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"We admire the development of the peace movement around the world in the last few years. We pray to God to empower all those working against war." - Saddam Hussein, February 2003

Saturday, December 21, 2002  

PC intolerance darkens another Christmas and weakens the national spirit

THE RED CROSS has now banned Christmas decorations including nativity scenes from its fund-raising shops around the UK through fear that it will offend Muslims. This sort of nonsense irritates me so much, not only because there is no case for such a change, but because even if there were, it is only that someone, somewhere might be offended. If this principle were applied consistently instead of solely to particular groups, half of the programmes on television would be banned and respect given to all those institutions and individuals to whom respect came naturally two generations ago.

Why should any religious person honestly be offended by the genuine expression of another faith? Why, if I went into a Red Cross shop and saw Ramadan merchandise on sale, should I take offence? Why should people be shielded from any evidence that other faiths exist? What possible good does it do? How does it increase tolerance? All it does is further ghettoise and exclude religious groupings, making "tolerance" not an acceptance of the traditions and viewpoints of others, but an intolerance of those of anyone else - and a demand that their expression be suppressed and banned.

Every time people in the West feel guilty about celebrating Christmas publicly or about some other part of our culture, we fall further into the trap Osama Bin Laden believes the West has set itself. In our democratic uncertainties, in our diversity, in our debate and differences, Al-Qaida sees weakness and moral vacuousness. It is not even strongly conservative believers in good and evil that they despise - and fear - so much as the perception that Western liberty deprives people of any moral compass, leaving us unable to defend ourselves or believe in ourselves any more. That is what they mean when they call the United States the Great Satan: "a giant without a conscience" as Peter Kreeft has put it. We are not harming anyone by celebrating the birth of Jesus, but we do great harm by pretending we do not, and by coming to believe we should be ashamed to do so.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 13:11 | Permanent Link |

Friday, December 20, 2002  

Trent Lott resigns as Senate Majority Leader

FAR TOO LATE, but thank goodness he's finally seen sense. Now let's hope this resignation proves how strongly Republicans value a society of equality under the law and equal opportunities for all.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 18:16 | Permanent Link |

Real life's effects on blogging

I STARTED A NEW JOB today, which will continue until 3 January. Basically a customer service assistant, the money is rather good. The downside is that I won't have as much time to blog as before, but I will try to make a few posts each day.

On the upside is the fact that I am working in a railway station, giving me some first-hand insight into transport, a policy area about which I know little, and on which I don't think I've made a single post on this site. I'll be adding what thoughts I can to Patrick Crozier's TransportBlog. My first post - on one notably positive consequence of rail privatisation - is up there now.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:32 | Permanent Link |

Thursday, December 19, 2002  

President Blair the Democrats' best shot

AS THE BATTLE for the Democratic nomination in 2004 begins, Thomas Friedman examines the chief characteristics necessary to defeat George W. Bush. He concludes that Tony Blair, possessing all of them, would be perfect.

Right now there is only one Democrat who could live up to all these rules: the British prime minister, Tony Blair. Maybe the Democrats should give him a green card. He's tough on national security, he has an alternative global vision, people like him and he is a beautiful, reassuring speaker. He's Bill Clinton without baggage. I'd say he's a natural.

Well, maybe. But fortunately for America, Blair was neither born in the United States nor a citizen of the country in 1789, so it would be constitutionally impossible for him to get the job anyway. I suspect this bit was just tagged on the end to get more Brits to read a column about American politics. Besides, we all know Blair's ambition is not to be Chief Executive Officer of the United States, but to be President of Europe.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 05:22 | Permanent Link |

Wednesday, December 18, 2002  

Wasn't cosying up to Syria your idea, Jonathan?

IT BEING THE SECOND GUARDIAN COLUMN in as many months that seems contrary to all the left has said in praise of the United Nations' moral authority, Jonathan Freedland's piece condemning Blair's cosying up to vicious Syria instead of reformist Iran provoked me to send him an email. The first column - by Gary Younge - got a fisking. This second resulted in this:

Dear Mr Freedland,

While I found your column today as insightful and thoughtful as is usual, I must say I thought the attitude of parts of it was distinctly rich coming from a political wing that had been so strongly supportive of the UN route in diplomatic relations.

