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David Thompson
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February 03, 2014

Comments

Rob

I overheard some monumental prick talking at the coffee machine in my office. He had been to watch this film and he said "it made him ashamed to be white".

Jesus fucking Christ. Stuff done over a century and a half ago, more than three thousand miles away and by people completely unrelated to him makes him ashamed? I felt a serious urge to punch him in the face, to knock some sense into his vacuous head.

Hey, can I blame any black person for the genocide in Rwanda? Surely I can, as at least that was recent. What about blaming the local kebab shop owner for the Armenian genocide? Mesut Ozil for WWII? Any Socialist for the horrors of Communism anywhere?

Rafi

If Stacey Cumberbatch's distant ancestors had been left in Africa would she now be a New York City Commissioner earning $200,000? Just asking.

Dr Cromarty

He should apologise when we get a 'thank you' for the Royal Navy's role in breaking the space trade, i.e. never.

Dr Cromarty

That's 'slave trade'. Obviously.

David

I wish to know more about this space trade. Can we also mine the future for pretentious guilt?

David

If Stacey Cumberbatch’s distant ancestors had been left in Africa would she now be a New York City Commissioner earning $200,000? Just asking.

Yes, causality’s a knotty thing. To be clear, though, so far as I can see, Stacey Cumberbatch isn’t the one calling for apologies or public handwringing. The guilt shovelling is the work of the Guardian’s (white) Natalie Hanman and the (white) Kate Taylor of the New York Times.

Mr Grumpy

David

I want you to know how sorry I am for all the beastly things my ancestors have done to your ancestors throughout history.

When I have worked out how sorry I am I will let you know.

TDK

Rob

Up until the 19th century slavery was ubiquitous. Practiced for millenia on every continent by every people, with only a handful of minor exceptions. There may have been slave revolts from time to time but they were always put down. Then something changed and it was abolished. It was the West that ended slavery and often forced others to abolish slavery against their local customs.

If slavery becomes a contest of racial guilt, which it shouldn't be, then whites don't do so badly.

ErisGuy

I’m not going anywhere until I get the millions owed me by the descendants of the Muslim sheiks who enslaved by European ancestors.

jones

TDK

"In 1953, sheikhs from Qatar attending the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II included slaves in their retinues, and they did so again on another visit five years later"

http://www.danielpipes.org/comments/109566

Oh dear......Who apologises here then?

Min

Right that does it. I'm invoicing the Danes. And the Arabs. And the Romans.

David

Among the bedlam and mental litter, I spotted this comment:

Tomorrow’s Guardian Headline: “SHOULD JIMMY SAVILLE’S DOG BE PUT DOWN?”

Captures the flavour, I think.

R. Sherman

I don't apologize for slavery two centuries ago, because I've never been thanked for my other ancestors who brought the horse to the new world and helping create the "Plains Culture" that's been a staple of American movies.

Rob

"Farewell and adieu to you fair Saturn ladies,
Farewell and adieu to you ladies of Saturn"

AC1

Think they should address the nepotism that seems inherent in the arts... I strongly doubt there's any gene related reasons for acting "success".

David

It’s easy to laugh, and we should, but the attempt to cultivate unrealism, dishonesty and pretentious guilt is a Guardian staple. It’s how many leftwing columnists signal their position in their own moral hierarchy, relative to you: “I am better than you because I pretend to feel worse.”

See, for example, the tearful Theo Hobson who tells us, “There is no excuse for failing to feel liberal guilt about race and class.” Mr Hobson also believes that James Bond films do “real harm to the male psyche” while making him feel “embarrassed” and “depressed.” Or there’s Decca Aitkenhead, who insists that the “vilification of Jamaican homophobia implies… a failure to accept post-colonial politics” because, and I quote, “Their homophobia is our fault.”

