Latest posts on Christian Aid

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, October 12, 2011

Those sectarian tensions in full

Following clashes between Christians protesting about the burning of a church (not such a very big deal surely - if it had been we'd have reported it) and the army, 25 people are dead. Not much we can tell you about who killed who, but we may be able to give you more details once the army have carried out their independent investigation. The Christians claim they were attacked, but they would say that, wouldn't they? Let's face it, there are usually faults on both sides when you get these sectarian tensions.

Thus, in substance, the BBC on Egypt's latest Bloody Sunday. The BBC can do better than this when it wants to. Where the Copts are concerned it apparently doesn't want to - and consistently hasn't wanted to in the face of all the outrages they have suffered over the last few years. Why not?

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Anti-Zionism at the Proms: the Big Lie

Did you know that Max Bruch's Violin Concerto is a fiendishly cunning piece of Zionist propaganda? That anyone listening to it live is at severe risk of going home convinced that you can't do better than be beastly to Palestinians?

You'd better believe it, since to doubt this is to doubt that there was any justification whatsoever for the disruption of Thursday night's Prom by Palestine Solidarity Campaign protesters.

There are the usual objections to these people's perceptions and priorities to be made. One may strongly suspect, for example, that the Khartoum Philharmonic Orchestra, if such a thing exists, could have performed at the Albert Hall every summer for the past 30 years without moving them to take action. The state which has occupied Tibet since 1959 sends its circus on tour round Britain without fear of disruption.

But there is more. Let us allow, for the sake of argument, that Israel is indeed the Most Evil State On Earth. What is then to be said about disrupting a violin concerto as a means of protest?

It is asserted that the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is a tool of the Zionist propaganda machine. that (in the PSC's words) it shows "complicity in whitewashing Israel's persistent violations of international law and human rights".

Now please follow me closely at this point. The PSC is right to this extent: having an orchestra good enough to play at the Proms does indeed make Israel look better than it otherwise would. but the reason why this is the case is that the existence of such an orchestra is in fact a good thing, and being a good thing makes the country it belongs to really a better country than it would otherwise be. It is therefore not propaganda.

The man who tells you that a beautiful piece of orchestral music is a lie has not only failed to understand what beauty is. He has failed to understand what truth is. He is a philistine and, being a philistine, a liar too. If he is not conscious of lying, that is because he has drunk so deeply from the well of politics that he no longer recognises the distinction between a lie and a politically unhelpful truth. He has decided that there are so many bad things about Israel that it must not be permitted for there to be any good things about it. The IPO is a bad thing because it is a good thing.

The principle applies without exception - to the Berlin Philharmonic under Hitler, to the Leningrad Philharmonic under Stalin. I need hardly say that propaganda was integral to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. They shared a need to convince their citizens and the outside world of things which were not true. But the orchestras made music which was really and not just propagandistically beautiful and, I repeat, that was a good thing.

Of course I am not suggesting that the arts cannot be instrumentalised and manipulated by oppressive regimes (or indeed by comparatively benign ones). They can be given propagandist content - but come on... Bruch's Violin Concerto? They can also be used to try to establish "innocence by association". But the remedy for that is simply for the audience to decline to be manipulated. It really isn't difficult. In my time I've been to concerts given by Soviet, Iranian and Sudanese musicians. In each case I enjoyed the music, but did I come away with an enhanced regard for the regimes of those countries? What kind of fool do you take me for?

"The kind of fool who would go to the IPO Prom" must evidently be the PSC protesters' reply. So make that not just philistinism and dishonesty but arrogance as well. Ludicrous arrogance, given the demographic characteristics of your average Proms audience, and the audience's reaction on Thursday night suggests that the point was not lost on them. "We must control what music you are allowed hear because otherwise we cannot trust you to think the right thoughts about it": the thought is the one which invariably underlies totalitarinism, and anyone thinking it is unfit to be trusted with a seat on a Parish Council.

