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Why 'Christian Hate?'? An introduction to the blog

Places Christians shouldn't go A quick tour of Christian Hate?'s case against Christian Aid

Christians and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Read all my posts on this topic

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The BBC and the taboo against asking an obvious question

The Office of National Statistics has recorded a continued fall in the number of unexplained infant deaths - 2007's figure is 7% down on the previous year. Good news indeed.

Still a lot of deaths, though - five every week in England and Wales. What do we know about them? The BBC quotes some answers that took me aback:-

'The majority of deaths were among babies of a normal birthweight - 2,500 grammes or 5.5lbs and above, and occurred between 28 days and one year of age.

'At a rate of 1.42 per 1,000 live births, the rate among unmarried mothers registering the birth alone was eight times that of babies born within marriage.

'For births inside and outside marriage - and where the baby was registered by both parents - the death rate among parents in the routine and manual occupations was twice that among those classified as managerial or professional.

'Age was also a factor: rates were highest in mothers under 20, and fell the older she became.

'There were also regional variations: the North East had the highest rate, at 0.66 per 1,000 births, and the East of England the lowest, at 0.32 per 1,000.'

Let's have one of those stats again: 'the rate among unmarried mothers registering the birth alone was eight times that of babies born within marriage'. Eight times! What on earth can that be about?

The ONS doesn't do explanations. Here's all you'll get from the Beeb-

'There is now suggestion that bacteria may have a role in sudden infant death, although the precise nature of any such relationship is unclear.'

Well, they must be exceptionally unenlightened bacteria. I hope none of them is planning a career with the BBC.

PS The ONS bulletin is here. In it I discover another differential that has been excised by the Beeb from the quote above:-

'During the period 2003–07, the unexplained infant death rate in boys was over 1.3 times
the rate in girls.'

Clearly too scandalous to be mentioned.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Blood Libel updated

One of the more disturbing recent instances of anti-Semitism of the Left is a Swedish newspaper article accusing Israeli soldiers of 'harvesting' organs from Palestinians. This is not from an obscure neo-Nazi rag: it's Sweden's top-circulation paper, Social Democratic in its politics and 50.1% owned by the country's trade union confederation. Details are at Engage, and if you want to read the article the Google translator doesn't mangle it excessively. Harry's Place also has some worthwhile thoughts.

You'll be convinced if you're disposed to take seriously every piece of paranoid hearsay circulating in the Occupied Territories and to believe the worst about Jews - oops, I mean Zionists, of course. If, that is, you're a not untypical member of the Guardian-reading, Fairtrade coffee-drinking classes for whom Sweden is the closest thing to Nirvana.

Challenged to provide hard evidence, the writer has backed off. But the paper's editor seems to feel no urge to publish a retraction. On the contrary. Following high-level protests from Israel, he's chosen instead to play the freedom of speech card. And since he is not an anti-Semite, there is no need even to discuss the charge that he has published something anti-Semitic. It's not anti-Semitic, you see, to feel that Israel doesn't and shouldn't have a good name to lose. So all those Fairtrade coffee-drinkers are in the clear.

That may sound terribly bitter. But based on my own experience of Fairtrade coffee-drinkers (of whom, by the way, I am one) at prayer, I don't think it's overstating the case. I'm forcibly reminded of what I wrote here about the resurrection of another mediaeval prejudice. The following, directed against an activist of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, could just as well be applied to Donald Boström and the editor of Aftonbladet:

'I've mapped out a No Man's Land bounded on the one side by a world in which real dead chickens are fished out of a real village well, and extremism and hatred provoke real people on both sides of a bitter conflict into committing real evil deeds, but bounded on the other side by the ravings of pure racist paranoia. In this wilderness our Accompanier and many others like him seem to have no fence to stop them from drifting towards the wrong side, and they show all too little awareness of the need to build one.'

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Esther Rantzen and the Elders

The Telegraph had an article last week by Esther Rantzen on the harrowing case of Baby Peter. No comment on the article itself other than to say that a strong stomach is required.

