POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH -- ARCHIVE
The creeping dictatorship of the Left...
The Blogspot version of "PC Watch" is HERE and "Dissecting Leftism" is HERE. The Blogroll; John Ray's Home Page; Email John Ray here. Other sites viewable in China: Greenie Watch, Dissecting Leftism, Education Watch, Gun Watch, Socialized Medicine, Recipes, Australian Politics. (Click "Refresh" on your browser if background colour is missing). See here or here for the archives of this site.
30 June 2006
When Sexism Claims Are a Real Hoot
You've probably heard of Hooters -- the restaurant chain known for attracting male customers by hiring waitresses who are well-endowed and dressed to show it. The firm now employs more than 30,000 people. Some would consider this a success story, but our government didn't. Not because Hooters is using sex to sell -- but because its waitresses are -- get ready -- women! "Discrimination!" cried the federal government's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The business of Hooters is food, said the government, and "no physical trait unique to women is required to serve food." EEOC lawyers demanded Hooters produce all its hiring data, and then grilled Hooters for four years. Mike McNeil, Hooters' vice president of marketing, told "20/20" the EEOC bureaucrats demanded to look at reams of paperwork. "Employee manuals, training manuals, marketing manuals -- virtually everything that's involved in how we run our business . . . "
The EEOC then issued a set of demands. First, it defined a class of disappointed males who had not been hired by the company. The EEOC said, according to McNeil: "We want you to establish a $22-million fund for this mythical 'class' of dissuaded male applicants. We want you to conduct sensitivity training studies to teach all of your employees to be more sensitive to the needs of men."
I suspect Hooters' customers are mostly men who think the firm is quite sensitive to their needs, thank you -- and that there would indeed be a class of disappointed males if the government insisted men do the jobs of Hooters girls. Typically, companies assaulted by EEOC lawyers just pay up to avoid ruinous legal fees, but Hooters fought back, cleverly, not just in court, but in the court of public opinion. Hooters waitresses marched on Washington, chanting, "Save our jobs." A burly Hooters manager dressed as a Hooters waitress posed for cameras, beard and all, demonstrating what a "Hooters Guy" might look like.
That was a hoot, and it may have worked. Lawyers representing male applicants accepted an out-of-court settlement of $3.75 million, a fraction of the $22 million that had been demanded. The EEOC dropped its demands for sensitivity training; Hooters agreed to create more jobs like busboys and managers, which didn't have to be performed by women.
Sears found itself in the EEOC's cross hairs because more men than women held jobs selling things like lawn mowers and appliances. The disparate numbers themselves were proof, said the government, that Sears discriminated against women. Sears denied discriminatiing: "We asked women to do those jobs. It's just that few women want to sell things like lawn mowers."
Is that too politically incorrect a concept for government lawyers to get? Men and women do have different interests. Go to any Wal-Mart and you'll see women looking at clothes, men in the hardware department. There are exceptions, of course, but the sexes do tend to have different interests. More men selling lawn mowers and more women selling cosmetics does not imply evil discrimination that requires armies of lawyers from the State. Show me women who want to sell lawn mowers but are being required to sell cosmetics instead -- or men who want to sell cosmetics but have to sell lawn mowers -- and we have grounds for discussion. But if the women choose the cosmetics counter, any discrimination is their own.
The EEOC was unable to produce any women who would complain that they'd been discriminated against, so Sears finally won the suit. The $20 million the litigation cost was passed on to us customers. Have these and other EEOC excesses embarrassed the government into shrinking the EEOC? Of course not. It now has 2,400 employees, and spent $326.8 million in 2005 -- millions more than the year before. Government keeps growing, and as it grows, it feeds on our money, erodes our freedom and defies our common sense.
Should we be ashamed of Western civilisation?
I was very touched by the latter paragraphs of this article
At the end of World War II, my parents and brothers, like so many British and Europeans, were thinking seriously about migrating to one of the English-speaking Commonwealth countries. Heading the list were South Africa and Australia. Both offered a stable democracy, good climate, no rationing, good job and business prospects plus, most importantly remoteness from Europe and the Cold War. I had been to South Africa: the troopship carrying me to India in 1942 had put in at Durban for urgent repairs. Officers' accommodation there was on the Grayville racetrack. For a week I had a camp bed in the jockey room. The hospitality and welcome we received made our stay a high point of our war service.
But it was not a country to which I wanted to migrate. The little of apartheid I saw - separate public lavatories for "Black" and "White"; emaciated blacks running with rickshaws ... My father took my advice - it was Australia. Dr David Corlett - author of Following Them Home: The Fate of the Returned Asylum Seekers (Black Inc. Books, 2005) and "Asylum seekers and the new racism" (Dissent, No. 8, Autumn/Winter 2002) - writes:
"Australian political culture - as exemplified by the politics of asylum - has become characterised by a kind of racism that essentialised people and groups of people not according to their physical, biological characteristics, but their cultural backgrounds. This was evident from 1999 when unrest and certain forms of protest by asylum seekers detained in Australia's remote and desert detention centres were said, by the Minister and others, to be the result of these people's cultures ..." ("Asylum seekers: an update", The Sydney Papers, Vol. 18, No. 1, Summer 2006).
In the same piece, Dr Corlett writes: "The rise of a cultural racism was a response to the anti-racist movement that had formed after the Second World War. With biological racism discredited, it was necessary, for those who saw the world in racial terms, to reframe their theories. It was not biology that prevented different peoples from living together, they suggested, but culture. The new cultural racists were able to capture the language of the anti-racist movement and package their message in anti-racist terms."
As a supporter of the anti-racist movement from my schooldays in the 1930s (how could a sane Jew be anything else - even one so far removed from religious observance, as I was then?), I am somewhat surprised, to say the least, to learn that I am now a "cultural racist".
Certainly, I confess to a number of cultural prejudices. I would be horrified to learn that any of my grand or great-grandchildren were in any way associating with people whose culture condoned sexual perversion, adultery, incest, bestiality, pederasty, sodomy, gang rape, pornography, drugs, wife-beating, domestic violence, lying, cheating, female circumcision, paedophilia, car-stealing, idolatry, atheism, shop-lifting, murder-suicide-bombing, terrorism or anti-Semitism. There are others, but you get the gist of my religio-cultural prejudices. If this makes me a "cultural racist", I stand accused.
Now I should like to put a few questions to our anthropologists and other accusers.
David Morrissey, an anthropologist, writes: "The assessment by the Alice Springs Crown prosecutor, Nanette Rogers, of the most overt human tragedy in Australia today documents no less than the decimation of a civilisation that has been in Central Australia for 20,000 years." (Sydney Morning Herald, May 19, 2006).
I too stem from a civilisation and, though it is of relatively recent origin, say 3,500-4,000 years, it has been the vehicle to underpin the rise and spread of the greatest civilisation the world has ever seen. We call it Western civilisation.
Yes, indeed, I am fully aware of its failures. How could a Jew who has lived through the Holocaust and learned of the failure of that civilisation to seize any and every opportunity to rescue the condemned not have mixed feelings about the civilisation which has nurtured his forebears for generations?
That said, however, perhaps the anthropologists and other "cultural racist" theorists would go through the list of the increasingly popular cultural practices and let the Australian public know precisely which they consider acceptable in our society; and, conversely, which - if any - would mark an intending migrant to Australia as undesirable.
When they have checked the list, which is not exhaustive, and can then assure me they would gladly sponsor an intending migrant with a police record which includes drug-smuggling, car-stealing, gang rape, membership of the Taliban and Holocaust denial, I will accept their assurance that they are free from the horrible crime of "cultural racism".
My second question demands an expert anthropological opinion on two distinct and ancient cultures: Australian Aboriginal and Jewish. According to the anthropologists, the Australian Aboriginals occupied a massive land area for 20,000 years. For 19,800 years they were unmolested and entirely free to create a great civilisation. Yet, when the British colonisers arrived, there were no schools, hospitals, industry, transport, literature ...
Within 200 years, however, the colonisers had built a highly educated population and a society and infrastructure comparable to any other nation in the world. In this absurdly short period, relatively, Australia takes its place in the world councils as an advanced society in the forefront of experiments to shift the frontiers of knowledge and government for the benefit of mankind. There is even a "brain drain" - Australians being sought by countries such as the United States and Britain to head research in various fields of human endeavour.
It is agreed that the colonisers had behind them the backing and expertise of their British forebears; but where did they get it if not from the 1,800 years of a culture rooted in the Jewish Bible and known as the Judeo-Christian culture?
Compared with the Jews, however, the Aborigines had it easy. The Jews even lost their homeland, not for the first time, 2,000 years ago. They were pushed around from country to country, mostly leaving behind their homes and property, escaping with their lives. In the ghettos of Europe, for centuries, they lived in poverty - no government welfare, schools or hospitals. How did they survive? They never looked to government for help; it would not have been forthcoming. Their religious "culture" was rooted in the written texts - Bible and Talmud. They were a literate people when such education was confined to the priesthood in other societies.
Their "culture" demanded that every Jew had to donate a minimum of 10 per cent of his income to charity, with assistance to the poor of one's own city taking absolute priority. Even in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the yeshivas (tertiary seminaries) of eastern Europe could not feed their students; it was the custom for private families to provide a student with one meal a day. Breakfast would be one slice of bread and tea with one lump of sugar.
What is the reason that, since the release from the ghettos, Jews have taken to secular education like ducks to water and, in so doing, have risen to leadership in so many fields of human endeavour? (Some 25 per cent of Nobel Prize-winners have been Jews). The suggestion that the difference is in the genes is to write oneself off as a "racist" in the original sense. To blame the government for throwing money at the Aborigines is quite ludicrous.
The reason is of course that the Jews were bound by a "culture" which demanded rigorous discipline - in their sexual lives, appetites, emotions, work, learning, social life. There was a demanding religious routine, not simply on the Sabbath, but 24 hours, seven days a week. It is summed up in the Noahide Laws - seven laws demanded of all mankind, with the promise that those who observe the laws will merit a place in the world-to-come. This is the "culture" that once underpinned the nations of Europe, hence their dominance. One need look no further than Condoleezza Rice, a second-generation Christian, to understand the meaning of the long-term greatness or degeneration of nations and the vital and irreplaceable nature of its "culture".
I should like to have taken an anthropologist with me to a small country town in California, USA, where I spent a week with my wife in the home of our granddaughter, Leah. Camarillo is an unusual place to find a Jewish community, but our grandson-in-law, Rabbi Aryeh Lang, leased a shop in the main centre some years ago and has converted it into a synagogue. Right next to the main shopping centre - no more than about a dozen shops, a bank, medical centre and supermarket - is a large retirement village accommodating 3,000 retirees who live in separate one- or two-bedroom cottages. It has everything from a golf course to a swimming pool and private TV station.
In addition to the large Jewish retiree population, there are a growing number of young families shifting out from Los Angeles. It is also the centre of a strongly Christian population, the backbone of the USA. I went with my grandson-in-law to visit Jewish patients at the St John Pleasant Valley Hospital, a five-star hospital in every respect. The rabbi is on easy terms with staff and the Catholic chaplain.
While there, I was told of a patient who had been operated on, but it was thought he would not walk again. However, he did walk down the passage, and the nurses stood in line and clapped. It was this kind of atmosphere that impressed me deeply. Many times, crossing a road, a car or commercial vehicle, approaching 50 metres away, would brake and stop to allow me to cross. Strangers would greet me.
In a supermarket, at the checkout, the girl asked me for my card which entitles regular customers to a 10 per cent discount. When I explained that I was a visitor, the woman behind me, a complete stranger, put her card through the machine for me. Somewhat dubious about accepting a discount to which I was not entitled, I could only thank her.
When my wife and I needed a doctor, and I explained that we were not covered by insurance in the US, he halved his fee by not charging my wife for her visit. I later learned, from a circular he sent out, that he was a "born again" Christian.
29 June 2006
BRAINLESS LEFTIST ELITISTS BLATHERING
On Saturday, Compass, a leftist pressure group, amassed intellectuals, unions, campaign groups and activists under the dome of Central Hall in Westminster, London, to debate a new ‘direction for the democratic left’. Such an initiative reflects the widespread disenchantment with Blairism. At the conference, speaker after speaker argued that politics needs to go ‘beyond soundbites’, and that debate needs to be about more than management-speak and PR.
The intention here – to break out of the deadlock and strike a new direction – is a good one. But the content of the conference raises questions about whether the future could (or should) belong to this leftist alliance.
A number of speakers talked vaguely about the need for ‘new vision’ and ‘new ideas’. Others appealed to building ‘networks’ or creating ‘dialogue’, as if lots of connections between different kinds of people would yield the sought-after ideas. This is a modern brand of alchemy: the notion that bringing people together to talk will transform the base matter of today’s politics into bright gleaming gold. Then there were those who called for a ‘new language’, as if we only had to change the terms and politics would leap into life.
The real problem with the conference, though, was not the vague references to the new, but the harking back to the past. A number of speakers sought to reclaim notions such as ‘equality’, ‘society’ and the ‘common good’ as political rallying cries. References to the heritage of collective action came thick and fast. Compass head Neal Lawson nodded to the previous occupants of Central Hall, such as the Suffragettes: ‘They believed the world was theirs to make.’ Geoff Mulgan, former policy adviser in Downing Street and now director of the Young Foundation, quoted Marx’s aphorism, ‘Philosophers have merely interpreted the world. The point, however, is to change it.’ This is a radical legacy indeed, but it is being betrayed now. Today it is often an elitist and conservative agenda that shuffles under the banner of ‘society’.
Lawson talked about the need to put the interests of ‘society’ above the narrow interests of ‘the market’. It’s certainly the case that the market is neither a just nor rational way of distributing resources, and different visions of the common good have in the past been pushed forward in the streets and workplaces of Britain. But who are the representatives of ‘society’ now? Who decides what is the ‘common good’?
In the absence of popular mobilisation, social interests generally get decided by committee. This often amounts to little more than reining in individuals’ aspirations to bring them into line with what the committee thinks best. Lawson talks about the problems of consumerism – but rather than offering something better than shopping, he merely tells people not to shop, with proposals such as restrictions on advertising and campaigns against supermarkets.
A War on Want stall at the Compass conference had a leaflet criticising the ‘Tescopoly’, which was also supported by organisations such as Friends of the Earth and the New Economics Foundation. Certainly, there are problems with Tesco, but at least its success is in part the outcome of real individuals choosing what they want to buy. Far better this than an alliance of the great and the green deciding what kinds of local shops are in our interests.
The bigger the words get, the narrower the concerns that lie behind them. Ed Balls, Gordon Brown’s economics adviser, sung the praises of new social values such as ‘internationalism’, ‘justice for everybody’, ‘collective responsibility’, and talked about the importance of ‘acting collectively as a community’. (If they talk about ‘global citizens’ or ‘unborn global citizens’, you’re really in trouble.) When the elite talks about ‘collective responsibility’ it generally means an appeal for individuals to do what it wants them to do. Attacks on the selfishness of individuals mean getting us to keep our heads down and discouraging us from being too aspirational or disorderly.
The term ‘equality’ has been stripped of nearly all its radical impetus. This battle cry from the French revolution was about people asserting their dignity and demanding their due. Now it’s used in the dry manner of a supermarket manager checking that there are no gluts in supply and demand: it’s about making sure that everybody gets their share of the pie, and that there are no disturbances. A speaker from the Fabian Society even talked about the ‘problem’ of public attitudes about equality, and the need for re-education.
People are the passive objects of inequality policies, never the subjects driving policy. That’s why the main concern is with child poverty, the model of the passive and needy being, rather than with the working men and women who feed those children.
The desire to start politics off on a new footing is a good one. So is the desire to draw what inspiration we can from the struggles of the past. But today we need to beware those speaking on behalf of society and the common good, for they could be a Trojan Horse.
LEFTIST GLIMMERINGS ABOUT THE SUICIDE OF THE WEST
Chris Smith, former culture minister and former Blair ally, could have had a nice post-cabinet life of gossiping, writing newspaper columns on ‘Why Blair must go’, advising think-tanks and giving after-dinner speeches. Instead he chose to co-write (with consultant and businessman Richard Koch) Suicide of the West, a free-ranging polemic on the decline and fall of Western civilisation.
‘It is a cri du coeur for a number of fundamental Enlightenment values’, Smith tells me, sitting in his office looking out over the Thames. These values – each of which forms a chapter of the book – are Christianity, optimism, science, growth, liberalism and individualism. ‘Here are the building blocks that have made the West successful. We are now at a fork in the road. One way lies cynicism and despair, the other is rediscovering a belief in the things that we hold dear.’
The book is a timely intervention. We are constantly told about the terrorists and others who are threatening ‘our values’ and ‘our way of life’. The challenge to the West is presented as entirely Other: barbarians clamouring at the gates with their copies of the Koran in hand.
Yet, as Smith and Koch argue, the threat comes not so much from without, as from within. They write: ‘If there is a crisis of the West…it is internally generated. It lies in the collapse of Western self-confidence…. [This] has little to do with enemies, and everything to do with seismic shifts in Western ideas and attitudes’. Larger-than-life figures such as Osama bin Laden merely feed off the West’s self-doubt: their braggadocio has its roots in a system that doesn’t believe in itself.
Years in politics have taught Smith that this is a system lacking passion and ideals. ‘A lot of modern politics is about managerialism’, he tells me. ‘It’s not about debating ideas, but about who can tinker with the existing system. In the past, politics was about hope. I joined the Labour Party because I thought that it was the best vehicle for social change, for making people’s lives better.’ Institutions and systems that once inspired passion and allegiance are now going through the motions. The bottom line for the Western elite is holding things together, keeping the system working without too much disruption. Public institutions – from politics to the marketplace – seem to float above society, ticking over automatically.
Values such as rationality or autonomy have become barren abstractions. Suicide of the West highlights the problem that liberalism has been ‘[divorced] from its ethical base’ – that is, from an individual ‘who is going somewhere, who believes in himself or herself and in their role in society’. Once rationality is separated from our pursuit of the good life, it is merely computation, a kind of A plus B equals C. Once autonomy is detached from individuals trying to develop themselves and others, it becomes merely about ‘doing as one likes’ – that indifferent version of freedom that Matthew Arnold railed against in Culture and Anarchy.
However, like the Western system itself, Suicide of the West is full of cracks. Smith and Koch can’t quite put their finger on what has gone wrong for Western values, and how that might be remedied. At points, they seem to be throwing everything into the pot. There are lots of lists of ‘important values’: ‘The essence of the West is an indefinable blend of rationalism, activism, confidence, knowledge-seeking, personal responsibility, self-improvement, world-improvement and compassion.’ It’s a sign of the fact that these terms have been emptied out, that they can be bandied around so liberally.
The ‘crisis of the West thesis’ has appeared in different shapes and sizes over the past century – from Oswald Spengler’s Decline of the West to Daniel Bell’s Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism to Juergen Habermas’ Legitimation Crisis. These theorists had a somewhat clearer vision though. ‘In the ethics of the West everything is direction, claim to power, and the will to affect the distant’, wrote Spengler. Gunnar Myrdal highlights ‘the essential dignity of the individual human being’ as key to life the West. Now it seems that we know that something is wrong, but find it difficult to put our finger on what it is.
Suicide of the West also has a strong pragmatic streak: in large part, it seems to be defending Western values because they ‘work’. The worry is that a system that doesn’t hold to essential values will breed ‘cynicism, unmitigated selfishness, indifference, re-centralisation and aggression’. Individuals need to believe in themselves, Smith and Koch write, because ‘without self-esteem, an individual can do little constructive’. They describe the six key Western values as ‘success factors’, and their conclusion gives a green, amber, red colour-coding system for how much each of these values can work for our society now. It might be true that Western values work, but we can’t commit to them for that reason alone.
We should perhaps remember that, as UK culture secretary from 1997 to 2001, Smith did his bit for the undermining of Western values. The Millennium Dome was a colossal example of the sacrifice of principles to expediency – and this was a project that Smith continued to talk up long after everybody else had abandoned ship. Yet Smith defends himself against the charge of pragmatism. He says the book is ‘about a combination of pragmatism and principle: it is about what has worked very successfully over a number of years; and it is also about what is worth believing in, it is about the enhancement of human life and the human spirit’.
28 June 2006
MARXISM IS MORE DANGEROUS NOW THAN EVER
I have heard people who have grown up in former Communist countries say that we in the West are at least as brainwashed by Multiculturalism and Political Correctness as they ever were with Communism, perhaps more so. Even in the heyday of the East Bloc, there were active dissident groups in these countries. The scary thing is, I sometimes believe they are right.
But how is that possible? Don't we have free speech here? And we have no Gulag? The simple fact is that we never won the Cold War as decisively as we should have. Yes, the Berlin Wall fell, and the Soviet Union collapsed. This removed the military threat to the West, and the most hardcore, economic Marxism suffered a blow as a credible alternative. However, one of the really big mistakes we made after the Cold War ended was to declare that Socialism was now dead, and thus no longer anything to worry about. Here we are, nearly a generation later, discovering that Marxist rhetoric and thinking have penetrated every single stratum of our society, from the Universities to the media. Islamic terrorism is explained as caused by "poverty, oppression and marginalization," a classic, Marxist interpretation.
What happened is that while the "hard" Marxism of the Soviet Union may have collapsed, at least for now, the "soft" Marxism of the Western Left has actually grown stronger, in part because we deemed it to be less threatening. The "hard" Marxists had intercontinental nuclear missiles and openly said that they would "bury" us. The soft Marxists talk about tolerance and may seem less threatening, but their goal of overthrowing the evil, capitalist West remains the same. In fact, they are more dangerous precisely because they hide their true goals under different labels. Perhaps we should call it "stealth Socialism" instead of soft Socialism.
One of the readers of Fjordman blog once pointed out that we never had a thorough de-Marxification process after the Cold War, similar to the de-Nazification after WW2. He was thinking of the former Soviet Union and the countries in Eastern Europe, but he should probably have included their Marxist fellow travellers, their sympathizers and apologists in the West. We never fully confronted the ideology of Marxism, and demonstrated that the suffering it caused for hundreds of millions of people was a direct result of Marxist ideas. We just assumed that Marxism was dead and moved on, allowing many of its ideals to mutate into new forms and many of its champions to continue their work uninterrupted, sometimes filled with a vengeance and a renewed zeal for another assault on the capitalist West.
We are now paying the price for this. Not only has Marxism survived, it is thriving and has in some ways grown stronger. Leftist ideas about Multiculturalism and de-facto open borders have achieved a virtual hegemony in public discourse, their critics vilified and demonized. By hiding their intentions under labels such as "anti-racism" and "tolerance," Leftists have achieved a degree of censorship of public discourse they could never have dreamt of had they openly stated that their intention was to radically transform Western civilization and destroy its foundations.
The Left have become ideological orphans after the Cold War, or perhaps we should call them ideological mercenaries. Although the viable economic alternative to capitalism didn't work out, their hatred for this system never subsided, it merely transformed into other forms. Multiculturalism is just a different word for "divide and conquer," pitting various ethnic and cultural groups against each other and destroying the coherence of Western society from within.
At the very least, the people living in the former Communist countries knew and admitted that they were taking part in a gigantic social experiment, and that the media and the authorities were serving them propaganda to shore up support for this project. Yet in the supposedly free West, we are taking part in a gigantic social experiment of Multiculturalism and Muslim immigration every bit as radical, utopian and potentially dangerous as Communism, seeking to transform our entire society from top to bottom, and still we refuse to even acknowledge that this is going on.
In Norway, a tiny Scandinavian nation that was until recently 99% white and Lutheran Christian, native Norwegians will soon be a minority in their own capital city, later in the whole country. And still, Norwegian politicians, journalists and University professors insist that there is nothing to worry about over this. Multiculturalism is nothing new, neither is immigration. In fact, our king a century ago was born in Denmark, so having a capital city dominated by Pakistanis, Kurds, Arabs and Somalis is just business as usual. The most massive transformation of the country in a thousand years, probably in recorded history, is thus treated as if it were the most natural thing in the world. To even hint that there might be something wrong about this has been immediately shouted down as "racism."
Eric Hoffer has noted that "It is obvious that a proselytizing mass movement must break down all existing group ties if it is to win a considerable following. The ideal potential convert is the individual who stands alone, who has no collective body he can blend with and lose himself in and so mask the pettiness, meaninglessness and shabbiness of his individual existence. Where a mass movement finds the corporate pattern of family, tribe, country, etcetera, in a state of disruption and decay, it moves in and gathers the harvest. Where it finds the corporate pattern in good repair, it must attack and disrupt." This corresponds exactly to the behavior of much of the Western Left in our age.
In Germany, Hans-Peter Raddatz in his book "Allahs Frauen" (Allah's Women) dissects the destructive attitude of Multiculturalism that is shared by many civil servants, journalists, politicians and lawyers in Germany and the EU. In particular, he documents how the German Green Party has a program for dismantling and dissolving the Christian "Leitkultur," or common culture, that so far has been the foundation of Germany and the West. Raddatz thinks that the decades of Muslim immigration are used as an instrument for breaking down the institutions, norms and ideas that the Left has earlier tried to break down through economics. From powerful positions in the media, public institutions and the system of education, these Multiculturalists are working on a larger project of renewing a Western civilization that, according to them, has failed....
Much of the political Left is simply engaged in outing their opponents as evil, instead of rationally arguing against their ideas. Attaching labels such as "racist" or even "Fascist" to anyone criticizing massive immigration or Multiculturalism has become so common that Norwegian anti-Islamists have coined a new word for it: "Hitling," which could be roughly translated to English as "to make like Hitler." The logic behind "hitling" is a bit like this: "You have a beard. Adolf Hitler had facial hair, too, so you must be like Hitler. Adolf Hitler liked dogs. You have pets, too, you must be like Hitler. Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian. You like carrots, you are just like Hitler."
Any "right-winger" can be slimed with such accusations. Curiously enough, the reverse is almost never true. Although Marxism may have killed 100 million people during the 20th century and failed in every single society in which it has ever been tried out, there seems to be little stigma attached to being a Leftist. The fact that Leftists can get away with this and claim to hold the moral high ground amply demonstrates that we didn't win the Cold War. We let our guard down after the fall of the Berlin Wall and never properly denounced the ideology behind it. This is now coming back to haunt us.
One member of an anti-immigration party in Britain stated that to be called racist in 21st-century Britain is "the same as being branded a witch in the Middle Ages." He's probably right, which means that anti-racism has quite literally become a modern witch-hunt.
The Left hurts the battle against torture, rape and other evils
When you hear the words "oppression," "genocide," "racism," or even "torture" or "rape," do you immediately recoil as you always did? I don't. While I hate those evils as much as ever, I no longer assume the term always describes the reality. For example, the liberal press' unending preoccupation with American abuses of Iraqi detainees had a number of deleterious consequences. One was a further undermining of Arab and Muslim support for America's liberation of Iraq. But the longest-lasting negative effect was probably the cheapening of the word "torture." It undermined the war against torture to characterize what some Americans did to some Iraqis in the Abu Ghraib prison -- actions that were indeed sick, un-American and shameful to our military -- as "torture." Labeling abuses as "torture" filled me with pity for all the people around the world who had experienced real torture.
I kept thinking about those whose bodies were burned, whose fingernails were torn out, who were hung by their arms in a way that broke their shoulders (a common Chinese communist torture), who were put into human shredders (in Saddam's Iraq) or who had burning hot steel rods shoved into their rectums. How did these poor souls react to seeing the Western media routinely describe humiliating and frightening naked men for the sadistic amusement of guards as "torture"?
A second example is "rape." In the past, when I heard that a woman had been raped, I recoiled in horror. Not any more. Now, my first reaction is, "What happened to her?" One has to ask that question because the feminist left has redefined the word "rape" to the point where, unless you know the specifics, you don't know if a woman was violently forced into sexual intercourse or had engaged in sex that she regretted the following morning.
For the latter is one of the definitions of "rape" that the feminist movement uses and has disseminated. That is how the figure "one in four" women having been raped was derived. And while the late feminist thinker Andrea Dworkin did not actually make the statement widely attributed to her that "all (heterosexual) sex is rape," it was a sentiment that was earnestly debated in feminist circles.
Individuals and groups on the left have done the same to the word "genocide." The term originally meant an attempt to murder all members of a racial, ethnic, national or religious group. Today, it is used to describe an Israeli attack on Palestinian terrorists that also unintentionally kills some civilians, and to describe what America is doing in Iraq and even what America has done to its black population. So, when one hears "genocide" today, one immediately wants to know who is using the term and against whom.
Even the left in Israel, the nation that arose from the ashes of the most organized genocide in history, misuses the word. For example, professor Israel Charny, director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem, told the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz: "We (Israelis) have never committed an act of genocide. We have perpetrated a few acts of genocidal massacre against a small number of people." "Genocide" against a small number of a people? What, then, is not "genocide"?
No term is more often used by the left than "oppressed." American women are routinely described as "oppressed," as are America's blacks, Hispanics and all poor people. But if American women, the freest women in human history, are oppressed, what term is left to describe the treatment of women in Arab and some other Muslim countries?
And then there is "racism." Being aware of the racism of those who lynched blacks in America and the racism of Nazism, I grew up believing no doctrine was more evil. Yet today, I yawn when I hear a member of the left use the term -- such as when Sen. Harry Reid characterized the Senate's proclamation of English as America's official language as "racist," or when whites and blacks who oppose race-based affirmative action are called racists.
One more example will have to suffice: The left regularly charges America's conservative Christians with wanting to make America a "theocracy," being "fascists" and/or being "anti-Semites." They are none of those things, and as a result, the battle against real theocrats (Muslim fundamentalists), real fascists and real anti-Semites is compromised. The tragedy of all this is that when evils are defined down, good people are left verbally unarmed when the real evils present themselves. It is yet another way in which the left, intentionally or not, undermines the battle against evil.
27 June 2006
Australian Professor lodges complaints alleging political discrimination and anti-white racial vilification
Below is a media release from Prof. Andrew Fraser dated 26 June 2006
Associate Professor of law Andrew Fraser will provide the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission today with documentary evidence supporting his complaint of political discrimination against Macquarie University.
In July 2005, Professor Fraser wrote a controversial letter to the Parramatta Sun in which he suggested that large-scale immigration from black Africa could lead to increasing levels of crime, violence and a wide range of other social problems.
Almost immediately, Macquarie University was subjected to intense political pressure from black African organisations, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and many other "anti-racist" activist groups and individuals demanding that Professor Fraser be sacked.
Soon after returning from overseas, the then Vice-Chancellor of Macquarie University, Professor Di Yerbury declared that Professor Fraser's view were "repugnant" to her, offering a series of apologies on behalf of the University to African migrant groups.
The Vice-Chancellor also sought to procure Professor Fraser's immediate resignation, offering to buy out his one-year pre-retirement contract which is due to terminate on June 30, 2006. When Professor Fraser declined that offer, the University immediately cancelled his classes and suspended him from teaching.
Shortly thereafter, the University lent its weight to an organised campaign of political intimidation aimed at Professor Fraser. It sponsored a "Racism Within" forum (really a latter-day Stalinist show-trial) where hundreds of Macquarie academics and students gathered to denounce Professor Fraser's alleged "extreme racism" in terms bordering on the hysterical.
Despite assurances from his Dean that Professor Fraser would be permitted to resume teaching once Professor Yerbury had resigned in early February 2006, the University cancelled his classes once again in the first semester of the current academic year.
The decision to suspend Professor Fraser this year was taken explicitly because his political views on race were deemed likely to influence his approach to the subject he was set to teach; namely, American Constitutional History.
Professor Fraser will be retiring from Macquarie University at the end of this week. Unlike other academic retirees who intend to remain research-active, he has been denied the status of an Honorary Associate which would entitle him to library privileges facilitating research into his next book on Anglophobia: Its Causes and Cure. That petty academic vindictiveness is the latest step in a year-long campaign of discrimination by the University against his political heresies.
In a case of turnabout is fair play, Professor Fraser also has lodged a complaint against the Parramatta Sun and its editor Charles Boag. The Human Rights Commission declared Professor Fraser's observations on black crime to be an unlawful form of racial vilification. But the same issue of the Parramatta Sun that published Professor Fraser's allegedly "racist" letter carried a signed editorial by Charles Boag asserting that it is mere "fantasy" to worry about black crime in light of the notorious record of "murder and mayhem on a great scale" committed by white Europeans, here in Australia and elsewhere in the world.
Professor Fraser looks forward to finding out whether the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission is, as advertised, a neutral and impartial investigative body. He hopes that a double standard will not be applied by the Commission allowing white Europeans to be subjected to wholesale "racial vilification" while suffering blatant political discrimination whenever they protest the loss of their freedoms and their ancestral homelands.
He is, however, not at all confident that his hope will be fulfilled.
Department of Public Law
Sydney, Australia 2109
tel: 61 2 9613 3382
Officeholders Favoring Diversity Ignore Laws They Don't Like
The South was once famous for "massive resistance." Now officeholders and civic leaders of the North and West are in the game too, this time to push "diversity" programs in defiance of the law.
The American Bar Association, for example, has been preparing to force the nation's law schools to grant racial preferences in admissions that would clearly violate the law. But the group produced an "equal opportunity and diversity" standard saying that no "constitutional provision or statute" could stand in the way of the required compliance. (Just ignore the law, you lawyers.) It also threatened non-complying schools with loss of their accreditation. Among the provisions and statutes that the ABA apparently wanted to override were two presidential executive orders on affirmative action, by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and laws in Florida, California and other states explicitly prohibiting racial preferences and set-asides.
The ABA amended its proposed standard in the face of criticism, particularly from George Mason law professor David Bernstein, who has been analyzing and protesting the illegal ABA plan for months. Bernstein writes: "One thing that continues to amaze me is how major legal institutions, staffed by lawyers who presumably know the law, are consistently willing to brazenly announce their defiance of the law in the name of diversity."
The most "massive resistance" in the name of diversity has been the broad and scandalous refusal to abide by California's Proposition 209, which bans preferences and quotas in state jobs, hiring and education. Mayors, city attorneys and even judges have avoided the clear wording and intent of Prop 209. Defiance is often cloaked as an "outreach effort" or as "comprehensive reform," a term used by some state universities to favor students of certain ethnic backgrounds despite low SAT scores.
Sometimes defiance is out in the open. San Francisco made no bones about its lawbreaking. Both the city attorney and Willie Brown, when he was mayor, declared that since a majority of city voters had cast their ballots against Prop 209, San Francisco needn't comply with it. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, a civic problem all by himself, has refused to push for compliance. Instead he has appeared in court on the side of the lawbreakers.
After the first six years of efforts to get civic leaders interested in obeying the law, "playing favorites by color remains official policy in some of California's largest bureaucracies," says an article on FrontPageMag.com. Same thing in Seattle after Initiative 200 banned preferences in Washington state. The mayor of Seattle was not swayed. He prepared a fresh batch of preferences, and a councilman said, "I'm not sure I care if we're in compliance" with the law. Whatever. It's only a law.
A similar pattern of resistance greeted the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, a version of Prop 209 and I-200. The resisters, including a group with a telltale name, By Any Means Necessary, are fighting to keep the public from voting on the issue. At one point the board of state canvassers refused to put MCRI on the ballot, despite a court order to do so.
The current mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, came to the nation's attention by illegally marrying gay couples. Now he is promising another adventure in lawbreaking. In April, he and the entire city board of supervisors urged San Francisco law enforcement not to comply with criminal provisions of any new immigration bill. "If people think we were defiant on the gay marriage issue, they haven't seen defiance," he said.
Another wave of resistance may be forming in Massachusetts, this time to protect sex lessons in public schools, particularly lessons on homosexuality. So much material on sex was appearing in lower grades of schools that parents fought for, and got, a state law allowing a child to be excused when these lessons came up. But in a highly publicized case in Lexington involving a kindergarten boy and gay sexuality, the school system refused to allow the opt-out. Superintendent Paul Ash said, "We couldn't run a school if every parent who feels some topic is objectionable to them for moral or religious reasons decides their child should be removed."
The man who wrote the law, Brain Camenker of the conservative Article 8 Alliance, said the school system justified ignoring it by willfully misinterpreting the language used in the law.
Why is the new resistance occurring? One factor is that many of the people involved have a personal history of activism and see their current posts as opportunities to promote their causes. They often have romantic views of lawbreaking derived from the civil rights movement and the in-your-face activism of the 1960s. Traditionally, officeholders are expected to resign if they cannot bring themselves to obey the law. The resisters don't feel that way. Often they see themselves as prophetic figures working against sluggish majorities to produce a better future. Save us from visionaries who think they are entitled to break the law.
The country that hates itself
The sense of shock in Canada following the arrest of 17 Muslims charged with plotting acts of terror against their fellow Canadians rings a horribly familiar bell in Britain. In the wake of the London bombings last July by young British Muslims, Britons have found it hard to accept that boys who had been born in Britain, who as often as not came from middle class homes, had been to mainstream schools and university and held down good jobs, could turn into human bombs. Britain's experience has much to teach Canada. Despite some differences between the two countries - Britain's Muslim population is larger than Canada's, for example - there are many points of similarity.
In particular, both Canada and Britain need to face the fact that multiculturalism, which for both countries is an article of faith, has brought havoc in its wake. This doctrine holds that all minority cultures must enjoy equal status with the majority, and that any attempt to impose the majority culture over those of minorities is by definition racist. It has helped create a cultural vacuum into which has roared militant Islamism - the interpretation of Islam that preaches holy war. Multiculturalism not only creates the environment in which this clerical fascism can flourish but - crucially - also undermines our ability to defend ourselves against it.
Like Canada, Britain prides itself on being a tolerant society committed to minority rights. Yet in the wake of the July bombings, the U.K. government estimated that 26% of Britain's 1.6 million Muslims felt no loyalty to Britain, 3,000 had passed through al Qaeda camps and up to 16,000 were either actively engaged in or supported terrorist activity. Although hundreds of thousands of British Muslims have no truck with either Islamist extremism or terror, these numbers were astounding. Britain had turned into `Londonistan' - the European hub of al-Qaeda.
In the wake of the London bombings, people came up with a litany of excuses - such as the war in Iraq, poverty or Islamophobia - to explain what had happened. There was a widespread determination to avoid discussion of the actual cause: religious fanaticism. The orthodoxy of minority rights means any criticism of minorities is deemed unsayable.
Multiculturalism has exacerbated the alienation that has left so many British Muslims vulnerable to the siren song of jihad. In addition, Britain has been unravelling its identity for decades, and multiculturalism has been the outcome. Since World War Two, Britain's elite has suffered from a collective collapse of cultural nerve. Many things contributed: postwar exhaustion, the collapse of the British Empire (and therefore of national purpose), and post-colonial flagellatory guilt of the kind that white western liberals have made their specialty.
This left the British establishment vulnerable to the revolutionary ideology of the New Left, at the core of which lay a hatred of western society. As a consequence, the British elite decided not only that the British nation was an embarrassment but also that the very idea of the nation was an anachronism. Britain had to be unravelled and a new world order constructed from principles untainted by the particulars of national culture.
So schools no longer transmitted the British national story and the country's bedrock values. Immigrant children were taught instead that their culture was the community they came from, and children were left in ignorance of British history and taught that their values were whatever they wanted them to be. Instead of principles rooted in British law, religion and history, Britain subscribed to the doctrine of universalism expressed through human rights law, and placed its faith in transnational institutions such as the UN, International Criminal Court or European Court of Justice as the major sources of legitimacy. Only the universal and the nation-busting could be innocent of prejudice.
Far from promoting equality, however, this approach fashioned minority rights into a deadly weapon. For if all values have equal status, majority values get knocked off their pedestal. So the very idea of the nation as an overarching framework of shared and binding values and obligations is undermined.
This has had a number of calamitous consequences. Remaking the nation gave rise to a collapse of immigration controls. Illegal immigrants simply vanished into British society. The chaos resulting from this loss of border controls made security impossible, since the intelligence service didn't know who was in the country. Anyone who questioned the desirability of such trends was vilified. Mass immigration was held to be an absolute good, not least because it destroyed Britain's white character. Multiculturalism became the driving force of British life, ruthlessly policed by an army of bureaucrats enforcing a doctrine of state-mandated virtue to promote racial, ethnic and cultural balkanization.
This left many Muslims and other minorities stranded. The doctrine was a complete break from the earlier pattern of assimilating immigrants. Now, minorities could no longer be integrated because there was no longer an overarching culture for them to integrate into. By denying the validity of a common culture, multiculturalism reinforced those dangerous tendencies toward isolationism and hostility to western values expressed within Britain's Muslim community. How could Muslims be expected to sign up to a national project the very expression of which was now considered 'racist'?
When British Muslim youths turned themselves into human bombs, the attractions of multiculturalism suddenly seemed rather less obvious. Nevertheless, its grip upon the British psyche remained so strong that Britain was unable to condemn the mind-twisting excuses served up by spokesmen for the British Muslim community. Instead, it actually endorsed them. Thus, it was agreed that what caused the bombers to strike was lack of integration, Islamophobia and rage over the war in Iraq. But the broad public didn't ask why so many British Muslims refused to integrate; and while the Iraq war was undoubtedly being used to whip up Muslim anger, Britain didn't question the implication that any attempt by the west to defend itself would be turned upside down and misrepresented as aggression against the innocent. Here indeed was the multicultural rub, the mind-bending reasoning by which the doctrine locks Britain and Canada into the mother of all Catch-22s.
At the heart of multiculturalism lies a radical egalitarianism by which everyone's culture and lifestyle has equal validity and moral stature. The consequence is that people are increasingly unable to make moral distinctions based on behaviour. Instead, minorities of all kinds -- ethnic, religious, sexual -- are not held responsible for their misdeeds because they are perceived as a victim class. So the majority are held responsible instead.
The greatest exponents of this morally upside-down grievance culture are those Muslims for whose pathological inferiority complex it seems to be tailor-made. They represent their own aggression against the west as defence, because of their belief that the weakness of Islam relative to the west must be the result of a western conspiracy to destroy the religion. Since they therefore think that their culture is under attack, they believe it is legitimate to restore the former global power of the Islamic empire by aggressive attacks which they reconceptualize as defence.
Everything that follows is viewed through this prism. The Islamists' exaggerated notions of shame and honour mean that every slight turns into a major grievance, disadvantage morphs into paranoia and Islam itself is perceived to be under siege everywhere. The more the free world defends itself, the more the Islamists claim they are under attack. So the more atrocities there are against the west, the more the Islamists claim they are victims of Islamophobia. Truly, this is a dialogue of the demented.
It is impossible to overstate the importance to the global struggle against Islamist extremism of properly understanding and publicly challenging this moral, intellectual and philosophical inversion, which translates aggressor into victim and vice versa. Only by doing so will the free world realize that it is not enough to thwart actual terrorist plots, crucial as that is. What must also be addressed is the fanatical hatred in people's heads that drives them to such inhuman acts, and which is itself fuelled by paranoid fantasies and lies about a conspiracy to destroy Islam by the west and its supposed puppet-masters, the Jews. It is impossible also to exaggerate the fuel that has been poured onto the fires of Islamist terror by the dupes and malcontents of the western intelligentsia who themselves echo precisely these prejudices.
If we are to defeat this terrible thing that threatens us, we have to grasp that while grievances such as Iraq or Israel are used as recruiting sergeants for terror, they are not its cause. That lies in the Islamist doctrine of religious conquest. Canada, like all Western nations, should send a clear message that while Islam is respected like any minority faith, Muslims must play by the rules of the minority game. That means that our countries will not allow religion to be used to incite hatredand violence, and where this is taking place -- in mosques or madrassahs, in prisons, youth clubs or on campus -- it will be stopped. But that can only happen if the shibboleth of multiculturalism is set aside. Otherwise our culture will continue sleepwalking into oblivion.
26 June 2006
I can see it now, I think. It is on the right-hand page of a book by or about Winston Churchill, and it is a quotation by Churchill on the subject of war. Specifically, what happens to a civilized society when it goes to war with a barbarous one. I can't find it (yet), but what I remember as being the main point was that if the civilized society is to prevail over the barbarous one, it will necessarily and tragically be degraded by the experience as a vital cost of victory. Partly, this is because civilized war tactics are apt to fail against barbarous war tactics, thus requiring civilized society to break the "rules" if it is to survive a true death struggle. It is also because the clash itself — the act of engaging with the barbarous society — forces civilization to confront, repel and also internalize previously unimagined depredations. This is degrading, too.
In Churchill's era, the more civilized world of the Allies was necessarily degraded to some intangible extent by what it took to achieve victory over barbarous Nazism. For example, bombing cities, even rail transportation hubs, lay beyond civilized conventions, but these were tactics the Allies used to defeat Hitler. However justifiable, civilization crossed a previously unimagined and uncivilized line to save, well,civilization. Thentherewas Hitler's Holocaust — an act of genocide of previously unthinkable scale and horror. Who in the civilized world before Hitler had ever imagined killing 6 million people? And who in the civilized world retained the same purity of mind afterward? Civilization itself was forever dimmed.
