How to demonise minorities


by Rumbold
5th November, 2007 at 12:23 pm    

A think tank close to Gordon Brown has recommended that Christmas either be downgraded from a public holiday, or failing that, all non-Christian festivals should be upgraded to the status of public holidays:

“The Institute of Public Policy Research claims in a controversial report that “even-handedness” means minority cultures and traditions should be publicly recognised as well as events in the Christian calendar.

The organisation has come up with a range of ideas to make Britain more multi-cultural, and claims as many barriers to “national culture” as possible should be dismantled to help immigrants settling into the country Britain should dismantle.

Its report, which is due to be published in the next few weeks, says: “If we are going to continue to mark Christmas – and it would be very hard to expunge it from our national life even if we wanted to – then public organisations should mark other major religious festivals too.”

Christmas is no longer just a religious festival, but more of a national celebration. Festivals for other faiths tend to be broadly limited to that particular faith. Nobody apart from a few white left-wingers seems to object to this state of affairs, as far as I can tell. What this report will do is increase ill-feeling against minorities, who will be blamed for ‘cancelling Christmas’ and the like. Whenever a story along these lines comes out, minorities immediately leap to condemn it, yet the man reading the Daily Mail or the Sun still is suspicious about their true intentions. These sorts of reports, entirely unprompted by minorities, will achieve nothing of benefit and only serve to damage the fabric of our society.

It looks like the BNP has got its Christmas present early this year.
 

Sunny’s Update: 5 Chinese Crackers takes this apart quite well.

Rumbold’s Update: The IPPR has finally responded to all these stories. I said that I would apologise and issue a retraction if any of the quotes turned out to be false. Happily enough, none of them were (according to the press release). The author disagrees with my assessment of the report, but my point was always that this sort of thing plays into the hands of the BNP, not that the report’s author(s) were actually trying to destroy out traditions.


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Filed in: British Identity,Culture,PC Watch,Religion,The BNP






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  1. ZinZin — on 5th November, 2007 at 12:46 pm  

    Have you read the report? Hang on its not been published. Hold your fire, Rumbold.

  2. j0nz — on 5th November, 2007 at 12:53 pm  

    Ah the ‘do-gooders’. How to enrage millions of brits, bring up the ban-christmas meme. Hopefully, the majority of angry brits will realised the ethnic minorities themsleves have requested no such thing. Stupid lefties. Once again the left giving ammunition to the racists and the far-right. Why do they do it?!

  3. Kismet Hardy — on 5th November, 2007 at 12:53 pm  

    Good thing. Christmas has changed its meaning over the years. Where once it was increasingly about turkey, thus bowing to the country that was at the heart of the ottoman empire, it has increasingly been bastardised to make room for chippolatas which they don’t tell you is pig. Did you know the sage and onion stuffing isn’t just sage and onion? No it’s sausagemeat, which is pig. It’s time we put an end to this jewish conspiracy once and for all

  4. j0nz — on 5th November, 2007 at 12:54 pm  

    LOL Kismet

  5. j0nz — on 5th November, 2007 at 12:55 pm  

    And what was I saying the other day about the banning christmas stuff on the other thread?!!And this time it’s not a Daily Mail fabrication but an actual left-wing think tank!

  6. Morgoth — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:05 pm  

    To be fair to various “ethnic minorities” it is usually the Guardian brigade who take offense/propose these things.

    Once again the left giving ammunition to the racists and the far-right. Why do they do it?!

    They can’t help themselves. The left is very narcisistic. When your worldview is defined purely in terms of identity and group politics, as the left is, they lose the ability to think in anything other than identity, group terms.

    What is needed is a celebrity deathmatch wrestling with the newly redeemed Trevor Philips kicking the seven bells out of Lee Jasper and the other professional race-baiters.

  7. ZinZin — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:06 pm  

    Stop frothing at the mouth. No one has suggested any such thing.

  8. Sunny — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:08 pm  

    I’m with Zinzin on this one. The report hasn’t been published otherwise I’d be the first to call it silly. Believe the Telegraph on anything related to minorties? I don’t think so.

  9. Sunny — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:09 pm  

    … though the frothing has started already… which precisely what the Telegraph wants. I bet if the report comes out and is different, then you won’t hear a peep out of them.

  10. ZinZin — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:10 pm  

    Stop it, Sunny, your frightening me.

  11. Morgoth — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:11 pm  

    Sunny, the report was in the Times as well (front page news IIRC). It appears to be a kosher report, and very symptomatic of the Guardianista mindset as well.

  12. ZinZin — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:16 pm  

    A report that has not been published.

    Rumbold why post about this, when there was Mr Haitslow the prospective powellite MP to write about?

  13. sonia — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:17 pm  

    WHAT??? GET RID OF A HOLIDAY? that’s going to be popular as a hole in people’s head.

    Of course people like more holidays, why not give some more public holidays, who cares about the excuse? Mind you, I do think, in this case, we should all invent some new religions so we can get more days off.

  14. j0nz — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:18 pm  
  15. ZinZin — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:20 pm  

    Love your logic Jonz a lie is repeated and suddenly its true.

  16. j0nz — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:21 pm  

    And here’s the response from MPAC forums

    http://forum.mpacuk.org/showthread.php?p=440676

    “What!!!???? Is it the PC brigade?”

    ” Not again!

    Can someone please tell me who these people are?

    …….so I can line them up and….”

    :) Reasuring that it winds us all up, including the minorities they are bizarrely attempting to mollycoddle.

  17. Morgoth — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:22 pm  

    Love your logic Jonz a lie is repeated and suddenly its true.

    I think the faux logic here is yours: you’ve decided that something cannot be true and you can’t accept that it is.

  18. j0nz — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:23 pm  

    LOL. So it’s a lie now Zin? Now who “want’s something to be so”?

    Noted. #15 at 1:20pm on 5th November.

    We don’t know for sure. But I doubt very much that it’s baseless.

  19. Morgoth — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:24 pm  

    I’m not a great fan of religious holidays (unsurprisingly enough), but if we have to mark them, I’d suggest marking Eid just as soon as Saudi Arabia marks Passover and Christmas, and not until then.

  20. sonia — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:25 pm  

    clearly no one is going to take away xmas, so a sensible suggestion would be to look at how you can have more public holidays which everyone can benefit from. ( and im sure religion or no religion everyone is united on that front)

  21. Sunny — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:28 pm  

    You’ll notice, given that you are such good fact-checkers, that while all those have written articles on the study, the report is not on the IPPR website.

  22. j0nz — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:30 pm  

    Eid a public holiday in Britain? Thats a vote winner surely. But not for Labour, Liberal Democrats or the Cameroonians.

    I’m sure such the move would be reciprocated throughout the Middle East and Pakistan…

  23. ZinZin — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:32 pm  

    You have not read the report and have decided that the newspapers are telling the truth, Morgoth.

    “Its report, which is due to be published in the next few weeks, says: “If we are going to continue to mark Christmas – and it would be very hard to expunge it from our national life even if we wanted to – then public organisations should mark other major religious festivals too.”

    This is from the Telegraph article. My interpretation; The IPPC are calling for more public holidays: yours is they want to ban christmas.

    The telegraph interpretation is nothing more than red meat for their readership. Loony left, minorities, multi-culturalism, political correctness all the key words are ticked off and most crucially do they quote anyone from the think-tank? no. They did ask Widdecombe and an anti-PC campaigner for their view. Its a hatchet job, nothing else. Still it did its job, it got you frothing at the mouth.

  24. ZinZin — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:37 pm  

    Poor Jonz.

    A lie travels half-way around the world, while the truth is putting its boots on. Read the report when its published.

    In future employ sceptism.

  25. Morgoth — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:42 pm  

    Zinzin, it appeared in the Indie as well.

    Incidentally, Sunny is awfully quite on Michael Lyon’s statement that the BBC is liberally-biased.

  26. j0nz — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:43 pm  

    ZinZin, haiving read from numerous sources, the consensus is that since Christmas is unlikely do be donwgraded, other holidays need to be upgraded. Even though minorities don’t seem to be requesting this.

    In future, try not to assume something is a lie because it doesn’t fit your political agenda. As I have said lets wait. You have said it’s a lie.

  27. j0nz — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:47 pm  

    Zin, I suppose you think this is a lie too
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7078712.stm

    It is vast right wing conspiracy after all… Bush-hitlers Want you to think that…. Politics of fear!

  28. ZinZin — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:50 pm  

    Did I say it was a right-wing conspiracy? Projection.

    Jonz,Morgoth: Christmas has been around for a very long time, stories about lefties banning christmas have been around for 25 years, yet christmas is still here.

    Have a mince pie and shut the fuck up.

  29. Refresh — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:55 pm  

    Be nice. Take the pie!

  30. Joe Otten — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:56 pm  

    This is progress. Usually the ‘war on christmas’ bullshit starts much earlier in the year.

  31. sonia — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:58 pm  

    well perhaps everyone should take the example of India and Bangladesh which mark all sorts of festivals as holidays ( well any excuse not to work, :-) )

    anyway, the problem then arises why it should only be religious festivals that get holidays. (xmas isn’t really a religious holiday anymore anyway) of course im not going to complain why we get a holiday. but it is pretty obvious that should new holidays be adopted, the jedi knights too will want a piece of the action and why not? perhaps we can arrange it so there is a religious festival every day of the year.

    And also – given that Eid was not too long ago- and we all know full well that many people in the UK celebrated it on different days thanks to the moonsighting nonsense – and also given that it follows the lunar calendar, it is slightly more difficult to have it as a holiday unless everyone is on board.

    p.s. apart from places like Saudi Arabia ( and presumably Iran) a lot of countries do celebrate Christmas. And interestingly, I grew up in Kuwait and Christmas was always more festive than either Eids. apparently it was never an official public holiday, but everyone seemed to have it off. well everyone i knew anyway – i daresay the poor workers never managed to get the day off.

  32. Rumbold — on 5th November, 2007 at 1:59 pm  

    ZinZin and Sunny:

    I never said that the report had been published, but this is one of the conclusions drawn from it (a direct quote I believe). Evidently the IPPR released these snippets in order to gain publicity, which it has done to great effect.

    What I and others were complaining about was not the threat to Christmas, but the damage this does to minorities. As J0nz has pointed out, this story has been picked up by a number of papers, and the only reason I linked to the Daily Telegraph is tat is where I had read it first.

    There is a far scarier snippet about a Stalinist ceremony involving new parents and the state swearing an oath to work together to bring up the baby:

    “Meanwhile, national ceremonies, civic oaths, parliament and the monarchy must be recast in a more multi-religious or secular form. Parents should be made to attend a public state ritual of citizenship for their new babies when registering their birth; “parents, their friends and family and the state [would] agree to work in partnership to support and bring up their child”. Presumably this would include an undertaking not to celebrate Christmas “inappropriately or exclusively”.”

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/minette_marrin/article2801033.ece

  33. Rumbold — on 5th November, 2007 at 2:06 pm  

    Sunny:

    “You’ll notice, given that you are such good fact-checkers, that while all those have written articles on the study, the report is not on the IPPR website.”

    I did look for a denial/rebuttal of these leaks on the IPPR website, but there was none. Given that nearly every major paper picked it up, I think that the IPPR would have noticed.

  34. ZinZin — on 5th November, 2007 at 2:09 pm  

    Rumbold:

    I did understand your angle and I did accept your argument as valid. Unfortunately this thread was inevitablely going to disintegrate into a row about lefties wanting to ban christmas.

    I have calmed down now, thanks to the mince pies.

  35. AsifB — on 5th November, 2007 at 2:09 pm  

    31. “apparently it was never an official public holiday, but everyone seemed to have it off. well everyone i knew anyway”
    Now that’s what I call Christmas.

    Recently attended Eid and Durga puja do’s in Dhaka (with 9 out of 13 days in row being public holidays) and yes celeberating everything has an attraction – though it all leads to very ungreen conspicuous overcompsumption at the end of the day.

  36. Rumbold — on 5th November, 2007 at 2:11 pm  

    ZinZin:

    “I have calmed down now, thanks to the mince pies.”

    I love mince pies; and mulled wine.

  37. sonia — on 5th November, 2007 at 2:19 pm  

    yes Asif, and people think Christmas is ‘materialistic’ and commercialised, hah that’s because they’ve never seen Eid shopping lists!

  38. Leon — on 5th November, 2007 at 2:32 pm  

    Have you read the report?

    Excellent question, and one that needs asking more. Too often it’s easy to comment based on the executive summary or worse the press release without digesting the full report…

  39. Refresh — on 5th November, 2007 at 2:37 pm  

    The question that needs to be answered is why do we have public holidays in the first place.

    How and why were they instituted ’000s of years ago?

    Which in turn leads us all into the role religion has played in the past in recognising collective holidays are good for society.

    If the IPPR is likely to propose what Rumbold is telling us, ie more public holidays then it is for the public good. People are working too hard over very long hours (I seem to recall the longest in Europe).

    If the media spins IPPR recommendations as the downgrading of Xmas, and others jump and make an immediate link to Eid (and therefore muslims – as Sonia is happy to do) – though the spin is not necessary it is now the way of the world.

    Philosophically I have accepted that this may not be a bad thing, as it will help lance a few boils. One or two of which frequent PP.

  40. Leon — on 5th November, 2007 at 2:51 pm  

    On the point of the study, if more faith days means more bank holidays I’m all for it.

    If people wanting to believe all kinds of wacky things means I get paid not to go to work more that’s a good thing! :D

  41. ChrisC — on 5th November, 2007 at 2:57 pm  

    I hate public holidays.
    What is the point of being on holiday if everyone else is too?!!

  42. sonia — on 5th November, 2007 at 3:06 pm  

    that’s fine Chris, you can go to work on a bank holiday if you want to :-)

    i agree with leon’s line of thinking

  43. douglas clark — on 5th November, 2007 at 3:15 pm  

    ChrisC,

    I tend to agree with you. Is there anyone that thinks Bank Holidays are a good idea, of themselves? If they were all simply converted into annual leave no-one would be disadvantaged, would they?

  44. Refresh — on 5th November, 2007 at 3:26 pm  

    Leon

    “If people wanting to believe all kinds of wacky things means I get paid not to go to work more that’s a good thing!”

    I’ve never believed that you get paid not to go to work. If you have a reasonable work ethic, you will have already earned the respite.

  45. Don — on 5th November, 2007 at 3:26 pm  

    ChrisC and Douglas,

    Beat me to it. Most people would take more or less the same as now, but if someone wanted to celebrate the martyrdom of Saint Scrofulus and someone else the moon-landings it shouldn’t be too difficult to arrange.

  46. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2007 at 3:26 pm  

    As far as I can see, the report is a bunch of individuals shooting the breeze. Like any think-tank business, it’s just words, ideas, suggestions. To those hungry, no, starving to demonise ‘ethnic minorities’ (who all live in quotation marks), it’s as if the sword of Damocles is hanging across their throats ready to cut and the red mist descends and the need to kick and scream begins. Those that demonise are always going to do it — they are morons, preach to morons, and hype a marginal think-tank’s suggestions to help create an ambience hostile to ‘the effnics, innit’ — they have an agenda and there’s little you can do about it. It’s not just the Telegraph, it’s the Times, Sunday Times, Daily Mail and Express too.

  47. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2007 at 3:29 pm  

    If it’s a question of bank holidays, seeing as the UK lags behind every other country in Europe in terms of national hols, none should be given for religious holidays, that’s a nonsense idea. Days could be named after national icons like Shakespeare or just nothing at all.

  48. rupahuq — on 5th November, 2007 at 3:30 pm  

    This was in the Daily Mail sometime last week with a shock horror headline. I’m sure they hadn’t taken the trouble to read the report. I don’t think banning Xmas would be a prudent move but more bank holidays would – aren’t we out of step with our European partners anyway? Also last week we saw Tories trying to ban halloween – ok not quite but my ward councillor (Con) put up this post about the evils of this heathen fest http://philtaylor.org.uk/?p=875

  49. Don — on 5th November, 2007 at 3:35 pm  

    This seems a good point to ask everyone to pull their weight and get Darwin Day on the books for in time the the 2009 bicentenary.

  50. j0nz — on 5th November, 2007 at 3:38 pm  

    Mmm mince pies and mulled wine

  51. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2007 at 3:40 pm  

    Darwin day is a good idea if we would go down the route of naming bank holidays after national icons. Shakespeare and Isaac Newton are two others who could be chosen, Steve Bull day in Wolverhampton would be a good idea.

  52. Refresh — on 5th November, 2007 at 3:41 pm  

    Don, if you were to re-present that proposition in the context of advancement of science and the search for truth you could get the religious bodies behind it. Call it triangulation if you will.

    If on the other hand it continues to be used as a part of religion-bashing then no, it will not stand a chance.

  53. Refresh — on 5th November, 2007 at 3:41 pm  

    …if it continues to be used..

  54. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2007 at 3:42 pm  

    Refresh, why should anyone care to get ‘the religious bodies’ behind it? What’s it got to do with them?

  55. Refresh — on 5th November, 2007 at 3:47 pm  

    Jagdeep, presumably you need lots of people to back an idea before its implemented. The Holocaust Memorial Day for example needed religious bodies behind it too.

    Whether you like it not, bodies, groups etc bring with them credence. Some more than others; but invariably there is representation beyond political parties. A concept ignored or misunderstood.

  56. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2007 at 3:51 pm  

    Well Refresh, Holocaust Memorial Day (which is not a national holiday) proceeds without the support of those repulsive little communalist bigots at the Muslim Council of Britain playing their slimy politics doesn’t it? What they tells us about religious bodies generally, their credibility, their contributions to public life, I don’t know, but the idea that ‘religious bodies’ of any kind should have a veto on these subjects is laughable. Sure, they can make a suggestion, just like any other group of indivioduals or pressure group, but their input is not to be priveliged, or taken as special. Power to the People, not the Priests.

