Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine flu - the BBC does all it can to calm the situation



As the EU 'warns against swine flu panic', the BBC is doing its bit for Queen and Country by regularly updating its terror inducer, and showing advertisements like that above.

The state broadcaster is a mine of pig flu information, with helpful tabs for the latest news, Q&A, an Outbreak Map, a breakdown by country, the UK situation, and calming, non-panicky pictures.

No-one in the UK died today of pig flu.

But eight people died in road traffic accidents.

Man's life's as cheap as beasts.

Michael Nazir-Alir: 'Don't look to Bishops for moral lead'

Cranmer has been sent a link to this statement by the Bishop of Rochester which appears on Iain Dale's Diary. Mr Dale is not best pleased with Cranmer at the moment, so His Grace is relieved that Mr Dale is finding spiritual succour from the life-giving water of Bishop Michael, a most politically-reliable and theologically-sound alternative.

After a discussion on global capitalism, Mr Dale said: 'I was very impressed by the Bishop of Rochester. In fact, he came out with the quote of the lunch...

If you want a moral lead, don't look to the bishops. I certainly wouldn't.'

And one of Mr Dale's more insightful and discerning communicants adds in the comment thread:

"Always excepting the excellent Cranmer of course!"

Bless him.

The spiritual decline and political fall of the Church of England is rooted in Bishop Michael's observation. The reality is that the moral lead in the UK now comes from the Roman Catholic bishops who also happen to be rather good at attracting and using the media. The archbishops who head each church are now somewhat polarised, and Cranmer is hard pressed to find areas of agreement between Rowan Williams and Vincent Nichols. While the latter ascends to the stratosphere, the former is mired in a religio-political morass of perpetual compromise. The via media has been 'enhanced' with a via sinistra and a via dextra and all roads no longer lead to Rome (though the via dextra might some day soon).

Perhaps Bishop Michael should go into politics?

UPDATE:
Bishop Michael has clarified his words to Church Mouse:

'What I said was that you cannot leave giving a moral lead to the Bishops. The discussion arose because of a remark about something Harold MacMillan had said. I said first that ‘giving a moral lead’ and ‘behaving morally are not the same thing. Some (including bishops) may be called to give a lead, but everyone is expected to behave morally. Secondly, that giving a moral lead should not be left to bishops. I certainly would not leave it to them.

'This is, more or less, what I said to Paddy Ashdown at a pre-election breakfast some years ago. There were two bishops at the lunch giving a moral lead and I am, myself, not known to be unwilling in this respect, however modest my contribution might be.

+Michael Nazir-Ali
30 April 2009'

Swine flu – the pandemic of fear

Here we go again.

The latest terror of the earth.

Eight people die every single day on Britain’s roads – almost 3000 each year. They scarcely make the news. So far, reports conform that seven people have died in Mexico of pig flu (not the 20 or even the 120 which has been widely reported), and one baby in the US. Certainly, there are more confirmed cases (see the regularly-updated BBC terror inducer: as at 4.30pm on 29th April, there were 26 in Mexico, 91 in the US, 13 in Canada, 5 in the UK, 10 in Spain, 3 in Germany, 1 in Austria, 2 in Israel and 3 in New Zealand). But pig flu in these people is manifest as normal fly-like symptoms, and there is absolutely no inevitability of death: this is not bubonic plague.

Yet the World Health Organisation is talking the panic up. Director General Margaret Chan has urged all countries to activate their pandemic plans with ‘increased urgency’ because ‘it really is the whole of humanity that is under threat’.

One might have hoped the WHO could keep its head when all about are losing theirs.

The BBC has a helpful little diagram to make things comprensible to the mentally deficient. Very helpfully they explain: ‘Swine flu symptoms are similar to those produced by ordinary seasonal flu - fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, chills and fatigue’.

Really useful stuff, that. And in order to keep us all updated with this viral Armageddon, the state broadcaster asks: ‘Have you been affected by swine flu? You can send your experiences using the form below’.

Well, Cranmer has an experience: it is one of tedium with disproportionality and intolerance of state-induced fear.

The problem, as Cranmer has previously pointed out, is that we have been here before. Bird flu was supposed to have wiped out half the planet. Instead, a few thousand turkeys were slaughtered and Bernard Matthews had a lean Christmas. One gets the sense that the developed world simply cannot function without an element of fear and insecurity. And these profound threats to our existence and way of life – acid rain, the ‘Millennium Bug’, mad cow disease or variant CJD, global warming, Islamic terrorism, bird flu, credit crunch, pig flu, Gordon Brown’s departure – are cumulatively being used by governments to pass draconian laws and punitive taxes which really do threaten our way of life.

The rulers of the earth are intent on diminishing our liberty by keeping us shackled to fear. We are in chains to anti-scientific rumour, media distortion and sensationalism. The only pox we have to fear is panic; the only toxin terror. A few pictures of Mexican children going to school wearing surgical masks is designed to induce fear of people, fear of travel, fear of association. A kiss will pass the virus from husband to wife; a cough gives it to a neighbour; a sneeze to a stadium of people. Precaution is common sense. Good hygiene should be encouraged, for we are always waging war against mutating viruses. But there is more to fear from a confirmed pandemic of fear than a suspected pandemic of flu.

And before readers and communicants demand to know the religio-political dimension of this story, Cranmer would like to share that New Zealand's Roman Catholic bishops have issued hygiene recommendations for church services ‘in preparation for a swine flu pandemic’.

In preparation for? The sense of inevitability is depressing. Apparently, the bishops ‘are stopping parishioners receiving communion wafers on the tongue, communion wine from the chalice and from shaking hands at the sign of peace’.

Surely it would be safer and more responsible to encourage them not to attend church at all. Why not cancel Mass?

And this pandemic raises a further religio-political question:

What does a Jew or Muslim do if they get pig flu?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

President Obama – 100 days in office


Cranmer is not remotely inclined to agree with all those circulating rumours of the Right that the sheen has somehow come off the Obama presidency and that his halo has slipped. They are the superficial assertions of lazy journalists; not the considered opinions of astute political observers. With the news that a Republican senator has defected to the Democrats, this is not a presidency with a diminishing aura, but an enduring salvation message of ‘change’ which continues to chime with the American people and with the world.

President Obama’s 100th day in office is being commemorated in New York with the unveiling of ‘The Truth’ – a painting by Michael D'Antuono showing the President wearing a crown of thorns, arms outstretched, parting the veil. It is all distinctly messianic and utterly blasphemous.

There is some discussion about whether he is revealing or concealing, and whether he is being crucified or glorified. But the drapes are clearly hanging drawn above him; they were therefore closed and are now open. And there is no blood, no anguish, no passion; just a slight bashful grin as he turns his head to his good side for the camera. The picture is a glorifying parousia.

The artist calls 'The Truth' a ‘politically, religiously and socially-charged statement on our nation's current political climate and deep partisan divide that is sure to create a dialogue’.

Or division.

In our postmodern, post-Christian, pluralist, relativist world, truth is many-sided, and any attempt to prefix it with the definite article moves politics into the realms of ‘extremist’ religion and immutable dogma. President Obama is certainly a way, imparting a truth about a particular way of life. But the definite articles remain with Christ. There is, of course, nothing new about Barack Obama being hailed as ‘The One’, and this painting follows the sculpture by Matthew J Clark which portrayed the President entering Washington riding on a donkey, preceded by waving palm leaves.

The artist said: "This project was inspired by my thoughts about 'icons' and religious symbols and whether they represent truth or merely represent." He added: “The sculpture poses a question that relates to social conventions, metaphysics, and the collective response of society in reaction to fearful and uncertain times, but doesn't impose an answer. For me, it has much more to do with the general public as followers than any leader granted power."

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan said when President Obama talks ‘the Messiah is absolutely speaking’.

The Nation of Islam clearly does not know much about Islam.

But the President is not doing much to give the glory to God. Indeed, his speeches purposely perpetuate the euphoria, and the scriptural allusions are intrinsic to his message of political salvation. Back in January he said: “...a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany, and you will suddenly realise that you must go to the polls and vote’ Obama.

And so he has become a religious experience. He continues to mesmerise, and there is no indication that he is waning. Obama worship is akin to Diana worship. We do not do it (yet) to our politicians, but there were hints of it in the coming of Blair, and there is now a religio-political longing for Cameron.

Cranmer shall not examine President Obama’s accomplishments or his failings, for they are utterly subsumed to the primacy of personality. Postmodern politics is not about the fulfilment of political policy, but the feeling of politico-spiritual salvation. The advent of Barack Obama is most certainly not the Second Coming of our Saviour and our Redeemer, the Prince of Peace and King of Kings. But neither is he the Antichrist. He is accomplishing the political equivalent of walking on water, feeding the 5000, and making the blind see.

