Monday, 23 April 2018

AnzacDay, Lest We Forget.

Lest We Forget:

I loved Anzac Day when I was small,
the crowds,  the bands,  the bugle call.
My Dad was there and he followed the band,
and I walked beside him and held his hand.

I marched beside him with love and pride,
and I wondered why my mother cried.
I see the march now in a small-town street,
older women and men on weary feet,
mourning the comrades who fought and died,
and I understand now why my mother cried.


Poem by Alison McRae, 
whose father was in WW1, and whose husband was in WW2.


Anzac Day, 2018, is under attack as Australia Day has been.  It is too important to be stolen from the Australian people by those who have an agenda that has nothing to do with Australian values.

Anzac Day is in honour of all of  those who fought and died for Australia.  Lest we forget. 

Some died during the war, some lived to very old.
Probably none are still alive now.
Lest we forget.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Australia Day, 26th January.

Australia Day is important and it is important that we celebrate it on the 26th of January, the day of most significance in the founding of a nation.  
But that is being disputed, with the excuse that it is ‘divisive.’ We all know that there are people now who make a career out of being constantly offended. There has been too much apologising to them, too many attempts at appeasement, but that has only encouraged more and more demands, and more and more unreasonable demands. I think the ‘constantly-offended’ syndrome comes from the desire to have power over others.  It is odd that one can claim victimhood in order to have power, but that is the core of political correctness. At its core, political correctness is bullying.

A very brief history.
In 1786, it was decided to send a fleet to colonise the new territory that Captain Cook had explored.  The fleet set out from England in 1887. It consisted of two naval vessels, six transports and three store ships. The cargo was mostly unwanted convicts.

Governor Phillip had strict instructions in regard to the natives of the new land:
"You are to endeavour by every possible means to open an intercourse with the natives, and to conciliate their affections, enjoining all our subjects to live in amity and kindness with them. And if any of our subjects shall wantonly destroy them, or give them any unnecessary interruption in the exercise of their several occupations, it is our will and pleasure that you do cause such offenders to be brought to punishment."

On first landing – was there a mass slaughter and the beginning of genocide as some have been claiming?  Was it in any way, an ‘invasion?’  Hardly.

Friday, 18th January, 1788.  Several officers and men went ashore to explore, especially looking for fresh water. They failed then, but a little later, they saw a group of natives, put the boats ashore again, and here I quote from the diaries of Lieutenant King.
'They immediately got up and called to us in a menacing tone and at the same time brandishing their spears or lances. However, the Governor showed them some beads and ordered a man to fasten them to the stem of the canoe. We then made signs that we wanted water, when they pointed round the point on which they stood and invited us to land there; on landing, they directed us by pointing to a very fine stream of fresh water. Governor Phillip then advanced toward them alone and unarmed, on which one of them advanced towards him but would not come near enough to receive the beads which the Governor held out for him, but seemed very desirous of having them and made signs for them to be laid upon the ground, which was done. He (the Native) came on with fear and trembling and took them up, and by degrees came so near as to receive looking glasses, etc, and seemed quite astonished at the figure we cut in being clothed. I think it is very easy to conceive the ridiculous figure we must appear to these poor creatures, who were perfectly naked. We soon after took leave of them and returned on board.'

There were more contacts between the new arrivals and the natives, marked by amity and mutual curiosity. Note: amity and mutual curiosity.
Over the next few days,  the remainder of the fleet arrived.
Monday, 21st January, one called Bowes describes the natives.
 'They were all perfectly naked, rather slender made, of a dark black colour, their hair not woolly, but short and curly. Everyone had the tooth next the foretooth in the upper jaw knocked out and many of them had a piece of stick about the size of a tobacco pipe, and 6 or 8 inches in length, run through the septum of the nostrils, to which, from its great similitude, we ludicrously gave the name of a sprit sail yard. They all cut their backs bodies and arm which heal up in large ridges and scars. They live in miserable wigwams near the water, which are nothing more than 2 or 3 pieces of the bark of a tree set up sideways against a ridge pole fastened to 2 upright stick at each end. They are about 2 or 3 feet high and few amongst them are to be found which are weather proof.'