See also George Monbiot, Madeleine Bunting or Oliver James, another anhedonic middle-class lefty who, like that equally anhedonic, middle-class lefty Polly Toynbee, tells us that wealth and its freedoms are very bad for “us,” by which they mean bad for you. Needless to say, none of these moon howlers are giving away their wealth to those whose salaries aren’t in six figures.

Steve

I'll take her seriously when she starts advocating pinishing children for the crimes and behaviours of their parents. They shouldn't be punished as children of course, that would be cruel. But as soon as they are old enough...

David Gillies

It's not uncommon for people to be the descendants of a slave owner and a slave. Should such people apologise to themselves?

Steve 2: Steveageddon

I would love to see the BBC make a programme where Benedict Cumberbatch goes around apologising to random black people, like Harry Enfield as Jurgen the German but for reals.

BC: Hallo there! I'm popular size-zero actor Benedict Cumberbatch and I'd just like you to know that I'm deeply, truly sorry for what my ancestors did to your ancestors.

Random black person: Pardon?

BC: You know, the African slave trade. I just want you to look into my kind blue eyes and see how sorry I am for all that.

Random black person: I'm Sri Lankan.

BC: Oh! Um... would you like an autograph now?

dicentra

Cumberbatch played William Pitt in Amazing Grace, which was about the persistence that it took to finally end the British slave trade. Pitt was instrumental in ending it.

Penance paid, or something.

Leaving him of being guilty only for possessing a magnificent voice, the fink.

Nik White

Decca Aitkenhead's article is either a work of obscene genius, or one of astonishing stupidity.

    Their homophobia is our fault

I see.

So this must mean that the only meaningful changes that can be made to Jamaican society are those brought about by Britain – the former colonial power – and so the lives of Jamaicans depend solely on the decisions of the British intellectual elite, do they?

Even when she describes the moment former Prime Minister PJ Patterson greets her question about his country's record on gay rights with distinct coolness, Aitkenhead rejects the possibility that this might actually be Patterson's own belief or that of his government – as far as she is concerned, his cool response can only be an unthinking reflex to the inquity of imperialism.

So according to Aitkenhead, even Patterson's inner most private thoughts and beliefs are not his own but in fact have been controlled, without his being aware of it, from a tiny island many 1,000s of miles distant. And this is an article from someone claiming to be against colonialism?

And where could she have got the idea in the first place that all Jamaicans must be some kind of empty vessel, open and ready to be filled with other people's beliefs?

    … churches, many of which dispense a fire-and-brimstone religion that is not merely homophobic, but designed to discourage independent thought… Every ingredient of Jamaica's homophobia implicates Britain

Oh I see, it's the dastardly church that is filling the Jamaican vessels with all this hatred and ignorance, is it?

How can Aitkenhead not realise that what her argument amounts to saying is that she doesn't really have a problem with totalitarian power but only with who gets to wield it – which presumably in this case means anyone but her.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

Next time on Are You Being Slaved?

BC: Hello sir! I'm going around apologising, and I want to express to you my most sincere contrition for what happened in the past.

Another random black person: Finally!

BC: Indeed. It was wrong and uncalled for.

Another random black person: I agree. I mean, super blood that cures death? Please. Not to mention it having more lens flares than a photographers convention in the 70's. And why did Robocop go mental and attack a Federation ship? That didn't make any sense.

BC: What?

Another random black person: You're apologising, right? For Star Trek Into Darkness?

BC: Umm...

David

You’re apologising, right? For Star Trek Into Darkness?

Heh. You’re not supposed to think about the plot. No good can come of that. Just watch these big things crash into other big things.

dicentra

It was the West that ended slavery and often forced others to abolish slavery against their local customs.

Via the Industrial Revolution, which rendered slave labor superfluous; therefore, we could afford the morality of abolishing it.

D

I've been hearing a lot of talk about the film 12 Years a Slave, and how it is a "rare look at slavery by Hollywood," "an important topic rarely addressed," and "really brings home the seriousness and evil of slavery." I can never understand people who talk like this.

