Summer Sunset in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Showing posts with label United Kingdom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label United Kingdom. Show all posts

Monday, March 11, 2019

Ten Things a Scotsman Noticed about America

There is a booming cottage industry of YouTube vloggers who share and celebrate the cultural differences between the United States and other nations and cultures.  Some of the most prominent, well-subscribed vloggers are British, and their commentaries are a fascinating window into the United States and our cultural differences and similarities.  Since a major theme of our humble blog has been to promote and celebrate the bonds that unite the English-speaking peoples, as Churchill understood the term, we are going to begin posting some of the more interesting and insightful of these.

We start with a very engaging Scotsman, Shaun from Edinburgh, whose enthusiasm and interest in the United States has resulted in his adopting the term "y'all."  We hope you will enjoy!



Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Britain Just Betrayed America at the United Nations

Theresa May has betrayed the British people in their quest to be free of the European Union, so it is not surprising that she has betrayed America too. The good news is that this failed swamp dweller will be gone soon, we now have a President who fights back, and a special relationship that has endured for more than 80 years will survive her.

European allies, most notably Britain, helped isolate America at the United Nations Monday, demonstrating how even the most special of relationships stops at the water’s edge of Israel’s Mediterranean shores.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley vetoed an Arab-proposed Security Council resolution Monday that rebuked President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and start the process of moving the US embassy there. All other 14 Security Council members supported the anti-American resolution.

Read more at New York Post >>

Monday, February 29, 2016

Daniel Hannan: Why Americans Should Back Brexit



The campaign is in full swing. On June 23, Britain will decide by referendum whether to leave the European Union (EU). Most of the political establishment, including the leaders of all the main parliamentary parties, are arguing for a “remain” vote. But the country is unimpressed, and opinion polls remain evenly balanced.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Daniel Hannan: If the UK Were Not Already a Member of the European Union, Would We Vote to Join It?

If the United Kingdom were not already a member of the European Union, would we vote to join it?

It’s never easy to answer hypothetical questions; but it’s worth noting how people feel in the Western European countries that stayed out. Perhaps the non-EU nations most comparable to Britain, being neither ex-Communist nor microstates, are Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. In all of them, there are solid and settled majorities against joining the EU.

Here are the latest poll numbers. In Iceland, which formally withdrew its application in 2015, voters oppose joining by 50.1 per cent to 34.2 per cent. In Norway, by 72.0 per cent to 18.1 per cent. In Switzerland, opinion polls on the EU are rarer, because membership was killed off when a referendum in 2001 resulted in a massive 76.8 per cent against reopening accession talks. Still, for what it’s worth, the latest survey shows that 82 per cent of Swiss citizens support their current bilateral arrangements.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Free Movement Proposed Between Canada, U.K, Australia, New Zealand

The Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organization wants to see free movement policies between Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. (Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organization)

From cbcnews-British Columbia

When James Skinner moved from the United Kingdom to Australia, he fell in love with Melbourne, landed a great job, met a great group of friends, settled down in his new home — only to leave because permanent residency was much harder to obtain than he anticipated.  
Skinner, who now lives in Vancouver, says he fears the same experience could happen again.
"We are virtually the same people," he told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff, referring to countries within the Commonwealth.
"The only thing that divides us is the cover of our passports."
Skinner, who is the founder and executive director of the Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organization, is calling on politicians in Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand to loosen restrictions on visas and work permits between the four countries.
He says citizens within the European Union can work and reside indefinitely in each of the 28 member states, and a similar policy occurs between Australia and New Zealand.
There's no reason why something similar can't happen between Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand, he argued.
"We've had that Commonwealth tie for generations and decades in the past, we've stuck together through thick and thin, [we] share the same head of state, the same native language, the same respect for the common law," he said.
"It's not something completely out there that we're proposing."
The Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organization's petition has already gathered nearly 25,000 online signatures.
Skinner says he plans to send the petition to politicians in New Zealand and Australia, and then to the Canadian and British governments, pending elections in each respective country.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thatcher Aide: America Would Be Better Off If Britain Left EU

 
The Heritage Foundation's Nile Gardiner speaks at David Campbell Bannerman's alternatives to EU conference on February 18th 2015.

