Persecuted Minorities

I often compare antismoking to antisemitism.

What’s antisemitism? Hatred of Jews.

What are Jews? There seem to be two answers to this question. The first one is that Judaism is a religion, and Jews are hated for their beliefs. And the second one is that Jews are are a separate race of people, and are hated for that.

The two answers are not mutually exclusive. If people all share the same beliefs, then they’re likely to spend most of their time with each other, and to intermarry, and thereby to gradually form a distinct and separate race of people.

And if people are persecuted for being either Jewish by faith or Jewish by race, this persecution will only serve to bind them together even more tightly than before.

It seems to be one of the lessons of history that, if you want to unite any particular group of people, all you need do is persecute them.

So, for example, perhaps the main reason why Christianity became the state religion of Rome circa 330 AD was because Christians were subjected to intense persecution by Roman emperors like Nero and Diocletian. In fact, it may even have been the only reason why Christianity became the state religion of Rome. Throwing all those Christians to the lions more or less ensured it. Christianity was the persecuted religion of a persecuted and crucified prophet.

And if the Jewish/Israeli lobby in the USA is at present so powerful, it is because 80 years ago Jews were subjected to their most intense persecution ever, with the consequent (and perhaps inevitable) result that they acquired (or re-acquired) their own separate nation state of Israel.

I’m not sure, but I think that what’s now called “antisemitism” is actually an anti-Israeli (and often pro-Palestinian) sentiment. So if Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn is being accused of antisemitism, I suspect he’s being accused of being anti-Israeli and/or pro-Palestinian.

Anyway, I think that the current global persecution of smokers is going to weld the world’s smokers into a powerful new political force. And it’s going to do that because that’s what persecution always does: it acts to unite people.

The persecution of smokers is not yet quite as intense as the persecution of Jews or Christians. Smokers aren’t being  herded into gas chambers or thrown to the lions. But in some ways it is more intense because it is a global persecution in the way that the persecution of Jews or Christians never was. Smokers are now subject to persecution almost everywhere in the world.

It always surprises me that, in an era of identity politics, only a few identities (lesbians, gays, blacks, Jews, etc.) gain recognition, and some degree of protection. Smokers aren’t one of these protected minorities. But I think that they are shortly going to become one.

I think that in some 50 years time, smokers are going to be a newly-recognised persecuted minority, and maybe even have their own nation (Tobago?). And they’re going to be a very vocal and powerful and influential minority. And all entirely as a result of being persecuted.

And in this respect they might find themselves in the company of other newly-recognised persecuted minorities (global warming deniers?). For it may well be that once any persecuted minority gains recognition and protection, it then ceases to be a persecuted minority. So in 50 years time it may well be that gays and lesbians and Jews and blacks have ceased to be regarded as  persecuted minorities, and have their places taken by smokers and global warm deniers and fat people and meat eaters.

And if you want to know who is next going to become a protected persecuted minority, you shouldn’t look back one hundred or two hundred years, but simply look around to see who is being persecuted right now. Because they’re the ones who are going to gain future recognition.

And recognition for smokers will come when non-smokers begin to realize that smokers are being persecuted. After all, most likely, when Nero started throwing Christians to the lions in ancient Rome, many non-Christian Romans began to sympathize with Christians in ways they never had before. Very likely there were non-Christian Romans who helped Christians to evade or escape Nero’s henchmen, much like many non-Jews helped Jews in Nazi Germany.

And it seems to take a lot for people to notice that other people are being persecuted. There seems to be blindness to what is happening until somebody or something draws their attention to it. They simply don’t see it. And in the case of smokers they simply don’t see the smokers huddled outside the pubs and restaurants in which they were once welcome. Nor do they see them huddled outside the gates of hospitals in which they are supposed to be cared for as patients.

What’s being done to smokers, almost everywhere in the world, is something truly terrible. But hardly anybody notices. Yet this is what always happens. Who noticed what began to happen to Jews in 1930’s Nazi Germany? Hardly anybody. It was only in 1945 that the whole world suddenly woke up to what had been happening. And perhaps that was because their attention was fixed on other pressing matters – like fighting a war -. Perhaps it was only in 1945, when the war ended, that it became possible to think about anything else. So also today. Attention is directed elsewhere. It’s directed towards Brexit and Trump and global warming, and nothing else matters.

It will not be always thus.

About Frank Davis

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17 Responses to Persecuted Minorities

  1. RdM says:

    “I think that in some 50 years time,”

    We can’t afford to wait 50 years, or even 5.

