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  • 20th October, 2006

    Liberal hypocrites?

    by Sunny at 9:46 am    

    Expat teacher has an interesting question on his blog:

    Liberals are often accused of being hypocrites. … I only bring this up because my mother-in-law said to me many years ago that as I grew up, I’d get more conservative. It was both the “right” thing and the “easier” thing to do. I scoffed, but now I’m reconsidering.

    I would argue until I’m blue in the face not to have any racial profiling at airport security, but I do breath a sigh of relief if no one named Mohammad gets on my plane.

    Or what about if you’re faced with two dark alleys: one full of white youths and another full of black youths. Which one would you take? If you feared for your safety by taking the latter one would that make you racist? I would disagree. There are a few points to be made.

    1) Such a response is rational. Whether through perception (by way of media moral panics) or actual statistics you may think that by having a Muslim on your train or airplane statistically increases the chance of you getting blown up. Similarly it is statistically more likely that a group of black youths are more likely to mug you than white youths. Or at least that is what the arrest rates tell you, assuming the police are consistent on that (which is a whole new debate).

    So it is rational to worry that the chances of you being mugged or blown up have increased. It would be perfectly rational for an Asian lady to avoid going down a road full of white skinheads. No?

    2) People usually play down potential deviance by those sharing their tribe, whether that be race, religion or nationality, while being a bit more suspicious of those that are different. This seems more psychological to me than social.

    Thus I’d argue the behaviour is not necessarily illiberal or racist, but rational. Racism would be when you think black people are genetically or socially inferior, or more likely to be criminals regardless of socio-economic factors. Thus is doesn’t stop you from being a liberal since a good liberal should be about arguing for equality of opportunity, the freedom to express thoughts and so on.

    There are other examples however that Expat gives like buying an SUV while wanting to care for an environment. Yes, I’d call that being hypocritical. What do readers think?

    Filed under: Culture,Race politics
    19th October, 2006

    Hindu Forum’s mask drops

    by Sunny at 10:57 am    

    The BBC Asian Network aired a recent documentary titled ‘Don’t call me Asian‘, on how some people don’t want to be called Asian. It should come as no surprise that the people interviewed who hated the term ‘British Asian’ were: the Hindu Forum of Britain, Hindu Youth and Sikh Federation. On using the term ‘British Asian’ I won’t expand on when it’s right and when it’s wrong; that deserves a proper explanation in itself.

    The doc was disappointing on a few fronts. It took the recent HF report at face value without questioning the methodology. It also gave too much time to these religious representatives. What about asking ordinary people on the street? What about asking those who are not obsessed about religion all the time?

    Most importantly, there was little exploration on their ulterior motives. Right at the end though, the mask slips. The guy from the Hindu Forum says:

    Now the Hindu community has voiced itself, and what we would welcome most is that government departments started to recognise this term ‘British Hindu’, come to grips with it, engage with the Hindu community.

    For example one criteria would be, when the government monitor its distributes of funding or whether it be the way it distributes benefits, all of these things should have the term British Hindu attached to it because it gives greater clarification of what kind of condition the British Hindu community is in.

    Unfortunately Asian Network shied away from exploring this key element further. It’s not like the Sikh Federation behaves any differently.

    Filed under: Hindu,Organisations,Sikh

    David Cameron and Rhymefest

    by Sunny at 12:51 am    

    Tory leader David Cameron is planning to have tea with US rapper Rhymefest to discuss issues around rap music and crime. Hmmmm. The discussion is framed badly from the start because it equates hip-hop with violence. But I have a few other problems with this traditional stance taken by politicians, partly because I’m a huge hip-hop fan of course.

    Continue Reading...
    18th October, 2006

    It’s the midweek at home with-the-bubonic-plague open thread!

    by Katy at 5:06 pm    

    I have been off work for two days with bubonic plague. It is definitely bubonic plague. There is no question about it. However, I have discovered that the worst thing about having bubonic plague is that everyone else thinks it’s just the flu. Or (even more irritatingly) a bad cold.

    But it is not. It is bubonic plague.

