Things Fall Apart, BBC Radio 4, BBC Sound, written and presented by Jon Ronson, produced by Sarah Shebbeare and Sam Peach

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/series/m0011cpr

Jon Ronson has the kind of job I’d like. He meets interesting people and writes books that are worth reading. Here over eight episodes and around four hours he investigates the culture wars in American where he lives. They’re happening here in Britain too, with the little Trumpet Boris Johnson lying about Brexit to get elected and pretty much lying about everything else. But this is America, where the lies are bigger and more stupid. What strikes you when listening is the power of the Christian Evangelic movement. And how such nasty fuck-ups have come to represent the life-affirming words of Jesus Christ, taken off the cross and his face rubbed in shite. No vision of a risen man, but attempts to keep others down where they belong with the other wretched strangers, carrying no luggage, the fathers of the nation in exile. About suffering, Christ was never wrong. William Blake, the strangest of men, but in his poem suggested Every Thing That Lives is Holy, but that was written before the father of lies was born, Donald J. Trump and elected President. Politics is one of the oldest tricks in the black books of history. But there is bitter black hope.  Tammy Faye Bakker did perform a minor miracle. Jon Robson reported he received his greatest feedback after that Podcast. My notes are below. Don’t bother reading. Listen to the broadcast. But I know from experience those that listen to the broadcast are those that don’t need to listen to the broadcast. I’m tired of that wretchedness and repetition. Things fall apart.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) The Second Coming.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosened and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction; while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity

Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi.

[Spiritus Mundi>World Spirit]

1000 Dolls.

Cultural Wars: everything people yell at each other.

Buffalo, New York.

1960-70s. Switzerland. Fundamentalist commune Frank Schaeffer. Francis (father). Shelter. How Christians should engage with modern art. Eric Clapton. Billy Zeoli, Christian channels. Evangelical. Directed niche documentary. How Should We Then Live?

Satre’s relativism: help an old woman across the street or run her down (slippery slope argument)

Human fetus, unborn baby. Roe v Wade 1973, unborn child considered not to be a person. Ear shift. Christian evangelic not-yet-in the field of abortion.

Make last two episodes about abortion. Me and Jeannie were teenagers. We’re having the baby. We love her.

Showed to audiences of 15-20 000 eg Madison Square Garden.

Mass audio-cassette machines. Francis Schaeffer sensation in evangelic word. My da’s book selling 5-1 of contemporary fiction.

Frank take what the evangelics didn’t want to think about. Give me a piece of family business.

Second series, all about abortion. Ghost children. 1000 dolls anti-abortionist doctor standing in the Dead Sea. Slaughter of the innocents. 

Dad’s last books sold a million.

Second tour, no one came.  Launched a crusade. Out of ego and belief. Trying to get abortion on the agenda. Editorial board of Christian magazine. We’re not pro-life.

New York Post. Strange avante-garde film. Picketed by anti-feminist movement. Turned up and picketed by evangelical women, not because they were pro-choice, but because they other. Local news also turned up.

East Coast snobs. Us v Them.

Muscling in on their issue.

Pickets and protests became enormous. Abortion clinics bombed. Shot. Kopp.

The man who killed my uncle, Barnett (Bart) Slepian,  was Kopp.

Part of the job. I know we’re not taking care of children we do have. They stopped doing it. No way is a bunch of idiots bullying me out of my job.

They followed his kids to school. Amanda,  October 8th 1998.

All of them began with Scaefer documentaries. Jim Kopp, supposed to be a doctor. Schizophrenic by 17, became religious. Couldn’t become doctor.

Fan, Kopp travelled to Switzerland. Francis Christian manifesto. If you’re a Christian, act like it.

Oct 1998. Travelled to Buffallo New York. Went to Synagogue. There was this ping. I think I’ve been shot. Bullets. Children between ages of 7 and 15.

Frank long gone from the movement. Jerry Falwell. The Moral Majority. I’d just take them out the back and shoot them. (Homosexuals).

So uncool and so ugly.

Cut 20 minutes, show-reel. Agent, off and running. 1982-1986 directed 4 films.

Ripples, Last 30 years trying to undo the damage.

Publishing memoir, Crazy for God.

My father and I have blood in our hands. I have no words…I am ardently pro-choice.

Rev Rusty Thomson. Operation Save America. We go to exposed areas where child sacrifice and

I believe it is more of a man’s issue, to protect, guide and care for children.

All that changed with Donald Trump’s election 2016.

Installed 3 judges to Supreme Court.

Activists joined ‘Stop the Steal,’

Some of our leaders were there. A great opportunity. Set up a powerful sound system.

Abortion. Culture wars. Ambitious kid wanted to make it in Hollywood.

Sept 2021. Texas allowed to cut off abortions after six weeks. Schaffer ripples.

2) Dirty Books.

A writer living in America.

Origin stories. Pebbles causing ripples.

Complicted interesting people stripped of nuance and weaponised

US, Spring 1968.

Martin Luther King protesting racism and Vietnam war. Rejected conformity of 1950s.

Alice Moore moved with 5 children to West Virginia, St Albans, most churched place in US. Pastor husband. School having sex-education programme. Cut-away of woman and man. Complained to Superintendent of Schools. Nothing you can do about it. We’ll see about that. They needed something in the inside. Signed up for school board. Focussed from the start.

June 1974. New school textbooks. None of us had read and reviewed them. Had 325 delivered to my house and started reading them.

Christian Evangelics tended to live separate lives. 2000 came to the meeting. Their children were being taught angels didn’t exist.

Everything about war was negative.

Contextual ethics. That’s there’s no answer. Jim a pastor. She took over. It was all black and white. God said it> I read it.

Suspicions. Why did publishers introduce them in Virginia? Conspiracy theory.

She was invited on local tv.

Poem about making love on a bus. Roger McGough. Moral sentiment, you can’t just give way to your feelings. BBC colleague.

Special thanks to Roger McGough. For her ambiguity, nuance, didn’t matter.

That’s what really woke things up. Alice’s following grew. Boycott of schools. Picketed businesses.

Textbooks removed. They won.

Jim Lewis, Pro-text-book pastor.

Eldridge Cleaver. Black Panther movement, who has been convicted of rape.

But he was featured in one book. His misdeeds didn’t explain why other black author’s books were rejected. Langston Hughes.

Ron English asked to represent black authors.

Her support came mainly from poor white communities. The Hollers. What you heard rather than what you heard.

Twitter prompt, read an article before sharing.

Not being heard. Respected. It could have built common ground.

Why would some

Dick Gregory. Was committed to non-violence. Former comic. Flatfoot. Sit down. Sensation. Appeared on Tonight Show 1960s. Full time activist. Not OK for him to be OK sitting in a hotel room and simply sending a cheque. Struggling with how white his world had become. Sat down and told us the family came second to the movement. You’re taking me off the front line.

1964 wrote memoir. Contentious language. ‘Nigger’. Memoir, 10 years later on her list.

I can’t remember specifics. Where the BPanthers were talking about killing the pigs

1974, KKK, Rev Marvin Horn, on steps with them.

I never saw a Klan member.

Alice getting death threats.

Shot fired. Bill fired a weapon. Who survived.

Oct 18th, 5 shots fired at school bus. No children aboard. Bombed school.

Midway Elementary School. Dynamite before sunrise.

Levity in Alice’s voice. Skip first shot by pro-text book advocate.

Martin Horn jailed for 3 years. School returned textbooks.

