Britain’s in a sorry state. It has contorted itself into an awful mess with politically correct dogma.
The latest idiocy comes from the British diplomatic service, the Foreign Office (FCO). Ahead of the Pope’s UK visit in September 2010, British diplomats did some ‘brainstorming’ to come up with proposals they might put to the pope. Proposals for the content of the papal visit.
Brainstorming is right. The proposals dreamed up by these UK diplomats bore no relation to any proposal that could be called diplomatic. They included:
– launching a Child Sex Abuse Helpline
– launching a line of condoms – ‘ Benedict’ condoms
– getting the pope to bless a gay marriage
– inviting the pope to open an abortion clinic
– getting the pope to spend night in a council flat and perform ‘forward rolls’ to entertain children
The diplomats also proposed they would ask the pope to sing a song with the Queen and apologise for the Spanish Armada.
Now, this writer is no fan of any organised religion. And takes on board that Joseph Ratzinger is reported as having protected paedophile priests. UK scientist Richard Dawkins has initiated legal action to try and have Ratzinger arrested in the UK arguing, quite rationally, that he should face charges. Whether you agree with him or not, he’s presenting a logical legal case for trying a crime.
The behaviour of the Foreign Office diplomats is something quite different. Mocking, infantile and deliberately insulting, not just to the catholic pope but to millions of catholics, their behaviour is the exact opposite of diplomatic. If the document had been part of a satirical comedy show, or had come from a protest group, that owuld be understandable. The Catholic church should be no more or less subject to criticism and lampooning than any other creed or ideology.
What the Foreign Office diplomats appear not to have understood is that they’re in the diplomatic service.
Whatever the religious, legal and political tensions surrounding Ratzinger’s visit to the UK, it’s absolutely not their job to approach that visit with a sneering and infantile attitude. The fact that they did exactly that and then felt free to publish and circulate their ‘proposal’ document to a senior Foreign Office official, to the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street, to the UK’s Department for International Development (DFIF) and to the Northern Ireland Office (where all things catholic clearly have particularly delicate significance) is astounding.
Not only does it seem that these ‘diplomats’ operate with all the intelligence of teenagers engaged in student politics, but they clearly felt Britain’s Prime Minister, Foreign Office and DFID would be fine with deliberately insulting suggestions that the pope be asked to open an abortion clinic and promote condoms.
It took press reports and protests from the Vatican to make the Foreign Office see how inane its diplomatic service has become. Attempting to play down the document, the FCO dismissed the proposals as having been produced by junior diplomat, 23-year-old Steven Mulvain. Diplomat Mulvain lists one of his hobbies as “drinking a lot”. Despite producing these proposals for the pope’s visit, Steven Mulvain gets to keep his job in the diplomatic service. His boss, Anjoum Noorani, a young Oxford-educated graduate of Pakistani origin, is likely to be disciplined for having authorized the silly proposal document.
What this incident reflects however is that British authorities – from the police to the prosecution service, from local government to national government and the Foreign Office – are riddled with a political correctness which is not only unbalanced and extreme but also thoroughly infantile.
Silly ‘diplomats’ like Steven Mulvain and the managers who sanctioned the document and have kept him in post would, you can bet, be completely supine and obsequious around, say, South African President Jacob Zuma. (Zuma has long faced rape, corruption and racketeering allegations and is a polygamist who bought one of his wives for ten cows. He has said publicly that AIDS can be prevented by showering after sex.) Equally, they wouldn’t dream mocking or insulting islam in this way though islam is an ideology open to strong criticism on many fronts, not least its treatment of women and girls.
I half wondered on hearing this insane story if it was even to be taken at face value. Since Richard Dawkins is trying to have the pope arrested I wondered if this is what happened:
Vatican officials talked with the FCO and said they don’t want the pope to face arrest in Britain. Neither did they want to cancel the visit as it would show they feared arrest. The FCO suggested a way out, offering to manufacture a diplomatic row so the Vatican could cancel the visit and save face. They then circulated this silly document pretending it was serious.
If that was what happened, it actually would be diplomatic (whether you agree the pope should face arrest or not.) It would also explain why Steven Mulvain gets to keep his post and Anjoum Noorani is merely being questioned about his responsibility in this diplomatic farce.
Sadly for the state of Britain, my guess is that the ‘diplomatic’ document and the proposals for the pope’s visit were as genuine as they were childish.