måndag 29 juli 2019

Swedish justice in the spotlight

The A$AP Rocky business has provoked a lot of criticism from the USA, who have expressed shock at the Swedish justice system, judged by US standards. It does not look good by British standards, either. Swedish justice is on trial in front of the world. 

The video material which has been published shows that there was harassment by the Afghan youths; however, since they ended up in hospital, it looks as if excessive force was used. We also do not know how the fight began, or the background to the whole incident. It seems improbable that the performer would have initiated the trouble.

The Afghan youths should also be charged, since they are possibly guilty of a criminal act. If, as seems to be the case, the incident was the result of a provocation, then anything more than a suspended sentence gives the wrong message to people like these youths who go about harassing the public. I have experienced the same thing myself in Gothenburg.

The Afghan youths are probably not refugees and could be in the country illegally. This also needs to be investigated. If they are not illegal immigrants I would frankly be surprised. Few of the Afghans are in the country legally as refugees. If they are not, and do not have permission to be in the country, they should be deported.

Children’s book which cannot be a film

The book is one of the Narnia series, by C S Lewis, ‘The Horse and his Boy.’ The book would probably be considered racist and Islamophobic. In the narrative, the boy is a slave to a cruel master in a desert country. The horse and boy escape, and on their way the pass through a magnificent and vast city where they catch a glimpse of the great and tyrannical ruler, the Tisroc.

The references are obvious: the Tisroc is modelled on an oriental potentate such as the Sultan of the Ottomans, or the Caliph of Baghdad. It would no longer be safe to make and show such a film, such would be the threats and protests. What have we come to?

lördag 27 juli 2019

Carbon dioxide peril

Being a science graduate, I would expect to be able to understand how the Greenhouse Effect works, but have not seen a convincing explanation for how a concentration of one part in 2,500 of the gas can have such a disproportionate effect. The greenhouse effect theory has been around for over a century, when it was first noted by the Swedish chemist, Arrhenius. However, carbon dioxide absorbs infrared radiation (IR) in three narrow bands of wavelengths, which are 2.7, 4.3 and 15 micrometers (µM). This means that most – about 92% – of the heat producing radiation escapes it. About 8% of the available black body radiation is picked up by these characteristic frequencies of CO2.

Can someone please explain how a concentration of 1 part of carbon dioxide in 2500 can cause a greenhouse effect?

fredag 26 juli 2019

Something wrong with Swedish justice

The case of US rapper A$AP Rocky concerns an incident which has led to him being imprisoned since late last month, leading to the intervention by President Trump and the rejection of his plea by the Swedish Prime Minister. From the published videos it is obvious that A$AP was being persistently harassed by two immigrant men. There may be more behind this; the original causes are not clear. To judge from the videos, the two men should possibly also have been arrested. It appears, though possibly misleadingly, that Rocky’s action was in self-defence.

It is improbable, though not impossible, that US rapper and his bodyguard would assault a couple of men for no reason at all. That the situation has got to this stage, however, reflects badly on the authorities, no least on the Swedish PM who, following the intervention by Trump, could and should have ordered an immediate investigation as to why this case has got to this point.

Unless a lot happened which was not recorded, I would hope that he will be cleared and the authorities successfully sued for substantial damages for wrongful imprisonment. It should also bring to attention shortcomings in the country’s legal procedures. It is not right that people should be held in what are notoriously harsh prison conditions while awaiting trial, often for several months, especially when in Britain, for example, they would qualify for release on bail.

Whatever the rights and wrongs, and the outcome, of this case, it illustrates yet again the need for reform, with the introduction of habeas corpus, a right to bail unless the charge is for a serious crime (obviously not, in this case), and trial by jury. In Britain, the alleged criminal would have been held in police custody for not more than 24 hours and then charged or released on police bail; if charged, unless there were previous convictions or the charge was for a serious crime, the accused would be released on conditional bail. He would not, as in Sweden, continue to be held in notoriously harsh conditions for several weeks while awaiting trial.

