Sir, David Crandall’s claim (December 16) that atheists have been responsible for more violence than theists is astounding.
Until the last century only a tiny percentage of people were atheists and those of them who indulged in violence did not do so to promote atheism. All the groups who attacked or threatened Britain eg. Romans, Vikings, Normans, French, Spanish, Dutch and Germans were theists.
So were those on both sides of the internal conflicts and wars of the 16th and 17th Centuries and the later Troubles in Ireland.
In the ancient world all those involved in violence Greeks, Persians, Romans, Egyptians and Israelites were theists.
There were no “atheist” crusaders, inquisitors, conquistadors, imperialists, or slave traders.
Those responsible for the atrocities mentioned by Alan Hinnrichs (December 18) were mainly “Christians” as were others who acted similarly in the Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Portuguese and Russian empires.
So were supporters of both sides in the American War of Independence and the civil war.
Franco and Mussolini were both “Christians”, as are George Bush and Tony Blair.
Nobody talks of “atheist terrorists”.
All the groups who currently practice and threaten violence are religious zealots.
It is notable that in two of the countries with the highest rates of murder in the world South Africa and Honduras the great majority of people are active “Christians”.
The percentage of Americans who are such is far higher than in Canada or any West European country yet its levels of violence are many times higher.
John Munro. 68 Buccleuch Street, Glasgow.
What is the real role of Holyrood?
Sir, – Austerity would end with more powers for Scotland, or so we were told but more powers mean more austerity we are now told. Scots realise that to end austerity requires borrowing or taxation and as Scotland cannot borrow it means taxation.
However, this is a subject no one will dare mention just months before a general election.
The worry is, however, can the country last until the inevitable happens.
We wait while our main road becomes a cul de sac before the opening of the new bridge, we watch as the health service dies, education fails every test, the police become criminally incompetent and our local public services end along with careers and livelihoods because of a lack of proper policy and financial planning.
All this at a time when our oil industry leaks thousands of jobs, as prices plummet, and the concern of the nationalists is to ban an american presidential candidate because of his eccentric views.
I do not believe that oil has no importance to Scotland just as I do not believe we will refuse the potential one quarter billion dollar investment from the presidential candidate, but when will a Scottish politician stand up and explain the actual role of Holyrood in the real world.
Alan Bell. Roods, Kirriemuir.
Grassroots fight is required
Sir, – Any fightback from the feeling of impotence in Scotland today must begin at the grassroots and be spurred on by a revitalised local government.
When I came to St Andrews in 1960 if I had a problem, I went to Provost Niven and it was sorted or he would contact John Gilmore, our ever-helpful Tory MP.
Today we are powerless. If neighbours protest a planning lunacy, even if their councillor and regional council agree, the decision will be overturned by a gauleiter in Edinburgh.
The famous town clerk Sandy Rutherford warned of devolution’s centralising tendancies saying a Scot only needed three levels of authority: Westminster, a local council and the wife.
Far from empowering the grass roots, John Swinney passed the buck to Scotland’s councils by taking £350 million out of their coffers and continuing the council tax freeze.
Rev Dr John Cameron. Howard Place, St Andrews.
President Trump may happen yet
Sir, – Is the prospect of Donald Trump becoming President of the United States a realistic one?
When Menzies Campbell writes about American politics (December) we are all wise to heed his words.
It is worth remembering that, from our vantage point on this side of the Atlantic, the idea of either Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton getting the highest office in the States was once seen as fanciful. Yet they both made it.
Neither proved to be the complete disaster many had predicted. Indeed the Clinton presidency, though not with scandal and controversy, was one associated with an unprecedented economic boom.
Trump’s language is strong, even offensive to many. But he is seeking, at this stage, the Republican nomination.
He is tapping into a public mood partly based on fear and near total cynicism about the political establishment.
But do not be surprised, if he wins that nomination, that his tone becomes more and more moderate.
