Monthly Archives: May 2014

A very French Tea Party

The late Harold McMillan once remonstrated with Oswald Mosely about his rather absurd attempt to import Nazi militarism into British politics. “When British people take to the streets”, he said, “they do so in tweed jackets and flannel trousers, not black shirts”. A similar rejection of strident politics was expressed by PG Wodehouse, whose Bertie Wooster encountered an unpleasant but absurd crypto-fascistic leader Sir Roderick Spode Leader of “the Black Shorts”.

Britain has its own way of taking down such figures, which is why we don’t tend to have them succeed: it is why there is absurdity in some of the more extravagant abuse of UKIP and its affable leader, who , it must be said, would be most unlikely to leave a beer hall to take to the streets. Nobody has been attacked by UKIP supporters, who, unlike its more extreme opponents like, say, Occupy or the “Anti-Fascist Union” have never gone in for storming buildings, fighting the police or breaking windows.

This is not going to be the case in every European country which rejects the inevitable economic failures of the Left. In countries which do not share our history and culture it can be a rather more extreme affair, and inevitably it is not always mildly defeatable by Wodehousian wit.

In France people have turned to the Front National which has been around for many years without ever looking like making the progress we saw last night. Those who conflate the UK and French expression of anti-EU sentiment betray not only a lack of understanding of the British phenomenon, but also the French.

The French right has a long and specific heritage. Probably every country has.

From the days of the French revolution, there was a monarchist rump. The secular anti-clericalism exposed a conservative Catholic element that was not always choosy in its bedfellows. The immigration stimulated by Eastern European pogroms brought a latent anti-Semitism to the surface, which saw expression in the Dreyfus trial. The patriotism of the First World War saw the unemployed congregating into politicised ex-military associations which were very different from our own benign British Legion.

The humiliating collapse of France in 1940 resulted in an attempt to retrieve a spurious “honour” by creating a fiction that they had accommodated Hitler rather than been routed, aformer National hero Philippe Petain led a movement which was not so very different to our own “Stop the War Coalition” which saw first Vichy France and then the splitting of the right into Petainist and Gaullists.

Post war, De Gaulle re-built France and the Common Market upon the fiction that “France had liberated herself”: this meant he had to exclude the Anglo-influence which stood as an uncomfortable reminder of the truth. He swiftly ran into trouble with Algeria which is pivotal in understanding the rise of the NF.

Algeria had been the bastion of a Free undefeated France. Metropolitan. Most British people do not know that it was a part of Metropolitan France. Had it not secured independence, France would already have an Islamic country. It fought a bitter war for Independence and expelled 900,000 “Pied Noir” – French settlers who settled Southern France who brought their own perspectives and resentments back to the mother country.

This was symbolic. To lose that part of France which had preserved honour however imperfectly, whilst Metropolitan France collaborated was dreadful for the national psyche.

it was from that Algerian war which cost 100,000 French casualties which formed the wounded Jean Marie Le Pen who created the National Front. It was a dirty war which France still finds difficulty in addressing honestly.

Unlike the UK’s de-colonisation there was a renewed and deep sense of national shame at losing part of the mother country with Algerian independence.

Within that same generation , the Poujardist movement appealed to those who felt excluded from crony capitalism, big government and powerful Trades Unionism. It drew in small businessmen, the taxi driver, the plumber, and shopkeepers in much the way that a Lady Thatcher delineated her constituency.

Given this ( albeit briefly sketched ) history, French responses to immigration and modern austerity will be different from the UK experience.

Britain needed a workforce from its commonwealth and invited it in. Nearly 2million Frenchmen fought to to keep “Algerie Francais”; when they now see significant societal change in its inner cities from those who rejected France -and now come, legally or other wise – their response is very history specific.

Austerity compounds the problem especially amongst those excluded from the EU gravy train or outside a very cushioned life secured by the strong French trades unions.

Paradoxically for those in the UK driving the secular agenda, France’s secular narrative presents a very real intensifier of the problem.

Liberty Equality and Fraternity appear to be very progressive values, but it is something rather less liberal in its application. There remains an anti-clericalism that once expressed itself in Diderot’s phrase that ” Man will not be free until the last King has been strangled with the entrails if the last priest.” Substitute “Emir” and ” Mullah” and you begin to see the measure of the problem.

