The difference between racism and sexism is…?


Read these and then guess which one is the unchanged – and acceptable one.

My black, adopted son is at University. He came down this weekend with his girlfriend to visit and to bring some stuff down from his Residence Hall before finishing up this year and moving back for the summer. He related this story to me;

He was walking home from his girlfriend’s Residence Hall at about midnight. A pretty fast clip, but just walking. Another guy, white, came down some stairs and started walking in front of him. He was probably 12 feet or so behind him at this point. But realize, he was already on the sidewalk – he turned in front of him.

As they are going along he notices that he speeds up considerably. Eventually pumping up the speed to a jog. Simply because he was a black guy, walking behind him. He felt terrible. He told me he didn’t want to say anything to him to assuage his fear because he might get even more spooked.

He is finishing up a semester in Race Studies – he is one of two blacks in the class. He said this experience bothered him so much that he wants to spearhead a chapter of Blacks Against Mugging at his University next year. It may happen, it may not; but this mom couldn’t be prouder of her son.

When he finished his story, all I really said was, “This is white people’s reality.” I could see how that impacted him even further.


My son is at University. He came down this weekend with his girlfriend to visit and to bring some stuff down from his Residence Hall before finishing up this year and moving back for the summer. He related this story to me;

He was walking home from his girlfriend’s Residence Hall at about midnight. A pretty fast clip, but just walking. Another girl came down some stairs and started walking in front of him. He was probably 12 feet or so behind her at this point. But realize, he was already on the sidewalk – she turned in front of him.

As they are going along he notices that she speeds up considerably. Eventually pumping up the speed to a jog. Simply because he was a man, walking behind her. He felt terrible. He told me he didn’t want to say anything to her to assuage her fear because she might get even more afraid.

He is finishing up a semester in Women’s Studies – he is one of two men in the class. He said this experience bothered him so much that he wants to spearhead a chapter of Men Against Violence at his University next year. It may happen, it may not; but this mom couldn’t be prouder of her son.

When he finished his story, all I really said was, “This is our reality.” I could see how that impacted him even further.


Would we ever see black men, despite the disproportionate statistics and prison numbers (yes, there are reasons for this including racism and disproportionate poverty), tacitly accepting that people are afraid they’re thieves and muggers? Internalising this as somehow their fault and that they should act passively and show concern for people who are scared of them because they are black? Of course we wouldn’t. That’s an example of prejudice, despite the way some statistics can be spun to rationalise the ‘threat’ that they represent. Quite rightly we object to and reject this kind of stereotyping just as we do racial profiling for terrorism threat assessment.

Change race to gender though and suddenly we’re supposed to tacitly accept that we’re scary and nasty. That simply because we’re male we’re a threat and deserve to be treated as though we’re guilty before we’ve even done anything. This is just as unacceptable and yet unlike the example above men are willing to line up to agree that they should be treated with prejudice, with fear that they somehow deserve it just because of their Y chromosome.

This was a real post, made by an otherwise reasonable human being and supported by people who are otherwise reasonable human beings, including men. It was a public post and I have stripped out names etc so hopefully this isn’t overstepping any marks but it was jaw-droppingly insensitive and prejudiced. Any solution to these problems is not going to be met by simply reversing the direction of prejudice.

The Kalamatous intent of WLC

More Twitter discussions, this time with JustinRGrice.

Justin is a fan of that terrible human being, William Lane Craig who is well known for a) excusing genocide and b) continually restating the Kalam cosmological argument as though it were some trump card.

Justin’s version of the statement was this:

“The universe is all space, time and matter. So the cause is spaceless, timeless, and immaterial… …(and personal, to choose an effect in time)”

Whether you’re Justin or WLC this is all built on a huge number of assumptions which are treated as fact and then you go spinning off from these cherry picked assumptions towards the conclusion that you desire.

My Kalam link goes over the cosmological argument and Kalam cosmological argument but to restate and refute very quickly:

The cosmological argument states that everything has a cause, therefore the universe has a cause. It then goes on to say that this cause must be god, for no readily fathomable reason.

The obvious objection to this is that if everything requires a cause, then this would also apply to god. Meaning an infinite chain of gods creating the god after them. Infinite regress, no solution, clearly nonsense. Plus even if everything does require a cause that cause could be anything, including a naturalistic process. All in all, no argument for god.