Saturday, 26th January, 1788

By the 26th January, all of the ships had arrived at Sydney Cove, which was deemed the best place for a new colony. And that day was when a flagstaff was erected, the Union Jack raised,  and possession was taken in the name of the king.
Work parties of convicts did various jobs over the next few days, more convicts were allowed ashore, and finally, Wednesday, 6th February, the women convicts were disembarked.  
These were not good and decent citizens, these convicts. Some say that the Marines and sailors were little better.  In any case, when the women were off-loaded, according to one account (Bowes) : 'The men got to them very soon after they landed, and it is beyond my abilities to describe the scene of debauchery and riot that ensued during the night.' And there was a storm, the sort of storm that Sydney very well knows how to put on. 'the most violent storm of thunder lightning and rain I ever saw. The lightning was incessant during the whole night and I never heard it rain faster.' 
A scene of debauchery, women raped. Not Aboriginal women, but the women convicts. That was the 6th February. That would not be a suitable day to celebrate.

And yet, from these beginnings, a new country began. The land had never been cultivated, its unwilling pioneers were not hand-picked farmers and tradesmen, but instead, those men and women who'd been convicted of a crime not serious enough for execution, but serious enough for the punishment of transportation.
And yet we made it.  We have so much to be proud of. Australia now is one of those countries that people will risk their lives to get to. Australia is a good country to live in.
Aboriginals?  They say it was the beginning of a genocide. But that is nonsense. Those early weeks and months were marked by amity between the natives and the new immigrants, the whites. There were difficult times for the newcomers - they nearly starved to begin with;  they were trying to farm on poor land and the climate was often severe and has always been erratic. A supply ship failed to arrive, rations were cut, and then more convicts arrived, the second fleet. That was 1890.
But the colony did not die. It survived, and gradually began to manage better and better, though it was not until gold was discovered in 1850 that it can really be said to have thrived.

The Aboriginals did not do so well. From April, 1789, an epidemic of Small Pox decimated their numbers, with casualties guessed at as around 70% in those areas close to the NSW colony, and there were reports that it spread a lot further.  Accurate figures would have been impossible to get, so we still know little of just how far it spread and how badly the majority of the Aboriginal population was affected. Some have alleged that it was deliberately introduced, but the chance of that having happening is infinitesimal. For a start, there was no reason to attack the natives. There was no conflict at that time.  And the sophistication of bacteriological warfare in 1778?  Hardly.
Probably, one of the whites was a carrier, and that man came into too close contact with a native, possibly a woman, since women’s favours were bartered from very early.  (King’s diary, 20th January, natives indicated the women ‘and made us understand their persons were at our service.) The natives’ casualness when offering women for use was probably partly because the relationship between sex and babies was not understood.
Small Pox - I remember a diary entry of the time. The writer speaks of finding a small group of Aboriginals in a ‘piteous condition,’ wanting to help, but they ran from him.
So yes, Aboriginals suffered, and some of that suffering was a direct consequence of the arrival of Europeans. The same has happened in other places, when a native population comes into contact with newcomers bringing new diseases.
But remember that our Australian Aboriginals lived then on the edge of survival. Our land is subject to very severe droughts. Many would have starved in those times. Those who could not keep up with the tribe when they moved on were left to fend for themselves. There would have been no very old people. A diary entry (Tench?) speaks of a baby, whose mother had died, tossed, still alive, into the grave along with its dead mother. No-one had been able or willing to raise it.
The point is that Aboriginals never lived in the sort of idyll that some people seem to imagine. Aboriginals, along with the rest of us, have a great deal to celebrate. 
What about all the massacres they say happened?  What about the 'genocide?'I will not say there were no murders, no massacres. There was a massacre at Myall Creek, for instance. In 1838, between 20 or 30 Aboriginals were killed and their bodies burnt. A couple of girls were saved for use by the men. 
But it was reported to the police, nearly all of the culprits arrested, tried, found guilty and hanged.  If the killing of Aboriginals was routine and sanctioned, as is stated as politically correct ‘fact’ these days, there would have been no arrests, no trials and no hangings. White farmers never made it a weekend sport to kill blacks. That is one of those nonsensical allegations that have become fashionable among certain segments of the population.
These allegations have led to a push to change the date. It is ‘invasion day,’ they say. And that day marked an invasion complete with hundreds of thousands of massacred Aboriginals, a ‘genocide,’ in fact,  and rapes of women.
But it did not happen. Not that day, not ever. There was never a genocide, though obviously there were incidents, as there were incidents of settlers being killed and white children stolen. There was conflict.
But look what we have built together. We do have something to celebrate.  Aboriginals no longer have a mere humpy to call home, they have clothing, reliable food and shelter. There are no longer convicts in chains. 
And the best date to celebrate, the date of the most significance, is January 26th, when it really began. January 26th, when the flag was raised.  January 26th was the birth of a nation. This is Australia Day.  It was celebrated first as Foundation Day or First Landing Day or Anniversary Day, and then in 1818, Governor Macquarie named it a public holiday. In the 1930s, it was changed to the nearest Monday in order to make a ‘long weekend,’ but in 1994, it was decided that the date was too significant to be sacrificed just for a long weekend, and it was celebrated again on January 26th, whatever the day of the week.