The ideal of the French State is rooted not in multi-culturalism but omni-culturalism. That culture is essentially that of the Enlightenment in its French form. Not the low key State-power-averse of the USA or the very light touch Minarchism/Established Church of Britain.

It offends France that women wear the burka. It offends France that the Mosque has stronger claims.

On a European scale there are other tensions.

EU is the fulfilment of Bonarpartism with its elite, its “rationalism”, its bureaucratic regulation, even its aspiration for a European Army. The first European Army was Bonapart’s with its Poles Irish Spaniards, Italians augmenting its French core in considerable numbers.

This loss of French identity in the EU was acceptable for one reason only. It was a product of French intellectualism which harnessed the economic power of Germany into its service through guilt rather than reparations.

Whilst it worked, France could accept the compromise. Now it is not working. The French State cannot afford its social security aspirations. Germany is both less guilt ridden. It has moreover, absorbed many of its former countrymen who do not have such fond memories of the USSR as many on the old French Left.

With the perception of failure growing and rampant youth unemployment, a National Front sanitised by the smiling face of Marine Le Pen has broken through reviving a variety of old attitudes, loyalties and aspirations.

This is why David Cameron’s hopes to reform the EU is probably unrealistic.

France cannot, emotionally, bear the triumph of Anglosphere ideas again.

Seeing the UK economy climb above the French is hard. They cannot admit the failure of Jean Monet’s project for to do so would be another humiliation for the French intellectual heritage on which the country prides itself. Whilst some try one more time to make it work, whilst not allowing Britain to remake the EU in its free market image, others will go back to older roots seeking the glories of an autonomous France once more.

France is like an abused child which has not yet fully examined its recent past, much less come to terms with it. We should not be surprised at its bad behaviour through the election result. To equate its very Gallic provenance with UKIP is to betray a significant lack of historical perspective.

This is a very French Tea Party.

Do we respect Roma culture?

The news that the President of the Family Court has turned down a request by a Roma couple that their children should not be adopted by a gay couple, should come as no surprise. Sir James Munby has a past history of being unsympathetic to the role of religion in the public sphere, so the outcome was probably a foregone conclusion. Nevertheless, Brother Ivo finds it rather sad.

All such cases are sad. Even parents who have neglected their children, are rarely without feeling for them, and often the problems arise out of deep seated problems rather than innate cruelty. When the State intervenes, it should be done with a heavy heart, and it can be done with a degree of respect. The pain of separation is real, and empathy can extend even to those whose actions we condemn.

The couple are Roman Catholic and they did not want their children brought up in a gay household. They advanced their case with reference to their children suffering “emotional harm” in the event of the adoption proceeding. Without seeing the papers one cannot judge if that had any merit at all, yet in today’s politically correct environment such an argument probably did not have even a theoretical chance.

Brother Ivo has enough knowledge of this subject to know that the research evidence is fairly conclusive so far: children brought up in gay relationships have at least as good outcomes as those raised within more traditional structures, if not better. On utilitarian grounds alone, Sir James was entitled to find as he did. Yet the Welfare Checklist enacted in the Children Act also requires Courts to factor in respect for the religious and cultural needs of children; these boys are Roma and Roman Catholic.

However sucessful an adoption, a high percentage of children now exercise their rights to trace their birth family and contact is re-established. That family may be in Romania, and not as PC as Sir James.
It is not fanciful to consider that their future reception may not be as seamless in Romania as in Kent.

Even that, is not the fundamental point for Brother Ivo.

It is good practice, though not universally applied, to engage parents in the choice of future adopters whenever possible. Surprising as it may be, in the agony of giving up a child, some parents can and do contribute to the selection process, it can be the last exercise of parental responsibility, a last gift, and when parents engage actively in it, they are to be commended and respected. It must be unimaginably hard.

Plainly an invitation to engage does not confer a right to delay or obstruct: when children must be placed in new homes, it must be advanced purposefully.

Yet, given the availability of competing potential parents of equal quality, would it really do harm if parents such as these were able to exercise a preference in keeping with their cultural and religious backgrounds?