For one, one of the biggest movies of 2012 was about slavery (Django Unchained). I mean there is a cultivation of unrealism among many of these people, but it continues to astonish me how they can manage to not remember things that happened less than two years ago that they were completely aware of at the time, or possibly just intentionally pretend that inconvenient things to their argument didn't actually happen.

Second, who are these people who are continually amazed that enslaving a human being is a bad thing? I thought we were pretty well clear on that concept at this point. Do we need new films to come out every year to remind us of this idea? Do liberals forget about slavery being bad every 6 months and need to refresh? And why don't they ever complain that people have forgotten about, say, the mass starvation of Chinese under Mao (and attendant silence by a complicit Western media elite) and need a new film to make sure we remember and understand it?

D

There's also a bizarre multi-pronged approach by leftists whereby they say, on the one hand, that people should not be ashamed of their own shameful behavior (single motherhood, frivolous divorce, high crime rates among black people, use and abuse of welfare and other social programs, etc.), but people who have not done anything in particular to be ashamed of should feel guilt about what other people did. It's almost as though they want to excuse people from certain groups, no matter what they have done, while blaming other groups who generally haven't done anything of which they can reasonably be accused.

Steve

"Via the Industrial Revolution, which rendered slave labor superfluous; therefore, we could afford the morality of abolishing it."

Haven't you heard? Apparently the Industrial Revolution was only made possible by resources stolen from the colonies so that defence won't get you very far with some people.

Curiously it is also argued, usually by the same people, that the Industrial Revolution was merely the result of our lucky geology and not the necessary outcome of a superior culture. These two arguments seem to me to be mutually exclusive but they are proposed by our betters so they must be true.

David Gillies

@D: "one of the biggest movies of 2012 was about slavery". 2012 was also the year of Lincoln. Didn't see it, but I'd wager there was a soupçon of the slavery issue in there somewhere as well.

Sanity Inspector

I once dated a woman from Minnesota. Where do I go to atone for this, seeing as how her Viking ancestors brutalized my English ancestors a millennium ago?

WTP

Seven generations back? That would mean he owes 1/128th of an apology. That part is easy. More complicated, the Empire of Japan shot my old man in the hand. What am I owed for that??

Hal

Heh. You’re not supposed to think about the plot.

Yes. There are actual crafted movies, involving storytelling and reason and style.

And then there are the production staff employment projects, where an assessment is made of who needs a job for the next couple of years, the production staff and some collection of actors are then assembled based strictly on current employment status, footage is shot, and then at some point way after that, the marketing staff puts together some explanation of what all that footage is about and why an audience should show up.

Henry

I've had an entertaining exchange with an American chap who thought it appropriate that he should feel at least some guilt for the supposed 'genocide' of the Native Americans.

I raised a few points - "was it your fault your distant ancestors behaved this way or that and happened to be white", "criticizing long-dead people from a modern, very Western moral framework" ... you folks know the sort of thing.

"You spell color with a U. Why are you telling me how I’m supposed to feel as an American?"

Was the crushing, watertight logic I got in reply. Anyway, he's welcome to feel genocidal guilt if he so wishes. The whole daft exchange is still going on (on a thread about feminism, obviously*) Might all get deleted

* clicking this link may cause debilitating drowsiness. Do not operate heavy machinery etc

MikeG81

"I've had an entertaining exchange with an American chap who thought it appropriate that he should feel at least some guilt for the supposed 'genocide' of the Native Americans."

This is brought up here in Canada from time to time(read: every 2 minutes or so).

To quote a fellow Canadian, it can't have been a genocide since there are so many of them.

WTP

Well he has a point. You do spell color with a "u". You also call fries chips and chips crisps. It's very confusing. The one thing bleeding heart American liberals fundamentally believe they can count on is that the closer they get to Europe, the more they expect those they encounter to agree with everything they say...and even more so. What is Europe for if not to make us regular Yanks look like boobs?

