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Index: Currente Calamo

We’ll have the vote total in Scotland long before we’ll have a ‘backlash’ in England.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Even after the murder of Lee Rigby on a London street, the backlash amounted mainly to a bodged arson attack on a mosque in Grimsby. The other two major incidents — the burning down of a Somali “community centre” (ie, mosque) in North London and the attempted arson of an Islamic boys’ school in Chislehurst — seem to have yielded no far-right involvement. That’s despite the fact that in the case of the community centre the media made a point of saying that EDL graffiti had been found daubed on the walls. Pity they never provided any photos or footage of it.’

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National self-amputation.

Michael Blackburn: It’s not that the system is broken. It’s that the people in it are third raters who are not up to the job. The unpalatable truth is that in Scotland at least the only politician who attracts any credibility is Alex Salmond. That’s a sorry state to be in.

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The insolence of office and the price of PC.

Michasel Blackburn: Those same whitewashers and apologists for rape are still at work today, despite all the evidence. Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian turns logic inside out by saying that those, police included, who used political correctness as an excuse for their inaction were themselves (because they were “assuming the worst of Muslims”). Suzanne Moore in the same paper treads the usual progressive path and can’t see the issue separately from class and gender. For her it’s a “wholesale resignation to an economic caste system”. Culture and religion seem to have no place in it, which is odd when you consider that as a progressive she must be very keen on all that multicultural stuff.

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Too much bang-bang, not enough news.

Michael Blacknburn: ‘Too often reporters present us with cliches, opinions or even propaganda as news, expecting us to accept it because we are all assumed to share the same values and ideas, and all want to be on the right side. We are required to care rather than think. Reporters are now our heroes on the front line of public morality as well as of conflict (in which, as Crawford admits, producers are seduced by too much “bang bang”) – how can we not believe them?’

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Frankly, my dear, I just don’t…

MICHAEL BLACKBURN: ‘If I did as I was supposed to and joined in solidarity with the activists, boycotters, hashtaggers, petition-signers, protestors and campaigners I‘d be on the edge of a nervous breakdown within a week. I’d also be a pain in the backside and devoid of friends and family, because there’s nothing more irritating than the conscientiously concerned.’

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The drinker and the drunker.

Michael Blackbiurn: ‘Although I never got anywhere near being more than an occasional, annoying drunk (and drunks are always annoying, even when you are one among lots of others) I know how boring and embarrassing it all becomes. When you’re young and a student, perhaps, you find it amusing to wake up in your room to find a tractor tyre propped up against your wall… Or be blamed for making someone drink after shave because there was no more alcohol in the house. Once you done that a few times, it gets a bit samey.

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Save the children from this evil train.

Michael Blackburn: ‘I thought we had reached the final frontier of outrage when cupcakes were declared fascist, but I was wrong. I hadn’t reckoned on the bottomless fury of the sisterhood against the patriarchy in all its forms, real or imagined. Thus the rumbling discontent over Thomas the Tank Engine has broken out into open hostilities again. If cakes can be dangerous then nothing is above suspicion, not even children’s entertainment.’

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Obesity — the epidemic.

Nick O’Hear: ‘Eating too much is the cause of fatness. This is true for the rich as well as the poor. My view is, that despite the explosion of cookery programmes, many people still can’t cook and hate to try. My remedy is to teach cooking as part of the national curriculum.’

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When Nietzsche and the Prophet came to England.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Marches and demonstrations have taken place in support of the people of Gaza — and presumably Hamas, the terrorist organisation voted into power by the people of Gaza and responsible for the constant rocket attacks on Israel. As with Iran in 1979 you have the liberal-left supporting people who stand for the exact opposite of what they themselves believe in, and would turn on them as soon as they had the upper hand.’

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A view from Blighty.

Michael Blackburn: ‘We have just learned that those of us who are indigenous British are racist. I’ll pretend for the sake of form that this judgment surprises me. A think tank called the Social Integration Commission released their first report entitled How Integrated Is Modern Britain? I think you can tell without even seeing a copy of the report where this is coming from and which direction it is going in.’

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Yet perhaps not quite glib enough for Americans.

Some rather superficial explanations of the success of Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century in the American press have claimed that Piketty is only the embodiment of a certain contemporary moment — data-driven but with a few simple big-picture claims that can be grasped easily by a tech-savvy but generally inattentive public who are obsessed with […]

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Literary criticism.

Michael Blackburn: ‘The relationship between the writer and what he or she writes is complicated and rarely direct. Being a writer doesn’t make you a good person. Being a good person does not make you a good writer. Neither does being a bad one.’

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The BBC aims to be multi-colourful.

Michael Blackburn: ‘I hope the DG has precisely worked out his ethnic diversity percentages so the BBC doesn’t get inter-BAME conflicts tearing it apart. You can just imagine the Asian camp splitting between Hindus and Muslims, and the Chinese getting uppity because they’re outnumbered by the rest. In a couple of years we may have a Polish contingent at loggerheads with management over too many Lithuanians. But they probably won’t count, because they’re white, so they’ll have to slug it out in the carpark.’

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Sunnis, shias, and that ‘religion of peace’.

Michael Blackburn: ‘In Iraq, as the ancient Sunni versus Shia civil war steps up a gear, the bien pensants of the western media claim the core of the conflict is “sectarian”. That’s just a weasely way of saying it’s the fault of religion in general to avoid laying any culpability on the religion of peace itself because all religions are the same, you see. Well, they are if you are a know-nothing modern intellectual. Sunni and Shia may be at each other’s throats because of their differences, but those differences are over their religion and that religion is Islam.’

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Education is overrated.

Michael Blackburn: Gove has not banned anything, or said exam boards should not include these books on their reading lists. Nor has he restricted the syllabus to British only texts. The requirement for one Shakespeare play, one nineteenth century novel, a selection of poetry since 1879, and fiction or drama from the British Isles from 1914 onwards, is a minimum. There’s plenty of scope for other texts in addition to these, as a glance at the Department of Education’s documents and the current exam board syllabuses already shows.

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