I had to remove books and they were all burned up in basement. Unused. You have to get rid of them. 

27% take the bible as the word of god.

One book on banned list still causes turmoil. ‘Nigger’, Dick Gregory. These were from my own collection and she was fired.

Textbook wars. Causes more uproar.  

Just like Alice wasn’t interest in intention, but impact. To dominate social justice.

3) A Miracle.

Watershed and harmony in brutal cultural war.

20th Century, Evangelics kept away from mainstream society. 1970s Francis Shaffer and Jerry Falwell. Satellite TV Old time gospel hour. Vast audience. Jimmy Swaggart.

They didn’t try to entertain. Until one did. Pzzas. Tammy Faye Bakker. Steve Peters.

Odd and awkward and surprising.

Tammy Faye Bakker. Poor. No movies. Son James. Met Jim at Bible college. Eloped and preached. Children’s puppets.  Fans of modern trends. PTL. Jim and Tammy show. Only network.

Jerry Falwell wanted to rule the world.

They were on all the time. Mum 10 broadcasts. Dad 6 broadcasts. TV pledge drives. Heritage USA. Theme Parks. Christian Walt Disney. Passion Play every night.

Evanagelists appalled. Telly Tubbies supported gay agenda because Tinky Winky’s antennae was like a gay pride symbol.

Tammy anxious and upset. Feeling of not being enough. Overdose on medication. Jay was 11 then. He knew what to do. He rebuked her hallucinations. ‘I rebuke you in the name of God’.

Brooklin schoolteacher died of unknown disease. Rare form of ‘cancer’ AIDs. End of 1981 131 died. End of 1982 12000.

Aids and herpes,  Jerry Falwell. Reagan silent to please his political action group. The Moral Majority.

Mum did interview with somebody that had aids. Sept 15th 1985. Steve Peters.

What a brave thing. Now you’re going to show you’re an openly gay pastor with AIDs. Given Rev Steve Peters, still alive 2021.

What brought him? Christian pastor’s worst were Jerry Fallwell and Jimmy Swaggart. They’d talk as if homosexuals were paedophiles. They’d come and take your children.

1982. All manner of disease. 1984 full-blown AIDs Near Death Experience. They revived me. 2 weeks before Tammy Faye interview.

Try to reach an audience more of us LGBT couldn’t reach.

‘Tammy is sick and is cancelling the show’. I later learned that was a lie. Camera crews fears. Satellite hook-up.   Both ear-pieces keep popping out.

Have you ever had a sexual experience with a woman?

I’ve necked. But my orientation was towards men.

When she started in with haven’t you given women a chance?

When you found out you’ve had AIDs. I’ve experienced remission.

Did you feel lonely? Everybody so deadly frightened. Same air.

Asked not to use toilet. Served on paper plates. Steam-cleaning cups I’ve used.

How sad.

I remember after the interview was done. I hadn’t done very well. I thought nothing would come of it.

I knew she was doing something radical. (her son)

Steve got home and forgot about the interview. Troy Perry. 1000 people stood up and cheered. Steve heard from Tammy’s people too. Apparently, people phoned up and said she had a son that she thought was going to hell, but now she knew he was going to heaven.

She sent me this song. Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle. Don’t give up. Remember you’re not alone.

I’d sing along and got my miracle. I was blind and now I see.

I dunno, I know a lot more faith than me, that didn’t survive. One in a million chance, why not believe and act accordingly. I set out and did all the right things. Laughter therapy, diet, etc.

I am one in a million.

Two years and the Tammy empire crumbled. Jim jailed for financial theft.

She took Jay, her son, to hospices and to gay parades. Extraordinarily helpful. Same-sex marriage.

Emily Johnson, aural history, it had a huge impact. A more accepting world.

Tammy showed you could be gay and Christian.

Tammy died 2007.  I knew she was getting an eviction notice from her body, because I’d been there. How ironic she’s the one to die first.

Steve heard the enemy talk in a calm cultured environment.

4 Believe the Children.

We can lose all reason.

What happened to turn so many Americans so irrational during the 1980 and 1990. There is a cultural war for the soul of America.

Anathemas of Pat Buchanan, Republican Party.

The idea that gay men and women can have the same rights…

Abortion.

Radical feminism.

Discrimiation against religious schools. We must take back our culture and our country.

Bob Erdogan The left had won. And taken over the media.

Cultural running away from them.

Bob Larson. Arizona. Death Metal bands, blood lust and…

Culture war and liberals they should be left alone.

Is there some diabolical scheme, plotted in hell himself. Radio show from listeners. Killing babies. Eating human flesh. Secret cabals abusing children. Dead cats nailed to pulpits.

I saw myself as a reporter. Bob wanted to spread the warning and novel ‘Dead Air’.

You had intergenerational occult. Passing a woman or child through a dead horse and takes away from…

QAnon, derived from same spring.

Bob Larson. Numbers of people telling me the same story. You can’t go to a ceremony. They’d do things so bizarre. You’d not been

John Trott critic v Bob Larson on Larry King show. If it’s true. Where’s the evidence. 90% US population, Christian.

Ramarez, report on Satanism. Highest ever ratings.

Police: we have kids being killed, cattle mutilated. Child abduction.

Kelly Michaels live in Pennsylvania. 1985.

Just out of college. Artistic bent. Lived 20 minutes from New York.

Where you aware of Satanic panic?

I was aware of some case in California. McMartin case were satanic case where children claimed underground tunnels and…

Daycare centre. Took the job. Stepping stone for life. WeCare DayCare. Accountants. Lawyers> Moderately affluent.

Better paid, and different job in another daycare centre.

3 detective. Investigating child abuse in WeCareDayCare.

Complaint about mother, doctor’s office. That what happened at school. But not with thermometers. Good cop. Bad cop.

We can take care of this if you admit it. They seemed satisfied and drove me home. I thought it was wrong. A reasonable if bizarre event.

One child told them about making poo-poo and pee-pee cakes and then they were all at it.

Six-year old taken from school.

Frequent talk of abduction and satanic rings.

Mothers that used to stay at home and now at work.

They said I’d played the piano naked and making them drink urine off the school floor for 150  days. It took two years. It took that time to convince parents that this could have happened. Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention.

Guilt about abandonment to centre and guilt involved. Horrified about lack of awareness. 245 accounts of abuse against over thirty children.

All over America this happened to different carers.

‘We Believe the Children’ movement.

Children very calmly answering questions. Absence of trauma, meant more trauma.

August 1998. First charge. Taking temperature rectum. Thrown out. Then the guilties began.   Sentence 47 years in prison. Aged 27.

I was taken to punishment wing. I couldn’t process of crimes that no only I didn’t do, but didn’t happen.

2 years later. Harper’s Journal. Kelly Michael innocent.

Journalists who prided himself

Case overturned. Ambiguously

Parents faded back into life. No apologies to Kelly.

Bob Larson, I didn’t have an axe to grind.

The world’s most foremost expert in the occult. I do exorcism.

I survived this..I was accused of abusing children. It’s so injust, but I can’t do anything about it. I’m this nice little church lady. And they can’t believe it.

Professional people, but under certain conditions, they can succumb to moral panics (more easily). And the media. I was shocked. Surely The New York Times will say something.

They didn’t.

Social Media shaming. When something terrible happens. Steamroll reality and facts.

We’re all primitives.

Escalators of cultural wars, Christian right. With the internet it moved online.

5 A Scottish Jewish Joke.

A war who the internet belong to?

