Ad Fontes

Politics, Theology and Christian Humanism


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Is UKIP the BNP for the middle class?

Last night there were hustings of parliamentary candidates for our two local constituencies. I wasn’t able to go, but a friend showed me the programme afterwards. Alongside candidates from the three major parties were two UKIP candidates. It seemed normal to everyone that there were UKIP candidates on the platform, not arousing the controversy that having BNP candidates there would have created.

It seems UKIP’s main electoral tool is elector ignorance, with a bit of media fearmongering to boot. When I ask people what UKIP stands for, everyone says they are against the EU, and when pressed add that they’re probably anti-immigration too. For those who would never dream of voting for the fascist BNP, UKIP seems to them an attractive alternative to the major parties, but I’m sure they are not aware of what UKIP stands for.

UKIP’s immigration policy is against the UN Convention on Refugees, and so both UKIP and the BNP state that they would withdraw the UK from it. They would also repeal the Human Rights Act in order to deliver the harsher forms of ‘justice’ they relish. Any lover of liberty should start to hear alarm bells when a political group advocates the rolling back of our human rights.

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How to raise racist kids

How to raise racist kids

Telfair Museum, Savannah, Georgia. Photo: UGArdener via Flickr

Jonathan Liu has written a fascinating article for the Geek Dad section of Wired magazine. He highlights research done by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman in their book NurtureShock. Their research gives the lie to the popular belief that ‘colour blindness’ and an environment of ethnic diversity makes sure that children grow up tolerant and respectful of racial differences. As Jonathan Liu puts it, to raise racist kids

Step One: Don’t talk about race. Don’t point out skin color. Be “color blind.”

Step Two: Actually, that’s it. There is no Step Two.

Congratulations! Your children are well on their way to believing that <insert your ethnicity here> is better than everybody else.

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On Englishness and English nationalism

Essay warning: this is a long article in three parts.

All Hallows

The flag of St George flying from my church's tower.

Recently, I wrote an article here on POWER2010 and the People’s Charter. In passing I mentioned how I didn’t support the proposed policy for POWER2010 of ‘English votes on English laws’, something I now realise is a bit of a mantra among English nationalists, with its own camel-case acronym EVoEL (deliver us from…?)!

There were a lot of important ideas in that post, but was surprised by the complete focus on English nationalism in the comments. I was even more surprised by the poor quality of their argument, much of which was ad hominem (‘you are trash’ said one, another found me a traitor, another suggested that I was being anti-English and thus racist!). Then there was the misquoting and misrepresentation of my thoughts. For instance, I had written ‘In general, the promotion of English nationalism by a few fringe groups is very dodgy’. I should have been clearer about what I meant: that English identity and the nationalism based on it, promoted by a few fringe groups, is a minefield of problems that should be treated with care rather than emotional flag waving. However, the nationalists tweeted this as my saying ‘the English are dodgy’ (hmm, nice misquote there)! Aside from this there was demonstrable lack of understanding of our political constitution (I had to direct a commenter to read the 1911 Parliament Act). However, overall, I was shocked by the need to depict the English as persecuted, restricted and disempowered within a UK in which we make up around 83% of the population. If nationalism is about national liberation, nationalists feel the obvious need to conjure up an imagined captivity from which to liberate us.

I am English and proud to be English. I own an English football shirt (somewhere), but I’m not the flag waving type. Many of my friends are not English, and I find their perspective on Englishness very useful. I believe that it’s important to approach the issue dispassionately and practically, against the surging romanticism that can leave one delusional.

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Daily Mail calls immigrants animals

Daily Mail immigrants

The Daily Mail, more commonly known as the Daily Hate, published a cartoon based on a vulgarly twisted interpretation of an old government report on Britain’s need for migrant workers (via Liberal Conspiracy). The cartoon, as misunderstood by the hate-mongers of that obscene rag, is about multiculturalism going ‘too far’, but they didn’t notice that they just equated immigrants with animals. The cartoon is of a man marrying a sheep, and the caption reads, “I’ve voted Labour all my life, vicar; and fully support their quest for a multicultural society”. Can you believe these sick bastards?


