Saturday, November 19, 2005
  I Will Not Be Intimidated!!
The sounding words from every nationalist's mouth. And also the underlying message that got America into a war that's left them knee-deep in debt, fallen soldiers and a very very unpopular national image amongst other things, that have coagulated into very thick shit indeed.
I often pondered if nationalism should be viewed the same way as racism. Globalisation seems to blur the borders of the world today and I wonder if there is any real need to proclaim how great one's country is considering that everyone's patriotism and loyalty soley depends on the soil on which they were born. But ultimately, I believe the world would be a severely uninteresting place without pride of such individualities, and perhaps like everything else, nationalism should be used in moderation. The line is crossed when supremacy is claimed in the realms of nationality, race, gender, etc.
nationalism (
n 1: love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it [syn:
patriotism] 2: the doctrine that your national culture and interests are superior to any other [ant: multiculturalism, internationalism] 3: the aspiration for national independence felt by people under foreign domination 4: the doctrine that nations should act independently (rather than collectively) to attain their goals
It is evident from the example of the Iraq war that such self-proclaimed patriots of America will easily heed to immediate retaliations against foreign aggression and only leave them as blind followers and softer targets for support of Bush's ultimate agenda. Like the analogy mentioned in my previous post, a blind man will go out fighting and everything and anything without knowing what it is exactly he's fighting for. Nationalism brings with it arrogance and ignorance. Disregard for public opinion in spite of mass protests on a global scale, disapproval by the UN and even when weapons inspections showed nothing. To say the least, nationalists, just like racists, can never be persuaded by any amount to think otherwise.

And in the wake of Van Nguyen's set date for execution, an Australian drug trafficker arrested in Singapore, the similar stench of nationalism fills the air. The dissent by Australian media and campaigners has incited and brought forth chest-thumping ape-like nationalists hollering "I will not be intimidated!" It's a reflex action of such types of course. Similar to the renaming of 'french fries' to 'freedom fries' amongst other French put-downs by Americans when the French did not show military support for the war. Ultimately, I wonder if Singaporeans will face retribution in Australia. When the world is kicking up political awareness and the Nguyen case in Singapore, only silence is heard from the student societies (and indeed ambassadors of their country). Are the future leaders of the country earning an overseas education lacking spirit to defend their country's name or campaign against it? Or is it more worrying that they are quite comfortable sitting on the fence? The lack of opinion or ability to engage such issues when foreigners clearly have one only seems to highlight an embarassing level of apathy.
Now with calls for boycotts of several Singaporean industries within Australia, there is a mounting tension. Australians are dead serious about the death penalty (no pun intended) enacted on a man who cooperated 100% and even leaked information to authorities. While Singaporeans still seem oblivious. Silent by apathy. Silent for fear of retribution. Life goes on. Only time will tell if boycotts will amount to anything more than a dent in the economy. And if it should snowball such that Singaporeans overseas will face the consequence of their past silence, then you cannot complain except to start stitching the Malaysian flag onto your bagpack.
"Some say better early than sorry. I say better late than never."
Friday, November 11, 2005
  Dark and difficult times ahead for Potter
Would that by any chance be puberty? I couldn't help but realise earlier as I noticed on a bus-stop ad for the latest instalment, how everyone in the promo poster seems to be wearing very trendy "teenager" clothing..... except for Mr Potter himself and two other dork friends on the left.

Maybe it's just me, but it looks as if at least Hermion is shedding the rediculous cloaks and make-belief fairytales.

...and Harry is somewhat "stuck".
  Help me to help you.
During the course of the debate over the death penalty, those supporting the clemency for a drug trafficker currently on death row have drawn a divide between those who are for partial abolishment (drug trafficking only) and total abolishment. Some have been called 'hipocritical' for their partiality and criticising them of their real moral grounds.

Eventually when one is pissed off enough, a barrage albeit articulate barrage of words can see some interesting arguments. In particular, I liked this analagous dialogue:

"The problem is that if you do not really what your guiding principles are, then you will essentially end up with a George Bush type of problem.

