around 300 people to discuss the similarities and differences between Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

This Interfaith propaganda will inevitably include many of the following points:

First, that Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are the “three great monotheisms.” Nothing will be said about how Muslims regard many Christians as  guilty of shirk, or polytheism, because of the doctrine of the Trinity.

Second, that Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are the “three great abrahamic faiths.” Just how significantly Islam’s version of the story of Abraham differs from that of the other two “abrahamic faiths” will not be addressed.

Third, that Muslims revere Jesus “as a great prophet.” There will be no mention of the denial, in Islam, of His divinity.

Fourth, that Mary, too, is revered in Islam, that Sura 19  is named after her, and that “Mary” (“Mariam”) is mentioned more frequently in the Qur’an — 70 times — than in the New Testament. But the Muslim apologists are unlikely to admit that she is only a righteous woman, neither a prophet nor the mother of the Son of God.

As for “fasting during Ramadan,” that will be accurately described as a month-long fast, during the day, that offers Muslims a way to demonstrate the strength of their commitment to the faith.

“I think it [Islam 101, two one-hour lectures by two Muslims] will be a great opportunity for those who don’t know much about Islam or don’t personally know Muslims,” Khan said.

Food will be catered from nearby Mirch Masala Grill, and a question-and-answer period will follow each speaker. For those who want to test their newfound knowledge, the Center for Multicultural Education will have trivia directly following the lecture.

An evening of sanitized Islam, carefully prepared by Muslims well-versed in the arts of taqiyya and tu-quoque, And accompanied by that essential come-on and emollient — free food.

That food, representing one or more Muslim cuisines, is a sine qua non of these Open Mosque Nights and Ask-A-Muslim Anything events. Sometimes it’s a sampling of many Muslim cuisines. In this case, the food provided by the “Masala Grill” is apparently is to be that of South Asian cuisine. Hungry students — are attracted to these events by the promise of exotic free food. The food also puts them in a receptive, cheerful mood, more likely to accept what they are told by their kind hosts.

The little game of “trivia” that ends the evening, “for those [visitors]who want to test their newfound knowledge,” will provide them with the illusion that they have learned a great deal. It’s not hard to guess what kinds of questions will be asked, nor the right “answers” that will be supplied to them by their Muslim hosts.

Here are 22 questions that come immediately to mind, with the answers likely to be given:

1. What are the Five Pillars of Islam?

Shahada, Salat, Sawm, Zakat, Hajj.

2. What is “Sawm”?

The obligatory fasting, including the month-long daytime fasting during Ramadan.

3. What is the “Shahada”?

The Profession of Faith: “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.”

4. What does someone have to do to become a Muslim?

Recite the Shahada, ideally in the presence of a Muslim witness. Nothing else is needed. Muslims do not want to make it hard for others to join them. That would be unfair.

5. How often, and in what manner, are Muslims required to pray?

Prayer, or “Salat,” refers to the five daily prayers, when Muslims repeatedly prostrate themselves. The first prayer begins before sunrise and the last one after sundown, at night. Worshippers are required to first perform ablutions, to ensure the cleanliness, especially of their hands and arms. The worshiper starts from a standing position, facing Mecca, bows three times, then prostrates himself, still facing Mecca, and ends in a sitting position. During each posture he recites or reads certain verses, phrases, and prayers. He then repeats this series, but now beginning from a sitting position,

6. How important is Mary to Muslims?

Mary, or Mariam, is held in great esteem by Muslims. She has an entire sura named after her. Another sign of her importance in Islam is that she is mentioned more often — 70 times — in the Qur’an, than in the New Testament.

7. What do Muslims think of Jesus?

They revere Jesus as a prophet. Jesus is the greatest prophet next to Muhammad.

8. How many Muslims are there in the world?

Between 1.6 and 1.8 billion people are Muslims.

9. How long have Muslims been in this country?

Muslims have been part of America’s history since the very beginning. Several Muslims are said to have accompanied Columbus on his voyages. It is estimated that one-third of the slaves brought to the New World from Africa were Muslims. As former President Obama said, “Muslims have always been a part of America’s story.”

