Canary, Corbyn, and Kennedy.

July 19, 2016

Fresh, fearless, independent journalism” is the roar you hear from The Canary. An online publication that seems to exist with the sole purpose to defend the Corbyn side of the Labour Party until its dying breath, with uncritical tales of sinister conspiracies that don’t exist, and words like ‘coup’ to describe a perfectly reasonable Parliamentary procedure in a Parliamentary democracy of a vote of no confidence in a leader seeking a Parliamentary majority to govern.

Around a week ago, The Canary published a story that has since disappeared. Owing, I’m guessing, to its utterly absurd premise:


– That’s right, The Canary compared Jeremy Corbyn to John Kennedy.

The article tells us that the ‘establishment’ tried to stop Kennedy. I’m immediately suspicious of anyone telling me that an ill-defined ‘establishment’ acting as a coherent unit are working together to defeat an unpopular candidate. It stinks of a refusal to accept any responsibility. And when it comes to Kennedy, well, the establishment line simply doesn’t fit the same line they’re trying to apply to Corbyn. We should perhaps remember that Kennedy’s dad Joseph was the establishment. A high ranking member of the Democrats, Jo Kennedy was appointed chairman of the SEC, and Ambassador to the United Kingdom under FDR. His extreme wealth allowed him untold influence within Democrat Party politics. Joseph’s father Patrick also had great influence in the Democratic Party and held a lot of stock in a bank. John Kennedy himself had been in the House and the Senate, and easily won the nomination in 1960, his brothers had similar lives, with Edward Kennedy the Lion of the Senate for decades.

The article then presents a video of Kennedy giving a speech on the negative effects of censorship, govt secrecy & withholding information from the public, and that an enemy (he’s talking about the Soviet Union) who rely on subversion instead of elections are to be opposed.

Now, If we are to bring that speech into the 21st Century, we might apply it to the censorship, the threats to journalists, the imprisoning critics, of Chavez’s regime in what is now the failed state of Venezuela. The same regime that Corbyn’s Shadow Secretary of State for Justice Richard Burgon has such fond feelings towards:

– This is the Shadow Secretary of State for Justice mourning the loss of a man who, according to Human Rights Watch, wasn’t too keen on justice:

“Lower-court judges have faced intense pressure not to issue rulings that could upset the government. In 2009, Chávez publicly called for the imprisonment of a judge for 30 years after she granted conditional liberty to a prominent government critic who had spent almost three years in prison awaiting trial. The judge, María Lourdes Afiuni, was arrested and spent more than a year in prison in pretrial detention, in deplorable conditions. She remains under house arrest.”

Indeed, Kennedy’s speech, when brought into the future, might even refer to Mao’s regime, who, ten years after Kennedy’s death, had the support of Corbyn’s then teenage spin doctor, Seumas Milne:

– So similar is Corbyn to a Kennedy Administration that dedicated its entire foreign policy framework to anti-Soviet activities, that he appointed as his Justice Secretary a man who mourns the loss of a left wing leader who used the justice system to protect his position, and a press secretary who happened to once be a dedicated Maoist and went on to become business manager of a publication made by the publishing arm of the Communist Party of Great Britain (a publication – Straight Left – that supported the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s). The same Milne, who a couple of years back insisted that Stalin’s murders had been “exaggerated” and Nato was to blame for the violence in Ukraine, not Russia. I’m not entirely sure Kennedy would have approved. Though just in case you’re unsure, here’s Kennedy speaking in 1960:

“The enemy is the communist system itself — implacable, insatiable, unceasing in its drive for world domination.”

Kennedy himself was of course nothing like Jeremy Corbyn. Kennedy – in the context of the 1960s – flowed between liberal and conservative, he governed from the centre, he was slow on civil rights (his brother and his Vice President were far more liberally minded on that issue, far more progressive, and far more correct), but he defended and empowered unions, and took on big business when necessary. But he wasn’t dogmatic, indeed he took on unions and defended free trade when he thought it right to do so too. His Federal budget was lower than Eisenhower’s, yet he increased military spending. He was neither left nor right, he was a pragmatist, and a liberal.

The Canary article says of Kennedy:

“He alone dared to stand by principles of peace and equity at a time when the rest of the world seemed determined to self-destruct.”

– They must be wholly unaware of the Bay of Pigs, and the sanctioning of the overthrow of Diem. But I expect nothing more from an article that seems wholly unaware that the UK Prime Minister actually resigned as a result of the Brexit vote:

“This latest and most officious coup to topple Corbyn was supposedly born of disappointment – his alleged inability to galvanise Labour voters in the recent referendum. Hang on. Has nobody noticed our new Prime Minister was also of the “remain” camp, and barely uttered a word during the whole campaign? Why is it not our actual leader and governing party that are having to defend against votes of “no-confidence”, and being held accountable for the opening of Pandora’s Box?”

Back to Kennedy. In 1963 just two months before his fateful trip to Dallas, Kennedy signed a tax cut that slashed tax rates across the board, including the top rate of tax for the wealthiest and a 5% cut in corporation tax. David Rockefeller and Henry Ford II fully backed his plans. Indeed, when Kennedy’s US Ambassador to India – the Keynesian John Kenneth Galbraith – opposed the tax cuts, Kennedy called him into his office and told him to “shut up”. Kennedy was listening to Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors Walter Heller on the idea of tax cuts. The more left-leaning Democrats in the Party where complaining that the tax cuts were too beneficial to the wealthiest.

A year before the sweeping tax cuts, Kennedy proposed tariff reductions. In a speech in 1962 on the Free Trade Expansion Act, Kennedy said:

“This act recognizes, fully and completely, that we cannot protect our economy by stagnating behind tariff walls, but that the best protection possible is a mutual lowering of tariff barriers among friendly nations so that all may benefit from a free flow of goods. Increased economic activity resulting from increased trade will provide more job opportunities for our workers. Our industry, our agriculture, our mining will benefit from increased export opportunities as other nations agree to lower their tariffs. Increased exports and imports will benefit our ports, steamship lines, and airlines as they handle an increased amount of trade. Lowering of our tariffs will provide an increased flow of goods for our American consumers. Our industries will be stimulated by increased export opportunities and by freer competition with the industries of other nations for an even greater effort to develop an efficient, economic, and productive system. The results can bring a dynamic new era of growth.”

Whilst Kennedy – in a letter to Ben Gurion – is critical of Israel developing nuclear arms, because it might push hostile Arab states to leap to the Soviets, – his entire foreign policy was a framework of suspicion of the Soviets – he was especially and publicly supportive of Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself. Kennedy says:

“For Israel was not created in order to disappear – Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom; and no area of the world has ever had an overabundance of democracy and freedom.”

– This insistence that Israel will not be broken is in stark contrast to our old friend Seumas Milne, who in a video not too long ago, insisted that Hamas – a group of far-right Theocrats who want Israel to be eradicated – wont be broken.

Above all, Kennedy was a liberal. He believed in freeing individuals up to pursue their own goals; In the Senate he worked to eliminate the enforcement of oaths of loyalty from aid recipients; he opposed the sort of censorship we see from those Corbyn & his loyal following swoon over, he opposed Soviet influence across the World; he promoted free and open trade in the hope of encouraging struggling businesses; he was proud of his plan to lower tax rates for people across the board; he supported social security that protected individuals from soaring healthcare costs that rendered them less free; he believed workers have an inherent right to collective bargaining; and he advocated a Jewish right to self determination in Israel.

For The Canary to imply that Corbyn is at all similar to Kennedy, to have to use Kennedy’s memory as a great progressive to try to win over centre-left liberals who admire Kennedy, is to subtly and perhaps subconsciously accept that they cannot simply win a general election by preaching to the Socialist Workers Party, they have to win over the centre and centre-left, and that maybe, just maybe dismissing those people as red Tory, Blairite establishment, isn’t going to win over anyone.

Dear Momentum….

June 28, 2016

Dear Momentum,

My name is Jamie. I am a centre-left voter. Traditionally, my family has always voted Labour, I’ve oscillated between Labour and the Liberal Democrats for my voting years (I’m 30 now). I tend to be suspicious and critical of all power structures, including the leader of the opposition.

I want to vote Labour. I really do. I feel naturally drawn to the Labour Party. At the beginning of Corbyn’s leadership, I was willing to give him an opportunity and to defend him against criticism where I felt it not right. For example, I felt his comments that the killing of Bin Laden was tragic, were taken out of context and cynically used. As were his comments on Emwazi’s killing, in fact, I wrote on it here.

But here’s the thing; I cannot vote for a man who thinks Hamas are “…dedicated to social and political justice” (he genuinely did say that, it’s on film, it cannot be dismissed as ‘oh he just wants to get them to the negotiating table) and signs motions that imply a genocide attempt in Kosovo was invented by the US. Nor can I vote for a man you put forward – in a very UKIP manner – as fighting the establishment, when he’s spent a good thirty years defending some of the most dictatorial establishments (like Chavez) on the planet, worked for Russian State media, and didn’t have too much of a problem with Gaddafi. Nor can I vote for a man who seems to have half-arsed his way through the EU referendum debate, never challenging the clearly false claims made by the Leave side. I just can’t. And there are plenty of centre and centre-left who feel exactly the same. My local MP is a Labour MP, and because I feel my values – where social justice is not anything like that of Hamas – have been abandoned by Momentum and Jeremy Corbyn, I am unlikely to vote Labour. The PLP are not evil red Zionist Tories, they are real people worried for their jobs. Which is an electoral problem.

