So today I argued with an American about guns…

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Another day another big-news US shooting. It is really depressing to think that since writing my original piece on this subject a couple of years ago literally nothing has changed, other than more people confined to an early grave due to a problem which so far doesn’t even seem like getting even the start of a solution. So I’ve gone back and explored a couple of hours which I used to debate on Twitter with a US tweeter about gun control in an attempt to see how these people tick. The whole thing started with a witty Ricky Gervais tweet and pretty much went from there.

In the interest of fairness I haven’t used his user name here, I simply refer to him as ‘The Sheriff’, a name I decided was quite apt for the discussion.

Here’s the conversation in full:

Ricky Gervais
I think everyone should be forced to own a gun. That way no one would die as everyone would be protected, right?
It makes perfect sense.

The Sheriff
so do you think criminals will adhere to gun laws? Most people who own guns are responsible. Why punish the majority?

Me
So I’m just curious, do you believe in legalising all drugs?

The Sheriff
yes I do. What people want to do to their own bodies is no business of mine.

Me
Great, so can we see the senate putting this through any time soon do you think? Got to be consistent.

The Sheriff
yeah, because we all know how consistent government is.

Me
What about legalising rape, or murder? The majority of people still won’t want to do it anyway.

The Sheriff
don’t be silly. Those are acts that impede on others’ basic human rights.

Me
Is it a human right to not be shot at?

The Sheriff
it’s a right to be able to protect yourself from harm, or any violence that is brought upon you.

Me
Only in your country, which coincidentally has the highest gun murder rates in the developed world.

The Sheriff
obviously you haven’t looked at your rape, assault, or robbery rates. Or any violent crimes not dealing with guns.

Me
So unless you can get rid of ALL crimes it’s not worth doing anything about gun deaths?

The Sheriff
gun deaths are inflated by counting suicide and self-defense. Your gun laws allow criminals to commit crimes w/ impunity.

Me
They still end up dead. It’s surely better to have less people dead? Especially with suicides.

The Sheriff
if someone wants to kill themselves, that’s their business.

Me
my other point? Mass shootings? If someone wants to kill a load of school children? Their business?

The Sheriff
the cities with the highest rate of gun murders and violence are the ones with the most stringent gun laws.

Me
Australia had 13 mass shootings in 15 years. Since strict gun control in 1996 they haven’t had a single mass shooting.

The Sheriff
but they are second in violent crimes.

Me
you seem to rank people being killed lower than being assaulted, very strange. US violent crime plus gun crime still higher.

Me
Example: we recently had a kid at a school go crazy with a knife, result: 4 people hospitalised with minor injuries. No deaths. Hardly made national news.

The Sheriff
my point is that gun laws won’t prevent violence or crime. Shouldn’t we be more concerned with the root of the problem?

Me
No, you don’t seem able to tell the difference between life and death, your argument portrays that, I hope someday you will.

I think this exchange reflects the obsessive attitudes some people in the US have towards their gun rights, and it ultimately portrays how the pro-gun lobby try to twist facts and figures to suit their argument, with not a single admission of any faults or responsibility in their own system.

What I found most interesting about this exchange was that the user actually remained calm and clearly his point-of-view was deep-rooted. I wasn’t by any means debating with someone who couldn’t string a sentence together, nor was he posting outrageously ludicrous lines which I am well used to seeing, especially on Twitter. Plenty of other users subsequently came along for the ride, but I picked this conversation because he at least tried to put a coherent argument to me. However in reality I think the exchange was even more frightening in that respect, as he still didn’t seem to grasp what is in actual fact, a really simple solution to a really major problem. Inevitably I received some fairly imaginative replies to my Tweets – one contribution peaked at ‘you will see a what mass shooting is if you try an Australian style confiscation here’. Then when I quizzed him further about what he would actually do if somebody told him to hand in his firearms he replied – ‘I flat guarantee you that I will kill, and I’m not alone’. This preceded me being called ‘Polo boy’ by one user (If you could visit the part of Liverpool I am from you would quickly realise that we don’t have many polo players) while his friend told me that American gun owners will ‘save the UK like they did before.’ Another tweeter told me that cars should be limited to 55 mph, while abortion was inexplicably brought into the equation by another. All of these fine upstanding gentlemen however came to the unanimous conclusion that it was me who didn’t care about deaths, and apparently this is why…

The most common argument I hear in support of the gun lobby is that the violent crime rate in countries where firearms are more strictly controlled is higher than the USA, where they aren’t. Let’s just explore that point alone and try to explain why it is in fact so far wide of the mark, and ultimately is a ridiculous point to make. First and foremost the obvious reason is that when looking at it logically, the statistic is actually bogus – in fact the only way this statistic can possibly be true is the perverse notion of regarding being shot (wounded or killed) as a non-violent crime. You see what the gun fanatics have figured out is a way to morally separate gun crime and violent crime as if some, if not most of it doesn’t overlap. In doing this they have taken arguably their biggest social problem out of the equation completely, leading to a huge amount of crime which results in a gun being fired to kill or wound being blissfully disregarded. They have then grouped together the remainder of their so-called violent crimes (the ones that didn’t involve someone being shot) and compared that alone with the unabridged violent crimes of other developed nations. Needless to say that if US gun crime and violent crime is combined it by far eclipses the equivalent in other developed countries by a huge margin. This is a very important, but simple point to make -if guns are so cheap and readily available, then why would people (especially criminals and those who are mentally ill) bother using less effective ways of hurting/killing each other such as knives or bats? Also it is worth pointing out that many crimes which are deemed ‘violent crimes’ in the UK are not in the United States, so therefore the like-for-like comparison simply doesn’t work. But don’t take my word for it, let’s quickly look at the official, but noticeably different definitions of violent crime:

United Kingdom: “Violent crime contains a wide range of offences, from minor assaults such as pushing and shoving that result in no physical harm through to serious incidents of wounding and murder. Around a half of violent incidents identified by both BCS and police statistics involve no injury to the victim.”(THOSB – CEW, page 17, paragraph 1.)

United States: “In the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, violent crime is composed of four offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Violent crimes are defined in the UCR Program as those offenses which involve force or threat of force.”   (FBI – CUS – Violent Crime)

I thought we were taught at a very young age that there is no point in lying to ourselves?

This was taken from a really well-researched piece by a fellow blogger which should be read and absorbed by any US citizen making the violent crime argument, read the full piece here.