The question is, did bombing Dresden to defeat Hitler or dropping two nuclear bombs to force Japan to stop fighting make the Allies into barbarians? I think most people would still say of course not and argue that such destructive measures were necessary to save civilization itself — and certainly thousands of mainly American and Allied lives. But if this argument continues to carry the day, it's because we still view that historic period from its own perspective. We view it from a perspective in which Allied lives — our fathers, husbands, brothers and sons — counted for more than Axis lives, even those of women and children. How quaint. That is, this is not at all how we think anymore. If we still valued our own men more than the enemy and the "civilians" they hide among — and now I'm talking about the war in Iraq — our tactics would be totally different, and, not incidentally, infinitely more successful. We would drop bombs on city blocks, for example, and not waste men in dangerous house-to-house searches. We would destroy enemy sanctuaries in Syria and Iran and not disarm "insurgents" at perilous checkpoints in hostile Iraqi strongholds.
In the 21st century, however, there is something that our society values more than our own lives — and more than the survival of civilization itself. That something may be described as the kind of moral superiority that comes from a good wallow in Abu Ghraib, Haditha, CIA interrogations or Guantanamo Bay. Morally superior people — Western elites — never "humiliate" prisoners, never kill civilians, never torture or incarcerate jihadists. Indeed, they would like to kill, I mean, prosecute, or at least tie the hands of, anyone who does. This, of course, only enhances their own moral superiority. But it doesn't win wars. And it won't save civilization. Why not? Because such smugness masks a massive moral paralysis. The morally superior (read: paralyzed) don't really take sides, don't really believe one culture is qualitatively better or worse than the other. They don't even believe one culture is just plain different from the other. Only in this atmosphere of politically correct and perpetually adolescent non-judgmentalism could anyone believe, for example, that compelling, forcing or torturing a jihadist terrorist to get information to save a city undermines our "values" in any way. It undermines nothing — except the jihad.
Do such tactics diminish our inviolate sanctimony? You bet. But so what? The alternative is to follow our precious rules and hope the barbarians will leave us alone, or, perhaps, not deal with us too harshly. Fond hope. Consider the 21st-century return of (I still can't quite believe it) beheadings. The first French Republic aside, who on God's modern green earth ever imagined a head being hacked off the human body before we were confronted with Islamic jihad? Civilization itself is forever dimmed — again.
A torrent of polarized commentary fell after I discussed motorcycle helmet laws on Sunday. (I favor free choice.) Most of those opposed to free choice focused not on the merits of helmet laws, but on my characterization of helmet activists as ''safety nazis.'' That indelicate appellation, said Barbara Richardson of Lehigh Township, ''should only be used for the most evil of entities.'' John de Planque of Kutztown accused me of ''inflammatory oratory.''
I am loath to hurt anyone's feelings, but I'm at a loss to come up with a better term. What should we call people who seek to abridge the rights and freedoms of others? Please note that most car crash fatalities involve head injuries. There are more fatalities in cars than on motorcycles, so the safety nazis should also insist that people in cars be forced to wear helmets. Will they do that? Not on your life , because nazis always want to restrict the freedom of people other than themselves.
There also were supportive letters, from as far away as Lahore, Pakistan, where Lehigh Valley native and American Consulate official Michael Eagan yearns to get back home to ride his Harley Davidson - in a climate of freedom. Rick Loomis of the Lehigh Valley chapter of ABATE (the outfit that lobbied for free helmet choice) thanked me ''for being a voice of reason.''
THE SCANDINAVIAN INSANITY
Do gang rapes boost GDP? Was that an offensive question, you say? Well, according to Sweden's finance minister P„r Nuder, more immigrants should be allowed into Sweden in order to safeguard the welfare system. However, in reality estimates indicate that immigration costs Sweden at least 40 to 50 billion Swedish kroner every year, probably several hundred billions, and has greatly contributed to bringing the Swedish welfare state to the brink of bankruptcy. An estimated cost of immigration of 225 billion Swedish kroner in 2004, which is not unlikely, would equal 17.5% of Sweden's tax income that year, a heavy burden in a country which already has some of the highest levels of taxation in the world.
At the same time, the number of rape charges in Sweden has quadrupled in just above twenty years. Rape cases involving children under the age of 15 are six times as common today as they were a generation ago. Resident aliens from Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia dominate the group of rape suspects. Lawyer Ann Christine Hjelm, who has investigated violent crimes in one court, found that 85 per cent of the convicted rapists were born on foreign soil or by foreign parents. Swedish politicians want to continue Muslim immigration because it boosts the economy, yet the evidence so far indicates that it mainly boosts the number of gang rapes. Meanwhile, research shows that fear of honor killings is a very real issue for many immigrant girls in Sweden. 100.000 young Swedish girls live as virtual prisoners of their own families.
An ever growing group of non-western immigrants in Norway is dependent on welfare. This was the conclusion of a study by Tyra Ekhaugen of the Frisch Centre for Economic Research and the University of Oslo. Ekhaugen's research contradicted the often heard assertion that Norway's labor market depends increasingly on immigrants. The study indicated quite the reverse. If the present evolution continues, immigration will increase the pressure on the welfare state rather than relieving it because many immigrants do not join the tax-paying part of the population. "Non-Western immigrants" in Norway are recipients of social security benefits ten times as frequently as native Norwegians. If we remember that "non-Western immigrants" include Chinese, Indians and other non-Muslims who are known for (and statistically proven to be) hard working, this speaks volumes of the heavy burden Muslims constitute on the welfare state.
Journalist Halvor Tjonn from newspaper Aftenposten, one of the few genuinely critical journalists in the country, in June 2006 cited a report from NHO, the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise. NHO stated that the current immigration policies were a serious threat to the country's economy. Norway is the planet's third largest exporter of oil, next to Saudi Arabia and Russia. Yet according to NHO, there is a risk that much of the profit Norway earns from oil could be spent on paying welfare for a rapidly growing immigrant population. The most profitable immigration would be high-skilled workers who stay for period of limited duration, but at the same time not too brief. A Danish think tank has estimated that the net cost of immigration was up to 50 billion kroner every year, and those were cautious estimates. Denmark could thus save huge sums by stopping immigration from less developed countries. A study found that every other immigrant from the Third World -- especially from Muslim countries -- lacked the qualifications for even the most menial jobs on the organized Danish labor market.
Professor Kjetil Storesletten at the University of Oslo said that the net contribution of immigrants to the economy was probably negative in Norway, too. "Admitting immigrants with low levels of education leads nowhere. We cannot continue the immigration policies we have followed until now," said Storesletten. In Norway, social benefits and salaries for low-skilled workers are among the highest in the world. At the same time, the salaries for highly skilled workers are comparatively lower and the taxes are high. This compressed salary structure is the result of decades of Socialist policies in Scandinavia. It leads to attracting people with lower skills and little education, but also makes the countries less attractive for researchers and scientists. Still, the agency that handles immigration to Norway, UDI, in 2005 thought that the country must make it more attractive for both skilled and unskilled workers to move to Norway. "We need more immigrants," claimed UDI chief Trygve Nordby. "Too few dare to say that we have a large need for non-professional workers as well," he said. UDI, in turn, should be able to have more flexibility in deciding cases, and process cases more quickly and efficiently.
As it turned out later, the bureaucrats of UDI were in fact so "flexible" that they had been running their own, private immigration policies, and that the agency's liberal interpretation of asylum rules had "stretched the boundaries" of the law. UDI violated both the law and political directives when it granted residency permits to nearly 200 Iraqi Kurds in the fall of 2005. A commission that probed the controversial permits blasted the former head of UDI, Trygve Nordby, and his successor resigned. More than half of the social security benefits in the city of Oslo are spent of non-Western immigrants, a portion that has grown tremendously over the years. City council leader Erling Lae warns against prejudice and states that without immigrants, there would be "complete chaos" in Oslo. Meanwhile, Norwegian newspapers are worried that online debates are "flooded with racist comments" about Muslims. One of the racist comments they mentioned was this one: "A large number of Muslims out of their own, free will choose to live in parallel societies where they speak their mother tongue, watch foreign TV, despise the society they have moved to and pick spouses from their original homelands. The only contact they have with the natives is in the social security office."
"The debate is often colored by ignorance. It is not a human right to be heard at any given time. It requires a certain minimum of social intelligence to be allowed to participate in the public debate," says Esten O. Saether, online editor of the Leftist, pro-Multicultural newspaper Dagbladet. S‘ther warns that the newspapers may have to impose stricter censorship on their online discussion forums and the comments to online articles. However, Dagbladet seems to have little understanding of why so many people are fed up with Muslims and their demands. Neither have they admitted that they were wrong in their one-sided praise of the positive effects of Muslim immigration for decades, nor apologized for demonizing the right-wing Progress Party and its leader Carl I. Hagen throughout the 90s for their "racism" for questioning the real costs of this immigration.
On the contrary, although information about the costs of Muslim immigration has been available for several years, this was a non-issue in Norwegian media prior to the national elections in 2005. Instead, they were focusing on "poverty" in Norway and the need for increased welfare spending. This in a country that is among the wealthiest in the world and which provides its citizens with the highest social security benefits in Europe. Norway's media coverage of the national elections revealed a desire for a Leftist government, said Election expert Aarebrot, a professor at the Institute for Comparative Politics at the University of Bergen. He argued that, with few exceptions, most of Norway's media leans to the left politically. "Most newspapers are what I would call politically correct. By politically correct in Norway today I mean slightly radical, urban and liberal," Aarebrot said. Nearly 70 percent of journalists vote Labor (Ap), Socialist Left (SV) or Red Electoral Alliance (RV) according to a poll, and this is reflected in the press, Aarebrot said.
Oslo will have a non-Western majority in a few decades, if the current trends continue. There are now several researchers who predict that in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, the native population and their descendants will become a minority in their own country within this century. The only question is when. Since the Islamic Jihad usually enters a much more aggressive and physical phase once the Muslim population reaches 10 - 20% of the total in any given area, this does not bode well for the future of the urban regions in Scandinavia. Will they turn out different from similar regions in Thailand, the Philippines or Nigeria?
Admittedly, part of the problem lies with the Western European welfare state system itself and cannot be blamed on the immigrants alone. Iranian Nima Sanandaji tells of his family's meeting with the Swedish system: "In Sweden my family encountered a political system that seemed very strange. The interpreter told us that Sweden is a country where the government will put a check into your mailbox each month if you don't work. She explained that there was no reason to get a job." "Although my mother got several jobs, we concluded that this really didn't improve our family's economy. During the sixteen years we have been in Sweden, my mother has in total worked less than one year."
However, part of the problem is also due to the mentality of some of the Muslims who move there, yet display no loyalty to their new countries. Immigrant men who divorce their wives according to secular law, but stay married to them according to sharia, Islamic law, represent an increasing problem in the city of Odense, Denmark, according to Erik Simonsen, deputy major in charge of administration. The result is a large number of "single" women who receive welfare support. From other countries, it is known that some Muslim men to do this trick with several women at the same time. Some observers blamed the Muslim riots in France in 2005, accurately described by writer Mark Steyn as the "first welfare funded Jihad in history," on polygamy practiced by Muslim men, paid for by French taxpayers. But also immigrants who are financially independent are cheating, says Simonsen. "80 percent of the immigrant economy in Odense is a black market economy. That's a lot, and it cannot be tolerated, because the law is equal for all."
As one Muslim in Norway stated: "I worked in a Pakistani shop, but all of the work there is 'unofficial.' Neither the boss nor I pay taxes to Norwegian authorities. In addition to this, I receive 100% disability benefits and welfare. I have to be cunning to make as much money as possible, since this is my only objective with being in Norway." Undoubtedly, many Muslims view welfare money from the infidels as Jizya, the poll-tax non-Muslims according to the Koran are supposed to pay to Muslims as tribute and a sign of their inferior status and submission to Islamic rule. In Britain, one member of an Islamic group warned an undercover reporter against getting a job because it would be contributing to the kuffar (non-Muslim) system.
One of the reasons for the low participation in the work force among Muslims is a very high drop out rate from schools, especially for boys. Although Muslims themselves blame this on "poor integration efforts" and "marginalization," some of them are actively obstructing their kids' education, lest they become too much like the infidels. Thousands of Muslim children with Scandinavian citizenship are sent to Koran schools in Pakistan and other countries, to prevent them from becoming "too Westernized." When this practice was documented and criticized by the Norwegian organization Human Rights Service, Pakistanis in Norway had the galls to ask for a school for their children in Pakistan, funded by Norwegian taxpayers. They will probably get it.
According to the Copenhagen Post, in Denmark when the country's schools open their doors again after the summer holidays, not every student is there to enter. Some schools report one in every five students missing from the schoolrooms. Daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende reported that some children had not returned from vacation in their homelands with their parents. 'When students are kept away from school start, it's a big problem for their integration and can affect the children's educational level,' said Integration Minister Rikke Hvilshoj. She said a committee would discuss methods to get parents to send their children to school from day one. 'These are children who have problems beforehand following what's going on at school,' Hvilshoj said. 'Not being there when the school year starts won't make it any easier. We need to make parents understand that if their children are to get a good chance in Denmark, they need to make sure that they are there when school starts.' Author and journalist Rushy Rahsid said she had often gone on long vacations to Pakistan with her parents as a child. 'Families go on such long trips to give their children a healthy dose of religion, culture, traditions, and family,' she said. 'If you buy a very expensive ticket, you want to take full advantage of the trip and meet the entire family.'
Not that the problems always disappear when they actually attend school, either. Going to school is no child's game for many children in Copenhagen, where beatings, kicks, robberies, and threats have everyday occurrences. The perpetrators are normally their own age. Violence and threats pose such a big problem in high schools in Malmo, Sweden, that the local school board wants to install surveillance cameras and security guards in the buildings. The city's education director Matz Nilsson said unruly and aggressive students had become a more common sight in the high schools of Malmo, the home of some of Scandinavia's biggest and roughest slums.
25 June 2006
AN UNTHINKABLE REALITY FOR THE LEFT
Post lifted from Buzzwords
Now this is strange. Melanie Phillips and I would no doubt disagree vehemently about any number of things, but I suddenly find myself inclined to defend her, or, more precisely, one of her arguments. In Friday's Guardian, Jackie Ashley interviewed Phillips about her new book. Londonistan, which addresses the rise of belligerent and literalist Islam in the UK, and the various reactions to it -- including the way in which aggressive claims of grievance are exploited to intimidate and censor.
Ashley devotes a great deal of space to Phillips' rather breathless and hyperbolic writing style, and one has some sympathy for Ashley's observation that this over-revved tone often "repels frank and thoughtful argument", leading instead to glib dismissal, at least in certain quarters. Indeed, Ashley herself promptly exploits this manoeuvre, teetering on the brink of ad hominem as she focuses on the method of delivery rather than the message.
The bulk of Ashley's critique seems to hinge on the assumption that because Phillips' commentary is often shrill and overly dramatic, one need not trouble oneself with addressing any points of substance expressed in such a manner: "At this point... I want to say, 'Blimey, Mel' and, 'Relax, old thing' and, 'You may, just possibly, be going a little over the top.' In fact, in a cheery way, I suggest that some of this may sound a bit 'bonkers'."
To which Phillips replies: "If the response to the kind of things I'm saying is to pretend that it's not happening, and worse, to characterise people like me as paranoid, hysterical, mad, this is first of all nasty stuff... but it is aimed at shutting down discussion of this completely." Curiously, this point passes without further exploration.
Instead, Ashley directs her own breathless indignation to this line from Phillips' book: "[Islamists] are fuelled by an ideology that itself is non-negotiable and forms a continuum that links peaceful, law-abiding but nevertheless intensely ideological Muslims at one end and murderous jihadists at the other." Ashley finds this shocking and, quite literally, unthinkable: "If you blinked at the word 'continuum', she means it: the British establishment is 'transfixed by the artificial division it has erected between those who actively espouse violence and those who do not.' Yes, artificial division." At no point does Ashley even try to refute Phillips' statement in any meaningful way; she simply gasps in disbelief and encourages her readers to do the same.
This refusal even to entertain some theological connection between coercive Islamism and 'mainstream' Islam is remarkably widespread, and appears to be based almost entirely on ignorance and wishful thinking. Despite her emphatic tone, Ashley doesn't explain why this reassuringly total distinction is to be assumed as a given. At no point are readers told why they should suppose some clear ideological discontinuity between those who believe that the world belongs to Islam, and would be made perfect by submission to it, and those who try to further that end exactly as Mohammed demanded.
Presumably, Ashley is unaware of recent polls by the Pew Research Centre, which found that 51% of Pakistan's Muslims claim to support al-Qaeda's aims and have "confidence" in bin Laden and his ideological peers. Similarly, she seems unaware of President Musharaff's interview with CBS News in September 2005, during which he was asked whether the US or bin Laden is more popular in Pakistan. Musharaff hesitated before conceding, "Maybe Osama bin Laden. In the man on the street, it may be Osama bin Laden." Faced with this, it isn't clear how one would neatly categorise those polled as 'radical' or 'mainstream'. Apparently, they are both.
Like so many of her Guardian colleagues, Ashley displays no knowledge of -- or interest in -- the actual content of Mohammed's exhortations or the theo-political imperatives built upon them, despite their centrality to the issue, and despite the fact such things are pointedly cited as justification by the two dozen or so jihadist movements currently known to exist. Nor does she appear to be aware that jihadist ideology is found in school textbooks in Egypt, Pakistan, Palestine, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and in every major school of Islamic jurisprudence, with only minor variations.
One therefore has to wonder if Ashley has ever paused to ask the logically obvious question: If a person believes Mohammed was the Prophet of Allah, and believes that Mohammed's teachings are divine imperatives, how does that person sustain this belief while simultaneously rejecting those who enact Mohammed's teachings, often verbatim? A serious writer might look for answers to such questions and pursue discussion to that end. Instead, Ashley prefers to avert her gaze with a gasp of impropriety.
CROOK WANTS BIG MONEY FOR "EXTRA" TIME SPENT IN JAIL:
Even though he did less time than he was sentenced to
A drugs dealer is demanding 100,000 pounds from the Government — for NOT sending him back to the Caribbean after he was freed from jail. Cocky Charlesworth Christian wants Human Rights damages because he was not deported as soon as he was eligible. He has even tried to get his claim financed by British taxpayers through legal aid.
Last night his case — yet another battle for the beleaguered Home Office under John Reid — was branded a farce by MPs. But it could open the floodgates to copycat claims from other foreign prisoners. Christian was caught trying to bring Class A drugs, thought to be cocaine, into Britain from his native Antigua. Last May a judge gave him three years and recommended he be deported after serving his sentence.
Under early release laws he became eligible for deportation on February 23 this year. But he was not sent back until Wednesday, meaning he spent an “extra” 118 days in Edmunds Hill jail in Suffolk. His lawyers are now arguing his release and deportation were “statutory”. His plea for legal aid was turned down.
Yesterday Mr Justice Newman, sitting at the High Court in London, adjourned the case until next month. The judge ordered the Home Office to produce any evidence that it was pressure of work or lack of resources that had led to the mix-up. Tory MP Ann Widdecombe said: “This sounds like a farce.” Legal expert Dr Chaloki Beyani said: “I doubt he will win.”
AUSTRALIA'S "NOBLE SAVAGES" AT WORK
Three reports below:
Rape of ten year old kept quiet for three weeks by child safety authorities
Just blacks being blacks, you know (!)
The Queensland Government is investigating allegations that child safety authorities failed to alert police that a 10-year-old girl was repeatedly raped in a Cape York community. Child Safety Minister Mike Reynolds has ordered his department's ethical standards unit to investigate the allegations that the matter was known about for three weeks before police were notified.
Acting Premier Anna Bligh said today the Government was "very concerned" by the allegations and would take every step to get to the bottom of the incident. "Any allegations (about) possible harm to children should be reported to the appropriate authorities, including where appropriate police, as soon as that comes to their attention," Ms Bligh said. "Clearly children need government departments to be acting co-operatively, whether it is Child Safety, Queensland Health, Queensland Police or any other agencies that this matter might come to their attention." Ms Bligh said the matter would be referred to the Crime and Misconduct Commission if the investigation recommended as such.
But Opposition leader Lawrence Springborg said an internal investigation would not suffice. "There needs to be a proper independent investigation of this and the information in the report should be made publicly available," Mr Springborg said. He said only two and a half years ago Premier Peter Beattie had called a state election in order to protect the kids. "If children under the supervision, or with the knowledge of the Department of Child Safety, had been repeatedly raped for three weeks ... I can just say that in Queensland things have got decidedly worse."
Inquiry into black sex abuse
The Northern Territory Government has launched an inquiry into child sex abuse in indigenous communities after allegations of pedophilia and sex slavery. The ABC's Lateline program last night broadcast allegations that indigenous men in central Australia were keeping girls as young as five as sex slaves. An unnamed former youth worker at Mutitjulu, near Uluru, said some men were were offering young girls petrol to sniff in exchange for sex. The worker said he had been intimidated by the alleged abusers into withdrawing his complaints to police. "It's true that there are predatory men in the central deserts who are systematically abusing young children," he said. The NT Government yesterday announced an inquiry into child sex abuse across the territory's Aboriginal communities, while police vowed to investigate the allegations involving Mutitjulu, where petrol sniffing is rife. "It's time to break through the fear, silence and shame about what's happening in the bush," NT Chief Minister Clare Martin said. "Too many families are being destroyed by child abuse. We must draw a line in the sand and get all the facts and act on them."
STDs rife in indigenous children
Sexually transmitted diseases are spreading rapidly through Australia's indigenous toddlers and children as the hidden tragedy of child abuse becomes a broader health crisis for the nation. With federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough standing by his claim that pedophile rings are operating in central Australia, Northern Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin yesterday ordered an inquiry into the abuse of children in Australia's most disadvantaged communities. But new figures reveal child abuse and poor indigenous health is not confined to the Territory, with the number of Aboriginal children in Western Australia infected with STDs doubling in the past five years.
According to West Australian Health Department statistics, 708 children under 14 had been infected with the diseases since 2001. And almost 80 per cent of the victims were Aboriginal. Of those, 19 were toddlers and preschoolers under the age of four. In the Kimberley region in the state's far northwest, four children aged under four had been infected with chlamydia or gonorrhoea last year. STD rates are also high in other states, as the culture of silence over sexual abuse, coupled with a lack of support services and indigenous disadvantage, continues to blight the next generation of Aboriginal men and women.
While The Australian and other media outlets have been casting light on the issue for years, doubts remain over the official response to the crisis, with the NSW Government under fire yesterday for sitting on a damning report on Aboriginal child abuse and the Queensland Government investigating claims its child safety department was too slow to respond to complaints a 10-year-old girl had been raped on Cape York.
Ms Martin is today expected to name the head of the NT inquiry she hopes will "break through the fear and the shame and the silence we see about child sex abuse in our communities". "We have failed to prosecute child sex abuse," Ms Martin said yesterday. "We have failed because we couldn't get people to come forward as witnesses. Police have done work in those communities and we can't get the evidence, we can't get people to step forward - and that's what this inquiry is about."
Mr Brough, who has called a summit on indigenous disadvantage for Monday, last night declared the victims could not wait for another inquiry to report. "You would hope that anything that is going to shine the light on what is a desperate situation is positive but what we need right now is action and that's what I hope to achieve in co-operation with the states and territories on Monday," Mr Brough said.
Melva Kennedy, a member of the Aboriginal Child Sexual Assault Task Force in NSW, said it was a misconception that systematic sexual abuse within indigenous communities was confined to remote areas. "It happens all over the place, all over Australia, not just the outback" said Ms Kennedy, who has worked in the field of child protection for the past 20 years. "I know of incidents of sexual abuse in communities in the cities, in country towns, and in the outback."
The NT inquiry was called amid a heated row between Mr Brough and territory authorities over allegations of child abuse at Mutitjulu, an Aboriginal community in the shadow of Uluru that the Chief Minister describes as one of the most dysfunctional in the Northern Territory. Mr Brough claimed his department had sent a "full report" to NT police about the Mutitjulu allegations raised on Wednesday night on the ABC's Lateline.
But Deputy Police Commissioner Bruce Wernham said yesterday that Alice Springs police had only received an anonymous fax in February that contained "general intelligence", was unsigned and written on a plain piece of paper. Mr Wernham said police had been aware of some of the allegations but could not gather enough evidence to act. He said just four cases of sexual abuse had been reported at Mutitjulu since 2002, including one involving children. "An allegation is one thing, but following that up and getting hard evidence is totally another," he said. "That's where we really rely on the goodwill of individuals." Mr Brough last night defended his actions and maintained that police were able to use information he passed on as intelligence. Police have formed a taskforce to investigate the claims at Mutitjulu.
In NSW, Attorney-General Bob Debus is still sitting on a report, delivered to the Government three months ago, on Aboriginal child sexual abuse in NSW. The report is understood to find that child sexual assault has reached "epidemic proportions" in Aboriginal communities in NSW, and is four times more prevalent than in the general community. It says the assaults have led to high levels of mental illness in communities, but that victims rarely come forward due to fear of retribution. Ms Kennedy, a member of the taskforce that produced the report, said she was frustrated at the lack of action.
Despite publicity over the Cape York case in Queensland, and claims violence has gone unchecked in the state's indigenous communities, Queensland Premier Peter Beattie yesterday said his Government had already held an inquiry into the abuse of Aboriginal children and would not convene a second one. Mr Beattie said the inquiry by Tony Fitzgerald led to alcohol management plans and that a forum and a follow-up inquiry had also fostered a new child protection system.
24 June 2006
'A White Individual' barred on racial grounds from Congress
Seeing that black racism cannot exist (according to the Left) some examples of it seem of interest
With Congress poised to extend, for another quarter-century, certain "temporary" provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, it's worth pondering some of the political mischief taking place these days in the name of "voting rights."
Take New York's 11th Congressional District, a safe Democratic seat covering several neighborhoods in Brooklyn. The seat is currently occupied by Major Owens, a black Democrat who has held it since 1983 and is retiring this year. One of the four candidates to replace him is David Yassky, a white Democrat who represents some of the same Brooklyn neighborhoods as a city councilman.
Mr. Owens has one of Congress's most liberal voting records, and there's nothing in the background of Mr. Yassky, a prot,g, of New York Senator Chuck Schumer, that suggests he would vote much differently. Even so, Mr. Owens and the three other candidates, all of whom are black, are on a mission to force Mr. Yassky out of the race. In the case of Mr. Owens, this has partly to do with the fact that his son is among those running in the September 12 Democratic primary. But Mr. Owens, the other black candidates and local black officials have stressed that their overriding concern is the color of Mr. Yassky's skin. And they're using the Voting Right Act to justify old-fashioned race-baiting.....
Representative Owens has labeled Mr. Yassky a "colonizer." Al Sharpton, ever the statesman, has called the candidate, who is Jewish, "greedy." And the New York Sun reported last week that Albert Vann, a city councilman who opposes Mr. Yassky's candidacy, sent an email to black elected officials nationwide announcing that "we are in peril of losing a 'Voting Rights' district . . . as a result of the well financed candidacy of Council Member David Yassky, a white individual."
THE PHILADELPHIA "SPEAK ENGLISH" CONTROVERSY
Jeff Jacoby looks at the issues
This is America. If you plan on responding to this column, make sure you do it in English. Wait a second -- am I allowed to say that?
Six months ago, Joey Vento posted a sign saying more or less the same thing -- "This is America. When ordering, speak English" -- at the takeout window of his popular South Philadelphia cheesesteak joint, Geno's Steaks. As a result he finds himself the target of legal action by the city's Commission on Human Relations, which issued a complaint last week accusing Geno's of discriminating against non-English speakers on the basis of national origin or ancestry. Under the city's Fair Practices Ordinance, the commission will investigate the complaint and could ultimately order Vento to take down his sign or face a fine for refusing.
The sign attracted little notice until the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story about it on May 30. That set off an avalanche of attention, with appearances by Vento on a slew of national television and radio shows. Papers as far away as Australia have taken note of the case, and more tourists than ever are flocking to Vento's neon-bedecked landmark at 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue.
For all the hullabaloo, though, there are really just two essential facts to this case, and both of them came across clearly in the original Inquirer story. This was the first: "Vento's political statement -- from a man whose Italian-born grandparents spoke only broken English -- captures the anger and discontent felt by many Americans about illegal immigrants."
And this was the second: " 'If you can't tell me what you want, I can't serve you,' he said. 'It's up to you. If you can't read, if you can't say the word cheese, how can I communicate with you -- and why should I have to bend?' " In other words, Vento's sign was intended to express a point of view on a controversial public issue -- exactly the type of speech the First Amendment was written to protect. And since he himself apparently speaks only English, telling customers to do the same was a way to keep the long lines at Geno's moving -- not to drive customers away out of bigotry. Geno's would hardly have become a roaring success if its owner had a habit of refusing to serve anyone. Vento says no one has ever been denied service for failing to order in English, and nobody has come forward to contradict him.
But none of that seems to matter to the censors and busybodies who regard Vento and his "speak English" sign as obnoxious and who are ready to shred his freedom of speech to teach him -- and anyone else with politically incorrect opinions about designated victim groups -- a lesson. "We think it is discriminatory, and we are concerned about the image of Philadelphia," declares the chairman of the Human Relations Commission, the Rev. James Allen Sr. "The issue is not whether anyone has been denied service, but that such a sign discourages people from coming -- asking for service."
But how can a sign written in English discourage people who don't know English? Anyone who has mastered enough English to read Vento's sign presumably knows enough to order a sandwich from his extremely limited menu. Anyone who can't read the sign can't be discouraged or feel discriminated against by what it says. In any event -- and more important -- since when does the "image of Philadelphia" trump the First Amendment?
In an excruciatingly careful editorial on the flap last Thursday, the Inquirer allowed as how "sure, Vento has free-speech rights. But sometimes one person's right bumps against another person's, and something has to give. Vento is running a public accommodation, just like those lunch counters in the segregated South where African-Americans couldn't get a seat. Some of the arguments that some of Vento's defenders are offering sound awfully familiar from those days. "To be fair," the editorial quickly added, "the analogy ends there. It's hard to link any actual harm to Vento's English-only grandstanding. He's not accused of actually refusing service to any customer." Then why sideswipe him with the Jim Crow smear? And what exactly is the difference between "grandstanding" and exercising one's right to free speech? If it's "grandstanding" when a sandwich maker posts a seven-word sign in his window, what is it called when a newspaper company publishes hundreds of thousands of copies of a 450-word editorial for distribution?
It is one thing to say that places of public accommodation may not refuse service on the basis of national origin. It is something much more radical to say that a sign exhorting customers to speak English should be illegal, too. Anyone offended by Vento's views is free to boycott his shop and urge others to do the same. But nothing in the Constitution gives those who are offended the right to silence someone else's speech. Agree or disagree with Vento's views, a government that can punish him for expressing them in public is a government that threatens us all.
Australia: Police must hire someone with a criminal record?
Those good old "human rights" again. Criminals have a "right" to a police job?
A Federal civil rights watchdog has found the Victoria Police and the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority discriminated against a woman by refusing to employ her because she had a criminal record. In a report tabled in Parliament, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission found it was discriminatory to refuse to hire someone to answer phones because she had been convicted of drink-driving.
Tracy Gordon applied for the job of communications officer with the ESTA in August 2003. After a typing assessment she filled in an application form, which asked if she had a criminal record. She alleges a staff member then told her she was ineligible to go any further with the assessment because she had been convicted of drink-driving. Ms Gordon claims when she contacted Victoria Police about the issue she was told the authority had a rule that anyone with a criminal conviction could not be hired.
But commission president John von Doussa found Ms Gordon was discriminated against because she did not need to reach the same standard of character and integrity as a police officer in order to answer phones. "I am of the view that if a person is convicted of an offence for driving whilst under the influence of alcohol, it does not mean that they fail to meet this lower level requirement," he said. ESTA and the police said they were considering the recommendations.
23 June 2006
Where’s The Outrage Over The Beating Of David Parker’s Son?
June 20, 2006 - The mainstream media has ignored a major news story out of Massachusetts involving a first grader who was dragged and beaten on the playground at Estabrook Elementary School in Lexington. His crime? He is the son of David Parker, a concerned parent who objects to his son being taught about homosexuality. School officials have admitted that the attack on his son was planned and premeditated!
In April, 2005, Parker met with the Estabrook principal and the director of education over the promotion of homosexuality in the classroom. He asked to be notified in advanced about any pro-homosexual teachings so he could pull his child out of the class. He then refused to leave the office until they agreed to his request. They called the police and had him arrested for “trespassing” instead. He was handcuffed and spent a night in jail before facing a judge.
Ever since his arrest for trespassing, he and his family have been the victims of a pro-homosexual smear campaign in Lexington. In this latest attack, Parker’s first grader was assaulted on the playground by eight to ten children on the second anniversary of the imposition of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts by the Supreme Judicial Court. These young hoodlums surrounded Parker’s son on the playground, threw him against a wall and began punching him in the chest, stomach, and genital area. As he fell to the ground, one of the thugs said, “Now you can finish him off.” Fortunately, one girl ran to get a playground aide to stop the beating.
My good friend Brian Camenker, who heads MassResistance, is one of the few individuals to report on this hateful assault on David Parker’s son. Where are the outcries against “hate crimes” by liberal journalists? Where are the candlelight vigils on behalf of his son? Has Parker been invited to tell his story on Good Morning, America? Of course, not. Liberal hatred directed against a first grader isn’t apparently considered “hate,” but justice directed at the son of a “homophobic” parent.
Estabrook Elementary School’s leadership is apparently captive to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which sets up programs to make schools “safe” for students who think they are homosexuals. While GLSEN may make schools “safe” for homosexual recruitment programs, it obviously does not make schools safe for children who do not wish to be indoctrinated into thinking that homosexual conduct is normal or healthy. David Parker’s son is a chilling example of what may happen to other children whose parents oppose the normalization of homosexual sex among kids. Are schools to become unsafe places for these children?
It is time for Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney to step up and be counted. He has expressed support for a federal marriage amendment that defines marriage as a one-man, one-woman union as the best protector of children. He should also put his convictions on the line by launching a thorough investigation into this hate-filled assault on David Parker’s son.
Gov. Romney should find out if pro-homosexual parents encouraged their children to beat up Parker’s son, to make sure the hoodlums who assaulted this child are punished, and to assure that all schools in Massachusetts are “safe” places for children who think homosexual behaviors are abnormal and physically dangerous. If parents encouraged this beating, they should be prosecuted as accessories to a crime.
In my view, David Parker is one of the most courageous individuals in America. He has had the courage to take on the homosexual activist movement and to protest against the recruitment of children into life-threatening homosexual behaviors. He should be honored, not vilified—and his son should not fear being beaten up on the playground.
What has happened to David Parker and his son is a frightening example of what will occur to anyone who openly opposes the homosexualization of our nation’s children. This injustice against Parker and his family must be corrected—and Governor Mitt Romney should take a leadership role in seeing that justice is done—and making certain that all children are safe in Massachusetts schools – not just sexually confused children who are being recruited into the homosexual lifestyle.
A Muslim Barbie - please!
Post lifted from Mariam Namazie -- an Iranian Leftist who loathes the Ayatollahs
A journalist recently called to ask what I thought about the Muslim barbie doll, which is properly veiled and covered up in the Islamic tradition. Doesn't it offer the veiled child something she can relate to? Please I said:
When a slave child has a slave doll to relate to;
When a child labourer has a doll which comes complete with a sweatshop;
When a girl who has been genitally mutilated has a doll with mutilated genitals;
and when a child 'bride' has a baby barbie doll dressed in white to relate to;
Then, I suppose, this veiled doll will also make sense...
That is, of course, if and when we have reverted back to the Middle Ages and full on barbarity.
The doll may help parents, the parasitic imams or Islamic states and groups impose the hejab on some girls but that does not change the undeniable fact that child veiling is nothing but child abuse.
THAT GOOD OL' RACE CARD AGAIN
Black driver is pulled up by police for a broken headlight. That's racism, of course
Orlando Commissioner Daisy Lynum, under fire for raising the specter of racial profiling during her son's traffic stop last month, today called for video cameras in police cars. The cameras would show what happens during traffic stops and could prevent officers from false accusations, she said. Lynum also said she was researching legislation meant to prevent profiling by the city's police force, but in an interview she said she is not ready to say whether such an ordinance is needed.
Earlier today, Juan Lynum, a 30-year-old attorney who was stopped for a burned-out headlight, said in a news release that his mother was proposing anti-racial profiling legislation. The release also said Daisy Lynum wanted his law firm to draft the ordinance, which was dubbed the Zero Tolerance for Racism Policy. According to Juan Lynum's news release, the ordinance would provide guidelines for officers that would prevent profiling and protect officers from "unwarranted accusations."
The proposal comes a day after angry Orlando cops demanded an apology from Lynum, saying she insulted the department by saying her son was a victim of racial profiling who might have been shot by a "white boy" officer. "Our police officers are justifiably angered by the comment, 'I just didn't want some white boy shooting my son or tasing him,' " said Jeff Williams, president of the Fraternal Order of Police labor union, which represents about 600 Orlando officers. "It is not acceptable for any elected official to make comments that are biased or racially motivated."
But Lynum, who is black, said she has nothing for which to apologize. She stood by her remark to the Orlando Sentinel for an article about a traffic stop last month involving her son.
The younger Lynum was pulled over by Officer Matthew Ochiuzzo in Parramore shortly before 1 a.m. on May 6. Lynum said Ochiuzzo initially refused to tell him why he had been stopped: a burned-out headlight. Not realizing there was a problem with the car, Lynum called his mother, saying he had been stopped as a result of racial profiling.
The commissioner called police Chief Mike McCoy at home, which prompted an immediate review by a supervisor. She also called an officer assigned to her council office, who contacted Ochiuzzo. After the exchange of phone calls, Ochiuzzo, who was on his first solo patrol, allowed Lynum to leave without writing him a citation. Later that night, a supervisor who reviewed the incident ordered that a ticket be mailed to Lynum.
Australia: Donuts winning so far
Up to 50 Victorian schools have signed up with Krispy Kreme doughnuts to raise funds, leaving health experts and parents' groups furious. The American doughnut chain -- which opens its first Victorian store in Narre Warren today -- will provide kids with cut-price doughnuts to sell to raise cash for their schools. Nutritionists are horrified the international chain is encouraging children to eat fat-laden doughnuts while the nation is in the grip of an obesity crisis.
Almost 400 NSW schools ran Krispy Kreme fundraisers within months of the first Australian store opening in 2003. A glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut has about 836 kilojoules (200 calories), with half coming from fat. A fundraising box of a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts costs $8. Schools on-sell them for $13, netting a $5 profit per box. There is a minimum purchase of 50 boxes.
A company spokesman yesterday said about 50 not-for-profit Victorian organisations had registered to raise funds through Krispy Kreme, but would not disclose how many were schools. The company will launch the details of its Victorian fundraising policy in the next two weeks.
Statistics show about 10,000 Victorian children become obese or overweight every year. Kelly Neville, from Nutrition Australia's Healthy Eating Schools program, said the Krispy Kreme fundraising was appalling. "It is horrifying. Krispy Kremes are very high in saturated fat and are larger than other doughnuts," the dietitian said. She said the fundraising program would encourage children to eat more doughnuts and contribute to the obesity problem.
Nutrition Australia recently released a Fundraising Ideas for Healthy Kids manual which lists a number of alternatives. "We have seen some schools take the risk and drop hugely successful junk-food drives in favour of staging a fun run," Ms Neville said. Obesity expert Professor Boyd Swinburn said Krispy Kreme was undoing the programs to reduce childhood obesity. "They are undermining all the hard work that the State Government, schools and parents are doing," he said. "All junk food should absolutely be banned from school fundraising."
22 June 2006
Is Catholicism now 'unacceptable'?
By Pat Buchanan
On the political roundtable "21 This Week," on Maryland's tiny Access Montgomery cable channel 21, Robert J. Smith has been a regular panelist. Introduced as a "Republican activist," Smith was also Gov. Robert Ehrlich's appointee on the Metro Transit Authority board. No more. Smith has been fired for remarks that the GOP governor considers "inappropriate, insensitive and unacceptable." What did Smith say? Did he cut loose into some racist rant using the "n" word?
Nope. One of the panelists on "21 This Week" had volunteered that Mary Cheney, the vice president's daughter who has come out of the closet, would not want the federal government interfering in her life. Smith interrupted: "That's fine, that's fine. But that doesn't mean that the government should proffer a special place of entitlement within the laws of the United States for persons of sexual deviancy."
Parsing that statement, what was Smith saying? That the feds should not intrude into private lives, but neither should the feds grant special privileges to homosexuals. Smith was also saying that, in his view, homosexuals are "persons of sexual deviancy." In short, Smith was saying what most Americans have always thought. But at the next meeting of the Metro board, he was confronted by D.C. member James Graham, a homosexual activist, who demanded that Smith recant and apologize, or be fired by the governor.
Smith held his ground. "Homosexual behavior, in my view, is deviant," Smith said. "I'm a Roman Catholic." He added, "The comments I make outside of my (Metro board job) I'm entitled to make." Moreover, said Smith, these were personal beliefs that have "nothing to do with running trains and buses, and have not affected my actions or decisions on the board."
Five hours later, Gov. Ehrlich, in a tight re-election race, fired Smith. The episode is instructive for what it says about the correlation of forces in America's religious war. To save himself, Ehrlich threw Smith to the wolves. He declined to defend traditional Christian teaching on homosexuality – i.e., that it is unnatural and immoral, ruinous to body and soul alike. Ehrlich sacrificed one of his own to appease the homosexuals and their media auxiliary, rather than defy their moral authority.
Smith was fired by a Republican governor for standing by a truth rooted in 2,000 years of Catholic doctrine, Natural Law, the Torah, the Islamic faith, the teachings of every Christian denomination and the laws of every Western nation up to the late 20th century. One has yet to hear a word in defense of this faithful son from the Catholic hierarchy of the Washington area.
As for homosexuality, where it has been prevalent – in the late Roman Empire, Weimar Germany, San Francisco – it has been regarded as a mark of and a metaphor for moral decadence and societal decline.
But the bottom line is this: What is the truth? Is homosexuality moral or immoral, natural or unnatural, normal and healthy or deviant and destructive behavior? In 1983, when the AIDS epidemic first broke onto the national scene, this writer wrote in a column predicting scores of thousands could perish: "The poor homosexuals. They have declared war against nature, and nature is exacting an awful retribution."
This sentence restated the Natural Law teaching of Thomas Aquinas. Homosexuality is against nature, contra naturam. It also said what was, by then, obvious to all. Acts that cannot be described in this publication were transmitting a dread and deadly disease that was killing homosexuals in the hundreds, and would soon kill them in the scores of thousands. Indeed, a subsequent clamor by homosexuals for a mass government education program on the use of condoms suggested they knew exactly how and why the disease was spreading.
But in a May 28 column, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times accused this writer, Ronald Reagan and the Rev. Jerry Falwell of "behaving more immorally" in the 1980s than the clientele of "the San Francisco bathhouses." It was our "indifference to the suffering of gays," said Kristof, that "allowed the epidemic to spread." Not a word of reproof – or even of recognition – may be found in Kristof's column against those who actually spread the disease that has now killed millions. Nick knows his readers.
What does all of this tell us? Our society is being marinated in lies – the lie that homosexuality is a natural, normal and healthy lifestyle; the lie that those who think otherwise are all hateful bigots; the lie that the diseases that afflict the homosexual community are the fault of an uncaring society. Humankind cannot stand too much truth, said T.S. Eliot. In the matter of Robert Smith, there was indeed intolerance: a savage intolerance of one man with the courage to declare Christian truths in the face of the fabricated and fake faith that has become the established religion of America's secular elite.
Who's afraid of happy clappers?
Andrew Denton's new documentary is being promoted as portraying evangelical Christians as 'downright scary', writes Caroline Overington
There are a lot of religious nutters in the world right now and some of them are extremely dangerous. They pose a threat to the security of Australia. At least 100 Australians - 88 tourists in Bali and 12 Australians who were in New York on September 11, 2001 - have been slaughtered either by them, or at their behest. None of these nutters, however, is featured in Andrew Denton's new documentary, God on My Side. Denton's short film, now showing as part of the Sydney Film Festival, is described in its own advertising as a "downright scary" look at religious fundamentalism; however, it concentrates not on Islamic fundamentalism but on evangelical Christians in the US, the so-called "happy clappers" who devote their lives to Jesus.
Denton filmed a group of them who gathered in Texas earlier this year not to plot a murderous rampage, but for the National Religious Broadcasters Convention, a four-day meeting to workshop new ways of broadcasting the Christian message (via podcasts, for example, or by selling lollipops with a Jesus theme). Denton zeroes in on some wacky characters, including a man who says Denton's skin is sparkling because God is spreading a kind of silver dust around the place. Another of them claims God once sent a helicopter to a cave where he had gone to drink himself silly, so he could come out and spread the word of Jesus. A third man says he turned to Christ after some corpses started calling out to him. "Did you think you were hallucinating?" asks Denton, incredulous. "Oh, no," the man replies.
Watching the film, it's difficult to escape the conclusion that Denton went to Texas to find and interview a bunch of nutters - in particular, nutters who support President George W. Bush - and ridicule them or, worse, compare them with the seriously religious nutters in the Middle East, who aren't so amusing. Denton insists it isn't so. "I didn't set out to mock them," he says. "Most of the people you see in the film, we didn't find them and set them up. They are simply the people we found when we got there, or else they came and found us." Denton says he chose to use his platform as an ABC star with a national audience and an enviable budget to examine evangelical Christians and their influence on Bush "not because I wanted to attack anybody, or because I thought anybody was worse than anybody else, but because there is so much focus on Islamic fundamentalism and so I thought, why don't we look at our side?"
