““The only effective way to deal with bad speech is more speech and better speech to drown out the bad speech in the sea of ideas and not to jail or harass the speaker”.”
– Alan DershowitzContinue reading
““The only effective way to deal with bad speech is more speech and better speech to drown out the bad speech in the sea of ideas and not to jail or harass the speaker”.”
– Alan DershowitzContinue reading →
Fascinating set of videos and commentary from the Civil Liberties Examiner on why talking to the cops is always a bad idea.
So, the police are investigating a crime, and in the course of their investigation, they come to chat with you about what you know or may have seen. You’ve done nothing wrong, so you have no objections to sitting down with the investigating officers and telling what little you may know. But the questioning becomes more intense, you find yourself stumbling over facts that don’t seem important to you, but have the police pricking up their ears. And suddenly you realize that you’re not just a helpful witness; now you’re a suspect.
What did you do wrong?
The answer, unfortunately, is that you talked yourself into trouble — yes, even innocent people can do that. You’ve probably heard that before from your paranoid brother-in-law, or a lawyer friend, but you didn’t do anything. Who would have believed that your life could be turned upside down by a few words?
Prof. James Duane of the Regent University School of Law is one of the people who does believe that loose lips sink … well, not ships, but reputations and even lives. In an engaging and lively 27-minute lecture (I know, I know — but it’s worth watching), without assuming any malice on the part of the police, he explains just how you can talk yourself into trouble, and why you shouldn’t talk to the police at all when suspicion wanders in your direction.
This post is a about Michael Totten’s report “A Dark Corner of Europe” Part 1. You need to read this article for this post to make sense. Michael Totten’s article is mostly very good article, and I, perhaps unfairly, am focussing only on the negatives here.
Michael Totten is a great independent journalist who I have followed avidly over the last few years, especially as he reported from Lebanon.
He is supposedly the master of independent journalism and canny travelogues but my respect for him has been slightly tarnished after he visited Belgrade – my adopted home town – and filed a hatchet job about it that completely contradicts what every other visitor is reports. He suggests, in essence, that Belgrade is a “dark corner of Europe”, a squalid xenophobic and anti-Semitic hell hole full of “Communist architecture”.
Well OK, that may be a bit of a stretch, but the article is negative, at times snide (especially the photo captions), misleading about Belgrade (and Serbia) and very one sided in that is only presents an ultra-Liberal view of the situation here from the perspective of a local film-maker (Filip David).
The Belgrade of Michael’s report is nearly unrecognisable to me, a resident of three years. It says nothing about the real Belgrade that I have lived and worked in for three years, the booming vibrant cosmopolitan party town that rapidly growing numbers of appreciative visitors are flocking to in greater and greater numbers. Unfortunately I think it tells us plenty about Michael’s lack of research, poor planning, paucity of diverse contacts on the ground and his previously revealed touch of Serbophobia .
Perhaps an analysis of his post is in order to help illuminate some of the unfair points?
Michael and the Taxi Driver
The post starts off with Michael and Sean being berated by a taxi driver, who rips them off.
Even cursory research about Belgrade would have revealed the many warnings about the Taxi Mafia who operate from Belgrade airport.They have pretty much cleared out of the airport now, but for many years they have been a pest that both rip off visitors and ruin people’s first impressions of the city.
Well informed visitors simply call one of the many legitimate taxi companies or go to the taxi desk at arrivals and order a legal taxi. A ride into to any part of the city would normally not cost more than 1000 dinars (or on a Sunday, maximum 1500).
The Taxi Mafia are criminal scum, and as you would expect they represent the worst of the country. It comes as no surprise that the cab driver took his opportunity to berate Michael and Sean.
