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July 20th 2016 print

Timothy Cootes

Highly Educated Idiots

There on the ABC, right on schedule after the Nice massacre, was an argument for moral equivalence being presented by no less than a full-blown academic from the University of Sydney. It takes that sort of mind to grasp that the US is no different from its Islamist adversaries

chen III have a strong suspicion that some of the most pointless people in this country have PhDs in the Social Sciences. Of course, I don’t really mean to say that these people are unintelligent; obviously they know a good deal about Derrida, Foucault, Butler, and the rest of the gang. It’s their moral relativism that irks me, as well as the cultivated grudges against their own societies and culture. I’m thinking of the insistence that Australia was ‘invaded’, for example, or the tendency to self-blame after each attack by our Islamist enemies. In a way, one has to admire their industriousness: every day they manage to find brand new ways of hating themselves.

When it comes, then, to questions about the upkeep of Western civilisation, the university lecturer is not the person one first thinks to consult. Once upon a time, I have heard, his thoughts and recommendations were confined to the mercifully recondite and unreadable journals of the academic Left. No longer, though. This means I have to update my earlier suspicion: if I am right (and let’s face it, I am), all these useless people will appear, at some stage of their careers, on the ABC.

For a measure of proof, I invite the reader to consider last Friday’s episode of ABC’s The Drum, which featured Peter Chen (above), a senior lecturer in politics at University of Sydney. The topic was the ongoing assault on French civil society, but Chen seemed to wonder if this was a conversation worth having at all. He argued that what happened in Nice was awful, of course, but it was hardly new: the conversion of trucks into weapons of suicide terror happens every day in other parts of the world. For Chen, shock was an invalid emotional response. It proved that Westerners only care about their own. He sneered: “Why are we shocked about this? Because it occurred in France.”

It’s easy to rejoin with the obvious point that the French Riviera and the Middle East are different places; that it’s reasonable to have a stronger emotional connection to one over the other; and, most importantly, that most people are shocked by Islamist terror no matter where it takes place. This is because the goal is always the same: the Islamist fanatics who randomly murder and immiserate their subjects in Baghdad and Beirut and elsewhere have plans for our society, too. If we reject that vision here, we must reject it everywhere.

The expression of shock is a good thing: it proves that one has not been inured to terror and violence. It is certainly preferable to Chen’s smug prattle. Shock can lead to action or it can sharpen resolve. Better still, it can harden into contempt for the jihadists themselves, but I’d save a little for academic cretins too.

I noticed a pattern in Chen’s style of critique, which involved continuously changing the subject. Rather than focus on the events of the day, Chen argued that it would be better to “think about 1961, the massacre of Algerian Muslims in Paris . . who were fighting to liberate themselves from the colonial rule of France, right? So this is the problem … We need to talk about the problem of colonialism.”

No, I don’t think that we do. Say what you like against French foreign policy (and I could say quite a lot), it’s best saved for another discussion. However, the fact that Chen groped for this topic says a great deal about him. It coheres with the standard left-wing response to a terror attack, which goes something like this: let’s ransack the past for an instance of inexpiable Western guilt; we rid ourselves of moral authority and the responsibility to condemn; we exculpate the perpetrators, and as for the victims, well, let’s just say they deserve what they get.

Another panellist, former Liberal Party advisor John Adams, timidly but correctly suggested another root cause of terror: the role of Islam. Chen baulked and sniffed: “I think we can call this radical Islamic terrorism if we can call civilian casualties of drone strikes radical Christian terrorism, because the United States is a Christian country. All its political elites, you know, they swear on the Bible, they are extremely pious.”

And here, right on schedule, is the argument for moral equivalence. Apparently, the US government is no different from its Islamist adversaries. A shabby argument, yes, and even Chen would agree. He added that because a sensible person would reject such a religious characterisation of the US, one must therefore reject any connection between Islam and terror, too.

This is somewhat shabbier, to put it mildly. It’s a rather lengthy leap of logic and it’s no surprise that Chen ends up supine. But that’s exactly where he wants us to be. Such a worldview offers neither a plan of action, nor a coherent way of thinking. Chen added: “There is nothing we can do . .  to prevent these lone-wolf attacks.” And there you have it, the whole package: equivalence, uselessness, and a chirpy fatalism at no extra charge.

