BegumAlthough a phrase that has become more commonplace in recent years where desperate Z-list celebrities and even the living rooms of plebs on the telly are concerned, ‘makeover’ has nonetheless been a routine PR tool in showbiz circles ever since the dawn of mass media. Hollywood effectively wrote the manual, formulating a familiar device to extend careers as Tinsel Town’s leading ladies received makeovers via the magic of the lighting men on set, keeping the ageing process at bay before excessive cosmetic surgery found a way to do it for them. In the 21st century, most post-Madonna female pop stars seem to ‘get sexy’ when seeking to re-launch their fading stock, and squeaky-clean members of clean-cut boy-bands usually embark on solo careers by forgetting to shave whilst suddenly acquiring a Maori-like range of tattoos, supposedly to signify ‘street cred’ – all examples of the makeover in action. Turd-polishers have never had it so good these days, though I would imagine even the most experienced would have faced an unusually tough challenge when entrusted with transforming a Jihadi bride into a sexy R&B siren.

Okay, so the team behind Shamima Begum’s makeover didn’t exactly team her up with Jay-Z and persuade her to filter her vocals through the tiresome Auto-tune machinery; but there was no mistaking the look Ms Begum’s posse were aiming for when she resurfaced shorn of her regulation burqa, dressed in the style most girls her age would have seamlessly slipped into had they not had their adolescence disrupted by signing-up to an Islamic death cult. Sure, Shamima had followed a not-uncommon path by becoming a teenage mother, even if the grotesque circumstances and tragic outcome of her brief parenthood singled her out from her contemporaries. But a large part of the campaign to regain her British citizenship was a cleverly-orchestrated effort aimed at portraying Shamima Begum as ‘just’ an ordinary girl via her dress sense, not to mention rebranding her as that most profitable personality in the current celebrity firmament, the Victim.

As befitting someone seeking rehabilitation in the eyes of the general public following such widespread and extreme demonisation, Shamima Begum has been embraced by the left-leaning quarters of the MSM, with the usual suspects queuing-up to declare their support; the BBC even gave her a platform to state her case with a podcast. Their argument is that, as an impressionable 15-year-old at the time of her conversion to ISIS and her flight to Syria, Shamima Begum was essentially ‘trafficked’ and didn’t know what she was letting herself in for; by the time it belatedly dawned on her what her role in the Jihadi hierarchy amounted to, it was too late. Of course, teenage girls going astray and running away from home is hardly a scenario unique to this day and age, though the majority of young ladies who do so tend to be either in search of the bright lights or have fallen under the spell of a bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Joining an organisation whose…erm…negative elements had been heavily publicised at the time of Shamima Begum’s conversion, leaving her comfortable Western home to relocate to a war-zone, doesn’t really adhere to the standard pattern.

I recall penning a post on this subject four or five years back and the arguments haven’t really changed in the wake of the latest legal ruling that has ruled out Shamima Begum returning to the UK. As I said back then, ISIS were well-known as barbaric mass-murderers when they encroached upon Shamima Begum’s radar, so it’s not as though she could claim absolute ignorance of their aims and intentions, even if her tender years perhaps lacked the nous to see through the romantic Islamic imagery they no doubt employed to entice new recruits. And even if she was still a schoolgirl, Shamima Begum nevertheless managed to organise and successfully undertake an escape to Turkey, which suggests she possessed the kind of intelligence and skills in excess of most 15-year-olds, many of whom find keeping their bedrooms tidy a Herculean task way beyond their abilities. Shamima Begum demonstrated she was exceptionally talented in organisational terms, and this is where the ‘grooming’ narrative favoured by her supporters doesn’t necessarily hold up. Certainly, she was seduced by the Dark Web propaganda of ISIS in the same way the perpetrators of US high-school massacres are tipped over the edge by far-right websites; but one could argue the environment in which Shamima Begum was raised had primed her to respond in the way she did to this propaganda as much as troubled teens surrounded by a normalised gun culture respond to white supremacist dogma in America. Shamima Begum had grown up in a ‘multicultural’ society that had repeatedly left immigrant communities to their own devices for fear of racism accusations, a situation of separatist faith schools and in-house policing that led to the turning of blind eyes to grooming gangs on one hand and the easy radicalisation of vulnerable adolescents by unscrupulous hate-preachers on the other.

If one looks at the Shamima Begum saga from this angle, then it’s hard not to conclude she is indeed a victim; but does that excuse her actions or warrant what effectively amounts to a pardon? The newest setback to her rehabilitation has come via a court ruling upholding the decision of then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid to strip Shamima Begum of her UK citizenship in 2019. That decision was made on the grounds that Ms Begum posed a threat to British security should she be allowed to return from the Syrian refugee camp she’s been detained in for the past five years. The Special Immigration Appeals Commission essentially came to the same findings as last time round in 2020; Mr Justice Jay announced the Commission’s position with an acknowledgement that the circumstances of Shamima Begum are far from being the straightforward issue both her supporters and detractors are keen to paint it as being.

‘This commission concluded there was a credible suspicion that Ms Begum had been trafficked to Syria,’ said Justice Jay. ‘The motive for bringing her to Syria was sexual exploitation to which, as a child, she could not give her valid consent. The commission also concluded that there were arguable breaches of duty on the part of various state bodies in permitting Ms Begum to leave the country as she did and eventually cross the border from Turkey into Syria.’ The Judge went on to state that Sajid Javid’s decision to strip Shamima Begum of her British nationality remained founded in genuine security concerns that even the trafficking aspect of the story didn’t render redundant. ‘There is some merit in the argument that those advising the secretary of state see this as a black and white issue,’ he added, ‘when many would say that there are shades of grey…if asked to evaluate all the circumstances of Ms Begum’s case, reasonable people with knowledge of all the relevant evidence will differ, in particular in relation to the issue of the extent to which her travel to Syria was voluntary and the weight to be given to that factor in the context of all others.’

It goes without saying that Shamima Begum’s legal team intend to fight on. They still stand by their belief that the decision of the Home Secretary in 2019 had left their client ‘de facto stateless’, with the counterargument by the British Government being that, as she was eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship, they weren’t legally required to retain her rights as a UK citizen anyway. The case for Shamima Begum to be recognised as a child exploitation victim is one that the likes of Amnesty International is also in favour of, and I’ve no doubt this sorry story is far from over. The current makeover of Shamima Begum appears to have faltered, but there are undoubtedly several makeovers yet to come; and as Ms Begum herself remains indefinitely detained in Syria, the question of how responsible the 23-year-old is for the actions of her 15-year-old self is still a potent one. We all have our teenage skeletons in our adult closets, but most are merely embarrassing fashion statements; if that were all Shamima Begum’s closet contained, she’d have been back home a long time ago.

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Iran 2Despite ‘The Sopranos’ and Scorsese movies, most Italian-Americans are not slaves to their inherited heritage, though they are selectively proud of it; like Irish-Americans, their affinity with an ancestral homeland they’re considerably distanced from by several generations and more than 100 years is really a sentimental ideal rather than something rooted in the lived experience of its realities. First and foremost, what they feel more than anything is American, probably because their immigrant forefathers didn’t want to be regarded as ‘others’; they wanted a piece of the American action and wanted to be integrated; their destination was a blank slate, unlike the homeland that had evidently offered them nothing. Some initially clung to the comfort blanket of the culture they’d left behind, but this gradually shifted into the background, only occasionally exhumed for a sporting event or a saint’s day. Descendants of Jewish communities in the US and over here have undergone a similar transformation; they too followed the same pattern, with each successive generation one further step away from those who coped with an alien environment by seeking solace in the religious symbolism, the mother tongue, and – perhaps the most enduring legacy – the food.

