The morning I had my heart attack, I was preparing to head off to New Broadcasting House to do BBC World News that afternoon.
In that huge list of ridiculous things that happened that morning, I had first tried dealing with the chest ache with a small glass of milk and a lemon fancy. No. Cake is not the answer to a heart attack. Aside from my woeful misdiagnosis of 'some acidy thing', the fact that I had anticipated still making the 11.08 to Waterloo, having just been dropped off at the hospital by ambulance at 8am, I hope speaks to my optimism more than anything else.
Its odd what you think about whilst sat in a hospital bed waiting to hear about troponin levels. For me, I was keen to rip the line out of my arm and was badgering my wife on the logistics of getting out of Dodge and upto London. She seemed unimpressed. I had wondered whether she had actually listened to my mad rantings at 5am about how I was going to tackle Rupert Shortt that afternoon on his book 'Christianophobia'.
As lovely as she is, I wasn't sure how Rabbi Glasner was going to get a word in edgeways. Attacks on Christians are heinous and to be completely condemned, however the figure being banded around of 200 million persecuted faithful was appalling. Not for the scale, nor for what it says about our current geopolitical situation but for the fact it was utterly nonsensical. I was going to tell him how that figure had been regurgitated since the early 90s and how Ken Roth from Human Rights Watch had discredited it. How the figure was based on a late 80s estimate of a Chinese Christian population which was anywhere between 14m - 100m. I was also going to tell him that Shea (whom he called a civil rights activist) was a neocon GOP stooge and how she with Michael Horowitz had been outed as wanting to not only wage war on 'the liberal elite' in the US, but they had admitted and Jeffrey Goldberg had established in the New York Times in Dec 1997, that the Christian Coalition was working to lobby Congress - the persecution narrative was entirely political. Even Nelson Graham (Rev Billy Graham's son) had called it a 'destructive political tool'.
Shortt was peddling a 20 year old narrative that we had imported from the US, based on a flawed and politicised narrative from Paul Marshall via the World Evangelical Alliance feeding the fundamentalist far right of US Christian politics, which had been used to devastating effect in train-wrecking legislation and ousting the Democrats to bring GW Bush into office. It was the precursor to the Tea Party and a golden period for the GOP and neoconservatism. Aside from that I wanted to hear from Shortt on his speech at St Michaels College, Cardiff a couple of weeks previous, where he had repeated the same mantra of attacking the liberal elite media. I thought it was about human rights.
And where was God, tolerance and bridging the gap with the Muslim world in amongst all of this? Working towards understanding and peace, not using the insidious, dangerous and reckless language of division and absolutism. I had wanted to know about connections, philosophical or otherwise to Nina Rosenwald and Gatestone, a spin off from the Hudson Institute. Rosenwald had been called the 'Sugar Mama of anti Muslim hate' by Max Blumenthal, was hugley influential in funding pro-israeli and anti-Muslim organisations, and had previously rolled out the red carpet for Geert Wilders. I had wanted to know what Shortt thought about his work being commented on by as varied luminaries such as Pepintster but also Frank Gaffney Jr.
I had wanted to know how he felt being a poster boy for this unholy alliance of anti-Muslim activists and intolerant Christian fundamentalists, and how even the US National Council of Churches had warned about this persecution complex giving rise to pre holocaust Nazi ideology. I had wanted wanted to know how he responded to the idea of widespread anti Muslim action, a hardening in the West and how there is almost no populous country on the planet where Muslims are able to live free and unfettered by either political social or economic oppression.
But that was rather a lot to squeeze into a small discussion slot and I wasn't entirely convinced Mishal Hussain was going to allow it. In fairness, this stuff is enough to give anyone a heart attack, let alone a morbidly obese political commentator of Asian extraction. I had better take my meds. Visiting hours soon.