Tweeting Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens on the RELIGION debate

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    Tweet me –

    Tweet Tony Blair Faith Foundation to watch Twitter stream of the Religion debate.

    25th November 2010

    Click to Buy Tony Blair’s ‘A Journey’

    If you’re warming up nicely for the Munk Debate tomorrow night (7:00pm EST, midnight GMT) with Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens  you might want to read Tony Blair’s Faith Foundation Twitter link

    [Tony Blair Faith Foundation]

    Today the TBFF Twitter link has this –

    What you believe to be true matters, @globeandmail take a look at some of the key arguments ahead of #munkdebate http://t.co/Gf41RIG

    If you don’t want to pay to watch the Blair/Hitchens debate live, £4.99 here, you can watch a live twitter stream at http://twitter.com/Tonyblair_TBFF (Friday 26th November, 7pm EST).

    [It says $CD4.99 at the linked site, which is actually just over GBP£3]

    A few days ago Ruth Turner sent an e-mail round to those signed for updates to the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. (pasted here below):

    _____

    Dear Friend,

    Since we launched the Foundation in 2008, we’ve seen two things time and time again. The first is people of faith doing the most extraordinary work around the globe. From peace building in Sierra Leone to community action in Blackburn, there are millions of people putting their faith into action every day. The second is that they get very little attention.

    On Friday, 26th November, the spotlight is going to be firmly on the role of religion as Tony Blair supports the motion “Be it resolved religion is a force for good in the world” against Christopher Hitchens in a Munk Debate held in Toronto.

    Christopher Hitchens is a renowned academic, activist, writer and debater – he is a formidable opponent and it promises to be a fascinating debate. His 2007 book, “God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” has been widely praised.

    But we at the Foundation are excited to see our patron Tony Blair debate with Christopher Hitchens so there is also the chance for the public to hear the case for the good that religious faith can do.

    Because we know there is an untold positive story out there. Your story. The story you’ve told us time and time again over the last two years.

    So in the coming days, we are asking you to send us the reasons you think religion is a force for good in your life, in your community or for the wider world.

    If you do this by Thursday we will choose the best as internet interfaith ambassadors with free access to Munk’s live stream!

    Post on our Facebook wall, tweet your reason that religion is a force for good using the hashtags #force4good and #munkdebate, or share your thoughts on our website:

    http://www.tonyblairfaithfoundation.org/Force4Good

    And make sure you join the debate on the Munk Debates site at http://www.munkdebates.com to make the case for faith in the world.

    Together we can show the positive side of the story.

    Best wishes,

    Ruth Turner

    Chief Executive, Tony Blair Faith Foundation

    P.S. You can watch Munk debates over a live stream for £4.99 here, or you can watch a live twitter stream at http://twitter.com/Tonyblair_TBFF (Friday 26th November, 7pm EST).

    _____

    Christopher Hitchens also has a Twitter link, though it hasn’t been written on since January 2009.  He is still writing though, despite his treatment for cancer. Here are two recent offerings worth reading. First –

    Let Me Repeat, God is Not Great

    Video: Christopher Hitchens won’t attend a prayer day in his honor, Monday, Sept. 20, 2010 –

    AP Video: Stricken with cancer and fragile from chemotherapy, author and Slate columnist Christopher Hitchens is standing by his atheist beliefs: He will not take part in a prayer day devoted to him.

    And Mr Hitchens wrote just a few days ago with praise for Talabani’s commutation (if it lasts) of the death sentence handed to Tariq Aziz.

    Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani, opposes the death penalty for Tariq Aziz, one of Iraq’s worst enemies.

    The fact that Aziz is a practicing Roman Catholic does not of course exempt him from Iraqi law even at its worst. But it’s clear what Talabani meant to say, in a month that saw a wave of savage pogroms against the Christian congregations of Baghdad. It would be nice if the heads of more regional governments, and the leaders of more Muslim communities, had condemned this barbarity. But as it is, the solidarity of a Sunni Kurdish Socialist is a prize more worth having.

