Sir Roger Scruton on Burkas and Letterboxes

I picked this up somewhere, in the last week or so, as a comment on something. I’m reasonably sure that it is authentic, beyond that I know little about it, except that it is quite current.

It is also indubitably correct, so enjoy the words of a very wise man.

“The emerging witch-hunt culture would be an object of half-amused contempt, were we still protected, as we were until recently, by the robust law of libel. It is still possible to laugh at the absurdity of it all, if you sit at home, avoiding contact with ignorant and malicious people, and getting on with real life – the life beyond social media. Unfortunately, however, ignorant and malicious people have discovered a new weapon in their unremitting assault on the rest of us, which i s the art of taking offence.

I was brought up to believe that you should never give offence if you can avoid it; the new culture tells us that you should always take offence if you can. There are now experts in the art of taking offence, indeed whole academic subjects, such as ‘gender studies’, devoted to it. You may not know in advance what offence consists in – politely opening a door for a member of the opposite sex? Thinking of her sex as ‘opposite’? Thinking in terms of ‘sex’ rather than ‘gender’? Using the wrong pronoun? Who knows. We have encountered a new kind of predatory censorship, a desire to take offence that patrols the world for opportunities without knowing in advance what will best supply its venom. As with the puritans of the 17th century, the need to humiliate and to punish precedes any concrete sense of why.

I recall the extraordinary case of Boris Johnson and the burka. In the course of discussing the question whether the full facial covering should be banned here, as elsewhere in Europe, Johnson humorously remarked that a person in a burka has a striking resemblance to a letterbox. He was right. A woman in a burka resembles a letterbox much as a man in white tie resembles a penguin or a woman in feathers resembles a chicken.

It was obvious to anyone with a smattering of intellect that Johnson had no intention to give offence. However, there was political mileage in taking offence – so at once offence was taken. One ridiculous Lord (a Cameron creation) told us that the party whip should be withdrawn from Boris; MPs and public figures fell over each other in the rush to display their shock and distress that our Muslim fellow-citizens should have been so grievously offended; even the Prime Minister ste pped in to reprimand her former Foreign Secretary. Virtue-signalling was the order of the day. A kind of hysterical fear swept away all the important considerations that Johnson was putting before his readers, so that everyone, friend and foe alike, ran for shelter. We are not guilty, was the collective cry of the time-servers and wimps that govern us.

In reaction to this madness I ask myself who it is, in the matter of the burka, that habitually gives offence, and who it is that strives not to take it. We live in a face-to-face society, in which strangers look each other in the eye, address each other directly, and take responsibility for what they say. This custom is not just a fashion. It is deeply implanted in us by a thousand-year old religious and legal tradition, by the Enlightenment conception of what citizenship means, and by a literary and artistic culture that tells us that we are in everything duty bound to see the other as on equal terms with the self. Being face t o face with strangers is at the root of our political freedom.

I was brought up in that freedom. I cannot easily accept that people should appear in public ostentatiously concealing their face from me. The British believe that strangers deal openly with each other and are accountable for their looks and their words. It is natural for them to take offence at those who brazenly hide their face, while nevertheless claiming all the rights and privileges of citizenship. I certainly feel awkward in the presence of such people, and suspect that they are abusing the trust that we spontaneously extend to strangers. Nevertheless, it seems to me a singular virtue in the British that they strive not to take offence, when standing before a black letterbox, wondering where their message should be posted.

No sensitive person, however ignorant he might be of the Muslim faith, would fail to take off his shoes when entering a mosque – not because he feared the reaction of the worshippers, but because he knew that long-standing custom requires this, and that not to observe that custom is to show disrespect for a sacred space. Somehow we are supposed to forget that principle when it comes to long-standing customs of our own. For us too there are sacred spaces, and the public square is one of them: it is the space that belongs to others, not to you, and where you meet those others face to face. When we encounter those who refuse to accept this we are supposed to think that the entitlement to take offence rests entirely with them, and the tendency to give offence entirely with us.

Is it not time to get this whole matter into perspective, and to recognise that we must live together on terms, that Muslims must learn to laugh at themselves as the rest of us do, and that the art of taking offence might be a profitable business to the experts, but is a huge loss to everyone else?”

Roger Scruton

I would only add that while Sir Roger is speaking of the Moslems learning to laugh at themselves, an appropriate comment in contemporary Britain, it is also true for almost the entire left.

We have commented before on the death of comedy, and this is why. If one can’t laugh at oneself, one cannot laugh at anyone. And almost all of life, even our misfortunes, is at some level funny, and we’ll be much healthier if we can see it.