1980s before the World Wide Web. Brad Templeton. Epiphany, use computer to talk to other people. Usenet.

Central square. Your computer calls other computers.

Brad Software company. He was in his 20s. Audience, more elite (needed to access through colleges).

Brad, 1982, Full stops in email address. That shows how it begun.

Set up own message board.

Rec.Humour. Funny. 24 K subscribers. Jokes. One a day.

Automated programmes. Approved joke. Pick one at random and send it out. First person to be publicly shame because of something he did online

Kristlnacht. Night of Broken Glass.

Scotsman and Jew having dinner. And the Scotsman pays for it. The next day, headlines, Scottish ventriloquist found strangled?

Jonathan < shared flat with Amir. He clearly was affected by. Something important about the date. But the date was set at random.

LookingGlass Software. But running my own software company.

Next turned to the Usenet Community. But almost nobody took his side.

Amir my parents emigrated from the UK.

If something like that was left unchecked…

We hatched a plan. Hit the University of Waterloo through bad press.

Lousie…I thought this was a very important story. I read these jokes and I heard my stomach turning. In traditional media you can go to someone.

The way I described that joke…University of Waterloo system used to send racial jokes.

1980s, Italian and Jewish and in a struggle to be taken seriously. Made me feel marginalised and denigrated.

UseNet.

Brad: An actual Nazi contacted me.

University suspended Brad Templeton account.

Brian Reid. What a fool, they think they can ban? It was uncensorable. Built into design. Brad’s page, up right away.

Stanford University.

Campus in 80s. Progressive. Conservative. Eric Charles. Conservative. I don’t understand why anyone would join the military. And I was in the military.

Are you a conservative that wants your voice heard?

Peter, quiet (cold and calculating). Lamenting political correctness.

Standford polarising.

Do you believe in freedom of speech of not.

Jean Genus? Scottish Jewish joke. I thought it was funny. Then the whole hoo-ha. John Sack. Director of Stanford Data Centre.

How Stanford respond? Ban the joke or let it stand?

Town and gown. Birth of Silicon Valley. Navigation of shoals of how much to do for people. Engineers of the internet. Steering the ship?

Brad’s page, banned. Rationale. Stanford’s freedom of expression…

John McCarthy. Founder of Artificial Intelligence.

What kind of man was he, I’m not going to answer that. He attacked my mother. Eugenics. Personal. Speech codes online

Gathered 100 000 signatures online.

John Sacks> John McCarthy’s argument (break things and move) we’re reaching the limits of free speech, lets run into it and test it.

2012 Free Speech wing of the Free Speech party (i.e. Twitter).

Brad, because of this kerfuffle. One of the mostly widely read on the internet.

Peter> went off to Wall Street. Thiel. Started PayPal.

Dave Ruben report. Peter Thiel.

Louise De Amato. White lives matter? March? Torn apart on Twitter. What happened to him, happened to me.

John Sack, who tried to get Brad’s jokes banned, thinks he was hemmed in by binary thinking.

6 Many Different Lives.

She asked if I was a woman? And I said, yeh. And she said Michigan is for women born women only. And you have to leave.

Nobody in this story intended for these things to lead to hatred.

Rebecca. Mixed race babies, unfamiliar. Race of familiar black. Race white. Mother black.  wrote The Colour Purple (Alice Walker).

Alice and Melvin’s goal to embody ideas. Vagaries of marriage. She moved to San Francisco and two years in Washington. My mum partnered with afroAmerican. Father, Jewish woman.

Wizard of Oz, auditioned and was given the part of the wicked witch of the North. I fancied a white boy. Brian North.

Back in black life. More accepting on the whole. Black relatives call me a ‘cracker’. Demonic, based on their horrendous treatment of black people. Part of whiteness. Moving from world to world like different planets.

Gloria Steinem was her godmother. New wave of feminism. 2nd phase of feminism. Betty Friedman’s book. 1963. Women had been struggling alone. Protesting for change. Equal rights. To have a job. To have respect. Won Roe v Wade 1973.

I had grown up in very feminist community. Propaganda against feminism incredibly strong. Called lesbians. Wouldn’t shave their legs. Whether lesbians should be included etc. Extremist movements. Post-feminism.

UCLA, intersectional feminists.

How can we re-define what the movement is?  I am not a post-feminist. I’m third generation feminism. Third wave.

They accused us of matricide. As if we had been replaced (murdered). We’ve been talking about this forever. This is not new.

Umbrella to gather under. For example, sexuality

Judith Butler, rethink gender categories. Trans-positive.

One is not born a woman. One becomes one. Simone de Beauvoir.

Isn’t tied to societal facts, but women’s movement should open up these categories.  

Mitch fest? Michigan fest. 1981 Overwhelming impression was breasts. Women removed their tops and shirts.

Lying on small bamboo mat. And smiling

Campsite for and built be women. Some partying. Some overthrowing patriarchy.

Nance Barcholder?  Mitchfest 1991.

I’d been cross-dressing over the years, but I knew I wasn’t gay. I went to see a therapist. I want to be a girl. Gender reassignment 1983.

I wasn’t go to come right out as trans. Went next year. Nancy’s friend, went away. A couple of women came up and they said we need to talk to you. This festival is for women only. Are you a women?

I said yes.

She asked, if I was transsexual. And I said, it was none of her business. I had a driving licence. I had a work record. And here I was being rejected.

Laura comes back and we drive away. We fly back to New Hampshire Bay Window, Boston magazine.

Acknowledged there were other transsexuals. But they didn’t ask gender.

Janice conducted survey. 75% felt they would have been very happy to be there. Following year, where we set up camp, across the road. Went back next year. Camp Trans. Hundreds of people came out.

Most festive goers are open-minded. Atmosphere of love and joy will bring us together.1995 Camp Trans escorted onto the land.

Camp trans and Mitch Fest under own group.

Pre-op, shouldn’t they be allowed into Mitchfest, because they couldn’t afford it? Point of division.

Mitch Blyh? Angry emails about Mitch fest no allowing trans into their festival. They wanted a name. Trans-Exclusionary-Radical-Feminist.

How TRANS people should be recognised. Self identify. Not having the medical establishment in Britain for example have you live as a woman for two years before gender reassignment surgery.

Mitchfest shut down. 1992. Became associated with exclusion. Third wave become fourth wave.

Rebecca? All experiments need to be rigorously accessed. 

Tone set by both sides, Alienation?

7 A Secret Behind a Fake Wall.

Edges of Hollywood. Isaac Kappy.

Filled with people imagined they’d been abandoned. Takes us

Wendy Kappy, mother born New Mexico.

Probducing acting.

Best friend ross. Hung out. Get on our bikes, cruise around. Monster Pools. Champagne Bikeride. Picked up.

Breaking Bad. Thor. Paid pet-store clerk.

He wanted to be a star and famous. Saw himself that way. Looked like could happen. 2011, Albuquerque industry died. Left and went to LA. Competing with 100 times number of people.

Issac struggled to find work. New best friends. Paris, Michael Jackson’s daughter. MacAulay Caulkin. He’d been a conspiracy theorist. About 9/11 being an inside job.

2016, during primaries.

He was a Bernie Sander’s supporter. They did all they could to stifle him. Felled by conspiracy. Took steps down rabbit hole.

Pizza Gate, secretly sex headquarters delivered children for sex and to eat.

Alex Jones, Pizza Gate is real.

December 4th  2016, family Pizza joint and opened fire. Admitted there were no dungeons. Intel. Not 100%

Then something happened.

