Sunday 19 September 2010

An Open Letter to the Guardian Letter Writers of 15th September and other anti-Pope visiting schmucks.

Dear Guardian-letter-signing, so-called, 'public intellectuals'
(and other pain-in-the-ass commentatorswho have expressed or agree with the same arguments),

The Pope's visit has brought out some of the dumbest public and political commentary I have heard for a while. Particularly from yourselves. I'd hoped with the election gone we'd be spared this level of stupid for a while, but no. Though, to be honest, the debate on public spending was already keeping the choo-choo train of opinionated ignorance firmly on the tracks.

You would actually have managed to be more coherent if you just stated you don't approve of the Pope coming to Britain, and simply do not want him to come and process through the streets to cheering crowds. That would at least have been consistent. Of course the response would have been that it was ridiculously arrogant of you to assume anyone cares whether a handful of self-appointed busybodies want him to come, and he wasn't coming to see you anyway.

You could even have said you disagreed with some official positions of the Catholic Church but saw this as a chance to open a rational dialogue and have greater public discussion of issues that are of central importance to mankind. But that would have required an adult disposition and a genuine desire for discussion and understanding, rather than childish name-calling, and that sounds like hard work, doesn't it.

However, sadly, thanks to your faux-liberal commitment you felt unable to state what is pretty obviously actually your wish, and instead claimed you were happy for him to come but merely had a few procedural problems with the form of his visit. Unfortunately these problems are total nonsense, and so you just made yourselves look dumber than otherwise, in an attempt to appear like you were expressing something more generally relevant than your own personal dislike of Catholicism.

Arguing that a generally recognised political state is not a state, just because it is momentarily politically inconvenient for you, is pretty moronic. I personally don't like the fact that Communist China is considered a state, and I wouldn't like the fact that the Soviet Union was considered a state, if it was not that collapsed when I was three years old. Before the Iraq War I was deeply irritated by people arguing that Saddam Hussein's government's held any legitimacy at all, since it was a genocidal, undemocratic, neo-Nazi tyranny. I consider all these regimes to be violent, murderous and entirely lacking in any democratic and popular legitimacy.

However, in none of these cases do my personal preferences affect, one jot, the plain facts of the world. One can only be astonished at the arrogance of a few figures (I'm looking at you Stephen Fry) who have apparently suddenly become experts in International law and early 20th Century Italian History. It is incredible you seem to think the global weight of governments, civil servants, legal scholars and peoples should bow  before your inane and often inaccurate trivia and re-assemble Inter-nationally recognised political facts and realities for your convenience.

The next most ridiculous thing has been the suddenly discovered outrage about waste in public spending, namely the £10 million cost for the Pope's visit. We spend 2/3 of that policing the Notting Hill carnival for God's sake, let alone football matches up and down the country. Not to mention the billions we waste each year on public bureaucracy, spin, pet projects, subsidies for opera and goodness knows what else. Indeed, a whole list of things of considerably less use and public interest than a chance to engage with the spiritual leader of 1/6th of the world's population, the largest popular organisation in the world, and around 2 million people in the UK at the moment. Living in a democracy means that your money gets spent on things you don't agree with, or wouldn't bother spending it on yourselves: Tough. If people don't like it they are free to leave the country, or perhaps blame Gordon Brown since he invited the Pope on a State Visit in the first place.

And let us not forget the sheer hypocrisy of making such a fuss about the Pope coming but not batting an eyelid about, say, the President of China, the King of Saudi Arabia, the President of Ghana, the President of Russia, the King of Jordan, the former President of South Africa, the President of China again a couple of times, the President of Israel. All of whom head regimes that actually officially engage in violent, human rights abuses. One can only get the impression this is more to do with the Pope's religion, and some persons' bigotry towards it (or that he represents one at all) rather than the moral record of the state he leads.

Because God forbid you actually try to open up a dialogue or engage in some adult and rational debate and discussion, instead of just ranting and raving and name-calling like children throwing a temper tantrum. But that wouldn't allow you to feel so self-righteous. Referring to him as "Pope Ratzinger" in your letter is particularly weak. I'd have thought that deliberately getting someone's name wrong to show disrespect was a childish affectation that would have been abandoned in secondary school. If you are actually that ignorant then it's 'Pope Benedict' or even 'Joseph Ratzinger', something that 30 seconds (its called Google) would have sufficed to discover, even if you'd never heard of the Pope before.

Which brings me to my last point. Even if you can not respect the Pope's positions on many of these issues, then you should be able to respect the importance he has, in part, in carrying the hopes and representing the beliefs of millions of good, honest, kind, thoughtful and decent people in this country and a billion more around the globe. But in too many of you this criticism is a poorly disguised front for sheer anti-Catholic bigotry, that comes out into the open in the de-humanising and hate-filled language employed on too many other occasions. Sometimes reaching the insane culmination of blaming Joseph Ratzinger personally for Aids, every individual act of child abuse and the devastation of the planet through over-population, among other paranoid ravings.

In summary, you're all idiots. Rarely has a part of my own country's 'cultural elite' made me want to reach so thoroughly and quickly for the sick bucket. You provide yet further proof of the wisdom of democracy: that no matter how well qualified, publicly acclaimed, or usually charming (looking at you again Mr Fry) a person may be, they are still prone to bouts of being an utter moron. How very egalitarian of you. Please stop embarrassing yourselves and your country. It's tiring.

Yours Sincerely,
Stephen Wigmore


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