The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

The Blogspot version of "PC Watch" is HERE The Blogroll; John Ray's Home Page; Email John Ray here. Other mirror sites: Greenie Watch, Dissecting Leftism, Education Watch, Gun Watch, Socialized Medicine, Recipes, Australian Politics, Tongue Tied, Immigration Watch and Food & Health Skeptic. For a list of backups viewable in China, see here. (Click "Refresh" on your browser if background colour is missing). See here or here for the archives of this site.

31 August, 2007

Biased CNN `Warriors' crosses the line

Critics of religion like to claim that the source of most of the world's ills can be traced to believers who wage wars in the name of their distorted fanatic faiths. Indeed, this thesis has led to a spate of new books advocating atheism and deriding religion in the past year.

Needless to say, critics of this trend have pointed out that the vast majority of the deaths incurred by conflicts in history's bloodiest century - the twentieth - were caused by fanatical non-believers in traditional faiths in the name of their Communist, Maoist and Nazi faiths.

But it must be admitted that violent religious extremists are, at this moment in time, the primary threat to the peace of the world. The only problem with this unpleasant fact is that the opprobrium rightly aimed at the perpetrators of this faith-based violence cannot be neatly distributed across the board to practitioners of the three major monotheistic religions.

Though present-day Jews and Christians are not all saints, there is no getting around the fact that neither of those religions has sprouted a contemporary movement aimed at world domination to be achieved by terror and war. That honor is reserved for the Muslim faith, among whose adherents Islamist terror movements have found a home in the mainstream of its culture.

Not all Muslims are Islamists. Most American Muslims are nothing of the kind. But the notion that supporters of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other assorted anti-Western and anti-Jewish terror movements are a tiny minority in the Arab and Muslim world is a delusion.

But in this age of political correctness, to single out one group for the sins of a large number of its members is considered unfair and perhaps even racist. So, instead, we are asked to pretend that there is an intrinsic connection or even symmetry between Christian, Jewish and Muslim extremists.

That was exactly the premise of a widely heralded three-part series on CNN last week. Titled "G-d's Holy Warriors," and fronted by famed international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, it was a tryptich across the globe to highlight the danger from Jewish, Muslim and Christian extremists who are all given the same treatment and air-time in the guise of even-handedness.

Thus, by its very structure of equating the three different situations, the series was nothing short of a brazen lie.

Though all parts of the series were problematic, the first of the series, devoted to threat from extremist Israeli Jewish settlers and the entire network of support for the State of Israel in this country, was as classic an example of a dishonest piece of biased programming as anything that has been broadcast on a major network.

Though a tiny fraction of the settlement movement, which itself commands the support of only a fraction of Israelis, have committed isolated acts of violence, the notion that this group is in any way analogous to Al Qaeda is nothing short of bizarre. If anything, Jewish settlers and ordinary Israelis living inside the pre-1967 borders have themselves been the victims of the intolerance, fanaticism and violence of their Muslim neighbors.

That the broadcasts' view of international law on the question of the legality of the Jewish presence in the territories is one-sided is an understatement. A strong case can be made that the Jews living in those places have every right to do so. Moreover the idea that their living in these places constitutes the primary obstacle to peace in the Middle East is nothing short of fantastic especially given the events of the last several years which have shown how disinterested the Palestinians are in peace with Israel no matter where its borders are.

Even worse, the show seemingly accepts the discredited canard of Israeli and American Jewish control of American foreign policy put forth by such risible figures as former president Jimmy Carter and academic John Mearsheimer whose views were treated with respect rather than journalistic skepticism.

As such the worldwide news network lent itself to a line of argument that has rightly been termed a modern intellectual justification for anti-Semitism.

But no matter what one's view of the settlers, the main problem with the series cannot be explained away. Extremist Muslims are a threat to both peace and the West. But a few right-wing Jews are no threat to anyone and are, if anything, among the primary victims of Muslim terror.

CNN cannot be allowed to get away with this sort of despicable bias. Decent persons of all faiths need to speak out against this network and to make sure that it, and its arrogant star Amanpour, are made to hear of our outrage at every possible opportunity and in every way possible, including the use of economic leverage by both sponsors and viewers.


Homosexuals assault critics

Angry homosexual activists harassed and assaulted ex-homosexuals at the Arlington County Fair last week, according to an ex-gay educational and support group.

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) reports its volunteers were distributing education materials on same-sex attraction and awareness of ex-homosexuals at their fair booth. Homosexual activists approached them and created a disturbance, spewing obscenities and dashing materials from the exhibit table. The group demanded that PFOX leave the fairgrounds, recognize "same-sex spouses" and rejected arguments that homosexuals could change their sexual orientation although they admitted they knew heterosexuals who had done the same.

The confrontation escalated after one activist struck a PFOX ex-gay volunteer after becoming infuriated over the man's testimony about leaving the homosexual lifestyle. A police officer then ejected the activist from the fairgrounds, although the ex-homosexual volunteer declined to press charges citing the example of Jesus Christ. The incident, while not uncommon in PFOX experience, continues to highlight homosexual activists' rejection of tolerance and equal access ideas opposing and competing with the homosexual agenda.

PFOX said that several homosexuals had identified themselves as teachers and would make sure that PFOX ex-homosexual materials would not reach teenagers in schools as pro-homosexual materials do.


The Racial Engineering of San Francisco

Post below lifted from American Thinker

One of the ugliest aspects of contemporary "progressive" thought is a thoroughly patronizing attitude toward African-Americans, regarding them as eternal victims unable to fend for themselves. The latest insult comes from America's most stridently left wing big city government, San Francisco, where municipal officials are fretting over recent declines in the number of blacks living within the city limits.

The nation's largest newspaper, USA Today, yesterday joined the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle in bemoaning the trend of San Franciscans of African heritage moving out of the central city. Not just to "working-class cities like Vallejo, Richmond or Fairfield" (The New York Times), but to genuine American Dream suburbs like fast-growing Tracy California, which welcomes all races and hosts a proud and growing African-American community that includes a number of people of my acquaintance.

Even more pernicious than liberal journalists lamenting blacks behaving like every other group attracted to the amenities of suburban living are the official attitude and actions of local government.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported last April that:
San Francisco officials are now calling the thousands of black people who have moved away "the African American diaspora," and the mayor's office is putting together a task force to figure out what can be done to preserve the remaining black population and cultivate new residents.
USA Today helpfully updates:
San Francisco officials... vow to stop the exodus and develop a strategy to win blacks back to the city. In June, Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed a task force to study how to reverse decades of policies - and neglect - that black leaders say have fueled the flight. [emphasis added]
So taxpayer funds are already being expended for the purpose of encouraging one race to live in the city of San Francisco, and by extension discouraging other races who might instead occupy the same housing. Am I the only person who sees this as racist madness?

A thought experiment

Imagine that instead of blacks, the white population of San Francisco (which has declined significantly over the last several decades, from 89.5% white in 1950 to 53% in 2000) were the object of concern. City officials trying "stop the exodus" or "win whites" (as if they were a prize) or "to figure out what can be done to preserve the remaining white population and cultivate new white residents" would be properly accused of racism.

But the problem with the city's concern to "preserve" (not in formaldehyde, one hopes) its black population go deeper than just an unthinking and reflexive desire to see blacks as a special group deserving special rights and needing special protections from a wise and benevolent city government that knows better than they where said blacks should live. The very concept of racially engineering a city's population ought to be anathema to anyone who gives a moment's thought to the matter.

What's the "optimum" number?

How would one go about deciding how many blacks are "enough" for San Francisco? Any theory or method one might choose is deeply flawed.

The latest estimate of San Francisco's black population puts it at 6.5%, a level which is below the national average of 12.3%, but which is almost equal to the California average of  6.7%. Yet the current black percentage of the city's population already is regarded as a problem because it is too low. So apparently the thinking is that San Francisco for some reason should have a greater-than-California-average concentration of black residents. It is not merely a matter of San Francisco reflecting the average, San Francisco should exceed the average. Why? Are blacks to be stereotyped as "urban" - the kind of people who should be concentrated in certain neighborhoods? I thought we called this "ghettoization" and considered it racist.

All three newspaper articles linked above mention the history of African-Americans in San Francisco, so perhaps the thinking is that some sort of "historic preservation" principle applies to ethnic communities as well as to structures of architectural or historic significance. But anyone with the slightest familiarity with San Francisco history, or the history of practically any large American city for that matter, should see that neighborhoods change over time, as established groups prosper and move on, and are replaced by newer residents.

Historical amnesia

All three newspapers specifically mention the Fillmore District in San Francisco as a neighborhood sadly being lost by its apparently somehow rightful black inhabitants. Yet none of the papers bothers to note that African-Americans came to the Fillmore in large numbers only because the previous Japanese-American residents were forcibly evacuated to internment camps during World War II. Incidentally, it was liberal President Franklin D. Roosevelt and liberal Governor (and subsequently Chief Justice) Earl Warren who were responsible for this non-lethal ethnic cleansing. The forced evacuation handed the neighborhood by default to black immigrants from the South who flocked to San Francisco to contribute to the war effort on the shipyards, docks, and other defense facilities.

In fact, prior to World War II, San Francisco had very few black residents (well under one percent). The relatively few blacks in the Bay Area were concentrated in West Oakland, a community that had its origin as the home of sleeping car porters who worked the transcontinental railways with their terminals in Oakland. In those days of overt racism, sleeping car porters were among the best-paid blacks in the country.

Nobody tried to "protect" the Irish or Italians

There are plenty of other neighborhoods in San Francisco which have seen their ethnic character change over the past several decades. For example the Castro District, now famous as a gay neighborhood, was formerly inhabited predominantly by Irish Catholic families. I would be astonished if someone could point out to me articles in the New York Times or San Francisco Chronicle which sympathetically portrayed the plight of these families who watched the ethnic and cultural tone of their neighborhood radically transformed by affluent immigrants from elsewhere. I know of no initiatives on the part of the city of San Francisco to make itself congenial to Irish Americans, or which sought to "preserve" the Irish population. The same could be said of the city's Italian-American community.

What about Asians and Hispanics?

Another note entirely missing form the press coverage was any mention of those groups which are replacing the blacks who are moving out. It is no secret to anyone that Asians and Hispanics have been moving to the city (and to California and the United States) in large numbers. Just walk the streets or visit any of the city's famous restaurants. On what basis do city officials and the newspapers believe that these and other groups are less desirable residents than African-Americans? And why are municipal resources being spent to (by implication) discourage them from residing in the city so that blacks may instead live in the city's relatively finite housing stock?

Every group fondly remembers "the old neighborhood"

It is entirely a different matter to remember ethnic neighborhoods of the past nostalgically and recall the good times enjoyed at the churches, restaurants, barbershops, pubs, and other community gathering places. Every group does that when they have moved on. A major theme of The Sopranos, after all, was nostalgia for the old Italian-American enclave in Newark, a city now heavily African-American.

San Francisco, for all its political foibles, is city whose housing stock is in high demand thanks to views, climate, and a dynamic economy that has seen wave after wave of new firms formed to exploit cutting edge business opportunities, attracting wave after wave of newcomers to staff them. In the past, the market mechanism has sufficed to allocate the housing to those who wish to live there. One of my children is making a considerable financial sacrifice in order to live in a small apartment in the city, rather than in more spacious and less expensive accommodations elsewhere. Life is full of such tradeoffs, and I see no reason why African-Americans should be presumed less capable of making these tradeoffs for themselves than anyone else. Evidently city officials see it otherwise.

A city government entering the business of racially engineering of its population is repellant.The liberal journalists who fan this sort of racism ought to be ashamed of themselves. And the city officials who proclaim their preference for residents of one racial group over others ought to be challenged to justify their racism

Australia's Howard attacks religious `insults'

John Howard last night condemned two entries in the nation's top religious art competition, labelling them "gratuitously offensive" to Christians. A statue of the Virgin Mary shrouded by a Muslim burqa and a holographic image of terrorist Osama bin Laden that morphs into Jesus Christ submitted for the Blake Prize have drawn a furious response from politicians and church leaders.

Yesterday, Mr Howard said the pieces were insulting and lacked any artistic merit. "The choice of such artwork is gratuitously offensive to the religious beliefs of many Australians," Mr Howard said. He was backed by New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma who said the inclusion of the artworks was extremely questionable. "I haven't seen either of these pieces but from what has been described to me, it's a pity they were not stolen instead of the Dutch masterpiece," Mr Iemma said, referring to the recent theft of a painting from the Art Gallery of NSW.

Last night, the Uniting Church minister who chairs the Blake Society defended the pieces. The Reverend Rod Pattenden, who awarded the $15,000 prize to the competition winner in Sydney yesterday, said his mission was to spark debate about spirituality in a world that was "cynical, degraded and in crisis". Mr Pattenden said he did not expect controversy to result from the exhibition at the National Art School Gallery "because the Christian community doesn't look at art a great deal".

Artist Luke Sullivan's entry, The fourth street of Fatima,which is on display at the gallery in Darlinghurst in Sydney, is a statue of the Virgin Mary with a rosary and a burqa - for many, a potent symbol of female oppression. Priscilla Joyce Bracks' Bearded Orientals, Making the Empire Cross is a lenticular image in which the viewer can flip between portraits of Jesus and bin Laden by shifting slightly from side to side.

Mr Pattenden said the Virgin statue embodied "iconic representations of two different religious traditions". "He (the artist) is making a comment about gender in a religion dominated by men," Mr Pattenden said. "I find it unsettling and unfamiliar and I think that's always an opportunity for new insight." As for Bracks' double image of Christ and bin Laden, Mr Pattenden said the artist was questioning "the idea that you can have absolute good and absolute evil. Life's a bit more complicated than that".

The Australian Christian Lobby said placing Jesus in the same artwork as Osama bin Laden was "a big mistake". "Jesus brought a message of love and forgiveness that has nothing to do with terrorism," spokeswoman Glynis Quinlan said.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


30 August, 2007

King Tut Exhibit Prompts Debate on His Skin Color

Egyptian frescoes all show a clear color distinction between Egyptians and the Nubians ("Africans") to their south. There is no reason to think that the Egyptians had anything but the off-white skin color still normally found among Mediterranean people -- including other North African people in modern Libya, Algeria, etc. North Africa has always been racially different from the rest of Africa

The King Tut exhibition has drawn millions of visitors to museums across the country since it opened two years ago. But some African-American scholars believe the exhibition makes King Tut look too white. The debate over Tut's race led the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia, where the show is on display, to sponsor a conference on the subject.

The show, Tutankhamen and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs has drawn a steady stream of protesters since it opened in Los Angeles. But nowhere have they been as persistent or vocal as in Philadelphia. More than 500 people showed up to hear scholars discuss Tut's race at the Franklin Institute. The auditorium couldn't hold them all, so the museum had to set up big-screen TVs in the lobby. The three speakers said the exhibition on display upstairs gives the false impression that King Tut was white. And worse, says Temple University professor Molefi Asante, it implies that Egypt is not a part of Africa. "We asked the students as they were coming out of the museum, you've seen the exhibition of King Tut, 'Where is he from?'" Asante said. "You would discover that people can see the exhibition of Tutankhamen, and come out and not know that they have seen Africa."

A forensic reconstruction of Tut's head and shoulders at the Franklin Institute exhibit is remarkably lifelike, until you get right up close to it. On the side of the glass case, there is a disclaimer that reads, "The features of [Tutankhamen's] face are based on scientific data. But the exact color of his skin and the size and shape of many facial details cannot be determined with full certainty." "Our best guess is that he was neither lily white nor ebony black. He was probably somewhere in between," said Nina Jablonski, author of Skin: A Natural History.

Jablonski teaches anthropology at Penn State University. She also served as an advisor to the team from the National Geographic Society that produced the forensic reconstruction of King Tut that's currently on display. Jablonski points out that it's only a working hypothesis. Scientists have not been able to retrieve much DNA evidence from Tut or other mummies. But they do have a good idea of who lived in Egypt 3,000 years ago - and she says they probably looked a lot like Egyptians today. "Modern Egyptians are a very heterogeneous group," Jablonski said. "Some of them have very Arabic features. Others of them have very African or so-called Nubian features. This is because the Nile River itself was a tremendous byway for movement of people in the past and present."

Jablonski says Tut's skin probably looked like a mixture of those people, only lighter, because the Boy King would have spent most of his time inside, protected from the sun. The speakers at the Franklin Institute rejected that hypothesis. In fact, they seemed to enjoy making fun of it. "Okay, now let's look what this really is about. This is shocking. See if you recognize the person on the right," said activist Maulana Karenga, who remain best known as the founder of Kwanzaa. He got a big laugh by comparing the reconstructed image of King Tut with a picture of a young Barbara Streisand.

The panelists believe the Egyptians of Tut's time had, for the most part, very dark skin, like people from sub-Saharan Africa. Charles Finch is the director of International Health at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. "Whenever ancient writers, Hebrew or Greek, make any reference to ancient Egyptians' color, it's always black," Finch said. "There was no issue back then. There was no discussion. There was no debate. It only became a debate in the last 200 years." For example, Greek historian Herodotus wrote in the fifth century BC that the Egyptians were "dark-skinned and woolly-haired."

But as anthropologist Nina Jablonski points out, it's hard to say exactly what ancient historians meant when they described the skin they saw as "dark." And she says much of the archeological evidence points to a different conclusion. "When we look at the representation of the Egyptian royalty on the walls of tombs, we see a range of sort of moderate, tan-colored skin on the royalty," Jablonski said. "This probably is a fairly close approximation of what skin color these people actually had." Jablonski speaks with the patience of someone who has answered this question many times before, and expects to keep answering it until more definitive evidence comes along. That's why she hopes the King Tut exhibition will inspire students to become interested in reconstructing the past. That could let the students, Jablonski says, "make a better stab at this in 20 or 25 years' time." Until then, we'll have to make do with an educated guess.


Towards an age of abundance

Ignore the critics of economic growth who claim that prosperity makes us unhappy. We need to win the war against scarcity once and for all, so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of longer, healthier and wealthier lives

Imagine an egalitarian world in which all food is organic and local, the air is free of industrial pollution, and vigorous physical exertion is guaranteed. Sound idyllic? But hold on. Life expectancy is 30 at most; many children die at or soon after birth; life is constantly lived on the edge of starvation; there are no doctors or dentists or modern toilets. If it is egalitarian it is because everyone is dirt poor, and there is no industrial pollution because there are no factories. Food is organic because there are no pesticides or high technology farming methods. As a result, producing food means long hours of back-breaking physical work which may end up yielding little.

There is - or at least was - such a place. It is called the past. And few of us, it seems, recognise the enormous benefits to humanity of escaping from it. On the contrary, there is a pervasive culture of complaint about the perils of affluence and a common tendency to romanticise the simple life.

From the 1790s onwards, in the aftermath of the French Revolution, the prospect of a world without scarcity seemed like a realistic possibility (1). Humans strove for a day when they could have a guaranteed food supply at all times. It should be remembered that the famous clause in Christianity's Lord's Prayer - `give us this day our daily bread' - was meant literally. Our ancestors struggled for a world where we could take abundant food, clean water and adequate shelter for granted. Not only have we achieved these goals, at least in the developed world, but modern technology and economic organisation have improved our lives hugely.

Yet in the midst of contemporary abundance, there are vocal criticisms. The gains of modernity are under attack. Cheap food, one of the great achievements of humanity, is frequently derided as a curse rather than a blessing. Our houses are said to be too large. Cars and aeroplanes are seen as both destroying the planet and wrecking communities. Although we travel more than ever before, the local is being exalted at the expense of wider horizons.

Of course most people get on with their lives and enjoy the benefits of affluence. They eat plentiful food, travel abroad for their holidays and go to the doctor if they become ill. But the pervasive cynicism towards popular prosperity still has a negative effect. It makes it harder to enjoy or make the most of what we have got. It is also a barrier against making things better still. In this context, it is important to remember that there are still many billions of people in the world who live in poor countries. And yet the prospect of everyone having access to the best the world has to offer is commonly seen as an environmental nightmare rather than a worthwhile goal.

Attacking prosperity

Deep Economy is one of the most articulate recent assaults on popular prosperity. Bill McKibben, an environmental writer and campaigner based in the American state of Vermont, follows a pattern typical of such works. He grudgingly admits that mass affluence has advantages. For example, he concedes that we are richer and healthier than a few hundred years ago. Then he introduces numerous caveats to call the benefits of prosperity into question. This is an outlook I have previously described as `growth scepticism', as it represents an indirect attack on growth rather than an overt rejection of its benefits (2). ....

McKibben's arguments on happiness draw heavily on the work of Richard Layard, a professor of economics at the London School of Economics. Layard has observed, like others before him, that beyond a certain threshold, economic growth does not seem to generate more happiness (5). McKibben also emphasises Layard's arguments on how economic growth can destroy communities. Deep Economy places great importance on the need to promote local communities for everything from food to entertainment.

There are numerous reasons to object to the happiness agenda. For a start, economic growth should be advocated for its objective benefits. It has given us the ability to lead longer and more prosperous lives. It gives us more leisure time. It is a key factor in the development of science and culture. The question of individual happiness is a separate one.

It is also questionable that, as Layard has advocated, happiness should be a goal of public policy. There are plenty of things that are worthwhile but do not necessarily make people happy: bringing up a family, learning a foreign language, excelling at sport or producing great art, to name a few. Although those involved in such activities may experience brief moments of elation, these are far from guaranteed. And for much of the time, what they experience is likely to be hard work and sometimes even misery or physical pain. But this does not mean that such goals are not worth striving to achieve. On the contrary, the contemporary obsession with individual happiness has a narcissistic edge.

Perhaps worst of all is McKibben's emphasis on local communities. Although this is presented as somehow humanistic, it is the very opposite. It means downgrading our common humanity in favour of privileging those who happen to live close by. In practice it seems to mean favouring such things as farmers' markets and community radio stations over supermarkets and the global media. It also means condemning Wal-Mart for exporting `American jobs' abroad (6). McKibben's vision of a healthy community is primarily one that consumes goods and services that are produced locally. It is a depressingly parochial vision for the twenty-first century.

Haves and have-nots

Although McKibben pays little attention to the discussion of inequality, it is the main focus of Falling Behind. Robert H Frank, a professor of economics at Cornell University in New York state, has developed a sophisticated attack on economic growth in relation to inequality. Frank's argument is built on the distinction between positional goods and non-positional goods first made by Fred Hirsch, a British economist, in the 1970s (7). Positional goods are ones whose consumption strongly signal someone's rank in the wealth hierarchy - for example, the size of their house, the quality of their suits or the fanciness of their wristwatches. Non-positional goods are those that are weakly associated with social rank, such as time spent on vacation.

"Frank proposes a consumption tax to deter individuals from spending too much money"

The drive for economic growth, in Frank's view, unleashes an unhealthy Darwinian battle for positional goods. There are `positional arms races' in which people strive for ever-larger houses, ever-more expensive suits and ever-fancier watches. Not only does such competition yield little or any benefit, it also diverts resources from non-positional goods. People work longer hours and get into debt so that they can afford luxury items they do not really need. The effect of such positional arms races is made even worse by the steadily rising inequality in American society.

There are two main ways to respond to Frank's arguments. One is to show, empirically, that despite a trend towards widening inequality, Americans are generally getting better off as a result of economic growth. For example, Stephen Rose, a respected labour economist, has argued that most Americans have benefited from productivity growth in recent years (8). And Brink Lindsey (who will be discussed later in this review) has argued that even poor Americans are in many respects better off than the average American in 1971 (9). There are also debates to be had about whether American working hours have increased in recent years, and whether household debt levels really are excessive.

A more fundamental objection to Frank is to the character of his reaction to inequality. It is clear that, to a greater or lesser extent, capitalist societies tend to be unequal. But the response to that quandary should surely be to demand more rather than less. Everyone should have the resources to have a large house and, if they so wish, expensive suits and elaborate watches.

Indeed, for all of Frank's apparently intricate theory, his proposed solutions are strikingly mundane. He proposes a consumption tax to deter individuals from spending too much of their income on positional goods. And he favours voluntary simplicity in which people forsake some luxury goods for the sake of an emotionally richer life....

Towards the `realm of freedom'

The Age of Abundance is by far the most interesting of this crop of books on the growth-sceptic theme. Brink Lindsey, vice president for research at the Cato Institute think tank in Washington DC, is broadly in favour of affluence. His aim is to examine how what he sees as the advent of a post-scarcity society in America since the 1950s has affected politics and culture.

Lindsey's starting point, with deliberate irony, is Karl Marx's distinction between the `realm of necessity' and the `realm of freedom'. In the first, humanity lives under the tyranny of scarcity, while the second refers to a post-scarcity society. Although the terms were seldom used by Marx, he was certainly an ardent believer in the need for humanity to overcome scarcity (11).

Lindsey argues that America became a post-scarcity society in the 1950s. Only it achieved this objective not through socialist revolution, as Marx had predicted, but through capitalist development. As a result, says Lindsey, the class struggle is over. For Lindsey the historic victory over scarcity unleashed tremendous changes in American society, which he sees as, on balance, positive. Whether Lindsey is right to characterise America as `post-scarcity' is debatable. But it has certainly achieved levels of prosperity that previous generations would have found hard to imagine.

In the political sphere, The Age of Abundance argues that the newfound prosperity unleashed the civil rights movement, the sexual revolution, environmentalism, feminism and gay rights. The victory over scarcity made it easier for people to focus on these issues rather than everyday survival. Lindsey broadly favours this shift in values, although he argues it sometimes goes too far in undermining necessary restraints. If taken to an excessive extent, he argues, it can undermine families, encourage crime, promote drug-use and create welfare dependence. However, he also opposes the evangelical right, which he sees as too zealous in its opposition to libertarian freedoms.

In the economic sphere he welcomes the rise of market economics. He sees the demise in the 1970s of the cosy relationship between big government, big labour and big business as a triumph. Lindsey welcomes America's deregulated, globalised and computerised economy.

"Marx was an ardent believer in the need for humanity to overcome scarcity"

Overall, Lindsey sees himself as close to the mainstream of middle America. He rejects the excesses of those involved in the `Culture Wars' and welcomes the new tolerance of freedom and of the market. For him the gains are in large part the result of the transition from a scarcity society to an age of abundance. The most valuable element of Lindsey's argument is his reminder that the shift away from scarcity has a substantial impact on society. His characterisation of an `age of abundance' may be an exaggeration, but it is true that few Americans live on the edge of existence. Under such circumstances, it is hardly surprising that many human preoccupations are different from those in the past. Yet many social commentators, with their bleak view of the present and romantic view of the past, miss this simple fact.

A post-scarcity society?

Lindsey goes too far in attributing important social shifts to economic factors. For example, broader social forces were eroding the appeal of traditional conservative thought long before the counterculture of the 1960s. The experience of the Second World War, and the Holocaust in particular, discredited the politics of race and empire that was widespread until then (12). It became virtually impossible for conservatives to uphold a belief in racial superiority. The rise of several of the social movements that Lindsey refers to, such as environmentalism and feminism, should also be related to the demise of the left.

In contrast, the ideological victory of market economics came about in the late 1970s and 1980s. The defeat of the left and the subsequent end of the Cold War discredited socialist alternatives. It seemed that there was no alternative to the market - the only debate worth having was between different forms of market system. It is true that the unexpected resilience of capitalism played a role in the historic defeat of the left. But there were other factors involved in the battle between right and left. Certainly in America, to the extent that there was a `left', by the 1970s it had largely become identified with big government and discredited unions.

It is therefore insufficient to characterise America as a post-scarcity society. American politics is shaped by the defeat of the right on social issues and the defeat of the left on the economy. As a result, there is a peculiar amalgam among the mass of the population of broadly liberal social attitudes with a pro-market take on the economy.

It is a pity that Lindsey does not take the growth sceptics head on. The likes of Bill McKibben and Professor Robert Frank would probably accept the characterisation of America as a post-scarcity society. Only for them the erosion of scarcity has substantial costs as well as benefits. It is time to launch a counter-attack against the critics of popular prosperity. The forms that growth takes in a market economy may be far from perfect, but there are enormous advantages to prosperity. It has the potential to make our lives longer, healthier and more fulfilling. It can help promote the development of culture, science and technology. And it can allow us to overcome parochial divisions to make the world less local and more global. We should be looking forward to a true age of abundance rather than romanticising a world in which we felt we had to pray for our daily bread.


Why I'm fleeing South Africa

By Anne Paton (widow of Alan Paton)

I am leaving South Africa . I have lived here for 35 years, and I shall leave with anguish. My home and my friends are here, but I am terrified. I know I shall be in trouble for saying so, because I am the widow of Alan Paton. Fifty years ago he wrote Cry, The Beloved Country. He was an unknown schoolmaster and it was his first book, but it became a bestseller overnight. It was eventually translated into more than 20 languages and became a set book in schools all over the world. It has sold more than 15 million copies and still sells 100,000 copies a year. As a result of the startling success of this book, my husband became famous for his impassioned speeches and writings, which brought to the notice of the world the suffering of the black man under apartheid. He campaigned for Nelson Mandela's release from prison and he worked all his life for black majority rule. He was incredibly hopeful about the new South Africa that would follow the end of apartheid, but he died in 1988, aged 85. I was so sorry he did not witness the euphoria and love at the time of the election in 1994. But I am glad he is not alive now. He would have been so distressed to see what has happened to his beloved country.

I love this country with a passion, but I cannot live here any more. I can no longer live slung about with panic buttons and gear locks. I am tired of driving with my car windows closed and the doors locked, tired of being afraid of stopping at red lights. I am tired of being constantly on the alert, having that sudden frisson of fear at the sight of a shadow by the gate, of a group of youths approaching - although nine times out of 10 they are innocent of harmful intent. Such is the suspicion that dogs us all.

Among my friends and the friends of my friends, I know of nine people who have been murdered in the past four years. An old friend, an elderly lady, was raped and murdered by someone who broke into her home for no reason at all; another was shot at a garage. We have a saying, "Don't fire the gardener", because of the belief that it is so often an inside job - the gardener who comes back and does you in. All this may sound like paranoia, but it is not without reason. I have been hijacked, mugged and terrorised. A few years ago my car was taken from me at gunpoint. I was forced into the passenger seat. I sat there frozen. But just as one man jumped into the back and the other fumbled with the starter I opened the door and ran away. To this day I do not know how I did this. But I got away, still clutching my handbag.

On May I this year I was mugged in my home at three in the afternoon. I used to live in a community of big houses with big grounds in the countryside. It's s till beautiful and green, but the big houses have been knocked down and people have moved into fenced complexes like the one in which I now live. Mine is in the suburbs of Durban , but they're springing up everywhere. That afternoon I came home and omitted to close the security door. I went upstairs to lie down. After a while I thought I'd heard a noise, perhaps a bird or something. Without a qualm I got up and went to the landing; outside was a man. I screamed and two other men appeared. I was seized by the throat and almost throttled; I could feel myself losing consciousness. My mouth was bound with Sellotape and I was threatened with my own knife (Girl Guide issue from long ago) and told: "If you make a sound, you die." My hands were tied tightly behind my back and I was thrown into the guest room and the door was shut. They took all the electronic equipment they could find, except the computer. They also, of course, took the car. A few weeks later my new car was locked up in my fenced carport when I was woken by its alarm in the early hours of the morning. The thieves had removed the radio, having cut through the padlocks in order to bypass the electric control on the gates.

The last straw came a few weeks ago, shortly before my 71st birthday. I returned home in the middle of the afternoon and walked into my sitting room. Outside the window two men were breaking in. I retreated to the hall and pressed the panic alarm. This time I had shut the front door on entering. By now I had become more cautious. Yet one of the men ran around the house, jumped over the fence and tried to batter down the front door. Meanwhile, his accomplice was breaking my sitting-room window with a hammer. This took place while the sirens were shrieking, which was the frightening part. They kept coming, in broad daylight, while the alarm was going. They knew that there had to be a time lag of a few minutes before help arrived - enough time to dash off with the television and video recorder. In fact, the front-door assailant was caught and taken off to the cells.

Recently I telephoned to ask the magistrate when I would be called as a witness. She told me she had let him off for lack of evidence. She said that banging on my door was not an offence, and how could I prove that his intent was hostile? I have been careless in the past - razor wire and electric gates give one a feeling of security. Or at least, they did. But I am careless no longer. No fence - be it electric or not - no wall, no razor wire is really a deterrent to the determined intruder. Now my alarm is on all the time and my panic button hung round my neck. While some people say I have been unlucky, others say: "You are lucky not to have been raped or murdered." What kind of a society is this where one is considered "lucky" not to have been raped or murdered - yet?

A character in Cry, The Beloved Country says: "I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving they will find we are turned to hating." And so it has come to pass. There is now more racial tension in this country than I have ever known. But it is not just about black-on-white crime. It is about general lawlessness. Black people suffer more than the whites. They do not have access to private security firms, and there are no pol ice stations near them in the townships and rural areas. They are the victims of most of the hijackings, rapes and murders. They cannot run away like the whites, who are streaming out of this country in their thousands.

President Mandela has referred to us who leave as "cowards" and says the country can do without us. So be it. But it takes a great deal of courage to uproot and start again. We are leaving because crime is rampaging through the land. The evils that beset this country now are blamed on the legacy of apartheid. One of the worst legacies of that time is that of the Bantu Education Act, which deliberately gave black people an inferior education.

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that criminals know that their chances of being caught are negligible; and if they are caught they will be free almost at once. So what is t he answer? The government needs to get its priorities right. We need a powerful, well-trained and well-equipped police force.

Recently there was a robbery at a shopping centre in the afternoon. A call to the police station elicited the reply: "We have no transport." "Just walk then," said the caller; the police station is about a two-minute sprint from the shop in question. "We have no transport," came the reply again. Nobody arrived.

There is a quote from my husband's book: "Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a moun tain or a valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much." What has changed in half a century? A lot of people who were convinced that everything would be all right are disillusioned, though they don't want to admit it.

The government has many excellent schemes for improving the lot of the black man, who has been disadvantaged for so long. A great deal of money is spent in this direction. However, nothing can succeed while people live in such fear. Last week, about 10km from my home, an old couple were taken out and murdered in the garden. The wife had only one leg and was in a wheelchair. Yet they were stabbed and strangled - for very little money. They were the second old couple to be killed last week. It goes on and on, all the time; we have become a killing society. As I prepare to return to England , a young man asked me the other day, in all innocence, if things were more peaceful there. "You see," he said, "I know of no other way of life than this. I cannot imagine anything different." What a tragic statement on the beloved country today. "Because the white man has power, we too want power," says Msimangu.

"But when a black man gets power, when he gets money, he is a great man if he is not corrupted. I have seen it often. He seeks power and money to put right what is wrong, and when he gets them, why, he enjoys the power and the money. Now he can gratify his lusts, now he can arrange ways to get white man's liquor. I see only one hope for our country, and that is when white men and black men, desiring neither power nor money, but desiring only the good of their country, come together to work for it. I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving, they will find we are turned to hating."

Source. That was written in 1998! There has been no change for the better since


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


29 August, 2007


MPs and Jewish leaders have condemned a high-profile British charity which has unveiled plans for a world-wide anti-Israel boycott. A document, described as a guide for boycott, divestment and sanctions, appears on the War on Want website, and as a booklet, laying out a strategy for those planning sanctions against the Jewish state. MPs have called on the Charity Commission to investigate the publication, described as a handbook of hate by Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Jeremy Newmark.

It suggests that the boycott movement needs to gain greater popular support in order to grow into a truly global movement. Comparisons are drawn between sanctions against Israel and those imposed against apartheid-era South Africa. Investment in Israel should be presented to the public as investment in a system of occupation, injustice and apartheid, it says in the booklet, co-published with the Palestinian Stop the Wall organisation.

Lorna Fitzsimons, former Labour MP and chief executive of BICOM, the Britain-Israel Communications and Research Centre, said that to equate the Palestinians situation with the absolute powerlessness of black South Africans under the apartheid regime is at best misguided, and at worst an insult and a tragedy. Liverpool Riverside Labour MP Louise Ellman said the publication was very questionable for a charity. Ilford North Conservative MP Lee Scott found it disgraceful. I'm going to ask the Charity Commission to look into it.

Labour peer Lord Janner suggested that if the charity wanted to attack anyone they should concentrate on the non-democracies of this world. They seem to be existing on another planet.

Zionist Federation president Eric Moonman warned that those who thought that pressure for boycotts only came from academics and the unions have made a mistake. This is much more serious. It shows that well-meaning people are buying into the boycott too.

Despite the criticism, a War on Want spokesman told the JC: This [document] is produced with our partner organisation Stop the Wall. We helped fund it and we are happy to promote it. It was to be be followed up, by a more extensive study of boycott strategy to be published later this year.

A government spokesman said that War on Want had received government backing of 1.1 million pounds from the Department for International Development, but none of this was for projects in the Middle East.



A conference organized by the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute in Jerusalem last month dealt with anti-Israel attacks in the United States that constitute, according to organizers, a "long-term threat" to Israel's standing. Brandeis University President Jehuda Reinharz told Ha'aretz that American academics are at the forefront of those denying Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and admitted: "I see no combined effort to fight this by the Jewish organizations, and, in truth, I myself don't know how this could be done."

I doubt whether organizational efforts could stop anti-Israel attacks, but two incidents in the past few weeks have suggested for me a grassroots approach that, if pursued vigorously, might well slow down their growth. The approach calls for exercising honesty, moral assertiveness and personal indignation against attacks on Israel's legitimacy. The incidents I am talking about started with a rather routine scenario. In fact, it has probably happened to you so many times that it did not leave a memorable mark.

Like many of us, I am on the e-mail lists of friends and colleagues who occasionally call my attention to an article worth reading. So it was that on one of these bright California mornings, I received a message from a colleague with an article and a comment: "Palestinians, with all their suffering under the Israeli apartheid regime, have never been Holocaust deniers."

It is, by today's standards, a rather commonplace remark -- one that could have been written by any of my friends from the far left or the Muslim community. I would normally either brush it off with a head shake: "There he goes again, the same old rhetoric," or start an argument on whether the comparison to apartheid South Africa is appropriate.

I do not exactly know what it was that morning that compelled me to do neither of the two but resort, instead, to what I normally refuse to do -- take offense. It may have been the recent vote in the U.N. Human Rights Commission, calling for a ban on "religious insults" or it may have been the latest press blitz on the moral ills of Islamophobia.

Whatever the cause, somehow an invisible force jolted me into writing my colleague thus: "The word 'apartheid' is offensive to me. In fact, it is very, very offensive. And, since I am not situated on the extreme end of the political spectrum, I venture to suspect that there are others on your e-mail list who were offended by it and who may wish to tell you that this word is not conducive to peace and understanding. It conveys anger, carelessness and a desire to hurt and defame. Hence, it shuts off the ears of the very people you are attempting to reach."

After a short exchange of polite messages, in which my colleague explained that, echoing his idols, President Jimmy Carter and journalist Amira Haas, he used this word not to offend but to evoke a sense of justice among his Jewish friends, I realized that I handled it correctly. I realized that taking offense is a statement of conscience that shifts attention from the accused to the legitimacy of the accusation. It calls into question the accuser's choice of words, his assumptions, his worldview, as well as his intentions, and, thus, turns the accuser into a defendant, at least for a short moment of reflection.

For a split second, I even ventured to imagine how powerful it could be if each one of us were to implant a moment of reflection into the mind of an anti-Israel colleague, but I soon forgot about the incident, and I received no further messages from this colleague. Evidently, he had either deleted my name from his mailing list or had taken note of our exchange and become more conscientious of what he sent and to whom.

A few weeks later, a similar incident occurred. This time, harsh anti-Zionist slurs were scattered throughout an essay authored by the sender -- a history professor at an American university. Essentially, the author blamed Zionism for being the evil force that drives Bernard Lewis' "anti-Muslim diatribes." Emboldened by my previous experience, I sat down and wrote this man -- let's call him Mahmoud -- a message, this time a little longer. I explained that I had found his contempt of Zionism deeply offensive and that given that I consider myself progressive and open-minded, others may share my feeling but were too polite to say so. "I hope," I said, "that as a writer who spends pages describing how offensive Orientalism and Islamophobia are to Muslims and Arabs, that you will be able to understand other people's sensitivities and accommodate them in the future."

I then went further and explained to Mahmoud that, for me, Zionism is the realization of a millennium-old belief in the right of the Jewish people to a national home in the birthplace of their history, a right that is no less sacred than that of the Palestinians or the Saudis. Additionally, I wrote, it pains me to see my hopes for peace being spat upon. Such hopes require that all sides accept a two-state arrangement as a historically just solution, and anti-Zionist rhetoric, by negating the legitimacy of this solution, acts as an oppressor of peace.

Mahmoud explained that he did not mean to delegitimize Zionism or the two-state solution. His portrayal of Lewis' Zionism as the mother of all evils was apparently triggered by a speech delivered at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in March of 2007, in which Lewis pitted Europe and Islam against each other, coupled with AEI (and Lewis') one-sided support of Israel. Personally, I have never understood why a one-sided support of Israel, which to me is tantamount to a one-sided support of a quest for coexistence, would be considered a crime, but this takes us away from our main story.

The point of my story is that, again, I felt invigorated by exercising an almost forgotten right -- the right to be offended. I also noticed that personal indignation has the magic power of shifting the frame of discourse from arguing Israel's policies to the very core of the Middle East conflict -- denying Israel's legitimacy -- an issue where Israel's case is strongest and where Israel's adversaries find themselves in an embarrassing and morally indefensible position.

More pointedly, I felt invigorated by practicing what I have been preaching for months: Religion has no monopoly on human sensitivity; Zionophobia is no less revolting than Islamophobia.

Here I have exercised my right to be offended not against abusers of my religious beliefs -- this I can stomach -- but in defense of a more pivotal part of my identity -- my people, our history, our collective memory and our collective aspirations -- in short, in defense of Zionism. Some claim that Zionism is not entitled to such defense, since "Zionism is a political movement, not a religion," or "Zionism is a recent phenomenon, a product of 19th century European nationalism."

These claimants know little about Jewish history or Jewish identity or how Jewish history and identity were shaped for centuries by the Zionist idea of the "return of the exiles." They certainly have not read the Mishna, or Nahum Sokolov's "History of Zionism (1600-1919)" or my grandfather's siddur (e.g., Veholichenu Kommemiut Leartsenu -- "and thou shall walk us in sovereignty to our country" [Birkat Hamazon]).

We tend to forget that the right for protection from religious insults emanates not from sanctity of religious beliefs but from empathetic concerns for all intellectual resources that shape one's identity. The Jewish experience in the 20th century proves that secular historical narratives can unleash unifying and identity-shaping forces far stronger than religious beliefs in deities, prophets, messengers or the afterlife. Israel, the focal point of these narratives, therefore deserves all the protection that human sensitivity can provide, and we are perfectly entitled to accord her this protection with the same ferocity that we fight religious defamation.

We, as Jews, have been grossly negligent in permitting the dehumanization of Israel to become socially acceptable in certain circles of society, especially on college campuses. Our silence, natural resilience to insults and general reluctance to confront colleagues and friends have contributed significantly to the Orwellianization of campus vocabulary and the legitimization of the unacceptable. Most of our assailants are even unaware of the shivers that go down our spines with utterances such as "apartheid Israeli regime" or "brutal Israeli occupation."

But if we take seriously the moral basis for our right to take offense and exercise that right broadly and consistently, a reverse process of de-Orwellianization will ensue. If instead of avoiding confrontation, swallowing our insults or letting ourselves be dragged into defensive arguments, we simply halt the conversation and assert with honesty and dignity, "Sorry, this is offensive to me," or "This is unacceptable," we will reclaim the respect that our adversaries plan to trample. History and decency have given us that right. If we act on it proudly and resolutely, the word will quickly come around that good company no longer accepts smearing Israel with apartheid or bashing Zionism as a crime.


Social acid has burnt the heart of Britain

Fifty years ago I was a schoolboy in a Liverpool suburb and a strong supporter of Everton like Rhys Jones. My parents were cautious and loving, but they had no qualms about letting me follow the team around the country. That a boy might be killed by a drive-by shooter as he was returning from his local soccer practice would have struck them as an episode in a Latin American coup rather than a possibility in their relatively tranquil lives.

Not unreasonably. In 1955, the anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer described this tranquillity in his book Exploring English Character: "When we think of our faults, we put first, and by a long way, any lapse from our standards of non-aggression, bad temper, nagging, swearing and the like. Public life is more gentle than that reported for any society of comparable size and industrial complexity."

Swearing? Yes, though omni-present in all-male milieus such as the Army, swearing didn't occur in mixed company. Class was irrelevant. My grandmother served behind the bar in a pub on Liverpool's Dock Road before and after the First World War. On only one occasion did someone swear in her presence. The miscreant was promptly taken aside by other dockers and given a talking-to. He returned and apologised.

Next week, I'll be making one of my regular trips from the United States to a different Britain. Like the Jamie Bulger murder of 14 years ago, also in a Liverpool suburb, the casual killing of Rhys Jones has driven home to the British the extent of their social decline - the rise of an underclass, the high rate of crime, especially violent crime, the vandalisation of public spaces, the spread of public drunkenness, and the coarsening of popular culture.

My returning American friends sugar-coat their vacations to me. They enthuse over the historic monuments, the superb theatre, the cathedral cities, the improvement in British cuisine, the precision of the Royal Horse Guards, Fortnum & Mason, and the kindness of almost everyone they met. Almost everyone? Yes, after a while, they admit sadly to the odd disappointment: the snide anti-American remarks directed at them, the warnings against crime near their hotel, the vomiting young people dominating the centres of every town at night. "Going to a West End play today is like going to Broadway in the 1970s," said one. "You thread your way past the same sleazy porn shops, over the same junkies, and past the same drunks, except that the swearing doesn't stop when the play starts."

It didn't happen overnight. Breaking down a strong culture of civic self-control takes time and several social acids. The first such acid was the cultural liberalism generally associated with the 1960s: the attempt to free people from irksome traditional moral customs and the laws that reflected them. Anthony Jay has recently described how the "media liberalism" of the BBC - an institution founded in part to promote social virtues and British institutions - increasingly undermined them all: from military valour to the monarchy.

Assuredly, this revolution had its worthwhile side, especially for the educated and prosperous. Britain today is a freer and more relaxed society with less supervision from maiden aunts and aldermen than in 1955. Combined with a welfare state that picked up the tab, however, cultural liberalism promoted social irresponsibility - more voluntary workless, more divorces, children with fewer opportunities because they live in homes without two parents, a growing underclass, a society that is cruder, more disordered, less gentle. Less neighbourly, too, because of the second social acid: the ethnic and religious diversity introduced by mass immigration.

You may be surprised to learn that "diversity", which is usually discussed as an undeniable social good, has any drawbacks. But Robert Puttnam, an American social scientist, has established from a major survey (and to his own distress) that ethnic diversity makes people less trustful of each other. Worse, people feel this distrust towards those from their own ethnic group as well as towards "the Other". Diversity, it transpires, is a recipe for bad neighbourliness.

This growing distrust might have been lessened, even overcome, by an effective policy of American-style "assimilation" - that is, getting everyone to think of themselves as "British first" and to embrace a common British history and culture. That policy worked well in the US until the 1970s. Instead government promoted the third acid: a "multiculturalism" that encourages minorities to retain their culture and identity. Thus, our rulers set out, eager and well-intentioned, to maximise the differences and therefore the tensions inherent in diversity.

America has so far avoided the worst effects of its own multiculturalism because it has a proud national identity. Most immigrants still want to become Americans as they once wished to become British. Except for the Thatcher years, however, the British establishment, from a blend of multiculturalism and Europeanism, drained all pride and meaning out of Britishness. No one, not even the Scots, wants to assimilate to a nullity.

The result is a fractured, distrustful and disorderly society. And because a diverse society lacks agreed values and standards, governments regulate the behaviour of all, including the law-abiding, to maintain social peace. Thus, we have far more officials supervising us than in the 1950s, but they are anti-smoking social workers and ethnic diversity officers rather than park wardens. The police have become little more than the paramilitary wing of The Guardian, sniffing out "racist" or "Islamophobic" attitudes rather than investigating serious crimes that have some "cultural" excuse. Society gradually becomes more governed and less self-governing.

Rebuilding a united democratic nation that governs itself with decency will be a difficult task. As Geoffrey Gorer pointed out in 1955, however, his gentle Britain had been sculpted by the Victorians from the recalcitrant marble of a brutalised society very much like today's Britain. It will take leaders in the Victorian mould to do it, though.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


28 August, 2007

Black racism again

If a group of whites had objected to a Chinese sculptor being used to portray an heroic white political figure, what would have been the reaction?

The selection of a Chinese sculptor to carve a three-story monument to Martin Luther King Jr. on the National Mall is raising questions about what part of his legacy should be celebrated.

King promoted peace and understanding among all people. His primary fight, however, was to win particular opportunities for blacks in the United States by juxtaposing the plight of an oppressed people against a message of freedom and democracy. A loose-knit but growing group of critics says a black artist - or at least an American - should have been chosen to create the King memorial between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials in the nation's capital. They have been joined by human rights advocates who say King would have abhorred the Chinese government's record on religious and civil liberty.

"They keep saying King was for everyone. I keep telling people, 'No, King wasn't for everyone. King was for fairness and justice,"' said Gilbert Young, a black painter from Atlanta who has started a Web site and a petition drive to try to change the project. "I believe that black artists have the right to interpret ourselves first," Young said. "If nobody steps up to the plate to do that, then certainly pass it along to someone else."

The memorial foundation directing the project seems surprised at the criticism. Ten of the 12 people on the committee that chose the sculptor, Lei Yixin, are black. Lei is working closely on the design with two black sculptors in the U.S., organizers said, and the overall project is being directed by a black-owned architecture firm. The foundation also points to King's preaching - in a quote that will be incorporated into the monument - that to achieve peace, humans must "transcend race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective." "The bottom line is Dr. King's message that we should judge a person not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character," said Harry Johnson, the foundation's president and chief executive. "In this situation, we're talking about the artistic character."

Lei, designated a master sculptor by the Chinese government, is one of nine artists in the field who are considered national treasures in China. He has carved monuments to many of the country's national figures, including Mao Zedong, father of communist China.


Britain in Meltdown.

As an Englishman I am dismayed, to put it lightly, at Britain's continuing meltdown. Our so called institutions are falling apart. The government is at best incompetent, the Anglian church ineffectual, and the poor old military-overstretched, undermanned and dangerously short of equipment. Ten years of `New Labour' under the malevolentcontrol of Blair and Brown has seen our public services wrecked, the pensions of millions of diligent workers destroyed, and society falling apart. Only this week we have seen an 11 year old boy gunned down in a British city, possibly by a 12 year old. How bad must things get before action is taken. The Judiciary have lost the plot, a serial child-molester just got a community rehabilitation order, murderers are given light sentences, and illegal immigrants who commit serious crimes have their `human rights' put before those of the victims. The Police spend half their time on paper work the other handing out speeding fines. Only when there is a `media' driven crime is there anything done. If someone breaks into house make them a cup of tea and offer them your wife, because thats all that is going to save you!

The spin of the Blair years has now been replaced by the arrogance of the `Stalinist' policies of Gordon Brown. The results will be the same just presented in a different way. Brown has had some good press coverage, coming from an acquiescent media, giving gravitas after Blair's `Hollywoodisation' of giving an interview. People are too quick to forget that almost all of Britains internal policies have been `controlled' by Brown for many years-'he who holds the purse strings etc'. Money has been thrown at the public services without any regard for cost control or accountability, unheard of in the private sector, with the resulting finantial carnage we see today.

The Military have had regiments cut, funding reduced (in comparison with other departments), and have been thrown to the lions in Iraq and Afghanistan by a government that has no understanding of how it works or what it needs. Not one single member of the government in the last 10 years has served in the military so what do you expect. Several were members of CND (The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) including Blair. They have an active dislike of all things military, but will use them if there is a good headline in it. See Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan. They send troops willy-nilly to all the worlds trouble spots (which I support) but with out the right equipment and ROE to win. Yet they will not touch Zimbabwe because of the Foreign Office's misplaced guilt over the Empire, and their love of all nutters everywhere.

The Church of England has been `neutered', by a succession of weak and ineffectual Archbishops of Canterbury. This is a political appointment and which Prime Minister is going to appoint someone who is going to stand up to them. Militant Islam is gaining support due to the governments refusal to act against the `Preachers of Hate'. People who do not accept British Law, prefering to impose Sharia on a subservient population, are using those same British Laws to protect themselves to the benefit of a growing number of dodgy lawyers.

As for the future: Well a Brown victory at the next election will bring more of the same. Worse still Silly Hilly in the White House will cause global chaos. A weak America will allow all those who are at odds with us to run riot. As long as they do not attack America directly they will be safe. Just remember that `lil Billy's idea of fighting the 'War on Terror' was to use his intern as a humidor. The 21st Century is going to be bloodier than the last.


Socialism kills

In a period of two weeks during August, more than 11,000 elderly French men and women died of heat stroke. It is important to note this is not nearly the scandal in France that it would be in America. In fact, upon hearing the news, French president Jacques Chirac decided to stay on vacation in Quebec, Canada. Why not? Because, in the words of British historian Paul Johnson, the French – like most Europeans, and like most left-thinking people anywhere – love ideas more than people. The average educated European can intelligently discuss Hegel or Matisse almost as well as the average educated American – who probably never heard of Hegel or Matisse – can discuss real estate or sports.

Europe has given the world Marxism, communism, fascism, Nazism, racism and socialism, all rotten ideas that have caused immeasurable human suffering. But for Europeans and their ideological twins on the American left and at universities, ideas are not judged by their ability to ameliorate human suffering or reduce evil, but by their complexity and apparent profundity. An idea is not good because it produces good – that's unromantic American pragmatism – it is good because it sounds good.

Eleven thousand unnecessary deaths occurred in France largely because socialism inevitably breeds hedonism, selfishness and callousness. As ironic as it may seem, but the fact is that socialism – i.e., cradle-to-grave state welfare – makes people worse.

First, the socialist mind loathes work. In France, the legal length of the work week is 35 hours. Working hard to make more money is an American value that is held in contempt by the Left. The New York Times recently featured an article describing the death of the Protestant work ethic in secular, socialist Europe and the thriving of that ethic in America – and that this explains the far greater productivity and affluence of America. The Judeo-Christian tradition values work; secularism doesn't. And as we all know from watching our children, people with a lot of time on their hands have character problems.

Second, socialism values equality more than liberty. The Norwegian government recently passed a law that the boards of its largest corporations must be half female. The California left – the Democratic Party – just passed a law that no employer may fire a male employee who wears women's clothing at work. Because the Left holds liberty (except sexual liberty) in lower esteem, Europe has raised a generation that does not value liberty nearly as much as Americans do (though we're getting there).

Third, socialism teaches you to avoid taking care of other people. The state will – why should you? If people in France and elsewhere in Europe take less care of their aging parents, it is because they are taught from childhood to allow others – i.e., the state – to take care of everybody. Just as we saw in America when the state stepped in to take care of women who had children without a husband, these women increasingly refused to marry and felt little compunction about having more babies out of wedlock. The bigger the government, the worse the people.

Fourth, as a result of this socialist mindset, people in socialist countries give little charity, while Americans give vast amounts (just as Americans in conservative states give more charity per capita than people in liberal ones).

Fifth, the larger the state, the more callous it becomes. Twentieth-century evil was made possible in large measure by the bureaucratic mentality – the type of person who is merely a cog in huge governmental machine, collectively all-powerful but individually powerless to do anything except take and execute orders. The bigger the state, the colder its heart. (It is also true that the bigger the corporation, the more callous its heart. But unlike the state, corporations have competition and have no police powers.)

As I wrote in a previous column, the future of the world is either European secular socialism, Islamic totalitarianism or the unique American combination of Judeo-Christian religiosity and political and economic liberty. Few Americans are attracted to the second possibility, but vast numbers look to Europe as a model. One hopes that the next time they do, they will note the 11,000 elderly dead in France. But don't bet on it.


Prospective Australian citizens must score 60pc in Aussie values

A PASS mark of 60 per cent will be enough to became an Australian under the citizenship test to be introduced later this year. The draft Citizenship Test Resource Book released yesterday by Immigration and Citizenship Minister Kevin Andrews contains little that is likely to frighten civil libertarians. To become a citizen, applicants will need to correctly answer 12 out of 20 questions in the test, expected to be introduced later this year after legislation has passed through parliament.

The booklet from which questions for the test will be drawn stresses cultural diversity, freedom of religion, a society governed by the rule of law and a nation of proud sports traditions. Sample questions contained in the 40-page book include: What is the floral emblem of Australia? and, In what year did Federation take place?

"It is important that people wishing to become Australian citizens demonstrate an understanding and commitment to Australia and our way of life," Mr Andrews said yesterday. "A citizenship test provides the means of ensuring that prospective citizens have such an understanding. "Before becoming a citizen it is reasonable to expect that a person will understand the core values that have helped to create a society that is stable yet dynamic, cohesive yet diverse. Respect for the free-thinking individual and the rule of law are the foundations of the Australian liberal democratic tradition."

The new test applies only to those seeking to become citizens, not those migrating and settling in Australia on permanent or provisional visas. Special arrangements will be made for those with low levels of literacy or with special needs.

In a section on freedom of religion, the booklet says: "Australia has secular government with no official or state religion. Religious laws have no legal status in Australia." It also tackles the concept of mateship, saying: "Australia has a strong tradition of mateship -- where people help and receive help from others voluntarily, especially in times of adversity. A mate can be a spouse, partner, brother, sister, daughter, son or friend. A mate can also be a total stranger."

In the section Introducing Australia, the guide describes Australia as a nation of immigrants and says the country's history has been built by the efforts of millions of immigrants from 200 countries. Migrants have added to the rich tapestry of Australia, the booklet says, and have become a vital part of our society.

The ANZAC legend is covered, and so is the vexing history of Aboriginal people and their treatment by European settlers. "There has been great debate about how many Aboriginals were killed in the frontier battles. Many more Aboriginals than settlers were killed," it says.

Intending citizens are warned that Australia is also a "sports-crazy" nation and that of all our sporting heroes Donald Bradman is the best-known. While Australian rules is the dominant style of football in four states -- Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania -- more recently soccer has started to attract a larger following among young people.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


27 August, 2007

Grunting, dimwit, male stereotypes alarm fathers

In a smart bar lissom, single women sip cocktails and contemplate potential mates. The prospects do not look good, however, for the men in the bar aren't men at all - they're pigs. This was the premise of a recent US advertisement for that nation's market-leader condom brand, Trojan. The punchline came when one pig trotted off to the gents, bought himself one of its products and was transformed back into Homo sapiens. Ads such as these have led to an increasingly strident protest at the way that men are portrayed in the media.

According to Paul Nathanson and Katharine Young, two authors at the heart of the movement, the advert exemplifies the growing phenomenon of misandry: hatred of men. They insist that misandry is now pervasive and that we should be every bit as alert to it as we are to misogyny. They argue that men are now routinely defined by a limited set of negative stereotypes: the man as fool, slob or irrelevance. And they contend that nowhere are these archetypes more apparent than in advertising.

But is it really of concern? "Ask women why they thought it was a problem when they were ridiculed," says Nathanson. "I don't think men and women are different in that respect. Do two wrongs make a right?" Left unchallenged, he says, these images take on the patina of truth that will seep into the minds of those who implement laws and develop policy.