    […]

    I am aware of three appalling facts about Tariq Aziz that are not generally known. All three of them I learned from Ambassador Rolf Ekeus, the head of the United Nations inspection team in Iraq. The first is that Aziz offered direct face-to-face bribes to senior members of that inspectorate on the condition that they would “amend” their findings about weapons of mass destruction. The second is that he privately offered to “turn off” Iraqi state support for regional and international terrorist groups in return for concessions on the economic sanctions. (Both of these disclosures are obviously of wider application and interest, at least to those who still believe that WMD, terrorism, and Baathism are never to be mentioned in the same breath.) The third is that, in top-level discussions of Iraqi WMD, he more than once referred to the Iranians—past and until recently future targets of Saddam’s chemical arsenal—as “the Persian beasts.” Disgusting as these things are, they do not carry the death penalty.”

    Personally, I’d like to know a little more about Rolf Ekeus’s information on Aziz.

    Since both Tony Blair AND Christopher Hitchens believe that the USA , Britain and their allies did the right thing over Iraq, it’s the kind of information, that if clarified, could threaten to take over the debate on religion.

    If there’s one thing that worries the literati in Britain it’s Iraq.  It ain’t religion, even if it should be.

    RELATED

    At Yale, Video – Tony Blair: The Global Media’s Coverage of Religious Extremism

    ‘Blair may be on the side of the angels ­— but my money’s on Hitchens. Never mind his razor wit, who the hell votes against a guy whose esophagus, lungs and lymph nodes are laced with cancer?’ and ‘At least he [Blair] didn’t draw the topic being considered for a future Munk Debates: “Be it resolved fundamentalist Islam is not a threat to the western world.” Yikes. Get out your helmets, high-brows.’

    Now THAT’S a debate I really look forward to. That is what this one should be about. Perhaps it will be if Hitch has his way. In which case Tony, if you were to sound as though you were proposing this and Hitch were against, you’ve definitely lost it. You might as well get snowbound in Britain.

    On the other hand, would Mr Blair speak for such a proposition?  Clearly not.  Back to the question in hand. That’s tougher still to win or to lose with minds made up already.

    Since some readers might be interested I see the result as likely to be a draw, leaning slightly towards Blair’s position. No-one will persuade anyone. And Hitch is bound to get an element of the sympathy vote from the “Don’t Knows”.  I just hope the 2,000 plus audience are balanced and honest in their “votes” at the start and at the end. We wouldn’t want anyone twisting the facts to skew the outcome. Now would we?

    Winnipeg Free Press – Excerpt:

    But even before the pair take to their podiums, their debate is causing a stir online among atheists.

    “We really haven’t had any criticism emerging from religious groups. But the atheists have been very vocal in their support for Christopher Hitchens and their kind of condemnation of Tony Blair”

    Ahhh, the generosity and certainties of the unbeliever. [Here speaketh an “unbeliever”.]

    Hitchens on Blair’s A Journey – at the original source Hitchens says “Almost Noble”. Almost? In the event it was self-sacrificingly noble.

    “In the end, he [Blair] made the lethal mistake of letting his tactical and public-relations instinct overrule his grander and braver one, and petitioned for a second UN resolution authorizing war, for no larger reason than that it would allow him to win over his own party. This was his last concession to Old Labour, which did this time have the electorate on its side. And it proved calamitous, because it involved producing all the half-true claims about Saddam’s “imminent threat” that later discredited the whole enterprise. When compared with the simultaneous contortions of Gerhard Schroeder and Jacques Chirac and Vladimir Putin, Blair’s attitude seems almost noble and was actuated by an authentic concern about preventing a Euro-American schism.”

    Also referred to at John Rentoul’s where Hitchen’s comparison of Blair to other political leaders is selected. Excerpt:

    “Measured by the base standard of his immediate predecessors as Labour prime minister, James Callaghan and Harold Wilson, Tony Blair was a man of almost inordinate attachment to principle.”

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    Recent comments:

    “All countries need a leader who isn’t afraid to fight terrorism. I believe Mr. Blair did a necessary job in helping his allies. Are we all just supposed to lie down and wait for them to come for us, I don’t think so.”

    And – “Mr. Blair is one of the finest politicians to have had the privilege of serving the United Kingdom, and Britons are fortunate to have had him as their Prime Minister. Time will show that Mr. Blair’s approach to affairs in the Middle East were and remain correct. From a member of the Commonwealth, thank you, Mr. Blair, for your continued service to legitimate and lasting (and not convenient or politically expedient) freedom.”

