Monday, March 27, 2006

I may be right, I may be wrong, but I'm perfectly willing to swear

Andrew Apostolou at Michael J. Totten's site describes his experiences at the Trafalgar Square rally for free speech recently held in London and notes of the police practice of photographing the demonstrators, though one commenter at the site suggested it was to identify pickpockets working the crowd.

One of the ways in which the police in repressive societies intimidate people is by turning up at protest meetings and taking pictures of them. What, then, are we supposed to make of this behaviour in London yesterday? Note that this is the same Metropolitan Police that did nothing about demonstrators who incited to violence in May 2005 and then only responded in February 2006 after a public outcry.

One of the photographs of the rally available at Nordishnet shows Iranian-born Maryam Namazie, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, speaking to the crowd.

The caption at Nordishnet says:

See the guy to the right of Maryam... he is pointing out something in the crowd to the police. I believe he may be the complainer that the police was talking about in the BBC article!

"Police said there had been no arrests but officers did receive a complaint about the message on one protester's placard. A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said officers spoke to the man and he was later allowed to rejoin the demonstration. "The complainant stated they felt threatened by a placard they believed depicted the Prophet Muhammad," she said. "Details of the complaint, together with evidence gathered by police are to be passed to the Crown Prosecution Service."

There's no way of confirming who the man was pointing to, but a demonstrator was warned by police for displaying "a banner containing the controversial Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad", according to Yahoo News.

British police officers speak to Iranian Reza Moradi, 29, who displayed a banner containing the controversial Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, at a demonstration rally supporting freedom of expression in Trafalgar Square, London, Saturday March 25, 2006. About 200 people held a free-speech demonstration in central London on Saturday, with several displaying posters of the cartoons that infuriated much of the Muslim world

That's an uh-uh, buddy

The other thing that was apparently frowned upon was the display of flags, such as for example, the American flag.

That's another no-no, buddy

Samizdata which was at Trafalgar Square says that "according to a warden, there is allegedly a by-law against flying national flags in Trafalgar Square, which I find hard to believe as I always see Palestinian flags and (burning) US or Israeli flags when ever folks from the Middle East protest in Trafalgar Square... so the Danish Flags here became 'Danish Shawls'" ... and the American flag became another theme  scarf in crowd suddenly well-supplied with scarves.

These are shawls! This is a Dr. Who scarf



I've tried unsuccessfully to determine the date of the by-law against flying national flags in Trafalgar Square. The by-law apparently wasn't there on November 30, 2005, when at a Rally for Palestine several Palestinian Flags were planted on Nelson's column itself as may be seen at the Justify This! blog. Maybe the Palestinian flag isn't considered a national flag and is exempt from the ban. (Nelson's Column is in the middle of Trafalgar Square)

There's more on the ban on displaying of non-UK flags here, though it's not much. There's a what looks like a pro-Palestine website (complete with audio) showing pretty much a sea of Palestinian flags right on the steps of the National Gallery (including a flag of Hizbullah if you scroll down far enough at Nelson's column). And here again on Nelson's Column.

Here's an Al Jazeerah opinion editorial from November 2003 written by  G.R.D. King, a Reader in Islamic Art and Archaeology, SOAS, University of London.

"When the papier maché Bush statue had fallen on its face in Trafalgar Square, I turned from a conversation with a professor of mathematics I had just met — it was an educated demonstration — and a flag brushed my head. I looked up and saw the flag of Palestine, an apt symbolic ending to the day. The massed girls in black hijab, all fasting for Ramadan, marching with those accusing flags, the red, green and black tricolor of the Holy Land, all of them recognizing better than ever Bush has done that the root cause of the alienation, of our deep and present dangers is the injustice that is daily and relentlessly dealt to the Palestinians. Those flags, so numerous, so liberally scattered among the marchers, Geporge W. Bush ought surely to have seen them. They might have brought him some understanding of cause and effect."

"Those flags, so numerous, so liberally scattered among the marchers" were welcome where the United States and Danish flags were not? Maybe the by-law has been newly enacted.


Blogger Doug said...

Maybe we should all crawl under our beds for the duration.

3/27/2006 02:23:00 AM  
Blogger Fabio said...

I went to the manifestation, and I have more pictures up at my blog.

I arrived after the reported incidents occurred, but the Cartoons of Blasphemy were still being diplayed.