Ross: I don’t know if I got the whole story. It’s a little uncomfortable, to talk about that. The incident. Tallies with March 2017. Confided with them, that certain people in Hollywood part of world-wide conspiracy. They told him he was right. And if he wanted to become a famous man. He had to come and rape the child behind a fake wall.

I got asked to join the Illuminati.

During the weeks that followed. Hollywood friends disturbed him further. He truly believed they had a child in a dungeon.

Came to Albuquerque. Stayed for a month. Breakdown.

After sitting on his secret for 8 months. On Alex Jones. Names his well-known friends. After that experience I tried to black it out. This is not a media stunt. I believe it.

When you go on Alex Jones and even he debunks your information.

Started posting periscopes online. Life links. QAnon. Trump had a masterplan to eliminate the Illuminati and Satanist child abusers. Narcissists.

Diagnosed with being a narcissist. Posted online. Paranoia. In LA asked a group of police officers to arrest him for his own safety.

Naming with no evidence, continuing names of Hollywood stars, with zero evidence. Went online. QAnon started re-posting his videos.

Ross: He got worried and stopped going out.

Answering questions from QAnon fans. Once I found out about PizzaGate…Maybe I’ll be back later.

Set off to visit his parents. He went over a bridge and died. Flagstaff, Arizona. Two men tried to save him. Fell backwards.

Ross talked to him last time. He apologised for things he’d done.

Incident happened around 7.30am. We were informed about 4.30pm.

Lowest things, people obtained pictures of his corpse and posted them online. YouTube refused to remove them.

May 13th 2019.

But this isn’t where his story ends.

Lin Wood said he’d been murdered. John Ziegler writing about him for decades.

Been deformation Covington Kentucky, as  if they were taunting native American, wearing Trump hats. Racists. Outrage.

Other videos questioning narrative. Lin Wood got settlement for kids.

They were out there going after those young boys. Cause celebrity among Trump world.

I though he was fantastic. Very logical. But in 2020, after Trump went overboard. Avalanche of insanity.

Bush, Clinton, Obama involved in child sex abuse and murder.

Kappy was about to heroically deliver the tape to Trump before he was murdered.

He’d been working to try and get the election changed.

Trump’s official lawyers told zero chance of getting elected.

Outside lawyers. Came in. Insane solutions. Lin Wood. Online elements. Read the same stuff online. Information silos.

Jonathan’s story inside Trump’s head.

Sidney Powell, information conspiracy. Trump puts her on mute. Then unmutes and asks her what are we going to do? Sometimes we need a little crazy. So what are we going to do?

Insurrectionists, support Stop the Steal.

Lin Wood any attempts to connect them to insurrection are nonsense.

It’s good v evil.

Trump allowed this destabilising farce because sometimes you need a little crazy.

8 A Mock Slave Auction.

How the school text book wars have become so pervasive we can’t escape them. So You’ve Been Publically Shamed,  Jon Ronson.

Traverse City, Michigan.

Naeve Walston? aged 16. Last April 2021. Hey, Snapchat? my friends trying this group. Late at night. texted. This is really bad. You were in it. You were sold?

Invite only. SnapChat.

92% Travis City White.

Auctioned for $100 but went for $3.

Some of the stuff being said. Good for cotton. Cherry picking. All blacks should die. Eugh and gross.

1.2million slaves sold 1760 -1860.

I’ve lived a sheltered existence. Kinda tension when slavery was mentioned. Never experienced racism in LA. Wow, this town isn’t a friendly as I thought.

Scheduled school board meeting. Just regular meeting. 7 school board meeting sit in circle. 3 minutes questioned by public.

Not an isolated incident. Paul Sinclair, educator. Mr Sinclair, but as soon as I walk out the door, black man. Stopped 13 times in a month by police.

2 page draft resolution. Immediate opportunities to learn about racism. Anti-hate learning.

School board meetings no longer modestly attended.

Identical scenes across America but fundamental change.

‘God loves you, but I’m not judging you’ (but I am).

Let’s look under the hood…CRT (Critical Race Theory) shorthand for all racist ideas. Tucker Carlson.  Robin DiAngelo White Fragility.

John McWhirter. Nobody

Robin DiAngelo white role in systemic racism. Death threats. Single mum. Living in car. Feed of clothes of house us. Mom became sick. Cancer. Don’t tell anyone. She died when I was 11.

Went to college when she was 28. Career centre. Divesity training. Go out into field. Typically, 100% white. Meanness. Any suggesting racism was systemic.

Origin moment. Essay. Then book.

Fragility how little it takes to cause offence.

2018. Black Lives Matter. Books sold in droves. New York Times bestseller. George Floyd’s murder. That’s the narrative. But it had already been in the top 10.

I signed up for one of Robin’s workshops. Bowled over for couple of hours. Seas of white faces. Statistics. 93% white what shows we see. 82% school teachers.

Unsure, living in car. I knew it was better being white. How can you measure that? White priviledge. Eg Opiod addiction

Robin. How are we going to help people with opioids? How are we going to criminalise these (black) crack addicts?

If you are white your opinons are going to be superficial and ill-informed. Devote years to study and practice. Everyone’s opinion aren’t equal.

Dick Gregory ‘Nigger’.

Dean fired/suspended. Student pushing for dismissal. All that mattered was the impact.

Robin: I think intentions irrelevant? What we’ve got to focus on impact.

We emailed her, the gist of what I offered that student.

Dick Gregory, where the willing to engage in academic discourse?

I tell Robin about Traversee sister.

‘Yes, our ancestors made mistakes…’

Let’s move on.

Robin, oops. I made a mistake…

Being silenced. I’m going to go the biggest elephant in the room. People with investment in the status quo.

Anger, in Traverse City, people being told they need to be good in a different way.

Isn’t Robin’s fault. 1300 CRT mentioned on Fox News.

Trump mentions it again and again. Something to rally against.

Naeve. We acknowledge racism and we’re going to do everything we can. No teaching of CRT.

Fudge. Appease divided community. Many echoes of past repetitions pulling more and more things into its orbits.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed?

How we should be more empathetic. Fleeting mentions of bestiality and porn-shoot. As with Roger McGough, an optional book.

Two teachers suspended for putting the book on the reading list.

Biggest ambition, culture  wars not becoming culture wars. After Tammy’s episode, so many messages of support.

Great Scottish Writer—Neil M.Gunn (1941 [1989]) The Silver Darlings.

The Silver Darlings, referred to in the title, are herring. Neil M.Gunn’s most popular novel was published by Faber & Faber in 1941. Think about that. T.S.Eliot was the main man at Faber & Faber. The phony war with Germany was over. Britain was in retreat and awaiting imminent invasion and possible starvation as U-boats sunk tens of thousands of tons of merchant shipping. Gunn dedicated the book ‘to the memory of my father’. And men like him, men of deep faith that have been torn from the land by bailiffs and absent landlords, but still cling onto hope ‘because no landlord owned the sea’ (or so we thought). William Faulkner’s, much quoted requiem to neologisms, still holds true, ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’  

The first trickle of the herring boom allowed ordinary men and women to cling to the land, by going to sea, in much the same way the oil boom regenerated the Scottish economy. Its surplus squandered by Thatcherite monetarist policies that continue causing misery to the poorest while rewarding the richest for nothing much more than being rich. This is a love story, but it’s also a lesson in economics.

