The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

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31 July, 2007

Good reason for American pride

By Greg Reeson, a Major in the United States Army who has served two tours of duty in Iraq

Historian Howard Zinn, writing recently in The Progressive, said that this past Independence Day, Americans

"...would have done well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed."

His column was an argument against the basic idea that we should consider ourselves Americans, and instead advocated an "allegiance to the human race," as if the two were somehow incompatible.

He described our soldiers in Iraq as "victims...of our government's lies" and claimed that Americans suffer from "a loss of a sense of proportion." To support this claim, he said nationalist thinking had led us to such actions as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in response to Pearl Harbor, and the killing of tens of thousands in the Global War on Terror in response to the deaths of 3,000 Americans in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a clear indication of our "loss of a sense of proportion." The implication, of course, is that we should have been much more restrained after being attacked by a ruthless enemy, in 1941 and again in 2001.

With all due respect to Prof. Zinn's opinion, I must disagree. I take great pride not in the fact that I am a soldier, but in the fact that I am an American soldier. I am as capable at helping others as I am at hurting them, and I take far more pleasure in the former than I do in the latter. I am immensely proud and humbled to have the honor of representing my nation, as a member of the armed forces, in bringing relief to those who need it, and justice to those who deserve it.

I, and I believe most Americans, love all the symbols of our greatness: our flag, our anthem, our history, and our culture. I have sworn my life to defending the principles upon which this country was founded, and I do believe with all my heart that our nation is special and unique.

I teach my children to respect our flag and our country, and to be thankful for the blessings we enjoy. I get choked up at the playing of "The Star Spangled Banner" and at the passing of Old Glory, and I and my children stand and give proper honors when either occurs. That may make me a nationalist in Mr. Zinn's eyes, but it doesn't make me any less a member of the human race.

And what about that greatest symbol of America, our national colors, that Prof. Zinn would have us put away? Our flag stands for what this nation is: a beacon of hope to the rest of the world, a place where freedom and prosperity are available to all who come here peaceably and are willing to work for it. It represents the values and beliefs that our soldiers are dying for, because they know America is worth preserving. It represents that magical place where people from around the world still long to be, and it stands for justice and equality, the inherent human rights that are sadly lacking in many places around the world.

Do we sometimes make mistakes in dealing with other nations? Yes, of course, but this nation represents a land where good triumphs more often than not, and that is why the rest of the world continues to look to us for guidance and hope. And it is why our enemies seek to destroy us and everything that we represent.

I have been around the world and seen the joy in people's eyes when American help has arrived, and I have felt pride and thankfulness for being part of such a wonderful nation, knowing that few other countries could provide the hope and promise that we do. And I have seen the utter fear in those who know that we have come to right the wrongs on behalf of those who cannot fight for themselves against tyranny and oppression. A former commanding officer of mine summed it up beautifully when he said, "When we deploy our forces, one of two things happens: people either say `Thank God, they're coming, or they say, `Oh shit, they're coming.'" Both speak to the greatness of this nation.

The flag, and all our symbols of national pride, mean something because they represent all that is good and right about America, and all that can be good and right in the world. They serve as an inspiration and source of pride not only to most Americans, but also to everyone who wants to be an American or wants their nation to be more like ours.

No, the time has not come to renounce nationalism and symbols of national pride. Instead, now, more than ever, it is time to stand up and be counted. Because now is a time of great peril for our nation, when radical enemies seek to destroy everything we stand for and everything we believe in. And it will take proud Americans, and not proud humans, to ensure that our country and our way of life continue, for us, and for the rest of the world.


Refusing To Evolve: The Leftist Creed

Post lifted from SCA. See the original for links

Why isn't there a single example of a successful `People's Paradise'? How is it that the best of intentioned revolutionaries was never able to produce a functional society? Why is it that societies that espouse economic equality and predicated on well meaning ideals, either secular or religious, have proved to be abject failures?

Leftists mistakenly believe that a collective `unity' of beliefs, thoughts and ideologies empower a society. Their strength, they believe, are in the numbers of those who share their ideologies. Leftists also believe that they have every right to design a society based on what they believe is in the best interest of that society. They also believe that an unwillingness to conform to their ideals, poses a threat, and quite possibly, a danger to the society of their creation.

Capitalism, as Dr Sanity points out, is predicated on the diversity of beliefs, thoughts and ideologies. For example, the Leftists state takes a dim view of anyone or group that might demand lower taxes, changes in the state welfare benefits, or demands any kind of accountability, because less of burden on the individual and less control of the individual by the state, might empower that individual. In the Leftist state, any kind of individualism and real self expression, empowered or otherwise, represents a threat to the state.

Last year, millions of Frenchmen turned out to protest an employers right to fire them from their jobs- even if their job performance was sub par. They demanded that the French government protect them from being held accountable to their employers. There are business owners in France that are afraid to initiate the complex procedures for firing employees, out the fear of retribution and violence.

Despite the leftist of stated disdain for capitalism and materialism, we have noted that: For today's leftist, it is about `the color of one's skin' and not the `content of character. It is about image and not substance. The deliberate obfuscation continues and the blurring of reality continues. As the left indicts America as self absorbed and drunk with materialistic inclinations, they ignore yet another truth: The most self absorbed and materialistic regimes are the leaders of the most tyrannical regimes in Africa and the Arab world, where greed, corruption, excess and deceit are the defining adjectives of those regimes. Those levels of greed, excess, corruption and self serving attitudes rival the most fanatical religious extremists in their tenacious expressions by citizens of all strata in those countries- and these are the leaders the left reveres.

Of course, progressives naturally see themselves as forward thinking. They believe their way of viewing the world is an improvement over the `old way'- hard work for greater personal gain, for example.

(it is interesting to note how `progressives' have aligned themselves with Hollywood- the most narcissistic and self centered group of people on the planet. They are also among the most removed from the real world, believing themselves to be a kind of aristocracy, entitled to material things others would have to pay for. There is much truth to the old saying. `You are known by the company you keep.' The `progressives' have made clear their attachment to the phony aristocracy of Hollywood trumps the relationship they might have with the rest of us, `the little people.')

The only agenda the left have refused to endorse is the only agenda that has succeeded and the one agenda that is gaining ground, worldwide- capitalism. The real revolutions today are not for socialism, but rather, for political and economic freedoms. `People's Revolutions' today aren't about failed Marxist or socialist agendas. Leftist revolutionaries cannot hide the truth any longer. Today's revolutions are about power and the exercise and abuse of power in any way they see fit.

Of course, the `progressives' cannot and will not acknowledge the truth that the greatest philosophers and thinkers were free to think and present their cases to the population. It is the progressives, that want to present their own versions of history, religion and ideologies, without having to explain or defend themselves. Disagree with them and the wrath of the State will come down on you.

It is clear that many `progressives' are actually regressive. The `my way or the highway' kind of thinking is devolutionary, as if any and all disagreements are always invalid. The vitriol and visceral hatred of the current administration is a good example. No difference of opinion will be tolerated. Disagree and the well oiled machine of personal destruction comes out. The shameful display of that truth was evident during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

Tens, if not hundreds of millions have died because of leftist `my way or the highway' ideologies. Disagree with the powers that be or want to be, and there are calls of, `Death to.! Disagree loud enough and you are marked for death. We all got a taste of that as the cartoon riots unfolded. That was a clear case of `my way or the highway' unleashed on democratic societies. `My way or the highway' is a nothing more than a regression to a more barbaric time, when disputes, disagreements and different ideas were settled only when blood was spilled. That was an earlier incarnation of `my way or the highway.'

What leftists desperately want you to forget is that we are morally obligated not to get along with those whose ideas are and beliefs espouse violence, hate and evil. We are morally obligated not to give them a platform to preach their hate and we are morally obligated not to equate their values with our own. While we cannot stop anyone from believing what they will, we are morally obligated to deny them credibility.

(It is astonishing to note that while most people would agree that Adolph Hitler would never have been allowed a platform to preach his hate here, there are still those who believe that Josef Stalin, the man responsible for one hundred million deaths, would have rightfully been a allowed a platform.)

Mankind evolved and political expression advanced when societies came to tolerate those with different ideas and beliefs. We advanced because we allowed each of us the freedom the opportunity to achieve whatever it was we were capable of in any endeavor we chose. No one told us what to do, what to think or what to invent. In free societies, possibilities were open to all, irrespective of their political persuasion.

The Soviets produced engineers by the millions. They built the world's largest hotel, the Rossiya, in Moscow, meant to be showcase of Soviet superiority. When you get up close and inside, it is hard to miss the walls that are crooked and floors that are uneven. It is true the Russians led early on in the space race. It is also true that many hundreds of thousands, if not millons, died over the years because money that was spent on the space race was diverted from providing food to Soviet citizens. That malaise infected Communist eastern Europe. Once a net exporter of grain, Poland reached a point where she could barely feed herself. To put that in perspective, at one time Poland grew more grain than France or Canada.

The Judeo-Christian ethic is just that- an ethic, an ideology that was to serve as the basis and foundation upon which a free nation might be built. The Judeo-Christian ethic is not an endorsement of religion- it is an endorsement of ideas, not the least of which is the validity and importance of freedom. The Judeo-Christian ethic has been the blueprint, revised over time, that has come to be a definition of freedom. The ideas contained in those ethics have come to define the boundaries of our freedom and our obligations to out society. We have been blessed with freedom and democracy as a way of life.

It is also true that free societies not only exist, but they prosper and progress as well. If there were no free societies and democracies, our world would look exactly like much of the Arab world today- failed states torn apart by internal strife and political mayhem, with hundreds of millions of people languishing in a netherworld, where their only purpose is to serve the needs and whims of a regime that cares nothing for them and attaches no value to their life.

For the most part, progressives do not want to acknowledge that there is not a single example of a regime they have endorsed that has not resorted to murder, oppression and repression. There are some regimes are authoritarian, caring only about controlling behavior. There are other regimes are totalitarian, seeking to control not only behavior, but thought as well. The only regime ever supported by the left (only to be later abandoned) that made a success of itself was Israel.

Real freedom represents the highest political and ethical expression and aspirations of the human condition.

After witnessing the spectacular and bloody imposition and failures of ideologies embraced by leftists, one can only conclude that those ideologies have proved to be a monumental failure on the scale of political evolution. Leftist ideologies cannot be made to adapt to the real world environment that places freedom atop the evolutionary that scale, because leftist ideologies refuses to adapt and acknowledge that people are best served when free to choose for themselves.

Leftists have failed to adapt and evolve to the reality that accelerating freedom is the destiny of mankind. We are meant to be free choose, free to believe, and free to express themselves in any way they see fit, free of interference. That is the equivalent of debating the merits of the wheel.

Britain's Orwellian vision of government housing

Allocated a silver-level needs certificate, Linda is unlikely to get into the most popular development.but after a year's acceptable behaviour she will be given a secure tenancy certificate. This, however, is a floating security given the owners will be able to insist she moves into one of their smaller premises if her needs change. Next door to Linda is one of six extra care homes.they include video monitoring and biosensors to allow 24-hour video supervision from the district health centre.'

Speaking is Jon Rouse, outgoing head of the UK Housing Corporation, which controls all social housing in the UK (1). The slide that accompanied Rouse's recent speech represented the family of four - Linda, Tom, Dick and Harry - as little lego people. Rouse was not warning us of an Orwellian dystopia; this is actually his ideal of what should happen with social housing in the UK.

In Rouse's social-democratic hell, people will not talk about `social housing' - they will talk about `different degrees of ownership'. Even new tenants will be `gifted' two per cent equity - except that this equity is conditional upon good behaviour, and will be recovered in toto if tenants fall into more than eight weeks' arrears. Furthermore equity in the leasehold is conditional, since the Housing Corporation would have the (until now unheard of) right of first buyback, and there is absolutely no right of succession (meaning you cannot bequest the home to your children). In other words, this `equity' is not ownership at all - except that it does come with responsibilities for the repair and upkeep of your home.

Prime minister Gordon Brown has announced that three million homes will be built and that the state will take up the slack left by the private sector's failure to build enough houses to match demand (2). For many, this is a sign that Old Labour is back. Council housing in particular is something of a nostalgia-trip for born-again Labourites like Jon Cruddas, commentator Lynsey Hanley and London mayor Ken Livingstone.

This nostalgia for council housing is hard to take. There is no principle that says that houses built and managed by the state are any worse than those in the private sector. But in practise, social housing has precious little to do with meeting people's needs, and everything to do with state control over supposedly anti-social elements. The Housing Corporation's thinking about dividing people into Gold, Silver and Bronze levels - imposing tenancy agreements, issuing secure (but floating) tenancy certificates, partial equity, video- and bio-monitoring, 24-hour surveillance, retaining the right of first buy-back - are all drawn from the real way that social housing tenants are intrusively regulated by the authorities.

Throughout its history, social housing has always been intimately related to the perceived problem of social order. In Nathaniel Rothschild's `Four Per Cent Dwellings', which opened in 1887, each landing had its own warden, usually an ex-NCO from the army who would enforce curfews and respectable behaviour. When philanthropists decanted tenants into the subscription-funded Somers Town estate in the 1930s, their bedding was burnt and furniture put into a mobile fumigation wagon.as part of a public ceremony overseen by local dignitaries, complete with the burning of papier mach‚ effigies of rats, fleas and other pests.

Similar things took place outside of Britain. In `Red' Vienna's much-trumpeted inter-war municipal houses, Social Democrat councillors enforced a `social contract' with tenants, which committed them to responsible parenting. Where this was lacking, social workers were on hand to remove children to the municipal Child Observation Centres (3).

In the postwar expansion of social housing in Britain, the charity-laden character of such housing was moderated: tenants were more like citizens and less like supplicants. Therefore, other ways of relating to the estate-dwellers had to be found. Labour's Peter Shore (1924-2001) oversaw the racial segregation of Tower Hamlets' Council Stock in the 1970s, as the London borough used divide-and-rule tactics to win the support of white residents with marginally better estates. Then, 20 years later, in the early and mid-1990s, the council turned around and started threatening white residents, who had believed the promise of preferential treatment, with being evicted for racism (4).

Between 1979 and 1997, the Conservative government stopped new council houses being built in Britain, sold off some homes and transferred others to Housing Associations. The declining stock of council homes shifted the social mix, as the more affluent workers moved out of local authority management. This was when people started calling Council Housing `social housing', meaning that it was primarily for housing people who were a social problem.

In the Nineties, local authorities pioneered the systems of social control that would later be generalised under Labour's Crime and Disorder Bill in the form of the ASBO: that is, the Anti-Social Behaviour Order. Before there were ASBOs there were tenancy agreements. On 24 May 1995, 2,500 council tenants in Cross Farm Road, Birmingham, were warned that they would have to put their children under an 8pm curfew. They were told that not annoying or harassing their neighbours - or allowing their children to do so - was a condition of their council tenancies. Breaches were to be heard by a subcommittee of councillors (5). Councils had expanded the terms of their tenancy agreements to include clauses governing social behaviour on top of keeping up rent payments and looking after the fabric of the home.

In June 1995, the Labour Party, then still in opposition, published a housing consultation paper titled A Quiet Life. It was influenced heavily by the thinking of the (mostly Labour) councillors who had enhanced their powers of social regulation through the issue of housing. A Quiet Life proposed special Community Safety Orders, which could be imposed to regulate behaviour, on the same model as the expanded tenancy agreements. These were later renamed Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. Just as the councils had done when enforcing their tenancy agreements, so Labour proposed dealing with `problem tenants' through the use of professional witnesses (that is, housing officers) and by the lower standard of proof that is normally used in civil proceedings.

Recently the courts struck down an ASBO that was issued in Manchester on evidence supplied by the council, when it came to light that the reports they had solicited against the unfortunate accused were entirely made up. Manchester City Council had told the courts that they had independent corroboration, which was not true - but it was in keeping with the local authority's contempt for the rights of their tenants.

Brown is right that we need more homes. The market is so restrained by bureaucratic controls that it cannot meet the real demand that exists. It does not matter who builds or manages the homes, private sector or government. But council housing was never just about providing homes; it was always about regulating social behaviour. Those who long for a return to council housing are either ignorant of what a trap it was, or more likely, they look forward to the day when they can tie up more of the people they imagine to be `problem families' in bureaucratic regulations.


Reality catches up with another red diaper baby

Having grown up in a home of diehard New Deal Democrats, with a wider family circle that included hard-core socialists and communists, and having come of age in the United States during the turbulent 1960s, every fiber in my body is filled with political and social liberalism.

Throughout the years, I have tried to maintain a universal outlook on life, no matter the winds of change that continually blow across the international arena, relentlessly testing my ideological worldview - especially over the 35 years I have lived in Israel and, particularly, the last 10.

Since the onset of the second intifada, the rise of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hamas's takeover of Gaza, the encroachment of Hizbullah, I am fighting forces within me that are edging to the political right - all the while desperately holding on to a progressive philosophical mindset. In the deepest recesses of my being, I am finding it difficult to maintain my usual equilibrium.

I am constantly doing battle with two competing inclinations - one to preserve my body (my physical well-being) and one to preserve my soul (my moral integrity). And, right now, the urges of my body seem to be getting the upper hand. I feel my corporeal self under siege from all sides. I ache with the historical burden of persecution knocking at my door every minute of the day, fired by forces like those that engulfed us during the Crusades - read Hamas - and expelled us during the Inquisition - read Hizbullah - and led by the warriors of anti-Semitism like Chmelnitski - read Hassan Nasrallah - and those who slaughtered us mercilessly like Hitler - read Ahmadinejad.

HOW DO I maintain a sense of justice for Palestinians whose freedoms have been compromised under Israel's 40-year occupation and continue to advocate for their human rights, when I know they are being swept up by a pan-Islamism characterized by Islamist extremism? No wonder the Israeli Left has gone underground. Many of our cherished values have gone up in smoke.

We hate the security barrier because it steals Palestinian lands, divides villages and separates families, but we sleep better knowing our children no longer play Russian roulette with their lives when they venture out in public. We deplore targeted assassinations, but when the IDF kills terrorists on their way to fire rockets into Sderot, we breathe a sigh of relief - even if innocent Palestinians are caught in the cross fire.

Has the Right read the political map better than we have? Everything that those who opposed the unilateral withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza predicted would happen has happened. Hizbullah in the north and Hamas in the south are squeezing us and, at a moment's notice, could wreak havoc upon the country. The internecine fighting in Gaza, where Palestinians killed each other with impunity, proved a harsh reality: These Muslim fanatics are out for anyone's blood that gets in the way of their ultimate goal - spilling the last drop of Jewish blood.

SO, WHAT'S an Israeli liberal Jew to do - turn to our leftist sympathizers abroad to gain some perspective and objectivity? Who are they - the American Center for Constitutional Rights that has issued warrants for the arrest of Moshe Ya'alon and Avi Dichter for war crimes; the International Solidarity Movement or the Christian Peacemaker Teams whose Web sites are veritable wellsprings of anti-Semitic drivel?

You see why I feel besieged - even my natural allies put me on the defensive. We activists for decency and fair play for the other can no longer bury our heads in the sand. We must find a way to reconcile our ideological liberalism with the harsh political realities of a bellicose neighborhood and an indifferent at best, hostile at worst, world community that allows the UN Human Rights Commission to single out Israel for permanent scrutiny. (Silent complicity strikes the Jews again.) Only America has consistently stood by us.

So as not to further darken the gathering storm hovering above, we liberals will have to temper our views and moderate our behavior. Does this mean that we limit self-criticism and curtail what we say and what we do because our words and actions can supply ammunition to our detractors and to those who decry our legitimacy as a state? Does it mean that we sacrifice our moral conscience on an altar of fear? No! But, it does mean that we must carefully weigh the possible consequences of our rhetoric and activities.

It also means that we who are sympathetic to Palestinian suffering cannot become mirror images of our right-wing adversaries - abandoning any sense of balance, thus discounting Israeli pain. More so, even as we concede Israeli offenses, we must acknowledge Palestinian violence and, more importantly, its global implications. With the radicalization of Gaza, surely to be exported to the West Bank, Palestinians are part of a growing Islamist threat to Western stability, and we stand at the forefront of its eventual onslaught.

For those of us born with a liberal spoon in our mouths, the challenge is formidable - almost frantic. Painful memories of our history, presently reflected in the mirror of a dangerous new reality, compel us to examine and reexamine, evaluate and reevaluate our deeply held principles - even as we resolutely cling to our ideals, steadfastly advancing a social agenda that impels Israel to be a "light unto the nations."



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 July, 2007

Muslim Workers at Nebraska Meatpacking Plant Complain of Religious Harassment

Supervisors at a meatpacking plant have fired or harassed dozens of Somali Muslim employees for trying to pray at sunset, violating civil rights laws, the workers and their advocates say. The five- to 10-minute prayer, known as the maghrib, must be done within a 45-minute window around sunset, according to Muslim rules. The workers at the Swift & Co. plant in Grand Island say they quit, were fired or were verbally and physically harassed over the issue.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has drafted a complaint to be filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The petition compiles testimony from at least 44 workers who had planned to sign the complaint during a meeting Sunday. The signing was changed to a later date because of a logistical problem.

Jama Mohamed, 28, said he was fired in June for leaving a production line to pray. Supervisors would not allow him a break, he said. "Some of them took the (prayer) mat from me; they started shouting, they started telling me to stop it, and one of them grabbed me by the collar of my shirt," Mohamed said through an interpreter. "I was crying at the time this was happening to me, and when I finished I told them while they were doing that I was in the middle of a prayer." Mohamed said he was then called to an office, where a supervisor fired him. Mohamed Rage, chairman of the Omaha Somali-American Community Organization, said Swift had fired at least two dozen workers for praying since May.

Donald Selzer, an attorney for Greeley, Colo.-based Swift, said only three Somali workers were fired for reasons relating to the issue, and that it was for walking off the line without permission, not for praying. Unscheduled breaks can force unplanned shutdowns of lines, Selzer said. "That is a significant number of employees, and there is not much of a way to accommodate that consistent with keeping the production online," he said.

The complaint reprises issues that boiled over in May, when 120 Somali workers abruptly quit for similar reasons. About 70 returned a week later, but union officials worried the issue would resurface through the late spring as sunset came later in the evening shift.



"Mein Kampf" is one of the dozen or so books I keep in front of me on my table where I do my writing. I even read it sometimes. It is a very important document for conservatives to read -- showing as it does how close in thinking Hitler was to modern Leftists -- including the antisemitism, of course

Horst Moeller, a leading German historian, has called for the book to be published openly for the first time since 1945. The Bavarian state authorities own the copyright to Hitler's writings, but maintain an effective ban by refusing all requests to print it. Officially, the book cannot be bought in Germany, Israel, Norway or Switzerland. It is illegal to own it in Austria and to sell it in the Netherlands. But the book is available for sale in the US and Britain, as well as through internet bookshops. About 3,000 copies are sold every year in the UK.

Mein Kampf is the central defining text of racial hatred, a lurid, paranoid diatribe founded on the lie of Aryan supremacy. It is not only evil but amazingly badly written, being repetitious, anti-factual, rambling and turgid, the testimony of a furious, self-pitying failure with a slender grasp on reality and none whatever on grammar. It was a huge bestseller: each newly married couple, graduating student, and soldier at the front was presented with a copy by the Third Reich; Hitler earned more than $1 million a year in royalties. It is wicked rubbish, at once stomach-turning and soporific; everyone should read it, once.

Holocaust survivors are understandably unhappy at the prospect of a book that caused such bloodshed becoming freely available once more in the country that gave birth to Nazism. Yet whatever sympathy one may feel for those who suffered, no book should be banned, however pernicious. Allowed to fester in the dark corners of neo-Nazism, Hitler's ideas continue to hold a spurious glamour for the twisted few: held up to the light, they shrivel. In treating this disease, exposure to fresh air is always more effective than quarantine.

Some argued as much from the beginning. William L. Shirer, the American journalist and historian who covered the rise of the Third Reich, suggested that if Hitler's ideas had been more widely disseminated and understood outside Germany in the 1930s, then the world might have taken action in time to stop him.

The Times was right to publish extracts from Mein Kampf in 1933; the publisher Hutchinson was brave and right to issue a cheap wartime edition in order that British people might better understand what we were fighting for, and against. And Mr Moeller is surely right to argue that Germany has now left the spectre of Nazism so far behind, that it can trust itself to read Hitler's creed without fear of reinfection.

Quite apart from the issue of free speech, there is the practical consideration that book-banning is virtually impossible in the internet age. The Nazis themselves tried, and failed, to ban and burn the "degenerate" books they feared, and in the process lent those works underground status. Today any neo-Nazi with half a brain (rather more than the usual complement), can download Mein Kampf and feel aggrieved and special for having to do so in secret.

The copyright of Mein Kampf in Germany will expire in 2015, and then German publishers will be free to publish it. How much better, then, to produce a cheap, scholarly, annotated version in German now, with a commentary comprehensively debunking it. That would be a mark of moral courage, a demonstration that Germany has come to terms with its past and can look on the evil of Nazism with confident disdain instead of a lingering fear.

Mein Kampf is a historical relic that has retained its power to horrify: it should be preserved and exhibited in the same way as Auschwitz, the killing fields of Cambodia and Holocaust museums everywhere. Germany has struggled to explore and understand its own history with an honesty that stands as a beacon to other traumatised nations, from South Africa to Iraq to Northern Ireland. Hitler's apologia for mass murder is a painful but necessary part of that story. It should be published, and damned.


UK Catholic Church Agency to Cease Adoption Work As Government Forces Homosexual Adoption

Catholic Care, a leading British Catholic adoption agency announced this week that it will cease operations in light of the recently imposed requirement that they must allow children to be adopted by homosexual partners. Catholic Care is the first of the religious social agencies to announce that it can no longer operate under the Sexual Orientation Regulations (SOR's) that proponents claimed would put an end to "discrimination" in the UK.

According to the Daily Mail, the agency, in operation for a century, announced that a vote of its trustees decided to end its services that had placed about 20 children a year into new families. The decision from Catholic Care came a week after the Catholic bishop of Lancaster, Patrick O'Donoghue wrote a letter to Catholic Caring Services, an adoption charity in his diocese, saying that the needs of the child must come before the desire for parenthood. The Daily Mail quotes him saying, "I favour rejection, thus withdrawal from adoption and fostering from December 2008 if all else fails." "We know that what is best for children is to live with married couples. Dilution of that harms children. Children who stay with married parents do by far the best, whilst those with same-sex couples often fare badly, and certainly never as well as a child with a married couple."

In April, when the Labour government passed the SOR's, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims and other religious and ethics groups were united in condemning the move, calling it a means of imposing state-sanctioned secularist doctrine on religious groups orchestrated by the gay lobby. In the weeks leading up to the passage of the secondary legislation, the media was in an uproar over the possibility that adoption agencies run by the Catholic Church might or might not be granted an exception to the law on religious conscience grounds.

Cormac Cardinal Murphy O'Connor, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales warned that the Church would be forced to end its involvement in adopting children rather than comply with what he saw as a law that suppressed religious freedom. A similar decision was taken earlier by Boston Catholic Charities that ended its adoption services in March 2006 when the state of Massachusetts tried to force them to adopt children to homosexual partners.

In the end, Tony Blair, who was said to have been waffling on the issue, decreed that the Church, or any other group, would not be granted any exemptions but that an "adjustment period" would be granted for such bodies to come to terms with the new order.

Homosexual partners have been eligible to adopt children in Britain since 2002 and most non-religious agencies allow it. But the SOR's took the issue to the next phase in forcing religious agencies to allow it against their stated religious principles. Catholic Care served both Catholic and non-Catholic couples.

In comments to the BBC in the spring, Murphy O'Connor said the SOR's were part of a movement to force Christians out of public life in Britain. "Here the Catholic Church and its adoption services are wishing to act according to its principles and conscience and the government is saying: 'No, we won't allow you to ... you have no space, you have no place in the public life of this country.'"


Milestone in Reaching a Colorblind America

Black Group Hails Prohibition of Race and Sex Preferences in Transportation Funding Bill

Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie is hailing a historic congressional vote that prohibits federal funds from being used by the Department of Transportation to create "regulations based on race, ethnicity or sex." Representative Tim Walberg (R-MI) introduced the amendment to H.R. 3074 on July 24. The bill appropriates funds for the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development for the coming fiscal year. The amendment was almost immediately passed by a voice vote.

"Representative Walberg has displayed the character and leadership long sought from our elected leaders, said Massie. "The task for the citizenry must now be to watch closely that the race-obsessed in Congress do not mitigate the will of the people."

In presenting his amendment, Representative Walberg asked: "Do we really need affirmative action for roads?... The federal government should never view any American as part of a group, rather than as an individual. By granting the Department of Transportation the ability to discriminate based on race or sex, this House would essentially create affirmative action for our nation's highways."

Project 21's Massie added: "Like Neil Armstrong making his first moonwalk, this is a small step for Congress but a giant leap toward creating a truly equal and colorblind nation. It would be shameful for Speaker Pelosi and her cohorts to try to defy the will of the House of Representatives and strip out this amendment behind the scenes."



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 July, 2007

British police tell mother: Don't scold daughter 'because of Maddy'

A mother who scolded her tantrum-throwing daughter in a shop was outraged to be visited at home by police who told her it was inappropriate to reprimand the girl in the light of Madeleine McCann's disappearance. Ruth Ball was at home when police officers knocked at her door and and ticked her off about the way she had chastised four-year-old Leigha. The 24-year-old was told that the method she had used to reprimand Leigha was "inappropriate" in the light of Madeleine's disappearance from her family's holiday apartment in Portugal.

Ms Ball was at a newsagent in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, when Leigha started screaming after being refused sweets. She swept her daughter out of the shop and put her in the car to calm down, standing a couple of feet away with her three-year-old son Jack. A few minutes later she got into the car and drove the family home, thinking no more of it.

The following day a policeman visited her at her home in Luton to tell her off. The officer said it was inadvisable to shout at her daughter and shut her in the car after what happened to missing Madeleine. Ms Ball, who works as a care assistant, said: "I'm deeply sorry for what has happened to Madeleine, but why should I let my daughter get away with things because she was abducted? "I am trying to raise two decent human beings, even though I have been advised by the police to let them run riot, turn into thugs and help keep the prison population going when they're older. "Kids learn young. If they learn now that kicking, hitting and screaming gets what they want, what are they going to do when they're adults?"

Ms Ball added that she was shocked that somebody had taken down her numberplate and called police - but even more shocked that officers had visited her at home. Ms Ball said: "Even the police officer said he didn't see the point in him being here. He had to come and show his face and tell me not to tell her off."

The force has been involved in various scandals and gaffes, including three in the space of a fortnight in May last year. First, an elderly farmer was seized by armed police and thrown in a cell after - quite legally - firing a warning shot at a dog that was threatening his lambs. Then it emerged four police officers had resigned after giving remand prisoners special favours - including sexual liaisons with girlfriends - in exchange for false confessions. Days later, the force was criticised when a private school headmaster was found dead shortly after officers sent letters to parents asking if they had any 'concerns' about him. No arrest had been made at the time. In 2004, a dangerous driving case collapsed at crown court because the arresting officer was teaching golf in Spain on a five-year career break.

A spokesman for Bedfordshire Police said: "We received a call from a member of the public concerned for the safety of a young girl she had seen being put into a car. "We attended the address of the owner and it transpired that the child, who was happy with no injuries, had been put in the car after having a tantrum. "If Ms Ball is concerned with what happened or what was said, she is very welcome to contact us."


Illegal sex discrimination on TV?

Post lifted from Ian Ayres. See the original for links

The announcement of Drew Carey as the new host of the "Price is Right" has a slight connection to civil rights. A few weeks ago, when retiring icon Bob Barker was asked at the Daytime Emmy about who might replace him, he mentioned Rosie O'Donnell:

"I believe they're going to have a meeting with Rosie. She knows the show. There's no doubt in my mind she could do the show."

But in a moment of candor, he went on and said:

"Now, whether they want a lady host, I don't know. I've never heard that discussed. As far as I know, they've only auditioned men."

The possibility that the producers of the show don't "want a lady host" is the possibility of a Title VII violation. Title VII prohibits sex discrimination in employment unless the employer can establish what's called a BFOQ or "Bona Fide Occupational Qualification." The EEOC Guidelines do allow intentional sex discrimination in hiring an actor or actress where the sex-specific roles are necessary for the "purpose of authenticity or genuineness," see 29 C.F.R.  1604.2(a)(2). But there is no way that the producers could establish that sex was a BFOQ for being host of "The Price is Right."

The same conclusion probably holds true for hosting "The View." The thought that only women could host a talk show would be difficult to square with existing case law. Probably a dozen different hosts have been employed by The View. They have all been female. There is little doubt that the producers of that show discriminate on the basis of sex in hiring.

Indeed, even John Travolta's portrayal of Edna in the movie Hairspray raises a non-trivial BFOQ question. Travolta, like all of his predecessors, is male. But it's hard to say that casting a man for the part is necessary for "authenticity or genuineness" -- especially when the whole point of his portrayal is that Travolta (unlike Divine) is playing it straight.

Pathological denial in Britain

Some in Britain have come up with an ingenuous way of countering the threat of jihad: They pretend it does not exist

One would think this would be rather difficult in the wake of the recent terrorist attempts in London and Glasgow, but the jihad-deniers use these very incidents to make their case. The failure of the bombs to go off, they argue, is proof that the would-be terrorists were an assortment of bungling fools. What's more, they extend this characterization to all those who swear by the cause. On this view, the whole concept of jihad is merely a silly concoction of some misguided dolts.

An article titled Evil plotters? More like sad and crackpot which ran recently in the UK Times offers a startling example of this line of thinking. This is what its author, the well-known British commentator Matthew Parris, writes:

Something is changing in the public mood, and I think it's this: terrorism is beginning to look a bit stupid. Those pictures of that idiotic and slightly overweight fellow with his clothes burnt off looked pathetic, undignified. It has occurred to even the meanest of intellects that concrete doesn't burn. And it isn't just the technical competence of alleged British terrorists that people are beginning to doubt: it's the whole jihadist idea. What world are they aiming for? Most British Muslims, just like most British everyone-else, think it's all pie in the sky: all rather silly. Yes, silly. Not "evil" as the red tops would have it. [...] We're not talking anything as clever as Evil here: we're talking Weird, we're talking Crackpot, we're talking Sad. The idea of using a Jeep to make a terminal explode was, in the latest lingo, a bit gay.

The trivialization and lightheartedness are hardly appropriate, especially since it was only due to sheer luck that the attacks did not translate into mass carnage. Explosives experts have repeatedly confirmed that had the London's terror plot gone as planned hundreds would have been engulfed by the blast and the accompanying fireball.

Neither are all would-be terrorists mere inept bunglers. Does Mr. Paris need to be reminded of that fatal morning of July 7, 2005? Does he recall the carnage that was unleashed then? Does he remember the destroyed double-decker and the twisted underground carriages splattered with blood? Did that look like the work of some blathering `crackpots' or like a horrific terrorist attack?

It is only a matter of good fortune that Britain has not been hit with more strikes like this. Last year Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, then the head of Britain's counterintelligence service MI5, revealed that her agency was monitoring at least 30 high-priority plots. At one point they were tracking more than 200 hundred cells with over 1500 aspiring jihadists among them.

Such is their determination that London Police Commission Sir Ian Blair warned that it was all but inevitable that some would succeed. How irresponsible, then, for editorial writers to trivialize the danger when those most familiar with its extent are almost certain that Britain will be hit again. Worse still, there is a very real possibility that the next strike will make July 7 look like a minor incident.

Various investigations and sting operations in the last couple of years have uncovered a number of plots of breath-taking audacity. A Muslim convert by the name of Dhiren Barot was, among other things, laying plans to detonate a dirty bomb and flood the London underground by breaching the river Thames. An Islamist cell was scheming to bring down a British Airways airliner with bare hands. The idea was to purchase thirty tickets on a British Airways flight and then batter their way into the cockpit. There were also plots to poison London's water supplies and to attack a shopping center with a giant fertilizer bomb.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many more plots in the works some of which are no doubt even more destructive and which may well come to our attention only after they have exacted their terrible toll.

Although we cannot predict when and how they will strike next, what we do know is that many of those who plan these atrocities are intelligent and well-educated individuals, not at all drifting dimwits as some would have us believe. We would do well to remember that the ringleader of London's 2005 terror strike - Mohammad Sidique Khan - was a respected teacher. Those responsible for the most recent attempts in London and Glasgow are all highly educated professionals. One of them, Dr. Mohammed Asha, is a neurologist who earned his appointment at a prestigious university hospital on the strength of his distinguished academic record. Another, Kafeel Ahmed, who apparently drove the explosives-laden jeep into the Glasgow airport terminal, is an engineer who was working toward a PhD in computational fluid dynamics. His passenger, Dr. Bilal Abdullah, is a diabetes specialist. Sabeel Ahmed, another man held in connection with this attack, is also a doctor.

The combination of smarts and advanced education is, in fact, a trademark of international jihad. Mohammed Atta held a couple of degrees from universities in Cairo and Hamburg. Several among his band of hijackers also had at least some college education. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda's second in command, is a cerebral surgeon. Bin Laden is a civil engineer himself. Sheik Khalid Sheik Mohamed holds a degree in mechanical engineering degree from an American university. Ramzi Yousef, one of the planners of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, excelled in math and science and holds an engineering degree from West Glamorgan Institute in Wales. In addition to his technical prowess, he is also fluent in English, Baluchi, Urdu and Arabic. We could go on and on. If truth be told, few other criminal enterprises can boast so many clever and university educated conspirators.

To make light of the threat posed by these determined fanatics - as some in Britain are now trying to do - is self-delusional at best and suicidal at worst. The mortal danger we face at their hands will not go away if we pretend it does not exist. It is like sticking one's head in the sand hoping that the jackal will not eat you. This, however, is a fatally misguided hope, since this enemy is too determined, too driven and too smart to let such an opportunity pass by.


Australia: Sexy army recruiter sniffed at

("Digger" is Australian slang for "soldier")

MOVE over Angelina Jolie, the army is using Australia's version of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, to encourage women to join the forces. Posters approved by the office of Chief of Army Lieutenant General Peter Leahy, depict the modern woman Digger as a buxom, full-lipped wonder woman with a sculpted body wearing a tight-fitting uniform. But the posters, on which the female soldier always appears to look like a million dollars - have caused some offence.

Included in the series are images of a uniformed brunette stirring a pot as a cook; wielding a large spanner as an engineer; singing up a storm with the army band and striding across the helicopter tarmac in a skin-tight flying suit. The cartoon heroine fairly bursts out of her white medical gear in the Dental Corps poster. "We want you" is the message scrawled across the posters in Indiana Jones script.

Unfortunately, many women in the military do not believe the "you" as depicted even exists. They believe the posters send inappropriate signals. One senior air force officer was appalled by the portrayal. "I think they are woeful and say a lot about how army males see the world," she said. "They surely couldn't work and we wouldn't necessarily want the type of women attracted by the posters. "I hope the RAAF doesn't go the same way."

The sexy Digger's male comrade is a chiselled-jawed man in skin-tight overalls. A Defence spokeswoman said the posters were not designed for outside recruiting but rather to encourage soldiers to consider a change in trade. "Army accepted that this campaign might not appeal to all personnel," she said. "Professional marketing advice indicated the use of cartoon caricatures would engage the intended targeted audience, predominantly young males in combat-related roles. "In its first week of testing, 450 soldiers indicated a preference to sign-up to a trade transfer, compared with 35 the week before."

According to well-placed sources, the offending posters are about to be recalled. Meanwhile, the TV navy drama Sea Patrol is expected to deliver a recruiting boon to the navy. A website linked with the program will soon be launched so prospective sailors can interact with the Sea Patrol crew. A Defence source said it was too early to judge the impact of the show, but he said its predecessor Patrol Boat had been a good recruiting tool.



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 July, 2007

"Londonistan" shows how sick Britain is

A review by Hal G.P. Colebatch of "Londonistan" By Melanie Phillips

Has this book been reviewed before? If so, in light of the recent terror-bombings in Britain, another review may be called for. British Journalist and George Orwell Prize-winner Melanie Philips has written a chilling book, setting out how confused thinking, left-liberalism and obeisance to political correctness have led to Islamicist terrorism and extremism striking deep roots in Britain.

A major villain, she argues, is Blair -- not former Prime Minister Tony in this case, but Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, who emerges as a man driven by fear of seeming politically incorrect. An employment tribunal found that he had racially discriminated against three officers at a training school who had been disciplined for, in one case referring to Muslim headwear as "tea-cosies," and in another case for having, perhaps in honest mistake, pronounced "Shi'ites" as "shitties" and having said he felt sorry for Muslims who fasted during Ramadan. Sir Ian responded to this finding by declaring that he was "unrepentant," repeating that the remarks were "Islamophobic" and declaring that the police must "embrace diversity." When questioned about the murder of Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh for questioning Islamic attitudes to women, Sir Ian responded: "There were lots of fundamentalist Muslims who didn't shoot him," revealing a certain logical gap.

Phillips might have mentioned how, in words reminiscent of the confessions of Darkness at Noon or 1984 or China's Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, John Grieve, assistant deputy commissioner in the Metropolitan Police Service, and head of its Racial task force, groveled that "I am a racist. I know because Sir William Macpherson said that I am; the Home Secretary said that I am; countless members of the public inquiry said that I am ....The Metropolitan Police Service is an institutionally racist organisation. It must be because Sir William Macpherson said that it is; the Home Secretary said that it is ..."

This was not sarcasm but was intended literally and at its face value. Ray Honeyford commented in the Salisbury Review:

It clearly conveys the impression of a man experiencing inner torment, after having been reduced to the level of a small child by a chastising and tyrannical father. It is not only the words themselves that are disturb, even though they are indeed chilling, coming as they do from the mouth of a mature adult. It is the identity of the person who uttered them that causes the greatest feeling of alarm in the reader.

Melanie Phillips has something shocking on almost every page:

At various conferences to discuss the terrorist threat, senior police officers declared their respect for the Muslim Brotherhood and its mouthpiece in Britain, the Muslim Association of Britain, despite its extremist views and support for terrorism in Iraq and Israel. This enraged secular Muslims who were present, who protested that by cosying up to such extremists the police were betraying the Muslim community.

A particular favorite of the police contact unit appeared to be a Sheik who had called for suicide bombings in Israel and Iraq as a religious duty, and claimed: "We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America!" She documents the reaction of Muslim bodies in Britain to the London terrorist bombing, denial that they were anything to do with Muslims and threat of more to come often being combined in the same sentence.

Former Home Secretary Charles Clarke said that "there can be no negotiations about the reimposition of Shariah law, there can be no negotiation about the suppression of equality between the sexes, there can be no negotiation about the ending of free speech. These values are fundamental to our civilization and are simply not up for negotiation." This was attacked as an assault on Islam. All this is combined with a resurgence of Jew-hatred such as we might have thought perished in the West about 1945.

Melanie Phillips quotes a 2004 Home Office survey which found 26% of Brtitish Muslims felt no loyalty to Britain, 13% defended terrorism, and about 16,000 were prepared to engage in or actively support terrorism. A third believed Western society was decadent and immoral and that Muslims should seek to bring it to an end. The former Metropolitan Police commissioner, Lord Stevens, revealed that up to 3,000 British-born or British-based people had passed through Osama bin Laden's terrorist training camps. Other surveys gave at least equally alarming results: a BBC poll found 15% of British Muslims supported the 9/11 attacks. Even though these numbers were minorities, with a total Muslim population of 1,600,000, growing rapidly every week, they added up to very substantial numbers in absolute terms.

Four out of 10 British Muslims want Sharia law (which includes punitive stoning and amputation) introduced into parts of the country, and a fifth have sympathy with the "feelings and motives" of the suicide bombers who killed 52 people in the London terrorist bus and tube attacks.

Melanie Phillips claims: "British Muslims are overwhelmingly horrified and disgusted by the louche and dissolute behaviour of a Britain that has torn up notions of respectability. They observe the alcoholism, drug abuse and pornography, the breakdown of family life and the encouragement of promiscuity, and find themselves in opposition to their host society's guiding values."

That, perhaps, is where the other Blair, Tony Blair, comes in. Whether on not things will change under Gordon Brown is hard to say, but it is impossible to deny that the Blair government, for all Blair's military support of the U.S. alliance and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has presided over an ethos, first known as Cool Britannia, which could command little respect or loyalty from anyone. What does one make of a society where trading inspectors prosecute the vendors of pornographic videos on the grounds that their content is less pornographic than advertised, and where the Queen is made to confer a knighthood on a notorious icon of the drug culture? That is another aspect of Londonistan and, along with other elements, goes to make a very disturbing whole. Meanwhile, the director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity said in 2006: "The more fundamentalist clerics think it is only a matter of time before they will persuade the government to concede on the issue of Sharia law. Given the Government's record of capitulating, you can see why they believe that."

I am not always in agreement with Christopher Hitchens, but a comment from him is apt here:

I find myself haunted by a challenge that was offered on the BBC by a Muslim activist named Anjem Choudary: a man who has praised the 9/11 murders as "magnificent" and proclaimed that "Britain belongs to Allah." When asked if he might prefer to move to a country which practices Sharia, he replied: "Who says you own Britain anyway?" A question that will have to be answered one way or another.

The implications of the book are compelling, though to borrow a certain title and call them an inconvenient truth would be an understatement: Britain is going to have to bite on some very tough political bullets if it is going to survive as anything like the nation it has been.


A satirical reply to feminist values

By Britain's irreverent Jeremy Clarkson

We know from Big Brother that today's young ladies have replaced their appealing thongs with pants the size of spinnakers, and now comes news that the sales of stockings are in free fall. Down from 10m sales in 2002 to 5m in 2006. According to The Sun's woman editor - as opposed to the real editor, who's a woman - this is because girls have better things to do these days than get dressed up like a Parisian hooker every time they go to the shops. I absolutely understand that. Getting dressed in the morning is something that should never take more than 20 seconds and putting on a pair of stockings and suspenders can take anything up to three hours.

Actually this is only a guess, based on how long it takes me to undo a suspender belt. Even when I'm armed with a head torch and a pair of scissors. Anyway, I fully appreciate that in a postMrs Robinson world, where women work and raise children, stockings are to the wardrobe what the quill is to online banking. But here's the thing, girls. Tell us that you won't wear stockings because they are impractical and you may well find that we'll give up as well. At the moment we tend not to pick our noses when in your company because it is a bit slovenly. But if you're going to slob around in a pair of footless tights and a sack, then you won't mind if we bury an index finger in each of our nostrils and dig away.

I was at London's City airport this morning surrounded by a group of middle-aged chaps who, I presume, were going to Scotland to watch some golfists. At home, each of these men would, I'm sure, eat all their yoghurt and pretend to be interested in Victoria Beckham's opinion on interior design. But at the airport, with no wives and girlfriends to keep them in check, they quickly reverted to type. By 7.45am they were on their third pint and as I boarded my plane, I believe they were beginning a farting competition.

This is not a criticism. I recently spent a couple of weeks camping in Africa with 20 or so other men and you wouldn't believe how neanderthal we became. Or how quickly. Every morning would begin with a conversation about who'd been for their number twos, what the number twos had looked like, what they'd smelt of, how much more there was to come, and whether any records for sheer tonnage had been set. Then we'd move on to who'd crept into whose tent the night before, what it had felt like, and how long, if we were the last 20 people on earth, it might take for one us to sleep with James May.

You might argue that your husband is not like this, but I assure you that beneath the veneer you see at home, he is. He may do the washing up and take the children to the park, but when you're not around, he's like the light in a fridge. He's a completely different animal, obsessed with bottoms, buggery and belching. So, girls, do you want that sort of thing at home? Really? No? Well get down to the petrol station then and buy some bloody stockings.

You may say that tights are practical and warm but have you seen what they do to a bank robber's face? And hold-ups won't do either. Thanks to all that elasticated rubber, they ruin the shape of your thighs and, in all probability, cut off the blood supply to your feet, causing gangrene. And no man fancies a girl, no matter how sparkling her eyes and wit might be, if she is gangrenous. Pop socks, meanwhile, would be completely banned if I were in power. And anyone found wearing them would be made to parade in nothing else through their local town, and then shot.

It must be stockings, with a suspender belt, because what this combination does is mask everything that doesn't matter and lay bare everything that does. A picture is nice, but before you hang it on the wall it needs a frame. And apart from anything else, if you flash your stocking tops at a man you can, and I mean this literally, get him to do anything you want. Unless you have the figure of a bison obviously, in which case he won't do anything at all. Because he will be too busy being sick. Assuming, however, you have legs which clearly belong on a human, you only need let a man know you're wearing stockings and you will be empowered to a point you may have thought impossible.

I honestly believe that if David Milibandilegs really wanted to solve this Russian crisis, he could simply ask Rene Russo to reenact that scene from the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair and Putin would have the Litvinenko murder suspect on the next flight to London. And please, let's not have any of this "ooh, stockings make us sex objects" nonsense because that simply isn't true. We all saw Sharon Stone cross her legs in Basic Instinct and we all tittered in a schoolboy way. But when Rene popped a stockinged leg from that split skirt, I damn nearly fainted with admiration at the size of her brain.

Plainly she'd worked out that what she really needed to gain control over the entire New York police department was not a degree from Harvard. But a pair of 4.99 stockings from Pretty Polly. That makes her smart. As well.


Animal rights extremists not benevolent

With the recent charges that a major National Football League player had allowed cruel dog fights on his home property, the issue of cruelty to animals has been brought to national attention. Nearly everyone acknowledges the obvious - that a person who is cruel to animals, who enjoys sees seeing an animal suffer, is likely to inflict suffering on human beings. Cruelty to animals is one of the very few predictors among children of later criminal behavior. So, aside from altruistic concern for animals, we human beings also have a selfish concern about people who enjoy making animals suffer. People who enjoy hurting animals will very likely hurt us, too.

The problem arises when we assume that the converse is equally true - that just as cruelty to animals leads to cruelty to human beings, kindness to animals leads to kindness to people. It doesn't. Kindness to animals is entirely unrelated to kindness to human beings - except perhaps in the reverse order: People who treat people kindly are less likely to treat animals with cruelty.

But there is no connection whatsoever between treating animals kindly and treating people kindly. You know nothing about a person's treatment of people by knowing that he or she is kind to animals or is an "animal lover." Indeed, if there is any connection, it is more likely to be in the opposite direction. It seems that at a certain point of preoccupation with animals, there is a real chance that such a person may well treat people worse.

In his book "The Nazi War on Cancer (Princeton University Press, 1999)," Stanford Professor Robert N. Proctor writes a great deal about the Nazis' antipathy to animal experimentation. For example, the book features a Nazi cartoon depicting "the lab animals of Germany saluting Hermann Goring" for his protection of them. This Nazi protection of animals is described by the leftist writer Alexander Cockburn:

"In April 1933, soon after they had come to power, the Nazis passed laws regulating the slaughter of animals. Later that year Herman Goering [sic] announced an end to the 'unbearable torture and suffering in animal experiments' and - in an extremely unusual admission of the existence of such institutions, threatened to 'commit to concentration camps those who still think they can continue to treat animals as inanimate property.' Bans on vivisection were issued - though later partly rescinded - in Bavaria and Prussia. Horses, cats and apes were singled out for special protection. In 1936, a special law was passed regarding the correct way of dispatching lobsters and crabs and thus mitigating their terminal agonies. Crustaceans were to be thrown into rapidly boiling water. Bureaucrats at the Nazi Ministry of the Interior had produced learned research papers on the kindest method of killing."

In the case of the Nazis, the moral inversion is particularly dramatic, since the Nazis' opposition to experimentation on animals was accompanied by their support for the grotesque and sadistic medical experiments on innocent Jews and others in Nazi concentration camps.

The ancient Hebrew Prophet Hosea saw this inverted morality in his day as well: "Those who offer human sacrifice kiss calves" (Hosea 13.2).

For those tempted to caricature the argument presented here, I should make it clear that no one is making the absurd argument that animal rights activists are likely to be Nazis. Pointing out that the Nazis were major animal rights activists - and that Hitler was a vegetarian - is done only to offer a vivid illustration of how easily kindness to animals and cruelty to humans can coexist.

Human beings are not moderates, but extremists, by nature. Attitudes toward animals provide an excellent example. On the one hand are the innumerable human beings throughout history who have regarded animals as things to be treated as mercilessly as one would an inanimate object. This accounts for the widespread practice of cock fighting and other 'sports' that feature animals painfully killing one another for humans' entertainment.

And on the other hand are those, especially today, who equate animal worth with human worth - such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which inaugurated a campaign a few years ago called "Holocaust on your plate." The program equates the barbecuing of chickens with the Nazi burning of Jews. So, in our appropriate condemnation of those who organize dog fights, let's not fool ourselves about the impact of animal kindness on human beings' character. It simply doesn't exist.



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 July, 2007

Britain: Remembrance Day parade scrapped for first time in 60 years over 'health and safety' fears

Every year since 1945, the town of Horwich has held a parade to remember its war dead. But thanks to health and safety rules, there won't be one this year. And there are fears that Remembrance Day marches nationwide may be threatened by similar safety demands, which put severe pressure on budgets. Organisers in the Lancashire town have previously relied on brief and small-scale road closures put in place for free by the police, to clear the way for the event.

But this year, senior police officers said although they will still make no charge, a team of marshals must be employed to man the route at a cost of about 50 pounds a day. In addition, organisers will have to pay for each road they want closed. To make matters worse, Bolton Council has increased permanent road closure prices from 300 to 800 pounds this year. These costs could bring the final bill to 18,000 - making the November 11 parade too expensive to hold. Usually it would cost only a couple of thousand pounds.

Greater Manchester Police said the extra security is necessary because another force in the West Midlands was successfully sued when Brownies participating in a parade were injured by a car which drove into them while they were marching.

But Bernard McCartin, of the Royal British Legion's Horwich branch, warned that the cost of imposing further safety measures could affect parades across the country. Mr McCartin, 65, who served with the Royal Observer Corps in Lincolnshire, added: 'This is very disappointing, but there is not a lot we can do. "It is a mark of disrespect to every person who gave their lives for this town."

The former mayor of Horwich, a parade leader, added: "Several hundred people watch this event every year with all sorts of organisations from cub scouts to veterans taking part. "It is a further erosion of what we hold dear in the country." A spokesman for the Royal British Legion said it would be looking into the matter. "The issue of proposed local council and police charging to ensure the safety of Remembrance Day parades is of great concern. It is clear that a change of policy has taken place at local level."

Tory defence spokesman Dr Liam Fox said: 'This is a scandal. To hear that people cannot remember those who gave their lives for this country due to overzealous bureaucrats is crazy. "I'd hope the authorities will be reconsidering their application of the rules to ensure that the parade can go ahead."

However, Steve Rock, of Horwich Town Council, said it did not have the money to help to meet the bill. He said: "People will be upset, but the only way to fund it would be to raise council tax next year." The Horwich parade has been held since 1945. It passes through the town and ends at the war memorial. A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said the force did not charge for policing parades but warned that the local authority does charge for road closures. "To address this, the force has suggested a shorter route that would not involve closing roads and, therefore, not cost the organisers anything."

PC Phil Waring, events planner for Bolton, explained why the safety rules had been imposed. "There was an incident in the West Midlands where the police were successfully sued and, as a result, we have to follow new guidelines and make it safer for people."

Earlier this year, health and safety rules ended an annual duck race in Upper Dam, Lymm, Cheshire, which raised money for charity. The event was so popular that council officials insisted that organisers close a nearby road to meet health and safety requirements. But Warrington Borough Council refused to pay for the closure - and the Round Table, which organised the event, said it could not afford the 3,000 pound bill.


"Diversity" More Important Than Crime Rate, Education When Choosing A Place To Live?

(Post lifted from Say Anything. See the original for links)

Apparently Money Magazine thinks so. A reader emails this along:

Our local community made news this week when Lansing, KS showed up as 88th on Money Magazines list. Having just recently vacationed in North Dakota & South Dakota, I was very curious as to why none of the cities in the Northern Plains made the cut. Looking into it further, 9 cities from California were on the list, but none from ND, SD, WY, etc.

As it turns out, one of the filters used discriminated out the "homogeneous" states. You can't pick up on this from the article or list itself, you have to examine the methodology used to build the list. This information was available on their website.

In the 2nd filter test, they rejected any cities that were more than 95% white. Apparently diversity itself is a significant criteria to be considered a best place to live. It must be, because Money and their consultants put diversity ABOVE other factors such as high education scores, low crime rates and employment statistics. They did not check for those criteria until they had already eliminated the non-diverse communities.
Here's the details about the methodology. They've got a step-by-step rundown of how they narrow down the cities. Racial makeup isn't the first criteria (population size is) but it is the second criterion:

I'm not understanding why a town with 95%+ white people in it would disqualify it as a "best place to live." What would the public's reaction be if we were talking about excluding towns that were 95%+ black?

What's more, this racial makeup wasn't a feature of past "best places to live" rankings by Money Magazine. The methodology for the 2006 rankings certainly didn't include it. On that 2006 list two of North Dakota's cities, Bismarck and Fargo, made the list. This year not one single city from ND made it.

This is a bit frustrating for someone who comes from a pretty racially homogeneous state. We here in North Dakota are proud of our communities, and to exclude them from the "nicest places to live" list simply because our communities are predominantly of white descent is, well, pretty unfair. [Bigoted, in fact]

The End of Reason

Post lifted from Breath of the Beast. The writer makes some excellent points but I still think that he gives Leftists rather more credit than they deserve: He takes them more seriously than they deserve. Leftists are fundamentally intellectually dishonest in any way they can be because reality does not suit them. They cannot afford to be honest. That the reality about them does not suit them is what makes them Leftist. A Leftist IS a disgruntled person and they will put any gloss they can on that disgruntlement. "Idealism" and "compassion" are just flimsy false fronts. Any false front will do. They sometimes even claim that they "support the troops"! What a laugh!

I have been working on the next installment of my Cultural Insanity series and it is on the way, but since posting the first part I have seen something related to it that I would like to report as a separate post. Frankly, I have been a little distracted by monitoring the response to my first Cultural Insanity post; after all although I was trained as an anthropologist and not unfamiliar with psychological theory, in making the analogy between a personality disorder and two very different cultural sub-groups, I was treading on somewhat unfamiliar ground.

I was elated when ShrinkWrapped, a psych-blogger whom I respect enormously picked up on my ideas and posted a not unsupportive discussion of it mixing in material fro Dr. Sanity and Victor Davis Hanson. of it.

A day or so later Solomonia put up a post citing the video of a classic television confrontation between Ayaan Hirsi Ali and “an anti-American Canadian interviewer”, Avi Lewis of Canadian Television.

Lewis, in this clip, personifies the smug, self satisfied, passive aggressive argumentation style of the “progressive left”. But the very slickness of his approach combined with the emptiness of his arguments alerted me to something that I had never realized before about the way they argue. I saw immediately that I had identified another aspect of the psychological blindness that the lefties and Islamists have in common. It points back to my original diagnosis of Borderline Personality.

… They (the left and the Islamists) focus, as Avi Lewis does in this interview,on picking out isolated examples of widely disapproved of, squalid and reprehensible behaviors from Israel, America and The West (as when Lewis says “they shoot abortion doctors in the US”)and insisting that they are proof that we, as nations and a civilization, are not living up to our high ideals. Thus Israel, The U.S. and the west is held to account for an idealized, utopian standard of perfection without margin for error. The fact (and they never stoop to dispute the fact) that Israel, America and the west in general are far better in comparison to the rest of the (far more squalid and reprehensible) real world is avoided when possible and brushed off as rationalization when unavoidable. In the event that it is pointed out forcefully that the rest of the world is so much less democratic and desirable and that it is always an option to leave and that no one leaves- in fact, America is still the great magnet of immigration it has always been as Hirsi Ali does here the leftist will always shift the subject. Lewis counterattacks with a jocular but passive aggressive suggestion that she must have had to go to a special school to learn “these American clich‚s” as part of her application process”. This begs the question which Hirsi Ali asks this dope- "why don't you and your leftist friends go somewhere else?" Naturally, they'll never admit it but there IS no other place that they could tolerate and there is certainly very few that would tolerate them.

For the sake of accuracy I must point out that what I described in the last three sentences above did not occur as I first described it in that comment. What Hirsi Ali actually said was that she did not believe Lewis’ description of the plight of Muslim Americans was nearly as dire as Lewis described it to be. And she offered the opinion that if they were truly feeling under siege that they would do what other people all over the world have done when they have felt to be under siege, they would move away. She pointed out that there is no such population movement as this taking place and that there would not be. The first time through I had thought that I heard this exchange to include a challenge to Lewis on why he persists in living in a western country. I was mistaken. I believe that if she had made that challenge, the exchange would have gone much as I outlined it.