Hal

Now it's racist beards...

1) Several years back, a book of satire called The preppy handbook was published in America, and a collection of the surreally stupid and tasteless who were and are unable to understand satire all started trying to claim that because of a work of parody, everyone belonging to that unmistakeable cultural underclass should be considered upper class.

2) Following that, even the most dense started to realize that someone outside of New England looks even more surreally stupid than someone in N.E. that is portraying a parody, and thus the “preppy” started to become known as the yuppy.

3) Basically with the yuppy based on the concept that masses of kitsch bought with cheap, bad, credit means that everyone is required to be impressed, the yuppys kept pulling up more and more bad credit, until the economy collapsed.

4) Once the yuppys became unable to scam bad credit, and because being clueless remained the primary parameter, they had to then fixate upon what was immediately on hand, such as cheap and equally bad beer, boorish behavior in public, and other mere gestures, zero substance, and less style. Therefore, the yuppys have now become the hipsters, all still frantically hoping that the tacky and naive can be mistaken for adults.


Therefore: the only reason that hipsters insist on attempts at beards---which I call comb-unders, and a friend of mine calls the bathtub ring---is because that as with cheap beer and boorish behavior, beards are now one of the few things that hipsters can afford.

Mark

"I wish to know more about this space trade. Can we also mine the future for pretentious guilt?"

Obviously it can be, because everyone knows it'll be those never-to-be-sufficiently-damned Americans who'll be leading the space trade, and god knows that nothing America does (or has done, or will do) is good.

:P

Ray

But, but, surely white quilt is just original sin "re-imagined"?

Darleen

Well, considering my family was sold out of one of England's debtor prisons and brought to the colonies in 1697, then sold to work on a Virginia plantation ...

Where do I get to cut in on the collection line?

ACTOldFart

Cumberbatch? Aitkenhead? Throw in a Temple-Bell here, and a Street-Porter there, and all those Chomondeleys and Featherstonehaughs, and it's abundantly clear to me just what Britain should be apologising to the world for.

Mr. Saturn

I talked this over with a friend of mine (Canadian, blindly "progressive") when we discussed such BS concepts such as "white privilege" and "white guilt" and he said whites should basically be scuffling on the floor in apology for something that has been dead for 150 odd years now. When I asked him if he, being the son of German national immigrant to Canada, should be considering this "sins of the father" mentality he has, that he should be thus held responsible for the crimes of the Nazis and be constantly apologizing to the Jews and others for the Holocaust. I mean that was only 70+ years ago now and there are still people who remember and are affected by the Holocaust from both sides, certainly that gives him greater overall guilt.

Predictably he quailed at this notion.

Spiny Norman

These anhedonic middle-class lefties, our self-imagined heroes of human progress, tell us that our wealth is “unearned” and very bad for “us,” by which they mean bad for you. Needless to say, none of these moon howlers is giving away their wealth to those whose salaries are a fraction of their own.

Purge that guilt by tickling my tip jar.

Done. That segue was so slick I couldn't resist.

Spiny Norman

By the way,

...unrealism, dishonesty and pretentious guilt is a Guardian staple and gives the left’s national organ its distinctive tone. That tinny, unconvincing high-pitched whine. Affecting woe, especially improbable woe, is how many leftwing columnists signal their position in their own moral hierarchy...

For all the years I've been reading your blog, in my humble, minimally literate opinion, that is one of your best lines. Well done, sir.

TimP

@Darleen,

Yeah, I've been thinking the same thing recently.

My convict ancestors where in most cases petty criminals, debtors, and political dissidents who where crammed into unhealthy, crowded ships and sent to the far side of the world where they where used as forced labour.

It does seem that the black slaves where treated worse in many ways, but not nearly as much as you would expect given the difference in attitude between the two.

dicentra

I am descended from a family of three who came to America on the Mayflower and managed to be the first white trash on the continent: the father was the first white man hanged for theft, the mother was confined to the stocks for her constant tale-bearing, and the son set fires aboard the ship.