Here’s the thing; excusing religious supremacy should be as far away from the Labour Party as excusing racial supremacy. It should be a line that none of us cross, when we walk into the voting booth. We accept that Israel’s right wing is a bigoted group determined to block a peace process, but that does not mean we suddenly side with Hamas. We should side with those abused by both Israel and Hamas, and we should promote liberal, democratic, secular values, not defend and excuse groups that seek to impose the exact opposite. We should look at World leaders regardless of whether they hang out on the left or the right, and criticise them the moment they start to restrict free expression, threaten LGBT, and harm journalists. We should not defend them as Corbyn has done with Chavez in the past, and as I suspect a lot will do when Castro dies. Chavez was a man who, according to Human Rights Watch:

“Under Chávez, the government dramatically expanded its ability to control the content of the country’s broadcast and news media. It passed laws extending and toughening penalties for speech that “offends” government officials, prohibiting the broadcast of messages that “foment anxiety in the public,” and allowing for the arbitrary suspension of TV channels, radio stations, and websites.”

Journalists silenced and threatened, judges imprisoned  for refusing to condemn critics of Chavez, and a failed state legacy. How did Corbyn respond to that grotesque abuse of basic liberal principles?

. Again, support of those who stomp on rights all over the place should be a line we don’t cross, as liberal Labour voters. I wont cross that line. And that will be echoed across the country. Labour MPs who are now revolting, are doing so because the values of the Labour leadership, the Socialist Workers Party, and Momentum are nowhere close to being aligned to the values of constituents. They are nowhere near aligned to my values; libera-left, secular democrat.

Further, I have been a constant critic of the Tory Party. I have been a constant critic of malicious Tory rhetoric since 2010. I have criticised members of the Labour Party for refusing to challenge Tory narratives. The Tory use of the Philpott murders to attack the concept of Welfare, I consider to be one of the biggest cases of grotesque opportunism I’ve ever come across. Their defence of Saudi Arabia to the point where they aided their rise to the chair of the UN Human Right Council, is astonishing. I want the bedroom tax gone for all the misery is has inflicted. And yet for this, if I criticise Jeremy Corbyn, you will label me a ‘Red Tory’, or a ‘traitor’, or part of a vast Zionist conspiracy. When I gave my support to strategic and limited airstrikes on IS targets to aid allies who have now – with the help of airstrikes – liberated much of previously held IS strongholds, you responded by telling me I support killing children. How do you expect to win an election with that? When we read that your supporters are threatening Labour MPs, how do you expect to win support for that way of doing things?

Do not take this as an undemocratic swipe. I do not think it wise for the PLP to overturn Labour rules and replace a Labour leader democratically elected by the members. I think the members should be in control of who the leader is. I am pleading here, as someone who doesn’t want another decade of Tory rule, for the members to elect a leader who can actually win an election, and not just a man who happens to be on the left. Please, critically analyse him.

Because if you want to win an election, which I assume you do, I assume this isn’t all grandstanding, I assume it’s not all a show of power with no goal in sight, then you’re going to need to win back voters on the centre of the spectrum, because if you don’t, the Tories will. You’re going to need to win back voters from the centre-left, because if you don’t, they’ll vote Liberal Democrat or just not bother to vote at all. You cannot just insult us, dismiss our concerns, and think it’ll be fine… it wont. You’re going to need to talk about immigration, because if you don’t, you’ll lose even more working class voters to UKIP. And we then have to watch as you hand another election to the Conservative Party. So far, you insult all centre and centre-left voters as Tories despite our continued battle against them, you insult working class people by refusing to acknowledge their concerns about immigration, and you refuse to acknowledge that winning an election requires a rainbow of voters, not just those dedicated to the far-left. You have abandoned every principle necessary for victory, and all the people you need to win over. It is difficult to tell what your goal actually is.

A general election is a likely scenario following the appointment of a new Conservative leader. And the Tories are in freefall at the moment, they are – as always – tearing themselves apart over Europe. For this, we need a Labour Party that can win an election. Whilst you’re hemorrhaging working class voters to UKIP, centre-left voters, and centre voters elsewhere, the Labour Party under Corbyn cannot win an election. The game is up. It’s time to move on.


Brexit: Democracy to anti-democracy.

June 25, 2016

It’s an odd one, is democracy. It brings out all the hypocrites spectacularly quickly, and they rather like to scream the loudest. 

I voted for the United Kingdom to remain a part of the European Union. Naturally I was called a traitor, as I suspect a lot of Leavers were called racists. But not only did my side lose, the town that I live in voted to Leave. I lost. My side lost. And whilst I don’t particularly feel comfortable with 51.8% of the population stripping me of my European Citizenship and rights without my full consent, I wont be signing the petition calling for a second referendum like some in the remain camp are doing (and apparently Nigel Farage).

I wont be doing that, because if the result had been the other way around, I wouldn’t be calling for it, and nor do I expect most remain voters would have called for it. I wont be doing that, because I was fine with the rules of the referendum and made no complaint in the lead up. I wont be doing that, because I respect democracy. Something that a few Leave voters have already decided to abandon.

The dust had barely settled at the polling booths, before the Leave elites were taking to the air-waves to distance themselves from their leading arguments during the campaign. Hannan was much more subdued in his comments on immigration, despite Leave whipping up fear of immigration in the final days of the campaign, with hideous leaflets about Turkey, and posters with queues of brown people. Farage insisted there will not be £350m extra to pump into the NHS, despite a Leave voter just moments before explaining how she was excited for that extra money to be pumped in. They never claimed the NHS would have more spent on it, said the voices of the Leave campaign who have in the past expressed their delight at the idea of privatising the health service. They never implied it, they said. Except when they did, which was always, and except when they were confronted on it, and simply refused to answer, turning instead to empty substance-less sentiments like “make Britain great again!“. Except here:

As well as completely distancing themselves from manipulative claims that essentially won them a momentous vote, they’ve also appeared to distance themselves from the very democratic values that they’ve run an entire campaign on. Indeed, Boris insisted the result of the referendum was a victory for democracy! They – along with the Mail, Telegraph, and The Sun – had defeated the establishment. No longer would elected elites appoint unelected leaders to govern as the head of a large state. Boris Johnson. A man – a Royalist man, incidentally – likely to be appointed by a small group of Tory elites, to the role of head of the UK government, with a new agenda that apparently I shouldn’t be allowed to vote for or against. But wait!, say the Brexit hypocrites! That’s how our system works, so it’s absolutely fine to abandon the “let the people beat the elites!” mentality. In this instance, because it’s ‘just the way we do things around here’, it’s fine apparently. A new government is going to be distinctly more anti-EU than the current lot, a completely different ideological mentality. A Brexit government. Let’s be clear; no one voted for a Brexit government. This wasn’t on the ballot paper. No one voted for Boris to lead the country. No one voted for Farage to have a place in it (which he likely will). They will be appointed, not elected. But it’s our system, so they say it’s now fine to adopt a principle you fought against 24 hours prior. If I had run an entire campaign against the ‘establishment elites’ who are appointed by elected officials, and then I – an establishment elite – agree to be appointed by elected officials, and not the British people, I suspect I might feel like I’d completely abandoned an essential principle.

In the run up to the referendum, Nadine Dorries – from a Party that has forever referred to anyone implying that great wealth may not understand great poverty as indulging in the ‘politics of envy’ – went on a grand rant about a millionaire like David Beckham not understanding ordinary people. The hypocrisy at that point was at ‘breaking point’. But she isn’t the only one. The politicians positioning themselves as the great protectors of the British working class, against the elites, are the same politicians who vote to cut essential services, aren’t a fan of minimum wage, vote to cut taxes for the wealthiest at the expense of a safety net, & think the NHS should be abandoned. This is matched only by the utter uselessness of the current Labour leadership to wrestle those voters back.

And then there’s Toby Young. His article criticising the hyperbolic response by some remainers (the suggesting that Thursday was like waking up to find out the Nazis had won the war was a little bit bizarre, though if you search ‘nazis’ on Twitter, literally everything on the planet is compared to them at some point, including voting to remain) was going so well, until this:

“Over 33 million people have had their say about the future of these islands and those who woke up this morning to find things didn’t go their way must accept the result and work with the majority to do their best for the country.”

– I have several issues with this. In the space of about four hours, the UK had voted to leave the European Union with no plan in place for what comes next, the pound tumbled to 31 year lows, the Prime Minister resigned, Corbyn was under pressure to go, and the markets lost billions, but Toby Young would rather we all just moved on, despite a seismic shock.

The implication that a result of a democratic exercise – regardless of its instant ramifications – should not be scrutinised and we should all just accept it and move on, to be made by a political commentator is just bizarre. The arguments now being quickly abandoned, we should just get past it and move on. The dangerously divisive posters that imply sinister dark skinned men are about to swarm the country, we should just allow those who knew exactly what they were doing when they created it, to get away with no scrutiny and we should move on. People are genuinely scared for what has just happened, for the future, for their family’s future, and so those who voted for this do not get a free pass from criticism or political scrutiny. Indeed, I would argue that a very fundamental principle of democracy, is holding to account the winning side. Gove had dismissed the importance of experts, with their knowledge and reason, replacing it with pure belief… a very religious and irrational sentiment that I find unnerving to say the very least, because as the pound tumbled to its lowest level in 31 years (my entire life time), Young would rather we all didn’t scrutinise what led to it. The voices of belief over reason, and “I believe in Britain!” sentiments over practical implications win without question, when we imply their rhetoric, their narrative, should just go unquestioned.