And if the PC mob manage to get it changed, then we should ignore that change. It does not matter if the official date is changed; we celebrate on our day. Because custom and culture come from the people; they are not dictated top down.

Sydney Cove, 1788.  In the words of Australia's first settlers: the true story of a nation's birth.
Compiled by John Cobley, published 1962.  Note:  published 1962, before any of us had heard of political correctness, and before facts were regarded as problematical if they did not follow the preferred narrative.

 So how will we celebrate on January 26th?  Well, the barbeque has become traditional.

The traditional sausage sizzle

At the pub. 

Or maybe a gathering at the pub?

At the beach

At the  beach?

Or in sheer relaxation?

We celebrate on the 26th January.  The politically correct constantly-offended minority have a habit of success right now.  But so what if they succeed in going against what most of us want?

We ignore them.  The official date can be whatever they say,  but there is nothing, NOT A THING! to stop us celebrating on the day that we choose - Australia Day, January 26th.

This web-page belongs to M. A. McRae, author.


Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Art as Commodity: Modernism and its claims to exclusivity

'a kind of conspiracy of the few against the many.'

The blog post published here is an old academic essay 

slightly contaminated with actual opinions.


He who pays the piper calls the tune, and one would expect that to apply to art as much as to any other commodity.  But in the past 80 years or so, there has been an all pervasive emphasis on just one style - modernism. Most people find modern art either incomprehensible, regard it as not worth the effort of trying to comprehend, or suspect there is nothing to comprehend in the first place - just some artist's inflated idea of the importance of his own ideas. Plus, of course, most of it is boringly non aesthetic.

But our taxpayer funded public galleries put on show after show of abstract art, and keep their permanent collections, often of beautiful and valuable works, stored away and half forgotten. Our educational institutions teach students that modern art is the only art worthy of consideration, and artists following the latest trends, no matter how ridiculous, can hope for government grants that others can only envy.

But it is us, the taxpayers, who pay for all of this, and if most of us prefer aesthetic, representational art, then most of our money should be spent on aesthetic, representational art. Art is a commodity, and if we, the taxpayers, pay for it, then we, the taxpayers, should get what we want.

The history of art, and its commodity value.

Historically, the making of images was for practical purposes - whether to aid the hunt, design a garden landscape, or to instruct the illiterate in the doctrine of religion. Artists were craftsmen with the statues of craftsmen.

Religious paintings were important.

With the Reformation, beginning around 1517, artists lost an important source of work, as all the Protestant churches, to a greater or lesser degree, opposed the use of images.  No new religious images were commissioned by the Protestant churches, and old images were destroyed.

However, there was still work for artists, as portraits were always in demand, and well executed paintings of historical or mythological events could always attract buyers, even if other forms of art enjoyed little prestige.

In the 19th Century, there came another blow for artists, with the use of the camera.  Potential customers could now afford a photograph of their family, instead of paying much more for a painted portrait.

The best and most popular artists may still have been able to make a living from their skills, but many would have had to resort to different employment.

The Rise of Modern Art

But some artists have never been dependent on sales to pursue their work, and could afford to follow their own inclinations.  They could experiment.

At the beginning of the 20th Century,  from this experimentation by a few, commercially unsuccessful artists, rose an art style that now claims to be the only worthwhile art style. Modern art began as essentially a reductionist art, reducing elements to more simple forms, and finally abandoning representation of the motif altogether. One early form of  modern art, even announced its intention to be anti-art.

                           The Da-Da slogan: 

Down with art
Down with
bourgeois intellectualism
Art is dead
Long live
the machine art
of Tatlin.
is the 
voluntary destruction
of the 
bourgeois world of ideas. 
                                                                                               (Fuller 1986)

'A spectacularly elite art.'    (Burn, 1991, P160)

It is ironic that it was the 'bourgeois world of ideas' that has adopted modern art as its own. Modern art is no longer revolutionary; it is the orthodoxy.

Part of the lure of modern art for its devotees, is that feeling of self-satisfaction that one achieves by feeling oneself to be part of an elite. According to Ian Burn, 'the initial drive in contemporary art was more to remove art from the masses, and create an elite, who were the only ones who could appreciate the new art.'

An example is the reaction to Mark Rothko's paintings that are just large canvases of deep purple. They are 'deeply moving' to those who can appreciate them - so I have been told.

An acquaintance told me she was 'moved to tears.'

And how many times have the admirers of modern art been compared to those who could 'see'  the Emperor's new clothes? 

Many ordinary people obligingly feel ignorant when faced with modern art: 'I just don't understand it,' they may say humbly. Like the elaborately artificial etiquette of class culture, this, of course, is the idea.

Oliver Bennet refers to an argument against captions explaining artworks as some people wishing to maintain 'the divide between the culturati and the rabble.'  (Bennett, 2001)

Art students are encouraged to feel contempt for that same 'rabble.'

A year 11 art book, as taught in an Australian high school, year 2001.

Q. "Why is 'I don't know anything about art but I know what I like,' not a valid judgement?"
A. "Because it is only an aesthetic judgement and the person  'doesn't know anything about art.'

Of course, the traditional and timelessly best way to judge art, is to make an aesthetic judgement.

Claims to be the only valid art.

Since the 2nd World War, the history of art began to be thought of, and taught, as a linear history of the development of modern art.  (Burn, 1991, Smith, 1988)

'Artistic diversity during the initial four decades of the century was rewritten as a singular and heroic struggle of modernism against reactionary forces whose art warranted little consideration.' (Burn, 1991, P170)

Bernard Smith was one artist who attempted to reassert the 'plurality, diversity and vitality of art,' with the 'Antipodean Intervention' in the early 1960s, and later write optimistically, of modern art and its claims, 'it is unlikely that the attempt to devour all others with the help of History will be tried a second time.' (Smith, 1988, P193)

He was wrong. In 2001, a Year 11 High School Art book, does not admit that any other form of art even exists, asserting that representational art died with the camera, and that art has rejected realism in favour of  'interpretation and expression.'

An artist's loss of choice

Giles Auty said that "Modernism lost its moral authority when it began telling artists how to think." (Auty, April, 2011)  The modern artist is now the conformist, doing what he is told.

Artist Ian Burn wrote: 'To create a successful (ie privileged) art, I must now affirm and perpetuate at least one of the dominant styles. (Burn 1991, P159)

Although Ian Burn did successfully work in the field of modern art, he refers to his lack of choice.

  "By the mid 1960s, the sanctioned styles of avant-gardism were Pop Art, Colour Field or Hard Edge painting (or post-painterly abstraction) and Minimal Art. For the ambitiously avant-garde younger artist, these formed the horizon of options."
(Burn 1991, P104)   

 Art Schools, subsidised by the taxpayer

Tertiary institutions continue the fiction that modern art is the only valid art, by putting pressure on art students to adopt it, to the exclusion of other art styles, and also to feel contempt for those who enjoy more traditional, representational, and more aesthetic styles. As an art teacher told me, a student doing a realistic landscape, no matter how good, 'would be failed, or laughed out of the institution.'

So art students who cannot accept the reality of these expectations leave the institutions, art teachers who do not teach the expected ethos do not get employed, and the whole self-perpetuating cycle continues.

Art schools (in Australia)  are almost all taxpayer subidised. Art education is the chief culprit in the culture that denies fair treatment for all art and for all artists.

Public Art Galleries, funded by the taxpayer.

Tate Gallery, London

Public art galleries now subscribe to modern art, to the virtual exclusion of all other forms of art.  It is the "official culture of art museums, art academia and art magazines." They "exclude, segregate, disenfranchise, marginalise, affiliate, homogenise."
(Burn, 1991)

The Tate says of the exhibition shown above  - ''Investigate the processes use to make artworks, and how our responses are integral to the piece." 
The statement de-emphasises the product in favour of placing the importance on what the artist is thinking and 'the process.'

This is usual.  These days, beside every work, you see a blurb by the artist on its significance.  I very well remember an exhibition of dirty fabrics and mats, each complete with a wordy and meaningless explanation. Why that was thought worthy of exhibition, I have no idea.