  57. Refresh — on 5th November, 2007 at 3:56 pm  

    Jagdeep, well that’s set you off. Not sure you read my post #55, in the spirit it was written.

    One thing you are right about though is it is not a National Holiday.

    “Power to the People, not the Priests.”

    Of course! But I prefer the much more powerful democratic concept of Power to the People. Full stop.

  58. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2007 at 4:02 pm  

    You’re always set off Refresh. Your example was a good one, because it shows precisely why ‘religious bodies’ shouldn’t expect to have a priveliged voice in society beyond the usual tea and biscuit soundbites they get given space for in newspapers and radio programmes and the like. Power to the People, breadcrumbs to the Priests.

  59. Refresh — on 5th November, 2007 at 4:16 pm  

    Jagdeep, read my post #55 again.

    Democracy operates on many levels, one of those require that people organise themselves. In the case of religion, to a varying degree, they are already organised with communication channels. And they too also have a legitimate voice.

    You would prefer it were not so. But reality is different.

  60. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2007 at 4:20 pm  

    Refresh, do one please, I just said the following, that ‘religious bodies’ can say what they want, scream as loud as they want, chat as much as they want just like any other group of indivioduals or pressure group, but their input is not to be priveliged, or taken as special.

  61. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2007 at 4:24 pm  

    Rumbold I’ve just been thinking about your post a little, which is titled ‘how to demonise minorities’. You put the source of primary blame on the think-tank for making these rather silly suggestions, but you don’t place much weight, or criticism on the tendency and impulse of large parts of the press and media to jump upon any scrap of meat, no matter how marginal and tendentious and small, to create an ambience and atmosphere of demonisation. ‘How to demonise minorities’ deserves a fuller investigation, with the focus on how the Daily Mail, Telegraph etc function and dissimulate and demonise the marginalised in Briish society. When demonisation occurs the primary blame lies on the perpetrating actor.

  62. Jai — on 5th November, 2007 at 4:26 pm  

    Darwin day is a good idea if we would go down the route of naming bank holidays after national icons.

    It’s a very good idea, like “Martin Luther King Day” in the US etc.

    Shakespeare and Isaac Newton are two others who could be chosen,

    Along with people like Nelson and William Wilberforce.

    Clive of India, not so much ;)

    I think that commemorating events like the date of the “finalisation” of the Magna Carta might be a very good idea too — it’s a major document in both British and world history (well, at least the Western world), especially in relation to Habeus Corpus, some fundamental civil rights etc. Making this a major annual public holiday would also help (to some extent) in crystallising that elusive “British identiy” that Sunny’s always going on about ;)

    (Ditto for commemorating other major events in British history which advanced the cause of human rights).

  63. Refresh — on 5th November, 2007 at 4:28 pm  

    Jagdeep – It seems then, you had already accepted what I had said, but needed to find a hook to liven up the debate.

    That’s fine.

  64. Jai — on 5th November, 2007 at 4:30 pm  

    Rumbold I’ve just been thinking about your post a little, which is titled ‘how to demonise minorities’.

    Perhaps a more accurate title would be “How to demonise non-white minorities”, because in many cases, when people claim that immigration is the biggest issue they are currently concerned about in relation to modern British life, what they frequently actually mean is non-white non-Christian immigration.

  65. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2007 at 4:31 pm  

    No Refresh, I don’t ‘accept’ what you say, I say what I know and believe, and the hook was your suggestion that the decisions about matters in this society should be susceptible to a priveliged veto by ‘religious bodies’ and associated pressure groups. Some religious bodies do good work. On technical matters. Or charity. Others are toxic. As a class, they should have no special priveliges or weight in the national dialogue.

  66. Leon — on 5th November, 2007 at 4:33 pm  

    Darwin day is a good idea if we would go down the route of naming bank holidays after national icons. Shakespeare and Isaac Newton are two others who could be chosen, Steve Bull day in Wolverhampton would be a good idea.

    Call em what you want, as long as it doesn’t come out of my leave and its another day off work I’m happy!

    Seriously, although I’m half joking because that’s how a lot of people view things like this. In the end most holidays become just another great day to relax or have a long weekend. It’s only us ‘civic’ minded types (or politically obsessed if you want to be cynical) that care about things like this.

    Very few people observe the day as it’s original intention (hands up anybody that celebrates Mayday with poll dancing or remembrance of Anarchists or even knows why have the August Bank Holiday?) and anymore new days would go the same way in time…

  67. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2007 at 4:35 pm  

    To be fair Jai, they demonise white people too, eastern European immigrants or asylum seekers, single mothers to a certain extent, or gays, for example. One of the most repulsive examples of their witch-hunting, which I’ll never forget, was the demonisation of gypsies by the Sun and Daily Mail a few years ago, when some land dispute between a community of travellers and a farmer or someone made the news, and those basatrds and demonising sons of bitches demonised and stigmatised gypsies shamelessly.

  68. 5cc — on 5th November, 2007 at 4:46 pm  

    Even the idea that the report says other religious festivals should be public holidays may well be an exaggeration. The quote from the Telegraph article only says that *public organisations* should *mark* them. Not the same as banning Christmas and not the same as making other festivals bank holidays. It could mean anything from displays and special dinners in the canteen up to extra holidays for *public organisations*, but that’s all.

    Usually papers wait for reports to be published before they misrepresent them. Jeez.

  69. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2007 at 4:55 pm  

    Nice one, 5cc.

  70. Chairwoman — on 5th November, 2007 at 5:19 pm  

    Chairwoman’s Guide to Public Holidays

    Christmas becomes ‘Yule’ and remains a public holiday.

    Easter becomes ‘Vernal Festival’ and remains a public holiday.

    Everybody is allowed, within reason, to take paid leave for their major religious holidays No Dracula’s birthday.

    Is everybody happy?

  71. nodn — on 5th November, 2007 at 5:20 pm  

    I’m not unreasonable. If I was asking for Christmas to be cancelled, I would say cancel Eid and everything else as well! I have absolutely no problem with the 24th and 25th of December being public holidays. Same goes for good Friday and Easter Sunday.

    BUT: What I do mind is that, at Christmas and Easter, England spends two whole weeks wrapping presents, eating chocolate, sleeping and basically cancelling life, while at Eid, Divali and everything else, we have to fight to bunk work or education for a day!

    No way am I saying life should stop for two weeks at Eid or Divali. But if it doesn’t, then Christmas and Easter should have the same treatment. The religious days should definitely be public holidays. But the rest of the time, everyone should work, study and live as usual.

  72. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2007 at 5:30 pm  

    nodn, i don’t know a single person who gives a damn that society doesn’t stop for Diwali. If there’s anyone who does think like that, they have a real chip on their shoulder. People improvise and make do, they take days off in advance if they have to. That’s the way it should be. Who do you think you’re speaking all this righteous outrage on behalf of?

  73. Refresh — on 5th November, 2007 at 5:46 pm  

    Jagdeep, for goodness sake relax. Let Nodn make his point or observation.

    “Who do you think you’re speaking all this righteous outrage on behalf of?”

    I detect no outrage.

    However if you want to deal with his point, then you would have been better to address this:

    “But if it doesn’t, then Christmas and Easter should have the same treatment”.

    Now I don’t know anyone at all who holds this view. On the face of it I would question who Nodn is and whether he really holds this view or whether he add fire to the debate. From whatever perspective.

  74. Refresh — on 5th November, 2007 at 5:47 pm  

    …whether he wants to add fire to the debate …

  75. Piggy — on 5th November, 2007 at 5:52 pm  

    Yeah… having looked at all the press on this, the idea of ‘banning’ Christmas only ever seems to be brought up by the papers themselves, none of the quotes from the IPPR report come close to even implying this. Neither, as far as I can tell, does the IPPR report use the term ‘downgrading’.

    Tellingly the only non-tabloid leftish paper carrying an article on this is the Independent which reports that the IPPR recommends official recognition for non-Christian religious festivals. This appears to be how the IPPR characterise the report, The Sun carries a comment from them stating:

    “The report recommends Christmas should be celebrated by all who want to, but that society should respect the religious festivals of all faiths in Britain.”

    Whatever you think of the merits of this idea, it’s a long, long, long way from calling for the abolition of Christmas.

    As far as I can tell the report is basically a rather dull piece of policy wonkery of the type think-tanks lazily jerk out on an almost daily basis without anyone really caring, but its been spun by the right-wing press to whip up a bit of the old liberals-and-foreigns-want-to-steal-christams-and-eat-our-babies style hysteria. It’s kind of disappointing that a post on this blog takes this kind of tabloid gash at face value.

  76. Billy — on 5th November, 2007 at 6:01 pm  

    Are there any regular religious holidays in October? That’d be a good time for an extra bank holiday – it’s a long time from the end of August until Christmas.

  77. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2007 at 6:02 pm  

    Refresh, believe me, I’m relaxed. It’s not taxing to type. So, relax yourself, eat some cheesecake or something.

  78. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2007 at 6:06 pm  

    Rumbold I want to hear you on the extent to which ‘ethnic minorities’ and public debates should be conducted on the premise and fear of the reaction of the wrath of the sons-of-bitches in Fleet Street who have an agenda of demonisation. I want to know because there’s a major rhetorical and moral flaw in placing the onus for this whole ‘debate’ about Christmas on the few paragraphs of a marginal report in which they were written. Do you have any ire for those at the newspapers who peddle stigmatisation and demonisation as their readers brew?

  79. Rumbold — on 5th November, 2007 at 6:15 pm  

    I think that this is the key paragraph:

    “Its report, which is due to be published in the next few weeks, says: “If we are going to continue to mark Christmas – and it would be very hard to expunge it from our national life even if we wanted to – then public organisations should mark other major religious festivals too.””

    In other words, either downgrade Christmas or celebrate other religious holidays as well. As for the IPPR being a marginal think tank, it is in fact a well-funded and influential body close to Gordon Brown.

    Jagdeep:

    “Those that demonise are always going to do it — they are morons, preach to morons, and hype a marginal think-tank’s suggestions to help create an ambience hostile to ‘the effnics, innit’ — they have an agenda and there’s little you can do about it. It’s not just the Telegraph, it’s the Times, Sunday Times, Daily Mail and Express too.”

    I agree with you that it is an important question. Should the media give coverage to things like this if the effect is likely to worsen a particular situation? However, I am not sure that the Telegraph and Times really want to create an atmosphere that is hostile to minorities. Why would they? The tabloids often exploit this sort of thing, but I suppose the question is whether they are pandering to their readers, or shaping their views.

    I still think that the most blame lies with the think tank though.

  80. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2007 at 6:20 pm  

    Rumbold, the Times and Telegraph would want to demonise minorities for the same reason that the tabloids would want to — to pander to their readers and to enact their agenda. I find it amazing how you miss the point I asked you. To what extent should ethnic minorities, and public debate on any number of issues be cirumscribed or contextualised because of the demonising impulses of the press and public? You have not really addressed this tendency at all.

  81. Don — on 5th November, 2007 at 6:23 pm  

    Of course, if the report had not come out this story, one one very like it, would still have appeared.

  82. Jai — on 5th November, 2007 at 6:24 pm  

    To what extent should ethnic minorities, and public debate on any number of issues be cirumscribed or contextualised because of the demonising impulses of the press and public?

    Well, the media shapes a lot of views and preconceptions, particularly in the minds of readers/viewers who don’t necessarily have much first-hand exposure to the ethnic minorities concerned, so it’s the media’s responsibility to behave, er, responsibly rather than pandering to readers’ basest impulses and playing to the lowest common denominator.

    Easier said than done, of course.

  83. Rumbold — on 5th November, 2007 at 6:25 pm  

    Jagdeep:

    “I find it amazing how you miss the point I asked you. To what extent should ethnic minorities, and public debate on any number of issues be cirumscribed or contextualised because of the demonising impulses of the press and public?”

    I did not miss the point Jagdeep as I said this:

    “I agree with you that it is an important question. Should the media give coverage to things like this if the effect is likely to worsen a particular situation?”

    To clarify things, I do not approve of scare stories in papers designed to stoke resentment against a particular group (apart from Chelsea/ManU/Labour Party). However, given the influence of the IPPR, I am not sure this is a scare story, as this think tank seems to have some influence over government policy.

  84. Jai — on 5th November, 2007 at 6:31 pm  

    The organisation has come up with a range of ideas to make Britain more multi-cultural, and claims as many barriers to “national culture” as possible should be dismantled to help immigrants settling into the country Britain should dismantle.

    Having read the original quote again, I think that (in theory) this is actually a pretty good idea. Seems to work pretty well for the US, for example, which has a better track record in successfully integrating immigrant populations.

  85. douglas clark — on 5th November, 2007 at 6:32 pm  

    Rumbold,

    In the link to the Times that you gave above, I found this:

    This all sounds familiar, of course. We have become used to absurd stories of British Christmases being renamed Winterval, or children’s carols being stopped for fear of offending minorities – many of them true. We all know that the Christian Tony Blair and most top politicians send “season’s greetings” instead of Christmas cards.

    It’s the phrase ‘many of them true’ that really gets my back up. The evidence, from years past is that hardly any of them were true.

    On the broader point, if this is what a well funded think tank comes up with, I’ve a business proposition for you. See my post at 43 for a solution to this issue. You’re good at marketing, sell it to the Labour Party for a million and we can split the difference.

  86. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2007 at 6:32 pm  

    Rumbold, that doesn’t address my question. Maybe I didn’t make myself clear. The focus of your ire is not the specifics of the report, which seem to be a marginal set of suggestions, which are easily refuted and like many suggestions made by think-tanks of various political leanings, practically nothing but hot-air. The principle on which you wrote this post was that THEY were reponsible for demonising minorities. You pay absolutely no attention to the impulse of demonisation and the agenda of those in the press who carry this out. Your contextualisation of this issue therefore is partial. It proceeds from a position of ‘Well, there’s crocodiles out there, better not wake them or draw attention to yourselves, tread carefully’. You don’t have anything to say about the presence of the crocodiles stalking us in the first place. Because it’s not just stupid reports from think tanks that gets them sniffing blood. It’s a consistent thing.

  87. Don — on 5th November, 2007 at 6:44 pm  

    Chairwoman,

    ‘paid leave for their major religious holidays ‘

    Well that’s a fair few of us left out in the cold. I suppose Morgoth could always celebrate Beltane or whatever Satanists do.

    Refresh #52,

    I take your point that religious groups have clout, whether or not it is justifiable. But I think you are being a tad alarmist in thinking that such a proposal needs to be ‘framed’ so as to not alienate them. So far, although there are straws on the wind, creationism and anti-evolutionism is not a significant strand in UK religious bodies. In the states, yes the very idea would be blocked but at least in this country candidates for high office don’t have to humiliate themselves by publically declaring their belief in theistic creation.

    But I can’t agree that Darwin is used for religion-bashing, rather that those who seek to undermine the scientific method to suit their own dodgy religious agendas should expect a regular mauling from those who know what they are talking about. No amount of framing would get those twerps onside, anyway.

  88. douglas clark — on 5th November, 2007 at 6:55 pm  

    Don,

    Well, near as dammit we already have a day off for the Feast of the Circumcision AKA New Years Day.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year's_Day

  89. SajiniW — on 5th November, 2007 at 7:20 pm  

    Recognising every minority public holiday will lead to decreased productivity. Witness Sri Lanka – everyone gets every public holiday off; coupled with weekends, people seem to be at work for just 2/3 of the year!

    What’s wrong with the current system where people take days off as they wish?

  90. nodn — on 5th November, 2007 at 7:36 pm  

    1. I’m female!
    2. I’m not adding fire to anything- only stating what I think would be fair. On everyone.

  91. Rumbold — on 5th November, 2007 at 7:39 pm  

    Rupa:

    “I don’t think banning Xmas would be a prudent move but more bank holidays would – aren’t we out of step with our European partners anyway?”

    I am glad that we are not harmonised with Europe. Partners?

    Jai (#84):

    Can you think of any examples?

    Douglas:

    “It’s the phrase ‘many of them true’ that really gets my back up. The evidence, from years past is that hardly any of them were true.”

    Agreed- but this is different. Unless the IPPR denies these quotes and publishes the report to prove themselves right, this is a true story.

    “Is there anyone that thinks Bank Holidays are a good idea, of themselves? If they were all simply converted into annual leave no-one would be disadvantaged, would they?”

    We could get a million for this, or half a peerage each.

    Jagdeep:

    “The principle on which you wrote this post was that THEY [the IPPR] were reponsible for demonising minorities.”

    I stand by that statement, with the qualification that I do not think that they are demonising minorities intentionally.

    “You pay absolutely no attention to the impulse of demonisation and the agenda of those in the press who carry this out. Your contextualisation of this issue therefore is partial.”

    Again, I think that your use of ‘agenda’ is perhaps an exaggeration. As for the ‘impulse of demonisation’, do you mean by the press or racists. As for my post, it was not meant to be a sweeping analysis of everything to do with this issue, merely a condemnation of the stupidity of a think tank.

    “You don’t have anything to say about the presence of the crocodiles stalking us in the first place. Because it’s not just stupid reports from think tanks that gets them sniffing blood. It’s a consistent thing.”

    This was not so much a post about the BNP and the like, more of an attempt to cut off one of the swamps that they gestate in. What motivates BNP supporters is a complex issue, and I doubt I could have done it justice in this post (though now that you mention it I will try and research their ideology more deeply in order to counter it- look out for the post in a week or two).

