Category Archives: society

09 Jan

“The Governess, Part III”

Take your seats today for the third and climactic act of this three act pantomime starring Theresa May. “The Governess” was the tile given to this show only after other suggestions had been examined and rejected: these included: “The Stunt” and “The Art of Self-advertisement.”

Acts I and II were hugely enjoyable. The first contained the memorably comic scene in which Mrs May, with the assistance of the Department of Cliches and Political Hand-me downs, is seen composing several articles for publication in national newspapers. How we roared with laughter at her subtle articulation of “Let me be entirely clear.” Then came her side-splitting, “My first priority” – for which due credit was acknowledged in the programme to the Department of Tautologies and the EU Commission on Pleonasm.

In the second act, Mrs May pretended to be a serious politician – the prime minister, no less -  and was seen giving an extended television interview. Our theatrical correspondent commented favourably: “This was the most brilliantly effective political satire we’ve seen since the days of that great comic actor Harold Wilson.”

I attended the dress – and what a dress! – rehearsal for today’s final act which begins in total darkness. In mock horror a disembodied voice calls out, “Now then boys and girls, what are the most terrifying words in the English language?”

At this point there was a palpable sense of unease and apprehension. Suddenly the stage was a fountain of light and Mrs May rose from a trapdoor in a gorgeous leopard skin leotard and answered: “Hello, I’m from the government and I’m here to help!”

I swear the audience laughter continued for all of five minutes.

There were some breath-taking moments of sheer bathos as when Mrs May began to sing the smash hit number “The Shared Society.” It began with the rising chromatic line in parody seriousness: “I’m going to do something about mental illness.” But yet again the tension was relieved quite hilariously as she went on to sing, “Oh no I’m not! I’ve already done that – when I said I want to make Brexit work for the Remainers!”

The rest of the act was the enumeration of all that Mrs May is going to do to make the country better and spread happiness. I won’t spoil it for you by going into details. “”(Actually, Mrs May didn’t go in for details either).

At the end I strolled into the green room which was crammed with theatrical journalists and literary people from the upmarket weeklies. Hieronymus Bosh from The Guardian interestingly denied that what we’d witnessed was a pantomime at all: “It was really a social comment piece – put me in mind here and there of Brecht, particularly in her evocative minimalist phrasing of “The Handouts Song “ and the rousing strains of “immigration, Immigration, Immigration” and its unforgettable refrain, “You ain’t seen nuffin’ yet!”

The Times Literary Supplement’s Jean-Paul Fartre seemed angered by Bosh’s remarks and he screamed back, “Social comment piece my arse! It was pure theatre of the absurd. Didn’t you get the Sam Beckett reference when the demon king character (Boris Johnson) tells her, “You can’t go on!” and Theresa slaps her leather trousers and replies, “I must go on! I’ll go on!”

The editor of The Tablet said, “What really did it for me was at the end of her moving song about all her magnificent achievements, the Theresa May-like-character vowed to make us all love one another and to abolish Original Sin.”

I ventured to ask, Where is the great lady, by the way?”

And the whole chorus erupted, “She’s behind you!”

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25 Dec

Begone gloomy prelate!

“2016 has left us awash with fear.” Thus spake that leader of the Church Militant in this state of England, the Arch-community dirge-chanter of Canterbury, Justin Welby. We are haunted, he chants, by “the fear of terror and the economics of despair.”

If you Google SKY News, you can see a picture of him actually looking haunted and afraid.

Speak for yourself, Mr Welby. I’m not. I would rather believe the angel who said, “Fear not” than the wimpish Primate of all England.

The aim of terrorists is to make us afraid. I’m not going to oblige them, and I am confident most of my fellow countrymen are not going to succumb to fear either.

And what’s all this about “the economics of despair”? Foreign investment, since the referendum, is at the highest level on record. There are more people in work than ever. A score more economic indicators register strongly on the plus side.

There are so many things to be thankful for. Obama has (nearly) gone. We were spared Hillary Clinton. Trump is (almost) in the White House. The England XV went through the year unbeaten. Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow scored a stack of runs.

Welby himself has served another year at Canterbury – which means he has one fewer to go until the day he leaves office.

And Leave won that referendum.

Best of all, it’s Christmas Day. The Word is made flesh and dwells among us, and we behold his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father: full of grace and truth.

So Lord descend to us, we pray: and take that Justin Welby away.