At the same time as this nonsense is going on, beautiful and valuable permanent collections owned by art galleries are neglected, forgotten, seldom seen. Many art lovers no longer bother going to the gallery, only to see yet another display of meaningless non-images.

Taxpayer funded art grants

Modern art is not a very saleable commodity, as most people simply do not like it. Artists of this genre are seldom self-supporting. Many artists survive on government grants, but these grants are only given to those artists approved by the art establishment, presumably having gone to the right art schools, knowing the right people, and showing the right kind of art.  Traditional artists need not apply. According to Bernard Smith, those with the power to award grants, and who subscribe to elitist theories, perpetuate their own values,  "in a kind of conspiracy of the few against the many."

Not the only art.

The art establishment of most the 20th century and of the early years of the 21st century, is an aberration. A small minority has had their way for far too long. Some artists and critics are speaking out more and more. Soon lay-people will not longer see an apparently united front in favour of modern art to the exclusion of other equally valid styles of art. David Hockney, well known artist,  says "I do want to make a picture that has meaning for a lot of people. I think the idea of making pictures for twenty-five people in the art world is crazy and ridiculous. It should be stopped; in some way, it should be pointed out that it can't go on." (Hockney as quoted in Grishin, 2000)

J. S. MacDonald, art critic and art curator has said that modern art was 'filth' and 'the products of degenerates and perverts.' (Watson, 1989)

Peter Fuller talks about late modernism as 'profoundly regressive and potentially deeply destructive,'and 'anti-aesthetic vandalism,' (Fuller, 1986)  whereas Bernard Smith, more moderately, talks about its 'bland and pretentious mysteries.' (Smith, 1988)

And finally, Peter Fuller points out that 'most good art, this century, has been produced against the grain of modernism.'  (Fuller 1986, P50)

Would these critics be more moderate if modernism was only one of many equally valid styles of art?  Possibly not.  But when one thinks of the revolting extremes to which modern art has now been pushed, then maybe these critics and many more, need to be much more outspoken.

 This image of a slaughtered cow is a creation by one of the 'revolting extreme' artists, Damien Hirst.

Some time ago, I had to make a decision whether to do an extra year to convert a diploma in fine arts to a degree.  But I would have had to pretend to admire monstrosities like this.  I chose not to continue.

Speaking up for the majority

'Culture seldom operates through the trickle-down effect, but actually through the reverse. It is folk art, objects and symbols made by unnamed authors due to necessity, that is refined, cultivated, transformed, that is later marketed as what is conventionally recognised as 'fine art.' (Mater, 2000)

There are thousands of artists all over the country, all over the world, making representational, beautiful paintings, In Art exhibitions all over the country, one can see outstanding talent. Commercial art galleries do a thriving business in selling beautful artworks. This type of art enjoys no public patronage, and is fact, is more likely to be scorned than admired by the art 'elite.'  Robert Hughes, art critic, referred to followers of the genre of landscape painting as 'zombie acolytes.' (Burn 1991, P39)  Zombies, of course, do not think for themselves, so when modernism is the orthodoxy, who are the zombies?

The most popular form of art is still representational art - landscapes, streetscapes, people. The artist whose work is featured below, makes many beautiful images.  Ray Jones, and artists like him, are the real artists,  not those whose images make millions for investment, while people studiously avoid actually looking at them!  

All the same, the camera has had an effect,  and ultra-realism is seldom seen.  Modernist thinking has had an effect.  For instance, the painting below exaggerates the curves of hills, and has taken on somewhat of an abstract quality.  It is not a traditional landscape. 


Aesthetic and representational art is thriving business, and is the real commercial reality of art.  The commerce of art includes commercial galleries, art supply shops, private lessons, publications about art, even painting holidays, as well as sales of paintings.  Some modern art may be sold for investment purposes for enormous sums, but the great majority of trade in art as a commodity, is of beautiful and traditional art. The type of art that the vast majority of people take pleasure in viewing, and that is displayed on lounge-room walls all over the country, is representational art.  This is the real art of the people. This is what the vast majority of people want and enjoy.

But if this is what the vast majority of people want and enjoy, then why does the taxpayer unwillingly sponsor only one type of art, and that is the type of art which few people want and enjoy?

As for modern art, some has veered so far into the absurd that the only logical reaction is to laugh. 