  92. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2007 at 7:48 pm  

    I wasn’t just talking about the BNP, I was talking about the mainstream media and press who have an agenda of portraying Britain as a society oppressed by minority groups, an agenda that involves a degree of demonisation, dissimulation and misrepresentation about entire groups of people.

    The point you make about drawing attention to the swamps in which these impulses gestate in I take though. I think we should look at all these dimensions.

  93. 5cc — on 5th November, 2007 at 7:51 pm  

    The key part of that first sentence is ‘even if we wanted’, which indicates that the IPPR don’t want to stop celebrating, or ‘downgrade’ Christmas. In other words we couldn’t stop marking Christmas and don’t want to anyway.

    If the Telegraph – or any of the other papers – had better quotes than this one that said anything like Christmas should be downgraded, or that other religious festivals should be given the exact same prominence as Cristmas, then it would have used them. Of course, we’ll be able to see for sure when the report is published, so it’s handy for the papers that it won’t be published for a while.

    It seems the Telegraph took this story from the coverage by the Daily Mail, which appeared last Wednesday. The Telegraph’s quote appears in the Mail version. Stories like this spread like urban legends, even across newspapers. In 2003, when the Telegraph printed a false story about schools in Tower Hamlets banning hot cross buns, other papers that had taken the story from the Telegraph had to print corrections.

  94. douglas clark — on 5th November, 2007 at 7:55 pm  

    Rumbold,

    You can be ‘Lo’ and I’ll be ‘rd’. Gettit?

    More seriously, you are obviously right that this is a true story and that the IPPR have said what they are alleged to have said. My point is merely that the story is being ‘spun’ by the media, which I thought the quote made pretty clear. That was some amount of hand wringing that the author, Minette Marin, indulged in. Although, the baby celebration thing is completely OTT, IMHO. Whatever happened to the idea of private space?

  95. Rumbold — on 5th November, 2007 at 7:57 pm  

    Jagdeep:

    “I wasn’t just talking about the BNP, I was talking about the mainstream media and press who have an agenda of portraying Britain as a society oppressed by minority groups, an agenda that involves a degree of demonisation, dissimulation and misrepresentation about entire groups of people.”

    I think that is somewhat of a generalisation. The nastier tabloids do go on the attack from time to time, but I do not think that there is this great conspiracy to demonise minorities throughout the press.

    5cc:

    If the story turns out to be false, I will print a retraction.

  96. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2007 at 7:57 pm  

    In 2003, when the Telegraph printed a false story about schools in Tower Hamlets banning hot cross buns, other papers that had taken the story from the Telegraph had to print corrections

    Oh brother, hot cross buns, that’s a good one. Seems to me a report and analysis of these urban legends and the alacrity with which various newspapers jump on them like voracious hounds, and the reasons and motives for them doing so, would be a good thing right now. Unbelievable.

  97. Boyo — on 5th November, 2007 at 7:59 pm  

    Actually, given we have so many Orthodox Christians living here now, shouldn’t we have Christmas twice?!

  98. Jagdeep — on 5th November, 2007 at 7:59 pm  

    Rumbold, it’s there, it happens, I didn’t say it’s a conspiracy, it’s an impulse and a mode.

  99. Rumbold — on 5th November, 2007 at 8:00 pm  

    Douglas:

    “You can be ‘Lo’ and I’ll be ‘rd’. Gettit?”

    Heh.

    “My point is merely that the story is being ’spun’ by the media, which I thought the quote made pretty clear. That was some amount of hand wringing that the author, Minette Marin, indulged in.”

    Marin did get carried away. I think that generally the media reaction has been over the top (though not from me), but that report is still dangerous.

  100. ZinZin — on 5th November, 2007 at 8:03 pm  

    “Marin did get carried away. I think that generally the media reaction has been over the top (though not from me), but that report is still dangerous”.

    “That report” has not been published.

  101. Rumbold — on 5th November, 2007 at 8:07 pm  

    Jagdeep:

    “Rumbold, it’s there, it happens, I didn’t say it’s a conspiracy, it’s an impulse and a mode.”

    As a Daily Telegraph reader and someone who is staunchly in favour of immigration, I never feel any disgust or unease reading the Telegraph, apart from very occasionally. Now being white I suppose I have not experienced the level of racism that many people on Pickled Politics have, but I still do not think that this ‘impulse’ is as widespread as you suggest. As I say, I might be wrong on this.

  102. 5cc — on 5th November, 2007 at 8:07 pm  

    Rumbold – it’s not that I think the story is entirely false – it’s that all the stuff about downgrading Christmas has been spun by the papers. The actual direct quotes probably do appear in the IPPR report – they just don’t mean Christmas should be downgraded or that other religious festivals should be given just as muh prominence as Christmas.

  103. Rumbold — on 5th November, 2007 at 8:12 pm  

    ZinZin:

    “That report” has not been published.”

    But these are quotes from the reports.

    5cc:

    “The actual direct quotes probably do appear in the IPPR report – they just don’t mean Christmas should be downgraded or that other religious festivals should be given just as muh prominence as Christmas.”

    Surely that is exactly what they are saying?

  104. Piggy — on 5th November, 2007 at 8:20 pm  

    Rumbold:

    “I think that this is the key paragraph:

    “Its report, which is due to be published in the next few weeks, says: “If we are going to continue to mark Christmas – and it would be very hard to expunge it from our national life even if we wanted to – then public organisations should mark other major religious festivals too.””

    In other words, either downgrade Christmas or celebrate other religious holidays as well.”

    It doesn’t really say that though does it? On it’s own, shorn of newspaper spin, all it says is ‘we should celebrate other religious festivals alongside Christmas’ Nothing quoted thus far from the IPPR report even remotely implies that Christmas should be downgraged/banned/have it’s name changed to midwintermulticulturallovefest.

  105. 5cc — on 5th November, 2007 at 9:05 pm  

    Rumbold:

    “The actual direct quotes probably do appear in the IPPR report – they just don’t mean Christmas should be downgraded or that other religious festivals should be given just as muh prominence as Christmas.”

    Surely that is exactly what they are saying?

    Not quite. Theyr’e only saying that public organisations should mark other religious celebrations. They don’t say how much prominence the marking should take, and they only apply to public organisations.

  106. Rohin — on 5th November, 2007 at 9:07 pm  

    Happy Festivus!

  107. Chris Baldwin — on 5th November, 2007 at 9:59 pm  

    PC Watch indeed! Surely the yellow press would be primarily to blame for any such demonisation?

  108. Refresh — on 5th November, 2007 at 10:33 pm  

    Don

    “But I think you are being a tad alarmist in thinking that such a proposal needs to be ‘framed’ so as to not alienate them.”

    Perhaps you are right. Too much reading of blogs, the real world is probably much easier with itself.

    At the heart of what I was trying to say, hence the triangulation comment, is that it is quite possible that those that take polarised views on the matter are probably both wrong. We don’t know, and cannot know.

    I had a very interesting conversation with a friend who I had not spoken to for about a 18 months, he being one of the most rational scientists (and very successful too) I know, said he had unearthed some amazing things in religious texts and thought, some two to three thousands years old, which matched precisely his understanding of sub-atomic physics.

    He was now getting deeper and deeper in trying to understand what else he could find – I guess to see if the ‘whole thing’ hung together and how it related to creation. In a nutshell, according to the texts creation is continual process right down to the sub-atomic level.

    He is not known for any religous sentiment, before anyone asks.

    I am fascinated and impressed by people who are in a permanent process of learning and less so by people with fixed ideas.

    So yes I would say we do not take enough notice of scientists, and even less so of educationalists. I would add another holiday – and that would be to commemorate whoever managed to get into our global heads that education was a human right and that it was a lifelong activity (and I don’t mean in the Blair/Blunkett sense where it was hijacked to mean lifelong training so you can stay in a job).

    “But I can’t agree that Darwin is used for religion-bashing”

    Nor should it. I just happen to have developed that sense over the years. Science is as much value to the religous as it is to anyone else. I agree that on the whole the problem is much bigger on the other side of the atlantic. Not here and not in many other parts of the world.

  109. Refresh — on 5th November, 2007 at 11:10 pm  

    Nodn apologies for questioning your sincerity (and gender).

  110. Don — on 5th November, 2007 at 11:46 pm  

    Refresh,
    # 108. para 4. One day we’ll have that discussion, but right now would be seriously de-railing.

  111. ally — on 6th November, 2007 at 1:34 am  

    howdo.

    I’m a bit late to the party on this, but I blogged about this on CiF a few days ago.

    http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/ally_fogg/2007/11/a_gift_for_the_tabloids.html

    Too late tonight to go over it again, but my piece a nutshell, however it has been spun it does seem the IPPR report is going to suggest manipulating the status of Christmas in some way – whether that’s relative to other festivals or on its own terms.

    What pisses me off is that the reaction from the tabloids was always going to be incredibly damaging. I think the comments above that suggested the IPPR were just tossing a few ideas around are probably pretty accurate. But the consequence of doing that – knowing full well how it would be used by the Mail et al – is (as Rumbold says) incredibly damaging.

    If it was just a silly idea I wouldn’t care. It’s the fact that it’s also a damaging idea that bothers me.

  112. Mangles — on 6th November, 2007 at 9:30 am  

    My message to “The Institute of Public Policy Research”
    is simply ‘NOT IN MY NAME’!!

  113. Morgoth — on 6th November, 2007 at 9:59 am  

    My message to “The Institute of Public Policy Research”
    is simply ‘NOT IN MY NAME’!!

    To which they’ll give you a little pat on the head and go “there, there!”. They’re doing it precisely because they’ve assumed your mantle.

  114. Kismet Hardy — on 6th November, 2007 at 10:29 am  

    This country takes the piss. Have you seen the so-called Royal Mail’s new set of stamps, featuring blatantly christian images of scantily clad ladies playing harps and letching on some jewish bloke. They’re not even pretending to take us muslims’ views into account. I never thought I’d live to see the day. I’d write a stern letter of complaint to the Prime Minister but I refuse to buy the stamp

  115. Jai — on 6th November, 2007 at 10:40 am  

    Rumbold,

    Jai (#84):

    Can you think of any examples?

    The Muslim population in the US is the main one which comes to mind.

    *********************

    I think that several factors are in play here in the UK in relation to the attitude towards so-called “ethnic minorities”, at least the non-white variety. Disdain and distrust towards people regarded as “different” is unfortunately a universal negative human trait, and one which you can find worldwide, to varying degrees.

    The problem is when people are regarded as different and inherently inferior.

    Rumbold, as you mentioned yourself earlier in this thread, being a white person for obvious reasons you haven’t been on the receiving end of that kind of racially-motivated attitude, but there is still a considerable underlying legacy of colonialism in this country. It’s not necessarily always the burning-cross-on-the-front-lawn-and-swastika-on-the-garage-door variety, but we still frequently have to deal with knee-jerk scepticism about our characters and intellectual prowess (thereby having to work much harder to achieve the same level of credibility automatically afforded to white people, even those who are not British in origin), smug condescension, and hypersensitivity in any matters relation to us (including overreactions to any perceived intellectual, behavioural or cultural “flaws” or “transgressions”, on both an individual and a group level).

    Hell, I even see this at work. You can observe the grumbling resentment towards the increasing number of IT consultants from the Indian software firms, or during any dealings with outsourced operations over in India which have arisen as a result of the recent drive towards internationally-distributed project support & delivery teams. That level of cynicism is not directed towards counterparts in/from the US or Europe. I also bet you that the recent animosity towards Indian-based call centres is certainly not always due to genuine “underperformance” or “lack of communication skills” on the part of the staff over there, and that this outcry would (again) not necessarily have occurred to this degree if we were talking about call centres in the US or Europe.

    The world is changing, in some ways the balance of power is shifting, and some people here have a real problem with dealing with this because, underneath it all (even it’s on a subconscious level), they are unable to think of Asians as not being “conquered natives”. Given that the UK is not a “nation of immigrants” on the same scale as the US, and is obviously a much older country with a history shared by the majority of modern-day Brits, I can understand why many people here would have concerns about the cultural fabric of the country excessively changing, especially in such a relatively short period of time. However, not only are these fears an overreaction, but the additional problem is when other non-white groups are expected to be permanently subordinate and deferential to the “majority indigenous culture” and people affiliated with it. At a stretch, people’s attitude is often “I’ll just about treat you as my equal if I deign to do so, but don’t you dare supercede me in any way, and don’t you dare be in any position of superiority or authority towards me or behave in the associated way”.

    The latter, again, is understandable as the original inhabitants of most other nations would react in the same way; however, when the legacy of colonialism drives attitudes and reactions on both sides of the fence — both white Brits and people originating/descended from former colonised countries — then it’s a factor in causing further friction and further entrenchment on both sides.

    Slightly off-topic, but these are just some thoughts I’d recently been having on the matter.

  116. Piggy — on 6th November, 2007 at 11:56 am  

    Ally

    have you actually seen anything written by the IPPR that explicitly says ‘let’s downgrade/scrap christmas’? On your CiF piece you link ‘downgrade’ to the Telegraph article, which quotes the IPPR as saying ‘we should recognise other religious festivals alongside xmas’ and then claims that this actually means the IPPR wants to ban christmas.

    The term ‘downgraded’ appears to get used first by the mail, where they claim that recognising other religious festivals will mean xmas is ‘downgraded’ by default. That seems to me to be a pretty spurious claim, do you really think people will celebrate/enjoy Christmas less if the folks at County Hall light some candles for Diwali?

    Maybe you’ve seen something from the IPPR pamphlet that the rest of us haven’t, but at the moment it looks like a text book case of the-left-hates-christmas spin by the usual suspects which both you and rumbold have swallowed rather uncritcally.

  117. 5cc — on 6th November, 2007 at 12:46 pm  

    Of course, the tabloids wouldn’t be able to report that a think tank is just proposing that public organisations mark other religious festivals and have that be a surprise to their readers, since the tabloids push the idea that Political Correctness means they already have to do that anyway.

  118. sonia — on 6th November, 2007 at 1:07 pm  

    jai, would it not be fair to say desi communities are just as much engaged in the ‘other people are inferior’ game? why is it we always assume its only ‘white’ people who do that? coming from the indian subcontinent im only too aware of our prejudices, we know full well many people from a “higher” caste used to think they were superior, many still do, however just because someone is brahmin now, should we assume that they think they’re superior?

    douglas, you’d be surprised, annual leave is in the hands of employers, would you really want put bank holidays in the hands of employers? I dont think so!

  119. douglas clark — on 6th November, 2007 at 1:09 pm  

    There is an interesting article about this, seen from the viewpoint of an urban myth being spread through, frankly hysterical, journalists. It is worth clicking on 5ccs’ link, where the nuts and bolts of that process are laid bare.

    And in case anyone says otherwise, I think that both Rumbold and Ally F have been sensible voices of moderation in their comments too. Not so for the dead tree media.

    This is classic bad journalism 101.

  120. douglas clark — on 6th November, 2007 at 1:30 pm  

    Sonia,

    There is a basic right to four weeks annual leave for everyone in the UK.

    Interestingly enough, the government is currently aiming to increase that to 28 days, but before you get too excited, it simply is a means to ensure that Bank Holidays are treated as paid leave. See here:

    http://www.gnn.gov.uk/Content/Detail.asp?ReleaseID=207428&NewsAreaID=2

    I’ve been out of the personnel loop for quite a while now, but generally speaking, most good employers will try to accommodate cultural needs in terms of leave. Quite cleverly, the government has not tied the extra provision to Bank Holidays, although that is the thread on which the legislation would hang.

  121. Jagdeep — on 6th November, 2007 at 1:52 pm  

    So sonia, any Asian who is discriminated against, or when newspapers start snorting the old demonisation juice, writing up the reflexive old narrative of how ‘minorities’ are oppressing and spoiling this country like a medical infection — when this happens, people should shut up about it because of the attitudes of some brahmins? What are you saying sonia? And don’t forget, this isn’t just about ‘Asians’ — there are plenty of examples on this thread of other groups who are objectified and rolled into this narrative.

  122. Jagdeep — on 6th November, 2007 at 1:58 pm  

    I still do not think that this ‘impulse’ is as widespread as you suggest. As I say, I might be wrong on this

    Rumbold, ‘How to demonise minorities’ —- the headline refers to the report that was written by the think tank. 5cc and others have shown the mechanics and dynamics of how the press does demonise, spin, and actively dissimulate by referring to this issue and the misrepresentations around it. It’s a worthy subject to write about, but the demonisation doesn’t occur because of the suggestions of a think-tank, they occur in the primary instance by those who do the demonising. Period.

  123. Ian — on 6th November, 2007 at 2:12 pm  

    I wish I worked at the Daily Mail, because all my writing would pretty much do itself for the next two weeks. It would be brilliant. Could take some time off, work from home. Go see the family….

  124. Morgoth — on 6th November, 2007 at 3:51 pm  

    5cc and others have shown the mechanics and dynamics of how the press…

    Err, no. 5cc and others have engaged in the usual leftist denial, smear-jobbing, willy-waving and arguing that black-is-white.

  125. Jagdeep — on 6th November, 2007 at 4:07 pm  

    Willy-waving is an apt description of your contributions to this site Morgoth, well done. 5cc did well, and your whining (and smear-jobbing) is a smart apertif to all that.

    By the way, is smear-jobbing what you do after willy-waving? I mean in real life,to strangers, and when you web-cam with other mentalists and stuff like that.

  126. Jai — on 6th November, 2007 at 4:15 pm  

    Sonia,

    re: post #118

    What Jagdeep said, post #121.

    jai, would it not be fair to say desi communities are just as much engaged in the ‘other people are inferior’ game?