One man making a stand is Glenn Sacks, an American journalist whose newsletter reaches 50,000 subscribers. In 2004 he was alerted to an ad for Verizon. It showed a father trying to help his daughter with her maths homework only to be humiliated by her and her mother. Sacks, who has a son and daughter, says: "The worst thing about it was not that it shows the man being an idiot, because we see that all the time, but seeing the man portrayed as an idiot in front of his daughter and ridiculed by her mother in front of his daughter." He says his campaign prompted 3,000 people to contact Verizon and the ad was pulled.

But what most concerns Sacks, Nathanson and Young is the potential impact on boys growing up surrounded by images that tell them there is no acceptable or dignified way to be a man. "If you just have a bunch of negative images, how are boys ever going to develop a positive image of themselves?" says Young.

Sacks is appalled by the Trojan advert, and concerned about the message it sends to boys such as his 14-year-old son. "A boy looking at that would think that men are just inferior, disgusting animals and have to change and jump through hoops in order to be as good as women." Like Nathanson, he doesn't believe that these stereotypes stay locked harmlessly inside the TV. After a sex education class at school, his son complained, "It's always the boys who are wrong; boys who are trying to put one over on the girls," - "and they get this drum beat," says Sacks. "They are just fed a steady diet of this."

More here

Destructive British Leftist "non judgmentalism" bears fruit

It is no exaggeration to say that today's children have been betrayed by today's adults. The killing of 11-year-old Rhys Jones in Liverpool is a direct consequence of a mass abdication of responsibility by the generations that should have been protecting him - and his murderer, too. I am not talking about Rhys's grieving mother and father, who are loving parents of the sort every child should have. I mean the agencies of state, from police officers and local authorities to those in Whitehall and Westminster who have turned their backs on adult obligations and discouraged the rest of us from taking them on.

Although we are the most spied-upon nation in Europe and although we have spent billions on social renewal schemes, we have reached a state in which children and teenagers in big cities live in terror of other children and teenagers and in despair of protection from adults. They carry knives because they are afraid. They are afraid on their way to and from school and they learn almost nothing when they get there, partly because adults don't protect them from bullying, thieving and disruption. Teachers have either lost or relinquished their authority and children can expect little or no guidance and protection from them, or from their parents, or from council care, or from the police.

Children know the police cannot protect them from gang leaders and that they would be daft to cooperate as witnesses. I know of two boys who were tortured by a young teenager to stop them giving evidence against him. For many young people in inner cities, there is no alternative to the comparative safety of gang life.

Since January eight young people have died in shootings - six in London, one in Manchester and now one in Liverpool. According to Home Office figures, the total number of young people aged between five and 16 who were murdered, one way or another, has gone down from 44 in 1995 to 20 in 2005-6 (and 40% of these were killed by a parent). However, overall gun killings went up from 49 in 2005-6 to 58 in 2006-7, which is a big leap.

Knife crime has gone up and knife owning is becoming common: 12 teenagers have been stabbed to death since the beginning of this year. The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College London found that between 22,000 and 57,000 young people could have been the victims of knife crime in 2004; without better official data it is impossible to know. It is clear that violent crime among those under 18 has risen for four consecutive years. And it is increasingly clear that, like mass illiteracy and innumeracy, this is at root due to an adult flight from responsibility - a loss of a sense of proper authority, replaced by a misguided pursuit of improper authority.

Take policing, the first, thin line of protection. I find it incredible to learn that there are known gangs in Croxteth, where Rhys was shot (as in Peckham, where Damilola Taylor was stabbed). If the police know of these gangs, why don't they control them with all possible severity? Why don't they watch them ceaselessly and remove the ringleaders with Asbos? Why don't they have police on the beat, as politicians keep promising? Of course they know of these gangs. Recognising the gravity of gang gun crime, Merseyside police set up a special unit called Matrix two years ago with 200 officers. Why aren't they patrolling the danger spots aggressively? If 200 officers are not enough, why aren't there more?

According to locals, the car park where Rhys died had become a meeting place for gangs, yet plans to have police there between 8pm and midnight were withdrawn last May. A camera was proposed for this coming October. It is depressing by comparison that a camera was already in place on a beach in Sussex to catch two girls exposing their breasts, and police were available to arrest and charge them, and accompany them to court last week (though the case was later dropped), while nobody from our busybody state was watching the known troublespot where Rhys died.

There was also police time and presence enough in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester, this month to arrest a boy who threw a sausage at a man in the street and to charge him with assault, for which he could stand trial at vast expense. A police culture that permits this is the culture of Nero - fiddling with cocktail sausages while the inner cities burn.

The police are not entirely to blame, however. It is not their fault that under politically correct micromanagement from Whitehall, policing has become pen pushing, forcing them off the beat. Alistair McWhirter, a former chief constable of Suffolk, recently made the well-known point that officers spend much of their time doing preposterous amounts of paperwork. A file for a simple assault case contained 128 pieces of paper and had been handled by more than 50 people before it got to court. Recording an arrest will take up at least a morning of an officer's time in paperwork. It was irresponsible enough to dream up such a time-wasting procedure; it has been almost criminally irresponsible, after several years of complaint, to continue with it. This is the betrayal of the Whitehall mandarins, who have insisted on this nonsense, in all public services, backed by government.

The failures of the police are only one part of a complex collection of social problems and if society is broken, the police can hardly be expected to fix it. What's needed is a passionate backlash against irresponsibility and irresponsible, misguided waste and the terrible state sector mentality that promotes both. It's this mentality that has produced teachers who can't or won't teach, school leavers who are unemployable, students who can't study, feckless parents, broken homes, police who are obsessed with things that don't matter, neighbours who dare not stand up to other people's children, jails overcrowded with the wrong people, idiotic state sector make-work, intrusive quangos imposing idiotic make-work and the divisive follies of multiculturalism and uncontrolled immigration. Until we begin to stand up against all these things, we can probably expect more senseless killings of children.


Halal meat for prisoners in Australia

What's happened to the advice: Don't do the crime if you can't do the time

ALL prisoners at Brisbane's Wolston Correctional Centre are being served halal meat - whether or not they are Muslim. Halal meat is blessed and slaughtered by a Muslim slaughterman and cooked and stored in accordance with religious laws. "Wolston prison provides all prisoners halal meat as it can be sourced at the same price as non-halal meat," a Corrective Services spokesman said. However, only about 10 of the prison's 570 inmates currently request a halal diet.

Last year a Muslim child-sex offender was awarded $2000 compensation because he was not given fresh halal meat while he was in prison. The Anti-Discrimination Tribunal found that the State Government had directly discriminated against Sharif Mahommed while he was in Wolston and Palen Creek correctional centres. The Government appealed against the decision, with Corrective Services Minister Judy Spence saying it could open the floodgates to prisoners requesting "all manner of special diets". The Government lost its appeal.

Special diets given to Queensland prisoners include vegetarian; no pork, ham or bacon; no seafood; Asian; diabetic; soft food; no mushroom; low fat; low salt; no salt; gluten-free; no curry; no pineapple; no lactose; high fibre; and vitamised.


Testing times for migrants to Australia

MIGRANTS will face a tough new citizenship test obliging them to endorse the values of mateship and the fair go, as well as learn the English language. For the first time, the Federal Government has laid out what it regards as the 10 essential Australian values every citizen must embrace.

A draft copy of the pamphlet Becoming an Australian Citizen, which will be given to all new citizenship applicants before their test, will be released by Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews and Prime Minister John Howard today. It describes Australia as a nation at ease with the world and itself, but lays down a firm obligation on aspiring citizens to respect the nation's core values.

Questions in the citizenship test will range from the types of official flag, the national flower and colours, to sporting heroes, national days, military achievements, convict history and the fate of Aborigines. Migrants can even be asked where the origin of the word Digger comes from, along with the well-known expressions such as Anzac and battler. Migrants will face a 20-question test drawn at random from a list of 200. They must correctly answer 60 per cent.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


26 August, 2007

CNN airs 'one of the most distorted programs' ever

Documentary compares Jews, Christians to Muslim terrorists

A CNN special series airing this week entitled "God's Warriors" - produced and anchored by the network's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour - is "one of the most grossly distorted programs" ever aired on mainstream American television, according to a media watchdog report.

"God's Warriors" takes up six prime-time hours on CNN this week, airing in three parts at 9 p.m. EST. It started Tuesday and concludes tonight. The first part of the series, "God's Jewish Warriors," compared Jewish and Christian "radicals" to Muslim supporters of suicide terror, presented anti-Israel commentators with no counterbalance, falsely labeled the West Bank as Palestinian land, and minimized Jewish rights to the Temple Mount - Judaism's holiest site, the critics said.

During Tuesday's program, Amanpour also conducted a friendly interview about Israel with former President Jimmy Carter, whose most recent book, "Palestine: Peace, not Apartheid," criticized the Jewish state's treatment of Palestinians. The book was slammed for a series of falsehoods and was widely labeled anti-Israeli by multiple media critics.

"[The CNN series] is false in its basic premise, established in the opening scene in which Jewish (and Christian) religious fervency is equated with that of Muslims heard endorsing 'martyrdom,' or suicide-murder. There is, of course, no counterpart among Jews and Christians to the violent jihadist Muslim campaigns under way across the globe," stated the report by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

Amanpour's CNN documentary "God's Warriors" describes itself as focusing on religious fundamentalism among Christians, Muslims and Jews. Tuesday's segment started off comparing "Jewish terrorists" to that of Muslims, specifically focusing on the few instances of violence or attempted violence by religiously motivated Jews against Muslims. It told the story of Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Israeli physician who killed 29 Arabs in the West Bank city of Hebron in 1994. Goldstein's actions were widely condemned by Israelis and worldwide Jewry. The organization he was a part of was outlawed in Israel.

States the CAMERA report: "While in reality Jewish 'terrorism' is virtually non-existent, the program magnifies at length the few instances of [Jewish] violence" comparing it to "violent jihadist Muslim campaigns" when indeed there is no such comparison "either in numbers of perpetrators engaged or in the magnitude of death and destruction wrought."

While discussing Islamic suicide attacks, Amanpour painted "martyrdom" as "quite noble." "To the West, martyrdom has a really bad connotation because of suicide bombers who call themselves martyrs," Amanpour stated. "Really, martyrdom is actually something that historically was quite noble, because it was about standing up and rejecting tyranny, rejecting injustice and rejecting oppression and, if necessary, dying for that."

Amanpour's feature moved on to interviews with critics of Israel without providing pro-Israeli voices. The feature repeatedly falsely referred to the West Bank as "Palestinian territory." "It is also Palestinian land. The West Bank - it's west of the Jordan River - was designated by the United Nations to be the largest part of an Arab state," stated Amanpour.

The West Bank contains some of Judaism's holiest sites and biblical Jewish cities, including Hebron, home to the oldest Jewish community in the world. The territory was recaptured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War after Jordan, which controlled the West Bank, ignored Israeli advice to stay out of the conflict. The U.N. labels the West Bank as "disputed," not Palestinian territory.

Several guests, including former Sen. Charles Percy and University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer, who co-authored Carter's book on Israel, state in Amanpour's documentary pro-Israel lobbies in Washington force American lawmakers to support Jewish expansion in the West Bank and promote causes contrary to U.S. interests. Carter is interviewed claiming no American politician could survive politically while calling for cuts in aid to Israel unless the Jewish state ceases expanding West Bank Jewish communities. "There's no way that a member of Congress would ever vote for that and hope to be re-elected," stated Carter.

Contradicting Carter's sentiments, CAMERA notes critics of Israel's West Bank policies have thrived politically, including Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd and Reps. James Trafficante, Dana Rohrabacher, Nick Smith, Fortney Pete Stark, Neil Abercrombie, David E. Bonior, John Conyers Jr, John D. Dingell, Earl F. Hilliard, Jesse L. Jackson Jr., Barbara Lee, Jim McDermott, George Miller, Jim Moran, David R. Obey, Ron Paul and Nick J. Rahall II, among others.

Amanpour suggests West Bank settlements are the cause of Arab anger. "The Jewish settlements have inflamed much of the Arab world," she says. Multiple guests describe West Bank settlements as being the cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But CAMERA points out multiple Arab wars and acts of violence were waged against Israel long before the settlements were first established in 1967. "The Arab world was just as anti-Israel (actually more so) before the settlements were built," stated the CAMERA report.

Amanpour claims all U.S. presidents since 1967, including Ronald Reagan, deemed Israeli settlements "illegal." But U.S. policy did not deem settlements illegal. Amanpour quoted Reagan as stating, "the United States will not support the use of any additional land for the purpose of settlements." But the documentary failed to produce the rest of Reagan's quotes, in which the late president stated West Bank settlements are not illegal. "As to the West Bank, I believe the settlements there - they're not illegal," stated Reagan.

Amanpour moves on to holy sites in Jerusalem, where she minimizes Jewish rights to the Temple Mount - Judaism's holiest site - and exaggerates Islamic claims, critics said. Muslims say the Mount it is their third holiest site. "It was from here [the Temple Mount], according to Muslim scripture, that the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven around the year 630. But Hebrew scripture puts the ancient Jewish Temple in the same location, destroyed by the Romans in the year 70."

The Quran doesn't once mention Jerusalem. Islamic tradition states Mohammed took a journey in a single night from "a sacred mosque" - believed to be in Mecca in southern Saudi Arabia - to "the farthest mosque" and from a rock there ascended to heaven. The farthest mosque later became associated with the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

The Jewish Temple is described throughout biblical sources as the center of religious Jewish worship. The Temple Mount compound has remained a focal point for Jewish services over the millennia. Prayers for a return to Jerusalem have been uttered by Jews since the Second Temple was destroyed, according to Jewish tradition. Jews worldwide pray facing toward the Western Wall, a portion of an outer courtyard of the Temple left intact. Amanpour interviews the Muslim Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who offers an Islamic perspective on the importance of the Temple Mount and Al Aqsa Mosque to Muslims, but no Jewish religious figure is presented to discuss the paramount religious importance of the Mount to Jews, noted CAMERA.

Amanpour's feature also claimed a visit to the Temple Mount by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2000 instigated the Palestinian intifada which began that year, even though multiple intifada planners and Palestinian leaders admitted the violence was pre-planned and that Sharon's visit was used as an excuse.

The intifada was launched after Arafat returned from U.S.-mediated peace talks at the Camp David presidential retreat during which the Palestinian leader turned down an Israeli offer of a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern sections of Jerusalem. "Whoever thinks the Intifada broke out because of the despised Sharon's visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque is wrong.This Intifada was planned in advance, ever since President Arafat's return from the Camp David negotiations," admitted Palestinian Communications Minister Imad Al-Faluji to an Egyptian daily newspaper. Arafat himself spoke of planning the intifada months before Sharon's visit, as did Marwan Barghouti, a jailed Palestinian parlaiment member and one of the chief architects of the intifada. Multiple senior terror leaders involved in intifada admitted during numerous WND interviews Sharon's visit to the Mount did not spark the intifada.

The CAMERA report concludes: "Whether wittingly or not, Amanpour's program, with its reliance on pejorative labeling, generalities, testimonials, and a stacked lineup of guests, is a perfect illustration of classical propaganda techniques. Unfortunately propaganda is the opposite of journalism, the profession Amanpour is supposed to practice."


Kids have a great experience: Killjoys whine

Weeks before the debut of Kid Nation - a reality show featuring 40 children on their own in the high desert of New Mexico - questions are being raised about possible child endangerment and neglect on the set.

When the show was filmed earlier this year in New Mexico, the state's Department of Labor tried to adhere to guidelines set by the Screen Actors Guild regarding children on film and television sets. The rules stipulate that children can work a limited number of hours and are to be schooled by a certified teacher on site.

But a state official says the department's inspectors were not allowed to visit the set. Carlos Castaneda, a spokesman for New Mexico's Department of Labor, says when his office got word that there was a production involving children working long hours, an inspector tried to visit the set three times. But the network, he says, maintained it was not a television production. "It was considered a summer camp by CBS," Castaneda says, even though the show's promotion trailer says the children are hauling water cleaning latrines, cooking meal and washing dishes. "That limited our authority and jurisdiction on some of the events that were taking place," Castaneda says.

By calling the production a summer camp and not paying the children wages the network argued it was exempt from the state's labor laws, he says. The New York Times has reported that, after the production wrapped, an anonymous letter was sent to various state officials alleging that there were a couple incidents in which children in the show required medical attention. In one, several children accidentally ingested bleach. A letter from a mother of one of the children backed up the complaints.

CBS turned down our request for an interview, but the network released a statement stating there were paramedics and a pediatrician on the set. "These kids were in good hands and under good care with procedures and safety structures that arguably rival or surpass any school or camp in the country," the statement says.

The 40 kids spent 40 days in what is billed as a New Mexico ghost town. In fact, it is a 10,000-acre, working cattle ranch and historic western movie set. Imogene Hughes, the ranch's 70-year-old owner, says she never heard of any problems on the set.

The children's parents signed an extensive release and waiver for the show's producers. Cindy Osbrink, a Los Angeles agent who has represented children in the industry for more than 14 years, says parents have to be the responsible party when turning their children over to the entertainment industry. "It's a business, so to think they had the children's best well being? I'm sure they did in their hearts, but it's not about your child. It's about the money. It's about making money and making a successful show," she says.


It must be the end of secularism

Secular liberalism stands helpless before a new century of religious wars, Columbia University Professor Mark Lilla concedes in "The politics of God", a despairing vision of the political future published in the August 19 New York Times Magazine. [1] It is one of those important statements, like the "end of history", that will repeat on us indefinitely, like a bad curry. It comprises most of the Times weekend magazine, presented with all the pomposity the newspaper can summon.

For the few of us who asked not how to avoid religious war, but rather how best to fight it, Lilla's essay provides double validation. Not only does he admit that the foundation has crumbled beneath the secular-liberal position but, even better, he lays bare the rank hypocrisy that infected this position from the beginning. Lilla does not love Reason; he merely hates Christianity. He is beaten, and knows he is beaten, but cannot bear to surrender to Western Christians; instead, he proposes to surrender to the Muslims, particularly to Professor Tariq Ramadan. If that sounds strange, it is not my fault. It is all there in black and white, as I will report below. But first, here is Lilla's de profundis:
For more than two centuries, from the American and French revolutions to the collapse of Soviet communism, world politics revolved around eminently political problems. War and revolution, class and social justice, race and national identity - these were the questions that divided us. Today, we have progressed to the point where our problems again resemble those of the 16th century, as we find ourselves entangled in conflicts over competing revelations, dogmatic purity and divine duty. We in the West are disturbed and confused. Though we have our own fundamentalists, we find it incomprehensible that theological ideas still stir up messianic passions, leaving societies in ruin. We had assumed this was no longer possible, that human beings had learned to separate religious questions from political ones, that fanaticism was dead. We were wrong.
That is well enough, and Exhibit 1 for the prosecution is the president of Iran, Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Lilla quotes his May 2006 letter to the US president at some length, eg, "Liberalism and Western-style democracy have not been able to help realize the ideals of humanity. Today, these two concepts have failed. Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the liberal democratic systems ... Whether we like it or not, the world is gravitating towards faith in the Almighty and justice, and the will of God will prevail over all things."

Yet by wink and nudge, Lilla conjures us to believe that the true problem is not resurgent fanaticism in the Muslim world at all, but rather the new ascendance of Christian faith in the West. He presents not a shred of evidence for this outlandish charge. The reader will peruse the essay in vain for a word of explanation concerning the origins of Muslim fanaticism. Instead, the entire content is devoted to presenting the history of a Christian fanaticism that does not exist, and has not existed for a century or more. It may be that Lilla, a follower of Leo Strauss, is trying his hand at what Strauss called esoteric writing - concealing a message for adept readers. Whatever the motive, his argument is inconsequential and silly. Fascism, communism, neo-orthodox Protestantism, Zionism - any movement that elicited passion and commitment - all are summoned to the prisoner's box to hear Lilla's bill of indictment.

The generation that survived World War I, he writes, "craved a more robust faith, based on a new revelation that would shake the foundations of the whole modern order. It was a thirst for redemption. Ever since the liberal theologians had revived the idea of biblical politics, the stage had been set for just this sort of development. When faith in redemption through bourgeois propriety and cultural accommodation withered after the Great War, the most daring thinkers of the day transformed it into hope for a messianic apocalypse - one that would again place the Jewish people, or the individual Christian believer, or the German nation, or the world proletariat in direct relation with the divine." Karl Barth, the anti-Nazi Swiss theologian, and the young Zionist Martin Buber are just as guilty as Marxists and Nazis.

Before all these dreadful people brought faith back into politics, Lilla avers, 17th-century British philosopher Thomas Hobbes had saved civilization from religious wars by changing the subject of political thought to tolerance and compromise:
Over the next few centuries, Western thinkers like John Locke, who adopted his approach, began to imagine a new kind of political order in which power would be limited, divided and widely shared; in which those in power at one moment would relinquish it peacefully at another, without fear of retribution; in which public law would govern relations among citizens and institutions; in which many different religions would be allowed to flourish, free from state interference; and in which individuals would have inalienable rights to protect them from government and their fellows. This liberal-democratic order is the only one we in the West recognize as legitimate today, and we owe it primarily to Hobbes. In order to escape the destructive passions of messianic faith, political theology centered on God was replaced by political philosophy centered on man. This was the Great Separation.
Precisely how Hobbes accomplished all of this is a mystery known only to political scientists who take themselves far too seriously. The masses, after all, did not rally in the public squares waving little books of quotations from Chairman Hobbes. Never mind that the United States, which defined the modern democratic state, was founded by radical Protestant refugees from Europe who set out to build a New Jerusalem, and that impassioned religious faith has characterized American discourse from its founding. Lilla desires us to believe that an elite of political scientists much like himself managed to re-engineer the social order during the 18th century, before those awful fanatics came back. He reminds one of the scientists on the flying island of Laputa in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, who wander with their noses in the air and must be hit on the nose with inflated pig's bladders to prevent them falling over the edge. And so we come to the first decade of the 21st century, Lilla argues, over which a terrible shadow lies: man's desire for redemption:
The idea of redemption is among the most powerful forces shaping human existence in all those societies touched by the biblical tradition. It has inspired people to endure suffering, overcome suffering and inflict suffering on others. It has offered hope and inspiration in times of darkness; it has also added to the darkness by arousing unrealistic expectations and justifying those who spill blood to satisfy them. All the biblical religions cultivate the idea of redemption, and all fear its power to inflame minds and deafen them to the voice of reason ... It was as if nothing had changed since the 17th century, when Thomas Hobbes first sat down to write his Leviathan.
Does Professor Lilla seriously believe that nothing has changed since the 17th century, when religious wars killed off half the population of central Europe? Christian America confronted the atheistic Soviet Union during the 1980s, and without a shot fired in anger, the Soviet Union collapsed. Where was the fanaticism, the rancor, the bloodlust on the part of the West? The greatest danger to central Europe today, which over the next century will suffer population declines comparable to those of the 17th century, is the absence of a notion of redemption. Secular Europe has lost its will to live and its desire to reproduce, a malady most prominent in the former communist countries where religious faith was most suppressed.

For that matter, where has Lilla uncovered a streak of religious fanaticism in the West? The previous pope did penance for the murder of the 15th-century Protestant rebel Jan Hus, and worshipped at the synagogue in Rome as well as the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Except for Northern Ireland, the Europeans long have ceased to quarrel about religious issues; in the US, the biblical religious always got along, more or less, and get along today better than they ever have. Toward what end does this messianic urge for redemption manifest itself, and what danger does it pose to the West? Again, there is not a line of argumentation, let alone a shred of evidence, to support the charge that man's desire for redemption has taken us to the brink of religious wars.

Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. The adept readers of Professor Lilla's essay, the diehards of liberal secularism, know that Christianity is the enemy, no matter how docile, peaceful, quiescent and non-threatening it might appear. Christianity is guilty until proven innocent; the peaceful intentions of all Christian denominations toward one another and to non-Christian religions merely disguise an irrepressible urge toward violence, in the perverse view of the Lilla-Putans.

Don't bother to try to liberalize Islam, Lilla intones: "A number of Muslim thinkers around the world have taken to promoting a 'liberal' Islam. What they mean is an Islam more adapted to the demands of modern life, kinder in its treatment of women and children, more tolerant of other faiths, more open to dissent. These are brave people who have often suffered for their efforts, in prison or exile, as did their predecessors in the 19th century, of which there were many. But now as then, their efforts have been swept away by deeper theological currents they cannot master and perhaps do not even understand."

The only hope lies in "renovators" rather than "liberalizers" on the Islamic side, Lilla concludes, such as Swiss Islamist Tariq Ramadan. Given the admitted bankruptcy of his position, it is to these Islamists that Lilla proposes to surrender the broken sword of secularism.

Regarding Ramadan's terrorist connections and totalitarian ideology, I summarized the principal issues in a June 12 essay (The faith that dare not speak its name). Lilla is not stupid; he knows that Ramadan and his co-thinkers offer a radically conservative version of Islam steeped in the doctrine of religious conquest.
Today, a few voices are calling for just this kind of renewal of Islamic political theology ... like the Swiss-born cleric and professor Tariq Ramadan ... whose writings show Western Muslims that their political theology, properly interpreted, offers guidance for living with confidence in their faith and gaining acceptance in what he calls an alien "abode". To read their works is to be reminded what a risky venture renewal is. It can invite believers to participate more fully and wisely in the political present, as the Protestant Reformation eventually did; it can also foster dreams of returning to a more primitive faith, through violence if necessary, as happened in the Wars of Religion.
In the full light of day and in recognition of this danger, Lilla nonetheless proposes that the grandson of the founder of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood is the last best hope for religious peace in the world:
Perhaps for this reason, Ramadan [has] become [an object] of intense and sometimes harsh scrutiny by Western intellectuals. We prefer speaking with the Islamic liberalizers because they share our language: they accept the intellectual presuppositions of the Great Separation and simply want maximum room given for religious and cultural expression. They do not practice political theology. But the prospects of enduring political change through renewal are probably much greater than through liberalization. By speaking from within the community of the faithful, renovators give believers compelling theological reasons for accepting new ways as authentic reinterpretations of the faith. Figures like ... Ramadan speak a strange tongue, even when promoting changes we find worthy; their reasons are not our reasons. But if we cannot expect mass conversion to the principles of the Great Separation - and we cannot - we had better learn to welcome transformations in Muslim political theology that ease co-existence. The best should not be the enemy of the good.
It is as if the High Priest of Reason had ascended its Temple to offer himself as a sacrifice to the Goat God. Professor Ramadan personifies everything that Lilla hates, and Lilla knows it. But Ramadan has one redeeming virtue. He is not a Christian. Lilla does not love Reason; he simply hates Christianity with all his heart, and will make alliance with whichever of her enemies might be available. Lilla's essay summarizes a book to be released this month. Don't bother.


The Imus Transgression: Taking a closer look

It was at once the most unnerving and most liberating moment I've had as a college professor. Near the end of a three-hour freshman writing class several years ago, the discussion veered towards the differences between American and British English, so I wrote the word "queue" on the blackboard - which none of the students recognized as an English synonym for "line." Next came "lift" for "elevator," then "bobby" for "policeman." I asked for more examples. One young woman, Renee, who'd spent a summer in London, called out "Bangers!" The class was amused to learn that the word meant "sausages" in England - especially since, in American hip-hop slang, "bangers" meant "gang members." I asked Renee if she knew any others.

She thought for a moment, then shouted: "Niggers!" There was an audible gasp from the class - a racially mixed group of 18 students. My heart raced. Renee, meanwhile, was glancing back and forth, still smiling, trying to figure out why a sudden hush had followed her remark. Finally, she turned to me and asked, "What?"

I managed, "Renee, we don't use that word here." "I know. We say 'underwear.'" Several seconds passed before I got it. "Oh, you mean knickers."

By the time I'd written the k-n-i-c-k on the blackboard, the students were roaring with laughter. As the black girl sitting beside Renee clued her in, Renee blushed beet red. "I'd never . . . I mean, I'd never . . . " That elicited even more laughter. I wound up ending the class ten minutes early because every time I tried to talk, the students began to crack up again.

I recall that moment now in relation to the Don Imus controversy. The disgraced radio talk show host, who lost his job last April when he referred to the Rutgers University women's basketball team as "nappy-headed ho's," has just reached a contract settlement with his former employer, CBS, reportedly for $20,000,000, and is currently negotiating with several stations to return to the airwaves. I've previously steered clear of the subject of Imus for three reasons: First, because the black community, about which I've written critically on many occasions, has far more serious problems than the wisecracking of a radio clown; second, because Imus is such a spectacularly loathsome figure that defending him doesn't seem worth the effort; and third, because I myself have used a close variation of the very phrase that got Imus canned . . . if you're curious, you'll find it on page 37 of my novel Africa Speaks.

Still, it strikes me that the Imus imbroglio is significant, if not quite a watershed moment in racial consciousness. Of course, every discussion about "race" should begin with the observation that it's fundamentally a perceptual category, not a biological one. There's more genetic variation within the most common racial groupings than between them. Even the narrower term "ethnicity" is ill-defined, based on long-forgotten tribal relations; sorting hundreds of ethnicities into arbitrarily drawn color-coded umbrella groups like "white" or "black" or "brown" or "yellow" is, to say the least, anthropologically dubious.

That said, it's also undeniable that perceptions of race have exerted a profound influence on the history and institutions of American life. There was a time in living memory when black people were matter-of-factly thought of as a distinct classification of human beings with distinctly inferior intellectual and moral characteristics. Under such circumstances, it was natural that people who were perceived, and who perceived themselves, as black would share a broad range socio-economic interests. If you're being victimized on the basis of a racial categorization, it makes sense to throw in your lot with other victims in order to work towards a more just society.

With time however, and with the disintegration of the barriers to black equality, those common interests have faded. That's the reality, despite the tired rhetoric of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson - the predictable ringleaders of the Imus lynch mob. "The interests of black people" is no longer a meaningful concept because nothing remains to differentiate such interests, in 2007, from the greater good. On the contrary, since it's unquestionably the case that the overwhelming majority of black people are honest, hardworking, law-abiding citizens, their natural constituency should consist of other honest, hardworking, law-abiding citizens - in other words, people who share their socio-economic interests. But black people have been brainwashed, browbeaten and culturally cowed by the likes of Sharpton and Jackson into believing that their natural constituency is made up not of their socioeconomic peers but of a ragtag minority of sociopaths who superficially resemble them. Thus, for example, black people overwhelmingly want to repeal drug laws that land a disproportionate number of young black men in prison - despite the fact that returning them to their inner city neighborhoods guarantees more black-on-black street crime.

It serves the purpose of Sharpton and Jackson to beat the drum of black solidarity because their shtick - I honestly don't know what else to call it at this point - depends on the continued perception by black people of their own persecution. To be black, according to those who recognize Sharpton and Jackson as legitimate leaders, including perhaps a majority of black people, is to be perpetually victimized; more than skin color, the belief in ongoing black victimization is now the unifying element of black culture. If black people ever cease to define themselves first and foremost as racial victims, then neither Sharpton nor Jackson has a following.

Which returns us to Imus's transgression - and, in a roundabout way, to my student Renee's "knickers" comment. What both incidents underscore is that outrage is a conscious act. It's never necessary. It's always selective. You need to work yourself up to outrage; in that respect, it's qualitatively different than merely taking offense, which is immediate, visceral and, most often, fleeting. Renee inadvertently gave offense to the class, but the offense lasted only a moment, and her remark produced no outrage, because her intentions became immediately apparent. Likewise, no doubt, Imus inadvertently gave offense with his comment . . . and apologized abjectly, relentlessly, nauseatingly afterwards. Clearly, it wasn't his intention to insult black people generically. More likely, his intention was to say something funny, something hip, something that underscored his familiarity with inner city lingo. The joke was pathetic and, ultimately, pointless. The rational response should have been a moment of general offense followed by a shrug. Who cares what Imus says? He's a radio clown. Yet, despite Imus's groveling, offense quickly gave way to outrage.


I'd suggest it was the very pointlessness of Imus's remark that did him in. "Nappy-headed ho's" meant nothing, in the context Imus used the phrase, except to indicate he didn't find one particular group of young black women especially attractive. Insulting people is what Imus does; it's his shtick. Did Imus's words give offense? No doubt. That's what insults do. Yet, on this occasion, Sharpton and Jackson were able to parlay the momentary offense into widespread outrage, to work up and sustain a tide of indignation that ultimately washed Imus from his job.

That could not have happened if the original insult had had a point. For example, in a November 2006 episode of FOX's animated sitcom The Family Guy (a kind of nastier version of The Simpsons), Baby Stewie complains to Brian, the talking dog, that his mock marriage to the baby girl next door has hit the skids:

Stewie: "Why is it so hard? I didn't know it was going to be so hard!

Brian: "Look, Stewie, you stood up before God and all your toys, and you took an oath to stick it out when things got tough. You wanted us to see you as an adult. Well, this is adulthood."

Stewie: "You're right, Brian. I can't hide from this relationship. It's my responsibility to deal with it. I mean, what kind of a man would I be if I ran off now?"

Brian: "Well, you'd be a black man."

Stewie: "Wow, wow, whoa, what was that?"

Brian: "Ahh, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, that was my father talking."

Stewie (walking away): "You, uh, you gotta work on that, man. Bad dog."

No protest ensued after that episode was aired - which is curious, since the insult was directed not merely at a handful of black women but at black men in general. It was a racist joke, in the purest sense. No doubt many black men who were watching took offense. What's more, the offense seems intentional - as evidenced by Brian's quick excuse that he's inherited his prejudices from his father. Granted, Stewie and Brian are cartoon characters. But so, in his own way, is Imus.

So why weren't Sharpton and Jackson all over this case? Where was the outrage?

Perhaps the answer is that Brian's slip of the tongue, unlike Imus's, contained an uncomfortable element of truth about black manhood. It was pointed rather than pointless - and thus of no use to Sharpton and Jackson. To work up public outrage at the writers of Family Guy, Sharpton and Jackson would have had to confront the content of the offense. They'd have had to acknowledge the fact that black men do indeed forsake their familial responsibilities in grotesquely disproportionate numbers, that 70 percent of black children are born out of wedlock - that the phrase "my baby's daddy" has by now become so intimately linked with black culture that white women cannot quite carry it off.

Indeed, if Sharpton and Jackson were truly concerned with the welfare of the community they claim to represent, they'd turn their attention to the dire implications of that three-word phrase and let pass the idiocy of "nappy-headed ho's."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


25 August, 2007

CAIR Thugs on Islamophobia Patrol: Coming Soon to Your Neighborhood?

Three officials of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Ohio admit to going unannounced to a man's home to confront him over a bumper sticker on his car - a testament, they claim, of their tolerance and moderation. The incident occurred last year, but the CAIR trio involved - Ahmad Al-Akhras, CAIR national vice chairman, Asma Mobin-Uddin, CAIR-Ohio president, and Abukar Arman, CAIR-OH board member - have recently recounted this incident to the local establishment media as an example of how they "invite dialogue".

Others, however, believe the incident is additional proof that CAIR regularly resorts to threats, intimidation and demonization to silence its critics. Earlier this month, attorneys for CAIR sent a letter threatening legal action against the Young Americans Foundation if they allowed NY Times bestselling author and JihadWatch director, Robert Spencer, to speak at their conference on "The Truth of the Council on American-Islamic Relations". This thuggery is reminiscent of CAIR's 2004 lawsuit against independent journalist Andrew Whitehead of Anti-CAIR, a suit which was dropped by CAIR in order to avoid responding to required interrogatories about its historic ties to HAMAS and role in terror financing.

The CAIR-OH incident is without known precedent, harassing a private citizen at his home because CAIR officials did not like one of his bumper stickers. One of the trio, Abukar Arman, has described how they set upon their unwitting victim:

Several months ago, a non-Muslim fellow in the inter-faith community brought to the attention of CAIR-Ohio a picture of his neighbor's truck with a bumper sticker that read "Jesus loves you, and Allah wants you dead".

Some of us thought that the appropriate thing to do was to get media involved and use this truck owner as a poster-child of the prevalent assertive ignorance that is widening the post 9/11 political divide between Muslims and non-Muslims. Others, on the other hand, saw this as an opportunity for human contact, discourse, and to build bridges of understanding. The latter opinion prevailed.

Therefore, I had the privilege of being one of three Muslims (2 male and a female with Islamic veil) who paid a neighborly visit to the truck owner. What ensued was an interesting discourse that I found to be very educational (its final outcome notwithstanding).

The truck owner was a former Marine officer who served in Somalia and Iraq. Initially, as he opened the door, he was visibly apprehensive (and rightfully so).

We greeted him and introduced ourselves. We reassured him that we were only interested to get to know him, address any questions or perhaps grievance that he may have, and to give him a chance to meet and dialogue with ordinary Muslims.
Long story short: in a conversation that took place right outside his door and lasted for over an hour, the former Marine talked about how he was very suspicious of Muslims and how, both in Somalia and in Iraq, he and other Americans who "came to help these two countries had their hands bitten." He talked about how he did not believe there were any moderate Muslims and how organizations such as CAIR were deliberately silent about condemning terrorism. He also talked about being alarmed by the growing Muslim population in Central Ohio and how they may be hiding a terrorist who has in his possession a "briefcase nuke". He said, "I don't want to see a giant mushroom in Columbus" [I will come back to this point].

Lastly, he talked about his career in the private sector.how he worked as a "corporate anti-terrorism expert" and a "consultant to a numerous multinational corporations"...

Arman admits that the original intention was to make this two-war veteran a "poster-child" of Islamophobia and publicly to vilify the man by enlisting the help of the local media - all because they didn't agree with the sentiments the man expressed via a bumper sticker. He also admits that the man was visibly leery of his late-night visitors showing up on his doorstep, what they probably would argue is proof of his Islamophobia.

What makes this situation and Abukar Arman's comments even more appalling is that the former Marine had served in the UN-backed peacekeeping mission in Somalia, Arman's native country, to protect the people there from the warlords that had taken over the country and who were starving the people by the tens of thousands. Additionally, the former Marine had been reported to CAIR by one of his neighbors who was a friend to the CAIR officials in the "inter-faith community".

But imagine if the roles in this case were reversed: imagine if Robert Spencer, Andrew Whitehead and myself showed up on the doorstep of any of these CAIR officials - unwelcome and unannounced - to confront them about their repeated statements of support for extremism, bigotry and terrorism: Ahmad Al-Akhras for his public defense of convicted terrorists, including his "long-time friend", convicted and deported Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative Fawaz Damra; Asma Mobin-Uddin for promoting several hate sites with rabidly anti-Jewish content on her own personal website; or Abukar Arman, for his vocal public support of HAMAS, Hezbollah and the al-Qaeda-backed Islamic Courts Union. Would they see such action as "inviting dialogue", or would they instead denounce such an "invitation to dialogue" in a flurry of CAIR press releases as a "hate crime" that would merit restraining orders and warrant federal criminal charges?

More here

Moore is just another hate-filled Leftist

In a variant of the Golden Rule, Kevin Leffler has recently done to Michael Moore what Michael Moore has done to so many others. In Shooting Michael Moore Mr. Leffler produces a commendable documentary that shows Michael Moore to be something other than that self-anointed, compassionate advocate for the "little guy." Echoing the format of Moore's first documentary, Roger and Me, Mr. Leffler, a former schoolmate and friend of Michael Moore, seeks out the elusive Moore. It is quickly evident that Moore (not unlike Al Gore) does not appreciate confrontation or having the truth or the effects of his body of work challenged. Moore wants applause and royalties, not debate. It is amusing to see the champion of the ambush interview himself waddling away from Mr. Leffler's ambush interviews.

Michael Moore is certainly no Nazi. However, what is interesting about his films is the extent to which they rapidly degenerate into slick propaganda, illustrative of principles enunciated by Joseph Goebbels:

"Arguments must therefore be crude, clear, and forcible, and appeal to the emotions and instincts, not the intellect."

Goebbels was merely elaborating Hitler's insight in Mein Kampf, where Hitler stated:

"All propaganda has to be popular and has to adapt its spiritual level to the perception of the least intelligent of those toward whom it intends to direct itself."

Contempt is the overriding sentiment of anyone producing propaganda in this spirit of Goebbels. It is contempt for the truth, and it is contempt for the audience. The body of Moore's work is larded with contempt. He disdains the people of Flint as he feigns deep sympathy. Like Rosie O'Donnell he disparages American gun ownership while, like her, he has armed security. He hates the rich while living as lavishly as any Kennedy. He has contempt for the American people as he profits handsomely, to paraphrase Lenin, trying to sell us rope with which to hang ourselves. Moore's contempt for those in his films is manifest not only in the films themselves but in Moore's treatment of his subjects when the cameras stop. Mr. Leffler effectively depicts this aspect of Moore's contempt. Here are a few examples of what Mr.Leffler portrays:

Rhonda Britton and Fred Ross were prominently featured in Roger and Me. Moore needed their consent to use their images in the movie. Rhonda Britton is by her own admission barely literate. Moore gave her $100.00 and a ride in a limousine, and he had her sign a waiver. (Surely he knew that she had no understanding of what she signed.) Mr. Ross refused to sign Moore's waiver. He had to sue Moore before he was paid substantially more than the exploited Rhonda Britton. Moore solemnly tells us in the film that we are judged by "how we treat the least among us." Indeed.

According to former cameraman, Bruce Schermer, Moore regularly instructed his cameramen to lie to their subjects. They were told to pretend that they were from the local news station, or PBS, or the Discovery Channel. They lied to Staff Sgt. Raymond Plouhar, Jr. claiming they were from the Discovery Channel. For Fahrenheit 911 they filmed his recruiting efforts in Flint, Michigan. Moore portrays some of the sales pitch to prospective recruits, followed by a quick cut to terrified Iraqi women, as if this is what Sgt. Plouhar were really promoting. The emotional reaction of Sergeant Plouhar's parents to the dishonesty toward and manipulation of their son by Moore is the most moving part of the film. They must speak for Sgt. Plouhar because he was killed in Iraq fighting for everything Michael Moore holds in contempt.

Mr. and Mrs. Plouhar were able briefly to confront Michael Moore about his dishonesty and abuse of their son's service, and Mr. Leffler was able to film some of this confrontation. In a response that can only be described as obscene, according to the Plouhars, Moore told them that there really is some consolation for them. Moore told them that his use of Sgt. Plouhar in his movie gave the dead soldier "notoriety." Here is the essence of Moore's position: if he, the gifted Michael Moore, had not deceived Sgt. Plouhar and used him to disparage all that Sgt. Plouhar stood for, he would have died in Iraq relatively anonymously, known only to family and friends. He would be just another war statistic. But the great Michael Moore bestowed on Sgt. Plouhar "notoriety."

In a cheap imitation of Shakespeare's 55th Sonnet, where he promised immortality to his beloved through his art, Michael Moore sees himself generously conferring fame and celebrity on a dead American soldier whom Moore really despises. Evidently, America needs no Homer or Thucydides when it has Moore. Service to Michael Moore's interests certainly trumps sacrifice for one's country. There must be a special circle in hell for the crude and swinish soul who could believe that supposed "notoriety" would soothe Sergeant Plouhar's grieving parents.

I suspect that Moore is too thick to understand the real implications of his use of the word "notoriety." It means to be famous or known in an unfavorable light. Moore did all that he could to cast Sgt. Plouhar in an unfavorable light. So here is one of those rare moments when Moore was actually honest about what he did, although this honesty was probably unintentional.

Mr. Leffler touches on many of the other seemingly countless sordid aspects of Michael Moore. Among others, we hear of all the inflated and empty promises to the people of Flint, Michigan. We learn of Moore's chiseling on his taxes and his violation of environmental laws. We learn from Mr. Leffler that the worst terror-supporting state in the world, Iran, partially lifted its embargo against American films. This was done by Iran so that Moore's Fahrenheit 911 could be shown to Iranian audiences. Move over Tokyo Rose... way over.

What becomes clear as one watches Mr. Leffler's film is that Michael Moore really believes that his behavior, his sense of ethics, the means by which he amasses and retains his huge personal fortune are subject to no standards, scrutiny, or judgment beyond those of Michael Moore himself. Propagandists masquerading as "artists" evidently get a free pass in the universe of Michael Moore.

For Moore, as for others who have excelled at propaganda, truth is, by definition, that which furthers a favored political objective. If someone's eviction had nothing to do with General Motors' plant closings as Moore misrepresents in Roger and Me, or if a soldier's heinous injuries were not a result of enemy action as Moore implies in Fahrenheit 911, or if Moore publicly promises to hire blacks to make a political point in Stupid White Men, then hires none, he simply defines truth accordingly. Amassing a personal fortune and promoting his inane political views justify any means. It is the cynical elasticity of Moore's "truth" that provides these means.

Mr. Leffler does not have pretensions of being a professional filmmaker. The film has its flaws. Like all of Moore's films, it too runs too long and at times belabors points. He could have strengthened his case of Moore's lying to Sergeant Plouhar had he tracked down the second Marine who was exploited by Michael Moore. Some of his points have been made by others in the print media. However, as we sometimes fight fire with fire, there are times to fight film with film. Shooting Michael Moore is a worthy rebuttal to Michael's Moore's pomposity, avarice, and dishonesty. The film helps us understand why Michael Moore, so filled with contempt for much of what is good, is himself so utterly contemptible



They are pro-Muslim to the point of absurdity

How did the Crown Prosecution Service and West Midlands Police come to refer Channel 4's Dispatches programme, Undercover Mosque, to Ofcom? It is one of the most bizarre decisions taken by public authorities in recent times. Having decided that they could not or would not prosecute the purveyors of Wahhabite hate speech portrayed in the film - mostly from the Green Lane mosque in Birmingham - they instead turned round on the documentary-makers and investigated them for allegedly stirring up racial hatred.

This controversy will run and run. Tomorrow the Edinburgh International Television Festival hosts a seminar, Don't Mention Islam, at which one of the star turns will be the man at the heart of the fuss, Kevin Sutcliffe, deputy head of news and current affairs at Channel 4.

Paul Goodman, MP, the Shadow Communities Minister, yesterday piled on the pressure, writing to the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, and to the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith. Effectively, he inquired whether the Saudi Government and its proxies - which are desperately sensitive about the role of Saudi religious institutions portrayed in the documentary - have made representations about Undercover Mosque (shown on Channel 4 in January) to the Government or to other national and local agencies. And how, he asked, have civil servants, acting officially or unofficially, responded to these complaints?

In a packed seminar at Policy Exchange last week, speaker after speaker denounced West Midlands Police for shooting the messenger and for appeasing some of the most sectarian elements in their force area. Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West, who courageously led the fight against the proposed religious hatred Bill, charged that this constabulary has "form" over defending certain liberties: it apparently equated the Sikh protesters who sought the cancellation of the allegedly blasphemous play Behzti at Birmingham's Repertory Theatre in 2004 with those seeking to maintain theatrical freedom.

So once again, it was the poor "Old Bill" that got it in the neck, rather than the CPS - which was at least an equal partner in the process. This is no doubt unfair. But it does illustrate how damaging it is for police forces, perhaps more than any other public bodies, to blunder into such controversies.

The peculiarity here is that the senior officers of West Midlands Police are not exactly dedicated followers of political fashion. Thus, Sir Paul Scott-Lee, the Chief Constable, has been known to tell a home secretary where to go when that department sought to push him beyond his remit as a police officer. Indeed, Sir Paul is so much his own man that the Director-General of the Security Service, Jonathan Evans, went to see him not long ago to urge him to reorder his force priorities - and devote more resources to the "sexier" topic of counter-terrorism. The Assistant Chief Constable who led this investigation, Anil Patani, is a cautious fellow with no apparent ideological agenda. Indeed, when West Midlands Police suspect a real threat, they can act quickly and efficiently - as I have seen myself in the case of one Muslim associate in Birmingham who was endangered recently.

But it is in the area of "soft power" that West Midlands Police, like so many other forces, is at its weakest. According to Whitehall reports, the broader Midlands region has seen some of the most dramatic recent "spikes" in radicalisation of Muslims anywhere in the country. West Midlands Police is desperate to get to grips with that trend through intensified "community engagement". As part of that, it has selected what it deems to be "credible" Muslim "partners" who can help to "deliver" young Muslims - youths who might otherwise take a walk on the wild side. The trouble is that policemen are too often insufficiently discerning in their choice of "partners". They are not best equipped to "pick winners" - often plumping for the loudest voices. Thus, the West Midlands Police website lists the Birmingham Central Mosque as its official partner - whose chairman, Mohammed Naseem, believes in all sorts of dottinesses, such as the claim that Muslims were not responsible for 9/11 and 7/7 (though he condemned terrorism against innocents).

Much the same official mindset was on offer at a Wilton Park conference sponsored by the Foreign Office and the Department of Communities and Local Government late last February, Countering Terrorism in Europe and North America: How Can a Community-Based Approach be Developed? According to one official, officers from West Midlands commended to the gathering the efforts of two Muslims whom they stated were from the Green Lane mosque.

Neither man appears in the Dispatches programme; perhaps they were horrified by what some of their co-religionists said there. If so, they appear not to have stated it publicly. When these officers from West Midlands gave them such favourable references at the Wilton Park conference, was the force already investigating some of those elements at the mosque for alleged hate speech? What balance of forces was West Midlands Police - in conjunction with other elements of government - seeking to foster in the mosque? Has Channel 4 been an inadvertent casualty of that? Whose poor advice did the force take before stepping on this landmine?

West Midlands Police, like another force or security agency, will obviously do everything it can to stop bombs going off. Sometimes that means supping with some people who don't necessarily come up to the antiracist, antihomophobic standards of postMacpherson policing. But rubbing shoulders with such elements in back alleys is not the same as according them public recognition. By referring this matter to Ofcom, West Midlands Police showed that its preferred associates in the Muslim community are Wahhabites and assorted radical Islamists rather than the nonsectarian Muslim mainstream. It is a choice that is profoundly demoralising for genuine moderates and will ultimately undermine, rather than strengthen the very community cohesion that the force seeks.

Above all, the referral caters to the sense of "victim culture" peddled by the Muslim Council of Britain and others: that our current discontents are caused as much by media sensationalism and "Islamophobia" as by Islamist ideology itself. It will reinforce that strain of opinion within the MCB that holds that mosques and other institutions don't need to clean up their act. It is often said that war is too important to be left to the generals. The case of Channel 4's Undercover Mosque surely proves that community cohesion is far too important to be left to the CPS and the police.


Australia: Stupid accusations of racism from the arty-farties

They are so pathetic that they need to denigrate ordinary people in order to feel good about themselves

NATASHA Puatjimi doesn't fit the script. Well, not the script that's waved at us by film director George Miller. Miller, you might recall, claims there's a very good reason Australian films bomb at the box office. "Australia at its heart is so racist that I don't think we can stomach it." It's odd that being bored through the floor by angsty films such as Rolf de Heer's Bad Boy Bubby - blurbed as the story of "a 35-year-old man-child, confined his whole life by his domineering mother, who uses him for sex, to a two-room tenement apartment" - should be hailed by Miller as proof of racism.

That seems about as strange as .... well, as a Tiwi Islander girl like Natasha this week beating 170 boys to be voted best and fairest of the Yarra Junior Football League under-13 competition.

But the even greater mystery is why Miller and so many other artists and ideologues insist on believing we really are sick-makingly racist. How glibly - and often - that preposterous claim is made. "Racism is as Australian as lamingtons," sneered art critic Robert Hughes, author of the bad-us history The Fatal Shore. We're so racist we "invite the region's contempt", sniffed former diplomat and arts bureaucrat Alison Broinowski.

Racist! What a cop-out that gleeful slur has been for those who'd rather abuse than understand. Who'd rather preen than confront an awkward truth. Here's how it's worked.

Pauline Hanson's one million votes? All racists, you were told. And don't dare ask who those voters were truly rejecting. (Hint: think not poor blacks but powerful whites.)

The "stolen generations"? Oh, just priests, nuns, welfare officials, police and politicians being as racist as always, school textbooks preached. Don't even start to look at what hell those children were "stolen" from.

The Cronulla riot? Yet more racism, you silly person. And if you ask what so provoked the crowd, you must be a racist, too.

And now again, yet more lines from this same tatty Miller script. Listen to them. The National Sorry Day Committee dismisses the Howard Government's $500 million intervention in the Northern Territory's sickest Aboriginal communities as just proof of "the intent for the dog of 'white supremacy' to return to its vomit". Muriel Bamblett, of the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care, waves it off as politicians "blowing the dog whistle of racism" because - note - "the Australian public are too racist and too uncaring of indigenous children" to give real help.

As I said: straight out of Miller's script. But now the big question: Is there actually a part in that script for Natasha Puatjimi? Can Miller fit in a part for a girl who is in fact one of those very same "indigenous children" from the Territory, who we are supposedly "too racist and too uncaring" to help? I'm sure you know of Natasha already. After all, we at the Herald Sun thought you'd be so glad to hear of her success that we ran her picture and story on our front page yesterday. As did The Age. The television stations, led by men with an anxious eye on what makes viewers reach for the remote, similarly decided - unanimously - Natasha's was a story the public would love.

Believe me, if these ratings-driven robots shared Miller's venomous view of Australians, they'd never show so much eager footage of a black girl making good. Not to a land fierce with rednecks. But while you've heard Natasha's story, you may have missed some details that help to make my point - that in her trophy we see reflected an Australia brighter than is modish to admit. Take, for instance, how she came to be in Melbourne. A Melbourne woman, Fiona Hogan, met Natasha's parents while working at a Tiwi Islands medical clinic and was asked if Natasha could stay with her in Melbourne to get a better education.

Think, also, of the other goodwill Natasha has been given. Her Ivanhoe club last year offered her an exchange, and now that she's in Melbourne gave her a chance to shine as ruck-rover. How much goodwill? On trophy night, said Natasha, "everyone was looking at me and when they read out that I got 27 votes I heard the most cheering ever". By the next morning she was on radio, confessing that her favourite player was Essendon's Adam McPhee, and within hours she was at Windy Hill, having a kick with him and a chat to coach Kevin Sheedy, who has done so much for Aboriginal players.

Tell me again, Mr Miller, that ours is a country sick with racists and show me in your script where Natasha fits in. How many other signs have there been of our essential good nature? Only the wilfully blind could miss them.

Many of you will have your small proofs, as I have mine - like the day Danny, my best friend at Tarcoola Primary, was made captain of our sports team and carried in triumph on the shoulders of my father and another teacher when he sealed our win in the carnival against Cook and Kingoonya. Oh, I forgot a small fact that was then inconsequential: Danny was Aboriginal.

But almost every day come more stories - usually underreported - to show that for every racist you could drag out to damn, there are dozens of the decent you could instead praise. Here's one of the latest: when the Government said it was going in to help the Aboriginal children of the NT's worst camps, more than 500 doctors, nurses, dentists, psychologists, surgeons and the like rang a hotline to see if they could help. Free. More than 100 volunteers have already now gone to the Outback to serve - in this intervention vilified as a "genocide" and a proof of our "racism".

So a plea: can our artists stop pinning on us this badge of undeserved shame? Can our preachers stop celebrating a wickedness that isn't really ours? Can our writers define us by the many, not the few, and write instead a story that sees us more as we truly are: not perfect, but not that bad, either? In that revised script for Mr Miller, let's have that scene in which Natasha holds up her trophy to a cheering crowd. And let's have Miller, with all his art, shoot it in a way that makes clear the truth of that happy moment. Which truth? That it wasn't Natasha alone who won that trophy for the best and the fairest. A small bit of it - the base, maybe - was shared by us all.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


24 August, 2007

Europe Cannot Begin Again

Excerpt from Jon N. Hall

Europe is committing suicide. A century ago, however, the nations of Europe were the Masters of the Universe. Their far-flung empires girded the globe. Europe had the biggest, the best, and the most of everything. Then everything went to hell. The relatively peaceful century after Napoleon I ended with World War I, which led to WWII. Europe lost her preeminence and her empires, and fell under the protectorate of a former colony.

Europe was brought low by a century of horrible political leadership. From Asquith, to Wilhelm II, to Clemenceau, to Chamberlain, to the fascists, to de Gaulle, to the traitors of The Euro-Arab Dialogue, to the bureaucrats at EU headquarters, Europe's leaders have been one disaster after another. For every Churchill there's been a gaggle of scoundrels, incompetents, and dummies with delusions of national, if not personal, grandeur.

Europe is a fallen continent. Her blunders, failures, and sins over the last century are legion. The most cataclysmic events of the last century all started in Europe, dragging in the rest of the world and killing millions. The Holocaust was not so very long ago, yet naked anti-Semitism is again common in Europe. European Jewry is again under attack, and Jews are again emigrating. Europe seems to have learned nothing.

But today Europe has made a stunning reversal: Instead of marching on her neighbors, Europe is allowing herself to be trampled on. Europe now suffers from an entirely new disorder: the terminal disease of "softness". Except for the Brits, the Euros have only token militaries. They can't project power, not like the American military. So the Euros shamelessly sit back and let America defend them. They couldn't even handle the breakup of Yugoslavia without American help. Perhaps all the fight got bred out of the Euros with the loss of generations of young warriors at places like Kursk and the Somme. (The loss of so much good European manhood might also explain why Europe hasn't produced a Mozart lately.)

Make no mistake: Europe IS committing suicide. But then the Euros have been working on this little project since 1914. Only now they're getting serious about it, stepping up the pace. And they seem helpless to reverse course.

The demographers have done the math, and it is well nigh certain that unless something is done, and soon, Muslim immigration and breeding, combined with the low birthrates of native Europeans, will transform Europe into a Muslim-majority continent in this century. Europe will cease being Europe. Europe will become Eurabia. The wellspring of Western Civilization will be-gone. And it will stand as the greatest tragedy in history.

So did America actually sacrifice the lives of 405,000 of her brave boys in WWII just so Europe could be taken over by barbarians led by insane medieval religious zealots

More and more the answer is trending yes. But speaking of sacrifice, let's not forget the 116,000 American military deaths in the Great War, the 1.4 million American military casualties in both World Wars, and the countless billions of Yankee dollars spent since 1917 on behalf of this suicidal continent. Has America been a bunch of patsies?

Here's Bruce Bawer quoting Danish journalist Lars Hedegaard on Europe's future:

Unless they build up a cadre of intellectuals in Europe who can think," he said, America "can kiss Europe good-bye." The Continent's future, he predicted, "is going to be vastly different than we imagine.. It's going to be war. Like Lebanon," with some enclaves dominated by Christians and others by Muslims. There will be "permanent strife," and no one will have the "power to mollify or mediate. It will be more gruesome than we can imagine." When the horror comes, he warned, the journalists who helped bring it about will "wag their heads and flee-and leave it to those who can't flee to fight it out. [While Europe Slept, pp. 188-189]

("When the horror comes" Well if it hasn't already come, the Euros shouldn't expect another American bailout when the horror does come, as the new wisdom in the U.S. is to stay out of civil wars.)

Despite Europe's sorry history over the last century, the American left thinks Europe is the font of all sophistication, and is forever telling us: America needs to be just like Europe. But when it comes to government, Europeans are just plain backward. And the backwardness of European governments trickles down and corrupts their citizenry. The Euro masses have gotten so used to sucking at the public teat, they're never gonna let go. That's why you see those French farmers and students rioting in the streets about even the smallest adjustments to their precious welfare state.

