Monday, September 27, 2010
Some secular hatred of the Vatican
BOOK REVIEW OF "The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse", by Geoffrey Robertson, a prominent Leftist lawyer in Britain who dreams of a worldwide Leftist tyranny -- in the guise of anti-tyranny, of course. The reviewer is Brendan O'Neill, a modern Marxist (or something) from a Catholic background! Brendy has a good heart, though -- JR
Robertson wants to throw open the doors of the Holy See, which he views as an irritating island of stick-in-the-mud sovereignty, and drag the pope of Rome himself before the kangaroo courts of so-called international justice. Truly, he will not be happy until his righteous writ extends everywhere.
The most alarming thing about Robertson’s book - The Case of the Pope - is that it is being treated so seriously by commentators. Written in the style of a legal document, with a list of 245 points against the Vatican, the book covers everything from the child abuse scandal that has rocked the church to the phoney nature of the Holy See’s sovereignty to the role that the Holy See plays in pressuring small nations at the UN to accept its dogma on condoms and abortion.
Yet those who have welcomed the book as a simple, clear-eyed, lawyerly argument against Holy See sovereignty, and for the potential arrest and trial of the pope, are overlooking the full-on political war that Robertson has spearheaded against the institution of sovereignty for more than 10 years now. His new attack on the Vatican, published by Penguin to coincide with Benedict’s visit to Britain, should be properly seen, not as a radical assertion of liberal humanist values over the institutionalisation of religious obscurantism, but as the latest salvo by a leading figure in the meddle-hungry human rights industry against the old ideals of sovereign equality and non-interference in other states’ affairs.
It will come as no surprise that Robertson’s tract is infused with some of the middle-class prejudices against Catholics that came to the fore of liberal public debate in Britain during Benedict’s visit. There’s the old line about Catholics being brainwashed by their priests; they are ‘indoctrinated from their childhood’ until they develop such ‘emotional and psychological respect’ for their priests that they’ll do anything the men in dog collars ask.
There’s the idea that Third World Catholics in particular are prone to turning priestly propaganda into real acts of violence, a bit like attack dogs. We’re told that ‘in Brazil and other Catholic countries’ there have been ‘macho muggings’ of gays, possibly brought about by Benedict’s decision to ‘unleash the full force of [the Catholic Church’s views on homosexuality]’. The priest speaks and the people act, because, as one expert quoted by Robertson puts it, ‘priests take the place of Jesus Christ and are to be obeyed at all costs, and never questioned or criticised’. They’re easily brainwashed, these Caflicks.
Then there is the argument that some Catholic views are so out there, so off the wall, that when they are spouted by Benedict, who exercises great influence over his flock, they become dangerous and might therefore have to be censored. Robertson argues that while it is wrong to censor ordinary individuals who make religious anti-gay comments in public, ‘Pope Benedict XVI is no voice in the wilderness’ – ‘were he to repeat in a public sermon [in Britain] his oft-stated view that homosexuality is “evil” and gays are all people with defective personalities, he would be using the full force of his spiritual office to vilify a section of the population protected by equality legislation and public order law’. In such circumstances, ‘the Home Office could not… permit his entry’, decrees Robertson.
However much Robertson tries to dress this up in the language of equality and protecting certain sections of the population from harm, it still amounts to suggesting that the state ought sometimes to interfere with and restrict people’s freedom of religion. In the Catholic case in particular – where Robertson and others seriously believe that Catholic kids are turned into priest-respecting automatons and the pope has a special hold over every Catholic’s heart and mind – the state might have to curb religious speech in the interests of preventing public disorder. And macho muggings.
While this kind of outlook has become par for the course in liberal, atheistic, so-called humanist circles in Britain, the more striking part of Robertson’s book is his stinging attack on the idea of Holy See sovereignty. I should state right now that I am no old-fashioned defender of sovereignty, especially not the Vatican’s sovereignty. As an internationalist, I can think of far better ways to organise world affairs than to divide mankind into different, often conflicting sovereign territories. I do, however, defend a people’s right to fight for and assert their self-determination against both international intervention and tyrannical rulers. And as a radical humanist, I am implacably opposed to the tiny, population-less Holy See having permanent observer status at the United Nations, where it does indeed lobby behind the scenes for restrictions on the exercise of reproductive rights, especially in the Third World.