You invade Iraq and kill people. You say it's because Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and these must be found and destroyed. Then it turns out that Saddam has no WMDs. So you say that actually you're invading Iraq and killing people because Saddam has terrorist links, and so you continue to stick around in Iraq and kill people. Then it turns out that Saddam has no terrorist links, and that terrorist attacks continue to take place merrily around the world even though Iraq is quite incapacitated. So you then say actually you're attacking Iraq because you want to bring peace, democracy etc to Iraq. Then you're found abusing Iraqi prisoners of war in Abu Gharaib, and you're hand out highly lucrative commercial contracts to your own US companies to rebuild Iraq. And up to today, there is STILL no democracy and freedom and peace in Iraq - although their hospitals and infrastructure and water supply systems are still devastated.

And then you wonder why so much of the world hates the US, and why American students travelling in other countries today sew Canadian flags on their backpacks and pretend to be Canadian. Meanwhile your troops are still stuck in Iraq; you have no graceful way to pull them out; and the costs of the war continue to escalate. And your own US citizens distrust you.

This is an analogy to what I think is likely to happen if you're not clear about what exactly it is about the death penalty you're objecting to. You will muddy everything up and cause problems for yourself. And you won't be able to solve them - because you simply don't even know WHAT you really want." - Mr Wang says so (comment on Singabloodypore article: The Death Penalty is Abhorrent. Full Stop.)

Even though I agree with Mr Wang on the total abolishment of the death penalty, I don't think it necessary to attack partial supporters...yet. Common ground is important if we are to have our loudest voices yet against it. And despite is excellent analogy, I don't think people who partially pursue its abolishment will face the same consequences as Bush and the American people.

