Misgendering

When people want to complain about “Political Correctness gone mad” they name Misgendering. It frightens me when they say Democrats or other relatively Left parties should drop PC, and pick on trans folk, as if we had lost the Left the elections, and throwing us under the bus was the route back to being in contention. Constantly complaining about dopey things, from pronouns that “misgender” to whether Ann Coulter should be allowed to speak at Berkeley … has become a hallmark of Team Blue over the last decade. It’s no small part of the reason Red America threw up their hands, looking for any alternative to push back against the inanity wrote Matt Labash in the NYT. Labash is a Republican, but Democrats say this sort of thing too.

This gets wearing. The archetypal PC idiocy is treating trans folk with courtesy. Possibly the complainers felt even gay marriage was off limits; too many people support it, no-one is particularly attacking it. They may in the future, but not now. But some people take pride in misgendering- calling me “he” and feeling self-righteous about it. I slip up myself, so don’t object to people making mistakes, only to people who do it intentionally, or do not see why it is offensive, like Labash here- I think he finds the complaints dopey, not the “mistakes”.

It matters to us. We transition whether or not the circumstances are propitious. We fail to thrive, or get murdered, where they are not. The callous answer is something like “Well, truth matters to me, you’re really [or not] a man”- but it is an excuse to be callous, a preference for being nasty to us, a way of finding someone to look down on. Some prefer the liberating chance to be cruel over the chafing requirement to be courteous.

They have such an elegant way of expressing it! We named the microaggression “misgendering”, one simple word for when someone uses pronouns as if I were a man. That means when the Right wants to allude to trans folk, they merely need quote “misgendering”, in scare quotes because they deny it is a real word, though it usefully names a phenomenon and has wide currency: it is in the Oxford dictionaries. And some Left-wing writers say the Left should abandon the more extreme political correctness, and the example they choose is Misgendering.

They might choose abortion in the US, and write of “reaching out to pro-life Democrats”. This article in NYT points out abortion is an economic issue. Poorer women have more unwanted pregnancies, where they cannot afford a child, then where they could not continue in work or education fall further into poverty. On that basis, misgendering is economic too: we will transition even though in an atmosphere of hostility will lose our jobs.

Inequality matters. The inequality of badly paid workers with insecure jobs matters, and I want them to vote Left; and the Right makes them angry, then diverts the anger against out-groups, such as immigrants or LGBT folk. The Right-wing siren song is that nothing can be done about the inequality, but at least you can feel better if you can express anger against an out-group. They want to blame immigrants, then call third generation British Asians “immigrants”, then foment hatred for us. First they come for the immigrants, then the queers. Who’s next? Might it be you?

Elections and the Moneyed elites

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has announced an election. Buoyed up by the success of Mr Erdogan, Mrs May will follow him to go full-on Putin. Politics all around what used to be called the West is a conflict between the people and the moneyed elites, who use right wing populism to gain power, for a programme that will involve destruction of public spending except on weapons, and the end of legal protection of workers, consumers and the environment. Mr Trump is moving this programme forward in the US, such as with a drugs policy which will increase mass incarceration of ethnic minorities, though his attempt to withdraw health care from those the Affordable Care Act granted insurance was foiled.

Democracy is under threat across NATO countries. Russia seeks to destabilise us with fake news, sock-puppet tweets, facebook shares and comments, and hacking of progressive political parties. Billionaires buy politicians to reduce regulations on billionaires, increasing their freedom to pollute, shove up rents, and despoil the biosphere.

In the British election, with first past the post votes for single-member constituencies, I will vote Labour. Labour has a chance in my constituency to unseat the hard-right nationalist who is standing for the Conservative party, formerly thought to be a centre-right party but now wholly in the hands of the anti-democratic hard right lie machine. Tactics the BNP used twenty years ago, the Conservatives use now, with the difference that at least the BNP promised its supporters council houses. The Conservatives offer nothing but higher taxes on workers, higher rents for the benefit of international investors, and the destruction of public services. For example, they incite hatred of immigrants, but admit they will not reduce immigration after Brexit.

