In preparation for Mohammed's upcoming visit to the UK, the Foreign Office issued a memo of suggested activities for the prophet while he is here. These activities included serving up large rations of streaky bacon for the homeless at a London shelter, blessing gay marriages, a night out at Stringfellow's with local religious leaders, and teaching a gymnastics class for young girls to encourage physical fitness. The FO is also considering the sale of special edition burqa's featuring Mohammed's image at souk's across London during Big Mo's visit.
Does this sound like a joke to you? No doubt you read that and thought 'Britain's FO would NEVER do this because they cower in fear of what would happen if they did.' You're right. The FO would never do this to Muslims, but they would not hesitate to issue this kind of memo about the pope.
They were furious at a 'seriously offensive' memo by Whitehall officials containing suggestions of what Benedict XVI might do during the trip - including opening an abortion clinic.
Other ideas involved getting the Pope to launch a range of 'Benedict' condoms, apologise for the Spanish Armada and bless a gay marriage. The leader of the world's one billion Catholics could also, it was suggested, back a Miss Developing World beauty contest and sing a duet with the Queen.
Look out for Catholic extremists outside Whitehall with signs reading 'Behead Infidels" and "Catholicism for Britain."
The ever amazing Melanie Phillips writes about this affair and the dumbing-down of the FO:
In any event, this doesn’t seem to have been an email which was sent around by accident. It was a document that was sent to a senior Foreign Office official, 10 Downing Street, the Department for International Development and the Northern Ireland Office.
And when you look at its covering note, it seems even less likely that it was meant as a joke. For it says these suggestions were ‘the product of a brainstorm which took into account even the most far-fetched of ideas’. In other words, however far-fetched they were, these ideas were apparently being offered for serious discussion.
This appears to have been a different kind of brainstorm altogether. For these suggestions could not have been more carefully and deliberately designed to be as offensive and insulting as possible. Something like this could not have happened in the past, when a very different type of mandarin — stuffy, upper-class, punctilious to a fault — typified the Foreign Office.
Such a type was hardly ideal. But then, like the rest of the Whitehall establishment, the FCO moved from one extreme to another.
A concerted effort began to recruit from beyond the ranks of the privileged — in other words, those who had a reliable standard of education because they had been to the best schools — in favour of those from every kind of disadvantage. For whom, of course, the standard had to be lowered.
Even among those educated at good schools and Oxbridge, however, the general collapse of educational and moral standards has meant public service is now populated by a certain type of young official who is callow, shallow and politically correct to a fault.