Denton says he approached the task not as a journalist and "definitely not" as a comedian, but as a documentary maker, with the aim of even-handedness and serious analysis of the issues. "I tried to approach it as neutrally as possible and I didn't want to do a Michael Moore. Definitely not. I wanted it to be neutral, and I've avoided taking cheap shots," he says. He can't explain why the publicity for his movie describes the Christian broadcasting workshop as "downright scary" but he says "there's no doubt some people will find it a bit scary, and I believe that any kind of fundamentalism, any kind of absolutism, is dangerous".
Denton also says people shouldn't criticise the film for "not being about something". "It's completely unfair to say it should be about Islamic fundamentalism and not about Christian fundamentalism," he says. "I didn't set out to make a film saying this religion is bad or that one is worse. It isn't about whether it's worse than Islam or better than Islam, or who is bigger or badder or bolder. It's about looking at our culture (and) shining a light on it. "The point I'm making is that any form of absolutism is extremely dangerous, be it Christian or Muslim. Anyone who is a zealot, anyone who says there is only one word, only one law, scares me. "Why? Because terrible acts, historically and to this day, have been done by people who believe these things, all kinds of wars have been fought in the name of religion."
The Christians in Denton's movie certainly don't hide the fact that they've committed their lives to Jesus and they definitely do want to convert other people to Christianity. None, however, preaches the total destruction of other cultures by murderous means or says they want all Jews pushed into the sea. The film makes much of the fact that Bush is a born-again Christian but does not mention that Bill Clinton was also a committed Christian, or, indeed, that there has never been a US president (including John F. Kennedy, who was Catholic) who didn't have Christian faith.
Denton says evangelical Christians have a "particular relationship with President Bush. He addressed the conference three times, but Clinton was denied an invitation to address them. They have given an endorsement to Bush. They are political." He insists the link between religion and Bush "doesn't trouble me, but it's instructive to know it".
Having now made a documentary about evangelical Christians, does he plan to travel to, say, Iran, to tackle religious fundamentalism of the Islamic stripe? "It would be a lot harder to do that because it's not my language and it's not my culture, and it's harder to do in a foreign language," he says. "And this is a documentary about my culture, and so perhaps it's up to somebody from those cultures to do that kind of documentary."
A Dutch film-maker, Theo van Gogh, tried to do that in 2004, but when he released a film about violence in Islamic culture, he was stabbed and shot to death by a Muslim fanatic. Newspaper editors in Europe were this year warned not to print cartoons mocking Islam, for fear of violent reprisal. In 2002, riots by Muslims that led to dozens of deaths compelled Miss World organisers to scrap plans to stage the pageant in Nigeria.
Denton agrees that his life probably isn't at risk from Jesus-lovin' happy clappers angered by his film. "But I didn't go in there to construct a case against Christianity," he says, "and I'd be very angry and astonished, really, if people thought I was trying to justify Islamic fundamentalism or compare Christian fundamentalism to it. I absolutely reject that." However, he adds: "They (evangelical Christians) support a state (and a President) which is acting militarily all around the globe, and the greatest threat to mankind is religious war."
More contentiously, Denton also believes it "takes two to start a war" and that it's "very rare" to find a case where one side is "entirely in the right". "It's often very complex," he adds. "And history is written by winners, of course." "You say, 'What about Islamic fundamentalism?' and on the surface maybe it looks madder and more aggressive, but I think in the end any form of absolute belief, or any religious believers willing to advocate the use of force, are dangerous. "You look at Iran's President (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad. He's a scary guy and you think: What is the matter with these people, why are they so aggressive? "But then, look back 50 years (when Britain and its allies invaded Iran during World War II, and later interfered in Iranian politics) and you think: Well, hang on, if that was my country, wouldn't I be angry? Reducing things to who is right and who is wrong, it's too simplistic."
Denton has no religious faith and does not believe in God, but he respects people who do. "It's a difficult journey for anyone and it would be wrong of me (to) - and I would never - mock anybody who has found faith," he says. "It's where the faith takes you that is scary, if you allow faith to get mixed up with politics."
In the documentary, Denton describes many of the people he meets in Texas as "positive, committed and eloquent". Some admit it is "kind of goofy" to make lollipops with images from the Bible but say the people who sell such things "are trying to reach out to the world, and you can't knock them for that". One person explains that Christianity is a "big tent" and although some people are clearly focused on the supernatural or on prophecies of doom - or else use puppets to preach to children - others simply want their lives to be filled with a meaning and purpose beyond their own satisfaction. Denton also goes around asking people about Bush, saying: "Do you believe he's doing a good job?" and even the puppet in Denton's film nods yes. It's a bit silly. But scary? No. There is a threat out there, but this isn't it.
Another enemy for the food Fascists
If kids like it, they will ban it, thus making it even more attractive to the kids concerned
The escalating war on junk food in schools has targeted a new enemy -- that gooey, sugary, and often irresistible sandwich spread known to children everywhere as Fluff. Outraged that his son was served peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff sandwiches at a Cambridge elementary school, state Senator Jarrett T. Barrios , a Democrat, said he will offer an amendment to a junk-food bill this week that would severely limit the serving of marshmallow spreads in school lunch programs statewide. ``A Fluff sandwich as the main course of a nutritious lunch just doesn't fly in 2006," Barrios said. ``It seems a little silly to have an amendment on Fluff, but it's called for by the silliness of schools offering this as a healthy alternative in the first place."
The measure is sure to rile fans of the Fluffernutter, the Fluff-and-peanut butter sandwich that has long been a sticky favorite of New England children including Barrios's son, Nathaniel, a third-grader at King Open School in Cambridge. Even some nutritionists say it makes little sense to single out Marshmallow Fluff, which was concocted by a Massachusetts man before World War I and is still made by a family-owned business in Lynn. ``I've been eating Fluff nearly my entire life" said Don Durkee, the 80-year-old president of Durkee-Mower Inc., whose father started the company with a business partner in 1920, after having bought the recipe for $500.
21 June 2006
YET ANOTHER HATE CRIME HOAX
A homeowner awoke Monday to find messages of hate scribbled on his house and van with shaving cream. Eddie Godette said he woke up to find swastikas and anti-Semitic comments written on his property at 3801 N. Longfellow Circle. "It's getting to be a hate crime," he said. "When they put swastikas and they indicate what they want to do, what their intentions are, it's time that this neighborhood, that used to be the nicest neighborhood, stick together and pull together." Police were investigating the vandalism, but did not have any suspects.
Look at the picture above. A real Nazi would have put up a Nazi Swastika, not an Indian one. The "arms" of the Nazi and Indian symbols point in opposite directions
SURPRISE! IT'S MINORITY RACISM THAT IS REALLY DANGEROUS
Fridays were the most scary. 'Twenty kids would wait for me at the school gates and beat me up. Once they put me on the floor and stamped on my head. It started when I was 12.' A group of Somali boys were sitting outside a cafe on Stratford Road in Birmingham talking about their experience of school. Modqtar, now 17, was beaten up twice a day and picked on for having poor English. The perpetrators were often Asian gangs.
Five years after his family fled Somalia, the teenager was petrified about travelling around his adopted homeland. 'I have to get two buses here, and two buses back. That is four chances of getting beaten up every day. They shout at us to go back to where we came from. But they are not from here either.' His friend Mustafa nodded sagely, adding: 'We get attacked by everyone in school - Asian gangs, white gangs, black Jamaicans. Everyone wants to fight us.' Their group began laughing, yanking up hooded tops as they adopted the posture of a streetwise gang. 'This is our ghetto,' said one, lifting his hand and sticking out his index and little finger before collapsing in giggles. They were joking but there was some truth in it: 'If you get beaten up twice a day for years,' added Modqtar, 'you grow up to be aggressive.'
Across town, in Washwood Heath, three Asian boys whose families are from Pakistan were having a similar conversation. 'A small incident can set off a riot in school,' said the 16-year-old, who asked not to be named. 'There are fights every other day. If there is an Asian gang and one Somali boy, he is in trouble, but if there is a Somali gang and one Asian boy it is vice versa. Even the girls are at war. Parents are afraid to let their children out.' It is not just fists. They talk about a Somali pupil who was a victim of a stabbing. Then, just over a week ago, 14-year-old Mohammed Ahmed Hussain was knifed in the stomach as he played football opposite his school gates around the corner. The teenager, known as Romeo because of his good looks, had arrived in Britain from Pakistan last year.
Open a newspaper, turn on the television or switch on the radio, and it is impossible to miss the spate of knife crime spreading across the country: Rudy Neofytou, 19, knifed trying to stop shoplifters; Tom Grant, 19, stabbed to death on a train from Glasgow to Paignton, Devon; Nisha Patel-Nasri, 29, a Special Constable killed on duty.
Worse are the daily reminders of violence and death among young people. Mohammed Ahmed Hussain survived the attack in Birmingham but others were not so lucky. Last month 15-year-old Kiyan Prince, a promising footballer, collapsed, dying 50 yards from his school gates in north London after he was stabbed. This week a 14-year-old girl will appear in court charged with knifing Natashia Jackman, a fellow pupil at Collingwood College in Camberley, Surrey. Jackman had a pair of scissors repeatedly punched into her face, head, chest and back.
In the last month alone there has been a plethora of violent or threatening clashes between school pupils across the country. Just an hour after Kiyan Prince fell to the ground, another boy was seriously wounded in a knife attack in Hendon, also in north London. Nine boys were excluded from Downend school in Bristol after two fights during which one of the teenagers was found to be carrying a knife. In Cornwall an investigation was launched in a primary school after allegations that a 10-year-old was threatened with a knife by a classmate.
Back in Birmingham, stories about violence in school come as no surprise to Modqtar and Mustafa, nor to their Asian counterparts. Their school lives have been punctuated with fights and aggression, some involving knives, many more without. Often gang clashes are sparked by unfounded rumours. One 'riot' began because of a whisper that a Somali boy had beaten up an Asian girl.
This is not just indiscriminate violence between frustrated youth. It is a new form of vicious racism that breaks down the traditional notion of white on black violence. Now there is hate and distrust between ethnic groups: white, Asian, Afro-Caribbean, African and those from the Middle East. Comments once associated with far-right white groups can now be heard among the long-established immigrant communities. They fear the new arrivals in the same way they were once feared. Those feelings permeate down to their children.
A hard-hitting documentary made for teachers will be broadcast tomorrow, revealing the true level of inter-racial tension inside the school gates. Dealing with Race - on Teachers' TV - will show how small altercations can spark mass fights. In one scene an assistant headteacher from John Kelly Boys' Technology College in London talks about a battle where up to 100 pupils ganged up on a few Afghan boys. 'A group of people were fighting each other almost indiscriminately,' says Richard Ockan. To help newer groups of immigrants to integrate, John Kelly Boys' has started running Saturday sessions for local families. It has already been successful in helping Somali youth integrate, and now the school is hoping it will do the same for the new Afghan population.
Nooralhaq Nasimi, spokesman for the Afghan Community Organisation of London, said youngsters needed to be given more protection by the police and the Home Office, adding that they were constantly being singled out for attack by more established ethnic minority groups. He said that schools had become increasingly dangerous. 'We need a safe environment in our schools in order to tackle bullying and conflict among ethnic minorities,' he said, adding that the knife culture was terrifying parents.
Senior police officers who are monitoring inter-community tensions are increasingly aware of an evolving hierarchy of violence between ethnic groups. Rob Beckley, the spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers on police and faith community issues, said that a form of inter-ethnic violence had developed, with newly arrived immigrants the most targeted and most vulnerable. 'There is at least one incident a week of serious disturbances based around schools among groups, sometimes inter-ethnic, sometimes gangs. It is an issue significant enough to merit substantial police intervention on occasion.' Beckley, also assistant chief constable of Hertfordshire, said that some school-based gangs were adopting an aggressive stance based on religious and cultural identities.
In the past month police have responded to four major outbreaks of violence in Britain's inner cities involving young people from differing backgrounds. 'These are significant incidents that might set a trend in the surrounding community,' said Beckley. 'The carrying of knives is causing problems and carries big consequences.'
The most senior police officers monitoring Britain's complex and constantly shifting race relations say that the Somali community, in particular, has been subject to violent attack by other ethnic groups. 'Disturbances affecting the Somali community have been recorded from Plymouth right up to Glasgow,' said Beckley. 'A lot of the Somali families came over in the early Nineties, compared to some of the Asian and black communities who are now third generation and well established. There is a real vulnerability about the most newly arrived.'
The myths about the new communities are perpetuated across the country. In Washwood Heath, young Asian people talk about perceptions of the newcomers that were once used to alienate them. 'They are taking all our housing,' said one boy. 'They fill them with kids,' added another. 'They smell.' A nearby park has been labelled 'Somalia village' and is avoided by youths of other ethnic minority backgrounds.
But they too are victims of crime. 'It is complicated - there is not one pattern, not one trend and not one answer,' said Simon Blake from the National Children's Bureau. 'But we have to bust these myths about who gets the best housing and how resources are allocated.' He said he had been in a school recently where African-Caribbean boys were picking on African boys. The first group, he argued, had 'currency' because of the credibility around their clothing and music. However, Blake praised pro-active action across the country.
The Washwood Heath Youth Inclusion Programme (YIP) is running a conference to tackle the problem at the request of three schools. 'Hear my Voice' aims to promote inter-ethnic dialogue. 'This issue arises because it is a high density area,' said Farrukh Haroon, a project worker at the YIP. 'Communities are scrapping for scarce resources and due to an irresponsible media misperceptions are bred.' Three teenagers, Usman, Yasser and Iksar, all 16, are helping to organise the conference. All three see fights daily in and out of school but want to help the two communities to get on. 'The religion may help as we are all Muslim,' said Yasser. 'I hope that things change in the future.' ...
WOMEN IN THE MILITARY
A small excerpt
Military leaders from their first days in training are steeped in a culture that accepts and believes in civilian control. And they are doers. A policy that was strongly opposed while under consideration will be just as strongly implemented once it is decided upon. Furthermore, generals at the three-star level are selected with (at a minimum) heavy participation from the civilian leadership, and those at the four-star level are chosen at the complete discretion of civilians, allowing politicians to shape the top levels of military leadership. When, as in the present administration, views on the expansion of female roles become a litmus test for advancement, arguments questioning accepted political wisdom are not conducive to the possibility of reaching the very highest levels.
With little support from the outside, and in a culture that demands performance, those "in the ranks" have learned that pointing out the difficulties inherent in an undertaking as politically volatile as the assimilation of women will quickly end a career. At the same time, enormous pressure is exerted on them to accentuate the positive aspects of this social experiment and ignore or diminish the negative. But male members of the military know that things aren't that simple. As is always true when people are asked to believe in and promote an image they know to be untrue, cynicism soon explodes. This cynicism feeds a backlash, which increases tensions even in areas where women perform well and where their presence is not counterproductive to the military's mission.
These hard realities have created the greatest potential cultural change in our military's history, and if matters are left in this state, we run the risk of destroying all notions of leadership as we have known it. The fundamental disconnect is this: In many areas where females have been introduced into the military, leaders imbued with the imperative of ethical conduct are constantly challenged to hold back on the truth or risk their futures.
And so politicians and media commentators usually end up arguing over only half the story. They are right to call for investigations of commanders who have not dealt preemptively with sexual harassment and unpermitted sex among members of their command. Women forced into unwilling sexual conduct are put into an inexcusable hell when their superior is the culprit, and there is no one to whom they feel they can report the crime.
But politicians and the media are blaming the wrong social forces for such problems. They have not been able to hear from those who have firsthand knowledge of what the sexual integration of the military has meant in matters of military conduct. Consider the commander who knows that the culprit in such situations is not one or a half-dozen individuals, but a system that throws healthy young men and women together inside a volatile, isolated crucible of emotions -- a ship at sea or basic training, to take two notable examples. Whom does this commander tell if he believes that the experiment itself has not worked, that the compressed and emotional environment in which these young men and women have been thrust together by unknowing or uncaring policymakers actually encourages disruptive sexual activity?
The commander knows the political mantra for twenty years has been that sexual misconduct is simply one more cultural problem, and that, like racial insensitivity, it can be overcome by a few lectures and command supervision. He knows also that this is wrong. But to speak his mind or force the issue would most likely be his undoing.
Cultures are not all equal
I remember the mid-1970s, when multiculturalism was first beginning to entrench itself as the official religion in state schools. Celebrating diversity suddenly became the only possible response to that often-confronting phenomenon. In the same way, overnight it seemed that all cultures became equal and demanded uncritical acceptance, except for the Anglo-Saxon kind, about which we were encouraged to feel ashamed and apologetic.
It became less and less possible to make critical, cross-cultural comparisons. If, for example, you wanted to talk about the Aztec practice of human sacrifice, there were all sorts of shibboleths getting in the way of plain speaking. Even the most remotely negative reflection on priests cutting out the still-beating hearts of their victims with obsidian knives had to be prefaced with mea culpas about the victims of Anglo imperialism. The verdict of Mircea Eliade, the previous century's most distinguished historian of comparative religion, that the Aztec rites were "a perversion of the religious impulse" had become almost literally unspeakable.
It was the same with other, less spectacular examples of barbarism. The clitoridectomies of African tribes and the genital mutilation of Aboriginal boys in initiation were subjects hedged around with taboos. The same was true of cannibalism, on the rare occasions when anthropologists and historians could bring themselves to acknowledge the existence of the problem among some Australian and New Guinean hunter-gathers. Who, after all, were we white Westerners to criticise the customs of other cultures, especially those so much closer to nature?
Where all other cultures are notionally equal, all sorts of crucial differences are annihilated and categorical distinctions swamped. For example, basic issues such as comparative levels of cultural development are set at naught. Primitive nomads, villagers and the inhabitants of cities become all much of a muchness because they all have a culture of some sort, and comparisons are odious or at least ill-mannered.
Even if they paid lip-service to those pieties, you may well be thinking, surely the school-teaching classes never really believed all that claptrap? The fact of the matter is that the calibre of people attracted into teaching has been falling steadily since at least the '50s and it's a long time since the profession encouraged independent-mindedness in its members. The chances are that most of the people entrusted with values education swallowed their multicultural pieties whole and cling to them in much the same way as they would to articles of religious faith.
It is as Allan Bloom warned in The Closing of the American Mind. Barbarism has largely triumphed in the classroom. Judeo-Christian civilisation has been trivialised and marginalised by those entrusted with the task of transmitting it. As he put it: "Cultural relativism succeeds in destroying the West's universal or intellectually imperialistic claims, leaving it as just another culture."
Mandating tolerance as a civic virtue leads not only to cultural relativism but to a more general moral relativism. Knight alluded to the problem in her speech and returned to the theme in an opinion piece she wrote with a colleague, Carol Collins, which appeared in The Australian on Friday. "We must be wary, though, of moral relativism," they argued. "A society of individuals who believe that all beliefs, all values, have equal legitimacy, for whom anything goes, is neither tolerant nor just."
If anything, this understates the problem. If such a society were conceivable, it would be profoundly anomic and anarchic. Its citizens would lack any moral compass in their dealings with one another. There would be no internalising on the part of individuals of the constraints imposed for the common good by the criminal code. If people were law-abiding, it would be a matter of personal preference or convenience rather than considered obligation.
As Knight and Collins maintain, it is a matter of vital importance to any society that it not only inculcates ethical values in the classroom but that it teaches the young how to make complex moral assessments. It's a process that, in the days before the word acquired a negative connotation, used to be called discrimination. To be reckoned a person of discriminating judgment was once high praise.
Knight and Collins say: "Surely a focus on social mores sanctioning racism, bullying or the abuse of women and children show us what is wrong with relativism. Think of Australia's treatment of asylum-seekers, and the complex issues of tribal law and the treatment of women and children in indigenous communities. These are examples of situations in which tolerance is dangerous."
Just as I had begun to revise my longstanding low opinion of the University of South Australia and all its works, Knight and Collins gave the game away with their choice of our treatment of asylum-seekers as an example of self-evident evil. They are trying to suggest that a policy of mandatory detention is an open-and-shut case of abuse of women and children. That suggests, to my mind at least, that they're less interested in public policy to develop young people's ethical judgment than in using ethical education instrumentally to push ideological barrows of their own.
The ethical questions surrounding the entitlements of unauthorised immigrants are by no means simple. Amitai Etzioni, the distinguished American sociologist, contributed the leading essay in the June edition of Quadrant magazine on the rights and responsibilities of immigrants. Those who doubt the moral right of sovereign states to provide a place of asylum in a third country will find it challenging. Liberal senators with delicate consciences may find it instructive and Knight and Collins may learn a thing or two.
The charge of instrumentalism shouldn't be levelled lightly. In this case the issue is quite clear-cut. Moral education ought to be designed to enable people to make considered judgments for themselves, not to dispose them to a particular political ideology. To confuse those two objectives is, at the very least, a sign of moral obtuseness. Yet all unawares, it seems, Knight and Collins convict themselves out of their own mouths. "A just democratic society depends on its citizens judging such practices to be morally wrong and, indeed, on equipping children to understand not only that such practices are wrong but able to see why they are wrong," they write. "In other words, social justice depends on a form of moral education, which introduces children to the grounds for moral judgment."
Social justice is a Vatican cant term for an ill-considered, church-sanctioned halfway house to socialism. Readers who are interested in how the clerical Left got a toe-hold in as profoundly conservative an institution as the Catholic Church should have a look at the encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891). Happily, as can be seen from another encyclical, Centesimus Annus (1991), the church has evolved a more sophisticated understanding of economics and the role of markets in free societies. If only the same could be confidently said of the Australian Labor Party.
The rhetoric of social justice is a legitimating device for the sort of old-fashioned class-war politics the ALP once thrived on and that, to his credit, Bob Hawke largely abandoned. It is a self-serving, partisan rhetoric and a moral education worthy of the name would enable the rising generation to work that out for themselves.
20 June 2006
Dr. Mahfooz Kanwar recently attended Calgary's largest mosque for a funeral. At one point in the proceedings, a man Kanwar has known for more than three decades led the prayers. "He was saying in Urdu (the official language of Pakistan): 'Oh, God, protect us from the infidels, who pollute us with their vile ways,'" recalls Kanwar, a professor of sociology at Mount Royal College in Calgary.
"I stood up and grabbed him by the lapels, which was shocking even to me because I have never done anything like that in my life and I said: 'How dare you attack my country.' And then I addressed the crowd and said: 'I have known this man for more than 30 years and he has been on welfare for almost all of those years.' " Kanwar chuckles at the memory. "Then I said to this semi-literate man, 'you should thank me and those you call infidels.' "He asked me why and I said: 'Because the taxes I pay are putting food on your table as are the taxes of the so-called "infidels.' "
Most Canadians and many Muslims would applaud Dr. Kanwar's righteous outburst. But guess which of the two men is no longer welcome at the Sarcee Tr. S.W. mosque? Not the intolerant, hate-spewing semi-literate. No, it's Dr. Kanwar who's persona non grata. That, says Kanwar, is just one of numerous instances he has experienced as a result of the culture of ignorance and intolerance that permeates so many mosques in Canada and throughout the world.
In light of the arrests two weeks ago of 17 young Muslim Canadian men who are alleged to have planned terrorist attacks against their fellow Canadians that included attacking Parliament, seizing the CBC and beheading the prime minister, Kanwar says it's vitally important for Canadians to start making more demands of those who immigrate to this country. Kanwar says we now know one of the 17 accused was allowed to spew hatred and calls to violent jihad at a Toronto-area mosque and he was never once told by the leadership there to stop. Six of the young men who listened to him are also charged in the plot.
Kanwar is pretty certain, if he spoke up at that mosque, however, with his message that Canada's culture is better than the culture found in any Islamic-based country, he'd be kicked out. "The policy of official multiculturalism is a disaster," says Kanwar, who ironically once headed a government-funded multicultural organization in Calgary in the early '70s.
Every year, Kanwar's organization would host a large food and crafts festival in the basement of the Jubilee Auditorium. "There were 52 tables, each with two flags on them -- Polish and Canadian, Ukrainian and Canadian etc. When the Alberta minister in charge of funding the festival showed up, I asked him, 'why is there not even one table here with a single flag -- why is there no Canadian table?'"
Kanwar has been questioning the government-funded official multicultural model ever since -- most recently through his 2002 book: Journey to Success, which is used as a sociology textbook at Mount Royal College and other post-secondary institutions. "Multiculturalism creates nations within a nation and divides the loyalty of people," says the 65-year-old Pakastani-born Kanwar, who immigrated to Canada in 1966. "It allows people to marginalize themselves. It endangers us all as these recent arrests show."
Because of Kanwar's open and published opposition to Ontario's proposal last year to consider allowing sharia law for arbitration purposes in that province, Kanwar says he has been issued with fatwahs -- not the death-threat versions made famous by the one issued against Salman Rushdie for writing the novel The Satanic Verses -- but more like a shunning. Kanwar, a devout Muslim, says he has essentially been excommunicated by Calgary's mosques because he is too tolerant of others.
Homa Arjomand, who lives in Toronto and headed Canada's successful campaign of the International Campaign Against Sharia Court in Canada (www.nosharia.com), says like Kanwar, she too once embraced the idea of multiculturalism. Arjomand, who calls herself a "victim" of sharia law -- a strict set of rules based on Islam's holy book, the Qur'an, that subjugates women, as well as allows for the chopping off of hands for theft etc. -- says part of the reason she decided to immigrate to Canada was because she had heard about official multiculturalism. "I thought how wonderful, but not anymore," she declares. "I came here for Canadian values, not sharia values. I fled Iran on horseback because the values there threatened my very life. If people want to live under sharia or the way they lived back home, let them go back," she said.
Kanwar agrees. He says the time has come for the Canadian government to tell new immigrants "once you're in Canada we expect you to be totally devoted to Canada -- no divided loyalties." "This country," added Kanwar, "is a democracy and democracy is founded on Christian principles. "Canada is -- like it or not, take it or leave it -- a country founded on Christian principles where the vast majority of citizens are Christians," said Kanwar. "Yes, there's separation of church and state but even that was a principle founded by Christians and Christianity. "If Muslims, or anyone else, doesn't like living in a land filled with Christians or in a democracy they should get the hell out."
Homosexuals Have Emerged as the New Protected Class in America
The governor of Maryland fired one of his appointees to the Washington Metro transit authority board for stating a negative opinion of homosexuality on a cable TV talk show. The board member, Robert Smith, had said: "Homosexual behavior, in my view, is deviant. I'm a Roman Catholic." The governor, Robert Ehrlich, said Smith's remarks were "highly inappropriate, insensitive and unacceptable."
"Insensitive" sounds like a fair comment. "Deviant" is a harsh word for expressing one's non-approval of homosexuality. The governor is on less firm ground with "inappropriate." Smith's comment certainly was apropos of the talk-show topic, gay marriage. He was explaining why he opposed it. "I'm Catholic" was shorthand for "I take my religion seriously and, like millions of other Christians, my views on marriage and my non-approval of homosexual sex are biblically based."
Ehrlich's third adjective, "unacceptable," is surely debatable. Did he mean that all members of Washington-area boards are required to approve of homosexuality, or just that they must suppress any non-positive views during TV discussions of same-sex marriage? The governor, a Republican who is up for re-election and is trying to move from the right to the center, clearly hasn't thought the issue through. He certainly seems to be banishing Smith for a thought crime. Perhaps he did so because he knew his Democratic opponents would come after him for tolerating "hate speech" if he let Smith stay on. Smith argues that his social opinions have "absolutely nothing to do with running trains and buses" and that they haven't affected his actions or decisions on the board.
Maybe it's not a good idea for government transit specialists to be pronouncing on divisive social issues. But they clearly have a right to do so. The Supreme Court says the First Amendment protects the right of public employees and appointees to speak freely on matters of public concern. So if Smith wants to sue over his firing, he seems likely to win. At any rate, liberals routinely argue that people should not be fired for behavior or speech unrelated to their jobs, such as professors who make loony remarks out of class, or schoolteachers who have children out of wedlock.
Why didn't Gov. Erhrlich simply say that he disagrees with Smith, but considers him an excellent public servant, which the Washington Post coverage of the story makes clear he is? The answer is that in Washington, and among the elites everywhere, approval of homosexuality is now mandatory. In the old days, employees were fired for being gay. Now they are far more likely to get fired for failing to approve homosexuality or for some remark that the gay lobby resents.
In colleges and schools, regulations on "hate speech" now protect gays from criticism as well as meaningful debate. Andrew Sullivan, the prominent blogger and a gay man, says he is troubled by attempts "to prevent or even criminalize the expression of hostility to homosexuality, or gay rights, or indeed any another form of gay speech." Criminalizing such criticism, and even biblical citations against homosexuality, are no longer unusual in Europe and Canada.
Sullivan cites the case of Lynette Burrows, a British writer on children's rights, who drew an inquiry from Scotland Yard for saying on a radio talk show that she did not believe male homosexuals should be allowed to adopt boys. "It's a risk," she said. "Would you give a small girl to two (heterosexual) men?" She said it was "sinister" to have a police investigation of a comment that hurt the feelings of gays. Also in Britain, Anglican Bishop Peter Forster drew a police investigation after telling a newspaper, "Some people who are primarily homosexual can reorientate themselves." In Canada, criticism of homosexuality is essentially illegal. An ad in a Saskatchewan newspaper listing biblical citations against homosexuality was ruled a human-rights offense. The man who placed the ad was directed to pay $1,500 each to three gay men who were offended by the text.
In the United States, though speech control usually runs afoul of the First Amendment, schools routinely support the pro-gay Day of Silence and ban the Day of Truth, set up by Christians to counter what they believe is organized use of public schools for gay lobbying. A prominent intellectual, talking about gays, complained about "the fascist policing of public discourse in this country by nominal liberals." That was Camille Paglia, who can avoid the speech police because she is brave, candid and lesbian.
NOW "CORRECT" TO DEMONIZE THE BRITISH EMPIRE
The tulwars and assegais were out for Niall Ferguson in last Monday's Start the Week. They were deftly wielded by four critics of the British empire and the result was a spirited exchange. It was another skirmish in that old war of words as to whether the empire was a good or a bad thing. Ferguson thinks on balance that it was good, and I agree. Our antagonists do not. At times they seem intoxicated with their own moral outrage, and they express it stridently. Caroline Elkins's account of the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya during the 1950s has the provocative title of Britain's Gulag: the Brutal End of Empire in Kenya.
Mike Davis's version of 19th-century famines in India goes a step further along the path of moral remonstrance by calling his book Late Victorian Holocausts. These authors' acolytes swell the indignant clamour. In The Independent, Johann Hari alleged that during the famines of 1876-78 and 1895-97 the rulers of British India adopted a "conscious policy of mass starvation", which places two obscure Victorian viceroys on a par of wickedness with "Stalin and Mao".
This is twaddle. The rulers of India were humane men and, although hampered by inadequate administrative machinery and limited resources, they made a determined effort to feed the hungry. In 1897 more than 33m Indians were being sustained by the government, which had allocated œ4.3m (about œ200m in today's money) to relief operations. By this date, the railway network (a British innovation) was sufficiently advanced to distribute rice and grain to regions of dearth. There was no "holocaust": between 1871-1901 India's population increased by 30m.
As for the Mau Mau campaign, Elkins's figures of 300,000 interned and a further 50,000 killed are contentious. David Anderson's Histories of the Hanged: Britain's Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire calculates that 150,000 were imprisoned, between 12,000 and 20,000 insurgents killed in action and just over 1,000 executed for sedition and murder.
Of course contrary statistics cannot hide the fact that British forces and Kenyan auxiliaries behaved savagely at times. A temporarily paralysed government was stunned by the uprising and exaggerated the capacity of the rebels. This does not exonerate acts of brutality, but it should prevent them being portrayed as on the same moral level as the planned, sustained and secret policies of mass extermination that were practised over decades in Stalin's gulags. Even to hint at parity is grotesque.
Unlike Stalin's Russia, the British empire was always an open society. Enoch Powell slated the government for the deaths of Mau Mau detainees in Hola camp in 1959. His reproof was a reminder of what T E Lawrence had observed in 1920, when Britain was suppressing an insurrection in Iraq. In a democratic nation, the public expected the empire to be decently run for the benefit of and with the consent of all its subjects.
What happened in every part of the empire was reported in the press and debated in parliament. Much of the evidence of the torture of prisoners in Kenya was aired in the Commons. Proconsuls and generals were called to public account. They also had their own codes of humanity: in 1919 Lord Chelmsford refused to employ poison gas against North-West Frontier tribesmen on the grounds that it would be a gross denial of Britain's "civilising" mission. This mission had a powerful hold over the public imagination throughout the last hundred years of the Empire's existence. British society was intolerant of injustice, cherished individual freedom and believed that the world was moving onwards and upwards. It is easy to jeer at this optimism, easier still to sneer at Britain's wish to remake the world in its own image. Enemies of the empire do both and simultaneously speculate as to what might have happened had the British never appeared.
Alternative histories of India and Africa abound and tend towards fantasies about peaceful evolution and economic self-sufficiency. This is historical self-indulgence; nations can never be permanently quarantined. From the earliest recorded history there has been an impulse for peoples to explore, trade and acquire territory for prestige and power. It was always a competitive business. If the British had not exploited the internal divisions within India, the Russians would have tried.
Empires of one sort or another have been a constant of history. They grow, wither and leave their legacies. I believe that on balance the British empire was a force for good and should be a source of national pride. It provided an interlude of stability in which countries divided by race and religion could develop and, in the case of India, discover a national identity.
Alongside railways, schools, universities, hospitals and sanitation projects, the empire introduced political and social ideas dear to the British. These included extending civil rights to women, a free press and, most important of all, a culture of popular consent and reasoned debate. English spread as the language of learning, law and commerce.
After 1945 a combination of domestic exhaustion, American pressure and local nationalisms, which we had neither the will nor the wherewithal to resist, led to the retreat from empire. Unlike the French, Portuguese, Russian and Yugoslav disengagements, the process was largely good-natured and involved little bloodshed. The turmoil and casualties in Kenya were small beer compared with those in Algeria, Angola, Chechnya and the Balkans.
AMUSING: ONE LOT OF SELF-RIGHTEOUS LEFTISTS VERSUS ANOTHER
Hopefully with a less bloody outcome than the Stalin/Trotsky rivalry
Starbucks Corp. may be next on the target list of a consumer-health group that this week sued the operator of the KFC fried chicken restaurant chain for frying foods in oils high in harmful trans fat. The Center for Science in the Public Interest said it is planning to campaign against the global cafe chain because of the increased risk of obesity, heart disease and cancer associated with high-calorie, high-fat products it sells.
And the possibility of legal action against Starbucks, similar to the case it is taking against KFC owner Yum Brands Inc., has not been ruled out, said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "Regular consumers of Starbucks products could face Venti-sized health problems," Jacobson said, referring to Starbucks' use of the 'Venti' designation for 'large.'
The group is primarily funded by newsletter subscribers and individual donors. It has support in the campaign from the small IWW Starbucks Workers Union, which has members in three stores, all in New York. They would like Starbucks to list nutrition information -- which is currently available online and in store brochures -- on its menu boards. "Customers can ask for nutrition information, but when you're talking about a transparent business in a busy world, that's not enough," union organizer and Starbucks "barista" staff member Daniel Gross said in an interview. He said the company should use healthier shortenings without trans fat, and publicize its smallest size, "short," which is available but does not appear on the menu.
The union contends that Starbucks staff gain weight when they work at the chain. They are offered unlimited beverages and leftover pastries for free during their shifts. A 20-ounce Venti banana mocha Frappuccino with whipped cream contains 720 calories and 11 grams of saturated fat, and a banana cream crunch bar weighs in at 630 calories and 25 grams of saturated fat. By comparison, a McDonald's Corp. Big Mac has 560 calories and 11 grams of saturated fat.
A Starbucks spokesman said in a statement it is "actively researching" alternatives to high-fat products. The company said it plans to eliminate trans fat from seasonal baked goods -- but not necessarily other products -- by this fall. "In our beverage ingredients, we have reformulated any component that contained significant artificial trans fat content," the spokesman said....
Jacobson said Starbucks may have been spared the scrutiny fast-food chains received recently because of its health-conscious image. "People expect foods from Dunkin' Donuts to be unhealthy, but Starbucks has more of an upper middle class, healthy, hip, politically correct facade," Jacobson said. "But the food is just as harmful to your arteries."
19 June 2006
PETA's 'Vegetarian' Celeb says 'Everything's Better With Bacon'!
This isn't the first time PETA has deceptively promoted a carnivorous celebrity as an anti-meat activist, but it just might be the funniest. Last year we told you about Sarah Jane, an Australian model featured in PETA's anti-chicken advertisements, whose fan website listed her favorite foods as raw meat, lamb kidney, lamb curry and haggis. This time around it's Reese Witherspoon -- a PETA-promoted "sexiest vegetarian" who can't seem to get through the day without eating bacon.
Witherspoon appeared last week on Ellen Degeneres' popular TV talk show, and toted along a crock-pot to demonstrate her favorite recipe (coq au vin -- yes, with chicken). When the host asked about the ingredients, she replied: "Everything you cook in the crock-pot, cook it with bacon ... Everything's better with bacon and brown sugar."
It's worth noting that the International Vegetarian Union (IVU) also claims that Witherspoon is a vegetarian, apparently owing to a 2002 appearance on The Rosie O'Donnell Show during which (according to the IVU) she "described the advantages" of meatless eating "and how much she loved it." But like many celebrities in PETA's stable, Witherspoon was a less-established B-Lister back then. Four years later, the Walk the Line Oscar winner has come into her own -- and apparently prefers bacon to the PETA ego-boost. Will Alec Baldwin be next?
Bush signs troubling 'decency' bill
It's hard to define obscenity. What one person finds repulsive, another finds illuminating. What's acceptable on HBO may not be right for the Disney Channel. What passes for normal behavior on South Street may not fit the community standards of Wichita. But at least with obscenity, we have those not so helpful "we know it when we see it" parameters. "Indecency" is a whole other matter.
That's why Tattle is troubled by legislation signed by President Bush yesterday raising fines for broadcasters who exceed "the bounds of decency." Whatever happened to reining in big government?
Bush said the new law, which increases fines tenfold to $325,000 per incident, will force industry figures to "take seriously their duty to keep the public airwaves free of obscene, profane and indecent material." Oh, Janet Jackson's barely-exposed-for-a-micro-second-nipple, what have you wrought? Defined by Merriam-Webster as "grossly unseemly or offensive to manners or morals," "indecency" is even harder to determine than "obscenity."
Many might consider Ann Coulter's much-publicized descriptions of 9/11 widows as indecent. Others consider criticisms of the president, especially during wartime, indecent.
The raunchy humor on "My Name Is Earl" or "Saturday Night Live" in many homes would not pass the decency meter. Many unassuming pop songs on the iPods of children throughout the Bible Belt would be labeled indecent if their parents knew their lyrics.
Hasn't most of political discourse become indecent? We have colleagues here at the People Paper who think Tattle has crossed over the decency line on occasion. Video of a murder victim on the local news? Certainly, that could be viewed as indecent. But worth a fine? We've heard conversations on "The View" that turned our ears red. Can we now fine Joy Behar and Star Jones for talking about vibrators? Such talk should get a mouth washed out with soap. So where do we draw the line? And who gets to draw it?
"The government's own data show that the vast majority of complaints come from a handful of people encouraged by activists to complain about these shows, and not the viewers themselves," said Jim Dyke, executive director of TV Watch, an interest group that includes NBC and CBS and opposes government regulation of television programming. "The disparity between the millions who tune in and the few complainants is further evidence that Americans do not believe the government should control what they watch on TV."
The president disagrees. "Unfortunately, in recent years, broadcast programming has too often pushed the bounds of decency," Bush said. "The language is becoming coarser during the times when it's more likely children will be watching television. It's a bad trend, a bad sign." Yes, the world's become a coarser place. But in a capitalist democracy, where there are endless choices, legislating morality never works. The "off" button, however, does.
This move won't curb the tide of angry hate speech which seems to be on the rise - and which is really indecent - or get the children it's alleged to protect to watch their p's and q's. They're all off playing violent, expletive-filled games on their Xboxes.
Australia: Outrageous prisoner requests spark overdue backlash
A transgender prisoner has lodged a discrimination complaint because he was refused female toiletries in jail. The armed robber, 29, demanded hair removal cream and an exfoliating brush. He also wanted skin cream, and a treatment soap and shampoo.
The complaint has outraged Corrective Services Minister Judy Spence, who described it as one of a string of "frivolous complaints" lodged by inmates. "We are not running motels, we are running prisons," Ms Spence said.
Male prisoners are issued with a comb, soap, disposable razors, toothpaste, toothbrush and shampoo. They can buy shaving cream, shampoo and conditioner, soap, moisturiser and deodorant - but not hair removal cream or an exfoliating brush. While female prisoners can buy hair removal cream, the brands wanted by the armed robber are not available.
The complaint has prompted Ms Spence to order a review of all entitlements. It comes after The Sunday Mail last week revealed she had launched an appeal against a $2000 payout awarded by the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal to a child sex offender because he was not given meat prepared in the Muslim way. "When you go to prison you lose certain rights and entitlements that law-abiding Queenslanders take for granted," Ms Spence said. She said the review of entitlements would look at sourcing practices, value for money, how to address prisoner nutrition requirements, religious and cultural preferences.
18 June 2006
Making a minefield of motherhood
Why are fewer women having children? Exposure to endless panics about the dangers of parenting might have something to do with it
In recent months there has been considerable discussion and angst regarding Europe's declining fertility rate. Compared to 20 or 30 years ago, the average family size has declined from 2.4 children to around 1.7. In countries such as Germany, some 30 per cent of women will remain childless. Social commentators believe greater female independence, individualist lifestyles and worries regarding the financial cost of parenthood are to blame.
Those changes are undoubtedly contributing factors, but alongside the alarmist panics over population decline, there appears to be little or no positive identification with childbirth and childrearing these days. Could the dire risks and predictions attached to parenting by academics, analysts and commentators also be making adults cautious about procreating?
Back in April, there were two cases in the UK that highlighted today's negative attitudes towards motherhood and parenting. The first was the case of 63-year-old Patricia Rashbrook, who conceived after receiving infertility treatment from controversial Italian doctor, Severino Antinori. The second involved a perhaps more familiar press folk devil - a girl of 12 becoming pregnant and deciding to keep the baby.
The `extremities' in age of conception is relatively unusual, and thus justifiably newsworthy. But the cases also provided an acceptable cover for some rather unacceptable views. So instead of marvelling at the wonders of reproductive technology, Antinori's breakthroughs have only generated scorn and derision from all corners. Josephine Quintavalle of the lobby group Comment on Reproductive Ethics argued that Ms Rashbrook was `being selfish.. It is extremely difficult for a child to have a mother who is as old as a grandmother would be.'
No doubt there is a degree of self-centeredness involved in having children; but the idea of motherhood being `selfish' is a novel one. After all, one of the factors pushing adults away from parenting is the commitment and self-sacrifice that goes along with it. In the case of Rashbrook and her husband, some believe the couple's advanced years means they either won't be able to cope or will leave their child orphaned. Either way, the Rashbrooks are seen, in the words of the ironically titled Pro-Life group, as `irresponsible'. The irritation here is with a couple who are potentially placing burdens on others and society.
A very similar response was notable in the case of the pregnant 12-year-old in West Lothian, Scotland. One Scottish journalist argued: `They (the state) will be expected to pick up the pieces when the baby is born and disappears into a chaotic mess of domestic childcare arrangements supported by a raft of benefit payments.' Reading such articles, it is hard to work out who is most ill-suited for child-rearing in this case: the young girl, her `chain-smoking mother', or Scotland's welfare services. The journalist described this story as `the saddest thing I think I've written about'. Presumably mass fatalities through famine and earthquakes aren't quite as horrific as the birth of a new baby. Presented like this, is it any wonder that parenting might not be quite as attractive as another foreign holiday?
Although the rare cases of pregnant 12-year-olds and pensioner mothers will be used to amplify all kinds of `irresponsible parent' fears, women in their twenties, thirties and forties are not exempt from motherhood panics either. If women have children in their twenties they are said to risk falling off the career ladder and having to bring up their children in poverty (as well as being considered `too young' to raise children). If women have children in their thirties and forties there are numerous reports and articles to tell them they are putting their own lives at greater risk and are more likely to give birth to a child with Down's syndrome.
Whichever way it's discussed, it almost seems sensible and advisable for women not to give birth at all. It is telling that in Britain investment in IVF treatment is not a priority for the NHS, as some of my friends have found out. And it says something about contemporary attitudes that legislation on `the right to die' seems to be greeted with more enthusiasm in commentary circles than parenting stories are.
In a Guardian/ICM poll on attitudes to giving birth, it seems that most respondents wanted to `get rich and have fun rather than start a family'. While these attitudes are probably a contributing factor to declining birth rates, what hasn't been established is why child-rearing has lost its appeal in recent years. It is worth remembering that until recently, parenting established individuals as adults to be taken seriously. The problem today is that nobody in authority takes adults very seriously - particularly on the very issue of how to raise their children.