As the Conservative Party learns to interpret the signs of the times, its hour approacheth nigh.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dan Hannan can never serve on the Conservative front bench



Cranmer exhorts his readers and communicants to watch the above video, sent courtesy of Tory Bear, in which Daniel Hannan MEP makes a most excellent speech to the gathered faithful at the Conservative Party’s Spring Conference in Cheltenham.

He may speak from the prestigious conference platform, but he will never serve on the Conservative front bench. This is the unalterable judgement of David Cameron as punishment for Mr Hannan’s membership of ‘Better Off Out’, which is, of course, an ideological heresy.

Why is a talented politician of learning, knowledge, conviction, eloquence, passion, charisma and such a love of Shakespeare able to address a Conservative Party conference, and yet is barred in perpetuity from serving on the Conservative front bench simply by virtue of his membership of a club which happens to believe that the UK is better off out of the EU; a view, incidentally, which is shared by the majority of members of the Conservative Party if not the majority of the population of the country?

In what sense are we ‘better off in’ the euro, the EPP, the CAP, the CFP, the Lisbon Treaty, the ECHR?

Yet Conservative politicians who defy the (present) Party line in their articulation of this pro-EU dogma do so with impunity.

While Mr Hannan is (amongst others) inexplicably and unjustly exiled in perpetuity.

Unless, of course, as Plato observed, the political conference is just pure sophistry. And ‘ever closer union’ is really the covert orthodoxy.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Could Tony Blair endorse David Cameron?

Tony Blair was always a multi-directional ‘weather-vane’ rather than a ‘sign-post’ conviction politician. He tended to bend with the capricious winds of public opinion rather than expound ideology or rigorously apply doctrine. But he has always managed to walk on water, no matter what gnashing teeth from beneath were intent on drowning him, and he had the luck of the Devil in the timing of his departure. His political career has been a triumph (and, with the his imminent coronation as President of Europe, it is not yet over). He is possessed of more political lives than a cat, and has manifest more religio-political incarnations than Krishna.

For a politician, there is perhaps nothing worse than being tarnished with corruption, sleaze or political failure. Although John Major was personally the epitome of decency and propriety, his name has become synonymous with such terms of detraction. Not so Tony Blair. He swam like a fish through policy failures, EU tensions, civil war with Gordon Brown, clashes with ministers, party funding scandals, ‘cash for peerages’, Iraq, dodgy dossiers, etc., etc. If New Labour failed to live up to his promise that they would be ‘whiter than white’ in government, the perception of Mr Blair remains that he is a decent, honourable and sincere man. It is difficult to forget that, when Mr Blair stood down as prime minister, David Cameron led the House of Commons in rapturous applause of admiration.

While President George W Bush was on the ascendancy, Mr Blair was his political soul-mate. When President Obama descended from the clouds in a fiery chariot, Mr Blair was on the Mount of Olives to wave his palm branches. Rather like The Sun, Tony Blair likes to be on the winning side, not only in order that he might bask in a little reflected glory, but also that he might take a little credit for the victory, and remain on self-serving good terms with the victor: ‘It was Tony Blair what won it’.

David Cameron rightly eschews the ‘heir to Blair’ epithet. But the Leader of the Opposition has pledged to scrap the new 50 pence income tax band; he wants schools and academies liberated from local authority control; and he supports foundation hospitals free of Whitehall interference. On these key issues Mr Cameron is quite literally the heir to Blair in ways that Gordon Brown manifestly is not.

While he was Chancellor, Gordon Brown limited the powers of foundation hospitals to borrow money, thereby preventing real reform. He has always been sceptical of academies, and shunted Lord Adonis off to the thankless wastelands of Transport with unseemly haste; and with the introduction of a 50 pence income tax band, he has rejected his predecessor’s ‘Third Way’ ideology and reneged on a key manifesto pledge, effectively euthanising the New Labour project.

David Cameron has been ‘wooing’ Tony Blair’s inner circle for quite some time, assuring them of a warm embrace in his Conservative Party. Indeed, he has publicly said that Lord Adonis ‘has been a force for good in education policy’. And now David Cameron is planning to extend Mr Blair’s academy programme to the primary sector. The Leader of the Opposition has also praised Alan Milburn for making some ‘very sensible’ comments on reforming public services, and has expressed admiration for the intellectual arguments of Stephen Byers in favour of introducing more choice and private sector involvement in public services.

It has been clear for more than a decade that Tony Blair despises Gordon Brown. He views him as a tantrum-throwing child in need of constant monitoring and careful psychological handling. The former prime minister is reported to have expressed his ‘despair’ and total opposition to the new 50 pence tax rate for people earning over £150,000. An unnamed friend of Mr Blair said: “He believes taking 50 per cent is not acceptable. It would not have happened if he was still there. He thinks it's a terrible mistake.” And apparently, Mr Blair said he would ‘not be surprised’ if MPs were planning to move against Mr Brown, observing that Labour’s chances of electoral victory ‘could still be improved if Gordon were replaced’.

But what if Gordon Brown were not replaced? How could he be without an immediate general election? The country would hardly accept two unelected prime ministers in quick succession. If Labour reverts to type and rediscovers its dogma of the Left and begins once again to chant its Socialist mantras, might Tony Blair’s infallible weather-vane and his acute political antennae incline him to support the man who shall indeed be the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Should Iain Dale be expelled from the Conservative Party?


Cranmer would first like to say that he likes and admires Mr Dale a very great deal; he wishes him no ill and means him no offence by what follows. It is simply that His Grace is a little puzzled by the somewhat variable and inconsistent application of the Conservative Party’s rules and regulations, and observes an apparent hypocrisy in Mr Dale's political morality which is worthy of scrutiny.

The professorial, politically-astute, philanthropic and mild-mannered Stuart Wheeler was ejected from the Conservative Party for donating a paltry £100,000 to UKIP (which just about covers four MPs’ second homes for one year). He did not defect; he simply expressed a little modest (to him) support for UKIP because he considers the UK's relations with the EU to be of paramount importance. And no doubt thousands of Conservatives shall be doing exactly the same on June 4th as they 'lend' their votes on a point of political principle.

Yet Iain Dale was among the first (if not the first) to call for the expulsion of Mr Wheeler despite his having previously donated £5 million to Conservative coffers, and despite his continuing to urge the electorate to vote Conservative at the next general election. Few would doubt that Mr Wheeler has done more cumulative good than harm to the Conservative cause. But he had to go, Mr Dale insisted, because he was a ‘menace’ and ‘needed a regular fix of publicity’ and ‘delights popping up on the Today programme’ to spread ‘his unique brand of political mischief’ (transgressions of which Mr Dale has doubtless not infrequently been accused by some of his own detractors).

Mr Dale explained: ‘You can't have people like (Stuart Wheeler) recommending people to vote for another party on 4 June, and then proceed to welcome him back on the 5th. If I now wrote a blogpost urging Tories to vote UKIP, do you have any doubt that I would be expelled? And I'd deserve to be.’

But an advertisement is worth a thousand blog posts: the effects and impact of the visual media are far greater than the written. It is, after all, how Mr Dale is able to earn money from his blog.

The Conservative Party membership card quotes from the Party’s constitution: "Membership of the Conservative Party is not compatible with membership of, or association with, any other registered political party."

If Stuart Wheeler's actions constitute ‘association with’ another registered political party, and thus a breach of the conditions of Party membership, then so must Mr Dale’s promotion of other registered political parties upon his blog.

Consider the screen-print above. Mr Dale is clearly using his blog - his private property in exactly the same fashion as Mr Wheeler's £100,000 - to urge his readers, which are legion, to vote for another party - a party which has the potential to do damage to the Conservative Party, and from which Cranmer has exhorted his readers and communicants to resile. Further, Cranmer has also recently seen advertisements for ‘Jury Team’ upon Mr Dale’s influential blog, and also recalls some months ago seeing advertisements which sold the wares or promoted the personalities of New Labour.

But Cranmer has no problem with the selling of books or the promoting of political biography: the issue here is one of political campaigning. Iain Dale's Diary reaches more ‘unique visitors’ in a single month than Stuart Wheeler has met in his entire lifetime. In terms of campaigning influence and the potential to affect an electoral outcome, it is a political colossus. Mr Wheeler was an obscure back-room operator whose donation to UKIP will have a negligible (if any) effect on people’s voting intentions.

Shedule 7, article 3.5 of the Conservative Party’s constitution states: ‘The Officers of the Association may move before the Executive Council the suspension or termination of membership of the Association of any member whose declared opinions or conduct shall, in their judgement, be inconsistent with the objects or financial well-being of the Association or be likely to bring the Party into disrepute. Similarly, the Officers may move the refusal of membership of the Association for the same reasons. Following such a motion, the Executive Council may by a majority vote suspend, terminate or refuse membership for the same reason.