After seeing this post and responding to it in the comment stream I continued to reflect on this new insight into this essential similarity in tactics between the Islamists and the left. It was beginning to occur to me that there was something else, something deeper that I had not reached yet.

Meanwhile, for two days the comment trail on ShrinkWrapped’s post had been quite supportive- until someone with the screen name copithorne wrote a comment using a tactic out of the same family. Since I quote copithorne’s full comment in my reply I’ll let my reply speak for both…

A two sentence fisking:

copithorne says:

"Diatribes about "the left" in which no "leftist" appears -- no quotes, no policy positions -- are expressions of projection of a disowned shadow."

I say:

Leftists who don't bother to read a sincere analysis thoroughly enough to observe that it actually began with a live example of a leftist argument and then label such analysis as “diatribe” are intentionally projecting their own aggressive rejection of discourse on the conservative analyzer. It is not necessary (in informed and reasonable circles) to have exhaustive actual quotes of Hitler’s hate speech to know that he was a genocidal anti-Semite. It is not generally in question that Lenin and Stalin tried to institute a paradise of the workers by slaughtering, starving and persecuting them in their millions. Just so, if characterizations of the left hit their mark and sting to the degree that the only feasible defense seems to be a trivial
pettifogging by attacking the lack of “quotes” and “policy positions” it means that he has no real rebuttal for the characterizations themselves. It is a disingenuous trial lawyer’s trick to subvert meaningful point/counter point with meaningless "discovery” of inconsequential minutia. Note that he neither actually points to a faulty idea nor does he contradict anything ShrinkWrapped, Dr. Sanity, VDH or I say. If there is a disowned shadow in the neighborhood I say copithorne might do well to look and see if it’s connected to his own feet.

copithorne says:

This currently seems to be the total sum of contemporary conservative politics -- the appeal of having enemies on which a person can project material of which they are unable to be self-aware.

I say:

Who is projecting here? All I see is customary leftist rejection of all contradiction to his “ideas” on any technicality no matter how flimsy or arbitrary. It’s the pedant’s refuge, rejecting the student’s ideas and labor because they are beyond him with the
stinking hypocrisy that his footnotes are in the wrong format and his bibliography is not long enough.

So, up to this point, I have been concentrating on understanding how this method worked on a practical level. Now I had begun to see clearly that it was not just intentional blindness to (and twisting of) the the reality of the situation but, in fact, reflected the selective vision of splitting and dissociation. Assuming the unearned and undeserved position of moral, spiritual and intellectual superiority they are not open to dialog but insist on ignoring what we say and either “correcting our papers” or rejecting our thoughts and ideas on technicalities.

Then, on the blog Cuanas, I found another posting of the Lewis/Hirsi Ali interview with this comment posted by a fellow named Irfan Yusuf.

Irfan Yusuf said...

So let me get this right. This woman has little or no knowledge of the varieties of religion or communities she criticizes (apart from her own Somali upbringing).

She was caught by the Dutch telling lies to gain migration status. She told Ian Buruma that she committed "immigration fraud".

And now the Americans are lapping her up as some kind of long last(sp) daughter. Had she not been so anti-Muslim, you'd have tossed her in immigration detention yourself, if not in Guantanamo Bay (heck, her name is "Ali" and that's a common Ayrab (sp) terrorist name, isn't it?).

I can't wait to see how your evangelical conservatives behave when you realize (sp) she is pro-abortion and wants those teaching creation science to be thrown into prison.

What I see here is more like squirming to keep from seeing the truth. At a loss to prove Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrong or even mistaken about anything, Irfan does a crazy little Islamic tattletale dance (oooh, look she is a baaaad girl! Don’t talk to her! Don’t listen to her!) while at the same time accusing us of being blindly anti-Muslim. Here is the answer I posted:

Mr Yusf, exactly how much do you have to know about a bunch of communities in which the leaders and the apparent majority of the citizens consider anyone who worships a different God less human, practice honor killing, celebrate the killing of innocents in terror attacks and vow to make the entire earth into a Caliphate where everyone will be subject to the terror of Islamofascism in order to be qualified to criticize them? Something tells me that when her co-filmmaker and friend Theo Van Gogh was butchered in the streets for the film they made together and a threat against her was pinned to him with the murder weapon she earned the asylum of the United States of America.

If you think a technicality like a lie she told in order to insure her own escape from the hell of living under Islamic rule is going to persuade us to think less well of her you are even more blinded by your cultural disease than most of your compatriots. It’s pathetic that you write it as though we might think that it invalidates what she says and writes. Is that all you've got?

I should also have pointed out to Mr Yusuf that even if some of the more literal minded Christian evangelicals do not find her positions on abortion and evolution to be in agreement with theirs, they will issue no fatwas calling for her death, neither will they justify trying to treat her as a second-class citizen for it. Oh well, he wasn't really listening anyway...

I have been trying to pull this all together in my mind and, in the end, I keep remembering a short, pathetic little comment on ShrinkWrapped’s post that I had ignored as twaddle at first. The commentor’s screen name is Post Hole Digger, which I assume means he is a PhD in something.

Huh, here I thought that what I wanted was to see a world of peace and kindness,and to do toward others as I would want done toward me. I am now ashamed to admit, but I even thought that was actually a good thing. But now you explain that I'm really just insane. Instead of virtues, I have a grave psycho/emotional dysfunction. I just never realized.
This is not twaddle, it is the cry of a lost soul. Post Hole Digger is right, only his sarcasm is misplaced. Both Islamism and Leftism are attempts to see a world of peace and kindness. That is very nice to say but the unfortunate fact is that this is not a world of peace and kindness. There is no such world. This is a world that contains peace and kindness along with hatred, love, avarice, generosity, violence and cruelty. Both Leftism and Islamism are nothing more than ideologies that pretend to be able to control and rationalize the unfathomable complexity of life.

To anyone not enmeshed in their borderline systems the actual out come of their utopian schemes, proven out in the past, is obvious.

The Islamists would have their Caliphate where everyone and everything would submit to the will of Allah. That sounds OK until you ask who is interpreting Allah’s will for us. As it has turned out in the past, it has most often been the most bloodthirsty political infighter or conqueror capable of rising to the top of the Shari a system who has gotten to say what’s on Allah’s mind. The best that The Caliphate has been able to offer in the past has been the more moderate, slightly less megalomaniacal son or grandson of the deceased bloodthirsty political infighter or conqueror.

As for the poor, deluded lefties like PHD, they are destined to be frustrated by their efforts to help their fellow man. But for all their talk about equality, sharing, peace, love and understanding, if put to the test of leadership, they would, like all other leftist/socialists who have ascended to leadership (Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Hitler, Pol Pot, etc…) turn to violence, coercion and despotism out of their exasperated zeal to reform humanity against its wishes and nature. It is not insane to do toward others as one would want done toward one's self- that is a great moral principal- but it is insane to assume that others are on the same program and have the same vision of what is good.

Australia: Leftist Catholic Bishops' pious but ignorant blather about blacks

By Christopher Pearson

A FEW years ago I had a conversation with a friend who was just about to be made a Catholic bishop. He was apprehensive, he said, because almost without exception the process of gaining a mitre involved a sudden loss of brains and backbone. He felt reasonably confident it had always been a problem, but that the Australian church was in a particularly parlous condition. Happily, he shows no signs of spinelessness to date, nor has he lost his sense of humour. Several of his brother bishops also display some capacity for wit and judgment. While no one pretends they are by any stretch of the imagination an illustrious body of men, as individuals they are often quite rational and well-adjusted. It's when they act as a group that most of them make fools of themselves.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference is an organisation philistine enough to have dispensed with the apostrophe in its name, in much the same way that Catholic education has resolved not to teach its charges the rudiments of grammar. To visit its website is to enter a twilight world of dullards; a clerical and lay bureaucracy that exists principally to issue press releases about itself and its doings. As you'd expect, its self-importance and delusions of omnicompetence know no bounds.

I have often had occasion of late to comment on the antics of social justice operatives on the clerical Left. The St Vincent de Paul Society's absurd posture on welfare reform comes to mind, along with episcopal pronouncements on Work Choices that might as well have been scripted by Hawker Britton, federal Labor's chief spin doctors. Then again, Catholic Health Australia head Francis Sullivan gave a ringing endorsement to Medicare Gold just as the wheels were falling off Mark Latham's campaign in 2004.

In each case there was a crude attempt to enlist Catholicism into party politics. St Vinnies quasi-Marxist rhetoric never betrayed the least understanding of the dangers of passive welfare or that keeping the minimum wage relatively low led to the creation of many more entry-level positions. Anti-Work Choices diatribes from the bishops invariably take the side of lower-paid workers, but at the expense of the unemployed, and never seem to grasp how it is that people are priced out of a job. Sullivan's enthusiasm for Medicare Gold blinded him to how unaffordable it was and the ways it distorted health priorities on the basis of age rather than need, but at this distance I suppose it may charitably be classed as a sudden rush of blood to the head.

No such excuse can be made for the latest outrage, a statement issued by the bishops' conference on July 7 on the federal Government's intervention in remote Aboriginal communities. Their lordships had more than a fortnight to think about the moral and legal niceties before delivering a considered opinion. Instead they appear to have delegated the task to an ideologically driven subcommittee. The statement says, among other things: "The response must be designed and implemented so as to support, rather than undermine, the future sustainability of remote Aboriginal communities. Talk of 'mainstreaming' calls to mind the following warning about the dangers of 'ethnocentricity'. The rejection of differences can lead to that form of cultural annihilation (that) sociologists have called 'ethnocide' and (that) does not tolerate the presence ofothers except to the extent that they allowthemselves to be assimilated to the dominant culture."

The Uniting Church, Wesley Mission and the National Council of Churches had already criticised the federal Government's intervention. The statement was simply a sign of solidarity from the Catholic wing of the wet Left. The nifty quote about ethnocide from a dusty 1988 document The Church and Racism, care of the Pontifical Commission on Justice and Peace, was a way of upping the ante. One battle-scarred insider explained it to me as a case of "the theology of the meaningless gesture, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing".

Potential ethnocide or cultural genocide is not a charge to be levelled lightly at a government; at least not if the body doing the accusing wants to continue to be taken seriously. Can their lordships have forgotten (or perhaps not noticed) that the Howard Government's intervention enjoys the support of federal Labor, all the state governments, even the Northern Territory Labor government and Aboriginal leaders such as Labor's former party president Warren Mundine, Noel Pearson and National Indigenous Council head Sue Gordon?

Gordon, a magistrate of great experience, recently commented on the problems of an estimated 1000 remote communities with less than 100 members: "Many settlements consist of a few families who've regained access to traditional land through recognition of land rights. We don't believe the Government should be funding communities of less than 100 people. We can't put a school in every remote area. It's just too costly."

Thirty years ago most Australian Catholic bishops had a good grounding in the business of providing parochial schools in remote areas. No one at the time could have accused them of indifference to the pastoral needs ofscattered flocks, but they were hard-headed pragmatists who did their best with limited resources. The present generation seems to imagine any indigenous group, regardless of size and location, is entitled to First World standard schooling and that anything less is potentially a form of cultural annihilation.

Gordon is the head of the Government's NT taskforce and it's safe to say that she would not have lent her considerable authority to the intervention unless she had been convinced the Howard Government was serious about making it work. A lawyer by training, she has repeatedly defended ad hoc measures, including taking control of remote settlements for the next five years, promoting 99-year leases to encourage economic development and private home ownership, and compensation on just terms where land is being taken back into public ownership. She has rejected point-blank claims that the federal plan is a smokescreen for another stolen generation or a land grab or a stealthy attempt to mine Aboriginal sites for uranium.

The bishops' conference statement assumes native title is a self-evident good that should be regarded as sacrosanct rather than the weakest and least fungible form of property right. It also lends credence to the land grab hypothesis. "The Government needs to demonstrate why action to address child abuse in Aboriginal communities requires amendments to land rights and self-government legislation."

On the same day as their lordships' ill- considered response, Pearson wrote a long, trenchant column in Inquirer. He, too, is a lawyer with extensive experience in land rights negotiations, a long-time admirer of the Keating government who'd know a land grab if he saw one. "This is my two-step reasoning for supporting intervention," Pearson wrote. "The first step is that you have to know what happens in these communities, week in, week out. Urban-based critics simply do not know the realities. Neither did 90 per cent of Australia until recently. There is now no excuse because there has been a major expose and official report in almost every jurisdiction. The second step is that once you have knowledge of the realities, you must find their continuation unacceptable. Therefore you support intervention."

On the question of land he had this to say: "If political circumstances became such that we were forced to prioritise, I would place social order ahead of land rights. Of course the land problem is being overstated. I have constantly asserted that the Howard Government's one failing in indigenous policy is that it has Tourette syndrome on some ideological questions. I find the land provisions more clumsy or ill-conceived from the point of view of workability than undermining land rights. If there is a land grab, then it is principally being grabbed for the benefit of Aboriginal families obtaining private leasehold title for housing or businesses."

When it comes to assessing the takeover of remote communities in the NT, the public will take far more notice of Gordon and Pearson than the bishops' conference because they know what they're talking about. If the bishops ever wonder why their authority is steadily dwindling, they'd do well to consider this latest foolishness and take steps to dissociate themselves from any group statement they haven't read and don't wholeheartedly support.



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 July, 2007

The reality of Australia's "noble savages"

Note first the Rousseauian description of Aboriginal life by pathetic Australian Leftist Robert Manne:

"not an Edenic but an enchanted world, in the technical sense of the sociologist Max Weber. They discovered an intricate social order in which, through the kinship structure, every human being had a precise and acknowledged place. They discovered a world that was filled with economic purpose; leavened by playfulness, joy and humour; soaked in magic, sorcery, mystery and ritual; pregnant at every moment with deep and unquestioned meaning."

That wet dream was a fantasy about Aboriginal life before the white man came. Compare it with the reality today described below. Note that the description below is of the situation in Aboriginal settlements where Aborigines are again free to run their own lives in their own way -- in the "playful" way described by Manne if they so choose

Cockroaches and dead flies are being syringed out of the ears of Aboriginal children in remote Western Australia and their hearing is so poor that some are being educated by loudspeakers. At Balgo, in the northeastern reaches of the Great Sandy Desert and 100 km from the Northern Territory border, 85 per cent of school-age children cannot hear properly, leading to learning difficulties and social disadvantage.

Backing up a Productivity Commission report showing that hearing problems among indigenous children are three times as high as those of white kids, local doctor Nicolette deZoete said the problem was often detected when an infant was four to six weeks old. Like trachoma - the eye disease that plagues many Aboriginal communities - chronic hearing disorders were preventable, she said. "Because these kids don't have a strong immune system when they're born, combined with the health environment in which they find themselves from day one, the problem keeps on recurring, even after we clean it up," she said. "The ears of kids around here are chronically full of pus. It may be fixed in two weeks, but then they go back to their houses, where 12 or 16 people may live, they sleep on the same blanket that the dog does, and - what a surprise - they're having the same problems all over again."

These problems manifest themselves in the child's development from toddler to adolescent, as they try to learn English as their second or third language. "Quite often they can't even hear what's being taught," Dr deZoete said. Teachers at Balgo's Catholic school use loudspeakers to get their messages across to the 110 school-age children in the community.

Child health nurse Robyn Smythe, who has been running infant health programs at the outpost for three years, said locals' immune systems were low because underweight babies were born to smoking, drinking mothers, a significant proportion of them under 16. Some mothers had arrived at the community clinic the day they gave birth so their understanding of pre- and post-natal care was almost non-existent, she said. "By the time the child is 18 months, it's often up to them to find their own food," Ms Smythe said. "Quite often it's survival of the fittest."

Dr deZoete said the problem was environmental health. "Wouldn't it be smarter, simpler and cheaper to sort out the environmental health issues so they didn't get sick in the first place?" she said.

The above article by Tony Barrass appeared in "The Australian" on July 21, 2007

Muslim rapists must get special protection from capture

A police force withdrew plans for a televised appeal to help catch an Afghan suspected of sexually assaulting women after a race watchdog warned that it might spark a violent backlash.

The decision to cancel the appeal was criticised by victim support organisations. Yvonne Traynor, of the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre, said the case set a dangerous precedent. "I think that everybody is so afraid of being labelled a racist that no one's taking into consideration the crimes that have allegedly been committed here," she said. "The fact that this man was originally from Afghanistan is beside the point. The police obviously need to be sensitive to issues of race, but they also need to be able to get on with their jobs."

Sonia Francis-Mills, the director of the Devon Racial Equality Council, said police officers had been angered when she asked them to withdraw from Manhunt, which profiled 10 of the country's most wanted criminals. "I don't think they were happy," she said. "In the end it had to go to the Chief Constable to make the decision. I think the police often just want to feel collars. "If they had contacted us earlier we may have been able to help track him down through people within the community." She said previous public appeals for information on the case had led to ethnic minority taxi drivers in Exeter, where Seddiqi was suspected of committing the crimes, being subjected to verbal and physical abuse.

Mr Otter, a former chief superintendent in the Metropolitan Police, is known to be sensitive to issues of race since the publication of a book, Not One of Us, documented his falling out with the Iranian officer Ali Dizaei.

A CRE spokesman said it was not policy to stop the police from televising appeals for information and the racial equality council had acted independently. "If it is relevant to the investigation, we don't have a problem with the police describing people's skin colour and or ethnicity," she said.

Seddiqi went on the run in January. His alleged victims got into taxis in Exeter between October 2005 and October 2006. Formerly a resident of Wonford, Exeter, he was arrested on Nov 12 last year over the alleged offences. The four alleged victims were all in their 20s and 30s. They had been drinking when they got lifts in a taxi. Devon and Cornwall police confirmed that they were still searching for Seddiqi but declined to comment further. Police say that Seddiqi may go by other names. He is 5ft 10in tall and slim


Arrogant Australian lawyers show their contempt for democracy

THE political war between much of the legal profession and the Howard Government is now open and unconcealed as barristers and the bench resort to leaking, lecturing and campaigning against the executive and the parliament. This is a deadly contest, fuelled over many years but growing more bitter over the anti-terrorist security laws. It is a war the legal profession is destined to lose because of its flawed intellectual position, its engulfing hubris and the ultimate reluctance of the Australian people to accept the legal polemic about the threat to our democracy.

The bedrock view of the lawyers' rebellion is their refusal to accept the legitimacy of executive action based on statute and invoking the national interest. Insisting they know better, the lawyers offer themselves as saviours of civil liberties (but not necessarily saviours of the best interests of their clients).

The case involving Mohamed Haneef has exposed the fracture in dramatic terms. His barrister, Stephen Keim, has become a part-time political operative, defiant in going to the media, seeking to sway public opinion and casting himself in an epic encounter "that could affect the lives of our grandchildren". Yes, that's what the barrister told the ABC's Lateline before taunting the Prime Minister and the federal police to "come and grab me" if they dare, revealing he was "very passionate" about the issue and dismissing any need to consult either his client or solicitors before providing the media with the 142-page transcript of Haneef's interview with the Australian Federal Police. Verily, any defendant would beg for the services of such an advocate.

This is a guise all too tedious: the lawyer as political hero. What good it will do his client Haneef (or how much it damages the defence case) is not clear. It is, however, a reminder of the David Hicks saga. As explained by journalist Leigh Sales in her recent book, while John Howard could have brought Hicks's suffering to an end, so could his own lawyers by striking a plea bargain three years earlier. They didn't. Their aim was to wage a political campaign to break Howard's will and force his complete backdown over Hicks. It failed.

This week Melbourne barrister Robert Richter QC identified the Howard Government as being guilty of terrorist-type tactics. "This is a terrorist threat to our legal system," he told the ABC of ministerial actions. "Not by the terrorists, but by (Philip) Ruddock and his cohorts." Assume this is a considered view. Lest anybody suspect Richter was in a minority, Australian Bar Association president Stephen Estcourt branded the cancellation of Haneef's visa "a cynical exercise" that "constitutes an assault on the rule of law". That's all.

This paper quoted Estcourt as saying that "disquiet is pretty universal" among lawyers. He was reported saying that thousands of lawyers were deeply concerned about the Howard Government's actions. There is no reason to doubt such extraordinary claims. The lawyers are mobilising against executive tyranny. Observe that only a fortnight ago former chief justice Gerard Brennan critiqued the Government's anti-terror laws at a Sydney conference. Brennan complained that the definition of a terrorist act related to the motive of advancing "a political, religious or ideological cause". This seems, at face value, an accurate portrait of the threat. But Brennan argued that motive added nothing to the criminality of the act and might "easily be misunderstood as targeting the entire group who wish to advance the religious cause of Islam".

Brennan slammed the detention powers as a "remarkable infringement on a person's common-law rights". Such an expansion of executive power was undertaken without sufficient safeguards, the defect being "to transfer the protection of individual liberty from the judicial to the executive branch of government".

Brennan's remarks are illuminating. They make the pivotal issue one of power between executive and judiciary. His clear implication is that public acceptance of the laws cannot validate this defect nor make it acceptable. Such laws were passed on the votes of the Coalition and Labor. It is noteworthy that Labor has supported the Howard Government's action over Haneef. Labor's shadow immigration minister Tony Burke has been supportive but silent.

The message is that the executive-judiciary struggle is entrenched beyond party politics. It will endure under a Labor government but without the special venom that marks the profession's attitude towards Howard and Attorney-General Ruddock. Indeed, it may be some time before the legal lions liken Kevin Rudd's government to terrorists. But it will happen.

A comic footnote in this 11-year contest was provided by Melbourne barrister Julian Burnside, who told the Future Summit in May that Australia should introduce a law making it an offence for politicians to lie. Burnside's idea won rapturous applause. He said it could be modelled on the misleading and deceptive conduct provision of the Trade Practices Act. Yes, he conceded it would mean more by-elections, but the public was sick of politicians lying. "If there were the possibility of going to jail" then the politicians might change their ways, he suggested.

This is the ultimate lawyer fantasy: being able to put politicians in jail for dishonesty in the conduct of their duties. Imagine the trials, fit only for barristers as heroes. One example Burnside gave was Howard's previous global warming policy. He said the big turnaround "in the past six months is just the best demonstration that they have been lying up to now". Howard, for better or worse, might have thought his climate change stance was about advancing Australia's interest. Poor fool. Burnside knows the truth: Howard was lying all the time. Don't worry about children overboard if you can jail him for global warming.

Such hyperbole has value. It reveals the depth of delusion and mad hubris beating at the heart of this legal culture. The lawyers are weak on political science. Influenced by the feeble and defective analysis of Australian governance, they actually believe the Howard Government has suppressed dissent, corrupted the political system and destroyed accountability, and they see themselves as the last line of defence.

The Government's main problem has been incompetence feeding declining public trust. This goes to the real issue involved in Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews's decision this week to revoke Haneef's visa. This is a ministerial power created by the parliament that vests obligations on the minister. The power is used frequently in the public interest to remove from the nation visa holders who have had associations with criminal conduct. It is usually invoked for resident non-citizens who have served jail time for an offence. It is a necessary executive power made more necessary by the terrorist threat. What is different this time is the situation in which Andrews used the power.

The legal establishment says that because a court process was under way, Andrews should not have acted and that he has prejudiced a fair trial. This is by no means clear since different criteria are involved. The test Andrews had to apply was only that of reasonable suspicion. The test for conviction at a trial is guilt beyond reasonable doubt. They are, of course, quite different tests.

The lawyers, it seems, will say almost anything to tear down executive action. Witness the claim that Andrews is really trying to get a conviction in court and the claim that Andrews is motivated merely by politics and not genuine concerns. (It is by no means obvious that Andrews's action helps the Government win votes.) Andrews's decision is reviewable at both administrative and judicial levels. He can revise his decision if the evidence changes, and the courts can also review his decision.

Nobody would argue the Government has not made a mess of the situation. The problem with Andrews's decision is that he cancelled a visa but cannot immediately deport Haneef. The deeper problem will come if Andrews and the AFP are found to have relied on false information. Haneef's has become a case study in the collapse of trust between lawyers and the executive. Australia's anti-terror laws are now hostage to both executive incompetence and the political campaign against them waged by much of the legal profession.



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 July, 2007

Deborah Lipstadt on holocaust denial

When an editor at the Washington Post heard that I oppose laws criminalising Holocaust and, by extension, genocide denial, he observed: `Now that's a "man bites dog" story.' His surprise is shared by many people who hear my view. These folks expect that, given the six-year legal battle to which British historian David Irving subjected me for calling him a Holocaust denier, I would be a strong proponent for such laws. The legal battle was exceptionally costly and it seriously disrupted my life.

Irving and his fellow deniers are liars and falsifiers of truth when it comes to the Holocaust and even to other aspects of history - for example, the bombing of Dresden. This alone makes some people think his outrageous claims should be outlawed.

Regarding Irving, who seems to me to love to say the outrageous, and his version of so-called history, the judge who presided over our legal battle - Judge Charles Gray - was unambiguous. In his judgment he used the following terms: `perverts', `distorts', `misleading', `unjustified', `travesty', and `unreal', and said his `falsification of the historical record was deliberate'.

So why not silence Irving and his compatriots? First of all, I believe in free speech. In the United States, the First Amendment guarantees people a right to make total fools of themselves. Sometimes it is painful to hear, but I would rather they had the freedom to say what they wished than the government had the power to control them.

Furthermore, I do not believe that laws against denial are strategically wise. They tend to make martyrs of the accused, arousing sympathy for them. They also render the item which has been outlawed `forbidden fruit'. Thus it becomes more enticing and appealing to certain segments of society - disaffected youth, for example.

Most importantly, however, genocide denial laws suggest that we do not have the facts and the documentation to prove that these people are liars. We defeated David Irving in court not with law but with facts. We followed his footnotes and demonstrated that, in the words of Professor Richard Evans, Irving's work on the Holocaust was a `tissue of lies'.

Our defeat of Irving is a far more powerful commentary on his work because it is rooted in the facts and did not occur under the cover of a general law outlawing Holocaust denial. I was, of course, quite lucky in that I had a magnificent legal team and group of historical experts. The effort was long and quite costly. (Though certainly not as costly as David Irving likes to claim it was. I recently spotted an estimate of six million dollars on his webpage. Notice, of course, his choice of number. This is complete fiction and his form of ridicule.) I was able to mount a vigorous defence. Irving's reputation as a person with something of value to say about the Holocaust was left in tatters. Ironically, none of this would have happened had the UK had laws outlawing Holocaust denial.

I shudder at the thought that politicians might be given the power to legislate history. They can hardly fix the potholes in our streets. How can we expect them to decide what is the proper version of history?

Let me add two caveats. I believe quite strongly that those who engage in incitement - which is often the object of denial - and lead others to engage in acts of violence should not be granted a shield of protection by the law. Some people throw stones. Others use words to encourage people to throw stones. Both are equally guilty.

Secondly, I fully understand why countries such as Germany and Austria, the countries which spawned the Holocaust, would have laws against Holocaust denial. The geographic context in which something is said is of crucial importance. The swastika or denial of the Holocaust has a different resonance in Atlanta than it does in Berlin or Vienna.

I know this may be inconsistent, but I am reminded of what the American essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote many years ago: `A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.'

I write this from Sarajevo. Today, a professor, who happens to be a Serb, told me that she believes laws against genocide denial are necessary in this region: denying the horrors that took place here in the mid-1990s should be illegal, at least for the near future. She argued that this is a region in which the `rule of law' has never been imposed justly, fairly, and democratically. A law outlawing denial of the genocide and crimes against humanity which occurred in this region would give people that faith and prevent them from trying to find other ways of seeking justice.

I don't agree with these positions; however, I recognise that I say these things in the luxury of my American university or, as I will on Monday evening, in the confines of London's Institute of Contemporary Arts. It can be different when one has an `up close and personal' perspective on these outrages. Ultimately, our objective should be to create a society where denial of genocide is seen as so outrageous and so despicable that anyone who engages in it would be rendered a pariah.


'You don't fight a tactic'

Dr. Yaron Brook, 46, speaks and carries himself like a Rand hero. His facial features are angular, his demeanor self-confident. His language is principled, logical, certain, fired by moral passion, replete with absolute terms: good and evil, right and wrong, defeat and victory. He has a slight lisp, which is easily overshadowed by the controversial and harsh words that roll off his tongue.....

After serving in the army and receiving his BA from the Technion, he took off for the US. "Israel is small, but with its socialist policy, ridiculous political system, constant external threats, I didn't think it was the place I could make the most of my life," Brook said. He went on to receive a PhD in finance and taught finance for seven years at Santa Clara University while running his own consulting firm and a company that organized objectivist conferences. He became head of the Ayn Rand Institute in 2001.

September 11 marked a turning point for ARI, which saw itself in a unique position to defend America morally and intellectually. Brook's Israeli background, along with Israel's struggles with terror, made the Jewish state an even more popular topic on the institute's agenda. Brook has lectured at numerous US college campuses, often under tight security, appeared numerous times on Fox and CNBC, and is emerging as one of the most outspoken voices when it comes to the "War on Terror," a title, Brook says, that already dooms the West to failure.

"You don't fight a tactic," he said in his talk. "Terrorism is a tactic, and I believe we have to look at the ideological source of terrorism in order to identify the true enemy." He defines this source as Islamic totalitarianism, which he describes as an expansionist philosophy that seeks to spread Islam by the sword, but he thinks that the enemy's identity has been blurred or ignored by government leaders and the intelligentsia.

"We don't have the guts, the courage, the self-esteem to even identify who the enemy is. We couch it in terms of terrorists who happen to be Muslims who are 'hijacking a great religion.' We're afraid to say 'Islamic anything': Islamic fascism, totalitarianism, whatever you want to call it." The fear stems, he said, from the academic trend of multiculturalism, in which all cultures are morally equal, and moral relativism, in which "anything goes" in human behavior.

But, he said, the most damaging idea to the cause of the West is the opposite of Rand's virtue of selfishness: altruism, which Rand didn't define as good-hearted kindness and generosity, but as the idea that one must sacrifice his own interests for the sake of others. Altruism, said Brook, leads to pacifism because "self-defense is a very selfish act. It's a very self-interested act to defend one's own life, especially in war."

Brook argues that this form of altruism goads both America and Israel to wage "compassionate wars": for the American army to build sewers instead of ruthlessly bombing terrorist targets, and for the IDF to send food into Gaza instead of troops and tanks. With such an altruistic approach, Brook says, Israel is setting itself up for defeat.

"There's a whole generation of post-Zionist professors who've been writing for the past 20, 30 years, here in Israel, how this country was founded on original sin," Brook said in his talk. "[They say] there's no basis for this country; there's no moral reason why this country should exist. We've exploited; we've stolen; we've taken from peaceful people. It's our fault for all these problems. When that's the center of your focus, when you're filled with self-doubt, when you don't believe that your values are better than anyone else's, you cannot fight. You cannot win.

"I believe victory is possible, it just takes something we're not willing to do." That "something," he said confidently, is to wage war with little restraint and without apology against Islamic totalitarianism. "Israel should plan and execute a systematic invasion of Gaza in which its goal is to wipe out the political and military leadership and infrastructure of Hamas, and to do so systematically and brutally. It needs to send a message to the world, to the Muslim population of the world, to Palestinians in the West Bank, that Israel will not tolerate a terrorist state at its border and would not tolerate the existence of an organization like Hamas."

What about international opinion? "The issue of Israel's survival is at stake, so the choice, I believe, is between the world loving us and we're dead or the world hating us for a while but we survive and thrive and we live. You cannot make life-or-death choices based on other people's opinions of you. You have to make choices on what you believe is necessary for your survival, your success." "If you want to win, innocents will die. There is no way to get around it. There was no war in which innocents didn't die, and there won't be. At the end of the day, the question is whose 'innocents.' Ours or theirs? If we have pride, self-respect, we have to protect our own innocents."

HE CONCEDES the validity of Jews banding together in the face of the collective threat of anti-Semitism, but in his essay "The Rise and Decline of Israel" he argued that the Jewish state's collectivist and religious basis, socialist Zionism, has sown the seeds for its own downfall. "Zionism fused a valid concern - self-preservation amid a storm of hostility - with a toxic premise - ethnically based collectivism and religion," he wrote. Socialist Zionism, he said, also led to the Oslo Accords, through which Israel agreed to set up another ethnically and religiously based state along its border, despite it being headed by a proven terrorist. "Here was a man [Yasser Arafat] who represents a suffering people, an ethnic group that sought to make its claim for statehood a reality. How could Israel say no? Wasn't it similar to - and so just as legitimate as - the claim of the Jews?"

Given objectivism's capitalistic ideal of private property, he opposes government confiscation of private Arab land for Jewish settlement as much as he opposes the notion of "public land" - Arab or Jewish. Yet he regards the settlements as security - and moral - buffers; they are a test of the Palestinian's true intentions. "If the [Palestinians] really want peace why do they want settlements dismantled?" Brook said. "Why wouldn't they say we want a Palestinian state and we want these Jews to stay here and live as full citizens of the Palestinian state? They're productive individuals, they create jobs, they bring a wealth of knowledge. If Palestinians are about ethnic cleansing, getting rid of Jews so that the Palestinian state is pure, then they're not ready for peace, and Israel should not make peace with them."

Given his strong opposition to evacuating settlements, one might guess that the right-wing settlers are natural allies for objectivists. Editorials of the Ayn Rand Institute have been published in such right-wing outlets as Arutz 7.

But Brook disagrees. "I think their whole basis for agreeing with me is corrupt and wrong. Most settlers agree with me for religious reasons. They believe it's some kind of Holy Land that God promised them. The rest of their analysis is derived from that premise, not from a true, rational observation of reality. I think the logic of 'God promised this and gave me this' is one that can only lead to bloodshed and war. I don't think people who have that approach can come up with solutions to deal with the threat."



By Jeff Jacoby

Have you heard about the religious fundamentalist who wanted to teach physics at Cambridge? This would-be instructor wasn't simply a Christian; he was so preoccupied with biblical prophecy that he wrote a book titled Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John. Based on his reading of Daniel, in fact, he forecast the date of the Apocalypse: no earlier than 2060. He also calculated the year the world was created. When Genesis 1:1 says "In the beginning," he determined, it means 3988 BC.

Not many modern universities are prepared to employ a science professor who espouses not merely "intelligent design" but out-and-out divine creation. This applicant's writings on astronomy, for example, include these thoughts on the solar system: "This most beautiful system of sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and domination of an intelligent and powerful Being . . . He governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done."

Hire somebody with such views to teach physics? At a Baptist junior college deep in the Bible Belt, maybe, but the faculty would erupt if you tried it just about anywhere else. Many of them would echo Oxford's Richard Dawkins, the prominent evolutionary biologist, who writes in The God Delusion that he is "hostile to fundamentalist religion because it actively debauches the scientific enterprise. . . . It subverts science and saps the intellect."

Equally blunt is Sam Harris, a PhD candidate in neuroscience and another unsparing foe of religion. "The conflict between religion and science is inherent and (very nearly) zero-sum," he writes in an essay whose title -- "Science Must Destroy Religion" -- makes clear the antipathy with which many modern scientists regard religious faith. "The success of science often comes at the expense of religious dogma; the maintenance of religious dogma always comes at the expense of science."

Less elegant but more influential, the National Science Education Standards issued by the National Academy of Sciences in 1995 classified religion with "myths," "mystical inspiration," and "superstition" -- all of them quite incompatible with scientific study. Michael Dini, a biologist at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, made headlines in 2003 over his policy of denying letters of recommendation for any graduate student who could not "truthfully and forthrightly affirm a scientific answer" to the question of mankind's origin. Science and religion, he said in an interview at the time, "shouldn't overlap."

But such considerations didn't keep Cambridge from hiring the theology- and Bible-drenched individual described above. Indeed, it named him to the prestigious Lucasian Chair of Mathematics -- in 1668. And a good thing too, since Isaac Newton -- notwithstanding his religious fervor and intense interest in Biblical interpretation -- went on to become the most renowned scientist of his age, and arguably the most influential in history.


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 July, 2007

Another crooked British "public service" broadcaster

TO LIVE up to his public image of a rugged, ex-SAS adventurer, it must have seemed essential for Bear Grylls to appear at ease sleeping rough and catching his own food in his television survival series. But it has emerged that Grylls, 33, was enjoying a far more conventional form of comfort, retreating some nights from filming in mountains and on desert islands to nearby lodges and hotels. Now Channel 4 has launched an investigation into whether Grylls, who has conquered Everest and the Arctic, deceived the public in his series Born Survivor.

The series, screened in March and April and watched by 1.4m viewers, built up Grylls's credentials as a tough outdoorsman. In a question and answer session on Channel 4's website, he recalls how station bosses pitched the venture to him stating: "We just drop you into a lot of different hellholes equipped with nothing, and you do what you have to do to survive."

But an adviser to Born Survivor has disclosed that at one location where the adventurer claimed to be a "real life Robin-son Crusoe" trapped on "a desert island", he was actually on an outlying part of the Hawaiian archipelago and spent nights at a motel. On another occasion in California's Sierra Nevada mountains where he was filmed biting off the head of a snake for breakfast and struggling for survival "with just a water bottle, a cup and a flint for making fire", he actually slept some nights with the crew in a lodge fitted with television and internet access. The Pines Resort at Bass Lake is advertised as "a cosy getaway for families" with blueberry pancakes for breakfast.

In one episode Grylls, son of the late Tory MP Sir Michael Grylls, was shown apparently building a Polynesian-style raft using only materials around him, including bamboo, hibiscus twine and palm leaves for a sail. But according to Mark Weinert, an Oregon-based survival consultant brought in for the job, it was he who led the team that built the raft. It was then dismantled so that Grylls could be shown building it on camera.

In another episode viewers watched as Grylls tried to coax an apparently wild mustang into a lasso in the Sierra Nevada. "I'm in luck," he told viewers, apparently coming across four wild horses grazing in a meadow. "A chance to use an old native American mode of transport comes my way. This is one of the few places in the whole of the US where horses still roam wild." In fact, Weinert said, the horses were not wild but were brought in by trailer from a nearby trekking station for the "choreographed" feature. "If you really believe everything happens the way it is shown on TV, you are being a little bit naive," he said.

Channel 4 confirmed that Grylls had used hotels during expeditions and has now asked Diverse, the Bristol-based production company that made the programme, to look into the other claims. "We take any allegations of misleading our audiences seriously," said a spokeswoman for the channel.

The latest suggestion that Channel 4 may have breached viewer trust comes as the broad-caster's supervisory board prepares to issue new editorial guidelines to suppliers in order to stamp out alleged sharp practices that mislead viewers. "Born Survivor is not an observational documentary series but a `how to' guide to basic survival techniques in extreme environments," the spokeswoman said. "The programme explicitly does not claim that presenter Bear Grylls's experience is one of unaided solo survival."

Nevertheless, the disclosure is likely to disappoint fans of the Eton-educated adventurer, who at the age of 23 became the youngest Briton to scale Everest. Just two years before that he had broken his back in three places after his parachute ripped during a military exercise. On screen he has emerged as a natural performer, with stunts such as squeezing water from animal dung and sucking the fluid from fish eyeballs. Grylls could not be contacted for comment this weekend as he was trekking in the Brecon Beacons with his four-year-old son.


Preventing the West from Understanding Jihad

In the years that followed 9/11, two phenomena characterized the Western public's understanding of the terrorists' ideology. The first characteristic stemmed from the statements made by the Jihadists themselves. More than ever, Islamist militants and Jihadi cadres didn't waste any opportunity to declare, clarify, explain, and detail the meaning of their aqida (doctrine) and their intentions to apply Jihadism by all means possible. Unfortunately for them, though, those extremely violent means changed international public opinion: the public now was convinced that there was an ideology of Jihadism, and that its adherents meant business worldwide.

From Ayman al Zawahiri in Arabic to Azzam al Amriki in American English, via all of the videotapes made by "martyrs" in Britain, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the public obtained all the evidence necessary. Against all the faulty academic literature of the 1990's, the statements by the Jihadists themselves were very convincing.

The second phenomenon of help to the public was the surfacing of a new literature produced by alternative scholars, analysts, journalists, experts, and researchers who, from different backgrounds and countries, filled in some of the gaps is "Jihadi studies." Producing books, articles, and blogs from Europe, India, the Middle East, and North America, a combination of Third World-born and Western-issued scholarship began to provide the "missing link" as to what Jihadism is all about. These factors came together to shift the debate from "Jihad is spiritual yoga" to "Why didn't we know it was something else as well?" And this movement triggered, in response, one of the last attempts to prevent Jihad from being fully understood.

In the 1990's, apologist literature attempted to convince readers and audiences in the West that Jihad was a "spiritual experience only, and not a menace." [1] That explanation has now been shattered by Bin Laden and Ahmedinijad. So in the post-9/11 age, a second strategy to delay public understanding of Jihadism and thereby gain time for its adherents to achieve their goals has evolved. It might be called the "good cop, bad cop" strategy. Over the past few years, a new story began to make inroads in Washington and the rest of the national defense apparatus. A group of academics and interest groups are circulating the idea that in reality Jihad can develop in two forms: good Jihad and bad Jihad.

The practice of not using "Jihad" and "Jihadism" was lately defended by two academics at the National Defense University [2] who based their arguments on a study published by a Washington lobbyist, Jim Guirard.[3] On June 22, 2006, Jim Garamone, writing for the American Forces Press Service, published the study of Douglas Streusand and Harry Tunnel under the title "Loosely Interpreted Arabic terms can promote enemy ideology." Streusand told CNN that "Jihad is a term of great and positive import in Islam. It is commonly defined as striving or struggle, and can mean an internal or external struggle for faith." [4]

The article was posted under the title "Cultural Ignorance Leads to Misuse of Islamic Terms" by the US-based Islamist organization CAIR. [5] Since then the concept of deflecting attention away from the study of Jihadism has penetrated large segments of defense newsletters and is omnipresent in Academia. More troubling though, is the fact that scholars who have seen the strategic threat of al Qaeda and Hezbollah have unfortunately fallen for the fallacy of the Hiraba. Professor Michael Waller of the Institute of World Politics in Washington wrote recently that "Jihad has been hijacked" as he bases his argument on Jim Guirard's lobbying pieces.[6] Satisfied with this trend taking root in the Defense intelligentsia of America, Islamist intellectuals and activists are hurrying to support this new tactic.

The good holy war is when the right religious and political authorities declare it against the correct enemy and at the right time. The bad Jihad, called also Hiraba, is the wrong war, declared by bad (and irresponsible) people against the wrong enemy (for the moment), and without an appropriate authorization by the "real" Muslim leadership. According to this thesis, those Muslims who wage a Hiraba, a wrong war, are called Mufsidoon, from the Arabic word for "spoilers." The advocates of this ruse recommend that the United States and its allies stop calling the Jihadists by that name and identifying the concept of Jihadism as the problem. In short, they argue that "Jihad is good, but the Mufsidoon, the bad guys and the terrorists, spoiled the original legitimate sense."[7]

When researched, it turns out that this theory was produced by clerics of the Wahhabi regime in Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood, as a plan to prevent Jihad and Jihadism from being depicted by the West and the international community as an illegal and therefore sanctioned activity. It was then forwarded to American- and Western-based interest groups to be spread within the Untied States, particularly within the defense and security apparatus. Such a deception further confuses U.S. national security perception of the enemy and plunges democracies back into the "black hole" of the 1990's. This last attempt to blur the vision of democracies can be exposed with knowledge of the Jihadi terror strategies and tactics, one of which is known as Taqiya, the doctrine on deception and deflection.

First, the argument of "good Jihad" raises the question of how there can be a legitimate concept of religious war in the twenty-first century to start with. Jihad historically was as "good" as any other religious war over the last 2,000 years. If a "good Jihad" is the one authorized by a caliph and directed under his auspices, then other world leaders also can wage a "good crusade" at will, as long as it is licensed by the proper authority. But in fact, all religious wars are proscribed by international law, period.

Second, the authors of this lobbyist-concocted theory claim that a wrong Jihad is called a Hiraba. But in Arab Muslim history, a Hiraba (unauthorized warring) was when a group of warriors launched itself against the enemy without orders from the real commander. Obviously, this implies that a "genuine" war against a real enemy does exist and that these hotheaded soldiers have simply acted without orders. Hence this cunning explanation puts "spin" on Jihad but leaves the core idea of Jihadism completely intact. The "spoilers" depart from the plan, attack prematurely, and cause damage to the caliphate's long-terms plans. These Mufsidoon "fail" their commanders by unleashing a war of their own, instead of waiting for orders.

This scenario fits the relations of the global Jihadists, who are the regimes and international groups slowly planning to gain power against the infidels and the "hotheaded" Osama bin Laden. Thus the promoters of this theory of Hiraba and Mufsidoon are representing the views of classical Wahhabis and the Muslim Brotherhood in their criticism of the "great leap forward" made by bin Laden. But by convincing Westerners that al Qaeda and its allies are not the real Jihadists but some renegades, the advocates of this school would be causing the vision of Western defense to become blurred again so that more time could be gained by a larger, more powerful wave of Jihadism that is biding its time to strike when it chooses, under a coherent international leadership.



By Amil Imani, an Iranian-born American citizen and pro-democracy activist residing in the United States of America

Many people have asked me why I have put my life in harm's way by tangling with Islam and why I do what I do. Born in a Muslim family and having witnessed first-hand the horrors and indignity that Islamofascism visits on people it subjugates, I have taken it upon myself to do my part in defeating this ideology of oppression, hate and violence. Islam is wrapped in deception as a spiritual dogma or religion and is more dangerous than Nazism, Communism and Fascism.

My writings aim to help people decide if they want to rank with the Islamists or if they want to truly live as free men. The truth shall set you free, it is said, but first it will shatter the cozy, sweet world you live in.

Nowadays we hear from the non-Muslim world about the moderate version of Islam and moderate Muslims. In my view, being a Muslim and not being radical is simply not possible. Freedom lets a person make choices and be up-front about it. And that's where I part with those who would prefer to be sheep and have sheepdogs hem them in.

Many non-Muslims are obviously very well-meaning with regard to Islam, but they are also extremely naive and ignorant of the facts. They seem to think that Islam is just another religion of love and peace and Muslims should be given full freedom to practice their religion. Do they also believe that thieves, misogynists, rapists, child-molesters and any and all manner of practicing evils should be given complete carte blanche to carry on with what they value and believe? These well-meaning poeple are just as deluded as the fanatic jihadists by refusing to acknowledge the fact that one cannot be a Muslim and not abide by the dictates of the Quran.

There is no such thing as moderate Islam. There is no such thing as secular Islam or a secular Muslim. It's the nature of the faith to deny any separation of religion and the state or religion and society. There are numerous sects within Islam. One and all are extremes and not in the least amenable to change. Keep in mind that Islam claims that it is the perfect eternal faith for mankind. Splits have occurred and will continue to occur in Islam. Yet, reformation has not happened in nearly 1400 years and is not going to happen. Islam is carved in granite, just the way it is. No change. Allah's book is sealed.

There are indeed some Muslims who are moderate in the way they practice their religion. These people, for the most part, are culturally Muslims. They don't practice Islam the way it is mandated. They pick and choose. Therefore, "moderate Islam," is no Islam at all. It is not possible.

The Islamists have created fear not only in a non-Islamic world, but in the hearts and minds of those who consider themselves to be Muslims. The Islamists wage their war under the name of Islam. They receive immense direct and indirect support from the rank-and-file of ordinary Muslims. It is this passive support of so-called moderate Muslims that keeps the Islamists alive. And it is the Islamists who are intent on showing no mercy to any and all who do not share their ideology, be they Muslims or not. Millions of Iranians who were born into a faith they did not choose, a faith that was inflicted upon them by invaders of a foreign culture, a faith that forbids them to leave or revert to their pre-Islamic heritage and other Iraian religions, they remain Muslims in name only.

However, someone like the fanatic Ahmadinejad is a true Muslim who was instilled from his upbringing with Islamic superstitions, prejudices and hatreds. He was indoctrinated, from the moment of his birth, by an extensive ruthless in-power cadre of self-serving mullahs and imams who intended to maintain their stranglehold on the rank and file of the faithful-their very source of support and livelihood.

The fanatic Ahmadinejad is every bit as bloodthirsty as Hitler. Every jihadist is. But, he is not a Hitler. Not yet. He is far from having control of the Iranian State, including its armed forces. Even his popularity among the very poor is sinking for not being able to deliver what he had promised. Hence, the thing to do is to increase greatly any and all non-violent pressures on the present Islamic regime in Iran. Despite the current tug-of-war in Washington, we hope to believe people in U.S. government have studied all the possible effective actions and now it is time to put them into full effect without any delay. It is also time for the rabid self-serving Bush-bashers to start fighting the real enemy.

The majority of Iranians are against the mullahs' rule and many are staunchly pro-West and pro-America. However, a minority supports the mullahs for a variety of reasons, such as jobs, influence and simply for money. And a much smaller minority composed of the people we call the 3Fs -- fools, fanatics and frauds, do support the Mullahs. Further, the mullahs have severely dis-empowered the opposition by systematic harassing, jailing and killing.

The mullahs' days are, however, numbered and we will witness the rule of the true Iranians, the majority of whom are worthy human beings. No totalitarian rule can survive without a segment of the population, for one reason or another, supporting it. Yet, time is not on the side of the mullahs. By their mismanagement, thievery and oppression of the masses, they have created explosive internal conditions. Any significant support of the presently splintered Iranian opposition will be the tipping point-a tipping point that would assuredly topple the mullahs.

In conclusion, our best hope for humanity and civilization to survive is to firmly resist Islamofascism in all its forms. As an Iranian-American, I have experienced first-hand the Islamic tyranny as well as the blessings of liberty. I find it my solemn duty to do all I can to battle Islamofascism, the most dehumanizing active threat of our time.


Michael Winner salutes a brilliant, politically incorrect, British comedian

Bernard Manning died recently. Michael Winner is an English film director and producer

To say I was fan of Bernard Manning is a gross understatement. If a stand-up comedian could be a genius, then Manning was a genius. He may have offended people, but since when has that been a crime? Comics have caused offence since the dawn of time. And not only did he offend with brilliant gags, he did it to anyone. No one was safe from his jokes - they always cut close to the bone and that is why the audiences loved him.

In my opinion, he died twice. Not just this week, but also on that day many years ago when those crackpot, sourfaced, people known as The Politically-Correct Brigade forced him off television because they considered his jokes to be racist. He wasn't racist. If Bernard wanted to make fun of any race, he did so without discrimination. And why shouldn't he? His job was to make us laugh, and that he did brilliantly.

I met Bernard a few years ago, when, with a friend, I paid for him to come from his beloved Manchester and do a cabaret in a private banqueting room for Marco Pierre White's 40th birthday. He sat like an out-of-breath walrus - even then his skin colour was a shade of grey, indicating severe heart problems. But when he took the microphone, everything changed. He was alert, sharp, his delivery and nuances were impeccable, his timing perfection. I introduced him to the distinguished dinner crowd, which included Madonna, with the usual words - "Ladies and gentlemen ... Bernard Manning".

Bernard took the microphone, his pause was perfect, then in that marvellous, gravelly voice he said: "Michael Winner, the most hated Jew in Europe." That was funny. That, as the old saying goes "brought the house down". None of us considered that racist. Least of all me, the one who should have been most insulted.

Some years ago, I remember one of those undercover TV programmes secretly filmed a private dinner. Manning was speaking. He came out with another of his great jokes: "I lost a relation in Auschwitz. Fell off the guard tower." There was indignant uproar from the chattering classes. The politically correct brigade said it was just disgraceful. I remember thinking: "What are they going on about? That was funny. It made me laugh." And I actually lost relatives in Auschwitz.

Why shouldn't we poke fun at Jews, Muslims, the Irish, Scotsmen, the French, the Italians, Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, blacks, Chinese... I could go on. Another saying, one of my favourites, goes: "If you can't take a joke you shouldn't have joined."

I remember once attending a TV special, An Evening With Jackie Mason - the Jewish American comedian. The jokes he told were hysterical. Many of them deriding Jews in a dry, very funny, observational way. At the end of the evening, Pamela Stephenson came over to me, white with rage. "No wonder the Jews hate him," she said of Mason. "He's so anti-Semitic." Nonsense. Jackie was, and still is, extremely funny. And believe me, when Jews are talking among themselves, it's not at all uncommon for them to refer to "Yid" and "Yidden". Try that in a joke today and you wouldn't just be off television, you'd be banned from the planet!

When Lenny Henry, one of our wonderful black comics, started out, he had a terrific line in his act. He'd say: "If you don't laugh, I'll come and live next door to you." Funny, funny, funny. Later, I seem to remember Lenny apologising for that. Silly, silly, silly.

Where do these politically correct people live? Do they have their own special world. Do they not realise that in the real world people speak a different language to theirs? I was for many years on the Council of the Directors Guild Of Great Britain. Suddenly I saw on their notepaper the word "Chair" and then the name. "I never voted for James Cellan-Jones to be a chair," I protested. "I voted for him as our Chairman." "Can't use 'Chairman' any more," I was told. "It's not politically correct because it discriminates against women."

As far as I'm concerned, our world today is being controlled by this tiny group of out-of-touch loonies who'd prefer to see The Merchant Of Venice's finest lines disappear because a wonderfully written and beautifully spoken Jewish character is shown to be a greedy villain. And what about Othello, which might suggest that black soldiers are capable of strangling their wives in a fit of unfounded jealousy? Or Hamlet, which could offend Danes by suggesting that one of their countrymen could poison his brother in order to gain a throne?

These are the people who forced Benny Hill off TV and want topless girl pictures banned from newspapers. Don't they go to art galleries, these blinkered buffoons? There, they'd see picture after picture of topless (and some times bottomless) nymphs and ladies, many of them painted for their patrons' titillation - from Lucas Cranach in the 16th century, through Rubens and Goya, to Lucian Freud today.

Then Bernard Manning comes along, speaking the language of the British people, brilliantly phrased, exquisitely delivered, wittily composed, and above all unbelievably funny - and he's suddenly too rough for TV! Who do these idiots think watches TV? Bernard Manning spoke as his audience spoke. Except that he honed and perfected his jokes until they were gems. His humour came from the spirit of England. Brave, tolerant, welcoming to all races - a land that is rightly proud of Shakespeare, even though some of his writing is of such vulgarity that Bernard Manning is a churchwarden by comparison. Do these tight-bottomed idiots not realise laughter is a release? The day we cannot laugh at ourselves, and other people, without fear of censure is a sad day indeed.

Tragically, that day has come and it may get worse. I'm glad I'm old enough to have visited the music halls, still thriving in the Fifties and Sixties, and saw our great comics perform their art. And, yes, they made wonderfully ribald jokes about sex and gender and race and religion - all subjects that are taboo today. Now, the music halls are shopping malls and comedy has been replaced by smart, utterly unfunny political parody performed by nonentities who think the F-word is funny, while the old-timers who could stand up and enthral an audience for two hours single-handed are buried in English soil.

In a few days, Bernard Manning will join them. Make no mistake, he was a great and noble Englishman with a glorious sense of humour. I could, and should, have enjoyed him on TV for the last many years. But those arrogant enough to think they know better than everyone else decided he was not fit for mass consumption. This is not only a crazy world. It is a politically correct, tyrannical world where we let an intolerant minority tell us what to think. Goodbye Bernard. I salute you and I thank you. At least you'll be laughing at our lunatic world from on high.



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 July, 2007

John Doe, Rachel Ehrenfeld, & Fairness Doctrine

Do Americans have the right to raise alarm about potential terrorist threats to their safety, or governmental designs upon their property? That's what the John Doe protection that Congressional Democrats just scuttled is about. That's what the legal battle that Rachel Ehrenfeld is fighting is about. That's what the defense of free air waves is about.

Powerline attorney John Hinderaker brings us up to date on the 304-121 House approval of protection for citizens from lawsuits when they report suspicious behavior to the authorities, dropped from the Homeland Security bill by conferees.

Robert Spencer brings us up to date about Rachel Ehrenfeld's resistance to a Saudi billionaire funder of terrorists' efforts to silence her through court costs intimidation.

Ed Morrissey brings us up to date about Norm Coleman's confrontation of Democrats' efforts to silence conservative talk radio's market-based popularity.

In all three instances, and many more, if analysis or criticism of powerful or incumbant interests are silenced, we are all not only silenced but, often and dangerously, put at grave mortal and personal risk. The First Amendment is not a political nicety.


Pervasive dishonesty at the Leftist BBC

The BBC executive board gathered for its regular meeting last Tuesday morning for coffee, biscuits and meltdown. The previous evening, at 5pm, the deadline had passed for producers to come forward confessing, in a spirit of openness and honesty, to programmes they had made that had misled the public in some way. The invitation for them so to do had been extended by both Jana Bennett, the BBC's director of vision and an executive board member, and Jenny Abramsky, the BBC's director of audio and music. They, and other BBC chiefs, were giving staff a chance to come clean after revelations that a trailer for a programme about the Queen had been less than truthful with viewers, and that the corporation had also been fined 50,000 pounds for faking a Blue Peter competition.

Much to the apparent surprise of Bennett and Abramsky, two experienced and highly respected corporation bureaucrats, a procession of contrite and nervous producers came forward to 'fess up. The public, it seemed, had been deceived with unnerving consistency, particularly over programmes with phone-in polls and competitions. And on the corporation's most noble flagship enterprises, too. Comic Relief and Children in Need, for example. "We just sat there absolutely stunned," one executive board member told me, "shocked beyond belief. Nobody had any idea that this was going on on such a scale."

Not even Bennett and Abramsky, when they asked for producers to come forward? "Nobody. Nobody at all. And we had the very powerful sense that there was a lot more to come. And we thought this time no excuses, something really has to be done."

In the short term this might mean the ceremonial defenestration, for the benefit of a baying Fleet Street and an angry public, of some high-ranking executive. Bennett perhaps, even though she is one of the corporation's most talented and savvy apparatchiks? "But if Jana, why not Mark [Thompson, the director-general]? He is about as remote in the hierarchy from what went on as she is."

The feeling within the upper echelons of the BBC is that the sacrifice of a senior figure would be a capitulation too far to critics, although how far that view is shared lower down is a moot point. There is a certain glee and schaden-freude in some parts of the corporation, long dismayed at the grubby and antiReithian business of chasing the ratings with lowest common denominator broadcasting. Either way, all those I spoke to believe the BBC needs a change of culture, that it needs to decide what it is there for and why we should continue to pay for its existence, compulsorily and on pain of imprisonment if we don't fork out.

"Why are we doing these phone-in polls?" said the executive board member. "In what possible sense are they public service broadcasting? "The programme makers tell you that it's an invaluable way of reaching the difficult-to-get C2D audience. But we need to reach them in different, cleverer ways. "The BBC has always been very good at reaching middle-class, Old Etonian audiences; in fact it has whole channels just for them. But it doesn't know how to attract the white working class, because nobody from the white working class works for it. Phone-in polls are an easy and unacceptable answer. They've been suspended now; there's absolutely no reason why they should ever start again."

According to Roger Graef, a leading independent producer, the scams and manipulations have been threatening to erupt for some time. "It was lurking under the surface," he says, "but there were more and more people coming to my company literally bursting into tears and saying, `I don't want to do this to people any more'. But they wouldn't go public because they were worried they'd never get another job."

A senior BBC journalist put it even more bluntly. "The BBC has to stop trying to get in the f****** gutter with all the other tawdry channels. When you start chasing ratings and using the foul marketing language of City spivs, it's inevitable what will happen." AH, but the trouble is, if the BBC doesn't get into the gutter it may lose its raison d'etre anyway. For the past 60 years or so the BBC has managed to straddle two poles - universality and public service - and thus justify the licence fee. But it is finding it increasingly difficult to do so.

Never mind all this stuff about a new, imported culture whereby production teams subsist under intense pressure on short-term contracts and are not imbued with the BBC ethos, such as it is. That may be in the mix somewhere, but it is not the crucial point. It is about why the BBC exists at all and where it locates itself in the future. And each way the corporation turns it finds a howl of complaint. When it attempts to achieve universality by diversifying in order to serve a specialist audience and dreams up such channels as BBC4 (audience share: 0.4%) and BBC3 (audience share: 1.3%) it is accused of spreading itself far too thinly and as a result splurging huge amounts of licence-payers' money on a vanishingly small audience. Indeed, you might wonder why there is a need for both BBC2 and BBC4 to exist as separate entities when their remits are more or less identical.

