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Is this the tolerance that our thought-police take pride in?

ON THE one hand, I expected some uproar in Ireland over my piece about Ethiopia on July 10. But there really wasn't any. On the other, I didn't expect an attempt to jail me by a state-sponsored body. Yet Denise Charlton, of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, has urged An Garda Siochana to investigate me under a special law, by which I could be tried and imprisoned for two years without even the benefit of a jury.

Oh, Denise, Denise, you silly, silly little girl: have you nothing better to do with your time and talents than to try to get someone jailed for saying something you dislike? So there we are. The apparatchiks of the equality industry merely have to contemplate the sector of their psyche wherein their self-righteous emotions reside: and if these are sufficiently overwrought, they decide that a hate-crime has been committed.

Actually, I hate no-one. Personal, political and racial hatreds are the most corrosive and ruinous of all passions. Why, I don't even hate Robert Mugabe, or his chum, the former Ethiopian dictator, the lovely Mengistu, who is hiding out in Zimbabwe, or the Emperor Bokassa, or Idi Amin, and any of those fine fellows who have brought such lustre to the name of Africa.

And so, not hating, I certainly don't want anyone to hate anyone else either. However, I know and feel and applaud measured hostility, the guardian of our civilisation, and the father of our laws. Measured hostility is what puts the gunman behind bars: it drives the mugger from the street and the burglar from our homes.

It also protects freedom of speech from those who would steal it from us -- most particularly in Ireland of today, the quango thought-police of doctrinaire liberalism, and single-issue vigilantes in the media.

This latter group is most conspicuous in Metro Eireann, the magazine of full-time, professional immigrants: that is, immigrants who write about immigration. Gosh: what interesting and varied lives you people lead!

METRO e-mailed me the following questions. "Do you agree with the charges levelled against you by the Immigrant Council of Ireland (namely that the article can be seen as inspiring racial hatred?) Why/why not?

"2. Do you agree that your article could be misunderstood in some quarters? If so then what is the main idea of it and what was it really trying to say?

"3. Do you agree that some of the statements you made could be offensive to people from Africa who live in Ireland? Did you think about them when writing the piece?

"4. It's definately (sic) not the first time that your writing offended somebody. Can you recall any other instances/ official complaints/death threats etc that you got from, say, the Irish republicans?

"That is all. It would be great if you could answer these questions or give your comment in any way you wish. I just want to add that there are a lot of Africans associated with Metro Eireann and they're all very offended. So we'll have to run comments from the African community, aid groups etc and it would be really great to have your comment to balance all of that."

So, "a lot of Africans" are "all very offended", are they? All of them? The poor dears. Well, if the countries on whose behalf they get so easily offended are so bloody marvellous -- Sudan? Rwanda? Zimbabwe? Sierre Leone? Congo? Somalia? Eritrea? Etcetera? -- why aren't they enjoying themselves back home?

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Why are they here, working for a magazine which cheerfully invites me to incriminate myself before our new thought-police? Or which thinks that journalistic balance consists of Lots of Offended Africans of Metro, plus anyone else they can enlist, versus little old me?

And in that contest, by God, I know the sword whereby I stand: the measured hostility that comes from a Tolerant, European Secular Christian Order, the very one that allows Metro people come from all over the world to work here, and ask me stupid questions, and even be offended.

Its origins lie in the Christian ore of our history. It was forged

If the countries on whose behalf they get so easily offended are so marvellous -- Rwanda? Eritrea? Etcetera? -- why aren't they back home?

in its present form in Europe's evil wars of the 20th century, where it was tempered in the Holocaust and shaped against the anvil of communism. TESCO stands for personal freedom, unlike the new authoritarian "liberalism" that neo-Leninist state functionaries are now making into an official political orthodoxy.

ONE of these orthodoxies is that Africa's woes are the legacy of "colonialism". But Ethiopia (formerly Abyssinia, and far older than any European state) was never colonised.

However, it was conquered by the Italians in 1936, and liberated in 1941 by a British army led by General Sir Allan Cunningham: a Dubliner, after whom a road in Addis Ababa is still named. This final titbit comes from one of a half-dozen Ethiopians who e-mailed me, supporting my attempts to broaden the discussion about Africa away from the grotesque pieties of simple victimhood.

Accepting criticism of one's own country, and from a foreigner like me, is not easy: so thank you, Oh gentlemen of Ethiopia, for truly embodying the principles of TESCO. Metro, please copy.