November 2004


Anti-consumerism&Seasonal11 Nov 2004 01:49 am

Worried about the impending cost of Christmas? Stressed about all that hellish shopping? Anxious about those January credit card statements? Concerned that those expensive gifts aren’t even wanted or needed by the recipients? Irritated by the way the shops are full of cards, decorations, wrapping paper and artificial snow in October? Getting a sick feeling in your stomach at the idea already?

Worry no more! With Buy Nothing Christmas, you can reclaim the festive season.

Best of all, you can have a bankruptcy-free New Year. Because you’re worth it.

American politics&Audience participation&Race09 Nov 2004 11:11 am

“If you look at American statistics, it shows that majority of Hate crimes are instigated by blacks. It’s fact. Not disputable.”
written by Katy – click here for full post

Americans, help me out here. Is this kind of view commonly held in your country? Or is it very much a minority view? Because I’m stunned by it. And if anyone in Britain spoke like this in public, the room would fall silent in horror.

This is a serious question, so if you’re American or you’ve spent a lot of time there, and you can spare a moment, please reply in the comments area. Thanks.

American politics&Asia Pacific&Human rights&Middle East08 Nov 2004 11:39 pm

Here’s a bedtime story.

Imagine China is the world’s biggest superpower. (It will be one day anyway.)

Imagine one day the Chinese government decides it doesn’t like the way America is being run. It decides that capitalist so-called democracy doesn’t suit its vision of the world. Imagine it’s annoyed with the way the American government interferes with its economic plans and its trade ambitions. It quite likes the look of America’s assets, the wealth and resources of that country. It likes the geographical location too, the way it provides easy access to the resources of Canada and South America.

Imagine China doesn’t believe in America’s god. (It doesn’t.)

Imagine it starts a propaganda campaign in China to win over the people. It tells them all about America’s human rights abuses – every country has some to pull out of the bag – and whips up patriotic Chinese fervour for what it claims is China’s superior, freer way of life. It points to a recent terrorist atrocity in China, done by some extremist Westerners as revenge for what they think is brutal Chinese foreign policy in Christian countries, and it claims that this was undertaken by a powerful organised network of Christian fundamentalists. Despite the fact that all Western countries condemned the attack, including the countries the Western terrorists came from, the Chinese people believe this version of events. It tells the Chinese people that Christian fundamentalism is the biggest ever threat to world safety. It warns the world that unless it takes action, Christian terrorists are going to destroy everyone. It tells the Chinese that Christian fundamentalists hate them because they are free.

Imagine this expansionist project meets great resistance from the rest of the world, but China uses its vast size and influence to intimidate some countries into joining in. It uses its sophisticated media and diplomatic channels to decry and deride those nations who refuse to get involved, calling them part of an axis of evil, or spineless, or disloyal, or ungrateful for past help. It embarks on trade restrictions and economic blackmail, or thinly veiled threats of attack, to those countries who do not offer help.

Imagine it enlists those allies it has managed to win and invades America. It bombs the American people into submission, removes Bush from power, imprisons him and installs a puppet leader who will run the country and its terrified people exactly as the Chinese government order. It drops leaflets on Americans, in English, explaining that the Chinese are liberating them and that they must make no attempts to resist if they wish to live.

Imagine some outspoken American people say “We weren’t happy with Bush, that’s true. He locked people up without trial in Guantanamo Bay. He allowed torture to be a legitimate military technique. He imposed draconian new laws to restrict civil liberties. He changed our constitution to restrict states’ rights to govern themselves. He cut taxes for the rich, lost us jobs, increased our national debt, squandered our money on weapons of mass destruction and reduced access to welfare. Hell, he wanted to reverse some women’s rights and he imposed his religious beliefs on all of us. But you Chinese people can’t just march in here and take over our country. That’s not freedom. That’s dictatorship.”

Imagine that plea has no effect. The Chinese government says “This is for your own good. Comply or you will be destroyed.”

Imagine the Chinese military campaign devastates rural areas and cities alike with aerial bombs and expensive weapons systems, killing hundreds of thousands of American citzens, destroying buildings, hospitals, water supplies, and bridges. It sparks a wave of American fury but doesn’t care. It insists it is liberating ordinary Americans. “We are not your enemy”, it says. “We are freeing you from Bush’s evil grasp. You should be grateful.”

Imagine the Chinese war machine keeps going until it dominates the whole country. All except a couple of cities. Imagine one of those cities is Chicago.

