The Irish and Abortion

This amused me:

Just a few short weeks ago the same writer was wailing about Russia’s nefarious influence in European politics and the Brexit referendum. I note the BBC and other British media outlets were not only treating the Republic of Ireland as a British province in their coverage of this referendum – which, frankly, has nothing to do with us – but also actively campaigning for abortion. Apparently foreign interference in another country’s politics is okay provided it’s on the correct side.

What’s also amusing is the manner in which this referendum result has been received by the chattering classes compared to the Brexit vote. As some wag said on Twitter a few days ago, he’s looking forward to finding out whether history has spoken or Russia interfered. You can be sure if the Irish vote had narrowly gone the other way, shenanigans would have been blamed and we’d already be talking about a re-run. But now the vote has gone the way of progressives, the matter is closed forever.

My view on abortion is that it’s a necessary evil, one that’s better legalised than outlawed, so I think the outcome of the vote is in itself a good one. But what it does show is that, contrary to what many claim, abortion is not a fundamental right; if it were, there would be no need to vote on it. Despite what feminists say about having a right to do as they please with their own bodies, this isn’t actually true: abortion is permitted by law not as a right, but with the consensus of the overall society. Rights don’t exist in a vacuum, their existence depends on the surrounding society, or at least those who control it, recognising them. In the case of abortion, rights only exist while a majority, or powerful minority, of people in any given society approve of it. What just happened in Ireland was a reflection of the changed attitudes in Irish society rather than confirmation that abortion is fundamental right. This is why Kamm’s remark is idiotic: if a plurality of the population genuinely believe abortion is murder and the rights of the unborn child paramount, this can hardly be called despotic. He’d be on stronger ground if he said a powerful minority outlaw abortion against the wishes of the majority, but his use of the word “intrinsically” implies otherwise.

Kamm’s approach of the enlightened few knowing what’s best for the plebs is the one adopted in the US, which saw the Supreme Court decide the abortion issue instead of putting it to public vote. Now some argue the only way to make progress is to pass laws forcing the ignorant masses to adapt, but 45 years after Roe v Wade abortion is still a contentious issue in the US. In that respect the Irish did the right thing in holding a vote, although I suspect Irish progressives knew in advance they’d win in a landslide, otherwise they’d never have held it. The British government blundered badly by giving the oiks a vote on Brexit, and you can be sure nobody will make that mistake again.

The way the western world is moving is to hold referenda for those subjects they know will deliver the right outcome, and for the rest just railroad it through via the legal system. This ought to tell us something in future: if a referendum is being held, the ruling classes already know the result will be to their liking. If they’re trying to ram something through the judicial system, bypassing the normal political process – as was the case with the gay marriage issue in the US – you can be sure it’s not popular with the masses. A smart politician ought to be able to make good use of that distinction. Anyone know of one?

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Credulous fools at the BBC

There is an excellent three-part BBC documentary out there called Welcome to Lagos (it’s on YouTube and Vimeo) covering life in the Nigerian commercial capital. The series focuses on a number of individuals, one of whom was a guy who lived on an enormous  municipal rubbish dump and earned cash selling whatever he could find in the mountain of discarded waste. He was young, energetic, and had an abundance of charisma (which is presumably why the producers selected him) and aspired to be a singer/rap star in Lagos’ highly informal music scene. We saw him get cleaned up, dressed up, and get photos for his album cover done, and a fair amount of his singing. Near the end of the series the audience was looking forward to a satisfying conclusion to this rags to (relative) riches story.

Instead, the guy got in a fight off camera which resulted in the other person losing an eye. Whoops. What became clear to anyone who knew Lagos was that far from being a charming young man with big dreams down on his luck, this chap they’d chosen to profile was a vicious thug. Nigerians are particularly good at turning on the charm and this talent extends to criminals as well; he’d obviously fooled the BBC and by the time they realised who they were dealing with it was too late. The series concluded with the man exiled from the rubbish dump, effectively losing his home, in a compromise negotiated with the one-eyed man’s relatives. The alternatives were to lose an eye of his own or be killed. I could imagine the BBC people looking on with horror as this unfolded, finally realising what sort of people live on a Nigerian rubbish dump.