In Britain, the case would not be sufficiently serious to be dealt with in a Crown Court but would be heard in a Magistrates’ court. A first conviction for this charge, assault, would not normally result in a custodial sentence.

Swedish criminal justice seems to combine a defective system with absurdly light sentences for serious crime and a situation where serious crimes frequently never even result in arrests.

torsdag 25 juli 2019

Academic whitewashes Islam

In the run-up to the election for the Conservative leadership, the Guardian ran a determined campaign to discredit him. One of its initiatives was to dig out an essay written by Johnson in 2007, in which he had written that the Muslim world is “centuries behind” the west, because of a “fatal religious conservatism” that prevented the development of liberal capitalism and democracy. According to Johnson “virtually every global flashpoint you can think of – from Bosnia to Palestine to Iraq and Kashmir” is defined by “some sense of Muslim grievance”. Echoing his hero Winston Churchill’s view that there was “no stronger retrograde force” than Islam, Johnson believes “that the real problem with the Islamic world is Islam”.

The Guardian then enlisted Professor Jerry Brotton of Queen Mary’s College, London, to refute Johnson’s these in an article describing it as “historically illiterate

Brotton writes,  “But Johnson’s 2007 essay – an appendix to a later edition of his book praising the Roman empire – reveals a level of historical ignorance shocking even for such a political opportunist. He claims Byzantine Constantinople “kept the candle of learning alight for a thousand years”, while the Ottomans failed to develop printing presses in the city “until the middle of the 19th century”. Wrong. Byzantine rule had gone backwards for generations prior to its fall to the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II in 1453, who repopulated the ruined city with Jews and Christians to help build one of the most sophisticated and cosmopolitan centres of its time, courted for its commercial power by Venice and a magnet for Renaissance Italian scholars and artists (Leonardo even proposed a design for a bridge across the Golden Horn for the sultan in 1502).”

This is a case of pots and kettles. The most authoritative study on this subject is probably “The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire” by Edward N Luttwak; presumably Brotton has read this book.

Luttwak summarises thus: “The East Roman empire by us called Byzantine… was successively threatened from the east by Sasanian Persia, the Muslim Arabs, and finally the Seljuk and Ottoman Turks, and from the north by waves of steppe invaders, the Huns, Avars, Bulghars, Pechnegs, Magyars, Cumans, and from the west, too by the ninth century.” Survival for 1,000 years after the fall of Rome was no mean achievement. What left it vulnerable in the end was, ironically the sacking of Constantinople in 1204 by the Fourth Crusade – the Latin Christians, which had been sent to assist against the Saracens.

The fall of Constantinople in 1453 was a brutal event, in which thousands were killed, 5,000 inside the church of Hagia Sophia itself. Naturally, Constantinople needed to be repopulated. Thereafter, Ottoman rule was no benign affair, which does not accord with the glittering picture painted by Brotton, “that Mehmed II transformed Constantinople into ‘one of the most sophisticated and cosmopolitan centres of its time’ ”

The Christian Balkans – Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece – were regularly plundered for slaves and soldiers. The Orthodox calendar lists hundreds who were martyred by the Turks because they held to their Christian faith. For over two centuries, south east Europe was under relentless pressure from the Turks, who were turned only in 1683 when the Polish army defeated the Ottoman forces who had besieged Vienna for several months; this was the result of a surprise attack by the Polish King Jan Sobieski, from a direction which the Ottomans had left undefended because their commander thought it was securely protected by the steep slopes of the Vienna woods. Hungary remained under Ottoman occupation until 1686.

The Ottoman Empire ended as brutally as it began. The Balkans gradually threw off the Turkish yoke from the beginning of the ninteenth century. Greece achieved liberation in 1830, following a ten year struggle in the course of which the Patriarch of Constantinople was hanged in public on Easter Sunday, 1821. The final phase was marked by a massacre in Bulgaria in 1876, followed by the genocides in 1915 and 1923, when three million died. Its dark legacy remains, as was seen in the break-up of the former Yugoslavia and continues in the current ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Kosovo.

