Xenophobic Tory MP Nadine Dorries blames immigrants for recent UK floods

Nadine DorriesConservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire Nadine Dorries lived up to her reputation as an entrenched xenophobe when she appeared on BBC 1’s Question Time last night.

In the context of answering a question about whether racist rhetoric will stop now that the wave of Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants has failed to materialise, Dorries thought it appropriate to imply that immigration is responsible for British citizens being flooded out of their homes over Christmas and in recent weeks.

After raving about David Cameron’s lack of power when it comes to setting immigration targets and accusing the European Union for its open door policy: “We have no idea how many people are going to come, but we do know how many millions of people have the right to come if they want to” says Dorries, clearly a woman who lives in constant fear that her back yard will be flooded with immigrants any moment now. Perhaps that is why Dorries next swerves incomprehensibly into the issue of flooding: “Now most, a large part of Britain this week has seen – well over the last few weeks and over Christmas – has seen flooding. One of the problems with flooding is we’re building on our flood planes, and so we have less and less area of the country were water can drain,” and then uses this to appeal for people to vote Conservative in the next elections in order to pull Britain out of the EU and stop immigration.

She made me feel so proud of being British. Not.

As fellow panellist, Daily Mirror ‘Fleet Street Fox’ blogger Susie Boniface said “The question about whether the racist rhetoric will end is plainly NO.” Like Boniface, “Frankly, I find the way we have discussed the migration issue utterly appalling, completely disgusting, obnoxious, offensive and very un-British.”

From what I have seen so far on British TV – including, disappointingly, the BBC, from what I have read in the papers and online, I have come to the conclusion that instead of taking the lead on promoting British values such as fairness, tolerance and open-mindedness, the Conservative party is caught up in a race with the UKIP for “Xenophobe of the Decade Award” with the likes of Nadine Dorries MP at the forefront.

Shades of Grey

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Nina Kaytel

“I always felt omitting race would be more inclusive to the every reader. It is the one detail they can fill in themselves. Does that mean I have ‘white by default’ syndrome? By not including race in my stories am I helping to spread racism?” White by Default


Race is a slippery concept, a phenomenon rooted in political struggle, yet commonly believed to be a fixed characteristic of human beings. We come across it in everyday life. To the majority of us it may appear as omnipresent and real, but the idea of race is riddled with obvious contradictions. A biological fiction, nonetheless, race is regarded as a social fact.

Race is not something one is born with. It is something one learns. You may disagree. I’m aware that my views on matters of race, gender and difference are not necessarily part of the mainstream, so let me explain.

There are differences of ethnicity and skin colour, this I do not deny. However, the way we think those differences is not “natural” but rather socially conditioned. In addressing any concept, I always start with a definition, yet when it comes to race no coherent, fixed definition of race actually exists.

I was unaware that there was a perceived difference between the latin and slavic “races” or ethnicities until I was put in my place by those “in the know.” The slavs were the newcomers, the conquerers and therefore viewed themselves as superior; my own ethnicity, underlined by language, religion and culture, came short of the desirable ideal in my country of birth. I was different in the wrong way. 

It was then – at the age of six – that I realised for the first time how negative connotations are attached to skin colour and bone structure, to language and culture, to anything that may be regarded as difference. This difference was used to oppress, to make one feel inferior for being “other”. I refused to accept this. Years later, when I had the chance to research the issue in some depth, the truth of that instinctive rejection of race as “natural” was confirmed.

Race is not biologically real – it is socially and politically constructed through law, public policy and social practices.

How was race first constructed? It emerged in human history as a social structure aimed at instituting systemic hierarchies where Europeans or “whites” were awarded privileges and rights over non-Europeans, “non-whites”. White supremacy went global and structured all societies, social relations and practices to reinforce those social, economic and political privileges.

Here are some snippets of the history of this systemic racial profiling of the world, inscribed by men, not nature: In 1856, Ralph Waldo Emerson delineated the significance of race. In 1899 William Z. Ripley wrote The Races of Europe, where he aimed to fix racial difference through head-type. In 1901, Two years later, Edward A. Ross wrote The Causes of Race Superiority, using the perceived differences between the Arab and the Jewish “races” to make his point. This was only the beginning and much more was written on the matter since – all attempts to create a theory of race that may justify discrimination.