I was reminded of this when I read this BBC article:

More than 3,000 Nigerian migrants who failed to reach Europe, have been flown home by the International Organization for Migration. Many sold everything to make the trip and aren’t sure how to face their families, writes Colin Freeman.

Evans William tells me he sold everything but the kitchen sink to fund his dream of getting to Europe. And I mean everything – his bed, his fridge, his TV, his spare clothes and his mobile phone.

Now this may be true, but I wonder how many Nigerians would advise the BBC to take this man’s story at face value.

After borrowing yet more cash, he finally had enough to pay a smuggling gang to take him from Nigeria across the Sahara to Libya.

So he’s an economic migrant, not a refugee or asylum seeker.

In all, it cost him £750 ($1,000), but he wasn’t worried. Once in Europe, he figured, he could quickly earn enough to pay off his creditors, and eventually return home to start a business of his own.

What was he going to do after illegally entering Europe that would “quickly” earn him $1,000? The BBC didn’t bother to ask, of course. I suspect any Nigerian reading this would consider this chap to be bad news and not the sort they’d want moving in next door, but here’s the BBC lending him a sympathetic ear.

When I met Evans last month, he’d just returned home to Benin City in southern Nigeria, where he was among hundreds of migrants staying in a government-requisitioned hotel.

They’d been flown back by the International Organization for Migration, a UN body that helps illegal migrants who want to return home.

As well as a free plane ticket, they get a few nights’ hotel accommodation, and £200 in pocket money while they find their feet. They’re also offered job training, to give them a better chance of a livelihood.

This is a bit of a slap in the face to those millions of Nigerians who don’t try to enter Europe illegally to make a quick $1,000 committing crimes, and instead work their arses off at home trying to improve their lives legally.

The scheme is partly bankrolled by a £3bn fund set up by the European Union in 2015, the year the migrant crisis dominated the news.

Were the taxpayers informed this money would be used to bankroll fit, healthy, men looking for opportunities to graft, or were they assured it was for desperate families fleeing war and persecution?

Most, like Evans, are virtually destitute. And while they appreciate the offers of job training, it’s fairly basic stuff, like hairdressing or tailoring, or learning how to farm. For those who dreamed of making it in Europe, that’s a bit of a comedown.

I wonder how much sympathy the average Nigerian has for their countrymen who, having failed to realise their dream of working a life of crime in Europe, now have to come back home to receive training in doing something useful?

What also hurts, though, is the feeling that they’ll be seen as failures by their peers and relatives.

What sort of peers does the BBC think these men have?

Many could only make the trip because mum and dad sold off the family silver. Nobody wants to come back penniless, and admit that they blew what’s seen – rightly or wrongly – as the chance of a lifetime.

Ah yes, the deep sense of shame and familial pride which is so strong among Nigeria’s criminal fraternity.

Gloomier still was Abibu, a tough-looking young man who was on the same flight home as Evans. He had a fresh-looking scar on his face, and a scowl that deepened as he talked.

Ah, here we go. A fresh scar on his face, eh? From what? Did the BBC ask how he got it?

His mother, he said, had sold her only plot of land to fund his trip to Europe. He hadn’t even told her he was back.

He sounds lovely. Hands up all those who really thinks his mother willingly sold her “only plot of land” to fund Abibu’s trip?

“If my mum sees me she’ll get sick with worry,” he said.

An odd phrase, it must be said.

“And all the neighbours, saying, ‘This guy’s mum sold her land so he could go to Europe – and then he failed!’ If I hear anyone saying that, I tell you, I’ll kill them.”

Shame, he sounds like he’d have made such a contribution to European life.

Which of the training opportunities did Abibu fancy? Hairdresser? Farmer? He seemed to have other work in mind. “I’ll look at the offers,” he admitted grudgingly. “But I’m worried I’ll end up committing crime to get the money back.”

Really? What sort of crime?

“Robbery, probably.”

A real shame.

He sounded like he meant it, and I found myself wondering just what Abibu had done to get that scar on his face.