Europe's socialist states are founded on fatal flaws. Europe's social programs are unsustainable; they are doomed, and would be even without the Islamist threat. Indeed, one of the reasons Europe imported the Muslims was to keep her welfare systems going. But when the caliphate comes, Europe will bid her socialist utopias a fond bon voyage, auf Wiedersehen, or their Arab equivalents.

In his 1964 book Suicide of the West, James Burnham wrote that `what Americans call "liberalism" is the ideology of Western suicide' [p. 26]. If Burnham is correct, could conservatism be the ideology of "Western survival", and the cure for what ails Europe?

Alas, Europe has no lusty tradition of anything Americans would call conservatism. Yes, there was Margaret Thatcher. But "the Iron Lady" was the exception; Europeans rarely have a limited-government alternative to vote for. Usually, Euros must choose between competing brands of statism: what Americans call "liberalism". Contrary to America's elite left, Europe needs to be more like America.

More here

Must not be critical of Muslims

The following is a report from Alan of the UAC's Orlando, FL chapter regarding the chapter members experiences while attempting to distribute anti-CAIR literature at the Convention Center where CAIR was holding a banquet.

On the day of the CAIR Banquet at the Convention Center there was also a truck show that was open to the public. Interestingly the CAIR banquet was being held directly upstairs in clear sight of the truck show.

Three of us went to the truck show with the plan of quietly and politely handing out literature about Siraj Wahhaj and CAIR both named unindicted co-conspirators in separate cases. Two other members also drove over from Tampa to help out.

We arrived at the truck show at 3:10 PM and immediately began handing out literature to attendees, vendors, and exhibitors. At approximately 3:45 we were collectively flanked by approximately ten security guards, an Orange County Sheriff, and Beth Barrett of the Convention Center management. I was asked to present my ID, which I politely did. Then we were escorted out the Convention Center. When we were outside of the Convention Center there were 3-4 Orange County Sheriff cruisers shadowing our every move - as if we posed a serious threat.

The irony of this exercise is that right upstairs as we were being forced out of a partially tax payer funded venue for simply handing out literature. The group CAIR which is currently listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the ongoing Holy Land Foundation Hamas funding case had as their keynote speaker another unindicted co-conspirator in the 93 WTC Bombings who was also a character witness for the Blind Sheikh, who was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the murder and destruction at the WTC, were conducting business as usual.

The question I have is how could our city leaders allow CAIR Orlando and Siraj Wahhaj to speak at a taxpayer funded venue in the first place. I have left three messages with Mayor Buddy Dyers office and faxed info to Mayor Rich Crotty's office but have no responses as of yet.

That is briefly what our experiences were in our goal to hand out a few pieces of paper and educate the public about what is going on at the Orange County Convention Center.


I Demand the Muslim Foundation of America Attend Sensitivity Training!

Somewhere, sometime, some stupid jerk (Don Imus, are you reading this?) says something so far out and offensive, you just want to shudder. On the other hand, I get that same shudder when someone somewhere says that they are deeply wounded by an insensitive remark uttered by some comic, or politico or sports figure or author or blogger and the PC world jumps up and demands, DEMANDS i say that the clod go to (gasp!) Sensivity Training.

There, the wizards of PC will teach you how to stifle your feelings, how to close your mind to any sort of comment, gesture or joke that may, MAY insult someone. THe Wizards of PC will then give you a certificate of completion which you can show to your boss, or your neighbor (or a judge?) proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are now immune to calling Arabs "rag heads," Japanese "japs," or G-d forbid African Americans "niggers," or even a Mexican "spic" or "wetback." Now, I'll be the first to tell you that I grew up hearing those phrases all my life from my dads dad, and from assorted neighbors, friends and relatives. Fortunately for me, my Mother really tried hard to raise a gentleman and a gentle man (if you get my drift) and to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I ever used those words, my mouth would have an uncomfortable encounter with Ivory Soap and the seat of my pants would have an even more uncomfortable encounter with a paddle or switch. I raised my daughter the same way and I hope to high heaven that she raises her kid(s) the same way.

Having said that, there are times when I think entire organizations ought to be paddled, have their mouths washed out with soap or some other dire and mysterious punishment that cannot be discussed in "polite" society. The Klu Klux Klan comes to mind, the White Citizens Council and even the entire leadership of Iran and Syria (I officially volunteer to wash Mahmoud Ahmadinejad mouth out with soap for all the idiocies he has uttered). To this list, let us now add the Muslim Foundation of America because they are obviously one of the more insensitive, idiotic, stupid, irrational groups around (second only to C.A.I.R. perhaps).

On Septermber 9th, 2007, 5 years, 363 days after the terror strikes Act of War by 19 Muslims between the ages of 19 and 49 when they flew two loaded air liners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania are going to stage a MARCH in downtown New York.

New York for Pete's sake. New York, where 2500 people were murdered by the MFA's co-religionists. New York, where the scars of that animalistic attack are still present in the ground, and in the hearts of more than 8 million people. EIGHT MILLION, thats 8,000,000 people. Oh My G-d! Is the MFA nuts?

Yet, let someone say anything bad, slightly bad, mildly bad or report suspicious behavior and these groups stand up in unison shouting "Bigotry, Islamophobia" etc., etc. ad infinitum, ad nauseum. They demand that America "understand" them, that we allow them special conditions, that we all but kowtow.

Well, I've had it. Send them all to Sensivity Training, whoop their butts, wash their mouths out with soap, disband them and make them illegal. I don't really give a damn. If those organizations are so insensitive as to not recognize how hurtful this action is in the city, then they are even more stupid than I thought they were, and that is saying something.



By Jeff Jacoby

Was there an Armenian genocide during World War I? While it was happening, no one called the slaughter of Armenian Christians by Ottoman Turks “genocide.” No one could: The word wouldn’t be coined for another 30 years. But those who made it their business to tell the world what the Turks were doing found other terms to describe the state-sponsored mass murder of the Armenians.

In its extensive reporting on the atrocities -- 145 stories in 1915 alone -- The New York Times described them as “systematic", “deliberate,” “organized by government,” and a “campaign of extermination.” A Sept. 25, 1915, headline warned: “Extinction Menaces Armenia.” What the Turks were embarked upon, said one official in the story that followed, was “nothing more or less than the annihilation of a whole people.”

Foreign diplomats, too, realized that they were observing genocide avant la lettre. American consular reports leaked to the Times indicated “that the Turk has undertaken a war of extermination on Armenians, especially those of the Gregorian Church, to which about 90 percent of the Armenians belong.” In July, US Ambassador Henry Morgenthau cabled Washington that “race murder” was underway — a “systematic attempt to uproot peaceful Armenian populations and ... to bring destruction and destitution upon them.” These were not random outbreaks of violence, Morgenthau stressed, but a nationwide slaughter “directed from Constantinople.” In his memoirs, he bluntly labeled the butchery “The Murder of a Nation.”

Another US diplomat, Consul Leslie Davis, described in grisly detail the “reign of terror” he saw in Harput, and the corpses of “thousands and thousands” of Armenians murdered near Lake Goeljuk. The mass deportations ordered by the Turks, in which hundreds of thousands of Armenians were crammed into freight cars and shipped hundreds of miles to die in the desert or at the hands of killing squads, were far worse than a straightforward massacre, he wrote. “In a massacre many escape, but a wholesale deportation of this kind in this country means a longer and perhaps even more dreadful death for nearly everyone.”

Other eyewitnesses, including American missionaries, provided stomach-clenching descriptions of the “terrible tortures” mentioned by Morgenthau. Women and girls were stripped and raped, then forced to march naked through blistering heat. Many victims were crucified on wooden crosses; as they writhed in agony, the Turks would taunt them: “Now let your Christ come and help you!” Reuters reported that “in one village, 1,000 men, women, and children are reported to have been locked in a wooden building and burned to death.” In another, “several scores of men and women were tied together by chains and thrown into Lake Van.”

Talaat Pasha, the Turkish interior minister who presided over the liquidation of the Armenians, made no bones about his objective. “The Government ... has decided to destroy completely all the indicated persons” — the Armenians — “living in Turkey,” he wrote to authorities in Aleppo. “An end must be put to their existence ... and no regard must be paid to either age or sex, or to conscientious scruples.” Talaat told Morgenthau that "we have already disposed of three-quarters of the Armenians; there are none at all left in Bitlis, Van, and Erzerum." To the ambassador’s remonstrations, Talaat curtly replied: "We will not have the Armenians anywhere in Anatolia."

Was there an Armenian genocide during World War I? The Turkish government today denies it, but the historical record, chronicled in works like Peter Balakian’s powerful study, The Burning Tigris (HarperCollins, 2003) is overwhelming. Yet the Turks are abetted in their denial and distortion by many who know better, including the Clinton administration and both Bush administrations, and prominent ex-congressmen-turned-lobbyists, including Republican Bob Livingston and Democrats Dick Gephardt and Stephen Solarz.

Particularly deplorable has been the longtime reluctance of some leading Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, to call the first genocide of the 20th century by its proper name. When Andrew Tarsy, the New England director of the ADL, came out last week in support of a congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide, he was promptly fired by the national organization. Shaken by the uproar that followed, the ADL finally backed down. The murder of a million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks in 1915, it acknowledged yesterday, was “indeed tantamount to genocide.”

Now the other organizations should follow suit. Their unwillingness to acknowledge that the Turks committed genocide stems from the fear that doing so may worsen the plight of Turkey’s beleaguered Jewish community, or may endanger the crucial military and economic relationship Israel has forged with Turkey -- the Jewish state's only such relationship with a major Muslim nation. Those are honorable concerns. But they cannot justify keeping silent about a most dishonorable assault on the truth. Genocide denial must be intolerable to everyone, but above all to those for whom “never again” is such a sacred principle. And at a time when jihadist violence from Darfur to Ground Zero has spilled so much innocent blood, dissimulation about the jihad of 1915 can only aid our enemies. The Armenian genocide is an incontestable fact of history. Shame on anyone who refuses to say so.


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


23 August, 2007

Australia: Green/Left paranoia about the Brethren continues

The Green/Left are determined to "get" conservative Christians who campaign against them. And when the Prime Minister meets with the Elect Vessel, the paranoia becomes full-blown. I suspect that, in their heart of hearts, Leftists feel that these religious guys might really have powers not available to ordinary men

JOHN Howard has held a private meeting with the most senior leaders of the Exclusive Brethren, including a man under investigation by police over his massive spending on the Prime Minister's 2004 election campaign. In his parliamentary office two weeks ago, Mr Howard met Sydney pump salesman Mark Mackenzie, whose former company, Willmac, funnelled $370,000 into pro-Howard advertising at the last election. Willmac's spending was later investigated by the Australian Electoral Commission's disclosure arm, and then referred to the Australian Federal Police for a criminal investigation, which is continuing. Also at the August 8 meeting were the secretive sect's world leader, or "Elect Vessel", Bruce D. Hales, his brother Stephen and elder Warwick John.

A Brethren spokesman confirmed to The Age yesterday that the meeting had taken place, but emphatically denied they had asked for Mr Howard's help on the police investigation or offered him support for his campaign against Maxine McKew in Bennelong.

Mr Howard's office said only that he had met members of the Brethren, as he did with a "wide range of groups", and would "continue to do so".

The Brethren spokesman said the elders had "assured the Prime Minister that they were praying for him". "There was absolutely no dialogue concerning Willmac, just as there was no discussion about . Bennelong," he said. "The members of the church primarily assured Prime Minister Howard that they were praying for him, as the leader of the Government, and then went on to discuss the economy. "This was a last-minute opportunity that presented itself. There was no agenda or pre-arranged discussion topics, simply an opportunity to greet Prime Minister Howard. "These mysterious campaign plans being suggested are wild speculation and the reality is they aren't there."

The spokesman also said that the Brethren's private schools, which benefit from millions of dollars of federal funding, were not discussed, nor was the Government's policy to exclude unions from Brethren workplaces. The spokesman added that, in the context of Mr Howard and Kevin Rudd addressing Christians across Australia the following day, "the particular meeting with the Brethren church group seems very unremarkable".

The Age believes the Brethren are likely to be substantial donors to the Liberal Party in the lead-up to this year's election, and that some donations will help fund the Bennelong campaign. Stephen Hales ran the Brethren's pro-Howard drive in Bennelong at the last election, authorising a number of the group's controversial print advertisements using the address of the Brethren school and helping find Brethren members to campaign for Mr Howard.

One Greens campaigner in Bennelong, Matthew Henderson, told The Age the sect was already working on Mr Howard's campaign. At the Prime Minister's recent walk-through at the Eastwood Plaza shopping centre in his electorate, "there were a bunch of people I went to school with . I recognise them as Brethren - and they appeared to be more than familiar with the Liberal Party supporters' group". Greens senator Bob Brown said yesterday that Mr Howard should reveal the "full nature of not just these discussions but his whole ongoing relationship with the murkily mysterious Mr Hales and the Exclusive Brethren". "I am concerned that the Prime Minister should be so guileless and desperate that the access to potential money from this cashed-up sect should be so important him," he said.


Criticism of a Gender Theory, and a Scientist Under Siege

Earlier this month, members of the International Academy of Sex Research, gathering for their annual meeting in Vancouver, informally discussed one of the most contentious and personal social science controversies in recent memory. The central figure, J. Michael Bailey, a psychologist at Northwestern University, has promoted a theory that his critics think is inaccurate, insulting and potentially damaging to transgender women. In the past few years, several prominent academics who are transgender have made a series of accusations against the psychologist, including that he committed ethics violations. A transgender woman he wrote about has accused him of a sexual impropriety, and Dr. Bailey has become a reviled figure for some in the gay and transgender communities.

To many of Dr. Bailey's peers, his story is a morality play about the corrosive effects of political correctness on academic freedom. Some scientists say that it has become increasingly treacherous to discuss politically sensitive issues. They point to several recent cases, like that of Helmuth Nyborg, a Danish researcher who was fired in 2006 after he caused a furor in the press by reporting a slight difference in average I.Q. test scores between the sexes.

"What happened to Bailey is important, because the harassment was so extraordinarily bad and because it could happen to any researcher in the field," said Alice Dreger, an ethics scholar and patients' rights advocate at Northwestern who, after conducting a lengthy investigation of Dr. Bailey's actions, has concluded that he is essentially blameless. "If we're going to have research at all, then we're going to have people saying unpopular things, and if this is what happens to them, then we've got problems not only for science but free expression itself."

To Dr. Bailey's critics, his story is a different kind of morality tale. "Nothing we have done, I believe, and certainly nothing I have done, overstepped any boundaries of fair comment on a book and an author who stepped into the public arena with enthusiasm to deliver a false and unscientific and politically damaging opinion," Deirdre McCloskey, a professor of economics, history, English, and communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and one of Dr. Bailey's principal critics, said in an e-mail message.

The hostilities began in the spring of 2003, when Dr. Bailey published a book, "The Man Who Would Be Queen," intended to explain the biology of sexual orientation and gender to a general audience. "The next two years," Dr. Bailey said in an interview, "were the hardest of my life."

Many sex researchers who have worked with Dr. Bailey say that he is a solid scientist and collaborator, who by his own admission enjoys violating intellectual taboos. In his book, he argued that some people born male who want to cross genders are driven primarily by an erotic fascination with themselves as women. This idea runs counter to the belief, held by many men who decide to live as women, that they are the victims of a biological mistake - in essence, women trapped in men's bodies. Dr. Bailey described the alternate theory, which is based on Canadian studies done in the 1980s and 1990s, in part by telling the stories of several transgender women he met through a mutual acquaintance. In the book, he gave them pseudonyms, like "Alma" and "Juanita."

Other scientists praised the book as a compelling explanation of the science. The Lambda Literary Foundation, an organization that promotes gay, bisexual and transgender literature, nominated the book for an award. But days after the book appeared, Lynn Conway, a prominent computer scientist at the University of Michigan, sent out an e-mail message comparing Dr. Bailey's views to Nazi propaganda. She and other transgender women found the tone of the book abusive, and the theory of motivation it presented to be a recipe for further discrimination. Dr. Conway did not respond to requests for an interview.

Dr. Ben Barres, a neurobiologist at Stanford, said in reference to Dr. Bailey's thesis in the book, "Bailey seems to make a living by claiming that the things people hold most deeply true are not true." At a public meeting of sex researchers shortly after the book's publication, Dr. John Bancroft, then director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, said to Dr. Bailey, "Michael, I have read your book, and I do not think it is science," according to accounts of the meeting. Dr. Bancroft confirmed the comment.

The backlash soon turned from the book to its author. After consulting with Dr. Conway, four of the transgender women who spoke to Dr. Bailey during his reporting for the book wrote letters to Northwestern, complaining that they had been used as research subjects without having given, or been asked to sign, written consent. One wrote a letter making another accusation against Dr. Bailey: she claimed he had had sex with her. Dr. Conway and Dr. McCloskey also wrote letters to Northwestern, accusing Dr. Bailey of grossly violating scientific standards "by conducting intimate research observations on human subjects without telling them that they were objects of the study." They also wrote to the Illinois state regulators, requesting that they investigate Dr. Bailey for practicing psychology without a license. Dr. Bailey, who was not licensed to practice clinical psychology in Illinois, had provided some of those who helped him with the book with brief case evaluation letters, suggesting that they were good candidates for sex-reassignment surgery. A spokesman for the state said that regulators took no action on the complaints.

In an interview, Dr. Bailey said that nothing he did was wrong or unethical. "I interviewed people for a book," he said. "This is a free society, and that should be allowed." But by the end of 2003, the controversy had a life of its own on the Internet. Dr. Conway, the computer scientist, kept a running chronicle of the accusations against Dr. Bailey on her Web site. Any Google search of Dr. Bailey's name brought up Dr. Conway's site near the top of the list. The site also included a link to the Web page of another critic of Dr. Bailey's book, Andrea James, a Los Angeles-based transgender advocate and consultant. Ms. James downloaded images from Dr. Bailey's Web site of his children, taken when they were in middle and elementary school, and posted them on her own site, with sexually explicit captions that she provided. (Dr. Bailey is a divorced father of two.) Ms. James said in an e-mail message that Dr. Bailey's work exploited vulnerable people, especially children, and that her response echoed his disrespect.

Dr. Dreger is the latest to arrive at the battlefront. She is a longtime advocate for people born with ambiguous sexuality and has been strongly critical of sex researchers in the past. She said she had presumed that Dr. Bailey was guilty and, after meeting him through a mutual friend, had decided to investigate for herself. But in her just-completed account, due to be published next year in The Archives of Sexual Behavior, the field's premier journal, she concluded that the accusations against the psychologist were essentially groundless. For example, Dr. Dreger found that two of the four women who complained to Northwestern of research violations were not portrayed in the book at all. The two others did know their stories would be used, as they themselves said in their letters to Northwestern.

The accusation of sexual misconduct came five years after the fact, and was not possible to refute or confirm, Dr. Dreger said. It specified a date in 1998 when Dr. Bailey was at his ex-wife's house, looking after their children, according to dated e-mail messages between the psychologist and his ex-wife, Dr. Dreger found. The transgender woman who made the complaint said through a friend that she stood by the accusation but did not want to talk about it.

Moreover, based on her own reading of federal regulations, Dr. Dreger, whose report can be viewed at www.bioethics.northwestern.edu, argued that the book did not qualify as scientific research. The federal definition describes "a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation." Dr. Bailey used the people in his book as anecdotes, not as the subjects of a systematic investigation, she reported. "The bottom line is that they tried to ruin this guy, and they almost succeeded," Dr. Dreger said. Dr. Dreger's report began to circulate online last week, and Dr. Bailey's critics already have attacked it as being biased.

For their part, Northwestern University administrators began an investigation of Dr. Bailey's research in later 2003 (there is no evidence that they investigated the sex complaint). The inquiry, which lasted almost a year, brought research to a near standstill in Dr. Bailey's laboratory, and clouded his name among some other researchers, according to people who worked with the psychologist. "That was the worst blow of all, that we didn't get much support" from Northwestern, said Gerulf Rieger, a graduate student of Dr. Bailey's at the time, and now a lecturer at Northwestern. "They were quite scared and not very professional, I thought."

A spokesman for the university declined to comment on the investigation, which concluded in 2004. One collaborator broke with Dr. Bailey over the controversy, Dr. Bailey said. Others who remained loyal said doing so had a cost: two researchers said they were advised by a government grant officer that they should distance themselves from Dr. Bailey to improve their chances of receiving financing. "He told me it would be better if I played down any association with Bailey," said Khytam Dawood, a psychologist at Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Bailey said that the first weeks of the backlash were the worst. He tried not to think about the accusations, he said, but would wake up in the middle of the night unable to think of anything else. He took anti-anxiety pills for a while. He began to worry about losing his job. He said that friends and family supported him but that some colleagues were afraid to speak up in his defense. "They saw what I was going through, I think, and wanted no part of it," he said.

The fog of war, which can overwhelm the senses of real soldiers, can also descend on academic feuds, and it seems to have done so on this one. In October 2004, Dr. Bailey stepped down as chairman of the psychology department. He declined to say why, and a spokesman for Northwestern would say only that the change in status had nothing to do with the book. These unknowns seem if anything to have extended the life of the controversy, which still simmers online.

"I think for me, for the work I do, honestly, I don't really care what his theories are," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, of Dr. Bailey. "But I do want to feel like any theories that affect the lives of so many people are based in good science, and that they're presented responsibly."

But that, say supporters of Dr. Bailey, is precisely the problem: Who defines responsible? And at what cost is that definition violated? It is perhaps fitting that the history of this conflict, which caught fire online, is being written and revised continually in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which is compiled and corrected by users. The reference site provides a lengthy entry on Dr. Bailey, but a section titled "Research Misconduct," which posts some of the accusations Dr. Dreger reviewed, includes a prominent warning. It reads: "The neutrality of this section is disputed."


The media mob

When Karl Rove resigned from his White House job last week, to a chorus of yowling cat-calls from furious news writers around the country, some scribblers were particularly offended by a word Mr. Rove used for his good friends in the media: The word "mob." Rove was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying,

"I'm not going to stay or leave based on whether it pleases the mob."

Touche! Karl. Not just one, but two separate Washington Post staffers split the peaceful summer night with howls of outrage. Eugene Robinson and Monica Hesse tore at Mr. Rove's flesh in two WaPo columns, just for using that little word, "mob."

Their united outrage proved his point: They are a mob. Funny, because the Media Mob commonly describes itself in just those terms: as "sharks" looking for "blood in the water" to start a "feeding frenzy." "What bleeds, leads." Sounds like a classic lynch mob, doesn't it? But the victims aren't supposed to answer back. They must hemorrhage silently, while the drooling newshounds bay at the moon to celebrate yet another kill. Well, Mr. Rove didn't play along this time.

In 1991, Supreme Court Justice-to-be Clarence Thomas struck back with the words "high-tech lynching" to describe the smears hurled at him by the liberal media to kill his chances at the Senate Judiciary Committee. For a few days the white Media Mob froze in its tracks. Perhaps at that magic moment it recognized itself as a mob in a Black man's eyes. Because Justice Thomas was born in the Jim Crow South, and he knew exactly what he was talking about when it came to lynch mobs. Clarence Thomas' nomination passed the Committee within days of his verbal counter-attack. Then the Media Mob just fell back into its old ways.

The Big Media are a mob. That should be Politics 101. They are a tiny, unchecked power elite, locked into life-long careers in the remnant of a crumbling monopoly over America's national conversation. Like other unaccountable elites, they are monumentally fickle, self-indulgent, snobbish, vain, vulgar, entitled, incestuous, arrogant, ignorant, unprincipled, hysterical, and demagogic. They sound like a unified chorus for the same reasons that street mobs run as a group -- because by and large, they don't dare to stand alone. Media snobs are always looking over their shoulders to see if they are still singing from the same hymnal as The New York Times. The US media have been one-sidedly Leftist, while piously proclaiming their devotion to impartiality. Thus, they are also institutionally mendacious. Telling the truth is hardly their job. They're just not qualified.

During the Stalin era the New York Times sent Soviet boot-licker Walter Duranty to be its correspondent in Moscow, and after careful reconsideration of his genocide cover-up stories for the Times, for which he received a Pulitzer Prize, the Pinch Sulzberger mob decided that the NYT deserved to keep Duranty's Pulitzer. (As indeed it does; nothing is more revealing than the prizes these frauds keep awarding themselves.)

But we don't have to look all the way back to the 1930s. On any given day, any similarity between the headlines and the most important events of the day is purely coincidental; it's all a matter of "editorial judgment." My local liberal rag just had a page-one color cover of the earthquake tragedy in Peru, taking an estimated 500 lives. That is entirely appropriate. On the same day they blacked out the Al-Qaeda truck bombing of Iraqi Yazidi Kurds, which also took some 500 innocent lives. A natural tragedy receives page one treatment with color photos; a simultaneous mass murder by America's most threatening and savage enemies is stashed away in a dark corner. Our entire national thought process has been twisted as a result.

Who would you say has made the greatest contribution to human welfare in the world in the last half century? Was it Hillary Clinton? Rachel Carson? Bill Gates? A stronger case can be made for Professor Norman Borlaug, the scientist who started and spread the Green Revolution across the world: food plants that are well-adapted to Third World conditions. Professor Borlaug won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts, but sweeter than that must be the hundreds of millions of lives he has saved. Children in India whose parents suffered from repeated famines are growing up today with plenty of protein and vitamins in their diets. They are healthier, taller, and better able to learn, and therefore to educate themselves. India's take-off as an economic power is in important measure due to the Green Revolution. All because of some comparatively unknown guy at Texas A&M.

Mass killers make up the most famous names in history: Attila the Hun, Caligula, Hitler, Napoleon. But few of the famous can claim to have saved lives. Perhaps Louis Pasteur, and of course many unknown scientists and inventors in medicine, agriculture and engineering. But who is celebrated by the Media Mob? Paris Hilton. Dan Rather. Hillary Clinton. The next Democrat for president. None of them have real achievements to their credit. None of them come within miles of Norman Borlaug.

The Big Media just aren't interested in stories of profound human significance. Life-saving scientists are boring, and besides, don't we have too many people walking on the planet already? That's the vaunted "editorial judgment." It reflects the snobbish values of the vulgar Media Mob, and it's utterly subjective and selfish. Mobs don't think. They just hyperventilate at pseudo-scientific superstitions, like Global Warming.

Our country used to have an intellectually varied media. The differences between Alexander Hamilton and Tom Paine are as basic as the difference between Rolling Stone and the Wall Street Journal, and those views were argued out in articulate, printed articles. The US was founded by the most extraordinary intellectual elite we have seen -- Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Washington, Paine, Franklin. They were largely self-taught, and delighted in vigorous political debate. Even when Jacksonian Democracy took over fifty years later, a rich tradition of political debate continued, in good part because thousands of small-town newspapers populated the United States. And many Americans seriously read the great works of Western civilization: Gibbon, Shakespeare, the Bible, the Federalist papers, novels, literate journalism.

There was no centralized intellectual monopoly. Political arguments were often heated, with news sheets flaming each other like the best of the blogs. The newspapers produced geniuses like Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken, both self-taught news writers. Twain may be the foremost American novelist of the 19th century, and Mencken is one of the greatest essayists in the English language. That was before anybody had a degree in journalism.

Things have not improved. The decline of quality media in America can be traced to two things, (1) professionalization of the news business, and (2) a former technological monopoly in electronic and print media. With industrialized technology it became possible for a single ideology to exercise control. Colleges were accredited by bureaucracies, which enforced liberal uniformity where diversity used to flourish. Journalists became careerists, like teachers and other bureaucrats.

Intellectual monopolies can be justified in medicine or sanitary engineering. You can really prove that doctors should wash their hands before touching the patient. Plumbers need to separate the water supply from human wastes. People end up dying if you don't to that; it's a point of fact.

But journalism doesn't thrive on a forced consensus. News conformity is always artificial, a matter of ideological indoctrination, not fact. Indeed, the average newswriter today is a shallow and gullible BA in English, with no knowledge of (or interest in) science, technology, history, economics, international affairs, or politics, nor any practical experience of real human nature. That is why we now have just one single national story line, repeated hundreds of times a day in all the major dailies. It is mental Coca Cola --without the nourishment sugar provides.

It's all very effective; with a more truthful media the Democrats wouldn't stand a chance in electoral politics. The entire American Left owes its existence and power to the Media Mob. And our national dialogue would be saner, better-informed, and more rational. We would have a much healthier world. Until then, a vigorous New Media provide our best hope.


Australia: Useless female police

Men and women are NOT equal. Female police should not be on general duties

PASSERSBY have come to the aid of two female police officers under attack from an allegedly drug-affected man in Sydney's west. The Bankstown constables attended a Woodville Road car dealership at 3pm (AEST) yesterday after receiving reports of a man causing problems. Police said the 28-year-old man became aggressive and violent towards the officers but when they tried to subdue him with capsicum spray, it had no effect on him.

The man, who police believe to have been affected by the drug ice, then allegedly assaulted them and tried to remove one of the constable's guns from her holster. He then pushed the other officer into a parked car, causing her to hit her head and drop her baton which he then picked up. The man was about to strike the officer with the baton when he was restrained by up to 10 passers-by, including one motorist who stopped his vehicle and ran across six lanes of traffic to assist police.

Police arrested the 28-year-old and took him to Bankstown Hospital for psychiatric assessment. It's expected he'll be charged when he is released.

Bankstown Local Area Commander, Superintendent Dave Darcy praised the officers involved for their courage and tenacity and thanked the public who intervened. "This was a particularly nasty incident and could have ended very differently had it not been from the brave intervention of those passers-by," Supt Darcy said. "It's very positive for us to see this courageous show of support from members of our local community."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


22 August, 2007


England is in the middle of a profoundly disturbing social experiment. For the first time in a mature democracy, a Government is waging a campaign of aggressive discrimination against its indigenous population. In the name of cultural diversity, Labour attacks anything that smacks of Englishness.The mainstream public are treated with contempt, their rights ignored, their history trashed.In their own land, the English are being turned into second-class citizens.

This trend was highlighted this week by the case of Abigail Howarth, a bright teenager who applied for a training position with the Environment Agency in East Anglia but was turned down because she was too white and English. The post, which carries a 13,000 pound grant, was open only to ethnic minorities, including the Scots, Welsh and Irish.

Such social engineering was justified by the Agency on the grounds that minorities were under-represented in its workforce, the parrot cry used by bureaucrats throughout the public sector to justify bias against the English.

Though Abigail's case rightly caused outrage, it was not unique. This kind of reverse discrimination is now rife across the state machine, underwritten by the very English tax-payers who are the targets of institutional prejudice.

Although it is technically illegal to restrict jobs to certain ethnic groups, the racially fixated commissars have found a way round that problem by developing training schemes open only to minorities. Under the 1976 Race Relations Act it is permissible to use racial considerations in recruitment to trainee positions such as the one to which Abigail applied.

Such practices are dressed up as "positive action" to widen diversity and, in the words of one Labour council, "to overcome past discrimination".So HM Revenue and Customs offers work experience jobs, worth up to 15,900 pounds a year pro-rata, to ethnic minority graduates, while the Museums Association has two-year ethnic minority apprenticeships.

Similarly, Birmingham City Council gives 16,000 a year to "black and minority ethnic individuals" in its "Positive Action Traineeship Scheme", and a 10,000 pounds allowance to clerical trainees from "the Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities".

Discriminatory training schemes can also be found in ITV, the civil service and the NHS, which boasts "a management development programme specifically designed and tail-ored to the needs of black and minority ethnic midwives".

It was revealed last year that Avon and Somerset Constab-ulary rejected 186 applications from white men on the grounds that they were already "over-represented" in the force. In the same way, London Mayor Ken Livingstone last month refused to endorse a series of nominations for the London Fire Authority because they were dominated by whites.

And whole towns are beginning to suffer state disapproval. Eighty administrative jobs in the Prison Service have recently been transferred from Corby in Northamptonshire to Leicester because, as the Home Office admitted, Corby's population is predominantly "white British", a terrible sin in our multicultural society.

It is a bitter irony that the Labour Government, which works itself into such a synthetic rage over racial prejudice, should practise overt discrimination on an epic scale. The remorseless focus on supporting minorities has led to a perverted ideology of anti-white racism.

Almost every interaction with any public service now leads to a detailed analysis of one's ethnic status. A vast race equality industry has been built up, filled with overpaid paper shufflers, consultants and advisers with little to do except invent new grievances.

There is an air of the Maoist permanent revolution about their activities. Since immigration now runs at probably one million people a year, the make-up of society is changing dramatically. So, in this climate of endless demographic upheaval, the race relations brigade will always be able to invent more work for itself.

Yet anti-English discrimination undermines the central plank of the propaganda for mass immigration. We are constantly told we need vast influxes of foreigners to boost our economy and fill vacancies but unem-ployment levels in immigrant communities are so high and skills so lacking that we need to reserve parts of our economy for them.

So if we have to spend a fortune on training schemes, why are we inviting hundreds of thousands of arrivals from the Third World and Eastern Europe here every year

Economics have little to do with the issue. The Left in Britain have seized on mass immigration and multiculturalism as a battering ram to destroy the society they despise. They once sought to change our country through economic revolution. That failed with the Winter of Discontent and the downfall of communism. But demographic change through migration has proved far more damaging.

George Orwell once wrote: "England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In Left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution." That is now precisely the mentality that predominates within the machinery of the British state. And our country is dying as a result.


How 9/11 shook one Leftist

Drinking in the devastation, numbed and intoxicated by the scale of what had taken place, I struggled, like everyone else, to make sense of it all. And in my case, as with many people from the liberal-left side of the political spectrum, that job was made more difficult by the fact that the United States was the victim. From where I came from, the United States was always the culprit. There was Vietnam, Chile and the dreadful support for repressive and often debauched regimes right across Latin America, Africa and Asia. I was a veteran of CND anti-cruise missile marches in the 1980s. I had gone to Nicaragua to defend the Sandinista cause against American imperialism. America was the bad guy, right? America was always the bad guy.

Clearly some basic moral calculations needed to be performed. Which vision of the world represented more closely my own liberal outlook? The cosmopolitan city of New York, a multi-racial city of opportunity, a town where anyone on earth could arrive and thrive, exuberant, cultured, diverse, a place I had visited and loved for its liberty and energy and excitement? Or the people who attacked it, those arid minds who wanted to remove women from sight, kill homosexuals, banish music, destroy art, the demolishers of the Bamiyan Buddhas who aimed to terrorise everyone they could into submission to the will of their vengeful God? It was, as they say, a no-brainer, or should have been.

But was there not also an obligation to ask if this heinous crime was more complex than it first appeared? That was the progressive instinct: don't be fooled by the mass media, which we all knew was a propaganda industry, look behind the scenes, examine the bigger picture, think about the context, study history. And so if you wanted to consider yourself a member of the thinking classes, it was not enough to recoil in horror, you also had to take into account America's own score sheet in matters of cold blood. 'It's terrible,' was the often heard formulation, 'but....' Did I think there was a but? And if there was a but, could it be any kind of justification for what had taken place? And if it wasn't a justification, what was the point of the but? Was it there to show one's even-handedness and sense of fair play? Or purely for decoration? I knew right from the first second where my emotional sympathies were located but what was my intellectual position?

What helped guide me to the answer was the alternative analysis, the 'It's terrible, but' in which the 'It's terrible' was the decorative part of the equation. A number of commentaries that articulated this response quickly began to appear in different newspapers. Perhaps the most indignant came, with impressive alacrity, on 13 September in my daily newspaper, the voice of liberal Britain, the Guardian. 'Nearly two days after the horrific suicide attacks on civilian workers in New York and Washington,' wrote Seumas Milne, 'it has become painfully clear that most Americans simply don't get it... Shock, rage and grief there has been aplenty. But any glimmer of recognition of why people might have been driven to carry out such atrocities, sacrificing their own lives in the process - or why the United States is hated with such bitterness, not only in Arab and Muslim countries, but across the developing world - seems almost entirely absent.'

One doesn't need to work for a newspaper - though it probably helps - to realise that Milne was underselling his own speed of analytical thought. To get his piece published on the 13th meant that he would have needed to have completed it by around 6pm or 7pm on the 12th. Allowing for its considered tone, which must have been the product of several hours of sober reflection, it would be fair to assume that he would have begun writing it, at the latest, at around 2pm. In other words, at about 9am New York time. That left the Americans a whole 24 hours to absorb the shock, deal with the grief and then move on to some cold, hard self-criticism. And they flunked it.

Milne's savaging of American self-absorption was the most conspicuous example of an attitude that could be heard in plenty of sophisticated conversations, or should I say conversations between sophisticated people, and read in a number of left or liberal publications.

What all these reactions had in common, I realised, was not complexity but simplicity. For all of them this was an issue of the powerless striking back at the powerful, the oppressed against the oppressor, the rebels against the imperialists. It was Han Solo and Luke Skywalker taking on the Death Star. There was no serious attempt to examine what kind of power the powerless wanted to assume, or over whom they wanted to exercise it, and no one thought to ask by what authority these suicidal killers had been designated the voice of the oppressed. It was enough that Palestinians had danced in the West Bank. The scale of the suffering, the innocence of the victims and the aims of the perpetrators barely seemed to register in many of the comments. Was this a sign of shock or complacency? Or was it something else, a kind of atrophying of moral faculties, brought on by prolonged use of fixed ideas, that prevented the sufferer from recognising a new paradigm when it arrived, no matter how spectacular its announcement?

In the end I reached the conclusion that 11 September had already brutally confirmed: there were other forces, far more malign than America, that lay in wait in the world. But having faced up to the basic issue of comparative international threats, could I stop the political reassessment there? If I had been wrong about the relative danger of America, could I be wrong about all the other things I previously held to be true? I tried hard to suppress this thought, to ring-fence the global situation, grant it exceptional status and keep it in a separate part of my mind. I had too much vested in my image of myself as a 'liberal'. I had bought into the idea, for instance, that all social ills stemmed from inequality and racism. I knew that crime was solely a function of poverty. That to be British was cause for shame, never pride. And to be white was to bear an unshakable burden of guilt.

I held the view, or at least was unprepared to challenge it, that it was wrong to single out any culture for censure, except, of course, Western culture, which should be admonished at every opportunity. I was confident, too, that Israel was the source of most of the troubles in the Middle East. These were non-negotiables for any right-thinking decent person. I couldn't question these received wisdoms without questioning my own identity. And I had grown too comfortable with seeing myself as one of the good guys, the well-meaning people, to want to do anything that upset that image. I viewed myself as understanding, and to maintain that self-perception it was imperative that I didn't try to understand myself.

In a sense 11 September was the ultimate mugging, a murderous assertion of a new reality, or rather a reality that already existed but which we preferred not to see. Over the years I had absorbed a notion of liberalism that was passive, defeatist, guilt-ridden. Feelings of guilt governed my world view: post-colonial guilt, white guilt, middle-class guilt, British guilt. But if I was guilty, 9/11 shattered my innocence. More than anything it challenged us all to wake up and open our eyes to what was real. It took me far too long to meet that challenge. For while I realised almost straight away that 9/11 would change the world, it would be several years before I accepted that it had also changed me. I had been wrong. This was MY story, after all.


British Gangs are a response to an abdication of legitimate authority

What are the reasons behind the spate of murders by feral gangs of youths? And can we as a society do anything about it? For my report on the care system, I spent last year interviewing young men who, as Norman Brennan, director of the Victims of Crime Trust, said, "put a knife in their pockets as routinely as they pull on their trainers in the morning". Drugs and alcohol are merely the symptoms of a deeper problem. Too many young men suffer from an absence of authority at home, in school and on the street. We have created a moral vacuum around our young people. We should not be surprised at how they fill it.

Young boys join gangs, they told me, because they are afraid. There is nobody else to protect them, certainly no responsible adult. "You don't start off as a killer," said a 19-year-old gang leader, "but you get bullied on the street. So you go to the gym and you end up a fighter, a violent person. All you want is for them to leave you alone but they push you and push you." Another boy aged 13 explained that in his area boys "would do anything" to join a gang. If they join a gang with "a big name" people will "look at them differently, be scared of them".

The police and the Home Office have not taken crimes against young people seriously because they do not know they are happening. The British Crime Survey, described by the Home Office on its website as "the most reliable measure of crime" does not include crimes against anyone under 16.

The Home Office admits that young men aged 16-24 are most at risk of being a victim of violent crime. But only at the beginning of this year did a Freedom of Information request to each of the 43 police forces reveal that four out of 10 muggings are committed by children under 16 - and that is only the ones reported. How can protecting young people on the streets take priority when the Home Office does not acknowledge the number of crimes against them? It is no wonder one young gang member said, "There's no one to look after me but me." He is quite right.

It is the same story in the majority of inner-city schools. As a mother of a 14-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl I know that young men are a different species to the rest of us. In times of war we value their aggression, their sense of immortality, their loyalty to one another. But in peacetime they are at best a nuisance, at worst a threat. Teenage boys need different treatment to girls to become responsible members of society. They need a role model. When my son was about nine he became resentful of his young female teachers. He had no respect for them. He then moved to his middle school where most of his teachers were male. The change was dramatic. Suddenly it was all, "Sir says this and sir says that." In state primary schools 80% of teachers are female.

I am lucky. I can afford to send my son to a private school. The discipline, pastoral care and academic rigour do a good job at counterbalancing parental failings. Compare his experience with that of boys in the inner cities. Those with a chaotic family life need school to be a refuge and a contrast. Even more than middle-class boys with a stable background, they need school to provide authority, moral leadership and an outlet for their aggression. It should be giving boys what they need to thrive: discipline, sport and a group with which to identify. Instead what do they get?

My son does one to two hours of sport a day with a match on Saturday. He is so exhausted by the evening he can barely pick up a knife to eat, let alone stab anyone. State schools, by contrast, offer only one hour of sport a week. Then teachers wonder why adolescent boys play up and have difficulty concentrating on lessons. When boys look around for a group to join, too often it is not a school sports team but the local gang. With their hierarchy and strict discipline, street gangs are nothing more than a distorted mirror image of the house system common in private schools where loyalty and team effort are all important. As one young gang leader chillingly told me, "You have to know the people, you have to trust the people, because you do everything together. When you stab, you stab together."

Then instead of authority and leadership, boys in state schools too often find themselves taught by teachers ashamed of their values. One young man teaching in a school in a deprived area in the northeast said his "main focus" was not to offend his pupils. "I don't want to push my middle-class values on them," he explained earnestly. When a pupil described his hopes for the future, stacking shelves in the local supermarket, "I pointed out the many positive aspects of the job - meeting people and so forth." There was little attempt by the school, he admitted, to provide pastoral care or raise pupils' expectations. He saw no link between this and his No 1 problem - pupil apathy.

It is not surprising that teenage boys are, as a recent report from the Bow Group think tank points out, "the main cause of the discipline crisis in our schools". A "cotton-wool culture" and lack of competitive sport means one in five aged 13 or 14 were suspended from school last year. They are four times more likely than girls to be expelled from school and 2 times more likely to be suspended. The result is catastrophic for them and for society. At 14, one in five boys has a reading ability of a pupil half his age and at 16, a quarter of boys - almost 90,000 - do not gain a single GCSE at grade C or above. For members of the general public such as Garry Newlove the implications are more serious. Three out of 10 murders are done with a sharp instrument. The most likely person to be equipped with a knife is a boy aged 14-19. And the most likely of all is an excluded school boy.

We have failed to provide a safe, disciplined and principled environment in which young people can relax, find themselves and channel their best efforts. Instead we have relegated many of them to a ghetto of violence and despair. The results stare us in the face.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


21 August, 2007

The anti-elitist pose of the elites

It's defensive, it's camouflage and it leads only to dumbing down

We are told we live in an anti-elitist age. We no longer accept the word of the old elites such as newspaper editors who handed down tablets of stone in the past. Instead we have a blogosphere that we create. Indeed, the old elites seem rather nervous, on the back foot, humble in our wake, especially in front of the young. At a big launch event for the 2012 Olympics in London attended by all the great and the good, one of the most powerful and key members of the elite in London, Keith Khan, head of culture for the 2012 Olympics and chief executive of London arts centre Rich Mix, turned to a group of teenagers in the front row and told them earnestly, "I have got to learn from you." What's more, he meant it.

We are told that this is the end of deference, and not being one for being deferential, that should appeal to me. But I've got serious reservations about today's anti-elitism, and as Khan's sycophancy suggests, anti-elitist deference is just as distasteful as more traditional subservience.

And while it is always an attractive idea to someone like me to give a metaphorical kicking to the elites -- especially those in Britain with their old school ties and their class and privilege who snobbishly conclude that they naturally merit access to the best of education, arts and culture while the rest of us can rot on the sidelines -- in truth, contemporary anti-elitism is not the answer to such prejudice. In fact, there is nothing attractive about contemporary anti-elitism. By its terms I'm regularly branded with the elitist tag.

In Britain I have been accused of elitism for defending expertise and for arguing that authority gained from acquired insights and knowledge is more insightful than subjective prejudices: doctors really do know more than their patients; teachers really do know more than their pupils. I have been called an elitist for arguing against the proposition that J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books are as good as Jane Austen's, or for arguing that Beethoven is superior music to hip-hop. And I've been called an elitist for arguing that degrees in media studies, golf studies and tourism are not as rigorous as degrees in physics, English literature or the classics.

In other words, you can be branded an elitist if you don't buy the fashion for cultural relativism, that pernicious orthodoxy that refuses to distinguish between the second-rate and the excellent. Contemporary anti-elitism is a con and at its heart lies a real scorn for ordinary people, dressed up in the language of democratisation. It reflects a crisis about the elites' role in society and their failure to inspire or have anything to offer ordinary people. It is the elites and establishment organisations who often champion anti-elitism. They are constantly trying to suck up to ordinary people. There are British institutions that are rebranding themselves as we speak to become more "relevant", their new logos invariably featuring graffiti-style graphics, their mission statements suddenly written in street-cred language.

The Church of England recently decided its image was too elitist and announced plans to hold services everywhere from skateboarding parks to pubs and cafes. It is the elites that spend all their time chasing after us, trying to include us, empower us, listen to us. In Britain, politicians are consulting the electors daily on what policies they should adopt. MPs have been told to set up blogs. Researchers from mainstream political policy circles proudly boast they read Facebook on the internet every day to see what we are interested in. It feels like stalking!

Kevin Rudd isn't the only one flirting with young people on YouTube. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown listens to Arctic Monkeys on his iPod, as he gives government grants to local authorities with the requirement that they consult young people about what they think about council services and initiatives. Every government green paper has a youth version (think big writing and lots of cartoons), and there are youth parliaments and shadow youth councils everywhere.

Another institution that has declared war on elitism is the BBC, which seems to be having a bit of a nervous breakdown and an extended bout of self-loathing, worried that it is too distant from its viewers and listeners. In recent years it has commissioned numerous reports and internal reviews that have concluded that the BBC comprises middle-aged men in suits and is too metropolitan, middle class, white, elite and distant to appeal to the majority. As a result there is a big initiative to give viewers the right to answer back. And you have the ludicrous situation in which chief political editor Nick Robinson is told to blog daily and use such rambling, ill-informed bar-room responses from viewers as "an important part of developing his judgments".

Time magazine, one of the most elite, old-school journalism outfits around, has had its prestigious person of the year award since the 1920s. Winners have included Nelson Mandela, Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, Bono, George W. Bush and even Adolf Hitler. You get the gist: they are people of substance. Last December they put a mirror on the cover of the Person of the Year issue, literally reflecting the fact that YOU and I had won the coveted award "because it is you, not us, who are transforming the information age", "wresting power from the few", and "democratising the web for 'the people"'.

It has become de rigueur at every policy event in the arts/media/politics to have a youth speaker. Some hapless 16-year-old stands up and gives some rather mediocre speech and gets rapturous applause and a standing ovation regardless of what they say. Of course, they are not applauded for what they say; they are simply being patted on the back for being young and being there.

And these fawning adults are using these children as a stage army to ensure their institution is in touch. The obvious point is that teenage speakers are often self-indulgent, banal, derivative and cliched, but why wouldn't they be, they are teenagers. That wouldn't matter if the adults didn't tell them their views were interesting regardless. The problem here is not the teenagers but the spinelessness of a sycophantic elite.

In Britain there has been a major overhaul of science in the general certificate of secondary education exam to make the curriculum more relevant and partly because too many students have been failing physics, biology and chemistry. And in anti-elitist Britain, you cannot have pupils failing! The authorities justified these changes by citing a national survey that asked pupils why they were failing and the majority said they thought physics and the hard sciences were "dull and boring". So the Education Department took these 15 and 16-year-olds at their word and reformed the curriculum to create the 21st-century science course that wouldn't be dull and boring. Out went periodic tables of elements and the structure of the atom or anything too abstract, and in came modules on mobile phones, healthy eating and the drugs debate.

But while cannabis may be more fascinating to teenagers than quadratic equations, letting the immature, philistine opinions of teenagers dictate education policy is obviously worrying. I'm not blaming the pupils. The tragedy is that these views are wheeled out and cited by adults who should know better. It is supposed to be an example of the great anti-elitist education revolution when, in fact, it is the institutionalisation of ignorance.

Among the worst culprits to have bought into the anti-elitism orthodoxy are the museums and the heritage world. Curators, scholars with specialist knowledge derived from incessantly studying the Ming dynasty or Egyptology, are now packed off on re-education courses in audience development, participation and access. Now every museum has invited everyone from the homeless to people from old folks' homes to curate their own history by donating objects that "mean the most to you". Heritage has been rebranded as "personal place-making". The Heritage Lottery Fund has a "your heritage" project, and English Heritage has a "my heritage" project. It will be the punters who define what should be part of heritage. One major report suggests that "historic properties should consult with local communities and visitors, as well as those who do not visit, about what they would like to experience in order in increase their relevance to everyone". But seriously, how will people know what they would like to experience after the leaders of the heritage industry have abandoned trying to introduce the public to anything unfamiliar in case it alienates them?

There is a similar story back at the BBC where the head of television news, Peter Horrocks, confessed in a speech to the Reuters Institute last year that some broadcasters of his generation went into TV to produce "journalism that would change people's understanding of the world and shape the views of the audience". That sounds like an admirable aspiration but for Peter and his peers it is a mea culpa because they have abandoned trying to shape audience's views. They are too busy chasing them. Like the rest of the elite, they have lost faith in their own mission and, worse than that, they have no faith in us, the public, and our capacity to be stretched.

In anti-elitist news, every issue, however complex, has a simplistic explanation. The big stories are accompanied by a video wall of flashy graphics and quirky camera angles in case we get bored. It's as though we have the attention span of gnats. I'm not making it up, they really do think the majority of people are stupid. In their own reports, we are told that the majority (the working class) would be put off by professionally detached presenters. We are told that this socio-economic group will relate better to news if it is presented by an emotional, "your-heart-goes-out-to-them" style. With stories told in accents that audiences recognise, presented by I'm-your-friend-matey journalists.

It reveals a gross caricature at the heart of the anti-elitist agenda, that the working classes are incapable of thinking or analysing and can only feel and empathise. The noble savage is back in fashion. Without admitting it, the anti-elitist elite is saying the higher reaches of cultural ideas could not possibly be of interest to most people, so there is no point in offering them these things.

In Jonathan Rose's book The Intellectual Life of the British Working Class, a wonderful study of 19th-century autodidacts and the early workers' education movement, a cowman's son, on discovering the joy of literature, declares "it was like coming up from the bottom of the ocean and seeing the universe for the first time". In today's anti-elitist culture, we would probably leave this agricultural worker on the seabed and give him a hand-held camera to film himself and then broadcast it on BBC News. We'd tell him not to bother reading at all and that his natural aptitude for cowherding was just as valuable as any skill in literature, and having deprived him of those elitist novels, we would then give him a degree in rustic studies.


Australia's Leftist leader gets the Bill Clinton treatment

Women's groups refuse to criticise behaviour in Kevin Rudd that they normally deplore. If he had been a conservative, they would have been shrieking to high heaven. Some of the nightclub "girls" below

Voters were divided yesterday on the moral and political implications of Kevin Rudd's admission that he went to a strip club one drunken evening in New York four years ago. But his Labor colleagues - including deputy party leader Julia Gillard - remained tight-lipped on their leader's September 2003 outing. "He's acknowledged he made an error, and I think that's all that needs to be said about it," Ms Gillard said. Opposition spokeswoman on women Tanya Plibersek did not return calls yesterday.

One male frontbencher, who did not wish to be named, said the story could work in Mr Rudd's favour. "It might humanise him a bit. People see him as too much the bookworm and diplomat," he said.

Women's organisations and church groups remained particularly silent on Mr Rudd's night out. "If we hanged every bloke who was stupid, there wouldn't be many left," National Foundation for Australian Women spokeswoman Marie Coleman said. Women's Electoral Lobby spokeswoman and prominent feminist Eva Cox said Mr Rudd had a generally good attitude towards women. "It's not something that represents his usual behaviour," she said. [Fat old Eva Cox nee Hauser -- pic below -- is far to the Left so her defence of a Leftist from behind her thick glasses is to be expected. I gather that Cox cleared out years ago but she still uses his surname. A strange feminist!]

Labor strategist Bruce Hawker said he did not think Mr Rudd - a staunch Christian - would lose popularity among voting women. "People, whether they be women or men, aren't going to be particularly fussed about this," Mr Hawker said. "I think people are much more concerned about how the parties' policies are going to affect them. "I don't think he's demonstrated anything that can be construed as bad character."


Australia: Muslims feel cut off, left isolated by fear

The poor little petals! They are probably projecting their own hostility onto others -- or maybe it's just guilt at being part of such a hostile and destructive religion

FEAR is isolating Australian Muslims, leading to distrust of the Government and driving them outside the country in their search for information and community, the first national fear survey has found. The survey set out to look at how Australians viewed their safety after the events of September 11. 2001 but the pilot study found Muslim reacted very differently to the wider population. "The trial was quite stark," said Mark Balnaves, of Edith Cowan University, who co-authored the nationwide survey. As a result of the early indicators, Muslims, who make up 1.5 per cent of the population, were treated as a special sample, to clarify the early results. [It's not the first time they were given specially favourable treatment either]

"For Muslims it wasn't a generalised fear," he said. "Where non-Muslim Australians may have a fear of travel on planes, Muslims had a fear of going out of the house, of going out into the community. "There is a fear of government, distrust of the media and the [consequent] closure of the [Muslim] community is quite worrying," Professor Balnaves said. The research showed that Muslims were much more likely to have kept the "Be Alert Not Alarmed" packs and had a sense of needing to defend Australia. "Then they realised they might be the very people who were seen as a threat," he said.

Kuranda Seyit, the head of the Forum on Australian Islamic Relations, said mainstream Muslims were a little more cautious about going to public events, but it was not going to stop them going about their business. "With young Muslims, the level of fear is lower, but they are more upset with what is going on. The older generation are more fearful," Mr Seyit said. He knew of people anglicising their names to avoid discrimination when applying for jobs.

The survey comes as Pauline Hanson and another would-be Queensland senator, James Baker, promised to campaign on the issue of Muslim immigration. Mr Baker proposed banning Muslim immigration for 10 years and putting other measures in place "to ensure Australia's Muslim population is in no doubt we mean business in stopping extremist attacks". Those measures included revocation of citizenship and deportations of the families of convicted immigrant terrorists and suicide bombers.

The interviews, where anonymity was guaranteed, revealed Muslims were suspicious of connections between government and the media, believing the media may be controlled by the Government. "So they are going to extreme sources, outside Australia," Professor Balnaves said. "To Al Manar [the Hezbollah-backed website], to blog sites with groups that would be counted as highly radical" in search of information they see as less biased against Muslims.

The fear, which has led to a loss of trust in their own society, has policy implications for the government, Professor Balnaves said. "If they end up being a ghettoised community, they will end up with psychological consequences in these communities. They are very careful now about what goes public and very concerned about their own safety going out in public," he said.

The National Fear Survey, funded by the Australian Research Council, interviewed 750 participants and covered urban, regional and rural areas. Its aim was to help the Federal Government in policy deliberations on how to assist communities that are in fear.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


20 August, 2007

The gender gap that's ignored

Post below lifted from Don Surber. See the original for links

The "gender gap" is an urban legend that holds that women do not make as much money as men because of sex discrimination. Dr. Helen took a swipe at that today, posting:

The article stated that only 32 percent of women ages 25-34 clock 35 or more hours per week. Apparently, part-time work and flexible work are important to women as 80% of women polled say they'd take extended time off to care for family in the future. Perhaps some of what we call unequal pay, particularly as women get older is the choice of many women to take off time to raise families, a noble endeavor.
Another factor is danger. Risk is rewarded in America. Men dominate the occupations with the highest job-related fatalities. They pay better. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that on-the-job fatalities fell from 4.0 per 100,000 workers to 3.9 in 2006. But

Fishermen died at a rate of 141.7 per 100,000 workers.
Pilots died at a rate of 87.8.
Loggers 82.3.
Structural iron and steel workers 61.0.
Refuse collectors 41.8.
Farmers and ranchers 37.1.
Power linemen 34.9.
Roofers 33.9.
Drivers 27.1.
Agricultural workers 21.7.
Even after losing a dozen men at Sago, mining did not make the top 10. While there are women in these occupations, 92% of the people who died on the job last year were male. 92%.

In short, men are nearly 12 times as likely to die on the job as women are. That is a gender gap no one talks much about.

Nipple Nazis strike again

Post below lifted from JD Tuccille. See the original for links

Says ABC News:

New York City's hospitals have banned infant formula from their gift bags for new mothers - a policy that they hope will encourage nursing and healthier babies. ...

In New York City's $2 million plan, new mothers will each be given a breast-milk bottle cooler, disposable nursing pads, breast-feeding tips and a baby T-shirt with the slogan, "I Eat at Mom's."

Coaches will work with mothers to begin breast-feeding within the first hour after birth. Mothers will also receive free breast pumps and, for those whose babies remain in the hospital, electric breast pumps.

My initial reaction to this is a rush of sympathy for all of the exhausted and overwhelmed new mothers subject to a hard-sell official campaign to get them to breast-feed. My wife tried breast-feeding our son at the beginning, but she couldn't get him to latch on properly and she had a pediatric practice screaming for the return of her administrative attention and medical skills. Pretty quickly, we opted for formula. Wendy felt guilty enough about the decision without other people laying a guilt trip on her.

Even so, some of the lactation evangelists tried to lean on her; as a local pediatrician, she was able to shut them down with a glare. Ever since, she's been supportive of whatever feeding options parents choose, so long as the kids get the nutrition they need to keep going. Sometimes that means breast milk; other times it means formula.

But through my wife's experiences, and the experiences of many of her patients' mothers, it's clear to me that some people adhere to breast-feeding with a nearly theological zeal. They're perfectly willing to go beyond touting the benefits of breast-feeding and actually attack parents who choose to feed their kids formula. They'll tell outrageous scare stories and question moms' and dads' love for their children if they don't agree that "breast is best" and, in some cases, keep the kids on the nipple until they're ready for school.

I'm not kidding. Now the Church of the Tit has become a state religion for some government-owned hospitals. That's unfortunate news for mothers who find breast-feeding too difficult or impractical given the demands of work and life. They'll be subject to the attention of missionaries who have little tolerance for free-thinking when it comes the core issue of their religion. In the name of constructive heresy, I hope somebody smuggles a few cases of formula into those hospitals.