All this, and more, is available at a university near you

Comments [51]

  1. pgang says:

    I tell you what, it’s not just the ABC. Flicking through The Australian this morning I’m disgusted at the puerile coverage of the Republican convention. The one-sided decent into mindless character assassination has been fully realised by that paper’s editors.

    • Egil says:

      A fair few of the moderators/censors at The Australian must be related in one way or another to that bastion of pompous ex? commie, Philip Adams.
      “Patricia ” of GetUp or CFMEU, whatever, gets 25 comments through in an hour whilst others are left “pending” for yonks.
      “The March through The Institutions” is progressing very much to the “progressives” liking.

      • LBLoveday says:

        Left “pending”? In my case just rejected out of hand; I’ve had a comment rejected which was published verbatim the next day in Letters to the Editor in The Daily Telegraph! Janet A wrote to me re a rejected post on one of her columns “I agree it is an innocuous comment. Sadly, it’s not up to me!”

        I am cancelling my subscription not because of that, but because I dislike the decline in quality (grammar and spelling errors, and obvious typos in numerical data now abound) and like “pgang” am fed up with the shift in genre, Sheridan’s arrogant dismissal of Trump being a prime example.

  2. Rob Ellison says:

    The mullet makes a comeback? He is so not bogan.

    Most people (and most Muslims) reject targeting of civilians – either by the military or individuals and groups. This It is far from unequivocal however – with Americans and Canadians leading the way in finding it sometimes acceptable. In the 20th century the concept of total war evolved with the advent of new weapons. It was refined in the late stages with more precise but still hugely destructive weaponry. With the latter we are not talking about targeting civilians but something defined as collateral damage under the morally dubious double effect doctrine. I prefer to call it inevitable killing of innocent people and broad scale destruction of civil infrastructure. And it will add fuel to the fires of global madness.

    The solution is long term – good governance and economic growth. For which peace and the pursuit of peace is the the foundation.

    Instead we get another lame whine about world views and the follies of the left. And some intimation of what? A propaganda onslaught against Islam as one recent article suggested? The defeat of Islam in a holy war raining fire and ash on the world? What is hugely likely is a proxy war in which countries can drop bombs on some other country and then cry foul when some crazed mongrel brings the war home to them. It is all such feeble minded nonsense.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/157067/views-violence.aspx

    • Lacebug says:

      Rob, you really need to get yourself to a mosque. It’s a crying shame that a young lion of Islam such as yourself has not actually joined the religion of peace.

      • Rob Ellison says:

        And you need to understand the language of peace rather than the rhetoric of a futile and destructive war. You need a starting point and reality is usually a good one. Try the Gallup analysis.

        • Solo says:

          Rob, I assume that you paid some money to get into the comments section. Are you sure you signed up for the right page? By all means, join in the discussion, but I can think of many other ways of spending $59 that don’t involve getting into arguments all the time. It’d be like me spending money to I dunno, get into the SMH or BuzzfeedOz pages… Anyway, enjoy your time in the trenches.

          Also, with your comment, I think you may have just followed standard procedure outlined in the above article.

          Education and rational thought will kill Islam without a bullet being fired, but they involve a modicum of openness in the recipient.

          • Rob Ellison says:

            I submitted an article and thought I may as well make an effort.
            And really if you make irrational responses to a claim based on a Gallup analysis that most people everywhere object to targeting civilians – then it is not me arguing the indefensible. Supply some facts and figures if you have anything but empty rhetoric and personal disparagement.

            These people of the world really don’t need education – what we need is fewer idiots. You need to take some responsibility for the evils of the double effect doctrine and don’t call it morality. War breeds war – and civilians keep paying a price. But by all means don’t fire a bullet and educate to your hearts content.

            The real solution is long term – good governance and economic growth. For which peace and the active pursuit of peace is the foundation.

            http://economicsandpeace.org/research/

        • Jody says:

          “Peace in our Time” (Neville Chamberlain)

          • Rob Ellison says:

            The allusion to appeasement is ill considered. The economics and peace link spells out optimum conditions for a lasting peace. I’ll give you a hint – it doesn’t involve levelling cities and displacing 11 million people.