I assume you didn’t ask because the answer would have ruined the sob-story.

What we have here is the BBC interviewing people who are in all likelihood dangerous, violent criminals but presenting them as ordinary Nigerians deserving of our sympathy. This would be the equivalent of Nigerian journalists writing puff-pieces on English  football hooligans arrested in Russia this summer, or members of drug gangs which plague sink estates in Britain. Could they not have found any Nigerians a bit more deserving of their attention?

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A Coup and a Coverup

There are two things to say about this story:

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says a landmark nuclear deal with Iran was “built on lies”, after Israel claimed to have proof of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons programme.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday accused Iran of conducting a secret nuclear weapons programme, dubbed Project Amad, and said it had continued to pursue nuclear weapons knowledge after the project was shuttered in 2003.

Mr Netanyahu presented what he said was evidence of thousands of “secret nuclear files” that showed Iran had lied about its nuclear ambitions before the deal was signed in 2015.

Mr Pompeo said documents revealed by Israel’s prime minister were authentic.

Now I’ve had to pull the above quotes from all over the article and re-arrange the order. The above is the story, but the BBC has crafted the article so as to mislead as much as possible, with the third paragraph reading:

Analysts say they show nothing new, highlighting that concerns over Iran’s nuclear ambitions led to the 2015 deal.

Which analysts? The BBC doesn’t say, but they do quote the Iranian foreign minister. Similarly, the US media, if they’re covering it at all, is full of former employees of the Obama adminstration playing it down. Why would that be then? For the same reason they refused to cover the protests in Iran which took place last December: Barack Obama made a ludicrously bad deal with Iran which involved exchanging pallets of cash dollars worth over a billion in return for vague promises about shelving their nuclear ambitions. The deal was so bad Obama did it unilaterally, thus avoiding Congress who would point out the money will almost certainly be used to fund war and terrorism against US allies. The media however lapped it up, and now it’s looking likely that Iran is cheating – as if anyone sane believed they wouldn’t – they can’t bring themselves to criticise what was lauded as a central plank of Obama’s legacy (the disastrous Obamacare and sucking up to the Castros being the others). The BBC ensures to tell us early on:

Other Western powers, including signatories Britain and France, say Iran has been abiding by the deal and it should be kept.

Well, yes. European countries are slavering at the bit to get their national champions into Iran, probably the last semi-advanced nation which remains out of bounds to them. They couldn’t give a stuff about Middle East security or terrorism, provided they can flog their goods and services in a country where Americans are detested. A more cynical approach to nuclear security couldn’t be imagined, and I dearly hope Trump pulls the plug on the whole deal just so I can see these companies – all of whom have self-righteous ethics policies littering their websites – are forced to abandon their plans or run the risk of falling foul of the US Department of Justice.

The other interesting part of the story is this:

Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters on Monday that Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad had obtained 55,000 pages of evidence and a further 55,000 files on 183 CDs relating to Project Amad.

A senior Israeli official told the New York Times that the agency first discovered the warehouse in southern Tehran in February 2016, and put the building under surveillance.

In January, intelligence agents managed to break into the property in the middle of the night, remove the original documents and smuggle them back into Israel the same night, the official told the paper.

Whatever you think of Israel, that is one hell of an operation by Mossad, and worthy of being made into a film. The only way they could have made it better is if they’d replaced the documents with copies of Obama’s sealed university thesis.

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Casual Racism from the BBC

Yesterday I came across a bizarre interactive webpage on the BBC’s world service website which, I think, is there to help foreigners harangue Americans about their gun laws. It starts by allowing you to pick your character:

1. Charlene, a rootin’ tootin’ gun lovin’ redneck who doesn’t like other people very much.

2. Akinjide, a Nigerian on holiday from Lagos.

Why the BBC feels the need to help Nigerians deal with Americans they encounter on a bus to Phoenix using money taxed from the owners of televisions in Britain I don’t know, but here we are. Now I don’t know what bus this scenario is supposed to take place on, but from the description my guess would be it’s a Greyhound. Can you take guns on a Greyhound? No. So we’re already in fairyland, and it doesn’t get much better. I’ll post a few of the remarks each character is supposed to be saying:

I hardly think someone from Lagos is going to argue the prevalence of legally-held guns is a requirement for a country to suffer serious levels of violent crime. You’d also not likely find a Nigerian who doesn’t appreciate guns are useful when it comes to protecting yourself, your family, and your property – particularly in a place where violent criminals have easy access to them. Besides, private gun ownership is not prohibited in Nigeria.

