Friday, February 10, 2006

Some Solidarity From This Week’s Conversations

. . . he was brought up always to help the weak; because he knew what it felt like to be the underdog; because his faith taught him to open his door to the homeless, the refugee - and, more simply, because a voice inside him said he had to do it, otherwise he would no longer be himself.

That’s is how the Dutch farmer Bill Bouwma answered questions about why he and his family chose to risk their lives by sheltering Jews from the Nazis during the 1940s. The quotation is from the book Solidarity in the Conversation of Humankind, by the British writer and thinker Norm Geras.

This past week, Norm started posting excerpts from that most timely book’s first chapter on his web log, and they’ll continue in the coming days there.

Yet when the vanguard of those chosen by history, blood or God look around them, they find that the blessed are not marching towards Utopia. How can this be? The only acceptable answer is: “them”. The people who work in the dark. The conspirators who corrupt the blessed, spread disorder in society, who turn women against men and children against their parents. No violence is too great to free the blessed from those who pervert them, for when they are freed an earthly paradise awaits them.

It’s an insane story, and one that has produced tens of millions of corpses. To think it died with the 20th century is pure folly.

Those last two paragraphs are from an essay by Nick Cohen, one the bravest public voices on the English-speaking Left, anywhere in the world. It appeared in the New Statesman this week and you can read it on Nick’s web log.

Speaking of Brits, here’s the thoughts of a proud Londoner:

This city is scattered with Radio SW Africas. The main Saudi Arabian opposition station broadcasts from a semi in Fulham. The Falun Gong dissidents broadcast to China from Packham. The Statue of Liberty describes New York City as a haven for the “huddled masses yearning to breath free,” but London goes one better: it is where the world’s huddled masses try to make the world free, one radio station at a time. Yes still the British right savages asylum seekers, claiming people like Gerry and Lance come here for the lavish £40-a-week given to asylum seekers. Do the refugee-bashers of the right really want to pack these freedom fighters on the first boat back to their tyrants?

That’s from one of my favorite writers, Johann Hari, from his column in Wednesday’s Evening Standard. Johann’s blog is here.


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