Imagine that almost all of Chicago has evacuated in fear or been killed. A hardcore 10% of the population either refuse to leave, or can’t because they’re old, sick or incapacitated. Those remaining who are able-bodied decide they aren’t going to stand for the Chinese aggression. They are going to fight back.

Imagine the American resistance fighters in Chicago try everything they can to defend their city against the Chinese takeover. Some of them manage to steal some weapons and bombs while the Chinese army aren’t looking, and mount attacks on Chinese soldiers. These Americans are dying in large numbers but still refuse to give up. They intend to fight to the death for the cause they believe in, for American freedom and autonomy to run their country the way they see fit. They refuse to recognise the new Chinese-authorised American president and vow to rid America of their violent invaders.

Imagine they are so desperate they resort to suicide bomb attacks on Chinese soldiers. They are so maddened by the drive to save their people and city they’re prepared to guarantee their own deaths if it’ll take out just one or two or three of these violent occupiers in the process. Imagine how desperate a person has to be to consider that a worthwhile sacrifice.

Imagine the Chinese government pulls a few international strings, twists a few arms and secures extra troops from one of its allies. It plans an enormous campaign to devastate Chicago and crush the American resistance. It tells the world media “These Chicago insurgents are terrorists. These terrorists are using Chicago as their base. We need to rid the country of these evil terrorists so we can free it. We need to kill these terrorists to protect the American people. We need to destroy Chicago in order to save it.”

Imagine Kofi Annan, the leader of the UN, intervenes at this point, telling the Chinese government to cancel the invasion of Chicago, that its plans are inadvisable and destructive. The Chinese government replies “But we’re just following the orders of the new American president.” The world knows this is ridiculous, as the new American president is nothing more than a figurehead put in place by the Chinese themselves. But the world media don’t dare to speak out, because they’re owned by multinational corporations who have a vested interest in maintaining Chinese hegemony. So they report it from the Chinese angle regardless of their own misgivings, calling the American resistance fighters “terrorists” and “rebels” and “insurgents”. They say the Chinese soldiers are “just working to make America a better place, to guarantee the safety of the elections next spring”.

Imagine a large number of Chinese soldiers aren’t happy with the orders their leaders are giving. Whole regiments are convinced that they have been sent to fight an unjust war, that they are being used as pawns in the economic games of corrupt rich men. They watch their Chinese friends dying, watch American civilians and children dying, feeling in their hearts that the killing they are being asked to do is wrong. Great numbers of them become convinced they’re being lied to by their leaders, but have no way of refusing to act out their orders. So they have to go ahead with the campaign despite these misgivings, but they are deeply distressed about it.

Imagine the Chinese army bombards Chicago with bombs, bullets and bayonets. It even invades a Chicago hospital, tying up and blindfolding all the staff who surrender and killing anyone who doesn’t. The Chinese army turns off the Chicago power and water supplies for days at a time, to wear down the few surviving Americans. Disease and suffering is rife. The American leader imposes a curfew so no man between 15 and 55 can leave their homes between certain hours, effectively permitting the Chinese soldiers to shoot on sight any man they see walking outside, regardless of whether he poses a threat.

Imagine the Chicago resistance still refuse to give in. They keep fighting until they can’t fight any more. They do this because they believe they are fighting for America, for freedom, for Jesus, for their families, for what they believe is right. They refuse to give in until the Chinese occupation leaves their country, even though they know they don’t have a hope in hell of beating 20,000 troops. They are prepared to fight to the death.

Imagine all this is happening right now. Imagine this is real.

Are these Chicago citizens terrorists? Or freedom fighters?

Before we go to sleep tonight, let’s reflect on this and be glad it’s just fiction.

And be grateful we aren’t spending the night in Fallujah.

American politics&Audience participation&British politics&Europe&Global politics&Human rights&Middle East&Race&Religion&Self07 Nov 2004 02:00 pm

Those of you who have trawled through the comments on this blog may be familiar with Katy, the Texan Republican who disagrees with me on every conceivable point. Well, Katy’s written an extensive refutation of my Goodnight America post in her own blog here.

Being up for a squabble, and clinically unable to leave her opinions on Jesus, racism and Bush unchallenged, I confess I responded in similar detail. That response is below.

I warn you: they’re quite long posts. And I still can’t work out how to modify my template for the cutaway technique, even by following the idiot-proof instructions. (I’m blaming the template itself for having tricksy style sheets, naturellement.) So it’s just a big slab of text. Whole paragraphs of the stuff.

