Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A post about Melanie Phillips

It's annoying that Google own both YouTube and Blogger, yet the new YouTube format doesn't fit our template. So, instead of embedding, here's a link.

This is Nora, the piano playing cat.

This is Melanie Phillips on Monday.

Breivik may be one unhinged psychopath – but what is now erupting as a result of the Norway atrocity is the frenzy of a western culture that has lost its mind.

My emphasis both times. Only now? How odd. A pedant asks, are psychopaths ever hinged?[1]

This is Melanie Phillips in June on Roger Scruton.

Anyone seeking to understand why the west appears to have lost its mind would do well to read this profound little gem of a book.

So the West had lost its mind in June? Now just now? I are confused.

This is Melanie Phillips in 2006.

The case is a snapshot of a country that has lost its wits -- and, just possibly, the instinct for survival.

This is Melanie Phillips last year.

In the light of the Islamic war of conquest being waged against civilisation, the western embrace of lies and bigotry against Israel can only be seen as the death-rattle of a culture that has lost the will to survive.

This is Melanie Phillips in 2004.

Sated by unprecedented material prosperity, this society has all but lost the concept of overcoming setbacks or hardship. It has lost its capacity for endurance.

So, this is the death of Western culture. The language of Shakespeare, and Milton, and Henry James, reduced to the same metaphor, a dry thought in a dry season. God, she's a terrible writer. Arguments and battles are won or lost hands down. If you don't fight, you're a Chamberlain-like appeaser. She carries on performing the sacrament of extreme unction over phrases which were moribund before Oscar Wilde was born. It doesn't bring them back. This woman read (ooh la la, fancy) English at Oxford yet she types prose dead, as one would say, as a coffin nail.

As you can tell, I searched for 'lost' originally. To my great shock, this came up The MMR controversy: an investigation. Part three.

According to the medical establishment, the whole idea is a nonsense. The suggestion that a new autistic bowel disease is now affecting large numbers of children who were previously normal until they were vaccinated with MMR is simply not borne out by the evidence.

There is, say these experts, nothing new going on. All that's happened is that a few parents are desperate to invent a reason for the appalling disorder of autism that has afflicted their children.

She got that right. This is Phillips trying to be fair.

The Wakefield camp and the parents are not against vaccination -- indeed, most of them agree on its importance -- but say the evidence is stacking up that the MMR carries too great a risk of injury.

The Wakefield camp has not yet proved its case. Its studies need to be replicated.

On the other side, Wakefield's opponents have not proved their case either. The epidemiology is flawed, and the claims made for it by government have often been bogus and misleading.

So one side is innocent until proven guilty, and the other is "flawed" and has made claims which were "bogus and misleading." Very impartial. And totally wrong. Well done the Sunday Times!

Here's a Google search of her site for "Wakefield". Strangely, there's no "I fess up, I was duped" apology. Modern medicine, it's just all part of the conspiracy to bring down Western culture!

No, I'm not even going to go into what that lost instinct for survival might have looked like. Nor am I going to speculate what Phillips thinks we should do about all these immigrants who are swamping the country. I can't help but quote this.

The real reason Blunkett was attacked was that he had uttered an unsayable truth: that upholding a sense of national identity is normal and desirable, and it is legitimate to want to resist the pressures which would destroy it.

How might one do that? But I said I wasn't going to speculate, so I won't.

PS This is Melanie Philllips on god-knows-what.

But the problem is that it [Islam] does not just oppose libertinism. Having never had a 'reformation' which would have forced it to make an accommodation with modernity, it is fundamentally intolerant and illiberal. As a result, it directly conflicts with western values in areas such as the treatment of women, freedom of speech, the separation of private and public values, and tolerance of homosexuality.

Ah, tolerance of homosexuality. Like this? Tabloid Watch handles that one well. (Short version, all the 'facts' are wrong.) Update 17:35 I went back on Twitter, and I saw this tweet from Lizz Winstead (producer of the 'Today' show; the Jon Stewart one):

I didnt need "Brainwashing" to befriend gay kids in high school. We bonded thru our mutual disgust for idiots.