My second criticism of this standpoint is that even if violent crime was higher, it is still somewhat of a ridiculous observation to make. The example I made of the deranged pupil in the UK who took a knife into his school to kill other children is a really important one, in that the boy was ultimately restrained and nobody died, with only 4 people injured. It takes a creative mind to just completely overlook this when exploring the Sandy Hook shooting in which 28 people died, a school-based mass shooting which sadly is just one of the many in recent US history. It is totally incomparable. If somebody is physically attacked in the street is it honestly a viable solution that everyone involved then shoots and kills each other? The result of being shot multiple times does generally tend to achieve more of a conclusive finale to your life than virtually any other means of attack. Of course nobody wants to be stabbed, bludgeoned, or physically assaulted in any way for that matter, but are we honestly to believe that unless you can stop all crime from happening altogether that its not worth doing anything about gun deaths and ultimately mass shootings? Also for the record, and to allay any left over confusion, I would personally rather be attacked in pretty much every way possible than to be shot in the head. Controversial I know, but in reality not a lot of people are able to list the advantages of being attacked in this particular way are they?

The most extraordinary point that surfaces in the gun control debate is that we need to tackle ‘the root of the problem’ and that debating gun control is somehow stopping us from doing so. Firstly, at face-value I totally agree with this idea. Proper rehabilitation and having adequate services to work with criminals, and more importantly those younger people on the verge of committing crimes and becoming criminals is paramount in tackling the root of the problem. But it’s quite hard to do that when their brains are blown out on the pavement. This is possibly where their argument becomes just a tad sketchy.

You see your average gun-fanatic doesn’t seem to realise that death is so unequivocally final. These people love guns and that’s pretty much the thick and thin of it. It’s as simple as that. To be completely honest it isn’t even as complex an issue worthy of debates such as the one I had. It is not about the second amendment and it is not about self-defence. It is about an unhealthy obsession with something extremely dangerous that kills a lot of people.

I liken it to a drug problem, and you know the first sign of tackling a drug problem, is realising that you have a drug problem.

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My reply to Louise Ellman MP and Stephen Twigg MP’s open letter to Liverpool

Please read their open letter to Liverpool Labour here
To: stephen.twigg.mp@parliament.uk, louise.ellman.mp@parliament.uk
Subject: Re: Open Letter to Liverpool Labour

To Louise Ellman MP and Stephen Twigg MP,

(please also forward this email or make it available to the councillors who co-signed your letter)

First of all I thank you for your open letter. I have often felt the need to possess some concrete evidence of how out of touch the local Labour Party is becoming to our great city of Liverpool, but believe me since the General Election I have not been found wanting.

Let me first just explain a bit about who I am. I have lived in Liverpool all of my life (which is approaching its thirtieth year) and most of those thirty years have been spent living within your constituency Stephen Twigg MP. Throughout my years I have also worked for a wide range of organisations within all of the fore-mentioned MP’s and Councillor’s wards, and have had direct employment and dealings with the local council both in its current nearly-exclusively Labour capacity, as well as in a Labour-led mixed capacity, and also many years ago when it was a Liberal Democrat led organisation. Up until this year’s General Election I had voted for Labour at every single national and local election since turning 18 years old. For someone who is unashamedly left-wing (not hard/extreme/far/ just left) I was a full member of the party who actively campaigned for Labour at the 2010 General Election. I have been a supporter of the party on the whole even through the Blair and Brown years where the definition of a centre ground in politics had shifted significantly to the right.

Now to your letter – first of all your piece alludes to the seemingly go-to party line that Jeremy Corbyn isn’t the person to win back marginal seats that Labour MPs have lost to the Tories over the years. Now other than this being a grossly over-simplified view of the current political outlook let me just say this to you Stephen, I find it absolutely unbelievable that you feel you have the record and experience to sign this letter. You are yourself an MP who lost a marginal seat in 2001 to the Tories, I’m sure you remember this. Do you also remember how you were subsequently parachuted into Liverpool West Derby, as safe a Labour seat as there can be, in order to get you back into Parliament? If you genuinely feel you have the party’s best interests at heart and that you, more than the members and supporters themselves, know what is best for Labour then please feel free and go to contest one of those target Tory seats yourself. It’s also worth noting that 2 weeks ago I saw Jeremy Corbyn for the first time in my life, however I am still waiting to see you for the first time in my constituency Stephen. I didn’t even see you in the run up to the election. Maybe I just missed you, however I did manage to see every other party during that time. Funny that isn’t it?

I am happy that through your letter I now have the chance to respond to you directly Stephen and Louise. About those “communities throughout our city suffering because of the policies of the Tory government” you mentioned – let me say as a near-lifelong supporter of your party that I am absolutely disgusted in your abstention on the welfare bill vote. I simply cannot fathom how MPs of a city such as Liverpool believe that this is what their constituents wanted. It is nothing short of an absolute disgrace and I genuinely hope you understand this. I therefore again find it incredible that you both even have the gall to write this patronising letter to members, supporters and trade union affiliates. Why do you think they will listen to you after your capitulation to a right-wing welfare bill that will directly send many of them further into poverty?

Congratulations, you are both a direct example of why a lot of people think politicians are on another planet.

Now to the councillors who have signed. As someone with the experience listed above, I have had many dealings and interaction with the local council. I feel the best way to get my point across is to just list some of what I’ve seen during the time Labour gained control in 2010, so here we go:

  • Lying about how much will be cut from certain budgets
  • Lying about where organisations will be relocated to
  • Leaders within the council being asked to cut a certain amount and then setting out to cut more (you asked for 10% but I’ll give you 20% kind of mentality) to prove owns worth
  • Being aggressive to and calling peaceful activists taking signatures to save a local library a ‘disgrace’
  • Pulling all funding out of organisations after sending official letter stating the opposite
  • Continually labelling those ordinary people campaigning against cuts as ‘extreme’

The list could go on and on believe me. Now I understand (although I don’t agree) that the council has taken a line to impose cuts without exception. But I am forever asking why it seems as if many councillors are taking pleasure in doing so. Trust me I’m by no means alone in thinking this too. As a group the council just doesn’t seem to understand that by definition if you call peaceful anti-cuts campaigners a ‘disgrace’ then in turn you are in favour of those cuts. It’s therefore no surprise to me that so many local councillors (not just those who signed this letter) are backing Liz Kendall.

You would all undoubtedly serve her well and fit right in as part of her Conservative, I mean Labour council.

I felt the need to reply to you all not because I feel you will be convincing anyone with your words, in fact I suspect your advice will meet the same reaction to that of Mr Blair, Mr Campbell, and Mr McTernan. However I do sincerely believe that you need to have a long hard think about your position in our city. Labour has already lost Scotland to a clearer anti-austerity message. Ask yourself this, would the party ever recover from losing areas such as Liverpool and other strongholds in the North East etc. You are forever taking us for granted, that in itself is bad enough, but completely betraying us last month and then sending such a condescending letter, treating us as if we don’t actually know what is best for ourselves, is on another level entirely. Further to this Louise, I was under the impression that 2 weeks ago you were recommending that your members vote for Yvette Cooper, but now you are recommending Liz Kendall. In future it might be a good idea to actually work out what you actually think yourself before you tell everybody else what is best for them.

Finally I would like to know from Stephen and Louise that even after this extremely petty episode of advocating the ‘anyone but Corbyn’ stance (which is becoming more desperate by the day) whether you would in fact support Jeremy should he become Labour leader? Given that he would have the universal backing of Labour members and supporters, and additionally looks quite clear that has the backing of the city you pretend to represent.