When I say that race is a social construct, I mean to indicate that race is rooted in the social history of humanity, not in its biology. It only has biological significance because we have spent centuries giving it that significance.

No one would claim nowadays that there is any racial difference between Greeks and Romans, Saxons and Franks, because our narrative has moved on to creating a story of “white” and “black”, with many theorists doing their best to clothe an idea with “evidence” so that it may be accepted as fact.

This to me is the context in which Nina asks her question: “I always felt omitting race would be more inclusive to the every reader. Does that mean I have ‘white by default’ syndrome?”

And this is why I feel secure in giving a straightforward answer.

We tell stories about human beings and their lives. If racial discrimination is not a part of those characters lives – something they have to resolve for themselves and for the world which they inhabit, then the idea itself becomes superfluous. When those stories come from a place of honesty about the human condition, then the colour of one’s skin will not change the response of the reader. They will make the story their own.


Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

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BABY ON BOARD | Discrimination

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Quinn

“I fully believe in equal rights, equal pay, equal opportunity and whatnot. However, I am NOT a fan of anyone– male or female – being given “special” consideration “because” they have children. […] This is blatant discrimination – “family” vs. “individual”. And yet, it is. It exists. Life is all about choices. If you chose to have a family, IMHO – then THAT should be YOUR priority (not mine or my employers). If you chose to have a family AND climb the corporate ladder, then you – the individual – must choose your priorities. Corporations have no obligation to make those choices for you or make special concessions for you. […] Using the law firm example you gave, an attorney can put up their own money – hang their shingle – drum up business – grow – hire associates – grow – form partnerships – grow – and on and on. They (the original owner and partners) owe you – a female attorney or paralegal or secretary – nothing. If you don’t want to work the 100 hours a week required to make partnership (for whatever reason) – don’t. Doesn’t really matter if you are a man or a woman. But don’t then sit back and demand some special consideration “because you have children”. […]”***

*** This is an abridged version of the comment. Click HERE for the full version (Quinn on October 21, 2013 at 10:30 pm.),and for the context of this discussion


I absolutely agree, but let me make my agreement contingent on one important thing: a thorough self-reflective and self-aware engagement with the values and norms we want to stand by and cherish, that is: What kind of society do we want to live in?

Some question to ponder:

1. Do we want a society where the individual and only the individual matters? Where did this “individual” come from? Do “individuals” spring up from a void, outside of society and its norms and values OR do they in fact only come into being from within society itself and precisely because of its norms and values?

2. Do we want to live in a society that divests its citizens of their reproductive nature, a society that does not wish to re-create itself and is in fact satisfied to go extinct? What I mean by this is simply this: is the giving birth, bringing up and education of children important to society itself, or is this an absolutely private individual matter that society has absolutely no benefit from or any interest in whatsoever?

3. Do corporations operate in a social void? Are they simply some “individual” exercise or do they in fact benefit from the existence of society, from the system of organisation it offers, from a certain security in laws, norms and values that make it possible for corporations to operate in the first place?

4. Do we want to live in a society, and work for corporations that victimise individuals who whilst contributing to both also take on the burden of creating the next generation? Or may it be perhaps more constructive to acknowledge the value of their work in both areas and reward it appropriately? After all, those that choose to or are unable to participate in the reproduction of society already have a time-energy advantage on their hands to climb the corporate ladder as well as engage in social activities that are no longer attainable for those others who have children. Win/win one would think?

Until the family unit is eliminated and individuals are developed in vitro – see Brave New World by Aldous Huxley for a blueprint – then the two will be forever intertwined in the makeup of society. There is no family vs. individual conflict insofar as I can see it. We are born, we grow up, we live alone, we live together, we learn, we work, we create, we imagine, we strive, we overcome, we succumb, get old and die.