We are told that the majority of people in this country approve gay relationships. If that is true, and given the statistics of success for gay adoptions, there ought not to be any lack of children who could be placed with the approved and no doubt thoroughly decent gay adopters. It simply seems to Brother Ivo that there is no imperative for them to adopt these children. There is no lack of children in need of secure and dedicated new parents.

Brother Ivo is not basing his disquiet on any anti-gay sentiment: he has had some direct involvement in supporting lovely gay adopters who have done sterling work for needy children. Rather, he would couch his point on common humanity.

We appear so determined to enforce a principle that we abandon human feeling. It would surely not be so very terrible to have allowed the religious and cultural values of this unfortunate couple, losing their children, one last decision.

It need not have been a high profile matter of principle: in the privacy of a social work office, social workers could have heard the parental views, found a way of accommodating their concerns and offered different children to the gay adopters from parents who had no such objections. Would that have been so very terrible?

It is not unprecedented. For many years, families willing and suitable to adopt children of black or asian origin have been outinely rejected for perceived cultural reasons -real or imagined. That policy is being changed for purely pragmatic reasons. There are such a number of ethnic minority children who cannot be placed placed with a closely matched family that something has to give and the politically correct principle is being ditched by political direction from above.

It won’t happen here: the Prime Minister is too invested in the “equality agenda”and
perhaps that is not entirely ignoble.

Yet history teaches us that too strict an attachment to principle can result in injustice and even inhumanity, and even with noble aspirations, ordinary people suffer unnecessarily. Perhaps the Roma community feels that by this decision, it has been shown a lack of respect for its identity and values.

Brother Ivo thought this bothered our metropolitan culture, but plainly he must have imagined it.
Sent from my Ipad
Martin Sewell

Lessons from the UKIP advance

One of the most sensible comments upon the recent EU and local election results has come from the Liberal Democrat Lynne Featherstone. Her party looks to have been a net loser but she has gone up in Brother Ivo’s estimation by her early engagement with the real question of why so many have deserted the “big three” parties.

Her view may well be right.

The UKIP candidates sound like ordinary people, she observed, and perhaps it is time for the major parties to abandon their guarded mode of speaking, and the self censorship imposed by the focus group and the “talking point”. By such automaton speach, she says, they have lost their humanity.

This seems very sensible.

Brother Ivo always switches off when a politician ducks the question and switches into pre-instructed mode as they begin the evasive answer with “What I say is”.. ” What the people are really asking…” or, worst of all, “Let me be clear”. What they then go on to say is usually anything but clear, and invariably an avoidance of what was being asked. This is not how ordinary people converse.

Let Brother Ivo be clear.

All parties do this.

It is not accidental. It arises from a learned and overly calculated approach to politics and a high degree of cynicism. Unfortunately, what this can easily result in, is a “dough-nutting” of political opinion, as centralised parties chose homogenous candidates, cluster around a perceived centre ground, and become increasingly intellectually risk averse.

Politics thus moves from being a robust contest of ideas into a contest of PR consultants and we end up with an average of anodyne platitude.

Ms Featherstone appears to be brave enough to grasp the nettle, and should be praised for it.

Whatever the failings of Mr Farage, he looks and sounds more like us – with all our inconsistencies and failings – than the other party leaders, each of whom seem to be “a posh boy who doesn’t know the pint of milk”. Few doubt that Mr Farage at least knows the price of a pub round, and that is what the Admen call a “unique selling point” in modern politics.

Voters like authenticity. It makes them feel safer,even when risks are taken.

In combat, a trusted commander can lead his soldiers into the most perilous of situations precisely because they believe in him. Church leaders grow their flock when they are perceived to have integrity. If your “yea is yea” and your “nay is nay” you have a chance of engaging with those whom you seek to influence in any form of endeavour.

Thus it was that Mrs Thatcher won consecutive elections drawing votes from quarters formerly unavailable to the Conservative Party. There are many other examples: Denis Skinner, Nadine Dorries, Caroline Lucas. Love them or hate them, they speak plainly and even their opponents concede that whatever their personal political or intellectual failings there is an integrity about them.

The major parties may speak in terms of a “protest vote” in these elections but it may be better than that. It may be a welcoming of authenticity. That would be an improvement.