Yet it’s important to recognise why Robertson and other intervention-happy human rights activists are so hostile to the institution of sovereignty: it’s because they view it as a barrier to having the ‘international community’ barge its way into usually small, normally black or brown states to arrest the ‘scoundrels’ who run them. In short, the sins of the tradition of sovereignty pale almost into insignificance when compared with the gung-ho, border-busting, World Police-style system that Robertson and Co. would like to replace sovereignty with.
Those championing Robertson’s apparently liberal assault on Vatican sovereignty are overlooking, or ignoring, the fact that he has previous form on this issue. In the post-Cold War period, Robertson has been amongst the most vehement critics of sovereignty. It’s a ‘pernicious doctrine’, he has argued; a ‘stumbling block for the development of international justice’; it is ‘the refuge of scoundrels’. In 1998, in that liberal interventionist moment which culminated in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia (600 civilians dead), Robertson was on the side of ‘humanitarian’ interventionists such as Tony Blair and Bill Clinton when he said, ‘It has taken half a century but we seem at last to be working out a way to bring tyrants to justice. Why did it take so long? The problem is that the world has always been organised on the principle of “sovereignty” of the state, [the idea that] there must be no intervention in their internal affairs.’
This principle of non-intervention (which, for the record, from Aden to Vietnam to Panama, was never adhered to by Western powers during the Cold War period) is viewed by Robertson and others as a barrier to them fulfilling their fantasy about being knights in shining armour who can save the destitute and downtrodden of the world. Robertson has over the years attacked any state that jealously guarded its sovereignty rather than opening itself up to ‘international justice’. China is ‘the most obsessive defender of state sovereignty’, he has declared; that pesky Colonel Gaddafi, when elected chairman of the African Union, turned it into ‘the main opponent of the International Criminal Court, guaranteeing to protect Omar al-Bashir from its arrest warrant over his alleged crimes in Darfur’.
In an interview with the Guardian in 2008, Robertson even shared his fantasies about setting up a ‘Convention Against Tyranny’, which, the interviewer told us, would be ‘capable of giving legal justification in order to overthrow evildoers’. This is how Robertson sees himself: as a warrior against the ‘Machiavellian doctrine’ of sovereignty because it stands in the way of his pursuit of those whom the ‘international community’ decree to be ‘evil’.
In Robertson’s ideal world, the basis upon which the righteous of the international community (the West) should be permitted to force their way into those scoundrel-like states that hide behind sovereignty (the rest) should be expanded. At present, intervention is largely confined to situations where ‘genocide’ is occurring; Robertson argued in 2008 for a situation where ‘other forms of barbarism’ could be cited as a justification for the overthrow of evildoers, including, for example, ‘the Taliban’s denial of education to women and girls’. In short, any sinning state, any entity judged by international law to be wicked, should be subject to Robertson and Co.’s sword of justice.
And what a terrible sword it can be. A great irony of The Case of the Pope is that such is the extent of Robertson’s fervour for war against evil that he makes the pope look like a paragon of peace and justice in comparison. Robertson slams the Vatican for ‘regularly condemn[ing] wars – no matter how just’. And one of those ‘just’ wars that the Vatican opposed was ‘the first Gulf War, to drive Saddam out of Kuwait, which he had unlawfully invaded’. Otherwise known as the war that left 180,000 Iraqis dead, entire towns destroyed, and most of Iraq in a state not too far from the ‘Stone Age’, as one boastful American official described it. It seems that any level of tyranny is justified in combating tyranny; all forms of barbarism can be deployed in the fight against ‘other forms of barbarism’. When you have right on your side, you can do no wrong. The kind of one-eyed self-righteousness that can make someone think that the ‘international community’ is combating tyranny even as it massacres thousands really puts so-called Catholic self-delusion into perspective, and makes the idea of papal infallibility seem almost meek in comparison.
