Papiss Cissé and The Hypocritical World of Buffet Religion

Papiss has been rolling the dice with his Newcastle future during the off-season. (Photo: Guardian.)

Papiss has been rolling the dice with his Newcastle future during the off-season. (Photo: Guardian.)

Papiss Cissé is a striker for Newcastle United and he is a muslim. He could also probably apply for an honorary doctorate in hypocrisy if such things existed. Newcastle’s new shirt sponsorship by the pay day loan firm Wonga has conflicted with Cissé’s belief, common under some interpretations of Sharia law, that Muslims must not benefit from lending money. The row has reached a stage where the player left the club’s pre-season tour of Portugal as he continued his anti-Wonga stance, although he’s clearly not anti-wonga per se as he earns a not undismal £40,000 a week.

Cissé has already been accused in some quarters of a cynical attempt to force a move from Newcastle for two reasons: Firstly he had no problem abnegating his religious beliefs before when the club strip was branded with financial services like Northern Rock and Virgin Money (he wore both kits). Secondly all the other muslim players at Newcastle of which there are quite a few, like Hatem Ben Arfa, have no problem wearing the new kit.

Then it was revealed that old Papiss enjoyed doing stuff like this in his spare time:

Papiss, pictured here in the fetching black gilet, fingering some chips.

Papiss, pictured here in the fetching black gilet, fingering some chips.

 

A spokesperson for Aspers Casino described Cisse as “an occasional visitor” who was “very well behaved and very welcome”, but would not confirm whether or not he placed any bets.

In Islam gambling is an even more grievous sin (or so I’ve been told anyway) than money lending. In the Holy Qur’an it is labelled as “Ithm al-kabir”  or “a very great sin”, a description incidentally only used elsewhere for the practice of drinking (not rape or slavery or murder eh?) It is probably for the best that Cissé hasn’t been papped sporting a pint of Newcastle Brown Ale in the city centre somewhere.

The player’s actions have of course been granted with all the usual vehemence you’d expect. Newcastle city councillor Dipu Ahad had this nugget of wisdom to share with us:

“People will say, ‘look, this is Islam they can pick and choose whatever they want’, and Islam isn’t about picking and choosing”

Ahad is of course utterly wrong. Life and by extension, religion is about picking and choosing things, and the process easily makes hypocrites and liars of us all.  A short quote from Dostoyevsky ought to be sufficient to cool the councillor’s umbrage:

But,  finally, there are things that man is afraid of divulging even to himself and every decent man has quite an accumulation of them.

I’d love to find someone who could honestly say they were not the same as the above. We all do things we shouldn’t sometimes and often these are not things we want to share with anyone else. It is easy (and will no doubt be commonplace) to argue that Newcastle deserve better than such duplicitous treatment from one of their star players. The football cliché of choice would be that he has ‘sullied the shirt’ or whatever. Personally I’d argue that Cissé’s objection to Wonga is not entirely without justification as by all accounts they are a horrid company. Yet it is Cissé who has been damaged most in this affair, simply because he now appears a hypocrite to all the world, however noble his original intentions.

Papiss is no different to the vast majority of religious believers on earth. Only by being a product of Catholic education was I able to spend a great deal of time observing this ‘pick and choose’ phenomenon first hand, and in my time at school contradictions such as the one so aptly displayed by Newcastle’s want-away striker were as common as rain in Wales.

I’ve met many inspirational and intelligent Catholics and to a man and to a woman they were just as flawed as me, except that the flaw was dug even deeper into them by their poisonous subscription to a pointless faith. Some of these people, who professed to love everybody equally, would happily envisage condemning homosexuals to fiery torture sub specie aeternitatis. Religion makes it easy to believe and espouse two completely contradictory notions at the same time. Confront any believer with whatever obvious discrepancy of their faith you can find (there are thousands in Christianity alone) and you will be confronted with some wretched theodicy or breezily unsatisfying explanation. They may as well be as mute as a stone.

This kind of thing is not a good symptom for us humans. Samuel Butler claimed that life is a bit like playing the violin in public and learning the instrument as you go on. If we attempt to be the best we can be without recourse to the blood-flecked codicies and manuals of laughably primitive tribes, hypocrisy won’t disappear, but it will certainly be less pervasive as it is now amongst the parties of God. If Cissé had the good fortune to be an atheist he wouldn’t have been able to undermine his own cause quite so easily.

Advertisements

The Horror of The House of Windsor

Image

What right-thinking person thinks it possible to have a “famous” baby? For that is what our future King will be, famous before he even does anything. At least by the time Mozart was eight he’d had the temerity to compose a symphony. This ‘famous’ baby, I confidently predict, will do nothing worthy and nothing important enough to earn all the simpering adulation it will be received with. And that is the way it should be. Babies shouldn’t be famous because that is an absurdity. It is a fiction.

The Royal Family makes me embarrassed to be British. The pretence that we are a democracy, that this country is egalitarian will melt away when this baby is presented to the fawning blimps that constitute a minority in these isles and the global media gathers to celebrate the continuation of the hereditary principle. Why not go and celebrate infanticide, incest and bestiality then – the other trappings of a medieval society. In fact, when pageants such as this one occur we are all reminded of our place: we are subjects not citizens. This child will be the gilded strut that props up our unlovely system of class distinction and hierarchy.