        • Lacebug says:

          You may gain temporary appeasement by a policy of concession to violence, but you do not gain lasting peace that way.

          Anthony Eden

          • Rob Ellison says:

            The Facebook age of trite aphorisms shall not pass without purging the world of all sense and meaning. On that day – poetry will die and the eschatological promise burst like a new and frightening dawn on the consciousness of humanity.

          • Jody says:

            Spot on. When you raise these quotes the apologists um and aah and errr and start to get tricky with language, dissecting every word to try and throw the obvious off track. Old tactic; didn’t work before, doesn’t now. Instead, they revert to the time-honoured, “ooooh, look over there”!!

    • sclendinen says:

      Hi Rob,

      I find your comment regarding collateral damage confusing as the Gallup research was specifically focused on the targeting of civilians. Could you perhaps explain how you are drawing a comparison with unintended/undesired casualties as a result of military action and intended attacks against non military targets?

      I agree that poor political and economic conditions can help to foment unrest in disadvantaged communities, but why does it appear that the only examples of recent time are all adherents of one particular religion? For example, there have been no terror attacks that specifically target civilians (the focus of the Gallup research) in Cuba, Venezuela or North Korea; all countries that have suffered either recently, or in the past, from poor governance and no economic growth?

      A further point could be made that Australia, with generally good Government and steady economic growth, supporting a generous social safety net, has seen attacks on civilians by religious fundamentalists.

      Finally, I note that the Gullup research has an interesting footnote:

      “The Abu Dhabi Gallup Center is a Gallup research hub based in the capital of the United Arab Emirates. It is the product of a partnership between Gallup, the world’s leading public opinion research firm, and the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi.”

      I can’t help but be sceptical of an Islamic state telling us that the problem is not Islam.

  3. Solo says:

    I didn’t look at the link, sorry. I’ll check it out when I have a bit of time to digest. Of course people don’t want to target civilians. I imagine the investigation didn’t get into Chechnya or the Afghanistan network of caves. If anything I would imagine that the article would confirm the difference between people of a sound mind and the fundamentalist mindset.

    Could you show me an idiot that had no education? I think ‘correct’ education might be the better term. Surely, many people go to Uni to get an education, but what do they really get? Some flavour of indoctrination I suppose. I did read up a little on the double effect, and in all honesty, it’s a little dense. I’m sure you’ll correct me, but its essentially doing something bad to achieve something good (or thereabouts). So, in other words, blowing up a training camp with a drone that may also kill civilians cannot be justified morally because it also kills terrorists?

    We don’t have good governance and we have shot ourselves in the foot with economic growth. I think increasingly what you are seeing is people frustrated with a lack of control in their lives and they want it back. Peace can come later.

    • Rob Ellison says:

      The double effect doctrine is that it is ok to kill civilians if you take out terrorists who would otherwise kill other and more innocents. It doesn’t apply to training camps where you may assume a willing support. The problems comes with extending that to civilians areas where thousands of innocents have been killed in drone strikes. Extending it to bombing whole cities and creating millions of refugees is much more total war in which civilians are actively targeted.

  4. Does total war really only belong to the 20th century ? I may be wrong but I believe a scorched earth policy was used when Henry Vth invaded France in the early 15th century.

  5. Mark Smith says:

    Here’s a confusion, trying to interpret a comment about an event I was previously unaware of. Just wondering what Chen meant by “the massacre of Algerian Muslims in Paris…who were fighting to liberate themselves from the colonial rule of the French…” as if to say the Algerian Muslims owned Paris first before being colonised by the so-called ‘local French’. Kind of akin to Australia recolonising Lakemba, I guess. Somebody please alleviate my historical ignorance concerning this matter.

  6. Rob Ellison says:

    “Libertarianism holds that the only proper role of violence is to defend person and property against violence, that any use of violence that goes beyond such just defense is itself aggressive, unjust, and criminal”
    ― Murray N. Rothbard

    • Lacebug says:

      We are at war with Islam. You are either with us or against us. If you are against us, Mr Ellison you are the enemy. We should be bombing Islam out of existence – men, women and children, by whatever means necessary.

    • Jody says:

      Absolutely priceless. Try telling that to Putin, and those rancid dictators in the middle east.

