Thursday, February 19, 2009

More equal than others

This, from Harry's Place, is more none-too-subtle evidence of a double standard.

. . . have a read of these extracts from a Socialist Worker article from 2005, and see if you can guess which stateless and oppressed nation it describes:

This is a country occupied by a murderous foreign power for decades. A country split apart by a 1,600 mile series of fortified walls backed by soldiers, heavy weaponry and millions of landmines.

A country with 160,000 people living in refugee camps and yearning to return to their homeland.

It is a country where young and old have declared an intifada against their rulers — and where hundreds of UN resolutions which call for justice have been contemptuously ignored.

Still not guessed yet? The language may be familiar but the target might surprise you.

Look here for the answer.

The conclusion: Jews behaving in a certain way, bad: Arabs doing the same, erm well, you don’t understand, you’ve got to see it in context…ah, can I phone a friend? etc etc

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

An ancient prejudice

An article by Howard Jacobson on anti-Semitism is always worth reading, especially when it includes lines like this:

A life spent singing anti-Zionist carols in the company of Ken Livingstone and George Galloway is its own punishment.

Amazing Grace

Can't resist posting this passage from Kathleen Norris' book Amazing Grace. It reminds me of warmer feelings I once had for religious practices.

Not long ago I heard a novice speak of a nun with Alzheimer's in her community, who every day insists on being placed in her wheelchair at the entrance to the monastery's nursing home wing so that she can greet everyone who comes. "She is no longer certain what she is welcoming people to," the younger woman explained, "but hospitality is so deeply ingrained in her that it has become her whole life." Better an old fool welcoming people at the door with her whole heart and soul, Benedict might agree, than a distracted, cold, or officious monk or nun with faculties intact.

Friday, February 06, 2009


Thanks to MadPriest for this:

The right to criticise religion is being slowly doused in acid. Across the world, the small, incremental gains made by secularism ~ giving us the space to doubt and question and make up our own minds ~ are being beaten back by belligerent demands that we “respect” religion. A historic marker has just been passed, showing how far we have been shoved. The UN rapporteur who is supposed to be the global guardian of free speech has had his job rewritten: to put him on the side of the religious censors.

Starting in 1999, a coalition of Islamist tyrants, led by Saudi Arabia, demanded the rules be rewritten. The demand for everyone to be able to think and speak freely failed to “respect” the “unique sensitivities” of the religious, they decided, so they issued an alternative Islamic Declaration of Human Rights. It insisted that you can only speak within “the limits set by the shariah (law). It is not permitted to spread falsehood or disseminate that which involves encouraging abomination or forsaking the Islamic community”.

In other words, you can say anything you like, as long as it precisely what the reactionary mullahs tell you to say. The declaration makes it clear there is no equality for women, gays, non-Muslims, or apostates. It has been backed by the Vatican and a bevy of Christian fundamentalists.

Incredibly, they are succeeding. The UN’s Rapporteur on Human Rights has always been tasked with exposing and shaming those who prevent free speech ~ including the religious. But the Pakistani delegate recently demanded that his job description be changed so he can seek out and condemn “abuses of free expression” including “defamation of religions and prophets”. The council agreed, so the job has been turned on its head. Instead of condemning the people who wanted to murder Salman Rushdie, they will be condemning Salman Rushdie himself.

Anything which can be deemed “religious” is no longer allowed to be a subject of discussion at the UN ~ and almost everything is deemed religious. Roy Brown of the International Humanist and Ethical Union has tried to raise topics like the stoning of women accused of adultery or child marriage. The Egyptian delegate stood up to announce discussion of shariah “will not happen” and “Islam will not be crucified in this council” ~ and Brown was ordered to be silent. Of course, the first victims of locking down free speech about Islam with the imprimatur of the UN are ordinary Muslims.

Johann Hari

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Democratic dawn in Iraq

William Shawcross writing in The Guardian gives credit where he thinks it's due.

The weekend's elections in Iraq were a huge success for the Iraqi people. The remarkably peaceful day of voting on Saturday - and the interim results - give good reason to hope Iraq really is on the way to building a decent society.

There will be further setbacks. But who knows, Iraq may yet even become a model for democratic change in other Arab countries. If so, who deserves some credit? The much maligned President Bush. And Tony Blair.

But some of my best friends are Lions

This from the Hamas Covenant:

The Zionist invasion is a cruel invasion, which has no scruples whatsoever; it uses every vicious and vile method to achieve its goals. In its infiltration and espionage operations, it greatly relies on secret organizations which grew out of it, such as the Freemasons, the Rotary Clubs, the Lions and other such espionage groups. All these organizations, covert or overt, work for the interests of Zionism and under its direction, and their aim is to break societies, undermine values, destroy people's honor, create moral degeneration and annihilate Islam. [Zionism] is behind all types of trafficking in drugs and alcohol, so as to make it easier for it to take control and expand.