    Whether one group is engaged in it “more” than another is a complex issue and a whole other debate. However, the point is that, generally speaking, individuals with such attitudes within desi communities here in the UK aren’t necessarily in much of a position to act on their prejudices — not to the same degree as white people are, since a) white people massively outnumber everyone else here, and b) control of the dominant culture and indeed British society as a whole is very much in their hands.

    If you were talking about negative behaviour of Asians in the subcontinent towards white visitors/residents over there then your point would be extremely relevant and accurate; even more so if, hypothetically, the situation had been reversed and Britain had been on the receiving end of colonialism from the East, with prejudice towards white people (and assumptions of intrinsic Asian racial/cultural superiority) being a result of such events. This is of course not actually the case.

    why is it we always assume its only ‘white’ people who do that?

    Nobody here is assuming any such thing.

    coming from the indian subcontinent im only too aware of our prejudices, we know full well many people from a “higher” caste used to think they were superior, many still do, however just because someone is brahmin now, should we assume that they think they’re superior?

    People conclude that other parties think they’re superior due to tangible behaviour and actions, recognisable indicators of such prejudices, and a long-term track record of being on the receiving end of such experiences. This is not based on “assumptions”; moreover, again as Jagdeep said, whether certain Asians here in the UK or (especially) back in the subcontinent behave in that way themselves towards other groups is immaterial.

    Going down that road of logic involving self-inflicted reverse “Tu Quoque” arguments is counterproductive and doesn’t help our situation at all.

  127. Jagdeep — on 6th November, 2007 at 4:18 pm  

    The demonisation happens against white people, eastern European migrants, asylum seekers, gypsies, gays, when I was growing up the main target was Afro-Carribean men. It’s not an ‘Asian’ thing.

  128. Morgoth — on 6th November, 2007 at 4:20 pm  

    Jagdeep, what 5cc et al fail to understand is that in the marketplace of ideas, the right generally comes out ahead because that is what people want and think, having made up their own minds. Whereas with the left, the only way it can ever propagate its ideas is by forcing them on people at the point of a jail sentence.

    Take immigration, for example. EIGHTY percent of people, according to a recent IPSOS poll have concerns about immigration. And the left’s response to this: ignore it, smear the term “racist!” about willy-nilly, allude to dark conspiracies involving rich media barons and open the floodgates to yet more immigration.

  129. Morgoth — on 6th November, 2007 at 4:23 pm  

    The demonisation happens against white people, eastern European migrants, asylum seekers, gypsies, gays, when I was growing up the main target was Afro-Carribean men. It’s not an ‘Asian’ thing.

    Frankly, there’s too many damn people in this country full stop. Ban immigration completely, limit people to having two children maximum, and perhaps in a generation we’ll actually have a supportable and environmentally-sustainable amount of homo sapiens living here (say, 20 million or so).

  130. Jagdeep — on 6th November, 2007 at 4:30 pm  

    Morgoth, the only person ranting about conspiracies here is you, squealing about leftist tyranny and disorder, talking in one breath about the dreaded enemy enforcing ideas on people and in the next expressing the need to enforce the number of children couples can have. I think your bouts of willy-waving and post willy-waving smear-jobbing are leading to confusion and loss of control, it must exhaust you.

  131. 5cc — on 6th November, 2007 at 4:44 pm  

    Jagdeep, what 5cc et al fail to understand is that in the marketplace of ideas, the right generally comes out ahead because that is what people want and think, having made up their own minds.

    Sorry fella, with my willy safely in my pants, I have to disagree. How could anybody have made up their own mind in this case when the report hasn’t even been published?

    Is it a coincidence that people whose only sources of information about the report say that it has called to ‘downgrade’, ‘ban, or ‘scrap’ Christmas come to the conclusion that it has called for Christmas to be downgraded, scrapped or banned without ever having read the report?

    I don’t really want to get drawn into a debate about who wins in the marketplace of ideas. I just want to show how the papers spread untruths – sometimes deliberately, sometimes not.

  132. Rumbold — on 6th November, 2007 at 4:49 pm  

    Piggy:

    “It doesn’t really say that though does it?”

    Well that is not my reading of it but I suppose we will have to agree to differ.

    5cc:

    ” Not quite. Theyr’e only saying that public organisations should mark other religious celebrations. They don’t say how much prominence the marking should take, and they only apply to public organisations.”

    It is the overall message that this sends out which perterbs me, rather than the practicalities of the proposal. I take your point about the prominence issue though.

    Ally:

    “I’m a bit late to the party on this, but I blogged about this on CiF a few days ago.”

    Sorry, I do not read CiF much, otherwise I could have just linked to your article. Great minds think alike eh?

  133. douglas clark — on 6th November, 2007 at 4:49 pm  

    Morgoth,

    I don’t agree with what you say about 5cc. If you use his link, you’ll see a balanced analysis. Quite why you would want to ad hominem him is frankly beyond me.

    Err, no. 5cc and others have engaged in the usual leftist denial, smear-jobbing, willy-waving and arguing that black-is-white.

    That is some rubbish arguement. Read what he says instead of just making it up.

  134. Morgoth — on 6th November, 2007 at 4:50 pm  

    They quoted the report itself, 5cc.

  135. Piggy — on 6th November, 2007 at 4:54 pm  

    Douglas,

    I’m not sure that ‘moderation’ is the right kind of response to this story. The telegraph and the tabs didn’t just ignore the detail or the caveats of the report, they actively made shit up. Specifically they used words, i.e. ‘downgrade’, ‘ban’ and ‘scrap’, which had literally nothing to do with the actual report. They invented, they fabricated, they lied. It was pretty obvious that this was the case reading the articles on their own, it’s even more obvious now that one of the IPPR authors has come out and said explicitly the idea of ‘downgrading’ (let alone banning) Christmas is “completely absurd” on CiF.

    You would have thought that settles the matter, but if you scroll down the CiF thread you still find shrill 27%ers claiming that when the bloke says “I don’t want to ban Christmas” he actually means “I want to ban Christmas”. Presumably there’s some kind of wingnut telepathy involved.

    There’s a hardcore of full on insane right wingers who want to attribute these kind of ridiculous opinions to the left no matter what kind of contrary evidence they are faced with.

    In this situation, the response shouldn’t be “hmmm.. well the Daily Mail says the IPPR wants to ban Christmas but I don’t think that’s a good idea”, but rather “Hey! Everybody! The Daily Mail is full of shit! THEY! ARE! LYING!”

  136. 5cc — on 6th November, 2007 at 4:54 pm  

    They quoted the report itself, 5cc.

    And as I said, the quotes from the report don’t use the words ‘downgrade’, ‘scrap’ or ‘ban’. The main one only said that public organisations should mark other religious festivals.

    If you think that means scrapping, banning or downgrading Christmas, you must have had some excellent straw men on bonfires this weekend.

  137. 5cc — on 6th November, 2007 at 4:57 pm  

    now that one of the IPPR authors has come out and said explicitly the idea of ‘downgrading’ (let alone banning) Christmas is “completely absurd” on CiF.

    Cool! Hadn’t seen that. Thanks Piggy!

  138. Piggy — on 6th November, 2007 at 4:57 pm  

    And handily, Morgoth perfectly illustrates what I’m talking about.

  139. douglas clark — on 6th November, 2007 at 4:59 pm  

    Morgoth @ 134,

    No, no they didn’t. They were given some snippets and turned it into an altogether more exciting and thrilling story. Which, somewhat unfortunately, was not based on the quotes that they did have. Please try to keep up.

  140. Rumbold — on 6th November, 2007 at 5:09 pm  

    Jai:

    “We still frequently have to deal with knee-jerk scepticism about our characters and intellectual prowess (thereby having to work much harder to achieve the same level of credibility automatically afforded to white people, even those who are not British in origin), smug condescension, and hypersensitivity in any matters relation to us (including overreactions to any perceived intellectual, behavioural or cultural “flaws” or “transgressions”, on both an individual and a group level).”

    I agree with you about the hypersensitivity bit, but that is the fault of so many things, as it conditions people to see you through the prism of race/religion. However, I have not come across many people questioning British Asians’ intellectual prowess, though as I said before I would be less likely to notice such things anyway.

    “I also bet you that the recent animosity towards Indian-based call centres is certainly not always due to genuine “underperformance” or “lack of communication skills” on the part of the staff over there, and that this outcry would (again) not necessarily have occurred to this degree if we were talking about call centres in the US or Europe.”

    Like you, I find this resentment towards Indian call centres a bit disturbing (nobody seems to resent manufactured goods from China), especially as the one time I spoke to an Indian lady (called ‘Rodney’), she was very articulate and helpful. I can understand people getting nostalgic about the decline of heavy industry in Britain, but call centres?

    “The world is changing, in some ways the balance of power is shifting, and some people here have a real problem with dealing with this because, underneath it all (even it’s on a subconscious level), they are unable to think of Asians as not being “conquered natives”.”

    I disagree. I do not think most people are intolerant towards non-whites because they resent their growing power. It is hard to believe that a bloke who yells ‘Paki’ at someone in the street is deeply concerned about the geo-political rise of India.

    “I can understand why many people here would have concerns about the cultural fabric of the country excessively changing, especially in such a relatively short period of time.”

    I am glad that you put that in. It does not bother me personally, but I do understand when people are worried about this sort of thing. It is an irrational fear, but an understandable one. Lucky we are not Tory candidates, as we would have been sacked for saying that.

    “however, when the legacy of colonialism drives attitudes and reactions on both sides of the fence — both white Brits and people originating/descended from former colonised countries — then it’s a factor in causing further friction and further entrenchment on both sides.”

    Again, is the legacy of colonialism really as pronounced as you think in this country? Most people who can remember the British in India are retired. Perhaps a great weight should be put on the sort of jobs that immigrants tended to do when coming here, especially from the 1950s to the 1970s. This image of a immigrant underclass has probably had a greater impact on today’s working (25-60) generation.

    Sonia:

    You make good points about the way Asians discrimate against others, but I don’t think what Jai said is invalidated.

    Jagdeep:

    “It’s a worthy subject to write about, but the demonisation doesn’t occur because of the suggestions of a think-tank, they occur in the primary instance by those who do the demonising. Period.”

    The think tank has added fuel to the fire though. Obviously it is the racists themselves who are at fault, but these sorts of reports do not help.

  141. Morgoth — on 6th November, 2007 at 5:12 pm  

    No they didn’t. When you look at what they said, the newspapers (including the notoriously right-wing Indie) repeated accurately what was quoted in the report.

    And now the IPPR author on CiF is actually contradicting your claims:

    “Older sources of national identity based on ethnic or religious bonds, or symbols of empire, are clearly incapable of generating an inclusive understanding of our national identity in the modern world.” or “a new bill of rights that sets out more explicitly the values underpinning our system; new public holidays and memorials that celebrate our democratic heritage”

    But of course, the left will argue that black is white and vice-versa. But that’s typical of the left – they have their own reality that they want to shove on everyone else.

  142. Rumbold — on 6th November, 2007 at 5:12 pm  

    The reports authors said all festivals should be public holidays, or none. I never said they wanted to ban Christmas, but surely if you call for the possibility of not marking Christmas by a public holiday then that is a call to ‘downgrade’ it?

  143. douglas clark — on 6th November, 2007 at 5:21 pm  

    Piggy @ 135,

    Yup, I agree with you.

    But please direct your ire at the mainstream journalists. I don’t think either Rumbold nor Ally F could be reasonably accused of making stuff up. The shit and the spin had already been created by a MSM that seems to absolutely dote on this sort of thing.

    What is really irritating is that it is a major news story, or the opportunity for some enormous amount of op-ed hand wringing, and when it turns out that it was all a load of rubbish, there is no accountability or equally sized right of reply.

    Where I fundamentally and completely disagree with Morgoth is in his attitude that journalists simply reflect public opinion. They do not. By warping stories on a consistent and ongoing basis, they create their own kind of reality. Which I for one would consider to be nearer agenda driven propaganda than newsgathering.

  144. Allard and Ventura — on 6th November, 2007 at 5:27 pm  

    Again, is the legacy of colonialism really as pronounced as you think in this country?

    Yes. Most indigenous Brits, like you, have a rosy view of Empire. To them (and you) it means railways, teaching the coloured man to play cricket and civilising the savages (who wanted to be colonised anyway).

    Whereas the the reality is, of course, different: genocide, rape, pillage, duplicity, imperialism, capitalism, death, famine, destruction, war and virulent racism.

  145. Morgoth — on 6th November, 2007 at 5:37 pm  

    Whereas the the reality is, of course, different: genocide, rape, pillage, duplicity, imperialism, capitalism, death, famine, destruction, war and virulent racism.

    The Belgian Empire, sure. Compared to the others, the British Empire was positively benign (and I speak as a non-English person here).

  146. Rumbold — on 6th November, 2007 at 5:37 pm  

    Muzumdar:

    Pretending to be French? Mon dieu. You seem to forget that Ranjit Singh was allied to the British for a time.

  147. Allard and Ventura — on 6th November, 2007 at 5:42 pm  

    Morgoth

    I would not call the concentration camps in South Africa, the British death squads roaming Northern Ireland only a few years ago, the Amritsar Massacre, the wilful implementation of the Bengal famine etc etc acts of a ‘benign’ Empire.

    Rumbold

    What are you talking about? Who is Muzumdar? And what has Maharaja Ranjit Singh got to do with any of this?

  148. Rumbold — on 6th November, 2007 at 5:48 pm  

    Allard and Ventura:

    Well, you were complaining about the British Empire, and as you had taken your moniker from two French generals who served Ranjit Singh, I just thought I would point out that Maharajah Singh worked with the British. Muzumdar is a rather controversial Sikh Khalistani-Naxalite who sounds exactly like you and often uses similar names.

  149. Piggy — on 6th November, 2007 at 5:51 pm  

    Rumbold, you should probably check out the CiF article where, as I pointed out above, Rick Muir, one of the authors of the report explicitly (and I mean actually, in real life, these are his actual words, not inventions put into his mouth by right-wing hacks)

    “Nowhere in the report do we argue that Christmas should be “downgraded” nor do we describe it as a cultural barrier for minority groups. It would of course be completely absurd to do so.”

    Nowhere in the report. Not anywhere. Not even a tiniest smidgen of a suggestion. To do so would be “absurd”. It’s here if you want to take a look:

    http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/rick_muir/2007/11/christmas_is_here_to_stay.html

    This was, however, rather obvious from the start. The paragraph from the Telegraph who apparently got it from the Mail (which presumably was cherry picked by the Mail as the most ‘damning’ example of the IPPR’s Christmas-hate) which you quoted features the phrase “it would be very hard to expunge it [Christmas] from our national life even if we wanted to

    Surely ‘even if we wanted to’ implies they don’t want to. Which means they aren’t offering a ‘ban christmas or recognise other festivals’ choice but rather making a statement that ‘as we celebrate the Christian festival of Christmas, we should also recognise other religious festivals’. Nowhere is banning or downgrading Christmas presented as an option by the IPPR report. As 5cc and myself have repeatedly noted the words ‘ban’, ‘downgrade’ and ‘scrap’ have only been used by the telegraph and the tabloids, not by the IPPR.

  150. 5cc — on 6th November, 2007 at 6:17 pm  

    Morgoth:

    I missed it. Please point me towards the words ‘ban’, ‘scrap’ or ‘downgrade’ from the direct quotes from the IPPR report. I must have missed tham.

  151. Don — on 6th November, 2007 at 6:17 pm  

    Rumbold,

    I have only read the newspaper reports. Did they actually say all festivals or none should be public holidays? I was under the impression that they just called for them to be ‘marked’ (i.e. formally recognised).

    That’s a lot of hols. England has four ostensibly christian bankies. To be even handed that would mean another, what, 24, 28, 32? public holidays a year. Seems a bit implausible. On the other hand if ‘marking’ just means sticking it on the calendar and encouraging organisations to recognise that some people might want to take some of their annual leave around diwali or whatever, maybe stick up the equivalent to a sprig of holly in their work-station, then I don’t see the problem.

    After all, schools around the country ‘mark’ the key festivals without shutting down. (I don’t get involved myself, since the Easter Incident I’ve been asked to stay at arm’s length from anything like that.)

    Morgoth,

    Does your scheme to reduce these islands’ population take into account the ageing issue? Or how to enforce the state’s control over breeding? I was just starting to think you had something interesting to say, then you drop this piece of sixth-form fatuity on the carpet.

    Also, I would suggest that right-wing views generally find it easier to get an immediately positive response because they appeal to the baser side of humanity – and we are a fairly base species in many ways. Progressive/left/liberal/whatever views tend to ask for a more considered, empathic regard for the wider community and so take longer to perculate.

  152. Boyo — on 6th November, 2007 at 6:20 pm  

    Meanwhile the “minorities” are doing a brilliant job of demonising themselves…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8W4nBAFXBk

  153. 5cc — on 6th November, 2007 at 6:25 pm  

    Rumbold:

    The reports authors said all festivals should be public holidays, or none. I never said they wanted to ban Christmas, but surely if you call for the possibility of not marking Christmas by a public holiday then that is a call to ‘downgrade’ it?

    One of the report’s authors explicitly stated in a piece in CiF that:

    Nowhere in the report do we argue that Christmas should be “downgraded” nor do we describe it as a cultural barrier for minority groups.

    and, most importantly, given your first sentence there:

    Let’s be clear: this does not mean equivalent public holidays for all faiths – no one is asking for that.

    None of the direct quotes from the report say that all festivals should be public holidays, and in an article about the report, one of the authors explicitly denies arguing so. If that’s not going to convince you, I don’t know what will.