Aston, Margaret, ed. The Panorama of the Renaissance. Thames & Hudson, 1996
Auty, Giles, article re Lucien Freud's painting - 'After Cezanne,' Weekend Australian May, 2001.
Bennett, Oliver, "Yes, but what does it mean?' Article in 'Good Weeend,' Sunday telegraph, May 5th, 2001.
Burn, Ian, Dialogue, writings in art history, 1991
Fuller, Peter. The Australian Scapegoat, Towards an Antipodean Aesthetic,  1986, University of Western Australia Press.
Gombrich, E.H. The Story of Art. Phaidon Press, London. 1955
Grishin, Sasha, "David Hockney's A Bigger Grand Canyon." Article in 'Art and Australia,' vol 37, No. 3. yr. 2000. 
Mater, John.  'AWAS, Recent art from Indonesia,' article in magazine 'Art Monthly,';  March, 2000, No. 127.
Smith, Bernard, The Death of the Artists as Hero, 1988, Oxford University Press, Melbourne. 
Watson, Michael, "James Stewart MacDonald, Sir Sydney Cockerell and the Felton Recommendations,"  article in 'Art and Australia,' Vol 27, No. 2, 1989. 

The books mentioned above can be found in online book stores such as The Book Depository,
Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Amazon. 

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Milo Yiannopoulos, Pamela Geller, free speech campaigners

Free speech is vitally important. It is enshrined in the American Constitution, and it is assumed as a right in all other civilised countries, whether it is part of their constitution or their Bill of Rights, or merely by custom over generations.

And yet, free speech is threatened. If it was not threatened, no-one would riot to close down events that didn't suit their view of the world, social media platforms would stick to deleting pornography and incitement to violence  rather than targeting unfashionable opinion. Facts would not be categorised as 'hate speech.'

 Milo Yiannopoulos is a flamboyant gay man, witty, entertaining, and sometimes outrageous, though in my opinion, not nearly as outrageous as is commonly claimed.  Milo's talks have provoked riots, the mere mention of his name can have some fuming because of  his 'hateful' opinions. And they will condone violence against him and against his supporters. 

He wrote a book, but his prospective publisher was worried about repercussions. They cancelled his contract.

Rioting because Milo Yiannopoulos was to speak.

He published anyway. Most of what Milo Yiannopoulos has to say is serious, rational, and pure good sense - that it is vital to overturn the extreme Leftist culture that now reigns in politics, entertainment and in education.

There were a few things I didn't like about his book - the use of some pretty vile profanity, for instance, and the assertion that 'ugly' should be cured with surgery.  But I remember that that particular one was in relation to the very loud 'feminists' he comes in contact with - the sort of 'feminism' that has nothing to do with the perfectly sensible variety we knew in the 60s and 70s. And I have seen on social media some gross specimens! Not that they were physically ugly so much - few of us are beautiful - but these ones seemed to want to display themselves as physically ugly as they could possibly manage, and in as few clothes as possible. So I can forgive him for that one - maybe.

Milo loves to be flashy. 

But then he'd say something that would make me break out in laughter. For instance, he related an incident when he was dressed up as a clown,  'I didn't mind about the clown costume because I still looked sexy as fuck.'

Milo is vain and he is funny. He is incredibly entertaining, but that is only one aspect. He is also very well read, and highly intelligent. I have seen him tie a Muslim activist into knots, because it so quickly became clear that he knew the religion of Islam, while the declared Muslim (Western, female) had very little idea.

For sheer entertainment, I would give this book 5 stars (out of 5) 

So why do they try and silence Milo?  He says: 'It isn't my outrageous behavior, my mockery of ideologies considered sacrosanct in America today, or even my addiction to uncomfortable truths. The establishment's real fear is that this book will affect readers, especially young people. In particular, they fear that the young people at the epicenter of political correctness in America's universities with begin to question the ideologies foisted upon them...'

Milo speaks out against Islam, among other things.  Since Islam declares that the punishment for being homosexual is death, it is no wonder that he despises the religion. But this is one reason that Milo is so heavily criticised  - we are not supposed to speak ill of Islam.  It is Sharia Law, the barbaric law handed down to devout Muslims from the 8th Century - that any criticism of Islam is forbidden. 

And yet European countries are now trying to enforce that law for them. How very, very sad.

Another advocate for free speech is Pamela Geller, who has been trying to shed a light on the facts of Islam ever since the Twin Towers were brought down by Jihadists in 2001.