3/27/2006 02:47:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Thanks Fabio.

3/27/2006 02:50:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen West said...

I was at the rally to support Israel in Trafalgar Square in 2002. There were thousands of Israeli flags. So unless the by-law was brought in recently...

3/27/2006 02:56:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

“Do not ask over whom the scimitar hangs, it hangs over thee”.
American Thinker

3/27/2006 03:24:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

The Motoons demonstration was out of bounds. Heads should have been busted and limbs permanently rearranged. Since when does free speech allow nut jobs to publicly announce their intention to kill your children?

Murder for fun signs are OK but Danish flags are not? Who is making the call on police rules of engagement? Is it the Mayor of London? I expected a little more manliness from the Brits than I've seen so far.

3/27/2006 03:36:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


In fairness, I think the Islamist demonstrators toting the "slaughter the infidel" placards were later charged with incitement. As per the BBC quote the Iranian gentleman may be hearing from the Crown Prosecution Service for carrying his Mohammed cartoon.

3/27/2006 03:47:00 AM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

Yeah, right!

May Day 2005, Trafalgar Square

3/27/2006 04:15:00 AM  
Blogger erp said...

Fab - Cartoons of blasphemy! I love it.

3/27/2006 04:50:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

The intrusion of the police into what for all that seems a perfectly peaceful demonstration of opinion is disturbing but not at all surprising. Our British cousins have no 1st Amendment protections; indeed, they have no constitution as that would be understood by any average American. While an American can confidently posit that he “holds these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights", not so the average Yorkshireman. No, because his nation is quintessentially European, which is to say politically unsophisticated, his rights derive from the prevailing wisdom of the dominate monarch, party, or parliament.
And if he so foolish as to exclaim, for instance, that the Prince of Wales’ latest excursion into the land of Islam is nothing short of the lunatic ravings of a doddering, perpetually puerile baby boomer, well, he just might find himself sued for liable. European elites, particularly British, seriously guard their honor. It is no accident that Tom Cruise has chosen the friendly courts of the UK to make his legal stands for personal heterosexuality.

Because the founders of English speaking America sought refuge from the aristocratic whims of their time and because the Founding Fathers could no longer tolerate the caprice of oligarchs, the sui generis experiment of Americanism began. And despite imperfection, Americans have done well. No people have expended more to insure liberty and justice for all. Had the sophists of Europe expended one hundredth as much effort in the same cause, most of the murder, destruction, and tragedy of the internecine political strife punctuating European history, and by projection the rest of the world, could have been avoided.

Americans need feel no shame or inferiority for their history and institutions. During the last century, contrary to the express purpose, wisdom, and wishes of the founders, the US became embroiled in the ritual murder endemic to Europe. Twice during the last century America saved Europe from itself. Once again, Europe is threatened with a mortal danger brought about by the pathologic denial of human nature. Without American intervention, Europe may be destroyed by a militant Islamofascistic cohort welcomed with open arms by the elites into the bosom of the continent. And again, European bungling has placed America herself at risk. With steely resolve America will once more rise to the occasion; Islamism will be eliminated, no matter how long the struggle or how great the price. Surrender is the only other alternative, and Americans are not losers. On this occasion, however, it is hoped that some American leader, when faced with the supercilious criticism of a Villipen, will say, at long last, “Take a hike.”

3/27/2006 05:46:00 AM  
Blogger snowonpine said...

I wonder is this hands off attitude toward Islamic protestors and hands on attitude toward these free speech protestors is Red Ken's doing, London police policy at work or is it national policy we are seeing here. In any case it seems to be dhimmitude in action.

3/27/2006 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger J said...

i noticed your link to the trafalgar sq pro terror rally last year. Not only were there flags of Iran, Lebanon, Fascistine, but there were numerous flags of Hezbollah. The crowd (and speakers such as Azzam Tamimi) repeatedly declared their support for Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah, and repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel and the waging of Jihad. Islamic prayers were sang (again at the base of the column) for about 15 minutes in total. Meanwhile the police looked on from a safe distance, no photos were taken and no-one was asked to remove and flags. The video was taken down due to demand, and I'm currently re-editing it to reduce the length a bit. Hopefully I will have it back online soon.

3/27/2006 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Yo, Stephen! You here, too?