    This has to be protested now, vehemently. And often.

    • RdM says:

      And there is only one day left to object &or subject to this:

      The closing date for submissions is Thursday, 8 August 2019 Thursday, 08 August 2019
      This bill would amend the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 to prohibit smoking in vehicles, including employers in work vehicles, carrying anyone under the age of 18. The purpose of the bill is to protect children from the harm associated with second hand smoke.

      The bill would give the police the power to stop any vehicle with children in it, in which a constable sees a person smoking. The police would be able to require the vehicle to be stopped for as long as necessary to make inquires, require the person to stop smoking, and require the person to provide their information.

      The bill proposes a $50 infringement fee or a court fine not exceeding $100 for any person found smoking in the presence of anyone under the age of 18 in a vehicle.

      Stationary vehicles parked on the road that are being used as dwellings would be exempt from this bill.

      What do you need to know?

      • Submissions are publicly released and published to the Parliament website. Only your name or organisation’s name is required on a submission. Please keep your contact details separate, as if they are included on the submission they will become publicly available when the submission is released.

      • If you wish to include information of a private or personal nature in your submission you should discuss this with the clerk of the committee before submitting.

      • If you wish to speak to your submission, please state this clearly.

      Further guidance on making a submission can be found from the ‘How to make a submission’ link in the ‘Related documents’ panel. If you have any questions about your submission or the submission process please contact the Committee Staff through the contact details provided on this page.

      Submissions are now being accepted
      1 day left
      Closing date: 08 Aug 2019 NZ Time

      I’m still composing sentences in my head, paragraphs, arguments …

      I’d like to oppose, counter-argue, but fear I may run out of time.

      This is what we’re up against, in all it’s varied forms, isn’t it?

      ~ RdM.

  2. Algernon Struthers says:

    Recently the sciences wanted to eradicate Christianity, encouraged by people like Richard Dawkins. They meant well and they had some points, but then Islam arrived and flipped the whole thing on it’s arse. Dawkins and his ilk suddenly discovered they had more sympathy for Christianity than they had realized.
    And smoking, well junk science screams lies about it, and not many people like lies, even less being duped.
    Obesity arrived about the same time as anti-smoking laws, odd coincidence. My, my, and cancer rates worldwide are still increasing. With less smokers, how can that possible be?! Add to that, the ice caps are increasing too, and NASA is puzzling about how to explain it all.
    The world gets confused, but me and us, we’ll enjoy a good smoke until the joyous truth dawns on the rest of the world, and it will.

    • Rose says:

      and cancer rates worldwide are still increasing. With less smokers, how can that possible be

      I have been seeing these stories regularly over the past few years.

      ‘You do think: why me?’ The shocking rise of lung cancer in non-smokers

      “The decline of cigarette consumption over the past 15 years means that the proportion of people with the disease who are LCINs is growing. In addition, the absolute numbers and rates of LCINs are going up. Abbott loathes the stigma that non-smokers face when they get “the smoker’s disease”; every time she tells someone about her diagnosis, she feels obliged to add: “I’ve never smoked.”

      Like Cervical cancer used to be blamed on smoking until they discovered it was caused by Human Papilloma Virus, Peptic Ulcer was blamed on smoking too until after quite a fight amongst the medical profession, it was proved to be caused by Helicobacter pylori.
      Though some still clearly found it hard to change their old beliefs.

      Smoking and peptic ulcer in the Helicobacter pylori era.

      “Before the recent understanding of the central importance of Helicobacter pylori in the pathogenesis of peptic ulcer disease, smoking had been regarded as an important contributor to the cause and perpetuation of the disease.

      In this review, we find that (1) clinical observations indicate that smokers are more likely to develop ulcers, ulcers in smokers are more difficult to heal, and relapse of ulcer disease is more likely in smokers, (2) smoking adversely affects the gastroduodenal mucosal protective mechanisms, thus predisposing to ulcer disease, (3) smoking adversely affects gastroduodenal motility, allowing reflux of harmful duodenal contents into the stomach, (4) smokers appear to be at higher risk of becoming infected with H. pylori and this increased risk may be due to the adverse effects of smoking on antioxidants or the immune system that may interfere with the normal protection against H. pylori, and (5) once H. pylori is eradicated in smokers, they appear to be at no greater risk of peptic ulcer disease.

      We conclude that smoking in itself appears not to be an independent ulcerogen, but may act by augmenting the harmful effects of H. pylori, both by adversely affecting upper gastrointestinal mucosal protection and physiology and by increasing the risk of H. pylori infection.
      Thus, we recommend that appropriate advice to ulcer patients who smoke continues to be: stop smoking.”