By Andre Walker

The Washington-based foreign affairs analyst and political commentator, Nile Gardiner has called for the British public to ignore both Downing Street and the White House by backing the UKs departure from the EU.
 
The former aide to Margaret Thatcher made the call in a video to be shown at today’s conference on Brexit held in London. Gardiner explains the need to unite the English speaking world, and for America to “stand with the British people”.

Today’s conference is being hosted by David Campbell-Bannerman MEP and includes speakers from a range of political parties.




Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Daniel Hannan is the New, Great Communicator

Daniel Hannan, MEP
There is no living politician, of any nation, who we admire more than the brilliant and eloquent Daniel Hannan.  A writer and a blogger, Hannan has been a member of the European Parliament representing South East England for the Conservative Party since 1999.  If you haven't read his best-selling Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples made the Modern World, do yourself a huge favor and buy it today.  

Our appreciation for this very thoughtful Tory has only grown since reading his recent response to José Manuel Barroso, an EU bureaucrat who suggested that Britain would be a second-rate country outside the EU. 

Mr. Hannan's smashing response in The Daily Mail follows:


So we've got zero influence, eh? Outside the EU we’d be a second-rate country, would we?

The easy reaction is outrage. How dare José Manuel Barroso, the outgoing head of the Brussels civil service, hector Britain, the nation that, by helping liberate Europe from fascism, made the wretched EU possible in the first place?

But I’d rather take Mr Barroso seriously. Let’s assess the claim that, if it weren’t for the EU, we’d count for little in the world.

Consider, first, the assets that the United Kingdom has.

We are either the seventh or the sixth largest economy on the planet. (Depending on which measure you use, we have either just overtaken, or are just about to overtake, France.)

At a time when the eurozone is stagnant, we are the fastest-growing major economy on Earth. We have — this is a truly amazing statistic — created more jobs over the past four years than the other 27 members of the EU put together. Indeed, on current trends, at some point in the next 30 years, our economy will overtake Germany’s.

While our trade with the EU is in the red and declining, our trade with the rest of the world is in the black and growing.

Nor are our assets purely economic. We have, in London, the world’s greatest city: not just its financial hub but, on most definitions, its cultural hub, too.

Ours is humanity’s most widely spoken language. English has legal status in 37 states, and is used by almost every major international body, from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (a forum to promote free trade among Pacific Rim countries) to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. It’s even used by organisations whose member states don’t speak English, such as the European Free Trade Association.

Our common law system is universally respected — to the extent that two foreign companies from the same country will often pay a premium to sign their contracts in UK jurisdiction, knowing that, whatever their other faults, our judges don’t take bribes.

We are the world’s fourth military power, one of only five nations capable of deploying force globally. We are one of seven nuclear states, with renowned special forces and a global intelligence-gathering capacity which we share with the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Our institutions and leading figures are recognised around the world, from Manchester United to Wimbledon, from Downton Abbey to the Duchess of Cambridge. Small wonder we are ranked top in the soft power index (based on countries’ influence in terms of politics, diplomacy, business, culture, sport and education rather than financial or military might), edging even above the United States.

We are a leading member of the G20 and the G8, of Nato and the Commonwealth, and one of five permanent seat-holders on the UN Security Council. How much bigger do we have to be, for Heaven’s sake, before we’re capable of governing ourselves?

How does Mr Barroso think seven million Swiss manage, or 320,000 Icelanders? Or, come to that, the 32,000 people of San Marino, who recently rejected EU membership in a referendum, preferring to remain in a free trade area?

Like most countries, we joined what is now the EU out of pessimism. At the time, in the early Seventies, it was Britain’s lowest moment as a nation. It was the era of double-digit inflation, prices and incomes policies, trade union militancy, power cuts and the three-day week. The consensus among commentators was that Britain was finished.

