Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The BBC's mudhut thread (not).

In 11 photos deemed by the BBC to represent African architecture, they were so keen to avoid the old stereotype about African buildings that the only photo of the typical dwelling -at least sub-sahara- the mud hut, was taken from inside, shot through a window. The limited view this gives is insufficient to get any idea of the classic staple dwelling of African life.

The twee PC narrowness of all this strikes me particularly forcibly since I was recently reunited with my large collection of Kenya photos, gained while living there seven years ago. I have mud huts galore, teeming compounds, ancient defensive structures, newly built churches, valleys gleaming with tin roofed huts. I also remember shiny clean smooth and cool concrete flooring, rafters in some buildings, raised maize barns; there was something of a genre but with more variations than you could express in words.

I wish I were in a position to download some photos, but here is an inferior example. However, I am sickened that the BBC is so narrow-minded as to think that showing the reality of African architecture in a more balanced way would be prejudicial against Africans. I don't really care if they would get complaints from Africans themselves, since the real African-in-nature so to speak would be unlikely to be among the complainants, while it is our BBC, and we deserve to know how others live. Architecture, I am sure many trendy enough architects would say, is about living spaces. The BBC have ignored the living spaces of Africans in favour of some political correctness. And that is typical.

Knowledge is key. I slept in many a mud hut and I loved many of them. Cool, calm, airy, sometimes even reasonably light. One has to bear in mind the warm temperatures and the hot, intense sun. Many was the time I sheltered beneath the drooping eaves of a mud hut. True, some were dirty, but most were not, and that's just as it is anywhere when it comes to interiors. Most were tidier than my current flat, anyway.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Aunty Got Bigger.

Back in the day, pre-internet, when I was at school, I was involved in a debate on capital punishment. I was leading a motion that This House Believes in the Death Penalty. The opposition was led by a national public speaking champion who was also quite a nice looking girl. Well, I won from behind in the voting on that evening and felt incredible, especially enlightening the young lady in the pub afterwards as to why and how I had won, and why that was A Good Thing.

I have to say I didn't expect to win, partly because of the fashionable humanist lethargy which people seemed to breathe in from media like the Beeb, but was pretty passionate about it and somehow, maybe through bluster behind some rock solid factual points, I managed it.

But I've been wondering if I could have won today, when the Beeb has on offer a free debater's anti-death penalty pack. That's how the Beeb's influence has crept along since that time. It's a shame people will think twice about thinking the issue through on their own when they know the opposition could have a ready made, Beeb-shaped crib sheet.

Don't think it would have stopped me though.

Monday, April 24, 2006

According to the BBC, Bin Laden's call for Holy War to Sudan and Hamas 'fell on deaf ears'.

The trouble is, do they need any hints from Osama? They seem to have the idea pretty well themselves.

The above link is to a story about violence spreading from Western Sudan. Although Chad itself is a majority Muslim country, that very situation tells me that it must be a moderate one- since there is a sizeable Christian minority and no civil war. And being moderate these days just isn't good enough for the A-list Jihadis. Additionally, it's been clear to me for some time what the Jihadi aim is in North Africa: obviously they want an Islamic caliphate stretching across Africa from Nigeria to Sudan, and extending South from there.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Spastic Beeb (no I'm not being offensive for the sake of it- read on)

I came across this BBC whimsy recently- a little dig at Dutch Prime Minister Jens Peter Balkenende.

Now these things always intrigue me because there are numerous little embarrassments or moments of supposed self-revelation, gaffes and the like, going on continually all over- so what, I ask, makes the BBC choose one over another?

Well obviously if the gaffe concerned GWB that would not be a sensible question, but sometimes in other cases it's interesting.

Aside from the fact that Balkenende is a 'devout Calvinist'- meaning, I imagine, that he is one, in BBC speak; aside from that it may just have to do with another recent focus of BBC interest: a study which basically condemned Dutch society as intolerant and, regarding such matters as assimilation of Sharia law, 'spastic'.

As DFH pointed out, when the BBC report the controversy they prioritised the story rather strangely. Instead of leading with the specifics which have caused controversy, for example the recommendation to accommodate sharia law, and that to negotiate with terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbullah internationally, the BBC merely reported that 'A new report submitted to the Dutch government has sparked controversy by arguing that Islam does not conflict with either human rights or Dutch values.'

It seems to me that most of the public would say that being 'not in conflict' with Islam is not the same thing as allowing for the incorporation of its laws or the endorsement of its goals. Although the BBC report later in the article about 'reaching out' to Islamofascists (actually, believe it or not, not the word they used), this is not presented as a cause of controversy, when it was. Indeed, it was not incidental to the report's impact, but central to it. If the summary headline contradicts the main story then the headline is wrong.

It seems the BBC think that Holland has got a touch of the Denmarks- ie., that the Dutch are tending towards 'bigotry' too. The next thing you know they'll be drawing naughty cartoons. As the BBC say:

'In a country traditionally seen as one of the most liberal and tolerant in Europe, Islam and Muslims are now viewed with suspicion.'

What is wrong with this sentence is that it dogmatically places an historically conditioned notion of tolerance (the old easy come-easy go immigration-led multi-culti merry-go-round) in opposition to latter day Dutch 'suspicion'. If things have deteriorated, I would ask who has caused the deterioration (a link off the sidebar to an article about the murder of Theo Van Gogh may give a clue)

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