Brotton excuses the Ottomans’ belated adoption of printing thus: “The city’s first officially recognised printing press opened in 1727, not because of previous objections by zealous mullahs but because of the Islamic handwritten calligraphic tradition that regarded words as art – something print struggled to reproduce.”

That is feeble. Printing for the diffusion of knowledge can and does perfectly well co-exist with the production of calligraphic volumes of religious texts. The 250 years of banning of printing is a form of censorship.

Brotton, again, “But then there’s little sense that he even grasps the differences between the two Islamic denominations as he collapses the diversity of what he calls the Islamic world into one angry, ignorant monolith.”

Looking at the present-day manifestation of this ancient animosity, Brotton has a point here; ‘monolithic’ it is not, but ‘angry’ and ‘ignorant’, certainly; the description applies as much to the Iranian Ayotollahs which seek the death of every Jew as to the leaders of the Wahabi Mullahs.

Brotton “And hardly anyone within that field studies Arab or early Islamic history, or bothers learning Arabic. “So the myths and prejudices harden into facts. There is no awareness of the life of Muhammad, a merchant outside the Meccan trading elite, and the early history of the Qur’an...There is no space in Johnson’s rhetoric for the scientific and cultural achievements of medieval Islam. Nor is there any acknowledgement that the “fatal religious conservatism” is primarily down to the influence of Wahhabism, the puritanical doctrine founded in the 18th century that is now the official state religion of Saudi Arabia, which condemns millions of Muslims – including Shias – as apostates and has inspired terrorist organisations such as Isis.”

It is Brotton who is on shaky ground here. Wahabism is no more and no less than attempt to return Islam to its roots in the life of Mohammed and his associates. ISIS and the Salafists model themselves closely on Mohammed himself, as all faithful Moslems are required to do.

Brotton rightly criticises Johnson for his loose grasp of detail, but Johnson’s grasp of the overall picture is sound. How many scientists, philosophers, political thinkers, technological innovators, critics of rule by clerics, etc etc who underpin the ‘modernism’ that drives the contemporary world could Brotton could name who have come from Islamic states in the last 500 years or so? His main motivation, here and in others of his publications, seems to be to whitewash Islam and soften us up for the takeover which seems to be under way.

onsdag 24 juli 2019

Train ticket grief

Edmondson ticket on the North Western Railway

It seem to be more difficult than ever to make casual journeys. On Sunday evening, around 7pm, I tried, and failed to buy two tickets from Stockholm C to Uppsala C, using the SJ app, being on our way to the station in someone’s car. First, the app asked what train I wanted to travel on. Obviously, I wanted to go on the first train to depart, but we did not know when we would get to the station. Next, it asked for the name of the person I would be travelling with. Then it tried to reserve seats. Since there were three of us travelling and we wanted to sit together, we absolutely did not want reserved seats but to find the seats for ourselves once we were on the train.

Then I realised that the credit card I had with me is registered to another mobile telephone than the one I had with me, so would not have been able to pay for it. When I got home I tried to register my card to the SJ app but there no means of doing so. 

At the station, I was unable to use the machine, which came as a shock, as I am used to British ticket machines, of which there are a dozen different types, from bad to terrible. To come up with one which is even worse is an achievement. Fortunately, my friend was with me and able to help, but we still had the business with filling in names and choosing our train, all while there was a train standing in the platform, waiting to depart late, which we wanted to catch. 

Then we ended up with reserved seats which we did not sit in, as the compartment in the buffet car was available. That was the best part of the journey. 

With the advance of technology, it is getting more and more difficult to buy tickets. When I stayed in Uppsala between 2007 and 2010, there were ticket machines at the ends of the platform where you could quickly buy a ticket at any time using a credit or debit card, then just got on the first train that was going to Uppsala. You could also buy tickets from Pressbyrån, the newsagent.

