February 5, 2003

In Blair's Britain, politically incorrect speech is a crime

The idea that the "allies" – basically, the U.S. and Britain – are two liberal "democracies" that are bound and determined to "liberate" Iraq from the evil repressive Saddam has always been a complete crock. The "rapturists" and the neoconservatives have been demanding Iraq's scalp for years as the price of their support to the GOP, and, as for Tony Blair's Britain, the last time a gas shortage hit that bleak little isle the government was nearly brought down. This rotten war's only connection to "democracy" is that our rulers are buying votes with the blood of their countrymen.

And how "free" are these two paragons of "modernity," anyway? Compared to the Iraqis, we're all free as birds – but is that really the standard we want to use? The U.S. used to be a free society, once upon a time: but then came the welfare state, the warfare state, the Omnipresent State to rule our lives and harass us from cradle to grave. Yes, we still have the Bill of Rights, but, post-9/11, even this bulwark against neo-royalism is cracking. The government can now read our emails, listen in on our phone conversations, lock us up and hold us incommunicado without so much as a by-your-leave. We are now "free" to go to the mall, buy as much junky crap made in China as we please, and then go home and watch "Joe Millionaire" or "American Idol" or whatever the heck it is – as long as we don't make waves. If this is liberty, then give me death.

But America is indeed a bastion of freedom compared to our ally, Great Britain, which is, today, nothing short of a totalitarian state. The news that Taki Theodoracopoulos, the high society columnist and multi-millionaire benefactor and co-editor of The American Conservative, is "under investigation" by Scotland Yard, and may be brought up on charges for a column he wrote in the Spectator confirms what has been pretty apparent all along. They might as well rename the UK "Airstrip One."

We are supposed to believe that "they hate us because we're free" – except, we aren't.

Here is the column deemed potentially criminal by Blair's Thought Police. Although I agree with every word of it, you may not. But disagreeing with someone, and using the State as a club to shut them up, are two very different things. And please don't tell me this "investigation" has nothing to do with Taki's position as publisher of The American Conservative.

Taki is a key figure in the right-wing antiwar movement: TAC has been punching away at Bush-Blair's war plans from the very first issue. The War Party, on the other hand, has been baying for Taki's blood for quite some time. A run-in with publisher Conrad Black, owner of the Spectator, over Israel, just added fuel to the flames: neoconservative Bill Kristol, the War Party's Lenin, denounced him as "loathsome," and this was the signal for a journalistic fatwa. No news account of the founding of TAC was complete without a retelling of the Taki mythos: playboy millionaire once busted for having a little coke in his back pocket teams up with social conservative Pat Buchanan. But in Blairite Britannia, they have more effective ways of dealing with the opposition….

Here is some commie cow in the supposedly antiwar Guardian, denouncing opponents of the war as right-wing "racists":

"If you really think it's better for more people to die over decades under a tyrannical regime than for fewer people to die during a brief attack by an outside power, you're really weird and nationalistic and not any sort of socialist that I recognize. And that's where you link up with all those nasty rightwing columnists who are so opposed to fighting Iraq; they, too, believe that the lives of a thousand colored chappies aren't worth the death of one British soldier."

Either take up the white man's burden, or you're a "racist" – never has a more pathetic argument been made on behalf of a war. There is no doubt this bloodthirsty shrew means Taki: how many right-wing columnists are left in the Orwellian society that is today's Great Britain? Just listen to this little Leninist's tiresome tirade:

"Military inaction, unless in the defense of one's own country, is the most extreme form of narcissism and nationalism; people who preach it are the exact opposite of the International Brigade, and that's so not a good look."

Well, then, you know she's right: I, for one, am on the other side of the barricades from the International Brigade – a military force controlled by Stalin's Comintern, and organized to impose a Soviet dictatorship on hapless Spain. I don't think that little red star on their caps was a good look at all. As for "narcissism," it's odd to hear this charge coming from someone whose main concern in life seems to be preening in the immaculate robes of her own moral purity. I'd like to put her in the front lines in Iraq, alongside the British Special Forces – in the interests of "women's liberation," of course.

The British Left, dominated by the Blairites, is certainly not coming to Taki's defense – and don't expect the others (various Trotskyoids, miscellaneous lefties, and black-clad "anarchists") to raise a word of protest. Never mind the totally useless Tories: the Spectator's editor, one Boris Johnson, a Tory MP, is groveling and declaring that the column should never have been published. We are talking, after all, about a country where a newspaper columnist who gave a speech in defense of hunting was arrested for "hate speech" – with nary a peep out of anyone save the few libertarians who haven't emigrated to the U.S.