Those who accuse the BBC of doing too much, and sacrificing quality as a consequence, were given plenty of ammunition by the current fiasco: at least one of the programmes that rigged its phone-in competition did so because nobody from the audience phoned in. They were broadcasting to an audience of close to zero.

On the other hand, when the BBC attempts to fulfil its charter by providing top-quality mainstream entertainment for a mass audience, the critics attack it for trying to compete with the commercial sector in chasing ratings and paying too much money for household names. Take the Jonathan Ross contract as an example. "The BBC was burbling with happiness because it had got Jonathan Ross for `only' 18m pounds when he had asked for 24m," the senior BBC journalist remarked with some derision. "He draws only about 3m viewers every week - for which he is paid almost eight times the entire yearly budget for a programme like The World Tonight. How can that possibly be justified?"

Privately quite a few BBC executives admit that the Ross contract was a misjudgment, politically, morally and practically. One told me it had cost the BBC "a couple of hundred million quid" when it came to charter renewal because the politicians were ill-disposed towards an organisation that could be so cavalier with licence-payers' money. Others argue that the BBC should not compete with commercial organisations because the BBC is simply inept at doing so, and they use the Ross contract as a case in point. For the executive board member it's a more straightforward calculation. "If there's a commercial organisation that wants to pay Jonathan Ross 18m and thinks it can draw an audience that justifies the salary, then let them do it. It's not for the BBC. Exactly the same applies to phone-in polls."

WHAT should be done? The BBC provided an easy sacrificial victim by "suspending" all commissions from RDF, the independent production company which supplied the original shots of Her Majesty. But the firm says that they e-mailed the BBC three times asking to see its edit before transmission. Someone in the BBC jumped to the conclusion that their trail showed the Queen storming out. At no time did they ask RDF whether this actually happened.

The Beeb's director-general has also ordered that all 15,000 staffers and a good few thousand independent producers must be inculcated in the ethos of the corporation through new training schemes. You might argue that it would be prudent for the BBC to decide exactly what its ethos is before embarking on such a laudable process. At the moment it is not remotely clear. It is vague about the extent to which it should be competing with the commercial channels, and even more vague about the notion of what constitutes its "core broadcasting".

"You know, whenever I ask them about some new programme or channel they're planning," the executive board member told me, laughing, "they always tell me that it is core broadcasting. And I say to them, `Right, okay, well give me an example of something the BBC does which is peripheral broadcasting'. They can't come up with an answer." It is this lack of focus that the BBC management needs to address - as well as the simple fact of not misleading viewers. At present the BBC's default position is that everything it does is always for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds. But if the BBC is still to be with us in 10 years, with a statutory licence fee, it needs not only the trust of its captive audience but a far clearer idea of what it stands for.


More BBC fraud

A SENIOR executive at Panorama is to be questioned by police over allegations that the BBC's flagship current affairs programme broke the law by using forged documents to target one of Britain's richest doctors. Detectives are expected to interview Frank Simmonds, the programme's deputy editor, under caution, following claims that Panorama used fake referral letters from GPs to send undercover reporters into clinics run by Mohamed Taranissi, a leading IVF expert. Officers from Scotland Yard want to question Simmonds in relation to the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act, according to an informed source. Using a "false instrument" under the Act carries a maximum jail sentence of 10 years.

The BBC is already facing a crisis of trust after it admitted deceiving viewers by faking the results of phone-in competitions in shows such as Comic Relief and Children in Need. The broadcaster has also been forced to apologise to the Queen after wrongly claiming that she stormed out of a royal photoshoot. The police inquiry into Panorama, however, raises fresh questions about the BBC's core journalism, and comes as Mark Byford, the deputy director-general, faces a grilling by MPs on Tuesday.

Taranissi, 52, whose wealth is estimated at 38m pounds, is suing Panorama for libel, claiming the programme made defamatory allegations about his techniques and has caused lasting damage to his professional reputation. The BBC could face a bill for more than 1m pounds in compensation and legal costs if it loses the case.

The Panorama investigation into Taranissi, broadcast in January, claimed that one of his central London clinics, the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre (ARGC), offered "unnecessary and unproven" treatment to an undercover reporter posing as a patient. The show alleged that a 26-year-old journalist was offered IVF treatment costing thousands of pounds despite neither her nor her partner, having any history of fertility problems. It also claimed that Taranissi was running a second clinic without a licence and was sending his older and harder-to-treat patients there to maintain a high success rate at the ARGC.

Taranissi, an Egyptian who has helped mothers give birth to 2,300 babies in seven years, denies any wrongdoing. His lawyers claim that Panorama researchers forged at least four referral letters from nonexistent GPs to gain access to his clinics. Police took a statement from Taranissi earlier this year and now want to question Simmonds, who oversaw the IVF sting, about the letters. The BBC claims they were "justified" in the context of the undercover probe.

A BBC spokesman said: "We are more than happy to cooperate with the police. They indicated at the outset that they would want to speak to Mr Simmonds." A spokesman for the Yard said: " Inquiries are still ongoing."


Australian Leftist "multicultural" policies have paved a road to hell for black kids

By black activist Noel Pearson -- who sees "progressives" as the enemies of changes that Aborigines badly need

THE Calvinist conception of predestination (whether you end up in heaven is predestined and nothing you can do can alter whether you are chosen or not) is analogous to life outcomes for the indigenous children of Cape York. You can bet that a child from our community will end up poorly educated, semi-literate and ill-equipped for equitable participation in Australian society and the economy. The few who succeed are the exception. They defy predestination, but they are few and far between.

This predestination is not just about what kind of education our children receive. It is about the place they will occupy in society and the economy. They are predestined to not improve on the position of their parents or to deteriorate in their position. If we accept anthropologist Jared Diamond's thesis that Aborigines have the capacity to be rocket scientists and neurosurgeons, then strong forces must be at work to prevent social progress on the part of our children.

I do not think social progress comes naturally. Otherwise providing education for Aborigines should result in progress. Education is the principal ladder that allows unprivileged individuals to advance in capitalist societies. But obtaining a quality education does not come easily or naturally. While we hope that education would transcend our material imperatives and realise abstract ideals about human fulfilment, it still principally serves the economy of the day. In the old industrial economy, the education system responded to the need for an army of workers with basic education and skills. The economy and the influential classes had an interest in workers being trained so the labour force could be productive.

The system also allowed for the advancement of some talented working-class children. The heyday of working-class advancement produced a meritocracy that advanced into the middle class in large numbers; witness Leon Davis, working-class boy from Whyalla, South Australia, former chief executive of Rio Tinto and chairman of Westpac.

The rise of the old working-class meritocracy was almost a mass movement. Today, for the lowest classes, such advancement is not a mass movement; it is increasingly sporadic and isolated. Several decades ago, almost all Australian families were integrated in working life. The modern economy does not seem to guarantee comprehensive inclusion.

We have record low unemployment, but the number of people who depend on welfare has increased. We have an underclass of people who pass on their outcast status to their children. There have always been class divisions and underprivileged people. One of the original leftist ideas is that much of our culture serves class interests.

The educated middle class includes two groups with different societal roles. Education provides the skills and knowledge to contribute to wealth creation or to produce and disseminate ideologies and cultures. The middle-class producers of culture and ideology often see themselves as the Left. My texts have often been perceived as attacks on the Left. But I support key policies of the Left. In many areas, Aborigines can agree with the Left, including the people who have felt most hit by my criticism. I agree with them on land rights and conservation, trade unions, redistribution and the role of government in guaranteeing equitable health care and education.

The contention of mine that has caused most consternation when I have challenged the Left during the past eight years is that the result of progressive policies can be at odds with the good intentions that inspired them. My aim has been, as Dennis Glover wrote in The Australian yesterday, to "set higher standards for the Left" by critically examining the outcomes of ostensibly leftist policies. It is appropriate to set high standards because the Left's claim to the right to govern rests on its promise to lift the living standard and prospects of the lowest classes. The challenge of education facing our children should be understood as a class challenge. There are strong class forces at work that are barriers to social advancement.

The main means by which class stratification is maintained and social progress impeded is not by direct and conscious oppressive behaviour by privileged classes. Rather, the forces of class operate culturally. They are embedded in the prevailing ideologies and intellectual currents, popular and niche cultures. Their effect is to cause confusion in the minds of lower-class people about social progress and how it may be achieved, and cause them to behave in ways that are contrary to their interests.

I developed a (provocative) rule of thumb when it comes to examining the nostrums and prescriptions of the middle-class culture producers, who often come from the progressive cultural Left: whatever they say our people should do, we should look at the opposite of what they say because that will usually be the right thing to do. Therefore:

* They say substance abuse is a health issue and should be approached with tolerance. We say it is a behavioural and social order issue and we need to rebuild intolerance.

* They say education should be culturally appropriate. We say this should not be an alibi for anti-intellectualism, romantic indigenism and a justification for substandard achievement.

* They say we should respect Aboriginal English as a real language. We say we should speak our traditional languages and the Queen's English fluently.

* They say our people need to be defended in a hostile criminal justice system. We say we need more policing to restore law and order.

* They say our people are victims and must not be blamed. We say our people are victimised but we are not victims.

* They say we have a right to passive welfare. We say we do not have a right to dependency and, indeed, we have a greater right to take up a fair place in the real economy.

* They say economic integration is antithetical to our identity. We say our culture cannot and will not survive as long as we live in the social dysfunction caused by economic dependency.

* They say poverty is our main problem. We say passivity is our main problem because it prevents us from taking advantage of opportunities to get out of poverty and the resources we get are squandered.

The striking thing about this stark disagreement about what is really progressive is that we are at odds with so-called progressive thinking across vast tracts of policy. For me it is not personal antagonism that explains the gulf between me and most national indigenous leaders and intelligentsia; it is this fundamental analytical and policy gulf about what is progress and what is not. Glover is right when he says that I am a man of the Left because my fidelity is to the lot of the underclass, of whom my people are its most miserable members. It is that I believe liberal and conservative policies have more to contribute to indigenous uplift than outdated progressive thinking.

It became clear to me that some elements of leftist ideology contribute to the barriers that keep our people down. The key to understanding this is to recognise the profound change in the role of leftist theory. When the theories of the Left were originally formulated, the Left was a revolutionary force. However, the Left has merged with power and government. Leftist ideology is integral to the political and intellectual structure of our society.

The challenge for the Left today is to stop assuming that leftist policy by definition is policy that will help the most oppressed. The most obvious example that this is not the case is the rise of a political and intellectual industry that explains, defends and facilitates behaviours that keep people in the underclass. A young Aborigine today who follows the conventional leftist recipes of the past four decades is destined to stay at the bottom of society.

Of course the Left has consistently been a strong supporter of indigenous rights and indigenous people also have reason to support social democratic policy. There are encouraging signs that the Left is reconsidering its reflexive support for progressive policies. If leftist thinkers such as Glover don't effect fundamental shifts of the kind that Christopher Hitchens and the authors of the Euston Manifesto are seeking in Britain, then the Left in Australia will continue to be divided between its political wing and its cultural wing, which will seek to maintain a baleful influence on social policy.

The political wing led by Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard (who told the Sydney Institute last week that "the old days of passive welfare for those able to contribute are gone") are not at all wedded to the outdated aspects of progressive thinking, attuned as they are to the expectations of the Australian community, but the cultural wing is still a strong force for stasis and, dare I say it, conservatism.



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 July, 2007

Kennedy cramming hate crimes into defense bill

'Shameless attempt to push homosexual agenda ... by exploiting soldiers'

Sen. Edward Kennedy's "hate crimes" plan - feared by Christian leaders as a way to censor biblical condemnations of homosexuality - has been proposed as an amendment to a defense spending bill, a maneuver opponents are calling "shameless" and "manipulative." The Kennedy plan, which earlier was introduced as separate legislation, would classify gender and sexual orientation as specially protected classes of people under federal law. Opponents say it would require law enforcement personnel to become "thought police" to determine whether a crime already addressed by existing law could be prosecuted under an enhanced standard of "hate crime."

The White House already has suggested the proposal is unneeded and a veto would be in order if it is approved. But Kennedy has proposed inserting it into the defense appropriations plan, which Bush wants to pass. "The maneuver is one clearly calculated to put the president in the position of ending up vetoing a defense appropriation," Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel told WND.

Joe Glover of the Family Policy Network said the move is "shockingly manipulative." "It is a shameless attempt to push the homosexual agenda on the American people by exploiting American soldiers who are currently in harm's way around the world," he said.

Many dismiss the idea Christian pastors and others who oppose homosexual behavior on biblical grounds would end up being punished for their beliefs and thoughts, including the ACLU. The organization issued a statement endorsing the plan to amend the defense spending bill to include the hate crimes legislation. "The serious problem of crime directed at members of society because of their race, color, religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability merits legislative action," the ACLU said. And the ACLU noted a clause protecting "free speech" in the proposal makes it clear it would be applied only to actual crimes, not thoughts.

However, WND columnist Janet Folger wrote the idea of arresting people for stating their religious beliefs that homosexuality is wrong is no longer something that "may" happen in the future. "Here's the Cliff Notes of what so called 'hate crime' legislation has already done IN AMERICA," she wrote. "This is no longer up for debate. Here are the facts."

* Madison, Wisconsin. David Ott, a former homosexual, was arrested for a "hate crime" for sharing his testimony with a homosexual at a gas station. He faced a $10,000 fine and one year behind bars. Seven thousand dollars in legal fees later, [he] was ordered to attend re-education classes at the University of Wisconsin conducted by a lesbian.

* St. Petersburg, Florida. Five Christians including two pastors were arrested at a homosexual rally for stepping onto the public sidewalk instead staying caged in their officially designated "free speech zone."

* Elmira, New York. The Elmira police arrested seven Christians for praying in a public park where a homosexual festival was getting started.

* Crystal Lake, Illinois. Two 16 year old girls are facing felony "hate crime" charges for the content of their flyers.

* Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Arlene Elshinnawy, a 75-year-old grandmother of three, and Linda Beckman, a 70-year-old grandmother of 10 (along with nine others), were arrested for sharing their faith on the public sidewalk.

Folger said the testimony from the grandmothers can be seen and heard at the Stop Hate Crimes Now website. "Just how many cases do we need to cite before America stands up and stops the bill that will criminalize Christianity?" she asked. "It will criminalize not just those willing to speak the truth and spread the Gospel in the public square, but those pastors, authors, radio hosts and anyone who 'counsels, commands, induces or procures [the commission of a 'hate crime']'," she said.

Rev. Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America, said the plan will "punish Christians for preaching certain biblical principles and lead to pastors being jailed in violation of their First Amendment rights as we have already witnessed in Europe." A pastor in Europe already has served a prison term for preaching that the Bible condemns homosexuality.

Scarborough said it is significant that the proposal to add the plan as an amendment "will bypass the Senate committee process, thereby denying significant debate on the legislation." "If this bill passes, a pastor who preaches about homosexuality being sin could be prosecuted if someone who has heard his message commits a crime against a homosexual. The implications for conservative biblical pastors who have broadcast ministries are staggering. We cannot allow Christians to be dragged into court for simply fulfilling their biblical mandate of preaching the gospel," said Scarborough, a Southern Baptist pastor who now is participating in a "70 Weeks to Save America" campaign. "It is clear the enemies of the cross are wickedly shrewd," said Rusty Lee Thomas, of Elijah Ministries.

Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy for the Family Research Council, said even with "speech protections" there are grave dangers. "We've seen it in states, with the Philadelphia 11, where they used ethnic intimidation laws. Intimidation is a broad term, it does not require any act of violence and intimidation is included in the definition of hate crime," he told WND. "What we see and what we've seen repeatedly, when a crime occurs, the homosexual activists will inevitably blame it on the speech of people like us who oppose homosexual behavior," he said.

Sprigg cited the recent murder of a homosexual in California. Witnesses said the attackers were speaking Russian, so immediately nearby Slavic Christian churches came under suspicion, he said.


A very "incorrect gathering

Leftists are the intolerant Puritans these days

Echoing H.L. Mencken, humorist P.J. O'Rourke once quipped that conservatives are a group of stiff-collared puritans with a "haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be having fun." He should have joined me at the recent fifth annual Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms summer gala hosted by a right-leaning Colorado think tank, the Independence Institute, at a gun club in Kiowa, Colo.

This year's theme was "Stop the Growth of the Nanny State"--but it might as well have been "Live Free or Die Hard." Every activity seemed designed to annoy Hillary Clinton. There was a whole lot of drinking, smoking and shooting, but thankfully not in that order. During the morning hours, we carried nine-pound rifles through the woods, shooting pellets at clay pigeons flung into the air. By 10 a.m. the park was alive with the continuous claps of gunfire and hollering.

"Ahh, don't you love the sound of freedom?" exalted Jon Caldara, the president of the institute. This was a family affair, with many gun- toting children and women participating. The "girly man" of the group, I managed to hit all of two clay pigeons the entire morning--and I didn't so much break them into pieces as inflict minor wounds. When Mr. Caldara introduced me as the lunch speaker, he said: "Moore is reportedly with the Wall Street Journal editorial page, but after watching him shoot a gun today, I wonder if it isn't the New York Times." I live in the nation's capital, where guns are illegal--and so the closest I've come to a firearm was the time I was mugged walking home from work in 1989.

I was equally out of my element in 1994 when, working for the Republicans in Congress, I found myself in rural Georgia trying to rally voters. Encircled by a boisterous crowd of gun enthusiasts, most of them dressed in military fatigues and holding their rifles at the ready position as I electioneered, I ended my rally-the-troops talk: "And that is why we have to take over the House of Representatives in 1994." One middle-age woman held her gun over her head, nudged herself to the front of the crowd, and in a deep Southern drawl asked: "Son, do you mean by force?" No, I didn't. Nice idea though.

Many of the folks at the institute's, um, policy forum had come from all over the state to have a good time, sure, but they also had a deeper motivation: to stick their tongues out, figuratively, at the tyrant politicians in Washington and Denver who keep enacting rules about how they should run their lives. These people are just dog tired of having the government tell them what to do: Buckle your seat belt, wear your bike helmet, don't smoke, don't shoot, teach your 8-year-olds to wear condoms--and, most of all, stop complaining and pay your taxes. One participant was incensed that Denver now has a law requiring that every dog be neutered unless the owner gets a government permit allowing the animal to reproduce. On the left even sex is becoming taboo.

Then there are the more mundane rules. There was a discussion over lunch at my picnic table about how Congress is regulating nearly every basic household appliance--refrigerators, washers and dryers, toilets, hair dryers, shower heads, lawnmowers--to make sure that we are not, God forbid, wasting water or energy. A woman told me that she is stocking up on cartons of incandescent light bulbs, because soon it will be illegal to buy them. (The poor lady insisted on remaining anonymous so that the light-bulb police don't come to search her home.)

The buzzword on the left nowadays is "tolerance" for those with different lifestyles--like cross-dressers--but almost everything that these folks want to do, liberals won't tolerate. One smoker lamented that if "gays were discriminated against today the way smokers are, there would be an uproar." Gun owners have reason to be fearful too. In a recent blog interview on Moveon.org, John Edwards of North Carolina proclaimed that health care, child care, a livable wage and a clean environment are "rights," but owning a gun is a "privilege." The men and women who gathered in Kiowa would like to send him a copy of the Constitution.

I'm not a smoker or a gun owner, and not much of a drinker, other than at Margarita parties. But, as Mae West once cracked, "Sometimes I don't drink so the next day I can remember having fun." The gathering in Kiowa was pure joy--and I suspect that if liberals would loosen their puritan collars and start showing real tolerance of conservative "alternative lifestyles," they'd be having more fun too.


The virtue of intolerance

The notion of tolerance has the connotation of holding the moral high ground, of being an act of virtue that needs no explanation and no substantiation, of requiring no insight into the context of that which is being tolerated. The popular view seems to be that tolerance is unarguably a good thing - the implication being that to be intolerant is to be a tyrant.

The notion of tolerance comes in a package deal bundled with other corrupted concepts like diversity, multiculturalism, extremism, moral complexities, subjectivist grayness, etc. The problem with all of these is that their essential defining characteristics are removed from any context that make them meaningful. For example, "extremism" or to be an "extremist" is de facto an undesirable quality; its essential characteristic of holding one position to the utter exclusion of the other is divorced from the context of what the positions actually entail and why would that exclusive position be wrong.

However, the concept of tolerance suffers from an added unique distortion. Not only is the concept usually divorced from any particular context and is enshrined as an unquestioning companion of benevolence, tolerance is always used in the acquiescence of the bad and in compromise of the good.

Notice how the good, the true, or the rational never requires toleration, it is only the opposite of these that do. No one ever tolerates the good while simultaneously identifying it as the good. However, the contradiction implied in the phrase "tolerating the good" escapes most people.

When one is asked to "tolerate differences of opinion" or "diversity" one is implicitly branding the differences of opinion and diversity as bad. This not only corrupts the meaning of the concept "tolerance" by misusing it but also paints a broad brush over the concepts of diversity and opinion. If by rational and objective judgment, the opinions are valid and the diversity of people beneficial, then the question of tolerance simply does not arise. With regard to the good that is objectively identified, there is (and properly cannot be) any need for tolerance.

However, when a racist spouts hatred, I have the moral high ground in not tolerating his views and explicitly condemning him for it. To tolerate racist views is to betray your commitment to reason and justice. To tolerate evil is to shortchange on your commitment to the good. Ask yourself why would you need to ever tolerate something that was good and rational anyway? Then, why are you asked to tolerate the irrational, the untrue, the dishonest, and the evil? What virtue lies in tolerating these, and by what standard is it a virtue?

A virtue is that which you do to gain and keep your values. If you hold that the defense of your values (the act of keeping and protecting your values) is your moral obligation, then the condemnation and refusal to tolerate those that go against your values or directly threaten your values is merely a corollary of the same moral obligation. Intolerance is then a virtue when practiced in safeguarding your values.

Intolerance does not mean resorting to violence or the violation of rights but a clear and firm statement of denunciation, a condemnation of the immoral action or speech, a refusal to sanction and endorse, and a commitment to not cooperate.


Australia: Judge hostile to enemies of free speech at a supposed university

JUDGES serve up curly questions in court and let slip withering remarks for all manner of reasons. They may be deadly serious - or playing devil's advocate. They may be toying with an argument soon to be tossed aside like an unloved teddybear. They may be indulging the harmless sport of barrister-baiting. Only a reckless litigant would mistake an encouraging line in judicial banter with a decision in the case.

Even so, John Hookham and Gary MacLennan - the two senior lecturers in film suspended by the Queensland University of Technology - might reasonably take heart from what Jeffrey Spender had to say last week. Spender is the Federal Court judge who is to decide their case against QUT. They say the university behaved unfairly in suspending them for six months without pay. QUT had brought disciplinary charges against them after they went public, in the pages of the HES, with their campaign against the PhD reality TV-style project formerly known as Laughing at the Disabled. (Noonan says his project seeks to give the disabled a voice through comedy and studies the shifting line between laughing at and laughing with figures in contemporary humour. QUT says the campaign against Noonan and his work broke the rules of civil academic debate.)

Last week's hearing in Brisbane was just an interlocutary affair - the trial itself won't be heard until October - but Spender quickly got into a line of commentary that made QUT's counsel Walter Sofronoff understandably anxious. Here are some choice exchanges (with editing for brevity and some background in brackets).

Sofronoff: The (PhD) student, (Michael) Noonan, put up a piece of preliminary work for confirmation by his supervisors for academic comment and criticism.

Spender: Yes.

Sofronoff: Thereupon an attack ...

Spender: He received criticism that he didn't particularly like.

Sofronoff: No, your Honour. Not only was there criticism of his work, about which one can't complain, but there was a personal attack on him.

Spender: And what was the personal attack?

Sofronoff: There are a number.

Spender: The first count seems to be the personal attack on Noonan which consists in the statement (allegedly made by MacLennan, who has a son with a disability) "Thank God my son doesn't have to meet you" or words to that effect.

Sofronoff: Quite, your Honour. At an academic debate, (that statement was) made by a student's superior when the student is presenting academic work.

Spender: Yes, when the student is presenting a doctoral thesis entitled Laughing at the Disabled.

Sofronoff: Your Honour hasn't seen (the thesis film clips shown by Noonan).

Spender: No, neither did the (QUT) committee (which upheld disciplinary charges against Hookham and MacLennan).

Spender went on to note that Noonan had said MacLennan's statement "made him feel like a paedophile."

Sofronoff: Yes.

Spender: I would have thought that - at least in the real world - there's not a very great deal of difference between laughing at the disabled and abusing children.

Sofronoff: Your Honour, I wouldn't disagree with what you've just said. The question is, at the end of the day, whether Hookham and MacLennan have been dealt with rightly or not and your Honour is simply in no position this morning to make adverse comments about our case in the way that your Honour is doing.

Spender: Well, I am saying this because I want to convey to all the parties that I regard this as a very, very important case dealing with the nature of a university and what a university is - or ought to be - all about, and that there seems to me to be a terrible inherent tension between the claim that Noonan and his supervisors are entitled - consistently with the idea of a university - to embark upon a thesis of this kind and of this nature and that that task is not in breach of one of the five cardinal ethical principles that is to be derived from the Public Affairs Act, or whatever it is in section eight of the (QUT) code of conduct - respect for persons.

Sofronoff: But why does your Honour address me upon the assumption that anything Noonan did involved disrespect for any person?

Spender: Because that is what the exception taken by these two gentlemen (Hookham and MacLennan) was.

Sofronoff: I know, your Honour, but I have seen (Noonan's film clips) and your Honour hasn't. And your Honour is, with all due respect, not in a position to be making criticisms of the kind that your Honour is making now about either Noonan's work or about the attitude of the university. This is an interlocutory hearing and your Honour knows very little about the case at this stage.

Spender: Yes. As I said when I started speaking, I'm making these statements to give some impression of my attitude and what I regard as the important issues in this case to the parties in the hope that there might at least be a sensible resolution of this dispute before the final hearing. If that falls on infertile ground, so be it. But I don't want my concerns, uninformed as they are in the fullest, to be not conveyed to the parties.



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 July, 2007

Walgreens shakedown succeeds

America's largest pharmacy chain, Walgreens, has agreed to pay $20m to settle a federal lawsuit alleging discrimination against black workers. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) - a watchdog agency - says Walgreens sent black staff to low-performing stores in black areas. [Wow! Sending black staff to black areas! That was really tough!] African-American employees, including pharmacists and managers, were also denied promotions, the EEOC claims.

The settlement deal must still be approved by a federal judge. "We commend Walgreens for working cooperatively with us to reach an amicable settlement of this case without protracted litigation," EEOC Chair Naomi Earp said in a statement. Walgreens, which has denied the allegations throughout, said it was glad to have resolved the issue.

The EEOC launched its case after carrying out an investigation into 12 complaints filed by current and former Walgreens staff across the country. Most of the complaints in the class action suit came from workers and former staff in St Louis, Florida, Detroit and Kansas City. Lawyers say the $20m will be split among lawyers who handled the case and the more than 7,500 employees who brought a class action against the company.

Walgreens says it is the largest US pharmacy chain by sales, with more than 5,638 stores in 48 states and Puerto Rico, and recorded sales of $47.4bn in the 2006 financial year.


Put meddling judges in their place

Expect more turf battles as activists in the judiciary pilfer power from our elected representatives, writes Australian columnist Janet Albrechtsen

JUDICIAL activism has had its day. The experiment is over, says our federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock. With respect, wishful thinking will not end the power struggle between politicians and the judiciary under way for the past quarter century. If politicians are serious about protecting their turf from power-hungry judges, they may need to consider passing a new law. They could call it the Why We are Not Legislating Law. Shorthand for "Back off, judges", this law will tell judges their role is not to step in to fix a problem just because parliament has yet to solve it.

Why do we need such an unusual-sounding law? As revealed in The Weekend Australian's Inquirer, plenty of Australian judges stand ready to assume the role of law-maker, usurping the role of elected politicians. In a series of anonymous interviews with American academic Jason Pierce, our most senior judges admit they believe it is up to them to legislate from the bench whenever they feel politicians are too stupid, too slow or too cowardly to act.

Given that politicians are our elected representatives, judges are really telling us we, the people, are too stupid to get it right. While many of us suspected as much, judges have never before admitted to such a brazen belief in a judicial take over of the legislative role. They appear to be under the quaint impression their comments would remain buried away in an unpublished dissertation. Instead, their breathtaking candour is available for all to read. Indeed Pierce's book, Inside the Mason Court Revolution: The High Court of Australia Transformed should be mandatory reading for those politicians in charge of judicial appointments. The interviews reveal that the leading motivation behind the activist judges is filling what they perceive to be a political vacuum.

Some of our most senior judges believe the High Court's decision in Mabo, which overturned 200 years of settled law, was justified because, to quote a Federal Court judge, parliament "wimped out". When the "whole issue is too divisive ... it falls to the court to fill in," he said.

This chap is no renegade. Many are champing at the bit to resume the rampant activism unleashed by the High Court under Anthony Mason. Another Federal Court judge said: "With the two houses of parliament and the difficulty of the government actually commanding a majority ... it really does give courts the power to move where the legislature can't."

Make no mistake. We have an open declaration of war against our elected politicians. One senior Australian judge described an elected government as a "majoritarian autocracy". It was "a form of dictatorship as far as minorities and individuals are concerned".

The interviews make clear that many Australian judges watched with envy as the US Supreme Court under Earl Warren and successors implemented substantial social and political change without having to bother about the backroom deals or the pesky political processes needed to muster support from Congress. It's no coincidence judicial activism is often called "doing an end run around democracy". The Yanks may not have invented judicial hyper-thyroid activity but they turned it into a modern sport. From Brown v Board of Education to Roe v Wade and countless other decisions, US judges made changes that your ordinary activist could not have got through Congress quickly or at all. And judges here got a taste for it.

But those judges pumped up with impatience over social change fail to consider the enormous cost that comes from meddling in controversial issues. Indeed, the progressives who hail Roe v Wade, which usurped the role of state legislatures by cementing a federal right to abortion, never stop to think how that decision swept their conservative nemesis, George W. Bush, to power. The conservative backlash over Roe v Wade unified the religious Right into an enormously powerful political constituency that would back Bush all the way to the White House.

While history's verdict on US judicial activism is likely to be mixed - some good decisions, some bad - at least US judges had some legitimacy for their law-making. The US bill of rights, with its broad language and utopian ideals, was tailor-made for unelected judges to make law. In Australia, there is no constitutional bill of rights (yet). Traditionally, the pact between judges and politicians was that judges stayed out of politics. They interpreted the law, making small incremental changes where necessary. They did not make law. In return, politicians would leave judges alone to do their judge thing. However, idealism and the desire to be beloved in the right circles, coupled with the powerful US model, drove some judges - and their erstwhile supporters among legal ranks - to break that pact.

Fuelled by extraordinary judicial hubris, some Australian judges even regard the absence of a federal bill of rights in Australia as reason for them to step in. When the High Court dreamed up an implied right to freedom of political speech in our Constitution, one senior judge justified it as a "void-filling exercise ... In the absence of a bill of rights, there is a void there that from time to time has to be filled."

That grand-sounding path, where judges follow their meandering individual conscience, not what parliament lays down, is nothing short of judicial anarchy. Just as drug-taking, thieving parents make dreadful role models for their offspring, senior judges who openly showcase their addiction to pilfering power from politicians will inevitably lure junior judges down the wrong path. It's rule by lawyers, not rule of law. And their extraordinary egos prevent them from realising they are simply not up to the task. They lack the skills and the resources to fully explore the social, political and economic consequences of their activism.

History may well find that the Aboriginal rights era fuelled so heavily by Mabo in fact hurt the average Aborigine. The focus on land rights and the perfidy of white colonists enabled the growth of cancerous welfare dependence, exacerbating deep-seated problems of domestic violence and substance abuse within indigenous communities.

Given that judicial appointments season is on us - High Court Justice Ian Callinan steps down on September 1 - politicians had better choose the next High Court justice very carefully. Former US president Dwight Eisenhower would later describe his appointment of the activist Warren as "the biggest damn fool mistake I ever made". There is little point crying after the event. That's why, with war declared, politicians need to respond with their own heavy arsenal: a law instructing judges that, in a democracy, parliamentary inaction is no reason for judicial action.


Perverse Leftist myth of the noble savage in Australia

HARDLY a day has gone by in recent weeks without new reports of the sexual abuse of Aboriginal children in remote settlements. Last Monday we learned that more than 30 men had been implicated in sexual assaults on children as young as 11 at Halls Creek in Western Australia. Another 26 men from the Kimberley region were also expected to be charged with similar offences. At Yalata, in outback South Australia, an Aboriginal man was convicted on Wednesday of trading petrol for sex with three under-age girls, whom he'd later attempted to silence with death threats.

There's ample reason to believe the federal Government's intervention in the 60 or so isolated communities in the Northern Territory will uncover comparable levels of child abuse. Aboriginal women and children are increasingly finding the courage to speak to police prosecutors and to give evidence in the courts. What's more, black leaders such as Noel Pearson and Warren Mundine have been admirably forthright in saying that this is fundamentally a moral and legal issue rather than something that can be deplored and excused as a consequence of disadvantage or the dispossession of tribal land.

In the midst of all these painful but necessary attempts to come to grips with an intractable problem, which is far more prevalent in Aboriginal families than the rest of society, the last thing needed in the debate is a return to romanticising Aborigines and the myth of the noble savage. Yet it's the best that Robert Manne, identified in a recent Fairfax press straw poll as our foremost public intellectual, could bring to the national conversation in his column "The Lost, Enchanted World" in the June edition of The Monthly.

He speaks of Australian anthropologists of the past century observing "not an Edenic but an enchanted world, in the technical sense of the sociologist Max Weber. They discovered an intricate social order in which, through the kinship structure, every human being had a precise and acknowledged place. They discovered a world that was filled with economic purpose; leavened by playfulness, joy and humour; soaked in magic, sorcery, mystery and ritual; pregnant at every moment with deep and unquestioned meaning." [Yuk! What a wet dream!]

As habitual readers of this column will appreciate, I'm far from dismissive of world views that are suffused with the numinous and where, in American sociologist Peter Berger's famous phrase, the sky forms a sacred canopy. But Manne's emphasis on playfulness, joy and humour suggest to me that he's conjuring with the Arcadian fantasies of Jean-Jacques Rousseau rather than traditional Aboriginal life.

Enchantment, in the technical sense, ought not to blind us to the often murderous realities of hunter-gatherer existence. It's possible to understand the ritual or religious dimensions of practices such as infanticide and cannibalism, for example, without losing sight of what else was involved. A world filled with magic looks a whole lot less entrancing when you understand that most deaths other than in infancy or old age were explained in terms of malevolent sorcery and punished with endless irrational cycles of payback. Having a precise and acknowledged place in the scheme of things may not have been all that much of a comfort if it was a role of wretched subjugation as a young woman in a male gerontocracy.

Mircea Eliade, the great historian of religion, proposed some useful categories. In the case of the Aztecs, for example, he didn't hesitate to conclude that a society based on large-scale human sacrifice was a perversion of the religious impulse. Likewise, belief systems that legitimated constant inter-tribal warfare and an extremely high incidence of violent death were common to most hunter-gatherer societies. There is no sense in romanticising them.

Manne's account of the lost, enchanted world before the arrival of the First Fleet makes some concessions to reality. He says: "There is no doubt that in pre-contact Aboriginal society adult interpersonal violence of many kinds was very common: male on male; female on female; male on female; even, as we have seen, female on male. It is also clear that, although in Aboriginal society sex was decoupled from shame, sexual violence against women was common. "But it is acknowledged by almost everyone that no violence of any kind was directed against children."

The last point, that traditionally Aboriginal children were never subjected to any kind of violence, is the rhetorical climax of his argument and another lapse into Arcadian fantasy. He offers it as a complete refutation of Louis Nowra's book Bad Dreaming and in particular his argument that contemporary Aboriginal sexual abuse of children is an aggravated version of patterns of behaviour that were part of traditional culture. Manne says: "Any argument about contemporary abuse as a pathological tradition must begin by explaining the awkward fact that one of the two main forms of contemporary Aboriginal male violence - the sexual abuse of children - didn't exist in the pre-contact world."

But in this argument it is Manne who has a lot of awkward facts to explain. Nowra notes evidence of "boy-wife arrangements that are known to have existed late into the end of the 19th century", citing the work of Carl Strehlow. "Pederasty is a recognised custom among the Arunta and has a name, kwalanga. It prevails especially among the Western Loritja and tribes north of the MacDonnell Range, the Katitja, Ilpara, Warramunga, etc. Commonly a man, who is fully initiated but not yet married, takes a boy 10 or 12 years old, who lives with him for several years." Referring to the southern part of the Kimberley, he cites Alfred Radcliffe-Brown on "the custom for a man before marriage to take as a boy-lover a member of the prescribed kinship section from which he must later obtain his wife, and who is therefore sociologically equivalent to the wife's brother and sister's husband."

Nowra comments: "Boys in a boy-wife arrangement were called chookadoo (about age five) or mullawongah (ages five to seven). Some boys could remain in such a marriage up until the age of 11 ... Even into the 1930s, there was evidence of homosexuality (among) the Kimberley Aborigines. The youths of 17 or 18 who were still unmarried would take boys of 10 or 11 as lovers. "The women did not regard it as shameful and considered the practice a temporary substitute for marriage."

We can be reasonably confident that Manne has read the relevant chapter of Bad Dreaming because in his review article he complains about it specifically. If he has read it, the question then becomes: what part of the phrase boy-wives doesn't he understand? Does he imagine that these were partnerships willingly entered into and consensual, an indigenous variation on a Socratic theme? Does he deem the arrangements non-abusive, despite the involvement of children as young as five, because they were traditionally sanctioned?

Nowra's evidence of heterosexual abuse is just as compelling. For example, he says that "when a nine or 10-year-old girl was handed over to her husband, there was generally no sexual intercourse (until) after puberty" but notes anthropologist Phyllis Kaberry's caveat that "sexual intercourse without penetration did take place but infrequently". Can Manne, when he read it, have imagined that these relationships were free of psychological violence?

On the subject of incestuous abuse, Nowra summarises an account from A.W. Howitt's The Native Tribes of South-East Australia. "Girls from the Dieri tribe would be kidnapped by their intended husbands and friends, who would then drag her away, she screaming and biting as much as she was able. If she put up too much resistance, other men were called in to help constrain the struggling girl. Then all of the men took turns to have sex with her over a one or two-day period, which was regarded as consummation of the marriage. After this the group, with the resigned girl in tow, would return to camp, where there were 'several days of ceremonial dancing, during which time there was between her and the men of the camp a period of unrestricted licence, not even excluding her father'."

How could Manne have concluded "the sexual abuse of children did not exist in the pre-contact world", despite the anthropological evidence to the contrary? Perhaps once he began to imagine "the lost, enchanted world", he peopled it with noble savages who could do no wrong. Then again, perhaps he's simply adopting a Gramscian view of the past in which it doesn't matter what really happened and the only question worth worrying about is what sort of history best serves the interests of progressive politics.


Terrorism is real. Just ask those who have lost loved ones

The left is losing its sense of right and wrong in a frenzy to demonise conservatives, writes John Roskam

ONE OF the great myths of history is that communism never threatened Australia. It is a myth successfully propagated by generations of left-leaning academics. As the story goes, the danger of international communism during the Cold War was a figment of then prime minister Robert Menzies' imagination conjured up to embarrass the Labor Party. We're now witnessing vigorous efforts to create another historical fiction. It is a fiction based on the argument that terrorism has been merely "imagined" by Prime Minister John Howard.

The claim is that to improve his election chances the Prime Minister is instilling in the electorate baseless fears. This is the contention of La Trobe university professor of politics Judith Brett in a new edition of her book on the Liberal Party. According to her, Howard is "paranoid" about terrorism. Brett draws a parallel between Menzies and Howard. One invented the threat of communism and the other the threat of terrorism. In the same way that the Australian people were duped into believing that communism was real, so they have been duped into thinking the same of terrorism.

It's one thing to debate things such as the causes of terrorism and the best way to combat it, but it is something else entirely to question the reality of terrorism. There was nothing "imagined" about the murders in New York, Madrid, London, and Bali, or the recent attempted murders in London and Glasgow.

Brett's analysis is the latest manifestation of a pathology that seems to have engulfed the left. It is a pathology that denies the existence of any evidence at odds with a particular world view. This is a world view that sees George Bush, Tony Blair, and Howard as unremittingly malign and manipulative. They are considered to have no redeeming features and they are to be given no credit, for anything, ever. Whatever concern they display for the safety of their citizens is dismissed as mere posturing.

The cynicism of the left has almost turned into a form of inhumanity. This can be seen in the way the British playwright Alan Bennett responded in the wake of the London bombings in July 2005 in which 50 commuters were killed. Bennett's play The History Boys was recently performed in Melbourne. Instead of experiencing horror or shock or sympathy for the victims, Bennett's reaction was that the bombings were particularly "convenient" and "useful" to the political purposes of Tony Blair.

It is almost understandable why so many Australian historians have devoted their careers to playing down the menace of communism. Many of those same historians were members of the Communist Party or at least sympathetic to it. Even if the results of the communism in Eastern Europe or Asia could not be entirely ignored, at least it could be pretended that Marxism/Leninism in this country was of a more friendly variety. The proof of the harmlessness of communism is found in the fact that war didn't break out between the Americans and the Russians. And while Menzies' effort to ban the Communist Party gets all the attention, other things are overlooked. For example, it was not until Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 that communist-led trade unions in Australia committed themselves to the cause of the allies. For communists in this country, honouring the pact between Hitler and Stalin was more important than helping defend Britain against Nazism.

It's more difficult to appreciate why the impact of terrorism is minimised. It's not as though anyone who enjoys the freedoms provided by a liberal democracy can have any sympathy with the aims of jihadist terrorists. As has been said many times, those aims are antithetical to the values of freedom and tolerance, which are values that the left once believed in. It is not always the case that an enemy of an enemy is a friend.

Most likely what has happened is that a hatred of conservative political leaders has combined with a cultural relativism. Thus there is a refusal to acknowledge the existence of any universal application of the concepts of right and wrong.

Brett criticises Howard for regarding terrorism as "pure evil". This echoes one of the favourite accusations of George Bush's opponents, namely that he views the war on terror in black and white terms. But sometimes matters are black and white. Classifying something as "pure evil" doesn't satisfy the predilection of relativists for seeing shades of grey in everything. But surely there can be no other description for the sort of terrorism we've experienced. If the premeditated murder of thousands of people is not evil then what is it? What's at stake in the debate about terrorism is more than a question of historical interpretation. Unfortunately there's nothing imagined about terrorism.



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 July, 2007

Leftists to blame for a massacre of Americans

Did you notice how the trigger-happy "progressive" pundits have hastily assigned guilt for the Virginia Tech shooting to the American trigger-happy gun culture? How they use hateful epithets to project hatefulness on their fellow citizens? How they violently accuse Americans of violence, both physical and verbal? One has to wonder if the "progressives" possess the intellectual capacity to notice how ridiculous their method of psychological projection appears to an objective observer.

I can't help but deduce that the ugly picture they paint of America is something they see every morning in the proverbial mirror - a brainless, spineless, useless creature with an ego so huge that it obscures the horizon. It's the image they love to loathe, and they project this loathing on the rest of us with all the energy of their "progressive" synapses. "Take this, America! You made me do this!"

"Progressive" opinions about the Virginia Tech massacre differ in range, caliber, and precision - from gloating at Virginians over lax gun laws to such nightmarish mind-trips as giving semi-automatic weapons with plenty of ammunition to every thug, homeless guy, and crazy in the ghetto - throwing in some money for bus fare to the white suburbs - with the hope that then white America might finally wake up to its own immorality. To be a "progressive" you must also believe that everything is America's fault. No matter what happens, there can only be one culprit: rich white America. This country has become the formulaic murderous butler in just about every "who-done-it" Hollywood movie issued since the censure of Joe McCarthy.

Last week on Good Morning America Terry Moran famously advised, "Don't feel too sorry for the victims. They were probably all white, rich, and privileged." Referring to the falsely accused Duke University students, he unwittingly betrayed a moral stratagem that the "progressive" groupthink has been using to dissect any calamity that befell their fellow Americans, framing it in terms of politically correct class struggle.

In the days of "Beltway Sniper" shootings five years ago I debated a group of "progressive humanists" who "weren't too sorry for the victims" either, calling them exactly that - "white, rich, and privileged" - even though it wasn't always the case. The way these "humanists" could dehumanize their fellow humans by wrapping them into Marxist labels was confounding. Even more confounding was their compulsive need to look for redeeming signs of class strife in any sociopathic murder case.

Today the same "progressives" ritualistically claim high moral ground by deriding the mainstream media for hyping the murder of some 33 rich white kids at Virginia Tech .... let's take a look at the "rich kids" part of the formula. It's important because Virginia Tech's psychotic murderer didn't like "rich kids" either. The killer spoke about his hate at length in his final message. It seems that Cho Seung-Hui and the "progressive" authors who try to explain him share the same blistering class envy. Is it a coincidence - or is it something more profound? Is it perhaps a common denominator?

Considering their own privileged positions and mostly middle class backgrounds, the "progressives" loathing of "rich kids" can hardly be traced to meaningful personal grievances. They seem to be deeply infected by something else, something I like to call "second-hand envy" and "phantom grievances." This is similar to the Marxist concept of false consciousness, only not as far-fetched. Let's see what this means.

There's little doubt that Cho, a mentally disturbed kid, had been exposed to the "social justice" and "class strife" rhetoric in school. These teachings are a near mandatory supplement served to most American kids, explicitly or implicitly, courtesy of public education. Once in college the intake of the "progressive" formula only tends to increase, involving heavy doses of every grievance man, woman, or beast has ever had from the beginning of time, factual or imaginary. All this is served up under the generic label of "social sciences." So when a young student's budding paranoia begins to torment him with phantoms of horrific social injustice, prompting him to shoot indiscriminately at the dehumanized mass of "rich kids" while imagining himself a heroic avenger of the oppressed victims, is it really the fault of the National Rifle Association?

Was Cho denied privileges? Being a senior at one of the most prestigious engineering universities in the US and living on campus is a privilege by most standards. Yet his suicidal message contained a long diatribe about his hatred of the wealthy and the privileged.... In another time and place this passage might be hailed as a moving manifesto of an idealistic revolutionary hero fighting for social causes. Che Guevara, anybody? Who knows how many revolutionary "heroes" of the past who are lionized on today's campuses had been tormented by the same mental disorder that turned Cho into a mass murderer? Che Guevara also believed that "a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate." Che had killed many more "rich kids" than Cho - yet his deeds are glorified by Hollywood, his writings are published worldwide, and his pictures are plastered over the t-shirts of a new generation of "rich kids"...

Depression and paranoia do terrible things to the mind regardless of ideology, turning the individual into a loose cannon. Throw a radical ideology into the mix and it quickly removes the safety lock and points the weapon in a certain direction. Why is it that in the previous decades, when life was tougher, guns were just as available, and the ratio of mental disorders was about the same, mass shootings were unheard of? Some would say that those people had not yet been corrupted by moral relativism, desensitized by Hollywood's fantasy violence and glorification of crime, nor addicted to gory point-and-shoot videogames. All valid points - yet one major reason for this hardly gets any notice. I mean, of course, the dehumanizing effect of the so-called "progressive" education.

The truth is that the radical "progressive" ideology (a broad term embracing many offshoots of Marxism) dehumanizes people more effectively than any violent point-and-shoot video game ever could. It pits various groups of people against one another by cultivating envy and grievances that are mostly imaginary and second-hand. In the politically correct book of "progress," man is no longer judged by the content of his character - but by the color of his skin, class, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other secondary attribute. The trick is that when a secondary attribute becomes the primary one, man loses his unique individuality and becomes a mere social function, a drone in a collective, a peg in the machine, a sacrificial animal on the altar of "progress."

"Progressivism" remains more or less benign as long the nation on which exists like a parasite remains wealthy. But as soon as the wealth is squandered and there are no surpluses left to redistribute, human sacrifice begins. The final argument behind every well-meaning "progressive" scheme is always a gun pointed at those unwilling to be enslaved or give up their wealth for redistribution. Planned mass murders and incarcerations of "enemies of the people" committed by every communist regime on the planet provide enough evidence of that. "Progressive" ideology denies moral absolutes, yet it assumes the moral authority to give a license to kill in the name of a delirious utopia....

Under Che's brief management Cuban economy hit an all-time low, quickly turning one of the wealthiest Latin American countries into one of the poorest. To accomplish this great feat Che murdered thousands of "rich kids" of the bourgeois class who stood in the way. If this isn't criminal insanity, what is? Yet "progressive" educators in the U.S. continue to decorate classrooms with Che Guevara portraits and arrange "educational" school trips to Cuba. Tell me this is not a mind-trip of madmen. The inmates are now running the asylum. Which brings us back to the issue of school shootings.

Besides acting as a catalyst on a depressed mind, "progressive" education is also a major cause of depression in itself. Imagine growing up while believing that yours is the worst country on the planet, guilty of death and suffering of millions of poor people worldwide, who are being wantonly killed, robbed, enslaved, raped, and tortured so that your mom could shop at the mall and your dad could fill up the tank. The species are dying, the rainforest is dwindling, the ozone hole is growing, and the globe is warming. If it is frightful enough to turn a sensitive adult into a guilt-ridden neurotic, think about a ten-year-old who, in addition, lives with the fear that if we all don't die of skin cancer by the age of thirty, global warming and raising sea levels will finish everyone off anyway.

Somehow these particular paranoid fantasies cooked up in the mind of a madman have not yet caused anyone to be detained and evaluated at a mental health facility. No court has determined that they constitute an imminent danger to society. While there is plenty of fingerpointing with regards to the Virginia Tech shooting, someone should also mention the responsibility of those who poisoned Cho's disturbed mind with class hatred, envy, and falsely interpreted ideas of justice and social duty.

Could those educators who impose such insanity on their students please explain if there is anything, in their view, left in this world for our children to live for? Other than, of course, to continue the struggle for "progress." But that is manifestly not a skill or a trait of character that will help them to become happy, self-sustaining, professional individuals. All it can do is replenish the cancerous growth that is consuming this society, replacing its productive and vibrant cells with mutated dysfunctional neoplasm.

Now we can only guess if the injection of "progressive" class hatred had aggravated Cho's madness, but it surely had given him a frame of reference and the direction to channel his rage. Without it, perhaps, a certain amount of medication could help him to move on and focus on writing more of his disturbing plays, maybe even joining a circle of his peers in Hollywood. He could make a career by scripting those shockingly dark, violent movies that demonize Western Civilization, Christianity, Capitalism, and Family - always a winner in the Movie Academy circles. If his student play McBeef is any indication, Cho could have become our next Tarantino, conditioning a new generation of movie goers with irrational violence and high scatological drama. No need to stalk "hedonistic brats and snobs" anymore - they'd be stalking Cho themselves, some of them offering free sex for an autograph.


Ayaan Hirsi Ali Squashes an anti-American fanatic

Post lifted from Moonbattery

Ayaan Hirsi Ali escaped from Muslim oppression in Africa and the Middle East only to meet up with it again in the Netherlands, where she became a member of Parliament, but was then driven out of the country by dhimmis after incurring the wrath of Muslims for daring to criticize their barbaric cult. Her autobiographical Infidel comes highly recommended.

Hirsi Ali has shown not only tremendous courage in standing up to the Islamic thugs who murdered her friend Theo Van Gogh, but an incredibly strong stomach in being able to sit through an interview with the gut-wrenchingly vile Avi Lewis of Canada's taxpayer-financed CBC. The interview featured a relentless barrage of cartoonish anti-American propaganda from the insufferably condescending Lewis, who accused America of being a theocracy where abortion doctors are routinely shot, "homophobia is rampant," etc., etc.

When Hirsi Ali effortlessly shot down his hyperbolic allegations regarding America's oppression of Muslims by pointing out that if Muslims really were oppressed, they would leave, Lewis started to lose his composure, sneering nastily:

Your faith in American democracy is just eh eh delightful.
Her calm reply:

It's the best democracy in the world. It's the best place to be.
On CBC, this constitutes blasphemy. Lewis was becoming visibly unhinged as he sputtered:

Tell that to the people who believe there have been a couple of stolen elections. That the democracy is completely broken.
When she countered his allegations that the USA is a plutocracy by observing that you can arrive penniless in America and become fabulously wealthy, Lewis completely lost his composure:

Is there a school where they teach you these American clichés? Is it part of your application process that you have to… I'm sorry… I'm so upset that I'm losing my cards here. I can't believe you just said that.
The time had come for Hirsi Ali to stop pretending Lewis was mature enough to conduct a rational conversation, and to put him in his place:

I've lived in countries that had no democracy, that had no Founding Fathers […] so I don't find myself in the same luxury as you. You grew up in freedom, and you can spit on freedom, because you don't know what it is not to have freedom.
That about sums up the mentality of the liberal media.

Australia: Hate-filled Leftist broadcaster in trouble at last

Note the following comment from Carlton on George Bush: "Not so this strutting Texan mountebank, with his chimpanzee smirk and his born-again banalities delivered in that constipated syntax that sounds the way cold cheeseburgers look, and his grinning plastic wife, and his scheming junta of neo-con spivs, shamans, flatterers and armchair warmongers, and his sinuous evasions and his brazen lies, and his sleight of hand"

BESIEGED 2UE radio jock Mike Carlton is "on borrowed time" as management yesterday publicly outed him as "despicable", "disgraceful", "pathetic", "appalling", "unreasonable" and "unbelievable". Setting up a clear mandate to dump the breakfast host, Carlton was hung out to dry by a furious Southern Cross Broadcasting management yesterday after telling listeners he "loathed" and "hated" his former colleague Stan Zemanek. Carlton said he would only go to his funeral "to check he was actually dead."

The comments, said to have made Zemanek's wife Marcella "sick to the stomach" and devastated his two daughters as they prepared for the funeral, were born of "a despicable hatred of the kind seen only in the Middle East", Carlton's boss Southern Cross Broadcasting's group general manager Graham Mott said yesterday. "It's just despicable. As I said to Mike it's hatred like you see in the Middle East, it's absolute rubbish. "There's no going back, no recovery from those words," he said.

Carlton's contract is up for renewal at the end of the year but the stinging attack from management - which was reiterated in an unprecedented memo to all Southern Cross Broadacsting staff yesterday - gives ample cause to sack Carlton for bringing the station into disrepute, a station source said. "This is totally unheard of. He's got to be out the door," a 2UE source said last night. Leaving open the option to dismiss Carlton, Mott said it was a matter for behind closed doors. "That's not for public consumption," he said.

But he was so incensed by Carlton's behaviour - and by that of drive presenter Steve Price who replayed the comments on his show and condemned Carlton's "bad taste and bad behaviour" - that he described the incident in his memo as one of 2UE's "darkest moments". "This whole episode is one of our darkest moments and I hope we can move forward with the knowledge that while we may not always agree with each other and we may not like each other; we should at least respect the dead along with their family and friends and we MUST NEVER subject our listeners to such disgraceful behaviour ever again," the memo to more than 100 staff read. "Mike has gone too far and his comments are despicable," it said. Mott said it was a cowardly act to publicly attack a dead man just hours before he was due to be cremated. "I knew they didn't like each other but you don't use airtime to play it out - and it's not exactly very brave to do that when the guy is dead is it?"


A return to paternalism that might do some good

This has a lot of similarities to how Australian blacks were managed in the '50s and earlier

ABORIGINAL leader Noel Pearson yesterday hailed a $48 million program aimed at wresting four Cape York communities from the grip of passive welfare as "the most significant reform in welfare since the Second World War". Under the plan announced yesterday by Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough and Mr Pearson, the 3000 residents of four key Aboriginal communities on Cape York will have to accept responsibility for the healthy upbringing of their children, properly maintain and pay rent on their homes, and work to get off "sit-down money" welfare payments. Failure to accept responsibility could result in having a significant portion of welfare payments made to individuals taken from them and managed by a responsible family or community member.

Mr Brough said $48million had been allocated for the four-year trial at the Aurukun, Hopevale, Mossman Gorge and Coen communities, commencing early next year. Under the plan, the Queensland Government will introduce legislation establishing a Family Responsibilities Commission to enforce the welfare obligations. The commission would be chaired by a retired magistrate and include respected Aboriginal members of each of the four communities participating in the trial.

Mr Pearson explained that the commission would work with families and communities to deal with issues of drug and alcohol dependency, violence, child neglect and truancy, gambling and poor financial management.

The federal funding commitment was made after Mr Brough's cabinet colleagues accepted recommendations in a report titled From Hand Out to Hand Up, compiled by the Cape York Institute, which is headed by Mr Pearson. Mr Pearson, who has fought for nine years for reform of what he calls "welfare passivity", said the Government's support for the institute's plan would allow comprehensive reforms to rebuild social norms and create incentives for economic development and growth in Cape York.

Mr Brough said the Government's support was "an expression of the overwhelming desire of people in Cape York to ensure their children grow up in a safe home, attend school and enjoy the same opportunities as any other Australian child". "The trials in these four communities aim to promote engagement in the real economy, reduce passive welfare and rebuild social norms, particularly as they affect the wellbeing of children. "A major feature of the reforms is the introduction of a set of obligations attaching to welfare payments, which will require parents to send their children to school and protect them from harm and neglect. "The housing reforms require tenants to comply with lease conditions. "If people do not uphold the law, welfare sanctions may be introduced to those convicted of domestic violence, drugs or alcohol offences."

Mr Pearson was careful to emphasise that people would not have welfare money docked before a "help" process, including interviews with relationships and violence counsellors and-or financial managers, was exhausted. If recalcitrant or criminal conduct persisted, the Family Responsibilities Commission would determine whether there had been a breach of any of the "obligations". The federal Government will amend legislation to enable Centrelink to redirect a person's welfare payments as directed by the commission.

The federal funding also provides for the establishment of a trust to assist parents to contribute to their children's education and, in some cases, to help send them away to secondary boarding colleges and university. Mr Pearson said Hopevale was "the best home in the world" when he was a child, despite being brought up in poverty. "It's going to be a very rocky road," he said, "but if we get these changes made, I believe that one day soon my community will have children who will look back on their childhood and say, 'This is the best place in the world'."



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 July, 2007

Here is the news (as we want to report it)

By Antony Jay, brilliant co-writer of "Yes Minister" and former BBC denizen

This week the BBC was forced to apologise to the Queen for falsely claiming that she stormed out of a photo shoot. We shouldn't be surprised, says former producer Antony Jay. In this exclusive extract from a brilliant new CPS pamphlet, he argues that the anti-establishment views at the heart of the corporation have always dictated its mind set

I think I am beginning to see the answer to a question that has puzzled me for the past 40 years. The question is simple - much simpler than the answer: what is behind the opinions and attitudes of what are called the chattering classes? They are that minority characterised (or caricatured) by sandals and macrobiotic diets, but in a less extreme form found in the Guardian, Channel 4, the Church of England, academia, showbusiness and BBC News and Current Affairs, who constitute our metropolitan liberal media consensus - though the word "liberal" would have Adam Smith rotating at maximum velocity in his grave. Let's call it "media liberalism".

It is of particular interest to me because for nine years (1955-1964) I was part of this media liberal consensus. For six of those nine years I was working on Tonight, a nightly BBC current affairs television programme. My stint coincided almost exactly with Macmillan's premiership, and I do not think my ex-colleagues would quibble if I said we were not exactly diehard supporters. But we were not just anti-Macmillan; we were anti-industry, anti-capitalism, anti-advertising, anti-selling, anti-profit, anti-patriotism, anti-monarchy, anti-Empire, anti-police, anti-armed forces, anti-bomb, anti-authority. Almost anything that made the world a freer, safer and more prosperous place, you name it, we were anti it.

It was (and is) essentially, though not exclusively, a graduate phenomenon. From time to time it finds an issue that strikes a chord with the broad mass of the nation, but in most respects it is wildly unrepresentative of national opinion. When the Queen Mother died the media liberal press dismissed it as an event of no particular importance, and were mortified to see the vast crowds lining the route for her funeral, and the great flood of national emotion that it released.

Although I was a card-carrying media liberal for the best part of nine years, there was nothing in my past to predispose me towards membership. I spent my early years in a country where every citizen had to carry identification papers. All the newspapers were censored, as were all letters abroad; general elections had been abolished - it was a one-party state. Citizens were not allowed to go overseas without travel passes (which were rarely issued). People were imprisoned without trial, and the government could tell you what job to do and jail you if you didn't do it. Some of my contemporaries were forced to work in the mines.