    It is like being in one of those disaster films where the central character is a charismatic but shy geeky sort of type who KNOWS that there is a disaster brewing, but no-one will listen to him until it is too late and he has to save the world alone using only a Diet Pepsi can and Jello (product placement you know) and aided only by the disgraced cop/ maverick scientist/ struggling freelance journalist/ homeless person/ dog who was written in to pep up the dialogue and deliver the witty one-liners for the trailers to cut to.

    Anyway, I was going to put a comment on one of the threads demanding sympathy, but there wasn’t really a thread that could accommodate that sort of comment, and then I noticed that some of the threads had gone off topic slightly.

    “Aha,” I said to myself, “the Picklers are crying out for a midweek open thread!”

    And so here it is. Normal rules apply (i.e. no politics or depressing serious stuff). I thank you.

    Filed under: Current affairs
    17th October, 2006

    One day we’ll all be brown…

    by Leon at 3:27 pm    

    Scary and fascinating in equal measure is this new study (speculation really given that anything could happen in the next 100 years let alone 1000) funded by the Bravo TV station. The ‘findings’ are certainly food for thought: one day we’ll all be brown!

    Continue Reading...

    Quotas on religious schools

    by Sunny at 2:53 pm    

    Our so-called “community leaders” are up in arms over the government’s shocking (!!) proposals that there should be a quote of people from other faiths too. Apparently:

    Imposing admissions quotas on voluntary aided faith schools will restrict minority students’ access to state education, discriminating against families from disadvantaged backgrounds and forcing those seeking a faith education into less regulated private schooling.

    We believe there are better ways of achieving intercommunal relations. Faith communities and others should be encouraged to continue to develop practical proposals to enhance social cohesion and cultural interaction in and between our schools.

    Were they smoking crack when they sent the letter to the Times today? According to them allowing religious inter-mixing in schools is not better for community cohesion so the government should think of other “practical proposals”…. because the current suggestion is not practical enough clearly.

    Lord Lucas is in favour of quotas, as is Osama Saeed. I wonder how long it’ll take for the latter to backtrack.
    [hat tip: Chairwoman]

    Filed under: Religion

    Tonight at 9pm…

    by Sunny at 2:00 pm    

    I’ll be making a guest appearance on the new internet-TV station 18 Doughty Street tonight at 9pm (programme is called Vox Politics), along with Newsnight editor Peter Barron and writer / journalist Dave Hill. It will be presented by Iain Dale. We will be discussing the nature of BBC debates, internet regulation and other news. More here.
    Watch by clicking here

    Filed under: Media

    Influential blogs

    by Sunny at 4:43 am    

    I hate blowing our own trumpet on here but it’s nice to do so sometimes. Pickled Politics has been named among the 50 most influential blogs in the UK by Edelman. We’re no. 28 actually, so probably in the top 20 of British political bloggers. A big thanks to all our readers! And Katy for pointing it out.

    Filed under: Uncategorized

    Religious debates

    by Sunny at 12:52 am    

    This is hilarious. It’s worth noting it features zealots on either side and the debate is concentrated into a 3-minute slot. Very much like BBC debates then. [hat tip: bananabrain]

    Filed under: Humour,Religion
    16th October, 2006

    Defend Jenny Tonge?

    by Sunny at 4:54 am    

    The Lib Dem peer Jenny Tonge has been quite rightly rebuked on Friday over comments she had earlier made that clearly went into the traditional ‘Jews control the world’ conspiracy theory territory, traditionally used by anti-semites.

    It turns out there is a campaign to remove her from the Lib Dem bench in the House of Lords. In response a Save Jenny campaign has been started. I believe Susanne is quite right to defend Tonge’s right to be a conspiracy theory nut.

    Over at Liberal Review Peter makes some good points too, not in her support. Jenny Tonge should apologise and her comments are unacceptable. Conspiracy nuts really annoy me though so I’m still somewhat undecided on this issue (re-thinking after the comment I made on LR). Should public servants be allowed such idiocy?

    15th October, 2006

    India Knight is angry

    by Sunny at 4:39 pm    

    The Sunday Times columnist India Knight rarely writes about brown issues but is very angry this weekend. “Muslims are the new Jews,” she says. As I said earlier, this media hyper-ventilation about the veil and any Muslim related news story is getting out of hand. My own ban against following this agenda stays.
    Update: Anarcho Akbar mentions more non-stories.

