Most people would say that they have two grandmothers – the mother of their father, and the mother of their mother.
However, for the fifteen nations that make up the Commonwealth Realms, I believe it can be equally said that we all have three grandmothers. The mother of our fathers, the mother of our mothers, and the mother of nations.
Queen Elizabeth II was the nation’s grandmother, one who was dearly loved and cherished.
For many alive Elizabeth II was not just The Queen, but The Queen. A whole generation of people has been born, grown up and died only knowing Queen Elizabeth II as the Queen of the United Kingdom, the Queen of Canada, the Queen of Australia, the Queen of Jamaica, etc. She has been an almost constant presence in modern British history, from the dark and troubled days of the Second World War to the turbulent and chaotic times of the 21st century.
It’s still hard to describe just how strange everything feels now. The Queen is dead, and the world will never be the same again.
All of us will remember her unfailing service, her sincere faith, her eternal good cheer, and her unflinching desire to make good her promises to the Commonwealth so many years ago. Those who had the privilege of meeting her recall her warmth, her razor-sharp wit and dry humour, and her capacity to make you feel like you were the most important person in the room, not she. She was a giant of her times and there is not one figure in recent history who can command as much respect or adoration.
Queen Elizabeth II oversaw the transition of Empire to Commonwealth, of a war-torn society to a burgeoning modern democracy, a world riven by authoritarianism stepping into the light of liberty. She faced down apartheid in South Africa, applauded her former colonies as they embraced independence, and prayed each year for the good fortune and happiness of all her subjects.
Under her Crown, we were all one people.
It was undeniably the highest honour imaginable to have been a subject to such a monarch, and it is my keenest sorrow to witness her passing. I know that she found courage in her faith in Christ and the Church of England, and I have no doubt she we will walk with the King of Kings through the gates of Heaven.
Her son, King Charles III, has now assumed her throne. I have every confidence in him to ably succeed her in this heavy burden that he has now been called by Grace to take upon his shoulders. He has had a lifetime of tutelage under one of Britain’s most beloved and respected monarchs in her history and has demonstrated remarkable insight and wisdom that was truly ahead of its times.
He inherits a Commonwealth equally at a time of change as his mother found it, a United Kingdom facing challenges at home and abroad, and a Royal Family constantly shifting to keep up with the demands of its age. A trying time for anyone, but His Majesty is up to the challenge. I eagerly look forward to seeing the fruits of his reign.
I was honoured to have been a subject of Queen Elizabeth II. I am honoured still to now declare myself a loyal, obedient and joyful subject of His Majesty King Charles III.
God save The King.
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By Nina Skinner — 2 weeks ago
Since the 1960’s, the number of children growing up with single mothers has increased exponentially. In the UK in 2020, almost 50% of children were born to an unmarried mother (Statista, 2022), and yet while there has been some political attention given to the topic (such as the creation of the Child Support Agency in 1993), there has been little social discourse about the effects on children, and on wider society.
There has been increasing evidence that there are, as one can intuitively know, detrimental effects to growing up without a father. 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes, as are 90% of all homeless and runaway children. For boys, the lack of a positive male role model has been shown to lead to a propensity towards violence and even rape, and for girls, the lack of a father figure is linked to sexual promiscuity, substance abuse, and anxiety.
While most in the mainstream would like to pretend that they do not know this, this has been public information (if not intuitively obvious) for 20 years. Lots of politicians (particularly in the US) have paid lip service to the importance of fathers, but none are willing to confront the two root causes of their absence: feminism and welfare.
While believing in equality under the law, equal citizenship, and equal value are all good things, the nobel aims of early feminists have been grossly perverted by corporate feminists, who in tun have been cheered on by male capitalists. Given that women generally choose lower-paying jobs, work fewer hours, and are generally less economically productive than men; it only makes sense for those interested in extracting the greatest possible amount of labour from the populace lead women to believe that the way to have the highest value is to devote as much time as possible to work outside the home.
Given that most high-status jobs have been dominated by men for most of Western history, it was no surprise when women started emulating male habits in other areas of life, such as dress, interests, and general demeanour. In a culture which says that the highest-value women are those who are the most like men, there is no place for fathers as the culture believes that the mothers ‘can have and do it all’.
However, only very well-educated, highly-paid employees of either sex can support a family alone in the era of the dual-career family. This led the politicians of the mid-20th century to create the other demon which we must reckon with if we want to restore familial harmony in our homes.
