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Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Popes, Queens and Tony Blair

I learned much from this fascinating interview with Dr. David Starkey, Britain's gay Tory Protestant atheist monarchist historian (yes, you read that right) over at Pink News, even though I've been watching his television programs on the Tudor monarchs for years. Bottom line from "Britain's rudest man" is that monarchy will probably go on into the 22nd century “Because most of us have decided that politicians of what- ever stripe are such absolute awful shits, the monarchy looks to be quite safe just by way of a reaction against that.”

“If you are dealing with monarchical regimes, the personal is the political, as indeed it is within quasi-monarchical regimes like New Labour or Bush’s White House. They are not dead, I only wish court studies were dead, but they are alive and horribly well...Back in 1997 when Tony Blair was still fresh and washed behind the ears, it looked to be really quite at risk. Once that insidious sense of betrayal and dishonesty and warmongering became attached to Labour politicians then republicanism, which has never really been a significant movement in Britain, fades away again.”

His support of the Pope (remember, he's a "Protestant atheist") in the dispute with Islam is also noteworthy:
The tension between Western and Muslim values has become a major issue in recent years, and Starkey surprises me by being broadly supportive of the controversial comments made by Pope Benedict about the nature of Islam.

While pointing out that the Catholic Church has a lot of apologising to do before it starts to point the finger at Islam, citing the Crusades and the Spanish conquest of Latin America among the many sins of the Roman Church, Dr Starkey thinks that Benedict’s point about the nature of Islam is correct.

“There is nothing in Islam that corresponds to “turn the other cheek”, to the pacifism that I think is the authentic tradition of the New Testament. “Islam spreads in a completely different way from Christianity, which spread through the Roman Empire by conversion and an almost willing acceptance of persecution. “Islam spreads by conquest. Mohammed even conquers Mecca. Also it has a very clear doctrine of holy war, and it does not make a distinction between church and state.

“Jesus, living under the Roman occupation, gave us the famous phrase: ‘render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s’. That does not exist in Islam and I would argue that that distinction is the key to why Christianity and progress are so closely related.
“The separation of church and state is the spirit of freedom. It is somewhere that we can escape from the crushing weight of authority. This is why I think the history of Western Europe is a history of progress and the history of Islam is not.”

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