The Right attempts to demonise a “Liberal elite”. Well, globalisation will not favour workers over rentiers, but with strong democratic control it can be managed. We could tax multi-national companies, and reduce the curse of transfer pricing and opaque offshore companies with no clear ownership. Better a liberal elite than a moneyed elite.

The Right, offering nothing, has good slogans. “Take back control,” they said, and a small majority voted for them. They will reduce regulations protecting us, and increase surveillance on us claiming to protect us from an almost entirely imaginary terrorist threat. In Britain, Get Rid Of Them: find the party most likely to defeat the Conservative, and campaign for it. In France, probably Mr Macron is the most sane candidate. Mr Putin’s lie machine working against him is the best indicator I have.

Mr Trump’s flotilla steams towards North Korea, which will destroy Seoul in a murder-suicide rather than surrender. The world has gone mad. But there is something I can do: campaign for Labour in my own constituency.

Gender Diverse II

No, we can’t just get along. There will be no alliance of radical feminists and trans. They don’t think they are gender diverse, but ordinary women.

They believe the differences between males and females are to do with reproductive biology, and patriarchal oppression. There is a mounting body of research of how girls are moulded to be soft and gentle, boys to be independent and dominant, from birth. It’s one more issue I would need a Masters degree to get an informed opinion, it is fraught and political, but the resistance strengthens. I could allude to discrete facts, such as that the median size of males being greater than that of females, and that men’s voices break, which might show the biology is more than merely reproductive, but women’s voices are deeper in England than in Thailand, and that is cultural. Women are vulnerable in the later stages of pregnancy and when nursing, so cultural differences could have reproductive origins; but I could not make a coherent opinion based on an assessment of the evidence.

My friend mimicked her high-pitched, girlish teenage voice. It sounded mocking, but was not. My attempt at functional and analytical empathy is, resentment at not being equipped to deal with a particular threatening situation, in fact being socialised to be accommodating, and have greater difficulty; memory of bewilderment and hurt; and in particular anger, and determination not to be so threatened again. From this comes an intense fellow-feeling for women- cis women, biological females- in similar situations. There is more to resent: disparity in wages, imbalance of political power especially as it affects women’s issues, imbalance of power in social situations generally.

All that produces the attitude to trans women. For them, the concept of a woman with a man’s body is ridiculous, meaningless. We are men, who have not had the socialisation that has harmed them. Women need women’s spaces, we should not be there, and excluding us is not cruelty, not even hostility to us. Their sympathy for our difficulties and struggles does not extend to admitting us where we have no place. So they are innocent victims of our angry responses, which bespeak male privilege and entitlement, and they are entitled to defend themselves.

I see a lack of femininity in them, and think it a sign of gender diversity. They don’t. It is the aspect of a woman in the world with her consciousness raised. They see my femininity as a caricature or reinforcement of Patriarchal concepts of womanhood, which are oppressive, which they resent. However much I say that I express this feminine because I am this feminine, I don’t feel I am believed. It is more difficult in that there is no agreement on what “feminine” means.

There can be friendships, understanding, even respect. To be seen as an ally, though, I would have to revert to using a male name, avoid women’s spaces, and become a passionate and knowledgeable advocate for women’s rights- in their estimation, not merely in my own. This is a price I am unwilling to pay. Then my assertion that I am subverting gender stereotypes becomes a political argument, which they refute to their own satisfaction. This piece on cognitive dissonance shows how difficult change could be.

I am glad not every woman thinks like this. Not even every radical feminist- consider Sara Ahmed. Enough people tolerate me to enable me to get by.

