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Smart folk can still be stupid

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Message Paul Titterton
Tony Blair yesterday turned on Britain's Muslim community, saying its leaders had to do 'more to attack not just the extremists' methods, but their false sense of grievance about the west.' according to the Guardian.

Common sense is often very uncommon and makes no sense whatsoever yet it is with a gut feeling that I think this is the call of a madman 'rather than an ability to analyze Tony's mental make up following his latest leap into the unreal.

Which era of grievances is unclear so I assume he meant the recent killing of a big bunch of poorly equipped, war battered people. He wonders why the survivors are not amused.

Throughout history the Islamic people have not been innocent of killing in wars etc. but can we at all caste stones? They've even sometimes been the good guys.

The Muslim conquest of Spain is widely spoken of, as leading to the Golden Age of Spanish Jewry. After Charlton Heston took Spain from Islam, the Jewish people were forced to seek help when told they were not welcome either. Who did they go to? You guessed it. The Muslims were the most enlightened people in the world at the time.

They were also the longest-living. as their technology was so advanced. The Moors in Granada lived an average of seventy years! This was a thousand years ago! This stands in sharp contrast to some parts of present day Scotland where its citizens struggle to reach pensionable age.

Were we better?

The revelation that Scots were sent to the West Indies specifically to act as overseers should not have been shocking to me, but it was. I think that I had rather thought that this horrendous period was all the fault of and inspired by those perennial abusers... the English.

I knew that the beautiful buildings in Glasgow were financed by sugar and tobacco, but I still did not see the situation properly. I knew about the triangle of goods (guns) to Africa, slaves to the West Indies and cotton and sugar to Britain but I fancifully avoided having to consider the stages in between. I even joked that the revenge of the sugar and tobacco connection was that we are the fattest, heaviest, smokers in Europe.

We did a lot of the whipping and gained a reputation for violence that ensured Scots became sought after for that very purpose. This was difficult to absorb. I had only just decided I was Scottish. I was proud of this country and had not equated the rise of Scotland at the end of the 1700s with the downfall of anyone. At that time Scotland had the second highest level of literacy in the world.

Only the Swedes were better and how many Swedish songs can you sing? Everyone sings a Scots song at New Year. And what do they drink? Even the Swedes drink malt whisky at £50 a bottle (for the cheap stuff, the tax there is huge). So on balance the smartest, non Swedish people in the world, with the finest tipple, were still nasty. Let's give the Muslims a break.


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'Hamish ' is an antiwar writer socialist- scientist and musician living in Scotland.
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