Mr Dale can probably not censor or control these political advertisements, for they are either part-and-parcel of his contract with GoogleAds or are fed uncontrollably by the ubiquitous MessageSpace. But Mr Wheeler's donation to UKIP was on a point of political principle; Mr Dale has sold the political soul of his blog to (inter alia) Libertas simply to profit by a couple of hundred (?) pounds. He thereby promotes the Conservative Party’s political opponents for personal financial gain and is consequently manifestly (if indirectly) ‘in association with’ those whose objectives are ‘inconsistent with the objects or financial well-being’ of the Conservative Party.

Consider what fate might befall an ordinary Conservative Party member who erected a ‘Vote LibDem’ sign in his front garden, or sported a ‘Vote Labour’ sticker on his car, or a ‘Vote UKIP’ pin in his lapel. As Mr Dale suggests would be the case were he to write a blog post urging people to vote UKIP, such treachery would be 'inconsistent with the objects' of the Party and would not be tolerated. CCHQ or a local Association would have grounds for expulsion.

The Libertas advertisement is not merely urging people to vote Libertas (which would be bad enough); Mr Dale is permitting his private property to be used to urge his readers to join a rival political party, which is a rather more long-term commitment. Declan Ganley is manifestly in this for the long haul.

Iain Dale has effectively erected a flashing neon ‘Vote Libertas’ sign very prominently in his front garden, through which a quarter of a million voters pass every month. This may be interspersed with villas in Andalucia, and it may not matter so much during the course of an apolitical year, but we are in the middle of a very important campaign and elections to the European Parliament are a mere month away. These elections have the potential to reduce Labour to a humiliating fourth poll position, thereby euthanising New Labour or terminating Gordon Brown's premiership altogether. The Conservative Party needs every vote it can get.

Would Mr Dale be content to urge his readers to 'Vote Labour' on the run-up to a general election? Would he accept advertisements which said 'Gordon Brown for Prime Minister'? This, surely, would be anathema to him (and, indeed, anathematise him from the Conservative Party). Yet if it be, why are these Libertas advertisements acceptable now?

Donating £100,000 to UKIP is quite possibly worth a good deal less (politically) to that party than an advertisement on Iain Dale’s Diary is worth to Libertas. It is inconceivable that Stephan Shakespeare would agree to such advertisements on ConservativeHome.

Perhaps CCHQ or the local Executive in Tunbridge Wells might look into Mr Dale’s ‘association’ with this group.

Or perhaps Cranmer might humbly request that Mr Dale might explain why the sauce which cooked Stuart Wheeler’s goose is not good enough for the gander?

UPDATE:
Cranmer has received a missive from the renowned Guido Fawkes, who points out that Mr Dale has in the past carried advertisements for Ken Livingstone's mayoral campaign (while Mr Dale naturally supported Boris) and also for the Liberal Democrats. Mr Fawkes suggested that His Grace was unable to distinguish between an advertisement and an endorsement.

This is not so. The erection of a sign in one's front garden is a de facto endorsement. Would Mr Dale be content to host an advertisement from the democratic and legally-constituted BNP? Presumably not. But if not, why not? If this advertisement for Libertas is a straightforward exchange of goods, surely the BNP's money is as good as that of Libertas? Cranmer's objection is simply that he happens to believe that politics is (frequently quite literally) a matter of life and death in the temporal realm. A Conservative blog should therefore no more carry an advertisement for one's political opponents any more than one would expect The Catholic Herald, being concerned with issues of salvation in the spiritual realm, to carry an advertisement from 'bigoted Protestant extremists' whose erroneous soteriology leads unsuspecting souls to eternal damnation.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ann Widdecombe should be elevated to the House of Lords


There has been a bit of a debate at ConservativeHome as to whether the Rt Hon Ann Widdecombe, who retires at the end of this Parilament, should be elevated to the Lords. There were, unsurprisingly, strong views expressed on both sides. Those opposing were legion: she is opposed to abortion and is therefore a 'Catholic extremist'; in an era of gay rights and moral relativism, 'Cameron will not want a social conservative'; she favours the ban on hunting with hounds and therefore out of sorts with the traditions of her own party; she criticises her own party and is therefore disloyal; 'what she did to Michael Howard was unforgivably dishonourable'; she is not a team player; she is incongruent with 'modern caring Conservatism'; and she is 'the rudest person I ever came across'.

Yet the ConHome readers endorsed the nomination with 72% in favour and just 19% against. And the reasons they give for supporting her include her conviction; her dedication to her faith; her untiring work for the Party; her preparedness to confront the zeitgeist; her tenacity; she has integrity and principles (unlike many); she is credible; her fearlessness; her moral worldview; and she 'enriches public life'.

His Grace had this to say:

Of course Ann Widdecombe should be elevated to the Lords - if only to hear her confront a few bishops.

If Conservatism is to remain a 'broad church', then space must be found for Baroness Widdecombe. If that church is to become insular and narrow, one alienates either the conservative wing or the liberal wing and ends up with a dismembered body of political extremists of one faction or the other. It is, after all, possible to be a fundamentalist relativist liberal.

The Conservative Party has been forever changing and never dogmatic. It is for that reason that its relationship with the Church of England has endured. If the Conservative Party is to continue to speak to every constituency of the United Kingdom, it must perpetuate its own via media. This is not a fudged compromise; it is the reality of living in a pluralist liberal democracy in which one has to be all things to all people.

Baroness Widdecombe articulates for 'middle England'. Alienate those, and the Conservative Party ceases to be anything.

‘The God Who Wasn’t There’ – incitement to religious hatred?



Cranmer has seen this film advertised on a number of websites. It boasts:

'Bowling for Columbine' did it to the gun culture.
'Super Size Me' did it to fast food.
Now 'The God Who Wasn't There' does it to religion.

The documentary 'irreverently lays out the case that Jesus Christ never existed'. Apparently, viewers will discover:

1) The early founders of Christianity seem wholly unaware of the idea of a human Jesus

2) The Jesus of the Gospels bears a striking resemblance to other ancient heroes and the figureheads of pagan savior cults

3) Contemporary Christians are largely ignorant of the origins of their religion

4) Fundamentalism is as strong today as it ever has been, with an alarming 44% of Americans believing that Jesus will return to earth in their lifetimes

The makers do not say precisely how viewers will 'discover' these things, but Cranmer is quite certain it shall not be by burning bush or stone tablet. Assertions 1, 2 a 4 are nothing new; they imperil not one jot or tittle of the New Testament revelation. Anyone with the most cursory knowledge of the early ecumenical councils will know of the fierce debates which took place on the humanity and divinity of Christ: the Creeds of the Church did not come from nowhere. And assertion 3 is wholly accurate; this film is merely a further embodiment of that very ignorance.

The God Who Wasn't There apparently 'pulls no punches', and presents an abundance of 'proof' from sundry atheists including Richard Dawkins. These amount to no punches at all. The film is directed by 'award-winning filmmaker (and former Christian) Brian Flemming'. It is good that Mr Flemming won the egg and spoon race while he was at school, but there is no indication of him having ever won anything remotely credible in the world of cinematography.

But the Los Angeles Times says the film is 'provocative - to put it mildly'.

So Cranmer would like to know if this falls foul of the UN's resultion to protect religions from defamation. Surely such a resolution cannot only apply to Islam?

The language of the resolution is expressed in diplomatic fog, but the intent is perfectly clear. It speaks of recognising 'the valuable contribution of all religions to modern civilization and the contribution that dialogue among civilisations can make towards improved awareness and understanding of the common values shared by all humankind'. The resolution then goes on to express concern 'that defamation of religions, and incitement to religious hatred in general, could lead to social disharmony and violations of human rights'. It talks of being 'alarmed at the inaction of some States to combat this burgeoning trend and the resulting discriminatory practices against adherents of certain religions and in this context stressing the need to effectively combat defamation of all religions and incitement to religious hatred in general and against Islam and Muslims in particular'.

So if 'The God Who Wasn't There' does not fall foul of this resolution, would a documentary which critically examines the foundations of Islam? If such a film were to be made which expounds Islam's origins in pagan moon worship, and critiques the life and claims of Mohammed, would the UN judge it to be 'defamation' and an incitement to 'religious hatred'? Would one be permitted to advertise it with impunity?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Labour's shameful betrayal of the Gurkhas



Cranmer has received a missive from an erstwhile Labour supporter on the matter of the Government's shameful treatment of the Gurkhas. He shall comment no further for he agrees with every word (except the bit about being 'by nature and history a Labour supporter'):

Your Grace,

May I humbly bring to your attention the Government announcement regarding the Gurkha soldiers, made today (though I'm pretty sure you will be aware of it already).

Personally, I am by nature and history a Labour supporter. Cutting a long story short, this latest announcement completes my total, unqualified contempt for this government and the final destruction of any remaining allegiance I may have had for that party. I'm no soldier, having neither the brains nor balls for such a vocation, but I can recognise better men (and women) than I, and the armed services in general and the Gurkhas particularly definitely fall in to that category.

