Cupidity Stunt

Imagine how appalled some people might be were I to write to the effect that ‘… once again a senior ambassador of this country returns from continental Europe bragging at doing business with a German fascist’.

Outrageous, right?

Well, then consider the following:

“[Militant secularism…] demonstrates similar traits to totalitarian regimes…”

Thus spake Baroness Warsi in her fawning Valentine’s Day speech to The Vatican. Allying secularism with totalitarianism is no less outrageous and offensive, and cannot go sans réplique.

I’ve often wondered what it is Baroness Warsi does. And it strikes me that she must have wondered herself. Hence how readily she embraced her chance to fly the flag for Cameron’s UK vision all the way to Rome, where she gushed:

“… it is a… privilege to lead the largest ever ministerial delegation from the United Kingdom to the Holy See…. To celebrate the relationship between our two states.”

When are we going to see a prominent politician stand up and publicly point out that The Holy See is not a state? It is a city palace with associated buildings and gardens, no national or permanent residential population, no actual independent territory, no controlled border, and no government in the political sense (the Catholic Church is governed from Rome). Nevertheless, its unchallenged or ‘unnoticed’ flouting of international agreements has somehow managed to acquire its ‘diplomats’ immunity and a seat at the UN top table, whence it can promote its agenda and continue hindering progress.

Warsi made repeated reference to The Pope’s state visit to Britain in 2010, and how successful and well received this was.

“The visit… was historic, momentous and unforgettable… and I want to thank the Holy Father on behalf of all four nations in our country. The hand of friendship was warmly received across our isles. Reaching out to… those of faith and those of none… It was a milestone in our relationship, a milestone in UK history – where heart truly spoke unto heart.”

Goodness me, what a disingenuous creep! In her diplomatic avoidance of the accompanying controversy and protest, and her disinclination to pass judgment on instances of conflict between faith and public policy (try this evasion line on your next Question Time appearance), she genuflects to a misogynist homophobe who has criminally let down large numbers of his followers, has perpetuated his predecessor’s contemptuous attitude to the issue of HIV prevention, damns embryonic stem cell researchers, and continues to evade the serious questions that she wouldn’t dream of asking him. It’s not “… aggressive secularism by stealth” the religious need fear, Baroness, it’s your humourless, religious conservative authoritarians.

There were, grant you, important matters on the round table with Vatican officials the following day: climate change, international aid, Somalia. Must have been a frantic twenty minutes! But this allotted time span did yield a joint declaration calling for an “immediate end” to violence in Syria and pointed to “the role which Christians can play” in the region. Well, I imagine that will make all the difference. Brilliant! And plenty of free time for taking more photos of Warsi like a self-satisfied gormless tourist.

When she says:

“For me, one of the most worrying aspects about this militant secularisation is that at its core and in its instincts it is deeply intolerant”

she either exposes or feigns her complete ignorance of what secularism is. She further misrepresents:

“… the anti-religionists, the faith deniers… attempting to remove all trace of religion from culture, history and public discourse.”

Again, the gratuitous implication of history-re-writing totalitarianism. And the Janus-faced depiction of the UK’s consensual welcoming of The Pope’s visit, with the admission and calumnious portrayal of its dissenters.

“For me…”. This always bugs about the proselytising faithful. The solipsistic over-inflation of the weight of one’s own opinion and importance, which is deemed to apply universally. In fact, Warsi revolved her speech around herself, employing " … I… / … me… " around seventy times, deeming her biography of relevance and of interest to the cocooned popedom. This Minister Without Portfolio, sycophantically trying to make her mark by colluding in an effort to turn back the clock on a world she considers has became too liberal.

Secularism is not intolerant of any faith; but it rejects that privileged place, and automatic unqualified respect, that religious leaders and lobby groups carry in our political decision-making bodies. It might be worth her consideration, while she hypocritically ingratiates herself with those of an actual totalitarian mindset, that her efforts on tolerance might be more appropriately directed at the theocrats in Iran, although they would doubtless turn a blind eye and a deaf ear. But if she really wants to make a difference, perhaps addressing the issue of female genital mutilation and other abuses of women’s rights perpetrated amongst sub-elements of her own faith might strike a chord. As it is, in her cupidity for worthiness with her vain (in all senses of the word) excursion, this embarrassing politician has let down her country.

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