Likewise, distinctive dishes remain one of the most notable elements of a West Indian culture that has survived amongst a community with deep roots in the UK stretching back to the first decade after the War. The original pioneers of all these groups, but particularly the Afro-Caribbean, often found their new countries bewildering and occasionally hostile places to settle, yet they were eventually absorbed into their chosen home to the point whereby their children and grandchildren are today as native as the descendants of the indigenous population. Indeed, all the examples given could be regarded as ‘multicultural success stories’, for however strong the romanticised image of the original homeland remained as a badge of identity, it was to be gradually superseded in significance by the new society in which the first wave fought hard to have a stake. Slang has sometimes been adopted as a verbal nod to the old country, albeit purloined and twisted by youth; and sub-Jamaican patois eventually morphed into the standard lingo of adolescents of all colours attempting to cultivate a ‘street’ image, the one mercilessly parodied in the comic creation of Ali G. Innit.

Nevertheless, the rise of the hardest-working immigrants and their offspring up a social ladder to eventual acceptance succeeded because it eschewed ghettoisation, isolation and separatism. Sure, keep those cherished relics of granddad’s birthplace up in the attic or in the memory, but don’t weaponise them and let them hold you back from being a contributor to the society he fought to be a member of; instead, let those artefacts and those oral stories serve to show you how far you’ve come. That, surely, is what multiculturalism should mean? Not social apartheid, with self-contained, cocooned communities cut off from their neighbours of different races, inhabiting an imaginary facsimile of the homeland most have never lived in, having little or no contact with anyone beyond that community and being patted on the head by the white middle-classes for being so wonderfully ‘ethnic’.

The ‘Muslim Community’ is such a ghastly, catch-all term that lumps together many disparate groups who happen to share the same faith (regardless of its myriad forms), though it tends to operate in one context where the ruling cultural and political elite are concerned. And Muslims of a certain strain are the adopted pets of the elite – infantilised victims forever at the receiving end of this hideous, institutionally racist country that immigrants from numerous Muslim nations mysteriously decide to set up home in. Don’t even think about integrating to the point whereby you can progress all the way to holding one of the four Great Offices of State like a socially mobile opportunist! Stay in your lane.

What may well begin in cosseted faith schools and end in the industrialised grooming and raping of vulnerable ‘white trash’ children has been left to fester due to fear – fear harboured by the graduates of a system now entrusted with authority and reluctant to enforce it. Events in Leicester last weekend – and the East Midlands city itself is often held up as a multicultural success story by the usual suspects – showed the consequences of turning a blind eye. The kind of ancient sectarian hatred that has scarred the Indian Subcontinent for centuries – or has indeed done likewise via a different religion just across the Irish Sea – has now boiled over in the middle of England, with gangs of young Hindus and Muslims clashing like Mods and Rockers with God on their side. As police seemingly stood by and declined to intervene, the multicultural fantasy of the chattering classes went up in flames that have been fanned by decades of non-interference and appeasement.

Added to the combustible mix is a divisive dose of Identity Politics, whereby a single (and usually irrelevant) characteristic of the individual is multiplied across the group and thereafter utterly defines them all as one homogenous racial tribe pitted against another. And if it’s reported at all by the MSM, it’s seen through the manufactured prism of Islamophobia, with good guys (Muslims) being victimised by bad guys (Hindus). Ironic in a week which saw the majority of the nation feel more united than it has in a long time that this ugly side-effect of Identitarian separatism should erupt. Moreover, it’s equally ironic that this desecration of a cornerstone of the Woke manifesto should come at a moment when an actual Islamic State is seeing an angry uprising against the symbols of oppression the Guardianistas refuse to countenance as dehumanising at all. Young Muslim women are cutting their hair and burning the hijab, and they’re doing this on social media sites for all of Iran to see.

What sparked this wave of incredibly brave protest against the strictest interpretation of Islam’s doctrines was the death in ‘morality police’ custody of 22-year-old Masha Amini, who was arrested in Tehran for the heinous crime of displaying her hair in a public place. Within hours of being arrested, Amini’s State captors informed her family she’d fallen into a coma following a ‘heart attack’ and had been hospitalised; within three days, a perfectly healthy young woman with no history of heart trouble was dead. One imagines this is not an uncommon occurrence in Iran, yet the sudden death of Masha Amini has ignited tensions that have been simmering for a long time; dissatisfaction with severe measures that uphold Iran’s brand of Islam as dictated by the country’s rulers seemingly needed one grotesque incident to provoke civil unrest – and Iran now has it. Upwards of a dozen people have been killed during these violent street protests; riot police have opened fire on protestors, yet still the female population of a country that views them as second-class citizens are defying the weight of the State and tossing their hijabs en masse onto bonfires. One would think the democratic land of the free that is the West would celebrate and support this valiant rebellion against the ultimate repressive regime, no?

Well, unlike the disproportionate response to the admittedly brutal killing of a career criminal by a Minneapolis policeman, there have been no widespread Western protests over the death of Masha Amini or symbolic gestures of solidarity with the fearless female rebels of Iran; no, you won’t see footballers taking the knee for Masha or wearing shirts with Amini’s face plastered all over them. Sadly, unlike George Floyd – whose death nicely chimed with the Woke ‘White Supremacist’ narrative – Masha Amini was the ‘wrong’ kind of victim and the rigid league table of the Oppression Olympics doesn’t recognise the hijab as something that suppresses women’s rights, just like the misogyny of extreme Trans activism isn’t acknowledged. The twisted logic of the dogma in which all our institutions are indoctrinated is confronted by an insoluble conundrum when it comes to events in Iran, hence all those heads currently buried in the sand. One would like to think evidence all the way from Tehran to Leicester would highlight the gaping holes in the argument; but don’t hold your breath. Or burn your hijab.

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Book BurningA painfully prescient quote from Salman Rushdie appeared on Twitter yesterday – ‘The moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible.’ I’ve no idea how old this quote is, but it’s reasonable to assume it was written in the long shadow cast by the fatwa of 1989. Since that groundbreaking moment of intolerance on the part of an entire State, intolerance towards freedom of both thought and speech, whereby any individual expressing an opinion deemed ‘wrong’ is fair game to be brought to heel by whatever means are at their opponents’ disposal, has filtered down to the masses, facilitated and fuelled by the ubiquitous social media that didn’t exist when Rushdie wrote ‘The Satanic Verses’ in 1988. Previously, a novelist in the West faced potential censure from publishers or book stores if they penned a work regarded as ‘controversial’, yet having a price placed on their head by the Islamic Mafiosi running Iran was a new development; just as the 1570 declaration of Pope Pius V that Queen Elizabeth I was a ‘heretic’ gave the green light to radical Catholics of the 16th century, the edict issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini five months after the publication of Rushdie’s novel not only placed the writer’s life in peril, it legitimised violent reprisals on the part of any mental fundamentalist if they felt their outrage was justifiable.

Amongst numerous other atrocities committed over the past two or three decades, the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ massacre of 2015 can be traced back to the 1989 fatwa, providing yet one more extreme example of how the offended believe they are entitled to exact revenge to ease their offence. At the other end of the scale, Hollywood bigwig Will Smith felt similarly entitled to stroll up to comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars in the middle of his routine and sock him on the jaw simply because he didn’t like what the comic was saying about his missus. In comparison to the serious attempt on Salman Rushdie’s life at an event in New York State yesterday, Smith’s petulant punch seems trivial, yet both he and the lunatic who stabbed Rushdie and left him in a critical condition felt their actions were justified because they’d been offended. Where that leaves either a vulnerable novelist or a comedian when alone on stage, self-censoring their freedom of expression for fear an audience member might take offence at something they say and then leap onstage wielding a weapon or a fist, is worrying when a belief in one’s own self-righteous entitlement has spread from the ivory towers of a hardline Islamic regime to any disgruntled member of the public. An unpleasant precedent has been set.

It may be a blink in the eye of the elephantine memories of Radical Islamists – after all, that has a vintage of centuries – but 33 years have now passed since the Ayatollah delivered his death sentence on Salman Rushdie in absentia; therefore, the understandable security precautions that were taken in the early days of the author’s exile from polite society have been largely relaxed since. A famous story emanating from those days concerns a visit from celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, who was cooking a meal for Rushdie when said foodstuff ‘exploded’ in the oven, causing Rushdie to dive under the sofa in a manner reminiscent of citizens sheltering from the Blitz. It’s no wonder he was jumpy. Various people associated with his most notorious novel have met far worse fates in the last 30-odd years, and Rushdie naturally figured he was through the worst; he even parodied his situation on an episode of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’, when Larry David sought advice as he went into hiding following his announcement he intended to produce a musical based on the fatwa. Unfortunately, that joke isn’t funny anymore.

