Thursday, May 01, 2014
Did Britain really need Sameer Babar?
A religious fanatic who was unknowingly suffering from paranoid schizophrenia stabbed his neighbour to death in an 'unexplained and frenzied attack’.
Leonard Flower, 67, known as Len, was stabbed 17 times - including through the heart - by Sameer Babar, 35, as he was doing odd jobs in his garage in Luton, Bedfordshire.
His wife, Linda, to whom he had been married for 47 years, was just metres away inside the couple's home when the brutal attack took place.
But Mrs Flower only found out about her husband's death when he was found lying in a pool of blood by a couple who were delivering leaflets around the area.
During the hearing yesterday at Luton Crown Court, Babar denied murder, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
The court was told Babar, who lived opposite Mr Flower, a retired computer analyst, had fled the scene after carrying out the attack on October 22 last year by stealing the couple’s car.
He then drove north up the M1 motorway but was arrested five hours later in Kenilworth, Warwickshire.
Psychiatrists now believe Babar - who has written two books containing extreme religious rhetoric - was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia in the years leading up to the attack.
He has now been detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act.
Speaking after the hearing, Mrs Flower said she was 'heartbroken and devastated' about her husband's death.
She said: 'We have lost a good husband, father, grandfather and a kind man who was liked and respected by everyone who met him.'
At the hearing, Judge Michael Kay QC said Babar's behaviour had been 'bizarre' in the year or two before the attack, but there had been no warning that he would be violent.
The court was told that Babar had written two books in 2011 and 2012 containing extreme religious rhetoric, which had led to angry reactions from local mosques.
Babar had also been planning to hold a lecture at Luton library and had been referred to a crisis mental health team, to be treated for depression, after contact with police.
The court was told that the defendant had even been visited by police the day before the killing but had refused to let them in. Police had no power of entry and were forced to leave.
The killing took place around lunchtime the next day.
Prosecutor Beverley Cripps said: 'The defendant was in the grip of mental illness, which has since been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia. 'He had been treated for depression but not significant mental illness.'
When Babar was arrested he was fit to be interviewed, the court was told. A month later he made a statement saying he had little memory of the day.
A psychiatrist who is now treating Babar told the court that Babar was probably suffering from paranoid schizophrenia for a number of years, but it had not been diagnosed.
Judge Kay said: 'Words are inadequate to describe the extent of the tragedy which hit the Flower family completely out of the blue on October 22 last year.
'One’s heart goes out to that family. He was a good husband, father and grandfather, a man liked and respected by many people. Nothing anyone can do can put matters right.
'There is no doubt that this was a wholly unexplained and frenzied attack. 'There was no suggestion of any ill feeling or problems between you and anyone in the Flowers family.'
Speaking after the hearing, Mrs Flower said: 'I’m heartbroken and devastated at the way my husband’s life was taken. 'Len was a kind, generous and caring husband for 47 years - still fit and able. He helped anyone who asked for a favour. 'As a computer analyst he was an intelligent man, described as such by all who knew him and also very practical.
'I am lost without him as I am housebound and he was my full-time carer. 'We did everything together. The fact that a good, decent man died in such a way hurts me too much.'
Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Liz Mead, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said: 'The Flower family find themselves in tragic circumstances.
'They now have to cope without Len who should be enjoying his retirement with his wife.
'Len was killed in his own garage, where he should have been safe, but on that October afternoon Sameer Babar carried out a violent attack which has now changed the course of so many innocent lives.
'The medical experts have agreed that at the time of Mr Flower’s death, Sameer Babar was suffering from a mental illness and continues to receive the appropriate medical attention for his condition.
'Today sees some closure for the Flower family but nothing that has happened in this court room will fill the void that Len’s death has left.'
Britain has just witnessed a political arrest. Where is the liberal outrage?
Over the weekend, a candidate was arrested for addressing his potential voters. Clear aside the incidental details, scrape away the mitigating circumstances, and ponder that elemental fact. Paul Weston, standing for election to the European Parliament (against me, as it happens, in the South East) was arrested in the middle of a speech on the steps of the Winchester Guildhall.
When such a thing happens in Burma or Belarus or Bahrain, we report it in suitably shocked tones. Yet here it is happening in Britain, without any discussions on the Today Programme, any Amnesty vigils, any complaints from Liberty. To repeat, a candidate was arrested for making a hustings speech.
It is perfectly true that the candidate was attempting to provoke. He almost certainly set out with the intention of getting himself in trouble, thereby publicising his message and winning sympathy votes. He was quoting, through a megaphone, a passage written by the young Winston Churchill 1899, which says disobliging things about Muslims. Sure enough, as Weston must have been hoping, the few headlines there have been have focused on this aspect of the story: "Man Arrested for Quoting Winston Churchill".
This isn't about the provenance of the speech, though. Churchill's words are not Holy Writ. He was a an extremely prolific author, and was just as capable of writing bilge as anyone else. Nor is it about whether you agree with Weston. A few people do – many of them seem to troll this blog from their mother's basements – but, as I hope we shall see on polling day, their numbers are negligible.
Nor yet is it about the propriety of Weston's behaviour. Most British people are diffident when it comes to discussing religion, and consider insulting an entire faith the height of loutishness. Weston likes to pose as a defender of British values; but religious pluralism is one of those values as, frankly, is courtesy.
None of this, though, is relevant. In a free society, we tolerate eccentricity up to the point of madness, boorishness up to the point of intimidation, obnoxiousness up to the point of incitement. While Weston's behaviour was narcissistic, there is no evidence that he was inciting violence.
Why should it fall to me to defend him? Where are the lion-hearted liberals who are so quick to denounce political arrests in distant dictatorships? I realise that "political arrest" is a strong phrase, but it's hard to think of any other way to describe a candidate for public office being taken into police custody because of objections to the content of his pitch.
This is not the first time that the police have invented a right not to be offended, and chosen to elevate it over the basic freedoms we used to take for granted. I often wonder, as a Hampshire ratepayer, whether my local constabulary might not spend less time on politics and more on catching criminals (it hit a low point over Christmas when it chose to investigate for racism the man who had put up this sign).
The point of having elected Police Commissioners is to bring the priorities of local coppers into line with those of the community they serve. I can't see any reaction from the Hampshire and Wight Commissioner, Simon Hayes, to this case, though I've asked him via Twitter. You might like to ask him yourself.
White male checks his privilege
He’s 20, he’s white, and he’s a freshman at Princeton University.
According to the ethnic and feminist studies college students and professors who frequently and vehemently complain that this country is steeped in racism and sexism and is only fair and just and equal for white, heterosexual males – he is the poster child for so-called “White Privilege.”
His name is Tal Fortgang, and just eight months into his Ivy League experience, he’s been told on numerous occasions to “check his privilege” – a phrase that has taken social media social justice campaigning by storm.
It is meant to remind white, heterosexual males that they have it so good because they’re white, heterosexual males. They haven’t faced tough times, they don’t know what it’s like to be judged by the color of their skin.
Oh, but they do.
Those sick of being labeled are the very same ones doing it to others, and Tal Fortgang has a powerful message for them:
There is a phrase that floats around college campuses, Princeton being no exception, that threatens to strike down opinions without regard for their merits, but rather solely on the basis of the person that voiced them. “Check your privilege,” the saying goes, and I have been reprimanded by it several times this year. The phrase, handed down by my moral superiors, descends recklessly, like an Obama-sanctioned drone, and aims laser-like at my pinkish-peach complexion, my maleness, and the nerve I displayed in offering an opinion rooted in a personal Weltanschauung. “Check your privilege,” they tell me in a command that teeters between an imposition to actually explore how I got where I am, and a reminder that I ought to feel personally apologetic because white males seem to pull most of the strings in the world.
I do not accuse those who “check” me and my perspective of overt racism, although the phrase, which assumes that simply because I belong to a certain ethnic group I should be judged collectively with it, toes that line. But I do condemn them for diminishing everything I have personally accomplished, all the hard work I have done in my life, and for ascribing all the fruit I reap not to the seeds I sow but to some invisible patron saint of white maleness who places it out for me before I even arrive.
Furthermore, I condemn them for casting the equal protection clause, indeed the very idea of a meritocracy, as a myth, and for declaring that we are all governed by invisible forces (some would call them “stigmas” or “societal norms”), that our nation runs on racist and sexist conspiracies. Forget “you didn’t build that;” check your privilege and realize that nothing you have accomplished is real.Talinside
But they can’t be telling me that everything I’ve done with my life can be credited to the racist patriarchy holding my hand throughout my years of education and eventually guiding me into Princeton. Even that is too extreme. So to find out what they are saying, I decided to take their advice. I actually went and checked the origins of my privileged existence, to empathize with those whose underdog stories I can’t possibly comprehend. I have unearthed some examples of the privilege with which my family was blessed, and now I think I better understand those who assure me that skin color allowed my family and I to flourish today.