Leftist fantasies about Australian blacks finally slide into irrelevance

By Christopher Pearson

LAST year, some of The Australian's commentators contributed essays to a book called The Howard Factor, published by Melbourne University Press. I wrote a piece on the culture wars. Its main focus was on the ways John Howard's opponents have - with varying degrees of success - deployed the zeitgeist and its values against him and how he, in turn, has defied, neutralised or harnessed the spirit of the age to his own advantage and, in doing so, helped to change it.

The spirit of the age is fickle and ever-changing. How politicians manage to position themselves in relation to it and contribute to the dynamics by which it changes are not simple matters. But it seems to me that one of the most useful markers in the ebb and flow of Australian politics is the contest for the high moral ground on Aboriginal policy. In the book, I argued that the Hindmarsh Island affair had been a significant paradigm shift. Labor, under the leadership of Paul Keating, had committed itself to a brand of symbolic politics: backing without question a sacred site claim based on "secret women's business" that couldn't be divulged to any man. The Coalition realised the claim was not based on any ancient tradition and, as the Stevens royal commission in due course found, had been fabricated for political convenience in the mid-1990s.

The ACTU, the ABC, the Fairfax press, the Australian Council of Churches, the minor parties and the conservation movement all strenuously asserted the unquestionable validity of the claim, at vast but largely unconsidered risk to their own reputations. Then four female elders of the Ngarrinjeri tribe came forward to support the anthropological record, denying the claim's authenticity and testifying that the story had originally come from a group of men, some of them white.

It was immediately apparent that the high moral ground belonged to the dissident women and that the claim's supporters, long accustomed to hegemony on indigenous issues, had forfeited it. This only made them shriller as they went into a protracted state of denial, while public opinion turned against a government reckless enough to accept on trust an obviously problematic claim that couldn't, viewed on its own terms, be properly tested or falsified.

There is a perennial tendency for suburban Australia at large - and the soft Left in particular - to romanticise Aborigines and their cultures. Many of the same people also tend to pride themselves on being pragmatic and sceptical and to resent any perceived attempt to trespass on their good nature or dupe them. During the Hindmarsh Island saga, the claim's supporters continually insisted that Aboriginal people would never lie about sacred traditions and for anyone to say otherwise was racist and an assault on indigenous culture. Because in this instance the accusations of racism and cultural insensitivity were rhetorical strategies for evading the crux of the matter - a fabricated claim - the charges suddenly lost a lot of the force with which the zeitgeist had previously invested them.

Two other Aboriginal issues, the report into the so-called stolen generations and the Peter Gunner and Lorna Cubillo case, characterised the changed landscape of the Howard ascendancy. The report was an exercise in advocacy research, designed to create a climate in which a large class of claimants could expect automatic compensation for having been removed from the care of their mothers by the state. It didn't clarify the various categories of removal, from benign welfare intervention at one extreme to draconian enforcement of assimilation policy at the other, and most of the evidence it gathered was untested and anecdotal.

None of these flaws might have proved fatal had it not been for its authors' ill-considered use of the term genocide. Perhaps every generation is susceptible to being flattered into imagining that it is more enlightened than its forebears. But most of us are also level-headed enough to know that we aren't the repositories of all wisdom and can remember enough about our grandparents and their cohort to know that they weren't monsters. The invitation to agree that policies in force as recently as the early '60s could reasonably be described as genocidal was a counterproductive affront to the common sense of the general public, and was widely resented as such.

Having lost the battle in the court of public opinion, the white activists espousing compensation for separated children proceeded in slow motion to lose the two court battles that were meant to be test cases. Normally, such cases would be chosen on the basis that they exemplified the problems associated with child removal and the justice of claims on the state to compensate victims of bad public policy. The Gunner-Cubillo case didn't succeed. Few observers expected it to do so because both instances were easily justified as welfare interventions and there was clear evidence that Gunner's mother had consented to his removal.

By way of an overview, what was happening in Aboriginal policy debate was that there was an increasing disparity between the grand narratives put forward to embody the old rights, reconciliation and self-determination agenda on the one hand and, on the other, the facts in the actual cases. There had always been gaps between the rhetoric and the reality, but they grew to the point where the oratory was no longer sustainable.

Not surprisingly, the first people to understand that dilemma were the younger Aboriginal activists who intuited that, while some people would accept at face value almost anything they were told, rhetorical incoherence was a disaster when it came to persuading middle Australia. Noel Pearson and Warren Mundine in particular saw that a conservative critique of passive welfare and the rights agenda, which focused instead on individual and collective responsibilities, was long overdue, as well as a way of regaining the attention of a federal government and an electorate that were increasingly sceptical and conservative in their thinking.

Although Pearson and Mundine are in some sense men of the Left and Mundine is a former national president of the ALP, both have recognised the damaging consequences of the Left's capture of indigenous issues. They see land rights as important, but want individuals as well as collectivities to hold title to land. They want their people to participate in the real economy and children to get a regular education, neither of which are high on the Left's wish list. Their most urgent priority is effective intervention in those dysfunctional communities where normlessness, violence and the rivers of grog hold sway. The emphasis has moved from self-determination to revisiting the fundamentals of self-control and adult responsibility.

Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott, a long-time supporter of Pearson's work on the ground in Cape York, began a rhetorical bridge-building exercise by calling for "a new paternalism" that addressed problems such as the epidemic of physical violence and sexual abuse involving Aboriginal children. Although commentators on the Left were predictably dismissive, Pearson responded by saying he had no doubt that the terrified kids, huddling in corridors during all-night binge-drinking parties and then too tired to attend school, were entitled to a little more paternalism in their lives.

Two months ago, the federal Government finally lost all patience with Northern Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin's dilatory response to the Little Children are Sacred report and decided to implement a planned intervention in the NT that had been under longstanding consideration. The passage of 500 pages of legislation through the House of Representatives in a day, with barely a dissenting murmur from the political class, shows how comprehensively the zeitgeist has changed.

Pivotal to the passing of the bills were the cumulative effect of Pearson's columns in Inquirer and Mundine's last-minute interventions to stare down a number of Aboriginal spokesmen and the Left of the ALP. Mundine noted, on the eve of the debate, that "many of today's outspoken indigenous leaders had held positions of responsibility while widespread child abuse was taking place and the first task of leadership was to accept responsibility". He also said that he was disgusted by those who described the Government's intervention as an invasion and called on Labor's Left to get real and support the plan. "Some people are caught up in the politics of the past. Everything we've done in the past hasn't worked. I like the intervention because we are putting people's power bases aside and ensuring infrastructure is going in there. We need to ensure these communities are functioning. There's nothing human rights about living in poverty."


Another un-Catholic school district

The recently approved Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace regulations for the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) include the protection of same-sex partnership despite the fact that such relationships expressly contradict Catholic Church teaching. On May 2 the TCDSB approved the new regulations against discrimination and harassment, stating at the same time that the board is committed to "providing a safe and welcoming environment that is an example of Christian Community". In addition, the board "gives pre-eminence to the tenets of Roman Catholicism."

Discrimination is defined as "unfair treatment" based on a list of qualities such as race, sex, colour, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, marital status, age, disability, citizenship, family status or religion. The list now includes "same sex partner status" and "sexual orientation." The regulations apply to all "Board employees, contract employees, volunteers and trustees who are employed by or perform functions for the Toronto Catholic District School Board."

Commenting on the 2007 Discrimination and Harassment policy, Fr. Alphonse de Valk, editor of Catholic Insight Magazine, told LifeSiteNews.com, "The school board should immediately reverse itself and reject this document. Homosexual activists should never be teachers in Catholic schools. It's as simple as that. Now, if the board will not change its stance on active homosexuality, it will mean the end of Catholic schools." "The justification of homosexual marriage and thereby also the justification of homosexual activity is a huge threat against the Catholic schools. They are both directly contrary to Catholic teaching. The bishops must step in. The trustees as well must meet immediately to take steps to help reverse this decision."

Neil McCarthy, spokesman for Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins, said that he could not officially comment on the new harassment policy until the TCDSB had been contacted. TCDSB Chair Oliver Carroll, however, did not reply to phone calls. Trustee Angela Kennedy told LifeSiteNews that she would look into the matter, but she did not reply by press time.

Also published on the TCDSB website, is a 2006 protocol agreement between the Toronto Police and the TCDSB for "Bullyproofing" schools. The protocol defines "Hate-and/or Biased-Motivated Incidents" as including "literature, leaflets, posters, graffiti distributed (or sent by electronic means) to incite violence or hatred against an identifiable group and/or their property." These groups may include "persons distinguished by their race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or other similar factor." Such "hate incidents" are numbered among the list of offences that require police response.

The protocol and the new board policy are both part of a growing tolerance in Canadian Catholic schools towards active homosexuality. The approval comes shortly after a series of discoveries that certain Catholic schools in Ontario were stocking their shelves with books and videos that advocated an active homosexual lifestyle. It also follows on the heels of the BC government's approval of a new, gay-friendly curriculum that will be implemented this fall.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


19 August, 2007

Islamic Charity Drops Suit Against Terrorism Analyst

Post below lifted from Jihad Watch. See the original for links

Legal intimidation fails again. "Charity Drops Suit Against Terrorism Analyst," by Josh Gerstein in the New York Sun:

A children's charity that funnels money to Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon, Kinder USA, has dropped a libel suit it brought against a prominent terrorism analyst who suggested that the group was funding a terrorist organization, Hamas. In April, Kinder USA, formally known as Kids in Need of Development, Education, and Relief, Inc., sued Matthew Levitt over a brief passage about the group in his book, "Hamas: Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad." The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, also named the book's publisher, Yale University Press, and Mr. Levitt's employer from 2001 to 2005, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

On Tuesday, Kinder USA moved to withdraw the case with prejudice, meaning it cannot be refiled.

"I conducted three years of careful research for Hamas, and the book was the subject of academic peer review," Mr. Levitt said in a statement issued yesterday by the Washington Institute, which he returned to this year after a stint as a top Treasury Department official. "I am pleased that this suit has been dismissed with prejudice, vindicating my free speech rights."

In the passage that led to the suit, Mr. Levitt wrote: "Even after the closure of the Holy Land Foundation in 2001, other America-based charities continue to fund Hamas. One organization that has appeared to rise out of the ashes of the HLFRD is Kinder USA." ......

"We view this early, voluntary, and full dismissal as a complete victory," the executive director of the Washington Institute, Robert Satloff, said. The defendants said no payments or promises were made to Kinder USA. Mr. Levitt, a former terrorism analyst for the FBI, lectures widely on terrorism financing issues. Last month, he testified at a criminal trial in which federal prosecutors have accused officers of the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation of being a front for Hamas.

The real practitioners of genocide today are Muslims

Throughout most of the Muslim world, in madrassas and mosques, in the press and on television, with hardly a voice countering the calumnies, the United States is charged, tried and convicted as the world's modern leader in genocide aimed at Muslims. President Bush, supported by his accomplice Israel, supposedly leads this Muslim massacre. America is berated for heinous crimes, minimizing whatever may have been done by the regimes of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein and, currently, Sudanese President and Field Marshal Omar al-Bashir.

This propaganda campaign seeks to distract the world's attention from the real murderers, the true ethnic and religious cleansers. For the truth is, the perpetrators to an overwhelming degree are the Muslims themselves. Simultaneously, the accusations are calculated to inflame the credulous Arab/Muslim street, in order to justify murderous Muslim terrorism, to recruit gullible suicide bombers and to attract covert support from Saudi Arabia, once a stalwart U.S. ally.

Statistics from publicly available sources decimate what fanatical Islamists are telling the world about the two terrible, sadistic "Satans" and reveal that Muslims have slaughtered millions of their fellow Muslims, for political, religious or ethnic reasons. Not incidentally, this frightening phenomenon is a principal danger in premature U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

In Indonesia, with the world's largest Muslim population, 400,000 were murdered in 1965-66. Adding East Timor, between 1975 and 1999, another 100,000 to 200,000 Muslims and Christians were killed by the Indonesian army.

The Bangladeshi fight for independence from Pakistan in 1971 led to between 1.4 million and 2 million Muslims deaths.

In Somalia's long-running civil war, at least 550,000 Muslims have perished. Just one 1988 aerial bombardment ordered by dictator Siad Barre flattened Somaliland's regional capital, Hargeisa, and slaughtered 50,000.

Sudanese Muslim regimes have conducted 50 years of genocide in the south of blacks, Nubians and other Muslims, resulting in 2.6 million to 3 million fatalities, including 2.4 million civilian deaths, with Darfur the current killing field.

In Afghanistan, the Soviet Union's 1979 invasion and subsequent occupation produced between 1 million and 1.5 million civilian Muslim murders over 10 years, plus another 90,000 Mujahedeen and Taliban fighters, equally split between Soviet and warring Muslim factions.

The American invasion in 2001 created perhaps 10,000 fatalities, interrupting the estimated 1.2 million additional deaths generated by Muslim militias' protracted civil war following Soviet withdrawal. The Taliban's current one-by-one assassinations of two dozen Korean Christian aid workers are a ghastly exception from routine murders of fellow Afghan Muslims.

In Iraq, the 1980-88 war with Iran produced more than 1.5 million Muslim deaths. Saddam's endless domestic purges added another million, mostly Shia and Kurd deaths. The current Sunni-Shia confrontation is estimated to have caused another 100,000 deaths to date.

Neighboring Iran suffered between 450,000 and 970,000 deaths during the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war, plus unknown thousands of dissidents killed by Iran's secret police since 1979.

In Syria, the late President Hafez al-Assad attacked the city of Hama in 1982, murdering 20,000 Muslim Brotherhood members and innocent civilians ... not to mention one murderous action after another in Lebanon, accounting for at least 130,000 deaths.

The foregoing does not consider lethal activities in Chad, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Turkey, Yemen and Zanzibar, Tanzania's island province. Expert estimates total up to 600,000 mostly Muslim fatalities in these areas since 1960.

Who are the real perpetrators of this genocide, the people committing these religious and ethnic cleansings - these massacres? Overwhelmingly, Muslim murderers have massacred their co-religionists, and continue to do so. Were we to leave Iraq precipitately, it is very likely hundreds of thousands - possibly millions - of Muslims would be killed by fellow Muslims, goaded on by Iran to the east and Syria to their west, in a full-scale sectarian civil war. Should such a tragedy occur, would the world correctly consider the United States an accomplice to genocide? In such a situation, sadly, yes.


The Peace Racket

An anti-Western movement touts dictators, advocates appeasement-and gains momentum

If you want peace, prepare for war." Thus counseled Roman general Flavius Vegetius Renatus over 1,600 years ago. Nine centuries before that, Sun Tzu offered essentially the same advice, and it's to him that Vegetius's line is attributed at the beginning of a film that I saw recently at Oslo's Nobel Peace Center. Yet the film cites this ancient wisdom only to reject it. After serving up a perverse potted history of the cold war, the thrust of which is that the peace movement brought down the Berlin Wall, the movie ends with words that turn Vegetius's insight on its head: "If you want peace, prepare for peace."

This purports to be wise counsel, a motto for the millennium. In reality, it's wishful thinking that doesn't follow logically from the history of the cold war, or of any war. For the cold war's real lesson is the same one that Sun Tzu and Vegetius taught: conflict happens; power matters. It's better to be strong than to be weak; you're safer if others know that you're ready to stand up for yourself than if you're proudly outspoken about your defenselessness or your unwillingness to fight. There's nothing mysterious about this truth. Yet it's denied not only by the Peace Center film but also by the fast-growing, troubling movement that the center symbolizes and promotes. Call it the Peace Racket.

We need to make two points about this movement at the outset. First, it's opposed to every value that the West stands for-liberty, free markets, individualism-and it despises America, the supreme symbol and defender of those values. Second, we're talking not about a bunch of naive Quakers but about a movement of savvy, ambitious professionals that is already comfortably ensconced at the United Nations, in the European Union, and in many nongovernmental organizations. It is also waging an aggressive, under-the-media-radar campaign for a cabinet-level Peace Department in the United States. Sponsored by Ohio Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich (along with more than 60 cosponsors), House Resolution 808 would authorize a Secretary of Peace to "establish a Peace Academy," "develop a peace education curriculum" for elementary and secondary schools, and provide "grants for peace studies departments" at campuses around the country. If passed, the measure would catapult the peace studies movement into a position of extraordinary national, even international, influence.

The Peace Racket's boundaries aren't easy to define. It embraces scores of "peace institutes" and "peace centers" in the U.S. and Europe, plus several hundred university peace studies programs. As Ian Harris, Larry Fisk, and Carol Rank point out in a sympathetic overview of these programs, it's hard to say exactly how many exist-partly because they often go by other labels, such as "security studies" and "human rights education"; partly because many "professors who infuse peace material into courses do not offer special courses with the title peace in them"; and finally because "several small liberal arts colleges offer an introductory course requirement to all incoming students which infuses peace and justice themes." Many primary and secondary schools also teach peace studies in some form.

Peace studies initiatives may train students to be social workers, to work in churches or community health organizations, or to resolve family quarrels and neighborhood disputes. At the movement's heart, though, are programs whose purported emphasis is on international relations. Their founding father is a 77-year-old Norwegian professor, Johan Galtung, who established the International Peace Research Institute in 1959 and the Journal of Peace Research five years later. Invariably portrayed in the media as a charismatic and (these days) grandfatherly champion of decency, Galtung is in fact a lifelong enemy of freedom. In 1973, he thundered that "our time's grotesque reality" was-no, not the Gulag or the Cultural Revolution, but rather the West's "structural fascism." He's called America a "killer country," accused it of "neo-fascist state terrorism," and gleefully prophesied that it will soon follow Britain "into the graveyard of empires."

No fan of Britain either, Galtung has faulted "Anglo-Americans" for trying to "stop the wind from blowing." If the U.S. and the U.K. oppose a dangerous development, in his view, we're causing trouble-Milosevi?, Saddam, and Osama are just the way the wind is blowing. Galtung's kind of thinking leads inexorably to the conclusion that one should never challenge any tyrant. Fittingly, he urged Hungarians not to resist the Soviet Army in 1956, and his views on World War II suggest that he'd have preferred it if the Allies had allowed Hitler to finish off the Jews and invade Britain.

Though Galtung has opined that the annihilation of Washington, D.C., would be a fair punishment for America's arrogant view of itself as "a model for everyone else," he's long held up certain countries as worthy of emulation-among them Stalin's USSR, whose economy, he predicted in 1953, would soon overtake the West's. He's also a fan of Castro's Cuba, which he praised in 1972 for "break[ing] free of imperialism's iron grip." At least you can't accuse Galtung of hiding his prejudices. In 1973, explaining world politics in a children's newspaper, he described the U.S. and Western Europe as "rich, Western, Christian countries" that make war to secure materials and markets: "Such an economic system is called capitalism, and when it's spread in this way to other countries it's called imperialism." In 1974, he sneered at the West's fixation on "persecuted elite personages" such as Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov. Thirty years later, he compared the U.S. to Nazi Germany for bombing Kosovo and invading Afghanistan and Iraq. For Galtung, a war that liberates is no better than one that enslaves.

His all-time favorite nation? China during the Cultural Revolution. Visiting his Xanadu, Galtung concluded that the Chinese loved life under Mao: after all, they were all "nice and smiling." While "repressive in a certain liberal sense," he wrote, Mao's China was "endlessly liberating when seen from many other perspectives that liberal theory has never understood." Why, China showed that "the whole theory about what an `open society' is must be rewritten, probably also the theory of `democracy'-and it will take a long time before the West will be willing to view China as a master teacher in such subjects."

Nor has Galtung changed his tune over the decades. Recently he gave a lecture that was a smorgasbord of wild accusations about America's refusing to negotiate with Saddam, America's secret plans to make war in Azerbaijan, Nazis in the State Department, the CIA's responsibility for 6 million covert murders, and so on. Galtung called for a Truth and Reconciliation Committee in Iraq-to treat America's crimes, not the Baathists'.

Galtung's use of the word "peace" to legitimize totalitarianism is an old Communist tradition. In August 1939, when the Nazis and Soviets signed their nonaggression pact, the same Western Stalinists who had been calling for war against Germany did an about-face and began to praise peace. (After Hitler invaded Russia, the Stalinists reversed themselves again, demanding that the West help Stalin crush the Third Reich.) The peace talk, in short, was really about sympathizing with Communism, not peace. And it continued after the war, when Stalin's Western supporters whitewashed his monstrous regime and denounced anti-Communists as warmongering crypto-fascists. "Peace conferences" and "friendship committees" drew hordes of liberal dupes, who didn't grasp that their new "friends" were not ordinary Russians but the jailers of ordinary Russians-and that the committees were about not "friendship" but deception, exploitation, and espionage.

The people running today's peace studies programs give a good idea of the movement's illiberal, anti-American inclinations. The director of Purdue's program is coeditor of Marxism Today, a collection of essays extolling socialism; Brandeis's peace studies chairman has justified suicide bombings; the program director at the University of Missouri authorized a mass e-mail urging students and faculty to boycott classes to protest the Iraq invasion; and the University of Maine's program director believes that "humans have been out of balance for centuries" and that "a unique opportunity of this new century is to engage in the creation of balance and harmony between yin and yang, masculine and feminine energies." (Such New Age babble often mixes with the Marxism in peace studies jargon.)

What these people teach remains faithful to Galtung's anti-Western inspiration. First and foremost, they emphasize that the world's great evil is capitalism-because it leads to imperialism, which in turn leads to war. The account of capitalism in David Barash and Charles Webel's widely used 2002 textbook Peace and Conflict Studies leans heavily on Lenin, who "maintained that only revolution-not reform-could undo capitalism's tendency toward imperialism and thence to war," and on Galtung, who helpfully revised Lenin's theories to account for America's "indirect" imperialism. Students acquire a zero-sum picture of the world economy: if some countries and people are poor, it's because others are rich. They're taught that American wealth derives entirely from exploitation and that Americans, accordingly, are responsible for world poverty.

If the image of tenured professors pushing such anticapitalist nonsense on privileged suburban kids sounds like a classic case of liberals' throwing stones at their own houses, get a load of this: America's leading Peace Racket institution is probably the University of Notre Dame's Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies-endowed by and named for the widow of Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald's, the ultimate symbol of evil corporate America. It was the Kroc Institute, by the way, that in 2004 invited Islamist scholar Tariq Ramadan to join its faculty, only to see him denied a U.S. visa on the grounds that he had defended terrorism.

Peace studies students also discover how to think in terms of "deep culture." How to prevent war between, say, the U.S. and Saddam's Iraq? Answer: examine each country's deep culture-its key psychosocial traits, good and bad-to understand its motives. Americans, according to this bestiary, are warlike and money-obsessed; Iraqis are intensely religious and proud. Not surprisingly, the Peace Racket's summations of deep cultures skew against the West. The deep-culture approach also avoids calling tyrants or terrorists "evil"-for behind every atrocity, in this view, lies a legitimate grievance, which the peacemaker should locate so that all parties can meet at the negotiating table as moral equals. SUNY Binghamton, for instance, offers a peace studies course that seeks to "arrive at an understanding of contemporary violence in its ideological, cultural, and structural dimensions in a bid to move away from `evil,' `inhuman,' and `uncivilized' as analytical categories."

For the Peace Racket, to kill innocents in cold blood is to buy the right to dialogue, negotiation, concessions-and power. So students learn to identify "insurgent" or "militant" groups with the populations they purport to represent. A few years ago, a peace organization called Transcend equated the demands of the Basque terrorist group ETA with "the desires of the Basque people"-as if a "people" were a monolithic group for whom a band of murderous thugs could presume to speak. The complaints that Transcend made about the Spanish government's "blockade positions"-its refusal to cave to terrorist demands-and the Spanish media's lack of "objectivity"-their refusal to take a middle position between Spanish society and ETA terrorists-are standard Peace Racket fare. Similarly, during Saddam's dictatorship, "peace scholars" wrote as if Iraq were equivalent to Saddam and the Baath party, entirely removing from the picture the Shiites and Kurds whom Saddam's regime subjugated, tortured, and slaughtered.

The recipes for peace that flow from such thinking seem designed not only to buttress oppression but to create more of it. For if democracies consistently followed the Peace Racket's recommendations, what they'd eventually reap would be the kind of peace found today in Havana or Pyongyang....

More here

Australia: African refugee numbers slashed for Iraqi intake

Hallelujah! The do-gooding Australian Feds created a previously unknown problem in Australia by allowing large numbers of unassimilable African refugees in over recent years, many of whom are Muslims. It now seems that the Feds have finally woken up to some extent. There is of course a great veil of silence over the high rate of crime and welfare dependancy among Africans (Americans will recognize the pattern) but official admissions do sometimes leak out. And Christians from Arab lands are certainly a most endangered and most deserving group with every prospect of assimilating successfully. Lebanese Christians have a long history of prospering in Australia. It is a credit to Australia that it has moved to the forefront in rescuing the Arab Christians

THE Federal Government will dramatically cut its intake of refugees from Africa, while lifting the number of refugees from the Middle East, including large numbers of Christian Iraqis. Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews yesterday announced the Refugee and Humanitarian Intake for 2007-08. It will cut the number of immigrants from Africa by 30 per cent. Only a few years ago Africa accounted for up to 70 per cent of the entire humanitarian program. But integrating African refugees, particularly from war-ravaged Sudan, has been very expensive. It is believed the Government is hoping to help consolidate the African communities and families who are already here.

"The intake from the Africa region reflects an improvement in conditions in some countries and an increase in the number of people returning to their country of origin," Mr Andrews said. The overall number of refugee places will remain stable at 13,000. But the intake from the Middle East and Asia will increase to about 35 per cent each.

Mr Andrews said the increased intake of Iraqis who had fled their country follows an international conference on Iraq convened by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in April. The conference discussed the plight of refugees from Iraq, many Christian.

The most recent Budget saw an additional $209 million over four years allocated to helping refugees settle into Australian life. Mr Andrews said the increased intake from Asia was largely because of resettlement programs for Burmese refugees in Thailand and Bhutanese refugees in Nepal.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


18 August, 2007

Baiting The Hook

Post below lifted from Discriminations. See the original for links

The Hook is a popular free weekly newspaper in Charlottesville. Like Charlottesville itself, it is true, i.e., almost exclusively, blue, which makes baiting it great fun. For example, take the two sentence opening paragraph to this article about yet another attempt to combat violence perpetrated by black teenagers, possibly gang-related, on various passersby who happened to be accessible to them.

In the spring of 2003, when popular, mostly African-American, Charlottesville High students were charged - and later convicted - of beating up UVA students, a galvanized community met to take action. Concerned citizens gathered at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, committees were formed, and fundraisers held for the defense of the young perps.
Leave aside the "merely" factual error that these students were convicted in the spring of 2002, not 2003. Much more noteworthy were a couple of omissions: first, this was not an isolated incident - there were a series of attacks by black teenagers on UVa students that occurred over a number of months in 2001 and early 2002; and second, these students admitted that they had selected their victims because they were (or the perps thought they were) white. Were these students prosecuted under state or federal hate crime statutes? Of course not.

What really caught my eye about this lede, however (dare I describe it as eye-opening?) is the glaring disjunction between its first and second sentences. What did the "galvanized community" galvanize itself to do in response to these vicious attacks? Read that second sentence again. It organized to support the perpetrators! As I wrote in a long post about double standards in Charlottesville and at UVa (comparing the response to this series of violent attacks against UVa students with the alleged attack against one UVa student, Daisy Lundy):

And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, it does: there was actually a good deal of sympathy and support in the community ... for the assailants. Rev. Alvin Edwards, pastor of the Mt. Zion African Baptist Church who is also a former mayor of Charlottesville, led a prominent and noisy faction that was much more solicitous of the attackers than the attacked. He denied that the attacks had anything to do with race [despite the admission of the assailants -- jsr], claiming that "many local teenagers, particularly African Americans, resent the university because they consider it largely inaccessible to them."

Committees Rev. Edwards set up had bake sales and raised over $3000, all of which was going to be donated to the legal defense of the assailants until criticism caused 30% to be donated for the victims' medical expenses.
Alas, the disjunction between that first and second sentence is invisible to The Hook , and no doubt to most of its readers. In any event, if the community re-galvanizes itself to combat violence by black teenagers, let's hope it comes up with something more creative than paying their legal fees.

The cool cats

As T.S. Eliot observed many years ago, Leftists have a desperate need to think well of themselves. Post below lifted from Vanderleun. See the original for links

The always worthy Sippican Cottage has a meditation on the nature of change this morning with No NIMBYS Need Apply in which he observes: "Cape Cod, and Provincetown, are very much Not In My Back Yard Places now. It's hard to do much of anything building-wise. There is no more reactionary person than a wild-eyed progressive who has beaten the forces of the last reactionary, it appears."

This progressive mental disorder can be seen in Provincetown and any number of other places that once were cool and are now merely the haunt of the privileged pretenders to cool. Indeed, the current going price for a week in the hamlet of Provincetown seems to range from $5,500 per week for something that sleeps 8 to the more modest $650 a week for a cottage/closet sleeping two. For this, plus sundry other expenses, you get to party in the beach zone. It's a kind of Disneyland for adults and satisfies the new found need to be by the sea at least once a year to maintain your cool status. Once cheap, cool now costs lots of cold cash.

Getting in some rented beach time is important since most poor and middle class Americans now labor under America's new unwritten law that states: "Nobody with a net worth south of $30,000,000 is allowed to actually live by the ocean." (Unless grandfathered in by, well, your grandfather and you'd better be able to scrape up the jacked up property taxes too.)

The glutting of the "cool places" by the uncool cool-seekers is pretty much the state of the nation at the moment. It is important to "be cool." It is not important to live. By and large this compulsion for cool has gripped the soul of the nation and continues in an unstoppable way. The cool parts of the cool cities are increasingly decooled by people with more money than style -- Soho, Venice, the Haight, to cite a few. Ditto the cool ways to live.

Long ago it was cool to live in a loft, and not one "designed" to be an "artiste's loft" either. Or at least it was thought to be so. I once lived (off and on) in an old cigar factory loft way below Soho in New York and it was, in its way, pretty cool. You threw down the keys and ran up a half-dozen flights of stairs. When the storms came the clang of metal shutters slamming into brick walls made you think you were sleeping inside of Big Ben. The kitchen was a small fridge and a hotplate. The bathroom door was a shower curtain. But if you wanted to you could make really big paintings and have really big parties and nobody knew you were there. It was cool.

Of course, it was very uncool to have to take a cab 16 blocks in the winter just get to the nearest laundromat with a stack of dirty clothes, but that's what you did. Now you can have the laundromat pick up the clothes and bring them back folded from the corner -- and you pay for that as well, and much more than a cool million plus for your loft. But that's okay because now, even though you are living like an "artist," you don't really produce anything that remotely resembles "art" to be cool. If you do have a gallery, you probably own it and fill it with your own personal selection of the kind of dumpster trash that passes for "art" in this mordant age. Creativity is no longer required to be cool. Just cash because cool, once generated from within by real talent, can now just be purchased.

Merely owning a loft-like space lets you (and more importantly everybody else) know you are "cool." This is essential since the greatest desire of modern American urban life is to "get cool and stay cool." The way you do that, as Sippican Cottege indicates, is by stopping anybody else from moving into the scene once you arrive. In this, a "reactionary" is a "progressive" who's been mugged by real-estate values, property taxes, and the fact that it is hard to get a reservation at the latest and coolest restaurant in the zone.

I once rented a three-bedroom house in Southport, Connecticut. Southport is a tiny and very rich community sandwiched between Westport (ex-Martha Stewart land) and Fairfield (commuting base at the time for many middle managers of New York City). The house was built by the father of my landlord and was a small masterpiece of New England homebuilding. It sat on three acres of lawn across from a school. Although close to the freeway it was still idyllic in almost every way as was the tiny little hamlet of Southport. For a number of years I was very happy there. It was pretty cool.

When, after a long time with the wolf at the door, the money arrived it was time to think about actually buying a home in the town. I was talking about this with my landlord one day when I ventured the opinion that the town would be "much better off if we could just stop all these new people from moving in. You know, cut off the building of new houses...."

My landlord fixed me with a gimlet eye and said, "My dad built over three hundred houses around here starting when he got back from the war. If he'd thought the way you do, you wouldn't be here." I got the point. Since then, I've always looked at those who move into "the cool place" and want to shut the door after them as traitors to cool.

There's a lot of this sort of class treason going around these days. You see it in those who would like to close the door on development in the 3rd world lest more of that rotten life-denying planet wrecking CO2 be made. (And let's get some more bike lanes painted on the roads too!) You see it in the endless zoning laws and restrictions on building thrown up across the landscape until nothing can be built for less than what can be raised by a consortium of rich developers. You see it in the recent Federal decisions on "takings."

But mostly you see it in the endless desire to be seen and thought of as "cool;" a kind of new status point system in which one must live in the right place, with the right furniture, going to the right restaurants, wearing the right clothes, and most of all having the correct and approved opinions that, well, everybody else has (Don't they?).

Above all, to be cool you have to be against -- on a deep and fundamental level -- mankind itself while proclaiming that "ordinary people are the most important people that there are, but...." The only thing more important than people, you must believe, is "the planet." If you can pull all these things together, along with enough money to live in the cool zones, you too can be thought of by all the cool people around you as.... cool. Cool enough to drop ten grand on a Provincetown vacation home where the dunes are protected against everything except Speedos and random fornication.

The Death of Diversity

Some more thoughts on the Putnam findings

Diversity was once just another word. Now it's a fighting word. One of the biggest problems with diversity is that it won't let you alone. Corporations everywhere have force-marched middle managers into training sessions led by "diversity trainers." Most people already knew that the basic idea beneath diversity emerged about 2,000 years ago under two rubrics: Love thy neighbor as thyself, and Do unto others as they would do unto you. Then suddenly this got rewritten as "appreciating differentness."

George Bernard Shaw is said to have demurred from the Golden Rule. "Do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you," Shaw advised. "Their tastes may not be the same." No such voluntary opt-out is permissible in our time. The parsons of the press made diversity into a secular commandment; do a word-search of "diversity" in a broad database of newspapers and it might come up 250 million times. In the Supreme Court term just ended, the Seattle schools integration case led most of the justices into arcane discussions of diversity's legal compulsions. More recently it emerged that the University of Michigan, a virtual Mecca of diversity, announced it would install Muslim footbaths in bathrooms, causing a fight.

Now comes word that diversity as an ideology may be dead, or not worth saving. Robert Putnam, the Harvard don who in the controversial bestseller "Bowling Alone" announced the decline of communal-mindedness amid the rise of home-alone couch potatoes, has completed a mammoth study of the effects of ethnic diversity on communities. His researchers did 30,000 interviews in 41 U.S. communities. Short version: People in ethnically diverse settings don't want to have much of anything to do with each other. "Social capital" erodes. Diversity has a downside.

Prof. Putnam isn't exactly hiding these volatile conclusions, though he did introduce them in a journal called Scandinavian Political Studies. A great believer in the efficacy of what social scientists call "reciprocity," he wasn't happy with what he found but didn't mince words describing the results:

"Inhabitants of diverse communities tend to withdraw from collective life, to distrust their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more, but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television." The diversity nightmare gets worse: They have little confidence in the "local news media." This after all we've done for them.

Colleagues and diversity advocates, disturbed at what was emerging from the study, suggested alternative explanations. Prof. Putnam and his team re-ran the data every which way from Sunday and the result was always the same: Diverse communities may be yeasty and even creative, but trust, altruism and community cooperation fall. He calls it "hunkering down."

Give me a break! you scream. What about New York City or L.A.? From the time of Sherwood Anderson's "Winesburg, Ohio" through "Peyton Place" and beyond, people have fled the flat-lined, gossip-driven homogeneity of small American "communities" for the welcome anonymity of big-city apartment building--so long as your name wasn't Kitty Genovese, the famous New York woman who bled to death crying for help.

It's a wonderfully thought-provoking study, suitable for arguing the length of a long August weekend and available as a lecture on Prof. Putnam's Harvard Web site, the "Saguaro Seminar." Astute readers, however, have already guessed who's thrilled with the results. Pat Buchanan, reflecting an array of commentaries on the study from the American right, says, "Putnam provides supporting fire from Harvard Yard for those who say America needs a time-out from mass immigration, be it legal or illegal." The "antis" believe the Putnam study hammers the final intellectual nail in the coffin of immigration and diversity.

The diversity ideologues deserve whatever ill tidings they get. They're the ones who weren't willing to persuade the public of diversity's merits, preferring to turn "diversity" into a political and legal hammer to compel compliance. The conversions were forced conversions. As always, with politics comes pushback. And it never stops.

The harvest of bitter fruit from the diversity wars begun three decades ago across campuses, corporations and newsrooms has made the immigration debate significantly worse. Diversity's advocates gave short shrift to assimilation, indeed arguing that assimilation into the American mainstream was oppressive and coercive. So they demoted assimilation and elevated "differences." Then they took the nation to court. Little wonder the immigration debate is riven with distrust.

The diversity ideologues ruined a good word and, properly understood, a decent notion. What's needed now is for a younger black, brown or polka-dot writer to recast the idea in a way that restores the worth and utility of assimilation. Somebody had better do it soon; the first chart offered in the Putnam study depicts inexorably rising rates of immigration in many nations. The idea that the U.S. can wave into effect a 10-year "time out" on immigration flows is as likely as King Canute commanding the tides to recede.

Here, too, Robert Putnam has a possible assimilation model. Hold onto your hat. It's Christian evangelical megachurches. "In many large evangelical congregations," he writes, "the participants constituted the largest thoroughly integrated gatherings we have ever witnessed." This, too, is an inconvenient truth. They do it with low entry barriers to the church and by offering lots of little groups to join inside the larger "shared identity" of the church. A Harvard prof finds good in evangelical megachurches. Send this man a suit of body armor!

My own model for the way forward in a 21st century American society of unavoidable ethnic multitudes is an old one, a phrase found nowhere in the Putnam study or any commentary on it: the middle class. Its assimilating virtues may be boring, but it works, if you work at getting into it. Of course Hillary Clinton believes this can't happen here because the middle class has been "invisible" to George Bush. As with diversity, progress is always just beyond the horizon.


Pro-abortion Catholics condemned

A Princeton professor has warned that the scandal of pro-abortion Catholics and its cover-up by bishops threatens more damage to the Catholic Church than the abhorrent scandal of pedophile priests hiding behind their Roman collars to perpetrate crimes against children. Robert George, a McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, writes in an article published in the ecumenical magazine First Things that, unlike the clergy sexual abuse scandal, the tolerated scandal of prominent anti-life Catholics continues to engender far more insidious effects upon society.

"Nothing undermines the cause of justice and cultural reform and renewal more than the bad example of prominent Catholics who have made themselves instruments of what Pope John Paul II bluntly described as 'the culture of death,'" states George. "The scandal given by these individuals over the past thirty years, particularly with respect to the exposure of the unborn to abortion and, more recently, embryo-destructive research, is far greater in its cultural effects even than the horrific-the word is not too strong-scandal of clergy sex abuse."

If the sex scandals have enough power to make many Catholics "lose confidence in the reliability of the Church as a teacher of truth, particularly in the moral domain" then the Church's toleration of publicly proclaimed pro-abortion Catholics is much worse, especially when the culture is in grave peril. "The Church doesn't need fundamental transformation; it needs to be about the business of transforming us," warns George. "For better or worse, culture is character-shaping and, thus, person-forming. That's why the task of cultural renewal and reform is part of the Christian task-an essential part."

George writes that Catholics should know that the Church faces both "danger" and an "opportunity for a special kind of greatness, the greatness that comes only in times of the most profound danger." "Critical (possibly irreversible) decisions will be made in the next year or two" writes George, indicating that the particular decisions to which he is referring will occur in the field of marriage and bioethics. Both issues, he says, "will go one way or the other depending on the posture and actions of Catholics."

"If the Catholic community is engaged on these issues, working closely with evangelical Christians, observant Jews, and people of goodwill and sound moral judgment of other faiths and even of no particular religious faith, grave injustices and the erosion of central moral principles will be, to a significant extent, averted. Indeed, with respect to both marriage and the sanctity of human life, earlier reverses may themselves be reversed. If, on the other hand, the Catholic community compromises itself, abdicates its responsibilities, and sits on the sidelines, the already deeply wounded institution of marriage will collapse and the brave new world of biotechnology will transform procreation into manufacture, and nascent human life into mere disposable 'research material.'"

However George continues to point out that bishops and pastors must make a decision to lead Catholics in the culture war, not by becoming politicians themselves, but by exhorting lay Catholics to fulfill their responsibilities in the political arena and other cultural dimensions. "[The bishops] should never hesitate to reprove us when we fail in our obligations to defend human life, marriage, and the common good, as far too many Catholics, including Catholics prominent in public life, have done and, alas, are doing," says George. "The bishops must make clear that being a faithful Catholic means many things; but among the things it means is bearing unambiguous witness to the sanctity of human life. By bearing such witness, Catholics can seize the opportunity now before them to renew and reform the culture."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


17 August, 2007

Britain: Now EVERYBODY has to observe Ramadan

DOCTORS and health workers have been banned from eating lunch at their desks - in case it offends their Muslim colleagues. Health chiefs believe the sight of food will upset Muslim workers when they are celebrating the religious festival Ramadan. The lunch trolley is also to be wheeled out of bounds as the 30-day fast begins next month.

But staff and politicians branded the move political correctness gone mad and warned that it was a step too far. Bill Aitken, the Scottish Conservative justice spokesman, said: "This advice, well-meaning as it may be, is total nonsense. "It is the sort of thing that can stir up resentment rather than result in good relations."

The new guidance comes in the wake of the failed terror attacks on Glasgow and the death of suspect Kafeel Ahmed, 27. Health chiefs in Lothian and Glasgow will give all employees time off to pray and to celebrate Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan. But Greater Glasgow and Clyde as well as Lothian NHS boards also issued the advice, warning workers not to take working lunches, and said all vending machines should be removed from areas where Muslims work.

One senior consultant said: "What next? Are we going to have advice on how to deal with Catholics during Lent? "This kind of thing does more harm than good."

The guidance, which was sent round many organisations, was produced by Glasgow consultancy Meem, which advises on Muslim issues and counts the Scottish Parliament among its clients. Na'eem Raza, a senior consultant with the firm, said he was thrilled that the health boards had formally adopted the guidance. He added: "The idea is to get faith in the workplace out in the open. "In the current climate, people need to understand where communities are coming from and what people are feeling. "After the Glasgow attack this is very important. This is about educating people and making them more aware and more confident when dealing with issues surrounding the Muslim community. "People have stopped talking over the garden fence and we need to break down the barriers so that people can talk comfortably to each other. "It would never stir up resentment. Faith is an important issue. Why not have guidance on all of the issues that affect us, including different faiths?"

Health chiefs defended their use of the guidance and said it was important to promote a positive and tolerant culture at work. A NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spokesman said: "As a large organisation we recognise that many of our staff, patients and visitors will be participating in Ramadan. "We have therefore made information available to our staff to raise awareness of Ramadan and help to answer any questions they may have." NHS Lothian said: "We have recently agreed a quality and diversity strategy and as a responsible and pro-active employer we will continue to promote a positive culture which recognises and respects diversity both in our workforce and in the people we serve."


Politically correct Britain spiralling out of control

This cop has got a cheek. Stupid policing is a major cause of the problem. When the "rights" of criminals constantly trump common sense, this is what is to be expected

ONE of Britain's top police officers called for urgent moves to stem a rising tide of youth violence yesterday after a 47-year-old father of three was kicked to death by a group of young drunks. The man, a company director from Warrington in northwest England, had tried to remonstrate with the group when he saw them damaging a vehicle and other property outside his home. It was the latest in a series of violent, and frequently deadly, attacks by abusive, drunk young people in Britain.

"We cannot have a society where adults feel scared to go out and challenge youngsters up to no good," said Peter Fahy, the chief constable of Cheshire, the county which includes Warrington. "Every night of the week Cheshire officers are engaged in a constant battle against anti-social behaviour and alcohol-induced violence ... it breeds fear and isolation."

Hardly a day goes by in Britain without another alarming report of alcohol-fuelled teenage violence. On Monday, a 23-year-old Turkish immigrant died after being attacked by two hooded boys he argued with when they threw a half-eaten chocolate bar through the window of his sister's car.

While the phenomenon of unruly youth is hardly new in Britain, there are concerns the social breakdown is intensifying, as those involved get younger and the violence seems to worsen. Constable Fahy's comments were widely applauded on news programs and radio call-in shows yesterday, but the Government did not immediately respond to his suggestion that the drinking age be raised from 18 to 21.

The Sun newspaper, the country's most-widely read, ran an editorial saying it was time for parents to take responsibility. "Should parents be arrested if they let their kids run wild? Should benefits be reduced or even stopped for those who won't work?" the paper asked. "It is another signal that the 'Great' is going out of Great Britain."

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged a decade ago to be "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime", and later pioneered the introduction of so-called ASBOs - anti-social behaviour orders - to try to control unruly youths. But 10 years on, statistics show scant improvement.

Sociologists say British youth do not spend enough time with adults, spending free time with friends unsupervised. In Europe, young people spend much more time under supervision. "Our young people drink more and take more drugs than others partly because they can," Julia Margo, a researcher at the IPPR think tank, said. "Young people need to interact with adults to socially develop, and those that spend time away from adults will more rapidly fall into bad behaviour, or very bad behaviour."


And here's a big part of the problem:

But Mr Fahy also made another claim. "We cannot have a society," he said, "where adults feel scared to go out and challenge youngsters up to no good." Fair point. But is fear of retaliation by unruly youths the only thing holding people back? In recent years, the police have increasingly arrested and charged victims of crime for "taking the law into their own hands".

One infamous case occurred in Penzance in June, when the owner of a hardware shop tried to stop three youths from stealing cans of spray paint. One kicked him in the groin, which provoked him to punch and kick the youth in self-defence. The police arrived, gave the youths fixed penalty notices for shoplifting, then charged the shopkeeper with assault. He was conned into pleading guilty by police officers, who told him he could face six months in jail if he didn't.

In February, a Bridlington chip-shop owner had a similar experience, but luckily for him the crown court judge had more sense than the police. When a youth smashed his shop window, the owner and his son, a former Royal Marine, chased the boy, caught him and flagged down a police car. The boy lied to the police, who then arrested both men and charged them with kidnap, when all they had done was to detain the youth in their car until the police arrived. The judge threw the case out because a lawful citizen's arrest had been made.

In both instances, the criminal was able to turn the police against a law-abiding citizen, and the police were all too willing accomplices in each criminal's triumph. If Mr Fahy truly thinks that adults should not be frightened to challenge youths, he should take a glance at the "nine principles of policing" framed by Sir Robert Peel in 1829.

One says that the police should "maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen". In other words, the police should remember whose side they are on.

There is also a comment of surprising good sense on the Leftist Indymedia site. Note also that the authorities have been most zealous in releasing NO identifying details about those charged with the murder -- suggesting that they are black. The fact that they are described as part of a gang tends to reinforce that idea

Axe Muslim immigration - says popular Australian politician

PAULINE Hanson says she will run on similar policies to those that won her international notoriety a decade ago when she vies for a Queensland Senate seat at the upcoming election. The main difference will be that this time the former fish and chip shop owner, who claims credit for forcing the Howard Government to adopt a harder line on immigration controls, will target Muslims.

"We need to have a look at our immigration levels and I'd like to have a look at putting a moratorium on any more Muslims coming into Australia," Ms Hanson said yesterday. As revealed in The Courier-Mail yesterday, the former One Nation leader has applied to the Australian Electoral Commission to register Pauline's United Australia Party. If successful, the party's abbreviated name, Pauline, will appear above the line on the Senate ballot paper, making it easier for people to vote for Ms Hanson.

The 53-year-old won the seat of Oxley as an Independent at the 1996 election after being expelled from the Liberal Party because of her explosive views on immigration. In her maiden speech, she warned against Asian immigration and went on to launch One Nation which eventually foundered, but not before it grabbed a swag of seats at the Queensland state election. She lost her own seat at the next federal election.

Ms Hanson said "nothing's changed" with her policies. "I think that we need to look at getting out of the 1951 convention of refugees, and not being forced into taking refugees in this country that bring in diseases, who are incompatible with our lifestyle," she told ABC Radio. She said tariffs should also be raised to protect local industry and manufacturing from "cheap imports".

Of Queensland's six Senate spots up for grabs at the election, five are held by the major parties, with the remaining seat held by Australian Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett. Ms Hanson will be up against Senator Bartlett, the Greens' Larissa Waters and Family First's Jeff Buchanan for the required 14.5 per cent of the vote to gain a Queensland Senate seat.


All relationships are not equal for good reason

Comment from Australia

The continuing debate over the access of same-sex couples to social benefits and so-called entitlements is a distraction from the real issue. The real issue is not about infringement of rights. Rather, it is about what heterosexual marriage can offer society that other forms of relationships cannot.

Married heterosexual unions are not simply a legal invention with an associated bunch of benefits. They have an intrinsic value which enables them to provide a number of reciprocal benefits to any society. It is the reason flourishing societies have always acknowledged the importance of marriage and family and accorded it a level of preferential support. It is a vital part of the social estate.

The social benefits of committed, exclusive heterosexual unions include the generation of children and the raising of future citizens; a supportive and safe environment for the nurturing of these children; two parents who are biologically connected to their child and who are willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of that child; two complementary parents who can provide appropriate gender role-modelling; and an intergenerational connectedness within families and societies where parents are encouraged to save and provide for their children and grandchildren. Such unions also provide a mechanism for effectively connecting children to their fathers, a longing of every child, and also for ensuring a fairer distribution of the parenting burden.

Much of the argument about the need for legislative reform also seems predicated on the assumption that entitlements would somehow be limited to two-person unions. However, this raises many more questions than it answers and affords a myriad of opportunities for further exploitation. Some argue that "equivalence" between types of sexually intimate relationships no longer needs to be concerned with the predisposition to procreate and to care for one's children. This raises the question of why such relationships need to be concerned with sexual intimacy at all? No doubt social activists will soon be seeking government benefits for de facto "parent-child" couples or "best friends" who have no interest in being sexually intimate, or for de facto sibling couples. And what about polygamous and polyamorous relationships involving numerous individuals? Court decisions in Pennsylvania and in Ontario earlier this year have confirmed that children can now have at least three legal "parents" in some jurisdictions. Adult wants are being used to trump the rights of children.

It is not sufficient to argue that a society should never discriminate for or against a particular group. Societies do so all the time. In Australia, 16-year-olds are not licensed to drive and cannot vote even though there may be 16-year-olds who would be good drivers and others who would be judicious voters. We also place limits on the level of access of various groups to a range of social benefits. These reasons usually relate to either the neediness of discrete groups or the requirement to provide an incentive to groups who can produce a social benefit. Two obvious examples are the tiered family tax benefit and the baby bonus.

The continued provision of preferential support for heterosexual spouses and their children is vital. Otherwise we risk encouraging a view of marriage and family as something which individuals, couples or even groups can alter according to their own subjective desires. This would result in further clamour for financial benefits from couples or groups on the basis of some notional entitlement.

Some argue that there are instances where certain changes could make it easier for individuals to arrange their financial affairs. However, people already have the right to transfer finances and property during life and upon their death and also to own property as joint tenants. There is no need to move down the path of providing unimpeded access to a range of benefits to any two or more people who say they are in a relationship. Simple co-dependency is not enough.

We need to continue to preferentially support a civic institution that encourages authentic and enduring unions, unions that reflect the complementary nature of men and women, unions that have an openness to life and children, unions that are intrinsically ordered to the care and education of those children and unions which have an intergenerational connectivity that draws them beyond their own immediate needs and wants. In short, we need to support, by law and social policy, heterosexual monogamous marriage.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


16 August, 2007

British "safety" tyranny again

A clown who entertained children of shoppers by twisting balloons has had his act curtailed by Tesco amid fears that members of his audience could be allergic to latex in the balloons. Barney Baloney, also known as Tony Turner, has entertained thousands of Yorkshire children - and, to the best of his knowledge, he has not injured any of them.

Recently, however, Mr Turner, 47, had to make do with an emu costume, some puppets and a juggling performance during a five-hour stint at a supermarket in Leeds. "Twisting balloons into shape makes up 40 per cent of my act and I can't see what the problem is," he said. "Kids love to see me make shapes, and that part of my act is the children's favourite."

Latex, used in the manufacture of some balloons, is a common allergen. A Tesco spokesman said: "We have banned balloons because latex is used in the manufacture of them and this can trigger an allergic reaction in some children."


Hispanic Hate Harangue

A few months back, a beautiful, 22-year old American woman named Rachel Smith made the finals in the Miss Universe contest in Mexico City. Her interview was interrupted by a wave of catcalls from the mostly Mexican audience. She had been subjected to similar treatment throughout the entire week. In 1999, Miss USA Kenya Moore received similar treatment. Our Olympic and international soccer teams also endure booing during our national anthem along with chants of Osama! Osama! Sometimes taunts are punctuated by bags of urine being thrown at American athletes.

Are these isolated incidents at odds with what Democrat Mexican-American leaders espouse? Not hardly. All of this hate speech is created and fostered by the hard anti-American left throughout Latin America. In the United States, the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Atzlan (MEChA) breeds the hate. Formed during the Vietnam War years, it was just another communist subversive organization claiming to represent a large group of people few of whom have ever heard of them.

MEChA, a brown KKK, claims chapters at nearly every college and university in California. Will gutless, college administrators ever work up the nerve to kick them off campus for their hate speech? MEChA's motto is: Por la Raza, todo. Fuera la Raza, nada. Reasonably translated: Everything for us, nothing for you." I have seen MEChA classes given in a San Diego Unified School. My recent requests to confirm or deny MEChA's continued presence there have gone unanswered. One board member did admit that MEChA "may have some clubs on campus."

If I were a trustee of the second largest school district in the state, I would darn well know whether a brown hate group was operating on my campuses. While MEChA officially eschews violence claiming that their moral underpinnings come from Caesar Chavez, it spawned a paramilitary off shoot called the Brown Berets that claim no such scruples. MEChA alumni and fellow travelers include some of the highest Hispanic office holders in California. And they don't hesitate to spew their hate when they think we are not listening: "Go back to Boston! Go back to Plymouth Rock! Pilgrims! Get out! We are the future. You are old and tired. Go on. We have beaten you. Leave like beaten rats. You old white people. It is your duty to die ... we are going to take over." --Augustin Cebada of the Brown Berets.

I know, good old Augustin does sound one toke over the line, but he is spouting his commie handler's sound bites with the appropriate passion. The humorous part is that had Augustin's white European, Spanish forbears not slaughtered so many real Mexicans, Augustin and his fellow travelers would be on the receiving end of a similar tirade chanted by a mass of Aztecs, Olmecs, Zapotecs and Mixtecs. If he hates the United States so much, why not go to Mexico and fix the mess that his forefathers made there instead of trying to grab the results of several hundred years of hard work in this country?

But it is not just the nutty brown-beret guys talking this way. Richard Alatorre, a long-time colleague of mine in the state Assembly said, "They're afraid were going to take over the government institutions. They're right, we're here to stay." Who is "we," Richard? And are you still under house arrest for your legal problems?

Another legislative colleague Art Torres is the chair (apparently for life) of the California Democratic Party. Said Torres, "Remember 187, the proposition to deny taxpayer funds for services to non citizens? That was the last gasp of white America in California." My guess is that Art did not send copies of this speech to the "white" members of the California Democratic Party.

Gloria Molina, yet another colleague from the legislature said, "We are politicizing every single one of these new citizens that are becoming citizens of this country (sic)...I got to tell you that a lot of people are saying 'I'm going out there and vote because I want to pay them back.'" I don't think she meant, "pay them back" in a nice way.

The latest incarnation of Hispanic hate haranguers is Enrique Morone, who is Mau Mau-ing the installation of a statue of Pete Wilson in San Diego's downtown, which Pete led through redevelopment. The monument was paid for by private funds and is to be erected on private property. Morone's beef with Pete is that he supported Proposition 187 that said California taxpayer funds should go to Californians exactly like the laws of Mexico.

Tony Blair, the former English prime minister, put it best: "If you want to know about a country, just ask whether people are breaking in or trying to escape." America is a good nation. It deserves leadership that pulls us together. Hispanic hate mongers do not qualify.


The Redneck Paradox

It has become common practice, in polite society, to mock and deride a certain sector of American society. I am speaking of the ordinary working class, particularly those living far in the hinterland, and particularly those with a strong attachment to traditional values. It has become de rigueur to launch blustering condemnations of this vague yet threatening tribe. People who would never dare utter a word of criticism against a minority feel perfectly at ease disparaging, often viciously, the enemy they alternately refer to as rednecks, white trash, Christian fundamentalists, holy rollers, or crackers. All of these labels blur into an image of the blue-collar guy in the pickup truck.

Of course, the more that "tolerance" is preached as a general ideological position, the more vehement the condemnation of the working class. The blinders of political correctness have shut down the possibility of complaining about, or in some cases even perceiving, the real dangers and the really dangerous people. A substitute was needed at which to redirect the emotional energy.

Not that there aren't other targets; the same crowd inveighs against corporate America, Israel, Republicans, members of the armed forces, etc. The difference is that this particular target is composed of people who used to be the darlings of the Left. We're talking about the proletariat! Who would have thought that the Working Man was destined to become an enemy of the People? But isn't the Working Man supposed to be oppressed? Robbed of his labor's surplus-value by greedy capitalists?

One of the reasons for this twist of fate is that the Working Man represents one of the last bastions of traditional American values: he works, goes to church, has a family, owns guns, and believes in liberty (the horror). Also, he is less "educated," and thus less exposed and susceptible to the neo-totalitarian brainwashing that has rotted away the minds of much of our population. This resistance is resented by the high priests of collectivism.

I realize that economic Marxism has been replaced by cultural Marxism, and local oppressed masses by Third World oppressed masses. But still, is it not ironic that our latter-day Marxists detest the proletariat? It's the Redneck Paradox.

From AWOL Civilization


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


15 August, 2007

Victory for San Diego Firefighters: No Longer Forced to Drive in Homosexual Display

The San Diego Fire Department has dropped its requirement for on-duty firefighters to drive the gay parade routes after firemen complained of sexual harassment this summer. Now only volunteers will drive the route, the San Diego Tribune reports. Early this August four firefighters were forced by their superior to drive in the parade in the Hillcrest neighborhood of the city on July 21. On August 1 they filed complaints of sexual harassment with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing after receiving sexually explicit taunts and gestures as they drove in the parade. They complained against the fire department that had forced them to be exposed to the harassment by requiring them to participate in the parade.

As a result, the Fire Chief Tracy Jarman and San Diego Firefighters Local 145 revised their policy to ensure that only volunteers will drive in the parade. Going into effect immediately, the Fire Department will offer four hours of overtime pay to anyone who volunteers to drive in the parade. In this way, officials hope that enough firefighters will step forward, ensuring that unwilling drivers will not have to participate. Fire department spokesperson Maurice Luque was confident that the department will find enough volunteers, saying, "Someone is going to step up and want four hours of overtime."

The four firefighter's lawyer, Charles LiMandri of Michigan's Thomas More Law Center, however, still has reservations about the new policy, questioning whether it actually provides sufficient protection for firefighters' right to freedom of conscience as well as their own personal safety in the parade. Pointing out the weakness in the new policy, LiMandri stated, "It doesn't say clearly that no one will be ordered to participate." Nevertheless, the San Diego Fire Department has claimed that they are not going to force anyone to participate.