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The Sad British Monday Videos

You may have heard of Ed Balls. He’s another one of those discredited, washed up British politicians who have found still another inflated paycheck at the anti-British, anti-American Brussels Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The fact that they do this nonsense on the taxpayer’s dime is remarkable. Well, someday Britain may be freed from this plague.

In any case, his latest junket was to America to understand why we elected Trump. Here’s the trailer.

Well, he got a surprise or three. He found thoughtful people who had completely reasonable, in fact, excellent reasons (although not to the BBC or Westminster bubble) for their vote, he found a black man who understands that the battle flag is part of our history, not racism, and so on.

Being the BBC they had to go someplace where they were sure their citizens would be shocked at the raucous fun Americans have, so he went here.

I’m gonna take a guess that for all his noise, he had a good time, I sure would have, and I’ll bet a lot of Britons would as well, although maybe not those superior beings in the government and the BBC. Well, that’s their loss. Come on over, guys and gals, and party hearty! It’s still a free country.

Britain, not so much. We had a fair amount to say about Tommy Robinson here, as did many others around the world. Here’s a couple of Anglican clergy, talking about that and other things of note, including Pope Francis.

Paul Weston has a few questions for the Home Secretary about the treatment of Tommy. They’re good questions which deserve an answer, which I’m pretty sure will go unanswered.

Ezra Levant of Rebel Media interviewed Tommy shortly after his release, it is not a pleasant story.

He looks and sounds rather bad, to my unpracticed eye.

And here he is with Tucker Carlson.

President Reagan is famously said this:

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

There is no question that he is right about that. But there is another quote that Americans need to take to heart, from him. It is no less true.

“If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth. And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except to sovereign people, is still the newest and most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man. This is the issue of this election. Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”

 

Video Monday

Well, I don’t know, how about some Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to start the week off right. Sounds good to me.

Making fools out of Senators, of course that is low hanging fruit.

 

When he resigned as Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson prettyymuch took apart Theresa May’s government with very faint praise. Here it is.

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My friends over at The Conservative Woman found this a couple of weeks ago

It’s pretty good, although long. But I do agree with Fionn when he says:

Sam Harris is one of the ‘four horsemen of atheism’ with Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins.

Jordan Peterson has a more ambivalent view of Christianity, talking about its wisdom and the necessary meaning it provides. However, he adopts a Jungian, metaphorical view and seems to believe there is truth, but not that it is the Truth.

Douglas Murray holds a similar view, concluding that Christianity is the best bulwark against Islamism and the progressive madness. Murray made a similar comment to the one I made here, that new religions are being formed by the day as we enter a new era of paganism and what will come may be worse than what was.

Heartening as it is to hear brilliant minds speak highly of Christianity, such an instrumental view of the faith will not survive. We cannot have Christianity without Christ, a religion founded on our (justifiable) hatred and fear of some things – nihilism, Islamism and progressivism – rather than our love of God.

Have a good Monday.

The Week; Some things Never Change

We live in a time of change, but the essentials don’t

I live about fifty miles from North Platte, and you know, many of those who contributed to the Canteen during World War Two were from the surrounding communities, although likely the majority were from the city. I can remember people who told of getting up at 3 am to catch the train to North Platte, with their homegrown food (thus not subject to rationing) put in a full day greeting the troops, and returned home around midnight. Every day, from Pearl Harbor until well after VJ Day, never missing a day. All of it, the time and the food, at no cost to the troops or the government.

Returning to our regular programming…

International News

The financial section

No such thing as too much Hayek!

Wow! Just Wow!

Keep it clean!

Mostly from PowerLine and Bookworm as usual. And a few from Ace’s.

Well, It seems I’m being called. See you later, maybe! 😀

RAF Centenary 1918–2018

This came to me from The Churchill Centre, as it may have to some of you, by Robert Courts

The Mall leading from Buckingham Palace to Admiralty Arch is alive with red, white, and blue. Union Jacks combined with sky-blue RAF ensigns hang from every lamppost. The centenary celebration of the first air force to become a fully independent branch of any nation’s military is underway in London.

On the roof terrace above the House of Commons, the first aircraft appear: a lumbering phalanx of Chinooks, the distinctive rumble from their double rotors beating off the office blocks below. Next come the big stars passing the London Eye, roaring behind the scaffold-clad Elizabeth Tower, and zipping around the Foreign Office and Treasury buildings with their proudly displayed RAF station flags. The audience audibly gasps at the music of nine Rolls-Royce Merlin and Griffon engines powering the Lancaster, Spitfires, and Hurricane of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The national DNA stirs within every watching person.