Perhaps it’s the privilege my grandfather and his brother had to flee their home as teenagers when the Nazis invaded Poland, leaving their mother and five younger siblings behind, running and running until they reached a Displaced Persons camp in Siberia, where they would do years of hard labor in the bitter cold until World War II ended.
Maybe it was the privilege my grandfather had of taking on the local Rabbi’s work in that DP camp, telling him that the spiritual leader shouldn’t do hard work, but should save his energy to pass Jewish tradition along to those who might survive.
Perhaps it was the privilege my great-grandmother and those five great-aunts and uncles I never knew had of being shot into an open grave outside their hometown. Maybe that’s my privilege.
Or maybe it’s the privilege my grandmother had of spending weeks upon weeks on a death march through Polish forests in subzero temperatures, one of just a handful to survive, only to be put in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where she would have died but for the Allied forces who liberated her and helped her regain her health when her weight dwindled to barely 80 pounds.
Perhaps my privilege is that those two resilient individuals came to America with no money and no English, obtained citizenship, learned the language and met each other; that my grandfather started a humble wicker basket business with nothing but long hours, an idea, and an iron will—to paraphrase the man I never met: “I escaped Hitler. Some business troubles are going to ruin me?” Maybe my privilege is that they worked hard enough to raise four children, and to send them to Jewish day school and eventually City College.
Perhaps it was my privilege that my own father worked hard enough in City College to earn a spot at a top graduate school, got a good job, and for 25 years got up well before the crack of dawn, sacrificing precious time he wanted to spend with those he valued most—his wife and kids—to earn that living. I can say with certainty there was no legacy involved in any of his accomplishments. The wicker business just isn’t that influential. Now would you say that we’ve been really privileged? That our success has been gift-wrapped?
That’s the problem with calling someone out for the “privilege” which you assume has defined their narrative. You don’t know what their struggles have been, what they may have gone through to be where they are. Assuming they’ve benefitted from “power systems” or other conspiratorial imaginary institutions denies them credit for all they’ve done, things of which you may not even conceive. You don’t know whose father died defending your freedom. You don’t know whose mother escaped oppression. You don’t know who conquered their demons, or may still conquering them now.
The truth is, though, that I have been exceptionally privileged in my life, albeit not in the way any detractors would have it.
It has been my distinct privilege that my grandparents came to America. First, that there was a place at all that would take them from the ruins of Europe. And second, that such a place was one where they could legally enter, learn the language, and acclimate to a society that ultimately allowed them to flourish.
It was their privilege to come to a country that grants equal protection under the law to its citizens, that cares not about religion or race, but the content of your character.
It was my privilege that my grandfather was blessed with resolve and an entrepreneurial spirit, and that he was lucky enough to come to the place where he could realize the dream of giving his children a better life than he had.
But far more important for me than his attributes was the legacy he sought to pass along, which forms the basis of what detractors call my “privilege,” but which actually should be praised as one of altruism and self-sacrifice. Those who came before us suffered for the sake of giving us a better life. When we similarly sacrifice for our descendents by caring for the planet, it’s called “environmentalism,” and is applauded. But when we do it by passing along property and a set of values, it’s called “privilege.” (And when we do it by raising questions about our crippling national debt, we’re called Tea Party radicals.) Such sacrifice of any form shouldn’t be scorned, but admired.
My exploration did yield some results. I recognize that it was my parents’ privilege and now my own that there is such a thing as an American dream which is attainable even for a penniless Jewish immigrant.
I am privileged that values like faith and education were passed along to me. My grandparents played an active role in my parents’ education, and some of my earliest memories included learning the Hebrew alphabet with my Dad. It’s been made clear to me that education begins in the home, and the importance of parents’ involvement with their kids’ education—from mathematics to morality—cannot be overstated. It’s not a matter of white or black, male or female or any other division which we seek, but a matter of the values we pass along, the legacy we leave, that perpetuates “privilege.” And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Behind every success, large or small, there is a story, and it isn’t always told by sex or skin color. My appearance certainly doesn’t tell the whole story, and to assume that it does and that I should apologize for it is insulting. While I haven’t done everything for myself up to this point in my life, someone sacrificed themselves so that I can lead a better life. But that is a legacy I am proud of.