The Iranian Government has distanced itself from the Ayatollah’s decree since around 1998, though so far-reaching was the initial proclamation that the growth of Radical Islamist networks and various terrorist collectives this century has meant the message has never really gone away; there was even a bounty of $3 million offered by an Iranian religious foundation in 2012, meaning Rushdie has continued to exercise a degree of caution when it comes to public speaking. It’s interesting that the provocative burning of books on British streets in certain cities with a large Muslim population first became a regular sight in the wake of the furore surrounding ‘The Satanic Verses’, as did the appearance of those openly advocating the assassination of Rushdie on British television without being challenged – including the otherwise moderate Muslim convert Yusuf Islam, AKA singer Cat Stevens; these stunts went unpunished by police reluctant to be accused of racism.

One might say the inaction of authorities then has left a devastating legacy in the UK since; everything from the terrorist cells responsible for appalling carnage in London and Manchester in the 2010s to turning a blind eye to the insidious ‘grooming gangs’ in Rochdale to the teacher in Batley whose school was besieged by the local Muslim Gestapo in 2020 and remains in hiding due to a glaring absence of support from teaching unions – there’s a direct connection stretching all the way back to failure to act in 1989. Even the response of some of Rushdie’s fellow creative artists at the time saw the debut of the kind of gutless self-preservation that has subsequently become a hallmark of the artistic fraternity during the age of ‘cancel culture’, with even fewer prepared to stand up and be counted when the online hounds are unleashed to silence any artist who has dared to venture an opinion contrary to the consensus. Silence is compliance when one of your own is under threat; and the misguided solidarity shown towards a terrorist organisation like Hamas by the far-left in the West merely because their arch-enemy is Israel – remember ‘Queers for Palestine’? – is another risible strain of this; I’m just wondering how the Pride flag-waving zealots will react when the next World Cup is held in a Middle Eastern autocracy where freedom of expression is effectively outlawed – ‘Queers for Qatar’?

According to police, Salman Rushdie was poised to speak at the large outdoor amphitheatre at the Chautauqua Institution in New York State on the ironic topic of artistic freedom when a man ran on stage and stabbed him in the neck and torso; the attacker was swiftly – if belatedly – apprehended by security and Rushdie was rushed to hospital by helicopter. He is currently on a ventilator after surgery, with the author’s spokesperson telling the press that ‘Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.’ The culprit was arrested and is apparently sympathetic to the Iranian Government; if the attack was fatwa-influenced, the Iranian Government he’s seemingly sympathetic to must be the one of 1989, but Radical Islamists tend to live in the past so perhaps that’s no great revelation. I suppose the fact Salman Rushdie was one of the first artists to be exposed to the unhinged wrath of extreme opponents to the foundation stone of Western democracies means this grotesque attack coming at a time when everyone is susceptible to assault if they dare to speak their mind gives it the grim feel of a full circle being reached.

Voltaire’s famous quote on freedom of speech tends to be exhumed for paraphrasing yet again at moments such as this, even if many who spout about freedom of speech don’t necessarily live by Voltaire’s words; for far too many today, free speech is fine as long as it chimes with one’s own opinions; when it doesn’t, it’s deserving of censure, either by organising an online campaign of vile trolldom or going one further, as the head-case who attacked Rushdie did. If hate crime exists at all, surely something like this is the most barbaric example of it, not misgendering some delicate non-binary nitwit on Twitter. As a human being suffering such a brutal attack, one hopes Salman Rushdie survives it; as an increasingly-rare artist advocating freedom of thought, speech and expression, it’s absolutely vital he does.

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VicarPhase One: The Pandemic; Phase Two: Climate Change; and now, Phase Three: Our old friend, Terrorism. There’s plenty out there to maintain a state of panic, and the Islamist branch of the terrorist business has never gone away; it’s merely been marginalised by the musical chairs of Project Fear. But its turn has come again – first with the murder of MP Sir David Amess and then last weekend with an intended attack that was aborted outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital. Mind you, you wouldn’t necessarily know this was an Islamist attack if you’ve followed the story on the MSM. ‘Don’t mention Islam’ has become the contemporary version of ‘Don’t mention the War’; Islam appears to be the most offensive swear word of all in the aftermath of every incident of this nature now – the word that patently ought to be said, yet won’t be by police or media.

The linguistic gymnastics performed when it comes to statements made following each such assault on home soil is laughable when the missing word is the most conspicuous elephant in the room. This ludicrous avoidance also stretches into Parliament, where the entire horrific event wasn’t considered a significant enough issue for MPs to raise during PMQ’s, apparently; perhaps the ‘I’ word might have had to be mentioned. Imagine if, during the IRA’s mainland bombing campaign of the mid-70s, mainstream news reports had focused on the ‘mental health issues’ of the Republicans perpetrating the atrocities in Birmingham and Guildford, and neither police, press, television or radio mentioned the word ‘Irish’. It would’ve been utterly ridiculous, yet this is essentially the manner of the reportage that has accompanied the last couple of high profile incidents both caused by asylum seekers who came to this country from overseas war zones rooted in Jihadi rhetoric and were sufficiently enamoured of their adopted country to slaughter its citizens.

The fact a man trying to gain asylum in England for seven years was apparently attempting to detonate a bomb at Liverpool Cathedral on Remembrance Sunday suggests someone not entirely converted to the British way of life. Thanks to the quick thinking courage of the cabbie whose taxi the wannabe bomber was travelling in, a bloodbath was averted – though the failed Jihadist blew himself to smithereens right outside a maternity hospital, which is a gruesome enough spectacle, if not quite the spectacle the bomber anticipated. But, however much the reality seems to have been twisted into a less incendiary narrative, the terror alert has still been raised as a consequence of last weekend’s events; and now we have to be ‘vigilant’ (the PM’s word) when it comes to mentally-ill Christians. That’s what Emad al-Swealmeen was, of course.

Anyone still desperate enough to claim asylum in the wake of rejection will grab at anything offering the promise of such a decision being reversed. Step forward the Church of England. In a move that is hopelessly naive at best and downright dangerous at worst, the state religion has been converting Muslims that the Home Office doesn’t regard as a safe bet for residency in the hope that the conversion will convince the authorities to let them stay – regardless of the reservations that prompted the application being turned down, as was the case with the Liverpool bomber in 2014. This practice, which has been taking place largely under the radar for several years, has seen hundreds of asylum seekers signing up to the faith in the belief it will secure British citizenship. Sorry, but I can’t help thinking of the Python sketch in which Adolph (AKA Mr ‘Hilter’) and his inner circle are hiding out in a seaside B&B, plotting their comeback at the Minehead by-election whilst posing as Brits – ‘Ah, yes! Bobby Charlton! Chip and fish on the Piccadilly Line!’

Emad al-Swealmeen’s 2017 conversion to Christianity took place at the very same seat of worship that seems to have been his intended target last Sunday. At least this enabled security forces investigating the incident to claim the motive for the attack ‘remained unclear’; yeah, why would a ‘Christian’ be en route to a Christian church on a Sunday carrying an explosive device? It’s one hell of a mystery. The Church of England interfering in the asylum process seems to be an extension of the Left’s ring-fencing of Muslims as their favourite oppressed pets, and whenever one of their pets lets the side down by attempting the occasional massacre it f***s up the narrative to such an extent that we end up with the frankly mind-boggling kind of retarded reporting we’ve received over this particular case, which is akin to the turning-a-blind-eye excuses aired in the midst of Stalin’s purges during the 30s.