This new policy is a victory for those who fight to defend heterosexual marriage within the city. Especially in recent years, San Diego has relentlessly worked to bring itself up to step with other liberal Californian cities. On July 17, for example, despite the protests of numerous city residents, the city council voted unanimously in favor of proclaiming July official "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month in the City of San Diego."

The firefighters' victory is not the first time that homosexual supporters and activists have been required to step back. Two years ago it was discovered that a number of sex offenders were volunteering in the Gay Pride Week festivities. San Diego residents were outraged by this discovery, particularly when it was found that a molester, "Marty the Clown", was set to entertain in the San Diego Gay Pride Children's Garden as he had done in past years. Pride organizers were hit with a wave of criticism and complaints until the offenders were taken off the list of volunteer staff (see here).


An ex-Jihadi tells what it was like

For almost four years I was on the front line of British Islamism, serving as a regional officer in northeast England for Hizb ut-Tahrir, an extremist group committed to the creation of a puritanical caliphate. Since leaving the group in 2005, I've been concerned at just how easy it was for me to join a radical Islamist movement and why there was hardly any support available when I decided to leave. Hizb was a large family in many ways, a group offering social support, comradeship, a sense of purpose and validation.

At 21, it was intoxicating for me. I embraced my new Islamist identity and family with eagerness. Islamism transcends cultural norms, so it not only prompted me to reject my British identity but also my ethnic South Asian background. I was neither Eastern nor Western; I was a Muslim, a part of the global ummah, or community, where identity is defined through the fraternity of faith. Islamists insist this identity is not racist because Islam welcomes people of all colours, ethnicities and backgrounds. That was true, but our world view was still horribly bipolar. We didn't distinguish on the basis of colour but on creed. The world was simply divided into believers and non-believers. It was a reality that came back to haunt me last month when I realised that Bilal Abdulla and Kafeel Ahmed, the two men linked with the alleged plot to attack London and Glasgow, were among my closest friends when I studied at Cambridge University.

My time in Cambridge was a turning point. I was studying for a doctorate, researching the development of Islamic political thought in late colonial India, which proved to be my saviour. My research caused me to find marked points of rupture in the historical and theological narrative of what the Hizb was having me believe. Previous generations had failed, the Hizb told me, to apply Islam to the reality of a changed and changing world in the early 20th century. What I found could not have been further from this.

Throughout my thesis I was able to survey a wide range of Muslim opinion across the Indian subcontinent, among whom Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was a leading figure. He explained how Islam obliged Muslims to create a harmonious society. He was adept at offering lucid explanations from the texts of the Koran to show a secular state was validated through Islam. Failing to accommodate diversity showed a neglect of the Koran's opening chapter, al-Fatiha, which emphasises tolerance and mercy. Focusing on division rather than common humanity violated God's unity, said Azad, who insisted in The Tarjuman al-Qur'an that "the unity of man is the primary aim of religion". When independence came in 1947, Azad resisted the creation of Pakistan. Forming an exclusionary political identity in this way was against the essence of Islam.

My findings suffocated me. Far from being emancipated by my discovery, I fell into a spiral of confusion. I had sacrificed all my friends and family for a cause. Had it all been in vain? I felt overwhelmed by feelings of loneliness. And herein lies the problem. There was nowhere for me to turn. I didn't want to take my concerns to the Hizb because I knew what its response would be. If I weren't bullied back into action, I'd be made to feel guilty for leaving. I knew the protocol. When I embraced Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Islamist way of life there was an established network offering social support and validation. Shedding my old life was easy because I was absorbed by an alternative and more self-assured culture.

By the start of 2005, I was mentally no longer an Islamist. But there was no denying that emotionally I didn't have the courage to leave the Hizb. Then my nightmare was realised. I watched as London came under attack on July 7, 2005, by four British Muslims who claimed 52 innocent lives. This was the cauldron of Islamist hate boiling over.

When I resigned from Hizb ut-Tahrir, the social network that had once so warmly embraced me turned bitterly cold and confrontational. The inward love was replaced by the external hate. At 24, I had to rebuild my life, almost entirely from scratch. Traditionally, it is at university that you forge your most enduring and meaningful friendships. Overnight, mine disappeared. Then came hope. During recent months I have spoken at length with Ed Husain, author of The Islamist, who was also once in the ranks of the Hizb (and whose book extracts were reprinted in these pages last month). It was the revelation I was waiting for. When I met him, Husain's first words, breaking their way through a beaming smile, were: "It feels like I've known you for years."

Immediately our stories resonated with remarkable familiarity. We had both experienced the same feelings of isolation and desperation before we plucked up the courage to leave. Finally, I was not alone. Like old war veterans we shared stories, discussed what made us leave and what the future held. Having been a senior member in the Hizb, I know there are scores of others with similar concerns. Some of them have also left and are coming together to form a united front against Islamism. They are not irreligious sell-outs, agents or part of some Judeo-Christian cult committed to the downfall of Islam, as groups such as the Hizb would like to suggest. They are simply former Islamists who have rejected a particular political ideology while remaining committed to their Muslim faith.

The significance of this should not be underestimated. When I first left, I emphasised that the challenges of Islamist extremism could never be overcome until the Muslim community formulated its own response. Since meeting Husain and becoming aware of the emerging network of other former members, many of them also holding a senior rank at one time, I was reassured. An influential figure who is still within the movement but close to leaving recently told me and Husain, "Don't worry, your message is being heard."

The landscape in the Muslim community is changing. Just as the divisive message of political Islam has been spread by young men across Britain, there is a growing number of former activists leading the charge against the ideas that we once helped to promote. I only hope that our testimonies will encourage those still within Islamist movements to find the moral courage to leave.


Baby-feeding correctness

Katie Price, also known as Jordan, the British glamour model with big ambitions and even bigger breasts, has long taken pleasure in shocking the more uptight and prissy inhabitants of Britain's cultural landscape. She has inflated her breasts to 34 FF. She's posed topless for the Sun, nude for FHM, and Wow, Really Nude for Playboy. She used to turn up to movie premieres in items of clothing so revealing they made the once-shocking miniskirt look like the fashion equivalent of the burqa. She stood in the 2001 UK General Election, promising voters free breast implants, more nudist beaches and a complete ban on parking tickets (she got 713 votes). And amidst a cacophony of caterwauling about what a thick chav she allegedly is (the Chavscum website calls her `tacky talentless scum' and a `munting annoyance'), she has built a formidable one-woman modelling and promotions business. According to the Daily Mail's list of `Britain's Richest Celebrity Chavs', Price is worth œ30million, making her one of the wealthiest women in Britain.

Now she has done something that is apparently more shocking than anything on that list of nose-thumbing, puritan-baiting activities. This time she's really wound up those who fancy themselves as the guardians of our moral values. She has caused a `furious row', and has been accused of taking part in an `extremely cynical.stunt'. One organisation has denounced her as `appalling' and is planning to make a complaint about Price and others to the Advertising Standards Authority. What did Katie do next, to attract renewed attacks on her character? You had better be sitting down before you read this: She posed for a photograph in which she is shown bottlefeeding her newborn baby.

That's right - in the current issue of the celebrity magazine OK!, a postnatal yet glamorous Price can clearly be seen feeding her three-week-old daughter, Princess Tiaamii, from a bottle. What's worse, the bottle says `SMA' on it, SMA being one of the leading manufacturers of formula milk for babies. The breastfeeding lobby is up in arms. As a headline in yesterday's Independent on Sunday put it: `Breastfeeding lobby criticises Jordan for infant formula "stunt".' Groups such as the National Childbirth Trust and Baby Milk Action have slammed OK! as irresponsible for publishing such a photo during World Breastfeeding Week and at a time when `in this country, only 48 per cent of six-week-old babies are breastfed, while a quarter of babies get no breast milk' (1). They believe that Price and OK! may be in cahoots with SMA. There is a ban in Britain on promoting infant formula for babies under the age of six months, and some suspect that Price's photo-shoot - in which a loving mother is shown feeding her lovely newborn baby with a bottle of SMA-branded formula - is an `appalling' cynical attempt to circumvent the ban (2). Elsewhere in the current OK! there is an advert for SMA milk for babies over the age of six months.

So what? It would hardly be shocking to discover that a celebrity had used a photo-shoot or a TV appearance or some other publicity stunt to promote a product. They do it all the time. What is shocking, however, is the furious response to a perfectly pleasant photograph of a mother feeding her child. That an image of bottlefeeding can be greeted with such horror - denounced as `appalling' and `irresponsible' - shows how intolerant and hectoring the breastfeeding lobby has become. The `strong advice' that babies should be exclusively breastfed for at least the first six months of life is now promoted by everyone from the World Health Organisation to the National Health Service (NHS). And it is guilt-tripping mums and limiting their choices. Today's incessant promotion of breastfeeding (and the simultaneous demonisation of bottlefeeding as an activity so abhorrent that it apparently should not be depicted in popular magazines) long ago crossed the line from Health Campaign into the territory of the Moral Crusade.

Anyone who picks up the current issue of OK! probably would not be shocked by the Katie Price photo-shoot (unless you have an aversion to pink and half-naked, permantanned celebrities). It is your average `introducing the latest celeb baby to the world' type of spread. There are 19 bright and at times garish full-colour photos of Price, her husband Peter Andre, the former singer, and their daughter Princess Tiaamii - and only in one photo is Price shown bottlefeeding her daughter. Yet that is one photo too many for to the breastfeeding lobby. Today's breastfeeding moralists - or `militant lactivists' as they call themselves in the States - believe that mums should exclusively breastfeed for the first six months (and longer if possible) and should shun the bottle entirely.

In Britain, from the moment a woman gives birth she is cajoled by the health authorities, under the direction of the central government's Department of Health, to breastfeed her baby. Even though surveys continually show that a majority of women do bottlefeed their babies in the first six months of life, still the authorities promote the message that exclusive breastfeeding is the best, safest and most responsible option. An Infant Feeding Survey from a few years ago found that where 69 per cent of babies are breastfed initially, around a fifth of breastfeeding mothers give up within the first two weeks and over a third give up in the first six weeks. The percentage of mums who exclusively breastfeed falls as their babies get older: mothers seem to breastfeed less and bottlefeed more as their infant reaches four months, six months and especially nine months of age (3). Yet while mums seem to prefer mixing breast with bottle, the NHS dishes out leaflets on why every new mum should only breastfeed, bans are enforced on the promotion of formula milk for babies aged six months and under, and breastfeeding promoters rail against the publication of a photo showing a celebrity bottlefeeding her three-week-old baby.

Breast milk is, in some ways, better for babies than formula milk (though formula is still perfectly safe and nutritious). Scientific studies suggest that breast milk offers some protective effect against certain babyhood illnesses, and breastfeeding also allows mothers to regain their figures quite quickly after giving birth. However, today's militant lactivism is about much more than informing mothers of the fairly limited health benefits of one form of milk over another. It is about laying down the line on what makes a Good Mum and what makes a Bad Mum.

Mothers who exclusively breastfeed are seen as natural and earthy. They're seen as women who are willing to follow the advice of Health Workers Who Know Better and to elevate the interests of their newborn baby above their own. Their use of their breasts for feeding is taken as a sign that they have bought into the current trend for child-centred parenting (4). Mothers who opt for the bottle are looked upon as problematic, possibly even troublesome. After all, if they ignore health workers' advice about breastfeeding, what else will they decide to do their own way? Bottlefeeding mums are judged by some to have snubbed child-centred parenting in favour of adopting methods of feeding and childrearing that grant them the flexibility to continue doing things that they enjoy: socialising, working, returning their breasts to their recreational state for their own and their partner's pleasure. Breastfeeding has effectively become a government-imposed test of good motherhood: those who pass, by obediently breastfeeding baby for six months, are praised and celebrated; those who fail, by turning to apparently evil formula milk, are looked upon as `irresponsible', possibly even `appalling'.

That breastfeeding has become a moral crusade is clear from the language that is used to promote it. The message that `breast is best' is strengthened by stringent bans on the advertising of formula milk for infants under six months of age, and by harsh judgements against those, such as Katie Price, who admit publicly that they bottlefeed. Indeed, it's hard to escape the conclusion that what really upset the militant lactivists about Price's spread in OK! magazine is not just the SMA photo, but also what Price herself says about breastfeeding.

Price tells the OK! interviewer: `I don't care what people say - you don't have to breastfeed.' She goes on: `I don't want a baby drinking from me. The thought of it makes me feel really funny. I think only a certain person could handle my knockers!' She also waxes lyrical about the benefits and ease of instant bottlefeeding. `It's brilliant. I have 20 crates of teats and bottles, and I don't have to sterilise or heat anything. You literally take the teat out of the pack, screw it on, throw it away.. They gave me a tablet that dries your milk up so my boobs haven't hurt or leaked or anything.' In today's quite hysterical pro-breastfeeding climate, saying such things - that you think breastfeeding is weird, that you much prefer to use bottles and that you want only your partner to have oral contact with your breasts - is tantamount to committing a mortal sin. In the past, Price's comments would have been looked upon simply as one woman's expression of her mothering preferences. Today, such is the intensity of the lactivists' crusade that Price has landed herself in hot water for daring to challenge the orthodoxy and conformist campaigning of the breastfeeding lobby.

In many ways, Price, the former glamour model turned businesswoman, is more liberated than the breastfeeding cheerleaders at the Department of Health and in campaign groups such as Baby Milk Action and the National Childbirth Trust. The bottle was once seen as a symbol of women's emancipation. If women so chose, they could disconnect themselves physically from baby and instead buy readymade milk, which either they or, importantly, their partners could feed to their child. It seems Price prefers bottles to breast because she wants to get back to work (and her breasts are an important part of her public image) and because she wants only her partner to `handle her knockers': in other words, she is keen to continue carving out a successful career and enjoying her sex life. Militant lactivists, by contrast, seem to view breasts as semi-sacred expressers of milk, and call on all new mothers to submit themselves fully and physically to the task of childrearing. Who would have thought that big-boobed Jordan would make a better defender of women's liberation than the educated feminists in positions of power?


Sydney's Archbishop Jensen bans publicity-seeking Spong

Spong plays well with non-Christians because he too is not a Christian in any discernible sense of the word. Unlike most Anglicans today, Sydney diocese is very clearly committed to a New Testament faith -- and is flourishing because of it. That one diocese comprises a third of all Anglicans in Australia. Note that in the official pic below, Archbishop Jensen is NOT wearing vestments -- in accord with the evangelical orientation of the diocese. Spong, on the other hand, IS normally pictured in clerical garb -- to create an illusion of Christian identity. Jensen has no need of such aids

A row has erupted within the Anglican Church over a visit to Australia by an American cleric who has being accused of modernising Christ to the point of stripping him of all divinity. Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen has taken the extraordinary step of banning John Shelby Spong, a fellow member of the Anglican communion who arrives in Sydney this morning, from churches in his diocese.

By contrast, Anglican Primate Phillip Aspinall has invited Bishop Spong, a leader of the church's liberal wing, to deliver two sermons in Brisbane's St John's Cathedral. The retired Episcopal bishop of Newark, New Jersey, Bishop Spong will also give a public lecture at St Aidan's Anglican Girls School in Brisbane.

At the direction of Dr Jensen, the current edition of the Sydney diocese's newspaper, Southern Cross, has devoted two pages to an attack on Bishop Spong and his new book, Jesus for the Non-Religious. The book questions biblical references to the nature of the birth of Jesus Christ, his ability to perform miracles and the Resurrection.

Speaking on behalf of Dr Jensen, Bishop of South Sydney Robert Forsyth said Dr Aspinall was wrong to welcome Bishop Spong to Brisbane. "The judgment of the primate is, in our view, ill-advised," Bishop Forsyth said. "It is a mistake. It is the wrong thing to do." He said many in the church were distressed by Bishop Spong's latest book, the promotion of which was a major reason for his Australian visit. "He is attempting to reconstruct Christ to make him acceptable to the modern community but it is disastrous," Bishop Forsyth said. "Jesus ends up as a non-divine entity in this attempt to find a human Jesus. The result is a gutting of the Christian faith."

Dr Aspinall defended his decision to welcome the American bishop. "Bishop Spong speaking at St John's Cathedral is not particularly extraordinary," he said. "That Bishop Spong holds views which some Anglicans might find challenging is no reason to exclude him from speaking. "Our church has thousands of members and widely diverse views on a wide variety of subjects. "I am sure Anglicans willlisten respectfully to the bishop's views and make their own minds up."

One of the organisers of the visit, Brisbane priest Greg Jenks said Bishop Spong's critics were overreacting. "His new book is a good summation of how many people understand the place of Jesus," Dr Jenks said. "It is not dramatically new information. Bishop Spong has shown courageous leadership in our church of a kind we are in need of."

During a 2001 visit to Australia, Bishop Spong was banned by the then Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane, Peter Hollingworth, from Brisbane diocesan churches. But during a 2003 visit, he was a house guest in Brisbane of Dr Hollingworth's successor -- Dr Aspinall. While Bishop Spong has been barred by his own church in Sydney, the Uniting Church has welcomed him to the city. The Australian launch of Bishop Spong's book will be held on Thursday at Sydney's Pitt Street Uniting Church, where he will attend the Common Dreams Conference this weekend.

Bishop Spong, a prolific author and longtime supporter of female and gay priests, retired as bishop of Newark in 2000. Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Choir will perform for the bishop at a farewell service in the Spirit of Life Unitarian Fellowship church at the completion of his Australian visit next month.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


14 August, 2007

Balcony fall case update

Patrick Walsh, 56, who was arrested after the death of a suspected burglar in a fall from a window of his fourth-floor flat in South Manchester, will have no further action taken against him. Police said that “following an exchange of words” the suspect fell from the window on to the pavement. He died in hospital.


Your government will protect you -- again

The mother of a 17-month-old boy and her boyfriend have been arrested on suspicion of murder after the child died from horrific injuries. It is understood that the boy was taken to a North London hospital with a broken back, fractured ribs and at least two fingernails missing. The child, who is believed to have been monitored by social services, died an hour after arriving at hospital. A police source described the case as horrific.

An investigation has begun into whether social services in Haringey could have prevented the death. The child was believed to have been on the council’s “at risk” register. The child’s death will once again raise crucial questions about Haringey council’s ability to protect children who are at risk from abusive parents or guardians. The council came in for fierce criticism four years ago after a report into the murder of Victoria Climbie highlighted serious social services failings in the monitoring of her welfare.

Yesterday officers from the Metropolitan Police Child Abuse Investigation Command arrested a 25-year old woman and 31-year old man on suspicion of murdering the boy. They are believed to be the child’s mother and her boyfriend. The child, who has not been named to protect the identity of his siblings, died at midday on August 3 at North Middlesex Hospital. Police were called because staff believed the death was suspicious. A postmortem examination, carried out at Great Ormond Street Hospital, proved inconclusive and further tests are being carried out to establish a cause of death.

Haringey council has ordered a serious case review involving police, the health service and social services after the latest death. A spokesman for the council said: “Police, health and social services and GPs will contribute to the review and it will examine the roll of those involved. This review is routine in suspicious deaths such as these.”

Victoria Climbie’s death seven years ago led to one of the biggest inquiries into child protection in Britain. Her great-aunt, Marie-Therese Kouao, and the woman’s boyfriend, Carl Manning, were jailed for life for murder in 2001. Lord Laming’s final report in 2003 identified major failings in all the agencies that had come into contact with Victoria during her short life in Haringey. The inquiry found that care workers missed at least 12 chances to save the girl. Despite their contact with her, staff knew no more about her when she died than when they first saw her. Victoria died from 128 injuries despite regular contact with social workers in four London boroughs, doctors at two hospitals and the police. Lord Laming said it was lamentable that “nothing more than basic good practice” would have saved her.

This year the council was criticised over allegations that its social workers were ignoring other child abuse cases. During an employment tribunal Nevres Kemal, a senior Haringey social worker, claimed that the council’s inaction exposed seven children to serious risk of abuse by their stepfather. Ms Kemal alleged that, when she raised these concerns with her superiors, she was victimised and suffered racial discrimination.



By Manfred Gerstenfeld


Anti-Semitism's core theme is that Jews embody absolute evil. It has been propagated intensely for many centuries. This extreme fallacy and its principal submotifs have remained largely the same over the ages. Their representation, however, has evolved according to circumstances. The three main permutations of the core theme are religious anti-Semitism-one might call it more precisely anti-Judaism, ethnic (racist) anti-Semitism, and anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism.

These three permutations have a number of common characteristics. There is an ongoing, powerful promotion of a discourse of Jew-hatred.The main motif of the Jew constituting absolute evil manifests itself according to the prevailing worldviews at a given time. Verbal or physical attacks are common against both Jews and Israelis. Jews and nowadays Israel are judged by standards applied to them but not to others. In its extreme form, the anti-Semitic process has three stages: demonization, isolation, and elimination.

The anti-Semitic character of anti-Israelism can be proved through the analysis of cartoons, opinion survey findings, statistical analysis, and semantics. During the summer 2006 war in Lebanon, further proof emerged that anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism go hand in hand.
The three main permutations of anti-Semitism have a number of common characteristics. These include:

1. There is an ongoing, powerful promotion of a discourse of Jew-hatred. This demonization has developed major subthemes over the years that recur in various disguises and gradually permeate society's narrative. With time the accusations become increasingly complex and difficult to disentangle. On this substrate the Jews' enemies build further when circumstances are suitable, when they wish to attack a specific person or group, or when they seek a scapegoat in a given situation.

2. The main motif of the Jew constituting absolute evil expresses itself according to the prevailing worldviews at a given time. The Jew is denounced as the quintessential other as perceived at that moment. When Christianity dominated the mindset, the Jew was presented as the killer of God, the Antichrist, and Satan. In periods of strong nationalism, Jews are portrayed as radically alien elements. When the societal emphasis is on race, Jews are depicted as an extremely inferior one. When ideological currents promote universalism, the state of Israel is demonized as nationalist, racist, and colonialist.

3. The core accusation of the Jew being evil splits up into submotifs. A central one is desire for power. This is seen first and foremost in the promotion of conspiracy theories-the prime one being The Protocols of the Elders of Zion -but also in many other variants. Other permutations include thirst for blood, infanticide, having a subhuman nature, and lust for money. These originated in the worlds of Christian or racist anti-Semitism. Many have been rejected and discredited but have not disappeared in the West, or are now recurring with respect to Israel.

4. One recurring fundamental accusation is that Jews have a severe genetic deficiency. Christian teachings said the Jew was born guilty because the forefathers of some Jews were reputedly responsible for the death of their religion's originator. Christian anti-Semitism, however, had an escape clause: Jews could convert and thereby, if all went well, rid themselves of the birth defect.

Yet when Jews converted massively in medieval Spain, a new genetic criterion to discriminate against the converts and their children was introduced: the purity of blood. Nazism went further and said the - supposed - severe genetic defects of the Jewish race, which made them pathologically dangerous, could not be repaired. The logical conclusion of this hate propaganda was that Jews had to be eliminated. The "Final Solution" envisioned the mass murder of all Jews, as implemented to a substantial extent in the Holocaust.

In our days the genetic motif has mutated further. Mainly in Arab and Western left-wing circles, one hears the anti-Semitic accusation that Israel was born in sin, that is, by driving out the Palestinians. This is not the sole attack on Israel's original legitimacy. The Holocaust denial by Iranian president Ahmadinejad is based on the fallacy that Israel's establishment was the direct result of the Holocaust. He thus thinks that if one could undermine the European narrative about the mass murder of Jews by saying it was a fabrication, then the basis on which the state of Israel was created would disappear.

Israeli political scientist Shlomo Avineri remarked ironically about Israel's birth in sin: "This is in contrast to the Arab states having been immaculately conceived."[6] The anti-Semitic character of the accusation becomes clearer when one considers that if a second Palestinian state should arise in addition to Jordan, its origins will be in genocidal propaganda, terrorism, war crimes, and corruption.

Another regularly recurring motif is that some Jews or Israelis can escape condemnation provided they publicly oppose Israeli policies. This sometimes happens in selective academic and similar boycott campaigns against Israel where those Israelis who are willing to denounce their government are sometimes excluded from the boycott.[7]

An example of the latter occurred when in March 2006 a British dance magazine, Dance Europe, refused to publish an article on Israeli choreographer Sally Ann Freeland. The editor said she would publish the piece only if Freeland condemned "the occupation." She refused and the article was dropped.[8] Economic boycott campaigns against Israel, on the other hand, leave no room for exceptions.

5. As circumstances changed over the centuries, the main anti-Semitic motifs were dressed up in different ways, often according to the local situation. As time passes, the central subthemes fragment and mutate, though rarely are major new ones added. In postmodern times, anti-Semitic mutations and fragmentations increase rapidly. This is what makes contemporary anti-Semitism such a many-sided, complicated challenge.

6. Verbal or physical attacks are often against both Jews and Israelis. This merging of targets is the strongest among many current proofs of the substantial overlap between anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism. It again emerged in many European reactions to the summer 2006 war in Lebanon.

7. Jews and nowadays Israel are judged by standards applied to them but not to others. As former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler observed: "Traditional anti-Semitism denied Jews the right to live as equal members of society, but the new anti-Jewishness denies the right of the Jewish people to live as an equal member of the family of nations."[9]

Former Swedish deputy prime minister Per Ahlmark pointed out: Anti-Zionism today has become very similar to anti-Semitism. Anti-Zionists accept the right of other peoples to national feelings and a defensible state. But they reject the right of the Jewish people to have its national consciousness expressed in the State of Israel and to make that state secure. Thus, they are not judging Israel with the values used to judge other countries. Such discrimination against Jews is called anti-Semitism.[10]

A typical, more recent example of such double standards is the new UN Human Rights Council, which, according to the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Itzhak Levanon, "has focused on Israel to the exclusion of other pressing human rights needs."[11] The council, for instance, has not passed a resolution condemning the over two hundred thousand deaths in Darfur, nor dealt with major human rights violations in countries such as China, for example.

8. Although current demonization of Israel and the Jews comes mainly from the Arab and Muslim world, the same sorts of motifs and semantics are also expressed in extreme left- and right-wing Western circles. This also pertains, be it of lower intensity, to the Western mainstream. This can best be demonstrated by analyzing anti-Semitic cartoons, which rely on familiar and immediately grasped stereotypes for their effectiveness.

9. In its extreme form, the anti-Semitic process has three stages:




The latter can be implemented by expulsion or destruction.

Joshua Trachtenberg summed up in one sentence how medieval Christendom demonized the Jew. It "saw him-sorcerer, murderer, cannibal, poisoner, blasphemer, the devil's disciple in all truth."[12]

How far today's demonizers have already succeeded emerged in a report on Israel's international image by the Anholt Nation Brand Index. The report concluded that: "Israel's brand is, by a considerable margin, the most negative we have ever measured in the NBI, and comes in at the bottom of the ranking on almost every question."[13]

10. In recent decades, improvements in communications have accelerated the spread of anti-Semitism worldwide in all its permutations. The internet has added a new, rapid means of transmitting prejudice, including anti-Semitism.[14] This is termed "cyberhate," and it plays a major role in the postmodern global war against Israel and the Jews.[15] Nazism used mass media effectively to demonize the Jews. The internet plays a similar role and is much faster.

In its September 2006 report, the British All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism recognized the impact of today's communication technologies: "Anti-Semitism can now [be] disseminated faster and further than ever before. Egyptian and Syrian state television broadcast anti-Jewish propaganda to millions of homes, including in the UK, and far right and radical Islamist organizations are using the internet as a key component in their campaigns of hatred."[16]


The late-twentieth and early-twenty-first-century explosion of anti-Israelism, a hate phenomenon that had existed for decades at much lower levels, caught the Jewish world and Israel by surprise. Certain authors, however, had already described several aspects of the anti-Zionist permutation of anti-Semitism.

In 1979, in the original French version of his book The Anti-Zionist Complex, Jacques Givet wrote: "The anti-Zionist becomes an overt anti-Semite as soon as he goes beyond criticism of the policies of the Jerusalem government (a favorite activity of the Israelis themselves) and challenges the very existence of the State of Israel."[17]

In France-where new mutations of anti-Semitism are frequently pioneered-the overlap of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism occurred at an early stage. It was partly linked to the large number of communist intellectuals. This came to the fore, for instance, during the so-called doctors' plot in 1953. Jewish doctors in the Soviet Union were accused of having caused the deaths of leading political figures by incorrect diagnosis and treatment. This was accompanied by a campaign against "cosmopolitanism" and Zionism.

French communist intellectuals organized a major solidarity meeting in Paris. Many of the speakers explained that it was normal practice to suspect doctors of poisoning people, as Mengele had done in Auschwitz. A Jewish physician publicly stated, adducing German behavior during World War II, that one could not rule out that Jews or Zionists had decided to poison Soviet personalities.[18]

A retired Israeli diplomat, stationed in the early 1980s at the Israeli embassy in Oslo, told how he had been invited to speak at the General Headquarters of the Norwegian army on Israel's military strategy. During question time, one of the generals asked why the Jews had "crucified our Lord." The Israeli diplomat asked the questioner what that had to do with the topic. The general replied that he had taken this opportunity for the question because the diplomat was the first Jew he had ever met and presumably could give an answer, since his ancestors were probably responsible. The diplomat then suggested that he call upon the ambassador of Italy as he was likely to be a descendant of the Romans who had pronounced the verdict.[19]

It took many years until it was more widely accepted, with many provisos, that anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism overlap. Human rights expert Jean-Christophe Ruffin, in a 2004 report he prepared for the French interior minister, explicitly linked anti-Semitism to the anti-Israeli mood prevailing in the country: "It is not conceivable today to fight actively in France against anti-Semitism in its new mutations without going all-out to try and balance anew the public's view of the situation in the Middle East."[20]

In a 2006 report titled "Campus Anti-Semitism," the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found, among other things, that: "Anti-Israeli or anti-Zionist propaganda has been disseminated on many campuses that include traditional anti-Semitic elements, including age-old anti-Jewish stereotypes and defamation." A second finding was that "anti-Semitic bigotry is no less morally deplorable when camouflaged as anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism." The report also stated: "substantial evidence suggests that many university departments of Middle East studies provide one-sided, highly polemical academic presentations and some may repress legitimate debate concerning Israel."[21]

The abovementioned Report of the British All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism also observed: Anti-Zionist discourse can be polluted with anti-Semitic themes in different ways and with different levels of intent. It can be used deliberately as a way to mask or articulate prejudice against Jews. It is difficult to counter because one must first identify and explain the anti-Semitism behind the language and imagery. For instance, a far right party may use the terms of "Zionist" and "Zionism" instead of "Jews" and "Jewish."[22]

A major handicap in exposing the racist anti-Zionist permutation of anti-Semitism was the lack of a generally accepted contemporary definition of anti-Semitism. An important attempt to define the "new" anti-Semitism was made by Cotler. He already drew attention to several of the points later included in the definition of the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), such as calling for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people, "Nazifying" Israel, and discriminatory treatment of Israel by denying it equality before the law.[23]

More here


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


13 August, 2007

NYPD terror adviser sued for 'anti-Islamic' messages

A Muslim analyst for the New York City Police Department is suing the city for workplace harassment, alleging he was subject to a regular stream of "anti-Islamic" messages from an e-mail list run by a former adviser who trained detectives in counter-terrorism.

The contracted adviser, retired 21-year CIA veteran Bruce Tefft, is also a defendant in the suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan last December. But Tefft - a founder of the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Unit - told WND he believes the analyst, who is not named in court papers, has no case against him. Tefft, noting the suit so far has cost him $50,000 in legal fees, cites First Amendment protections and argues NYPD personnel signed up for his e-mail list at their own will and were completely free to unsubscribe at any time. He also points out his employer at the time, the private intelligence firm Orion Scientific Systems, covered his entire salary and expenses, effectively donating his services to the NYPD.

A hearing is scheduled for next month on a motion to dismiss the case. Tefft continues to send out about 50 to 60 e-mails a day comprised mostly of unclassified material and news reports from around the world related to terrorism and Islam. In a fraction of those dispatches he adds his own comments, some of which became a focus of the complaint. "This is a global war we are in," Tefft said, explaining the relevance of the e-mailed reports to domestic officials. "The enemy is a global enemy. Jihadists are all over the world. So whatever goes on around the world has value here."

The suit by the Egyptian-born analyst - who filed as "John Doe Anti-Terrorism Officer" because he works undercover in the Cyber Unit - says the e-mails "ridiculed and disparaged the Muslim religion and Arab people, and stated that Muslim- and Arab-Americans were untrustworthy and could not reliably serve in law enforcement positions or handle sensitive data." He also claims he was subject to disparaging remarks by NYPD personnel and that on one occasion, Muslim and Arab-American employees of the intelligence unit were asked to leave the room after giving a presentation, while other employees were allowed to stay, according to the New York Observer.

The suit contends that despite the analyst's repeated complaints to supervisors about Tefft's e-mail distribution over a period of three years, the city "failed to do anything to stop it." "Tefft's hate-filled and humiliating email briefings were distributed to virtually all City employees who worked in the NYPD's Intelligence Division, including the highest-ranking members of that division and Plaintiff's supervisors," says the complaint. The Muslim analyst's lawyer, Ilann Maazel, was not available for comment.

The analyst, a former prison guard at the city's Rikers Island jail, has been assigned since 1998 to the NYPD's Intelligence Division, where he helped form the Cyber Unit in 2002, Maazel told the New York Times in December. The members scan the Internet to monitor potential threats, and Maazel said the analyst's family in Egypt could be harmed if the nature of his work were revealed.

According to the suit, Tefft's personal notes on the e-mails included comments such as "a good Muslim . can't be a good American," "Burning the hate-filled Koran should be viewed as a public service at the least," and "This is not a war against terrorism ... it is against Islam and we are not winning." On one article headlined "1 in 4 Hold Anti-Muslim Views," Tefft added, "Then 1 in 4 is well-informed." On another one titled, "Has U.S. threatened to vaporize Mecca?" he commented, "Excellent idea, if true."

Tefft, who spent 17 of his 21 years in clandestine services stationed overseas, including hot spots such as Mogadishu and Angola, makes no apologies for his views. "I won't dispute what I was saying; I could justify what I said about Islam," he told WND. Tefft believes the threat of Islam to the U.S. is so serious he has no time to mince words. "I'm not a sentimentalist, and I'm not hate-filled either," he said. "Hate is an emotion. I don't feel emotional about it at all. I feel analytical and logical."

Tefft insists there clearly is a link between fundamental Islam and terror. "There is nothing un-Islamic about Osama bin Laden," he said of the al-Qaida leader. "If there were, he would have been declared apostate, non Islamic."

Maazel, in a December interview with the New York Times, called the e-mails "racist," but Tefft says that is absurd. "I don't consider Islam a race," he said. "So to call me racist is ridiculous. I have good friends who are Egyptian officials. I've worked all over the world." Islam, he maintains, should be regarded as a political ideology bent on world conquest....


Academic distortions

By V.D. Hanson

I. Presidential aspirant Mike Gravel recently opined on the advantages of having gays in the military: "...the Spartans trained their people to be homosexuals because they were better fighters."

Not quite. I think the popular myth that has fooled Gravel has arisen lately because of the movie 300 - and the natural confusion between the Spartan 300 who died holding the pass at Thermopylai (480 BC) and the 300 of the Theban Sacred Band (378-338 BC).

The Spartans did not instruct their youth to be homosexuals (no word really exists in the Greek vocabulary for our notion of homosexual). Xenophon (Lac. Pol. 2.13), for example, insisted that the older males in the army were specifically not to engage in physical relations with their younger warrior-pages (paidika).

And if in reality some hoplite soldiers occasionally did engage in what we would call gay sex, in Sparta or elsewhere, the practice was analogous to the protocols of the modern prison in the absence of women: physical relationships were loosely defined among those interested as an active older male and a younger male that served as a surrogate female. In general, most Greeks thought that male sexual passivity was shameful, as was exclusively male sex, as were those who appeared outwardly feminine.

The closest the classical Greek world of the polis came to Gravel's notion of an idealized gay warrior cult was in Thebes, where the 300 aristocrats (150 pairs of "lovers") of the Sacred Band fought often at the acme of the phalanx-a very small cadre (perhaps less than 2-3% of the Boiotian army) that was predicated on class and philosophically idealized. But even here we are not quite sure what actually was the relationship between eromenoi ("beloved") and erastai ("lovers") in this tiny clique; it might not necessarily have even been physical. So in general, the Spartans most certainly did not train their soldiers to be homosexuals.

II. Just saw an eerie tape of a smiling Prof. John Mearsheimer ("A very small percentage of the American casualties is due to the Iranians" and "Iran is not responsible in any meaningful way for our trouble in Iraq") expounding on Iran and the bomb at the recent Daily Kos convention.

I say eerie since he gave a brief excursus on Persian philology and why we have been hoodwinked into thinking that Ahmadinejad said something to the effect that Israel should be wiped off the map.

But aside from the ongoing dispute between Persian scholars over the proper translation, to dwell on that point is to ignore the serial assertions (and reasons for such assertions) by Ahmadinejad that there was no Holocaust, and the far scarier announcement not long ago by Rafsanjani that "the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam."

Mearsheimer then followed almost immediately with a disclaimer that even if Ahmadinejad did actually say what he just had insisted he didn't say, that it was a mere "idle threat." But "idle" for whom, a mere 60 years after the Holocaust?

Even worse was his moral equivalence of arguing that it is de facto permissible for Iran to have a bomb since Israel has one too-as if an anti-American theocracy run according to Sharia Law is no more a nuclear threat than a pro-American liberal democracy


Tony Blair's domestic legacy: corruption and the erosion of liberty

Some excerpts from THEODORE DALRYMPLE below

At the outset of his tenure, Mr. Blair said that his government would be tough on crime and on the causes of crime. He wanted to appeal--and succeeded in appealing--to two constituencies at once: those who wanted criminals locked up, and those who saw crime as the natural consequence of social injustice, a kind of inchoate protest against the conditions in which they lived.

Mr. Blair's resultant task was to obfuscate, so that the electorate and even experts could not find out, without great difficulty, what was going on. For example, Mr. Blair's government, aware of public unrest about the number of criminals leaving prison only to commit further serious crimes, introduced indeterminate sentencing--open-ended imprisonment--apparently a tough response to repeat offenders. But the reality was different: the sentencing judges still had the discretion to determine such criminals' parole dates, which, in England, are de facto release dates. The sentences that criminals would serve, in other words, would be no longer than before the new law.

Another way to confuse the public was to corrupt official statistics. Last year, to take one example, the government dropped three simple but key measures from the compendious statistics that it gathers about people serving community sentences--that is, various kinds of service and supervision outside prison: their criminal histories prior to sentencing, their reconviction rates, and the number given prison sentences while serving their community sentences. Instead, it introduced an utterly meaningless measure, at least from a public-safety perspective: the proportion of people with community sentences who abide by such conditions as weekly attendance for an hour at a probation office.

The police also received encouragement to keep crime numbers down by not recording crimes. The crime rate has fallen in part because shoplifting has ceased to be a crime, for instance. Police now deal with it the way they do with parking violations: shoplifters get on-the-spot fines worth half, on average, of the value of the goods that they have stolen.

The problem of unemployment in Britain illustrates perfectly the methods that Mr. Blair's government used to obscure the truth. The world generally believes that, thanks to Labour's prudent policies, Britain now enjoys low unemployment; indeed, Mr. Blair has often lectured other leaders on the subject. The low rate is not strictly a lie: those counted officially as unemployed are today relatively few.

Unfortunately, those counted as sick are many; and if you add the numbers of unemployed and sick together, the figure remains remarkably constant in recent years, oscillating around 3.5 million, though the proportion of sick to unemployed has risen rapidly. Approximately 2.7 million people are receiving disability benefits in Britain, 8% or 9% of the workforce, highly concentrated in the areas of former unemployment; more people are claiming that psychiatric disorders prevent them from working than are claiming that work is unavailable. In the former coal-min- ing town of Merthyr Tydfil, about a quarter of the adult population is on disability. Britain is thus the ill man of Europe, though all objective indicators suggest that people are living longer and healthier lives than ever.

Three groups profit from this statistical legerdemain: first, the unemployed themselves, because disability benefits are about 60% higher than unemployment benefits, and, once one is receiving them, one does not have to pretend to be looking for work; second, the doctors who make the bogus diagnoses, because by doing so they remove a possible cause of conflict with their patients and, given the assault rate on British doctors, this is important to them; and finally, the government, which can claim to have reduced unemployment.

But such obfuscation is destructive of human personality. The unemployed have to pretend something untrue--namely, that they are sick; the medical profession winds up humiliated and dispirited by taking part in fraud; and the government avoids, for a time, real economic problems. Thus the whole of society finds itself corrupted and infantilized by its inability to talk straight; and that Mr. Blair could speak with conviction of the low unemployment rate, and believe that he was telling the truth, is to me worse than if he had been a dastardly cynic.

Tony Blair's most alarming characteristic, however, has been his enmity to freedom in his own country, whatever his feelings about it in other countries. No British prime minister in 200 years has done more to curtail civil liberties than has Mr. Blair. Starting with an assumption of his infinite beneficence, he assumed infinite responsibility, with the result that Britain has become a country with a degree of official surveillance that would make a Latin American military dictator envious. Sometimes this surveillance is merely ludicrous--parking-enforcement officers' wearing miniature closed-circuit security cameras in their caps to capture abusive responses from those ticketed, say, or local councils' attaching sensing devices to the garbage cans of three million homes to record what people throw away, in order to charge them for the quantity and quality of their trash.

But often the government's reach is less innocuous. For example, in the name of national security, the government under Mr. Blair's leadership sought to make passport applicants provide 200 pieces of information about themselves, including bank-account details, and undergo interrogation for half an hour. If an applicant refused to allow the information to circulate through other government departments, he would not get a passport, with no appeal. The government also cooked up a plan to require passport holders to inform the police if they changed their address.

A justification presented for these Orwellian arrangements was the revelation that a would-be terrorist, Dhiren Barot, had managed to obtain nine British passports before his arrest because he did not want an accumulation of stamps from suspect countries in any of them. At the same time, it came to light that the Passport Office issues 10,000 passports a year to fraudulent applicants--hardly surprising, since its staff consists largely of immigrants, legal and illegal.

As was often the case with Mr. Blair and his government, the solution proposed was not only completely disproportionate to the problem; it was not even a solution. The government has admitted that criminal gangs have already forged the U.K.'s new high-tech passports. The only people, then, whom the process will trouble are the people who need no surveillance. No sensible person denies the danger of Islamic extremism in Britain; but just as the fact that the typical Briton finds himself recorded by security cameras 300 times a day does not secure him in the slightest from crime or antisocial behavior, which remain prevalent in Britain, so no one feels any safer from the terrorist threat despite the ever-increasing government surveillance.

Mr. Blair similarly showed no respect for precedent and gradual reform by Parliament itself, which--in the absence of an American-style written constitution--have been the nation's guiding principles. By decree, he made the civil service answerable to unelected political allies, for the first time in history; he devoted far less attention to Parliament than did any previous prime minister; the vast majority of legislation under his premiership (amounting to a blizzard so great that lawyers cannot keep up with it) passed without effective parliamentary oversight, in effect by decree; one new criminal offense was created every day except Sundays for 10 years, 60% of them by such decree, ranging from the selling of gray squirrels and Japanese bindweed to failure to nominate someone to turn off your house alarm if it triggers while you are out; he abolished the independence of the House of Lords, the only, and very limited, restraint on the elected government's power; he eliminated the immemorial jurisprudential rule against double jeopardy; he wanted to introduce preventive detention for people whom doctors deemed dangerous, even though they had as yet committed no crime; he passed a Civil Contingencies Act that permits the British government, if it believes that an emergency anywhere in the world threatens serious damage to human welfare or to the environment in Britain, to confiscate or destroy property without compensation.

That Mr. Blair should have turned out to be so authoritarian ought to come as no surprise to those who listened to the timbre of some of his early pronouncements. His early emphasis on youth; his pursuit of what he called, grandiosely, the Third Way (as if no one had thought of it before); his desire to create a "New Britain"; his assertion that the Labour Party was the political arm of the British people (as if people who did not support it were in some way not British)--some have thought all this contained a Mussolinian, or possibly Peronist, ring. It is ridiculous to say that Tony Blair was a fascist; but it would be equally absurd to see him as a defender of liberty, at least in his own country.....


Australia: Federal Leftist dishonesty about Iraq

A LEAKED letter from Kevin Rudd to Prime Minister John Howard shows the Opposition Leader backed Australia's involvement in Iraq in the aftermath of the invasion. The letter is at odds with Mr Rudd's current position that Iraq is "the greatest failure of national security policy since Vietnam" and will embarrass him in the run-up to the federal election.

In the letter, obtained by The Sunday Mail, Mr Rudd briefed Mr Howard on how to win in Iraq. Mr Rudd's November 2003 letter to the PM reveals that, far from opposing Australian involvement, he supported it. "Now that regime change has occurred in Baghdad, it is the Opposition's view that it is now the responsibility of all people of goodwill, both in this country and beyond, to put their shoulder to the wheel in an effort to build a new Iraq," Mr Rudd, as Labor's foreign affairs spokesman, said in the letter. He went on to recommend five policies. But he made no mention of troop withdrawal, even though three months later, then-Labor leader Mark Latham announced he would have the troops home by Christmas. The recommendations included:

* "An immediate review of protective security arrangements for all Australian staff in Iraq".

* "Deploying an appropriate number of trainers for capacity enhancement of the New Iraqi Army and the Iraqi Police Force."

* Public employment measures to soak up the idleness of young men from joining terrorist groups.

* Using the Australian Electoral Commission to help Iraq stage elections.

* A smooth transition of the Oil for Food program to ensure Iraqis had proper food and medical supplies.

All of these measures were eventually adopted. Mr Rudd's letter was sent just as the Iraqi insurgency was gathering momentum, and after a visit to Baghdad. But in a speech last week, Mr Rudd outlined a different approach. "Despite the professionalism of the Australian Defence Force, the prosecution of the Iraq war has failed all key objectives set for it by the Howard Government," Mr Rudd told the Australian Security Policy Institute in Canberra.

Mr Rudd said no weapons of mass destruction were found, democracy had not spread in the Middle East, terrorism had blossomed and Iran's power had been enhanced. Labor now wants to pull out Australian combat troops if it wins this year's federal poll.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


12 August, 2007

Secular fundamentalists are the new totalitarians

The article reproduced below says that militant secularists like Richard Dawkins are taking their revenge on believers for refusing to stay in the closet. It seems to me that atheists who attack Christianity are shaky in their own convictions. They attack Christianity to make themselves feel good. I am myself the most thorough atheist you will find. I do not even think that the word "God" is meaningful. But I greatly respect Christians and will always defend them

There's an aspiring totalitarianism in Britain which is brilliantly disguised. It's disguised because the would-be dictators - and there are many of them - all pretend to be more tolerant than thou. They hide alongside the anti-racists, the anti-homophobes and anti-sexists. But what they are really against is something very different. They - call them secular fundamentalists - are anti-God, and what they really want is the eradication of religion, and all believers, from the face of the earth.

In recent years these unpleasant people have had a strategy of exploiting Britain's innate politeness. They realised that for a decade overly sensitive souls (normally called the PC brigade) had bent over backwards to avoid giving offence. Trying not to give offence was, despite the excesses, a noble courtesy.

But the fundamentalists saw an opening. Because we live in a multiconfessional society, they fostered the falsehood that wearing a crucifix or a veil or a turban was deeply offensive to other faiths. They pretended to be protecting religious sensibilities as a pretext to strip us of all religious expressions. In 2006 Jack Straw and BA fell into the fundamentalists' trap.

But Britons are actually laissez-faire about such things. And so the fundamentalists deployed an opposite tactic. Instead of pretending to protect religious sensibilities, they went on the offensive and sought to give offence. The subsequent reactions to the play Behzti in Birmingham, to Jerry Springer the Opera and to the Danish cartoons were wheeled out as examples of why religious groups are unable to live with our cherished freedom and tolerance.

In recent years the nastier side of this totalitarianism has become blatantly apparent. It emerged with the hijab issue in France. With the hijab ban in French schools, a state was banishing religion not only from its corridors, but also from its citizens. It was an assertion that after centuries of the naked public square (denuded of religion referents) the public now too had to go naked. The former had been true tolerance, something exceptional and laudable. It allowed everyone to bring their own cosmic testimony to the square. But this new form of "tolerance" changed things. From everyone being welcome, it had become everyone but.

There's a background to all this. Since 2001, lazy intellectuals have been allowed to get away with repeating the nonsense that terrorism and war are the consequences of belief in God. Believers are ridiculed for being, in contrast to the stupendously brainy atheists, very dim. Listen to Richard Dawkins' comment on Nadia Eweida (the BA employee who refused to take off her cross): "she had one of the most stupid faces I've ever seen." Nice.

There's also the fact that we live in a cultural milieu dominated by postmodernism. Broadly speaking, it attempts to deconstruct power and its narratives. It tries to rescue the marginalised. A noble intent, but because it doesn't believe in truth, anything goes. The tyranny of orthodoxy has been replaced by the tyranny of relativism. You're supposed to believe in nothing, and hence nihilists and atheists are suddenly rather chic. Postmodernism has taken tolerance to the extremes, where extremists thrive. It's a dangerous form of appeasement.

The greatest appeasers, however, have been the believers. Until recently many hid their religion in the closet. They conceded that it was something private. Until a few years ago religion was similar to soft drugs: a blind eye was turned to private use but woe betide you if you were caught dealing. Only recently have believers realised that religion is certainly personal, but it can never be private.

The reasons for that "outing" of believers are complex. But what is certain is that wise agnostics pleaded with believers to take a public lead again, because the point about believers is that they are obeying (and disobeying) all sorts of commandments that the state doesn't see or understand. Because they are able to differentiate sin from crime, they have a moral register more nuanced than most. Even a wise atheist (and I've met a few of them in church, as they desperately try to get their kids into the local C of E school) knows that believers can deal with social anarchy much better than the state ever can.

That is why these fundamentalists are so in evidence. They're not only needled by their own hypocrisy; they are also furious that believers have broken the old pact to stay out of public debate. Witness, for example, Mary Riddell's astonishing sentence in the Observer last month (try replacing "religion" with "homosexuality" to get the point): "secularists do not wish to harm religion or deny its great cultural influence. They simply want it to know its place." In other words: get back in the closet.

Christians feel particularly aggrieved because we believe that Jesus invented secularism. Jesus's teachings desacralised the state: no authority, not even Caesar's, was comparable to God's. As Nick Spencer writes in Doing God, "the secular was Christianity's gift to the world, denoting a public space in which authorities should be respected, but could be legitimately challenged and could never accord to themselves absolute or ultimate significance". Christianity, far from creating an absolutist state, initiated dissent from state absolutism.

And so for centuries a combination of British agnosticism and pragmatism meant that believers were judged not by the causes of their belief, but by its consequences. Everyone could taste the fruits, even those who couldn't believe in a sustaining, invisible root. These new militants, however, believe themselves to be the only arbiters of taste; they want to eradicate the root and cause. They will dictate what you can wear and what you can say. That, after all, is what totalitarians do.


CAIR, desperate to defame Robert Spencer, grasps at straws

Post lifted from Robert Spencer. See the original for links

Several people have notified me of an item entitled "Anti-Hate Blogger Slams Robert Spencer's 'Spin'" at CAIR's website. CAIR has had its hounds out lately, with Ibrahim Hooper slandering me on Paula Zahn's show, strongly implying that I wrote words that I did not write and do not believe.

Hot on the heels of that came the now-infamous bullying letter from CAIR's lawyers, threatening Young America's Foundation with legal action if they allowed me to speak last week (which I did). That letter contained false and defamatory charges against me, charges that the lawyers did not -- and cannot -- substantiate.

And now comes this, which shows that CAIR is really getting desperate. The entry on CAIR's site contains a link to a lengthy pdf that purports to be an expos‚ of all my nefarious deeds. There's just one problem: as Mary McCarthy famously said about Lillian Hellman, "Every word she writes is a lie, including and and the." This windy hit piece even gets my name wrong, and if there is even one true statement in it, I haven't found it yet.

By posting this ludicrous piece, CAIR has signed on to the contention that Hugh Fitzgerald and I are one and the same -- which will come as quite a surprise to all the people who met us both at the David Horowitz Freedom Center's Restoration Weekend last year. CAIR has likewise signed on to the pdf's most glaring leap of logic: it contends both that I secretly support Osama bin Laden and the global jihad, and at the same time that I think all Muslims are terrorists who want to kill Americans. Can't have your cake and eat it too, Ibrahim.

CAIR may be interested in knowing more about their new friend the "Rev." Jim Sutter, the author of this pdf. He is a somewhat pathetic character who, according to this website, was ordained by mail-order, is a convicted felon, claims to have degrees he doesn't have and honors (including the Navy Cross) that he has not received, and who traffics in libel with relish. A strange bedfellow for CAIR? Maybe. Maybe not.

Cultural revolution

By Paul Gottfried

An English classicist, broadcaster, and man of letters, Sean Gabb, has just sent me a copy of a booklet he had written "Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England and How To Get It Back" (Hampden Press, 2007). Sean's tract has aroused my interest because of its unconventional revelations about English society and government. He tells us about the seamy side of English attempts to enforce multiculturalism which the American media hardly ever cover. I am also struck by the declaration in a long footnote on page 72 about the overlap between Sean's critical perceptions and mine. He states (and I fully believe his assertion) that since he had only read my relevant books on multiculturalism after having worked on his study, "I cannot say that they influenced me in my own analysis."

What Sean is noting is the self-evident character of much of what a detached observer from a pre-multicultural era would gather about contemporary life in the US and Western Europe. It is not only that morals and social concerns have changed with the inroads of cultural Marxists, to use the accepted term for this group, but an even more alarming phenomenon is the role played by "democratic" governments in promoting the destruction of bourgeois Christian civilization. This is in fact the main focus of Sean's plea to those who are still identifiable as his countrymen to take back England before it is too late.

Anglican clergy being hectored by state agents for expressing insensitive views about gays, museums being cleansed of the symbols of England's "imperialist" past, hate speech laws being invoked against Christians while Islamicists are protected in their right to rail against the Christian West, Sean documents all of these grotesque aspects of "liberal democracy" in practice. Organizers of the English Libertarian Alliance, Sean and his Slovakian wife, who are clearly people of the Right, present themselves as libertarians because they properly understand that "democratic administration" is the problem. The administrative state, acting by virtue of the votes collected to justify its power by increasingly indistinguishable party blocs, are attacking traditional English liberties, English national consciousness, and English social morals. Contrary to the established position of left-libertarians and the Wall Street Journal- global democratic crowd, Sean calls for tight controls on the immigration of Third World refugees. Since the present policy contributes to the further cultural and demographic destruction of what had once been an English nation, Sean warns: "we must stop accepting refugees from other parts of the world, and deport those refugees whose home countries are no longer exceptionally dangerous."

One might note that a country well ahead of England on the road to national extinction, Germany, accepted annually between 1984 and 1993 something on the order of one-half to three-quarters of all Third World refugees seeking asylum in a European country. In the same period England accepted on average about 17%. Such facts illustrate not so much that the English government had or has a sane immigration policy but that the German government is even more eager to wipe out its country's national identity.

What comes to mind, as I read Sean's jeremiad is how silly American movement conservatives are when they glorify the "Anglosphere" and celebrate "our two countries" as paradigmatic "capitalist democracies." Today's England is a moral-social basket case, full of violent crime, outrageous state-enforcement of political correctness, and protected Muslim extremists. Whether or not its prime minister supports our ill-conceived crusade for democracy in Iraq, the land of Anglo-Saxon freedom, as Sean convincingly demonstrates, has ceased to be that. As an American, I can fully share his agony in trying to chart a useful course for dealing with the major party blocs in England. Faced by a choice on what we are made to believe is the English right between a Conservative Party led by a torpid equivalent of Giuliani, David Cameron, and a rightwing populist party, the British National Party, which the government has begun to harass, Sean clearly sympathizes with the latter. The leader of this party in the face of government intimidation has openly denounced the Islamic threat to England and calls for a halt to further Third World immigration to England.

Sean also suggests that voting for Labour may be more useful than supporting a degraded, former Center-Right party. By accelerating the excesses of a multicultural public administration under a party that is explicitly for such government, it may be possible to generate a backlash. This, he intimates, may be better than allowing the slide toward anarcho-tyranny to go on in a more gradual manner. On one point, I must respectfully disagree with Sean. On the basis of his description of British party politics, I do not think he is being fair when he opines: "We have yet to sink entirely to the level of America, where elections seem to be decided wholly by money and competing armies of drum majorettes." Both of the party systems being compared are so despicable that I would not want to have to judge between them.


A very interesting 1999 screed from one of Britain's most influential political journalists -- David Marr of the BBC

He recognizes that tribalism and prejudice is normal and natural but believes that the power of the State should be used to crush it -- very Soviet. He basically makes himself the enemy of every normal person

Thanks to the luck of history and a certain accrued political wisdom from immigration, Britain is less racist than most countries. Yet the thugs, listening to the complaints of Mum and Gran about how things used to be better, are deploying an ignorant but natural threatened-tribe instinct the same thought-patterns as the young men in the Serbian defence force or the Hutu militias.

It's nasty and it's natural which is why I am, on the whole, against too much nature. 'Natural harmony', accurately investigated, means a bloody and unstable cycle of massacre and extermination. Though human experience happens inside nature, human progress also depends on surmounting it. The tools by which we do so include politics and taxation, as well as science and art. But it needs a whole nation to move, not simply pious exasperation directed at the lower orders. I think the silent, sullen 'complete ignoral' which greets establishment outrage about the Lawrence case is caused by too much 'natural instinct' on the part of impoverished, retreating communities, and too little political and economic sacrifice by the middle classes and the establishment itself.

Some people may feel it is downright offensive to focus at all on whites in the aftermath of the Lawrence inquiry. I can't see how things will ever improve unless we face the fact that, although life is worst in Britain for young blacks, it is pretty hellish for certain cut-off and economically abandoned white tribes too. Their self-pity may be smaller in scale than the grievance of black people, but it is, as it were, similarly shaped.

What then can be done? (Apart, of course, from widespread and vigorous miscegenation, which is the best answer, but perhaps tricky to arrange as public policy.) First, we need to raise still more taxes to help regenerate inner-city ghettos and to employ more young people, white and black. Tony Blair spoke very well on Wednesday, and Jack Straw has driven this process through with grim vigour. But this is a Gordon Brown issue too.

The next answer was given by Doreen Lawrence, welcoming the report's emphasis on education: 'I truly believe in education our history, our background, is what separates us.' But, though teachers are the most effective anti-racist campaigners in the country, this means more than education in other religions it means a form of political education. Only people who understand the economic forces changing their world, threatening them but also creating new opportunities, have a chance of being immune to the old tribal chants.

And the final answer, frankly, is the vigorous use of state power to coerce and repress. It may be my Presbyterian background, but I firmly believe that repression can be a great, civilising instrument for good. Stamp hard on certain 'natural' beliefs for long enough and you can almost kill them off. The police are first in line to be burdened further, but a new Race Relations Act will impose the will of the state on millions of other lives too.