This raises some general points. 
  1.  The SJ app should include the facility of registering a credit card to it, which is possible with Västtraffik, SL and UL apps. 
  2. There is no necessity to sell tickets to named individuals. Such a system was abolished in Britain in 1842. 
  3. Paper tickets should be more substantial than flimsy thermal printed paper. They are too easily mislaid with till receipts and other scraps of paper that accumulate in people’s wallets. Physical tickets should be either the credit-card style like the British orange ones, or the Edmondson card type (illustrated example at top from the Fat Controller’s railway). These could include a QR code; Edmondson style 30 x 57 mm card or plastic tickets would be thick enough to incorporate quite a lot of electronics and are potentially programmable and re-usable. Both styles of ticket are big enough and solid enough not to get mislaid, so that train staff would not be wasting time while passengers were looking for their flimsy tickets. 
  4. Fares need to be simplified, at least for the journeys most commonly made. Effective yield management could be achieved with a simple two-tier structure which should suffice to discourage passengers from travelling on the busiest trains and optimise revenue. 
  5. Subject to the above, any ticket should be available on any train. When passengers are tied to a particular train, it results in hugely extended journey times as passengers have to allow such a lot of time in order to be certain that they will not miss the train they have bought their ticket for. It defeats the entire object of running trains at high speeds if you have to reckon to turn up at the station half an hour, or even an hour before departure time. 
  6. Seat reservation is often more trouble than it is worth. Unless there is a plan of the seat layout, I have almost always found that I did not want to sit in the seat that I had been allocated, usually because the window seat was not really a window seat, or the seat was adjacent to the toilet, or it was not a seat with a fixed table. 
  7. ‘Kan vara reserverad’ (could be reserved). That is a useless message which just adds to the stress of a journey, as you can sit in the seat and then discover, half-way through the journey, that the seat has become reserved.
  8. It would be a huge benefit if electronic systems were scrapped and replaced by paper based systems so that passengers know what is reserved and the stations between which the reservation applies. 
  9. In order to avoid overcrowding, but without seat reservation, British Railway once had a system where ‘train regulation tickets’ were required in order to travel on particular trains which were likely to be overcrowded. This system would also allow supplementary charges to be made for travel at the most popular times. 
  10. The need to reserve seats is partly due to the seating layout of the vehicles. There are too many window seats which do not have windows, there are not enough seats in the facing bay layout which allows people to sit together and at the same time place their luggage between seat backs where they can keep an eye on it. When luggage has to be placed in luggage racks at the ends of the vehicles, it is not secure. There is little necessity for seat reservation with trains such as the X31 and Danish IC3 stock which have a good balance of airline-style and facing seats.

tisdag 23 juli 2019

Palestinian anachronisms - St Mary Magdelen

The drip, drip, drip of propaganda continues. Jesus is often described these days as a ‘first century Palestinian’. Yesterday’s ‘Uppsala Nya Tidningar’ ran a similar line in its daily feature on name days, 22 July being the feast day of St Mary Magdalen. The article explained, unhelpfully, that the saint came from a village called Magdala, in Palestine.

She could not have done. ‘Palestine’ was a name applied to the territory by the Romans after the defeat of the Bar Kochba rebellion in 135AD. The site of her birthplace, on the west side of the Sea of Galilee, north of Tiberius, is in present day Israel. It is in the region which was and is known as Galilee.

If the author of the article could not bring herself to use the dreaded word ‘Israel’, she could have referred to the place as being in the ‘Holy Land’. To refer to Jesus and other characters of the New Testament as Palestinian is anachronistic and ludicrous. Scripture relates that Mary Magdalen anointed the feet of Jesus with expensive ointment, (Matthew 26, Mark 14, and John 12). Her image includes a flask or urn, as in the stained glass window shown here . Describing the New Testament characters as Palestinian is like showing Jesus on a bicycle and Mary Magdalen with an aerosol can. But of course those who do so have an agenda.

