The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

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30 June, 2007

SCOTUS dumps "affirmative action"

The US Supreme Court was accused yesterday of rolling back one of its landmark rulings of the civil rights era by rejecting plans to ensure that America's schools remained racially integrated. The decision will be seen as further evidence that President Bush's appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the court have shifted the balance of power decisively towards social conservatives.

After the court split 5-4 on the issue, dissenting liberal justices denounced the vote as flying in the face of legal precedent and, in particular, the 1954 Brown v Board of Education ruling, which abolished segregation of black and white schoolchildren. Chief Justice Roberts insisted, however, that he had honoured the principle of the court's decision 53 years ago. "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race," he said. "Simply because the school districts may seek a worthy goal doesn't mean that they are free to discriminate on the basis of race to achieve it."

Yesterday's ruling on schools policy in Louisville, Kentucky, and Seattle, Washington, will place question marks over hundreds of similar systems across America that have been designed to guarantee racial diversity in classrooms. The Bush Administration had sided with parents who took legal action against policies that prevented their children from attending preferred schools.

Crystal Meredith, a white single mother in Louisville, sued after her request to transfer her five-year-old son Joshua to a school closer to home was turned down. This was because of policies introduced during desegregation to ensure broad racial diversity across the US education system. Schools in Louisville spent 25 years under a court order to eliminate the effects of state-sponsored segregation. When it was lifted recently, the school board decided to keep much of the plan in place to prevent education from becoming segregated once more - a decision Mrs Meredith challenged successfully. She said yesterday: "My son is my world and I will never regret fighting for his rights. I only hope this case has brought attention to the school board and this community that each child's education is more important than their plan."

Justice Anthony Kennedy - who effectively holds the casting vote between liberals and conservatives on the bench - offered an opinion that race could still be used in some circumstances to achieve diversity, even though he backed yesterday's ruling.

But Justice Stephen Breyer said that Brown v Board of Education would be undermined by the ruling. "It reverses course and reaches the wrong conclusion," he said. "It distorts precedent, it misapplies the relevant constitutional principles, it announces legal rules that will obstruct efforts by state and local governments to deal effectively with the growing resegregation of public schools."

The ruling was the first on this issue since 2003, when the court upheld consideration of race in college admissions. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who approved of the limited use of race, has since retired and her replacement, Justice Alito, was in the majority that struck down the school system plans in Kentucky and Washington.


Palestinians have lost cred

Why is America trying to pour new money and more weapons into Palestinian Arab hands barely days after the Gaza debacle? It is an ill-considered policy, both premature and useless. The only sure result will be that warring gangs in the West Bank will use every new weapon to continue the mayhem and that the millions paid out won't buy as much as a bottle of milk for Palestinian Arab civilians. Instead, the money will end up in the pockets and bank accounts of the same crooks who lost Gaza.

Indeed, why try to recreate a world that has just crumbled? America and Israel may want to wait for what may turn out to be a changing of the guard: Arab voices, both expert and popular, are rising in vociferous denunciations of the once sacrosanct Palestinian Arabs. ...

"Palestinians today need to be left without a shred of a doubt" as to what other Arabs think of them, a widely read opinion commentator for the Saudi daily Asharq Al Awsat, Mamoun Fandy, thundered on Monday. "We need to tell them the only thing they have proven over 50 years is that they are adolescents who cannot and should not be trusted to run institutions of state or any other important matters."

While it could be argued that the overwhelming public outrage in Saudi Arabia reflects resentment over the collapse of the much-vaunted reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah - which was personally brokered by King Abdullah earlier this year in Mecca - the anger expressed across the Muslim Arab world reflects deep embarrassment at the discredit Hamas has brought, in the name of Islam, through its savagery against Fatah.

For its part, the Egyptian press has become unhinged, spewing vile denunciations of what is universally known as "the cause" - support for the Palestinian Arabs - and describing it as dead. Egypt's government pulled its embassy out of Gaza on Tuesday.

Kuwaitis, who have harbored contempt for Palestinian Arabs ever since they allied themselves with Saddam Hussein's occupation in 1990-91, also dropped all restraint. "Palestinians are neither a modernized nor a civilized people," Ahmad Al Bughdadi wrote Monday in Al Siyassah, an influential Kuwaiti daily. "They are not statesmen. If what happened in Gaza is what they do without a state, what then shall they do when they get one?"

If there could be an editorial coup de grace, it surely was delivered by no less than Abdelbari Atwan, undoubtedly the Palestinian Arabs most influential and respected journalist and a familiar face on both Western and Arab television.

Writing in the London-based Al Quds International, his painfully felt commentary, "Yes, We Have Lost the World's Respect," argued that "the cause" may have lost its legitimacy: "Many, myself among them, find it difficult to speak of Israeli crimes against our people in view of what we have now done," Mr. Atwan wrote. "I never thought the day would come when we would see Palestinians throwing other Palestinians from the tops of buildings to their death, Palestinians attacking other Palestinians to tear their bodies with knives, Palestinians stripping others naked to drag them through the streets."

All of which suggests letting this Arab storm run its course: It may be a purging of the Arab mindset that creates new realities and opportunities.


Reactions to the Rushdie knighthood -- hopeful signs?

The predictable stuff came sharp and fast. Immediately after Rushdie was given his gong for services to literature, Pakistan, our friendly ally in the war on terror, demanded that Britain withdraw the title. The British blasphemer had hurt the feelings of the Muslims’ world, said various Pakistani MPs.

The West is now well versed in this Muslim drama. First act: enter Muslims claiming hurt feelings. Second act: enter Muslims issuing a death-to-Western-heathens diktat. Cue Pakistan’s Religious Affairs Minister Mohammed Ijaz-ul-Haq: “If someone exploded a bomb on his body he would be right to do so unless the British Government apologises and withdraws the sir title.” Meanwhile, Pakistani students burned effigies of the Queen and Rushdie chanting “kill him, kill him”. It’s a routine that travels. Iranian leaders wept tears, claiming it was a clear sign of Islamophobia. Honouring a hated apostate would hurt the feelings of the Islamic community, said the foreign ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Hosseini. The Headquarters for Honouring the Martyrs of Islam World Movement increased the bounty on Rushdie’s head.

There’s no point in arguing with a country complaining about hurt feelings while it promises to wipe out Israel or with its citizens who want to “bestow kisses on the hands of whomsoever is able to execute this apostate”. But it’s worth checking whether the protagonist in the third act of this horror play will stick to the script. That’s where the West capitulates, apologising for Western values in the name of protecting Muslim sensibilities. Values such as freedom of speech: the right to voice opinions that are offensive. And freedom of religion: the right to disagree without copping a fatwa.

In 2004, after Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered for his movie, Submission, artist Chris Ripke reacted by painting a mural on a wall. It featured a dove (representing peace) with the words “thou shalt not kill” written in Dutch. The head of a nearby mosque complained to Rotterdam police that the mural was offensive and racist. Rotterdam police duly sent in city workers to remove the mural. When a message of peace is regarded as racist, you know Western values are just not what they used to be.

Last year when Muslims were offended by a bunch of silly Danish cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammed, some Muslims reacted by burning the Danish flag to the tune of bomb threats, boycotts and $14 million fatwas on the head of the cartoonists. The intimidation worked. Western leaders fell over themselves in the race to condemn the cartoons. Muslim feelings had to be spared such hurt. Many newspapers refused to publish the cartoons. A French editor was sacked for publishing them. "The Australian" argued publishing them would add nothing to the debate.

With another chapter of Muslim intimidation unfolding over Rushdie’s gong, it is becoming increasingly clear this is a debate we have to have. Not only with Muslim countries. But also with those living in the West who openly reject Western values.

We backed away in 1989. When the ayatollah Khomeini slapped a fatwa on Rushdie’s head, it was a critical test of Western resolve. A test the West failed. Few took the angry Muslims at their word. Instead, they had to be accommodated and placated. Britain, the home of free speech, played host to book-burning and flagrant intimidation by Muslims of the West. Cultural relativism meant British Muslim leaders, such as Sayed Abdul Quddus from the Bradford Council of Mosques, could openly endorse the hanging of Rushdie because he “tortured Islam”.

The West headed down the path of least resistance - appeasement. Many opted to stay quiet rather than wear the racist label slapped on anyone who challenged Muslim sensibilities. Others such as then US president George H.W. Bush delivered up a dose of moral relativism declaring both the fatwa and Rushdie’s book were equally offensive. Others, including British establishment figures, sided with Iran’s death merchants.

In the past two decades, free speech - that most critical of Western values - has been fed through the postmodern sausage-maker called political correctness. The result is a bizarre product where Muslims are deemed too precious to be prodded by the sharper ends of free speech, by words that challenge a set of ideas, their religion. But Muslims are free not just to tell us we are wrong but to demand death to Western infidels.

In that cosy, tolerance-laden environment political Islam thrived. Moral relativism and multiculturalism became Trojan horses for a weird Western death wish. Terrorist organisations banned in other countries set up their headquarters in Britain. Radical clerics exiled by countries such as Saudi Arabia made their home in Britain. British streets hosted demonstrations for those preaching death to Westerners. Local mosques and even universities bred home-grown jihadists. Bombs exploded. Britons died.

The more the West’s confidence waned, tiptoeing around for fear of causing offence, the more audacious became those who despised the West. Summing up the Danish cartoons furore last year, one pundit wondered aloud whether 2007 would be the Year of Shutting Up: a year when the West would retreat even further, undermining its own values so as not to offend those with very different values.

Rushdie’s knighthood has been a neat way of checking the West’s pulse on one of its core values - the right to write freely. As a doctor might say, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that victimhood is still top of the pops for some Muslims. When Nazir Ahmed, Britain’s first Muslim peer, said it was wrong to honour “the man that has blood on his hands” it echoed a “blame a Westerner” mentality that has hampered progress in much of the Arab world.

Eighteen years on, Muslims were still blaming a bloke who wrote a book, not their own bloody reactions. And some Western leaders, such as British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, are still saying sorry. The good news is fewer people are falling for that baloney. No protests on British streets this time. Not even a book burning. That has to be progress.


The latest racket: An attack on free speech in the name of "privacy"

Comment from Australia

CONFIRMING the theory that nature abhors a vacuum, the NSW Law Reform Commission has declared its support for a new avenue of litigation over breach of privacy. If accepted, the commission's recommendations could deny the right to publish a whole range of information now considered part of ordinary community dialogue.

The commission was set the task of evaluating whether a tort of privacy should exist in response to an adventurous ruling by a County Court judge in Victoria. The result follows the commission's similarly flawed attempt to impose limits on taking photographs in public places that, if adopted, would have rendered photojournalism all but impossible and was rejected out of hand. The latest proposal has been put forward for community discussion.

In doing so, the commission correctly observes that formulation of a comprehensive and meaningful definition of privacy has eluded legislatures and commentators for centuries. Statutory attempts had been either so vague as to be meaningless or so circumscribed as to be arbitrary. The commission also noted that like all rights and freedoms, privacy is not absolute, but must be balanced against other interests, values and human rights in the context of the merits of each case. But it nonetheless advanced for discussion a system based on the Canadian model, which includes a breach of privacy for disclosing embarrassing facts or using a person's name, identity, likeness or voice without authority or consent.

The commission went so far as to suggest that privacy be given over material that was already on the public record and that aggrieved parties should be allowed to share in the profits of offending publications.

The Australian believes there are good reasons why attempts to legally define privacy have proved historically troublesome. We believe consideration of issues such as the introduction of a tort of privacy to be beyond the scope of the Law Reform Commission. At worst it represents an attempt by lawyers to profit at the expense of free speech, putting a nebulous right to privacy ahead of the right to know.



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

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

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


29 June, 2007

A woman with a twin brother has fewer children

Patriarchy in the womb? Let's see the feminists get around this one! Not that the facts bother them, of course

TWIN brothers can leave quite an impression. The mere presence of a boy in the same womb as his sister causes her to develop bigger teeth than she otherwise would. Girls with twin brothers perform better on spatial-ability tests. They have better ball skills than most females; squarer, more masculine jaws and are more likely to be short-sighted. Now it seems that sharing the womb also has a deleterious effect on the sexual reproduction of women with a twin brother.

Virpi Lummaa of the University of Sheffield, in Britain, and her colleagues made the claim after studying detailed data from several generations of church records from many parishes in Finland. To ensure their findings were not skewed by modern health care, they confined their investigation to the years before Finns gained access both to contraception and assisted conception.

They report that women with a twin brother were 15% less likely to get married than were women with a twin sister. Those with a male twin also had a 25% lower chance of giving birth even though they lived just as long as those with a female twin. When the researchers considered only married women, those with a twin brother on average had two fewer children during their lifetimes than did women with a twin sister. And finally—to rule out any influence of sharing a house as well as a womb—Dr Lummaa checked the results were the same for women whose twin brothers died before they were three months old. They were. The researchers reported their findings in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

As with the teeth and the jaw lines, the purported cause of atypical female biology is early exposure to testosterone. This hormone is made by a male fetus's developing testes from about seven weeks after conception and is thought to diffuse through the amniotic fluid, influencing his sister's growth. But the exact mechanism by which a twin brother lowers his sister's chances of reproductive success is unclear.

Lesbianism is one possibility. (To what extent is impossible to tell, because the Lutheran ministers charged with collecting exhaustive demographic details did not probe quite that far.) But physiology could also play a part. Some cancers of the reproductive system, and a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome, which reduces fertility, are more common in women with relatively high early exposure to male hormones.

Dr Lummaa's results also suggest that, if a woman wishes to maximise the chances of passing on her genes, she would do better to avoid producing pairs of twins consisting of one boy and one girl and go for a single-sex combination instead. Mothers included in the study who produced opposite-sex twins had 19% fewer grandchildren than did mothers who gave birth to same-sex twins.

Evolutionary theory thus predicts that there should be fewer pairs of girl-and-boy non-identical twins than single-sex pairs of non-identical twins. Whether that is so requires another set of figures. Finnish church records, helpful as they are, do not distinguish non-identical same-sex twins from identical ones. In the eyes of God, unlike those of natural selection, twin girls are created equal.


Talk radio: Democracy at Work

Recently, Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi said, "Talk radio is running America. We have to deal with that problem." The "problem" the GOP Minority Whip was talking about is the fact that conservative radio listeners from coast to coast have been flooding his office and every other senate and congressional office with phone calls and emails stating their opposition to that flawed immigration bill they were trying to foist on the American public. What the senator seems to be against is a medium that is giving voice to millions of people who are being informed about the machinations of government and then taking a role in the dialogue that concerns their future.

It must be a painful adjustment to delude yourself into believing that you have your finger on the pulse of the national community and then become frustrated when you discover that you don't have a clue regarding what most Americans believe. Before the immigration bill is reintroduced to the Senate floor in an attempt to bring it back to life, President Bush and those senators who supported the failed effort should take into consideration the opinion of the American people (those who are here legally), inasmuch as they are the ones who put them in office. Since these elected officials are, at least ostensibly, supposed to be responding to the will of their bosses (us), they should take a peek at what a majority of us are saying.

A New York Times/CBSNews poll taken May 18-23 found that 69% of Americans believe that illegal immigrants should be prosecuted and deported; 82% of those surveyed said the federal government should be working harder to "keep illegal immigrants from crossing into this country." And according to a Rasmussen poll, by a two-to-one margin (60% to 28%), Americans set a higher priority on gaining control of the nation's borders than regularizing the status of illegal immigrants, while 75% opined that it's very important for the United States to "improve border enforcement and end illegal immigration."

Perhaps that doesn't sit well with Mr. Lott or with his colleague, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who recently spoke to the National Council of La Raza and impugned the motives of his fellow Americans regarding the bill they don't agree with. Here was a US Senator saying the "loud people," the "bigots" who disagree with amnesty for illegal aliens should "shut up" and go away. It seems increasingly evident that some of these politicians, who ostensibly represent the people, get really upset when the people are actually heard from. They want us to believe that the failure of the bill is a sign that the system is broken. Yet, it appears that the only thing broken when it comes to our immigration debacle is the spine of those elected officials who would rather pander to lawbreakers than stand up for the overwhelming majority of their constituents who believe the law should mean something.

A few years ago, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer were overheard talking about stopping talk radio by legislation, if necessary. Undoubtedly, that was a reference to the so-called, "Fairness Doctrine" that many politicians have been trying to pass for decades. It begins with the proposition that talk radio is unfair in its coverage and therefore must be regulated to ensure "fairness." Translation: talk radio has too many listeners who agree with conservative principles; hence, it must be silenced.

In the spring of 1987, both houses of Congress voted to put the Fairness Doctrine into law; a statutory inclusion which the FCC would have to enforce, like it or not. But President Reagan, in keeping with his deregulatory efforts and his long-standing belief that government should stay out of the affairs of business, vetoed the legislation. There were insufficient votes to override the veto. Congressional efforts to make the doctrine into law surfaced again during administration of George H.W. Bush. As before, the legislation was vetoed, this time by Bush.

While our pusillanimous reps are proclaiming that the system is broken because the bill was defeated, a more discerning response would have maintained that the system is working better than it was ever designed to work. The Founding Fathers could never have envisioned the Internet and the influence put forth by thousands of web logs. They couldn't have imagined a radio universe with sound waves reaching millions of human ears. We have entered a new wave of democracy, one that gives voice to the masses. Thousands of illegal aliens marched in the streets of some major cities while mouthing the implied threat to timorous politicians: "Today we march; tomorrow we vote." Now, millions of Americans are saying: "Today we blog; tomorrow we vote." It's about time someone paid attention to the majority for a change.


It's impossible to satisfy "Rage Boy" and his ilk. It's stupid to try

Post lifted from Christopher Hitchens. See the original for links

If you follow the link, you will be treated to some scenes from the strenuous life of a professional Muslim protester in the Kashmiri city of Srinagar. Over the last few years, there have been innumerable opportunities for him to demonstrate his piety and his pissed-offness. And the cameras have been there for him every time. Is it a fatwah? Is it a copy of the Quran allegedly down the gurgler at Guantanamo? Is it some cartoon in Denmark? Time for Rage Boy to step in and for his visage to impress the rest of the world with the depth and strength of Islamist emotion.

Last week, there was another go-round of this now-formulaic story, when Salman Rushdie accepted a knighthood from her majesty the queen, and the whole cycle of hysteria started up again. Effigies and flags burned (is there some special factory in Karachi that churns out the flags of democratic countries for occasions like this?), wounded screams from religious nut bags, bounties raised to suborn murder, and solemn resolutions passed by notional bodies such as the Pakistani "parliament." A few months ago, it was the pope who was being threatened, and Christians in the Middle East and Muslim Asia who were actually being killed. Indeed, Rage Boy had a few yells and gibberings to offer on that occasion, too.

I have actually seen some of these demonstrations, most recently in Islamabad, and all I would do if I were a news editor is ask my camera team to take several steps back from the shot. We could then see a few dozen gesticulating men (very few women for some reason), their mustaches writhing as they scatter lighter fluid on a book or a flag or a hastily made effigy. Around them, a two-deep encirclement of camera crews. When the lights are turned off, the little gang disperses. And you may have noticed that the camera is always steady and in close-up on the flames, which it wouldn't be if there was a big, surging mob involved.

Of course, this is not to say that there isn't a lot of generalized self-pity and self-righteousness (as well as a lot of self-hatred) in the Muslim world. A minister in Pakistan's government-the son of revolting late dictator Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, as it happens-appeared to say that Rushdie's knighthood would justify suicide bombing. But our media regularly make the assumption that the book burners and fanatics really do represent the majority, and that assumption has by no means been tested. (If it is ever tested, and it turns out to be true, then can we hear a bit less about how one of the world's largest religions mustn't be confused with its lunatic fringe?)

The acceptance of an honor by a distinguished ex-Muslim writer, who exercised his freedom to abandon his faith and thus courts a death sentence for apostasy in any case, came shortly after the remaining minarets of the Askariya shrine in Samarra were brought down in shards. You will recall that the dome itself was devastated by an explosion more than a year ago-an outrage described in one leading newspaper as the work of "Sunni insurgents," the soft name for al-Qaida. But what does "Rage Boy" have to say about this appalling desecration of a Muslim holy place? What resolutions were introduced into the "parliament" of Pakistan, denouncing such shameful profanity? You already know the answer to those questions. The lives of Shiite Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Christians-to say nothing of atheists or secularists-are considered by Sunni militants to be of little or no account. And yet they accuse those who criticize them of bigotry! And many people are so anxious to pre-empt this accusation that they ventriloquize the reactions of Sunni mobs as if they were the vox populi, all the while muttering that we must take care not to offend such supersensitive people.

This mental and moral capitulation has a bearing on the argument about Iraq, as well. We are incessantly told that the removal of the Saddam Hussein despotism has inflamed the world's Muslims against us and made Iraq hospitable to terrorism, for all the world as if Baathism had not been pumping out jihadist rhetoric for the past decade (as it still does from Damascus, allied to Tehran). But how are we to know what will incite such rage? A caricature published in Copenhagen appears to do it. A crass remark from Josef Ratzinger (leader of an anti-war church) seems to have the same effect. A rumor from Guantanamo will convulse Peshawar, the Muslim press preaches that the Jews brought down the Twin Towers, and a single citation in a British honors list will cause the Iranian state-run press to repeat its claim that the British government-along with the Israelis, of course-paid Salman Rushdie to write The Satanic Verses to begin with. Exactly how is such a mentality to be placated?

We may have to put up with the Rage Boys of the world, but we ought not to do their work for them, and we must not cry before we have been hurt. In front of me is a copy of this week's Economist, which states that Rushdie's 1989 death warrant was "punishment for the book's unflattering depiction of the Prophet Muhammad." There is no direct depiction of the prophet in this work of fiction, and the reverie about his many wives occurs in the dream of a madman. Nobody in Ayatollah Khomeini's circle could possibly have read the book for him before he issued a fatwah, which made it dangerous to possess. Yet on that occasion, the bookstore chains of America pulled The Satanic Verses from their shelves, just as Borders shamefully pulled Free Inquiry (a magazine for which I write) after it reproduced the Danish cartoons. Rage Boy keenly looks forward to anger, while we worriedly anticipate trouble, and fret about etiquette, and prepare the next retreat. If taken to its logical conclusion, this would mean living at the pleasure of Rage Boy, and that I am not prepared to do.


Say deranged Australian "human rights" bureaucrats

The NSW Law Reform Commission and the NSW Government have shirked their responsibility to recommend the inclusion of people who are blind or deaf on NSW juries, Human Rights Commissioner and Commissioner responsible for Disability Discrimination, Graeme Innes AM, said today.

Presenting the annual Sir Ninian Stephen Lecture at the University of Newcastle, Mr Innes told law students that despite the fact the Law Reform Commission was asked in 2002 to address the exclusion of people who are blind or deaf from serving on NSW juries, they have left this to gather dust. "I call on both the NSW Government and the NSW Law Reform Commission, as I have on a number of previous occasions, to act on this issue and to recommend and make the changes needed to allow people who are blind or deaf to be on juries," Mr Innes said. "I know many people who are blind or deaf who feel that they can never be totally accepted into our society as equals until they can fully carry out their responsibilities as citizens."

Mr Innes told the students the lack of progress regarding jury participation for people who are blind or deaf marred progress the NSW legal system had made in other areas such as accessibility for people with physical disabilities and hearing loops for people with hearing impairments.

In a far-ranging speech mixed with factual stories of ordinary people from his life as a lawyer in the former Department of Consumer Affairs, the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board and the Equal Opportunity Commission in WA, Mr Innes told students they could make a difference in virtually every area of law. "All you have to do is remember that laws and their application are really just about people in the end," Commissioner Innes said.

The Sir Ninian Stephen Lecture was established in 1993 to mark the arrival of the first group of Bachelor of Laws students at the University of Newcastle. It is an annual event which is delivered by an eminent lawyer at the start of each academic year.



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

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

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


28 June, 2007

Having opinions about race is not the same as racism

The article below is a typical rant about racism from a Left-leaning Australian newspaper. Typically, it makes no distinction between opinions about race and racism. To do so would deprive the author of much of the warm inner glow of righteousness she got from writing it. But, as any psychologist can tell you, attitudes are not the same as behaviour and it has been known since the 1930s that, in this field particularly, attitudes and behaviour are often very different. My favourite example of the disjunction is a neo-Nazi I once knew who was great friends with a very dark-skinned Bengali. I also once knew a very kind man who spoke very ill of Asians but who was in fact happily married to one.

We all have opinions about groups of people. What do most men think about busty women, for instance? And what do women think about tall men? There is rarely indifference in either case. So there is nothing wrong about opinions of racial or ethnic groups either. It is only when people are ill-treated solely because of their race that there is cause for concern and the label "racism" is justified.

The article below mentions the multifarious prejudices that the English typically have -- class prejudices and regional prejudices particularly. They even mock redheads! As an Australian who has spent some time in England, I have myself experienced the mocking comments that the English sometimes direct at Australians. I just directed a few mocking comments back which were received with perfect good humour and which moved the conversation onto a perfectly amicable level.

People will always be mocked by someone for something and it is about time everyone grew up enough to handle it. So let us hear from the self-righteous one:

I was at a smart party with a bunch of people I hadn't seen for years. Suddenly there was a yelp at my elbow. Fabulous Miss C, tanned to the gills, absolutely cured. She'd also done something to her face. "I hear you're living out at Springvale now. P told me. She said there aren't any dogs out there, because the chinks have eaten them all." And off she went into a squealing peal of laughter. It's a long time since I heard someone say "chinks" and make a joke like that. I told her that what she said was ridiculous, that of course there are dogs in Springvale, hundreds of them. I should have also told her she was revoltingly racist, that talk like that is not acceptable. But I did not.

A friend was dining at the home of "aristocrats" when the hostess rattled her jewels and complained about all the new immigrants from Africa, crowing that they should "send them back up the trees". The company laughed indulgently - such a rabid old eccentric. One simply could not take her seriously. No one told her off.

Racism is a disease found among people of all incomes, education levels and ethnic types. Even within the same ethnic type: in London Australians are patronised, treated as "dumb colonials" with the wrong accent. A German friend lived there for many years and waited for the inevitable swipe at every dinner party. "It was relentless," she told me. "Germans are seen as humourless, efficient manufacturers of precision instruments. We are disliked but we are taken seriously. Australians are not taken seriously. My only defence was to get ahead of them, tell a joke against Germans before they got theirs in."

I was warned a guest I had from the Balkans was sure to be a "broken and scarred person". When I suggested that such stereotyping was racist the response was angry. How dare I accuse them. My years working in the Jewish community have elicited "concern" from some. "Do they - uh - pay you properly?" When I return a quiet, withering gaze they too get angry: "Oh for God's sake! I just wanted to make sure you were alright!"

More here
Perhaps two small examples of mocking the English back might help someone. The first is of my own devising and the second I owe to the inimitable Barry Humphries. The two examples spring from derogatory comments about Australian wine and comments about Australian male friendships being suppressed homosexuality. The two comments I make on such occasions are:

"Australians are much like the French. They make a small amount of good wine and a lot of rough wine. And the stuff that is too rough even for them they sell to the English"

"That's just a rumour put out by Australia House to attract all the English immigrants"

I have always found that both comments get a "Touche!" response.

A Bong Hit to Free Speech

There is an old saying in the legal profession: "bad facts make bad law." Well, that is exactly what happened today in the Supreme Court. In a divided decision, the Court (with Chief Justice Roberts writing for the majority) decided that a school principal could punish a student who unfurled a banner reading "Bong Hits for Jesus" outside the school even though there was zero evidence that the silly banner created any form of disruption.

This has always been a particularly dangerous case for student speech. The banner in question is stupid and nonsensical at best and advocates illegal activity at worst. In other words, it's not the kind of speech that has any real value to anyone on either side of a meaningful political or religious debate. Moreover, since the speech deals with drug use (an undeniable evil and tragedy), it has even fewer defenders. Yet that is often the nature of free speech work: kooks and kids (and sometimes both) serve as the canaries in the coal mine for our basic civil liberties.

At first glance, the case is supremely narrow and seems to stand for a proposition that most likely would command wide public support: Speech advocating illegal drugs is particularly bad and can be banned by administrators - especially since those administrators are often under federal mandates to advance a message that clearly and unequivocally condemns drug use. The problem, however, lies with the reasoning that permits the Court to prohibit the speech even though it was non-disruptive, not obscene, and not school-sponsored (the three traditional areas of authority over student speech). The Court basically holds that schools can restrict speech about drugs because drugs are really harmful and really illegal.

All of this is no doubt true, but here's the rub: Virtually all restrictive speech policies (including over-broad anti-harassment rules or anti-bullying policies that are often used to shut down religious speech on political or sexual issues) are justified by the prevention of serious mental or physical harm to young people and by reference to other laws and regulations. All of the justifications that Justice Roberts applied to limiting speech regarding drug use could be used by school administrators to silence dissent on controversial issues regarding, for example, homosexual behavior, religion, and gender politics. Advocating illegal activity? Administrators justify censoring tee-shirts or other forms of speech by reference to state anti-discrimination statutes, anti-bullying regulations, and hate crimes laws all the time. What about impairing the cognitive or psychological development of young people? If you don't think schools can't trot out literally hundreds of psychiatrists who would argue that moral disapproval impairs the development of young people engaged in various forms of sexual activity, then I have a particularly nice bridge I'd like to sell you. It's big and spans the East River.

At its base, this opinion dramatically expands the scope of state authority over the speech of school children. Tie the speech in question to any form of "advocacy of illegal behavior," and the student will face long odds, even if his or her speech was non-disruptive, not school-sponsored, and not profane. If the speech contradicts a message that state or federal officials require schools to advance, then the odds grow even longer. If the school caps it off by trotting out some mental health care specialists who talk about the "profound harm" to delicate young minds or the risk of violence caused by the dissenting speech, then you might as well start drafting your appeal.

And what does this all have to do with universities, you ask? In every single free speech case I've ever argued, the university's first line of defense is the high school speech standard. When high school student rights shrink, universities grow bolder. In fact, I would be surprised if the "Bong Hits" case is not raised in at least two pending Alliance Defense Fund university speech cases. We shall see if the courts will continue to distinguish between secondary school and universities - especially in the face of serious institutional pressure to blur the differences.


Vilification battle ends

The Muslim group must have dropped its legal claims. A previous verdict against the pastors was overturned in a higher court

MEDIATION and handshakes have ended a five-year racial-vilification battle between an evangelical Christian group and a Victorian Muslim body. Catch the Fire Ministries sparked a row with the Islamic Council of Victoria in 2002 when it claimed that Muslims were demons training to make Australia an Islamic state, that the Koran promoted violence, and that Muslims derived money from drugs. [A very biased account of what the pastors did and said. For a more extensive report, see here]

Catch the Fire pastor Daniel Nalliah said he was relieved the case, which was settled in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal after a hearing in the Victorian Court of Appeal, was over. He said the two parties resolved the matter after seven hours of mediation on Friday. "The mediation brought two communities to a closer relationship. There was a lot of goodwill and a lot of shaking of hands," he said.

Former ICV president Yasser Soliman welcomed Pastor Nalliah's comments.


Compassion keeping Australian blacks dirt poor

TREASURY Secretary Ken Henry says decades of misguided government policy encouraging passive welfare has consigned many Australians - particularly Aborigines - "to a life of economic and social exclusion". Dr Henry, one of the nation's top bureaucrats, said governments had been motivated by compassion but the welfare system had discouraged recipients from seeking work that could lift them out of poverty. One solution would be to create a system that encouraged people to leave home to find work if there were no opportunities in their community.

Speaking in Cairns at indigenous leader Noel Pearson's Cape York Institute, Dr Henry said decades of "passive welfare provision" had delivered dependency on the system, eroding people's capability to work and undermining indigenous development. Dr Henry said a couple with three young children could access about $36,500 a year in income support payments and family tax benefit without working. "That fact affects workforce participation decisions all around Australia, in all sorts of communities," he told the conference, co-sponsored by The Australian. "The level of income support can discourage people from entering the workforce. The higher the base income support payment, the less likely it is thata person will enter or re-enter work after they become unemployed.

"Governments have also allowed many income recipients to receive support without being required to seek work. "For instance, in the past, many indigenous Australians were granted remote area exemptions, people with disabilities could avoid work obligations unless they were assessed as being able to work for 30 hours a week at award wages for two years, and parents didn't have to seek work until their youngest child was aged 16. "Governments that designed these policies were no doubt motivated by compassion. In practice, they were consigning many Australians to a life of economic and social exclusion."

Dr Henry added that passive welfare had done little to encourage people, particularly young people, to embrace education. Achieving better results, he said, meant ensuring Australia had a welfare system that rewarded work and study above a life of "passivity and dependence". He promoted the notion that, if work was not available in a remote community, people should have the capacity to get out and look for employment.

"Where remote locations simply cannot produce sufficient job opportunities for local people, there is no point in relying on miracles," Dr Henry told the conference, called to debate social norms in indigenous communities. "A better strategy is to ensure that people have the opportunity to move to take up work if that is what they want to do. Noel (Pearson) talks about orbits - where people spend part of the year earning income in other places, returning to live part of the year on country. This seems a sensible model to me."

Kevin Rudd also endorsed the need for welfare reform. He told Mr Pearson, director of the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership, that if Labor were elected to government he would provide funding of at least $15million to ensure the reform process was implemented in Cape York communities. He said the model would be evaluated and, if successful, implemented in other communities in Australia.

Mr Rudd said an important part of the Pearson reform plan was ensuring indigenous children attended school. This involved establishing a Family Responsibilities Commission, whose membership included local community elders and had the power to warn parents who were not sending their children to school. If that warning was ignored, it could "redirect" welfare payments to the person who was actually caring for the children.



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

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

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


27 June, 2007

Muslims testing British tolerance

Increasingly, Muslim women in Britain take their children to school and run errands covered head to toe in flowing black gowns that allow only a slit for their eyes. Like little else, their appearance has unnerved Britons, testing the limits of tolerance in this stridently secular nation. Many veiled women say they are targets of abuse. At the same time, efforts are growing to place legal curbs on the full Muslim veil, known as the niqab.

The past year has seen numerous examples: A lawyer dressed in a niqab was told by an immigration judge that she could not represent a client because, he said, he could not hear her. A teacher wearing a niqab was told by a provincial school to go home. A student who was barred from wearing a niqab took her case to the courts, and lost. In fact, the British education authorities are proposing a ban on the niqab in schools altogether.

David Sexton, a columnist for The Evening Standard, wrote recently that Britain has been "too deferential" toward the veil. "I find such garb, in the context of a London street, first ridiculous and then directly offensive," he said.

