Reduction to Hitler

Sylvi Listhaug is the Norwegian Minister of Migration and Integration, aka Qusling, Hitler and Norway's Trump.
Sylvi Listhaug is the Norwegian Minister of Migration and Integration, aka Qusling, Hitler and Norway’s Trump.
Foto: Olav Heggø, Foto VIsjon

Godwin’s law was coined by the US attorney Mike Godwin in 1990. It states that an online discussion will, if it lasts long enough, result in someone comparing someone else to Hitler or his deeds. The end result of such a discussion is referred to as reduction to Hitler, or playing the Nazi card. It’s a way to derail arguments or stop someone from arguing with you. It may work because no one wants to be regarded as Hitler’s equal. I think it’s also an indication of desperation. It’s an inadequate rhetorical trick indicating that your arguments are weak. Besides, if you compare someone to Hitler you have to make sure you really know history well. I don’t think you do if you equate Donald Trump to Hitler.

There was a Neo-Nazi march in the Norwegian town Kristiansand a few weeks ago. They had planned to march in Fredrikstad, but moved the event on short notice. Many wanted to deny them the right to express their hatred in Kristiansand as well, and maybe we should silence extremist views in a democracy, but I think the response was blown out of proportions. Don’t get me wrong, I believe these Nazis should be met with strong condemnation, and we should all tell these few individuals what we think about them, but don’t pretend that this popped up from nowhere. This dominated the news and blogosphere for days, but I wonder how big this really was. This was presented as a march for Neo-Nazis from all the Nordic countries, a region with 27 million people, but they only managed to gather 60 people. They want attention, so why do media keep giving them what they want?

Then there was Charlottesville, and in both places people seemed shocked, as if this was totally unexpected. How could this happen in America? This country was based on, or at least supposed to be based on, the best physical and intellectual architecture the Western civilization could produce. It was supposed to ensure free thinking and not the state controlled (by king or church) regimes of Europe. Things went horribly wrong with slavery and what was probably the worst civil war in any country.

The beautiful idea America was inspired other people, including my own. Norway’s Constitution from 1814 was inspired by different documents, but perhaps most of all the revolutionary US Deceleration of Independence from 1776. Not that any of the documents were perfect, but what followed was a lot less so. I don’t recall enough US history to pinpoint exactly when things went wrong, but I am pretty sure it was a long time before Donald Trump. From being a refuge for Catholics, Quakers, Jews and many others that were persecuted in Europe, America became a country that raped, tortured, sold and murdered people. It was no longer the house the architects designed. Some like to think that it was, that the haters went away. They didn’t!

There has always been members of KKK in position of influence, and no one has more influence than politicians. The documentary series Codes and Conspiracies showed footage of a big Nazi rally in Madison Square garden in 1939 (there are clips available on you tube), so it’s ignorant to assume that these ideologies went away.

Norway is no better. Our constitution from 1814 stated that Jews, Jesuits and monk orders were not to be tolerated. This law was removed in 1851, but there were many just as bad things to come. Hitler’s ideas must have had a certain amount of support because many countries kept their eugenics laws after World War II. The Norwegian law from 1934 was removed as late as 1977. During this period 44 000 people had been sterilized, 7 000 of them forcibly. They were gypsies, mentally ill and “social misfits.” You can add 2 500 people to that list because that’s the number of people that were lobotomized between 1941 and 1974 in Norway. There was also a strong attempt to get rid of the Sami culture. There are many things we should be ashamed of, but as we never discuss it, it’s more or less like playing the Hitler card.

We all know that the beautiful house we once built is a wreck. By all means, speak out against racism and other forms of hate, but don’t pretend that this happened on someone else’s watch. You may play the Nazi card because you want to kill the discussion, but we are all a part of this. Today we are afraid of saying something that could be considered intolerant. 