Whilst Young criticised Remainers on social media, I will take the time to criticise Leavers on social media convinced that “It’s just my opinion” is a rhetorical shield that protects their opinion from criticism. It doesn’t. Your view is as open to debate, to mocking, to scrutiny, to contempt, as any other, just as Soviet Communism is, just as Islamism is, just as Nazism is. No view is to be protected. Including mine. And to scrutinise your view, is not at all similar to an all-out Saudi-style attack on your right to free expression. Express whatever you want, but do not expect complete silence. Whilst your right to a view must be respected and unmolested, whilst your absolute fundamental right to express your view in words and in art is to be absolutely defended and protected…. the substance of the view itself has no such right, and when it is aired in public, it opens itself up to scrutiny. That’s democracy. The very democracy you voted to protect. Deal with it, like I have to deal with my EU citizenship stripped from me.

So, the leading claims that they made and that arguably won them the vote, they now back away from, the democracy-over-elites narrative they pushed, they now adopt the opposite, and the fundamental democratic aspect of holding to account the victorious side, scrutinising their motives, actions, and ramifications they want you to put aside and forget…. for the good of this (my hand is on my heart) great country of ours. Democracy to anti-democracy.

Following Orlando.

June 14, 2016

The indescribable horror of the homophobic attack on the LGBT community in Orlando this past week seems to have set off a political storm of soul searching and hypocrisy.

49 people murdered, 49 scared beyond anything any of us can imagine, having their own lives stripped from them, and 49 families destroyed. 53 more with injuries and psychological scars that wont fade. A violent religious man who could easily obtain an assault rifle, drove for over an hour to specifically target innocent LGBT people at a place they should have been safe. And since then, I have sat and watched shameless political figures across the spectrum, who have either embraced or excused the most hideous homophobia in the past, suddenly hold vigils or moments of silence for the victims.

The House of Representatives today held a moments silence for the victims of the Orlando terror attack. Representatives who have long fought to withhold basic rights for LGBT people, who have taken to airwaves and public talks dehumanising LGBT folk, who would be fine with ‘no gays allowed’ signs in shops and workplaces across the country, who oppose non-discrimination in the workplace acts if they include protections for gay people, today stand and offer their grief over the deaths of those they’ve long considered not human enough for equal treatment, rights and dignity. Representatives who routinely vote to strike down any laws that might restrict the availability of assault rivals that all too often leads to the House having to hold moments of silence.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn joined a mass vigil in London’s Soho yesterday, in solidarity with the LGBT community. A community he didn’t give two thoughts about when he was describing gay-hating Hamas as ‘dedicated to peace and to social & political justice’. A group whose entire goal is a theocratic state that excludes LGBT not just from the political process, but from liberty itself. A group whose co-founder Mahmoud Zahar referred to the LGBT community as:

“…a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick.”

– To Corbyn ‘social and political justice’ starts and ends at opposition to either Israel or the West in general. The LGBT community in Palestine are considered expendable.

Conservative Christians who have spent years focusing their vitriol on the LGBT community – insisting they are dangerous, should be viewed suspiciously in bathrooms, shouldn’t be allowed to adopt or marry, as if there is something specifically sinister about them – take to social media to offer their ‘prayers’ to victims they may not wish to see murdered, but certainly don’t believe deserve equal civil rights, dignified treatment, and protections.

Ted Cruz took the time to release a statement on the homophobic murders in Orlando:

“If you’re a Democratic politician and you really want to stand for LGBT, show real courage and stand up against the vicious ideology that has targeted our fellow Americans for murder.”

– This is the same US Senator who was introduced on stage at last November’s National Religious Liberties Conference in Iowa by a Pastor who said:

“Yes, Romans Chapter 1 verse 32 the Apostle Paul does says that homosexuals are worthy of death. His words not mine! And I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! And I am not ashamed of the truth of the word of God. And I am willing to go to jail…

…Now my friends let me introduce to you the next candidate for the office of President of the United States, folks please make welcome Senator Ted Cruz.”

– The vicious ideology that Cruz speaks of is of course Islam. A homophobic set of doctrines that perpetuates and sustains dehumanising and violence against the LGBT community. The Qur’an is of course not that much different from the Bible; a vicious set of homophobic doctrines that Cruz and those who introduce him at religious liberties events use to dehumanise LGBT folk, threaten them restriction of basic rights, and with execution. It isn’t a great leap to go from treating LGBT as sub-human in a country based on human rights, to violence against that community.

Saudi Arabia released a statement condemning the murders as a despicable act of terrorism. The same Saudi Arabia whose Ministry of Education Textbooks for Islamic Studies: 2007-2008 is about as barbaric and homophobic terror as is possible to be:

“Homosexuality is one of the most disgusting sins and greatest crimes…. It is a vile perversion that goes against sound nature, and is one of the most corrupting and hideous sins…. The punishment for homosexuality is death. Both the active and passive participants are to be killed whether or not they have previously had sexual intercourse in the context of a legal marriage…. Some of the companions of the Prophet stated that [the perpetrator] is to be burned with fire. It has also been said that he should be stoned, or thrown from a high place.”

– The same Saudi Arabia that the Prime Minister insisted to Channel 4 News ‘….actually has a good record of deradicalisation’.

As much as humanity may try, it isn’t possible to simply mourn such a hideous massacre without politicising, and I’m not sure it is wrong to do so anyway. We must all confront the bigotry woven into ideologies from Islamism & those who make excuses for it, to conservative Christianity, that perpetuate dehumanising narratives aimed squarely at the LGBT community. These create the conditions for hate to grow and explode. Homophobia must be treated with the same contempt that racism is treated. At the moment – and when it comes to religion – it isn’t.

To confront the bigoted narrative, we should not allow the hypocrisy of self-serving politicians to undermine the discussion on homophobia and its root causes (almost exclusively religious doctrines based on a primitive, tribal misunderstanding of nature). I don’t want to hear Labour politicians quick to support and excuse far-right religious fascists tell me that “love will conquer”. I don’t want to hear Conservatives defend viciously homophobic regimes as heroes of deradicalisation. I don’t want to hear apologists tell me that ‘terror has no religion’ in a grotesque way to close down discussion; indeed any discussion on homophobia that does not include religion is spectacularly insincere and incomplete. I don’t want to hear Republican politicians who practically hand guns to extremists, whilst perpetuating the homophobic narratives that pull the trigger, tell me that a vicious alien ideology – an ideology whose homophobic beliefs those Republicans flirt with daily – is responsible. Here’s the fact; Holy Books and those who adhere to them have for centuries taught that homosexuality is a moral evil, a sin that must be punished, that continue to undermine and deny gay rights and dignity, that refer to the fight for liberation and protections as ‘the gay agenda’, that believe children are at risk, that tell us that same-sex marriage is the death of our culture. Further, Those liberals who seek to protect illiberal and homophobic tribal squabbles from centuries ago, sell the LGBT community to the first extremists who offer their hatred for the West. They are to blame. All of them. From Hamas to Corbyn to Cameron to Saudi to Cruz.

To be reminded that you’re human….

May 19, 2016

Do not sigh for Lindbergh’s wonderful luck, but determine to emulate Lindy’s glorious pluck” wrote a young Lyndon Baines Johnson, passionate for what he perceived as a revived American spirit following the disaster of World War 1. In Lindbergh, Johnson saw not just the American spirit, but the human need to explore, the extraordinary feats of progress when deep ideological chains are replaced by politically ensured freedoms (advanced for the time period) combined with individual determination. 
Lindbergh’s achievement may seem so distant to those of us almost 100 years later, but that represents perhaps just two prior generations when the whole picture is examined. Indeed, my grandparents were born in that decade that saw the conquering of the Atlantic by flight, and my dad – not yet at retirement age – was born a decade before LBJ ascended to the Presidency on the death of Kennedy. In the time frame of human history, it is a click of the fingers.

Too often the religious are quick to mock the concept of human evolution from ape-like ancestors, as if it a negative. You’ll hear scorn poured on the idea that we “come from monkeys”. Ed Husain disappointed his legion of liberal fans recently by implying that Darwin’s discovery was necessarily racist (a bizarre conflation of morality and ethics, with nature, when no such thing exists). There is a desire in the mind of the parties of god to deny basic scientific fact if it happens to contradict their official origins story. Yet it is our ape-like ancestors whom we have to thank for everything. It is they who sparked the first controlled fires, it is they who left the safety of the jungle and crossed the World, it is they who purified water, it is they who created the tools that gave us a hunting advantage when threatened with daily starvation, it is they who against the odds fought the elements, came close to extinction & survived, it is they who created the first remedies, it is they who developed language and art, it is they who began to try to explain their place in the universe, contemplate the stars, harness the sun, and whose self awareness was the beginning of the universe trying to understand itself & who invented the gods that are now used to obscure their extraordinary achievements. From those ancestors, we have all the innovations that lead to Lindbergh, and to me sitting on a plane somewhere over France, watching the sunset from a vantage point that so few humans have ever had the privilege of seeing. Indeed, from early humans, to Roman republicans, from Homo Habilis, to Ben Franklin & Rousseau, such a small percentage of we apes have enjoyed this sight. From this vantage point, it is inconceivable to me that we would not honour those ancestors that out of necessity, created & conquered & gave us luxury.