It is often automatically assumed that parents will make a bad job of socialising their children, thus leading to future generations of delinquents with `low self-esteem' issues. Previously, such ideas were targeted at the poorest sections in society; now they are applied to any aspiring parent, regardless of social background. The upshot here is that some individuals have internalised notions that they're naturally unfit parents. In a recent set of interviews in the Guardian, some respondents admitted that for years they considered themselves `incapable' of raising a family. Perhaps what some commentators found so appalling about both the Rashbrooks and the pre-teen mum case is their refusal to stick to today's self-doubting and self-loathing script.
At no other time in history has parenting been held in such low regard. In fact, it's hard to find any positive discussions surrounding parenthood. Although there are practical concerns regarding Europe's declining fertility rate, there are bigger concerns that useless people will only raise gormless children. As humans are constantly re-cast as a troublesome burden to society, the state and environment, it only makes sense to argue for having fewer children, not more. To do otherwise, it seems, is just plain irresponsible.
THE TRANS FAT BEATUP
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) sued fast food purveyor KFC this week claiming the food chain's use of cooking oil containing trans fats is unhealthy. Although KFC said the lawsuit was frivolous and plans to fight it in court, it's not clear that KFC understands how frivolous the lawsuit really is.
In its lawsuit, CSPI asked a Kentucky judge to order KFC to use other types of cooking oils and to make sure customers know how much trans fats KFC's food contains. CSPI's lawsuit alleges that trans fats - vegetable oils that have been altered to be firm at room temperature - increase the risk of heart disease.
In announcing that KFC would fight the lawsuit, a company spokesperson said that KFC is looking at using other types of oil for cooking, but it is committed to maintaining "KFC's unique taste and flavor," according to the Associated Press. But there's no need for KFC to switch cooking oils because the entire trans fat scare is based on junk science. While there are studies that purport to link trans fats with heart disease, when you look at the data and methodology behind the studies, their claims rapidly fall apart.
Studies indicate that consumption of trans fats temporarily elevate levels of so-called "bad" cholesterol and temporarily lower levels of so-called "good cholesterol." This simple blood chemistry is not in dispute. What is in dispute is the significance of the temporary change in blood cholesterol levels. Trans fat alarmists would have you believe that these transient blood chemistry changes increase your chances of having a heart attack. The available scientific data, however, don't back up that assertion. A number of studies of human populations have attempted to statistically associate consumption of trans fats with increased heart attack risk, but the only conclusion that can be fairly drawn from any of them is that, if there is a risk, it's too small to measure through standard epidemiologic methodology.
One of the major challenges for researchers is to tease out the potential impacts of trans fats from other dietary, lifestyle and genetic factors that might be relevant to heart disease. So far, it's been an impossible task. The failure of human studies to support the alarmism was amply illustrated a few years ago when the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine (IOM) jumped on the trans fat alarmist bandwagon. While touting studies showing that trans fats temporarily altered blood chemistry, the IOM glaringly did not cite any studies showing that trans fats posed any real risk to real people.
Despite the absence of real world evidence that trans fats are dangerous, the alarmism continues. There are at least two explanations for this phenomenon. First, it's been clear to the dietary research community for years - although they've been reluctant to share this information with the public - that the scare over dietary fat intake has been over-hyped. The final nail in the coffin of dietary fat hysteria came earlier this year when a major study concluded that low-fat diets provide no demonstrable health benefits over high-fat diets. So the trans fat scare constitutes a whole new way for researchers to scare the public about fat and to keep their government grants coming.
Second, the trans fat scare is a great new rationale for food manufacturers to introduce new and, perhaps, more expensive products that they market as "good for you." Food companies learned long ago that there's more profit in reformulating and marketing new and "healthier" products rather than trying to fight the bad science wielded by the well-funded, well-entrenched and essentially unaccountable public health bureaucracy.
Of course, the trans fat scare doesn't work for every company in the food industry. Some can't reformulate. Several years ago due to pressure from CSPI, McDonald's announced that it would switch cooking oils to eliminate trans fats. But CSPI wound up suing the company after McDonalds could not find a substitute cooking oil that met its standards.
There are two other facts to consider as you are bombarded with media reports and food company advertising about the alleged dangers of trans fats. Thirty years ago, the diet police scared us away from animal fat-based butter and began singing the praises of what they said was a healthier alternative, trans fat-based margarine. Now, the diet police have done an about-face and want to scare us away from those same trans fats - all the while omitting mention that their butter scare was bogus from the get-go. So what exactly would be the basis for trusting the alarmists this time around?
Also worth considering is the fact that CSPI has been in the business of scaring people about the food they eat for more than 30 years. From labeling Fettucine Alfredo as "heart attack on a plate" to claiming that fat substitute olestra might make truck drivers sick enough to lose control of their vehicles while driving, to claiming caffeinated beverages cause miscarriages, CSPI has been and remains on the cutting edge of dietary absurdity.
It's unfortunate that KFC has to waste its time and money defending itself from CSPI's groundless lawsuit. On the other hand, KFC has a good opportunity to expose not only the trans fat myth but also CSPI's antics in a court of law. Let's hope KFC doesn't chicken out.
Individual responsibility frowned on in the UK
UK home secretary John Reid has backpedalled on an antisocial behaviour initiative with the slogan: `Don't moan, take action - it's your street too.' The leaked initiative was greeted with howls of derision, and protests that Reid was apparently asking the public to deal with bad behaviour. `How dare you blame us for rising crime', blustered the Daily Express. David Davis, shadow home secretary, said it was `brazen beyond belief for the government to turn around and try to shift responsibility on to the shoulders of the public'.
But that was the last problem with the initiative-that-wasn't. We do indeed need a society where people are prepared to pitch in and deal with bad behaviour. We should all take more responsibility for what goes on around us - not because we owe it to Reid, but because we owe it to ourselves as citizens. Everybody will have seen intelligent adults paralysed by a child's tantrum, a group of rowdy teenagers, or an unstable individual. A minor incident, which in the past would have been dealt with swiftly by passers-by, now causes a blockage in city life.
Everybody has their stories. The other day I saw a six-year-old kicking a ball against a woman's trolley. Everybody froze and watched, apparently wanting to say something but not wanting to expose themselves. Eventually the boy got bored and moved on. People breathed a sigh of relief: emergency over. A child holding adults to ransom is a sure sign of individual and collective paralysis.
It turns out that public action is the last thing Reid wanted, though. It wasn't so much, `don't moan, take action', as `take action by moaning'. Home Office officials clarified Reid's position. `[He] wants people to moan and complain to the police and local councils about anti-social behaviour because that's the only way things will change', said one. Another added: `The idea that we are asking neighbourhoods or local people to act on their own is complete nonsense.'
Why is the idea of local people `acting on their own' so terrible? Individuals and communities taking matters into their own hands is seen as a dangerous business, with the whiff of lynch mobs and vigilantism. `We have never encouraged people to be vigilantes and never would do so', said Louise Casey, the prime minister's Respect chief. Under New Labour, it seems that `vigilante' has come to mean anybody who acts without the sanction of officialdom. Such is the government's distrust of people that any kind of independent action can be tarnished with the bogey word of vigilantism.
But why shouldn't groups of people establish basic norms of behaviour? People are reluctant to put themselves forward now because they fear that nobody will back them up. Those who do stand up appear isolated and insecure, like the person who pleads on a crowded Tube train `Could you please move down inside the carriage?' in a squeaky and artificial voice. They don't feel that their reasonable request is backed up by those around them, so they are effectively a moaner, not a sensible individual speaking out with authority.
Those who pursue the government's route of community action end up as moaners and grassers - not necessarily through any fault of their own, but because that is the logic of the situation. Elaine Holland, a mother from an estate in Plymouth, is currently the government's shining example of a community activist. She appealed for ASBOs against a gang that was terrorising her estate, and eventually got the gang split up and moved on. In private, people on the estate said that something had to be done, but in public she was shunned and called a grass.
Perhaps they labelled her a grass because they sensed that this was something the community should deal with for itself, even though the community was unable to play that role. In the past, this gang might have been dealt with by firm words or by somebody giving the ringleader a slap. Now the estate was paralysed, and the woman who did do something ended up disempowering and isolating herself. Individuals aren't to blame here - the problem is today's cultural framework and the broader assumptions about our responsibilities to others.
We are now always encouraged to run to a third party, be it the courts or the local council, to resolve differences with noisy neighbours, local naughty kids or other forms of irritating behaviour. Yet running to an outside body only takes power away from the individuals concerned, because it hands responsibility over to some apparently benign outsider. And introducing a third party tends to exacerbate community tensions rather than resolve them; it legalises spats and ups the ante between people who can't see eye to eye. So we'd be better not to moan about anti-social behaviour, and not to grass either. Instead we should try to deal with everyday misdemeanours for ourselves.
17 June, 2006
A NEW TYRANNY FOR MOTHERS COMING
Formula feeding moving towards becoming "child abuse".
Warning: Public health officials have determined that not breast-feeding may be hazardous to your baby's health. There is no black-box label like that affixed to cans of infant formula or tucked into the corner of magazine advertisements, at least not yet. But that is the unambiguous message of a controversial government public health campaign encouraging new mothers to breast-feed for six months to protect their babies from colds, flu, ear infections, diarrhea and even obesity. In April, the World Health Organization, setting new international bench marks for children's growth, for the first time referred to breast-feeding as the biological norm.
"Just like it's risky to smoke during pregnancy, it's risky not to breast-feed after," said Suzanne Haynes, senior scientific adviser to the Office on Women's Health in the Department of Health and Human Services. "The whole notion of talking about risk is new in this field, but it's the only field of public health, except perhaps physical activity, where there is never talk about the risk."
A two-year national breast-feeding awareness campaign that culminated this spring ran television announcements showing a pregnant woman clutching her belly as she was thrown off a mechanical bull during ladies' night at a bar - and compared the behavior to failing to breast-feed. "You wouldn't take risks before your baby's born," the advertisement says. "Why start after?"
Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, has proposed requiring warning labels, on cans of infant formula and in advertisements, similar to the those on cigarettes. They would say that the Department of Health and Human services has determined that "breast-feeding is the ideal method of feeding and nurturing infants" or that "breast milk is more beneficial to infants than infant formula."
Child-rearing experts have long pointed to the benefits of breast-feeding. But critics say the new campaign has taken things too far and will make mothers who cannot breast-feed, or choose not to, feel guilty and inadequate. "I desperately wanted to breast-feed," said Karen Petrone, an associate professor of history at University of Kentucky in Lexington. When her two babies failed to gain weight and her pediatrician insisted that she supplement her breast milk with formula, Ms. Petrone said, "I felt so guilty." "I thought I was doing something wrong," she added. "Nobody ever told me that some women just can't produce enough milk."
Moreover, urging women to breast-feed exclusively is a tall order in a country where more than 60 percent of mothers of very young children work, federal law requires large companies to provide only 12 weeks' unpaid maternity leave and lactation leave is unheard of. Only a third of large companies provide a private, secure area where women can express breast milk during the workday, and only 7 percent offer on-site or near-site child care, according to a 2005 national study of employers by the nonprofit Families and Work Institute. "I'm concerned about the guilt that mothers will feel," said Ellen Galinsky, president of the center. "It's hard enough going back to work."
Public health leaders say the weight of the scientific evidence for breast-feeding has grown so overwhelming that it is appropriate to recast their message to make clear that it is risky not to breast-feed.
Ample scientific evidence supports the contention that breast-fed babies are less vulnerable to acute infectious diseases, including respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, experts say. Some studies also suggest that breast-fed babies are at lower risk for sudden infant death syndrome and serious chronic diseases later in life, including asthma, diabetes, leukemia and some forms of lymphoma, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Research on premature babies has even found that those given breast milk scored higher on I.Q. tests than those who were bottle-fed.
The goal of a government health initiative called Healthy People 2010 is to get half of all mothers to continue at least some breast-feeding until a baby is 6 months old. Though about 70 percent of new mothers start breast-feeding right after childbirth, just over a third are breast-feeding at 6 months and fewer than 20 percent are exclusively breast-feeding by that time, according to the 2004 National Immunization Survey. Breast-feeding increases with education, income and age; black women are less likely to breast-feed, while Hispanics have higher breast-feeding rates.
For women, breast-feeding can be an emotionally charged issue, and a very personal one. Even its most ardent supporters acknowledge that they have made sacrifices. "It's a whole lifestyle," said Kymberlie Stefanski, a 34-year-old mother of three from Villa Park, Ill., who has not been apart from her children except for one night when she gave birth. "My life revolves around my kids, basically." Ms. Stefanski quit working when her first child was born almost six years ago, nursed that child until she was 4 years old, and is nursing an infant now. She said she wanted to reduce the risk of breast cancer for herself and for her three daughters, referring to research indicating that extended breast-feeding may reduce the risk for both mother and daughters.
Scientists who study breast milk almost all speak of it in superlatives. Even the International Formula Council, a trade association, acknowledges that breast-feeding "offers specific child and maternal health benefits" and is the "preferred" method of infant feeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics states in its breast-feeding policy that human breast milk is "uniquely superior for infant feeding."
Dr. Haynes, of the Health and Human Services Department, said, "Our message is that breast milk is the gold standard, and anything less than that is inferior." Formula "is not equivalent," she went on, adding, "Formula is not the gold standard. It's so far from it, it's not even close."
A BROWN BRIT CALLS FOR AN END TO BROWN FAVOURITISM
A Dewsbury Asian councillor is calling for the scrapping of two black and Asian organisations which he says are dividing the local community and giving ammunition to the British National Party. Councillor Karam Hussain (Lib Dem - Dewsbury West) says the first to go should be the North Kirklees Black and Asian Police Forum and the Kirklees South Asian Consortium. He would also like to get rid of the Kirklees Racial Equality Council which was partly funded by the government, because he says it is a waste of taxpayers' money. He also wants to launch a campaign to unite the town and put an end to any groups and organisations which might divide the community.
"Groups like this are to blame for the BNP gaining two more seats in the local elections, and I blame the Labour Party because they set them up," he said. "The Labour government have always encouraged this kind of political correctness, and people are fed up. This is why some are turning to the BNP. "People want to know why Asian people are getting this kind of special treatment. But Asian people didn't ask for it. They don't want these organisations. "It's ridiculous to have a community police forum for everyone, and then set up another just for black and Asian people. Why should this be? What purpose does a separate forum serve?
"All this political correctness comes from Westminster, and local people are suffering because of it." "Asian people have been living in this area for more than 50 years and are quite able to look after themselves. They don't want to be treated differently. They feel insulted by these groups. "Like the rest of the community they'd rather see the money spent on getting more police officers, more doctors and nurses, more teachers, rather than on ridiculous forums like these."
Councillor Hussain admitted being bitterly disappointed with the result of the local elections which he felt left the town divided. He said: "We have two wards with three Asian councillors in each - Dewsbury West and Dewsbury South - and one ward with three white councillors - Dewsbury East. This is not representative of the local community. "In Dewsbury West the Lib Dems deliberately chose a white candidate. We'd have won if we'd put up an Asian candidate but we chose a white candidate, who we knew to be the best for the job. "We always ensure we have a white councillor in Dewsbury West. We want what is best for the local community."
Members of organisations criticised by Coun Hussain have hit back, saying the job they do is vital to the local community. Dr KH Khamas, chairman of the Black and Asian Police Forum, said: "There is no truth in this. "This forum is very useful. It has been going for six or seven years. Good work has been done in north and south Kirklees. "I think this forum has brought both communities together. These groups are trying to build love and peace between the two communities. "Some people are against the police forum but most people support it - they support the relationship between the forum and the community."
Jamil Akhtar, acting chief executive of the Kirklees Racial Equality Council, said: "If anybody, regardless of race or colour, feels they are being discriminated against, we help them. We have even dealt with a case from the BNP. "Twenty per cent of our clients are white, and we ran a project entirely for white youths with anti-social behaviour problems. "We are a volunteer organisation and we work with the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the local authority to make sure that if anyone feels they are being discriminated against, they can be dealt with. "We work with the whole community to help make Kirklees a nice place to live - for everybody."
Novel program treats women who batter men
Darlene Hilker is an unusual woman. It is not because she was caught up in domestic violence; that's a common crime. Nor is it because she was the abuser; research increasingly reveals that men are often victims of domestic violence. She is unusual because, on a judge's order, the Florida woman became one of the first to be enrolled in the Women Who Batter intervention program run by Domestic Abuse Shelter Homes. The 26-week program is being watched as a potential model for use nationwide.
Hilker's case and how it is being handled reveals a shift in the social dialogue surrounding domestic violence. Men are finally being recognized and taken seriously as domestic violence victims. It is about time. A 2000 National Violence Against Women survey conducted by National Institute of Justice/Centers for Disease Control estimated that 1.5 million women and 835,000 men are battered each year.
The shift also suggests a new danger: men may become the next government-protected group of victims. If so, the politics of victimhood with its demands for class privilege will continue. Victimology as a growth industry for lawyers, social workers, experts and bureaucrats will flourish. If men become the next 'oppressed group,' it will be in the same manner as women did decades ago. In the 1950s, women who had been raped or battered were often further brutalized by a legal system that dismissed them. Women's just cry to have their bodies and rights equally protected by law became distorted by radical feminists who used political correctness and government enforcement to call for privilege instead. Perhaps the most blatant distortion: the crusade for equal access to education and employment turned into affirmative action and quota systems.
The swing in society's reaction to domestic violence was no less dramatic. Domestic violence became the black-and-blue symbol of man's oppression of woman, with domestic violence victims being pre-defined as female. For the last decade, the legislation defining domestic violence has been called the Violence Against Women Act.
Even the men who had been undeniably battered were given short shrift. Donna LeClerc, executive director of Women Who Batter, explains, "there's a lack of equality in the justice system. Women [abusers] serve half of the sentence a man does for the same crime, if she serves time in jail at all."
The media coverage of the Hilker case provides another window into how anti-male even relatively balanced accounts of domestic violence have become. The local NBC2 News coverage quoted Hilker on her rage "building up and just getting to the point where it exploded. You never know when it's going to happen. Something just triggers in your head and you do whatever." In separate coverage of the Women Who Batter program, the Florida Herald Tribune described the 'plight' of batterer 'Mary Smith' (false name). The "seething" Mary suffered verbal abuse from her husband; their 16-month-old son long was allegedly force-fed by him. Then, "finally, when he made another crack about her weight, she took a knife and carved a 17-inch gash in his stomach."
The Herald Tribune quotes LeClerc: "Women, more than men, were more likely to have committed their offense under the influence of drugs or alcohol." Tonine Garbarino, a facilitator with the Women Who Batter program, is reported as saying that abusive females tend to be "reactive and defensive" while abusive males tends to be "proactive and aggressive."
At least two aspects of the foregoing comments are worth comment. First, research into the abuse of intimates by women is in its infancy. Even now, many of feminist-inclined experts -- upon whose 'research' decades of domestic violence policy and law have been built -- only grudgingly admit that abusive women exist. I doubt the possibility of making accurate generalizations about such a freshly exposed and controversial facet of domestic violence.
Second, whether intended or not, the descriptions sound like excuses. The Herald Tribune and those it quotes seem to be saying that women are driven to violence by men and by bad lifestyle choices, whereas men are violent. Indeed, Garbarino comes close to absolving women of responsibility when she states, "There's a nanosecond where the woman says there's a nothingness. She doesn't remember a thing, but all she knows is she's hit someone or cut someone."
I have rarely seen abusive men described so sympathetically. Indeed, even the articles on Women Who Batter vilify abusive men in comparison. Nevertheless, the model program in Florida represents progress, as does its partner program, "Men Entitled to Nurturing." This program began functioning in January with such goals as to assist men who are fleeing abuse. LeClerc notes, "There are no safe havens for men to run to with children. And if a man runs off with his child, it's considered kidnapping. The playing field is stacked against [men]…in this situation."
If the foregoing is progress, what constitutes the end point, the ideal? Ideally, the anti-male bias that first ignored male victims and now treats their abusers with kid gloves will be eliminated. A judge will look at male and female abusers and see no legal difference. Government will get out of the psychology and rehabilitation business that has created "the domestic violence industry" -- a bureaucratic infrastructure of those who make a living off treating victims of, or providing services related to, domestic violence.
Perhaps the bitter lessons of radical feminism will prevail and men's calls for equal treatment will not turn into rage-filled demands for retribution. Perhaps this time, the law will swing toward justice and not so badly overshoot.
16 June, 2006
Kansas license bill unfair to noncustodial parents
The Kansas House just passed a highly publicized bill that would allow the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services to have the driver's licenses of so-called "deadbeat" parents seized if they have child-support arrearages of $500 or more. House Bill 2706 is scheduled for a Senate hearing today. While such measures always make for good sound bites and electoral politics, they make poor public policy. That's because the vast majority of those behind on child support are low-income parents who have been saddled with artificially inflated paper arrearages that they couldn't possibly pay.
Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement data shows that two-thirds of those behind on child support nationwide earned less than $10,000 in the previous year; less than four percent of the national child support debt is owed by those earning $40,000 or more a year. According to the largest federally-funded study of divorced dads ever conducted, unemployment is the largest cause of failure to pay child support.
The inflated arrearages are created in large part because the child support system is mulishly impervious to the economic realities working people face, such as layoffs, wage cuts, unemployment, and work-related injuries. According to the Urban Institute, less than one in 20 non-custodial parents who suffers a substantial drop in income is able to get courts to reduce his or her child support payments. In such cases, the amounts owed mount quickly, as do interest and penalties. Only three states charge a higher interest rate on past due support than Kansas' 12 percent. The situation is further complicated by the fact that child support enforcement agencies are notorious for their errors and bureaucratic bungling. Audits and evaluations have shown that such errors often comprise a significant portion of arrearages.
The "Most Wanted Deadbeat Parents" lists put out by many states illustrate this problem. Far from being lists of well-heeled businessmen, lawyers, and accountants, the vast majority of the men on these lists do low wage and often seasonal work, and owe large sums of money which they could never hope to pay off. Even a person with a college degree is a rare find on these lists. Perhaps this is why while DSRS recently announced that their top five deadbeats owe an average of $225,000 in back child support, they have refused to disclose these individuals' occupations. The pot of child support gold which DSRS Secretary Gary Daniels professes he'll find if he gets "the [enforcement] tools that some other states have" simply does not exist.
Family courts' tragic indifference towards protecting noncustodial parents' relationships with their children is also part of the problem. According to the Children's Rights Council, a Washington, DC-based children's advocacy group, more than five million American children each year have their access to their noncustodial parents interfered with or blocked by custodial parents. Because so many noncustodial parents must wage expensive court battles in order to see their children, money which could be going to their kids instead goes to lawyers.
HB 2706's $500 arrearage limit is particularly misguided and destructive. A Kansas father of three who earns a pre-tax income of $3,850 a month pays about $1,050 a month in child support. If he is out of work for even a brief period, HB 2706's punitive measures could impede his ability to earn a living, sending him into a downward spiral of arrearages and debt.
Dads aren't the only ones affected, since noncustodial mothers in the child support system are significantly more likely to be in arrears than fathers. Like many "deadbeat dads," most of these mothers never walked out on their children, but instead were made into delinquents by the rigidity and unrealistic expectations of the system.
Daniels says a crackdown is needed because only 54 percent of Kansas children who are owed support receive their full shares. However, DSRS is already able to get drivers' licenses suspended through contempt of court proceedings. The real problem is that the vast majority of the child support debt is simply uncollectible. Instead of enacting new draconian measures, the legislature should instead mandate that DSRS focus its enforcement efforts on true scofflaws with real arrearages instead of hard luck parents with counterfeit ones.
It's the Food, Stupid: People don't seem to understand how eating works
By Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan
Pointless to persecute restaurants
Last week an FDA-sponsored and -funded report on "Away from Home Foods" recommended ways restaurants might lend a hand in our nation's fight against obesity. The report was based on input from a number of scientists, consumer advocates, and food-industry representatives, including members of the National Restaurant Association (which in the end did not support the report's conclusions because they "unfairly targeted its industry").
Among other things, the committee urged the FDA to prevail upon restaurants to reduce portion sizes; to increase the number of low-calorie dishes on menus, particularly when it comes to fruits, vegetables, and unfried foods; to use foods that are low in saturated fats and trans-fatty acids; and to provide nutritional and caloric information on all menu selections.
While well-intended, the FDA recommendations fall short for three reasons: They are largely impractical and inconsistent with basic practices of running a business; they confuse concerns about calories with concerns about "good" and "bad" fats; and they omit some more obvious changes and additions restaurants could make that would reduce caloric consumption due to "away from home" meals.
While having the government instruct restaurants that they should reduce portion sizes sounds good, it is unlikely to have any impact on the risk of obesity. This is not to suggest that the gargantuan portions served at restaurants are not astonishing, and even sometimes horrifying; and it is extremely annoying to be chided by waiters about "not liking the meal" because it's been left mostly uneaten. But all of that is besides the point. Many years ago, my late colleague, Harvard's Dr. Fredrick J. Stare, expressed his concern about portion size in restaurants by writing to 100 establishments requesting that they put less food on the plates. He learned something surprising about the restaurant business; the overwhelming response from restaurateurs was: "The food is the least expensive component of a meal. We understand that only a small percentage of our patrons will eat what we serve them, but it is more cost efficient for us to serve more food than most will eat (and throw the balance away) than to make the minority of eaters who want large portions unhappy and likely to complain."
When asked if restaurants might offer smaller portions for a lower price, the response was the same: "Our costs are the same whether the portion size is large or small, so we cannot offer reduced prices for smaller-sized meals." The same issue would apply to meal-splitting. Many restaurants now add a surcharge onto shared meals.
Perhaps, in time, some clever marketers will find a way to base an ad campaign on the growing demand for somewhat less expensive, smaller meals. In the meantime, the solution is not to have the government telling restaurants how to run their businesses, but to educate consumers to eat only to the point that hunger is satiated - and not to feel obligated always to be a member of "the clean plate club."
As to nutrition-labeling at restaurants, I am ambivalent: ideally, customers should be able to request such information from the restaurant - but this simply may not be practical given the constantly changing menus and ingredients (although, it is possible at restaurants like McDonald's that offer standard fare). Further, many of us would prefer not to characterize a dinner out as a purely biological experience to be assessed in terms of grams of fat. A little common sense should do the trick: obviously fettucini alfredo is calorically loaded - and if you do order it, it might be prudent to eat only half.
In recommending that restaurants combat obesity by promoting "foods low in saturated fats and trans-fatty acids," the FDA panel misses the point. If you are trying to cut calories, the type of fat is not your concern. No matter what the type of fat, it is calorically dense, at nine calories per gram. Indeed, this whole current kerfuffle in ads and on food labels about trans fats has become downright misleading, since consumers may think "no trans fats" means "low in calories." It does not. Wendy's restaurants, for example, have just switched to nonhydrogenated oil, reducing trans fats, but this is unlikely to make a significant difference in the total number of calories their customers consume or, thus, in their likelihood of not becoming obese and suffering health problems. Trans fats are just one part of a larger diet, and it's the big picture that matters.
The FDA report also fails to suggest that restaurants add more menu options which would allow customers to enjoy the foods they love while taking in fewer calories. Offering reduced-calorie spreads (like oleo/yogurt blends) and salad dressings, or lower-calorie, full-taste "lite" ice creams, would be a good place to start. Creative chefs could be encouraged to experiment with Z-Trim or Simplesse, which are currently available fat substitutes that can be used to create such items as reduced-calorie butter, mayonnaise, cream cheese, and mashed potatoes, all nearly indistinguishable from their full-fat counterparts. If the unfairly maligned fat-substitute olestra is ever welcomed back from exile, the options for creating tasty, low-fat foods - including, for instance, French fries - will increase even more dramatically.
Restaurants, like any business, operate on the principle "give the customers what they want." Restaurants cannot coerce patrons to choose salads over burgers and fries, and it is hopeless to ask them to do so. It is the customer who calls the shots. Until we can educate consumers about the ideal caloric intake - and the calorie content of specific foods and portion sizes - and motivate them to keep caloric intake within the desirable range, they are going to continue to order what they want. And restaurants will continue to accommodate them.
Australian Senate debates same-sex union Bill
Opposition and minor party members have moved in the Senate to overturn the government's regulation disallowing the ACT's same sex union law. But with the government holding a majority in the Senate, the attempt to overturn the ban is expected to fail.
Opening the debate, Australian Greens Senator Kerry Nettle said the government was out of step with community attitudes on gay civil unions. The Greens Senator said that a recent poll showed that support for same-sex civil unions stood at 50 per cent, with two-thirds accepting gay relationships. Senator Nettle said young people are overwhelmingly supportive of both. She said parliamentarians aren't representatives of the community as a whole, being older, more conservative and more religious.
ACT Liberal Senator Gary Humphries strongly objected to the government move but hasn't officially declared his position. However, the government can rely on support from Family First Senator Steve Fielding. Government Senate leader Nick Minchin said the legislation was "repugnant", and argued the bill would have a deleterious effect on the sanctity of marriage. "Whatever might be said, it is clear that the intent and purpose of that act is to equate a civil union to a marriage, and in that sense we regard it as repugnant," he told the Senate.
The coalition had made a number of attempts to find a compromise with the ACT government, Senator Minchin claimed. "We have made (our decision) against the background of very, very deliberate and considered efforts to try to find a middle ground with the ACT," he said. "Of course were not opposed to same sex unions as such - but to seek to equate a same sex union to marriage is objectionable, and we will not accept that."
But Labor senator Joe Ludwig argued that the ACT legislation would have no impact on the traditional concept of marriage. "The ACT Civil Unions Act does not deal with marriage - it doesn't compromise, contradict or impinge on that principle," Senator Ludwig said. "Given our view that this law does not deal with marriage, Labor supports the states and territories recognising same-sex relationships in the way they see fit."
Risk: it's a boy thing
Boys should be boys, say Australians who have come out in support a book that encourages old-fashioned rough-and-tumble play. The Dangerous Book for Boys -- which promotes risky pursuits such as climbing trees, skimming stones, building treehouses and making slingshots -- is a top-seller in Britain and heading our way. It urges boys to switch off the TV, computer and games console to enjoy childhood pursuits from the past.
Kidsafe Victoria vice-president Robert Caulfield said the book had his group's full support. "You can't cover kids in cotton wool and protect them from everything," he said. "They have to learn safety and learn to be aware of dangers in the environment. "If you eliminate all of the dangers . . . so the child doesn't have to take any precaution, one day they will go into an environment that isn't safe and they'll get really hurt. So we would encourage kids to climb trees and do all those sorts of things."
The book was also given the thumbs-up by Camberwell friends Max, 12, and Angus, 11. "Making slingshots and stuff would be awesome," Max said. Computer whiz Angus said such activities would be "good for a laugh" but he'd still play computer games. The book, by British brothers Conn and Hal Iggulden, has also won over many dads nostalgic for their youth.
15 June, 2006
California: Big food fight on Bay Area's school menus
Nobody seems to be asking what is the evidence for the effectiveness of these dietary interventions. Since virtually all the evidence on the long-term benefit of dietary and lifestyle changes suggests that there is no benefit, that is rather surprising. Decibels seem to swamp science. And the salad freaks overlook that the Eskimos lived perfectly healthy lives for thousands of years on a diet that consisted of little more than meat, fat and fish. In fact, because it is such a good energy food, they were big eaters of fat -- obtained from the blubber of marine mammals. Lucky they had no California food faddists around to harass them. And one day it might become quite an embarrassment in sunny California that fatty food protects you against skin cancer
It's war at the Santa Clara Unified School District. But parents aren't fighting over the curriculum, or over bilingual education or even over school closures. They're brawling over cupcakes -- and chocolate bars, and hamburgers and candy. School food has become a national obsession. And no place is the fixation more evident than in the Bay Area, where activists are determined to put an end to obesity and teach kids how to eat right. They're filling school yards with edible gardens, applying for grants to put salad bars in cafeterias, teaching students and parents how to cook healthful meals and replacing cookies with strawberries at school dances.
It seems simple. It's not. All agree that schools need to clean up their nutritional act, but there is bitter dissent over how it should be done and how far it should go. Some think the state, schools and corporate food companies aren't doing enough to keep fatty and sugary foods off campuses. Others believe schools are going too far -- adopting policies that are too draconian and turning teachers and administrators into the food police. And then there are the school boosters, who acknowledge the need for more nutritious meals on campus, but fear that junk food bans will cost their districts hundreds of thousands of dollars in fundraising money. "It's gotten pretty heated," said Roger Barnes, Santa Clara schools' business administrator, on the debate the district has been having since January over banning junk food 24 hours a day, seven days a week. "It's about changing the way people think and changing the culture. But that's not easy."
In recent years, California has passed some of the most stringent school food laws in the country. The state, concerned that it has the second highest rate of overweight children in the nation, passed legislation introduced by Sen. Martha Escutia, D-Whittier (Los Angeles County), that would heighten nutritional standards at schools. The law, which goes into effect July 1, 2007, says vending machine snacks sold on campus during school hours, and a half hour before and after, must meet certain requirements: No more than 35 percent of their calories can come from fat, no more than 10 percent can come from saturated fat, and no more than 35 percent of their weight can be sugar. Entrees prepared in school cafeterias must have no more than four grams of fat per 100 calories with a 400-calorie cap.
But Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor, one of the food industry's loudest critics and author of "What to Eat,'' says the junk food manufacturers are probably already looking for ways to circumvent the requirements. "I don't like this kind of criteria," she said, adding that although the new rules will rid schools of candy bars, they will also knock out most salad dressings. "It's a slippery slope, and there are always exceptions. Why not just get rid of highly processed foods and use the Marion Nestle method -- only serve foods with no more than five ingredients on the label."
As summer approaches, parents and school districts are grappling with strategies for the start of the upcoming school year in the fall -- a sort of dress rehearsal for when the new law kicks in. What's happening in Santa Clara exemplifies the struggles taking place all over Northern California. Parents and administrators in the South Bay city, not satisfied that the 2007 food requirements are strong enough, propose to completely ban junk food, even celebratory cupcakes, home-baked cookies and birthday cakes, on campus and during all after-school events. The plan, however, sent a whole other faction of parents and teachers into an apoplectic fit. "We get an awful lot of money from the snack business," said Angie Scott, a parent and athletic director at Wilcox High School. "Nutritious food is important, but it's expensive. And if we can't continue to fundraise, we're going to lose our athletic programs. And exercise should be the biggest component of keeping our children healthy." Scott fears that with an around-the-clock ban, concession sales at sporting events in the district would plummet. Gone would be the hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries and sodas that have become synonymous with high school football games. "The majority of the customers buying this stuff after hours are adults anyway," Scott argues.....
A steering committee in the district has prepared a compromise proposal, which is expected to be unveiled at a school board meeting Thursday. The vote is scheduled for the June 8 meeting. The new plan would allow four school celebrations a year with cakes and candies. It also encourages concessionaires to offer 50 percent healthful snacks, such as salads, fruit, water and juice, and asks that 50 percent of fundraising sales be nonfood items, such as T-shirts, mugs and wrapping paper. In addition, the proposal says that by the start of school in August, vending machines at Santa Clara schools will only sell healthful foods. [Whatever they are]
At Bret Harte Elementary in the San Francisco Unified School District, faculty got rid of the vending machines last year. This year they eliminated the soda machine in the teachers lounge, because Principal Vidrale Franklin thought it was a bad influence on the kids. She discourages parents from bringing in baked goods for celebrations, but Franklin says it would be too controversial to outright ban cakes and cookies. Instead they gently encourage parents to use the school's recipes for desserts like a fruitcake made with yogurt.
New Report: Foster Care System Disregards Fathers
When a mother and father are divorced or separated, and a child welfare agency removes the children from the mother's home for abuse or neglect, an offer of placement to the father, barring unfitness, should be automatic. Yet according to a new report by the Urban Institute, few fathers are able to reunite with their children, who are instead pushed into the foster care system.
The new report, What About the Dads? Child Welfare Agencies' Efforts to Identify, Locate, and Involve Nonresident Fathers, examines the foster care systems of Massachusetts and three other states. The report contains a shocking finding: when fathers inform child welfare officials that they would like their children to live with them, the agencies seek to place the children with their fathers in only 8% of cases.
All fit parents have a fundamental right to raise their own children without state interference. Moreover, fathers can offer their children a sense of permanence, security and emotional support that a foster family (or a succession of foster care placements) cannot provide. Fathers are also a much better source of long-term resources and sponsorship. Many foster children are pushed out of their homes and into a tenuous existence when they turn 18 and the foster parents no longer receive state subsidies.
Research shows that fathers matter. The rates of the four major youth pathologies--juvenile crime, teen pregnancy, teen drug abuse, and school dropouts--are tightly correlated with fatherlessness. For example, one long-term study of teen pregnancy published in Child Development found that a father's impact is so large that income, race, the mother's characteristics and a host of other normally powerful factors all mattered little. What mattered was dad.
It is true that the fathers of children seized by child welfare agencies tend to be younger, less stable and less fit than the average father. They are more likely to have drug or alcohol problems, and more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system. Yet behind child welfare agencies' disregard for fathers lie two largely unfounded beliefs-that fathers are often a safety risk to their children, and that most dads have little interest in their children.
Our societal image of family violence centers on abusive men. However, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' new report Child Maltreatment 2004, when one parent is acting without the involvement of the other parent, mothers are almost three times as likely to kill their children as fathers are, and are more than twice as likely to abuse them.
Many absent fathers are not a part of their children's lives because mothers have driven them out by denying visitation, moving far away or employing spurious abuse charges. Some fathers only find out that their children have been put in foster care when they are hit for child support to repay the state's costs. Many had no way of knowing that their children were in peril. Others were brushed aside by authorities when they asserted that their children were being abused. For example, in one highly-publicized case, seven year-old Kaili Warrington-Sims was starved down to 29 pounds and imprisoned in a bedroom by her mother and her mother's live-in boyfriend before being rescued by her father, Daniel Sims. The couple had spirited the girl around New York state and then to Florida to deny Sims access. Sims struggled through a maze of bureaucratic indifference and hostility to get to his daughter. He arrived just in time--the girl would have only lived a few more weeks in her condition.
What About the Dads? makes it clear that many child welfare workers treat fathers as an afterthought. The report found that even when a caseworker had been in contact with a child's father, the caseworker was still five times less likely to know basic information about the father than about the mother. And 20% of the fathers whose identity and location were known by the child welfare agencies from the opening of the case were never even contacted. These policies are seriously misguided. When a mother is deemed unfit to care for her children, dad shouldn't be just one option out of many. He should be first in line.
Mother's "work" doesn't warrant paycheck
$134,121 a year: that's what a 2006 stay-at-home mom would earn if her work were fully paid at market rates. The claim comes from a study by the Massachusetts-based Salary.com, which specializes in "salary surveys." Although the figure is being touted as appreciation of stay-at-home mothers, it is actually both an insult and an absurdity. Stay at home mothers deserve better.
Alarm bells should already be sounding on the absurdity point. How can the monetary value of a vaguely defined and complex category, like an average stay-at-home mother's job, be assessed so exactly to the last dollar? Does it seem reasonable that a stay at home mother should receive over three times the median American household income: $43,318? Why was the statistic released so shortly before Mother's Day?
Such obvious questions were not asked by "400+ newspapers, TV, and radio stations from the U.S. to Australia." Instead, Salary.com gleefully reported, "The survey was the #1 emailed story on Yahoo! on Monday, May 2" -- the same day it was released. Salary.com's press release cleared up one issue. The site had conducted a survey, not a study, as the majority of the media reported. A study is a scholarly or scientific investigation that uses controls to prevent bias and error. A statistical survey collects data by interviewing or asking questions of individuals. A survey is less rigorous but, depending on its methodology, it can produce valuable results.
What was the methodology? Salary.com surveyed about 400 women online; the respondents consisted of both working mothers and stay at home mothers. Presuming an equal breakdown between the two, about 200 stay at home mothers were surveyed out of an estimated population of 5.6 million stay at home mothers. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2003); that is .00357 percent. There is no indication of whether respondents were randomly chosen or filtered in some manner. Online surveys are notoriously unreliable because follow-up verification rarely occurs and lying is a temptation. For example, a question like "Do you hit your children?" may produce a high rate of false answers, especially with no check on accuracy. Salary.com's questions are not available. Nevertheless, since they were used to break down the hours of stay at home mothers' labor, some questions must have been akin to "how often do you clean house?" Again, significant inaccuracy may have occurred.
Pushing aside such factors, how did Salary.com convert raw data on stay at home mothers' hours into the figure $134,121? (Working mothers who could not afford to stay at home, as much as they might long to do so, had their 'mom' time valued at only $85,878. The quality of time spent was not a factor, only quantity.) To convert time into money, Salary.com took a great leap. It classified the top ten tasks reported by respondents and calculated the respective hourly wages for 'equivalent' jobs in the marketplace; the jobs included day-care teacher, chef, CEO, psychologist and computer operator. For example, if a stay at home mother acted as the family-CEO for 4.2 hours a week, then the hourly marketplace rate for a corporate-world CEO was credited to her annual 'earnings'. Then, the worth of all ten jobs were added together to produce a total salary.
Two inflationary factors were employed. First, some extremely well-paid jobs were included. Second, because stay at home mothers are deemed to be constantly on-call, 51.6 hours of overtime with overtime 'pay' were added to every 40-hour work week. These inflationary factors ignore basic realities of the job market. For example, the 'equivalent' salaried positions do not generally receive overtime; that's a characteristic of jobs paid on an hourly basis. Moreover, CEOs and psychologists are compensated, in large part, for their extensive education and other qualifications.
More fundamentally, however, the survey is based on fundamentally false assumptions and it leaves out essential information. One false assumption: Stay at home mothers provide services to themselves and to their families, not to a marketplace of customers. Just as you do not 'deserve' a salary for cooking your own breakfast, neither does a parent who prepares a meal. What you do for personal benefit is different in kind from the labor you auction in the marketplace.
Two items of missing information: What of men? Fathers are repairmen, carpenters, plumbers, yard workers, accountants and occasional CEOs. Yet there is no mention of the 'salary' men should receive; perhaps such mention would destroy the sensationalism of the woman's $134,121 a year. Where is the off-setting calculation of economic benefits that stay at home mothers receive in the form of housing, food, or transportation?
The survey's conclusions are absurd, and the act of throwing absurdity at stay at home mothers as though it were the gift of revealed wisdom is a patronizing insult. Doing it on the cusp of Mother's Day so that Salary.com's paid-services receive mega-media attention is a self-serving insult. But the main offense is that Salary.com doesn't 'get it.' Women who stay home are lucky enough to be able to choose personal benefits over economic ones; stay at home mothers have refused to value their time in dollar signs. When Salary.com refers to sitting up with a sick child as 'over time', it commercializes and cheapens that act of love for both stay at home and working moms. It is similar to placing a dollar value on intimate marital relations because, after all, those 'services' are available elsewhere for a fee.
When you define the value of family meals in terms of cold cash, then you've lost the importance of what's really going on. When you convert acts of love into acts for profit, you've lost at life itself. Stay at home mothers and working moms should print out the faux-paycheck that Salary.com offers at its website Mom's Salary Wizard just for the pleasure of tearing it up.
14 June, 2006
ANOTHER BOGUS "HATE CRIME"
A Nash County woman claims she and her family are victims of a hate crime. She says they've gotten harassing phone calls with racial insults and they even found a burning cross in their backyard. The woman says she believes she might even know who did it. Mary Few says it's a crime that holds her family in fear, "stressed.. Can't sleep, nerves gone..." According to Mary Few an unidenified man called her home asking to buy her husband's car. When they refused to sell she says the harassing calls started..." He said I hate ni..s"
Mary Few says days later she came home to find her husbands tractor dragged out and a cross burning in the backyard. Mary Few filed reports with police. Hours after the public got wind of the story she says her family got another surprise, the Fews says the suspect had hit again. This time spray painting KKK all while they were inside and in broad daylight.
Middlesex Police Chief Charles Ferrell says the suspects are bold and they are not ruling anyone out..not even..the Fews. "I can tell you that..umm..when we canvassed the area over there, right after that I found a red spray paint can under his shelf that was hid." Farrell say the investigation turned up some strange signs including Mr. Few's reaction, "When I found it he didn't seem to be too thrilled and he was like that ain't nothin, that been out there for two years."
And what about those harassing phone calls? Seth: "You see anything else strange about this?" Farrell: "Yea, that their not cooperating at all with the telephone company" "The pulled the tractor over there. See the tracks?" Police traced the tracks and compared it to a story of where Mr. Few was last seen driving his tractor. "He told me where he backed to. I said that's exactly where those marks are at!" And while Farrell says the story seems strange, he says he'll keep tracking it wherever it leads him. Middlesex police say they will continue to watch the home.
Failure to Railroad Duke Students Upsets Liberals and News Media
By Jim Kouri. (Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police)
Today was a major setback for liberals -- especially radical feminists and their male lapdogs -- in their continued efforts to demonize men, especially white men. It looks as if the Duke University rape case is unraveling like a cheap sweater.