Thank you for reading.

Hugo Waters

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The media are already running scared of Jeremy Corbyn – my response to ‘paid troll’ Dan Hodges…

Ahh the British media, as predictable as ever…

When Jeremy Corbyn made it onto the Labour leadership ballot yesterday with only two minutes to spare I braced myself, ready for the media circus to begin. It is of course an inevitability that the likes of the Daily Mail and The Sun will lead the way on this, but it was the Telegraph (who at the moment seem to be on a mission to out-Daily-Mail the Daily Mail) and principally Dan Hodges that took the early lead, describing supporters of Corbyn as ‘acolytes in denial’ before he was even on the ballot paper. Subsequently in his first piece since Corbyn gained the votes required to stand, Hodges labelled elements within the party as ‘bats**t crazy,’ and his supporters as the ‘lunatic wing’ of the Labour party.

Yawn.

An internet troll who has somehow gained employment to write for a living, Hodges embodies everything that ordinary members of the Labour party have grown so very tired with. A closeted right-winger who despite both voting for and promoting the values of Boris Johnson of all people, is either ashamed to fully come out as a Tory, or even worse sees the lucrative potential in remaining linked with Labour and being falsely portrayed as some sort of progressive. Hodges is the journalistic equivalent to the right-wing, out of touch Labour MPs who see their role within the party as a career rather than a voice for the public. They are rife within the party, and whether Hodges likes it or not, large scores of Labour members hate that.

His latest article titled ‘Jeremy Corbyn proves the lunatic wing of the Labour Party is still calling the shots’ on the whole makes very little sense, massively contradicts itself and scores a zero in regards to facts and research. His writing is essentially a selection of throw-away lines aimed at the politically unaware who as he describes in the piece ‘catch their politics via peripheral vision.’

He talks about how Blair came to power – “One of the great myths of Labour’s victory in 1997 was that it was secured because Tony Blair constructed a “big tent” that was politically inclusive. In fact, that victory was secured because Blair – and Neil Kinnock before him – made a point of kicking the hard Left out of the tent. And then when they got them out of the tent they kept kicking them. ”

Oh I see, so what about this year then? Can we also describe the Scottish National Party which (like them or not) ran an election campaign on a clear anti-austerity platform as ‘kicking Labour out of Scotland’ (or we can call it ‘the tent’ for continuity purposes) or does that simply not apply because it totally contradicts his extremely narrow argument? What about the votes Labour lost to the Greens, who again run an unashamedly left wing campaign? Crucially, what about the votes Labour lost in the North to UKIP? Yes, that’s right, UKIP, who’s supporters in that part of the country when polled are consistently in favour of traditionally left wing policies such as re-nationalising the rail service, freezing energy prices, tackling tax-avoidance, and higher taxes for the rich. UKIP voters aren’t necessarily right-wing just because the party they vote for is, and that is the crucial point. UKIP is seen as a protest vote, in the same way that the Liberal Democrat Party used to be. The Lib Dems coincidentally used to take a lot of the Labour vote too, this was until they became the party to protest against with their role in the coalition, particularly in regards to their disgusting U-turn on tuition fees. Hodges, who is staunchly against electoral reform in favour of the status quo has put himself in a peculiar position, in that his conclusions inadvertently support the idea that the left has a big role to play in British politics. Given that he doesn’t believe that UKIP and the Greens deserved more seats in parliament as their share of the vote suggested, he must conclude that the SNP are as big as their vote suggests. Again, this is a party driven by a deep hatred of Tory ideals, a party who want to reverse austerity, and whether you believe they will do it or not is irrelevant, as these are the values that the majority of Scottish people voted for. Does this not count? Or did Hodges really think as he penned an article about how left wing policies are outdated and unelectable, that he would be able to get away with not mentioning that the UK is currently on the verge of breaking up altogether because nearly an entire country within it has turned its back on the status quo in the most recent general election (that was this year by the way, not the 1970s) in favour of electing a party advocating strictly left wing policies and ideas?

Quite a big issue to brush under the carpet don’t you think?

For those of you that don’t know, I used to be a big Labour supporter. So big in fact that I was actually an active member who campaigned for the party during the 2010 general election. Even at a younger age I believed that although the party had shifted away from its core values and principles, that it was still more favourable to have them in power than the Tories. I also believed that for the party to change, radical change had to come from within the party. As a member I voted for Ed Miliband during the leadership election triggered by Gordon Brown’s resignation. I genuinely believed that Miliband would deliver that change.

Fourteen months after voting for Miliband, I left the party altogether and haven’t voted for them since. On the 30th November 2011 members from the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), including members of my immediate family, were out on strike after negotiations (if you can call them that, and that in essence was the issue) stalled with the government over pension reform. I foolishly expected Miliband to maybe fall just short of joining those on strike, but at the very least expected him to back the strike. In the end, he did the complete opposite and publically condemned them. I couldn’t help but notice that in contrast Miliband actually initially supported, and then went on to remain neutral in regards to the Unison strike earlier in the month. Being the eternal cynic (especially in regards to politics) I came to the conclusion that as Unison was affiliated with Labour and the party received a massive chunk of funding from them, and PCS weren’t, that he found an easy and politically acceptable target to condemn in PCS. Now please don’t take this as a criticism of Unison either – I believe that funding from Unions is by extension funding from ordinary working people, and is a perfectly acceptable way of raising funds for the Labour party, and by far a more credible means of supporting a political party than say big businesses donating, and in-turn expecting political favour. However, his callousness on this issue alone was enough for me to leave. Crucially, whether I was right or wrong on this point in the end simply didn’t matter, because as time went on my departure was continually justified over and over again.

Which brings me to this important point. The number one biggest lie in respect to why Labour lost the general election, is that Miliband lost support because he was too left wing.

Simply put, he just wasn’t.

Throughout the Tory Lib-Dem Coalition government’s time in office, strikes were plentiful. Tube strikes, NHS strikes, Fire Service strikes, GP strikes, University strikes, the list goes on and on. Do you know how many strikes hard line lefty ‘Red Ed’ supported? You guessed it, none. Staying with the Unions, Ed Miliband was the first Labour leader, including Blair, to actually legislate to reduce the Union’s sway over the party. He made them seem like something we should be ashamed of, and something that ultimately his party needed to distance themselves from, therefore he’s hardly bloody Bob Crow is he? From a policy point of view, do you honestly believe that a genuinely left wing leader of the opposition would have taken so long to oppose the bedroom tax, when activists such as myself were opposing it locally for months? Make no mistake, Labour waited to see if the public would let the Tories get away with imposing the bedroom tax, and only decided to reverse it should they get into power after immense pressure from members and the public as a whole. Do you believe that a genuine left-winger would have come out and backed virtually every Tory welfare cut, and pledge to keep them in place should he win? On the whole, even if he was just moderately left wing, far short of The Sun’s depiction of him as the ghost of Stalin, he wouldn’t have promoted austerity in any form. The portrayal of him was completely and utterly skewed beyond belief. The truth is that if Ed Miliband was genuinely as left wing as he was made out to be, I wouldn’t have left the party, and I certainly would at the very least have voted for them in May. Possibly, as mentioned above, the two vaguely left wing policies he put forward were freezing energy prices, and tackling tax avoidance. But in reality these are pretty safe, and he knew that, as public opinion is largely in favour of them. Therefore by definition they can’t be described as radical. I’ll concede that the Mansion Tax was maybe slightly more left wing, but that’s hardly Miliband’s own doing, considering it was on the Liberal Democrat manifesto in 2010 when Ed wasn’t even leading the Labour Party.