Michael writes that he was afraid to reveal he was a journalist, some 9 years after the bombing, and was worried for his safety because of then recent embassy attacks. It was an unfounded fear, because even in 1999 – at the hight of the bombing – foreign journalists and citizens were treated (as they are now) with kindness, respect and hospitality. Take for example Marko Hoare, a British journalist and Balkan expert:
During the Kosovo War of 1999, I lived for more than a month in an ordinary Belgrade suburb, solely in the company of the native people of Belgrade and without any contact with other foreigners. Several times, during and immediately after this war, I crossed the Serbian international border. During this period, on not one single occasion did I, as a Briton, experience so much as a curse or a rude word from any Serbian citizen or border guard, despite the fact that my country’s airforce was bombing their country. One border guard even said to his colleague, in front of me, that what NATO was doing had nothing to do with me, but was the fault of higher powers. The Serbian people, for the most part, are not hooligans and do not engage in random acts of mob violence and destruction. Why should yesterday’s demonstrators have attacked McDonald’s restaurants, when during the Kosovo War the local management of these restaurants patriotically (as they saw it) supported the Serbian defence against NATO ? McDonald’s posters in 1999 Belgrade displayed the colours of the Serbian flag and promised a share of their profits to a fund for military invalids. Those who view themselves as engaged in a righteous act of national self-defence (as most Serbian people, however misguidedly, genuinely did in 1999), do not degrade themselves with acts of rioting and looting. One rioter was burned to death in the attack on the US embassy; this wave of violence, which has already produced dozens of injuries in recent days, is already violent in comparison with the revolution that overthrew Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000. [Emphasis mine Source]
Michael and the Hotels
Michael complains about the horrible Hotel Royal and denounces Belgrade’s hotels. He writes:
Most of the city’s hotels are in so-called New Belgrade. They are overpriced, far from the city center, and surrounded by communist-era monstrosity architecture.
No, they are not Michael. The two biggest ones are (Hyatt and Intercontinental), but most hotels are in the Old Town (Stari Grad). Many ARE overpriced, but that was because until now most visitors were businessmen – a captured market – and there was no competition.
Things have changed radically. A whole new generation of excellent and affordable hotels have opened in and around the Old Town. Had you done your research you would have found out that the Hotel Royal is one of the worst hotels in the city. Why did you not try Le Petit Piaf or Hotel City Code or any one of the brilliant hotels nearby?
Michael Looks for A Party
Michael and Sean set off in search of some fun, but only found a Ethno-Karaoke bar and a Turkish themed dive.
Michael you walked UP Kralja Petra, you should have walked DOWN to Strahinjica Bana (aka Silicone Valley) one of Belgrade’s famous “strips” where you would have found hundreds of glitterati partying on the many bars and restaurants. I have no idea what Karaoke Bar you found, but you were 100m away from Bar Central, a world class cocktail bar with brilliant music and crowd (it is out of shot to the left in the photo captioned “Belgrade after midnight”).
Had you asked anyone, they would have directed you to one of the clubbing areas (like the river party boats).
If only you had made contact with any of the expatriates in Belgrade we could have guided you away from the crap bars and shown you Belgrade’s incredible nightlife.
Belgrade is deservedly famous for being a fantastic party town. It is a real pity you did not have someone to show you around. Even people like Tom Merchant, founder of award winning travel company Black Tomato, have praised Belgrade lavishly , as have The Times of London , the New York Times and dozens more.
Michael and the Writer
Michael interviews a local writer who speaks for the ultra-liberals of Serbia.
I support the Liberal Democratic Party so the early part of Mr Filip David’s interview with Michael Totten pretty much sums up what I think about much of the politics here.
That said, I am a foreigner and I have my own biases. But Mr David is unrepresentative of Serbs in general, and presents a deeply negative view of Serbia that even I would dispute.
Imagine I went to America and interviewed Michael Moore then reported back that his was the authentic voice of the USA? Well that is kind of how many Serbs will feel about Michael’s encounter with Filip David.
At times Michael and Mr David veer into speculation, generalization and stereotypes. They try and pass off Serbian anti-Americanism as the product mere propaganda and conspiracy theories.
It is true that the lunatic fringe and the Radical Party peddle absurd anti-Semitic and anti-American conspiracy theories but do not let that obscure the fact that Serbian anti-Americanism is firmly rooted in rightful outrage over the Clinton administration’s illegal and murderous bombing of the country in 1999. That bombing campaign is now widely seen to have been the result of being duped by the KLA, an attack on a sovreign state in supported Muslim separatist ethnic nationalists who went on to Ethnically Cleanse Serbs, Gorani and Roma from Kosovo and then turn the province into a corrupt and violent mafia state.