The authoritarianism and divisiveness of the post-sovereignty system of ‘international justice’ is best summed up in the International Criminal Court. Robertson was an early cheerleader, of course, arguing in 2000 that the ICC would be a ‘court for all the world’. Really? Finally instituted in 2002, the ICC is in reality a racist institution which drags African leaders to be tried for crimes against humanity. Its cases have included Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Darfur/Sudan.
What do all the defendants have in common? That’s right, they are all what the old colonialists would have at least more honestly described as ‘niggers’. As Courtenay Griffiths QC, the defence lawyer for Charles Taylor at The Hague, recently said: ‘How is it possible that in 2010 we have a situation where every indicted individual at the ICC is African and every investigation is, guess where, Africa…? [T]he ICC was set up to try those lesser breeds without the law – the Africans. This is the same civilising mission from the late nineteenth century and I find it, as a black man, totally objectionable.’
This is what the liberal-elite war on sovereignty has resulted in: not increased internationalism and global equality, but their opposite – the jungle-style division of the world into the righteous forces of the West and the savages ‘over there’, and wars which have left thousands dead (but it doesn’t matter, because they died in the name of ‘combating tyranny’). Robertson’s arguments against Holy See sovereignty need to be seen in this light. Far from being a positive assertion of secularism over the international privileging of a particular religion, this looks to me more like an attempted final blow against the institution of sovereignty, the haranguing of an institution that continues jealously to guard its right to sovereign independence and integrity and the non-interference of other states and their agents in its affairs. Okay, there’s nothing positive about Holy See sovereignty; but nor is there anything positive in what motivates the main arguments against Holy See sovereignty today.
The great irony is that the human-rights lobby today plays a role that is not too dissimilar from the Catholic Church’s role of yesteryear. Robertson quotes a nineteenth-century historian who said that the then Vatican was attempting to ‘establish a power which would be the most formidable enemy of liberty… throughout the world’. In short, the Vatican had global ambitions; it longed to make everyone submit to its religious ethos and worldview and to assert its moral authority across the nations. Ring a bell?
The British Labor Party lurches Left
It's in their genes --but it should ensure a Tory victory at the next election
In his first interview since his surprise win over his brother David in the party’s leadership election, Mr Miliband insisted he was his “own man” and not in thrall to the unions, whose support gave him victory.
The former energy secretary said he was tough enough to make difficult decisions and pledged to fight for hard-working “Middle England” families.
But despite insisting that the party would not “lurch to the Left” under his leadership, he spoke of plans for new taxes for higher paid workers, an assault on City bankers and new trade union rights for employees. He refused to condemn forthcoming strikes and indicated he would oppose Coalition plans to reform public sector pensions.
In a direct attempt to appeal to those traditional Labour voters alienated by Mr Blair’s premiership, Mr Miliband said: “The era of New Labour has passed. A new generation has taken over.”
But he left himself open to accusations that his attempt to reposition the party is less significant than he has suggested when it emerged that he may offer his brother – an arch Blairite – the crucial post of shadow chancellor. His claim to be working to unite the party was also weakened when, within hours, his comments drew criticism from MPs close to Mr Blair and David Miliband.
At a Progress Rally in Manchester, where the party’s annual conference is being held, Ben Bradshaw, the shadow culture secretary, said activists should declare “very firmly” that “New Labour is not yet dead”.
Jim Murphy, another former Cabinet minister and a close ally of David Miliband, said the party did “absolutely remarkable things as New Labour”.
Margaret Hodge, the MP for Barking, said she was worried the party might “write off all the things that brought Labour three election victories in a row”. Ed Miliband must use his first conference speech as leader to demonstrate the party “was not in the pockets of the trade unions”, she said.
One angry Blairite MP said: “We cannot just put Tony Blair in a box. We cannot totally disown New Labour as this lot seem to want to.”
