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When pantsuits first became a craze in the late 1960s and early 1970s, most women shied away from them.
They knew that pantsuits require a certain figure. Marlene Dietrich was the first to wear one in 1930 in the film Morocco. Katharine Hepburn also wore elegant trouser co-ordinates from that decade onward.
What characterised those women was a slim, stately figure.
The late Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) came up with le smoking paired with trousers in the 1960s. Clearly, this ensemble was made for those with models’ physiques, women such as Melania Trump, rather than her husband’s opponent:
Look how happy Melania Trump is with her femininity. She treasures it.
Today, generations of women think that pantsuits hide their less attractive physical attributes. What they do not realise is that it would be preferable for them to show heavy ankles and calves in a skirt rather than cover them up and reveal more even more with trousers: large thighs and matronly hips. Even the jackets do not fit properly.
YSL’s creation, much imitated by many other top designers and mainstream design houses, was meant for a statuesque figure. The jacket and trousers were intended to create an elegant unity, a straight line from shoulder to ankle.
Instead, this is what we have today, best exemplified by Hillary Clinton and Angela Merkel:
Women cannot hide their less attractive physical attributes in pantsuits. It would be preferable for these ladies to wear a flattering skirt paired with a chic Chanel-style jacket or a boxy sweater instead.
In 2008 Clinton’s supporters were referred to as the ‘sisterhood of travelling pantsuits’. They were paying a certain homage to her.
Instead of trying to conform to what makes a man a man, why not celebrate the fact that, yes, I am a woman, and because of that, I bring unique qualities and talents and perspectives to the job, that make me equally and uniquely qualified to do it.
Leading a country means serving a country. It is a gift of self. Of inspiring and empowering the people.
A position that should be held by the most capable person for the job – man or woman.
Am I endorsing Hillary. No. There’s a lot more that goes into choosing a President that goes much deeper than a person’s gender. There’s … well … politics. The parties’ views on the US and our future are very different. And that is up to you to decide which issues top the list and sway your vote.
I would love to see a woman President. And think it is amazing that a woman is holding the nomination for a major party.
And I hope that the first woman president, whenever she’s elected, can confidently be sworn in wearing something other than a pantsuit. Because she’s not hiding her femininity, but celebrating her feminine genius, and embracing all the unique talents and qualities that she possesses in her very nature that make her equally qualified and able to do the job.
Just so. It would be great if all women, not just those in politics, could bear that in mind.
Even our statuesque Prime Minister, Theresa May, looks better in skirts or dresses than in trousers.
It has been just under four weeks since the UK voted to leave the EU.
Theresa May has been our PM for one week.
She has done quite a lot of housecleaning in that time with many new appointments to the Cabinet, making it her own, and has created a department for Brexit.
It is unfortunate that the Nice attack took away our initial enjoyment of May’s premiership. I have much to write on her appointment and the lady herself.
For now, a few brief observations follow.
The Conservative Party — best for women
The Conservative Party is the best political party for women in Britain.
Within 26 years, they have given us two female Prime Ministers, redoubtable women both.
By contrast, the right-on, progressive Labour Party has never had a female leader.
Around the time May was entering Downing Street last week, Angela Eagle — a contender for Labour leadership — said that it was high time they had a woman at the top. What Ms Eagle misses is that the Conservatives chose Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May not because of their gender but because of their competence.
I remember watching Andrew Neil’s Sunday Politics (BBC) in 2015 prior to the general election. Several Labour women MPs told Neil week after week that the Conservatives should have more women in Cabinet.
Ho hum. Which party has two female Prime Ministers? The Conservative Party. Which party just happened to have an all-women shortlist for party leadership with Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom just ten days ago? The Conservative Party.
First PMQs an absolute blinder
On Wednesday, July 20, Theresa May held her first Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons.
She played an absolute blinder; she was confident, competent and concise. She answered every question with historical data and/or departmental updates. She took questions on housing, Brexit, ‘honour’ killings and the NHS, to mention a few.
Afterwards, I watched Daily Politics (BBC2) with Jo Coburn and her panel, most of whom, like Coburn herself, are very much left-of-centre. All said that May did very well indeed. Veteran reporter John Pienaar said she was much better than Margaret Thatcher in her early days of PMQs.
May will be travelling to Berlin on July 20 to meet with Angela Merkel over a working dinner. (I will have an update in a subsequent post.)
Brexit is likely to dominate the dinner discussions. Terrorism and the recent attempted Turkish coup are also probable topics.
This is an historic occasion, as both Britain and Germany have female leaders at the same time.
The two seem similar in several respects: both their fathers were clergymen, neither has children, both have a penchant for improving society and they have strong personalities.
Expect mutual respect and honest discussions. It will be interesting to see if, once she meets May, Merkel is willing to engage in some sort of negotiations prior to our invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of Rome.
May will be meeting with France’s François Hollande on July 21. Calais and terrorism are sure to be on the agenda along with Brexit.
On July 19, May held her first Cabinet meeting.
She reiterated her commitment to Brexit and will personally oversee that new department as well as those for the economy and social reform.
May has wisely appointed three Leavers to key positions involving Britain’s future outside the EU. Longtime MP David Davis is in charge of the Brexit unit as the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. Boris Johnson, MP and former two-term Mayor of London, is Secretary of State for Foreign and International Affairs. Liam Fox is the Secretary of State for International Trade.
Keeping a close eye on Brexit, the economy and social reform ties together May’s overall agenda for her administration:
we will not allow the country to be defined by Brexit; but instead build the education, skills, and social mobility to allow everyone to prosper from the opportunities of leaving the EU.
I hope she continues to make progress in these areas. I’m beginning to like her a lot.
After months of news coverage and reader commentary from the more informed on both sides, the EU Referendum is now registering with previously less connected minds.
Attacks on women
In a frank interview published on Saturday, June 4, 2016, our primary Leave campaigner, UKIP (UK Independence Party) leader Nigel Farage told The Telegraph:
“The nuclear bomb this time would be about Cologne,” he told the Telegraph. Women may be at a particular risk from the “cultural” differences between British society and migrants, after gangs of migrant men allegedly launched a mass sexual attack against hundreds of women in Germany last New Year’s Eve, he said.
“There are some very big cultural issues,” he said. Asked whether mass sex attacks on the scale of Cologne could happen in Britain, Mr Farage replied: “It depends if they get EU passports. It depends if we vote for Brexit or not. It is an issue.”
On Tuesday, June 7, Farage’s comments boomeranged. The Commons Home Affairs Committee, led by outspoken Labour MP Keith Vaz, met to discuss immigration. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Right Revd Justin Welby, was invited to participate. Vaz asked the Archbishop if he agreed that Farage’s remarks were ‘racist’. Welby replied (see 15:36 entry):
I would agree with you.
I think that is an inexcusable pandering to people’s worries and prejudices.
That’s giving legitimisation to racism, which I’ve seen in parishes in which I’ve served and has led to attacks on people in those parishes. And we cannot legitimise that.
Fear is a pastoral issue, you deal with it by recognising it, by standing alongside and providing answers to it.
What that is is accentuating fear for political gain and that is absolutely inexcusable.
It would have been interesting to have had the two of them discussing England’s grooming gangs two years ago. Why make a bad situation potentially worse by Remaining? Has the Archbishop seen the figures from Sweden and Germany showing a jump in attacks on women over the past year?
That evening, a ‘debate’ took place on ITV. Farage had the first half hour to answer questions from the audience. Prime Minister David Cameron had the other. These are not debates in the classic sense of the word, because the PM refuses to participate in one.
A few women accused Farage of racism for suggesting that women could be at risk if we Remain.
I am still trying to process the cognitive disconnect of women criticising a man for warning them about possible danger to themselves or other women.
That danger is sexual assault and rape.
Farage saw that coming, however. He replied and moved on quickly:
I’m used to being demonised …
I’m not going to stand and attack the archbishop of Canterbury but he would have done better to read what I actually said … It is a tiddly issue in this campaign. I knew the Remainers would come to me and conflate what I said.
Voting deadline extended
For months now, we have had various announcements encouraging UK citizens to register to vote this year. In England, we had local or county elections in May. Some areas had council elections, while others voted for their Police Commissioner, depending on where one lived.
The EU Referendum has been in the media for months now. The voter registration deadline was 23:59 on Tuesday, June 7.
After the aforementioned ITV programme ended that evening at 10:00 p.m., approximately 50,000 Britons went online to register to vote.
The voter registration site crashed.
I have no sympathy for them. My parents told me time and time again never to wait until the last minute to do anything.