It was against this miserable background that Parliament voted to join in 1972, and the electorate ratified the decision by referendum in 1975.

Would people have voted the same way either ten years earlier or ten years later? I doubt it. We would have lacked the necessary sense of national despair.
Contrary to what the doom-mongers of the Seventies feared, the decline over the past 40 years has come, not in Britain or the Anglosphere, but in Europe.

In the year that we joined, Western Europe accounted for 36 per cent of the world economy. Today, that figure is 24 per cent, and in ten years’ time it will be 14 per cent. Last year, the Commonwealth’s economy overtook the eurozone’s.

Britain is a global trader, linked by history to every continent and archipelago. Yet we have managed to confine ourselves in the only trade bloc on the planet that is shrinking economically.

Mr Barroso says that, outside the EU, we’d lack clout. Really?
Strong words: David Cameron hit back yesterday at Jose Manuel Barroso (left), saying voters were his 'boss'
Consider, as an example of a non-EU state, Norway, with a population of four million. Norway has an active and engaged foreign policy. Its diplomats played a key role in negotiating peace settlements in South East Asia, Sudan and Sri Lanka — as well as, albeit less successfully, brokering the Oslo Accords between Israel and Palestine.

Norway has the capacity to do these things because, not being part of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, it has diplomatic autonomy.

Are we truly to believe that Britain, a nation of nearly 64 million, a mercantile and maritime people linked to every corner of the world, would have no influence if we had an independent foreign policy?

There is one place, though, where we truly do lack influence: Brussels.

There have been 55 occasions when the UK voted against an EU measure in the Council of Ministers (the figure is deceptively low because, by tradition, countries rarely push matters to the vote when they can see that they will lose). Guess how many times, out of those 55, we succeeded in blocking the measure? That’s right: zero.

That literally is, to use Mr Barroso’s phrase, ‘zero influence’.

Cast your mind back just a few weeks to the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker, the defeated prime minister of Luxembourg, as Mr Barroso’s successor as president of the European Commission.

David Cameron could hardly have made clearer the strength of Britain’s opposition. The PM had precedent on his side: there was a general understanding that such appointments would not be made against the wishes of one of the big member states.

He also had constitutional right on his side: Mr Juncker’s claim to the job rested on a power-grab by the European Parliament that stretched the interpretation of a clause in the European Treaty beyond any normal bounds, and had not been sanctioned by the member states. 
Yet, in the event, how many countries backed Britain? How many of the other 27 states felt that it would be inappropriate to appoint a man who made no secret of his belief in a United States of Europe, who had called for a European army and police force, for pan-European taxes and an EU-wide minimum wage? How many? One: Hungary.

In a revealing aside, Mr Barroso has linked the calls from some Britons to leave the EU with the Scottish independence campaigns.

It’s a telling parallel. Most Scots voted last month to keep the Union because they felt at least some sense of British identity. Three hundred years of common statehood, resting on a common language and culture, have created a shared British patriotism.

Mr Barroso’s analogy confirms that he sees the EU, too, as a nation. People like him wouldn’t talk like this if the EU were simply an international association like the Arctic Council or the World Health Organisation.

Incidentally, Mr Barroso’s intervention reminds us that there is rarely much gratitude in Brussels. He secured his post partly with the help of British Conservative MEPs, though you wouldn’t think it today.

I mention this because there are alarming reports that David Cameron doesn’t want Conservative MEPs to oppose Mr Juncker’s appointment as President in a vote on it in the European Parliament tomorrow.

Having fought the recent Euro-election campaign on the platform we Tories did, opposing these federalists is a straightforward question of keeping faith with our voters.

The biggest complaint people have about politicians and the EU is that we say one thing in our home countries and do another in Brussels.

I’ll be voting against Mr Juncker and his Euro-zealots. I hope other Conservatives will join me.





Friday, September 19, 2014

Daniel Hannan: Thank God My Country is Still Intact


One nation, still

Thank God. Just thank God. I don’t much care at the moment whether God is Scottish, and is glowering approvingly at Great Britain from over His bands and Geneva gown, or whether He is English and is raising a glass of sherry with an absent-minded smile. At least my country is intact.

