Will definitely contain nuts

More and more, it seems, the nutters are taking over the asylum Internet. Take this dispiriting discussion on the Graun’s website. In the first few posts, the Germans are Nazis, the Russians are Soviets, and the Brown Peril (was Yellow) is poised to sweep across Europe, which has been rendered weak by its democratic system and minimum wage laws.

As you can probably tell, comments of this nature often come from gloating Americans, insecure in their imperial overstretch and determined to prove that only the US of A can save the world. Typical are comments such as this:

All I am saying is that I believe democratic institutions are not capapble [sic] of reacting quickly enough within Europe in response to the growing internal peril that is evident. I may be wrong but I think, as an American, that supporting the [BNP and other far-right parties] (providing these parties are not anti-semitic) may be the way to go.

By the growing internal peril, they mean people like Sajid Mahmood.

Perhaps the surest sign of right-wing US nuttery is that it’s OK for us to vote for racists and xenophobes, as long as they’re not anti-Semitic. In case you were wondering where that leap of logic came from, it’s because we Europeans are incorrigibly anti-Semitic, and therefore can’t be trusted not to start herding people into camps at the first opportunity. America – where levels of anti-Semitism in actual scientific surveys come out about the same – is beyond rebuke on such issues, and can therefore lecture us all it likes.

Kangaroo courts: OK or not OK?

You’d think there’d be only one answer to the question, “should we destroy the Geneva Conventions?”, but you’d be wrong. The US Congress is debating the issue at the moment, with prominent Republicans like John McCain standing in opposition to the Bush and leadership line. The intellectual calibre of the pro-torture lobby can be summed up by this comment from Peter King (R-NY), reported in the New York Times:

“I just think John McCain is wrong on this. If we capture bin Laden tomorrow and we have to hold his head under water to find out when the next attack is going to happen, we ought to be able to do it.”

There we go. It should be made legal to torture *anyone*, because in an extremely unlikely hypothetical scenario, we might want to torture one person (even though it wouldn’t produce reliable evidence). As a great English judge once said of torture, it is repugnant to reason, justice and humanity. This could apply equally well to this Administration’s human rights policy.

Kung Fu Monkey: “Wait, Aren’t You Scared?”

Kung Fu Monkey thinks about the terror threat, and wonders why we are so terrified, when that’s what the other side appear to want. Quote:

I am absolutely buffaloed by the people who insist I man up and take it in the teeth for the great Clash of Civilizations — “Come ON, people, this is the EPIC LAST WAR!! You just don’t have the stones to face that fact head-on!” — who at the whiff of an actual terror plot will, with no apparent sense of irony, transform and run around shrieking, eyes rolling and Hello Kitty panties flashing like Japanese schoolgirls who have just realized that the call is coming from inside the house!

To be a civil servant

I’ve just been reading Peter Hennessy and Richard Wilson’s highly engaging evidence to the Parliamentary Committee that investigated political memoirs a while back. The full exchanges can be read here, and are worth reading, but my favourite passage was surely this (from Hennessy, addressing Wilson):

You have always tried to think the best of people. That is why you have been a civil servant. You have had to pretend that the twerps that you have been dealing with were in fact pillars of the constitution and bring some insight. You cannot help yourself. You are still charitable about them. You do not realise what rats most of them are. You never have done!