Aug. 18th, 2010 01:20 am
jayeless: ANGRYFACE (smilers)

NY Times: Book Review - Churchill's Empire

If you read my review of the Doctor Who episode Victory of the Daleks, THIS SHIT IS EXACTLY WHY THAT EPISODE PISSED ME OFF SO MUCH. Churchill does not deserve his reputation for heroism and bravery at all. Man is a fucker. Just read the article and read ALL THE HORRIFIC THINGS CHURCHILL SAID that I did not know he said; not knowing all that much about twentieth-century Britain, I was basing my opinion purely on the fact that Britain retained an empire during WW2, Churchill lead Britain during WW2, therefore Churchill is an imperialist dick. I am very articulate explaining why I hate people, I know. But as the article says itself it's not even that Churchill was reflecting values indoctrinated into him:

...even at the time, Churchill was seen as standing at the most brutal and brutish end of the British imperialist spectrum.

The article talks about how he gleefully destroyed villages in then-India, was irritated that the vast concentration camps in South Africa WERE NOT GOING FAR ENOUGH (seriously we learned about these concentration camps in history last semester and they are horrific), boasted about ~personally~ shooting three Sudanese "savages" (i.e. human beings), wanted to use poison gas on Kurds in Iraq... I mean fuck it man, when was the last time Saddam Hussein was celebrated in British TV as a hero? HMMMM.

I'm not sure about the bullshit in the article at the end, trying to salvage Churchill's image by going "he DID believe in ~freedom and democracy~ and it DOESN'T MATTER that he only thought white people deserved any because people never take things that way lol". It's like, no. STFU.

And besides, how fucking much did Churchill believe in the welfare of people as a conservative politician? How fucking much did he care when he personally shot people dead and believed he was entitled to do it? Who cares that he could string together a few pretty words about "freedom" and "democracy"? Honestly, if you do not believe that human beings are AUTOMATICALLY entitled to necessities for life like FOOD, WATER, HEALTHCARE, SHELTER, AND SO ON then you can wax lyrical about "freedom" and "democracy" all you like but it's all meaningless words.

And now I relate the above to Doctor Who )

jayeless: ANGRYFACE (smilers)

This post is a crosspost from Jayeless, and can be read in its original location here.

I have realised that I really hate use of the word “we” in reference to participation in historical events which we clearly did not take part in. If you don’t know what I’m talking about when I say this, I mean uses of the word “we” like this (in a tweet I saw earlier today):

History? Wassat? 40% ages 18-29 don’t know who we fought in American Revolution. #fail

Perhaps sadly, my gut reaction to this was, “Ha! Stupid people.” But then I thought about it a bit more, and I realised that I really didn’t like the ideological message subtly embedded in this tweet. “What ideological message?” you may ask. Well, very simply, this phrase: who we fought in the American Revolution.

Well maybe 18-29 year olds don’t know who “we” fought, because they, as part of this “we”, were not there because the American Revolution did not happen within the last 18 to 29 years. Given the high immigration the US has experienced, I think that the vast majority of Americans are not even descended from people who fought in the American Revolution, almost two and a half centuries ago. If you asked someone, “Who did we fight in that revolution two and a half centuries ago?” they might respond — if they were smart — that they hadn’t fought anyone because they couldn’t have participated in a revolution two and a half centuries ago (unless they are even older than that 157-year-old woman in Indonesia).

Read the rest of this entry » )
jayeless: ANGRYFACE (smilers)

This post is a crosspost from Jayeless, and can be read in its original location here.

I read today in the BBC’s article Cameron wants nation to appreciate armed forces that the UK’s new prime minister thinks Britons should take pride in everything their armed soldiers do. Actually he goes even further than that, and says he wants the military to be front and centre of our national life.

Why not, man? Who wouldn’t want to be proud of a military that is responsible for (plus, I am sure, approximately one billion other things):

  • the brutal beating to death of an Iraqi man, who at the time of death had ninety-three separate injuries [1]
  • the “routine” use of banned “interrogation techniques” [2]
  • secret squads holding prisoners in stress positions, hooding them, and telling them their mothers and sisters will be raped [3]
  • executing prisoners, forcing other prisoners to listen to their deaths, and mutilating Iraqi corpses [4]
  • handing over many, many prisoners to be tortured by Afghan agencies [5]
  • …and Iraqi agencies [6]
  • trashing the homes of Iraqis whose houses they raid [7]
  • participating in the occupations of foreign countries, with all the immorality and abuses that entails (I don’t think you need a source for this one; it’s pretty obvious that the UK’s armed forces occupy foreign countries)

Furthermore, the British military has historically been in all sorts of objectionable endeavours — maintaining and expanding the British Empire, for a start. The British military invented concentration camps, imprisoning 100,000 Boer women and children in them (of which 28,000 died) and meting out even worse treatment to Africans. In the time I spent trying to look for articles about British abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan, I also found articles about abuses longer ago in Kenya and India, and we all know how amazingly well the British treated the Irish (i.e. not).

If Cameron’s going to say the military needs to be at the “front and centre of national life”, just like during the First and Second World Wars (quoth him: In the First World War those at home didn’t just sing ‘keep the home fires burning’, they practised it. In the Second World War, the military occupied a huge place in the national consciousness, partly because everyone knew someone in uniform.) — I assume he supports all of this!

Having the military as the symbol of the nation is screwed up. Let’s celebrate violence and obedience to authority as the most cherished values of our nation, right? Let’s celebrate people whose patriotism goes so far that they torture other people, or kill other people, and let’s celebrate the institutions that, far from condemning this behaviour, do their best to cover this up. And let’s also celebrate an institution that is, lest we forget, completely useless when there’s no war going on, encouraging a situation of permanent war.

Yes Cameron, your prime ministership is certainly off on an excellently humanist note. Now let’s make it even more humanist by celebrating death and torture. Yay!

jayeless: photo of me at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain (Default)

This entry is a crosspost from my "main" blog. Since I am forgetful, this entry was actually posted three days ago, at Jayeless » The Forgotten Australians.

Yesterday I was paying attention to @sbsnews' coverage on Twitter of Rudd's latest apology. The apology given to the Stolen Generations in early 2008 caused some consternation here, not least because people didn't think it was the Australia of today's place to apologise for the wrongdoings of our history. I haven't seen so much consternation over this one, but then again, I hadn't seen so much discussion of this one at all until today. People care more about political issues like the latest asylum seeker "crisis", our dodgy proposed ETS or upcoming climate change negotiations in Copenhagen.

However, yesterday Kevin Rudd apologised to thousands of people, the "Forgotten Australians", who were abused in state or church care between 1930 and 1970. Read more... )

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