    Filed under: Current affairs

    Get the in-flight ‘Punjabi experience’

    by Sunny at 12:32 am    

    This is downright hilarious.

    Harjinder Singh Sidhu, who lives in the UK and is a British passport holder, bought Air Slovakia, a small privately owned airline based in the capital, Bratislava last week, it has emerged.

    His son, Riqbal ‘Rocky’ Singh, told the BBC News website that his father wants to transform the 60-employee Air Slovakia into a “Punjabi experience”.

    That means using crew, food and in-flight entertainment from the northern Indian state of Punjab and using regional headquarters based in the Punjabi city of Jalandhar.

    Would you put your life in the hands of a Punjabi airline with a Punjabi pilot? I didn’t think so either! The plane would never take off on time for a start. Being Punjabi I’d love to help a brotha and all that but this may be taking it too far. What could the in-flight Punjabi experience entail? Punjabi air-stewardesses… Bhangra parties 40,000 feet in the sky? Maybe it’s not such a bad idea after all.

    Filed under: Humour
    14th October, 2006

    It’s the race-against-time open weekend thread!

    by Katy at 8:07 pm    

    Welcome to the weekend thread!

    I have to post very quickly because my battery is running down, and the power lead for my laptop is dead so I can’t recharge the battery. In this situation some people would do the Lottery, or download porn check their email, or something like that, but not I: I have a weekend thread to post. And I am a dedicated Pickler and my word is my bond. I may be able to use another computer in the house but I am not sure, so let’s make hay whilst there’s still 20% of battery power left, i.e. approximately 5 minutes. I used to have a Dell, which had loads of battery power and worked perfectly for about four years, except that its specs obviously became obsolete quite quickly. Now I have a Sony Vaio, which I have had for a year and which is already starting to let me down.

    The Dell was more committed. But the Vaio is sexier. I can’t let it go even if it has done me wrong.

    Isn’t it always the way, ladies?

    Anyway, the open thread. Experienced Picklers know the rules. Newbies, welcome. But take note: this thread is for weekend plans, jokes, bizarre conversations, lemon curd recipes, dirty talk from Kismet Hardy and YouTube videos of an amusing or interesting nature. It is not for politics or serious stuff. Why? Because it’s about me, people - me, me, me, and what me wants on this thread is happiness, silliness and cheeriness. Keep your doom and gloom for the serious threads. I thank you.

    Filed under: Current affairs
    13th October, 2006

    The Politics of Representation (pt 2)

    by Sunny at 9:21 pm    

    The Asian tabloid Eastern Eye has an amusing interview this week with the self-appointed representative of British Sikhs - Jagtar Singh, spokesperson for the Sikh Federation. Amusing, because it lays bare some of the motivations that drive our so-called “community leaders”.

    The EE article starts by stating: “A British group has told Sikh youths to assert their identity even if it means turning to radicalism.” At this point alarms bells should be ringing already. Turn to what sort of radicalism exactly?

    [cross-posted on comment is free]

    Continue Reading...

    Nobel Peace Prize

    by Sunny at 1:55 pm    

    Bangladesh’s Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank have been awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

    Mr Yunus, an economist, founded the bank, which is one of the pioneers of micro-credit lending schemes for the poor in Bangladesh.

    The bank is renowned for lending money to the least well-off, especially women, so that they can launch their own businesses. [BBC News]

    Definitely well deserved. The Grameen bank is well known all over the world for helping women in Bangladesh empower themselves, pull themselves out of poverty and provide them with self-respect. I’m more surprised he did not win earlier.
    [hat tip: Mirax and Shoque in the comments]

    Filed under: Bangladesh,South Asia

    Invasion unfit for purpose?

    by Kulvinder at 12:07 am    

    The standard way for anyone under New Labour to take a new position is to completely seperate themselves from the past; am I the only one who found some similarity between Richard Dannatt’s…interesting outburst and John Reid?