But if you enjoy watching war-loving Christian Republicans and bleeding heart British socialists crossing swords, maybe you’ll think reading it is time well spent. It’s your call.

In an earlier post, Jon kindly remarked on my “patience” in responding to another commenter’s dissent. Ha. Jon, I wonder if it’s not so much patience as a natural extension of my British politeness. We apologise when other people push us in the street. (Seriously. We do!)

Besides, while it might be tempting for all sides to take the “Is your head full of marshmallows, dipshit?” angle, that would just shut closed minds even tighter. In all honesty, I’m often shocked at views like Katy’s, but it’s best to hear them. We each surround ourselves with like-minded people, so it’s easy to float along in an ideological bubble. At least this way nobody fools themselves that the world is anything other than a big argumentative soup. Er, so to speak.

American politics&Audience participation&British politics&Europe&Global politics&Human rights&Middle East&Pop culture&Race&Religion&Self&The art of blog07 Nov 2004 01:16 pm

My original post: Goodnight America
Katy’s detailed rebuttal: The Reckoning
This post is my response.

Hello Katy,

You’ve clearly spent time on this and I’m honoured you felt the opinions of an “ill-tempered brat” warrant such detailed attention. I’ll do my best to reply in similar depth.

Before we start, I cant help noticing you refer to me as ‘him’, ‘he’, ‘lad’, ‘fellow’ etc. Mine’s an anonymous blog and my profile contains no reference to my gender. It’s interesting that you made an assumption without checking either way. Then again, this scant regard for research sets the tone for the rest of your post. (It’s a serious comment as well as a cheap shot.) Let’s move onto the main business.

Christianity
Firstly, I agree with your assertion that evangelical Christians are not guaranteed to vote Republican. Obviously not. But most strict evangelical Christians do, and this is the platform the Republican party uses in its election campaigns. Please bear in mind I was differentiating evangelicals from all other branches of Christianity. That’s an important point, and you’d be misinterpreting my words if you assumed I was referring to every type of Christian. Indeed, plenty of Christian Americans (and other nationalities) have no problem with homosexuality, gay marriage and so on. Evangelicals don’t normally approve, but that is only one branch of Christianity. And my point was specific to this branch.

Naturally, every Christian believes they have the ‘right’ interpretation of the Bible. I was educated at Christian schools and am consequently very familiar with the Bible. We could debate Biblical ‘meaning’ for ever and still never agree, as the book contains innumerable contradictions and allegories. Don’t forget it was written in ancient Greek and Hebrew, so unless we speak either of these languages fluently, we can’t ever be 100% sure that the translations we use encapsulate all the subtleties of the original text. I’m well aware of that particular Leviticus quote but, as I say, you can ‘prove’ anything you like with the Bible. If you’d really like to get into a detailed scriptural debate then I’d oblige, but we aren’t likely to change each other’s minds even if we try. Besides, I’ll happily respect your interpretation if you respect other people’s. I’m sure we fundamentally disagree on more or less everything, but I wouldn’t call an alternative view “stupid” the way you do.

Back to Jesus. I wouldn’t call Jesus a ‘liberal’ in the modern American sense, no. I did, however, say he was one of the most tolerant left wing (in the British sense) figures in history. And I stick by this. This theory stands even if someone is not personally a Christian. History describes Jesus as a pacifist socialist (as we define that), regardless of whether you believe he’s the son of God or not. According to the New Testament, Jesus openly consorted with people whom his society despised as immoral. Isn’t that a pretty strong message to Christian bigots? How can any Christians condemn others for doing things they consider sinful when Jesus is quoted saying “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”? How can they defend rabid warmongering if Jesus said “Turn the other cheek” and “Love thy enemy”? I could go on indefinitely but, like I said, we’d probably still never reach an agreement. Perhaps you could check non-Evangelical sources like this Christian pacifist site for an alternative viewpoint to your own.

You rightly point out that not all evangelicals are Republicans, but then fall into the same trap of generalising about liberals. Not all liberals believe in abortion. Not all liberals believe in same sex marriage. Like all other belief systems, there’s an element of disagreement among the people you call ‘liberal’, just as the Christian churches are forever arguing amongst themselves about points of doctrine. That’s human nature. I’d love governments to “leave God and politics apart”, as you say. That would fix the problem I wrote about in the first place.

Hip hop and racism
I’m a big fan of hip hop, so I’m glad you brought that up. Although I’m not sure why you did, as it doesn’t seem to relate to anything I said. Are you citing rappers as the opposite of evangelical Christians? Why? Where’s the link? I note you’ve already posted an opinion on what you consider black racism in an earlier post on your blog, so perhaps it’s an obsession of yours. OK, let’s discuss it with reference to rap.