Chapter 1, The Derelict Boat.   Toland aged 24, ‘felt full of a great competence. Catrine was only nineteen,’ and pregnant. Like many others they’d survived the winter on shellfish and seaweed. Colic and dysentery their bed companions when they ate the wrong things.

‘Old men, trying to live on nothing to give the young a better chance, had become unbelievably gaunt, so that children would run from them frightened.’

Catrine clings to Toland. She’s hysterical. ‘All along these coasts—the coasts of the Moray Firth—there was a new stirring of sea life.’

The sea is their common salvation. Listen to the almost biblical language of Gunn.

The landlords who had burned them out in order to bring a suitable desolation for sheep (italics my own).   

[They] had set about making a harbour at the mouth of the river, the same river that, with its tributaries, has threaded the island valleys. Money had been advanced by him (at 6 ½ per cent, interest) to erect buildings for dealing with fish.’

I thought this would be a book about Catrine and Toland, but by the end of chapter 1, he’s gone from Dale. And Catrine is with child. She travels to a strange country, Dunster, to stay with her older friend Kirsty. Kirsty has a large croft with only her father to keep, but they also speak the common language of the people, the Gaelic.  Catrine is almost raped on the way from Dale to Dunster by a shepherd. But it’s subtly done. These things didn’t happen in Britain at the end of the Napoleonic era, not to good girls.

She meets skipper Roddie Sinclair. And old woman instructs Roddie to take her to Kirsty’s father’s croft. He’s no rapist (well, to jump ahead twenty years, she says ‘no’ but means yes, I’m not sure how that would translate nowadays). Roddie declares he’s married to the sea, but we know that he’s the strongest, bravest and best skipper, while she’s the bonniest, (mirror, mirror on the wall) she’s the prettiest of all.

But she’s still married to Toland. He’s been taken by a warship, while fishing off the coast, press-ganged into the Royal Navy. Catrine has a vision that he’s dead. But Roddie and Catrine’s lives must run in parallel, because that’s what the good book says.

Catrine gives birth to Finn. The good book follows his life as he grows up, and establishes a relationship with Roddie. A preacher teaches arithmetic with examples from the sea.

‘How many women are in a gutting crew, and what do they do?

Three. Two gutters and one packer.

What do they jointly earn for gutting and packing one barrel of herring?  You!

Fourpence, said the fisherman.

How many herring are in a barrel?

… There can be 800.

What does a woman get for gutting 100 herring?

… Now we have in our midst, a distinguished craftswoman in net making… How much is this woman paid for a net?

Finn raised his hand. ‘The number of knots along the top is 1801. The number down that 504…The total is 909 500 knots.

How many knots does she have to tie to earn one penny, ignoring fractions?

Mag had to tie 5790 knots to earn one penny.’

Finn had listened to endless arguments over the years. Mr Hendry at first said that they might as well haul their boats and close down. From four shillings on the barrel the [government] bounty had gone down to three shillings, to two shillings, to one shilling, to nothing.

Finn’s coming of age is marked by a seeming downturn in fishing. He falls in love, but cannot admit it, especially to himself. This is Toland and Catrine, but for the next generation, and for our generation. The story of love does not grow old and weary in the way our bodies do. In the way his mother’s body does. Only Roddie seems to defy the laws of aging. A hard man and hard taskmaster, he has the patience of Job.

When Roddie and Finn clash, as they must, both have some growing up to do. Catrine, ever virgin, despite being married and having a child, is the ballast.

The Silver Darlings is rooted in Scotland’s past, when those that owned the land, owned the people on the land, and created ‘a desolation’ of wealth. Much as now. They still do, even as fishing has dwindled to less than 1% of GDP, with boats coasting tens of millions of pounds that can catch and package fish for the market while still at sea lying rusting in dock. The lie of Brexit, fouling the nets. Gunn’s requiem for his father and his father’s father way of life and fishing so they might live and prosper. It’s all here. Open the book and read one of the classics of Scottish literature.

Darren McGarvey’s Class War, Episode 1, Identity Crisis, BBC Scotland, BBC iPlayer, presented by Darren McGarvey.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000s7hd/darren-mcgarveys-class-wars-series-1-1-identity-crisis

Darren McGarvey from Pollock admits he’s lucky, incredibly lucky. And he’s right to do so. He’s on a roll after Poverty Safari. The go-to man when the BBC, or any other media organisation, wants to signal that they’re doing the right thing. Giving the working class a voice. The equivalent of a black woman in the moron moron’s cabinet of his 45th American Presidency debacle. The alternative view. The Fool in Shakespearian plays, such as King Lear, who is allowed to speak truth to power. Invisible, but a place holder. Greta Thunberg addressing delegates at the United Nations, patted on the head, before they get back down to adult business of maintaining the status quo. Class War?

Not in my lifetime. Capitulation would be a better word. All the post-war gains since the second world war taken away. Marxism, is like liberalism or capitalism, difficult to summarise, but Marx argued that the point wasn’t to philosophise or interpret the world, ‘but to change it’.

The crudest formulations of class are clichéd.  If I working class man throw dice and keep throwing double sixes. Then the dice are taken to be loaded. The system flawed. He’s regarded as a crook. But if an upper class man throws six after six after six. Dice aren’t taken to be loaded. The capitalist system not flawed. When actors such as Darren pop-up they are pointed at as the exception to the rule-rule. They show how fair the system can be.  The end of history. The end of theory. The triumph of capitalism.

But clichés are also reservoirs of meaning. Darren flings out a few ideas and asks various characters—one of whom looks out of his face—what their thinking is on particular topics. ‘Buckfast’, for example, brought a satisfying chortle. Lower class, of course. But hey, it used to be a tonic wine, for middle-class folk.

I like the parody of class that features in The Frost Report: John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00hhrwl

The first thing to be noted is height. The upper class with better diet and access to proteins lived longer. Literally, walk taller. Those that own the land, own the people on the land. Windfall profits of billons for our monarch who also owns large tranches of our offshore sea, where windfarms will be situated. If you need to work for money, you’re in the wrong game. Money for the richest one-percent makes money by investing capital. After reaching a certain mass it’s a no-lose gain. It’s in all of Belzac’s books. And try a bit of Jane Austen. I’m a fan of Emile Zola, although he has a tendency to assume the working class get more sex and are sexually active earlier. Maybe they are. I must have missed that bit.

  Darren gets pulled up about his posture. Watch any programme about long-lost families. You’ll find those that went abroad, including those transported to Australia, are taller, more muscular. Fish and cheap cuts of meat for the less well off at home. Starvation is back in fashion in Old Blighty. Food banks as a solution to hunger. In Shakespeare’s day people that got to around thirty-eight were the equivalent of our old age pensioners. Thirty-nine was ancient. Gladstonian liberals allowed for a pension for those aged over 65 in 1909. Less than a fraction of one-percent of the population was expected to live that long to collect it. We know now that is no longer the case and pension age has risen to over sixty-eight. But for the first time since records began the average age of British citizens has stopped increasing annually. It’s a class thing. A working class thing. Our babies die first and in greater numbers than their middle-class or upper class cohorts. A negative impact that carries on throughout life.  Like those infected with Covid-19 we’re dying off quicker and pulling down the average age of our general population.  

The second thing to be noted is dress. Darren plays that dressing up game too.  All of our characters wear hats. The upper class character wears a bowler. A marker of rank. Bowler hats were a useful tool in preventing directors, such as Stevens of Steven’s shipyard, knocking his head. His father would have worn a top hat. Workers in the yards didn’t wear hats. Their heads were thicker. They wore overalls.  

