The rape of the Sabine women; Pietro da Cortona, 1627-1629 Britain 

Justice is warped by hysteria over sex crimes

We’ve lost our collective marbles over sexual offences. What’s been junked is any notion that women might be held to account for their behaviour, not just by acting prudently but by taking some responsibility for ambiguous sexual encounters. The ferocious reaction to such a suggestion has so cowed police and prosecutors that the justice system has become a statistical battleground. The real reason there is such a hue and cry over sexual offences is the collapse of moral responsibility in our non-judgmental sexual free-for-all, in which victimhood is the ultimate…

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zarif Videos 

Persian carpeted

Join me as I discuss with Avi Abelow of Israel Video Network the remark by Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu about the meaning of the Jewish festival of Purim, the jaw-dropping response by the Iranian regime, the complexities of nationalism within the United Kingdom and more.

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The banquet of Esther and Ahasuerus; Jan Victors, 1840s Global conflict Israel USA 

A parable for our times

Today and yesterday (depending on where you are in the world) observant Jews have been celebrating the festival of Purim by reading the megillah of Esther. This is the story of the Persian king Ahasuerus, commonly identified as Xerxes I, who went along with the plan hatched by his vizier Haman to exterminate the Jews. Ahasuerus was then persuaded out of this by his Jewish queen Esther, who was urged on by her brother Mordecai, and hanged Haman instead. Witty folk have been comparing Ahasuerus to Donald Trump. This is…

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nbh Audio Britain 

Virtue signals in the moral maze

On BBC Radio Four’s Moral Maze, we tackled “virtue signalling” – the practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate our good character or the moral correctness of our beliefs. I argued that this wasn’t virtuous at all, since the poses being struck were designed to demonise and silence those with opposing views. I also tried to suggest that those who defended western or European national identity were demonised by “virtue signallers” who smeared them all as white nationalists – simply because western national identity was historically white….

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irish-flag-painting Britain 

My reply to the Irish ambassador

Ireland’s ambassador to the UK, HE Dan Mulhall, has written a letter in the Times in response to my column published earlier this week. Pondering the complexities that occur when national aspirations and identities come into conflict with each other, I wrote of Irish nationalism that “the claim to unite Ireland is tenuous since Ireland itself has a tenuous claim to nationhood, having seceded from Britain as the Irish Free State only in 1922. Britain, by contrast, is an authentic unitary nation.” The ambassador has taken a dim view of…

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bds-demo Israel 

Activists are out to destroy Israel

Israel is bound to get it in the neck for banning entry to foreigners who support boycotting the country. Of course, Israel should be prepared to accept criticism just like any other country. But Israel is not treated like any other country, and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement hardly fits any reasonable definition of criticism. It is instead a campaign of demonisation and delegitimisation based entirely on lies, libels and gross distortions designed to bring about Israel’s destruction. No country should be expected to provide hospitality to those who…

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David Bruce King of Scotland acknowledges Edward III as his feudal lord; Jean Froissart c 1410 Videos 

When nationalisms collide

Join me here as I pick my way through the complexities which arise when one national identity is in conflict with another – within the same country. The transcript of my remarks follows beneath the video. Over the last few decades, national identity has had a serious image problem. It’s been conflated with nationalism which, as we all know, is responsible for bad things such as prejudice, racism and war. If you want to stop prejudice, racism and war, went the thinking, you’ve got to get rid of nationalism. And…

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Boudicca statue, Westminster bridge, London Britain 

Britain is the authentic nation in this battle

If national aspirations are now validated for the UK, what about the national aspirations of its constituent parts? Do all national identities have equal status? What happens when one is in direct competition with another? Scotland says it is a nation. Republicans in Northern Ireland say Britain dismembered their nation which they want to unify again. Are these claims to national identity valid? If so, where does that leave the UK? To read the whole of my Times column (£) please click here.

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Battle of Williamsburg, 1893, Library of Congress USA 

The non-denial denial

Once upon a time, in the days when the media had its eyes open, journalists would be galvanised by what they dubbed “a non-denial denial”. Poring over what was actually said when someone denied an allegation, journalists would pounce upon the words or phrases which revealed, as often as not by their absence, that the denial had been carefully worded to make some fine distinction that was calculated to conceal the truth while protecting the denier from any subsequent accusation of lying. The very opposite is true today. Starting with…

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