An odd bunch

Every now and then someone comes along with a few short lines that seem to perfecly encapsulate the absurdity of the English.  Take the first paragraph of this Sunday Times book review, for example:

Insular, patriotic and fiercely independent, they have usually subcontracted their monarchy to foreigners. After being conquered by Saxons, Vikings and French, they offered the crown successively to Welsh, Scots and, ad infinitum, Germans. They made only two requirements, fecundity and the right religion. They were constantly let down on both scores.

These days, we seem to be developing a bit of a fetish for Scottish Prime Ministers.

Forced to convert

In the wake of the news that a pair of Fox journalists were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint there seems to have been a spate of articles about how Islam has a historical propensity towards forced conversions.  But, read most of the articles, and you’d imagine forced conversions were a particularly Islamic trait.

Take Andrew Bostom’s piece in today’s Front Page Mag, for example:

Forced conversions in Islamic history are not exceptional—they have been the norm, across three continents—Asia, Africa, and Europe—for over 13 centuries.

[…] Unsettling realities of the historical continuum of forced conversion to Islam must be discussed. The living Islamic fanaticism of the past cannot be allowed to poison the present (and future), unchallenged by Muslims themselves.

Not a word about the forced conversions to Christianity, which have also been going on for thousands of years.  

In ancient Europe it was all the rage, with everyone from the Romans onwards taking a shot at persecuting the poor old Pagans.  Vincent Ferrer in 15th century Spain kept the fashion going by converting the Jews to Christianity, on pain of death if need be.  And who would want to forget the Muslim slaves unfortunate enough to be transported thousands of miles across the Atlantic and forced by their owners in North America and the Caribbean not only to work themselves to the bone, but to adopt an entirely alien religion as well?

Forced conversions have always been the perogative of the strong over the weak, and particularly the perogative of military victors.  What is the point, after all, of fighting a long and bloody religious war?  To ask people politely if they wouldn’t mind sitting down with a nice cup of tea for a quick chat about whether their barbaric religion really is right for them?

Sometimes it would be nice to see a little bit – just a little bit – of balance and rationality prevail. 

Nine rules for Japanese conscripts, 1940

So, you want to know how to be a second world war Japanese conscript?

  1. You are the lowest in the army; always bow and salute everyone first!
  2. When called, respond with a loud voice.
  3. Never be later than your comrades.
  4. Always carry mop and broom at daily cleaning sessions.
  5. Always do the squad leader’s laundry first.
  6. Eat all meals within three minutes. Keep toilet visits short.
  7. Keep your nails trimmed and your personal shelf tidy.
  8. Always be quickest to fall in.
  9. In case of insufficient members to line up, bring along one from another unit to make up the numbers.

I particularly like rule number three, which provides safety in numbers, and rule number nine, which details just how to make up those numbers.

(Via: Far Outliers).