Antisemitism - the strange case of E Michael Jones

Dr. E. Michael Jones is an American academic who in 2008 published a 1200 page book called ‘The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit’, which claims that there is a consistent pattern in history whereby organized Judaism opposed and attacked Western Christian civilization. Jones asserts that the origin of the supposed Jewish anti-Catholic sentiment and activity can be traced to the passion of Jesus, when they as a group rejected Him as their messiah, or as he puts it, when they rejected Logos. Jones then ‘reveals’ some moments in history where a few Jews aligned themselves with anti-catholic revolutionaries, and, he claims, not a few times where they created those movements themselves: the failed attempt of reconstructing the Temple in the time of Julian, an alleged later use of Muslim rulers and Protestant revolutionaries, and to their present day influence on American politics and media. Jones purports that Jews have tried, and often succeeded, in destroying neighbourhoods, created wars and perverted the morality of institutions and nations.

This is conspiracy theory on steroids, and as with many such theories, a grain of truth is required on which to construct it. A few Jews are in powerful positions in finance, academia and entertainment. Secular Jews are very often progressive ideologues who believe in the possibility of creating a better world, in recent centuries through some form of socialism. This inevitably brings them into conflict with Roman Catholics who assert the right to private property and believe in Original Sin; the consequence of the latter is that Catholics deny the possibility of creating heaven on earth, a conclusion which history tends to confirm.

But the theory falls apart in the face of the obvious fact that while Jews, like all such groups, are able to form networks and collaborate, they simply have never had the capacity to organise a world-scale plot persisting for a couple of millennia.

Neither does Jones’s narrative hold up in the light of the history of the Christian Church itself. Jesus – God incarnate – was a Jew. John the Baptist was a Jew. Mary, Joseph and Anne were all Jews. The father of John the Baptist was a priest in the Jewish Temple. All of the disciples were Jews. The Seventy were all Jews. The Jews did not, as a group, reject Jesus as the Risen Lord. The original Christian Church consisted entirely of Jews. All of the authors of the New Testament were Jews. Paul, who began as a persecutor of the Christian Jews (there were not called Christians until later on) on behalf of some other Jews – the religious authorities – became a key figure in the spreading of the Christian message.

It was not until a few decades later that the first conversions of the Gentiles occurred, giving rise to questions which had to be resolved at the Apostle’s Council, held in Jerusalem and described in Acts 15. Jones might as well argue that the entire Christian Church is a Jewish conspiracy against the pagan gods.

Jones is also questionable in his charge that the Jews rejected ‘Logos’. This was a Greek concept, the product of a reflection in theological terms of the narrative events described in the Synoptic Gospels. Whilst implicit in pre-Joannine theology, Logos was not spelled out until the writing of the Gospel of St John, thought to be around 65AD.

Over the centuries, the main damage to Catholicism was due to a gradual degeneration in Rome itself, verging at times on the scandalous. Additionally, Rome changed the Creed itself, without authorisation by any Church Council, thereby downgrading the Holy Spirit. Then the Eastern Orthodox Christians were ejected by a dead pope in 1054, and after that came the sacking of Constantinople by soldiers of the Fourth Crusade in 1204; the Eastern Empire never recovered from the damage, and it opened the way to the Ottoman conquest. What had the Jews to do with any of these key events? All of them had their origin in the papacy itself. How many of the Popes were Jews?

Going forward to the sixteenth century, there was another catastrophic split, originating in objections most of which had previously been made by the Eastern Orthodox five hundred years previously, including the doctrines of Original Sin, Purgatory and Indulgences; these were the immediate occasion for Luther’s 95 Theses. Again, this most damaging event had nothing to do with Jews; it was self-inflicted.

Moving on a couple of centuries, the next most damaging event for Catholic Christianity was the French Revolution. This was a product of the Enlightenment, a Gnostic movement propagated primarily through Freemasonry. Yet again, it had nothing to do with Jews; Gnosticism has many roots, principally, ancient Indian philosophy.