Yes, that was Britain. Britain from 1939 to 1945. I was nine when the war started, and 15 when it ended, and accepted these restrictions unquestioningly. I was astounded when identity cards were abolished. And the social system was at least as authoritarian as the political system. It was shocking for an unmarried couple to sleep together and a disgrace to have a baby out of wedlock. A homosexual act incurred a jail sentence. Divorc‚es would not be considered for the honours list or the Royal Enclosure at Ascot. Procuring an abortion was a criminal offence. Violent young criminals were birched, older ones were flogged, and murderers were hanged. Two years' National Service was compulsory for 18-year-olds. Small children sat in rows in the classroom and were caned if they misbehaved. Drugs were confined to the surgery (and the aristocracy). The bobby on the beat made sure the streets were safe at night. And for an England cricket captain to miss a Test Match by flying home to be present at the birth of his child would have ruled him out of serious consideration not just as a cricketer but as a man.

So what happened? How did we get from there to here? Unless we understand that, we shall never get inside the media liberal mind. And the starting point is the realisation that there have always been two principal ways of misunderstanding a society: by looking down on it from above, and by looking up at it from below. In other words, by identifying with institutions or by identifying with individuals.

To look down on society from above, from the point of view of the ruling groups, the institutions, is to see the dangers of the organism splitting apart, the individual components shooting off in different directions, until everything dissolves into anarchy. Those who see society in this way are preoccupied with the need for order, discipline, control, authority and organisation.

To look up at society from below, from the point of view of the lowest group, the governed, is to see the dangers of the organism growing ever more rigid and oppressive until it fossilises into a monolithic tyranny. Those who see society in this way are preoccupied with the need for liberty, equality, self-expression, representation, freedom of speech and action and worship, and the rights of the individual. The reason for the popularity of these misunderstandings is that both views are correct, as far as they go, and both sets of dangers are real but there is no "right" point of view. The most you can ever say is that sometimes society is in danger from too much authority and uniformity and sometimes from too much freedom and variety.

In retrospect it seems pretty clear that the 1940s and 1950s were years of excessive authority and uniformity. It was certainly clear to me and my media liberal colleagues in the BBC. It was not that we openly and publicly criticised the government on air; the BBC's commitment to impartiality was more strictly enforced in those days. But the topics we chose and the questions we asked were slanted against institutions and towards oppressed individuals, just as we achieved political balance by pitting the most plausible critics of government against its most bigoted supporters. And when in 1963 John Profumo was revealed as having slept with a call girl and lied to Parliament about it, the emotion that gripped us all was sheer uncontrollable glee. It was a wonderful vindication of all we believed. It proved the essential rottenness of the institution.

Ever since 1963, the institutions have been the villains of the media liberals. The police, the armed services, the courts, political parties, multinational corporations - when things go wrong, they are the usual suspects. In my media liberal days our attitude to institutions varied from suspicion to hostility. From our point of view, the view from below, they were all potential threats to human freedom. Even though I worked in a great institution, I did not identify with it. To describe a colleague as anti-BBC was a term of praise.

Obviously all institutions have to be watched pretty closely. Although their justification lies in the service they provide, their fundamental objective has always been self-preservation. Without their critics, 10-year-old children would still be going up chimneys, women would not be able to vote, and sheep-stealers would still be being hanged. Nevertheless they are all that stands between the civilised world and the chaos of anarchy or the violence of tyranny.

It would have been more than reasonable for us to have opposed specific abuses by institutions; homosexual acts were decriminalised during my BBC years, which we all applauded. But the focus of our hostility was the institutions themselves. It was not - and is not - shared by the majority of our fellow citizens: most of our opinions were at odds with the majority of the audience and the electorate.

Indeed, the BBC's own 2007 report on impartiality found that 57 per cent of poll respondents said that "Broadcasters often fail to reflect the views of people like me". It often surprised me how regularly the retired brigadier from Bournemouth and the taxi driver from Ilford were united against our media liberal consensus. Those same media liberals who today demonise Margaret Thatcher simply cannot understand why she won big majorities in three successive general elections and is judged by historians around the world as having been Britain's most successful peacetime prime minister of the 20th century.

So how did it happen that this minority media liberal subculture managed to install itself as the principal interpreter of Britain's institutions to the British public? And even more interestingly, where do its opinions and attitudes come from?

Some of the ingredients have a proud and ancient lineage: resistance to oppressive political and social authority, championship of the poor, the Factory Acts and the abolition of the slave trade, are golden threads that run though the fabric of British history. But there are four new factors which in my lifetime have brought about the changes which have shaped media liberalism, encouraged its spread, and significantly increased its influence and importance.

The first of these is detribalisation. That our species has evolved a genetic predisposition to form tribal groups is generally accepted as an evolutionary fact. This grouping - of not more than about five or six hundred - supplies us with our identity, status system, territorial instinct, behavioural discipline and moral code. It survived the transition from hunting to agriculture: the hunting tribe became the farming village. It even survived the early days of the industrial revolution, in pit and mill villages: the back-to-back city slums were the tribal encampments of industrial Britain.

But the evolution of cities, of commuter and dormitory suburbs, has deprived millions of people of tribal living. There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child, but fewer and fewer of us are now brought up in villages, even urban villages. The enormous popularity of television soap operas is because they provide detribalised viewers with vicarious membership of a fictional, surrogate tribe. Many people find strong substitute tribes at their places of work - they are not the birth-to-death, 24 hours a day tribes we evolved from, but they provide many of the same social needs.

But we in the BBC were acutely detribalised; we were in a tribal institution, but we were not of it. Nor did we have any geographical tribe; we lived in commuter suburbs, we knew very few of our neighbours, and took not the slightest interest in local government. In fact we looked down on it. Councillors were self-important nobodies and mayors were a pompous joke.

We belonged instead to a dispersed ''metropolitan-media-arts-graduate'' tribe. We met over coffee, lunch, drinks and dinner to reinforce our views on the evils of apartheid, nuclear deterrence, capital punishment, the British Empire, big business, advertising, public relations, the Royal Family, the defence budget. it's a wonder we ever got home. We so rarely encountered any coherent opposing arguments that we took our group-think as the views of all right-thinking people.

The second factor which shaped our media liberal attitudes was a sense of exclusion. We saw ourselves as part of the intellectual ‚lite, full of ideas about how the country should be run, and yet with no involvement in the process or power to do anything about it. Being na‹ve in the way institutions actually work, yet having good arts degrees from reputable universities, we were convinced that Britain's problems were the result of the stupidity of the people in charge. We ignored the tedious practicalities of getting institutions to adopt and implement ideas.

This ignorance of the realities of government and management enabled us to occupy the moral high ground. We saw ourselves as clever people in a stupid world, upright people in a corrupt world, compassionate people in a brutal world, libertarian people in an authoritarian world. We were not Marxists but accepted a lot of Marxist social analysis. Some people called us arrogant; looking back, I am afraid I cannot dispute the epithet.

We also had an almost complete ignorance of market economics. That ignorance is still there. Say ''Tesco'' to a media liberal and the patellar reflex says, "Exploiting African farmers and driving out small shopkeepers". The achievement of providing the range of goods, the competitive prices, the food quality, the speed of service and the ease of parking that attract millions of shoppers every day does not show up on the media liberal radar.

The third factor arises from the nature of mass media. The Tonight programme had a nightly audience of about eight million. It was much easier to keep their attention by telling them they were being deceived or exploited by big institutions than by saying what a good job the government and the banks and the oil companies were doing.

The fourth factor is what has been called ''isolation technology''. Fifty years ago, people did things together much more. The older politicians we interviewed in the early Tonight days were happier (and much more effective) in public meetings than in television studios. In those days people went to evening meetings. They formed collective opinions. In many places party allegiance was collective and hereditary rather than a matter of individual choice based on a logical comparison of policies.

It is astonishing how many of the technological inventions of the past century have had the effect of separating us off from the group. The car takes us out of public transport, central heating lets each member of a family do their own thing in their own room, watching their own television, listening to their own music, surfing the net on their own PC or talking to a friend on their own mobile. The fridge, the microwave and the takeaway mean that everyone can have their own meal in their own time. Our knowledge of public events and political arguments come direct from the media rather than from a face-to-face group. We still have some local, territorial group memberships, but their importance is now much diminished and their influence weakened.

These four factors have significantly accelerated, and indeed intensified, the spread of media liberalism since I ceased to be a BBC employee 40 years ago. It still champions the individual against the institution. The BBC's 2007 impartiality report reflects widespread support for the idea that there is "some sort of BBC liberal consensus". Its commissioning editor for documentaries, Richard Klein, has said: "By and large, people who work in the BBC think the same, and it's not the way the audience thinks." The former BBC political editor Andrew Marr says: "There is an innate liberal bias within the BBC".

For a time it puzzled me that after 50 years of tumultuous change the media liberal attitudes could remain almost identical to those I shared in the 1950s. Then it gradually dawned on me: my BBC media liberalism was not a political philosophy, even less a political programme. It was an ideology based not on observation and deduction but on faith and doctrine. We were rather weak on facts and figures, on causes and consequences, and shied away from arguments about practicalities. If defeated on one point we just retreated to another; we did not change our beliefs. We were, of course, believers in democracy. The trouble was that our understanding of it was structurally simplistic and politically na‹ve. It did not go much further than one-adult-one-vote.

We ignored the whole truth, namely that modern Western civilisation stands on four pillars, and elected governments is only one of them. Equally important is the rule of law. The other two are economic: the right to own private property and the right to buy and sell your property, goods, services and labour. (Freedom of speech, worship, and association derive from them; with an elected government and the rule of law a nation can choose how much it wants of each). We never got this far with our analysis. The two economic freedoms led straight to the heresy of free enterprise capitalism - and yet without them any meaningful freedom is impossible.

But analysis was irrelevant to us. Ultimately, it was not a question of whether a policy worked but whether it was right or wrong when judged by our media liberal moral standards. There was no argument about whether, say, capital punishment worked. If retentionists came up with statistics showing that abolition increased the number of murders we simply rejected them.

The same moral imperatives determined our attitude to the dissolution of the British Empire. It was right, so there was no further argument. We would not even discuss whether the prosperity and happiness of the Ugandans or the Rhodesians or the Nigerians would be better served by a partial or more gradual transfer of power; it had to be total and it had to be immediate. We were horrified by the arrogant way our grandparents' generation had used their political and economic power to impose Christianity on religiously backward peoples. Were we, as missionaries for democracy, not guilty of imposing media liberal democracy in exactly the same way?

If I had to mount a defence of our media liberalism, I would say that in the first place the BBC was still in the shadow of John Reith. Political impartiality was much more strictly enforced than today. In the second place we had seen all too clearly the dangers of oppressive and unchallenged authority in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. In the third place, there were areas of British life - the legal status of women, homosexuality, divorce, penal policy - in which most people agreed that liberal reform was necessary. In the fourth place, large areas of British life - the law, industry, banking, the Civil Service, the Armed Forces, the Cabinet - were dominated by an upper class ‚lite who were holding the country back. For all these reasons I would defend, not our ideas and attitudes, but at least their consequences. I believe - well, at least hope - that we did not do too much damage.

I do not think the same is true today. The four mitigating factors above have faded into insignificance, but the media liberal ideology is stronger than ever. Today, we see our old heresy becoming the new orthodoxy: media liberalism has now been adopted by the leaders of all three political parties, by the police, the courts and the Churches. It is enshrined in law - in the human rights act, in much health and safety legislation, in equal opportunities, in employment protections, in race relations and in a whole stream of edicts from Brussels.

It is not so much that their ideas and arguments are harebrained and impracticable: some of their causes are in fact admirable. The trouble - you might even say the tragedy - is that their implementation by governments eager for media approval has progressively damaged our institutions. Media liberal pressure has prompted a stream of laws, regulations and directives to champion the criminal against the police, the child against the school, the patient against the hospital, the employee against the company, the soldier against the army, the borrower against the bank, the convict against the prison - there is a new case in the papers almost every day, and each victory is a small erosion of the efficiency and effectiveness of the institution.

I can now see that my old BBC media liberalism was not a basis for government. It was an ideology of opposition, valuable for restraining the excesses of institutions and campaigning against the abuses of authority but it was not a way of actually running anything. It serves a vital function when government is dictatorial and oppressive, but when government is ineffective and over-permissive it is hopelessly inappropriate.

I can't deny that my perceptions have come through the experience of leaving the BBC. Suppose I had stayed. Would I have remained a devotee of the metropolitan media liberal ideology that I once absorbed so readily? I have an awful fear that the answer is yes.


Australian visa laws 'unfair' to Muslims

The poor little precious petals are being asked to name their families. What an outrage!

NEW laws that demand Arabs seeking visa entry into Australia provide the names of their parents and grandfather hint at racial and religious profiling, according to a leading Islamic group. "It would be pretty naive to think there is no religious profiling going on (with visa applicants), even if it's not officially recognised," said the Islamic Council of Victoria's spokesman, Waleed Aly.

Australian security agencies had asked for the new regulations that require extra personal information from Arabic visa applicants to include the names of their parents and grandfather. Other visa applicants, including those from China and Russia, are also being required to provide additional information about the spelling of names and ancestral names before being granted entry to Australia.

The Federal Government has insisted there is no racial or religious profiling in Australia's immigration programs. Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews' spokeswoman said the changes would help in the proper identification of applicants and their character. "The question that has been included in the new form (about Arabic grandfathers) is designed to enable more accurate and higher-quality identification of visa applicants," she said.

But Mr Aly said his own experiences had shown him racial and religious characteristics were focused on by border officials. Mr Aly said despite random searches being conducted at Australian airports, he had become used to always being stopped and questioned, and that many Australian Muslims knew that they would come under special attention, especially at airports. "They disproportionately focus on people who are Muslim or who appear to be Muslim," he said.

All visa applicants aged 16 and older wanting to visit Australia must fill out a character assessment form, which identifies their siblings and parents. But regulations brought in this year require Arabic, Chinese and Russian visa applicants to provide extra detail. For Russian citizens they must include their patronymic or ancestral name, and Chinese applicants must provide their name in commercial code numbers, which relates to Chinese characters, and in English



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 July, 2007

Some religions are more equal than others

A BRITISH teenager whose teachers had stopped her wearing a "purity ring" at school to symbolise her commitment to virginity lost a High Court fight against the ban today. Lydia Playfoot, 16, says her silver ring is an expression of her faith and had argued in court that it should be exempt from school regulations banning the wearing of jewellery. "I am very disappointed by the decision this morning by the High Court not to allow me to wear my purity ring to school as an expression of my Christian faith not to have sex outside marriage," Miss Playfoot said. "I believe that the judge's decision will mean that slowly, over time, people such as school governors, employers, political organisations and others will be allowed to stop Christians from publicly expressing and practising their faith."

Miss Playfoot's legal challenge was the latest in a series of disputes in British schools in recent years over the right of pupils to wear religious symbols or clothing, such as crucifixes and veils. Last year, the Law Lords rejected Shabina Begum's appeal for permission to wear, against her Luton school's uniform policy, a Muslim gown. That case echoed a debate in France over the banning of Muslim headscarves in state schools.

Miss Playfoot's parents are key members of the British arm of the American chastity campaign group the Silver Ring Thing, a religious group which urges abstinence among young people. Those who sign up wear a ring on the third finger of the left hand. It is inscribed with "Thess. 4:3-4", a reference to a Biblical passage from Thessalonians which reads: "God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of all sexual sin."

During the case, Miss Playfoot's lawyers argued that the ban by her school in Horsham, West Sussex, breached her human rights to "freedom of thought, conscience and religion" which are protected by the European Convention on Human Rights. Lawyers for the school denied discrimination and said the purity ring breached its rules on wearing jewellery.

They said allowances were made for Muslim and Sikh pupils only for items integral to their religious beliefs and that, for the same reason, crucifixes were also allowed. But it argued that the purity ring was not an integral part of the Christian faith. [There is only ONE version of Christianity????]


Galloway suspended

Post lifted from Don Surber. See the original for links

The British Parliament will suspend George Galloway, The Times of London reported. Galloway finally pays for the kickbacks he received under Saddam Hussein's Oil-for-Food scam, in which Iraq bought off the UN (Kofi Annan's son was among the many frontmen).

Said the Times:

In 1998 Galloway founded the Mariam Appeal, which campaigned for the lifting of sanctions on Iraq. The appeal, which paid Galloway's wife and funded international travel for the MP, received almost œ450,000 from Fawaz Zureikat, a Jordanian businessman who was also a trustee of the appeal. It subsequently emerged that more than half of this money came from the proceeds of Iraqi oil sales. An investigation by the American Senate alleged that the Mariam Appeal was used by the Iraqi regime to finance Galloway.

American liberals have praised this crook repeatedly, especially after a lie-spewed spiel he gave in 2005. Daily Kos said at the time: "George Galloway is a member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow and stands (falsely) accused by conservative US senators of taking bribes from Iraq in an oil-for-food scandal. His statement before the US Senate is a truly righteous, withering, and devastating critique of the US position in Iraq"

Well, we can take that "(falsely)" out, can't we? The Kos reaction to the crooked, bribe-taking, lying, sniveling, self-important Galloway getting suspended for a month from Parliament? cricket chirp

The irony is the left praised this thief who raked in a small fortune by fronting for a brutal regime through an oil scam. Yet teh left cries "Haliburton! Haliburton! Haliburton!" at Dick Cheney, even though the vice president severed ties with Haliburton long ago. Indeed, the profits the Cheneys made from their Haliburton stock goes to charity. Since taking office, Cheney and his wife have given $7.8 million to charity.

The much-praised lefty Galloway? He took bribes from a fund meant to buy food for Iraqi children. There's your hero, lefties.

Adolescent motherhood a likely prescription for failure

By Julia Steiny

According to RI Kids Count, researchers estimate that if all of Rhode Island's teen moms had waited until they were 20 to have babies, the state's prison population would be down 11.2 percent. The sons of teenage mothers, they say, are 2.2 times as likely to be incarcerated. Crime is hardly the only issue here. Premature pregnancies increase all kinds of social problems, from dropping out of school to poverty. In fact, 1 in 10 babies in Rhode Island is born to teen parents, and of those, 85 percent are poor. Premature pregnancy is a big part of families getting caught in a vicious cycle of poverty. Many, if not most, of the parents of the troubled kids that I'm profiling this summer were teenagers when they began bearing children.

Dr. Patricia Flanagan, a physician, spoke recently about teen moms at Bradley Hospital, at the request of the Infant Mental Health Association. She is the medical director of Hasbro Children's Hospital's outpatient services and also directs its teen and tot clinic. She says, "We all bring lots of things to being a mother - personal histories, personal beliefs. Adolescents bring developmental constraints as well, and these constraints have very real consequences."

She says teen moms tend to fall into two types. One type loses herself in the child. The baby is an extension of the mom's life and personality. The other treats her baby like a doll, a thing, a prized possession - dressing the child up, showing the baby off. As one teen mom said, "I got something that's all mine, that nobody can take away from me!" In both cases, the baby isn't understood as a person in his or her own right, an evolving being with a unique future and a changing set of needs. After all, teens are in the process of forming their own identities. Though perfectly natural, a young parent's egocentricity keeps the baby's self from becoming entirely real.

Before adolescence, Flanagan says, "Young kids think concretely. They can be taught abstraction, and they can feed back what you just told them, but they live in the here and now. They have great difficulty taking on other people's perspectives, and they have trouble thinking about cause and effect." It's only in the course of adolescence that the brain develops the uniquely human ability to think abstractly, to put feelings and sensations aside, and to reason through issues. The brain's "executive function" doesn't fully mature until our early 20s. Until then, as Flannagan says, "The whole world is what I know and what I feel."

Parenting is tough enough without the handicap of being a concrete thinker. Budgeting to have enough money for diapers at the end of the month is abstract. Walking into an unfamiliar room and assessing the room's potential dangers to a child - hot coffee, electrical outlets, lamp chords - is abstract. Heck, the idea that I could get a baby nine months after a little fun between the sheets is too abstract to be completely real. Flannagan notes that adolescents believe that if you don't think about it, it might go away. "The biggest mistake everyone makes around teen moms is to assume that motherhood is adulthood."

So while the adolescent brain is still developing, teens need grown-ups to provide that executive function for them. Everyone would love adolescents to be conveniently independent about making great decisions in their lives. But they aren't equipped for it. Not only that, taking risks is also developmentally normal at this age. So their decisions need constant monitoring and adult input. This is time-consuming, embattled, frustrating work. Furthermore, teens often assert their new sense of adulthood by fighting with their parents, or ignoring them, so parents per se aren't in the best position to provide enough help and supervision.

Flanagan strongly encourages adults to engage kids in conversations about intimacy. But for heaven's sake, don't start by lecturing them on how to prevent pregnancy. "Start by asking questions about what they want from one another in a relationship? And what do they want to do for themselves aside from a relationship? Would you like to finish high school? Would you like to save the money to buy a car? What do you want? Allow the kids to talk."

Teens have no experience with risky social situations, so they wind up doing what their friends or would-be friends want. Flanagan warns, "A lot of sexual activity is not exactly happening by choice. Social power, not knowing what to do, not being in control of the situation, drugs, alcohol - these all affect choice. Help them think through choices beforehand."

The bottom line: Kids who have big plans and goals - who want to play piano in a band, travel in Australia, go to college or win a medal - are not the kids getting pregnant. But goals are abstract. Kids need tons of help formulating them, planning how they'll get what they want, and avoiding the kinds of social trouble that can prevent dreams from coming true.

If we really want to prevent premature pregnancies, we need to pack all of our kids' lives with surrogate parents, teachers and after-school activity leaders who can help kids figure out who they are and what they want. Increasingly, I'm amazed by how little face time most kids get with adults willing to listen to them.



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 July, 2007

The stupid atheism of Christopher Hitchens

I am myself the most complete atheist you will meet. I don't even think the word "God" has any real meaning. But I have great respect for Christianity and its Jewish sources so I agree with the article below from James Lewis. Anybody who doesn't understand religion doesn't understand humanity and if you cannot FEEL religion in hymns such as "How great thou art", you are missing out on a profound human experience

Christopher Hitchens is one of the more sensible voices on the Left. He has not lost his moral sense on the matter of terrorists randomly murdering innocent men, women and children for the greater glory of their twisted fantasies of God. But his latest book reveals his feet of clay. Titled "god (with a small 'g') is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" it is little more than a sermon on Karl Marx's throwaway line that "religion is the opiate of the masses."

Well, so it is: It's called the consolations of religion in traditional language, and in a world of pain and loss, as well as love and joy, consolation is nothing to be sneered at. All the world religions are full of words and rites of consolation in the face of loss and death; it is one of the supreme uses of religion.

But Hitch trots obediently in the footsteps of Herr Marx to tar all faiths with the same brush, as if your local Unitarian minister is now using his fiery weekly sermons to whip up his foaming-at-the-mouth congregation, getting them to rush out and mob the kindergarten across the street for deviating from strict Unitarian doctrine (whatever that might be this week at that particularl congregation). It's just bizarre.

Religion is a great many things, including many decent and noble things, and deflating them all into a soggy rubber balloon for the sake of Leftist analysis is much like trying to reduce all of human sexuality to physical friction between genital organs. Hitch could easily write a book called "Sex is not great." Well, it is and it isn't. What kind of sex? Practiced by whom? To what end?

Hitch's book actually stands for a whole Leftist attitude of sneering superiority in the face of religion. The Left just doesn't get it -- maybe because they have never read any serious works on the subject, or haven't paid any attention lately to the vast body of music, writing, art and architecture inspired by religious feelings, giving it an honest effort to understand. Simple Peruvian peasants understand religion very deeply, even living all their lives in tiny villages on the isolated highlands of the Andes. But sophisticated liberals just can't wrap their minds around this weird stuff. They are suffering from a giant intellectual lacuna: A hole in the intellect, if you will.

Hitch is simply befuddled with humanity's most passionate quest, to live and die in dignity, to partake in some small way of the vast and awe-inspiring universe, to keep trying to understand, and indeed to die trying. Until the 20th century the greatest artists dedicated their finest efforts to religious works: A flood of masterpieces from Bach, Mozart, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Verdi, Mahler, Handel, even skeptics like Ralph Vaughn Williams, would be reduced to a small trickle if their religious works were left out.

And that isn't even touching on the great libraries of religion itself, beginning from the very earliest invention of writing. At its towering peaks, the works of civilization are almost always religious in spirit and belief: Think of the Taj Mahal, the Parthenon, the buried grave ships of Viking chieftains, or the great carved mountain statues of the Buddha that were systematically blown up by Taliban barbarians only a few years ago. Sumerian ziggurat pyramids rise from the very earliest strata of human civilization: They are nothing if not expressions of religious awe. Even earlier, some 30,000 years ago, the cave paintings at Clerveaux and elsewhere in Southern France and Iberia express much the same awed engagement with an overwhelming reality. Hunter-gatherers express it one way; farming and herding peoples say it another way; settled cities after Sumeria discovered yet more magnificent ways to say it. The human message was much the same.

Religious art begins abruptly about 50,000 years ago, for totally unknown reasons: Suddenly human graves are marked with red ochre, and oriented to a single lode star in the night sky. All over the prehistoric world physical symbols of power and devotion are laid in the ground, next to the honored dead; giant neolithic stone works are found all over the Old World, like Stonehenge but spread far and wide; and even the utilitarian stone hand axes that did not change over hundreds of thousands of years, are suddenly refined into ritual shapes too fragile for any practical use. Something very profound happened to human nature fifty or seventy millenia ago, and it has all the earmarks of what we inadequately call religion.

Just try breaking that great phenomenon down into the tiny pebbles of understanding our Left shows itself to be capable of. Trivial minds reduce even awesome achievements to the only level they can grasp. But that doesn't change the reality.

Now Hitch's hero Karl Marx went right ahead, of course, and concocted an opiate for the masses even purer, more intoxicating, and far more destructive in the 20th century than any religion in history. Marxism killed some 100 million people over a hundred years, trying to coerce its idea of human perfection on earth. Today North Koreans are still dying by the hundreds of thousands at the whim of a chubby little Stalinist monster in Pyongyang. At bottom, of course, Marxism is a secular religion, with its own infallible Prophet, its parasitical priesthood, and a doomed repetition compulsion to create a paradise on earth by coercive force. For any "Man of the Left" like Hitchens not to be utterly thrown and humbled by the last Marx-made century of catastrophes shows a deep deficiency in his moral sensitivities. And in his book "god is not Great," Hitch shows us why he is a basically silly man when it comes to this subject.

I speak not as a religious person myself, but as a skeptic who is nevertheless looking at the facts -- such as the constantly expressed sense of the numinous that pervades human works over the past five hundred centuries. That doesn't mean I like or approve all religious expressions; that would be impossible. It's just that it makes no sense to tar millions of ordinary people living good and decent lives with the same brush as the head-chopping sadists who grab the headlines today in the name of religion. Hitchens is asking us to make precisely that kind of wild, illogical leap.

There's an interesting contrast between Mr. Hitchens and the 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, notorious for the slogan that "God is dead; we have killed Him." Contrary to the Left, Nietzsche had the utmost respect and even reverence for religion. That's because he was an extremely well informed scholar, who understood his own cultural history in depth. He studied works from the ancient Greeks to modern Europe with all the finicky care of a trained classical philologist. He believed that Christian religion (and implicitly Judaism) were on their last legs in the 19th century. And he was not entirely wrong about that.

But Nietzsche always spoke about the breakdown of faith as a great cultural disaster, and a devastating challenge for the future. For him, "God is dead" was not a Hitchenesque self-preening slogan about the moral superiority of the secular Left. On the contrary. Nietzsche saw the loss of Western faith as the most profound historical shock, an invitation to cultural disaster. Well, the secular religions of the 20th century, like Nazism and Marxism, have certainly made a strong case for him.


Australia: Exposure could help kill judicial arrogance

PUBLICITY, rather than a new system of appointing judges, is the best way of eliminating judicial activists, according to a leading conservative lobby group. Once the extent of judicial activism on the nation's courts is revealed, governments will realise they need to exercise far more care in appointing judges, said Samuel Griffith Society secretary John Stone. "Labor governments have appointed most judicial activists, but Liberals have also appointed activists because they were asleep at the wheel," Mr Stone said. He said Saturday's disclosure in The Weekend Australian about the extent of support on the bench for judicial activism would do more to address the problem than a new appointment system.

He was responding to recent research showing that a significant number of the nation's top judges believe they are entitled to step in and make new laws when parliament fails to deal with difficult issues. The judges have revealed their support for judicial activism in more than 80 confidential interviews with visiting American academic Jason J. Pierce that were never expected to be published in Australia. Mr Pierce's research, which has been published in the US, has revealed a deep divide in the Australian judiciary between those who back activism and those who see it as illegitimate.

Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said he was not surprised by Mr Pierce's findings, particularly in relation to the High Court under former chief justice Anthony Mason. "A number of commentators have drawn attention to the view of some judges of the need for a more activist approach because of alleged parliamentary inertia," Mr Ruddock said. "What is new is the extent to which a number of judges - albeit anonymously - have affirmed that this approach has been taken."

However Mr Ruddock, like Mr Stone, did not favour changing the system of selecting judges in order to make it easier to identify activists. "I do not think any system attempted abroad such as contested election, parliamentary confirmation or government-of-the-day-appointed judicial commission would alter an individual judge electing to take a so-called activist approach in the future," Mr Ruddock said.

Mr Stone said the publication of Mr Pierce's interviews had revealed a degree of arrogance by activist judges that was beyond belief. One High Court judge told Mr Pierce: "Perhaps it's illegitimate to pull the rabbit out of the hat, but it is nice to see it emerging."

Mr Stone said this approach indicated that law schools were failing society by producing a significant number of lawyers who believed it was their responsibility to step in and displace parliament when difficult issues were left unaddressed. "The sheer presumption of these people is breath-taking," said Mr Stone, whose organisation defends federalism and the original intent of the Constitution. He said the only effective way of addressing the problem was by ensuring it received a extensive public attention. "That will alert governments to what these people are about."

Mr Stone said activism was still on the rise within the judiciary, even though it had been addressed on the High Court by recent appointments. "The real danger is at lower levels. The Victorian Supreme Court and Court of Appeal are a standing indictment" of the activist approach favoured by state Attorney-General Rob Hulls," said. "Hulls is a nightmare."


The dishonest Michael Moore exposed

Like all Leftists, Moore often finds the truth rather pesky. His response is to edit it away. Story below by Debbie Melnyk

Having just made a film about a conservative, we wanted to rinse our palate and take a look at someone who shared our leftist ideals. Then it hit us: what about Michael Moore? We like his films, we like what he stands for and we loved his Oscar speech. He has long had a soft spot for us Canadians: as fellow lefties, we were almost certain he'd participate in this film. For better or worse, Moore has become the unofficial spokesman of the Left. Raised in the city of Flint in Michigan, the son of car industry workers, he has crafted a remarkable career by challenging and exposing the ugly side - the hypocrisies - of American society and political life through a series of satirical documentaries. He started in 1989 with Roger & Me, which examined the massive layoffs in, and destruction of, his home town by what was then the world's largest corporation; followed it with the Oscar-winning Bowling for Columbine, a scathing indictment of the US's gun-crazy culture; and in 2004 in Fahrenheit 9/11 he attacked George W. Bush's administration for its war on terror.

In the beginning, we thought we'd make a straightforward biography looking at Moore's life. But somewhere along the way things changed. Our film gradually became an examination of his filmmaking methods and the serious political debates they provoked. As firm believers in Moore's political agenda, our decision to refocus the film wasn't an easy one. But as we kept having to remind ourselves, you can still be an old leftie without buying everything Moore says wholesale.

May 2004: Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11 was about to premiere in Cannes. It would be the perfect time to start talking to him. We told an editor who was working on the Black film that we'd be back in four days. We weren't. The film ended up taking more than two years to finish. We couldn't get an interview in Cannes. Moore's publicist said he was doing "limited" press. But we did make the media conference. Most of the talk surrounded Disney's refusal to distribute Fahrenheit 9/11 in the US, even though they'd given him $US6 million in financing through Miramax. Meanwhile, he couldn't buy the press he was getting in Cannes. Moore won the Palme d'Or and the documentary went on to gross more than $US220 million worldwide.

Back home, this was proving to be our most difficult film. Practically everyone we spoke to was nervous. All too frequently when we tried to interview people - friends, colleagues, former and present employees - they refused to talk on camera but had plenty to say on the phone. A former producer explained: "There's a great story about how he is impossible to work for and he's an impossible person. That's the story most of us would like to do. I just don't want to do it." Soon enough we realised we were taking on a taboo subject, a sacred cow, especially in the documentary world. You're not supposed to take on "one of our own", we were told.

Once Fahrenheit 9/11 was released, Moore arrived in Toronto to promote the film. I asked him in person for an interview, explaining that we were doing a documentary on him. He seemed flattered but then spoke the words that are the kiss of death for journalists: "These guys (his publicists) know how to reach me." With that, he disappeared.

Next stop: Flint, Michigan, the city Moore made famous in Roger & Me. This entertaining film shows his repeated attempts to interview Roger Smith, General Motors' then chairman, to get him to acknowledge the damage GM was causing in Flint by laying off thousands of workers even as the company posted record profits. The closest Moore gets to challenging Smith on film is a fractious, seconds-long exchange at a GM Christmas party. We arrived at the multiplex theatre the day Fahrenheit 9/11 opened. Everyone has an opinion about Moore. Some people know him and love him. Others hate him and "what he has done to Flint". I was surprised at the rift. I thought he would be a hero in his home town. Instead, it is a microcosm of how the US feels about him. He's polarising.

Greg Fiedler, organiser of the Flint Film Festival, told us: "(The city) took a big hit for that movie economically. A lot of companies that might have located here said 'we're not going there, they eat rabbit'." This is a reference to a scene in Roger & Me in which Moore visits an impoverished woman, Rhonda Britton, whose roadside sign reads: "Rabbits for sale, pets or meat". She is seen skinning a rabbit to sell for food, and the scene is meant to be emblematic of the economic problems many Flint residents faced.

We began following Moore on his Slacker Uprising tour in the northern autumn, hoping to get an interview. This 30-day, 60-city tour through 20 swing states in advance of the US presidential election of November 2004 was Moore's attempt to remove Bush from power. Our first stop was Syracuse, New York. Outside the arena where Moore was speaking were groups of protesters. One side was anti-Moore, with "Moore lies" and "Moore emboldens our enemy" signs. The other side was carrying placards reading "Troops out of Iraq" and "Bring the troops home alive". Inside the arena, Moore wound his way to the stage. He was surrounded by men he jokingly referred to as his "fitness instructors". The sellout crowd of 10,000 hung on his every word. He ranted to the students about Bush. "Shouldn't we be able to believe the President of the US? Is that too much to ask for; that what comes out of his mouth is the truth? Of course, some people would say Clinton lied, right? Exactly ... about a blow job." By the end of the night, he was urging every student to vote and dethrone Bush.

During the tour I wrote to Moore's lawyer, Andrew Hurwitz, asking for an interview. Nothing. At some point during our filming of Moore's appearances things became more difficult. In Detroit, a security team unplugged our sound equipment to keep us from recording his speech. Moore has repeatedly encouraged people to "tape anything you'd like", saying "I don't agree with the copyright law". With this in mind, Rick approached the guards for an explanation of why we were unplugged while other camera crews were not. Initially the bodyguard spoke into the microphone in his sleeve, attempting to get a serious answer, but inevitably dismissed us with a non-explanation: "I don't know the answer to that. The only thing I have the answer to is me saying no. I'm also being told if you continue to bother and harass us about it, you're gonna be asked to leave." Fortunately the guard didn't see the other, smaller camera I used to tape this exchange.

We started to discover things about his films that we never knew, the most startling being that Moore had got rather more access to Roger Smith than he let on in Roger & Me. We spoke to Jim Musselman, a former activist for Ralph Nader who was organising the community of Flint to fight back against General Motors and claims that Moore did question Smith for 15 minutes during a General Motors expo at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. "He sat there and answered questions for about 10 or 15 minutes," says Musselman, who told us that he had watched the footage himself, in the edit suite. "It was great footage because it was Smith answering questions one-on-one from Michael." Then I found an article from a 1990 issue of Premiere magazine in which several people, including Nader, asserted that Moore had also filmed an exchange with Smith at a 1987 General Motors shareholders meeting; that was reportedly left out of the film, too. The magazine published a transcript of the exchange, which was mostly about taxes. Indeed, Moore told Premiere he was at the meeting representing a tax-abatement group, not as a filmmaker. "Nowhere in the transcript does it say anything about me asking him to come to Flint," he said. "That's the narrative thread of the movie." This last point is open to debate: one original poster for the film depicts Moore pointing a microphone at an empty chair.

Though we didn't want our documentary to concentrate solely on debunking Moore's work, we did find other incidents that deserved a second look. In Bowling for Columbine, for example, Moore comes out of a bank carrying a gun he has been given after opening a bank account. This suggested you could open an account and the bank would give you one of the guns it had in its vault. Just like that. But in our film, Jan Jacobson, the bank employee who had helped Moore open the account, maintains she told his crew that the bank would have to do a background check and he'd have to pick up the gun from a licensed firearms dealer another day. Jacobson told us that Moore's crew insisted the gun be in the bank for him to take away the same day. Moore was told the guns were in a vault 500km away, but in the film he omits to mention this point. Yet the result is a memorable scene that shows Moore walking out of the bank holding up a gun after opening an account.

In Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore uses the following snippet from a speech to show Bush as the moneyed, arrogant man I'd assumed him to be: "This is an impressive crowd, the haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite, I call you my base." I thought Moore had nailed Bush when I saw that. But Moore fails to mention that Bush is speaking at the Al Smith Memorial Foundation dinner, a Catholic fundraiser at which politicians are expected to make fun of themselves. The quote is taken out of context: at the same dinner, Al Gore jokes about having invented the internet. When seen in its original light, the President comes off as a guy who is capable of self-mockery: surely that's surprising enough in itself. As for Bowling for Columbine's claim that people in Toronto leave their doors open at night, well, I don't and I don't know anyone who does.

We first screened our documentary at the South By Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas. The crowd was made up of the same people who were probably cheering Fahrenheit 9/11 a few years ago. Having included some criticism of Moore in our film, we weren't sure what the response would be. It was provocative. On one hand, we had Moore supporters telling us we shouldn't be attacking a man who does so much good. On the other we had leftist activists applauding us for questioning him. Moore has been given every opportunity to respond to the questions raised by our film. Thus far he has refused to comment.

At a recent event in New York, Moore was asked about our film, which we'd decided to call Manufacturing Dissent. "The Noam Chomsky film?" he replied, coyly referring to the Chomsky documentary Manufacturing Consent. The journalist who had asked the question persisted: "No. Manufacturing Dissent, the film about you and your filmmaking methods." But Moore claimed he knew nothing about 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.


16 July, 2007

The new anti-Semitism in Britain: How the Left reversed history to bring Judaism under attack

On the side of St George's Town Hall in the East End of London, there's a mural commemorating the Battle of Cable Street in 1936, when tens of thousands of Jews and local trades unionists fought side by side to halt a march by Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists. They poured out of the docks, factories and sweat shops to repel the Blackshirts, who were being given an official police escort. Their banners read: They Shall Not Pass.

By the end of the day, the police were forced to withdraw and Mosley's thugs had been routed. It was a crushing defeat, from which the Far Right never really recovered and was pivotal in preventing the cancer of Fascism and anti-Semitism then sweeping Continental Europe from establishing a meaningful foothold in this country.

In my previous incarnation as a young labour and industrial correspondent, I used to drink in the Britannia pub, in Cable Street, with an old friend, Brian Nicholson, former chairman of the transport workers' union, who lived a couple of doors down. From the public bar, a few yards across the square from the old Town Hall, I watched with fascination as the mural was being painted. It took 17 years from conception to completion in 1993 and more than once suffered the indignity of being vandalised by moronic Mosley manques in the National Front and the BNP.

A couple of years ago when the BBC approached me to make what they called an 'authored documentary' on any subject about which I felt passionate, I proposed an investigation into modern anti-Semitism to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Cable Street last October. My thesis was that while the Far Right hasn't gone away, the motive force behind the recent increase in anti-Jewish activity comes from the Fascist Left and the Islamonazis. It was an idea which vanished into the bowels of the commissioning process, never to return. Eventually the Beeb told me that they weren't making any more 'authored documentaries'. I couldn't help wondering what might have happened if I'd put forward a programme on 'Islamophobia'. It would probably have become a six-part, primetime series and I'd have been up for a BAFTA by now.

But I persevered and Channel 4 picked up the project. You can see the results on Monday night. When some people heard I was making the programme, their first reaction was: 'I didn't know you were Jewish.' I'm not, but what's that got to do with the price of gefilte fish? They simply couldn't comprehend why a non-Jew would be in the slightest bit interested in investigating anti-Semitism. If I had been making a film about Islamophobia, no one would have asked me if I was Muslim.

The Labour MP John Mann told me that he experienced exactly the same reaction when he instigated a parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism. 'As soon as I set it up, the first MP who commented to me said: "Oh, I didn't know you were Jewish, John."' He isn't, either. But the implication was plainly that the very idea of anti-Semitism is the invention of some vast Jewish conspiracy.

Mann's inquiry reported: 'It is clear that violence, desecration and intimidation directed towards Jews is on the rise. Jews have become more anxious and more vulnerable to attack than at any time for a generation or longer.' That certainly bears out my own findings. After three months filming across Britain, I reached the conclusion: It's open season on the Jews. Ever since 9/11 I've detected an increase in anxiety among Jewish friends and neighbours in my part of North London. As I've always argued: just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they're not out to get you. When I went to address a ladies' charity lunch at a synagogue in Finchley, I was astonished at the level of security. You don't expect to see bouncers in black bomber jackets on the door at a place of worship.

I soon discovered this wasn't unusual. Nor is it confined to London. The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, Mike Todd, took me out on patrol with his officers and members of the Community Security Trust, which provides protection for the Jewish community. These patrols are mounted every Friday night following a series of unprovoked attacks on Jews on their way to synagogue. We passed a care home surrounded by barbed wire. At the King David School, there are high fences, floodlights, CCTV cameras and fulltime guards. It was the kind of security you associate with a prison. They're even installing bombproof windows in many prominent Jewish institutions and running evacuation drills.

This sounded to me like Cold War panic. Surely it's all a bit over the top? Far from it, said Todd. 'We know that people carry out hostile reconnaissance. You do know that there will be attacks potentially and so what we're trying to do is make it a hostile environment to those people who want to engage in anti-Semitic attacks.'

In the past two years, Manchester police reported a 20 per cent rise in anti-Semitic incidents. I visited a Jewish cemetery in the north of the city which has been repeatedly desecrated - headstones and graves smashed, swastikas daubed on memorials. It was heartbreaking. That type of cowardly vandalism is almost certainly the handiwork of Far Right skinheads. But the more serious threat comes from Islamist extremists. Police and the security services say they have uncovered a series of plots by groups linked to Al Qaeda to attack Jewish targets in Britain.

As Channel 4's own Undercover Mosque documentary exposed earlier this year, anti-Jewish sermons are routinely preached in Britain. Anti-Semitic hatred is beamed in on satellite TV channels and over the internet. On London's Edgware Road, just around the corner from the Blairs' new Connaught Square retirement home, I was able to buy a copy of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, translated into Arabic. It was on open sale alongside the evening paper and the Kit-Kats.

You don't even have to be Jewish to find yourself on the end of anti-Semitic hatred. I met a Jack the Ripper tour guide in East London who was beaten up by a group of Muslim youths, who took one look at his period costume - long black coat and black hat - and assumed he was an Orthodox Jew and therefore deserving of a kicking. They didn't want 'dirty Jews' in 'their' neighbourhood.

During the 2005 General Election, anti-war activists targeted Labour MPs who supported the invasion of Iraq. Fair enough, that's a legitimate enough ambition in a democracy. But in the case of Lorna Fitzsimons, the member for Rochdale, the campaign to unseat her took a sinister turn. An outfit calling itself The Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) - basically two brothers above a kebab shop - published leaflets 'accusing' her of being Jewish, even though she's not. 'They said I was part of the world neo-Con Zionist conspiracy. I think it's deeply insidious and worrying that they felt there was so much anti-Semitism in the local community that it would galvanise the vote.' In the event, she lost her seat by a few hundred votes and is certain the MPAC smear campaign swung it.

Opposition to the war and loathing of Israel has led the selfstyled 'anti-racist' Left to make common cause with Islamonazis. And 'anti-Zionism' soon tips over into straight- forward anti-Semitism. When The Observer columnist Nick Cohen - who has always considered himself of the Left and, despite the surname, isn't Jewish either - wrote a piece defending the toppling of Saddam he was deluged with hate mail. 'It was amazing anti-Semitism, you know - you're only saying this because you're a Jew.' Cohen has also noticed the casual anti-Jewish sentiment around Left-wing dinner tables and in the salons of Islington. He is appalled by the way in which his old comrades-in-arms have embraced terrorist groups like Hezbollah, one of the most anti-Semitic organisations on Earth.

Check out the way the National Union of Journalists singles out Israel for boycott, even though it has the only free press in the Middle East. Or the academic boycott of Israel by the university lecturers, which as the lawyer Anthony Julius and the law professor Alan Dershowitz argue, goes way beyond legitimate protest. The sheer ferocity and violence of the arguments is nothing more than naked anti-Semitism.

Under the guise of 'anti-Zionism', anti- Semitism is rife on British university campuses. But still the Government refuses to ban groups such as Hizb ut-Tahir, motto: 'Jews will be killed wherever they can be found.' Then there is self-proclaimed 'anti-racist' Ken Livingstone, who said to a Jewish reporter, Oliver Finegold, who approached him outside County Hall: 'What did you do before? Were you a German war criminal?' When Finegold explained that he was Jewish and was deeply offended by the remark, Livingstone compared him to a 'concentration camp guard'. Attempting to justify himself, Livingstone put on his best Kenneth Williams 'Stop Messing About' voice and protested that he wasn't being anti-Jewish since he was rude about everyone. That was his Get Out Of Jail Free gambit. Funny how that excuse didn't work for Bernard Manning [A recently deceased British comedian who used "ethnic" humour].

But under the Macpherson code to which Livingstone subscribes, a racist incident is one which anyone perceives as racist - intended victim or onlooker. It's curious how in multi-cultural, diverse, inclusive, anti-racist Britain, the rules don't seem to extend to the Jews. Livingstone would never have dreamed of being that offensive to a Muslim, or Jamaican, journalist. Any Tory who made similar remarks would have been hounded from office - and Livingstone would have been leading the lynch mob.

Blaming Israel is the last refuge of the anti-Semite. Livingstone insists he's not anti-Jewish, he just opposes the policies of the Israeli government. So perhaps he can explain what the hell the conflict in the Middle East has to do with calling a Jewish reporter a German war criminal and a concentration camp guard? Where exactly does the Palestinian cause fit into that equation?

'If you have people like the Mayor of London crossing the line, then making a half-apology, and stumbling through that, then it gives a message out to the rest of the community. That is why anti-Semitism is on the rise again - because it's become acceptable,' says John Mann, whose parliamentary inquiry team was shocked at the scale and nature of what it unearthed. 'Every single member of our committee was stunned at some of the things they found out. It wasn't a Britain that they recognised. It's almost as if it's a throwback. We thought these were things we'd seen in the past, and we hoped had gone.'

As A Labour MP he's appalled at the way many on the Left have become almost casually and routinely anti-Semitic. 'We wouldn't have seen this ten or 15 years ago. This idea that in some way there's a conspiracy of Jews running the world goes back to the Elders of the Protocols of Zion (a long since discredited book, though still popular in the Muslim world) in the last century. We've seen this before, and now it's resurgent.'

Seventy years after Cable Street, we've gone full circle. The Left who once stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Jews against the Blackshirts are now in the vanguard of the new anti-Semitism. The Britannia has long since closed and the Jewish community has moved on, but the mural remains. The synagogues have been replaced by mosques. Where the East End was once a hotbed of Far Right extremism, these days it's the stomping ground of George Galloway's Respect Party, a grubby alliance of Islamic extremists and the old Socialist Workers Party - at the heart of the new 'We Are All Hezbollah Now' activism.

While we were shooting the final sequence of next Monday's film in front of the mural, a scruffy-looking bloke wandered out of what used to be the Britannia and now seems to have been turned into some kind of glorified squat. He recognised me, identified himself as a member of Respect, objected to what I was saying to camera and tried to disrupt us. Outnumbered, he shuffled away again, shouting. He did not pass. The Second Battle of Cable Street, it wasn't.


Baiting the devout

Intellectuals who have lost their belief in progress are turning venomously on those who retain a vision of the good society: the religious

When I first came across Christopher Hitchens' diatribe against Mother Teresa I enjoyed its knockabout exposure of this unctuous old fraud and her preposterous celebrity networking (1). But I increasingly found myself wondering why it was that such an able polemicist of the old left had been reduced to taking on such a trivial and demeaning target. The question `Why bother?' returned with greater insistency when I discovered the recent flurry of popular anti-religious books by a range of atheists, agnostics and secular humanists (Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, who are now referred to collectively as `The New Atheists'), to which Hitchens has now added his own contribution: God Is Not Great: The Case Against Religion (2).

Readers of these books will learn little about religion; they are much more revealing about their authors' own insecurities. Lacking much knowledge of religious faith, its contemporary critics focus on its superficial aspects and extreme manifestations (notably, Christian and Islamic fundamentalism). Once-influential radicals, now condemned to the margins of society, tend to exaggerate the importance of religious authorities, who in reality have little more legitimacy than the politicians who patronise them, in the (often mistaken) belief that they provide links to the masses. Having lost their own belief in progress and liberation, secular intellectuals are irked by their encounters with people who, on whatever basis, retain a vision of the good society and a commitment to realising it. They clearly feel rebuked by the undaunted practice of those who have not given up. Indeed, in their own state of confusion and demoralisation, old radicals give too much credit to religion, in this respect, and furthermore, they often misinterpret as religious fervour popular affiliations that are largely pragmatic and instrumental.

Moving from his childhood alienation from conventional Christianity to his adult disillusionment with Marxism, Hitchens leaves little doubt that this book is not so much about religion as about himself. His current state of bewilderment is profound. On one page he confesses that his `own secular faith has been shaken and discarded', only to tell us a couple of pages later that he has `not quite abandoned' Marxism. He admits that `those of us who had sought a rational alternative to religion had reached a terminus that was comparably dogmatic'. Hitchens here makes a conventional nod towards the ascendancy of Stalinism (though this was a terminus that many of us, including Hitchens himself, never accepted). However, this statement could also serve as a characterisation of his personal apostasy - culminating in his notoriously dogmatic endorsement of Western military intervention in Iraq.

In trying to explain the failure of the quest for an alternative to religion, Hitchens retreats into the sort of sociobiological notions favoured by some of his fellow anti-religious propagandists: `What else was to be expected of something that was produced by the close cousins of chimpanzees?' In his foray on to the terrain - and the temporal scale - of the neo-Darwinians, Hitchens moves further from his leftist traditions. Marxism was rooted in the present, and in its concern for the proximate transformation of society, it sought social and historical explanations and political solutions. By contrast, theorists of evolution work in the disciplines of biology, geology and cosmology: the scope of humanity is diminished by adopting a cosmic timescale and emphasising the contingent character of the emergence of human life and the prospect of its ultimate disappearance. `Probably the most daunting task that we face, as partly rational animals with adrenal glands that are too big and prefrontal lobes that are too small, is the contemplation of our own relative weight in the scheme of things', writes Hitchens.

Hitchens is so taken with this formulation that it appears twice in his book, leading to the sombre reflection that `the awareness that our death is coming and will be succeeded by the death of the species and the heat death of the universe is scant comfort'.

Here we find what the youthful Hitchens would have called `a contradiction'. On the one hand, he endorses the misanthropic notions of environmentalism: the cosmic insignificance of humanity, the constraints of biology and the prospect of planetary climatic doom. On the other hand, he saves some of his harshest condemnations of religions for the way they `look forward to the destruction of the world'. He has nothing but `contempt and suspicion for those who beguile themselves and terrify others with horrific visions of apocalypse'. Yet he appears oblivious to the fact that by far the most influential `cult of death' in contemporary society is not to be found in mainstream denominations or even in millenarian sects, but in the all-pervasive environmentalist movement with its eager anticipation of diverse global ecological catastrophes. Indeed, `heat death of the universe' is pure `hell-fire' bombast.

In his introduction, Hitchens complains - rightly - that Marx's famous statement that religion is `the opium of the people' has generally been misquoted and taken out of context. Yet Hitchens, too, has missed a key point about these historic paragraphs written by Marx in 1844 when he was still in his mid-twenties. Marx believed that once the true nature of religion as spiritual compensation for social alienation had been revealed, it had been exposed as a secondary phenomenon dependent on socioeconomic circumstances and therefore merited no further independent criticism: `The criticism of heaven turns into the criticism of earth, the criticism of religion into the criticism of law and the criticism of theology into the criticism of politics.' (3) Hence, in his subsequent theoretical and political writings over nearly 40 years, he rarely returned to the subject.

Given the recent anti-religious convergence of old Marxists and neo-Darwinians, it is interesting to note that Darwin shared Marx's disdain for baiting the devout. In the early 1880s, Marx's shady son-in-law, the radical atheist Edward Aveling, sought Darwin's endorsement for a book on evolutionary theory he was editing (4). In his fascinating account of this episode, the late Stephen J Gould records the terms in which Darwin, who `understood Aveling's opportunism and cared little for his anti-religious militancy', explained his refusal:

`It appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against Christianity and theism produce hardly any effect on the public; and freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men's minds which follows from the advance of science. It has, therefore, been always my object to avoid writing on religion, and I have confined myself to science.'

What a pity that the followers of Marx and Darwin have not followed their wise example.



In the Red Mosque, this point was reached days before the decision to send in the troops. To Ghazi and his followers, the overwhelming odds against them made no difference in their calculations. It simply did not matter to them. They still refused to compromise or surrender. They accepted in advance the death that awaited them, and with a fatalism that we in the West find virtually incomprehensible.

Such suicidal behavior is not militancy; it is fanaticism. The militant may be prepared to risk his life in battle, but it is always a calculated risk. The fanatic is not given to such calculation. If his cause is lost, he will still refuse to compromise or surrender. Not only will he prefer death for himself, but he will choose it for his entire group, including his own family. The Hebrew Zealots during their failed attempt to revolt from Rome killed their wives and children before turning their swords on themselves. Hitler's minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, poisoned his children to spare them from having to live in a world without Hitler.

Joseph Goebbels was proud of being a fanatic. To him, fanaticism was a term of praise, and not abuse. The Hebrew Zealots looked with contempt on those who were unwilling either to die or to slaughter their own families. In the culture of the modern West, however, to call someone a fanatic is to insult, and not commend, him. Yet, as the incident at the Red Mosque makes clear, our own attitude toward fanaticism is simply an example of ethnocentricism. By refusing to use the word fanatic to describe Ghazi and his followers, we are approaching them through the standards and practices that are observed in our culture, but not in theirs.

In Islam, fanatical zeal has been looked upon as both the ethical and theological virtue par excellence. Furthermore, it has been the agent by which the religion of Muhammad came to dominate the hearts and minds of so much of the world. Fanatical zeal is not a pathology of Islam; it is the glue that has held it together. It was the agent that created the original community of the faithful, all of whom had first to reject the tribal identities they were born and raised with, in order to accept their radically new identity as followers of the Prophet-a profound psychological transformation that could only be brought up by fanatical commitment to their new way of life.

The same commitment also explains the amazing success with which Islam was spread in the first hundred years of its existence. Indeed, without grasping the vital role that fanaticism has historically played in Islam, neither its successful birth nor its far more spectacular spread would make sense. The religion of the Prophet was not a religion for the lukewarm, the skeptical, the wishy-washy, the moderate, or the reasonable. If it had been, we would never have heard of it, because it would have been almost immediately absorbed back into the tribal milieu that had long dominated every aspect of life in the Arab peninsula.

The same spirit of fanaticism is at the heart of the battle over the Red Mosque. Yet, despite its absolute centrality to the drama, we in the West are largely reluctant even to speak of it as a factor. Reuters and the AP can bring themselves to refer to Ghazi and his "supporters" as "militants," but they go to considerable pains to avoid calling them by the name that alone truly fits them. For many, there is a simple explanation of this omission. Reuters and AP are trying to be politically correct. But how convincing is this explanation? Why is it that a word like "fanatic" is treated as being politically incorrect in the first place? If fanatics are proud of their fanaticism, if it is their boast and their glory, then why not call them by the proper term?

In my new book, The Suicide of Reason, I offer an explanation of why so many are reluctant to use the word fanatic to denote those, like Ghazi and his "supporters," are behaving precisely in the same way that all fanatics have behaved through history. "The problem with much of the Western response to Islamic fanaticism," I write, "is that our refusal to use the word fanaticism appears to be based on our reluctance to recognize the fact of fanaticism. We avoid the word in order to avoid having to think about the thing, thereby leaving the impression that our resistance to acknowledging fanaticism arises less from our sensitivity to Muslim feelings than from our wish to evade the momentous challenged posed by fanaticism itself."

When we use words like supporter in place of follower, and militant in place of fanatic, we are engaging in verbal apotropaism-a rare, but helpful word that is defined as "the performance of magic ritual or incantatory formulas to avert evil." When people who really believe in the Devil call him by an affectionate term like Old Nick, they are using an apotropaic device. Instead of running the risk of calling the Devil by his right name, and having him suddenly appear with horns and tail, they refer to him by a less threatening title, one that sounds positively endearing. In short, human beings have always used apotropaic rituals and formulas to ward off that which we fear the most; and we in the West are still doing it today.

In The Suicide of Reason I write that in the contemporary West fanatics like Abdul Rashid like Ghazi and his followers have become "incomprehensibly alien to us. They do not conform to our expectation of normal human behavior; indeed, they shatter all such expectations. They fill us with panic and anxiety....To relieve this panic and anxiety we must either ignore them or else force them to fit into a category of human action with which we do feel comfortable-all in an effort to make their uncanniness less threatening to our comfortable vision of the world." Both Reuters and the AP exhibit the second reaction to the fanatic: by using words like supporter and militant both are attempting to make the incomprehensibly alien something that we think we are familiar with. After all, aren't we supporters of one candidate or other. Aren't there many things that we act militantly about? We have causes, too, for which we are prepared to fight: rights for blacks, or women, or gays. So where is the big difference between us? What is there so special about the behavior of Ghazi and his supporters that we should find it inexplicable, much less threatening?

Because we insist on denying what is most obvious and most essential about fanatics, namely, their fanaticism, we blind ourselves to the radical threat they pose to any established and settled order. For example, Pakistan under General Musharraf falls far short of our Western notions of a free and open society, but few in the West would be happy to see his regime replaced with a new Taliban-and one armed with nuclear weapons. Few in the West would be willing to see Pakistan plunged into civil war and/or anarchy. Yet the same cannot be said of the Pakistanis themselves. Abdul Ghazi, his followers, and those who sympathize with his cause throughout Pakistan would no doubt like to impose a Taliban-like government for their nation, as their record makes clear.

But if they cannot get that, they are willing to settle for bringing down existing regime and spreading chaos over Pakistan. They are anarchophiles who are aware that upheaval and disorder provide them with the opportunity of gaining power. They are also aware that upheaval and disorder is the enemy of any existing regime. They know that by creating enough turmoil, by forcing the government to respond brutally, by amassing the bodies of martyrdom inside the Red Mosque, they will succeed, though to us in the West their "success" will strike us demented, insane, pointless, and utterly irrational. Like the "militants" who bomb mosques and crowds in Iraq, they are not seeking an objective that we in the West can understand. For them, the disruption of society is not a means to an end; it is an end in itself. Hence the futility of the attempt to reach a settlement with fanatics-they can hardly be expected to compromise for the sake of the very status quo that they are prepared to die to tear asunder.

In The Suicide of Reason, I argue that the West must resist the temptation to resort to apotropaic formulas to keep from recognizing the logic and power of Islamic fanaticism. In addition, I argue that we must discard the illusion that the fanaticism of radical Islam is a contemporary pathology that may just go away, or run out of steam-a threat that is bound to fizzle out and pass away, like the terrorist threat of the Red Brigade in the Europe of a generation ago.

