Saturday, September 11, 2004

Barbie Tarts and School Uniforms

A Guardianista praises the blazer and tie. Never too late I suppose. She's not too keen on girlie culture either.

"The current passion for reintroducing uniform is at least partly because school heads see no other way round the current BarbieTart look: nine-year-old girls in FCUK T-shirts with "Juicy" appliqued to their tiny bottoms. Actually, I'm in favour of uniform purely because it lessens French Connection's profits. I find myself wondering alarmingly often if there isn't a way the company could be prosecuted, for living off immoral earnings or something, for their massive and hideously irresponsible contribution to the nation's crashing hurtle into total vulgarity.

Here are some T-shirt slogans I've seen on the street recently: FCUKing like bunnies; Big Dick (See Below); Stop Staring At My Tits; Remember My Name (You'll Be Screaming It Later) - oh God, I can't be bothered to go on. "

When my daughter and I were at the seaside recently, we saw a family whose daughter (10? 11?) had the slogan 'F*** Off - I'm Fussy' on her shirt. They weren't typical underclass - no visble studs or tattoos - Dad wasn't shaved bald, Mum didn't have vast hoop earrings bought from the Seti Surplus Store. Just ordinary folks.

It's difficult to slag off little girlies for reflecting the culture around them. On the subject of which, the Guardian notes the death of TV executive Andrea Wonfor, who 'stamped her mark on British TV'. You said it.

She leaves behind such culturally enriching landmarks as The Word (whose influence has long spread from TV to magazines like Zoo and Nuts), Byker Grove, Eurotrash and a largeish output of 'ground-breaking' TV production featuring women swearing and talking about sex. Before she came along, no-one knew that women did any of these things.

In her own not so small way she helped get the 'Porn Queen' t-shirt onto the chest of many a chavette.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Tasteless Or What ?

Barry Beelzebub hits a brilliant new low with this piece on the Health and Safety Executive.

Let me give you a couple of examples of how far this cotton wool culture has permeated our daily lives. A friend of mine who works for a prominent firm of granny-stranglers (or financial advisors as some call them) recently managed to blag a couple of very fancy tickets to a football match. You know the ones: padded seats, luxury bar, free programme, post-96 middle-class muppet behind you, that sort of thing.

He thought this might be an ideal opportunity to introduce his four-year-old son to The Beautiful Game on the grounds that if the boy became bored with proceedings, his mother could take him downstairs to the luxury bar where they could play Stick The Tail On Emile Heskey while father watched the rest of the match in peace.

A quick phone call to the football club in question stymied the scheme. A four-year-old sitting on his father's lap? Out of the question. The child would be a clear and obvious fire hazard.

A what? A fire hazard? This is the country that became rich by sending four-year-olds up chimneys. Now I know that disabled people in cinemas are often regarded as potentially combustible, but a four-year-old kid? How many of those have you seen go up in flames in the last week? (An uneasy silence settles on the readership, understandably so.)

Fools Rush In ...

I noticed the gloating headline in yesterday's Guardian.

"Now it's Bush's turn to squirm" announced former Clinton staffer Sidney Blumenthal, revealing that "Evidence of the president's fudged war record emerged in time to undermine the Republicans' triumphal march".

The BBC and Indie echoed the claims - that new documents shed a bad light on GWBs performance as an Air National Guard in the early 1970s.

But as Natalie Solent points out, they weren't up with the story.

UPDATE - Ed Thomas has more at Biased BBC.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Thanks Harry ...

For the links to the Socialist Workers Party Joe Strummer tribute pages. The Clash were the ideal band for the Student Grant generation - from the idiotic cliches -

"After taking part in the riot at the end of that summer’s Notting Hill Carnival, lead singer Joe Strummer proudly announced:

“I think people ought to know that we’re anti-fascist, we’re anti-violence ..."

to the carefully concealed upper middle class background and the decision to forsake the Westway for rural Somerset. Turning revolt into not so much an art as an attitude struck - a pose, albeit one maintained for years ... you think it's funny ? Turning webellion into money ?

And the Clash could NOT do reggae. 'White Man In the Hammersmith Palais' is as embarrassing as the Boomtown Rats 'Banana Republic' or the Members dire 'Offshore Banking Business' ('kinda financial t'ing, yeah ?').

The Ruts were miles better.

UPDATE - Apologies for this descent into old animosities. But the Clash and the SWP were made for each other.

Brave Journalism At The Guardian

It's easy to knock the Guardian, purveyors of radical ideas such as 'Never Trust A Christian Cowboy', ideas which would otherwise never be heard in the mainstream media. Its pages are full of people who think it's brave to attack the war in Iraq or condemn people who take the Bible seriously.

But Catherine Bennett on 'animal rights activists' is a truly brave article. Because if the activists - who she rightly calls terrorists - run true to form she may well be in physical danger as a result of what she's written. The people whe writes about are seriously nasty.