Resisting V

Globalisation is inevitable. Politics in the west is the choice between liberal elites, which will preserve some regulation to protect workers, consumers and the environment, and the most rapacious of the moneyed elites, who will deregulate capital, but regulate the little people- unable to cross borders, our social media use monitored- in a survival of the richest world. I tried to imagine what goal they could seek beyond their own increasing wealth and power, what good they could imagine for humanity, and wondered if the moneyed elites’ more forward thinking members and hangers-on desired war and famine to cut back the human population to more sustainable long term levels.

When I was a small child, “Centrist” politics meant the mixed economy, with nationalised heavy industry and transport. Denationalisation was hard-Right. Considering nationalising other industry was Left wing, but centre-left rather than hard-left. Now, those who would privatise parts of the police call themselves “centre-right”, and though they are exaggerating, political discourse and what is possible has moved steadily rightwards, decisively last year. We hear of the incompetence, violence and horror of privately-run prisons, but do not bring prisons back into public service. Now, those who preach hatred of immigrants and foreigners call themselves centre-right. Hatred is mainstream. When Martin Mcguinness died, a fbfnd expressed disgust at an “IRA murderer”. I feel his contribution to the peace process deserves some credit, even if he was solid Republican until death. I want nuance, sympathy, recognition of all the good there is. That fbfnd wants black and white morality with hatred and fear expressed freely.

It is possible that the President of the United States is a traitor, conniving with a foreign power to subvert the US election. There, some people pay far more into health care, some receive far more than they pay, just as here, but there is a cruelty and capriciousness about the division of spoils there which is not here. Someone without insurance but with a hernia, with a fairly simple operation would become fit for work, but languishes because no-one will pay for it. That benefits no-one.

What can you do? My friend tweets, gives to charity, and signs petitions. You can join demonstrations and contact elected representatives, though the vile man who killed five people including himself on or around Westminster Bridge achieved far more publicity than any demonstration. Even though he has never been to the US, my friend is filled with paralysing, ineffectual rage thinking of the GOP-care bill, and gets depressed. I am not amused by it, but feel that if I distance myself from strong feelings, stay aware with satirical disdain for the vilenesses of the “centre-right” I might be more effective when there is something I can actually do. Others ignore it- people are happier if they listen to music rather than news while commuting- or indulge the fear and anger that empowers the British Prime Minister to betray the “just about managing” people whose votes she courts.

Freedom and control

Ours is a free society, and we are controlled. Trans folk are free to be ourselves, mostly, and some people get angry about that. Why are we free to be trans, and how are people free and not free?

Why would humans not be free? There is economic freedom- I am not free to go out this evening because there are no buses and I do not have a car, and find taxis too expensive. I can go out for the evening, but it needs planning. There is imaginative freedom- I cannot do what I do not imagine possible. And there is social control. I read that in Prague pedestrians expect to pass right shoulder to right shoulder on the pavement- it prevents pavement dancing- and will be irked with you if you do not know and do not follow the rule.

There is social control to avoid fear. Are those noisy young men over there “boisterous” or “threatening”? If we feel there is an unwritten rule that people should be quiet here, the breach of the rule is threatening. Music leaching from folks’ headphones on the bus may be most irritating because you feel it is discourteous, another breach of a rule, something you do not expect. There are many distracting or unpleasant sounds or sensations on the bus. Your freedom to swing your fist ends at my nose, but it is rarely that simple- whose rights come first is a matter of status, boundaries are pushed and tested, and I feel I have personal space and do not want your fist within two feet of my face, at an absolute minimum.

Moral compliance can be a matter of status. “I don’t mind them being gay as long as they don’t rub our noses in it,” perhaps by holding hands. Sexual morality has moved from a set of rules to a matter of obligation- in some circumstances people have a duty of faithfulness- and possibly a matter of moral hygiene or exploitation or more subtle wrongs. In the Am Dram group, F who was in her forties- fabulously old- took M, in his teens, to her home, and I saw how he was looking at her after, and she did not seem to care. I did not go to her house. And now generally gay is OK, because it harms no-one and that is enough.