When I say “my country”, I don’t just mean what it says on my passport. I’m one of those UK nationals – a minority, perhaps, but not an insignificant one – who self-identify as British. In England, Scotland and Wales, older patriotisms generally take precedence (Northern Ireland is a special case, obviously). Although many people across Great Britain are passionate Unionists, a “Yes” vote wouldn’t have forced them to redefine their identity. The UK might have been divided, and they might have been sorry to see it go, but they’d have carried on being English or Scottish or Welsh.

Those of us who are British first had no such fall-back. A “Yes” vote would have meant the end of the country we belonged to – the end of its name, of its flag, of our internal map of home.

I love England dearly, and couldn’t be prouder to represent the Home Counties in the European Parliament. But I’m not English by birth or much ancestry. I’d have had mentally to change my homeland in order to stay at home. As the polls narrowed, I began to sink into a black despair the like of which I have never known. For the first time in my life, I found myself waking in the night from anxiety.

Earlier this evening – or yesterday, as I suppose it now is – I attended a friend’s wedding blessing. The service ended with “I vow to thee me country”, and a piper played “Highland Cathedral” as the recessional. I found my cheeks wet with tears. They are wet again now as I write.

There will be consequences, of course. “Devo Max” – or, as we used to call it before we started mangling our language “Home Rule” – is now a democratic necessity. It’s not just that all the main parties have promised it; it’s that there is no other way to unite the two sides. Home Rule for Scotland will then have implications for the other three parts of the country, forcing massive devolution all round. Good.

But that’s for tomorrow. For now, just rejoice. Rejoice at the fact that we live in a country that wants no unwilling subjects. (Try seceding from France or Spain or Italy or even the United States.) Rejoice that democracy works: we’ve just seen a record-breaking turnout on a record-breaking registration.

Rejoice, most of all, that the nation which, over the past three centuries, has achieved more than any rival on the planet, has a new lease of life. The United Kingdom is a country people want to belong to, and the world is a better place.
Be Britain still to Britain true,
Amang ourselves united;
For never but by British hands
Maun British wrangs be righted!
No! never but by British hands
Shall British wrangs be righted!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Scottish Independence: The Queen is Urged to Intervene

Senior MPs have suggested an intervention from Her Majesty could 'make all the difference' as a new TNS poll shows the Yes and No campaigns running neck and neck 



Queen Elizabeth addresses the benefits of British union in a reply to the loyal addresses given on behalf of both the House of Lords and the House of Commons commemorating Her Majesty's Silver Jubilee in May 1977.

David Cameron is under growing pressure to ask the Queen to speak out in support of the Union as another opinion poll confirms a surge in support for Scottish independence.

Senior MPs have suggested an intervention from Her Majesty could “make all the difference” as a TNS poll shows the Yes and No campaigns running neck and neck. 

Read more at The Telegraph >>

 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Ditch NATO, Defend the Anglosphere

Magna Carta - a shared foundation for freedom
From The Hill
By Bernie Quigley

Suggested in the days between the Velvet Revolution and the Orange Revolution — which you do not hear much about these days — that "they," meaning those in the unfortunate neverwhere between the old Soviet Union and Greater America, were not really calling for Thomas Jefferson, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Abrahama Lincoln for liberation. More like Calvin Klein and Michael Jackson. Even the honored Czech poet and then-President Vaclav Havel, seeking a front-row bench in the "West," would pitch musician Frank Zappa as avatar and inspiration. This has been the odd model of the American conquest since World War II. The French in their imperial day would send the soldiers, then they would send the priests. We send Frank Zappa and Lady Gaga, Starbucks, McDonald's and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Bono and Mick Jagger. Possibly what is today causing the stellar decline of American influence in the world is that most under 50 don't know who Frank Zappa was.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Falkland Islanders Vote Yes in Referendum to Remain Part of Britain

The people of the Falklands have delivered one of the most emphatic votes in recent history when 99.8 per cent of those taking part in a referendum on the future of the islands said yes to remaining a British overseas territory.
 