Academic research from Griffiths (2017) has shown that the modern system of British welfare encourages mothers to live alone. Some embrace this path of singleness, while others defraud the system by not reporting to the DWP that they have a ‘partner’ resident. Either way, research has clearly shown that modern welfare places the ‘couple penalty’ on poor couples who want to work hard and raise their children with proper parental influences. The feminist reading of this is that by examining people as ‘households’ rather than individuals, women are disenfranchised. Another way of looking at it is to prevent needless overpayment to those out of work. By financially penalising marriage, the state has weakened family bonds to such an extent that, despite the stated desires of those involved, the daily wear of life will cause them to break under slight pressure.
Most people would agree that those who become single mothers through widowhood, abandonment, or to escape abuse should be supported, but it does not follow that to do this we need a welfare system which incentivises bad behaviour among men. While there are a malevolent few, most men will not sit by at the thought of their children suffering poverty, whatever issues may exist between former couples. In light of this perspective, having a welfare system which is generous to single mothers incentivises father absence, as a man can move on in the knowledge that his ‘baby mama’ will be taken care of.
Multigenerational father absence is most prominent among black people in the US, so it is only fitting that the long-term societal effects of fatherlessness can be best understood through examining this group. With single motherhood rates of 72%, here fatherlessness is very much the norm. Despite calls from prominent black figures such as Dr Natalie Carroll for her patients to ‘Marry Your Baby Daddy’, because so many in this community have no happily-married role models to compare themselves to, the damage of fatherlessness seems to go unnoticed. Low educational achievement means that (in general) black men do not make desirable husbands, and the better option for women is to marry the government: which provides a steady paycheck, a house, food, and healthcare. High imprisonment rates among black men means that separation from children is long-term and sometimes irreversible. Given that fatherless girls are more likely to be promiscuous, and fatherless boys are more likely to be violent, the cycle continues with no obvious way out other than a major cultural change that sees the value of the nuclear family.
To sum up, the state-sponsored destruction of the family is a threat to us all. Mothers are extremely valuable in their role as carers, but fathers have an equally important role in providing not just funds, but structure and discipline to a household. Given other trends towards an unstructured lifestyle such as ‘flexible’ working, lax divorce laws, and portfolio careers over the stability of jobs for life, the youth of today are crying out for structure; which means that we are crying out for fathers.
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By themallard — 3 weeks ago
A few months ago, I came across a book titled “Free” in a book section of a renowned magazine. As a pathologic bibliophile, I was curious but I was also filled with pride to see the Author of “Free” has an Albanian sounding name, Lea Ypi. Indeed, Ypi is an Albanian that fled Albania during the ’90s and is now a Professor in Political Theory in the Government Department of the London School of Economics, not to mention the author is also a woman, adding even more appreciation on my part. The voice of Albanian women hasn’t always been heard in our society, so you can imagine the level of joy I felt. Just to be crystal clear, this feeling of pride is not a mere reflection of any kind of nationalism on my part. It only describes a feeling that many other of my compatriots share: the genuine joy of our country being mentioned abroad, without any relation to crime and poverty. To no surprise, I followed Ypi’s interviews with great anticipation, as she would promote her book and her upbringing in communist Albania.
However, anticipation was soon followed by great disappointment. I must confess, I held high expectations that Ypi would provide a strong and clear-cut condemnation of the communist regime. Reading her interview proved to be an emotional rollercoaster. In Ypi’s interview with what happened to be my professor Ferenc Laczó at Maastricht University, whilst Ypi condemns the communist regime, she somehow waters down its effects on the Albanian people. Every bland admission of a shortcoming on the part of communism is followed by a much fiercer criticism of liberalism. Misinforming the reader of Albanian history, leading them to believe that communism was evil, but a far lesser evil than what was about to follow. When I asked my professor, with disdain, how he agreed to allow someone to skew the truth or, at least, downplay it, his response was, “what do you want from me?.. This is her story, her perception, write your own book then.”