  154. Don — on 6th November, 2007 at 6:27 pm  

    ‘Most indigenous Brits, like you, have a rosy view of Empire. To them (and you) it means railways, teaching the coloured man to play cricket and civilising the savages (who wanted to be colonised anyway).’

    Ah, how I yearn for the day when a pink-cheeked subaltern could quell an unruly tribe with one flick of his cigarette lighter, or a wily colonel could annexe a province by predicting a solar eclipse. Yep, that’s the world I live in.

    You mean Carry On Up The Khyber wasn’t a documentary?

  155. Jai — on 6th November, 2007 at 6:34 pm  

    Rumbold,

    However, I have not come across many people questioning British Asians’ intellectual prowess,

    1. Speaking very generally, in the workplace the bar is set higher for Asians with regards to expectations of performance, and there is a greater degree of hypersensitivity to perceived “failings”, as mentioned previously.

    2. There are various other experiences which one goes through on an everyday anecdotal level, although it’s difficult to explain due to…..

    though as I said before I would be less likely to notice such things anyway.

    …..Exactly ;)

    Like you, I find this resentment towards Indian call centres a bit disturbing

    It’s embedded racism and superiority-complexes in action, my friend.

    It is hard to believe that a bloke who yells ‘Paki’ at someone in the street is deeply concerned about the geo-political rise of India.

    No, but the bloke who finds himself increasingly confronted with IT consultants in positions of authority, or having to deal increasingly with Indian-based overseas operations, or Indian-based call centres whenever he has a query or requires some kind of assistance, can and will be obviously aggravated by all this if he already has some kind of racial prejudice towards Asians.

    And it’s only going to get worse during the next few decades, as India’s economy continues to expand, more British businesses are bought out by Indian industrialists, there is generally greater expansion of corporate activities into the UK by Indian companies, general strategic alliances and business partnerships between Western and Indian firms increase, India (potentially) exerts a greater influence in the global entertainment industry and achieves a higher profile on that front too, and all of this is reflected in the media in the years to come.

    Your modern-day Alf Garnett will really, really resent this, regardless of whether he’s the builder on the street who yells “Go back to Pakistan” across the road (as happened to me in Cannon Street in London a couple of months ago), or the white-collar IT contractor opposite your desk who plays golf on the weekends and is seething with resentment about all the Indians everywhere he suddenly has to deal with professionally.

  156. Jai — on 6th November, 2007 at 6:36 pm  

    continued

    is an irrational fear, but an understandable one.

    It’s common sense that a person who’s lived in a certain country for generations might get freaked out if he/she perceives “their” country to suddenly be radically changing due to the influence/influx of “foreigners”.

    Again, is the legacy of colonialism really as pronounced as you think in this country?

    Hell yeah. Not to the extent of necessarily wanting to “blow the darkies to pieces from the front of cannons”, but the very fact that the subcontinent was essentially successfully defeated and subjugated by the British Empire (and particularly the notions of racial superiority which developed during the Victorian era) still has a considerable underlying influence on how both Asians and the subcontinent itself are perceived and treated.

    Most people who can remember the British in India are retired.

    Yes, but as I said above, most people are aware that the British ruled India for a certain period of time, and also that (following that line of logic) “their” forefathers ruled “our” forefathers. So people develop false notions of superiority based on historical events now considerably in the past. This may change as India (and China, obviously) exerts an increasing global influence in the decades to come, and generations of white Brits grow up for whom that experience is “normal”. As happened with regards to the United States, for example, especially during the 20th century.

    Perhaps a great weight should be put on the sort of jobs that immigrants tended to do when coming here, especially from the 1950s to the 1970s. This image of a immigrant underclass has probably had a greater impact on today’s working (25-60) generation.

    Agreed to some extent, although speaking as the son of a doctor (and whose “family-friends” social circles correspondingly also consist of large numbers of Asian medics), the large numbers of Indian GPs around hasn’t necessarily made much difference to this stereotype, and neither are Asian doctors immune to having to face all the arrogance, assumptions and condescensions I’ve mentioned before (in terms of “liberty-taking”, people try to pull stunts that they would never dare to say to white doctors, for example).

  157. Jai — on 6th November, 2007 at 6:40 pm  

    Correction:

    “No, but the bloke who finds himself increasingly confronted with IT consultants from Indiain positions of authority…..”

  158. j0nz — on 6th November, 2007 at 7:48 pm  

    I find this resentment towards Indian call centres a bit disturbing

    Heh. Anyone seen Transformers?

    If anyone works in IT, and you have a very technical problem that needs fixing asap you will most probably feel like screaming blue murder if you are put through to an Indian call centre.

    I have had some incredibly frustrating experiences, and I do not have a accent, just a very normal southern one. I feel sorry for them I really do! Must be hell. And I know they’re like university graduates.

    But it’s the companies fault for trying to everything on the cheap. Indian call centres certainly have their places but not for things were accuracy are essential, and in time critical situations. I can’t even understand Scottish people and I’ve lived in the UK all my life! What chance do they have, if it’s their second language!

  159. Rumbold — on 6th November, 2007 at 7:49 pm  

    Don and 5cc:

    What else can marking festivals really entail?

    Jai:

    “Speaking very generally, in the workplace the bar is set higher for Asians with regards to expectations of performance, and there is a greater degree of hypersensitivity to perceived “failings”, as mentioned previously.”

    Honestly? I am not questioning your own experience but I have not really come across people who expect their Asian employees to be super-brilliant.

    “No, but the bloke who finds himself increasingly confronted with IT consultants in positions of authority, or having to deal increasingly with Indian-based overseas operations, or Indian-based call centres whenever he has a query or requires some kind of assistance, can and will be obviously aggravated by all this if he already has some kind of racial prejudice towards Asians.”

    Good point. But the racist resentment was planted by something else.

    “And it’s only going to get worse during the next few decades, as India’s economy continues to expand, more British businesses are bought out by Indian industrialists, there is generally greater expansion of corporate activities into the UK by Indian companies, general strategic alliances and business partnerships between Western and Indian firms increase, India (potentially) exerts a greater influence in the global entertainment industry and achieves a higher profile on that front too, and all of this is reflected in the media in the years to come.”

    Or maybe it will get better as people become more used to this. As a country we have become more tolerant of homosexuality for example, in part due to the fact that most people are no longer disturbed that they have a gay friend/relative/collegue.

    “Your modern-day Alf Garnett will really, really resent this, regardless of whether he’s the builder on the street who yells “Go back to Pakistan” across the road (as happened to me in Cannon Street in London a couple of months ago).”

    How do you react to something like that? Perhaps you could turn it to your advantage and ask for the plane fare (not to make light of it, but it would be nice to confuse your average racist). I have been glared at in Heston by some Mullahs, but have never been yelled at.

    “The very fact that the subcontinent was essentially successfully defeated and subjugated by the British Empire (and particularly the notions of racial superiority which developed during the Victorian era) still has a considerable underlying influence on how both Asians and the subcontinent itself are perceived and treated.”

    Have you noticed this ‘return to empire’ overtly? It has left an imprint on this nation’s subconscious for sure, but I am still not sure that this, as opposed to the simpler ‘foreigners can piss off home’ mentality, is all that important. The reason why South Asians and not (say) Aussies are abused in the street is partly to do with the fact that non-whites can be identified as foreigners (in the racist’s eyes), where as with an Aussie you cannot tell them apart from a white Brit unless they start speaking. Or until they open a can of Fosters at 10:00am.

    “Neither are Asian doctors immune to having to face all the arrogance, assumptions and condescensions I’ve mentioned before (in terms of “liberty-taking”, people try to pull stunts that they would never dare to say to white doctors, for example).”

    Really? This sort of thing goes on? I suppose I live in an area with a lot of South Asians, so racism is not as pronounced/open.

  160. Don — on 6th November, 2007 at 7:57 pm  

    ‘What else can marking festivals really entail?’

    It can entail something less than a national public holiday. Really, are you sure that you are describing the proposals accurately? When something sounds too loopy to be true, it probably is.

  161. Rumbold — on 6th November, 2007 at 7:59 pm  

    Don:

    “It can entail something less than a national public holiday. Really, are you sure that you are describing the proposals accurately? When something sounds too loopy to be true, it probably is.”

    Okay, I suppose it does not have to be a public holiday per se, but the intention was clearly to have these festivals placed on an equal public footing with Christmas. I have nothing against any of these festivals, but was concerned about the impact of these proposals.

  162. 5cc — on 6th November, 2007 at 8:06 pm  

    What else can marking festivals really entail?

    Could be anything from something as lame as putting up a bit of a display and having special dinners in the canteen to something like St Patrick’s Day – not a national holiday, doesn’t entail two weeks off, but we mark it. Or given the time of year, Hallowe’en or even Guy Fawkes’ night. Maybe when we see the whole report, it will actually say.

    Given that one of the report’s authors actually says the report doesn’t argue for equivalent holidays though, I think we can be reasonably sure that it doesn’t.

  163. sonia — on 6th November, 2007 at 8:14 pm  

    im not recognising this picture of the UK – everyone ‘generally’ thinks ‘their’ forefathers ruled/oppressed ‘our’ forefathers? huh?

    heh, more like some people’s forefathers ruled everyone. i doubt very much your average joe’s ancestors ruled anyone. are we assuming everyone in blighty is suddenly aristocracy/norman land-owning gentry or something?

    and plus i dont know why everyone forgets this – , but as plenty of the asians who immigrated here were at the bottom of the pecking order, there were plenty of brown people at the top oppressing them just as much. never mind when the British showed up, do we really think the rajas and nawabs and all the landed gentry were suddenly equal with the masses? oh they might not have been happy they weren’t the only top dogs around, but they sure as hell were still top dogs compared to the masses.

  164. Rumbold — on 6th November, 2007 at 8:18 pm  

    5cc:

    “Could be anything from something as lame as putting up a bit of a display and having special dinners in the canteen to something like St Patrick’s Day – not a national holiday, doesn’t entail two weeks off, but we mark it. Or given the time of year, Hallowe’en or even Guy Fawkes’ night. Maybe when we see the whole report, it will actually say.”

    But the quote refers to ‘marking’ Christmas as well. Though the IPPR might be backtracking a bit now (because of the headlines), I still think that there was a suggestion of parity in there.

  165. sonia — on 6th November, 2007 at 8:25 pm  

    a lot of ‘them’ and ‘us’ thinking going on clearly. its interesting how accusations of racism seem to be always accompanied by the same sort of thinking, best kind of ‘colonisation’ i suppose.

  166. 5cc — on 6th November, 2007 at 9:02 pm  

    Rumbold:

    I apologise in advance for being pernickity, but:

    But the quote refers to ‘marking’ Christmas as well. Though the IPPR might be backtracking a bit now (because of the headlines), I still think that there was a suggestion of parity in there.

    There’s not really a suggestion of parity, since the quote refers to ‘we as a nation’ marking Christmas, and only ‘public organisations’ marking other festivals.

    Seeing the quote in its context might help. Which might be why the tabloids removed the quote from its context in the first place. We’ll find out when the report’s published.

  167. Don — on 6th November, 2007 at 9:09 pm  

    ‘I still think that there was a suggestion of parity in there.’

    Based on chapter and verse of the report, or media spin thereof? I really don’t think that the opening sentence of your article stands up to scrutiny.

    I agree with your general point, but I think you picked a bad example.

    Just noticed the up-date, fair enough.

  168. Piggy — on 6th November, 2007 at 10:49 pm  

    Rumbold, I’m sorry but your update in relation to the CiF article is really rather disingenuous.

    For starters you’ve repeatedly argued that the IPPR is advocating ‘downgrading’ Christmas, for example in comments 79, 103, 132 and 142. No-one, as far as I’m aware, has suggested the quotes from the report would be false, it has been argued that the interpretation of those quotes by the Mail, Telegraph and yourself is entirely ludicrous. This in fact appears to be the case. Presumably after Rick Muir described the idea of ‘downgrading’ Christmas as “absurd” you accept that you were wrong to suggest he advocated it.

    Secondly, do you suppose public recognition of non-Christian festivals would really have the same demonising effect as advocating the banning/’downgrading’ Christmas for ‘politically correct’ reasons? I doubt most people would give a flying toss if some civil servants have a bit of a do for Eid. Clearly the Mail and the Telegraph were aware that such public recognition would barely register on the political-correctness-gone-mad-ometer, which is why they invented, I repeat, invented, the stuff about banning/downgrading Christmas. If they thought the public recognition thing would play well with the 27%ers, their articles would look considerably more like the one published in the Independent.

    Now to what extent is the IPPR really responsible for the demonisation in this instance? They’ve made a rather dull suggestion about recognising non-Christian festivals, which, I would argue, no-one really cares about. The ‘controversy’, and by extension the demonisation, has its origins almost solely in the outright lies and fabrications printed first in the Mail and then repeated in the Telegraph, Times, The Sun, The Sunday Mirror and eventually on this blog. So really, if you wanted to have a go at the people demonising minorities your post should have been targeted at the Mail and the Telegraph for twisting an eminently ignorable piece of policy wonk prattle into a piece of propaganda for their own nasty minded purposes.

  169. Refresh — on 6th November, 2007 at 11:03 pm  

    Sonia, I can only imagine that you are a contrarian. Perhaps even eccentric. No debate must go forward without a bit of whataboutery.

    Well I am afraid there is a bit of whataboutery to be had whatever the subject.

    So can we get back on track and look at this specific issue at this specific time, in this specific land?

  170. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 12:52 am  
  171. Boyo — on 7th November, 2007 at 7:42 am  

    “im not recognising this picture of the UK – everyone ‘generally’ thinks ‘their’ forefathers ruled/oppressed ‘our’ forefathers? huh?”

    Hoo-bloody-rah. Glad to see someone’s awake. Thank you Sonia.

  172. Morgoth — on 7th November, 2007 at 10:04 am  

    the British death squads roaming Northern Ireland only a few years ago,

    You do realise that I grew up in Northern Ireland? And that when it comes to Northern Ireland (and Supernova Remnants, natch), I know what the fuck I am talking about. And I know you’re talking utter shite, Allard, from a whole range of angles.

    Does your scheme to reduce these islands’ population take into account the ageing issue? Or how to enforce the state’s control over breeding? I was just starting to think you had something interesting to say, then you drop this piece of sixth-form fatuity on the carpet.

    Its not sixth-form at all Don – there are simply too many homo sapiens on this planet. As it happens, I have what can be called “deep green” tendancies – we really need to reduce our numbers dramatically before we fuck the planet over utterly. I depart from Crowley’s “Man has the right…” credo dramatically here – children (of which I have none, just two cats and some lucky escapes) are a privilege, not a right, and they need to be treated as much. It is indeed one area where I’m horribly conflicted on regarding the state and its role in matters.

    Progressive/left/liberal/whatever views tend to ask for a more considered, empathic regard for the wider community and so take longer to perculate.

    That’s what you’ve convinced yourself of, anyway. Well, its endemic in a *lot* of liberalism that they couch their political philosophy in terms of morality when I look upon them in terms of a version of SJG’s “Non-Magisterial Overlapping Domains”.

  173. Jai — on 7th November, 2007 at 10:05 am  

    Sonia,

    im not recognising this picture of the UK – everyone ‘generally’ thinks ‘their’ forefathers ruled/oppressed ‘our’ forefathers? huh?

    I did not say “everyone”, and there were specific reasons why I used quotation marks around the words “their” and “our”. Please don’t distort what I wrote.

  174. Jai — on 7th November, 2007 at 10:09 am  

    Refresh,

    Sonia, I can only imagine that you are a contrarian…..No debate must go forward without a bit of whataboutery…..Well I am afraid there is a bit of whataboutery to be had whatever the subject…..So can we get back on track and look at this specific issue at this specific time, in this specific land?

    I agree completely. Regardless of whether the topic is accusations of racism towards North Indians (particularly Punjabis) amongst some South Indian commenters on SM in the past, prejudice towards Muslims, or racism towards Asians in general, it appears that any discussions or complaints about these areas must be accompanied (or countered) by simultaneous references to alleged animosity towards white people on PP, modern-day or historical bigotry towards non-Muslims by Muslims, or racism/bigotry exhibited by Asians amongst themselves or towards non-Asians respectively. It’s tangible evidence of repeated contrarian behaviour.

    It’s a “reverse Tu Quoque argument”, as I mentioned earlier and as Jagdeep also suggested. You’re not allowed to complain about X or defend yourself against prejudices exhibited by X, because some other parties associated with you in some way via “group identity” (even if they’re thousands of miles away, in the case of the subcontinent) are also prejudiced towards X or Y, even if you don’t behave that way yourself.

    Unfortunately, I don’t believe in that kind of self-flagellating masochism.

    This doesn’t negate the validity of Sonia’s remarks regarding bigotry exhibited by some Asians, but there is a proper time and place for such arguments. Repeatedly stating them out of context when they are only tangentially related to the issues we are directly trying to address just confuses the discourse and, as you said, adds unnecessary and counterproductive “whataboutery”. It’s better to focus on the issue at hand and deal with the other legitimate matters separately.

  175. douglas clark — on 7th November, 2007 at 10:38 am  

    Jai and Refresh,

    Ahem. Cough.

    If you look to the top of this thread it is about the IPPR report. Where we’d got to, consensus wise, was that we’d all largely agreed that the report had been spun something rotten. You, Jai, felt it incumbent on you to reply to Rumbold on the reality of discrimination in modern Britain. That, sir, is at best tangentially related to what this thread is actually about, but heh, did anyone pull you or Rumbold up on your diversion? No. Because that is what always happens on controversial PP threads. You could almost say it was a law. Even though it is quite clearly ‘whataboutery’ itself.

    That was the thread that was.