The Kalam version of the argument is essentially that everything requires a cause… except god. Quite why this is considered such a ‘gotcha’ I don’t know since you’re now allowing for exceptions – things that don’t require a cause – because you’ve allowed one for god. Again, this could apply to anything, including a natural process.

Both forms of the cosmological argument are, then, self-defeating from the get-go even taken by themselves but this isn’t the end of the problems with it. Modern science is discovering that there are naturally occurring causeless effects. Vacuum fluctuations and virtual particle pairs are one example, atomic decay is another. Indeed more and more research suggests that everything, matter, energy, the universe itself is one big vacuum fluctuation with a net energy value of zero. Positive and negative energy negating one another.

Other research in dark matter/energy and in cosmic background radiation has hints that may suggest the existence of other universes. This would support the many-universe interpretation. We’re not there yet, but the information is tantalising and holds out possibilities.

Speaking to a ’cause’ of the universe does not make a great deal of sense in any case. You cannot have effect following cause without a dimension of time in which one thing can follow another or without space,a context in which it must happen. Since space and time are one and come into existence along with the universe there is no ‘before time’ or ‘outside space’ in which this could occur. Its a null question, a useless and broken concept.

As to immaterial, nobody has yet been able to demonstrate the existence of anything immaterial. Our concepts and ideas, mathematics, logic etc come from observations and extrapolations of our examination of the physical universe. Numbers do not ‘exist’ save as how we name these observations and even the numerical concept is ultimately physical, encoded in the shape and energy of our physical brain.

Mind, also, is physical. An emergent quality of the physical brain. Tamper with the physical brain, you change the expression and capability of the mind. No brain, no mind.

WLC’s arguments are gossamer thin nonsense, spun out of presumption with nothing to back them up but his whim and fancy. There is no case to answer. As Hitchens once said: “That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

As a courtesy to the chap I argued with I’m including WLCs wonking on about this for a full 20 minutes. I will also include a comedy video that demonstrates the physical origin of numbers.

Was Timothy McVeigh an Atheist?

Timothy Mcveigh - BRESCOLAFor you young ‘uns, Timothy McVeigh was the Oklahoma City bomber. Prior to 9/11 this (and the Waco siege) dominated discussions about terrorism, conspiracy theory and so forth in the United States. If you want to know what happened you can read up here. The short version is that a very disturbed, right-wing, nutcase detonated a huge bomb next to a federal building as a sort of ‘first blow’ in a war on ‘socialism’ and the government. Keep in mind that the rhetoric surrounding Obama has been much worse and yet nothing similar seems to have happened, yet.

These kinds of things go in cycles and, of late, much seems to be being made of Timothy McVeigh’s supposed atheism. When you bring up religious bombings, incidents and acts of terror someone inevitably points to McVeigh as an example of atheist terror. Even if one were to accept this characterisation, having to go all the way back to 1995 would show that ‘atheist’ murders and acts of terror occur with a great deal less frequency than religious ones. Still, we don’t have to accept this.

First and foremost, atheism is not a religion, an ideology, a philosophy, a system of belief or anything similar. It is the singular lack of belief in god/s. That is atheism in its entirety. If someone who happens to be an atheist commits some travesty it cannot be atheism that motivates them because atheism provides no motivation, no excuse, no impetus to commit such acts. Religious and ideological texts on the other hand, may very well have such exhortations to violence. The Abrahamic religious texts are replete with examples of this.

Secondly, McVeigh was not an atheist. At least not at the time of the bombings.

McVeigh was raised a Roman Catholic Christian and was confirmed in 1985. He was a registered republican, a member of the NRA and voted Libertarian. The bombings took place in 1995 and prior to the bombing his ‘goodbye’ letter to his childhood friend contained the following line:

I know in my heart that I am right in my struggle, Steve. I have come to peace with myself, my God and my cause. Blood will flow in the streets, Steve. Good vs. Evil. Free Men vs. Socialist Wannabe Slaves. Pray it is not your blood, my friend.

In 1996, after the bombing, when he was interviewed and asked about his religious position he said that he still believed in god, though he had lost touch with his Catholicism. He said he still maintained core Catholic, Christian beliefs.

By 2001 he proclaimed that he did not believe in hell and that ‘Science is my god’.

