Why this statue’s fall should concern us all

Following the bloody events in Charlottesville over the weekend, the Durham (North Carolina) branch of the Workers World Party (WWP) held a rally of solidarity in support of those “anti-fascist” protesters who clashed with Unite the Right marchers on that tragic day.

The WWP website reports that there were over 100 protesters present at this solidarity rally, during which a statue dedicated to the Confederate soldiers of the Civil War was pulled off its plinth and onto the ground. Video of the incident was uploaded to the internet and has since become worldwide news, clocking up well in excess of 100,000 views.

To the credit of local law enforcement, one of the main instigators of this illegal act has since been arrested and charged with various offences such as incitement to riot and damage to property.

Regardless of anyone’s opinion on the merits of Confederacy monuments, the County Sheriff’s office were absolutely right to take action against the main instigator of this event, WWP member Takiya Fatima Thompson. She remains predictably unrepentant, and she has amassed an army of online cheerleaders to help fight her cause. This glaring example of highly selective and conditional support for the rule of law is indicative of a growing and disturbing trend within Western civilisation generally and the US in particular.

I’m going to spell it out here, because it’s so fundamentally important. Simply not liking the guy who sits in the Oval Office is no justification for activists to thumb their noses at the law because they feel strongly about a particular issue; and it makes no difference even if they really, really can’t stand the current President. The strength of someone’s feelings is not magically connected to their obligation to behave legally.

Supporters of Takiya Thompson are predictably falling back on the argument that citizens have a moral duty to resist tyrannical and oppressive regimes, and they might have a point if we were discussing arbitrary arrests or the suspension of habeas corpus; but we’re not anywhere near that. We are in fact talking about a bronze statue that’s been standing quietly in North Carolina since the 1920s. Whatever its faults, that statue has never harmed anyone, abused their rights, selectively enforced the law or ended someone’s career for daring to express an opinion which does not conform to some inflexible and yet ever-changing criteria.

The Durham statue incident perfectly illustrates the rise of a new and pernicious tyranny which comes, as always, dressed in the disguise of justice and progress. Whether it’s hounding law abiding citizens out of their jobs, protesting the results of legitimate plebiscites or tearing down legally erected statues, the same hollow arguments ring out from megaphones across the civilised world as an increasingly self-righteous and self-regarding minority seek to impose their will through brute force and social intimidation.

If the North Carolina legislators have any regard for their own authority then the Boy in Gray must rise again. In time he may fall, but let him fall lawfully and with honour. Let him not be spirited away to some undisclosed warehouse, hidden from polite society as an inconvenience to be avoided rather than a sacred principle to be defended.

According to CNN, the assembled crowd chanted “we are the revolution” as the statue fell. If, as I suspect, that plinth remains empty, then a legitimately selected legislature will have allowed the Workers World Party to decide which images the good people of North Carolina may and may not look upon as they go about their lawful business.

With results like that, who needs elections?

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Revealed: The World’s Biggest Blowhard (and it’s not Donald Trump)

Either large swathes of the media class have lost their ability to reason clearly, or they are deliberately choosing to ignore the wealth of evidence that suggests North Korea is nowhere near as combat ready as it would have the world believe.

Now I’ll admit that’s a pretty bold statement, but that insular country’s latest missile launch is a perfect example of rhetoric leaving reality far behind. Let’s abandon the spin and consider the known facts for a moment.

We know that on Tuesday morning, North Korea launched what appears to be some kind of intercontinental ballistic missile. Given that country’s pathological propensity for pretentious self-aggrandisement, does anyone think it a little odd that the only record of that momentous, paradigm shifting event is a single series of still photographs? I do.

Let’s not forget that we’re talking about a country whose biggest export appears to be video footage of its seemingly endless parades celebrating this or that glorious revolutionary whatever. We’ve all seen those terrifying looking trucks trundling past the camera dozens of times now…trundling past mind, not actually performing in the field anywhere. For a nation that defines itself by its military might, its air force seems painfully shy at these bombastic occasions…funny that.

North Korea reminds me of the blotch-faced blowhard at the end of the bar. He always has a lot to say about this or that conflict somewhere in the world, based on his own extensive experience in Iraq, or was it Afghanistan; you know, while he was in the Army, or was that the Navy? The details are always just vague enough to be unverifiable.

Whatever you may think of his North Korea policy, President Trump has now sent two (or maybe three) US carrier groups to that part of the world, and they are bringing a clear message with them. That message is clear because US carrier groups have seen action in the past, their activities and capabilities are known and have been recorded countless times. In other words, the existence of US carrier groups has been proven beyond any doubt. The same cannot be said of North Korea’s alleged conventional forces, let alone its alleged nuclear capabilities.

Does anyone think, for one second, that if big Kim possessed anything like a US carrier group that there would be any doubt as to its real-world existence? It would be steaming across the globe and causing a nuisance everywhere it goes; and as for the accompanying propaganda, my God, we’d never hear the end of it. Even microscopic life outside this galaxy would be aware that chubby Kim junior has a got great big boat and he’s not afraid to use it.

