Tuesday, 19 May 2009

War on the hard of thinking

Folk who know me know how irritated I get at the laziness of ‘liberal opinion’, and in particular the way in which there’s a conspiracy of blandness which stops anyone here asking proper questions about vital things like charities or the voluntary and public sector.
According to this fuzzy logic, all charities and social workers are nice and everything to do with the finance sector is nasty or crooked, so only nasty free market types ask awkward questions. It’s like being tazered by the Mothers Union some days trying to hold incompetent or just outright dangerous ‘charity initiatives’ to account.
The funny thing is, these are comfortable Guardianistas grumbling. I don’t even get this from the evangelicals or conservative clergy whose ideas and actions I am 'naturally' supposed to disagree with most.
In fact, only the other day one vicar, absolutely tongue in cheek, offered to pray for me when I have my op next month. He needs me to get out intact. Who amongst his own flock causes him to question everything he believes on a weekly basis?
So while checking out the sites on the sidebar I’ve been particularly inspired by folk putting minority views who make new arguments when the established one would probably get them a nice safe grant or steady employment.
Take Turkish journalist Ayse Onal, whose work has already got her blacklisted. When writing about honour killings it would be so easy to tap into a mainstream Western sentiment that the men who carry them out are just subhuman, or play on some hardcore feminist sentiment that ‘all men are bastards, so what do you expect?’
She doesn’t. She faces the hard fact that people who enable or commit such killings are also, while not exactly victims, at least socially trapped between a rock and a hard place. In a new book and documentary she talks to them too, and it sounds like stuff we should pay attention to when calling for national or international change to stop the killings. You can find out more about that at http://www.stophonourkillings.com/?name=News&file=article&sid=3603
Then there’s Peter Hitchens, the Hitchens brother who isn’t a secular saint and isn’t beyond putting a view that liberal atheist types find objectionable. Still, I was quite taken a while back with his account of being unable to take part in a university debate because some leftie rentamob or other thought a rightwinger like him shouldn’t be speaking in the first place.
As I recall, the debate was on legalisation of drugs and he was up against Howard Marks, but had recently sounded off about another topic – possibly to do with the right of David Irving to put his obnoxious views if only so that he could be slapped down by someone with at least half a brain. What was noteworthy was that while Marks could have just had a cosy chat with sympathetic studes, plugged his book and pocketed the appearance fee he also refused to go on if he couldn’t have a stand-up row and take the chance of having his views ripped apart by Hitchens.
So in an Index on Censorship piece at http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2009/05/15/peter-hitchens-bring-back-arguments/ Hitchens says that we’ve lost that ‘inch of difference’ between Left and Right that used to be the place where feisty but fruitful arguments took place between folk who hated each other’s views, but valued the chance to put each other straight without getting arrested or punched in the face before they could finish a sentence. As Hitchen says, what also matters is that the views on both sides were each radical, different or unpopular, and a polite 21st century ‘consensus’ means nothing serious gets discussed and there are no intelligent routes out of the grey muddle we seem to live in, even though nobody remembers consenting to it in the first place.
Crikey, me telling folk to go read the ‘wrong’ Hitchens brother for inspiration. If that doesn’t show how bad things are, I don’t know what does.

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