Just three people responded with the answer “No” to the question: "Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?” A total of 1513 answered in the affirmative. 

Read more at The Telegraph >>

 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

David Cameron: UK is a Christian Nation

Prime Minister David Cameron has delivered an important speech commemorating the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible in which he declares the UK is a Christian nation:

 
It’s great to be here and to have this opportunity to come together today to mark the end of this very special 400th anniversary year for the King James Bible.

I know there are some who will question why I am giving this speech.
 
And if they happen to know that I’m setting out my views today in a former home of the current Archbishop of Canterbury…
 
…and in front of many great theologians and church leaders…
 
…they really will think I have entered the lions’ den.
But I am proud to stand here and celebrate the achievements of the King James Bible.
 
Not as some great Christian on a mission to convert the world.
 
But because, as Prime Minister, it is right to recognise the impact of a translation that is, I believe, one of this country’s greatest achievements.
 
The Bible is a book that has not just shaped our country, but shaped the world.
 

Monday, January 25, 2010

45 Americans Claim Asylum in Britain


Guess we'll have to look at Australia or New Zealand for possible refuge from Obamunism.

Home Office statistics reveal dozens of applications by people claiming persecution in the US


From The Guardian
By Helen Pidd

They hail from the land of the free, the home of the brave, a place where it is said anyone can prosper regardless of colour, creed or religion. But dozens of Americans have tried in recent years to gain asylum in the UK by claiming they were persecuted in their homeland, according to figures released to the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act.

Home Office statistics show that between 2004 and 2008, 45 Americans submitted asylum applications to the UK Border Agency claiming they had fled the US and were unable to go back because they had a well-founded fear of persecution. Fifteen Canadians also applied. All 60 were turned down.


Read the rest of this entry >>

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Thought Police Muscle Up in Britain


From The Australian
By Hal G. P. Colebatch


Britain appears to be evolving into the first modern soft totalitarian state. As a sometime teacher of political science and international law, I do not use the term totalitarian loosely.

There are no concentration camps or gulags but there are thought police with unprecedented powers to dictate ways of thinking and sniff out heresy, and there can be harsh punishments for dissent.

Nikolai Bukharin claimed one of the Bolshevik Revolution's principal tasks was "to alter people's actual psychology". Britain is not Bolshevik, but a campaign to alter people's psychology and create a new Homo britannicus is under way without even a fig leaf of disguise.

The Government is pushing ahead with legislation that will criminalise politically incorrect jokes, with a maximum punishment of up to seven years' prison. The House of Lords tried to insert a free-speech amendment, but Justice Secretary Jack Straw knocked it out. It was Straw who previously called for a redefinition of Englishness and suggested the "global baggage of empire" was linked to soccer violence by "racist and xenophobic white males". He claimed the English "propensity for violence" was used to subjugate Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and that the English as a race were "potentially very aggressive".

In the past 10 years I have collected reports of many instances of draconian punishments, including the arrest and criminal prosecution of children, for thought-crimes and offences against political correctness.

Countryside Restoration Trust chairman and columnist Robin Page said at a rally against the Government's anti-hunting laws in Gloucestershire in 2002: "If you are a black vegetarian Muslim asylum-seeking one-legged lesbian lorry driver, I want the same rights as you." Page was arrested, and after four months he received a letter saying no charges would be pressed, but that: "If further evidence comes to our attention whereby your involvement is implicated, we will seek to initiate proceedings." It took him five years to clear his name.

Page was at least an adult. In September 2006, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, Codie Stott, asked a teacher if she could sit with another group to do a science project as all the girls with her spoke only Urdu. The teacher's first response, according to Stott, was to scream at her: "It's racist, you're going to get done by the police!" Upset and terrified, the schoolgirl went outside to calm down. The teacher called the police and a few days later, presumably after officialdom had thought the matter over, she was arrested and taken to a police station, where she was fingerprinted and photographed. According to her mother, she was placed in a bare cell for 3 1/2 hours. She was questioned on suspicion of committing a racial public order offence and then released without charge. The school was said to be investigating what further action to take, not against the teacher, but against Stott. Headmaster Anthony Edkins reportedly said: "An allegation of a serious nature was made concerning a racially motivated remark. We aim to ensure a caring and tolerant attitude towards pupils of all ethnic backgrounds and will not stand for racism in any form."