However, recorded and verified history tells a very different story of North Korea, revealing a country that simply cannot continue to exist without outside help. That lack of self-reliance was tragically demonstrated after the Soviet Union collapsed, leading to a famine in which hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions perished. Today it continues to rely on foreign aid from its avowed enemies, and still can’t manage to pour concrete in a straight line. Here’s a link to some footage of them apparently building a massive apartment complex in Pyongyang, but look closely, what’s wrong this picture?

There are hardly any machines! Where are the diggers, the earth movers and the core drillers? The official State news channel is probably the only place you’re likely to see any technology of that kind hard at work. Are we really expected to believe that a nation unable to muster a modest amount of construction equipment is capable of producing a miniaturised atomic device, and fitting it to a missile that can break orbit and then descend to a pre-designated point? In other words, real rocket science. That’s without even mentioning all the sprawling secondary industries required to support such a technically demanding endeavour. I’m calling bull**** on this whole Potemkin pretence right now!

Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe that North Korea has indeed launched some kind of missile, but I’ll bet real, folding money that they didn’t build it themselves. It’s worth noting that the top secret, uber secure launch site is less than forty miles from the Chinese border. That can’t be a coincidence.

For all China’s public protestations about North Korea’s belligerent behaviour, nobody in that insular and impoverished nation so much as puts food in their own mouths without Beijing’s blessing. It is a terrible indictment of our current world order that a permanent member of the UN Security Council has knowingly kept the North Koreans on starvation rations for nearly a quarter of a century, all in the name of keeping US troops far away from its own borders. In reality, North Korea is just one huge Chinese buffer zone, and always has been.

This latest missile launch is not a show of strength, it’s a sign of desperation. There is no way that either Pyongyang or Beijing would risk the ire of the most powerful military the world has ever known, unless they believed their decades long bluff was about to be called.

The Soft 48

So the unofficial Brexit election is officially on, and already there’s talk in the mainstream press about a possible Lib-Dem resurgence. Given that they’re currently languishing at about 11% in the polls along with UKIP and others, that seems like wishful thinking.

There can be little doubt that the newly crowned party of the diehard Remainer will wrestle a few trendy metropolitan seats from the Conservatives. The kind of constituencies that boast expensive coffee served up by migrants who sleep four to a room. However, the Remainers’ resurgence will be much smaller than Mr Farron might hope, and his dream of a sizeable Parliamentary presence is nothing more than a pleasant fantasy. Wishing doesn’t make it so, and the 48% is much softer and more diverse than the hardcore Remainers have talked themselves into believing.

Throughout the ensuing blizzard of post-referendum dialogue in the mainstream press and on the internet, the single biggest complaint among Brexiteers seems to be the fact that their opponents continually characterise them as poorly educated, bigoted and probably racist little Englanders.

Unfortunately for the committed Remain camp, just a few seconds of sustained rational thought will reveal the ridiculous implausibility of 17.4 million people voting to leave the European Union through an irrational xenophobic hatred of those people in this world who are most like themselves. With that especially spiteful and deluded label rightly consigned to the dustbin of discourse, it’s equally important not to blithely write off the 16.1 million who voted to remain as soulless, humourless, identikit authoritarians, hell bent on stealing political power from a European demographic they despise as an intransigent blot on their blueprint for a supreme European superstate.

Such a mischaracterisation of remain voters is insulting to their intelligence, motives and aspirations for the UK, and within that easy demolition of such a crude caricature lies the truth that will soon expose the shallowness of Remain’s support pool.

The one thing that has not yet been spoken about through all of the pre-and post-referendum autopsy are the forces that really drove intelligent, articulate individual voters to align themselves with the increasingly authoritarian, remote and unpopular bureaucratic class embodied by the EU. It’s highly unlikely that the vast majority of those 16.1 million citizens were guided by snobbery or elitism, and it’s much more likely that Project Fear had persuaded them to rationally cast their votes in favour of the lesser evil. After all, why take the risk?

Ten months on from that momentous day, we are a good deal further down the road and we all have a little more perspective on the landscape through which we travel. Many Remain leaning publications are still shivering on their widow’s walks, fervently scanning a distant horizon for even the slightest signs of Bregret, from anyone, anywhere. This has led them into the unfortunate habit of making themselves look foolish when they smugly declare that the malaise has taken hold among the leave supporting troglodyte class. When it clearly hasn’t.

Whilst they are busily searching for signs of weakness in their enemy’s defences, they’ve remained blissfully unaware of the mutinous mutterings much closer to home.

If anyone cares to stop shouting and listen carefully, they may hear the distant approach of a growing insurgent army of Remain deserters who feel they’ve been thoroughly hoodwinked by a dishonest establishment. An increasing number of these reluctant Remainers are actually glad that Britain is leaving an EU that they never really loved, now that the Project Fear hoax has been exposed as a cynical campaign of coercion and misinformation.

