breaking news from the world of ideas

by Katherine Dee
Tuesday, 19
October 2021
Dark Web
15:00

Wokeness is giving cover to bullies

Children are using social justice rhetoric to pick on others

A recent letter to Slate’s advice column, ‘Care and Feeding’ came from a concerned mother who had found a spreadsheet on her 14-year-old son Jack’s computer.

It kept tabs on the “problematic behaviour” of his classmates. Transgressions included things like “has a mom who’s a cop,” and “used cis-normative language.” When pressed, her son denied involvement with the spreadsheet.

In the piece, the mother appears worried with Jack’s behaviour. She wrote, “Am I right to be concerned […]? I don’t know that it is the best way for him to engage with his peers and promote social justice.”  ...  Continue reading

by Ben Sixsmith
Tuesday, 19
October 2021
Spotted
10:30

Come to Poland, Jeremy Clarkson!

The Top Gear presenter is loved here more than anywhere else

Readers of Jeremy Clarkson’s most recent Sunday Times column might not be surprised to find him casually scorning Americans, France, Greece, Spain and Germany, but they might be surprised to read his kind words for Poland. The host of Top Gear, The Grand Tour and Clarkson’s Farm even suggests that it might make sense to emigrate from a troubled Britain to the land of pierogi and Pope John Paul II. “We’re sitting around now moaning about how all the lorry drivers and builders have gone home to Poland and won’t come back,” writes Clarkson:

So fine: if that’s what we want — well-made houses and regular bog roll deliveries — why don’t we all move to Warsaw as well?
- Jeremy Clarkson, Sunday Times

I do not think it is presumptuous of me to say that Mr Clarkson would be welcomed with open arms. He is generally popular here. In 2006 the Guardian reported that the Polish translation of The World According to Clarkson was “a… runaway literary success, sitting atop the bestseller list of the country’s biggest bookshop, Empik.” Top Gear Live broke attendance records in Warsaw in 2013. In 2015, I was in my local bar when one of the regulars, a giant man with whom I had almost got into a fight the previous week, stormed in and strode in my direction, fuming. I was preparing to die when I realised that his outraged invective was peppered with the word “Clarkson”. He was angry that the Top Gear host had been fired. We got on after that. ...  Continue reading

by Henry Hill
Tuesday, 19
October 2021
Debate
07:30

The UK is letting its army wither

A strong Union needs a strong Armed Forces

Saving the Union is supposed to be one of this Government’s top priorities. You certainly found no shortage of people saying so at the recent Conservative Party Conference.

But it is a feature of Boris Johnson’s rule that slogans don’t necessarily signal a coherent policy programme. Instead, words such as ‘levelling up’ and ‘defending the UK’ can mean just about anything.

No story illustrates this gulf between rhetoric and reality than last week’s reports that the Army, in line with the Government’s plans to cut troop numbers, intends to allow its footprint in Scotland to wither on the vine. ...  Continue reading

by Curt Mills
Monday, 18
October 2021
Reaction
19:05

Colin Powell: a would-be President ruined by Iraq

He was once described as 'a modern George Washington'

Imagine a world in which Bush-era Republicans retired at 60. 

Before the administration of George W. Bush, America’s most destructive president, Donald Rumsfeld would have been the youngest Secretary of Defense in history, White House Chief of Staff, Middle East envoy, a successful businessman and a would-be president.

Meanwhile, Colin Powell, a working class, Jamaican-American kid from Harlem turned war hero, would have seen out his time as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and national security advisor during a successful war (Iraq I). 

Dick Cheney… would still be Dick Cheney. But it was Powell, who died today of Covid complications, who stood out above the rest as one of the most highly regarded men in Washington. If the country’s first black secretary of state had hung it up in the late 1990’s, he would have retired an unabashed hero.  ...  Continue reading

by Amy Jones
Monday, 18
October 2021
Explainer
17:18

Why the Internet needs anons

The tragic murder of an MP should not be used to curtail civil liberties

The horrific murder of sitting MP Sir David Amess on Friday has united the country in shock. Much like Jo Cox’s murder 5 years ago, it has also raised fundamental questions about the tension between the public’s right to have access to democratically elected politicians, versus the right of MPs to be safe while working in an increasingly fractious political landscape.

Rather surprisingly though, Priti Patel focused on an entirely different concern when discussing the terrible events this weekend — that of online anonymity. According to the Home Secretary, social media users could face a ban on anonymous accounts as a means to prevent radicalisation on line. To most people, this would seem like a non-sequitur; while the investigation is still in its preliminary stages, reports suggest that Ali Harbi Ali was known to the authorities, and had already been referred to Prevent, a counterterrorism scheme, following concerns regarding his behaviour. ...  Continue reading

by Alexander Faludy
Monday, 18
October 2021
Dispatch
15:26

Viktor Orbán is about to face his biggest challenge yet

Hungary's opposition parties may have found a winner in Péter Márki-Zay

Last night’s opposition primary victory by Péter Márki-Zay (‘PMZ’ ) is perhaps the most surprising electoral result in the last ten years of Hungarian politics.

The independent mayor of the southern provincial town of Hódmezővásárhely (population 44,000) — a place whose name even Hungarians struggle to pronounce — came from nowhere to score a convincing second round victory over establishment rival Klára Dobrev. Now he will lead the combined forces of Hungary’s opposition in the general election against Viktor Orbán next Spring. 

His victory is all the more remarkable for the disparity in financial resources available to both candidates. PMZ’s campaign budget was a mere 3.7 million HUF (£8,700) compared to Ms. Dobrev’s 57 Million HUF (£133,000) — respectively the smallest and largest war chests of any candidate. ...  Continue reading

by Peter Franklin
Monday, 18
October 2021
Debate
13:19

The libertarian Right is scapegoating Net Zero

They are turning attention away from the causes of the energy crisis

Boris Johnson should watch his right flank. Rebellious Tories are on the warpath and they’re coming for the Government’s green agenda. 

Leading the charge is the formidable Steve Baker. A hardline Eurosceptic, the MP for Wycombe was the unofficial chief whip of the ‘awkward squad’ during the parliamentary battle over Brexit. Few people did more to block Theresa May’s deal — and ultimately force her resignation.

Baker has now embarked upon his next crusade. Earlier this year he joined the board of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) — an organisation that has campaigned against government climate change policies since 2009.  ...  Continue reading

by James Billot
Monday, 18
October 2021
Dispatch
10:25

Anger and resignation at Green Pass protests in Italy

Protestors at this weekend's demonstrations in Milan had little hope

Milan, Italy.

“Giu le mani dai bambini” (“Keep your hands off the children”)

“Educare alla libertà” (“Educate for freedom”)

“Studianti e operai nella lotta contro il green pass” (“Students and workers in the fight against the green pass”)

These were some of the slogans on display at this weekend’s anti-green pass protests in Milan, Italy. Protests were nationwide, but here at the Arco della Pace an unusual cross-section of students, blue collar workers and parents had marched here through the gates of the Castello Sforzesco to make one last stand against the green passes.  ...  Continue reading

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