Image

The House of Windsor are the great progenitors of our culture of surface-fetishism, our worship of the unimportant lives of unremarkable people led on by the evermore vulgar media inculcated impulses of cheering and jeering.  Yet conversely they have managed to insert themselves into a mysterious and parochially exotic world. The world of national tradition; and when she dies our current monarch will find herself a symbol of the nation as much as Dickens, or the paintings of Turner and Constable, or the sound of Big Ben tolling in sodden London.

This group of mammals does not deserve to be part of this tradition and their place there is an invention. Cameron, Miliband and Salmond were eviscerated for attending the Wimbledon final as it was seen by many as an example of political opportunism – what then of the Royals presence at the Olympics and all the other great circuses of our island. As William Cobbett remarked, you can tell a lot about a country that refers to the Royal Mint and the National Debt.

Image

Fun fact: Charles first met Diana when she was 13 and he was 19! LMFAO

What then will become of our little royal superior? Perhaps he will be a fetid creature like Charles, a man so unctuous that he makes one tempted to believe Mohammed Al Fayed’s moonshine afflicted and thoroughly off the wall story that Diana was assassinated. It may be that the kid is more like it’s raffish uncle Harry, a man who enjoyed blowing up Afghani peasants from the seat of his attack helicopter so much that he participated in not one, but two tours of bloodslaked butchery.

Isaac Deutscher once said of the old Soviet Union, as the great clanking beast rusted and died, “Plus ca change, plus c’est la même chose.” No axiom is more appropriate for the toxic reality of deficit Britain, where the money spent yearly on the Royals could pay for 9560 nurses or 8200 police officers.

The Windsors and their army of adulators await the annunciation of the child with the same atavistic fever as those who yearn to see the slick of virgin’s blood on a white bedsheet at some barbaric wedding ritual. There won’t ever be an honest discussion about these people and their role in our country. We are too inured to them now, for where they tread we are but supernumeraries in this dream of life.

From Hope to Fear: The Obama Obfuscation

It is going to be one of the Great Questions of the era we currently find ourselves in.

How did this guy:

tumblr_md31dmr7aq1qzupj0o1_500Turn into this guy:

BMaF3jqCMAAGZSpSince the start of the year Obama’s administration has been deluged with a series of quasi-Nixonian scandals: a two month phone tapping exercise led by the Department of Justice on Associated Press journalists (the AP responded by calling it a “massive and unprecedented intrusion”) and the news that the IRS targeted a number of right-wing campaign groups in a move that might at best be described as “dodgy”.

Then came the revelation that US government was basically spying on everyone through PRISM, a top-secret surveillance program that gathered intelligence from Microsoft, Facebook, Google and other Silicon Valley giants.  Obama’s response to these exposures was a study in intellectual dishonesty that you really ought to see here:

Really watch Obama in this video. Note the slight hunch, the greying hair and his unsmiling minders behind him. He waves away the greatest denouement of government intrusion into the private lives of its citizens in history with a flippant conveyor belt of platitudes and blandishments. Observe adages as tired as his body language, 58 seconds of crap like ‘trust’, ‘oversight’ and ‘bad guys’.

d8e

You cherish the constitution? Bullshit. PRISM and its associated programs take the 4th amendment, hose it with gasoline and light the bastard thing up. Obama, lest we forget (or try and make excuses for him) is a constitutional law professor who knows exactly what it is that he has helped to dismantle. He is up there with this guy now:

I didn’t want to believe that Obama was just another political hack. Back in 2008 he seemed like a radical departure from the stuffy, fed on lies and bullshit world of Clinton and Bush. Obama graced paragraphs with Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks and yeah, you know what, it felt right. Obama seemed to be the promise of America made flesh. Anything could be projected onto Obama and the Brave New World we hoped he represented. Obama the apotheosis of progress. Obama the harbinger of a new age of racial harmony that would spirit us away from old dysfunctions and conflicts, Obama the story: his journey from the working class to the White House was Gatsby-ish in its scope and emotional resonances. This was before he was even inaugurated, before he even fucking did anything at all – the guy was an action figure before he was the President. Seeing the name of Dr King or Ghandi or Mandela in the same paragraph as Obama’s brings home the nauseous realisation that they don’t have anything in common at all.

obama-wins-reelection-memes

 

No one cares though. No riots, no demonstrations, no real outcry outside of the Guardian comment section/stoned guys on Reddit strata of society. The American public actually seems to love being spied on and here in Britain there is one CCTV camera for every 14 subjects (we’re not technically citizens in the UK). Voltaire reminds us how dangerous apathy is:

295456_10151395645450155_1626127152_n

 

I find myself watching Obama on television and not really recognising what he has become. The firebrand from 2004, the avatar of hope in 2008 has become the dull diet Bush of 2013. The only real ‘change’ Obama has wrought has been in this transformation, this sacrifice of his values. It is hard not to feel angry, hard not to feel betrayed at some personal level. View his metamorphosis here:

I haven’t even mentioned his failure to close Guantanamo Bay prison, his use of a fleet of robotic aerial drones to hose liquid metal death on third world shepards without recourse to international law. These facts, and every scandal of the last few months are symptomatic of a flawed and dysfunctional administration.

Christ, I’m starting to sound like FOX news.