The Norwegian Minister of Immigration, Sylvi Listhaug, is frequently compared to Hitler. Most of the high profile politicians have been campaigning this summer because we have a parliamentary election next month. Listhaug was one of the speakers at a Muslim peace conference for Muslim youth from all over Europe, and she shocked media by challenging the main speaker to say what he thought about stoning, death penalty for blasphemy and the idea that sharia law is above our national law. She did this because, although Tahir ul Qadri is considered to be a moderate Muslim, he has given contradictory statements before. The Pakistani born, now Canadian citizen, said once in an English statement that the blasphemy law is not applicable to non-Muslims. He has stated in Urdu that everyone, either they are Muslim, Jew, Christian, Hindu, or anything else must be sentenced to death.

This is important. There are a few Muslim countries, some of them our allies, that execute people for blasphemy or for choosing to leave Islam. Europe is known for multiculturalism, which means that we don’t expect immigrants to follow our traditions. That is in fact seen as discrimination, and it went so far in some countries that they considered introducing Sharia Law just for Muslims.

I think it’s a bad sign when you apply the law unevenly or when the laws don’t give all groups the same protection. That’s why I think all governments should stop this forbearance that tends to produce parallel societies. 

Football works its mojo

I played here as a child. I was surprised to see that the field with sea sand (including seashells) had been neglected.
I played here as a child. I was surprised to see that the field with sea sand (including seashells) had been neglected.

I remember football when football was football. My father died when I was just eleven years old. He wasn’t the sort that got along with his children, but I have fond memories of football. That’s the one thing we did together.

There was only one TV channel in those days, our equivalent to BBC, and their Saturday match from the British Premier League was an institution. It was one of those programs that people talked about during the lunch break on Monday because if you were interested in football you didn’t miss the match.

I kept my interest for a while. I collected football cards, and I liked individual players more than teams. It was in fact the players that determined what teams I liked. The first players I liked were Kenny Dalgliesh, Ian Rush and Ronny Whelan, so it’s not surprising that my first team was Liverpool. I also remember players like Matthew Le Tissier, Ray Houghton, Steve Staunton and Gordon Strachan. I think Kevin Keegan had retired by the time I was old enough to discover football, but I remmeber him as the manager of Newcastle. That was a lot of fun.

It seems like money and celebrity status has taken over. I don’t blame players, especially the young ones for wanting to make as much money as possible, but it is a shame. Whenever a team develops a good player he is sold to a better club. I guess that has always been the motivation that has produced results, but I think it is sad when some players make £ 150 000 per week, if not more.

My local team in the Norwegian league, FK Haugesund, went to Northern Ireland for their first qualifying match for Europa League a few weeks ago. Coleraine is a town with 24 000 people, so the club probably isn’t a very rich one. FK Haugesund won their home match 7-0, but the most interesting story was the man who didn’t play. Coleraine is a semi-professional team, so many of the players work or study as well. The goalkeeper Chris Johns is one of the most important players on the team, but he couldn’t play because he was taking an exam in physics the same day. He used to play professionally in Southampton, but decided to resume his studies when he moved back. The coach, Oran Kearney, is by the way an P.E. teacher as well.

I watched the best Norwegian team on TV last night. Rosenborg is playing qualifying for Champions League, and they met the Irish team Dundalk. This is another team with small resources in terms of money, but it is impressive to see what they have accomplished. Rosenborg tend to get on my nerves because they whine when they don’t win. The two matches between the two teams ended 1-1 and 2-1 (went to extra time), but it is the wrong team that will face Celtic in the 3 rd qualifying round. I like the spirit of both these Irish teams, and that seems to be a spirit these islands have had for a long time. That’s the spirit we used to have.

Tonight my team, FK Haugesund, will be the underdog. They played a qualifying match for Europa League a week ago, and almost got away with a perfect result. The Polish team Lech Poznan was awarded a penalty kick 2 minutes on overtime, so the result was 3-2. That is still a good result, but it remains to be seen how well FKH will do in front of 40 000 people tonight. The entire population of Haugesund would fit in that stadium, with quite a few empty seats left.

Football used to be a beautiful game, and sometimes it still is. I am probably not returning to football as a regular fan, but I like a good story. So tonight I am hoping FKH can play with a strong Irish viking heart.