      • Rob Ellison says:

        “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”

        • Jody says:

          And you prove my earlier point absolutely about “oooh, look over there!!”

          • Rob Ellison says:

            I have to admit I failed to read that comment. My point was to deny that the trite aphorism has any validity in rational discourse. Tedious in the extreme. And further that killing 1.4 billion Muslims is monstrously absurd. But subtleties escape you Jody. Try to frame an actual argument – preferably in a contemporary context – with real facts.

          • ianl says:

            > “Try to frame an actual argument – preferably in a contemporary context – with real facts.”

            Two-edged sword, that. Ellison has failed this with every rhetorical comment he’s posted here.

            His Narcissus co-efficient is now 100%.

        • Rob Ellison says:

          The article is an empty vessel – as is the vapid commentary that follows. Argument by way of aphorism seems to be the way. Founded on an enveloping panic. Islam is the evil empire whose only goal is to bring down the west. Therefore what? Kill every on of them as some idiot here suggested? Educate the blighters? Intimidate with rhetoric or we will all get our heads lopped off? As long as we don’t appease the nebulous them on the dubious authority of Anthony Eden. I have instead offered the authority of Christ – but this appears to be little regarded by self proclaimed defenders of the faith.

          Muslims do not in general support attacks against civilians. They are just like us in that regard. Unless you are advocating total war against Islam. Start from the facts and build a rational policy to face down the scourge of terrorism. It will continue to happen despite the empty headed sabre rattling of armchair warriors. It will escalate with each desolation as cities fall under the crusader sword. The enemy will fade into the night and emerge again and again in the light of a fiery day. History shows that this is not a war that can be won. What can be done is the patient long game. At home start with intelligent policing – seek peace abroad.

          What is clear from every indicator is that building peace and security is the key to a peaceful civil society. The real solution to terrorism is long term – good governance and economic growth. For which peace and the active pursuit of peace is the foundation.

          http://economicsandpeace.org/research/

  7. Warty says:

    I don’t know, these arguments of moral equivalence, as though Christianity hadn’t gone through a Reformation and society hadn’t gone through an Enlightenment, and as though the Qur’an and Sharia were not locked into the 7th Century, because the Qur’an is immutable and the Qur’an is the word of Allah and not one wit of it can be changed by mere human instrument. Is that what Omar Khayyam meant when he wrote ‘The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on: nor all they piety, nor wit shall lure ‘t back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it’? Perhaps not, because he was a Sufi and damned side more enlightened than a dungeon full of Imams.
    The problem is that the Leninist inspired ‘progressives’ have done their best to destroy Christianity and the carcass being newly buried, they insist on digging it up to have another rail; marking the spot so that they can dig it up again, all enemies having been driven off into the mist, or is it the murk. OK, so Christianity is not quite dead, I exaggerate, but they hate everything to do with the greatness of the West’s past; they hate anything to do with established authority, if simply because it reminds them of the rule of law, and more particularly, that filthy, now archaic expression: ‘morality’.
    When it is all dusted and done, when the ‘progressive’ utopia has been achieved, they’ll all be dead won’t they? because the Moslems will have yopped their silly yeads off.

  8. Rob Ellison says:

    Most Arabic Muslims – 85% as opposed to 77% in the US – believe that attacks on civilians are never justified. That’s the only interpretation of the Noble Qur’an that Warty needs to understand.

    As for moral equivalence – it’s a moot point. Everyone is so mired in blood by now that a gruesome accounting seems quite beside the point. What matters is to break the cycle of violence. Sue for peace with the 85% and gain the protection of Muhammad (peace be upon him).

    “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.”

    I keep repeating that they must seek peace and pursue it – but no one seems to have got the connection. The profoundly religious everywhere have an openness, curiosity and generosity.

    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.”

    How is morality defined in your Christianity Warty? It seems very different than mine.

    • Renato Alessio says:

      Hi Rob,
      Quite fascinating what you write.
      You complain that the article is an an empty vessel because argument is by way of Aphorism. But by the Oxford dictionary, Aphorism is a pithy (i.e. loud or terse) observation which contains a general truth.

      So by your logic, the article is an empty vessel because it loudly gives general observations which contain general truths. Therefore, by your own words you have constantly been asserting the truth of the article that you have been attacking. Which is either pretty weird or you don’t know what the word Aphorism means.