Had you Michael diversified his interview subjects, he may very well have come to understand that even those who support Kosovo independence here are outraged at the bombing and the general bullying manner in which post-Milosevic democratic Serbia has been treated by the US, EU and UN.
At one point Michael shocked me with this throw-away comment, writing:
Kosovo’s current prime minister Hashim Thaci, who really is a bit sketchy, was recently and absurdly accused of harvesting and selling Serb body parts. When you throw The Protocols of the Elders of Zion into the mix, it’s a good idea to fact-check what you hear – which is frankly good advice in the Balkans in general, not just in Serbia.
Well Michael here is what you do not know: Those allegations came from noted UN prosecutor Carla Del Ponte in her book “The Hunt”. The do sound like rubbish, but as Human Rights Watch have noted, the underlying fact is that hundreds of Serbs have been “disappeared” since 1999 and the KLA are directly implicated. HRW have called for an investigation:
NEW YORK — A senior Human Rights Watch (HRW) official has called on Priština to investigate the fate of more than 400 missing non-Albanians in Kosovo.
In this way, Fred Abrahams argues in a commentary carried by BIRN, “it would prove it cared for all its citizens, regardless of ethnicity”.
Carla Del Ponte’s book, Abrahams says, with allegations concerning the possible trafficking of prisoners’ organs from a mysterious yellow house near the Albanian town of Burrel, “has led to Serbian officials exaggerating the claims, while officials in Priština and Tirana called them a slanderous lie”.
So he is not “a bit sketchy”, he oversees a government that allows the ongoing sectarian violence against Serbs, a government which is the inheritor of power from the KLA – a state department listed terrorist organisation and mafia enterprise that is directly implicated in the mass murder of both non-Albanians and Albanians in Kosovo.
For more on the Albanian organ harvesting case and Albanian mass murderers being freed by the Hague after killing all witnesses, see:
You might notice that the point is not about whether the Organ Harvesting is true or not, but the blanket refusal of UN and other bodies to investigate alleged crimes against Serbs and other non-Albanians in Kosovo.
It is the double standard that irks Serbs. Every ridiculous claim but its enemies are reprinted as gospel truth whilst acknowledged war crimes like the abduction of 400 Serbian civilians remains investigated (and unreported) to this today.
Michaels photo captions are very snide at times. For example in one photo he captions a picture of Belgrade’s military museum and writes:
Well no, Michael, it is a museum. Do American’s like to show off their military hardware in public too? I mean what the hell is the Intrepid doing moored at New York?
Serbia had not been bombed
During a walking tour Michael “saw virtually no evidence that Belgrade had ever been bombed.” A walk down Kralja Milena would have provided you with all the evidence required. There are multiple shattered building right across the road from the US Embassy.
Later he sees,
“[The] bombed-out Belgrade TV station building…[which]…stood out as one of the few remaining demolished buildings from the air campaign. It seems to be left as a show-piece. It’s hard to say, though, if this building was left in its condition to wave the bloody shirt against Americans or against the Milosevic regime.”
This is an interesting point because I have wondered why so many ruins have been left in place. Serb opinion is split. Some say it is, as Michael says “to wave a bloody shirt”. Other people have told me there are unexploded bombs, that it is massively expensive to clear the sites and that there are fears of Depleted Uranium. I am not sure if any of that is true.
Michael reveals his ignorance about what really happened in Kosovo
Michael writes that
“[Milosevic’s] ethnic-cleansing campaign turned 90 percent of Kosovar Albanians into refugees”.
This is a half-truth, and as such is one of the enduring anti-Serb myths of the war.
The typical story starts with genocidal Serbs picking on poor defenceless Albanians and ends with trains of Albanian civilians pouring out of Kosovo terrified for their lives, the survivors of ethnic cleansing and genocide.
That is the KLA/Western Media version and has no bearing on reality. It was all media warfare. The story should have started back in 1981 with the Pristina riots. It should have charted the KLA insurgency and, murderous campaign against Albanian rivals. It should include the ethnic warfare against Serbs that culminated in the Serbian Army being deployed to fight the KLA insurgency.