Since I am afraid my book would take too long to write, I feel the urge to clarify a few things for the readers. Indeed, my professor Ferenc Laczó was correct, what Ypi presents is not the truth but indeed her perception. Perhaps, the book “Free” is an account of how Ypi digested our history, and it is that exact digestion that pleases Western readers. Ypi goes as far as feeding the western readers the idea that we were obsessed with symbols such as Coca Cola cans, hence the cover of Ypi’s book. A mixture of pop and folkloristic representation of our grief. If you are seeking a true representation of the horror Albania endured during the communist regime, I regret to inform you that the right person is not someone that defines themselves as a “Kantian Marxist”, not someone with a fallacious view on freedom – thus definitely not Lea Ypi.
Ypi talks about the importance of free will and the ability to make choices by suggesting that, in communist Albania, “you could choose whether to spy on your neighbour. You could pretend you didn’t see something” she adds “there were some good officials who exercised a little discretion”. Ypi believes that “morality is not something created by institutions, there is a kernel of goodwill in everyone”, without mentioning that morality in Albania was often punished and that it becomes really difficult to keep your integrity when you are starving. Ypi goes on to claim that communism had important things to offer, such as solidarity, by saying that in our society nowadays solidarity takes the form of charity and that this distracts us from asking where that wealth comes from. But, I’d like to remind Ms Ypi that solidarity in Albania was achieved through the forced appropriation of private property. These are important details she surely forgets to mention. My father, a member of a family of Kulaks, at the time, was a warehouseman and decided to falsify the figures to give extra flour to a very poor family he knew in his village. This family was one of many around him struggling to survive. The poor family went on to report him to authorities and my father risked his job. A few years afterwards he decided to illegally migrate to Italy. If this is the freedom Ms Ypi talks about, it is a freedom I struggle to aspire to.
Two points are especially misleading about the recollection she gives about those times:
Education and competitiveness:
Ms Ypi argues that education was currency under communism and that in Albania people were extremely competitive on intellectual grounds. She adds that people could freely ask how much money others were making because the competition was not based on material things. This is a statement bordering on incredulity as many people, from persecuted families could not even go to school or pursue any higher education. And when they were allowed, it was the party who decided what subject they could study. My paternal family serves as an example: my father and some of his siblings were not given the concession to pursue higher education. For others, my grandfather had to pay someone a sum to convince them to give that permission. I wonder if we could call a schooling system “competitive” if many did not even have access to it. In fact, this created a division between first and second class citizens, the educated and the uneducated. A division that had repercussions even within an individual family.
She has gone on saying that the system “was unforgiving in terms of performing well, and reading all the books that could be read and knowing all the culture that could be known.” This sounds like a contradiction; how can a system be competitive if it puts a limit to the knowledge you can access? My mother recalls having to write a paper on “why is Albania the best country in the world” and being silenced when she asked the teacher how could she know if it was best when she had never seen any other country. Of course, very few people were allowed to leave the country and many were killed when they tried. Can a system that was based on Marxist propaganda and censorship be considered competitive?
Mass emigration and its causes:
Similarly, Ms Ypi seems to misplace correlations between events. She seems to suggest that what caused the mass emigration of Albanians all along with the 90s was the financial disaster that took place at that time. Indeed, two-thirds of the population was estimated to have invested in Ponzi schemes that mostly collapsed, leading to a lot of families losing all their savings. But can the exodus be blamed on this last misadventure or on the over 40 years of a command economy that left Albanians in financial illiteracy and unable to manage their own money for so long? The exodus was provoked by decades of lack of all basic freedom, among them the right to private property. It comes to no surprise that when freedom came, people of Albania acted like a dog trapped for so long, finally unleashed and without a master.
Albania is going through a dark phase, where freedom is in peril once again. More than ever in our republican history. When the parliamentary elections were held in April 2021, the government of Edi Rama won for the third term. One of the bastions of his party is the digitalization of public administration. However, it is a pity that this process has been used to monitor its own citizens. In fact, a scandal followed these elections, revealing that the government had access to a database containing names and last names, their phone numbers, their ID number, addresses, place of work and voting preferences of 910,000 citizens. Since then it has been revealed and confirmed that each person was assigned a “patron”, basically a canvasser who tracked their political preferences. Additional comments, recorded by the patrons, reportedly detail their interactions with citizens, with some instances amounting to possible voter intimidation.