And even if by some miracle, a thesis is produced that thoroughly disproved evolution, instead confirming the story of Adam & Eve, we still wouldn’t have them nor a god to thank for human progress. We’d have the devil snake that permitted free-thought to thank for our ingenuity and survival.

Perhaps our desire to explore comes from the same place as our desire to understand everything immediately (thus creating gods as quick and easy explanations). Perhaps our wonderful sense of touch that permits the wind to take our breath away or the sun in summer to revitalise us after a grey winter persuades us to seek those sensations. Perhaps our fear of death, of existing in a finite speck of time conflicts with our desire to know all and see all. I am now sat watching my fellow apes on the beach with a spectacular view of the Meditarranean sea, the jagged rocks with layers of history, the buildings we have created across the shoreline, the clear and cold water reminding me that I’m alive as it crashes against my legs, placating that desirous sense of touch, and at the back of my mind is the theme that runs through human history, from the moment our species burst onto the tapestry of life right through to Lindbergh & beyond; at some point – any point – I will cease to exist, and never see this beautiful picture, nor feel the sea breeze nor the waves against me again. And so I need to experience it all now. 

Is it anti-Semitic? A handy guide…

May 12, 2016

Today, it is Israel’s birthday.
As you can imagine, this means everyone will lose their shit very quickly. Especially as I continue….. Israel, despite its questionable, quasi-religious and often violent origins (of which, many nations have a similar background), has managed to survive 68 years of invasions, rockets fired daily at it, threats to wipe it off the map, racist attitudes on the far-right and the far-left, a refusal for many of its critics to criticise the Islamist fascists on its doorstep. But it’s survived. Survived with a stable democratic settlement, and whilst I take issue with right winged Israeli policy in the West Bank, designed as I think it seems to be, to derail a two state solution (and certainly an insane way to ensure security for Jewish folk), I find my fellow liberal lefties often crossing the line from criticism of Israeli government policy, into repeating centuries of anti-Semitic blood-libel, conspiracy nonsense, or a refusal to accept a Jewish right to self determination 68 years later, whilst fighting for everyone else’s right to the same. So here’s my handy guide to what I believe to be that line.

Criticism of Israel:

  • I think the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution, not making Israeli’s any safer, and should stop.


  • I think the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution…. and let’s deport Jews to the US! Problem solved! (here).
  • I think the Israeli Government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution…….. and Hamas – the group that seeks a Theocratic settlement, and is derived from the Muslim Brotherhood’s flirtations with Nazism, still using the Protocols of Zion in its literature, with a Charter that rejects peace initiatives unless the entire region is handed to its religion, and meanwhile indiscriminately hurl rockets at homes and schools in Israel – are dedicated to peace, social justice, and the good of all Palestinians (here).
  • I think the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution…. And the media is run by Zionists (those who don’t query Israel’s right to exist)! Forget that the media doesn’t question any other country on the planet’s right to exist either, they should only be labelled for not querying Israel’s right to exist.
  • I think the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution…….. and if I use the word ‘Zionist’ instead of ‘Jews’ whilst using centuries-old conspiracy theories surrounding secretive Jewish control of media, eduction, and governments, everyone will think it’s legitimate criticism rather than regurgitating anti-Semitic tropes.
  • I think the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution……. and Hitler – the man responsible for wiping out 6,000,000 Jews –  was actually a Zionist (the support for a Jewish right to self determination) because he once supported the desperate attempt by persecuted Jews to leave Germany. Motives are irrelevant, just repeat ‘Ha’avarra’ and send a link to a Wikipedia article to prove it!
  • I think the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution…… and whilst we’re on ‘self determination’, we will argue for the right to self determination for all peoples – including those whose revolutionary leaders are illiberal, anti-Secular, anti-democratic , far-right, homophobic, misogynistic Theocrats with no intention of empowering anyone but themselves – but absolutely not for Jews.
  • I think the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution……and ISIS are created by the great Jewish global conspiracy to create ‘Greater Israel’ across the entire  Middle East (here).
  • I think the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution…… And it’s perfectly reasonable to use Holocaust Memorial Day to 1) Complain that we focus on this one holocaust, and 2) use it to imply that Israelis are the new Nazis, committing a genocide in Palestine.
  • I think the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution……. so let’s boycott Israel, completely ignore any racism or violence coming from Palestine, defend that racism and violence if someone brings it up, ignore the Arab press continually characterising Jews as rats, and not even entertain the notion of boycotting nations involved in any other land dispute across the Planet – like Pakistan in the Baloch region – just the one dispute the pesky Jews are involved in.
  • I think the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution……. And we shall only use the term ‘apartheid’ daily, to refer to Israel. Absolutely never to refer to any of the surrounding states that are religious supremacist in nature, privilege heterosexuality whilst punishing homosexuality (some may call this sexuality apartheid, but that’s us applying ‘Western values’ …. which I think we’re supposed to call ‘Colonial’), outlaw criticism of state power, punish apostasy, and disenfranchise women.

Here is the crux; One can criticise Israeli policy, indeed one can argue with evidence that the way Israel was birthed represented an injustice against local populations, without implying apartheid, genocide, excusing & defending anti-Jewish thugs, how Hitler helped Jews, utilising centuries of anti-Semitic myths of Jewish global conquest, shipping Jews to another country, wishing for Jewish self determination to collapse, comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, giving the media a name for not questioning Jewish self determination but not giving a name to the media for not questioning any other self determination anywhere in the World. It really is a simple distinction. However, if you do decide to descend into anti-Semitic absurdity, do not then tantrum, playing the victim of a vast Jewish media conspiracy when you’re called out on its blatant bigotry.

“Why do you care about hell? You’re an atheist!”

April 21, 2016

“Those that deny Our revelations We will burn in fire. No sooner will their skins be consumed than We shall give them other skins, so that they may truly taste the scourge. God is mighty and wise.” – Quran 4:56

Imagine for a second if the above passage was written by a World leader, and instead of “those that deny our revelations“, it was “Muslims…“. Quite rightly we would call it out for the violent bigotry, the dehumanising nature of its narrative. And yet, strangely, some seem to argue that as long as it’s religious, it isn’t bigoted, and thus isn’t a problem at all.

An early task in my university days was to explain to the group how we identify ourselves made up of our beliefs, our gender, our ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, or any other form of identification we may assume for ourselves. I included ‘atheist‘ in my identification. A weird identifier given that it relies solely on denying something that isn’t there. For that, I’m also a-unicornist. But the latter has no real-world affects, whilst the former absolutely does – an important distinction as we shall see. A religious guy in our group told me he’d like to hear my perspective on the World – a welcome discussion and one that continued for the next three years – but that he “couldn’t endorse your lifestyle“.

Around the same time that a man who had never met me told me he “couldn’t endorse my lifestyle“, Mehdi Hasan was giving a talk to the Al Khoei Islamic Centre, in which he states of others he’s never met:

“The kaffar, the disbelievers, the atheists who remain deaf and stubborn to the teachings of Islam, the rational message of the Quran; they are described in the Quran as, quote, “a people of no intelligence”, Allah describes them as; not of no morality, not as people of no belief – people of “no intelligence” – because they’re incapable of the intellectual effort it requires to shake off those blind prejudices, to shake off those easy assumptions about this world, about the existence of God.”

– And this is the problem of religious doctrines. It influences mentalities and behaviour. It casts non-believers as inferior, with believers the superior. It influences moderates & Islamists alike. Whilst Mehdi dehumanises us, a member of Malay Islamist group ISMA told me:

“I am better than you because I believe in Allah. You simply do not believe in Him. Need another reason?”

Around three years after Mehdi expressed some shockingly dehumanising views – based solely on religious dogma – about non-believers, Alexander Aan in Indonesia was being stripped of his job, beaten by religious thugs, and imprisoned for expressing his atheism online.

The point is, religious bigotry is the bedrock for a supremacist narrative that feeds policy. Once you dehumanise a section of the population, withdrawing their basic rights becomes easy. According to a report on the treatment of non-believers across the World, by The International Humanist & Ethical Union:

“12 countries in Africa, 9 in Asia, and 10 in the Middle East, were given the worst rating for committing “Grave Violations”. Some of these governments were found to openly incite hatred against atheists, or authorities which systematically fail to prosecute violent crimes against atheists.

Furthermore, in 12 of the worst-offending states, religious authorities can put atheists to death for the crime of “apostasy” (i.e. leaving religion; in all cases the religion was Islam).”

– It kills to be a non-believer in a society dominated by religion. And yet, if you highlight the real-world affects of bigotry inherent to religious texts, your concerns are dismissed:


– So what if billions of people believe a doctrine that includes you having no intelligence, and deserving of nothing but setting on fire for eternity. So what if that religion has control over the lives of others. So what if it the divisive, supremacist nature of it is taught to children? It is as if beginning a dangerously discriminatory sentence with “God says….” negates whatever follows.

The fact is, person A not believing a religion to be true, does not suddenly mean the religion is not promoting bigoted ideas to those who do believe it to be true.

So “why do you care about hell if you’re an atheist?”
– Because whether hell exists or not is irrelevant, the behaviour of those who believe it does is exceptionally cruel.

Labour’s anti-Semitism problem.