So much for the moral status of the protest. There remains the related but separate question of what crime protesters of this sort ought to be charged with. And specifically whether whatever it is should be considered as "racially aggravated". We have been here before, and the outcome was a depressing own goal.

I find Sheriff James Scott's remarks irritatingly bumptious in tone but he has surely judged rightly. I hope the doomed attempt at establishimg "racial aggravation" will not be played out again in a court in London and end up giving the PSC further cause for celebration.

The sustained campaign to portray the state created by Jews as uniquely oppressive and murderous is (since this portrayal is false) is racist in its effect and, whilst it is not necessarily racist in its motivation, almost inevitably leads to a blurring of the line between non-racist and racist motives and reasonings. But the attempt to pin a "racist" label on a single act of protest against the actions of a state is futile.

Imagine that there was a well-organised and vocal campaign to hold the People's Republic of China to account for its occupation of Tibet and oppression of the Tibetan people. Who knows, perhaps one day some members of the PSC will start one. Would we really want to see its supporters in the dock, facing charges of anti-Chinese racism on the grounds that they had unfairly singled the Chinese state out for criticism?

The "racial aggravation" charge here makes as much of an ass of the law as the proposition that, when a drunken oaf lurches towards a football manager with the alleged intention of assaulting him, the gravity of his offence should hinge on the question whether he called the target of his ire a "Fenian bastard" or merely a "f***ing w***er" (since apparently, in the eyes of Scotland's once highly regarded legal system, the latter lacks the potential to render the offence one "aggravated by religious prejudice").

I would respectfully urge Jews who believe good can come of recourse to such illiberal legislation to think it possible they may be mistaken. It forfeits the moral high ground and is pragmatically counter-productive to boot. It alienates those with a healthy distrust of restrictions on free speech. It closes down all possibility of dialogue with anti-Zionists who are genuinely innocent of racial motivation. As for the hope that some successful prosecutions will shame the hard Left into applying the canons of political correctness consistently, it is a vain one. When did they ever feel the need to be consistent? The clue is in the fisrt word of that phrase "political correctness".

No, let the Prom protesters' guilt be "aggravated" not by racism but by philistinism, barbarism, preening totalitarian arrogance and, last but not least, blasphemy against the God who has made beauty true and truth beautiful.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Reorganisation time

I've been bothered for some time about the mismatch between this blog's title and url on the one hand, and the contents of most of my recent posting on the other. That's why (as the politicians say) I've decided to create a new blog for all posts not strictly related to this one's original theme. It'll be at

"Christian Hate?" was about taking the charity Christian Aid to task for indirectly promoting hatred of Jews through its demonisation of Israel. Regular readers will hopefully appreciate that it's not about encouraging Christians to hate Muslims, the Guardian or even the Archbishop of Canterbury. However, a casual visitor might, on seeing the title, get the wrong end of the stick and jump to the conclusion that I'm Anders Behring Breivik's sock puppet. On the Web first impressions are everything.

I blog about what I feel strongly about and of late that hasn't included Christian Aid, not least because becoming a Catholic has meant that I no longer have any corporate connection with it. I'm proud of what I've written about Christian Aid, I stand by nearly all of it, and I'm not saying I'll never re-enter the fray in the future. With that in mind, rather than change this blog's title I'm taking my other wares elsewhere.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bishops and the riots

I can't make up my mind. What has been the most helpful reaction to this week's events from the Church of England?

On the one hand, there's this from the Archbishop of Canterbury:-

(hat tip: Damian Thompson)

On the other hand there's this from the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, who is not merely Bishop of Southwark but Bishop for Urban Life and Faith:-

"The images of violence and destruction on our screens do not represent the strong, hopeful and vibrant communities I know so well. I want to appeal to those responsible for the disturbances to stop.

"Today, as many in our Diocese count the cost of the disturbances, I am deeply saddened to see the images of destruction in familiar places. I will in the days ahead visit those communities that have been at the centre of trouble and I continue to promise my support for, and solidarity with, all who seek to build positive and constructive engagement.