If I were PM, I would have said, ‘Tough.’ But the Electoral Commission and the Government agreed to extend the deadline by a further 48 hours for a two-hour crash. Conservative MP Matt Hancock tweeted early on June 8:
Delighted at huge voter registration levels. Due to technical problems with the website yesterday we’ll extend deadline to midnight tomorrow
That means 23:59 on Thursday, June 9.
Like me, my better half and millions of other voters, columnist and author Brendan O’Neill thought this was beyond the pale. He addressed the issue in The Spectator (emphases mine):
The more people we have engaged in democracy, the better. But a deadline is a deadline, no? If you turn up at a polling booth at 10pm, when voting time is over, then you can’t vote — we all know that. The swarm of youngish voters registering at the last minute for the EU referendum are the virtual equivalent of being late to the ballot box. Why are allowances being made? Why have another two days been added? It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that it’s because these kind of voters are useful for the establishment view that we must Remain.
The satirical news site Newsthump summed up the madness well with its headline: ‘Three months wasn’t long enough, claims man who couldn’t register to vote at 11.50pm.’ Look, I’m a little torn on this. When it comes to democracy, I’m positively Chartist: the more clout the people have, the better. But I can’t help feeling that today’s rewriting of the rules, and the law, to allow late voters to take part in this ‘great festival of democracy’ — as David Cameron referred to the EU referendum today — is because it is suspected that these late voters will be beneficial to Remain. Accidentally, this might give rise to a larger, more populous act of democracy on 23 June; but the motivation seems a pretty low one to me, being more about using generations to gerrymander the outcome than genuinely throwing open politics to the people. Is this about enfranchising more of the ‘right people’ in order to counter all those wrong’uns already registered?
I put the Newsthump quote in purple, even if it is satirical, because my better half and I were making similar quips.
Seriously, if people cannot get their act in gear by June 9, they deserve to sit this referendum out. And if they cannot manage to register to vote in time for future elections, then, frankly, voting does not mean that much to them.
All this is more pandering to the Special Snowflake crowd.
I would not be surprised to find thousands of Special Snowflakes queuing up outside polling stations at 9:50 p.m. expecting to cast a vote before 10:00 p.m. on June 23. It will be the story of the month: ‘Waaah! The government wouldn’t let me vote! They denied me a voice!’
Project Fear ripped apart
Journalist and broadcaster Andrew Neil has an incredible command of facts and figures on any number of news topics. He is also in the traditional mould and does not express his own opinion. I haven’t a clue where he personally stands on the EU Referendum, nor do I wish to know. It often appears as if he is supporting or opposing something when he is probably only doing a forensic examination of a politician’s position and trying to draw out the facts.
On June 8, Neil interviewed George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and big Remain supporter, for The Spectator. Wow, what a take down of Project Fear’s talking points. The transcript is available to read in full. I highly recommend it.
The exchange about Airbus — only one of the topics discussed — follows. Neil’s statements are in bold, Osborne’s in normal type:
We make the wings, where would Airbus go to buy the wings if not Britain? In or out the EU? Who else makes these wings?
By the way, the Chief Executive of Airbus has themselves said it would threaten their investment in the United Kingdom and the point about this, this isn’t an Airbus factory, this is a small manufacturing business in West Yorkshire supplying the wings. This is the reality of the single market.
This is another scare story. Airbus would come to Britain to buy its wings and its Rolls Royce engines whether we are in or out of the EU.
That is not what the Chief Executive says, the Chief Executive says that investment in the UK …
So where would they go?
They have got factories in Toulouse, they have got factories in Germany …
They don’t make wings in Germany.
The whole point about Airbus is that it is an integrated supply chain. We import things from Germany, we sell them to France and if there are tariffs, a tax on those exports, then why would the business happen in the UK? We’d be out of the single market, that’s the reality. Britain would be quitting – quitting the single market, quitting the prosperity, quitting the source of jobs. The people who pay the price are not you or me, Andrew, it’s that person working on the assembly line in Keighley.
Why would the business happen in the UK? Because that is where the wing assembly takes place. As Neil rightly notes, they are not made in Germany.
Osborne sounds the Fear alarm about quitting, quitting, quitting! Then he asks us to consider the assembly line person in Keighley.
Dollars to donuts — Pounds to pies? — the Keighley person probably intends to vote Leave. Where else can his wings be produced for the foreseeable future? Tariffs aren’t going to come in overnight, either.
All this takes time, possibly two years.
It seems to me that only younger voters will be persuaded by Project Fear.
Another televised ‘debate’ takes place tonight on ITV and will have ended by the time this post appears.
I hope it rains on June 23.
May the UK be guided wisely in the referendum vote.
Democratic Party voters should know about Hillary Clinton’s career.
It dumbfounds millions that this woman can even countenance running for the presidency. However, as one of the videos below explains, this has been the plan since 1986, when Bill was the governor of Arkansas.
It is interesting that Hillary considers Donald Trump her opponent in the general election. A few days ago, her campaign launched an ad against the billionaire attacking his ‘extreme makeover’ recently announced by convention manager Paul Manafort to the GOPe in Hollywood, Florida. Meanwhile, Trump is unsure whether he will even be the Republican nominee without Manafort and his team going on a PR offensive with delegates.
In other Hillary news, one of her supporters, David Brock, is heading a new Super PAC called Correct The Record (CTR), which will employ online trolls at the cost of $1m to ‘correct’ Bernie Sanders’s supporters in social media comments. Obama’s 2008 campaign team were the first to use this bullying technique. Oh, my. Who can forget how down and dirty they were?
Clinton voters point to Bill’s stellar presidency and how wonderful it was having a first lady who was a lawyer. Millions of other Americans did not share their enthusiasm, but having Bob Dole as the lacklustre Republican candidate in 1996 effectively swept Bill into office for a second term.
After they left office — and ‘they’ is no mistake — warm, fuzzy memories lived on in voters’ minds. So, when Hillary became a New York senator, her fans cheered. However, when she lost to Obama in 2008, they fractured. Some went to Obama, but the rest broke off to support either John McCain (and, later, Mitt Romney) or the Green Party. As they left the Democratic Party and became unaffiliated, they started researching their former heroine’s background. What they discovered wasn’t pretty.
A Bernie Sanders supporter has an interesting site called Won’t Vote Hillary which lists a number of reasons — greater and lesser — as to why not.
Unless I missed it, one hasn’t made the list: her smoothing over New York mayor Bill de Blasio’s racist joke at an event on April 10. The New York Daily News reported:
Their big moment became a big blunder when a tasteless joke — built off the stereotype that black people are chronically late — fell flat.
“Thanks for the endorsement. Took you long enough,” Clinton deadpanned.
“Sorry, Hillary. I was running on C.P. Time,” de Blasio replied, riffing on the phrase “colored people time,” meaning always late.
When the event’s compère, black actor Leslie Odom Jr, objected, Clinton said:
“’Cautious Politician Time.’ I’ve been there.”
The New York Post has the video clip with subtitles.
Can you imagine if Donald Trump had been involved in a tasteless skit like that? The media would still be talking about it.
There are serious questions Hillary’s current supporters need to ask themselves about her candidacy. Why have questionable ethics been at the forefront throughout her career? What is her end game?
The compelling videos below provide those questions — and answers — against Hillary.
White House questions
The ‘Anonymous’ video below is 25 minutes long. In a simple and straightforward manner, it covers the many Clinton scandals from Bill’s time in the White House to Hillary’s time as Obama’s Secretary of State through to the present day. Benghazi (‘What does it matter?’) starts at the 16:00 mark:
Hillary’s 2016 campaign and the Clinton Foundation are also discussed. This is well worth watching, because seeing all these scandals and unethical activity bundled together makes the case against Hillary all the more powerful.
Two other videos raise ethical and criminal issues concerning the Clintons from their Arkansas days through to the campaign for the presidency in 1992.
Both feature interviews with a one-time Clinton insider, Larry Nichols, who eventually disassociated himself from the couple.
The Clinton Chronicles is nearly 90 minutes long and explores the couple’s shaky ethics at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock and later when Bill was Arkansas governor:
It’s shocking and, as the notice says at the beginning of the film, is intended for mature audiences only.
The next film is 33 minutes long and was made last year. In it, Nichols discusses the past and present. He says that, 30 years ago, the Clintons devised their 1986 Plan, which ultimately involves Bill becoming the Secretary General of the United Nations. If he achieved that power and if Hillary were President of the United States at the same time, they would accomplish their goal of being the most powerful couple in the world:
Nichols cautions against voters being taken in by Hillary’s attempt to position herself as the underdog in her campaign. She is anything but. He also says that the New York Times — knowingly or unknowingly — serves as a PR machine for her.