Mutual respect is the basis of equality. I am a democrat. Equality is of great importance in my books. I do wonder however whether we spend sufficient time discussing what the idea actually stands for, because this comment made me realise once again how fluid the concept is, and how little we agree on what it means.

I would like to leave you with this one final comment of my own:

Individuals do not exist in void. They exist in society. Therefore, individuals act upon one another and shape society, just as they are acted upon and shaped by society. There is a tendency within individuals to direct others and to resist direction, a tendency which amplifies both the radical and the contestatory nature of the democratic project, which is a project of autonomy or freedom, understood as the lucid, self-aware and self-reflecting making of one’s own laws.

These laws ought to benefit all – in this case both childless individuals and those who have children.

And a final question:

Why discriminate against either? Why as someone who does not have children must one ever feel like they are somehow done a disservice if their employer happens to value their workers sufficiently to act humanely and with understanding towards those that have a life outside the office that is of equal important to that within?**

**This is the first part of a two part series on this topic. The follow up post is scheduled to be published on Tuesday, the 10th of December 2013 at 7am GMT.


Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

One wo/man can make a difference

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Project O

Question 6: If you could share an opinion on a single international incident or topic that you either feel strongly about or that might not be known to the rest of the world what would it be? You have our attention.



“I also don’t like how in some regions of the world women don’t enjoy the same types of freedoms that women in the United States enjoy. However, I realize that we had to work hard to obtain the equality we enjoy today. Because the societies that do not treat women as I would like to see, have been around for centuries, I don’t feel my involvement or opinion will make any difference in their lives.” April


On the subject of women’s rights. I agree with April that whatever rights we have, are the result of years of struggle, and they were gained through political action by women, whether as part of feminist movements or through individual acts.

The truth of the matter is that we have become complaisant about women’s rights in the West.

Yes, we do have equality under the law. We have the vote. We have the right to work alongside men. In some countries, not all, we have a right to make decisions about our own bodies when it comes to the pro life/ pro choice debate.

However, there are also conservative backlashes against women’s rights and those who are working to curtail and limit them, even return women to former voiceless and right-less state.

The economic uncertainty that the global recession has brought about has affected women more than their male counterparts.

There are voices even at the highest levels advocating a return of women to the homestead.

Women are yet to achieve equal pay for doing work equivalent to men. The discrepancy is mindboggling considering that we are now in the 21st century.

Because there are more women than men in part time employment, and because the recession has hit that sector worse, women’s unemployment has soared.

Feminist advances that were supposed to benefit women have also had the opposite effect in some cases when captured and exploited by neoliberal ideology, as argued in this article for example: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/14/feminism-capitalist-handmaiden-neoliberal

The rights we have, were painstakingly gained for us, and there will be those who will try to demolish them. Not perhaps with a big loud bang, but in time, like water: patiently, slowly hollowing out your freedom, one drop at a time.

I said this before, but I think it is worth a repeat. Prepare your mortar, and get ready to patch it back up. It’s a constant back and forth and there is only one way to deal with it: “Constant Vigilance!”

But we cannot do it on our own. We all – women and men – have to stick together and ensure that the advances we have gained will stay here for the future generations. More than that, we need to keep working at transforming theoretical equality into effective gender equality.

Through everyday acts, as well as through broader movements, every small step forward is a plus. So we need not despair and do what we can.

Every downpour starts with one droplet. Be that droplet.

Related Articles:

  1. If you are a democrat, you are a feminist 
  2. Project O – Harsh Reality EXCLUSIVE: Interview with vicbriggs and AopinionatedMan 
  3. Don’t be that dude. Handy tips for the male (whether academic or not)
  4. PROJECT R : A Recipe for Marital Bliss 


Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

Nigella Lawson’s NOT NEWS


Perhaps it’s just me, but nowadays when I put on the TV I find increasingly that the line between what is and what is not news has become so blurred that no end of trivia finds itself on the news. Do I really need to know about the latest slanket craze?

Take yesterday for example. Flashing on every screen were images of Nigella Lawson with the caption: “Nigella Lawson admits taking cocaine.”