    Tony Blair probably isn’t the first PM to curse the fact the army swears allegiance to the Queen; it makes them that bit more vocal than in America. Whilst I commend Sir Dannatt for stating the obvious - we aren’t making progress in Iraq, he doesn’t present any alternative ideas to helping the Iraqis. The best that seems to be on offer is to cut and run; at worst if it all goes wrong the americans will still be present - it’ll be their problem, and at best if it does increase stability well it was our good idea. That’s from the British point of view. The reasoning is little more than finding the easiest way to save face.

    I’m uncomfortable with the thought that we can invade another country with the retrospective goal of improving the lives of its citizens, but leave when it’s most convenient for us whilst washing our hands of the entire mess. The Daily Mail and the rest of the media may call for the withdrawl of British forces, but they wouldn’t be willing to accept any refugees or asylum seekers that came from Iraq. We accept the authority and the power a permanent seat on the UN Security Council brings but we want none of the responsibility. We pre-emptively invade a distant nation on the basis it presents a threat to us, subsequently justify our actions as being the Iraqis, but we then exit when it suits us.

    I did not agree with the war in iraq, and I agree things aren’t going well but I refuse to accept that we can absolve ourselves of any responsibility we owe the iraqis. If we do withdraw from Iraq it cannot be on the basis that the situation in Iraq is no longer our concern. How can we possibly justify to history the fact we travelled thousands of miles to act against another nation but automatically refused assistance to those who fled that same area simply because they did not seek assistance in the first border they crossed? We initiated the crisis in Iraq we cannot in good conscience leave the humanitarian implications of that to the nations surrounding iraq.

    Saying we should leave is easy; saying we have a moral duty even if we do leave is far harder.

    12th October, 2006

    Treating everyone equally

    by Sunny at 4:24 pm    

    In an interview with Australia’s ABC, British academic and Spiked-online writer Munira Mirza lays out how I feel on the issue of “multiculturalism”.

    I’m advocating a political climate where people can have their private differences freely, that they are able to practice their religion, speak their chosen language, but that we also have a public space, where people are expected to transcend those differences, where people are expected to engage not just with people in their tribe, or their community, but with the broader society.

    And I think that that doesn’t mean that individual cultures are destroyed, or damaged. I think that you can have many different cultures; you can have many immigrants from different countries coming to live in one place.

    But at the same time there needs to be something that binds us together. There needs to be some focus for solidarity, which is more than just culture.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Culture,Race politics

    Christian and Jewish intolerance

    by Al-Hack at 9:18 am    

    Where is the freedom of speech outrage? Where are the legions of writers coming forward to defend the right of writers to say what they want?

    The British-based author and former publisher Carmen Callil has become embroiled in a growing dispute over the limits of freedom of speech in America after a party celebrating her new book on Vichy France was cancelled because of the opinion she expresses about the modern state of Israel.

    The row over Callil’s book is the latest element in a dispute about restrictions on freedom of speech in the US in relation to comments on Israel. [Hat tip MWW]

    In India the Christians look more confident after Da Vinci Code.

    US rock act Slayer’s latest album has been withdrawn from sale in India after religious groups complained about its cover depicting a mutilated Christ.

    The band’s Indian label, EMI Music, recalled stocks of Christ Illusion and had them destroyed. Joseph Dias, of Mumbai’s Catholic Secular Forum, said the album was “offensive and in very bad taste”.

    BBC News. I demand a global boycott!

    11th October, 2006

    Iraqi Dead May Total 600,000

    by Leon at 1:27 pm    

    A team of American and Iraqi public health researchers has estimated that 600,000 civilians have died in violence across Iraq since the 2003 American invasion, the highest estimate ever for the toll of the war here.

    The figure breaks down to about 15,000 violent deaths a month, a number that is quadruple the one for July given by Iraqi government hospitals and the morgue in Baghdad and published last month in a United Nations report in Iraq. That month was the highest for Iraqi civilian deaths since the American invasion.

    But it is an estimate and not a precise count, and researchers acknowledged a margin of error that ranged from 426,369 to 793,663 deaths.
    The mortality rate before the American invasion was about 5.5 people per 1,000 per year, the study found. That rate rose to 19.8 deaths per 1,000 people in the year ending in June. [Via The New York Times]

    Is there anything new that can be said about the sheer tragedy that is Iraq; its invasion, occupation and [what looks like a] civil war? The death toll rockets skyward and still there’s no sign of sanity from our leaders regarding the problems they’ve caused.