Nichols, who is battling cancer, thinks there is a very real possibility that the 2016 election could be the last one that Americans recognise. He says that if Hillary Clinton wins, the nation may be irrevocably changed — and not for the better.
He said that Hillary has always been the power behind the throne. It was she who directed Bill’s career. He explained that Bill is much more laid back, but Hillary’s mind is focussed on power.
Nichols sees only one viable option for reversing America’s travails and restoring the Great Republic: Donald Trump in the White House.
Queen Elizabeth turns 90 on Thursday, April 21.
Millions of people, not just in the UK but around the world, will wish her a very happy birthday and many happy returns.
Britons are blessed to have her as their head of state. She is the glue that holds us together.
What has made her so successful and well respected?
On October 31, 2015, Channel 4 broadcast How to Be Queen: 63 Years and Counting which revealed the ‘secrets’ of the woman who is more popular than ever.
Below is a countdown of the Queen’s ten secrets to No. 1 — the most important. The subheads below come directly from the programme and the text summarises its content.
10/ Stay out of politics
The film The Queen, starring Helen Mirren, explores this principle in depth, especially in the depictions of her conversations with then-Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The Queen does not say anything about politics outside of her family circle, however, to politicians like Blair, she makes her thoughts known through a look or a brief remark that can cut one down to size in an instant.
By contrast, Prince Charles, whose opinions are well known on a variety of subjects, has little of his mother’s near-universal appeal. Perhaps it is time he took a leaf out of his mother’s notebook.
9/ Say nothing
Unlike Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, the Queen does not give interviews.
Discretion is the better part of valour.
The only exception was in 1992 when the Queen noted in her Christmas Day message to the nation how awful that year had been, but used a Latin expression. She pronounced it an ‘Annus Horribilis‘. A number of Royal scandals broke that year. Windsor Castle also caught fire and was seriously damaged.
8/ Do your duty
The Queen was brought up to do her duty to the nation. She has never wavered from serving her people.
She is the opposite of two of her ancestors. When Queen Victoria’s son Edward VII ascended to the throne in January 1901, he continued his previous playboy lifestyle, even though he was married to Princess Alexandra.
A more shocking example, however, was that of Edward VIII who reigned for 326 days in 1936 before abdicating to lead his own life. After abdication, he took his ladyfriend, American divorcée Wallis Simpson, whom he later married, on a trip to Nazi Germany. Understandably, public opinion was so hostile to him that he spent most of the rest of his life in France. His successor (brother) George VI — Queen Elizabeth’s father — and his mother Queen Mary threatened to cut off his allowance if he returned to the UK uninvited. It is no wonder that Britons over the age of 50 consider him to be one of our worst ever monarchs.
7/ Don’t fluff your lines
The Queen has always delivered her addresses in a clear, professional way.
The Queen Mother no doubt had a role to play in that. Her husband George VI had a stammer which marred his radio addresses to the nation. His speech therapy was the subject of the film The King’s Speech. The film builds up to the King’s wartime broadcast of 1939, which had to be delivered flawlessly to have the necessary gravitas. A nation held its breath. Fortunately, all went well. The Queen’s father occasionally stammered after that, but much less so than previously. The British public considered him all the more human for it.
6/ Protect the brand
The Queen has always been conscious of the Royal Family’s status as a brand.
The Queen Mother instilled that in her from childhood, but it actually originated with George V during the Great War. He and Kaiser Wilhelm were first cousins. The British public were understandably unhappy during a time when anti-German sentiment was rampant. George V changed the family name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor, after the castle.
In 1917, the King faced another difficulty, this time involving another cousin, Tsar Nicholas. He wanted very much to bring the tsar and his family in Russia to safety in the UK but decided against it. He feared that bringing the Russian royals to Britain would also foment a revolt in Britain, similar to the Russian Revolution.
Unfortunately, not all of the Queen’s children share her desire to protect the brand. Some royals appeared in the television programme It’s a Royal Knockout in 1987. Rather than boost their popularity, it did the opposite. Lesson learned.
Ironically, it is the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, who makes the most gaffes, too numerous to mention here. Reading them is painful, but people who have met him and heard them find them rather amusing. Hmm.
5/ Don’t mix with the staff
When it comes to confiding in her staff, the Queen appears to abide by the maxim ‘Trust no one’. Her record is blemish-free.
This has not always been the case with previous monarchs. After Prince Albert’s death, Queen Victoria spent a lot of time with Mr Brown and then Abdul Karim. These associations with palace attendants scandalised the royal household and the courtiers.
More recently, Princess Diana confided in her butler Paul Burrell, which generated much publicity for him after her death and some difficulty for the Royal Family as a result.
4/ Earn your keep
The Queen was brought up to be a hard worker.
She understands that if one is going to live at the taxpayer’s expense, one had better earn one’s keep.
She, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Princess Anne are the most dedicated of the Royals. Much of the charity work that Princess Anne does goes unnoticed by the media, and that is the way she likes it.
The Queen is careful to work hard and maintain a sober, low-profile private life.
Her responsible approach contrasts with Edward VII’s partying and cavorting more than a century ago. In our time, Prince Andrew rightly came under public criticism for his affair with Koo Stark in the 1980s and, in recent years, for his profligate air travel.
3/ Keep a stiff upper lip
The Queen always controls her emotions.
She was brought up to practise emotional reserve and displayed little physical affection for her children.
Her grandfather George V was also very reserved, even towards his wife, Queen Mary. With regard to his children, the Channel 4 programme said he was ‘cold’.
Does this mean there was no love? Hardly. In fact, many Britons would point to the old dictum ‘Still waters run deep’.
The Queen’s children have taken a different approach to parenting. Prince Charles, in particular, was careful to show his sons much affection in their childhood.
One of the few times one could see a scintilla of deep emotion in the Queen was when the royal yacht Britannia was decommissioned. Television news footage captured the monarch, her lips quivering ever so slightly as she blinked rapidly.
2/ Find true love
The Queen is deeply in love with Prince Philip and always has been.
The feeling is mutual. The couple have been married for nearly 70 years.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Kate Middleton) share that same sort of love.
The film The Young Victoria depicted Queen Victoria’s profound love for Prince Albert in the 19th century. Her diaries record that he used to help her dress in the morning and would put her stockings on for her.
1/ Listen to the people
The Queen has only had one crisis during her reign and she mitigated that by listening to the people.
Another thing that helped was not to react instantly but rather wait and see what way the wind is blowing.
This troublesome period was the week following the death of Princess Diana at the end of August 1997. The Queen and the Royal Family were on summer holiday at Balmoral in Scotland at the time. The Queen decided they should leave for London four days later.
Meanwhile, public emotions were at fever pitch. I know. I worked in London at the time and saw a few of my female colleagues rail against the Queen, calling for her death. A lot of women laying flowers at Kensington Palace felt the same way. Television reporters interviewed a number of them for news broadcasts every day. The newspapers were filled with anti-Royal sentiment.
Once in London, the Queen went on a walkabout in front of Kensington Palace to see the queues of people ready to lay flowers in front of the late princess’s residence. The Queen has a scene which actually took place that day, later shown on the news. Queen Elizabeth spoke to a little girl holding a posy. She said something to the girl about the flowers being for Princess Diana. The little girl said, ‘These are for you’, and handed her the bouquet. That moment reversed the Queen’s dismal week because it signalled the turning of the tide away from animosity.
Later that day, the Queen gave a televised address to the nation with regard to Princess Diana’s death. It was her first public statement on the subject. Admittedly, then-Prime Minister Tony Blair had been advising the Queen on the hostile mood in London, but she does not say anything she does not mean.
In the address, she displayed no sign of regret but she delivered two messages in a muted fashion: continuing authority — ‘As your Queen’ — and true sentiment — ‘something I say from the heart’.
On the day of the funeral, Queen Elizabeth did something unusual. When Princess Diana’s coffin passed by, she bowed her head as a mark of respect. She might have done that as a nod to public opinion.
The Queen carefully averted what could have easily turned into a crisis. The following week saw a calmer atmosphere in the capital and a gradual return to normality.
How to Be Queen: 63 Years and Counting concluded that if the next generation of Royals can master Queen Elizabeth’s ten secrets, our monarchy’s future is secure.
Many of us will pray, particularly today, that it is.
On Easter Sunday — March 27, 2016 — Mother Mary Angelica, foundress of EWTN, breathed her last. She was in excruciating pain on Good Friday.