Be careful what you wish for

My daughter has discovered manga too, and this is one of her Pokemon books. Japan is sort of our promised land.
My daughter has discovered manga too, and this is one of her Pokemon books. Japan is sort of our promised land.

Someone shared a poster on Facebook yesterday. It was a comment about health care, and the message was that if Japan could the USA could just as easily do it. It sounded like everything you want, and more. We have something similar in Norway, and it is true that being poor here is a lot better than being poor in the USA, but nothing is perfect.

Comparing countries isn’t that straightforward. The Japanese don’t like immigration, so they don’t have any. That is going to make it increasingly harder to provide the services they have had so far. According to Human Rights Watch 7 586 people applied for asylum in 2015 and just over 5 000 in the first half of 2016. Only 27 were recognized as refugees in 2015 and 4 in the first half of 2016. The birth rate is alarmingly low, as it is in most industrialized countries. Most countries avoid collapse by allowing enough immigration to keep the population at a stable level, but because Japanese authorities don’t allow immigration they lose 250 000 people a year. This is such an unusual development that some conspiracy buffs were looking at the statistics and connected it to the Fukushima accident. They noticed that the population dropped by a staggering one million people in six years, but that’s how dramatic it looks when both the birth rate and immigration is almost non-existing. This is a far worse problem than Fukushima at the moment.

Japan has 200 000 migrant workers, mainly from China and Vietnam, and because of weak legal protection there is a lot of abuse (illegal overtime, unpaid wages, dangerous working conditions, confiscaction of passports, prohibitions of having cell phones and staying elsewhere over night, forced return).

I don’t know enough about this, but if what I have read online is correct there are major issues in Japan. Women, minorities and young people in general are marginalized, pushed to the edge of society and ignored. It seems like there is a lack of respect for people in this society. I have never heard about it anywhere else, but train groping is apparantly bad in Japan.

According to this schocking article in Independent half a million young people barely leave their homes. They want to go out, and they want friends, but they can’t. They have a word for this, hikkimori. The Japanese Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry define this as young people that haven’t gone to school, worked or tried to socialize in six months. This is another challenge the country can’t afford to get bigger.

Many of us have grown up with stereotypes of the Japanese people. They are creative and intelligent. They make the technology we buy. I grew up with anime and manga, and reading about buddhism and Shinto, but I suspect that life there isn’t quite like it was in my fantasies.

The same can be said for Norway. There are things I don’t like about my own country. Many immigrants also have ideas about how it is here, and I suspect that some experience moments of anger, irritation and disappointment. Most foreigners still like it here because when you consider the pros and cons, life here isn’t bad at all. You can’t make assumptions, though. Many people assume that the USA is like they see on TV, and maybe poor Americans think life here would be effortless. It has been compared to most of the world, but I think that’s about to change. It will probably be a good place to live, but less equal than it has been, and health care may cost us more. We may become the USA we don’t know about.

Human Rights Watch on Japan

Assumed socialism

red rose
Norwegian Labour has a red rose for a symbol, but in reality it isn’t red at all.

Having lived my whole life in socialist Norway I suppose I should be a big supporter of the ideology, and in a way I am. I don’t think there are any democratic parties that come closer to creating a fair society. Unfortunately, Labour hasn’t made any sense in decades.

It seems like Labour has gone through a similar development in Norway and Britain, which means that they haven’t offered an alternative to the Conservatives. Labour in both countries have had a period where the political colour was purple at best, but they are seemingly shifting towards red again. I remain skeptical for many reasons, and it’s not just about the war crimes they are guilty of, or the poor people they have failed. It’s also about mixed messages. The problem with most truly left wing politicians is that they tend to support anything anti-American, even when these regimes are harmful to its own citizens.

Britain just had an election where some seem to think that Jeremy Corbyn was very successful. This is election year in Norway too, and at the moment Labour is expected to return to power after four years of a Conservative coalition. Just like Jeremy Corbyn the leader of the Norwegian Labour Party has promised old-fashioned socialism, or rather a return to socialism. I’m not sure what Labour in any country really want, but they tend to be just as two faced as the rest of the bunch.