Ms Rantzen is one of those people you either love or hate. The latter is perhaps an understandable reaction to memories of 'That's Life'. Less understandable is the view that her work with vulnerable children is informed by the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. But for some people the name alone tells a story...

'I would argue that Esther does not give a rats noddy about endangered children, as she works for the tribe that blatantly commits the most heinous crimes on the planet'

So wrote a commenter signing himself 'Noble Lord' at 11:24 AM on Wednesday. And more in the same vein. Just over an hour later I reported the comment to the Telegraph, pointing out that it was anti-Semitic and asking that it be removed.

Result as of today's date: zilch.

Now I would hazard a guess that Noble Lord is on terms of some familiarity with his local mental health services. I wonder which noble lord he supposes himself to be. The Duke of Edinburgh, perhaps? The Marquis of Bath? Lord Lawson of Blaby?

Nevertheless, those of us who have studied history know that sometimes the lunatics can take over the asylum. So it behoves a reputable newspaper not to make things easier for them. The Telegraph wouldn't dream of commissioning an article propounding these views, so why does it tolerate them in a comment - for which it is in principle just as responsible as for the output of its star columnists?

Monday, August 03, 2009

Be your own Nazi

Along with one or two other folk I've been much exercised by the topic of assisted suicide of late. Though not a Catholic (yet?) I've found Catholic voices consistently the sanest ones. This from Dominic Lawson is a cracking piece. This blog post from Gerald Warner comes with a comment from me to which the title of the present post relates.

The case of the 23-year-old left paralyzed by a rugby accident seems to me to pose the issues particularly starkly. If I were in his position I'm sure I would be traumatized and depressed. These are treatable conditions. Quadriplegia is not, but neither does it have to be a bar to a richly meaningful life. That was true even in the absence of all the opportunities opened up by modern technology.

There's not much dignity in needing someone else to wipe your bum for the rest of your life, it's true, but when did the human condition ever come with a guarantee of dignity?

I have no window into the souls of the young man's parents, and accordingly pass no judgements. Nevertheless, this must be said: if, in those circumstances, I decided my life wasn't worth living, I hope I'd discover that at least one person loved me enough to tell me I was wrong. And keep telling me until I took notice.

The way we were, the way we are

I’m bound to say that, as a general rule, my idea of a large afternoon would be to keep as far away from a village school-treat as possible. A sticky business. But with such grave issues toward, if you know what I mean, I sank my prejudices on this occasion and rolled up. I found the proceedings about as scaly as I had expected. It was a warm day, and the hall grounds were a dense, practically liquid mass of peasantry. Kids seethed to and fro. One of them, a small girl of sorts, grabbed my hand and hung on to it as I clove my way through the jam to where the Mothers’ Sack Race was to finish. We hadn’t been introduced, but she seemed to think I would do as well as anyone else to talk to about the rag-doll she had just won in the Lucky Dip, and she rather spread herself on the topic.

‘I’m going to call it Gertrude,’ she said. ‘And I shall undress it every night and put it to bed, and wake it up in the morning and dress it, and put it to bed at night, and wake it up next morning and dress it –‘

I cut the pestilential infant off in mid-flow. The situation which had developed was, I realised, one to be viewed with the gravest concern and alarm. Visions of Bertram languishing in durance vile swam before my eyes.

‘Now look here, young lady’, I said, extricating myself from her grip and fixing a basilisk-like gaze upon her, ‘Are you aware that firstly you have no business wandering around unaccompanied by a carer, teacher or other responsible adult, secondly I haven’t got police clearance for contact with children, let alone conversations about naked dolls, and thirdly any form of physical contact between you and self is totally inappropriate? Don’t they teach you anything about Stranger Danger at this beastly school of yours? I suppose the next thing will be that you’ll want me to take your picture, forsooth! Kindly make yourself scarce before you get me arrested.’

[Even the most imperishable classics may need updating to make them appropriate to changed and more enlightened cultural contexts. Here Mr Grumpy (inspired partly by this) gives the Master a helping hand in The Inimitable Jeeves.]