Thursday, 29 August 2013

Martin Luther King's dream

click for full 'I have a Dream' text
Fifty years ago, one of the greatest figures in world history gave an impassioned speech that rings out through the decades as a hymn to justice and multiculturalism.

Martin Luther King’s "I have a Dream" speech marked the hundredth anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation which became law on 1 January 1963. The president wrote:

I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves [within the US] are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

King’s assessment of progress thereafter was stark: "One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination…It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of colour are concerned".

click for the Malcolm X Official Website
His answer was not to take one’s rights by force, which some (eg Malcolm X - right) would have justified with the not unfair argument that freedom is taken, not gifted. King emphasized that freedom exists only when everyone is free: not just little black children and little white children but Catholics and Protestants and Jews and Gentiles.

I think King was saying is that there must be an end to exceptionalism, the concept that one part of society stands elevated over others and is justified in using all means necessary to preserve that elevation. The context of "I have a Dream" was white exceptionalism (or supremacy). Now the West faces waves of Jihad based on fundamentalist Islamic exceptionalism and, as the exclusion of Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer from the UK shows, the Establishment will not even tolerate reference to the issue.

What will such denial of freedom produce for our generation: a Martin Luther King, or a Malcolm X?

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


"I have a Dream" speech on Youtube:

Full text of "I have a Dream" speech - BBC

Obama on Martin Luther King anniversary: the full speech

Text of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 - US Government Archives

Letter banning Pamela Geller from UK - Atlas Shrugs

Banning Geller and Spencer from UK will only increase grievance - Index on Censorship

Monday, 26 August 2013

The Old Ways

If you’re travelling in an enclosed space like a bus, train or plane, then it’s all about you. You might as well sit still while the world turns about you.

Travelling on foot it all changes. Everything is about the other – the people you meet, the places you pass, the very consistency of the ground underneath. These form the warp and weft of your traveller’s tales.

click for reviews on Amazon
Robert MacFarlane’s traveller’s tales, recounted in The Old Ways, take him from Britain to Spain, Tibet and Israel as he explores how land builds people.

This would make an interesting book anyway, but what makes it unique is MacFarlane’s gift for not just communicating the texture of a moment but inviting the reader to join him inside that moment, be it traipsing barefoot in Scotland (where I empathised with his reticence to experience nettles as “chili for the feet”), being chosen by a book in the Library of the Forest in Madrid or accompanying an old friend in a melancholy meander over old Palestinian pathways. As a recovering twitcher I was taken by his description of a rock dove as a “hoplite vicar”.

I was worried that MacFarlane would use his journeys in Palestine to make a political point, but my fears were unfounded. He tells the stories of his travels as if each journey were a precious jewel, and leaves the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

Something that interested me in the section on Palestine was the story of a friend of his who narrowly being shot by militia on the grounds that "it is halal to kill the guilty English". The British (presumably what was meant) left the Palestinian Mandate in 1948. Perhaps food for thought given the decisions our politicians have to make about engagement in Syria?

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Cameron must think hard about any Syria intervention

David Cameron is right to be 'sickened' by images of gassed children in Syria; and we’d be right to ask questions about his humanity if he weren’t affected.

But Cameron needs think hard about any response that requires British boots on the ground, something he has previously said he opposes, especially as both government and rebel forces are suspected of using gas against each other. If this is proven, then we will be joining forces with people not averse to using weapons of mass destruction regardless of which side we intervene on behalf of.

We also, unfortunately, need to remember the part of the world we’re talking about. The moment Western forces step onto Syrian soil, again regardless of whose side they are on, loud protests about "crusaders" and "colonialists" will soon turn to further acts of terrorism against the West.

I’m sorry that children are suffering in Syria. At the same time, I have to ask, what are other Muslim countries in the region – which isn’t short of Muslim countries – doing about it? Why does the situation require Westerners, whose intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq has been denounced throughout the Umma?

Pictures of suffering children can be very emotive. Such pictures kicked off the process that culminated in Band Aid and Live Aid – and the monies raised enabled Ethiopia’s Haile Maryam Mengistu to oppress his people, children included, for much longer than he might have done otherwise.

I also must accuse Mr Cameron of hypocrisy. Victims of Muslim child-abusers in the UK must struggle for each and every morsel of justice from the Establishment, with statutory bodies such as Social Services making things all the more difficult for them. If Cameron should prioritise foreign children over British ones, how can he hope to triumph in a fair General Election?

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Saturday, 24 August 2013


In the fictional city of Santa Teresa in the real-life Mexican state of Sonora, women are being murdered. A man is convicted of the crimes and imprisoned. Women are still being murdered.

click to read reviews on Amazon
This is at the centre of Roberto Bolaño’s epic story-cycle, but to concentrate on it would be to miss what the late Chilean novelist’s editor Ignacio Echevarría calls, in his note to the first edition of the posthumously-published novel, its "hidden centre".

I believe an indication as to where that centre lies is furnished by Bolaño’s solicitude for those who slide off the page of history, for example the murdered women who work in Santa Teresa’s factories, who one blogger suggests are based on the real-life murdered women of Ciudad Juárez. On the way through the mammoth work we also meet a Harlem preacher extolling the salvific virtues of duck à l’orange and Voltaire, an Aryan maiden who rejects her father’s Nazi propaganda, and a Mexican policeman who rejects the macho venality of his colleagues and falls in love with the methodology of detection (called Lalo Cura; la locura is Spanish for madness).

click to view Arcimboldo's art
I hope I’ve given you an inkling of how wide-ranging 2666 is, although I’ve hardly scratched the surface. Bolaño treats space and time as rules made to be broken, and fact and fiction as relational opposites whose conjunction provides yet richer seams for him to mine. And one common seam is Benno Archimboldo, whom the author connects more than once with Giuseppe Arcimboldo, the artist who painted The Four Seasons (Winter - left) and The Four Elements. Archimboldo, I think, will join the pantheon of famous literary obscures beside such as John Galt and Ishmael.

