Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Help an East European child, bankrupt a charity

The new Education Bill amendments allowing teachers to physically restrain pupils and so on are all very interesting. But they don’t answer a vital question.
When removing a fundie throwback from my daughter’s classroom, can he just be thrown through a window, or do I have to open it first?
Which handily brings me to my main theme.
It’s close to that time of year when religious charlatans start begging for funds to screw up other people’s lives. Now more enlightened legislation (in the UK anyway, don’t hold your breath over here yet) makes it harder for them to peddle their bigotry in the UK, they increasingly look to East Europe or the ‘developing world’ for victims, but still rattle buckets here shamelessly – especially near Christmas.
With this in mind, time to launch a secular Christmas appeal – let’s call it ‘Help an East European child, bankrupt a charity’.
But surely, you say, those poor Romanian kids need help – even if it’s from evangelicals?
Well…..no! The decent element in East European civic society has spent two decades struggling to kill off the last hangovers from a previous era, and almost succeeded. The two remaining obstacles are bent quasi-fascist political groupings and their freeloading Western friends. I have this from no less a source than one of the ethnic Hungarian-Romanian Lutheran pastors whose activities kicked off the 1989 uprising, who says wealthy western evangelical groups like Samaritan’s Purse are a bigger obstacle to multicultural community cohesion in his and surrounding countries than Ceacescu and his ilk ever were.
As my East European friends and relatives joke – they send us plumbers, electricians, doctors, nurses and others to keep our creaking service industries going. And we send in return unemployable, superstitious village idiots to collaborate with corrupt politicians, not only revive dead ethnic conflicts but start new sectarian ones, cream off EU funds from local initiatives and generally drag things back to the 1930’s.
It isn’t just friends over there who note this. To the elegant, multilingual East European women working here in offshore finance, the funniest thing about locals isn’t their dowdy clothes, parochial attitude to the world, or inability to do basic maths or speak other languages, but their limited knowledge of British history, vocabulary, spelling or grammar. The word most used locally in Czech, Polish, Hungarian or Russian for ‘Manx’ translates as ‘peasant’. In their eyes, this is the Third World, and the sooner they’re back in a place with shops, cinemas, theatre – or just adequate plumbing – the better!
In return for their invaluable expertise, the least we could do is tell our evangelical bucket rattlers to sod off and find a job. Even some of them can’t be too dumb to stack shelves in Tesco.

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