So it should - but not merely on the police, or the boys with spray-paint cans. Perhaps the big difference between working-class racism and middle-class racism is not that the former is more violent, but that the latter is more effective. The middle classes have sacrificed almost nothing to multi-racial pieties - often no more than smiling at the shopkeeper, inviting a black colleague for a drink or being pleased when your child knows as much about Diwali as Easter. That's the beam in our eyes -hypocritical abuse of the poor by people unwilling to pay higher taxes or review their own organisations and lives. We need a rethink in all big British institutions - venerable, liberal, conservative, commercial, public and educational - as they seriously ask themselves how eagerly porous they are to black people. Yes: employment quotas, publicly published numbers of ethnic-minority employees in annual reports. All that. They do it in America and South Africa. Until we start doing it here, why should anyone on the streets listen to a word, a single word, that the comfortable people have to say?

More here


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


11 August, 2007

UK police arrest homeowner for burglar's fall

A homeowner was arrested after a burglar plunged from the balcony of his top-floor flat. The intruder suffered head injuries and is fighting for his life after falling around 30ft on to a concrete path. Later police arrested the owner and are investigating whether the intruder was pushed.

The incident happened early on Monday when Patrick Walsh, 56, awoke to find the 43-year-old man rifling through his flat. They argued and the confrontation moved towards the rear window of the flat. It is believed the intruder then smashed the window and clambered out on to a narrow ledge and fell to the ground.

Mr Walsh phoned police and at around 6.30am officers found the man on the ground outside the smart Victorian apartment block in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, He was taken to hospital with serious head injuries.

Officers arrested Mr Walsh on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and are trying to establish whether the intruder was forced out of the window. The arrest is expected to fuel arguments about the rights of householders to defend themselves against burglars....

Another resident said: "I presume we will have to respect the burglar's rights while his victim has the nightmare of court hanging over his head. It all seems so unfair."


Mike Adams on CAIR

I've written about a number of threats to the First Amendment in recent years. But few have riled me up as much as a recent letter written by attorney Joseph E. Sandler (sandler@sandlerreiff.com). Sandler was hired by CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) after the organization learned that Robert Spencer was about to give a speech called "The Truth About CAIR" at the National Conservative Student Conference held by the Young America's Foundation (YAF).

Here's what Sandler wrote to my friend Ron Robinson, President of YAF: "You should be aware that Mr. Spencer, a well-known purveyor of hatred and bigotry against Muslims, has a history of false and defamatory statements. Several of those statements have falsely accused CAIR of activity that would constitute a federal offense."

After failing to provide a single "false and defamatory" statement by Spencer, Sandler went on to exercise his constitutional right to praise CAIR for its work in fighting terrorism. (Note: This is not to suggest that such praise is in any way deserved, just that it is protected by the First Amendment).

After, a) citing specific evidence in support of the notion that CAIR is an anti-terrorist organization, and b) citing no evidence of false and defamatory statements by Spencer (nor any of the evidence supporting Spencer's contrary opinion), Joseph E. Sandler (sandler@sandlerreiff.com) made a rather outrageous request that is worth reproducing in its entirety:

"For these reasons, we demand that YAF cancel the subject session (at which Spencer is speaking), or else take steps to ensure that false and defamatory statements are not disseminated at that session. Our clients have instructed us to pursue every available and appropriate legal remedy to redress any false and defamatory statements that are made at the session. Please let us know by the close of business today whether you intend to comply with these requests. Joseph E. Sandler, sandler@sandlerreiff.com, (202) 479-1111"

This notion of preventing "offense" by forcing people to relinquish their First Amendment Rights is itself offensive. Certainly, when one of my Muslim friends offends me - by forcing his wife to leave the room without speaking as soon as I come over - I just let it go. But maybe I shouldn't. Maybe I should start my own organization called CAIRS, The Council Against Islamic Repression and Sexism. But, for the time being, please join me in the fight against Muslim censors (and the lawyers who love them) by taking the time to do at least one of four things today:

1. Write Joseph E. Sandler (sandler@sandlerreiff.com) and tell him to stop helping Muslim extremists wage a Jihad against the First Amendment in the United States of America.

2. Call Joseph E. Sandler (202-479-1111) and tell him to stop helping Muslim extremists wage a Jihad against the First Amendment in the United States of America.

3. Fax a Xerox copy of the First Amendment to Sandler, Reiff & Young at (202) 479-1115.

4. Fax a Xerox copy of your extended middle finger to Sandler, Reiff & Young at (202) 479-1115.

For those of you who follow option #1 or #2, there are a few questions you should ask Mr. Sandler: What exactly are the false and defamatory statements made by Spencer that would justify the prior restraint of free speech? Why not sue over those statements instead of threatening to sue over statements not yet made? And, finally, is it not also defamatory to falsely accuse someone of defamation? I plan to follow option #4. And I also plan to write about this incident in my weekly internet column. That is, unless Mr. Sandler tries to stop me beforehand.



The revolution in Cuba "was not democratic" and neither is it communist now, "but rather a vulgar State capitalism also called 'Fidelismo,'" affirmed the grandson of Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Canek Sanchez Guevara.

In a letter and a "self-interview" that is being published today in the Mexican weekly "Proceso," Canek harshly criticized the "messianism" of Fidel Castro and the change of direction he made for the revolution, transforming himself from "the young revolutionary to the elderly tyrant" who "falsified" an ideal. "The revolution gave birth to a bourgeoisie, a repressive apparatus intended to protect itself from the people and a bureaucracy that distanced itself from the people. But above all it was anti-democratic due to the religious messianism of its leader," he indicated.

In his writings, Canek strips bare, one by one, the reasons why the Cuban revolution distanced itself from its original purpose, such as "the criminalization of being different" by means of the "persecution of homosexuals, hippies, freethinkers, anarchist and poets" and the installation of a "socialist bourgeoisie... pretending to be proletarian." "The revolution died years ago in Cuba: it had to be murdered by those who invoked it to keep it from turning against them, it had to be institutionalized and smothered by its own bureaucracy, by corruption, by nepotism and by the verticality of that famous organization: the 'revolutionary' Cuban state," he said.

In addition, he didn't hesitate to brand the Castro regime as a dictatorship and accused Castro of betraying the initial ideals of the revolution. "In effect, Fidel liberated Cuba from Batista's gangster dictatorship, but with his obstinate permanence in power he only achieved a reversal, turning himself into a dictator," he asserted. "All of my criticism of Fidel Castro begins with his distancing himself from libertarian ideals, from the treason committed against the people of Cuba and the fearful surveillance established to keep the State predominant over its 'people,'" he added.

The eldest grandchild of Che Guevara stated that the repression that exists in the island, with its "perpetual surveillance over individuals" and "the prohibition of associations that might exist at the margin of the State" is nothing but "a vulgar State capitalism" that, according to him, will die with Fidel. "Let's be honest, a young rebel like Fidel Castro used to be would be immediately executed in today's Cuba, not condemned to exile," he stated.

[Canek] Sanchez Guevara ended by saying that Marxism in Cuba is "only a scholarly classification" and that it is from a Marxist perspective that "one can see the noisy collapse of a falsified ideal."


America is the refuge again

Lately my thoughts have been turning to my great-grandparents, whose images adorn my wall here in London. I have only one photograph of them and that is it. All I know is that the family name was Karash and that this bearded, sad man was a great rabbi in Bialystok. Like so many of Jewish ancestry I do not have a family tree, as opposed to my British friends, some of whom can trace every ancestor back to 1066 and the Battle of Hastings.

It is odd that I ended up in Europe after the struggle my ancestors endured to find their way to the United States. Now that I am embroiled on a daily basis in the anguished `anti-Boycott Israel' movement in Britain and feeling less and less welcome in a land I thought would be my permanent home, I am feeling a strong kinship with those Jews who left Europe a hundred years ago to escape pogroms and conscription into the Czar's army.

But how, you may ask, could England possibly be mentioned in the same breath as the pogroms or the Pale of Settlement? Here is my answer: In my first feature for World Jewish Digest I reported on the string of boycotts being instituted by various British trade unions. The anger and hatred I have felt in the past year from many people here has made me understand the despair of my great-grandparents and their children, who begged, borrowed and bartered to get passage to the United States.

Right now I am trying to work out an economical way to ship my worldly goods to the USA, and though I am not on the receiving end of beatings and rape as had proliferated in Czarist Russia, that feeling of `I have to get out of here' has hit me for the first time in the thirty-one years I have resided in Britain. I understand how my ancestors felt and I am counting the days until I can see the Statue of Liberty, as they did one-hundred years ago.

What has caused me profound shock is the news that the combined Protestant and Catholic Irish Congress of Trade Unions, representing 800,000 members in both Ulster and the Irish Republic, has united in its condemnation of Israel and instituted a Resolution in the week of July 16th calling for an all-out boycott of all things Israeli.

Considering that it is only a few months since Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley, the leaders of the IRA and Ulster Unionists respectively, had finally shaken hands after a near-century of Protestant-Catholic bloodletting, it is a disturbing turn of events to see the Irish workers' union uniting against Israel. As reported in `The Jewish Chronicle' of 20 July, the Resolution was proposed by the Belfast and District Trades Council and Derry Trades Council. Ulster's largest union, the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance, had already made a decision to boycott Israeli goods in the manner of the boycott in the era of South African apartheid.

The combined Irish resolution urges a complete divestment from Israeli companies and pension and investment funds as well as pressing members to encourage colleagues in all walks of life to follow suit. What is going on here?

I have a theory. European countries are not engaging in boycotts. In fact, the Seventh Research Framework Programme of 2007 links Israel and the EU in well-funded academic cross-fertilisation. The reason why I think Britain and Ireland are at the forefront of these punitive measures against the Jewish State is because -- despite the Blitz -- mainland Britain was never occupied by Germany and its citizens were not forced to live under the jackboot of the Third Reich. Ireland was not occupied, and neither country watched its Jews being marched off to death camps.

Europe was occupied by the Nazis and still fresh in the minds of many of its citizens is the genocide committed against its Jewish population. Likewise Europeans are less likely to engage in the condemnatory rhetoric being used in Britain to characterise Israeli policies. It is interesting, too, that Britain has such a small Jewish community -- less than 300,000 -- and yet the aggressive language being used by the media, politicians and trade unionists borders on anti-Semitism. France has a much larger Jewish population but boycotts are not proliferating.

In addition, Israel was the last bastion of British Empire. There is deep bitterness amongst many Britons, even so many decades on, about the lynching of British soldiers and the bombing of the King David Hotel by the Irgun and other Jewish resistance groups in post-war Palestine. For thirty-one years I have heard over and over again at dinner parties the stories of British soldiers and sailors being terrorised by the Stern Gang, and the mantra, `You people invented terrorism!'

Notwithstanding this, the anger directed towards me in social situations these days goes beyond British bitterness over an episode in Jerusalem sixty years ago. I find it disturbing and unsettling that I am spending more and more time alone, blessedly away from my fulminating non-Jewish circle; on the rare occasions when I socialise it is with two Jewish friends, both expatriates and both also now planning to return to their native countries after many, many years in Britain.

As I, like my ancestors, try to scrape together the resources to ship myself and my belongings to the USA, my thoughts return to my Bialystok family who found a home in Philadelphia away from the hatred they had left behind in a festering Europe. Like them I long for the day very soon when I, with one-way ticket in hand, can pass Lady Liberty and watch her lift her lamp beside the golden door.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


10 August, 2007

Military men must not be visibly Christian

The Army and Air Force are considering disciplinary action against seven officers - including four generals - who violated ethics rules by assisting a Christian group in the production of a fundraising video. The Pentagon inspector general found the officers were interviewed in uniform and "in official and often identifiable Pentagon locations," according to a 45-page report. They made comments that "conferred approval of and support" to the evangelical group, Christian Embassy, "and the remarks of some officers implied they spoke for a group of senior military leaders rather than just for themselves," the report stated. None of the Army and Air Force officers involved asked for or received approval from their superiors to participate in the interview in an official capacity or in uniform, according to the inspector general's report, which was released last week. The report recommended that senior military leaders consider "appropriate corrective action" against the officers.

Lt. Col. Linda Haseloff, an Air Force spokeswoman, said Monday the service is still studying the report "and no additional information can be provided at this time." Army spokesman Paul Boyce said the report is being reviewed by legal staff and no decisions would be made until they are done. According to the group's Web site, Christian Embassy is a nonprofit, nonpolitical organization that "seeks to help diplomats, government leaders and military officers find real and lasting purpose through faith and encouragement." Christian Embassy holds prayer meetings each Wednesday morning at the Pentagon.

The inspector general's report reveals a "long and deep collusion with a fundamentalist, religious missionary organization," Michael Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said in a statement. Weinstein wants Congress to hold oversight hearings over the Defense Department's failure to separate "church and state."

Among the officers cited in the report are Army Brig. Gens. Vincent Brooks, deputy commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, and Robert Caslen, commandant of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy. Air Force Maj. Gens. Peter Sutton and John Catton also appeared in the video. Sutton, who has retired, and Caslen "accepted full responsibility for their actions and committed to be more alert to ethical issues in the future," according to the report.

Brooks told investigators he believed he did not violate any rules. Due to Christian Embassy's long tenure of working with Pentagon employees, Brooks said he saw the group "as a sanctioned or endorsed activity." Catton's response was similar. Christian Embassy had become a "quasi-federal entity," he told investigators, and he believed he was taking part in a program approved by the Defense Department. Catton is director of requirements at Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va.

Retired Army Col. Ralph Benson, former Pentagon chaplain, was criticized for allowing Christian Embassy to film inside the Pentagon. Benson, the report said, misrepresented "the purpose and proponent of the video." The names of the other two officers were redacted from the report. Cleared of any impropriety was Army Secretary Pete Geren and an unnamed civilian Army employee. Investigators said while Geren and the employee "provided personal endorsements of Christian Embassy, they did so without verbal or visual references to position, title or DOD."


ACLU and public funding for Muslim foot baths

The ACLU twists itself into a pretzel shape, trying to justify opposing all state funding for religious purposes, except when it comes to Muslims, who want foot baths in schools and other public facilities for religious reasons. From the New York Times

The American Civil Liberties Union says the footbath issue is complex. "Our policy is to object whenever public funds are spent on any brick and mortar component of religion," said Kary Moss, director of the Michigan Civil Liberties Union. "What makes this different, though, is that the footbaths themselves can be used by anyone, don't have any symbolic value and are not stylized in a religious way. They're in a regular restroom, and could be just as useful to a janitor filling up buckets, or someone coming off the basketball court, as to Muslim students."
Then, too, Ms. Moss said, the health and safety component is not normally part of religious accommodation cases. How about oil wealthy Muslim nations footing the bill? (pun intended) or the increasingly prosperous American Muslim community? Muslims have one of the highest incomes per capita of any group in America).

So next week can expect to see the ACLU supporting the installation of holy water basins in public schools for the Catholics? After all, while the Catholics may only sprinkle themselves with water, others might use it to ward off vampires and goths, still others might just drink it or use it to wash their faces. It is only holy water to the Catholics so it couldn't be construed to be of religious significance to anyone else, and no-one is 'forced' to recognize its religious significance. Right?

I think we should also expect the ACLU then to support the installation of kneeling benches with cushions. Sure, Christians might use these for prayer at certain times, but that's not the intent. The intent is that they are there to provide respite for students that might wish to kneel when chatting or to rest.

Or how about crucifix shaped chin-up bars for the gym ? Better yet, we should have Star-of-David shaped roundabouts (I dont know what you call them here) and Star-of-David-shaped 'jungle gyms' (don't know what you call those either).


British Muslims don't like being quoted

A "distorted" Channel 4 documentary about Muslim extremism that enraged community leaders and resulted in a fruitless police investigation will now be the subject of an Ofcom inquiry. West Midlands Police made a formal complaint over a Channel 4 Dispatches film that participants and race crime prosecutors claim was edited in a misleading manner.

Undercover Mosque, broadcast in January, featured footage shot at a number of mosques, including one at which a preacher praised the Taleban for killing British soldiers. Channel 4 said that the programme revealed how a message of hatred and segregation was being spread by some Islamic preachers.

After investigating 56 hours of footage, West Midlands Police said that it had been advised by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the broadcaster for stirring up racial hatred, but that selective editing had helped to create an impression of Muslim hatred. Bethan David, the CPS reviewing lawyer, said: "The CPS has demonstrated that it will not hesitate to prosecute those responsible for criminal incitement, but in this case we have been dealing with a heavily edited television programme, apparently taking out of context aspects of speeches, which in their totality could never provide a realistic prospect of any convictions."

Abu Usamah, a preacher at the Green Lane mosque in Birmingham, said he was shocked when he saw himself depicted. Mr Usamah was shown saying: "If I were to call homosexuals perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered, that is my freedom of speech, isn't it?" He later said that he was explaining an opinion featured in some books, and not one that he believed. Mr Usamah said that the mosque had a tradition of teaching a moderate version of Islam. "To try and demonise the efforts of these people by taking their comments out of context was shocking," he said. A senior imam filmed calling for the creation of a British Islamic state under Sharia also claimed that his comments were take out of context.

Roger Godsiff, a Birmingham Labour MP, called on the Director of Public Prosecutions to take action against "words that were racist and an incitement to murder". When that investigation was abandoned, the police went on to examine the editing of the programme, resulting in a complaint to broadcasting watchdogs.

Channel 4 said it believed that Ofcom would exonerate the broadcaster. Kevin Sutcliffe, commissioning editor for Dispatches, said: "We believe the comments made in the film speak for themselves. Several speakers were clearly shown making abhorrent and extreme comments. This was a thorough and detailed one-hour documentary, made over nine months, which allowed these comments to be seen in a fuller context."

Channel 4 was "fully aware of the sensitivities surrounding the subject matter, particularly its effect on community relations". Mr Sutcliffe added, however, that there was a "greater public interest in exposing what was being preached in the name of Islam in some main-stream British mosques".

The Metropolitan Police said yesterday that it would investigate Britain under Attack, a Dispatches documentary broadcast on Monday that gave a platform to an Islamic activist who called on Muslims to arm themselves against nonbelievers.


Australia: Melbourne Jewish cricketers abused

Melbourne has a fairly visible Jewish community so cowardly envy has an easy target. A Jewish community press release on the matter is here

A WEBSITE urging cricket players to post racially abusive messages to Jewish cricket team Ajax has appalled Jewish groups. The website, created through Facebook, encouraged guests to post comments on Ajax players "without fear of censorship. Swearing and abuse is encouraged". The F.U. Ajax Cricket Club site, which has now been removed, showed images of players from the McKinnon and Beaumaris cricket clubs alongside postings of racist comments.

One man who said he was the "Deputy Vice-President in charge of Holocaust References" called on the group to "Install A F---ing RHEEM". Another man wrote: "Being of German heritage, I think I need to apologise for ACC to still be in existence, my grandparents tried to get them all . . ." A third man said: "I've never played against Ajax but I did see their 3rd XI play McKinnon last year. They should have won easily but they nearly choked . . . probably on the gas." Another contributor hoped members of the Jewish community saw the website, if not he would "accidentally" forward a link.

The website comments have rocked the Victorian Turf Cricket Association, which the clubs play in. And Cricket Victoria is investigating, with a range of sanctions set to be discussed. McKinnon Cricket Club officials met last night to decide the best course of action.

Jewish Community Council of Victoria president Anton Block was disgusted by the comments. "This kind of sledging by mindless racists is unacceptable," he said. "No member of any sporting club should be subject to abuse such as this, no matter what their race or religion. It is simply unAustralian." Ajax president Jamie Hyams said he was stunned. "It's the sort of thing you would expect to find in the most vile Nazi websites rather than a bunch of guys we play cricket against," Mr Hyams said. "The Holocaust references especially were very disappointing and if they think the Holocaust is a joke they should have a look at the Holocaust museum and we'll see how funny they think that is."

McKinnon president Stuart Hamstead said he knew nothing about the racist comments until being contacted by the league this week. "I don't condone it whatsoever," he said. The comments come after the Herald Sun revealed in June that children as young as 11 were racially abusing Jewish players at junior footy games.

Source. One of the abusive commenters has now apologized profusely. See here

High-risk Leftist judges -- comment from Australia

Kirby (below) is an open homosexual who was appointed in the dying days of a Leftist government. He dissents from around half of the judgments of the court. Fortunately, he reires in 2009 when he turns 70

SINGLE-HANDEDLY, Justice Michael Kirby disproves Alexander Hamilton’s aphorism that the judiciary is the “least dangerous” branch of government. Fortunately, there is only one Kirby on the High Court. Accordingly, his refusal last week to uphold the Howard Government’s control orders is just another meaningless whistle in the wind from our most senior court’s great dissenter. But Kirby’s 94-page judicial yawn at the need for anti-terrorism laws provides a timely lesson on why filling the next High Court vacancy with a sensible judge is such a critical issue.

As with most things, it’s all a question of numbers. A few more Kirby-style judges on the High Court and we risk turning our Constitution into what US justice Robert Jackson once described as a suicide pact. In this case, it would be a pact brimming with civil liberties but offering little security from those who rely on those liberties to plot mass murder and dream of an Islamist regime that would extinguish all liberties and deal with gay judges rather differently. No grand invitations to speak out on gay rights. Just the occasional public execution to keep the masses entertained.

And so, those looking for the perfect case study about judges ensconced in ivory towers need only read and contrast the judgments of Kirby and his fellow judge, Ian Callinan, in the case brought by terror suspect Jack Thomas. Thomas, who allegedly trained with al-Qa’ida in Afghanistan, was placed under a control order after the verdict in his first trial was overturned and pending a retrial. Last week the High Court upheld the constitutional validity of control orders.

On the side of reason sits Callinan, delivering one of his final judgments before he retires next month. That judgment is a template for the next generation of judges who will undoubtedly be called on to decide the validity of anti-terrorism laws. Callinan said control orders were valid under the defence power of the Constitution because, let’s face it, we’re at war with a group of homicidal and ideological jihadists. He trawls through the evidence just in case anyone missed September 11. He cites intelligence reports that confirm Australia was treated as a target by al-Qa’ida prior to 9/11 and “continues to be viewed as a legitimate target”.

He recalls that in February 1998, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri declared war on the West and implored all good Muslims to “kill the American and their allies - civilians and military”. He lists the terrorist attacks in Bali, Madrid, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Aden, Mumbai and London and the plots to blow up Western targets, including the Australian High Commission in Singapore and the Australian Embassy in Bangkok.

Callinan also remarks on the vulnerability of people to modern terrorism where “modern weapons, and not just such horrific ones as nuclear bombs, germs and chemicals, are more efficient and destructive than ever before”. He adds that it is “blindingly obvious” that Islamists exploit international travel and use modern communications to recruit and train terrorists. Callinan spends page after page listing what those in the legal world call “notorious facts”, meaning facts judges can rely on to determine that control orders are constitutional.

And contrary to the claims of Kirby and his civil libertarian cheer squad, Callinan has not trashed the decision in the Communist Party case. The cases are different. Notorious facts about the dangers of communism were not established in that 1951 case.

In 2007, the facts about the dangers of terrorism are undisputed. Which is why most of us would agree that the majority of the High Court was right to decide that a control order to monitor a man suspected of weapons training with al-Qa’ida was not an unreasonable response by a national government charged with protecting its people.

Not Kirby. This High Court judge, who recently said he wants to be remembered as a “loving man”, seems to be sending all his love in an unrequited direction: towards those suspected of supporting the slaughter of Western infidels. It’s hard to know where to start with Kirby’s long judgment. But hypocrisy is as good a place as any. For Kirby, an interim control order involves a “serious and wholly exceptional departure from basic constitutional doctrine unchallenged during the entire history of the commonwealth”.

To hear Kirby talk about settled constitutional doctrine is rather amusing given that he is the first to trounce settled doctrine and dabble in a bit of judicial activism when it suits. And in any case, the majority opinions are not exceptional. They are grounded in legal precedents that say the Government’s defence power waxes and wanes. When Australia is threatened, the power broadens. In peace, the power shrinks.

Which brings us to Kirby’s Wizard of Oz view of the world. Like Dorothy, Kirby seems to think he need only click his shiny loafers and return safely home to Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. He could have spared his overworked associate and shortened his judgment to, “It’s all a bad dream. It’s not real. We don’t need these nasty laws.” Cementing his place as poster boy for the civil libertarians, Kirby says terrorism is too hard to define. For him, the danger of Islamist terrorism “is not a matter upon which I would be prepared to speculate ... (given) the sometimes coloured, emotional and disputable public media coverage of such issues.” This is Kirby at his most hilarious. The man who on other occasions thinks he inhales community values (at least the ones he favours) as easily as he breathes in the crisp Canberra air on his morning walk to chambers refuses to open his eyes to the growing threat of terrorism.

And given his disdain for the media on “such issues”, he may have ignored the British Prime Minister a few weeks ago saying in The Guardian there had been 15 attempted attacks in Britain since the 2001 attacks in Washington and New York. Gordon Brown warned we would be fighting al-Qa’ida-inspired terrorism for a generation.

For the same duration we will also be fighting the lawyer class that refuses to take terrorism seriously. A lawyer class that invents nebulous and self-serving views about civil liberties, dressing them up as eternal human rights so lawyers can elevate them above laws made by elected parliaments. A lawyer class that knows it will attract juicy headlines in the media by describing the real terrorists as those in the ranks of a government entrusted to protect us. A lawyer class adored by terrorists for making their job of jihad that much easier.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


9 August, 2007

Firefighters forced to join in 'Gay Pride' parade

File lawsuit against city after enduring 3 hours of lewd remarks, gestures

Four firefighters are suing the city of San Diego for being forced by their superiors to attend the annual "Gay Pride" parade where they endured a barrage of sexual taunts and lewd gestures. San Diego's fire chief, Tracy Jarman, is an open lesbian who called the July 21 parade a "fun event" in which "all employees are encouraged to participate." But the firefighters said, unlike previous years, they were ordered into uniform to participate in the parade in their fire truck, despite their repeated protests.

The firefighters' legal counsel, the Thomas More Law Center, said the men were "left with the Hobson's choice of either violating their conscience or being disciplined for disobeying a direct order." The firefighters, described as devoted husbands and fathers, said they were subject to the most vulgar kinds of sexual harassment. "You could not even look at the crowd without getting some type of sexual gesture," one said, adding, "If any crew member were to hang up pictures at the station of what we saw, we would be disciplined."

Over the course of three hours, they heard statements such as, "show me your hose," "you can put out my fire," "you're making me hot," "give me mouth-to-mouth," "you look hungry, why don't you have a twinkie (from a man wearing a "Girth and Mirth" t-shirt)," and "blow my hose." When they refused to respond to the crowd, some in the crowd turned hostile and started shouting, "F--- you firemen" and others began "flipping them off."

San Diego area attorney, Charles LiMandri, the West Coast director of the Thomas More Law Center, insists the city should have known from past experience "the kind of offensive activities that go on at this event." "This was a clear case of sexual harassment in violation of state and federal law as well as the City's own code of conduct," he said. LiMandri said the firefighters also were targets of sexual gestures, including exposure of genitals, blowing kisses, grabbing of the crotch, rubbing of nipples, tongue gestures and men hugging and kissing one another passionately - many wearing make-up and dressed like women.

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center argued the constitutional right to free speech also protects the right not to speak. "These men should not have to explain to their families, friends and church congregations that their presence at a celebration of lewdness and obscenity in support of the homosexual agenda was because they were forced there by way of a direct order," he said. "This is a clear violation of their constitutional rights, and the city must be held accountable. It should never happen again to any city employee."

Jarman, the city fire chief, insisted when she was appointed that her homosexuality had never been an issue at the department. But Thompson maintained the firefighters' ordeal was "another example of how radical homosexual activists in positions of authority force their agenda on unwilling citizens." "Although the local media avoided mentioning the debauchery and the obscenity that pervaded the parade, the general public should know what went on and how these firefighters were forced to participate against their will," he said. As WND reported, prior to the parade, the San Diego City Council unanimously adopted a resolution introduced by Mayor Jerry Sanders to designate July as "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month."


Muslims do not handle criticism well

After a police raid Friday at Your Black Muslim Bakery in Oakland, bakery employee Devaughndre Broussard admitted to murdering Chauncey Bailey, editor of the Oakland Post. Bailey was writing a series of investigative articles about the Bakery -- and that's why Broussard killed him.

Your Black Muslim Bakery is an outpost of the Nation of Islam, not of any orthodox Islamic sect, but in this murder Devaughndre Broussard followed a pattern that some orthodox Muslims have also followed. Violent reprisal has long been an occupational hazard of those who dare to question or investigate Islamic groups or criticize Islamic practices. Filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered in November 2004 by a Muslim who took exception to his criticism of the oppression of women in Islamic societies. In 1992, Egyptian writer Faraj Foda was murdered by Muslims enraged at his "apostasy."

Bailey is not the first person in the U.S. to have been murdered by a Muslim who didn't like what he said. That distinction may belong to Rashad Khalifa, an unorthodox interpreter of the Qur'an who was murdered in Tucson in January 1990 -- probably by a member of the jihadist group Jamaat al-Fuqra. But Bailey's case is still singular. Much more common has been the practice of trying to intimidate critics into silence through legal threats.

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has had great success with this over the years, although lately the tactic appears to be faltering. CAIR was unsuccessful in bullying the Young America's Foundation into canceling a talk by me last week. In 2006, CAIR dropped a lawsuit against Andrew Whitehead of Anti-CAIR after Mr. Whitehead's attorney asked a series of probing questions during the discovery process. But before that, CAIR successfully cowed National Review magazine, Fox's 24, and others into muting in various ways their criticism of Islamic violence and extremism.

Nor is CAIR alone among Muslims in its efforts at legal intimidation. Billionaire Saudi financier Khalid bin Mahfouz has sued journalist Rachel Ehrenfeld and others for libel in the U.K., where the libel laws favor plaintiffs. Ehrenfeld's offense? In her book Funding Evil, she wrote that bin Mahfouz was involved in funding Hamas and Al-Qaeda. Bin Mahfouz denied that he had knowingly given any money to either. Cambridge University Press has, in response to another libel suit filed by bin Mahfouz, just removed from circulation and destroyed all unsold copies of Alms for Jihad by Robert Collins and J. Millard Burr, because the book made essentially the same allegations. But France's foreign intelligence agency has recently revealed that as long ago as 1996 Mr. bin Mahfouz was known as one of the architects of a banking scheme constructed for the benefit of Osama bin Laden -- and that both U.S. and British intelligence services knew this.

The most notorious attempt at legal intimidation of all may be the Flying Imams case, in which six imams are suing US Airways because they were removed from a flight for suspicious behavior....

This points to a fundamental weakness of Islam. It does not have enough faith in its message to debate issues with opponents. Instead it must silent them through tantrums or more violent means. It is one reason that Islamic countries have done so poorly over the last 600 years. the absence of debate means that intelligent argument is avoided and only the view of the most violent is heard or prevails. The most violent are rarely the smartest. They tend to be emotionally immature, and lack the communication skills to persuade through reason. That is one reason they resort to terrorism to "persuade."


Chinese Christianity vibrant

Ten thousand Chinese become Christians each day, according to a stunning report by the National Catholic Reporter's veteran correspondent John Allen, and 200 million Chinese may comprise the world's largest concentration of Christians by mid-century, and the largest missionary force in history. [1] If you read a single news article about China this year, make sure it is this one. I suspect that even the most enthusiastic accounts err on the downside, and that Christianity will have become a Sino-centric religion two generations from now. China may be for the 21st century what Europe was during the 8th-11th centuries, and America has been during the past 200 years: the natural ground for mass evangelization. If this occurs, the world will change beyond our capacity to recognize it. Islam might defeat the western Europeans, simply by replacing their diminishing numbers with immigrants, but it will crumble beneath the challenge from the East.

China, devoured by hunger so many times in its history, now feels a spiritual hunger beneath the neon exterior of its suddenly great cities. Four hundred million Chinese on the prosperous coast have moved from poverty to affluence in a single generation, and 10 million to 15 million new migrants come from the countryside each year, the greatest movement of people in history. Despite a government stance that hovers somewhere between discouragement and persecution, more than 100 million of them have embraced a faith that regards this life as mere preparation for the next world. Given the immense effort the Chinese have devoted to achieving a tolerable life in the present world, this may seem anomalous. On the contrary: it is the great migration of peoples that prepares the ground for Christianity, just as it did during the barbarian invasions of Europe during the Middle Ages.

Last month's murder of reverend Bae Hyung-kyu, the leader of the missionaries still held hostage by Taliban kidnappers in Afghanistan, drew world attention to the work of South Korean Christians, who make up nearly 30% of that nation's population and send more evangelists to the world than any country except the United States. This is only a first tremor of the earthquake to come, as Chinese Christians turn their attention outward. Years ago I speculated that if Mecca ever is razed, it will be by an African army marching north; now the greatest danger to Islam is the prospect of a Chinese army marching west.

People do not live in a spiritual vacuum; where a spiritual vacuum exists, as in western Europe and the former Soviet Empire, people simply die, or fail to breed. In the traditional world, people see themselves as part of nature, unchangeable and constant, and worship their surroundings, their ancestors and themselves. When war or economics tear people away from their roots in traditional life, what once appeared constant now is shown to be ephemeral. Christianity is the great liquidator of traditional society, calling individuals out of their tribes and nations to join the ekklesia, which transcends race and nation. In China, communism leveled traditional society, and erased the great Confucian idea of society as an extension of the loyalties and responsibility of families. Children informing on their parents during the Cultural Revolution put paid to that.

Now the great migrations throw into the urban melting pot a half-dozen language groups who once lived isolated from one another. Not for more than a thousand years have so many people in the same place had such good reason to view as ephemeral all that they long considered to be fixed, and to ask themselves: "What is the purpose of my life?"

The World Christian Database offers by far the largest estimate of the number of Chinese Christians at 111 million, of whom 90% are Protestant, mostly Pentecostals. Other estimates are considerably lower, but no matter; what counts is the growth rate. This uniquely American denomination, which claims the inspiration to speak in tongues like Jesus' own disciples and to prophesy, is the world's fastest-growing religious movement, with 500,000 adherents. In contrast to Catholicism, which has a very long historic presence in China but whose growth has been slow, charismatic Protestantism has found its natural element in an atmosphere of official suppression. Barred from churches, Chinese began worshipping in homes, and five major "house church" movements and countless smaller ones now minister to as many as 100 million Christians. [2] This quasi-underground movement may now exceed in adherents the 75 million members of the Chinese Communist Party; in a generation it will be the most powerful force in the country.

While the Catholic Church has worked patiently for independence from the Chinese government, which sponsors a "Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association" with government-appointed bishops, the evangelicals have no infrastructure to suppress and no hierarchy to protect. In contrast to Catholic caution, John Allen observes, "Most Pentecostals would obviously welcome being arrested less frequently, but in general they are not waiting for legal or political reform before carrying out aggressive evangelization programs."

The most audacious even dream of carrying the gospel beyond the borders of China, along the old Silk Road into the Muslim world, in a campaign known as "Back to Jerusalem". As [Time correspondent David] Aikman explains in Jesus in Beijing, some Chinese evangelicals and Pentecostals believe that the basic movement of the gospel for the last 2,000 years has been westward: from Jerusalem to Antioch, from Antioch to Europe, from Europe to America, and from America to China. Now, they believe, it's their turn to complete the loop by carrying the gospel to Muslim lands, eventually arriving in Jerusalem. Once that happens, they believe, the gospel will have been preached to the entire world. Aikman reports that two Protestant seminaries secretly are training missionaries for deployment in Muslim countries.

Where traditional society remains entrenched in China's most backward regions, Islam also is expanding. At the edge of the Gobi Desert and on China's western border with Central Asia, Islam claims perhaps 30 million adherents. If Christianity is the liquidator of traditional society, I have argued in the past, Islam is its defender against the encroachments of leveling imperial expansion. But Islam in China remains the religion of the economic losers, whose geographic remoteness isolates them from the economic transformation on the coasts. Christianity, by contrast, has burgeoned among the new middle class in China's cities, where the greatest wealth and productivity are concentrated. Islam has a thousand-year presence in China and has grown by natural increase rather than conversion; evangelical Protestantism had almost no adherents in China a generation ago.

China's Protestants evangelized at the risk of liberty and sometimes life, and possess a sort of fervor not seen in Christian ranks for centuries. Their pastors have been beaten and jailed, and they have had to create their own institutions through the "house church" movement. Two years ago I warned that China would have to wait for democracy. [3] I wrote:

For a people to govern itself, it first must want to govern itself and want to do so with a passion. It also must know how to do so. Democracy requires an act of faith, or rather a whole set of acts of faith. The individual citizen must believe that a representative sitting far away in the capital will listen to his views, and know how to band together with other citizens to make their views known. That is why so-called civil society, the capillary network of associations that manage the ordinary affairs of life, is so essential to democracy. Americans elect their local school boards, create volunteer fire brigades and raise and spend tax dollars at the local level to provide parks or sewers.

China's network of house churches may turn out to be the leaven of democracy, like the radical Puritans of England who became the Congregationalists of New England. Freedom of worship is the first precondition for democracy, for it makes possible freedom of conscience. The fearless evangelists at the grassroots of China will, in the fullness of time, do more to bring US-style democracy to the world than all the nation-building bluster of President George W Bush and his advisers.


Australia: Compensation case shows that the Leftist "stolen generation" claim is a myth

Is Bruce Trevorrow, awarded $525,000 in the Supreme Court, the proof of the so-called stolen generation? It is the opposite that is true. Bruce Trevorrow, a part-Aboriginal now living in Bairnsdale, was stolen from his parents after being raced to hospital on Christmas Day 1957. Yes, stolen. Over the next few years the little boy was mentally destroyed. Said an Aboriginal woman who tried to foster him in his teens, it seemed he'd never known love. That loss near drove him mad and broke him, and it was for such suffering that Justice Tom Gray of the South Australian Supreme Court last week awarded him $525,000.

The media reports all hailed this as a breakthrough not just for Trevorrow himself: " 'Stolen Generation' Aborigine wins test case", was a typical headline. But is this - the first court case won by a member of the so-called "stolen generations" - really proof at last that what I've so often called a "myth" is true? The opposite, perversely.

Trevorrow won not by proving there was indeed a government policy to steal black children from good homes for racist reasons. He won it by actually proving there was not - or at least not in South Australia.

First, a reminder of what "stolen generations" means. Historian, Professor Peter Read, who invented the phrase, said it refers to the 100,000 or so children our governments allegedly stole in an "attempt to put an end to the Aboriginal people of Australia". Political scientist, Professor Robert Manne, the myth's greatest propagandist, says these were actually 25,000 children, stolen by governments that "wished, in part through the child removal policies, to keep white Australia pure". Insisted Manne: "It was not from harm that the mixed-descent children were rescued, but from their Aboriginality".

So, was there really a government policy to steal Bruce Trevorrow from his parents just because he was black? Just to keep white Australia "pure"? Here's what Justice Gray found really happened. It was Christmas 50 years ago when Joe Trevorrow left his hut of scrap iron and sacks on the Coorong to ask his neighbours - relatives of his partner, Thora - to drive his sick baby to Adelaide's children's hospital. They had a car; he didn't.

Neither Joe nor Thora - who'd stormed off to Tailem Bend after a family argument - went with their child, or visited him in the two weeks he was kept in hospital. Who knows what Thora's relatives told the doctors, but the hospital's notes say the baby, Bruce Trevorrow, was a "neglected child - without parents", suffering from "malnutrition" and "infective diarrhoea"'. The notes add: "The other two children are neglected. Mother has cleared out and father is boozing." This is the baby that just two weeks later was given to an Adelaide family, which were told its mother had "gone on a walkabout".

Unforgiveably, Joe and Thora were never asked for permission to give away their baby. And they were lied to when, six months later, Thora wrote to the Aborigines Protection Board, the official guardian of all Aboriginal children, asking to know when she'd get Bruce back, "as I have not forgot I got a baby in there". The reply, from the APB's Marjory Angas, claimed Bruce was "making good progress but as yet the doctor does not consider him fit to go home". What Bruce's parents did not know is that it seems to have been Angas herself who'd already given away their baby - and that she'd done this against the law.

As Gray ruled: "Mrs Angas may have been well-intentioned ... but was well aware, or ought to have been aware, that the removal of the plaintiff from his family, and his placement with the Davies family, was undertaken in circumstances that were understood to be without legal authority, beyond power and contrary to authoritative legal advice." That illegality, said Gray, was why Bruce Trevorrow deserved a payout.

The picture the judge paints over many pages is compelling: South Australia never had any laws -- or policies - authorising anyone to steal Aboriginal children for racist reasons. Gray noted, for instance, that in 1923, as South Australia passed a law to help neglected Aboriginal children, the then treasurer assured Parliament: "The dictates of humanity forbid the state to deprive mothers of their infant children in cases where their mothers desire to keep them." The treasurer added: "(T)he provision in the Bill (to remove older children) is designed only to be used in cases where an illegitimate child is ill-cared for by its parents."

But there was a hitch. In 1949, the Crown Solicitor confirmed that the law did not let APB officials take Aboriginal children from their parents. That was the job of the Children's Welfare and Public Relief Board, which looked after children of all races, but wasn't so keen to remove neglected Aborigines. It found them hard to help. In that standoff, Aboriginal children seem to me to have been less in danger of being stolen than left to rot. Justice Gray gives examples - like the baby brought to Port Augusta Hospital in 1955 in "an advanced state of malnutrition". Her mother was shown how to look after her child, yet it came back again "in a shocking state". Despite the pleas of doctors to take her into care, this baby was not "stolen", but sent back home to God knows what fate.

In 1958, the year after Bruce Trevorrow was taken, the APB's secretary described the tragedy he confronted. "I feel sure that a higher mortality rate is evident among Aboriginal children than those of other descent," he wrote to a colleague. "Unfortunately, there is a considerable amount of undernourishment, malnutrition and neglect. "In fact, quite frequently (Aborigines) do not seem to worry whether the child is fed or not." Yet "there is not a high proportion of aboriginal children who are wards of the state, simply because our legislation does not provide that neglected children can be removed".

Still, his officials couldn't always stand by and do nothing. Admitted the secretary: "Again in confidence, for some years without legal authority, the Board have taken charge of many Aboriginal children, some are placed with Aboriginal institutions, which by the way I very much dislike, and others are placed with foster parents. "As often as possible we arranged for this type of child to be adopted, necessarily of course, with the authority of the parents."

How many children had the APB removed? Some 300 over the years, taken because they were - Gray found - "thought to be neglected". Note: not because Australia had to be kept "pure". This practice seems to have stopped by the end of the 1950s. So why did Marjory Angas, in 1957, decide to steal Bruce Trevorrow? So, if there wasn't a policy to steal black children for racist reasons, does Angas show that APB officials still had racism in their hearts?

Angas is dead, and cannot defend herself. But Gray suggested she was just "relatively inexperienced" and "unwittingly prejudiced" against the baby's parents. Gray didn't explain that "prejudice", but assumed it from such scraps as a letter Angas wrote in mid-1957 in an inquiry into Joseph's daughters by his first wife. "We understand (Joseph) is illiterate and an habitual drunkard," Angas wrote. "Conditions in this camp are reported as most undesirable for children." What's more, Joseph had no job and Thora often had to beg for help for her children.

Gray has ruled that almost all of this is false. Joseph may have drank, but was no drunk, and he often worked. "The children were adequately clothed and fed. Thora was a loving mother who cared for children and the home." She hadn't "cleared off " for good. What's more, Gray found that the doctors who thought Bruce had suffered from malnutrition had probably been confused by his weight loss from diarrhoea. In fact, Gray even praised Joseph and Thora as "good parents", who raised their three remaining children so well they "learnt to cope with life's adversities and flourished". Had Bruce been left with them, the judge bravely suggests, he could well have flourished too. Certainly, it's impossible to think the boy could have done worse.

His new family loved him, but at three he was already losing hair in what now seems an early sign of depression. At eight he was stealing, and soiling his pants nearly every day in the walk back from school. His adoptive mother, under some apparent mental stress herself, often threatened to send him away. Psychologists were called in, and at 10 he was introduced back to his real mother, Thora (Joseph had died). After a couple of hurried visits, he was asked to decide which family to choose. He didn't really know. No wonder he turned out a wreck, chronically anxious. But back with Thora and several boisterous and older half-brothers and sisters, he seemed overwhelmed. After several tense months, he stole from his teachers and was beaten up so badly by an enraged Thora that a policeman had to take him away for his safety. She didn't want him back.

So by 11, Bruce found he was not wanted by either of his two families. He stayed for most of the rest of his youth in institutions and on tranquilisers and anti-depressants. Not surprisingly, his adult life has been deeply troubled, marred by booze, crime and even jail. It is easy for us now to moralise about how wicked Marjory Angas was to even think of taking Bruce from his parents. But should Gray have been quite that glowing of the parenting skills of Thora, and so sure she'd have raised her baby so much better?

Angas acted unlawfully, immorally and unwisely, but she may have had some reason to think Bruce was better off adopted. Consider: Thora, it seems, was indeed set to clear out when Bruce was taken, despite what the judge said. Just four months later, she'd left her family and married a wife-bashing drunk. A welfare officer later reported she was living with her children in a shack in "shocking circumstances" and, when she was reunited with Bruce, she gave him up within a year. It was in that same year that one of her other sons was sent to a boys' home after Thora was convicted of failing to send him to school.

And Joseph? One of his children by his first marriage went to a home for young offenders and another was jailed. His two sons with Thora had their own battles with booze and the law. When Thora walked out, Joseph left his two young sons with a local woman who was, police warned, too old for the job and had "mental troubles", which could "endanger the lives" of the boys. Nothing was done to help them until months later, when the woman told police to send the boys to an institution - which Joseph refused to allow.

There's more - not enough to excuse the taking of Bruce, but enough to make the cautious wonder how a young boy, already slightly brain damaged and sensitive, would have coped with being left where he was. Was Angas so wicked - so racist - to want better for him, however terribly her dumb gamble turned out? I excuse nothing, of course. A tragedy as monstrous as this is hard enough to understand, let alone to judge. But when the eager look at this case and shout, "Aha! Proof of the stolen generations! Of a plot to destroy Aborigines!", I know enough to know they know little.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


8 August, 2007

British Columbia Government Releases Overview of Controversial Pro-Gay School Curriculum

A new course that defends homosexuality and teaches students about the evils of discrimination based on sexual orientation is being piloted in BC high schools this fall. The course, a draft overview of which was released today, is part of a comprehensive pro-gay revamp of the entire BC curriculum. In response to a case filed with the Human Rights Tribunal in 1999 by gay couple Murray and Peter Corren, the BC government decided last year to introduce new curricula from Kindergarten to Grade 12 that would be "inclusive" and homosexual-friendly. The pro-gay courses may become mandatory with provisions for barring parents from opting out or opting for an alternative course (see here).

Today, the BC Ministry of Education released the draft overview for the new Grade 12 Social Justice pilot course, which is the first course to come out of the agreement with Murray and Peter Corren. In Prescribed Learning Outcomes, students are required to recognize and analyze injustice in various areas, including, "sex, age, mental ability, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation." Students will also have to analyze specific examples of injustice that have occurred in Canada relating to protected minorities, including those with differing sexual orientations. This will include "discrimination, prejudice, stereotyping, oppressions, and/or hate crimes."

The curriculum also states that as a suggested achievement indicator, students should "examine their own attitudes, behaviors, values, and beliefs," by responding to certain questions. Among the list of questions students should ask themselves, is "How do my personal experiences and circumstances (e.g., age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, family, socioeconomic status) affect my perceptions?" Students should also give examples of how the Criminal Code of Canada has addressed hate crimes. The course draft then gives only two examples of hate-crime - "holocaust deniers" and "gay bashers".

The course is intended to help students develop a "personal definition of social justice" and analyze how the law "reflects (or fails to reflect) societal values." Among the list of terms that a successful student must understand are "hate crime", "hegemony," "prejudice," "sexism," "stereotyping", "heterosexism" and "homophobia."

Similarly, in another proposed Family Studies course for Grades 10 to 12, also part of the gay-friendly curricula, successful students must be able to describe a variety of family structures-including same-sex families. They will also have to analyze the "the legal and financial implications of ending a committed relationship, including heterosexual and same-sex marriage, common-law, sponsored spouse, engagement, and long-term dating."

Ministry of Education representative Adrienne Gnidec told LifeSiteNews.com that the course is only being introduced as an elective into seven classrooms in seven different BC districts this fall. It will not be finalized until next September. The BC Ministry of Health did not reply with comments prior to press time.


This is what the British Left wants to boycott

It's never a pleasant experience to go into hospital. It's one of my least favourite things to do. But, when you've got to go, you've got to go. And so, I was dragged, kicking and screaming, to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv for an operation I had tried to put off for too long. The operation wasn't too bad. The Israeli medical service is excellent and the care is wonderful. As I was wheeled from the recovery room to my ward I was still in that euphoric state that only a trained anesthetist can induce. The Trauma Ward on the fifth floor of Ichilov Hospital is a spacious and modern complex. I was wheeled into a room where I was to be parked until my release the following day.

In the next bed to me was an Arab boy, attended to by his mother dressed in traditional Arab dress of what could be described as moderate Muslim attire. We were gracious and pleasant with each other, and they offered me orange juice, figs, and nuts. When I was sufficiently out of la-la land and back into the land of the living I began to hear their story. Sarim Shahub is twenty one years old, and from Gaza. In May, he was shot in the face and arm and had been in intensive care at Ichilov Hospital. He was now sufficiently well to move around in the Trauma Ward while receiving treatment for his face wound. One bullet had entered through his left cheek and exited through the side of his mouth. The Israeli surgeons had put a breathing tube in his throat, and he was temporarily unable to speak. His mother told me that he had been caught up in the fighting between Hamas and Fatah. This may be true. It could also be true that he had been fighting for one of the factions.

The following day, when I felt strong enough to crawl around the ward, I noticed that other rooms were taken up by Palestinians. I was told that all had gunshot or shrapnel wounds inflicted in the Palestinian in-fighting in Gaza. One room was out of bounds. Either the patients were in intensive care, or they were people of significance, and therefore kept isolated.

As I lay in bed next to Sarim I read an article about the intended British boycott of Israeli academic institutions. I looked across at Sarim as he lay in his hi-tech Evolution hospital bed. Here was a Palestinian from Gaza receiving the finest medical care and attention from Israeli doctors and nurses, all trained in Israeli academic institutions. These are the very institutions that British academics wish to boycott. His treatment will consider for some time until he is healthy enough to return home to Gaza.

I do not know what his fate will be. I only know that his immediate past was damaged by corrupt and violent Palestinian leadership who continue to reject creating a state of their own alongside the Jewish state of Israel, and by the lawlessness and violence that is today's Palestinian society. I do know that Sarim has been given another chance of life by the dedication and professionalism of the Israeli medical profession. Will somebody please tell me how a British boycott of Israeli academics and learning institutions will have helped Sarim, and others like him, in his moment of crisis?


Putnam's attempt to escape his own findings on the bad effects of ethnic diversity

IT HAS BECOME increasingly popular to speak of racial and ethnic diversity as a civic strength. From multicultural festivals to pronouncements from political leaders, the message is the same: our differences make us stronger.

But a massive new study, based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America, has concluded just the opposite. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam -- famous for "Bowling Alone," his 2000 book on declining civic engagement -- has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings. "The extent of the effect is shocking," says Scott Page, a University of Michigan political scientist.

The study comes at a time when the future of the American melting pot is the focus of intense political debate, from immigration to race-based admissions to schools, and it poses challenges to advocates on all sides of the issues. The study is already being cited by some conservatives as proof of the harm large-scale immigration causes to the nation's social fabric. But with demographic trends already pushing the nation inexorably toward greater diversity, the real question may yet lie ahead: how to handle the unsettling social changes that Putnam's research predicts.....

His findings on the downsides of diversity have also posed a challenge for Putnam, a liberal academic whose own values put him squarely in the pro-diversity camp. Suddenly finding himself the bearer of bad news, Putnam has struggled with how to present his work. He gathered the initial raw data in 2000 and issued a press release the following year outlining the results. He then spent several years testing other possible explanations.

When he finally published a detailed scholarly analysis in June in the journal Scandinavian Political Studies, he faced criticism for straying from data into advocacy. His paper argues strongly that the negative effects of diversity can be remedied, and says history suggests that ethnic diversity may eventually fade as a sharp line of social demarcation. "Having aligned himself with the central planners intent on sustaining such social engineering, Putnam concludes the facts with a stern pep talk," wrote conservative commentator Ilana Mercer, in a recent Orange County Register op-ed titled "Greater diversity equals more misery."

Putnam has long staked out ground as both a researcher and a civic player, someone willing to describe social problems and then have a hand in addressing them. He says social science should be "simultaneously rigorous and relevant," meeting high research standards while also "speaking to concerns of our fellow citizens." But on a topic as charged as ethnicity and race, Putnam worries that many people hear only what they want to. "It would be unfortunate if a politically correct progressivism were to deny the reality of the challenge to social solidarity posed by diversity," he writes in the new report. "It would be equally unfortunate if an ahistorical and ethnocentric conservatism were to deny that addressing that challenge is both feasible and desirable."

Putnam is the nation's premier guru of civic engagement. After studying civic life in Italy in the 1970s and 1980s, Putnam turned his attention to the US, publishing an influential journal article on civic engagement in 1995 that he expanded five years later into the best-selling "Bowling Alone." The book sounded a national wake-up call on what Putnam called a sharp drop in civic connections among Americans. It won him audiences with presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and made him one of the country's best known social scientists.

Putnam claims the US has experienced a pronounced decline in "social capital," a term he helped popularize. Social capital refers to the social networks -- whether friendships or religious congregations or neighborhood associations -- that he says are key indicators of civic well-being. When social capital is high, says Putnam, communities are better places to live. Neighborhoods are safer; people are healthier; and more citizens vote.

The results of his new study come from a survey Putnam directed among residents in 41 US communities, including Boston. Residents were sorted into the four principal categories used by the US Census: black, white, Hispanic, and Asian. They were asked how much they trusted their neighbors and those of each racial category, and questioned about a long list of civic attitudes and practices, including their views on local government, their involvement in community projects, and their friendships. What emerged in more diverse communities was a bleak picture of civic desolation, affecting everything from political engagement to the state of social ties.

Putnam knew he had provocative findings on his hands. He worried about coming under some of the same liberal attacks that greeted Daniel Patrick Moynihan's landmark 1965 report on the social costs associated with the breakdown of the black family. There is always the risk of being pilloried as the bearer of "an inconvenient truth," says Putnam.

After releasing the initial results in 2001, Putnam says he spent time "kicking the tires really hard" to be sure the study had it right. Putnam realized, for instance, that more diverse communities tended to be larger, have greater income ranges, higher crime rates, and more mobility among their residents -- all factors that could depress social capital independent of any impact ethnic diversity might have. "People would say, 'I bet you forgot about X,'" Putnam says of the string of suggestions from colleagues. "There were 20 or 30 X's."

But even after statistically taking them all into account, the connection remained strong: Higher diversity meant lower social capital. In his findings, Putnam writes that those in more diverse communities tend to "distrust their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television." "People living in ethnically diverse settings appear to 'hunker down' -- that is, to pull in like a turtle," Putnam writes.

In documenting that hunkering down, Putnam challenged the two dominant schools of thought on ethnic and racial diversity, the "contact" theory and the "conflict" theory. Under the contact theory, more time spent with those of other backgrounds leads to greater understanding and harmony between groups. Under the conflict theory, that proximity produces tension and discord.

Putnam's findings reject both theories. In more diverse communities, he says, there were neither great bonds formed across group lines nor heightened ethnic tensions, but a general civic malaise. And in perhaps the most surprising result of all, levels of trust were not only lower between groups in more diverse settings, but even among members of the same group. "Diversity, at least in the short run," he writes, "seems to bring out the turtle in all of us."

The overall findings may be jarring during a time when it's become commonplace to sing the praises of diverse communities, but researchers in the field say they shouldn't be. "It's an important addition to a growing body of evidence on the challenges created by diversity," says Harvard economist Edward Glaeser. In a recent study, Glaeser and colleague Alberto Alesina demonstrated that roughly half the difference in social welfare spending between the US and Europe -- Europe spends far more -- can be attributed to the greater ethnic diversity of the US population. Glaeser says lower national social welfare spending in the US is a "macro" version of the decreased civic engagement Putnam found in more diverse communities within the country.

Economists Matthew Kahn of UCLA and Dora Costa of MIT reviewed 15 recent studies in a 2003 paper, all of which linked diversity with lower levels of social capital. Greater ethnic diversity was linked, for example, to lower school funding, census response rates, and trust in others. Kahn and Costa's own research documented higher desertion rates in the Civil War among Union Army soldiers serving in companies whose soldiers varied more by age, occupation, and birthplace. Birds of different feathers may sometimes flock together, but they are also less likely to look out for one another. "Everyone is a little self-conscious that this is not politically correct stuff," says Kahn.

So how to explain New York, London, Rio de Janiero, Los Angeles -- the great melting-pot cities that drive the world's creative and financial economies? [Maybe they would do even better WITHOUT "diversity"?] The image of civic lassitude dragging down more diverse communities is at odds with the vigor often associated with urban centers, where ethnic diversity is greatest. It turns out there is a flip side to the discomfort diversity can cause. If ethnic diversity, at least in the short run, is a liability for social connectedness, a parallel line of emerging research suggests it can be a big asset when it comes to driving productivity and innovation. [Theory to the rescue!] In high-skill workplace settings, says Scott Page, the University of Michigan political scientist, the different ways of thinking among people from different cultures can be a boon. "Because they see the world and think about the world differently than you, that's challenging," says Page, author of "The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies." "But by hanging out with people different than you, you're likely to get more insights. Diverse teams tend to be more productive."

In other words, those in more diverse communities may do more bowling alone, but the creative tensions unleashed by those differences in the workplace may vault those same places to the cutting edge of the economy and of creative culture. Page calls it the "diversity paradox." He thinks the contrasting positive and negative effects of diversity can coexist in communities, but "there's got to be a limit." If civic engagement falls off too far, he says, it's easy to imagine the positive effects of diversity beginning to wane as well. "That's what's unsettling about his findings," Page says of Putnam's new work.

Meanwhile, by drawing a portrait of civic engagement in which more homogeneous communities seem much healthier, some of Putnam's worst fears about how his results could be used have been realized. A stream of conservative commentary has begun -- from places like the Manhattan Institute and "The American Conservative" -- highlighting the harm the study suggests will come from large-scale immigration. But Putnam says he's also received hundreds of complimentary emails laced with bigoted language. "It certainly is not pleasant when David Duke's website hails me as the guy who found out racism is good," he says.

In the final quarter of his paper, Putnam puts the diversity challenge in a broader context by describing how social identity can change over time. Experience shows that social divisions can eventually give way to "more encompassing identities" that create a "new, more capacious sense of 'we,'" he writes. [That happened in some cases -- in part because of pressures to assimilate. And it has failed signally in the case of blacks. It would be foolish to expect it to happen now with very different immigrant groups and multiculturalism being the prevailing religion]

Growing up in the 1950s in small Midwestern town, Putnam knew the religion of virtually every member of his high school graduating class because, he says, such information was crucial to the question of "who was a possible mate or date." The importance of marrying within one's faith, he says, has largely faded since then, at least among many mainline Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. While acknowledging that racial and ethnic divisions may prove more stubborn, Putnam argues that such examples bode well for the long-term prospects for social capital in a multiethnic America.