Her soul is now with the Lord. She is at peace after coping with a stroke in late 2001 and subsequent illnesses that kept her out of the limelight since then.
Traditional Catholics are grateful for her legacy, that of the EWTN television channel, which she founded in 1981.
Mother Mary Angelica’s early life will surprise many who think that nuns were ‘born that way’.
Born on April 20, 1923, in Canton, Ohio, Rita Antoinette Rizzo was the only child of John and Mae Helen Rizzo (née Gianfrancesco). Industry in Canton at that time was booming. Consequently, the small city attracted many Italian immigrants.
Rizzo’s father worked as a tailor and left the family home when his daughter was very young. He and Mrs Rizzo divorced in 1929. Mother Mary Angelica later recalled that she and her mother lived:
like a pair of refugees. We were poor, hungry, and barely surviving on odd jobs before Mother learned the dry cleaning business as an apprentice to a Jewish tailor in our area. Even then, we pinched pennies just to keep food on the table.
At the age of 16, Rizzo helped her mother change jobs, which brought some financial relief.
Rizzo attended Canton McKinley High School, where she was one of the school’s first drum majorettes.
During her teenage years, she was stricken with an abdominal ailment which was not cured until shortly before her 20th birthday. Although she had been receiving extensive medical treatment, nothing worked. On the morning of January 18, 1943, she awoke to find she had no more pain. She attributed the cure to a healing ‘miracle’ performed by a Catholic faith healer. Deeply moved, she became a devout Catholic from that moment.
Called to the convent
In 1944, months after her cure, Rizzo went to a church to pray. As she prayed, she felt a calling to become a nun.
She spoke to a local Catholic priest who advised her to visit different convents to help her make a more informed decision about which order to join. She travelled some distance to Buffalo, New York, where she visited the Sisters of St Joseph. The sisters decided that Rizzo was better suited to the contemplative life.
On August 15, 1944, Rizzo, aged 21, entered the contemplative cloistered community of Saint Paul’s Shrine of Perpetual Adoration in Cleveland, part of the Poor Clare of Perpetual Adoration order. (Note in the photo below the small monstrance they wear.) She had felt at home on her visit there and accepted the sisters’ invitation to be a postulant.
Rizzo’s mother was most unhappy at this turn of events.
A year later, Rizzo was vested as a Poor Clare. The congregation gave her a new name, Mary Angelica of the Annunciation. A short time later, the Poor Clares opened a new monastery in Canton, and she was able to return to her home town.
In 1946, Sister Angelica had an accident with an industrial waxing machine. She fell, injuring her spine, which required her to wear leg braces for many years.
Feisty and innovative
She made her final vows as a Poor Clare on January 2, 1953. At that time, the civil rights movement was in its infancy; nonetheless, it captured Sister Angelica’s imagination. If she were cured of her chronic pain following the waxing machine accident, she silently vowed to open a new monastery. Her prayers were answered and she duly asked for her superior’s permission to establish a new monastery in Alabama in the hope that a community of religious could help to convert Protestant blacks to Roman Catholicism.
Permission granted, Sister Angelica began writing to various dioceses in the South to explain her project and request consent for building a new monastery. In 1957, the Archbishop of Mobile, the Most Revd Thomas Toolen, encouraged her to open a Franciscan one in Birmingham, Alabama. The Poor Clares are an order of Franciscan nuns.
The photo on the right, courtesy of Encyclopedia of Alabama, shows Sister Angelica, Archbishop Toolen and another Poor Clare discussing the project.
Amazingly, Sister Angelica and four other interested Poor Clares began making and selling fishing lures to pay for the monastery. The funding initiative, called St. Peter’s Fishing Lures, began in 1959. It was so successful that, by 1961, the nuns had made $13,000, which they used to purchase a two-bedroom house and 15 acres of land in the town of Irondale, Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham and, later, the location of the book Fried Green Tomatoes.
From there, financial contributions from individual donors and companies began rolling in.
Archbishop Toolen formally dedicated Our Lady of the Angels Monastery on May 20, 1962.
In 1999, the monastery relocated several miles away to Hanceville, to a new site, the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
In 1962, at Our Lady of the Angels, the now-Mother Angelica gave parlour talks on Catholicism to the general public. Those who attended remembered a gifted communicator and down-to-earth teacher.
Local Catholics thought her message deserved a wider audience. She began recording and selling 45-rpm records which contained lessons on Christian living. She also wrote booklets and later sold audio cassettes.
In the early 1970s, Bishop Joseph Vath of Birmingham urged Mother Angelica to begin lecturing outside the cloister. She started recording tapes of her teaching which were then broadcast on local radio. The Sunday morning broadcast was called Journey into Scripture.
Whilst it is unclear how many black Alabamians converted to Catholicism because of her efforts, with existing Catholics, Mother Angelica was a runaway success.
A local television station gave her a half-hour of airtime. By the end of the 1970s, Pat Robertson was airing her show on his satellite Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN).
Birth of EWTN
At the turn of the next decade, Mother Angelica visited a Chicago television studio and learned about its capabilities.
In 1981, she founded the non-profit Eternal Word Television Network, which initially broadcast out of a converted garage at the monastery.
Until 2002, Mother Angelica was Chairman and CEO of the corporation. She also had her own programme, Mother Angelica Live.
EWTN gradually grew to attract a global audience. It is unlikely that any adult Catholics today have not heard either of her or her network.
Raymond Arroyo, EWTN News’s Managing Editor and Mother Angelica’s biographer, said on Easter Sunday, following her death:
she was the only woman in television history to found and lead a cable network for 20 years.
The Vatican has long approved of EWTN and network executives say that they try to adhere to Vatican teachings.
However, that did not always mean Mother Angelica agreed with what was happening in the Catholic Church. She was not a fan of certain innovations during the 1980s and 1990s:
Mother Angelica’s outspokenness on church issues — her pet peeves were gender-neutral language in the liturgy and a change allowing girls to become altar servers — made her both friends and enemies among the Catholic faithful.
Battling the bishops
Mother Angelica’s traditionalist stances brought her into conflict with some American bishops.
In 1993, she strongly objected to a woman playing the role of Jesus in a Passion play during the World Youth Days that year. She deemed it ‘blasphemous’ and added:
I am so tired of you, liberal church in America. I resent you pushing your anti-Catholic, ungodly ways upon the masses of this country.
The controversial, ‘progressive’ Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee deemed her words ‘anti-Christian’ and ‘divisive’. The National Conference of Catholic Bishops took action, requesting that that particular segment of her programme not be rebroadcast. Mother Angelica flat out refused.
I’m afraid my obedience in that diocese would be absolutely zero. And I hope everybody else’s in that diocese is zero.
The cardinal accused her of disobedience and requested not only an apology but also a retraction.
Although Mother Angelica gave him a grudging apology, she overlaid that with a long televised explanation of her objections to his proposal.
The cardinal asked the Vatican to start looking into her teachings and EWTN programmes. They did. No disciplinary action was taken.
Meanwhile, EWTN’s audience further increased, as did donations from traditionalist Catholics. In 1994, The National Catholic Reporter estimated her annual donations were $25 million.
In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI awarded her the Cross of Honor for distinguished service:
It is the highest award a pope can give to a member of the laity, the term by which the church defines everyone except ordained priests.
I would think that Mother Angelica will eventually be canonised.
What she went through from Good Friday to Easter indicates that she was a very holy and godly woman. That she died on Easter further reinforces her specialness to our Lord.
Women in the Church
It is so discouraging to know that many men, especially American conservative Christians, say that there is no place for women in positions of leadership in the Church.
Mother Angelica’s life and example proves them wrong.
I hope that young women, whether Catholic or Protestant, see her as a role model for leadership in and faithfulness to the Church.
Whether they agree with her theologically has no bearing on how her example can be used to teach and accomplish the impossible. Who would have thought that making and selling fishing lures would have led to a multi-million dollar non-profit Christian broadcasting empire?
The Church belongs to women, too. Ladies, use your God-given talents and faith to make a difference to your fellow Christians.
Over the past few days, illuminating articles have appeared about Nancy Reagan, who died on Sunday, March 6, 2016.
Before addressing these, however, Mitt Romney’s Facebook tribute to her would have been better received by his fellow Republicans had he not given a speech in Utah a few days before to banjax Donald Trump’s candidacy. And what about the secret meeting in South Carolina which followed at the weekend whilst Nancy Reagan was dying? The airwaves in Florida during that time were bombarded with various Republican PAC-financed negative advertising, the tone of which astonished even the irrepressible Trump himself. Many of Mitt’s Facebook commenters were angry that he violated Ronald Reagan’s first principle of conservatism: don’t criticise other conservatives, even if you disagree with them. I’ve read that Mitt has lost thousands of Facebook ‘friends’ with his hypocrisy.