I understand solidarity, but why do we have to show solidarity to regimes just because they are supposedly socialist or anti-American? I find it especially disturbing when someone like Jeremy Corbyn is getting closer to real power. He supported the IRA during the 1980’s and 90’s. He once called Hamas and Hezbollah friends. but was later forced to retract that support. He has admitted to being paid for appearances on Press TV, an Iranian station that is banned in the UK. He has expressed admiration for the way Hugo Chavez ran Venezuela, or the way Castro brothers have governed Cuba. Labour’s approach to Palestine could be compared to the one many socialists have to Latin-America. That means supporting people that are pro-Palestine, even if that means supporting Jewish prejudices. There is a big difference between being anti-Israel and anti-Jewish. Labour may pretend to be better than the Conservatives, but this makes me wonder how true that is.

I have mentioned Jeremy Corbyn, but I could just as well have made this post about Jonas Gahr Støre, who took over from Jens Stoltenberg when he became General Secretary of NATO. The election in September will be Støre’s first as the leader of Labour. He has basically pulled a Trump because his message is that Labour will make Norway believe in what we used to be good at. In other words, he wants to make Norway great again, and the goal seems to be to convince us that life has never been harder. We need Labour to get back on our feet again. According to the polls it seems to be working. This is how you win elections. You convince enough people that something is at stake, and that the consequences of making the wrong choice will be dire.

I have often wondered how people can change their minds every time someone from a polling agency asks them what they are going to vote, but I guess the “vote for us or else-tactics” explains s lot. I would be willing to go along with it if socialism was about equal opportunities, but it clearly isn’t. When socialists support, or at the very least, don’t criticize despots, doesn’t that tell us something about how sincere they really are? They may still be better than a government that doesn’t pretend to help the majority, but I don’t like liars.

The Economic Bomb

Old couple sitting on two swings. Many could have a long, pleasant retirement, but a few could also struggle financially. Photo: Pixabay
Many could have a long, pleasant retirement, but a few could also struggle financially. Photo: Pixabay

I have a fascination for conspiracy theories. Some of them are very far out there, but once in a while I hear about one that sounds plausible. After all, governments have done some awful things in the recent past, so there are a lot of scenarios I could believe in.

I have never considered the possibility of a massive depopulation because most conspiracy theories that deal with this are much too wild, but I do believe that governments think a great deal about the need for balancing the population. A recent report from World Economic Forum suggested that many governments will have an enormous debt to the ageing population. The problem isn’t just that the population is growing, but that we have longer life spans. The report quotes University of California, Berkeley, which states that 50 percent of the children born in 2007 will live to be more than a 100 years old in countries like the USA, Britain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France and Canada. This amounts to a lot of people, and many years of pensions.

Norwegian authorities tried to prepare for the troubles ahead with a pension reform in 2011. Retirement age used to be 67, and many were forced to retire at that age. The new thing is that if you want the maximum pension, you have to postpone your retirement. The tax for pensioners has also been increased from 11 to 17 percent, which is intended to counteract the problems with the growing retirement savings gap.

Employed people finance the pensions, and as long as there are enough young people working there will be money for the pensions. What happens when this balance is shifted? There is already a retirement savings gap of $ 70 trillion worldwide, and it is expected to grow by 5 percent a year to $ 400 trillion in 2050. To put that into perspective, the world economy today amounts to $ 74 trillion. You can imagine what a challenge this will be in populous countries like the USA, China, India and Japan. The situation is especially grave in Japan because they have a low birth rate, like most rich countries, but they hardly have immigration at all. That means they lose a quarter of a million people a year.

We do have immigration in Norway, but statistics show that refugees are less educated than Norwegians and immigrants from Europe and North America, and the employment rate among Africans and Asians is also significantly lower. This would have to change if we are to successfully deal with the situation.