April 2, 2016

Khadim Hussain is a local councillor for Keighley Central Ward. This week Mr Hussain sensationally announced his resignation from the Labour Party following claims of anti-Semitism. Here is Hussain’s resignation post on Facebook:


Khadim is clear that the allegations of anti-semitism against him are ‘unfounded’. Indeed, his supporters echo this. One of his supporters on Facebook expressed his anger:

– Not only is he convinced this is a vast injustice, a witch hunt against Khadim the social justice warrior, he’s also convinced that any allegations of anti-Semitism against Khadim, are simply a conspiratorial attempt to silence criticism of Israeli policy.

So, with all of those denials, and the victim-playing, let’s take a quick look at what Khadim has posted on his social media recently. Firstly, who is responsible for ISIS, in the Councillor’s mind:


– The Jews! Of course! This is blatant anti-Semitism. It is disheartening that Labour Party supporters (of which until very recently, I’d count myself as one) attempt to twist this sort of bigotry into something that is simply framed as criticism of a random state. But it is, as I said, blatant anti-Semitism in that instead of any meaningful analysis of the past few decades of Middle Eastern politics, of the role of romanticising the Caliphate, of the massive civil war in Syria, of the role played by both Saudi Arabia and Iran in competing for influence, of the US and Russia in a power play, or how restrictions of individual rights of expression and belief might contribute to animosity, or Saddam’s successful attempts to further the rift between Sunni and Shia (an absurd and pathetic religious squabble) it instead jumps straight to reviving centuries of false blood-libel and simply blames Jewish folk, through the tried-and-tested means inventing conspiracy used to dehumanise & provoke suspicion (based on nothing…… the article that Hussain posted is full of “you’d have to be mad to believe that it’s not Israel!” conjecture). When confronted with a clear problem, if not civil war, in his own religion, Khadim would rather just blame Jews.

Now, you may think I’m using the term ‘Jews’ when Khadim clearly means Israel (though focus on this one state, this Jewish state, rather than a much wider contextual analysis that the situation requires, choosing to ignore all the states that surround Israel implies either a very simple mind, or bigotry at its heart). Well, Khadim answers that himself, by reposting an image that refers to all those Jewish people murdered in the holocaust as “Zionists”:

– A shocking image for a Labour politician to be posting and propagating. If not just for the child-like “shut up about the dead Jews already!” mentality of the entire piece, nor just for the fact that Khadim has no problem referring to millions of Jews as ‘Zionists’ (something he doesn’t like), nor for just the grotesque use of murdered Africans to take a dig at Jews, but also that Khadim seems to again ignore the problems his own religion caused in Africa. In 1866 – two years after the Egyptian cotton boom – Dr David Livingston writing from Africa noted the horrifying treatment of slaves by their Arab ‘owners’:

“We passed a woman tied by the neck to a tree and dead, the people of the country explained that she had been unable to keep up with the other slaves in a gang, and her master had determined that she should not become the property of anyone else if she recovered after resting a time. . . . we saw others tied up in a similar manner . . . the Arab who owned these victims was enraged at losing his money by the slaves becoming unable to march, and vented his spleen by murdering them.”

– The point of this picture was not to highlight the brutality that Africa faced during the colonial period. Indeed, those victims were simply used to highlight the actual point. The point was to re-emphasise at every possible moment how European colonialism was a grave evil (true), that Jewish folk – dehumanised here as 6 million ‘Zionists’ – always get all the attention (ironically exactly what the anti-Israel lobby do by focusing little to none of their energy on the abuses of the states that surround Israel). If the abuse of Africa were at all the point of the image, Khadim might have spent – or ever spent – some time explaining that his own religion and its supremacists were also culpable for the mistreatment of Africa. He might further accept that if we are to talk about World War II in the school classroom in the United Kingdom, we may extend the sphere of discourse to include both the Grand Mufti’s, and Hassan al-Banna’s flirtations with Nazism, that in turn lead to groups like Hamas using Nazi propaganda from time to time. It might take us up to the present day, when a publication – Al-Hayat al-Jadida, Official daily newspaper of the Palestinian National Authority – published right next to the only Jewish state in the World published an article in March 2013 that praises the man who committed a mass genocide against those neighbours:

“Had Hitler won, Nazism would be an honor that people would be competing to belong to, and not a disgrace punishable by law. Churchill and Roosevelt were alcoholics, and in their youth were questioned more than once about brawls they started in bars, while Hitler hated alcohol and was not addicted to it. He used to go to sleep early and wake up early, and was very organized. These facts have been turned upside down as well, and Satan has been dressed with angels’ wings.”

– Khadim’s narrative can be found all too often recently in the Labour Party. It takes three steps. Step 1) Find a way to blame Jews for something, usually conspiratorial, attempts to dominate the Globe, a flashback to Catholic Church-inspired blood-libel, if it requires ignoring the influence and history of your own ideological position, that’s fine. Step 2) Plead ignorance when your anti-Semitism is highlighted, and try to claim you’re just anti-occupation. Step 3) Whether it be your religion or your political ideology, play the victim for it. The media is against you, the Zionists are out to get you (or steal your shoe), you are probably being oppressed. Khadim followed this formula to the letter, and Labour’s current leadership – a man who referred to Hamas as ‘dedicated to social justice’ – cannot possibly understand why this is unacceptable.

Caitlyn Jenner and the liberals embracing transphobia.

March 15, 2016

There’s an odd self-defeating narrative that my fellow liberals sometimes espouse. Whether attacking Muslims fighting Islamist narratives, or excusing anti-Semitism, it either seems to be getting worse, or I’m becoming more observant to it.

To be liberal is to champion the rights and the dignity of the individual to make choices free from group coercion. To be oneself, free from expectations & coercion of others is the very essence of liberalism. To be liberal is to consider the agency of the individual inherently a right, over the demands of a group, culture, religion which of course, have no inherent rights. It is the most fundamental principle of liberalism that liberals seems so confused with how to apply.

Take, for example, Caitlyn Jenner. Since coming out as transgender, liberals held her up as a pillar of strength. An inspiration to those struggling with their identity. She was not afraid to be herself, and we liked that. Indeed, individual identity and the freedom to express oneself according to our how we identify ourselves, because we know ourselves greater than others know us, is exactly the liberal proposition. Conservatives decided she was awful, an abomination, she angered the magic sky man invented in 1st Century Palestine that seems to confirm their deeply held prejudices. And a yet a strange flip occurred recently. Jenner – in perhaps a bigger show of individual strength than coming out as transgender – came out as a transgendered Republican Party supporter. Liberals everywhere lost the plot:


– It is deeply unsettling to me that fellow liberals are so quick to embrace bigotry, to be so transphobic, the moment transgendered women think differently to what is expected of them, from ‘liberals’. They have taken on her appearance only. They have decided exactly what thoughts Jenner ought to have, and that if she doesn’t conform to what is expected of her, she is a traitor, deserving of transphobic language. Indeed, some even imply that women in general who do not vote for Democrats, are traitors to women. They do not deal with her arguments (which are weak at best; she implies that Republicans handle the economy better, create jobs, defend the country to a greater degree than Democrats, small government, self-responsibility…. a simple argument that is easily refuted without having to resort to bigotry), they focus on her appearance and a group-mentality they think she should have embraced, thus depriving her of her right to be an individual, as if she the moment she came out as transgendered, her faculties of reason should be replaced by the thoughts of the group, and anything short of that, permits bigotry. It doesn’t. This isn’t liberalism.

Consider this; liberals accept that conservatives have had a detrimental affect on racial issues in the United States in current years. This is our political belief. I suspect Ben Carson disagrees. At that point, would liberals be so quick to start referring to Ben Carson using racist language, or would we focus on his arguments? Would be call him a traitor to his skin tone, or would be analyse his points and form a counter narrative? Is focusing on his skin-tone, rather than the content of his argument in itself not a form of white privilege, given that we with white skin are never expected to be a single voting block? Is the same not true here for Caitlyn Jenner?

Joey from Friends drove past the Cenotaph of freedom… and you should be banned from seeing it!

March 14, 2016

I’m sat right now watching Piers Morgan being very upset and offended. Offended that Matt LeBlanc from Top Gear had driven quite fast past the Cenotaph on Whitehall. This meant that he disrespected veterans, we were told. People felt the need to reveal that Joey from Friends has not done as much for this country, as troops who died in WW2. Morgan was so offended, that he had to quickly move on to a story about a West Highland Terrier that won Crufts. But then it came back to being offended again. A good three minutes per hour was dedicated to being offended.

It was an odd thing to be offended by, and an odd reaction from the always outraged Patriotic brigade, who, on balance, didn’t seem to care when Clarkson was mocking dead prostitutes and punching producers. So it goes.

But then it soon became oddly ironic as well (perhaps more so than Morgan – a man fired from his job as editor of The Mirror for publishing faked photographs of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment abusing Iraqi prisoners).

Good Morning Britain included a quote from an angry British Commander in Afghanistan who insisted that the BBC should never show that clip ever. It is so offensive to the memory of people who fought for freedom, that we shouldn’t be free to see it. For liberals like me, a person in a position of power implying that we – as adults – should not be allowed to see a clip of something he finds personally offensive, is a much greater insult to those who understand and fought for freedom, than Joey from Friends driving fast past a memorial. Play the clip, if it offends me, I’ll turn it over. Do not tell me I shouldn’t be free to see it in the first place. This is an insult to the memory of my grandparents who fought for freedom. He should apologise.