This is the line that people quote but it is one that is attributed to him a full six years after the bombing. It is unusual that he seems to have had a deconversion in prison. Many people claim religious conversion, especially in American prisons, because it gets them better treatment and increases their chances of parole. Being on death row perhaps McVeigh was feeling more fatalistic or didn’t see the need to claim a faith as it would make no difference. He did resist a great deal of urging to become a Muslim during this time.

When it came time for him to be executed McVeigh seems to have rediscovered his religion. A day before he wrote to a paper describing himself as agnostic. On the day of his execution he took the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and read the poem Invictus, which contains references to god and souls.

We’ll likely never really know what he thought or felt or believed, because he is dead. This is part of the waste and uselessness of the death penalty, it eliminates our capacity to learn and to understand. Nonetheless he seems to have been raised and died a Christian and to have been one when the bombing took place.

The truly perverse thing is that, having taken the Sacrament and ‘returned to the bosom of the lord’, by Christian doctrine, this mass murderer and right-wing terrorist would be in heaven, if such a place existed.


Critiquing The Sermon on the Mount


Whaaa? Criticise the Sermon on the Mount? How could I do such a thing! Even non-Christians think this is a pretty good set of values to go by. Still, I disagree and its best to explain why…

1. AND seeing the multitudes, he went up into the mountain and when he had sat down, his disciples came unto him :
2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying, 
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit : for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The poor are not blessed. A life of poverty is a shorter life of hardship. This obnoxious creed has been used to excuse the vile excesses of laissez-faire capitalism and to exalt the state of suffering. It creates an excuse to leave people wanting and for greed to continue.

4 Blessed are they that mourn : for they shall be comforted.

A false comfort. An accommodation to refuse reality. In the long run, this is an avoidance of actual mourning and unhealthy.

5 Blessed are the meek : for they shall inherit the earth.

Progress requires boldness, questioning. To be meek and passive will not move us forward. Nor will aggression, but extreme passivity is a problem with some eastern religions as well.

6 Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness : for they shall be filled.

A dangerous excuse to enact religious law and extremism over others.

7 Blessed are the merciful : for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart : for they shall see God.

There is of course, no god. So promulgating the idea of god and believing it for no reason is directly and indirectly harmful in and of itself.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers : for they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake : for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Legitimising the actions of those who, often on no basis, consider themselves persecuted. Consider the American right in the USA today.

11 Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

This passage is often quoted by believers and used to defend their delusions. Essentially ‘Jesus said you wouldn’t believe his bullshit. He was right!’. Again it allows for a feeling of superiority and a means to ignore justified critique.

12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad : for great is your reward in heaven : for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

There is no heaven. This sort of thing, valuing an afterlife over this life is what excuses and enables suicide bombers, dominionism etc.

13 If Ye are the salt of the earth : but if the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted ? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men. 
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a lamp, and put it under the bushel, but on the stand ; and it shineth unto all that are in the house.
16 Even so let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
17 Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets I came not to destroy, but to fulfil.

The Sermon on the Mount cannot be taken outside of its context and this passage in particular reaffirms that every obnoxious, hate-filled law of the Old Testament must still be followed. Jesus is meant as an exemplar, not a replacement within this mythology.

How do you Solve a Problem like Aisha?

child-bride_wxojk_50You don’t. You hedge, avoid and distract.

Just been around and around this particular roundabout with a couple of Muslims, yet again. The basic problem is this.

Most people would agree that having sex with children is wrong. My basis for saying so is that engaging in intercourse with pre-sexual humans is dangerous to their health and they are not mentally competent to give informed consent.

Ask a Muslim if having sex with children in wrong and they start to get a little… evasive.

Why should this present a problem? Surely of all morals found around the modern world one of the few things we can agree on is that raping children is bad. Even the Catholic Church, with a bit of a reputation for the problem, will publicly fess up to it being a bad thing.

Well, the problem for Muslims lies in the fact that Muhammed had, and fucked, a nine-year-old bride, Aisha.

Quite rightly, this idea repulses people but because Muhammed is revered and considered perfect and because the Koran is considered a perfect guide to morality this presents something of a problem. Either…

  • A: The Koran is wrong, Muhammed isn’t perfect and fucking children is a repugnant and predatory practice worthy of contempt.
  • B: Fucking children is A-OK with god.