Not unlike the way in which members of the SS tried to avoid capture by disguising themselves as prisoners when the death camps were liberated at the end of WWII, the more extremist factions of Islam make allowances for the ambitious Jihadist to blend in with the enemy by adopting his faith and convincing him all thoughts of Jihad have been expunged by Jesus. Emad al-Swealmeen had arrived here without a passport and posed as a Syrian refugee before it was discovered he was actually from Iraq; in order to bolster his appeal following asylum rejection, he embarked upon the Alpha Course, a five-week induction into the Christian faith that the asylum seeker evidently reckons looks better on their file. Well-meaning do-gooders working to assist asylum seekers – some, though not all, connected to the Church – are undoubtedly helpful to genuine applicants with genuine grounds for asylum, but it’s inevitable that their best intentions and naivety are going to be exploited by charlatans and those with a less benign aim in mind. The shocked and surprised reactions of those who’d assisted al-Swealmeen in his ‘conversion’ spoke volumes as to just how wilfully in denial these people are.

The ‘lone wolf’ storyline seems to be the familiar plot we’re being fed, portraying the bomber as a mentally disturbed individual operating in a vacuum, placing emphasis on his spell being sectioned after an incident involving a knife. Yet, one wonders if he really was a solo artist; someone permanently appealing against the decision to reject an asylum application and presumably claiming some form of state benefit is hardly in a strong financial position, which makes one wonder how he could afford to rent a second flat that appears to have been used as his secret bomb factory. Hard to believe he didn’t have some assistance, really – but don’t expect any great revelation. The ‘open borders’ mantra, one that doesn’t distinguish between economic migrants, refugees fleeing persecution or wannabe Jihadists, remains the main jingle when it comes to the majority of Westminster, and it’s a policy that can never weed out the bad apples and ensure only those with a genuine case get through. It seems like a recipe for disaster on paper, and in practice it’s pretty much proven to be so.

However, you probably won’t hear many air that opinion in the MSM; and the problem with a ‘don’t go there’ taboo is that no proper discussion or debate can then take place, leaving it to fall into the laps of extremists from the other side whilst those who have manipulated the scheme can plot away undisturbed. The abuse of the system has not gone unnoticed, but it takes two to abuse it. Priti Patel herself railed against it earlier this week. ‘It’s a complete merry-go-round,’ she said. ‘And it’s been exploited. It has been exploited quite frankly by a whole professional legal services industry that has based itself on rights of appeal, going to the courts day in, day out at the expense of the tax-payer through legal aid.’ When it comes to blood on hands, it seems there’s plenty to go round. Amen.

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US EmbassyWhen one sees images of helicopters carrying the remaining American nationals from the US embassy to the airport in Kabul, it’s all-but impossible for anyone with any knowledge of past military follies to not see the evacuation of Saigon in 1975 all over again; the pictures of ignominious flight are all-but identical, despite the laughable denial of the White House. The skies above abandoned embassy compounds discoloured by smoke rising from the frantic burning of documents, and scenes of chaos as those who can get the hell out get the hell out are horribly familiar; one month short of 20 years since the event that embroiled America and its allies in Afghan affairs, any progress achieved in those tumultuous two decades was effectively wiped out in barely 24 hours as the capital of Afghanistan capitulated to the Taliban. The revitalised Islamic Mafiosi oozed such arrogance that they even paused to take in their triumph at the gates of Kabul as they encircled the city. They spoke of a peaceful transference of power, though promises of an amnesty for those who had worked for the deposed government have been greeted with valid scepticism, for it’s not as though the Taliban are an unknown quantity.

The sense of panic and dread on the streets for Afghan civilians in the nation’s capital as the Taliban approached the city with frightening speed has parallels not only with how it must have felt awaiting the arrival of the Vietnamese People’s Army in 1975 but the similarly tense anticipation of the incoming Khmer Rouge in neighbouring Cambodia that same year. How hard it is to put one’s self in those shoes when it’s so beyond the realm of lived experience on these islands. It’s something nobody in this country has come close to feeling since 1940 and it mercifully ended up not happening then after all. It’s sometimes difficult to relate to that feeling when no one has experienced it for real on British soil for almost a thousand years; it’s an utterly alien sensation, the kind one can only try to imagine with genuine horror. However, so commonplace is this sensation in many parts of the world, there must be an awful sense of déjà-vu for those old enough to remember the last time it happened in Afghanistan.

One of the main differences between the weekend’s events in Kabul and the ghosts it evokes is that, whereas the Communist North Vietnamese troops and Pol Pot’s forces were entering arenas they’d long craved but had never captured, the Taliban are the ambassadors of Afghanistan’s very own Groundhog Day. 20 years after US troops and the Northern Alliance chased them out of the capital, they’re back. A fragile political harmony in this precarious patchwork of a nation evaporated overnight as hundreds of Kabul’s citizens queued outside banks to withdraw their life savings; women who had got used to life without the burqa were desperately trying to get hold of one; the Afghan Army that Joe Biden confidently declared would hold back the Taliban once Western forces exited fell like the proverbial dominos; the country’s President Ashraf Ghani did a runner as his negotiations with warlords laid in tatters as one-by-one they too either fled or surrendered to the Taliban; and the roads out of Kabul were crammed with instant refugees to add to the hundreds already displaced by the Taliban’s race to the capital, refugees telling tales of Taliban atrocities as Afghan summertime is reset to 1996.

An important point, I guess, is that the Taliban don’t exist in a vacuum; without widespread support at home and in surrounding countries, they couldn’t have achieved what they’ve managed over the past couple of weeks. During their previous stint in charge, they banned music, dancing, cinema, painting and photography and relegated women to the status of infantilised property; and if some hadn’t missed living in this medieval theme park, the Taliban’s particular brand of ‘toxic masculinity’ wouldn’t be back in vogue. Then again, the Middle Eastern mindset tends to admire what it perceives as strength and despises what it perceives as weakness; there’d be no talk of an athlete’s ‘courage’ in running away in tears from the Olympics after a bad performance, vaguely citing mental health issues; that would be contemptuously viewed as the embodiment of weakness. The insular West busily undergoing a cultural crisis appears to have forgotten the rest of the world doesn’t think like we do, which is perhaps why the appeal of Putin to many Russians or that of the Taliban to many Muslims is so hard for many Westerners to get their heads around.

The leaders of Western nations who’d sacrificed hundreds of their countrymen’s lives to remake Afghanistan along democratic lines reacted to the situation with a series of spineless statements that barely disguised the dejection those nations feel when witnessing events in Kabul. Boris Johnson said, ‘It’s very important that the West collectively should work together to get over to that new government…nobody wants once again for Afghanistan to be a breeding ground for terror.’ And nobody in the West will be able to prevent it from becoming precisely that. But foreign investment in Afghanistan remains a vital component of its future – and the kind of foreign investment that has facilitated the current coup. For example, the Taliban has had a safe passage in and out of neighbouring Pakistan over the last 20 years – and without that it would arguably have been impossible for the organisation to regroup and rebuild to the point where they’ve been able to stage this admittedly stunning comeback in barely a fortnight.

One also shouldn’t overlook the support of Qatar either; indeed, this grotesque Absolute Monarchy was the location where the doomed Afghan government met with and tried to persuade the Taliban to stick their promises of an orderly transition of power, free from reprisals and ill-treatment of refugees. Now is probably an opportune moment to remember that this Arab autocracy and shining observer of human rights will be hosting the next World Cup. I wonder how many footballers quick to take the knee today will exhibit selective deafness on political issues as we approach 2022. Indeed, how many of them will echo the great Johan Cruyff’s principled refusal to play in the 1978 tournament because he opposed the Argentine military Junta? Nah, I’m not holding my breath either. Some are holding their breath and crossing their fingers right now, but I doubt if many women or girls in Afghanistan are; even those not born the last time the Taliban controlled the country will be aware that Sharia Law tends to single out the fairer sex for special treatment.

