20 May 2022: Birth data: A Galician success; Bloody weather; Bloody bad custom; Ukraine mentions; Bloody pugs; & Other stuff.

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Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Covid consequence?

Here in Pontevedra, ‘gender violence’ grew by 20% last year. So far this year, it’s been even worse.

Cosas de España/Galiza   

News that surprises me at least.

I see the Galician entry did very well in the recent Liet Internationala song contest for musicians who speak any of Europe’s regional or minority languages. Its goal is to boost interest in Europe’s minority languages, especially with young people. According to the Diario de Pontevedra: Este festival é fermosísimo e ten moito máis valor que Eurovisión. Not too difficult, IMHO.

I moaned about the rain and the 15 degree drop in temperature but it’ll be 26 in Pontevedra city today and 36 up in Ourense in the Miño basin. My daughter tells me it was only 33 in Madrid yesterday.

Another moan . .  I went to pick up wine order at 11 yesterday, to find the shop closed. The dreaded Spanish institution – the coffee-break? I’ll try at 11.45 today.

The UK 

The Guardian’s political commentator, John Crace, is always great value. These days he refers to Boris Johnson as ‘The Convict’ and to the pugnacious Foreign Secretary as ‘Priti Vacant’. Here’s a couple of quotes:-

– Sad but true . . . Boris Johnson has the knack of bringing everyone down to his level in the end. Corrupt, narcissistic, incompetent. The foreign secretary is just the latest – if entirely complicit – victim in this.  

The attorney-general is one of the dimmest lawyers around. The kind of lawyer that none of her peers would even trust to witness a passport photo. She is totally compliant and will say whatever is required. Which is why Johnson values her.

Johnson is so short of answers, he can no longer form complete sentences. He is decomposing before our eyes. Being prime minister is something beyond his shallow talents. 

Ukraine

Strange to relate, pre-invasion Ukraine has popped up in 3 books I’ve read in the last month:-

1. Moneyland. As a good example of oligarch power and massive corruption.

2. Threats of Pain and Ruin. In one of Theodore Dalrymple’s articles therein. About a 19th century swindler called Stavinsky 

3. The Netanhayus: As the birthplace of one of the parents of the narrator.

Quite a coincidence.

The USA 

Two articles below on what seems to be an increasingly benighted country:-

Racist ‘replacement’ theory has to be quashed. Fear of an anti-white conspiracy drove the Buffalo shooter and is being flirted with by mainstream US politicians.

Extremism pushes the US towards dystopia. Democrat attempts to smear conservatives by weaponising the Buffalo massacre show the darkening of political debate

The Way of the World

The dog I love to hate . . . Once celebrated among high society as the perfect pet, more than a century of intensive breeding has left pugs with grossly distorted features: flattened muzzles enveloped in folds of wrinkles that are prone to infection and leave the dogs with severe respiratory issues; protruding eyes at risk of developing ulcers or sometimes being lost altogether due to an inability to properly blink; and weak, stumpy legs susceptible to buckling under the dog’s increasing weight. There’s more! . . . That tightly curled tail is the result of abnormalities being bred into the spine which leaves the pug significantly weaker. As for the renowned ‘smile’ and lolling tongue, this is simply the animal struggling to breathe. If we can’t shoot the dogs, can we at least shoot the breeders???

Quote of the Day

We shouldn’t be pretending it’s fine to be fat. Shying away from any hint of body shaming feeds the obesity crisis. Easy for me to endorse; I was a ‘9 stone weakling’ and still wear the 32″ waist trousers I bought 25 years ago. From time to time . . .

Finally . . .

To amuse . . .

For new reader(s): If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. If you’re passing through Pontevedra on the Camino, you’ll find a guide to the city there.

THE ARTICLES

Racist ‘replacement’ theory has to be quashed. Fear of an anti-white conspiracy drove the Buffalo shooter and is being flirted with by mainstream US politicians: David Aaronovitch, The Times

Sometimes when someone tells you why they’ve done something terrible — like a mass shooting, for example — the safest thing to do is to take them at their word.

Last Saturday an 18-year-old white boy went heavily armed into a shopping centre in Buffalo, New York, and shot dead ten people he’d never met before. He posted on an online chat app that he’d chosen the killing place because it had the highest percentage of black people living and working in it in close enough proximity to where he lived. In a 180-page screed written to accompany his massacre he alluded to his belief that something called “The Great Replacement” was taking place, in which American whites were being supplanted by people of other colours and ethnicities. This, he believed, had to be resisted.