NOT NEWS I wanted to shout out in exasperation. That is a private matter. Or a matter for the police. Whatever the case, it is not something that I or anyone else in Britain or the world needs to know.

If anything in Nigella Lawson’s experience is in the public’s interest to know then it’s certainly not her cocaine use. Instead, why couldn’t the press focus on the domestic abuse she has been submitted to instead. Why is that only a footnote?

After all, that is the cause behind her recourse to drugs or at least so she claimed  yesterday when she told a jury that “acts of intimate terrorism” by her “brutal” ex-husband, Charles Saatchi, drove her to cocaine and cannabis use.

Nigella Lawson Choked by Charles SaatchiThis is the image of Charles Saatchi throttling Nigella Lawson outside Scott’s restaurant in Mayfair in June. He accepted a police caution for assault, but afterwards “menaced” her with threats of drug allegations and went through with the threat by publishing those allegations on an internet site.

The Isleworth Crown Court in west London had its share of the action on that front when Miss Lawson declared that Mr Saatchi was trying to “destroy” her by making public her drug use after his “menaces” failed to force her to return to him.

Her allegations appear justified by the fact that she was asked to be a witness for the prosecution on a fraud trial and instead finds herself under the limelight for events that have absolutely nothing to do with that trial.

This is what she said herself when asked to explain why she was reluctant to give evidence for the prosecution in this case: “I felt that this would not become a fraud case, I would be put on   trial and actually that’s what has happened. I have been put on trial here,   where I am bound to answer the allegations and it comes after a long summer   of bullying and abuse and I find it just like another chapter in that.”

It looks like she was right to fear it since it is her and not the trial that makes the news.

How about this as front page news instead?

Did you know that the NSA gathers 5 billion cell phone records daily? Or that there is a staggering location-tracking program implemented without any public debate, and a substantial number of Americans are having their movements recorded by the government?

Did you know that there are sectarian clashes in the Central African Republic and that the French are gearing up for a major intervention? Or, that after an attack on Yemen’s defence ministry compound in the capital Sana’a on Thursday morning, at least 20 people were killed?

Also, did you hear that Egypt’s new laws curtailing the right to protest have already led to the arrest of top political activists and is a major threat to democratic freedom?

To me at least, this is news. Nigella’s dalliances with drugs, on the other hand…


cumberbatch_gophotograph_egyptPerhaps Nigella could take a leaf from Benedict Cumberbatch’s books on this and come out of court sporting her own handwritten message.

Social Mobility


Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with through the looking glass

“We might imagine the mobility of ‘social mobility’ as simply a matter of moving about. But we all know politicians who use this phrase are talking about moving up. Moreover, they mean moving ‘up’ some concept of a class ladder or economic pyramid or their metaphorical ilk.” The words ‘social mobility’

I am grateful to Alice for bringing the topic of social mobility to my attention. It is a very pertinent one in view of the increasing gap between rich and poor in the UK, an inequality greater today than it was in 1997 when New Labour took the reins of power. Disbelief was my first reaction when I first became aware of this fact, but it served to reinforce my view that in many ways Tony Blair was much more of a Thatcherite than a keeper of leftist ideals.

In a speech in Norfolk on Friday, Sir John Major expressed shock at the domination by a private school-educated elite and well-heeled middle class of every sphere of modern public life. The former prime minister blamed Britain’s stunted social mobility on Labour policies, including the abolition of grammar schools.

In many respects, Major’s views support the concerns expressed by my fellow blogger. He does appear to take it for granted that social mobility, “moving ‘up’ some concept of a class ladder or economic pyramid” is inherently good and desirable.

After some consideration I think I’ve come to an understanding as to the source of this divergence. Both the former PM and Alice speak of social mobility, but the context in which they discuss it differs. It is a matter of “is” versus “ought” and this is the crux of the matter. I’ve discussed this difference between politics in the now versus what politics ought to be in “men are always wicked, unless you give them no alternative, but to be good” – and this applies to social arrangements too.