Do I apologize to everyone or just the denizens of trailer parks.

Also, Cumberbatch owes us an apology for Sherlock series 3. Or Gatiss and Moffat do. All that production and not a single mystery solved.

Don't pipe up to correct me: I'm bitter.

David

Also, Cumberbatch owes us an apology for Sherlock series 3. Or Gatiss and Moffat do.

Heh. Absolutely.

David

Spiny Norman,

That segue was so slick I couldn’t resist.

Much appreciated.

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? These bad faith displays of hand-wringing – self-flattery disguised as piety – aren’t just some personal neurosis. They’re inflicted on others. There’s now a sizeable industry geared to propagating such dishonesty and mental disarray, and aimed squarely at the young and credulous.

[ Added: ]

You’ll notice that Ms Hanman’s article doesn’t propose anything useful or specific with which one might argue, and therefore looks a lot like empty moral preening. She starts with an absurd and misleading question of her own devising – “Should Benedict Cumberbatch say sorry for the slave owners in his family? Should he pay for the sins of his forefathers?” She then says, well, maybe not, at least not on his own:

The answer is not about being individually responsible, through our genes, but collectively accountable for the structural inequalities that have passed down through generations to shape today’s world.

What that woolly blather might actually mean and to whom it might apply and on what basis – that “collective responsibility,” the “challenge” we must “recognise and address” - is by no means clear and never unpacked. It’s just “look at my feelings (or pretend feelings); see how much I fret. And you should fret too, for reasons I can’t formulate.” Which again sounds a lot like empty moral preening. The kind of neurotic posturing that all but defines the Guardian’s commentary and much of its readership.

B Moe

Damn. I thought "The Racially Fraught History of the American Beard" was going to be a Michelle Obama biography.

Doubting Rich

"I overheard some monumental prick talking at the coffee machine in my office. He had been to watch this film and he said "it made him ashamed to be white"."

That's racist! Report him to the PC police in your office (aka. HR department).

Spiny Norman

David Gillies,

@D: "one of the biggest movies of 2012 was about slavery".

2012 was also the year of Lincoln. Didn't see it, but I'd wager there was a soupçon of the slavery issue in there somewhere as well.

True story:

Last December, right after Christmas, I was browsing the DVD/Blu-Ray aisle of a "big-box" retail store and I overheard bits of a conversation a little further down the aisle. A well-dressed woman who looked about 40, so not some college kid, was discussing Lincoln with a middle-aged man who was reading the back of the disc package.

Woman: "For a movie about Lincoln, you think there would be more in it about the Civil War."

Man: glances at her with a puzzled look. Her opinion was clearly not requested or required at this point.

Woman: "What I can't believe is that they actually made him out to be a Republican!"

Man: looks over at me with an expression that seemed to ask, "Did you hear that, too?", puts down the disc and walks off. I moved off myself, expecting to be next in line for a political sermon, and did not want to spend my afternoon arguing in a store with a lunatic.

The quality of government education in the US has been in free-fall for decades. To the rest of the English-speaking world: my sincerest apologies, we really aren't inherently stupid, but deliberately mis-educated by left-wing ideologues.

WTP

"What I can't believe is that they actually made him out to be a Republican!"

Doesn't surprise me. I suspect many people believe Lincoln was a Democrat. Partly due to much apocryphal/urban legend comparisons between Lincoln and Kennedy.

I once had a discussion with a younger post-college student who was upset that "all the Democratic presidents get assassinated". When I pointed out that the only one of the half dozen or so presidents who actually was assassinated was JFK. Everyone else was a Republican. She refused to believe me.

William de Haan

WTP: When I pointed out that the only one of the half dozen or so presidents who actually was assassinated was JFK. Everyone else was a Republican. She refused to believe me.