When the story first hit the airwaves and pages of national and local newspapers, the feeding-frenzy was intense: here was a case involving a group of rich, white male college athletes accused of beating and raping a poor, black woman working her way through college by dancing at parties. The media spin was breathtaking. These young, testosterone-driven men of privilege attacked and raped an innocent black woman who had to work as a stripper to raise her child and pay tuition for an education at third-tier college. The story had it all: Drunken white men with more money than they deserved; a horribly beaten and raped young woman; a white-on-black hate crime; exotic dancers forced into "that life" because of social injustice; and titillating sex at a top-ranked university.
Yes, this case fit nicely into the liberal media's template of American men who are soldiers, police officers or athletes -- a species of violent, immoral savages who victimize the weak whether they're fighting in Iraq, policing big city streets, or playing a highly competitive sport. Even the sport these Duke students played smacked of privilege and class -- lacrosse. Heck, when I was growing up we played stickball with a broomstick and rubber Spaulding and chalk-drawn bases on a city street. Lots of time outs in that game since we had to stop playing when a car drove through our "field." I never heard of lacrosse.
In the early stages of the Duke rape investigation there were left-leaning journalists hanging onto each syllable uttered by the District Attorney. The DA held press conferences and pandered to black voters in his district since he was coincidentally running for reelection. Listening to his TV press conferences one would think he had a "slam dunk" case against these evil white men. And the cherry on top of the cake was the DA being a liberal Democrat.
That was in March and April. As time passed, little by little information about the case came out that began to suggest the prosecutor overplayed his hand. Slowly, but surely, exculpatory evidence surfaced that tended to exonerate the Duke students: Lack of DNA evidence; a key witness -- the alleged victim's fellow stripper -- who changed her story every time she opened her mouth; one of the indicted students having an ironclad alibi that placed him miles away from the accuser; medical record notations of minor injuries inconsistent with a beating; the "victim's" use of sex toys when she entertained a couple in their hotel room that very likely mimicked vaginal distress from a rape; and the list goes on.
With each new revelation, the liberal talking heads would say, "Well that doesn't mean she wasn't raped." Correct. But it also doesn't mean she was. And then there's that "presumed innocent" thing that liberals love trotting out when it suits their purposes, but seem to forget when dealing with crimes that enter the "political correctness" zone.
To add to the drama, the New (and unimproved) Black Panthers injected themselves into the media frenzy. The liberals were ecstatic. Would they bring firearms? Would they confront these whiteboys? Would they "invade" the university campus while liberals uttered the Stalinist line about rich white men victimizing poor black women? Would the majority of men on the Duke campus hide like girlie-men?
It was incredible. A woman crying rape knocked the anti-Bush, antiwar stories right off the TV screens of cable news channels and front-pages of newspapers and newsmagazines. You know a case is big when Greta Van Susteran camps out on location to cover it.
But, alas, the liberals are left with a hate crime in which the key witness told cops the rape charge was a "crock." Lucky for them they have Haditha so they can vent their anger over US Marines allegedly killing people during a war. Perhaps the Duke whiteboys didn't rape a helpless woman, at least the liberal-left can focus on those men Senator Dick Durbin once compared to Nazis. Those horrible men in uniform Rep. John Murtha calls cold-blooded murderers. Our men in combat whom Senator John Kerry said are terrorizing women and children in the dark of night. They're left with the United State Marines to denigrate and railroad, the way they tried to railroad the members of the Duke lacrosse team.
Why, you may be asking yourself, is this writer so cynical about this particular rape case? Because, when I worked in law enforcement, I came across more cases of false sexual assault charges than actual sex crime cases. One case stands out in my mind because of the enormous injustice perpetrated on a 19-year old, white male college student who had the misfortune to meet and bed a liar.
One night, the guy hooked up with other students to go out drinking and dancing. As often happens when you mix overly stimulated hormones and booze, the guy ended up in one of girls' dorm room where they enjoyed an evening of carnal knowledge.
The next day, the male student was summoned to the Dean of Students' office and was told that his "one-night stand" filed rape charges against him. The police were called and we conducted an investigation. Stories about the alleged rape appeared in the newspapers, including the boy's name and hometown. Even the college's newspaper printed a story about the rape on campus. The campus feminists used the case to make demands on the college administration who naturally caved-in.
Eventually, the guy dropped out of that college because of harassment by some of his fellow students -- mostly women blinded by feminist ideology -- and the embarrassment of being labeled a sex offender. And after all that, he still faced a criminal trial.
But not so fast. After a two-week investigation, this was what came to light: The girl had a fiance'. One of her girlfriends told that fiance' that his dearly beloved slept with another student. The girl didn't want to lose her fiance', so she told him she had been raped while she was intoxicated. He insisted she press charges, which she did to save her relationship. Finally, when faced with the facts, the girl confessed to making a false claim of rape and that in fact she initiated the sexual relationship. Meanwhile, the alleged rapist had left college and was labeled a sex offender.
Food freedom an increasingly precarious right
Discussing the food Nazis, Walter Williams once said, “Allowing government to be in the business of caring for people for any reason moves us farther down the road to serfdom . . . . If government is going to take care of us, it will assume it has a right to dictate how we live . . . . Numerous health studies have shown that sedentary lifestyles and lack of exercise also contribute to healthcare costs.” Furthermore, Williams said that he “wouldn’t be surprised at all if America ’s neo-Nazis call for government mandates requiring morning exercise, biking, jogging and fitness facility memberships.” Dr. Williams said that in 2002. The sound of food-fascist jackboots thumping on the pavement has only gotten louder and closer since he spoke those words.
In the movie Demolition Man, a cop named John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone), wrongfully convicted of a heinous crime, is awakened from cryogenic suspension more than 30 years after he was frozen in order to catch his nemesis from the late 1990s, Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes), who has escaped from cryo prison after being frozen at the same time as Spartan. Among the many changes in the future, all foods or anything deemed to make life unhealthy, has been unilaterally declared by a benevolent, all-knowing government, masterminded by an evil Mr. Rogers-like elitist, Dr. Raymond Cocteau (Nigel Hawthorne), to be illegal.
No salt, no spices, no ice cream, no fatty foods, no large portions, no tobacco, no physical contact of any sort. Cocteau is credited with single-handedly saving civilization as it existed in Southern California in the dark years of the late-20th and early-21st centuries. The masses worship him like a savior and a god and cannot imagine what would happen to them if he ever was to die. The tranquility and peace their society enjoys blinds them to the obvious fact that they are slaves to Cocteau’s will.
Spartan sees right through the veneer of slavery, fascism, serfdom, or whatever you might want to call the “paradise” that Cocteau has created. Through decades of indoctrination and propaganda, he has engineered a society that willingly cedes its individuality, choices, intellectual curiosity, and as Phoenix argues at one point with Cocteau, the all-important “right to be assholes.”
When Demolition Man was made (1993), it was an entertaining satire and full of hyperbole on where all the whining and complaining by the ninny-nannies opposed to every possible dietary or lifestyle “vice” might take us in the future. Much of what the movie lampooned as future illegal behavior, has come closer to reality with each passing year. Many variations of food Nazis have goose-stepped their message into the public eye over the past decade, warning us about the many dangers of Mexican food, Chinese food, ice cream, salt, fast food, potato chips, pizza, red meat, chicken, pork, and basically anything that most people find tasty and enjoyable.
What many people fail to realize is that the food we choose to eat, and the vast number of food choices we have, is one the few remaining freedoms we have left. The FDA puts up roadblocks, like any other government agency, in order to justify its existence and bloated budgets, but for the most part we have vast freedom with what and how much we eat. If we can afford to buy it and consume it, we can choose to be gluttons. Now, the state and its minions are strongly hinting all that should change because of the high healthcare costs associated with obesity, poor nutrition, and a sedentary lifestyle. Surprise, surprise.
The food Nazis want consumers of food and food services and those who provide the goods and services desired, to change their ways or the fascists are going to take charge of the situation and create their own nightmare version of Cocteau’s world of dietary and lifestyle perfection. They claim to be interested in benevolence, you know, “for the children” and the general health of all. What they really want is that final bit of control of our personal lives that continues to elude them. Controlling what we eat will give them enormous leverage in wresting away our remaining freedoms. The food Nazis will find compatibility of purpose with other situational Nazis interested in completely controlling our lives. Remember what Trotsky said: “He who does not obey shall not eat.”
It will not matter if you are buying food to prepare at home or eating out at your favorite restaurant. The old menus you loved and the old servings that kept you coming back will no longer exist. Restaurants and subjects (formerly citizens) not complying will be identified as criminals. Their families, friends, and communities will be indoctrinated to see them as pariahs. They will be relegated to the lowest caste of society. To pay the economic burden they have imposed on others because of their unacceptable and illegal dietary choices, they will be made to work on large, environmentally-friendly farms that grow healthy foods for those committed to a better and more healthy world.
CNN reports the FDA is right now “enlisting” the restaurant industry to help fight obesity by voluntarily downsizing portions served to patrons. Supermarkets and convenience stores will be next. And your favorite, late-night fast food joints? Forget about it. If they are not forced out of business outright, they will fold in the early years of the brave new world being created by the food Nazis.
Walter Williams points out that the crusade against tobacco, much like the current one being waged against “unhealthy” foods, started in virtually unnoticeable, seemingly innocent, and incremental ways. John Spartan, fed up with the comically fascist world of dietary prohibitions he had been thawed out to safeguard from the rampages of Simon Phoenix, requested in frustration, “somebody put me back in the fridge.” If the food Nazis get their way some years hence, your fridge will only hold enough of the right food to meet your centrally-planned caloric and dietary intake, formulated to maximize what others think is necessary to live a healthy life and minimize future health care costs for the state. Better stuff your face while that freedom still exists.
13 June, 2006
Foiled Burglar Sues Store Employees for 'Emotional Distress'
This galoot's claim is unlikely to succeed but in Britain it would have quite a good chance of success. In Britain, the store employees could well have been arrested
A man who was beaten by employees of a store he was trying to rob is now suing. Police say Dana Buckman entered the AutoZone in Rochester, New York, last July, brandished a semi-automatic pistol and demanded cash. That's when employees Eli Crespo and Jerry Vega beat him with a pipe and held Buckman at bay with his own gun. Buckman escaped when they retreated into the store to call 911, but he was arrested a week later. He pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and was sentenced to 18 years in prison as a repeat violent felon. Now Buckman is suing the auto parts store and the two employees who beat him, claiming they committed assault and battery and intentionally inflicted emotional distress.
So whose fault is it really that innocent Muslim men are being arrested?
A television series I worked on in the 1980s employed an adorable, gentle and handsome researcher called Dermot who was fancied rotten by everyone in the office, and came from Northern Ireland. He travelled back and forth between London and Belfast to see his family by a variety of means, and on almost every journey was stopped, questioned, sometimes searched, when other English passengers were not. He was also, I recall, the only person whose accreditation was questioned and treble-checked when we were issued with press passes to enter a function attended by Princess Diana. Dermot was quiet, polite and unassuming and we were always furious on his behalf. Our producer put it to him that he must hate the British police force for this terrible discrimination. No, he said. He hated the IRA for forcing the police to discriminate against people like him on legitimate grounds of security.
This seemed a particularly generous response, especially considering the police's habit at the time for incarcerating entirely innocent men for the crime of speaking with Irish accents or being called Patrick, as in the Birmingham six who served 16 years, and the Guilford four who served 15 years, all for terrorist atrocities they did not commit. But Dermot's philosophy was that the perpetrators of the terror were the ones directly responsible for his harassment. With Muslims angered over the heavy-handed counter-terrorist raid on London's Forrest Gate, furious they are being targeted by security forces, does Dermot's angelic forgiveness and understanding translate into this contemporary and parallel situation?
Let's imagine for a moment that a small but potent cell of ginger-haired, freckled people began a terror organisation and started slaughtering their fellow citizens with suicide bomb attacks in the name of some red-haired god. Would the police be right or wrong in such circumstances to regard all ginger-haired, freckled people as potential suspects? The logic would surely be that not all red-haired people were terrorists, but that all terrorists were red-haired, and not to act upon such knowledge would be folly. So what must the police do when the same situation exists in reality, the fact being that not all young Muslim men are terrorists, but all terrorists are young Muslim men?
Should they perform a dawn raid on a few Jehovah's Witnesses, or place a family of Quakers under surveillance just to show how even-handed they are? What would we think of such policing?
The problems here are many, complex and seemingly insoluble. For a start, as demonstrated by the shocking undercover documentary last year that saw four police officers sacked, the British police force is harbouring more than its fair share of racist and bigoted idiots. The harassment of black and Asian people, not just Muslims, has been going on largely unreported for many years and has resulted in the loss of co-operation with the authorities across a whole variety of communities containing ethnic minorities.
But just as all Muslim men are not terrorists, not all police officers are racists or bigots. We have to believe that the majority of them, in common with the majority of British Muslims, are people who want to preserve peace and security and not to cause conflict and strife. With that in mind, the residents of Forrest Gate seem to be forgetting the fact that suicide bombers kill indiscriminately, blasting the legs off bus and train-riding Muslims as happily as they tear apart infidels. There is no "us and them" when it comes to terrorism. The police, one would like to think, care just as much about the safety of the Muslims in Forrest Gate as they do of the residents of Hampstead or Chelsea.
The difficulty is that it is the police's job to discriminate, to act on hunches and preconceptions, and sometimes to judge quickly on appearances or tip-offs to try and bring their suspect before court. They are paid to be suspicious. Then it becomes the judiciary's job to be blind to anything except hard evidence. One cannot police effectively with political correctness. If young religious fanatics are the ones who blow us up, then young religious fanatics who have no intention of blowing anyone up will nevertheless continue to be of more interest to the police than young farmers from Fife.
So why do Muslims not take to the streets in furious demonstrations, not against the British police but against the psychotic killers that have made innocent Muslims the subject of police suspicion and non-Muslims afraid of their fellow citizens? Let's hope that the answer is that it's asking far too much for everyone to be as forgiving as lovely Dermot, and that the years of being made to feel like second-class citizens in the country of their birth has quite understandably taken its toll.
That's the good answer, because their ire would be justifiable and it would present society with a horrible wrong that can be righted with time. The bad answer would be that they don't demonstrate because the core aim of the terrorists, that of bringing about an Islamic Britain, is one shared by a majority of Muslims, even moderates who might despise the suicide bombing route but nevertheless wish it to happen peacefully and without bloodshed. If this were true, and let's hope it's not, for the implications are uncomfortable, it might explain the deafening silence from the Muslim community concerning terrorism committed in their name. After all, there are countless Jewish groups who protest constantly, noisily and vigorously against the policies of Israel, which they not only despise on the behalf of Palestinians, but they also feel stoke up anti-Semitism and hatred. Where is the Islamic equivalent?
It would be Dermot-like idealists who'd imagine that Forrest Gate might actually kindle some kind of unity, where all are concerned finally connect in a shared hatred of violence. Instead, the best we can hope for is that the intelligence, that has so far delayed the next inevitable atrocity, is not thwarted by this error and the subsequent protests.
Wave that flag with pride
Stephen Pollard sinks the boot into the sneering British Left who despise ordinary English people
Unless you've been stuck indoors all day - watching the World Cup, perhaps - you'll have noticed that the flag of St George is flying all over the place. What you may not have realised is that this has little to do with patriotism. The flag wavers are, in fact, supporters of the BNP celebrating their racial pride.
The deputy Comment Editor of The Guardian, Joseph Harker, noticed the flags appearing last month. And guess what also happened last month: the BNP won 28 seats in the local elections. Could it be, he asked (before making clear that the answer is basically yes), that "flag-wavers are in fact supporters of this racist party, glorying in their `victory' and celebrating their racial pride?" Mr Harker's evidence is overwhelming. He looked at the drivers of the flag-waving vehicles and - blimey - "half of them are in white vans, and the rest are white, male, tattooed, pot-bellied 35 to 55-years-olds: exactly the type I've been seeing on TV for the past month complaining about `our houses going to the asylum-seekers', or that `we're losing control of our country'."
It's not just Mr Harker who has spotted this. The Independent's Janet Street-Porter has noticed the same awful "white van men flying the cross of St George". Good God, they even take pride in their country! And - ugh - they are overweight: "Chubby fellows with paunches." (Lordy; she must mean me.) Ms Street-Porter has discovered something yet worse: they watch football and drink at the same time. "Why do we consider that slumping in front of a large screen holding a can of beer is an acceptable way to spend our time?"
One might ask why it is considered acceptable to spend time reading the witterings of two such dim-witted oafs. But their assertions do matter, because they typify the liberal Left's attitude towards its fellow countrymen: scornful disdain. Mr Harker and Ms Street-Porter's contempt for som many of their countrymen, represent the true cancer in Britain: the self-ordained liberal elite of self-declared cultural and political wisdom. From its place above the lower orders,the liberal elite considers it its duty to bring the Untermenschen to heel.
We must meet those who would politicise flag-waving on their own ground. Resist, comrades, resist: fly the flag with pride.
Muslim scum gets compensation for jail diet
More "anti-discrimination" nonsense
A child-sex offender has been awarded $2000 compensation because he was not given fresh meat prepared in the Muslim way for most of his prison sentence. Sharif Mahommed, a Muslim of Pakistani descent, eats only halal meat - that which has been slaughtered and blessed by Muslim slaughtermen. Halal meat has not touched non-halal meat and cannot be prepared with utensils used on other meat.
Mahommed was the first Muslim Prisoner in Queensland to request halal meat in jail and as a result of his case, 12 prisoners now receive fresh halal meat.
Minister for Corrective Services Judy Spence has now directed her department to launch a Supreme Court appeal against the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal's decision to grant Mahomrned compensation. "I am concerned that this decision could open the floodgates to other prisoners requesting all manner of special diets." she said. "Prisoners' medical and religious dietary needs are met in correctional centres across the state within reason.
The list of special diets provided to Queensland prisoners includes vegetarian; no pork, ham or bacon; no seafood; Asian; diabetic; soft food; no mushroom; low fat; low salt; no salt; gluten-free; no curry; no pineapple; no lactose; high fibre; and vitamised.
Mahommed, a child-sex offender who was jailed for eight years in 2000 and released last year after serving five years, asked for fresh halal meat when he was first imprisoned. After being retused fresh halal meat he lodged a complaint with Queensland's Anti-Discrimination Commission on the grounds that he was discriminated against on the basis of his religious beliefs.
At an Anti-Discrimination Tribunal hearing last year Mahommed said for his first 10 months in Wolston Correctional Centre he was given the general prison diet, and did not eat meat. He lost a substantial amount of weight while at the prison, the tribunal heard. In 2001 he was offered tinned halal meat if he paid 67c a meal. This cost later was waived but Mahommed stopped eating tinned beef and mutton as it was too fatty and salty. Four months after he was moved to Palen Creek Correctional Centre in 2002 he was given a vegetarian diet with supplements of nuts, cheese and eggs and tinned halal meat. He did not get fresh halal meat until November 2003.
Queensland's Anti-Discrimination Tribunal found Mahommed was discriminated against. Tribunal President Jean Dalton said Mahommed found the vegetarian diet unpalatable. "He received substantially more than his fair share of unacceptable meals because he was put on a vegetarian diet when he was not vegetarian and was not, until November 2003, ever served fresh meat. "At the time fresh halal meat was difficult to source and extremely expensive, so he was provided with canned meat instead."
The above report appeared in the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" on June 11, 2006.
12 June, 2006
Muslim group protests school calendar
That the traditions, origins and beliefs of the American people are overwhelmingly Judeo-Christian rather tham Muslim seems to be unmentionable
A Muslim group is reportedly demanding that a school system in Maryland remove Jewish holidays from its calendar. The Towson Times reported that The Baltimore County Muslim Council battled the Baltimore County school system for three years over adding two Islamic holy days, Id al-Fitr and Id al-Adha, to its calendar, which would make them vacation days.
When the request was not submitted to a vote, the Muslim council demanded that the Jewish holidays on the calendar be dropped, calling it an issue of equity, said the Times.
The move "is an attempt to wage de-facto warfare between Muslims and Jews" in the county, said Arthur Abramson, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council. The Times quoted him as adding that the decision to have Jewish holidays adopted as vacation days was economic, since it is too costly to hire substitutes for all the observant Jewish teachers.
BITCHINESS LEADS TO FALSE RAPE ALLEGATION
The student who says she was raped by a fellow U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet had consensual sex with him after the rape allegedly occurred, defense attorneys said in court documents released Thursday. Attorneys say they'll question the woman at Cadet Webster Smith's court-martial this month to show that the charge was fabricated as part of an effort by several female cadets to falsely accuse Smith. If the woman was raped, Smith's defense team argues, why would she have sex with him later? "We certainly feel the court will have the same set of questions," said defense attorney Merle J. Smith, who is not related to the cadet.
Webster Smith, 22, of Houston, is the first student in the academy's history to be court-martialed, school officials say. He faces charges including rape, sodomy, extortion and assault. The sex-related charges involve accusations by three women. The rape case centers on a night of heavy drinking in June 2005 in Annapolis, Md. Friends have testified that the woman, Smith's on-again, off-again girlfriend, passed out and was enraged the next morning when she learned she and Smith had had sex.
Defense attorneys counter that the couple had a lengthy sexual relationship that continued until the week before the alleged rape and resumed the semester after. The alleged rape was reported after attorneys say the consensual sexual relationship resumed. "The circumstances of this case are such that, once you see all the facts, right away you raise questions," Merle Smith said. Military prosecutors would not address the issue until trial, which is scheduled for June 19, an academy spokesman said.
Seven female cadets originally accused Smith of misconduct ranging from improper touching to rape. Most of the original charges have been dismissed, however, and defense attorneys say the women conspired to bring the allegations. A military judge turned over to the defense team this week a series of e-mails among the women in the weeks before the accusations. Attorneys say they'll use the e-mails to prove the conspiracy. Lt. Stuart Kirkby, Smith's military attorney, said Thursday that he was reviewing the e-mails and, while he would not discuss their contents, said they support the collusion argument. "If they weren't relevant, we wouldn't have gotten them," Kirkby said.
THESE CLOWNS THINK THAT PEOPLE LIKE A BIG MEAL ONLY BECAUSE IT IS GOOD VALUE
The "super-size" deals at fast-food restaurants aren't such a bargain once the costs of weight gain are considered, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that while the average "upsized" fast-food meal costs a mere 67 cents more than a regular meal, those bonus calories could translate into substantial daily costs due to weight gain.
When people put on weight, the study authors say, their grocery bills, healthcare costs and even gasoline expenses climb as well. "These calculated costs exceed the value of upsized meals and may provide motivation to some consumers not to upsize their meals," Rachel N. Close and Dr. Dale A. Schoeller write in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Based on their estimates, each fast-food "value" meal would cost an adult 5 cents more in fuel expenses -- as heavier passengers reduce a car's fuel efficiency - and about 35 cents in overall food costs, since heavier people need more calories. Add to that the healthcare cost per super-size meal -- which ranges from 82 cents to $6.64 -- and these fast-food deals are no deal at all, Close and Schoeller assert.
"McJOBS" OK AFTER ALL
Service jobs are much derided by Leftist elitists. They need to rethink -- a new study by the indefatiguable Adrian Furnham shows
A new academic study challenges people's misconceptions about McJobs. Endless studies have shown that working is good for young people's physical and mental well-being but McJobs are still widely - but wrongly - derided, it says. The Brighter Futures report suggests that having such a job often has a positive impact on young people's lives. From increased self-esteem to being cleaner around the house, the benefits are both personal and practical.
And far from being brain-dead dropouts, youngsters in the industry are on the whole happy, enthusiastic and very motivated to succeed, says author of the report, Professor Adrian Furnham. "The youngsters we spoke to started work viewing a McJob like most other people," says the professor of psychology at University College London. "But there is an amazing change in perception once they start. They are happy, motivated and the work gives them confidence and self-esteem. The evidence indicates that these types of jobs are positive for young people."
The study looks at jobs within the service industry in general - from supermarkets to high street stores and fast-food restaurants. But more unusually, researchers also interviewed the young people's managers, friends, family, partners and teachers to get a full picture of how the job had changed them.
Low expectations of what a McJob can offer could account for some of the impressive results - such as 85% of McDonald's staff saying their job was better than they thought it would be - admits Professor Furnham, but job satisfaction and promotion prospects still outstrip the norm.
* 90% show high levels of engagement
* 85% said job was better than they'd expected
* 83% had seen positive change in themselves since starting work
* 74% saw long-term career at McDonald's
The real success story is the youngsters who have done poorly in mainstream education and left without any qualifications. Often viewing themselves as only good enough to flip burgers, many flourish and quickly progress in such companies.
The research was conducted independently, but was commissioned by McDonald's. While Generation X did not link the fast-food chain with its description of a McJob, the company accepts the association exists but says the tag is misleading, and demeaning. It says it was prepared to publish the findings of the study - good or bad. "We've known for years the jobs we offer are good for young people," says David Fairhurst, a vice-president at McDonald's UK. "If we'd based an advertising campaign around it people would quite rightly have challenged us to prove it - now we can. This report is saying is that our jobs transform young people in a positive way - that's not bad for a McJob."
While there is a high satisfaction rating among service sector staff, the job is far from perfect, say unions. With Sunday trading and longer opening hours, staff often feel pressurised into working unsociable hours, even though they often have a legal right to opt out. Wages can be at the lower end of the scale as well.... But they also agree the service sector is perceived by many to be second-best as a career choice. "That just isn't the case," says USDAW. "It is very skilled now, with emphasis on training and career advancement. Companies are really keen to bring employees with talent through the system."
Again, it all comes down to the difference between the perception of working in the industry and the reality. One of the best ways to redress that is looking at the success stories.
Jason Hersey left school at 16 without any qualifications and little confidence. He got a job at McDonald's and nine years later is now in charge of a store with a turnover of 1.7 million pounds annually and 45 staff. The average wage for a manager is 45,000 pounds, plus a car. "I went into the job so I could get a bit of money to have a laugh with my mates," he says. "My perception was the same as most other people - it was a means to an end and was not going to take me anywhere. "My mum was just happy I'd got a job but me working for McDonald's wasn't something she was going to sing about to her mates. Now you can't shut her up. "While other business wouldn't have given me a chance, I showed I was willing to work and they rewarded that. They realise it's not in their interest to hold someone back who wants to do well."
11 June, 2006
BRITISH "HUMAN RIGHTS" MADNESS AGAIN
A yob who spent all day on a roof lobbing bricks at cops was "rewarded" with a KFC takeaway. Police gave him the meal because of his HUMAN RIGHTS as the suspected car thief staged his second rooftop siege in seven months.
Last night, furious locals blasted his soft treatment. One, Leanne Roberts, 19, said: "It's disgraceful. People are starving while he is served like a king."
And John Swatton, 74, added: "If I was in charge I'd shoot him down with a rubber bullet. Public funds are being wasted molly-coddling him."
Neighbours in the road -- which was closed -- in Gloucester city centre identified the man as Barry Chambers, 26. He scaled the three-storey house early yesterday after allegedly stealing a car and leading police on a high-speed chase. Up to 50 cops with riots vans were said to be at the scene. After cops were bombarded by bricks from a chimney for 12 hours, the food and cigarettes were sent up by crane.
A police spokesman said: "He demanded various things and one was a KFC bargain bucket. We have to look after his human rights."
He finally came down just before 10pm after 19 HOURS. Neighbours said Chambers climbed on a roof near a police station last November -- and came down after he got food.
PA PARENTS NOW DICTATED TO OVER FOOD
First the kids and then the parents
Parents who visit their children at lunch would be required to eat school food rather than bring the children fast-food lunches under a proposed wellness policy in the Palmyra Area School District. That doesn't set well with some parents. Lori Swisher, who has three children at Forge Road Elementary School, agreed the schools don't need soda machines or daily doughnuts, but bristled at "one more government restriction." Swisher said she occasionally has brought pizza or a sub to her kids at school. "I like to think I serve mostly healthy meals, but when all three have sports, sometimes fast food is the option," she said.
The school board will vote June 15 on the guidelines, which Collene Van Noord, director of curriculum and instruction, said is part of a nationwide effort to combat childhood obesity by teaching healthy eating and exercise habits. Proposed changes include limiting the selection of a la carte treats in the cafeterias and encouraging healthier treats for classroom holiday parties for Valentine's Day and Halloween. "We're not saying no cupcakes and birthday treats," Van Noord said, but veggies and fruit will be encouraged.
U.K.: VICTORY OVER STEREOTYPING OF MALES AS PREDATORS
A male nurse yesterday won a case of sex discrimination brought against an NHS trust that refused to allow him to carry out routine procedures on female patients without a chaperone. Andrew Moyhing, 29, from London, had complained that the policy, which applied only to male nurses, was unfair as it was based on the stereotypical assumption that he would represent a danger to women because he was a man.
The case arose during Mr Moyhing's third year of training three years ago, when he was told that a female member of staff would have to chaperone him while using an electrocardiogram machine on a female patient. He complained that female staff were allowed to conduct the same procedure on male and female patients with no chaperone present. His initial claim of sex discrimination against Bart's and the London NHS Trust was unsuccessful, but yesterday an Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled in his favour.
The tribunal held that while not all male students would have objected to having a chaperone imposed, Mr Moyhing did, as it made him feel that he was considered untrustworthy. As that was not an unreasonable reaction to the situation, the trust's policy constituted discrimination.
Mr Moyhing, who left nursing over the issue to work in financial services, said he hoped that the decision would herald the beginning of an era when nursing could draw equally on the skills of both male and female students. "Male nurses are still seen as a bit of an oddity simply because there are so many more women in the profession than men, despite the fact that so many doctors are male. "I believe that ultimately if male students are treated more equally, those such as myself who abandon nursing as a career will stay on and the numbers will start to equalise," he said.
Mr Moyhing, whose mother was also a nurse, declined to accept an award of 750 pounds compensation because he said he did not want to divert resources from the NHS. "I hope that the NHS will look at its policies on the chaperoning of male nurses and develop them in the light of this judgment," he said.
Jenny Watson, chairwoman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, which supported Mr Moyhing's case, said that the trust's chaperoning policy had been based on lazy stereotyping and the assumption that all men are sexual predators. "This type of discrimination against men based on misconceptions about their behaviour does nothing to help ensure patient safety," she said.
The case had raised important issues about the segregation of male and female professions. EOC research showed that more than a quarter of boys in school are interested in caring work, yet only 1 in 10 nurses is a man, as is only 1 in 50 childcare workers. "This disconnect between levels of interest and the tiny numbers of men entering the caring professions won't be closed until we challenge our assumptions about the type of jobs that modern men should do," Ms Watson said.
Charlie Sheldon, deputy director of nursing at Bart's and the London NHS Trust, said the fact that the award to Mr Moyhing was only 750 pounds showed that the tribunal considered the harm done to him was minor. It implied that Mr Moyhing had "displayed an exaggerated and unduly sensitive reaction to being chaperoned", he said. In the process, the idea that male nurses were second-class citizens had been "soundly rejected".
Rare sense from an Australian judge
Attempt to blame other people rejected
Parents are on notice to properly supervise children after the Court of Appeal ruled on a personal injury case involving a young girl injured at a sports ground. The case examined where parental control should take over from the duty of care that sports associations owed to those using their grounds. In its ruling on Friday, the court did not suggest the child's mother, who was watching her, had been negligent. Rather it was determined that the mother had been in the best position to judge if her daughter was in danger.
In the District Court last year the child's parents, on her behalf, sued Central Queensland's Belyando Shire Council and the Moranbah Hockey Association for personal injuries. The court was told that on August 22, 1998, the girl, then three, was playing with other children near a gate on a ground owned by the council and used by hockey players. The girl's left thumb was caught in the gate as other children swung it open and shut. Her thumb was crushed and required surgery. The child's mother was watching her while her husband, the child's father, played hockey.
The hockey association did not deny the gate was usually locked but had been left unlatched after deliveries to the canteen earlier in the day. It also did not deny it had a duty of care to those using its facilities. However, it argued the child's mother was supervising her and was in a better position to judge any hazard. The trial judge dismissed the claim and found, while it was negligent not to lock the gate, the association was entitled to rely on parental supervision to protect the child from harm.
Lawyers for the child appealed, arguing the judge's initial finding - that the gate should have been locked - was correct and the association had breached a duty of care. But in a unanimous judgment, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. Justice John Jerrard said the association's responsibility was to conduct sporting events rather than caring for children.
10 June, 2006
CHRISTIANITY THE NEW OBSCENITY
The Motion Picture Association of America is crystal clear when it describes why its "PG" rating exists _ it's a warning flag. "The theme of a PG-rated film may itself call for parental guidance," states the online explanation of the rating system. "There may be some profanity in these films. There may be some violence or brief nudity. ... The PG rating, suggesting parental guidance, is thus an alert for examination of a film by parents before deciding on its viewing by their children. Obviously such a line is difficult to draw."
Disagreements are a given. The Christian moviemakers behind a low-budget film called "Facing the Giants" were stunned when the MPAA pinned a PG rating on their gentle movie about a burned-out, depressed football coach whose life _ on and off the field _ takes a miraculous turn for the better. "What the MPAA said is that the movie contained strong 'thematic elements' that might disturb some parents," said Kris Fuhr, vice president for marketing at Provident Films, which is owned by Sony Pictures. Provident plans to open the film next fall in 380 theaters nationwide with the help of Samuel Goldwyn Films, which has worked with indie movies like "The Squid and the Whale."
Which "thematic elements" earned this squeaky-clean movie its PG? "Facing the Giants" is too evangelistic. The MPAA, noted Fuhr, tends to offer cryptic explanations for its ratings. In this case, she was told that it "decided that the movie was heavily laden with messages from one religion and that this might offend people from other religions. It's important that they used the word 'proselytizing' when they talked about giving this movie a PG. ... "It is kind of interesting that faith has joined that list of deadly sins that the MPAA board wants to warn parents to worry about."
Overt Christian messages are woven throughout "Facing the Giants," which isn't surprising since the film was co-written and co-produced by brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, who are the "associate pastors of media" at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. In addition to working with the megachurch's cable-television channel, they created its Sherwood Pictures ministry -- collecting private donations to fund a $25,000 movie called "Flywheel," about a wayward Christian used-car salesman.
"Facing the Giants" cost $100,000 and resembles a fusion of the Book of Job and a homemade "Hoosiers," or perhaps a small- school "Friday Night Lights" blended with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association movies that used to appear in some mainstream theaters. Sherwood Pictures used local volunteers as actors and extras, backed by a small crew of tech professionals. The movie includes waves of answered prayers, a medical miracle, a mysterious silver-haired mystic who delivers a message from God and a bench-warmer who kicks a 51-yard field goal to win the big game when his handicapped father pulls himself out of a wheelchair and stands under the goal post to inspire his son's faith. There's a prayer-driven gust of wind in there, too.
But the scene that caught the MPAA's attention may have been the chat between football coach Grant Taylor -- played by Alex Kendrick -- and a rich brat named Matt Prader. The coach says that he needs to stop bad-mouthing his bossy father and get right with God. The boy replies: "You really believe in all that honoring God and following Jesus stuff? ... Well, I ain't trying to be disrespectful, but not everybody believes in that." The coach replies: "Matt, nobody's forcing anything on you. Following Jesus Christ is the decision that you're going to have to make for yourself. You may not want to accept it, because it'll change your life. You'll never be the same."
That kind of talk may be too blunt for some moviegoers, said Kendrick, but that's the way real people actually talk in Christian high schools in Georgia. Sherwood Baptist isn't going to apologize for making the kinds of movies that it wants to make. "Look, I have those kinds of conversations about faith all the time and I've seen young people make decisions that change their lives," he said. "The reason we're making movies in the first place is that we hope they inspire people to think twice about their relationships with God.
QUEER BEHAVIOUR FROM A QUEER COP
Let's hope he is disciplined for his illegal harassment
A pro-family group in Florida is outraged over the behavior of some police officers last weekend who tried to stop a petition drive aimed at protecting traditional marriage. Last weekend members of the Florida Family Policy Council were at a Promise Keepers conference in Broward County where they were collecting petitions for the Florida4Marriage campaign, an effort to get onto the November 2008 ballot an amendment protecting traditional marriage. The pro-family group had paid a fee to have a booth at the PK event at which it was collecting the petitions in support of the campaign`s goal of gathering 611,009 signatures by July 12, 2006.
Then in what the group calls a "stunning display of unprofessional conduct," several members of the City of Sunrise Police Department arrived at the scene and ordered Council vice president Nathan Dunn to stop collecting the petitions, and then removed the petitions from public view. A discussion ensued, during which John Stemberger -- president and general counsel for the Council -- was summoned to the scene. The group says Stemberger`s request for an explanation of what law or ordinance was being violated was ignored by Police Sergeant Stephen Allen, who it says then began lecturing nearby volunteers on what Jesus taught about homosexuality, claiming that the petition effort was a waste of time and that he was the authority and they should obey him.
"It quickly became apparent that [Allen] was a supporter of gay marriage and personally disagreed with the marriage amendment effort," says the Council`s press release, which includes a picture of Allen kissing another male officer on the cheek in what the family advocacy group describes as a "mocking" gesture.
Stemberger reportedly returned the petitions to the exhibit table after security and event officials informed the police the petitions were authorized to be distributed at the table. At the height of the confrontation, notes the press release, the police sergeant "continued to interrupt with abusive and irrelevant personal remarks" and even threatened Stemberger with arrest if the petitions were not immediately removed from the table. "I stood in between the petitions and the officer and told Allen he had no legal authority," Stemberger said later, adding that he informed the sergeant he "had no legal authority, was in violation of the U.S. Constitution, and would have to arrest me because the petitions were going to stay on the table."
The incident finally ended when an official with the Bank Atlantic Center intervened to tell the officers that no laws or rules were being broken, and that the petitions could be distributed at the table. Allen and the other officers then left the scene.
Stemberger says he has never before seen such "unprofessional and bizarre" behavior from a law enforcement officer. Allen, he says, was "abusing" his authority and "trying to bully law-abiding citizens" just because he disagreed with them. "This is unacceptable and a disgrace to the thousands of good cops in Florida that put their lives on the line every day to protect our families and our liberties," the Council president says.
The pro-family group says the officers` "harassment and intimidation" should be a reminder to families of the culture war that is going on. "If we do not stand up to this type of abuse of power, then our constitutional rights will continue to be violated," says Stemberger.
Haditha aftermath: Political correctness on the battlefield
Anybody refusing to stop at a military checkpoint is asking to be shot, in my view
US military personnel deployed in Iraq are being ordered to undergo training in moral and ethical standards, according to a Pentagon spokesman. The training is a result of concerns over the mounting furor over the alleged killing of 24 civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha last November.
General George Casey -- commanding officer of Iraqi military operations -- ordered the training two days after US troops shot dead a pregnant mother and her cousin as they traveled to a maternity hospital.
Nabiha Nisaif Jassim was killed along with her cousin, Saliha Mohammed Hassan, when they failed to stop at a checkpoint in Samarra, north of Baghdad. According to The Guardian, a military spokesman said troops had fired at the car, which was being driven by the pregnant woman's brother, in an attempt to "disable" it.
Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli, the commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, said the ethics training, to take place over the next 30 days, would reinforce the education that troops receive before being sent into battle. It would emphasize "professional military values and the importance of disciplined, professional conduct in combat," he said.
"As military professionals, it is important that we take time to reflect on the values that separate us from our enemies," he said. "The challenge for us is to make sure the actions of a few do not tarnish the good work of the many."
The program is an obvious overreaction to the killing of "innocent civilians" by US Marines, and it amounts to no more than "Sensitivity Training for Combat Soldiers." In short, it's a program initiated to appease the left-wingers who will never be appeased. A soldier's first duty -- the same as a police officer's -- is to stay alive. Police officers know that in a combat situation, you are defending yourself against the unknown and your ultimate goal is to go home at the end of your tour. It must be much more intense for soldiers and Marines deployed in the hellhole known as Haditha, where brutal killings occur on a daily basis -- killings not perpetrated by US Marines.
The alleged massacre is already being compared to the 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam, by left-wing politicians, the elite news media and others, who are using the incident to continue their assault on an organization -- the US military -- to which they pay lip-service, but in reality despise.
The American media -- in their rush to judgment -- have constantly denigrated the military as a result of the Haditha incident. Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) stated that the incident was "cold-blooded murder." The darling of the left-wing media apparently doesn't know the meaning of the term. On one hand the media claim the Marines were out-of-control -- which indicates a "heated" reaction to their situation -- on the other we are bombarded with Murtha's tirades about "cold-blooded murder," something about which he admits he knows nothing. He even admitted he never bothered to read the preliminary report on Haditha. Perhaps he prefers reading his reports in the arguably treasonous New York Times and Washington Post.
Meanwhile, only one newspaper -- a British one at that -- decided to print a story about Haditha. It is a terrorist stronghold where executions are a common occurrence. These public murders are attended by "innocent" civilians, including children, who cheer the executioners on. While the news media fail to describe the hellish environment of Haditha, Paul Robinson, a former army intelligence officer and an expert on military ethics, is being courted by reporters as he warns that the effects of formal "sensitivity" training would be "blunted by peer pressure, military loyalty, and public desire in the US for revenge and forceful action." "Teaching the individual soldiers is not enough," he's quoted in The Guardian as saying, "Moral leadership needs to be exerted from on high, all the way down the chain of command.
His statement fits right in with the American news media's template for covering warfare in the 21st Century, including a slam at the American people -- as opposed to the American elite -- for being vengeful.
Do we really want to turn our fighting forces into "sensitive" wimps or do we want the toughest, fiercest fighting force in world? Unlike the clowns who make statements about "cold-blooded murder," "innocent civilians," and other comments, I don't know what happened in Haditha. I do know that generalizing about US Marines -- or any military service -- based on the actions of a few is wrong. Same as it's wrong to judge all police officers based on the actions of a few; or judging an entire group such as Muslims based on the actions of a few.
Australia's most Leftist government rejects homosexual marriage
The Bracks Government has rebuffed a push to introduce gay civil union laws through the Victorian Parliament. Independent MP and ex-Liberal Andrew Olexander has drawn up a private members bill permitting officially recognised gay unions in Victoria and this has drawn tentative support from state Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu. However Mr Bracks said his government would not be encouraging the issue in Victoria, and without Labor's support the Bill would probably be doomed. "That is not a matter on our agenda," Premier Steve Bracks said.
Mr Baillieu said he wanted to see how the Olexander Bill was drafted. "I don't have a problem with the notion of civil unions," Mr Baillieu said. "The definition of that is still to be determined, but if it goes to the registration of relationships . . . and helps people manage their relationships when they're together and separating, I'm comfortable."
In an unusual move the ACT Government is planning to use the authority of the Governor-General to recognise the Territory's powers to enact its own laws. Yesterday, the ACT Assembly drafted an address to Governor-General Michael Jeffrey, which will be carried by the Speaker to the vice-regal residence. At least some pro-gay MPs are planning to accompany the Speaker carrying the Assembly's Mace to Yarralumla. The Howard Government's move to overturn the ACT civil union laws has created a storm from gay activists and supporters of states' rights. Mr Olexander's Bill is expected to come before the State Parliament prior to November's state poll.
9 June, 2006
A Canadian Government Agrees to Mandatory Homosexual Curriculum with No Opt-Out for Students or Parents
A homosexual teacher and his same-sex partner who launched a human rights complaint with the British Columbia government have settled with the Government of British Columbia. According to the homosexual activist who launched a human rights suit, homosexual issues will soon be a mandatory part of school curricula taught in classrooms throughout the province, without the ability of students or parents to opt out.
BC's Ministry of Education and Ministry of the Attorney-General agreed to review the province's curricula to ensure that the issue of homosexuality is included in all so-called 'social justice' discussions - such as those involving racial inequality and women's rights. The decision was the result of a settlement reached with Murray and Peter Corren, who launched their formal human rights complaint in 1999, which alleged "systemic sexual discrimination" in the classroom.
However, a key element in the Corren complaint was the attempt to ensure that the courses teaching positively about homosexuality are mandatory, and that neither students nor parents are able to opt-out. Speaking at the time of the launch of the human rights action, last July, the activists' legal council, Tim Timberg, said, "The second issue is there's an opting-out provision in the curriculum that where a subject is deemed to be sensitive, the school teachers are under an obligation to in advance advise parents that they'll be raising a sensitive issue in the classroom."
Coquitlam teacher Murray Corren told the Vancouver Sun today that the settlement will also make it more difficult for students and parents to opt out of lessons dealing with sexual orientation.
Attorney-General Wally Oppal said Wednesday that the province was indeed shaping a new 'social justice' course that will incorporate the homosexual issues. "I think it's a fair settlement," he claimed. "We listened to their [the Correns'] complaints and we decided there was some merit in what they were suggesting." Oppal added that he hoped British Columbians were a "mature enough society" to accept "that there is an understanding that there is a place for this in our curriculum."
A press release from the BC Government notes that in addition to revamping the provinces educational curriculum to ensure it "reflects inclusion" for the homosexual lifestyle, the province is commencing immediately to offer an elective grade 12 course on "justice and equality" which will address "sexual orientation.
Corinna Filion, spokesman for the Ministry of Education told LifeSiteNews.com that the agreement included provisions to bar some parents and students who had been opting for home education or other arrangements on topics of sexuality. While the province will still allow parents and students those alternative options when it comes to sex education (health and career courses), students will be forced to remain in classes dealing with sexual orientation outside of sexual education in spite of any objections students or their parents my have. "For example in social studies if they are reading a book about same sex families . . . the policy (of allowing for alternative arrangements) would not apply," explained Filion.