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A white man’s bizarre racist dream

As a white man, I am starting to think I must have this great urge to leave ‘my people’ and be one with some exotic, primitive folk. Of course, it will be a struggle to be accepted, but, through trial and initiation rites, I shall become one with my exotics. It seems also highly likely that the big chief’s daughter will fall for me — one just can’t help it! Naturally, the marauding, plundering, modernising, globalising white folk will eventually turn up to wreak havoc on my new-found paradise. But heroic I shall stand fast with my exotic brethren and become their mighty war leader in this time of trial. I shall overcome my own… I hope all reading this can spot irony when they see it. Continue reading


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Ukip adds islamophobia to its official policy

Today, the United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) announced the election of Malcolm Pearson (who goes by Lord Pearson of Rannoch due to the feudal nature of our political system) to replace Nigel Farage as its leader.

Farage resigned in order to focus on his personal campaign to win election to the House of Commons. I find this entirely in keeping with the self-serving nature of many key figures in Ukip. Farage had been entirely successful in making Ukip appear a single-issue party focused on pure, unadulterated euroscepticism. Although personally a europhile, I see the vital need for a new beginning, a rethinking, of the European project, that it embody the best principles of our continental commonality. Farage is a slippery character, wanting his party not to be seen as unduly right wing. When Ukip members were bigoted, racist or sexist, Farage would say that were merely acting in their personal capacity and not speaking for the party. This included Pearson’s invitation to Geert Wilders to show his islamophobic shock-doc at the House of Lords (first time round improperly blocked by Jaqui Smith, then Home Secretary). Continue reading


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Right, it’s me next!

I spent some time at the British Library today, and popped into The Sound and the Fury exhibition (free entrance; turn right after coming through the main doors). The exhibition is a show case of the British Library’s sound archives, mostly speeches and debates. You can sit yourself at a computer screen, put on the headphones and listen away to whatever takes your fancy.

I was most moved by the retelling of the memories of a not-so-well known speaker, 101 year old Lou Kenton. Born in Stepney to Jewish parents who had fled Ukraine during the tsarist pogroms, Kenton joined the Communist Party of Great Britain after noticing the widespread antisemitism in London. In 1937, when right-wing general Franco staged a coup against the democratically elected government of Spain, Lou Kenton joined the International Brigades and headed to Spain to fight fascism. Continue reading


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Nick Griffin on Question Time

Nick Griffin, odious leader of the BNP, was a guest on BBC’s Question Time tonight. It’s a panel-based political discussion programme, but tonight it could not avoid becoming the Nick Griffin show. Not that the ugly racist had it all his own way, he was asked a few searching questions.

I believe the BBC were right to invite Griffin on the programme. I supported the principle of not giving the BNP a platform up until they won two seats in the European Parliament. We cannot deny that the party has a limited mandate. I feel great sympathy for the Unite Against Fascism supporters and others who protested outside Television Centre. I think we need both the protest and the debate; we should not make it easy for them. Continue reading


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Ad fontes of Christian humanism

I’ve recently updated my What page, so I thought I would also copy it here as a post for comment.

GarshuniAd fontes is a Latin phrase meaning ‘to the sources’, a favourite motto of Renaissance humanism. I am particularly thinking of Erasmus of Rotterdam with this phrase, recalling his invaluable biblical scholarship. Renaissance humanism both laid the groundwork for the Reformation and re-engaged with the writers of the early church.

The term ‘humanism’ is only applied retrospectively to this movement. The Oxford English Dictionary dates its earliest meaningful occurrence in the French humanisme of 1765, with the meaning of ‘love of humanity’, with a German reference to Humanismus from 1808 being used to describe the classical syllabus of the gelehrten Schulen (‘learned schools’, grammar schools). Our universities’ humanities divisions and faculties are named after this understanding of humanism. It didn’t take long for the term to acquire two more widely applied senses: the intellectual movement of the Renaissance and a philosophy oriented toward the human. There are a few sparse uses of the term ‘humanism’ to refer to a doctrine that Jesus Christ has a merely human nature (adoptionism, ebionitism and perhaps unitarianism), and Schiller used the term as a name for pragmatism; these are not my doctrines, nor my intended meaning. Continue reading


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You cannot argue your way out of being racist

I am shocked but not surprised by the racist stupidity of Keith Bardwell, a justice of the peace in the US state of Louisiana, and his attempt to justify it.

The initial abuse of power was his denial of a marriage licence to Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay, a mixed race couple (she is identified as White, he is Black). Bardwell’s justification for this breach of human rights (Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifically says that ‘race’ should not be a limitation on the right to marry and found a family) is that he has witnessed that mixed-race relationships do not last and that mixed-race children have difficulty fitting in to either race community. But you have to ask yourself why this may be the case; isn’t it because of boneheads like Bardwell who see race before they see they person? Continue reading