  176. Rumbold — on 7th November, 2007 at 10:41 am  

    5cc:

    “I apologise in advance for being pernickity.”

    Don’t apologise- being pernickity is admirable.

    “Seeing the quote in its context might help. Which might be why the tabloids removed the quote from its context in the first place. We’ll find out when the report’s published.”

    I am sort of coming around to the conclusion that this might be a good idea.

    Don:

    “Based on chapter and verse of the report, or media spin thereof? I really don’t think that the opening sentence of your article stands up to scrutiny.

    I agree with your general point, but I think you picked a bad example.

    Just noticed the up-date, fair enough.”

    I suppose that my opening statement was a bit bombastic. I did wait after this story broke to see if the IPPR would issue a clarification, but they did not (at the time of writing), so all I had to go on were their newspaper quotes. In fairness, if you read their ‘clarification’, it is pretty hard to tell what they meant. Having said that, I was always less concerned about the ‘downgrading’ sentiment, and more worried about having so many festivals marked. I shopuld have made that clearer. Sorry.

    Piggy:

    “Presumably after Rick Muir described the idea of ‘downgrading’ Christmas as “absurd” you accept that you were wrong to suggest he advocated it.”

    Well, the more festivals you raise up to prominence the more Christmas is ‘downgraded’ (in that sense at least). Perhaps my language was a bit emotive, but I still believe that my central point stands.

    “I doubt most people would give a flying toss if some civil servants have a bit of a do for Eid.”

    That is my point though Piggy- plently of people would have a problem with it, especially if they thought ‘traditonal’ festivals were being neglected. Personally I would have happy to have an Eid celebration, but my worry was the ammunition it would give to the BNP.

    “Now to what extent is the IPPR really responsible for the demonisation in this instance? They’ve made a rather dull suggestion about recognising non-Christian festivals, which, I would argue, no-one really cares about. The ‘controversy’, and by extension the demonisation, has its origins almost solely in the outright lies and fabrications printed first in the Mail and then repeated in the Telegraph, Times, The Sun, The Sunday Mirror and eventually on this blog. So really, if you wanted to have a go at the people demonising minorities your post should have been targeted at the Mail and the Telegraph for twisting an eminently ignorable piece of policy wonk prattle into a piece of propaganda for their own nasty minded purposes.”

    Perhaps you are right. The newspapers have certainly hyped this up, and they should share some of the blame (a bad oversight on my part). It still does not excuse the think tank though.

  177. Rumbold — on 7th November, 2007 at 10:42 am  

    Douglas:

    ” You, Jai, felt it incumbent on you to reply to Rumbold on the reality of discrimination in modern Britain. That, sir, is at best tangentially related to what this thread is actually about, but heh, did anyone pull you or Rumbold up on your diversion? No. Because that is what always happens on controversial PP threads.”

    Pretty difficult to reprimand myself. Heh.

  178. Jai — on 7th November, 2007 at 11:02 am  

    Rumbold,

    Honestly? I am not questioning your own experience but I have not really come across people who expect their Asian employees to be super-brilliant.

    Perhaps they just don’t explicitly state such views in front of you. However, Asians are frequently expected to excel beyond the performance expected from their white counterparts just to be afforded the same level of recognition, positive feedback and meritocratic advancement. There is also less tolerance towards actual-or-perceived performance failures and actual-or-perceived negative personality traits or behaviours. Furthermore, there is also frequently an automatic assumption of incompetence; this isn’t just in relation to employees but any dealings with Asians in some kind of professional capacity, whether it’s someone placed into a leadership position, or some kind of “subject matter expert” or authority one has to refer to for information or assistance. You have to work noticeably harder (and be better all-round in every aspect of your peformance, skills and behaviour) just to overcome the scepticism and condescension driven by the other party’s prejudice and assumptions.

    Like I said before, the bar is set higher for Asians, just to be afforded the same level of respect and credibility. And there are a lot of people around who have a really, really big problem with dealing with Asians who are assertive or in any kind of position of authority. I’ve repeatedly seen people go out of their way to try to undermine Asians in such capacities, along with massively overreacting to any Asian who stands up for himself/herself, even if the assertive “pushing back” is legitimate. You’d be surprised how vindictive people can become in such situations, when faced with what they perceive as being an “uppity P*ki” (even if they don’t actually use such words).

    Such people want Gunga Din to remain Gunga Din, basically (if you understand the analogy).

    Good point. But the racist resentment was planted by something else.

    Yes; as I said before, depending on the specific person it’s generic “resentment of Johnny Foreigner” combined with notions of racial superiority deriving from the underlying legacy of colonialism within British culture.

    Or maybe it will get better as people become more used to this.

    Some won’t, but obviously some will, as per the analogy regarding attitudes towards the US that I mentioned earlier. Plus of course, people who have grown up surrounded by Asians and have generally had positive experiences with them (plenty of such modern-day English people under the age of 40 around, for example) are frequently at ease with mixing with Asians and don’t have any racist attitudes towards them, so the same example can be extrapolated to how people will handle the impending growing profile of India globally and its increasing economic, cultural (and possibly political) future ties with the UK.

  179. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 11:02 am  

    Douglas,

    “Because that is what always happens on controversial PP threads.”

    Perhaps. Jai was trying to point out that this sort of coverage (the subject of the thread) leads into real-life consequences for individuals, and in time builds into consequences for us all, which I would have thought made it directly relevant.

    As for the meanderings of PP threads, we are agreed. But does it get us closer to a conclusion? It doesn’t always have to be so. Self-discipline is all that is needed.

    As for Rumbold, I would say he is very good. He opens a thread and then stays to respond and manage the debate. That does not mean I agree with his observations.

  180. Jai — on 7th November, 2007 at 11:05 am  

    (continued)

    How do you react to something like that?

    Generally people either ignore it completely or confront the racists about it, depending on the situation and whether they’re willing to get into a protracted argument or possibly even a fight in a public place.

    Have you noticed this ‘return to empire’ overtly?

    It’s always been there — I’ve seen this my entire life — but it’s just less overt than it used to be.

    Also, remember that the average Aussie is descended from British people, whereas the average Asian is obviously not (apart from the Anglo-Indian variety). So Aussies will still be regarded as being “one of us” by the racists to some degree, whereas Asians will not — to them, we’re a “conquered race” as opposed to being the descendents of historical Europeans who became inhabitants of imperial colonies. So that’s an added hurdle we have to deal with, which (white) Americans, Canadians and Australians/New Zealanders don’t have to face.

    Really? This sort of thing goes on?

    Oh yes, there’s certainly a greater degree of insubordination, patronising behaviour and lack of respect that Asian doctors have to deal with, whether it’s from patients or nurses. Not always, of course, but these things do happen.

    I’ve said this on PP a few times in the past (eg. Shilpa Shetty obviously touching raw nerves with Jade, Jo et all due to the class difference, whereas a white actress behaving the same way would have been far less likely to have elicited such a negative reaction), but basically there are people around who will be deferential or at least appropriately respectful towards another white person who is in some kind of position of authority or (so to speak) “higher class” than they are, but they regard themselves as being the equal and in some cases the superior of any Asian. In the case of the latter, being confronted by evidence to the contrary triggers all kinds of neurotic reactions as their preconceptions and worldview are challenged and undermined.

  181. justforfun — on 7th November, 2007 at 11:05 am  

    Douglas – stop it, stop it NOW!!.

    Stop talking sense, you know its not allowed!

    Sonia – sorry Doug got here first.
    Anyway I’ll keep reading your comments, being a fellow Zambian, and all that ‘solidarity stuff’ that you disapprove of …. a fellow member of the Chongololo Club as well perhaps?

    Now I’ve scrolled back days and seen my last comment received no further replies I’ll have to follow your example and start needling Jai a bit :-) . but I fear it will be like shooting fish in barrel, or reply to Rumbold on the nuclear issue – bit out of date on facts but I’ll brush up on the latest ideas by the ‘nutters’ in the fission business and post some comments. But before then – think thorium, think de-salination, think steam! – of course nothing to do with the UK but everything to do with the US/India Link and nuclear tech tie up.

    Justforfun

  182. douglas clark — on 7th November, 2007 at 11:20 am  

    Refresh,

    As for Rumbold, I would say he is very good. He opens a thread and then stays to respond and manage the debate. That does not mean I agree with his observations.

    Seconded.

    He is also a good and decent person into the bargain and he laughs at my pathetic jokes.

  183. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 11:22 am  

    PP needs ‘Relevant’ icon(as opposed ‘Recommend’ button I’ve seen elsewhere) , so readers and commenters can suggest whether a post adds to the debate or not.

    #180 gets my ‘Relevant’ vote. justforfun, whatever you do please do not try to explain your post. :) .

  184. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 11:24 am  

    “he laughs at my pathetic jokes.”

    They must have gone right over my head :) .

  185. Jai — on 7th November, 2007 at 11:34 am  

    Justforfun,

    but I fear it will be like shooting fish in barrel,

    Only if the fish has a machine gun and is liable to start shooting back, mate ;)

  186. Ros — on 7th November, 2007 at 11:43 am  

    I may be deflecting a bit but if South Asians tend to be overlooked or demonised on the social scene, it is because they (especially the older lot) tend to be socially clumsy, tactless and verbally ill-equipped to stand up for themselves.
    Their ability for small talk is near zero and their accent, diction, pitch somehow tend to make one uncomfortable or poke fun.
    Am I exaggerating?

  187. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 11:53 am  

    Ros, I haven’t stopped smiling since I read your post 5 minutes ago.

    I for one have no idea if you are exaggerating. Does it make you uncomfortable or poke fun?

  188. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 11:54 am  

    I suppose more to the point and getting back on track, would media coverage as the one we are discussing give one encouragement to do so?

  189. Jai — on 7th November, 2007 at 12:21 pm  

    Jai was trying to point out that this sort of coverage (the subject of the thread) leads into real-life consequences for individuals, and in time builds into consequences for us all, which I would have thought made it directly relevant.

    Thanks, Refresh. My points were directly relevant to the following comments in Rumbold’s main article:

    What this report will do is increase ill-feeling against minorities,…… Whenever a story along these lines comes out, minorities immediately leap to condemn it, yet the man reading the Daily Mail or the Sun still is suspicious about their true intentions. These sorts of reports, entirely unprompted by minorities, will achieve nothing of benefit and only serve to damage the fabric of our society…..It looks like the BNP has got its Christmas present early this year.

    The rest was a two-way discussion between myself and Rumbold on the “Asian experience” of racism in the UK. Perhaps a secondary, parallel conversation, but still relevant to Rumbold’s main article.

  190. Rumbold — on 7th November, 2007 at 12:46 pm  

    Refresh and Douglas:

    Thank you for your very kind words. I am not sure that I ever manage a thread- I think commentators pretty much do that on their own. As for Douglas’ jokes, they can actually be funny. Sometimes.

    Also, regarding ‘thread derails’, I do think that Jai’s points have been relevant to the wider debate about perceptions of minorities. Even if they were not relevant, it still is an interesting discussion, and I think that when one gets to this stage in a thread, a gentle detour is fine.

    Refresh:

    “PP needs ‘Relevant’ icon(as opposed ‘Recommend’ button I’ve seen elsewhere) , so readers and commenters can suggest whether a post adds to the debate or not.

    #180 gets my ‘Relevant’ vote. justforfun, whatever you do please do not try to explain your post. :) .”

    I have to disagree. People already respond to posts, so it is unclear what a ratings system would do (apart from start a lot of fights- “what do you mean, post #567 ‘not recommended’!”).

    Jai:

  191. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 12:53 pm  

    Rumbold – it would be funny to see those sort of fights. But I don’t anticipate that anyone can pick a fight with an anonymous poll (no doubt I’ll be proved wrong).

    “I am not sure that I ever manage a thread- I think commentators pretty much do that on their own.”

    Well a light touch is good management. But feel free to point out when someone is off-thread. Trust me, it will work wonders.

  192. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 12:57 pm  

    Also an occasional post summarising the debate could also be useful, including naming of names too. I would do it but, just don’t like being presumtious.

  193. Rumbold — on 7th November, 2007 at 1:00 pm  

    Jai:

    “However, Asians are frequently expected to excel beyond the performance expected from their white counterparts just to be afforded the same level of recognition, positive feedback and meritocratic advancement. There is also less tolerance towards actual-or-perceived performance failures and actual-or-perceived negative personality traits or behaviours.”

    Again, I am not saying you are wrong, but it just seems a somewhat contradictory attitude for people to take; expecting both more and less from the same person.

    “I’ve repeatedly seen people go out of their way to try to undermine Asians in such capacities, along with massively overreacting to any Asian who stands up for himself/herself, even if the assertive “pushing back” is legitimate.”

    That sort of person always really annoys me. If you cannot take it, don’t dish it out. Are you sure that it is down to racism though (as opposed to just because the first person didn’t like the second person)?

    “Plus of course, people who have grown up surrounded by Asians and have generally had positive experiences with them (plenty of such modern-day English people under the age of 40 around, for example) are frequently at ease with mixing with Asians and don’t have any racist attitudes towards them, so the same example can be extrapolated to how people will handle the impending growing profile of India globally and its increasing economic, cultural (and possibly political) future ties with the UK.”

    I think that is the big hope for the future. Young people who have grown up in those sorts of areas, or have gone to university, will have become more used to being around non-whites. There will always be a few racists, whatever policies are in place, but I think that the ‘colonist’ attitudes, if that is what they are, will start, in general, to fade even more over time.

    “Generally people either ignore it completely or confront the racists about it, depending on the situation and whether they’re willing to get into a protracted argument or possibly even a fight in a public place.”

    I suppose here is no right or wrong response really.

    “Also, remember that the average Aussie is descended from British people, whereas the average Asian is obviously not (apart from the Anglo-Indian variety). So Aussies will still be regarded as being “one of us” by the racists to some degree, whereas Asians will not — to them, we’re a “conquered race” as opposed to being the descendents of historical Europeans who became inhabitants of imperial colonies.”

    I disagree. I think the difference is due to the fact that the Aussies are white, so that the fact that they are foreign is not immediately apparent. Nor am I sure about this shared kinship belief- most people think that the Aussies were descended from conflicts. I certainly do not feel closer to the average Aussie than the average Indian. It could also be to do with the fact that there are not really Aussie/NZ/white South African areas in the country, as opposed to say, Hounslow, or Bradford.

    ” Oh yes, there’s certainly a greater degree of insubordination, patronising behaviour and lack of respect that Asian doctors have to deal with, whether it’s from patients or nurses. Not always, of course, but these things do happen.”

    Being abusive to a doctor should result in them being able to refuse to treat you in a non-emergency case. That would soon shut these oiks up.

  194. Rumbold — on 7th November, 2007 at 1:05 pm  

    Refresh:

    “Rumbold – it would be funny to see those sort of fights. But I don’t anticipate that anyone can pick a fight with an anonymous poll (no doubt I’ll be proved wrong).”

    There are certainly some people here who could pick that fight.

    “Well a light touch is good management. But feel free to point out when someone is off-thread. Trust me, it will work wonders.”

    I really do think that it depends at what point the thread vears off topic. If it is at, or near, the start then that is a problem. On this thread we had largely finished discussing the leaking of the IPPR report, so it is quite nice to take a different approach to it. There should be a limit, so people do not exhaust all their ideas on one thread, and so they can have some powder saved for the next one.

  195. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 1:10 pm  

    Rumbold, you make it sound like a treadmill. I usually prefer some sort of conclusion. ‘Closure’ if you don’t mind americanisms.

    There is nothing worse, to me, than finding the same stuff churned out thread after thread. So its better to have persuaded someone or been persuaded by force of argument, and then move onto the next topic.

    Sorry, this in itself is becoming a derailment.

  196. Rumbold — on 7th November, 2007 at 1:13 pm  

    Refresh:

    “Rumbold, you make it sound like a treadmill. I usually prefer some sort of conclusion. ‘Closure’ if you don’t mind americanisms.”

    Conclusions can be a bit boring, as the fun is in the debate, though I do agree that to discuss the same issue again and again in a short space of time can be a bit trying.

    “Sorry, this in itself is becoming a derailment.”

    I was reflecting on that irony myself.

  197. douglas clark — on 7th November, 2007 at 1:17 pm  

    Rumbold and Jai,

    Sure, I have absolutely no problem with a thread running at, what 190 posts, running a bit off topic. It is just that pots shouldn’t call kettles black.

    I was particularily interested in Refresh’s post at 108. Which is really, really interesting. With your agreement, I’d like to ask him to expand on that a bit. Off topic, totally, I know.

    So, Refresh, do tell us more. Ancient religious texts seem to have a handle on quantum physics or some such? This is almost as remarkable as discovering that Morgoth knows what he’s talking about on Supernova Remnants. As you said, we should live to learn.

    And Rumbold, you are a master of damning with faint praise:

    As for Douglas’ jokes, they can actually be funny. Sometimes.

    And your forensic skills on the Muzumdar front suggest that I’m not about to play Cluedo with you!

  198. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 1:34 pm  

    “So, Refresh, do tell us more.”

    I would if I knew more. I guess that is the point, we cannot close off debate on any aspect of life, material and spiritual.

    On the whole I believe rational thought has been developed by the human race across the whole of the globe. What we accept as acceptable today, was not acceptable 100 years ago, and in many cases only 30 years ago. And some changes may be reversed, based on experience and sometimes fear.

    The tendancy to presume that rational thought is only the preserve of the secular is a big mistake.

    More on this if I can find the time and get to know more – probably from my friend.

  199. sonia — on 7th November, 2007 at 1:43 pm  

    sounds like some of u are taking what the tabloids say to be representative of what people actually think on the ground, clearly some are, but again, many of those people who do aren’t necessarily ‘white’ or british even. my point is if one is going to generalize about an entire group based on the shitty things some people who may belong to that group – have done, well its no different to the original problem, is it really? and if we can’t agree on that, well its all very shaky.