When Labour MPs and the media talk about the party needing to shift to the right, it isn’t because they think it will help you, it is because they know it will help them.

At a time when nearly the whole of Scotland, the stereotypical Labour heartland rejected the party for a perceived left wing alternative, a time when the left wing Green Party’s membership shot through the roof and share of the vote increased, a time where large scores of the disengaged working class voted for UKIP with the notion that the mainstream parties are all the same, now is exactly the right time for Labour to offer a true alternative.

Or you can ignore all that, call him a dinosaur, and call us all loony lefties.

The time has finally come for us to take our party back and make it a genuine Labour Party once again.

Get involved in Jeremy’s campaign here and more importantly register to vote either through your union, or sign up as a supporter with the party for only £3.

#corbyn4leader

If you agree with the points in this article then please follow @Hugo_Waters on Twitter HERE

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Why criticising Israel does not make you anti-Semitic…

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It’s becoming all too common that when debating the Israel/Palestine question the serious and potentially libelous accusation of being anti-Semitic is easily earned if you don’t happen to fall on the Israeli side of the argument. I want to explain in a couple of brief points why this accusation is in-fact so far wide of the mark.

As with anything, there’s no better place to start than the beginning. Although the concept of a beginning appears to be a changeable parameter for many Zionists, in that what is seen as the beginning seems to morph conveniently into which ever point in history best suits the particular issue they are debating at the time. Given that in their coverage of any Israeli involvement in the conflict all mainstream media outlets in the UK and US (barring a very select few) seemingly sit on the fence at best, and propagandise at worst, it’s no wonder why some very relevant facts escape the average Joe on the street, especially eluding those armchair-Zionists we hear from all to often. For instance, it’s far from common knowledge amongst the general public that the original Zionist movement who both championed the idea of and actually went on to found the state of Israel was initially comprised mainly of European Atheists who essentially believed that Jewish people should all live together in one state. More importantly the collective believed that this state should be away from what they believed was their (mainly) European countries, places where the Jews had legitimately settled in throughout history. You could therefore quite easily take the stance that the whole initial idea of Zionism and founding the state of Israel was actually anti-Semitic in itself, as the movement unashamedly believed that Jews shouldn’t stay in their adopted countries – where in many cases they may have lived for thousands of years. Without this hugely ignorant and divisive standpoint by the very architects of the state of Israel, Jewish people would have simply continued to have been classed as citizens of whichever country they lived in at the time. Of course the Jews pwere facing persecution in much of Europe at the time, but surely the answer shouldn’t have been for the very leaders who were either indifferent to that persecution, or worse still complicit in it, to lobby for the encouragement of those people to leave places they had lived for thousands of years to move to somewhere, seemingly anywhere (we’ll come to that later) far enough away from Europe as possible. However these facts are conveniently forgotten by those ardent supporters of Israel, in-turn leading to large parts of the world’s population to believe that Israel was set-up after the sickening treatment of the Jews during the Holocaust. The fact is that the official process of setting up the state of Israel was started in 1917 – some 24 years before the Holocaust.

As I have also eluded to, contrary to what blind supporters of Zionism spout on a daily basis, the location actually had no significant meaning either. The founders of the Zionist movement didn’t even initially consider Palestine to be the destination for the new Jewish State of Israel. Looking at a world map with the ease of a travel agent helping someone to book a family holiday, the initial locations considered for the founding of a Jewish state included Argentina, Uganda, the USSR, Japan, Madagascar, and the Seychelles. Make no mistake, this is a very important fact to remember when debating this issue, as Israel’s religious claim to the land is often used as the main justification for controversial policies such as illegal settlements in the West Bank, as well as a claim to the state on the whole. Even if you do believe that the descendants of a group of people have a right to return to the land where they lived thousands of years ago (how the people who claim this have traced their ancestry back so far is another baffling thought) and throw the people out who have lived there ever since (pretty much the whole of Europe would be handed over to descendants of Romans in that case) then your view wasn’t even shared by the very founders of Israel, so therefore surely cannot be justified by it’s existence.

Another very important factor in this debate is that many Jewish people around the world, including an increasing amount in the USA have for many years started to turn away from the idea of supporting Israeli policy, mainly as Israel’s ideals and values simply do not match up with theirs. This can be argued is from both a religious and political point-of-view. One of the reasons Jewish people faced persecution in Europe throughout the end of the 19th and large parts of the 20th century was their liberal views and left-wing political leanings. It was, after all, Jewish scholars who founded the idea of Communism and Socialism. This cannot possibly be matched with the current state of Israel, which seemingly has had every last strain of liberalism squeezed out of it by decades of consecutive Conservative governments, worryingly becoming even more right wing with each term. You wouldn’t believe it with the way the situation is reported in the media, but a significant proportion of the world’s Jews aren’t in favour of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians, including very brave factions of Israelis actually living there. It’s an inconvenient truth for hard-line Zionists to accept, and to avoid the prospect of outrageously labeling a large chunk of the world’s Jews, including scores of Rabbis as being anti-Semitic for having the same views as other critics of Israeli policy, it’s much easier to just blissfully pretend these people don’t exist. It’s no coincidence that constant polling suggests that supporters of the Palestinian struggle tend to have left wing political views, where as supporters of Israel in its current form are overwhelmingly right wing. Couple that with the fact that left-wingers tend to have (and are heavily criticised for it) more liberal views in regards to religious tolerance, race and immigration, then you have a massive contradiction in large portions of this group then being branded as anti-Semitic. It simply does not match up.

Although I am not a supporter of Hamas, I am most certainly a critic of Israel in its current form. I firmly believe that in the last year of the conflict, particularly with its stance in Gaza, Israel will continue to alienate supporters. It’s very rare that public opinion goes against the line of the media, but on this topic it has undoubtedly swayed in favour of the Palestinians. Labeling critics as anti-Semitic at the drop of a hat instead of exploring why they criticise you will not solve anything. Until Israeli leaders look sincerely at why so many liberal, open-minded people are criticising its position, the situation will not move forward.