It is highly likely that any Nigerian travelling on a bus to Phoenix will know someone back home who has had their home invaded by armed intruders, and probably know some who’ve been shot dead. Even moderately wealthy Nigerians are terrified of armed thugs murdering them during a robbery, hence they erect high, glass-topped walls around their houses with sturdy gates and often lived in secure compounds with armed guards. Nigerians might find American gun laws daft, but few would dismiss the danger home invasions represent.

Sorry, who is supposed to be speaking here? A Nigerian from Lagos or some woke British paleface who reads The Guardian? Did the person who wrote this actually know any Nigerians?

This is probably how the BBC thinks gun-carrying southerners speak to people, particularly black men who sit beside them on the bus. I suspect the author is basing the character on people he or she met in New York – where they do speak to each other like this – rather than anyone in Texas or Arizona where they’re unfailingly polite (in part because so many of them are carrying guns).

The BBC seems content to portray Africans as wholly ignorant on the subject of American gun laws. As Ali G would say, isn’t that a bit racist?

Of course, Nigerians are generally conservative, devoutly religious, and know all too well that armed government employees can be as much a source of death and mayhem as any run-of-the-mill criminal. But not the Nigerian featured here, oh no:

Somebody from Lagos wept as he watched news footage of people talking about a gun massacre in the US after the event? Are we sure this guy is from Lagos?

Naturally, this is presented as a scenario which is abhorrent to Akinjide, who has presumably forgotten there are armed guards everywhere in Nigeria.

Now this webpage isn’t completely useless, offering as it does a useful insight into how staff at the BBC view Americans and Nigerians, but as advice on how to approach the subject of gun control in the US it’s more likely to get you killed as enlighten you. I have travelled on an overnight bus to Phoenix and it was full of people who looked as though they were on their way to rob a bank. The two guys in front of me were both felons, and had a lively conversation over whether it’s better to be imprisoned in Virginia – where a man on horseback with a rifle guards you as you pick up trash from the side of the road – or Arkansas where it’s a man on foot with a shotgun. At the back was a US Marine who was half-insane and spent several hours hurling foul-mouthed abuse at his girlfriend down the phone. Anyone who started acting like this Akinjide in the story would probably be killed by someone’s bare hands. Thankfully most Nigerians, the ones the BBC doesn’t know about, are sensible enough to keep the topic of conversation to beer, women, and football.

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The Death of Maxim Borodin

This is pretty awful:

A Russian investigative journalist who wrote about the deaths of mercenaries in Syria has died in hospital after falling from his fifth-floor flat.

Maxim Borodin was found badly injured by neighbours in Yekaterinburg and taken to hospital, where he later died.

Being a journalist in Russia is not especially dangerous. Being a journalist in Russia and writing about things which concern powerful people is incredibly dangerous, bordering on suicidal.

Local officials said no suicide note was found but the incident was unlikely to be of a criminal nature.

Uh-huh. One minute he’s exposing the clandestine use of Russian mercenaries in Syria, the next he’s just fallen off a balcony. Could happen to anyone.

However, a friend revealed Borodin had said his flat had been surrounded by security men a day earlier.

Vyacheslav Bashkov described Borodin as a “principled, honest journalist” and said Borodin had contacted him at five o’clock in the morning on 11 April saying there was “someone with a weapon on his balcony and people in camouflage and masks on the staircase landing”.

Borodin had been looking for a lawyer, he explained, although he later called him back saying he was wrong and that the security men had been taking part in some sort of exercise.

Many a time have I come home to find people with weapons on my balcony and masked, camouflaged men in the stairwell conducting an exercise. Yeah, this is all perfectly normal.