      Current advice

      “Both stomach and duodenal ulcers are sometimes referred to as peptic ulcers.”

      What causes stomach ulcers?

      “Stomach ulcers occur when the layer that protects the stomach lining from stomach acid breaks down, which allows the stomach lining to become damaged.
      This is usually a result of:
      an infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria
      taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin – particularly if they’re taken for a long time or at high doses

      It used to be thought that stress or certain foods might cause stomach ulcers, but there’s little evidence to suggest this is the case.”
      https ://

      It’s all a matter of time.

      • Timothy Goodacre says:

        Diesel fumes are the main cause of lung cancer.

        • Rose says:

          Air pollution to blame for soaring numbers of non-smokers who develop lung cancer

          “Air pollution is being blamed for soaring numbers of non-smokers who are developing lung cancer.
          Doctors at leading cancer centres in London warned that high levels of pollution are causing a spike in cases of lung cancer.

          They said, if the trend continues, the number of lung cancer deaths among non-smokers will overtake those who smoke within a decade.
          According to The Times, there are more than 46,000 new cases of lung cancer every year in the UK.
          Eric Lim, a consultant thoracic surgeon, said the number of patients treated at the centre between 2008 and 2014 remained constant at about 310 a year.

          But, of those patients, the number of those who never smoked had risen from fewer than 50 to nearly 100 a year.
          He said that the reasons for this change remained unclear but air pollution was a likely cause.”

          “Gordon Brown introduced tax breaks for diesel cars as the UK chancellor in 2001 because they emit less CO2 than petrol-powered cars, but it is now known that they emit other harmful pollutants, known as nitrogen oxides.

          Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Drayson, who was science minister from 2008-10 in Brown’s government, admitted: “We did get it wrong. We now have a much better understanding than we did just a few years ago of what are the health effects of the products of diesel cars and they are literally killing people so it’s clear that in retrospect that was the wrong policy.”


          “Exhaust from diesel-powered buses and trucks is a serious and growing threat to health and the environment in New York City, according to a report by a national environmental group.

          The report, prepared by the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that more than 3,000 tons of toxic particles from diesel engines were ”spewed into the air in New York City every year.” It said the pollution was increasing as more diesel vehicles entered the city’s streets.

          “The report also said recent health surveys had linked diesel particles with elevated levels of lung cancer. Diesel exhausts also degrade visibility in urban areas, create noxious fumes and deposit dirt on buildings and other structures, it said. #11% Rise Expected by 1995 The emissions of toxic particles from diesel engines in cities such as New York is expected to climb 11 percent by 1995 because of the growing use of diesel-powered vehicles, the report said.”

          “Robert V. Majewski of the New York State Environmental Conservation Department said that while it was known that diesel particles could cause cancer, the state was ”not sure yet” how much of a problem the city faced.

          The state has no strategy for dealing with diesel exhausts, he said, because ”we have not identified the extent of the problem.”
          https: //

      • Charles Burns says:

        In light of this, one would think “science” would stop casting about for external factors on which to blame cancer, and at least seriously hypothesize that different cancers are in fact caused by different viruses. But of course nobody is looking for the lung cancer virus because “Everybody Knows Smoking Causes Lung Cancer”

  3. Charles Burns says:

    Yes, I think most “antisemitism” today is anti-Zionism and a dislike of the power Israel seems to have over American and British foreign policy in that part of the world. Criticism of Israel is a social sin akin to smoking on the subway. You just can’t get away with either

  4. Timothy Goodacre says:

    Strikes me that today in the UK white people and smokers are the disadvantaged ones. Every other group including those who a few years ago would have been described as freaks have their needs carefully considered.
    These non smoking puritans need to understand that 10% of the population will always enjoy tobacco and have no intention of giving it up.

  5. smokingscot says:

    Corbyn is pro Palestine and by default is highly critical of the political structure in Israel.

    Tobago is a very small island of about 116 sq miles. Smoking never gained popularity in Trinidad and has fully implemented the fctc recommendations.

    Perhaps a better choice is Malawi. They’re a big producer of tobacco and are not a signatory to fctc. It’s a lovely place too.

  6. Smoking Lamp says:

    There is indeed global persecution of smokers. This persecution has been cultivated and nurtured by tobacco control activists through the use of relentless propaganda. The evidence of harm from smoking is largely false and certainly exaggerated. The evidence of the manipulated data and scientific misconduct is hidden in plan sight (it is hard to totally hide decades of scientific inquiry) but the evidence that disputes the activist agenda is brutally suppressed. Tobacco control must be destroyed!