  200. douglas clark — on 7th November, 2007 at 1:45 pm  

    Refresh,

    Thanks. I agree completely that we all stand on the shoulders of every civilisation that has gone before. I do like to think that maybe we are making a little progress though.

    I’d be very interested to hear what your friend has to say.

  201. sonia — on 7th November, 2007 at 1:53 pm  

    yes id be very keen to actually have someone dissect – what e.g. the Quran is meant to have in the way of amazing scientific knowledge. always sounded like that was very wishful thinking to me, but i am willing to be ‘infomred’ so yes, pls, refresh, we are all very keen.

    and frankly, this off-thread business is crap. If we were going to be strict, all sorts of things that are actually interrelated – are considered ‘off-thread’. To any systems thinkers/people interested in humans and Society – NOTHING – is off -thread.

    if PP is going to be very mean about sticking to the point, well I frankly, will take my enlightening discourse and comments elsewhere. There is frankly no reason why people should not be free to post what comments they like – it is not taking up anyone else’s space and time. and people’s comments always make others think – and that – surely is the point.

    and for goodness sakes, asians being expected to perform better?! what and where on earth do you live Jai? Certainly not London which is full of an international workforce. You make it sound as if you are in deepest darkest Yorkshire or something.

  202. sonia — on 7th November, 2007 at 1:54 pm  

    i’m a bloody foreigner and i’ve never had to deal with any of this. Perhaps some of you ought to ask yourselves how much of this is ‘real’ and how much is your own perception/paranoia.

  203. Piggy — on 7th November, 2007 at 1:56 pm  

    Rumbold

    “Well, the more festivals you raise up to prominence the more Christmas is ‘downgraded’ (in that sense at least).”

    Come off it, this evidently wasn’t the point you were making at comment 79 when you said:

    “In other words, either downgrade Christmas or celebrate other religious holidays as well”

    or in your initial post which started:

    “A think tank close to Gordon Brown has recommended that Christmas either be downgraded from a public holiday, or failing that, all non-Christian festivals should be upgraded to the status of public holidays”

    In both cases you offer a choice between either downgrading or celebrating other religious holidays (which in itself was an inaccurate interpretation of the report), not downgrading via celebration.

    I pointed out above that the idea that recognition of other religious festivals amounted to the downgrading of Christmas is really rather silly. It’s not a zero-sum situation, we don’t have finite reserves of festive fun which we have to strategically deploy so that celebrating one festival limits the extent to which we can enjoy another.

    “That is my point though Piggy- plently of people would have a problem with it, especially if they thought ‘traditonal’ festivals were being neglected.”

    As I’ve said, there is literally no reason to suppose that the recognition of Eid would mean the neglect of Christmas. The only people who would be especially bothered by this are thew kind of nutcases who are already convinced that there’s a vast conspiracy to destroy Britain and replace it with the Islamo-Polish Liberal Socialist Republic of Immigrantstan. The Mail were clearly aware that to appeal to people beyond their hardcore mentalist base, ‘IPPR says celebrate other religious festivals alongside Christmas’ had to be changed to ‘IPPR says ban/scrap/downgrade Christmas’.

    “The newspapers have certainly hyped this up”

    ‘Hyped’? They haven’t merely ‘hyped’ this, they actively made stuff up. They claimed the report makes recommendations it clearly doesn’t make and they did so with what seems to me like deeply malicious intent. I don’t really see how the IPPR can be at fault if the newspapers whip up a controversy by pulling a fake opinion out of their arses and attributing it to the IPPR.

  204. Morgoth — on 7th November, 2007 at 2:03 pm  

    what e.g. the Quran is meant to have in the way of amazing scientific knowledge. always sounded like that was very wishful thinking to me, but i am willing to be ‘infomred’ so yes, pls, refresh, we are all very keen.

    To call it “wishful thinking” would be extremely kind indeed. “Lying for Allah/Yahweh/etc” would be a more accurate description for it. I’ve dealt with a lot of the astronomical side of things before – its amazing the crap you get sent to you by theists when you write an article busting their dearly-head delusions.

  205. douglas clark — on 7th November, 2007 at 2:19 pm  

    Hey,

    Piggy, what the hell do you want, blood? Read 175 again without foaming at the mouth.

    The point, I’ve always liked to think, about Pickled Politics, is that people, even authors, can be persuaded by arguement. This thread is an excellent example of that.

    Knowing when your side has won and being graceful in victory is quite an important social skill.

    Let it be, please?

  206. douglas clark — on 7th November, 2007 at 2:23 pm  

    Sonia,

    It would be a right shame if you stopped commenting on here.

  207. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 2:28 pm  

    “yes id be very keen to actually have someone dissect – what e.g. the Quran is meant to have in the way of amazing scientific knowledge. always sounded like that was very wishful thinking to me, but i am willing to be ‘infomred’ so yes, pls, refresh, we are all very keen.”

    I expected you to presume I was talking about the Quran. I think you missed the clue – the texts and thought I referred to was 2 to 3 thousand years old.

  208. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 2:30 pm  

    “i’m a bloody foreigner and i’ve never had to deal with any of this. Perhaps some of you ought to ask yourselves how much of this is ‘real’ and how much is your own perception/paranoia.”

    You’ve hit the nail on the head. You do not know how we got to the stage where you can be in London and not know of the trials and tribulations of your predecessors.

  209. sonia — on 7th November, 2007 at 2:30 pm  

    i didnt’ ‘presume’ the Quran was ‘what’ you were talking about, but i presumed that you might include it in a range of texts. :-)

  210. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 2:32 pm  

    Perhaps the whole country was as you imagine ‘darkest yorkshire’ to be.

  211. sonia — on 7th November, 2007 at 2:32 pm  

    hah. well for your information refresh, you’re presuming ive never worked or lived anywhere else than London! actually ive worked in deepest darkest yorkshire, so..

    anyhow my point is not that things dont happen, but in generalising that ‘thing’ to all people and places, is problematic. and also if jai is seriously seeing such things, and his friends/whoever are, they should raise it. employers have a commitment to equality and diversity and if someone feels they are being unfairly treated, that’s what the legislation is there for – concerns should be raised. As far as public procurement guidelines go, any organisation which has been taken to tribunal/has had such complaints registered against it – find it very hard to win public contracts. So people ought to raise specific instances then.

  212. douglas clark — on 7th November, 2007 at 2:32 pm  

    Morgoth,

    Which is why I was interested. The chap Refresh referred to is a scientist and not at all religious, so it’s not coming from the usual suspects. It’s not as if the people back then were stupid. In your own field, I believe the Crab Nebula supernova event was identified by Chinese astronomers about a thousand years ago?

  213. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 2:34 pm  

    By the way there is nothing wrong with Yorkshire. Its a lovely place.

  214. Jai — on 7th November, 2007 at 2:34 pm  

    Rumbold,

    Again, I am not saying you are wrong, but it just seems a somewhat contradictory attitude for people to take; expecting both more and less from the same person.

    Perhaps I should have been clearer: “Demanding more, expecting less”.

    Are you sure that it is down to racism though (as opposed to just because the first person didn’t like the second person)?

    Sometimes “Yes”, unfortunately. You can see them cutting white people far more slack in similar circumstances.

    Being abusive to a doctor should result in them being able to refuse to treat you in a non-emergency case. That would soon shut these oiks up.

    Agreed. Some Asian GPs also just remove them from their register of patients if they repeatedly cross the line, and tell them to find another GP.

    **************

    Douglas,

    It is just that pots shouldn’t call kettles black.

    They’re not quite analogous situations, as Rumbold clarified in post #189. Nice try, though.

    *********************

    Sonia,

    and for goodness sakes, asians being expected to perform better?! what and where on earth do you live Jai?

    I’ve lived in London for most of my life, professionally I’m originally from a so-called “Big 5″ management & IT consulting background, and I now work in the City (before you ask, I’ve taken this week off due to refurbishment work being undertaken at home, which is why I have the time to write all these posts today). Most of my friends are from the same background, along with some “family friends” in Medicine due to my father’s profession. No doubt my views have been influenced by my own experiences along with the experiences of people within my professional, family & social circles, but there it is.

    Certainly not London which is full of an international workforce.

    Naive. You may want to consider how many Asians there are in the most competitive and prestigious areas of the various industries and professions located in the capital, and how easy it is for them to secure (and hold on to) these jobs compared to their white colleagues, especially those who are equally or less qualified than they are.

  215. sonia — on 7th November, 2007 at 2:34 pm  

    Thank you douglas, i wouldn’t like to . However, there won’t be much fun/or much point – if we are all going to be humourless and force everyone to stick to party lines.

  216. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 2:36 pm  

    “and not know of the trials and tribulations of your predecessors.”

    That is not to say I do not note your experience as a positive input to say we have all progressed.

  217. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 2:42 pm  

    Morgoth, if I was to accept your approach then it has to be on the basis of everything had been based on superstition until ‘your predecessors’ came along.

    I would argue you have only one half of the rational gene.

  218. Jai — on 7th November, 2007 at 2:52 pm  

    i’m a bloody foreigner and i’ve never had to deal with any of this.

    Perhaps it depends on what you do for a living, Sonia.

    Professions which are traditionally regarded as very prestigious and highly-paid attract people who are not only very intelligent but also very ambitious. The greater the potential rewards, the greater the level of competitiveness, sometimes ruthlessly cut-throat in nature. And all of this is also combined with higher levels of egotism and arrogance, with all the politics which results.

    I believe your sister is a doctor so I’m sure she could tell you some stories too. Medicine obviously has a disproportionately high number of Asians in the profession, but it’s not necessarily free of the type of crap I’ve been referring to either.

    and also if jai is seriously seeing such things, and his friends/whoever are, they should raise it. employers have a commitment to equality and diversity and if someone feels they are being unfairly treated, that’s what the legislation is there for – concerns should be raised.

    Correct in theory, but you may be underestimating the lengths people are frequently prepared to go to in order to save their own necks, especially when ambition and greed outweighs and overrides ethical considerations. Extremely high intelligence + selfishness + desire for worldly advancement, status and wealth = A dangerous combination. Such corrupt people just use more and more devious methods to perpetuate their bigotry and neuroses in order to get away with it.

  219. douglas clark — on 7th November, 2007 at 2:55 pm  

    Jai,

    Heh.

    Affirmation and clarification are different things, please discuss.

    Post 189, was that not round about where I completely derailed this thread? ;-)

  220. Kismet Hardy — on 7th November, 2007 at 3:05 pm  

    Affirmation: Yes I did vow my undying love for the peasant woman

    Clarification: But I was naked at the time and she was afraid so that’s why she called the police

  221. Piggy — on 7th November, 2007 at 3:10 pm  

    Douglas, looking back I admit I skipped over Rumbold’s reply to Don (which is largely reasonable) and focused on his comments on my post(If you think this demonstrates I have an irritating narcissistic streak, you’re probably right).

    Nonetheless, Rumbold is still saying things I disagree with, so I kind of had an urge to say ‘I disagree’. Although in the interests of balance, I accept I shouldn’t have voiced my disagreement in such an irritating faux-outraged tone. Sorry.

  222. Morgoth — on 7th November, 2007 at 3:12 pm  

    Which is why I was interested. The chap Refresh referred to is a scientist and not at all religious, so it’s not coming from the usual suspects. It’s not as if the people back then were stupid.

    Indeed not Don. However, I’m well familiar with grandiose claims made by theists as if to impart justification by means of “unexplainable divine knowledge” to their holy books. The same holy books that tell us that Pi = 3 or that the Earth is flat, or that the Sun is swallowed up by a mud pool in the evening, mind you.

    As to the particulars of Refresh’s claim about QUantum Physics – I suspect his friend is strongly mistaken (I’m currently polishing off a degree in Astrophysics and we’ve covered quantum physics extensively) or has given special meaning to something so vague that any one of a hundred different things could give it meaning (generally how supposed “prophecies” are fulfilled, and the princple on which horoscopes seem to work).

    In your own field, I believe the Crab Nebula supernova event was identified by Chinese astronomers about a thousand years ago?

    Indeed. It was seen by Chinese and Arab astronomers. It wasn’t identified as a supernova mind you, rather as a (quaint term for it) “guest star”. The remnant was first seen in the 18th century, and it wasn’t identified as a Supernova until the early 20th century mind you.

    Morgoth, if I was to accept your approach then it has to be on the basis of everything had been based on superstition until ‘your predecessors’ came along.

    Until the development of the scientific method, basically, yes it was, Refresh.

  223. Rumbold — on 7th November, 2007 at 3:14 pm  

    Douglas:

    “And Rumbold, you are a master of damning with faint praise … And your forensic skills on the Muzumdar front suggest that I’m not about to play Cluedo with you!”

    Well, I pick out Muzumdar more often then not (he has a very distinctive writing style, and uses anti-colonial names as a rule).

    “The point, I’ve always liked to think, about Pickled Politics, is that people, even authors, can be persuaded by arguement. This thread is an excellent example of that.”

    Well said- but I am not finished with Piggy yet.

    Piggy:

    “I pointed out above that the idea that recognition of other religious festivals amounted to the downgrading of Christmas is really rather silly. It’s not a zero-sum situation, we don’t have finite reserves of festive fun which we have to strategically deploy so that celebrating one festival limits the extent to which we can enjoy another.”

    It is not so much that people will get fatigue exhaustion, more that people would feel Christmas under threat from the increasing prominence given to other festivals.

    ” As I’ve said, there is literally no reason to suppose that the recognition of Eid would mean the neglect of Christmas. The only people who would be especially bothered by this are thew kind of nutcases who are already convinced that there’s a vast conspiracy to destroy Britain and replace it with the Islamo-Polish Liberal Socialist Republic of Immigrantstan.”

    That was my point Piggy. I am not offended by such a proposal, but my fear was that it would play into the hands of the people you describe above. The sentiment of the quotes was clear.

    “They haven’t merely ‘hyped’ this, they actively made stuff up. They claimed the report makes recommendations it clearly doesn’t make and they did so with what seems to me like deeply malicious intent. I don’t really see how the IPPR can be at fault if the newspapers whip up a controversy by pulling a fake opinion out of their arses and attributing it to the IPPR.”

    Sorry, which of the quotes are fictional? You might strongly disagree with the interpretation, but it is hardly false.

    Sonia:

    “However, there won’t be much fun/or much point – if we are all going to be humourless and force everyone to stick to party lines.”

    I agree. Nobody is forcing anybody to stick to the party line here (not that I can work out what the party line is).

  224. Rumbold — on 7th November, 2007 at 3:17 pm  

    Piggy:

    No need to apologise- I like a good punch-up.

  225. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 3:23 pm  

    Morgoth
    “unexplainable divine knowledge” – that’s what I am highlighting. Nothing is without explanation. It is for us to find the explanation, to search for the truth.

    “Indeed. It was seen by Chinese and Arab astronomers. It wasn’t identified as a supernova mind you, rather as a (quaint term for it) “guest star”. The remnant was first seen in the 18th century, and it wasn’t identified as a Supernova until the early 20th century mind you.”

    A guest star, a supernova – whats in a name? The fact that they explored the possibilities is what matters. The fact they did it methodically makes it science.

    You have to have the observations before you can hypothesise.

    And science is not ruled out by religion.

  226. Kismet Hardy — on 7th November, 2007 at 3:31 pm  

    The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins is well worth a read

  227. Jagdeep — on 7th November, 2007 at 3:42 pm  

    Perhaps some of you ought to ask yourselves how much of this is ‘real’ and how much is your own perception/paranoia>

    Sonia, that’s the kind of crap that can be hurled at anyone. If your experience does not tally with someone elses, that only means that their experience is different, and calling them paranoid is incredibly arrogant and could just as easily be thrown in your direction if their experience does not tally with yours.

  228. Morgoth — on 7th November, 2007 at 3:42 pm  

    guest star, a supernova – whats in a name? The fact that they explored the possibilities is what matters. The fact they did it methodically makes it science.

    But they didn’t.

    They had no idea of what a supernova actually was, or how it occurred. They just noted a “guest star” that appeared and disappeared again. They had no means of figuring out what it actually was, and there is no record of them “exploring the possibilities”.

    (In fact, the term “supernova” dates from the 1930s IIRC, about the same time that what they actually were was figured out by Baade and Zwicky).

  229. Morgoth — on 7th November, 2007 at 3:43 pm  

    Sonia, that’s the kind of crap that can be hurled at anyone. If your experience does not tally with someone elses, that only means that their experience is different, and calling them paranoid is incredibly arrogant and could just as easily be thrown in your direction if their experience does not tally with yours.

    good lad, we’ll make an Objectivist out of you yet.

  230. Jagdeep — on 7th November, 2007 at 3:46 pm  

    Make something out of yourself first Morgoth, you need help.

  231. Morgoth — on 7th November, 2007 at 3:53 pm  

    Make something out of yourself first Morgoth, you need help.

    What I really need at the moment is a backrub.

  232. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 5:00 pm  

    Morgoth,

    Are you saying that the observations were not made methodically, and recorded?

    Are you also saying they did not make tools and implements to make the observations?

    The fact that science was dismissed (to put it mildly) in Europe in the middle ages, does not mean that was the case elsewhere.

    I am beginning to think your document (you linked earlier) itself needs a closer look to see what is missing. Just to see how much of the picture you have really captured.

  233. Morgoth — on 7th November, 2007 at 5:11 pm  

    Are you saying that the observations were not made methodically, and recorded?

    No. Are you?

    Are you also saying they did not make tools and implements to make the observations?