Or am I looking for Steven, who posts on my blog, Brain Surgery with Spoons?

3/27/2006 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

Have any Muslim religious leaders in other nations (i.e. the U.S.) spoken publicly about the Afghani apostate? I have not noticed anything. If not, it is another check in the "there are no moderate Muslims/this is a war against all of Islam, not just a small percentage of nuts" column.

3/27/2006 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger StoutFellow said...

In fairness, I think the Islamist demonstrators toting the "slaughter the infidel" placards were later charged with incitement

IIRC, there were many more than the 5 facing charges who were carrying signs espousing violence against the West. By contrast, I see no signs calling for violence at the demonstration which is the subject of the current post. For whatever reason, the Brits and the Euros seemed to have given the Islamists protected status. There seems to be a PC prescription that states "Thou shall not criticize thy Islamist neighbor, nor his wife, nor his ass". Those who do are subject to what may become a A New Inqusition

Father Samuel has been prosecuted for “incitement to racist hatred” by the Belgian government’s inquisition agency, the so-called Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism (CEOOR), because of a remark he made in a 2002 television interview when he said:

“Every thoroughly islamized Muslim child that is born in Europe is a time bomb for Western children in the future. The latter will be persecuted when they have become a minority.”

....Father Samuel’s passport gives his name as Charles-Clément Boniface. That is not entirely correct. He was born in 1942 in Midyat, Turkey, as Samuel Ozdemir. The latter is a surname the priest dislikes because, he explains, it was imposed on his family by the Turks. Samuel was a Christian: “At home we spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus.” The Aramaics are a Catholic minority in Syria and Turkey. They speak an old Semitic language, which Jesus and the apostles used

3/27/2006 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

he latter is a surname the priest dislikes because, he explains, it was imposed on his family by the Turks. Samuel was a Christian: “At home we spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus.” The Aramaics are a Catholic minority in Syria and Turkey. They speak an old Semitic language, which Jesus and the apostles used

the language of Jesus?

the language of the JEWS....

opps, that's right, they never did exist did they?

3/27/2006 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Does anyone know if the police were as diligent in their surveillance of the cartoon protests, where the signs -- promoting murder --were far more provocative than Danish flags?

3/27/2006 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The Islamic demonstrators with placards calling for heads to roll generally have good lawyers. The Islamic fronts do a good job of hiring expert legal assistance, and there is plenty of ME oil money to pay for it. The are well aware of the legal consequences of 'infringing' on the rights of Islamic demonstrators.

Contrast this legal representation of those waving Danish flags. The Danish flag wavers were undoubtedly disconnected citizens with little funds for legal action.

In brief, the Islamic demonstrators represent threats to one's law-enforcement career, the Danish flag wavers might provide some advancement opportunities.

Given these environmental conditions, it isn't hard to anticipate who will get photographed.

3/27/2006 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Sorry. Thanks Wretchard.

3/27/2006 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The Islamic demonstrators with placards calling for heads to roll generally have good lawyers. The Islamic fronts do a good job of hiring expert legal assistance, and there is plenty of ME oil money to pay for it. The are well aware of the legal consequences of 'infringing' on the rights of Islamic demonstrators.

Contrast this legal representation of those waving Danish flags. The Danish flag wavers were undoubtedly disconnected citizens with little funds for legal action.

In brief, the Islamic demonstrators represent threats to one's law-enforcement career, the Danish flag wavers might provide some advancement opportunities.

Given these environmental conditions, it isn't hard to anticipate who will get photographed.

3/27/2006 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/27/2006 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Good analysis nonomous.

The West's rules, institutions and decency are constantly being used against it.

Islamists seem to have taken Sun Tzu's admonition about knowing their enemy to heart.

3/27/2006 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger J said...

"Does anyone know if the police were as diligent in their surveillance of the cartoon protests, where the signs -- promoting murder --were far more provocative than Danish flags?"

cosmo, i have pics of that rally as the protesters were walking through the west end. the police were escorting them and mingled amongst the crowd. and no, none were taking photos.

3/27/2006 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

The Rally for Freedom participants all seemed to carry about them an air of "respectability" and therefore cruelly surprised to be treated in "that way". For some reason I couldn't help but think of the whites in South Africa or the British public school boys of the 1920s wondering where they had made a wrong turn. The world had changed in some way and they no longer recognized it.