I have checked my privilege. And I apologize for nothing.
‘We are living in a post-Christian Britain and things will get worse’ claims former Archbishop of Canterbury as Christians admit they are afraid to practise their faith
The majority of Roman Catholics and Anglicans are scared to practise their faith in ‘post-Christian’ Britain says a former archbishop of Canterbury.
Lord Williams of Oystermouth, the former Dr Rowan Williams, claims that the country is not ‘a nation of believers’ and further decline is inevitable.
While the country is not populated exclusively by atheists, the former archbishop said that the era of regular and widespread worship is over.
Lord Williams’s comments come in the wake of remarks by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, that Christians should be ‘more evangelical’ about their faith and that Britain is a Christian country.
Mr Cameron’s comments led to a plethora of atheists coming forward to claim that Britain was a secular country culminating in Nick Clegg, the deputy premier, calling for the disestablishment of the Church of England.
However, a poll for The Sunday Telegraph backs the Prime Minister with more than half the public – 56 per cent – regarding Britain as a Christian country, a figure which rises to 60 per cent among men and 73 per cent among the over 65s.
The poll also found that 48 per cent of respondents believe that Christianity receives less protection than other faiths. That figure rose to 62 per cent among non-practising Christians.
Fifty per cent of those who took part believe that Christians are afraid to express their faith because of the rise of religious fundamentalism.
Lord Williams, now the master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, has weighed into the issue telling the newspaper: ‘[Britain is] post-Christian in the sense that habitual practice for most of the population is not taken for granted. A Christian nation can sound like a nation of committed believers, and we are not that.’
‘It’s a matter of defining terms. A Christian country as a nation of believers? No. ‘A Christian country in the sense of still being very much saturated by this vision of the world and shaped by it? Yes.’
He also claimed that a lack of knowledge among people under 45 could result in ‘a further shrinkage of awareness’ although he denied that British Christians have been persecuted, a view that many would not be in agreement with.
He blamed the ‘real stupidity’ of some organisations for what many saw as the persecution of Lillian Ladele who left her job at Islington Town Hall because she refused to preside over civil partnerships for gay couples. She argued that forcing her to preside over civil partnerships went against her Christian beliefs.
In October 2006, Nadia Eweida, a Christian employee of British Airways, was asked to cover up a Christian cross, and was placed on unpaid leave when she refused either to do so or to accept a position where she did not have to cover it up.
The online survey for the newspaper polled 2,000 adults and showed further evidence of concerns that Christian beliefs are being marginalised in modern Britain.
The poll found that 62 per cent of practising Catholics and Anglicans along with 61 per cent of non-practising Christians agreed that they were scared to express their beliefs, and 56 per cent of Christians also felt that the state gives less protection to their beliefs than to those of other faith groups.
Some 14 per cent of respondents defined themselves as practising Christians, while a further 38 per cent said that they were Christian but ‘non-practising’.
The present Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby called the criticism of Mr Cameron by ‘atheist protesters’ over his remarks ‘baffling’.
He wrote in his blog that it was a ‘historical fact (perhaps unwelcome to some, but true)’ that UK law, ethics and culture were based on Christianity’s teachings and traditions.
Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Baroness Warsi, the former Conservative Party co-chairman and now the minister for faith, defended the Prime Minister: ‘Christianity is part of the landscape of this country and always will be.’
She said that large numbers of immigrants such as Polish Catholics and members of Chinese and African churches were leading to a religious revival in Britain.
‘It’s when countries have a weak identity that things start to go wrong and people start to feel that they are under threat,’ she said.
‘Sadly that’s what happened in Britain for many years. Politicians didn’t talk about their faith because they were seen to be odd to do so.’ This fuelled a rise in support for far-Right groups in the UK, she said.
‘People say they are drawn to extremist groups because they feel their identity is under threat, that they are not allowed to be who they are or believe what they believe.
‘That happens because people become unsure of what we stand for in our country. There is still sometimes a sense that the Christian heritage of Britain is not spoken about, not displayed. People don’t feel that they can dress in a Christian manner, can’t talk about Christianity and faith. These groups exploit that feeling and we have to stand up to that.’
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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.