Although the number of women wearing the niqab has increased in the past several years, only a tiny percentage of women among Britain's two million Muslims cover themselves completely. It is impossible to say how many exactly. Some who wear the niqab, particularly younger women who have taken it up recently, concede that it is a frontal expression of Islamic identity, which they have embraced since Sept. 11, 2001, as a form of rebellion against the policies of the Blair government in Iraq and at home. "For me it is not just a piece of clothing, it's an act of faith, it's solidarity," said a 24-year-old program scheduler at a broadcasting company in London, who would allow only her last name, Al Shaikh, to be printed, saying she wanted to protect her privacy. "9/11 was a wake-up call for young Muslims," she said.

At times she receives rude comments, including, Shaikh said, when a woman at her workplace told her she had no right to be there. Shaikh said she planned to file a complaint. When she is on the street, she often answers barbs. "A few weeks ago a lady said: 'I think you look crazy.' I said: 'How dare you go around telling people how to dress,' and walked off. Sometimes I feel I have to reply. Islam does teach you that you must defend your religion."

Other Muslims find the niqab objectionable, a step backward for an immigrant group that is under pressure after the terror attack on London's transit system in July 2005. "After the July 7 attacks, this is not the time to be antagonizing Britain by presenting Muslims as something sinister," said Imran Ahmad, author of "Unimagined," an autobiography of growing up Muslim in Britain, and the head of British Muslims for Secular Democracy. "The veil is so steeped in subjugation, I find it so offensive someone would want to create such barriers. It's retrograde."

Since South Asians started coming to Britain in large numbers in the 1960s, a small group of usually older, undereducated women have worn the niqab. It was most often seen as a sign of subjugation. Many more Muslim women wear the headscarf, called the hijab, covering all or some of their hair. Unlike in France, Turkey and Tunisia, where students in state schools and female civil servants are banned from covering their hair, British Muslim women can wear the headscarf, and indeed the niqab, almost anywhere, for now.

But that tolerance is eroding. Even some who wear the niqab, like Faatema Mayata, a 24-year-old psychology and religious studies teacher, agreed there were limits. "How can you teach when you are covering your face?" she said, sitting with a cup of tea in her living room in Blackburn, a town in the north of England, her niqab tucked away because she was within the confines of her home. She has worn the niqab since she was 12, when she was sent by her parents to an all-girls boarding school. The niqab was not, as many Britons seemed to think, a sign of extremism, she said. The niqab, to her, was about identity. "If I dressed in a Western way I could be a Hindu, I could be anything," she said. "This way I feel comfortable in my identity as a Muslim woman."

No one else in the family wore the niqab. Her husband, Ibrahim Boodi, a social worker, was indifferent, she said. "If I took it off today, he wouldn't care." When she is walking, she is often stopped, she said. "People ask, 'Why do you wear that?' A lot of people assume I'm oppressed, that I don't speak English. I don't care, I've got a brain."

Some commentators have complained that mosques encourage women to wear the niqab, a practice they have said should be stopped. At the East London Mosque, one of the largest in the capital, the chief imam, Abdul Qayyum, studied in Saudi Arabia and is trained in the Wahhabi school of Islam. According to the community relations officer at the mosque, Ehsan Abdullah Hannan, the imam's daughter wears the niqab. At Friday prayers recently, the women worshipers were crowded into a small upstairs windowless room away from the main hall for the men. A handful of young women wore the niqab and spoke effusively about their reasons. "Wearing the niqab means you will get a good grade and go to paradise," said Hodo Muse, 19, a Somali woman. "Every day people are giving me dirty looks for wearing it, but when you wear something for Allah you get a boost."


Anti-Semitism out of control in Europe

A young French Jew is kidnapped, tortured and left to die by a band of Muslims. An arson badly damages Geneva's largest synagogue. A 13-year-old girl on a London bus is robbed and kicked unconscious after her attackers ask if she is "Jewish or English." Anti-Semitism in Western Europe apparently is out of control. That is the consensus of a dizzying array of recent reports, the latest of which was released this week at a conference combating discrimination under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Representatives of dozens of European governments were expected at the June 7-9 meeting in Bucharest, Romania, a follow-up to a 2005 conference of the OSCE conference on anti-Semitism in Spain. The 2007 Hate Crimes Survey by the U.S.-based organization Human Rights First goes beyond the data included in many of the studies to suggest that most European governments are woefully inept at measuring and thus prosecuting hate crimes.

Human Rights First says the survey is the first by a U.S. non-governmental organization to examine racist, xenophobic, homophobic and anti-religious crimes in Europe. While the report includes analysis of Russia, Ukraine and even North America, the focus is on Western Europe. It is also the only one of the recent reports to raise the specter of a Europe teetering on the verge of a Hitler-era epidemic of racist hatred. "Today the parallels with the 1930s include the seeming indifference of many governments and broad sectors of public opinion to the rising violence and fear that once again threatens European Jews, and with them members of other minorities," says a separate, companion report that focuses exclusively on anti-Semitism. "As it did in the 1930s, the reactivation of ancient prejudices and the transformation of new hatreds into deadly violence have been largely overlooked outside the Jewish community," the report concludes.

In most European countries, "anti-Semitic violence and other hate crimes still are largely unacknowledged in public policy and action," according to the survey by Human Rights First, formerly known as the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. Paul LeGendre, who directs the anti-discrimination program for Human Rights First, told reporters from the group's New York office, "One of our findings is that governments are not doing enough to report on hate crimes. We have a sizable data deficit." The companion survey says that the data that has been collected "reveals both a general trend toward a rise in anti-Semitic incidents and a trend toward violent crimes against Jewish people in a growing proportion of such incidents."

The analysis came after a May 24 fire that badly damaged the largest synagogue in Geneva. The fire was labeled as arson several days later, sending shock waves through Swiss Jewry. Many Jews are also protesting anti-Semitism they say is disguised as criticism of Israel throughout Western Europe. The latest examples come from Britain: the proposed boycott of Israeli academics, which the largest British teachers union voted last month to disseminate to its membership for a final decision, and the country’s largest trade union, with more than a million members, deciding to consider a boycott motion on Israel at its upcoming conference.

Reports issued since Israel's war in Lebanon last summer and widely covered in the international media showed a marked increase in anti-Semitic incidents, rhetoric and attitudes in the 27-member European Union. The picture, however, may be more complicated as anti-Israel and anti-American sentiment have spilled over into what some hope are only cyclical rises in hostility based on world events and not on actual antipathy to Jews. Similar spikes occurred during the first and second Palestinian uprisings.

But others argue that anti-Israel and anti-Jewish behavior have become indistinguishable. As tensions flare in the Gaza Strip, European Jews may be wondering whether this summer will repeat last year's record number of attacks against them, their synagogues and their cemeteries. In an Anti-Defamation League survey on European attitudes toward Jews released in May, 51 percent of respondents in five countries said Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their home country, and 52 percent said Israel's actions have lowered their views of Jews.

European leaders are now discussing, with Israel’s participation, how to improve the country’s image. A European Jewish Congress report issued last November revealed a dramatic rise in anti-Israel discourse during the Lebanon War both among leftist politicians and media in Europe, as well as on the extreme right. The discourse, the report said, often morphed into anti-Jewish sentiment. For Ilan Moss, author of the report, this trend was illustrated best when someone anonymously laminated a Guardian newspaper photo of victims from the Israeli airstrike in Qana that killed 28, including 16 children, and taped it to the front of a London synagogue. "The message was clear: You Jews are responsible for this massacre," Moss said.

More here


Poland is again in the front line of another world war - a moral battle for the soul of Europe and the world. Its two enemies are the population control/abortion industry and the homosexual movement. The agency of oppression, the European Union, is demanding that Poland obey regulations by the European Parliament in Brussels to provide abortion, homosexual rights and same-sex marriage. A European Parliament resolution in April condemned Poland for being "hateful" and "repulsive" for refusing to permit the promotion of homosexuality in schools The resolution threatened that "homophobic" countries such as Poland would be taken to court.

Warsaw was the location this year for the fourth World Congress of Families (May 11-13), originally founded by American author and researcher, Dr Allan Carlson, president of the Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society. The congress was attended by a gathering of 3,300 delegates from the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe (including Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Russia), Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Ironically, this pro-family event was held in a massive exhibition centre, originally named the Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture and Science. A postwar "gift" from the Soviet Union to the people of Poland, it is the tallest building in Poland and is known as "a Stalin wedding-cake".

Once, during World War II, Soviet dictator Stalin mockingly asked: "How many divisions has the Pope?" One could say that, six decades later, they were present in force at the World Congress of Families IV. The aura of the famous late Polish pontiff, Pope John Paul II, dominated the Warsaw gathering and he was quoted by many speakers. Speakers included Ellen Sauerbrey, assistant US secretary of state for population, refugees and immigration; Inese Slesere, member of the Latvian parliament; Christine de Vollmer, president of the Latin American Alliance for the Family; Katarzyna Mazela, vice-president of the Forum of Polish Women; Pat Fagan, research fellow at the Washington DC-based Heritage Foundation; Bill Saunders of the Family Research Council; and Father Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International.

In what could be described as its "sexual harassment" of Poland, the EU is also targetting Baltic countries, Lithuania and Latvia, with homosexual propaganda which mandates that countries include "sexual orientation" in its anti-discrimination laws as a condition of membership and benefits in the EU. Malta is another country attacked for its pro-life laws. However, Poland - the land of Pope John Paul II, author of Evangelius Vitae - is the big prize. If abortion and homosexual activists can topple Poland, they think others will fall into line.

How soon Europe forgets it was John Paul II, with his support for Poland's Solidarity movement, who achieved the non-violent liberation of his homeland from Soviet occupation. There were other major world-players responsible for this outcome as well, such as US President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; but John Paul II was the original inspiration. The Poles are proud that this liberation of their country - and of Eastern Europe - was achieved with minimal loss of life.

Roman Giertych, Poland's minister of education and deputy prime minister, and Marek Jurek, speaker of the Polish parliament, told the congress delegates that their country would not be intimidated and had no intention of acceding to the demands of the EU to provide abortion, homosexual rights and same-sex marriage, or support attacks on the traditional family.

Polish officials said Poland intended to assume a leadership role to end the demographic winter in Europe caused by a birth-rate below replacement level, and familial breakdown caused by sexual permissiveness. Defying the EU's homosexual activism, Giertych said legislation seeking to protect children in schools from homosexual propaganda would be put forward as planned. It was "something I have to do," he said.

At its closing session, delegates endorsed the congress's Warsaw Declaration - a pro-family credo for the 21st century - whose opening words proclaim: "The natural family, creation of God, is the fundamental human community, based on the life-long marriage between a man and a woman, in which new individuals are conceived, born and raised."


Limits on free speech in Australia

I largely sympathize with the thinking below. In the usual conservative way, however, I think a balance has to be struck. I don't think there should be ABSOLUTE freedom for journalists and whistleblowers to do as they like but I think a "public benefit" defence should always be allowed to them

The past few days have seen the legal system serve up yet another vivid illustration of the depressing state of free speech in Australia. On Friday the former public servant Allan Kessing copped a nine-month suspended jail sentence for his crime of leaking reports to a newspaper about the chaotic state of security at Sydney Airport.

Yesterday two journalists joined him in the ranks of the criminal class when Chief Judge Michael Rozenes, in Victoria's County Court, ordered convictions be recorded against Melbourne Herald Sun staffers Michael Harvey and Gerard McManus, and fined them $7000 each. They were convicted of contempt of court, but their crime was doing their jobs by telling the public what was really going on, rather than feeding them the spin-doctored version of events the Government had cooked up.

Their story, published in the newspaper in 2004, embarrassed the Government, humiliated the then minister for veterans' affairs, Dana Vale, and provided another reason why the Australian media have formed a Right to Know coalition to lobby for changes to the law. The story was good journalism. It should never have ended up in court. It revealed the Government had opted to accept just five of 65 recommendations on ways to improve benefits for war veterans, thereby saving about $500 million.

What stung was that the journalists got hold of the minister's "speaking notes" which, they wrote, revealed how she would "publicly sugarcoat the Government's offer to veterans and their families". By the time the story was published, a revolt by Government members had killed off the plan. But that didn't stop the Government's pursuit of the leaker.

A public servant, Desmond Patrick Kelly, was accused. During committal proceedings the two journalists were directed to identify their sources for their story. They refused, saying they were acting in accordance with the journalists' code of ethics, which requires journalists to protect the identity of their sources in such circumstances.

More here


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

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

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


26 June, 2007

Real racist bigotry: Dems block Southern white judges

The Committee for Justice (CFJ) commented today on Senate Democrats' recent history of obstructing all white male appeals court nominees from the South, including Leslie Southwick of Mississippi, a Fifth Circuit nominee scheduled for a Judiciary Committee vote this Thursday. "Senate Democrats and their allies on the left have attacked Judge Southwick for being insensitive to 'the rights of African Americans, gays and lesbians,'" explained CFJ executive director Curt Levey. "If this sounds familiar, it's because they level the same charges whenever the President nominates a white male from a southern state to the U.S. Courts of Appeal."

"Seven times President Bush has nominated a southern white male to the appeals courts, and seven times Senate Democrats have tried to block the nomination," said Levey. "Worse yet, each of the seven have been subjected to a campaign of personal destruction. With one exception - Fourth Circuit nominee William Haynes - the attacks focus on charges that the nominee is insensitive to the rights of minorities, women, gays, and/or the disabled. Democrats and their allies cynically play to the stereotype that southerners are racist or otherwise bigoted." Examples are provided below.

Citing the nomination of Leon Holmes of Arkansas, Levey added that "the one time Senate Democrats chose to vilify and obstruct a Bush district court nominee, the victim was - you guessed it - a southern white male, and the charges were the usual ones: racism and sexism."

Levey pointed out that "Senate Democrats and their allies never let the facts get in the way of playing the race card. Just look at Fifth Circuit nominee Charles Pickering. The brother of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers praised Pickering for risking his career in 1967 when he 'dared to defy the Klan.' But that didn't stop this bunch from denouncing Pickering for 'insensitivity and even hostility' towards civil rights."

"Somewhere in the offices of Ralph Neas or Chuck Schumer there's probably a play book for targeting southern white men," Levey said. "After all, the process works the same every time. First, Democratic staffers and groups like People for the American Way comb through hundreds or thousands of cases the nominee has worked on as a judge or lawyer, cherry picking the few that they can distort into charges of bigotry. Then the groups publish a report denouncing the nominee's record. Finally, Senate Democrats cite the 'evidence' in the report as the reason they must oppose the nominee. Leslie Southwick is just the latest victim of this routine."

"Judiciary Committee memos disclosed in 2003 remove any doubt that Senate Democrats and groups on the left work together closely to defeat or delay judicial nominees," Levey noted. "It's one thing for these outside groups to believe that southern white men can't be fair judges, but one would hope that Democratic senators would distance themselves from such extreme views. Instead they've pandered to these groups for years now."

"The Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have a chance to redeem themselves this Thursday when they vote on Southwick," said Levey. "All we're asking is that they vote him out of committee so that the full Senate can decide whether to confirm him. Anything less is obstruction. The Democrats chose not to put any southerners on the Judiciary Committee, but that's all the more reason why they shouldn't thumb their noses at the South by blocking this exceptionally qualified nominee."

Levey concluded by noting that "if Democrats kill this nomination in committee, it will be particularly interesting to see what Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott does, given that Southwick and two of the southerners targeted earlier are from Mississippi. Senator Lott threatened a 'total shutdown' of the Senate after it became clear that committee Democrats were trying to stop Southwick. As whip, he can make the shutdown happen."


Does "Diversity" Turn People Into Turtles?

Post lifted from Discriminations. See the original for links

Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam (of Bowling Alone fame) thinks so.

"Diversity seems to trigger not in-group/out-group division, but anomie or social isolation," Putnam writes in the June issue of the journal Scandinavian Political Studies. "In colloquial language, people living in ethnically diverse settings appear to `hunker down' - that is, to pull in like a turtle."

Putnam has been engaged in his large study of diversity for quite a while, and we have encountered findings from it before, here and here. Putnam seems quite taken with his turtle metaphor (or maybe I'm just taken with quoting him using it). In the first "here" linked above, I quoted him as follows describing his findings:

The core message of the research was that, "in the presence of diversity, we hunker down", he said. "We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it's not just that we don't trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don't trust people who do look like us."

Prof Putnam found trust was lowest in Los Angeles, "the most diverse human habitation in human history", but his findings also held for rural South Dakota, where "diversity means inviting Swedes to a Norwegians' picnic."

Actually, turning people into turtles may be among the mildest effects of diversity. The New York Times Magazine linked first above, for example, also reports other, non-reptilian but even more unwelcome effects.

Studies by Wendy Berry Mendes, a social psychologist at Harvard, and her colleagues find that when research subjects play a cooperative game with someone of another race, they can show physiological signs of distress - reduced cardiac efficiency and arterial constriction, for example. On a daily basis, this alarmed reaction might make people pull inward. Putnam himself speculates that, with kaleidoscopic changes going on around them, people in diverse communities might experience a kind of system overload, shutting down "in the presence of confusing or multiple messages from the environment."

It's thus no surprise, and maybe even a good thing, that campuses that fetishize "diversity" are often the ones sporting the most racially segregated dorms, dining room tables, lounges, etc.

In my first discussion of Putnam's research, linked above, I commented:

If we're going to set aside the formerly fundamental principle barring discrimination against any person based on race in order to bask in the benefits provided by "diversity," shouldn't we at least begin seeing, sooner or later, some research demonstrating just what those benefits are?

That now seems too mild. Let me rephrase: shouldn't we at least begin seeing some research demonstrating that "diversity" doesn't turn people into turtles or sick, arterially constricted, stressed out humans?

The Leftist love of regulation leads naturally to regulation of religion and speech

When I was in college ages ago the truth in advertising and lending and such measures were high on the agenda of modern liberals. Oddly, they were the same people, usually, who declared themselves to be loyal champions of free speech, defenders of an absolutist stance on the First Amendment to the US Constitution. But not when it came to commercial speech. You know those people in commerce-all chronic cheats and liars, of course. (The modern liberal's hatred of commerce trumps their most cherished ideals!)

One time when this campaign against commercial speech was in progress, I walked by a church that featured a huge sign saying "Jesus Saves." My mind immediately started to consider, well why not truth in religion? Why only commerce? Indeed, isn't religion far more important to most people than mere business? If modern liberals insist that the task of good government is to be our nanny, to engage in paternalistic-what is now often dubbed "precautionary"-public policies, why don't they all advocate strong federal regulation of religious speech?

After all, nearly everyone believes that those who peddle religious ideas they do not share are charlatans, liars and cheats. And what they peddle, of course, is far more harmful than anything put into an advertisement, something most sensible people realize is filled with hype, gimmickry and not statements of purported truths. All those religious charlatans-I leave it to the reader to pick his or her own list-are misleading thousands, millions of human beings about what is by many people regarded of the utmost importance, namely, how to secure their everlasting salvation in the afterlife. If one is mislead about this, one won't just purchase hazardous goods or services but lose forever one's chance to attain the greatest prize of all! Surely this, more than anything else, requires some solid, conscientious federal, state, county, and similar government intervention.

But no. Entirely inconsistently, modern liberals-and, indeed, many folks of all ideological positions-insist that when it comes to this absolutely vital aspects of their lives-actually, their everlasting existence, here on earth and thereafter-people may be trusted to their own resources. They and their family and friends and fellow parishioners and such are entrusted fully with the job of taking care of all this, without introducing the state. Indeed, this last is deemed by most modern liberals-and, again, by many others-as completely anathema to what government's role is in human community life. Other than outright attacks upon people, deliberately devious fraud and the like, government must stay away. It would be totally perverse to have government act in a precautionary fashion, as it is urged to do when it comes to innumerable other aspects of our lives (most notably, these days, how we related to the environment).

Yet this is totally absurd. And there is also the absurdity, when one considers the modern liberals case of government regulation and licensing and inspection and quality control-the stuff done, at the federal level, by OSHA and dozens and dozens of other agencies-that the profession of journalism ought to be exempt from precautionary public intervention. Just watch and read the news and commentaries-they are filled with malpractice! Journalists routinely rush into print with items they have only the faintest ideas about, for example, in various branches of the sciences.

They report on matters of no importance at all and treat various people as if they deserved the attention of their customers, viewers and readers. Yet, modern liberals and other champions of government's role as our protector against the possibility of malfeasance do not advocate the establishment of departments of journalism at the various levels of government.

I must be careful. Someone I knew once quite well, the Louisiana attorney and politician Louis "Woody" Jenkins tried to demonstrate the absurdity of government regulation to members of the state government by proposing, of all things, the regulation of water diviners. Lo and behold, too many of them didn't get the point and nearly enacted the measure into law!


Crippled by paradigm paralysis

The media and governments get the terror threat. Too bad our academics and think tanks don't, writes Greg Sheridan from Australia

THE arrest by Indonesian authorities of Jemaah Islamiah terrorists Zarkasih and Abu Dujana is of the greatest importance for Australia. It is a stunning achievement by the Indonesian police. If anyone ever doubted the benefit to us of having a competent, moderate government in Jakarta led by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, they should doubt it no longer.

Al-Qa'ida is enjoying success in the Middle East but it is suffering real setbacks in Southeast Asia, substantially because of the Indonesian Government, which has arrested 200 terrorists and put many of them through open, credible trials.

Zarkasih was the emir of JI, its overall leader and in particular its spiritual leader, a position formerly held by Abu Bakar Bashir. Dujana was the head of military operations.

These arrests grew out of intelligence gleaned in arrests in March, which also yielded a huge cache of explosives. Now Zarkasih and Dujana will yield their own intelligence treasures. JI is still a formidable threat. It still has a core membership of 1000, with many more sympathisers. Its mainstream group has reportedly decided to abandon attacks on Westerners for the moment and concentrate on recruitment, indoctrination, exacerbating ethnic and religious conflict within Indonesia and preparing for future military conflict.

Its radical splinter, led by Noordin Top, is believed still to support anti-Western bombings. No one knows for sure where Top is, but he is believed to be somewhere in Java, while another key JI figure, Dulmartin, is likely to be still hiding in the southern Philippines. The Indonesian President, his Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, former president Gus Dur and leaders of mainstream Muslim organisations have all made statements welcoming the arrests.

This is central to Indonesia's success in the war on terror. The civil society is aligned against Islamist terrorism and is therefore able to deny it the social space it paradoxically finds in the failing dictatorships of the Middle East.

Indonesia's success in the war on terror is thus a direct security dividend from its democratisation nearly a decade ago.

However, these arrests in one perverse way indicate a specific failure by Australia. The Australian media's response to them was dominated by three international researchers: Sidney Jones of the International Crisis Group, Rohan Gunaratna, an academic based in Singapore, and US academic Zachary Abuza.

Doesn't it strike you as bizarre that there is not a single Australian researcher on Southeast Asian terrorism of international repute? This represents a profoundly important institutional failure by two groups: the first, our universities; the second, our strategic class. Six years after 9/11 and five years after the Bali bombings, there is hardly a single Australian academic working full time on Southeast Asian terrorism. Universities are funded to the tune of billions of dollars, but much of what they have come up with in terrorism research is rubbish. Much of it is postmodern theoretical nonsense about how the discourse of terrorism "demonises the other". Little of it involves traipsing around the jungles of Java or Mindanao, or the region's prisons, interviewing terrorists.

Similarly, we have two main international relations think tanks, the government-funded Australian Strategic Policy Institute, and the privately funded Lowy Institute. Both do good work and we are a better country for having them. But neither has had a single person devoted full time to studying Southeast Asian Islamist terrorism.

Both the universities and the think tanks have produced some good work on terrorism. This has been done mainly by area experts, whether Indonesianists or scholars focusing on the Middle East or whatever, analysing terrorists as part of the societies they study. This is valuable. But surely Southeast Asian Islamist extremism deserves at least a few bodies actually working on it full time. If I were founding a think tank today I'd hire the best Southeast Asianists around and tell them to work 28 hours a day on this subject and dominate the Australian debate. The media is thirsty for such expertise. So is the public. So for that matter is the Government (although of course our intelligence agencies devote vast resources to the subject).

The universities have failed in part because of their postmodern and left-liberal bias, which says that the West must be the author of all sins, and therefore they don't study terrorists in their own terms. The strategic community has failed because of its continued paradigm paralysis, its chronic inability to regard terrorism as a serious strategic issue. The platonic ideal of this outlook is represented by the Australian National University's Hugh White, who declared in the June 6 issue of The Australian Literary Review that terrorism is not a threat to the international system.

He also declared, mystifyingly, that I am "confident that traditional state to state conflict is a thing of the past". As I have never uttered or written anything remotely alleging that, and it is certainly not a view I hold, this is a bit strange. I do on the other hand believe that terrorism can threaten the international system, as can state to state conflict. Where old-fashioned strategic analysts such as White are so anachronistic is in their failure to see the complexity of the interaction of these two dynamics.

Paul O'Sullivan, the head of ASIO, pointed out in a speech yesterday that al-Qa'ida does precisely want to revolutionise the international system. Apart from the question of al-Qa'ida obtaining weapons of mass destruction, O'Sullivan pointed out: "The argument that the threat from terrorism is exaggerated also ignores the dangers terrorist networks pose to vulnerable or failing states. Transnational Islamic terrorists don't require WMD to challenge the authority and legitimacy of such states, exploit their weak spots or quietly rebuild capacity under the radar."

Governments in Jakarta and Canberra and, paradoxically, the media, have to deal with the world as it is, and therefore accord terrorism the attention it deserves. Universities and think tanks can take comfort in the chummy common room embrace of dead paradigms. But, in doing so, they offer sub-optimal service to their nation.



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

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

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


25 June, 2007

Hollywood in bed with CAIR

Arlene Peck says below that the movie about the murder of Daniel Pearl by Islamists has been prostituted into representing Muslims as the opposite of what they are

Move over, Bill O'Riley! CAIR has so perfected the art of spin that I don't think even you would catch the con job until it was over. At least, I'd bet that the innocents at Paramount didn't have a clue that the screening they arranged for the movie, "A Mighty Heart," was a ruse to make CAIR, the terror supporting organization, look good.

Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director of CAIR- Greater Los Angeles Area,joined forces with Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, a nondescript nobody whom no one has ever heard of. Lacking credibility, his claim to fame, apparently, that he is head of a dot.com "synagogue" and a group called, "Jews on First.com" He shared the panal with another group called "Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace" (don'tcha just love it?) Oh yes, another of the panelists was DeDe Gardner, co-producer with Brad Pitt/Plan B Entertainment. She was on the stage thinking she would be discussing the movie in an effort to publicize the movie. This was held in the Sherry Lansing screening room at the studio. I thought it kind of a clever that the venue was held at the site named for a Jewish girl who made good.

It was an evening that CAIR cleverly orchestrated. It was simply a forum for presenting the audience with a means to discuss how to"Build Unity and Understanding in Today's World." Folks, for this terrorist supporting organization to carry that off.imagine the Nazi Party having a car wash benefit for a group of yeshiva boys. I was waiting for them to raffle off a puppy.

The movie, about Daniel Pearl, was made to show the sick, barbaric mentality of his captors and the primitive and savage lifestyle in that part of the world. Yet, Paramount gave CAIR was given a platform from which to proclaim that the criminals out there were giving Muslims a bad name. Hussam, referring to CAIR, claimed that Muslims suffer from 'misconceptions. "There is wide spread belief that Muslims are sympathetic to terrorism. And of course, CAIR cares about all religions." I think that he referred to what is happening now as the "demonization of the Muslim religion." Finally, he smiled and said.."CAIR cares about not only Daniel Pearl but all human beings. CAIR is speaking against evil through their own people."

Of course, had we been allowed to ask questions during this so-called "dialogue," I would have said that if that were the case, how come the Koran says, "if you're not one of them.. then they must be destroyed!"

Of course, they carefully picked a self-hating "rabbi," who never said where his congregation was located, except in the universe of the dot.coms. He spoke movingly about how the Jews should be so grateful because the Muslims gave them refuge in Turkey in years past. And, how no Jewish group would be "brave" enough to bring together a group such as the one gathered. and that the "problem in the Jewish community is because they suffer from Islamic phobia and he commended CAIR for the courage that they showed. as he couldn't imagine a Jewish organization having the "courage" to bring a dialogue such as the wonderful evening we were experiencing..gawd!

While the now-benevolent group, CAIR was presented by the good people at Paramount as a loving organization in all of their 33 chapters, I couldn't help but wonder what Daniel's wife and parents would think of that evening? I don't blame Paramount because they are so clueless. Here, in the land of Hollywood, they don't even know what FOX news is, much less CAIR or its intentions. However, it might have been prudent for Paramount to do a little homework before giving this group credibility by using their studios to promote their propaganda. In the movie, the terrorists made the comment that it was "the Jews" who were responsible for 9/11 and that 4,000 stayed home from work that day at the Twin Towers. I thought it wouldn't have hurt had this misconception been corrected. In fact, the ultimate spin was the end of the movie when they didn't show the be-heading. These peaceful people needed a reminder!

One of the primary comments, repeated often, was that there was no reason to be ashamed of being Muslim. Oh really? It was also interesting that this so-called panel was, in reality, a sounding board to promote the Islamic culture. Although the evening had been billed as a "dialogue" about the movie, only two hand-picked bland "questions" were asked. Then, suddenly, an announcement was made that there was,unfortunately, no more time for questions."

Apparently, there was no time for questions at all. Especially the one that I had written asking, "If the Muslim religion is such a peaceful one and the `criminals' don't represent the masses, why we aren't seeing the `million man' marches protesting the actions of the murders and dysfunctional behavior by the 1.6 billion people they represent?" In fact, forget the million man marches... how about a twenty-five man march? (Women, in many of those countries aren't even allowed on the streets. Look at the pictures next time and see how many pictures of women you see in the crowd.)

The moral of the story: Maybe the Israeli government ought to hire CAIR to handle their public relations. As they sure seem to be doing a better job at it. Maybe they could get a big Hollywood studio to help them in their endeavers. Maybe they'll even raffle off a trip to The Holy Land? Or at least have everyone leave with a hug!

Medieval play threatened by 21st century curse - of political correctness

Since the 14th century, actors and actresses have taken to the streets of York to depict the great moments in Biblical history from the Creation to the last judgment of Christ. But the medieval Mystery Plays are threatened by a 21st century curse - of political correctness. The city council is planning a "multicultural reinterpretation" of the plays as part of a bid for up to 120,000 pounds of Heritage Lottery Fund cash.

Precisely how the age-old stories featuring Adam and Eve and Jesus Christ and his apostles will be "revitalised" for a multi-cultural society has yet to be revealed. However, it has been admitted that refugees and actors from foreign countries could be asked to participate. Traditionalists are outraged that the plays, which are usually performed from wagons in the street, could be re-written for PC reasons. The council is hoping to win lottery funding for the next three performances in 2008, 2010 and 2012.

A report supporting the bid for lottery cash states: "The bid will encompass a production by 16 to 25-year-olds in 2008, a wide-ranging educational programme with schools in 2010, and a commission of a multi-cultural reinterpretation of the Mystery Plays for 2012."

Liberal Democrat councillor Christian Vassie, the council's leisure and culture "executive member", said it was yet to be decided how the plays could be changed to be "multi-cultural". However, he admitted that it was necessary to be "inclusive" to win lottery funding for the next three plays, which will cost up to 200,000 pounds to stage.

The pageant was first recorded in York in 1376. It was both an act of worship and community theatre for the entertainment of the public. But religious upheaval during the 16th Century led to the plays being stopped in 1569. They were revived in 1951 and have remained a popular crowd-puller ever since. Performances in modern times have been held in the streets of York, the city's theatre and inside York Minster. Christopher Timothy, Simon Ward and Robson Green are amongst the accomplished actors who have played the role of Christ in recent years and Dame Judi Dench, who went to school in York, also performed in the Mystery Plays.


Catholic School in Spain Backtracks, Parents No Longer Forced to Accept Pro-Homosexual Course

Action is the result of human rights organization ranking of school as violator of right to conscientious objection

Last week HazteOir.org (HO), a Madrid-based rights protection organization, began ranking schools in Spain based on their policy on conscientious objection by parents towards a national pro-homosexual course, Catholic News Agency Reports. Since then certain schools are beginning to rethink their position regarding the course and those who object to it.

The controversial Educacion para la Ciudadana (EcP) (Education for Citizenship) Course, was introduced last January by the socialist government under Prime Minister Zapatero. Intended to replace ethics classes, the compulsory course teaches that abortion, homosexuality and various other sexual behaviors are acceptable above parental objection. It also denies objective truth, forming a child's moral sense from an atheistic and materialistic perspective (see here).

Despite these facts, the course is being taught in educational centers throughout all of Catholic Spain, including schools run by religious congregations, says CNA. Furthermore, these institutions are violating the right to conscientious objection that is constitutionally sanctioned in Spain.

Since HO began ranking schools, however, certain schools are seriously rethinking their position. The most notable case is Our Lady of the Pillar School in Madrid, one of the centers run by the Marianist organization in Spain. The school corrected its stance on the right of conscientious objection by parents the very day that HO publicized the school's ranking. Now it is one of 57 Spanish schools that do "not bind objectors".

Created last week by HazteOir.org, the website ranks schools according to their attitude towards the new course. Schools that promote or at least consider objections against the EcP are marked green. Schools that do not bind objectors are marked yellow while those that violate the right of conscientious objection are marked red.

Since the creation of the website, it has ranked dozens of institutions throughout all of Spain, including Madrid, Toledo, Majadahonda, Valdemoro and Huelva. Currently, nine expressly forbid parents to withdraw their children from the course. The website encourages people to contact HazteOir.org and participate in ranking their own school.



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

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

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


24 June, 2007

British girl takes school to High Court over 'purity ring' ban

A TEENAGE schoolgirl will appeal to the High Court today to overturn a ban on her wearing a "purity ring" at school to symbolise her decision to abstain from sex before marriage. Lydia Playfoot, 16, from West Sussex, says the silver ring is an expression of her faith and should be exempt from the school's rules on wearing jewellery. "It is really important to me because in the Bible it says we should do this," she told BBC radio. "Muslims are allowed to wear headscarves and other faiths can wear bangles and other types of jewellery. "It feels like Christians are being discriminated against."

Ms Playfoot's lawyers will argue that her right to express religious belief is upheld by the Human Rights Act. There have been a series of rows in schools in recent years over the right of pupils to wear religious symbols or clothing, such as crucifixes and veils. Last year, the Law Lords rejected Shabina Begum's appeal for permission to wear a Muslim gown at her school in Luton. That case echoed a debate in France over the banning of Muslim headscarves in state schools.

Ms Playfoot's parents help run the British arm of the American campaign group the Silver Ring Thing, which promotes abstinence among young people. Members wear a ring on the third finger of the left hand. It is inscribed with "Thess. 4:3-4", a reference to a Biblical passage from Thessalonians which reads: "God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of all sexual sin."

Lydia's father, Phil Playfoot, said his daughter's case was part of a wider cultural trend towards Christians being "silenced". "What I would describe as a secular fundamentalism is coming to the fore, which really wants to silence certain beliefs, and Christian views in particular," he said.