All those who were so eager to interpret the television adaptation of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ as some sort of parable for Trump’s America – even going so far as to don the distinctive Handmaid outfit at anti-Donald demonstrations – were in wilful denial that the one place on the planet where the fictional and brutal portrayal of female subjugation rang true was in a hardline Islamic state. The upcoming Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will see Margaret Atwood’s story play out in real time once again, but of course the Western luxury of being able to pick and choose one’s heroes and villains will turn a blind eye to the plight of women under the oppressive restrictions of the Caliphate because that doesn’t fit the narrative. Women as ministers in government? Well, that can be consigned to history for starters, as can virtually every other progressive step forward for women’s rights in Afghanistan, which was one of the few genuinely positive gains to have emerged from the post-Taliban era. Going, going…gone. Just like the Western expedition into an often ideologically unfathomable alien landscape where one man’s sunset is another’s sunrise.

© The Editor

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Dana InternationalWhen Richard Nixon famously proclaimed ‘I am not a crook’ in 1973, I’m pretty sure plenty people must have come to the conclusion that he was simply because he’d felt the need to declare his whiter-than-white credentials. Sure, the then-President of the USA’s standing was threatened by a break-in at a certain building in Washington, so he was keen to place considerable distance between himself and those guilty of trespassing on Democratic Party property; but whenever anybody has to over-emphasise something that should be a given, one cannot help but feel they have something to hide. The 21st century social media trend for adding the likes of ‘Anti-fascist’ to bios – as though the individual profiled would immediately be presumed a fascist unless they categorically stated they weren’t – seems to echo Nixon’s proclamation of innocence. Damning insults that were designed to accurately describe and denounce a particular philosophy have been so casually tossed around on the cultural battlefield in recent years that people are now compelled to declare everything they’re not before actually declaring what they are – though the speed with which they do so inevitably provokes suspicion.

The emphasising of specific racial, sexual and gender inheritances or preferences that are prized as defining characteristics when it comes to the Identity Politics worldview are sold as the ultimate non-prejudicial break with a past that supposedly judged people unfairly by placing them in separate, discriminatory groups – though it doesn’t take much of a genius to discern this is merely rearranging the furniture. The Identity Politics crowd bring their own prejudices to the table, and blackball manufacturers are one of the few booming industries at the moment as the list of cancelled parties is expanding by the day. Straight white men – or just white men in general – have been the demographic it’s okay to slate from day one, and straight women of any colour have become added to the death warrant as the insanity has accelerated courtesy of the ‘trans’ debate; a female student suspended from her course at a university in Soviet Scotland a couple of weeks ago – for the heresy of stating women have vaginas rather than penises – underlines yet again how ovaries are no longer security against cancellation.

Anybody with half-a-brain and a cursory knowledge of how these movements eventually descend into cannibalism saw this coming a long time ago, but those who sold their souls in the hope they’d be spared a visit from the Thought Police are now feeling the heat. The past few weeks have seen the Trojan horse of social justice exposed to a little more light and more of its unpleasant underbelly has been mercifully revealed in the process. The deliciously disastrous weekend tweet by a senior SNP official revelling in the UK’s nul points car-crash at the Eurovision by declaring ‘It’s OK, Europe – we hate the United Kingdom too’ lifted the lid once more on the narrow-minded bigotry at the rotten core of extremist Scottish nationalism, reminding us (as if we needed reminding) that, for all its touchy-feely Woke virtue-signalling, the SNP at its heart is no different from any other nasty nationalist movement.

And if evidence were required of the ‘emperor’s new clothes’ factor at play here, one needs to look no further than the issue of race. Anyone of black or ethnic persuasion who rejects the Identity Politics league table of oppression is guaranteed to incur the wrath of those who have a rigid system of oppressed/oppressor in place and don’t like to see it being undermined. As long as ‘People of Colour’ accept their permanent lowly status beneath the iconic white jackboot and don’t attempt to emancipate themselves, they’re worthy of a pat on the head; dare to challenge this regressive state of affairs and they’re fair game for being subjected to ugly racist insults as bad as anything that can be dreamt up at a KKK dinner party.

Just as the Corbynite wing of the Labour Party wants the workers to remain at the bottom of the pile, forever in need of a helping hand from privately-educated middle-class Marxists because it provides the latter with their raison d’être, the Identity Politics obsession with race gives plenty a purpose that makes getting up on a morning meaningful. It’s also stuck in the 18th century, only able to see black people in chains; residency of the moral high ground is dependent upon the preservation of race in a pre-civil rights amber, and any Person of Colour refusing to go along with that can be legitimately called an Uncle Tom or any other antiquated racist epithet – and it’s perfectly fine for someone white to hurl that insult as long as they’re safely residing on ‘the right side of history’. The hypocrisy is hilarious.

The one racial and ethnic group that the Identity Politics crowd have barely bothered to conceal their prejudicial and bigoted hatred towards all along are the Jews. Not only is it fine for those whose favourite buzzword during Trump’s Presidency was ‘literally Hitler’ to revive every ancient stereotype of the Jewish people, but allying themselves with a pseudo-ISIS band of Radical Islamic fanatics like Hamas is deemed to be perfectly acceptable coz Hamas hate Israel – innit. The current wave of blatant anti-Semitism in the West has included pro-Palestine activists driving through Jewish neighbourhoods of London and using megaphones to advocate ‘F**k the Jews! Rape their daughters!’ as well as open assaults on Jewish bystanders at rallies held by those supposedly passionate about ‘social justice’ in numerous European democracies and across the Anglosphere. And amidst this depressing outbreak of ugliness, skewered Woke logic reached comic proportions when a side-splitting banner unfurled at one of the endless protests against recent Israeli retaliatory strikes against Hamas declared ‘Queers for Palestine’. Ever get the feeling these dipsticks haven’t got a f***ing clue as to whose bed they’re jumping into?

Israel, as with South Africa during the Apartheid era, is a favourite bogeyman for the far-left and is back in fashion every time a new generation acquires an appetite for attending demonstrations. The State of Israel itself routinely plays into the hands of its most vocal critics with its often brutal actions, even if one could argue that self-defence sometimes happens to be at the root of such actions; and overlooking the equally brutal assaults by Hamas whilst condemning Israel is like screaming at the Government for deporting illegal immigrants and then suggesting that the Tory daughter of Ugandan-Asian immigrants who just happens to have become the first-ever ‘BAME’ Home Secretary should herself be deported because…oh, hang on a minute. Yes, placing such intense emphasis on race has really resulted in a fairer, more tolerant society, hasn’t it – one where racism has no place whatsoever. Well, we were getting there; and now we’re heading somewhere else altogether.

The worrying precedent set in Scotland a few weeks ago, whereby a Woke mob surrounded a van carrying illegal immigrants and ‘liberated’ the detainees, ended on a fittingly farcical note in that the immigrants were then escorted by their self-congratulatory liberators to the nearest mosque. Only, they were actually Sikhs, not Muslims; well, brown people – easy mistake to make when you’re an ignorant f**kwit too busy patting your perceived oppressed pets to assess the consequences of your crusade. The climax of that ‘rescue’ to me pretty much summed-up the naive, dangerous stupidity of Identity Politics in action, and how easy it would be for its exploitation by less idealistic parties – and I’m not talking about the far-right, who are just as thick. The real danger comes when these airheads have a degree of power – though I suppose seeing the damage done by them at local government level serves as a warning as to where we’d be if they were in charge at national level. But then I look at the alternative at national level and I give up.

© The Editor


Spanish Inquisition‘God is dead’ Nietzsche infamously proclaimed in 1882. He was issuing a then-provocative statement within the context of a wider discussion; but as a snappy slogan it was inevitably misconstrued by his critics and appropriated by atheists whose righteous conviction in their chosen belief system can often make them as sanctimoniously zealous as the followers of the faiths they decry. Religion, whether worshipping a living God or a dead one, always divides as much as it unites, with rival factions of the same faith having a habit of engaging in never-ending family feuds that can cost hundreds of thousands of lives when elongated over decades and, in some cases, centuries; and then there are the opposing faiths that routinely square up to one another every few years in order to prove whose God is bigger than the other. So many religions, so many Gods, so much unnecessary bloodshed – no wonder so many societies are secular today compared to the past.