Mr Miliband beat his brother by a wafer-thin margin after four rounds of voting. He had been consistently behind in support from fellow MPs and party members, and only edged ahead with the help of the unions. He yesterday insisted he would not be in thrall to the unions, and told the BBC: “I’m nobody’s man. I’m my own man and I’m very, very clear about that.” He added: “It’s not about some lurch to the Left, absolutely not.”
He dismissed claims that he wanted to do to Labour what Margaret Thatcher did to the Tories when she took over as leader. He described his nickname “Red Ed” as “both tiresome and rubbish”.
Mr Miliband denied that he lacked the required steel to lead his party. “I can take the toughest of decisions that you’re required to do as Leader of the Opposition and hopefully as prime minister.”
He claimed to want to represent the middle classes. “I think there are big injustices that we need to deal with in Britain — many of them affecting so-called Middle England in this country.
“People who are working hard, working long hours. They don’t have enough time to see their kids. They’re worried about their kids getting into debt. They’re worried about housing. They’re the people I want to speak for in this country.”
Labour has been thrown into turmoil by Mr Miliband’s shock victory. Tory insiders are known to be delighted by the outcome because they believe that, despite his claims to the contrary, his Left-wing leanings will alienate the middle class vote at the next election.
The election of the younger Miliband could provoke his brother to stand down. David Miliband is clearly devastated at being deprived of the leadership after coveting it for several years. Asked what role his brother might play in opposition, Ed Miliband said: “He needs time to think about the contribution he can make. I think he can make a very big contribution to British politics, but he needs the space to do that.”
Last night, David Miliband gave the strongest hint yet he was considering stepping away from front-line politics, if not immediately then in six to 12 months. In Manchester, he said he would not do anything yet to distract from his brother’s first day in the job. “Today is not a day to take anything away from what Ed is doing. I think he has made a great start.”
Yesterday it emerged that Ed Miliband is considering offering his brother the job of shadow chancellor to make up for the disappointment. There is no guarantee he would accept but if he did, the new leader risks angering Ed Balls, who is keen to shadow George Osborne.
Ed Miliband was asked to condemn the long-running British Airways dispute and planned BBC industrial action which is threatening to blackout the Conservative conference. But he replied: “I’m not going to adjudicate on every strike. But what I am going to say to you is that they should always be a last resort.” He also failed to back what will be controversial changes to the gold-plated system of public sector pensions. Mr Miliband indicated that he would not oppose all the public sector cuts being planned by the Coalition.
He also said he would look again at Alistair Darling’s plan to halve the deficit in four years, suggesting that a greater tax take was possible to compensate for fewer cuts. His declaration of the death of New Labour was welcomed by the union bosses.
Paul Kenny, the general secretary of Unison, said: “It had its time and now it has gone. The general public don’t trust it any more. People like Mandelson, and a certain degree Tony Blair, are harking back to a golden era, which of course people do when they get older like that. But the reality is it has had its time.”
Other union bosses were also quick to back Ed Miliband, but warned him to remain true to what he had said during the four-month leadership campaign.
Yesterday, Lord Kinnock [The Welsh windbag: a famous loser], a supporter of Ed Miliband, claimed David Miliband lost out because Tony Blair and Lord Mandelson both backed him. “I think Peter Mandelson’s book and his utterings afterwards may have made a difference that damaged the case of David Miliband,” he said
Every British parent will end up on vetting database unless it is scrapped, warns think tank
A national anti-paedophile database is "poisoning" relations between generations and even increasing the risk to children, a report has warned.
The controversial vetting system, designed to check adults who work with children, has become so out of control that it could eventually cover the majority of the population because most people come in to regular contact with youngsters, think tank Civitas predicts. The system, which is under review by the Government, also threatens to undermine David Cameron's desire for a "Big Society".
Unless the rules are dramatically scaled back, the report warns that volunteering will plummet. Adults will also become less willing to intervene when children are misbehaving, or help those in distress for fear of being seen as potential child abusers.
The proposed Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) was created by the last Labour Government and would involve at least nine million people who want to work with children or vulnerable adults having to register on a database and have criminal record checks.