Winston Churchill wore a top hat to his public school. Accent speaks of breading. Churchill was regarded as a bit of a thicko. But he had the right kind of accent, Received Pronunciation. He famously barked at an opposition Labour MP to take his hands out of his pockets. And as a reflex action to the upper-class demands the MP complied.  Here a butler is brought in to give Darren the once over when he’s dressed as a toff. The butler demands he take his hands out of his pockets and pull his socks up. Ho-hum, bit of playing to the camera.

Then we have the big reveal. The butler reveals he’s one of us. He’s working class. But he worked harder than everybody else at learning to be a butler. He got up to bed earlier. Went to bed later. He’s using Thatcheristic language reiterated by George Osborne in his debate about ‘strivers versus shirkers’. The universality of a Dickensian appeal to an imagined past that never existed. One hand destroying the welfare state, and the other clapping NHS workers, before crashing the economy into Brexitland and calling it a triumph.

Darren does cricket. I’m working-class enough to hate it. Just a little reminder here, wasn’t that the Malcolm Rifkind that was caught selling access to our British Parliament for ready cash? Cash for questions?  Like the whisky priest in Father Ted I can’t help jumping out my chair and shouting ‘Tory Scum’, and for good reason. In a propaganda war they set out to destroy us, and largely succeeded.

Darren touches on it with the seeming contradiction of the ever-shrinking working class.   Two-thirds of the population at the end of the nineteen century to around a third today. A mix and matching of definitions of what is meant by the working class relating to income. Weberian definitions as opposed to Marxist definitions where those that need to sell their labour are authentic working class. The proletariat. Academics toyed with these ideas in the sixties, the embourgeoisement thesis. Luton car workers because they were so well-off were the new middle class. Yet, when interviewed they claimed still to be working class despite having enough money to be considered bourgeoisie. Ronnie Corbett instead of wearing a bunnet would wear a flat cap and vote Tory. Corbett’s working class character, ‘I know my place’. You hear that kinda crap all the time, rich folk have money and they must know how to manage it. The answer is simple. By claiming working class origins, the middle (or indeed, upper) class gain greater kudos for achieving what they have achieved. They’ve rolled more sixes in life because of their skill. Look how far I’ve come, narrative.

Funny, until you consider 170 million Americans voted for the moron’s moron, and ‘red wall’ constituencies in deindustrialised areas such as Yorkshire voted for the equivalent here and for Boris Johnson and Brexit. Racist, dog-whistle politics, triumph. Eugenics is back with a bang, but dressed up in the clothes of morality.

In short, follow the money and the stories of machismo. Boris Johnson shouting through a microphone about returning £165 million a week to the NHS, while pedalling the same old bullshit as the moron’s moron, the other side of the Atlantic, about making America great again.

Marxism follows the evidence. Going against the grain. Prejudices are so engrained they need to step back and look at them.

Gramsci’s view of popular culture. Class is ideology in action. Pattern recognition of narrative the stories we’ve been told again and again until they have substance. Truth is relative.

 Cul-de-sac of boring, often impenetrable theory to develop ideas of what is meant be class. Premises, methodology, perception.  Examining the ideas behind our assumptions. We better be quick talking about class before we all become middle class tomorrow.  

Darren examines the idea of marrying outside our class. It happens less often. Money becomes concentrated in fewer and fewer hands Remember 7:84, The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil?   The history of Scotland in Brechtian theatre. How our sovereign wealth went to pay for Unemployment Benefit in Thatcher’s Britain in the mid-80s. Eighty-four percent of the land owned by seven percent of the population. We’d expect that figure to be a lot higher, now. And with green energy relying on having access to land, we can also expect those that hold the people to ransom, the capitalist and rentier class to become even richer. Thomas Piketty Capital in the Twenty-First Century documents this process. To be working class is to be powerless and treated as expendable scum. I’m not sure I learned anything here. But it’s a reminder of how far we’ve fallen. More of a hotchpot rant than a review. But this class stuff gets in my wick.

Joe Biden wins- alleluia!

I’m delighted. I kept checking the US election results in the same way I usually check the football results to see how my team, Celtic, are doing. I get it. I really do. I’m not American. I was not going to influence the almost 75 million polled votes for Joe Biden, nor the just over 70 million votes for Donald J Trump. For the last five years I’ve called him the moron’s moron. He is no more.

When the 45th United States President was elected, I said he’d won the biggest beauty contest in the world. I naively thought that the scrutiny would unman him, even unPresident him. Like Narcissist looking into a pool of water he would somehow fade away. The opposite happened. The moron’s moron claimed, with some justification, he ‘could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters’.

20 000 Trump lies later, fact-checked by the New York media, we’re back in 2016. Trump didn’t expect to win in 2016. All his crooked-Hillary lies were in place for Trump to claim he should have won and could have won and he’ll win next time. Next time he’ll drain the swamp. The has-been President will find, once more, that Rupert Murdoch won’t be taking his calls. Fox New has already made that screeching U-turn and asked him—at the very end, when it’s no longer needed—to behave like a President.

The has-been President will find all that other people’s money he’s been using in a Ponzi scheme will begin to unravel. The buck will begin to stop here. And he won’t be able to pay his creditors. Especially, his foreign creditors.

What of the former President’s tax returns? That should make interesting copy and should at least keep the moron’s moron in the news.

Allegations of rape and sexual assault that have been kept at arm’s length by litigation and, like so many others such as Weinstein, Cosby and Jackson, by a wall of money. That should make good copy too.

We’ll be able to find out more about how Russia was involved in the 2016 election. It might even be worth looking again at the Senate’s roll in failing to impeach the former President for his role in tarnishing the current President.

We might even find out more how Facebook and Cambridge Analytical stitched up the Presidential election of 2016 and the Brexit vote by targeting voters. Despite this, no one much was calling the 2016 election fake news. Trump won, so it must be true.

All of these things may come to pass or may not. Truth is variable. I wish the very worst thing that could happen to the moron’s moron. We follow the lead of New Zealand Prime Minister—and not just in the battle against Covid-19—Jacinda Ardern, and refuse to name evil, give it a face, give it a voice.  Silence the moron’s moron. Not giving him house room. Laughing at him. Giving the peddler of hate and his childish rants the respect he deserves. That’s all I ask. Count the carnage of Covid-19. The moron’s moron… shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Sweet silence.

John MacLeod (2010) River of Fire: The Clydebank Blitz

River of Fire is a book about before and after The Clydebank Blitz. Those who died in the aftermath of Luftwaffe bombing of Clydebank on Thursday 13th March 1941 and the following night. Those who survived the bombing and fled the town. Those who stayed. Others that came through a sense of duty and solidarity to help the victims of the bombing. John MacLeod looks at the aftermath, the thousands, who did not return to Clydebank after March 1941.

The facts are listed, the dead and injured, but juxtaposed with the way they were framed at the time.

When 528 were (with some revision) listed as dead over the two nights of bombing. The first wave of German bombers, largely unchecked, converging over Clydeside around 9pm and following Luftwaffe radio transmission beams. Around 236 Junkers 88 and Heinkel 111s that came from bases in northern France, Holland and Germany, and hugged the coast. Saturation bombing took place in a British city. Explosions could be heard at Bride of Allan in Stirlingshire.  

Such was the ferocity of bombing that one worker who had been there and experienced the bombing, when told over 500 died, remarked, ‘What street?’