Islamic fanaticism has a historical depth in Muslim culture; it was present at the creation of these cultures, and that makes it radically distinct from the threats posed in the last century by Italian fascism, Nazism, or Soviet Communism, all of which, by their own claims, represented a new departure, a revolutionary transformation of both society and culture. The European threats demanded new prophets with a new revelation-men like Mussolini, Hitler, and Lenin; but Islamic fanaticism appeals to the same prophet and the same revelation that has held together the community of the faithful for nearly fourteen centuries. It is not an innovation, but a restoration. It is consciously seen by those who espouse it as a return to tradition, and not a bold leap into the future. Thus the threat of radical Islam is not a flimsy structure, destined to be blown away in the near future; it taps into the bedrock of Muslim culture, and has the capacity for strengthening itself immensely by spreading throughout the general public that distinguishes it from Italian fascism, Nazism, or Communism.

Finally, no mistake can be more grave than to assess the threat of Islam fanaticism than in conventional military terms. The holdouts at the Red Mosque will be defeated and killed-of that there was never any question. But how will the government's military victory be seen by the people of Pakistan? If storming the Red Mosque ends by further reducing support of Musharraf's already plagued and troubled regime, what a short-lived and Pyrrhic victory it will prove to be, and one whose aftermath no one is in a position to foresee. For that is the cardinal dilemma in trying to make a rational assessment of the dangers posed to the world by Islamic fanatics. Who can predict what a handful of sparks will do to dry timber and underbrush? Sometimes the sparks burn themselves out without harm. At other times, they are stirred into a blaze by the wind, with catastrophic results to the forest. So too with the sparks kindled in the Red Mosque-and they are by no means the only dangerous sparks flying in the Middle East today, set off by the acts of zealots and fanatics.

The damage a spark is capable of doing cannot be gauged by looking at the size of the spark, but only at the chain of reaction that the spark initiates. By the same analogy, the ultimate outcome of the train of events set off this last week at the Red Mosque is still unknown, though we in the West are perfectly aware that if the spark turns into a conflagration there will be virtually nothing we can do to stop. Again, we can only stand by, and watch. Yet, if we are prepared to take a serious and unflinching look at the challenge posed to us by Islamic fanaticism, then at least we will be able to watch with vigilance and intelligence, and not fall prey to the illusion that we have solutions to a threat that we in the West have as yet barely began to understand.



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 July, 2007

War Doco not Hispanic enough

Moviemaker adds scenes under pressure

I've been following this back and forth over Ken Burn's new WWII documentary between Ken and some (not all) Hispanic groups who were upset that their contributions weren't included. After hearing their complaints, Ken gave in and offered to add shorts that would be spread throughout the series, but they wanted more. He took the offer back and they put together protest groups and put up websites labeling him a racist. Now, it looks like he is giving in again. See Ken Burns and the Old Soldiers Who Wouldn't Fade Away on washingtonpost.com. Does anyone have the heart to tell him it still won't be enough?

Yes, it is unfortunate that he didn't include their contribution, but his artistic vision isn't required to keep up with a census report. And yes he is famous, but that doesn't mean he has to change his vision to suit others. He's a storyteller and he isn't obligated to check with the local ethnic chamber of commerce before he tells his story. It would have probably been a better story with that added nuance (I would have liked to see it), but it is his story and the writer and lover of the 1st Amendment in me is angry that it has become some group's PC victim of the moment. This is not a government film, isn't government sponsored or held up as the beginning and end of absolutely everything that happened. That's like suggesting that Burn's Civil War documentary is the "official record" of the Civil War and included every perspective.

Also, let's not suggest that because its PBS its kind of like the government in that it serves the public. If you actually watched PBS, you would know the station is very focused on individual artistic impressions, popular and unpopular, and that is why people like it. If groups can continue to bully their vision onto someone else's canvas, what can we say is really a genuine work of art? If it's forced on the artist, what's the point? If Ken only wanted to cover the experience of red-headed, fat women in the state of Kansas during the Great Depression, that is his right. If PBS thinks it will sell, they'll pay for it and if people want to see it, they'll watch.

As a black woman, I know it hurts to not have your contribution to an important event included, but it isn't an excuse to hijack someone else's artistic vision. You can't make a creator change her painting, book, play or documentary because you know many people will see or read it and you want them to see or read about you. I'm not saying they have no right to voice their complaints, especially considering it will likely be watched by millions. I'm just saying maybe they should stop demanding other people tell their story and transfer all that energy into telling it themselves. With the Internet and the Independent film industry, it is possible to tell myriads of stories that couldn't be told before without studio backing and millions of dollars. www.politopics.com.


"Honor killings" in Britain no longer to be played down because of political correctness

A RACIAL equality group has branded as 'obvious' calls to by-pass political correctness in investigating so-called 'honour killings'. The comments come in response to those made by MP for Bromley and Chislehurst Bob Neill last Wednesday.

So-called honour killings are when a member of a racial group kills a family member to preserve their 'honour' if they fall in love with someone from a different racial group. Mr Neill quizzed the outgoing Attorney General Lord Goldsmith over whether he thought that honour killings should be a top priority for police. The senior lawyer said that he was concerned that police were not "robust" enough in tackling the crime.

It is believed that police are re-examining around 2,000 deaths and murders between 1996 and 2006 on the basis that they may have been honour killings. Speaking afterwards Mr Neill said: "All homicide, whatever the motive, should have the same priority. The very idea that there is anything honourable about these crimes is based on a flawed ideology that has no place in our society."

Director of Bromley's Racial Equality Council, Ali Jafarey, said: "That's obvious. It's just common sense. Who would agree with such behaviour? The Tories are becoming a bit obsessed with political correctness."

Borough Commander of Bromley police, Charles Griggs, said: "The tragic killing of Banaz Mahmod has demonstrated the need for a robust approach in the way we investigate violence within the home. However, murder is murder wherever it occurs and I can promise you that our approach, whilst respecting people's beliefs and cultures, will be firm, thorough and fair."

Mr Neill added: "Lives may have been lost as a result of political correctness and I really hope that the police take a lead from Lord Goldsmith and that the new national strategy begins to redress the current problems. "I also welcome Lord Goldsmith's admission that such "honour killings" are particularly bad as young women must be able to rely on family support. That is a fundamental belief in any just society."


Australian Leftist leader condemns politically correct indoctrination

LABOR leader Kevin Rudd has warned against excessive political correctness following reports young children are being taught to sing sorry to the Stolen Generation of Aborigines in NSW schools. Sorry Song by Kerry Fletcher was written in 1998 for Sorry Day and has been included in the ABC Song Book, distributed to NSW primary schools.

The words of the controversial song include: "If we can say sorry to the people from this land, sing, sing loud, break through the silence, sing across this land. "They Cry, they cry, their children were stolen, they still wonder why.''

Hamish East, the father of an eight-year-old boy who sang the song at a school in Kiama on the NSW south coast, has protested over what he called a political stunt which had confused his son, The Daily Telegraph reported today. Mr East, a Kiama councillor, said controversial political issues should not "be forced down the throats of our children''.

Mr Rudd said today people must be wary about the issue. "I think we're starting to look at too much political correctness on those sorts of questions,'' Mr Rudd said. "We've got to watch out for political correctness going mad.'' Mr Rudd said children should be educated about the facts of Australia's history, including respecting indigenous culture, but left to make up their own minds about what's right and wrong. "Our young kids just need to be introduced to facts in our history and facts in our society and then later on as they move through high school they can start making up their own minds about what's right and what's wrong.''



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 July, 2007

Why liberals should encourage immigrants to integrate

Many multicultural theorists, although committed to openness toward immigrants, are not committed to the openness of immigrants to their new home. For them, newcomers, living in an environment hostile to their way of life, need to preserve the cultural practices they bring with them, even if some of those practices - for example, arranged marriages, gender segregation, religious indoctrination - conflict with liberal principles. Group survival counts more than individual rights in the moral accounting of many multiculturalists.

One way to maintain a commitment to openness when addressing the vexing question of national borders is to recognize that cosmopolitanism is a two-way street. Immanuel Kant teaches us that the circumstances in which we find ourselves must always be judged against the circumstances in which, but for chance, we might have found ourselves.

From this perspective, it is unfair that someone who happens to be born in the US is likely to live longer and better than someone born in Kenya. This does not mean that the US must open its borders to everyone from Kenya. But it does mean that a New Yorker should recognize that any advantages he may have over a Nairobian are due to an accident of birth rather than merit. From the perspective of Kantian cosmopolitanism, the least an American can do is to welcome a certain amount of immigration from Africa.

But embracing cosmopolitanism also means that once a society admits new members, those members are obliged to open themselves to their new society. Multiculturalists are reluctant to endorse this part of the cosmopolitan bargain, but liberals must.

One can understand why, living in a foreign country they may perceive as hostile, immigrants opt to close themselves off. Some host countries - France, for example - may be too hasty in demanding that immigrants accept new ways of life. But attempting to live a closed life in an open society is bound to be self-defeating and not something a liberal society should encourage.

An instructive example of the cosmopolitanism bargain came in 2006, when Great Britain's former foreign minister, Jack Straw, raised concerns about the hijab, the full-head covering worn by some Muslim women. Straw defended women's right to wear less intrusive headscarves; yet he also argued that something is seriously wrong when, in conversation with another person, one cannot engage in face-to-face interaction.

Straw was saying that to wear the hijab is a decision to close yourself off from everyone around you. He was not making a xenophobic argument that Muslims do not belong in Great Britain, or a multiculturalist argument that Muslims should be allowed to wear whatever traditional garb they believe best expresses their cultural and religious sensibilities. Nor was he asking for the full assimilation of immigrants into British customs. Instead, through a carefully chosen example, Straw was illustrating what it means to be open to others while expecting openness in return.

Some argued that, in suggesting to Muslim women what they should wear, Straw was interfering with religious freedom. In fact, liberal values sometimes contradict each other. Islam, for example, has historically permitted certain forms of polygamy, but no liberal society is obliged to extend religious freedom in ways that undermine its commitment to gender equality.

Fortunately, Straw's example does not pose such a sharp dilemma. As he pointed out, wearing the hijab is not commanded by the Koran and represents a cultural choice, not a religious duty. So long as other ways are available for Muslim women to cover their heads, agreeing not to wear the hijab is a way of signifying one's membership in a liberal society at minimal cost to one's religious commitments.

For liberals, the question is never whether borders should be completely open or closed; a society open to all would have no rights worth protecting, while a society closed to all would have no rights worth emulating. If one is looking for an abstract principle to follow on questions of immigration, liberalism cannot provide it.

But a liberal society will allow people in and make exceptions for conditions under which they must be kept out, rather than keeping people out and making exceptions for when they should be allowed in. A liberal society will also view the world as teeming with potential that, however threatening to ways of life that are taken for granted, forces people to adapt to new challenges rather than trying to protect themselves against the foreign and unknown.

Finally, a liberal society will not focus on what we can offer immigrants, but on what they can offer us. The goal of openness implied by immigration is worth preserving, especially if both its demands and its promise apply across the board.


Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature

By: Alan S. Miller Ph.D., Satoshi Kanazawa Ph.D. I have excerpted below the four most politically relevant truths. The truths about polygamy lead in to the truth about Muslims

Human nature is one of those things that everybody talks about but no one can define precisely. Every time we fall in love, fight with our spouse, get upset about the influx of immigrants into our country, or go to church, we are, in part, behaving as a human animal with our own unique evolved nature-human nature.

This means two things. First, our thoughts, feelings, and behavior are produced not only by our individual experiences and environment in our own lifetime but also by what happened to our ancestors millions of years ago. Second, our thoughts, feelings, and behavior are shared, to a large extent, by all men or women, despite seemingly large cultural differences.

Human behavior is a product both of our innate human nature and of our individual experience and environment. In this article, however, we emphasize biological influences on human behavior, because most social scientists explain human behavior as if evolution stops at the neck and as if our behavior is a product almost entirely of environment and socialization. In contrast, evolutionary psychologists see human nature as a collection of psychological adaptations that often operate beneath conscious thinking to solve problems of survival and reproduction by predisposing us to think or feel in certain ways. Our preference for sweets and fats is an evolved psychological mechanism. We do not consciously choose to like sweets and fats; they just taste good to us.

The implications of some of the ideas in this article may seem immoral, contrary to our ideals, or offensive. We state them because they are true, supported by documented scientific evidence. Like it or not, human nature is simply not politically correct.

* Humans are naturally polygamous

The history of western civilization aside, humans are naturally polygamous. Polyandry (a marriage of one woman to many men) is very rare, but polygyny (the marriage of one man to many women) is widely practiced in human societies, even though Judeo-Christian traditions hold that monogamy is the only natural form of marriage. We know that humans have been polygynous throughout most of history because men are taller than women.

Among primate and nonprimate species, the degree of polygyny highly correlates with the degree to which males of a species are larger than females. The more polygynous the species, the greater the size disparity between the sexes. Typically, human males are 10 percent taller and 20 percent heavier than females. This suggests that, throughout history, humans have been mildly polygynous.

Relative to monogamy, polygyny creates greater fitness variance (the distance between the "winners" and the "losers" in the reproductive game) among males than among females because it allows a few males to monopolize all the females in the group. The greater fitness variance among males creates greater pressure for men to compete with each other for mates. Only big and tall males can win mating opportunities. Among pair-bonding species like humans, in which males and females stay together to raise their children, females also prefer to mate with big and tall males because they can provide better physical protection against predators and other males.

In societies where rich men are much richer than poor men, women (and their children) are better off sharing the few wealthy men; one-half, one-quarter, or even one-tenth of a wealthy man is still better than an entire poor man. As George Bernard Shaw puts it, "The maternal instinct leads a woman to prefer a tenth share in a first-rate man to the exclusive possession of a third-rate one." Despite the fact that humans are naturally polygynous, most industrial societies are monogamous because men tend to be more or less equal in their resources compared with their ancestors in medieval times. (Inequality tends to increase as society advances in complexity from hunter-gatherer to advanced agrarian societies. Industrialization tends to decrease the level of inequality.)

* Most women benefit from polygyny, while most men benefit from monogamy

When there is resource inequality among men-the case in every human society-most women benefit from polygyny: women can share a wealthy man. Under monogamy, they are stuck with marrying a poorer man.

The only exceptions are extremely desirable women. Under monogamy, they can monopolize the wealthiest men; under polygyny, they must share the men with other, less desirable women. However, the situation is exactly opposite for men. Monogamy guarantees that every man can find a wife. True, less desirable men can marry only less desirable women, but that's much better than not marrying anyone at all.

Men in monogamous societies imagine they would be better off under polygyny. What they don't realize is that, for most men who are not extremely desirable, polygyny means no wife at all, or, if they are lucky, a wife who is much less desirable than one they could get under monogamy.

* Most suicide bombers are Muslim

Suicide missions are not always religiously motivated, but according to Oxford University sociologist Diego Gambetta, editor of Making Sense of Suicide Missions, when religion is involved, the attackers are always Muslim. Why? The surprising answer is that Muslim suicide bombing has nothing to do with Islam or the Quran (except for two lines). It has a lot to do with sex, or, in this case, the absence of sex.

What distinguishes Islam from other major religions is that it tolerates polygyny. By allowing some men to monopolize all women and altogether excluding many men from reproductive opportunities, polygyny creates shortages of available women. If 50 percent of men have two wives each, then the other 50 percent don't get any wives at all.

So polygyny increases competitive pressure on men, especially young men of low status. It therefore increases the likelihood that young men resort to violent means to gain access to mates. By doing so, they have little to lose and much to gain compared with men who already have wives. Across all societies, polygyny makes men violent, increasing crimes such as murder and rape, even after controlling for such obvious factors as economic development, economic inequality, population density, the level of democracy, and political factors in the region.

However, polygyny itself is not a sufficient cause of suicide bombing. Societies in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean are much more polygynous than the Muslim nations in the Middle East and North Africa. And they do have very high levels of violence. Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from a long history of continuous civil wars-but not suicide bombings.

The other key ingredient is the promise of 72 virgins waiting in heaven for any martyr in Islam. The prospect of exclusive access to virgins may not be so appealing to anyone who has even one mate on earth, which strict monogamy virtually guarantees. However, the prospect is quite appealing to anyone who faces the bleak reality on earth of being a complete reproductive loser.

It is the combination of polygyny and the promise of a large harem of virgins in heaven that motivates many young Muslim men to commit suicide bombings. Consistent with this explanation, all studies of suicide bombers indicate that they are significantly younger than not only the Muslim population in general but other (nonsuicidal) members of their own extreme political organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. And nearly all suicide bombers are single.

* Men sexually harass women because they are not sexist

An unfortunate consequence of the ever-growing number of women joining the labor force and working side by side with men is the increasing number of sexual harassment cases. Why must sexual harassment be a necessary consequence of the sexual integration of the workplace?

Psychologist Kingsley R. Browne identifies two types of sexual harassment cases: the quid pro quo ("You must sleep with me if you want to keep your job or be promoted") and the "hostile environment" (the workplace is deemed too sexualized for workers to feel safe and comfortable). While feminists and social scientists tend to explain sexual harassment in terms of "patriarchy" and other ideologies, Browne locates the ultimate cause of both types of sexual harassment in sex differences in mating strategies.

Studies demonstrate unequivocally that men are far more interested in short-term casual sex than women. In one now-classic study, 75 percent of undergraduate men approached by an attractive female stranger agreed to have sex with her; none of the women approached by an attractive male stranger did. Many men who would not date the stranger nonetheless agreed to have sex with her.

The quid pro quo types of harassment are manifestations of men's greater desire for short-term casual sex and their willingness to use any available means to achieve that goal. Feminists often claim that sexual harassment is "not about sex but about power;" Browne contends it is both-men using power to get sex. "To say that it is only about power makes no more sense than saying that bank robbery is only about guns, not about money."

Sexual harassment cases of the hostile-environment variety result from sex differences in what men and women perceive as "overly sexual" or "hostile" behavior. Many women legitimately complain that they have been subjected to abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment by their male coworkers. Browne points out that long before women entered the labor force, men subjected each other to such abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment.

Abuse, intimidation, and degradation are all part of men's repertoire of tactics employed in competitive situations. In other words, men are not treating women differently from men-the definition of discrimination, under which sexual harassment legally falls-but the opposite: Men harass women precisely because they are not discriminating between men and women.


American liberals took leave of reason after JFK's murder

"Inherit the Wind" is running on Broadway again, night after night pitting the righteously rational Clarence Darrow against the Bible-thumping antievolutionist William Jennings Bryan. The 1955 play--a chestnut of high-school English courses across the country--concerns the Scopes "Monkey Trial" of 1925 and is meant to capture the moment in American history when science and reason superseded, at last, the myth and superstition of foolish reactionaries. It has become something of a liberal sacrament. But as James Piereson shows in "Camelot and the Cultural Revolution," myth and superstition were the essence of the liberal response to John F. Kennedy's assassination in November 1963. It was the liberals who threw evidence and reason to the winds, inheriting the crippling effects of their own bad judgment.

Mr. Piereson is not concerned with showing yet again that, yes--in defiance of all conspiracy theories--Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman on that fateful day. "Camelot and the Cultural Revolution," Mr. Piereson explains, is less about "the assassination itself than the political reaction to it and the lasting consequences of that reaction." It is one of the best accounts we have of why liberalism--which "owned the future" in 1963--fell from grace and has yet to recover.

During his presidency, Kennedy had repeatedly criticized the irrationalism of far-right-wing anticommunists and their segregationist cousins. It was a turbulent time, lest we forget. In April 1963, the police in Birmingham, Ala., had set dogs upon peaceful civil-rights marchers, and in June segregationists in Mississippi assassinated NAACP leader Medgar Evers. In October, protesters in Dallas had harassed Adlai Stevenson, Kennedy's United Nations ambassador. Dallas was a notoriously segregated city, and the John Birch Society (whose members thought President Eisenhower had been under communist sway) were a part of the city's political culture. The society's Dallas leader was Gen. Edwin Walker, whom Oswald had tried to kill in April by shooting at him through a window in his home. (Oswald just missed.)

Thus when Kennedy was shot on Nov. 22, 1963, it was widely assumed that his killer was the kind of hate-filled reactionary who believed Kennedy to be selling out America to Soviet Communism and to be showing too little resistance to the civil-rights movement. Such an assumption was buttressed by the great liberal intellectuals of the 1950s, such as Richard Hofstadter and Daniel Bell, whose writings had attempted to show that segregationists and the followers of Joe McCarthy--with their "paranoid style" of politics, in Hofstadter's phrase--were insecure, backward-looking extremists who threatened America's bright future.

In the minds of liberals, then, Kennedy's killer should have been a right-wing fanatic. But he wasn't. Oswald was a man of the hard left. He had defected to the Soviet Union. When he found that country too bureaucratic, he returned to America and began proselytizing for Fidel Castro and his supposedly new brand of the third-world revolution. Nor was Oswald an irrational, discontented Dostoevskian loner, as some depicted him. He was in fact a joiner of movements and something of a self-defined intellectual who thought that his mixture of Marxism and anarchism made him smarter and more sophisticated than his frivolous peers.

Jackie Kennedy was distraught at the nature of Oswald's political identity. Her husband, she said, "didn't even have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights. . . . It had to be some silly little communist. It even robs his death of meaning." But not for long. As Mr. Piereson explains, Jackie carefully planned JFK's funeral to resemble that of Abraham Lincoln. The staging was such a success that, for many, Kennedy came to be seen as a martyr to civil rights. The Kennedy legend began to take hold.

Jackie's impulse may have been self-regarding, but it also served the country's need to end segregation. More problematic was the argument of James Reston, the influential New York Times columnist, who just after the assassination argued in a column called "A Portion of Guilt for All" that Kennedy had been crucified on the altar of American violence. Brushing aside the evidence, he insisted that "all of us had a part in the slaying of the president." This claim was but a step from what became the standard-issue 1960s argument that American was a "sick society."

But Reston was the soul of reason compared with the conspiracy theorists who laid the assassination at the feet of a shadowy business cabal or the CIA--or even, foreshadowing Oliver Stone, Lyndon Johnson. It turned out that the paranoid style described by Hofstadter was equally a property of the left and the right.

Mr. Piereson's own argument is persuasive and well-presented, but liberalism was never as reasonable as he assumes. The irrationalism that exploded later in the 1960s had been a component of left-wing ideology well before. Herbert Croly, the liberal founder of the New Republic magazine, was drawn to mysticism. In the 1950s ex-Marxists fell over themselves in praise of Wilhelm Reich and "orgone box," hoping that sexual therapy might replace Marxist theory as the toga of the enlightened. And in the very early 1960s a veritable cult of Castro, informed by Franz Fanon's writings on the cleansing virtues of violence, emerged among intellectuals searching for an alternative to middle-class conventions.

It's not reason that is at the heart of modern-day liberalism but rather the claim to superior virtue and, even more important, to a special knowledge unavailable to the unwashed or unenlightened. Depending on the temper of the time, such virtue and knowledge can derive disproportionately from scientism or mysticism--or it can mix large dollops of both. "Camelot and the Cultural Revolution" lays bare the long-ignored failure of intellect that hastened the decline of American liberalism. If liberals can belatedly come to grips with their failure to acknowledge Oswald's political identity, they might be able to celebrate a revival that involves more than a Broadway show.



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 July, 2007

Scalia-Thomas Derangement Syndrome: A full-court press of illogic

The other day, at National Review Online's "Bench Memos" blog, I commented that an Ellen Goodman column on the subject of Clarence Thomas seemed to be altogether devoid of anything that could be recognized as an argument. No construction of premises plainly stated for the reader to accept or reject; no marshaling of evidence whose truth can be assessed, so far as is possible from a brief newspaper commentary; no assembly of the connective tissue that will lead a fair-minded reader to see a conclusion of which he might be persuaded after weighing the matter for himself.

Instead Goodman's column was a tissue of sneers, ad hominem attacks, begged questions, and appeals to the passions of readers already inclined to view matters as she does. Now, preaching to the choir is a common enough phenomenon in opinion commentary. It's hardly a new thing created by the "everyone's a critic" political culture to which the blogosphere has brought us. After all, the Constitution was only a couple of years old when rival newspapermen John Fenno and Philip Freneau started to hurl epithets around the nation's capital with scant regard for the niceties of argumentative ethics or logical structure.

Still, what Charles Krauthammer has called "Bush Derangement Syndrome" has plainly got some people unhinged when it comes to their ability to construct arguments. (In journalism on the Supreme Court, this would be "Scalia-Thomas Derangement Syndrome.") Whole colonies of commentators on the Left, congregating on liberal websites and in university faculties, have let their hatred of their political opponents turn itself into misology, the hatred of reason itself. The Right is not immune to this affliction, but the characteristic form of a liberal argument these days seems to be:

Major premise: All the works of Subject X (President Bush, Justice Thomas, et al.) are known to be evil by all right-thinking people.

Minor premise: Evil is known to be caused by ignorance, hypocrisy, intolerance, greed, the thirst for power, or the simple desire to harm others for the sake of the harm itself.

Conclusion: Therefore the account given by Subject X of his own actions needn't be examined, as it is known beforehand to be a mere rationalization for the evil caused by these faults and impulses.

Does it need to be pointed out that the major premise is itself a wholly undefended conclusion from another argument altogether, one that hasn't been made within the confines of the structure described here? Once upon a time, I wouldn't have thought it necessary to point this out, but I'm not so sure any more.

Conveniently for our purposes, three examples of this kind of misology appeared in two of the nation's major newspapers on Monday. First, consider this news article about Justice Thomas in the New York Times. The reporter, Neil A. Lewis, has interviewed a number of persons with a view to getting to the bottom of why Thomas voted as he did in the recent racial school-assignment cases from Seattle and Louisville. Lewis pays a little perfunctory attention to the arguments Thomas made in his 36-page opinion, in which he concurred in the invalidation of programs that assigned some children to schools solely in order to achieve racial "balance."

But Thomas's arguments are not actually assessed for their validity, or the extent to which they are supported by either factual evidence or defensible legal principles, by Lewis or any of his interlocutors. Instead the whole tack of the article is to address "questions about [how] much his legal views are shaped by the difficulties of his own experience with race and education." Has he, in the words of his latest biographers, "burned with anger at slights, real and imagined," and therefore concluded that he will set his face against "integration"? Yes, that must be it. No need to open your mind to what Thomas actually says - the reasons he gives, in a job where reason-giving is the stock in trade, for the votes he casts.

A second example came in this article in the Washington Post, part of a recurring feature under the heading "Department of Human Behavior," in which the writer Shankar Vedantam reviews some of the latest findings in the social and behavioral sciences and connects them to current events. In Monday's installment Vedantam shoots the breeze with a couple of liberal psychologists about the notion of "cognitive dissonance," about which they have written a whole politically inspired book (though in truth, it is a concept of extremely limited explanatory utility). Though their book came out before the president commuted Scooter Libby's sentence, our academic experts happily opine on the subject when Vedantam reaches them. And boy do they deliver the goods. As Vedantam recounts their take:

For Bush to have allowed Libby to go to jail, he would have had to live with the idea that someone who he thought was a good and loyal soldier was being punished for being a good and loyal soldier - a fairly extreme form of cognitive dissonance. The only way to keep such cognitive dissonance at bay, the psychologists said, was for Bush to see Libby's prison sentence as overly harsh and do away with it altogether, even though Bush, both as president and governor of Texas, has long prided himself on refusing clemency to felons.

Now as it happens, the president gave his own account of his reasons for commuting Libby's sentence. Although the Constitution does not oblige him to explain his use of the pardon power (the grant of clemency itself was a separate document, briefly and baldly stating an action), Bush saw fit to give his reasons. Would a decent respect for the uses of public power, and for those who wield it, call us to consider whether there was something persuasive about Bush's reasons before we rush for the psychobabble explanations? Not if we are confirmed misologists, who have foresworn the lending of any credence to "them" who stand opposed to our fondest beliefs. Now who has the bad case of dissonance?

Our last example takes us back to the Times, this time for an op-ed by Princeton historian Sean Wilentz. Here we have a deeply, historically informed misology. None of this putting our enemy on a shrink's couch from afar, looking for inner turmoils from his youth, or for any unmet needs he may have to view himself as a good person. No sirree, Wilentz has a manly contempt for these explanations buried in the id, instead preferring to reason roughly as follows, if I read him aright:

1) The Iran-contra affair two decades ago, as everyone knows, was the scene of executive depredations on the Constitution of the very worst sort, as can be seen by the fact that Oliver North "was eventually convicted of three federal felonies," though none of them went to the heart of the issue between Congress and the president.

2) Dick Cheney was a signer of Congress's minority report on the affair (to which two Cheney honchos contributed their mite), in which arguments were made that the president is principally responsible for foreign affairs and that therefore the "scandal" owed as much or more to Congress's over-reaching in that area as to presidential irresponsibility or skullduggery.

3) Dick Cheney is responsible for a "quest to accumulate unaccountable executive power" in the present administration. Conclusion: We have in the White House today a concerted effort to bring about a presidential dominance of our politics that has a whiff of criminality about it. Or is there some other conclusion we should draw?

Although Wilentz draws our attention to the Iran-contra minority report, in truth he does not want us to read it. He wants to tell us about it, and to stamp it indelibly with a seal of disapprobration based on what everyone knows about those now half-forgotten events. His account of what that report said can hardly be reckoned as an analysis of its argument, or even as a fair recapitulation of what it contained. The executive summary of Wilentz's op-ed would be something like this: "Iran-contra bad, a crime even. Cheney at scene of crime, saying `what crime?' Cheney present in White House today. You do the math." This isn't an argument. It's a Daily Kos rant, tricked out in a suit.

Maybe Professor Wilentz can get together with our "cognitive dissonance" psychologists and start a new left-wing magazine. They could call it Misology Today.


Europe slowly returning to Christianity

A new offering from Penn State historian Philip Jenkins provides a brilliantly researched, intellectually honest, and surprising account of Europe’s cultural future. In God’s Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe’s Religious Crisis, Jenkins is guardedly optimistic, though not for reasons that will leave most secular Americans comfortable. Europe will survive, indeed will flourish. But in the process, it will become far more religious and morally conservative.

One reason is simple demography. In a society in which childless and single- children families have become the norm, an overwhelmingly large share of the children who are born descend from highly conservative, religious parents who follow the injunction of the Bible and the Koran to go forth and multiply. Jenkins makes this more than just an abstract proposition by providing on-the-ground reporting of a Christian reawakening that is already occurring in Europe.

How many Americans would have guessed, for example, that the Catholic Church is now flourishing in London? Jenkins quotes one parishioner, “We used to celebrate Mass three times on a Sunday and we were never full. Now we have six or eight services every Sunday and people are standing outside in the street.” Britain is still very secular compared to the United States. In 2001, only 33 percent of adults attended church during the Christmas season, but by 2005 that number had surged to 43 percent. In part, these numbers reflect the migration of Polish Catholics to Britain in recent years. But around Britain, American-style Protestant megachurches are also flourishing, such as Holy Trinity in Brompton, which now attracts 3,000 to its Sunday services and is organized into lay-led groups of twenty-five to thirty members who meet fortnightly.

In a particularly elucidative chapter entitled “Faith Among the Ruins,” Jenkins points to similar examples of religious revival across Europe. The number of young Italian women entering convents is surging. In 2005, the German Protestant Convention in Hanover attracted a record crowd of 400,000. In Finland, most people may be fed up with the official Lutheran Church, but large numbers of urban teenagers and young adults are flocking to the alternative “Thomas Mass,” which is based on liturgical traditions of the Lutheran Church, heavily influenced by ecumenicism. Jenkins estimates that Europe’s evangelicals, charismatics, and Pentecostals, many of them immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, outnumber Muslims by almost two to one, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

When I first read Jenkins’s book, my reaction was “interesting, if true.” But as it happened, I found myself in Poland this May, and was surprised to discover the Catholic churches of Warsaw and Krakow filled to the last pew—and not just with old ladies, but with enthusiastic young professionals and their children as well. Religious icons, like the black Madonna of Czestochowa, attract throngs of pilgrims, as does the birthplace of Pope John Paul II. A three-day conference of the World Congress of Families in Warsaw, at which I was a token backsliding secularist speaker, drew thousands of religious conservatives from across Europe who vibrated with energy.

The reason more Americans aren’t aware of these trends, Jenkins argues, is because most of what they know about Europe is filtered first by the European media, which are overwhelmingly secular and generally hostile to organized religion. “European accounts of religious life all but ignore significant trends or events, and this lack of attention means that these movements receive little attention elsewhere.”

For similar reasons, most Americans have little conception of how conservative ordinary Europeans are on a wide range of other issues. For example, no European country has practiced capital punishment since 1981. Because of the ability of elites to control public discussion, the issue is simply off the table. Yet, as Jenkins reports, majorities in most European countries support the death penalty, as well as much tougher stands on criminal justice. Similarly, the European “man in the street” opposes much else the European Union stands for, including sheltering asylum seekers and promoting “positive discrimination” (affirmative action) for Muslim youths. Americans who don’t pay close attention get only hints of what a “red state” Europe is becoming—as when, for example, a majority of voters in France and the Netherlands unexpectedly rejects the proposed EU constitution (in 2005), or when France elects a “law and order” president like Nicolas Sarkozy.

“Putting all these various issues together,” Jenkins concludes, “we can envision a near future Europe that is anything but uniformly secular.” The number of Christians may decline, along with Europe’s population as a whole, but they will account for a larger, and presumably louder, share of the population.

The influence of European Muslims will also grow. But their numbers are, as Jenkins points out, still quite small. The largest concentration of Muslims is in France, at about 8 percent of the population. In the Netherlands, 6.3 percent of the population is Muslim, and Jenkins notes that in all other current EU countries, just 4.3 percent are Muslim. Furthermore, there is great diversity within Europe’s Muslim citizenry. The Turks who dominate Germany’s Muslim population do not even speak the same language as France’s Algerians, much less Britain’s Pakistanis. Moreover, polls suggest that Muslims living in Europe generally express far more positive attitudes toward Christians—91 percent in France, 82 percent in Spain, and 71 percent in Britain—than do Muslims in their countries of origin. Though European Muslims are generally hostile to Jews, they are less so than Muslims living elsewhere in the world. And, as Jenkins points out, violent fundamentalists are a very tiny minority of all practicing Muslims.

Such considerations lead Jenkins to make an optimistic comparison with the United States’ historical experience with Catholic immigration. “Fears that the nation would be swamped by immigrants, perhaps by revolutionary force, provoked Protestants to mobilize in some of the largest mass movements ever seen in American history,” he reminds us, “above all, the Ku Klux Klan of the early 1920s.” If there is friction between Muslim immigrants and the native stock of Europe today, just be patient, Jenkins councils. “Let us make a fair comparison: just how well was the United States doing with assimilation in 1925 or so?”

This particular comparison strikes me as strained. Americans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century did experience terrorism from self-styled anarchists and unionists, many of them immigrants (for example, the Haymarket bombing, the McKinley assassination). But there were never any Catholic equivalents of today’s Islamic suicide bombers. Nor did Catholic crusaders assassinate people over cartoons. Moreover, to suggest that it is no great cause for alarm if Europe witnesses the resurgence of movements akin to the KKK for a generation or two strikes me as less than comforting.

Still, a confrontation between a resurgent Christianity in Europe and a militant Islam is not necessarily the new battle line in European society. Indeed, as I was reminded at the World Congress of Families in Warsaw, conservative Christians and conservative Muslims living in Europe have much more in common with each other on many issues—notably abortion, euthanasia, and “family values”—than they do with Europe’s childless relativistic secularists. Time and again, speakers at the conference made this point. We are all People of the Book. The true infidels are the secularists who deny a role for the God of Abraham in public life, and who in the name of human rights and personal liberation create a “culture of death.”

If one defines European civilization by the public philosophy of the European Union, including its embrace of secularism and multiculturalism, then that Europe is definitely in demographic decline. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that this Europe forgot to have children and thereby lost much of its influence over the evolution of European society while also undermining the sustainability of its welfare state. If, however, one defines European civilization by its Judeo-Christian traditions, including its long history of both confronting and adapting to Islamic influences, then Europe looks poised for rejuvenation.


Leftist bias masquerading as journalism

An editorial from "The Australian" below pulls no punches. Like many Murdoch properties, "The Australian" gives good coverage to both conservative and Leftist viewpoints -- something the Left find unforgiveable

The measure of good journalism is objectivity and a fearless regard for truth. Bias, nonetheless, is in the eye of the beholder and some people will always see conspiracy when the facts don't suit their view of the world. This is the affliction that has gripped, to a large measure, Australia's online news commentariat that has found passing endless comment on other people's work preferable to breaking real stories and adding to society's pool of knowledge.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the fortnightly fury that accompanies The Australian's presentation of Newspoll, the nation's most authoritative snapshot of the political landscape. Newspoll cannot predict the future but it can provide clues. Often they are hidden beyond the headline figure in an emerging trend. The Australian has proved itself adept at spotting these trends but our woolly-headed critics dismiss this as manipulation. But if history repeats itself and the turnaround reported in John Howard's Newspoll rating as preferred Prime Minister indicates a bigger swing in support back to the coalition will the on-line commentariat finally admit it is they, not us, who are blinded by bias? As the nation's leading newspaper we expect our reporting and expert analysis will get attention. But the one-eyed anti-Howard cheer squad now masquerading as serious online political commentary, apart from a few notable exceptions, has all but exhausted its claim to be taken seriously.

Smug, self assured, delusional swagger is no substitute for getting it right. When it comes to spotting and properly understanding emerging trends, the evidence is on our side. Our analysis was proved correct in 1998, 2001 and 2004 and we expect it will again this year. We do not know who will win the next election but despite Labor's big lead in the opinion polls since Kevin Rudd was elected leader last December, history suggests it will be a tough fight. According to The Australian's political editor, Dennis Shanahan, no Opposition since World War II has won government without two key indicators 12 months out from the election. These are that the Opposition Leader has a lead over the incumbent of at least five points on the question of who would make a better Prime Minister and the party has a nine point lead on a two party preferred basis. Applying this historical test Mr Rudd may not have had enough time to cement his claim to the top job, though he leads by a huge margin now.

The fact that Mr Howard has pulled back Mr Rudd's advantage on the question of better Prime Minister in the latest Newspoll survey is significant. As Newspoll chief executive Martin O'Shannessy wrote in The Australian yesterday, evidence from the past three elections is that a turnaround in Mr Howard's better PM rating can be interpreted as a leading indicator for an improvement in the Coalition's overall electoral stocks. Though it may not happen this time, the pattern over the last three electoral cycles has been a fall in Mr Howard's ratings 12 months out from an election, accompanied by a fall in the Coalition primary vote in two of the past three elections. This has been followed by a bottoming out of Mr Howard's rating three to six months out from the election which is in turn followed immediately by an improvement in his better PM rating and a rise in the Coalition primary vote.

In mid-1998 Labor appeared to be in a position to win government after support for the Coalition slumped to the lowest on record but within five months Howard was re-elected as Prime Minister after defeating Kim Beazley as Labor leader for the first time. In late 2003 Shanahan was criticised for highlighting Simon Crean's poor Newspoll showing but within months Crean had stepped aside in favour of Mark Latham. In the lead-up to the 2004 election, the ALP under Latham looked competitive, and was reported as such in this newspaper, but Labor was thrashed at the October 2004 poll. Where The Australian recognised that Mr Latham could not win in mid 2004 many online commentators continued to support him until a year after his defeat.

The Australian was criticised for its analysis of Newspoll last November indicating Mr Beazley was a fatal liability for Labor's electoral chances. At that time Shanahan accurately picked the significance of Labor's fall in primary support to below 40 per cent, the level at which Paul Keating had said the ALP had no chance of winning an election. Labor's performance after replacing Mr Beazley with Mr Rudd suggests Shanahan's analysis was correct.

If there is a common theme to the criticisms levelled against The Australian's political coverage by the self appointed online commentariat it is that our critics only howl when the heat is being applied to Labor. There was a flurry of concern when we criticised Mr Beazley but silence when Mr Howard's performance has been put under the gun. The Australian's coverage of the first Newspoll with Mr Rudd as Labor leader said it had been a dream start. The Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard 'dream team' ticket was cemented following a special Newspoll which showed it would be the most popular combination for Labor against Mr Howard. In February, Mr Shanahan made the first call that Mr Howard could lose to Mr Rudd claiming, 'This time, Howard is vulnerable'. When we led with the story that Mr Rudd's Newspoll rating as better Prime Minister had soared past that of Mr Howard there was no negative commentary about our reporting or the emphasis on the measure of better PM. But when we reported Mr Howard pulling level with Mr Rudd this week on preferred prime minister we were accused of selective analysis and doing the Government's bidding. As a general rule, if the polls show Mr Howard is performing badly, our critics are happy.

As a newspaper we don't know who we will support at the federal election. On several occasions this year we have called for the Government to address the substance of Labor's policies rather than attack Mr Rudd personally because, as our own editorials have said, we are sure Mr Rudd would make a good prime minister. Rather than being a mouthpiece for the Government, as some online news sites would suggest, we have been harsh critics of Mr Howard. But most of our criticism has been from the Right, chiding the Government for being overly generous with middle class welfare and reform shy. The self appointed experts online come instead from the extreme Left, populated as many sites are by sheltered academics and failed journalists who would not get a job on a real newspaper. We fully expect that if anything goes wrong for Mr Rudd in the campaign this year we will be blamed for Labor's misfortune.

It reflects how out of touch with ordinary views so many on-line commentators are. They claim to understand the mainstream but in reality represent a clique that believes what it considers to be the evils of the Howard Government position on Iraq, climate change, and Work Choices to be self-evident truths. They despair that Mr Howard has not suffered the same collapse in public support as US President George W Bush and Newspoll makes it clear Mr Howard still enjoys very strong support in the electorate. Such commentators clearly have a market because there are a lot of people who want to have their own prejudices endlessly confirmed. But they should not kid themselves they are engaged in proper journalism and real reporting.

On almost every issue it is difficult not to conclude that most of the electronic offerings that feed off the work of The Australian to create their own content are a waste of time. They contribute only defamatory comments and politically coloured analysis. Unlike Crikey, we understand Newspoll because we own it. Martin O'Shannessy understands Newspoll because he runs it and Sol Lebovic understands Newspoll because he started it. The results of our analysis speak for themselves over 20 years.

A guide book recently published by one site demonstrates the extent of confused thinking on how the polls operate. A chapter by Mumble's Peter Brent says two party preferred ratings are at the same time worthy but unreliable and that an Opposition Leader with a high satisfaction rating has no better chance of being elected than one with a low rating. He dismisses approval ratings and the preferred Prime Minister measure as "embroidery". Yet the fact is when Mr Howard and Mr Rudd's offices telephone The Australian to get advance warning on what the following day's Newspoll will show they invariably want to know two things: The primary vote and preferred PM.

Not properly understanding how polls work gives our critics licence to project their own bias onto analysis of our reporting. The Australian is not beholden to any one side of politics and recent election outcomes vindicate our treatment of our polls. So let's not mince words. We just don't think many of our critics have any real clue about polling and very little practical experience of politics.



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 July, 2007

The church of the Left

Religious adherents hope to be imbued with a `holy spirit,' elevating themselves into a kind of nirvana-like state. In the religion of the left, adherents hope to be blessed with a different kind of frenzy, one that closely resembles a kind of transference. It is also true that the catechism of the left is strange collection of eclectic ideas and ideologies, none of which address reality in a meaningful way.

Like the radical Islamists, the Church of the Left usually assigns the worst of it's own characteristics to those it finds itself in disagreement with- the US and anyone who disagrees with them. Adherents of the Church of the Left will side with anyone, no matter who they are or what they represent, if the agenda is anti-American enough.

Germans and Japanese of the left excoriate the `American history of militarism,' to the wild and encouraging cheers of the American left. After the 2000 election, Mexican authorities expressed grave concern about American electoral irregularities. British leftists routinely refer to American Imperialism and perhaps most ironic of all, the left now stands shoulder to shoulder with the Arab world, complaining that the press is being precluded from reporting the truth, hindered by a secret cabal that controls the media (the Arab world of course, has always been a beacon of a free press). Barely able to contain itself, the left consider the Chinese charges to have the most gravity. That workers paradise routinely accuses the US of `Imperial Hegemony.' Considering that China has, for the last 6,000 plus years, been the principal Asian hegemon, their call is an example of spectacular hypocrisy at best. That of course is irrelevant to the left. If those making the calls are anti-American, well, they are members in good standing in the Church of the Left. If and when the Chinese invade Taiwan, a free, democratic and not anti-American, don't look for the left to condemn that exercise of Chinese hegemony.

When French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hubert Vedrine remarked that

"The foremost characteristic of the United States is that it has regarded itself ever since its birth as a chosen nation, charged with the task of enlightening the rest of the world"

the Church of the Left could barely contain itself as the Minister addressed an adoring and worshipful choir. In fact, if history has taught us anything, it is the French who have claimed that moral superiority (for itself only. Their colonies were left in a shambles, with violence and corruption a legacy left to this day). What is left unrepeated and unnoticed by the Church of the Left is the claim, ad nauseum, by the French that France is the birthplace of the Rights of Man and as such, it is the French alone that understand liberty and the ideals of man. Monsieur Vedrine seems to have forgotten the French `attitude.' So far the theologians of the left have yet to address that issue.

When you get right down to it, the Church of the Left is not unlike the pagan religions of the dark ages, forcing itself upon an often unwilling population, demanding tributes and sacrifices, with no regard to the truth or reality. Hate America- that is enough. Hate freedom- well, even better. Hate those who would bring freedom to the multitudes, well, that is best of all.

All the while, the Church of the Left fuels that agenda with bigotry, hate and intimidation. That is not an exaggeration. Disagree with the catechism of the left and you are evil, to be eliminated. The Church of the Left elevates itself by tearing down the beliefs of others. Is it any wonder that they have found a temporary kinship with Islamists?

Naturally, the press are only too happy to bring the gospel of the left to the masses. Like pagan zealots everywhere, the media are only to happy to engage in America bashing at every opportunity, with nothing to insignificant or too small. In fact, even the truth is not a necessary ingredient when engaging in America bashing. America's inevitable and immediate decline is gleefully reported when monthly economic indicators don't rise quickly enough, or even decline. No matter that the US economy is expanding. The European press (the `balanced' BBC in particular) devoted huge amounts of newspaper column inches and radio and television editorials to the technical troubles the Mars `Spirit Rover,' as being indicative as to imminent decline of American technological innovation. America was in trouble, the European press said, because American technology was proving to be a failure.

When the problem was fixed, the Euro press barely mentioned it. If covering America doesn't include the requisite America bashing, well, there is no point in covering American affairs. In fact, what upsets the Europeans most is a reality they dare not face, one we addressed here, in the Who and Why of Who We Are:

We went on to explain that a century ago, Europe was only too happy to rid itself of the `wretched refuse' and `teeming masses'. The European elite and intellectuals thought that once rid of the annoying and newly demanding `unwashed' peasant class, Europe would once again regain it's rightful place as the center of the moral and political world, and thus preserve the imperialist relationships they had established, if not formally, then by necessity. Through benevolent noblesse oblige, Europe would assume control the economic and political fate of the `lesser' nations. Without masses of lower classes, now demanding equitable political participation, Europe's destiny would be assured. America, that upstart, would be relegated to it's proper position- that of being subservient to Europe, no more than a source of cheap raw materials for what must be the dominant European economic model.

That haughtiness, albeit in a different way, can be applied to the Latin Americans. The gringos came to this continent much later (and with far less) and landed in a much less hospitable environment. Nevertheless, it was the `gringos' who made it. In fact, it was the `wretched refuse,' that within a few short generations, built a society the exceeded and passed Europe, Africa and the Arab world. In fact, in reality it is only the Asians that have responded to the challenge, building economies and societies that are stunning examples of what can be done when a nation pulls together in response to a challenge. The French built a civil service that was dedicated to cradle to grave welfare system, a civil service dedicated to employing millions. The South Koreans, Japanese, Malays, etc., build ships and automobiles, exported all over the world.

How did this come to pass? Simple. Virtually the entire professional and governing Asian classes were educated in America- and exposed to American values. As is often the case, some Asian anti-American hostility came to the fore because they wish to attack their American benefactors. Japan- and Germany, for that matter- would not be what they are today because of American largesse and aid.

What the Church of the Left needs to avoid more than anything else is the truth that the United States is the most ethnically diverse country in the world, made that way because what drew immigrants here was the flight from persecution. They came to these shores, as we noted, to build better lives and a better society. What is also ignored by the Church of the Left is an even more important truth.

It isn't Americans that are hurt by the theology of anti-Americanism. Those most hurt by the Church of the Left live in other, far away countries. In despotic regimes the world over, oppressed peoples will remain in the dark abyss of tyranny and will never see the light of freedom- all because they are obsessed with denouncing and hating the United States, carefully cultivated by the Church of the Left and nourished by despotic regimes only too happy to cooperate with the `useful idiots' that will draw the focus away from their own excesses.

That is the true passion of the left- and because of it, murderous and despotic regimes will never be held accountable for their crimes. Iraqi murderers are deliberately killing children and the Church of the Left cannot bring itself to denounce that horror. Instead they focus on whatever must be done to exclude democracy, whatever the cost. As natural disasters and man-made cruelties become more evident each day, the Church of the Left can focus on one thing and one thing only- the defeat and destruction of America, her values and freedom. As children in Darfur die, as Arab children are taught to hate and kill, and as the after effects of natural disasters take their toll, the Church of the Left concerns itself with `getting Bush.'

America will survive the Church of the Left. It is a tragedy that the hate and obsessions of the will keep hundreds of millions, if not billions, oppressed, all because of a hate filled and failed ideology. Now that's hate.


Duped And Living In Jihad Denial

The New York Times's Thomas Friedman is right on the mark most of the time in his analysis of the dysfunctions troubling the Muslim world and of our own failures in confronting them. Particularly important is his frequent criticism of our feckless disregard of our dependence on fossil fuels. As Friedman argues, we should all be doing more about the fact that our oil consumption subsidizes the terrorists who want to blow us up.

But even Friedman has a blind spot that compromises his otherwise sensible analyses. His July 4 column is a perfect example. It accurately links global Muslim terrorist attacks to the intolerant chauvinism inherent in Islam, which to its adherents is "the most perfect and complete expression of God's monotheistic message, and the Koran is God's last and most perfect word." Yet this spiritual perfection collides with a world dominated by the same West that for nearly a thousand years quailed at the armies of Allah. "This creates," Friedman writes, "a real dissonance and humiliation. How could this be? Who did this to us? The Crusaders! The Jews! The West! It can never be something that they failed to learn, adapt to or build. This humiliation produces a lashing out."

That last sentence, redolent of middle-class parents trying to figure out why their geeky kid vandalized the neighbor's SUV, is where Friedman loses it by indulging a reductive psychology that locates behavior not in the spiritual imperative he himself identifies, but in a neurotic reaction to environmental pressures. By the end of the piece this misstep has become a pratfall: "Muslims have got to understand that a death cult has taken root in the bosom of their religion, feeding off it like a cancerous tumor."

Notice that metaphor: jihad--for that is what the terrorists are engaged in, as they repeatedly tell us--is a cultic deformation of otherwise healthy cells in the body of Islam, an alien growth that needs to be excised so health returns. Yet this received wisdom, repeated over and over, even by the Bush administration, is simply false to Islamic history, theology, and jurisprudence. If one attends carefully to that record, it is obvious that jihad is not an alien "tumor" but a vital organ of Islam.

Of course, one can try to avoid this unpleasant fact by denying that what the terrorists are engaged in is jihad. One can indulge the laughable rationalization that jihad is really "inward striving" to be a better Muslim. This minority interpretation of jihad appears late in Islamic history, and is looked on with scorn by many Muslims themselves. Listen to the Ayatollah Khomeini, creator of the first modern Islamic nation, writing in 1942: "Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless. Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! . . . Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and the shadow of the sword." And again in 1979, from a speech delivered at the Feyziyeh Theological School: "Islam grew with blood . . . . The great prophet of Islam on one hand carried the Koran and in the other a sword . . . . Islam is religion of blood for the infidels but a religion of guidance for other people."

Some Westerners, following duplicitous Muslim apologists, no doubt would argue that Khomeini, a revered Muslim theologian, is distorting the traditions of his faith. But given that the 1979 speech was delivered at a theological school, where the audience is knowledgeable about their faith and so could identify distortions of its tenets, this rationalization is incredible. Common sense tells us that Khomeini and the other modern jihadists know their own faith and its doctrines, and are speaking squarely in that tradition, as can be documented from the Koran, Hadiths, and subsequent Muslim theologians, jurists, and other commentators (see Andrew Bostom's invaluable anthology, The Legacy of Jihad). All these sources tell us that jihad indeed is the imperative to follow the example of the prophet Mohammed, who said in his farewell address: "I was ordered to fight all men until they say, `There is no god but Allah.'"

Modern jihadists, then, aren't "heretics" or "fanatics" who have "highjacked" the "religion of peace" in order to compensate for their neurotic "humiliation" at Muslim backwardness. Bin Laden and his lieutenant Aymin Al Zawahiri have issued many writings that define their terrorist war as a traditional jihad, backing up their argument with numerous references to Islamic theology and jurisprudence. In a few weeks The Al Qaeda Reader will be published, Library of Congress researcher Raymond Ibrahim's translation of the most significant Al Qaeda treatises, many of which have not appeared before in English. This promises to be one of the most important books since 9/11, a critical resource for accurately understanding the motives of Al Qaeda. These writings, especially those intended for Muslims, ground the war against the West squarely in the Islamic tradition of jihad: "Zawahiri's writings," Ibrahim notes, "especially are grounded in Islam's roots of jurisprudence; in fact, of the many thousands of words translated here from his three treatises, well more than half are direct quotations from the Koran, the Sunna of Muhammad, and the consensus and conclusions of the Ulema [past and present commentators and interpreters of Islamic belief and practice]."

Even the killing of women and children is argued for on the basis of that same tradition, which provides traction for rationalizations based on Islamic military weakness, sophistic definitions of "innocence," and the oft-repeated injunction to kill all infidels. This interpretation may be erroneous, but the mere fact that it can be argued for at all, and accepted by many Muslims, is itself significant. And such an interpretation is possible because there already exists the doctrine of jihad, which glorifies and justifies violence against non-believers. This helps to answer the obvious question why other ex-colonial peoples supposedly "humiliated" by their failure to keep up with the powerful West have not resorted to terrorist violence.

Again, it beggars belief that a Zawahiri or a Khomeini is distorting his faith's traditions and dogmas, particularly when millions of Muslims world-wide agree with those traditional interpretations. Are we to think those millions don't know their own religion? That they are dupes of manipulators and distorters? Or is it rather the case that they know very well their faith and see Bin Laden et al. as traditionalists attempting to restore to Islam the doctrinal purity that fueled Islam's remarkable conquests? Perhaps this agreement with the so-called "Islamists" explains the dearth of protests against these presumed "distortions" on the part of all those "moderate" Muslims we keep hearing about.

No, it is we who are the dupes of distorters, all those apologists, propagandists, and Western useful idiots who obscure the truth of Islam and its history. And they are successful: Washington Times columnist Diana West, writing on July 6 about Robert Spencer's important web-site jihadwatch.org, reports that "very ominously, Mr. Spencer's Web site is being blocked by assorted organizations which, according to his readers, continue to provide access to assorted pro-jihad sites. Mr. Spencer reports he's `never received word of so many organizations banning this site all at once.' These include the City of Chicago, Bank of America, Fidelity Investments, GE IT, JPMorgan Chase, Defense Finance and Accounting Services and now, a federal employee in Dallas informs him, the federal government." Why? "Some Internet providers deem the factually based, meticulous analysis on display at jihadwatch.org to be `hate speech.'"

This is the pass that we have come to: facts about the motives of an enemy sworn to our destruction are censored as "hate speech." This betrayal of the truth demonstrates perfectly the West's self-loathing failure of nerve that confirms the enemy's belief in his spiritual superiority-- and his ultimate victory.


Muslim, Italian and Zionist

It's not every day that a Muslim intellectual puts his own head on the line to defend Israel's right to exist. But that is exactly what Magdi Allam, an Egyptian-born Italian writer and journalist, has been doing for years. He recently published a book whose name alone is enough to endanger his life: "Long Live Israel - From the Ideology of Death to the Civilization of Life: My Story."

Allam defends Israel even though Hamas condemned him to death in 2003, after he denounced the group's terror attacks. Because of this threat, the Italian government has provided him with round-the-clock bodyguards. But Allam is not afraid. He finds it hard to "live an armored life," but he tells Haaretz in an interview, "I'm willing to pay the price in order to continue to be who I am, to write and speak freely." Those who cut out tongues and slit throats will not subdue him, he writes in the book.

Allam, 55, is the assistant editor of Corriere della Sera and the 2006 Dan David Prize laureate. His new book, which immediately became a best-seller in Italy, is part of his consistent and uncompromising fight against extremist Islam and for Israel's right to exist. In addition, he is trying to convince people that "the culture of hatred and death that the West now attributes to Muslims is not embedded in Islam's DNA."

In "Long Live Israel" ("Viva Israele" in Italian), Allam directly links the denial of Israel's right to exist to the death cult being nurtured in fundamentalist Islamic circles, and refers to "the ethical erosion that has led to even the denial of the supreme value of the sanctity of life." Allam sees Israel as "an ethical parameter that separates between lovers of civilization and those who preach the ideology of death." The sanctity of life, he writes, "applies to everyone, or to no one."



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 July, 2007

Why Intellectuals Like Genocide

by Theodore Dalrymple

Seemingly arcane historical disputes can often cast a powerful light on the state of our collective soul. It is for that reason that I like to read books on obscure subjects: they are often more illuminating than books that at first sight are more immediately relevant to our current situation. For, as Emily Dickinson put it, success in indirection lies.

In 2002, the Australian free-lance historian and journalist, Keith Windschuttle, published a book that created a controversy that has still not died down. Entitled `The Fabrication of Aboriginal History,' it sets out to destroy the idea that there had been a genocide of Tasmanian aborigines carried out by the early European settlers of the island.

For about the previous quarter century, it was more or less an historical orthodoxy that there had been such a genocide. Robert Hughes accepted the idea in his best-selling history of early Australia, The Fatal Shore. I accepted it myself, because when I first visited Australia in 1982 I read several books on the subject by professors of history at reputable universities, and rather naively supposed that their work must have been founded on painstaking and honest research, and that they had not misrepresented their original sources.

Windschuttle argued in his book that they had fabricated much of their evidence, and that, contrary to what they claimed, there had been no deliberate policy on the part of the colonial authorities or the local population either to extirpate or kill very large numbers of aborigines. He showed that the historians' reading of the obscure source materials was either misleading or mendacious.

He sifted the material very carefully and found that there was evidence for the killing of 120 Tasmanian aborigines, either by settlers or by the military and police. Although this does not sound many, in relation to the population of Tasmanian aborigines it was a lot. It is the equivalent in the United States of upwards of 7,000,000, for there were only about 4,000 aborigines (or so it is thought) at any one time in Tasmania.

However, a similar number of settlers were killed by aborigines, and perhaps it is not so very surprising that there was conflict between people of such widely different conceptions of life as the aborigines and the early British settlers. But conflict is not genocide, which entails a plan deliberately to rid the world of a certain population. There was no genocide in Tasmania. The Tasmanian aborigines did indeed die out in the nineteenth century, but largely of disease and as a result of the loss of fertility caused by the venereal disease introduced by the settlers.

After the book was published, there were furious challenges to Windschuttle. Slurs were cast upon him: he was, for example, the Australian equivalent of the holocaust deniers. A book of essays in refutation of his point of view was published; a refutation of the refutation was also published. He appeared all round the country in debates with some of his detractors. As far as I understand it, the massed ranks of the professional historians were unable seriously to dent his argument. A few small errors (which he acknowledged) were found in his book, but not such as to undermine his thesis; in any case, they were very minor by comparison with the wholesale errors of his opponents. He had been much more scrupulous than they.

What struck me at the time about the controversy was the evident fact that a large and influential part of the Australian academy and intelligentsia actually wanted there to have been a genocide. They reacted to Windschuttle's book like a child who has had a toy snatched from its hand by its elder sibling. You would have thought that a man who discovered that his country had not been founded, as had previously been thought and taught, on genocide would be treated as a national hero. On the contrary, he was held up to execration.

Why should this be? Here I confess that I am entering the world of the ad hominem. I will not be able to prove my assertions beyond reasonable doubt, and other interpretations are possible. However, when it comes to questions of human motivation, it is difficult altogether to avoid the ad hominem.