These men are prepared to lose their lives, or possibly worse, suffer hideous injury serving this country. This Government, already treating UK members of the armed forces in a thoroughly cynical manner, have devised yet another morally bankrupt policy calculated to offer the appearance of doing the right thing, while in practice denying these soldiers their obvious right to live in the country they have defended.

I would like to think that Phil Woolas and his colleagues are having trouble sleeping at night, knowing they have behaved in a thoroughly disgusting manner. In truth I suspect they spend a brief minute asking themselves 'did I get away with it?' before enjoying a serene rest in the comfort they so complacently deny those who truly deserve it. They are completely without honour, but are unable to recognise that fact since they have no understanding of the concept.

I should be very interested to know your Grace's view on the matter.

Regards,

Tony Blair calls for Holy War against Islamism


He did not use the phrase ‘Holy War’, but it is difficult to see how otherwise this self-appointed prophet and crusading born-again Roman Catholic believes his words will be interpreted by those ‘religious extremists’ to whom his speech was addressed. The problem he shall find is that the Islamism (‘an extreme and misguided form of Islam’) which has been so designated and formally recognised in the West out of the category-obsessed confines of modernity is what many in the (Middle) East might define as orthodox Islam. Cranmer assures Mr Blair that to declare war against ‘Islamic extremists’ will be interpreted in at least three corners of the Islamic world as a declaration of war against Islam. It is political posturing and crass diplomacy, and hardly a worthy proclamation from a Faith Foundation which purports to prioritise the pursuit of peace.

If Durban II established anything, it was to codify the emerging Islamist ‘New World Order’; to make overt the religio-political objective of imposing non-democratic and illiberal values on the West. According to Flemming Rose, editor of Jyllands-Posten, Denmark's largest-circulation newspaper, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) member-states are ‘trying to rewrite the rules of human rights and international law in a way that undermines the values of liberty enshrined in the Western canon – including the US Bill of Rights, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights’.

If merely criticising Islam is to be recognised in international law as a form of incitement, there can no longer be freedom of expression.

Tony Blair is a moral interventionist. And that intervention, where necessary, shall be with bombs and bullets. He may not have ‘done God’ while he was prime minister (for fear of being called ‘a nutter’), but by justifying now, from the pulpit of his Faith Foundation, his decisions to invade Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, is to place his struggle (‘Jihad’) in the religio-political realms of ‘Holy War’. His call for battle to be waged against ‘militant Islam’ in the same fashion to that fought against revolutionary Communism is, at best, dangerous hyperbole, and, at worst, an invitation to ‘militant Islam’ to bring the world to the brink of nuclear war after the fashion of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

No doubt President Ahmadinejad shall revel in playing Khrushchev, to the glory of Allah.

Mr Blair is naïve and foolish, and Cranmer wishes the former prime minister would dispense with his Penguin edition of the Qur’an and consult with serious Islamic scholarship. One becomes wise by keeping company with the wise, and these wise shall not always say what one wishes to hear. To appoint the like-minded to one’s advisory board is folly: Mr Blair shall not grasp the theological genius or the importance of the ecclesiastical and liturgical reforms of Pope Benedict XVI by admitting the Lord Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor to his inner sanctum to attempt to explain them. One grasps religious depths and political complexities by inculturation, not contention; by listening, not by lecturing.

No doubt Mr Blair simply believes that the peacemakers shall indeed be blessed, but he conveniently omits to heed the warning of the fate of those who live by the sword. Yet he says: “Our job is simple: it is to support and partner those Muslims who believe deeply in Islam but also who believe in peaceful co-existence, in taking on and defeating the extremists who don't."

Our job is simple?

The man must spend his evenings meditating upon ‘Islam for Idiots’ and his morning devotional must be drawn from ‘Catholicism for Cretins’. If this task be ‘simple’, he must begin by defining what he means by ‘believe deeply in Islam’ (as distinguished from merely believing in Islam, for the ‘deeply’ is ominous), and then examining the nature of the justice of a ‘peaceful co-existence’ in which the kuffar are merely tolerated whilst being eradicated by stealth, but always through the path of peace which lies at the heart of the salaam of Islam.

Mr Blairs ‘doctrine of international community’ may be drawn from the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, but Mr Blair is no Augustine of Hippo or Thomas Aquinas. What became known as the ‘Just War Theory’ is complex, nuanced and profoundly moral: Mr Blair’s crusade is facile, simplistic and relativistic. He sounds increasingly like a divinely-appointed Luke Skywalker against the satatic Islamist forces of Darth Vader. We are no longer in an era in which war is waged against nation states, or even one in which war is formally declared. There is not one movement with an identifiable command and control, but a complex web of politically mutually-exclusive jihadists all linked by religious ideology. If, as Mr Blair says, military intervention is justified not only when a nation's interests are directly engaged but also where there exists a humanitarian crisis or gross oppression of a civilian population, who is to decide the threshold of acceptability of this oppression?

He says: “I still believe that those who oppress and brutalise their citizens are better put out of power than kept in it.”

If it is the oppression of humanity which justifies intervention in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, why does it not for Zimbabwe, North Korea or Iran?

If one is to avoid the perception of being at war with Islam, one ought at least to apply one's international doctrine of 'hard power' consistently, lest one be perceived by the Islamic Islamist world as a religious fanatic or 'Catholic extremist' in the mold of Pope Urban II, or of having an irrationally obsessive gripe against only those countries which happen to contain large numbers of Muslims.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

'Made in England' - the BBC's 'alternative national anthem'


This is Boris out and about in London today, celebrating St George and England's national day. Please enjoy it. Be enthused, uplifted and edified by it. For Cranmer is about to depress and distress you utterly.

Believe it or not, the BBC (ie taxpayers) and the Arts Council of England (ie taxpayers) have forked out for a brand new national anthem for England. Forget 'Land of Hope and Glory', reject 'I Vow to Thee, My Country' and set aside 'Jerusalem'. For the BBC and the Arts Council commissioned Sam Dunkley to compose 'Made in England'.

Here are the truly inspirational lyrics. If anyone can find a link to the performance of this important composition, please let Cranmer know and he shall post it:

New alternative national anthem

I am England, England is inside of me.
I am England, England is what I want her to be,
I am England, I am English, I am England to my core,
And wherever you may find me, you'll find England.
England Forever More!
England, my England, she never lets me down,
Hustle bustle, urban tussle, dancing through the crowds,
Or out in the country, a fresh place for me to breathe,
England my England is always home to me!
Fish and chips in paper, with mushy peas,
Balti chicken, naan bread and onion bhajis,
A cup of tea and toast, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding,
Tastes of our culture, tastes like England to me!
Swing low sweet chariot, God Save The Queen!
Land of hope and glory and of pleasant mountains green,
England's future, past and today live in our minds on St George's Day,
England, England, my country!

Can you believe it?

What a lyrical genius to come up with ‘Fish and chips in paper with mushy peas. Balti chicken with naan bread and onion bhajis.’

This is a requiem to New Labour's New Britain. It is utterly banal.

Cry ‘God for Boris, England and St George!’

With a bit of luck (actually, much fasting, fervent prayer and intense intercession), this will be the last St George’s Day under this appalling Labour government. If St George’s Day 2010 still sees Labour clinging to power for the remaining few weeks, Cranmer shall be tempted to scatter his own ashes to the wind.

With the news that the Mayor of London has fulfilled his promise to hang a portrait of Her Majesty the Queen at City Hall, there is a sense with each passing week that the next Conservative government shall instil a sense of patriotism and redress the UK’s constitutional imbalance by throwing a few crumbs to England. Today, Mayor Johnson is touring the capital city in an open-top bus and on Saturday he shall be promoting a free concert of modern English folk music in Trafalgar Square.

England is worth celebrating and the English should be proud to do so.

St George was not English. Indeed, he was born in (what is now) Turkey and was martyred in Israel (which some prefer to call Palestine). Yet his story is bound up with that of England, for it is a story of a quest for religious liberty. Born of Christian parents during the late third century, George became a soldier – a loyal and successful one – in the army of Emperor Diocletian. When in AD302 the Emperor issued an edict that every Christian soldier in the army should be arrested and every other soldier forced to offer a sacrifice to the Pagan gods, George refused. He was neither going to bow the knee to false idols nor honour religious tyranny. Just as the English were eventually to do, George rejected the notion of ‘Divine Right’ and king worship. He renounced the Emperor’s edict and declared before his fellow soldiers that he was a Christian and would worship only Jesus Christ. Diocletian had George tortured by laceration on a wheel of swords. He was eventually beheaded for his faith, a witness which caused others to convert to Christianity who were themselves martyred for their faith in Jesus.

It is no surprise that such a story should inspire the English who endured centuries of persecution at the hands of their own religious fanatics. And Cranmer surely knows. It is a bloody, messy and murky history. But the settlement came at the beginning of the 18th century, since which time England has been a nation of increasing liberty, and that liberty has been a beacon of light to the modern free world.

