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Readers respond to articles recently published in The Spectator

6 September 2003

12:00 AM

6 September 2003

12:00 AM

Comment on Render unto the Pope… by Adrian Hilton (30/08/2003)

Hiltons fear is not an irrational one. It is true that Europeans are threatening England’s sovereignty. However the EU is not a front for Rome. The existence of predominately protestant nations in the EU proves that.

Many sovereign nations both inside and outside of Europe are predominantly Catholic. These nations maintain their sovereignty and individuality. There are catholic MP’s in England. To prevent the possibility that these MP’s may in fact be papist spies plotting against Queens Bess and the realm, Hilton should be appointed a modern day Francis Walsingham to weed them out.

The English have proven themselves capable of separating faith and politics. Even if tomorrow the majority of Englishmen gave their spiritual allegiance to Rome, the thickly woven fabric of English law and politics would not unravel.

Hilton talks like every Catholic is an intellectual and theological automation, incapable of independent thought. G.K. Chesterton and Martin Luther were catholic. Was G.K. less English for being Catholic, or Luther’s mind less independent?

In any case, the Church of England is little more than Catholicism for the English, including the trappings of Roman imperialism. English imperialism was not just cheered on from the sidelines by Canterbury; it took the form of missionary C of E priests. The English empire was not just one of trade, it was an Empire of the English church.

HILTON’s problem appears to be not so much with religious figures using their moral authority to comment on political issues, but the fact that people listen to authorities other than his. It’s not as if English Church authorities refrain from shaping the politics and thought of their congregations. The words of Canterbury have the same moral authority to Anglicans as does Rome’s to Catholics, or as does the religious authorities of any organised religion to their followers. Does Hilton want all organised religions including the C of E banned or just sidelined?

I love reading conspiracy theories. The more outlandish the chain of logic is, the more entertaining. Please continue to print articles like this. However, I suggest you put them where they belong, in the humour section.
Matt Moloney

Mr. Hilton is kidding himself if he thinks that all the Roman Catholic politicians in the EU will march in lockstep with whatever directives emerge from the Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger or their local bishop. Just look at Roman Catholic politicians [mostly Democrats] here in the US who have developed a politically effective policy of “personally opposed but…” or “so-and-so really liberal priest says it’s Ok so…” to justify support of virtually unlimited abortion license and all sorts of other things which violate Roman Catholic beliefs about morality and social justice. It’s not just the Democrats however. Most Roman Catholic Republican politicians support the death penalty and the war in Iraq in the face of great disapproval from the US Catholic Bishops’ Conference. In doing so, each side consolidates their political power and have no desire to share any of it with their religion which is anathema in American politics. Not much has really changed since John Kennedy’s election in that respect. It is hardly likely that scores of EU politicians will want or even consider sharing any of their newfound and often very expansive political power with the Pope. For one thing, this Pope and all the others in recent years have not been willing like their Renaissance forbears to play by the existing political rules. Just watch, it won’t be long before “personally opposed but…” comes tripping out of politicians mouths in French and German and Dutch and Italian and so on.
Theresa E. Tucker
Fall River Mills, CA, USA

An excellent article by Adrian Hilton, he is right of course and the Pope (or others on his behalf) has tried very hard to have the Catholic religion right at the heart of the proposed EU Constitution. For many reasons, the UK should not have anything to do with the EU Constitution, for their one clause alone in that proposed constitution re discrimination re Nationality and Religion would cause chaos. Our Act of Settlement was brought about for a very good reason; the Queen is also Head of the Established Church of the UK and must remain so. The Nationality exclusions in our services, police, and Parliament etc are also there for a very good reason and included in the Act of Settlement. The Act of Settlement, Magna Carta and Bill of Rights, Act of Union etc is part of our Country’s Common Law Constitution, which would automatically be overruled by adopting the EU constitution. To destroy our Constitution is an act of treason (R v Thistlewood 1820). Whilst this present!

Government has developed a tendency to forget, or ignore our constitution, the people will not, especially as many do not want deeper, further integration into the EU, or to lose their sovereign sterling currency either. In case our MP’s have forgotten, THEIR job is to govern this country, NOT to give it away for others to Govern (especially to those that we have not voted for). If our MP’s do not want the responsibility of Governing, they should resign now. There have been enough wars over religion; we do not want another one, one from which there may be no recovery. This Country must never accept the proposed European Constitution, the time has come for the parting of the ways not just for one reason but for many and certainly and not lastly, also for the love of God.
Anne Palmer

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am a Roman Catholic and would welcome the restoration of the House of Austria to the lordship of a new Holy Roman Empire broadened throughout the world–that is where my reactionary, idiosyncratic tastes would be satiated. Adrian Hilton, however, cannot be living in the real world? Or in the real Catholic world, even? Certainly a close study of the corpus of writings–philosophical and pontifical–of John Paul II will have disabused any serious person of the notion that his Holiness secretly views himself as the divinely anointed ‘supreme ruler of the world’. I can only suppose that some people are too much absorbed in their studies of the mediaeval world to be very well informed about the contemporary one.
Marc Puckett

If you must employ journalists who are actively using crack cocaine, I would suggest employing subeditors with the wit to give the resulting articles some tenuous link to the world today.
Aidan Kehoe

Does Adrian Hilton’s article represent an attempt at humour, satire or is he just plain “Barking Mad?”