Leon Nettley, head teacher of Millais School in Horsham, denies discrimination, saying the ring contravenes the school's rules on wearing jewellery. "The school is not convinced pupils' rights have been interfered with by the application of the uniform policy," he told the Brighton-based Argus newspaper. "The school has a clearly published uniform policy and sets high standards."


Britain is now Absurdistan

Back in Britain for the past week I have had a welcome chance to take in once again the simple defining pleasures of this great country. The sun dappling Oxford's mellow stones on an early summer evening. A drenching downpour on the lumpy hills of Middle England. The sheer, consuming energy of modern London. And, of course, the wisdom of Andrew Marr.

Like millions of my fellow countrymen I found myself watching the final instalment this week on the BBC of A History of Andrew Marr by Modern Britain. I think I got that the right way around but I didn't pay a lot of attention to what the script said because the pictures were all about him.

There he was, in almost every frame, like some Zelig figure, replaying a crucial moment from our country's past. Up there, admiring the soaring architecture of the Scottish parliament; over yonder, traipsing through the fields near where the government scientist David Kelly took his own life; long shots of him poised, Winston Churchill-like, pondering the origins of his people's genius.

More striking for me, even than the immanent narcissism of the whole thing, was Marr's final, dewy-eyed observation to end the series. As I said, I can't now remember the actual words, but I think it was something to the effect that, for all our tribulations, it was still the greatest of privileges to be able to say you were born in Britain.

Well I don't disagree with that, but of course Marr's conclusion was a classic BBC man's paean to his country. It capped a lengthy peroration on the great success of multiculturalism. How we could still be proud of ourselves not because of some fuddy-duddy ideas about tradition or individual freedom, but because we're now a lovely big melting pot of a country.

I defer to the greater knowledge of modern Britain evidently garnered by standing in empty fields with camera crews, but I wonder if this is really the right conclusion. I love Britain as much as anyone, and I certainly believe it is our openness that makes it such an attractive place. But I can't share the optimism about our multiculture, and much more importantly, my own impression is not of the triumph of the British spirit but of its steady subversion by an ever-growing dependency culture.

In its funny little way the news this week that the Advertising Standards Authority had banned reruns of the 1950s egg advertisements that featured Tony Hancock was more compelling evidence on the state of modern Britain than even Marr's obiter dicta. "Go to Work on an Egg" was unacceptable, we were told, because it encouraged an unhealthy lifestyle. I had no idea that we had a government body that still operated on Stalinist principles but there it is. How long will it be before it is not just the free speech of advertising that is curtailed but the evil practice it promotes, and we ban egg consumption along with smoking? Goodbye England. Welcome to Absurdistan.

At root of this nonsense is, of course, the sheer scale of government. The reason you can't be allowed to eat an egg is that, because of the lack of real choice in healthcare provision, you're no longer responsible for the financial consequences of your own actions. If you get heart disease from too much cholesterol, the State, collectively known as the NHS, will have to treat you; and that costs the State more and more money so the State will have to stop you from doing it in the first place.

This is the self-perpetuating logic behind the unstoppable momentum of the expanding State. The bigger it grows, the more it intrudes into our lives, and the more it intrudes into our lives, the more dependent we become on it. Education is the same. Our great universities are struggling to compete in a global market because they are hamstrung by the State. They are dependent on central government for their funding; but that funding is insufficient to meet the needs of global competition. But because they need government money for what they do, they cannot break free.

Leviathan is now so large that, outside London, half the population is dependent - either through public sector jobs or benefits - on taxes. Its power is so large that it has bent us all into submission. It has produced a culture in which no one needs to take responsibility for anything because someone else is always there to back us up.

That in the end, was what was behind another sorry spectacle of Britain's decline this week - the Fulton inquiry into the capture of the Royal Marines and sailors in March by Iranians. It was of course, to outward appearances, magnificently Gilbertian - the first Sea Lord doing the honorable thing and shuffling off the blame on to anyone but himself. But its message was very modern. Mistakes were made but no one made them.

It's also this loss of any sense of personal responsibility and accountability that has created the conditions that have allowed Britain steadily to surrender meekly to the encroaching ambitions of European elites for the past 30 years.

This weekend, at the EU meeting, we will be treated to yet another of those fantastic pieces of kabuki in which we fulminate loudly about preserving our independence even as we humbly accept the loss of another chunk of our sovereignty. It's always the same: the rest of Europe comes up with some great new plan to give itself bold new power; the British government says it will never allow it to happen, girding itself with all the paraphernalia of red lines and threatened vetoes. Then, every time, clutching some fig leaf "concession", our prime minister comes back claiming a victory for British self-rule, while in Brussels they celebrate another step towards their rule.

The worst thing is, nobody in Britain really seems to care. We'll demand a referendum, of course, but will be rudely told it's none of our business; how dare we seek to shape the decisions of our rulers? And as the dutiful serfs we are, we will, in the end, simply apologise and humbly submit.


A summary of some of the lies that Australia's Leftist historians have told in order to condemn British settlement in Australia

From the inimitable Keith Windschuttle. I met Keith once many years ago -- when he still had hair

There are two central claims made by historians of Aboriginal Australia: first, the actions by the colonists amounted to genocide; second, the actions by the Aborigines were guerilla tactics that amounted to frontier warfare.

Lyndall Ryan claims that in Tasmania the Aborigines were subject to "a conscious policy of genocide". Rhys Jones in The Last Tasmanian labels it "a holocaust of European savagery". Ryan says the so-called "Black War" of Tasmania began in the winter of 1824 with the Big River tribe launching patriotic attacks on the invaders. However, the assaults on whites that winter were made by a small gang of detribalized blacks led by a man named Musquito, who was not defending his tribal lands. He was an Aborigine originally from Sydney who had worked in Hobart for ten years before becoming a bushranger. He had no Tasmanian tribal lands to defend. He was just as much a foreigner in Tasmania as the indigenous Hawaiians, Tahitians and Maoris who worked there as stockmen, sealers and whalers at the same time.

Musquito's successor as leader of the gang was Black Tom, a young man who, again, was not a tribal Aborigine. He had Tasmanian Aboriginal parents, but had been reared since infancy in the white middle class household of Thomas Birch, a Hobart merchant. Until his capture in 1827, he was Tasmania 's leading bushranger but, as with Musquito, his actions cannot be interpreted as patriotic defence of tribal Aboriginal territory.

Ryan's account of the alleged abduction of Aboriginal children by settlers is replete with so much misinformation it is impossible to excuse it as error. In 1810, she claims, Lieutenant-Governor David Collins warned settlers against kidnapping Aboriginal children. However, there is no evidence Collins ever gave such a warning. None of Collins' orders in 1810, or any other reference cited by Ryan about the abduction of children, support her claim. Ryan footnotes the newspaper, the Derwent Star of 29 January 1810, as one of the sources she consulted. However, according to the Mitchell Library, that edition of the newspaper is not held by any library in the world. It has been missing since the nineteenth century. Ryan claims that in 1819, Lieutenant-Governor William Sorell issued an order about the abducted children. She says: "Sorell ordered that all Aboriginal children living with settlers must be sent to the charge of the chaplain, Robert Knopwood, in Hobart and placed in the Orphan School." However, the proclamation Ryan cites does not say that. It merely ordered magistrates and constables to count the number of native children living with settlers. Moreover, there was no Orphan School in Hobart in 1819 or at any time during Sorell's administration. The first such institution in the colony, the King's Orphan School, was not opened until 1828 and Reverend Knopwood was never involved in running it.

Henry Reynolds claims Lieutenant-Governor Arthur recognized from his experience in the Spanish War against Napoleon that the Aborigines were using the tactic of guerilla warfare, in which small bands attacked the troops of their enemy. However, during his military career Arthur never served in Spain. If you read the full text of the statement Reynolds cites, you find Arthur was talking not about troops coming under attack by guerillas but of Aborigines robbing and assaulting unarmed shepherds on remote outstations. Reynolds edited out that part of the statement that disagreed with his thesis.

Reynolds claims that Arthur inaugurated the infamous "Black Line" in 1830 because "he feared `a general decline in the prosperity' and the `eventual extirpation of the colony'". Reynolds presents that last phrase as a verbatim quotation from Arthur. However, Arthur never said this. Reynolds actually changed the words of one of the most important documents in Tasmanian history but no university historian picked up what he had done. Historians commonly describe the "Black Line" as an attempt to capture or exterminate all the Aborigines. However, its true purpose was to remove from the settled districts only two of the nine tribes on the island to uninhabited country from where they could no longer assault white households. The lieutenant-governor specifically ordered that five of the other seven tribes be left alone.

Lyndall Ryan cites the Hobart Town Courier as a source for several stories about atrocities against Aborigines in 1826. However, that newspaper did not begin publication until October 1827 and the other two newspapers of the day made no mention of these alleged killings.

Ryan claims that frontier warfare in Tasmania's northern districts in 1827 included: a massacre of Port Dalrymple Aborigines by a vigilante group of stockmen at Norfolk Plains; the killing of a kangaroo hunter in reprisal for him shooting Aboriginal men; the burning of a settler's house because his stockmen had seized Aboriginal women; the spearing of three other stockmen and clubbing of one to death at Western Lagoon. But if you check her footnotes in the archives you find that not one of the five sources she cites mentions any of these events.

Between 1828 and 1830, according to Ryan, "roving parties" of police constables and convicts killed 60 Aborigines. Not one of the three references she cites mentions any Aborigines being killed, let alone 60. The governor at the time and most subsequent authors, including Henry Reynolds, regarded the roving parties as completely ineffectual.

Lloyd Robson claims the settler James Hobbs in 1815 witnessed Aborigines killing 300 sheep at Oyster Bay and the next day the 48th Regiment killed 22 Aborigines in retribution. However, it would have been difficult for Hobbs to have witnessed this in 1815 because at the time he was living in India. Moreover, the first sheep did not arrive at Oyster Bay until 1821 and it would have been very hard for the 48 th Regiment to have killed any Aborigines in Tasmania in 1815 because at the time they were on garrison duty in County Cork, Ireland.

The whole case is not just a fabrication, it is a romantic fantasy derived from academic admiration of the anti-colonial struggles in South-East Asia in the 1960s, when its authors were young and when they absorbed the left-wing political spirit of the day. The truth is that in Tasmania more than a century before, there was nothing on the Aborigines' side that resembled frontier warfare, patriotic struggle or systematic resistance of any kind.

The so-called "Black War" turns out to have been a minor crime wave by two Europeanised black bushrangers, followed by an outbreak of robbery, assault and murder by tribal Aborigines. All the evidence at the time, on both the white and black sides of the frontier, was that their principal objective was to acquire flour, sugar, tea and bedding, objects that to them were European luxury goods. We have statements to that effect from the Aborigines themselves.

Unlike Lyndall Ryan, Reynolds does not himself support the idea that the colonial authorities had a conscious policy of genocide against the Aborigines. Instead, Reynolds's thesis is that it was the settlers who wanted to exterminate them. He claims that throughout the 1820s, the free settlers spoke about and advocated extirpation or extermination. However, even on the evidence he provides himself, only a handful of settlers ever advocated anything like this.

In 1830, a government inquiry into Aboriginal affairs conducted a questionnaire survey of the leading settlers to determine their attitudes. It was possibly the first questionnaire survey ever conducted in Australia. Reynolds knows this survey existed because he has quoted selections from the settlers' answers in at least two of his books. However, he has never mentioned the survey's existence in anything he has written. Why not? Well, obviously, if his readers knew there had been a survey they would want to know the results, that is, all the results not just a handful of selected quotations. I examine the full results in my book. They show that in 1830, at the height of Aboriginal violence, very few of the settlers were calling for the extermination of the Aborigines. Some wanted to pursue a policy of conciliation towards the Aborigines. Othes were against violence but wanted to remove the Aborigines to a secure location, such as a peninsula or island. Only two of them seriously advocated exterminating the Aborigines. But theirs were the only words that Reynolds quoted.

The full historic record, not the selective version provided by Reynolds, shows the prospect of extermination divided the settlers deeply, was always rejected by government and was never acted upon.

In the entire period from 1803 when the colonists first arrived in Tasmania, to 1834 when all but one family of Aborigines had been removed to Flinders Island, my calculation is that the British were responsible for killing only 120 of the original inhabitants, mostly in self defence or in hot pursuit of Aborigines who had just assaulted white households. In these incidents, the Aborigines killed 187 colonists. In all of Europe's colonial encounters with the New Worlds of the Americas and the Pacific, the colony of Van Diemen's Land was probably the site where the least indigenous blood of all was deliberately shed.

Why, then, have the historians of Tasmania told this story about genocide, frontier warfare and widespread bloodshed. I suggest several of the reasons in my book: to make Australian history, which would otherwise be dull and uneventful, seem more dramatic than it really was; to assume the moral high ground and flatter their own vanity as defenders of the Aborigines; in some cases to pursue a traditional Marxist agenda or to indulge in interest group politics of gender, race and class. But the greatest influence on them has been not so much a commitment to any specific political program but the notion that emerged in the 1960s that history itself is `inescapably political'. This is a phrase Reynolds used in 1981 in the introduction to his book The Other Side of the Frontier. He also wrote in a journal article: "history should not only be relevant but politically utilitarian, . it should aim to right old injustices, to discriminate in favour of the oppressed, to actively rally to the cause of liberation."

I completely disagree. That position inevitably corrupts history. Without it in Aboriginal history, there might have been less licence taken with historical evidence and a greater sense of the historian's responsibility to respect the truth. The argument that all history is politicised, that it is impossible for the historian to shed his political interests and prejudices, has become the most corrupting influence of all. It has turned the traditional role of the historian, to stand outside his contemporary society in order to seek the truth about the past, on its head. It has allowed historians to write from an overtly partisan position. It has led them to make things up and to justify this to themselves on the grounds that it is all for a good cause. No cause is ever served by falsehood because eventually someone will come along and expose you. Truth always comes out in the end, and when it does it discredits those causes that were built on lies.

More here


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

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

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


23 June, 2007

Islam is the problem

The irrational response to Salman Rushdie's knighthood is sadly typical, says one Muslim

GROWING up in Vancouver, I attended an Islamic school every Saturday. There, I learned that Jews can't be trusted because they worship "moolah, not Allah", meaning money, not God. According to my teacher, every last Jew is consumed with business. But looking around my neighbourhood, I noticed that most of the new business signs featured Asian languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Punjabi and plenty of Urdu. Not Hebrew, Urdu, which is spoken throughout Pakistan. That reality check made me ask: What if my religious school isn't educating me? What if it's indoctrinating me?

I'm reminded of this question thanks to the news that Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses and 10 other works of fiction, will be knighted by the Queen. On Monday, Pakistan's religious affairs minister said that because Rushdie had blasphemed Islam with provocative literature, it was understandable that angry Muslims would commit suicide bombings over his knighthood. Members of parliament, as well as the Pakistani Government, amplified the condemnation of Britain, feeding cries of offence to Muslim sensibilities from Europe to Asia. As a Muslim, you better believe I'm offended - by these absurd reactions.

I'm offended that it is not the first time honours from the West have met with vitriol and violence. In 1979, Pakistani physicist Abdus Salam became the first Muslim to win the Nobel Prize in science. He began his acceptance speech with a verse from the Koran. Salam's country ought to have celebrated him. Instead, rioters tried to prevent him from re-entering the country. Parliament even declared him a non-Muslim because he belonged to a religious minority. His name continues to be controversial, invoked by state authorities in hushed tones.

I'm offended that every year, there are more women killed in Pakistan for allegedly violating their family's honour than there are detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Muslims have rightly denounced the mistreatment of Gitmo prisoners. But where's our outrage over the murder of many more Muslims at the hands of our own?

I'm offended that in April, mullahs at an extreme mosque in Pakistan issued a fatwa against hugging. The country's female tourism minister had embraced - or, depending on the account you follow, accepted a congratulatory pat from - her skydiving instructor after she successfully jumped in a French fundraiser for the victims of the 2005 Pakistan earthquake. Clerics announced her act of touching another man to be "a great sin" and demanded she be fired.

I'm offended by their fatwa proclaiming that women should stay at home and remain covered at all times. I'm offended that they've bullied music store owners and video vendors into closing up shop. I'm offended that the Government tiptoes around their craziness because these clerics threaten suicide attacks if confronted. I'm offended that on Sunday, at least 35 Muslims in Kabul were blown to bits by other Muslims and on Tuesday, 80 more in Baghdad by Islamic "insurgents", with no official statement from Pakistan to deplore these assaults on fellow believers. I'm offended that amid the internecine carnage, a professed atheist named Salman Rushdie tops the to-do list.

Above all, I'm offended that so many other Muslims are not offended enough to demonstrate widely against God's self-appointed ambassadors. We complain to the world that Islam is being exploited by fundamentalists, yet when reckoning with the opportunity to resist their clamour en masse, we fall curiously silent. In a battle between flaming fundamentalists and mute moderates, who do you think is going to win?

I'm not saying that standing up to intimidation is easy. This past spring, the Muslim world made it that much more difficult. A 56-member council of Islamic countries pushed the UN Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution against the "defamation of religion". Pakistan led the charge. Focused on Islam rather than on faith in general, the resolution allows repressive regimes to squelch freedom of conscience further - and to do so in the guise of international law.

On occasion, though, the people of Pakistan show that they don't have to be muzzled by clerics and politicians. Last year, civil society groups vocally challenged a set of anti-female laws, three decades old and supposedly based on the Koran. Their religiously respectful approach prompted even mullahs to hint that these laws are man-made, not God-given. This month, too, Pakistanis forced their Government to lift restrictions on the press. No wonder my own book, translated into Urdu and posted on my website, is being downloaded in droves. Religious authorities won't let it be sold in the markets. But they can't stop Pakistanis - or other Muslims - from satiating a genuine hunger for ideas.

In that spirit, it's high time to ban hypocrisy under the banner of Islam. Rushdie is not the problem. Muslims are. After all, the very first bounty on Rushdie's head was worth $US2 million. It rose to $US 2.5 million. Then came higher reward numbers. The chief benefactor, Iran's government, claimed that the money had been profitably invested. Looks like Jews are not the only people handy at business.


Hope for Old Europe?

At last, some signs of resistance to Islamist radicals

In September of last year, Robert Redeker, a French philosopher, went into hiding after getting death threats for an op-ed piece he wrote on Islam. In his short piece for the conservative daily Le Figaro, Redeker argued that while Jesus was a "master of love," Mohammed was "a master of hate." Islam, he noted, was the only major religion for which war was integral to its theology.

Outside of a handful of intellectuals, like Andre Glucksmann, and a stray politician or two, Redeker had no defenders. When famed Al Jazeera personality Sheik Youseff al-Quaradawi, scourge of the Jews and crusaders, took to the airwaves to denounce the blasphemer, Le Monde echoed his condemnations. Yet just ten months later, Nicolas Sarkozy has been elected French president on a platform of affirming France's Enlightenment heritage.

Sarkozy's road to the Elysee Palace was paved not only by the mini-Intifada in the Paris banlieues, but also by a memorable public exchange about Islam. An intellectually confident Sarkozy, then the interior minister, debated suave, articulate Tariq Ramadan, the grandson and heir of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. With 6 million viewers watching, Sarkozy asked Ramadan, famed as an Islamic version of a Euro-Communist, if he agreed with his brother Hani Ramadan--who had argued, in line with Muslim law, that adulterous women should be stoned to death. Pressed to agree or disagree without obfuscation, Ramadan, his Western facade crumbling, said he favored a "moratorium" on such stoning. Sarkozy responded with anger, "A moratorium?" He went on to mock the Islamists' leftist apologists. "If it is regressive not to want to stone women, I avow that I am a regressive."

Across the channel, the British elites went even further than did the French in abasing themselves before Islamic extremists. In the wake of the 7/7 London bombings, Prime Minister Tony Blair named the same Tariq Ramadan--hailed as a moderate by supposed liberals like Oxford's Timothy Garton Ash--as an advisor on Islamic matters. In a similar vein, London's mayor, Ken Livingstone, praised Sheik Quaradawi as a moderate and treated him as an honored guest. Many British intellectuals and pols had once rallied to the defense of Salman Rushdie when the Iranians issued a fatwa for his death, but in more recent years they've ignored or downplayed his plight. Similarly, the Danish cartoon affair, which raised the most fundamental issues of freedom of speech, produced a cowed response from the British press and pols about the importance of not offending Muslims.

But there are signs of a shift in England as well. Blair, who is about to leave office, has knighted Rushdie. A Pakistani legislator greeted the announcement with a call for suicide attacks on England. Blair responded in turn with aplomb.

Writing in the Observer, the jihad-friendly Guardian's Sunday paper, left-wing journalist Will Hutton has admitted that "the space in which to argue that Islam is an essentially benign religion seems to narrow with every passing day." "The West," he continued, "provokes Islam not by doing anything, although what it does is hardly helpful; it provokes at least some strands of Islamic thought simply by being." That means "the only way we can live together peaceably with Islam is if we don't compromise our own values." Hutton's argument buttresses the point made by repentant jihadi Ed Husain in the left-wing New Statesman. Husain, who has received veiled death threats, argues that "the most powerful weapon against Islamists and jihadists is to create public spaces in which former extremists can discuss why they entered Islamist networks and why they left." "This removes," he said, "the impenetrable mystique of these networks. It opens up their underworld." Here is a liberal ! answer to the problem of illiberalism.

In recent months, notes David Goodhart, the editor of the liberal journal Prospect, the British government has changed its attitude toward purportedly moderate Muslim spokesmen. Goodhart himself had previously defended Tariq Ramadan from criticism, including Paul Berman's recent piece in the New Republic. But he now has second thoughts about the Oxford philosopher, prompted by a recent Ramadan article in the Guardian advocating a different kind of moratorium--on asking Muslims to integrate into British society. It appears, says Goodhart, that the real Tariq Ramadan has instructed British Muslims to remain in social and intellectual isolation.

For the past decade, men like Ramadan have played a skillful double game. They have used Western liberal tropes to undermine Western values--extremism, they would suggest, was just another form of free speech. Aiding them in this game have been Western apologists for Islamic extremism such as Ian Buruma and Tony Judt, who brand courageous dissenters from Islamist orthodoxy like Ayaan Hirsi Ali "enlightenment fundamentalists."

The British have tried multiculturalism; the tolerant Dutch have allowed Muslims to create a separate "pillar" within their society; the French insist on the model of Jacobin uniformity; the Spanish have been merely craven. All have failed. But as Hutton argues, the best route for the West is to be true to its own heritage. If, like the courageous Danish prime minister Anders Rasmussen, Europeans unambiguously stand up to the Islamists, they will flush out double dealers like Ramadan while allowing the Ed Husains of the world to directly engage the extremists.


Race As Social Construct With Factual Basis

Post lifted from Randall Parker. See the original for links

An unrealistic typical inside-the-dogma-boundaries debate about race, this one at The New Republic, ellicits a response from Razib at Gene Expression. Razib says race is not simply an ideological construct.

Race is a social construction. But it is not one constructed purely from human ideology. That many perceive Greeks as white and Turks as non-white is a reflection of social axioms (Christians are white, Muslims are brown). That may perceive Greeks as white and Thai as non-white is not a reflection of social axioms (Greeks exhibit physical characteristics of the white race, Thais do not). Humanists are well schooled in the interplay between ideology and facts in generating a narrative of the world. To pretend as if there is no factual basis in the outlines of an ideology is a denial of reality, which would less concerning if not for the fact that most Americans parrot this very line about race as if it was universally accepted.

I like to cite the example of dog breeds. Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Belgian Malinois are different breeds. Some dogs sit clearly inside the definition of Border Collie or Aussie or Malinois. Others are mixes. Just because mixes exist does not mean that the group average characteristics of each breed isn't unique. Just because mixes exist doesn't mean that breeds do not exist or that breed labels are not useful. Breed names have real world utility. If you are near Golden Retriever who is barking at you your odds of getting bit or even killed are a lot lower than if you are near a Rottweiler that is barking at you. Group average differences in behavior rationally should influence your choices about house pets, guard dogs, or defensive behavior when challenged by a stranger dog.

Responding to the same TNR discussion Steve Sailer repeats his common sensical definition of race: "a partly inbred extended family".

I've long felt my single biggest contribution was coming up with a definition of "racial group" that was both rigorous and common-sensical ("a partly inbred extended family"). Simply having a useful definition should do much to dispel the hysteria, bad-faith, status-seeking, and general air of nonsense surrounding the topic of race.

On the other hand, my definition hasn't exactly swept like wildfire through the intellectual world as Chowkwanyun's essay demonstrates. But that's the way it generally is. You don't persuade famous thinkers, like, say, Richard Rorty. You outlive them. A new generation then comes along that doesn't have their egos invested in bad old ideas.

So, I was pleased to see in TNR a reply to the article by Justin Shubow that demonstrates a good familiarity with state-of-the-art thinking on the subject.

Why is Steve seeing a sensible idea getting adopted more quickly? I think the internet has accelerated the speed at which ideas spread. New ideas (or previously marginalized ideas) get put in front of many more pairs of eyes and lots of people who do not have vested interests in the current conventional wisdom decide the current conventional wisdom is wrong.

My guess is that the gap between the conventional wisdom and empirical reality is going to get narrower because the gatekeepers of the conventional wisdom are experiencing a reduced ability to control what people read and hear. Some of the middlemen in the markets for ideas are getting automated out of existence just as distributors of many physical products have gotten replaced with computer systems that allow more direct shipments.

Some pessimists think the defenders of conventional wisdom are still holding the line and keeping everyone in line. But my sense of it is that the intellectual building they constructed to hold everyone inside of might still look strong but it has termites. A lot of people are still afraid to publically speak their minds. But a growing number are changing their beliefs in the privacy of their own minds (or hiding behind pseudonyms as bloggers and blog commenters) and they are waiting looking for signals for when to all start speaking truthfully all at once. Those signals for when honesty becomes possible are coming soon and will come in the form of scientific evidence from DNA sequencing studies.

Another attempt to solve Australia's most intractible problem

Nothing works well but Aborigines were safer and healthier under the old paternalistic system. It seems that a partial return to that is underway

Australia’s Aborigines were stripped of the right of self-rule yesterday after the Government declared the widespread sexual abuse of Aboriginal children to be a national emergency. John Howard, the Prime Minister, banned the sale of alcohol across an area the size of France and imposed restrictions on access to pornography. He also announced tight controls on welfare benefits, which will be cut if children fail to attend school. Aboriginal families will be required to spend at least half their fortnightly welfare on food and essentials.

In a statement to Parliament the Prime Minister said: “We are dealing with children of the tenderest age who have been exposed to the most terrible abuse from the time of their birth, virtually. Any semblance of maintaining the innocence of childhood is a myth in so many of these communities, and we feel very strongly that this kind of action is needed.” In what amounts to the end of a decades-long and largely failed path of self-determination for Aboriginal people, hundreds of extra police will be deployed in northern Australia to enforce the laws, which will apply on land that has been returned to Aboriginal ownership over the past 30 years.

The sudden move was prompted by the findings of an inquiry, released last week, that showed alarming levels of sexual abuse of Aboriginal children. The inquiry, led by a leading QC and an Aboriginal child expert, found that children were being abused in each of the 50 settlements that they visited in northern Australia. There are hundreds of such settlements, many with fewer than 100 people. The inquiry, established by the government of the Northern Territory, found that children were being abused by Aboriginal and nonAboriginal adults. It concluded that “rivers of grog” and a lack of education were great contributors to the levels of abuse.

It also found that very young Aboriginal girls had been taken into Darwin by nonAboriginal men, who traded sex for drugs. Girls aged between 12 and 15 years were being provided with cash and gifts for having sex with white mine-workers. Video and other forms of pornography were used widely by men in Aboriginal communities, and overcrowded housing conditions meant that children were exposed to sexual activity from a very young age, the inquiry reported.

Mr Howard said that he was concerned over what he considered to be the Northern Territory’s inadequate response to the findings, and that was why the Government was using its powers to seize control of the Aboriginal settlements there. He said that every child under the age of 16 would be checked by teams of doctors which would be sent into Aboriginal areas. Remote schools would receive more funding so that they could provide pupils with a meal every day. The settlements will be under federal control for the next five years; able-bodied unemployed will be made to repair houses and clean up communities in return for continued welfare payments.

The decades-long entry-permit system, under which Aboriginal people have controlled access to the 660,000sq km (255,000sq miles) of Aboriginal lands in northern Australia, will be largely scrapped.

The measures were condemned by leaders of Aboriginal communities. The lawyer Michael Mansell, an Aboriginal activist [Actually a white Leftist -- complete with blond hair] , said that the Government’s actions were an “immoral abuse of power” aimed at taking over people’s lives. “Mitch”, a member of a government board helping Aborigines who were taken from their parents under past assimilation laws, said: “I’m absolutely disgusted by this patronising government control. Tying drinking with welfare payments is just disgusting. If they’re going to do that, they’re going to have to do that with every single person in Australia, not just black people.” Mr Howard urged of Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales, where the federal Government does not have the power to override local legislatures, to introduce similar bans on the distribution of alcohol.

Alan Carpenter, Premier of Western Australia, said that his government was addressing the issue of child abuse, and questioned why Mr Howard had declared it a national emergency after 11 years in office. Throughout his premiership Mr Howard has focused on practical measures to tackle Aboriginal disadvantage, often angering critics with his tough-love approach at the expense of symbolism, such as an apology for past injustices. There are about 470,000 Aborigines in the 20 million population of Australia. They are the country’s most impoverished community, with life expectancy more than 17 years lower than the national average.



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

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

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


22 June, 2007

Why HAMAS won: Religion

HAMAS won its shut-out victory in Gaza with alarming ease. And the reason Hamas won is even more alarming: Fanaticism trumps numbers. You'll hear no end of explanations for the terrorist triumph: Hamas was backed by Iran; Gaza is Hamas' base of support; some Fatah units ran out of ammunition . . . All true. And all secondary factors. Fatah's security forces in Gaza outnumbered the Hamas gunmen. Fatah had stockpiles of weapons and military gear (now in Hamas' arsenal). Fatah even had the quiet backing of Israel and America. And Fatah folded like a pup tent in a tornado.

Hamas won because its fighters are religious fanatics ready to die for their cause. Fatah runs an armed employment agency under the banner of Palestinian nationalism. Most of the latter's security men are on the payroll because relatives or ward pols got them jobs. And they want to stay alive to collect their wages. The result was predictable. Our government pretended otherwise. Now hairs should be standing up on the backs of thousands of necks, from the White House to the Green Zone.

Yes, Iraq is more complex than Gaza. But once you pierce the surface turbulence and look deep, the similarities are chilling: Iraq's security forces do include true patriots - but most of the troops and cops just want a job, or were ordered to join up by a sheik or a mullah, or are gathering guns until their faction calls. The al-Qaeda-in-Iraq terrorists, the core members of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and the hard-line Sunni ghazis are willing to die for the victory of their faction and their faith. They believe they're doing Allah's will. It gives them a strength we rush to explain away.

The raw numbers suggest that Iraq's fanatics don't stand a chance. The government has a far greater numerical advantage than did Fatah. But numbers often mislead analysts during insurgencies: Iraq's government wouldn't last a week without U.S. troops.

The lesson from Gaza is that such wars are neither waged nor won by the majority of the population. A tiny fraction of the populace, armed and determined, can destroy a fragile government and seize power. Polls showing that most Iraqis "want peace" and don't support the extremists only deceive us (because we want to be deceived). It wouldn't matter if 99 percent of the Iraqis loved us like free falafel, if we're unwilling to annihilate the fraction of 1 percent of the population with the weapons and will to dictate the future to the rest.

At the height of last week's fighting in Gaza, one Palestinian in 300 carried a weapon in support of Hamas - a third of one percent of the population. Now Hamas rules 1.5 million people. Numbers still matter, of course. But strength of will can overcome hollow numbers. And nothing - nothing - gives men a greater strength of will than religious fanaticism. We don't want to hear it. Secular virtues were supposed to triumph. They didn't, but we still can't let go of our dream of a happy-face, godless world where nobody quarrels.

Our refusal to acknowledge the unifying - and terrifying - power of extremist religion has deep roots. As academics rejected and derided faith in the last century, even the Thirty Years' War - the horrible climax of Europe's wars of religion - was reinvented as a dynastic struggle, or a fight for hegemony, or a class struggle.

But the Thirty Years' War was about faith. All the other factors were in play, but the core issue, from the Protestant coup in Prague in 1618 to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, was religious identity. And the atrocities committed on both sides make Iraq look like amateur hour: Wars of religion always demand blood sacrifice. (It was a compromise of bloody exhaustion that ended the Thirty Years War.)

Our problem is that, of those who rise in government, few have witnessed the power of revelation or caught a life-changing glimpse of the divine. They simply can't imagine that others might be willing to die for all that mumbo-jumbo. Our convenience-store approach to faith leaves us numb to the passion of our enemies.

The true believer always beats the feckless attendee. The best you can hope for is that the extremist will eventually defeat himself. And that does leave us some hope: Fanatics inevitably over-reach, as al Qaeda's Islamo-fascists have done in Iraq, alienating those who once saw them as allies. But the road to self-destruction can be a long one: The people of Iran want change, but the fanatics have the guns. And sorry, folks: Fanatics with guns beat liberals with ideas.

Faith is the nuclear weapon of the fanatic. And there's not going to be a religious "nuclear freeze." It doesn't matter how many hearts and minds you win, if you don't defeat the zealots with the muscles.


"Tax is solidarity"

Long live tax. Thus read a recent headline in the leading French newspaper Liberation. Yet France's national sport is tax evasion. Theodore Dalrymple argues that the belief that tax is solidarity and justice is fairness is at the heart of France's current problems

Returning to France after an absence of three months, the first newspaper I picked up - Liberation - had one of the most arresting headlines I have ever seen anywhere: Vive l'impot, Long live tax. No wonder newspapers in France have the smallest circulation of any developed country.

Now of course we all recognise that taxation is necessary, just as we recognise that, in this fallen world, the police are necessary. No one could be more in favour of law and order than I, yet I should still mistrust someone who went around saying "Long live the police!" I would suspect that he was a sadist of some description, who enjoyed being cruel to animals and wanted criminals to be vilely abused or tortured.

The context in which Liberation published the headline was the forthcoming election in France. There is a profound sense of unease in the country: that it is has lost its rightful place in the world, that it is becoming a museum rather than an active economic force, that it is stagnating, that a substantial part of the population is completely and dangerously disaffected, and so forth. The question is what part high taxation and excessive bureaucratic centralisation plays in this syndrome. The fact is that the state, high taxes notwithstanding, is becoming ever more deeply indebted. It is living today as if there were no tomorrow. Apres nous le deluge has become government policy.

