In 2004, the last time I entered the US (between February 1995 and March 2004, I visited the US more often than I have any other country) I was halted for a baggage check.
I had brought my laptop with me. It was removed from my luggage and taken away. When I got it back, it had evidently been booted up and kept running for a while on its battery while they looked through the files I had saved on it to find out if I was a terrorist. Actually, they probably checked to confirm none of it was encrypted and then downloaded a complete copy for them to study at their leisure. Warrantless searches are legal at US border crossings for any reason or none.
This did not bother me at the time because I didn’t realise they intended to copy my hard drive.
What did bother me was that the customs agent assigned to search my luggage picked up items from it – I had come to visit the Grand Canyon, and had brought some British hiking supplies on the basis that I wasn’t sure what would be easy to buy in the South Rim village – and wanted to know, rudely and unpleasantly, “Why did you bring this?”
I was told later that US customs employees are encouraged to be as rude to incoming tourists as possible, in order to see if they can provoke some kind of suspicious response.
Filed under Racism, Travel
Savita Halappanavar went to Galway University Hospital on 21st October with severe back pain, to be told she was miscarrying. She was 17 weeks pregnant. For three days of agony she and her husband requested an abortion – the foetus was still alive but had no chance of survival – but the medical staff refused: there was still a foetal heartbeat. He said they were told that this was the law and that “this is a Catholic country”. After three days the foetus was dead and the prolife medical team removed it, but too late to save Savita Halappanavar’s life: she died of septicaemia on 28th October.
The protest last night outside Merchant’s Hall in Hanover Street had been planned well before Savita Halappanavar died: it was in response to the first meeting of the Alliance of Pro-Life Students.
This is an organisation that intends, in its own words, to “invest in the future”:
Students are the nation’s future leaders and professionals. The next generation of doctors, lawyers, parents, teachers, nurses, politicians, engineers and artists will go on to build a pro-life society with a profound and lasting respect for human life.
By “respect for human life” they mean the ethos that let Savita Halappanavar die in agony.
So while an ordinary pleb goes to jail for bigoted abuse, a Member of the European Parliament does not? (Updated, 19th October)
Griffin’s Twitter feed is unsuspended, and as one might expect, he’s celebrating with a tirade of homophobic abuse.
Apparently if you’re an elected representative – MP Andrew Mitchell, MEP Nick Griffin – the rules aren’t the same for you as they are for plebs like us.
“We’ve been told that Nick Griffin is threatening to come to our house and hand out leaflets outside,” Mr Black added.
“But, we live in a village where it wouldn’t be easy for him or many people to come and gather. There’s nowhere to park for a start and very few people walk past apart from school children. If anything happens it would be a damp squib.”
Posted 18th October
The very Christian Family Research Council says:
That abandonment of principle is leading to a decline in membership, especially among the more liberal denominations. As more churches move away from biblical authority, their attendance suffers. Just ask the Episcopal Church, whose pews are virtually empty after the decision to endorse homosexuality. It’s time to push back on the spin that’s feeding our weak brethren who say that compromising truth in pursuit of love is the way to reach the lost. Intuitively, people want to anchor their lives to something meaningful — something that demands the sacrifice and discipline of “taking up your cross.” When a denomination abandons the truth and waters everything down to love, it reduces the church to another hour of Dr. Phil — which is something Americans can get without ever leaving home.
In March 2010 Susanne Wilkinson, acting out (she assures us) her Christian values, decided that a respectable couple holidaying in the UK (Michael Black is 64, and John Morgan is 59) could not have a double room in the Swiss Bed and Breakfast in Cookham, Berkshire – though they had made a reservation and paid a deposit – because they are a gay couple, and Wilkinson is of the opinion that Jesus doesn’t like that sort of thing and doesn’t approve of showing hospitality to those sort of people.
In many societies, rape victims, women and girls suspected of engaging in premarital sex, and women accused of adultery have been murdered by their relatives because the violation of a woman’s chastity is viewed as an affront to the family’s honour.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that the annual worldwide number of so-called “honour killing” victims may be as high as 5,000 women.
The British organisation that supports victims and survivors of forced marriage and honour based abuse is Karma Nirvana. Most honour killings are of women, by men.
When I was looking for examples of honour killings for this blog, I stopped when I found it unbearable: I did not run out of subjects.
Filed under Racism, Women
What I said:
Whether we vote Yes or No in 2014 is less important to me than whether we can stand up as Scottish together and say to these white nationalists with their notion of “defending Scotland” against diversity, that we are Scotland, and we are our nation’s own defence against them.
Today at 1pm the “Scottish Defence League” will be holding a static rally outside the Parliament.
Now, it is truly difficult for me to see how SDL could be prevented from doing this. The space outside the Scottish Parliament was meant for people to gather and express their views peaceably: I would oppose any law curtailing peaceful protest there or that lets the police presume in advance that a protest will not be peaceable. What we can do is make their rally visibly irrelevant by showing up to peaceably protest against it.
Today, the Yes Scotland campaign is having a march. The main reason for the march seems to be so that the march planned for 21st September 2013 is not the first march for independence.
Next Saturday, there will be another march: I expect it to be quite a bit smaller, but much more important. Alex Salmond won’t turn out for it, there won’t be any fancy rally in Princes Street gardens.
Filed under Politics, Racism
Joshua Treviño’s first [and last!] column for Guardian US on Republican politics will appear on Monday.
(Or not. Poll at foot of page.)
Joshua Treviño for many years blogged under the name of “Tacitus”. As Tacitus, in 2004, he founded a discussion board so explicitly rightwing that its posting rules treated centrist or left-wing comments as disruptive behaviour for which even an unwitting offender could be banned without warning:
A little clarification is in order. Pursuant to the mission statement, this site is explicitly meant to serve as a conservative and Republican community. Postings, comments, etc., contrary to this purpose fall under the rubric of “disruptive behavior” and will result in banning. You may or may not get a warning — it depends on how harried the moderators are. If you are coming from a non-conservative, non-Republican context, you are still welcome here, but you must respect the site’s stated purpose.
That stated purpose was, if you weren’t a Republican, to make you one:
Nazis, Islamists, Communists and racists are unwelcome at redstate.org. Any other person of basic good sense and goodwill, regardless of party, is welcome to participate and hopefully come around to the ideals of Republicanism.
By “Islamists” Treviño wanted to be clear that he only meant bad Muslims. He was banned from Obsidian Wings (“The Voice of Moderation” – a multi-member blog which has always aimed at having a range of political voices) because he accused one of the bloggers, an evangelical Christian, of “promoting Islam” by quoting approvingly the chief Imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, saying in his annual sermon:
“Islam is the religion of moderation. There is no room for extremism in Islam,” he said. He called on Muslims to “protect non-Muslims in the Kingdom and not to attack them in the country or anywhere. Islam is a religion of peace that abhors attack on innocents.”
Treviño’s response to this was:
You are intent on promoting Islam — and yes, I think that is an accurate phrasing — inasmuch as you chronically misrepresent it and its spokesmen in order to portray it positively. If this isn’t “promotion,” precious little is.
After Aidan “Nazi stag party” Burley had to sit through “the most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen”, he tweeted:
This evening at the Olympics stadium the three British gold medallists were a picture of the British multiculturalism that Aidan Burley and the Daily Mail had decried. Published on the Mail Online only a few hours after the Opening Ceremony came to an end, Rick Dewsbury wrote:
“This was supposed to be a representation of modern life in England but it is likely to be a challenge for the organisers to find an educated white middle-aged mother and black father living together with a happy family in such a set-up.