Further on the ironic side of this whole bizarre episode, he was a commander in Afghanistan. British troops are fighting an Islamist Taliban regime, that during the ’90s had funded support from the Saudis. Somewhere on Whitehall, close to the Cenotaph, the decision was made that the UK would send arms to the Saudis throughout the late 80s, the 90s, and today. Daily the PM or the Conservative Party is forced to defend the Saudis, to drop the British flag to half mast when their monstrous leaders finally die, to conspire to sit that grotesque nation at the head of the UN Human Rights Council as it beheads democratic reformers. A nation that funded a regime that killed British troops, that we lower the flag in support, that we now hand over arms is apparently not as offensive to the memory of our troops, than driving a car quite fast down the road.
And we must be banned from watching that car driving fast down a road.


On a side note, I once walked drunkenly past the Cenotaph, from one of the many drinking establishments on that road. This must imply that I hate our troo….. what a cute West Highland Terrier!

‘Heaven On Earth: A Journey Through Shari’a Law’ – A Critique.

February 10, 2016

kadatI confess that I am only at the very beginning of Sadakat Kadri’s book ‘Heaven on Earth; A Journey Through Shari’a Law‘ and yet on every page of the opening chapters, I find myself compelled to comment.

Kadri presents a time period before the Qur’an as much in need of revolutionary ideas. Infanticide if the child was female is the norm, stoning of those accused on flimsy evidence is rampant. Pre-Islamic Arabia is a cruel and divided land, for Kadat. And yet, when the similar cruelties of the religion that rapidly took over the area, and the dictates of its leader are highlighted, Kadri seems to excuse the most grotesque behaviour. For example, Kadri writes:

“The criminal justice provisions instituted at this time, as reflected in the text of the Qur’an were straightforward enough. God required humanity to punish four sins, known as haddood. Theft was said to merit amputation of the right hand, fornication earned a hundred lashes, and falsely accusing someone of the same crime was punishable by 80 strokes. The gravest crime, the ‘waging of war against Islam or spreading disorder in the land’, was attended by an entire battery of punitive possibilities: exile, double amputation, suspension from a cross, and decapitation.”

– We must take from this, the dangerous idea – belonging to a faith that is taught to children – that God believes chopping someone’s limbs off is the morally correct way to handle theft. That physically harming someone, is morally better than stealing someone’s property. After such a gruesome back catalogue of violent attacks upon the individual, and the unquestioned assumption of religious supremacy over the individual, a page later Kadri bizarrely writes:

“Torture, which was routine under the Christianised Roman law of Byzantium, found no place in the Qur’an.”

– It takes an extraordinary mind to note that hands were ordered to be put on blocks and chopped off, for theft, and to follow that note up with a denial of torture. I suspect the one receiving a double amputation, or being decapitated may consider themselves tortured. One may claim that it was the context of time, that believers nowadays know better, but that of course requires dismissing the fact that this is all conceived by a divine rule giver who transcends time, and so is supposedly morally superior to not only Muhammad 1400 years ago, but also believers today. Context of time is irrelevant when dealing with a time-transcending being.

Kadri goes on to note that whilst stoning to death for illicit sex is prescribed in the Qur’an, it is actually progressive insomuch as it makes the penalty far harder to impose than that which came before. Kadri relates a story of Muhammad and an adulterer, quoting an Islamic criminal law book from the 20th century:

“Calling a spade a spade, (the Prophet asked) ‘Did you **** her? Ma’iz said ‘yes’. He asked ‘Like the kohl stick disappears into the kohl container and the bucket into the well?’ He answered ‘Yes’. Then he asked ‘Do you know what zina means?’ He said ‘Yes, I did with her unlawfully what a man does with his wife lawfully’. Then the Prophet asked ‘What do you intend with these words?’ He answered ‘That you purify me’. Then he ordered him to be stoned.”

– This vicious story, a story of a man who died from rocks being hurled at him by a man who claims (not proves) to be a messenger of god thus permitting himself the right to decide who lives and dies. A story of stoning human beings considered less morally questionable than having sex with someone you’re not married to, is a story that Kadri spends the next two pages making excuses for. For example, he says:

“Pious Muslims see only extraordinary restraint on the Prophet’s part, and they often point out additional signs of his mercy; the fact that he made no attempt to track down the woman concerned, for example. At the opposite end of the spectrum are people who focus on nothing but the outcome. But a single perspective on a controversial event never makes for balance…”

– It is difficult to know where to begin with this. Perhaps at the point where just a few pages earlier, Kadri highlights Muhammad’s forward thinking policy that ‘the killing of a single person was meanwhile tantamount to the killing of the whole of humanity’ apparently negated a few moments later, by his order to stone a man to death. Or perhaps that the point where Kadri implies that those who praise Muhammad for ‘extraordinary restraint’ for not slaughtering the woman involved also are of a similar short sightedness with those of us who ‘focus on nothing but the outcome’. The outcome in this instance, is the taking of the life of a human being, for having consensual sex with someone. Focusing on anything else is to relegate the life of that human being, to less as important as the philosophical reasoning behind it. Focusing on anything else is to accept without question a man’s self imposed right to decide who lives and dies based on the delusional supremacy of his own beliefs. Kadri clearly thinks that those of us who focus on that, on murder, are short sighted. I would argue that those who focus on anything other than that murder, or try to trivialise that murder, the brainwashing of a young man to believe he need be punished for sex, and the brutal order to stone him, is not only short sighted, it excuses cruelty. Kadri continues his excuses:

“…. and as soon as other hadiths are taken into account, a subtler picture begins to emerge. One of them states that the execution divided Muslims into two camps, and another has Muhammad asking the killers of Ma’iz ‘Why did you not leave him alone? He might have repented and been forgiven by God’. At least two more suggest that Ma’iz’s real offence was not illicit sex, but indiscretion. One contemporary was heard to ruminate many years later that the young man had been punished only because he insisted on telling everyone he was guilty.”

– Far from a ‘subtler picture’ emerging, we simply change the reasons for murdering a man from having sex, to saying he’s had sex. As if this is any more of a legitimate reason to end the life of another human being with rocks. Either way, we are given clear evidence that Islam was never simply reserved as a guide to how to live one’s life, to better oneself, a spiritual system of inner peace. It was always a system of control, because it decided who does and doesn’t deserve to be murdered by other believers. A political system, like liberalism, fascism, communism, capitalism, and thus open to all the criticisms that all other systems of power must be open to.

But for now, I will continue to make my way through Kadri’s book, fully in the knowledge that he begins from the premise that Muhammad’s cruelty can be excused if we simply focus on other things, and just not question the relationship between a man of his time, a transcendent god, and binding moral laws anchored to 1400 years ago. A tactic that continues to permit some from turning their heads to religious supremacy and the dangers of idolising moral squabbles from centuries ago.

The birth of liberty…

February 2, 2016

“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. One man thinks himself the master of others, but remains more of a slave than they are.”
– Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

It may seem peculiar to some that the word ‘Christendom‘ is no longer used except in the context of historical analysis. We don’t use it to describe Christian supremacy in Uganda or elsewhere in Africa, strangely. ‘The Muslim world‘ is still a term that summarises not an Islamic romanticised ‘Ummah‘ but countries with Islam built into its framework and its institutions, in much the same way (though applied a little differently – Islam certainly doesn’t suffer from a lack of Papal power) that ‘Christendom‘ once worked.

Christianity as a Theocratic power, it may be said, is a victim of its own oppressive nature, with ‘Christendom‘ a term that died with the Enlightenment in Europe. The 16th century saw Martin Luther pin his 95 theses to a University door in Germany, sparking a vast revolution against Papal authority, it encouraged the printing of criticisms, and most importantly for our purposes here, the right – in many cases – to read the Bible in one’s native language rather than have it read out in Latin, thus allowing the individual the right to think about the text for themselves. Whilst this wasn’t a freedom – an unintended consequence from the deeply oppressive mind of Luther – that came without its oppressive caveats (Acts of Uniformity, by the very term, aren’t exactly freedom inducing), it sparked a movement toward the breaking down of oppressive barriers, and the freeing of the individual that eventually gave us the Enlightenment, with all its emphasis on free expression, representative government, secular constitutions, science, and rationalism. Christian Theocracy died because humans are born free.

It is an often repeated phrase, that Man is ‘born free’ – indeed the UN Declaration of Human Rights begins its very first article with it – but the implication & significance is seldom discussed, so I thought I’d elaborate here.

The liberal proposition is clear, though often confused by cultural relativists; empower the individual, not the group. It is that simple. We do not sacrifice the individual on the alter of culture. Cultural norms are not worth protecting, if they harm the individual. Cultural relativists tend to act as if protecting the cultural norms or religious dictates – especially if those cultures or religions are perceived to be a victim of Western bullying (a curious tactic employed by several people on the BBC’s Sunday morning The Big Questions this past week to disguise deeply unpleasant beliefs) – of oppressive societies is worth more than individuals within those cultures or religious theocracies whose freedom is chained to the beliefs of others. Indeed, the  premise of any religious control of other people (and cultural relativists who defend the principle) – be they non-believers, ex-believers, women, or the LGBT community – is ownership of the individual. And that’s a concept that seems wholly illegitimate to me.