    No. Are you?

    The fact that science was dismissed (to put it mildly) in Europe in the middle ages, does not mean that was the case elsewhere.

    No one is arguing that. However, it remains they did not attempt an explanation or try to figure out (to the limits of their knowledge) a mechanism for doing so.

    I am beginning to think your document (you linked earlier) itself needs a closer look to see what is missing.

    Oh, I don’t cover recent developmens in Collapsars, GRBs and Hypernovae. Granted it was written in 2003 before our knowledge of those was firmed up to the extent it is today (for example, the D.A. Green Galactic SNR Catalogue contains 265 confirmed SNRs now).

    Also, there have been many recent surveys which have increased the number of detected galactic SNRs to a point where they become a much better fit to the models of predicted numbers of galactic SNRs.

    Just to see how much of the picture you have really captured.

    By all means read the FAQ. You might actually learn something as opposed to the unscientific gibberish you’re been spouting on this thread.

  234. sonia — on 7th November, 2007 at 5:14 pm  

    heh, i wasnt saying my experience trumped yours. :-) i wasnt saying someone’s specific experience wasn’t valid. i was talking about generalising those experiences to an entire group of people you then define by race.

    white people are racist
    white employers expect asian workers to prove themselves more
    black people are dumb
    muslims are terrorists

    are to me the same sort of generalisations which are problematic.

  235. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 5:16 pm  

    “You might actually learn something as opposed to the unscientific gibberish you’re been spouting on this thread.”

    I am sure I will. I don’t think I’ve made any scientific claims.

    What I am saying is that you dismiss what’s gone before too easily.

    Go get your bathrug.

  236. Jagdeep — on 7th November, 2007 at 5:18 pm  

    But sonia you make generalisations about Asians, Bengalis, Muslims yourself quite often.

  237. Morgoth — on 7th November, 2007 at 5:20 pm  

    To be fair, “gibberish” was unkind. I withdraw that. But my point is that “ancient wisdom” should stand or fall on its scientific merit, not because it is “ancient”. Ancient astronomers did many wonderful things (they were just as clever and intelligent as you or I), but they were lacking the actual understanding to put things into context (c.f. the origins of the word “planet” for a prime example of this).

    By all means, read the FAQ. Any suggestions on it are most welcome. It needs a slight rewrite in certain areas since its 5-6 years old, then it’ll have to go be peer rereviewed by the professional astrophysicists that hang out on talk.origins before its reuploaded to the website.

  238. Morgoth — on 7th November, 2007 at 5:21 pm  

    Go get your bathrug.

    The gf is suffering with the flu atm (I’ve had my jab and as a result I’m feeling quite smug atm) – so I’ll have to try and persuade the cats to give me a good kneeding instead.

  239. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 5:22 pm  

    “No one is arguing that. However, it remains they did not attempt an explanation or try to figure out (to the limits of their knowledge) a mechanism for doing so.”

    This is where you are totally wrong. We wouldn’t have got this far if people hadn’t attempted rational explanations.

  240. Sunny — on 7th November, 2007 at 5:23 pm  

    Go get your bathrug.

    I think Refresh was offering Morgoth. By being nasty you’ve missed out on a backrub now. See!

  241. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 5:26 pm  

    Hahaha, If it was an offer it was for a bathrug. One made out of hessian.

  242. Morgoth — on 7th November, 2007 at 5:31 pm  

    This is where you are totally wrong. We wouldn’t have got this far if people hadn’t attempted rational explanations.

    There’s no evidence of them doing so in the case of “Guest Stars”. Primarily because they were heavily influenced by Astrology (and back then, Astronomy was considered but a mere fact of the much more important Astrology, especially in Chinese circles).

    One made out of hessian.

    I’m not a follower of Gerald Gardiner!

  243. douglas clark — on 7th November, 2007 at 5:50 pm  

    Morgoth,

    The point, at least poetically, still stands. It has been Mankinds curiosity about the natural world that got it to where it is today. Obviously, the pace has quickened somewhat it the last hundred years or so, that much is blindingly obvious.

    I take it GRB is Gamma Ray Burst?

  244. ally — on 7th November, 2007 at 5:50 pm  

    blimey, is this still going?

    I salute yer indefatigability, picklers.

  245. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 6:49 pm  

    “Ancient astronomers did many wonderful things (they were just as clever and intelligent as you or I), but they were lacking the actual understanding to put things into context (c.f. the origins of the word “planet” for a prime example of this).”

    You didn’t need to tell me, I think I needed to get you to see.

  246. Morgoth — on 7th November, 2007 at 7:04 pm  

    Refresh, I’ve always seen that. My problem is with the a priori assumption upthread that “ancient wisdom” had worth in itself.

  247. Jai — on 7th November, 2007 at 7:06 pm  

    i was talking about generalising those experiences to an entire group of people you then define by race.

    white people are racist
    white employers expect asian workers to prove themselves more
    …..
    are to me the same sort of generalisations which are problematic.

    No Sonia, I never said “all” white people behave that way, and neither did anyone else on this thread. It was very clear indeed that I was referring to specific examples (ie. white people who are racist, not white people in general), and was not extrapolating that to “all” white people en masse.

    Again, please stop distorting and misrepresenting what I have been saying.

  248. Ros — on 7th November, 2007 at 7:30 pm  

    I have lost track of the argument.

    Can Sunny and his team put the different fragments together and summarise where we are now?

    I think when the comments on a topic exceed 100 (say), Sunny’s team should make it a rule to monitor progress and supply regular summary updates.

  249. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 7:31 pm  

    Morgoth,

    “My problem is with the a priori assumption upthread that “ancient wisdom” had worth in itself.”

    Upthread where?

  250. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 7:35 pm  

    I agree with Ros, it would be a revolution for blogging community.

    Ros, in a nutshell we are now arguing about whether Morgoth has the intelligence and integrity ( I always prefer people with integrity over intelligence) to be a trustworthy scientist. By that we mean he isn’t one of those guns for hire (a la Blackwater Scientific inc.) Oh and we are trying to have a bit of fun at the same time.

    Would you say that was the gist of it, Morgoth?

  251. Boyo — on 7th November, 2007 at 7:40 pm  

    Champagne supernova, maybe? Or possibly it was an oasis?

  252. Refresh — on 7th November, 2007 at 7:41 pm  

    Morgoth,

    “My problem is with the a priori assumption upthread that “ancient wisdom” had worth in itself.”

    What does a priori mean? These smart words get me all nervous.

    “ancient wisdom” v. “modern wisdom” – you will discard those elements which are disproved… Until something else comes along.

  253. Morgoth — on 7th November, 2007 at 9:29 pm  

    Would you say that was the gist of it, Morgoth?

    Not at all. My intelligence and integrity aren’t in question here, as demonstrated by an article above, for example. What is being discussed here is your assumption that somehow “ancient wisdom” has some inherent value above and beyond any scientific worth that happenstance may imbue it with.

  254. Sunny — on 7th November, 2007 at 9:32 pm  

    Ros – heh. thanks but I don’t really have the energy for that. I don’t know what Refresh / Morgoth are going on about either but at least they’re civil about it.

  255. sonia — on 7th November, 2007 at 10:39 pm  

    haha given the nature of some of these threads, it would be hilarious if updates had to be provided! plus i dont think anyone can summarise these discussions :-) without everyone then jumping in to say how they disagreed with the summary, and words had been put in their mouth, x y z.

  256. Refresh — on 8th November, 2007 at 12:17 am  

    I question your integrity for the very simple reason that you dismiss the early scientists as if they were irrelevant; and because you do not appear to recognise their search for knowledge, science and technology did not develop in a vacuum. Frameworks which allow for these developments have existed in the past, well before the existence of an ‘enlightened’ Europe. In China, India, Middle East and elsewhere.

    Now that the framework underpinning scientific advances has been dismantled (or should I say privatised) we will no longer pursue knowledge for the sake of knowledge but purely as an economic activity. Knowledge is now intellectual property (IP) that comes out of the knowledge economy. In time we shall see that IP will fuel future conflicts.

    That aside, it will slowly suffocate scientists and researchers as they become less able collaborate openly, especially across competing economies.

  257. Refresh — on 8th November, 2007 at 12:23 am  

    Sonia, summaries can be pretty useful and I suspect highly entertaining. You could run them as a wiki.

    Lets not forget all this blogging etc is still in its infancy. We need a model which is effective in serving its community.

  258. Refresh — on 8th November, 2007 at 12:46 am  

    “What is being discussed here is your assumption that somehow “ancient wisdom” has some inherent value above and beyond any scientific worth that happenstance may imbue it with.”

    I don’t believe I have led anyone to think that, I certainly haven’t said it. Quite the opposite. I say you dismiss historical efforts too readily on the basis of being ‘rational’.

    Here is the challenge: Why don’t you work backwards from your thesis/article and review scientific work over the last 2,000 years? If you do it with an open mind, then I suspect you could easily develop it into a bestseller.

    Do it as a blog initially – a bit like that belle de jour lass.

  259. Piggy — on 8th November, 2007 at 1:38 am  

    Rumbold

    Oh… ok we’re carrying this on.

    “Sorry, which of the quotes are fictional? You might strongly disagree with the interpretation, but it is hardly false.”

    But the interpretation of the IPPR piece by the telegraph and yourself, that they favour downgrading/banning/scrapping christmas, actually is false. We know its false because a) the ‘even if we wanted to’ implied they didn’t want to and b) the author of the report said that he didn’t favour banning/downgrading Christmas. The latter point seems rather conclusive to me, unless you’re playing the ‘oh he says he didn’t mean that but we know better’ game, which would be a bit silly.

    “It is not so much that people will get fatigue exhaustion, more that people would feel Christmas under threat from the increasing prominence given to other festivals.”

    Well we’re into hypotheticals a bit here, but I really doubt that public recognition of non christian festivals would annoy anyone outside of the wingnut 27% of the population. It doesn’t really matter if the 27%ers are unhappy about it because they won’t be happy about anything very much until we’re ruled by a UKIP-BNP junta who are prepared to get rid of all the ‘foreigns’.

    What I was really trying to get at on this point is the way you’ve switched what your accusing the IPPR of doing. In the initial post and then in your comments up to 176 you claim the IPPR is demanding that we choose between scrapping/downgrading christmas from a public holiday or celebrating other religious festivals. Then at 176 you start suggesting the IPPR is going to accidentally cause the downgrading of Christmas by encouraging the public recognition of non-christian festivals. That switch struck me as a bit evasive. It seems pretty clear to me that the former would be a considerably more controversial statement for the IPPR to make and had they made such a statement I’d agree you could accuse them of contributing to the demonisation of minorities. They didn’t, however, and even if you really think the ‘downgrade by celebrating non-christian festivals’ will still play into the hands of the BNP (which I don’t), it wouldn’t hurt to acknowledge that it would be to a much lesser extent than if the IPPR had come out and said what you intially claimed i.e. that if we don’t celebrate non-christian festivals, Christmas should be downgraded from a public holiday.

  260. Morgoth — on 8th November, 2007 at 10:36 am  

    Here is the challenge: Why don’t you work backwards from your thesis/article and review scientific work over the last 2,000 years? If you do it with an open mind, then I suspect you could easily develop it into a bestseller.

    I’ve got about a dozen books that do that same thing. The Cambridge History of Astronomy is a particularily good and enligtening read. It still doesn’t change the fact though, that Ptolemy’s astronomy, for example, is nowadays nothing more than a historical curiosity.

  261. Refresh — on 8th November, 2007 at 11:11 am  

    “that Ptolemy’s astronomy, for example, is nowadays nothing more than a historical curiosity”

    Philistine.

  262. Morgoth — on 8th November, 2007 at 11:40 am  

    Interesting, sure, but of pratical scientific value nowadays – nope.

    That’s the difference between us. I’m forward looking. You look back to the past.

  263. sonia — on 8th November, 2007 at 11:52 am  

    refresh, that’s a great idea – a wiki, i mean, with these summaries. and of course you’re right about blogging being in its infancy.

    jai/jagdeep -sorry hadnt read your comments up above. jai im sorry if you took my comments to mean that i was ‘disregarding’ other individual’s experiences and that racism has not been a significant barrier certainly for many people in the past, and disregarding their efforts/struggles, so apologies for how it came across. ( and jagdeep – of course we all make generalisations!) i guess my point was that generalisations aside, if/when we focus on an individuals’ experience, ( in my opinion) whatever perceptions/prejudices/feelings ( yes sure we all have some somewhere) both individuals/parties have – tend to colour how the social interaction happens and thus the outcome. that was pretty much it. so i guess what my interest is in seeing how that plays out for different people, we all have different bees in our bonnets. im interested in how cycles set up when we harbour suspicious of what others may be thinking or not thinking, and that in turn influences our behaviour with some particular individual, and trying to be reflexive about that, so in order to maximise our agency in that particular interaction. so i’m thinking on an individual level, how we have perceptions, that continue to affect our individual experiences. and i do think that is a valid thing for all of us individuals to think about as we live our lives.

  264. Rumbold — on 8th November, 2007 at 11:53 am  

    Piggy:

    “We know its false because a) the ‘even if we wanted to’ implied they didn’t want to and b) the author of the report said that he didn’t favour banning/downgrading Christmas. The latter point seems rather conclusive to me, unless you’re playing the ‘oh he says he didn’t mean that but we know better’ game, which would be a bit silly.”

    Well, he is saying that now on the basis of the media storm, but who knows what the original report actually contained.

    “What I was really trying to get at on this point is the way you’ve switched what your accusing the IPPR of doing.”

    In other words I modified my opinion on the basis of a full and frank discussion, as well as the IPPR’s ‘clarification’.

  265. Refresh — on 8th November, 2007 at 12:28 pm  

    Morgoth,

    “I’m forward looking. You look back to the past.”

    I am afraid you are wrong. To go forward you need to know where you have been. Your arrogance is to the detriment of science.

  266. Refresh — on 8th November, 2007 at 12:30 pm  

    Morgoth, can we end it there. I ran out of things to say to you a little while back.

    Just don’t cross me again.

  267. Jai — on 8th November, 2007 at 12:50 pm  

    Sonia,

    jai im sorry if you took my comments to mean that i was ‘disregarding’ other individual’s experiences and that racism has not been a significant barrier certainly for many people in the past, and disregarding their efforts/struggles, so apologies for how it came across.

    That’s alright, don’t worry; I wasn’t having a go at you in any aggressive or malicious way. In fact I mentioned in post #213 that my own perspective and insights (such as they are) have obviously been influenced by my own subjective experiences (this is common sense), which wouldn’t necessarily apply to everyone, ie.

    “No doubt my views have been influenced by my own experiences along with the experiences of people within my professional, family & social circles, but there it is.”

    And yes, I agree completely that paranoia and suspicion can frequently trigger the very hostility that one is concerned about — it becomes a vicious circle; however, my points were in relation to hostile and generally prejudiced behaviour exhibited towards Asians by the bigots regardless of how sincere, genuine, and well-meaning the Asian person concerned may actually be in terms of their thinking and conduct.

    It’s obviously a complex issue, with a lot of different dynamics and variables involved.

  268. Morgoth — on 8th November, 2007 at 1:12 pm  

    Just don’t cross me again.

    Or what?

    Now who is acting like a tit?

  269. Refresh — on 8th November, 2007 at 1:17 pm  

    Morgoth

    “Or what?”

    Have you no sense of humour?

  270. Jagdeep — on 8th November, 2007 at 1:23 pm  

    Morgoth, I’m going to call emergency services to send out an expeditionary party to find you — you seem to have disappeared up your own ass.

  271. Piggy — on 8th November, 2007 at 2:02 pm  

    “Well, he is saying that now on the basis of the media storm, but who knows what the original report actually contained.”

    Come on now. If the report had contained the words ‘downgrade’, ‘ban’ or ‘scrap’ (all used in the papers) why couldn’t the papers produce a quote from the report using those words, which presumably they must have a copy of. Why was it that the very best they could do was to produce a paragraph that you can only get ‘we want to scrap christmas’ from if you ignore the phrase ‘even if we wanted to’?

    Additionally, this kind of invalidates your point that

    “In other words I modified my opinion on the basis of a full and frank discussion, as well as the IPPR’s ‘clarification’.”

    Because saying ‘oh he says he doesn’t want to ban christmas now’ strongly suggests that despite the full and frank discussion and the clarification you still think that deep down the IPPR does in fact advocate banning Christmas.

  272. Rumbold — on 8th November, 2007 at 2:21 pm  

    Piggy:

    I shall state my position clearly, and make these my closing remarks:

    I overreacted to a certain extent based on the quotes available, though I still stand up for the nub of my argument; that such reports give ammunition to the BNP, and serve no real purpose. I await the full report with interest.

  273. Oli — on 12th November, 2007 at 1:18 pm  

    I really do hate the political correctness gone mad when it comes to things like the banning of christmas. I am more than aware that it is at no minorities bequest.

    The people who come up with these things, wether to relieve religious tensions or similar are obviously pillocks. If someone of any religion was that upset by christmas they would not have come to the UK where christmas is definately more of a national holiday than a religious one.

    Just to clarify my anger on thsi matter is purely directed at those t*ss pots in government who are so intent on promoting ‘religious tolerance’ that they forget what we really need to achieve is ‘religious indifference’.

    And on the indian call centre matter, I dont particularly like ringing indian call centres, many times I have been left frustrated due to lack of communication. I do not however blame this on teh people at the other end of the phone or the businesses who do this. While I would rate a company with british customer service much more highly (After all they are putting the money into a service based on their audience rather than cost) Britain can no longer support the high taxes, high inflation and high cost of living when there are much cheaper alternatives technically a stones throw away.

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