      You also state,
      “What is clear from every indicator is that building peace and security is the key to a peaceful civil society. The real solution to terrorism is long term – good governance and economic growth.”

      So, we should be seeing heaps of terrorism from the Untouchables in India, right? Or for all the slum dwellers in Brazil?

      No, instead we see terrorism from people who have been enabled from the economic growth you claim is needed to make them peaceful – Osama Bin Laden was extremely wealthy, numerous terrorist have been well educated, an Australian Doctor went over to help ISIS out, Ak47s/grenades/explosives don’t come cheap, heaps of Australian disability pensioners having an easy life have suddenly gotten very fit and headed off to Syria, and it is increased economic growth which has enabled many of the terrorists to actually get to Europe and wreak havoc.

      You may find it of interest to watch an interesting report from Canadian Ezra Levant in Sweden (where a Muslim girl says her local Mosque teaches Muslims in Malmo Sweden to hate white people) and in Germany (where real Syrian female refugees say that they are being persecuted by ISIS even more in Germany than they were back home).
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VA1xGJyuoAI

      I can accept that a small but significant number of Muslims want to kill me, you and Western Civilization. What’s you problem with accepting that?

      Regards,
      Renato

  9. Warty says:

    Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?

  10. Warty says:

    Statistic and statistics and not a word of wit amongst them. Original thought is a fast declining commodity, when others of questionable authority are leant upon to provide your own responses.

  11. Bill Martin says:

    It is most regrettable when commenting turns into a battle of wits – often not particularly witty at all – and the article itself is all but forgotten.

    • Jody says:

      To be in a battle of wits the opponent needs to demonstrate that he has wit to begin with!! A bit like the ‘personality clash’ where you must have one before there’s any sign of a clash!!!

  12. Rob Ellison says:

    The article is an empty vessel – as is the vapid commentary that follows. Argument by way of aphorism seems to be the way. Founded on an enveloping panic. Islam is the evil empire whose only goal is to bring down the west. Therefore what? Kill every on of them as some idiot here suggested? Educate the blighters? Intimidate with rhetoric or we will all get our heads lopped off? As long as we don’t appease the nebulous them on the dubious authority of Anthony Eden. I have instead offered the authority of Christ – but this appears to be little regarded by self proclaimed defenders of the faith.

    Muslims do not in general support attacks against civilians. They are just like us in that regard. Unless you are advocating total war against Islam. Start from the facts and build a rational policy to face down the scourge of terrorism. It will continue to happen despite the empty headed sabre rattling of armchair warriors. It will escalate with each desolation as cities fall under the crusader sword. The enemy will fade into the night and emerge again and again in the light of a fiery day. History shows that this is not a war that can be won. What can be done is the patient long game. At home start with intelligent policing – seek peace abroad.

    What is clear from every indicator is that building peace and security is the key to a peaceful civil society. The real solution to terrorism is long term – good governance and economic growth. For which peace and the active pursuit of peace is the foundation.

    http://economicsandpeace.org/research/

    • Lacebug says:

      I can just picture Rob Ellison and Waleed Ally sitting together, playing their guitars (perhaps Rob is on harmonica) and wailing Give Peace A Chance. So sweet.

      • Rob Ellison says:

        Yes that’s the sterling quality of dumbarse commentary we can expect.

        • Lacebug says:

          Dumbarse perhaps, but true nonetheless. I bet you even hang out at the chai tent at Marrickvile markets.

          • Rob Ellison says:

            No really – it is all in your head. It’s a pallid fantasy – you should exercise the imagination a little more – but there it is. It has nothing to do with anything sensible on Marxist-Leninist digging up Christianity, Muslims under the bed, Anthony Eden’s war on Egypt or appeasing Vladimir Putin.

            It all emanates from you and by no means should you confuse your dated fantasy with reality. That way leads to madness. You should really have pursued all those naked hippy chicks in the 1970′s. Perhaps then moving on wouldn’t be such a trial.

        • Jody says:

          No, I actually thought it was quite brilliant. The Left just loves the Bogus Refulgence!!!