I’ve got a better motto for us: Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus…”

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21 Dec

A black day for Rose

From the seat of her high-ranking position as chaplain to the speaker of the House of Commons, the Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, a black woman, complains that there are not enough black and ethnic minority clergy being promoted to high office. Her own office as chaplain to the speaker is a fine hideout from which to make such accusations. It reminds me of Soren Kierkegaard’s riposte to Bishop Mynster: “This prelate in all the majesty of his ecclesiastical regalia ascends the pulpit of his glorious cathedral and preaches on the text, ‘God hath chosen the humble things of this world’ – and nobody laughs!” 

Ms Hudson-Wilkin blames “institutional racism” within the Church of England. And still nobody laughs.

She had better report this deficit to the second highest-ranking cleric in the church then, the Archbishop of York who was, last time I looked, a black man.

We are accustomed to hearing from class and race warrior Rose on these matters. A couple of years ago, she was interviewed on Radio Four and talked of little else in half an hour. She is a sort of ecclesiastical Doppelganger of Diane Abbott.

The occasion of the reverend lady’s renewed expostulations was the consecration of Karowei Dorgu as the new Bishop of Woolwich. He too is black.

Am I still the only person laughing? 

I don’t think we should get overly theoretical about this perceived deficiency of black and effnik hierarchs. Let’s concentrate on the practicalities instead. If a remedy is thought to be required, how is this to be accomplished? Are there to be quotas to ensure that black candidates are promoted, that is preferred over white candidates solely on the grounds that they are black?

If so, this amounts to racism. It may come as a surprise to diversity-mongers, but black people can be guilty of racism too. (Indeed, the claim they cannot be guilty of this offence is itself an act of racist prejudice, albeit against whites) The race warriors talk about “positive discrimination.” But there is no such thing. One person’s positive discrimination is another person’s victimisation.

There are only two criteria for the promotion of clergy into positions of high office in the church – or indeed for the promotion of anyone anywhere – and these are ability and suitability.

All the clamour for special preferment to be given to black candidates is manifestly unfair and unjust.

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15 Dec

A degree in social engineering?

The BBC newsroom today describes Bristol as a “leading” university. I should like to know within what field is Bristol a leader or, to put it another way, where is it leading us?

Bristol is to increase its intake of disadvantaged students by offering places with reduced grades. These pupils are also described as being “from  schools with poor A-level results.”

Vice-chancellor Hugh Brady said this would be a “step change” in admissions. I don’t know what the vice-chancellor’s phrase “step change” indicates – except that he is rather adept in the use of jargon.

The Bristol project, to be launched by Education Secretary Justine Greening, is described as “an attempt by the university to drive social mobility and attract a wider range of students.”

More jargon. Being translated, it means that Bristol’s wheeze has nothing to do with education but is rather a political project in the dubious area of social engineering. Again I must ask for some clarity: just what is meant by “a wider range” of students? Lower exam grades show that some students are not as academically competent as those scoring more highly. If they don’t show that, then we might as well abolish all exams for then the whole business of grading would be meaningless.

Let me use a dirty word: exam results provide the authorities with criteria which allow them to discriminate between those for whom a university education would be suitable and those for whom it would not.

In fact this “leading” vice-chancellor’s levelling down project is a betrayal of the character and purpose of the university itself which is meant to provide intellectual excellence for an elite. If universities no longer exist for that purpose, then they, along with the exams, should be abolished.

Fastidious social engineers scream when you say these things, though I can’t see that they have any cause to scream. Those who oppose the policy of dumbing down and levelling are not claiming that intellectual excellence is the only sort of excellence: merely that it is the sort of excellence for which the idea of a university was formed in the first place.

Many who take readily to reading literature, history, philosophy or physics admit to being utterly useless when it comes to the exercise of practical and mechanical operations. To learn to become master of a trade is also something worthwhile – that’s why we used to provide five years’ apprentices so that, when they arrive at maturity, young people might be equipped with high skills as plumbers, electricians, carpenters or dressmakers.

We should ditch these social engineering projects and embrace the existence of different aptitudes. University standards will be damaged and ultimately destroyed by such politicking. And students who acquire their university places by this means will not be happy there.

And now for something similar… The BBC also reports that from 2017 all recruits into the police force will be required to hold a university degree. Why?

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02 Dec

The fully-integrated lunatic fringe

Opinion research company Policy Exchange has conducted a survey of the views of 3000 Muslims living in Britain.

It declares that 93% wish “to integrate fully” into the British way of life. Now, to integrate fully is, by definition, to share a consensus. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree with everyone else about everything. But it does mean that a person integrated into a society will tend to share the important things, including beliefs, in common within that society.