Both Le Monde and Liberation characterise any proposal to lower taxes in order to unleash the energies of the French people as demagogy. No doubt the subject is susceptible to demagogy: politicians will claim that they can lower taxes without sacking any of the employees who have a net negative effect on national output. But if you ask any small businessman in France why he finds it hard to expand his business, he will reply that the burden of taxation and regulation is simply too high. That is why so much has to be done na levo, as the Russians used to put it: on the left, or, in our parlance, under the table. The question of taxation is a real and important one, demagogues and demagoguery notwithstanding.

The real demagoguery, however, is on the other side of the question. An interview with an academic in the same issue of Liberation is headlined with a quotation from him:

Above all, tax is solidarity

No doubt our own Mr Brown could not agree more. The strange thing about this is that it views social solidarity as something that is forced and imposed rather than felt and voluntary. While taxation is supposedly a manifestation of the responsibility one citizen feels for the welfare of another, it has to be extorted from the citizenry, which does everything possible, and some things impossible, to avoid paying it. Where tax is solidarity, the national sport is tax evasion.

The peculiar thing is that the belief that tax is a kind of institutionalised kindness goes along with an attitude that makes a hero of anyone who succeeds in pulling the wool over the taxman's eyes, and commiserates with anyone who gets caught cheating on his taxes. I doubt that the journalists at Liberation are any different from their compatriots in this respect. We in Anglo-saxonia are hypocrites about sex, but they in France they are hypocrites about money. Does anyone, when he pays his taxes, think to himself,

With this cheque I am being compassionate towards those less fortunate than I?

He is surely more likely to think that he is contributing to the salaries of the vast armies of bureaucrats and regulators that the state has employed to inhibit real economic activity. No doubt such salaries have a Keynesian effect upon aggregate demand, but no economy can survive entirely by everyone taking in everyone else's washing. Ultimately, something must be produced.

The academic was asked whether an almost confiscatory inheritance tax would put everyone of a footing of equality. Yes, certainly, he replied, and even the most liberal [economists] defend this idea as a means of reshuffling the cards. The only inconvenience he could see was that the prospect of leaving an inheritance to one's children was an important motive for human activity.

In the first part of the answer we see the modern mania for justice as fairness, to the complete detriment of civilisation itself, which is not at all valued. Civilisation is an accretion of achievements that no single person, and no single generation of people, can be expected to make in his or its own lifetime. Those who come after unfairly benefit from the efforts of those who have gone before; and since it is inevitable that, at any given time, some people benefit more than others from the civilisational inheritance (if only because parents pass on a varying degree of cultural and intellectual capital to their children), it is only right - from the justice as fairness point of view - that the world should be constantly razed to the ground so that no one should benefit more from it than anyone else.

Nothing should be taught to anybody, for fear that one person will be taught more than another; and medical schools, for example, must operate on the principle that every student should make every discovery for himself. Every generation must discover the circulation of the blood for itself, or not at all; and every generation must discover anaesthetics and penicillin.

Is it not manifest unfairness (and therefore injustice) that I should have a longer life expectancy than my father merely by virtue of having been born after him, and that those who were born after me should have a longer life expectancy than mine? What, indeed, could be worse unfairness (and therefore injustice), for is not life itself a precondition of everything else? It follows that each generation should start from a position of complete medical ignorance.

The belief that justice as fairness is the most important desideratum, indeed the only really important one, is profoundly destructive. In a world in which not everyone shares it, it also guarantees relative decay and economic regression. And, of course, it doesn't even lead to fairness; only to the creeping tyranny of bureaucrats.


Angry Muslim reaction after last week's decision by Queen Elizabeth to knight Salman Rushdie came as no surprise

Unfortunately, too many people do not understand the serious consequences of misplaced respect for offended religious feelings. A prime example - the United Nation's Human Rights Council's passage of a scandalous resolution condoning state punishment of speech deemed insulting to religion, which helps regimes that silence criticism and crush dissent

"The only right you don't have in a democracy is the right not to be offended." These words by New York law professor Ronald Dworkin come to mind when reading about the angry Muslim reactions after last week's decision by Queen Elizabeth to knight Salman Rushdie.

Unfortunately, too many people do not understand the consequences of their misplaced respect for insulted religious feelings: this respect is being used by tyrants and fanatics around the world to justify suicide attacks and to silence criticism and to crush dissenting points of view.

Here's what Mohammed ljaz ul-Haq, the religious affairs minister of Pakistan -our ally in the war on terror- had to say about Sir Salman's knighthood: "If someone blows himself up he will consider himself justified. How can we fight terrorism when those who commit blasphemy are rewarded by the West?"

Mohammed ljaz ul-Haq is the son of former president Mohammed Zia ul-Haq, who was killed in a plane crash in 1988. One of the characters in Rushdie's novel about Pakistan's political turmoil, Shame, is based on Zia ul-Haq. The late president's son was later forced to soften his attack on Rushdie, but his line of "reasoning" exposes the problem in a nutshell: he is absolutely sure that blasphemy and terrorism are comparable crimes. And he can find many arguments for this perverted logic in the reactions among people in the West to the fatwa against Rushdie after the publication of "The Satanic Verses" in 1988, which was denounced blasphemous for its depiction of the prophet Mohammed.

Minister ul-Haq was joined by another cabinet member, Pakistan's minister for parliamentarian affairs Sher Afgan Khan Niazi: "The `sir' title from Britain for blasphemer Salman Rushdie has hurt the feelings of Muslims across the world. Every religion should be respected. I demand the British government immediately withdraw the title as it is creating religious hatred," he said.

Again: insult, blasphemy, respect for religion, those words are being repeated over and over again as justification for violent attacks and death threats. By the Iranian government, by the chairman of the Muslim Council of Britain, and by leading politicians and opinion makers in the West.

And they have made their way into the United Nation's Human Rights Council, the highest ranking international body with the mission of protecting human rights. On March 30 it passed a scandalous resolution condoning state punishment of speech that governments deems as insulting for religion.

"The resolution is based in the expectation that it will compel the international community to acknowledge and address the disturbing phenomenon of the defamation of religions, especially Islam," said Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

What does this mean? Well, it means that the UN is encouraging every dictatorship to pass laws that make criticism of Islam a crime. The UN Human Rights Council legitimizes the criminal persecution of sir Salman Rushdie for having insulted people's religious sensibilities. Beautiful, isn't it?

And the Labour Government in Britain was delivering ammunition to this kind of policy when back in 2006 it put a lot of effort into passing a law against religious hatred. It failed by one vote. Salman Rushdie fought this law. In an essay "Coming After Us" for the anthology "Free Expression Is No Offense" he wrote:

"I never thought of myself as a writer about religion until religion came after me. At that time it was often difficult to persuade people that the attack on The Satanic Verses was part of a broader, global assault on writers, artists, and fundamental freedoms. The aggressors in that matter, by which I mean the novel's opponents, who threatened booksellers and publishers, falsified the contents of the text they disliked, and vilified its author, nevertheless presented themselves as the injured parties, and such was the desire to appease religious sentiment even then that in spite of the murder of a translator in Japan and the shooting of a publisher in Norway there was widespread acceptance of that topsy-turvy view."

Fortunately, Salman Rushdie is doing well, celebrating his 60th birthday today and working on a new novel, "a fantasia or shaggy dog story which connects Renaissance Florence with 16th century India", as he put it in a recent interview with the Daily Telegraph.

But the fact of the matter is that by adapting the resolution against "defamation of religion" the UN has tacitly endorsed the killing of Rushdie's colleagues in parts of the world where no one can protect them.



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

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

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


21 June, 2007


Excerpts from an Interview With Bernard Goldberg About His New Book, "Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right" -- courtesy of John Hawkins

Bernard Goldberg: My story resonates with millions and millions and millions of other Americans who started up on the left, and wound up on the right because they didn't feel comfortable in the Democratic Party anymore. It became a party of grievances. You know, in the beginning, I was for civil rights... I still am. But, being for civil rights at some point wasn't good enough, now I have to be for racial preferences. I have to be for a system that decides who gets into college, who gets government jobs, and gets government contracts largely based on the color of their skin. What's liberal about that? That's not liberal. That's the opposite of what Martin Luther King talked about, judging people based on the content of the character, not the color of their skin.

I was for women's rights, but then that wasn't enough, and I had to be for the right of a woman to be firefighter, if she wanted to be, even if she wasn't strong enough to carry a man out of a burning building. I don't think a woman has an inalienable right to be a firefighter.

Free speech, that's what liberals were really about. Look at any college campus today where there's a demonstration against somebody speaking, where they shout down somebody speaking because they don't like what that person is saying, and inevitably, the people doing the shouting down will be liberal students. I said, "You know what, that's not for me anymore."

John Hawkins:What do you think about the sort of rhetoric used on the left, particularly on the left side of the blogosphere? You know, Bush is Hitler, they're playing up conspiracy theories, that sort of thing?

Bernard Goldberg: It's very, very damaging because once somebody says, "Bush is Hitler," that isn't the beginning of a conversation, that ends the conversation. (There's a) chapter in the book, which is kind of funny, (where) Alec Baldwin is... (compared by his wife) to Saddam Hussein. And Alec Baldwin said, "I'm not Saddam Hussein, I don't kill people, I don't do what Saddam Hussein does", and I make the point in the book that Alec Baldwin is right. He has every right to say, "I'm not Saddam Hussein." Then I said, "Alec, now go out and show that same outrage with your Hollywood friends who call George Bush Adolph Hitler." Because that kind of Rosie O'Donnell rhetoric, where radical Christians are as bad as radical Muslims. the sort of rhetoric where Joy Behar on The View compares Donald Rumsfeld to Hitler, that kind of stuff, turns decent people off.

I think the next election is the Democrats' to win. I mean with Iraq hanging around the Republicans' neck, the Democrats should be the favorite. But, if they continue with that kind of rhetoric, if they continue moving further and further to the left, they have a chance of losing this next election, because regular people out there in middle America, they don't like that kind of stuff. They could be against the war, they could dislike George Bush, hey, I have problems with George Bush, but he's not Osama Bin Laden, he's not Hitler. Not only is he not as bad as the really bad guys in this world, he's not 1 millionth as bad as the people who are really bad guys in this world.

Yet, you go to dinner with your liberal friends, and you get the impression that they believe that George Bush is the biggest menace on the planet. There's a name for it. It's Bush Derangement Syndrome. It's where otherwise normal liberals, the kinds of people you go to lunch with, you talk to, you kind of like: when you say the name George Bush in their presence, they go off the rails. They start foaming at the mouth. This kind of Bush Derangement Syndrome leads them to call him to Hitler and compare him to Nazis and Fascists and, as I said, it doesn't engender conversation, it ends conversation.

John Hawkins: Now, you say Republicans have lost their nerve -- and I certainly agree with that, but the $24,000 question is why? Why do you think that so many members of the party of Reagan have lost their nerve especially when there are so many columnists, bloggers, saying, just as you are, that they're no longer standing on principle and that's a big problem?

Bernard Goldberg: Because I think when they took over power in Washington, when they won not only the White House, but both Houses of Congress, I think they started acting like regular politicians and I mean that in the worst sense.

The Republicans told us they were the party of small government, that they were the ones who were fiscally responsible. They were the grown-ups. Then, they started spending our money as if they were Imelda Marcos in a shoe store. They sold out their principles because they thought they could bribe us. They thought they could spend and spend and spend on different pork projects and that they could get away with it. I think they only did that because they took over power and lost their way.

With immigration, I think a reasonable Republican position could be, "We are more than willing to talk about paths to citizenship, guest worker programs, and anything else, after we secure the border. Not after we talk about securing the border, not after we make another promise that we'll secure the border, which never seems to actually happen in real life, but when we secure the border, then we'll talk about these other things." But, you have the President of the United States and Republicans in Congress wanting to get this bill through, this one that may be dead or may not dead...

John Hawkins: It's not dead.

Bernard Goldberg: ...Because they don't want to be accused of being anti-Hispanic.

I will give you another example. There's going to be measures to ban Affirmative Action on ballots in at least 5 states next year. There was one on the Michigan ballot last year. The voters in Michigan voted overwhelmingly to ban racial preferences, but the Republican candidates for Governor and for Senator can out against the ban. In other words, they were saying let's continue to have these racial preferences. The voters rejected (Affirmative Action), but the Republicans came out in favor of Affirmative Action and racial preferences. That's not a conservative position. The Republican candidates lost. Next year, when this is on the ballot in at least 5 states, Democrats will come out against the bans because at least they honestly believe that racial preferences and Affirmative Action are good things. Republicans don't believe that these are good things. These are not conservative principles, but they will also come against the bans in many states because they're afraid they'll be called bigots if they don't. What Republicans should say is that, "We are against racial discrimination. We will use the full force of government to try to wipe it out... but, we will not be in favor of any program that makes decisions about who gets into college and who gets jobs largely based on the color of their skin." But, they won't do that, because they'll be called racists if they do.

So, they've sold out their principles on spending, on immigration, on Affirmative Action, on a whole bunch of things like that. They didn't even defend the renomination of (Peter Pace). They wimp out on one issue after another and let me tell you something, conservatives have noticed. I'll tell you something else; there are a percentage of people who traditionally vote Republican, who are really libertarian more than Republican. They're the small government people. They've been reliably Republican. I don't think they're going to be reliably Republican any more. I think they're going to say, "You've sold out." Now, I don't think they're going to vote for Hillary Clinton. I'll grant you that, but they may sit out the election, they may throw their votes away on some candidate who doesn't stand a chance of winning, and therefore help the Democrats. But, I think the Republicans have offended and alienated many people who have been loyal to them for a very long time.


By Jeff Jacoby

I was once sued in state court by a disgruntled reader who accused me of calling him a "crackpot." Fortunately, the suit went nowhere; the plaintiff's nutty, hand-scrawled complaint was apparently all the court needed to dismiss the case. That and the fact that even in Massachusetts, you're allowed to use the word "crackpot" when being harangued by one on the telephone.

But what if the plaintiff in my case hadn't been so plainly bonkers? What if he had been a lawyer, or even a judge -- someone who knew his way around a lawsuit? What if he had been another Roy L. Pearson Jr.?

As everyone this side of Mazar-e-Sharif must know by now, Pearson is the administrative law judge in Washington, D.C., who in 2005 sued his dry cleaners for $65 million over a missing pair of pants. He later reduced his claim to $54 million, and the case was tried in D.C. Superior Court last week.

Pearson, representing himself before Judge Judith Bartnoff, declared grandiosely that "never before in recorded history have a group of defendants engaged in such misleading and unfair business practices. You will search the DC archives in vain for a case of more egregious or willful conduct." Bartnoff let him go on in this vein, the Washington Post reported, and he argued his case "for hour upon hour," though he wasn't permitted to call all 63 of the witnesses he had hoped to put on the stand. Nor did Bartnoff allow him to rehash the saga of his 2004 divorce, which he insists the Virginia courts mishandled.

On the other hand, Pearson did testify that he has between 40 and 60 pairs of pants hanging in his closet, none of which, he was at pains to point out, has cuffs. At one point he broke down in tears and had to ask for a recess. That emotional upwelling occurred as he was recounting the moment when the dry cleaner handed him what he says were the wrong trousers. (They were cuffed).

The whole thing sounds like a Sacha Baron Cohen sendup, and it has certainly drawn plenty of amused media attention. (New York Times headline: "Judge Tries Suing Pants Off Dry Cleaners.")

But Pearson's ludicrous lawsuit, and the legal system's willingness to indulge it, is no joke to Jin and Soo Chung, the owners of Custom Dry Cleaning. The legal bills they have incurred in fighting this lawsuit have wiped out their family's savings. Three times they have offered Pearson a settlement, most recently for $12,000. Three times Pearson has refused.

"How does such a case get to trial?" Post columnist Marc Fisher asked the other day. "How does one man get to make a laughingstock of the system?" His sad answer: Pearson's legal terrorism "is only an exaggerated version of what goes on in virtually every institution of American life, where humane and reasonable behavior is quashed by reminders that someone could conceivably be sued."

Who can doubt it? The population of lawyers in America has soared in recent decades, and with their increase has come an explosion in the lawyer's stock in trade: regulation, disputation, and litigation. In 1978, noting that the number of US lawyers had increased to 462,000, Time magazine rued the way laws and lawsuits were taking over American life, making it ever more difficult for people of goodwill to rely on custom and common sense in settling differences. It quoted then-Chief Justice Warren Burger: "We may well be on our way to a society overrun by hordes of lawyers, hungry as locusts, and brigades of judges in numbers never before contemplated."

If that was true then, how much more so today, when the "hordes of lawyers" (including non-practicing ones like me) have swollen to nearly 1 million? A century ago, there was 1 lawyer for every 714 Americans. Today the ratio is 1 to 288.

Of course lawsuits have a vital role to play in our legal system. If there were no way to hold people liable for reckless or malicious behavior, it would be difficult to keep such behavior in check. "But the converse is also true," as Philip K. Howard, author of *The Death of Common Sense* and chairman of Common Good, testified at a congressional hearing in 2004. "Allow lawsuits against reasonable behavior, and pretty soon people no longer feel free to act reasonably. And that's what's happening in America today."

Pearson's pants case is only the most egregious example of the I'll-see-you-in-court mindset that has battered the medical profession, turned divorce proceedings into ferocious battles, and stripped playgrounds of seesaws and jungle gyms. ABC News recently rounded up reports of some others: The woman who sued an outdoor mall after being "attacked" by a squirrel, on the grounds that the mall "failed to warn" her in advance. The photographer who fell off a garbage truck he had climbed on top of to take some pictures, then sued the waste-management company for $50 million because he "never thought in a million years the truck would move." The drug-abusing patient who sued a hospital for "allowing" a visitor to sneak illegal drugs into the hospital for her. The plaintiff who demanded $832 million from superstar athlete Michael Jordan and Nike co-founder Phil Knight because he found it "distressing" to look like Jordan and be confused with him.

Lawsuits cost Americans hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Legal fear -- the fear of being sued, and the lengths to which US businesses, institutions, and municipalities go to avoid legal risk -- makes life more expensive, more frustrating, and less free for all of us. "I think we may class the lawyer in the natural history of monsters," John Keats wrote. But that was in 1819. Imagine what he would have said if he had met Roy Pearson.

Australia: Leftist party supports tough proposals on black welfare

INDIGENOUS policy faces a revolution no matter who wins the federal election, with Labor backing Noel Pearson's push to link welfare and personal responsibility. Opposition indigenous affairs spokeswoman Jenny Macklin has thrown Labor's support behind radically restructuring welfare payments, while the Howard Government is preparing cabinet submissions that would ensure welfare was quarantined for use on housing and food.

The plans embrace proposals put forward by Mr Pearson, the Cape York indigenous activist, who wants Aboriginal families to be stripped of welfare payments if their children are abused or miss school. He has spent a decade arguing for an end to passive welfare but until now has failed to win bipartisan political support.

A report by Mr Pearson's Cape York Institute, to be launched today, calls for an overhaul of the Aboriginal work for the dole program, CDEP, under which 35,000 Aboriginal people work in return for welfare. He suggests abolishing the program for anyone younger than 21, and placing them under "conditional income management" if they do not begin a traineeship or find a job within three months of finishing school. The report also calls for an expansion of private home ownership, with a subsidy for families who want to construct houses in remote communities.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough said he was preparing several cabinet submissions in line with Mr Pearson's hard-core approach. Under Mr Brough's plan, all families - white and black - that spent welfare money on alcohol, gambling and drugs would be forced to direct-debit part of their benefits to pay for rent, electricity and food.

Ms Macklin said while she did not agree with everything Mr Pearson proposed, anything that supported the interests of children deserved to be taken seriously. "The principle that family tax benefits follow the interests of the child is one we strongly support for both indigenous and non-indigenous children," she said.

While Ms Macklin gave cautious support to Mr Pearson's plans, Labor federal vice-president Linda Burney, the first Aboriginal cabinet minister in the NSW parliament, expressed her concern. "It really is about playing god with people's lives," Ms Burney said. "It feels a bit like a rerun of punitive practices in the past that proved fruitless."

On Queensland's Palm Island, which has unemployment of more than 90 per cent, the proposal for a community-based "cop" with power to withhold welfare payments was also universally rejected. "There are other reasons kids don't go to school other than parental neglect," said Mayor Delena Oui-Foster, who said the proposal smacked of racism. School attendance on Palm Island is high, largely because an increasing number of parents, such as Nazareth Foster, place enormous value in education. Her children, Mia and Teri, have not missed school this year: "I want them to have a good education - these days, you get indigenous people getting certificates and degrees, and that's what we've got to aim for here."


Australia: Judicial arrogance attacks freedom of the press

LAST week, the High Court of Australia displayed a disdain for a jury verdict that went to the heart of free speech in this country. It concerned the small matter of a restaurant review. I say small because in the scheme of things a restaurant review is hardly cutting-edge commentary. But when restaurant critics are gagged, it does not augur well for free speech.

By and large, we are fortunate in Australia to have a sensible bunch of judges on our highest court. But when they go awry, sidelining common sense, they really go for broke. Which is what they did when they set aside a jury verdict that decided a review about a swank Sydney restaurant, while critical about some of the food and some of the service, did not defame the restaurant owner.

In 2003, The Sydney Morning Herald food critic Matthew Evans was unimpressed with Coco Roco, which billed itself as “Sydney’s most glamorous restaurant”. The limoncello oyster had flavours that “jangle like a car crash”. The carpaccio arrived with a “dreary roast almond paste”. And, Evans asked, what was the chef thinking by adding apricot halves to a sherry-scented white sauce adorning a prime rib steak? Food critics can be a snippy lot. But that’s the gig. Anything less and they become spruikers for prime rib steak laced with sherry-scented sauce and apricot halves.

The restaurant owner sued for defamation under NSW’s 7A system where a jury decides whether something is defamatory. In a separate later hearing, a judge decides on whether defences are made out and on damages payable. The jury found Evans’s review did not defame the owner of Coco Roco. On appeal, the NSW Court of Appeal tossed the jury verdict in the bin, preferring its own view that the review was defamatory. Late last week, the High Court agreed.

Although Australia has a new set of uniform defamation laws, in some states and territories the jury will still determine what is defamatory. That is why the High Court case sends a chilling message. According to justices Ian Callinan and Dyson Heydon, the restaurant review was defamatory and any other finding was unimaginable. There was no point sending the issue back to a jury for redetermination, Callinan said during argument, because you might end up with the same perverse finding.

Which raises the question: why bother with a jury at all? Of course, courts have powers to overturn perverse jury verdicts. But was the jury’s decision so perverse? Or was it a case where reasonable minds may differ, where criticism of some bad food and some poor service did not reflect on the competence of the restaurateur? No, said the High Court. No room for reasonable debate here.

Even more troubling, the majority judges said community standards were irrelevant in determining whether the review amounted to defamation of a business. It’s an odd rule that lowers the defamation bar for businesses. (Even stranger given that if a business incorporates, it cannot sue for defamation.) Again, so why bother with a jury comprised of men and women from the community? By effectively telling us to skip the jury trial where something negative is said, the High Court has told critics that they can expect litigation if they are too honest in their opinions.

Equally concerning was the tone of the judges during the hearing. Argument got off to a rollicking start when Justice William Gummow asked: “But when were (the restaurateurs) going to get their hands on some money and how?” Slow down, judge. Damages are determined after defamation has been established and after a court rejects defences.

Now, I’ve seen some scary-looking Santas in my time, but none more so than when a judge such as Gummow does his Santa routine, looking around for someone else’s money to dole out to a disgruntled plaintiff. It’s a quaint and other-worldly judicial view that regards newspapers as so influential that one review is so obviously defamatory as to send a restaurant bankrupt. The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have been campaigning against the Howard Government for the past decade. And to no avail.

So did the review really destroy the restaurant? Or was it the poor food? Indeed, some bad reviews bring in the crowds. Am I the only one who goes to see a movie after it is panned by certain trendy critics? A give-it-a-miss review from certain quarters almost guarantees that it’s a movie not to bemissed.

The decision to throw out the jury verdict evinces not so much an air of unreality about how the world works as a thick fog of arrogance that judicial views on questions of fact ought to supplant those of ordinary beings who make up a jury.

In a curious turn of events, Justice Michael Kirby - the great dissenter - injects a healthy dose of common sense into this case. Usually he’s busily crafting the law to suit his own preference, often disguising his views under the cloak of community standards. But then, as the saying goes, even a broken watch is right twice a day. Here he is full of judicial humility and restraint. He deferred to parliament’s intent to have a jury decide defamatory material according to community standards and rejected the view of his haughty buddies who preferred their view to that of a pesky parliament or a jury.

Callinan’s apparent disdain for the jury is especially odd. In a speech given just after his High Court appointment, he scoffed at elitist criticism of juries and cited the view of Patrick Devlin, a former lord justice of Britain’s Court of Appeal, that “trial by jury is more than an instrument of justice and more than one wheel of the constitution: it is the lamp that shows freedom lives.” As Callinan will soon step down from the High Court after a distinguished career, hopefully he won’t mind the criticism.

After all, his spirited defence of juries was accompanied by an admission that criticism of judges is par for the course. Criticism of judgments is rather like being on the end of a stinging theatre review, he mused. He then cited a few colourful reviews including a damning criticism of a J.B. Priestley play, When We are Married, where the critic described the play as “an ideal treat as a night out for your despicable in-laws”.

After the High Court effectively sidelined juries last week, tilting the playing field against free speech, we may no longer be able to enjoy such robust criticism of theatre, books, restaurants and the like. Judges may prefer to live in an overly precious society where polite talk replaces honest criticism. But it will dull the lamp that shows freedom.



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

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

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


20 June, 2007

Europe's Christian Comeback

Alarmist pundits prophesize that a secular Europe risks being overcome by its fast-growing Muslim population. Yet for all we hear about Islam, Europe remains a stronger Christian fortress than people realize.

The West is awash with fear of the Islamization of Europe. The rise of Islam, many warn, could transform the continent into "Eurabia," a term popularized by Harvard historian Niall Ferguson and other pundits. "A youthful Muslim society to the south and east of the Mediterranean is poised to colonize-the term is not too strong-a senescent Europe," Ferguson has predicted. Such grim prophecies may sell books, but they ignore reality. For all we hear about Islam, Europe remains a stronger Christian fortress than people realize. What's more, it is showing little sign of giving ground to Islam or any other faith for that matter.

To be fair, the trend is counterintuitive. Europe has long been a malarial swamp for any traditional or orthodox faith. Compared with the rest of the world, religious adherence in Europe is painfully weak. And it is easy to find evidence of the decay. Any traveler to the continent has seen Christianity's abandoned and secularized churches, many now transformed into little more than museums. But this does not mean that European Christianity is nearing extinction. Rather, among the ruins of faith, European Christianity is adapting to a world in which its convinced adherents represent a small but vigorous minority.

In fact, the rapid decline in the continent's church attendance over the past 40 years may have done Europe a favor. It has freed churches of trying to operate as national entities that attempt to serve all members of society. Today, no church stands a realistic chance of incorporating everyone. Smaller, more focused bodies, however, can be more passionate, enthusiastic, and rigorously committed to personal holiness. To use a scientific analogy, when a star collapses, it becomes a white dwarf-smaller in size than it once was, but burning much more intensely. Across Europe, white-dwarf faith communities are growing within the remnants of the old mass church.

Perhaps nowhere is this more true than within European Catholicism, where new religious currents have become a potent force. Examples include movements such as the Focolare, the Emmanuel Community, and the Neocatechumenate Way, all of which are committed to a re-evangelization of Europe. These movements use charismatic styles of worship and devotion that would seem more at home in an American Pentecostal church, but at the same time they are thoroughly Catholic. Though most of these movements originated in Spain and Italy, they have subsequently spread throughout Europe and across the Catholic world. Their influence over the younger clergy and lay leaders who will shape the church in the next generation is surprisingly strong.

Similar trends are at work within the Protestant churches of Northern and Western Europe. The most active sections of the Church of England today are the evangelical and charismatic parishes that have, in effect, become megachurches in their own right. These parishes have been incredibly successful at reaching out to a secular society that no longer knows much of anything about the Christian faith. Holy Trinity Brompton, a megaparish in Knightsbridge, London, that is now one of Britain's largest churches, is home to the amazingly popular "Alpha Course," a means of recruiting potential converts through systems of informal networking aimed chiefly at young adults and professionals. As with the Catholic movements, the course works because it makes no assumptions about any prior knowledge: Everyone is assumed to be a new recruit in need of basic teaching. Nor does the recruitment technique assume that people live or work in traditional settings of family or employment. The Alpha Course is successfully geared for postmodern believers in a postindustrial economy.

Alongside these older Christian communities are hugely energetic immigrant congregations. On a typical Sunday, half of all churchgoers in London are African or Afro-Caribbean. Of Britain's 10 largest megachurches, four are pastored by Africans. Paris has 250 ethnic Protestant churches, most of them black African. Similar trends are found in Germany. Booming Christian churches in Africa and Asia now focus much of their evangelical attention on Europe. Nigerian and Congolese ministers have been especially successful, but none more so than the Ukraine-based ministry of Nigerian evangelist Sunday Adelaja. He has opened more than 300 churches in 30 countries in the last 12 years and now claims 30,000 (mainly white) followers.

Ironically, after centuries of rebelling against religious authority, the coming of Islam is also reviving political issues most thought extinct in Europe, including debates about the limits of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the right to proselytize. And in all these areas, controversies that originate in a Muslim context inexorably expand or limit the rights of Christians, too. If Muslim preachers who denounce gays must be silenced, then so must charismatic Christians. At the same time, any laws that limit blasphemous assaults on the image of Mohammed must take account of the sensibilities of those who venerate Jesus.

The result has been a rediscovery of the continent's Christian roots, even among those who have long disregarded it, and a renewed sense of European cultural Christianity. Jurgen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, "Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter." Europe may be confronting the dilemmas of a truly multifaith society, but with Christianity poised for a comeback, it is hardly on the verge of becoming an Islamic colony.


British Immigration restrictions to fall on non-Europeans?

For years the baleful shade of Enoch Powell silenced debate about immigration numbers, however rational. Playing the numbers game, as it was called, was always associated with the even more shameful misdemeanour of playing the race card. As recently as November 2003, David Blunkett as home secretary blithely announced that he could not see the need for a limit on immigrants, nor did he think there was a maximum number of people that could be housed in this country. This astonishingly silly comment passed almost without protest; it was expressing the unthinking orthodoxy of the day. It was fortunate perhaps that Blunkett and the government believed that numbers didn't matter, since they hadn't the slightest idea what the numbers were.

The director of enforcement and removals at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate admitted last year that he had not "the faintest idea" how many illegal immigrants were living here. Not only has the government lost control of this country's boundaries; until recently it didn't think that mattered. How quickly things change in politics. Now even the most right-on Labour figures are playing the numbers game, with the race card up their sleeves. Last month Margaret "Enver" Hodge appeared to be doing just that with her announcement that indigenous people in her constituency of Barking felt justly aggrieved that they could not get council housing, while recent immigrants could. They had indeed "a legitimate sense of entitlement" that should not be overridden by new immigrants. The wind was clearly changing.

Sure enough, last week numbers became mentionable again, officially. Ruth Kelly, the minister for communities and local government, issued a startling report by the Commission on Integration and Cohesion. Integration indeed. Until recently integration was a dirty word, almost as sinister as assimilation. This report announced findings that must be startling to anyone who has tried hard to toe the multi-culti line. It says that black and Asian Britons - nearly half of them - think we have let in too many immigrants. Almost 70% of everyone questioned by a Mori poll for the commission thought so, including 47% of Asian and 45% of black respondents. The poll also showed that 56% of respondents believed some groups - mainly immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees - received unfair priority in the allocation of housing, health services and education. Respondents were "very sensitive about freeloading by other groups". At the same time only 36% believe immigration is good for the economy.

It is hard to know what to make of the idiocy of this government, discovering so late in the day the consequences of its wilfully ignorant and undemocratic immigration policies. Nevertheless one should be thankful for small blessings. There are a few. For one thing, because it's now official that so many ethnic minority Britons are worried about immigration, the race card has in effect been torn up and thrown away. One can hardly accuse ethnic minorities of playing it.

Another blessing is that multiculturalism has suddenly and rather sneakily been dumped. Late in the day ministers are discovering what should have been blindingly obvious. The dogma of multiculturalism has made immigration and race relations much more painful and difficult than they need have been. The social policies based on it have kept people in ghettos and bred mistrust and suspicion. So it's as you were, then, with multiculturalism. Now at long last we have integration and cohesion. Let's hope it's not too late to undo some of the damage.

Kelly's report makes some sensible suggestions, none the worse for being ridiculous U-turns. The policy of providing masses of translators and translations for countless languages is to be dumped. It has meant that newcomers are not obliged to learn English, and frequently don't, which means they are unable to integrate even if they wanted to; they can live here deaf and dumb to the rest of us. Good riddance to it.

However, changes such as this, no matter how sensible, fail to address the central question of numbers. It ought always to have been self-evident that numbers matter; to think otherwise is to believe that a raft will never sink no matter how many people clamber onto it. Of course immigration is to be welcomed, or at least tolerated. Of course immigrants have done great things for this country. Of course there is a moral argument for rich people in favour of taking in poorer foreigners. And of course asylum seekers deserve asylum. All the same, this small and populous country cannot possibly accept the many millions who would like to come here.

This government, or its successor, ought to be bold enough to consider openly what might be the optimum number of people living here - or at least the number beyond which more would be intolerable. Some think we have already reached it, to judge from letters to this paper last week about housing. Most do not, but some day we certainly will, unless immigration is brought under civilised and thoughtful control.

No one would wish to turn away genuine asylum seekers. No one can turn away migrants from the European Union, whether we wish to or not. The result is that we already have far more prospective immigrants than we could hope to accommodate.

The number of genuine asylum seekers is limitless and the number of EU migrants, with incontestable rights to settle here, is as good as limitless. Surely it follows that the group that morally or legally has less right to come here is therefore the immigrants who are neither EU nationals nor spouses of Britons. So, no immigrants except asylum seekers and Europeans?

There is nothing racist about this suggestion; plenty of Europeans, and most asylum seekers, are of non-European ethnic antecedents. There are Moroccan Frenchwomen or Indonesian Dutchmen; Europe has become a melting pot. Certain exceptions could be made, as ever, for immigrants who would bring exceptional wealth or skills with them. It is, at the very least, time for the government to talk openly and fearlessly about numbers.


Australia: His Eminence hits back at attempts to silence him

THE Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, has criticised "intolerant parliamentarians" for trying to stifle the right of religions to speak out on ethical matters. Cardinal Pell singled out the Greens MP Lee Rhiannon for seeking to limit the say of the churches. "I'm not sure that Lee Rhiannon could be characterised as particularly tolerant or sympathetic to Christian religions," he said. "I think she has a considerable history in that area. I don't have chapter and verse but my office does." Cardinal Pell said he expected his right to lobby MPs on a bill that aims to overturn the ban on embryonic stem cell research would be upheld by State Parliament's privileges committee. It is investigating whether his warning to Catholic MPs that a vote for the bill would have consequences for their position in church life constituted contempt of Parliament.