Robin Page, a columnist for the Daily Telegraph and an ardent champion of farmer's and "countryside" rights, was arrested last November, accused of making "racist" remarks in a speech urging people to attend the massive Liberty and Livelihood march in London. The BBC reported:

"Several people complained to police about his speech, in which he allegedly said supporters of the traditional country way of life should be given the same rights as blacks, Muslims and gays."

How dare anyone suggest that supporters of tradition are morally equal to the officially-sanctioned victim groups? Surely this is "hate speech" of the most reprehensible sort! Lock him up and throw away the key!

Poor Mr. Page seemed truly baffled by his arrest:

"I believe country people should have the same rights and protection under the law as any other minority group in a multi-cultural society. It is beyond my comprehension that I am not allowed to say that in a public place, where I was invited on to private land."

But there is nothing "private" under socialism: not your land, not your larynx, not even your thoughts. And so it is not at all "incomprehensible" that Page was arrested for having politically incorrect ideas and the will to express them. They got him under the same "Public Order Act" that they're using to railroad Taki: a totalitarian measure that gives the British government the power to charge and jail anyone who is "inciting racial hatred" or "homophobia." Here's what the British government has to say about the definition of a "racist incident" prosecutable under the 1994 version of the Act:

"A racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person."

Under this legal rubric, plainclothes police routinely troll pubs in hopes of hearing "racist" or "homophobic" remarks, so they can slap on the hand-cuffs and cart these reactionary miscreants off to jail. One hundred and fifty people were recently rounded up in a police "sweep" of suspected racists and homophobes. To an American, what is happening in the land of our great "democratic" ally is nightmarish: to a Brit, it is everyday life in a society that was never quite free, and is less so now than at any other time since the signing of the Magna Carta.

According to a bemused account of the targeting of Taki in the Independent:

"The investigation was triggered by a complaint from Peter Herbert, a lawyer and member of the Metropolitan Police Authority. The Yard's Diversity Directorate will assess whether the piece incites racial hatred and thereby breaks the Public Order Act, for which the maximum sentence is two years."

The "Diversity Directorate" sounds like something out of a very bad science fiction novel, or perhaps something one might find on late-night television. But that's reality for you. Is it really true that something known as the "Diversity Directorate" is monitoring the speech of the formerly free peoples of the British isles, ready to pounce at the first sign of "hate" or "incitement"? To heck with "liberating" Iraq – I say, let's free the United Kingdom.

If I were the Commander-in-chief, I would present the Brits with an even sterner version of the ultimatum we're now handing to Saddam: either lay off your own people, or get yourself into an air raid shelter. Drop the charges against Taki, or we drop a few bombs that will make short work of the "Diversity Directorate."

I'm anti-imperialist, but not in the least bit pacifistic, so don't go writing me complaining letters. The militant "transnational progressivism" of Blair and his American compadres is even more dangerous than the "benevolent world hegemony" dreamed up by the neoconservative wing of the War Party. It is dangerous because it is the last, and the deadliest, tentacle of the socialist octopus, one that did not die with the fall of the Kremlin but instead took on a life of its own. John Ashcroft still has to overcome a lot of legal and political obstacles before they can close down The American Conservative in this country. But in Merrie Olde England, whose libertarian revolution was crushed beneath the weight of empire, they don't have a Bill of Rights: heck, they don't even have a constitution. They can go after the publisher and chief financial angel to The American Conservative, in a transparent attempt to silence an eloquent voice raised against this war, with impunity. And so they have….

What is to be done? Friends of liberty and peace everywhere can take three specific actions:

1. Boycott British goods. As long as the Blair government is intent on jailing its critics, free people everywhere should exercise their power of choice by choosing not to subsidize Blairism. Let that preening posturing neo-Stalinist stop blathering about "democracy" and the "liberation" of Iraq, and start noticing that his arrogance comes with a price tag.

2. Support TAC. In a few days you'll be getting a promotional letter from me describing all the great antiwar articles published in The American Conservative, and touting the magazine as a must-read. Now that they're going after its publisher and financial mainstay, you have an extra added reason to subscribe. Not out of agreement with their editorial stance, necessarily, but out of sheer curiosity at why they're trying to shut it down. If Tony Blair hates it, it's got to be good.

3. Contact Mr. Peter Herbert, the totalitarian prick directly responsible for this outrage against the standards of a free and civilized society, and give him a good piece of your mind:

Telephone: 020 7202 0184
Email: membersservices@mpa.gov.uk

Please – don't be polite about it. Oh, and be sure to tell him Justin Raimondo sent you….

– Justin Raimondo

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard.

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