High status people can be more free than low status people, and low status people might resent that our former even lower status no longer applies. Higher status people have taken from them their right to look down on us, and on anyone “foreign”. Unprincipled politicians like Mr Trump or Mme LePen know that desperate people will give a lot to be allowed to look down on someone. If they are free to blame immigrants, LGBT will be next.

Arguments against trans acceptance are transphobic, where people have an unreasoning disgust or abhorrence for us, or perhaps symbolic. For a certain kind of feminist we are a symbol of their gendered oppression. They loathe our freedom as they claim it conflicts with theirs. Yet we are completely harmless, more a symbol of gender than a tool of oppression.

Do you like my new coat?

Parliament

 To Parliament, for the mass lobby for EU citizens. Most of us there were not British, and spoke up for their own rights. I went to communicate my desire for co-operation in Europe, and treating people decently. After, there was a demonstration against Mr Trump, to coincide with the Debate on our demand to rescind the State visit invitation. 

Parliament is impressive. 

I claim Cromwell for Remainers. He fought for the people against the Moneyed Elites. 

More on this later. I don’t like writing on my phone. 

Trans v Ultra-Orthodox

A judge has ordered that a trans woman should never see her children, because their Orthodox Jewish “community” would ostracise them.

The fact that made the judge refuse contact for the trans father with her children may be that J, the father, still wants her children to be brought up as ultra-orthodox. The judge recognises all the reasons why it would be good for the children to see their father, and the list is heartbreaking. They have an irreplaceable relationship, a right to family life, they want it and not having it will be deeply distressing causing a deep sense of loss; the children will resent the injustice that their community deprived them of contact, and that deprivation is discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment; the children’s sense of identity and self worth will be affected if their father is treated as a sinner, unworthy to see them; they won’t know if J is well or ill; they will not get to know or understand J, as the “community” will denigrate her; depriving her of contact is similar to adoption, cutting her out of their lives; if they have contact now, they might get some experience of the outside world, some chance at being able to make their own choices; they may never be able to choose to see their father, even as adults; contact now means that professional help is available; the court has ordered that the father send four letters a year, but the community may prevent even that. It is an appalling list.

Against the father having contact, the court counts the extreme pressure she has been under, which may make her upset in front of the children. That is Kafkaesque. If they saw her upset, they might see how transition helped her, and how she overcame her difficulties. However the judge says that indicates caution but would not by itself prevent contact.

The father’s lawyers argued that the schools should obey the law. If they did so, teaching tolerance and respect, attitudes might change. The judge disapproves of the schools, and will send the judgment to the Department for Education. I hope some attempt may be made to enforce the law on them.

The judge had hoped that a “warm, supportive” community would support children’s need to see their father. When he pointed out that the evidence had dire warnings of ostracism but no examples, the mother’s lawyers produced statements showing that child victims of sexual abuse had been ostracised. He told them he did not think they could be that monstrous, and they desperately scrambled to prove that yes, they were.

Even though he heard evidence that Jewish law could tolerate trans people, he accepted that this particular community could not. The community is proved to disregard justice, and the welfare of the children. The community all say they will continue their discrimination and victimisation. The father accepts the community is like that, but hope it can be made to change, but even educated people are unyielding and there is no evidence anyone in authority in the community wishes it to change.

The judge recognises that sexuality and gender are not a matter of choice. Trans folk have a right to be recognised and respected as such. “Sin” is irrelevant to law. The children could adapt to their father’s change, but the adults involved could not. The children would be taught in the community that their father was a sinner, and in the outside world that she was an acceptable person. They could never speak of their father to their friends. It would put too much pressure on them. It is too wide a gulf for them to bridge. They would have no support: everyone would take the community line. They might be ejected.

The judge says, I have reached the unwelcome conclusion that the likelihood of the children and their mother being marginalised or excluded by the ultra‐Orthodox community is so real, and the consequences so great, that this one factor, despite its many disadvantages, must prevail over the many advantages of contactThis outcome is not a failure to uphold transgender rights, still less a “win” for the community, but the upholding of the rights of the children to have the least harmful outcome in a situation not of their making.