It is, of course, possible, that the professors and the intelligentsia were so convinced that there had been a genocide, and believed that the evidence that it had taken place so overwhelming, that any person who denied it must have been an extremely bad man. On the other hand, if the evidence was so overwhelming, they should have been able easily to produce sufficient of it in public to convince someone like me (and many others). This they have not done, and so one must conclude that, at the very least, the historical question is an open one. And if the question is still an open one, the fury directed at Windschuttle was quite disproportionate.

I think the explanation lies elsewhere. Australia is known, not without reason, as the Lucky Country. It has virtually every resource known to man. It is a liberal democracy and has been for most of its existence. No one in Australia has ever feared the midnight knock on the door. To live well there requires a good deal less effort than in most places, perhaps anywhere else. The climate in much of the country (the current drought notwithstanding) is very pleasant. Overall, it is probably the best place, certainly among the best places, on earth to live. The fact that it is lucky is not, of course, a consequence of its natural endowments alone, but of what human beings have made of those endowments. Australia is a triumphant success.

This is not to say that everyone in Australia is deliciously happy, or that Australia is a prelapsarian Garden of Eden. People who live there, like people everywhere, have their problems. They go bankrupt, divorce, neglect their children, have accidents, die prematurely, kill themselves, overeat, drink too much, get bored, suffer illnesses, and so forth, just like people everywhere else.

The fact is, however, that political reforms in Australia, whatever they might be, are very unlikely to add much to the sum of human welfare there. Australia confronts human beings with their existential responsibility to make happiness for themselves, and this is sometimes a hard responsibility to face up to. For if you are unhappy in a country like Australia, you have to consider the possibility that the problem lies with you rather than with the conditions that surround you.

This is a disagreeable thing, particularly for an intelligentsia, which is deprived by it of a providential role for itself. What does an intelligentsia do when a country is already as satisfactory in its political arrangements and social institutions as any country has ever been? Intelligentsias do not like the kind of small problems that day to day existence inevitably throws up, such as termites in the woodwork or conflict at work over desk-space: they like to get their intellectual teeth into weightier, meatier problems.

What could be a weightier problem than a prosperous, fortunate country that was founded upon genocide? Clearly, if it was so founded, an intelligentsia is urgently needed to help it emerge from the dark moral labyrinth in which it exists, hitherto blindly. For only an intelligentsia is sufficiently used to thinking in abstractions to be qualified to act as guide to the nation.

Of course, an intelligentsia needs allies, for it is rarely strong enough by itself to dominate and control a society, and oddly enough the genocide school of Tasmanian history has created allies in people who now call themselves Tasmanian aborigines. But - I hear you object - I thought you said that Tasmanian aborigines died out in the nineteenth century (the last one being called Truganini)? Yes, I reply, but that is full-blooded aborigines. Because there were sexual relations between the first settlers and aborigine women, there exist people in Tasmania with aborigine blood running in the veins. Admittedly, that blood is almost as dilute as a homeopath's medicine, but it is enough for some purposes.

Where there has been genocide, it is only right that there should be apology and, more importantly, reparation. In the case of the aborigines, this can only be restoration of the land to them as a collectivity. Indeed, it has been suggested that half the territory of the island of Tasmania be reserved to aborigines.

These aborigines live indistinguishably from their non-aboriginal neighbours. They speak no language other than English; they do not forage in the bush for food; they have the same jobs and are under no social disability, perhaps because they are also physically indistinguishable from non-aborigines. In fact they are descended to a much greater extent from the perpetrators and beneficiaries of the alleged genocide than from the victims of it. It would therefore be difficult to think of a more obvious attempted fraud perpetrated on a political entity than the claim by Tasmanian `aborigines' to ancestral lands.

Actually, Tasmanian historiography of the genocide school has parallels elsewhere. I remember when I lived for a time in Guatemala reading the most currently-celebrated account of colonial Guatemala, called La patria del criollo. In all of its eight hundred pages the role of epidemic disease in reducing the number of Indians after the arrival of the Spanish was not mentioned even once, not even in passing, though it is almost certain (that is to say as certain as it can be) that the overwhelming cause of the decrease was epidemic disease.

Why was it not mentioned? Because the author wanted to present the current, supposedly lamentable state of Guatemala to be a direct consequence of the colonial era, which was itself a time of genocide. This being the case, there was only one thing to be done: to found the state anew, to start all over again, to build a new state from a better blueprint. It is not very difficult to see what role the intelligentsia would have in constructing the new society: a very powerful, indeed directing one.

The same is true in Australia, of course. If the current state was founded on genocide then, however superficially satisfactory it might appear at first sight, it is necessary to re-found it on a sounder, more ethical basis. And the architects and subsequent owner-managers will, of course, be the intelligentsia; for only they are qualified.

Now Australia is a country that in general, until recently at any rate, has not cherished its intellectuals. It has not accorded them the respect to which they think they are naturally entitled. Indeed, until a couple of decades ago it was common practice for Australian intellectuals to flee their country and live elsewhere, so strong was the anti-intellectual atmosphere of their county. Australia was not a lucky country as far as intellectuals were concerned.

That has changed quite a lot recently, but still intellectuals in Australia are not taken as seriously by the public as they take themselves. Besides, there are now more of them, and competition for attention is therefore greater. And there is nothing much more attention-grabbing than the claim that your current happiness and good fortunes is founded on a pile of bones. With a bit of luck, this claim will even turn people neurotic and increase the need for therapists.

It is hardly surprising, then, that when someone came along and challenged the version of history on which their new-found importance in society was to be based, they threw their dolly out of the pram, as the prison wardens in the prison in which I worked used to put it to describe the actions of a prisoner who had lost his temper. The dispute was not just a matter of the interpretation of the contents of old newspapers in Hobart libraries: it went to the very heart of the intelligentsia's self-conception as society's conscience and natural leaders.

A conflict over the veracity of footnotes was thus also a conflict also over the proper place of intellectuals in modern society. And Windschuttle was vastly more often right about the footnotes than he was wrong. This was quite unforgivable of him.


Britain: Cosseting bad for kids

Middle-class parents are raising a generation of 'spoilt brats' who are so cosseted that they struggle to cope in the workplace, psychologists have warned. A new breed of 'princesses' and 'little kings' cannot hold down jobs because they are so used to leaving household chores to their parents and throwing tantrums to get their own way. Experts believe a rise in child-centred parenting is to blame. Mothers and fathers are said to be lavishing expensive clothes and gadgets on their children both to keep up with the Joneses and ease their guilt at working long hours. But too much pampering is making many children bossy, demanding and nasty to classmates, experts warn.

The children's charity Kidscape yesterday lamented the rise of the 'brat bully' - a new breed of classroom monster who uses mobile phones and e-mail to subtly victimise other children.

Meanwhile, Professor Cary Cooper, head of psychology and health at Lancaster University, warned that cosseted home lives can leave children ill-equipped for life in the adult world. "Some young people have been so pampered they can't stick at a job when things get tough," he said. "They have no experience of knuckling down to household chores and pulling their weight, because their parents did everything for them." He added: "Working couples have very little disposable time for each other, or their children, so when the kids are younger they outsource them to nannies or childminders, and when they're older, they feel guilty and buy them off by indulging them and never asking anything in return. "By the time they're teenagers, kids see their peer group as their new family and have little loyalty to their parents."

According to the Association of Graduate Recruiters, employers find that many school-leavers are unwilling to perform menial tasks which they consider beneath them. Some also have little idea how to answer phones politely or treat colleagues with respect.

Michele Elliott, director of Kidscape, highlighted the emergence of middle-class 'brat bullies'. "Before, you could say bullies often came from dysfunctional families, were miserable themselves-and were acting out their anger on the people around them," she said. "But some of them now come from what you might call 'good homes' - they are well cared for and their parents love them. "The problem is these children increasingly think they have an entitlement to everything, and are almost like royalty - 'move out of the way, here comes the princess'. Boys as well can be 'little kings'."

Such children often victimise others through Internet chatrooms and text messages, said Mrs Elliott. "Their parents are often unaware of how their child is acting towards others," she added. "Or if they do, they may not care, taking the attitude 'she will get ahead in life because she's assertive'."

The warning came as ministers urged parents to do more to help their children with schoolwork. Research published yesterday by the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust concluded that parents can significantly improve grades and behaviour by 'supporting learning in the home'.


Campaign Finance Reform's War on Political Freedom

An ongoing danger, despite two recent court victories

In February 2006, Norm Feck learned that the city of Parker, Colorado was thinking about annexing his neighborhood, Parker North. Feck attended a meeting on the annexation, realized that it would mean more bureaucracy, and concluded that it wouldn't be in Parker North residents' interest. Together with five other Parker North locals, he wrote letters to the editor, handed out information sheets, formed an Internet discussion group, and printed up anti-annexation yard signs, which soon began sprouting throughout the neighborhood.

That's when annexation supporters took action-not with their own public campaign, but with a legal complaint against Feck and his friends for violating Colorado's campaign finance laws. The suit also threatened anyone who had contacted Feck's group about the annexation, or put up one of their yard signs, with "investigation, scrutinization, and sanctions for Campaign Finance violations." Apparently the anti-annexation activists hadn't registered with the state, or filled out the required paperwork disclosing their expenditures on time. Steep fines, increasing on a daily basis, were possible. The case remains in litigation.

Should Americans care about what's happening in Parker North? They certainly don't seem to. A LexisNexis search finds just three stories, all in Colorado papers, that mention the dispute. That's it: no commentary by columnists, no national network reports, not even coverage by a single major blogger on this application of campaign finance law to the most basic community political activity. The lack of interest is in a way understandable, since campaign finance reform, whether on the state or federal level, is at once forbiddingly complex and seemingly irrelevant to most citizens' lives. People tend to see reform as affecting only the powerful-lobbyists, big corporations, "fat cats"-not ordinary Joes. With some notable exceptions, even conservatives, who overwhelmingly believe that the First Amendment protects one's right to spend money on a candidate, don't pay much attention.

But as Norm Feck's story shows, that's a riskily blase attitude. Campaign finance reform is creating an intrusive regulatory regime that's steadily eroding Americans' political freedoms. Making matters worse, it does little or nothing to combat corruption. Its proponents, mostly on the left, have chiefly used it to bolster their own political fortunes and to undermine limited, constitutional government....

The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), which Congress passed in 1971 (and amended three years later), would, Democrats hoped, strike at the heart of Republican political power-while leaving untouched their own sources of influence, such as union-organized volunteers. The law tightly limited both political contributions and any expenditure that might "influence" an election. It also mandated disclosure of political contributions as small as $10, established a system in which taxes financed part of presidential races, and set up a bureaucracy, the Federal Election Commission (FEC), to enforce the new rules. In Buckley v. Valeo (1976), the Supreme Court struck down the expenditure limits on First Amendment grounds, and held that the disclosure requirements, as well as limits on contributions to non-candidate political organizations (the National Rifle Association, say), would apply only when the group receiving the donations "explicitly advocated" the election or defeat of a candidate, through such phrases as "vote for Smith." Still, even as truncated by the Court, the new law left American politics more heavily regulated than at any time in history.

Congressional Democrats also drove the next major extension of campaign-finance regulations, the 2002 McCain-Feingold law-though of course one of the bill's cosponsors, Arizona senator John McCain, was a prominent, if unconventional, Republican. McCain-Feingold banned a kind of fund-raising in which the GOP had a growing advantage: "soft money" contributions to political parties that could fund party building and political-issue ads stopping short of express advocacy. It also restricted the ability of incorporated organizations-like the NRA-to broadcast ads that so much as named a candidate within 60 days of an election, and it raised the limit on direct, "hard money" donations to candidates. Democrats were by now a Congressional minority. But enough endangered Republicans-hating the ads that targeted them-joined the Dems and McCain to get the bill passed.

The extent of the regulatory web now in place is evident even when advocates of free speech score an occasional victory. In June, the Supreme Court, by a narrow 5-4 margin, held in Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life that the government may not prevent citizens' organizations from broadcasting ads that discuss pending legislative issues within 60 days of an election. The decision usefully prunes back one tentacle of the McCain-Feingold law. But the bulk of over 400 pages of FEC regulations remains intact. The opinion has no effect on the law under which Norm Feck faces prosecution, or the regulations that frustrate other Norm Fecks across the country.

Campaign finance reform neatly accomplishes Democrats' goal of muffling political speech on the Right. Reformers seldom state that goal explicitly, of course; instead, they claim that reform gets rid of the political corruption that supposedly follows from large campaign contributions. Yet study after study shows that contributions play little or no role in how politicians vote. One of the most comprehensive, conducted by a group of MIT scholars in 2004, concluded that "indicators of party, ideology and district preferences account for most of the systematic variation in legislators' roll call voting behavior." The studies comport with common sense. Most politicians enter the public arena because they hold strong beliefs on public policy. Truly corrupt pols-the Duke Cunninghams of the world-want illegal bribes, not campaign donations...

Then there's the press-and who would deny that it has great political influence? Nevertheless, campaign finance reform leaves it unregulated thus far. More than that: as restrictions on private campaign spending grow, the free coverage that politicians get from the press becomes more and more important. And that coverage, especially coverage by the national press corps, regularly demonstrates a leftward bias, as many studies have shown. During the 2004 presidential race, the press didn't remind Americans about John Kerry's harsh criticisms of his fellow soldiers in Vietnam, or pose questions about the nature of his military service; neither did it dwell on President Bush's strong post-9/11 leadership. Those tasks, it's worth noting, were left to two conservative political organizations, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and Progress for America, whose highly effective campaign ads engaged in the kind of political speech that campaign finance reform chokes.

Which sources of influence are regulated and which are not is a choice deeply entangled with tacit assumptions about who benefits from each of those sources. Despite their noble-sounding claims, reformers aren't really trying to equalize political influence: in fact, they're doing exactly the opposite, regulating only those sources of influence that they disagree with.

Democrats don't back campaign finance reform strictly for partisan reasons. They also like it for ideological reasons, realizing that private campaign funding is a major obstacle to regulating the private sector and to expanding government. The writings of J. Skelly Wright, one of the Seventies' most prominent reform advocates, are among the clearest expressions of the ideological values underlying campaign finance reform. As a federal appellate judge, Wright upheld all of FECA's provisions, including spending limits, only to have Buckley reverse him. After that defeat Wright continued to back campaign finance reform, arguing (incoherently) that it was politically "neutral" but also necessary if Congress was to enact a host of liberal policy goals: increased regulation of auto dealerships, a "windfall profits" tax on oil companies, hospital price controls, creation of a superfund for victims of toxic chemicals, and "any other legislation that affects powerful, organized interests." ....

The same pro-regulation mindset occupied the reform advocates who, in early 2007, sought to include in Congress's lobbying reform bill a provision that would heavily regulate "grassroots lobbying"-that is, corporate appeals to citizens to voice their opinions on particular issues to members of Congress. (The classic example: the "Harry and Louise" ad that helped torpedo Hillarycare back in 1993.) The Senate stripped the anti-grassroots-lobbying provision from the bill, to the dismay of Meredith McGehee, policy director of the pro-reform Campaign Legal Center, who decried the practice of "Astroturf lobbying." Apparently when productive businesses, worried about excessive government regulation, try to get voters on their side, that's Astroturf lobbying-fake and unworthy of protection. But when a foundation-funded organization with no public accountability, such as the Campaign Legal Center, speaks out in Washington, well, those are the authentic grassroots.

Campaign finance regulation, far from improving our democratic processes, has already begun to undermine them in a number of ways. One is the way that it entrenches incumbents in office. Dissenting in McConnell v. FEC, the case that upheld the constitutionality of McCain-Feingold, Justice Antonin Scalia went to the core of the issue: "Is it accidental, do you think, that incumbents raise about three times as much `hard money'-the sort of funding generally not restricted by this legislation-as do their challengers?" he scoffed. Scalia also pointed out that McCain-Feingold allowed higher contributions to candidates running against self-financed millionaires-who tend to be incumbents, since self-financed millionaires are usually mavericks challenging established politicians. Moreover, McCain-Feingold severely limited funding for national parties-which, Scalia wrote, are "more likely to assist cash-strapped challengers than flush-with-hard-money incumbents." "Those who have power will create election rules that maximize the likelihood that they will win reelection," the Cato Institute's Samples says. "Campaign finance laws might be, in other words, a form of corruption."

A still more insidious problem than incumbents' self-dealing is the way that campaign finance regulation discourages true grassroots political activity. Longtime Washington campaign finance attorney Jan Baran jokes that McCain-Feingold's official acronym, "BCRA," stands not for "Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act" but for "Before Campaigning, Retain Attorney." Samples adds, more seriously: "Today no one should exercise his First Amendment rights without advice from counsel, preferably one schooled in the intricacies of campaign finance regulation."

Consider two examples. During the 2000 presidential race, four men placed a homemade sign, reading VOTE REPUBLICAN: NOT AL GORE SOCIALISM, on a cotton trailer along a Texas highway. The FEC spent nearly 18 months investigating the incident, because the sign lacked the legally required information about who had paid for it. And in 2004, NASCAR driver Kirk Shelmerdine spent $50 to affix a BUSH-CHENEY '04 decal to an unsold spot on his car's advertising space. The FEC admonished him for making an unreported campaign expenditure. Such cases are not merely examples of bureaucratic excess, points out campaign finance lawyer Bob Bauer, a lonely anti-reform voice in Democratic circles: under today's intrusive laws, Shelmerdine's activities ought to have set off an FEC inquiry.

Nor are such cases rare. While serving on the FEC from 2000 to 2005, I kept a file of letters from political amateurs caught in the maw of campaign finance laws. Many of these people had no lawyers; none had the least intent to corrupt any officeholder; all thought that they were fulfilling their civic duty by their involvement in campaigns.....

Though they claim to speak for average citizens, reformers don't care much about the way their reforms hurt those citizens. Trevor Potter, president of the Campaign Legal Center and a McCain adviser, has dismissed complaints by arguing that campaign-finance laws are no more complex than antitrust or patent laws. "They are worth the inconvenience and lawyers' fees they generate," says Potter-who also heads the campaign finance practice at the upscale law firm of Caplin & Drysdale, where partner billing rates can range upward of $750 per hour.

Despite the labyrinthine complexity of campaign finance law, the reform community is busily expanding regulation even further. For example, the FEC's regulations implementing McCain-Feingold specifically exempted much Web activity from regulation. So the law's lead House sponsors, Democrat Marty Meehan of Massachusetts and Republican Chris Shays of Connecticut, sued successfully in federal court to force the FEC to regulate more Web activity, and then defeated a congressional effort to codify an Internet exemption to the law. The ensuing FEC rules took a light hand, but the troubling fact remains that individual online activity is now subject to regulation.

Much 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.


10 July, 2007

See No Muslims: The NY Times Ignores the Obvious

It's those wicked Hindus, I tell you!

In what must have come as a shock to its readers, the New York Times reported that the July 7, 2005 terrorist attacks in London brought "home to Britain fears of homegrown terrorist attacks among its disenfranchised South Asian population." Imagine the surprise of many to learn that Britain is now under attack from "disenfranchised South Asian" people, not those who murder in the name of their Islamic faith.

Cruelly ironic is that in the course of attempting to avoid offending Muslims, the Times managed to defame two larger groups of people-all in a single sentence. And that's setting aside the fact that the deadliest 7/7 bomber was not even "South Asian." Germaine Maurice Lindsay, who changed his name to Abdullah Shaheed Jamal after converting to Islam at age 15, moved to the UK from Jamaica.

A plain reading of the silly Times sentence would suggest that the British discussions of terrorism for the past two years have revolved, in large part, around fears of Indian Hindus, the single largest South Asian demographic in the United Kingdom. (According to the last UK census, immigrants who trace their ancestry to India, over 80% of whom are Hindu, are the only population of South Asian descendants topping one million in the country.)

Presumably, the Times was seeking a gentle way of pointing the finger at ethnic Pakistani Muslims, or perhaps even Muslims hailing from Bangladesh. But the self-proclaimed "paper of record" couldn't bring itself to write anything more specific than "South Asian population."

Perhaps the Times assumed that its sophisticated readers would read between the lines, just sort of figuring out that reporters Alan Cowell and Raymond Bonner were really talking about Muslims, but couldn't write as much out of politeness. In a 1,600 word story about homegrown terrorism inside the UK, it took roughly 1,400 words before Cowell and Bonner mentioned "Muslims." "Islam" is nowhere to be found.

But the Times's absurd rhetorical acrobatics insulted not only the broad "South Asian" population, but also Britain itself. Notice the clever phrasing about the object of Brits' fears: the "disenfranchised South Asian population." Disenfranchised is a victims' tag that mostly sullies the aggressors who have committed the disenfranchising, in this case implying that Britain has "deprived" this population group "of the rights of citizenship."

Brits have done no such thing. Remember that Muslims, er, "South Asians," have long been welcomed into British society, from employment through politics. 7/7 bomber Mohammad Sidique Khan, for example, used to work for Britain's Department of Trade and Industry.

To the extent that Muslims live and function outside of British society, it is largely by choice. British imams, for example, have told their followers not to contribute to the "infidel" economy and instead suck off its government by collecting welfare checks. And no one who's seen the photos needs reminding of the outrageous British Muslim protests calling for the blood of Islam's critics.

Perhaps the Times feels no remorse insulting large groups that the paper doesn't consider to be minorities. And perhaps the Times finds no shame in ignoring the religion of people hellbent on murdering in the name of that religion. But is the Times even slightly concerned when the paper's sensibilities trump the facts?


Call it like it is

Q: Who is winning the really important war of ideas - the one between the West and itself?

A: Not the side that understands jihad as a foundational Islamic institution.

This is nothing new. From September 11 onward, the yeoman effort of elites has been to wrench "Islam" away from all acts of jihad. But now, particularly after the London and Glasgow attacks, their efforts have achieved a deeper level of denial, and, worse, broader consensus.

The new British prime minister, Gordon Brown, has directed ministers to omit "Muslim" when discussing (Muslim) terrorism. And forget the generic "war on terror"; even that pathetic phrase is off limits. (This has absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Brown's unctuously stated goal to make Britain "the gateway for Islamic finance.") The new Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith (love that "i" ending) refers to British Muslims as "communities" - maybe a prelude to not mentioning them at all. Both have done the "perversion of a great faith" dance to enlightened applause, taking cues from the unpublished "EU Lexicon," which reportedly nixes such "offensive" phrases as "Islamic terrorism."

British literary lions couldn't agree more. Philosopher John Gray and historian Eric Hobsbawm recently said on British television that even the word "Islamist" was "unfair" because "it implied a strong link to Islam." Never mind the link is doctrinally accurate. Better to accommodate mortal threat without identifying its Islamic roots. Instead of defending their nations - for starters, stopping Islamic immigration and, with it, the progression of Islamic law into Western societies - our elites have decided to pretend Islam isn't there at all.

In the media, the effort is misleading to the point of farce. Joel Mowbray, writing at the Powerline blog, noted that the New York Times has identified Britain's Muslim terrorists as "South Asian people" - which, considering Britain's largest South Asian population is Hindu, is beyond absurd. "Diverse group allegedly in British plot," the Associated Press reported, missing that unifying Islamic thread. "All 8 detainees have ties to health service," wrote the Toronto Star, "but genesis of terror scheme still eludes investigators."

If they read Robert Spencer's jihadwatch.org, the essential daily compendium of jihad and dhimmi news, they might get a clue. But, very ominously, Mr. Spencer's Web site is being blocked by assorted organizations which, according to his readers, continue to provide access to assorted pro-jihad sites. Mr. Spencer reports he's "never received word of so many organizations banning this site all at once." These include the City of Chicago, Bank of America, Fidelity Investments, GE IT, JPMorgan Chase, Defense Finance and Accounting Services and now, a federal employee in Dallas informs him, the federal government.

Reason given? Some Internet providers deem the factually based, meticulous analysis on display at jihadwatch.org to be "hate speech." This should send Orwellian shivers up society's spine, but, alarmingly, such reactions to jihad analysis are increasingly the norm.

Case in point: Objecting to a recent column characterizing his views as being non-comprehending or indifferent to jihad, Lt. Col. David Kilcullen, senior counterinsurgency adviser to our forces in Iraq, wondered in an e-mail whether I "may not like Muslims, and that's your choice." It was a long e-mail - one of several - but even these few words convey the viewpoint, increasingly prevalent, that discounts the doctrinal centrality of Islam to jihad violence convulsing the world, from Iraq to London. In the mental no-jihad zone (and, in Lt. Col. Kilcullen's case, despite what he calls his "significant personal body count of terrorists and insurgents killed or captured"), only personal animus can explain alarm over the Islamic institution of jihad (let alone dhimmitude). "Alternatively," he wrote, "you may think Islam contains illiberal and dangerous tendencies."

I may think? I do think "tendencies" such as jihad and dhimmitude. "Again," he said, "you're entitled to that view." "That view" is increasingly absent at the top, where Islam itself is politically and strategically beside the point. Consider current military thought, as expressed by Lt. Col. Kilcullen: Typical terrorists, he wrote, are "driven by fundamentally non-religious motivational factors." I wonder which non-religious motivational factors inspired Glasgow's terror-docs to scream "Allah, Allah" while ramming a flaming car into the airport.

Of course, it gets worse. Debate now divides the Pentagon over a new lexicon for Centcom. At stake is the Islamic term "jihad" itself, which could become officially verboten within the ranks of the fighting force that is actually supposed to defeat it. This might leave us speechless, but it better not shut us up.


British Islam: We are up against 20 years of preparation

In July 1989 I had an experience that scared and alienated me, but also made me realise who I was and, more importantly, who I was not - and would never be. I was 18 and in my first year at Brighton University, where I was studying for a BA in Humanities. I was meeting new people - people of different religions, cultures, ages, sexual orientation, experiences and interests. I was growing up, realising for the first time that there was a world other than the one my parents talked about constantly - the world of Long Eaton (where I lived) and Pakistan. I was discovering that I had a lot more in common with British non-Muslims than I had hitherto realised.

That summer two relatives of my mum's - girls of my own age - came to stay with us, as they had done often in the past. Like me, they were in their first year at university, but they had changed completely. To my horror, the girls I'd known so well - who were fun, happy, easy-going - arrived at our house wearing hijabs. I'd never seen them dressed like that before, and it was totally alien to me - and to my family and to mainstream Pakistani culture. The two girls I'd know for years, who used to talk about boys, clothes, fashion, music and films, were now wearing Middle Eastern outfits and claiming that this was their new religious identity and it was the true way to dress for any woman claiming to be Muslim.

They told me that they had joined an Islamic group at their university and that there would be daily lectures about Islam. They said that most of these lecturers were from the Middle East. Their key message was that they had to create an Islamic State, which meant that Muslims from all over the world had to unite. These people believed - and believe - that there is no Islamic state and therefore one must be created where all Muslims can live according to the true laws of Islam.

One of girls told me that the ways her parents had brought her up as a Muslim was not the true way and that her parents were misguided and she was trying to educate them through what she had learnt from her Islamic group at university. `People like you, Saira, are not Muslims because you are confused with religion and culture,' she said. `There is no culture, there is only religion, and until you accept that you cannot call yourself a Muslim.' She went on to state, `We are not British, we are Muslim.'

My two former companions were extremely well-rehearsed in presenting their arguments. To support a certain line of debate they would recite chapter and verse from the Koran. It's impossible to argue with someone whose get-out clause is always, `It is written in the Koran. We can't argue with God's Word.' The sad thing was that these girls had worked so hard to get to university to study medicine and enable themselves to get a great job. Their mother was just as shocked as I was at their transformation, and at the way they spoke and despised Britain so much. As she put it, `I sent them to university to study and become doctors and they've come back telling me that I'm not a proper Muslim and that I need to wear a hijab.' Back then, however, nobody really seemed to take much notice of this very obvious transformation and change in attitude in these two young women.

My point here is not to say that women who wear the hijab are extremists - far less that they will at some stage be involved in some terrorist activity - but to suggest that this is how, in many cases, extremism starts.

It dawned on me after the 7/7 bombings that the seeds of extremism were sown all over Great Britain well before 1989 and that indeed it had been allowed to flourish undeterred in this country for more than 20 years. We in Britain are not fighting a new phenomenon that raised it ugly head in 2005; we are fighting more than 20 years of planning and preparation by those who want Britain to be an Islamic state.

Of course, most British Muslims won't become violent extremists, but most will endanger society - albeit unwittingly - by supporting and condoning the actions of extremists. Very few will admit this in public, but many will say behind closed doors that they are sympathetic to the bombers' cause and that they can understand why they are doing it. These things are said in front of young children and justified by various conspiracy theories which nearly always involve Jews, America and the CIA.

But it is not all doom and gloom. In last weekend's Observer Hassan Butt, once a member of the radical group Al-Muhajiroun, wrote a very open and honest account of his experience. He said: `I believe that the issue of terrorism can be easily demystified if Muslims and non-Muslims start openly to discuss the ideas that fuel terrorism. (The Muslim community in Britain must slap itself awake from this state of denial and realise that there is no shame in admitting the extremism within our families, communities and worldwide co-religionists.)'

It is people like Hassan Butt that the government must engage with and give priority to, because they can make a difference; it is they who should be heard over the Muslim Council of Britain and many of the Muslim MPs who think they know the community and who in my opinion are too scared to tell the whole truth in case they lose Muslim votes.

There are too few moderate voices among the Muslim community. As a result, the extremists have their say, and are not opposed. This gives the non-Muslim population the impression that all Muslims are either extremists or agree with radical Islamic principles.

The war against terror cannot be won without moderate Muslims coming out and standing up for British values - the values of integration and living peacefully in a secular society. We should not be scared to shout this out, loud and proud: we should not be intimidated by a few hotheads into thinking we are any less Muslim if we say we are British and don't want to go around blowing up innocent people in the name of Allah. British Muslims have to realise that there is no `but' after a sentence like, `I wholeheartedly disagree with the terrorist actions and the killings of innocent civilians.'


Flagging Britain

Post lifted from Prof. Brignell. See the original for links. Prof. Brignell is referring to the fact that new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has ordered that the Union Jack will fly above his official residence: No. 10 Downing St. in London

Britain's new Prime Minister is wrapping himself in a piece of coloured cloth in order to cover up a couple of rather ugly embarrassments. The cloth in question is the union flag, which was once pronounced anathema in the heady early days of the New Labour project. As in almost everything else New Labour purported to stand for, the movement has completed an about turn.

Embarrassment number one is the festering sore in the flank of the union arising from the insouciant Mr Blair's quick fix in creating the Scottish Parliament, completely ignoring the infamous West Lothian Question that had so exercised finer minds. Now that we have a Scottish Prime Minister, absurdities pile upon absurdities. The PM's own constituents (in common with those of another party leader in the adjoining Fife constituency) have privileges that are forbidden to the English, such as free drugs for cancer and dementia, free university education and guaranteed small school class sizes. Furthermore, these privileges are funded out of a massive subsidy to Scots, paid out of English taxes according to the historical Barnett Formula (which, incidentally is now repudiated by its eponymous author). Even worse, Scottish MPs, like the PM, are entitled to vote on matters that only affect the English, such as those proscriptions, whereas the reciprocal relationship does not apply.

Embarrassment number two is that the Prime Minister has declared his intention of reneging on the manifesto promise for a referendum on the question of a new European Constitution. Blair, as his final act of treachery, signed up to a new drastic transfer of powers. All over Europe it is acknowledged that the new treaty is the old constitution in almost all except name. Only in Britain is the fiction maintained that it is not a constitution. That bit of coloured cloth, which is now to fly above all official buildings, is about to become virtually meaningless. In reality it should be replaced by the flag of the other union, and perhaps soon will be. Comparisons with that other great democratic union in North America are spurious. The EU is an undemocratic oligarchy, corrupt and riddled with fraud. Would you invest in a business that has never had its accounts passed by its auditors? If only Britain had an opposition!


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 July, 2007


Environmentalism, free trade and globalization don't bring people or nations together. There is only one cause that unites people and nations, today. That cause is anti-Americanism.

The dislike or hatred of America and Americans is an obsession that unifies most people on the planet. That hatred crosses race, gender and even age barriers. It is an activity that reaches almost sexual like pleasures among those that engage in it. America is the root all evils- past, present and future. It is hard for those who have such great hatred for America to opine on which gave them greater pleasure- the people who jumped to their deaths from the World Trade Center, or those who burned to death. Ward Churchill, never made that clear to his cheering audiences. Perhaps the question was too difficult to answer. Those who blame George Bush for the all the ills of the world never make that clear. As Dr Sanity points out,

The chant, "Bush Lied, People Died" would be revised to, "3000 People Died on 9/11 before Bush Said Anything" . The former has the advantage of rhyming, but the latter is closer to truth in advertising. And, that is exactly why the people chanting the former cutesy phrase are so indignant and scream ragefully like stuck pigs about "cynical manipulation" when images of 9/11 are shown; or even when that horrible day is mentioned. They know all about it. The "cynical manipulation" they are referring to is entirely a product of their own minds

Pesky truths! Ironic as it is, the French and Germans feel compelled to lecture America on militarism. Given that US military intervention is usually at the request of and as a result of European military and adventurism of all other varieties, that charge is laughable and accepted only as fact by the `useful idiots.'

In fact, anti-Americanism has evolved from the minor religion of has-been Marxists, professional victims, Islamo-fascists and Third World tinpot dictators playing to the cameras, into what can best be described as new found religious status, elevated to unimaginable heights. Che Gueverra, Uday and Qusei Hussein, Mao, and Ho Chi Minh are a few of the new saints (Castro will be canonized immediately upon death) with the Rosenbergs, Uday and Qusay Hussein, to name a few, are the angels over our shoulders, all blessed and ordained by Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky and the religious orders of MoveOn and TruthOut.

The objective of the new religion is to put the US into the worst possible light- and ignore those things that the US does well. The MSM had virtually nothing to say when US soldiers were brutally murdered along with Iraqi children, as the soldiers were passing out gifts. In fact, the story was almost immediately forgotten. Contrast that with pretend Quran desecration story, that went on for weeks. America is the hell and Mr Bush is the devil in this new religion. Of course, there can be no heaven or God- anti American ideology of the left precludes the need for a deity. Of course, if you are an anti- American Islamofascist, you can impose your beliefs at will.

What the anti American religion offers it's millions, if not billions, of adherents, is the same as any other faith- meaning. Of course it is really no more than an illusion, a mirage, to mitigate an otherwise useless existence (When anti-Americanism is the focus of your life, that life is indeed meaningless). What the anti-American religion would have you believe is that no matter how hypocritical, backward, bigoted, ignorant, corrupt, evil, murderous or cruel you or the regime you pledge allegiance to, you are better than the disgusting Americans.

The new religion of the left, anti-Americanism, was founded for one reason and one reason only: to counter the incoming high tide of truth. Revolutions today aren't about Marxist or socialist agendas. They are about free societies, capitalism and market economies. That is what people want, from Africa to South America to Eastern Europe. The war of ideas is over and the socialist agenda has been soundly defeated on every front. Even Hugo Chavez, will be soon forgotten. The high tides of freedoms and the aspirations of free men can no more held be back than the high tides of the oceans.

Even the political 'successes' of the left, under close examination, are debatable. Was opposition to the Vietnam War a success? The war was entered into by a liberal President, John F Kennedy, in response to a French plea for help. That war against communism was expanded many fold by Lyndon Johnson, who - rightly wanting to bring freedom to an oppressed people. The war ended- and hundreds of thousands were killed in communist re-education camps. The liberal voices usually neglect to recall those truths.

Are there liberal voices today, demanding freedom for oppressed peoples? Of course not. The despots and totalitarian regimes found all over the world are reflective of what passes for liberal ideology. If John Kennedy remarked today, `Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for country,' his call would be answered by those wishing to destroy many of the most important values of this country- that freedom was to be shared by all.

The Iraqis suffered under years of UN sanctions, put in place because Saddam was an evil butcher who used WMD's on numerous occasions as a highlight to his already murderous regime. He refused to submit to international authorities looking to curtail his murderous adventures. In those 12 years of sanctions, the Oil for Food debacle provided Saddam with billions and left even more Iraqis dead, as he purposefully kept food and medicine from being distributed.

The left only cared about the Iraqis when military action, spearheaded by the US, became an inevitability. When it was America that wanted to alleviate Iraqi suffering, it was America that was evil. Only American bombing were responsible for the death of Iraqis. Saddam was to join the ranks of the saints, in the new left religion. Bloody hands were to be no impediment to the anointing.

The American government are often accused of ignoring their critics, never giving them the hearing they demand. In fact, that is opposite of reality. Critics of American policy are given a hearing everyday, in the press, on the streets and even in Congress. What those critics can't abide is not being agreed with. They cannot conceive of anyone having an opinion that is different from their own. To differ is to become illegitimate. When Mr Bush won his second term, that truth became apparent. His opponents could blame the Supreme Court or the State of Florida for the loss of the 2000 election. They cannot abide the incontrovertible results of the 2004 elections. Cries of `foul!' quickly subsided as where the evidence of voter fraud occurred. Voter fraud it seems, is only objectionable under certain conditions.

The religion of the left is as bereft of ideas as it is of political gravitas. The sloganeering of `No to Terror! No to War!' is as relevant as saying `No to Cancer! No to Radiation!' Terror cannot be addressed with conversation any more than cancer can be cured by sitting in the yoga lotus position. Terror and cancer must be addressed head on and aggressively. To believe otherwise is to delude oneself. The simple fact is, we cannot all just get `along.' In fact, we do not want to get along with those whose ideas are and beliefs are so different than our own.

Do you share the same agenda as Hollywood? Do you want to see your children influences by ideals and behaviors that are different from your own? Of course not. While each of us are free to express ourselves in anyway we wish, we do not have to make room in our beds for those whose beliefs differ from our own. The right does not have to countenance Michael Moore any more than the left will tolerate George Bush. That's the way it is.

The obfuscation continues, with the left indicting America as self absorbed or materialistic. In fact, the most self absorbed and materialistic regimes are those in Africa or the Arab world, where corruption and deceit are the defining adjectives of those regimes. That greed, corruption and self serving attitudes rival religion in their tenacious expressions by citizens of all strata in those countries.

As to materialism, in fact, there is no more generous nation on earth than the United States. In fact, what makes the America great is not it's generous foreign aid, but in the aid and charity given by it's citizens. While France and Germany were eager to highlight their post Katrina aid- for which we are thankful- it is curious to note that the bulk of that aid was given by those governments. There is very little indication that French and German private citizens, reached into their own pockets. Contrast that with the behavior and contributions of American citizens, helping out in Indonesia, Pakistan, Darfur and a host of other countries, all donated in addition to government aid. So much for the selfish American!

Another mischaracterization is the charge by the left that Americans are simplistic. They pointed to Ronald Reagan referring to the Soviet Union as the `Evil Empire' as evidence of American shallowness. Well with the passage of time, no one is yet claiming the Soviet Union as the `Gentle and Kind Empire'- certainly not the Eastern bloc nations that suffered behind the iron curtain. In fact, the real display of half baked silliness is by the left themselves, insisting that a make believe socialist agenda is reason enough to forgive any despotic regime, no matter how bloody and murderous. That remains the legacy of the left- the support for regimes that have failed. In fact, the left has supported every `ism' that has failed.

The only agenda they have refused to endorse is the only that has succeeded and the one agenda that is gaining ground- capitalism. As we noted earlier, the revolutions today are not for socialism, but rather, for political and economic freedoms.

In a world where the left falls in lockstep with with dictators wherever they pop up, it is curious how only the democratic US is described as fascist, another idea propagated by the idiot brigade. It bears remembering that the most murderous of ideologies came about in Europe and for the most part, it was European colonialism that left former empires in shambles, led by a secession of leftist loving murderous tyrants.


VDH on "Fairness"

Democrats have discussed reinstating some sort of “fairness” doctrine aimed at regulating talk radio. They are furious that the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Bill Bennett, Michael Savage, and a host of other conservatives dominate the AM airwaves — while Air America, Jerry Brown, Jim Hightower, Mario Cuomo, and other liberals have failed utterly to carve out a comparable audience in the marketplace of ideas and entertainment.

Once again, liberal civil libertarians are not so liberal about free speech when it is a matter of the public not buying into their own progressive agendas. We should remember that the public is free to choose–and advertisers respond accordingly–about what they wish to hear. Apparently, whiny sermons by nasal-droning elites about the illiberal nature of the yokel middle class is exactly what most on their way to work do not wish to endure.

Of course, conservatives likewise lament the imbalance of left-leaning public radio and television, the major networks such as NBC and CBS, the predominantly liberal print media, universities, the entertainment industry, and foundations. But the difference is that for the most part they are not calling for the government to mandate “fairness” by empowering federal bureaucrats to curb the liberal biases of these institutions.

It is stereotypically easy to identify authoritarians who seek restrict civil liberties during war in the name of “national security.” But it is much harder to take on crusading special interest groups, district attorneys, court justices, and liberal Senators who ignore, twist, or subvert our constitutional freedoms under the liberal clarion call of helping minorities, stopping the war, or championing the underclass.

If we are to lose our civil liberties, it won’t be all of sudden due to Patriot-Act zealots in sunglasses and flattops, but rather insidiously and incrementally by egalitarian professors, moral crusaders, muckraking journalists, and government utopians all unhappy that constitutional justice is too little and too late for their ever impatient desire to ensure heaven on earth.


Violence by blacks was 'sanitised'

In the theory-addled heads of Leftists, Australian Aborigines were prime candidates for being the "noble savages" of Rousseauian myth. Only the Tasaday ever lived up to that myth -- and they were a hoax. Primitive people are in fact characteristically very violent -- and Australian Aborigines are great perpetrators of violence on one-another to this day

PUBLISHERS in the 1980s and 1990s sanitised Aboriginal history by censoring accounts of violence, including sexual abuse and infanticide. Award-winning historical author Susanna de Vries has revealed that her books on early colonial life, based on the memoirs of pioneer women, were allegedly toned down so as not to upset Aboriginal sensibilities. De Vries said the memoirs of one woman, Louisa Meredith, were allegedly censored by Queensland publishing house Michael White Publishers to remove references to infanticide, tribal warfare, and the rape and removal of women.

The memoirs of the first Aboriginal justice of the peace, Ella Simon, were similarly sanitised by Sydney publishers Millennium Books in the late 1990s so that a baby "stuffed head-first down a rabbit hole and left to die after it fell ill on walkabout" was allegedly edited to read "left under a tree to die". Both publishers have since gone out of business but de Vries's revelations have raised questions about how widespread the practice was at the time.

"We don't sanitise anti-Semitism and the Holocaust," said Louis Nowra, author of Bad Dreaming, which documents the use of Aboriginal customary law to legitimise sexual abuse and domestic violence against women and children.

De Vries has written about a dozen books on women in colonial times and was made a member of the Order of Australia for her services to literature. "This kind of benign censorship stemming from guilt over the stolen children question has hidden references to the abuse of part-Aboriginal and Aboriginal children in the past," she said. "Anything to do with the abuse of Aboriginal women and children by their fellow Aborigines has been censored out by editors keen not to offend and raise ghosts of the stolen children stories. Ignoring the other stories of the rape of Aboriginal girls by Aboriginal men; the killing of Aboriginal babies often by leaving them to die in the bush; and the neglect and abuse of Aboriginal and part-Aboriginal children have all been part of a taboo which is based on guilt."

Controversial historian Keith Windschuttle, who came to national prominence for questioning claims by other historians that Tasmanian Aborigines were massacred by white settlers, said the tendency to whitewash Aboriginal culture started in the 1970s. "People thought by flattering pre-modern Aboriginal culture you would assert esteem in Aboriginal culture and make Aboriginal people feel good about themselves," Mr Windschuttle said. "It also continued the belief that the problem with modern Aboriginal culture doesn't lie with Aborigines, it lies with white people instead of seeing that the problem in many ways lies with both."

Nowra said there was a tendency to view Aborigines as "noble savages", which denied part of Aboriginal culture, and overlooked the harsh environment in which they survived. "It was difficult to keep an abundant number of Aboriginal children alive; they were life-and-death decisions we don't have to face," Nowra said. He added that the "small-l" liberals who dominated the conversation always supported the male view of the world. "Aboriginal culture tends to be defined by the male culture ... the thing about customary law is that it always works in favour of men, never women," he said.

Historian Inga Clendinnen said censorship arose from a "very understandable tenderness and concern" towards the Aboriginal community. Australian Publishers Association chief executive officer Maree McCaskill said publishers now fought fiercely to protect their right to free speech and to publish without fear. Sandy Grant of Hardie Grant Books, who published Spycatcher, the memoirs of MI5 agent Peter Wright, said any publisher worth their salt would not censor their authors and that the fact these publishers were no longer in business was telling.


More deliberately distorted Australian history -- "Evil white men" created

Comment by Christopher Pearson

I BEGAN this column by talking about the way people expect the past to suck up to the present. In the June issue of The Monthly Robert Manne provides a particularly egregious example. He was reviewing Sven Lindqvist's book Terra Nullius: A Journey Through No One's Land. Although Manne displays some awareness of "characteristic flaws" in Lindqvist's approach, namely "hyperbolic exaggeration, historical oversimplification and inaccuracy, cavalier carelessness in the mounting of argument, fanciful self-indulgence", he nonetheless insists: "There is no Western society which more needs to hear a local version of the Lindqvist sermon than post-Windschuttle Australia."

Manne himself provides a neat illustration of the pitfalls of this don't-fuss-with-the-facts, get-with-the-moralising style of commentary with the following: "Although he has read extensively on Australia, it is fair criticism of Lindqvist that he has still not read enough to become truly familiar with the country. Because he has discovered in John Mulvaney's Encounters in Place that a massacre occurred at Moorundie, outside Adelaide, Lindqvist is astonished and indignant that no one he meets there seems to have heard anything about it. Lindqvist is unaware that virtually all the massacres that took place in Australia are unknown to the public."

The clear implication is that, along with South Australia's early settlers, people living in Adelaide and the public in general are so complacently ignorant and morally obtuse that they neither know nor care that a massacre of Aborigines took place on or near the stolen lands they occupy; hence the needfor a sermon from Lindqvist and indeed from Manne.

Anyone sufficiently concerned to consult Mulvaney's book for further detail will find no account of a massacre at Moorundie. Moorundie is about 120km northeast of Adelaide, just south of where the Sturt Highway crosses the Murray at Blanchetown. According to Mulvaney, a government outpost was established there in 1841 and operated until 1856. From October 1841 it was administered by Edward John Eyre, who was appointed "resident magistrate and protector of Aborigines" by governor George Grey. Eyre was concerned about violent clashes between settlers and Aborigines near Rufus River about 190km farther upstream near Wentworth in southwest NSW. Mulvaney tells us that "within a few weeks of his appointment, Eyre visited the disaffected Rufus country to conciliate and to urge that the white man wished to live with them on terms of amity".

He also says that "Grey and Eyre both wished to save lives on humanitarian grounds and were well intentioned ... Eyre was trusted because he treated Aborigines simply as human beings." Mulvaney's account leaves us in no doubt that Eyre, similar to Charles Sturt and John McLaren, who also recorded early encounters with Aborigines in regions around Adelaide, took great pains to avoid violence. There is ample evidence in their journals that Eyre and Sturt were gravely concerned about the rapid disintegration of Aboriginal society, in particular as a result of the virulence of introduced diseases, in the first decade after the settlement of South Australia.



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 July, 2007


The NHS is the nearest thing to a religion that the British now have. For half a century the British have convinced themselves that the NHS is the envy of the world. It is - for the third world. And it is the third world's doctors and nurses who keep alive this socialist cult of security from cradle to grave.

No politician dares to reform the NHS, which is still run by its white-coated medical priesthood. Even Margaret Thatcher, who was fearless with terrorists, quailed before the doctors and nurses. "The NHS is safe in our hands," she said. But the question has long been: are we safe in the NHS's hands?

Aneurin Bevan, the man who created this monster, explained how he had persuaded the senior doctors to submit to the state: "I stuffed their mouths with gold." But training our own doctors is expensive. Today, the agencies that supply the NHS with doctors recruit their staff throughout Africa and Asia. Many are Muslims and, inevitably, some of them are Islamists.

The origins of the eight suspects arrested so far are diverse - Iraq, Jordan, India, Saudi Arabia - but all spent time at NHS hospitals or medical schools. One of them, who drove a blazing Jeep into an airport terminal and set fire to himself, is now being treated for burns that cover 90% of his body in the same hospital that unsuspectingly employed him. If he survives, he will owe his life to his intended victims.

Anybody with medical qualifications has been able to enter Britain with few questions asked. Of the 277,000 doctors in the NHS, some 128,000 - that is nearly four out of 10 - were trained abroad. It was a loophole that should have been obvious, given Al Qaeda's declared strategy of recruiting highly educated professionals. The cell that launched last week's attacks is probably not the only one.

After a slow start, the security operation has moved quickly, using information gained from the cell phones that failed to detonate. The net was cast widely enough to catch one suspect in Australia just as he was about to fly to Pakistan. The only Anglican clergyman in Baghdad, Canon White, was apparently warned by an Al Qaeda operative: "He said the people who cure you would kill you."

What, though, has been the political response to this potentially devastating conspiracy - one of dozens that are believed to be active in Britain alone at any one time? Gordon Brown's new government has been eager to contrast itself with Tony Blair. To this end, it has excised three terms from the official vocabulary: "Muslim," "Islam," and "the war on terror." There is to be no mention of the wider context in which Al Qaeda and other Islamist terrorists operate. The new home secretary, Jacqui Smith, laid down the new doctrine: "Terrorists are criminals who come from all religious backgrounds." I am sure one or two are Quakers.

Compared to Mr. Blair, Mr. Brown looks like a man in manic denial. But his conservative opponent, David Cameron, is determined to out-deny him. First, he insisted that the word "Islamist" should be censored from political discourse. Then, after two Muslims were made junior ministers last week, Mr. Cameron promoted Sayeeda Warsi to be a member of his shadow cabinet, with the title of "community cohesion secretary." Having failed to be elected, she is to be ennobled and will sit in the House of Lords. Ms. Warsi is thus the most senior Muslim in British politics.

Yet Ms. Warsi turns out to hold views that are not only at odds with her party's, but also with any "community cohesion" except the Islamist kind. She not only opposed the Iraq war, but also welcomed the election of Hamas. She opposes anti-terror laws and rejects the idea that extremism is a problem for British Muslims: "When you say this is something that the Muslim community needs to weed out, or deal with, that is a very dangerous step to take." Mr. Cameron has taken a dangerous step by handing over his policy on Islam to a person who appears to be part of the problem.

"Don't mention the war" was the catchphrase of the manic hotelier, Basil Fawlty, played by Monty Python actor, John Cleese, in the BBC comedy series "Fawlty Towers." While serving his German guests, he goose-stepped around the room. Now that the war in question is a holy war unleashed against Western civilization, the joke is on us. Jihad may be preached from British pulpits, but the word has gone out from Downing Street: "Whatever else you do, don't mention the war on terror."



Years ago, I had an office next to a guy named Don. He was the Network Administrator for the same company that employed me, and, like most network guys, he had a strong libertarian bent. It goes with the turf - a network administrator is like a yeoman smallholder, guarding his domain fiercely from cyber-intruders: "No one's gonna f**k with my network."

On any given question - gun control, affirmative action, political correctness, global warming, government spending - Don held what would commonly be known as the conservative position. I doubt he voted for Democrats very frequently, even though he viewed Republicans with an almost equal contempt. Yet Don took great pains to identify himself as a moderate. "I'm not a liberal, and I'm not a conservative," he told me. "I'm middle-of-the-road." I doubt the average Kerry supporter would have agreed with his self-identification, but that's the way he thought of himself. Why this desire to distance himself from the people he fundamentally agreed with? Why not identify himself with his natural allies?

There's a normal social urge not to be held in contempt by one's fellow humans. The fact that more people agreed with Don's positions than disagreed with them was not enough to save him from a nagging feeling that his opinions were beyond the pale. Everything he took in from the larger culture around him - the TV news, the pronouncements of government officials, the unctuously politically correct magazine advertisements placed by large corporations - told him that his natural tendencies were atavistic, hateful, and wrong. He couldn't bring himself to adopt a liberal stance, so the safest thing was to be "middle-of-the-road". No one could fault him for that. If you adopt a moderate stance, you won't be mistaken for a racist or a Nazi or a theocon. Nobody will call you a "right-wing extremist".

But have you ever noticed that liberals don't sweat being confused with Trotskyites, or Maoists, or Stalinists, or anarchists? It doesn't bother them particularly to be seen as further left than they are. From the point of view of the larger culture, they have nothing to lose by being mistaken for communists - after all, it only means that they get to bathe themselves in the hallowed red glow that surrounds Che Guevara and the other icons from The People's Sourcebook of Communist Saints.

All this goes to show who controls the national conversation. There are only two available positions: Left and Further Left. Anybody claiming middle-of-the-road status is well-advised to announce repeatedly, "Hey! At least I'm not a conservative."

There's another kind of "moderate" stance which is very much in vogue: the idea that the best course of action, not mention the truth, always lies somewhere between two extremes. This was brought to mind by a comment on one of my recent posts:

The major downside of blogs is they allow people to tune out any alternative opinion and hear only what they want to hear. This not only destroys communication, creating ever greater divides between groups, but it also serves as an echo chamber pushing people further and further to the right or left. I think this partially explains your growing paranoia. Political studies show that as people move further right or left, they become increasingly convinced that not only is the `other' party wrong, but also their own. Taken to the most extreme, you end up with groups like Daily Kos or truthers, willing to believe even the most ridiculous paranoid rants because it conforms to their pre-determined expectations.

This is the number one problem with the counterjihad in my mind. The conservative message is not `Islamic fundamentalism is a problem that must be stopped'. Instead, the conservative message is `Islamic fundamentalism is only a problem because of the liberal media, the left wing conspiracy to overthrow the west, and because our own leaders are really secretly working against us'. Meanwhile the liberal message which necessarily has to be the opposite of the conservative one is now `there is no terrorist threat, it was a huge plot by republicans, and any terrorism that occurs is orchestrated by the USA'. As a result, the messages are restricted to groups that are too small to effectively stop the jihad.

There are several false premises at work here. Our commenter's point is that there must be a "happy medium", a position somewhere in between the extreme liberal and extreme conservative positions. The middle-of-the-road approach of necessity reflects the well-reasoned, thoughtful, moderate, and dispassionate truth, and following it instead of the overheated extremes is bound to bring success. But is this necessarily true? Is the happy medium always the truest and most moral course to take?

Let's take some instructive examples from history. Consider the ancient controversy over the idea of a geocentric cosmos. At one extreme were the traditionalists who insisted that the Earth lay at the center of creation, and the sun, the moon, the planets, and the stars all revolved around it in a set of concentric crystalline spheres. At the other extreme were the radical proponents of the heliocentric universe, among them Aristarchus of Samos, Ptolemy, and Copernicus.

Did the truth lie somewhere between these two extremes? Was there a model of the universe which included some geocentric elements? Maybe we could tinker with the original theory and have the moon and the stars revolve around the Earth, while the planets could revolve around the sun.?

Or consider Communism. At one extreme were Lenin and Stalin, who believed that private property was an unmitigated evil, that the socialist state had the right and the duty to control all aspects of people's lives, and that the extermination of the bourgeoisie was a moral imperative. At the other extreme were capitalists, who believed in the sanctity of private property, the rule of law, the right of people to live free of interference by the state, and the value of private contracts to promote the general welfare.

Is there a happy medium between these two extremes? Is there an ideal way to construct a polity which includes elements from both sides? Maybe we could allow people to keep some of their property, but force them to surrender other parts of it. Maybe we should permit them to live free of government interference except when it's for their own good. Maybe we could eliminate the bourgeoisie by taxing away their prosperity, rather than by hauling them out of their beds in the dead of night and shooting them.

Actually, these prescriptions sound pretty much like life under the European Union today. And don't get complacent - we Americans are no more than a decade or two behind our comrades across the Atlantic.

For a final example, consider slavery as practiced in the antebellum South. At one extreme were the plantation owners, who believed that their Negroes were their property, just like their cattle and their chickens, and that they had a right to buy, sell, and abuse their property as they saw fit. At the other extreme were the Abolitionists, who thought that the slaves were human beings no different from white people, and that holding them in bondage was an unmitigated evil.

Was there a happy medium between these two extreme views? Did the best course lie somewhere in between them? Perhaps we could have forbidden the ownership of Negroes as property, without recognizing them as full human beings. Maybe they could have the right to hold some property, though not the same rights as white people. We could allow them to live autonomously, but not to vote, nor to share schools and other public institutions with white people. Wait a minute - haven't we heard this somewhere before? Do you really think it would be a good idea to try it again?

This is not to say that a successful political system never involves compromise. In order for our political structures to work, they must always allow for compromise. But sometimes one extreme or the other represents the truth. It's not always true that "both sides" have validity. The best course is not always the happy medium. We have to take the issues on a case-by-case basis. And sometimes we just have to grit our teeth and hold out for the "extreme" view because it is, well, right.

Another false premise presented by our commenter is that if we stopped "preaching to the converted", if we could somehow broaden our audience to include people who are not members of the VRWC, we could convince them of the rightness of our cause. It's been my experience that no matter how soberly and judiciously and reasonably I present an argument, I never convince anyone who isn't ready to be convinced. Not only will someone who actively holds an opposing position not be convinced, the more reasonable I am in my argument, the more angry and vitriolic will be his response.

Carefully-written argument is aimed at those whose opinions are not fully formed, people who may have an inchoate sense of the truth, but have not yet articulated it or even brought it into consciousness. Our goal as polemicists is to reach out to such people, to strive for an eloquence and cogency that makes them snap their fingers and say, "You know, he's right! I never quite thought of it that way, but what he says is absolutely true." I will never convince a liberal that my ideas are right. There's no point in trying.

But there are innumerable people out there whose minds have been fuddled by decades of one-sided MSM propaganda, people who know that there's something not quite right with all the PC nonsense that irradiates them every day from all the outlets of the popular culture. They're aware that there's something vaguely wrong with the way they feel. The culture has taught them how they're supposed to feel, but they can't quite manage to feel it. Our job is to reach out to them and deliver a message that is immediately recognizable to them as true.

It's hard to tell how many of them there are because they are separated from us and from each other by fifty years of liberal domination of the culture. The smothering blanket of political correctness has made their opinions doubleplus ungood, so much so that they will lie even to political pollsters about them. That's why it's so hard to determine how vast this untapped reservoir of public opinion is. We know it's out there, but how do we determine its extent?



Post lifted from Taranto. See the original for links

As inevitably happens when the U.S. Supreme Court closes its term by deciding a case involving racial discrimination, white liberals are scorning Clarence Thomas for failing to conform to their expectations of how a black man should think. Among them is Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman, last seen trivializing the Holocaust in the name of global warmism:

A special shout-out to Clarence Thomas, who may embark on his annual road trip in his 40-foot motor home knowing that he's accomplished one life goal. The justice is now talked about even less in terms of race--less as the profligate successor to Thurgood Marshall than as a certified member of the court's right wing. Color him conservative. . . .

Thomas's psyche still intrigues those who search for the biography in his opinions. We know Thomas as a man who benefited from the affirmative action he scorns. He attended Holy Cross with a scholarship established for blacks after the death of Martin Luther King Jr. He was accepted to Yale Law School, where a program committed 10 percent of the seats to minorities. . . .

I have no doubt that Thomas sees himself as the victim of racism and the "racism lite" experienced by many black professionals tagged as "affirmative action babies." He's kept the pile of rejection letters received after graduating from law school. At his searing confirmation hearings, he froze the senators in their tracks by consciously describing himself as the victim of a "high-tech lynching." He also knows that many people questioned his credentials for the Supreme Court.

Let's focus on one of Goodman's tropes: "We know Thomas as a man who benefited from the affirmative action he scorns." Goodman implies, and others among his critics have stated directly, that because Thomas (purportedly) "benefited from affirmative action"--that is, from racial discrimination in favor of blacks--he is morally obliged to favor such discrimination, and to hold it constitutional.

Ellen Goodman is a person of pallor, and her bio tells us that she finished college in 1963, the year before the Civil Rights Act became law. Thus she is old enough (sorry, Ellen) to have benefited from discrimination because she is white. Would anyone suggest that therefore she is morally obliged to support discrimination in favor of whites? Of course not.

In the white liberal's worldview, if a white past beneficiary of discrimination favors racial equality or even discrimination against whites, that is an act of atonement or principle. But if a black past beneficiary of discrimination favors equality, white liberals view him as a traitor to his race. To put it another way, white liberals expect blacks to act out of self-interest based on race, while they expect whites to act altruistically. They attack blacks like Thomas who rise above racial self-interest--and they do so in explicitly racial terms--while faulting whites who fail to do so.