Let me explain the basis for the liberal proposition. Above I note that we rely on the premise of empowering the individual over the group. Why is that, what makes you right, and where does the very premise come from, you might ask. Let’s take you, the reader, as the example. It must be clear to all that you were not born naturally attached to any ideological framework of power. This is not a ‘Western value‘, it is a universally observed truth, because the opposite is not only unproven, lacking any form of evidence, but it is also quite obviously absurd. Indeed to claim the opposite is to claim an ideology preceded humanity, and is intrinsically a part of each individual, not only that, but a controlling part. That the individual must submit to the rules of that ideology that preceded humanity without definitive proof of its reality, is as close to the definition of irrationality as I may ever be made aware of. To claim such a grotesque absurdity requires not simply your individual belief, but as much proof as 1+1=2. Further, it implies that we can all argue the same, if we simply precede an ideological demand with “My god says…”. To argue for your own privilege based on your belief (not proof) is to argue for everyone else’s privilege to treat you the same according to their belief. To prevent the other from doing the same to you, requires oppression. It is a Hobbesian state of perpetual war. It is therefore not only irrational, it is irresponsible and dangerous, whilst having the joyful effect of advertising your belief as psychopathic. What makes me right? Well, I concede that I might be entirely wrong, I might be born intrinsically attached to a single ideological framework that I am compelled to submit but in my evil rebelliousness I have chosen not to, sinning my way through life as I do. I concede it is a possibility, but I’m yet to encounter a convincing (or even basic) argument to imply that humans are not born endowed with liberty.

The birth of liberty, is the liberty of birth. From that basic truth, springs progression; the right to free expression, the right to freedom of conscience and belief, the right to love whomever you fall in love with regardless of gender, the right to the pursuit of happiness regardless of gender or ethnicity, the right to your property over your own person. To argue that anyone must be compelled to follow, or be judged by the dictates of your religion, first requires you to prove that your presumed right to ownership over another individual is factually based and inescapable (which of course, is untrue of any ideology). Otherwise, it is meaningless and can be dismissed as such.

Liberalism is the equalising of all, according to the clear principle that no one is born naturally superior to anyone else. It frees all to participate in society – regardless of natural human distinctions like sexuality, gender, ethnicity – whilst allowing all the right to a private existence free from oppressive barriers erected by others for the love of their supernatural sky man. It is the spring from which creativity, innovation, love, democracy, and plurality shoot. It recognises our evolutionary nature as both a group species, and individuals within groups, and it aims to free the individual to participate as fully as possible within the group, to develop our own ideas, to express ourselves, to debate openly, to be happy and free, right up until the individual seeks to harm the same natural freedoms for others.

The history of the past 500 years of Christian power in Europe and the United States has been one in which the barriers erected by that power have slowly eroded, to reveal humans in a much more natural state of being. We have progressed more since the Enlightenment, than at any time in our history. This is how a grown up, civilised society operates. Liberals must not excuse illiberal cultural norms, for the sake of opposing Western colonialism, because we recognise that illiberal cultural norms – in so much as they chain the individual – is a form of colonialism itself. And so It isn’t that I believe ‘Western culture‘ to be supreme, it is that I recognise any society that trends toward liberation of the individual more than it trends toward oppression, to be supreme.

A liberal response to the refugee crisis.

January 8, 2016

The grotesque coordinated sex attacks on women in Cologne on New Years has rightfully sparked a discussion in the Western World on the issues that the refugee crisis has brought with it across Europe. The response seems to range from a willful refusal to engage with the issue through fear of being labelled a bigot, to the dogmatic idea that all refugees should be blocked from fleeing to safety. When the liberal left fails to create a narrative, the far-right pounces. I thought I’d offer my perspective, but before I do, I think it prudent to note that I genuinely have no idea how to solve such a complex issue, and that in itself aids a bizarre far-right narrative:


– I say I don’t know how to solve the issue, he hears an apologist for sex abuse. His response implies just two choices; either European women, or sex attacking Syrians… who do you choose? A simplistic and weak straw man. But this highlights an important issue; if liberals have no basis by which to start the conversation, we lose the base to the far-right, and that has always been exceptionally dangerous.

There is a risk when appealing to our philosophical and political values, that we treat the people we are essentially discussing the future of (as if we have that inherent right anyway) as an abstraction, a variable, an object in our philosophising. It is dehumanising to an extent and makes it easier to offer illiberal solutions, as those human beings stand with Assad’s gun at their backs, and Europe’s far-right fist to their face. I will endeavor to express why liberalism must focus on those people as individual human beings first and foremost, and not a collective, nor an abstraction.

It is important to know that refugees are fleeing persecution. That is to say, they have had their rights as human beings with property over their own person – liberty we are all naturally born with, regardless of the political framework we are born on to – completely and unjustly stripped from them by abusers. It is a sense of terror that we cannot imagine, given our entire existence has been within a framework that grants us those rights without question. The liberal World, the World that understands and protects those natural liberties must therefore predicate its response on restoring those natural liberties and rights, to people fleeing. It must not abuse them further. This is done in several ways.

Firstly, there must be a global effort to end the conflict that causes so many to flee their homes and take an extremely dangerous trip to the safety of Europe. If you are willing to put your child on a small boat and make a terrifying journey across seas and land with no guarantee of safety, you are desperate for help, and no country that basis its framework on the protection of civil rights should refuse you entry simply for where you came from. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t be refused entry for other reasons. But our obligation toward those fleeing persecution is not to be compromised based on ethnicity or country of origin. For too long the rest of the World has simply sat by as human rights were so cruelly abused in Syria, despite having the power to prevent it. The only way to stop people fleeing persecution in the long run, is an end to the refusal to recognise and protect the rights of those refugees, which is to say, an end to civil war.

Secondly, hand-in-hand with ending persecution in Syria, is a frank and honest discussion on illiberal policies, cultural norms, and religious oppression and supremacy. This includes highlighting illiberal notions in our own society. For example, you might be under the impression if you listen to certain anti-refugee sections of society, that refugees disproportionately commit crimes. This is wrong, and works to fuel a dehumanising narrative of suspicion. Indeed, ‘Die Welt’ using police reports, notes that refugees are no more likely to commit crimes than German citizens.

That isn’t to say that cultural attitudes outside of our own are not an issue also. We must not be afraid of critiquing culture. Culture is not off-limits, it is not to be protected from criticism. If a specific culture has obscenely illiberal misogynistic norms, we musn’t be scared to say so and to empower and defend voices of dissent in those cultures. We must champion the rule of law, secular humanist values, gender and sexuality equality, liberal civil rights, democracy, and speak up for those seeking democratic reform in cultures with deeply entrenched oppressive structures. The freedom to inquiry and express, and the same rights and dignity applied to all regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity and belief is what separates the civilised from the barbaric, and we must champion the civilised, holding to account those who defend and excuse the barbaric. We must not be afraid to highlight the fact that religious doctrine and dogma, influences behaviour, and that doctrine of moral ideals from a single time and place centuries ago, might be problematic in the 21st century. This discussion is too often cut short by fear of being labelled bigoted, or racist. I do think we can have a debate on cultural regressive attitudes and dangerous religious dogma that limit so many chances across the World, without resorting to racist stereotypes and dehumanising rhetoric.

We must not meet regressive and violent attitudes, with a victim-blaming mentality. Maajid Nawaz writing for The Daily Beast highlights the obscene letter from Martin Thalhammer, the headmaster at Wilhelm-Diess-Gymnasium, in which he advises parents to make sure their children dress ‘modestly’ simply because refugees are accommodated close by. The letter says:

“The Syrian citizens are mainly Muslims and speak Arabic. The refugees are marked by their own culture. Because our school is directly next to where they are staying, modest clothing should be adhered to, in order to avoid discrepancies. Revealing tops or blouses, short shorts or miniskirts could lead to misunderstandings.”

– This is obscene for two reasons. Firstly, it implies that ‘misunderstanding’ are the responsibility of the people at the gym to prevent, to change their behaviour, rather than the fault laying with the attitudes of individuals who might be offended or use it as an excuse to attack. It is classic victim blaming. Secondly, it implies that the refugees – as a collective (we shall come onto this shortly) – are somehow unable to help themselves. It is bigoted as well as victim-blaming. Regressive attitudes must not be met with victim-blaming. It must be met with progressive attitudes. As Nawaz says:

“The only person to blame for rape is the rapist. Employment and education among migrant males will be a more conducive and far more consistent approach than asking European women to change how they dress or when they go out.”

Thirdly, if liberalism is to mean anything it is to place and empower the individual above the group. We pride ourselves on advancing the freedom of individuals to be themselves, to express themselves, to love whom they choose to love, to vote how they choose to vote, to pursue their own happiness, to dress how they choose to dress without coercion from the ‘group’, where it does not harm the same liberty for others. If we believe this true for ourselves, we must defend it for others, and we must be consistent with how we apply it. I support helping refugees in this country, because I see no other way of protecting those rights and freedoms they were born with immediately.

We believe in the fewest restrictions on the individual by others as is necessary to protect each other from each other, so that the individual is empowered with their own life to achieve and enjoy such a short time on the planet as they see fit. And so the response from some, that no refugees should be granted safety in Europe, thus arguing for the complete withholding of the core concept of liberty that we hold so dear, for people who have committed no crime, simply for the country they were unlucky enough to be born into, is to me unfathomable at best, and an admission that our values are not universal and so are completely worthless at worst.