What of the twentieth century revolutions? Marx came from a Jewish family which had converted to Lutheranism.  His theories are derived from Enlightenment philosophy. Many of the followers of Marx, were indeed secular Jews, including the Bolsheviks. But the Jews in Tsarist Russia had been treated as outsiders for over a century, and were restricted to living in the Pale of Settlement, that part of Poland which had come into the Russian Empire when Poland was partitioned at the end of the eighteenth century. Consequently, it is unsurprising that they had no loyalty to the regime. Worse still, due to the nationalisation of the Russian Orthodox Church by Peter the Great, and a requirement that state officials receive communion at least once a year, career opportunities for Jews, for example in academia, were closed off; their situation was probably similar to that which Catholics in Northern Ireland suffered for many decades. This was a perfect breeding ground for subversion; that the subversives were Jewish was an effect rather than a cause.

However, when we look at the actual Bolshevik leaders, what do we find? Stalin was a Georgian who had attended an Orthodox seminary before he went to the bad. Felix Dzerzhinsky, secret police head, was a Polish Catholic of aristocratic descent, Lenin was Russian, Trotsky and Kaganovitch were indeed Jewish. The mass of the Bolshevik supporters were, of course, working class Russians. The fields for revolution had been fertilised by the Tsarist regime. An industrial working class suffering from low wages and poor housing provided an army of supporters. Reform came too late for the Russian political system to be transformed into a constitutional monarchy, which would probably have saved it. The Russians entered the First World War hopelessly unprepared for war with Germany, which was technologically fifty years ahead. The disastrously incompetent military campaign in East Prussia in 1914 destroyed morale and confidence in the established order. The German authorities lit the spark when the allowed Lenin to pass through the country from Switzerland to St Petersburg. Neutral Sweden also helped Lenin on his way by allowing passage to Lenin. Yes, quite a few of the actors were Jewish, and Marxist ideas were and are attractive to secular Jews, but it is ludicrous to claim that ‘the Jews’ were behind the Russian revolution. Most of the Jews in Russia did not support the revolution and were foremost among the victims.

The other twentieth century revolution, Nazism, was every bit as anti-Catholic as the Marxist one. Does Jones blame that on the Jews?

What of the present? Within Protestantism, while bible-based evangelical sects continue to spread, we see the mainstream denominations in retreat. Is that the fault of the Jews? We also see the Roman Catholic church in retreat. The collapse in vocations in the immediate aftermath of the Second Vatican Council is propelling the church towards an institutional implosion as parishes are forced to close through a lack of both clergy and congregations. How were ‘the Jews’ responsible for the liturgical reforms which were such an important factor behind the collapse?

Jones’s entire thesis ultimately founders on both historical facts and the notion that ‘the Jews’ exist as a coherent, organised entity. Some Jews are indeed strongly anti-Christian. Most Jews give the subject little, if any thought. More than a handful of Jews are themselves Christian. But Jones is mischievous. This becomes evident from the comments on his blog; anti-semitism is often a manifestation of a paranoid delusional condition, which can spill over into violent action when those affect believe that ‘The Jews’ are out to get them.

tisdag 16 juli 2019

Not as green as it looks

There are hundreds of miles of electrified railway in Sweden where there are a handful of trains – one or two an hour, and in some cases just a dozen a day. It is generally considered that a railway is not worth electrifying if there are less than six trains per track per hour. The embodied energy in all the overhead structures and the copper cable is colossal. If you travel in the north of Sweden in the winter, you can see a constant shower of sparks which is a continual waste of energy. These routes – eg Gothenburg-Strömstad – should never have been electrified in the first place, but useful amounts of energy could be saved by recovering the fixed equipment (which could be put into store for re-use) and using diesel locomotives, or even steam locomotives, which can be ‘green’ since they can run on renewable fuels such as waste material from the timber industry.

tisdag 9 juli 2019

Most news coverage of Moslems negative

“The New Statesman, Observer and Guardian were the least likely to portray Muslims (their spelling) in a negative light, according to the analysis of 11,000 articles and news broadcasts during the final months of the year.”