"The Christian message is one of hope, love and peace and I know that the churches of Southwark Diocese stand ready to play their part in bringing healing and hope to the places they serve. I am asking them to offer special prayers for the healing and peace of our cities when they gather for worship this Sunday and week by week, remembering especially those who have been personally affected and have lost homes and livelihoods.

"Southwark Cathedral, along with many other churches in the Diocese, remains open as a place of prayer and reflection."

Much as he knows and loves those strong, hopeful and vibrant communities, they'll have to wait a day or two for that positive and constructive engagement, then...
This is an institution which, at its higher levels, can hardly be bothered any more to even pretend it is relevant. Dr Chessun, one assumes, is well aware that out on those vibrant streets right now "I'm your local bishop" means less than nothing. Rowan Williams occupies the highest post next to the Queen in the Established Church: it is a civic role, not just a spiritual one. He has at length spoken - on Day Five. Not to the nation, but to the House of Lords. As usual, he sounds as if he was delivering an academic paper.
I don't want to be scoring sectarian points here, and goodness knows there are some wishy washy Catholic bishops, but in this company Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, sounds like Jeremiah. I would have liked him to offer explicit support to the police. But, where most of the Bishop of Southwark's statement sounds as if he was reacting to a natural disaster, Archbishop Nichols speaks plainly of wrongdoing and its consequences, in language which stands some chance of touching the hearts of those in the thick of it - anxious parents, kids tempted to go along with their mates. His appeal for prayer is, of course, one that should be heeded.
If good can come out of this mess it will be through the application of some very tough love at all levels of society. There are many in the Church of England crying out for leadership. A country with good reasons for cynicism about the worlds of politics and media desperately needs a lead from its Established Church. But the Church's leadership is not fit for purpose.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Libya: Mr Grumpy in "over-optimism" shock

Back in March I wrote a post on Libya in which I suggested six possible outcomes of Western military intervention, five of which were likely to be worse than the outcome of leaving Gaddafi to get on with it. It was a pessimistic piece - but not pessimistic enough. I covered the scenario where the rebels are at each others' throats as soon as they have toppled Gaddafi, also the one where the rebellion helps Islamists into power, and also the danger of a prolonged stand-off between government and rebel forces. What I failed to suggest was that a blend of all three scenarios would see Islamist rebels begin disposing of their non-Islamist rivals long before there is any sign of Gaddafi deciding he has a plane to catch.

It's an absolute fiasco, rendered perfect by the fact that General Younes was murdered just two days after the UK recognised the rebels as the government of Libya. So was that the turncoat Gaddafist General Younes we thought we were recognising - doh! - or was it the doughty champions of freedom and democracy in the Obaida Ibn Jarrah Brigade? The truth is that we haven't a clue.

One consequence of this farce is very clear. We might send a plane or two to Syria once we're very sure we know who's going to win, but that will be it. We condemn, we sympathize, we pray, but we keep out. Call it humanitarian non-intervention. It will require us to have strong stomachs, but it's the way it has to be.

Or am I, even now, underestimating the obdurate sentimentality and vanity of the politicians who think it is their mission to jolly well make the rest of the world behave itself?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Goose and gander: a somethingveryspecificist strikes

This should not be a day for point-scoring, but inevitably the point-scoring is in full swing. And I really was pulled up short when I realised what my last post had been.

For today neither the BBC nor anyone else in the left-liberal universe has the slightest difficulty in naming the beliefs held by a man who has slaughtered 90 innocent victims.

Even though there is, as I write, no evidence that any other person - let alone an organisation - sharing those beliefs helped or encouraged him to commit mass murder. Even though his action seems utterly irrational even considered as a means to the ends which are assumed to have motivated it. Even though the outrage would appear at this point to have at least as much in common with the classic spree killing as with the kind of organized religio-political mass murder campaign with which we are familiar.