The Rally for Freedom numbers were very small in comparison to the Rallies for Palestine shown following the links in the post.

3/27/2006 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

phil j,

"Nevertheless, WW2 was the greatest moral fight in history and we happened to be first into the fray."

Not entirely true. There Republican Spain before Britain. And Czechkoslovakia. And if you include Japan in the Second War, the long agony of China running through the 1930s. Some might even say that the policies of Baldwin and Chamberlain had something to do with the existence of the fray itself.

There was an interesting book written just a few years ago about how near Britain came to some kind of peace with Hitler following the fall of France. Britain was at it's heroic best in 1940. But it is not as if she leapt into the fray on moral principle. She grasped the sword almost too late.

3/27/2006 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger J said...

"The Rally for Freedom numbers were very small in comparison to the Rallies for Palestine shown following the links in the post."

ever hear the experession, "quality not quanity"?

and remember, the nazis had the biggest rallies. does that mean we should have given up in view of their "support"?

oh and whit, it's called the "covenant of peace". sort of a you don't bomb us and we'll let you preach as much death and destruction as that mein kampf of mohammed contains. the problem was, on july the 7th that "covenant" was officially broken, but our dhimmi leaders and press carried on like nothing had happened. it was back to the good old days of tolerating intolerance.

3/27/2006 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Protesters will be photographed. They are photographed covertly for intelligence purposes, and if they drove in a car, the lic. plate is likely recorded, it doesn't stop there. When groups and individuals are openly photographed it is likely to say, "Lets all be on our best behaviour, we're watching".

Surveillance is the prime weapon of law enforcement in our new, enlightened age.

3/27/2006 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

The world had changed in some way and they no longer recognized it.

An insightful way to explain the otherwise unexplainable. This article from The Gates of Vienna tends to confirm the disaster that has already occurred in Sweden.

When do ordinary Swedes, in this case, start to lash back and do for themselves what their government will not. Or do they?

3/27/2006 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Don't know whit. The world is starting to look like Clockwork Orange from the wrong side of the screen.

3/27/2006 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger J said...

"Is it Red Ken's Londonistan or what?"

:) we have a winner.

"What happened over there? After 7/7, Blair and Company were saying the right words but it was all talk. Nothing happened."

i don't know why, but i do know the problem is 100's of times worse than the top brass are letting on. check this link out for instance.
it's only going to get worse if we don't acknowledge the problem.

3/27/2006 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Nice post, Phil. I never really understood what "Peace In Our Time" meant. Now I know it meant "just long enough to rearm".

3/27/2006 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...


Didn't Hitler himself say that had his move into the Saar been opposed that he would have backed down?

Who knows. Perhaps an early setback to Libensraum would have produced a different dynamic in German politics and a less onerous outcome in 1939.

3/27/2006 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Phil J,

"Chamberlain got the timing right". Chamberlain fought in Poland after he had thrown the Czechkoslovakian sword away. The Czechs had a considerable army, but actually persuaded the Czechs to surrenderto Hitler. He missed every opportunity to ally with the Soviet Union before September 1939 until he was trumped by Ribbentropp. The British Government famously failed to stop Hitler from going into the Rhineland at a time when Allied conventional forces were so much larger than Hitler's. These events are well known. Chamberlain and Baldwin. The men of Munich.

In fact, by the time Poland was invaded, there were still those who argued against hostilities because there was no way British forces could aid the Poles. So why fight? Until the Nazis invaded the West there was no substantial land clash of arms because the Allies could get no purchase. We remember the interregnum as the Phoney War.

All in all, it is really not correct to say that Chamberlain timed the Second World War well. That's why he's remembered for what he was. As Churchill put it, one of the men who turned the victory of the Great War into the death trap of 1939.

As to the span of the Second War. It's conventional. But clearly the Spanish Government (Republican Spain was the official government) was in the field against Hitler before Britain. Even Ethiopia was in combat against Mussolini before Britain. And France, let us not forget, was in at the same time even if you consider September, 1939 as the starting gun.