“Commies lurking under beds”, was very popular during the Cold War but Popes doing the same in the age of the EU, hardly credible. Tell him to take a pill or better still, why not get adopted as a candidate for Paisley’s version of the Ulster Unionist Party – “No Popery here…” But he should remember that Ireland is the graveyard of English politicians.

As someone of Anglo/Irish extraction and a Catholic to boot, I oppose the EU and the direction it is going in simply because it is unworkable and will inevitably lead to the one event it was designed to avoid, another European War.

It is right to oppose something that is totally undemocratic, based upon a Socialist agenda of Big Government and maximum interference in the lives of ordinary citizens because it does not chime well with the history and inclinations of the peoples of these islands. Besides which, historically, our role has been to act as a counter balance to European events whilst also having a global outlook rather than a purely regional one.


There are many sound reasons to encourage a reasoned debate on just why we should renegotiate our arrangements with the EU and do so in an appropriate manner that sidesteps the name c
alling of “Little Englander” and so forth but playing the Pope card… Well it beggars all belief.

I hope the Tory Party doesn’t field him as a candidate in my constituency because if they do, not only will it be the first time I’ve voted for any other party, I will join any other party to campaign against such a bigot.
John Haynes

Comment on Leave it to America by Mark Steyn (30/08/2003)

Shortly after reading Mark Steyn’s customary tosh about the United States being the best possible hope for Iraq and his belief that the United Nations should be kept out, I came across the news of yet another bombing killing some 20 Muslims followed by the death of another American serviceman. The more one contemplates Iraq, its Sunni versus Shiite fanatics, its Kurds with their warring factions and the flood of criminality that is engulfing this benighted land, the more one realises, though not condoning it, why somebody like Saddam ran the place the way he did. Mark Steyn is fooling himself in thinking the United States has a long-term plan. Americans have always gone for the quick fix of wham-bam-thank-you-ma‘am and when they find they have painted themselves into a corner they pack it in and go home. Their lack of stamina is matched by their naiveté. To believe you can sell freedom and democracy to devout Islamicists is like believing you can convert the Reverend Ian Paisley to Roman Catholicism.
Peter Muccini

Yes, Mr. Steyn, the benefits just keep on flowing in! I’m sure that the ayatollah al-Hakim and his fellow worshippers are overwhelmed by the benefits of the current state of affairs. Of course, local control, rather than an unending commitment of American soldiers, would be excellent. Instead of “leave it to the Americans,” we should be saying, “Leave it to the Iraqis.”

As the latest bombing in Najaf further demonstrates, the U.S. cannot effectively provide sufficient security in Iraq, and meanwhile the ongoing loss of soldiers in a rather aimless cause is becoming impossible to justify. We can continue to flail along in this manner for years, or we can admit now that an American-led occupation (which will eventually end, resulting in the same upheaval as it will if it ends soon) cannot achieve the goals Mr. Bush has set for it.

“Either way, that question is never going to be settled in four months. And nobody ever said it was.” Not so. Mr. Steyn may never have said so, but Messrs. Wolfowitz and Perle, among many others like them, predicted a short, happy post-war stopover, a quick handoff to local control and a speedy exit from Iraq. As with most things about Iraq, they were horribly wrong. But, as far as the U.S. was going to be concerned, according to the hawks before the war, taking out Hussein was a brief diversion with manifold positive results and minimal cost. Now we hear Ms. Rice talking about “generational” commitments. Americans won’t tolerate a “generational” commitment (or any other kind) anywhere where our security isn’t obviously at stake, and it is plainly not at stake in Iraq (not that it ever was).
Daniel Larison

I generally agree with most things Mark Steyn says, however, I’m hoping that his comment about the New Zealand military being unable to contribute anything useful is restricted to being based upon the US already having sufficient forces present in Iraq. Our SAS performed with distinction in Afghanistan and is recognised as being among the most effective of special forces in the world. Despite the leftism of our current government, we were thanked by the US for our contribution to the Afghan war.
Tim Sarah

Mark Steyn paints a rosy future for ‘a region with no culture of liberty’ and I was momentarily swept along by his bold vision of a world bombed into accepting democracy, liberty and human rights. If more of the unfree world could read Mr Steyn’s articles, they would be crying out to be invaded.

But Mr Steyn ignores the fact that Iraq has little chance of a future of liberty, when security and the most fundamental services cannot even be guaranteed by the occupying armies. Instead the majority of the world’s population (why are they so anti-war?) can only look on in stunned awe at the incompetence of the US/UK occupation, the collapsing credibility of Mr Blair whose squirming lies fool noone and the rapacity of Bush’s cronies and their plans to privatise Iraq for their own gain.