So there's an absolutely blatant double standard here. Branding everyone in Norway or anywhere else who is worried about Muslim immigration as a potential mass murderer is out of order unless it's OK to do the same to Muslims every time an Islamist bomb goes off. So far from doing that, the BBC fights shy of even applying the label "Islamist" to terrorists, for fear of implicating Islam as such. No such fear of implying guilt by association is restraining it today, though:-

'The BBC's Richard Galpin, near the island which is currently cordoned off by police, says that Norway has had problems with neo-Nazi groups in the past but the assumption was that such groups had been largely eliminated and did not pose a significant threat.'

Once again: this is before we have a shred of evidence that any group was involved.

We ought to be getting some consistency and it ought to be a consistent moderate Somethingveryspecificism rather than any variety of Nothinginparticularism. By all means let's put the far Right under the spotlight, though without imputing bogus guilt by association: it remains true that the EDL hasn't organised any spree killings and Geert Wilders hasn't planted any bombs. But let's also insist that the BBC must boldly go into the journalistic no-go area it has created around the relationship of terrorism to Islamism and Islamism to Islam. Not because we should want to demonise Muslims but because when lives are at stake we need and are entitled to understand what the problem is.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Extreme varieties of nothinginparticularism

Edwin Greenwood notes that, whilst British media types have complied meekly with Indian officialdom's belated two-fingered gesture towards the Raj of turning Bombay into Mumbai, the locals are less enthusiastic.

I feel sure that they are also less reticent than the BBC about naming the cause which has claimed a further 18 lives in the city. I was originally going to link the previous sentence to this item. But now, on reading the Beeb's account of the latest Bombay bloodbath, I find that it makes my point just as well. Just as the estimable young Jordanian is tackling "extremism" with his computer games, so we have speculation as to whether the blasts were the work of "home-grown militant outfits like the Indian Mujahideen (IM)", or, as in 2008, of "Pakistani-based militants".

Extremism has to be an extreme form of something. You can't be a militant without something to be militant about. Pardon me for repeating myself, but it's one thing (and bad enough) for government to adopt this mealy-mouthedness as a matter of policy; for the organization we pay willy-nilly to bring us the news to follow suit is unconscionable.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Understatement of the month

From the findings of the investigation into the American Catholic TV presenter Fr John Corapi by his religious order:-

“Holds legal title to over $1 million in real estate, numerous luxury vehicles, motorcycles, an ATV, a boat dock and several motor boats, which is a serious violation of his promise of poverty as a perpetually professed member of this society.”

101 Uses for Other People's Money

No. 53: set up a website that nobody ever visits.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Headline of the week

Virgin warns infected customers

And courts risk of being sued under the Trades Descriptions Act?

Sorry, couldn't resist it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Raising awareness of the stakeholders in the room

John Rentoul reaches out to us to share his concerns and issues around clichés. What's not to like? Though I do hope I won't be named and shamed. And I fear Mr Rentoul himself may be teetering on the edge with his opening "I have an article". Pots, kettles.

I must admit I haven't yet come across "toilet" as a verb. Is it transitive or intransitive?

(Hat tip - is that on the list, or already old hat? - to Fr Tim)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Have I got this right?

'This is not helped by a quiet resurgence of the seductive language of "deserving" and "undeserving" poor, nor by the steady pressure to increase what look like punitive responses to alleged abuses of the system.'

- Ed Miliband

'those at the top and the bottom who were not showing responsibility and were shirking their duty to each other [...] some of those on benefits who were abusing the system because they could work - but didn't.

'Labour - a party founded by hard-working people for hard-working people - was seen by some, however unfairly, as the party of those ripping off our society.'

- The Archbshop of Canterbury

No, wait...

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


Warning: this post contains tasteless schadenfreude*.

OK, I know the new E. coli outbreak is no laughing matter. But you would need a heart of stone not to crease up at the news that, after initially fingering organic cucumbers, the German authorities are now closing in on an organic bean sprout farm. Yes, this is an epidemic tailor made for culling health food junkies. I mean, what normal human being, on being told that their next meal is going to be their last one, would order bean sprouts?