Speaking at an inter-faith conference , Cardinal Pell said the principle of the separation of church and state was not intended to silence religious leaders but to protect clerics like himself from "interfering government and over-enthusiastic parliamentarians". A small minority of commentators and intolerant MPs wanted to delegitimise the public expression of religious views, he said. "None of us as religious people should co-operate with that or oblige them in any way. We must insist on our right of expression of public views." Cardinal Pell said he would continue his lobbying efforts when the bill reaches the upper house later this month.

James Haire, from the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, defended the right of religions to involve themselves in politics. Professor Haire said privatising religion to the nave, the temple or the cloister was a foolish and futile way of dealing with the variety of legitimate views held by people of faith.

Ms Rhiannon defended her right to comment and criticise. "I've consistently said Cardinal Pell has a right to participate in debate but he did cross the line when he used people's religious life as a point of leverage to gain support for a no vote in the stem cell bill," she said. "In singling me out he is failing to recognise there was much stronger criticism from cabinet. In referring his comments to the privileges committee we've had an outcome. "Cardinal Pell is learning there [are] boundaries in the way he conducts himself."



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

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

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


19 June, 2007

Massachusetts politicians diss the people

Referendum on homosexual marriage blocked. The people are too ignorant and bigoted to be allowed a say, apparently

If there's one thing Beacon Hill Democrats can't stand, it's democracy. What happened to all their phony polls on the gay marriage question? I thought the gays were going to win, and that, as one story put it right, "political support in Massachusetts is swinging firmly behind gay marriage."

So why did the homosexuals spend more than a million bucks making sure they wouldn't have to win that fight at the ballot box in November 2008? A few years ago this same crowd was hissing that government had no right to say who could get hitched to whom. Now that they're calling the shots, they love having the government push everybody else around

So now 17,000 homosexuals won't have their "marriages" invalidated - not that anyone was planning to do that anyway, but never mind the facts. But what about the 170,000 people who signed the petitions to give the people the right to make the decision to . . . change, shall we say, the traditional meaning of marriage? I guess those 170,000 just aren't Beautiful People.

The people used to put referendum questions on the ballot, and if the measures passed, the Legislature enforced the new laws. Then, about 10 years ago, the solons got high-handed - the referendum questions were still allowed on the ballot, but once they were passed, the General Court felt free to ignore the people's mandate. Now, after yesterday's Flag Day fiasco, it appears we are no longer allowed to vote on questions that might offend the Politically Correct.

Not that yesterday's events were a big surprise. Two key events indicated which way the wind was blowing - No. 1, the leadership allowed no debate. If the vote had really been as close as the homosexuals were spinning it, they'd have wanted the opportunity to change a few minds. The second indication it was a done deal: Mitt Romney was nowhere to be seen. Don't you think he would have returned to take a victory lap if there was even the slightest possibility the measure was going to pass?

More here

BBC bias admitted -- some of it, anyway

THE BBC is institutionally biased, an official report will conclude this week. The year-long investigation, commissioned by the BBC, has found the corporation particularly partial in its treatment of single-issue politics such as climate change, poverty, race and religion. It concludes that the bias has extended across drama, comedy and entertainment, with the corporation pandering to politically motivated celebrities and trendy causes.

Singled out is the coverage of Bob Geldof's Live 8 concert and the Make Poverty History campaign. The report says there was no rounded debate of the issues. The report also raises serious concerns about accompanying programmes, including a drama by the writer Richard Curtis and the finale of his Vicar of Dibley where Dawn French shows a minute-long clip of the Make Poverty History video.

The report points to the danger of BBC programmes being undermined by the liberal culture of its staff, who need to challenge their own assumptions more. "There is a tendency to `group think' with too many staff inhabiting a shared space and comfort zone," says the report. It goes on to highlight a "Roneo mentality" where staff ape each other's common liberal values.

The report has been approved by a steering group led by Richard Tait, a BBC trustee and former editor-in-chief at ITN. Its members also include Mark Byford, the BBC's deputy director-general, Helen Boaden, head of BBC News, and Alan Yentob, the creative director.

Although its coverage of conventional politics is judged to be fair and impartial, the inquiry says the BBC allowed itself to be hijacked by Geldof, the U2 singer Bono, and Curtis, who urged Tony Blair to pressure world leaders to alleviate poverty in developing countries. Even before the BBC cleared its schedules to cover the Live 8 concert from Hyde Park - which coincided with the G8 Gleneagles summit in 2005 - the report points out that it broadcast a related drama by Curtis called The Girl in the Cafe. It featured Bill Nighy as a shy civil servant who falls in love with an antipoverty campaigner and takes her to a summit in Iceland where she makes an impassioned plea to world leaders. Gordon Brown, the chancellor, saw the film before it was shown on BBC1.

After the BBC broadcast a week of programmes to highlight poverty in Africa and a day celebrating the National Health Service, Adam Boulton, political editor of Sky News, told a House of Lords select committee the BBC's coverage came dangerously close to peddling government propaganda. The programmes came at a time when the BBC was negotiating a new royal charter with ministers.

The document, jointly commissioned by BBC managers and the board of governors, now replaced by the BBC Trust, includes details of a staff impartiality seminar at which senior figures criticised the corporation for being antiAmerican and pandering to Islam.

Criticisms highlighted from the seminar include: A senior BBC reporter attacking the corporation for giving "no moral weight" to America. Executives admitting they would broadcast images of a Bible being thrown away - but not the Koran for fear of offending Muslims. The BBC deliberately championing multiculturalism and ethnic minorities, while betraying an anticountryside bias.

Mary Fitzpatrick, the BBC's "diversity czar", told the seminar Muslim women newsreaders should be allowed to wear the hijab, or headscarf, on screen. Fitzpatrick spoke out after criticism over Fiona Bruce's decision to wear a necklace with a cross while reading the news.

The report's findings come in the wake of a separate independent review of the BBC's business coverage which two weeks ago accused the broadcaster of lapses in impartiality because of its desire to popularise corporate stories. It singled out an interview with Bill Gates on the 10 O'Clock News as "sycophantic".


'Tough love' plan for Australian black communities

ABORIGINAL families would be stripped of welfare payments if their children are abused or miss school under a plan by indigenous leader Noel Pearson to make benefits conditional on behaviour. Payments would also be withheld if public housing was damaged or rent not paid, or if people were found guilty of domestic violence.

In the most far-reaching reforms ever outlined for Aboriginal communities, Mr Pearson recommends a community-based authority be established with enough powers to withhold welfare entitlements.

Just days after a landmark report found sexual abuse was rife throughout indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, Mr Pearson's Cape York Institute has called for all welfare payments to be conditional as part of a program to rebuild "social norms". The blueprint, From Hand Out to Hand Up, a copy of which has been obtained by The Australian, is expected to be released within days. Financed by the Federal Government, it lays out a series of "obligations" that indigenous families would have to meet in order to receive full welfare entitlements, such as Newstart and Community Development Employment Project allowances. The report places better education outcomes at the heart of a push to improve Aboriginal self-sufficiency and remove the last vestiges of a "passive welfare" culture.

Mr Pearson, whose template to wean indigenous people off welfare has been criticised by some Aboriginal leaders, recommends that family payments be halted if three unexplained absences are recorded by a child during a school year. To ensure children are not left destitute as a result, payments would be redirected to a responsible adult within the community. They would then ensure the child was properly cared for. Entitlements could also be withheld when children were found to have been neglected or when parents knowingly allowed abuse to occur.

With alcoholism and drug-taking rife in some indigenous communities, the report recommends people be stripped of their benefit rights if they commit offences involving alcohol, drugs, gambling or domestic violence. And a month after the federal Budget placed a new premium on private housing for indigenous communities, the report says adults must abide by public housing tenancy agreements. Payments would be stopped if people were found guilty of using their homes for illegal purposes, if they damaged the houses or if rent were not paid.

In order to police the new approach, the report recommends a statutory authority - the Families Responsibilities Commission - be established and granted sweeping powers. The institute suggests that the FRC be chaired by a former magistrate - to give it the "gravitas and stature of a Crown body" - and be given a series of options for dealing with transgressions. For minor offences, a warning could be issued. But more serious - or recurring - offences would see the FRC step in and order payments be stopped.

The recommendations will be a challenge for the Coalition and the Labor Party ahead of the election. A series of senior ministers have in the past backed the thrust of Mr Pearson's "tough love" approach to reform, but it is far from certain that the Coalition will endorse his new recommendations, which would require significant changes to social security laws.

In a searing assessment of life in Cape York, which has four main indigenous communities, the institute says a welfare "pedestal" exists. This encourages people to obtain welfare and remain on it, "despite employment or education opportunities being available in or near communities". "The goal of policy solutions to address the pedestal is to see individuals come off welfare (or not enter welfare) and join the real economy or undertake education and training opportunities," the report says.

Mr Pearson has over the past decade led debate on the need for reform, but his often uncompromising approach has raised hackles within sections of the indigenous community.



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

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

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


18 June, 2007

EU to ignore the voters

The voters are just ignorant nationalists and racists, you see

When the EU constitution went belly-up two years ago, having been decisively rejected by the voters of the Netherlands and France, wise heads predicted that this would not be the last we would hear of it. Those two referendum defeats were a catastrophic setback for the political elites of Europe, who were gung-ho for the creation of a single European superstate which the constitution would have brought formally into being. They fondly believed that, just as they had done since the dawn of the EU project, they could bamboozle the public into voting `yes' to the constitution by telling a pack of lies designed to conceal its far-reaching nature. To their astonishment and horror, however, the Dutch and the French saw through the spin and said `no', thus stopping the EU juggernaut in its tracks.

But while Tony Blair and other European leaders publicly intoned the death rites of the constitution, they were simultaneously plotting how they might reintroduce it and bypass the voters' right of veto altogether. Now we can see that their ruse is to re-introduce more or less the same constitution but declare it is not a constitution at all. Call it a `treaty' instead and hey presto, there is no need to have the referendum promised for the constitution. This is the Lewis Carroll school of politics.

The proposal for a `constitution-lite' has been floated by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. At the end of last week's G8 summit the new French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, announced that he and Tony Blair had also agreed the `framework of a simplified treaty'. `That is quite something,' he said. Such a conspiracy by M. Sarkozy, Frau Merkel and Mr Blair to deceive their respective voters certainly is `quite something' indeed.

According to the British Government, what is being proposed is merely an `amending treaty' and thus doesn't require a referendum. Just who do they expect will be taken in by such transparently disingenuous nonsense? This so- called `amending treaty' will establish a permanent EU president and create a new EU foreign minister. But only states have presidents and foreign ministers.

What would happen if British foreign policy contradicted that of the EU? The answer is that it would not be allowed to do so. We would have signed away our right to have a foreign policy of our own. Some amendment! It will also take away the right of veto by member states on such fundamental issues as criminal justice, policing and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Britain and other member states will thus no longer have the right of self-government in these crucial areas, yielding them up instead to the completely novel entity of an anti- democratic superstate. Some amendment!

The last vestige of doubt that this is the constitution by another name was destroyed by a leaked letter from Frau Merkel to the other EU heads of government, in which she revealed her plan `to use different terminology without changing the legal substance' of the constitution in order to make `the necessary presentational changes'. In other words, it was designed to deceive the European public - and to get round the awkward problem of another set of referendums that would undoubtedly be lost all over again. But the plain fact remains that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it is. a constitution.

Since such a measure would alter fundamentally the relationship between the EU and its member states, public outrage required years ago that it should be put to the people as a whole. That was why the Labour party included the referendum promise in its last two election manifestos. In signing Britain up to this constitutional framework, Mr Blair's last act as Prime Minister will be to betray that promise.

Indeed, it will be a gross abuse of his office if he tries to sign away his country's powers of self-government just as the removal vans are trundling his personal effects out of Downing Street. In this unprecedented interregnum he has no authority to do anything that attempts to tie the hands of his successor, let alone emasculate the very democracy that once elected Mr Blair himself.

The reason for such ruthless behaviour is that for Mr Blair, European integration remains one of the deepest articles of political faith. Anyone who mistakenly thought that he believed in nothing except power for its own sake failed to grasp how passionately he subscribed to the EU's utopian delusions of `ever-closer union' - and how profound was his lack of belief in Britain's ability to go it alone outside the EU's protectionist cartel, and his contempt therefore for the country that he led. He may also want to place Gordon Brown in a bind at the very beginning of the premiership that Mr Blair has done so much to thwart. Mr Brown, after all, will be bound by the same manifesto commitment. If he holds a referendum on the new constitution, he will lose it. If he refuses to hold one, he will be ratting on the manifesto.

But the referendum itself was born of desperation as a last-ditch protection against something that should never have been accepted by democratically elected leaders in the first place. Mr Brown should simply refuse to put this proposal to the British Parliament at all.

The elephant in the room here is the EU itself. It remains the same old Franco-German protection outfit which, mafia-style, is once again making Britain an `offer it cannot refuse'. It wants Britain to sign up to the new superstate because it is not in its interests to have Britain outside, where it would enjoy so many advantages over sclerotic Europe. That's why it is so important for France and Germany that we are on board - and so vital for us that we are not.

On this, as on so many things, Gordon Brown is still an unknown quantity. He is said to be a Eurosceptic; but until now, he has shown precious little sign of acknowledging the already profound erosion by the EU of our powers of self-government beyond opposing the relatively narrow issue of the single currency and other economic measures. If he goes along with the ` constitution-lite' he will be making a terrible mistake. This kind of dishonest spin is precisely what Mr Brown is supposed to be consigning to history. What's more, the governmental impotence already inflicted upon us by the EU is one of the most important reasons for popular disaffection with politics.

For years, voters have been told that to be against the EU is to be against progress. The truth, however, is that the EU is a failed, backward-looking project whose days are numbered. It must eventually implode under the pressure of its own fundamental contradictions. The rejection of the constitution by the peoples of Europe should not give rise to yet another attempt to pull the wool over their eyes. It should instead trigger a rethink of the proper relationship between them - the development of a looser association of nation-states rather than the final realisation of an anti- democratic nightmare. It is a golden opportunity for a statesman with vision to lead Europe in a new and truly progressive direction. Mr Brown is seeking a way to draw a line under Blairism. This is it.


Has Maryland School Board Found "Gay Gene"?

New Curriculum Claims Homosexuality Inborn, but Produces No Evidence

The Montgomery County School Board has recently approved a new sex education curriculum for public schools. The curriculum teaches that homosexuality is caused by a specific "gay gene." In response to the school board's decision, Parents and Friends of ExGays and Gays (PFOX) released the following statement:

"According to the American Psychiatric Association, there are no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological cause for homosexuality. But now the Montgomery County Board of Education has done what science and medicine could not do by declaring in its newly approved curriculum that homosexuality is `innate' or inborn. The board could not produce any factual evidence for what it will now teach students-only political `pledges' and payoffs for last year's school board elections as claimed by gay rights activists."

PFOX, Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum and Family Leader Network filed a court appeal of the curriculum, pointing out "factual inaccuracies and violations of state and federal law". Order of Maryland State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick stated that the Maryland Board of Education would decide in July whether the education material was legally suitable. Before the final decision, however, the Maryland school board accepted the new material.

PFOX calls this action a sign of the board's "bias" and "ignorance", stating, "The local board's action in adopting a final curriculum without waiting for the state board's decision as to the legality of that curriculum tramples on the rights of parents and violates the intent of the Superintendent's Order."

The new curriculum does not instruct children how to deal with ex-gays. PFOX comments that ex-gays are "a group that is the object of harassment encouraged by Montgomery County public school staff and students, a fact which the Montgomery County Board of Education does not deny." In fact, supported by Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) student clubs, many schools tried to oppose PFOX from encouraging tolerance of ex-gays in public high schools.

In Winston Churchill High School, for example, students labeled "PFOX" on school garbage cans so that students would throw out PFOX pamphlets supporting ex-gay tolerance. The school principal, Dr. Joan Benz, stood guard over a can in support of the anti-ExGay protest. In Wootten High School, a gay teacher, "warned PFOX to stay out of the public schools, compared sexual preference to African-Americans' skin color, and also compared PFOX to the Ku Klux Klan."

The PFOX press release states, "This discriminatory treatment is not corrected by the curriculum on teaching tolerance for sexual orientation because former homosexuals are not included in the curriculum. Why did the Board approve a curriculum that is supposed to teach respect for diverse sexual orientations when it excludes former homosexuals-the only sexual orientation that is subject to intolerance by both students and teachers?"


The unhinged Left in Australia

By Andrew Bolt

I WENT to Doctor S yesterday up at the Epworth and said I was in strife. That much I know is true. Something was wrong with my vision, I said. I wasn't seeing things as they surely must be if all was well. And that's true, too. Please tell me all I need is the long holiday I'm going on this very week, I pleaded. But Dr S rules out stress. So the awful suspicion grows that there's nothing wrong with my vision and the unbelievable things I've been seeing are all true, as well. How frightening.

For a start, I this week read - or thought I read - a United Nations Environment Program manual, which insisted the real problem with Zimbabwe was not that it was ground so deep in the dirt by its brutal leader that it was short of food, work and even power. No, it was simply growing too fast. "Zimbabwe is presently entering a stage of rapid industrialisation and motorisation," the UNEP sighed. "This has resulted in increased air pollution, as well as the increased emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide." Still, I guess the country's huge power blackouts will soon fix that.

But please tell me, dear reader, that it's just my eyes letting me down. Can such madness really be? Not all the odd things I'm seeing are so serious. Take Dust, a book the ABC has published with the sole purpose, it seems, of making happy children very sad. Again I thought I must have gone cross-eyed because no publicist could sell a children's book like this:

"In a perfect world, this book would not exist. But we do not live in a perfect world. At any given moment of any given day, there are people dying from natural disasters over which we have no control. Beyond natural disasters we add disasters of our own making, but even if we all learn to live in peace, there will still be millions of people who need help."

And no book for children could open with these words of a starved child in Niger: "I died last night." Or end with an image of the Grim Reaper leading black children across a hill littered with skulls. I know this is just a trivial example of those things I see that cannot be, yet like all the others it shows glad being subverted for grim, or foul being hailed as fair, or evil mistaken for good. A world stood on its head.

I first feared my eyes were playing up when I read the diatribe of Amnesty International's chief, Irene Khan, in her latest annual report on the world's worst villainy. She'd singled out just four evildoers by name: in order, our John Howard, the US's George Bush, Sudan's genocidal Field Marshal Omar Al-Bashir and Zimbabwe's brutal Robert Mugabe. I must be reading wrong, right?

Or is it really also true that of all the regimes that crush workers, ban unions and shoot union leaders, our ACTU picked Australia for the International Labor Organisation's shame file of the worst of the worst? Indeed, I heard ACTU president Sharan Burrow on radio, confirming that's exactly what she did. So maybe the problem's affecting my hearing, as well.

After all, yesterday I heard journalist David Marr complain for 15 minutes on the government-funded ABC that this Howard Government was silencing exactly his kind of dissent. What's more, I've witnessed Marr make the same claim on ABC television (twice) and in a new book and huge articles this month in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. If the Government is crushing dissent, what is this Dissenting Marr, this Sydney Solzhenitsyn? Just another of my strange visions? Indeed, Marr even spent a whole session of the government-backed Sydney Writers Festival whingeing along with Clive Hamilton, who so furiously agrees the Government is stifling debate that he's written his own book, Silencing Dissent, one of at least six new tomes this past year that damn dissent-crushing Howard. Whole perches of intellectuals now squawk that they cannot speak in fascist Australia, deafening us with complaints of being silenced, and deaf to irony themselves.

I'd laugh if I wasn't still worrying about my eyes, which cannot see the Australia that all these smart people say festers under my feet. Take retired County Court judge Peter Gebhardt, who this week said he agreed with Fascist America, in 10 easy steps, in which writer Naomi Wolf tells how America supposedly lost its freedoms under Fuhrer Bush. Gebhardt listed some of the ways: "creating a gulag (Guantanamo Bay); developing a thug caste (security contractors); setting up an internal surveillance system; harassing citizens' groups; engaging in arbitrary detention and release; targeting key individuals; controlling the media (arrests of US journalists are at a record level); believing that dissent equals treason; suspending the rule of law . . ." And he warned: "Over the past decade, many of Wolf's 10 steps have been evident in this country . . ."

Gosh, they have? Yet the police state this ex-judge describes resembles nothing remotely like the country I've lived in, and still see today. But you see why I worry. Surely all these intellectuals, so many with important public jobs, cannot all be mad? You might try to cheer me by saying such people see things more gloomily than the rest of us, but up bobs Prof Robert Manne, voted our Most Influential Public Intellectual. Sure, Manne is as convinced as Marr that "debate is presently under threat", but he's also quick to hail a kinder, gentler, more moral society when he's told of one.

Hear barking Manne start to coo when he describes not our own foul society, but the "enchanted world" of Aborigines before whites came: "(Anthropologists have) discovered a world that was filled with economic purpose; leavened by playfulness, joy and humour; soaked in magic, sorcery, mystery and ritual; pregnant at every moment with deep and unquestioned meaning." But still I worry: How could our top intellectual so praise a society in which the strong ruled the weak, infanticide was common, death rates by warfare horrific, life expectancy low and bashing of women - as measured by the fractured skulls since found - astonishingly high?

Is it me? Or is upside now down? Inside out? Maybe it is. Consider . . . We now worship global warming preachers who belch more greenhouse gases from their mansions and private planes than do their disciples. Our richest musicians stage Make Poverty History concerts in which not a dollar is raised for the poor and even the fans get in free. Our politicians say "sorry" for stealing Aboriginal children no one can find or name. The head of Melbourne University Press, formed to publish academic works of the highest quality, now wants to publish the memoirs of al-Qaida recruit and dropout David Hicks. The Sydney Peace Prize is given to a writer who tells us to join the "Iraqi resistance" - now blowing up women and children - because their "battle is our battle".

The Australian Catholic University gives an honorary PhD to Age cartoonist Michael Leunig, who likens Israel to Auschwitz, paints George Bush as the devil, asks us to pray for Osama bin Laden and praises "the music you can hear playing in your toes at night". Our leading historians defend the fashionable untruths they tell about our "genocidal" past by sighing - as did Professor Lyndall Ryan - "Two truths are told. Is only one 'truth' correct?" Marrickville Council, in inner Sydney, decides this month to twin, not with any town in Israel, but with the Palestinian town of Bethlehem, now under the control of Hamas extremists.

On it goes: the artists who take pride in displeasing; the Age columnist who yesterday declared, "I'd be happy with a benevolent socialist dictatorship"; the prominent Leftists, led by the ABC's Phillip Adams, who invite Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez to come here to "inspire" us to be just that; the academics who want to try George Bush, not David Hicks; the immigrants who want Australia to be more like the countries they fled; the discrimination police who entrap Christian pastors, but leave hate-preaching imams well alone; and . . . And? God, it's all true. I'm out of here. Goodbye.



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

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

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


17 June, 2007

Boys to Men: Raising three sons has helped me appreciate the masculine virtues

I like the essay below. It is so different from the know-it-all crap you get from Leftists. My own experience was very different. My father was a hard-hitting but soft-hearted lumberjack and I was a bookworm so he was always afraid that I was not manly enough. We got on well in his later years however and I am pleased that there have been various occasions when I have been able to help my own son through difficult patches. I have however never really thought about whether I am manly or not. The question does not interest me -- though I imagine most people would say I am. I remember once when I was running a boarding house, I threw a druggie through a closed door, so I imagine a fair bit of the lumberjack survives in me. Almost all the time I have simply been content with my life, however, and too bad what others think or don't think of me

I think Father's Day ought not to be a celebration of every man who managed to procreate, but instead a time to honor those increasingly rare men who are actually good at fathering. But what makes a good father? This question holds more than philosophical interest for me. Though my father left when I was young, and my stepfather found me uninteresting, I now have three sons of my own (ages 7, 5 and 2). Not knowing any better, they think I have fatherhood figured out. They believe Father's Day is rightly my day.

Judging by the greeting cards, Father's Day is like a Sabbath for many men, a day Dad puts his feet up. I think the Almighty was able to rest one day a week because he had just the two kids, only one of whom was male. I could really use a restful Father's Day, but recently I found my sons huddled over a book on traps, which makes me fear that they're planning for my gift to be something live. Already this spring they've captured a snake, a bullfrog and at least one deadly spider. While other men think about golfing or napping tomorrow, I'm praying I can weather the day without getting bitten.

There's more than a little irony in the fact that I have three sons. I'm not what you'd call a master of the manly arts. I can't start a fire without a match, or track a deer, or ride a horse. I don't know how to fix cars, and my infrequent forays into home repair usually necessitate medical attention. But these are the things little boys want to learn--I remember wanting to learn them myself. Or maybe it's that boys yearn to do things with fathers, and those things usually involve a little danger. A new wildly popular book of essential boy knowledge recognizes this in its title: "The Dangerous Book for Boys." My oldest has dog-eared nearly every page.

I'm allergic to most danger. I get a stomachache at the thought of confrontation. I'm grouchy and self-centered, and have few of the traits that William McKeever, in his curmudgeonly 1913 classic, "Training the Boy," considered essential to manhood: "courageous action in the face of trying circumstances, cordial sympathy and helpfulness in all dealings with others, and a sane disposition toward the Ruler of All Life." I'm hardly qualified to be a role-model for three boys.

Many academics would consider my lack of manliness a good thing. They regard boys as thugs-in-training, caught up in a patriarchal society that demeans women. In the 1990s the American Association of University Women (among others) positioned boys as the enemies of female progress (something Christina Hoff Sommers exposed in her book, "The War Against Boys"). But the latest trend is to depict boys as themselves victims of a testosterone-infected culture. In their book "Raising Cain," for example, the child psychologists Don Kindlon and Michael Thompson warn parents against a "culture of cruelty" among boys. Forget math, science and throwing a ball, they suggest--what your boy most needs to learn is emotional literacy.

But I can't shake the sense that boys are supposed to become manly. Rather than neutering their aggression, confidence and desire for danger, we should channel these instincts into honor, gentlemanliness and courage. Instead of inculcating timidity in our sons, it seems wiser to train them to face down bullies, which by necessity means teaching them how to throw a good uppercut. In his book "Manliness," Harvey Mansfield writes that a person manifesting this quality "not only knows what justice requires, but he acts on his knowledge, making and executing the decision that the rest of us trembled even to define." You can't build a civilization and defend it against barbarians, fascists and playground bullies, in other words, with a nation of Phil Donahues.

Maybe the problem isn't that boys are aggressive, but that we've neglected their moral education. As Teddy Roosevelt wrote to one of his sons: "I would rather have a boy of mine stand high in his studies than high in athletics, but I would a great deal rather have him show true manliness of character than show either intellectual or physical prowess." Manliness, then, is not the ability to survive in the wilderness, or wield a rifle. But having such skills increases the odds that one's manly actions--which Roosevelt and others believed flow from a moral quality--will be successful.

The good father, then, needs to nurture his son's moral and spiritual core, and equip him with the skills he'll need to act on the moral impulse that we call courage. A real man, in other words, is someone who doesn't run from an Osama bin Laden. But he may also need the ability to hit a target from three miles out with a .50 caliber M88 if he wants to finish the job.

Not only do I believe that trying to take the wildness out of boys is a doomed social experiment, but I'm certain that genetic scientists will eventually discover that males carry the Cowboy Gene. That's my name for whatever is responsible for all the wrestling in my house, and the dunking during bath time, and my 5-year-old's insistence on wearing his silver six-shooters to Wal-Mart in order to protect our grocery cart. I only pray that when the Cowboy Gene is discovered, some well-meaning utopian doesn't try to transform it into a Tea Party Gene.

The trick is not to squash the essence of boys, but to channel their natural wildness into manliness. And this is what keeps me awake at night, because it's going to take a miracle for someone like me, who grew up without meaningful male influence, who would be an embarrassment to Teddy Roosevelt, to raise three men. Along with learning what makes a good father, I face an added dilemma: How do I raise my sons to be better than their father?

What I'm discovering is that as I try to guide these ornery, wild-hearted little boys toward manhood, they are helping me become a better man, too. I love my sons without measure, and I want them to have the father I did not. As I stumble and sometimes fail, as I feign an interest in camping and construction and bugs, I become something better than I was.

Father's Day, in our house, won't entail golfing or napping or watching a game. I'll probably have to contend with some trapped and irritated reptile. There's that cannon made of PVC that my oldest boy has been pestering me to help him finish. And the youngest two boys are lately enamored of climbing onto furniture and blindsiding me with flying tackles. Father's Day is going to be exhausting. But it will be good, because in the midst of these trials and joys I find my answer to the essential question on Father's Day. What makes a good father? My sons.


A "moderate" Islam would not be Islamic

Faithful Muslims believe that sovereignty belongs to Allah. They believe the only important "constitution" is the Quran, and before allegiance to a nation comes fidelity to Allah. Islam of all sects demands obedience to Islamic law, not the laws of men or political institutions. A Muslim will never abide by an oath of office when Islamic principles are at stake. When they swear an oath on the Quran, it is to show Islamic supremacy, not to prove they are telling the truth. Please understand that Islamic principles cover every conceivable action and interaction of people living under Islamic law.

"It is not fitting for a Muslim man or woman to have any choice in their affairs when a matter has been decided for them by Allah and His Messenger. They have no option." Qur'an 33:36

So our Constitution and even State and local laws are essentially meaningless to a Muslim, and the Bill of Rights, once its usefulness as a means to perpetuate Islam in America is no longer necessary, will certainly be disparaged and ignored.

In fact, Islam is incompatible with democracy and subversive of the way of life that blesses this nation. It is fascist and evil by its very definition. Thus, it is imperative that we fight Islamofascisim with the same determination that we fought other enemies of freedom such as Nazism , Fascism, and Communism. And that imperative starts with our lawmakers constitutionally reevaluating the definition of religion. Islam must be curbed or it will curb us.

How are Islamists taking control? They do it first by establishing Mosques in every town and city. These meeting places are perfect warehouses of not only indoctrination, but future terrorists, who are made to read and understand the principles of Jihad, martyrdom and Dar ul Harb ("land of war"-anyplace not Islamacized.) Mosques cost money, and the money for these warehouses of hate is coming straight from Saudi Arabia . These mosques are being infused with an activist strain of Islam, Wahabism. If you have to ask where the Saudi's are getting their money, you are not paying attention...its coming from you. According to a National Portrait, a survey released in April 2001, there are at least 1,209 of mosques in the US and numbers are increasing.

Mosque elders tend to be sent to the US with one clear mission: Make Islamic religion, laws, and life supreme within the United States, using any and all tactics necessary. Next, from within the safety of their local mosques, they begin to use their revolting practices, riotous youth, and wild sermonizing to force the genteel Americans to relocate to safer, less threatening neighborhoods and cities. Of course, not all Americans will move or can afford to do so. And to take control of a town, Muslims will not need to evict everyone. They probably need about 25% in order to make life very unpleasant for those who do not go along with their demands.

They will elect Muslims to all positions of local influence, who will create and enforce policy according to the Quran. Once they have control over a town, they will begin to establish informal Sharia, and there's nothing the government can (or will want to) do about it. Sharia is the brutal means by which Islam controls its populations by force, intimidation, and punishments for offenses to Allah. Already in many European countries, national governments have out of fear, given Islamic fascists the right to establish their own shadow governments within the borders of countries like Sweden and England, where they can control their own populations without accountability. Proposals for Sharia are being taken seriously by Canada.

This is an admission that Islam is not just a religion. It is a cult. It seeks total control over a person's mind and body. And, as such, our Constitution is totally incompatible with it. They will push politicians for local control and self-determination of their own laws. In this way, America will become two nations; a weakened traditional one, and a growing, menacing Islamacized one.

At the same time, Muslims will ally with Leftist politicians who will gladly cede some of their power to this group of enforcers, so conservative politicians and Christians who advocate self defense and sane social policies are kept out of office. Money that was once used to build mosques will now be used to buy politicians. On university campuses, Islam will be portrayed as righteous and peaceful, while Christianity will be associated with evil Western and American values. The rebellious American youth will eat it up.

There will be increasing local and regional incidents of crimes and threats against Christians, Jews, and anybody who speaks out against the religion of hate. Terrorism is a completely legitimate tool of Islam, and was widely practiced and advocated by Muhammad. Remember, all words in the Quran are perfect, immutable laws defining an eternal ethic:

"Against them (the unbelievers) make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly." Quran 8.06.

Leftist politicians will continue to hold the Bill of Rights over anyone who dares to accuse this religion of wrongdoing. While crime and threats skyrocket, Islamacized citizens will ignore the wrongdoing, just like in Iraq. They will look the other way for fear of retribution, honor killings, and punishments from those who uphold the Islamic requirement to seek revenge on anyone who dishonors or disagrees with Islam.

Eventually, America will become weakened and politicians will allow the Muslims to do whatever they want, as long as the infidels are allowed to be free of terrorist threats. As Christianity wanes, people will reject it as an anachronism that is irrelevant to modern trends. Islamic ethics will prevail and Muslim sects will gain members, money, and influence. As government policies lean toward Islamic ideals, the Bill of Rights will be seen as archaic and out of touch with contemporary values and the new direction of the country. It will be just a piece of parchment in a museum, lacking anyone who would so bold and revolutionary as to fight against a religion, even a religion of hate.

The first problem is that we don't have centuries to wait for reform. But more to the point, Islam does not tolerate revisionism in its beliefs or practices over time. Reform is not at play, because one cannot point to Jihadists or terrorists and say Muhammad did not advocate it. He most certainly did, and he delighted in his evil thoughts.

Islam is a literal religion, taking unabrogated scripture as eternal and absolute. There are specific prescriptions for "an eye for an eye", eternal warfare, religious hegemony, slavery, killing Jews, taxing nonbelievers, stoning, promulgating terror, establishing a caste social system, and the perpetuating discrimination against women. The only way to reform it is to censor vast sections of the Quran and Hadith, which would be absurd.

This is why there is truly no such thing as a "moderate" Muslim. Moderate Muslims or in other words "non-practicing Muslims", like millions of Iranians, are Muslims by default, who were born into a faith they did not choose, a faith that was "inflicted" upon them by invaders of a foreign culture, a faith that forbids them to leave or revert to their pre-Islamic heritage and religions. Therefore, vast majority of Iranians remain Muslims in name only.