Feminists trying to deny reality
Like so many women, Suzanne Holstein, a schoolteacher and mother of two, has had her struggles balancing motherhood and career. So she was sympathetic when she heard that ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas, a woman she admires, was stepping down from her prestigious evening-news perch to focus on her growing family.
And yet, like many women across the country, Holstein is not only a little disappointed by Vargas' move, but a little suspicious. "I can't believe that a woman who's worked so hard to get where she is would just resign like that," says Holstein, 39. "I think they pushed her out." Empathy, respect, disappointment, suspicion: women seem to be expressing all those emotions when they discuss Vargas, co-anchor of "World News Tonight" until this week, when she was replaced by Charles Gibson. If she was pushed aside - and she denies it - it's troubling, they say. If she wasn't, it's even more troubling to some, who see it as a reminder of just how difficult it is to "have it all" - even when you have as much going for you as she does.
Vargas, 43, is hardly a household name like Katie Couric, whose ascension to the sole anchor chair at CBS was hailed by many as a breakthrough for women when it was announced in April. Yet when Vargas was named ABC co-anchor along with Bob Woodruff last December, she immediately became one of the most visible women in America.
Only weeks later, Woodruff was gravely wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq, forcing Vargas to go solo. The following month, she announced her pregnancy, which she says was unexpected. With ratings falling, she was permanently replaced on the evening news this week by the 63-year-old Gibson. (She'll return from maternity leave to co-anchor "20/20.") Vargas said she'd felt no pressure from above to step down, but did so for the good of her family. "Every woman has the right to make that decision for herself and her family without anybody judging it," she told The Associated Press at the time.
Feminist groups say Vargas is just being publicly graceful about what was really her abrupt removal from the job. "We see it as a demotion," says Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation and one of the country's most recognizable feminists. "We're worried. Is this a return to the days when it was tougher for women to get ahead?" Smeal was one of three feminist leaders to sign a letter this week to the heads of ABC, asking them to reinstate Vargas. "This clear demotion signals a dispiriting return to the days of discrimination against women that we thought were behind us," said the letter. It asked the network to find a work schedule that would allow Vargas to be both a dedicated mother and a dedicated journalist - and even brought a little show business into the equation, decrying ABC's cancellation of "Commander in Chief," starring Geena Davis as the first woman president.
"You have now managed to eliminate two of the country's most visible women role models," said the letter, also signed by Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, and Susan Scanlan, chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations.
Certainly, there are those who believe that Vargas' move was a personal choice and nothing more. "I would take her at her word," says Christina Hoff Sommers, a resident scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, whose writings are often critical of feminist groups. "By now there are so many prominent women out there. Women have never been doing better." But whether Vargas was forced out may not be the real issue, says Geneva Overholser, a former ombudsman for The Washington Post. Whether it was her choice or not, she certainly speaks the truth - it's HARD to make it work," says Overholser of the mommy-work conundrum. Two decades ago, when faced with the possibility of a big new job, Overholser passed it up, she says - like Vargas, she had one child and was pregnant with another. "I felt I couldn't do it," she said. Later, she became editor of The Des Moines Register, and as it turns out, "I know I was a much better editor because I was a mother."
The message to take from the Vargas story, says Overholser, now at the Washington bureau of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, is that while some women manage to combine work and parenthood well, "we mustn't ever think it's easy. And yet, we must never think it's impossible."
Holstein, the Maryland schoolteacher, knows very well that it's not easy. About a year ago, her husband, an engineering consultant, was working in Iraq and her older daughter was having a rough adjustment to high school. Her daughter needed her; the balance wasn't working. And so she took a year's leave of absence to be with her child. She returned to her job a few months ago. What she's learned, she says, is that you simply can't have it all. "You can't have the perfect marriage, home, children and career, AND be happy," she says. "Something's gotta give."
Are Americans Suffering Diversity Fatigue?
Rather surprisingly, the article below is from "Time" magazine
Has it become okay to exclude again? Perhaps one of the most treasured of American rights is the freedom of association. This is the right to hang out with whomever we want, wherever we want. It's a complicated right, because when we hang out with "people like us," inevitably someone gets kept out. Where and how to draw the line is a question we all seem to be struggling with right now.
Black Jack, Mo., made national headlines late last month when it drew its firm line. An unmarried couple with three children tried to move into the house they had just bought. The house is zoned for single family residences-and the city decided this family does not fit their legal definition of family. The couple pleaded with the city council to change the law. The city said no, and intends to evict. When this news broke, many assumed Black Jack must be one of those white, religious conservative towns in the Bible Belt. But Black Jack turned out to be a suburb of St. Louis, and it's 70% African American. Their enforcement of the zoning doesn't seem to be motivated by race or religion-just a genuine desire to preserve the pro-family environment.
My friends in liberal Manhattan were appalled. "It could never happen here," they insisted. But it is happening there-at the corner of 70th and Broadway. The Sherman Square condominium tower rejected the application of an unmarried couple. (No, the couple is not gay.) The co-op says it isn't a moral judgment. It feels it shouldn't be forced into a legal contract with two people who are not even willing to be legally bound to each other. Isn't that reasonable?
Down in central Florida, developers have broken ground on a new township called Ave Maria, which they hope will be populated with conservative Catholics. The town will surround a colossal church, shaped like a pontiff's hat, with a 65-foot crucifix at the front door. They're also moving a university from Michigan to Florida, so the students and faculty can seed the town. If you're a parent who does not want your child to attend the Catholic elementary school, you will have to put your child on a school bus to be educated elsewhere in the county-Ave Maria plans no public schools. The planners know darn well they can't exclude non-Catholics from buying one of the 11,000 planned homes. But they won't need to.
These anecdotes make us liberals uncomfortable, but isn't congregating with like-minded people a natural impulse? Lawyers like to drink at lawyer bars, and moms have their mommy groups. Cubs fans don't go to White Sox games, and while Girl Scout troops don't exclude lesbians, they do exclude boys. Nor should we assume this urge to withdraw is only a conservative tactic. In the state of Nebraska, the only black member of the state legislature is Ernie Chambers. Ernie is so liberal that a colleague in the legislature said, "Ernie sees racism when he pours his breakfast cereal." But Ernie Chambers recently pushed through a new bill that carves Omaha's school district into three-a black district, a white district, and a Hispanic district. He thinks this will protect black schools from being cheated of their fair share of bond proceeds. He also says black families should decide what black children are being taught. They think they'll be better off taking care their own.
Meanwhile, out in Northern California there's a city called Hercules which decided it hates Wal-Mart. Hercules wants to build a cozy tree-lined street of small shops where an old dynamite plant used to be. They don't mind chains, like Starbucks and The Gap. They just don't want a Wal-Mart, which they believe will crush the small stores like sugar ants. Hercules has found no legal means of forbidding Wal-Mart from building on the vacant lot it owns, so this week the city voted to use eminent domain and take the $15 million lot from Wal-Mart. So far that appears legal. Across the Bay in San Francisco, people cheered.
Even in socialist France, they now want immigrants to swear to their love of French culture. We can't do that here, because we protect free speech, so we're just making English our "official," language, and leaving the rest implied.
People are willing to be tolerant, but past a certain point it feels like being ordered to eat the peas. So at West Side High School in Gary, Ind., school officials let a transgendered teen named Kevin Logan come to school in drag every day. He's a popular boy who performs with the girls on drill team. But last weekend, when Kevin showed up at the prom in a slinky fuschia dress, he was barred from entry by the principal. They already had a rule that boys can't wear dresses to the prom. Kevin's classmates were angry. But much of the country is siding with the principal. I disagree here. If a boy has already spent $200 on a manicure and pedicure, he should be allowed to showcase his glamorous toes.
It's clear people are tired of walking on eggshells, afraid to offend those with different beliefs, ideas, and lifestyles. It's grown exhausting, and they want their lives back. The idea of diversity seems to have worn out its welcome. It is now like a house guest who has stayed too long. e don't want to lose what makes us "us." We're freezing up, right as our melting pot gets to the melting point, and our disparate identities are about to blur away. Can we as a society turn the heat back on without passions becoming so inflamed?
Australia: Black child molesters' sentences increased -- slightly
Two Aborigines who sexually abused a seven-month-old baby and a two-year-old girl have had their sentences almost doubled. Northern Territory Chief Justice Brian Martin described the original jail terms imposed on the men as "so manifestly inadequate as to shock the public conscience". He had wanted to impose even harsher sentences on the two, whose crimes prompted a national debate on violence in Aboriginal communities, but had been prevented from doing so by the principle of double jeopardy. Both cases were raised last month by Alice Springs prosecutor Nanette Rogers as she detailed the high rate of violence and sexual assault in remote indigenous communities. She declined to comment yesterday.
Gerhardt Max Inkamala, 21, pleaded guilty to digitally penetrating a seven-month-old girl's vagina, causing injuries that required surgery, at Hermannsburg, north of Alice Springs, in late 2003. He was sentenced to five years in prison, with a non-parole period of four years. But following a prosecution appeal, three judges in the Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday increased that sentence to nine years in jail, with a non-parole period of seven years.
In the second case, Morgan Jabanardi Riley, 27, was originally sentenced to six years in jail and a non-parole period of four years and six months for sexually assaulting a two-year-old girl at Tennant Creek. Riley took the child into the bush and digitally penetrated her vagina and anus as she screamed in pain. The court increased that sentence yesterday to eight years' imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 6 1/2 years.
Justice Martin - who last year sentenced an Aboriginal elder to a month behind bars for having sex with a 14-year-old girl promised to him as a wife - said the circumstances of the offenders were "depressingly familiar". "While those circumstances excite considerable sympathy, they can receive only very limited weight by way of mitigation when viewed against the gravity of the respondents' criminal conduct," he said.
8 June, 2006
Prison Fellowship Ministries Forced to Close Bible Program at Iowa Prison
Prisoners can get free education, medical, cable TV, etc. but can't have Bible study..
A judge has ruled that a Bible-based prison program violates the First Amendment's freedom of religion clause by using state funds to promote Christianity to inmates. Prison Fellowship Ministries, which was sued in 2003 by an advocacy group, was ordered Friday to cease its program at the Newton Correctional Facility and repay the state $1.53 million.
"This calls into question the funding for so many programs," said Barry Lynn, executive director of the Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which filed the suit. "Anyone who doesn't stop it is putting a giant 'sue me' sign on top of their building." Lynn's group accused Prison Fellowship Ministries of giving preferential treatment to inmates participating in the program. They were given special visitation rights, movie-watching privileges, access to computers and access to classes needed for early parole.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt called the perks "seemingly minor benefits" that constituted unfair treatment to those not in the religious program. Despite any claims of rehabilitating inmates, the program "impermissibly endorses religion," Pratt wrote.
The InnerChange Freedom Initiative was implemented in Newton in 1999. State prison officials have said they hired the religious group to improve inmate behavior and reduce recidivism - not promote Christianity. Ministry president Mark Earley said in a statement Friday that the group plans to appeal the ruling and believes its program is constitutional. "This decision, if allowed to stand, will enshrine religious discrimination," Earley said. "It has attacked the right of people of faith to operate on a level playing field in the public arena and to provide services to those who volunteered to receive them."
The judge gave the group's workers 60 days to leave the prison, though he put a stay on his order, meaning the decision won't officially be implemented until the appeals process is complete.
Source. More details here
BLACK HATE CRIME
In view of the Leftist credo that only whites can be racist, I thought I might post the story below. Note that the TV channel from which the post is taken has a logo for hate crime that depicts a BLACK hand! What IS the world coming to?
Concrete Toss Incident Being Treated As Bias Crime: Nassau Police said Carl Graves has been arrested before for hurling rocks, but that this time it had a horrible, hurtful message. The motivation, they said, was about the color of the victim's skin.
Kim McCandless of West Islip strapped her children into her minivan she'd driven to the Sunrise Mall, where police said an angry 20-year-old man intentionally picked up a chunk of concrete and hurled it at her windshield as she was driving into the mall. In the backseat were two of Kim's little ones, along with a niece and nephew. McCandless was obviously shaken. ”If this rock had crashed through the window, would it have fazed him, that he hurt innocent little kids, or me? I could be dead,” McCandless said. Kim said she watched in disbelief as the suspect and a few of his friends then sauntered away, laughing.
Witnesses helped police with descriptions, and they picked up Graves, of Amityville. And what he allegedly told investigators has startled the entire community. Detective Lt. Karl Schoepp of the Nassau County Police Department provided a description. “The subject was walking around the mall with a few friends, and were discussing the fact that with the closing of the arcade, and movie theatre, that the mall had 'become too white.'" "This fueled his rage. He picked up a rock, about six inches of heavy concrete, and held it in his pocket waiting to do something.”
McCandless' shock has turned into anger. “It's a bias crime," she said. "To know it's about a skin color bothers me even more. I have to raise four kids.” The physical damage can be repaired but Kim and her husband, Christopher, who are religious, acknowledge that this act of alleged unprovoked racism leaves the family searching for answers. ”You read about stuff like this," Christopher McCandless said. "You don't expect it to happen to you.” Added Kim McCandless: ”Race. It shouldn't be about that. It should be about life.”
Now years of life -- one family facing years of emotional hardship. And a young man who pleaded not guilty, and is being held on $10,000 bond, facing seven years for hate crime charges.
Australian PM firmly against homosexual marriage
Prime Minister John Howard said today he had scuttled the ACT's homosexual unions law because it challenged a major characteristic of Australian society. "The Bill is plainly an attempt to mimic marriage under the misleading title of civil unions," Mr Howard told ABC radio. "We are not anti-homosexual people or gay and lesbian people, it is not a question of discriminating against them, it is a question of preserving as an institution in our society marriage as having a special character."
Australian Greens leader Bob Brown said he would try to stop the Government using their constitutional powers to quash the territory's law. "Kerry Nettle on behalf of the Greens will move (a) disallowance (motion) in the Senate and that means there will be a vote, following a debate," Senator Brown told ABC radio. But Labor, which the Greens need for their motion to succeed, has not immediately offered their support to the plan. Opposition Leader Kim Beazley said he would look at the ACT legislation before making a decision. "We will take a careful look at what the ACT has come out with and we will determine our position on the basis of that analysis," Mr Beazley told ABC radio.
Earlier, the ACT Government condemned the decision to overturn the territory laws, vowing to take its fight to the Governor-General. Attorney-General Philip Ruddock emerged from a cabinet meeting yesterday with a directive to the Governor-General to use Commonwealth powers to scrap the territory laws before they could be used. The ACT Parliament voted just three weeks ago to allow gay couples to enter into a civil union, with almost the same status as marriage. But Prime Minister John Howard said it was unacceptable that the laws would have equated civil unions with marriage.
ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said he would lobby his federal Labor colleagues and Governor-General Michael Jeffery not accept the Howard Government's decision. "I can make representations to the governor-general imploring him not to be party to an act that would discriminate against Australian citizens who have a different sexual orientation," Mr Stanhope told ABC radio. "I would be gravely disappointed if my federal colleagues, in the Labor Party did not seek at least - acknowledging the numbers in the Federal Parliament - to have the disallowable instrument disallowed. "It is simply not appropriate that federal parliament, through its processes, send that signal that the Federal Parliament of Australia believes it's appropriate to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples." Mr Stanhope said he was angry and disappointed by Cabinet's decision and accused the Government of conjuring a "wedge issue". "The Prime Minister, I believe, is simply using another marginalised, disempowered group for his, I think, quite odious political purposes," he said.
Federal Parliament, with Labor's support, voted in 2004 to explicitly define marriage in the Marriage Act as a union between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others. Mr Ruddock said that even with amendments to the civil union laws designed to address federal concerns, the ACT was still being deliberately confrontational.
The Federal Opposition's attorney-general spokeswoman Nicola Roxon urged Coalition MPs to reject the move and said she would urge caucus to disallow it. "This is another stunning example of the Howard Government's arrogance, riding roughshod over the democratically elected ACT legislature," she said. The Australian Greens said they would also oppose the Government's "discriminatory" decision. "John Howard is yet again exposing his homophobic attitude towards some members of our community," Greens Senator Kerry Nettle said. The Federal Government's decision follows a push by United States President George W. Bush for a constitutional ban on gay marriage.
Why I Published the Muhammad Cartoons
By Flemming Rose
European political correctness allows Muslims to resist integration, argues the culture editor of Jyllands-Posten. Instead, Muslims should be treated just like all Europeans -- including being subject to satire. He argues that publishing the caricatures was an act of "inclusion, not exclusion."
The worldwide furor unleashed by the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed that I published last September in Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper where I work, was both a surprise and a tragedy, especially for those directly affected by it. Lives were lost, buildings were torched and people were driven into hiding.
And yet the unbalanced reactions to the not-so-provocative caricatures -- loud denunciations and even death threats toward us, but very little outrage toward the people who attacked two Danish Embassies -- unmasked unpleasant realities about Europe's failed experiment with multiculturalism. It's time for the Old Continent to face facts and make some profound changes in its outlook on immigration, integration and the coming Muslim demographic surge. After decades of appeasement and political correctness, combined with growing fear of a radical minority prepared to commit serious violence, Europe's moment of truth is here
Europe today finds itself trapped in a posture of moral relativism that is undermining its liberal values. An unholy three-cornered alliance between Middle East dictators, radical imams who live in Europe and Europe's traditional left wing is enabling a politics of victimology. This politics drives a culture that resists integration and adaptation, perpetuates national and religious differences and aggravates such debilitating social ills as high immigrant crime rates and entrenched unemployment.
As one who once championed the utopian state of multicultural bliss, I think I know what I'm talking about. I was raised on the ideals of the 1960s, in the midst of the Cold War. I saw life through the lens of the countercultural turmoil, adopting both the hippie pose and the political superiority complex of my generation. I and my high school peers believed that the West was imperialistic and racist. We analyzed decaying Western civilization through the texts of Marx and Engels and lionized John Lennon's beautiful but stupid tune about an ideal world without private property: "Imagine no possessions/ I wonder if you can/ No need for greed or hunger/ A brotherhood of man/ Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world."
It took me only 10 months as a young student in the Soviet Union in 1980-81 to realize what a world without private property looks like, although many years had to pass until the full implications of the central Marxist dogma became clear to me.
That experience was the beginning of a long intellectual journey that has thus far culminated in the reactions to the Muhammed cartoons. Politically, I came of age in the Soviet Union. I returned there in 1990 to spend 11 years as a foreign correspondent. Through close contact with courageous dissidents who were willing to suffer and go to prison for their belief in the ideals of Western democracy, I was cured of my wooly dreams of idealistic collectivism. I had a strong sense of the high price my friends were willing to pay for the very freedoms that we had taken for granted in high school -- but did not grasp as values inherent in our civilization: freedom of speech, religion, assembly and movement. Justice and equality implies equal opportunity, I learned, not equal outcome.
Now, in Europe's failure to grapple realistically with its dramatically changing demographic picture, I see a new parallel to that Cold War journey. Europe's left is deceiving itself about immigration, integration and Islamic radicalism today the same way we young hippies deceived ourselves about Marxism and communism 30 years ago. It is a narrative of confrontation and hierarchy that claims that the West exploits, abuses and marginalizes the Islamic world. Left-wing intellectuals have insisted that the Danes were oppressing and marginalizing Muslim immigrants. This view comports precisely with the late Edward Said's model of Orientalism, which argues that experts on the Orient and the Muslim world have not depicted it as it is but as some dreaded "other," as exactly the opposite of ourselves -- that should therefore to be rejected. The West, in this narrative, is democratic, the East is despotic. We are rational, they are irrational.
This kind of thinking gave birth to a distorted approach to immigration in countries like Denmark. Left-wing commentators decided that Denmark was both racist and Islamophobic. Therefore, the chief obstacle to integration was not the immigrants' unwillingness to adapt culturally to their adopted country (there are 200,000 Danish Muslims now); it was the country's inherent racism and anti-Muslim bias.
A cult of victimology arose and was happily exploited by clever radicals among Europe's Muslims, especially certain religious leaders like Imam Ahmad Abu Laban in Denmark and Mullah Krekar in Norway. Mullah Krekar -- a Kurdish founder of Ansar al Islam who this spring was facing an expulsion order from Norway -- called our publication of the cartoons "a declaration of war against our religion, our faith and our civilization. Our way of thinking is penetrating society and is stronger than theirs. This causes hate in the Western way of thinking; as the losing side, they commit violence."
The role of victim is very convenient because it frees the self-declared victim from any responsibility, while providing a posture of moral superiority. It also obscures certain inconvenient facts that might suggest a different explanation for the lagging integration of some immigrant groups -- such as the relatively high crime rates, the oppression of women and a tradition of forced marriage.
Dictatorships in the Middle East and radical imams have adopted the jargon of the European left, calling the cartoons racist and Islamophobic. When Westerners criticize their lack of civil liberties and the oppression of women, they say we behave like imperialists. They have adopted the rhetoric and turned it against us.
These events are occurring against the disturbing backdrop of increasingly radicalized Muslims in Europe. Muhammed Atta, the 9/11 ringleader, became a born-again Muslim after he moved to Europe. So did the perpetrators behind the bombings in Madrid and London. The same goes for Mohammed Bouyeri, the young Muslim who slaughtered filmmaker Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam. Europe, not the Middle East, may now be the main breeding ground for Islamic terrorism.
Lessons from the United States
What's wrong with Europe? For one thing, Europe's approach to immigration and integration is rooted in its historic experience with relatively homogeneous cultures. In the United States one's definition of nationality is essentially political; in Europe it is historically cultural. I am a Dane because I look European, speak Danish, descend from centuries of other Scandinavians. But what about the dark, bearded new Danes who speak Arabic at home and poor Danish in the streets? We Europeans must make a profound cultural adjustment to understand that they, too, can be Danes.
Another great impediment to integration is the European welfare state. Because Europe's highly developed, but increasingly unaffordable, safety nets provide such strong unemployment insurance and not enough incentive to work, many new immigrants go straight onto the dole.
While it can be argued that the fast-growing community of about 20 million Muslim immigrants in Europe is the equivalent of America's new Hispanic immigrants, the difference in their productivity and prosperity is staggering. An Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development study in 1999 showed that while immigrants in the United States are almost equal to native-born workers as taxpayers and contributors to American prosperity, in Denmark there is a glaring gap of 41 percent between the contributions of the native-born and of the immigrants. In the United States, a laid-off worker gets an average of 32 percent compensation for his former wages in welfare services; in Denmark the figure is 81 percent. A culture of welfare dependency is rife among immigrants, and it is taken for granted.
What to do? Obviously, we can never return to the comfortable monocultures of old. A demographic revolution is changing the face, and look, of Europe. In an age of mass migration and the Internet, cheap air fares and mobile phones everywhere, cultural pluralism is an irreversible fact, like it or not. A nostalgic longing for cultural purity -- racial purity, religious purity -- easily descends into ethnic cleansing.
Yet multiculturalism that has all too often become mere cultural relativism is an indefensible proposition that often justifies reactionary and oppressive practices. Giving the same weight to the illiberal values of conservative Islam as to the liberal traditions of the European Enlightenment will, in time, destroy the very things that make Europe such a desirable target for migration.
Europe must shed the straitjacket of political correctness, which makes it impossible to criticize minorities for anything -- including violations of laws, traditional mores and values that are central to the European experience. Two experiences tell the tale for me.
Shortly after the horrific 2002 Moscow musical theater siege by Chechen terrorists that left 130 dead, I met with one of my old dissident friends, Sergei Kovalev. A hero of the human rights movement in the old Soviet Union, Kovalev had long been a defender of the Chechens and a critic of the Russian attacks on Chechnya. But after the theater massacre he refused, as always, to indulge in politically correct drivel about the Chechens' just fight for secession and decolonization. He unhesitatingly denounced the terrorists, and insisted that a nation's right to self-determination did not imply a free ticket to kill and violate basic individual rights. For me, it was a clarifying moment on the dishonesty of identity politics and the sometime tyranny of elevating group rights above those of individuals -- of justifying the killing of innocents in the name of some higher cause.
The other experience was a trip I made in the 1990s, when I was a correspondent based in the United States, to the Brighton Beach neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y. There I wrote a story about the burgeoning, bustling, altogether vibrant Russian immigrant community that had arisen there -- a perfect example of people retaining some of their old cultural identity (drinking samovars of tea, playing hours of chess and attending church) while quickly taking advantage of America's free and open capitalism to establish an economic foothold. I marveled at America's ability to absorb newcomers. It was another clarifying moment
An act of inclusion.
Equal treatment is the democratic way to overcome traditional barriers of blood and soil for newcomers. To me, that means treating immigrants just as I would any other Danes. And that's what I felt I was doing in publishing the 12 cartoons of Muhammad last year. Those images in no way exceeded the bounds of taste, satire and humor to which I would subject any other Dane, whether the queen, the head of the church or the prime minister. By treating a Muslim figure the same way I would a Christian or Jewish icon, I was sending an important message: You are not strangers, you are here to stay, and we accept you as an integrated part of our life. And we will satirize you, too. It was an act of inclusion, not exclusion; an act of respect and recognition.
Alas, some Muslims did not take it that way -- though it required a highly organized campaign, several falsified (and very nasty) cartoons and several months of overseas travel for the aggrieved imams to stir up an international reaction.
Maybe Europe needs to take a leaf -- or a whole book -- from the American experience. In order for new Europe of many cultures that is somehow a single entity to emerge, in a manner similar to the experience of the United States, both sides will have to make an effort -- the native-born and the newly arrived.
For the immigrants, the expectation that they not only learn the host language but also respect their new countries' political and cultural traditions is not too much to demand, and some stringent (maybe too stringent) new laws are being passed to force that. At the same time, Europeans must show a willingness to jettison entrenched notions of blood and soil and accept people from foreign countries and cultures as just what they are, the new Europeans.
7 June, 2006
EU "GIRLS' NIGHT" BAN
Ladies' nights which give women cheap booze or free entry to bars and clubs face a ban. The European Union wants goods and services offered to both sexes equally. Licensing expert Lisa Sharkey said: "Ladies' nights would have to stop." Each member state will set a fine but single-sex private clubs and sports events with a "legitimate aim" may be exempt. Rosie Davenport of pub trade magazine the Morning Advertiser said: "Brussels is taking political correctness too far." The directive is due to come into force by December 2007.
WICKED BORDER PATROL DOING AN EFFICIENT JOB
A civil rights lawyer on Wednesday demanded authorities investigate a roundup of hundreds of undocumented immigrants in what he called a desert dragnet based on racial profiling. In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, attorney Luis Carrillo claimed U.S. Border Patrol agents only pulled over people with brown skin in the five-day operation known as "Operation Desert Denial." More than 600 undocumented immigrants were detained from May 19 to May 24 along Interstate 40 near Barstow.
No light-skinned people were detained, Carrillo said. "They gave people with blue eyes and light skin a free pass," he said. Carrillo also criticized authorities for focusing efforts far from the border. He said he did not plan to file a lawsuit against the Border Patrol.
Tamara Faulkner, a spokeswoman for the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, said she was not aware of Carrillo's demand for an investigation and declined to comment. Carl L. McClafferty, chief patrol agent of the Border Patrol division that handled the operation, said in a written statement that authorities were targeting a human smuggling route for immigrants who had crossed into Arizona and Texas from Mexico. The statement said officers only pulled over vehicles that looked suspicious, but it did not reveal what criteria was used to make that determination. Border Patrol spokeswoman Martha Silva refused further comment.
At a news conference, Carrillo introduced a child of a woman who was detained and deported. He called the girl "a victim of this harassment." Teary-eyed, 12-year-old Wendy Ortiz said she and her two younger brothers were awakened by Border Patrol agents who shone a spotlight into a car being driven by her mother Violeta then bumped it and pulled it over.
The sixth-grader said the family had been traveling overnight to Barstow from their Phoenix home to buy wholesale kitchen supplies.
After determining that Violeta Ortiz was not a legal immigrant, the agents shouted at her and threatened to separate her from the children unless she waived a hearing and signed an order that led to her deportation to Mexico, the girl said. "She didn't want to hear any more screaming, so she just signed," said Wendy Ortiz, who like her 7-year-old brother Jose and 4-year-old brother Miguel was born in this country. The children are now staying with an aunt in Los Angeles.
Ex-New York cop sacked from British probation service for putting public safety first
As you will see from the last sentence below, at least the crime-loving Brits have been forced to lie about their priorities. It's not much but maybe it's a start
As a police officer on the streets of New York, it was Terrence Houlahan's duty to protect the public from violent crooks. But when he moved to Britain and joined the probation service in Essex, he was shocked to discover there was quite a different approach to law and order. Mr Houlahan, 39, repeatedly clashed with his new bosses because they failed to discipline or send back to prison criminals who breached the terms of their community sentences or parole.
The situation reached breaking point when Mr Houlahan refused to join collective cheering for a fictional character called 'Billy the offender' at a motivational conference. The New Yorker was sacked after an official report into his behaviour found 'he appears to see public protection as the key task in his role and could not identify with the idea of rehabilitation of offenders'.
In one astonishing case, Mr Houlahan was staggered when a man of 23 who breached the terms of his licence by threatening his parents was given an 'anger diary' instead of being put behind bars. Weeks later the thug assaulted his mother and father and beat up a police officer. He was sentenced to four months in prison.
Mr Houlahan now plans to take the probation service to an employment tribunal. He claims he was unfairly dismissed last October after complaints of insubordination, inappropriate behaviour towards colleagues and unauthorised absence. He was also found to have breached health and safety rules by failing to take a full hour off for his lunch break. [Incomprehensible to the lazy Brits]
Mr Houlahan, who moved to Britain after meeting his British wife Nichola, told The Sunday Times: "I wanted to bring the skills I learnt as an NYPD cop to the probation service. "Seeing the results of crime on the ground, I thought it was my duty to help protect the public. "The probation service were more interested in the so-called rights of the offender and hellbent on keeping him out of jail than actually looking at the facts."
Last month it emerged that more than 10,000 crimes a month are committed by offenders on probation. Mr Houlahan, of Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, is a former sergeant in the US special forces. He served with the New York Police Department from 1998 to 2000. He agrees that the reform of offenders is important, but believes public protection must come first. "Working for the probation service was totally different from how I imagined it," he said. "I didn't join it to sit in swanky hotels cheering for Billy the offender but to protect the public."
In another incident, he was suspended for three weeks for 'violating the confidentiality' of a criminal he had removed from a group workshop because he was racially insulting participants. Mr Houlahan claims he was told by managers that the offender had only insulted others 'when he was angry'.
Essex probation service declined to comment on the detail of Mr Houlahan's allegations or on its policies, because of the possible legal action. A spokesman said: "Mr Houlahan was dismissed after a thorough disciplinary investigation, and a subsequent appeal, which was unanimously dismissed. "The probation service has as its absolute primary aim the prevention of further crime."
A Dose of Common Sense: Congress is poised to rescue California from food-regulation hell
It has been said that California is a decade ahead of the rest of the country in adopting new ideas. That may have been true for some icons of American culture such as skinny half-caf lattes, cut-off jeans, and spandex, but we Californians seem to lag behind in making public policy.
The principle that "the dose makes the poison"-in other words, that almost any substance can be toxic at very high levels-has been lost on Californians. That is why a two-decade-old ballot proposition, commonly known as "Prop 65," requires signs in most commercial establishments-from supermarkets to pet stores to hotel lobbies-proclaiming that consumers may be exposed to chemicals that can cause cancer or birth defects.
Not that in the overwhelming majority of cases there's any greater risk than in, say, household cleaning products, but the law requires a warning about any product that contains even tiny amounts of a chemical that, at high doses, can cause cancer in lab animals.
Prop 65 is a paragon of bad government, but help may be on the way from an unlikely quarter: the U.S. Congress. The National Uniformity for Food Act, previously passed in the House of Representatives by a wide bipartisan margin and introduced in the Senate on May 25, would mandate the kind of uniform national food-safety labeling that now provides nutrition and allergy information. This progressive measure would ensure that consistent food-safety information is available nationwide and is driven by science instead of by nutrition fads, junk science, food scares, or political pressure from special-interest groups. It would relegate Prop 65 to the trash heap of regulatory history.
However, illustrating once again that in politics no good deed goes unpunished, California's three most senior politicians-Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, and Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger-are opposed to this legislative rescue.
Their opposition is inexplicable. Prop 65 requires businesses to provide warnings on all consumer products that might expose state residents to traces of chemicals presumed to cause cancer or birth defects. The law lists more than 750 "dangerous" chemicals that, at huge doses, might cause cancer in lab rats. Human health or economic benefits are deemed irrelevant, as is research that indicates that a chemical in fact poses no human health risk.
Prop 65 simply ignores the reality that we live in a sea of chemicals-toxins, radioactive elements, and the like, the vast majority of them naturally occurring. And, as observed by eminent UC Berkeley toxicologists Bruce Ames and Lois Gold, "no human diet can be free of naturally occurring chemicals that are rodent carcinogens."
The unscientific underpinnings of Prop 65-the legal equivalent of the boy who cried wolf-have led to all sorts of absurdities. Cocoa beans grown in volcanic soils contain trace amounts of naturally occurring cadmium. So, exploiting a "bounty hunter" provision in the law that encourages individuals and groups (and trial attorneys) to sue in the "public interest," a radical NGO has brought legal action against chocolate makers.
A chemical called acrylamide occurs naturally in a range of foods from bread to prunes because it is formed when foods are cooked, so California Attorney General (and governor wannabe) Bill Lockyer threatened to sue potato-chip and French-fry manufacturers-even though the FDA and the World Health Organization say there's no danger.
For much of the last two years, the publicity-hungry Lockyer litigated to require warning labels on canned tuna because trace amounts of mercury put companies selling it in violation of Prop 65. Never mind that tuna is high in protein, low in fat, provides essential nutrients, and is recommended by nutritionists as part of a balanced diet. Fortunately, California Superior Court Judge Robert Dondero recently rejected a requirement for tuna warnings, noting that the FDA has a national consumer-education campaign designed to inform consumers at higher risk without scaring others away from an affordable and nutritious source of protein.
Chocolate, acrylamide, and tuna are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the abusive provisions of Prop 65. NGOs have harassed the makers of products ranging from toothpaste to tattoo inks. Small businesses, especially, feel the financial pinch of this legalized extortion when legal fees and possible fines for Prop 65 violations threaten to exceed sales revenues.
Not only is Prop 65 detrimental to commerce, and not only does it fail to provide any benefit to public health, but let us remember who ultimately foots the bill: every American consumer who buys a product or service from a Prop 65-affected company.
If we Californians can't get rid of unscientific, ineffective, costly regulation on our own, our politicians should just stand aside and let Congress do it. The National Uniformity for Food Act will be good for California, and for the nation.
Come to Londonistan, our refuge for poor misunderstood Islamist victims
Melanie Phillips speaks out
According to remarks attributed in the past few days to security sources, no fewer than 1,200 Islamist terrorists are biding their time within British suburbs. Yet does Britain even now fully understand the nature of the threat it is facing, let alone have the will to deal with it? The recent report by the Commons Intelligence Committee on last July's London bombings barely scratched the surface of the failure by the security establishment. It failed to note, for example, Britain's dirty little secret: that from the 1990s, Islamist radicals had been given free rein in Britain in a "gentlemen's agreement" that if they were left alone, they would not turn on the country that was so generously nurturing them. The result was "Londonistan", as Britain became the hub of al-Qaeda in Europe.
This intelligence debacle, however, was only the tip of the iceberg. Among Britain's governing class -- its intelligentsia, its media, its politicians, its judiciary, its Church and even its police -- a broader and deeper cultural pathology persists to this day. Londonistan is more than the physical presence of Islamist extremists. It is also a state of mind. To a dismaying extent, the British have signed up to the false narrative of those who are laying siege to their society.
The problem lies in a refusal to acknowledge that Islamist extremism is rooted in religion. Instead, ministers and security officials prefer to think of it as a protest movement against grievances such as Iraq or Palestine, or "Islamophobia". They simply ignore the statements and signs that show unequivocally that the aim is to Islamicise the West.
In large measure, this is the outcome of a profound loss of cultural nerve. The doctrines of multiculturalism and minority rights, themselves the outcome of a systematic onslaught by the British elite against the countrys own identity and values, have paralysed the establishment, which accordingly shies away from criticising any minority for fear of being labelled as bigoted.
As a result, it ignored the radicalisation of many British Muslims by extremist Islamic institutions. Worse still, "grievance culture" has meant that instead of fighting the paranoia and lies driving the Islamists' hatred of the West, British society is afflicted by the very same pathology.
Minority rights doctrine has produced a moral inversion, in which those doing wrong are excused if they belong to a "victim" group, while those at the receiving end of their behaviour are blamed simply because they belong to the "oppressive" majority.
Britain effectively allowed itself to be taken hostage by militant gays, feminists or "anti-racists" who used weapons such as public vilification, moral blackmail and threats to people's livelihoods to force the majority to give in to their demands. So when radical Islamists refused to accept minority status and insisted instead that their values must trump those of the majority, Britain had no answer.
This was disastrous because Islamist violence is fuelled by precisely this false sense of victimisation. The mendacious message preached by Islamist leaders, that Britain and America are engaged in a war on Islam rather than a defence of their societies, is a potent incitement to terror by whipping up a hysteria that Muslims are under attack.
So any attempt by the West to defend itself against terror becomes a recruiting sergeant for that terror. The more atrocities committed against the West, the more the West tries to defend itself; and the more it does so, the more hysteria among Muslims rises that they are under attack, and the more they are thus incited to hatred and to terrorism.
The circle is completed by British fellow-travellers who promulgate the same morally inverted thinking, and thus help further to incite both Muslim extremism and Western defeatism. After the London bombings, this gave rise to the widely expressed view that the major problem was not Islamic terrorism but Islamophobia.
It is impossible to overstate the importance -- not just to Britain but to the global struggle against Islamist extremism -- of properly understanding and publicly challenging this moral, intellectual and philosophical inversion, which translates aggressor into victim and vice versa. For it has destabilised debate by allowing Muslims to argue that British and American foreign policy is unfair and aggressive towards the Muslim world.
So profound is the fear of being branded a bigot among British liberals that the obvious examples of illogicality, untruths and paranoia in such discourse have never been challenged.
The British Establishment also ignores this because it is in a state of denial. With few exceptions politicians, Whitehall officials, senior police and intelligence officers and academic experts have failed to grasp that the problem to be confronted is not just the assembly of bombs and poison factories but what is going on inside people's heads that drives them to such acts.
6 June, 2006
THE MOVEMENT TOWARDS GOVERNMENT-MANDATED MARRIAGE
Post lifted from Biased BBC
This BBC news article (link) appears to have swallowed completely the line the government is pushing about "giving more rights to cohabitees". There has been a suggestion from liberal lawyers that cohabiting couples should have the same "rights" on separation as divorcing couples. The BBC article buys completely the canard that this proposed interference in people's lives is somehow in pursuit of giving them rights. It completely fails to state the obvious intellectual challenge to this proposal, which is that imposing the same terms on cohabiting couples by default actually *removes* rights from them.
Oh yes it does. At present, cohabitees have the right to live together without a lifelong financial commitment to each other, if that's what they want. If they decide they do want to make such a commitment, they can always go and get married. At present they have complete freedom of choice.
If this mooted law ever happened, it would mean the *removal* from people of the right to live together in an informal way and a reduction of freedom. what would happen is that by default, and after some wholly arbitrary period of time, they would be forcibly connected financially. They have thus lost the freedom to live the way they do now, and would instead be forced to live in a way the Government decrees.
Nowhere in his article does the writer confront this. Instead, he cravenly accepts all the guff he has been spoonfed. 'What legal protection do cohabitees currently have?' worries Mr. Silverman. But wait: 'On separation,' he goes on, 'a claim to a share of property can be exercised only by using complicated trust law. By contrast, married couples can go to court to "divide the spoils"'. Well spotted, Jon! I think you just answered your own question there! That's right - the legal protection they have is that at any time they like, they can choose to become one of those married couples. Then there's no nasty trust law, see?
So if the BBC put two and two together it would work out that the answer here is for cohabiting couples who want a finacial piece of each other to get married. Meanwhile, those who don't, don't. Oh but wait. That last suggestion - well, that's how things are now. And that sounds a bit, well, pro-marriage, doesn't it? And we can't have any of that mucky talk on the BBC.
I could go on. For example, when someone lives with a family member who dies, what rights do they have to stay in the property? Answer: none at all if they can't pay the inheritance tax without selling it - a problem that has been solved for same-sex couples and is about to be forcibly solved (even though no problem may exist) for unmarried couples. Yet somehow, it isn't on the BBC radar at all as an issue for, say, maiden aunts sharing a house, or for children looking after elderly parents in their own home.
There is also a story arc embedded in this about the instability of the Left's attitudes to, well, everything really, but the family in particular. It was the left that pushed for the abolition of the family unit as the basic building block of society; it was the Left which thought it was somehow liberating for people not to have to get married before they had children. Now the Left seems to have decided that anybody who does will be forcibly treated as though they had got married. Now if you're the BBC, what to do, what to do? Should it agree with this (it's more "rights" after all, so it's right-on), or should it object to it because it's pushing marriage?
Who's the hypocrite?
The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cormac Murphy O' Connor, has sacked his press officer after discovering that he was an active homosexual. He has been attacked for 'hypocrisy', as a result. Can this be right? Many churches, especially the Roman Catholics and the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church of England, seem to attract homosexual people. We can only guess at the reasons for this, but it means the issue is always rather dangerous for them.
So they have developed various subtle ways of coping with this. The most obvious one, taken by Rome, is to say that having homosexual inclinations is just one of those things, but it is wrong to do homosexual acts. In practice, this allows quite a lot of looking the other way. It may not be wholly principled, but allows for a fair amount of personal kindness in return for discretion.
To a non-religious person, this may seem a bit daft. But that is the problem with modern society. It has no patience with religious notions, such as self-restraint. We all want total liberty to do what we want, when we want to, while desiring the full force of the state to descend on people who do things we don't like. The old-fashioned idea, that we should place chains on our own impulses, has practically vanished, and restraint is generally dismissed as mad, or as weakness.
Now, the RCs have taken a pretty strong and clear stand against any persecution of people for being homosexual. And it is this that is getting them into trouble. On the face of it, sacking a man for being rather obviously homosexual looks like crude personal intolerance. But is it really? Stephen Noon, described as a 'devout Catholic' is reported to have run into trouble when his 'long-term partner' visited him at the office and was introduced to the Archbishop. It would have been interesting to have been present at this encounter.
Did Mr Noon or his friend really expect that Cardinal Murphy O' Connor would be delighted to discover that his press officer was following this lifestyle? If he is a 'devout' Catholic he presumably knows the rules better than most. So surely he could have worked out that a meeting with this gentleman would place his boss in an awkward position. If they had wanted to, couldn't the two men could have kept the news from him indefinitely? Had they done so, wouldn't the Cardinal have left it at that?
Then we learn that Mr Noon did not take his case to an employment tribunal because - according to a 'friend' - he 'wanted to fight to change the Church's attitude to homosexuality from the inside'.
Well, I could have told him not to bother. Leave aside the fact that the Roman Catholic church doesn't work that way, some organisations just don't change certain things. If you worked for an Islamic organisation you would have a hard time campaigning against Sharia Law. If you worked for the Labour Party I think a campaign to get them to back restoration of the death penalty would be foredoomed. And if you were working as their press officer, I think it might lead to employment difficulties.
What baffles me, actually, is that a person who disagrees profoundly with the principles of an organisation, and actively ignores them in practice, should go to work for that organisation as a spokesman in the first place.
Now, if we still lived in 15th century and the Church controlled all employment and all ideas , as it once did, there would be an issue here. But as Mr Noon has shown, his skills as a press officer immediately led to him being employed by other organisations, Britain in Europe and now the Scottish National Party. I can only hope that he is keener on the policies of the SNP than he was on the policies of the Roman Catholic Church.
Like Communism, it MIGHT work some day
It's been two years since Arkansas schools started sending letters home to parents with their kids' report cards - letters telling them if their children were fat. Plenty of parents weren't happy. But a lot of them did something about it. Suddenly there were more visits to the pediatrician for talks about weight problems. Fitness class attendance is up. Diet pill use by high-schoolers is down. And more states are following Arkansas' lead, including California, Florida and Pennsylvania, which have adopted similar programs.
Dr. Karen Young, medical director for the pediatric fitness clinic at Arkansas Children's Hospital, told of a mother upset when she got word from school that her child was overweight. The mother wanted a second opinion from Young, but in the meantime, she cut sweets from the family diet and slimmed the child down before the appointment. "Even though she was upset with the letter and felt it was wrong, she still changed the family's lifestyle," Young said. "A lot of positive things have come out of those letters."
The letters record each child's body-mass index, the same weight-height formula used to calculate adult obesity. The first batch went out in the 2003-04 school year. Across the state 57 percent of doctors said they had at least one parent bring in their child's letter from the school for discussion during the last school year. Young said she's had more visits from parents seeking help for the entire family. "I don't care what size their siblings are or their parents, everyone in the family should eat healthy and exercise," she said. "What's good for them is good for everybody."