Four US presidents have been assassinated; two Democrats, two Republicans:

Abraham Lincoln (R)
Grover Cleveland (D)
William McKinley (R)
John F Kennedy (D)

Of course, this count doesn't include attempted assassinations. Of course, what constitutes an attempt is up for debate, but just listing those who have actually taken physical action, include:

Jackson (D) - was shot at, missed
Teddy Roosevelt (R, but P at the time) - shot at, hit, basically laughed it off
Hoover (R) - assassin plotters were arrested before planting the explosives
Truman (D) - two assassins stormed him at Blair House; were forced back in a shootout
Nixon (R) - two serious attempts (Arthur Bremer and Samuel Byck)
Ford (R) - Squeaky Fromme and Sara Jane Moore both took a shot at him
Carter (D) - mentally ill drifter had a starter pistol with blanks
Reagan (R) - shot by Hinckley
Bush I (R) - car bomb attempt while in Kuwait
Clinton (D) - Francisco Martin Duran, amongst others
Bush II (R) - Robert Picket, Vladimir Arutyunian

That's four Democrats, six Republicans. That's a lot more subjective, of course. In some cases, the president was in no real danger; in others, it was only a fluke of luck that the would-be assassins were caught. And of course, there could be any number of failed attempts we don't know about.

I read that every single president since Eisenhower, with the exception of Johnson, has had at least one attempt on his life, although the details aren't always made public, and some attempts are less serious than others.

I wouldn't read anything into the party affiliation of the president; in many cases, the would-be assassin is either mentally ill, or going after "the president", not the individual. John Hinkley didn't care that Reagan was a Republican; he'd just as happily gone after a re-elected Carter.

Still, if it's just a matter of numbers, just as many Republican presidents have been assassinated as Democrats, and more Republicans (or ex-Republicans, in the case of Teddy Roosevelt) have had attempts on their lives.

WTP

Sigh...and so it begins again...Grover Cleveland died of a heart attack in 1908. You could look it up. James Garfield (R) was shot by a crazy man while out for a walk with Lincoln's son.

As for your "attempted" list, that could probably include damn near every president of the last century or so. Don't know about dualling. If I were to make issue of your latter list, only TR (and I object to your reclassification to P unless I can claim Truman and Clinton under some silly category I get to invent) and Reagan actually took a bullet. And Ford was VERY luck with Fromme and some might say Moore as well. You will also note that the more serious assassins and attempted assassins were leftists (Boothe, Moore, the nameless of Truman, TR, McKinley, possibly others).

Just to refresh your high school history, Cleveland was the "Ma,Ma, where's my Pa" guy.

WTP

Whoa, my mistake on TR and the P. I thought he was still president when he was shot, but he was running as a P, though more popularly known as Bull Moose and certainly different from what leftists today have turned the P label into.

William de Haan

Whoa, my mistake on TR and the P

That's okay, you were right about Garfield vs. Cleveland. I have absolutely no idea how I mixed up those two.

You're right about the attempted lists. I'd date it earlier than the last century though; once the dam had broken with someone taking a potshot at Jackson, presidents (and others) were fair game in the public's (or the assassination-minded public's) mind.

You will also note that the more serious assassins and attempted assassins were leftists (Boothe, Moore, the nameless of Truman, TR, McKinley, possibly others).

Oh, I agree. Historically, the extreme right has certainly been violent, but the extreme left has matched or exceeded their efforts at pretty much every turn.

It would be dishonest to say that violence is used exclusively by the left, and few do. But it's equally dishonest to claim it's used exclusively by the right. Unfortunately, that's reached the level of meme status with some. And of course, it's easily disproven.

What's even worse is that leftist violence is being attributed to the right. On the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination, the airwaves were filled with stories of how JFK went into the dark heart of right-wing Dallas back in 1963, with their guns and their politics. Given the amount of coverage, it was surprising how few (as in, none) of the commentators bothered to mention that Oswald wasn't all that right wing, being, you know, a communist and all. Or perhaps I should say Communist, since he formally belonged to The Party.