Lord Campbell is right the presidency will be won by an appeal to the centre ground. Trump is shrewd enough to know that, just as he is shrewd enough to know that at present he needs to appeal to people’s baser instincts.
Let’s hope he doesn’t seriously damage relations between ethnic and faith groups in the process.
Bob Taylor. 24 Shiel Court, Glenrothes.
Toll removals a mistake
Sir, – The Courier was a leading voice in favour of removal in the years before the abolition of the bridge tolls in Scotland in 2008. Yes, a minority of drivers may have saved a few hundred pounds per year in bridge tolls but by heck they are paying the price now.
The maths is simple. With no income from bridge tolls, maintenance has suffered and now the bridge has closed for repairs.
Those same drivers who saved on the tolls are now paying extra in fuel and time to cross the Forth. The whole country has been inconvenienced.
I was against the removal of the tolls from the beginning and cited in letters to The Courier those very reasons why. You never printed my letter then and I doubt whether you will print my letter now.
Peter Henry. 4 Law Road, Dundee.
The case for independence
Sir, – Martin Redfern (December 17 ) asked: “Does anyone believe there is still a valid case for independence?” Actually, the case for an independent Scotland gets stronger with every day that passes.
This list is almost endless, but here a few of the reasons for needing Holyrood to run Scotland instead of Westminster: we won’t have pay for Trident (£6,000 per household on current estimates), Crossrail, HS2, House of Lords, Whitehall mandarins and illegal wars. We will protect the NHS and other vital services from privatisation.
Andrew Collins. Ladyburn House, Skinners Steps, Cupar.
That’s Snow attitude!
Sir, – Criticism of Jon Snow’s anti-British empire views (16/12) is correct, as demonstrated when he reported on the 2014 floods in Somerset.
He was interviewing a clearly distressed couple, standing outside a house that was waist deep in water. “Look,” he said, “this is much worse in Bangladesh.it rains there andwhoosh!. everything gone.so you two are jolly lucky.”
My complaint to Channel 4 was rejected on the grounds of fair comment. What an attitude.
Malcolm Parkin. 15 Gamekeepers Road, Kinnesswood, Kinross.
Money isn’t the answer
Sir, – What is it with politicians and throwing money at problems? Lack of attainment of schoolkids has more do with parenting and reluctance to challenge and impose discipline than imposing yet more reform, money and methods.
Two teacher friends have gone to three-day weeks, one has taken early retirement and one will resign the same day as the Named Person scheme comes into effect. Between them they have over 100 years’ experience.
They hate CFE and talk about pupils not being toilet trained, having uncontrollable behaviour and the large amounts of free school dinners left uneaten and thrown in the bin.
All are dismayed at the poor grammar and basic arithmetic skills of many new teachers.
How can an education system function like this? How much money is being wasted on classroom assistants, and extra teaching and administration time by failing to identify the real issues and tackle the source of the problem: the parents?
It is the same in health care where obesity, drugs and alcohol account for at least £1bn of NHS Scotland’s £12bn budget and we hear that between 40% and 70% of ambulance calls are for drunks who then abuse ambulance, call centre and hospital staff, often violently.
I suppose the answer is it’s far easier to blame “Westmonster” than the real culprits and risk losing their votes.
Allan Sutherland. 1 Willow Row, Stonehaven.
Reverse racism at its worst
Sir, – I refer to your news story about the racism allegations in the casting of the Absolutely Fabulous film.
Surely it is Margaret Cho who is being racist by suggesting that the relevant part should go to an Asian, simply because they are Asian, rather than simply to the best person for the part.
This would be patronising reverse discrimination of the worst kind.
Laurie Richards. Crail Road, Cellardyke.
Sir, – I was hugely amused by the Calvinist Reverend and Free Kirk Moderator David Robertson accusing secularists of being “dictatorial”, “absolutist” and “immoderate” (15/12).
I think that biblical reference to motes and beams may be appropriate here!
In any event I wish the good Reverend a Happy Christmas and Reason’s Greetings.
Alistair McBay, National Secular Society, 5 Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh.