Who are the 'racists’ now?
Would-be immigrants from the old white Commonwealth are kept out by strict immigration controls, yet this is not deemed racist
The most vehement speech I have ever heard attacking Roma immigrants came last summer from the hard-working Romanian wife of an Italian restaurateur in a small town in Italy.
After we mentioned the nuisance posed by a horde of Roma beggars in the centre of Florence, she explained how angry she and other law-abiding Romanians feel over their country’s reputation being blackened by the antisocial behaviour of that racially distinct Roma minority that has long been such a problem in parts of central Europe, and is now fanning out across the EU.
It is impossible to discuss immigration rationally without recognising this particular problem, not helped by the efforts of the BBC and too many politicians to obscure it – as when the BBC reported on the trouble being caused by “Romanian” families in Belfast, carefully failing to explain that they were Roma.
Again, in light of the endless agitation over immigration, isn’t it odd how the BBC and others are so eager to brand as “racist” any talk about migrants from the EU, when by far the strictest immigration controls already in place are those rigorously enforced by both Labour and Conservative governments against would-be immigrants from the old “White Commonwealth”?
If it is “racist” to express concern about uncontrolled migration from the EU, why is it not equally racist to keep out people from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, let alone refugees trying to flee from genuinely racist persecution in Zimbabwe?
The real problem with welfare is not welfare parasites but Red Ed and the politicians who have encouraged people to believe the world owes them a living
By Richard Littlejohn
White Dee's sickness benefits may at long last be frozen after her drunken jolly to Magaluf, where she was pictured guzzling pints of beer, tequila shots and champagne.
And not before time. I've heard of benefits tourism, but this was ridiculous. Deirdre Kelly, Dee's real name, has become something of a minor celebrity since she 'starred' in the gruesome TV documentary series Benefits Street.
She has made a rap record, worked as a guest DJ in a Birmingham disco and been flown to Majorca for 'promotional work', including judging a wet T-shirt contest. All the time, she has continued drawing welfare payments, as she has done every week since she was sacked from her last full-time job for stealing £13,000.
This hideous, obese slattern has become the poster girl for Britain's obscene benefits culture, yet she is unrepentant. 'Blame the Prime Minister,' she replies when she is asked why taxpayers should support her life of amoral sloth and drink-fuelled debauchery.
She's right, too. Well, maybe not this Prime Minister, whose Government is belatedly trying to dismantle the scandalous system which bred the likes of White Dee.
But we can certainly blame Gordon Brown, who positively encouraged a festering culture of fecklessness and entitlement, which costs billions of pounds every year and helped bring this country to the brink of bankruptcy.
Brown's byzantine benefits regime, and his no-questions-asked generosity to claimants, institutionalised idleness and ensured that for millions work didn't pay. No wonder they concluded that they were better off on the dole.
Take the case of 34-year-old Portia Clarke, an aspiring 'glamour' model, who has never worked a day in her life. She has just kicked the father of one of her three children out of the taxpayer- funded home they shared so that she can receive more benefits to spend on 'luxuries'.
The money he brought in as a factory worker meant she was unable to claim the maximum handout from the State.
At her council house in Greater Manchester, she said: 'Paul only earned £800 a month and by the time we'd paid rent we didn't have much left. I couldn't buy myself nice clothes or go on holidays.' She now rakes in £17,000 a year from the taxpayer, via an assortment of benefits.
Has she ever thought about getting a job? 'Paul wanted me to get a job, but I knew I'd never find anything that paid decent money. I'm not flogging my guts out for low pay.'
Why should she, when the mug British taxpayer will provide? Pouting Portia, who at 34 is well past her prime potential as a 'glamour' girl, reckons she has £1,000 a month disposable income after all the bills have been paid.
Which is enough to provide her with a 50in flatscreen TV, nights out on the lash, the latest fashions and five-star holidays to Turkey.
Meanwhile, the man her children called 'Dad' has been given the order of the boot because he got in the way of Portia filling her boots with free money. So Brown's benefits bonanza didn't only turn a generation into dependency junkies, it breaks up families, too.
And until the heroic Iain Duncan Smith grasped the nettle and capped benefits, the unemployed weren't just living on run-down council estates, they were routinely billeted in some of the most desirable properties in town.
Never mind Benefits Street, some lucky claimants are still living on Benefits Boulevard. This week, Captain Hook, aka Abu Hamza, has been convicted of terrorism offences in America and will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
His family back home in England, however, will continue to live the life of Riley at taxpayers' expense. Hamza's wife and eight children live-rent free in a £1.25 million house in one of the more desirable streets in Shepherd's Bush, West London, popular with BBC types.
They are reported to receive £33,800 a year in handouts. What happened to the much-trumpeted £26,000 limit?
Four of Hamza's sons and a stepson have served time for terrorist crimes and are unlikely ever to secure gainful employment.
Who would give them a job? Is it any wonder that decent people who pay their taxes, ask for nothing and keep their noses clean are outraged?
Yet while Duncan Smith wrestles the welfare monster, his Coalition 'partner' Nick Clegg defends the right of the Hamza clan to live in subsidised luxury.