In recent weeks, the journalist had written about Russian mercenaries known as the “Wagner Group” who were reportedly killed in Syria on 7 February in a confrontation with US forces.

Maxim Borodin was phenomenally brave in investigating this story but, like Anna Politkovskaya, you’ve got to wonder if it was worth it. I don’t know who is behind the Wagner Group but you can be sure they are nasty, brutal, and well-connected. Going anywhere near an outfit like this and raising awkward questions was bound to end badly, and sadly it has.

The story is a useful reminder that Russia is a violent, lawless place in many respects and not every high-profile murder is carried out on the orders of Putin. Putin must take a lot of the blame for presiding over the conditions which allow journalists to be murdered with impunity in Russia, but it’s worth noting he is a product of the same culture, not its architect. Murders don’t occur in Russia because Putin allegedly has people murdered; any murders ordered by Putin occur in a culture where murdering people is routine. There’s a difference, and I think this was missed during the Skripal affair when it was assumed Putin simply must have been behind it. Now he probably was, but there was also a fair chance he wasn’t, which those unfamiliar with Russia utterly failed to even consider. It has become an article of faith among western reporters that Putin is responsible for the murder of Politkovskaya, and they go so far to directly charge him with the murder of journalists. The sad truth is any number of people would have wanted Politkovskaya dead, and Putin might not even have been one of them. We’ll never know.

The other noteworthy point to this story is that Maxim Borodin was genuinely brave and attempting to uncover a story which is in the public interest. Contrast this with western journalists who are mainly propagandists for the ruling classes yet are forever congratulating one another on their bravery, despite facing nothing more perilous in their day-job than a burned lip from an over-hot latte. I wonder how well a journalist like Borodin would go down in a western media outfit? Not very well, would be my guess.

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Out of Touch

This is a revealing exchange:

That immigration has both positive and negative effects is undeniable, even if one takes the position that there is a clear net benefit. That some, many, or most immigrants are good is a reasonable position to take; to say all immigrants are good is just stupid. Check the jails if you want proof there are some real bad ‘uns among those who show up on the shores of any country. Bloom’s statement is therefore not in the slightest bit controversial, and his view on this subject is probably shared by the vast majority, particularly those who are fed up with immigration being spoken about as a black and white issue instead of a policy with obvious trade-offs.

But Kamm believes Bloom’s view is so extraordinary he feels it necessary to respond with an appeal to the wilder parts of his readers’ imaginations to get them to understand it. Now Kamm has over 23k followers and his tweets usually result in multiple likes, retweets, and comments. On most of his pet subjects his followers are positively sycophantic, ganging up on anyone who takes issue with Kamm’s premise, but this tweet managed a total of 3 likes, no comments, and no retweets. I suspect most of them read it, pulled their head back, and said “Huh?”

This tweet offers a useful insight into the minds of Oxbridge-educated, metropolitan establishment types (I believe Kamm typifies the mentality; he is far from alone). Not only do they believe all immigrants are unequivocally good, but they cannot imagine any normal person holding the view that some might be bad, and assume everyone else will see the supposed absurdity as well. We should remember this next time one of their number appears in print, on Twitter, or on TV pontificating about something. They don’t inhabit the same world as ordinary people, and it shows.

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The Defenestration of Kevin Williamson

There’s a big fuss going on in the US right now over the decision of those running The Atlantic to fire the writer Kevin Williamson, who was only recently hired. This came after several days of liberals calling en masse for his sacking because in a recent podcast he had said he thought abortion should be illegal, and women who have them be treated the same as anyone else who commits homicide. He then went further and said they ought to be hanged.

Note that he didn’t say all women who have had an abortion should be hanged. He was simply arguing that abortion should be made illegal, and when it is illegal, women who have abortions should be charged with homicide. As a conservative position this is rather unremarkable, but these days expressing views which Obama held in his first term makes you a Nazi in liberal circles. His remarks about hanging women who breach any future laws on abortion were clumsy in hindsight, but he was speaking on a podcast not writing policy.

Anyway, liberals smelled blood in the water and screamed blue murder, and The Atlantic’s Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Goldberg fired Williamson:

The top editor emphasized that Williamson’s firing was not a result of his being anti-abortion—a common position for deeply religious Americans of all political stripes—but because of how his especially violent belief conflicts with the “values of our workplace.”