And, as one who has himself patronised German health food shops in his time (Frau G made me do it), I strongly suspect, despite the Beeb's reservations, that we already have the solution to the mystery of the sexist bug.

The German government should urgently consider launching a health campaign aimed at middle-class women in their thirties, to encourage them to switch to healthier options such as beer and sausages.

*Foootnote: since like so many bloggers I dream of breaking into the big time in the manner of Oliver Kamm, I follow the rules of the hack's profession and take care to use this word, or its synonym realpolitik, when writing anything about Germany. For the benefit of those who didn't get an edukayshun, it means "I am cultured and cosmopolitan, a veritable Renaissance man". On the other hand, I am emphatically not going to mention the Nazis. Oh, bother, I just did.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Londoners, don't vote for Ken! (reason no. 953)

Very much a last minute job, this. Blame moving house, changing my religion etc. Plus I really thought that someone in the MSM would have a long enough memory to pick up on this one. In fact someone had done, only three years ago and thus before Colonel Gaddafi declared war on the Libyan people. It's a much. much more pertinent story today, so here it is for the record.

Once upon a time there was an exceptionally repellent totalitarian sect called the Workers Revolutionary Party. Being not only exceptionally repellent but also unusually well-funded, it was able to put out a daily paper, the Newsline. Party members were expected to devote 25 hours a day to selling this product. On a good day they would come across somebody prepared to part with money for it.

In the early Eighties it evidently dawned on the WRP that the Newsline was not reaching the masses, so they decided to try to broaden their influence by launching a "Labour" paper. And so the Labour Herald was born, a classic front organization. As well as having "Labour" in its name, it was to be fronted by a Labour editor - and no less a figure than the Leader of the Greater London Council was waiting in the wings.

Here's a sample of the paper's content. Anti-Semitic? I'm sure Ken would no more think so now than he did then.

And now I'll let Keith Dovkants of the Eve Stennit tell the rest of the story:-

'The paper was printed by a firm based in Runcorn, Cheshire, which also printed News Line and publications sponsored by the Libyan government.

'When Private Eye ran a piece claiming Ken Livingstone, then leader of the GLC, was editing a paper financed by the Libyans he successfully sued for libel. It has to be remembered that at that time Gaddafi was encouraging the assassination of his political opponents abroad and wiping them out at home. In 1984 his thugs fired on demonstrators outside the Libyan embassy in St James's Square, killing WPC Yvonne Fletcher.

'Although no one doubts Gaddafi was subsidising News Line and Labour Herald there is absolutely no evidence Ken knew about it. But he did support the WRP when it published an extraordinary anti-Jewish rant in News Line.

'On 20 March 1983, BBC2 ran an investigation on its Money Programme. Its central thesis was that the WRP's newspaper, Ken's Labour Herald and other publications were being funded by Gaddafi. Looking at the transcript today one sees a thorough, rather measured, piece of journalism. The response was quite different.

'Under the heading The Zionist Connection, News Line published an editorial denouncing the Money Programme's investigation. It blamed a "powerful Zionist connection" that ran through the Labour Left, Mrs Thatcher's government, to the BBC. It cited the placing of Stuart Young, a director of the Jewish Chronicle, as chairman of the corporation and the appointment of his brother, David Young, to head the Manpower Services Commission. The Jewish Chronicle, the editorial noted, gave "support and advance publicity" to the Money Programme.

'On the day of its hysterical editorial News Line ran a piece in which Ken suggested the Money Programme report was indeed the work of Zionists. In the same piece he blamed "smears" against him on agents working for Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin's government.'

So when confronted with the facts Ken preferred to endorse the WRP's theory that the Money Programme was in the grip of a Zionist conspiracy (we all know how much Zionists like their money, don't we?) rather than acknowledge that he had unwittingly taken a bloodstained tyrant's money.