This is by no means to place UKIP and its candidates on a pedestal. They will undoubtedly disappoint, for as Enoch Powell once wisely observed, every political career ends in tears. UKIP appears to need little help in slipping from the podium of success. They have selected the normal quota of failed humanity as their candidates but the electorate appear to have been wiser than the mainstream media and refused to be spooked out of voting in favour of certain policies just because some candidates are far from perfect, and the major parties and the mainstream media directed much criticism upon those failings.

Our total electorate is flawed, with a full range of inconsistencies and prejudices so why are we surprised when the masks slip. Politicians should be like us: Hubert Humphrey once advised ” Never run on the sainthood ticket”. UKIP plainly accepted that advice, judging by some of their more eccentric candidates – and so have the other parties.

Lynne Featherstone may be right. The electorate, in its clumsy way is perhaps groping towards a rejection of the overly orchestrated politics of the centralised party, the spin doctor and the cynical positioning of policy.

It is perhaps a good morning to pick up an idea from another maverick with integrity.

Douglas Carswell MP has promoted the idea of the open primary to select party candidates.

Where that has occurred, the resulting MP has proved to be popular, plain speaking and reflective of the interests of their constituency. The open primary to select candidates seems to be a useful and necessary tool if we are to restore faith in our political process.

If our major parties gave up trying to impose candidates from ” Central Casting” they would end up with a greater cross section of people, and this might be inconvenient. Not least when they drift ” off message”. They would, however, benefit in two ways.

First, they would have more candidates speaking the people’s language, and thereby profit from Ms Featherstone’s analysis.

Second they would secure plausible deniability. When a candidate said something they did not like they would have the perfect answer – “We didn’t choose the candidate – s/he’s the People’s buffoon”.

Brother Ivo cannot help but think this would be an improvement. We say we want our politicians to be more like us. Perhaps we should have the opportunity -and accept the responsibility- for making that happen.

Please share this Brother Ivo is abroad and has left his twitter password on his computer at home 

 

The New Puritanism

These are not very edifying times for those of us who have lived their lives under a climate of liberality and tolerance, for it appears that we have to fight an old battle all over again – one that we once took for granted as over. It only goes to prove the old maxim that the price of peace of peace is eternal vigilance and that we let our guard down.

In the days of Brother Ivo’s youth, the battle had been largely won. The Lord Chamberlain still had to vet the scripts of plays performed in theatres, but by and large people were free to think and say as they chose. The prohibitions on atheists entering the House of Commons; Catholics, Jews or Quakers securing a University education; or women wearing trousers at Ascot had fallen and it was possible to say all, think all, debate all, doubt all.

” Bliss it was in that day to be alive” as Wordsworth wrote, yet that ought to have been a warning to us all, for the outpouring of ” Liberty Equality and Fraternity” of the optimistic French Revolution swiftly deteriorated into the Terror.

We may not quite be on the threshold of a return to such times but there is something of the same unpleasantness aboad, and if the teachings of the gentle Jesus can be turned into the obscenities of the Inquisition, it really will not do to fall into complacency.

History abounds in witch hunts and the cruelty of the mob. From Salem to Kristalnacht, people who prided themselves on their right thinking fell into the primary sin of Satan – pride- and set themselves up as judge jury and executioners, in express contravention of Jesus’s injunction that we do not take it upon ourselves to judge our fellows.

The latest incarnation of societal intolerance is, sadly no stranger to our Churches, though many who are at risk of embracing it will be surprised to hear it. Intolerance, like the devil himself is both strong and cunning. Christians are enjoined to ” Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: ”

The new victims are those who fall foul of the modern creed of “political correctness”, and it is very easy for Christians to be deceived into thinking that it is but a secular working of Christian respect for all God’s children. Brother Ivo defers to none in his dedication to an open inclusive Church welcoming all, saints and sinners, to join the saints and sinners you will find inside: the sinners remain in the overwhelming majority as few will doubt.

It follows that he must also cast Christ’s all embracing cloak of love around the sexist, the racist, the homophobe and any other target of the politically correct: in doing so he is of course, offering acceptance to the sinner not the sin.

This is not the same agenda as those leading the witch hunts. They seek to prosper not by the inclusion which they ostensibly preach, but by the power which social control through ideology confers.