At a theoretical level, I share Alice’s concerns. I agree with her assertion that the idea of social mobility “perpetuates the idea that hierarchies are both natural and something to aspire to.” In a truly democratic – that is egalitarian – society, the existence of such a term and everything it implies would be obsolete. So much for life as it ought to be.

As for life and society as it currently stands, I have to admit that the possibility of fashioning a better life for oneself continues to hold great power. I do trust that even in our hierarchical society, it is not absolutely necessary for social mobility to rely “on the existence of people staying below to be superior to.” 

Back in the USSR there were many a poster proclaiming that good old Soviets were fighting wealth. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it. Why should we fight wealth? Surely it would be better by far if we were all wealthy. The gap between the rich and poor does not require necessarily for a decrease of the wealth of the upper half, it could mean an upward mobility, an increase in the standard of life of the lower half instead. Of course, I do not include in this the obscenely rich top five per cent – a decent human life can hardly need that extent of greedy accumulation of material goods.

Silver linings.


Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

What does Europe mean to you?

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Stefaan De Rynck

“Lack of leadership is how many have characterised the European Union over the past years. Europeans reacted too slowly to the Euro crisis, it is argued, and kicked the can down the road as their divisions prevented them from defining a sound economic policy.” Divided leadership in the biggest world economies?

The German elections are over, and Angela Merkel has secured a historic third term. It will take a while still for German coalition negotiations to be concluded, but what the rest of Europe awaits are the German-French launch of an initiative to save the European project.

The centennial of 1914 approaches, but although Europe is no longer what it was one hundred years ago, the similarities between the Europe of today and that on the interbellic years are too many for comfort. Namely, the rise of the extreme far-right in so many European countries.

This is a worrying development. The UK Independence party and Germany’s anti-euro Allianz für Deutschland are mild embodiments when compared to Greece’s neo-fascist Golden Dawn, Hungary’s Jobbik or France’s Front National. The xenophobic politics of the French Front National cannot be underestimated in this context either, nor can Europe ignore groupings such as the Vlaams Belang in Belgium, Finland’s The Finns party – formally True Finns, the Danish People’s party, and so-called Freedom parties in Austria and Holland.


Europe stands at a crossroads.

To understand what united and divides Europeans, we need to look into what Europe in itself comprises. Considering its frequent use in inter-state politics, ‘Europe’ is a surprisingly ambiguous concept.

Following the establishment of the European Union, ‘Europe’ and the EU are often used interchangeably. To join Europe stands, at least in the British parlance, for joining the EU. Nonetheless, the Europe of the EU is not the sole existing Europe.

The idea originated in Athenian democracy, where it developed from the myth of Europa and at first it designated only Thrace, the Greek mainland, growing ever larger northwards and westwards as travellers ventured both inland and out at sea.

Many more Europes have existed and have come into being since antiquity:

  1. the Europe of geographers – the two extreme western peninsulas of the Asian land mass,
  2. the Europe of Byzantium,
  3. industrial Europe and agrarian Europe,
  4. capitalist” Europe and “socialist” Europe,
  5. the Europe of the Great Powers,
  6. the Europe of Woodrow Wilsonian self-determination,
  7. the Europe of self-styled national states and of disaffected national minorities.

Many of these dichotic Europes continue to coexist, separated by the degree of development and wealth, opposing ideological and economic structures, and hierarchies of power.

The fact that Europe cannot be defined with exactitude as far as geographical, political, cultural and historical boundaries are concerned, makes it difficult to ‘think’ Europe as a single unit, even if diverse in its sub-cultures.

This geographical ambiguity also poses some important questions in terms of cultural geography and territorial symbolism. National identities benefit from the existence of fixed boundaries within which the repetition of cultural values, symbols and myths finds a safe-haven. A Europe sans frontiers has to construct its unifying identity within a fluctuating geographical spectrum. Its boundaries are historical assertions, rather than geographical facts.

Keeping Europe united is a tough ask in view of the socio-political and economic challenges facing the region today. The onslaught of the far right aggravates matters further for a European leadership that, while by no means as weak and confused as the pre-WWI amalgam, is yet to reach a decision on how to address both the financial rut and the European disunity it triggered.


Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

Some are more equal than others


Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with The Poisoned Well

I had promised myself to give the issue of Feminism a rest for a while, and fully intended to keep to that promise, until I came across The Poisoned Well’s latest… I do not even know how best to label it. It beggars belief.

Oh well… Broken Promises all over again.

I have always approached the subject with humour, although the message is a serious one: If you are a democrat, you are a feminist, and I will endeavour to be equally moderate (?) in my reply to what I deem a rather immoderate attack on what the movement stands for.

The first poisoned chalice on offer in this well, is the claim that “From day one Feminism has been elevating women at the expense of men.”*

At the expense of men? Is this a superpower zero sum game? Is it truly so difficult to grasp that to consider women to be of equal worth to men is not to the latter’s detriment? Surely the opposite is true.

We live in democracies where all citizens are deemed to be of equal worth. We got to this point by endeavouring to ensure that such equality is not an equality in name alone, and that reality comes as close to our aspiration for mutual respect, equal rights and equal social standing as it is possible.

The kind of Manichean ontology to which my opponent subscribes – that any advance for women is a step back for men – is frankly as outmoded as it is damaging. It is this kind of attitude that hurts both women and men, and not Feminism, as The Poisoned Well would have you believe.

But wait a little. It gets better. Feminism in The Poisoned Well’s depiction comes close to the likeness of a savage werewolf “Tearing men down to elevate women”* apparently.

Careful, ladies! Make sure to get that muzzle on when the Full Moon’s a-calling. I chain myself up to the bedpost too, just in case. Never know when the blood thirst will strike, and that pulsating manly vein… Argh! The scent is too much to withstand. You know what they say: the best way to avoid temptation, is to give into it.

Just when I thought I’d taken all precautions, the poison dosage was upped. Listen carefully. Did you know that “Men are excluded from most victim services even though men are more often the victim of every single crime including rape”*?

Umm… Dearest, The Poisoned Well, you might want to look into some stats on this. You will find that women are overwhelmingly the victims of rape. I’m not sure what country you live in to have experienced this, but in most civilised places, men are not excluded from most victim services. They are not excluded full stop.

What next? Here’s a juicy one for you: “Harass a man, it’s Tuesday.  Harass a woman, it’s the end of the world.  Inequality and discrimination really have become part of our every day lives.”*

You are right that inequality and discrimination is part of our everyday lives. It has not “become” this, it’s always been the case, but implying that the Feminist movement is somehow responsible for this is beyond inaccurate. You clearly have an axe to grind – in waiting for that Feminist Werewolf lurking under your bed, I imagine – but you may want to take on socio-political, class and economic factors into consideration, rather than bandying all societal evils under the standard of Feminism.

But The Poisoned Well has plenty more in store for your pallet’s delight: “Men are murdered much more often than women, but women suffer from catcalls.  We must ignore mens lives and protect the women’s feelings.”*

Men are murdered by other men mostly, so… this is relevant to a discussion of Feminism… how?

And men’s lives are not ignored. It is not for Feminism as a movement to take on this particular issue. Perhaps you may want to call on Law and Order from the State instead. It is the failure of the state to protect its citizens that results in the type of crime you describe.

You seem to be under the erroneous impression that society should ignore sexual harassment because there are other “more important” things to resolve first. Perhaps you would like for children to continue being molested too until all murderers have been jailed?  Using your logic society ought to say that it’s only assault, after all, and punishing those guilty of causing death takes precedence, right?

How can it be useful or helpful in any way to make such arguments?

For another meaty offering, The Poisoned Well decides that an attack on Religion is in order next. “Women are baby factories and men are disposable meat shields. […]Religion oppresses everyone except for the Plutocrats that own the religion.”*

Now, I find myself – a declared atheist – the defender of religion. Oh the irony!

Whatever system of thought or belief you may subscribe to, reducing religion to the above formula hardly cuts the mustard. It is a parody at best, and it’s hardly the way to encourage equality, or even the most basic form of mutual respect in this context.