The other type of moderate Muslim is the "ignorant" Muslim who does not understand the Qur'anic "requirement" to wage war and submit to the Sharia, thereby "unknowingly" violating Qur'anic law. This latter type of Muslim is found in the rest of the Muslim countries. Hence, there is no such thing as "radical Islam", since by its true definition Islam is nothing but radical. Those who espouse a "liberal" view of Islam should be forced to back up their nouveau interpretation with unabrogated scriptural facts. Unless such would-be "reformists" can categorically denounce Islamofascisim based on sound evidence from the Qur'an, they prove to be the true radicals, which is why we never see the Islamic apologists point to scriptural arguments against jihad. They simply cannot, because there is none, and they simply disguise and distort the truth.

The terrorists are not radicals from their interpretation of their doctrine ...they are only doing exactly what Muhammad demanded of them, and his demands were not suggestions and they where not ephemeral. They were "perfect", eternal ultimata. The terrorist are faithful and true to what is written in the holy Qur'an. A Muslim is forbidden to think critically about the Qur'an. He must blindly obey it and accept it passively and should memorize all of it. Being thus filled with the spirit of Islam (literally meaning "submission"), he instinctively walks in accordance with Allah's law in his daily life in a state of disempowered stupor.

It would be wonderful to believe that if only a quiet reform could mend the hearts of Muslims, and that much of their sacred writings could be overlooked and forgotten, or perhaps just re-interpreted, then all of the Islamic world could join the community of modern, civilized humankind. Unfortunately, this plan can never work. It might work for a while, but then some Muslims might take to reading, and the whole jihad, terror, coercion, Sharia trend would start over. You cannot reform that which is central to a religion. Regrettably, a vast ignorance prevails in this sphere. Academic pundits, leftist journalists, and hired Islamic apologists, useful idiots, proclaim that Islam is a religion of peace and that the great majority of Muslims are not party to any plans and actions of the radicals.

So how do we stop this sequence of events? How can our government, which has so effectively protected the rights of peaceful religions, protect us from an aggressive one? America, with a long history of protecting religious freedom, still clings to the "hands off" practice of leaving alone any doctrine or practice billed as a religion. Deciding what constitutes a religion and who is to make that call is a thorny problem. The dictionary supplies a sociologically useless definition of religion: "The expression of man's belief in and reverence for a superhuman power recognized as the creator and governor of the universe." Just about anyone or any group under this definition can start a religion, and they indeed do-and some do so at a significant cost to others.

Perhaps it is time to realize that not all religions are the same. If a religion is does not recognize constitutional rights for others, does it lose its rights under First Amendment protections? If it seeks to control all aspects of your life by force and fraud; if it seeks exemption from national laws protecting constitutional rights, then it must not be considered a religion. It must be called something else, and it cannot be recognized as a protected ideology under the First Amendment.

"O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guides not a people unjust." Quran 5:51

"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Bible (Matthew 5:44)

Any religion that seeks to create its own governance and its own legal system and seeks to mobilize its own militia is itself not interested in separation of church and State, and has no right to use that separation to create hegemony. In fact, such a doctrine is not even a religion at all. It is a totalitarian regime, and must be considered the enemy of everything Americans believe in.

I'd welcome an inspection of other religions to determine if they are truly peaceful, and I am confident all other doctrines will remain protected and unaffected, because religions are by definition peaceful. There is only one faith which seeks global hegemony for a seamless church-state government and imposition of its law everywhere.


The fury that wasn't

Once again it seems that black racism is OK. Read the indulgent story below and imagine how different the article would have been if a black administrator had been similarly treated by predominantly white schools

Michelle Rhee heard the chatter 15 years ago, that as a Korean-American she doesn't belong teaching in an all-black school. So it will come as little surprise, she acknowledged, if similar criticism is leveled against her as chancellor of the predominately black D.C. Public Schools.

But Rhee, mother of two elementary school-age daughters, said parents everywhere have the same aspirations for their children to receive the best instruction and succeed. "When I taught in Baltimore, when I first showed up I would say the community there was a little taken aback to see a Korean woman in their schools, which were 100 percent African-American," she said Tuesday, referring to her three-year stint at the Harlem Park Community School. "But very quickly that community realized I was singularly focused on ensuring that their kids have the best opportunities in life and I would focus on the academic achievement of those kids. So they very quickly got over the differences in the color of our skin and they focused on that. And I believe it's just a matter of time before that dynamic takes place here in the District."

Mayor Adrian Fenty chose the 37-year-old, who founded a nonprofit teacher-training organization, to manage the day-to-day operations of a 55,000-student school system that is 85 percent black. She is the city's first non-black school leader in decades. As the mayor and his aides looked for their first chancellor, Fenty said, there was one prerequisite, "that we hire the best person we could find for the job."

Questions about Rhee should focus on her experience, or lack thereof, former Northeast Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Kathy Henderson said. She spent 10 years as a nonprofit chief executive officer and three years as a teacher, but no time running a school system. But the race issue is sure to crop up, Henderson said - unfortunately. "We are in many ways a city still polarized by race and disparity, and you see that most poignantly in the school system," she said.



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

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

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


16 June, 2007

Islam: the questions which must be answered

The readiness to take offence is a sign of the deep-down insecurity of the Muslim psyche in the modern world, writes Roger Scruton

The term "Islamofascism" was introduced by the French writer Maxine Rodinson (1915-2004) to describe the Iranian Revolution of 1978. Rodinson was a Marxist, who described as "fascist" any movement of which he disapproved. But we should be grateful to him for coining a word that enables people on the left to denounce our common enemy. After all, other French leftists - Michel Foucault, for example - had welcomed the revolution as an amusing threat to Western interests. It is only now that people on the left can acknowledge that they are just as much a target as the rest of us, in a war that has global chaos as its goal. The word has therefore caught on, not least because it provides a convenient way of announcing that you are not against Islam but only against its perversion by the terrorists. But this prompts the question whether terrorism is really as alien to Islam as we should all like to believe.

Despite his communist sympathies, Rodinson was a peaceful soul, who spent seven years teaching in a Muslim school in Lebanon and wrote a biography of Muhammad in which the prophet is portrayed as a mild-mannered campaigner for social justice. But this biography was denounced by the Egyptian authorities as an offence to Islam, was withdrawn from the curriculum of the American University in Cairo, and has ever since been banned in Muslim countries. This readiness to take offence is not yet terrorism - but it is a sign of the deep-down insecurity of the Muslim psyche in the modern world.

In the presence of Islam, we all feel, you have to tread carefully, as though humouring a dangerous animal. The Koran must never be questioned; Islam must be described as a religion of peace - isn't that the meaning of the word? - and jokes about the prophet are an absolute no-no. If religion comes up in conversation, best to slip quietly away, accompanying your departure with abject apologies for the Crusades. In Europe this pussyfooting is now being transcribed into law, with "Islamophobia" already a crime in Belgium and movements across the continent to censor everything at which a Muslim might take offence, including articles like this one.

The majority of European Muslims do not approve of terrorism. But there are majorities and majorities. According to a recent poll, a full quarter of British Muslims believe that the bombs of July 7, 2005, in London were a legitimate response to the "war on terror".

Public pronouncements from Muslim leaders treat Islamist terrorism as a lamentable but understandable response to the West's misguided policies. And the blood-curdling utterances of the Wahhabite clergy, when occasionally reported in the press, sit uneasily with the idea of a "religion of peace". All this leads to a certain scepticism among ordinary people, whose "racist" or "xenophobic" prejudices are denounced by the media as the real cause of Muslim disaffection.

Now of course it is wrong to give gratuitous offence to people of other faiths; it is right to respect people's beliefs, when these beliefs pose no threat to civil order; and we should extend toward resident Muslims all the toleration and neighbourly goodwill that we hope to receive from them. But recent events have caused people to wonder exactly where Muslims stand in such matters. Although Islam is derived from the same root as salaam, it does not mean peace but submission.

Although the Koran tells us that there shall be no compulsion in matters of religion, it does not overflow with kindness toward those who refuse to submit to God's will. The best they can hope for is to be protected by a treaty (dhimmah), and the privileges of the dhimmi are purchased by onerous taxation and humiliating rites of subservience.

As for apostates, it remains as dangerous today as it was in the time of the prophet publicly to renounce the Muslim faith. Even if you cannot be compelled to adopt the faith, you can certainly be compelled to retain it. The anger with which public Muslims greet any attempt to challenge, to ridicule or to marginalise their faith is every bit as ferocious as that which animated the murderer of the Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh.

Ordinary Christians, who suffer a daily diet of ridicule and scepticism, cannot help feeling that Muslims protest too much, and that the wounds, which they ostentatiously display to the world, are largely self-inflicted. To recognise such facts is not to give up hope for a tolerant Islam. But there is a matter that needs to be clarified. Christians and Jews are heirs to a long tradition of secular government, which began under the Roman Empire and was renewed at the Enlightenment: human societies should be governed by human laws, and these laws must take precedence over religious edicts.

The primary duty of citizens is to obey the state; what they do with their souls is a matter between themselves and God, and all religions must bow down to the sovereign authority if they are to exist within its jurisdiction. The Ottoman Empire evolved systems of law which to some extent replicated that wise provision. But after the Ottoman collapse, the Muslim sects rebelled against the idea, since it contradicts the claims of the Shariah to be the final legal authority.

The Egyptian writer and leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sayyid Qutb, went so far as to denounce all secular law as blasphemy. Mortals who make laws for their own government, he argued, usurp a power which is God's alone. Although few Muslim leaders will publicly endorse Qutb's argument, few will publicly condemn it either. What to us is a proof of Qutb's fanaticism and egomania is, for many Muslims, a proof of his piety.

Whenever I consider this matter I am struck by a singular fact about the Christian religion, a fact noticed by Kierkegaard and Hegel but rarely commented upon today, which is that it is informed by a spirit of irony. Irony means accepting "the other", as someone other than you. It was irony that led Christ to declare that his "kingdom is not of this world", not to be achieved through politics. Such irony is a long way from the humourless incantations of the Koran. Yet it is from a posture of irony that every real negotiation, every offer of peace, every acceptance of the other, begins.

The way forward, it seems to me, is to encourage the re-emergence of an ironical Islam, of the kind you find in the philosophy of Averro%s, in Persian poetry and in The Thousand and One Nights. We should also encourage those ethnic and religious jokes which did so much to defuse tension in the days before political correctness. And maybe, one day, the rigid face of some puritanical mullah will crack open in a hesitant smile, and negotiations can at last begin.


Adolescent Intellectuals

To a small child, the reason he cannot do many things that he would like to do is that his parents won't let him. Many years later, maturity brings an understanding that there are underlying reasons for doing or not doing many things, and that his parents were essentially conduits for those reasons. The truly dangerous period in life is the time when the child has learned the limits of his parents' control, and how to circumvent their control, but has not yet understood or accepted the underlying reasons for doing and not doing things. This adolescent period is one that some people -- intellectuals especially -- never outgrow.

The widespread and fervent use of the word "liberation" in a wide variety of contexts is one of the signs of the adolescent belief that only arbitrary rules and conventions stand in the way of doing whatever we want to do. According to this vision of the world, the problems of all sorts of individuals and groups -- women, minorities, homosexuals, children -- are to be solved by liberating them from the restraints of laws, rules, conventions and standards. They are to be liberated even from the threat of adverse judgments by other individuals. We are all to be "non-judgmental."

Two centuries ago, the great British legal scholar William Blackstone pointed out that there are some laws so old that no one remembers why they existed or what purpose they served then or now. But the bad consequences of repealing some of these laws have often made painfully clear what purpose they served.

Some of the painful consequences of various "liberations" that began in the 1960s have included the disintegration of families, skyrocketing crime rates, falling test scores in school, and record-breaking rates of teenage suicide. A long downward trend in teenage pregnancy and venereal diseases sharply reversed during the 1960s, starting a new trend of escalating teenage pregnancy and venereal diseases, climaxed later by the AIDS epidemic.

Sometimes bad things happen because of adverse circumstances -- poverty or war, for example. But our post-1960s social disasters occurred during a long period of peace and unprecedented prosperity. Murder rates, for example, were much lower during the Great Depression of the 1930s and during World War II than they became after various "liberating" changes in the 1960s.

One of the signs of maturity is the ability to learn from experience. Some of us have learned and we have halted or reversed some of the adverse trends. For example, the quest for those elusive "root causes" of crime, so dear to the political left, has been put aside in favor of locking up more criminals -- and the crime rate has declined. The left is upset that we have so many people behind bars and lament how much it is costing to keep them there. They do not even bother to estimate how much it would cost to turn them loose.

The left has never understood why property rights are a big deal, except to fat cats who own a lot of property. Through legislation and judicial rulings, property rights have been eroded with rent control laws, expansive concepts of eminent domain, and all sorts of environmental restrictions. Some of the biggest losers have been people of very modest incomes and some of the biggest winners have been fat cats who are able to use political muscle and activist judges to violate other people's property rights.

Politicians in cities around the country violate property rights regularly by seizing homes in working-class neighborhoods and demolishing whole sectors of the city, in order to turn the land over to people who will build shopping malls, gambling casinos, and other things that will pay more taxes than the homeowners are paying. That's why property rights were put in the Constitution in the first place, to keep politicians from doing things like that. But the adolescent intellectuals of our time have promoted the notion that property rights are just arbitrary rules to protect the rich. Many academics and federal judges are sufficiently insulated from reality by tenure that they never have to grow up.


The New Mufti of Muslim Australia

A more charming fanatic

Report by Andrew Bolt

I WAS chatting to the charming Sheik Fehmi Naji el-Imam, now Australia's new Mufti, when we were interrupted by the Queen. Her Majesty settled herself at her table, while we and the other few hundred guests at the Royal Exhibition Building lunch waited politely. Two archbishops - one Catholic and the other Anglican - then said Grace and I whispered to the sheik, "Why aren't you up there, too?" "One day I will be," he replied. I was joking, but I'm sure Fehmi was not.

And why shouldn't he hope to be up there, making the Christians shuffle up a bit to make room for his very different and demanding faith? I mention this not to damn his cheek, but to point out Fehmi - however moderate he is painted - is not there to police our Muslims and assimilate them for you. His job isn't to get Muslims used to secular Australia, but Australia used to Muslims.

That point may be lost by commentators who, with me, have long wanted him to replace the disastrous Sheik Taj el-Din al-Hilaly as Mufti, our senior Muslim cleric. I wanted Hilaly sacked for preaching hatred, and thought it disturbing that Muslims chose to be led by a man who'd praised suicide bombers as heroes, called the September 11 terror attacks "God's work against oppressors", and insisted raped women be "jailed for life". And what a symbol of determined apartness he was, with so little English after 30 years here. But how much better off are we with Fehmi chosen on Sunday by the new Australian National Imam's Council to take over as Mufti?

Not so much. But let me first count Fehmi's blessings. He is a most courteous man, who has often preached against violent jihad at his Preston mosque, and publicly and often called for the Sydney-based Hilaly to go. Lebanese-born, he speaks fine English after 55 years here, and has impressed leaders of other faiths, with the admired Rabbi John Levi praising him in a 2001 ABC profile as "extremely wise and compassionate".

Yet, last year, Levi said Fehmi had "shocked" him: "He is under great pressure from a radicalised community, but nothing can excuse his destruction of decades-long work on Jewish-Muslim understanding." And here's the problem. In the end, Fehmi leads believers who demand he be far more radical than you'd expect from a "moderate". What alarmed Levi, and the Howard Government, is that Fehmi backed the Hezbollah terrorists in their war with Israel, hailing them at a rally as "freedom fighters". Worse, when asked at his first press conference as Mufti if he accepted Osama bin Laden was behind the September 11 attacks, he stalled: "What evidence?" Advisers then stopped him from speaking on Iraq.

Excuses will be made that Fehmi dares not be as moderate as he'd like, and he's often hinted that's so. He urged that the Danish cartoons of Mohammed not be published here because they'd "disturb people who can do things that we don't want them to do." He criticised police raids on suspected extremists in Perth because "we worry about some amongst our people who become so angry about this sort of thing, and might do some act, which we won't be happy about".

When Channel 9 asked him about Sheik Mohammed Omran, who has been linked to terrorists, Fehmi said only: "I know him and he has his own way of thinking, which I don't want to talk about." And note this. At Monday's press conference, he refused to repeat his past criticisms of Hilaly, defending him instead. What's more, the imams' council went out of its way to save Hilaly's face, saying it first voted to keep this notorious bigot as Mufti, only to have him turn it down. This was no repudiation of him. And back at his Lakemba mosque, Australia's biggest, Hilaly reminded us: "Control will always be in Lakemba." Which is why I fear Fehmi is just a soothing distraction.



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

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

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


15 June, 2007


Why do we call it the Summer of Love? In the hot months of 1967 there was a military coup in Greece; a war started in Biafra; there were race riots in Newark, Detroit and Boston; Muhummad Ali was stripped of his world title for refusing the draft; Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were jailed on drug charges; Arab attempts to destroy Israel triggered the Six Day War; Kenneth Halliwell murdered his lover, the playwright Joe Orton; the Beatles manager Brian Epstein died of a drug overdose; and the Swedish switched to driving on the right. Doesn't sound much like a Summer of Love to me.

So why the name? On April 5, 1967, in a converted firehouse on Waller Street, San Francisco, a press conference was held, called by assorted members of the hippy scene in the bohemian district of Haight-Ashbury. And they announced their intention to form a Council for a Summer of Love. The title stuck.

The origin of the name is significant. For this summer we are celebrating, if that's the right word, the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love. And the tendency to see this term as the description of an era, rather than of a discreet series of events in a small district in one city, is strong. Does this mistake matter? Yes, because it is a symbol of something bigger - the way in which both Left and Right overestimate the Sixties counterculture. The 40th anniversary, while everybody is printing their cut-out-and-keep guide to the Sgt. Pepper's album cover, is as good a moment as any to challenge this.

Let's start in Haight-Ashbury itself. The creation of the council was a defensive move, designed to reassure local residents. Even the bohemians of the district feared the influx of students once the college vacation began. So some form of rudimentary organisation was put in place - a free store, free food and free love in the parks. But it didn't really work. Haight-Ashbury, which had been a delightful enclave, was left a shadow of itself, a refuge for drug addicts and other damaged people.

Sure, thousands of young people were involved. But this was still a tiny, tiny percentage even of America's youth. At the height of the counterculture's growth, only 10 per cent of young Americans described themselves as "radicals".

Haight's Summer of Love wasn't even cool. Here's the verdict of George Harrison, who visited in early August: "You know, I went to Haight-Ashbury expecting it to be this brilliant place, and it was just full of horrible, spotty, dropout kids on drugs." Far from making him, in Timothy Leary's phrase, want to "turn on, tune in, drop out", Harrison vowed to stop using LSD.

In other words, the Summer of Love was a failure, a distinction it shared with other countercultural "happenings", many of which ended in mayhem and even murder. Why, then, does it loom so large in our imagination so many decades later?

Because of the Sixties. It is even clearer now than it was at the time that this was a watershed decade. Forty years ago, it was thought that the generation gap between teenagers and their parents would be a permanent feature of modern life. Instead, there was just one generation gap, but the gulf yawns between those who grew up in the years before the Beatles and those who grew up after it.

The mistake is to regard this as the consequence of the counterculture. The real cause of the Sixties revolution was something much more powerful and much more widespread - capitalism. In his fine new book The Age of Abundance Brink Lindsey argues persuasively that the most important cultural change of the postwar era was moving from scarcity to abundance. For millions of people, the struggle merely to survive lost its intensity. And this left room for other priorities - the search for identity, the desire to make something of oneself.

This new spirit swept all before it in the Sixties. It produced the demand for political rights by African-Americans, it allowed women to think of themselves as more than drudges and to begin to make their way outside the home, it enriched teenagers and made them a potent economic force. It also produced a consumer society. You want it? Yes, I want it and I want it now. Then you can have it. The mass market burst through class barriers, upturned traditions, made revered customs obsolete.

Lindsey quotes F. Scott Fitzgerald's famous line: "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me." And Lindsey argues that this is as true of societies as of individuals. The Sixties were different from anything that came before.

Against this dominant, vibrant mass culture, the counterculture was simply a puny protest. Just chill out, man, they bleated, as they were pushed aside by the consumer in a hurry. It is a delicious irony that the biggest impact the hippies made was when they were coopted by the mainstream. Soon Booth's House of Lords gin was being promoted as a way of "taking a stand against conformity" while Clairol took on the slogan "it lets me be me".

And, of course there was the biggest and best mainstream co-option of all - the Beatles masterpiece Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The bourgeois work ethic of Paul McCartney married to the avant-garde art of the counterculture produced an irresistible commercial product.

The story of the Sixties is a story of the triumph of economic freedom, of the power of free markets to change lives and produce a more open, exciting society. So why doesn't the Right embrace it? Why be happy to let the Left colonise memories of that decade?

It is because the change was not all gain, by any means. There has been family breakdown, drug addiction, and a certain coarsening of public debate and deterioration in standards of civility and decency. And it is a dodge to argue that these all came from something quite separate - from an alien counterculture. They didn't. They are in part the downside of the consumer revolution and can only be addressed by the Right if they are understood like that.


Prominent Illinois Abortionist Pays Court Settlement for Trying to Run Over Pro-Lifer

On Friday, Chicago lawyer Jason Braddock and Tom Brejcha, the chief counsel of Chicago's pro-life Thomas More Society, won a case against Yogendra Shah, the chief abortionist of Hope abortion Clinic in Granite City , Illinois. WorldNetDaily reports that Shah paid an unknown settlement to parents Daniel and Angela Michael and their daughter Arielle, for attempting to run over Daniel in his car and for an assault on Arielle by one of the abortion clinic escorts 7 years earlier. By paying the money, Shah will avoid going to court.

Small Victories Ministries, run by the Michael family in Highland, Illinois, has vigorously supported the pro-life cause for 14 years through protesting, sidewalk counseling, maintaining a roving van crisis pregnancy support vancentre and bringing abortion-related issues to the attention of the government. The ministry specifically protests outside the Hope Abortion Clinic of Granite City, IL, the largest Midwest abortion clinic that allows girls to have late-term abortions without parental consent.

Father and daughter were assaulted in 2000 after persuading a woman outside the abortuary to spare her unborn child's life. An escort roughly pushed 10-year old Arielle to the ground, and shortly afterwards one of the clinic guards started beating her father over the head with a baton. (see full coverage http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2000/dec/001213a.html).

Yogendra Shah is the same abortionist who caused enormous scandal in 2000 for being chief of OB/GYN at St. Elizabeth's hospital that is just across the road from Hope Clinic, also run by Shah at the same time. While claiming to be Catholic in name, the hospital was aware of his work as an abortionist and kept him employed even after the news became public.

Angela Michael said that Shah's work in Hope Clinic is highly successful because the surrounding States have age-restrictions for women seeking abortions. WorldNetDaily comments, "That means a rapist can bring an underage victim to Granite City and pay for an abortion, eliminating evidence of his assault."

In March 2006, the Michael family helped the police convict Jeffery Cheshier, 41, for raping his step-daughter. Cheshier had brought his daughter from Arkansas to the Hope Clinic in order to securefor an abortion,. and here the Michael family photographed his car and license plate. and They later gave thise information to the police as evidence.


What's behind the rise of `Tescophobia'? (The British equivalent of Wal-Mart hatred)

Today's Tesco-bashers are a degenerate alliance of blue-blooded conservatives and cynical left-wingers. Their assaults should be resisted

The number of complaints against Tesco seems to grow even faster than the supermarket giant itself. Slamming the opening of new stores, the amount of goods and services they sell and the vast profits the company makes has become a preoccupation of liberal broadsheets, such as the Independent and the Guardian, as well as cranky tabloids like the Daily Mail and the London Evening Standard. There are also numerous websites devoted to `exposing' Tesco's practices. In February 2007 Channel 4 devoted an hour's worth of primetime television to a feeble `investigation' of how Tesco operates (1).

In his new book Tescopoly, Andrew Simms of the New Economics Foundation (a self-proclaimed `think-and-do-tank') attempts to provide a detailed survey of Tesco's high street omnipresence and why it should be stopped. Although Simms specifically targets Tesco, the supermarket chain is merely a canvas through which he reveals all kinds of vile prejudices against modern-day society and, in particular, the modern-day working class. Tescopoly is another unwelcome addition to the growing pile of shrill, phoney anti-capitalist books that use vaguely left-wing credentials to disguise contempt for the masses.

It should be said that Simms is at least more honest about his political ideas and motivations than, say, George Monbiot. He reveals that his `father ran a small business and voted Conservative' and, sure enough, Tescopoly is a rallying cry for the beleaguered petit bourgeoisie and all its conservative preoccupations (2). Unfortunately for Simms, however, he ends up being hamstrung by his flawed methodological approach. While he attempts a social scientific analysis of Tesco's apparent destructiveness, via a smattering of facts and figures, on the whole Tescopoly is an entirely subjective complaint against the `evils' of economic growth and social change.

What is perhaps more significant is that the remains of the radical left now take people like Simms at face value (3). Quite why championing small businesses against big business is progressive is never convincingly explained, by either Simms or his left-wing fans. In fact, Simms' garbled alternative to efficient big business is probably the most reactionary blueprint for a new society this side of an al-Qaeda website. Yet while the rantings of Osama bin Laden et al are generally assumed to be nonsense, the arguments and prejudices put forward in Tescopoly are as mainstream and widespread as Tesco itself.

The purpose of this essay is firstly to dissect Simms' arguments against supermarkets and his proposed alternatives, and secondly to assess why such conservative prejudices have suddenly found favour with leftist radicals.

One of the most familiar complaints against Tesco is that its unstoppable expansion of stores is destroying the fabric of local communities. What Simms means is that Tesco is forcing the closure of small shops and businesses. These claims are central to Simms' overall argument and he repeats them ad nauseam. Ideally, Simms would like a monopoly of small traders via some kind of state protection. However, simply to champion the material self-interest of the petit bourgeoisie would probably be seen as a bit, well, unethical. So Simms promotes the economic, social and moral worth of your `friendly' local trader, and he ties himself in knots in the process.

Firstly, he argues that supermarkets are not as economically viable as local businesses. As an example, he says that big supermarkets do not employ as many people as small traders and small businesses do. He also argues that the wealth generated doesn't `irrigate around a community'. He points out that, according to recent figures, Tesco `employed 250,000 people while small grocery shops. employed double the number of people' (4). That may be so, but Simms ignores the jobs created by Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrison's (supermarkets which he often lumps alongside Tesco in other chapters of the book). Totalled together, the number of jobs created by these supermarkets would be double the small retail sector.

What these figures also reveal, and what Simms ignores, is that the small and large retail sectors can exist side by side. Simms may point out that `specialist stores like butchers and bakers shut at the rate of 50 per week', but he would like the same rate of closure to befall the big four supermarkets. Would the small retail sector be able to absorb the million-plus jobs lost if supermarkets were forced to close down? It's highly unlikely.

Simms' claim of a direct `cause and effect' relationship between big supermarkets opening and small shops going to the wall is also unconvincing. Specialist shops have always been prone to economic failure because the market for the goods on offer is often weak. To be frank, budding entrepreneurs don't always have the best business acumen. Those financial geniuses who insist on opening a shop selling such non-essentials as scuba diving equipment or authentic Victorian fireplaces in a residential area have only themselves to blame when the bailiffs are called in.

Yet Simms is so in awe of small traders that he can't contemplate that local shops might close down simply because they're rubbish. Indeed, the ubiquity of Tesco, Starbucks, Subway and McDonald's on the high street only emerged because Britain's caf,s and small shops have mostly been drab, scruffy and uninviting. Britain might supposedly be a `nation of shopkeepers' but, unlike the Spanish or French, this country hasn't been particularly good at producing small traders.

Ironically enough, one area in which small traders have been successful recently - specialist food - has largely been thanks to the arrival of supermarkets. Although Simms attempts to prove otherwise, the average grocery bill for UK households has dramatically declined thanks to price-busting supermarkets. This frees up more cash for luxury food items, such as specialist cheeses, and pheasant and duck from specialist butchers. On Essex Road in the Islington district of London, long queues often form outside of the local fishmongers and butchers at the weekend, and both of these small shops are within walking distance of a Tesco store. Likewise, the specialist food market in Borough, south London, is always far busier than any Tesco or Sainsbury's. Many Britons now tend to divide their shopping between supermarkets for basics and local shops for specific ingredients. The fact that small stores and specialist shops continue to thrive suggests that they can benefit from the arrival of supermarkets.

Although Simms reckons that Tesco `stifles' retail diversity, in reality he would like the state to deny choice to shoppers and force them to shop at small stores and markets. He forgets that housewives once spent many hours each week on such drudgery, often having to go out and buy some essentials on a daily basis. Yet Simms wants us to do that kind of thing because he reckons there would be greater community spirit and social cohesion. This notion is the most ridiculous and facile part of Tescopoly; at times Simms positively fantasises about village life.

Much more here


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

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

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


14 June, 2007

PBS loves Castro

For decades, PBS has sponsored and broadcast programs about Cuba that depict the opposite of the reality that Cubans experience first hand. This has been a disservice not only to Cuban Americans but also to the American people as a whole. In spite of multiple complaints by Cuban Americans, however, PBS continues to offend them.

I have written more than 300 articles over the last several years about Cuban affairs and am producing an ongoing series of educational documentaries on the subject. [http://laurencejarvikonline.blogspot.com/2007/05/agustin-blazquez-speaks.html]

I have been working on this series at great personal sacrifice as an independent; I have received no grants and in fact am not aware of any grants to Cuban Americans for our educational projects. I have produced and directed five documentaries for this series and am now working on the sixth. I have submitted these documentaries to PBS and its series P.O.V. and Frontline. They were rejected. In fact, the works of other Cuban American filmmakers that are contrary to PBS's point of view are consistently rejected.

PBS appears to be interested only in the point of view reflecting its political agenda, contrary to its statement that it does not interfere with "program content" [see the recently issued "Public Broadcasting Statement on Editorial Independence," [http://www.apts.org/upload/Public Broadcasting Statement - May 2 07.pdf ].

PBS's statement that it does not interfere with "program content" is belied by its recent announcement that it has arranged with Ken Burns to add the Latino contribution to World War II to his documentary (per a letter dated April 11, 2007 from Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS, to the Defend the Honor Campaign in response to complaints about the documentary's lack of attention to the taxpaying Latino community of the U.S.) [http://www.nahj.org/nahjnews/articles/2007/april/lettertodth.pdf]

It is evident that PBS's prohibition against interfering with "content" is not absolute; it can be lifted at will, in this case because of political pressure from the Latino community (whose position in this case I support 100 percent). So, Cuban American filmmakers are excluded -- actually, politically discriminated against -- by PBS, not because of the quality of their films but because of content. I think that is called censorship.

Even the Oscar-winning Cuban exile Nestor Almendros had to agree to allow PBS to edit (shorten) his documentary Nobody Listened before PBS would air it -- and it was broadcast in tandem with Saul Landau's pro-Castro documentary. And PBS's Frontline rejected Nobody Listened by stating, "Frontline doesn't produce anti-Communist programs." PBS appears to be concerned about not offending Castro while not caring about his victims.

Nestor Almendros said in 1990 that he believed taxpayer-funded PBS leans unashamedly toward the political left. "The only country that resisted [showing his documentaries], the only place where there was still strong pro-Castro sentiment, was the U.S."

Recently, a Latino reviewer in the U.S. said about my documentaries that I am "the most important Cuban documentalist in exile with a very solid body of work." And following the screening of my latest documentary in Madrid, Spain, another reviewer wrote in the Spanish cultural magazine Revista Hispano Cubana, "Agustin Blazquez is one of the most representative filmmakers in exile and his documentaries should be valued at the same level as the best Cuban documentaries of this genre."

In the same review he called my earlier documentary about the Elian Gonzalez case "a masterpiece for its sensibility and poetic air." PBS also rejected this documentary.

On March 6, 1996, the issue of the rejection of my first documentary by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) was raised at a hearing before a House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee.

I decided to test the waters again and on April 2, 2007 I submitted a formal proposal package to PBS for a documentary about Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

On May 8, John Prizer, vice president of television program development at CPB, who assists in developing CPB funding priorities and strategic direction for investing programming funds, telephoned to inform me that my project had been rejected. Mr. Prizer said that PBS would never air my proposed documentary; this was the reason, he explained, that I was the only producer of the 30 who submitted proposals that he called.

He also said that PBS is looking for documentaries of more than one part or miniseries. Since that requirement is not specified in the "PBS Mission," I think it was a convenient excuse. At any rate, I have repeatedly submitted my series, COVERING CUBA, and PBS has repeatedly rejected it.

PBS does whatever it wants and changes its rules at will, as demonstrated by its contradictory statements and actions regarding the content of Mr. Burns' documentary.

PBS to date has been untouchable, but we'll see what happens after the war declared by the Latino organizations to protect their honor. Cuban Americans, as part of the Latin American population living in the U.S., also need to save our honor from PBS exclusion and censorship.

PBS has consistently objected to the content of our documentaries. I feel that this is a violation of our freedom of speech guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, specifically because the money PBS distributes is public money.

Meanwhile, the pro-Castro documentaries of Estela Bravo (a native New Yorker who has lived in Cuba since 1963 as a member of the pro-Castro privileged foreign elite and a known collaborator with that regime) are shown on PBS without the benefit of showing an opposing point of view. In 1992 and 1993, for example, PBS showed Bravo's documentary Miami-Havana.

In it, deriding the Cuban American community, Wayne Smith said, "But what you have in Miami, I think, is a very extreme ultra-right group who want no kind of improvement on relations between the two countries."

In such a way PBS offers opportunities for the pro-Castro side to openly express its contempt and hatred for the Cuban American community in the U.S.

PBS has a history of showing documentaries containing propaganda that has offended my community, documentaries that have not contributed to a better understanding of the Cuban tragedy. In many instances we are misrepresented and maligned in comments by the people featured in those productions. For example, Wayne Smith and others have been featured in various documentaries on PBS qualifying Cuban Americans as "the right-wing fringe," "virulently anti-Castro," "fiercely anti-Communist," "hard-line exiles," "strident anti-Castroites," "Miami Mafia" and other epithets.

More here

Chapel books disappear; inmates sue

Inmates at the federal prison camp in Otisville, N.Y., were stunned by what they saw at the chapel library at the end of May: Hundreds of books had disappeared from the shelves. The removal of the books is occurring nationwide, part of a long-delayed, post-Sept. 11 federal directive intended to prevent radical religious texts, specifically Islamic ones, from falling into the hands of violent inmates.

Three inmates at Otisville filed a lawsuit about the policy, saying their constitutional rights were violated. They say all religions were affected. "The set of books that have been taken out have been ones that we used to minister to new converts when they come in here," inmate John Okon, speaking on behalf of the prison's Christian population, told a judge last week. Okon said it was unfortunate because "I have really seen religion turn around the life of some of these men, especially in the Christian community."

The government maintained that the new rules do not entirely clear the shelves of prison-chapel libraries. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Feldman told U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain that prison libraries limited the number of books for each religion to 100 to 150 under the new rules. He said officials would expand the number after choosing a new list of permitted books. Feldman said the removal order stemmed from an April 2004 Department of Justice review of the way prisons choose Muslim religious-services providers.