As far as Cranmer is concerned, St George’s Day should be a national holiday in honour of all that England has bequeathed to the world. And while His Grace is in a patriotic mood, he wishes it to be known that all public buildings ought to display prominently and permanently a portrait of Her Majesty. All schools, hospitals and town halls ought to make a very public display of affection for and allegiance to the Sovereign Head of State (even if she be a vassal citizen of the European Union). Civic pride must be restored: ‘citizenship’ must be supplanted by an appreciation of such notions as loyalty, allegiance and respect for liberty and the traditions of liberal democracy. In addition, the BBC, as the State broadcaster, financed by a compulsory tithe of Her Majesty’s subjects, ought to reinstate the daily rendering of the National Anthem.

It is not mere coincidence that St George’s Day coincides with the birthday of the world’s greatest poet and playwright.

Go on, Mr Cameron: give a manifesto pledge. Grant the English a day of liberty to honour St George and William Shakespeare. Your victory at the next general election would thereby be assured.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A crucifying budget

Cranmer was going to write about zombies. What else did David Cameron mean when he referred to Labour as the ‘government of the living dead’?

He was hoping to find an outstanding zombification graphic from the excellent Mr Beau Bo D’Or. But he found only the Chancellor of the Exchequer crucified.

There is a problem with this. Unlike ordinary mortals, for whom there is the assurance of resurrection, there is no such hope for the un-dead. Cranmer is no expert on zombies, but he believes them to be finally and utterly extinguished by decapitation or breaking of the neck.

The British people are being financially crucified by this budget. The levels of debt are obscene, and, in the absence of cuts in public spending, the only option is to tax and tax again. We shall be paying for New Labour's economic incompetence for generations to come. The Spectator Observes: 'Even taking inflation into account... the amount that will be borrowed from 2008-09 to 2013-14 is more than the debt this country ran up to win World War One, World War Two and the Napoleonic Wars combined. Where Napoleon, the Kaiser and Hitler could not exhaust our national financial resources, there is a real chance that this Government might do so.'

This was a fundamentally dishonest budget with deceptive forecasts from a delusional Chancellor in damaging denial. There can now be no hope or expectation that Alastair Darling may ever be resurrected, at least politically.

Whether New Labour be cremated or buried six feet under is unimportant. Whether they have an open-air pyre floating down the Thames or a clinical incineration in Hounslow is immaterial. They are dead, undeniably and reliably, not only merely but really and most sincerely.

Aaqil Ahmed – can a Muslim be head of BBC’s religious broadcasting?

In a nation which (according to the last census) is 72 per cent Christian, and which (according to parliamentary statute) has a state broadcaster financed by a compulsory taxation upon this religious majority, is it right and proper that a Muslim (which, according to the last census, constitute two per cent of the nation) might be appointed the BBC’s new head of commissioning for its re-structured Religion & Ethics Department?

When the Religion Editor of The Daily Telegraph reported that Aaqil Ahmed was favourite for this post, all purgatory broke loose.

It wasn’t hell, for that would have been ‘racist’. But it was certainly – how shall Cranmer put it – not received warmly by The Barclay Telegraph. Mr Pitcher (or the Reverend George) is persuaded that this appointment is pivotal and will determine whether or not the BBC ‘takes religion seriously’.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has already met with the corporation’s Director General Mark Thompson, a Roman Catholic, to express his concern that the BBC – the state broadcaster – should not downplay or marginalise Christianity – the state religion.

As the Reverend George observes: Mr Thompson ‘may have taken the view that no prelate was going to dictate the BBC’s religious policy to him and the silly old fool needed to be taught a lesson’. And so Mr Thompson decided to appoint a Muslim to affirm the Archbishop’s support for shari’a law.

Aaqil Ahmed is presently commissioning editor for religion at Channel 4. He is highly qualified, suitably experienced, and by all accounts consummately professional. But the Reverend George states on the one hand that ‘an agnostic or atheist might bring an interesting objectivity to religious broadcasting. And so might a Muslim to Christianity’. But on the other hand he is persuaded Mr Ahmed ‘shouldn’t have the job because I doubt he is up to it’.

The Reverend George is desperate to avoid an accusation of ‘Islamophobia’, and is fence-sitting, like all Anglicans for The Telegraph are compelled to do. He is quite right to observe ‘you don’t have to be a footballer to be a football commentator’, but you certainly have to have a passion for it, to live and breathe it, to believe in it as a worthwhile pursuit. The Reverend George thinks Mr Ahmed should not have the job simply because ‘his work to date seems lightweight’. Some might say that of the Reverend George. He cites the C4 programme ‘Christianity: A History’ as evidence of Mr Ahmed’s religious ineptitude. It was, he asserts, ‘a showcase of dumbed-down religion, a History of Platitudes’.

Cranmer agrees that that particular series was ‘banal’. But he would like to ask his readers and communicants to consider what has become of the BBC’s Christian output while a Christian (Methodist) has led religious broadcasting and while a Christian (Roman Catholic) has been the corporation’s Director General.

The marginalisation of the state religion has been systemic and inexorable. It is not only that ‘Jerry Springer - the Opera’ was broadcast on their watch, but a Sikh was appointed to produce ‘Songs of Praise’, minority faiths are treated more respectfully than that of the majority, an atheist has been appointed to the board which oversees religious output, and the Church of England has been sidelined to the point of irrelevance. The corporation has been guilty of religious cleansing on a scale comparable with that of the Balkans. The BBC’s spiritual war machine has reduced Christianity to a harmless and toothless myth which can do nothing but suck at the pervasive ecumenical pantheism which genuflects ever so slightly to Islam. Under ‘Christian’ leadership, the BBC has become a secular humanist organisation which now propagates its own objective worldview through its own biased history and its own version of truth. It has a self-styled mission to inculcate the ignorant masses with the Gaia spirituality of the New Age, and it has embraced the pseudo-gospel of environmentalism to that end.

If religious broadcasting under ‘Christians’ has become such a secular joke, why should a Muslim not be given a chance to redeem the situation?

He might even prove to be more respectful of Christianity, the Bible and Jesus than the ‘Christians’ have hitherto been. He might feel compelled to make some hard-hitting programmes about the Islamic world – the treatment of Muslim women, the persecution of non-Muslims, the human rights breaches, the destruction of churches, the cleansing of Christians from Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Israel...

With reports that an Aaqil Ahmed ‘dossier’ has been compiled, the contents of which will be disseminated in the event of his appointment, there is more than a hint of anti-Muslim prejudice in some of the reporting on this story. Minority bashing is unacceptable (as unacceptable as minority-favouring). An Asian Muslim is just as capable of making religious programmes about Christianity as a Caucasian Christian is about Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism or the Jedi Knight fraternity.

Why on earth should a Muslim head of commissioning for religion be any more unacceptable that a Roman Catholic director general?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Peter Mandelson to advise on Conservative election strategy

That got your attention. Of course, it is not true. But if it were, would you not think that David Cameron had poor judgement? Or that he had lost his marbles or was intent on bringing about the destruction of the Conservative Party? Or that he had little or no grasp of the meaning of Conservatism, or had simply ceased to believe in it?

Yet it has been announced that an Atheist (and member of the British Humanist Association) is to join the board which advises the BBC on its religious output. Andrew Copson is the BHA’s director of education and public affairs. He will join the new Standing Conference on Religion and Belief, an independent committee chaired by Bishop Graham James, which replaces the Central Religious Advisory Committee. But since one of the BHA’s declared objectives is bring ‘an end to the privileged position of religion’ in public life, the appointment of Mr Copson by the BBC is bemusing. Atheism is not simply another religious option in the free market of spirituality: it is anti-religion; seeking to contend against and eradicate all expression of God from the public sphere.

So what programmes might Mr Copson propose? ‘Self Belief’? ‘The Gospel according to AC Grayling’? ‘Secular Thought for the Day’? ‘Songs of Mind and Body’?

The changes will be subtle, if only because the agenda towards pantheistic spirituality with a hint of Islam is rather more covert. But make no mistake, this Standing Conference will be a cabal of unconvicted fence-sitters and compromised ecumenicals. Except, of course, for the secular humanist, to whom all things are known and all truth has been revealed, and who shall criticise and demean all religions – except one.

This is one anti-discrimination policy the BBC ought to re-consider. If religious broadcasting may not discriminate against those who wish to bring about its demise, they really ought to appoint ill-informed, unintelligible and manifestly partial people to be their political correspondents in (say) Israel or at Westminster.

O, hang on.

This Budget must cut public spending

This is a very dark hour. Not quite our darkest, but certainly one of them. After 12 years of New Labour, once again recession is upon us, unemployment is rising, sterling is devalued and the IMF is knocking at the door.

This budget is not remotely difficult. There is no ‘Golden Rule’ to uphold, no balancing act to perform and no Keynesian complexities to consider. Fiscal imprudence and irresponsible borrowing have led us to ‘bust’.

