View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Sunday 24 October

A quiet Sunday, with some sunshine, although not feeling very warm. It is supposed to get really cold overnight - on the mainland. An overnight low of -6C is forecast for southwestern Scotland. Being on an island carries certain benefits, although it does not mean we don't get frosts. We had very hard frosts last winter.

I have been referring extensively on this blog to the death of Linda Norgrove, who will be buried at Ardroil on Tuesday. The circumstances of her death have led me into two quite ferocious discussions. The first was on the subject of 'what was she doing in Afghanistan', and whether a woman should have been active in a patriarchal society. I believe that her activity, steering local farmers away from opium poppy production, was a valid aim which has an impact far beyond the confines of Afghanistan. I never met Linda, but accounts in the press describe her as having a unique gift to relate to people. It would appear that she commanded a degree of respect, to the extent that village elders were appealing to the Coalition forces in Afghanistan not to intervene, but to leave it to them to get Linda free.

This neatly leads me on to the second discussion, which was by Internet with another blogger. I can start by saying we no longer read each other's blogs. When the news of Ms Norgrove's death was announced, I relayed it on this blog, because she had lived and grown up in the Isle of Lewis; and because the news media were promptly swarming all over the place. A comment cropped up, which roundly condemned American foreign and military policy, a criticism that I partly concurred with. Someone else reacted to the initial comment, and a reply comment came back from the first respondent - which I disallowed. It is something I rarely do, but on this occasion I did not feel it appropriate to permit a discussion to develop on a blogpost that was partly a tribute to a dead person. I was quickly condemned for censorship and not permitting the truth to be aired, and only allowing lies to be printed, etc. etc. Nothing I said in reply (by email) could serve to placate the commenter and (to omit an increasingly acrimonious exchange) the person concerned decided to stop reading my blog. No big deal to me - I'm writing this blog because I enjoy doing it and do not seek to gain from it in any sense.

As I said, I am critical of American foreign and defence policy, and I'm not afraid to air that. I do take exception to people who see fit to abuse individual citizens of the USA over the blunders committed by their government. Yes, a majority voted for the likes of Presidents Obama, Bush, Clinton and their predecessors. It does not mean they necessarily agree with policies adopted by said officials.

To conclude my paragraphs on Linda Norgrove, I feel it deplorable that her death could be attributable to a blunder by American special forces who had come to rescue her. I am deeply saddened by the likelihood that she was targeted for kidnap because she worked for an American aid organisation.

At the end of the day though, we should all remember that the blame for Linda's death lies squarely at the door of the insurgents who kidnapped her last month. RIP.