How to square Muslims’ expressed with to belong with some of their beliefs? I don’t mean their religious beliefs. I mean the fact that, according to Policy Exchange, 96% of Muslims do not believe that Al Q’aeda perpetrated the 9/11 atrocities in the US. 31% believe that the Americans themselves carried out these attacks. And 7% say the Israelis were responsible.

Here’s another Muslim belief – or rather disbelief: only one in four Muslims believes that extremist Islamic views are held by any Muslim anywhere.

Every previous opinion poll among native British people has shown that the overwhelming majority is convinced that the 9/11 attacks were the work of Al Q’aeda. And every non-Muslim living in Britain knows that there are extremist Islamic views, leading to acts of terrorism: for we have all seen these crimes enacted on our streets and in our tube trains.

A group of people who refuse to believe known facts is not accurately described as “fully integrated”:  more appropriate phrases would be “lunatic fringe” and “in denial.”

I have one question to Muslims living in our country: If you say you wish “to integrate fully” into mainstream British society, then why don’t you?

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26 Nov

How to get on the telly

What’s the best qualification to get to appear on TV? Certainly, to be a young woman with large breasts – or, in the case of Ed Balls, a middle aged man with the same. Belonging to a rock band might get you on BBC4. I remember when that channel was opened, the BBC advertised it as “a place to think.” Well, they’ve given up thinking now as some evenings – particularly Fridays – are given over entirely to pop music. You could change your career and become a supermodel or a Premiership footballer. If all else fails, try dressing yourself up and pretending to be David Attenborough or Stephen Fry.

None of these devices – not even the last – is guaranteed to work.

There is, however, one foolproof route to success: have one of your relatives murdered. It helps if it’s a teenage son or daughter or a devoted husband in his forties.

There have been a few successes using this method this week alone, but respect for the dead and sympathy for the bereaved forbids mention of their names.

You would think that after such a grievous loss, the bereaved relative would wish most of all for privacy, to be left alone to reflect, even to pray, and to try to come to terms with the terrible event. That’s what used to happen. But now we live in the days prophesied by Andy Warhol when “Everyone is famous for fifteen minutes.”

After the verdict is announced, the fulminating widow appears outside the court and denounces “the scumbag” who killed her husband, whom she describes as “my rock.”

Or the grieving father faces the TV cameras beside “a roadside shrine” and describes his eight year old daughter – murdered by an “animal” – as “lovely bubbly.”

All these televised grievers have completely mastered the psychobabble that the media requires. the verdict has all;owed them to “achieve closure” and so now they can “move on.”

There is something inappropriate, mawkish and frankly creepy about all this. Grief is not a suitable subject for display and publicity. And the best way to assuage your grief is by not advertising it.

Kierkegaard said, “There is a sign in Copenhagen which forbids spitting in the street. I wish there were a similar prohibition on sentimentality.”

But in our blatant therapeutic culture, fame trumps all.

I think it was Anthony Burgess who commented that the highest accolade of our times is “You woz on the telly!”

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02 Nov

Our glorious diversity

I’m not sure how well the engineering industries are doing in Britain today, but social engineering is thriving. Professors Ted Cantle and Eric Kaufmann have produced a report showing that in some urban areas the white population has more than halved in twenty years.

Some of the largest declines were in Slough, where the white population fell from 58.3% to 34.5%; in Birmingham, where it decreased from 65.6% to 53.1%; and in Leicester, where it declined from 60.5% to 45.1%. In the London borough of Newham, whites make up only 16.7%.

The study found even more marked changes when it examined the figures at ward level. In one part of the Blackburn and Darwen authority area, only 7.8% of the population was white British, down from 42.3% in 1991.Smaller council areas in Birmingham saw declines from 40.4% to 11.2% in Small Heath and from 30.7% to 7.2% in Handsworth. This trend was repeated in parts of Bradford, Luton and in many London boroughs.

Professor Cantle said, “White people are leaving urban areas in disproportionate numbers – and they avoid moving to diverse areas when they do move. But we can’t say that is white flight because the motivations are many and various.”

Oddly, Professor Cantle proceeded to contradict himself, admitting that interviews he had carried out in recent years as part of the study had highlighted a sense among some white British people that the area they had lived in was “no longer for them.”

In one case a community cohesion officer in Yorkshire told Cantle he was the first Asian to move into a particular street and that within three years virtually every white British family had gone. “Some of those families made no bones about it. They said they are moving out because ‘they’ are moving in.”