I won’t name him and in any case he was just the latest in a bloody line of white men who, in various countries over the last decade, have murdered the innocent in the name of stopping this non-existent threat to the white race. There was the Pittsburgh synagogue killer in 2018, the El Paso and Christchurch mass murderers of 2019, the boy who killed the worshippers in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston in 2015. As I write this, in some suburban bedroom somewhere a young white man is planning his own death spree in the name of preventing white genocide.

As is now the fashion with half-baked or absurd propositions, this notion of “replacement” has been dignified with being a theory, and even attributed to a theorist. As I wrote here recently the French author of the 2011 book The Great Replacement, Renaud Camus, is “a gay former leftist who underwent a negative epiphany when he saw women in hijabs beside a Gothic church in a 1,000-year-old French village”.

Just because something is written in French by a gay man doesn’t make it intellectual. Camus’s argument — that foreigners and especially Muslims were being deliberately imported into Europe by a deracinated global elite to replace the indigenous white, Christian populations — when boiled down has all the subtlety of a half-brick across the back of the head.

And it’s not new, either. Similarly stripped to essentials and in all its incarnations over the years, “replacement theory” has this one hypothesis: that “our” values and existence are under threat from a tide of foreign or domestic aliens, deliberately enabled by a treacherous elite. The values can be various (Christianity, patriotism, the western way of life), the exact human tide can differ (Muslims, “Third World” migrants, urban blacks) the elite can be discerned in all kinds of ways (Hollywood, academia, Democrats, Jews) but the underlying structure and appeal of the “theory” is always the same.

It goes back a long way. In 1966, for example, Playboy magazine carried an improbable interview between the black author of Roots, Alex Haley, and George Lincoln Rockwell, the leader of the American Nazi party. In it Rockwell condemned Jewish geneticists. They had, he said, hidden the fact of the black man’s inferiority in order to gull white Americans into “letting him eat in our restaurants, study in our schools, move into our neighbourhoods”.

“The next inevitable step,” Rockwell added, “is to take him into our beds — and this would lead to the mongrelisation, and hence the destruction, of the white race.”

So where did Rockwell get this from? In fact it was a staple of the US segregationist far right in the 1950s, which viewed moves for civil rights for American blacks as having been sponsored by urban New York Jews.

And naturally, a version of this, written by you-know-who, had appeared in Germany in 1923. In Mein Kampf Adolf Hitler wrote of how African soldiers serving with the French occupiers of industrial parts of Germany were impregnating Aryan maidens. “It was and it is Jews,” he asserted, “who bring the Negroes into the Rhineland, always with the same secret thought and clear aim of ruining the hated white race by the necessarily resulting bastardisation, throwing it down from its cultural and political height.”

It has suited some American commentators on the right to warn against reading too much into the words of the Buffalo murderer. He is, they say, clearly mentally ill. But why is it that “mental illness” should repeatedly take this particular form? Why is there this common story these killers seem to believe and which is the reason they give for killing?

Parts of the left can be hugely irritating, a few occasionally violent and many too often intolerant. But no one has ever massacred a shopping centre full of ordinary folk because the killer believes we should be taking in more refugees, or an election hustings because of what the evil government is failing to do about poverty or global warming. But the idea that “they” are conspiring to replace “us” with the other “them”? That reason for mass killing happens a lot. In the past ten years three quarters of politically inspired murderers in the US have been from the far right.

Now, I am not a believer in what someone once called “clunk-click determinism” — that if someone says X that automatically leads down the road to a killing. But nor can I possibly accept that there is no link at all. And I note that in Europe to a degree and in America to an alarming extent, quasi-respectable versions of replacement notions have gone mainstream. We reported yesterday on the 2021 claim by the popular US TV commentator Tucker Carlson, telling his millions of viewers that it was “true” and “happening, actually” that the “Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World”.

Carlson is far from alone. To the alarm of Republicans like Liz Cheney (who used to be regarded as on the centre right of her party) the GOP seems to have taken replacement ideas to its neo-Trumpian heart. In New York one runs campaign adverts claiming that Democrats aim to let felons vote so as to “overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington”. In Ohio another, the author JD Vance, talks of how Joe Biden deliberately leaves border defences weak so as to facilitate “more Democrat voters pouring into this country”.

Go back to that boy in his bedroom. At any time this talk is at best unsavoury and even dangerous. In an era of war, climate threats and economic dislocation, it feels almost incendiary. Unless Republicans — on target to win the congressional mid-terms in November — run their own internal Prevent strategy soon, colour me scared.

