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students, stop waging war on the past | education | race

it really can’t be a shock to people that historical figures do not stand up to today’s standards of goodness or diversity. in fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a contemporary figure who could withstand student activists’ testing of virtuousness, never mind someone from the past, when very often black people and women were not seen as deserving of equal rights.past historical figures whose names we remember, and sometimes attach to buildings and streets, are celebrated for what they achieved. this doesn’t mean they were nice people. most of us are aware of that. charles dickens had a problem with jews: that doesn’t make his work any less important.raithatha says of gladstone: ‘we believe that someone with this controversial b...




george takei: now #metoo is consuming its own | crime and the law | love and sex

then they came for george takei. the flamboyant actor, famous for playing mr sulu on star trek, has been accused of sexual assault by a male model. scott brunton says takei assaulted him while he was passed out in takei’s condo, in 1981. takei denies the claims. he has tweeted – as is required when defending yourself against accusations of serious criminality these days – that the events described ‘never took place’.takei is the galactic king of virtue-signalling. he is never shy about tweeting his right-on credentials. he once claimed that anyone who protested their innocence in relation to sexual-assault allegations was effectively ‘gas-lighting victims’ – that is, lying over and over again in order to make complainants dou...




that’s enough of the russia blame game | russia

what a time to be theresa may. her government is in danger of collapsing, with senior figures resigning because they were off conducting their own foreign policy in israel, or because they once brushed a journalist’s knee. she’s leading car-crash brexit negotiations in which it is becoming clearer by the day that neither she nor anyone else in the government has the slightest clue about what to do. tory bigwigs are plotting to overthrow her.and yet despite all this, what is top of may’s agenda? russia. last week, she trotted out the well-worn canards that russia is seeking to destabilise european states and ‘our free societies’ by sowing discord with fake news and cyber espionage.thank you president putin, for offering a much-neede...




the meaninglessness of charles manson | crime and the law | obituaries | usa

charles manson, who died this week aged 83, was a manipulative psychopath obsessed with achieving fame. in a different time, his malevolent and destructive energy might have found an outlet on reality television. but back in the late sixties, he sought and gained notoriety by exploiting the mystique that surrounded the darkest sides of american culture.the thoughtless, sadistic and entirely random nature of the murder spree that he inspired in 1969 caught america unaware. it was not simply the brutality of the murders committed by members of his cult – the manson family – that horrified the public, but also the casual and matter-of-fact way these killers revelled in their heinous acts. during their trial, manson and his followers showed ...




nick cave vs the bds bigots

not content with being the coolest man in rock, now nick cave wants to be the most principled, too. the aussie rocker, of bad seeds legend, has said he is performing in israel this week not only in spite of the bds movement, but because of it. yes, it is precisely because self-righteous israel-bashers in the worlds of art and entertainment are forever imploring the likes of cave not to set foot in the apparently uniquely wicked nation of israel that he is determined to do just that. as one headline put it: ‘nick cave: bds is the reason for my trip to israel.’ now that’s what i call rock’n’roll spirit.cave played in tel aviv last night and will play there again tonight. at a press conference bigging up the rock god’s arrival in th...




that’s enough of the russia blame game | russia

what a time to be theresa may. her government is in danger of collapsing, with senior figures resigning because they were off conducting their own foreign policy in israel, or because they once brushed a journalist’s knee. she’s leading car-crash brexit negotiations in which it is becoming clearer by the day that neither her nor anyone else in the government has the slightest clue about what to do. tory bigwigs are plotting to overthrow her.and yet despite all this, what is top of may’s agenda? russia. last week, she trotted out the well-worn canards that russia is seeking to destabilise european states and ‘our free societies’ by sowing discord with fake news and cyber espionage.thank you president putin, for offering a much-neede...




ulysses versus the censors | arts & culture | free speech

when sylvia beach made the brave decision to publish ulysses in february 1922, it met with a hostile reception. a small plaque on rue de l’odéon honours the parisian publishers, shakespeare and company, who were more than a little surprised by the furore around their book. the sporting times, a weekly british newspaper, regarded it to be the work of ‘a perverted lunatic who has made a speciality of the literature of the latrine’. the dublin review went further still, wondering how ‘a great jesuit-trained intellect has gone over malignantly and mockingly to the powers of evil’. to dh lawrence, himself a victim of censorship, the book was ‘the dirtiest, most indecent, obscene thing ever written’. it wasn’t only british and iri...