We’ll disregard for a moment any rap lyrics written by white, Hispanic, Asian and European artists, even if they are equally violent. You’re talking about African American rappers, so I’ll refer to this area alone.

You’ve conveniently managed to ignore the 98% of lyrics which are not in the ‘gangsta’ genre and which don’t advocate violence against anyone. You’ve ignored all examples of poetry, incisive social commentary, lyrics which speak of peace, against violence and in support of racial harmony. You’ve ignored the party anthems and the love songs. You’ve ignored joyful pop grooves and mournful emotional explorations. You’ve even misinterpreted some of the lyrics you actually quote which, when read or heard carefully and in context, you’d realise are spoken in character or as a narrative commentary on social events. But I guess that’s because hip hop is nothing to do with your world, and ignorance breeds fear and mistrust.

Brand Nubian were a militant Nation of Islam crew who loved the controversy their extreme lyrics generated. So what? You’re overestimating the power of music, and underestimating the intellect of the young people who listen to it. I don’t agree with racial separatism or racial supremacy in any form, but I don’t take personal offence at the views of Louis Farrakhan or those who agree with him either. I don’t take offence at your opinions, extreme though they are. Differences of opinion are healthy, so long as everyone has the right to reply.

At this point, I’m tempted to reel off a whole page of racist or religion-intolerant lyrics by white artists, but then I’d be sinking to the same simplistic, blinkered level. So let’s just concentrate on African American rappers.

Such selective accusations of racism are often made when hip hop is discussed by white people who are terrified of black people. Why are they so threatened and appalled by the artistic products of young black working class men, while ignoring any dumb chat from white artists? Perhaps because of repressed guilt about the fact that America’s fortunes (and, yes, Europe’s empires) were built on the back of slave labour? Perhaps because they don’t actually know any black people? Who knows. Ordinary Britain is more racially integrated than America, though our elite institutions are just as white-dominated, so it’s difficult to judge from this side of the Atlantic. All I’d say is that the time I’ve spent in America has included a whole stack of gasp-out-loud moments when I witnessed the way some black people were treated by some whites, and how black society is all but invisible in the white areas of even the most equally-proportioned states. I can only assume this cultural divide is responsible for the half-truths and misunderstandings shown by part of the nation towards hip hop, arguably America’s dominant and most innovative popular art form.

Anyway, this racism charge is deceptive. There are several issues you are missing here:

A – On average, African Americans are at a greatly disadvantaged social position in America compared with white Americans. Like most of the developed world, America’s institutions are inherently racist. There are more African American kids in poverty even than Native American kids. The average black American earns 61% less than the average white American. You don’t need me to explain all this, you must know that black people get a much worse deal in your country than white people do, no matter how talented they are. I could write a whole book on this subject, but it’s pretty basic and obvious, so I won’t insult your intelligence by spelling it out.

B – This power structure puts an entirely different perspective on it. Racism by someone in a position of power is clearly oppression. On the other hand, if someone who’s at the bottom of the heap expresses prejudice against white people, that’s not going to set the heads of rich white people rolling down Main Street USA. Black prejudice is every bit as stupid as white racism, and each perpetuates the other. Racism on any level is a divisive, unconstructive attitude and will never build any social bridges. But are you really telling me you can’t understand why some poor black people are angry with white society? If white people had been enslaved, forcibly segregated then supposedly ‘liberated’ a few decades ago, then told they are equal and should quit whining, while still hitting their heads on an invisible glass ceiling that stops them ascending to the top of almost any social or business group – apart from sport and music, two officially sanctioned entertainment roles – wouldn’t white artists start writing a whole lot of angry lyrics about black people? My guess is: yes. This doesn’t make prejudice OK. But such lyrics make up a tiny minority of this music, and are frequently spoken in character form, to make a point via hyperbole, to use extreme imagery to highlight the violence of the criminal justice system, to explore the dangerous conditions of poverty, to satirise the contradictions of modern American life, to construct metaphors for the greed of big business, and a million other things.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever studied literature or poetry to any great extent, but you’ll agree that a poem which contains the words “I killed my mother today” (for example) does not immediately provoke the reader to say “My God! This poet is telling people they should kill their mothers! Why isn’t something DONE about this?” Not if it’s a white poet anyway. Does anyone think the author of a crime novel is ‘promoting’ murder? Does anyone accuse Arnold Schwarzenegger of ‘promoting’ violence, given the excessive bodycounts in his films? No. Artistic licence and deeper levels of meaning are expected from artists. Look for them in rap and you may be surprised.