Has Ken ever retracted this position? His Wikipedia entry passes over this strand of his career in silence. It wouldn't be the only case where "Sorry" has been the hardest word for him. Employing Lee Jasper still isn't a cause for regret, it seems. Sorry, but Ken's not fit to be Mayor.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Christians rejoice?

I was going to start this post by observing that I do not expect to read a more inane reaction to the killing of Osama bin Laden than Cristina Odone's attempt to construct a (im-)moral equivalence between Americans celebrating the demise of the bearded one and the "Arab street" rejoicing over 9/11. That, however, was before Rowan Williams's PR man George Pitcher popped up singing from the same hymnbook*. My cup runneth over, and I think it is Mr Pitcher who must be awarded the palm, if only for his inspired use of the term "rednecks".

Well, George Pitcher is in the deepest and truest sense not my problem any more. As for Cristina Odone, however, I am emboldened to suggest that after less than a fortnight as a Catholic I already have a better grasp of Catholic moral theology than she has.

It is right to celebrate the success of a just endeavour and wrong to celebrate the success of an unjust endeavour. As simple as that. And when I say "right" I don't mean just "permissible". We ought to be thankful that Osama has been put out of the way of masterminding the taking of innocent lives, thankful to those whose professionalism, doggedness and courage has brought about this end. Why, Ms Odone, should anyone risk their neck for the sake of your freedom if the most you can manage when they triumph is a "yes, Osama bin Laden’s death is a good thing" from between gritted teeth?

But surely, you may now be saying, our Cristina has the Vatican on her side? Thus Fr Federico Lombardi:-

“Osama bin Laden – as we all know – was gravely responsible for promoting division and hatred between peoples, causing the end of countless innocent lives, and of exploiting religions to this end.

“Faced with the death of a man, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibility of each and every one of us before God and before man, and hopes and commits himself so that no event be an opportunity for further growth of hatred, but for peace.”

And quite right, too. Note, for one thing, the first of these two sentences, and see if you can find its equivalent in either GP's or CO's posts; compare the forthright attribution of guilt with George Pitcher's portrayal of Osama as a man denied a fair trial. Note also the absence of direct condemnation of anyone other than Osama himself, and again compare and contrast. Note next that the Vatican can never forget the exigencies of diplomacy when it chooses its words. Fr Lombardi will have been keenly aware that there are Christians in Pakistan.

And note above all a crucial distinction. It is the termination of the man's evil deeds which is just cause for rejoicing, not the termination of his life. However just, the fighting of a war is a poor substitute for the repentance of the aggressor. That's a distinction which, I dare say, many patriotic Americans are failing to draw today, but the faux pacifist liberals sitting in judgment over them in North London aren't doing any better. Two sides of the same coin, in fact.

*That will, of course, be the one from which which the inappropriately militaristic "Onward Christian soldiers" has been expunged in favour of "Onward Christian pilgrims".

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Men are a waste of space, and the BBC has the stats to prove it

Two BBC stories from the same day, unconnected but offering an instructive contrast.

From the first:- 'Almost 100 women are killed by partners or ex-partners each year, figures show. 'And 21 men died from domestic abuse in England and Wales last year.'

Now, though the mention of male victims may strike you as something of an afterthought, I say the author deserves considerable credit for thinking of them at all. There's a lot of ideological capital invested in the perception of domestic violence as Exhibit A in the case against the patriarchy, and far too much media coverage has endorsed this view by presenting it without qualification as a male-on-female crime.

So three cheers for a Beeb reporter who has acknowledged that more than one case in six adds up to too many exceptions to the rule to be brushed under the carpet. Nevertheless the rule does get stated. The gender/sex breakdown is there to remind us, just in case we had any doubt, that most victims are female and most perpetrators male.

Now compare what we find in another story from the same day:-

'Since operations began in Afghanistan in 2001, 363 UK servicemen and women have died.'