why won’t they just build more homes? | housing

but the big question is why is it so difficult to provide as many homes as we, as a society, need?it’s not a problem of volume. as the nao suggests, we need near enough 250,000 more homes a year – that’s in total, taking into account the deterioration and demolition of current housing stock. that ought to be a more than achievable target, given that in the 1960s, when housing and construction technologies were far less developed, well over 300,000 new homes were still being created. and it’s certainly not a problem of sheer space – nearly 90 per cent of land in england has not been built on.it is also not a problem of a lack of social or council housing, as some of the more right-on commentaries contend. as a times columnist points...




nothing to cheer in zimbabwe fias-coup | africa

next, officials in mugabe’s own party, zanu-pf, stage-manage a demonstration through the capital, harare, demanding that the president — in reality already the ex-president – ‘must go’. we witness the unusual spectacle of a ‘people’s march’, apparently seeking to depose an authoritarian government, yet being directed by soldiers and backed by the generals. elsewhere there are no reports of any street-fighting, gunfire, or anything much at all happening in harare. international leaders from the african union, the united nations, the western powers and china (zimbabwe’s new senior investment partner) all urge a speedy return to ‘democratic’ or at least ‘constitutional’ government.after weekend talks involving internat...




‘brave spaces’ are no answer to safe spaces | education | free speech

americans are self-segregating along political lines, choosing to associate only with like-minded individuals. this should be troubling to anyone who values a society where a diversity of opinions are allowed to thrive and be discussed. nowhere is the new hyper-politicisation more evident than on college campuses, where ‘safe spaces’ have become a way to shelter oneself from the ‘trauma’ of hearing different opinions.through the ideology of ‘safe spaces’, students divide themselves along racial, sexual and other identity-based lines. it’s gotten to the point where some students are even calling for safe spaces in campus housing, so they will only have to live with those who share the same identity politics as them.a former harv...




what should schools teach? | books & essays | education

children often don’t like learning maths, but they find art quite fun. is this a reason to include it in the curriculum? again, the tendency to focus on the ‘how to’ of art as a school subject, and to view it as a creative break from the boring stuff, gives the subject a one-sided dimension, which deprives pupils of knowledge and insight of art as a discipline. studying the history of art alongside practical skills and application would, argues powell, foster an appreciation of ‘the centrality of the individual in art, as both a subject and as an interpreter, of our cultural practices and our relationships with nature’.shirley lawes’s chapter reveals the wealth of possibility offered to all children by learning a foreign language...




nick cave vs the bds bigots | israel and palestine | music

not content with being the coolest man in rock, now nick cave wants to be the most principled, too. the aussie rocker, of bad seeds legend, has said he is performing in israel this week not only in spite of the bds movement, but because of it. yes, it is precisely because self-righteous israel-bashers in the worlds of art and entertainment are forever imploring the likes of cave not to set foot in the apparently uniquely wicked nation of israel that he is determined to do just that. as one headline put it: ‘nick cave: bds is the reason for my trip to israel.’ now that’s what i call rock’n’roll spirit.cave played in tel aviv last night and will play there again tonight. at a press conference bigging up the rock god’s arrival in th...




taylor swift is not an alt-right princess | arts & culture | music | usa

it would be a tactically bad move for swift to denounce trump. although she’s reinvented herself with her most recent album, reputation (the stark, vaguely sexy cover of which is the polar opposite of her fairy-dust, princess-dress-clad albums like fearless and speak now), she has managed not to alienate her small-town country-music followers who first propelled her from obscurity to household name.nashville country likes cold beer on a friday night, pickup trucks, and supporting our troops – a far cry from clinton’s america. of course, singers like the nose-ring-wearing, weed-smoking kacey musgraves have made a name for themselves there. country godmother loretta lynn sang a song of praise to the birth-control pill back in 1975, and s...