A modern multi-faith democracy has to accommodate all of these spiritual ideologies, yet whereas the ultimate judgement as to which religion takes priority over the rest is traditionally in the hands of those following the dominant faith (for they tend to hold all the power), if secularism is their common currency, favouritism can be influenced by other factors. Whilst most would argue the majority of Brits today inhabit a secular world that mainly only acknowledges two Christian festivals – Christmas and Easter – this is still technically a Christian country, albeit one our Christian forefathers would sometimes struggle to recognise as such. To take the changing, diverse nature of the nation’s worship on board, our law-makers have done their best to ensure none of the myriad religions on offer today is discriminated against; however, there can be shades of an Identity Politics approach at play when ring-fencing faiths that aren’t associated with any of the British traditions which are now criminally unfashionable.

The foot-soldiers of the law-makers are dispatched to enforce those laws, and the undeniable existence of two-tier policing is evident in the way ring-fencing a minority at the expense of the majority produces one rule for one and one rule for another. Just as few MPs of recent years have seen active service in the armed forces compared to previous generations of politicians – therefore making it far easier for them to deploy troops when they have no notion of what operating in war-zones really entails – there probably aren’t many honourable members who’ve been policemen or women. I should imagine passing some ill-conceived new law is simple enough if you’re safe in the knowledge that you personally won’t be sent out onto the streets to enforce it; and if you’ve never been in that position, your grasp of the realities of doing so is probably limited to watching one of those ‘Police Camera Action’-type cheapo docs on Channel 5. Moreover, if those making up the rules have none of the inbred loyalty to Christianity that a Christian country implies, they won’t necessarily exhibit sensitivity towards its worshippers in the same way they might with other (more politically beneficial) faiths.

An illegal gathering of individuals outlawed by Covid restrictions – we’ve all seen such gatherings dispersed in an often-OTT manner by the police in online videos shot by those present; this is what we’ve come to expect. Not so in Batley, however. An illegal gathering outside a school there included the likes of Shamima Begum’s lawyer and was organised by an organisation which has apparently received effective sponsorship from the local branch of the teaching union – something that might further explain the silence and absence of support for the teacher now in hiding from the intolerant bigots who believe he didn’t show the followers of their faith the respect they’re not automatically entitled to. An illegal gathering breaking the restrictions the rest of us have to abide by and the incitement of religious hatred – two issues that surely should have led to police wading in and dispersing, no? No, of course not. Contrast this with events on Good Friday when the Met gate-crashed a service at a Polish Catholic church in South London with such brutish and arrogant insensitivity it was a wonder they didn’t declare ‘Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!’

A scenario impossible to imagine being enacted in a mosque – and it would be no more enlightening or laudable a spectacle there than in a synagogue or a Methodist chapel – the interruption during the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion at Christ the King Polish church in Balham doesn’t require a devotion to the faith in question to send shivers down the spine. On the widely-circulated video, the leader of this glorified Gestapo makes the most of his moment in the spotlight by showing the worshippers who is boss. ‘You are not allowed to meet inside with this many people under law,’ he declares. ‘At this moment in time you need to go home. Failure to comply with this direction to leave and go to your home address ultimately could lead to being fined £200 or, if you fail to give your details, to you being arrested.’ It was like a scene from a movie set in the post-Reformation 16th century, when Catholic practices were outlawed in England and forced to be secretly staged in clandestine priest holes in constant danger of being raided. One might almost imagine we have a fresh network of spies dotted about the country reporting suspected services to the authorities. Perish the thought.

The protestors in Batley were not in the process of commemorating a Muslim Holy day – which may have led to an understandable softly-softly approach by the police; they were denouncing an ‘infidel’ and placing him in fear for his life with their vile rhetoric as they forced the closure of a school. The worshippers at the church in Balham, on the other hand, were celebrating the most solemn day in the Catholic calendar; and the police deliberately brought it to a close halfway through by striding into the church wearing their size-nines and barking their orders at the small congregation from the altar. This was a service that was being streamed online and had, according to reports, complied with the regulations at a time when the coronavirus is declining in the capital; that the police didn’t even have the decency to wait until the service was over would have robbed them of their melodramatic money-shot, one they clearly imagined would emphasise their authority and instil fear into those considering breaking the law. Yet it just made them look even more like an out-of-control private army drunk on its new powers.

As a long-term, prominent immigrant community in the UK, Poles have historically set up home here after fleeing persecution under totalitarian regimes that weren’t exactly tolerant of their faith. That a Polish church in particular should have been singled out for this unedifying treatment seems an especially damning indictment on the way in which two-tier policing is now dispensed in this country as well as highlighting a glaring lack of insight and understanding as to the kind of ghosts such an incident can evoke. Immigrant communities and their descendants carry the scars of their ancestors, packed into the collective suitcase when departing the homeland and then passed down the generations as part of the family silver, helping to forge a shared identity. Worship can often form a key element of this identity, yet one doesn’t have to be a believer at all to find the clumsy actions of the police in Balham a fairly shameful desecration of that worship which would be just as bad were it applied across the board to all forms of worship. That it isn’t being applied this way makes a mockery of both the law and the law enforcers, neither of which are generating the feeling that we’re all in this together. Because we’re clearly not.

© The Editor


Lego 2It may only be 24 hours from Tulsa, but let’s hope we’re considerably further away than a day from Burma. The massacre of over 100 civilians protesting against the Myanmar military coup on Saturday has perhaps underlined in the most grotesque way that holding Aung San Suu Kyi responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in 2017 was to credit her with far more power than the Burmese Army ever actually allowed her. The de facto president’s demotion from Mandela/Thunberg sainthood to flawed human being was an especially facile example of the West’s habit of projecting its own idea of romantic freedom fighter onto a complex culture it doesn’t understand and then expressing mortification when the nominated idol fails to live up to its unrealisable expectations. To say the military staged a coup in February is a little misleading, for that would imply the five-year presidency of Aung San Suu Kyi had somehow ushered in an era of democratic liberalism that neutered the army’s grip on the nation; they never really went away. What happened last month was effectively the military ‘taking back control’ after supporting the opposition in the country’s general election and then watching Ms Suu Kyi’s ruling party win by a landslide.

Protests against the military’s resumption of power followed almost instantly, echoing the ‘Saffron Revolution’ of 2007, led by Buddhist monks; many credit that uprising with starting the ball rolling that eventually resulted in a civilian government for the first time in the country since 1962. However, this time round over 400 people have died protesting against the military junta, with Saturday’s bloody suppression the darkest day so far. Amazingly, a lavish gala celebrating Burma’s liberation from Japanese occupation in 1945 still went ahead the same day, broadcast on state TV in the wake of an equally tasteless military parade staged before any of the bodies had been buried. Yes, most of us are thankfully more than 24 hours from Yangon, Meiktila, Kale, Mawlamyine or any of the other Myanmar towns and cities in which the military opened fire on its own people. The road to Mandalay is paved with blood today.

Not that there aren’t plenty people who would be happy to see the Burmese Army approach to crime and punishment being implemented closer to home. A Yorkshire town once famed for its chicken-in-a-basket cabaret venue known as Batley Variety Club is currently witnessing attempts by a small group of religious fanatics to impose Sharia Law on British Law by using fear, intimidation and threats of violence. But this is nothing new. The dominance of some neighbourhoods with large Asian immigrant populations by a Muslim Mafiosi is something that police forces terrified of being accused of racism have facilitated by ceasing to police them and allowing them to essentially govern themselves – with disastrous consequences. Not only has this gutless abandonment spawned the systematic sexual abuse of underage white teenage girls on an industrial scale that beggars belief; it has also given the Islamic mobsters a sense of untouchable invincibility that every capitulation to their bullying simply hardens.