The Prime Minister has confirmed that the system of patrons is in place but he has claimed that the collection of data happened through door-to-door meetings. Since then, no investigation has been performed. In the meantime, many journalists have identified that among the 9,000 “patrons” there are public sector employees, police officers and even army personnel. And, Albania’s Ombudsperson has already declared that the collection and processing of sensitive information seen in the database are unlawful, in the first place. This would not cause indignation if this monitoring had received any consent, which was clearly not the case. It is a chilling feeling that reminds me of the times when spying on your fellow citizens was encouraged. Moreover, as I write this article, other sensitive data was released on salaries and cars possessed by citizens. Why don’t you know about it? Because people are too tired to fight back.
It is also quite puzzling how Ypi decided to present her book in the villa that belonged to the dictator along with Prime Minister Edi Rama. She replied to accusations about this choice saying that for her it was a powerful message to send for someone with persecuted ancestors to present her book there. Instead, I believe, an even more meaningful signal would have been that of presenting that book in what was the house of Musine Kokalari or the dedicated museum? Musine, being the first published Albanian women author, and the founder of the Social-democratic party, died poor and neglected after decades of forced labour by the regime. A commemorative placard dedicated to her was vandalised last year. The question around the role that writers and artists, in general, have to play in our society is a timeless one, but since Lea Ypi has decided to write about our history she holds a duty to be truthful to facts. Especially when our country is experiencing increasing limitations of freedom, and appalling breaches of privacy.
I have tried in these past months to understand what can push a person to minimise the evils of our regime. Nobody in their right mind would do that with Nazism and I have acquired the personal conviction that Lea has to still overcome a sense of inferiority towards the West and that she also holds personal interests in a future political career. What gives me this conviction? In her interview with the Guardian, she claims that “there is a special pleasure in observing the empty shelves and educational chaos of post-Brexit Britain because, after years of being lectured about the supposed failures of where she comes from, the tables are reversed for once”. My mother, who migrated to Italy, along with my father, and many other Albanian immigrants would have no problem admitting the failures of where they come from.
Those failures are not supposed, they were real. Admitting them is the first step to rebuilding our country better. Those failures need to be acknowledged in order to not be repeated. The reason why Ypi takes pleasure in seeing her host country, the United Kingdom, suffering while my mother would never do the same, struck me: my mother being 50 years old experienced both the regime and the chaos of the days where the country fell into anarchy, while Ypi was only 10 when the regime fell. Ypi only experienced a fraction of the strict communist regime. She herself admits that her parents had opted to keep their children safe by letting them believe everything they were taught at school during the regime. So, is she the right person to weigh in if it is liberalism that has failed the country or communism? In her interview, she also admits that one of her childhood dreams was that of being a president one day. Given the welcome she received from the ruling Socialist party, I would not entirely exclude it. The party needs repainting and new faces. What better than a young female professor in a prestigious university such as LSE, in times where symbols matter more than substance? After the criticism her interviews received, she claimed those are only defamatory voices. But, shouldn’t someone who knows her country well protect herself from any affiliation and appropriation of her work? Once again, this is either a sign of naivety or ignorance.
Although the interviews provoked a lot of sorrow and outrage in my own and other descendants of persecuted families, her words were also essential in providing yet further evidence about the fact that our country is in desperate need of a decommunization process. Thirty years on from the fall of communism, people know so little about the past, who were the perpetrators and how much they are still involved in our current institutions. I find it emblematic that another book was published almost at the same time by a Polish author, whose book I promptly bought. The book is titled “Mud sweeter than honey” by Margot Rejmer, whose homeland of Poland has done far more to address its communist past wounds. Perhaps, the book is less of an intellectual grabbing at straws or mental gymnastics but it also demonstrates that the minds behind our regime were able to produce atrocities that defy the imagination of the best science fiction writers.
Communist Albania was often compared to a European North Korea. Although it is true that freedom has not always represented peace for us, it was worth fighting for. It is better than a system that decided what we could study, what we could eat and how much of it and whom we could marry. The last step for freedom that we still have to take is owning our shaded areas. Many of us, second and third-generation Albanian migrants spread around the world, who often speak better foreign languages than our own mother tongue, had to grasp a past that our parents were too traumatised to tell. It was only when I turned 25 that my father finally let go and he told me about his past made of betrayal, deceit and lack of chances and freedom.
However, it is also in us, the children of these emotionally broken people, that rests the power of healing our country of origin. If our parents and grandparents are not strong enough to recount their past, we can be their megaphones. We cannot let people who have egos and inferiority complexes do it instead of us. Because all of that pain cannot be minimised; healing only rests in accepting you are sick first.