Professor Cantle told The Guardian that politicians must urgently tackle this increasing ethnic polarisation:

“White British families should be encouraged to remain in ethnically-diverse areas in order to reverse the trend and to choose, rather than avoid, diverse areas when they do relocate. White families should also be encouraged to make similar choices with respect to placing pupils in diverse schools; in other words, they should be encouraged to create a positive choice for mixed areas and a shared society.”

In his book The Islamic Republic of Dewsbury, Danny Lockwood offers a different explanation for these huge movements of local populations. Having lived in that part of Yorkshire all his life, Mr Lockwood is also an experienced journalist, the owner and publisher of The Press, a weekly newspaper in nearby Batley. He knows what he is talking about. In his book, he describes in precise detail how “they” move in and, by relentless attrition, street by street, intimidate the white population until their lives become intolerable and they leave.

He describes his book as, “The story of a cultural revolution and social decay in the once-proud Yorkshire mill town of Dewsbury and a chronicle of more than twenty years of failed multi-culturalism.”

This experience is not confined to Dewsbury, but replicated in all the districts and boroughs studied in Cantle’s and Kaufmann’s report. I heard a similar story when I was Rector of St Michael’s, Cornhill in the City of London. One day in the barber’s, I asked him, “D’you still walk to work in the mornings?”

He replied, “It would be a long walk from Epping Forest!”

“But I thought you lived just down the road in Tower Hamlets?”

“Used to, but we moved out. Wife and daughters insulted in the street – and worse. Threats. Violence. Other stuff you don’t want to hear about. Nearly all my neighbours have moved out as well. Life is much better in the Forest.”

Cantle and Kaufmann say that people such as my barber and white residents of the multiracial districts they discuss should stay where they are. But why should they stay and suffer intimidation?

To me, the most interesting fact about multiculturalism and glorious diversity is that the metropolitan elite who engineered it tend not to choose to live in such areas themselves.

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28 Oct

All in the mind?

The prevailing wind is a westerly. That’s why we get so much muck blown over from the USA. The current bit of muck is Halloween. This was never popularly observed until comparatively recently and in one sense it epitomises our infantilisation. It demonstrates the truth of G.K. Chesterton’s remark: “When men stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing; they believe in anything.” It says much about the sort of society we are when, instead of celebrating All Saints’ Day on 1st November, we keep Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve) the night before.

Some Roman Catholics and many Evangelical Christians become very exercised by this celebration of Halloween and warn that it can lead to the worship and glorification of evil. I suppose in a few extreme cases it could, but the real purpose of this “festival” is to make a lot of money out of it by selling masks, costumes and other such tat – as with that other fatuity, Fathers’ Day.

It’s gormless – but no more gormless than the countless celebrations of gormlessness that we go in for these days in our dumbed-down junk culture. For instance, this morning there was a serious discussion between supposed adults on The Today Programme about emojis – those silly faces and doodles which people append to their communications on the varieties of antisocial media. Particularly puerile was the fact that they were talking about designing emojis for older people. So there was one with bingo numbers for eyes and another with a reprimanding stare. is that what oldies do, then: get their heads down in the bingo hall and look up again to scowl at their neighbours?

Our infantilisation is now surely complete.

But there is something nasty about even a pretend celebration of the dark powers – whether you believe that devils exist or not. What certainly exists – and exists very powerfully – is the human imagination. And it is but a short step from pretend to reality – as we notice when violent images watched on TV stir up some people to go out and commit violence in real life. Only last week, a teenage girl was so distressed by a horror series she watched on TV that she did away with herself.

Why can’t people get it into their head that mental events are  real?

St Augustine taught that psychological reality is spiritual reality and moral reality. He said that, if you want to acquire a particular virtue – say kindness – you should pretend that you have this virtue already. Try doing little acts of kindness and you will gradually become a kind person: in the same way that (given a fair wind) you will be able to play the piano if you practise for long enough. Augustine, the master psychologist, actually said, “You must become a hypocrite.” Hypocrite is the old Greek word for an actor.

Be careful which parts you act out then. Choose warily the stuff you want to pretend or to practise.

Be careful what you wish for – you might get it!

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27 Oct

Something glorious in the state of Denmark

D’you think we might borrow the Queen of Denmark? Would the gracious lady consent to come and speak to our political leaders – most suitably perhaps in the House of Lords?

In a book, compiled with the Danish journalist Thomas Larsen, Queen Margarethe said that migrants arriving from south east Asia had “prospered”, but those coming from the Middle East “have had a hard time finding their rhythm in Denmark.” 

And she admitted that the sheer scale of the new arrivals seen across Europe over the last eighteen months had changed her views on immigration which, as a young woman in the 1960s, she and other Danes saw as “exciting.” 

