Laurie Penny, Chagos Islanders And Mormon women

Jake Wallis Simons is better than the average Tory, certainly the Daily Telegraph could do with better writers and a wider intellectual pool of ideas.

Nevertheless I was somewhat shocked and pleased to read his In defence of Laurie Penny:

“Call me contrarian, but I quite like being friends with people who come at life from markedly different perspectives. Not only does it broaden one’s own point of view, but it prevents one from plumping for one’s political preconceptions, and instead consider each issue on its own merits. If you’ll indulge me for a moment, I feel an Adorno quote coming on: “Thought that does not capitulate before wretched existence comes to nought before its criteria, truth becomes untruth, philosophy becomes folly”. Indeed. Facebook is nothing if not a stream of “wretched existence”, and sometimes it is wise to allow thought to capitulate before it – or at least allow for that possibility.

Here’s the thing. In recent weeks and months, it has been impossible to read Laurie’s status updates without being shocked at the sheer volume and viciousness of the hatred she is subjected to online. If you have the stomach for it, google something like “Laurie Penny hate”. The results are appalling. People have threatened and insulted her in the very worst terms, and have even gone so far as to post cartoons of her being abused and beaten up.

Now, Laurie Penny is a provocative and controversial figure, and a lot of people find her intensely irritating. It is only to be expected that she will attract a fair amount of friction. Even David Starkey took leave of his manners and tried to intimidate her in the most atrocious way. But look: call me old-fashioned, but didn’t there use to be such a thing as a civilised disagreement? “

To say the Chagos Islanders have been treated despicably would be serious understatement, John Pilger elaborates:

“Before the Americans came, more than 2,000 people lived on the islands in the Indian Ocean, many with roots back to the late 18th century. There were thriving villages, a school, a hospital, a church, a railway and an undisturbed way of life. The islands were, and still are, a British crown colony. In the 1960s, the government of Harold Wilson struck a secret deal with the United States to hand over the main island of Diego Garcia. The Americans demanded that the surrounding islands be “swept” and “sanitized”. Unknown to Parliament and to the US Congress and in breach of the United Nations Charter, the British Government plotted with Washington to expel the entire population.

After demonstrating on the streets of Mauritius in 1982, the exiled islanders were given the derisory compensation of less than £3,000 per person by the British government. In the film, former inhabitants Rita Bancoult and Charlesia Alexis tell of how, in accepting the money, they were tricked into signing away their right to return home: “It was entirely improper, unethical, dictatorial to have the Chagossian put their thumbprint on an English legal, drafted document, where the Chagossian, who doesn’t read, know or speak any English, let alone any legal English, is made to renounce basically all his rights as a human being.” “

Geoffrey Robinson has argued very persuasively, Britain must end its sordid treatment of the Chagossian people now.

This is a rather poor summary by BBC News.

The UK Chagos Support Association’s statement.

The European Court of Human Rights trial documents.

A leak communication shows that the Foreign and Commonwealth office do not regret the deportation of the Chagos Islanders:

“Establishing a marine reserve might, indeed, as the FCO’s Roberts stated, be the most effective long-term way to prevent any of the Chagos Islands’ former inhabitants or their descendants from resettling in the [British Indian Ocean Territory]. “

The Guardian’s section on the Chagos Islands, is quite informative.

A ITN clip on the Chagos Islands.

Elsewhere, I didn’t appreciate that there were feminists amongst the Mormons, the New York Times explains.

In other news, an Amnesty International official gets a minor slap on the wrist for a racist joke. Obviously AI think it is the wrong type of racism to warrant serious complaint, otherwise he would have been reprimanded more severely.

Lowri Turner as a serious dig at gays when she says:

“…so I think gay men are ill-suited to representing the interests of the population in general. However much I love my gay friends, I don’t want them running the country.”

Previously, she employed the old standby “I should say that not only are some of my best friends gay, but…”.

It is that lingering ‘but’ that gives it away, a fine combination of stupidity and prejudice and Ms Turner is certainly not immune from them, whoever her friends are.

Depressing but a necessary read, Sexualized violence in Syria: Keeping track of a crisis in motion.

Finally, worried about the end of the world?

Don’t be. Maya Calendar: How The Ancient System Works.


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