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By Jess Gill — 2 weeks ago
Over the past few decades, the media has been obsessed with characters representing minorities in society who haven’t received much recognition on television before. The hope is that a person of colour might see a black Hermione or a girl might see a female Doctor Who and think “that could be me!” and feel represented in British Society.
Like most of British society, I hold the view that unless a character’s race is an important part of their role, we should give actors parts based on their skill and performance. I also believe that casting directors should be able to have the freedom to cast whoever they want in their movies. After all, if they make the wrong decision they will pay the price. For example, the Ghostbuster reboot which had an all-female main cast was widely reported to be a flop, warning future filmmakers of the consequences of casting on diversity for diversity’s sake.
The original argument was for minorities to be proportionately represented on television as they are in British society. However, same sex attracted people and ethnic minorities are now over represented on screen. BAME people account for 13% of the national workforce but 23% of on screen roles. Lesbian, gay and bisexual people are nearly twice as likely to appear on television.
In addition, the presence of LGBT and ethnic minorities on television is often dedicated to side characters. On some occasions, the producers try to lump as many diversity points onto one character while still having a white straight protagonist. For example in the series Sex Education, the three main people of colour are Eric, Ola and Jackson. Two of these characters have had same sex relationships and the other has two mums and attempts to get into a relationship with a “non-binary” Sudanese-American character introduced in the last season. Meanwhile, the two main characters, Otis and Maeve, are both white and straight. This identity points dumping ruined the character of Jackson, who is already dealing with the conflict of being a high achiever who can’t meet the expectations that he and his mums have for him. Instead of trying to figure out who he is, his main issue this season is getting with a rebellious “non-binary” girl who is annoyed at him for seeing her “as a girl” instead of “non-binary”.
This isn’t to say that there can’t be shows and movies which have BAME and LGBT people as the majority of the cast. It’s not unrealistic for a show about people in London for example to have an ethnic minority cast. For example, the show Chewing Gum, featuring a black main cast, was extremely funny and well produced. The show was created by Michaela Coel who grew up in East London so the reason behind the diversity casting is because of her own experience and background, rather than some white middle class liberal who wants to gain diversity points. This contrasts to the announcement of there being a production of Anne Boleyn on which the actress who plays Anne Boleyn is black. The show’s creators admitted to adopting a “race conscious” approach, rather than picking who could play a realistic Anne Boleyn or even a colour-blind casting of who is best for the role.
However, it seems that identity and virtue signalling is everything nowadays. The left even are trying to make horror villains gay icons. Vox published an article on “How the Babadook became the LGBTQ icon we didn’t know we needed”. In addition, even Chucky has shown his respect for the LGBT community as he accepts his “gender fluid” child, stating “I’m not a monster”. It’s odd that the LGBT community are so keen to relate themselves to monsters who are hostile towards children. Surely these aren’t characters you want to represent you?
Most recently, Doctor Who has fallen victim to diversity casting. Recently, Sex Education’s Ncuti Gatwa has been casted as the next Doctor, taking the place of Jodie Whittaker. In addition, a new character called Rose will be played by a biological man who calls himself a transgender woman. Many have scoffed at those who have had complaints about the Doctor and his companion changing identity. For example, The Guardian wrote:
“There is no way on earth that a shapeshifting ancient alien god and an interdimensional explorer trapped in a parallel dimension should be played by anything other than a white British guy and the woman from I Hate Suzie respectively.”
However, this shifts from the original idea that minorities need to be represented for people to see themselves in the characters. Modern media holds the conflicting ideas that identity is everything and to act ‘colour blind’ is racist and that a character can be any colour. Not only is it important that we display the voices and experiences of minorities, but it doesn’t matter if we replace traditionally played white characters with ethnic minorities.
Personally, I don’t need to share the same identity as a character in order to relate to them.When I was younger I used to dress up as Harry Potter and got offended when I went to The Making of Harry Potter and somebody thought I was dressed up as Hermione. That is because I identified with the character of Harry Potter. It didn’t matter that he was a boy as I aspired to be as brave as him when I was young.
Though I’m doubtful, I hope that the media sees the error of its ways and focuses on providing thought provoking entertainment that doesn’t rely on progressive pandering. Being purely identity-focused on unchangeable characteristics such as race, gender and sexuality is creating a generation full of narcissists. A movie shouldn’t be good because it has people who look like you; it should be good because of the message it sends.
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