Two of the articles cited below — one from Real Clear Politics and the other from the New York Times — were written by Lou Cannon, a journalist that Nancy held at arm’s length at first. He soon became a close confidant of hers. They knew each other for 50 years. Their longstanding friendship shows that Nancy was willing to change her mind and adapt to circumstances — wisely.
Whatever one thinks of Nancy Reagan, one cannot fault her as First Lady or as the devoted wife to one of America’s most popular presidents in living memory.
First Lady of California
Ronald Wilson Reagan began his first term as Governor in January 1967.
This involved moving his family from Pacific Palisades in southern California to the state capital of Sacramento. The Governor’s Mansion was in a dire state. In fact, it was a firetrap. Nancy and two of the Reagan children spent much of their time there initially.
As if that weren’t bad enough, Nancy was suspicious of the press, which was not surprising, as she knew how awful reporters could be, having been part of the Hollywood set.
Years before, in 1949, as Nancy Davis, she was at risk of losing her career, having been named as one of the actors who signed a brief to have the convictions of two screenwriters deemed to be Communist overturned. Fortunately, her friend, director Mervyn LeRoy, was able to establish that another actress of the same name signed the brief. As dark as those days must have been for her at the time, that was how she met Ronald Reagan, who was president of the Screen Actors Guild at the time. LeRoy arranged a meeting between the two because Nancy wanted to clear her name in person. It was love at first sight. They began dating in earnest in 1950 and got married on March 4, 1952, at the Little Brown Church in Studio City. Actor William Holden and his wife Ardis were the couple’s witnesses.
Years later in Sacramento, Nancy was astonished at the fulsome press coverage her husband’s adversaries received.
Lou Cannon remembers that she also loathed the hypocrisy of politicians:
She wondered how they could say terrible things about her husband on the floor of the legislature during the day and then socialize with them at night as if nothing had happened.
Personally, I wonder about that, too, when I read that the Bushes and the Clintons are really close. One can imagine that Jeb and Hillary vying in this year’s election would have been a desirable outcome for both families.
Cannon writes that Nancy decided to adapt to her new circumstances by not only memorising the names of every California legislator but also learning something about them. She turned a negative situation into a positive one.
By the time Ronald Reagan began his second term as governor, contributors had financed a more comfortable house for him and his family. The contributors owned the house and leased it to him.
At a reception there for freshman legislators in 1973, Nancy introduced herself to Democrat Lou Papan and his wife. Their son was seriously ill. Nancy told them that her (adoptive) father — Loyal Davis — was a doctor. She spent some time talking with them about their son. Whilst there was nothing she could do about the Papans’ son’s illness, by knowing something about them, she was able to comfort them during a difficult time. Cannon remembers:
They later lost their son but never forgot how empathetic Mrs. Reagan had been.
During those years, Nancy learned to cope with the press and socialise with the wives of men who had insulted her husband in the course of politics.
Negative press began early and went national. In 1968, author Joan Didion and her husband John Gregory Dunne wrote a hit piece for the Saturday Evening Post, now defunct but a popular magazine of its time. My grandparents subscribed to it. Cannon recalls:
The article described Mrs. Reagan’s famous smile as a study in frozen insecurity.
However, Cannon points out that Nancy received positive press, too. A few months after the Saturday Evening Post article, the Los Angeles Times published an article, ‘Nancy Reagan: A Model First Lady’. Other media coverage praised her welcoming home recently released prisoners of war from Vietnam and her Foster Grandparents Program for mentally disabled children.
Ronald Reagan’s first attempt at presidential nomination
Watergate exploded in 1974. Ronald Reagan did not seek re-election. Jerry ‘Governor Moonbeam’ Brown, son of Reagan’s predecessor, won the gubernatorial election that year and assumed office in January 1975.
It was during this time, back home in Pacific Palisades, that Nancy began to play a greater part in influencing her husband’s political career.
In May 1974, Reagan was already planning to run as a candidate in the 1976 presidential election. The Reagans held a meeting of supporters. Among them was John P Sears, a well-established Washington lawyer who had worked on Richard Nixon’s campaign in 1960. He told the Reagans that Nixon would stand down, which he did on August 9.
Nancy never forgot Sears’s prediction, so when it came time for her husband to begin putting his bid together for the 1976 election, she urged him to hire Sears to direct the campaign. Reagan lost the Republican nomination narrowly to Gerald Ford, who then lost the election to the Democrat, Jimmy Carter.
It makes me wonder whether we will see a rerun this year of close delegate totals. Reagan was very popular in 1976 and Ford was thought to be a bit of a wimp. However, Reagan was seen to be very conservative at the time, a view which changed four years later after the Carter debacle — the Iran hostage crisis.
By 1980, Sears was back on the scene. However, Nancy had second thoughts. Deeming him ‘disruptive’, according to Cannon, she recommended that he be fired and replaced by William J Casey, who later headed the CIA in the Reagan administration. Yet, during the campaign, Nancy didn’t think Casey was the right man, either. Cannon tells us (emphases mine):
Mrs. Reagan became critical of Mr. Casey and urged her husband to bring in Mr. Spencer, who had run Mr. Reagan’s first campaign for governor. Mr. Spencer was persona non grata in the Reagan camp because he had managed Mr. Ford’s campaign in 1976. But Mr. Reagan followed his wife’s advice. Mr. Spencer joined the campaign and ran it smoothly.
She might have been correct in that matter, but Cannon points out that Nancy’s advice was not always on target:
For instance, she opposed Mr. Spencer’s proposal that her husband debate President Carter. Mr. Reagan decided to debate and did so well that he surged ahead in the polls and won convincingly a week later.
Assassination attempt 1981
Ronald Reagan had barely begun his presidency — incidentally, Iran released the American hostages on Inauguration Day — when John Hinckley Jr attempted to assassinate him on March 30, 1981.
Dan Friedman’s article for The Atlantic explains how this potentially tragic event altered Nancy’s views on guns:
The former actress and wife of GOP standard-bearer Ronald Reagan sometimes kept a pistol in her nightstand when her husband was out of town. But after a personal brush with gun violence, she began to change her mind.
Minutes after John Hinckley Jr. fired a handgun six times at her husband, a Secret Service agent incorrectly told Nancy Reagan that all the shots had missed the president. When she found out that her husband was in critical condition—a bullet fragment had entered his left lung, barely missing his heart—she was shocked.
“He was so white. I have never seen anybody so white,” she later recalled. “And he had that thing over his face to help him breathe, and there was blood.”
She never forgot that horrible day. In a 1994 interview, she said:
There is nothing that can describe your husband being shot and the emotions that you go through. It’s something that never leaves you.
Although Reagan maintained that guns were not the problem, people were, Nancy continued to persuade him that gun control was the way forward. In 1991, by which time George H W Bush was in office, Reagan gave a speech emphasising the responsibility people had in bearing firearms. He came out in support of the 1993 Brady Bill under the Clinton administration. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer says today that the former president’s advocacy greatly helped the bill to be voted into law.
I have been thinking a lot recently about this assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan’s life. Mitt made his anti-Trump address last week at the Hinckley Institute in Utah. The name started me free associating, even though there might not be any sort of family relationship there.
When it happened — and even today — it appeared to be a random act. That said, John Hinckley Jr’s Wikipedia Talk page has recurring references to the Bush family. George H W Bush was Reagan’s VP. He was also one of Reagan’s opponents in the 1980 GOP primary race.
One prays that any connection between Hinckley Jr’s crimes and Hinckley family relationships with the Bushes are entirely coincidental. Rense.com has an excerpt of a longer article by Tom Flocco, which states:
Curiously, only one time was it announced on the news about the connections between the Bush and Hinckley families: An almost bewildered John Chancellor on NBC Nightly News reported “the bizarre coincidence” that Vice President Bush’s son, Neil, and Scott Hinckley had dinner plans for March 31, 1981 — now cancelled, of course.
That was to talk about oil pricing issues, by the way. Scott Hinckley is John Jr’s brother.
Incidentally, in 2016, Neil Bush has been working on Rafael ‘Ted’ Cruz’s finance team.
Let us pray such a thing never happens again. I remember the shock we all felt, as we also remembered the Kennedy assassination in November 1963.
First Lady of the United States
By the time Ronald Reagan was sworn into office, Nancy Reagan understood how the political world worked.
She crossed the aisle to make friends among the Democrats.