[1] They may be, if you accept the thesis that many successful people in business or politics are in fact sociopaths.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Proposed internet campaign: "Johann Hari may lose his Orwell prize, but Melanie Phillips should chuck hers in the bin because she's way fucking worse"

7/27/2011 09:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Sarah AB said...

Having just read her Norway article quickly - I actually thought the opening was ok but it gets more and more weird. Having said (I think) that those with conservative views shouldn't be blamed for right-wing inspired terrorism (fair enough) she then seems to assert that all those on the left are essentially violent nihilists who want to destroy those on the right. But I did only read it quickly.

7/28/2011 06:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Cian said...

Having said (I think) that those with conservative views shouldn't be blamed for right-wing inspired terrorism (fair enough)

But nobody is saying that that I'm aware of. The criticism is of people with right wing views, who write in an eschatological style about the Muslims, should probably take some of the blame for inspiring a terrorist with the same views.

Melanie Phillips has stated repeatedly we're in a war, that we're being betrayed by liberals, that the Jews will be destroyed (or are being destroyed) in Europe, etc, etc. Well violent rhetoric does inspire violent action.

Just as a Muslim extremist who preached violent bloody Jihad would take some of the blae for inspiring an Islamist terrorist. Mel's an extremist. I think its a sign of how much she's lost it (and really you only have to read her prose style to realise that), that she doesn't seem to get this.

7/28/2011 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

But she's 'so brave'.

I had a mini twitter debate with Aaro a few months back about her and it took about five back and forths before he came out with this classic. I was waiting for it.

7/28/2011 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

But she's 'so brave'.

Oh God, yes. That's because to yer Aaros, Hitchenses et al, a willingness to offend your colleagues and friends is an immensely courageous thing. Aaro in particular is impressed because he spends so much time skirting around the issue of his lefty pals and their possible, you know, ideological, you know, in the parlance of our times, Nazis, you know, and whatever, because he doesn't have the stones to say exactly what he means.

I'm sure it's no small thing, when there's a career riding on your not-calling-everyone-fascists and so on. On the other hand, when we consider that there's always so many opportunities for "Former leftist sought for well-paid position making mendacious argumentation about the nefarious evil of the Left", it's hardly setting all your possessions on fire and going to live in a skip.

As for Mel, maybe she passed that stage a decade ago, but her current role of "Talking idiotic, inflammatory shit for the entertainment of hateful, racist morons" doesn't meet the definition of "brave" in my dictionary. There are other words I'd reach for first.

7/28/2011 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

I think Aaro possibly means that she is very brave to continue to live in North London and go to middle class dinner parties, despite the fact that she thinks that middle class guardian reading North Londoners are vicious anti-Semites who have gone mad and want to exterminate her. It's kind of like the sense in which someone who had a severe phobia of sand would be "brave" if they went to live in Dubai and become a professional dune-buggy driver.

7/28/2011 10:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris Bertram is good on what he calls the "epistemic environment" (cultural climate, we used to say) that Melanie Phillips and similar have helped to create, and which gives the oxygen to encourage such an attack:


7/28/2011 10:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to see that, in Mel P land, the C16 Reformation in England led almost straight away to the toleration of homosexuality in the 1960s.

Marc Mulholland.

7/28/2011 10:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FWIW (not much): I read in some profile that Melanie Phillips lives in Ealing. I think the real contradiction in her position is regularly taking part in the Moral Maze and regularly saying how extremely bad the BBC is.

7/28/2011 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

Exactly. Given that she's so often a guest on the Moral Maze and Question Time, it'd be a very strong statement of her concerns about the BBC's broadcasting output if she was to, say, return all of her appearance fees over the last decade or so.

7/28/2011 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I think he means the third kind of brave. Examples of being reckless without meaning to be.

It's certainly brave when armed pirates board a ship to feel sorry for the pirates.

She's brave enough to brazen out not apologising to the people her employers have had to pay compensation to; nor has she ever retracted her support for the fraud Dr (oh wait, he's not is he?) Andrew Wakefield.

Some may call her brave for having the effrontery to use the hack's fallback what a recently dead sleb meant to me to hang her usual death-of-the-West fulminations.