  7. Lepercolonist says:

    We need a international celebrity to get gunned down on the sidewalk while taking a smoke break. Someone such as Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, or Elton John. Some rabid antismoker nut case as the perp. Crazier things have occurred.

    As you stated, Frank:.a Christian in the Coliseum works wonders for persecuted minorities.

  8. waltc says:

    First, no, Jews are not a race. I once had a character say in a novel that “as soon as you start to think of Jews as a race, the next thing, you’re trying to run them off the planet.” Jews, like Catholics, are just people who subscribe to a particular religion, or were otherwise descended from
    people who did. There are black (Ethiopian) Jews. Sammy Davis converted. To the extent that Jews–historically despised and excluded from both Christian and Islamic societies–married other Jews from the same areas of diaspora, there may be some common genetic traits, much as are found among insulated islanders. But it’s still not a race –any more than Samoan or Japanese is a race.

    The debate goes on about whether being anti-Israeli is anti-antisemitic. I’d say mostly yes. The Isreal haters use the same language. They don’t talk about “the evil Israelis” they talk about “the evil Jews” and pick up the memes of the wholly antisemitic Arabs and the slurs going back to the famously forged “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” In the wake of the holocaust, being anti-Israel is a convenient and ostensibly acceptable cover (complete with a kind of Who Me? deniability) for being antisemitic. And the newfound love of Arabs and irrational “respect” for irrational Islam is part of tne package. So yes, Corbyn and Ilhan Omar are antisemites.

    That pedantry done, your analogy is apt. Under Nazism, before they were deported to the camps, Jews were incrementally excluded from workplaces, campuses, public accomodations, parks and playgrounds, housing, hotels, and eventually from sidewalks (which is what made NYC’s once-proposed sidewalk ban so resonantly hideous. ) The grounds were the same too. “Dirty Jews” spread disease, just as smokers do. . Though much the same libel was used against blacks to rationalize Jim Crow. An illuminating book on public health and prejudice is “Silent Travelers” by Alan Kraut.

    • Rose says:

      There are chilling similarities.

      Denormalizing Smoking: Banning Cigarettes in Parks and on Beaches

      “In the paper “Banning Smoking In Parks and on Beaches: Science, Policy, and the Politics of Denormalization,” published in the July issue of the journal Health Affairs, researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health analyzed the evidence for these claims and found them to be far from definitive and, in some cases, weak.

      There is however a case for such bans –it rests on the duty of government acting in the name of public health to restrict smoking in order to protect smokers themselves. By banning smoking in public settings the crucial task of denormalizing which contributes to lowering smoking rates is fostered in important ways.

      A national database maintained by the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation shows that from January 1993 to June 2011, U.S. smoking bans were put in effect in 843 parks and on 150 beaches.”

      It was such a peculiar thing to do that I wondered if anyone else had ever banned anyone from parks and beaches and found that they had.

      1935-36 – Jews banned from parks, restaurants and swimming pools
      1938 – Jews excluded from cinema, theatre, concerts, exhibitions, beaches and holiday resorts

    • Frank Davis says:

      I’m reminded of Winston Churchill’s book, The Island Race, which I would suppose is about us Brits.

      There’s also a book by him called “A History of the English-Speaking Peoples” which I think used to be called “A History of the English-Speaking Races”.

      Clearly Churchill saw the British as a “race”. So he would have probably had no trouble in thinking of the Japanese or Samoans as a race as well.

      So the meaning of the word “race” would seem to have changed since Churchill’s time (and he was a master of both the written and spoken English language). Now “race” seems to be a genetic trait.

      I place little faith in genes and genetics. These days I’m more interested in the idea that peoples are shaped by the environments in which they live, and that the differences between the Scots and the Welsh and the English here in Britain are to be found in the different terrain and climate of the places where they live. I think that if you go and live in Spain (as I almost did) you gradually become Spanish, regardless of whether you marry or not. For example you start having a siesta in the afternoon, because it’s simply too hot to do anything else, and you only come out at night when it’s cooler.

      • roobeedoo2 says:

        I listened to fascinating interview on epigenetics the other evening. The Doc kind of agrees with you…

        And last night I listened to the powerful film posted by Brigitte (thank you Brigitte)…

        If you have a few hours spare, I recommend listening/watching both.

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