The internet is not merely a great resource, it is the greatest repository of knowledge of all time, it is big, really big, I mean really really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts compared to the internet. (42% of plagiarism is tribute, OK?).
By an amazing coincidence 42% is also the proportion of internet content content qualifying as bullshit. Some of the bullshit (about 42% in fact) is obvious nonsense or transparent propaganda and is readily detectable from the content itself or from its source.
Sometimes the source is veiled or masquerades as something else. After all; who would believe anything from “NaziBullshit.com” ? Quite a few come to think of it. Most insidious of all, the source may be an otherwise likable and steadfast friend who innocently repeats a falsehood because it has a superficial appearance of truth, profundity or plausibility.
Here are two examples of false memes (aka lies). I chose these two examples of false memes because they fooled me until my deeply embedded skeptic circuits kicked in and my bullshit alarm started to sound.
The Belgian Mayor Letter:
The mayor of a Belgium municipality, Marc Duvivier, is alleged to have sent a letter to the citizens of of Ath explaining why he refused to give in to local Muslim demands to stop serving pork in Ath schools. The letter usually goes along these lines:
Muslims must understand that they have to adapt to Belgium, its customs, its traditions, its way of life, because that’s where they chose to immigrate. They must understand that they have to integrate and learn to live in Belgium.
They [Muslims] must understand that it is for them to change their lifestyle, not the Belgians who so generously welcomed them. They must understand that the Athois are neither racist nor xenophobic, they accepted many immigrants before Muslims (whereas the reverse is not true that Muslims do not accept non-Muslim foreigners on their soil).
They must understand that no more than other nations, the Belgians are not willing to give up their identity, their culture. If Belgium is a land of welcome, it’s not Marc Duvivier that welcomes foreigners, but the Belgian people as a whole.
Finally, they must understand that in Belgium with its Judeo-Christian roots, Christmas trees, churches and religious festivals, religion must remain in the private domain. The municipality of Ath was right to refuse any concessions to Islam and Sharia.
For Muslims that disagree with secularism and do not feel comfortable in Belgium, there are 57 beautiful Muslim countries in the world, most of them under-populated and ready to receive them with open halal arms in accordance with Shariah.
If you left your country for Belgium, and not for other Muslim countries, it may be because you considered that life is better in Belgium than elsewhere. Ask yourself this question, just once, “Why is it better here in Belgium than where you come from?”
A canteen with pork is part of the answer
Mayor Duvivier is real but the letter is false and the local Muslims never demanded the withdrawal of pork from school menus. Now don’t get me wrong, I will oppose any effort to introduce sharia law into my country but I would oppose it because religion of any stripe has no legitimate place in the conduct of political affairs in a secular country and ought not to have any place in our schools either.
I happen to love bacon and I would oppose anyone who tried to criminalize my bacon butties.
On the other hand I would not force oink based protein on anyone. I have no objection to people eating halal food, I have no objection to halal restaurants and if KFC or McDonalds want to have a few halal outlets they should be free to make that business decision without a bunch of morons baiting the staff over the absence of bacon.
I long ago discovered that eating kosher food had no effect on my foreskin, my love of curries did not make me a Hindu and my eyes have remained more or less the same shape despite years of addiction to all forms of Asian food. A lifelong love affair with hamburgers, Kentucky fried chicken and blackened catfish failed to make me a Southern Baptist but I did once have an irresistible urge to invade Poland after eating sausage and sauerkraut, OK I made that one up in the interests of balance.
Variations: A variant of this item shifted the locale from Belgium to Quebec, Canada. In 2016 the tale moved around the planet to Maryborough, Victoria, Australia.
Bottom line: there are plenty of good and honest reasons for opposing sharia incursions into our secular institutions. And oppose them we should because a secular society is our best and only guarantee of religious freedom and freedom from religion. Our strongest weapon is the truth, we don’t need to make stuff up.
The first Australian Prime Minister letter:
A letter purporting to be from Edmund Barton, the first Australian Prime Minister is another call for immigrants to “fit in” it goes as follows:
In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an Australian and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin.
But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an Australian, and nothing but an Australian… There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an Australian, but something else also, isn’t an Australian at all. We have room for but one flag, the Australian flag…. We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the Australian people.’
Edmund Barton 1907
This post is actually a modified version of a letter written by US president Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt to the American Defense Society. Roosevelt wrote the passage in 1919, shortly before his death, not in 1907 as claimed in the post.
Variations: Variants of this item use John Howard, Kevin Rudd and Australia’s first woman Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, as the source of similar xenophobic falsehoods.
Fortunately for all us Australians, most immigrants absorb the best of Australia while simultaneously changing it ever so slightly. Australia is a great place to be because of its immigrants, not in spite of them. That is pretty much true of the UK, Canada, the USA and just about every other country on the planet worth visiting or living in.
The truth matters.
Quick Links to Photos: Rome, Orté, Palermo, Cefalu, Rimini, San Leo, Bologna, Bordeaux, Anglet, Biarritz, Bayonne, Arcachon, La Tremblade, Angers, Port Thibeau, Maison sur Loire, St Gemmes, Loire Walk, Quimper, St Cado, Nantes, Moulay.
Marie and I flew from Perth on 05 July 2016 courtesy of Emirates EK425 to Dubai. After a good nights sleep we boarded EK099 for Rome’s Fumicino airport.
We didn’t stay in Rome on this particular trip but you can Click Rome to view previous snaps of the eternal city.
From Palermo we flew north to Bologna to visit some old friends in Rimini. In fact they live in a wonderful villa in the hills overlooking Rimini. We had a great day visiting the town of San Leo with its Fortress of San Leo, a one time residence of the pope I believe. San Leo is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Rimini in the Italian region Emilia-Romagna, located about 135 km southeast of Bologna
That completed our Italian visit and it was on to France.
Ryan Air got us safely to Bordeaux where we took a regional SNCF service to Bayonne from where the charming Francine drove us to her apartment in the nearby town of Anglet. Francine introduced us to the neighboring towns of Biarritz and Bayonne. We also took a day trip into the nearby Spanish town of San Sebastian.