Orthodox Judaism and trans

You have heard of trans women not being able to see their children. With the difficulty of transition, some of us cannot take on that additional fight. One I knew killed herself after being told her wife would not let her see her children, and at the funeral was erased: she was referred to only by her former name, as if a man had died. Now the English courts have ruled that a trans woman should not see her children, because they would be ostracised by their Orthodox Jewish community if she did. She can write four letters a year to each child.

To write this post, I have read the detailed statement of evidence and law by the judge, but not his own assessment and conclusion. It is clear to me that any child brought up in such a “community” will suffer significant harm.

People in this community are not responsible for their own lives. “Personal decision making is minimal, with all major concerns being discussed with one’s rabbi” [see paragraph 85 of the judgment]. J, the father who has transitioned, [58] knew at the age of six that she was different. She could not speak to anyone, and prayed to God to make it go away. Children in less controlling circumstances feel the same: I did not speak to anyone until aged 18. After fathering five children and twice attempting suicide by taking pills, she began to speak to a therapist outside the community. Broken Rainbow, the LGBT domestic violence charity, gave her confidence to leave. It has now closed down.

The community sees transition as “a defection from core values, and expressive of hostility and disrespect” [106]. The community cannot accept how badly it hurts its members, so blames those who leave.

The court-appointed Guardian accepted that within the community, the children could not make their own decisions about seeing their father [136]. Exposure to the outside world is seen as dangerous to the children, who are taught to see it as hostile to the Jewish community. The mother does not speak of J at all.

Children exposed to “outside influences” may be ostracised. The judgment gives examples of other divorced couples. One mother could not get her child into the school she wanted. “The school would not risk the influences the father’s contact with the child might have on the rest of the student body.” This, note, is the case of a straight parent. In J’s case, her son A’s head teacher said that if A met J he feared A’s religious commitment could be compromised.

In a case where a child was sexually abused within her family and the wider community from age 11-14, she was fostered through secular social services. She was not allowed to talk to friends, whose parents said they could not risk their children hearing about “things”.

J could not bear the thought that her son, aged 12, would be faced with her unexplained disappearance, so she told him fifteen months before that she could not carry on with the marriage, and that she was leaving five days before she did. This is held against her. The pain she has suffered, in being unable to be herself, attempting to conform, finding conformity impossible even though she knew how much it would cost her to transition, and now in transitioning and suffering all that loss, is used against her to show that she should not have access. Telling her son was seen as very bad indeed. Her own needs overwhelm her [120], she cannot prioritise the emotional needs of the children, which militates against contact.

Their interpretation of the Torah is completely against transition. Deuteronomy 22:5 forbids dressing in the clothes of the opposite sex, and Leviticus 22:24 forbids castration. For all religious purposes J will be considered male, will be required to give a Get, or religious divorce, to her wife [93], and as most social activities as sexually segregated would not be allowed to join either the women or the men.

The community fought viciously against J. Having so let her down, they project all their wrongdoing onto her. They threatened violence [61]. They refused to consult her about anything to do with the children, and would not accept maintenance payments from her. They rebuffed all her attempts at contact [25]. They made allegations that she had sexually abused her son aged 4, though the judge says “There is no credible evidence that J has behaved in a sexual manner towards D or any of the other children” [32].

The schools responded particularly badly. Minutes of a “Team around the children” meeting show their priority was to protect the community and enforce its “cultural norms around gender and sexual identity” [33]. The schools’ duty was to “uphold the religious ethos”. Other parents would “protect” their children from information shared by J’s children.

Fortunately, schools are restricted in England from so betraying their pupils. I am horrified that any still persist, but at least one has been shut down. It is unlawful for a school to discriminate against a pupil because of their association with someone transitioning gender [48]. The education regulations include a curriculum obligation to encourage respect for other people, paying particular regard to the protected characteristics set out in the 2010 Act [50]. The school was forbidden to enroll new pupils because it did not enable pupils to learn of the existence of trans people. It must encourage respect of us, and other groups which suffer discrimination. Why the Department for Education is not shutting down other such schools, I do not know.