The expectations are of a ‘scorched earth’ budget – after all, what has the Prime Minister got to lose? Spend more, borrow more, make people feel a little better until the next general election, and if Labour do not win, Mr Cameron shall be left to take all the necessary unpopular decisions to clean up the mess – ‘more Tory cuts’. Cranmer is not going to bother with the phrase ‘moral duty’. Not because the Prime Minister no longer understands the meaning of the concept (if ever he did), but because the talk thread will be choked by those who assert ‘It depends what you mean by “moral”’ or ‘It depends what you mean by “duty”’, and communicants are thereby deflected from the urgency of the matter at hand.

If Labour understand the meaning of stewardship, they will grasp the imperative of bequeathing to the next generation an economy in a better state than that which they themselves inherited. That is moral.

If Labour have any economic sense or any concern for the common good, they must do what Her Majesty’s Opposition are reluctant to do – cut public spending. This budget must clearly and incisively expound the medium and long-term plans for doing so (and they can start with scrapping plans for ID Cards – every penny counts). Borrowing must be reduced. And inflationary pressures must be eradicated, for inflation is theft, and theft is immoral. And then they must simplify the taxation system, because it is grown too cumbersome and expensive to administer. Scale down tax credits; increase personal allowances. And they must trim the fat from the bloated public sector (some of the million non-jobs Mr Blair fabricated). And they must withdraw from the European Union, for it bleeds the nation of almost £60bn per annum.

As Alexander would say – ‘simples’.

But Cranmer shall no doubt soon awake from his dream to discover the shocking and depressing nightmare of the cold reality.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ministers who live by the smear

Cranmer is more than a little intrigued that ministers of state should view the smearing their political opponents as a shameful and clandestine pursuit of the darkness, while ministers of religion regard it as an honourable and edifying pursuit of the light. While the hunt goes on for Labour’s smearer-in-chief (who may or may not be Ed Balls [right]), those within the Church of England (ie Colin Slee [left]) are rather more open about their identities. And they seem to pursue their theological enmities with all the spite and malicious intent of those who pursue their political vendettas.

The Not-So-Very Reverend Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark, has publicly attacked the Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, accusing him of snorting cocaine preaching the gospel, shagging prostitutes being faithful to Scripture, and being mentally imbalanced adhering to Anglican traditions and orthodoxy. Following the Bishop’s boycott of the Lambeth Conference last year and the views he has expressed on such matters as shari’a law, ‘gay blessings’ and the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals, the Dean said that the Bishop’s position is ‘open to some debate’.

Well, the Increasingly-Less Reverend Colin ought to heed the warnings of the Exceedingly Reverend Michael, because the Bishop is supported not only by Evangelicals and orthodox Anglicans, but also by a good many Roman Catholics and quite a few of no professed religious adherence at all. But this is not a question of democratic majorities, but of obedience to Scripture, adherence to Church tradition, and the pursuit of the common good. There is, of course, nothing new in the unvarnished tensions between the traditional and liberal wings of the Church of England, but the Dean’s broadside was inappropriately launched on Easter Sunday in Southwark Cathedral. While worshippers thought they were gathering to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus they witnessed instead the crucifixion of Bishop Michael.

The Not-Remotely Reverend Colin chose the occasion to deride Bishop Michael for being a member of the ‘Puritan fringe’, for establishing a ‘bullying’ and ‘sectarian alternative church’, and for living ‘like a cuckoo' in the 'nest of a generous and accommodating Anglican tradition'. These are precisely the sorts of smears and innuendos favoured by Labour’s attack dogs and deployed to destroy some of the most able people within the Labour Party. And while this testosterone-soaked approach worked for Gordon Brown for 12 years, it now shows his party to be riddled with scandal, corruption and division.

One expects no mercy in political assassination. Whenever Gordon Brown’s orthodoxy was challenged or his character crossed, rumours were planted in various gossipy diary columns which questioned the ‘mental stability’ of the offender. It is a dark pursuit, and the human cost is concealed. The victim has no chance of a riposte, for to do so would be to manifest the precise delusional paranoia from which one is rumoured to suffer.

Accusations of ‘sectarianism’, ‘extremism’ or ‘bigotry’ are the favoured insults of those who wish to dismiss Anglican orthodoxy but have neither the intellectual capacity nor the theological learning to engage with the issues. And neither do they appear to possess the spiritual integrity nor the Christian generosity to express their views with humility and love.

The Bishop of Rochester declined to be drawn on the Dean’s comments. He said: "I have said what I want to do and they have nothing to do with these issues at all. The Dean has a right to say what he feels, I am sure about that."

Is it not interesting that professing Christians who seek to silence views with which they happen to disagree by hurling puerile insults are invariably the ones who manifest the very ‘sectarianism’ ‘bigotry’ and ‘intolerance’ they project upon their supposed adversaries?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Geert Wilders – On Liberty (and the sequel to ‘Fitna’)


This speech is worth listening to. It was made during Geert Wilders’ recent visit to the United States of America (which Mr Wilders was permitted to enter, unlike the UK, to the Prime Minister's great shame). Mr Wilders was speaking in Beverly Hills, California, at the behest of the David Horowitz Freedom Centre.

Rumour has it that Mr Wilders has secured ‘Hollywood backing’ for a sequel to Fitna. Cranmer is unsure of the meaning of ‘Hollywood backing’, but anything which might improve on the quality (cinematography, script, score, direction, production, distribution – the lot) of Fitna is to be welcomed.

The new film is to focus on the threat to free speech of mass Muslim immigration and the ‘Islamisation' of Europe and the United States. It is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2010.

Geert Wilders leads the Freedom Party PVV in the Dutch Parliament, and is presently awaiting trial for his ‘anti-Islamic’ views. Significantly, recent opinion polls show that if an election were to be held in the Netherlands now, the PVV would become the largest party, ahead of coalition government parties the Christian Democrat CDA and Labour PvdA.

This might have interesting effects on the forthcoming elections to the ‘European Parliament’ in June.

For those who prefer to read rather than listen, here is the text of the speech:

Ladies and gentlemen.

It is really great to be here in California. It is very kind of you to give me the opportunity to escape from the wind, cold and rain in my own beautiful country, the Netherlands. I thank the David Horowitz Freedom Center for inviting me.

Ladies and gentlemen, free speech is no longer a given in Europe. What we once considered a natural element of our existence, our birth right, is now something we once again have to battle for. To exercise free speech has become a dangerous activity.

As you may know, I will be prosecuted in the Netherlands, because of my short documentary Fitna and my view concerning what some call ‘a religion of peace’. On top of that, also France and Jordan are considering to prosecute me for my view on Islam and the United Kingdom government did not allow me to enter their country. And the President of Indonesia declared that I will never be allowed to enter Indonesia as long as I live.

So a special thanks to the United States border police for letting me enter this country. It feels good to be allowed entering a country once in a while.

But ladies and gentlemen, before I talk about freedom of speech, I will say a few things about Islam and Sharia law first.

Allow me to give you a brief introduction to Islam, an Islam 101. The first thing everyone needs to know about Islam is the importance of the Koran. As you probably know the Koran calls for submission, hatred, violence, murder, terrorism and war. The Koran calls upon Muslims to kill non-Muslims. The Koran describes Jews as monkeys and pigs. The biggest problem is that the Koran is to be considered as Allah’s personal word, with orders that need to be fulfilled regardless of place or time. That’s the reason why the Koran is not open to discussion or interpretation. It is valid for every Muslim and for all times. Therefore, there is no such thing as moderate Islam. Sure, there are a lot of moderate Muslims, but a moderate Islam does not exist. As the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan once said: “There is no moderate Islam, Islam is Islam”. For once I have to agree with this islamist Turkish Prime Minister.

And let it be clear to anyone: I have no problem with Muslims, my fight is not against any person or group of persons. However, I have enormous problems with the dangerous and violent Islamic ideology.

The second thing everyone needs to know about Islam is the importance of the prophet Muhammad. His behavior is an example to all Muslims and cannot be criticized. Well let me tell you the truth about this so called prophet anyway. Muhammad was a warlord, a conqueror, a pedophile and a mass murderer. Islamic tradition tells us how he married and consumed the young girl Aisha long before she was ten years of age and how he fought in battles, how he murdered his enemies, how he slaughtered the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza. For millions of Muslims the Koran and the life of Muhammad are not ancient history but an inspiration. And if you critisize either the Koran or the Prophet or Islam as such, you better be prepared to face the consequences. You will receive death threats from all over the world and will be taken to court all over the world. Your national flag will be burned and your embassies might be set on fire, your country could face economical boycotts and the political leaders of your own home country will not support you but appease Muslims and Muslim governments, join them in their political correct outrage and label you as a radical or xenophobe. When criticism becomes unpleasant freedom of speech has to take another lane.