Some commentators are already touting Theresa May’s snap election as Brexit referendum 2.0 and are dutifully preparing to reboot Project Fear as the spectre of a “disastrous hard Brexit” is predictably conjured up. They seem to be wilfully ignorant of the unknown but growing number of recanting Remainers who are just waiting to throw their weight behind our now certain exit from the EU. The scales have fallen from their eyes and they now see that the emperor wears no clothes.

They won’t get fooled again, and come June 8th, they will have their revenge.

Show me the Money!!

So, the pint guzzling, tab smoking scourge of civilised society has been hard at it again. Sensitive and enlightened souls are still picking themselves up from their carbon neutral reclaimed hardwood floors across a huge swathe of North London and the Cotswolds following this latest cultural and political mugging by the emboldened hoody of European populism.

While the Daily Mail characterises the former UKIP leader’s deliberately and unnecessarily provocative language as an act of defiance, the Guardian predictably paints Wednesday morning’s fiery exchanges as proof positive that the EU is attempting to reach a reasonable accommodation in the face of ongoing nationalist hostility. Business as usual.

Leaving the screeching hyperbole of frothing Brexiteers and finger wagging Remainers aside for a moment, if that’s even possible, we actually find ourselves on wearyingly familiar territory once again. All the noise emanating from Strasbourg this week boils down to the fact that Brexit means Brexit, and the UK cannot cherry pick the benefits of EU membership.

Okay, we get it, we heard you. No really, we did…ages ago, before we even voted in the referendum.

You know, as somebody who voted to leave the EU, I can say for sure that both my leave and remain voting friends are sick to the back teeth of hearing these increasingly clichéd and hackneyed phrases. It’s almost as though the big guns on either side believe that their opposite numbers are so monumentally dense that they cannot grasp these simple ideas, even though Theresa May has repeatedly stated that the UK will not seek to remain within the European single market or the customs union. Therefore, it is not clear to me where all this talk of cherry picking is coming from. Nobody’s asking for cherries.

One thing that has become increasingly clear is that Mr Farage is a man who thrives on controversy and confrontation, so we shouldn’t be surprised that he’s taking this opportunity to stick it to the European establishment while he still can. After all, he’ll have to find another platform after 2019, but I don’t think that will be too much of a problem for him.

The difficulty with someone like Farage is that he is most definitely a Marmite character, which leads people to either cheer ecstatically the moment he appears on screen or simply switch off. While these are admittedly heartfelt responses, neither lends itself to actually hearing the position he is espousing on any given topic.

One can always tell when Farage is in the chamber, as there’s a knot of expectant reporters and cameramen gathered whenever he is about to deliver one of his historically bruising and deliberately insensitive monologues. Whether you love him or loathe him, Farage has succeeded in making himself the single most famous MEP in the history of the European Parliament.

Wednesday morning’s verbal assault began with Nigel Farage’s entirely predictable condemnation of the European Union as bullying, dictatorial and undemocratic. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone as such attacks are both his trademark and how he makes his living, which leads me to suspect that even an EU offer of a free gold bar to every child of woman born would be viewed with suspicion, and characterised as a form of bribery or financial coercion.

That said, the former UKIP leader did raise a couple important points that actually are worthy of serious discussion.

First was the vexed and increasingly malleable “divorce bill” which ranges from a straightforward payment of €60 billion, through various permutations of assets and liabilities and ends up the EU owing us an unspecified number of billions. Behind all the bluster and grandstanding, Mr Farage did make the very valid point that, at the moment, all of these figures appear to have been just plucked from the air. Maybe the EU is right and we do actually owe them a couple of well stacked pallets of clingfilmed currency, but the conspicuous absence of any supporting calculations is making this writer increasingly sceptical. The quicker we all put some meat on these bones the better, then at least we’ll have something solid to argue about. At the moment we’re all just shouting at smoke.

The other point which is well worth remembering was that Farage was quite correct when he pointed out that the UK did not in fact join the European Union in 1973, for the simple reason that the European Union did not come into existence until 1992 when the Maastricht Treaty was signed by the member states of the then European Community. Bearing this in mind, it’s quite revealing that the demographic who voted most strongly in favour of leaving the European Union is the same group who would’ve been old enough to vote in the 1975 plebiscite. Can this possibly be a coincidence? Naturally there is an army of bloggers and wailing commentators who see this as a vindication of their unfounded view that the grammar school generation is inherently xenophobic, probably a bit racist and certainly less well educated than their younger, intellectual superiors. The more likely explanation is that the older generation is the one that feels most abused and betrayed by the EU. When speaking to my father’s friends, I’ve found that they are almost of one voice in expressing their desire to leave because they feel they’ve been duped and deceived. The European Union of today doesn’t remotely resemble any trading bloc they voted to join…and we all know it.

In fact, the 2016 referendum has been the first and only time that the UK population has been offered any kind of meaningful choice as to whether they wished to be a part of “the ever closer union” of the European project. Their answer was clear enough.

If the European Project’s democratic deficit had been honestly confronted back in the nineties and not swept under the carpet, then smothered by an increasingly authoritarian EU and aided by a sycophantic, out of touch media class then history might’ve been very different.

Alas we’ll never know, as the EU is too far gone to be saved in its present form. It’s just a matter of time.