To arbitrary eliminate China from the context of the Second World War is to miss half the drama, one which had huge consequences for Australia. Japan was in combat against the Soviet Union and waging massive battles in southern China. The Pacific theater was a relatively minor theater to Britain. But Australia watched the rise of militarist Japan with existential horror, yet was told that through fortress Singapore Britain would ride to the rescue. Singapore was nothing but a bluff. And how completely Australia trusted in Britain -- and Chamberlain's policy -- is well remembered. When the Japanese were coming down the Solomons, most of the Australian Army was fighting for Britain in the Middle East while the Japanese were closing in from the north. There are headstones in every Australian War memorial which read Syria, Crete, and even against Vichy France. Australia's most expensive military campaign in World War 2 was not against Japan. It was as part of Bomber Command against Hitler, losing 3,500 men in the effort. Australia truly threw itself across the Nazi juggernaut from the beginning and was more in evidence it is fair to say, than Britain was against Japan en route to Australia, because Britain by then had no resources to spare. And certainly not because Chamberlain had timed it right.

3/27/2006 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

In regards to Baldwin and Chamberlain's policies causing WWII, I suggest you read the book "While Amerca Sleeps" by Donald and Frederick Kagan.

The book details - quite exhaustively - the manner in which Great Britain stepped back from the commitment required to prevent WWII, and did so immediately after WWI.

It was not Chamberlain and Baldwin alone who bore the responsibility but a whole series of British leaders going back 20 years. Chamberlain and Baldwin were just the ones who had it happen on their watch - but still did not do what was required to forestall war.

Well before the Anshulus with Austria and the occupation of Czechlovokia the German Army General Staff proposed to the British and French that they stage a coup and kill Hitler. They wanted not assistance but merely assurances that the key foreign governments would recognize the new German government. The British and French reaction wa sone of absolute horror.

3/27/2006 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Brussels Prosecutes Aramaic Priest and Fugitive for Islamophobia

The crime? This prescient quote made in 2002:

“Every thoroughly islamized Muslim child that is born in Europe is a time bomb for Western children in the future. The latter will be persecuted when they have become a minority.”

Today's European death wish is no joke either.

3/27/2006 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

PB, wonder if these things will get the dynamite treatment?

3/27/2006 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Phil J,

Re: “Whoa, slow down little brother”

Permit to apologize for my untimely reply to your thoughtful, lengthy post. Thank you.

With respect, I think that you have erected a strawman, albeit, a very thought provoking and entertaining one.

It would be absurd to argue, which I do not, that the American founders were not influenced by England. They were also strongly influenced by the Hebrew canon and to a far lesser degree by the French Encyclopedists. On the whole, however, these avatars, in life, had no more efficacious political clout than I on American foreign policy.

“Magna Carta (1215) clarified the earliest notions of rights and of the principles of ‘rule of law’”: With respect, ‘notions’ do not a constitution make.

“almost all its main influences from English constitutional practice and from English and Scottish legal and philosophical theory.”: Again with respect, and while the statement is self-evidently true, these do not a constitution make.

The citation of McDonald is incontestable. However, even at the risk of redundancy, ‘constitutional’ is an adjective, while “a” or “the” constitution connotes a noun. McDonald does not, cannot, make the claim for the English Constitution or an English Constitution; no such animal existed at the time of the constitutional convention.

Any American may travel to Philadelphia and there view the founding documents of the American republic. These documents, with strikingly stark brevity, enumerate the rights of every American and set forth the definition of what it means to be a man (neuter gender) and an American. Most importantly to Americanism, the Declaration and the Constitution unabashedly claim that the rights of every American citizen come directly from the Creator. Consequently, the founders claimed as divine right a standing for the lowest yeoman that only monarchs and their minions, I am thinking here of James VI, had heretofore the temerity to claim for themselves. This reliance upon the divine origin of the rights of man is unqualifiedly and uniquely American. Neither Magna Carta nor the Bill of Rights of 1689 venture to make such a claim. In the case of Magna Carta, perhaps, you would agree that England's Norse barons would have found shocking the leveling or democratic principles you suggest as integral to their understanding of Magna Carta.

As an admirer of Kipling, I would never countenance the disparagement of the bravery of the Britain. Furthermore, since my late father and my every late paternal and maternal uncle fought beside Commonwealth troops in Africa, Asia, and Europe, none had anything other than the highest regard for these brothers in arms, no question is possible. However, the élan of Tommy has no more relevance to the competence Britain’s elite than the fanatical valor of Johnny Reb had to the moral vacuum of the Southern aristocracy.