If you have never read ” Rules for Radicals” by the Chicago Marxist Saul Alinski, you will not understand how political correctness works. You will find the 12 rules at the end of this piece, and after reading them three things will be noticed.

They are predicated on “them and us”

There is no sense of humanity conceded to the opponent.

It is systematic and binary: you are either “with us or against us” and if you are “against us” no quarter can be given.

These are the key features of every cruel regime from the pogrom to the Cultural Revolution, and Brother Ivo believes that Christians need to understand how these things work if we are to resist deterioration into the same kind of extremism that we have repeatedly observed throughout history when human beings are stripped of their God given humanity.

The rules for radicals are part of a politically correct narrative which is intended to supplant Christianity as a basis for morality. We should be under no illusions over this. It is also a politically driven ideology (the clue is in the title) though familiarity with the term often leads us to overlook this. The Frankfurt School of Marxism deliberately set out to find an alternative to the Christian heritage in the same way that the French revolutionaries purported to supplant God the Father with the Supreme Being of “Reason” which was made suspiciously in their own image, and thus bore a striking resemblance to the Golden Calf. Christians cannot pretend that they have not been warned about our rebellious inclination to go down misleading paths.

Yet we shall find in the Church many willing to fellow travel with the politically correct mob as they bay for the blood of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Scudamore, Nigel Farage and others.

Each may have been foolish, imprudent, inconsistent or naive -or as Brother Ivo calls it “human”. What is striking is that others who have similarly flirted with saying the “unacceptable” have been let off. In the USA Harry Reid, Joe Biden and Bill Clinton have all referenced their past era’s in their so each without the PC police becoming overly energised. In the UK Diane Abbott has been comfortable lumping all ” white people ” together, and attributing a collective attribute to them, and it was of course, Gordon Brown’s party that campaigned on the slogan “British Jobs for British Workers”.

With the political movement of the politically correct, it is not a matter of consistency or principle, but expediency, that governs who is demonised and who is forgiven and forgotten.

Jesus is not capricious. His forgiveness is for all and it is consistently available for all who repent.

This is not how the witch hunt operates. They do not rejoice in the sinner that repents, they drive home their advantage. They must have their pound of flesh no matter how trivial the infraction.

Nigel Farage has spent 20 years in the public eye without anyone suggesting for a moment that he was a secret admirer of the Ku Klux Klan – until the unlikely moment when he looked like gaining significant support for his party. That ought to tell us something.

Richard Scudamore has advanced women’s football for years and is well thought of in that endeavour; that ought to tell us something.

Jeremy Clarkson has been the permanent adolescent of our television screens with many follies, outrages and errors – and he has been loved for it. If he flew too close to the sun – many had encouraged him.

None of these has any similarity with Adolph Hitler – or Margaret Sanger for that matter.

Jesus teaches that by their fruits ye shall know them, and Brother Ivo not only sees no serious taint of irredeemable sin but considerable dangers in becoming a nation of dangerous PC Puritans, stifling discussion, demonising the trivial, lacking proportion and elevating the intolerant.

In those days of his youth, we overcame much overt racism because Johnny Speight was free to satirise it through the mouth of Alf Garnett. We would not dare to do that at the moment.

There is another of Brother Ivo’s beloved paradoxes in view.

” I’ll have those niggers voting Democrat for the next 200 years” – said President Lynden Johnson as he signed the Civil Rights Act which enabled the USA to elect its first Black President. One suspects that the UK’s first black PM is more likely to arrive if Mr Farage has his way than if we align ourselves with Eastern Europe and await the first black EU President.

Sometimes good things come from the actions of imperfect people. Brother Ivo was tempted to write that Saul of Tarsus was no saint – but then God had other ideas. LBJ proved to be a liberating racist just as Oscar Schindler proved to be a righteous Nazi.

Christ wants us all to fulfill our potential, and does not give up on us at the first stumble. In that he is the opposite of the new PC puritans.

If you have found this interesting will you please tweet or email it to others. Brother Ivo is abroad and has left his twitter password on his computer at home!

 

Rules for Radicals

* RULE 1: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood.

* RULE 2: “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone. (Organizations under attack wonder why radicals don’t address the “real” issues. This is why. They avoid things with which they have no knowledge.)

* RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)

* RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules. (This is a serious rule. The besieged entity’s very credibility and reputation is at stake, because if activists catch it lying or not living up to its commitments, they can continue to chip away at the damage.)

* RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions. (Pretty crude, rude and mean, huh? They want to create anger and fear.)

* RULE 6: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones. (Radical activists, in this sense, are no different that any other human being. We all avoid “un-fun” activities, and but we revel at and enjoy the ones that work and bring results.)

* RULE 7: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news. (Even radical activists get bored. So to keep them excited and involved, organizers are constantly coming up with new tactics.)

* RULE 8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new. (Attack, attack, attack from all sides, never giving the reeling organization a chance to rest, regroup, recover and re-strategize.)

* RULE 9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist. (Perception is reality. Large organizations always prepare a worst-case scenario, something that may be furthest from the activists’ minds. The upshot is that the organization will expend enormous time and energy, creating in its own collective mind the direst of conclusions. The possibilities can easily poison the mind and result in demoralization.)

* RULE 10: “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog. (Unions used this tactic. Peaceful [albeit loud] demonstrations during the heyday of unions in the early to mid-20th Century incurred management’s wrath, often in the form of violence that eventually brought public sympathy to their side.)

* RULE 11: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem. (Old saw: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Activist organizations have an agenda, and their strategy is to hold a place at the table, to be given a forum to wield their power. So, they have to have a compromise solution.)

* RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)

#waronwomen

Unknown-9

copyright getty images

Few people have been more defined by a single life event than Monica Lewinski. The mere mention of her surname will take millions from a certain generation, back to a scandal that is now many years old, and as somebody said on the radio this morning, her affair with Bill Cliento will be the first paragraph of her obituary, even if she discovered a cure for cancer tomorrow.

She seems to have come through it and we should be pleased for her. She is not the first person to have had a work place affair and will certainly not be the last. She appears to have accepted responsibility for that misjudgement and refused the easy embracing of the label that she as a victim of the charisma of a more powerful man. She has shown greater maturity than others involved.

What was the real scandal of those distant events is the way that she was fought over by the political establishments like dogs over a bone. The one faction knew that Bill Clinton was a philanderer and a liar and wished to pressurise her to confirm the truth. The other faction was even worse. They too, knew Bill Clinton was a philanderer and a liar and they went all out to crush Miss Lewinski – and Paula Jones, and Gennifer Flowers, and Juanita Broderick, calling them all liars, greedy opportunists, and a whole lot more

It is worth remembering the context of that scandal.

Paula Jones had alleged that when Bill Clinton was State Governor, he had treated her disrespectfully and sought to use her for a casual sexual encounter which she had done nothing to encourage. The whole of Arkansas’ political establishment and press core knew that such behaviour was entirely in keeping with his behaviour towards women and yet when the humble Miss Jones would not accept it and sought an apology, the whole weight of the Democratic machine came down upon her. She stood her ground, eventually getting a financial settlement – though no apology – and many other women were silenced by such public humiliation of a young powerless woman.

It was the indisputable DNA evidence on “that dress” which compelled the President to admit that he had lied on Oath about his relationship with Miss Lewinski. As a result of his behaviour, he was disbarred as a lawyer and no Supreme Court Justice attended his second inauguration.

It seems extraordinary that he was not compelled to resign the Presidency as Richard Nixon was once compelled. Nixon had been implicated in covering up the bugging of his opponents campaign office at Watergate. President Obama has authorised the eavesdropping of every digital communication and survived; how times have changed.

What was perhaps the most shocking part of the treatment of Miss Lewinski and the other women , however, was the overt misogyny that was applied against these relatively powerless women.

James Carville, the Clinton’s campaign director jeered that you could drag a $100 note through every trailer park in the South and women would follow eager to make similar accusations. Hilary Clinton made a decisive intervention on her husband’s behalf asserting  that Bill Clinton was not a serial sexual predator upon younger women and that these women were lying. They exploited the prejudices against poor women – “trailer trash” – and sought to taint the rather more socially elevated Miss Lewinski with the same brush. Like every rapist they tried to discredit the victim and thereby compounded the hurt.