In most English towns you'll see a young person on a weekend with a stall in the High Street, Stop Huntingdon leaflets and a petition against foxhunting. The other face of the movement you can read about here, or here, or on their own websites. If an entire community was - and still is - terrorised by racists or homophobes because it contained one black or gay resident, it would never be off the news. Yet what's happening at Newchurch in Staffordshire is remarkably low profile, and it's only one of many similar campaigns.

Horrendous it may be but it's by no means unique. Other targets in the community here include the local golf club where John Hall used the gym. When threatening letters were ignored turf on its greens was dug up and red paint poured over the fairways. Mr Hall chose to resign. His newsagent was targeted and no longer delivers the papers. His solicitor bowed to pressure and no longer acts for the family. The glazier, who repaired the farm's vandalised windows, was threatened and withdrew his labour, so did the local vet. And the Halls have been stopped from visiting the nearby hotel when it too received warnings. Indeed the entire community here received letters of abuse and accusation about the Halls and their alleged cruelty to animals, including the village pub, the Red Lion, where landlords, the Marklews, tried at first to resist the pressure.

We had a letter to say that the Hall family have been using the Red Lion and that we'd got to stop them coming in, which we ignored it. So then we got intimidating letters and threats, what they were going to do - they were going to burn the place down, they were going to trash the cars, they were going to smash the windows. Then after that they sent letters to everybody in the village telling them not to use the Red Lion because we're serving scum - i.e. John and his family.

And that's when the bricks started coming through the window. The phone calls was horrendous, you'd get them 24 hours a day non-stop and every time you picked the receiver up, because you had to because I was running a business, you got silence or abuse.

But the Marklews stood their ground and point blank refused to bar the Halls. However, when senior management at the Union Pub Company, which owns the Red Lion, also became the target of hundreds of hostile letters, phone calls and e-mails, officials met the Marklews and told the couple that it would be best if they left their tenancy.

Bennett's view of this is

"Perhaps, in the context of al-Qaida's massacres, the blowing up of Israeli buses, and the slaughter and abuse of children which Tony Blair has described as "extreme terrorism", milder terms seem more appropriate for our domestic product. But if terrorism must now be identified with acts so unspeakable they seem to render the word, by itself, inadequate, this should not prevent our home-grown, less extreme specialists in fear from being known for what they are."

I'm reminded by her bravery of the famous 1960s Private Eye article which named the Kray Twins as the people behind a series of tabloid headlines about the 'reign of fear' in London's gangland. They closed the item with a statement to the effect that 'if the Krays live up to their reputation, this may well be the last issue of Private Eye under the present management'.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Careless Talk Costs Lives

The saintly Rev Peter Mullen of Reform on Rasputin's view of 9/11.

Would Dr Williams argue that the brave men who fought back against the terrorists in the fourth aircraft to crash were in the wrong? He reckons that the terrorists had no choice: “We have something of the freedom to consider whether or not we turn to violence and so, in virtue of that very fact, are rather different from those who experience their world as leaving no other option.”

This is a high-grade sample of the drivel we have heard these past three years from those in the West who despise the civilisation which is their inheritance. Of course the suicide bombers had “other options”: not every impoverished Muslim thinks the only answer to his problems is to destroy New York. If the atrocity were not the terrorists’ fault, what next? “We begin to find some sense of what they and we might together recognise as good.” Really? But it is impossible to make common moral cause between democratic freedom and the rule of law on the one hand and nihilistic killing on the other.

Dr Williams is praised as a man of superior intelligence. But there is no intelligence in Writing in the Dust, only romantic faux naivety. As his writings reveal, he is an old-fashioned class warrior. He dislikes our Western way of life and romanticises the Islamic world as much as Marxists used to romanticise the USSR. This wouldn’t matter much in normal times, but these days we live on the edge of destruction.

Great stuff, Dr Mullen. But I think the bishopric may be some way off.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Islamophobia Part 734

Norm and newbie clever-clogs Jonathan Derbyshire do a pretty good job on Madeleine Bunting's tastelessly timed Guardian piece.

But five stars for the following - Jack Straw, as spotted by Harry.

Sometimes we are too swift to move away from the original and fundamental causes of such terrorism, namely the terrorists who perpetrated such an act, and shift away to other things - in a sense taking for granted their culpability.
There are some things which happen amongst human kind which are almost inexplicable according to any basic moral norms - Nazism was and this is.

And the wondrous Yasmin Alibhai Brown, a burning bright flame amidst the hideously white self-haters of the Indie. No liberal guilt there.

When confronted by such abominable crimes, we have an obligation to cross over the horror which wells up and try and comprehend (not forgive, but understand) the perpetrators and the circumstance which led to the violence. Today I find such searching analysis almost impossible. For some people that line was crossed with the Sept 11 attacks (which, it will be remembered, Yazza believed the US brought upon themselves - but it's never too late to repent). There are events which silence the voice ... for now, for me, this crime has no place even within the farthest boundaries of human behaviour; it has destroyed the fundamental definition of what it means to be human.