World Economic Forum offers a sort of advice, but I don’t know how good it is. They referred to surveys showing that people under 50 years didn’t worry much about retirement, but if you start planning ahead as soon as you start working, you’ll be more likely to manage when you don’t work anymore. They also recommend investments with higher risks and higher profit, but I am not sure this will be an option to low income families. I have heard about people who say they are not worried. They rely on the good services our welfare state has provided thus far, but there are no guarantees for the future.

I don’t believe in the most spectacular theories concerning depopulation, but I think many governments would like to see a lower life expectancy. That may happen automatically because being poor usually means that you don’t eat healthy and that you don’t have access to the best health care. There’s been some great dystopic literature and films published in recent years, but there are some pretty scary possibilities in the real world too.

We’ll live to 100 – How can we afford it?

I fancy England

This typical English cottage is like taken out of a classic novel. Photo: Pixabay
This English cottage is like taken out of a classic novel. Photo: Pixabay

My uncle, aunt and their two children were living in London for a while in the early 1980’s, as I entered my teen years. I visited them for a couple of weeks once, and vaguely remember Madame Tussaud and a place that had lots of tennis courts next to each other. I don’t know where in London that was, but I have always imagined that it was connected to the place where the famous Wimbledon tournament is played. This is unfortunately my only visit to the British Isles. Nevertheless, I’m a major anglophile. I have always wanted to go there, but so far it’s been financially impossible.

These islands have produced some of the greatest literary treasures in Europe. I still enjoy childhood favourites like The Borrowers, The Jungle Book, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, Alice in Wonderland, and Oliver Twist. I later discovered Jane Austen, E.M. Forster, H. G. Wells, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, and lots more. British TV have made some of my favourite entertainment. I have fond memories of Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes, Joan Hickson and Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple, and David Suchet as Hercule Poirot. I later enjoyed shows like Foyle’s War, Primeval, Doctor Who, and Sherlock just to mention a few. I enjoy some of these low cost productions far better than films made by major film studios.

America has always had a special ring to Norwegians, which isn’t surprising as a big part of our population emigrated there in the past. I have felt like that about Britain and British culture, which makes just as much sense historically. Modern DNA-tests have revealed that Norwegian vikings didn’t just raid and retreat, but settled in Britain, particularly in Cumbria, Shetland, the Orkneys, and far north on the Scottish mainland. I have mixed emotions about the political situation in Britain at the moment. The EU position seems to be anger, something like this: How dare you want independence? How dare you leave us?

Independence could be very good for Britain in the long run, but I don’t see why they can’t be British and European at the same time. Other EU-governments seem to suggest that any country that leaves the union must be treated as an enemy. Why do you have to be a member of the EU to have a place in Europe? Suddenly the EU doesn’t seem that friendly. I don’t know what will happen, but it would be nice if Norway and Britain strengthened the ties that seems like nothing more than a distant memory today.

I have dreamt about travelling across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland + Ireland. An extended stay in Britain is also on my bucket list. I haven’t been able to afford trips out of the country for almost two decades, and it doesn’t look like it will happen anytime soon, but I hope to get a chance later. I am fascinated by America too, especially New England, but most of the time it’s the original England I think about. It may be just a fantasy. The England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland + Ireland I think about only exists in books and films, but I still want to see the people and the country that produced these wonderful stories.

I may very well do the same as Americans who believe that a welfare state is the same as communism or that it snows most of the time here. Just for the record, I know people in the English countryside don’t wipe out the whole village because of some century old land dispute or flower competition (Midsomer Murders), and I am sure Scotland Yard can manage very well without Poirot and Holmes. Reading British literature makes me hungry because there is a lot of food there, but if I went to England and asked people on the street, I would probably find that most of them didn’t eat Lancashire hotpot, steak and kidney pudding, and that the Scots didn’t eat much haggis. It’s the same in Norway. Even Norwegians don’t think there is any good Norwegian food because we hardly ever eat it.