The double plural actually makes this sentence misleading. For, as is revealed by following a couple of links, the gender/sex breakdown here is in fact 362 to 1. To make the comparison crystal clear, if we surveyed 363 domestic abuse fatalities we would expect to find over 60 male victims.

So a breakdown is de rigueur when it suggests that murdering your partner is very much a man thing, but to be avoided where it might give the impression that getting killed for your country is even more of a man thing. I'm sure there's no deliberate indoctrination going on here. That happened a long way up the line. At this point it's just the working out of an unconscious worldview, the fruits of the coming true of Gramsci's dream of cultural hegemony. I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that both pieces were written by men.

No definitive evidence for a correlation between gender and nitpicking blogging was available at the time of going to press.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Libya: a just war?

William Oddie, an eminent precursor on the road to Rome, argues that the air strikes on Libya meet the Catholic church's five criteria for a just war. He writes persuasively, but I find that the argument falls short.

One point, not the most important: in his enthusiasm for smart weapons which can take out tanks with a minimum of risk to civilians, Dr Oddie seems to forget that the youing men inside the tank get taken out too. True, they are combatants, and true, they may have much civilian blood on their hands, but it is still not permissible to dismiss their lives as of no account.

The more crucial point arises from the unpacking of the notion that the intervention is all about "protecting civilians". For we are not doing that in any direct way, by building bomb shelters for them or evacuating them. We are taking out tanks, and whilst tanks are useful for massacring civilians they are by no means essential. So if we are protecting civilians it is by the indirect means of enabling the rebels to beat back Gaddafi's forces. And since that is the case I think it is absurd to suggest, as Dr Oddie does, that we can bracket out any concerns about the outcome of the conflict.

Here's one outcome: we decide at some point that we have done enough bombing, whereupon the tide immediately turns in Gaddafi's favour. What's to stop him carrying through all the massacres he had planned in the first place, plus a few extra since the bombing will have given him and his supporters many more scores to settle?

Outcome two: when we stop bombing we leave a standoff which will be resolved, if at all, only after an indeterminate period of civil war. What are the chances that this will further the protection of civilians?

Outcome three: we enable the rebels to overthrow Gaddafi and form a government. But Gaddafi's supporters now turn insurgent. Iraq all over again. Same question as in outcome two.

Outcome four: the rebels manage to utterly defeat Gaddafi and his forces (though miraculously without killing large numbers of his civilian supporters). However, because the rebels are a hopelessly disparate bunch containing everything from pro-Western liberals to al Qaidists, they turn against each other as soon as Gaddafi has fallen and plunge the country into continued civil war. Same question again.

Outcome five: Gaddafi utterly defeated, but this time the rebels hold together and form an effective government. But the bad news is that it turns out that the al Qaidists are the predominant force among them. The government is more repressive even than Gaddafi's. All dissent is met with massacres.

Outcome six: under the impact of the bombing Gaddafi has a change of heart and sues for peace. A peace conference is held at which all parties agree to forego reprisals and hold free elections. An elected government takes power and duly submits to the verdict of the voters five years later. The people of Libya live happily ever after.

So one scenario out of six in which the criterion for a just cause to which Dr Oddie refers - "prevention of a worse evil" - is met. Is there as much as a one in six chance of it turning out that way? I doubt whether the Sarbameron troika are that sanguine, and it's very clear that the Pope isn't. Dr Oddie knows very well what a wise man the Pope is; he and many others should not resist being guided by that wisdom now.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ash Wednesday

Technology changes, the nuts and bolts of the human condition not so much. After a sustained campaign to interest me in two billion per cent APR credit cards, this morning my Yahoo mailbox was advertising a hair restorer ("9 out of 10 men..."). It was like scanning the ads in a Victorian newspaper.

Well, I am happy to report that I am well, nay luxuriantly, provided with thatch. On the other hand the latest offering, liposuction for men, may be an option if my Lenten fast proves too gruelling - a pretty good bet based on previous years' performance. I've done OK so far today, Frau G having acceded to my pleas that I should not be left alone with an unfinished packet of Choco Leibniz.