And of course the the story did not end with the Kosovar civilians leaving in droves. We later discovered that the massacres and ethnic cleansing claimed by NATO and the KLA did not happen. The civilians fled because they were warned to by the KLA and because they were terrified by the news reports from the duped Western media. They all returned home within a few months. And then they set about hounding, persecuting and ethnically slaughtering non-Albanians so that 90% of non-Albanians have been permanently Ethnically Cleansed from Kosovo since the NATO bombing.
So please shut up about the temporary, propaganda-driven KLA-orchestrated media stunt and pay some attention to the real outrage of Kosovo: The hundreds of thousands of deracinated Serbs, Gorani and Roma (not to mention the hundreds of missing, probably dead abductees), the illegal bombing of Serbian civilians, the human slave trafficking, the drug smuggling, the ongoing oppression of minorities in Kosovo. That is the real outrage in this story. You may very well see it first hand.
Since you are going to Kosovo. Make sure you visit the embattled Serb communities living in razor wire surrounded ghettos, guarded by foreign soldiers and under daily attack from Albanian sectarian violence.
Head to the south of the province, try and visit the village of Velika Hoca and the town of Orahovac. What you find will shock you.
Safe in Belgrade
Towards the end of the first instalment Michael asked Filip David “I feel like we’re safe here, is that true?”. Mr David replies “Yes, generally. But sometimes you will have somebody say they don’t like you if they hear you speak English.”
Michael notes that no-one had been rude to he or Sean. I think it is worth noting that Belgrade is one of the safest cities in the world. There is virtually no street crime and xenophobia is so are as to be almost unheard of. An American is in more danger in London than Belgrade where the overwhelming majority of encounters will be hospitable and helpful – more so than any Western European capital.
I will introduce you to ideas that you have not explored, for example how it was the KLA who mastered Hizbollah-style media warfare and used it to dupe the West into unnecessary and illegal aggression against Serbia. I will give you Western conservative’s account of what happened here. I guarantee that there is a vast and nuanced complexity to the situation here that you are missing right now, a complexity that I can help explain.
And I will take you out and show you a proper Belgrade good time, I will make sure you are put up somewhere decent and I will get you to the airport for free.
Do we have a deal?
The central tenet of those who support unrestricted mass immigration has long been its putative economic benefits.
When the social costs of mass immigration were pointed out, the Homo Economicus argument would be deployed.
I have long seen through the sham of this argument and I am on record slamming it regularly.
See or example:
Today I read of a vindication of sorts. It turns out that people like Robert Henderson and I were absolutely right all along.
From the BBC:
Record levels of immigration have had “little or no impact” on the economic well-being of Britons, an influential House of Lords committee has said.
It says competition from immigrants has had a negative impact on the low paid and training for young UK workers, and has contributed to high house prices.
The peers, including two ex-chancellors and other Cabinet members, say there should be a cap on immigration levels.
…In their report, “The Economic Impact of Immigration”, the peers said the government “should have an explicit target range” for immigration and set rules to keep within that limit.
…And they rejected claims by ministers that a high level of immigration was needed to prevent labour shortages as “fundamentally flawed”.
I have received a number of emails from friends curious to know the inside track on the Kosovo situation from their man on the ground in Serbia.
The problem is that when one is very close to the situation, and are disinterest enough to be able to see the complexities, it become very hard to summarise the story for those watching through the grossly distorted lenses of the infotainment industry (aka the media).
Even though I am not a Serbs, I am emotionally exhausted and drained by the whole topic. I just want it to be over now so the country can move on. That said I owe it to many of you to give you some insights that I have gleaned living in Serbia and having seen the situation close-up for three years. This is my position statement on Kosovo:
The Serbs are rightfully furious. Kosovo has, indeed, been illegally stolen from them by means of gross and illegal violence (the bombing) . They have been bullied by a strongly biased anti-Serb EU and America that cannot admit that they were duped by the terrorist KLA into illegally bombing a sovereign state in defence of Ethnic Nationalist separatists who mostly staged a humanitarian crisis (I say mostly becuase there is no doubt Milosevic’s forces did commit at least some atrocities). The EU and US are violating long-standing and fundamental principles of International Law and diplomacy – Sovereign Equality and Inviolable borders – two pillars of modern stability since World War 2.