Breaking News! “Women make the same as men in the same jobs. The problem of “The wage Gap” isn’t unequal pay for equal work.”* 

Well, aren’t I lucky to have been disabused of this notion about the continued gender inequality when it comes to salaries? Clearly all those other studies undertaken by highly respected economists, all reports on the matter submitted after thorough investigations: researched, documented, and backed up with relevant statistics – all nonsense apparently. Thank you, The Poisoned Well for clearing it all up for us. Eternally grateful, I’m sure.

Now I could go on and tell you about some other of The Poisoned Well’s brilliant insights, such as the fact that Feminism has apparently abolished the heroic male lead in cinematography, and that there is no such thing as men’s professional sports – they are gender neutral – I say! Jolly good – and women simply can’t keep up, so now they’ve come up with their own sports that make tons of money and objectify men in the process.

Aha! You heard me right, ladies. Down, boy. Down! Let me take a look at ya simmering swim-suited bod. That’s all you’re worth to me. It’s all hot-hot bunga-bunga and no emotional involvement. Cry me a river!

Then men get objectified some more and are excluded from reproductive rights. Just as they thought they were safe, hop! they go down a dark alley and get mugged for flashing their wealth around – wealth that of course is no greater than women’s because the pay-gap is a myth obviously – and this is all because of Feminism. The horror! What kind of a world do we live in?

And the Feminist coup de grâce? Men are NOT represented in the White House!!! No. Apparently the politician’s desire to be re-elected puts them well and truly at mummy’s skirt and under women’s Jimmy Choos. Result!

Final Poisoned Well pearl for the grand finale: “There is nothing that turns my stomach more.  Don’t worry I won’t be reading Jesus Feminist any time, ever.  If I want to read a distopian horror I’ll just read 1984 or Animal Farm.”*

I hear you, sister. Don’t think I’ll be turning to dystopias any time soon either. I mean… just read your article. That’s quite enough dystopia for one day, thank you very much.

*All quotes in this article are from The Poisoned Well‘s How Feminism Hurts men.


Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

War! What Is It Good For? Absolutely Nothing.

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Project O.

Are all wars unjust or are some wars legitimate?

On the question of war. There is disagreement as to the legitimacy or lack thereof for the perpetration of violence of states against other states. States self-legitimate their actions through a variety of causes, which are oftentimes little more than thinly veiled excuses.

Here are some of the usual suspects:

1. Ideas: We are doing it for liberty, democracy,

2. Economic security: We can’t afford for oil supplies (or other scarce resources) to be in the hands of unfriendly governments,

3. Ethics or morality: He is an evil dictator who kills his own people,

4. Ideology – usually nationalism: We have a right to this land, it is populated by our people, they need our protection and we can only offer them security by taking over the land they populate.

5. Geopolitics – the zero sum game: We can’t allow the other Big Guy to have unchecked influence in that area for either economic, political or ideological reasons. Or: Land/Sea disputes: Historical ambiguity as to what belongs to whom, coupled with the discovery of precious resources on land or at sea can often result in war.

6. Security: We need to make a pre-emptive strike because the state in question is plotting an attack. Or: They are in our back yard so our security is under threat due to their external policy commitments. Or: Their political/ideological stance is destabilising the region which in turn is a potential threat to our security. Or: They have weapons of mass destruction. Or: They are building weapons of mass destruction. Or: They are planning to build weapons of mass destruction.

7. Politics – related to border security and economic advantage: They have elected or they have a government that is not of the right political persuasion (usually of the left, when the US would prefer a friendly and submissive right wing government or dictator), so we will attack to remove this government and institute one that would play the game by our rules.

8. Religion: God told me to. This is a holy war. (The Bushability effect) Of course, during the Middle Ages most wars were clashes between distinctive systems of belief, all vying for dominance.

9. Retaliation: They stole something of ours (oil / water supplies etc.) so we are attacking to claim back what is rightfully ours.

10. Civil Opposition: The government no longer has legitimacy, the people are against it. We are supporting the will of the people.

I cannot claim this list to be exhaustive so feel free to add to it. It is a start however.