But really, you have to love everything about the analogy.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
  Roads to peace in the Middle East
This is rapidly becoming bash-Melanie-Phillips week. I suppose a bigger man than myself would indulge in a forget-Melanie-Phillips week, and then, naturally, not have to remember to participate. Anyway, I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt between today and the next time she racially slurs the people of Palestine (I'd give her a week) to recognise one sad story with a beautiful ending that shows that these people are not some monolithic movement seeking the destruction of Israel ("The Palestinians", as she repeatedly calls them, regardless of whether they are the PA, Hamas or the ordinary population), but, like every other group in the world, a diverse bunch who canot be tarred with the same brush.
On ITN yesterday it was reported that the family of dead Palestinian 12 year old Ahmed al-Khatib agreed to donate his organs to Israeli children in what they called a "message of peace." While caught in a crossfire in a refugee camp Jenin, Khatib, who was wielding a toy rifle, was shot in the head by an IDF soldier. He died after visits to several different hospitals, leadig to the astoishing annoucement.
It was reported by Haaretz that the IDF were there to aprehend Islamic Jihad operatives. I hope the difference shown between these two factions of "The Palestinians" is not lost on her, and that she finds time, between the anticipated posts wailing about Tony's terror laws failing, to acknowledge this.
  The Holy Cow is wholly inappropriate
Nice to see that the tumultuous riots in Paris are useful for some of us. Just as bacteria take delight in migrating towards human waste, so various right-wing fanatics like the America satirist PJ O'Rourke jumped at the chance to gloat about the unrest. The registered Republican beefcake-fruitcake-nutcase was questioned on the events on Andrew Marr's political show, and his answer was really rather astonishing. He said that it was funny, since France couldn't have done more to support Saddam, and now, well just just look at this mess. I suppose someone should have told him that grown-ups were talking. So, while Andrew Marr described him as a "satirist", I was left wondering if there was some alternative definition to the word that I had yet to learn. He couldn't possibly have meant a commentator who employs irony and wit to poke fun at current events. His interpretation of "satirist" was a cretin who twists events in a moronic and witless afshion. After all, this was the man who once labelled us as "Euro-weenies" in his highly satirical book Holidays in Hell.
He's not the only right-winger from the US with a chip on his shoulder over France. On 06.07.05 John Gibson of Fox News said that he wanted Paris to win the nomination as host of the 2012 Olympics because it would have been a joy to see how they coped with the terrorist threats. The day after London was savagely attacked, and the same stupid prick remorsely stated that he wanted the Olympics in France so that they could blow up Paris, or, as he so nicely put it: "They'd blow up Paris, and who cares?"
In the UK we also have our fanatical morons. Melanie Phillips is more of a cultural and religious supremacist than a weenie-bashing nationalist. This is once more made evidently clear in her diary entry, where she once again seizes the chance to bash those non-western Muslims.
In the French and the majority of the British papers the riots are seen as the result of unemployment, a lack of integration, disenchantment with life as an immigrant, alienation, living in undeveloped or under-developed areas and poverty. David Aaronovitch, with whom she often sympathises, wrote in The Times yesterday: "c'est l'economie stupide." Such bothersome background details such as these are of no use to someone as stupide as Mrs Phillips. In her diary she angrilly and witlessly demands to know why more is not being made of the fact they are Muslim? Not in the sense that they are from a different culture it seems, but rather because perhaps their religion is turning them into hardcore jihadists.
The obvious reply to her is that their religion is next to irrelevant. It is well-known that the aforementioned background details provide us with the fuse, which was lit when two teenagers died in an electricity substation in a suburb of Paris. We don't kow if they were being chased by the police or panicked near a crime scene, but the result was a riot in the poor suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, which has a large population of penniless North African immigrants. The Islamic factor is rather absent here. As the influential professor Juan Cole wrote this morning:
"The young people from North African societies such as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia are mostly only nominal Muslims. They frequently do not speak much Arabic, and don't have "proper" French, either. They frequently do not know much about Islam and most of them certainly don't practice it-- much less being more virulent about it than Middle Easterners."
I myself have a well-paid job, am well-integrated with my fellow countrymen and feel not a trace of alienation here in my home country. If In were to convert to Islam, would this all go down the tubes in some crazed new quest to petrol bomb London? This woman is unbelievable. When her faith, Judaism, is omitted from a list of four world religions, used as a piece of bridge-building rhetoric (see below), she snarls that her religion is under attack and implies that he is an Anti-semite. Yet she rushes to her keyboard to attack other religions (I'm applying her standards here; if criticizing a Christian or Jew for their actions, religiously motivated or not, is bigottry, then it must follow that the same holds true for those who draw attention to Muslim crimes. In this case she fully deserves her 2003 accolade as "Most Islamophobic Media Personality of the Year" from the Islamic Human Rights Commission) in her diary.
To be fair, she does attempt give some evidence for her case by mentioning some worrying events in Denmark. She cuts and pastes the details out of some blog rather than getting them from a more widely known source, but no matter. On the BBC website it reports that a major Danish newspaper called Jyllands-Posten published some cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. To a Muslim this is outrageous since he is not allowed to be represented pictorially. Two of the illustrators received death threats, while there were demonstrations and riots. Shocking and abhorrent though this is, Melanie Phillips leaves out one detail that, while not excusing the developments, certainly gives them a bit more context than linking them to the Parisian violence (and implying some dormant jihadis are about to errupt on "Eurabia"). This detail is:
"A letter from the ambassadors said the cartoons published in Jyllands-Posten last month showed the Prophet as a stereotypical fundamentalist."
She doesn't allude to this. She reverts to the moronic and witless definition given above. She says they were "satirising" him. Ha ha ha ha. Mohammed as a fundamentalist. Almost as funny as Jesus being "satirised". I wonder what the reaction would be if some bright spark put Jesus in some lewd Jerry Springer opera. Think they would be good sports about it? Funny, because I seem to remember riots and death threats.
Anyway, the events in Denmark were indeed a ridiculous reaction and should not be allowed to encroach on freedom of expression (ditto the film-maker Theo Van Gogh, murdered almost a year to the day by fanatics in Holland). But what is the connection between the two stories? Are the riotters in Paris part of the same "cell" as the fools in Denmark? Who knows. Perhaps it is Jihad. Perhaps Al Qaeda are involved, and are pissed at France for not helping convert Iraq into a giant terrorist training camp and extremist recruitment centre. Or perhaps we should accept multiculturalism's benefits, sensibly address any of its excesses and not pave over or restrict the culture of others.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
  So is this "appeasement" or not?
Hu Jintao is here in London and once again the British government is falling head over heels to accommodate a tyrant. China has been the world leader in the number of executions carried out over the last few years, and its undemocratic rule crushes any dissent.