As for RFK, I've had people walk away in disbelief when I mention that he got capped by a mentally ill Palestinian nut. Of course, after confirming it, they usually claim his mental state was the result of CIA brainwashing or the like.

The Catholic Church has a concept know as the "doctrine of invincible ignorance". This basically states that some people's belief systems are so unshakable that they are incapable of accepting a different point of view. When presented with irrefutable evidence that contradicts their beliefs, they either enter a fugue state, or resort to flights of fancy and double down on their initial beliefs. I've seen it with people of many religions (Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Islam, and Judaism) and politics. But oddly enough, it's the leftist/socialist side that seems to have an emotional bond with their beliefs; the right wingers tend to be more dispassionate, or perhaps adaptable, than that.

Just to refresh your high school history, Cleveland was the "Ma,Ma, where's my Pa" guy.

Well, not my high school history. I'm not American; I never took this stuff at school.

WTP

William,
Thanks for the response. And my apologies for the latter snark. Thought you were one of US. I wouldn't begin to know as much about UK or Canadian politics. I doubt I can name a Canadian politician before that French guy who had the libertine marriage or whatever that nonsense was.

BTW, have had similar experience with the RFK subject. As for JFK and the anniversary discussion, yes. It always puzzled me growing up in the 70's as to how it was rather common in TV shows and movies and talk shows for people to casually, briefly, with confidence in their convictions, state or imply that the whole city of Dallas harbored/carried some guilt for his killing. I was dumbfounded by the responses when I would bring up the subject to adults/teachers/etc. The reaction was either "go away kid, you bother me" or "wherever did you get that crazy idea". Part of growing up is learning what questions not to ask, I suppose. And the dangers that brings.

"doctrine of invincible ignorance"....I'll have to use that with a certain philosopher I know.

B Moe

Isn't mentally ill Palestinian a bit redundant?

MJM

I'm pretty sure the Vikings did something to my Scottish/Irish ancestors so I think the Danes or Norwegians or Swedes owe me something beyond furniture that is hard to put together and open faced sandwiches, but I will forgive them because season 2 of Vikings is coming up at the end of Feb and those guys are hot, hot and hot!

David

I think the Danes or Norwegians or Swedes owe me something beyond furniture that is hard to put together

Be sure to bring that up next time Simen drops by.

William de Haan

I doubt I can name a Canadian politician before that French guy who had the libertine marriage or whatever that nonsense was.

I had to think a bit on that one. "French guy" doesn't narrow it down much, since 50% of our Prime Ministers have been French Canadians (the Liberal Party had a tradition that they alternated electing French and English leaders). Chretien was called many things, but "libertine" would not be one of them.

I think you probably mean Pierre Trudeau. He wasn't libertine either, although he was definitely a hippie in the flower generation era. However, his wife Margaret (whom he married while in office) was, to put it politely, barking mad. Of course, one of his sons is currently the leader of the present-day Liberal Party, for pretty much the same reasons that Obama became the Democratic candidate - he speaks well, has all the right credentials, and can't really be pinned down on much because he's never really done anything in his life.

"doctrine of invincible ignorance"....I'll have to use that with a certain philosopher I know.

It's technically the Doctrine of Vincible Ignorance (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincible_ignorance) because the church held officially that anyone can be saved, if you just try hard enough. Of course, missionaries often claimed that they failed to convert the heathens because the heathens subscribed to the doctrine of invincile ignorance, QED.

William de Haan

Isn't mentally ill Palestinian a bit redundant?

Not at all. I know quite a number of perfectly sane Palestinians. In fact, all of the ones I know are perfectly rational. Of course, that's largely selection bias; by definition, all of the ones I know are the ones who were smart enough to decide to leave.

Just as you can find malcontent losers in successful societies, you can find perfectly rational people in dysfunctional societies, too.

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