As a single, insufficient example, of America saving the European bacon may I say “Lend Lease?”

Finally, as a Texan, I will take your “little brother” epithet in the down-home spirit in which it was, no doubt, rendered.

3/27/2006 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

You gotta be from Dallas, ain't nobody else around hyar can write that good.

3/27/2006 06:29:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

buddy larson,

Nope – south Texas

Now at RAFB, GA, playing Vesta to my wife’s Mars

3/27/2006 06:43:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

But, I don't think anybody but the Brits saved the Brits from Hitler. He wasn't even going to try to go after 'em again--1940 was plenty. When they wouldn't even consider parley, after the Fall of France, after Dunkirk, after the Blitz (a large chunk of the Luftwaffe splashed,and Londoners still going about their business cheerfully).

3/27/2006 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Two More Time Bombs

Today's American death wish is no joke either.

3/27/2006 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

brown line,

Well said!

To truly understand the reluctance of Americans to further involve themselves in the endless internecine homicide of Europe, I recommend, as I did to an LTC friend, a pre-exit trip to Verdun. There, one may glimpse the futility, the tragedy of murder on an industrial scale.

By all means, view in silent remorse and respect the ossuary. Try, if you will to capture at a glance the enormity of the military cemetery. These will merely suffice a as glimpse of the enormity of the evil done at Verdun. To capture the totality, carefully reconnoiter the terrain upon entering the field of battle. To the casual observer, the verdant encasement of the stilted, deformed, grotesque shrubbery that has replaced the once sylvan splendor of a proud ancient forest may appear as moss. It is not. Rather, it is a constricting, suffocating, omnipresent slime. The landscape is tortured, convulsed, churned. How could it be otherwise, having been raped by the onslaught of one thousand rounds of ordinance per square meter? Here, brave, valiant, doomed men, like us, once huddled, hunkered, and hugged the earth of myriad earthworks, doubtless praying to a deaf deity for escape, or at least redemption. None came, as their overlords, safely ensconced to the rear, blithely, remorselessly, ordered senseless attack and counterattack into the unyielding grinder of men’s flesh. Verdun was Hell’s ebullient charnel house. And to their credit, if credit it may be, by the tens, no, hundreds of thousands, Europe’s sons threw themselves into the breach, without complaint or mutiny. If ever a field of battle demanded that sheer valor prevail over cruel circumstance, logistics, and the prideful avarice of aristocratic place, it was Verdun.

Before political correctness, Verdun was a multicultural mistress of death. It mattered not the race, ethnicity, religion, political, or professional status of the sacrifice, Moloch graciously, complacently accepted every soul to the pyre. A man, any man, was a man. To speak of the epitome of European civilization, culture, sophistication, and, yes, suicidal gallantry, never forget Verdun because Verdun has never forgotten.

While well marked with appropriately detailed signage, as are all things in Europe, for the soldier it is frivolous waste. From 20 kilometers distance the field of battle radiates its presence. The smell, touch, taste, sight, and sound are overwhelming to the sensitive soul. The dead lie not in quiet repose at Verdun, awaiting some future resurrection. How could they, since most were denied the common decency of civilized interment. Instead, the unclaimed putrefied corpses were pulverized, ground into the very essence of the land, a perpetually toxic indictment of the insatiable hubris of effete, barbaric elites. Amazingly, after ninety years, nature has not reclaimed this ghastly bit of real estate as her own. It remains as firmly in Death’s grip as on that far away summer’s day when the dance macabre began.

Have Europeans been willing to fight for a cause of consequence to their cultural milieu, of course they have. In this respect, they are no different than their American country cousins. The difference lies in the meaning of consequence. While Americans have given their lives by the tens of thousands to end an institution such as slavery, they have little stomach for sacrifice to shibboleths and big-endian vs. little-endian European campaigns.

3/27/2006 10:46:00 PM  
Blogger tomdg said...

I'm amused by Allen's view of US and European history. Quote: "his nation is quintessentially European, which is to say politically unsophisticated". That's very funny.

For the record: we had democracy in europe about 2000 years before it reached the US constitution.

The nations of europe have learned through experience that colonialism and colonial wars are not in anyone's interests. Current US foreign policy shows the same level of sophistication as British policy during the Boer war (100 years ago).