The town of around 42 000 people was levelled. From one geographically small community 528 people were dead; 617 seriously injured. Hundreds—perhaps thousands—more were superficially hurt and cut. Of some 12000 dwellings—including tenement blocks as well as villas and semi-detached homes—only 7 were left entirely undamaged. Four thousand homes were completely destroyed: 4500 would be uninhabitable for months.

Those that died in the Clydebank Blitz on March 1941 are listed in the back of the book alphabetically, street by street, but in a changing burgh and districts are knocked together. Further complications are that many did not die in their homes. The Rocks’ family are listed as having lived at 78 Jellicoe Street.

Ann Rocks, Age 1, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1941.

Annie Rocks, Age 54, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1941.

Elizabeth Rocks, Age 28, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1941.

Francis Rocks, Age 21, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1941.

James Rocks, Age 4, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1941.

James Rocks, Age 32, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1942.

John Rocks, Aged 19, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1942.

Joseph Rocks, Age 17, At 72 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1942.

Margaret Rocks, Age 2, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1942.

Patrick Rocks, Age 6, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1942.

Patrick Rocks, Age 28, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1942.

Theresa Rocks, Age 25, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1942.

Thomas Rocks, Age 13, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1942.

Thomas Rocks, Age 5 months, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1942.  

Many of us are will be familiar with the story of Patrick Rocks, who swapped shifts with his son at Beardmore’s. MacLeod uses fiction to dramatize his homecoming.

‘It was still not dawn when the planes retreated and bombers faded away, he picked his way to Jellicoe Street thorough what was left of Dalmuir. Wedged between the blazes at Singers and Old Kilpatrick, this sturdy community had been pummelled through the night… Rocks meandered through wreckage with mounting alarm. When he rounded the corner, his heart lifted to see the light through the window of his flat. Then, a few steps on, he realised it was but the moon, and the glow of flame, through one tottering gable.’

This would be a thin volume charting the rise and decline of shipbuilding on the Clyde, with some questionable assumptions, you’d expect from the son of the manse, such as Thatcherism being a necessary corrective to the British and Scottish economy. (Here’s a hint, we didn’t vote for Thatcher or Johnson and we didn’t vote Brexit. We didn’t vote Scottish Independence either – not yet).  

MacLeod also seems to be conducting a vendetta against a left-wing shop steward in the Daily Mail, a newspaper where he was once a reporter. (Nobody much in Scotland read the Daily Mail, not then, not now, not ever).

MacLeod is also quick to correct what he believes are the failings in Meg Henderson’s book about a fictional family set during the era of the Clydebank Blitz, The Holy City. (I just thought Henderson’s book about a matriarchal and feisty working-class family was pretty crap, whereas Henderson’s Finding Peggy was a Scottish masterpiece. I guess this is a matter of taste and I’ll tackle The Holy City again.)

MacLeod also seems to have a bugbear against nuclear disarmament.

His chapter, The Bombing of Ethics (which is a convoluted way of saying the ethics of bombing) looks at the German experience of being firebombed.  Hamburg and Dresden.

In Hamburg, for example, MacLeod quotes:

 ‘freak air currents spread a storm of fire across a four-square mile radius. People on the streets flashed into flames, while those huddled in shelters died asleep as the fresh air was replaced by lethal gases and smoke. Others were transformed into fine ash. By the time air raids ceased, 45 000 had been killed and a further 37 000 injured. 900 000 had lost their homes- up to two-thirds of the population of Hamburg fled the city.

Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse Five, begins with the narrator explaining, ‘all this happened, more or less’.

MacLeod’s account of the bombing of Dresden 13 February 1945 is more of a turkey shoot, Lancaster bombers stacked on top of one another dropping 4000 pound and 8000 pound bombs. In comparison, no bomb bigger than 1000 pounds fell on Clydebank.  And they dropped only four of that weight.

Air-Marshall ‘Bomber’ Harris wanted 5000 strategic bombers. 244 Lancasters flew over Dresden. They created a firestorm.

Temperatures rose to 1000 degrees Centigrade, jets of flame fifty-feet high hissed across streets…Dresden burned so bright, night became day.

Reap what you sow is MacLeod’s argument. There was a qualitative difference between what the Allies were trying to achieve by firebombing than the Nazis. What we did was right. What they did was ideologically and morally wrong. Them and us.

A quip (and perhaps apocryphal story) from Bomber Harris sums it up. Stopped in his car one night for speeding, the policeman warns the Air Marshal, he might kill someone with his driving.

‘Young man, I kill thousands of people every night.’

***

Perhaps it’s more instructive to look at the grandiose behaviour of General MacArthur in the Far East in 1945.  

‘No Radioactivity in Hiroshima Ruin’ was a New York Times, front page, report. Most of the world remained ignorant of what radioactivity was.

The diminutive Australian reporter, Wilfred Burchett, armed with a typewriter, travelled by train through Japan after their surrender to witness what had happened after the A-bomb, Enola Gay. He called out President Truman and General MacArthur.

The Atomic Plague was his report.

‘I became very conscious of what would happen in the event of a new world war. From that moment on, I became active on the question of nuclear disarmament…It was not possible to stand by.’

Burchett was on the winning side. He was on the side of right. Them and Us. What he was saying is there is no them and us. Just common humanity. We sometimes lose that in the small print. Mass murder is mass murder. And nuclear weapons will tip the planet into permanent winter. Lest we forget in the scramble to claim the moral high ground. .

Notes on ‘Spring’ by Ali Smith

Ali Smith is the same age as me and was born in Inverness, Scotland (for those of you that don’t know Inverness is in Scotland—yeh, that happens). She’s an international star whose writing is lauded. The Guardian, for example, called Autumn, ‘The novel of the year’. I stuck with Spring and read it from start to finish. I found bits of it a chore and probably wouldn’t have read beyond the first ten pages, but for her world renown.

I’ve made some notes, you might, or might not, want to have a quick read through. These would, usually, be the basis of a larger review. The major characters in these odysseys are seeking integrity, and mostly they manage it. I agree with the didactic elements listed below.

A simple journey from London to Inverness.

An obituary appears in the Guardian, …Patricia Heal nee Hardiman 20th September 1932-11 August 2018

The stories Mansfield wrote in Switzerland were her best (sanatorium).

Script about Mansfield and Rilke, literary giants. It’s mindblowing. 37

Virtue signalling problems, Richard tells his imaginary daughter. 27

Don’t talk about climate change or the rise of the right, or the migrant crisis or Brexit or Windrush or Grenfell or the Irish border…

Don’t be calling it migrant crisis…I’ve told you a million times. It’s people. It’s an individual crossing the world against the odds.  Multiplied by 60 million, all individuals, all crossing the world, against odds that worsen by the day. 68

Dying is a salutary thing, Dick, Paddy says. It’s a gift, I look at Trump now, I see them all, the new world tyrants, all the leaders of the packs, the racists, the white supremacists, the new crusaders rabble-rousers holding forth, the thugs all across the world, and what I think is, all that too solid flesh. It’ll melt away like snow in May.

[cf Catherine of Sienna]

[cfDuncan Cambell (bent cop)

Sentenced by Mr Justice Melford Stevenson:

‘you’ve poisoned the well of justice for the crooks, cranks and do-gooders’ [who want to attack the police’]

…the fact that those two writers just living in the same place at the same time in their lives, whether they met or not.

This is the kind of coincidence that sends electricity through our lives. 99

People like feeling.

Some things that Britanny Hall learned in her first two months as a DCO at a UK IRC.