A local TV news report on Young's clinic led Marsha Simon-Younger to enroll her 11-year-old daughter Nasirah in fitness classes. Since Nasirah joined this spring, she's felt better and is eating healthier, her mother said. "At first, my daughter was really reluctant to go because she thought of it as a fat camp," said Simon-Younger. But once Nasirah arrived, she saw a friend from church and Girl Scouts and felt at ease. "She has more self-esteem," and she tries different foods, the mother said. "Sometimes we might fall off the wagon, but we get right back on."
It's still a little early to see big results from the state's weigh-in program. After the first year, the percentage of overweight schoolchildren remained where it was at the start - 38 percent. "We think probably, since there's been no change, that's probably good news," said Jim Raczynski, dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. "We may have stopped the increase."
And the state has found that most parents and children are comfortable with the weigh-in program - 71 percent of parents and 61 percent of adolescents, according to a survey. "Once they realized we didn't hand (the letters) to kids to wave around the schoolyard ... a lot of the original concerns were alleviated," said Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has championed healthy diets after dropping more than 100 pounds himself. "This was not an invasive procedure where a child is asked to lift a shirt and be pinched with calipers."
Raczynski noted that only a tiny percentage of parents - 6 percent - have put their overweight children on diets that aren't medically supervised. Schools are reacting, too. Following state Board of Education guidelines, schools in the last two years have banned using food as a reward, are offering more fruits and vegetables on lunch menus, have removed deep fryers and increased low-fat and low-sugar drinks and snacks.
Huckabee and former President Bill Clinton - known for his Big Mac excursions while Arkansas governor - helped announce this year that soft drink manufacturers had voluntarily agreed to remove sugary sodas from school vending machines. Childhood obesity, Huckabee said, is "a real serious health and economic issue." Arkansas' effort provides a scientific baseline to look for progress. Over time, "we'll honestly be able to know if this is something that has lasting value."
Book review of "The Strange Death of Moral Britain" by Christie Davies
Excerpts only. I think the "she" below should be a "he"
It is the rare sociology book that warrants the epitaphs "exciting" and "brilliant." Such is Christie Davies' The Strange Death of Moral Britain, a book that deserves to be read by readers on the political right and left. The book's argument is that between 1950 and 1960 a new form of political reasoning replaced the old ideology or "logic" of "moral Britain," which underlay legal and social sensibility. The new outlook the author identifies as "causalism," and it has insidiously become the ethos of modern British society. The consequences of "causalism" as a political ideology are that the tradition of individualism, the legal principle that a just society rewards just behavior, and even national sovereignty, all concepts based upon the idea of moral hierarchy, have been radically undermined.
Davies' book largely consists in an analysis of the debates surrounding three controversial subjects of late 20th century British politics: capital punishment, abortion and homosexuality. While in Britain today there is little debate over these subjects, Davies audaciously asks: How was it possible for there to have been a debate in the first place? Modern wisdom assures us that to believe in capital punishment or to oppose the right to abortion is a vestige of barbarism - an atavism from the ancient world. Davies has reexamined the language of these debates and, from careful construction of the language of the losing side, has discerned the vestiges of what she calls "moral" and "respectable" Britain.
The central concept in Davies' book is causalism. At times she defines it in terms that imply it is an ideology of a ruling elite: "The causalists are . . . consequentialists and indeed utilitarians. . . .They are only concerned with the minimizing of pain, harm and suffering and not with the promotion of happiness or pleasure." At others, she defines it as a political ideology: "They seem to assume we all have a common and equal capacity for suffering. They are concerned only with the short term, with the immediate effects of legislation in removing a particular group of individuals from harm or the threat of harm and not with the long term or indirect consequences from such measure." And still in another place she implies that causalism is a sort of popular mass ideology: "Causalists place greater importance on the visible harm experienced by particular persons, than on that inflicted on mere `statistical' persons."
The advent of causalism demanded that the old moral functioning of the law be answerable to a utilitarian calculus of the law's involvement in inflicting pain: if it could not be argued that the law's function prevented more pain in the long term than it inflicted, then the law should be discarded. Modern arguments for the death penalty in America, for instance, are often countered by the position that they do not serve as a deterrent and even if they do, the cost of such a deterrent is prohibitive. Both positions entail causalist arguments to "refute" what was once a matter of moral principle.
This leads to another tenet of causalism. Whereas the moralists assumed that individuals are autonomous agents, making free choices both good and bad, the causalist sees their actions as "caused by external pressures." (p. xiv) Hence the notion of "autonomous moral choice" rendering the actor "wicked" or "good" is absurd. To the causalist, "wicked choices" are simply a function of social injustice or some other societal abstraction. However, by denying individual responsibility, the causalist also must disregard individual autonomy.
Davies' first chapters trace the decline of the "cultural of respectability" and the "culture of morality" in 19th and 20th century Britain. She then uses this as a context for examining the shifting attitudes towards capital punishment, abortion and homosexuality in the period. She concludes by arguing that the decline in the moral culture of Britain is more than merely a shift in particular views of the world. With the disintegration of Britain's moral understanding of itself comes a decline in the moral basis for Britain's political autonomy. By substituting a causalist way of thinking about its problems, Britain's ability as a nation state to define itself in unique and moral terms is radically undermined. The recent success of unelected European "human rights" courts in dictating their views onto British society by appealing to causalist reasoning is a symptom of Britain's increasing subordination to foreign control.
In her first chapter, the "Decline of Respectable Britain," Davies introduces the figure of the "U Curve," which she argues describes the decline in crime at the end of the 19th century and accounts for its increase at the end of the 20th. Inversely, it describes the rise of moral Britain and then its subsequent decline. Her empirical bases for this are indexes for violent crime and other aspects of life (moral behaviors for instance) she claims have to do with the cultural value of "respectability" ("moral behaviors"). She argues against criminologists and sociologists who have claimed that there was a rise in crime towards the end of the 20th century due to inequities brought about by "capitalism." The culture of respectability exerted an influence on behaviors that were not directly monitored by the state. For instance, drug use and alcoholism declined during the "U-Curve" era because the culture of respectability condemned them both; subsequently the British health care system was overwhelmed with drug addicts in the sixties because there was no longer a culture of respectability which held their abuse in contempt.1
The modern abolition of capital punishment and legalization of homosexuality have little to do with the language of tolerance, Davies argues. She cites many polls, for instance, indicating that most Britains believe in the necessity of capital punishment - and continue to do so. The transformation of the penal code with respect to these issues reflects not the will of the British people but rather the application of causalist reasoning. Causalist reasoning quickly determined that the utility of capital punishment and stigmatizing homosexuals was hardly justifiable in terms of social utility. Unsurprisingly in both cases, the "rights" of the condemned or the homosexual individual were never invoked as a basis for the legal and penal changes involved.
The law restricting abortion in England was liberalized in 1967 for reasons that likewise had little to do with individual rights. While previously abortion had been illegal and the penalties severe, the mother was rarely prosecuted. It was generally assumed that the mother's "immoral deed" was due to insanity. When performed by physicians it was assumed that there were medical circumstances in which abortion might be necessary. British judges and prosecutors were reluctant to try a doctor acting in good faith. Abortion remained an immoral act.
When the causalist mentality took hold in the late sixties, it was only a matter of time before causalist logic applied itself to the question of unsanitary abortions. While there was no mention of "woman's right to choose," as in the United States, abortions were legalized on causalist grounds. The rationale was that more harm was caused by preventing abortions, than by permitting their safe and controlled execution.
Finally, liberalized divorce laws also followed the same logic. Originally the divorce hearing was to establish who was at fault in bringing about the tragedy of divorce. However, the causalists immediately pointed out that the process made acrimony and bitterness on the whole greater than the problems that resulted from ignoring the question of moral culpability altogether. In the long run, they argued, more stability was brought to the family by avoiding establishing "fault" (a relic of "moral" Britain) and finding ways to mediate harm in the future.
The culmination of causalist reasoning should have been the Conservative Party's 1995 Family Law Bill, which introduced no-fault divorce in its pure form. However, neither Conservative nor Labour party wished to put the law into practice.
Remarriage after divorce produced even more divorce since second marriages tended to be less stable than first ones. Fatherlessness with the serious problems this created for children became even more widespread, a state of misery that greatly dwarfed any decrease in the amount of transitional distress that made one route to divorce preferable to another. (p. 100)
The irony that causalist reasoning had refuted itself on its own terms was hardly lost to MPs: a bill to "protect the short term suffering of the family" that would effectively destroy it brought a temporary halt to causalism's triumphs.....
And yet causalism is not an ideology generated by civil society, either. British attitudes towards capital punishment, homosexuality and abortion remained intact long after causalism abolished the former and adopted liberal attitudes towards the latter.
Causalism jettisons two key components of western thought. First, it abandons the traditional idea that the "people's representative" should indeed represent them. Representation implies that the representative speak on behalf of those who are absent. The causalist politician speaks on behalf of those who are most visible in the media at a given moment. His function is to translate complex social and historical issues into the opposition oppressor/oppressed and to align himself with the latter. In this the causalist is not the spokesperson for a political or ethical community composed of individuals (what makes the dyad oppressed/oppressor meaningful in the first place), but serves to articulate the transient sovereignty of unelected media culture. The current vogue of soliciting "celebrity" opinion on "political issues" is hardly surprising: the celebrity is closer to causalist politics than the politician.
Second, causalism abandons the idea that the individual should be the basis of sovereignty. The ethical individual was at one time the universal individual for whom laws of society once rested upon. To causalism, this individual is an abstraction and need not be considered when the causalist alters the rules of society to "minimize the pain" of the individuals presented by the media. Certain images, to the causalist, create such an overwhelming image of suffering that society may be assumed to concur with the pieties of the causalist - without, of course, a democratic vote. In modern society, paradoxically, the image of the oppressed is sovereign, not the individual being oppressed.
5 June, 2006
The Left are the intolerant ones
Students and faculty attending New York's New School commencement ceremony stood last weekend with their backs facing Senator John McCain and hissed and booed as the senator from Arizona encouraged a revival of civil discourse in our national affairs. These students and faculty embarrassed the historically liberal school by protesting Sen. McCain's speech, which encouraged them to be "respectful of the goodness in each other." But who can blame them? They are enlightened college graduates from "a legendary, progressive university," after all....
But of all the angles to this story, the most intriguing is the one that contrasts the attitudes of these putatively open-minded progressives with those of the close-minded bigots at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, to whom McCain delivered a commencement speech only a week prior. One might expect that the unpleasantness between McCain and a group of students would have occurred in Lynchburg, Virginia. After all, Sen. McCain did refer to the Rev. Falwell as an "agent of intolerance" while campaigning for president in 2000. And the senator did imply that the Revs. Falwell and Pat Robertson were "evil" for taking offense to his signature campaign finance measure (perhaps these were the youthful indiscretions Sen. McCain expressed remorse about in his speeches). And yet here was the troglodytic minister after McCain delivered the exact same speech in Lynchburg that he did at the New School:
"My intent was to say that John McCain and I are friends, that I respect him and that there are no problems with yesterday."
Therein lies exhibit, oh I don't know, 4,972 of the bizarre upside-down-ness of our national politics. George W. Bush and the Republicans are said by their detractors to be dividers, not uniters. And yet it is the fringe left (also known as mainstream Democrats) who can't stop fighting with everyone. Some more examples?
The Republicans are said to be overtly partisan. And yet it is the other side who has made politics a way of life, even lusting over the financial ruin of stores (Wal-Mart) and restaurants (McDonald's) in pursuit of political purity.
The Republicans are said to be intolerant of dissent. And yet it is the so-called progressive movement that literally seeks to silence the opposition.
Iraq is said to be in complete disarray; an utter failure. And yet Iraqis have held three successful elections and set up a new government in three years.
We have an economy that is by almost every measure stronger and more vibrant than the economy of a decade ago, which pundits called the most prosperous time in human history. And yet a plurality of the people has been convinced by an administration-hostile media corps that we are on the edge of ruin.
We are living in "Bizarro America." On a bad day I might come to believe I've forgotten to take my crazy pills. But then three things hit me:
First, a liberal blogger friend of mine confessed to me recently that he used to like and respect John McCain but he no longer does because McCain doesn't still hate George Bush for the ugliness of the South Carolina primary in 2000.
Second, a liberal loved one insisted in my very kitchen that Howard Dean would have performed better against George Bush than did John Kerry had he won the Democrat nomination in 2004.
And third, an animated film called Ice Age II provides a more reasonable treatment of "global warming" than the film featuring a former Vice President of the United States giving lectures on the subject.
It is then that I conclude I am fine; perfectly sane. But the other side is howling mad. And the thought of them running this country after 2006 makes my bowels clench.
THE CONFUSED FEMINISM OF TODAY
Some comments by a British male feminist of the old school
In every possible way we try to stay attuned to the strategies and signals of feminism, even though these can change in a bewildering manner. In the 1970s and 1980s, the image of a feminist was someone whose boiler suit, cropped hair and absence of makeup repudiated centuries of obligation to pander to men. The difference in the 21st century was recently described by the American feminist Ariel Levy: "Thirty years ago, our mothers were burning their bras and picketing Playboy magazine. Now women are getting breast implants and wearing the Bunny logo as symbols of their liberation."
Levy says what I, as a would-be feminist, cannot: that female independence nowadays is expressed in clothes that might be thought to pander to men in the ultimate degree. Those skimpy see-through tops, those generously exposed midriffs, those heavy ornamental belts just grazing the pubis, all seem copied directly from Hollywood fantasies of Arabian Nights harems. The modern twist is that men must not betray by the smallest word or gesture that they find such things attractive.
Women's clothes, in fact, are a continuing test for me and my kind to keep our feminist credentials. The main instrument of this daily viva voce has been the thong. Who could have imagined that something once associated with pin-up magazines and seedy strip clubs could turn into a vital accessory for almost every female under 50? Or that a garment designed to be an erotic secret could turn into a public statement, peeping over the rear of low-rise jeans? Was I the only man for whom those stringy T-shapes seemed to take on a malevolent life of their own, alternately semaphoring "Look at me" and "Don't dare look at me"?
That particular fashion now seems to be past and a new daily test is imposed by plunging necklines. Before I became a feminist I probably would have said that the thong is ended but the mammaries linger on. Now, with Frostrup breathing down my neck, perish the thought.
Recently the American writer Norah Vincent subjected modern manhood and womanhood to an extensive re-evaluation by spending 18 months disguised as a man called Ned. What she discovered was that traditional gender stereotypes seem to have turned upside-down. Almost all the men she encountered had the supposedly feminine qualities of warmth and inclusiveness, while almost all the women showed the supposedly masculine ones of coldness, awkwardness and repression. Most crucially, she found that it is men rather than women who now suffer the most consistent and extreme sexual stereotyping.
I did not have to listen to Lette during our debate to be aware of this. A few months ago, when the Winter Olympics were on television, I was surprised to find my nearest and dearest taking an interest in the curling finals. I remonstrated with her that, surely, curling is the most mind-liquefyingly boring sport ever devised. She replied that she had been attracted by the unusual spectacle of "men sweeping up". I was so angry that I almost dropped my dustpan and brush.
Once, Britain's national sex stereotype joke was about women drivers. Now it's about men and toilet seats . . . I don't know what it is about a raised toilet seat that causes women such unfathomable horror. Female children are somehow programmed in the womb to go almost mad with despair and disgust when they see a toilet seat left in the upright position.
The more extreme branches of feminism used to regard every man as a potential rapist; now every man is regarded as a potential toilet seat offender. I would point out that raising a toilet seat is infinitely more mannerly and considerate than not doing so. It was the great Jonathan Miller who once said that the old train loo sign "Gentlemen lift the seat" was not an instruction so much as a moral judgment.
No one would deny that stubborn redoubts of male chauvinist resistance still hold out like Japanese soldiers who don't realise the second world war is over. There is, for instance, the refusal of many men to let a woman pay the bill in a restaurant. One well-known actress (oh my God, sorry) so resents this situation that whenever it happens she threatens to start taking off her clothes until the bill is passed to her. (If she's reading this, I'm free for lunch any day next week.)
A few men also still persist in the archaic, unegalitarian habit of holding doors open for women or getting up when they enter the room. I happen to be one such dinosaur - and in admitting it in last week's debate, I suppose I helped to destroy my side's whole argument. But no woman in my experience, however fierce a feminist, however stern a monitor of male chauvinism, has ever complained.
KEYSTONE COPS TELLING EATERIES TO LOSE BUSINESS
Fat chance! (Forgive the pun)
Those heaping portions at restaurants -- and doggie bags for the leftovers -- may be a thing of the past, if health officials get their way. The government is trying to enlist the help of the nation's eateries in fighting obesity. One of the first things on their list: cutting portion sizes. With burgers, fries and pizza the Top 3 eating-out favorites in this country, restaurants are in a prime position to help improve people's diets and combat obesity. At least that's what is recommended in a government-commissioned report released Friday.
The report, requested and funded by the Food and Drug Administration, lays out ways to help people manage their intake of calories from the growing number of meals prepared away from home, including at the nation's nearly 900,000 restaurants and other establishments that serve food. "We must take a serious look at the impact these foods are having on our waistlines," said Penelope Slade Royall, director of the health promotion office at the Department of Health and Human Services. The 136-page report prepared by The Keystone Center, an education and public group based in Keystone, Colorado, said Americans now consume fully one-third of their daily intake of calories outside the home. And as of 2000, the average American took in 300 more calories a day than was the case 15 years earlier, according to Agriculture Department statistics cited in the report. Today, 64 percent of Americans are overweight, including the 30 percent who are obese, according to the report. It pegs the annual medical cost of the problem at nearly $93 billion.
Consumer advocates increasingly have heaped some of the blame on restaurant chains like McDonald's, which bristles at the criticism while offering more salads and fruit. The report does not explicitly link dining out with the rising tide of obesity, but does cite numerous studies that suggest there is a connection. The National Restaurant Association said the report, which it helped prepare but does not support, unfairly targeted its industry. The report encourages restaurants to shift the emphasis of their marketing to lower-calorie choices, and include more such options on menus. In addition, restaurants could jigger portion sizes and the variety of foods available in mixed dishes to cut calories. Bundling meals with more fruits and vegetables also could help. And letting consumers know how many calories are contained in a meal also could guide the choices they make, according to the report.
Simeon Holston, 33, called more disclosure an excellent idea as he lunched on a sausage-and-pepperoni pizza at a downtown Washington food court. "OK, I am going to eat junk food regardless, but let me eat the junk food that's going to cause me less damage," said Holston, an accountant. "A lot of times, presented with information, you will make a better choice."
Just over half of the nation's 287 largest restaurant chains now make at least some nutrition information available, said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "If companies don't tell them, people have no way of knowing how many calories they are being served at restaurants. And chances are, they are being served a lot more than they realize," said Wootan, adding that Congress should give the FDA the authority to require such disclosure.
Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, the agency's acting head, said the only place where he has seen calorie information listed on a menu was at an upscale restaurant in California. Still, the agency will not seek the authority to force others to follow suit, he said. "At this point in time, it's not a matter of more authority, it's using the authority we have," von Eschenbach said.
4 June, 2006
BRITAIN'S LAST HOPE
Melanie Phillips, I muse as she sits in front of me in a seersucker suit, is strikingly like Margaret Thatcher. Like Ms. Thatcher she speaks with that authoritative British accent that we hear on the BBC and like the "Iron Lady" she's confident in her message and doesn't mince her words. Her message when she visited our offices yesterday? That there is a "cultural and moral sickness" afflicting Britain in the failure of its establishment to recognize Islamic extremism for the threat it poses and that unless America acts Britain will be lost, and more potently, America could be next.
That's the central theme of her latest book, "Londonistan," which she's here in the States promoting. "Londonistan" - Britain's capital, London, mixed with the "istan" from onetime Al Qaeda central, Afghanistan, - is a mocking term that Ms. Phillips thinks was first given to London by the French security services. The French were appalled at Britain's willingness to tolerate Islamic radicals in London. In the 1990s London was the "most significant hub in Europe" and the "most hospitable place on earth" for Islamic radicals. Moreover, Ms. Phillips says, "some people think Al Qaeda formed as a global movement" in London: The Islamists held conferences there that brought together radicals from across the globe for the first time.
The British allowed this to happen, Ms. Phillips says, because they were more concerned about terrorism coming from Northern Ireland and because they believed that as Britain had "no interests in the Middle East" Islamic radicalism "wouldn't bite them." Ignoring radical Islam was also part of what Ms. Phillips terms Britain's "exaggerated respect for freedom of speech: Today's dissident is tomorrow's prime minister" and so it's "never in Britain's interest to offend anyone" - as "long as they don't threaten Britain."
The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks failed to shake the British establishment as it shook America's. Rather than realizing that radical Islam is a serious threat, Ms. Phillips says that a "group think" took hold that "global Jihad was rooted in discreet grievances" such as "Israel-Palestine, Chechnya ... and America throwing her weight around in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in Arab world." The British establishment's solution therefore was to ignore radical Islam and simply try to solve the individual problems, especially the Israel-Palestinian Arab conflict. Once this is done,"everything else will disappear."
Last year's London bombings, what Britain calls its "7/7," produced the same reaction. The establishment refused to consider that "religious fanaticism" was to blame and put the terrorists attacks down to "global grievances." Britain was targeted because of her troops in Iraq and her close alliance with America. This caused Muslim resentment that in turn caused the terrorist attacks: The attacks were therefore a "protest movement" and not rooted in underlying religious radicalism. And so, still to this day, Ms. Phillips says, there has been no real challenge by the British establishment to the "lies and propaganda at center of Jihad."
While Prime Minister Blair is someone who "gets it," Ms. Phillips says he is a "lone voice" and virtually everyone else in the citadels of power - the rest of his government, the police, and the security services - don't. Not much hope for a country if the prime minister can't change the establishment's thinking. Which is why, Ms. Phillips says with a sigh, she's bringing her book to America.
Ms. Phillips sees America as the last best hope for her country. She's turning to America to kick-start the debate in Britain. Britain is "paralyzed by multiculturalism and minority rights" which "leads people to say you can't question a minority or a religion." Ms. Phillips says that she almost failed to find a publisher for her book in Britain. It went down to the "11th hour and the 59th minute" when a small publisher took it on. With "no Fox News, no conservative talk-radio, no big conservative think tanks," there is no one to force the establishment to debate the roots of radical Islam.
Americans should care about Britain's coming "cultural collapse and appeasement" beyond the obvious reasons of helping an ally with a shared heritage. Firstly, Ms. Phillips says, as things stand there is the "likelihood that next prime minister after Mr. Blair won't be so keen to stand shoulder to shoulder"with the American president. More importantly for America, Britain, Ms. Phillips says, is where our western values - "democracy,liberty,and the rule of law" - originated. Britain still is a "cultural leader." If she falls there "will be a knock on effect in America and the rest of the western world." Ms. Phillips says that already some of these British establishment attitudes are heard around America. While she is "writing about Britain" people will "recognize it in America."
Ms. Phillips is, as readers who follow Britain will know,a celebrity in her own right: She's a celebrated columnist and author.And she might, if her warnings are heeded, one day be known as a one-person journalistic version of Winston Churchill - a Briton who stood against the tide. Can it be done? Ms. Phillips hopes so. She "doesn't think anything is (already) lost" or that "defeat is inevitable." But, she says, history also "teaches that empires fail." She's hoping America can once again save Europe.
The New York Sun, 25 May 2006
SOME TRUTHS THAT YOU WILL NEVER HEAR FROM FEMINISTS
Which shows that their real market is lesbians rather than normal women
New York playwright Wendy Wasserstein, who died two weeks ago, made a name for herself writing plays about smart, driven, successful women who miss out. "I feel stranded," complains the heroine of her most successful play, The Heidi Chronicles, when she finds herself single in her late 30s. Scoop, the man Heidi was half-heartedly involved with, decided to marry another woman because he needed someone "to give me the confidence to go out into the world each day and attempt to get an 'A' ".
Successful women hope men will be attracted to an "A" and are disappointed when they discover their hard-won success counts for little on the marriage market and might even work against them.
Some time ago there was an article in the Wall St Journal about a female CEO of a major company who was having trouble finding a husband. She'd tried a dating service and found that the only men interested in her earned a fraction of her income. She concluded that her equals spurned her because they we re intimidated by a strong woman. A reader responded, saying women failed to understand the economic principle of "comparative advantage". Comparative advantage is the essential principle of successful commerce and business, which says you are most valuable to someone who needs what you have. So the male executives weren't afraid of strong women, they simply weren't interested because this particular woman didn't offer them anything they didn't already have. They already had lots of money, financial and social success. They looked for something else in a woman.
American writer John Ross, author of Unintended Consequences, makes the point that what men want, and women do have to offer, is youth, beauty and the ability to bear children: all expiring assets. He suggests they are like a $200 voucher for a restaurant that declines $10 every month you don't use it. If you don't want to eat at that place, fine, let the voucher expire. But if one of your life goals is to go there, use your voucher early, he says.
Men and women seek the best deal on offer in the marriage market, says University of Canterbury psychology professor Garth Fletcher. In choosing long-term relationships, the assets that matter most for both sexes are warmth and trustworthiness. Men also tend to place more value on attractiveness and vitality than on status and resources. It's probably all hard-wired, suggests Fletcher: men seek vital, attractive women because they are genetically programmed to look for signs of fertility. Status and resources add little to a woman's pulling power if she has allowed her more vital assets to dwindle. His research also shows women are happy to accept an out-of-shape unattractive man as a long-term mate, provided he has high status and resources.
But Wasserstein's character Scoop has a point. Fletcher's work shows people generally don't set their sights on "A" partners unless they are an "A" themselves. More ordinary mortals know that even if they attract a person who is 10 on everything that matters (warm, beautiful, sexy and rich), keeping such a mate happy and would-be suitors at bay is likely to turn this into an emotionally fraught, high maintenance affair. The bottom line is that women seeking successful men take a risk in investing in assets that carry little weight in the mating game while allowing more vital assets to dwindle, as Wasserstein's life sadly shows.
At 40, when she found herself stranded, she embarked on a seven-year battle to have a child on her own. At 48, she succeeded in falling pregnant, but at six months she had an emergency caesarean and gave birth to 790gm Lucy. The premature baby suffered numerous medical crises, but ultimately survived. Then last month Wendy Wasserstein died of lymphoma. Her child was five.
ANIMAL RIGHTS TRUMP HUMAN RIGHTS
Terrorism takes many forms. Recently, animal-rights terrorists have unleashed an organized campaign of violence and intimidation against animal industries and their service companies--such as banks, auditing companies, and insurance brokers.
A pattern has developed: Websites identify people to be terrorized because of their involvement with animal-using industries; these sites list their personal information, including home addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, even the names, ages, and schools of their children. Militants use this information to send anonymous death threats to the children of targets, backed by mailed video tapes of their family members. They steal mail, shatter windows while the family is home, burn cars, make false bomb threats, cover homes with graffiti, take out subscriptions to pornographic magazines in the name of the target, steal identities, and otherwise ruin their victims' lives.
One of the most active of these groups is Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), which is dedicated to driving Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) out of business because it tests drugs on animals. As William Trundley, the vice president for Corporate Security & Investigations at GlaxoSmithKline, recently testified, SHAC members distribute a "SHAC Terror Card" to potential victims, which reads:
Do you do business with Huntingdon Life Sciences? . . . If you do, there's something you should know . . . Radical animal rights activists have been targeting executives and employees of companies that work with HLS, with criminal activity including: smashed windows; spray painted houses; glued locks; vandalized cars; stolen credit card numbers; ID theft; fraud; and continuous acts of harrassment and intimisation against employees, their children and spouses.
The card states that "the only way to end or prevent such attacks . . . is to stop doing business with Huntingdon." SHAC has grown so brazen that it demands that when targeted companies capitulate to its demands, they do so publicly. The SHAC website instructs:
TO ALL SUPPLIERS: If you have severed your links with Huntingdon Life Sciences, please let the campaign know. You can send a simple email to email@example.com stating the following: " . . . . . . (name of your company) have severed their links with HLS and terminated their contract, and will not be dealing with them now or in the future, directly or indirectly." This will enable supporters to be kept up to date with which companies are still involved with Huntingdon Life Sciences.
This is terrorism, pure and simple--and unfortunately, it's working. SHAC and its allies, such as the Animal Liberation Front, have scared a number of businesses into cutting ties with Huntingdon Life Sciences, including the huge auditing firm of Deloitte & Touche. At present, SHAC's website lists 113 companies that have complied with its demands, including Johnson & Johnson, Washington Mutual, UBS Global Capital, Nucryst Pharmaceutical, and Chubb.
The site also crows about its most recent triumph: the submission of the New York Stock Exchange to animal liberationist demands. In 2005, the NYSE unexpectedly reversed a decision to list Huntingdon Life Sciences, on the morning the listing was to commence. Big Board executives refused to either explain or justify their decision--even to a United States Senate committee. The rescission came immediately after liberationists vandalized an executive's yacht club and threatened to target Exchange employees.
NOW THE TELEGRAPH reports that U.K. animal liberationists plan to hold a "training camp" to "export terror" throughout Europe this June. "The AR 2006 camp," will "feature classes in potentially lethal physical techniques . . . that could be used against security guards at pharmaceutical companies and huntsmen."
Law enforcement is on heightened alert to protect against animal-rights terrorism, and legislation (H.R. 4239) is wending its way through the House of Representatives to make such lawlessness more easily prosecuted. These are necessary steps. But given the ideological zealotry of these extremists, the best chance we have of stopping the violence is for fellow believers to convince the terrorists among them to stay within the law.
But so far, the "mainstream" leadership of the animal-rights movement has generally failed to do so. They have been mostly silent, at times ambivalent, and in a few cases, even supportive. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), for example, refuses to condemn arson and vandalism in the name of animal liberation and likens such crimes to the French Resistance and the Underground Railroad. PETA's second in command, Bruce Friedrich, sure seemed to support violence when he told an animal liberation conference in 2001:
Of course, we're going to be as a movement blowing stuff up and smashing windows. For the record, I don't do this stuff, but I do advocate it. I think it is a great way to bring about animal liberation. And considering the level of the atrocity and the level of the suffering, I think it would be a great thing if all of these fast food outlets and slaughter houses and laboratories--and the banks that fund them--exploded tomorrow.
From time to time, an animal-rights activist will speak up. Princeton's Peter Singer, the godfather of animal liberation, occasionally takes a mild line against using violence and threats in the name of animal rights, as he did, for example, in "Humans are Sentient Too." But even here, Singer mostly punted, asserting that beyond expressing their genuine disapproval, "There is little more that the non-violent majority of the animal movement can do. The next step is really up to the government and the research community."
Surely there is more to be done than the wagging of fingers. If animal-rights terror continues to be ratcheted up, someone is going to be killed. If that happens, those who winked at violence in the name of saving the animals will wish they had instead insisted to the terrorists among them: "Not in our name."
"Incorrect" pride among young Australians
They've emblazoned their cars and homes with Australian flags, the Eureka Stockade Flag and the Southern Cross. Now the youths of Cronulla and surrounding suburbs have started tattooing their postcodes across their neck, chest, back and limbs in defiant reaction to the Cronulla riots. Local tattooists yesterday said they had inked the postcodes of Cronulla (2230), Caringbah (2229), Engadine (2233) and Miranda (2228) on more than 100 men and teenagers since last December's violence.
And it seems many going under the needle have been motivated by a mixture of pride and provocation. The postcodes are being accompanied by Australian and Eureka stockade flags and the Southern Cross. Customers are paying about $100 a tattoo, depending on size.
Cronulla tattooist Chuck Sekulla said he had inked five postcodes a week on average since the riots - with many customers adamant the marks were a response to retaliatory attacks. Mr Sekulla had little doubt there was an element of provocation. "With a lot of them it's a case of up yours [to outsiders]," he said. Another tattooist, Rev, told The Daily Telegraph the trend was no surprise. "They're always getting Southern Crosses tattooed but since the riot it's been crazy," he added."People haven't forgotten."
Local Nathan Bames, 23, is one of dozens to emblazon the 2230 postcode on his right leg in the wake of racial tension at the beach. But the shopfitter was adamant his "tatt" was simply a show of local pride. "I've lived here my whole life and we don't want to stand for this anymore," he said. "It's just mateship, trying to keep our area positive."
Psychologist Dr Darryl Cross was alarmed at the underlying message of the tattoos, which he compared to being "like a line in the sand"."What they are trying to do is create solidarity among themselves," he said. "This is a huge bonding experience because they now have a cause which is etched into their skin." Inspector Rod Rae said police were unaware of the postcode tattoo explosion. "If I saw a lot kids starting to get the tattoos I would have concerns but I don't know of any," he said.
The above article is from Pg 13 of the Sydney "Daily Telegraph" of May 31 2006
3 June, 2006
Germany: Clash of Civilizations Already Underway
The Germans are fast becoming politically incorrect when it comes to Islam
Europe and Islam are traveling a path that can only end in an unparalleled clash of civilizations. As much as idealists may believe a widespread clash of cultures to be impossible in our modern world of sophistication and tolerance, the facts from Germany clearly tell us conflict is brewing. A recent study commissioned by Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and performed by researchers from the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research disclosed an alarming trend in Europe's largest and most influential nation. "Experts fear new conflicts after a study published this week showed most Germans doubt the Western and Islamic worlds can peacefully coexist. Mistrust of the 3 million Muslims living in Germany appears to be growing" (Deutsche Welle, May 20).
The results of the survey are startling. Of the 1,076 Germans interviewed in early May, 83 percent of the respondents associated Islam with "fanaticism"-an increase of 8 percent from a similar poll conducted in 2004. Over 71 percent believed Islam to be "intolerant," a rise from 66 percent in 2004; 62 percent saw Islam as "backward," up from 49 percent; while 60 percent saw it as "undemocratic" (Jerusalem Post, May 24). Only 8 percent of the respondents characterized Islam as peaceful.
Perhaps most striking was that 61 percent of Germans said they believed a "clash of cultures" already existed, and 65 percent said they counted on such conflicts to worsen in the future. These results are astonishing: According to this survey, most Germans expect a future clash with Islam!
Elisabeth Noelle and Thomas Petersen, who authored the Allensbach study, characterized the results as saying, "Germans are increasingly of the opinion that a lasting, peaceful coexistence with the Islamic world will not be possible" (ibid.). This survey shows that Germans are growing fed up with the intolerant ideologies and actions of Muslims in Germany and throughout Europe.
When asked if there should be a ban on building Islamic mosques in Germany, as long as the building of churches in some Islamic states remains forbidden, 56 percent agreed. Survey results even indicated that there is growing support for ending Germany's constitutional right of freedom of religion with regard to Islam. Many Germans are growing so disgusted with Muslims, they are prepared to alter their constitution in order to curb Islamic ambition! When asked if "strict limits should be imposed on the practice of Islam in Germany to protect the country, 40 percent said they would support such moves" (Expatica, May 18).
Though intolerance of Muslims in Germany has been on the rise since the 9/11 attacks in America, it has grown much stronger recently amid a torrent of high-profile stories in the German press. "Concerns over an `honor killing' in Berlin, demands that schoolgirls be permitted to wear burkas, a surge in schoolyard violence involving Muslim immigrants, and the failure of Germany's 3 million Muslim immigrants to assimilate have deepened a `crisis of cultures'" (Jerusalem Post, op. cit.). As these events unfold, leading politicians such as Bavaria's Edmund Stoiber are suggesting bold new initiatives to solve the problem. In Germany, the dividing line between Germans and Muslims is becoming painfully clear.
That a contingent of Germany's population is intolerant of Islam is not startling. Many nations have small sectors of their population that espouse such sentiment. What is startling is that the results of the Allensbach survey suggest that anti-Islamic sentiment isn't simply confined to a narrow segment of Germany society. The majority of the German people believe a clash of civilizations is already underway.
THE INCORRECTNESS OF SUPERMARKETS
Moaning about supermarkets has taken over from expensive house prices as the favourite topic of conversation at trendy British dinner parties. To those for whom the choices of ordinary people are vulgar in the extreme, supermarkets and their cheap, varied goods have come to embody everything the bien pensants hate about modern capitalism. Hence the constant complaints that supermarkets are too successful; that they are attracting too many customers away from smaller, more expensive independent shops; and that they are squeezing their suppliers too much.
The British Left has always been hostile to big business and ignorant of economics. But Tory leaders should know better. Not David Cameron: he has jumped on to the anti-supermarket bandwagon as part of his mission to remake his party's image, which now apparently means ditching his party's traditional attachment to consumer sovereignty. Thus do the wealthy political elites of the metropolitan Right and Left make common cause against plain folk.
It is simply wrong for those rich enough to afford the expensive prices of small, independent stores and boutiques to seek to impose their lifestyle and spending choices on those who cannot afford them. Supermarkets have been one of the great forces for poverty reduction in modern times: they have done more to help struggling students and poor immigrant workers than any of Chancellor Gordon Brown's incomprehensible tax credits or patronising handouts. The poor can now clothe and feed themselves for a few pounds in Tesco and Wal-Mart. Yet those who shout most about helping the poor are also loudest in attacking the supermarkets.
Competition rightly remains intense in the British retail sector, which is why prices are falling in real terms. Around 93% of customers have access to three or more retailers within a 15 minute drive; 98% of the population has access to at least one online grocery retailer. More and more goods are available: at last count, around 41,500 lines were stocked by the four largest supermarkets, an increase of 40% over five years. Despite its increased share of the retail market, Tesco makes only 3p in profit for every pound spent in its shops, thanks to fierce competition. Most of the huge productivity gains it and other retailers have squeezed out of the international supply chain have been passed on to consumers.
Since 1987, the price of clothes is down by about half in real terms and that of food by about a fifth; cheap imports from China would have led to lower prices even in the absence of supermarkets, but Tesco and its competitors have hugely magnified the effect. Given that the poor spend far more than Mr Cameron and wealthy left-wingers on clothes and food, they have gained the most: the majority of commonly purchased products are 10% cheaper in the four largest supermarkets than in other retailers.
The constant attacks on supermarkets are a reflection not just of economic ignorance at the highest political level but of Britain's tall poppy syndrome. Tesco is one of the great success stories of modern British capitalism. Led by Sir Terry Leahy, the sort of gifted businessman in short supply in Britain, it has expanded all over the world. It is the biggest private sector employer in Britain and pays and trains its staff generously. This is not to say that Tesco is right about everything: its decision last week to cease supporting the campaign to liberalise Sunday trading is anti-choice and anti-growth. But most attacks on the company seem more inspired by jealousy and snobbery than by reason. They should cease - and politicians should grow up.
Man-hatred is their gospel
Politically correct feminists maintain that women as a class are politically oppressed by men as a class, which means that every woman is oppressed by every man. Class oppression is the ideological lens through which PC feminism views all issues.
Tammy Bruce's book "The New Thought Police" (2001) received media buzz as a former insider's expose of how PC feminists smear their intellectual opponents in an attempt to silence and discredit them. For example, Bruce described how PC feminists led a campaign of defamation against the conservative Dr. Laura Schlessinger by misrepresenting her as homophobic. Joan Garry, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, was quoted as saying, "If she can't be controlled, she must be stopped."
The PC treatment of heretics within feminism has been no less brutal. Indeed, heretics are commonly reviled more than infidels. Consider Erin Pizzey. In 1971, Pizzey opened the first battered wives shelter in England, which she ran until 1982. Arguably, the Chiswick Family Rescue was the second domestic violence shelter in the world. Pizzey's book "Scream Quietly or the Neighbours Will Hear" (1974, out of print) was one of the first to explore and expose wife battering. Today, the shelter Pizzey founded denies her entry; her name does not appear in its official history.
Pizzey's 'mistake' was to diverge from THE theory of domestic violence that feminists at the time insisted dominate all discussion. She believed that men could also be the victims of domestic violence, and that women could be as violent toward their partners as men. Pizzey's views put her on a collision course with PC feminists who, according to Pizzey's own published account of events, initiated a campaign of harassment and violence against her.
Pizzey described this harassment in an article she published in the Scotsman in 1999. "Because of my opposition to the hijacking of the refuge movement, I was a target for abuse. Anywhere I spoke there was a contingent of screaming, heckling feminists waiting for me," Pizzey wrote. "Abusive telephone calls to my home, death threats and bomb scares, became a way of living for me and for my family. Finally, the bomb squad, asked me to have all my mail delivered to their head quarters." One night, the family dog was killed. Eventually, "exhausted and disillusioned," Pizzey said she went into "exile with her children and grandchildren," leaving England in 1982 to live in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Pizzey returned to England that same year for the book tour of her next book, "Prone to Violence," which once again ignited a violent reaction among feminists. Pizzey wrote that when she arrived in England for her book tour, she was "met with a solid wall of feminist demonstrators" carrying signs that read "ALL MEN ARE RAPISTS, ALL MEN ARE BATTERERS." "The police insisted that I have an escort all round England for my book tour," Pizzey wrote in the Scotsman.
There is some reason to believe that "Prone to Violence" has been the target of a campaign of suppression by PC feminists. According to the web site Wikepedia, in 1996 an internet search of the world libraries that can be accessed through the Library of Congress uncovered only 13 listings for the book: an astonishingly low number for a pioneering work that caused a sensation.
Why would PC feminists nearly riot over a book and, then, ignore it? Because Pizzey advanced a competing theory of domestic violence. When viewed through the PC lens of class oppression, domestic violence is not an act of violence committed by one individual against another. It is an act committed by men that must be correctly understood within the larger context of women's class oppression. "Prone to Violence" spelled out some of Pizzey's disagreements with that view.
Disagreement #1: Of the first 100 women who entered Chiswick, Pizzey found that over 60 percent were as violent or more violent than the men they were fleeing. In short, a significant percentage of the women were also batterers or otherwise active participants in the violence.
Disagreement #2: Pizzey developed the theory that many battered women were psychologically drawn to abusive relationships and they sought them out. To PC feminists, such analysis was tantamount to 'blaming the victim.'
Disagreement #3: She explained why the existing model of domestic violence shelters was ineffective. PC feminists were attempting then (and now) to secure ever greater financing for these operations. Sandra Horley, director of Chiswick in 1992, reportedly complained, "if we put across this idea that the abuse of men is as great as the abuse of women, then it could seriously affect our funding."
Pizzey may or may not have been correct; I believe she was and is. Neverthless, her book drew upon over 10 years at the Chiswick shelter during which time Pizzey dealt with some 5,000 women and children. "Prone to Violence" is an extremely early and honest overview of domestic violence from a woman with extensive experience of its daily realities. The book cried out to be taken seriously. At minimum, it deserved a thorough rebuttal from its PC feminist critics--not death threats directed at its author nor the ultimate silence it received.
Pizzey is not alone. In America, Suzanne Steinmetz -- author of the book "The Battered Husband" and a co-author of the much-cited "First National Family Violence Survey" -- experienced a similar drama. She and her children received death threats; an ACLU meeting at which she spoke received a bomb threat. The reason: her research indicated that the rate at which men were victimized by domestic violence was similar to the rate for women.
In large and small ways -- from shrill protests to the tearing down of announcements, from blocking university promotions to threats and defamation -- PC feminism has attempted to stop voices it could not control. Feminism is dying not from a backlash but from an orthodoxy that cannot tolerate real discussion...and never could.
Fair trade: the bitter aftertaste: A new film makes a timely and thought-provoking attack on an unquestioned orthodoxy of our age.
On 8 May 2006, I arranged a screening of The Bitter Aftertaste, a film shot in the UK and Ghana by first-time director Philip Thompson and a young volunteer film crew, working for the London-based development charity WORLDwrite.
The film calls into question the ability of fair trade to deliver development for poor countries. The screening was introduced by Ceri Dingle, director of WORLDwrite. For a documentary only about 20 minutes long, it provoked heated and intense debate among the 80 or so people who came to watch it. Selected for screening at the prestigious Raindance Film Festival last year, the film has attracted widespread notoriety for its criticism of one of the sacred cows of development thinking: fair trade.
Fair trade is a mechanism through which fair-trade companies try to ensure a guaranteed price to the producers of some specific primary commodities - such as cacao and coffee - regardless of price on the world market. Often, fair trade also includes the maintenance of certain labour and environmental standards. Probably like many vaguely radical, middle-class students studying development economics, I flirted with fair trade during my undergraduate days, when I could least afford it. At the time, fair trade seemed to be the natural complement to my combats and German army shirt.
My ethical consumption binge eventually wound down - partly because I just preferred Cadbury's to the bitter dark chocolate that fair trade varieties always seemed to offer. I had no great epiphany, much less any conversion to free-market principles. I was partly turned off because there was something suspect about fair trade. Everything that fair trade had going for it - the promise that you could make a difference to poor farmers just by being a normal person shopping at the supermarket - seemed to me to be insufficient. Could anyone really make a difference by putting in so little effort? I eventually admitted to myself that I had no idea what real difference fair trade made to people in the developing world.
Even after this formative experience, I was still shocked by some of the footage in The Bitter Aftertaste. I had no romantic conceptions about poverty, but I still presumed that fair-trade produce would at least come off some sort of large, socialistic cooperative farm with better productivity and happier workers. Not so with the cacao farmers in Ghana. Indeed, to the untrained eye, it was difficult to tell natural vegetation from cultivated land, let alone having giant fields filled with teams of well-organised farmers. The sight of a solitary child hacking away with a machete, bent over double to the point of appearing deformed, was shocking.