On Newsnight yesterday I had the pleasure to watch two opposing points of view on this visit. Mike Gapes MP, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Commitee was in favour of the visit, despite the, ahem, baggage. At one point he adequately summed up what the Blair government was saying, and simultaeneously what it should have been thinking, when he spluttered that it was important to have good "democrati- err, diplomatic relations". "Oh shit" he must have been thinking, "I'm a one-man Chinese whisper".

One the other side of the fence (I suppose Great Wall is better, but lets stick with dissing the government) was Liu Hongbin, who participated in the Tianammen Square demonstration, and still suffers under the Chinese government pressure aimed at him and his family. He graciously conceeded that Hu Jintao was a "human being", which is apparently more than Hu Jintao can bring himself to do when he sizez up his Falun Gong, Tibetan and Uighur opponents. But he also strongly criticised the UK for snuggling up to the world's fastest growing economy. Most importantly, he stated that Labour's "ethical foreign poicy was a joke". These are the people we want on our side, not some cruel tyranny which, no matter how rapidly it develops economically, is still in its democratic infancy. Blair and his cabinet should be pressing the Chinese government to develop peacefully in the direction of democracy, and more importantly, to form a strong human rights framework that stamps out torture, the death penalty and the confetti-burst of prison sentences dished out for the most insignificant trangressions. While in the past they have claimed to be doing this, the public are actually in the dark over what is going on here.

  Tell Tony he's Right
This was the front page of The Sun yesterday. It was also splashed across their website. The Sun want to use their influence to have us believe that Tony Blair is right.

The Sun told us that Tony Blair was right when he sucked up to Bush's America as part of his foreign policy.

The Sun told us that Tony Blair was right when he participated in the vicious and imperialistic bombing of Iraqi civillians.

The Sun told us that Tony Blair was right when he demanded that Afghan asylum seekers, fleeing from the hell-hole that was their country, should be sent back there because it was now safe.

The Sun told us that Tony Blair was right when he trashed the UN, even after Clare Short revealed that him and the US were bugging Kofi Annan's office.

Sun News: TERROR LAW: Tell Tony he's right

And now they think that he's right because he wants to put terror suspects behim bars for 90 days without charge, just on the suspicion that they may be up to no good.

So yes. Tell Tony he's right. Remind him that he's so far to the right that fascist The Sun backed him ahead of the Conservatives in the last election (in fact today, both Tory leadership candidates, David Davies and David Cameron are "Dumb and Dumber" on the front page of The Sun because they refuse to endorse this draconian measure) because he so effortlessly embraces the sort of neo-liberal domestic and foreign agenda that people like Rupert Murdoch want to see.

Tell Tony he's right. And while you're at it, tell Rupert "shitbag" Murdoch that Hell is a damn-sight hotter than The Sun.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
  This Holy Cow has some holey arguements
It's been a busy week for crazy Melanie Phillips.Her expert analysis of the Parisian riots will come later (for those who don't like surprises, it will not disappoint you to know that she blames the Muslims. Originality is one of the many things that cannot be said to be her strong point), but first I'd just like to take a moment to give her a belated smackdown for her crass and ignorant drivel regarding the address given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, at St Paul's Cathedral. Dr Williams, who I have always found to be a rather intelligent man, well-endowed with humanity and tolerance, was giving a sermon in memory of the terrorist atrocities in London in July.
At one point he said:

‘There is one thing that is always common to any sort of terrorist action, wherever it happens and whoever performs it. It aims at death – not the death of anyone in particular, just death. It does not matter to the killers if their victims are Christian or Muslim, Hindu or Humanist; what matters is that they show that they can kill where they please.’