A 10-year-old child was arrested and brought before a judge, for having allegedly called an 11-year-old boya "Paki" and "bin Laden" during a playground argument at a primary school (the other boy had called him a skunk and a Teletubby). When it reached the court the case had cost taxpayers pound stg. 25,000. The accused was so distressed that he had stopped attending school. The judge, Jonathan Finestein, said: "Have we really got to the stage where we are prosecuting 10-year-old boys because of political correctness? There are major crimes out there and the police don't bother to prosecute. This is nonsense."

Finestein was fiercely attacked by teaching union leaders, as in those witch-hunt trials where any who spoke in defence of an accused or pointed to defects in the prosecution were immediately targeted as witches and candidates for burning.

Hate-crime police investigated Basil Brush, a puppet fox on children's television, who had made a joke about Gypsies. The BBC confessed that Brush had behaved inappropriately and assured police that the episode would be banned.

A bishop was warned by the police for not having done enough to "celebrate diversity", the enforcing of which is now apparently a police function. A Christian home for retired clergy and religious workers lost a grant because it would not reveal to official snoopers how many of the residents were homosexual. That they had never been asked was taken as evidence of homophobia.

Muslim parents who objected to young children being given books advocating same-sex marriage and adoption at one school last year had their wishes respected and the offending material withdrawn. This year, Muslim and Christian parents at another school objecting to the same material have not only had their objections ignored but have been threatened with prosecution if they withdraw their children.

There have been innumerable cases in recent months of people in schools, hospitals and other institutions losing their jobs because of various religious scruples, often, as in the East Germany of yore, not shouted fanatically from the rooftops but betrayed in private conversations and reported to authorities. The crime of one nurse was to offer to pray for a patient, who did not complain but merely mentioned the matter to another nurse. A primary school receptionist, Jennie Cain, whose five-year-old daughter was told off for talking about Jesus in class, faces the sack for seeking support from her church. A private email from her to other members of the church asking for prayers fell into the hands of school authorities.

Permissiveness as well as draconianism can be deployed to destroy socially accepted norms and values. The Royal Navy, for instance, has installed a satanist chapel in a warship to accommodate the proclivities of a satanist crew member. "What would Nelson have said?" is a British newspaper cliche about navy scandals, but in this case seems a legitimate question. Satanist paraphernalia is also supplied to prison inmates who need it.

This campaign seems to come from unelected or quasi-governmental bodies controlling various institutions, which are more or less unanswerable to electors, more than it does directly from the Government, although the Government helps drive it and condones it in a fudged and deniable manner.

Any one of these incidents might be dismissed as an aberration, but taken together - and I have only mentioned a tiny sample; more are reported almost every day - they add up to a pretty clear picture.


Hal G. P. Colebatch's Blair's Britain was chosen as a book of the year by The Spectator in 1999.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The UK: Last Call for Democracy


From The Brussels Journal


Sometimes I marvel at the assumption of the British public, that no matter how bad things get, the country will somehow never turn into a tin pot dictatorship. Perhaps this belief is part of the residue of the British Empire. It seems impossible that a country that once ruled half the world, could itself hit bottom. But if history repeats itself, it also tells us to expect the unexpected. Cuba was synonymous with the casino until the Revolution, and Germany with the cabaret as Nazism was marching to power. Today, Britain leads the world in multiculturalism and political correctness, yet has more CCTV cameras than any other country in the world. And a government that shouts about human rights is determinedly undermining the most basic of freedoms.