The thing is, this shit still goes on in places like Yemen and they draw licence for the practice from the Koran.

So, what happens when Muslims are confronted with this? They panic.

Some say that this is a misrepresentation, but its in the Koran and Hadith and was considered praiseworthy and right for centuries as a sign of Aisha’s purity and appropriateness as a prize for Muhammed. Some will say its a product of the culture of the time – which is to admit that morality is not absolute and divine but rather subjective and temporal. Some of the more honest will say that they believe there’s nothing wrong with it.

Bringing this up can seem like a ‘cheap shot’ simply because the issue of paedophilia is such a hot-button issue, but it really is a big problem that Islam seems to have and one they don’t appear to have a good answer for.

Atheist Dogma?

YEE.tifA certain Tyler Null on Twitter likes to bang on about ‘atheist dogma’, thereby demonstrating that he has no understanding of the terms ‘atheist’, ‘dogma’ or perhaps both and is just being dishonest. It seems peculiar that a religious person should be so against dogma as dogma is very much a part of religion. Still, he seems to have a bee in his bonnet about it.

Lets correct him.

Atheism is:

“Either the lack of belief that there exists a god, or the belief that there exists none.” Most broadly it is simply the personal statement “I do not believe in god/s.”

Dogma is:

1. A

n official system of principles or tenets concerning faith, morals, behavior, etc., as of a church. Synonyms: doctrine,teachings, set of beliefs, philosophy.

2. A specific tenet or doctrine authoritatively laid down, as by a church: the dogma of the Assumption; the recently defined dogma of papal infallibility. Synonyms: tenet, canon, law. 

3. Prescribed doctrine proclaimed as unquestionably true by a particular group: the difficulty of resisting political dogma.

4. A settled or established opinion, belief, or principle: the classic dogma of objectivity in scientific observation.Synonyms: conviction, certainty.

Well then…

Does Atheism fit any of these definitions?

Atheism is not a system. Atheism is not a set of principles. Atheism has no tenets. Atheism does not necessarily exclude faith, even though it tends to. Atheism says nothing in and of itself about morality, behaviour etc. It does not fit number 1.

Atheism is, again, not a tenet or a doctrine. It is not laid down through authority. It does not fit number 2.

Atheism is, again, not a doctrine, it is not held to be unquestionably true (almost all atheists would change their mind if evidence for a god turned up).

The fourth definition is, in my opinion, so lose as to be universally applicable to anything and everything and therefore useless within this context. The meaning of religious dogma is pretty clear and the attempt here is to set up an equivalence that doesn’t exist. ‘Ner ner, you’re just as bad as we are.’

What the Heck?

The things Tyler talks about are arguments often used in support of atheism or opinions broadly held by left/liberal people. He’s conflating all of these together in one big lump. Why? Idiocy or malice.

Unchanged Koran?

المصحف_مفتوحIt is a popular ploy amongst Muslims to claim that – unlike other religious texts – it has never been changed or altered. This wouldn’t actually make any difference to its veracity or not, an old lie or untruth is still a lie even if it has lasted a long time or been copied a great deal. Its also not true. The Koran has been through several revisions despite being the youngest of the Abrahamic faiths.

Version One

Whatever Muhammed said to his followers is the first version of the Koran. Straight from his mouth to their ears and recorded somewhat haphazardly. The problem with oral preservation was understood quite early so Muhammed’s followers became literate (learning from prisoners of war ironically!) and compiled his ‘revelations’ all over the place. Muhammed died, so did a lot of his followers. It is impossible to know what was and wasn’t lost of the Koran in light of those events.

Version Two

Previously a scattered and haphazard oral record of many parts, the first Caliph Abu Bakr decided to collect the Koran into a single volume. This is Islam’s ‘council of Nicea’ moment and the first instance of a ‘standardised Koran’. This was compiled and written by – amongst others – Jewish and Greek scribes. It was collected and collated from fragmentary records, oral history, writing scraped on camel bones etc. What was kept and what was discarded we’ll never know but this effort would seem to account for the disjointed and fragmentary nature of the Koran and the incorporation of Greek knowledge and tribal custom into the corpus.

Version Three

Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan noticed differences as Islam spread in the versions of the Koran and Islamic beliefs from one place to another. The earlier written version (version 2) was used as a basis for the production of version three which, aside from minor differences, is the modern Koran today.