I spent a long time reading 2666. Closing it for the last time felt like waving farewell to a friend. I thoroughly recommend it.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

since when was rape a freedom of speech issue?

Freedom of speech is used to justify all sorts of things which are antipathetic to reason. Ricky Gervaise used it to justify jokes about paedophilia, Jimmy Carr made a disgusting insinuation about women liking rape, and Frankie Boyle demanded he be free to apply the n-word to non-white people if used "ironically".

read more at Cambridge News
The latest use, as the Cambridge News’ Lizzy Buchan writes, is by comedian (why are they do high in the abuse stakes?) Mitch Fatel (right) making cracks about "spiking drinks to facilitate sex and scenarios of sexual assault".

Is it a coincidence that the butts of these abusive "jokes" are, in order, abused children, violated women, ethnic minorities and, again, abused women?

When exactly did abuse, especially of a sexual sort, become laughable?

click for Reginald D Hunter's homepage
In an enlightening case earlier this year, comic Reginald D Hunter was admonished by the Professional Footballers’ Association for telling jokes featuring the n-word at its annual awards ceremony. This might seem reasonable, but it’s less open-and-shut if you know that Hunter uses the epithet in context, to describe the experience of being a black American. But Daily Mail columnist Martin Samuel blew the whole thing apart when he revealed that in the previous year’s ceremony nobody protested when white player Ched Evans was honoured, despite having been imprisoned for rape two days previously.

Now come back to Cambridge, this February. Forty members of the English Defence League demonstrated against the Islamisation of society (and note not against Muslims); in doing so they railed against abuses of womens’ rights such as female genital mutilation, forced marriage, and corporal or even capital punishment for being raped.

Five hundred self-proclaimed and predominantly white "antifascists" turned out to try and drown out our message.

Samuel’s conclusion about football holds true for society: we are "no longer in a moral maze but a moral cul-de-sac".

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Apology over crude comedy show at Lakenheath - Cambridge News

Stumbling through a moral minefield... football condemns the comedian but applauds the rapist - Daily Mail

Friday, 2 August 2013

anti-fracking and the resurgence of Picturesque

Enclosure has a lot to answer for. True, it’s the basis of all that modern people consider private property, but it also established a precedent for a class of people declaring that what was beforehand held in common belongs to them.

Thus, for example, we have the BBC’s cultural enclosure of immigration, the NHS and the causes of climate change, whereby anybody who expresses views beyond the pale is considered toxic.

The anti-fracking camp is closer to enclosure in its original meaning. The means of harvesting oil from shale has brought energy prices down in the US and could do the same here, but protesters won’t have it. They insist the land cannot be used for this purpose.

And there’s the nub. Like the haves of feudal times, the anti-frackers arrogate to themselves the right to determine how our land is used to support the people lucky enough to live upon it. They seem to have an idea that fracking will turn fields of green to fields of concrete, but are blind to barely mitigated immigration doing just that (see cultural enclosure).

click for more on Gilpin and Picturesque
The anti-frackers seem to have a romanticised view of rural land that owes much to William Gilpin's (right) views on the Picturesque – seeing blasted heaths as more attractive than planted ones and ruins easier on the eye than habitations – without realising that Gilpin’s aesthetics concerned art, not life. Add to this the sinister left-wing fetishisation of land as the elite's birthright as pioneered by National Socialism and you have an explosive scenario.

The anti-frackers proceed from the super-privileged who come to lord it over the rest of us. Not only have they no contact with blue-collar life, but enjoy benefits most middle-class people will never see. They seem to think they have ringside seats for a revolution. Perhaps they do.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Andrew Marr and communism's mutant sister

Andrew Marr is my kind of Liberal, in that he has insight into the fact that his outlook is merely one of several: it was he who first identified, in 2006, that the BBC had “an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people” and suffered from a "cultural liberal bias".

You might object that there’s nothing wrong with being young and/or gay and I’d agree wholeheartedly. What Marr meant, I think, is that the BBC fails the diversity tick-box test by having so many more young and/or gay people than the communities it serves that it doesn’t reflect those communities accurately.

click for reviews for 'A History of Modern Britain'
He showed this insight again in his 2007 book A History of Modern Britain, where he praises the benefits of immigration. Then he makes the one point commentators may not raise: no politician ever asked the British populace for permission to open the floodgates.

click for reviews for 'A History of the World'So it’s disappointing that, in his 2012 tome, perhaps somewhat hubristically titled A History of the World, his ability to think outside of the culturally liberal box deserts him when it comes to comparing communism and fascism.

He’s not afraid to tackle the abuses of communism: he identifies Stalin as the world’s worst mass murderer, and again says something liberals shouldn’t: Stalin merely finished what Lenin started.

My beef is that he flees from identifying fascism as the other side of the same coin as communism, but instead identifies it as "communism’s mutant sister". He seems to be in thrall to the idea that fascism can only be right-wing – but how many right-wing dictators soiled the 20th century? Hitler nationalised most of Germany’s businesses and proclaimed himself an anti-capitalist, with Mussolini close behind. Franco was the only right-wing dictator. Isn't any totalitarian "supreme leader" a fascist?

Fascism isn’t the mutant sister of communism: it’s the identical twin.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


We are biased, admit stars of BBC news - Daily Mail

REad reviews for A history of Modern Britain on Amazon

Read reviews for A history of the World on Amazon

What is fascism? A surprising BBC debate - 300 words

Hitler was a socialist (and not a right-winger) - Democratic Peace Blog