Which regrettably provided her with a pretext to say:

"Anyone spot the omission in the list of victims? Yup – he left out the Jews. OK, let’s not jump to conclusions here. Let’s be charitable. Let’s think of some reasonable reasons why he omitted the people who are specifically targeted for genocide and ethnic cleansing by Islamic fascism and who in Israel are in the front line of attack in the jihadi war on the free world (not to mention the fact that three victims of the London bombings were Jews). Maybe he just selected a few random faiths with a pin. Maybe inserting a monosyllable here would have ruined the poetic symmetry of his sentence. Maybe his washing machine blew up just as he was typing J… and he forgot the rest of what he was going to say.
Or maybe he just doesn’t think of Jews as being victims of Islamic terrorism at all because he thinks of Jewish victims as Israelis. And Israelis, in the eyes of so many in the CofE, are a different category of people altogether. They are not victims but oppressors. In the new moral order that the church represents, Jews may once have been victims – safely in the past -- but Israelis are the new Nazis. So when Israelis are incinerated by the unspeakable atrocity of human bomb terrorism – merely the latest weapon in the fifty-year genocidal war against them -- they become for the Church of England as invisible as those who fell out of favour with Communism and were airbrushed out of the pictures. Shame on him."

Obviously such noble sentiments were not to the taste of narrow minded bigots. Her definition of not jumping to conclusions is particularly indicative of the mind at work here. Without jumping to conclusions she paints him as a racist and a man who sees some victims as not mattering when they are killed by terrorists (or "fascists, just in case today's buzzwords is not as shocking enough). This is her idea of being charitable.

Well, lets not be charitable. Lets do the obvious thing and LOOK AT WHAT HE ACTUALLY SAID. This is a real drag when you are trying to smear somebody. He said "There is one thing that is always common to any sort of terrorist action, wherever it happens and whoever performs it". Now, does this preclude people of the Jewish faith? Is there a hidden code that everybody who didn't pick up their brain in a second-hand charity shop failed to notice? If Dr Williams thinks differently then it is for him to say, and not for her to fabricate.

Her careless brandishing of Anti-semitism can deceive the wingnuts who read her website on a daily basis with ass-licking fidelity (yet are prevented from making comments on her blog, most the most likely reason being that any dissent would show just how out nof her depth she is) but fall apart under the slightest scrutiny. Unlike Christian, Hindu and Muslim, Jew denotes a religion and an ethnicity. Blurring the two meanings can make anybody look more vicious, and of course racist, than they mean to be. While European Anti-semitism really exploded as a racist and sickening force from the 19th century onwards, its original European roots lay in religious differences. The Christians abhorred the Jews for their religion and culture. They wanted them to convert and repent. Needless to say, you cannot convert or repent your ethnicity, and that is why the Jews in Nazi Germany and the Palestinians today (to different degrees, lest I be accused of comparing Hitler to Sharon) suffered so horribly. This distortion needs to be in the reader's mind, otherwise she will get away with this nonsense.