About Islam. Let no one fool you about Islam being just a religion. Sure, it has its God – Allah – a holy book - the Koran -, temples - mosques - and even a here-after. If you murder enough Jews you might even get 72 virgins. But in its essence Islam is a political ideology and a totalitarian ideology. It is a system that lays down detailed rules for society and the life of every man and woman. Islam wants to dictate every aspect of life and society and prohibits individual, political and religious rights and freedoms. Islam is not compatible with our Western civilization or democracy, nor will it ever be, because Islam doesn’t want to coexist, it wants to submit and set the entire agenda. Islam means submission from muslims over non-Muslims - kafirs - like you and me, so there cannot be any mistake about its goal. Islam’s end goal, for all time, is to dominate, to dominate and once again dominate and establish a world ruled by Islam.

That, ladies and gentlemen, that is why Winston Churchill compared the Koran to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf as the famous Italian writer Orianna Fallaci did and why the brave Californian psychiatrist Dr. Wafa Sultan rightfully said about the clash between the West and Islam that it is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between rationality and barbarity.

As you know, the current Islamization of Europe is not an invasion like those we have seen in the past. This time it is not a military invasion with swords, this time we have to deal with a stealth invasion. Nowadays, the armies are replaced by cultural relativism and mass-immigration. It is this dangerous cocktail that is the main cause of the Islamization and is responsible for the introduction of Sharia law in Europe.

As you know, Sharia is Islamic law, effective in barbaric countries such as Saudi-Arabia and Iran. Beheadings, hangings, chopping off hands and feet, stoning to death, lashings, it all happens because Sharia law prescribes it. Now, radical Muslims want to implement Sharia law into our Western societies. And they are very successful in doing so, helped by the Western cultural relativists – the ‘useful idiots’, as former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin described the unknowingly who helped his cause. In my favorite country Britain, Sharia courts are now officially part of the legal system. Very few people over here are aware of that. They have been empowered to adjudicate on financial disputes, divorces and domestic violence. And there are much more examples of the rising of Sharia in Europe: Halal food is served in many schools and universities, more women every day are forces to wear the burqa or niqaab, Islamic banks are mushrooming and polygamy, female genital mutilation, honor killings and Muslim men who refuse to shake women hands are all part of 2009-Europe.

A few weeks ago a British Muslim leader told of his vision of Britain under Sharia law. According to the British Evening Standard Anjem Choudary wants a pure Islamic state with Sharia law in Britain, ‘the flag of Allah’ flying over Downing Street. Ladies and gentlemen, this would mean the end of our precious liberties even though with Gordon Brown in office one might not easily see the difference.

Sharia means the end of our hard won freedom, for Sharia law denies the equality of men and women and Muslims and non-Muslims, it does not allow Muslims to leave Islam, renegades, apostates must be killed according to Islam as you know. Sharia advocates slavery and does not recognize democracy. As a matter of fact sharia is exactly the opposite of democracy.

Unfortunately, among European Muslims the support for this creeping Sharia law is substantial. Last year the British Center for Social Cohesion released a survey held under British Muslim students. Some outcomes were horrifying: 32 percent said killing in the name of religion can be justified and 40 percent supported the introduction of Sharia law into British law.

But please be aware, also the USA is in the process of Islamization. There are numerous examples. For instance: Muslim cab drivers who refuse to transport passengers possessing alcohol or guide dogs. Muslim students demanding separate housing on campus, and separate hours for Muslim women in gyms and swimming pools. USA journalist who self-censor themselves afraid of being sewed and taken to court.
As I said, these Muslims are aided by present-day ‘useful idiots’. A classic example is the former Dutch Attorney General, Mr. Donner. After Dutch film maker and Islam criticaster Theo van Gogh was murdered by a Jihadist in the streets of Amsterdam, he was of the opinion that blasphemy should no longer be a dead letter, and a few years later he even said the Netherlands should introduce Sharia law if a two third majority would support it.

Fortunately some politicians are not giving in. Former Republican US Congressman Tom Tancredo is one of those heroes. Last year he introduced his counter-Sharia ‘Jihad Prevention Act’. This bill would bar the entry of people who advocate Sharia law. This is exactly what the West needs: Brave leaders who have the courage to do something against the growing Islamization.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have to stop the Islamization of the West. Because if we don’t, we will roll back centuries, it will mean the end of our civilization. If we don’t act now, we will betray our Western values, we will lose our culture, we will lose our democracy and we will lose the dearest of our many liberties: the right to speak our mind.

The biggest disease of Europe today is cultural relativism. The fault concept of political correct liberals that all cultures are equal. Well let me tell you: they are not. Our Western culture based on Christianity, Judaism and humanism is far better than the barbaric Islamic culture.

Let me also tell you that Israel is one of us. The jihad against Israel is a jihad against the entire West. Its not a territorial dispute and the Islamic jihad will not stop after territorial concessions. We all should support Israel, the only democracy in the entire Middle East.

Unfortunately, as I stated in the beginning of my short lecture, free speech already is no longer a given in Europe.

Last February, I tried to visit Britain, a fellow EU country. I was invited to give a speech in the House of Lords. However, upon arrival at Heathrow airport, I was refused entry into the UK, and sent back to the Netherlands. I would have liked to be able to remind the audience of a great man who once spoke in the British House of Commons. In 1982 President Ronald Reagan – former Governor of this great state, California – gave a speech that very few Europeans appreciated. Reagan called upon the West to reject communism and defend freedom. He introduced a new phrase: ‘evil empire’. Reagan’s speech stands out as a clarion call to preserve our liberties. I quote: “If history teaches anything, it teaches self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly”. What Reagan meant is that you cannot run away from history, you cannot escape the dangers of ideologies that are out to destroy you. Denial is not an option.

Just like the British ban, the decision of the Amsterdam Court of Appeals to prosecute me for Fitna and my views on Islam, is a major blow dealt to freedom of speech in Europe. They are full-fledged attacks on freedom of speech in order to appease Muslims. Both are major victories for Islam and for all who hate freedom of speech.

Whether or not I end up in jail is not the most important issue. I gave up my freedom more than 4 years ago. I am under full-time police protection ever since, because of death threats from Muslims and terrorist groups linked to Al Qaeda. In the last few years, I lived in different safe houses, army barracks and yes, even in prison cells in order to be safe. But it’s not about me, it is not about Geert Wilders. The real question is: Will free speech be put behind bars?

We have to defend freedom of speech. I propose the withdrawal of all hate speech legislation in Europe. I propose a European First Amendment. In Europe we should defend freedom of speech like you Americans do. Recently I showed Fitna in the heart of your great democracy, in the US Senate at the invitation of Senator Kyle, while the European Parliament banned my film twice both in Strasbourg and Brussels. Europe should take America as a model. In Europe, freedom of speech should be extended, instead of restricted.

Besides a European First Amendment, I propose a boycott of the UN Human Rights Council. And not just because the worst violaters of human rights are member of this council. Recently this terrifying Council – even Saudi-Arabia has a seat – adopted a resolution that attempts to kill free speech and the concept of human rights. The resolution on ‘Combating defamation of religions’ does not protect individuals, but shields Islam from criticism. It calls upon UN member states to provide legal protection against defamation of religions. Of course this resolution initiated by the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) is about islam. The true goal of this resolution is to silence people who criticize Islam. Let there be no mistake about it: The UN Human Rights Council is a threat to free speech in the Western world.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a few minutes to 12. In 2009-Europe, Islam is calling for our destruction and free speech is already on trial. If we go on like this, we are heading for the end of European civilization.

Fortunately, many people think like you and me about freedom and liberty. Millions know that liberty is the most precious of gifts. Freedom loving people have not yet forgotten to whom we owe our liberties. These were not offered to us on a silver platter, but were bitterly fought for. American soldiers fought, bled and died for the freedom of Europe. We owe something to these men and women. Their legacy cannot be squandered and given away. American soldiers did not die for an Islamized Europe. They died for a free Europe.

Ladies and gentlemen, if we want to defend our freedom, if we truly want to withstand the evil forces of Islam, if we want to survive, we need less cowards and more heroes. We need to prevail and therefore we have to elect new leaders, brave leaders. Leaders who will protect our values, our culture, leaders who will defend our freedom, leaders who will stop cultural relativism and mass immigration from Islamic countries, leaders who will defy Islam. Leaders who are fighters like Churchill, Thatcher or Reagan instead of appeasers like Chamberlain and Gordon Brown. We have too many Chamberlains and Browns in world politics today. To many politicians who are giving in and giving up and bargaining our freedom away for political or economical benefit.