    (Hat Tip: Lenin’s Tomb)

    More on the BNP chemicals case

    by Sunny at 3:30 am    

    There seems to be more than meets the eye to the story of two men arrested last week for possessing chemicals, rocket launchers and more.

    Continue Reading...

    Kiran Desai wins Booker

    by Sunny at 2:03 am    

    kiranKiran Desai, daughter of the famous author Anita Desai, has won the Man Booker prize. According to the Beeb, Desai lived in India until the age of 15, then moved to England to continue her education and now lives in the US. She has become the youngest woman ever, at 35, to win the award. That honour was previously held by the lovable Arundhati Roy.

    Respeckk! Here is a profile on Kiran, and here’s a review of the book. On a related note, I’m currently reading Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City and it’s excellent. What are you folks reading? And has anyone read KD’s book?

    Update: Amitava Kumar pitches in.

    Filed under: Culture
    10th October, 2006

    18 Doughty Street

    by Sunny at 9:42 am    

    In case you don’t know already, prominent Conservative party bloggers including Iain Dale and Tim Montgomery’s new project 18 Doughty Street launches today. It will be Britain’s first internet-only political TV channel, broadcasting four hours a day. More on BBC magazine. In addition…

    As such, the channel is recruiting people to film their own three-minute reports - which will then be used to trigger debates. As an example, he says someone went to a petrol station to record conversations with drivers about taxation.

    I am one of the “citizen journalists” recruited by these political folk to make short films on a fairly regular basis. Ermm… any suggestions? I have a video camera, have the editing software, just need some victims. *evil laugh*

    Oh, and also worth reading this article by Ali Miraj.

    Filed under: Party politics

    Seeing sense on Iraq

    by Al-Hack at 12:16 am    

    Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International magazine, has had enough of the train-wreck that is Iraq and urges Bush to pull out.

    It is time to call an end to the tests, the six-month trials, the waiting and watching, and to recognize that the Iraqi government has failed. It is also time to face the terrible reality that America’s mission in Iraq has substantially failed.

    CBS News’s Lara Logan has filed astonishing reports on the Health Ministry, which is run by supporters of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. According to Logan, hospitals in Baghdad and Karbala are systematically killing Sunni patients and then dumping their bodies in mass graves.

    President Bush says that if America leaves Iraq now, the violence will get worse, and terrorists could take control. He’s right. But that will be true whenever we leave. “Staying the course” only delays that day of reckoning. To be fair, however, Bush has now defined the only realistic goal left for America’s mission in Iraq: not achieving success but limiting failure.

    The penny took a while to drop but it’s clear even to moderate centre-rights (incl Andrew Sullivan) that the situation is hopeless. Read the article. See the figures. There is no other viable strategy.

    9th October, 2006

    Why Cameron may be good for progressives

    by Shariq at 12:01 am    

    Within the next two elections Labour will lose power. Barring a Libdem miracle, a Conservative will become Prime Minister. Given this, progressives may well be better off with David Cameron winning the next election.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Party politics
    7th October, 2006

    Media stupidity

    by Sunny at 8:38 pm    

    I share Asim Siddiqui’s pessimism - it has been a depressing week. We have had so many non-stories: the policeman who wished to be excused from guarding the Israel embassy because of potential retaliation if someone pictured him doing so; the so called “race riots” when it was a case of gang violence and arson on a Muslim-owned dairy; Jack Straw’s comments (right debate, wrong time) etc. But not a peep from Associated Newspapers if BNP members are found with huge amounts of chemical material.

    This tendency to blow any story out of all proportion when a Muslim is involved is nothing less than demonisation. That is how I see it. I would rather they write about the real religious extremists. All this week almost everyone (incl non-Muslims) I’ve had a political conversation with concurred with me. It makes our job, as citizens who want to deal with religious extremists, all the more harder because ordinary people are getting castigated.

    Anyway, I’ve had enough of it. I’m henceforth planning to personally avoid following the media agenda and stick to other debates for the time being. It’s all got too silly for me.

    Filed under: Uncategorized
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