Barely a week after the schoolgirl whose false allegations against teacher Samuel Paty resulted in his brutal murder in Paris last October admitted she made the whole thing up, a teacher at Batley Grammar School has now had to go into hiding after apparently showing images of the Prophet Muhammad – allegedly including the infamous ‘Charlie Hebdo’ cartoon – during a religious studies class. The usual rent-a-mob thugs that tend to show up whenever they sense their ‘Satanic Verses’ moment has come besieged the school and not only brought about its closure (though you don’t need a gaggle of gobby wannabe Jihadists to do that these days); they also forced a grovelling and spineless apology from the school that suggested the institution was in sympathy with the sentiments of the mob and the teacher in question had done something wrong. He’d only have done something wrong were the UK a fundamentalist Islamic state – which it isn’t. On paper, we’re still a secular democracy, one in which blasphemy laws and retributive punishment for criticising or mocking religion were mercifully done away with after we burned and beheaded our way through the last century characterised by such barbarity, the seventeenth. Maybe teaching unions should be reminded of that as the teacher in hiding is deafened by their silence. At least pupils of the school have shown more balls by starting a successful online petition demanding his reinstatement.

According to those far more clued-up on the faith than me, the blasphemous portrayal of Muhammad as a religious icon isn’t even something that is universal across the Muslim world; it appears this is a particular obsession of the Sunni branch. Yet, so emboldened by the Woke Left’s patronage of Islam is the militant wing of the religion that it knows it’ll be given an easy ride every time it kicks up a fuss; and how can one not observe yet again how many tiers of policing are currently on offer? A lockdown protest took place just a few miles away in Bradford on Saturday, in which dispersal orders were issued and arrests were made; yet, no such dispersal of an illegal gathering – and one inciting religious hatred too – was made in Batley. I thought nobody had the right to gather in groups at the moment without said gathering being broken-up by the Old Bill – or is it easier to break them up if they’re white women holding a peaceful vigil? But of course, two-tiered policing, much like cancel culture, is a conspiracy theory. Funny how every indisputable fact is now a conspiracy theory if enough people of influence disagree with it.

The fact that the Covid restrictions on public gatherings are so liberally applied, depending on the purpose of the gathering and who happens to have organised it, highlights just how increasingly ludicrous and unenforceable these emergency powers are. Along with the announcement that kissing the bride when a couple are pronounced man and wife is now verboten if the couple haven’t spent the last twelve months living together, perhaps one little story underlining the farcical nature of the restrictions emerged a day or so ago. A 73-year-old pensioner who likes to meet up with a couple of equally elderly pals and play dominoes in West London’s Maida Hill market square was advised he’d be arrested and fined if he carried on being such an antisocial menace; Westminster Council has obtained a special court injunction for police officers to intervene if anybody is regarded as causing disruption in a public place. Dominoes, pensioners – think about that. Anyway, the rule has apparently now been relaxed following the 73-year-old’s ‘virtual’ court appearance last week; but the fact he even had to submit to that tells you all you need to know, really.

Oh, well – not to worry; we all know there’ll be an autumn lockdown come ‘The Third Wave’, so let’s make the most of the latest easing while we can and call-up five people we know for a socially-distanced game of dominoes in the nearest park – vaccine passports not required. For now. As for any indoor get-togethers when we’re given permission to indulge again, producing the requisite ‘papers’ is being trumpeted by some Ministers as the way forward – temporarily, of course; and masks will be needed too, though only to begin with. I don’t believe you, HM Government. Could be worse, though; could be Batley or Burma – could even be the University of Oxford. Sheet music has been branded racist there. The institution is considering dispensing with it due to it being ‘too colonial’; the music curriculum is complicit in white supremacy, naturally. Nothing else to be concerned about today, after all; it’s merely the dismantling of Western civilisation’s cultural pantheon continuing apace, as it will do if philistines are placed in positions of power and their supine supporters nod along. Ah, 2021 – what larks.

© The Editor


Perhaps it’s no great surprise that a couple of days ago I misread a statement outlining new lockdown plans north of the border. What actually said ‘Scotland will move to a five-tier level of restrictions at 6am on Monday’ I initially read as ‘Scotland will move to a five-YEAR level of restrictions at 6am on Monday’. An understandable mistake to make…or is it? A question James Burke might have posed – well, he did when lampooned on a memorable ‘Not the Nine O’Clock News’ sketch, exaggerating his habit of asking such questions on his wonderful science documentaries at the time. Another sketch from the series came back to me today – a statement from a prominent Minister on the latest unemployment figures. Rowan Atkinson flicks through said stats and wearily responds with ‘Oh, God’ over and over again. I sort-of feel a bit like that with every headline that emerges at the moment, perhaps because they’re all so bloody awful. But, hey, it could be worse – we could have to choose between Sleepy Joe and the Donald (and why does that sound like the title of a Mark Twain story?).

US Presidential Elections rarely tend to be built-up as being no big deal; they’re always sold as ‘one of the most crucial in American history’, the outcome always advertised as being something upon which the future wellbeing of the western world depends. The escalation of pre-Election hype can almost feel as though the old boxing promoter Don King is hovering somewhere in the background, as if a far-from frivolous exercise in democracy is just another Ali fight at Madison Square Garden. Mind you, I guess it’s all bound-up in that unique way US politics and showbiz meet and mingle, the way that often makes it hard to see the join; maybe it began with JFK and his movie star glamour 60 years ago – or maybe with actual movie star Ronald Reagan 20 years later. Either way, having a celebrity President like Trump in the White House, that tradition was destined to ascend even greater heights (or depths) of gaudy tackiness.

It goes without saying that – to use a recurring media phrase characteristic of Presidential Elections – ‘the stakes are high’ this time round; but that’s due to external events outside of the Washington bubble rather than something generated by the two contenders. Both sides may have claimed champion and challenger as their respective personification of the culture wars, but neither can be said to embody the spirit of the moment as Obama did in 2008; one gets the impression Trump and Biden between them are simply weaponising the maelstrom of 2020 for their own personal gain – two old men probably unable to believe their luck that they happen to be fighting for the right to run such a deeply divided, f***ed-up country at their stage of life. Twelve years ago, Obama inherited a nation that had just been plunged into an economic black hole, but he tried to galvanise and unite in the same way FDR had in 1932; whether or not he succeeded is open to debate, but at least his vision stretched beyond his reflection.

For all the hype, the fact remains that, as a contest, an incumbent President taking on a man who departed the Vice Presidency in 2016 after eight years in the job doesn’t have the same frisson to it as when neither candidate has ever held the highest office before. Those kinds of US Elections are like a World Cup Final between two nations yet to carry off the trophy – always a tad more tantalising than if the Germans or Brazilians or Italians are involved again. As it is, the Vice Presidency as an office isn’t necessarily a foregone conclusion for the Presidency itself; indeed, serving Vice Presidents historically have mixed results when running for President. George Bush Senior was Reagan’s deputy when he won his solitary term in 1988, but – thanks in no small part to ‘the Chads’ – Al Gore couldn’t make the leap from No.2 to No.1 against Bush Junior 20 years ago. Incumbent ‘Veep’ Hubert Humphrey lost to Richard Nixon in 1968, eight years after Tricky Dicky ceased to be second-in-command to Eisenhower, sealing one of the greatest comebacks in American politics. Even the previously-untested experience of First Lady couldn’t guarantee the White House in 2016. What this all says about Biden’s chances I’m not entirely sure; but it made for a fairly interesting paragraph.

As we all know by now, the creaky 18th century system by which the results are ultimately decided will inevitably lead to calls for reform by the losing side if the outcome is a close run thing; this year, both parties have been preparing preemptive strikes. Trump has promised to utilise the courts if the Democrats dispute his victory, whereas Sleepy Joe has been advised by Hillary Clinton not to concede at any cost. And, of course, the warring factions on either side of the barricades are stocking-up their arsenals in the event of defeat, ready to demand a recount that will simply keep on going until the result is reversed; reminds me of something that happened not so long ago on this side of the pond, though I can’t remember what at the moment. Perhaps the most worrying element in 2020 is how many of those polled have stated they reckon violence is a legitimate means of opposing an outcome they don’t agree with; the actual principles of democracy seem to have been misconstrued by an entire generation, and what will the endgame of that be, I wonder – a suspension of the clearly ineffectual democratic process and the instillation of dictatorship? Fine as long as it’s ‘the right side’, I guess.