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It’s simple, the far right hates facts. My follow-up to “5 things idiots believe about Muslims…”

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Some of the reaction to my previous article “5 things idiots believe about Muslims which just aren’t true” reminded me of an old stand-up routine from comedian Stewart Lee. In the event that you aren’t familiar with his work, I’ll start my post with a shortened version of what he said:

“You do meet people who have very fixed notions about other groups of people. I’ll give you an example of what I mean, I was in a cab in London in December, and about five minutes into the journey, early on a Sunday morning, the cab driver turned around to me and he said “I think all homosexuals should be killed.” Now whatever you think of that as a statement, you have to admit it’s a bold opening conversational gamble with a stranger. And I was a bit taken aback , I said to him “Oh why do you think that?” And then there was a pause, becuase he’d obviously never had to go to the next level of the argument before. So he eventually said “Well, because homosexuality is immoral.” And I said, this is honestly true, “I’m not sure how much weight you can afford to place on the notion of morality in this argument, because morality is not a fixed thing, it changes it’s parameters culturally and historically over time. For example look at ancient Greece, to this day we still take most of our most fundamental principles about ethics, aesthetics, philosophy, medicine and Science, from ancient Greece. And yet, in ancient Greece, love between two men, far from being immoral, was actually considered the highest, most ethical, most profound form, if you will, most moral form of love that there could be. I’m just saying I’m not sure how useful morality is, given its flexible nature, as a cornerstone of your argument on this subject.”
And then he said to me “Well, you can prove anything with facts, can’t you?”
I thought Hang on…that’s the most fantastic way of winning an argument that I’ve heard! I’m not interested in facts. I find they tend to cloud my judgement. I prefer to rely on instinct and blind prejudice!”

When I first posted my article and it received those first few shares, I was keen to get involved in any debate which came out of it, and in those early days I was able to do this. When the article was approaching 250,000 views in less than a week the ability to do so was obviously reduced. The piece was literally all over the world. It was featured on websites as far as Singapore, USA, and Saudi Arabia, as well as the massive views I’ve mentioned on my own site from virtually every part of the world. I did manage to have some really good discussions with people in that earlier period though. One critic even led me to change the title of one of my points. But, as you probably guessed, some of the discussions weren’t so good. I am posting four of those here for you, and I’m doing so for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I was told on a number of occasions that my piece was maybe a little bit ‘straw man,’ meaning the issues I raised weren’t actually issues at all. I definitely beg to differ, although I wish with all my heart that I was wrong. Secondly, a massive talking point (which mainly came from people who praised the piece) was that I shouldn’t have used the word ‘idiot’ in the title. On both of these points I believe some of the discussions you’ll see below will most definitely justify my approach.

I’ll always remember the first comment I received on my post. He opened with the statement: “The Muslim woman who wrote this seems very bitter.” Now I’ll discard the fact that it takes a very creative mind to presume that a person named Hugo is a woman, but in addition to this weird presumption, literally the first line of my article reads “Let me lay my cards on the table, I am not a religious person…”- I was completely baffled. When I explained to him that what he said could be discounted five seconds into reading my post he came back with an even more baffling statement, writing: “Well you are obviously just very passionate, sorry for the confusion.” Shortly after this exchange he deleted his comments. How could I go from being bitter, because I was a Muslim, to being passionate because I wasn’t? I quickly realised that this is really where the problem lies. It’s because I am not a Muslim that the usual one-dimensional arguments people use just don’t work. I’m not talking about those who had genuine debates, in contrast, there are some extremely good discussions going on, especially on the original blog-post, about different practices and different cultures, all from people who live in vastly different parts of the world. But you see, the people who are capable of taking part in a civilised debate about the topics I covered aren’t the ones I’m worried about, and they weren’t the ones I aimed the piece at. The far-right simply aren’t capable of taking part in a civilised debate, facts are just seen as obstacles in their path of recruiting ever more desperate people to share and promote their lies.

Here are some examples of those early debates. In the interest of fairness (although I really didn’t have to) I have blocked out second names and photos in black, and obviously any bad language in red.

1. Terry the self-proclaimed ‘judgemental angry racist.’

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It’s safe to say Terry wasn’t interested in debating any further with Amina. The tolerance she displayed when debating with him in such a respectful manner obviously didn’t suit the image he had of what she should be like. Amina was essentially a massive inconvenience for the agenda he was trying to promote. I also noticed that our Tez tried ever so desperately to find some common ground with me, simply because we’re from the same country, then called me a blind sheep. Oh dear. The bit about him being scared that ‘if in years to come’ he has a daughter she will have to share a husband with five other wives is actually laughable, in that I did a properly genuine laugh-out-loud when I read it.

2. Boyan judges people ‘by their actions,’ except when he doesn’t.

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Now I should explain why Boyan’s text is paler than everyone else’s. While being paler than others is something Boyan might usually be proud of, in this instance maybe not so much. Writing some extremely racist and unpleasant things regarding Arabs and camels probably wasn’t his finest moment, and ultimately led to him being banned from my page. He also resorted to just randomly replying to other people’s posts with F**K ISLAM!!! He had, quite clearly, lost whatever argument he was trying to make.

3.  Mark likes to debate with himself…

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Again, we can’t let facts get in the way of a good argument can we?! The fact that Mark asks why Muslim countries can’t be secular and then proceeds to reel off a big list of secular Muslim majority countries is comedic. As with Terry, Mark wasn’t seen debating this particular issue again.

4. Daz and his grooming gangs…

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As short and sweet as it is, I have to admit that this is my favourite. If ever there was a clear example of how isolated statistics concocted with blatantly ignorant views can be so mixed-up and fail so spectacularly it is surely this. Can you honestly imagine if this statement was true? Out of 3 million Muslims living in the UK, 94% of those are either paedophiles or are aiding them? It is just ridiculous. Presumably a very large portion of the Muslim population in the UK are children themselves so he’s failed already, but to be honest I don’t even feel the need to dissect what he has said with any real meaning. It is obviously so blindingly idiotic that it’s best left standing alone.

Why?

You may be wondering why I am even giving light to some of these exchanges. Online comments and discussions on the whole are becoming increasingly labelled by those who are capable of debate, as the worst way of debating. But in fairness that’s just the world we live in, and it isn’t going to change anytime soon. A big reason why the far-right are making advances in countries like my own is the medium of social networking, and just ignoring that won’t do us any favours.

Of course once the piece was getting such heavy traffic (it received over 60,000 views in a single day at it’s height) I expected a good amount of racist abuse and personal attacks, but I was glad that on the whole large sections of the comment on my article consisted of sane people debating religion. I also very much appreciated the positive comments. It was a long piece and it did take a decent amount of time to write so I’m glad so many of you liked it. Like I have mentioned, I am not religious, and any constructive debate and criticism of religion is fine by me. But what I have seen from both the positive and negative reaction to my article is that Islam is undoubtedly singled out as being much worse than other faiths, and it’s followers are generalised in a way that in my opinion is totally unique in the world. This alone justified me writing the piece, and ultimately is something that I will always aim to challenge.