The flypast slowly speeds up. The heavy transports from West Oxfordshire’s RAF Brize Norton lead the secretive intelligence aircraft from the old Bomber County of Lincolnshire before the brand new Anglo-American F-35s roar in to lead the centrepiece: twenty-two Typhoons—the backbone of the RAF’s modern fleet—forming a “100” figure in the sky. And as a finale, the world-famous Red Arrows slide in effortless formation across the grey sky, trailing red, white, and blue smoke as they go.

In Parliament Square, Whitehall, and Trafalgar Square, tens of thousands of people wear RAF roundel rosettes while their eyes search skyward. They clutch the augmented reality app to “collect” aircraft types as they appear. The iPhone app illustrates how far the RAF’s aviation has come. On Horseguards Parade, the RAF have brought a selection of their most famous aircraft for public display. The first—the BE2c, a canvas and wood contraption—is a world away from the digitally inter-connected, supersonic F-35s and Typhoons. Yet these radically different types of machine are separated by only 100 years.

For the RAF personnel of today, flying the plane is a basic skill compared with operating the mission systems on their complicated aircraft and that more akin to operating their iPhones than the “seat of the pants,” stick-and-rudder flight of the First World War.

In just a century, the Royal Air Force has gone from experimental novelty to the heart of British national identity. It has policed an Empire, taken help to the victims of natural disasters worldwide, flown a nuclear deterrent, fought for victory above the trenches, taken the fight to the enemy when no-one else could, and, in the long, hot summer of 1940, saved a nation and the free world before being justly immortalised by Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The Few may be fewer now than once they were, but they still lead the world, and have a richly-deserved place in the centre of Britain’s national life.

Robert Courts is Member of Parliament for Whitney.

I would have given much to be standing in, say, Trafalgar Square that day. Not least because the music of the Merlin speaks at a very deep level to one’s soul. Think of that, standing in the square honoring one of the greatest heroes of the English Speaking people, while honoring some of the bravest of them, the renowned “Few”.

Mr. Courts gives an accurate, albeit short history of the RAF, little point to adding to it in a general post. But the RAF (especially, but not only) epitomizes the toughness, the doughtiness, dare I say the pluck, of the British forces. It is one of the base causes of the modern world and needs to be more honored.

Part of the reason that this came through to us from The Churchill Centre is, of course, his speech which memorialized the RAF in the Battle of Britain:

The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day, but we must never forget that all the time, night after night, month after month, our bomber squadrons travel far into Germany, find their targets in the darkness by the highest navigational skill, aim their attacks, often under the heaviest fire, often with serious loss, with deliberate, careful discrimination, and inflict shattering blows upon the whole of the technical and war-making structure of the Nazi power. On no part of the Royal Air Force does the weight of the war fall more heavily than on the daylight bombers who will play an invaluable part in the case of invasion and whose unflinching zeal it has been necessary in the meanwhile on numerous occasions to restrain…

All true, and perhaps understated, here was the first check on Hitler’s designs, which led him in his hubris to take on the Soviet Union, thus leading to his regimes ignominious end.

The last paragraph of that speech spoke of another matter, one that foretold the future

…Some months ago we came to the conclusion that the interests of the United States and of the British Empire both required that the United States should have facilities for the naval and air defence of the Western Hemisphere against the attack of a Nazi power… We had therefore decided spontaneously, and without being asked or offered any inducement, to inform the Government of the United States that we would be glad to place such defence facilities at their disposal by leasing suitable sites in our Transatlantic possessions for their greater security against the unmeasured dangers of the future.… His Majesty’s Government are entirely willing to accord defence facilities to the United States on a 99 years’ leasehold basis… Undoubtedly this process means that these two great organisations of the English-speaking democracies, the British Empire and the United States, will have to be somewhat mixed up together in some of their affairs for mutual and general advantage. For my own part, looking out upon the future, I do not view the process with any misgivings. I could not stop it if I wished; no one can stop it. Like the Mississippi, it just keeps rolling along. Let it roll. Let it roll on full flood, inexorable, irresistible, benignant, to broader lands and better days

So it has proved, to the benefit of all the world, and that too was on display as the RAF flew over London the other day. Leading the current day warriors in their Typhoons, was the future, in the Anglo-American F35, the aircraft that is the future of air power in all the English speaking world. Unless I miss my guess, the F-35s were from the first squadron of Lightning IIs in the RAF, No 617 Squadron, the justly famed Dambusters. It is fitting that it should make its first ceremonial appearance leading the oldest air force in the world.