But let me end with some good news. The good news is that normal people in Europe like in my own country The Netherlands are increasingly fed up with politicians ignoring our fight for freedom. A growing amount of people want to stop the islamization of our societies. A growing amount of people want to fight for the freedom of speech and want to preserve our precious free societies, rule of law and democracy for our children and their children. The old political elite is losing support. New political parties who fight for freedom are gaining strength in many European countries. Like my own party - the Freedom Party - we started as a new party and took part in the national Dutch elections for the first time two and a half years ago. Then we became the fifth party in our ten party parliament with 9 seats out of the 150-seats our parliament has. But in the polls today we are the number 1 party of the Netherlands with not 9 but 32 parliamentary seats. An enormous increase of support. Many politicians of the old ruling parties in my country almost get a nervous breakdown by the idea that I might be the next Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

There is panic indeed in and between the old ruling political parties who thought they would never be challenged. Who thought that they would always be in power.
Well let me tell you they should be in panic. Because it will only get worse for them. Because we will not stop anymore. Not today, not tomorrow, old times are gone. The public want new politics and new vision and what they will get.

And we will never stop fighting for freedom. As a matter of fact, the more they threaten us with death threats, fatwas or their legal jihad, the more determined we become to continue.

My message to those who oppose our fight for freedom is as follows.
We will never compromise on freedom.
We will never compromise on liberty.
We will never appease to Islam.
We will never give in, never give up, never submit to totalitarianism again.

Ladies and gentleman we should all make a difference.

Because every individual has a responsibility to make a difference when our freedom is at stake.

And we can make a difference, we have the privilege to live in a democracy, and we should never take that for granted. We are responsible to preserve our freedom and we have to take that responsibility at whatever price it may cost.

For losing our freedom in no alternative.

Freedom is the most precious gift we can and must give to generations to come.
Ladies and gentleman thank you so much for kind attention.

It was a privilege for me to speak to you.
Thank you so much.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Christian Aid adopts the Palestinian narrative and Replacement Theology


Cranmer has been asked by the Anglican Friends of Israel to bring this matter to the attention of his readers and communicants, and he is delighted to do so. There is perhaps no more subtle manifestation of anti-Semitism than Replacement Theology, and for a Christian charity to propagate it, whilst no surprise, constitutes the perpetuation of a religio-political deception which goes back almost 2000 years. The Church, both Roman Catholic and Protestant strands, has historically maintained that due to the fact the Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah, God saw fit to pour out his wrath upon them in AD70, destroying their temple and extinguishing their nation, leaving them to exile and oblivion. St Augustine was so persuaded, as was Origen, Tertullian, Eusebius, Ignatius of Antioch, Jerome, John Chrysostom - the Council of Nicea in 325AD purposely changed the celebration of the Resurrection from the Jewish Feast of First Fruits to Easter in an attempt to disassociate it from Jewish feasts. The Council stated: 'For it is unbecoming beyond measure that on this holiest of festivals we should follow the customs of the Jews. Henceforth let us have nothing in common with this odious people...'

Replacement Theology is therefore seen to have an enduring heritage. But it is insidiously anti-Semitic. And it is concerning that the otherwise laudable charitable efforts of Christian Aid should be tarnished with the belief that, because of their rebellion against God in their rejection of Jesus, God has replaced Israel with the Church, and so the Church now inherits all of the blessings promised to Israel. The Anglican Friends of Israel respond:

The poor have much cause to be very grateful for Christian Aid.

It has transformed the lives of millions of needy people in desperate situations by helping them to help themselves. It is renowned for partnering with organisations in the developing world and for its campaigns which raise awareness of injustice and oppression.

This year, over Lent, Christian Aid drew attention to Palestinian suffering much as it has during past Christian festivals. Many people support the work of Christian Aid, but this campaign was explicitly aimed at Christians, taking the form of a ‘virtual pilgrimage’ through the Holy Land and unfolding daily throughout Lent.

Each daily reflection upon a location or subject concluded with Christian prayers and several Christian clergy contributed, including Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham and Canon Naim Ateek of Sabeel. It was expedited expertly, and professionally.

But many of the messages conveyed during the journey were jarringly at odds with Christian notions of justice and with the Scriptures upon which they were ostensibly based.

‘Pilgrims’ met Palestinians both Muslim and Christian as well as Israelis both Jewish and Arab. As Christian Aid told their story it gradually materialised into the version of events that has become known as the ‘Palestinian Narrative’.

In this version of the conflict, the Israelis, far from wanting to live in peace with their Arab neighbours, are hungry only for Palestinian land: Palestinians are miserable victims of sufferings caused solely by Israel; heroic Palestinian ‘Davids’ resist the Israeli ‘Goliath’ armed with video cameras and ‘accompaniers’, only resorting in extremis to weapons and suicide bombings; and Christian Palestinians emigrate solely because of Israeli (rather than Islamist) oppression.

Such a narrative requires selective reporting to justify it, and, sadly, Christian Aid obliged. For example the ‘pilgrims’ were shown Palestinian homes destroyed by Israel, but told little about the destruction produced by the suicide bombers who had lived in them, and nothing at all about the thousands of dollars paid by Iran’s agents Hamas and Hezbollah to the bombers’ families in compensation for having a ‘shaheed’ (martyr) in the family.

Christian Aid showcased marvellous work being done for children traumatised by violence in Gaza. But Israeli actions alone were cited as the source of violence.

Why did Christian Aid not condemn Hamas’ reign of terror? And why was the indoctrination of Palestinian School children to hate and murder Jews not cited as a traumatic factor in the children’s mental development?

Heaping blame only upon Israel as the source of Palestinian suffering scarcely reflects the justice which Christian Aid champions so effectively. And can it really be right – especially given the dark history of Christianity in relation to Jews – to invite Christians worldwide to place the blame solely upon the world’s only Jewish state for a conflict in which there are many players?

Christian Aid’s skewed presentation of Israel’s security measures also made uncomfortable reading. Wrenched from the context of Arab terrorism, Israel’s actions were presented as malicious attempts to humiliate Palestinians. For example, Christian Aid criticised the inconvenience caused to Palestinians at checkpoints without mentioning that terrorist-bound weapons and explosives are regularly intercepted there.

The legitimate land disputes created by Israel’s security fence were highlighted, but the huge reduction in terror attacks against Israeli civilians since its construction was ignored. Apparently, Palestinian inconvenience and humiliation concern Christian Aid’s contributors more than threats to Israeli lives.

Even more troubling is Christian Aid’s account of recent Middle East history. Israel’s acceptance of the UN resolution 181 – which robbed her of half the land promised the Jews by the League of Nations mandate – is ignored, as is the Arab rejection of it and their subsequent attack on Israel in 1948 whilst the world looked on. Instead, Israel’s foundation is presented solely in terms of Palestinian dispossession.

We hear much from Palestinians who lost their homes when Israel became a nation, but not about the tragedy of many Palestinians who – duped by leaders who assured them that they could return after the Jews had been ethnically cleansed – abandoned homes in Israel only to find that they had lost everything when Israel won the war.

There was such a profound imbalance that only a few posts looked at the suffering of Israelis. A father mourning his child, killed in a suicide bombing, and the battered town of Sderot and its beleaguered inhabitants, merited just one entry. No mention of the tyranny of falling rockets that Israelis endure daily.

Christian Aid lets pilgrims down in this respect. Such omissions and imbalances subtly undermine Israel’s legitimacy, feeding the anti-Semitic discourse found in the Arab press, left-wing newspapers and chattering-class drawing rooms. Pilgrims were led into the mists of obfuscation. They deserve better than that.

Of course, Israel does not get everything right in respect of its Arab citizens or citizens of the Palestinian Territories. Christian Aid quite reasonably highlights some injustices and deplorable incidents. But in focusing solely upon Israel’s actions whilst resolutely ignoring key causes of Palestinian misery – for example, the systematic corruption of Palestinian leaders, the chaotic government, the billions of squandered aid dollars and Arab dedication to Israel’s destruction – Christian Aid betrays their Christian pilgrims – not to mention those Palestinians who need every friend they can get to speak honestly into their situation.

Crucially, in the short address which forms the climax to Christian Aid’s virtual pilgrimage, the Bishop of Durham tells ‘pilgrims’ that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection have nullified the covenant God made with Abraham and his descendants over the land we now call Israel – the Replacement Theology thinly cloaked throughout the pilgrimage now surfaces.

In Replacement Theology, the restoration of Israel becomes not a fulfilment of an overarching Scriptural discourse, but an irrelevance at best, and, at worst, a terrible mistake: the return of the Jews to their ancient land is not a sign of God keeping his promises but an illegal assault of colonial interlopers.

In the context of Christian Aid’s rejection of the scriptural discourse of the Covenant between Abraham and God, the reasons for their embrace of the Palestinian narrative become clear: it is the only one which fits their theology. But the distortions and imbalance necessary to sustain this narrative, together with the abandonment of a key scriptural theme – the faithfulness of God’s promises – demonstrate the shortcomings of Replacement Theology.

It is disappointing to see Christian Aid leading its Christian supporters down such a destructive and deceptive path. Indeed it makes the organisation part of the problem rather than the solution.
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