What he means is that employees at The Atlantic didn’t want to work with someone who held Williamson’s views, just as Google employees demanded management fire James Damore when they learned he held different opinions to them. Naturally, demented liberal feminists stepped forward to exaggerate, misrepresent, lie, and try to convince people they would actually feel unsafe around Williamson:

Such is the level of political debate in the US these days.

I don’t have an awful lot of sympathy for Williamson, however. People call him a conservative but I think at this stage it’s fair to ask any influential American who’s worn that label for more than 10 years what exactly they have conserved. From what I can tell, they’ve ceded so much ground to liberals they might as well stop pretending they’re anything else. Most Republican politicians would much rather be Democrats, and much the same could be said about the likes of Williamson: it goes without saying he was a “never Trumper” and would rather see Democrats running government than a Republican he doesn’t like. They made a decent living from saying stuff that was a little to the right of liberals, but never so far they’d upset them and be excluded from polite company in whichever metropolitan coastal city they reside. Ben Shapiro’s another one who’s done well at this, dismantling lunatic lefty arguments but making damned sure he doesn’t stray too far off the reservation and get tossed off any list of invitations. Consider the serious, right-wing concerns that any ordinary American conservative might have and see how many people outside the Alt-Right are actually speaking bluntly about them, and not just skirting around the issue with so many caveats and contradictions they might as well not have kept quiet.

The problem Williamson has, and this will catch people like Shapiro too, is the Overton window is narrowing at such an alarming rate that even opposing abortion can now get you hounded from your job by a baying mob of lunatic women and castrated men making ludicrous claims they’re being threatened with violence. Jeffrey Goldberg obviously has no balls, or is an idiot, or perhaps both, but if you build an entire career – as Williamson did – which is dependent on people like that, and consists mainly of keeping a close eye on not offending lunatics who despise you, then I can’t say I have much sympathy. Perhaps if he spent less time bashing Trump supporters he’d have seen this coming?

The real concern here is that a baying mob of lefty lunatics are expanding the scope of who they can hound from a job. It started in academia, now it’s moved onto journalism. It’s already creeping into tech. How long before this becomes commonplace, with anyone who expresses perfectly reasonable political views suddenly finding themselves fired from their jobs, and perhaps blacklisted from their industry? A lot of people are defending Goldberg and The Atlantic on the grounds that a private company should be able to hire and fire anyone they like, but we’re on dangerous territory. What are these blacklisted people supposed to do for a living, then? Others defend the likes of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube closing accounts of those with unapproved opinions, many of which are quite benign but fall foul of the self-appointed moral guardians of the left. Sure they’re private companies, but so are banks, insurers and electricity providers. How long before the wrong comment online causes a howling mob to descend on your health, travel, or car insurer, who suddenly pulls coverage? Or you find your credit card frozen? What options do wrong-thinkers have, short of starting their own company providing every kind of service they could ever want? And how long before everyone reading this blog is a wrong-thinker?

Something’s gone badly wrong, and liberal rent-a-mobs have found a way to seriously screw with the lives of those with different opinions while the government sits back and says “nothing to do with us”. Even if those mobs turn violent, as we see every time a “controversial” speaker is invited anywhere, we get the same line. We also get a lot of conservatives and libertarians defending the right of employers and service providers to fire someone or close their accounts when lunatics like Antonova bombard their email inboxes and Twitter feeds with unhinged rants like the one above, which makes me wonder if the right has grasped the gravity of the situation and where it could lead.

I don’t know what the solution is, and government intervention will only make things worse, but they could at least get out of the way. Having tens of millions of people in protected, unionised government jobs or working in taxpayer-funded organisations who are able to mobilise and demand CEOs of private companies clobber their political opponents is something which probably ought to be addressed. Otherwise I don’t really know, but I can see there is a problem and I’m confident in saying it won’t end well.