The plan was met by a wave of intense criticism amid claims it was over restrictive and would even hit parents who signed up for driving rotas for weekly sports events or clubs.
In June, the new Coalition Government halted the scheme, which was due to start the following month, and is currently reviewing it's future, with plans to scale back its scope to "common sense" levels.
But in the report for Civitas today, respected sociologist Prof Frank Furedi, and co-author Jennie Bristow, warn unless the Government gets rid of the scheme altogether then nothing will change. Their study, Licensed to Hug, calls for a radical new approach to the way adults and children can interact that is "based on the assumption that the majority of adults have no predatory attitudes towards children".
The previous Government stressed the vetting system would not target those parents who make private arrangements that bring them in to contact with children, such as picking up a neighbour's child. But Prof Furedi said such assertions "ignores the reality that adults interacting with their own children in public will generally be interacting with other people's children as well, and on that basis they can be targeted for vetting".
The report said the system has resulted in society widely accepting "the principle that adults spending time with children who are not their own should have some kind of licence to do so".
"The logical consequence of demanding that some adults need to 'pass the paedophile test' is to set up an expectation that other adults, organising play dates or giving children lifts in their car, should have their motives similarly scrutinised," it adds. "Given the extent to which this scheme seems likely gradually to encompass all parents, as well as adults working or volunteering with children, the logic is that the majority of the adult population will sooner or later find itself on the vetting database."
The report, a revision of a study first published in 2008, said the Vetting and Barring Scheme is "gaining the dubious distinction of being the most unpopular piece of regulation ever developed". "Under the guise of protecting children from abuse, heavy-handed regulations not only discouraged volunteering and undermined trust, but also created a false sense of security."
Prof Furedi also warned that most adults now will simply comply with vetting rules for fear that refusing will fuel suspicion or leave them barred from being involved in whatever the activity.
He said a criminal records check is starting to be seen in similar terms to having a First Aid certificate or teaching qualification, "as though being officially cleared of child abuse give these adults some particular knowledge of, and skill with, children, whilst the rest of the adult population is effectively blacklisted and cautioned to keep its distance."
A Home Office spokesman said: "Registration with the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) was halted in June to allow the new Government to bring the criminal records and Vetting and Barring regime back to common sense levels. "The terms of reference for the remodelling of the VBS and of the criminal records regime are currently being considered and a further announcement will be made shortly.”
Stephen Colbert, Castro Spies and Extremism
Say Glenn Beck regularly hosted a “Christianity-expert” on his show. And say this expert was also an author who thanked Timothy Mc Veigh in the acknowledgements to his book. Say these thanks read as follows, “Timothy Mc Veigh spent long hours with me, helped open doors I could not have pushed through myself: and offered friendship and warmth to myself during research for my book. Timothy Ms Veigh championed this (book) project.” Then say Glenn Beck held a rally in Washington D.C. to counter “Extremism” in America.
Might the MSM raise a ruckus? Might they, at the bare minimum, chuckle and snark? Well, change “Christianity-expert” to “Cuba-expert”. Change Glenn Beck to Stephen Colbert. Change Timothy Mc Veigh to Jose Gomez Abad, and it’s on tap—and without the mildest MSM ruckus, chuckle or snark.
“What?!” some readers ask. “So who’s that Cuba-expert? And who’s the Spanish-named guy? And how can you possibly equate him with Timothy Mc Veigh?” The Cuba-expert is the MSM’s go-to expert on Cuba/Castro and a frequent Colbert quest, Julia Sweig. The Spanish-named guy is a Castroite terrorists whose bomb-plot to incinerate and entomb thousands of New York Holiday shoppers was foiled in the nick of time by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, and is among the six Castro agents who (Colbert guest) Julia Sweig thanks in her book’s acklowlegements.
And since you asked, here’s a link to Ms Sweig’s book acknowledgements where she thanks Jose Gomez Abad and fellow Cuban terrorist Elsa Montero. And here are these Cuban terrorists shortly before the FBI slapped on their handcuffs.