And then they wanted to put an enormous mosque on the site instead. Some claimed it would be a symbol of unity or peace or something like that. Pamela saw it is as more like a symbol of  triumph.  Thousands agreed, and the proposal was eventually quashed.

But that was when her activism really began.

And ever since,  people have been trying to stop her talking. She points out, again and again, that you cannot call facts 'hate speech.' It makes no difference. Facts are routinely called 'hate speech.'

Her recent book is called 'Fatwa,'  as a Fatwa has been called against her. She sees routine death threats made against her, and at least once, there was a serious attempt to carry out the threat. 

In her book 'Fatwa,'  she describes her efforts to open people's eyes to the reality of Islamic teaching, and she describes the determined efforts to close her mouth. There were even efforts made to thwart her attempts to provide safety to young women threatened with 'honour killing' because they committed such 'crimes' as talking to an unrelated man, appearing in Western dress, or wanting to leave Islam. In Islam, of course, the prescribed punishment for  'apostasy' is death. 

Pamela uses direct quotes from the Koran to illustrate her points. And yet, because she is pointing out the actual teachings of the Koran, she is labelled bigot, racist, etc.  Facts should never be suppressed. How can one address a problem if one cannot describe that problem? 

Here we are in 2017, and yet many European nations plus Canada, Australia and Britain, are caving in to demands from Muslims in a misguided attempt to keep the peace. Pamela says that Islam is at war with civilisation, and the politically correct Leftists are in collusion with them, whether or not they understand what they are doing. She calls them 'craven quizlings.'

On page 60, she says 'Who would have imagined that twelve years after 9/11, patriots and freedom lovers dedicated to opposing the ideology behind those attacks on the homeland (and over 21,000 deadly Islamic attacks worldwide since) would be demonized, dehumanized, and the object of a campaign to get us banned from an allied nation. It could only be the result of insanity or ... defeat.' 

There was a terrorist attack in London. The advice from police was for people to run and hide. Pamela says:  'Running and hiding is no strategy in war. Operation Fetal Position is a recipe for disaster.' (Page 127) 

For speaking out, Pamela Geller finds herself the recipient of some truly dreadful threats, often on social media and usually blandly ignored, while her own posts are routinely taken down. This, for instance, that a Muslim posted pictures of her next to bloodied dismembered bodies along with threats too gross for me to say.  And yet that facebook page was not taken down. 

She says, (page 189)  'This is ultimately not about me; it is whether America will stand for freedom or surrender. I don't want to die, but I will not live as a slave.' 

But it seems that so many people would rather live in fear of repercussions by Muslims than to stand up to their threats. They refuse to even hear when people point out what the threat is. They would rather silence people like Pamela Geller than look at what is real. 

An excerpt from Pamela's book -  'All my work is in defense of the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, the equality of rights of all people before the law, and individual rights. The claim that I operate a hate group is a vicious smear and eerily evokes the circumstances that preceded the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s.' 

It's a strange world. On the news today, it speaks of the Christmas season being particularly dangerous as a season for terrorism. There is talk of new loudspeakers in cities so that they can sound an alarm when there is a terrorist attack, a heavy police presence is now routine at major events, and heavy bollards are being erected in places where crowds gather in order to protect against a terrorist deciding to deliberately drive into them.  And yet there is no mention of just who these 'terrorists' are, and what they might be murdering for.

Bollards erected in the hope of preventing an Islamic terrorist attack.

Milo Yiannopoulos and Pamela Geller are freedom fighters. They are fighting for the right to tell it as it is.  And they are telling us to open our eyes, particularly about the dangers posed by the spreading influence of Islam.

In certain circles, the penalty for being homosexual
is to be thrown from a tall building

As a gay man, Milo could be threatened with execution, as other gay men have been,  while Pamela is subject to a Fatwa.

Our government, our educational system, our politicians, would rather preach nonsense such that 'Islam is a religion of peace.'  One only has to read the Koran and the other Islamic 'holy' books to know how false is such a claim.

Both these books are worth reading.  Milo's book is entertaining, as well as informative, while Pamela's book goes into detail about the numerous times she has spoken out, and by one method or other,  has been silenced.  This part of the book becomes a little tedious to read, and yet the sheer repetition rams home her point that freedom of speech is under enormous threat. 

Pamela Geller - 'The foundation of my work is individual rights and equality for all before the law. These are the foundational principles of our constitutional republic.  That is now considered controversial. Truth is the new hate speech. Truth is going to be criminalized.'     