International relations are anarchic. There is no way of policing how states act towards their neighbours or towards far away states that are deemed of interest. Before the Iraq war state sovereignty was respected in so far as states would not be threatened with war unless they ‘misbehaved’ externally. They had free reign on internal matters. The Iraq war changed that. Now no state is safe from external intervention. Syria is another example, and I am afraid there will be many more.


This article has been written in reply to April, for Project O. Please follow the link below if you would like to read her full contribution: http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/09/26/project-o-article-104-april-georgia-usa-scheduled-for-9-26-1800/

This is the Q&A I have focused on for this piece:

Question 6: If you could share an opinion on a single international incident or topic that you either feel strongly about or that might not be known to the rest of the world what would it be? You have our attention.

April @ http://momof3isnuts.wordpress.com/ replied: “Being that I grew up during the Vietnam war, and experienced the debacle of the war in Iraq, I am strongly against war. I don’t have any unique thoughts, it’s just something that I can’t comprehend.”

Dotta Raphels says: “War numbs the human spirit period! Those whose lives have been touched by war will attest to this, war is not a good thing at all; many share your feelings. Still on 6, IMO we influence events in our everyday lives without even realizing it. I can understand anyone carving out a haven to protect their hearts or beings; sometimes it’s the only way we know how to cope with many dire situations which confronts us.”

Please Note: Let’s Talk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers – so it is all about connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If a topic catches your eye and you would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if like me you happen to be a former Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl ;)

The State of Syria

WFP Operations in Homs

When the world stood divided by the Manichean ontology of the two superpowers, the Syrian state, like most Middle Eastern states, could play a divisive game internationally and avoid imploding into civil war. A rear occurrence during the Cold War, such events now shape Western understanding of Middle East politics – Syria joins the legion of other nations in the region, fast becoming a violent arena where other states’ international agendas will compete with the plans of those caught in internal power struggles.

It is difficult to predict to what extent the involvement of other powers in the region can help the issue at hand without a UN resolution ratifying and legitimising action. Even if UN legitimisation itself can be called into question, it is surely better than no legitimisation at all bar state self-interest. Look at such success stories as Iraq and Afghanistan for an example. Oh, wait. That didn’t quite work out, did it?

I also disagree with the justification American citizens are provided with for US involvement. Judging by events so far, America’s security would be better served by inaction. If Obama has a different motive for initiating the attack, then he ought to make that clearer. It is shameful that fear for one’s own safety is once again the excuse.

In order to understand the extent to which the near-collapse of the Syrian state can be blamed on its politicians, an in depth analysis is required of the nature of the state and the state system in Syria. There is a shared assumption in the West that politicians can be either fully blamed for the disintegration of Syria’s civil society, but I think the situation is a complex one, and simplistic interpretations or sweeping generalisations ought to be avoided and challenged.

While Syria’s government did not respond appropriately to the ‘red flags’ that announced collapse, I believe there is little that they could do while working within the system to salvage the state. There are both internal and external, regional factors to consider.

In part, this collapse of the state’s infrastructural power in Syria occurred because of in-built self-destruction mechanisms. Its lack of flexibility and inability to find a political solution for the nascent conflict is one cause. The changing socio-political-scape in the region, and the emergence of a politicised class, with little or no stake in the system and a desire for reform, are two others. Finally, the flux of de-territorialised peoples in the region may have also resulted in challenges to Syria’s relative stability.

To achieve conflict resolution, Syria’s government ought to have fully reformed the system – a schema difficult to achieve, but not impossible for farsighted politicians, had there been any. Instead they prolonged the tension, and in the absence of reform, considering internal and external circumstances, civil war was inevitable.

Politicians’ actions are usually shaped by events to a higher degree than they can shape the events themselves. The rigid balance of power within Syrian society prevented them from both institutionalising a healthier, more participatory system, and from modifying that system when challenged by socio-economic and political change.

I sympathise with the plight of the Syrian people, and do not condone the actions of the Syrian government. Yet I cannot but feel unsettled by the possibility of so many civilian casualties as a result of external military action being added to the internal.