Saturday, April 21, 2007

European social commentators understand little about America

Over the last week, European social commentators have wasted no time in pointing the finger of blame for the Virginia Tech massacre.

Hot on the heels of their recent front page headline: "50 reasons to love the European Union", the Virginia Tech massacre has provided the Independent with another opportunity to prove how morally superior Europe is to the United States. Their Wednesday editorial was predictable:
...Then there is the nature of US society, which is more divided, more pressured and more ruthless in almost every way than any society in Europe. The Atlantic is, in this respect, a more definitive cultural boundary than it often seems. There are outsiders and misfits everywhere, but communities in the US - be they schools, colleges, businesses, small towns or suburbs - can be particularly unforgiving. So far, the advantages of the American way of life - its vitality and high rewards for success - have been deemed to outweigh the liabilities....
Much of Europe's media have followed a similar agenda, but all they've done is proved their ignorance. In recent years, there have been gun massacres in Switzerland (which may not be a member of the EU but is very much part of Europe) and in Germany. And 11 years ago, Britain had its own massacre. Overall, Europe has had fewer mass killings, but that may be more to do with stricter gun laws than any moral superiority. And Europe has its fair share of social problems. Witness the civil unrest in France in 2005, Europe's continued failure to integrate its Muslim immigrants, and the popularity of far right political parties.

Europeans tend to think of the United States as one homogeneous society, they forget how large and diverse it is. Whilst you can buy an AK47 by mail order in some States, in other places such as New York or Washington DC, guns laws are every bit as strict as in Europe. Europeans also forget that Americans have a historical ambivalence towards government. Ever since they overthrew British colonial rule, they are distrustful of politicians telling them what to do, it helps explain their rejection of stricter gun laws.

Maybe it's about time we took a look at some of America's virtues, particularly its immigrants. To quote this week's Spectator:
...Yet the reality of evil is mirrored in the persistence of good. The unspeakable depravity of Cho found its match in the heroism of Professor Liviu Librescu, a 76-year-old Holocaust survivor, who blocked a classroom door to save his students before perishing. That, rather than the present cacophony of half-baked sociology, should be our abiding memory of the Virginia massacre.

The most visited posts on my blog

Looking through my search engine report, I discovered the following posts aroused the most interest:
  1. The Mennonites of Ontario, Canada
  2. Anti-Semitic Jokes
  3. Apocalyptic Predictions

Notice a common thread here?!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Could the Virginia Tech massacre happen in Britain?

Probably not, is the conclusion of Magnus Linaker.

This might be an opportune moment to ask ourselves whether Britain's gun laws actually work. Whilst massacres such as Dunblane are extremely rare, such events generate far more publicity than the gun crime carried out on Britain's streets each and every day. Much of it rarely makes it into the newspapers.

Ten years have passed since the handgun ban was introduced. In that time, gun violence has more than doubled, whilst little has been done to crack down on the perpetrators.

Watching the Virgina Tech tragedy unfold on our TV screens, we may smugly congratulate ourselves over our gun laws and tell ourselves that such a thing could never happen here, but we have no cause for complacency.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Virginia Tech massacre exposes how different Britain and America are

In the aftermath of the Dunblane massacre, support for a handgun ban in the UK was unequivocal. Those who were opposed to it were demonised. The gun laws in the UK are now so strict that even our Olympic shooters have to train abroad.

Many in Britain who have watched the Virginia Tech massacre and so many similar tragedies will be asking a simple question: "Why not just ban guns and stop this happening again?". But this is the United States and many Americans are asking the opposite question: "Why didn't the University allow students to carry concealed weapons so they could defend themselves? "

It is events such as these that expose the huge cultural barrier that exists between Britain and America.

One story that sums up the tragedy of Virginia Tech

At such times, it is often one victims story that brings home the full horror of such an event. It is hard to read about Liviu Librescu without being moved to tears.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Is Scotland another Quebec?

Reading the British press, it is universally assumed that Scotland will break away from the UK sometime soon.

It's certainly true that the Scots have little to lose. Britain was once a nation state, now that it's given up all its sovereignty to Brussels, the only union that counts is the European Union. As citizens of a member state of the EU, Scots will have all the same rights to live and work in England as they currently do. The two economies will remain linked as before, and there will be no borders. In fact there isn't a lot that will change. Even the Queens head will be on the coins.

There hardly seems to be any point in having a referendum, it seems to be a foregone conclusion, but is it? If I was Alex Salmond, I wouldn't be too complacent. Just think about Quebec...

Like Scotland, Quebec feels like another country. There are no Canadian flags, only the ubiqitous fleur-de-lis. The Quebecois turn their noses up at their fellow Canadians despite their province being heavily subsidised (some might say bribed) by the federal government. Even the motto of Quebec "je me souviens" has taken on a nationalist tint. It is taken by many to mean - "I remember what the English did to the French".

But most significantly Quebec has been ruled by the Parti Québécois, a party devoted to Quebec's independence. When the first referendum on independence didn't go their way, the Parti Québécois kept calling referendums until they were referred to as "never-endums". The referendums it should be noted only failed by a narrow margin and there were racist overtones to the campaigns as English speaking voters were attacked for voting against secession.

There are many Scots living in England and many English people living in Scotland. How will English residents vote in the event of a referendum in 2010? If the voters don't go for independence, will Alex Salmond keep holding referendums till they do? There is an old saying, a week is a long time in politics. Four years is an eternity.

It's been a bad few weeks for Britain

What a dismal month it's been. Our sailors have been taken hostage by a third world dictator and get humiliated on TV, our military power has been emasculated, then Prince William and Kate Middleton split up. Whatever next? the break up of the United Kingdom?!

This country is literally falling apart.

Labour's softy softy approach to school discipline won't work

Thirty years ago, school kids would routinely get knocked about by their teachers for the slightest misdemeanor. Whilst I'm pleased to say those days are long gone, it seems to me that the pendulum has swung somewhat the other way.

Apparently, the "experts" now think the occasional telling off might cause psychological harm to our kids. Labour's latest guidelines advises teachers to praise pupils five times more than they criticise them regardless of their behaviour. Teachers should also take into account a child's cultural background before remonstrating with them or punishing them. It all sounds predictably touchy feely multiculti let's-sound-tough-but-not-stigmatise-anyone rhetoric that we have become accustomed to under New Labour.

I don't have a lot of experience of working with kids except for a stint at a summer camp in New England, but the one thing I learned was that kids have a good deal more respect for you when you put down boundaries, you win no rewards by trying to be their "friend". It's a lesson I learned in eight weeks, Labour still haven't learned it after ten years.

The National Union of Journalists have lost their marbles

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has strongly condemned the abduction of Alan Johnston whilst simultaneously voting for a boycott of Israel over its "military adventures" in Gaza and Lebanon.

Let me get this right. One of their journalists gets kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists and the NUJ's response is to call for a government boycott of the country that is fighting these terrorists. Do these people have a death wish or something?