Congratulations on your issue on Television (NI 119). especially the item on the Falklands War. It is a sad commentary on the state of British journalism that almost the entire media accepted the Government’s diktats and withheld uncomfortable facts from the British people. I do not have any great faith that the Franks Commission will expose the truth either.
Unlike democracies such as America or Israel. who conducted rigorous examinations of the facts on Watergate and the Beirut massacres, British enquiries usually hide the truth rather than expose it and our newspapers show little inclination for investigative journalism.
The drift towards intolerance and totalitarianism seems inexorable and should Mrs. Thatcher be re-elected then the process will be irreversible.
David J Willis
In the article ‘On Love’ by Jill Tweedie ( December NI). I noted the use of the phrase being ‘true to oneself. This phrase has been increasingly used to mean some sort of modern-day liberating virtue.
If I was true to myself I would drink Nescafe because I like it, rather than Campaign Coffee. I would buy a bottle of expensive perfume to make me feel like a film star instead of giving donations to good causes. I would lie in bed on Saturday mornings instead of taking Tearcraft or Traidcraft goods to the local church coffee morning.
I am sure your readers are not being true to just themselves when they go out to Peace movement rallies, go overseas to give their services or when they make any stand for a different world. Most of us are trying to be less self-indulgent so that others in the world can have a better chance in life. I just hope being true to oneself doesn’t catch on or else New Internationalist won’t have much of a readership left!
The picture on page 25 of your December issue is utterly sexist and offensive. I dare say you justified it to yourself by reference to the accompanying satirical text, but I shouldn’t have to tell you that stereotypical illustrations of women as fat and vacuous and falling out of bikinis carry their own, much more immediate message. I think that you owe an apology to all your women readers — come to that, to all your non-sexist male readers too.
Ed: I’m afraid we take our readers’ sensitivity for granted— but I agree with Ms Crowe. This time we went too far.
Bouquet of barbed wire
The issue on Mum, Dad and the Kids (December NI), was an eye-opener. Special thanks to Debbie Taylor:
1. for the information that the average British housewife works 77 hours per week (my wife now feels quite privileged, since she works closer to the more authoritative figure of 46).
2. for the suggestion that hard-pressed peasants cannot afford personal feelings (I always knew these people were incapable of refined emotions).
3. for the revelation that in a society without marriage. children would ‘belong’ to women (an excellent way of avoiding messy custodial problems after divorce!).
4. for the perceptive insight that it is all just an arbitrary game’ (anyone want to play cannibalism?).
But I cannot understand why you gave space to Kathleen McDonnell’s article. Doesn’t she realise her sensible, balanced approach will give feminism a bad name.
I was recently at a talk given by a leading expert on the law of the Peoples of China
He asserted that crime in China is dealt with on three different levels. The least important offences are dealt with by the police, who can send offenders to work in detention centres. Slightly more important offences go before the prosecuting authorities which can, without trial, send offenders to detention centres. The worse thing that can happen to a Chinese person is to be tried before a court, ‘culpability’ is assured and sentences are bound to be heavy and infamous in the eyes of the people.
Although it may be shocking for us occidentals that someone may be locked up without trial, the Chinese attitude towards justice is a fact to be reckoned with: an ethnocentric attitude won’t get us very far.
The Middle People
A profile of one quarter of mankind is a formidable undertaking. You did well to get such an authority as John Gittings to write the one on China. The first British diplomat to spend any time in China wrote, ‘nothing could be more fallacious than to compare anything in China with the standards of Europe.’ That is still true.
Chinese civilisation is different and their history is unique. Words like ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’, ‘communism’. ‘socialism’ need careful definition when applied to China. The late Malcolm MacDonald, with experience in China from 1929 to 1979. described the Chinese as ‘an immense multitude of intelligent and instinctively individualist though customarily well-disciplined people’. This thoughtful generalisation is good to keep in mind when comparing the ‘Middle People’ (the Chinese name for their nation) with other peoples.
Essex, United Kingdom.
(author of several books in collaboration with Chinese authors).
Grounds for support
Having supported Campaign Coffee from its beginning I was disappointed to read Brian Cooksey’s opinion (Letters, December NI) that purchase of this coffee does not directly help the Tanzanian coffee growers. However, even if this view is accurate. I shall continue to buy this coffee as I consider that one is helping the Third World more by doing so than by buying one of the popular brands. Also it is the best instant coffee I have tasted.
But I would like to see more opportunities to support Third World producers. One way would be through a consumers co-operative to import goods from Third World countries at prices which would give a reasonable return to the producers. These goods could be retailed in ‘alternative’ shops where people with a con-science could shop knowing that they were not exploiting anyone: I would be happy to pay up to 50 per cent above supermarket prices for such things.
That the Afrikaners’ allegedly ‘Christian’ Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa could be so inhumanly racist as to reserve the Biblical injunction of ‘be fruitful and multiply’ only for white members of the human race (‘White Baby Shortage’. January NI) may seem incredible to many of your readers. But there are two basic factors involved which usefully demonstrate the horrific lengths to which many white Christians will go in perverting Christianity to racist ends.
The first lies in the Afrikaner missionary custom of forcing black converts to refer to Christ and His disciples as ‘Boss Jesus. Boss Peter, Boss John’ and so on. On the pretext that ‘all these divine people are white, so you must show respect to them as you do to all whites by calling them all “Boss”.’
The other factor is ironically a related one, expressed succinctly by a black ex-clergyman I knew in South Africa: ‘The Jews of Christ’s time were too dark to pass a modern South African race classification test as Whites. So Christ Himself would be thrown out of most South African churches. How can I continue to belong to a religion which commits the ultimate blasphemy of rejecting its own Deity as racially inferior?’.
Just not cricket
Mr Gamini Dissanayake (Update. January NI), certainly chose an unfortunate turn of phrase when describing the Sri Lankan cricketers who had slipped out of the country to play in South Africa I quote, ‘The lepers who are surreptitiously worming their way to South Africa must understand that they are not playing fair by the entire coloured world.’
Mr Dissanayake is himself not playing fair — the analogy of lepers ‘worming their way’ does nothing to eradicate the very harmful stigma surrounding this disease. Leprosy is a curable bacterial disease but its sufferers have been ostracised from society through the centuries.
Dorothy & Alastair McIntosh,
Charity Research & Consultancy
The Phoenix Theatre Company is preparing a production about the involvement of several Leicester men who fought with the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. The production will be based primarily on interviews, memoirs, letters and several reminiscences, so we need to get in touch with as many people as possible who have had any connection with the period. I would be very pleased to hear from any of your readers who could help us in any way at all.
Phoenix Arts Centre Ltd.,
Floor 9, A Block
New Walk Centre,
Leicester LE1 6ZG,