C – A lot of rappers are young men. A lot of young male African American rappers start life poor, fiercely intelligent and livid at a society which treats them as second best and fights against them attaining power at every turn. A lot of them respond angrily in words. The bottom line is that a lot of kids of all colours and creeds shoot their mouths off, before they grow up and take a more measured approach. That’s youthful passion for you. Yes, some successful rap artists are violent in real life. Most are not – though they or their security team may carry guns because they feel vulnerable, but that’s probably true of most rich celebrities in your country. Unless they actually take a gun and enact those violent lyrics, I’d suggest they’re protected by your comprehensive freedom of speech legislation and their songs should be taken as fiction and a damning indictment of racial tensions in modern America. Which is what they are.

Needless to say, you also miss the point that some black people are also Christians. Sometimes they’re evangelical Christians. So some could theoretically be bloodthirsty neocon bigots too, just like some white people are. Isn’t it a small world?

America and society
I didn’t state that Christians are more interested in money than non-Christians. If anything, I’d say a truly devout Christian should be less interested in material wealth and more in spiritual wealth than the non-religious. My point referred to the hypocritical corporate-biased Christians who are running the country.

As for my two fake commandments, I suggest you read them again. I was pointing out that these DID NOT appear in the Bible, contrary to the behaviour of some of those same professed Christians. It was a wry joke. Never mind.

The ever-escalating American national debt has less to do with foreign aid than pouring endless money into defence spending and tax cuts for the rich. And the main reason so many Africans are starving is because rich countries like ours screw them over via organisations like the WTO and the IMF, and their own corrupt governments collude with ours. If you’d like to research this point further, I can recommend plenty of comprehensive sources. Try George Monbiot’s The Age of Consent, Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival or former World Bank Vice President Joseph Stiglitz’s Globalisation and its Discontents for some initial background on these structures.

And for the last time: the war in Iraq is nothing to do with terrorism. Iraq had no involvement with acts of terrorism against our countries. 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi Arabian, as is boogeyman-in-chief Osama bin Laden. Not Iraqi. Why didn’t America attack Saudi Arabia instead? Because Saudi Arabia provides 25% of your gasoline supply and the Saudi royal family have business and personal connections with Bush’s family and friends, amongst other reasons. Again, I could refer you to any number of authoritative sources on the real state of post-invasion Iraq but perhaps these are two of the most eloquent and touching:
http://www.back-to-iraq.com/
http://www.livejournal.com/users/_vert1go_/

Home stretch
Finally, your numbered points:

1 – Unilateral in the sense that the UN, an organisation to which America belongs, did not permit military action in this case. America decided to do it anyway, followed by lapdog Britain. Kerry isn’t the point here. I am referring to international politics, not local.

2 – 100,000 civilian Iraqis and at least 1,000 soldiers have died violently since 2003. The main cause of death in Iraq is now violence, and plenty of Iraqis are blowing themselves up in a deranged attempt to rid the country of what they see as an illegal occupation. Need I say more?

3 – Yes, I’m aware of Britain’s shameful imperial past. If you’re not aware of America’s current imperial ambitions, you should make it your business to find out.

4 – What happened to conscientious objection and standing up against the school bully?

5 – I find it staggering that you’re clearly so unaware of America’s foreign policy, but this may be down to the education system which you referred to in a previous post.

6 – Yes, I call a place deliberately outside US borders where foreigners are detained in violation of international law without trial or charges, due to their Arab ethnicity, a concentration camp. It’s not a metaphor, it’s a direct label. Amnesty International is equally appalled (“cruel, inhuman [and] degrading treatment in violation of international law”, as they put it), and so is the International Red Cross. The treatment of these prisoners should be a stain on America’s conscience. Again, if you’d care to research it properly – i.e. through a balanced variety of independent sources, not just the White House homepage – you’ll learn that a huge number of Arab prisoners in Guantanamo were captured by the Afghan Northern Alliance with a price on each head. These prisoners are not guilty of any act of terrorism. In fact, many of them are men who had been forcibly conscripted to the Afghan army by force and who were captured during US violence in Afghanistan. How’s that for irony?

7 – I do indeed blame the lazy, biased media. But those who do not scratch the surface to find the truth beneath are equally culpable.