    AND – “Tony Blair was the greatest Prime Minister since Winston Churchill and the only regret I have he didn’t get my vote as I live in Canada.”

    AND – “I am sick and tired of television and radio interviewers asking the same old questions over and over, regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq, presumably they hope Mr Blair will let slip some secret information which they would then use against him. History will show if the decision was the right one, (I believe it was) but people must accept that Tony Blair is an honourable man, and made his decision based on the known facts and not with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.”



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    14 Responses to “Tweeting Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens on the RELIGION debate”

    1. Peter Reynolds Says:

      “Be it resolved religion is a force for good in the world”

      I didn’t realise this was the motion for debate.

      Ol’ Tone’s making a bit of a twat of himself then because nothing, nuttin’and nowt has been responsible for more evil in the world than religion.

      You got this one completely wrong Tony. Still, nobody’s perfect.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Perhaps we should wait to see how it turns out tonight before being so sure Tony has blown it. You and I share similar views on religion, more or less, but there is literally no-one I know who IS religious who doesn’t do at least some charitable works. They’re basically good people. Well, those that I KNOW anyway.

        I also have a theory that religion in historical contexts was a useful crutch for those intent on strife, rather than the genuine cause of friction, at least some of the time. If religion had never been invented or thought of there would have been some other useful crutch, changeable into a weapon.

      • Peter Reynolds Says:

        Sure, as individuals many of them are very good people but try disagreeing with them collectively. What do you get then?

        War, torture, oppression, terrorism, etc, etc

        • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

          Peter,

          I really DO think that TODAY, which is where this debate matters, not hundreds or thousands of years ago, that response only applies to ONE religion. And to that particular religion, at least in some of its parts, oppression and torture apply as a matter of course, regardless of outside criticism.

          We still have our eyes wide closed on this issue.

          So the question for Blair & Hitchens tonight may in fact be only half a question.

      • Peter Reynolds Says:

        Well I know which religion you’re referring to of course but I think overlooking the appalling history of Christianity, probably the most evil religion of them all, is going a bit far.

        Also, depending on how you intellectually resolve the dilemma over the only state that was created specifically for a religion, then Judaism could be said to be a real and present danger.

        I’m with Stan here. You’re straying precious close to unbalanced propaganda about Islam. I know your thinking and the background that you consider but your words are inflammatory.

        I’m certainly not paying 4.99 in dollars, euros or pounds to hear these two old lags rant away at each other. I’m relying on you to give me a neat and elegant summary of proceedings.

        Good on ya, ktbfpm!

        • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

          Peter, I’ll lay it on the line, so that you don’t come away with the daft idea that I am a liberal leftie. Been there, done that, opened my eyes.

          I TRUST Christianity because it brought us democracy. I TRUST Judaism because it contributed largely to English law. And for plenty of other reasons, to be perfectly blunt. For instance, the Christian habit of not getting upset when criticised, and the Jewish sense of humour.

          I owe Islam nothing and it owes me and our country and the west a big thank you. Instead, what do we get? A turning of the blind eye by many in Islam re Islamist fundamentalism. Murdering suicidal fundamentalism.

          I don’t give a damn what you, my dear friend, or Stan, my other dear friend thinks about my “straying close to the line”. I bloody well hope I’ve crossed it!!! The day MY words are inflammatory while Anjem Choudary’s aren’t is the day I leave this country for dead.

          And hey, Peter – less of this ‘old lags’ bit about the youthful Tony. And Hitch, while not too well, still has a razor-sharp mind.

          But lest you’re in any doubt, I DO have issues with a certain religion. Don’t we all? Religious or not?

          It’s only 3 quid to watch this Toronto fight to the death, or whatever, by the way.

          You tight bar steward ;0(

      • Peter Reynolds Says:

        You? A liberal leftie? Perish the thought!

        I’m saving my pennies for the senoritas in Mehico, just in case I get an all expenses paid invite (fat chance!)

        http://peterreynolds.wordpress.com/2010/11/26/climate-change-jolly-in-cancun/

        • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

          Mexico, eh, Peter? It’s nice there. Hot. No snow like here.

          You might well be invited to talk about something or other, apart from the climate. The weed or the book. Possibly both! Famous writers even get to charge to be watched on the box. To be honest it is neither of the writers charging to be watched in Toronto tonight, but the venue. It’s never been a sell-out so quickly. And they might need to pay for extra Police.