The law supports contact for parents. It is to be presumed that contact furthers the child’s welfare [38]. Children are entitled to the “love and society” of both parents. Court of Appeal cases on trans parents say children should have professional help to learn of their father’s transition so they can adjust to the change [41]. However the Guardian noted that required “a solid structure of support” for the children, wider than the nuclear family [129]. And yet J cannot see her children.

The eldest son is angry with his father. He blames J. “If he cares, he will leave me alone” [139]. He said his father had done him damage. The child cannot recognise that the damage comes from the Community failing to accept how human beings are, and imposing such terrible control.

You can download the judgment from this page.

Trump lies

Mr Trump cannot be dignified, even when he attempts to imitate a dignified man.

CNN’s report from the time gives the detail. The NYT says that in 2001 Serge Kovaleski reported that the authorities had questioned “a number of people” who were allegedly seen celebrating the attack on the World Trade Centre. He did not report the thousands of Muslims Trump claimed to have seen because that was not true. He did not change his story as Trump alleged, because he never supported Trump’s fantasy.

What is a lie? David Leonhardt points out that some would say “Capitalism has worked better than any other economic system” is a subjective statement. He says it is factual. There is a moment where facts, whose denial is a lie, move into a grey area where there is honest disagreement. There are assertions which are the most accurate we can make, which are nevertheless inaccurate- Newton’s theory of gravity is wrong, but the best possible at the time.

There is also dishonest disagreement. Leonhardt’s second factual statement, Human actions are warming and damaging the planet, is disputed and minimised. It’s just weather, the climate has always changed. The disagreement comes to advance the interests of fossil fuel investors, who make money from releasing CO2.

Here is what Meryl Streep said:

An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that, breathtaking, passionate work.

There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.

And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modelled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.

Trump tweeted,

Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never “mocked” a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him…….

“groveling” when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!

Kellyanne Conway said, He has debunked this so many times. Why is everything taken at face value? You can’t give him the benefit of the doubt on this and he’s telling you what was in his heart? You always want to go by what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart.

Well, what is in his heart? Unquenchable malice towards anyone who questions him, or even inadvertently gets in his way, especially women. Playground insults, no sense of proportion, no dignity, just the arrogance of Idi Amin.

Unfortunately, politics in the US has been pushing the grey area of opinion further and further. No, there are dozens, not millions, of fraudulent votes, but Republicans proceed with voter suppression schemes, requiring photo ID which poor voters may not have. Trump extended their denial of climate change to denial of the ozone hole.

Trump, unsatisfied by big lies, wants lots of little lies. He showed Mr Kovaleski grovelling, he claims, and if his supporters accept his denial of climate change they will swallow that. Some of his lies depend on knowledge of detail: the intelligence services did not decide whether the Russians influenced the election, because that is not their job, but he tweeted, Intelligence stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results. Voting machines not touched! Before, he had denied the Russians were involved. Enough of the populace will swallow this, happy that their man is winning.

Our shared understanding of the truth is chipped away, and everything is disputed on the battle-ground that is politics. It makes working “across the aisle” near impossible. On The Hill, a commenter said, Babs,baby, haven’t you learned yet that if you hit The Donald he is gonna hit you back twice as hard. Go eat some rare caviar from endangered fish in your carbon spewing mega-mansion, fly around on your private jet while lecturing the rest of us how we are destroying the environment and leave the rest of us alone. Barbra Streisand is on the other side, and that is enough. The anger is so great at the other side that they repeat their own side’s lies as truth, and express self-righteous rage and demeaning insults: another commenter says, Old hags mocking fellow Americans and their country which made them millionaires.

