Saturday, April 26, 2008

[national identity] time the namby-pambyness stopped

This is not a post about power plugs but power plugs do help us understand national mentalities.

Above is the British standard and the plug itself is a work of art. Huge, square and chunky, with beefy pins set perpendicularly to the long, overkill-design earth pin, the designers would say, "Well, it's electricity, init, mate? Can't muck about with electricity, can we?"

Note the two tone, partly protected live pins as well.

The British mentality is to fret over the least thing, to over-legislate to circumvent the direst imaginngs and to take pleasures tepidly, for fear of exciting the senses. Take something like a political demonstration, for example. The least sign of precipitation, the chance of leaves on the line or heaven forbid, even the wrong leaves and that's it, matey. No demo.

Lord Somber has kindly despatched a copy of a Pajamas article on this matter:

The news this week that authorities in the English city of Bradford had apparently banned a St. George’s Day parade by schoolchildren because it might offend local Muslims appeared at first sight to be yet another example of timid British officialdom caving in to the demands of extremists.

The parade story was reported by several UK newspapers, and picked up by the blogosphere. The response was predictable ... but because Pajamas asked me to write about the story I spent some time reading the various reports in detail, and particularly reports from Bradford’s local media. And a rather different picture of events emerged.

Organizers had been planning the event with a local police team for some months, but last week the city council, citing police advice from higher up, said the event could not go ahead as planned because of “health and safety” concerns. In true Hillary Clinton fashion, they added that the decision had been taken “in the interests of the children.”

What appears far more likely — and what the parade organizers are saying — is that senior police officers failed to communicate with their colleagues who were involved in planning the event, and when they learned of the proposed route they became concerned that troublemakers, whether Muslim extremists or members of far-right groups, might have taken advantage of the parade to stir up trouble.

But if the police really feared violence they should have supervised the parade in sufficient strength to ensure that they were able to deal with it. Instead they gave in — not to extremism, and not even to the threat of extremism, but to the mere notion of extremism

The irony, of course, is that one of the aims of the event was to bring young people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds together, with the aim of eradicating the distrust that leads to the kind of trouble the police apparently feared.

There’s a legitimate debate going on in Britain about the failure of Muslims and other immigrants to assimilate, but it’s not helped by the authorities, or the media, looking for problems where they don’t exist.

At the end of a report on Wednesday’s St. George’s Day celebrations, the BBC News website invited the public to send in photos and video of events — street parties, fancy dress parades, and the like — with the following disclaimer: “Do not endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws.”

The more gung-ho Americans would raise an eyebrow at this at the very least - at least those of a certain mentality would. However I think the same mollycoddling pc-ishness is at large over there. If you see a potential problem float past on the wind, rush out and nail it down in a plethora of legislation.

You have to wonder about the short-sightedness. Whether or not Muslims have any intention of "assimilating", to include Muslim youth in the 2000 schoolkids marching on St. George's day would have been a filip at the least, for this goal.

But to cancel the march - well that also cancels any possibility of progress, let alone robbing the marchers of the moral high ground where any attack would have been roundly condemned by all communities.

I noticed one of the commenters speak of multi-culturalism but I beg to differ. Take Australia, for example which, despite its claims, is not truly multi-cultural - it is a broadened culture which is still recognizably Australian. Despite British supposed inability to find cultural identity these days, this is surely rubbish. Of course there is a recognizably British tradition and English tradition which transcends the current nationality issue.

It's what parents in the colonies sent their kids to boarding schools to experience and what millions of visitors each year also come to experience. It includes St. George, tea, fish 'n chips and Trafalgar Square, Oxford and Cambridge, to name some things and requires no apology from any Brit of whatever hue.


GrEaT sAtAn'S gIrLfRiEnD said...

Hi Semaj- Great work. Really re brands mulit culturalism. Reckon voters will respond next election and vote out the namby pamby fans?

Quiet_Man said...

I like you am getting very tired of people being offended or fearful in my name.
The time for action is if a problem occurred, not using prevention as an excuse to ban. All this does is drive the ordinary people into the hands of the BNP, oh not all of them I'm sure, but some no doubt.

jams o donnell said...

I do find the tread on eggshells interpretation of health and safety regulations annoying. It's not the HSE at fault mainly but a hideous overapplication where risk are trivial. All too often the rules will be louted where they are most needed.

As for electricity, I was brought up to respect its dangers (my dad having been a maintenance electrician at the Ford plant in Dagenham). At least I can rewire light fittings etc safely!

Nunyaa said...

If some type of attack did occur, and there was not enough police to protect....if there was an overkill of police presence and nothing lot can't have it both ways.
How long since you lived in Australia James and for how long?

Semaj Mahgih said...

You caught me, Nunyaa. Up to 1987, for twelve years or so before that but another stint in childhood.

GSG, Quiet Man, Jams - good to see it struck a chord.

CherryPie said...

You have summed that up quite nicely!

Lord Nazh said...

Court: no they won't, the voters are the ones that WANT this bullshit

quiet: After the problem, action is in cleanup or useless; preventive saves more money/lives/time/etc than corrective ever will

jams: electricity is still a big mystery to most people (I work with it daily); so there will be people who just don't have a clue :)

nunyaa: you don't protect after an attack, you can only protect before.

Semaj: good post, PC is directed by liberalness of all stripes. It is choking the life out of parts of this country as well as Europe


It's all a bit much. say thye should simply have worn alice bands wiht the two St George's flag on. Who could attack anyone in that?

BobG said...

"The more gung-ho Americans would raise an eyebrow at this at the very least - at least those of a certain mentality would. However I think the same mollycoddling pc-ishness is at large over there."

Very true, depending on the area. The US is made up of several sub-cultures, depending on area, that is why we are sometimes puzzled by the descriptions of Americans by citizens of other countries who have only visited one area of the US. To us in the western US, for instance, the east coast and California almost seem like foreign countries to us; they seem to be more concerned with political correctness and trying to legislate their problems, rather than solving them. Our history in the western US was one of people on their own with no real help from the government, and have gotten used to being individuals and solving problems locally whenever possible.
Just my opinion.

jmb said...

There does seem to be a strange attitude in Britain regards these things but I guess the terrible incidents of the past years have left this terrible guilt and questions about could we have prevented this or that and these restrictions are being taken to the extreme at the moment.

That is a very sturdy looking plug. But it is 220 volts as opposed to 110 so half the plugs on electrical smallgoods are not even grounded.
All very disconcerting to me when I first arrived.

Semaj Mahgih said...

Ha ha - Nazh has done my answering already [cheque's in the mail].

Commenters - thanks and each threw more light on this. Different parts of the same country can be different too, as Bob said.