          Must be the attraction of the two ‘old lags’, eh, Peter?

    2. little ole American Says:

      The writers of our US Constitution were worried that our Constitution would not be strong enough to withstand a “decay of morality”. They KNEW our “morality” came directly from our religions; our Christian/Judeo roots. Britain is suffering today (imho) because, it doesn’t “do” religion or patriotism. Isn’t it ironic then, that the “politically correct” crowd will protect and defend the only religion that is an “actual” threat? We have to call a spade, a spade; Islam is the only religion threatening the peace of the entire world. There are Muslims who are trying to “modernize” that old religion (especially fighting the Sharia Laws). They seem to be few in number, but they ARE growing. The Christians, Jews, Bhuddists, etc. have already done that, many, many years ago. We have a separation of Church and State and it has been working beautifully. We can live alongside one another, freely, and with respect for one another’s beliefs. We do not fear each other’s religions, or even the lack of it. At least, that is how it was, until Islam raised its ugly head. To blame all religions in the world for the present day sins of Islam, is simply not fair. Most religions teach “right from wrong”, and “to give”. It’s that simple. When was the last time you heard of an immigrant trying to escape “from” a Christian country?

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        I think your last sentence says it all, little ole American. We can’t even shift many of the b*****ds that try to blow us up!

        I cannot for the life of me understand why intelligent, educated people like Peter seem to think moral equivalence applies in the present era. It doesn’t. End of.

        But still, I can’t help but like the old lag.

      • Peter Reynolds Says:

        Morality doesn’t come from religion. That’s nonsense. It’s exactly the other way round.

        Britain does patriotism very well thank you and in a much more mature, meaningful, profound manner than our gung-ho American friends.

        Political correctness is a force for evil and corruption in just the same way as religion.It seeks to prescribe and proscribe and is fundamentally anti-freedom and individuality.

        There are just as many bad Muslims, Christians and Jews as there are good ones. The appalling history of Christianty places it far in front of Islam in the race to reach the devil. Islam is catching up fast though and I’m no apologist for its wickedness. The drones are the answer. Take out as many of the raghead, psycho-religious-nutters as possible without endangering civilians or our people.

        I’m afraid though it’s absolute twaddle to suggest that everything is the fault of Islam and to take such an absolute position. You are guilty of precisely what you complain about.

        All religions claim to be the one true route to God. They’re all wrong.

        • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

          I kind of agree, more or less, that morality does not (necessarily) come from religion, Peter. But it does to the extent that most states have laws and mores based on some sort of ‘religious’ belief. Communism wasn’t, and today’s China isn’t. The latter is likely to fare better in the long run than the former. Doesn’t prove anything about religion.

          But I think you dismiss far too easily the good that religion has done, while you seemingly revel in transferred guilt and self-immolation on the evil that has been done in its name.

          I’m not going to argue this historical case with you. I expect Hitch will put it all out neatly tonight in his head-to-head with Blair.

          My concern is TODAY. How we are living today. Right now. And the religion which seems to insist that its law is God’s law and we must all accept that. It is immutable, unchangeable and unchallengable. It is so written. THAT is what concerns me.

          This is so different from anything you find in liberal western CHRISTIAN societies, where we invite in and embrace “the other” only asking that they do the same.

          Btw, I agree with little ol here. Many Britons do NOT ‘do patriotism’ any more. Not in the way we should. Not in the “we’re all in this together” way. We only “do” it when we mourn the dead from wars we think our ‘evil politicians’ started for the wrong reasons.

          You’re also wrong in saying that all religions claim to be the one true route to God. Christianity doesn’t. I’m not sure about Judaism. Even Islam mentions the ‘People of the Book’, Jews and Christians, as having some merit in their beliefs.

          But the inability to modernise Islam is a major issue.

          None of this is to say that I am against all Muslims. I’m not. Nor, I imagine, is Little Ole. I am not against any peoples or groups of peoples because of a religion or belief that they hold. I know you, on the other hand, have no time for Catholicism. Presumably that doesn’t mean that you have no time for all catholics?

          If you extend the one to the other then perhaps YOUR position is far more absolutist than you care to admit.

          Of course this doesn’t apply to you, Peter. You rate TB, and he’s a catholic.

    3. Michael Dunn Says:

      Who are you people?

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