In his paper, Putnam cites the work done by Page and others, and uses it to help frame his conclusion that increasing diversity in America is not only inevitable, but ultimately valuable and enriching. As for smoothing over the divisions that hinder civic engagement, Putnam argues that Americans can help that process along through targeted efforts. He suggests expanding support for English-language instruction and investing in community centers and other places that allow for "meaningful interaction across ethnic lines."

Some critics have found his prescriptions underwhelming. And in offering ideas for mitigating his findings, Putnam has drawn scorn for stepping out of the role of dispassionate researcher. "You're just supposed to tell your peers what you found," says John Leo, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. "I don't expect academics to fret about these matters." But fretting about the state of American civic health is exactly what Putnam has spent more than a decade doing. While continuing to research questions involving social capital, he has directed the Saguaro Seminar, a project he started at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government that promotes efforts throughout the country to increase civic connections in communities. "Social scientists are both scientists and citizens," says Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College, who sees nothing wrong in Putnam's efforts to affect some of the phenomena he studies.

Wolfe says what is unusual is that Putnam has published findings as a social scientist that are not the ones he would have wished for as a civic leader. There are plenty of social scientists, says Wolfe, who never produce research results at odds with their own worldview. "The problem too often," says Wolfe, "is people are never uncomfortable about their findings."


Australia: Right to tribal law scrapped

Multiculti loses out

ABORIGINAL offenders in the Northern Territory will no longer be able to use customary law to get softer sentences for serious crimes, under the Howard Government's radical intervention into Aboriginal communities. And federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough revealed yesterday that the "just terms" compensation to be offered to Aboriginal traditional owners who have their land taken from them for five years could be provided in many forms, not only in cash. Mr Brough said "rent and improvements", including infrastructure programs, could count as compensation. And he conceded some traditional owners might have to wait a long time until they received any compensation. "What I'm saying is that traditional owners will discuss with the Government, and if ... a particular group ... can't come up with a decision, then there is recourse to the courts," he said.

Mr Brough said the Government would introduce the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Bill into parliament today, with plans to have the legislation passed by the end of the week.

Labor held a special briefing last night with Kevin Rudd and a caucus sub-committee that included the two Labor MPs from the Territory who have opposed elements of the Howard Government's intervention. The issue has been sensitive in Labor ranks, with the Left opposing crucial elements of the Howard package. The Australian understands that Labor is likely to support the legislation while still articulating the view that the abolition of the permit system for entry to communities is unnecessary. Labor will decide at this morning's caucus meeting how it will respond to thebill.

Mr Brough said the Government's intervention would cost $587 million in the first 12 months, as revealed in The Australian yesterday. Of this, $64.7 million will be spent on policing alcohol bans and pornography, $83.1 million on health checks for indigenous children, $205.8 million on welfare changes and employment initiatives, and $32.8 million on enhanced child protection services and more safe houses, an expansion of alcohol diversionary services for youth and additional childcare.

Mr Brough said the customary law changes were included because the Territory Government had failed to change its laws. "COAG agreed in 2006 that no customary law or cultural practice excuses violence or sexual abuse," he said. "Jurisdictions agreed to amend their laws to reflect this decision. The Australian Government has amended commonwealth law. The NT has so far failed to do so."

The Howard Government's plan contains legislation authorising alcohol bans, the takeover of remote community land under five-year leases and audits of public computers for pornography. Other bills will provide for welfare changes, both in the Territory and nationwide, and the removal of the permit system for Aboriginal land, which restricts access to communities.

The Territory Government said it opposed some of the measures, including the land acquisitions and the removal of the permit system. Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin said her Government only supported measures that would directly result in the protection of children. "Providing unrestricted access to communities by removing permit requirements, leasing land for five years and compulsorily acquiring town camps does not meet these criteria and does not have the support of the (NT) Government," Ms Martin said.

The Howard Government also announced that for the duration of the five-year intervention, all native title land claims would be suspended.

Indigenous people who have their welfare money quarantined by at least 50per cent for wasting their payments on alcohol, drugs or gambling, or failing to send their children to school, will not have the right to appeal against the decision. If they fail to send their children to school, all their welfare payments could be quarantined. Other Australians who face welfare controls will be able to appeal.

Mr Brough yesterday admitted that not all Aboriginal children were turning up to health checks. His office said they had offered a visiting delegation of Territory Aboriginal leaders opposed to the intervention a meeting yesterday afternoon but they had refused the time offered to them.

In other changes to the law, people who try to smuggle alcohol into remote Territory indigenous communities will risk up to 18 months' imprisonment and a $75,000 fine. Those caught with alcohol for personal use will face a fine of $110 for first offences and double that for any subsequent offences. Anyone caught in prescribed areas with more than the equivalent of 1350ml of alcohol will be presumed to have an intent to supply and the maximum penalty will be up to 18 months' jail and $74,800 in fines.

Mr Brough defended the initial $587 million cost of the plan, saying anyone who criticised the expenditure was "either not a parent or doesn't have a soul". "What price do you put on ... a baby of six months of age with gonorrhoea?" Mr Brough said. "Let's say it as it is: that is the price that we're willing to pay to try and prevent that from occurring, to ensure that children actually do have a future."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


7 August, 2007

Girl barred from British Government job...because she is English

A teenage science student has been banned from applying for a training programme with the Environment Agency because she is white and English. The recruitment agency handling the scheme told Abigail Howarth, 18, that there was no point in her submitting an application because of her ethnic background. But bizarrely she could have applied if she had been white and Welsh, Scottish or Irish.

Abigail, who wanted to join the Agency's flood management programme, saw an advert in a local newspaper offering positions in the Anglia region where she lives, complete with a œ13,000-a-year tax-free grant. It made no mention of the ban on white English applicants, merely noting that candidates from ethnic minorities, such as "Asian, Indian' and "White Other, e.g. Irish, Welsh, Scottish', were encouraged to put themselves forward.

Abigail, of Little Straughton, Bedfordshire, said: "I was really disappointed. To be told being "White English" ruled me out in my home county shocked me. I know why there are positive action training schemes to assist those who are genuinely discriminated against but when it's broken down to this level it seems crazy to me. "I really wanted to work for the agency and I was very excited - followed by feeling very disappointed. "I would not have minded had I been beaten for the position by somebody better able than me."

Abigail, who is awaiting the results of A-Levels in environmental science, geography and geology, emailed PATH National Ltd, the company handling applications. She asked: "Am I correct in assuming that as I am English (White) I need not apply as the preference is for the minorities you have listed, or can I apply anyway?' Three days later, PATH recruitment officer, Bola Odusi, replied: "Thank you for your enquiry unfortunately the traineeship opportunity in ... targeted towards the ethnic minority group to address their under representations in the professions under the Race Relations Act amended 2000."

Such a policy may breach Race Relations legislation as employers must prove ethnic groups are under-represented before using positive discrimination strategies. The Environment Agency admitted it had 'no evidence that white Welsh, Scottish or Irish workers were under-represented' in the Anglia region.

South West Bedfordshire Tory MP Andrew Selous said: "I think this is complete nonsense and the Environment Agency should be taking the best people, irrespective of their background. "This is obviously borne out of some idiotic quota system. Abigail should have been able to apply and been judged on her own merits. I will raise this when I have a meeting with the Environment Agency next month."

PATH National's organisational development manager, Mary McDowell, said: "The "White Welsh", "White Irish" and "White Scottish" is a technicality in law - if they are a minority, they are entitled to places on these schemes - they are not part of the majority group, which is "White English". "The "White English" in this area are the majority group and hence could not apply. "That is the way the law is laid. This is a chance for people who might be less employable to gain experience, just experience. Public-sector organisations have a duty to ensure they reflect the make-up of the society they serve."

The Environment Agency says 387 of its 12,000 workers claim BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) status. A spokesman added: "The Commission for Racial Equality has confirmed we are acting legally." A CRE spokeswoman said: "The Commission will be checking with the Environment Agency to clarify the current situation regarding their positive action initiatives. "Positive action can only be used to encourage or train particular under-represented groups."


Black Talk Radio Can't Handle the Truth

By Casey Lartigue Jr. and Eliot Morgan

For nearly three decades, the memo has been passed around by word of mouth, the Internet, on nth-generation photocopied fliers, making the rounds among African American activists, politicians and talk-show hosts. In "Black Africa and the U.S. Black Movement," also known as Memorandum 46, President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser outlines a sinister 1970s government strategy to undermine black leadership in the United States and sow discord with Africans abroad.

It's a fantastic story, and on June 23, we devoted an entire edition of "The Casey Lartigue Show," our weekly political talk show on an XM satellite radio channel aimed at black listeners, to debunking it and other urban legends.

Everywhere we looked, we found evidence that the document was fake: a 1980 news clipping in which the Carter administration denounced it as a forgery; a September 1980 National Security Council memo noting that the "scurrilous document" referred to nonexistent entities such as the "NSC Political Analysis Committee"; 1982 testimony by the deputy director of the CIA presenting Memorandum 46 as part of a dozen suspected forgeries by the Soviet Union; a 2002 article by Paul Lee, a consultant to the Malcolm X movie by Spike Lee, dismissing Memorandum 46 as a fraud; and the real Presidential Review Memorandum 46, a bland call for a bureaucratic review of U.S. policy toward Central American issues, which is available on the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum's Web site.

We also contacted Zbigniew Brzezinski, the liberal lion who supposedly authored the memo. Not only did he say he had nothing to do with it, but the former national security adviser pointed out that in one of the versions circulating on the Internet, "the idiot-forger could not even spell my name correctly." But if you think that was the end of the story, you don't know the world of black talk radio. These are the airwaves in which the first president of the United States was a black man, in which AIDS was cooked up in a government laboratory to decimate the black population and in which major corporations lace their food with chemicals to make black men sterile.

Colleagues at the station accused us of performing "counter-intelligence." Stalwart callers cried that the station was being "infiltrated." Harsh words with a station manager were exchanged. And we found ourselves booted out of the talk-radio business.

Americans love conspiracy theories. We question official accounts about the assassinations of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, as well as the (alleged) deaths of Elvis Presley, Howard Hughes, Tupac Shakur and Kenneth L. Lay. Some people have doubted whether Neil Armstrong really walked on the moon. But conspiracy theories take on a life of their own in the black community.

Often, just one word can silence those who doubt the conspiracy theory of the day: COINTELPRO, the FBI's notorious anticommunist program that was used against groups such as the Southern Christian Leadership Council and the Ku Klux Klan. From the Scottsboro Boys to the Tuskegee syphilis study, our government has displayed a willingness to conspire against its citizens.

Likewise, truth-squadding becomes difficult when such theories are linked to hard data: Black Americans constitute about 12 percent of the U.S. population but about half of the nation's AIDS cases. That sets up the conditions in which, according to researchers Sheryl Thorburn Bird and Laura M. Bogart, more than 20 percent of black Americans think that HIV was created to restrict the black population.

A 1990 survey by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference found that one-third of black American churchgoers believed that AIDS was a form of genocide. One-third also believed that HIV was produced in a germ-warfare lab, and 40 percent of black college students in Washington, D.C., agreed. An even higher percentage of blacks polled said they thought that crack cocaine was custom-made to be planted in African American communities to keep them crime-ridden and poor and that the government deliberately targeted black elected officials to drive them from office.

These beliefs keep some black Americans from having their children vaccinated, from receiving AIDS tests and early medical treatment, and from practicing safe sex or using clean needles, as Patricia A. Turner and Gary Alan Fine note in their book, "Whispers on the Color Line." They also make seeking the truth an uphill battle.

More here

Soldiers' alcohol binge OK, says Howard

Good to see that Australia has a level-headed PM who does not buy in to Leftist hysteria. Drinking is part of life in Australia and overdoing it from time to time is normal too

JOHN Howard and Brendan Nelson have defended the conduct of drunken soldiers in a video posted on internet site YouTube, saying the young men were just letting off steam. The 3-minute video, titled My Experience in the Australian Army, posted by an ex-soldier but now removed from YouTube, shows a group of young men getting extremely drunk during a drinking game. The soldiers, from Robertson Barracks in Darwin, are shown sculling alcohol through a long tube and then vomiting.

The brief appearance of someone in a Ku Klux Klan outfit has caused widespread comment but the Prime Minister said the soldiers were letting off "a bit of steam" and urged the public not to overreact. "I have some understanding of the disposition of people in these situations to let off a bit of steam," Mr Howard said. "I just think people can overreact with these things. People get into a lather and sweat and so on ... Let's be sensible about this."

Mr Howard said any discipline was a matter for the army. "Let the military deal with those things in their own way," he said. The Defence Minister said he would wait for the army's report into the incident. "Let's just wait until the Chief of Army and the military investigate the matter before we start jumping to conclusions and start to criticise the men who appear to have been involved," Dr Nelson said. "I suspect a lot of it is ... a bit of larrikin irreverence and I also suspect some of it has crossed the line and is quite inappropriate."

Brigadier Craig Orme, commander of Darwin's 1st Brigade, said the video was shot by a now former member of the Australian Defence Force about three years ago. He said the conduct was "abhorrent and inappropriate" and "not in the least" common, and the army would launch an inquiry to determine what action if any should be taken.


Klan footage a 'bucks prank'

A FORMER soldier who appears in a video of Australian troops binge drinking, with one apparently dressed as a Ku Klux Klansman, says the footage was a bucks party prank, not a racial slur. Identified only as Rico, the former soldier said he could understand why people were upset about the footage but it wasn't meant to be offensive. "I can see why people find it offensive but the reason why it was done was a mate's bucks party that we were having," he told the Seven Network. "We had a surprise made up for him so we went and pretty much kidnapped him and we needed a costume so he couldn't find out who it was. "The cheapest way to do it was to put a bedsheet over our heads, it wasn't in any racial terms."

The military is conducting an inquiry into the "abhorrent" video, shot three years ago and recently posted on the YouTube internet site. Rico said alcohol was a big part of army life while he was there and a way of letting off steam. "Every weekend pretty much that kind of drinking went on, most of the footage in that video was pretty tame compared to a lot of things that used to go on," Rico said. "We did our duty to the best of our abilities, we didn't drink while we were on duty."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


6 August, 2007

Homosexual adopters who couldn't resist the temptation

Foolish to put temptation in their way

Two Hartford men have admitted to producing child pornography, federal authorities said. Kurt Alfred Amundson, 42, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids to a charge of producing images of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Amundson's co-defendant, 43-year-old Robert George Shafer, pleaded guilty to the same felony count July 25.

Investigators found several images of child pornography, including images of a child befriended by the two men, on computers, cameras, CDs and floppy disks seized from the Hartford men's residence in June 2006, according to a news release.

Authorities said the two were licensed as foster-care providers and were in the process of adopting a child for whom they were serving as foster parents. The foster child and the child befriended by the two men alleged that Shafer and Amundson sexually assaulted them, according to the news release.

The two men were indicted by a federal grand jury on June 6 and arrested on June 8, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Both face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and maximum of 30 years in prison, followed by a maximum term of life supervision after their releases, and a fine of up to $250,000.


Interested Participant comments:

Interestingly, Amundson was heralded as a homosexual foster parent in a 2003 article, "The Changing Face of the American Family."

When asked about his role as a same-sex foster parent he said mentoring children was not satisfying enough for him.

"It was helpful, but I wanted to carry the relationship beyond that," he said in the article.
According to the indictment, there was carrying on and then some.

Why 'Islamophobia' is a brilliant term

What do anti-Semitism, racism and Islamophobia have in common? In fact, nothing. But according to Islamist groups, Western media and the United Nations, they have everything in common. Anti-Semites hate all Jews, racists hate all members of another race, and Islamophobes hate all Muslims.

Whoever coined the term "Islamophobia" was quite shrewd. Notice the intellectual sleight of hand here. The term is not "Muslim-phobia" or "anti-Muslimist," it is Islam-ophobia - fear of Islam - yet fear of Islam is in no way the same as hatred of all Muslims. One can rightly or wrongly fear Islam, or more usually, aspects of Islam, and have absolutely no bias against all Muslims, let alone be a racist.

The equation of Islamophobia with racism is particularly dishonest. Muslims come in every racial group, and Islam has nothing to do with race. Nevertheless, mainstream Western media, Islamist groups calling themselves Muslim civil liberties groups and various Western organizations repeatedly declare that Islamophobia is racism.

To cite three of innumerable examples: The Guardian published an opinion piece titled, "Islamophobia should be as unacceptable as racism"; the European Union has established the European Monitoring Center for Racism and Xenophobia; and the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission of Australia notes that "Muslims have also been the target of racism in Australia, often referred to as Islamophobia." Even granting that there are people who fear Islam, how does that in any way correlate with racism? If fear of an ideology rendered one racist, all those who fear conservatism or liberalism should be considered racist.

Of course, some may argue that whereas conservatism and liberalism are ideas, Islam is a religion, and while one can attack ideas, one must not attack religions. It is, however, quite insulting to religions to deny that they are ideas. Religions are certainly more than ideas - they are theological belief systems - but they are also ideas about how society should be run just as much as liberalism and conservatism are. Therefore, Islam, or Christianity, or Judaism, or Buddhism should be just as subject to criticism as conservatism or liberalism.

However, the only religion the West permits criticism of is Christianity. People write books, give lectures and conduct seminars on the falsity of Christian claims, or on the immoral record of Christianity, and no one attacks them for racism or bigotry, let alone attacks them physically. The head of the Anti-Defamation League announces that conservative Christians are the greatest threat to America today, and no one charges him with racism or Christianophobia.

The statement may be an expression of hysteria and of ignorance, but not of racism. But if one says that Islam does not appear compatible with democracy or that the Islamic treatment of women is inferior to the West's, he or she is labeled a racist Islamophobe.

One might counter that maligning people for criticism is not only true of those who criticize Islam, it is also true of critics of Israel and of America - the former, it is said, are immediately labeled "anti-Semitic" and the latter are immediately labeled "unpatriotic." Neither is true at all. Both are, and I use this word rarely, lies.

No one is labeled anti-Semitic for merely criticizing Israel. People are labeled anti-Semitic for denying Israel's right to exist, for siding with those who wish to exterminate it or for singling out the Jewish state alone among all the nations of the world for attacks that most other countries deserve far more.

And no one in any responsible capacity has called anyone "unpatriotic" just for criticizing America. Sen. Hillary Clinton claimed during the last Democratic presidential debate that the Defense Department called her "unpatriotic" for asking whether the Defense Department has a plan to withdraw American troops from Iraq. Yet the term "unpatriotic" was not only not used in the response to the senator, it was not even hinted at.

The fact remains that the term "Islamophobia" has one purpose - to suppress any criticism, legitimate or not, of Islam. And given the cowardice of the Western media, and the collusion of the left in banning any such criticism (while piling it on Christianity and Christians), it is working.

Latest proof: This past week a man in New York was charged with two felonies for what is being labeled the hate crime of putting a Quran in a toilet at Pace College. Not misdemeanors, mind you, felonies. Meanwhile, the man who put a crucifix in a jar of urine continues to have his artwork - "Pi-- Christ" - displayed at galleries and museums. A Quran in a toilet is a hate crime; a crucifix in pee is a work of art. Thanks in part to that brilliant term "Islamophobia."



In noting the comments below about TR, one should bear in mind that although TR started out in the Republican Party, he went on to found the "Progressive" Party -- sometimes known as the Bull Moose Party

Dr. Woods's latest book is titled: 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask. "This book...poses 33 questions about American history," Woods tells us in his introduction,

"for which the typical answers are either misleading, grossly unsatisfactory, or clearly and demonstrably wrong. Worse than the standard answers to these questions is that many of them are simply never raised in the first place, since they may give rise to forbidden thoughts that run counter to established opinion."
I will guarantee you that Woods's book will give the reader a whole lot of "forbidden thoughts" about our shared history. Now, the previous sentence is a "lead in," and I'm duty-bound to present the reader with some examples of Woods's politically incorrect violations. The problem is I really have to save the juicy ones for the book. You see it wouldn't be fair to Dr. Woods to detail certain "chapters;" for example, What Was the Biggest Unknown Scandal of the Clinton Years (hint: it wasn't body fluids on any dress)? Or, How Does Social Security Really Work (warning: if you're over 55 please have a box of Kleenex available for this one)? Or, a really, really, good one for those of you who refer to the "civil war" as the War Between the States, or The War for Southern Independence, or the War of Northern Aggression is Was the Civil War All About Slavery, or Was Something Else At Stake?

But we can take a quick peak at a really, really good example titled: Who is Most Responsible for The "Imperial Presidency?" Now, I know that there are Republican Party stalwarts reading this who are salivating over the prospects that Woods names Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman or Lyndon Johnson. And, if you did, you'd be wrong. No siree, Tom Woods says it was good old Teddy Roosevelt, he of the beloved Rough Riders, who Woods implies should have been the first recipient of a Ritalin prescription.

Now before you get excited about Woods picking on the Republicans lets take a quick look at Teddy. First of all that handsome, cigar smoking, teller-of-tales, Mark Twain met with Teddy twice and "declared him `clearly insane,'" which, coming from a man who consistently exhibited a certain discernment in his literary efforts, cannot be construed to be approbation.

Dr. Woods also informs his readers that (1) at the age of twenty Teddy had a fight with his girlfriend, came home and shot and killed the neighbor's dog. (2) Upon shooting and killing his first buffalo - PETA members please don't read any further - he "abandoned himself to complete hysteria...." And "as historian Edmund Morris put it, `whooping and shrieking while his guide watched in stolid amazement.'" And, (3) for the proverbial kicker Woods adds, "His reaction was similar in 1898 when he killed his first Spaniard." Oh, and by the way Dr. Woods cites the Spaniard killing incident in Edmund Morris's The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1979). Dr. Woods's book is full of citations.

To give you an indication of Teddy's state of mind, during the United Mine Workers strike of 1902, when questioned by House Republican Whip James E. Watson regarding the constitutionality of sending federal troops in to operate the mines, Teddy responded, "The Constitution was made for the people and not the people for the Constitution," a comment that would surely warm the heart of Howard Zinn.

And, as Woods informs his readers, it was the beloved Teddy "who pioneered rule by executive order as a governing style among American chief executives." And, it was Teddy, who in his dealings with the Dominican Republic in 1905 over possible debt collection by various European nations, that "converted the executive agreement into a major instrument of American foreign policy."

In concluding this chapter on the founding of the imperial presidency Woods tells us that conservatives groused about Teddy's unconstitutional usurpation "during the Progressive Era." He tells us that "William Howard Taft, a man of sober disposition who was much more at home on the Supreme Court than he ever was as president, vainly warned of this growth in presidential power and of the great difficulty in keeping that power restrained once unleashed. Nobody was listening." Woods is right, of course, nobody was listening, or cared enough to do anything. Heck, they even carved his head on a mountain in the Dakota badlands. Hello!

Tom Woods's book has a sad irony to it. In his conclusion he writes,
"You almost have to give the architects of this system credit for the cleverness of the racket they have going: the same group of people who hold a monopoly on the power to tax and the power to initiate force also wield an effective monopoly on the power to educate future generations of Americans."
It is, of course, our children and grandchildren who are unwitting subjects of the apologias for the state elite.

"For this reason alone, the state's official version of history, which is always and everywhere another such apologia on behalf of itself, deserves not the benefit of the doubt but an abiding and informed skepticism. No free people ever survived on a consistent diet of official propaganda. Hayek was right: how we understand the past dramatically influences how we view the present. That is why, for the sake of American freedom, there should be no questions about American history you're not supposed to ask."
Tom Woods's book will disabuse those Americans who are na‹ve enough to think that they live under the protections guaranteed in the old Constitution. Those protections are long gone, replaced by a pernicious democratic socialism that more closely reflects the dystopian horror of George Orwell rather then the federated republic of George Washington.

Tom Woods is a gifted scholar determined to bring a true and accurate rendering of American history before the public. Buy his book, read it, then join him in his efforts to restore the old republic.


Multiculturalism, infectious globalism now pandemic!

Far more deadly than a speeding train or even conventional weapons, the mantra of "multiculturalism" has become the chant to stop discussion of issues that effect and alter the cohesion of a nation's people beyond repair; a mantra couched as "diversity" and how that is really good for a nation. Multiculturalism is designed to weaken all strong nations and destroy completely the weaker ones. Problem - the CDC has no antidote but then how could they?

And of course in America, if one even wants to discuss "multiculturalism" and adverse effects it may be having due to cultures not "assimilating" into our "American" culture, one is called a racist. In America that is absurd in that we are so diverse. However, true, racist hate-groups that call themselves "The Race" are immune to a scrutiny of their agenda. Because, whoops, that scrutiny would be "racist".

There is just one tad of perspective that seems to have been left out of the equation in this multicultural panacea of "globalism": Islam. [music to Darth Vader in the background.]

We are told, or at least I have read, that Muslims belong to Islam and have no loyalties to any physical, bordered nation, but rather are only loyal to Islam - as dictated and interpreted by which mullah or ayatollah is in charge.

If that is true, then it follows that once the "globalists" finish destroying Western Civilization and weakening smaller nations totally, the only "nation" that will remain standing is Islam - a political, societal ideology that encompasses and rigidly controls an individual's life from cradle to grave, stripping away any chance at the freedoms we in the West hold dear.

An ideology that controls through beheadings, honour killings, severing of hands for infractions, and even letting young school girls burn to death in a school fire; an ideology that has no mercy or compassion for its own followers and exhorts them to kill - certainly not assimilate with - infidels. Infidels are not restricted just to non-Muslims. Some Muslims have been targeted as well for not being "muslim" enough.

That notion strikes me as "funny" because I listened to an interview with a baseball star who is black saying that another player was not "black enough" because the other player is 1/2 black and 1/2 white. Can't continue to have this "race card" thing both ways.

It seems that, like it or not, we are not only fighting Islamofascism but our own "home-grown" globalists as well. Not good.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


5 August, 2007

Boy Scouts banned from eating burgers and sausages - because of other people's religious beliefs

It was the glorious dawn of dibdibdobbing. A hundred years ago Lord Baden-Powell set out with 20 lads, his mission to teach them to hunt, light a fire and build shelter in the great outdoors. A century on, it seems the original flame of Boy Scouting is not burning quite so bright. For at a jamboree to mark the centenary of that original trip, there is no singing around the glowing embers of the camp fire - because there is no fire.

And you can't find a singed sausage for love nor money. However, there are veggie burgers aplenty. And a large potted plant, around which the Scouts of 2007 can gather and write down thoughts on how to achieve world peace. The location is Brownsea Island in Dorset, the starting point of Scouting where Lord Baden-Powell led the first expedition. Those young pioneers caught rabbits and then skinned and cooked them on an open fire.

Some 300 modern-day Scouts (the word Boy was dropped in the 1960s) settled down to a meal prepared in a 'kitchen marquee' and consisting entirely of vegetarian food - so as not to offend any religious faiths. Clare Haines, a spokesman for the Scout Association, said: "It was really to do with religion that we were not able to provide sausages and burgers and all that kind of food. "We have been very careful to make sure food is provided to everybody's tastes and beliefs, so no one feels left out. "They enjoyed their vegetarian meals, especially vegetable chilli, fresh salads and jacket potatoes."

She added that campfires had been banned on the National Trust-owned island after a massive woodland blaze 30 years ago.

However, Claire Barnes, a Scout leader from Rochester, Kent, said: "I can't believe anyone would have a problem with sausages or burgers. "I've been involved with the Scouts for 15 years and it's the first time I have ever heard anything like this. "We're proud of teaching our children about building fires - it's these basic survival skills which the movement is based on. "I can understand why they wanted to make everyone feel accepted but I think that's probably taking things a little too far."

The jamboree is one of many events being held to mark the Scouting 2007 Centenary. But for some, the Brownsea experience lacked the outdoors feel of a traditional camping experience. In the middle of the island stands a huge marquee fitted out with industrial ovens and fridges stocked with vegetarian food. Next to it is a large, covered canteen and stage where bands have performed in the evening during the five days of celebrations. There is also an Internet cafe set up with ten lap-top computers to allow home-sick youngsters to keep in touch with their families around the globe.

The Scouts sleep in single-sex tents scattered around the island and have the use of numerous wash tents and portable lavatories. Hundreds of solar powered lights line the walk ways across the island to avoid anyone tripping over tent pegs, and each cluster of tents is illuminated by strings of electric lights powered by generators.

David Massen, a Scout leader from Bradford, said last night: "A lot has changed with the way Scouting works since 1907. "The principles are still the same but society has changed. "For example, Baden-Powell could just take his Scouts out on a boat for a fishing trip, whereas if I want to do the same I have to take a two-hour training session and write a four-page risk assessment statement."


The EU and the Globalist Alliance

A small excerpt from Fjordman below

Here is an interesting comment about Multiculturalism posted at a website in, of all places, Bangladesh: "Multiculturalism is an unnatural and unhealthy condition that can only afflict countries in national decline. (.) Greed and corruption will characterise the government coupled with oppressive measures directed against its citizens. Lies and deceit will be the stock and trade of media, politicians, and educational institutions." Multiculturalism "is used to prevent a national consensus among the electorate. It erodes values, cultures, beliefs, religions, ethnic habits, etc. ensuring a swirling river of discontent upon which the multiculturalists rides. It is a perfect method of ensuring that there can never be accord, unity, or a commonly shared destiny among those ruled."

In other words: Multiculturalism is simply a tool for divide and conquer. Is there then any point in trying to comprehend its logic at all? Maybe it was just a convenient excuse used for disrupting the established order of nation states by flooding them with mass immigration under the cover of "cultural diversity" or historical inevitability. If that is the case, there never was any coherent logic behind it, so we shouldn't waste our time looking for one. Many of those promulgating it never believed a word of it themselves. Multiculturalism is the new Allah: Don't understand, just obey.

This was undertaken by a coalition of different groups with a shared goal of undermining Western nation states. I heard supporters of mass immigration a generation ago state that all this talk about how it would change our societies into the unrecognizable was scare-mongering and racism. Now, the same groups are saying that yes, our societies have been changed forever. It's good, and it's anyway too late to do anything about it, so get used to it! Their propaganda was used to deceive the public and keep it off balance in order to implement potentially irreversible changes with little real debate. They knew they would never get the permission to destroy their own countries, so they simply didn't ask.

By dismantling national borders, the EU has facilitated the largest migration waves in European history. When Poland became a member, many Poles moved to Britain, Germany etc. This left Poland with a labor shortage. They are now considering importing workers from the Ukraine and Russia to compensate for the Poles that left. At the same time, native Brits are fleeing to Spain because they don't feel at home in Britain anymore. By such moves, you unleash a chain migration that will eventually smash nation states that have existed for ages. Yet this intra-European migration pales in comparison to the immigration from developing nations. The end result will - supposedly - be an entire continent of people without any national loyalties who will be divided, disoriented and thus presumably easier to control.

Stalin did the same thing, moving large population groups around to unsettle the state and keep it disunited. The EU has learned a lot from Stalin.

It is indeed highly plausible that some groups used Multiculturalism as a cover for implementing sweeping changes that could not be openly debated, and were frequently the exact opposite of the officially stated goals. Mass immigration was presented as "enriching the local culture." In fact, it diluted it, and that was probably the point

Flushed Korans and Protected Victims

By Robert Spencer

A 23-year-old student at Pace University, Stanislav Shmulevich, was arrested Friday and charged with two felony counts of Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree as a Hate Crime. Numerous analysts have been quick to recognize the cruel irony of these charges. Mark Steyn quipped that instead of flushing the Qur'an, "obviously Mr Shmulevich should have submerged it in his own urine, applied for an NEA grant and offered it to the Whitney Biennial. But to that Michelle Malkin responded with the grim truth: "Actually, no. The NEA would have turned Shmulevich in to the police, too. Now, if he had submerged a Bible in urine or coated a Torah in cow dung and submitted it for a federal grant, he'd be sitting pretty-and facing rave New York Times editorials instead of time behind bars."

And that's why, as Christopher Hitchens said, "This has to stop, and it has to stop right now. There can be no concession to sharia in the United States. When will we see someone detained, or even cautioned, for advocating the burning of books in the name of God? If the police are honestly interested in this sort of `hate crime,' I can help them identify those who spent much of last year uttering physical threats against the republication in this country of some Danish cartoons."

Indeed, it has to stop. For all the examples of the double standard that he, Malkin and others have brought forth - from Piss Christ to Chris Ofili's Turner-Prize-winning, elephant-dung and pornography-bedecked Virgin Mary and the rest - emphasize the fact that the real agenda of today's dominant politically correct culture is certainly not tolerance, or even anything-goes moral relativism. Some things most emphatically don't go, as Stanislav Shmulevich's two felony charges indicate. As a cultural movement, political correctness and multiculturalism are emphatically anti-Western and anti-Christian. And they are also suicidal.

But it is not going to stop. As mad as the felony charges against him are, Stanislav Shmulevich most likely is not the end of anything, but rather the beginning. We are unlikely as a society to become a place in which disrespect or even hatred of Christianity comes to be regarded as just as dangerous to the social order as disrespect or hatred of Islam, and we are just as unlikely to return to a saner time when one could not be prosecuted for disliking someone else's beliefs (in which case Shmulevich would have to pay for the books, and for any necessary plumbing work, but that would be all). We have become a society of sacrosanct protected classes whose victim status places them above all criticism. Those individuals and groups who do not enjoy victim status can be shredded with impunity in the public square, and the shredders are hailed as "courageous," "iconoclastic," and "irreverent." But if the protected group is criticized in any way, we are told that the criticism creates a climate of "hostility" and "hate" that can culminate in yet more victimization.

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has worked assiduously for years to claim this protected victim status for Muslims, and its reaction to this incident has allowed them to articulate how they want Muslims in America to be regarded. CAIR-NY Civil Rights Coordinator Aliya Latif said: "We must all be concerned when any actions cross the line from protected free speech to acts designed to intimidate. Just as there is a difference between someone burning a cross in their own backyard and burning that same cross in the yard of an African-American family, there is a difference between desecrating a religious text in a private setting and doing so in a setting that will create a hostile learning environment." Muslims are the new blacks, and CAIR is the new NAACP; this statement is of a piece with CAIR's annual hate crimes report, which attempts, often in quite imaginative ways, to project an image of Muslims as bravely going about their daily lives in an American society that is inveterately hostile, racist, and on the verge of breaking out into open violence against them.

Yet this is nothing more than a myth. A potent one, to be sure, but a myth. Muslims are not being lynched, or persecuted, or discriminated against in America. Time and time again breathless media-amplified fears of "backlash" against Muslims prove unfounded, and Muslims continue to practice their faith here with more freedom than they enjoy in most of the countries from which they came. That's why Stanislav Shmulevich and his flushed Qur'ans are a windfall for American Muslim advocacy groups: he has now validated the victim status they so doggedly claim. And until the American public discourse can dare to break away from the protected-victim model and its subtext of white Christian guilt, these groups will experience many more such windfalls, whenever someone acts obnoxiously or boorishly toward any Muslim or Islamic object. The American public square today simply has no apparatus for dealing with the possibility that the protected victims might be perpetrating evil themselves. The cognitive dissonance regarding Muslims since 9/11 is ultimately what has given birth to 9/11 conspiracy theories, Reichstag fire analogies, and the like. Muslims can't be responsible, because they are non-white, non-Christian, non-Westerners. It must be something we have done.

Most ominous of all is the fact that policymakers at the highest levels assume this. Western leaders routinely assume that money will defeat terrorism: that alleviating poverty in the Islamic world will end the jihad. This assumption rests on a further assumption: that the jihad imperative doesn't arise from anything within the Islamic world that would still be present even if the West somehow began to treat Muslims better. For Muslims are victims, and Westerners are the guilty party.

That is the West's guiding myth. It is why desecration of the Bible will continue to be celebrated as art, and desecration of the Qur'an as a "hate crime." So also is an objective examination of the elements of Islam that jihadists use today to incite to violence, for that violence is all the fault of the guilty post-Christians of Europe and America. If the West is to survive the challenge of the global jihad, this foundational myth must be brought out into the open, repudiated, and decisively rejected.


The Australian far-Left still preoccupied with their old obsessions while blacks suffer

Kevin Rudd's support for the Howard intervention to combat child abuse in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities faces a major challenge from growing opposition within Labor's Left faction. The rumbling in Labor ranks came as Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough said yesterday that the health checks conducted on Aboriginal children in the past month had led to a small number of referrals to child-protection authorities.

Numerous Labor Left MPs told The Weekend Australian yesterday they could not back all elements of the legislative package and would press Mr Rudd for change when parliament resumed next week after the winter break. While Mr Rudd has backed John Howard since he launched the intervention in June, Labor critics raised concerns about two of its tenets: the temporary acquisition of title and the abolition of the permit system controlling entry to indigenous land.

Territory Labor senator Trish Crossin could not vote for the changes to the Land Rights Act. "I may not cross the floor but I won't be in the Senate chamber voting for it," she said. "I could not face my indigenous constituents again if they knew that I had voted for something I knew they were so passionate about." She said nobody was convinced that "taking the title of the land off people and compulsorily removing the permit system will actually stop the child abuse".

A Labor MP, who did not want to be named, urged the ALP to take a stand on title. "We know it's not right and we know it has nothing to do with child abuse. I'll be raising it in caucus and I know others will," he said. Another MP said Mr Rudd's caution on the issue had been initially respected. "We can support the health checks and extra police but the changes to land rights don't stack up," she said.

Their concerns follow those expressed earlier this week by shadow parliamentary secretary Warren Snowdon, who holds the Territory seat of Lingiari. Mr Snowdon had been swamped by concerns about the five-year acquisition of title and the abolition of permit, which he will raise in caucus.

Mr Rudd said on Thursday he was concerned at the time the Government was taking to draft the legislation. With the Government yet to reveal the legislative underpinning of the intervention, Mr Brough offered the Labor leadership a briefing on Monday.

The Weekend Australian understands the intervention will be dealt with in three bills with welfare reform -- the sequestration of payments for food and rent -- being dealt with separately from the land issues.

Opposition indigenous affairs spokeswoman Jenny Macklin said Labor would not declare its hand until it had seen the legislation. Pressure was exerted on Mr Rudd from the other side of the argument by Northern Territory Emergency Response Taskforce chairwoman Sue Gordon, who challenged Labor to commit to the intervention. "The federal Opposition has said they've given bipartisan support but ... here in the Territory Warren Snowdon said he is not overly keen," she said.

In response to Dr Gordon's call, Ms Macklin said federal Labor was absolutely determined to fight rampant child abuse in the communities. "We are in this for the long haul because children deserve an innocent childhood."

Labor vice-president Linda Burney, the first Aboriginal minister in the NSW parliament, was concerned child abuse was being used to "mask" a "land grab". "I personally don't see the connection between the scrapping of the permit system and changes to what is the most iconic piece of land rights legislation in the country. I don't see the connection between that and addressing child sex assault," she said.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


4 August, 2007

Blacks who kill whites most likely to be executed, study finds

OK. I will say the obvious about the report below -- a truth that even Taranto only hinted at: Many crimes committed by blacks against whites are extremely brutal (See e.g. here and here) and greater brutality is quite sufficient to explain the more severe sentencing without bringing skin colour into it. I also reproduce below Taranto's comment on the matter

In the United States, blacks convicted of killing whites are not only more likely than other killers to get a death sentencethey're also likelier to actually be executed, a new study suggests. The chances of being condemned and of being put to death are quite different, as "less than 10 percent of those given the death sentence ever get executed," said David Jacobs, coauthor of the study. Most of the others have their sentences overturned on appeal, he explained.

The new finding "suggests our justice system places greater value on white lives, even after sentences are handed down," added Jacobs, a sociologist at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. This apparently is the first study to examine whether the race of murder victims affects the probability that a convicted killer gets the ultimate punishment, Jacobs said.

The findings appear in the August issue of the research journal American Sociological Review. The study examined outcomes of 1,560 people sentenced to death in 16 states from 1973 to 2002. These 16 states were chosen because they had the complete data that the researchers needed for the study.

A black who killed a white person has twice the risk of being executed than a white person who killed a nonwhite, he said. "The fact that blacks who kill nonwhites actually are less likely to be executed than blacks who kill whites shows there is a strong racial bias here," Jacobs said. "Blacks are most likely to pay the ultimate price when their victims are white." Hispanics who killed whites were also more likely to be executed than were whites who killed nonwhites, the study found. But the risk of execution was not as strong for Hispanics who killed whites as they were for blacks who killed whites.

The study also reinforced previous findings by Jacobs that the likelihood of a legal death penalty was greater in states with higher proportions of black residents, an ideologically more conservative population, and in states where there was greater support for Republican candidates.

In the new research, Jacobs found that execution probabilities increase in states along with the population of African Americans, up to a point. But when the population of blacks reaches about 16 percent of the population, executions start to decrease. Probably at that point, AfricanAmericans have enough votes and political influence within a state to reduce the number of executions, Jacobs said.


Taranto comments:

Newsweek carries an interview with David Jacobs, a professor of sociology and political science at Ohio State University, who has conducted a new study on race and the death penalty. Jacobs tells the newsmagazine he found that "holding a whole bunch of stuff constant, including several political variables, we found that if a black person killed a white person they [sic] were more likely to get executed" than either black or white killers with nonwhite victims. In his mind, this proves "that the postsentencing capital-punishment process continues to place greater value on white lives." But the second page of the interview reveals that the study had a fundamental methodological flaw:

Q. [Did the disparities reflect] the nature of the crime? Or was it simply race?

A. We don't have much data on the nature of the crime. But Supreme Court regulations require a state to come up with aggravating and mitigating factors for capital cases. Aggravating factors might include, say, the killing of a child or torturing a victim. Mitigating factors might include the age of the offender or their childhood experience, whether they were abused, etc.

Q. So why do you think that blacks are twice as likely to get the death penalty for killing a white than a white for killing a nonwhite?

A. There are two plausible explanations. Prosecutors often win higher office if they win well-publicized cases. When a black kills a white such killings gets more publicity and we have evidence for that. Secondly--and perhaps even more plausible--appellate court justices at the state level are often subject to elections, called retention elections. That means they run unopposed without a party label. It's hard to blow an election like that. But some appellate justices in California and a few other states supposedly granted relief in too many death penalty appeals and got unelected in these retention elections.

How can one possibly draw conclusions about who gets executed and why without taking into account "the nature of the crime"? This would seem to be the most important variable, but Jacobs simply discounts it, even after conceding that "we don't have much data." Are we wrong to suspect that Jacobs's "plausible explanations" are actually preconceived notions?

Eroded English liberties

In his first statement to Parliament as Prime Minister, Gordon Brown said: "Britain is rightly proud to be the pioneer of the modern liberties of the individual." Little noticed among the cascade of pronouncements about constitutional reform, was a promise to reconsider the ban on unlicensed political protest in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster. Mr Brown implied that when it came to balancing the need for public order with the right to public dissent, this was a law too far.

A commitment to personal liberty is only to be expected from a British prime minister, and especially from a son of the manse brought up in Adam Smith's home town. Yet Mr Brown sat in a Cabinet that did more than any other in recent years to alter the balance in the relationship between the State and the individual.

If Clement Attlee is remembered for postwar welfare provision and the NHS, Harold Wilson for Sixties' optimism, Edward Heath for joining Europe, James Callaghan for the Winter of Discontent, Margaret Thatcher for reducing the size of government and John Major, however unfairly, for sleaze, then we will look back on the Blair years as marking a serial assault by the State on the civil liberties of the citizen.

The State always wants to limit the liberties of its people. But it is normally restrained by an executive that understands the limits of illiberalism or is contained by a Parliament that considers itself to be a guardian of freedoms. For a number of reasons, neither of these brakes was applied under Tony Blair's premiership. The huge Commons majority he enjoyed, the craven pusillanimity of his party, the implosion of the Conservatives and the consequent absence of opposition, other than in the Lords - and, to an extent, in the courts - conspired with a genuine, though irrational, fear of terrorism and rising street crime to let the State take greater control over the citizen than it has enjoyed before in modern peacetime.

Under Mr Blair, the State recaptured territory that it must have thought had been buried forever under a mountain of human rights laws and beneath all the freedoms that would normally make it more difficult to control the individual, such as ease of communication and of movement. But the technology that has made us feel freer has also given the State the wherewithal to keep control over us and to say that it does so for our own good.

This assault has come from many directions. Surveillance of a sophistication never dreamt of in Orwell's worst nightmares; the gradual dismantling of the judicial protections afforded to defendants in criminal cases, even to the point of questioning the presumption of innocence; the criminalisation of dozens of activities that would never previously have been considered unlawful; the limits on freedom of speech; restrictions on movement and detention without trial or even charge; and the creation of databases containing information on us all and which will track the movements of our children and theirs from cradle to grave.

As Mr Brown conceded in the Commons, freedom of expression is a basic liberty that risks being eroded, a statement that seems at odds with a world of incessant internet chatter and unrestrained blogging. Despite this, probably not since John Milton railed against restrictions on the press in the 17th century has this country been so confused about where the boundaries of free speech lie. People used to be free under the criminal law to speak their minds, provided they did not incite others to commit violence or infringe public order.

Speaker's Corner, in Hyde Park, London, came to symbolise a democratic tradition of which the country was proud and whose parameters were also understood. Rabble-rousers trying to whip up the mob have never been the beneficiaries of this latitude. Parliament Square was, rightly, off limits to rioters but a magnet for those who wanted to shout in the ear of their legislators. Now, unless permission is granted, it is not even possible to whisper criticism of the Government.

Maya Evans found this out when she stood by the Cenotaph to recite the names of Britain's Iraqi war dead. For this she was arrested, arraigned and left with a criminal record. It is hard to conceive of a police officer a generation ago taking any notice of her since she was causing no public order problem at all. But Ms Evans had fallen foul of a clause in the Serious and Organised Crime and Police Act which established a one kilometre zone around the Palace of Westminster, within whose boundaries political criticism can be voiced only on application to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Or ask Lynette Burrows about free speech. She had offered her opinion on the radio that two homosexual men should not be allowed to adopt a boy, which is a view with which you may agree or disagree, but does not warrant a call from the local constabulary. She was told that, although a crime had not been committed, it was policy to record details of such complaints, so Mrs Burrows is now, presumably, on some sinister register of people who express views that are not considered acceptable. Needless to say, she was flabbergasted to receive such a call. "This is a free country and we are entitled to express opinions on matters of public interest," she said.

But are we a free country any longer? Were we ever? It is said, though less often now than it used to be, that the basis of English liberty is the rule of law, under which everything is allowed unless specifically prohibited. According to A.V. Dicey, the 19th-century constitutionalist, this was one of the features that distinguished England from its continental counterparts, where people were subject to the exercise of arbitrary power and were actions that where not specifically authorised were proscribed. Effectively, this principle limited the scope of the State to intervene in people's lives. Law set the boundaries of personal action but did not dictate the course of such action. Some limitations on personal freedom are introduced ostensibly for our own good and some, obviously, predate the Blair Government, such as the compulsory wearing of seat belts in cars and a requirement to wear a crash helmet on a motorbike; but, since 1997, the pace of proscription has grown alarmingly, encompassing smacking to smoking.

Another aspect of liberty is privacy. It may be hard to believe in a world where people crave televised notoriety that there are still many who cherish anonymity. In a truly free society it should be possible for someone who does not wish to come to the attention of the state to remain unnoticed provided he breaks no laws. As A. J. P. Taylor observed, before the First World War the average citizen's interaction with the Government was largely limited to paying tax. "He could live where he liked and as he liked," the great historian wrote. "He had no official number or identity card. He could travel abroad or leave his country for ever without a passport or any sort of official permission."

Of one thing he could be certain and that was the inviolability of his home. But recent research has uncovered 266 separate powers under which the police and other state agents can enter your home, often using force to do so.

The proliferation of state databases, again very much a recent development, has also rendered the concept of the private individual a thing of the past, and from the earliest age. We are, almost without realising it, becoming the most snooped-on democratic nation on earth, electronically tracked from cot to coffin, our most personal details to be stored for ever, all in the name of modernisation, efficiency and, we are told, our own good. When it comes to softening up the country for an ID card, the Home Office has been prepared to play a very long game. As Peter Lilley, the former minister who led the Cabinet revolt that resulted in the abandonment of the last ID scheme, observed: "There is no policy that has been hawked, unsold, around Whitehall for longer than identity cards. It was always brought to us as a solution looking for problems."

September 11 and the threat from international terrorism was the problem it had most been looking for. The dust was duly blown from the plan the Tories had rejected and resubmitted to the Blair administration, tweaked to reflect the latest justification for its disinterment and given the added lure that played to new Labour's modernistic fetishism: biometrics. Suddenly, ID cards became a panacea and civil liberties considerations were simply brushed aside. Ministers decreed that the argument had been won "in principle". Tony Blair emphasised the personal benefit of having a national identity system, as though it were being established solely for the benefit of the citizen, and merely facilitated by the State.

Yet even to conduct this debate exclusively around the practicalities of an ID card system is to find the arguments of ministers thoroughly unconvincing. Just because biometric technology is available does not justify fingerprinting the entire population, nor does it necessarily give us a secure identity. However sophisticated the system, there will be false matches and false nonmatches, and these increase in number the larger the database. The innocent will be most inconvenienced - or even criminalised - by these inevitable glitches, accused of being someone they are not or not accepted as who they are. Crooks will simply find a way of attacking the system, and the temptation to do so will be all the greater precisely because people are being falsely led to believe that it will be foolproof.

There are people who remember carrying the old wartime ID cards, scrapped in 1952, and cannot see what all the fuss is about. It is about the database, not the card. This is not about protecting our identities but about placing them at the disposal of the state and sundry other organisations that will have access to them. We are being asked to subscribe to an identity system that is insecure and will rarely fulfil the grand ambitions that ministers claim for it. Worse than that, it is increasingly being done on the cheap because the vast cost of the enterprise is gradually sinking it.

It is this extension of state control through the unfettered and unthinking deployment of modern surveillance technology and databases for which the Blair years (and those of his successor, unless he does something dramatic to change course) will most be remembered. Our children, and theirs, will be perplexed as to why their forebears came so easily, and with so little public debate, to allow the State to manipulate their lives.


Ban on same-sex adoptions in Australia

The Federal Government says its bid to stop same-sex couples adopting from overseas is designed to give heterosexual couples in "typical family arrangements" priority over the limited number of children available. But gay rights campaigners have slammed the move, saying it shows the Government believes a child is better off in an Asian orphanage than with a loving same-sex couple. The Government plans to introduce a bill into parliament in the spring session, which begins next week, that will mean overseas adoptions by same-sex couples will not be recognised in Australia. If it becomes law, the child would not be granted a visa to enter Australia.

Rodney Croome, from the Australian Coalition for Equality, said the legislation was disappointing but not unexpected as the Government had unsuccessfully tried to introduce similar laws just before the 2004 election. "For a government to deliberately set out to stigmatise same-sex couples and their children to win a few votes in the lead up to an election is beneath contempt," he said. "The Government clearly believes children are better off in a Chinese orphanage or on the streets of Manila than in the care of a loving same-sex couple in Australia." The legislation could also harm children already in the care of same-sex couples "who are effectively being told by our government that their family is second rate and potentially dangerous".

The Family Law (Same Sex Adoption) Bill is listed for introduction in the 2007 spring sitting period. Attorney-General Philip Ruddock's office yesterday said there was no guarantee it would be debated before Parliament finishes for the year in December or before an election is called. The timing of debate would depend on the urgency of other legislation. "It does apply to overseas adoptions where there is competition for a very small number of available children," Mr Ruddock said through a spokeswoman. "The measures will ensure that priority is given to those in typical family arrangements." The change would override the states and territories, which currently have responsibility for overseeing international adoptions.

The move follows the landmark adoption in June of a boy by two Western Australian gay men who did not know the mother. WA moved in 2002 to allow same-sex couples to adopt, the ACT passed similar legislation in 2004, and Tasmanian law allows gay couples to adopt where one of the partners is a parent of the child.

Mr Howard has previously said he is against gay adoptions because children should be given the opportunity of growing up with a mother and a father. A spokesman for Labor's legal affairs spokesman, Joe Ludwig, said the Opposition would examine the bill before deciding whether or not to support it.

Mr Croome said the Government was clearly attempting to wedge the Opposition on gay rights in the lead up to the election. "We can call it orphans overboard," he said, but added that if Labor wanted to claim it was the party of equality and human rights it should oppose the bill, as it did in 2004. Greens senator Kerry Nettle said the legislation was another blow to equality by the "deeply homophobic" Federal Government. "This is a disgraceful move by the Howard Government to pander to homophobic and fundamentally religious interests in the lead up to an election," Senator Nettle said. A Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report released in June also condemned the Government's previous moves to change the law.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


3 August, 2007

Better Dead Than Rude

Political correctness began as a reasonable adjustment of manners, but as an ideology, it corrupts language and dulls thought, says John Derbyshire

Since the late 1980s, when it first came to general attention and acquired a name, PC has been part of our lives. Those of us of a conservative temperament-those, I mean, who demand of any large social change that it be weighed in the scales of liberty, order, amenity, and reason, that it be justified-have been scoffing at, grumbling about, deploring, or excoriating PC for 20 years now, yet its sillier manifestations can still make us gasp.

Item: `Stone Age' is no longer acceptable, joining the list of other words and terms deemed offensive in polite society. `Primitive' also is considered, well, primitive by some. `All anthropologists would agree that the negative use of the terms "primitive" and "Stone Age" to describe tribal peoples has serious implications for their welfare,' the British-based Association of Social Anthropologists said Tuesday. `Governments and other social groups have long used these ideas as a pretext of [sic] depriving such peoples of land and their resources.'
-Washington Times

We are all familiar with stories of this kind, laughed at around the office water cooler or retailed on TV late-show monologues. PC is now part of the landscape. We are, in fact, at a point where PC fatigue has set in. News items like this one are as likely to generate sighs of resignation as giggles. In that sense, PC has won. To those who still mind it, PC is now just another disagreeable feature of the environment, like bad weather. And of course, a great many people don't mind it at all.

The Stone Age story illustrates the most prominent fact about PC: it is mainly a linguistic phenomenon. Words and phrases that were commonplace 50 years ago are now taboo. Many ideas that were likewise commonplace may not now be put into spoken or written words. Some of those ideas were actually true so that the taboo on their expression hinders us in dealing with reality-not a problem for those noble dreamers who regard the "reality-based community" with scorn.

Many of these now forbidden words, phrases, and notions were widely considered obnoxious and insulting even in 1957 and had already been banned from polite society for decades. Others were useful and innocuous, and their outlawing seems arbitrary. I can certainly understand a Chinese person's anger at being called a chink, but why would he mind being called an Oriental or hearing-what any Chinese person of my acquaintance will freely admit-that his countrymen are unusually fond of gambling?

Along with the proscribing and replacing of familiar terms has come a whole new vocabulary employed to deal with violators of these taboos. A recurring feature of our public life is the stylized drama played out when some person of significance utters a word like "faggot" or asserts that black people make good sprinters. The little pantomime that ensues-condemnation, apology, penance, forgiveness-is dressed up in a jargon as prescribed and artificial as Oriental court ritual. The violator is guilty of "hate," "bigotry," or "prejudice." If he uttered taboo words, they were "epithets" or "slurs." He did not, in fact, utter them: he "spouted" or "spewed" them. (There is a Ph.D. thesis to be written by some student of linguistics about the fondness for "sp-" verbs in this context.) The noun "epithet" is preferentially qualified by one of a small set of adjectives now set aside for this purpose, being hardly ever used elsewhere: "vile," "abhorrent," "repugnant," "hurtful."

Language has also been overhauled in ways less emotionally charged. Nonfiction writers are pressed by their publishers to alternate "he" with "she" when speaking of unspecified individuals or even to use the preposterous "s/he." They are told to write "BCE" and "CE" in place of "BC" and "AD," to write "gender" for "sex," "human-made" for "man-made," and so on.

(On the first of those points, and by way of showing that the PC phenomenon is by no means restricted to the Anglosphere, I note the following comment by a friend recently returned from Spain: "In Spanish the ending of a word is used to define whether the subject is male or female. So while in English you can write `All of them,' in Spanish it would have to be `todos y todas.' This is too cumbersome even for PC devotees. The solution: `tod@s.' I'm not kidding." No, he's not. A Google search for "tod@s" found 1,370,000 occurrences. I have not been able to locate any definitive advice on the pronunciation of "tod@s", but then I don't yet know how to pronounce "s/he," which I spotted recently in a White House press statement. In this essay, I shall use only generic "he" on the principle declared by Winston Churchill: "The male embraces the female.")

This is all familiar. On the evidence of my own social contacts, I believe that most people born after 1970 have internalized the PC taboos and comply with them unthinkingly. Such complaints as one still hears come from the over-forties. Even they have a defeatist air. I repeat: PC has won. It is now the cant of our age....

PC is the realization of this need for a new decorum. It has intellectual roots, as any social movement must. The PC I am discussing, in fact-the PC of speech and manners-is the offspring of a powerful ideology. One might call the ideology Strong PC, with the derivative speech-and-manners aspect being Weak PC.

Strong PC, which has now attained near total dominance of our universities' humanities departments, belongs to the cast of mind-traceable back through the Critical Theory of the 1930s, via Marx, to the 19th-century German idealists and beyond-that places power at the center of human affairs, reducing all of history, sociology, psychology, even literature to a "who, whom" game in which someone is always oppressing someone else. It has close affinities with the "blank slate" theories of human nature that took over the human sciences in the middle of the 20th century.

The Strong PC ideology has found its natural home in the academy and its most prominent expression in the cult of Diversity. You can't cross a modern campus today without encountering a Museum of Tolerance, a Tunnel of Oppression, or an Office of Diversity Programs. (Washington State University has a chief diversity officer with a full-time staff of 55 and a $3 million annual budget.) College freshmen are relentlessly badgered with Strong-PC propaganda. Intensive efforts are made to instill guilt and shame in those who are white, male, heterosexual, and able-bodied.

Ordinary citizens, however, are largely indifferent to, or ignorant of, this intellectual background. To most, PC is a way of dealing more fairly with their fellow citizens, of acknowledging others' rights to as much of the glorious new freedom, prosperity, and equality of the post-World War II world as we enjoy. PC has been, for most Americans, not an ideological crusade but a reformation of manners-a necessary, and to many, a welcome one.....

The Four Horsemen of the PC Apocalypse

There are at least four areas in which the apparent internalization of PC cant has been particularly poisonous: education, immigration, law enforcement, and war.

Education. Educational practice has long been a playground for PC's "experiments against reality," with the ludicrous No Child Left Behind Act, legislating that all students must be above average, as the culmination of those experiments.

Much energy has gone into a sissifaction of the schools-an effort to get boys behaving like girls. Fighting-a normal activity among small boys-is now considered an offense so horrible as to justify suspension and psychiatric intervention. "Use your words," our sons are told, when they would rather, and would be better and healthier, using their fists. Schoolyard confrontations that would once have been taken to the gym to be decided with boxing gloves on now end with clenched-teeth apologies and grudging handshakes under the anxious eye of some senior staff member, usually female. Repeat offenses are dealt with via tranquillizing medications.

The converse thing-getting girls to be more boyish-has, where it has been attempted, mainly worked to the further disadvantage of boys, as with the ruthless application of Title IX of the 1972 education law to destroy athletic opportunities for male students.