10. What did Thomas Jefferson think of Islam?

Jefferson bought a Qur’an to read and study, which surely signifies his interest in, and respect for, the faith. Jefferson also gave the first Iftar dinner at the White House, for Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, an envoy from the bey of Tunis.

11. Who is required to make the Hajj, and how often?

All adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable are required to make the Hajj at least once in their lifetime.

12. What does the word “Islam” mean?

“Islam” means “submission” or “surrender” to the will of Allah. It is related to the word “salaam” which means “peace.”

13. When did Muhammad live?

From 570 to 632 A.D. And within a century of his death, the faith of Islam proved so attractive that it has spread from Arabia throughout the Middle East, and across North Africa, and into Spain, and even France. No other religion has spread so far so fast.

14. What is the world’s fastest-growing religion?

Islam. By far. It’s truly heartening to find so many people converting to our faith all over the world.

15. How many Muslims are there now in the United States?

About 3.5 million. As people look beyond the media scare stories and decide to find out about the real Islam for themselves, there are more converts every day.

16. How do Muslims traditionally greet one another?

By saying “salaam aleikum” — “Peace be with you.” The reply to which is: “Wa aleikum salaam” — “And peace be with you.” Peace is  very important  in Islam.

17. Who should pay the “zakat”?

The “zakat” is the obligatory charitable giving required of all Muslims.

18. What do “haram” and “halal” mean?

“Haram” refers to what is “forbidden” to Muslims, such as the eating of pork, alcohol, gambling.

“Halal” refers to what is permissible or lawful in traditional Islamic law. It is frequently applied to permissible food and drinks.

19. What do Muslims believe about freedom of religion?

Muslims learn from the Qur’an that “there is no compulsion in religion.” (2:256).

20. Why is Jerusalem — which Muslims call Al-Quds (“the noble place”) — the third holiest city in Islam?

It was from Jerusalem that Muhammad ascended to the heavens on his winged steed Al-Buraq. In one evening, the angel Gabriel took the Prophet, from the Sacred Mosque in Mecca to the Furthest Mosque (Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa) in Jerusalem. He was then taken up to the heavens, from the spot where the Dome of the Rock was built, to be shown the signs of God. After the Prophet met with previous prophets and led them in prayer, he was then taken back to Mecca. So Jerusalem is very significant in Islam. It’s a city holy to three faiths, but right now the Jews have full control. We think it should be shared.

21. Where is killing condemned in the Qur’an?

Killing is condemned quite clearly in Qur’an 5:32, which says that “If any one slew a person… it would be as if he slew a whole people; and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of a whole people…” That is unequivocal condemnation..

22. What is the Ka’aba?

The Ka’aba is the sacred structure, covered with a black cloth (kiswah), that sits in the middle of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, and inside of which rests the Black Stone. Pilgrims performing the Hajj walk around the Ka’aba counterclockwise seven times. Muslims everywhere in the world turn toward the Ka’aba, while reciting their five daily prayers. It is the holiest site in Islam.

You can see just how much of significance has been carefully avoided in this test. None of the questions are going to be about the 109 verses in the Qur’an commanding Muslims to engage in violent Jihad, or about the verses telling Muslims to “strike terror” in the hearts of the Infidels. Nothing asked about the many antisemitic verses in the Qur’an, or about the verse condemning homosexuality. There will be nothing about Muhammad’s taking part in the killing of the 600-900 bound prisoners of the Banu Qurayza, or his ordering the torture and killing of Kinana of Khaybar, or his pleased reaction to learning that Asma bint Marwan, Abu ‘Afak, and Ka’f Bin Al-Ashraf had been killed by his followers. Nothing, of course, about his consummation of his marriage to Aisha when she was nine years old and he was fifty-four. Nothing about Muhammad’s insistence, in the Hadith of Al-Bukhari, that “war is deceit” and his claim that “I have been made victorious through terror.” Nothing about the misogyny in Islam, including the fact that a daughter normally inherits only half that of a son, and that a woman’s testimony being worth only half that of a man. Muhammad claimed in a hadith that such a rule is explained “by the deficiency of her [woman’s] intelligence.” Nothing about the Muslim husband being allowed to wed up to four wives, and to divorce any of them merely by uttering the triple-talaq. Nothing about a husband’s right to “beat” a disobedient wife (4:34).