It is not exactly clear why it took so long for the order to be put into effect, but prison officials said they needed time to examine a long list of books.


Children of Jihad vs. Children of the West

"What is your most lofty aspiration? Death for the sake of Allah!"

That is the charming verse kindergarteners in a Hamas classroom chanted last week during their graduation ceremony. The girls dressed in butterfly costumes. The boys donned camouflage, black masks, green bandanas and toy semi-automatic rifles. The video aired by the Middle East Media Research Institute (www.memritv.org) features the children wielding swords and guns while mimicking paramilitary exercises.

And how are we preparing the children of the West to defend themselves against these little soldiers of Allah? Scene 1: In New York City, one nursery school dragged 3-year-old toddlers to the office of Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx/Westchester/Rockland), where they sang "It's a Small World" around a 12-foot "Tree of Peace." The New York Press reported last week:

"The handmade tree, crafted by 17 children during pre-school class time, was a statement against American troops remaining in Iraq, and a call to pursue peaceful paths to end all world conflicts. This gift, however, seemed more like a Trojan horse, designed to gain an invitation inside so that the children's far-left leaning parents could rail against the war and the congressman's initial vote in support of it."

The children's teacher, Valerie Coleman-Palansky, defended the stunt thusly: "I think it's appropriate for 3-year-olds to know that the world needs to be a peaceful place for everybody to live in and a safe place for everybody to live in." Perhaps it's time for Ms. Coleman-Palansky to acquaint herself with the Palestinian Mickey Mouse. The chant of the little jihadists drowns out the Disneyfied reverie:

"What is your most lofty aspiration? Death for the sake of Allah!"

Scene 2: I have a pet peeve. It goes beyond the antiwar indoctrination rampant in American schools. At the playground and at the mall, I see 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds walking around with pacifiers in their mouths. Kids old enough to feed and dress themselves. Kids old enough to figure out the remote control and cell phone. Standing upright, suckling on brightly colored binkies. Where are the parents to yank the rubber from their mouths and force them to grow up? When did child pacification usurp the responsibility of child-rearing?

Scene 3: America is not alone in immersing its future generations in the culture of coddling. British educators have now determined that "asking pupils to put their hands up when they think they know the answer to a question in class could make quiet children fall behind," according to the London Telegraph. To spare students from this awful terror, the British Department of Education is now recommending that children be given 30 seconds of "thinking time" before being asked to answer or told to discuss questions in pairs before answering. Instead of teaching students to conquer their shyness and stand up for themselves, educators will be encouraged to pamper them in emotional bubble wrap.

On a separate front, British schools will be administering "happiness tests" to children as young as 4 to ensure high self-esteem. The Telegraph reports that the government has spent 20 million pounds on an "emotional literacy initiative" that promotes activities such as "worry boxes," where pupils write down their anxieties and post them into a box, and "emotional barometers," which pupils can use to show classmates the strength of their feeling about a subject.

I return to the video of the Hamas kindergarten class. Their "emotional barometers" break through the roof as one toddler with plenty of self-esteem leads the rest in a bloodthirsty call and refrain:

"What is your path? Jihad!"
"What is your path? Jihad!"

Back in London, the tots are taking their mental health quizzes. Teacher asks: "How do you feel?" The sheeple answer: "I've been feeling optimistic about the future." Pardon me while I go fill my worry box. It's a small world, after all.


The Left needs to get real

By Janet Albrechtsen, commenting from Australia

SOME fights deserve a few more rounds. So let’s go another round with the one started so magnificently by The Australian (Reality bites the psychotic Left) challenging the psychotic Left to take a reality check.

Like a tired actor who plays the same role over and over again, hamming it up each time, the leitmotif of the Left lacks a certain sparkle. They line up like drones to tell us that debate has been stifled this past decade. Bookshelves in your local bookstore are groaning under the weight of tomes written on the subject. Perhaps these evangelical intellectuals on the Left think that if they say it often enough, it will become the received wisdom. They could not be more wrong. The more they say it, the more they remind us of their own irrelevance.

A few years ago, it was historian Stuart Macintyre in his book The History Wars moaning about the “weapons of mass destruction” employed by certain commentators and historians to challenge Australian history. Weapons such as careful research and a preference for facts over fiction. Imagine the audacity of Keith Windschuttle checking original sources and finding some academics had fudged facts. Meanwhile, Australian history moved on to a healthier debate where the politics of shame no longer dominated.

Then came Robert Manne’s Do Not Disturb where leftists claimed that conservative politics was cheapening our democracy and creating social and ethnic division. Were the conservatives not aware that multiculturalism and other sacred “isms” were not policies or ideas to be challenged so much as articles of faith?

We’ve had Silencing Dissent by Clive Hamilton and Sarah Maddison whose title says it all. And now there is more of the same from David Marr and his Quarterly Essay titled “His Master’s Voice - The Corruption of Public Debate under Howard”.

By any measure, if this is silence imposed by an authoritarian Howard Government, the Left need to go back to their dictionaries. While they are there, they may want to flick back to the “narcissism” word. If you had to sum up the state of thinking from left-wing intellectuals, this word does the job. Their unrestrained intellectual vanity leaves no room for debate. So self-absorbed are they in their own genius, so obvious is their own correctness, disagreement is not merely wrong but immoral. Those on the other side of the political divide are not just misguided. They are evil. They are, said Dennis Glover in his contribution to the debate, “right-wing thugs”.

These guys are bruised by two facts: there are now more people challenging left-wing orthodoxy (and they don’t like it one bit); and fewer people are listening to their left-wing diatribes (and they really hate that).

To be fair, Glover managed to pin down part of the Left’s problem. He said that too many progressive journalists ceded ground in the culture wars when they stopped writing about ordinary people. These progressives have taken up a field way off to the Left where they decry capitalism and affluence, ignoring what matters in mainstream debates.

But it goes further than that. They stopped writing about issues that affect ordinary people because they stopped thinking about those issues. Instead, they talk down to ordinary people. Marr’s latest fulmination is filled with depictions of Australians as too lazy to care about our political culture - “more subjects than citizens” - apparently living under some mesmerising hex imposed by Howard.

Unwilling or unable to confront the arguments from opponents, they claim some conservative conspiracy is tricking mainstream Australia and trying to keep the Left out of debates. It’s a neat way of avoiding one’s own intellectual irrelevance. When they start to acknowledge their own intellectual shortcomings and their disdain for “ordinary” Australians, perhaps debate will become richer.

The market for ideas - the West’s most precious achievement - works best when ideas are tested by worthy opponents. Each side keeps the other honest. Through that intellectual argy-bargy, good ideas triumph and silly ideas are sidelined. Neither side should be heard to whine that the other hits too hard. Unfortunately, the Left still seems to want the ring to itself. That kind of sums up the strength of their positions.



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

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

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


13 June, 2007


Media must promote multiculturalism?

Yesterday, 100 editors and journalists from all around the world met in Oslo to take part in an international conference about media and globalisation. UN Special Envoy for monitoring of racism and xenophobia, Dodou Diene, started the conference by asking the press to actively help to create a multicultural society. He expressed concern that democratic processes can lead to immigration-limiting political parties coming to power.

The terrorist attacks on 9/11 and last year's cartoon crisis have changed international society. Cultural and religious conflicts dominate the global news in a much greater way than earlier. The conference discussed the role and responsibility of the press in a world where information flies around the world in seconds and dissimilar cultures and ethnic groups live ever closer to another.

The UN Special Envoy also claimed that European governments that have implemented a tough policy on immigration, such as those of Austria, Switzerland, and Denmark, are racists. He also expressed concern for democratic processes that could lead to immigration restrictive political parties coming to power.

Kimpolina's comment: When it now appears a great problem that clashing cultures and ethnic groups live still closer to each other, would it not be in order to at least think about changing course and dropping the ridiculous, utopian dream about the multicultural world? When reality clashes with dreams, is it then really the role and responsibility of the press to try to disguise reality? If so, I think the dream is becoming a nightmare, when unrealistic dreams are being forced upon us.

Should the press take action and take over when democracy threatens the dream, as the people vote for politicians with both feet on the ground, and because people want to move in a different direction than. who? Who is it that is really behind all this? Globalisation, perhaps? Is that the new almighty god, that one cannot or must not thwart? A natural law, that is suddenly higher than human will and force of action?

Much more here


Jeff Jacoby exposes BBC bias and misinformation

With the 40th anniversary of Israel's astonishing victory in the Six Day War has come a gusher of revisionist history, most of it suffused with sympathy for the Palestinians, disapproval of Israel, and indignation at the ongoing "occupation" that is said to be at the heart of the Middle East's turmoil. On the BBC website, for example, Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen's retrospective on the war -- "How 1967 defined the Middle East" -- begins by noting that "it took only six days for Israel to smash the armed forces of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria." It goes on to emphasize that "the Israeli Air Force destroyed the Egyptian air force on the ground on the morning of 5 June 1967 in a surprise attack."

But the BBC makes no reference to anything the Arabs might have done to provoke Israel's attack, other than broadcasting "bloodcurdling threats" on the radio. The vast buildup of Arab armies along Israel's border, the expulsion of UN peacekeepers from the Sinai Peninsula by Egyptian ruler Gamal Abdel Nasser, the illegal closing of the Straits of Tiran, which cut Israel off from its main supply of oil -- the BBC mentions none of it.

Instead, Bowen claims that Israel's "hugely self-confident" generals couldn't wait to go to war because they knew they couldn't lose. (In reality, Israel's military and political leaders were deeply anxious; so severe was the stress that Yitzhak Rabin, the chief of staff, suffered a nervous breakdown.) "The myth of the 1967 Middle East war," declares Bowen, turning history on its head, "was that the Israeli David slew the Arab Goliath."

The BBC's account, unfortunately, is not unique. In the revisionist narrative, what is most important about 1967 is not that Israel survived what its enemies had intended to be a war of annihilation, but that in the course of doing so it occupied Arab land, some of which it still holds. "End the Occupation" is the theme of countless anti-Israel rallies around the world this weekend. The UN secretary general issued a statement remembering the victims of Middle East conflict, "particularly the Palestinians who continue to live under an occupation that has lasted 40 years." A two-page "message" from the United Church of Christ repeatedly deplores Israel's occupation: It uses some form of the word "occupy" 15 times, but doesn't mention even once the decades of Arab terrorism that have sent so many Israelis to early graves.

Considering how often the "occupation" is identified as the chief impediment to Arab-Israeli peace, you might expect 40th-anniversary discussions of the war to grapple with the fact that there was no occupation in 1967, when the Arabs were massing for war on Israel's borders. But that would mean acknowledging that Arab hatred and violence caused the occupation -- not, as current fashion has it, the other way around.

And so Time magazine's anniversary story on the Six Day War is relayed entirely from the perspective of a Palestinian who has lived all his life under occupation on the West Bank. Nowhere does the 2,500-word story pause to note that there would never have been a West Bank occupation if King Hussein of Jordan had heeded Israel's public and private pleas to stay out of the fighting. Instead, Hussein shelled Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and sent warplanes to bomb Netanya. Radio Amman announced in the king's name that all Israelis should be "torn to bits." Only then did Israel, fighting in self-defense, enter the West Bank.

Forty years ago, Time was not confused about where the sympathies of civilized people should lie. Reporting on the war in its issue of June 16, 1967, Time spotlighted Nasser's bellicose threats and noted "the Arab forces ominously gathering around the Jewish homeland." It explained to its readers in straightforward language that "ever since Israel was created 19 years ago, the Arabs have been lusting for the day when they could destroy it." (One week earlier, Time's cover had been bannered: "Israel: The Struggle to Survive.") It put Israel's alarm in the context of "a hostile Arab population of 110 million menacing their own of 2.7 million."

And it quoted the Arabs in their own words: "`Our people have been waiting 20 years for this battle,' roared Cairo. 'Now they will teach Israel the lesson of death!' . . . 'Kill the Jews!' screamed Radio Baghdad. A Syrian commander offered the rash prediction to radio listeners that 'we will destroy Israel in four days.' "

Israelis in 1967 didn't doubt that Cairo, Baghdad, and Damascus meant exactly what they said. Neither did Time. Four decades later the narrative has changed, but the facts, stubbornly, are what they are. It is a fact that if Israel had lost the Six Day War, there would have been no occupation these past 40 years. It is also a fact that there would have been no Israel.

Death penalty deters murder

The evidence on this goes back decades (See, for instance, Tullock, G. (1974) Does punishment deter crime? "The Public Interest", 36, 103-111 -- available in vol. 9 here) but it seems that we have to keep rediscovering it:

Anti-death penalty forces have gained momentum in the past few years, with a moratorium in Illinois, court disputes over lethal injection in more than a half-dozen states and progress toward outright abolishment in New Jersey. The steady drumbeat of DNA exonerations - pointing out flaws in the justice system - has weighed against capital punishment. The moral opposition is loud, too, echoed in Europe and the rest of the industrialized world, where all but a few countries banned executions years ago.

What gets little notice, however, is a series of academic studies over the last half-dozen years that claim to settle a once hotly debated argument - whether the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder. The analyses say yes. They count between three and 18 lives that would be saved by the execution of each convicted killer.

The reports have horrified death penalty opponents and several scientists, who vigorously question the data and its implications. So far, the studies have had little impact on public policy. New Jersey's commission on the death penalty this year dismissed the body of knowledge on deterrence as "inconclusive." But the ferocious argument in academic circles could eventually spread to a wider audience, as it has in the past.

"Science does really draw a conclusion. It did. There is no question about it," said Naci Mocan, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. "The conclusion is there is a deterrent effect." A 2003 study he co-authored, and a 2006 study that re-examined the data, found that each execution results in five fewer homicides, and commuting a death sentence means five more homicides. "The results are robust, they don't really go away," he said. "I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that the death penalty (deters) - what am I going to do, hide them?"

Statistical studies like his are among a dozen papers since 2001 that capital punishment has deterrent effects. They all explore the same basic theory - if the cost of something (be it the purchase of an apple or the act of killing someone) becomes too high, people will change their behavior (forego apples or shy from murder).

Source See also here

Reality bites the psychotic Left

By refusing to face modern realities, the Australian Left has dealt itself out of the national debate. Lack of reality contact is the defining mark of psychosis

FOR evidence, if any more were needed, that the intellectual Left has become completely divorced from reality, turn to page 14 of the latest edition of The Monthly, where Clive Hamilton describes the therapeutic effect of bushfires at Christmas. "As the orgy of spending reaches a climax we begin to wonder whether we have become decadent," the Australia Institute executive director writes. "The firies who battle the elements on our behalf remind us of our 'true' selves."

Since Mr Hamilton and his neo-Arcadian cohorts contend that affluence is a bad thing, 13 years of consecutive economic growth must be driving them nuts. Indeed much of the work emanating from Mr Hamilton's left-wing think tank fits the dictionary definition of the word psychosis: "marked by distorted perceptions of reality". This is the institute after all that believes in a vast corporate conspiracy to stall action on climate change, accuses David Jones and Myers of "corporate pedophilia" and claims that Australia is becoming an increasingly authoritarian state where dissidents are silenced.

This last thesis, expounded at length in Silencing Dissent published earlier this year, would seem difficult to sustain at a time when the marketplace of ideas has never been so crowded. In newspaper opinion sections and magazines and on radio and televisions and increasingly online, Australians are engaged in intelligent conversation about the issues of the day great and small. Blogs and internet chat rooms have given everyone a seat at the debating table. Technology has lowered the barriers to publishing. A host of new periodicals online and in print including The Monthly, New Matilda and The Australian's own Australian Literary Review are providing new platforms for discussion while established journals such as Quadrant and the Griffith Review are reaching new readers and providing a home for new writers. The queues outside venues at this year's Sydney Writers Festival, record attendances at similar writers festivals around the country and new events such as next month's Adelaide Festival of Ideas are public expressions of a confident, mature democracy in which informed debate flourishes.

It is hard to reconcile these objective facts with the commentary taking place in the parallel universe inhabited by disaffected intellectuals who insist that critics are gagged in the gulag they like to call "John Howard's Australia". In his contribution to Silencing Dissent, Robert Manne claimed the nation was headed on "the increasingly authoritarian trajectory of the political culture" under Mr Howard.

The hallmark of the disaffected intellectuals is their hyperbole, as evidenced from the latest tract to appear from the "silenced" Left, David Marr's Quarterly Essay, His Masters Voice: The Corruption of Public Debate under Howard. As David Burchell pointed out in The Weekend Australian, Marr wants us to believe that Mr Howard's influence over the national psyche is so intense that just about every act of suppression in our public life is somehow attributable to the Prime Minister.

The silencing of dissent thesis tells us more about the current health of the cultural Left than it does about the health of the nation. While the Left is still fighting the intellectual battles of the 1970s, the rest of the world has moved on. Progressive only in their own, inflated self image, the commentariat finds itself stranded on the outer fringes of the national debate, stuck in an intellectual cul-de-sac without the courage or confidence to retrace its steps. Their voices have not been silenced, they have simply lost their relevance. While the mainstream debate is conducted elsewhere, the progressives are stuck in the corner, muttering darkly among themselves. Seventeen years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, they are rebels without a cause still trapped in dialectical Marxist maze.

Irritatingly, the marginalisation of the self-styled progressives has only served to reinforce their unshakable belief in their own moral superiority. This conceit informs the kind of rigid political correctness that shuts down debate. To question multiculturalism is racist, to suggest that Aborigines would have a better future if they were participating in the mainstream economy is assimilationist. To challenge the precepts of political Islam is to demonise Muslims and to demonise any minority group is failure to recognise the superior virtue of the oppressed.

The only acceptable prejudice is anti-Americanism, which gives today's left-wingers some strange bedfellows from Cuba's Fidel Castro to the fanatical Islamists in the middle east. As Nick Cohen points out in his incisive book What's Left?, it used to be the conservatives who made excuses for fascism. "Now liberals and leftists are far more likely than conservatives to excuse fascistic governments and movements," he writes. "Give them a foreign far-right movement that is anti-Western and they treat it as at best a distraction and at worst an ally."

Closely related to their hatred of the US is their contempt for capitalism. The impact of the modern share-owning democracy has yet to dawn on them. Corporations no longer answer to the bourgeoisie, they answer to shareholders -- ordinary people who are now stakeholders, either directly or through the $1 trillion in superannuation. Karl Marx's dream has been fulfilled now that the workers truly do control the means of production.

On one of the burning topics of the day, climate change, this profound hatred of capitalism has led them down another philosophical dead end which advocates a romantic vision of suffering for a cause. Rather than objectively assess the realities of climate change and the practical task ahead they advocate symbolic, but ultimately futile, penance. By persisting with a misguided campaign to turn back the clock and demonise the Howard Government for not being harsh enough, once again, the debate has passed them by. Kyoto is giving way to a new global compact at which the US and Australia are at the centre. As research into clean coal technology for electricity generation looks set to become not just a reality but much quicker than even optimists had expected, those who advocate a return to dark nights and cold showers again look foolish.

In their retreat from modernity, the wrongly named progressives part company with Marxism which, despite its fatal flaws, was at least grounded in the spirit of the enlightenment, progress through scientific inquiry. Today's Left has allowed itself to become trapped in a parallel universe, out of touch and far removed from the mainstream where the real Australian discourse takes place. It is not just a geographical divide, though it is true the Left tends to be at its strongest in the latte belt and tertiary institutions. It is a class divide between an elite on one side and the mass of ordinary people on the other. It is not just Mr Howard they hate but Mr Average, as Marr's telling reference to Patrick White's return to Australia from Europe makes plain. White later recalled, "it was the exaltation of the average that made me panic most" and for Marr Mr Howard is "the exalter of the average". The Australian Left's reluctance to make the effort to understand Mr Howard's popular appeal is one of its most fundamental failings of the past 11 years. In the Left's narrative, Mr Howard has won four elections through a combination of luck and duplicity and on each occasion the electorate was too lazy or too stupid to make the right call. Only members of the intellectual elite are smart enough not to be fooled by Mr Howard's trickery. This threadbare analysis has helped consign the Labor Party to Opposition since 1996.

While the disconnection has certainly expanded over the past decade, all is not lost. There is a way back, a way to overcome the tyranny of distance between the Left's world and the real world. Left thinkers elsewhere in the world have moved on and cut themselves back into the cultural debate. In Britain the reformed Left has signed up to the Euston Manifesto, which aims to draw a line "between forces on the Left that remain true to its authentic values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values". In France, left-wing thinker Bernard Henri Levy has been bitterly critical of those who believe "that Islamism can be embraced and put in the service of the Left" while Medecins Sans Frontieres founder Bernard Kouchner, a fierce advocate of humanitarian intervention, has been appointed Foreign Minister under President Nicolas Sarkozy. The way forward for the Left in Australia is to acknowledge that the politics of the outsider is an adolescent phase and develop soundly based, intelligent arguments that will earn them a place at the table of national debate.



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

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

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


12 June, 2007


While Israelis are targeted by rockets from Gaza and officials from the "elected Palestinian government" threaten attacks by female suicide bombers, calls for anti-Israeli boycotts based on human rights claims would appear to be both immoral and absurd. But the small group that controls Britain's trade unions has managed to combine both traits, and it is escalating its political warfare in parallel with Palestinian violence. A vote on yet another anti-Israel boycott proposal is scheduled to take place at the end of May, this time by the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU).

This is the third such academic boycott campaign in Britain in two years, coming after a divestment debate within the Anglican Church, a "boycott Israel" movement led by British activists in the World Medical Association, and the adoption of a similar program by the National Union of Journalists. Beyond the obvious violations of the academic process inherent in a political boycott, this effort is part of a carefully prepared strategy aimed at isolating the Jewish state.

The crucial difference, however, between the previous attempts and the current boycott battles, including the UCU effort, is the presence of a serious counterweight on the political battlefield to challenge the anti-Israel and often anti-Semitic slogans and myths. Sober and morally-minded British academics on the Left, led by a group known as Engage, as well as the "Fair Play Campaign Group," are particularly active. And under the IAB (International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom), many Israeli academics have also become active in countering the pervasive propaganda and misinformation.

FOR THE radicals, including obsessive ideologues affiliated with the Socialist Workers Party, history, facts and details are irrelevant. While always invoking "the occupation," the decades of Arab warfare, terrorism, incitement and rejectionism are erased from the record. This is not the result of ignorance but of willful conviction, and nothing will change their anti-Israel, anti-US and anti-democracy agendas. They will continue to use terms such as "apartheid" and "racist" to demonize Israel. As made clear in recent statements, it is Israel's existence that they reject, and not specific policies.

However, the main purpose of the confrontations between boycott opponents and advocates is not to convince the fanatics, but to address the much larger group that knows very little about Israel and the conflict. After many years of avoidance, in the false hope that the absurdity of these boycotts against Israel would become obvious, there is now a coherent strategy that has a chance of success.

Via vigorous debate, the goal is to encourage those who are not obsessed by Israel to break with the radicals. In trade union votes, these moderate voices will determine the outcome, and persuading many of the injustice inherent in the one-sided singling-out of Israel can defeat the boycott resolutions. This is a formidable task. The impact of the radical fringe has been greatly magnified by powerful non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Britain that have also been campaigning for years. Well-financed pressure groups such as War on Want, Christian Aid, World Vision, Pax Christi, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch take the lead in singling out and systematically condemning Israel. They repeat the same invented histories, claiming that Israel was "founded in sin," and use invented evidence to condemn Israeli responses to terrorism and aggression. Many journalists who share these prejudices repeat the claims at face value.

AS A result, those who know little about Israel or the Palestinians accept the agendas of the activists. Having heard so much about Israeli "disproportionate response" against attacks from Hizbullah and Hamas, and about the "apartheid wall" (as opposed to a security barrier that has prevented untold attacks by Palestinian suicide bombers), members of the union leadership who focus on other issues accept the attacks against Israel.

There is evidence that some members of this group are beginning to question the obsessive anti-Israel propaganda. In 2005, after the leaders of the Association of University Teachers voted to endorse the boycott, members forced a second vote, which resulted in a reversal. They realized that a partisan boycott was unjust and antithetical to the principles of academic freedom. (A similar re-vote in the case of a second union - NATFHE - was avoided when this group dissolved in a merger with the AUT to become the UCU).

In the Anglican Church, in which the politics resembles the trade union movement, a majority of the leaders overturned the attempt to become involved in a one-sided and counterproductive political attack. More recently, many members of the National Union of Journalists are demanding a revote after being embarrassed by the obvious pro-Palestinian bias formally adopted by their organization, which showed that British media coverage of the Middle East was systematically biased. These changes, while relatively small, demonstrate that attempts to demonize and boycott Israel are not inevitable, and that the inherently immoral and absurd nature of such campaigns can be exposed.


Where's the Outrage?

The article below was addressed to American Jews but it applies equally well to people of goodwill everywhere

I took a break from the hood the other night to speak to a large synagogue in Palos Verdes called Congregation Ner Tamid -- and I used a word that got me in trouble. The occasion was a showing of "Obsession" -- a documentary on the rise of radical Islam and the worldwide terror that has accompanied it -- and it was sponsored by CAMERA, an organization that counteracts anti-Israel bias in the mainstream media.

"Obsession" assaults you with the hatred that fuels the fire of radical Islam. The film points out that the majority of Muslims are not radical Islamists, but when it hones in on the radicals, the words and images make your skin crawl. You see an old sheik, speaking to what looks like 100,000 people, pulling out a sword and exhorting his screaming flock to kill every Jew they can find. One radical Muslim after another is shown giving motivational speeches on the fine art of Jew-hatred. And Jew-killing. Lots and lots of Jew-killing.

But here's the crazy part: There's not a word from the Jew-haters about the dreaded Occupation. Not a peep about roadblocks or fences or the oppressive policies of the Zionist occupier, which, as we are so often reminded, lie "at the heart" of our enemies' discontent. The Jew-haters are honest: they want Jews dead. All Jews. Roadblocks or no roadblocks. West Bank or no West Bank. Talk about an inconvenient truth.

When you see all this Jew-hatred, it's tempting to be dismissive and say "These are only the radicals; there are many more moderates." Or to get all cynical because "The radicals will always want to kill us. So what's new?" These are great coping mechanisms that help us maintain our composure. But here's what's new: The radicals aren't just getting bigger and bolder on the battlefield, they're also, amazingly, winning the PR war.

Who would have figured that two years after our heart-wrenching evacuation of Gaza -- two years of continued relentless attacks from an enemy that brazenly calls for our destruction -- we'd be the target of a boycott from British professors? Again, it's tempting to get all blase and say "Been there, done that."

But this blase attitude is a reason why we are losing the PR battle: We assume that getting all worked up about stuff doesn't really make a difference, or that it's not very becoming of Jews. The practical thing to do is to stay composed and look for solutions.

Well, here's a practical idea: Let's all take a time-out from "solutions" and get a little worked up. Let's stop being so composed and start being outraged. Because if we continue like this, the whole world, except for America and Micronesia, will be boycotting Israel. Israel needs the Diaspora to get more emotional right now -- because emotional outrage wins PR battles. Our enemy understands that a lot better than we do.

The most effective TV interview I ever saw happened about five years ago on a major network, while Israel was in the midst of numerous suicide bombings. The anchorman asked Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg, a very composed and sophisticated man, why Israel could not arrest these suicide bombers. Well, you should have seen the outrage on Mr. Burg's face. With clenched fists and an almost growling voice, he said something like: "But how do you expect us to do that when they can blow up in one second?" It was visceral, it was sincere and it didn't come from talking points. It came from his heart, and I guarantee you it played well in Wisconsin.

After seeing the Jew-hatred in "Obsession," it was hard not to get worked up when I spoke at the Palos Verdes synagogue. I wanted the Jew-haters of the world to know that we have as much passion to defend Jewish lives as they have passion to destroy us. But I got a little carried away. I said that we need to have our own Jihad -- a Jihad for life -- and to show the enemy that we believe in it as much as they believe in their "Jihad for death."

A fellow Jew rose up in indignation. My clever twist did not amuse him. No matter how much I tried to explain the subtleties of turning our enemy's word on its head to convey our own "noble struggle," the word went too far for him. I understood his discomfort, but maybe that's precisely why we need to go there. Our PR timidity has backfired on us. I'm not saying we should emulate "Wrestlemania" announcers (how sincere do they look?), but I am saying that we need to get bolder and more emotional. It makes us more human.

For example, when the bombs fall on Sderot, instead of empty cliches like "no terrorist is immune" and "this is unacceptable" and so forth, we should have the guts to run ads all over the world and get on CNN and the BBC and say things like: "We gave them land, and they gave us war." "This proves that the occupation was never the key problem," and "How would England respond if the same amount of bombs fell on Manchester?"

These are not think-tank words, they're real words. If we can deliver them with the same intensity Mr. Burg used five years ago, the world will better understand the justness of our cause.

The amazing thing about the PR battle is that it's probably the only area right now where we can win. The political, military and diplomatic landscapes are a mess, but the PR landscape is wide open. Especially post-disengagement, there are numerous PR victories that are ours for the taking. In a brilliant article in Haaretz, Moshe Arens explains why you can't deter terrorists, you can only fight them. It's time for Jews of all stripes to get their mojo back, and join the PR fight. Even if your only weapon is your PC, and your mouth.


In defence of the offensive

From the squawks of protest over the airing of Diana's dying moments to accusations at Anfield, why are we all so righteously offended?

The urge to display superior indignation, and the desire to be self-righteously offended, are certainly traits of Western society in the twenty-first century. Indignant victimhood manifests itself in various guises: in the pages of the Daily Mail, in Liverpudlians complaining about being insulted by UEFA or Boris Johnson, in anti-tobacco whingers moaning about passive smoking (who now, in Ireland, complain that their mates leave them in the bar to hang outside) and in Christians - who believe ill-thought-out polemics from the likes of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens constitute an anti-Christian vendetta.

Like many pervasive malaises in history, such as anti-Semitism, or being fanatically against McDonalds and Murdoch, the urge to take offence is something that transcends left and right. The Deeply Offended are as likely to be lefties who sense the phantom of institutional racism everywhere as they are to be those who cry `It's political correctness gone mad!'

The howls of outrage over Channel 4's decision to show photographs of Diana, Princess of Wales's fatal crash illustrated the vacuity of this predisposition. As usual, ripe condemnation came from people who had not actually seen the programme, Diana: The Witnesses in the Tunnel. In the end, the photographs weren't outrageous, and the only one featuring Diana explicitly had her face blacked-out. There were consequently less than 20 complaints made to Channel 4 after the programme was aired on Wednesday night. Most of these photographs were in the public domain already, having been printed in the press after the event in August 1997, and what is more, there are far more genuinely shocking pictures of a dying Diana on the internet. But television programmes on Channel 4 remain a collective, public event, in a way that a three-minute video of someone getting his head sawn off on YouTube will never be; only public events provide an opportunity for public opprobrium.

Diana: The Witnesses in the Tunnel largely sought to exonerate the paparazzi who, in pursuing the Princess's car, were initially blamed for causing it to speed and then crash. It initially succeeded, reminding us that Diana might not have died if she was wearing a seat belt and if her driver wasn't drunk, and that the cameramen did not hinder the emergency services in trying to save her life. But it pushed the viewer's goodwill too far in seeking to make us sympathise with the paparazzi involved. They may have not been culpable, but they were pretty despicable creatures; they may not have been killers but they did make Diana's life pretty intolerable. On the programme, the paparazzi came out with cant like they `were only doing a public service', rather than telling the cold truth: they were trying to flog pictures of a mortally-wounded woman only minutes after having taken them.

But Diana, too, was cynical when it came to the media, falling into the celebrity trap of courting the media when it suited her, and then blaming them for `intrusion' when it did not - she herself actively used television and the paparazzi to shame her ex-husband and deflect attention away from Camilla Parker-Bowles. In many respects, she was little better than those who pursued her into that Parisian tunnel.

Diana apologists, conspiracy theorists and fantasists-in-general no longer hold the paparazzi responsible, but believe the British government was somehow involved, that she was bumped off by MI6 because she was carrying Dodi Fayed's child. Even I was part of this conspiracy, according to Dodi's father. After I wrote a short book in 2004 called Conspicuous Compassion, I received a letter from Mohammed Al-Fayed, accusing me of being involved with MI6. But the sad truth is that, as a study from the journal Fortean Times showed, those who believe in conspiracy theories often have experienced unexpected bereavement, which is why we must put Al-Fayed's consequent behaviour in perspective.

The bereaved fall for conspiracy theories because when horrific accidents happen, they want a reason. Fatal car crashes involving the young and the beautiful seem so unfair, such an affront to our sense of natural justice. But we live in an age where accidents don't happen, in which the word accident has actually been removed from the Highway Code. Unfortunately, accidents do happen and, in any case, Diana's death wasn't even an accident. There was a reason, but it was prosaic and partially self-inflicted, and not fantastical and caused by others.

For the same reason, this week, Liverpool supporters have once again failed to recognise that some of their fans are badly behaved, and are `outraged' at UEFA's suggestion that they are. But Liverpudlians are very good at Deeply Offended Indignation. For instance, whenever someone mentions bringing back terraces, they are always shouted down by Liverpudlians who remind us of Hillsborough (even though it was perimeter fencing, not terracing, bad policing and the behaviour of some of their supporters, that helped to cause that tragedy). Sometimes, a complainant just wants to complain for complaining's sake.


Pesky facts: Abortion Associated with Mental Health Problems, Raises Suicide Risk

Doctors in England testifying before the British House of Commons said abortion is a serious risk to a woman's mental health and can make her six times more likely to consider committing suicide. The doctors cited medical studies backing up their assertions as they commented on a bill to make the information available to women.

Dr. Trevor Stammers, who practices at St. George's University of London and teaches medicine there, said he supported the measure to make women aware of the risks and dangers associated with abortion. He said that in 26 years of medical practice, all of which come after Britain legalized abortion in 1967, he has seen numerous women come to him with physical or mental health problems resulting from their abortion. "The most recent research has shown very clearly that abortion presents a serious risk to the long-term mental health of women and why it is therefore important to know which women are being offered abortion on mental health grounds," he told lawmakers, according to a report in the Evening Standard newspaper.

Dr. Robert Balfour, a consultant gynecologist, agreed with the analysis and pointed to a study of 5,000 women in Finland conducted between 1987 and 2000 showing that those who had an abortion after an unplanned pregnancy were six times more likely to commit suicide than women who carried their baby to term. The newspaper reported him saying that evidence for mental health problems following an abortion is apparent in his hometown in South Wales. Balfour indicated that there were more psychiatric admissions and suicides among women who had abortions than those who gave birth.

In October 2006, some fifteen of Great Britain's leading obstetricians and psychiatrists penned an open letter to the London Times acknowledging the psychological consequences of abortions.

