UK, u keep UKIP  

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About a week ago I watched a number of TV series and movies worth discussing. One of them was about the Brits and the war, and it is somehow connected, in my mind, to UKIP and Farage.

I-voted-UKIPFirst, it was Game of Thrones, but I forgot what I watched. I wanted to write about it, but for some reason, I always forget that quickly – I don’t even remember the name of the main characters. I then watched the sixth episode of the seventh season of Mad Men, The Strategy. It’s about quite a few things, such as what women want, how women see marriage as an expression of love while men see it as an alliance / partnership of sorts and how Don is helping Peggy bridge the Confidence Gap (review, recap). Yet a TV series is a gift that keeps on giving. The movie The Railway Man (2013) on the other hand, was a one time deal, more apt to be discussed here.

The Railway Man (2013) on IMDb The movie, starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth, (trailer1, trailer2, history, interview, tiff), is about forgiveness and moving on. It reminded me of that massive surrender, the biggest in the British Empire history – Percival’s at Singapore / Malaya.

Wikipedia is helpful in recreating those moments.

On the evening of 10 February, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, cabled Wavell, saying:

I think you ought to realise the way we view the situation in Singapore. It was reported to Cabinet by the C.I.G.S. [Chief of the Imperial General Staff, General Alan Brooke] that Percival has over 100,000 [sic] men, of whom 33,000 are British and 17,000 Australian. It is doubtful whether the Japanese have as many in the whole Malay Peninsula... In these circumstances the defenders must greatly outnumber Japanese forces who have crossed the straits, and in a well-contested battle they should destroy them. There must at this stage be no thought of saving the troops or sparing the population. The battle must be fought to the bitter end at all costs. The 18th Division has a chance to make its name in history. Commanders and senior officers should die with their troops. The honour of the British Empire and of the British Army is at stake. I rely on you to show no mercy to weakness in any form. With the Russians fighting as they are and the Americans so stubborn at Luzon, the whole reputation of our country and our race is involved. It is expected that every unit will be brought into close contact with the enemy and fight it out ... (The Second World War. Vol. IV. By Winston Churchill.)

Wavell subsequently told Percival that the ground forces were to fight on to the end, and that there should not be a general surrender in Singapore.

My attack on Singapore was a bluff – a bluff that worked. I had 30,000 men and was outnumbered more than three to one. I knew that if I had to fight for long for Singapore, I would be beaten. That is why the surrender had to be at once. I was very frightened all the time that the British would discover our numerical weakness and lack of supplies and force me into disastrous street fighting. Tomoyuki Yamashita via Shores 1992, p. 383.

On 11 February, knowing that Japanese supplies were running perilously low, Yamashita decided to bluff and he called on Percival to "give up this meaningless and desperate resistance". By this stage, the fighting strength of the 22nd Brigade—which had borne the brunt of the Japanese attacks—had been reduced to a few hundred men. The Japanese had captured the Bukit Timah area, including most of the Allied ammunition and fuel and giving them control of the main water supplies.

Yes, one can certainly find excuses for Percival. He had no tank, the Japanese had 200. Though he had superiority in men, he lacked sufficient planes and ships. He had not been properly supplied, his requests were ignored and he was not allowed to build defences on neutral Thai territory (which the Japanese invaded anyway).

His biggest strategic mistakes are detailed painfully by Wikipedia.

Perhaps his greatest mistake was to resist the building of fixed defences in either Johore or the north shore of Singapore, dismissing them in the face of repeated requests to start construction from his Chief Engineer, Brigadier Ivan Simson, with the comment "Defences are bad for morale – for both troops and civilians". In doing so, Percival threw away the potential advantages he could have derived from the 6,000 engineers under his command and perhaps missed his best chance to blunt the danger posed by the Japanese tanks.

