Faced with the spectacle of the cruelties perpetrated in the name of faith, Voltaire famously cried ‘Ecrasez l’infâme!’ Scores of enlightened thinkers have followed him, declaring organised religion to be the enemy of mankind, the force that divides the believer from the infidel and thereby both excites and authorises murder. Richard Dawkins, whose TV series The Root of all Evil? concludes next Monday, is the most influential living example of this tradition.
Douglas Davis says that Ariel Sharon’s wisest decision was his last one — to pull out of the anarchic terrorist hothouse of Gaza As the dominating presence of Ariel Sharon recedes from the public stage, his lasting legacy is likely to be not his military exploits but his final major political act: unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. Israel had tried engagement, and when that did not work it opted for disengagement.
While David Cameron was at a Basildon comprehensive on Monday announcing that the Conservative party no longer believes in selective education, my ten-year-old son was sitting the 11-plus at a private school in Suffolk. There are no grammar schools left in Suffolk, as it happens, nor in Cambridgeshire, nor in Norfolk: my son’s 11-plus papers had been sent up from Kent. But if it comes to moving the family 100 miles so that my son can enjoy the grammar-school education that I did, that is exactly what I will do.