In conclusion…

A really interesting thing that I noticed in the reaction to my piece is that for a religion which we are constantly told has zero tolerance for non-believers or other faiths, just take a look at all the comments on Facebook, Twitter, or the article itself and you’ll be in for a bit of a surprise. Out of hundreds (approaching a thousand) of comments on my website I couldn’t count more than two disrespectful replies from those describing themselves as Muslim, and trust me, they were by no means unprovoked. Some of the comments I have read attacking Islam itself, or the culture of the people who follow it, and preaching Christianity as ‘the only’ way to live, have actually been met by sane rational debate from very moderate Muslims. Quite often they are living in the countries which are continually being slandered by those who seem to know nothing about them. I’m not sugar coating this, even when their religion and culture was being grossly misunderstood at best, and racially attacked at worst, I just didn’t see this universally intolerant standpoint we’re led to believe Islam teaches to it’s followers. It just simply didn’t happen. This is in stark contrast to the predictably ignorant knuckle-dragging comments from those on the far-right which most definitely did happen, and in a large number I might add. Again, go and take a look.

You see the irrational fears of those who have been sucked into the far-right, those like Terry, that their hypothetical children of the future will be forced to share a Muslim husband with five other wives is just that, irrational. I have a very rational fear. A fear that the far-right is brainwashing ordinary working people, and assisted by a largely biased media and a shift to the right for virtually every mainstream political party in the Western World, it is sadly getting worse. My fear isn’t for hypothetical children, it is for those very real children who are being increasingly led to believe that other cultures are something you should be fearful or resentful of. For every Terry, Boyan, Mark, and Daz, there is potentially children who will have their bigoted views passed on to them. That is my fear, and it’s most certainly one that together we can and must eradicate.

If you agree with the points in this article then please follow @Hugo_Waters on Twitter HERE

Or like his Page on Facebook HERE

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5 things idiots believe about Muslims which just aren’t true…

Let me lay my cards on the table. I am not a religious person. I don’t discount all faiths in their entirety, but I wouldn’t say I believe in enough of any of the mainstream religions to even lean towards one in particular. I do however respect people’s religious beliefs, whilst also myself believing that religion shouldn’t be beyond question or criticism. This article isn’t about me somehow glorifying Islam or putting its teachings beyond question. It is about leveling the playing field so we don’t discriminate against the faith significantly more than we do with others. There is a growing consensus that the more liberal-thinking people are wrongly pandering to some sort of Islamic lobby, and in that sense we are aiding a kind of Fox News, Daily Mail Special Addition of The Armageddon. I have been called a ‘traitor’ (and much worse) many times for simply challenging ignorant and bigoted views about Muslims. This article is simply about how when people use the term ‘Muslim’ in such a broad way, it is not only extremely discriminatory, but also quite simply, stupid.

1. Female Genital Mutilation is a Muslim problem

Before we delve into this first point, as I mentioned before, no religion is beyond question, and I’m quite comfortable in making the assertion that all religions are male-dominated. They all still have a very long way to come, both in their views of women in society in general, and also the role of women within the faiths themselves. But it is beyond question that when it comes to discrimination against women, Islam is seen as being way out on its own in not only its views and attitudes towards women, but its treatment of them too.

The number one worst lie in this respect (and believe me there is a long list) is the portrayal of Female Genital Mutilation (or FGM) being a ‘Muslim problem.’ Now for those who don’t know, this barbaric practice involves babies having an incision (also described as circumcision) without any anesthetic, which essentially removes the clitoris. The deluded reasoning behind this practice is that by removing the clitoris the child will remain pure. Now before we go into facts and figures, there is absolutely nothing in the Quran about FGM. This alone should be enough to prevent people being able to call it a Muslim problem – how can it be when there is nothing in its teachings about it? But let’s go further, nowhere in Muslim majority states does this practice occur, apart from in isolated parts of Central Africa. It doesn’t happen anywhere in the Middle East, it doesn’t happen anywhere in North Africa, and it doesn’t happen anywhere in Asia. Furthermore, staying within the same region of Africa, did you know that Ethiopia has a 75% rate of FGM amongst its population, and that it’s a Christian majority country? Did you also know that Eritrea has almost 90% of FGM, and again, it is a Christian country? FGM can therefore more accurately described as a regional problem. Consequently, if it only occurs in nations within the same cluster of central Africa, it can quite justifiably be labelled a central African problem. Along with the Quran there is nothing in The Bible about the practice, so the two religions cannot legitimately be brought into the argument. It is a good example of people doing something in-spite of their religion, not because of it. But regardless, I hear of the issue being a ‘Muslim problem’ almost every time there is a debate on it. This is a prime example of the media portraying something to push an agenda, which sadly a large portion of the general public lap-up without question.

2. Muslim Societies Don’t Advocate Equal Rights

Again, equal rights for women is lacking in pretty much every part of the world. But as with the previous point, Muslim women seem to be used as the example of an unequal society. The driving ban for women in Saudi Arabia is the main course in the long set-menu of accusations seemingly attributed only to Muslim majority countries. People are very quick to forget that Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world to have such a ban. In fact there is no doubt that the most extreme country when it comes to equality is Saudi Arabia, which is all the more bizarre when you consider that Saudi Arabia is the US and UK’s closest ally in the region. When people talk about how double standards by The West harm its relationship within the Middle East as a whole, it’s not a myth, the reputation is well-earned by our politicians criticising human rights violations, equality issues, and democracy/dictatorship in the poorer countries within the region, whilst simultaneously having friendly relationships with an oil-rich country in Saudi Arabia who have by far the worst rights for women, zero tolerance for other religions, and not only do they not have any elections, the country is named after the family that rule it and probably always will be. Did you know for example that in the month following The West’s offensive against ISIS that Saudi Arabia beheaded 19 people? 19 people in 4 weeks. No-one knows what they did, and they definitely don’t seem interested in finding out or telling anyone about it either. Of course ISIS is a problem, but it’s the blatant hypocrisy of going to war (and literally flooding the news with nothing else in the process) against a group of people you could fit into an averagely sized football stadium while perpetuating a myth that it’s really against some sort of Islamic ideology that all 1.6 billion of the worlds Muslims believe in, in addition to selling the most extreme nation our weapons is what gives our leaders in The West a bad rap, and deservedly so.

Using the driving ban in Saudi Arabia as leverage against all Muslims worldwide would be the equivalent of using Uganda’s anti-gay laws – which currently advocate homosexuals being hunted down by the authorities, beaten freely, and sentenced to 12 years in jail, as leverage against Christianity. With Uganda being an 84% Christian country and the majority of the population lobbying to go even further and allow the death penalty to be used as the punishment for homosexuality, not once was the fact that they were a Christian country even brought up. Yet in stark contrast, stoning in Iran and the driving ban in Saudi Arabia are very much thought of as Muslim problems. The anti-gay law in Uganda is a Ugandan problem, stoning in Iran is an Iranian problem, the driving ban in Saudi Arabia is a Saudi Arabian problem. At best these points can be described as regional problems, as with the FGM point above, but how can they be classed as Christian or Muslim problems if the overwhelming majority of people within the faiths don’t do it?