Self-proclaimed 'liberals' appear to have no problem with the widespread abuse of the system and the affront to decency created by cases like these.
They condemned Benefits Street as 'poverty porn' and consider the anger directed at the ghastly White Dee and her low- life companions to be the modern equivalent of bear-baiting.
Don't forget that Labour has opposed every single one of Duncan Smith's welfare reforms, while at the same time Ed Miliband pretends to be on the side of 'hard-working' families.
The real problem here isn't White Dee, it's 'Red Ed' and all those Left-wing politicians who have encouraged millions of people to believe the world owes them a living while asking nothing in return.
Nature is not so warm and fuzzy
Bloodied and dazed after being slashed by the claws of a brown bear, a woman struggled to walk 2 miles along a curvy, hilly trail to find someone to help her. The woman, who has asked that her identity not be released, was hospitalized in stable condition Monday, a day after the attack on an Anchorage military base, officials said. She suffered lacerations to her neck, arms and legs.
The woman was jogging with her soldier husband Sunday morning on the northwestern part of the sprawling Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The couple became separated, and as she jogged down a hill near a bend, she came upon a bear leaving a trail at the same time. Air Force Maj. Angela Webb said they startled each other, and the bear, with two cubs in tow, assumed a defensive position in the largely wooded, remote area. “The bear attacked her, defending her babies, seeing her as a threat,” said Mark Sledge, senior conservation law enforcement officer at the base.
The bear knocked down the woman and took at least one swipe at her. Officials still haven’t interviewed the woman and don’t know if she was knocked unconscious or played dead until the animal left the area. Playing dead is the appropriate response when meeting a female bear protecting cubs, Sledge said
My Take - We have to disabuse ourselves of the idea that wild animals are Disney characters. They're violent and.....let's get this right......they will kill people, they will kill livestock, they will kill children, and they will kill pets. In short - settlers killed them when they moved into an area because they weren’t' safe to have around. Why is that so hard to understand?
A number of years ago there was a “nature is warm and fuzzy” nut by the name of Timothy Treadwell who proclaimed grizzly bears were all misunderstood and needed be embraced….because he did “research” that demonstrated “he could get close to bears with his gentle and non-threatening personality and communicate with them. Treadwell boasted that he could understand their communication and they could understand him. He claimed that he knew 21 bear vocalizations and various different body languages. He wanted to see if he could be accepted by 1,000 pound wild coastal brown bears.”
He was hyped by the leftist celebrity crowd and gained as substantial amount of notoriety. But it was like every other phony philosophical flavor of the day perpetrated on an unsuspecting public. His name wasn’t even Treadwell….it was Dexter…… and everything he said, and everything he said he did was a phony as his name. Well reality finally caught up to Dexter. Dexter and his girlfriend both died practicing his theories on real wild bears, in a truly wild environment, not with semi-tame bears in a national park. Apparently this was a bear that didn't speak the same language as Dexter, since this bear didn't understand - or care about - a thing he said.
There is a benefit to all of this.
First, he truly qualified for the Darwin Award. What's the criteria for nomination? The Darwin Award is presented - posthumously- to those who contributed to human evolution by self-selecting themselves out of humanities gene pool in the most sublime fashion, i.e., in the most idiotic manner, and secondly we can now dismiss all the misleading and dangerous horsepucky he promoted about bears. Bears kill, that’s why they’re called “wild”.
Festival of Australia and NZ arts launches in London
I can't say I am much in favour of this groupy thing. Australian cultural talents do quite well abroad on their own merits and under their own steam. Emphasis on Australia as a location or a group seems more likely to revive a "cultural cringe" impression.
And that Australians often need to go abroad to optimize their careers needs no apology. The Australian population is relatively small and cultural products are very much a minority interest. So exposure to large potential audiences is needed to achieve a critical mass of income.
Why does anyone think that English theatre companies regularly tour the despised North? Because they need the money of the Northeners. And they won't get that money unless they go to where the customers are. So even the trickle of cultural interest from the North needs to be grabbed
From time to time, Australia launches little cultural assault fleets back to the mother country.
One year it might be a Leo McKern, who ruled the Old Bailey in his television portrayal of Rumpole, tying a neat bow around the whole convict saga.
Another year it might be a John Pilger or a Julian Assange, doing the journalistic equivalent of selling ice to the Eskimos: a bolder, freer, cooler brand of ice, more sharp and uncomfortable than the usual Fleet Steet sleet.
And of course there are Clive James, Barry Humphries, Germaine Greer and, uh, Rolf Harris – the Gang of Four whose mega-talents allowed an allegedly indecent assault on swinging London. Indecently successful, that is, m’lud.
Some of these Aussie Vikings settled down, hung up their helmets and became part of the landscape. Others came back home, Patrick White-style, Tim Winton-style, with new perspective or homesick hearts.
Though ... it seems a little unfair. Do we really have to come cap in hand to Europe or North America seeking success and recognition, or some kind of validation stamp in the career passport?
This month Australia launches a new, full-frontal literary invasion of London.