President Bush was pushed into following the UN route to war, along with - and perhaps by - Tony Blair. He went to compromise with Russia and China, meaning negotiations involving granting each further moral authority in suppressing their dissidents - many of those in China heroic democratic campaigners. Bush and Blair even managed to get Syria on board, now rewarding its leader in the way you deplore.

But the only reason any of this compromise and appeasement of the unpleasant figures in question occurred was the insistence of people on the Left that a war with Iraq could only be justified with UN support. Those who elevated the United Nations to the moral level of an unelected world government that could decide whether countries went to war treated it as some great credit to the Atlantic Alliance that we managed to get Syria to vote our way. However much they may have backtracked since, until the actual vote was taken, the Left seemed to accord almost divine moral authority to the UN.

Now many of us took the view all along that if a war is unnecessary and unjust, then it would remain so however the United Nations may vote. Equally, if a war is just and necessary, the UN's perception would not change that. We didn't much care what the United Nations thought, hive of kleptocrats, Islamofascists and anti-Semites that it is.

Now it may be that you took this view as well, sneering contemptuously at the UN, not giving two hoots either way how they voted. But I'm guessing from what I remember of your general perspective that you did favour the UN approach. In which case you got what you wanted. Britain and the US went to the United Nations and cosied up to the most gruesome leaders on earth because "unilateralism" was supposedly inherently more moral than two countries acting alone. We conceded to unpleasant demands and we are now in the process of rewarding unpleasant dictators. None of this would have been necessary had we just ignored the United Nations and denied the assertions that it had special moral authority. By refusing to bow to the decisions of such a tainted camp, we could have avoided being so nice to Chinese and Syrian dictators and so had greater moral authority ourselves in fighting Iraq. Instead, we listened to the Left and worked through the United Nations. Why complain about the result without condemning the left's baseless reverence for the UN? For it was this reverence which led directly to Assad's state visit and tea with the Queen this week.

Best wishes,

Peter Cuthbertson.

I'll let you know if I get a reply.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 06:31 | Permanent Link |

Tuesday, December 17, 2002  

BBCdian elite show its sickly colours again

THANKS TO STEPHEN POLLARD for another astonishing piece. The hooligan who admitted to demolishing a new statue of Baroness Thatcher had now tried to plead that his act was justified as he was expressing his right to political speech. The idiots on the jury failed to reach a verdict. If he gets away with this, what on earth is going to prevent destruction of all sorts of private property on these grounds? What would prevent a disgruntled Conservative whacking his head off with a cricket bat in order to express their right to political speech?

As if that weren't bad enough, in the meantime the vandal has found a new employment agent: Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger. Leaving, the court, he told journalists: "I need a job, so if anyone watching has one for me can they get in touch with me via the editor of the Guardian". Unbelievably, the anti-advertising Guardianite BBC, which treats the Daily Mail editor as semi-criminal for revealing Cherie Blair's crooked goings on, played this segment of the recording in full. As the report finished, BBC news anchor Emily Maitlis commented, "If you know of a job for him, you know what to do".

And if you care at all about such a monstrous injustice, you also know what to do. Ensure that the Guardian editor gets so many bogus job offers for this thug that he will give up trying to uncover the real ones. Email him now.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 22:50 | Permanent Link |

Go soon, and be an example for those who would, by their stupidity, arm the enemy

IN THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, Mark Steyn echoes the point made by Mona Charen on Friday with his customary flair. Trent Lott isn't a racist, but in praising the segregationist 1948 platform of Strom Thurmond, he made far too big a mistake to remain in office.

Now maybe that's not what he meant. He was speaking, after all, at some old coot's 100th birthday party. Most 100th birthday parties take place in nursing homes and, if you drop in, you generally find a lot of people standing around the old boy with inane grins, talking very loudly and very slowly and agreeing with everything he says. Maybe that's all Lott was doing, given the unique circumstances of a guy entering his second century as a sitting senator.

But there were cameras present; there was a microphone. Successful politicians are supposed to have a built-in blocking mechanism in such circumstances ...

If the Republicans are going to make a 51-49 Senate work for them, they'll need discipline. When the man who's supposed to enforce that discipline is so undisciplined himself, he needs to go.

In reference to the Democratic Party, which most strongly opposed judgement based on content of character rather than colour of skin, and continues that opposition, Steyn is cutting and right.