The Hill affects a lordly position above the fray: Trump on Monday added that he had never directly insulted reporter Serge Kovaleski’s congenital joint condition, though he inspired outrage last year by making jerky body motions while criticizing Kovaleski, leading some to conclude he was targeting the reporter’s physical challenges. “Some to conclude”! Oh! But Trump was not “criticising” Mr Kovaleski. That is an obvious false characterisation.

In the interests of balance, here is a video saying Trump never mocked Mr Kovaleski. It has a news report at 2.50 saying an investigator said an apartment full of “suspects” celebrated the 9/11 attack. Not thousands, though, and only allegedly celebrating. “I watched in Jersey City, NJ, when thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.” No you didn’t, liar.

Added: The NYT had as its main headline on its digital front page on 24 January, Trump Repeats Lie About Popular Vote in Meeting With Lawmakers. The article began, President Trump used his first official meeting with congressional leaders on Monday to falsely claim that millions of unauthorized immigrants had robbed him of a popular vote majority, a return to his obsession with the election’s results even as he seeks support for his legislative agenda. No, he didn’t. He told a lie, which he does as easily as breathing, and thereby distracted the Times into obsessing over froth. Trump is not stupid. Do him the courtesy of imagining he intends the consequences of his actions. He distracts attention from the damage he is doing by his executive orders, by diverting attention to his lies. He achieves his goals of coarsening public discourse and thereby subverting democracy; and increasing fear, anger and contempt, so shoring up his base.

Benefits of immigration

Immigration is always a benefit to the economy. There are more people, and the new people are more likely to be economically active. The economy grows, and they can be taxed for public benefit, all the things like health, education, natural monopoly utilities and transport which are better done by society, together. No way exists of using competition to make companies serve the public in these services. Public services get better because of immigration. They have got worse since 2010 because of deliberate cuts by the Tory government. The Nationalist lie that immigrants flood our country and damage our public services, used to get hard Right politicians elected who will cut those services further, is a great evil. Cuts inflame people’s fear and anger, and that anger makes people more authoritarian.

Dancers, flibbertigibbets and butterflies like me are in for a hard time.

My friend asked, but why is it always expressed as “good for the economy”? Is there nothing more important? Yes. Immigration is good for the culture, and for each person.

It is difficult. It causes tension. Migrating to a country can curtail horizons rather than expanding them. Polish or Bangladeshi communities exist where some people hardly go out of that small group, or learn any English. Well, people have to achieve the means of survival before they can self-actualise. Any organism explores its surroundings, looking for what will benefit it, avoiding harm, and once they get time to draw breath and really look about themselves loving, creative and adventurous souls will embrace the possibilities of different cultures. Not me, particularly, if I see a “Polski Sklep” I stay out of it, but I am not adventurous cooking even in English cuisine, and once something becomes mainstream, like Italian or Bangladeshi restaurants, I use it happily.

And I feel it is possible to be too assimilated. I was uncomfortable around an Indian Christian woman. I am not sure why, or what she had done I might object to, or what I would rather she had done, but there is something I can’t quite put my finger on. This is a blog, I would never throw out such an inchoate idea in writing published anywhere else.

And yet for adventurous leaders, whom the community will follow, our possibilities are expanded. Culture widens, we get new ways of understanding, expressing ourselves, and relating to others. We have more options, so we are more free.

We move from a homogenous society in which we can predict how people will be, to a diverse society where we accept difference, and that benefits flibbertigibbets and queers, who really have to curtail ourselves to fit a village homogeneity. But no-one fits that homogeneity, really, so everyone benefits.

Except the authoritarians, the grinches, the know-alls and control freaks who want everyone marching in step to the same martial music. Few people are like that naturally- even Mr Farage seeks his own freedom, as he seeks to deny it to everyone else- but people can be forced into that mould, by inflaming and misdirecting their anger and resentment. Diversity is our best defence against totalitarianism.

louise-catherine-breslau-a-young-woman-asleep-in-a-chair