Percival also insisted on defending the north-eastern shore of Singapore most heavily, against the advice of the Allied supreme commander in South East Asia, General Archibald Wavell. Percival was perhaps fixed on his responsibilities for defending the Singapore Naval Base. He also spread his forces thinly around the island and kept few units as a strategic reserve. When the Japanese attack came in the west, the Australian 22nd Brigade took the brunt of the assault. Percival refused to reinforce them as he continued to believe that the main assault would occur in the north east.

Yet this movie wasn’t the first time I was amazed underwhelmed by British exploits in the war. A documentary I watched a few months ago brought to my attention a Romanian-born spymaster. I am obviously talking about Vera Atkins, the Galati born daughter of Max Rosenberg, a German Jewish industrialist. What is remarkable to me is that she was born in Galati around the same time as Zodian. Whereas he was adopted by a family who had lost their child, she was adopted by Britain. They had quite different upbringings – she was taught several languages, Romanian most likely not being one of them, whereas he only knew Romanian (if he learned anything else, it was likely on his own). He may have worked in his youth for some business owned by her father. And while he had, as an adult, certain “Securitate” and maybe even KGB involvements, later complaining in his documentary about the “secretomania” prevalent at the time and how he tried to save innocents from Soviet reprisals, she was a spymaster sending highly trained, volunteer spies to their certain deaths in occupied France – a remarkable juxtaposition.

The above are all reasons why the informed individual is better equipped to avoid falling into the prejudice trap. A “politically-correct” position, though unpopular, is generally far more logically consistent.

Here is my comment to a ZBiM-style “article” by one Rod Liddle, where, commenting on Nigel Farage’s interview fallout, he jumps on the Romanyphobia bandwagon by claiming that himself would also generally choose German (over Romanian) neighbours (little did he know most Romanians would prefer German neighbours as well). Links added by me.

GentlemanPugilist picked on what he thought was O’Brien intellectual dishonesty:

  • It seems clear to me that Farage was asking for the interviewer to provide a definition of the term, which is fair enough given what constitutes racism. For example, I can remember numerous occasions where people have been accused of being racist towards Muslims, which is bizarre as it is a religion and demonstrates how prejudice is often conflated with racism.
  • Furthermore is one a racist because they believe that there are biological differences between the races besides those of a superficial nature? Are, for example, Ashkenazi Jews more intelligent than aboriginal Australians, or Caucasians for that matter? Are black people faster than people from East Asia? Surely denying that different racial groups have evolved differently in order to adjust to their particular climate, contradicts Darwin's theory of evolution? On the Origin of Species had the alternative title the Preservation of the Favoured Races in the Struggle For Life. What's more it's obvious to anybody that Africans have evolved to have darker skin in order to protect them from the sun's rays, or perhaps Europeans became lighter in order to help absorb vitamin D.
  • There are many different definitions of what constitutes a 'racist', and often it's just a term of abuse used to silence anybody winning an argument with a 'liberal'.

In my reply, I tried bringing some reason back into the debate.

If you don’t know these less glorious chapters of British recent war history, you are likely to call the French “cheese eating surrender monkeys”, or a people likely to draw a line in the sand, then surrender to whomever passes it first. Yet the British have done something quite similar, though less talked about.

The European Eurosceptic vote was predictable when considering the relentless mass-media attack on immigrants, combined with the meagre recovery and pre-existing biases. Nigel Farage is doing what everybody else, from bloggers to tabloids did – appeal to the lowest common denominator. In fact, the newcomers are no exception, joining their Western counterparts in idiotic prejudices.

Sources / More info: imdb-rm, wiki-singa, wiki-vera, spect-ukip, spect-germ

Thank you for reading (mulţam fain pentru cetire)! Publicat Sunday, May 25, 2014 . Similar articles under the following categories (poţi găsi articole similare sub următoarele categorii): (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe) . Dacă ţi-a plăcut articolul, PinIt-uieste-l, ReddIt-eaza-l, stumble-uieste-l altora, trimite-l pe WhatsApp yMess şi consideră abonarea la fluxul RSS sau prin email. Ma poti de asemenea gasi pe Google. Trackback poateputea fi trimis prin URL-ul de sub Comentarii.
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