Saturday, January 2, 2010

Reasons To Be Cheerful

This made me choke on my cornflakes:
The Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks (1977) is closer to the second world war than it is to the present. The Beatles’ release of “Love Me Do” (1962) is closer to the first world war than to us. Bill Haley’s Rock Around the Clock (1954) is as close to the Spanish-American war (1898) as it is to us. There is nothing hipper than hip-hop, but the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” (1979), the first rap song, is closer to Al Jolson’s last hits than to the songs in the rap charts now.
As Christopher Caldwell reminds us in today's FT: time doesn't so much fly as become compressed. But I'm not going to let the melancholia of another lap around the sun get to me. Instead I want to celebrate why we should be cheerful here on our chilly little island. And the number one reason to be cheerful is that we are still a free country: as the recent Freedom in the World 2009 report from Freedom House reminds us. But freedom is relative, and another report - the 2009 Legatum Prosperity Index - points out that our personal freedom in Ireland is amongst the lowest of the countries surveyed, even if we perform better on economic freedoms.

Which is why we need to support campaigns such as that by Atheist Ireland against the new blasphemy laws that came into force yesterday (which I didn't see mentioned in a single Irish news report even though the BBC and Guardian gave it coverage). The laws are most certainly a backward step in terms of our personal freedom: and another example of how the excesses of politically correct multiculturalism ends up destroying the freedom that gave rise to it in the first place. Atheist Ireland has published 25 blasphemous quotes on their site and are willing to go to court if the government decides to take them on. One of my favourite quotes is from none other than Pope Benedict XVI. Should make for an interesting court case ...

Nevertheless, we remain a free people and I for one am grateful for that as we begin another lap around the sun. Though I think Ian Dury put it better (all those many, many years ago) ...

3 comments:

  1. The enactment of the blasphemy law was unremarked by Irish news outlets because they are all fully on the multicultural bandwagon. Even though multiculturalism is now widely acknowledged to have been a dangerous failure in every European country in which it was tried, here in Ireland our usual 'opinion-formers' think it's a great idea, and are foursquare behind this capitulation to any militant group that believes it can stifle free speech by claming 'widespread offence' at any critical remark. One doesn't need to be a genius to predict that a book, cartoon or newspaper article critical of Islamic medievalism will quickly fall foul of this law, with the effect that alien values that hold democracy in contempt will be given primacy over our native values. Only a dullard like Dermot Ahern could stand over such a disgrace.

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  2. The dire straits in which we find outselves along with our apparently hight level of freedom calls to mind Kris Kristofferson's line "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose. Nothing ain't worth nothing but its free".
    Personally I am all for a multicultural Ireland. Having lived in a fairly multicultural society before returning here in 1992 i think Ireland was much duller before the recent influx of immigration. It certainly poses challenges for a society (in education for example) which we haven't handled brilliantly. Maybe we should just grow up?

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  3. If I may, Gerard, I would just like to reply to Kevin Denny's comment, which I've just seen.
    People are entitled to preserve their own cultural heritage and I would support that. But it is a mistake to see Ireland as some sort of 'lifeboat' for people who, for whatever reason, do not want to remain in their countries of origin. Choosing to live here should imply a positive wish to embrace the cultural values and traditions that make us distinct, as, for example, has been the norm in the USA. Multiculturalism as an ideology and as practised in western Europe, has encouraged immigrants to separate themselves from the indigenous mainstream and to nurture the traditions of their homelands - good and bad. We see the effect of this in the alienation of young British muslims who view British culture as corrupt and as something to be overcome. I doubt Kevin would condone female genital mutilation as something to be protected by Irish law, and yet this is a bona fide cultural tradition in sub-saharan Africa. I welcome immigrants, but it should go without saying that emigrating to Ireland means an acceptance of our way of life.

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