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If gates are left open, people will walk through them

This, from Brendan O’Neill, is worth a read:

[T]he political elites cannot come out and say ‘We no longer want Britain to be a democratic sovereign nation’. So they developed a pseudo-progressive language to describe and justify their weakening of British sovereignty. They claim to be post-borders. They argue that the nation state is over. They say any defence of the nation is nationalism, and nationalism is dangerous. They insist that in a globalised world it is futile to try to erect borders against flows of people or goods or capital, and so on. And they seem ignorant of the message that their anti-borders, anti-nation political myopia sends to both the British people and the world at large. It tells British people their views don’t really matter, certainly not as much as cleverer people in Brussels. And it tells the world that Britain is a pretty porous place, not really that keen on protecting its borders. That it is a post-country, effectively, beholden to external influence and flows rather than being assertively, democratically sovereign. Perhaps now we might think about the kind of message this self-denuding cult of post-nationhood sends to more confident nations like Russia.

Indeed, we should not be surprised that a nation whose political and intellectual elites continually say ‘We are post-nation and we are open to the flows and fluxes of the globe’ might also find itself more open to the opportunism of states that have scores to settle here. After all, we effectively said: ‘We have no borders.’

I have to say, having seen over the last few years acts of despicable violence carried out on British soil by people who were in every meaningful sense foreigners (and in some cases unequivocally so), I find the outrage over Russians running about killing people a little…inconsistent. If Putin were a little less pasty and a bit more Muslim, I doubt we’d be making such a fuss. I’d find all this tough talk over Russia a lot more convincing if we’d not been so pathetically weak in every other area of national security, protecting the public, and looking out for our long-term interests.

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Thanks to Trump, North Korea is talking

Well fancy that:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has hosted a dinner for senior South Korean delegates – the first time officials from Seoul have met the young leader since he took office in 2011.

The South Korean president’s office confirmed the meeting shortly after the delegates’ arrival on Monday.

The 10-member team is in Pyongyang for talks partly aimed at restarting dialogue between the North and the US.

Relations between the Koreas have warmed following last month’s Olympics.

In an unprecedented move, the South Korean delegation includes two ministerial-level envoys – intelligence chief Suh Hoon and National Security adviser Chung Eui-yong.

During the two-day visit, the South Korean group will focus on establishing conditions for talks aimed at getting rid of the North’s nuclear weapons as well as dialogue between the US and Pyongyang.

A couple of months ago we were told Trump’s rhetoric on North Korea and juvenile tweeting was bringing the world to the brink of nuclear Armageddon. Turns out bitch-slapping Rocketman has given him pause for thought.

This subject came up on BBC news this morning, and a discussion took place between the presenter and guest that went approximately as follows:

Presenter: Doesn’t this show that talking is more productive than threats?

Guest: Well, in all honesty I think Donald Trump has forced the North Koreans to resume talks.

Presenter: Really? But…

Guest: Yes, I think this is down to Donald Trump.

Presenter: But don’t you think it has more to do with the tightening of sanctions, and the UN?

Guest: Yes, but it was Trump that tightened the sanctions and brought the issue of North Korea to the UN to begin with.

Presenter: Oh. Really, but don’t you think…

Guest: Yes, really, I know it’s an unpopular view, but I think the reason North Korea is now cooperating is because of Donald Trump.

Presenter, looking as though she’s eaten a turd: Okay, well moving on…

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A Brace of British Brownshirts

A few years ago, when I was roaming the wilds of the planet with various oil companies, I was sat with my sister, who is a journalist, pitching ideas for a story at her. I could have directed her towards umpteen utterly scandalous situations, but each time she said:

“But what’s the British angle? For a British publication, there has to be a British interest in it somewhere.”

Flicking open The Guardian yesterday, it seems establishing a British angle is a lot easier than I thought. Consider this article by Natalia Antonova (yes, she of “survivor” fame):

From Britain to Ukraine, the far right is thriving on shared emotion

And what better person to delve into the British national psyche than “a Ukrainian journalist and playwright based in New York”?

While reports of Britons being recruited by Ukrainian neo-Nazis to fight in a war against Russia appear to be somewhat exaggerated – two men hardly constitutes some sort of far-right stampede to the eastern edge of Europe – this is a good time to remember that hate is on the upswing, and to think of it as a localised phenomenon is to miss the bigger picture.