Hilary Clinton knew all this to be patently and that her husbands discreditable defence was false. She was utterly complicit in the cover up.

Similarly, virtually the entire feminist establishment rallied behind the President and against the women who told the truth. They failed to call out the chauvinism, the exploiters and the deceivers.

Brother Ivo is not here to cast the first stone. Yet he cannot help but remind folks of these truths when the matters come back into the public arena.

Next year there is every likelihood that Hillary Clinton will run for the Presidency. Before she does so, she ought to repent of her part in the abuse of Miss Lewinski and the others. She should instruct all her supporters to lay aside their favoured hashtag #waronwomen which they deploy without any sense of irony against opponents who are nothing but pro-life.

It will be interesting to see how the BBC handles these matters and whether, on its “comedy” news reviews, Mrs Clinton receives one tenth of the disrespect minor UKIP Councillors receive when they are similarly caught out.

There was no more focussed campaign against the feminist ideals of equality and respect than the Clinton conspiracy to silence Bill Clinton’s “conquests”.

There has been a consistent – and by no means unjustified -campaign to force the Catholic Church to own its part in the exploitation and covering up of child abuse by its officers. The same logic should apply to the Democratic Party before Mrs Clinton asks for the trust of the American people.

Until she does so, she remains every bit as tainted as the Church officers and representatives who encouraged the cover up or allowed guilty men to retain the veneer of respectability whilst the victims suffered injustice in silence.

It is time for the Clinton Democrats to repent their #waronwomen.

Jeremy Clarkson; mountains and molehills

Unknown-7

Many years ago, the scriptwriters Frank Muir and Denis Norden set themselves a challenge to break every one of the BBC guidelines on taste and decency in one sentence. At that time, no programme could make jokes about religion, the Royal Family, race or sexual activity, and they came up with the line “Christ”, said the King, “that nigger’s a poof”.

Despite a genuine dislike of taking the Lord’s name in vain, Brother Ivo still smiles at the subversive brilliance, verbal dexterity, and conscission of their invention. It was that skill which made them pre-eminent in their field for decades and throughout that time their gentle affectionate mocking of humanities foibles and weaknesses were never perceived by anyone to be anywhere near “hate speech”, that ugly invention of the equally ugly politically correct.

The line which they wrote was a verbal answer to a puzzle they had set themselves.

The world event they constructed was so improbable as to be safely removed from all of the ills which the decency code attempted to exclude. Yet to tell the story of their invention today risks bringing down all manner of of accusation upon Brother Ivo. It is because he is able to safely address these issues, having nothing to lose, that he feels compelled to do so.

He comes from a generation that had many many faults in these matters but it is not one over which the succeeding ones have any right to feel morally superior. Let him offer a few examples.

In the days when you could be prosecuted or killed for provocative behaviour, the comedian Lennie Bruce challenged everybody’s attitudes. He was a “hip” jazz fan and would take to the stage with a theme rather than a routine, and his comedy was improvised. In one such routine he took racial epithets and constructed a kind of jazz drum solo. Having identified a Polack, some Niggers, a Yid a Mick and a Spic he was soon chanting the rhythm of his invention like a musical nonsense verse before, having disarmed the terms, reduced them to a meaningless cacophony of syllables, he broke off, declaring all such attitudes equally meaningless.

In 60’s America it was a brave and creditable performance. Lenny, with his chanting of each of these terms, risked more, achieved more for racial harmony than the anonymous sneaks who took a muffled out-take of Jeremy Clarkson recording a nursery rhyme and published it for their own purposes.

Another example is still with us. Kinky Friedman is a Texan singer who wrote a song satirising racial prejudice against both himself , a Jew, and black people. “They ain’t making Jews like Jesus anymore” proclaims that today, Jews don’t always turn the other cheek, but along the way he has his protagonist ” a rednecked nerd in a bowling shirt” mistake him for a “well dressed country nigger”. Kinky needs to establish the prejudice before demolishing it – all in the musical style which the redneck would have thought defined him only. It is satire and edgy to this day forty years on.

Brother Ivo is very comfortable owning these examples of his generation’ s steps on the way to tolerance in the public sphere, for these were small but important cultural landmarks of far greater significance than the PC heavies who predate upon the foolish, like bullies.