Islam 101 will undoubtedly leave out much about Islam that is of real significance, and present much of what it does include in a highly misleading fashion. See, e.g., the questions, and the answers to them, about when Muslims came to the New World, about Thomas Jefferson and Islam, about freedom of religion in Islam, about the attitude in the Qur’an toward killing.

Don’t despair. This particular Islam 101 consisted only of two one-hour lectures by two Muslims. It could have been worse. It could have been a weekend-long course. Or worst of all, it could have been a required course, part of some new college-wide Diversity Training. It may come to that, in universities all over this great land. But it hasn’t yet. Just keep thinking about the food. Whatever else goes on at these events, there is always the free food. Masala Grill. What could be better?

First published in Jihad Watch here, here and here

Posted on 02/25/2019 4:48 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 24 February 2019
James Stevens Curl wins 2019 Arthur Ross Award for Excellence


James Stevens Curl (photo by Lara Platman)


Congratulations to James Stevens Curl, a frequent contributor to New English Review, and author of Making Dystopia: The Strange Rise and Survival of Architectural Barbarism. He has won The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art's 2019 Arthur Ross Award for Excellence in the Classical Tradition for History and Writing.

From the ICAA website:

HISTORY & WRITING | Professor James Stevens Curl, United Kingdom

Professor James Stevens Curl is a leading British architectural historian, and read for his Doctorate at University College London. He was twice Visiting Fellow at Peterhouse, University of Cambridge, and is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, a Fellow of the Societies of Antiquaries of London and of Scotland, and a Fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland. His many publications include studies of Classical, Georgian, and Victorian architecture, the Egyptian Revival, the City of London’s Plantation in Ulster, Kensal Green Cemetery, London’s Spas, Wells, and Pleasure-Gardens, and Freemasonry & the Enlightenment.

His Oxford Dictionary of Architecture was published by Oxford University Press in 2015, and hailed as ‘the finest in existence’, deserving of the ‘highest praise’. His most recent book, Making Dystopia: The Strange Rise and Survival of Architectural Barbarism, published by Oxford University Press in 2018, is a passionate and deeply researched critique of why towns today look and are so unpleasant.

Professor James Stevens Curl lives in Holywood, County Down, in Northern Ireland, where he contributes regular reviews and articles to refereed journals and gives well-received public lectures.

Posted on 02/24/2019 11:37 AM by New English Review
Sunday, 24 February 2019
A Compelling and Compassionate Book about Epilepsy

by Theodore Dalrymple

Electroconvulsive therapy, the deliberate induction of an epileptic fit in severely depressed patients, had—and perhaps still has—a very bad public reputation. To give the brain an electric shock without any real underlying theory as to why it might work seems brutal; after all, we don’t take our car to the garage when it is working imperfectly and expect the mechanics to give it a good kicking in the hope that the vibrations set up by their boots might rattle the components into good working order. And how infinitely more subtle, more delicate, than the workings of the internal combustion engine are those of the brain!

When I was a young doctor, however, I witnessed something that caused me to doubt whether the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest view of electroconvulsive therapy, then more or less the orthodoxy among bien pensant intellectuals, was quite adequate. The 1962 Ken Kesey novel and 1975 movie famously depicted it as simply a punitive measure taken against the insubordinate and rebellious.

Admitted to a medical ward in the hospital in which I worked was a patient so depressed that she was stuperose (unresponsive to others and neither eating nor talking). Shortly afterwards, she had two internally-generated epileptic fits in quick succession. They had a transformative effect upon her. She began to talk normally, to eat, and even to laugh. There was even the possibility that, with another fit or two, she might become dangerously euphoric.

Epilepsy—the disorderly electrical discharge of neurons in the brain—is a protean disease whose manifestations are so various, and sometimes so subtle, that they are easily mistaken for something else: plain bad behavior, for example. Suzanne O’Sullivan, author of Brainstorm: Detective Stories from the World of Neurology, is a London neurologist who specializes in epilepsy, and who in this captivating book recounts the stories of some of the patients (I nearly wrote cases, but that would be dehumanizing) whom she has treated.

Although epileptic attacks are usually intermittent and sometimes infrequent, they often exert a profound influence on the lives of sufferers out of all proportion to their duration. Dr. O’Sullivan brings this home to the reader very well; no one who reads this book will ever fail again to sympathize with sufferers from this mysterious condition.