On a more serious note, as of today both Grumpys are officially headed Rome-wards. If you are of a praying disposition, please say one for us.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Never the right time

On the one hand...

'Helen Brayley, from University College London's Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science, said people should not draw hasty conclusions.

'Ms Brayley, who wrote the first independent academic analysis of child sex trafficking, said: "When you jump in with thinking about race too quickly, you can miss a whole load of other things that are happening in other areas.

'"So by racially stereotyping this early on without a national scoping project... we don't know what the situation is in other areas around the country... you might be leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy of if people are looking for Asian offenders, they will only find Asian offenders."'

(Or you might want to avoid stereotyping people concerned about this as racist morons, but I digress)

On the other hand...

'He [Keith Vaz] said: "Why didn't Jack Straw say something about this (before)? He has represented Blackburn for 31 years, he's been the home secretary."'

(all from the Beeb, betraying no hint of awareness of a contradiction)

Well, actually, not the other hand but very much the same one. Too soon, too late, any time but the right time. Which is of course never.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

On the murder of 21 Christians

In the first place:-

'intermarriage between Coptic men and Muslim women is illegal.'

- from Time magazine

In the second place:-

The Laws for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour
(September 15, 1935)

Entirely convinced that the purity of German blood is essential to the further existence of the German people, and inspired by the uncompromising determination to safeguard the future of the German nation, the Reichstag has unanimously resolved upon the following law, which is promulgated herewith:

Section 1

Marriages between Jews and citizens (German: Staatsangehörige) of German or kindred blood are forbidden. Marriages concluded in defiance of this law are void, even if, for the purpose of evading this law, they were concluded abroad.

(source: Wikipedia)

In the third place:-

'We know the long and honourable history of co-existence of Christians and Muslims in Egypt and are confident that the overwhelming majority of Egyptian people will join in condemning this and similar acts.'

- the Archbishop of Canterbury, from his statement on the Alexandria church bombing.

Now I'm not expecting Rowan Williams to say something inflammatory. But waffle as mendacious as this is worse than silence.

There's some good background stuff at the Guardian, to give it its due - here and here. Another sample of that honourable co-existence:-

'Egypt's Christians have played as big a part in the recent demographic explosion as their fellow Muslims, but whereas new mosques are built and renovated freely, Christians have to navigate a bewilderingly web of bureaucracy to secure permission for construction. There are an estimated 2,000 churches in Egypt today, alongside 93,000 mosques.'

So 1 church for every 46-and-a-half mosques. One Egyptian in ten is Christian.

'Pontiff: Christians are most persecuted'

- so runs the front page headline in the Christmas edition of the Catholic Herald, over a report on the Pope's World Peace Day message, dated 8 December. Can we agree that Pope Benedict is not quite as out of touch as he's often painted? It's good that this is said, not because it's good for Christians to be trying to face down others in a game of victimhood poker, but because it's manifestly true.

Both the Pope and Rowan Williams have been at pains to further Christian-Muslim dialogue, and that is also a good thing. But only one of them seems prepared to say plainly that there can be no dialogue where one party is holding a pistol to the other's head.

As for the BBC and its talk of sectarian tensions...

When I entered "Islamophobia" into the BBC News search engine it offered me 171 hits in the blink of an eye. Then I tried "Christophobia"; I thought I would have to give this up as a bad job after it had pondered for five minutes, but eventually it dredged up three hits from 2004 and 2006.

Those who have introduced "Islamophobia" into our political discourse have been spectacularly successful in framing the terms of debate about the relationship between British Muslims and the rest of society. This has happened in spite of our Muslim communities never - thank God - having had to face anything remotely comparable to the Alexandria church bombing. If a bomb ever did claim 21 lives at a British mosque, can there be the slightest doubt that for the BBC it would be an "Islamophobia" story and not a "sectarian tensions" one?