But the aim is not a reverse colonisation. Instead, according to Jon Slack, it is to demonstrate that no matter how far or how wide our writers roam … etc etc.
"Over here people have a very narrow view of what happens in Australia – the top-level, stereotypical view," he says.
"There’s some truth to stereotypes but there's so much more - writing talent, acting talent, film - there’s so much to show off."
Slack – ex-Adelaide, now a UK resident for just over a decade - is the director of a new, ambitious summer festival in the UK.
This Way Up, the Australia and New Zealand Festival of Literature and Arts, boasts some of the two nations’ biggest talents, supported by some familiar international names, in 60 events over four days.
Tim Winton will discuss his new novel, Helen Garner talks about memory and imagination, Fay Weldon chats to New Zealand writer Paula Morris, other events feature Anna Funder, Greta Scacchi, Kathy Lette and Anita Heiss.
Clive James is doing a new one-hour show about his life in writing, and the festival closes with a new composition by composer Mark Bradshaw set to the biblical poem Song of Solomon, read by actor Ben Whishaw.
I meet Slack on a sunny day in Brighton. He says the idea grew out of a touch of homesickness. "I wanted to work out a way of connecting what I was doing here [in the UK] with back home [in Australia and New Zealand]. I was getting really out of the loop on everything that was happening back in Oz.
"There are so many festivals over here but having a country-specific focus was quite unique … There’s rivalry, affection, understanding [between Australia and the UK]. The more I looked into it the more sense it made."
There is a risk of backfire in attempting this kind of showcase. Last year London’s Royal Academy, to great fanfare, opened an exhibition of some of Australia’s best and most iconic works of art, from pre-colonisation to the present day.
Reviews were mixed. While few were as scathing as those of the Sunday Times, whose critic ended up musing that in Australia the wrong people became artists, some found the whole idea old fashioned. The Guardian said an exhibition whose "aim is the broad sweep of a country, let alone a continent" risked ending up as "potted history and pop-up content".
"I am not interested in what might constitute some sort of Australian artistic identity, because I doubt there is one," the reviewer wrote.
Another critic wrote in the Independent that "more than most countries, [Australia] has carried a baggage of hyper-sensitivity about its place in the world".
Slack says the reaction to the exhibition showed there was a lot of passion about Australia’s representation in the UK. He hopes the multi-event format of his festival will immunise against such criticism.
He does believe there is a character to Australian writing that will emergeduring the festival.
"If you watch a film from Australia or read a book or even just go back home, there’s something very intangible but you can sense it," he says. "There is such diversity … [but] the person who described it the best was Tim Winton."
In a speech in London last year, Winton said he found new perspective on what his home country meant to him when he lived in Paris in his late 20s – his first trip abroad.
He thought the difference would just be language and history, but "the moment that I stepped off a plane at Charles de Gaulle [airport] I knew I was not a European," he said. "[Australia’s] geography, distance and weather have moulded my sensory palette, my imagination and my expectations."
Winton found Europe's land and the sky less beautiful, even saccharine and closed. From afar he recognised Australia as the Neverland of Peter Pan – more wild, a place "more landscape than culture" where the night sky would threaten to suck you up into the stars.
"I was calibrated differently to a European," he said. "Everything we do in our country is still overshadowed and underwritten by the seething tumult of nature."
Slack says the Australian voice can vary widely – contrast Winton with Christos Tsiolkas – but at the same time sound alike.
"It’s very direct, it’s bold, it’s just in the character. Even though there’s a lot of bullshit, there’s no bullshit. That’s what people respond to over here."
Slack says Winton is still a little "under the radar" in the UK, despite the many highlights of his long career.
There is an ongoing question as to whether Australian writers do better if they make a more permanent move to the northern hemisphere, he says. It is even being addressed during the festival, in a "big debate" on whether the cultural cringe is over.
"It’s hard to deny that if you’re based here you’ve got that ongoing presence, it’s easier to have those meetings, do those events, have those conversations you need to have," Slack says. "The tyranny of distance is still a thing.
"There are some people who still make jokes about ‘cultured Australians, oxymoron’ ...People love and respect individual Australians, in films or writers, but I think there is still quite a long way to go. There’s definitely an ignorance of what’s going on ... Unless someone has been to Australia you just don’t get past the beach and the sport. It’s really hard for people to do that."
The festival has a "shoestring budget" in proportion to its scale, but Slack says in planning it became a "controlled explosion" as more people agreed to take part. The event has been part-funded by the Australia Council – which at one stage doubled its support when the project’s ambition grew. One of the council’s aims is to establish a reputation for Australia as an "artistically ambitious nation", says Jill Eddington, director of literature funding at the council.
But the festival is there, in a nutshell, to help the authors find their market, and the market to find the authors.
"The big challenge for all writers worldwide is discoverability in a huge global online market," says Eddington. "No, [writers] don’t need to move to the northern hemisphere. The old boundaries and borders are less and less relevant. The work of great Australian writers is relevant to readers anywhere in the world."
This Way Up is at Kings College, London, from May 29 to June 1.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.