This may be the most invidious racial view to remain respectable in 21st century America. The idea that whites are on a higher moral plane than blacks is a form of white supremacy; and the attacks on Thomas and other blacks who embrace equality and reject racial self-interest are an attempt to keep black people in their place.

White liberals often claim that racism is everywhere, "just beneath the surface." Given the intensity with which they target blacks who reject liberal orthodoxy on race, one suspects they are telling the truth--about themselves.


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 July, 2007

Fascism returning to Europe

But not under that name, of course

July Fourth is a good time to reflect on the still-astonishing difference between the form of government that was created on this continent two centuries ago, and the best efforts of our European cousins even today. Americans are constantly reminded not to overlook our own faults. Well, we don't. But lest we become sunk in obsessive self-flagellation, it is important to look at the very painful struggle Europe is engaged in today, trying to become something like a United States of Europe. Unfortunately, today's European efforts toward unity owe almost nothing to the American founders, and far more to Marx, Hegel, and Lenin.

To grasp Europe's pervasive sense of mourning and anomie today you have to understand that two dozen national identities are being systematically ground to dust by their own political elites. All those nation states are dying, or feel they are dying. When voters are consulted, they don't like it -- and as a result, voters are simply no longer consulted. Europe has given up on electoral democracy at the highest and most powerful levels.

A central EU government is now emerging, made up of centrally appointed commissions just like the "soviets" (councils) of the old USSR. The whole contraption evades normal democratic checks and balances, on the historically dangerous assumption that the elites can be trusted with centralized power without the consent of the governed. Deception and engrenage -- steady ratcheting up of centralized control -- are the essence of the new Europe of Soviet Socialist Republics. As former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky pointed out the other day, we are not seeing a United States of Europe arising today, but rather an EU-SSR.

The euro is an iconic symbol of Europe's elite strategy of deception. Physically, euros are attractive modern coins and bills. But they are pure, abstract symbols. Euros don't show real human faces or even real buildings.

"All euro banknotes have a common design for each denomination on both sides. ... The design for each of them has a common theme of European architecture in various artistic periods....Care has been taken so that the architectural examples do not represent any actual existing monument, so as not to induce jealousy and controversy in the choice of which monument should be depicted."

Queen Elizabeth's face appears on British pound notes, but euros are deliberately abstract promises of an imagined glory to come.

It is emblematic of the times. A few years ago, the prestigious Turner Prize in Britain went to a man who placed a white light bulb in a museum room, turning the bulb on and off with an electrical timer every few seconds. This was pure "concept art," untained by individuality or craftsmanship. Just space, without all the grubby business of human beings. The trendy London art establishment cheered, and the "artist" was awarded the Turner Prize.

That's the story of the euro. It's all very Franco-German, the Abstract State as Platonic Ideal. Hegel would have loved it, and Karl Marx, while Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill would have despised it, because the EU deliberately destroys the individuality of each citizen and nation. Modern Europe is equally expressed by Francois Mitterand's massive metal Cube -- a slick metal frame surrounding empty space.

(Mitterand was the Socialist President of France who also managed to be a Nazi during World War Two. Question: What do those two European imperialisms have in common? A desire to unite Europe under strong, central authority without all the fuss and bother of elections.)

The question that should be on everybody's mind is: Can this ruling class be trusted with untrammeled centralized control over half a billion people? They are certainly not our friends, these European elites, as they make abundantly clear at every opportunity. Nor do they have a track record of responsible foreign policy, witness Saddam's Oil for Food scam, which easily bought up French, Russian, and other elite figures, who thereupon easily swung the weight of Euro opinion against the United States. Today the Iranians are presumably buying just as many European politicians and bureaucrats today as Saddam ever did. As for the Saudis, with the deepest pockets in the world ... Well, with autocratic government like this, can we wonder any more at the spineless European response to terror attacks?

For the elites, the emerging EU-SSR is great, because rather than being a minor bureaucrat in London you get the chance to rule all of Europe, with bigger salaries, better food, and richer lobbyists, right across the Channel in the trendy new Euro-capital of Brussels. All you need is to make your regulations so complicated that nobody can understand them -- this is literally true -- and then you can decree the shape of Euro bananas and cherry tomatoes to your heart's content. You end up being the expert in your couple of pages of the 30,000 EU regulations that are flowing in an endless stream out of Brussels, and no one can navigate the resulting maze as well as you can.

This is government by hyper-complexity. It makes you King of the Hill on bananas and cherry tomatoes -- and very soon, with the European Arrest Warrant, you'll be able to arrest anyone anywhere for politically incorrect speech, criticizing homosexuals or Islamists, or starting a political blog without your permission. Certainly the news media will never figure you out, driven as they are by the need to make up scare headlines for tomorrow's frontpage.

Military and foreign policy control is now scheduled to switch to Brussels. The EU is no longer just absurd overregulation of tomatoes and bananas. The European Union is emerging as a classic imperial enterprise. The ghosts of Charlemagne, Napoleon, Hitler and Stalin are giving a standing O somewhere in the underworld.

If you are a British citizen, you know that tomorrow your country will only be a minor province of the European Empire. You don't even get a vote in the matter, because the elected parties have all sold out to the EU, and furthermore, you don't even care. Survey after survey shows that European voters are supinely watching their freedoms being sucked away, and are simply too bored or lazy to care. Forget the Queen, the Magna Carta, or the City of London in all its idiosyncratic profusion. Forget the rich and variegated past; even if you don't, your children will be taught to forget it through their identikit school curricula. They will be abstract "Europeans" --- not Brits, not Dutch, Irish or Czechs. You'll be a "Euro," stamped and flattened into uniform sizes, undifferentiated and complete interchangeable.

The planned drowning of national identities is now so pervasive that no one dares to question it. It has the momentum of the inevitable. It is the received wisdom of all the PC Commissars in all the organs of propaganda from the BBC to Deutsche Welle. In the UK, even the Tories have given up on Britain's national identity. Defending Britain is left to fringe parties, which are routinely smeared and cast into the outer darkness of electoral life.

Europe's rejection of its own past is a major reason for the rise of Islamofascism in cities like Amsterdam and London. If you grow up as a rowdy teenager in Birmingham, what worthwhile identity do you aspire to? Is it the dying nation-state, constantly ridiculed by the media and educational system? Is it your neighborhood gang? Or is it the Elect of Allah, guaranteed by your local imam to result in all the girls you can imagine and glorious martyrdom in Paradise, as soon as you blow yourself up on a subway train? The Nazis notoriously mobilized the alienated youth of Germany, the "rootless proletariat." Nazism and Communism were the militant faiths of the 20th century. Today they are being supplanted by an even older and more reactionary faith. You can fight one identity with another; but you can't fight a militant faith with nothing.

As a result of planned national euthenasia there is a pervasive feeling of mourning and loss throughout European countries. But nobody talks about it. In my experience it only showed up when some English friends got very angry with me after I tried to express my personal bafflement to them several years ago. I found myself saying exactly what they believed; but when I said it they became furious and agitated, and refused to talk any more. Months afterwards I figured out what happened. After all, it's one thing when you feel hopeless about your own country, but it's quite another thing when some visiting Yank says the same thing. I simply saw the spillover of their anger and despair.

Only zealous Europhiles feel good about giving up one's existence as a nation; but socialism and Political Correctness are now so pervasive in public that nobody can say what they really believe. Wall-to-wall elite propaganda has accomplished what a thousand years of European wars and treaties never did. Europe is being hammered and melded into an artificial unity.

This sense of doomed national identity puts a very different light on the anti-American neurosis that runs through the French, German and British media. When Europeans viciously criticize America for responding to the 9/11 assault, by trying to defeat Islamic terrorists and their hosts, they are acting out of a good deal of national envy. They hate what they cannot be, and because of PC indoctrination they aren't even allowed to say their thoughts out loud. So they rage at America for not being peaceful enough, when in reality they feel like helpless victims of their own self-imposed impotence.

The really weird thing, of course, is that Europe's planned mass dissolution is completely unnecessary. There is an obvious alternative, sometimes called "a Europe of homelands." The basic idea is what the American Founders called federalism --- local control over local affairs, along with Federal control over unavoidably national matters. Europe could retain all of its existing institutions, and simply adopt US-style Federalism --- if they could tolerate the idea of granting untrammeled freedom to individuals, regions and nations. In effect, they could simply adopt the 14 pages of the US constitution, substitute "European Union" for "United States of America" with a standard word processor, and dump their vast and incomprehensible EU Constitution, with all its grotesqueries, into a dumpster. They would be much better off as individuals and nations, with much more freedom and self-respect.

The euro is an ego currency, another way to try to manufacture a new identity. Europe doesn't really need a euro for economic reasons. All it needs are national currencies that are treated as a common currency basket. The euro artificially locks in exchange rates between European countries that could simply float against each other, allowing each currency to reflect local economic efficiencies. Today the euro gives dollar nations an immense advantage in exporting goods and services. The mental ease of being able to convert pounds to francs is so "last century:" Today, with cellphone calculators you could simply get the exchange rate off the web, or have transactions handled electronically by credit card. Rather than being a practical necessity, the euro reflects a desire to control every transaction between 450 million individuals.

Decentralized control is the essence of American Federalism; but centralized control is the driving fantasy of Europe. It is a spinoff from French and German philosophy, driven by abstract fantasies that have little to do with actual people, as observers from Edmund Burke to Toqueville have pointed out over the last two centuries.

Why should Americans care about the Nutcracker Ballet of European politics? Because Europe has been the source of every major imperial ideology of the past five centuries, from Columbus to the Soviet Empire. Yes, today the EU swears it's all about peace on earth. That was also the slogan of the peace-loving Soviet Union, the last European fantasy that goose-stepped on the world stage. No doubt the EU-enthusiasts sincerely believe their fantasies about peace and love forever; but look at the track record. It's not inspiring, and the worst imperialists are always the ones who think they are spreading sweetness and light. Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Russia, the Netherlands, Belgium, even Sweden and Denmark, the whole gang has a long and bloody imperial history. When they are all united, Europe's imperial grandiosity will certainly assert itself again. EU rhetoric is already edging in that direction.

Europeans share a sense of indomitable superiority over the rest of mankind. That kind of grandiosity is what really drives imperial ideologies, not economics or even practical politics. And the European Union is already falling back on its old message of superiority in its rage against American intervention in Iraq.

A Europe of individual nations is actually going to be a lot more peaceful than a centralized Europe that requires Bismarckian propaganda to keep it from breaking apart. Germany only became dangerous when it achieved imperial unity under Otto von Bismarck. Russia became an international threat when Josef Stalin conquered half of Europe after defeating Hitler in the East; and the USSR only ceased to be a threat when the Soviet Empire broke into pieces. Nothing in the EU project today suggests that the old sense of superiority has been left behind. On the contrary.

When people lose their national identity the result is always a search for a new identity, which usually turns out to be more unstable and therefore more in need of imperial self-assertion. That is why Bismarck needed to whip up hatred against France, and why the French needed to hate the Germans. Franco-German hatred led to massive wars from Napoleon to World War Two. It is that insecure sense of national identity that Europe kept stumbling into in all its desperate searching for new forms in past centuries. It is what will happen again, if history is any guide. Europe's existential crisis today will therefore inevitably shape America's future, and the world's.


The degradation of Canada

By David Warren

Canada today is "deux nations." There are the people who speak and think in French; and the people who speak and think in English. Together they make up one nation, with a continuous history, of more than five centuries. And then there are the people who speak, effectively, no language; who are deracinated, who have no history. That is the other nation. There is very little communication between these two nations -- the "old" Canada, and the "new" Canada -- because little communication is possible between two such groups. The one is aging and shrinking, the other expanding while growing ever younger. (Yet all trends are reversible.)

Demographically, but also spiritually. Those who have no language, no culture, no religion, no sense of past, and therefore of destiny, remain ever young. Outwardly they may become old and wrinkly, but inwardly they retain the mind of the pre-school child, unformed and cloudless. Yet they fulfil the requirements for citizenship set out in John Lennon's famous hymn to emptiness, "Imagine":

"Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky. Imagine all the people, living for today. Imagine there's no countries: it isn't hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for; and no religion, too. Imagine all the people, living life in peace."

This is the postmodern dream, of perfect vacuity -- of the serenity we imagine will sweep over us like sleep. All we need do is abandon everything of value in our heritage, everything for which so many of our ancestors actually fought and died. In this great zero, everyone will be equal, and no person will be better than another. The heroine and the harlot will be one and the same, great saints and great monsters indistinguishable. "Judgementalism" -- the aversion that one individual has behaved better than another -- is, among the vacuous today, the only crime remaining to be punished. And likewise, under the doctrine of "multiculturalism," there is nothing to choose between one culture and another. They are all just fine, and so far as any particularity can still be distinguished, "everything is beautiful in its own way."

In a sad, sad way, this is a parody of Christianity: "Judge not, lest thee be judged." Leave out every other particle of Christianity, and any possibility of context. Retain only this, and one might well call the postmodern void, "Christian." It is a post-Christian Christianity, and I have heard it preached in several denominations. It is also a ridiculous lie, but who are we to choose between truth and falsehood? ("What is truth?") Reason itself makes people unequal, for some can reason better than others.

The Canada of the government-funded paper flag-waving and painted faces -- the "new" Canada that is celebrated each year on what is now called "Canada Day" -- has nothing controversially Canadian about it. You could wave a different flag, and choose another face paint, and nothing would be lost. It is a kind of recess from kindergarten, after which we return to "sleepy time" again.

That is the Canada that is taught in our schools, yet wasn't always. I can remember a Canadian classroom, whenas I was a child, with a portrait of Vanier, as well as of our Queen. That was Major-General Georges-Phil‚as Vanier, P.C., D.S.O., M.C., and Bar, born April 23, 1888, died March 5, 1967, the Canadian soldier and diplomat who was Governor-General from 1959 until his death. A great, good, and illustrious man, the last to fill Canada's highest office with real distinction (though Roland Michener filled it with dignity).

A lot of young people write to me in email, to say that I am dead right about what they are taught in school, and ask me what they can read to educate themselves, especially about Canada. How many times I have recommended, for a one-volume history, The Kingdom of Canada, by the late William Lewis Morton, as a good place to start. (One needs a place to start.) He was a westerner, a progressive, a "red Tory" -- so many things I am not -- and yet that book, published originally in 1963, veritably sings about the nature of Canada, and tells a history that is true, not evacuated and "imagined."

Alternatively, spend the day researching the life and career of this Georges P. Vanier. Or, by contemplating this verse from the Psalms, that every true Canadian will be able, immediately, to recognize and translate: "Et dominabitur a mari usque ad mare, et a flumine usque ad terminos terrae! "


I have been to Canada twice but only very briefly so I speak from no knowledge but I suspect that David Warren is being bitterly ironical in his last sentence above. For Non-Canadians, anyway, I thought I might explain:

A Mari usque ad Mare ("From Sea to Sea"), Canada's official motto, was derived from Psalm 72:8, which reads in Latin "Et dominabitur a mari usque ad mare, et a flumine usque ad terminos terrae," and in the King James version, "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth."

So the motto takes Canada's bi-coastal geography and sees in it that Canada is part of a divine destiny. How "incorrect" in today's Canada! If Canadian Leftists ever deign to notice where the motto comes from, that motto will be CHANGED!

British Jewry in crisis

The call for a boycott against Israeli academicians by the British University and College Union (UCU) reflects the depths to which vicious hostility against Israel has become ingrained in British society. It is an abomination for "educators," purporting to be liberal or progressive, to sanction a dastardly resolution boycotting academics from the only democratic state in the Middle East. It is especially bizarre because Israeli universities are pluralistic with no limitations on the enrolment of Israeli Arab students. In stark contrast, many Palestinian Arab "universities" promote a cult of death, suicide bombers and the destruction of the Jewish state.

It may be politically incorrect to describe such boycotts as anti-Semitic rather than anti-Israel. But the time has now surely come to call a spade a spade. To demonize Israel while ignoring the brutal denial of human rights in Islamic states - with 400,000 murdered in Darfur alone - does not merely reflect distorted double standards. Notwithstanding the high proportion of turncoat Jews among boycott proponents (and even ex-Israelis), by any benchmark this must be deemed an anti-Semitic act.

The noxious atmosphere radiating venom against Israel is now so intense that it is reminiscent of what European Jews must have endured in the 1930s when they were transformed into pariahs. Whereas the early Nazi anti-Jewish boycott initiatives were against Jewish enterprises, today these activities are directed against the surrogate of the Jewish people, the Jewish state. Of course Jews in England are not about to be herded into concentration camps. But there are undoubtedly other ominous similarities.

It is noteworthy that in the 1930s, liberals and the Left defended Jews against the Nazis. Yet today they are leading the pack against Israel and align themselves with the darkest forces of fundamentalist Islam who proudly proclaim their intent to fulfill the Nazi objective of annihilating Jews and their institutions.

THE NIGHTMARE is heightened when even many of those who recognize the potency of the Islamic threat to Britain's open society blame these Islamic excesses on Israel. In their distorted world view, had Israel not been created, Muslims would not have been humiliated and the rage against the West would not have eventuated. The extent of the grotesque distortion of reality is reflected in opinion polls which demonstrate that the average Briton has been brainwashed into believing that Israel represents the greatest threat to world peace, even exceeding Iran.

Of course, much responsibility for this negative climate rests with successive Israeli governments which failed to grapple with the war of ideas or provide guidance to Diaspora Jewish communities. The cynical outbursts of failed politicians like Avrum Burg who demonize their own country and the utilization of Israeli universities as launching pads for anti-Israeli activity by extremist post- Zionist academics also contributed toward the delegitimization of the Jewish state. However, all this does not invalidate the obligation of Anglo Jewry to defend itself.

ON PREVIOUS occasions I expressed concern about the passivity of those Anglo-Jewish leaders who, as an act of faith, rely unduly on silent diplomacy and maintain a low profile out of a concern not to rock the boat. The impotence of their proclaimed policy of "whispering" rather than "shouting" in response to anti-Semitic acts and delegitimization of Israel is exemplified by the recent painful debates over whether to hold public activities on the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War lest it provoke the enemy, and Jewish inclinations to hold protest meetings in closed areas.

Such attitudes have resulted in Anglo-Jewish leaders frequently being depicted as "trembling Israelites." Their behavior contrasts starkly with the French Jewish leaders who displayed courage and determination in the face of anti-Semitism. The core of the problem is that many British Jewish leaders remain in denial and either downplay or refuse to face the reality of the waves of anti-Semitism - disguised as anti- Zionism - which are engulfing them. This was reflected at the annual president's banquet of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. At a time of profound crisis in Israel, with anti-Semitism at an all time high in England, I was reliably informed that the address by board president Henry Grunwald centered on the obligation of Anglo-Jewry to protest against the infringement of human rights in Darfur. Of course what is happening at Darfur is an outrage to humanity to which Jews must be especially sensitive. But for a Jewish leader to refer at such an occasion almost exclusively to Darfur, virtually ignoring the fires that are burning in the Jewish world and the existential threats facing Israel, says it all.

IN THE wake of the reprehensible boycott resolution, the Board of Deputies stands exposed in all its nakedness. There is of course no guarantee that tougher counter action would necessarily have prevented the passage of the resolution. But we will never know, because Anglo-Jewish leaders relied principally on back channels to combat the resolution and were shocked when it was carried. Now they have launched a campaign to reverse the decision.

After the passage of such an abominable resolution, one would surely have expected every Jewish leader, every rabbi, and every activist, to stand up and express anger and disgust against such a moral outrage. Instead we heard expressions of regret, and reasoned academic responses. What were lacking were outpourings of moral indignation that such a biased and evil resolution could have been incubated by educators in the birthplace of democracy.

Of course there are voices of protest. Melanie Phillips the courageous journalist and author of the acclaimed Londonistan is having a major impact. Ronnie Fraser has been conducting a tough uphill campaign on behalf of Academic Friends of Israel. Andrew Balcombe, the chairman of the British Zionist Federation, in an interview with the BBC accused the UK of being the most anti-Semitic country in Europe. Many rank and file British Jews are willing to confront the anti-Semites but are being deterred by "leaders" who insist that strident protest activities are counterproductive.Perhaps the time has come for British Jews to bypass their timid representatives and initiate action independently.

THE GREATEST negative fallout from the passivity of Anglo Jews is not that anti-Semitism will grow - which it undoubtedly will. It is the impact that such cowardly behavior will have on future generations of British Jews. What can one expect in the years to come from today's youngsters who see their parents and leaders fail to confront those who demonize Israel and the Jewish people? If the official leadership of Anglo-Jewry does not change its attitude, the current malaise may only represent the tip of the iceberg.



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 July, 2007

Vast British stupidity

THE car-bomb/suicide-terror operations in London and Glasgow should have provided a fresh opportunity for reminding everyone, especially Muslims in Britain, that terrorism in the name of Islam still poses a major threat to public peace and safety. Yet this is not what is happening. Prime Minister Gordon Brown keeps repeating that the attacks have nothing to do with Islam - but, at the same time, keeps inviting "Muslim community leaders" to Downing Street to discuss how to prevent attacks. If the attacks have nothing to do with Islam, why invite Muslim "leaders" rather than Buddhist monks?

Brown hasn't deemed fit to tell it like it is: that Muslims in Britain, indeed all over the world, must come out and condemn terrorism in unambiguous terms. Instead, we are hearing that the attacks may have been prompted by "Muslim bitterness" about Salman Rushdie's knighting, the latest addition to the Islamist litany of woes. Some "moderate community leaders," like a certain Baroness Uddin, drop hints that Muslims have "foreign-policy issues" that might make them unhappy. The barely coded message: Unless Britain reshapes its foreign policy to please al Qaeda, it must expect to be attacked.

The most that "the moderate community leaders" concede is a "yes, but" position: Yes, it is not quite right to blow up innocent people - but, then again, we must understand how anger at the policies of the government of those same innocent people might prompt some Muslim youths to want to slaughter everyone. Worse still, Ken Livingstone, London's quixotic leftist mayor, has shifted the blame from the terrorists to the British at large, who are supposedly tempted by "Islamophobia." Thus, Livingstone works his way into a logical impasse: Do we dislike them because they want to kill us, or do they want to kill us because we dislike them? He implies that the main blame must lie with the British government and its U.S. allies, especially President Bush, who has declared war on terror rather than seeking to cuddle it.

But can one accuse Britain of "Islamophobia"? The answer is an emphatic no. Britain and a few other Western democracies are the only places on earth where Muslims of all persuasions can practice their faith in full freedom. A thick directory of Muslim institutions in Britain lists more than 300 different sects - most of them banned and persecuted in every Muslim country on earth. A Shiite Muslim can't build a mosque in Cairo; his Sunni brother can't have a mosque of his own in Tehran. Editions of the Koran printed in Egypt or Saudi Arabia are seized as contraband in Iran; Egypt and most other Muslim nations in turn ban the import of Korans printed in Iran. The works of a majority of Muslim writers and philosophers are banned in most Muslim countries.

In Britain, all mosques are allowed; no Muslim author or philosopher is banned. More importantly, rival Muslim sects do not massacre each other, as is the case in half a dozen Muslim-majority countries. The only time that the British media practice self-censorship is when an item might be seen as remotely anti-Islamic. Every British publisher has turned down at least one book proposal for fear of hurting Muslim feelings. "Taking Muslim sensibilities into account" is also the reason given for the cancellation of some art exhibitions and the selection of works on display in others.

Even the most rabid anti-West and pro-terror Islamist clerics are granted visas to come to the United Kingdom and spread their message of hatred (at times, as guests of Mayor Livingstone and his friends). Hamas and Hezbollah are strongly present in Britain; the Islamic Liberation Party, banned in all Muslim countries, has its headquarters in London. Pro-Hamas and pro-Hezbollah militants are featured on British TV almost every evening. The Islamic Republic of Iran's "Supreme Guide," Ali Khamenei, maintains a "personal office" in London with twice as many personnel as Iran's official embassy. The latest "Islamophobia" charges come as Prime Minister Brown has appointed two Muslims to his ministerial team, the first in U.K. history.

The terrorists who tried to kill people in London and Glasgow are the same ones killing people in Baghdad and Karachi. They are the same who killed tens of thousands of Egyptians and perhaps as many as a quarter-million Algerians over the decades. They are motivated not by any religious grievance but by an insatiable appetite for political power. They want to seize control of societies, break them into submission and impose on every individual a mad tyranny of terror in the name of God. If Islam is the religion of peace, then the real Islamphobes are those who planted the car bombs in London and Glasgow - not the poor Brits who are censoring themselves and curbing their hard-won freedoms in order not to offend "the Muslim community."


The London car-bomb plot was designed to kill women

Why on earth do people keep saying, "There but for the grace of God ƒ_Ý"? If matters had been very slightly different over the past weekend, the streets of London and the airport check-in area in Glasgow, Scotland, would have been strewn with charred body parts. And this would have been, according to the would-be perpetrators, because of the grace of God. Whatever our own private theology or theodicy, we might at least agree to take this vile belief seriously.

Instead, almost every other conceivable explanation was canvassed. The June 30 New York Times report managed to quote three people, one of whom attributed the aborted atrocity in London to Tony Blair's foreign policy; one of whom (a New Zealand diplomat, at that) felt "surprisingly all right about it"; and one of whom, described as "a Briton of Indian descent," was worried that "if I walk up that road, they're going to suspect me." The "they" there was clearly the British authorities, rather than the Muslim gangsters who have declared open season on all Hindus as well as all Jews, Christians, secularists, and other kuffar or infidel filth.

On the following day, July 1, the same newspaper informed us that Britain contained a "disenfranchised South Asian population." How this was true was never explained. There are several Muslim parliamentarians in both houses, often allowed to make the most absurdly inflammatory and euphemistic statements where acts of criminal violence are concerned, as well as several districts in which the Islamic vote keeps candidates of all parties uneasily aware of what may and may not be said. True, the Muslim extremist groups boycott elections and denounce democracy itself as profane, but this does not really count as disenfranchisement.

Only at the tail end of the coverage was it admitted that a car bomb might have been parked outside a club in Piccadilly because it was "ladies night" and that this explosion might have been designed to lure people into to the street, the better to be burned and shredded by the succeeding explosion from the second car-borne cargo of gasoline and nails. Since we have known since 2004 that a near-identical attack on a club called the Ministry of Sound was proposed in just these terms, on the grounds that dead "slags" or "sluts" would be regretted by nobody, a certain amount of trouble might have been saved by assuming the obvious. The murderers did not just want body parts in general but female body parts in particular.

I suppose that some people might want to shy away from this conclusion for whatever reason, but they cannot have been among the viewers of British Channel 4's recent Undercover Mosque, or among those who watched Sunday's report from Christiane Amanpour on CNN's Special Investigations Unit. On these shows, the British Muslim fanatics came right out with their program. Straight into the camera, leading figures like Anjem Choudary spoke of their love for Osama Bin Laden and their explicit rejection of any definition of Islam as a religion of peace. On tape or in person, mullahs in prominent British mosques called for the killing of Indians and Jews.

Liberal reluctance to confront this sheer horror is the result, I think, of a deep reticence about some furtive concept of "race." It is subconsciously assumed that a critique of political Islam is an attack on people with brown skins. One notes in passing that any such concession implicitly denies or negates Islam's claim to be a universal religion. Indeed, some of its own exponents certainly do speak as if they think of it as a tribal property. And, at any rate, in practice, so it is. The fascistic subculture that has taken root in Britain and that lives by violence and hatred is composed of two main elements. One is a refugee phenomenon, made up of shady exiles from the Middle East and Asia who are exploiting London's traditional hospitality, and one is the projection of an immigrant group that has its origins in a particularly backward and reactionary part of Pakistan.

To the shame-faced white-liberal refusal to confront these facts, one might counterpose a few observations. The first is that we were warned for years of the danger, by Britons also of Asian descent such as Hanif Kureishi, Monica Ali, and Salman Rushdie. They knew what the village mullahs looked like and sounded like, and they said as much. Not long ago, I was introduced to Nadeem Aslam, whose book Maps for Lost Lovers is highly recommended.

He understands the awful price of arranged marriages, dowry, veiling, and the other means by which the feudal arrangements of rural Pakistan have been transplanted to parts of London and Yorkshire. "In some families in my street," he writes to me, "the grandparents, parents, and the children are all first cousinsƒ_"it's been going on for generations and so the effects of the inbreeding are quite pronounced by now." By his estimate and others, a minority of no more than 11 percent is responsible for more than 70 percent of the birth defects in Yorkshire. When a leading socialist member of Parliament, Ann Cryer, drew attention to this appalling state of affairs in her own constituency, she was promptly accused ofƒ_"well, you can guess what she was accused of. The dumb word Islamophobia, uncritically employed by Christiane Amanpour in her otherwise powerful documentary, was the least of it. Meanwhile, an extreme self-destructive clannishness, which is itself "phobic" in respect to all outsiders, becomes the constituency for the preachings of a cult of death. I mention this because, if there is an "ethnic" dimension to the Islamist question, then in this case at least it is the responsibility of the Islamists themselves.

The most noticeable thing about all theocracies is their sexual repression and their directly related determination to exert absolute control over women. In Britain, in the 21st century, there are now honor killings, forced marriages, clerically mandated wife-beatings, incest in all but name, and the adoption of apparel for females that one cannot be sure is chosen by them but which is claimed as an issue of (of all things) free expression. This would be bad enough on its own and if it were confined to the Muslim "community" alone. But, of course, such a toxin cannot be confined, and the votaries of theocracy now claim the God-given right to slaughter females at random for nothing more than their perceived immodesty. The least we can do, confronted by such radical evil, is to look it in the eye (something it strives to avoid) and call it by its right name. For a start, it is the female victims of this tyranny who are "disenfranchised," while something rather worse than "disenfranchisement" awaits those who dare to disagree.


Denial won't change it: The West is at war with a religion

THIS week’s arrest of Mohamed Haneef in Brisbane may be more curious for the fact he’s a professional lifesaver than for the possibility that he’s a terrorist. So far, most of those being investigated in the latest British car bomb plots are, as is Haneef, doctors. The seeming paradox of the privileged seeking to avenge humiliation has many scratching their heads. Aren’t Muslim martyrs supposed to be poor, dispossessed and resentful? (asks Irshad Manji)

September 11 should have stripped us of that breezy simplification. The 19 hijackers came from means. Mohammed Atta, their ringleader, earned an engineering degree. He then moved to the West, opting for postgraduate studies in Germany. No aggrieved goatherder, that one.

In 2003, I interviewed Mohammad al-Hindi, the political leader of Islamic Jihad in Gaza. A physician himself, al-Hindi explained the difference between suicide and martyrdom. “Suicide is done out of despair,” the good doctor diagnosed. “But most of our martyrs today were very successful in their earthly lives.” In short, it’s not what the material world fails to deliver that drives suicide bombers. It’s something else. Time and again, that something else has been articulated by the people committing these acts: their religion.

Consider Mohammad Sidique Khan, the teaching assistant who masterminded the July 7, 2005, transport bombings in London. In a taped testimony, Khan railed against British foreign policy. But before bringing up Tony Blair, he emphasised that “Islam is our religion” and “the prophet is our role model”. In short, Khan gave priority to God.

Now take Mohammed Bouyeri, the Dutch-born Moroccan Muslim who murdered Amsterdam filmmaker Theo van Gogh. Bouyeri pumped several bullets into van Gogh’s body. Knowing that multiple shots would finish off his victim, why didn’t Bouyeri stop there? Why did he pull out a blade to decapitate van Gogh?

Again, we must confront religious symbolism. The blade is an implement associated with 7th-century tribal conflict. Wielding it as a sword becomes a tribute to the founding moment of Islam. Even the note stabbed into van Gogh’s corpse, although written in Dutch, had the unmistakable rhythms of Arabic poetry. Let’s credit Bouyeri with honesty: at his trial he proudly acknowledged acting from religious conviction.

Despite integrating Muslims far more adroitly than most of Europe, North America isn’t immune. Last year in Toronto, police nabbed 17 young Muslim men allegedly plotting to blow up Canada’s parliament buildings and behead the Prime Minister. They called their campaign Operation Badr, a reference to prophet Mohammed’s first decisive military triumph, the Battle of Badr. Clearly the Toronto 17 drew inspiration from religious history.

For people with big hearts and goodwill, this must be uncomfortable to hear. But they can take solace that the law-and-order types have a hard time with it, too. After rounding up the Toronto suspects, police held a press conference and didn’t once mention Islam or Muslims. At their second press conference, police boasted about avoiding those words. If the guardians of public safety intended their silence to be a form of sensitivity, they instead accomplished a form of artistry, airbrushing the role that religion plays in the violence carried out under its banner.

They’re in fine company: moderate Muslims do the same. Although the vast majority of Muslims aren’t extremists, it is important to start making a more important distinction: between moderate Muslims and reform-minded ones. Moderate Muslims denounce violence in the name of Islam but deny that Islam has anything to do with it. By their denial, moderates abandon the ground of theological interpretation to those with malignant intentions, effectively telling would-be terrorists that they can get away with abuses of power because mainstream Muslims won’t challenge the fanatics with bold, competing interpretations. To do so would be admit that religion is a factor. Moderate Muslims can’t go there.

Reform-minded Muslims say it’s time to admit that Islam’s scripture and history are being exploited. They argue for reinterpretation precisely to put the would-be terrorists on notice that their monopoly is over. Reinterpreting doesn’t mean rewriting. It means rethinking words and practices that already exist, removing them from a 7th-century tribal time warp and introducing them to a 21st-century pluralistic context. Un-Islamic? God, no. The Koran contains three times as many verses calling on Muslims to think, analyse and reflect than passages that dictate what’s absolutely right or wrong. In that sense, reform-minded Muslims are as authentic as moderates and quite possibly more constructive.

This week a former jihadist wrote in a British newspaper that the “real engine of our violence” is “Islamic theology”. Months ago, he told me that as a militant he raised most of his war chest from dentists. Islamist violence: it’s not just for doctors any more. Tackling Islamist violence: it can’t be left to moderates any more.


The Real Threat to Civil Liberties

By Victor Davis Hanson

A common liberal complaint against the Bush administration is its supposed trampling of civil liberties. The Patriot Act, wiretaps, and Guantanamo supposedly have undermined our freedoms--or so we are warned ad nauseam by liberal watchdogs.

True, we have not received any detailed analysis or cost/benefit ratios of how many deadly terrorist plots have been circumvented by these new controversial measures. The administration's past defense of tough interrogations abroad of suspected terrorists sounded to many a lot like an endorsement of torture-light. In any case, as the danger of another 9/11 fades after almost six years, the public seems to be backing off from such anti-terrorism measures--at least until another such mass murder takes place on our shores.

But at least the Patriot Act passed both houses of Congress with wide public support. In contrast, there are a variety of other assaults on personal freedoms, due process, and the sanctity of the law that leftwing moralists not only ignore, but often seem to endorse--as if the liberal ends should justify illiberal means.

First, take illegal immigration. Not only have we neglected to enforce federal immigration statutes, but also local communities, due to pressures from Hispanic lobbyists and tacit approval from employers, have passed local codes barring arrests of suspected illegal aliens. Tens of thousands of regional and local government officials, along with law enforcements, have taken the law into their own hands by simply deciding not to enforce it. Both employers and aliens--the former for profit, the latter with the expectation of ethnic solidarity and support--have simply flouted the law with impunity. We don't talk about massive fraud in our Social Security system due to false names and numbers used by illegal aliens, but only in pragmatic terms of whether such flagrant disregard ultimately puts more into the system than it takes out. The result is one of the most grievous examples of civil disobedience in our nation's history--with 12 million de facto exempt from the law. In fact, we haven't seen state and local government defy federal laws in such blatant fashion since the Jim Crow days when the states of the Old Confederacy were openly insurrectionist.

Second, every bit as dangerous as wiretaps are prosecutors who manipulate the law, either for personal, ideological or political reasons. And here too reappears a pattern in which perceived political liberalism seems to trump adherence to the spirit of the law. In the so-called Duke rape case, now disbarred District Attorney Michael Nifong withheld evidence in his holy crusade to convict three innocent Duke Lacrosse players--in hopes of appeasing the lynch mob of local black activists and self-righteous university professors. But even before evidence was adduced--all exculpatory to the defendants--liberal forces had tried and convicted the falsely accused in the media in furtherance of their own leftwing race, class, and gender agendas.

In the case of Valerie Plame, a special prosecutor was selected to find out who outed supposedly covert status at the CIA. The common liberal allegation was that administration lackies had stooped to hound a CIA employee for the anti-war politicking of her husband Joe Wilson. But very early on in Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald's investigation, two inconvenient truths emerged. Ms. Plame was not a covert agent as envisioned by the original mandate of the special prosecutor. And second, the culprit who disseminated knowledge of her employment in with the CIA was almost immediately revealed--former State Department official Richard Armitage. But no matter. Armitage was out of office and had voiced misgivings about the Iraq war. Thus his early conviction would have earned little public attention, but might instead have ended the investigation before it could snowball in the daily press.

So Fitzgerald barreled ahead anyway on a new mission to satisfy the partisan lust for high-value scalps--hoping to find some top administration official guilty of something else in the growing labyrinth of competing testimonies. Presto! Scooter Libby, Chief of the Vice President's staff was found to have offered contradictory evidence, and thus convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. We tend to think of smooth Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald as far more professional than the buffoonish Nifong. Maybe. But as was true of Nifong in the Duke rape case, Fitzgerald knew of information that might be fatal to his case--that early on Richard Armitage confessed to the leak--and yet neither apprised the public nor shut down his investigation.

Prosecutors pick and choose what charges to bring. When they either act unprofessionally or beyond their mandates, they have enormous, unchecked powers to undermine the very legal system that employs them.

Everyone has their own particular complaint about the modern Supreme Court's propensity to legislate new rather than interpret existing laws. But two years ago this June, they dismantled much of the constitutional protections of the right to hold private property. In the Susette Kelo case, the court gave state and local officials unchecked rights of eminent domain to expropriate her house. The property was not condemned for a necessary bridge or public highway. Instead it was seized for "urban redevelopment"--even when the property in question was not blighted, and the urban renewal project was of questionable viability. City officials were delighted. Their stock and trade have been to confiscate properties, sell them in sweet heart deals to wealthy insider developers--and paper over the entire shanigan with utopian rhetoric about helping the underclass.

Fourth, most recently Democrats have discussed reinstating some sort of "fairness" doctrine aimed at regulating talk radio. They are furious that the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Bill Bennett, Michael Savage, and a host of other conservatives dominate the AM airwaves--while Air America, Jerry Brown, Jim Hightower, Mario Cuomo, and other liberals have failed utterly to carve out a comparable audience in the marketplace of ideas and entertainment.

Once again, liberal civil libertarians are not so liberal about free speech when it is a matter of the public not buying into their own progressive agendas. We should remember that the public is free to choose--and advertisers respond accordingly--about what they wish to hear. Apparently, whiny sermons by nasal-droning elites about the illiberal nature of the yokel middle class is exactly what most on their way to work do not wish to endure.

Of course, conservatives likewise lament the imbalance of left-leaning public radio and television, the major networks such as NBC and CBS, the predominantly liberal print media, universities, the entertainment industry, and foundations. But the difference is that for the most part they are not calling for the government to mandate "fairness" by empowering federal bureaucrats to curb the liberal biases of these institutions.

It is stereotypically easy to identify authoritarians who seek restrict civil liberties during war in the name of "national security." But it is much harder to take on crusading special interest groups, district attorneys, court justices, and liberal Senators who ignore, twist, or subvert our constitutional freedoms under the liberal clarion call of helping minorities, stopping the war, or championing the underclass.

If we are to lose our civil liberties, it won't be all of sudden due to Patriot-Act zealots in sunglasses and flattops, but rather insidiously and incrementally by egalitarian professors, moral crusaders, muckraking journalists, and government utopians all unhappy that constitutional justice is too little and too late for their ever impatient desire to ensure heaven on earth.



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 July, 2007

Nutty New Zealand High Court Rules that Pregnancy is an "Injury"

The New Zealand High Court recently upheld a District Court ruling that an unwanted pregnancy, occurring after a failed sterilization attempt, is considered an "injury" to the woman's body. The lawsuit involved a mother who "accidentally" became pregnant with her fifth child after undergoing sterilization four years ago, the New Zealand Herald reports.

According to Lawyer magazine, Judge Jillian Moore mentioned stretch marks, nausea, vomiting and other signs of the physical and hormonal changes that a woman undergoes during pregnancy. Referring to these symptoms, Moore stated, "if these kinds of changes and resulting effects were suffered by some other impact upon the body...there would be little difficulty in calling them harm."

Judge Moore concluded that while pregnancy is itself a natural process, the effects of pregnancy involve an injury to the woman's body, reports the Herald. In this particular case, the mother had sustained an injury for "having her bodily integrity invaded".

Ruth Dyson, Associate Minister of New Zealand's Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), stated that ACC must examine how this ruling will affect their policies. ACC is the sole government insurance agency that provides compensation for citizens who have sustained accidental injuries. This compulsory state compensation takes away a person's right to sue except in the case of exemplary damages. At present ACC is likely to take the recent ruling on "pregnancy as injury" to the New Zealand Court of Appeal.

Judge Mallon attempted to limit the decision, however, to cases in which women became pregnant without consent. If a woman had "consensual intercourse", the pregnancy is not considered an "accident", and the accident-compensation agency ACC would not be required to pay for "damages".

The court decision is also expected to have significant repercussions on other New Zealand lawsuits regarding botched sterilizations. A Wanganui gynaecologist, Roman Hasil, for example, is facing a lawsuit regarding six women who underwent surgery for sterilization and became pregnant afterwards. The women, who complained about "pain" and "loss of wages", says the Wanganui Chronicle, may be able to claim compensation from ACC for having sustained accidental "injury."


Belgian Bishop Accused of Homophobia for Calling Homosexuals "Abnormal"

Bishop states, "promotion of homosexuality through gay prides signifies the return to Greco-Roman antiquity... a recession of 20 centuries"

Bishop Andre-Mutien Leonard of Namur has been accused of an offence against the Belgian anti-racism act for allegedly calling homosexuals "abnormal". During an April 3 interview with the weekly magazine Tele Moustique, Leonard said that his position on homosexuality agreed with Freud's theory of blocked psychological development. Reported in the Belgium news agency Le Soir, the bishop referred to homosexuality, saying, "It is an imperfectly developed stage of human sexuality which contradicts its interior logic." According to the interviewer, he continued, "Homosexuals have encountered a block in their normal psychological development, which makes them abnormal."

Le Soir reports that the bishop admitted he does not think his point of view to be retrograde. Rather, he considered the culture to be backwards. He stated, "The promotion of homosexuality through gay prides signifies the return to Gr,co-Roman antiquity. To glorify homosexuality is a recession of twenty centuries."

When asked about homosexual marriage, news agency 7Sur7 reports, Mgr L,onard stated that "Marriage is, by definition, the stable union between a man and a woman." He recommended that when describing homosexual unions, another name be used: "anything you want but not marriage," he exclaimed.

Religious Formation Agency CathBel published the Bishop's clarification on the T,l, Moustique interview. In this statement, the bishop said that he did not think that he used the term abnormal (which he avoids systematically) and asked the interviewer to provide him confirmation that he did use that term. The interviewer refused to do so. The bishop confirmed his opinion, however, that a "marriage" between two men or two women is not truly a marriage and that it is contrary to the family cell. (see here)

The accusation against the bishop was used this April in a European Parliament motion for a final resolution regarding "homophobia". Calling for the "worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality," the motion specifically referred to the bishop's words, saying, "homosexuals are routinely targeted by religious leaders with discriminating language, such as that of the Bishop of Namur who on 4 April this year described homosexuality as `abnormal' and stated that `homosexuality is an imperfectly developed stage of human sexuality." The motion called for an end to discrimination against homosexuals. (see here)

According to the Belgian Anti-Discrimination Act of 2003, criminal "discrimination" can refer to, "gender, so-called race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin, sexual preference, marital status, birth, wealth, age, religion or philosophy, present or future state of health, handicap or physical characteristic." In addition, the complainant does not have to prove the act of discrimination, but rather, it is the responsibility of the accused to prove his innocence (see here)

Similar accusations were made in 2004 against Swedish Pastor Ake Green. During one of his sermons, Green said, "What these people need, who live under the slavery of sexual immorality, is an abundant grace. It exists. Therefore we will encourage those who live in this manner to look at the grace of Jesus Christ. We cannot condemn these people. Jesus never belittled anyone. He offered them grace." He was sentenced to one month in jail, but acquitted of the charges the following year.


Pro-Life Position Showing Steady Rise Among US Voters

A study by a private opinion research firm has shown that since the height of the "abortion wars" in the 1980's and 90's, public opinion in the US has made dramatic changes towards the pro-life position. Christopher Blunt, co-author of the study and founder of Overbrook Research, wrote that the analysis shows a complete turnaround in the support for abortion in the last fifteen years. The study, Turnaround on Abortion, cites the debate over partial birth abortion and the move towards a less confrontational approach as one reason for a "dramatic" change in the political climate surrounding abortion.

The study examines changes in pro-life/pro-choice self-identification using 30,000 survey interviews from Missouri from 1992-2006. Percentages of abortion support among US voters, the study showed, have inverted. Respondents were asked: "On the debate over abortion policy, do you consider yourself to be pro-life, pro-choice, or somewhere in between?" The study's authors write, "In 1992.fewer than one-third (30%) of Missouri voters called themselves pro-life, with just 26% admitting to be strongly pro-life. By contrast, 43% called themselves pro-choice, with 34% describing themselves as strongly pro-choice. In other words, there were more strong pro-choice advocates than total pro-lifers."

Since then the data shows that pro-life self-identification has grown to 41% with 30% identifying as "pro-choice." "In other words," writes Blunt, "the turnaround has been nearly complete."

Of particular interest is a shift among the various demographic groups. In 1992, young women were the most strongly pro-abortion. "Now," Blunt says, "they are the most strongly pro-life." Voters who rarely or never attend church services, and those with post-graduate degrees, also overwhelmingly self-identifying as "pro-choice" in 1992, had largely shifted away from abortion support by 2006.

The authors speculate that in addition to the prominence of the partial birth abortion debate, the reason for the turn-around is, paradoxically, the Clinton administration's Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. The authors suggest that the Act shifted the emphasis away from confrontational politics and blockades, to peaceful prayer vigils and sidewalk counseling. "As grisly details of partial-birth abortion procedures replaced confrontational (and often violent) clinic protests on the evening news, voters seemed to have changed their minds about who the `abortion extremists' were."


Islam must face its uncomfortable truths

A particular theology is central to the problem of terrorism, says Tanveer Ahmed, a Sydney (Australia) psychiatrist of Bangladeshi Muslim origin

THE latest attack in Britain shows how the Islamist threat is being driven by something much grander than mere foreign policy or feelings of grievance. The perpetrators believe they are soldiers in the perceived historical battle between good and evil. The methods of attack are becoming more brazen, amateurish and desperate, illustrated most profoundly by the burning terrorist at Glasgow airport shouting "Allah" while struggling with a policeman, but the ideological roots are unchanged.

As a commentator on Muslim affairs and home-grown terrorism, I am often asked whether there is something in Islam itself that is contributing to terrorist acts. As someone who is not a theological expert, I shy away from strong pronouncements on the issue, preferring to discuss the sociological roots of alienation and the modern symbol of protest that Islam has become. But the question is impossible to avoid and I believe that theology is central and not peripheral to the problem. It is grounded in history, but the sparks have been generated by the information age.

While the images of poverty and war in countries such as Sudan, Palestine or Iraq combined with the relative disadvantage of some Muslim communities in countries such as France or Britain may contribute to radicalisation, the foundation for their acts lies very much in the set of ideas called Islam. I have lost count of the number of occasions disgruntled Muslims have responded to my writings with comments like "Islam is peace" or "You are not a Muslim any more". Truth be told, I was never a practising Muslim, despite growing up in a Bangladeshi community where religiosity was the norm.

This had more to do with being raised in a secular household and society than any great misgivings about Islam. In fact, I often watched friends who were able to practise a spiritual version of the religion with envy, wishing that I could subscribe to a greater purpose than myself. But with hindsight, I can see that what we now call extremism was virtually the norm in the community I grew up in. It was completely normal to view Jews as evil and responsible for the ills of the world. It was normal to see the liberal society around us as morally corrupt, its stains to be avoided at all costs. It was normal to see white girls as cheap and easy and to see the ideal of femininity as its antithesis. These views have been pushed to more private, personal spheres amid the present scrutiny of Muslim communities.

But they remain widespread, as research in Britain showed earlier this year: up to 50 per cent of British Muslims aged between 15 and 29 want to see sharia law taken up in Britain. This needs to be seen in the light of American data collated by the Pew Research Centre that showed close to 80 per cent of American Muslims believed they could move up the social ladder in the US and had no interest in Islamic laws on a public level. Like most things Australian, it is likely we sit somewhere between our British and American cousins.

But the threat is very real. It was reported yesterday that up to 3000 young Muslims are at risk of becoming radicalised in Sydney alone, according to research by a member of the now-disbanded Muslim Community Reference Group, Mustapha Kara-Ali. But when these views morph into the violent political act that is terrorism, it is very much based in theology.

At its core, Islam is deeply sceptical of the idea of a secular state. There is no rendering unto Caesar because state and religion are believed to be inseparable. This idea then interacts with centuries-old edicts of Islamic jurists about how the land of Islam should interact with the world of unbelievers, known as dar ul-kufr. The modern radicals then take it further, declaring that since, with the exception perhaps of Pakistan and Iran, there are no Islamic states, the whole world is effectively the land of the unbelievers. As a result, some radicals believe waging war on the whole world is justified to re-create it as an Islamic state. They go as far as reclassifying the globe as dar ul-harb, "land of war", apparently allowing Muslims to destroy the sanctity of the five rights that every human is granted under Islam: life, wealth, land, mind and belief. In dar ul-harb, anything goes, including the killing of civilians.

While it may appear absurd to most, this nihilistic but exclusivist world view is clearly attracting significant numbers of young Muslims. British police have suggested the latest attacks and foiled plots may have involved teenagers. But the obvious absurdity of the set of ideas is still grounded in Islam, which, regardless of how theological experts argue, can be interpreted in many ways.

Muslim communities must openly argue precisely what it is they fear and loathe about the West. Much of it centres on sexuality. This is the first step in rooting out any Muslim ambivalence about living in the West. But thereafter, the argument must proceed rapidly to Islamic theology and all its uncomfortable truths - from its repeated glowing references to violence, its obsession with and revulsion at sex and its historical antipathy to the very possibility that reason can exist as separate from God.



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 July, 2007

Celebrating and Defending Liberty

A good reflection for July 4 by Alan Caruba

Sometimes I fear America has become the Paris Hilton of the world, forever in the media, an incredibly wealthy, pretty creature that often appears to be vacuous, in need of an occasional spanking, and yet fascinating for reasons that defy an easy explanation. Whatever the nation does, however, it does from a set of values and a cultural heritage that sets it apart from every other nation on earth.

These values of freedom and individual liberty need to be taught in our schools, spoken of around the dinner table, and in all the institutions of the nation as a constant reminder why America is such an economic dynamo, a source of endless innovation, and a place where one can literally travel from coast to coast and consistently be greeted with courtesy and warmth by complete strangers.

Writers are, by nature, people who love the written word and turn to it for answers. Let's look at some thoughts that celebrate freedom and liberty in a world where it exists only for a lucky few of the six billion people who share our planet.

In his book, "The Case for Democracy", Natan Sharansky who defied the might of the Soviet Union, later emigrated to Israel, and has become a figure of international renown, poses the question "Is freedom for everyone?" After examining the challenges to freedom, particularly in the Middle East, he concludes that, "My source of confidence that freedom truly is for everyone is not only that democracy has spread around the world, allowing so many different cultures and peoples to enjoy its bounty, my confidence also comes from living in a world of fear, studying it, and fighting it.There is a universal desire among all peoples not to live in fear. Indeed, given a choice, the vast majority of people will always prefer a free society to a fear society."

There is much concern and debate over the role of the United States, frequently called the only superpower in the world when it comes to engaging in conflicts far from our shores. Historically, however, Americans have been reluctant to engage in foreign wars.

The subject was widely debated after World War I when Woodrow Wilson proposed that the U.S. join the League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations. Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge opposed membership, but in a speech on August 12, 1919 he said, "We must set aside all this empty talk about isolation. Nobody expects to isolate the United States or to make it a hermit nation, which is a sheer absurdity. "But there is a wide difference between taking a suitable part and bearing a due responsibility in world affairs and plunging the United States into every controversy and conflict on the face of the globe." Lodge went on to say, "I will go as far as anyone in world service, but the first step to world service is the maintenance of the United States."

This was an argument for the absolute necessity of national sovereignty; the right of the nation to protect its borders, determine the makeup of its population, and consider its interests before entering into agreements with other nations. The Senate voted against membership in the League of Nations, an institution that proved incapable of defeating the totalitarian ambitions of Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, and of a Japan which sought hegemony in the Far East.

Generations can and do forget the legacy of those who fought and died to protect and preserve our freedom and liberty. America was unusually fortunate in the company of men who fought the Revolution that achieved our independence and then took up the job of creating a government that would maintain it. George Washington's farewell address after serving two terms as President offered some advice present candidates for that high office and every voter should keep in mind. Washington witnessed the first evidence of partisanship, the divisions of opinion regarding how the nation should be governed.

He warned, "They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of the party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community, and, according to the alternative triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common councils and modified by mutual interests."

Such felicitous use of the language, in fact, describes the divisions within our society today as parties and groups seek to impose legislative bans or mandates or as others advocate laws based on seriously flawed and even fraudulent science.

These "factions" may believe they have the best interests of the nation at stake, but the vast majority of voters reject their initiatives, knowing they will harm the economy, threaten our sovereignty, and degrade the Constitution by virtue of too much federal control over vast swaths of our national life such as our education and health care systems.

America, for all its faults, remains a beacon of freedom and democracy to the world. We have assumed a sacred trust by virtue of the oldest living Constitution in the world. In 1990 when Vaclav Havel assumed the presidency of a Czechoslovakia, a nation that had lived under both Nazi and Soviet domination before attaining independence, this former prisoner of Communism, told his fellow citizens the following. "You may ask what kind of republic I dream of. Let me reply: I dream of a republic that is independent, free, and democratic; a republic with economic prosperity, yet social justice; a humane republic that serves the individual and therefore hopes that the individual will serve it in turn; a republic of well-rounded people, because without such people, it is impossible to solve any of our problems, whether they be human, economic, ecological, social, or political."

America is a republic composed of separate republics, its states. Our Constitution clearly delineates and limits the powers of the federal government and allocates others to the states. The further we move from that formulation, the greater the power that is ceded to the federal government, the more we endanger the true power of governance that resides in the people.

All around the world, people will look to America as it celebrates the Fourth of July, its day of independence. In the dawn of the twenty-first century, we must not be distracted from the new enemy of freedom and democracy, the Islamofascists who openly seek to kill us and to kill the American dream; a dream that continues to inspire millions in far-off places.


Secularist Europe Silences Pro-Lifers and Creationists

Last week, a German court sentenced a 55-year old Lutheran pastor to one year in jail for "Volksverhetzung" (incitement of the people) because he compared the killing of the unborn in contemporary Germany to the holocaust. Next week, the Council of Europe is going to vote on a resolution imposing Darwinism as Europe's official ideology. The European governments are asked to fight the expression of creationist opinions, such as young earth and intelligent design theories. According to the Council of Europe these theories are "undemocratic" and "a threat to human rights."

Without legalized abortion the number of German children would increase annually by at least 150,000 - which is the number of legal abortions in birth dearth Germany. Pastor Johannes Lerle compared the killing of the unborn to the killing of the Jews in Auschwitz during the Second World War. On 14 June, a court in Erlangen ruled that, in doing so, the pastor had "incited the people" because his statement was a denial of the holocaust of the Jews in Nazi-Germany. Hence, Herr Lerle was sentenced to one year in jail. Earlier, he had already spent eight months in jail for calling abortionists "professional killers" - an allegation which the court ruled to be slanderous because, according to the court, the unborn are not humans.

Other German courts convicted pro-lifers for saying that "in abortion clinics, life unworthy of living is being killed," because this terminology evoked Hitler's euthanasia program, which used the same language. In 2005, a German pro-lifer, Guenter Annen, was sentenced to 50 days in jail for saying "Stop unjust [rechtswidrige] abortions in [medical] practice," because, according to the court, the expression "unjust" is understood by laymen as meaning illegal, which abortions are not.

Volksverhetzung is a crime which the Nazis often invoked against their enemies and which contemporary Germany also uses to intimidate homeschoolers. Soon, the German authorities will be able to use the same charge against people who question Darwin's evolution theory.

Indeed, next Tuesday, the Council of Europe (CoE), Europe's main human-rights body, will vote on a proposal which advocates the fight against creationism, "young earth" and "intelligent design" in its 47 member states. According to a report of the CoE's Parliamentary Assembly, creationists are dangerous "religious fundamentalists" who propagate "forms of religious extremism" and "could become a threat to human rights." The report adds that the acceptance of the science of evolutionism "is crucial to the future of our societies and our democracies." "Creationism, born of the denial of the evolution of species through natural selection, was for a long time an almost exclusively American phenomenon," the report says.

"Today creationist theories are tending to find their way into Europe and their spread is affecting quite a few Council of Europe member states. [.] [T]his is liable to encourage the development of all manner of fundamentalism and extremism, synonymous with attacks of utmost virulence on human rights. The total rejection of science is definitely one of the most serious threats to human rights and civic rights. [.] The war on the theory of evolution and on its proponents most often originates in forms of religious extremism which are closely allied to extreme right-wing political movements. The creationist movements possess real political power. The fact of the matter, and this has been exposed on several occasions, is that the advocates of strict creationism are out to replace democracy by theocracy. [...] If we are not careful, the values that are the very essence of the Council of Europe will be under direct threat from creationist fundamentalists."

According to the CoE report, America and Australia are already on their way towards becoming such undemocratic theocracies where human and civic rights are endangered. Creationism is "well-developed in the English-speaking countries, especially the United States and Australia," the report states.

"While most curricula in Europe today unashamedly teach evolution as a recognised scientific theory, the same does not apply to the United States. In July 2005, the Pew Research Center conducted a poll that showed that 64% of Americans favoured the teaching of intelligent design alongside the theory of evolution and that 38% would support the total abandonment of the teaching of evolution in publicly owned schools. The American President George W. Bush supports the principle of teaching both intelligent design and the theory of evolution. At the moment, 20 of the 50 American states are facing potential adjustments of their school curricula in favour of intelligent design. Many people think that this phenomenon only affects the United States and that, even if it is not possible to be indifferent to what is happening on the other side of the Atlantic, it is not the Council of Europe's role to deal with this issue. That, however, is not the case. On the contrary, it would seem crucial for us to take the appropriate precautions in our 47 member states."

Though one may disagree with people who take the Book of Genesis literally (believing that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh), surely secularist political organizations telling people what they may or may not believe, constitute a far greater threat to human rights than religious institutions telling their faithful how to vote. In the voting booth people are free to do what they like, whilst in contemporary Europe people are no longer free to publicly voice their own, deeply felt opinions in public.

In Germany, believing abortion to be as murderous as the holocaust is a crime, and educating your own children is a crime too. In France, saying that "homosexual behaviour endangers the survival of humanity" is a crime, and so is the distribution of pork soup to the poor. In Belgium, speaking out against immigration is a crime.

In the latest issue of the Dutch conservative magazine Bitter Lemon the Dutch author Erik van Goor writes that European courts are silencing conservative and orthodox citizens. Freedom of speech no longer exist, says van Goor.

"While many in the West still idolize the second-hand fighters for free speech, such as [Ayaan] Hirsi Ali and Theo van Gogh, the true victims of curtailment are deliberately kept under wraps. Hirsi Ali, [Pim] Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh were not curtailed by the state or by court, Johannes Lerle is. The former voiced mere opinions - expressions of a public opinion which one may or may not value or believe. The latter - Dr Lerle - shows that what is at stake is not merely opinions, but a moral order which is being questioned; a reality of life and death which is at risk."

Hirsi Ali, Fortuyn and van Gogh did not defend Europe's traditional Christian moral order. People such as Johannes Lerle and Christian Vanneste, the French parliamentarian who was convicted for "homophobia," do. The latter are being persecuted by Western Europe's political regimes - a phenomenon which is ignored completely by the Western mainstream media, who participate in the persecution.