Can we Blame Islam for Boston?


Spot the…

It’s been a weird few days, hasn’t it?

Every time a new atrocity occurs it acts as a stark reminder about just how rapidly the news and media landscape is changing. On 9/11 we were watching streaming video in the office (the only place with a fast enough connection) and helping people check on friends and relatives by connecting over IM and IRC.

Madrid and the 7/7 bombings in London were transformed by the prevalence of cellphone video and images and places like Moblog became hugely important in working out what was going on and seeing what was occurring.

Now in 2013 – which always seemed like the distant future to me growing up – we have an atrocity at a marathon caught on multiple (civilian!) cameras from multiple angles, online vigilantes and the news media being totally outstripped by Twitter, Facebook and so on despite throwing aside their advantage (authority and objectivity) in a desperate attempt to keep up with the pace.

Speculation early on was, of course, about the brown faces in the crowd and that could have potentially gotten very dangerous. In a bizarre twist however, it turned out that the bombers were, quite literally Caucasian. It did, of course, also turn out that they were Muslim but I’m sure the concept of a white Muslim has someone like Ann Coulter’s head exploding in incomprehension.

There’s a couple of things I found particularly interesting and timely in the speculation we saw going on, things I hadn’t seen before.

  1. Some people were trying to pin the blame for the bombing on atheists, rather than religious or political fanaticism.
  2. Only very recently Harris, Dawkins etc have been coming under fire under the presumption that questioning Islam is racism.

Number 1 is interesting in that it shows that the rise of atheism (or more accurately the decline of theism) has some people spooked and many of them don’t know what atheism actually is.

Number two is a godsend (ha, ha) for those of us repeatedly making the point that having a problem with Islam is a matter of the religion and what it says, encourages and inspires. It’s not having a problem with Arabs, Pakistanis or whatever other ethnicities are most strongly linked with Islam. Here we have the perfect example to counter that argument. Two white Islamic terrorists.

Is it fair to blame Islam?

Yes, I think it is. The older brother at least seems to have been pious and increasingly militant and while the younger brother was a drinker he seems to have been caught in his brother’s shadow and tugged along by the weight of his growing fanaticism. Various excuses are already being made to try and distance the brother’s actions from their religion and amongst these is the suggestion of ‘white privilege’ that white mass murderers and terrorists, like, say Tim McVeigh, are not seen as part of a movement as a problem, but as individuals.

That is not entirely true. American gun culture, right wing paranoia, conspiracy theory, distrust of government and fanatically extreme individualism and Christianity have played a big role in a lot of American domestic terrorism and massacres and quite rightly this toxic mix should be held to blame for inspiring those individuals. It is much less of a unified belief system and set of grudges than Islamic fundamentalists have  but it is there. Of course there are also violent individuals, sometimes working together as in Columbine, perhaps the event that most closely mirrors Boston in many ways. Those events are individual though, they are not unified by anything more than disaffection, mental illness and isolation.

Moderate Muslims will say that the religion does not condone the killing of civilians or excuse violence and they are to be applauded for exercising their own personal morality to reject the morality present in the Koran, but the fact remains that it is full of passages that speak to violence, particularly against non-believers and that it has inspired much of the terrible violence in this century in the same way political ideology did in the 20th (both are articles of faith).



It is not racist to criticise and to honestly examine Islam any more than it is to criticise and honestly examine Christianity. One seems to be inspiring violence on a global level and even on the Christian side of the aisle one sees ‘Crusader’ rhetoric in the war against terror and a similar level of extremism leading to attacks on abortion doctors.

Faith provides the capacity for a level of fanaticism in religion (and ideology) that makes appalling actions seem justified, excusable, even correct. It is worth taking a stand against that way of thinking, both in Islam and more generally.

Arguing with Atheists: A Muslim Primer

IslamicMore and more the arguments over creationism/evolution, science/religion and atheism/theism are going on between members of the Islamic religion and atheists more than Christians. On the one hand this may be a hopeful sign, Christians seem to have given up trying to argue that their beliefs are rational or empirical and – instead – tend to resort to emotional arguments which, obviously carry little weight in a debate on whether something is real or not. Islamic debaters, on the other hand, still seem to fiercely cling to the notion that Islam is a rational, scientific and evidential religion whose truth is ‘undeniable’.