          • Rob Ellison says:

            Jody – brilliance is highly overrated – especially where you are concerned it seems. Refulgence is a bird of a different feather. It lacks the immediacy of the Latin verb to shine – it has a false ring, an air of artifice, a clumsiness about it. It seems a word squirreled away and brought out now and then to impress the easily impressed. Intended here it seems to lend a smidgen of gravitas to another mundane insult. The proclivity to think in labels that don’t actually mean anything is the telling point.

            Let’s deconstruct Anthony Eden – a quite unremarkable politician from the middle of last century.

            ‘You may gain temporary appeasement by a policy of concession to violence, but you do not gain lasting peace that way.’

            Positing that as a rational comment is an exercise in empty headed twaddle. Was I not clear enough for you? Did I not express it in simple enough English? I have to admit that the ineptitude of the discourse is such that I sometimes write excruciatingly obscurely just for my own amusement. There being little else to excite my intellect. However – I will try to refrain.

            Terrorism in Australia is a few morons with disturbed minds and the objective of clever policing is to throw them in goal. There the trail runs cold. They are lone wolves or organised in cells. There is no evident organisation that you can then round up – or attack militarily. They disappear into the crowd. Short term only effective intelligence works.

            Longer term rebuilding infrastructure and economies is what works – not a senseless lashing out wildly at an elusive target. This would seem fairly obvious should you managed to rise above fear and hostility.

          • Lacebug says:

            I have s masters degree in English from Sydney Uni and admit to having looked refulgence up in the Macquarie

  13. Lacebug says:

    BTW Rob, peace is so overrated.

  14. Lacebug says:

    Rob, surly you should be out selling copies of the Green Left? As for your assertion that it’s all the work of a couple of mentally deranged lone wolves, how about when that Dutch cartoonist drew some amusing cartoons of the prophet? As I recall it was a lot more than a few lone wolves who emerged from the woodwork and descended on Hyde Park baying for heads.

    • Rob Ellison says:

      I did use the qualifier in Australia. What a waste of a masters in English.

      • Rob Ellison says:

        Oh – I did an honours in Engineering – specialising in hydrology – a masters in Environmental Science – specialising in biogeochemical cycling – leading to a well paid career and lots of tax paid. Again you categorise to no purpose. Because I don’t share – along with most of the rest of us – your fear that because a few British Muslims rioted the hordes are going to descend on your lounge room and blow it up – unless we do *something* and gesticulate wildly with menacing expressions – is neither green nor left. Merely dispassionate, mainstream strategy to define the real enemy and the bend the future to a more peaceful course. You may notice that the real difference is between a paranoid delusional state and – well – the rest of us. Your position is not right wing – it is so far to the fairy fringe that you are collectively disappearing up your own arseholes and can’t of course see it.

      • Lacebug says:

        Hyde park Sydney

        • Rob Ellison says:

          You threw me – it seems to be one of the sillier short films of all time rather than cartoons. Amusing or not. I’d riot on the basis of poor taste alone. While regrettable it is a matter of rounding a few hotheads up. “The Counter Terrorism Squad reported that they had identified a number of men known to have criminal convictions, although not necessarily linked to terrorist groups.[17] Mohammed Issai Issaka was convicted for riot and assaulting police, and after losing an appeal, was jailed in April 2014.[18] Others received suspended sentences for affray and resisting arrest,[19] fines or good behaviour bonds.[20][21] for offenses ranging from assault, damaging property,[22] to offensive language.”

          Not an existential threat.

  15. Lacebug says:

    Rob you’re a well educated man. Surely you don’t believe in Allah, or in the words of a medieval camel herder? Surely you know that it’s all a crock of shit? You need to read Sam Hill. He once said that Islam is the mother lode of bad ideas. I am sure you’d like his eloquence.

  16. Patrick James says:

    Rob, are you a fan of Ron Paul?

  17. Trevor Bailey says:

    Bravo Rob Ellison! You are the gadfly any self-respecting magazine of the Quadrant variety deserves to have. You write with a rhetorical agility & brio that not only challenges my own world view but helps recast some beliefs as more tribal than rational – which is not to say that widely-shared emotional concerns don’t need to be addressed (cue Sir Roger Scruton…). My conservatism is instinctive and chaps like me must be slow to be swayed by clever talk, but I will continue to follow your posts and read with interest the reaction they draw from ‘my lot’.