States recognising Kosovo insisted that it is not a precedent because it is a “special case”. The reasoning is that supposed crimes committed by the Serbian government against Kosovars have removed Serbia’s right to govern this part of its own country. This reasoning is baseless in law and ignores the fact that those crimes were massively and deliberately exaggerated by orders of magnitude.
Additionally the appalling treatment of minorities by Albanians is ignored. Serbian, Roma and Gorani minorities have suffered much more ethnic violence and deracination than Albanians. By that logic of the EU/US they Albanians have ruled themselves out of governing the province too.
The democratic and pluralist Serbia of 2008 is being punished today for the actions of a deposed and dead dictator, himself an Ethnic Nationalist, acting without proper mandate in a country that violently opposed to him. It is like punishing the people of Iraq for the actions of Saddam Hussein.
The reasons and justifications for NATO intervening in Kosovo in 1999 were utterly baseless and illegal.
The reasons and justifications offered by the EU/US for granting Kosovo independence today are also baseless and illegal. They are desperate to be done with the mess they have created in Kosovo. They are also desperate not to establish a precedent – even though that is exactly exactly what Kosovo is: The intellectual, moral and legal justification that every separatist region of the world was waiting for.
With all that said, here is the shocker: I support Kosovo independence.
As a pro-Serb I find myself in the strange situation of being outraged by the way in which Kosovo was forced from Serbia but at the same time convinced that the best thing may now be to just let it go and move on. If the EU were trying to force Serbia to integrate Kosovo there would be war. When I ask Serbs the simple questions: “Do you really want to have over a million hostile Albanians as citizens of Serbia?” the answer is resoundingly “No”.
I believe you would have 500 year problem if you forced Kosovo back into Serbia. There would be massive community tensions, possibly insurrection and destabilising war. I believe Kosovo is economically untenable and would be a burden to the State of Serbia. I think there is better way, and this is what it is. Since the the people of Kosovo and the people of Serbia will be neighbours forever, some sort of accommodation must eventually be reached. I believe the best chance of that is when both regions are more prosperous and borders are completely open: both in the EU, for example.
If it were done to me (and it is not of course, I support the people of Serbia in what they decide) this is what I would do if I were president of Serbia.
I would endorse full independence and international recognition for the State of Kosovo with a commitment to mutual social and economic development, with the following conditions:
- Financial compensation to be paid to Serbia for the illegal and wrongful bombing by NATO in 1999
- EU sponsored recompense for the 400bn of Serbian State assets in Kosovo
- Full acknowledgement that putative Serbian crimes in Kosovo – and the justifications for the bombing – were massively over stated
- Full recognition that the Republic of Serbia is surrendering its rightful sovereignty over its province of Kosovo in the interests of peace and stability and with the understanding that its sovereignty and territory is henceforth fixed forever
- Immediate fast-track accession status for Serbia AND Kosovo into the EU
- Kosovo to remain a sovereign state until at least 2030, with no option for unifying with neighbours or other secessionist territories.
- UN/NATO funded peacekeeping mission to guarantee the safety of minorities (Gorani, Roma and Serbs) until 2030 or until the Serbia Parliament agrees to end the mission.
- World Heritage Status for remaining Serbian Churches and monasteries with permanent guards and protection
- Harsh hate crime legislation to be part of the Kosovo law guaranteeing safety for all against ethnic violence and sectarian oppression
- Right of return and/or full restitution for deracinated Serbs, Roma and Gorani
- 20 year energy and mineral rights concessions for the Republic or Serbia in Kosovo mines
- Guaranteed investments and structural loans to bootstrap Sustainable Economic Development (Business Process Outsourcing, Renewable Energy, Hi Tech Low Infrastructure Industries)
- That the EU funds a full transport and infrastructure upgrade to Serbian sections of corridors 10 and 8 to include redundant fibre links to Timishoara, Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Budapest and Zagreb
- Serbia to retain Free Trade Agreements with Russian Federation and the EU with the exclusive right to conduit trade for Serbian manufactured or produced goods
- A UN/NATO funded Peace and Reconciliation Commission to resolve and finally account for 20th Century Balkan History and end the ludicrous anti-Serb bias in the narrative of the Yugoslav wars and super state institutions like ICTY
This is my best case scenario. Other scenarios – all of them ranging from very unlikely to ludicrous – include:
Here are some other things I have learned from the Kosovo situation:
Population is Destiny.