Jeremy hangs on

The Palace of Westminster is probably the most iconic building in Europe. Personally I hope they succeed outside the EU. Photo: Diliff via Wikimedia Commons
The Palace of Westminster is probably the most iconic building in Europe. Personally I hope they succeed outside the EU. Photo: Diliff via Wikimedia Commons

I freely admit that I don’t understand politics, but after the many unpredictable results in recent elections internationally I don’t know if anyone does. In the days following the British election I have mostly seen headlines saying that Labour won, but did they really?

Labour have some reason to celebrate because they gained 30 seats compared to the last election, and the Conservatives lost 13. That gave them respectively 262 and 318 seats out of 650. None of them have majority and consequently none can govern without support from another party, but Labour is farther from achieving that than the Tories. So I ask myself, if Theresa May had resgined, as the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn demanded, what would happen?

Jeremy Corbyn argued that if Theresa May left office “the country would get a government that would be truly representative of the people of this country”. I come from a country where it’s hard to get a majority government, and the solution Theresa May is going for is what we have had in Norway the last four years. She aims to govern with the support of ten seats from the Democratic Unionist Party, but as I understand it the party from Northern Ireland won’t be a part of the government. They are just going to vote together in parliament without having a coalition.

This reminds me of the situation in 2010. David Cameron and Gordon Brown did worse than Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, but the Conservatives  and the Liberal Democrats formed a coalition in the interest of stablity. Labour under Jeremy Corbyn won only four more seat than Gordon Brown seven years ago, and Theresa May won 12 more seats than David Cameron, so I don’t see how Corbyn can claim to represent a much vaster segment of the population than Theresa May.

Jeremy Corbyn has had a rather turbulent time as the leader of Labour. His leadership has been questioned by segments of his own party. There are many in his own party that feel he has taken the party too much to the left. In other words, the party has become Labour again. Many of his critics feel that he is unelectable, and maybe they are correct. After all, this election has been hailed as a huge success for Labour, but after a very good campaign against a candidate that didn’t really campaign at all, he was only four seats up from Gordon Brown’s result seven years ago. A leftwing politician may very well be unelectable. I wonder what he would do with his critics if he moved into Downing Street. Would there be a constant struggle with unpredictable votes in parliament?

I think the only alternative to the Conservatives would be a new election and I am not sure that Jerermy Corbyn, with actual socialist politics, would be more electable in the second round. No matter what happens this time, Corbyn probably had enough success to get another attempt at number 10.

I don’t know if the Labour Party in Norway is representative, but the experiences we have in Norway make me skeptical. They claim to be on the side of poor people, but in reality they make it just as hard to be poor as the Conservatives. I don’t need another blue party.

Donald says

Illustration. Man with a breifcase running. Donald Trump is portrayed as a deserter, but we may have been deserted many presidents ago.
Donald Trump is portrayed as a deserter, but we may have been deserted many presidents ago.

When I worked as a teacher I sometimes used games like Simon Says both as a reward and a tool to encourage the pupils to speak English, which was quite effective on children that didn’t say much during an English class. Different types of follow the leader or tags were popular outdoor activities. This seems like a relevant comparison these days because when I listen to media’s outcry about Donald Trump, I get the impression that we are doomed, forced to wander around without a wise leader to guide us. The truth is that previous leaders may not have been much more benevolent than what we have today.

I have referred to news as a narration in the past, and unfortunately there aren’t many journalists in my country that prove me wrong. A new narration developed a couple of days ago when Donald Trump hinted that he would withdraw the USA from the Paris climate agreement. The message is that Trump is a deserter and that the USA  is no longer a leader. The largest newspaper in Norway claimed that Trump “has abdicated the USA from international leadership, now in the fight against climate change as well” Just how leading have they been?

The Bush administration ignored the Kyoto agreement, while Obama commited the USA to a 17 percent reduction of the 2005 emissions by 2020. Obama has the reputation for being the first US president to take the threat of climate change seriously, but it’s not as obvious to some people that he provided the leadership the world needed.