Does Mr Steyn seriously believe the mendacious propaganda he writes?
Huw Peach

Comment on Don’t vote for us by Geoffrey Howe (30/08/2003)

Lord Howe’s article is interesting and I might add, hopeful if it means that the folly of this Government in pursuit of “Radical Reform” of the Lords has come to an end.

Given the English Civil War of the Seventeenth century and the establishment of the Supremacy of Parliament – the Commons, where all executive powers reside, what on earth did they think they were about? To have a directly elected second chamber would require that it had real powers, where would those powers come from? Would the Commons and the elected Government of the day be prepared to surrender some power to such a body? If so, where would this lead, a situation parallel to the US with two elected Chambers and a directly elected President?

The problem with the current Parliament and probably true over 20 years or more, is a lack of intellect, let alone an awareness of the history that has combined to evolve our institutions. Of course things should change over time but change with an eye to function rather than the whims of a government that for fashion’s sake alone, wishes to wear a cloth cap from time to time to prove its’ working class credentials.

Even with regard to the Hereditary Peers, getting rid of them was a bodged job that could have been handled far better by just imposing an “attendance rule” predicated on active participation. To keep the right to your seat, you must attend a minimum number of sessions, participate in the debates and, vote, fail to comply and the right is lost which is something that could be applied to any member and should be, regardless of how appointed.

Robin Cook can prattle on as he may but the reality is that we don’t need another elected body, just as we don’t need English Parliaments, it won’t encourage the electorate to vote and will just be a waste of money. The key benefit of the Lords is that it is the “Village Elders” and the people who attend do so because of a desire to continue (in most cases), a life of public service to the Nation. As pointed out, they do so with more regard to the practicalities and take a far broader view than anyone dare in the Commons for fear of their party political prospects. The House of Lords and the vast majority of its’ members of whatever political party, are to be treasured, they bring far more common sense to public debate than the Commons ever manages. Concentrating the cut and thrust of party politics to the floor of the Commons, makes most sense, let the children play!
John Haynes

Comment on The perils of Pauline Hanson by Anthony Daniels (30/08/2003)

Anthony Daniels generalises a bit too much about Pauline Hanson in Australia. The whole issue is more complicated than he makes out.

The main point about the rise and fall of Pauline Hanson is that it was media driven. If the media had not taken her up, followed her round and made sure her photograph was in every issue of their newspapers she would have faded away in a few months.

On Asian immigration she appears to feel the same as many Australians – it has been great for us so far, but perhaps the time has come when we should sit back and take a look at our population structure and think of the future of Australia.

In regard to the aboriginal population she appears to agree with the majority again -everyone wants to help
aborigines, but in recent years they have been inundated with money and services of all kinds, and yet they still have an incredibly low standard of living. Something is badly wrong somewhere, and it is time the problems were rectified. She is reported as having been taken to an aboriginal settlement some years ago to see what a poor state the children’s health had reached –ear, eye and skin infections very obvious. Her question was “Why don’t they stop them sleeping with their dogs?” This was interpreted as a racist comment, as aborigines should be able to sleep with their dogs if they want to, and the rest of Australia should be glad to pay for the medical treatment which results.

She is not stupid, uneducated certainly, but Australia is a democracy, and just about anyone can stand for Parliament. However she had the problem of having advisers who were not competent, and she was unable to recognise this. An Australian reporter once wrote that people admired Hanson because she is brave. She never flinched from demonstrators and abusers even when it seemed they were almost on top of her, and the police were obviously worried.

The party she led would never have got very far, as they had no economic policies. But she may be remembered in the future as the first person to lead the fight back against political correctness in Australia.
Gillian Lord
Sandy Bay, Tasmania
Australia

Anthony Daniels article on Pauline Hanson in which he surmises that her popularity is a result of “giving voice to blue-collar Australians who resented the immense social changes that had been brought about without their consent” seems to me to miss the mark.

Pauline Hanson may be inarticulate and by her own admission uneducated, but however crudely she expressed her opinions she succeeded in giving an agenda to concerns a broad range of Australians had over the social and economic costs inherent in the Australian Federal Government’s immigration and welfare programs.

Despite the racist tag for her taking to issue the consensus of mass immigration, generous welfare for indigenous peoples and the cult of multiculturalism she has by her actions enabled debate to occur on issues previously made taboo by the liberal left.

Even if Mr Daniels is right and Ms Hanson is more Le-pen than Buchanan, she has succeeded by her own convictions in allowing issues once considered taboo to be raised.
Robert Wearne
Wollstonecraft Sydney NSW
Australia

Comment on Soldiering is for others by Taki (30/08/2003)

I wish more Americans (I am one) could be exposed to articles such as this and open their eyes to all the lies the BushCo. government has been feeding them. Sorry to say though, from obvious first hand experience, that the majority of my fellow countrymen are just too stupid and/or lazy.
Steve

I agree with Taki, to a certain degree.

I am an ex Green Beret A Team Leader (Captain) and Vietnam Veteran.


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