One day we'll wish they had left the Wall alone

by PETER HITCHENS, Mail on Sunday
August 20, 2001



ALL those grainy pictures of the Berlin Wall being built 40 years ago only make me wish that they would put it up again.

It is not that I want the East Germans to be shoved back into their prison state, just that the world - and especially Britain - seems to have paid a very high price for the liberation of Eastern Europe.

In years to come, I suspect the Cold War will be remembered as a good, safe time.

As long as it lasted, a lot of things could not happen. America could not support the IRA.

Germany could not poke its nose into the Balkans, and the massacres and ethnic cleansing which followed the break-up of Yugoslavia could not take place.

Nor could there be floods of miserable refugees.

In the days of the Wall, the European Union was a fairly harmless body which knew that becoming a superstate was a distant dream.

In the days of the Wall, the Middle East was - compared with today - stable and predictable, untroubled by unhinged fantasies of Arab and Jew living happily side by side.

Perhaps most important of all, we in Europe had real peace, the only kind which can be relied on, guaranteed by strong defences and unchallenged borders. Now, the whole European continent is in a frightening flux.

Travel east of Prague and every frontier is open to question.

Many of the new liberated regimes are shaky.

Russia, foolishly humiliated by George Bush Senior back in the early 1990s, is quietly rebuilding its military strength and just as quietly turning back into a centralised police state which will soon once more menace the liberty of its neighbours.

America is not likely to come to their rescue yet again, and the current period of freedom could be very short-lived.

By the time the Wall's 50th anniversary comes round, I suspect there will be a lot more people wishing it had never come down.

IF you have been burgled or mugged and are finding it hard to attract the attention of the police, I suggest that you tell them you suspect the crime was committed by a former Tory politician.

You'll have vanloads of boys in blue around in minutes.

Thanks Doris, but we men just can't win

HURRAH for Doris Lessing, the feminist who has realised that the cause of female liberation has become a mad campaign to denigrate and belittle men and boys. All men are not rapists, nor do one in four of them beat their womenfolk.

As Britain's wittiest poet, Wendy Cope, put it: 'Write it in fire across the night, some men are more or less all right.' Not that it will do any good.

As soon as the learned and accomplished Miss Lessing had spoken, legions of tight-lipped militants queued up to denounce her as an old fool who didn't seem to realise that the pay of men and women was not yet totally equal and no woman had yet become chairman of Railtrack, so the struggle must go on. And it will.

Sorry, but these exam results ARE a swindle

A CENSOR stands at the elbow of anyone who writes about the scandal of devalued exams.

Nobody, least of all me, wants to upset young people who have worked hard, followed the rules and rejoiced or wept at the results.

It is not as if school students are given a choice about what sort of exams they take. Nor are most teachers, though the heads of independent schools should have fought harder to keep the old-style O- and A-levels while they still could.

So, mingled with my good wishes to everyone who has done well, let me whisper a warning and a plea. These exams are not as good as they should have been; despite all your work, you know a lot less than you ought to about your chosen subjects and you have probably been badly cheated.

You can blame me for saying so if you like, but your fury should really be saved for those who decided that they would sacrifice quality for quantity in the wild rush to expand the universities.

On other parts of the planet, especially on the Continent and in the Far East, people of your age are still getting a serious and rigorous education. In years to come, in this harshly competitive world, you will come up against them and they will be far better educated than you are. A German may get the job you wanted. He or she may even know your own language and literature better than you.

Please do all you can to make sure that your children are not swindled as you have been.

Our People's Police and the thin pink line

WE shall soon have a completely political People's Police force, whose job is to enforce the prejudices of the liberal elite rather than old-fashioned ideas of law and justice.

A creepy instruction manual issued by the Metropolitan force instructs officers that they can no longer use the word 'homosexual' because it supposedly upsets homosexuals. Neutrality on the subject is no longer enough.

The new police will have to approve.

This is an attack on freedom, but no one will do anything about it.

IF Saint Nelson Mandela is so wonderful, why isn't he intervening to stop Robert Mugabe's racialism and censorship in Zimbabwe, a country where his words would carry enormous weight?

peter.hitchens@mailonsunday.co.uk

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