Lenny Bruce was quite an immoral man and certainly no Christian, yet he had a number of insights which deserve respect. He would had been excoriating of the new puritanism of the politically correct, and in his spirit Brother Ivo proposes we continue that legacy by insisting that we reserve our ire and condemnation of racism for those who are truly racist, unkind or intolerant. Lennie famously remarked that the Liberal can understand and tolerate everything – except those who don’t understand them.

Making mountains out of molehills like the Jeremy Clarkson story is self indulgent and a distraction.

Clarkson, like Carol Thatcher before him and, before her, Ron Atkinson, come from the same generation as Lenny Bruce and Kinky Friedman. It was the generation that loved their golliwogs, called their pet cats Nigger and laughed at Michael Bates brilliant portrayal of an Indian in “It Ain’t Half Hot Mum. This was also  the same generation which rejected Enoch Powell,  passed the Race Relations Act, brought Apartheid to an end and learned (much thanks to Ron Atkinson) to welcome black footballers as they grew to make their great contribution to the National game. That acceptance probably did more to move “minorities” into mainstream acceptance than anything else. When your star player in your sports team is black, it overcame any prior prejudices. We have yet to similarly exploit our Asian players’ talent but it will come.

When much has been achieved, all that is left for the pygmy campaigners of today is to complain at small things. Mr Clarkson was probably silly to start on that particular rhyme in his sound test , but it was perhaps not so very far from the naughtiness of Muir and Norden. One thought the BBC enjoyed boundary pushing, and edginess against the norm, seeing how close one can get to the line without crossing it.

Mr Clarkson’s transgression is about as outrageous as a ten year old saying ” bum” at the back of the class in 1912. Back then, nobody liked sneaks.

Plainly Christians insist upon according dignity to all we meet. In this context, is everything. “By their fruits ye shall know them” and none of those driven out of public life by the Politically correct strike Brother Ivo as Himmlers in the making.

There was a recent attempt to prosecute fans of Tottenham Hotspur who had appropriated the term” Yid” to themselves. That had done so historically in solidarity with their many Jewish supporters when other fans abused them. It has happily been accepted that that term, like many others, is used as a familiarity interlnally within the group and its associated friends. Comedians like Chris Rock and Reginald Hunter routinely use the offending term knowingly to those of their own race and they do it with a mischievous glint in their eyes to tease the discomfort of white members of the audience.

Jesus too used this technique to make a more important point.

When he used the term “hypocrite’ against his opponents, it had a plain undertone. His opponents hid their true nature and were thus acting like the masked actors of the Greek theatre;”You are no better than those dreadful Greeks” is the stinging implication to proud Jews. Similarly, when he rebuked the Syrophonecian  woman for seeking the blessing intended for the Jews there was a racial divide implicit in his initial testing rejection, which brought forth the response that the little dogs under the table may catch the children’s scraps.

Was Jesus “racist”?

Plainly not, yet many Christians will happily join the marxist approach of the  politically correct in applying this term to those they disagree with on other grounds.

Surely the various examples, biblical and secular, which Brother Ivo has identified are joined by a common thread. It is that context is everything. Intention and context is an important part of giving offence.

Those who wish to demonise words regardless of context might care to be reminded that society changes and that they may too in time fall foul of the language rules which the PC folk impose.

In forty years time, the grandchildren of today’s radicals may well be rebuking and prosecuting them for their use of the perforative word “Tory”. No matter that some of that clan use it amongst themselves, it is frequently used as a disparaging term – “hate speech” if you will. If you cannot conceive of using the term in a positive way but only as a derogatory  term or term of derision, if you use it to divide, then it is entirely foreseeable that this will join the list of that which is unsayable though you may convey exactly the same idea by referring to the “T-word”.

This is a nonsense. Moral people should ensure that their yea is yea and their nay means nay. If you can’t say it openly, you should not be saying it at all. Before I criticise you or think of prosecuting you I ought at the very least to examine the context before pronouncing judgement. It is what is in our hearts that corrupts us in our dealings with others not the words themselves.

Witch-hunting the foolish and the unguarded is not a moral activity, it is however a tactic of bullies with a political agenda of social control ( the clue is in the title) and for the male fides of that project alone it ought to be rejected.