The problem is that these arguments are all the same ones we’ve seen before and have disposed of before. To the Islamic debater they seem new and powerful while to the atheist they seem tired, boring and have been gone over time and time again. Perhaps this means that we dispose of these debaters too quickly and dismissively but its hard not to when they’re fired up and excited over something that was disposed of decades, even centuries ago.

Let’s save ourselves a lot of time by covering the basic arguments that really have no place in this debate any longer.

Atheism is simply the personal statement ‘I do not believe in god/s’. It is not anything more than that. While a lot of atheists come to this opinion because of logic, reason and science people can be an atheist for many reasons. Some of them worse reasons than others. Still, confusing atheism with anything else confuses and mixes up the argument.

The Prime Mover Argument
We’ve heard this one so many times that it will always meet with an eye-roll. Yes, paintings have a painter, buildings have a builder, but the natural world, the universe, life, these are not the same things. If you argue that everything must have a cause then you are still left with the need to explain the origin of your god. IF everything requires a creator then it follows that this must also apply to ‘god’.

A slightly more ‘advanced’ version of this argument is the ‘Kalam’ argument. Which argues that god is an exception to the requirement for a cause. The problem with this is that it doesn’t further the argument. If there can be an exception to the rule then why not something other than god? Why would it be your god?

Arguing for a prime mover does nothing whatsoever for the argument. It’s a pointless distraction.

Look at that Tree/Flower/Baby!
Just because you don’t know how a tree (or whatever) could come about naturally doesn’t mean that it did not. Evolution is massively well evidenced and it produces things which seem designed, but are not. When you make this argument you’re not actually making an argument at all. You’re engaging in one of two logical fallacies (or even both). The argument from ignorance: “I don’t know. Therefore god did it”, and the argument from personal incredulity: “I can’t believe it happened the way you say, therefore god did it.”

The Koran is all Scientific and Shit!
You say the Koran ties in with science but there are problems with this claim.

Firstly the Koran is a mythological (and bad) poem, not a science book. Its language is vague – Arabic is a particularly vague language – and can be interpreted any number of ways which makes it particularly fluid in being rewritten to fit modern understanding. Let us give one particular example as a case in point:

“Have not the unbelievers ever considered that the skies and the earth were once one mass, then We split them asunder?” 21:30 (Malik Translation)

If you don’t consider it very deeply – as most don’t – this seems to be something to do with The Big Bang. If you consider it for more than that single moment however it all falls apart. The Big Bang is the origin of the universe (if such a world is appropriate for the universe), not the earth. That isn’t the only problem though as anyone with a passing interest in science will know. The Big Bang is not an explosion or a splitting asunder but rather an expansion, an inflation of spacetime.

You’d think a god would know better and get it right.

Secondly Islam is far from the only religion to make such claims and much of the ‘science’ in the Koran is cribbed from the ancient Greek scholars and philosophers. Its wrong, but less wrong than many religions simply because it is newer than many of the others. Still, one can find aspects in many religions – many of them much older than Islam, Christianity or even Judaism – which resemble (or have resembled) scientific thought.

An Appeal
A bearded imam shouting fallacies and asserting incorrect statements on a Youtube video is not convincing. What will convince most atheists? Evidence, plain and simple. You need evidence for the existence of a god. Please check whether your arguments have been refuted before and bring your ‘A’ game because we find re-treading old ground particularly tiresome.


The Witch Queen of Grantham


Margaret Thatcher is dead and this means two things.

For the 28 million people who didn’t vote for her and widely despised her its a cause for celebration. For the 14 million who did vote for her its either a time of mourning or of regret that they were ever so stupid. She’s a divisive figure in that the majority of people hated her and a minority of relatively wealthy, powerful or stupid people didn’t.

The other things that it means, besides these reactions, is that there will be a media outpouring that will largely skim over the fact she was a destructive figure of hate and will ascribe to her heroism of near Churchillian proportions. Continuing the historical rewrite Meryl Streep started in other words.

Speaker for the Dead

Celebrity bigot Orson Scott Card wrote a book called ‘Speaker for the dead’. There’s a bunch of stuff in it about alien pigs and trees and so on but the abiding idea from it – and one that will probably come back to bite Card on the arse when he pops his clogs – is the idea that one should speak the truth of the dead.

