Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Sunday, 5 March 2006

Archbishop of Canterbury on 'wrong side of history'?

It looks inreasingly as if he may be, although for that analysis to be valid one would have to accept my definition of what is the 'wrong side of history', or more specifically where I would like it to be. Rowan Williams is now expressing more clearly than ever before his fears of a rupture in the Anglican communion which might last "for decades", all because of the appointment of one man, who happens to be gay, as a Bishop in the US. Until a year or so ago I would have had no uncertainty about which future trends might prove to be on the 'right side of history', but in more recent times I have begun to have my own doubts - after all, who would have believed five years ago that the US, long regarded as a bastion of democracy, would have a government which tries to justify locking people up without trial, for years on end? Who would have believed that in our own Parliamentary democracy we would have walked into a situation where we are the most CCTVed population on the planet, all on the basis of it being for our own protection? Who would have believed ten years ago that a US President would want to add a new amendment to the US Constitution to outlaw the whole concept of gays becoming marriage partners? Who would have believed two years ago that our own government would seek authority, so far denied it, to lock people up without charge for upto 90 days, again on the grounds of it being for our own good. Who could ever have imagined that a minister of the Crown, former Home Secretary David Blunkett, could ever have mused aloud on the justifiability under any circumstances of using intelligence gained under torture as a defensive measure? So complacent belief in the idea that gay 'rights' or 'equality', or however you wish to describe it, is a one way bet is no longer a particularly safe option, in my view. Make no mistake, if a political party judges it expedient to change direction to appeal to latent bigotry in the electorate, it could happen very rapidly. Look how ready are our major political parties to exploit such bigotry when it suit their purposes in matters relating to 'asylum seekers' and immigration generally.

The right side of history may turn out to be, twenty of fifty years from now, very far removed from where I (and I hope at least a few others) have always thought it would almost inevitably lie. It is all really rather depressing.

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