The British invented concentration camps like Guantanamo bay, but we don't use them any more as we no longer consider them civilised.

It may be a coincidence, but Geneva, as in the Geneva Convention, is also in Europe. I'm not sure the convention applies to the US any more, but we kind of like it.

Yes, we've had some terrible wars in Europe particularly in the last century. We would have had far fewer wars if, like the Americans, each group of immigrants had completely massacred everyone who previously lived in the land and taken their land by force.

The US didn't defeat Germany in either the first or second world wars. The numbers of US troops in Europe were miniscule compared to the British and French (WWI) and Russians (WWII) respectively. On the positive side, you probably saved us from Stalinism in 1945 and that's very much appreciated.

We in Britain used to practice US-style absolute capitalism. Our commercial interests ran most of the world, just like America's do now. But after the potato famine (and a bigger but less famous famine in India) we realized that absolute capitalism was inhumane and A Bad Thing. Some people in America have learned this too, but not enough to stop it being the policy of both their major parties.

In parts of the UK there are as many as four major political parties. Some of the more advanced European democracies have even more. They find that having more than two options gives the voters a meaningful choice.

You don't have to be a millionaire to be elected in the UK. Our ex-PM John Major even grew up in a council house.

In the UK, we have a national health service which provides health care to everyone based solely on need and is free at the point of provision. We've actually had it for 50 years, during which time we've become a much more egalitatian society. One day I'm sure the US will try to do the same thing.

Yes, we in Europe can learn from America, but I think maybe America has quite a lot to learn from us too.

3/28/2006 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...


Oh, yes, I seem to have forgotten Athenian democracy: Plato’s Republic and all that. I am, admittedly, a bit rusty, but some facts may be conjured from memory. In the utopian polis, at least half the population was unmanumitted chattel. The female demographic of the metropolis, while not technically ad valorum accoutrement, were without suffrage; ditto minors, “barbarian” minorities, and the unpropertied. Relying solely on memory, here, I seem to recall that considerably less than ten percent of the entire public was potentially eligible for the blessing of participatory democracy.

Additionally, I should add that while America is forever popularly stylized as a “democracy”, it is no such thing. Remembering such unpleasantaries as the execution of Socrates, the banishment of Pericles, the Peloponnesian War, and that nasty bit of work on Sicily, America’s founders avoided democracy like the plaque. According to no less an authority than Dr. Franklin, America is a republic. A centuries’ long struggle continues to keep it that way.

Although some Americans of influence were infected by the bug of imperialism, the general public was never enamored of the idea. Americans are reluctant legionnaires and even more reluctant colonizers. Had the reality been otherwise, the vast wealth of both Canada and Mexico would have been irresistibly tempting. On the whole, Americans have been far too busy taking care of business (which is, of course, business) to underwrite the profligate expense of acquiring, administering, maintaining, and defending colonies.

Yes, Great Britain holds the semantic distinction of inventing the “concentration camp.” However, your use of the term demonstrates the difficulty of more than facetious debate faced by those who support the GWOT. You see, a dialog can occur only if both parties hold sacrosanct the inviolability of common parlance. While the wisdom of and the necessity for Gitmo are subjects upon which reasonable men may disagree, your wanton mischaracterization of the prison on Cuba as a concentration camp makes such discussion impossible. Gitmo is no more a concentration camp than was the brutal prisoner of war camp at Andersonville.

The Geneva Convention is held in high regard by America. We are signatories. But, coverage under the terms of the convention requires a whole host of prerequisites: lawful combat while in uniform, for instance. While occasionally expressing ad hoc doubts as to the political viability of an enterprise like Gitmo, the government of the UK has not, to my knowledge, ever considered the residents there as persons covered under the Geneva Convention. When Her Majesties’ government makes such a claim, the government of the United States will give that claim the considered respect it deserves. However, your insistence that an aardvark is an avocado will not make it so.

It is apparent to me that you have some strong scruple about the GWOT. As an American, my visceral instinct is to support your right to freely express ideas with which I may whole heartedly disagree. Having said that, I cannot imagine how the serial misrepresentation of facts will advance your cause; particularly when sufficient supporting, respectable evidence lies instantly at hand.

3/28/2006 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...


3/28/2006 07:02:00 PM  

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