‘we’re all bored of this pestminster witch-hunt’ | podcasts

on this week’s spiked podcast: julia hartley-brewer on the ‘pestminster’ scandal, jon holbrook on the democratic potential of brexit, and claire fox on the prob...




russia and brexit: a chattering-class conspiracy theory

but the anti-russia conspiracy theories of elite remainers are not concerned with these open, well-known stirrings of debate overseas by news agencies and sometimes by political people. no, they’re concerned with the things we can’t see, with the unknown, the shady. so today’s papers have convinced themselves that the 419 russia-linked twitter accounts that said stuff about brexit, terrorism and community relations in britain had a huge impact. they ‘disrupted’ the referendum. there is no proof whatsoever for this. common sense, however — unfashionable, i know — should tell us that a tiny number of accounts whose output will have been seen by a tiny proportion of the estimated 10million brits who use twitter, which is 7.4millio...




men are not a different species | love and sex

power is gender-blind. a docker in dover, an african-american in detroit, or a third world manual labourer: each possess a fraction of the power and privilege of a wealthy woman in london who writes for a national newspaper. there has been improper behaviour at westminster and hollywood not because the culprits are men, but because they are mps and film directors. their power – and abuse of it – derives from their elevated social status, not their sex.any person who talks about the ‘problem of men’ implicitly condemns their own father and any brother or son they might have. to talk in such hostile, blanket terms of ‘men’ exposes the inhumanity of gender determinism. all of us have or have had a male and female biological parent; ...




apu is an american hero

another day, another claim that the entertainment industry is racist. the latest subject of attack is a character from the simpsons. but who is the character causing offence? it’s not the stereotypically dumb, fat, white, blue-collar worker, homer simpson, or the loveable rogue, bart simpson. nor is it the many typecast irish, scottish, german and other ethnic characters in this 28-year-old comedy. no, the media has taken offence at the indian shopkeeper, apu nahasapeemapetilon.apu is the subject of a forthcoming documentary made by indian-american comedian hari kondabolu, called the problem with apu. kondabolu, a successful comedian with a masters degree in human rights, claims that when he was growing up in queens, new york, kids would c...




this obsession with black women’s hair isn’t liberating

black and anti-racist activists are suddenly deadset on reducing black women to their hairstylesphotographer an le made an excruciating apology to actress lupita nyong’o this week after she accused him of erasing her ‘heritage’ by editing out some of her hair in a cover photo for grazia magazine. nyong’o said the edit was intended to ‘fit a more eurocentric notion of what beautiful hair looks like’. in his apology, le agreed that the photo editing was an ‘unbelievably damaging and hurtful act’.and so an artistic decision by a photographer has been politicised and presented as an attack on black women. personally, i think the erasing of part of her hair highlights the incredible beauty of her facial fe...




brexit: reuniting politics with the people | british politics | for europe, against the eu

the european union is premised on rejecting the democratic ideal. section 2 of the act that gave effect to britain’s membership of the eec/eu, the european communities act 1972, made eu law supreme in britain. this one provision severed the link between lawmakers and the people. as tony benn observed in a bbc panorama debate on the eve of the referendum on britain’s eec membership in 1975, those campaigning to stay in the eec were ‘asking the british people to destroy democracy’. benn claimed that if ‘you cut the umbilical cord that links the lawmakers with the people, you destroy the stability of this country’.benn was right in 1975. and since then the eu’s policy reach has only widened and its significance has increased. in 1...




who represents the 52 per cent? | british politics | for europe, against the eu

may might look like an ardent brexiteer next to the likes of soubry. but she does not want the uk to leave the eu, and has been willing to offer important compromises to maintain close relations with her fellow members of the euro-elite. in her much-hyped florence speech in september, the prime minister even conceded that european courts would continue to hold sway in britain during her proposed two-year ‘transition’ period after formal brexit in march 2019, with the uk potentially being subject to new eu rules. as labour mp wes streeting gleefully pointed out this week, that is also what the supposed tory ‘rebels’ want: ‘it is government ministers who are unable to say who are the true mutineers.’on the opposition benches, the l...