Those who were alive at the time will recall the political sparring between Speaker of the House Thomas P ‘Tip’ O’Neill and President Reagan. Yet, as they were friends after hours, so too was Nancy with Millie O’Neill.
Nancy took her duties as First Lady seriously. Whilst she had many critics and negative stories often appeared in the press, she carried herself with grace, poise and elegance. Never once did she look anything less than well dressed. Whilst she was demanding with her husband’s staff, she adhered to White House protocol and was a perfect hostess to fellow American and foreign dignitaries alike.
The most negative thing I remember about her in the White House was redecorating part of it and buying new china during a time of recession. Lou Cannon explains that these improvements were privately funded, which many of us (myself included) did not know:
After one look at the White House living quarters, Mrs. Reagan decided to redo them. She then raised $822,000 from private contributors to accomplish this. Another contributor put up more than $200,000 to buy a set of presidential china, enough for 220 place settings; it was the first new set in the White House since the Johnson administration.
In 1987, during her husband’s second term in office, Nancy had to have a mastectomy of her left breast. She gave interviews about the experience and urged women to have regular mammograms.
Devoted wife until the end
Nancy and Ronald Reagan had a very close, loyal relationship with each other.
In 1994, the former president was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He and Nancy composed a letter to make his condition public to the American people.
Nancy then organised ongoing lunches and get-togethers with friends so that they could all reminisce together. Cannon says Nancy described the next decade as a ‘long goodbye’.
She also became a staunch advocate for research into cures for Alzheimer’s.
She was at her husband’s side throughout his ten-year illness. She loved him deeply.
Lou Cannon describes June 11, 2004, the day of the former president’s funeral:
At Mr. Reagan’s funeral, at the National Cathedral in Washington, she remained in tight control of her emotions. Then she flew west with the coffin for a burial service at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., where Mrs. Reagan will also be buried. At the conclusion of the ceremony, at sunset, soldiers and sailors handed Mrs. Reagan a folded American flag. She held it close to her heart, put it down on the coffin, and at last began to cry.
Before her burial on March 10, people travelled far and wide to line the route to pay their final respects to the wife of America’s 40th president.
Nancy and Ronald Reagan served their country proudly and responsibly.
They also served — and loved — each other in marriage, through adversity, sickness and health.
May we, in our own circumstances, do likewise.
Yesterday, one of my readers, underground pewster, sent in the Yahoo!News link to the horrifying fatal stabbing of a Swedish social worker at a youth home for male refugees in Molndal, southwest Sweden.
Her murderer is a 15-year-old.
I replied that the young woman probably considered her work as a vocation.
It turns out she did.
The Daily Mail revealed that Alexandra Mehzer, 22, the daughter of Lebanese immigrants, anticipated returning to university to earn a Master’s degree in social science. One of her cousins described her as:
She told Swedish media: ‘It is so terrible. She was a person who wanted to do good, who wanted to be good.
‘And then he murdered her when she was doing her job. We have cried a lot. She was such a nice person, warm and happy.’
Alexandra’s mother, Cheméne Mehzer, said the same, adding that her daughter was
a just and fair human being. There were so many who loved her. She was my daughter, my friend.. my mate.
The fatal attack took place before 8 a.m. on January 25, 2016, when the attacker set upon her. Alexandra had been working at the small refugee centre for only a few months. The centre accommodates ten ‘unaccompanied’ youths between the ages of 14 and 17.
It is unclear where the other nine youths were at the time. However, soon after the attack happened, a group of them overcame the boy and held him until the police arrived. He was arrested on suspicion of murder.
Alexandra was rushed to hospital in Gothenburg, but doctors were unable to save her.
Police spokesman Thomas Fuxborg gave no information on the assailant’s nationality or motive. However, he did tell Swedish media:
These kinds of calls are becoming more and more common.
We’re dealing with more incidents like these since the arrival of so many more refugees from abroad.
Alexandra’s murder took place as National Police Commissioner Dan Eliasson requested 4,100 extra officers and support staff to cope with the recent spate of attacks and criminal activity on the part of newcomers to Sweden. Deportation is a real possibility, provided it can be arranged with the home country.
Eliasson said (emphases mine):
We are forced to respond to many disturbances in asylum reception centres. In some places, this takes significant police resources.
This was not the case six months ago and it means that we won’t be able to respond as effectively in other areas.
The Mail tells us:
According to the Swedish Migration Agency, the number of threats and violent incidents at asylum facilities more than doubled between 2014 and 2015.
In 2014, there were 148 incidents but in 2015 that number jumped to 322.
The article says that police are also struggling with spontaneous arson attacks on asylum facilities, stricter border controls introduced on January 4 and the higher terrorist threat level as a result of the Paris attacks last November.
Police union director Lena Nitz explained that Swedish police have long been underfunded and understaffed. She said:
It is obvious that the migrant situation is a great strain. It has become clear that the situation is completely unsustainable.
Last year, Sweden, with a population of 9.8m, took in 160,000 asylum seekers in 2015. Since then, the government has tightened asylum rules.
However, in Stockholm, unaccompanied migrant minors — boys — are already wreaking havoc at the capital’s largest aquatics centre Eriksdalsbadet and at the central railway station.
Over the past three weeks, four cases involving girls under the age of 18 have been filed. These are complaints of indecent assault experienced at Eriksdalsbadet. The incidents took place in hot tubs, swimming pools and in the changing rooms.
Another Mail article discusses the Moroccan boys’ gangs which are making Stockholm’s central railway station a no-go zone. The fearless groups of children are not above attacking security guards, either.
Police estimate there may be 200 youths in total. Some are only nine years old.
It is thought that the youths have run away from state homes for juvenile migrants. In the centre of Stockholm, they can live as they please on the streets, earning their way by stealing and amusing themselves with assaults on girls and young women.
One Stockholm police officer said:
These guys are a huge problem for us. They steal stuff everywhere and assault security guards at the central station …
They grope girls between their legs, and slap them in the face when they protest. All police officers are aware of this.
I would never let my children go to the central station. No officer would.
The theory behind this situation is explained in an article about Pakistani Muslim attacks on innocent Christian girls — a horrifying and highly recommended read.
The article quotes the late Majid Khadduri, the founder of Johns Hopkins’s SAIS Middle East Studies Program. He held a variety of ministerial roles in the Middle East then taught at SAIS from 1950 until 1980. He died in 2007 at the age of 98. He was widely respected for his knowledge of Muslim law and society. He explained the thinking behind the Muslim spoils of war:
The term spoil (ghanima) is applied specifically to property acquired by force from non-Muslims. It includes, however, not only property (movable and immovable) but also persons, whether in the capacity of asra (prisoners of war) or sabi (women and children). … If the slave were a woman, the master was permitted to have sexual connection with her as a concubine.
This belief has been applied against non-Muslims, ‘infidels’, in various European nations over the years and has escalated this year.
Westerners see the acceptance of migrants as being compassionate and merciful.
Young migrants might well see it as an invitation for invasion and an opportunity to exploit.
And where are the Christian refugees in all of this? Should we not have taken them in first then made a considered decision about Muslim migrants later?
Yesterday’s post examined the war-like robberies, grievous bodily harm and indecent or sexual assaults of hundreds of Germans who gathered in Cologne on New Year’s Eve 2015.
Other European countries embracing multiculturalism have also had similar episodes of shorter and longer duration. Because the perpetrators are of a certain world faith, a policy of omerta has descended on discussing the violation of young European women, which, in turn, extends to authorities ignoring it altogether.
Two of these countries are England and Sweden, where talking about a socio-sexual culture clash invites various responses. The mildest is one of verbal abuse, including being deemed ‘racist’. However, even fathers who try to rescue their daughters can be arrested, as will be explained below.
Why some embraced multiculturalism
In the days before conservative strains of Islam dominated the Middle East and parts of Asia, Westerners viewed those nations such as being exotic, hearkening back to ancient days of adventure and romanticism.
Europeans who were university students or well off sometimes travelled to these distant lands. They were favourably impressed by what they saw in an ancient world courtesy that did not exist anywhere else.
Theodore Dalrymple (a pseudonym) is a retired physician and psychiatrist who worked in England’s prison system for many years. His books and his columns in The Spectator and City Journal describing his experiences are must-reads.
In 2004, City Journal published his reminiscences of travelling to Iran and Afghanistan as a student (probably in the early to mid-1970s). Dalrymple concluded at the time:
On the whole I was favorably impressed. I thought that they were freer than we. I thought nothing of such matters as the clash of civilizations, and experienced no desire, and felt no duty, to redeem them from their way of life in the name of any of my own civilization’s ideals. Impressed by the aesthetics of Afghanistan and unaware of any fundamental opposition or tension between the modern and the pre-modern, I saw no reason why the West and Afghanistan should not rub along pretty well together, each in its own little world, provided only that each respected the other.