Two unnamed men hardly constitutes anything, but is more than enough to justify running the author’s garbled opinions in The Guardian. British angle, indeed.

Members of the Ukrainian and the Russian far right are willing to riddle each other with very many bullet holes over such issues as the legacy of the second world war, and who the real heroes were. Ask them about abortion, however, or feminism, or migration, or antisemitism, or LGBT rights, or human rights in general, or, for that matter, government transparency and accountability, and suddenly these mortal enemies will seem more like good buddies who had a little tiff over history and national identity but will happily join forces to oppress whoever gets in their way, should the current conflict come to an end.

Warring militias on Russia’s borders don’t share the same social justice goals as a journalist in Brooklyn? Who knew? And note the casual assumption that anyone who opposes abortion is far right, and that a lack of government transparency and accountability is a hallmark of the same group. Because the left are paragons of virtue when it comes to those two things, aren’t they?

As the editors of the anarchist publication Nihilist.li have argued, “the differences between the Kremlin and Ukrainian fascists are tactical – not strategic … Both Russian and Ukrainian far-right groups have the same values and the same political ideal – crony capitalism.”

Good job those two British chaps allegedly went to Ukraine, isn’t it? Otherwise we’d be wondering why she doesn’t harangue some Ukrainians about this.

Ukraine’s problems with the far right are Britain’s problems, are Bulgaria’s problems, are Austria’s problems, and even, ultimately, Russia’s problems.

Eh? Why is it Britain’s concern that there might be far right Ukrainians? In the 2017 UK General Election, not a single far right party stood in any meaningful sense, let alone won. Even if we accept the left’s description of UKIP as being far right, they got wiped out. Is Antonova even aware of the makeup of Britain’s political parties?

In looking for solutions, we should consider the predicament the US now finds itself in – with a blatantly racist president who will reward any far-right group for as long as it sings his praises.

Presumably for reasons of space – or relevance – Antonova doesn’t cite a single one of these far right groups, nor how Trump rewarded them. But she calls him racist, so there’s that.

Reporters from elite publications are regularly parachuted into towns and districts that represent Trump’s “base” in order to file bewildered, slightly apocalyptic reports on how there are millions of Americans out there who do not care that the man they elected thinks there are “both sides” to a conflict involving murderous far-right violence.

Note that the problem here lies not with not bubble-dwelling “reporters from elite publications”, but the ordinary person who doesn’t subscribe to cartoon depictions of the US president.

Even as we continue to combat fake news, it has become glaringly obvious that facts alone won’t reach these racists and cheerleaders for racism – because support for Trump comes from a place that’s wholly different to the place where we compile and analyse facts.

She actually had the temerity to include this paragraph in an article whose entire premise rests on two unnamed “far right” Brits allegedly being recruited by Ukrainian neo-nazis.

Far-right advances across nations embolden the far right in other nations. This trend is likely to continue – and this is why a couple of Britons travelling to Ukraine to fight alongside neo-Nazis is something to take notice of.

Possibly at the editor’s insistence, we’re back to these two Brits again. Remember how often we were told not to worry about tens of thousands of citizens from European countries going to Iraq and Syria to fight with ISIS? That’s because the real issue is British neo-Nazis flocking to Ukraine in such numbers they couldn’t even form a relay team.

The causes of our current predicament can be debated – certainly a great number of economic and social factors are at play – but what matters is the simple realisation that what binds members of far-right groups can be exploited for good. Shared humanity, the idea of belonging to a common cause – these are the tools we have at our disposal if we wish to adequately address the rising tide of hate.

Somebody actually paid for this guff. True they only paid £90, but still.

To bring this back to Lakoff, what matters right now is not so much what far-right hate groups think, but what their members feel and believe.

Uh-huh. Now perhaps I’m being unfair. There’s no reason why a Ukrainian feminist living in Brooklyn should not be able to understand and write articles about British social issues in a national newspaper, so with that in mind I roamed around looking for what other insights she’s provided on the subject. And then I came across this:

Oh.

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