Monthly Archives: January 2007

One of the speakers at the Enough! launch rally lat night was Sharif Omar, a Palestinian farmer. He told the familiar tale of repression, of how the stringent permit laws and officious permit-issuing authorities prevent his sons from gaining free access to his own farm; of how a man of his sixty years needs help to till the soil to its full yield; and of how he cannot find enough farm workers despite massive unemployment in the Occupied Territories. The labour market, corralled like cattle behind a security ‘fence’, three feet thick.

Listening to all this, the first thought that occurred to me was not the metaphor of animals in cages, the dehumanising of the Palestinians. Rather, it occurred to me that the restrictions described by Mr Omar would be scorned by free-market capitalists and libertarians alike, were they imposed in any other country. Why the silence on Palestine from the Libertarian Right? Or (and this is entirely possible, indeed probable) have I just been reading the wrong blogs?

I guess many people feel uneasy at sympathising with the Palestinian cause because of the distaste they feel for those already a part of the campaign: the despised Left. This is a mistake in their thought process, of course. Imprisoning hundreds of thousands of people in a walled ghetto, or imposing a religion on a populated region by force: The gross immorality of these acts is not mitigated by an ad hominem objection to those who already oppose the occupation.

Last night Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre used the Hugh Cudlipp lecture to the beat the BBC for its stifling political correctness and left-wing bias. (The editors of the Guardian have printed a transcript, presumably to demonstrate their more open and embracing form of liberalism.)

His basic line of argument – that a national, tax-funded media organisation should take care to reflect the opinions of its nation – is pretty hard to refute, even for an unreconstructed auntie lover like me. But, true to form, he still repeatedly manages to make my lower jaw start wobbling in impotent fury.

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Have you ever heard the story of Emperor Norton? It’s one of those bizarre little curiosities of American history, the San Franciscan who declared himself Emperor of the United States (and sometime Protector of Mexico) in 1859 and remarkably found that many of the inhabitants of his home city accepted him as such. He never achieved any real political power in his lifetime, but made himself a nice living as the Emperor, eating for free in the city’s best restaurants (to whom he granted an Imperial seal of approval), getting balcony seats at the theatre and opera, and being saluted by the city’s police officers when he was on his daily walk around the city, inspecting its infrastructure.

I was reading about him recently, and that got me thinking about the British monarchy and how it could benefit from exposure to the free market.
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