Lady Thatcher again

A few days ago I posted a blog about the death of Lady Thatcher and the abuse against her after her death. Forgive me if I sounded like a finger-wagging idealist who was all well-meaning but didn’t have the faintest clue what life was actually like for people who unemployed because of the closure of mines. I’m sure there are many heartbreaking stories of the effects of deindustrialisation – which Thatcher allowed to continue through the 1980s by stopping subsidising the mines, while doing very little to cushion the effects it had on the communities – and I can understand why there are very strong feelings about her premiership. And despite what I said about death being a universal experience, Margaret Thatcher was deliberately divisive, and David Winnick, a Labour MP since 1979, is right to say that it would be hypocritical for people who opposed her strongly at the time to keep their mouths shut and pretend not to feel the same way now. I wouldn’t mind betting Lady Thatcher would agree with him too. 

There will always be idiots in the world and I suppose the “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead” phenomenon, the abuse and the celebrations of her death are proof of that. But I won’t lump all of her critics in the same group as those people. Also, although I think she had admirable qualities and was certainly the most successful prime minister of the last thirty years, her admirers need to remember that she had flaws and she made mistakes. Peter Hitchens puts it well: “I advise both her enemies and her worshippers to remember that she was human – deserving in the hour of her death to be decently respected, but to be neither despised nor idolised. May she rest in peace.”

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Pat Condell – truth-teller or ignorant bigot?

This angry YouTuber is an insult to the many people who kind of agree with him

Pat Condell is an atheist YouTuber who’s in your face and not afraid to insult your religion or your political views. Whether you’re a Muslim, Christian, polite and/or pro-Muslim atheist, Europhile or “middle-class left-wing p***k”, be prepared for his angry wrath.

I used to regularly watch and quite like his videos. Being a former comedian, he has a rather amusing cynical sense of humour and there are some points he makes on Islam, multiculturalism and the EU that either I agree with or are at least extreme mirror images of my opinion.

He has always been subject to controversy, with a lot of popularity (with 164,114 subscribers to his channel as of today) as well as criticism, from the usual accusations of intolerance, racism or “Islamophobia” to malicious death threats (that’s actually a huge understatement if you click on the link).

But a lot of criticism against him is very well-founded. In particular he seems to have become a lot more extreme of late, and his two most recent videos are testament to that. In one, “Insulting religion”, he gratuitously does exactly what the title suggests and appears to blame Islam and Christianity for all the evils in the world. Yes, you have a right to insult religion, but please keep a bit of perspective.

The other video, “An illiberal consensus”, is the one where I got the “middle-class left-wing p***ks” quote from. He keeps repeating this infantile name-calling throughout the video to describe the Guardian and the BBC. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a Guardianista either, but when he uses such labels to attack people who disagree with him, he stoops below the level of many people he criticises.

His claim of BBC bias is a reasonable one I might be inclined to agree with, and again I don’t agree with everything the Guardian says. I also agree it’s a shame that the Yes campaign lost the AV referendum because they were too close-minded and stubbornly limited the campaign to lefties. (See Telegraph blogger Ed West’s convincing take on this matter.) Please don’t insult these views by resorting to infantile personal attacks.

You know, I’m no fan of extremist Islam, and – while I don’t accept his conspiracy theory that from the start, multiculturalism was all about Islamization – I think it’s a misguided philosophy. But what is the solution? Banning sharia law and shutting down extremist mosques is all very well, but what else do we need? Integration between ethnic and religious minorities and the rest of us. And I’m afraid, Pat, that integration is a two-way process. So instead of just attacking Islam, we also need to:

a) Have a healthy, civic nationalist sense of pride in our nation and values, including tolerance.

b) Accept Muslims and all other minorities as fellow citizens (this seems to be a passive feeling that many non-prejudiced Britons have, that Muslims are somehow different)

Judging by Mr Condell’s videos, it seems that he has a long to way to go in achieving these things. He, and a depressing number of other people, stubbornly thinks it’s only Muslims who have to change, and he has no obligation to do anything other than insulting people. Well good for you, Mr Condell, but don’t expect to change anything with that attitude.

EDIT: I now regret some of the language I used, specifically calling Mr. Condell a bigot. (25.13.14)