For the best part of two centuries, the Democrats have been the party of race: In the 19th century, they were for slavery; in the 20th, for segregation; in the 21st, for the neo-segregation of ''affirmative action,'' ''hate crimes'' and all the other paraphernalia of the modish trickle-down apartheid determined to make racial categorization a permanent feature of the American landscape. In fairness to the Dems, this evolution represents a significant century-on-century improvement: There's no reason to believe that one day, come the 24th or 25th century, they won't have reached the position that American citizens should be treated as freeborn individuals, rather than as chorus members of their respective identity-group kicklines. That's what the Republican Party stands for: Condi Rice is an effective, black, female National Security Adviser but she holds that position not because of her blackness or her femaleness but her effectiveness; she's better than the white males who were up for the job.

... For a century and a half, race is one issue the Republicans have been right on - or, at the very minimum, less wrong... Segregation is the Democrats' history, and for Trent Lott to give them an excuse to dump it on the GOP doorstep is all the reason Republicans needed to be done with him once and for all.

He has already waited too long to go, but go he must. The longer he holds on, the worse it will be for him and his party.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 21:54 | Permanent Link |

British troops preparing for war


Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 19:20 | Permanent Link |

No one has a right to terrorise without being tortured

QUITE PROPERLY, Adam Nicholson writes approvingly of America's decision to permit assassinations of those engaged in acts of war against the United States. As he notes, "Shooting a murderer before he shoots you is clearly a legitimate act". But when it comes to saving lives through pain rather than assassination, he goes all soft.

Torture, he says, "runs against the most deeply held Western ideas of what is good and allowable". Well, obviously. That's why it is illegal, like planting bombs in shopping centres and flying passenger jets into skyscrapers. But the whole point about fighting terrorists and permitting their killing by the armed forces and security services is that we apply a different standard to the actions of government than to ordinary citizens, and that we put a lower value on terrorist than on innocent lives. What is wrong with applying that same principle to torture? In this country, if a known IRA terrorist were caught running from a scene where he appeared to have planted a bomb, getting the information that would allow lives to be saved should be the absolute priority. It is absurd to suggest that the right to life of dozens of women and children should be jeopardised by the supposed "human rights" of the terrorist not to be tortured. Given the choice between a few cuts of the knife and blows of the hammer between some IRA thug's legs, and a group of innocent people being blown to pieces, there is only one ethical choice. Thank goodness America sees this in relation to her war with Al-Qaida. We should not shrink from applying the same principles ourselves.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 15:49 | Permanent Link |

Monday, December 16, 2002  

Diseased children of diseased morals

SAT COMFORTABLY? Good. New statistics reveal that one in seven girls in this country under the age of sixteen is now infected with the sexually transmitted disease chlmydia. I won't repeat what I've said already about value-free, clinical, "don't be good, be careful" sex education, as I don't think its leading supporters are under the misconception that it works. I think their motives are far more political and callous. But I can say with absolute certainty that 99% of the girls in question will know exactly how to use various contraceptives. The reason they don't on the whole seem to bother is the same as the reason they mate like animals in the first place: no one hopes for or demands anything better from them than that they conform to the most base instincts for instant gratification, whatever the morality of their actions and whatever the consequences. The reinfection rate of 28% over the six months after treatment is testament enough to that.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:01 | Permanent Link |

New Labour: pro-markets, indifferent to equality, anti-civil liberties

IN A LESS THAN ORIGINAL piece in the Guardian, Roy Hattersley again attacks New Labour for its lack of vigour or motivation in applying its principles. Interestingly, he identifies three key tenets of the brand of socialism he favoured, all of them apparently now abandoned.

I spent years of my life arguing about which was more important - the extension of public enterprise into unregulated markets, the active promotion of greater equality or the protection of civil liberties. I never imagined that one day a Labour leader would renounce belief in all three.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 05:26 | Permanent Link |

More good news for the Democrats

AL GORE HAS decided not to run against George W. Bush in 2004. Let's face it folks - he was never going to be elected President of the United States. By standing next time he could have secured Bush's second term. Still, it should be interesting to see Daschle, Kerry, Liebermann et al fight it out now. The only one I'd say is worth his salt is Joseph Liebermann, and if he won the nomination, at least a fundamentally decent man would be President after 2004 however the election went. But I really think Bush's place is secure until his second term ends in January 2009, whoever the Democrats might stand against him. I can only imagine how many people are annoyed by that prospect. It makes it all the sweeter.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 05:11 | Permanent Link |
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