Stupid people run our lives. This was made obvious back in February 2013 when the footballer Paul Elliott resigned his posts at the Football Association as well as trusteeship of the anti-racism campaign group Kick It Out because he used the word “nigger” in a text message argument with another black football player.
Elliott has received the CBE for services to equality and diversity in football and is quite obviously not a racist yet he was forced to resign by the witch hunt mentality that prevails in British public life.
The reason that we oppose racism is that it causes harm to people. We’re not against racism when an American is deemed friendly, a German efficient or an Englishman polite. We’re against it when certain groups are discriminated against. When they lose out to other groups when applying for work or are unjustly hassled by the police. Of course we should avoid using racially derogative terms when referring to people but the single use of such a word should not be a litmus test of racism.
Public life is dominated by people so lacking in judgment that they rely on idiotic rules and this is the way with much of 21st Century life. This same knee jerk mentality seems now to be pushing the United States into another war. President Obama has previously said that the use of chemical weapons by Syria would be a “red line” that could trigger U.S. reaction. Today, the United States Secretary of Defence, Chuck Hagel, put out a statement saying that “that the U.S. intelligence community assesses with some degree of varying confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin.” - the talk now is of whether Syria has crossed that red line.
HANG ON A MINUTE! - Statements put out by government departments are always very very carefully worded and this statement reeks of indecision – “WITH SOME DEGREE OF VARYING CONFIDENCE”???!!!!!…..They’re TALKING BOLLOCKS!
Obviously the statement has been constructed under pressure and the authors have made damn sure they express themselves in terms which commit themselves to precisely nothing. It’s interesting to speculate on how the story originated. A brief perusal of the web reveals that a vague article in the London Times on 13th April 2013 stated “Forensic evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria has been found for the first time in a soil sample smuggled out of the country in a secret British operation. Defence sources, who declined to be named, said yesterday that conclusive proof that “some kind of chemical weapon” had been fired in Syria had been established by scientists at the Ministry of Defence’s chemical and biological research establishment at Porton Down in Wiltshire.”
So we have a story from an unnamed source that some soil in Syria may be contaminated by some unspecified chemical weapon. The Times is a News International rag and, for Rupert Murdoch, this constitutes hard news.
First we should question whether this story and the subsequent statement by Mr. Hagel have any merit at all. If the British government do have contaminated soil from Syria then let them say so; it’s worth investigating. But rather than setting trip wires that commit Americans to combat and potentially death let’s think this through.
Why do we abhor Weapons of Mass Destruction? It’s not because they kill people, many weapons do that. It’s because they kill masses of people. Hydrogen bombs are an obvious example but gas attacks are another. So if we are looking for evidence of the use of WMD we should be looking for far far more than traces of some bloody substance in a plastic tub of questionable providence. We should be looking for masses of dead people. If Assad is using Sarin to run his lawn mower we should not give a toss. If he’s exterminating thousands with pick axe handles we should sit up and take notice. We should consider the crime not the mechanism used to commit the crime.
Like the absurdity of discerning racism by a single casual word the existence of a few grams of chemical is not a defining piece of evidence. The West has a history of intervening in the Middle East and all interventions are couched in altruistic arguments designed to placate the electorate but fundamentality all interventions have been for the benefit of Western countries.
The decision of whether to intervene in Syria is a difficult one but the United States should resist being bounced into another war by idiots and war mongers.