A quote from Reuters, 25 June 2007:

Europe's main human rights body on Monday cancelled a scheduled vote on banning creationist and intelligent design views from school science classes, saying the proposed resolution was one-sided. [.] Guy Lengagne, the French Socialist member of the Assembly who drew up the report, protested after the Parliamentary Assembly voted to call off the debate and vote, and [approved a proposal of the Flemish Christian-Democrat Luc Van den Brande] to send the report back to committee for further study. [.] Deputies said the motion by the Christian Democratic group of parliamentarians also won support from east European deputies, who recalled that Darwinian evolution was a favorite theory of their former communist rulers.


Barely veiled menace

Once a radical Muslim, Ed Husain was shocked by the racism, sexual perversion and extremism he encountered while working in Saudi Arabia

DURING our first two months in Jeddah, my wife Faye and I relished our new and luxurious lifestyle: a shiny jeep, two swimming pools, domestic help, and a tax-free salary. The luxury of living in a modern city with a developed infrastructure cocooned me from the frightful reality of life in Saudi Arabia. My goatee beard and good Arabic ensured that I could pass for an Arab. But looking like a young Saudi was not enough: I had to act Saudi, be Saudi. And here I failed.

My first clash with Saudi culture came when, being driven around in a bulletproof jeep, I saw African women in black abayas tending to the rubbish bins outside restaurants, residences and other busy places. "Why are there so many black cleaners on the streets?" I asked the driver. The driver laughed. "They're not cleaners. They are scavengers; women who collect cardboard from all across Jeddah and then sell it. They also collect bottles, drink cans, bags." "You don't find it objectionable that poor immigrant women work in such undignified and unhygienic conditions on the streets?" "Believe me, there are worse jobs women can do."

Though it grieves me to admit it, the driver was right. In Saudi Arabia women indeed did do worse jobs. Many of the African women lived in an area of Jeddah known as Karantina, a slum full of poverty, prostitution and disease. A visit to Karantina, a perversion of the term "quarantine", was one of the worst of my life. Thousands of people who had been living in Saudi Arabia for decades, but without passports, had been deemed "illegal" by the Government and, quite literally, abandoned under a flyover.

A non-Saudi black student I had met at the British Council, where I taught English, accompanied me. "Last week a woman gave birth here," he said, pointing to a ramshackle cardboard shanty. Disturbed, I now realised that the materials I had seen those women carrying were not always for sale but for shelter. I had never expected to see such naked poverty in Saudi Arabia. At that moment it dawned on me that Britain, my home, had given refuge to thousands of black Africans from Somalia and Sudan: I had seen them in their droves in Whitechapel. They prayed, had their own mosques, were free and were given government housing.

Many Muslims enjoyed a better lifestyle in non-Muslim Britain than they did in Muslim Saudi Arabia. At that moment I longed to be home again. All my talk of ummah (a global Muslim nation) seemed so juvenile now. It was only in the comfort of Britain that Islamists could come out with such radical utopian slogans as one government, one ever expanding country, for one Muslim nation. The racist reality of the Arab psyche would never accept black and white people as equal.

Racism was an integral part of Saudi society. My students often used the word "nigger" to describe black people. Even dark-skinned Arabs were considered inferior to their lighter-skinned cousins. I was living in the world's most avowedly Muslim country, yet I found it anything but. I was appalled by the imposition of (fundamentalist) Wahhabism in the public realm, something I had implicitly sought when an Islamist.

Part of this local culture consisted of public institutions being segregated and women banned from driving on the grounds that it would give rise to "licentiousness". I was repeatedly astounded at the stares Faye got from Saudi men and I from Saudi women. Faye was not immodest in her dress. Out of respect for local custom, she wore the long black abaya and covered her hair in a black scarf. In all the years I had known my wife, never had I seen her appear so dull. Yet on two occasions she was accosted by passing Saudi youths from their cars. On another occasion a man pulled up beside our car and offered her his phone number. In supermarkets I only had to be away from Faye for five minutes and Saudi men would hiss or whisper obscenities as they walked past. When Faye discussed her experiences with local women at the British Council they said: "Welcome to Saudi Arabia."

After a month in Jeddah I heard from an Asian taxi driver about a Filipino worker who had brought his new bride to live with him in Jeddah. After visiting the Balad shopping district the couple caught a taxi home. Some way through their journey the Saudi driver complained that the car was not working properly and perhaps the man could help push it. The passenger obliged. Within seconds the Saudi driver had sped off with the man's wife in his car and, months later, there was still no clue as to her whereabouts. We had heard stories of the abduction of women from taxis by sex-deprived Saudi youths.

Why had the veil and segregation not prevented such behaviour? My Saudi acquaintances, many of them university graduates, argued strongly that, on the contrary, it was the veil and other social norms that were responsible for such widespread sexual frustration among Saudi youth. At work the British Council introduced free internet access for educational purposes. Within days the students had downloaded the most obscene pornography from sites banned in Saudi Arabia, but easily accessed via the British Council's satellite connection. Segregation of the sexes, made worse by the veil, had spawned a culture of pent-up sexual frustration that expressed itself in the unhealthiest ways. Using Bluetooth technology on mobile phones, strangers sent pornographic clips to one another. Many of the clips were recordings of homosexual acts between Saudis and many featured young Saudis in orgies in Lebanon and Egypt. The obsession with sex in Saudi Arabia had reached worrying levels: rape and abuse of both sexes occurred frequently, some cases even reaching the usually censored national press.

The problems of Saudi Arabia were not limited to racism and sexual frustration. In contemporary Wahhabism there are two broad factions. One is publicly supportive of the House of Saud, and will endorse any policy decision reached by the Saudi government and provide scriptural justification for it. The second believes that the House of Saud should be forcibly removed and the Wahhabi clerics take charge. Osama bin Laden and al-Qa'ida are from the second school. In Mecca, Medina and Jeddah I met young men with angry faces from Europe, students at various Wahhabi seminaries. They reminded me of my extremist days. They were candid in discussing their frustrations with Saudi Arabia. The country was not sufficiently Islamic; it had strayed from the teachings of Wahhabism. They were firmly on the side of the monarchy and the clerics who supported it. Soon they were to return to the West, well versed in Arabic, fully indoctrinated by Wahhabism, to become imams in British mosques.

By the summer of 2005 Faye and I had only eight weeks left in Saudi Arabia before we would return home to London. Thursday, July 7, was the beginning of the Saudi weekend. On television that morning we watched the developing story of a power cut on the London Underground. As the cameras focused on King's Cross, Edgware Road, Aldgate and Russell Square, I looked on with a mixture of interest and homesickness. Soon the power-cut story turned into shell-shocked reportage of a series of terrorist bombings.

My initial suspicion was that the perpetrators were Saudis. My experience of them, their virulence towards my non-Muslim friends, their hate-filled textbooks, made me think that bin Laden's Saudi soldiers had now targeted my home town. It never crossed my mind that the rhetoric of jihad introduced to Britain by Hizb ut-Tahrir (The Liberation Party committed to establishing an Islamic state) could have anything to do with such horror. My sister avoided the suicide attack on Aldgate station by four minutes. Faye and I were glued to the television for hours. Watching fellow Londoners come out of Tube stations injured and mortified, but facing the world with a defiant sense of dignity, made me feel proud to be British.

In my class the following Sunday, the beginning of the Saudi working week, were nearly 60 Saudis. Only one mentioned the London bombings. "Was your family harmed?" he asked. "My sister missed an explosion by four minutes but otherwise they're all fine, thank you." The student, before a full class, sighed and said: "There are no benefits in terrorism. Why do people kill innocents?"

Two others quickly gave him his answer in Arabic: "There are benefits. They will feel how we feel." I was livid. "Excuse me?" I said. "Who will know how it feels?" "We don't mean you, teacher," said one. "We are talking about people in England. You are here. They need to know how Iraqis and Palestinians feel."

"The British people have been bombed by the IRA for years," I retorted. "Londoners were bombed by Hitler during the Blitz. The largest demonstrations against the war in Iraq were in London. People in Britain don't need to be taught what it feels like to be bombed." Several students nodded in agreement. The argumentative ones became quiet. Were they convinced by what I had said? It was difficult to tell.

Two weeks after the terrorist attacks in London another Saudi student raised his hand and asked: "Teacher, how can I go to London?" "Much depends on your reason for going to Britain. Do you want to study or just be a tourist?" "Teacher, I want to go London next month. I want bomb, big bomb in London, again. I want make jihad!" "What?" I exclaimed. Another student raised both hands and shouted: "Me too! Me too!" Other students applauded those who had just articulated what many of them were thinking. I was incandescent. In protest I walked out of the classroom to a chorus of jeering and catcalls.

My time in Saudi Arabia bolstered my conviction that an austere form of Islam (Wahhabism) married to a politicised Islam (Islamism) is wreaking havoc in the world. This anger-ridden ideology, an ideology I once advocated, is not only a threat to Islam and Muslims, but to the entire civilised world. I vowed, in my own limited way, to fight those who had hijacked my faith, defamed my prophet and killed thousands of my own people: the human race. I was encouraged when Tony Blair announced on August 5, 2005, plans to proscribe an array of Islamist organisations that operated in Britain, foremost among them Hizb.

At the time I was impressed by Blair's resolve. The Hizb should have been outlawed a decade ago and so spared many of us so much misery. Sadly the legislation was shelved last year amid fears that a ban would only add to the group's attraction, so it remains both legal and active today. But it is not too late.


Speech in Jerusalem to Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce

By Alexander Downer, Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs

Minister Ezra, Professor Stanley Fischer, Gurion Meltzer, Moshe Kaveh, the President of Bar Ilan University and other distinguished guests here tonight. I can only say that tonight is a very important evening for me and I feel very touched by the great honour that's been bestowed on me by Bar Ilan University. I feel that it's exciting on the one hand but I feel very humbled by it as well - perhaps a little undeserving. I did get an honours degree at university but my wife says to me that "Darling, you're now a doctor but you've not done a stroke of work towards a thesis". When I graduated as an undergraduate I thought that was enough university and it was time to go out and make money and I failed at that and went into politics [laughter]. Anyway, I've come full circle and now I'm a doctor and so I appreciate the great honour.

A lot of people ask me why I seem to be so committed to Israel - I mean, I'm a Christian, not Jewish and although I remember staying here in this hotel about three years ago ... and I think I could almost be described as an honorary Jew with a lot of the views that I hold about the issues that Jewish people confront. But a lot of people do ask me why I am so committed to Israel. And I think there are a variety of explanations for that. One of them is a bit historic and I think some of you have heard me say this before. When I was a child at school and subsequently when I went to university in England, for no particular reason, Jewish people seemed to befriend me as some other people did as well [laughter], but I seemed to have quite a lot of Jewish friends.

When I was at university I shared a house with four people. One of them was a New Zealander, one of them was Jewish - her name is Judy - and a Scotsman. This was in 1972-73, that sort of time, the significance being 1973. And Judy had a cousin come and stay with her from Israel. And it was at the time, just as the cousin came, the Yom Kippur War broke out. And I remember this just as though it were yesterday, going down into our little kitchenette - imagine a student's kitchen how completely disgusting it was, with washing up not done for about four days, just a complete mess really, and we ate such disgusting food as well. Judy's sitting there in her dressing gown with her cousin from Israel and the cousin from Israel had tears in her eyes. They were both listening to BBC radio, to the details of the Yom Kippur War and you'll remember better than I do how in the early days it wasn't going so well. This cousin of Judy's brother was in the Israeli army and - you know all of this so much better than I do.

But I was tremendously struck by the power of the moment. I was tremendously struck by the Jewish people, as in the Israelis in this case, under siege and so unreasonably in my view - now some people will criticise me for that - but I think completely unreasonably under siege in the way that they were and suffering so much yet again after all the wars that they'd been through. And, I don't know, it seemed to me that somebody had sometimes to stick up for the Israeli people and as the years have gone by the cause of Israel has, in many countries around the world, become decreasingly fashionable. I don't think there's any doubt about that. It hasn't changed my mind that it's become decreasingly fashionable, in fact I've never claimed to be fashionable, I've just tried to do what I thought was the right thing.

So for those sort of historic reasons, I've had a strong feeling for Israel. One of the other reasons I have a strong feeling for Israel - when I come here and it's forty degrees it reminds me of Adelaide, it's like going home. When I come here and look at Israeli politics it also reminds me of home. The interesting way that Israelis conduct their politcs, the same robust - dare I say it - slightly rude way in which your politicians deal with each other, the volatility of your politics - a bit more volatile than ours. Yes, you've had more Foreign Ministers, as Stanley was pointing out, than we have over the last eleven years, but nevertheless the volatility, the confrontation, the partisanship of your politics is very familiar to us.

Of course in a broader sense Israel shares so many of the core values that Australia has as well. Australia is the world's sixth oldest continuingly operating democracy; its democratic roots are very deep. Israel is such a vibrant democracy as well, it's one of the great heartlands of modern democracy as well - the passionate belief in the freedom of the individual that we have in our own society. There's something else about Israel that Australia shares as well and that is that your country seems to me to be a kind of brutally egalitarian society and we kind of like that in Australia. Airs and graces don't go down very well in our country - that's why Europeans think that we're very noisy and perhaps a touch common [laughter]. But it's just that we're very egalitarian. And I think that Israelis suffer from - if you could call it that - the same thing. So there are those great sort of bonds of kinship, I guess, that we have.

We have in Australia a wonderful Jewish community about 100,000 strong. They are just enormous contributors to our country. Our country would not be the great country it is if not for our small but incredibly successful Jewish community in the professions, in business, not so much in politics in our country but there have been from time to time in politics - the first Australian-born Governor General of Australia was Jewish and we've had two Governors General - I think, two - who have been Jewish. Jewish people have been an enormously important part of our society - continue to be - and we're very proud of that as well.

But I suppose on top of all of those things, in very recent years we have kind of been bound together yet again because of the way the world has evolved. I suppose for Jewish people one of the most defining experiences is what happened to them in the 1930s and 1940s. So for Jewish people they understand more than anyone else on earth the pain of the confrontation between liberal democrats, social democrats on the one side and fascism and Nazism on the other side and totalitarianism. After that we had the confrontation between liberal and social democrats and Communism. And I think when we got to 1990-91, the Berlin wall was torn down, Communism collapsed, it became a barren and bankrupt ideology. The Soviet Union itself broke up, we thought it was, to use Francis Fukuyama's phrase, the end of world history, meaning that the great ideological confrontations had finished. We thought that we could pocket a 'peace dividend' as they used to say in the early 1990s, we could put away our arms and spend that money on the things we'd truly love to spend it on - health and education, services and so on.

But then we were very brutally reminded, as time went on, that in fact the great conflicts were not over. That the world still faces a great conflict, which I often define as a conflict between moderate people, between tolerant people, between caring people on the one hand and between extremists, and the intolerant and the uncaring on the other hand. And the intolerance of a minority is an intolerance that causes great death and great suffering.

Now I ask myself what should we do about those who are intolerant, those who have ideologies which they wish to impose on others, and those who are prepared to cause suffering to others for the cause of an ideology because the ideology is more important than human life or it's more important than any individual, that in fact individuals don't count, the corporate ideology is what counts? And this is what we see from the Islamic extremists from, in our part of the world, in south east Asia, from Jemaah Islamiyah, the Abu Sayyaf group, you see from Al Qaeda, and you see to some extent from both Hamas and Hizbollah right around you here in Israel.

Some people said that the best way to deal with Nazism was through a policy that was very fashionable and very popular in the 1940s called appeasement. And we all know in this room that that policy was the wrong policy. And yet it's so often repeated, despite the fact that we know it's the wrong way to deal with extremists we're still inclined to want to repeat it. So when it came to the Soviet Union and the spread of Communism and the challenges that laid down some people thought, "Well that's the way the world is, we just have to find ways of accommodating it".

A lot of you won't agree with me here, because you can see I don't mind always whether people agree or not, but I reckon one of the great speeches of the 20th century, or at least the second half of the 20th century, was Ronald Reagan's speech in 1987 in Berlin where he said, "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall". The importance of that speech was that it was a speech where Reagan was saying, "I want to confront this type of regime, I want to confront this totalitarianism, and I want to defeat it". And he and his successors and a number of other people - there were a lot of people involved in that victory, but they did.

When it's come to Islamic extremism and terrorism, there are still people who think we shouldn't confront it, and we shouldn't try to defeat it, and we should try to negotiate our way out of it. I'm often reminded of the phrase that Osama bin Laden uses - you want to watch these people's videos - just as it was important to read Mein Kampf, so it is important to look at and take seriously what people like Osama bin Laden say. And he says the West is a weak horse. That if you keep confronting the weak horse for long enough eventually it will walk away, that it won't be able to sustain for a long time a campaign against extremism and terrorism. And when I think about the debates that there are - the debates there are about what to do with Hamas or with Hizbollah and Al Qaeda - what should we be doing in Iraq and Afghanistan - should we let the Taliban take over and just go back home, go back to bed and have a cry at night.

Or, in our case, should we and the Americans and the British and others just walk out of Iraq and leave people like Al Qaeda and other extremists to play merry havoc in that country. Imagine what that would mean for you nearby, here in Israel. And people say that's the easy way, that's the way we should do it. I keep thinking to myself, "It would be quite easy", and sometimes I think it might give us a bit of a boost in the polls if we were to do that sort of thing at home. And then I think, "What will it mean for my children? What will it mean for future generations? What will it mean for you here in this country?" if in the end we show weakness, if we are weak horses, if we run away. Will that mean these people themselves will disappear, will their ideology vanish? Will they become our friends as a result of us being weak horses? I think the answer to that is perfectly obvious. And therefore when we think about confronting this great challenge that we have today, that you have of course right here in the forefront of it, and that we have to some lesser extent in south east Asia.

When we think about it we need to work with people who are like-minded, and we need to show a sturdy courage in continuing to confront it. And I don't just mean a physical courage, and it certainly requires on the part of many people that above all and, I'm sorry to say, very often very sad sacrifice. But also for politicians, a lot of political courage as well to continue to make their arguments in their own countries. And some have done that and you know I've admired those people who have been prepared to do that in their countries, sometimes in the teeth of public opposition.

So I say all those things here in Israel on this wonderful evening here tonight, I think our countries have joined together in that great struggle that we have. And what I want to see is an Israel that can live in peace, of course, in peace with its neighbours with two states there, with the State of Israel entirely secure. You don't want to have to spend ten per cent of your GDP, as we were discussing, on defence, but much less, and with a Palestinian state too which is a secure and a prosperous place and a prosperous neighbour and a good neighbour for Israel. And we want to see a world where people are able to live in freedom and democracy and I think Australia and Israel and a number of other countries know that can't be achieved for free - we do have to show strength if we are going to achieve those things. And you know those of us who believe in those things - let's try to stick together, let's not argue too much and fall out with each other.

So, it's always an enormous pleasure for me for all of those reasons and I've talked about them at great length to be in Israel and to be here in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a spectacular city. I always say to people there are about 10 cities you have to see before you die and one of those cities is Jerusalem. It's a wonderful city, a controversial city, a very divided city, but a magnificent city. I think Sydney actually - although a lot of people here come from Melbourne - [laughter] don't worry, I'm from Adelaide, the city with the greatest football team [laughter] - but I think, just to look at, Sydney is one of the 10 cities you have to see. So those of you who are Israelis who have never been to Sydney you must make sure you at least go there and perhaps go to Adelaide as well [laughter]. It has quite a small Jewish community, Adelaide, but a very good one.

So I'd like to, if you'll just let me, say once more what an enormous honour it is to be here this evening. It's a wonderful feeling to receive from Bar Ilan University the honorary doctorate, I appreciate that enormously, and I look forward to coming back before too long, after our election - confidently, in the same position I've got here today [applause]. The one thing that I definitely want on the record, Professor Kaveh, is that I would like to make a commitment to going to Bar Ilan University and giving a lecture there about some of the things that I believe in. So, thank you very much.



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 July, 2007

Texas police commander says race cost him promotion

A veteran Austin police commander has sued City Manager Toby Futrell, former Police Chief Stan Knee and incoming Police Chief Art Acevedo, saying he was denied a promotion to assistant chief because he is white. Cmdr. Harold Piatt claims in the seven-page suit filed late Tuesday in U.S. District Court that he was the victim of a years-long police department practice of "racial set-asides for positions for assistant chief."

Piatt, who now supervises the department's homicide unit, said that he was the most qualified person in the department for the job last year but that the position was given to Cmdr. Charlie Ortiz, who is Hispanic. Piatt has been with the department since 1979, three years longer than Ortiz. Ortiz was one of two assistant chief promotions Knee made in March 2006. Knee also promoted Assistant Chief David Carter, who is white. Acting Police Chief Cathy Ellison demoted Ortiz to the rank of commander in January but has not publicly stated the reason for her decision. Ortiz has since filed a complaint with the city's civil service commission, saying that Ellison retaliated against him for defending an officer's use of force and that his job performance had never been questioned. The department now has three assistant chiefs: one Hispanic, Leo Enriquez, who replaced Ortiz; and two whites, including acting Assistant Chief Julie O'Brien.

In his suit, Piatt said Knee told a group of commanders in a January 2006 meeting that he would "exercise his prerogative to maintain the racial balance" among assistant police chiefs. "The Austin Police Department has a longstanding policy of employing racial set-asides for positions of police chief," the suit said. "This policy, in existence since at least the mid-1990s, is unwritten, unjustified and unlawful."

City spokesman Gene Acuna said city officials are aware of Piatt's lawsuit and are reviewing it. The suit also claims that Austin City Council members weigh in on assistant chief appointments, which is in violation of the city charter. Piatt declined to comment on the lawsuit Wednesday. He said Acevedo was named as a "replacement defendant" for Knee, who is now working as a mentor to the minister of the interior in Afghanistan.


Black racism in Mississippi

A federal judge has ruled that a majority black county in eastern Mississippi violated whites' voting rights in what prosecutors said was the first lawsuit to use the Voting Rights Act on behalf of whites. U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee ruled late Friday that Noxubee County Democratic Party leader Ike Brown and the county Democratic Executive Committee "manipulated the political process in ways specifically intended and designed to impair and impede participation of white voters and to dilute their votes."

The Justice Department accused Brown of trying to limit whites' participation in local elections in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, written to protect racial minorities when Southern states strictly enforced segregation. "Every American has the right to vote free from racial discrimination," said Wan J. Kim, assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. "The court's ruling is another victory in the department's vigorous efforts to protect the voting rights of all Americans," Kim said.

Noxubee County is a rural area along the Alabama line with a population of about 12,500, of whom 70 percent are black. Brown did not immediately return calls Saturday from The Associated Press seeking comment. The Justice Department alleged in the 2006 lawsuit that Noxubee County blacks tried to shut whites out of the voting process. Brown had claimed the Justice Department was misconstruing as racial intimidation his attempts to keep Republicans from voting in Democratic primaries.

Lee, who presided over the case without a jury, gave attorneys on both sides until July 29 to file briefs suggesting how to end the discrimination. The case was a civil matter carrying no criminal penalties, but defendants who violate Lee's final order could face contempt of court charges and fines, prosecutors said.

Ricky Walker, who is white and the county's prosecuting attorney, believes Brown recruited an opponent to run against Walker in 2003 simply because of Walker's race. "We're glad to be getting it over with so we move on and get to the point where maybe we can just have fair, honest, impartial elections here and just go about our business and not have to go through all this circus to get an election done," said Walker, who was a Justice Department witness during the trial in January. Walker, who is unopposed this year, said the lawsuit created some unrest in the county "that we were getting past ... blacks and whites starting to support people on their ability to fulfill the job rather than just strictly a political or racial basis."

The judge said there was a pattern to Brown's efforts to keep all whites out of the county's Democratic Party, including holding party caucuses in private homes rather than public voting precincts and inviting only blacks to the meetings.

Lee said he could not find that the defendants had a specific animosity against white people. "Brown, in fact, claims a number of whites as friends," Lee wrote. "However, there is no doubt from the evidence presented at trial that Brown, in particular, is firmly of the view that blacks, being the majority race in Noxubee County, should hold all elected offices, to the exclusion of whites; and this view is apparently shared by his allies and associates on the NDEC, who, along with Brown, effectively control the election process in Noxubee County."


More than geography divides America

Go West to discover the true America of patriots and humanitarians, writes Irwin Stelzer

"Go west, young man, go west," newspaper editor Horace Greeley advised ambitious 19th-century Americans as their nation pursued its manifest destiny. Well, it may have been Greeley or perhaps John Babsone Lane Soule, editor of the Terre Haute (Indiana) Daily Express. No matter the author: the advice is as applicable today as it was 150 years ago, and not only for young men.

After a stint in the rancorous atmosphere of the nation's capital, I headed west on a business trip to fulfil speaking engagements and attend meetings at Arizona's most venerable law firm, Snell & Wilmer. At one of those meetings I was reminded that Washington, DC, is not America, that patriotism and civility remain dominant strains in American life and that the American west is not the same as the West Side of Manhattan, where love of country is confined to an appreciation of the virtues of country houses scattered across Long Island.

The audience for my talk included 400 lawyers and a smattering of spouses. The session's chairman began by welcoming back a partner who had been serving with the marines in Iraq. With no prompting, the audience sprang to its feet and bathed the returnee in waves of applause. Some wept. I later found that the firm had made up the difference between the partner's military pay and what he would have earned at the firm, and that it is doing the same for a woman serving as a captain in the army in Iraq.

Flash back to Washington. Newspapers report atrocities American soldiers are allegedly committing in Iraq; Democratic politicians speechify on the uselessness of the sacrifices of our troops; and it takes a mighty battle by George W. Bush to prise funds from Congress to pay for the armour and ammunition needed by American servicemen and women.

In Phoenix and the west (for these purposes Hollywood and San Francisco count as part of the east), patriotism is considered a virtue; in some Washington circles it is thought to be the last refuge of scoundrels or something practised only by uncool rednecks.

Differences over Iraq are only the most obvious manifestation of the east-west divide. Go west and you get a sense of the possible, a sense that deserts can become townhouses, country clubs and shopping centres; that families matter so much that the baseball field includes an adjacent swimming pool for use by children too young to appreciate the game; that a vast increase in population represents hands to work rather than bodies to hasten global warming.

But you also understand why Congress's popularity rating languishes in the 25 per cent range, alongside Bush's. The President and Congress are pushing an immigration bill that includes a form of amnesty for the 11 million, or 12million, or 13 million illegal aliens, most of whom have slipped across the border in pursuit of jobs that pay little by US standards but handsomely by those of Mexico's mismanaged economy.

Arizonans are outraged. Washington lawmakers see downtrodden workers; Washington lobbyists see a source of willing, cheap labour for their business clients. Arizonans see crowded schools, increased pressure on hospital facilities, rising crime and politicians out of touch with reality. But they nevertheless create water stations in the desert to prevent illegal migrants from dying of dehydration. They would be more generous to these strangers in a strange land if experience with prior amnesties hadn't proved such generosity serves as an invitation to the next wave of immigrants. So they want a fence, about 3200km long and virtually impenetrable.

But in the end, when it comes down to one-on-one relationships, the folks we met in Phoenix are welcoming to the new wave of immigrants. That's because immigrants work and westerners are about wealth creation: building houses, shopping centres, stadiums, businesses, new schools. Contrast this with most Washingtonians, who are about redistributing the wealth that others create. When people take a long view and see a pie that is growing, they have no need to fight over the crumbs. But Washington's politicians and lobbyists have a short-term view. For them the pie is fixed and their job is to rob Peter to pay Paul, who is probably planning to rob Frank or Joe. Wealth-creation energises, redistribution saps pride.



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 July, 2007


People can get attention either from their accomplishments or from their deliberate attempts to get attention. Today, almost everywhere you look, people seem to be putting their efforts into getting attention. Wild hairdos, huge tattoos, pierced body parts, outlandish clothing, weird statements -- all these have become substitutes for achievements. Some parents give their children off-the-wall names, as if that is the way to give them some kind of individuality. On the contrary, it means joining a stampede toward showiness. You don't need a crazy name to become famous. It would be hard to think of plainer names than Jim Brown, Ted Williams, Walter Johnson or Michael Jordan.

It was what they did that made their names famous. In business, some of the biggest changes in the economy were produced by people with plain names like Henry Ford and Bill Gates. In retailing, some of the biggest names were Richard Sears and Sam Walton.

When you achieve something, you don't need gimmicks. This has been especially apparent in sports. Joe Louis wore the same standard boxing trunks as everybody else, not the wildly varying and garish trunks that so many boxers wear today. He did not find it necessary to taunt or denigrate his opponents or behave like a lout inside or outside the ring. But he scored more first-round knockouts in championship fights than any other heavyweight, and will be remembered as long as boxing is remembered. If Jim Brown had carried on in the end zone after every touchdown he scored, the way so many football players do today, it is hard to see how he could have had the energy left to average more than five yards a carry for his career.

The problem is not just with people who want to get attention by the way they dress, act, talk, or show off in innumerable other ways. The more fundamental problem is that the society around them pays its attention to such superficial and often childish stuff. The media attention lavished on Anna Nicole Smith and Paris 24/7, while paying little attention to Iran's movement toward nuclear weapons that can change the course of history irrevocably, is one of the most painful signs of our times.

A lifetime of making major contributions to the health, prosperity, or education of a whole society will not get as much media attention as organizing some loud and strident demonstration, spiced with runaway rhetoric. In a "non-judgmental" world, what is there to determine who deserves notice, except who can make a big splash?

We not only live longer today, we are more vigorous in our sixties than earlier generations were in their forties. But can you name even one person or one enterprise that conferred this enormous benefit on millions of people? The average American today has a standard of living that includes things that only the upper crust could have afforded in times past -- and some things that even the rich didn't have in past generations, like personal computers. But are the people who made that possible even mentioned, much less publicized and praised? There is not an inventor, scientist, medical researcher, or industrialist who is as well known as loudmouths like Rosie O'Donnell or Jesse Jackson. Any bimbo who exposes her body can get more attention than someone who finds ways to reduce the cost of housing for millions of people. In California, the bimbo can get favorable attention while the developer is condemned.

In short, the problem is not that particular people do particular things to get attention. The problem is that the society at large no longer has standards by which to deny or rebuke attention-seekers who have nothing to contribute to society. Do not expect sound judgments in a society where being "non-judgmental" is an exalted value. As someone has said, if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.


Good People Can Disagree (As Long as They Have Permission)

In the 2000 presidential campaign, then-Governor George W. Bush was visiting a charter school in Newark with New Jersey Governor Whitman. When he was asked about Whitman's pro-abortion rights position, Bush stated, "Good people can disagree on the issue, and I understand that I'm standing up here with a friend of mine...I respect Gov. Whitman's views and I respect her as a person."

This in essence is the "new tone" which the optimistic, and seemingly naive Governor Bush took to Washington. To this day he has not abandoned this acceptance of basic human goodness and sincerity, in spite of his Christian faith which would clearly argue against it. It is one thing to love your enemy; but it is also important to recognize that you have an enemy.

It may all be for public consumption, but you cannot be an effective leader of the free world while compromising and chumming with the enemies of freedom, both foreign and especially domestic. Peering into Vladimir Putin's soul might have been an interesting experience, but the darkness which lurks there should not have left President Bush all warm and fuzzy. Watching Bush side with Senators Kennedy and McCain on giving up our national sovereignty through the amnesty of illegal immigrants makes my head spin and my stomach churn. If good people can disagree, then it is also true that bad people can lie and seem to agree. And therein lies the heart of the matter.

Much of the muted conservative debate left in Washington loses its power because of the castration induced by the new tone. Rather than being a noble position of peace and understanding, the new tone is a mask which not only fools the public, but emasculates the Conservative defense against the Left. The Left has no illusions about its agenda, nor does it need to be nice or civil. If a Leftist politician argues for civility, he is only attempting to convince his Conservative opponent to lay down his sword, so that he can stab him in the heart, or in the back. This is the nature of Leftist argument: it is fundamentally insincere, daring not reveal its real agenda.

The most recent example of this, and truly an artful expression of Leftist propaganda, is a tome crafted by the Center for American Progress titled "The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio". Although it falls short of becoming the Communist Manifesto for the 21st century, it does accomplish a primary goal of the Left: framing the political debate and redefining the language used. Even if one could not smell the Clintonesque odor (John Podesta is CEO of the Center), one knows that this document comes from the headquarters of the Ministry of Truth.

The Left has substituted the word "Progressive" in place of "Leftist" or "Socialist" or "Liberal" because these words have fallen out of favor with the American public. This immediately creates a value judgment in the mind of the reader. After all, who could be against progress, except of course the evil Conservatives? Progressive is a word that has been successfully market tested.

The title of the study betrays the way in which the debate is framed. Rather than accept the obvious fact that people who listen to talk radio like Conservative talk rather than Leftist talk, the writers blame this market response on a structural imbalance; i.e., insufficient federal regulation of ownership. This is the Leftist answer to all problems. The market cannot be trusted because it will inevitably be dominated by a few powerful individuals, so bust up the monopolies and force the market to move in the direction desired by the Left.

Now, I could pretend that these Progressive writers mean well, that in their warm and loving hearts they are genuinely concerned about the need for balance in the marketplace of ideas. This would be the same as adopting the new tone, that good people can disagree on an issue and still have a beer together.

But what if they don't mean well? Quoting from the paper:

Our conclusion is that the gap between conservative and progressive talk radio is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system, particularly the complete breakdown of the public trustee concept of broadcast, the elimination of clear public interest requirements for broadcasting, and the relaxation of ownership rules including the requirement of local participation in management.

Ownership diversity is perhaps the single most important variable contributing to the structural imbalance based on the data. Quantitative analysis conducted by Free Press of all 10,506 licensed commercial radio stations reveals that stations owned by women, minorities, or local owners are statistically less likely to air conservative hosts or shows.

To support their sweeping conclusions, the authors of the paper assume the following axioms:

There needs to be a public trustee concept of broadcast in a commercial broadcasting enterprise.

There is a clear public interest requirement, and that someone in the federal government determines what this clear requirement should be.

There is a need for local control of the content of political discourse.

The solution (according to the Clintonistas) to this structural imbalance is to:

Restore local and national caps on the ownership of commercial radio stations.

Ensure greater local accountability over radio licensing.

Require commercial owners who fail to abide by enforceable public interest obligations to pay a fee to support public broadcasting.

All of these conclusions, assumptions and recommendations are founded on a single, unquestioned principle, that the Federal government must regulate the political content of the electromagnetic spectrum because the electromagnetic spectrum is a finite resource. I could say the same for the easements which carry cable or phone lines, the trees frok national forests that go into making newsprint, or the spaces available for billboards along the streets and highways. Where does this argument end, or why does it stop with radio? Why not television? Why not the internet? What about the political or even religious balance in our public schools and academia?

Senator Inhofe has been the only politician to take some risk and expose the Leftist agenda for what it really is, nothing more than an attempt by the Leftists (including Clinton, Feinstein, McCain, and Lott) to stifle free speech. Good people may disagree, but these people aren't good people. They do not stand for freedom. They do not mean well. They do not misunderstand the issue, nor is their collectivist heart in the right place.

This proposal to regulate political speech carries the stench of totalitarianism, and whether it comes from the Democrats or the Republicans, it is still a greater threat to our national security than the suicidal Islamic zealots who at least have the consideration to kill themselves in the process of killing others.

The new tone has now reached its inevitable climax. By showing weakness, the Republicans (starting with the budget battle in 1995) have appeased and played nice, and allowed their base to carry their water. The rise of alternative media, both internet and talk radio, has been a grass roots response to the spinelessness of the elected leadership. The Democrats have succeeded in emasculating and demonizing the Republicans, culminating in the absurd elevation of Pelosi and Reid as King and Queen of Washington DC. Is it any wonder that a hapless George Bush decides that if you can't beat 'em, then join 'em?

The Amnesty Bill has now become the battleground to determine whether or not our nation deserves to be the leader of the free world. The Fairness Doctrine (another label brought to you by the Ministry of Truth) is the weapon by which to slay the grass roots opposition. Just as the United States cannot be defeated from without, but must be eroded from within, so too the Conservative movement must be betrayed by those who have been elected to defend the gates. President Bush, do you understand?

They have failed and have joined the enemy. Good people don't disagree because there are no good people. There are only sinners and timeless truths, one of which is that freedom is good and worth defending. Our founding fathers understood this. The First Amendment could not be any clearer:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


A new hatred: Hatred of affluent parents

Parents in Park Slope, the Brooklyn neighbourhood where I live, are reeling from the latest in a series of articles vilifying them and their children. They have been described as a ‘tribe’ and ‘The Stroller Mafia’; their children as ‘narcissistic, whiny’ kids who ‘infest’ the streets of the neighbourhood, ‘overrun’ the coffee houses and ride around in their thousand-dollar chariots like ‘little Cleopatras’

Bashing Brooklyn’s ‘breeders’, as they are sometimes referred to, is nothing new. There is a small but vocal subculture of blogs that regularly indulge in rants about Park Slope parents and their progeny. Gawker.com, a local media and gossip blog, actually markets a t-shirt sporting the slogan: ‘I Hate Your Kids’. Last year, New York Magazine ran an article sending up a spat about the language used to describe a lost child’s hat on the local list serv and this month’s Time Out New York Kids has a piece entitled ‘Why Does Everyone Hate Park Slope?’. Now, with the publication of Tom Leonard’s column ‘Day of the Dad’ in the UK’s Telegraph, it seems bashing ‘The Slope’ has gone global

It’s not the snide tone of the reporting that confounds local parents so much as the notion that anyone outside the neighbourhood would take an interest at all. And that’s what makes it feel like there is something more subtle at work than lazy journalism or a crass critique of local parenting culture. It feels angry. It feels personal, and in much the same way that neighbours fight and family members drive each other crazy, it is.

Park Slope, for those who don’t know it, is a leafy, almost suburban enclave in New York City’s second-most famous borough. Over the years it has been home to working-class Italians, Irish, Latin Americans and Arabs among other groups. It began to gentrify in the 1980s and today it is positively trendy with a cohort of celebrity residents, from famous authors to film stars, and real estate values that make London house prices look cheap.

It has also become ground zero for any discussion of the evils of parenting in the United States. Children who run wild, parents who obsess about food or sleep; parents who are cliquish, insecure and judgmental. It’s not that people here are more extreme than anywhere else in the country, but they do tend to be middle-class, highly educated, articulate users of the internet who talk, blog and write books about parenting. This means that all the fears and insecurities of modern parenthood and the excesses that flow from them are played out publicly for all to see. Not surprisingly, the neighbourhood has become a reference point.

One way this often happens is through the Park Slope Parents’ Yahoo group. Over 6,000 parents are registered to participate in discussions with other local mums and dads. These can be simple queries about things like finding plumbers or tips for getting your child to start actually brushing his teeth (as opposed to simply eating the toothpaste) to more involved discussions about helping your six-year-old deal with her grandfather’s death. The list provides a sort of ‘reality check’ for parents who often feel they can’t reveal their concerns except through the semi-anonymity of their computers. An awkward moment at the playground; discussions of the pros and cons of particular vaccinations; miscellaneous concerns about the neighbourhood; all appear on the list, and are usually resolved through common sense.

Unfortunately, many of these exchanges also find their way into the press. The Telegraph piece, for instance, ridicules a woman for having the temerity to complain about a ‘delivery man she suspected had defecated or been sick - she wasn’t quite sure which - in her building’s hallway’. Several well-known blogs picked up on one father’s ill-conceived plan to charge his son’s nanny for the cost of two lost toy strollers. It’s hardly the stuff of scandal but good for a laugh at parents’ expense.

And yet, it must seem strange to anyone beyond a hundred-mile radius of New York City because the most striking thing about Park Slope Parents and their critics is that they have so much in common. They walk the same streets and share the same apartment houses, have the same tastes in clothing and music. They share the same liberal political outlook. In fact, many of the very same journalists who ridiculed parents in the neighbourhood before they had children can be found celebrating what they used to criticise.

And that’s what is so incongruous about these anti-parent polemics. They are filled with righteous ire, usually reserved for ‘red state’ voters, the religious right or Fox News. In fact, apart from slight variations in lifestyles, there are no significant differences between local parents and non-parents. Perhaps this is why it has been necessary to invent them.

There are many points of contention: parents who employ nannies are at once callous and self-centred because they ‘pay strangers to raise their children’, and recalcitrant exploiters because they don’t pay enough, do not pay on the books and do not usually offer benefits like healthcare. Newcomers to the area are portrayed as venal, entitled ‘yuppies’ more interested in increasing their property values than preserving the ‘character’ (read ethnic, cultural and racial mix) of the neighbourhood. This despite the fact that Park Slope has been gentrifying for over two decades.

But surely the most ridiculous example of the imaginary sins-of-the-parents is the obsession with the bugaboo stroller. Bugaboos, for the uninitiated, are ergonomically wonderful, extremely versatile strollers from the Netherlands. They are not overly expensive there but a fully loaded ‘bug’ goes for about $900 in the US, where they are considered status symbols.

For critics, pushing a Bugaboo is the moral equivalent of owning a Hummer. The phrase ‘with their Bugaboo strollers’ is tacked on to descriptions of local parents as an epitaph. Sometimes it’s ‘with their obscenely expensive bugaboo strollers’ just for good measure. It is eerily reminiscent of discussions of SUVs and their owners. SUV owners have been described as ‘insecure, vain, self-centred, and self-absorbed’, ‘…frequently nervous about their marriages’, and lacking ‘confidence in their driving skills’

Substitute the word ‘Bugaboo’ for ‘SUV’ and ‘parenting’ for ‘driving’ and you’ve neatly captured every prejudice about Parents With Bugaboos as well. You might think it’s just a stroller but for some people there is a greater principle at stake.

Clearly, some elements of the ‘Slope Wars’ are petty and trivial but they are interesting because of what they reveal about the nature of American life today. Lifestyle has become so central to the way Americans see themselves and relate to the rest of the world that every outward expression of a different lifestyle is seen as an affront to their own. There’s a constant tension between people with children and those without them, between parents who adopt a lifestyle based on a particular philosophy of parenting and those who don’t, between people who live in cities and those who live in the suburbs, between the religious and the non-religious.

Parents in Park Slope get it coming and going. Some critics slam them for being too much like their suburban counterparts, ‘adults walking around with tense, frozen smiles while their eyes plead for reassurance that they have succeeded in capturing the American Dream’ (5). For others, like David Brooks writing in the New York Times, it’s the very opposite: ‘Don’t they observe that… with their unearned sense of superiority and their abusively pretentious children’s names like Anouschka and Elijah, they are displaying a degree of conformity that makes your average suburban cul-de-sac look like Renaissance Florence?’ (6) In fact, the real problem for parents in Park Slope is that they are at the sharp end of several lifestyle clashes while simultaneously caught up in a destructive culture of parenting.

Sure, there are things about parents today that bear criticising: they are prone to panic about everything from school enrollments to plastic cups, liable to interpret mundane encounters or even gestures of sympathy from other adults as slights or disapproval. Most of all, the pressure to be closely involved in children’s lives risks robbing them of the opportunity to learn how to make their own way. All these are real concerns that deserve a hearing from parents and in society more broadly, but critiques that essentially criticise parents for being parents are worse than useless. They identify the wrong problems and contribute to creating the climate of paranoia that has led us to where we are in the first place.

As for attacks on Park Slope: perhaps the question is not what’s wrong with parents there but how have we got to the point where the minutiae of their personal lives can be elevated to the level of a moral crusade?



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 July, 2007

Free speech is unfair to losers

Several of my liberal friends have a funny conversational tic: Whenever the talk wanders into certain topics, they abruptly switch off --- change the subject, or urgently go off to do something else. We're friends, so I never try to push them back to that dangerous little "Eeeek!" moment. But it's just as if they have a little thermometer in their heads, and when things get dangerous, the red line goes way up and all that mercury threatens to squirt out of the top. You can practically see it happening right in front of your eyes.

That's what Sigmund Freud called "signal anxiety" --- or mentally going "Eeeek!" --- there's danger up ahead! Don't let your thoughts run that way! Because, of course, liberals are horribly afraid that they might be wrong --- about abortion, or the war, or whatever secret doubts they harbor in their hearts. It's why they have to shout so loud to drown out other voices.

All that is tremendously ironic. The Left has controlled the media at least since the 1970s, and actually even back to the 1930s. As a result of their monopoly they have lost the ability to compete intellectually --- to persuade by logic and evidence. Instead, they think that just stating their often bizarre and simply false opinions is good enough. But it's not. It is the conservatives who have been forced to think hard, to justify their ideas over and over again. Practice makes perfect, and many (not all!) conservatives have now become very skilled in stating their case to the American public. Liberals are thrown back on using personal insults, because they no longer know how to state their case; and they are afraid to think freely, for fear they might have to change their minds.

When people become afraid of following a thought to its logical conclusion, they can no longer think. Free speech is unfair to intellectual losers. That's why the "Fairness Doctrine" is raising its Medusa head again. Liberals want government-enforced equality because genuine intellectual opposition scares them. Quick, turn on NPR! (Phew, that was a close one!)

The fear of free speech is the fear of skepticism. All stagnant orthodoxies fear doubters, just as Pope Leo xxx feared Galileo, --- who was a feeble old man when he was sentenced to compulsory silence. It's interesting that the censorious Pope was a close friend of Galileo, and he may have privately agreed with him. But as Pope, he protected the Church of Rome by silencing the greatest scientist of the age. The Church has paid the price for its censorship ever since.

Every Leftist establishment in the last hundred years has exercised censorship over speech, from Jozef Stalin to Hugo Chavez and yes, even Harvard University. LINK It's that fear of its own inner self-doubt that makes the Left instinctively reach for the censor's rubber stamp --- the one that says PROHIBITED THOUGHT! in capital letters.

I have a good friend in Sweden who simply goes ballistic with rage at the atmosphere of intellectual oppression over there. Sweden is a socialist paradise only for True Believers. Political doubters are fired, excommunicated and censored. No wonder that socialist countries claim to have a "social consensus." That simply comes from silencing all the doubters, and then denying they even exist. But they are still there, all right, quietly thinking politically incorrect thoughts.

Old Bill Shakespeare knew all about the fear of one's own thoughts. He has mad King Lear ranting on the heath, and raging against his daughters who have cast him out into that dark and stormy night. So when you hear Trent Lott or John Kerry bemoan the rise of Free Speech Radio, just remember that they are listening, all right, and simply saying to themselves: O, that way madness lies; let me shun that; No more of that That's why they need to shut you up.


Left battling with envy

It's back to the '70s as hatred of the rich makes a return, writes Ross Clark

ONE of the little-remarked side effects of the September 11 attacks was the eclipse of the anti-globalisation movement. It is not easy to remember that in the northern summer of 2001, the year protester Carlo Giuliani died during rioting at the Group of Eight summit of rich nations in Genoa, the growing venom of anti-capitalism activists was seen as such a threat to society that, briefly, on the afternoon of September 11, commentators on radio and television discussed the possibility that the attacks had been carried out by enemies of globalisation.

After September 11, however, the movement suffered a precipitous decline. The May Day riots that had shaken London in 2000 and 2001 were not repeated. With the war on terror about to swing into action, taunting police in street battles seemed rather less than a good idea. With security services twitching with the threat of suicide bombers, suddenly there was the possibility that water cannons might be replaced with semi-automatic weapons.

In Rostock in northern Germany earlier this month, however, the anti-globalisers wanted the world to know they were back in business. A rally involving 25,000 protesters erupted into violence, leaving a reported 400 police officers and 520 demonstrators injured. The violence followed protests in Hamburg a week earlier. And that was before a single G8 delegate had touched down in Germany.

It is no accident the revival of anti-globalisation protests coincided with the G8 summit in Germany. It is in the German autonome -- anarchist groups of the 1960s and '70s -- that the anti-globalisation movement has its origins. Still ringing in the ears of German anarchists is the justification by Ulrike Meinhof, the journalist turned terrorist who lent her name to the Baader-Meinhof Gang: "If I set a car on fire, that is a criminal offence. If I set hundreds of cars on fire, that is political action."

The difference is that whereas the autonome were underground organisations, today's anarchists are increasingly open about their methods. You didn't need to be a spy to find out what protest groups were planning for the G8 summit. Anyone with an internet connection would have been able to read the detailed plans of where and how protesters were going to strike, such as outside the Rostock-Lichtenhagen branch of the budget supermarket Lidl, where on June 4 at 10pm, a group called the Dissent Network, along with the Andalusian union of agricultural workers, were planning to protest against Lidl's working conditions and its "ruinous price dictates".

Anyone who imagines what happened in Rostock was caused by a small rabble disrupting a larger peaceful protest and being picked on by over-reacting police should have a look at the Dissent Network's website. For a self-professed anarchist group, it is remarkably well-organised. Long before the G8 summit, it had set up two camps, one in Rostock and one outside, for a total of 11,000 protesters, complete with soup kitchens and medical tents. Prospective activists were told the object was to close all entry points to the G8 summit and were given advice as to the most effective way of doing so: you might consider, for example, linking arms with the aid of metal pipes set into concrete blocks that you prepared earlier, then lying in the street. "There is little you can do against armoured police vehicles," it goes on to advise, "but they do, for example, hate paint on their windscreens."

At Heiligendamm, too, eager members of the Black Bloc were expected -- another German born and bred anarchist outfit that was active in Genoa five years ago and that has its roots in the era of Baader-Meinhof and the Red Army Faction. Unlike the Dissent Network, the Black Bloc doesn't have a website proclaiming what trouble it intends to cause at G8. Neither does it have a press spokesman. But to give us a flavour of its ideology, one of its top brass, calling herself "Mary Black", posted the following on the internet: "It is not just that police abuse power, we believe that the existence of the police is an abuse of power ... many of us believe in revolution and within that context, attacking the cops doesn't seem out of place."

In other words, as far as the Black Bloc is concerned, cops are there to be beaten up. It isn't just the cops, either. Mary Black goes on to offer her thoughts on capitalist enterprise: "I believe that using the word violent to describe breaking the window of a Nike store takes meaning away from the word ... It is true that some underpaid Nike employee will have to clean up the mess, which is unfortunate, but a local glass installer will get a little extra income."

The vacuity of Black's self-justification defies belief. How does she know Nike is going to employ a local glass installer rather than give the work to a multinational outfit? And if Nike is going to employ the small man, what on earth is Black moaning about? Presumably, if there is any consistency in her philosophy, she ought to be praising a company that smiles on the small man.

The rise of violent protest on the Left is not wholly a European phenomenon. In 1998, Ward Churchill, professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado, published an influential book, Pacifism as Pathology, in which he castigated the Left for being too weak and implored protesters to turn violent. It was at the meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Seattle the following year that the tradition whereby anti-globalisation protesters target international political meetings was born: 50,000 rioted, elevating Starbucks to an object of hate on the Left.

Since then, Churchill has moved up a gear. Shortly after September 11, he published an essay entitled Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens, in which he suggested that the "Little Eichmanns" who worked at the World Trade Centre were not "innocent civilians" but a legitimate target: "True enough they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global empire, the 'mighty engine of profits' to which the military dimension of US policy has always been enslaved." Although little noticed at the time, Churchill expanded his essay into a book, which reached 100 on Amazon's bestseller list.

It would be easy to dismiss members of the resurrected anti-globalisation movement as a bunch of nutters. But that would be to underestimate the influence of anti-globalisation on left-wing thought generally, and not just on the fringes. It has become so commonplace to blame the oil industry for any meteorological-induced hardship in developing countries that no one seems to protest any more, even though such cheap gibes are polluting serious debate over climate change. Likewise, no one seems to mind any longer that Western clothes manufacturers, in advertisements by once-respectable aid charities, are blamed for creating poverty in developing countries when the reality is that they attract workers to their factories by paying higher wages than any other local employer.

A dozen years after Tony Blair ditched Clause IV (British Labour's nationalisation platform) and declared an end to the politics of envy, it has become fashionable again to bash big business and the wealthy. A recent debate in Britain on BBC TV's Newsnight between the candidates for the Labour deputy leadership exposed a general leftwards shift in the party's outlook. But what was most remarkable about it was that the most rabidly left-wing remarks came not from Jon Cruddas, a mild-mannered old Labour candidate who wants Britons to return to living in council houses, but from Harriet Harman, the former social security secretary and middle-class paragon. Demanding a return of the royal commission on distribution of income and wealth, she complained: "You can't have proper equality of opportunity with a huge gap between rich and poor ... Do we want a society where some struggle and others spend pound stg. 10,000 on a handbag?"

Like many of Harman's utterances, her appeal to the Left doesn't bear analysis. What about the people who sew together the pound stg. 10,000 handbags; surely the more the wealthy spend on handbags, the more they earn? It is certainly a contrast from the remark made by Harman's soon-to-be ex-boss, Blair, when challenged on equality, also in a Newsnight interview, in 2001: "It's not a burning ambition for me to make sure that David Beckham earns less money." But it is a sign of the direction in which Labour is going: away from championing opportunity for the many and not the few, and towards straightforward envy of those who have wealth.

It is a long way, of course, from playing to the left-wing gallery in a debate over the deputy leadership of the Labour Party to throwing bricks through windows at the G8 summit. But before respected government and former government ministers start showing contempt towards a particular group of people -- in this case the wealthy -- they may just care to consider who they are influencing. A little more than a month ago Segolene Royal, the socialist candidate in the French presidential election, made one of the most disreputable remarks uttered in recent times by a leading Western politician when she implored the French to vote for her or, in the event of a Sarkozy victory, face the prospect of seeing their country explode into anger and rioting. Fortunately, in the event her implied threat not only backfired, her prediction failed to materialise.

One imagines that she was not really egging on her countrymen to indulge in the orgy of car burning that struck urban France in 2005 following the electrocution of two immigrants in a Parisian suburb. She may even be horrified at re-hearing her remarks. But there is little doubt elements of the Left are getting nastier. Having regrouped after the distraction posed by al-Qa'ida, the rich haters are back on the march.


Insensitivity training: Facing the crybaby culture

Every couple of days it seems somebody falls apart due to "insensitivity." The problem has been buzzing around in our headlines for years. We all remember back in January 1999 when a group of Professionally Aggrieved Grievance Professionals came unglued after David Howard, a white aide to Anthony Williams, the black mayor of Washington, D.C., used the word "niggardly" in reference to a budget. It mattered not one iota that the word has absolutely no etymological relationship with "nigger." (It's of Scandinavian origin and means "miserly" or "stingy.") Letters were written; protests were mounted. Howard himself bowed and scraped in abject remorse like a Stalinist show-trial witness confessing to crimes against the regime. Ten days later, Howard was sacked in a rite of sacrificial appeasement to outraged sensitivity gods. Only his own membership in an Approved Victim Group saved him: It turned out that, as a homosexual, Howard was himself backed up by an entire community of Professionally Aggrieved Grievance Professionals with their own deeply rooted sensitivities that likewise demanded appeasement. The mayor therefore offered Howard a chance to return to his position. Howard refused but accepted another position with the mayor instead.

Such tales are not isolated in our culture. One can go on and on, if for no other reason than the sheer amusement of the thing. A couple of years ago, for instance, Southwest Airlines was hit with a lawsuit for racial harassment. Their crime? They do not assign seats. You simply pick a seat, and the plane takes off. So, in the final prep for take-off, one of the flight attendants came on the intercom and said, "Eenie meenie minie mo, pick a seat, we gotta go." Two African-American passengers naturally could not endure this horrific assault on their exquisite sensitivities. Lawsuit city.

Speaking of cities, Los Angeles issued a request to all manufacturers of computers to cease referring to "master" and "slave" units on their equipment after a hurt soul filed a complaint. Numerous computer manufacturers slavishly complied.

Fortunately, the hypersensitivity industry has also pinpointed the deep wells of pain opened by the Cleveland Indians and the Atlanta Braves. Particularly offensive is the heart-breaking use of the "tomahawk chop" by Braves fans. In other sensitivity news, Notre Dame recently had to fend off charges from Irish Americans doubled over in anguish by the torment they feel at the label "Fighting Irish" and the Notre Dame mascot (a leprechaun with his dukes up). The Notre Dame Observer (March 23, 2006) had to answer these charges by reaffirming offended Irish people in their okayness and assuring them that the plucky little leprechaun is "a celebration of the resiliency and strength of the Irish people," symbolizing how "the Irish have suffered through numerous hardships in their history-occupation by a foreign power, religious discrimination, famine and overt racism here in the United States have all been faced by the Irish people, and yet they persevered to become one of the most influential peoples in history." (Let me say that, as a member of America's suffering Irish-American community, I thank Notre Dame for drying my tears of outrage. On behalf of the groaning legions of agonized Irish in America, I forgive you, Notre Dame.)

Not everyone is similarly inclined to mercy, however. Sometimes the tinder-dry sense of outrage caused by our culture's gross insensitivity to practically everything threatens to erupt in a conflagration of hurt feelings. For instance, a couple of years ago a proposed picnic to honor baseball Hall-of-Famer Jackie Robinson led some 40 students at the University of Albany, State University of New York, to protest that the word "picnic" originally referred to the lynching of blacks. It turned out the protestors were what the dominant Europhallocentric Hegemony calls "wrong," since "picnic" actually comes from a 17th-century French word for "social gathering in which each person brings a different food." But the sensitivity professionals at SUNY did not let stultifying categories of "right," "wrong," "ignorant," or "informed" get in the way of their festival of emotional incontinence. The strained feelings of offended black students were in such a pitch that the university instead put out a memo asking all student leaders to refrain from any use of the word "picnic." Explained the Campus Affirmative Action office, "Whether the claims are true or not, the point is the word offended." Therefore, in publicity for the event, the word "picnic" was changed to "outing."

However, the use of the word "outing" offended-wait for it-the gay community, so the event formerly known as a picnic was ultimately publicized with no noun to describe it.

Meanwhile, in the sphere of gender and sex, terrible battles are being fought by another gathering of the extremely sensitive. From the feminist musicologist who recently announced that Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was an expression of rape, to the courageous Euro-feminists who suffer "because a man standing up to urinate is deemed to be triumphing in his masculinity, and by extension, degrading women," great strides are being made. A feminist group at Stockholm University recently sought to ban all urinals from campus, following their removal from a Swedish elementary school. Likewise, the word "history" was banned a while back at Stockport College in Manchester, England, because it contains the sharply wounding syllable "his." And few can but admire the Oscar-winning performance of Dr. Nancy Hopkins of MIT who told the Boston Globe that she had to leave the room or else she would have "either blacked out or thrown up" after then-president of Harvard, Larry Summers, suggested that there might be differences between men and women in aptitude to the hard sciences. Summers paid for this mild observation with his professional life, of course.

Every once in a while, there are collisions between various aggrieved peoples, which make the suffering they must endure all the more terrible. For instance, a few years ago Native Americans in Washington State (members of one of the highest-ranking Approved Victim Groups) decided they wanted to revive the ancient sacred mystical ancestral tradition of going out in a power boat with echo locators and lots of high-tech gear to kill a whale.

This presented the sensitive people in western Washington with an apparently insoluble conundrum: If the local media complained about the murder of our cetacean brethren suckling at the breast of Gaia, they would be imposing their Dead White European Male Cultural Hegemony on the bleeding wounds of suffering Native Americans! The depths of pain that could well up in the Native American community made strong editorial writers and TV pundits blanch with terror. But if the Manufacturers of Culture in Seattle media didn't complain, they would be letting Free Willy die at the hands of evil predatory Homo sapiens who have been raping Gaia for eons. The high-pitched cry of pain from the Green Community would be audible to our mammalian animal companions for miles. We would once again have failed to act while our Mother Earth was taken one step closer to extinction by the defiling disease that is humanity!

At last, after much deliberation in closed-door sessions, the hierarchy of values was clarified by the arbiters of correct sensitivity: Native Americans trump Euro-Americans, but whales trump all humans. Accordingly, media reports were filled with cries of anguish from the Green Community on behalf of outraged whales, but there was a moratorium on reports about Native Americans outraged over chardonnay-sipping Euro-American TV pundits telling Native Americans how to run their lives. Instead, Euro-American critics of Native American environmental destruction would only be reviled for their cultural imperialism and insensitivity when they were white sports fishermen complaining that Indian gill netters were indiscriminately denuding the rivers of all fish. For as everyone knows, people who hunt and fish for sport are a form of life lower than Neanderthals, murdering Mother Earth for the sheer pleasure of killing. No one cares what they think. Problem solved.

Of course, religion is also a rich field for the terminally sensitive. On a Beliefnet blog, for instance, a reader recently complained about the horrors of insensitivity that he must endure as a non-Christian in a religious American culture:

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.