Both books can be found online. Many bookshops will probably not stock them - further proof of the threat to freedom of speech. 

Friday, 8 December 2017

Remember Thalidomide?

For most of us, it is long ago, but for the ones who were born deformed by this drug, it is something they live with every day of their lives.

Gary Skyner is one of these people.  His autobiography, published recently,  is very much worth a read.

Here is what is said on one of the the selling sites, The Book Depository.

Gary Skyner's autobiography, You Can't, You Won't: A Life of Unarmed Combat, provides an honest, detailed account of his life as a thalidomide child. Gary was born severely disabled in 1959 after his mother was prescribed the thalidomide drug during pregnancy. Originally devised in 1957 by a German pharmaceutical company as a free sedative designed to combat morning sickness, thalidomide was first licensed in the UKâ in 1958. However, it became apparent that there was a surge in rare birth defects after pregnant women had been prescribed the drug. As one of the earliest in the UK to be born damaged by the deadly drug, Gary's life was destined to be difficult and challenging as it impaired his physical development. Expected not to live, let alone to achieve much, Gary is living proof that there is nothing you cannot achieve if you believe you can. Born with foreshortened arms in the Toxteth area of 1950's Liverpool, Gary explores how his parents' marital breakdown and his difficult relationship with his father were all caused, in Gary's eyes, by the strains of raising a disabled child. In addition to his troubles at home, Gary's tears turned to anger as he became aware of the government's reluctance to make provision for thalidomide victims, leading him to become active in campaigns in order to shame them into proper negotiation. You Can't, You Won't also explores how Gary's dreams came crashing down on him due to his limitations as a thalidomide child. As a lifelong Liverpool FC supporter, he always wanted to be a star player, but he soon realised he had to accept his limitations. Working first as a telephone operator, Gary later became a welder, a housing officer and a trained paralegal. Despite his difficult life, You Can't, You Won't also explores the happier times, including having two daughters and his comic and motivational speaker career. There has never been a dull moment and this autobiography explores his belief that life should be spiced with jokes and laughter. Written with conviction and humour, You Can't, You Won't is a story of courage and triumph that will appeal to those who enjoy memoirs, but also to those interested in the background of thalidomide births.

My review:

This is not a personal story and not a political story, but a combination of both because sometimes, the personal is political.  In the case of Gary Skyner, the politics started before he was born, when a greedy drug company released a drug before it was adequately tested. Gary's fight was for himself, to live a normal life in spite of the damage done by Thalidomide, but also for fair treatment from the company that caused the damage, and even with the Trust that was in charge of the money grudgingly released to the victims of Thalidomide.
It is not likely that Gary will ever be satisfied that the company has made sufficient recompense.  The damage was too great, the victims too many - not only the ones maimed as he was maimed, but those babies who died before or soon after they were born. And there are others, probably many others, whose symptoms were more subtle, and who will never know that their health problems were caused by the drug.
Gary's story is one of struggle. He had to overcome his handicap, but there are also those normal life problems we all have to navigate. He has achieved a great deal in his life, and that is why he became successful as a motivational speaker.  He is also successful in what has to be about the most difficult job in the world - that of a stand up comedian.
Plus he is an author. This is a good book. I recommend it.

Gary is shown here with a pile of his books. 

You can acquire a copy from Amazon or from The Book Depository, and probably from most other online booksellers.

Gary's book is a reminder - that one should never, ever, take chances by prescribing drugs to pregnant women.  I am concerned that this warning is being forgotten by the medical fraternity.  For instance,  pregnant women are advised to be vaccinated against Pertussis, usually with the combined vaccine, 'Boostrix.' (Pertussis, Diptheria, Tetanus.)  I am a perfectly healthy and non pregnant woman,  not one who is prone to allergic reactions, but I was bedridden for two days after having that vaccination, and felt the effects for months.  I assume that it is not given in early pregnancy, (I hope not)  but all the same, I question whether it should be given to pregnant women at all.  They are also often advised to have the flu vaccine - a vaccine that is changed every year, and therefore cannot possibly  be adequately tested. 

Now Gary has managed to achieve a great deal in his life.  But I am quite sure he would be the first to say, to YELL!  that one should NOT take any chances with pregnant women. I would hope we never see another such tragedy as those Thalidomide babies, now grown men and women.