A little background: On Nov. 17, 1962, the FBI cracked a plot by Cuban agents that targeted Macy's, Gimbel's, Bloomingdale's and Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal with a dozen incendiary devices and 500 kilos of TNT. The massive attack was set for the following week, the day after Thanksgiving. Macy's get's 50,000 shoppers that one day. Full details and documentation here.
Had those detonators gone off, 9/11’s death toll would have almost certainly taken seconds. The intent and will by Castroite terrorists (and subsequent Julia Sweig friends and champions) to commit mass-murder against Americans was certainly present, only our FBI foiled it.
The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg’s recent interviews with Fidel Castro’s in Havana were arranged by Julia Sweig. Goldberg himself described Ms Sweig as “a friend at the Council on Foreign Relations…a preeminent expert on Cuba and Latin America.” “We shook hands,” writes Goldberg about meeting Castro. “Then he greeted Julia warmly. They (Castro and Sweig) have known each other for more than twenty years.”
Seeking light on Fidel Castro’s “stunning!” (to those abysmally ignorant of his regime’s history, i.e. most MSM “reporters”) comment to him that “the Cuban Model doesn’t even work for us,” a perplexed Jeffrey Goldberg turned to nearby Julia Sweig for illumination.
In true Carnac the Magnificent mode the CFR’s “preeminent Cuba expert” seemingly held the envelope to her tilted head …”what does Castro really mean?” Then she ripped it open, blew into it, and revealed:
"He wasn't rejecting the ideas of the Revolution. I took it to be an acknowledgment that under 'the Cuban model' the state has much too big a role in the economic life of the country Ms Sweig indeed holds pre-eminence in one field: no “scholar” in modern American history—much less any honored guest on Glen Beck--thanks six different Stalinist spies and terrorists in the acknowledgements to their book, three of whom were expelled from the U.S. for terrorism and/or espionage. And no other scholar’s website references as an authority a Communist spy convicted for the same crimes as Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and currently serving 25 years in a U.S. maximum security prison.
Regarding the latter: “In 1998, a comprehensive review by the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Cuba does not pose a threat to U.S. national security,” this from the Council on Foreign Relations (Julia Sweig’s employers) website.
You’d think the CFR might know that this “1998 comprehensive review” was authored by the Clinton Defense Department’s Ana Belen Montes, who dodged the fate of the Rosenberg’s only with a plea bargain and currently serves 25 years in a U.S. federal prison for the crime of espionage. The Montes case ranks as the most damaging (for us) spy case since the “end” of the Cold War. “Ana Montes compromised our entire program against Cuba, electronic as well as human.” admitted Joel F. Brenner, National Counterintelligence Executive.
Now regarding the former: in her book’s acknowledgements, (frequent Colbert guest) Julia Sweig also thanks Ramon Sanchez Parodi, Jose Antonio Arbesu, Fernando Miguel Garcia, Hugo Ernesto Yedra and Josefina Vidal for their “warmth, their friendship and their kindness in opening Cuban doors.” All the above rank as veteran officers in Castro’s KGB and STASI-trained intelligence service. “Says who?!” some snort.
Says the retired Defense Intelligence Agency officer with a key role in nabbing Ana Belen Montes herself, that’s who. His name is Liet. Col. Christopher Simmons. He made the above allegations against the Cuban spies and Sweig accomplices, and in fact alleges that (frequent Colbert guest) Sweig herself qualifies as a “Cuban-agent-of-influence.”
In 2003 Lieut. Col. Simmons helped root out 14 Cuban spies who were promptly booted from the U.S. One was Julia Sweig accomplice, Josefina Vidal.
We will certainly look for “America’s ballsiest reporter” Stephen Colbert to address this vital issue of extremism within “America’s most influential think tank,” the Council on Foreign Relations
Granted, given Comedy Central’s mindset, Stalinist terrorism might not qualify as “extremism.” Also possible: the prospect of challenging The Council on Foreign Relations just might cause those outsized organs advertised on Colbert’s website to cravenly shrivel into their quiver.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.