We all know how that turned out.
And, as we also know, fundamentalist Islam has spread throughout most Muslim nations. Any Westernised social influence on the 57 Muslim states has waned considerably since the late 1970s. This affects the type of Muslim emigrating to Europe.
Dalrymple has this observation:
The Muslim immigrants to these areas were not seeking a new way of life when they arrived; they expected to continue their old lives, but more prosperously.
He wrote that English prisons had a growing number of Muslims who were incarcerated. In this essay of 2004, he noted that they were relaxed about their faith. Although he acknowledges they had very conservative ideas about women, on the other hand:
Confounding expectations, these prisoners display no interest in Islam whatsoever; they are entirely secularized …
The young Muslim men in prison do not pray; they do not demand halal meat. They do not read the Qu’ran. They do not ask to see the visiting imam. They wear no visible signs of piety …
How things have changed.
Today, Muslim prisoners ask for — and receive — a number of faith-based concessions, including prayer meetings and halal meat. Interestingly, this New York Times article indicates they already existed in 2004:
prisons in England and Wales hold regular Friday Prayer and provide halal food in the daily diet.
By 2009, Muslims got their own cells so they did not have to be with non-Muslims in close surroundings.
Outside of prison walls, over the past several years, a number of larger companies in England have also installed special foot-washing facilities in washrooms, take care with what is served at corporate lunches and cater to prayer times, including allocating a special Muslim-only room.
At least 1,400 girls were victims of sexual exploitation.
The authorities — police and Labour Party member councillors, men and women alike — knew about it and did nothing.
It was thought that bringing it to light would encourage racism — a backlash from the town’s English population.
It is interesting — admittedly, perhaps coincidental — that the abuse, abductions and torture began in the year a Labour government was elected: 1997.
Labour were voted out of a parliamentary majority only in 2010. Oddly, again, perhaps coincidentally, that same year saw the first — perhaps only — convictions that carried prison sentences. Five men were jailed. Three of them are now back in society, having done their time.
In 2013, the Coalition government (Conservative-Liberal Democrat) appointed Professor Alexis Jay as the head of an independent enquiry into the Rotherham scandal. In 2014, Jay published a report on the enquiry’s findings. A handful of senior councillors and civil servants resigned as a result, including the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire.
Prior to this, victims or family members who spoke out or tried to bring the scandal to light ended up being threatened, harrassed or arrested:
- A victim, Girl J, now 30, told Sheffield Crown Court in January 2016 that social workers threatened to take her children away if she gave any further press interviews regarding her experiences in the hands of one of the perpetrators;
- Two fathers who attempted to rescue their daughters from their abusers were themselves arrested — with no arrests made of the abusers, according to the Jay report;
- The Jay report also disclosed that abusers threatened violence against young girls who wanted to testify; at least two families suffered harassment outside their houses, including broken windows; and other young victims returned to their abusers in the hope that would keep their families safe.
Other grooming gangs have also operated in other cities and towns across England.
We need to be very careful how we treat crimes termed to be either traditional behaviour or hearsay from dysfunctional girls.
It is unfortunate that, up until the Jay report was published, no one could mention this appalling scandal online or offline. I know of no one of my acquaintance who talked about it. Online, the most people could reasonably do was to make an oblique reference simply to ‘Rotherham’.
The Swedes are like the English in not talking about multicultural indecent or sexual assaults. Whether these are rapes in cities or crimes committed at organised events, the national response seems to be, ‘Nothing to see here, move along’.
However, the events in Cologne at last opened the way.
This year, it emerged that, in 2014 and 2015, young women were indecently and sexually assaulted at the summer music festival for youth in Stockholm, We Are Sthlm.
BBC Newsnight recently interviewed a police spokesman, the organiser of the event and a member of the Swedish Democrats (SD), a political party opposed to mass immigration:
Katie Razzall, reporting, explains that a number of girls who attended the festival — 17 in 2014 and 19 in 2015 — reported crimes against their person at the time, but it has only been now, in the aftermath of Cologne, that their complaints are coming to light.
Police kept quiet about the complaints because the perpetrators were allegedly young Afghan refugees.
Varg Gyllander of the Stockholm Police told Razzall that there was no cover-up because the police do not reveal racial or cultural details of suspects. He added:
It’s a cultural thing, we don’t go there, we don’t go in those dark places.
Roger Ticalou, who organises the festival, said that there were small groups of young men whose ‘only goal’ was to harrass young women.
Razzall mentioned she’d spoken with the police officer in charge of patrolling the Stockholm festival. Whilst we did not see him on film, he told Razzall that he did not want to publicise the ethnicity of the alleged assailants for fear that would:
play into the hands of the Swedish Democrats.
Over the past few months, and especially during the past three weeks, the SD have been gaining popular support, at least to the extent that more Swedes are realising that perhaps the party’s pronouncements are not racist after all, only based in the reality they can see for themselves on television and in the media.
Razzall interviewed Paula Bieler from the SD. Bieler gave intelligent, balanced responses. She said she did not blame the men as much as she did the culture in which they grew up and expected to continue to live in as adults. She said that Sweden has never before had a gang rape culture or episodes of mass indecent/sexual assault until now.
Around the same time as Razzall’s report, an article appeared in Nyheter Idag (‘i-Daily News’ (?)) which exposes how Dagens Nyheter (‘Daily News’), one of Sweden’s biggest newspapers, refused to report on what happened at the festival.
Nyheter Idag was appalled that, until Cologne happened, the paper ignored the assaults at We Are Sthlm. Now Dagens Nyheter opines:
The mere suspicion that the abuse has been considered as difficult to describe involves a betrayal of the victims.
However, as Nyheter Idag explains in detail, a police psychologist who was an eyewitness at the 2015 concert said he contacted one of Dagens Nyheter‘s investigative journalists — a woman, Hanne Kjöller — who pussyfooted around in several exchanges with him, making excuses as to why she and the paper could not run the story.
The psychologist revealed the reason:
She was very interested and listened until I told her that all the boys and men that were apprehended were young asylants (unaccompanied is the terminology used by Swedish authorities) from Afghanistan and Syria. I sensed that she changed the tone (of her voice).
The journalist from Nyheter Idag notes with irony:
Time passes and a new year begins – it’s now 2016 and the brutal and massive sexual assaults against young girls that August evening in Kungsträdgården is completely unknown to the public.
But then something happens, a rumor that goes viral on blogs in Germany spreads to the so-called “alternative media” in Sweden. After a day, traditional media in both Germany and other European countries start to report on the same issue.
It is, of course, the Sex Attacks in Cologne on New Year’s Eve …
Now something happens at newspaper Dagens Nyheter …
January, Saturday 9th 2016 Dagens Nyheter runs an article with the headline “Women’s right to party safely cannot be sacrificed”. The article is written by freelance writer Lasse Wierup, Hanne Kjöller’s colleague at Dagens Nyheter. In the article the incident in Kungsträdgården is now mentioned for the very first time …
More to-ing and fro-ing went on between the psychologist and Hanne Kjöller after Wierup’s article appeared. The psychologist had also contacted:
two other media outlets through e-mail to tell his account of the incident in Kungsträdgården. He didn’t get any response, thus he gave up on noticing media about what took place last summer.
Why does that not come as a surprise?
It seems that Western women can be safely sacrificed on the altar of Multiculturalism.
After all, they are ‘only’ women. Even other women — those in privileged left-wing positions, such as media — think that way.
These two events in England and Sweden demonstrate one of the things leftist men and women and fundamentalist Muslims have in common: a blatant disregard for women and girls.
One wonders whether the events in Cologne on the last evening of 2015 would have seen the light of day around the world had they not been reported on independent socio-political websites.
Although a Cologne newspaper and German media outlets covered the evening to some degree at the New Year, elsewhere, it took until January 4 or 5 for the story to emerge in mainstream media.
The BBC’s coverage is dated January 5. It provides a good overview of what happened, although it does not explain why German men were unable to fight back or defend their women. Excerpts follow, emphases mine:
The scale of the attacks on women at the city’s central railway station has shocked Germany. About 1,000 drunk and aggressive young men were involved.
City police chief Wolfgang Albers called it “a completely new dimension of crime”. The men were of Arab or North African appearance, he said.
Women were also targeted in Hamburg.
But the Cologne assaults – near the city’s iconic cathedral – were the most serious, German media report. At least one woman was raped, and many were groped.