2. Extremism pushes the US towards dystopia. Democrat attempts to smear conservatives by weaponising the Buffalo massacre show the darkening of political debate: Gerard Baker, The Times

Part of the grotesque asymmetry of evil such as that which unfolded last weekend in Buffalo, New York, is that the names of mass murderers are often etched in our memories while those they kill remain virtually anonymous.

So I won’t mention the name of the man who shot dead ten and wounded three people shopping at a supermarket on a spring afternoon. You can find it anywhere, of course. Try instead to remember Ruth Whitfield, an 86-year-old victim, a wife, mother and grandmother who stopped off for groceries after visiting her ailing husband in a nursing home.

While we can do our best to deprive the monsters of the attention they seek, we must not ignore the motivations that drove them. Ms Whitfield’s offence, in the twisted mind of her murderer, was to be black. In the long, often incoherent but at times chillingly lucid manifesto he posted online, the killer described his radicalisation in the cause of white supremacy — in particular, an embrace of “great replacement” theory, the idea that a cabal of political and cultural leaders are flooding the US and other countries with black and brown immigrants to disempower and ultimately overwhelm the white population.

The malevolent idiocies of this idea are well documented. Perhaps we can just note the grim irony that the killer’s victims were no more immigrants than he was. Indeed their families had probably lived here far longer than his, the key difference being that their ancestors had been forcibly removed here centuries ago in servitude to the white population.

Another asymmetry that now attends acts of horror such as Buffalo is in the obligatory political exploitation of them. Democrats, perhaps searching for a chance to turn an ebbing political tide, seized on the killer’s screed as an opportunity to blame their opponents. Chuck Schumer, the party’s leader in the Senate, directly implicated Republicans and conservative commentators on Fox News (which, like this newspaper, is ultimately owned by a company led by Rupert Murdoch and his family) in the murders. “These hard-right MAGA Republicans argue that people of colour and minority communities are somehow posing a threat — a threat — to the American way of life,” he said in the Senate.

This is dishonest political opportunism. For one thing, the killer’s screed does not suggest a mind formed by conservatives in a particular ideological direction. Developed in the mental and physical isolation of Covid lockdowns, evidently fuelled not by television news but a wild brew of internet conspiracy theorists, his commentary in fact denounces conservatives, is dominated by an idea of environmental purity — he extols a “green nationalism” — and, in the only reference to Fox News through a curious infographic, appears to argue that the network is part of a supposedly Jewish/Christian Zionist conspiracy to undermine America.

More importantly, the now routine and opportunistic logic-chopping elision made between the speech of politicians and commentators and acts of violence by deranged individuals is a crude attempt to delegitimise heterodox opinion. The idea that conservatives who point out the perils of mass immigration and espouse legal measures to tackle it are somehow responsible for the vile behaviour of those who massacre a number of, as it happens, non-immigrants, is preposterous.

It is also a logic that somehow never seems to apply to the other side. Five years ago, an avowed supporter of Bernie Sanders, the far-left Democratic senator, shot and almost killed a number of Republican congressmen at a softball game. It later emerged he was also an admirer of Rachel Maddow, a presenter on the left-wing TV network MSNBC, perhaps the most famous progressive voice in the US media. No one then sought to blame Sanders or Maddow. They were no more responsible for the man’s actions than were Fox News hosts or Republican leaders for what happened in Buffalo.

The despicable violence last weekend and the drearily inevitable response underscore a deepening and threatening dystopia in American life: a rapidly darkening toxicity of political discourse, especially on the most explosive issue of race.

There is no doubt the voices of white supremacist proponents and sympathisers have grown louder and more heeded in the last few years. A small but growing number of Republicans seem eager to associate themselves. In February two members of Congress attended a conference organised by Nick Fuentes, a far-right activist who embraces replacement theory and has articulated openly racist and antisemitic tropes. One of them subsequently suggested his appearance was the result of a “miscommunication”.

But it would be dishonest to pretend the racial debate in this country is not increasingly characterised by extremism on both sides. Racism used to be understood for what it was: exactly the kind of depraved derangement that leads men like the Buffalo gunman to murder black people. But racism is now apparently to be understood as something much more pervasive, endemic in the soul of America and rooted in just about every white person. “Whiteness accountability” is a thing in colleges, workplaces and elsewhere in which white people are encouraged, in some cases mandated, to account for and atone for the colour of their skin.

No one should oppose the continued effort to expiate the deep sins of racial intolerance that have scarred America throughout its history. But when that effort becomes a new form of racism itself it only risks further poisoning the toxicity of a rapidly deteriorating national discourse.

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