Advances in the Field

Epilepsy is really a symptom rather than a disease in itself. It can be caused by a vast array of underlying causes, and its manifestations depend on what part of the brain is primarily affected. Of course, enormous strides have been made in the neurosciences, particularly in the last two or three decades, so that the causes can be pinpointed with ever-greater accuracy; but treatment so far has not improved at the same pace. There are more medications than ever available, and in some cases surgery offers a cure by excision of the epileptic focus. But medications have side-effects, sometimes worse than the condition that they treat, and can in any case fail despite being piled one on top of the other. Surgery is at best uncertain of success, and it too (unsurprisingly) can cause severe harm.

Dr. O’Sullivan is laudibly frank about this. For the moment, many of the advances offer more hope for the future than benefit in the present, though patients are nevertheless grateful for the efforts made on their behalf and are reassured by the explanation that can now be given of their fits. The act of explanation is therapeutic in itself but tragedy remains.

In one of the stories, a young epileptic man, a student, dies aged 20 in his bed in his student accommodation, for reasons that will never be fully elucidated. Unexplained death occurs in about one in 1,000 epileptics per year, which means that over the course of 20 years there is considerable risk of such death. The story is so well told that, at least a brief moment, we enter into the grief of the parents.

Epilepsy or Incivility?

The stories the author recounts provoke reflection. For example the epileptic fits of one of her patients consist of unpredictable and sudden outbursts of swearing and spitting at people without any provocation. They do not last long and the patient does not remember them, but it is not difficult to imagine the social difficulties to which they lead. One can only imagine with a slight sense of guilt how one might react to such a person on a bus, say, or at a meeting. Almost certainly, it would be with anger or disgust and the assumption that the person was reprehensible, and moreover that his conduct was just another example of the incivility of our times to which we have become wearily accustomed.

Our default position, as it were, is that of the English common law: namely that every person is responsible for his conduct unless there is proof otherwise; and since one cannot be expected to know a person’s full medical history before reacting to his conduct, one’s first reaction is to blame. Perhaps Dr. O’Sullivan’s book will make her readers a fraction less likely to jump to censorious conclusions.

Whether this would be a good thing or not is another question. Only a very tiny proportion of antisocial behavior is caused by epilepsy, but the medicalization of bad behavior can only increase its frequency by providing it with an excuse in advance. I must have “treated” (if that is quite the word for it) hundreds of men who presented their tendency to be violent to their girlfriends as if they were suffering from some kind of epileptic condition beyond their control, requiring medical treatment in the absence of which they had license to continue. It was an exculpatory explanation of their own conduct that, oddly enough, their girlfriends often accepted. Responsibility is the greatest burden mankind bears, though it is also its glory.

Scientific But Not Scientistic

I am glad to say that Dr. O’Sullivan does not go in for neurological imperialism akin to the psychiatric imperialism that some psychiatrists, particularly psychoanalysts, used to indulge in. Because one man’s swearing and spitting are caused by epilepsy does not mean that all swearing and spitting are epileptic, even if it sometimes requires sophisticated investigation and judgment to discern in which cases epilepsy is behind these acts. The author’s outlook is scientific but not scientistic; epilepsy is a technical problem, but life itself is not.

Occasionally, her style leaves something to be desired; your reviewer was brought up short by the phrase “overly cruel,” for example, which suggests that there is a proper level of cruelty to aim at. Presumably she meant “very cruel.” But this a cavil. A passage at the very end of the book is worth reproducing:

There are still gaping holes in our knowledge about the brain. Even the basic questions remain unanswered. We still don’t know why we sleep or the purpose of dreams. We don’t know how the brain creates intelligence. Or consciousness. Or how free will is created . . . For my part, I am not even certain that I want every single question answered. If we knew everything about how the brain functioned, what would we be then? Just sophisticated computers? Machines that could be programmed?

I do not think she need worry. Behind knowledge more mystery always arises, and it is in the tension between the two—knowledge and mystery—that much of the joy of human existence lies.  

First published in the Library of Law and Liberty.

Posted on 02/24/2019 7:29 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
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