Within Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim majority state with a population of 250 million, females have exactly the same rights as males, which I definitely wouldn’t say is represented in our media’s portrayal of the faith. But we’ll get onto how facts like these can be conveniently disregarded later in the article.

A few more facts about women’s equality in what people would describe as the Muslim world:

While the USA is still waiting for its first female president – did you know that Muslim majority countries have elected 7 female head of states in the last 50 years? In fact, continuing with politics, it’s also worth mentioning that the USA only has 18% of women currently elected to run and serve their country – that’s even less than Saudi Arabia, driving ban and all, who at 19.9% only started allowing women to even be elected a year ago. Further still that’s even less again than Pakistan, another nation who need to come a long way in regards to gender equality but somehow further beat the US at 20.7%. Like I’ve said, by no means am I saying that women in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia have a sweet deal, in fact I feel very comfortable in stating that women’s rights in those two particular countries leave a hell of a lot to be desired. So the fact that they have more women involved in their governments than the USA is particularly scorning at a time when extreme measures are being taken worldwide to increase female representation in politics.

3. Most Muslims are Arabs

One of the main reasons the issues above are misunderstood by so many people is that large parts of Western society believe that all or most Muslims are of Arabic origin and only live in the Middle East. When people are negatively ranting about Muslims they are usually referring to people in Middle Eastern countries, particularly the troubled spots they hear about on the news virtually all day, every day. States that often have hugely complex issues where frankly outside antagonists from both Western countries, along with China and Russia do not help. But all that aside it’s staggering to think that there are actually more Muslims living in Malaysia and Indonesia, countries which are both in Asia, than the whole of the Middle East and North Africa combined. In fact some may find it surprising that to learn that only around 25% of the worlds Muslims actually live in that particular region. About the same (if not slightly more) of the worlds Christians live on the African continent. Regardless of this, when people are talking about Christians I doubt the image they have in their mind is of a native Malawian, Ugandan, or Zimbabwean. The truth is that no other faith is so crudely generalised as the Muslim faith. Whenever atrocities occur in the Middle East, we always hear of how the ‘Muslim World’ or ‘Muslim Community’ needs come out and distance themselves or even apologise for the acts. Why would leading clerics or politicians in largely peaceful countries such as Malaysia, Turkey, Bangladesh, or Indonesia have to apologise for something that has happened in a competely different country by people with which they have virtually nothing in common with. The paradoxical equivalent that the Christian leaders in the UK would have needed to come out to apologise for Anders Breivik’s terrorist attacks in Norway sounds completely insane, and it is. The fact that the majority of the world’s Muslims live in the far east, in more secular countries, is a massive inconvenience for the media. It is so easy to get the general public on side if they project the idea of some sort of global religious war, one where a whole religion is actively setting out to eradicate other faiths and non-believers. I know it’s easy because I know so many people who genuinely believe that it is happening. The people I’m talking about aren’t exclusively made up of those paranoid delusional social media users who continue to baffle me with each comment on news feeds or Facebook posts. They are people I know in my personal life. But my question to them is: if you know that the idea you have in your head of what a Muslim is cannot possibly be correct, how can you continue to be so bigoted and make such outrageously ignorant statements about them?

4. “Most Muslims are Terrorists”

Some of this has been covered in the previous section but I’d like to explore just the terrorism part alone, together with some facts and figures. Our media is often quite rightly accused of scaremongering, and excessively flooding pages and air-time with exaggerated fear about terrorism. Fear, particularly related to race, religion or immigration satisfies their agenda in diverting the general public’s attention away from the very real economic situation we are in – an aspect of society which unsurprisingly large parts of the mainstream media and leaders in the country have a vested interest in. An exaggerated media predictably leads to a large proportion of the general public being so wide of the mark and misinformed in their understanding of some really important issues. We hear regularly from Fox News anchors and Daily Mail journalists that around 10% of Muslims are terrorists. Predictably a lot of the general public estimate the figure to be significantly higher. We hear 20%, 30%, or in some cases the numerical system is seemingly discounted all together and ‘most’ Muslims are branded as terrorists (presumably the non-figure of ‘most’ implies that the number has to be greater than 50%) which is simply ludicrous, but there’s no doubt that we’ve all seen or heard it. Now even just using the 10% figure, which I would say is very much on the conservative side of what many people (particularly those I’m aiming this piece at) genuinely think: 10% of 1.6 billion is obviously 160 million. If there was 160 million Islamic Terrorists in the world as a group they would equal more than ten times the amount of active members of the US Army, which in itself is the second biggest armed forces in the world, and the biggest in the Western World by a huge margin. Logically the figure has to be inaccurate, or as mentioned there would most definitely be more than 20 to 30 thousand members of ISIS. Again, I’m not saying ISIS aren’t a problem, but the group equate to approximately 0.002% of the world’s Muslims, so if you therefore feel comfortable labeling them a Muslim problem then you have been well and truly reeled in, and you most certainly are one of the people to whom I’d be asking the question which concluded my last point. Now I know that ISIS aren’t standing alone in the arena of Islamic terrorism, but using a generally excepted definition of the word terrorist i.e. someone who uses violence or terror to advance political gains, there can’t possibly be 160 million active Islamic terrorists in the world, especially bearing in mind that there are only 315 million Muslims living in the whole of the Middle East and North Africa. Given that this is the region we are told to be most worried about, and that this would falsely imply that over half of the entire population of Muslims in the region are terrorists (a part of the world comprised of approximately 22 different countries, many of whom are our allies) then no wonder people are worried. You see when the right-wing media outlets in The West report on Muslims, they don’t mean those in Indonesia, or Malaysia, or Bangladesh, or Turkey. It’s simply much easier to pretend that these countries don’t exist, as they are a total contradiction to their constant propaganda that Muslim majority countries can’t be moderate or secular. Even further, and I don’t apologise for stressing the point again, the fact that these countries also far outnumber the population of Muslim majority countries in the Middle East, it is absolutely scandalous that they are allowed to just disregard such a huge proportion of the faith they almost continually report on.

