Archive for February, 2006

Blair's Guantanamo Denial

Saturday, February 18th, 2006

So, now the UN think that Guantanamo should be closed down immediately and have even had the balls to say so in public. What's more, they have done so not in diplomatic parlance but in good old plain English. For a nation like the US who likes to "spread democracy and freedom" all over the world (gee thanks guys), the concept of having a torture camp with absolutely no legal process is nothing but total, mind boggling hypocrisy. What's more, it's utterly counter-productive in their so called "war on terror".

Everyone with more than a couple of brain cells knows it should be closed down. Government minister Peter Hain admitted that it should be closed down (after being slightly cornered by Mr Dimbleby on Question Time last week) and said that he thought Blair shared his view.

Yesterday, when Blair was asked outright whether he thought it should be closed down, he refused to say so. Instead he wriggled out of the question by mumbling something about it being an 'anomaly' that 'should be resolved sooner or later', blah, blah, blah, bollocks.

To call this state sanctioned abuse on human right an 'anomaly' is repugnant and shows once more that Blair has had his spine replaced with a bag of insipid jelly. Does he really think that Guantanamo is ok? If he doesn't then for God's sake SAY SO! And he should have the guts to tell Bush straight. Let's all see just how 'special' our relationship really is.

The conversation could go like this:

Ring ring…

"Hello George, it's Tony"
"Erm, sorry, Tony….?"
"Yes Tony…..Tony Blair…."
"Oh yes, how's Florida?"
"No, from London….in England?"
"Yes yes yes, I know London's in England. Everyone knows that! Great to hear from you! How's tricks?"
"Umm, well there seems to be a problem about your little camp in Cuba"
"I didn't think I had a holiday camp in Cuba. I've got one in a place called David…"
"No, no, camp X-Ray…Guantanamo Bay?"
"Oh sorry, yes, yes, yes…the place where we put the bad guys".
"Well the problem is that there's a lot of people who think it's wrong and that it should be closed down"
"What people think this? Is it those moaning liberals again?"
"No, actually its the UN"
"The UN? Really? Now where've I head of them before…"
"And what's more George, I think it's wrong and it will actually undermine our efforts on our war. It kind of contradicts everything we stand for in a democracy"
"But where we gonna put the god-damn terrorists?"
"That's the point really, we don't know that they are terrorists"
"Sure we do – we caught them red handed! Of course they're terrorists! They had weapons ready to kill our brave soldiers. I said we'd smoke 'em out and we did!"
"I suspect they had weapons because they didn't like the fact that we were invading their country. Anyway, the consensus is that if we think they are terrorists then we should at least put them on trial….or let them go"
"We can't put them on trial, stupid – we have no evidence!"
"Mr President, you're nuts."
"Love you too Tony. Just remember who controls your military hardware. Anyway I gotta run now, Cheney's asked me to go hunting with him and I'm a little nervous…"

Well, that's a conversation that should happen, but probably won't because we have a weak apologist of a prime minister, untroubled by morality and social justice.

Muslims score famous own goal

Friday, February 3rd, 2006

With all the furore concerning the cartoons that were published in a Danish newspaper (that first appeared in September!), can I find them on the interweb? Nope, I cannot. But certainly not for the lack of trying. I'm intrigued as to how a cartoon can be so offensive (I'm sure I'm not alone) and I would very much like to form my own opinion on them. If anyone knows where they are then please say!

The wider issue is a cultural one and slightly more serious. British culture has always used humour as a highly effective method of offering opinions, breaking taboos, stimulating debate, not to mention having a good ol' giggle. Humour is often used to exaggerate a sensitive issue that would otherwise cause offence and should not be taken at face value. That's the way we do things in this reserved country and not only is it very healthy for democracy, it is an essential tool of debate and freedom of speech. Satire is one of the most effective political tools that we have for stimulating debate and accountability – the brilliant The Thick Of It is a perfect example.

If you don't like it, then don't look at it. I wonder how many enraged fatwa'ing Muslims actually read The Satanic Verses? How did Christians react when The Life Of Brian was released? The sacking of the editor from the Danish newspaper after the cartoon's publication was a spineless mistake. It would be a good idea for all British newspapers to demonstrate a show of solidarity and simultaneously publish the cartoons.

Muslims should like it or lump it, but that's the way we do things in our culture. Respect is mutual understanding that may cause disagreement that should provoke only discussion. But instead we get the predictable burning of flags and attacks upon embassies. This shows a contemptuous lack of tolerance that perhaps speaks volumes of their own culture.