Emissions went down under Obama, which was partly because methane gas emissions were reduced. There is evidence that instead of a 10 percent reduction between 2002 and 2014, there was a 30 percent increase. There is also the investments supported by the Export-Import Bank of the United States, which is the official export credit agency of the United States Federal Government. It has supported polluting overseas projects that have sabotaged Obama’s green politics at home. I can understand why Trump makes people worried if everything that happened before November 2016 was leadership.

This reminds me of the leadership we had under Jens Stoltenberg. The present Secretary General of NATO was the Norwegian Prime Minister from 2005 to 2013, and his tale was one of the tallest in politics. He talked about Norway being a world leader in climate politics, and the biggest project was carbon capture. Stoltenberg called it our Moon landing because this grand idea was to be just as important to the world as NASA’s mission in 1969. The last thing Stoltenberg did before leaving office was to shut down this project because the technology was too expensive to use.

This is one of the problems with green politics. There are no governments that look for alternatives. They want to continue using fossil fuels, while reducing  emissons, which is not profitable yet. It was Stoltenbergs dream to build natural gas and coal power plants without polluting  because the CO2 would be stored in underground tombs. It failed miserably.

The Norwegian parliament has committed Norway to reducing the Norwegian emission from 1990 with 30 percent by 2020. We can have a little higher emissions because of the amount of trees, but it is estimated that the emissions will have to be 45-47 million ton in 2020. The actual level has gone down from 54,6 tons in 2000 to 53,4 tons in 2016, which is an improvement of course, but we are far from meeting our obligations. This leaves me with a question:

We have not withdrawn from any UN climate agreements. What consequences does it have for countries that either wihdraw or don’t try hard enough to respect the agreement? None! So what have we done? Maybe we have simply followed the leader?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t support Donald Trump’s bizarre view of the world, but I wonder if it’s that much worse than the so-called leadership we have benefitted from thus far. The states, cities and factory owners in the USA don’t have to wait for federal leadership, and they don’t. They didn’t when Bush was president, or when Obama was president, so why start now? They can provide leadership themselves because it is in the country’s best interest. Everybody knows that politicians don’t save the world. We do, or don’t.

How Obama’s climate change legacy is weakened by US investment in dirty fuel

A large increase in US methane emissons over the past decade inferred from satellite data and surface observations

The Obama oil boom

Massachussetts v. Environmental Protection Agency

Volatile minds

I am fascinated by shapes and symmetry in nature, which is sort of what this post is about. I believe there is a creator or a programmer behind everything.

I have written several posts about British celebrity atheists the last couple of years, and they are frequently represented by Stephen Fry and Richard Dawkins. They may very well be what they claim to be, but I get the impression that far too many atheists sail with a flag of convenience. If you don’t want any questions or don’t wan’t to defend what you believe, proclaiming to be an atheist is an easy solution. No one is going to ask how you came to that conclusion.

I mentioned Stephen Fry in the other posts, especially an interview he did with an Irish TV channel. Many atheists praised his remarkably inconsiderate bluster, but although these couple of minutes told me quite a lot about Stephen Fry (I knew he was an atheist, but before this I mostly knew him as an actor), they left me with more questions than answers. This story re-surfaced this week because a man had reported Fry to the police for what he saw as blasphemous comments in this interview. The police were forced to investigate, but only got around to it now, two years later. They dropped the case of course because having an opinion, no matter how thoughtless it is, shouldn’t be illegal.

Watch Stephen Fry’s answer on You Tube.

I don’t like the tendency there is these days to attack people you disagree with. I think both Stephen Fry and whoever reported him to the police did so in this case. Media reports constantly about cases where there is a false accusation of rape or molestation. There are cases involving the Child Welfare Service where they accuse a parent, usually ther mother, of being mentally ill. This happens without a psychologist/psychiatrist or even a GP talking to the parent. There are many master suppression techniques used to stop people or simply to get revenge. I also take an interest foreign politics and international relations, and as soon as you voice an opinion some people are quick to label you a conspiracy theorist. In other words, no matter how dogmatically Stephen Fry speaks, he shouldn’t be silenced.