For Yazza, for Jack Straw, and for me, the crime is too disgusting, too unspeakable, to be balanced in some equation against Russian actions in Chechnya. Not so the Indie's vile cartoonist, who I presume is the same guy who did the baby-eating Sharon.

Putin stands, dunce's cap on head, in the corner of a bombed-out classroom, blood and glass on the floor. Surprisingly there are no dead children, not even being eaten by Mr Sharon.

The blackboard contains the equation


The caption ? "Back to School".

UPDATE - as I've said before, what Ms Bunting knows about history could be tattooed under a child's armpit.

" ... the particular association of Islam with violence is a colonial hangover, dating back to the 1857 Indian Mutiny, when Muslims rebelled against British imperialism."

Two points. The Indian Mutiny involved Hindu and Muslim troops. As the Army Museum site says "Fortunately for the British the Mutiny was almost exclusively confined to the Bengal Army. The Company’s Madras and Bombay Armies were relatively unaffected and other units, including Sikhs, Punjabi Moslems and Gurkhas, remained loyal.". Nicholson's force at Delhi mainly consisted of Muslim tribesmen from what is now the Afghan border region.

To say the revolt was against imperialism is incorrect. Imperialism of one sort or other - Sikh, Muslim, Hindu - was the usual form of government on the subcontinent. The mutineers proclaimed the re-establishment of the Moghul Empire under Bahadur Shah. In Charles Allen's words 'the root cause was a growing unease among both Hindu and Muslim sepoys about the way their traditional way of life was being interfered with .. a real fear that religion and caste were being actively undermined. The British Government was forcing the pace of change in ways that threatened the customs of centuries, bringiong reforms such as the banning of suttee and female infanticide ...'.

Caste, suttee (the burning of widows), female infanticide. Can't say Madelaine doesn't know a good cause when she sees one.

And as for the particular association of Muslims with violence, I'd better quote again the Archbishop of Canterbury. No, not Rasputin - Queen Elizabeth I's Matthew Parker, nearly 300 years before the Mutiny.

" Better it is for us to fall into thy hands, than into the hands of men, and especially into the hands of Turks and Infidels thy professed enemies, who now invade thine inheritance... First, the Turke with his sword, what landes, nations, and countreys, what empires, kingdomes, and provinces, with cities innumerable hath he wonne, not from us but from Thee! Where thy name was wont to be invocated, thy word preached, thy sacraments administered, there now reigneth barbarous Mahumet with his filthy Alcoran. The florishing churches in Asia, the learned churches of Grecia, the manifold churches in Africa, which were wont to serve thee now are gone from thee."

Or what about the Irish poet Thomas Moore, who wrote 'The Fireworshippers' in 1817, describing the conquest of Zoroastrianism in Persia by Islam. He described

One of the saintly, murderous brood,
To carnage and the Koran given,
Who hold through unbelievers blood
Lies the directest path to heaven

I'm not saying I agree with Moore or Parker. But to suggest that Islam only became associated with violence in 1857 is ridiculous. She's making it up as she goes along.

A Couple More links ...

To Susurration and new kid on the blog Eric The Unread, both of whom are posting some good stuff. Though Eric, I'd question whether the market for posts attacking the Daily Mail isn't somewhat saturated.

I'm not sure about Susurration's description of this site as 'Conservative' though, nor Coppersblog's 'Superior (liked that bit) Conservative UK Blog.

What on earth is there about Britain in 2004 which is worth conserving, apart from the countryside ? The few shreds and tatters of pre-1960s culture, I suppose.

And from the Policeman's blog, a little Dalrymplesque vignette of British underclass 'family life' in 2004.

“Did you hit her?”
“Basically, I really love her, but she just pushed me too far this time.”
“I see, so you didn’t really mean to do it.”
“No, I just lost it, I really love her.”
“So you say. Are you drunk?”
“Well, I’ve had a few.”
“So you’re a violent drunk?”
“You’re twisting my words.”
“And you’re under arrest.” Strike one for justice.
Returning to take the statement from the battered (and not in a fish and chips way) female, I ask penetrating questions:
“How long have you been together?”
“On and off for 18 months.” (It’s always “on and off” in these cases).
“Has he always been violent towards you?”
“Yes, pretty much.”
“And at what point did you decide he would make an ideal father for your child?”
“Well it just sort of happened.”

Sunday, September 05, 2004

It's Dreadful, But ...

"But depraved terrorism of this type does not come unannounced. Russian forces fighting the two wars in Chechnya have distinguished themselves with their own brand of brutality ..." - Observer editorial.

"The hostage-takers committed crimes beyond the capacity of any judicial or spiritual authority adequately to condemn ... But it cannot be enough simply to condemn the wickedness of the hostage-takers ... " - Independent editorial.

Note that to the Independent (and the BBC) the people who slaughtered maybe as many as 500 innocents are 'hostage-takers'. To the Guardian they are 'militants', just like the 'militants' who target little girls in Gaza, or Afghanistan.

Thank God for the great Aaronovitch.