Britain never had free gun ownership, so I’m not sure where your odd crime statistic point comes from. Handguns were banned entirely a while ago, but the general ownership of guns has never existed here. In the words of the late Bill Hicks: “In the USA, where guns are not just legal, they’re a way of life, there were 23,000 deaths from handguns. In England, where guns are illegal, there were 14 deaths from handguns. Now let’s go through those numbers again because they’re a little baffling at first glance. England, where no one has guns: 14 deaths. United States… 23,000 deaths from handguns. But there’s no connection… And you’d be a fool and a communist to make one. There’s no connection to having a gun and shooting someone with it and not having a gun and not shooting someone.”

Lastly, I reiterate that Osama’s not worried. Bush isn’t even looking for him. He admitted that a couple of weeks ago.

Thanks for reading and enjoy a peaceful Sabbath.

News media07 Nov 2004 02:46 am

Nasty news. There’s been a derailment of a London to Penzance train this evening. The crash has horrified my family, many of whom live minutes away from the scene of the accident. At least 6 people have died and many more are critically ill in hospital.

For everyone who lives within 100 miles of London, it’s a case of “Not again?! How many more incidents are First Great Western trains going to be involved in?”

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Nobody yet knows why it happened. The train hit a car which had stopped on an automatic level crossing. There’s no word on whether the driver was still inside the car at the time of impact, or if the barriers had failed to work. So many questions and no answers until tomorrow at the earliest. The last train crash enquiry took years to reach significant conclusions.

The Sky News channel really surpassed itself during its rolling coverage of the tragedy. At the very first ad break was a Toyota sponsorship ad. The subject of this promo? A new environmentally safe train, with shots of said train rolling across a level crossing, narrated by a jaunty voiceover. I’m not even joking.

Random life05 Nov 2004 07:08 pm

Yeah yeah. I know I promised fluffy bunnies.

American politics&Europe&Global politics05 Nov 2004 07:06 pm

John F. Kennedy to the Soviet leader Kruschev after the Bay of Pigs disaster:

“What your Government believes is its own business; what it does in the world is the world’s business.”

American politics&Middle East05 Nov 2004 06:16 pm

Yesterday, Israeli news sources announced that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was “clinically dead”. The West Bank and Gaza Strip went into mourning.

Then that information was denied by the French doctors who are treating Arafat. They insisted he was in a “reversible coma”.

The Palestinian envoy to France, Leila Shahid, today added to the confusion by saying Arafat is “at a critical juncture between life and death. The doctors don’t have a diagnosis. All vital organs are functioning… he could or could not wake up.”

So what’s actually wrong with Arafat? Rumours that he was poisoned, has leukaemia or is suffering from cancer have all been categorically denied. Are the doctors really stumped, or are they keeping the nature of his incapacity a secret for some reason?

The implications for Middle East peace are unknown. As Palestine’s figurehead, he is caricatured as a figure of loathing to Israelis and Americans. But to the Palestinians, he is a hero who refused to give up even in the darkest days of (what they see as) Israeli occupation and plunder of lands. Whether Israel and Palestine will be more or less willing to negotiate for peace in the absence of Arafat remains to be seen.

If we thought the situation was inflamed already, we should keep a close eye on it if Arafat does head back to Allah over the next few days.

Incidentally, all pro-Israel Americans should read this post on Arafat (by Safire):
“We have to realize that there are two sides to every story, and that the American side is almost always told from the perspective of rich white men who want to keep a stranglehold on their power.”

British politics&Middle East04 Nov 2004 07:45 pm

Three British Black Watch soldiers have been killed in Iraq, on the second day of their deployment. Their Iraqi interpreter ator was also killed.

Nicholas Soames, the Tory shadow defence MP, immediately popped up on Channel 4 news to offer his opinions. They amounted to the idea that we need to “get behind” the soldiers now that three of them have died. Which meant: we need to stop protesting against the war.

The death of these soldiers is more likely to inflame British anger about the war, not inspire them to a sudden jingoistic U-turn. How out of touch MPs are with their electorate. Only recently we were told that deployment of Black Watch were being requested by George Bush, and what a hugely unpopular request that was. The country was opposed to the idea of risking more British lives, but inevitably the government agreed to the request. It was an immensely unpopular decision.

And Soames says we should change our views. Anti-war views aren’t appropriate when soldiers are dying, he thinks.

Where does this “our boys are risking their lives, let’s pretend it’s all in a good cause even though we were against it before” viewpoint come from? Where’s the logic?

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