In the coming days we’re going to see a hell of a lot of Thatcher worship and the darker side of who and what she was is going to get drowned under that. People who point out the bad side to what she did, a bad side we’re still living with today, are going to come in for a lot of flak but just keep in mind that the people giving said flak were fine using the deaths of children to attack the welfare system a few short days ago.

This makes it even more important that those of us who do remember and who were alive at the time point out what a shitty person she was and don’t let a sense of ‘decency‘ that she never showed her vicrims override that.


So what, exactly, did Margaret Thatcher accomplish? Other than a ‘landslide’ win with a minority of the vote (something Tories would later criticise Labour for)?

  • She literally stole food from out of children’s mouths.
  • She presided over two recessions.
  • She widened the gulf between rich and poor.
  • She closed the mines, ruined collective bargaining and destroyed British energy independence.
  • She squandered North Sea Oil.
  • She narrowed our economy down to ‘The City’.
  • She annihilated social housing.
  • She sold off important, nationalised infrastructure to crooks.

That’s by no means a comprehensive list and by no means covers the worst. The problems we’re dealing with today are in many cases the direct result of her actions in the 80s and the continuation of these ruinous policies by her successors.

The housing crisis and the bedroom tax? That goes back to social housing. Sure, letting people buy their council houses seemed like a good idea at the time and a great economic emancipator but it also created massive problems for us today, There is no social housing to speak of but rather than build more the policy seems to be to try and force people to share and reshuffle.

She was great enough if you were a one-percenter. She successfully sold the British on the great American lie, turned the working class against each other in ways we see today in the language of ‘scrounger’ Vs ‘striver’.

She destroyed British society – didn’t even believe there was such a thing as society. She turned us from a group of mutually supportive Britons of common cause into a squabbling rabble of money obsessed idiots. The hard-won lessons from two world wars were lost. Ironically, Cameron would later hark back to this old attitude of being ‘in it together’ while continuing to widen the gap between rich and poor to Dickensian levels. Again, carrying on from Mrs T.

This austerity we unnecessarily suffer under. The arrogant and overpaid bankers and the games they play with people’s money. It all goes back to her at the root.

Even her most laudable action, defending the Falklands, was a shameless vote-grabbing scam, one that killed a lot of people and was an enormous gamble made for all the wrong, political reasons rather than the right reasons. Not that it was played out that way.

She was a friend to dictators like Pinochet. She was on the wrong side of history when it came to apartheid and South Africa. She was anti-gay, anti-freedom, antisocial. She was a red-handed destroyer who made nothing but tore apart plenty.

Was she a feminist? Simply having ovaries (or not) doesn’t make one a feminist (or not). She was, arguably, a woman (some feminists disavowed her) but she distanced herself from feminism and probably did more damage to it than any other force besides radical feminists themselves. She demonstrated not that a woman was as good as any man, but rather than she could be worse. She set women back a huge amount, she didn’t move them forward.

Why is she so Hated?

Thatcher is hated because she stuck it to the poor, the needy, the helpless and made them blame themselves. She began the destruction of health, education and other vital social fabric that we had all come to rely on. She created a new British culture that demonised anyone on welfare and told them they were worthless, useless spongers. They listened which is the even worse part.

She made our culture selfish, hateful and short-termist. The majority of people didn’t want her in power, yet there she was, playing at being a dictator. Her actions lead to mass unemployment, worse services and massive privatisation which is now being applied to the NHS. She stayed the course, despite the hardship she was causing and what it did to the UK as a whole.

She set wheels in motion that haven’t stopped. Labour abandoned the left in order to become ‘electable’ and Blair was as much a Thatcherite as anyone. She created a presidential style of power politics that Blair also exploited later on to pursue the Iraq War. Her legacy of privatisation, deprivation and hardship for the most vulnerable continues today under waxwork sociopath David Cameron and flailing muppet Nick Clegg. The things we wish we could fight today, the university tuition fees, the threats to the NHS, pointless and expensive wars, heartless government cuts, it all goes back to one woman.

An Opportunity

This is an opportunity though. We can look back over the last 20 years, see the Thatcher legacy and from that perspective see and understand how it didn’t work. How it was sold to us. How its still being sold to us despite not working. Perhaps, then, with a pause for reflection we can turn this around. It didn’t work then and we’re still living with the consequences, so why are we doing it now?