Seven Years

I had a notifier from WordPress yesterday that I had been doing this for seven years now. I sort of knew that but it had slipped my mind. Our lives sort of slip into periods and seven years will work for that. I’m well into the ninth of those and likely will see a couple more, if God is willing.

Here are the very first few paragraphs  we published:

I recently had an opportunity to travel by train back to Nebraska from Philadelphia. As most of you who have ever traveled by train know, it gives you a fair amount of time to reflect on whatever crosses your mind. For some reason this trip (which I actually take roughly every year) caused me to reflect on the industrial powerhouse that was America. If you travel by train, you see a lot of industrial areas new and old.  What struck me this time was coming through Pittsburgh, northern Ohio and northwest Indiana was remembering these areas when I was a kid back in the 60’s, when it was very common still to see the black smoke and flames shoot into the air at the steel mills. These were the mills that industrialized America and made the steel that built the machines that won two World Wars and conquered a continent and fed the world.

It is commonly said that steel built the railroad industry and the railroads built the steel industry and it’s true; if one includes coal in the steel industry. What awesome plants they were, for instance, the main street of Gary, Indiana (itself named for a steel executive) ends at the main gate of US Steel Gary Works. And remember a basic element of US Steel; Carnegie Steel produced more steel than Great Britain in the 1890’s. Pittsburgh was much the same, only possibly more so. Here was the steel produced that made the railroads, which then made the largest common market in the world, and the steel for the agricultural equipment that still feeds the world, and the steel for the American automobiles and the weapons and transportation of the American military that won two World Wars  and the Cold War.

On this trip you pass by the old Pullman Plant in Michigan City, Indiana that built railcars, mostly freight cars in this plant (the passenger cars came out of the plant in Pullman, Illinois). Now it is an outlet mall, and American passenger trains have Canadian built cars. You also pass the ruins of the Studebaker plant in South Bend as well as the old Bendix plant (this one is still operating, now owned by Robert Bosch AG).

Most of the plants are still there, many in ruins, some still operating, that gave this region the nickname of the Rust Belt. There are a lot of reasons why it is now the rust belt; without going into those reasons, it is a melancholy sight for a person that remembers these areas in full operation to see it half shut down and falling into ruin. This may truly symbolize the greatness of America in the future, the country that provided a far better living to the average man than anybody had ever dreamed possible; and provided much of it to the entire world as well.

From Reflections on a Train Trip.

There is a pathos in that, a kid from the rust belt seeing it now with fresh eyes, in all its declining glory. It would get worse.

Our best year here – so far – was 2012 with all the excitement of hoping that Romney would win the presidency, and the heartbreak when he didn’t, which explains why 2013 was the worst.

But 2012 was also when my former blogging partner turned up, and soon became the dearest friend I ever had. The one person in the world who I could talk about anything with, knowing she would understand. It was she, above all, who brought me back to Christianity, and introduced me to the wonders of Walsingham.

But all good things (and bad things too) pass. We nearly lost her to cancer in 2014, saved only by what was clearly a miracle from God himself, followed by a long recovery with only limited contact. Then something went wrong between us, and almost two years ago, she was gone. Leaving a hole in my life and my heart that is permanent. Every day, I look at her picture, and wonder what she is doing, and wish she would answer my questions, and give me comfort.

She was a key part of how NEO developed and is still read often here. She brought a perspective that broadened mine and has much to do with why we write about the UK these days.

But by then blogging was part of my life. For most of my life, I followed in my dad’s footsteps, working with electricity, and like the industry itself, doing things with it that he wouldn’t have comprehended. Now, in retirement, I follow in Mom’s, an English teacher, and a good one. I don’t know how good a teacher I am, although as I’ve often said, bringing along apprentices to be better than I was, was one of my chief joys in working.

In any case, it is a habit now, and one I have no desire to break. I enjoy the research, the writing, and most of all, the commenters, here and elsewhere. If one isn’t careful, it can easily become a lifestyle, and an enjoyable one, that I have no intention of ending.

But, to go back to the beginning of this article, how different it is today. We have a president that doesn’t think the future is limited and is trying to get the government out of our way.

The numbers tell part of the story, and it is a joy to read them, as it is to see how an American business perspective changes the entire world. But it is not the important part of the story. The important part is that the sleeping (perhaps the word should be comatose) giant is stirring and once again America is becoming optimistic.

This is something that Romney, for all our hopes, couldn’t have provided, good man that he is. This is something that it took a real estate developer from Brooklyn, who understood the working people to make happen.

So maybe, for all the busted dreams, Obama was the medicine, foul tasting though it was, that America needed.

So here’s to many more, my friends, and yes #MAGA

 

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