In the last few years alone, anti-terror laws have been routinely invoked by local councils, to enable them to spy on residents, for such trivial reasons as checking if rubbish bags (US: trash bags) have been put out on the wrong day. Compulsory ID cards linked to a central database, and containing fifty categories of personal information, including biometrics, will be introduced in 2010. As unveiled in the Queen’s speech, police will also soon be able to criminalize anyone who has ever been abroad, but does not produce identification on request.

Read the rest of this entry >>


Sunday, February 10, 2008

ENGLAND'S CRISIS IS OUR'S TOO


From
Real Clear Politics

The United Kingdom, from common language and shared heritage, offers us our best window into what is happening in Europe. This is especially so when we try to come to grips -- if we have the courage to do so -- with the historically sudden irruption, and rapid spread, of Islam across Europe.

There are parallel developments in all the nations on the Continent: high immigration rates from Islamic countries, comparatively high birth rates among that immigrant population, and the radicalization of their young in Wahabi mosques financed by the oil wealth of Arabia. But for many English-speaking Canadians, it is the British experience that brings the phenomenon home.

The demographic issue is at the centre of much controversy. There can be little dispute over the statistical facts, which are quite dramatic, and as exhilarating from an Islamist point of view, as they are ominous for those who fear the loss of everything associated with western civilization. For, owing to the prior triumph of the leftist "multicultural" ideology, which holds that one "culture" is as good as another, and therefore it is wrong to preserve our own way of life, there is considerable opposition to discussing these facts.

We have seen this in Canada, where journalists Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant have been hauled before "human rights tribunals" -- kangaroo courts in which defendants are stripped of all the traditional protections of court law, and where judgments may be passed against them by people with no legal qualifications on the basis of whim and hearsay.

Mr. Steyn, in particular, stands accused of having openly discussed demographic questions. Mr. Levant stands accused of having published materials the mainstream media had been cowed into suppressing by the fear of Islamist violence.

In both cases, the journalists are being prosecuted by Muslims who advocate the imposition of Shariah law, but are using an apparatus that was designed by the Left for the persecution of those expressing right-wing views.

The British system works differently, and the media in Britain remain more robust than the media in Canada, and willing to report things that would be studiously ignored in a Canadian newsroom. On the other hand, by sheer force of numbers, and the intimidation value of several Islamist atrocities on London's streets, the "fear factor" in Britain is much higher, and the Labour government has proved much more responsive to Islamist demands.

The chief, and most consistent Islamist demand, is for the imposition of Shariah law, at least for Muslims, but ideally by the whole state. In fact, many Shariah courts are already operating informally in Britain, dealing mostly with routine civil questions of marriage, divorce, inheritance, and financial disputes, but sometimes with crime. For instance, a Shariah court in the London district of Woolwich was allowed recently -- apparently with the co-operation of police -- to pass judgment on unnamed Somali youths in a knifing incident. (The assailants were released in return for an apology to their victim.)

In various other ways, Shariah is being recognized, semi-formally. For instance, although bigamy remains nominally a crime in Britain, the Labour government has approved new social provisions by which extra welfare payments, council housing privileges, and tax benefits may be claimed by polygamous households, and the cash benefits to which the extra wives are now entitled may be paid directly into the account of their husband.

At a higher level, the (Anglican) Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, publicly called this week for the recognition of "some form of" Shariah law for Muslims in Britain, and said it should be given equal status with parliamentary law. While Archbishop Williams has a long history of muddled pronouncements, and is widely observed to be emotionally unstable, the strength of his office is now engaged on the Islamist side.

Muslim groups such as the Ramadhan Foundation responded luke-warmly, welcoming the suggestion but criticizing the archbishop for having failed to punish his Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, who is under police protection after recently suggesting that various Muslim districts in Britain had become "no-go areas" for people who are not Muslim. (The Anglican Archbishop of York is also under fire, for making remarks critical of radical Islam.)

The saddest part of this, is that so many "moderate" Muslims emigrated to Britain (as to Canada) expressly to escape from societies in which Shariah law is normative. And what they are learning now, is that, thanks to the triumph of multiculturalism in the West, "you can run but you can't hide."