Speaking about the cultural values some migrants bring with them, she said: “We cannot pretend that it wears off by itself. It won’t. Many of us thought that people who come to a strange place are a kind of a blotting paper that absorbs everything new.

“The task becomes harder, however, when so many people having various backgrounds and a particular religion arrive at once. They risk isolating themselves regardless of their will.” 

Queen Margarethe, who ascended the throne of Denmark in 1972, pronounced a scathing verdict on today’s EU politicians whom she accused of betraying European values in the name of political correctness: “If you can’t formulate what you stand for, it is hard to tell others about it. It needs to be worked on and every once in a while you need to put your foot down with somebody and say ‘Hey! That won’t do’.”

The Queen of Denmark’s views on immigration are the same as those of most people in Britain – with the exception of our political leaders. Most of us would say that immigrants (in manageable numbers) are welcome, on the condition that they don’t implant an alien and antipathetic religion and culture on our country. Generations of immigrants have, for the most part, adopted our British way of life and customs: Jews, West Indians and Poles have integrated happily and successfully. Hindus in particular have made a wonderful contribution to our national life. I was a schoolteacher in Bolton, Lancashire when the tyrant Idi Amin threw out the Asians from Uganda. Their business people revitalised the town’s economy and greatly improved the functions of local politics and civic life. The Hindu children attended my daily Christian assemblies.

They did not do as so many Muslim immigrants into Britain have done: intimidate the locals until they move out, and so create ghettos where they practise a parallel system of jurisdiction. It is many years now since Bishop Michael Nazir Ali warned our politicians and senior churchmen that there are indeed many Muslim ghettos in this country.

Our politicians and bishops didn’t want to know. They have betrayed the British people and stoked up a social cataclysm. The opposite of integration is disintegration – and sooner than you think. 

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15 Oct

Progressively worse

Hillary Clinton is promising “a progressive presidency.” I was wondering what this piece of jargon might mean when happily I received a clue – from the horse’s mouth, you might say.

Emails between two of Mrs Clinton’s closest colleagues have been made public. John Podesta, chairman of the Clinton campaign, and Sandy Newman, president and founder of the campaign group Voices for Progress, have disparaged what they refer to as “Catholic Middle Ages teachings.”  

Why, when modern types seek especially to denounce a particular viewpoint, do they refer to it as of the Middle Ages or Medieval?

Some of the most profound philosophical and theological thought was gifted to Europe and the world by Medieval churchmen. Adapting Plato and Aristotle, they established a system of logic and enunciated fundamental presuppositions of rational thought which, despite the efforts of 17th and 18th century detractors, continue to provide a basis for metaphysics and epistemology. Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Anselm and Francis Bacon were among the clearest and most imaginative thinkers of any historical period. It is no overstatement to say that such men as these created modern Europe. And their creation was embodied in the founding of the first universities, the great cathedrals, schools, hospitals, the beginnings of western music in Gregorian plainchant and that near-miraculous administrative instrument, the parish.

These were only some of the achievements of an age so contemptuously sneered at as “Medieval.”   

Another of Hillary’s “progressives,” John Newman, wrote: “There needs to be a Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a Middle Ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic church.”

But Christendom was not a dictatorship. It provided a decent set of political liberties. If it’s dictators you’re looking for, John, look no further than your cherished “progressive” modernity: Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot. No “Medieval dictatorship” slaughtered human beings on a scale anywhere approaching the genocides committed by those men – who were fervent atheists, by the way. And there were more people killed in the wars of the “progressive” 20th century than in all previous wars put together

In another email, John Halpin of the Centre for American Progress mocked the conservatism of Catholics, especially converts: “They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy.”

It is difficult to attach any meaning to a statement as clumsy and convoluted as that, but I think we get the gist.

Medieval Christianity at least provided some practical guidance for our discerning of what is right from what is wrong – which the moral and social squalor of absolute ethical relativism cannot do. No doubt the practice of chastity is arduous, but the “progressive” alternative is unspeakable: every person, regardless of their, “gender” an opportunity for casual sexual gratification and millions of the unborn ripped untimely from the womb simply because people are sexually incontinent.

Listen – Hillary, John and Sandy – to words written by T.S. Eliot in 1934:

“Why should men love the Church? Why should they love her laws? She tells them of Life and death, and of all that they would forget. She is tender were they would be hard, and hard were they like to be soft. She tells them of Evil and Sin, and other unpleasant facts. They constantly try to escape from the darkness outside and within, by dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.”

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