And drug-taking has been tacitly encouraged by the Great And Not-So-Good, those well-heeled but grossly irresponsible committee clones who have decided that illegal drugs are not as damaging to society as the laws that keep them illegal - and who have accordingly helped present drug-takers as romantic rebels against the system.

I do like "not as damaging to society as the laws that keep them illegal": blame the Yanks and the Enlightenment for running government in an empirical rather than a fanatical and ideological way. Who the hell are "the Great And Not-So-Good"?

I think one thing she does share with Aaro is the (unacknowledged) belief that the hoi polloi cannot think for themselves. All ideas, good or bad, can be traced back to their betters. Phillips is fond of inversions: "The World Turned Upside Down" (nicely literally illustrated with Australia at the top, because there's really a right way up for the world to be) and she seems to have inverted vox populi, vox dei to vox frater magnus, vox populi. (Oh crap, just checked the origin of the phrase and its original use seems rather closer to Mad Mel's views on the great unwashed - diametrically opposite to mine - if lacking her pejorism or declinism. I briefly considered deleting this paragraph, but I think it illustrates something else about Phillips. If she lost the "world is going mad/losing its mind" thing and just said "people are crazy" she'd be stating a tautology. I think that, for her, most people are crazy, and probably frightening.)

I'd excuse Clarkson from blame for Breivik, because I think he's quite meta and ironic really. There was an excellent and not-at-all scripted joke from James May to Clarkson on Top Gear recently: "So you're saying Jaguar should tailor their cars to the Chipping Norton set?... But what's the point of that? Aren't they all going to be in prison next week?"

Finally on the gay thing, I can see I'm going to have to write a post which starts, "Someone must have been telling lies about the homosexual community, because one fine day, without having done anything wrong, it was subjected to a vitriolic attack in the Daily Mail..."

7/28/2011 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I'm surprised Aaro defends her given this. I thought the whole rationale of his book on Conspiracy Theories was to fit the death of David Kelly into a pigeonhole marked "anti-Semites, fantasists, and the delusional".

I've suggested that she's a careless writer, but that's not quite true.

This is all very much to be welcomed as potentially shedding light on an intensely controversial event that has grown ever more murky as the years have rolled on.

It's a controversy which needs shedding light on. Behind this gauze of objectivity her meaning is quite clear: it "has grown ever more murky" (this isn't being objective; it's taking a side). She concludes, "the story we have been given about the 'suicide' of Dr Kelly doesn't make any sense. Might the truth be that the outing of David Kelly's name led not to his suicide -- but to his killing?" Her last paragraph is another feint at impartiality "Maybe, in the end, the truth will turn out to be more prosaic. But let us hope that Messrs Grieve and Clarke are not deflected from their intention to lay this disturbing episode finally to rest."

Aaro, of course, believes that the truth is out already; the affair was never "murky" and so on.

7/28/2011 01:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Shadrach said...

DA appearing under the auspices of the CFI to rehash his schtik on conspiracies? Perhaps Tim Wilkinson can go along and offer advice from the floor.
And who is this on the CFI advisory board but Hazhir Teimourian who I last saw c.2003 popping up constantly on the BBC to assure us all that the invasion of Iraq was all for the best as Saddam was every bit as dangerous as the various (not a bit dodgy) dossiers made him out to be.

"Teimourian has advocated the view that Islamic thought and democracy are incompatible and that large-scale immigration is dangerous"

7/28/2011 06:49:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

Mad Mel writing one day before the Norway massacre: Is Britain finally about to go over the cliff into official Islamisation?

7/30/2011 02:06:00 PM  
Anonymous hellblazer said...

Having recently spent two weeks in Newcastle, I can safely say that if Britain is going over the cliff into Islamisation then the orders have not reached the Tyne yet...

7/30/2011 05:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Der Spiegel article on growing links between the European far right and the Israeli Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu parties:,1518,777175,00.html

Individuals in the Israeli Government seem to be calculating that the anti-Islamic far right are the future of Europe.


7/31/2011 08:03:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

Meanwhile Nick has his cake and eats it, with a singular lack of self-consciousness.

7/31/2011 04:28:00 PM  

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