For at least 1000 years Kosovo has been considered by Serbs to be their spiritual heartland. The problem is that the Collins Atlas of World History is right: Half of history is human migration (the other half is mostly population fluctuations and conquest). In Kosovo, these factors went against the Serbs. Due to migration and rapid Albanian population growth, Kosovo’s population became overwhelmingly Albanian in the 20th century and that fact alone made its eventual separation from Serbia inevitable. Population is destiny, and the Serbs in Kosovo once outbred and outnumbered were eventually, and dare I say it, inevitably, deracinated. [NB. It is a little known fact that the biggest number of victims of Ethnic Cleansing are Serbs, with hundreds of thousands of Serbian refugees (or Internally Displaced People) from Croatia and Kosovo still crowded into emergency housing across Serbia.
You reap what is sown in your name
Human rights violations carried out in the name of Serbs inflicted enormous damage on the reputation of Serbs and Serbia. A perception took hold that Serbs were genocidal murderers and this (unfair) perception was exploited by Albanian propagandists to devastating effect. If Milosevic has not walked into the KLA trap with his over reacting in Kosovo, there could never have been any global support for Kosovo.
Passivity and learned helplessness blight Serbia
Unlike other Balkan peoples, overseas Serbs had no cohesive lobby and even today the Serbian Diaspora is muted and ineffectual. Overseas Serbs are the key to the future of Serbia not only as returnees, but also as global lobbyists and investors in Serbia (via remittances or bankrolling business opportunities). Are they helping? Not that I can see. Currently many overseas Serbs have a contemptuous attitude to their homeland. Those that consider themselves patriots damage the reputation of the country further by fighting at tennis championships or through online abuse. A major problem is resigned passivity, self-pity and Learned Helplessness.
People refuse to vote out corrupt politicians. They lament “Its Serbia brother”, or plead “What can we do”? The answer is “Plenty”. It may just be pure exhaustion and cynicism but Serbs today do not seem to have the energy to tackle their problems forcefully. People put their faith in “The Russians” or prayer or magic. The situation is aggravated by dreadful and self-serving local politicians and a harmful cultural artefact that can only be described as some sort of Martyr Syndrome, a national self-pity that blocks the nation’s healing and stops Serbs account for what happened to them and for what was done in their name. Serbs should stop being furious with Albanians or Americans and direct their fury at the corrupt political elites who have inflicted disasters on them. The political classes continue to threaten their future with short-termism and political cowardice (i.e. refusing to state publicly what most know and believe, namely that Kosovo is irreversibly lost to Serbia). Until Serbs do something to help themselves , and stop wallowing in self-pity (however justified) , they will continue to languish in limbo.
We have amused ourselves to death
Kosovo has taught us that you do not need an army or nuclear missiles, you only need to fool those who do into taking your side. Neil Postman’s worst nightmare has come to pass. The infotainment industry now drives the world.
I think it may actually be worse, way worse and that William S. Burroughs is right:
“We have a new type of rule now. Not one man rule, or rule of aristocracy, or plutocracy, but of small groups elevated to positions of absolute power by random pressures and subject to political and economic factors that leave little room for decision. They are representatives of abstract forces who’ve reached power through surrender of self. The iron-willed dictator is a thing of the past. There will be no more Stalins, no more Hitlers. The rulers of this most insecure of all worlds are rulers by accident inept, frightened pilots at the controls of a vast machine they cannot understand, calling in experts to tell them which buttons to push” – William S. Burroughs
“Free-wife: Right to have children and to sexual pleasure from male ejaculation important; must give permission for coitus interruptus.