Indeed, just as UK General Elections once took several weeks to be resolved – though we have to go back to 1945 for the most recent example of this – the results of US Presidential Elections in the 21st century have the potential to be stretched beyond the point of human endurance, like the longest penalty shoot-out in history. By now, a system should be in place to convincingly announce a winner within 24 hours of physical polling; but the Electoral College would appear to be as immovable as the House of Lords. Don’t hold your breath. Not that you’d know it from social media, but non-Americans don’t actually have a say in any of this, lest we forget; I can’t help but recall the hilariously patronising ‘letter’ the Grauniad published in 2004 informing Americans why it wouldn’t be a good idea to vote for Bush. The blind eyes turned to Biden’s failings is a joyous excursion into hypocrisy of the highest order for the detached observer, the most entertaining symptom of Trump Derangement Syndrome yet seen; but the blatant online censure of revelations regarding Biden’s son is a far less funny development. Anyway, the doddery old hair-sniffer will probably hand the reins of power to his Woman of Colour Vice President in a matter of months even if he wins – and what a wonderful Woke future we in the west have to look forward to if that happens.

Hell, we don’t have to look to the States for further confirmation of Hell being the destination of the proverbial handcart; recent events in France and in Vienna last night appear to have demonstrated yet again that Radical Islam is far from down and out in 2020. Each faction of this miserable century’s tribes can boast its own dedicated fanatics, and Islam has a remarkably successful recruitment scheme that keeps attracting new generations of devotees. Just as the IRA had the gall to launch mortar shells at Downing Street in the middle of the Gulf War, ISIS and its numerous affiliates have no qualms about striking when the west is already weighed down by a pandemic panic dependent upon carefully selected stats to justify governments scaring and demoralising their people into accepting the removal of their civil liberties. SWJs to the left of me, Jihadists to the right – here I am, stuck in the middle with you…and a killer plague with a frighteningly low death rate.

2020: Review of the Non-Year from Johnny Monroe on Vimeo.

© The Editor


I guess it’s the last thing the authorities needed right now – with the threat of one more national lockdown in the air, they could’ve done without a senseless murder in another country rousing thousands and bringing them onto the streets to protest and risk pushing up infection rates. Of course, you won’t have been able to avoid it on social media, what with the tech providers imposing a suitably fitting image upon their users, one that is an obligatory profile picture for a day of mass solidarity with the deceased; and, naturally, sportsmen and women are mirroring the mood by observing a moments’ silence with a symbolic bowed head – ‘taking the head’, I think it’s called; and Sainsbury’s will undoubtedly express solidarity too. Oh, wait a minute – for a moment, I forgot none of this is actually happening. No, somehow the barbaric beheading of a History & Geography teacher outside his school in Paris on Friday hasn’t generated an international response. Fancy that.

This is a story the New York Times (which is now so Woke it makes the Guardian resemble ConservativeHome) reported with the headline: ‘French Police Shoot and Kill Man after a Fatal Knife Attack on the Street.’ In case, you weren’t aware, the man who wasn’t shot and killed by the French Police was 47-year-old Samuel Paty; he’d had the gall to show his students the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Muhammad during a lesson on freedom of speech, something he’d made clear beforehand. He’d offered the Muslim members of the class the opportunity to abstain if they so wished, though his lesson still provoked an angry response from some parents who took to the internet to ramp up the pressure inevitably heaped upon a teacher working in a country that has been Europe’s most secular nation for the best part of 200 years. Misinformation was spread to the point where Paty was accused by one parent – whose daughter apparently wasn’t even present in the classroom – of displaying a ‘naked image’ of the Prophet.

Monsieur Paty’s murderer was revealed as an 18-year-old refugee who had been a resident of France for barely six months and seemingly had no connection to the school at all; he must have been scouring social media on the look-out for local infidels and happened to stumble upon his target. He turned up at the school in a Paris suburb as it was emptying for the day, asked exiting pupils to point out the guilty man and, from all accounts, launched an unprovoked attack on the teacher that climaxed with decapitation. The French themselves got over beheading people after the Terror, but it seems the spirit of Madame Guillotine is alive and kicking in some of the more enlightened overseas souls France has been generous enough to offer a home to. It’s certainly a novel way of embracing the culture of one’s chosen country, even if it is a couple of centuries out of date; but at least he was trying to fit in.

The murderer, Moscow-born Abdullakh Anzorov, went on to fire at police with an air rifle and also wielded a knife, prompting them to shoot and kill when they cornered him – hence the rightly outraged New York Times headline. This particularly appalling murder has taken place at a moment of heightened tension in France’s relationship with Islam, just as 14 people are currently being tried in connection with the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre; it’s only a fortnight ago that two employees of a TV production company were stabbed in the same location by a bright spark who thought the satirical magazine was still based at its former offices. France’s anti-terrorist prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said Samuel Paty had been ‘assassinated for teaching’; it’s hard to disagree with his additional statement that the murder was an assault on the principle of freedom of expression. The western world is experiencing a lot of that at the moment, though the brutal methods of doing so that were employed in Paris remain a mercifully rare manifestation of it.

The man who committed the crime clearly viewed western culture and values with hatred and contempt, which is a very chic hallmark of the far left right now, visible in its daily pronouncements and denunciations; and as the far left has been the instigator behind this year’s heavily-publicised campaigns against these values, campaigns that have received the backing of tech corporations, institutions, mainstream media and academia, perhaps it’s no great surprise that there has been no organised protest over the Samuel Paty murder beyond France. The far left may be at pains to condemn the killing, but the ideological motivation isn’t a million miles away from the relentless chipping away at the cultural inheritance of the west we’re bombarded with day-after-day, one where everyone and everything is racist and evil, where the original sin of whiteness demands its sufferers are re-educated, and the Woke ‘Mein-Kampf’ that is ‘White Fragility’ is recommended reading material whilst JK Rowling books are burned. It’s not too hard to join the dots between the extremes.

The far left are also amongst the prime lockdown cheerleaders; as some wag said the other day, lockdown suits them because it translates as middle-class people being paid to stay at home while working-class people deliver everything to their door. Therefore, who cares if this year the UK has seen the closure of 11,120 shops on a high street that was already in decline even before Covid-19 intervened? It would appear some are doing alright, Jack. The authoritarian streak and casual ambivalence over the ongoing erosion of civil liberties that has unfortunately become symptomatic of the left probably wouldn’t object to the new ‘digital health passports’ currently being tried and tested either. Permission to enter another country could henceforth depend upon whether one has submitted to a vaccine that will miraculously overcome the obstacles that generally require a good five years or more to overcome during the development of such a substance. Maybe there also won’t be any concerns that those told to self-isolate through NHS track & trace could have their details shared with police, who will have access to that private information. Ah, well – all for our own good, eh?

When we live in a world in which Twitter is guilty of blatantly suppressing quite important revelations regarding the son of the man who is hoping to be voted into the White House next month, it’s increasingly difficult to take anything at face value anymore. Mind you, his opponent has spent the last four years so brazenly twisting the truth to fit his own surreal agenda that the pattern is already well-established as the way forward on both sides. It’s been refreshing to see some of our regional mayors over here at least challenge the Covid narrative, but what can the likes of Andy Burnham really do other than publicly state his opposition? Yes, it does seem a tad unfair that when London seemed threatened by the coronavirus back in the spring the whole country was willing to shut up shop, yet when a similar situation arises in the north, only the north has to close down. At the same time, trying to avoid a repeat of last April is understandable, especially when the damage that did is becoming more apparent.

Okay, so none of this on the surface seems to have much of a connection with horrific events in Paris last Friday; but as was mentioned in a comment I made on the previous post, looking back five years to the first few ‘Telegram’ missives reminded me of how nothing has really changed since 2015 when it comes to Radical Islam on western soil. The first-ever ‘proper’ post covered the murder of 14 people by two ISIS sympathisers in San Bernardino, California as well as the non-fatal stabbing of three commuters at Leytonstone Tube Station by an individual who declared ‘This is for Syria’. I wonder, five years hence, if anyone (including yours truly) is still here, whether or not I’ll be looking back to 2020 and musing on the fact that we thought the first lockdown was bad – as we live through our eleventh? Plus ça change, as they say across the Channel.

© The Editor