We do not equate the individual with the collective, we do not hold responsible an individual within a loosely defined collective – ‘refugees’ – as responsible for the actions of other individuals within that collective. We do not ban men from teaching in schools because they might be a sexual predator. Indeed, we do not ban American military personnel from Europe, despite Donald Trump’s statistic that implies – if we are to be consistent – that they might be dangerous:


The rights of person A to security and liberty must not be determined by the actions of person B. Individuals are responsible for individual actions. Their belonging to a group – and a group not of their choosing, but of necessity – must not infringe upon their right to life. The Syrian families who live in the city that I am from, whose children are now safe, and who are not harming anyone are the lucky few who escaped and are protected. Others like them must not be cast out into the ocean by a liberal, democratic nation, for the crimes of those who attacked so many women in Cologne.

To summarise; liberals must pressure governments to work together to end the conflict. Liberals must feel free to critique illiberal and oppressive power structures across all cultures without fear of being stigmatised, whilst supporting our democratic, secular, liberal friends within those cultures working hard for reform. And lastly, liberals must not equate the individual with the group, nor decide who is deserving of rights based simply on nation of origin. Whilst I do not have the answers to how we solve the refugee crisis, I do not believe that compromising liberal principles is at all a basis upon which to start the conversation. Much the opposite; we must be stronger in our values in the face of inhumanity, than we are at any other time.

If we can drop bombs on IS, we can drop food on Madaya.

January 7, 2016

It is one of the most harrowing videos you are likely to watch, from the comfort of yours and my safe home. A child who hasn’t eaten in days and will only get weaker and weaker, a baby who eats water and salt because there is no milk left. A new mother helplessly watching her baby starve to death. The computer screen is a horrific barrier between children suffering the most obscene deliberate starvation enforced by adults, and your ability to reach in and pull them out. Indeed, if they tried to escape, and presuming they get through the landmines placed around the town, Hezbollah and Assad’s forces will kill them.

When the debates arose over whether or not to extend British airstrikes against strategic IS positions in Syria, I was swayed by the lack of alternatives. Indeed, it seemed the anti-air strike position rightly called for regional powers and the West to come to a long term peace settlement, whilst refusing to acknowledge that this is a process that takes a long time, and crucially does not aid allies on the ground right here and now. It was a nice sentiment, one that sounded peaceful, but one that inevitably requires more beheadings, more girls taken as slaves, more sex attacks, more gay people thrown from buildings whilst we wait patiently for Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Hezbollah, the US, Israel, Iraq, and President Assad to actually come to a table and settle centuries of differences. And so I was swayed to support air strikes for the simple fact that waiting for political solutions whilst not providing our allies on the ground with much needed air support, is nothing less than abandoning those allies. I supported air strikes on IS targets in Syria, for humanitarian reasons.

For the same humanitarian reasons, I support immediate food drops on the besieged town of Madaya.

Madaya is a small town not too far from Damascus. As we speak, 40,000 citizens of the town are besieged by troops loyal to President Assad and Hezbollah. Those citizens have no food. A kilogram of rice, currently costs £170. Stories have flooded onto social media of children forced to eat leaves, starving people killing their pets for valuable nutrition, and utterly horrific images detailing the horror as President Assad uses a familiar tactic of his, and deliberately starves an entire town.

The siege and starvation tactic, is said to be in retaliation for Jaysh al-Fateh attacking and besieging the two Shia towns of Fua and Kefraya. An appalling excuse. It takes the mentality of a monster to believe you defeat an enemy, by deliberately starving children.

The siege is maintained, by Hezbollah placing landmines all around the town, and setting up checkpoints to prevent anyone from leaving. In the meantime, mothers cannot find milk to feed their babies, babies who cannot speak, they cannot tell you just how starving they are. Babies. Anadolu Agency of Turkey has reported that six children died last month through starvation, with eight people killed after trying to escape and hitting landmines.

The situation emphasises just why President Assad must not be included in any political solution. He must be held accountable for some of the worst human rights abuses the 21st Century has witnessed, he must not be allowed to get away with starvation as a tactic of war. He is not an ally. He is not to be engaged with. He is deliberately and cruelly murdering children. This is not a statesman.

Waiting for a political solution to stop Assad starving his victims does nothing to aid the problem now. And right now, if the Western World can defend our values by dropping bombs on IS, we absolutely and immediately must help those victims starved to death by monsters, by dropping food.

Twisting Charlie.

January 6, 2016

There was a distinct lack of irony in the Vatican’s statement about the new cover of Charlie Hebdo’s publication, to coincide with the anniversary of the murders:

“Behind the deceptive flag of uncompromising secularism, the weekly is forgetting once more what religious leaders of every faith unceasingly repeat to reject violence in the name of religion – using God to justify hatred is a genuine blasphemy, as pope Francis has said several times,”

“In Charlie Hebdo’s choice, there is the sad paradox of a world which is more and more sensitive about being politically correct, almost to the point of ridicule, yet does not wish to acknowledge or to respect believers’ faith in God, regardless of the religion.”

– Ironic that an institution dedicated as it has been, to murdering heretics, to waging imperial wars, to crushing blasphemy, to backing the anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda, to scaring people into rejecting birth control, to Cardinal Turkson (a candidate for the Papacy) rejecting calls for human rights for gay folk, suddenly has the nerve to tell anyone that it rejects violence in the name of religion. I’m also not sure why claiming that religion might have a violent element represents a “deceptive flag of uncompromising secularism”. The reason secularism is a thing in the first place, is because religion didn’t deal too well with human rights when it had power. Indeed, it has power now in much of the World, and has very little respect for basic human rights. For the Vatican, not much has change, the Pope believes that if you commit blasphemy, you should expect a violent reaction:

“if my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch.”

“It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

– The Vatican is violence in the name of religion. It wishes to hold illiberal ideas dear, to empower those ideas across the World politically, whilst desiring that no one criticise or satirise on fear of attack.

But the Church is not the only place you’ll still find anger at Charlie Hebdo. It seems to loom mainly on the regressive left of the political spectrum, from those who simply do not understand that Charlie Hebdo is a left-leaning, publication satirising the right wing, in much the same way that Stephen Colbert manages so brilliantly in the US. The point of the publication is to exaggerate right winged stereotypes, to absurd levels, whilst keeping the fundamental arguments they often make. Regressives struggle with this.

Max Blumenthal – no stranger to inventing what other people say or mean – stripped all context away from this, when he posted the front cover of a Charlie Hebdo publication, on Twitter:

charlie-hebdo-racist-monkey-cartoon copy

– The clear implication is that Hebdo is a racist magazine, that has just called France’s Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, a monkey. As if the cartoonists have sat around a table, and decided it’d be really funny, to compare someone with dark skin, to an ape. What Blumenthal predictably left out, was that the picture was actually commenting and satirising the views of Anne-Sophie Leclere, a former Front National local election candidate who had recently compared Christiane Taubira to a monkey several times across media platforms. In the photo, you see the logo of the Front National. Further, Le Pen at this time was on a PR mission to reposition the Front National as less racist as they come across. She had started a group called “The Marine Blue Gathering” or “Rassemblement Bleu Marine”. The words in the photo satirise the attempts to reposition the Front National, replacing the word “Marine” for “Raciste”. The publication is essentially saying, you can try all you want…. you’re still a racist party, and here’s why…” thus the image on the cover is not devoid of context. Blumenthal left out the context, instead choosing to allow people to believe that Charlie Hebdo had just compared Christiane Taubire to a monkey.

Further, the image was drawn by the Charb; the late Editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo. His funeral was attended to by…. Christiane Taubire. The same Christiane Taubire who also delivered a wonderful eulogy to another murdered Hebdo journalist, in which she spoke so eloquently in support of Enlightenment values, and so wonderfully of the Hebdo journalist Bernard Verlhac (Tignous):

“The violence of these murders, of these assassinations, the barbarity of these crimes, the numbing, the stupefying horror, let us recognize it, has smashed our everyday sense of security, our routine, and, let us admit it, our drowsiness about these values, which we thought we had inherited from the Enlightenment, but about which we had forgotten that they carried with them the necessity of vigilance. And at the end of these horrible crimes, we can see that something was in the process of going lax in us. And this alarm reminds of our ambitions—which have been too long silent, too easily abandoned—for social justice, equality, education, and attention to others. We must find again that humanity and that uncompromising outlook that characterized Tignous.”

– She characterises Bernard Verlhac (Tignous) as dedicated to equality, to education, and to social justice. Meanwhile, Blumenthal implies that Charlie Hebdo just randomly decided to show a cartoon of a black lady as a monkey.

Political satire, that focuses on the victims of hypocrisy and indifference is not new. This piece for the Financial Times includes a similar photograph of the victims of Congo’s looted wealth, whilst the UN turns a blind eye. No one is implying that the cartoonist is mocking the victims. No one is implying white supremacism at the Financial Times. Charlie Hebdo is deliberately misinterpreted much of the time in a way that no other satirical publication or media outlet is.

On the anniversary of the murders of Charlie Hebdo’s writers and cartoonists, we liberals must defend and speak up consistently for the right to criticise and satirise political settlements, ideological frameworks of power (including religions), indifferent and illiberal responses to events, regardless of whether it be through satire, through serious critiques, through art. This is how we progress. We hold human rights, civil rights to be indestructible and undeniable, whilst ideas are simply targets to be scrutinised. We do not demonise for the scrutiny of ideologies. The scrutiny of ideas and the real World effect of those ideas, is a value we do not compromise for the sake of protecting bad ideas. Hebdo understands this. The Vatican, Islamists, and the regressives do not.