I'm ashamed to say that, until this morning, I'd never even heard of Death Row inmate Cory Maye. Columnist Paul Jacob looks into claims of a miscarriage of justice:
Had not a certain blogger picked up the story and publicized the case, Maye would lack not only a Wikipedia entry, but any hope of exoneration... Balko's posts on The Agitator have agitated a significant portion of the blogosphere, with bloggers from across the political spectrum coming to Maye's side in the case.
I have been flattered by an invitation to sign it, and I probably will, but if I agree it will be the most conservative document that I have ever initialled. Even the obvious has now become revolutionary. So call me a neo-conservative if you must: anything is preferable to the rotten unprincipled alliance between the former fans of the one-party state and the hysterical zealots of the one-god one.
It is still dangerous for anyone in mainstream politics or journalism to criticise immigration. The liberals have screamed 'racist' at such critics so many times that almost nobody except actual racists is prepared to get involved.
Christopher's brother, Peter, who lives who on the other side of the political street, delivers a forceful overview of the BNP, the mainstream parties and immigration. I feel slightly uneasy plugging this piece - my father is Jamaican and my wife came to this country as part of the Asian exodus from Kenya. The point is, though, that we need to have an open conversation to make sure the latterday Oswald Mosleys don't run away with the issue:
I have spent a long time talking to BNP people, including their leader, Nick Griffin. I think they have no serious policies to deal with the problems they pretend they will solve. I think they are rather dim, limited types, who have been handed undue prominence by the refusal of the major parties even to discuss the issue of mass immigration.
By shouting down the many thoughtful and civilised people who have tried to raise this issue in a responsible way, the liberal elite have left the field clear for real bigots and real Nazis to make political hay...
My contempt for the BNP arises from a straightforward dislike for its unBritish, anti-Christian origins, among Hitler-worshippers, closet Nazis, men of violence, swivel-eyed Judophobes and racial bigots. Knowing full well how decent British people feel about such things, the BNP has spent much of the last ten years seeking to conceal its real nature behind a new front of smooth, New Labour-type PR. I know that a lot of people have been fooled by this, and I know why. It is because the respectable parties have lied, and lied and lied about immigration, and smeared anyone who has challenged them with outrageous charges of bigotry.
Talking of Oswald Mosley, here's a lively review - by Nigel Farndale - of Stephen Dorril's new biography. Clown or brute? A bit of both, I suppose:
Dorril is good at showing quite how arbitrary the choice between extreme right and extreme left politics was for many ambitious young people during the Depression....
Mosley's brand of fascism was popular at first, winning the support of the media - the Daily Mail will forever live in the shadow of its headline: 'Hurrah for the Blackshirts!' Mussolini approved, too, and, as is well known, secretly bankrolled the BUF. What has never been proved until now, however, is that Mosley was also being funded by the Nazis. According to Dorril, he sent his second wife Diana, one of the Mitford sisters, to Berlin to lobby for funds on his behalf...
By and large, Dorril takes Mosley as seriously as he took himself, even though, for all his menace and anti-Semitism, there was something comical about him. The fact that he insisted on calling himself 'the Leader' was enough to have the public sniggering. Even his devoted supporters took to calling him 'the Bleeder' behind his back.
Whereas, at first, he had been ambiguous about the relevance of anti-semitism to British fascism, once German funds were essential to his survival, he had no compunction in resorting to the most vile anti-semitic propaganda... Even so, Goebbels did not rate Mosley as a serious politician. It was the vamping of Hitler and the Nazi high command by the adoring Diana Mitford and her sister, Unity, that provided Mosley with Nazi cash.
Ah, the charming, hideous Diana Mosley. Historian Andrew Roberts summed her up very nicely.
Is Nottingham the ugliest city in Britain? It would get my vote, though, to be fair, there are plenty of places I haven’t been to recently. What is certain is that with its messed-up centre and hideous Robin Hood theming, its undrivable one-way systems and casinos doubling as car parks, its lurid purple buses and phoney ye olde taverns, its supremely high gun rate and the gangs of exiled smokers puffing up and down Maid Marian Way, Nottingham must be a contender. Which makes it the perfect venue for the British Art Show.
David Cameron's campaign for the green vote suffered a setback when it emerged that he is followed by his official car when he cycles to work.
Mr Cameron has been regularly photographed cycling the five miles from his west London home to Westminster. In fact, he is often followed by his Lexus car, whose driver picks up shoes, clothes and documents the Tory leader cannot carry on his bike.
Andrew Sullivan and David Frum have both been pondering that old topic, anti-Americanism. Sullivan witnessed some of the problems at first hand:
My trip in London was mainly filled with social engagements with British Tories: probably the most sympathetic sub-group America has in Europe (with the exception of the Poles). They all seem terribly discouraged by the trends in the U.S. and completely befuddled by the conduct of the war. Many Europeans were never going to give the U.S.the benefit of the doubt. But we seem to have lost the few who would.
Good to see Frum conceding that the problem isn't entirely down to malicious European elites ("Americans understand that they are not communicating well.") I really wish I could feel more confident about America getting to grips with this. Sadly, my impression is that too many US conservative commentators, in the mainstream and blogosphere alike, are locked into that tiresome and deeply parochial "Why don't they love us?" routine. Self-pity alternates with bursts of righteous anger and the irritating assumption that, in all known fields of human endeavour, the American model is the only one that works. Not forgetting that oh-so reassuring belief that, yawn, Europe will be going down the tubes in 30 years' time anyway, so why bother listening?
I'm about as pro-US as they come, but I have to say I'm beginning to run out of patience - and hope.
PS: As for the idea that MTV and Britney will do the job instead, I refer you to Martha Bayles's article on the lost art of cultural diplomacy.
UPDATE: A quick response to some of the comments below. The one conservative commentator who does seem worried about America's dismal PR is Irwin Stelzer. David Brooks is another, I guess. I wish I could think of lots more names, but I really can't. In my experience, the standard response from US conservatives (and some liberals) is that, throughout history, the Number One Nation always attracts hostility. Well, yes, but that's no reason to help your enemies by failing to explain basic decisions. Refusing to sign up to Kyoto is the classic example: the right decision, as far as I can see, but incredibly mishandled by the Bush team. Yes, much of the Euro-media is hopelessly biased, and yes, a fair proportion of the chattering classes is never going to be won over, but that's no reason to be defeatist.
One obvious remedy: start appointing ambassadors on the basis of their communication skills rather than their fund-raising achievements. Lots of us in the UK wonder what that big building in Grosvenor Square is supposed to be for. Better still: start taking this entire problem seriously. Oh, and one more thing: stop talking as if Americans are more virtuous than Europeans. It's about as true as the oft-heard claim that Europeans are smarter than Americans.
Norm on that ever-widening, unbridgeable gulf between the sensible British Left and those who just prefer to froth at the mouth:
It is commonly said against people of what, for short, I'll here just call Eustonian persuasion that our criticisms apply to no more than a handful of dead-enders in the SWP and RESPECT. Yet, week after week, we hear prominent journalists and others of a rather broader segment of left-liberal opinion coming out with stuff of this kind or, where it is a cut above it, still clearly exemplifying the themes we have identified and criticized - the Fisks, the Pilgers and Pinters, the Buntings, Steeles and even the singular Jacques, and then some.