But the film crew did not merely go to see where the cacao comes from. They also investigated the place of fair-trade produce here in the UK, interviewing economic experts and systematically interrogating each of the principles of fair trade. This part of the film included some of the most astonishing footage of all - including an interview with a representative of the fair-trade movement admitting that they had no policy of introducing mechanisation on their farms. In other words, no effort was being made to plough some of those putative extra gains from fair trade back into raising the productivity of the farm workers, and offering them the possibility of getting more money for more produce.
The film also pointed out that fair-trade organisations are actively campaigning for the use of organic fertilisers, flying in the face of a Ghanaian government campaign to introduce chemical fertilisers that would increase yields. As if suddenly realising the absurdity of a no-mechanisation policy, the fair-trade official being interviewed went on to rationalise the policy, arguing that most farm workers enjoyed their job, having the opportunity to work together in their community. In this respect, the sheer unremitting drudgery of subsistence agriculture was perhaps the most overwhelming impression left by the film, and eloquently conveyed in the impassive, weary faces of the farm workers - a very different image from the usual TV fare of Africans depicted as smiling, happy-go-lucky tribesmen at one with nature.
It was difficult to avoid the conclusion that the claims of fair trade are bogus. Indeed, the very name seems a misnomer, suggesting that justice has been definitely achieved just by spending a few extra pennies that fair trade guarantees above the market price. It seems to me that, ultimately, the goal of fair trade is to tickle the ethical conscience of the genteel Western consumer, more than it is to lift primary producers out of poverty. In the discussion following the film, the point was often raised that, however limited the gains from fair trade, it certainly did not cause poverty and perhaps provided a springboard to further development. But this only begged the question of why bother with fair trade at all? As Ceri Dingle made clear, the most pernicious element of fair trade is how it lowers the horizons of development thinking overall, and thus serves to perpetuate poverty.
Instead of industrialisation, fair trade offers a concessionary, piecemeal form of advancement, while genuine social development is effectively postponed to some indefinite later date. In the process, Westerners are encouraged to see the developing world as a gigantic farm to satisfy their needs, rather than seeing the people of the developing world as individuals in their own right, with aspirations no less than any other people the world over.
The Bitter Aftertaste is a timely and thought-provoking attack on one of the unquestioned orthodoxies of the age - the idea that the isolated consumer can make a difference to poor people on the other side of the world. For this reason alone, it deserves a wide and diverse audience, so that the debate about development can be taken far beyond its current platitudes and restrictions.
2 June, 2006
THE INCORRECTNESS OF THE BRITISH VICTORY AT AGINCOURT
We noted last year the unsuccessful attempts to erase from popular consciousness what happened at the famous battle of Trafalgar. A reader points out that earlier British victories are being "revised" too:
Several years ago, while watching the History Channel on TV -- not something I often do these days, for as a medium I consider it largely speaking to be `pollution for the human mind', (TV that is) -- there was a program presented by some modern academics, about The Battle of Agincourt.
Now having once been an attentive little English schoolboy, I remember it well, (the story of the battle that is.). As presented, these scholars dutifully trotted out their new theories as to how the battle had transpired, because as we all now know, since the victors get to write the narrative, and it is now an accepted nostrum that `they lied', they were there to put things right. This was quite simply, the intellectually superior man, correcting the falsity of historical narrative. The good professors, tramped over the actual battlefield -- for what reason I don't know, for now it is just a collection of fields, as to be found anywhere in Europe, unless to impress upon their audience, an assumed sense of unstated certitude, as in they were there, actually at the battlefield so therefore they must know what they are talking about.
The good professors then proceeded to deconstruct the battle, pointing out that it had rained hard the night before. Yes, yes, I already knew that; that the fields were muddy, ditto. That when the superior numbers of French knights advanced, they became bogged down in the mud, so far so good, but now for the good part.
The English archers, credited with cutting down the flower of French knighthood; that bit, well the tale, long famed for the stunning accomplishment against superior forces, was all a fabrication. You see according to these new experts of medieval warfare, quite simply, the English longbow, with its deadly arrows, was according to our experts, totally unable to penetrate the French armor. No mention that shooting the horse that the man in heavy armour was sitting on was pretty fatal. They even gave us a practical demonstration, though the last true makers of English longbows died off a long time ago, not much of a market for them these days. So, I think it safe to assume the example they used was of modern manufacture, don't know, but there might be a difference or two there, just speculating a bit, mind.
What actually transpired according to our new age experts, was that the French got bogged down in the mud (yes, and!), then the nasty, brutal English thugs, jumped in and with great relish set about slaughtering the gallant French knights as they lay helpless on the ground, oh, how ignoble of them, the brutes. Oh the humanity!
Now I don't know about you, but I can well imagine, just about any medieval battle would be brutal. I'm sure that in the thick of the fight, throats got cut, people got killed: it happens that way in battle. Battles are places where people get killed Actually, that was the whole point of the exercise I thought, but what would I know, for I'm just a simple man.
But the unstated but insinuated statement, was that this was not something that the British people should be proud of, rather, something to be atoned for, this was murder. It left a profound distaste in my mind. For in the modern world, this new all inclusive multicultural society, lets all get along PC world, it simply would not do to leave the details of this battle, which took place on 25 of October 1415, to rest upon the page of history, no, that would not do, let's re-write it according to our better feelings.
No mention of course, of what their fate would have been, should the English have lost the battle, hhmmm(?). Don't know, but I doubt it would have been anything pleasant . Being that the archers were drawn from peasant stock, as opposed to the mighty Lords of French chivalry, not too bright methinks. I do seem to recall many tales from the historical record, pertaining to the lamentable way that the high and the mighty tended to treat lesser mortals.
I'm not really surprised that the English fought like devils, the were hopelessly outnumbered, in enemy territory, half starved after a long forced march and cornered. Don't know about you, but I'd fight like the devil too. Now if that offends the delicate sensibilities of some dry, morally superior beings, pontificating behind the safe ramparts of a free society, then too bad f*** 'em I say.
A small silly detail you might say, well yes; but it is in the small details that the fabric of society is formed. From substituting a sense of guilt, in the place of one of accomplishment, to sowing a seed of doubt in the minds of everyday people, who often have no great understanding of events, nor indeed of latent subversive agendas; it becomes possible to sow confusion among the people. And a confused people are an easy people to lead, especially when you can distract them with the newest version of `bread and circuses' . sex and drugs and rock and roll.
Louisiana's HB 315 Says One Parent is Better Than Two
The Louisiana House of Representatives will soon consider a misguided family law bill which will make it more difficult for children of divorce to preserve the loving bonds they share with both parents. Whereas most states are moving towards shared parenting, House Bill 315 takes Louisiana in the opposite direction, to the detriment of some of the state's most vulnerable children.
Current Louisiana law states "To the extent it is feasible and in the best interest of the child, physical custody of the children should be shared equally." This is reasonable-it presumes that as long as both parents are fit and there are no extenuating circumstances, they should both share in parenting their children. HB 315 weakens the law's wise preference for two parents instead of one. Under the bill all that children receive is a vaguely defined "as frequent and continuing contact as is feasible with each parent." However, research establishes that shared custody is what's best for kids.
According to psychologist Robert Bauserman's meta-analysis of 33 studies of children of divorce, which was published in the American Psychological Association`s Journal of Family Psychology, children in shared custody settings had fewer behavior and emotional problems, higher self-esteem, better family relations, and better school performance than children in sole custody arrangements.
A Harvard University study of 517 families conducted across a four-and-a-half year period measured depression, deviance, school effort, and school grades in children ranging in age from 10 to 18. The researchers found that the children in shared custody settings fared better in these areas than those in sole custody.
A study by psychologist Joan Kelly published in the Family and Conciliation Courts Review found that children of divorce "express higher levels of satisfaction with joint physical custody than with sole custody arrangements," and cite the "benefit of remaining close to both parents" as an important factor.
When Arizona State University psychology professor William Fabricius conducted a study of college students who had experienced their parents' divorces while they were children, he found that over two-thirds believed that "living equal amounts of time with each parent is the best arrangement for children."
Unfortunately, rather than putting the need to preserve children's relationships with both parents at the center of the discussion, advocates of HB 315 are instead focusing on child support. In Louisiana, like most states, how much time each parent spends with his or her children helps determine how much child support is ordered. Rep. Shirley Bowler (R-River Ridge), who authored the bill, asserts that dads seek shared custody as a way to decrease their child support obligations. She promotes HB 315 as a way to "remove this angle" in the current law, which she claims divorced dads are exploiting.
While it is true that there are fathers who put their pocketbooks above their children's best interests, Bowler and the bill's supporters ignore the obvious converse. If a dad may seek 50% physical time with his children simply to lower his child support obligation, doesn't it also hold that a mother may seek 85% physical time in order to increase it? Similarly, critics charge that the child support provisions of current law amount to paying men to spend time with their children. In reality, the provisions simply acknowledge that both moms and dads have child-related expenses.
HB 315 also provides that a court may require a six-month trial period before ordering shared custody. While this may sound reasonable, it opens the door for mischief. When there is discord between divorced parents and joint custody appears unworkable, sole custody is the alternative. One of the grave problems in our family court system is that this dynamic gives the parent positioned to gain sole custody-usually the mother-an incentive to create conflict.
Shared parenting is advocated by a growing consensus of mental health and family law professionals, and current Louisiana law has led to an increase in shared custody awards. This greatly benefits the state's children, who preserve their bonds with the two people who love them the most. HB 315 would reverse this progress by reinstating an atavistic, win/lose system which often reduces loving parents to being mere occasional visitors in their children's lives.
Imagine a country where parents accused of child abuse are assumed guilty unless proven innocent. Where secret courts need no criminal conviction to remove their children, only the word of a medical expert, and rarely let parents call their own experts in defence. Where even parents who are vindicated on appeal cannot see their children again, because they have been adopted. And where the "welfare of the child" is used to gag them from discussing the case ever after. I live in that country.
In that country, a mother who has had her three children taken away broke the gagging order on BBC One on Monday night. She was brave to do so. For she is in grave danger of also losing the baby she is due to give birth to in two weeks' time. Nicky Hardingham's three children were removed because one had unexplained fractures in his bones. Two paediatricians categorically stated that the boy could not have the brittle bone disease that can cause such fractures, even though the disease is in four generations of Mrs Hardingham's family. Medical geneticists have since said that the boy could indeed have inherited the disease, although Mrs Hardingham herself has not suffered fractures. The police dropped all charges against the Hardinghams. But the court's decision to take away her children was final.
I won't name those two doctors. It is partly the fault of my own profession that doctors now have so much more to fear from failing to spot signs of abuse - of missing another Victoria Climbie - than they do from diagnosing abuse where it does not exist. Many social workers and judges are so terrified of false negatives that they hasten to false positives for which they will never be accountable. Yet this alone does not explain why professionals make categorical statements in situations where they should merely be posing questions.
In classic child abuse cases, there is often a family history of abuse and vile evidence of assault, such as bruising and cigarette burns. Yet there seems to be a growing number of cases in which these factors are totally absent. The metaphyseal fractures suffered by Mrs Hardingham's son are said to be caused by an adult violently twisting little limbs. But it would be virtually impossible to do that without bruising the skin. And in case after case, there is no bruising.
Other parents are accused of violently shaking their children, because doctors have found haemorrhages in the brain or the eye. Again and again parents are told that they have shaken their babies at a velocity of "30 or 40 miles an hour". Yet the evidence is flimsy. Lorraine Harris was cleared after serving a jail sentence for shaking her four-month-old to death, when she proved that he had a blood disorder. She has little hope of ever seeing her other child again. Joe Wainwright was jailed for shaking his baby son, even though the scan used in evidence was taken after the hospital had smashed the boy's trolley into a concrete pillar. He has not been given leave to appeal. The list goes on.
At a conference in London two days ago, I watched American scientists rip the medical canon on child abuse to shreds. Kirk Thibault, a biomechanical engineer from Pennsylvania, has demonstrated that even a child falling over its own feet can sustain much more serious head injuries than one being deliberately shaken. So perhaps the courts should have given more credence to all those parents who pleaded that their daughters had slipped on the floor. Marvin Miller has found that low bone density is responsible for many infant fractures, and that this can be caused by lack of movement in the womb as well as by a brittle-bone gene. Low bone density does not show up on the conventional X-rays used by the radiologists who pronounce on abuse. Patrick Lantz has studied 890 bodies to find that a whopping 15 per cent of adult corpses, and 19 per cent of those under the age of 1, have the haemorrhages that the textbooks cite as proof of abuse. John Plunkett, the forensic pathologist from Minnesota who has helped to free more than 100 wrongly accused parents in America, neatly summed up the problem. "If all you have is a hammer," he said, "everything looks like a nail."
Most of these men started out on the other side of the argument, as doctors testifying against parents. At some point each seems to have become alarmed by the number of allegations being made in families with no history of abuse, and stunned by the flimsiness of the research. The belief that metaphyseal fractures are incontrovertible evidence of abuse, for example, is based chiefly on one 1986 study by the American radiologist Dr P. K. Kleinman. He found such fractures in four infants who were known to have been abused, and none in one who had not. How could any court convict Nicky Hardingham, and many others, on the basis of such an unscientific sample? Yet they have.
At Tuesday's conference I met a young couple looking completely shell-shocked. Social services took away their child last month. It is hard to escape the feeling that any one of us could be in their shoes.
I do not know quite how we have created a situation where abuse has become the default diagnosis in the face of the unexplained. Or why social workers and judges have come to rely so heavily upon medical theories that are presented as fact. The only way to avoid miscarriages of justice must be to throw open these decisions to thorough scrutiny. Children in Scotland, Canada and New Zealand have not been damaged by family courts being open to the press. The longer these processes remain secret, the more danger there is that children will suffer from misguided decisions.
It is too late for Nicky Hardingham to get her three children back. But if her next baby is taken away, we must suspect that the system has learnt nothing. In telling her story she has at least begun to expose how the system is skewed. There are so many like her who dare not speak. We should not stand for that in this country.
By Andrew Bolt
At last, Hollywood makes a movie about a barbaric religion that oppresses women and sends fanatics to kill unbelievers
Yes, they've had it coming, those, er, Catholics. They've terrorised us too long. So clap the makers of The Da Vinci Code. Imagine what guts it took for them just to go to last week's premiere in Cannes when -- as The Independent reported -- outside the theatre there was "a contingent of persistent nuns hovering forbiddingly". Those damn hovering nuns. No wonder we're so scared of flying.
But a word of advice to the Catholic Church, and particularly its Opus Dei order, accused in this film of being a bunch of self-flagellating perverts and assassins. Friends, why waste breath insisting the film tells lies when it says Christ had a child with his "wife" Mary Magdalene, and the church has murdered their descendents to protect its power? Stop claiming that you're actually nice guys who'd have to be insane to kill the children of your own God.
You're accused of being killers? Then live up to the hype. It's your only hope. Just ask our Muslim friends. Ask them why no Hollywood director dares make a movie that trashes Islam the way The Da Vinci Code trashes Christianity. Here are a few clues. In 1988, novelist Salman Rushdie wrote The Satanic Verses, which -- as The Da Vinci Code does with the Bible -- questions how the Koran came to be written, and suggests it, too, crushed the worship of female divinities.
But some Muslim hate-preachers, unlike the average bishop, don't wring hands, but necks. And so Iran's ayatollahs issued a fatwa on Rushdie, who within five years saw his Japanese translator murdered, his Italian translator stabbed, and his Norwegian publisher shot three times. I don't know if Dutch director Theo van Gogh forgot that lesson, or learned it too well, but he later made a 10-minute film which showed half-naked actresses on whose skin was written the Koranic verses, which most insulted women. Two years ago, a Muslim viewer gave him the ultimate bad review, cutting his throat and pinning a note of complaint to his chest with a hunting knife.
Other "bad" art has had similarly robust critiques from militant Islamists. The huge Bamiyan statues of Buddha were blown up by Afghanistan's Taliban. A fresco in a Bologna church, showing Mohammed in hell, was the target of a planned bombing by al-Qaida. And in case our artists still hadn't got the fatwa, Muslim crowds this year rioted so violently against Danish cartoons of their prophet that 140 people died and two Danish embassies were burned down.
Now that's the kind of protest Hollywood heeds and had newspapers around the world censoring themselves out of sheer fear. Of course, Hollywood hardly needs an excuse to savage us rather than the latest tyranny. But never has it seemed so determined to do this as it has since September 11. It was around that very day that the makers of The Sum of All Fears became the first in Hollywood to declare that showing Muslim extremists as the kind of people who might kill you was haram, a sin against safe business. Their film was based on the Tom Clancy novel, in which Muslim extremists, helped by East German communists, smuggle a nuclear bomb into the United States and blow up a crowded stadium, illustrating a threat only too real.
But when the Council on American-Islamic Relations demanded he be nice to Muslims, the director turned his baddies into German Nazis and a white South African, pleading: "I have no intention of promoting negative images of Muslims". Since then Hollywood has looked in every direction except the East for its villains -- every direction except the one most terrorists actually come from.
Run through the latest movies. The Constant Gardener paints our drug companies as racist killers. Kingdom of Heaven makes the Crusaders the real baddies. Munich criticises Israel for hitting back. Syriana blames wicked American oil men for corrupting a harmless Arab tyrant. Fahrenheit 9/11 makes Saddam's Iraq seem like paradise and George Bush an agent of hell. Even past enemies of us wicked capitalists are redeemed. Good Night and Good Luck savages those who once hunted Communist spies in the US. The 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate replaces the old villain -- an agent of communist China -- with one from a US company just like Halliburton.
So many villains, and all Americans, Christians and Jews. Not a Muslim among them. Still, it keeps the actors safe, I guess. When did some Jew or Christian last hammer out a film review with a machine gun?
But there is more than cowardice behind this. This year's V for Vendetta chokes with real loathing of the very institutions that make us free, as if only the totalitarian is pure. It invents a police-state Britain in 2020 that -- backed by a pedophile Anglican archbishop -- has declared war on all gays and Muslims, and is so evil that its leaders could poison 80,000 of their own people and pin the blame on Muslims, just to pass harsh new laws. Get the hint? Some on the Left now claim the CIA staged the September 11 attacks as well, to justify a war against Iraq. The film's climax is the bombing of Parliament by a noble freedom fighter -- a scene filmed with the help of the British Government, which agreed to have streets around Westminster closed.
Have we no sense of self-preservation? Perhaps not. See only how many now cheer The Da Vinci Code's attack on Christianity. Is Christianity really a plot to oppress women, as the film claims? Did pagans really celebrate women only to be destroyed by the sex-hating church fathers? Again Hollywood attacks what has helped make us free. As sociologist Rodney Stark wrote in his celebrated The Rise of Christianity, "Christianity was unusually appealing to pagan women" because "within the Christian subculture women enjoyed far higher status than did women in the Greco-Roman world at large". CHRISTIANS rejected polygamy, divorce, infidelity, incest, infanticide, giving women more power and dignity than pagan Rome ever did.
It's true we now have one movie about September 11, United 93, that tells of the hijacked plane brought down by its heroic passengers. But as Khalid Abdalla, who played one of the hijackers said, the director tried not to make the hijackers seem too bad because "it wasn't to be a film about stereotypes". Of course not. Islamist terrorists killing innocent people for a mad ideology? That's a stereotype we've seen so often in real life that why see it in the movies too? Let's instead see a film with a fresh take on how, say, the Catholic Church hates women and protects perverts. Or how our politicians are crooks, Germans are Nazis and businessmen scum. And at the end of it you can declare: I have seen the movie and the enemy is us.
1 June, 2006
SERIOUSLY INSANE BRITAIN
The first thing I was told as a trainee reporter was to write in the inverted pyramid, putting the most important part of the story on top. This story about today's British policing, political correctness and crime-control has several parts, but I am unsure which is the most (or least) important. They occurred within a short time of each other and are typical of the bizarre combination of Draconian punishments for minor offenses against political correctness and permissive or weak treatment of serious criminality characteristic of Britain today. The first was brought to public attention by Ann Widdecombe, a former Conservative Home Office Minister in charge of Prisons and a Privy Councillor.
A former North Wales police officer of 22 years standing, John Atkinson, referred to a senior police officer as a "dyke." He had apparently been upset by the officer refusing to commiserate with him at a funeral over the death of his son. It was, as Miss Widdecombe said, a vulgar expression, but vulgarity is not normally a crime. He might have been told to mind his language and go home. Instead, he claims, six officers arrested him, handcuffed him, and bundled him into a van.
According to Mr. Atkinson, he was then locked in a cell, stripped naked, and left all night with only a blanket. There were no sanitary arrangements and he was forced to urinate in a corner of the cell, nor was he given any water, though prisoners are legally entitled to these things. While he was still naked the police proposed to interview him. When he protested he was handed back his clothes soaked in urine, which he was told had leaked under the cell door.
This was not, it seems a matter of unofficial horseplay among police getting out of hand, or of police settling some sort of grudge or quarrel among themselves by rough but informal methods. He was formally charged with threatening, abusive and insulting behavior and taken to court, though when the matter was brought before a magistrate the charges were thrown out.
A few days after this it was reported that a Bedfordshire farmer and former churchwarden, Frank Cook, fired a shotgun, not to kill, but to frighten, a dog threatening his lambs. He was standing on his lawn with his two grandchildren aged 3 and 5 shortly after when six police cars roared up and dozens of police poured out, five of them armed.
Mr. Cook, 77 years old and suffering from high blood pressure, claims he was forced into an armlock in front of his family, handcuffed, sworn at, and bundled into a police car. He was then locked in a cell for five hours, finger-printed and photographed and forced to give a DNA sample. He claims that at one point police pointed a gun at his son, who photographed him being arm-locked (the photograph was printed in the British press). He had previously reported two burglaries with no action being taken.
On the other hand, more than 1,000 major offenders of foreign nationality, including murderers, rapists, kidnappers, other violent criminals and people-smugglers, who would have been eligible for deportation, were released from prison and no record was kept of their whereabouts. In about 160 of these cases the sentencing judges had specifically recommended that they be deported at the end of their sentences. There were previous cases reported shortly before this came to light of foreign criminals recommended for deportation who were subsequently freed committing further crimes including murder and rape.
Sir David Normington, the civil service head of the Home Office, said the situation had actually deteriorated since the Home Office was alerted to the problem last August, with about 40 foreign prisoners being released and "lost" every month since then compared to about 14 a month before.
While huge efforts are put into enforcing political correctness (a police task-force was reported investigating a cartoon of Mohammed put up on a notice-board in a private office, blaming it on dangerous "extremists," and undercover police have been sent in "Operation Napkin" ready to arrest patrons committing such racist hate-crimes as mimicking the accents of staff or asking for flied lice), in many ways the state seems astonishingly weak, and not just because of big increases over the last few years in every type of violent crime. In 2004, about 20 Chinese illegal immigrants were drowned picking cockles (small edible shellfish) when caught by the tide on the mudflats at Morecambe Bay in northwest England. It appeared an entire illegal industry -- not only picking the cockles but also processing them and distributing them for sale -- had been set up with none of the relevant regulatory authorities (immigration, police, local council, fisheries, conservation, coast-guard etc.) noticing or caring. While lethally dangerous situations like this are allowed to develop, absurd local regulations ban children's snowball fights and other kindergarten games.
THE INCORRECTNESS OF THE MILITARY
I cannot remember the last time I read a newspaper story about an Iraq War hero, nor can I recall seeing modern American soldiers portrayed heroically in film or on television. But there is no shortage of U.S. soldiers being described as evil or as weak, incompetent, pathetic pawns -- in all three mediums.
Though most of today's media is quick to fawn over anti-military frauds like Jimmy Massey and Cindy Sheehan, it almost never mentions, no less praises, righteous men like Marine Sergeant Rafael Peralta and Medal of Honor winner Sergeant First Class Paul Smith, whose heroic deeds are worthy of high-profile, honest depiction in print and on screen.
The press gives little notice to combat veterans who speak positively of their military experiences, or how those experiences helped them attain successful careers or perform extraordinary deeds in their civilian lives.
Instead, it and Hollywood endlessly pummel us with tales of U.S. soldiers going hungry, or lacking body armor or killing civilians in the heat of battle, or killing civilians for fun, or committing torture, or ending up on Skid Row; bitter and broken. Such stories of our fighting men and women have become as common as leftwing journalists.
Witness a recent Reuters article -- one so disingenuous, so dishonest and so full of deceptions that it reeks of the anti-military bias that permeates the Old Media, through and through. And in a classic case of the leftwing choir preaching to its self, the piece is now being trumpeted by far-Left blogs and websites as "proof" of the U.S. Military's incompetence, callousness and overall wretchedness. Written by Daniel Trotta, and titled, "Some Iraq war vets go homeless after return to US," the piece profiles Vanessa Gamboa, an Army veteran who returned from Iraq facing a rocky transition back to civilian life.
While in Iraq, Gamboa worked in logistics, but nevertheless had a single, brief combat experience during which no one was injured. Reuters uses Gamboa's brush with violence to insinuate that our soldiers are poorly trained incompetents--used up by the military and then discarded. The article begins on that note:
"The nightmare of Iraq was bad enough for Vanessa Gamboa. Unprepared for combat beyond her basic training, the supply specialist soon found herself in a firefight, commanding a handful of clerks.
'They promoted me to sergeant. I knew my job but I didn't know anything about combat. So I'm responsible for all these people and I don't know what to tell them but to duck,' Gamboa said.
The battle, on a supply delivery run, ended without casualties, and it did little to steel Gamboa for what awaited her back home in Brooklyn.
When the single mother was discharged in April, after her second tour in Iraq, she was 24 and had little money and no place to live. She slept in her son's day-care center.' Gamboa is part of a small but growing trend among U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- homelessness."
Sergeant Gamboa left the U.S. Army nearly broke? The U.S. military covers its active duty soldiers' room and board. In addition, it also pays its members a salary, based on rank. A buck private is paid approximately $1100 per month. A sergeant like Vanessa Gamboa makes nearly double that amount, before bonuses for combat, sea or hazardous duty. And since the military covers the cost of food, rent, clothes and utilities (in addition to providing comprehensive medical and dental care for its active duty members), it's theoretically possible for active duty personnel to bank nearly their entire pay.
Realistically though, many soldiers are young and enjoy a night out on the town, or treat themselves to a nice stereo or a fast car or motorcycle or an off-base dinner from time to time, so they'll spend at least some of their pay on frivolities. Nevertheless, it is easy to save money while on active duty -- if one is disciplined and responsible enough to do so.
Let's do a little math: Say that over the life of her (likely) four year enlistment, as she climbed in rank, Vanessa Gamboa averaged (conservatively) $1400 per month in base pay. (After the bills are paid and neccessities purchased, how many of us have $1400 to spend every month?) If Gamboa completed her 48 month-long enlistment, she grossed around $67,200 for an approximate after-tax take-home pay of $47,000. Let's say she was careful with her money, but not compulsively frugal with it, spending 25 per cent of her pay during her enlistment period.
In the above scenario, Sergeant Gamboa is discharged from the Army with a modest nest egg of approximately $35,280 (not counting her educational and other benefits.) But based on the weepy Reuters tale, Gamboa was discharged with nearly empty pockets.
Contrary to what Reuters implies, the homelessness greeting Vanessa Gamboa in Brooklyn was not the Army's fault, but a predictable, logical result of her failing to properly manage her finances. She bears direct responsibility for her predicament -- and the U.S. Army does not. In addition, Gamboa made the decision to have a child -- without having a husband. Reuters' reporting on Gamboa's plight, suspiciously mirrors the talking points of Marxist counter-recruitment groups like Not Your Soldier and the Communist-led Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors :
"Military recruiters target poor neighborhoods like Gamboa's Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. Young adults with few job skills join the Army. When they get out, many have fallen behind their contemporaries, experts say."
(Who are the "experts" that Reuters based its claims on?) Perhaps these. No matter -- the vast majority of veterans go on to lead productive, prosperous lives. To most ex- soldiers, the experience of having served their country has had a tangible, positive effect on them.
This fact is anathema to Old Media outlets like Reuters. They, like their leftist counter-recruitment cousins, are only interested in pushing a narrative that the military preys on the poor, that time spent in the service leads to poverty and personal failure, that serving one's country is a poor career choice, that military recruiters are racists and liars and that, by and large, the U.S. Military is nothing but a tool of the rich -- one used by them to further their evil- capitalist goals.
The Reuters article discusses homeless veterans. It states that there are currently 200,000 homeless veterans, mostly from the Vietnam era, living in the U.S. Most of those people are homeless due to alcoholism or mental illness. And though there is a broad support network to address their needs, one fact not mentioned by Reuters is central to understanding homelessness: No one in America can be forced, against their will, to attend counseling, or to live in a shelter or be forced into detox or be made to receive psychiatric help unless they harm someone other than themselves or have demonstrated the potential to do so. And that, not lack of funding, is the main reason that homeless people, veterans and non-veterans alike, remain on the street.
Unless that Catch-22 is successfully addressed, no amount of money thrown at the problem of homelessness will fix it. And if laws are passed making it mandatory for all homeless people to get help for their addictions and psychiatric illnesses, so-called "civil liberties" groups will cry "persecution," "discrimination" and a host of "isms." Soon afterwards, obstructive law suits will commence.
Based on the tone of the Reuters article on Vanessa Gamboa, one would conclude that homelessness among Iraq War II veterans is a widespread problem; an earmark of today's military service. But it's not. Even Reuters admits that, "On any given night the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) helps 200 to 250 of them, and more go uncounted." That's around 200-250 people, out of the many thousands who have so far served in Iraq and have reentered civilian life.
Homeless veterans have served their country, and their problems, (if service related), should be efficiently addressed by the Armed Forces. Our government must make good on that which it promises its soldiers -- (all of which is clearly spelled out in every enlistment contact) -- but it should never be required to serve as a welfare agency for people, like Sergeant Vanessa Gamboa, who make poor monetary or personal decisions or who do not adequately plan for their futures.
Reuters' biggest journalistic deception is its equating Sergeant Gamboa's difficulties with those of veterans suffering from combat-related maladies. Gamboa's problems resulted from her neglecting to plan ahead, which was probably rooted in the currently wide-held expectation that Big Government will automatically pay for one's poor decisions. Unlike Sergeant Gamboa though, almost all homeless veterans suffer from alcoholism or mental illness, whether combat related, or not. Unlike Gamboa's, their problems are generally not of their own making.
Be that as it may, the profound differences in the circumstances leading to Vanessa Gamboa's homelessness and those of other homeless vets, is of no significance to Reuters, since depictions of either can equally be used to smear the U.S. military and its current mission. And smearing the U.S. military and its current mission in Iraq, is one of the things that Old Media outlets like Reuters do best.
During World War II, American soldiers were saving the West from being sucked into the Black Hole of Nazism. American troops are now fighting to save the West from the equally noxious Islamism. But unlike today, the Greatest Generation's acts of bravery and sacrifice were trumpeted by the press and immortalized in film. More than 418,000 American soldiers died in that long, terrible war, but the overwhelming majority of those who returned got on with their lives and drove one of the most remarkable periods of prosperity and social vibrancy in America's history.
Our soldiers in Iraq and in Afghanistan are their equals. They are cut from the same cloth, raised in the same cradle of Liberty as American warriors past. They are smart, competent, well-equipped, well treated and, by and large, well led. But you'd never know that if you relied on Reuters, or the rest of the Old Media, for your news.
EU DICTATORS NOW ATTACKING ALCOHOL
Those who will not learn of the past are condemned to repeat it
The campaigns to combat the effects of `passive smoking' are widely credited for Europe's growing number of smoking bans. Now alcohol is in the sights of the public health lobbyists, and they have invented the concept of `passive drinking' as their killer argument. I have seen a leaked draft report for the European Commission, which is due to be published some time in June. It makes claims about the high environmental or social toll of alcohol, the `harm done by someone else's drinking'. The report is likely to inform proposals for a European Union alcohol strategy later this year.
Dr Peter Anderson, the report's lead author, who has a background in the World Health Organisation (WHO) and plays a leading role in Tobacco Free Initiative Europe, tells me that the concept of social harm takes the alcohol debate beyond the traditional limits of individual choice and addiction. `You can make the argument that what an individual drinks is up to them, provided they understand what they are doing and bearing in mind that alcohol is a dependency-producing drug.. But when you talk about harm to others then that is a societal concern and justification for doing something about it. I think that is an important argument. If there was not harm to others then the argument gets a little less powerful'.
The draft report doesn't mince its words when it comes to estimating the social harms of alcohol. `The total tangible cost of alcohol to EU society in 2003 was estimated to be 125billion euros, equivalent to 1.3 per cent GDP, and which is roughly the same value as that found recently for tobacco.' The report further highlights the broader social cost of drinking, with the proviso that `these estimates are subject to a wide margin of error, [and] they are likely to be an underestimate of the true gross social cost of alcohol'. `The intangible costs show the value people place on pain, suffering and lost life that occurs due to the criminal, social and health harms caused by alcohol', says the report. `In 2003 these were estimated to be 270 billion euros, with other ways of valuing the same harms producing estimates between 150 billion and 760 billion.'
As Anderson indicates, emphasising the alleged social rather than individual consequences of alcohol will be key to the new campaign. The theme of `passive drinking' was flagged up early on. A Commission working group on alcohol health met in Luxembourg on 9 June 2004 to discuss, among other things, early progress on Anderson's report. Draft minutes note that the participants, EU and national officials and various experts, were on the hunt for `main reasons why there is a need to reduce alcohol-related harm'. `EU experts agreed that the strategy needed to show more clearly the facts concerning harm on third parties (both social and health), including children and other family members of persons with alcohol-related problems. Experts said that there, for information and pedagogic reasons, was a need for a good phrase to explain what we mean by third-party harm in the alcohol field - reference was made to the phrase "passive smoking".'
Just six days later, the Alcohol Policy Network (APN), a Commission-funded Eurocare project where Anderson is a staff member (4), met in Warsaw. Again, minutes show there was a strong consensus on the propaganda, or `advocacy', merits of finding an equivalent term to `passive smoking' for the alcohol debate. `The effect of alcohol on non-drinkers could be used more in advocacy. A need for effective terminology for this point was identified (eg. "passive drinking"), and APN members were invited to submit any suggestions they had in this regard'.
By October 2004, the theme was established in a Eurocare submission to the Commission. `Alcohol not only harms the user, but those surrounding the user, including the unborn child, children, family members, and the sufferers of crime, violence and drink-driving accidents: this can be termed environmental alcohol damage or "passive drinking".'
Dr Peter Anderson now distances himself a little from the term `passive drinking', while remaining true to the core idea. `Passive drinking as a term does not really work. Like you have environmental tobacco smoke, I suppose you could [talk about] environmental alcohol damage. I have used that term.but there may be a better way of doing it', he admits. In the draft report, the concept is intact. The report claims that as alcohol consumption, or `other people's' drinking, increases, so too does social harm. `Harms done by someone else's drinking range from social nuisances such as being kept awake at night through more serious consequences such as marital harm, child abuse, crime, violence and homicide. Generally the higher the level of alcohol consumption, the more serious is the crime or injury.'
Passive or environmental, the figures Anderson has pulled together for the EU are pretty scary. Drink is responsible for 2,000 homicides, four out of 10 of Europe's annual murders. `The economic cost of alcohol-attributable crime has been estimated to be 33 billion euros in the EU for 2003..while the intangible cost of the physical and psychological effects of crime has been valued at 9bn - 37bn.' Children, too, are passive victims of drinking. `Many of the harms caused by alcohol are borne by people other than the drinker responsible. This includes 60,000 underweight births, as well as 16 per cent of child abuse and neglect, and five to nine million children in families adversely affected by alcohol', says the report's summary.
But while arguments have raged over a causal relationship between alcohol and crime since the nineteenth century, evidence for a connection has remained thin. `Questions of how alcohol exerts its criminogenic influence have never been satisfactorily answered. [all that can be concluded is] alcohol does not directly cause crime but that it may be implicated indirectly', argues a study cited in the Oxford Handbook of Criminology.
The link made by campaigners between alcohol and crime today, whether violence or child abuse, follows not from hard facts but from a subjective outlook that sees human characteristics as damaging in general. And if human beings, particularly when under the influence of stimulants, are destructive, then, the argument goes, social intervention must follow. The idea that almost any activity - drinking, eating, speaking, even thinking - can cause harm is often blown out of proportion and used to generate frightening figures and policies.
Most violent crimes are committed by men; should males therefore be subject to special restrictive laws? Domestic violence mostly takes place in private homes; should privacy be abolished? Claiming that aspects of everyday life, such as drinking, automatically leads to `harm' takes away from the responsibility of individual lawbreakers for what they have done, and thus makes for bad policy. Should all 85 per cent of Europe's citizens who drink - that's at least 387 million of us - face restrictions because of the tiny minority who commit the 2,000 homicides dubiously attributed to alcohol?
In a twist of irony probably lost on po-faced public health types, the expression `passive drinking' seems to have originated as a spoof in two `Peter Simple' columns in the UK Daily Telegraph in 2002 and 2003, written by journalist Michael Wharton. Mocking the rise of nonsense research to justify social measures, he wrote about research work being carried out by `Dr Ron Hardware' at `Nerdley University'. `They were the first to discover the scourge of "passive drinking", showing by painstaking experiments and finely adjusted statistics that it was just as deadly as "passive smoking" and equally capable of causing cancer and innumerable other ills'.
Also, Soldier, `magazine of the British Army', generated some shock and awe with a prescient April's Fool story in 2006, about a looming booze ban to counter passive drinking. `This is another big brother idea taking in the problems of the minority and laying it squarely on the shoulders of the majority', wrote one outraged serviceman who didn't spot the joke. Today, it's no longer a joke - European officials are plotting to make `passive drinking' a reality.
Many of the ideas behind the latest European attempts to demonise drinking have much older, hoary antecedents. Some of the arguments and organisations involved go back to 1853. The Commission tender for the report went to the British Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS), an organisation with close links to Alliance House, venerable temperance campaigners. This relationship has already raised some eyebrows. It epitomises the convergence between public health campaigners and old-style moralistic prohibitionists. Alliance House was founded in 1853 by Quaker cotton manufacturer Nathaniel Card to work for the prohibition of alcohol. Inspired by prohibition in the US, his campaign soon gathered momentum and the Alliance became a political force to be reckoned with. But, thankfully for us today, Card and his friends were critiqued by John Stuart Mill and other progressive humanists.
In 1857 - the year that Mill's classic essay On Liberty was published - the Alliance was not seeking outright prohibition of alcohol but rather was trying to establish key arguments about the social harm of drinking. Today's campaigners use strikingly similar tactics. Anderson's arguments on social harm are similar to those used by the Alliance 150 years ago. `If anything invades my social rights, certainly the traffic in strong drink does', wrote the secretary of the Alliance, as quoted by Mill. `It destroys my primary right of security by constantly creating and stimulating social disorder.. It impedes my moral and intellectual development, by surrounding my path with dangers.'
Mill took issue with the idea that drinking was a social act rather than simply a trade in alcohol. He did back limited restrictions so long as they didn't have an intended prohibitive effect on individuals. He classed drinking as an individual act, for right or wrong, along with religion, opinion or conscience and other `experiments in living', which should be `outside' the scope of the law. The individual act of having a drink is not the cause of crime, believed Mill, any more than parenthood is the cause of child abuse or holding an opinion is a breach of someone's `social rights'.
Mill was keenly aware of the dangers of linking spiralling social harms with individual behaviour. `So monstrance a principle is far more dangerous than any single interference with liberty', he wrote. `There is no violation of liberty which it would not justify; it acknowledges no right to any freedom whatsoever, except perhaps that of holding opinions in secret, without ever disclosing them: for the moment an opinion which I consider noxious passes anyone's lips, it invades all the "social rights" attributed to me by the Alliance.' Anderson's report and a future EU strategy will be relatively light on legislation - but, as Mill argues, the principle is more important than any particular act of law.
If the Anderson report is anything to go by, the EU looks set to propose shorter bar opening hours, days when shops cannot sell alcohol, health warnings, and higher taxes to put off drinkers across Europe. Here, too, Mill would disagree, because the restrictions spring from the above `monstrous principle' with the avowed intent of cutting individual consumption. He backed licensing laws but only as a means of regulating or taxing public sale of alcohol, not as a means of checking individual acts of drinking. `The limitation of number, for instance, of beer and spirit houses, for the express purpose of rendering them more difficult of access, and diminishing the occasions of temptation, not only exposes all to an inconvenience because there are some by whom the facility might be abused, but is suited only to a state of society in which the labouring classes are avowedly treated as children or savages, and placed under a education of restraint, to fit them for future admission to freedom.. No person who sets due value on freedom will give his adhesion to being so governed', Mill argued.
Today's public health campaigners may not specifically target the working classes (instead we're all in their sights), but they also, like the old prohibitionists, have little faith in the capacity of people to run their own lives without being instructed by propaganda or tutored in scare stories. The European report says: `Educational interventions, which show little effectiveness in reducing the harm done by alcohol, are not an alternative to measures that regulate the alcohol market, which have the greatest impact in reducing harm.. Educational programmes should not be implemented in isolation as an alcohol policy measure.but rather as a measure to reinforce awareness of the problems created by alcohol and to prepare the ground for specific interventions and policy changes.. Broad educational programmes, beginning in early childhood, should be implemented to inform young people of the consequences of alcohol consumption on health, family and society and of the effective measures that can be taken to prevent or minimise harm.'
There is perhaps one key difference between yesterday's and today's `prohibition campaigners'. Once the temperance movement believed man could be saved. Today, it joins with the public health lobby to treat drinking as a form of social pathology rather than a question of moral redemption. Once, public health had the aim of protecting society against disease. Today, the `new public health movement' seeks to protect society against people themselves.
Today's public health outlook on drinking dovetails neatly with other powerful contemporary trends that emphasise human vulnerability or undermine trust between individuals. Linking drinking to free-floating risks, independent of the intentions of individuals, is a characteristic of today's anti-humanist climate. But 200 years after his birth, we can take heart from the works and legacy of Mill. He stood against the tide in his day and won. We owe him a debt and we owe the future of freedom a duty to make our own stand against the new public health alliance of the twenty-first century.
March of the food fascists
By Bettina Arndt
At my son's school the food fascists issued a new decree - only health foods for tuckshop recess specials. With the other volunteer mums, I stood for hours making summer rolls, wrapping fiddly rice paper around chicken breast and healthy vegies, and then watched in horror as the lines of boys took one look and walked on past. They had plenty of other healthy food to choose -- from sandwiches, sushi, salads and pasta -- and weren't thrilled to have their occasional chicken nuggets declared out of bounds.
When we examined the healthy crowd of boys romping around the playground, very few were overweight, many positively weedy. It's hardly surprising that most parents have been content with the mix of foods on sale in the tuckshop, understanding there's nothing wrong with the odd sausage roll to brighten long days in this academically demanding school.
But food fanatics are now infiltrating the parent committees, determined to impose their absurd prejudices on the rest of us. Junk food has become the new tobacco. Rising levels of obesity are giving licence to health food junkies to attempt to ban everything they don't like. And despite the contradictory evidence supporting these drastic measures, they already have scores on the board. New South Wales and Queensland restrict foods that can be sold in school tuck shops, with South Australia and Victoria to follow suit, and Western Australia likely to head in the same direction.
Yes, many kids are putting on more weight. And they are eating more hamburgers and drinking more fizzy drinks and watching more TV, which advertises these products. But it's not clear whether the weight gain is simply due to greater consumption of energy-dense foods or also to inactivity. Some recent Australian research supports the former, but many overseas studies point to inactivity as the major problem. And there is no good evidence that restricting junk food ads on television has any impact on obesity.
As state after state in the United States bans soft drink in schools, scientists have been churning out research trying to determine whether this makes sense. Last year, a study by the Georgetown Centre for Food and Nutrition Policy found no link between fizzy drink consumption and obesity in kids aged 12 to 18. A 2004 Harvard Medical school study of 14,000 children found calories from junk food had no more effect on weight than calories from health food.
Junk food in schools only affects kids with overweight parents, who may have a genetic susceptibility to weight gain, according to a 2004 National Bureau of Economic research study. It has no effect on students whose parents have normal weight, say the researchers. Yet bans on tuckshop food are only the beginning.
In America, the Public Health Advocacy Institute is proposing "putting nutritionally deficient foods behind the counter like you do with spray paint". A recent New Zealand Ministry of Health discussion paper suggests a new law extending the minimum age requirements on purchases of liquor and cigarettes to popular foods such as soft drinks, hamburgers, sweets and chocolate. One major problem for the food cops is that they have a moving target.
What exactly is junk food? Britain's new school rules have bogged down over determining whether fruit drinks containing lots of natural sugar are better, or worse, than low-calorie soft drinks containing artificial sweeteners. Across Australia, there is little agreement whether low-cal soft drinks, such as Coke Zero, and fruit juices should go on to the banned list. Are we likely to follow New York, where schools have banned whole milk, permitting only low-fat versions?
This is cloud cuckoo land. It is hardly surprising that Queensland students are already sneaking off campus to buy foods now banned in tuck shops and that there is a thriving black market in illicit items. Of course, kids are going to see these foods as even more desirable if we ban them. These extreme measures teach children little about commonsense and moderation, which are the essence of good eating.