As for the content of his speech…. Well, that is confusing and predictable at the same time. I am sorry to say I am not the great mind and thinker I’d like to be. I tried reading a translation of Thomas Aquinas once and I’ve never been so utterly disheartened. I couldn’t understand any of it, although I was reading my own language. I can only use my limited understanding of the universe, but I believe that is enough for me.

Tbe problem most people have, and this is a very general principle you can apply to everything from religion to science to racism, is that they don’t accept conclusions that contradict what they already believe. Even scientists tend to look for evidence that supports their hypothesis, but they find it harder to accept findings that will force them to lose some of their most fundamental convictions.

Stephen Fry seems to have reached a deeper understanding of the big questions. Christians have always struggled with explaining God and the presence of evil, and there’s been many suggestions the last 2000 years. I don’t personally know that God controls everything that goes on in the universe, or that he is responsible for all the injustice and pain in the world. I don’t know that God demands us to get down on our knees to thank him either. I am mostly hopeful. To be honest, I am trying to make the best out of this life, but it would be nice with a second round without all the bs from this world.

Are you looking for proof? Aren’t we all, but what is proof? Experience is an obsolete term for the word proof, and in that sense the proof of God’s existence makes sense to me. You are not going to find anything if you expect mathematics that leaves no doubt whatsoever. The way I experience or observe and encounter the universe, and read about how scientists have encountered it, I find it very likely that the universe and our unique world was created. I don’t think it just happened.

I personally don’t think it would be a bad idea with a more Christian lifestyle. and by that I don’t mean the corrupt version that governments and political leaders have imposed on the population for a couple of thousand years. Proof is experience and what most Christians preach is nonsense to me because it’s not my experience.

The Hitler Trick

The result of three car bombs in Aleppo that the Al Qaida-connected al-Nusra Front took responsibility for Photo: Zyzzzzzy via Wikimedia Commons
The result of three car bombs in Aleppo that the Al Qaida-connected al-Nusra Front took responsibility for
Photo: Zyzzzzzy via Wikimedia Commons

I recently read an interesting comment by the Danish sociologist Lars Jørgensen in the Danish newspaper Arbejderen (the worker). It was about media’s responsibility for the war in Syria, and I agree that they have caused many of the problems. It has to do with Hitler’s trick, as Jørgensen called it. Hitler knew, according to the comment in Arbejderen, that ordinary people couldn’t make themselves believe that their own leaders would shamelessly lie to them to justify war. That makes people inclined to contribute to their own oppression.

The argument is convincing at the same time as it’s hard to understand why people would do this. There were undoubtedly people in the 1930’s and 40’s that didn’t want to see the truth, and there are people today that don’t want to see their political heroes as liars. At the same time we have a resonsibility to reflect on what governmets and journalists tell us. We can accept everything we read and hear as truth, but having that level of naivity is a choice we make. I have read many accounts of Germans that actively opposed Hitler, during the war and they were not all Jews. The situation might be different today because we are not talking about our closest neighbours and fellow citizens, but a population in a country most people had barely heard about before the war started.

I believe people know when their political leaders are lying. They knew Hitler was wrong from the start and they knew the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria were not about helping the people or making our own countries safer. Incidentally, two British Parlamentary reports into the wars in Iraq and Libya concluded that they were based on lies. Politicians and media failed us, but those few journalists, activsts and scholars that have tried to follow the evidence of for example gas attacks in Syria, point towards the rebels, the so-called moderate islamists. It’s not that it’s not being reported at all, but articles like UN has testimony that Syrian rebels used sarin gas:investigator from Reuters are usually ignored. We don’t want to know. I believe the Hitler trick still very much sums up how the democracy we want to share with the rest of the world works.

I believe you have a pretty good idea that news and statements from the government are narrations, but we like it when it makes us look strong and when it doesn’t have any consequences for us. We are being told a version of the truth, and in that sense I don’t think there is a country without a conspiracy. There are no known cases of a conspiracy in Norway. Nothing has ever been exposed, although there are some suspicious cases, but when I read the news and compare it to independent news from Syria, I know there is a Hitler trick in operation. Anything else would be a child’s naive fantasy.