5. Only The Quran Promotes Extremism

One of the easiest and quickest methods right-wingers use to get Joe-public on their side (a tactic I’ve seen used very frequently by groups such as the English Defence League, and the British National Party) is quoting passages from The Quran in isolation. We hear of how Islam, through the teachings in The Quran, is condoning the killing of non-believers as well as encouraging the stoning of women for adultery, amongst other things. This next bit is easy, here are some of the values promoted in The Bible, do please click on the links to be taken to the full passage:

– Kill people for working on the Sabbath: Exodus 31:12-15
– Kill Homosexuals: Leviticus 20:13
– Kill people for swearing at parents: Leviticus 20:9
– Kill non-believers: 2 Chronicles 15:12-13
– Kill women who are not virgins on their wedding night: Deuteronomy 22:20-21

(I should add that this was all found after only searching for about 5 minutes)

In Conclusion

The whole label of ‘Islamic Extremism’ simply cannot be applied to all Muslims if it obviously isn’t true. Sure some Muslim majority countries have issues with religious extremism, but that is their problem, not Islam as a whole’s problem. When you describe the fictional idea of ‘The Muslim World’ what you are essentially doing is grouping together 1.6 billion people made up of different races and nationalities, who live on different continents, who have different cultures, histories, economies, wealth, living standards, practices, who enjoy different art and music, and you are lumping them all together as if they are all the same. You are suggesting that Turkey is the same as Saudi Arabia, that Malaysia is the same as Iran. It just simply isn’t true. In contrast you would struggle to even get a general Christian consensus between those within the faith in the United States and United Kingdom, let alone than with others in Russia (where recent polling suggests Christianity is at 65%), Uganda, Zimbabwe, Mexico, or any other of the Christian majority nations. If it is virtually impossible to define what a globally accepted form of Christianity would look like, why are we so quick to presume that we can do it with Islam?

As I said at the start, I’m not for or against any religion. But what I am against is singling-out one particular religion as being significantly worse than the others, when in reality that just simply isn’t true. Couple this with the fact that the reasons for perpetuating such a myth are so blatantly corrupt. It essentially pushes an agenda that is undoubtedly going against many of the people’s values who have been reeled in. That, my friends is the real problem. There will always be a far-right, and there will always be racism. But when it’s sane, reasonable people who are being warped into believing that a whole race or religion can be classed as a problem that needs a solution, well, we all know where that belief takes you don’t we…

IF YOU HAVE JUST READ THIS PIECE PLEASE READ THE FOLLOW UP TITLED “IT’S SIMPLE, THE FAR RIGHT HATES FACTS” EXPLORING BOTH THE POSITIVE AND INEVITABLY NEGATIVE REACTION TO “5 THINGS IDIOTS BELIEVE ABOUT MUSLIMS…” PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ

If you agree with the points in this article then please follow @Hugo_Waters on Twitter HERE

Or like his page on Facebook HERE

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History, Heritage, Memory, or Money – what the failed ‘Bombed Out Church’ Hotel proposal says about our bombed out society.

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As many fellow Liverpudlians may have heard, plans to redevelop St. Luke’s Church into a hotel and wedding venue run by Liverpool based Signature Living have been halted by the mayor.

For those who don’t know, The Church of St Luke was built in 1832 and is located in Liverpool City Centre, it was heavily bombed during the blitz of World War II. As a structure it still has much of its outer shell, but in essence is an almost completely outdoor space. The resulting site is stunningly beautiful and poignant, and it hasn’t changed from those dark times until the present day. Known locally as ‘The Bombed Out Church’ it is used for a wide range of community events, as well as being a tourist attraction for those interested in the history of Liverpool during the war, ultimately it is also officially considered as a permanent war memorial for the city.

I for one wasn’t thrilled when plans surfaced for a business to acquire the site and turn it into a hotel, and a huge amount of public support for the building seems to have stopped this project dead in it’s tracks.

However, many people have stressed that the investment would have benefited our city hugely, and that we have to change our attitudes towards our history and culture if we are to ‘survive’.

I’d like to mainly address this point in my short piece.

Firstly, just for a bit of perspective, let’s take the word ‘survive’ (which genuinely was the word used when discussing this project and lack of investment to the area) and delve into the grotesque notion of someone using it in relation to a building that has ‘survived’ saturation bombing. The problem is that with the excessively-capitalist society we live in today literally everything appears to be about money, and in essence how to survive amidst a clear lack of it. On the back of this people seem to justify doing just about anything if it brings so-called investment into their area. Without going into who in reality would benefit from having yet another grossly overpriced hotel in our city centre, I for one am glad that it never even came to that, and here’s why.

The Bombed Out Church truly is a landmark etched into the heritage of our great city, not only as a reminder of the devastation we suffered during World War II, but also as a great towering metaphor of our well-known toughness and stubbornness. As mentioned above, the site plays a huge part in our community, housing events and promoting history. On a personal level though, how many of us have arranged to meet family, friends, dates, loved ones at the bombed out church before heading into town, it is just one of those places that is Liverpool, and people generally will have a hard time imagining it being anything other than what it is.

The other main argument in support of the project included scores of people stating that the renovation would have been beautiful and ‘saved the structure from collapse’. My answer is simple, beauty doesn’t always have to have a restaurant, bar and swimming pool. Also, for the record, the structure has been continually assessed throughout the years and is deemed to be structurally sound, with absolutely nothing to suggest this is going to change. The idea that it isn’t is merely a scare tactic aimed at manipulating discussion away from the point. Maintenance is a separate issue. With the council stating that they are struggling with the upkeep, it’s looking like a Community Interest Company (CIC) will be tasked in taking it over and applying for grants to aid it’s maintenance. Again I could open a discussion of how I feel that the council could afford a basic running budget for the site, instead of for instance shelling out an obscene amount of cash on a failed bus lane experiment to name only one of Mayor Anderson’s recent prize-winning ideas. But a CIC nonetheless would be a good alternative.

The common misconception in the debate as a whole is the building being referred to as derelict, or abandoned, as if it is on par with other buildings in the city, some of which without a doubt can be described as in dire need of help. But let’s be clear, this isn’t a cinema that has gone out of business, or the headquarters of docking industries once booming and now long-gone. I struggle to understand that people don’t see the big picture here, if you just take the most basic of views on it and look at the project purely on face value, you basically want us to turn a war memorial into a hotel?! Where does it end? Should we also turn the graveyard of the Anglican Cathedral into a ghost train? Perhaps fit every single monument in the city with a take-out Starbucks Coffee kiosk? Speke Hall, that has loads of rooms, let’s swerve all that history stuff, I’m seeing the ‘5* Six Wives Hotel’, £500 a night for all you Tudor-nerds.

In discussing this online, someone who supported the redevelopment quoted to me that ‘Everyone thinks they’re so smart, until they try to use someone else’s shower’. Now as a response (which incidentally rounded off her contribution about how ‘lovely’ the hotel would have been and how we’re all too stupid to see it) you have to admit it is quite a bizarre one. I must confess that I didn’t really get it, but obviously assumed that she was hinting, through a clever use of bathroom-based satire, that my argument was flawed in some way. I put it to her that a better example of the issue would have been of you going into someone else’s house, ripping out their old shower (which they were perfectly happy with) putting in a new one, then standing at their bathroom door and charging them every time they wanted to use it. Now that is a fitting analogy of someone taking a building that we as the public own, which is available for us to use and appreciate, and turning it into a hotel.

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