Most of the crimes reported to police were robberies. A volunteer policewoman was among those sexually molested.
The page has a video where:
One woman described how a firecracker put in her hood has left her scarred for life.
One man described how his partner and 15-year-old daughter were surrounded by an enormous crowd outside the station and he was unable to help. “The attackers grabbed her and my partner’s breasts and groped them between their legs.”
A British woman visiting Cologne said fireworks had been thrown at her group by men who spoke neither German nor English. “They were trying to hug us, kiss us. One man stole my friend’s bag,” she told the BBC. “Another tried to get us into his ‘private taxi’. I’ve been in scary and even life-threatening situations and I’ve never experienced anything like that.”
What the report leaves out about the man unable to help is that some of these men were also set upon by groups of men who assaulted and robbed them.
To date, according to The Guardian, 838 people have filed criminal complaints. These include 497 of these being from women alleging sexual assault, however, some women jointly filed a complaint. This means that, in total:
the number of alleged crimes stands at 766, of which 381 are sexual offences, including three rapes.
As of January 18, only 21 suspects have been arrested. These include three Algerian asylum seekers. One of them is charged with sexual assault and the other two with robbery. Eighteen other people have been accused of committing crime on New Year’s Eve. Eight of them are currently in custody.
On Monday, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) agreed to declare Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia safe countries. This means that anyone from there would be very unlikely to be able to claim asylum. Finally.
More on the story
Russia Today has a very good 27-minute report on what took place in Cologne:
The British reporter interviewed a local bouncer — a martial arts champion — who was on duty at a 5-star hotel in the same square as the cathedral and the railway station. He figured it would be a quiet but festive night, as only people aged 40 and over could afford to spend a few hundred euros to attend the New Year’s Eve event at the hotel.
He tells the interviewer (approximately 2:00 into the video) that between 9 and 10 p.m., a stabbing took place in the square. Police and ambulances rushed to the scene. From that point, he said that things ‘escalated’ (subtitles from the video, caps below in the original):
these people that we welcomed just 3 months ago, with teddy bears and water bottles on the Munich main railway station, they started shooting at the dome [Cologne Cathedral], started shooting at the police, which then had to come equipped with helmets onto the dome platform, to brake that potential for violence.
Well, seasoned police officers then confessed to me, that they never saw [any]thing like this in their entire life. They called it quote ‘A CIVIL WAR LIKE SITUATION’.
He deplores the lack of thorough press coverage of the evening, especially as:
again and again female persons came to me and asked if they could just stand next to me, so I could look after them — still didn’t quite know what that was all about — and said, ‘We are being chased by these and [those] guys. Well, these guys that chased them, then really tried to attack me. I beat ’em all up, I have to tell you honestly … [B]ecause I never witnessed [any]thing like this, I always thought this stuff was some ‘right wing propaganda’ but this was all REAL.
Later that evening, more rampages happened. They beat the sh*t out of the head from a guy that was lying on the ground, they then jumped on his head, riot police came on site and we also started to react.
After that, the bouncer says, things were quieter for the next 90 minutes. The suspects were rounded up but, as all police transport vehicles were occupied, none came to take the men away. And, even if they had, Cologne’s jail cells were already full. As a result, police had to release these men they had arrested and detained. They, in turn, began yelling obscenities at the police and spat on the windscreens of the police cars. There was nothing the police could do in those circumstances.
The bouncer went on to say:
I never witnessed anything like this before and I’m sure it will escalate further — by Carnival [pre-Lenten celebrations] at the latest in Cologne … It will really explode here!
And I hope, well, you do know that I’m no right wing person or something along those lines … I always stayed out of that stuff … No, folks, this was REAL! …
They attacked the hotel guests, they sp[a]t at the hotel guests, they sp[a]t at the police …
A number of assailants carried a small piece of paper with a list of several obscenities in German with Arabic translations. You can still see a large version of it here on a German media site.
Elsewhere in Germany
The Telegraph has a list of other German cities — and towns — where similar events took place that same night. Sexual or indecent assault was the common denominator in all cases. Near the town of Weil am Rhein on the Swiss-German border, two girls aged 14 and 15 were held captive for several hours and allegedly gang raped by a 21-year old man and two 14-year-old boys.
In the days that followed
The Telegraph reported that Bild and Der Spiegel leaked police reports of interviews with the unrepentant suspects allegedly saying there was nothing police could do to them:
… one of those involved told officers: “I am Syrian. You have to treat me kindly. Mrs Merkel invited me.”
Another tore up his residence permit before the eyes of police, and told them: “You can’t do anything to me, I can get a new one tomorrow.”
On January 8, Wolfgang Albers was removed as Cologne’s police chief. He is currently suspended from duty. The Telegraph told us:
Wolfang Albers was told he was being suspended from duty as allegations continue to mount of a police cover-up of asylum-seekers’ involvement in the attacks.
Ralf Jäger,the interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia state, said his decision to suspend Mr Albers was “necessary to regain the public’s trust”.
“The Cologne police now have the vital task of investigating the events of New Year’s Eve. People rightly want to know what happened, who the perpetrators were and how such incidents can be prevents in the future,” Mr Jäger said.
The new mayor of Cologne, Henriette Reker, about whom I wrote in October 2015, was equally reprehensible in insinuating that the assaults were the fault of the women victims.
I’ll get to that in a moment.
However, prior to her election last October, she had been the head of Cologne’s social integration department for five years. Just days before the mayoral elections, a 44-year-old German said to have been opposed to further immigration stabbed her in the neck. He also lightly injured three other people with her at the time.
After New Year’s Eve, Reker advised women to adopt a new ‘code of conduct’ to keep themselves safe. This also involved ‘keeping men at arm’s length’. The Telegraph‘s Alison Pearson unpacks this for us:
It soon became impossible to ignore the gravity of what had happened. Even then, the authorities’ default position was denial. On Tuesday, Henriette Reker, the Mayor of Cologne, made a statement which I sincerely hope will haunt her till her dying day. Asked how women were supposed to cope with this menace, the mayor proposed a new “code of conduct” for young women and girls “so that such things do not happen to them”. In particular, she suggested that women maintain an arm’s length from strangers. This caused a storm of sarcasm on Twitter where the German for arm’s length – #einearmlange – was soon trending. The idea that a woman ambushed by a Moroccan gang should inform them, politely and Germanically, that she was staying at arm’s length to avoid sexual harassment would have been a joke, had the threat not been so real and frightening. Meanwhile, reports of similar attacks were coming in from Hamburg, Dusseldorf and Stuttgart.
if anyone needs a “code of conduct” it is not German women, but men from conservative societies who must learn sharpish what our values entail, or return from whence they came.
I hope that I am wrong, but I fear that the grotesque mass attack on women in Cologne was not an isolated incident, but the first of many battles in a clash of civilisations.
A new term entered Western vocabulary which explains what happened on New Year’s Eve not only in Germany but also in a few other European countries, including Finland.
This Arabic term is taharrush gamea, or taharrush jamaʿi, which, is, as Wikipedia explains:
a type of sexual harassment and sexual assault of women by groups of men on the street that may involve rape, beating and name-calling, groping, sexual invitations and robbery. The assault usually happens under the protective cover provided by large gatherings or crowds, typically mass events, including protests, rallies, concerts, and public festivals.
American reporter Lara Logan was the unfortunate victim of taharrush gamea in Egypt during Arab Spring. Whilst such brutality shocked Westerners, to a segment of Egyptian men, it was perfectly normal. In fact, Eid — a holy but joyful religious day for Muslims — is also a time for sexual assaults in Egypt, namely in 2006.
Wikipedia goes on to say:
Early on Egyptian security forces were blamed for using sexual harassment on female activists and participants of public demonstrations and rallies. The behavior then spread and was used by crowds of young men to harass women in public spaces. According to Farhana Mayer, senior researcher at the Quilliam Foundation, theology department, Taharrush is a symptom of misogynous ideology in which women are punished for being in public.
Since the Paris attacks in November, those who were previously more or less indifferent to migrants — the vast majority of whom are young, healthy men — are now beginning to examine the situation more closely.
The events in Cologne have only added to this. Spiegel Online has an excellent analysis in English.
An article in The Week explains that several things could happen in 2016 that would see the European immigration ideal turned on its head. Hungary and Poland have moved towards more conservative politics, and Slovakian politicians have said that recent migrants are unlikely to be integrated into broader society.
Elsewhere, questions are now being asked about the wisdom of Angela Merkel’s policies.
In the UK, we should be having a referendum on our membership of the EU this year.
May wise leadership — and voting — prevail.