Of course it is the handful of bad eggs who make the news, but since the teachings and practices of Islam are fundamentally at odds with western society based on liberal enlightenment values, as soon as the number of Moslems grows beyond a certain point, conflict is inevitable; members of that community can then expect to be portrayed negatively. It makes matters worse that Islamic teachings also take an extremely negative view of Christians and Jews, although there is scope for common cause there because Christianity and Judaism are also both at odds with contemporary secular values.

There are indeed real issues within the Moslem community, which need to come under public scrutiny: female genital mutilation, the disproportionate number of Moslems in prison, forced marriages, and the levels of physical and mental disability resulting from the widespread practice of marriage between first cousins. The community’s reputation was not enhanced by the Rotherham and Oxford sex abuse cases; this type of thing is obviously not the preserve of Moslems but if you are a member of a minority community, as I am myself, then you need to realise that higher standards are expected and that failure will bring opprobrium on all. That raises a further question, which is that a degree of internal self-policing by community leaders and peers could have been expected, who would have dealt with the miscreants long before they came to the attention of the authorities.

In my previous blog, I referred to the Guardian’s censorship of the slightest criticism of Islam. Since the Guardian and the Observer are the same newspaper, one has to ask who is in charge of its editorial policy?

Guardian censorship - continued

The Guardian makes much of its moral and intellectual superiority. It claims to be open, a supporter of liberal western Enlightenment values, evidence-based claims, and, of course, free speech.

For many years I have been commenting under the name of Physiocrat, mostly about economic policies but on a range of other subjects too. I have carefully avoided being offensive, even when I have received offensive responses from other commentators. The number of topics open for comment has been steadily decreasing in recent years and is mostly confined to topics like the weather and the state of the railways. However, I was surprised to see that the message above has been appearing under the few articles which remain open for comment, and I enquired of the Guardian what was the reason. This was the reply.

“Your account was banned after multiple spells in premoderation. A lot of your comments could be interpreted as Islamophobic.”

The first point is untrue. My comments were pre-moderated on one or possibly two occasions in a period of ten years or more. The second point is more interesting. “Could be interpreted as Islamophobic” sets a very high bar – so high, in fact, that the slightest criticism of Islam would fail the test.

It is evident that Islam is regarded by the Guardian as exempt from any criticism. Given the volume of postings, it is reasonable to assume that there is a well organised campaign to seek out all adverse comments about Islam and report them. Shame on the Guardian for caving in to the pressure. Yet Christianity, and Roman Catholicism in particular, however, and quite rightly, is a free-fire zone. The same applies to Zionism, even though a preoccupation with the wrongdoings of the Israeli government is an indicator of anti-semitism. Never mind that Islam comes with antisemitism built in or that Iran’s enmity with Israel is derived from a theological view that the Mahdi will come when the last Jew must be killed. These things must evidently not be mentioned.

As I discussed a couple of months ago in another blog, Islamophobia is an invented word, and a fundamentally dishonest one; a phobia is an irrational fear. Living in Sweden as I do, I encounter and talk to many people from Moslem lands. Many are non-Moslem refugees who are dismayed to find the people they fled from have followed and are now their neighbours. They are unanimous in relating the difficulties they have experienced, for generations. This is what The Guardian does not want brought into the open. The disproportionate number of Moslems in British prisons is a taboo subject. Concerns about this matters are real fears, not phobias. ‘Islamophobia’ is a term designed to shut down discussion and tar any critic with the racism brush.

Rational fear of Islam has already transformed European politics; the Guardian editorial staff have seemingly not noticed and made the connection. It was a major influence in the Brexit referendum result. It is a major factor in the rise of parties such as Sverigedemokraterna and AfD. It is sad that the Guardian of all newspapers should be blocking off public debate in this way. When the voices of reasoned argument are silenced, holding the lid down will bring about the very thing we most fear. Shutting down public debate is feeding rumour and extremism.
Shame on the Guardian for folding in the face of Islamofascism.

Virus questions - and the Swedish exception

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