This distinction becomes particularly relevant when discussing Israel, which was created as a state for those of the Jewish ethnicity after the Holocaust. The fact that its official position is to maintain this religious and ethnic character has caused oppression against the Arab population who live in pitiful conditions. Now, its true that there is a huge amount of Arab terrorism being directed against their oppressors, but this is certainly not a direct response to the fact that the population is Jewish. If you're living as a second class citizen in what you believe to be your own land, you wont give a damn who your oppressors are. Because of the racist policies of the Israeli government, and the often horrendous responses by groups like Hamas (who would be marginilised in more civilized conditions) this cannot be said to be religious oppression. Also, just a thought while we're on the subject of terrorism, it might pay if she recognised now and again that Muslims (I'm using her contextual scheme here. I'd call them Arabs) have also been the victim of terrorism and oppression. She refuses to acknowledge events like Deir Yassin, the Irgun bombing of the King David Hotel, the Stern Gang, the bombing of teh PLO headquarters in Tunis in 1985 and the fact that Begin and Shamir were former terrorist leaders. When Kingdom of Heaven dared to show Muslims as the victims of the Crusades she referred to it as "The moral exhaustion of the west" and "cultural suicide". Pointing out that Christians and Jews are capabale of terrorism too seems bleeding obvious, but since she believes in one set of standards for her favourite groups and another for what she sees as outsiders I feel no guilt whatsoever.

Still, lets be charitable to Mrs Phillips and make this a religious issue. In his address Dr Williams referred to Christians (he is one, so were most of the victims), Muslims (a rather obvious and inclusive gesture; the decent thing to do) and Hindus. This is what really pissed her off. Maybe he didn't want to look too monotheistic. Maybe he didn't want to be too western-orientated. Perhaps, in a fit of democratic political correctness he remembered that there are 900 million of them in the world, while there are only 14 million who practice Judaism. Perhaps he even stooped so low as to remember the very recent atrocity in Hindu-dominated India, which took more lives than the London bombings. Had he mentioned Jews, would Sikhs, who are also more numerous in London and across the world, feel cheated? By any sensible criteria they are not a pre-requisite. The fact that he mentioned humanists reminded us that most terrorist goals today are not religious in their aims, even though their perpetators may hail from different cultures.

This address also displeased the British Humanist Association, who were dismayed by the lack of non-religious representation. It seems very few groups were too happy, but they should all bear in mind that for a Chrsitain to acknowledge them, no matter what their faith, is a sign of how far we have come. To fragment this unity into stupid religious squabbling would be the real cultural suicide. And that was the Archbishop's most important point. His sermon stated that any group could be targetted, and that no matter the faith, it would always be a loss. Such intelligence and consideration washes away the bile of hypocritical charlatans like crazy Melanie, and reminds us that talking tough is no match for thinking clearly.

Melanie Phillips: If you were this stupid you'd tear all your hair out too.
  High horses, armchairs and strawmen
Phew, the past few days have almost been exhausting in the mental sense of the word. A fire is raging. Or has been raging. The constant battle between logic and illogic, and the constant stream of ignorance leading to an overkill dejavu of arguments.

The debate has been over the death penalty, sparked by the announcement that an Australian drug trafficker caught with over 300g of heroin is to be executed this month (see Singabloodypore). By Singapore law, carrying over 15g of heroin calls for a mandatory death sentence.

Looking forward to a much constructive debate over this issue however, it seems the only real opposition consists of conservative, pro death penalty Singaporeans who come in with all guns blazing away firing 'blank' arguments with nothing to really aim at. How truly disappointing. To see the man dance between the logic and illogic, go to this thread. But I warn you to prepare yourself as it somewhat creates a tendancy to pull head and facial hair out towards the end of the 50 odd comments. It is like a ritual dance between the two that transcends into a spiral of repetitive "strawman" arguments that hold no water, armchair commenters contradicting themselves, and those who just find it too damn comfortable on their high horses, all blending into one strobing light that eventually causes an epileptic fit to the logical.

Personally, I do not support the death penalty. And I have submitted my own perspective on this here. I'm so lucky that stupid people do not transmit their allergens over the Internet.
Friday, November 04, 2005
  Love Symptoms: Everywhere. Now.
An outbreak of pandemic love is sweeping the nation. SRL News reports.

Originally from

"Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere." - George W. Bush (March 24, 2004)

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