And so 2014 is nearly over. It’s been a year where we’ve seen the seemingly unstoppable rise of UKIP, Ebola, ISIS, another crisis in Gaza, the World Cup and the Ice Bucket Challenge. What could possibly stand out in the midst of such a bustling year?
Well, here’s my pick. Whilst I’m sure I have read some brilliant pieces which have become lost in the haze, Nick Cohen’s September article, ‘The phantom menace of militant atheism‘ really stood out for me:
‘Ever since Iraq, I have also known that the intelligence services’ “threats” can be imaginary. But I know this, too, and so does everyone else: if a bomb explodes, no one will think that a “militant atheist” has attacked his or her country. No one will mutter: “I wonder if someone has taken this god delusion argument too far.” Or: “Atheists should have known that violent words lead to violent deeds.”‘
Fantastic stuff. Nick really nails the absurdity of trying to equate fundamentalist religion and fundamentalist secularism, and it’s well worth a read.
Now onto the worst. Aside from the major events of the year, there have been plenty of ‘twitterstorms’ for us to enjoy. There was Michael Fabricant’s remarks on punching Yasmin Alibhai Brown, which I wrote about here, Emily Thornberry tweeting a picture of some England flags and of course, ‘shirtstorm’. But how could my award for worst article go to anyone but the inimitable Dan Hodges? There really is a wealth to choose from; however, seeing as most of them are a variation on the theme of ‘I don’t like Ed Miliband’, and because this one was just so extraordinary, I had to pick: ‘It’s time to ditch the principal of beyond reasonable doubt.‘
In this piece Dan decided to extend his primary modus operandi of writing broadly on a subject he knows very little about to the law, and ended up with this piece effectively arguing for one of our most dearly-held principles of justice to be replaced in favour of a draconian, ‘police and state know best’ approach. Not quite what I’d expect from a small statist …
I must also give an honourable mention to Cathy Newman’s article in The Telegraph last week entitled: ‘Sexism at the heart of Labour? Surely not.’ In this article she boldly proclaims that Lucy Powell, vice-chair of Miliband’s election campaign, was bound to ‘get it in the neck some time for being successful, young – and above all female’ and then proceeds to write an entire article without offering a shred of evidence for gender being a motive in people sniping at her. Even better than that, she completely ignores that Danny Alexander also got it in the neck, seemingly no other female in the Shadow Cabinet is a victim of this alleged sexism and that the main reasons for Powell being disliked are a) it actually was a bad document she drafted and b) she’s a key ally of the, hardly popular, Miliband and for this reason was promoted.
However, our bold Cathy was undeterred. Her ability to ‘smell the sexism a mile off’ apparently extends to where there’s no reason to believe it exists aside from, in her words, ‘Many of [Powell’s] colleagues are men, so it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that much of the vitriol hurled in Powell’s direction has a whiff of sexism about it.’ Interesting. I’ll leave you with Cathy’s own words as my judgement on this matter, ‘Sexism at the heart of the Labour party? Surely not.’