There are 30 000 detained in this country at any one time. 165

Detention is the key to maintaining an effective immigration system. 167  

[ciphers not characters]

If the force of just five more nuclear bombs going off anywhere in the world happens…eternal nuclear autumn will set in and there’ll be no more seasons. 186 Florence Smith and the machine.

You can only legally detain someone in this country for seventy-two hours before you have to charge them with a crime. 204-5

Aldo Lyons (Auld Alliance) 271

235 recent escapes…detention estates.

I had no rights. I still have no rights. I carried fear on my shoulders all the way across the world to this country you call yours. I still carry fear on my shoulders. Fear is one of my belongings…

And the first thing you did when I arrived was hand me a letter saying, Welcome to a county in which you are not welcome. You are now a designated unwelcome person with whom we will do as we please 272

320 face-recognition technology.

The Unwanted: The Secret Windrush Files, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, directed by Tim Kirby and David Ross.

empire windrush.jpg

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m00068sk/the-unwanted-the-secret-windrush-files

Historian David Olusoga investigates the story, behind the story, of the Windrush Scandal. He unearths government papers to show the duplicity and hypocrisy of the British Government in creating ‘a hostile environment’ for those considered undesirable because of skin colour.

Who can forget Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists? Enoch Powell and his ‘river of blood’ speech? Powell had conveniently forgotten he’d been to Jamaica to recruit nurses for the overstretched NHS in the early 1950s. Or the Smethwick election of 1964, which the Conservative candidate won using the message, ‘If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour’?

A hostile environment wasn’t some ruse thought up by the then Home Secretary, Teresa May. It has a long lineage and includes both the creator of the NHS, Clem Atlee and Winston Churchill. The latter wanted to fight an election using the rubric of Smethwick and elected Prime Minister in early 1950s  worked to ensure public institutions like the Post Office didn’t employ non-nationals (i.e. ‘niggers’).

Ukip and Brexit are rooted in a picture of the British Empire in which everyone knew their place. And stayed where they were.  Empire Windrush, a decommissioned ship, taken from the German navy was returning to England from Kingston and didn’t want to return to London empty, so advertised for passengers. 350 Jamaican and British Commonwealth citizens paid their fare and arrived in Tilbury docks on the 22nd June 1948 to be met by the media. They thought they were coming home to a place where the streets were paved with gold. They didn’t know they weren’t wanted. If they’re black, send them back was unofficial policy.

The government favoured displaced European, such as former Waffen SS, and those that couldn’t speak English but where white, for absorption into the working population. Unofficial surveys, such as those taken in dole offices, a week after the Queen’s coronation in 1953, were snapshots that were meant to show that coloureds were sponging off the British state. Chief Constables in our major cities were asked to provide data showing the extent of the coloured problem and the relationship with criminal behaviour. Here we have the crude eugenics of the early twentieth-century resurfacing after Auschwitz and given a new emulsion coat of paint.

Ironically, the threat of no longer allowing those Jamaicans that held a British passport entry into Britain created a self-fulfilling prophecy. At the end of the 1950s immigration to Britain had slowed to around 15 000 to 20 000 a year. Let’s put that into context, official figures in post-war Britain claimed to need an extra two million additional workers. In 1960 and the threat of their British passports become invalid, around 500 000 people travelled to Britain from the Caribbean and Jamaica.

Many of those features in this programme were the children of those that had travelled in the first wave of immigrants to Britain from Jamaica. It was these people that had been reunited with their parents, went to school here and worked here for thirty, forty or fifty years that were caught in the ‘hostile environment’ which conflated two ideas in a toxic mix: austerity and immigration. A system that sought to blame the former on the latter. A propaganda war in which the poorest are always culpable. A Kafka like system of bureaucracy that sought to fulfil targets and treat people as things and not as individuals. None of those featured in the programme could provide the documentation that said, categorically, they were British Citizens. No government official appeared to explain how it all worked. After all, if it’s politically expedient and they were black, send them back.

Their stories of our shame feature here. Olusoga stands outside Lunar House a place where those deprived citizenship, no longer allowed to work, not allowed to access our NHS when ill, not allowed to claim government benefits. Incarcerated – indefinitely. Think about that for a minute. Lunar House with 500 000 on its closed books. Gulags of anxiety.

But there is another landmark that Olusoga should have visited. Grenfell Tower. The blackened remains in Kensington, one of the richest boroughs in London, tells us everything we need to know about the un-United Kingdom.

 

The Funeral Murders, produced and directed by Vanessa Engle.

 

the funeral murders..jpg

BBC 2, BBC iPlayer http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09wfrk0

Hatred has no country. Ironically, I watched this programme on BBC Catch-up on Easter Sunday in memory of  the resurrection.

I read in The Observer about Israeli snipers on Good Friday shooting Palestinian demonstrators, or terrorists, depending on how those shot are defined. Around 16 dead. Hospitals in Gaza report 284 injured people, the majority with bullet wounds. 70 wounded, children under 18, and 11 women. As well as those killed, more than 1400 were wounded by rubber bullets, the type developed for the conflict in Northern Ireland. We are experts at exporting murder.

Vanessa Engle’s documentary uses archive footage and unheard voices to do something rather brave. And let me say something that needs to be examined with the dark prospect of hard borders once again appearing in Northern Ireland with Brexit.

The facts are quite simple. The SAS killed three unarmed members of the IRA in Gibraltar – Sean Savage, Daniel McCann and Maired Farrell.

Thirty-two pounds of explosives were later found in a car parked on the Spanish side of the border.

Two Anderstone funerals, 72 hours apart in March 1988 in Northern Ireland.

Michael Stone launched an attack in the cemetery, where the so called Gibraltar Three were to be buried, using guns and grenades which killed three people, including IRA member Kevin Brady, and injured 60 others.

He complained that his gun jammed or he’d have killed more and immediately became a Nationalist hero. Loyalist, David Stitt, for example, remembers jumping around his living room cheering when Stone’s attack came on the news. He remembers, most folk around him were the same.

Included here are accounts by ex-army, and members of the security forces, George Higgins. He remembered members of the RUC also cheering Stone’s account and sympathising with him that his gun had jammed and he didn’t kill and injure more Catholics.

Higgins laughs off government accounts that his two army colleagues who were stripped naked, beaten and finally executed by the IRA had somehow got lost on Belfast’s M1 and somehow got caught up in an IRA funeral cortege. That would be the equivalent of a soldier leaving his weapon down as he went for a pee, or as Higgins put it, ‘Even the wee man on the moon would have known about the funeral’.

What British army corporals Derek Woods and David Howes were doing there that day is still open to debate. They died in a predicable way.

David Stitt was upfront enough to admit if the LVF or a crowd in the Falls had identified Republicans in their midst they would have done the same.

I’m sure Israeli snipers are similarly being lauded for their straight shooting and no-nonsense approach.

The miracle here is the Peace Process did take place in Northern Ireland. Our great shame is we are unravelling it thread by thread. It follows a familiar trajectory of denial. A downplaying of what went before. Calls for a reinterpretation of the facts. Then a reimaging of them based on LA-LA land, or lies. There’s no greater force than a radicalised state. Evil has a purity of intent and purpose.

Here is a programme that says it must be fought. But nobody is listening. From eugenics to our latest tribal conflict we revert to base, atavistic, humanity without humanity. Compassion regarded as a weakness to be exploited. It’s easier raising the dead than getting those that know best that they are wrong. Try trumping that.