The language of education is even more punctiliously PC than that of society at large. I have just returned from the annual field day at my son's school, the events terminating in a, yes, "tug-o'-peace." Talking to my son, I contemptuously called it a "tug-o'-mayhem, massacre, and blood-spattered death." He laughed. He liked that. He's a boy.

Immigration. PC has rendered this topic, a matter of tremendous national moment needing serious discussion, well nigh unmentionable, except within the narrow confines of a few vacuous PC-approved clich‚s: "nation of immigrants," "out of the shadows," etc. Efforts to broaden the conversation are countered with savage reprisals from the heaviest artillery pieces in the PC armory. Reductio ad Hitlerum is frequently and shamelessly deployed. The other day I heard columnist Linda Chavez on Laura Ingraham's radio show being challenged to defend her assertion that opponents of the recent Senate immigration bill "hate Mexicans." In a trice, Ms. Chavez was accusing immigration restrictionists of favoring eugenics. Eugenics!

Law enforcement. The fact, borne out by every statistical inquiry under the sun, that some racial groups are more inclined to criminality than others, is of course anathema to those who have internalized PC precepts. Any program of law enforcement that delivers disproportionate numbers of black or Hispanic perpetrators to the courts and prisons is ipso facto considered to be "racist." Such programs are strongly discouraged.

In my own county of Suffolk (New York), the police launched a campaign against unlicensed drivers. Within three weeks they arrested 50 such, with Hispanics heavily over-represented. The police commissioner, on orders from the district attorney and a local judge, thereupon suspended the program on suspicion of "racial profiling." A revised version of the program has since been permitted, but presumably, while the program was in suspense, some county residents-myself, perhaps-might have been killed or maimed in crashes with unlicensed drivers, another instance of the "better dead than rude" mentality that has long ruled our airport-security screening procedures.

War. By the turn of the century, many of us feared that PC had so emasculated our language and manners as to have rendered us incapable of any collective action against hostile nations. If you may not speak of-may not notice-the negative characteristics of other nations, cultures, sexes, or "orientations"; if the incorrigible selfishness of us white, male Americans prevents us from seeing that all men are brothers with the same motives and aspirations; if pride in Western civilization must yield to self-abasement before the moral superiority of the non-West; then why should we bother to defend our country? Would we even know how to do so by any method other than "using our words"?

I was therefore glad to see us acting vigorously against Afghanistan and Iraq, imagining that these campaigns would be in the monitory style of 19th-century British gunboat diplomacy: smash their forts, kill a few leaders, then get the Marines back on board and away. I had reckoned without PC and its lunatic spawn, "compassionate conservatism." We had, apparently, embarked on a campaign to bring to the Afghans and Iraqis the kind of consensual government they surely yearned for, all peoples being precisely equal in their collective aptitudes and desires. The results can be seen on the TV news any night of the week.

The Coming PC Crackup

PC was a response to great social changes. It has not been all bad. Some softening of manners toward other races, and toward homosexuals, was proper. So was a fairer recognition of the rights and abilities of women. We needed a new decorum. Not all systems of decorum are equal, though. The PC I have been talking about, the Weak PC of speech and manners, has a deep flaw, which probably renders the new decorum unstable. The flaw is that Strong PC, the ideology underpinning Weak PC, is premised on falsehoods about human nature.

This is, I think, quite widely understood now-much more widely than was the case 20 years ago. Consider, for example, the lawsuit recently launched by George W. Bush's attorney general against the Fire Department of New York. The suit charges that the FDNY practices racial discrimination. The evidence for this charge-the sole and only evidence-is that black and Hispanic applicants scored lower on the department's entrance exams in 1999 and 2002 than white applicants did. In the 1999 test, about 90 percent of white applicants had a passing score, but only 61.2 percent of black and 77 percent of Hispanic test takers passed. In 2002, the figures were 97.2 percent of white applicants passing, versus 85.6 percent for black applicants and 92.8 percent for Hispanic applicants, an illustration of the simple mathematical truth that you can narrow these gaps by making tests easier. In the limit, when the test is infinitely easy, all groups average 100 percent, and the gaps have vanished!

There is no allegation in the complaint as filed that the Fire Department marked the tests incorrectly. The complaint is, so far as I can understand it, that clever racists in the Fire Department-the same department that lost 343 brave firefighters on 9/11-designed the questions so skillfully that black and Hispanic applicants were bound to score lower than white applicants. We are not told how the FDNY did this or why they do not get themselves off the hook by doing it in reverse: devising questions that disproportionately baffle white test takers.

Thirty years ago, the lawsuit would have met with broad approval. Today, after decades of observing in untold numbers of different situations the intractable gaps in cognitive abilities between whites and Asians, on the one hand, and blacks and Hispanics, on the other, there can be few people who believe that any injustice has taken place. We are not yet at the point where it is permissable to scoff openly at the idea that test scores can ever be equalized across all races, but to judge from private conversations, and some published commentary on the event-Heather Mac Donald's in City Journal, for instance-we are getting close.

Other educational process are well in motion: the Iraq War, the slow disintegration of No Child Left Behind, the statistics about Hispanics that are emerging-in spite of all the efforts of the PC establishment to prevent them doing so-from the immigration debates. Behind those, like a slow-rising tsunami, are beginning to come the results of research programs in the human sciences: in neuroscience, brought by new imaging techniques; in human genetics, following the 2003 mapping of the human genome; in paleo-anthropolgy, primatology, and evolutionary biology. Aspects of our human nature that have been argued over for millennia by philosophers and ideologues will soon become matters of cold scientific fact.

You may drive Nature out with a pitchfork, said Horace, but she will come running back. So she will. I believe we can already hear the pattering sound of her feet coming up the path.

More here

Free market leads to more equal pay

Worldwide, men earn 25% more than women of similar education and experience. Theories abound as to why, exactly, this is true, but some new research suggests a way to mitigate the wage gap: More capitalism.

"More competitiveness in the economy can reduce gender inequalities in wages," conclude the authors of a new discussion paper released by the Center for Economic Policy Research, economists Martina Zweimueller and Doris Weichselbaumer of the University of Linz, and Rudolf Winter-Ebmer of the University of Linz and Austria's Institute for Advanced Studies.

The findings suggest that opening markets is a more effective way to achieve equal wages than anti-discrimination laws and affirmative action programs.

While the new paper is among the first to look internationally at the impact of open markets on the gender wage gap, it tests a theory that has been kicking around for a half century. In the 1950s, economist Gary Becker--who would go on to win a Nobel Prize--first began to examine the role of prejudice in the market place. He held that competition reduces discrimination.

Why? Suppose that a few companies refuse to hire Martians. For a time, Martians will be cheaper to hire than Earthlings throughout the marketplace. But then other company owners will take advantage of this lower-cost but just-as-skilled labor and start hiring as many Martians as they can. These non-discriminating companies will make bigger profits as a result, eventually driving the racist firms out of business. In the process, wages will also achieve parity.

Winter-Ebmer suggested another possible reason for his team's finding: Lower regulation could foster greater wage equality by encouraging entrepreneurialism. "If it's easier to start new firms, there's more competition, which may include competition from new [corporate] cultures. New firms might have a fresh view and be less inclined to discriminate."

More here

Australia: Government may appeal "stolen generation" ruling

Nonsensical verdict but VERY interesting evidence. Fostering the black guy out probably saved his life. There was no "generation" stolen but this case highlights very well the circumstances in which some black kids were fostered to white parents. White kids treated as badly would be fostered out too, one hopes

THE South Australian Government will consider whether to lodge an appeal after an Aboriginal man was awarded more than $500,000 compensation for being taken away from his family. The State Government yesterday was ordered to pay Bruce Trevorrow $525,000 for injuries, losses and false imprisonment, a first for a member of the stolen generation.

Mr Trevorrow was 13 months old in 1957 when a neighbour drove him from his Coorong family home, south-east of Adelaide, to the Children's Hospital on Christmas Day, with stomach pains. Hospital notes tended to the South Australian Supreme Court show staff recorded that the child had no parents, was neglected and malnourished.

Two weeks later, he was given under the authority of Aborigines Protection Board to a woman, who later became his foster parent, without the permission of his natural parents. He did not see his family again for 10 years.

In June 1998, Mr Trevorrow sued the SA Government for pain and suffering, claiming he had lost his cultural identity, suffered depression, became an alcoholic and had an erratic employment history after being taken as a child from his family. The court heard the 50-year-old was depressed due to a chronic insecurity and had been treated with antidepressants and tranquillisers since he was 10.

Justice Thomas Gray yesterday ruled in favour of Mr Trevorrow, saying the state falsely imprisoned him as a child and owed him a duty of care for his pain and suffering. Rick Morris, a spokesman for SA Attorney-General Michael Atkinson said the government would read the lengthy judgment and seek legal advice before making a decision on whether to appeal.


The Leftist hatred of people doing well for themselves rolls on

Comment from Australia:

"We have to do something about wealth," Melbourne broadcaster Jon Faine implored Kevin Rudd on ABC radio last week. "What do you do about people making too much money?" For starters, let's give them a round of applause, said Rudd. They must be doing something right. And then thank them for contributing to society by paying taxes that fund our buses, trains, hospitals and schools. Not to mention the many new jobs they create when their business thrives.

Actually, I'm teasing you. That was not Rudd's response. Instead, he fuelled the rich-hating myth that, just as a spot of dancing leads to sex, a booming economy leads to that eighth deadly sin: inequality. The rich get richer and the rest miss out on the spoils. In other words, this economic prosperity thing is not all it's cracked up to be. Unfortunately, those in the media, in politics and academe who feed the populist myth that prosperity is bad and inequality is a dirty word do so by ignoring reality.

As it turns out, in Australia the Howard years have brought a major redistribution of income from the rich to the rest. The average Australian household receives more in cash benefits and government services than it pays in tax. According to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, only 40 per cent of households pay any net tax. The average family pays $360 a week in tax but claws back $375 in cash benefits and government services.

So when people agonise about the wealthy and ask what is to be done about people making too much money, it turns out much is already being done. The taxes paid by the wealthy are used to fund transfers to middle and lower-income groups. Indeed, middle-income earners - those dubbed the forgotten people by Robert Menzies - have been the biggest beneficiaries under the Howard Government.

Late last year, a study by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling revealed that during the Howard decade those in the middle income bracket had benefited more than those at the top. Families earning between $55,000 and $80,000 a year and with children have seen their real incomes rise by 32 per cent, largely through family tax benefits. In other words, the rich may be getting richer, but the rest are also reaping the rewards of the nation's wealth boom. The only group not getting tax breaks and government handouts at the same rate are couples without children and single taxpayers on lower incomes.

So what explains the mythology that says your average family is being dudded? Why the complaints after 16 years of uninterrupted growth and wages rising by 25 per cent compared to a 14 per cent rise in consumer prices over the past five years? Sure, petrol prices are biting and interest rate hikes hurt. But I suspect there is more to the present malaise than the price of groceries and mortgage payments. The problem is human nature. According to studies, if you ask a worker whether they would like to earn $33,000 while their colleagues collect $30,000, or earn $35,000 while their colleagues pick up $38,000, most will opt for the lower wage, so long as they are earning more than their colleagues. In other words, affluence is relative. Arthur C. Brooks points out in the latest edition of City Journal that 56per cent of participants in another study said they would rather earn $50,000 a year when their colleagues get $25,000 than earn $100,000 where their colleagues are paid $200,000.

These surveys explain why in Australia's booming economy, where everyone is reaping the rewards, there is still a sense of being left behind. The problem is that there is always someone doing better than you. Jealously is a more powerful human trait than reason. That's why socialism and its promise of central control of society's wealth continue to have such a powerful hold on the public imagination even though it has failed everywhere it's been tried. And failed to the point of making everyone worse off.

Jealously explains why people such as Clive Hamilton still get traction. The director of the Australia Institute, who rails against capitalism, taps into our sense of unease that others are doing better than us. Working hard and earning more money than we did a decade ago will not make us happier because there will always be a Joe in the next office earning more than us. Inequality is bad, he says. So bad that he wants to convince us that it is spreading a disease called affluenza. And every disease needs a cure. Hamilton's cure, as he wrote in The Age last week, is for the rich to pay more tax and do so with a smile in order to relieve the ache in their philistine souls.

British economist Richard Layard has another solution that would please Hamilton. Slug the rich with high taxes until inequality is cured. Layard thinks the rich are making others so unhappy by earning so much more money that they need to be hit with taxes so high that they will work less and earn less and therefore apparently make everyone else feel much happier. We must all be brought down to the same level lest we earn too much and make those earning less feel unhappy. But there's a hitch. When people start to work less, earn less and pay less tax, where will governments get the money to pay for the services that we all expect and need? And where will the jobs come from as people work less and downsize their business?

Those trying to convince us that inequality is bad secretly dislike progress. Progress is born of competition and inevitably leads to inequality. People with bright ideas, or who work harder to get ahead, are more successful more quickly. Bang, there is inequality. You can just imagine the guys from the Hamilton/Layard school of economics standing around in the Stone Age muttering that no good will come of this new-fangled wheel business, it will just create a two-tiered society: those with wheels and those without.

Attacking the rich is easy politics but lousy policy. Lashing the wealthy might make envious old socialists feel nostalgic about the halcyon days of Soviet Russia and East Germany. But others, such as Rudd, ought to know better. Writing in The Spectator, Ross Clark pointed out that when Tony Blair was asked about inequality during a Newsnight interview in 2001, he responded: "It's not a burning ambition for me to make sure that David Beckham earns less money." Rudd has some way to go before he fills Blair's sensible shoes.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


2 August, 2007

EU evolving towards a soft Soviet system

It would be Fascism except for the fact that Fascism is patriotic -- and it may be patriotism that ultimately limits EU tyranny

A united Europe has long been an aspiration spanning the political spectrum. The leader of the pre-Second World War Fascists, Sir Oswald Mosley, called for "Europe a Nation," while, only slightly later, the British Independent Labor Party worked toward a "United Socialist States of Europe." Again, in 1945 Prime Minister Winston Churchill called for a "United States of Europe," though he believed that Britain should not be part of it, apparently because of its "insular" quality.

Britain, it is probably true to say, has long had a difficult relationship with the European nations, and with the idea of being a part of Europe, having thought of itself as an island protected by sea, with a "special relationship" with the U.S. When a rail tunnel was built, joining Britain and France a decade or so ago, many British people protested that the country's natural defenses had been breached.

Now, it would seem, even the many of the once-ardent supporters of a united Europe have turned Euro-skeptic. In 2005 France - which had once been one of its main promoters - defeated the European constitution, as did the Netherlands. Perhaps most surprising of all, nationalist political parties have recently made significant inroads in Euro-politics (especially since the introduction of several Eastern European countries), with several having banded together to for the European National Front. Ironically, with few exceptions these parties do not appear to be calling for "Europe a Nation," or promoting the sort of all-encompassing political and cultural hegemony that is typically associated with at least earlier far-Right parties, but rather are promoting the idea that individual nations to retain their own historical characteristics, while forming some sort of working relationship.

Notably, Nick Griffin of the British National Party (not a member of the E.N.F.) has commented in this regard, that, "Unless the nationalists of Europe cooperate, the internationalists of Europe - the Eurocrats - will destroy all our national freedoms and identities separately." Though the B.N.P. remains a party on the margins of British politics, Britain's fourth largest political party is The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which, ironically, has ten members in the European Parliament. According to its mission statement their aim is to, "expose the true nature of the EU and. campaign for British withdrawal [from it]." Although they are usually denounced as "fascists" by their opponents the B.N.P. and other far-Right political parties in Europe do not echo, then, the historically fascist aspirations for national expansion and homogenization of occupied territories. The undoubted irony of Europe's political dynamics is that the far-Right now consciously stand for the opposite, while secular Eurocrats seem intent on homogenizing the nations of Europe, even though this against the historical and cultural reality on the ground.

Europe is increasingly "a Nation" rather than a "United States," such as Churchill called for. Despite any diversity that may appear within it, a nation is one, standardized, uniform in manner, customs, monarch or prime minister, weights and measures, etc. Churchill was American on his mother's side (though his mother's family was of English descent), and he made much of his American background when he promoted himself and the cause of liberty to the people of the U.S., prior to the latter's involvement in the Second World War. Churchill understood what it was to be American, and he knew what a "United States" meant.

The U.S.A. contrasts sharply with the European Union precisely because it is so self consciously a union of states, each of which has not only a very distinct culture, but, often, distinct laws regarding the drinking of alcohol, sex, assisted suicide, etc. Some counties are "dry" because the sale of alcohol is illegal, due to long held religious sensibilities, while cities in other states, such as Las Vegas, thrive on gambling, drinking, and other sorts of nightlife. You would think that as the U.S.A. is so diverse, the European Union would embrace the historical and cultural diversity of its member nations, yet individual cultural identity has long been undermined by the legislators of Brussels, and continues to be, much to the chagrin of Europe's people.

The first opposition to the E.U.'s encroachment upon British independence came in the form of tabloid headlines proclaiming that the Eurocrats were intent on denying the status of our "prawn cocktail flavour" crisps (or what Americans call "chips"). Later, ironically, the French wanted us to refer to our chocolate as "chocolate flavour." Regulations banning the use of the term, "prawn cocktail flavour" or some such thing, seems a trivial matter to me, and a sacrifice worth making for a real United States of Europe. Yet, E.U. regulations have continued to damp down British traditions, as well as the traditions of some of its other member nations. Recently, for example, regulations pertaining to the measurements of pints of beer have threatened the use of the British crown within Britain, which has appeared on pint glasses as a marker of correct measure since the late 17th century. In response nine different breweries complained to the then prime minister, Tony Blair. There is no good reason why a real, and long-standing tradition such as this should be eradicated by the European Union. Indeed, its function should be to protect the cultures of different European countries, or at least to allow them, by law, to keep their traditions, such as we find in the U.S.

Unfortunately Europe is uniting at a point in time when tradition, religion, and national sovereignty are concepts that are anathema to its prevailing intellectual culture and the bourgeois of several of its nations - perhaps especially Britain - and this can only affect any E.U. treaty. In 2006 Liberal Democratic Euro-M.P., Baroness Sarah Ludford condemned Poland's stance on rights for homosexuals, which are exceedingly limited in comparison to other E.U. member countries, in part because of the country's Roman Catholic heritage. Regardless of the merits of her position, Baroness Ludford commented that it was not a matter of Poland's culture, clarifying a moment later, suggesting that it would not affect the nation's language, food, music, etc. That these are held up as a nation's culture, while its religion and moral foundation are designated, by implication, as `not culture' is problematic to say the least in countries where tradition is still so alive. Would we apply this absurd notion to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? Unsurprisingly, Poland seems to consider the E.U. a threat to its traditional, Christian way of life, and as attempting to impose liberal secularism upon its people. Against the trend, in 2003 Poland led a campaign to have the Judaeo-Christian roots noted in the E.U. Constitution.

If traditional, national culture has been undermined, complaints have also arisen, regarding more practical matter. Leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron has noted that Britain was influential in the wording of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), which guarantee among other things, "freedom of thought, conscience and religion; freedom of expression." Yet, these rights, Cameron has also pointed out, have been increasingly undermined under Labour. Sometimes, the erosion of basic rights has come from the government and at other times by the modern brand of Liberal-intolerance that the government's followers have created (and which certainly does not deserve the name "liberal").

In regard to freedom of thought, in 2005 the Labour government proposed the Religious Hatred Law, making it illegal to condemn, criticize, or ridicule any religion - thus effectively making free speech, or "freedom of expression" illegal. The law was voted down in its original form, though it was instituted in an amended form making it illegal to use threatening language in regard to any religion. Personally, I do not want to see religion attacked, though I do not want to find myself in a country where I risk imprisonment if I dare to condemn terrorist acts, for example, carried out in the name of a religion. Liberal intolerance has, of course, a trickle-down effect, and we are constantly affronted by an extreme though vocal minority, who promote turning freedom of speech into their own brand of politically approved form of speech under the banner of liberalism. Recently, then, we have seen people revealed as members of the B.N.P. by the press with - if it had any foresight whatsoever - the clear knowledge that they would be (and later were) attacked, with unions, demonstrators, etc., calling for them to be fired from their job, prosecuted, etc., even though they had not even promoted the party or spoken of their membership or political views - whatever they may be. (It is a clich,, I know, but the exposure of political opponents by newspapers became a part of the zeitgeist and semi-official policy of the early years of Germany's Nazi Party.)

The harassment campaign against ballerina Simone Clarke for her membership of the B.N.P. is well known. A similar situation had occurred even before this, however, when architect Peter Phillips ran for presidency of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2006, and won 60 votes, Sumita Sinha, founder of the equal opportunities campaign Architects for Change, called for him to be expelled from the organization and for those who had voted for him to be named. Calls for people to be fired because they support a legal political party, or for overturning secret ballots, are entirely undemocratic, and un-British. Place them in an earlier time, and we would call them fascist. Such tactics will also ultimately backfire. Note for example Rod Liddle's confession in the Times that he laughed at a "mildly racist joke." "I used to find racist jokes dismally unfunny," he notes, " but these days, because I'm not allowed to find them funny and might even be visited by the police for committing a hate crime if I did, they've taken on a samizdat quality." Such an editorial would not have been published if it did not speak to its readers, and it probably would not have ten years ago.

When trade minister Margaret Hodge dared to say that British families had a "legitimate sense of entitlement" over immigrants to government-provided housing she was denounced as "using the language of the BNP," which is usually code for "racist." The Left-wing Guardian newspaper may write of fears of the rise of the far-Right, but when centrist politicians (or even those on the Left, such as Hodge) and parties cannot raise the concerns of their constituents (as Hodge claims she was doing) it is quite obvious that ordinary people will eventually vote for whatever party is addressing their concerns. Indeed, it is fairly frequently remarked that Britain's main political parties, though ostensibly Left and Right, have effectively the same policies on nearly everything, and disagree usually only on minor details, so sanitized has the country's politics become.

With increasing intolerance toward political dissent, and the harassment of the dissenter, it is becoming increasingly clear that Britain needs a Constitution, like that of the U.S. Constitution, to guarantee its citizens such human rights as we once took for granted, e.g., free speech. Notably, while the government has been criticized for giving away to much power by signing the new E.U. treaty (designed to replace the defunct Constitution), it has attempted to moderate this opposition by amending the treaty before signing, and obtaining "an opt-out on a charter of human and social rights." In Britain the Magna Carta is not a historical document enshrining Habeas Corpus, it is merely history - forgotten history, at that. Law, it would seem, is something that depend very much on the whims of the day, and that is a very dangerous situation for the British.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, calls for a formal British Constitution have begun to surface. The minor political party, the English Democrats, has called for "a modern and wide-ranging Bill of Rights founded on traditional English civil liberties," for England, and Cameron has taken the initiative to charge the Conservative Party with producing a Modern British Bill of Rights, which, he has said, "needs to define the core values which give us our identity as a free nation." He goes on to say:

It should spell out the fundamental duties and responsibilities of people living in this country both as citizens and foreign nationals. And it should guide the judiciary and the Government in applying human rights law when the lack of responsibility of some individuals threatens the rights of others.

It should enshrine and protect fundamental liberties such as jury trial, equality under the law and civil rights. And it should protect the fundamental rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights in clearer and more precise terms.

Greater clarity and precision would allow those rights to be enforced more easily and effectively in circumstances where they ought to be protected but it would become harder to extend them inappropriately as under the present law. Greater clarity and precision in the law, as opposed to vague general principles, which can be interpreted in many different ways, is more in accordance with this country's legal tradition.
Of course, a Constitution is only as strong as the political will of the governing class to respect it. The Iraqi government has recently written its Constitution, as has a military-backed commission in Thailand - after the elected government was ousted in a coup nearly a year ago. It seems that every emerging nation writes one. I am always struck by the thought that this represents an ersatz political tradition, that there is in effect a "beginning again," a year zero. There is something socialist about it. Frequently they fail, either by vote or in practice, because their contents are often artificial, creating an ideal nation on paper rather than presenting a conscious of the nation's historical culture while establishing equal human rights. (Thailand has had no fewer than 17 Constitutions in the last 75 years.)

At the very root of the various nations we find the idea of its sacredness (expressed, for example, in such myths as that of Romulus, the mythical founder of Rome, in (traditional) monarchy, etc.), and the Constitution must be an affirmation of the sacred nature of both the nation or states and citizenship within it. Such a document could only be produced by those who are conscious of history, cultured (in a traditional sense) and learned - wise, even. It remains to be seen whether an authentic British Constitution can be written in the modern age by professional politicians with one eye on their career and the other on the clubs wielded by various pressure groups.


Britain's "New Labour" flushed liberty down the toilet

Chris Atkins, director of Taking Liberties, talks about freedom, fear and how the government is making us all `stand in the naughty corner'

Freedom has become a dirty word. So dirty, in fact, that there is now a brand of toilet paper called `Freedom'. Seriously. You can buy it at Tesco. It's light blue, perfumed and it has the word `Freedom' emblazoned across its packaging. What's that all about? Freedom from skidmarks? `Man's butt cheeks are born clean, but everywhere they are being stained!' You can now literally wipe your arse with `Freedom'.

When the f-word is not being used to advertise all manner of toilet products (you can also enjoy `Freedom Tampons' or liberate the whiffy bits of your home with an air freshener called `Freedom in Fragrance'), it is being bastardised to mean its precise opposite. The war on terror promises us `freedom from fear'. This actually means sacrificing free speech, free movement and universal legal principles such as Habeas Corpus, in the name of countering the threat posed by a conspiracy of dunces: that ragbag collection of overgrown, woe-is-us Islamist-adultescents who occasionally throw terror tantrums (or at least they would, if they knew how to wire a car bomb properly).

The authorities recently granted us `smokefreedom'. Graciously, and with all the tender loving care of a kindly big brother, the New Labour government made our lives `smokefree' by banning the lighting-up of cigarettes in any building or space or bus-stop or black taxi or even home that can reasonably be described as a `place of work'. (And yes, it's the lighting up that is the crime. Like Bill Clinton, you don't have to have inhaled in order to be shopped to the cops by members of the public, who are being encouraged by state propaganda to squeal on smokers by calling the `smokefree hotline'.) `Smokefree' takes Newspeak to a new level: the intrusion of the government into every corner of every pub, club and restaurant in the land - more than that, its intrusion into the decisions we make about what to ingest into our bodies - is celebrated as a new liberty, as `smokefreedom': the Right Not to Cough.

We live in an era of Doublespeak. In Britain, `freedom' is proclaimed from the rooftops, while our real freedoms to protest, speak openly and choose how we wish to live our lives are going up in smoke. Everywhere you look, the f-word is celebrated: on bogroll packaging, in air freshener ads, in speeches by politicians who manage to dress up their assaults on freedom as new freedoms. Freedom is paid lip service while simultaneously being stabbed in the back - a mixed metaphor, I know, but then this is a mixed-up state of affairs.

Now, a fightback against our illiberal rulers has been launched from a most curious corner. Brick Lane, a long road in the East End of London, is the heart of the capital's Bangladeshi community. On a balmy afternoon, waiters in crisp white shirts and black waistcoats stand outside the lane's myriad curry shops, trying to coax passers-by to pop in for a cheap and cheerful spicy late lunch. Tempting, but I head towards the Old Truman Brewery, a former beer-making factory turned `creative industries' Mecca. It's an 11-acre site that houses more than 200 small, creative businesses. Fashion designers, artists and djs rub shoulders with architects, photographers and illustrators. The courtyard is packed with Nathan Barley lookalikes: young (well, youngish) men and women wearing casualwear and black-rimmed spectacles and tucking into exotic-looking sandwiches and cups of steaming coffee.

Tucked away on the first floor of the old brewery is S2S Productions, the makers of one of this year's most talked-about British movies: Taking Liberties. The two-hour campaigning documentary on how Blair's government signed away our civil liberties - from the right to protest to freedom of speech to the principle that everyone is innocent until proven guilty - was a surprise hit last month, both critically and in terms of box-office stubs. There's also a book of the same name and the film will come out on DVD later this year (complete with two hours of extra, New Labour-baiting material). The film's director, Chris Atkins, is sitting at his desk. `Hold on a minute', he says. `I'm just sending an email to some bastard who's threatening to sue me.' I notice that, taped to his wall, there is a rifle and a pair of handcuffs, which makes me think for a minute that he is really serious about taking down our killjoy government. Alas - and please pay attention, any police officers who happen to be reading this - they're only toys. (That's right, American readers, we Brits do not have the right to bear real arms. How would we ever manage to overthrow a tyrannical regime without guns, I hear you ask? Good question. Sometimes I lay awake at night wondering the very same.)

`The loss of liberty under New Labour has been unprecedented in modern times', says Atkins, over a bowl of chips and a glass of orange juice and lemonade in a gastro-pub back in the Nathan Barley courtyard. `Labour flushed down the toilet freedoms that have existed for a very long time', he says (making me think of that `Freedom' toilet paper again).

Both the film and the book versions of Taking Liberties trace the reams of illiberal laws that were enacted by the Blair regime. You think you have free speech and the right to protest? Not any more you don't, thanks to the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act that passed through parliament in April 2005 and which criminalised protest without permission. The Act made the square kilometre around Parliament Square in London a `designated area' (`more like a fucking "exclusion zone"', says Atkins) in which authorisation for any kind of protest must be sought six days in advance.

The exclusion zone, designed to protect the Houses of Parliament from the sight and sound of uppity protesters, spreads from Westminster to Lambeth, and covers the whole of Whitehall (which is peppered with government buildings), County Hall and much of the south bank of the Thames. Anyone who conducts an unauthorised protest inside the exclusion zone risks being imprisoned for up to 51 weeks. That's nearly a year. For protesting. As Atkins says, the authorities have `excluded political protest from the most political bit of London'. The fencing off of the political centre from last-minute, quickfire, angry demonstrations represents a serious denigration of our right to assemble and speak freely.

You think you could never be detained without trial? Think again. The Prevention of Terrorism Act was updated at the end of 2005 to allow suspects to be held without charge or trial for 28 days. Yesterday our new PM Gordon Brown put to parliament the case for extending the detention-without-trial option to 56 days. (This should have been taken as hard evidence that Brown is as allergic to liberty as his predecessor was. Instead, much of the media, where for some mysterious reason there has been an outbreak of Brown-nosing, congratulated the PM for rejecting `the melodramatic rhetoric of the last prime minister' in favour of articulating `the delicate balance between security and liberty' (1). So apparently it's okay to bin our liberties, so long as you do it in measured tones rather than with fiery bombast.) As Atkins points out, Habeas Corpus, the idea that `all detention is unlawful unless it has been approved by a court', has existed since the Magna Carta of 1215. `And then Blair comes along and scribbles it out', he says. The late comedian Tony Hancock put it well: `Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?' (2)

Atkins' book and film also attack the government's constant monitoring of the population, through CCTV cameras, numerous databases and soon (perhaps) ID cards. The book has a cutting chapter on how the Blairites' `Respect Agenda' has been used to force through new rules and regulations governing our behaviour. Consider Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs), which can be used to punish and correct behaviour that is not even illegal but which someone somewhere finds annoying. Describing ASBOs as a product of New Labour's politics of `Go And Stand In The Naughty Corner', Atkins writes in the book version of Taking Liberties: `Even though New Labour has been responsible for thousands of new criminal offences, you still have to be found guilty of one of these to go to prison. ASBOs neatly get around this little niggle, by having tailor-made restrictions for each individual person.. If you are doing something that isn't against the law, but someone else doesn't like, they can go to a magistrates' court and get one of these orders that bans you acting in that way. If you break the ASBO, you go to jail.' (3)

In very plain English: you can now be imprisoned for doing something that is not against the law. This can include wearing a hooded sweatshirt in a shopping mall or making a lot of noise while you wash your dishes or gathering on street corners in groups of two or more or.hold on, this list could go on forever. To save time, yours and mine, let me state the bald truth: the ASBOs set-up means you can effectively and potentially be imprisoned for just about anything. Where's Magna Carta when we need her most?

Atkins is clearly passionate about civil liberties. He talks animatedly, in between wolfing down mouthfuls of a steak-and-salad sandwich, about how important the rights to protest and free speech are. It makes a refreshing change from listening to those sometimes dull civil libertarians who clog up the airwaves and who can't seem to get through a single sentence without bigging up Brussels as the true defender of our rights. (This is the same Brussels that scolds entire nations for voting the `wrong way' in EU referendums.) And yet. there's something peculiar about Atkins' defence of liberty, which I couldn't put my finger on at first. Then, as he tried to convince me that most Sun and Daily Mail readers do not appreciate how British and traditional liberty is, or that their hero - Winston Churchill - was apparently a great defender of liberty, it suddenly strikes me: the Taking Liberties project is actually conservative rather than radical. It uses the `politics of fear' as much as the Blairities did, and it seems to view freedom as a tradition that we must respect rather than as a thing that we do in our daily lives.

One of the most striking things about the film version of Taking Liberties is what it leaves out. It's good on the degradation of our formal rights, but it has little to say about the creeping erosion of our informal freedoms. It's good on the way in which the relationship between the state and the individual was redefined by the Blairites (with the state coming out very much on top), but it is silent on the Blairites' interference in our relationships with each other. For instance, it says nothing about the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill, a shockingly Stalinist piece of legislation which will codify the requirement for every adult who works with children to undergo a criminal records check. Built on a deep suspicion of the adult population, enforced vetting will require that 9.5million adults - from youth workers to lollipop ladies, football coaches to priests - submit themselves to the watchful eye of the suspicious state. This can only poison intergenerational trust and undermine free and easy relations between men, women and children.

Nor does Taking Liberties address New Labour's smoking bans, which take away our choice even in that traditional getaway from stuffiness, the public house. Or its ban on junk-food advertising, which usurps parental decision-making on the basis that Government Knows Best what children should eat. Or its use of the health agenda to enforce a New Conformism amongst the public, where we're advised what to eat, how much exercise to take, what to wear while having sex (condoms, please), and how to raise our children as healthy and respectful citizens in the mould of our Dear Leaders (first Blair, now Brown).

Taking Liberties seems able to conceive of freedom only in the public sphere of courts and demonstrations; it has a blind spot about freedom and choice in the private sphere. Yet libertarians, alongside defending public space from the encroachments of heavyhanded legislation, must also defend private spaces as areas where we should be free to kick back, relax, experiment and make and break our own rules. A man needs an unfettered private space in which to mould relationships and develop his personality, as well as deserving respect, equality and freedom of speech when he enters the public sphere.

At times, Taking Liberties uses a very Blairite brand of fearmongering in an attempt to wake the apparently fickle public to the dangers of New Labour's illiberalism. The film hints that we could slide back to Nazism if we don't resist New Labour's illiberal agenda, while the book berates its readers by asking if they will simply `chuckle at the jokes, feel sorry for the people whose lives have been ruined, and then go back to watching "Celebrity Face Swap"' (4). Both the film and the book seem to be saying: `Don't you know there is a long tradition of freedom in Britain? Aren't you going to help defend this tradition?' The redefinition of freedom as a stuffy tradition risks devaluing liberty, while also placing people in a subordinate relation to their own freedom. Apparently our role is merely to respect the freedoms that have been graciously handed down to us by heroes of the past (Winston Churchill!), rather than to live and breathe our freedoms every day, to act them out, to call for their expansion and improvement. People should not be seen as the passive and grateful recipients of rights from on high; they should be seen as freedom personified, as freedom itself.

Atkins says we need a `written bill of rights' in order to protect freedom from power-hungry politicians. It comes across like a demand to elevate freedom above the messy business of life, love and politics. In the past, constitutions and bills of rights tended to be written in revolutionary moments by the representatives of mass movements, and thus they expressed a genuine desire on the part of large swathes of people to live differently and more freely. By contrast, a bill of rights that was based on a fear of out-of-control politicians and a suspicion of the celebrity-obsessed public would run the risk of turning freedom into stone, ossifying it, making it a museum piece that can be admired by lawyers and professional civil libertarians but which remains beyond the reach of the smoking, drinking, junk food-eating man in the street.

Atkins has done a good job of exposing to public ridicule New Labour's assault on formal rights (and I can't help noting the irony that his civil libertarian cell emerged from the heart of the `creative industries' that were so flattered by the Blairites). But we have much further to go if we are to turn freedom from rhetoric into a reality.


ACLU sides with gangs

Fed up with deadly drive-by shootings, incessant drug dealing and graffiti, cities nationwide are trying a different tactic to combat gangs: They're suing them. Fort Worth and San Francisco are among the latest to file lawsuits against gang members, asking courts for injunctions barring them from hanging out together on street corners, in cars or anywhere else in certain areas.

The injunctions are aimed at disrupting gang activity before it can escalate. They also give police legal reasons to stop and question gang members, who often are found with drugs or weapons, authorities said. In some cases, they don't allow gang members to even talk to people passing in cars or to carry spray paint. "It is another tool," said Kevin Rousseau, a Tarrant County assistant prosecutor in Fort Worth, which recently filed its first civil injunction against a gang. "This is more of a proactive approach."

But critics say such lawsuits go too far, limiting otherwise lawful activities and unfairly targeting minority youth. "If you're barring people from talking in the streets, it's difficult to tell if they're gang members or if they're people discussing issues," said Peter Bibring, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. "And it's all the more troubling because it doesn't seem to be effective." ....

Los Angeles now has 33 permanent injunctions involving 50 gangs, and studies have shown they do reduce crime, said Jonathan Diamond, a spokesman for the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office. The injunctions prohibit gang members from associating with each other, carrying weapons, possessing drugs, committing crimes and displaying gang symbols in a safety zone - neighborhoods where suspected gang members live and are most active. Some injunctions set curfews for members and ban them from possessing alcohol in public areas - even if they're of legal drinking age.

Those who disobey the order face a misdemeanor charge and up to a year in jail. Prosecutors say the possibility of a jail stay - however short - is a strong deterrent, even for gang members who've already served hard time for other crimes....

The ACLU and other critics of gang injunctions favor community programs. The Rev. Jack Crane, pastor of Truevine Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Worth, is helping Anderson's group provide gang members with counseling, shoes and other resources needed to help them escape that life. [Yeah! that's going to be REALLY effective -- I don't think]

More here

The inverted snobbery of the long-distance traveller

"I'M NOT a tourist, I'm a traveller." I cringe every time I hear some self-righteous backpacker say these words. As if staying in some crappy concrete box that's one step up from a jail cell makes you oh-so-much-more wonderful than the person who can afford to stay at the hotel down the road.

"Oh, they just sit there in their cosy tour buses get out at the sights, take a few pictures then go back to their air-conditioned hotel." As opposed to the traveller, who crams onto the local bus, goes to the sights, takes a few pictures before returning to their concrete box or the local bar. Despite the fact that if you go on an organised tour, you quite often get to go places that someone travelling independently would never get the chance to go to because it isn't mentioned in their Lonely Planet guide.

"Travellers" look down their noses at people on organised tours, seeing them as sheep, unable to make decisions for themselves or survive overseas without someone holding their hand.

These same travellers will fall into a panic if they misplace their Lonely Planet guide. You'll often hear a traveller before you see them. They'll be the ones haggling with the downtrodden rickshaw man over an amount of money they wouldn't even bother to pick up if they saw it on the ground at home. "It's not the money, it's the principle," they'll tell you, while sucking on a fag that cost twice as much as what they were haggling over. As part of the experience, a traveller needs to dress the part. Flowing skirts, fishermen's pants - and other clothes they wouldn't be caught dead in at home - are worn until they fall apart and washed only infrequently. The locals look on, confused as to how a person can afford to stop working and travel across the world, yet not have money for laundry.

Travellers like to think that, unlike tourists, they are experiencing the real "insert place name here". More often than not, however, you'll find them in a bar, chatting to other "travellers" about how wonderful it is to "travel" and pity the poor fools who don't do it. They'll feel authentic eating from street stalls, rather than a restaurant "because that's where the locals eat". Yeah, the locals and hundreds of other travellers.

They look down their noses at mass-produced souvenirs, preferring something more "authentic", which is just as mass-produced, it's just they bought it from a stall around the corner from the main tourist drag. There isn't anything wrong with roughing it while you travel, just stop thinking that your el-cheapo room and bowl of noodles makes you superior to everyone else. You're holidaying in a foreign country. You're a tourist. Get over it.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


1 August, 2007


Excerpt from Steven Pinker

Every era has its dangerous ideas. For millennia, the monotheistic religions have persecuted countless heresies, together with nuisances from science such as geocentrism, biblical archeology, and the theory of evolution. We can be thankful that the punishments have changed from torture and mutilation to the canceling of grants and the writing of vituperative reviews. But intellectual intimidation, whether by sword or by pen, inevitably shapes the ideas that are taken seriously in a given era, and the rear-view mirror of history presents us with a warning.

Time and again, people have invested factual claims with ethical implications that today look ludicrous. The fear that the structure of our solar system has grave moral consequences is a venerable example, and the foisting of "intelligent design" on biology students is a contemporary one. These travesties should lead us to ask whether the contemporary intellectual mainstream might be entertaining similar moral delusions. Are we enraged by our own infidels and heretics whom history may some day vindicate?

Dangerous ideas are likely to confront us at an increasing rate and we are ill equipped to deal with them. When done right, science (together with other truth-seeking institutions, such as history and journalism) characterizes the world as it is, without regard to whose feelings get hurt. Science in particular has always been a source of heresy, and today the galloping advances in touchy areas like genetics, evolution and the environment sciences are bound to throw unsettling possibilities at us. Moreover, the rise of globalization and the Internet are allowing heretics to find one another and work around the barriers of traditional media and academic journals. I also suspect that a change in generational sensibilities will hasten the process. The term "political correctness" captures the 1960s conception of moral rectitude that we baby boomers brought with us as we took over academia, journalism and government. In my experience, today's students -- black and white, male and female -- are bewildered by the idea, common among their parents, that certain scientific opinions are immoral or certain questions too hot to handle.

What makes an idea "dangerous"? One factor is an imaginable train of events in which acceptance of the idea could lead to an outcome recognized as harmful. In religious societies, the fear is that if people ever stopped believing in the literal truth of the Bible they would also stop believing in the authority of its moral commandments. That is, if today people dismiss the part about God creating the Earth in six days, tomorrow they'll dismiss the part about "Thou shalt not kill." In progressive circles, the fear is that if people ever were to acknowledge any differences between races, sexes or individuals, they would feel justified in discrimination or oppression. Other dangerous ideas set off fears that people will neglect or abuse their children, become indifferent to the environment, devalue human life, accept violence and prematurely resign themselves to social problems that could be solved with sufficient commitment and optimism.

All these outcomes, needless to say, would be deplorable. But none of them actually follows from the supposedly dangerous idea. Even if it turns out, for instance, that groups of people are different in their averages, the overlap is certainly so great that it would be irrational and unfair to discriminate against individuals on that basis. Likewise, even if it turns out that parents don't have the power to shape their children's personalities, it would be wrong on grounds of simple human decency to abuse or neglect one's children. And if currently popular ideas about how to improve the environment are shown to be ineffective, it only highlights the need to know what would be effective....

Should we treat some ideas as dangerous? Let's exclude outright lies, deceptive propaganda, incendiary conspiracy theories from malevolent crackpots and technological recipes for wanton destruction. Consider only ideas about the truth of empirical claims or the effectiveness of policies that, if they turned out to be true, would require a significant rethinking of our moral sensibilities. And consider ideas that, if they turn out to be false, could lead to harm if people believed them to be true. In either case, we don't know whether they are true or false a priori, so only by examining and debating them can we find out. Finally, let's assume that we're not talking about burning people at the stake or cutting out their tongues but about discouraging their research and giving their ideas as little publicity as possible. There is a good case for exploring all ideas relevant to our current concerns, no matter where they lead. The idea that ideas should be discouraged a priori is inherently self-refuting. Indeed, it is the ultimate arrogance, as it assumes that one can be so certain about the goodness and truth of one's own ideas that one is entitled to discourage other people's opinions from even being examined.

Also, it's hard to imagine any aspect of public life where ignorance or delusion is better than an awareness of the truth, even an unpleasant one. Only children and madmen engage in "magical thinking," the fallacy that good things can come true by believing in them or bad things will disappear by ignoring them or wishing them away. Rational adults want to know the truth, because any action based on false premises will not have the effects they desire. Worse, logicians tell us that a system of ideas containing a contradiction can be used to deduce any statement whatsoever, no matter how absurd. Since ideas are connected to other ideas, sometimes in circuitous and unpredictable ways, choosing to believe something that may not be true, or even maintaining walls of ignorance around some topic, can corrupt all of intellectual life, proliferating error far and wide. In our everyday lives, would we want to be lied to, or kept in the dark by paternalistic "protectors," when it comes to our health or finances or even the weather? In public life, imagine someone saying that we should not do research into global warming or energy shortages because if it found that they were serious the consequences for the economy would be extremely unpleasant. Today's leaders who tacitly take this position are rightly condemned by intellectually responsible people. But why should other unpleasant ideas be treated differently?

There is another argument against treating ideas as dangerous. Many of our moral and political policies are designed to preempt what we know to be the worst features of human nature. The checks and balances in a democracy, for instance, were invented in explicit recognition of the fact that human leaders will always be tempted to arrogate power to themselves. Likewise, our sensitivity to racism comes from an awareness that groups of humans, left to their own devices, are apt to discriminate and oppress other groups, often in ugly ways. History also tells us that a desire to enforce dogma and suppress heretics is a recurring human weakness, one that has led to recurring waves of gruesome oppression and violence. A recognition that there is a bit of Torquemada in everyone should make us wary of any attempt to enforce a consensus or demonize those who challenge it.....

Though I am more sympathetic to the argument that important ideas be aired than to the argument that they should sometimes be suppressed, I think it is a debate we need to have. Whether we like it or not, science has a habit of turning up discomfiting thoughts, and the Internet has a habit of blowing their cover.

Tragically, there are few signs that the debates will happen in the place where we might most expect it: academia. Though academics owe the extraordinary perquisite of tenure to the ideal of encouraging free inquiry and the evaluation of unpopular ideas, all too often academics are the first to try to quash them. The most famous recent example is the outburst of fury and disinformation that resulted when Harvard president Lawrence Summers gave a measured analysis of the multiple causes of women's underrepresentation in science and math departments in elite universities and tentatively broached the possibility that discrimination and hidden barriers were not the only cause.

But intolerance of unpopular ideas among academics is an old story. Books like Morton Hunt's The New Know-Nothings and Alan Kors and Harvey Silverglate's The Shadow University have depressingly shown that universities cannot be counted on to defend the rights of their own heretics and that it's often the court system or the press that has to drag them into policies of tolerance. In government, the intolerance is even more frightening, because the ideas considered there are not just matters of intellectual sport but have immediate and sweeping consequences. Chris Mooney, in The Republican War on Science, joins Hunt in showing how corrupt and demagogic legislators are increasingly stifling research findings they find inconvenient to their interests.

Totalitarian Measurement

Maybe I'm an old codger but I still cannnot take to metric after over 30 years of it being compulsory in Australia. I have to convert everything into feet and inches to make sure I know what I am talking about. It's a disaster if you misplace a decimal in the metric system but that does not arise in the Imperial system. Post below by Kim du Toit

Over the years, my hostility towards the metric system has been questioned-most notably, it seems, by engineers-and it's probably time I spoke about the topic more fully. Take a look at this article:

The size 14 dress could be consigned to history if a European Union quango gets its way. Traditional British clothes sizing, which ranks women from size 4 to size 32, should be replaced by a more flexible approach in which dresses and blouses are labelled according to their actual measurements, it argues. That would mean trousers would be sold by their waist measurement, and dresses by their bust and hip measurements.
On the face of it, that seems quite reasonable. Certainly, it would do away with the fog of confusion which currently bedevils women's clothing sizes-where the size 10 of yesteryear has become the size 8 of today, and in so doing, forces women to try on clothing, regardless of labeled size, to make sure that it actually fits. But here's where this Euro-initiative gets rather murky:

The proposals, which are voluntary, are being drawn up by the European Committee for Standardisation and are part of a wider plan to force countries across Europe to adopt standard metric methods of labelling products.
As The Englishman pointedly notes: "Isn't it strange how the words `European Committee' [and] `voluntary proposals' always seem to slip into `force' and `metric'." Indeed, it's the coercive nature of metric supporters which raises my ire, as much as the measurement system's rather obvious shortcomings-more of which later on.

I am constantly astounded by the fact that metric supporters feel obliged to make use of their system compulsory, and exclusive. It's all very well to argue that base 10 is more logical a system of measurement (well, except when you want to divide, say, by three or six), but that's not really the point because all measurement systems struggle with anomalies like that. What really gets my goat about the metric system is that someone decided that the basic unit of measurement is x, and at that point, all others rest on that premise and must comply. For those who aren't familiar with the metric system, a meter (actually, metre) is defined thus:

From 1889 to 1960, the metre was defined to be the distance between two scratches in a platinum-iridium bar kept in the vault beside the Standard Kilogram at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures near Paris.

This replaced an earlier definition as 10^-7 times the distance between the North Pole and the Equator along a meridian through Paris; unfortunately, this had been based on an inexact value of the circumference of the Earth.

From 1960 to 1984 it was defined to be 1650763.73 wavelengths of the orange-red line of krypton-86 propagating in a vacuum.

It is now defined as the length of the path traveled by light in a vacuum in the time interval of 1/299,792,458 of a second.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, the metre's length (and therefore the length of all its children: centimetre, millimetre etc) had to be changed three times-which means that a tool made in 1938 will not fit a part made in 1986. Most important of all, however, is the fact that the measurement has been defined in terms with which the average human being has no relationship, and no familiarity either.

Such is not the case with the old-fashioned Imperial system, which from the start was based upon a definition likewise arbitrary (according to legend, the length of King Edward I's foot, and the length of his stride), but which had at least a marginal basis in the everyday, and which could therefore be imagined. Put your foot on the ground, and the distance from heel to toe is more or less a foot. (Edward I, aka. "Longshanks" because of his towering height, had very long feet-longer than the average person's foot, even today.)

The "more or less" distinction is critical, because outside the engineering discipline, the average person has little need for hyper-accuracy. "Add a pinch of salt" works extraordinarily well for cooks, but not for engineers. Precision is needed to build bridges (not as much as you'd think, incidentally-ask the Romans, many of whose bridges still stand today), but precision isn't necessary to gauge whether a couch will fit in a room. Just step heel-to-toe along a line, and you'll get a good idea. In the absense of a ruler or other measuring device, it makes perfect sense to use body parts to gauge distance, because we all have body parts, hence the expression "rule of thumb" (another legendary measurement concept, meaning one which will serve the purpose most of the time, with an acceptable degree of accuracy). The fact that Imperial measurement's origins are often legendary also drives the Precision Junkies wild. From Webster's 1913 Dictionary, the inch is defined thus:

A measure of length, the twelfth part of a foot, commonly subdivided into halves, quarters, eights, sixteenths, etc., as among mechanics. It was also formerly divided into twelve parts, called lines, and originally into three parts, called barleycorns, its length supposed to have been determined from three grains of barley placed end to end lengthwise.
In days of yore, everyone know how long a barleycorn was, because we were an agrarian society. To put this into gunnies' parlance, the old Russian method of using arshins to graduate a rifle's sights makes perfect sense, in that an arshin is roughly the length of a human step (ditto the Austrian schritt, which is the same definition, albeit of a different length). Converting the sights to metres can be problematic because a metre, which is not an intuitive measurement, makes little sense to the average human being until you say that a metre is slightly (3.37") longer than a yard, which everyone can gauge without a mechanical measurement device.

Of course, because we humans prefer order to chaos, we'd like to think that therefore the metric system, which is at least consistent (except for that three-time change of the metre's length thing), would be preferable. But that preference for order over chaos is also dictated by the counterbalancing preference for freedom over order-in other words, order is fine, right up until freedom, in fact or in perception, is severely circumscribed.

And this, in reality, is why the metric system is embraced in Europe-where the people are more comfortable with social order, even at the expense of personal freedom-whereas in untidy, freedom-loving America, the old Imperial system is still king. Indeed, the efforts of ur-European sympathizers, bureaucrats and government to implement the metric system in the United States, have met with resounding, and consistent failure except in the sciences and engineering disciplines (because scientists and engineers always have measuring tools near at hand, and are used to working in abstract concepts anyway). Also note that the loudest proponents of the metric system (outside the science- and engineering fields) tend to be people who tend to favor statism. Let me illustrate the point with something from one of my previous lives.

When I worked for a Great Big Research Company in South Africa, we measured and reported on the flow of consumer goods through supermarkets. Auditors visited the stores every so often, took stock, and reported apparent sales back to head office.

Those stocks and sales were reported in units, eg. Coke 6-packs, Kleenex 12-pack toilet tissue, Colgate Shampoo 250ml, and so on. My job was to convert those units into measures defined by our clients: gallons, cases, client-defined measures (eg. something called "equivalent consumption units"-the amount of soup it took to feed one meal to a family of four), "shift quantities" (the amount of product produced by a single factory shift), and so on. Almost every single product category had a "family" of conversion factors, all applied to the same input data, and all fed out to the clients in the measurement units they specified. Some clients even had the data reported to them in several versions: Marketing might want to see actual consumer purchase decisions, Sales might want to see cases, Production might want to see gallons or litres, etc.

It would have been far more efficient simply for us to use one measurement system-efficient for us, that is-and we could simply have mandated that all clients accept the data as reported, and forced them to perform their own conversion factors in-house. But we didn't, because that's not how capitalism works. Yes, sometimes capitalism is inefficient-but it's inefficient because of the choice which savvy marketers offer to their customers.

And, if I may explain the concept simply (for the benefit of those who are from Santa Monica or France and can't understand how it applies to us): when it comes to a governed society, We The People are the customers, and government is the supplier of services. To put it even more bluntly, government exists to serve us-we do not exist to make government's life easier-and that goes for everything, including weights and measures.

Sure, in closed systems it makes sense to use a single method of measurement: the Armed Forces are metric (for reasons which escape me, unless it was a concession to NATO), and engineer-saturated institutions like NASA ditto (although I note with glee that in their Press releases, NASA uses Imperial units to describe distances-"x thousand miles", rather than "-kilomoters", even though internally, they use metric units). But when it comes to the public, we have made it plain, in no uncertain terms, that We The People prefer user-friendly measurements over abstract ones.

What's interesting is that in our free society, the metric and Imperial systems manage to coexist. On Coke cans, for example, the volumetric contents are generally given in both constructs-355ml and 12 fluid oz-and everyone seems to be fine with that. Yes, it's a little inefficient: why do something twice instead of just once?

Well, that's the whole point. Freedom itself is an untidy, sometimes inefficient system. But freedom (and its sidekick, choice) is the way we've decided to exist in this country. More to the point is the fact that we have made the declarative statement that government and bureaucracy exist for our benefit-not the other way round. So if government and the bureaucracy has to deal with two different ways of measuring the same thing, that's just too bad.

We The People might not know how to define 237cc of liquid-but we damn sure know how much a cup holds, because we drink our coffee out of one every single day of our lives. Put simply, therefore: Imperial measurements are user-friendly, and the metric system isn't. The way I see it, users are more important than bureaucrats and their desire for order, most of the time, and we prefer it that way. Put even more simply: I prefer freedom over precision. So screw the unfriendly metric system, screw the metric coercionists, and screw the totalitarian horse they all rode in on. And now, it's time for my lunchtime 568.25ml (Imperial).


No time to lose our nerve

Australian columnist Janet Albrechtsen comments on the Dr Haneef detention

For all the bungling in the prosecution of Mohamed Haneef, one thing is clear. We had better get used to the detention of people with alleged links to terrorism. Our anti-terrorism laws are essential and they are working. The detention of the Indian doctor was right. His links with alleged terror suspects in Britain needed to be thoroughly investigated. That involved a serious, but necessary, incursion on Mr Haneef's civil liberties as the Australian Federal Police undertook the difficult task of checking the equivalent of 30,000 pages of material on his laptop.

We will have to accept further incursions in the future. More people will be detained. Some will be freed without charge. Some will be charged, then acquitted. While the AFP and prosecuting authorities have to lift their game, the mistakes made in Mr Haneef's case are irrelevant to the wider debate about terrorism laws. Nobody thought the laws on murder needed to be changed when Lindy Chamberlain was a charged but ultimately acquitted.

Nor do we want politicians, the police or prosecutors to lose their nerve about taking action for fear of getting it wrong or out of fear of criticism. Mistakes, and criticism of those mistakes will be made and will lead to improvements in practice. Indeed, we may have to accept longer detentions in the future if we are serious about confronting and beating the scourge of terrorism. That is the lesson from Britain where there have been 15 attempted terrorist attacks since 11 September 2001. As reported in The Guardian last week, six suspects have been detained for 28 days under UK laws. Two were charged in connection with the alleged plot to blow up planes across the Atlantic. Another was charged with attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. The other three were released without charge.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is considering the need to strengthen British terrorism laws by increasing detention to 58 days so that authorities have sufficient time to sift through evidence. That will lead to more hysteria from civil libertarians that democracy is doomed, that we have allowed terrorists to destroy our system of justice. But when jihadists are willing to blow up trains and buses and planes filled with scores of innocent people, such claims ring hollow. Protecting our right to catch a bus or a train or a plane without being blown up means impinging on the rights of those suspected of having links with terrorism. Some of those suspects will be innocent. But isn't it better that we detain them and investigate the evidence instead of sifting through the twisted metal of blown up trains and human remains after a terrorist attack if they turn out to be guilty?


Church says Australians are a mad lot -- so crazies should be trusted (??)

I rather suspect that the trendy Methodists who claim that are not too hot themselves. See the rubric below

Mental illness touches the lives of almost every Australian, according to a report that reveals the condition affects 85 per cent of the population either directly or through the suffering of a friend or relative. The major new report by Christian charity the Wesley Mission also suggests more people than previously thought - up to 36 per cent of the community - may also have direct experience of a mental health problem. Previous estimates had put the figure at 20 per cent.

Despite the higher prevalence, significant stigma continues to dog people with more serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia. The report released yesterday made 21 recommendations for improving understanding of mental illness and the lot of people experiencing mental problems. "Mental illness remains a taboo subject for many people, although it touches the lives of most Australians," said Wesley Mission superintendent Keith Garner. "Despite much public discussion and the advocacy of high-profile figures sharing their personal experiences ... there is still a clear reluctance in the community to trust individuals with a mental illness in decision-making roles or in roles where reliability is paramount." [That's a BAD thing??]

For the report, the result of a six-month research project, the authors surveyed 600 people in Sydney and Newcastle to find out more about public attitudes to mental illness. They found that only 46 per cent of people questioned would trust work done by someone with schizophrenia. Only 55 per cent would feel comfortable working alongside someone with the condition and only 23 per cent said they would feel comfortable if their child was sharing a flat with a schizophrenic patient. This is despite 77 per cent agreeing patients with schizophrenia would improve if treated. Attitudes towards people with anxiety disorders were far more benign: 81 per cent were happy to work alongside them and 67 per cent had confidence in the work they produced.

The report's recommendations included the introduction of tax and other incentives to encourage employers to take on people with mental problems, better integration of treatment services and more support for carers.

Ian Hickie, executive director of the Brain and Mind Research Centre in Sydney, who wrote a foreword to the report and attended yesterday's launch, said it was significant that there was continued public fear of people with conditions such as schizophrenia, which reflected the difficulty such patients had in getting adequate treatment.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.