Slave-Wife: No right to children or to sexual pleasure from male ejaculation; no permission needed.”
Interesting browseable database of contemporary Leftist notables and their crackpot beliefs. A bit like an online version of Laird Wilcox’s comprehensive “Guide to the American Left”.
From Little Green Footballs:
Religious Education students in Britain must now include the letters “pbuh” (“peace be upon him”) in parentheses every time they write the name of Mohammed, according to teacher David Holford.
New update (no. 14) from one of my favourite journalists, Kenan Malik:
From ‘Are Muslims Hated?’, 30 Minutes, Channel 4, 8 January 2005
‘ “You’re an Islamophobe” they shout at anyone who does not give Islam due respect. But why should I respect Islam? Why shouldn’t I be able to say I despise or detest the religion and its often misogynist, homophobic and reactionary practices? Isn’t that part of democratic debate?
From ‘What Hate?’, The Guardian, 7 January 2005
‘I’m the kind of person whom you might expect to join this chorus. I’ve been an anti-racist all my life. I opposed the war on Iraq. I think that Britain’s anti-terror laws are an affront to democracy. But I also think that Islamophobia is a myth – at least in the way that most people conceive of it. There is clearly ignorance and fear of Islam in this country. Muslims do get harassed and attacked because of their faith. Yet I believe that the hatred and abuse of Muslims is being exaggerated to suit politicians’ needs and silence the critics of Islam.’
From my debate with Sir Bernard Crick, JCWI Bulletin, Winter 2004 / 2005
‘If we are serious about integration, then, we need to start thinking not so much about immigration or citizenship ceremonies but more about how to challenge the politics of identity and to give new political meaning to the language of civic universalism. After all, there seems little point in having citizenship ceremonies to ease immigrants into the club when no one seems to know what the club stands for in the first place.’
From ‘Catch them young?’, Analysis, BBC Radio 4, 26 August 2004
‘As a parent I fuss and fret over my child and worry incessantly about her future. That’s inevitable. It’s unhealthy, though, for society to do the same. Certainly, the first years of a child’s life are important. And certainly we need a rational childcare and education policy, which encompasses the needs of children, parents and society as a whole. But there is no evidence that the first years of life indelibly shape an individual’s future. Let’s not make believe that we can solve society’s problems just by catching them young.’
From ‘Who owns culture?’, Analysis, BBC Radio 4, 29 July 2004
‘In one current court case in Australia, Aborigines are demanding that the national airline Quantas stop using the kangaroo logo as it’s an Aboriginal symbol. In another case, they are seeking copyright over all photographs and paintings of the Australian landscape which they say is central to their spiritual life. Where will this end? Must the British government approve every production of King Lear and Othello? Should only Jamaicans be able to play reggae?’
Now he knows what it is like to be a father denied access to his child by a scheming, ruthless and unprincipled woman who will happily destroy his career to deny a man his human right he has to share his child’s life.
Whilst carrying out her vicious and obviously malicious attack, she still managed to get get public sympathy.
Some pundits suggested that Blunkett was cruel and somehow unreasonable in asking to be acknowledged as the babies father. They complained that Mrs Quinn is seven months pregnant and that the stress of all the publicity had caused her to be hospitalised and that this was evidence of Blunkett’s callousness and unreasonableness.
What they failed to note was that it was she who had generated the publicity to try stop Blunkett from demanding his fathers rights. Her plan was simple and obvious:
Feed the press damaging stories about Blunkett to hurt his career so he backs off.
It was she who broke the nanny story which aroused the press packs who have hounds her ever since yet Blunkett got the blame for her ails as though it was he that was generating the controversy and press interest.
The whole affair was deeply unfair.
Thousands of men are denied their rights to share their children’s lives. Public and legal sympathy lies undeservedly with women, many of whom use all manner of horrific tricks (the most common being false claims or abuse) to keep their children away from their fathers.
This is just another high profile sordid example of a common blight affecting father across the world.
Can someone please read Mr Blunkett the number for Father For Justice (01787 281 922), they will be happy to help him.
The BBC story on this is here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/uk_politics/2004/blunkett_resigns/default.stm