Also last year, a university researcher in New Zealand conducted an extensive study on thousands of women and found that 40 percent of those who have abortions suffer from mental health problems following an abortion. Those problems included depression, addictions to alcohol or drugs, sleep disorders, thoughts of suicide and the problems were much greater than those faced by women who had miscarries or carried their pregnancy to term.



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

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

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


11 June, 2007

PC brigade ban pin-ups on RAF jets - in case they offend women and Muslims

British battiness keeps spreading

It probably shows how old I am but it was the picture of the great old plane above that I liked best

In killer heels and little else, they have a definite deadly charm. But the risque images of women that have decorated warplanes since the First World War have been scrubbed out. The Ministry of Defence has decreed they could offend the RAF's female personnel. Officials admitted they had no record of any complaints from the 5,400 women in the RAF.

But commanders are erring firmly on the side of caution and "nose art", as it is known, has been consigned to the history books. Harrier jump jet bombers currently launching daily airstrikes against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan have been scrubbed clean to comply with the orders. Critics said the MoD should be focusing on more important issues - such as the quality and quantity of equipment available to British forces sent off to war.

Nose art first appeared on warplanes during the First World War and enjoyed a golden age during the Second World War when thousands of American fighters and bombers were decorated with pictures of glamorous women. Military commanders tolerated the practice as a morale booster. Famous examples include the Memphis Belle, a U.S. Army Air Force B-17 bomber that was the subject of a 1990 Hollywood movie. Many RAF units picked up the practice from the Americans. During the Second World War it was common to see images of movie stars including Rita Hayworth and Jane Russell on British bombers heading for Germany. Nose art enjoyed another surge in popularity during the 1991 and 2003 Gulf Wars, when risque images appeared on many British warplanes.

The decision to ban the images followed a visit by glamour models to southern Afghanistan before Christmas. During the trip they signed paintings of themselves on RAF aircraft. Commanders decided the images were sexist and insisted there was no place for them in the modern armed forces. There was also concern that they could cause offence in a muslim country where until 2001 all women were forced to wear the head-to-toe burkha in public.

Glamour model Lucy Pinder, 23, who visited the RAF detachment at Kandahar last November and signed a painting of herself on a Harrier jet, said such images were only "harmless fun". "It's very flattering and it's nice that they get to do something that takes their minds off things for a while," she said from her home in Winchester, Hampshire.

Conservative MP Phillip Davies said: "Has the MoD really got nothing better to worry about at a time when there are serious concerns over equipment and resources available to our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan?"

An RAF spokesman defended the decision to remove images which he said "cut across" the service's culture of equal opportunities. "If you have women flying aircraft and working on them as engineers then these kinds of pictures are inappropriate," he said. "That's why it's crossed the line and that's why they have been removed."


We're in danger of cosseting our children

WHEN I was eight years old, the biggest concern about me being out on the street without my parents came not from them but from my older brother. Given the task of walking me the few blocks to our primary school, he would stuff my hand into the pocket of his duffle coat. This was his attempt at disguising the fact he had to hold hands with his little sister. Two years later he was at high school and I was allowed to meander home from school on my own. At ten, I would catch the bus into town to meet my friends at the swimming pool and grab some hot chips on the way home.

By 14, my parents had little idea exactly where I was when I went "out" and life revolved around my mates. Some of the friends I made then are still the first I turn to in times of trouble or celebration.

Now, according to research from the UK charity The Children's Society, we have a very different idea of how much freedom our kids should have to socialise on their own with their peers. Almost half of adults think kids should not be out unaccompanied with their friends on their own until they are aged 14, or even older. The over-60s were the most cautious, with 22 per cent saying children should be aged over 16 before going out alone. The same research found that if a kid has a problem - like bullying - they are much more likely to confide in a friend than a parent.

"Children have told us loud and clear that friendship matters, and yet this is an area in which we appear to be failing them," says Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of The Children's Society. "As a society we are in a real quandary. On the one hand we want freedom for our children, but on the other we are becoming increasingly frightened to let them out. "If we go too far down the road of being overprotective and not allowing children to explore, to play, to be up with their peers, but also with children of other ages, then we may be influencing the way in which they look at society and social interaction later on."

The research also revealed that friendships formed when people are young are very important, with 69 per cent of adults still in touch with at least one childhood friend. There are also signs that kids growing up now may have less friends to chose from when they are allowed to socialise. The Children's Society Good Childhood Inquiry also revealed since 1986 the number of children with no best friends had increased from 12.5 to nearly 20 per cent.

When I was ostracised for a time from a close group of girlfriends at the age of about 13, I took myself to the local park and hung around until I was accepted by the group of teens that hung out there. I hope I have the courage to give my daughter that kind of freedom. The warning here is clear - we are in danger of creating a generation of kids wrapped in cotton wool, who will end up lonely and isolated because of our fears for their safety.


Abortion-Loving British Media Furious Over Catholic Bishops' Intensified Opposition

Bishops call publicly pro-abortion Catholics who receive communion "a cause of great scandal"

The Catholic bishops of England and Wales are on a pro-life roll that has infuriated pro-abortion media pundits. The Archbishop of Cardiff in Wales is the latest to enter the fray, in conjunction with the upcoming 40th anniversary of legalized abortion in Britain, with what amounts in British Church circles to stern words for political supporters of a "woman's right to choose."

Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff, told BBC Radio that people who have publicly repudiated the Church's teaching "ought to remove themselves from receiving communion because it would be a cause of great scandal."

Archbishop Smith said, "A priest or bishop is not permitted to refuse communion unless it is quite clear that the person has been excommunicated or there is a very public rejection of church teaching."

Smith's comments follow those last week by Keith Cardinal O'Brien or Edinburgh, who called abortion "an unspeakable crime," and the chief prelate of England and Wales, Cormac Cardinal Murphy O'Connor who told Catholic abortion proponents in Parliament to rethink whether their support is compatible with continuing to receive Holy Communion.

"The pastoral reality is," Smith continued, "that if a Catholic politician manifestly, clearly goes against the church's teaching, then they ought to remove themselves from receiving Communion, because it would be a cause of great scandal."

English Catholics, accustomed as they have been historically to persecution and diminished legal and social status, have traditionally kept a low religious profile in political life. But increasing pressure on religious freedom by the homosexual lobby, the growth of public sentiment in Britain against unfettered abortion and an increase in political activity by British Evangelicals has emboldened Catholic leaders.

The apparent ending of the bishops' 40 year long reticence on abortion has touched off a storm of editorial rage in the overwhelmingly pro-abortion British press, accustomed to more diffident language from English Catholics.

Jackie Ashley railed in the Guardian today, calling the bishops' defence of life "an assault on women's right to abortion." She predicted a "return to the dark ages...of the horrors of backstreet abortion."

Ashley said Bishop Smith's comments were important because of the "ferocity" of the tone and issued a threat against any further public opposition by Catholics. The bishops' statements, she said, are "language and thinking wholly against our constitution and tradition. What they have done is perilous for their religion, never mind for women who have decided to have an abortion."

In the Scotsman, columnist Dani Garavelli, who claims to be a Catholic "at odds" with the Church, called the Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life and sexuality, "dogmatic, intemperate and ultimately self-defeating." While she admitted that Cardinal O'Brien had a democratic right to dissent, Garavelli called his homily "at best emotional blackmail and at worst a threat to the political system."

"The Church is swapping its role as lobbyist for something altogether more sinister," Garavelli writes. "If it gets away with this, how long before the threat of `excommunication' is extended to the position of Catholic MPs and MSPs on other issues such as civil partnerships or sex education?"

Set against this, Jemima Lewis, a self-proclaimed "pro-choice liberal" and "lapsed Catholic" columnist in the Independent, wonders what has sent the "liberal establishment into conniptions." "I should have thought the freedom to voice one's beliefs was a central feature of any democracy," Lewis remarked. "As if we liberals would never dream of imposing our ideas about, say, gay adoption upon a doubtful public."

"You can't win a debate by shouting down your opponent. It makes you look as though you've got something to hide," Lewis concludes.


Who would be a boys' football coach?

A new survey shows many men are reluctant to work with children in case people think they're secret paedophiles

Both the UK government and big volunteering organisations have long denied that Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks and other child protection measures put adults off volunteering. The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill, which passed through the Houses of Parliament in London at the end of last year, requires that all those who work with children must submit to a background check first. As one Home Office official responsible for CRB checks recently assured me, it is only those who have something to hide who are put off.

Yet a new survey by the children's charity NCH - at the start of Volunteering Week - finds that 17 per cent of men wouldn't volunteer to work with children because they would face a criminal records check. Moreover, 13 per cent wouldn't volunteer because they fear that they could be perceived as a paedophile.

These results are a marker of twisted contemporary attitudes to adult-child relations. A man who says that he likes teaching children is now apt to draw glances. `So, why do you want to teach boys' football anyway?' To enjoy teaching and being with children - an enjoyment that is surely essential if we are to pass on experience and knowledge to the next generation out of enthusiasm rather than dry obligation - becomes suspicious.

Only the joyless bureaucrats, who have their child protection handbooks in their back pocket and know the `correct manner of comforting a child', are deemed okay to allow near tender young people. They are beyond suspicion because they have effectively placed themselves under perpetual monitoring. Working with children becomes less a source of enjoyment, because an adult is driven to develop young talent or has passion for a sport or art, and instead becomes a procedure that must be carried out correctly.

NCH is understandably worried by these survey results, and says that male role models are essential for children's development. How right it is. But NCH's response - to emphasise the ease of CRB checks, and outline the secure procedures it has in place - may not assuage the doubts of reluctant men. The NCH chief executive, Clare Tickell, gave a description of male volunteers that was not unlike that of prisoners on day release. `We work hard to ensure volunteers are checked by the police, trained and monitored, which we hope encourages men to come forward and helps assuage the public's concern.'

Come forward, football coaches, to be checked by the police, trained and monitored! Some men may be deterred because they don't want petty past convictions - youthful graffiti or pub fights - to be revealed to their fellow volunteers. Others may be deterred because this just doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun.

There is a bizarre assumption here: that if everybody is `careful' about how they behave with children, this does something to combat paedophilia. The withdrawing of ordinary human concern is seen as the solution to dealing with twisted individuals. This is quite the opposite of the truth. It is surely only by affirming good intentions that those with less good intentions are shown up and dealt with. Once we view millions of genuine adult child relationships as poisonous, we blur the distinction between the decent and twisted, the good and the bad.

Child protection procedures mean that children grow up in an increasingly sterile world, devoid of enthusiastic adult role models that could spark their passion for sports or hobbies. And when decent adults withdraw, or place themselves under perpetual checks and monitoring, this cannot leave children any safer either.



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

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

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


10 June, 2007

Britain protects gross sexual deviants

Or is it a determination to hide gross bureaucratic bungling?

The findings of an inquiry into why a convicted murderer freed from prison was able to abduct and rape a ten-year-old boy will remain secret because its publication would infringe the killer's right to privacy. The Parole Board cites the Data Protection Act to justify its refusal to make public the findings of an internal review into its 2005 decision to free Stephen Ayre.

A separate internal inquiry was conducted by the Probation Service into its supervision of Ayre after his release. It was sent to the Home Office and also remains private. Ayre, 45, was jailed for life in 1985 for bludgeoning Irene Hudson, 25, to death with an iron bar. She had a mental age of 13. He was given a minimum tariff of 14 years. His first four attempts to gain parole were rejected and he had served 20 years in prison before he was finally released, with the approval of a parole panel, in April 2005.

Ayre spent the next six months in a Probation Service hostel before he was allowed to move into rented accommodation in Shipley, West Yorkshire, in October 2005. He was still being monitored by the service. Four months later, in February last year, he lured a ten-year-old boy to his flat, promising to give him a BMX bicycle. He threatened to slash the terrified child's throat before raping him.

Ayre admitted abduction and rape and was told by a judge that he would spend the rest of his life behind bars. Mr Justice Tugendhat told him that it was not the court's role to establish "how you were free to commit these . . . very serious offences", but added that "the family and the public will be concerned about certain aspects of this case".

After the hearing, West Yorkshire Probation Service announced that it had ordered an internal inquiry into its role "as a matter of urgency". The Parole Board also referred the case to its review committee to establish what lessons could be learned. The Parole Board revealed yesterday that although its review had been completed, its findings would remain private for fear of breaching Ayre's right to confidentiality under the Data Protection Act. A Parole Board spokesman said that it had wanted to make its report public but had received legal advice to the contrary. "We took legal opinion on this because we would like to put more information into the public domain. We want a more transparent and open process," he said. "The advice we got was that you can't publish anything that relates to individual prisoners because of the Data Protection Act."

The only information that the Parole Board has made public relates to "organisational findings" that do not affect Ayre's right to privacy. These include the need, in future, to ensure that no important information is missing from the dossier considered by the parole panel before it decides whether or not a prisoner should be released. No indication is given of what key information was missing from the dossier prepared by the prison and probation services in Ayre's case.

Maxine Myatt, director of interventions for West Yorkshire Probation Service, said last night that its internal review of the case had been conducted "rigorously and objectively". The report was sent to the Home Office and the review's recommendations had been swiftly implemented.

Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley, has fought unsuccessfully for the two reports to be made public. He claimed last night that the Data Protection Act was being used as an excuse to prevent the publication of potentially damning findings. "If it really is the case that this Act is preventing their publication, then the law should be changed to make sure that such reports can be made public," he said. "A convicted murderer was released from prison and raped a boy in my constituency. For the public to have confidence in the criminal justice system, they need to know what went wrong. "Until something changes, people are going to believe that the rules are there to protect the rights of convicted criminals and not those of the decent, law-abiding public."

Freed on licence:

Damien Hanson stabbed John Monckton to death at his Chelsea home. Had been released three months earlier after serving just six years for attempted murder

Anthony Rice a rapist on probation, killed Naomi Bryant, 40, nine months after being freed from a 16-year jail sentence

Peter Voisey sexually assaulted a six-year-old girl in North Tyneside while the subject of a multi-agency public protection arrangement. He had served two years for assaulting a 12-year-old girl

Yousef Bouhaddou stabbed Robert Symons to death in October 2004 after being let out weeks earlier

Adrian Thomas, Michael Johnson, Jamaile Morally and Indrit Krasniqi gang members on probation who raped, tortured and stabbed Mary-Ann Leneghan, 16, in 2005

Mark Goldstraw murdered three children and their stepfather in an arson attack in 2006, 18 months after jail release.


Judicial Speech Code: Opposing a nominee for words he never said

Move over, Roe v. Wade. The latest liberal judicial litmus test is whether the nominee is willing to repudiate the phrase "homosexual lifestyle." Believe it or not, that's one of the two raps against Leslie Southwick, whose nomination for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals comes before the Senate Judiciary Committee today.

After more than five months of Democratic control, Ralph Neas, Nan Aron and other liberal activists are so desperate to prove their relevance that they will grasp at any allegation to put another trophy kill over their mantel. What happens to Judge Southwick's nomination may well preview the fate of other appeals-court nominees in the rest of President Bush's term.

We'll come to the specific charges against the judge in a moment, but first a word about his r‚sum‚. He is no Priscilla Owen or Janice Rogers Brown--prominent conservative jurists whose appellate nominations were filibustered by Democrats in previous Congresses. Judge Southwick has been a member of the Mississippi Court of Appeals since 1994, with time out for a military leave from 2004 to 2006, when he served in Iraq. His record is so uncontroversial that last fall the Judiciary Committee unanimously approved him for a district court judgeship. The year ended before the full Senate could vote on that nomination. But when Michael Wallace withdrew for the Fifth Circuit after Democratic objections, the White House nominated Judge Southwick as an act of bipartisan good faith.

So much for that. His nomination looked safe enough until two weeks ago, when liberal critics, having scoured his 7,000-plus rulings on the Mississippi appeals bench, uncovered two allegedly hanging offenses. Both were about words that the judge himself never uttered but were contained in decisions he joined--one involving homosexuals, the other race.

S.B. v. L.W. is a 2001 opinion upholding a lower court's ruling giving custody of a child to her father rather than her lesbian mother (on the basis of several factors, including the mother's conduct). Judge Southwick didn't write the ruling, but he joined the majority opinion, which used the phrase "homosexual lifestyle." Mr. Neas calls the language "troubling," and Human Rights Campaign, a gay lobbying group, says it "denigrates" their members and that Judge Southwick's statements to Judiciary suggest his positions have not "evolved," whatever that means.

The second case, Richmond v. Mississippi Department of Human Services, involves the "N" word. Judge Southwick is criticized for agreeing with the majority in a decision upholding the state employment agency's decision not to fire a woman who had used a racial slur in her workplace. The appeals court found that the agency acted reasonably, given that the woman had used the slur only once and the target of the slur had accepted her apology and not reported it. The Congressional Black Caucus says Judge Southwick's decision to join the Richmond opinion shows he has an "unacceptable record on race." It's more accurate to say this is reverse racism by association against any white nominee from Mississippi.

The flimsy pretext for stopping Judge Southwick suggests that the judicial left has decided to browbeat Democrats into blocking nearly all Bush appellate nominees. They're hoping to retake the White House in 2008 and want everyone to forget that the current President still has 19 months in office. Only three Bush appointees have been approved this year, and there are currently five nominees for 13 vacancies. At this pace, the confirmation rate won't come close to the 15 appeals-court nominees approved by a GOP Senate during Bill Clinton's last two years.

Judiciary Democrats aren't saying how they'll vote today, but Republicans believe they have the votes to confirm if Judge Southwick's nomination gets to the Senate floor. If the judge loses--or if he's approved in committee and then denied an up-or-down vote on the floor--you'll know Ralph Neas is running the confirmation asylum.



Post lifted from Taranto. See the original for links

Yesterday we noted that President Bush's nominee for surgeon general, James Holsinger, is under attack for a 1991 paper in which he observed that the sexes are "fully complementary" and that some forms of male homosexual activity are considerably more dangerous than ordinary intercourse.

The Associated Press reports that Holsinger's detractors are also complaining about his religious activities:

"Holsinger has come under fire from gay rights groups for voting to expel a lesbian pastor from the United Methodist Church. . . . Also, Holsinger helped found a Methodist congregation that, according to gay rights activists, believes homosexuality is a matter of choice and can be "cured."

As president of the Methodist Church's national Judicial Council, Holsinger voted last year to support a pastor who blocked a gay man from joining a congregation. In 2004, he voted to expel a lesbian from the clergy. The majority of the panel voted to keep the lesbian associate pastor in place, citing questions about whether she had openly declared her homosexuality, but Holsinger dissented. . . .

As for the congregation Holsinger helped establish, Hope Springs Community Church, the Rev. David Calhoun told the Lexington Herald-Leader last week that the Lexington church helps some gay members to "walk out of that lifestyle."

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which is opposing the nomination along with the Human Rights Campaign and other local and national groups, calls such a practice "nothing short of torture" for gays.
This is an attack not only on Holsinger but also on the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, which means that the government has no business dictating its moral preferences to the United Methodist Church. That same First Amendment protects all congregants who find the Hope Springs approach objectionable. They are free to follow their conscience, or to find another congregation, denomination or religion.

U.S. senators, however, are bound by the Constitution, which stipulates in Article VI that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." Any senator who votes against Holsinger's confirmation because of his church activity is defying the Constitution (although there is probably no way to hold such a senator to account apart from the ballot box).

Finally, take note of that quote, which comes from a statement by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, that so-called reparative therapy is "nothing short of torture." This may shed light on some of the hysterical claims about the treatment of terrorists at Guantanamo. After all, if voluntary counseling is "torture," then pretty much everything is.

Australia: His Eminence upholds Catholic orthodoxy without fear or favour

He is wise to do so. It is the wishy-washy churches that have empty pews

Comment below by Christopher Pearson

It should have come as no surprise to anyone last week when George Pell [Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney] announced he would ask principals in Sydney's Catholic schools and teachers in charge of religious instruction in his diocese to affirm their loyalty to Catholic doctrine. He wants them to swear an oath of fidelity to what the church teaches, with specific reference to various issues of sexual morality and an exclusively male priesthood. But the theological modernists who've long ruled the roost in Sydney were appalled at the idea of a bishop taking orthodoxy seriously and expecting the people responsible for the formation of young Catholics to do likewise.

They voiced their indignation in the secular media and fringe Catholic magazines, as modernists and ultra-liberals have been doing since the Second Vatican Council. However, on this issue the boat-rocking exercises met with limited success. I expect most non-Catholics don't much care one way or the other and there's also a matter-of-fact general acceptance that every club has its rules and members in good standing abide by them.

Later in the week, Pell put himself in the line of fire a second time by issuing a statement about embryonic stem cell research, on behalf of the Catholic bishops of NSW. It was essentially a collegial response to contentious legislation rushed into the NSW parliament. But it was also another pretext for the cardinal's clerical detractors, The Sydney Morning Herald and the ABC to brand him as an authoritarian zealot.

Sydney's Anglican Archbishop Phillip Jensen condemned the bill just as forcefully as Pell did. The research the bill was designed to give licence to was compared to the unethical developments of Nazi scientific experiments. He also warned that, if passed, the bill would "enshrine in law the corrupt view that the embryos used are not morally significant or important". Despite that, Jensen was left unscathed, on this occasion at least, and almost all the media attention was on the cardinal.

The statement Pell had issued was unobjectionable. "No Catholic politician, indeed no Christian or person with respect for human life, who has properly informed his conscience about the facts and ethics in this area, should vote in favour of this immoral legislation."

One of the main responsibilities of bishops is to teach their people precisely so they can develop their individual consciences, informed by sound doctrine rather than in a moral vacuum. There is an even weightier responsibility when telling Catholic politicians, who have to vote on contentious moral issues, what the church's position is. This is especially the case, as was obvious last week, when they are ignorant and not very observant Catholics, indifferent to the church's teachings when they are politically inconvenient.

No Catholic theologian of any consequence has argued in favour of human embryo cloning, or creating embryos with three or more genetic parents, or creating human-animal hybrids for testing purposes. Although these procedures raise new issues, in the sense the science itself is new, they are experiments that contravene fundamental tenets regarding human procreation. No consequentialist argument, based on possible miracle cures down the track, could trump first principles.

Pell tells me that when The Sydney Morning Herald's Linda Morris attended his press conference, she had given advance notice of two questions on the subject of excommunication. He told the press, as she duly reported the next day, that he wasn't threatening Catholic politicians who chose to support the bill with excommunication. But he did say there would be "consequences in the life of the church" for those who voted for the legislation.

Consequences short of excommunication were once widely understood, both by Catholics and most religiously literate adults. They ranged from the risk of disapproval from other people in the pew and earnest entreaties to think things over by the clergy to stern words from your confessor, if you availed yourself of the sacrament of penance. He might withhold absolution until there was some sign of contrition or even advise against going to communion until you had acknowledged the error of your ways. Such consequences, which these days would perhaps weigh only on a delicate conscience but still reflect the seriousness of the offence, fall a long way short of medieval declarations of anathema, with bell, book and candle, as the saying goes.

There has recently been a lot of (mostly ill-informed) media hype on the issue of excommunication. Raymond Burke, Archbishop of St Louis in the US, caused a great stir when he said he would refuse the sacrament to Catholic pro-choice Democratic candidate John Kerry in the lead-up to the previous presidential election.

On the plane to Brazil, Pope Benedict XVI told an interviewer that, in some cases where people were directly involved in assisting at an abortion, they automatically excommunicated themselves. This was the case in a technical sense, known as latae sententiae, whether or not the church formalised the matter by announcing it.

Voting in support of cloning is a serious matter, although not in the same grave category as participating in an abortion. Still, it is hard to imagine how any of the notionally Catholic MPs, of whatever party, who voted in favour of the bill could imagine themselves as being in good standing in their membership of the church. For all that, press speculation about possible excommunication combined with Pell's warning of lesser consequences had them waxing righteously indignant about threats and "bully-boy tactics".

NSW Premier Morris Iemma said he "wouldn't take kindly to being denied communion", as though it were a simple matter of entitlement. His deputy John Watkins said he was "a bit mystified by the authoritarian view" put by the cardinal. Frank Sartor, the NSW Planning Minister, went one better and described Pell's comments as "reminiscent of the Dark Ages".

Federal Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey decided to buy into the argument, even though it was a state issue. He offered, for all the world as though he'd given the matter great thought, the line: "I don't object to Pell expressing that opinion, but I do object to any suggestion that there are consequences."

As the cardinal noted in an article on Friday in The Sydney Morning Herald, actions do have consequences, as any politician who crosses the floor soon finds out. I was heartened to see NSW Liberal leader Barry O'Farrell undertook to consider what Pell had said and refrained from grandstanding. The Nationals' Adrian Piccoli couldn't resist boasting: "I would like to see them try and stop me taking communion."

NSW Emergency Services Minister Nathan Rees made the silliest contribution so far from a serving politician. He objected to what he called Pell's "emotional blackmail", saying: "The hypocrisy is world class. No government would seek to influence church teaching when providing taxpayer funds for the refurbishment of St Mary's Cathedral or the education of Catholic school children or to subsidise rates exemptions for churches." He also raised the possibility of referring the cardinal's remarks to the house's privileges committee: "I consider Cardinal Pell's incursion a clear and arguably contemptuous incursion into deliberations of the elected members of the parliament."

The debate hasn't reflected much credit on many of the Catholic politicians in the NSW parliament. Nor does it show the quality of instruction they received in church or in Catholic schools in a flattering light. It's clear many of them don't know the first thing about what their church teaches on life issues and don't regard themselves as being under any obligation to take notice when it's pointed out to them. They have a convenient and strangely Protestant notion of the sovereignty of conscience - shared, it seems, by Jesuit priest and academic Frank Brennan - and somehow imagine "everyone's entitled to their own opinion" in matters of faith and morals. There is a theological term for this. It's called "a condition of invincible ignorance".

When I spoke with Pell in the middle of the brouhaha, he sounded a bit saddened but not at all surprised by the turn the debate had taken. "All this talk of excommunication is a distraction from the main issues. No amount of political bluster will change the fact that this bill is an assault on human life, for gains which are so far nonexistent. Everyone claims to believe in the sanctity of human life. We really mean it."



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

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

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


9 June, 2007

Planned Protection for Predators

Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion operation, claims to be a trusted source of health information and medical care for young women. However, there is mounting evidence that the organization has failed miserably when it comes to protecting minor girls from sexual predators.

The latest example of this comes from Ohio, where a girl who was sexually abused by her father has filed suit against Planned Parenthood in Cincinnati. The girl says that Planned Parenthood failed to report the abuse she underwent when her father forced her into having an abortion. Following the abortion, the abuse continued for more than a year, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Now, under Ohio law, doctors, nurses, teachers, and others in positions of authority are required to report claims of abuse to law enforcement. Planned Parenthood official Becki Brenner was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that, if the girl had alleged abuse, "We would call and report as required by law." This statement indicates that the girl's case may boil down to "She said, PP said." PP is obviously betting that its support from some public officials and a vast number of media representatives will help shore up its case.

But isn't it ironic that an organization which claims to have the best interests of women at heart is questioning the credibility of a sexual abuse victim? Is that really a pro-woman stance?

If the Cincinnati incident were an isolated case, that might be one thing. But the fact is, there appears to be a pattern of PP failing to report sexual abuse to authorities. The American Life League, for instance, has documented a number of cases in which PP did not live up to its responsibility to report statutory rape. For instance, in 1998, in Glendale, Arizona, a 12-year-old girl who was raped by a foster brother had an abortion at PP. But PP never reported the rape to the police. It took another six months-and another appointment for abortion-before PP alerted authorities and the predator was arrested and convicted. The girl sued and a judge determined that PP was negligent for failing to report the rape. Court records indicate that the girl ultimately reached a settlement in the case.

Meanwhile, in 1999, an 11-year-old California girl went to a PP facility, saying she had been raped. The victim asked PP not to inform anyone, including her parents. However, the law clearly indicates that PP should have reported the rape to the police. In 2005, a PP website included a letter from the girl praising PP for keeping her rape a secret. Not only did PP fail to do its civic duty-it actually had the gall to publicize the fact. According to the American Life League, the letter was ultimately removed from the site-but the damage had already been done.

It's bad enough that PP actually accepts money to end the lives of tens of thousands of unborn babies. Now, there are indications that PP has, at times, been grossly negligent by failing to report allegations of statutory rape. It's going to take a great deal of public relations spin for PP to attempt to redeem itself in this situation.


What Would Methodists Do Without Experts?

Post lifted from Taranto. See the original for links

ABC News reports that in 1991, the United Methodist Church--Hillary Clinton's denomination--considered "changing its view that homosexuality violates Christian teaching."

During its deliberations, the church sought an expert opinion from a physician, James Holsinger, who produced an eight-page paper titled "Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality." Holsinger's paper did not address the question of whether "homosexuality violates Christian teachings." Rather, it discussed reproductive anatomy and the medical risks of certain types of male homosexual activity.

Ultimately, the UMC did not change its position. As noted here, Mrs. Clinton's church still adheres to the view that "the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church."

The separation of church and state notwithstanding, the United Methodists' deliberations on homosexuality have suddenly become a subject of interest to the U.S. Senate, because the president has nominated Holsinger to be surgeon general. According to ABC, "Doctors who reviewed the paper derided it as prioritizing political ideology over science, and Democratic aides on Capitol Hill say the paper will make his confirmation hearings problematic, if not downright bruising."

So what did the paper say? ABC's Web site headlines the article " 'Homosexuality Isn't Natural or Healthy.' " It puts these words in quotation marks even though they are not a direct quote. We have read the paper and will link to it as soon as we get done warning you that it contains a lot of discussion (in clinical, not vulgar, terms) of the mechanics of sexual intercourse as well as other, less familiar sexual behaviors. OK, here's the link. These are Holsinger's two main claims:

* The sexes are "fully complementary."

* Compared with ordinary intercourse, erotic activity that involves the alimentary tract poses far greater risks of injury and infection.

The first of these is obvious to all human beings and probably most lower mammals as well. The second is obvious to anyone who has occasion to think about the subject. (To those readers who would rather not, our apologies.)

At some level this is sort of funny: Mrs. Clinton's church had to find itself a medical expert to explain the facts of life. But what is chilling is that Holsinger now finds himself under political attack for stating the obvious.

This column takes a live-and-let-live approach on this subject, pretty much across the board. Mrs. Clinton's church's position on homosexuality is nobody's business but Mrs. Clinton and her coreligionists'. What consenting adults do in private is no one else's business either.

But when political activists try to render the complementrity of the sexes a taboo subject, and when one of the two major parties seems ready to accede to this Orwellian effort, something is seriously askew in our political culture.

Australia's PM negative on homosexual adoption

PRIME Minister John Howard says he is opposed to gay couples adopting children and heterosexual adoption is a benchmark society should maintain. But he said that didn't mean gay and lesbian people had no affection for children.

The Victorian Law Reform Commission has recommended to the Victorian Parliament that gay couples be allowed to adopt and lesbians have access to IVF treatment. Mr Howard said today he believed children should ideally have a mother and a father. "It gives children the best opportunity in life," he said on Southern Cross radio. "I know for some that sounds harsh, I don't think it's harsh, I think it's something that most people believe is the desired, the ideal outcome. "I'm not saying that gay and lesbian people don't display enormous affection to children."

The Prime Minister said limiting adoption to heterosexual couples was a benchmark Australian society should maintain. On IVF for lesbians and single women without partners, he said: "In the past we have objected to that."

The Victorian Law Reform Commission report, tabled in state parliament yesterday, said the Government should change the law to allow lesbians to access reproductive treatment, even if they are not medically infertile. "An appropriate test is whether a woman is 'in the circumstances in which she finds herself unlikely to become pregnant other than by a treatment procedure'," the report says. A court decision in 2000 found it was discriminatory to deny treatment to a woman based on whether or not she was in a relationship with a man.

Gay couples currently are unable to adopt in Victoria, but the commission says they should be able to. "The commission believes it is important the widest possible pool of people is available to help these children," the report says. "Research shows that a parent's sexuality is not a predictor of harm to children."

Felicity Marlowe, 33, said she looked forward to the changes being endorsed, as she had no legal status in the lives of 11-month-old twin boys Rafi and Callum, born to her partner of seven years, Sarah Marlowe. "It would mean a great deal to me to be able to receive that legal recognition, and in terms of the future rights of my children it is important too," said Ms Marlowe, a member of the Rainbow Families council. "The discriminatory laws that currently exist don't stop people from creating families, but they do undermine the rights ... of the children."

But Australian Families Association spokeswoman Angela Conway said the changes pandered to the gay agenda without considering the best interests of children.


Family group slams $2.5m anti-smack campaign

A hardy perennial resurfaces in Australia

A NEW $2.5 million campaign urging parents not to smack their children has upset a family group that supports smacking. It is not illegal for parents to smack their children, but the Federal Government's "Every Child is Important" campaign argues against it. The kits in 16 languages will be available soon in various community, health and education centres.

"Hitting a child does not teach acceptable ways to behave," project material says. "Instead it may result in a repeat of the misbehaviour. "Often children are so upset or angry after being hit, they forget why they are being punished."

Family Council of Victoria secretary Bill Muehlenberg said it was wrong to use taxpayers' money to push an anti-smacking line most parents would disagree with. Mr Muehlenberg, who smacked his three boys, said in some cases with small children it was the only option. "It's usually done as a last resort, done in love, done with moderation, self-control," he said. "In other words it's not the same as abuse, which we already have laws on the books about."

But Dr Joe Tucci, CEO of the Australian Childhood Foundation that compiled the "Every Child is Important" campaign, is opposed to smacking. He says parents should work out why their child is misbehaving and address the cause. "You don't have to hit your children to teach them right from wrong," he said.

Sunrise presenter and father of four David Koch is a high-profile smacking advocate. "Smacking is very different to being abusive," he told the Herald-Sun. Koch said it was wrong to smack when you were emotional, but an out-of-control child may need it.



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

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

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


8 June, 2007

"When I am President" - Hilary Clinton Promises Pro-homosexual Administration

Promises expansion of hate crimes laws, Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and ending military "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy

An era of aggressive homosexualist policies is the future for the United States, promises Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, brashly saying when, not if, she becomes President in 2009. Hillary Clinton, former First Lady and junior Senator from New York, released a statement for "Gay and Lesbian Pride Month" in which she told homosexual activists that the victories for the homosexual agenda obtained by Congressional Democrats and others in the past year are only shades of things to come.

Among these are the demise of the Federal Marriage Amendment, which she called "divisive and discriminatory," the implementation of civil unions legislation in New Jersey and New Hampshire, and the imminent passage of hate crimes legislation, which President Bush has promised to veto, out of concerns for its implications for religious liberty.

"I'm running for president to replace the divisive leadership of the past six years," said the former First Lady and junior Senator from New York. "America deserves a president who appeals to the best in each of us, not the worst; a president who values and respects all Americans, gay and straight; a president who treats all Americans equally no matter who they are or who [sic] they love."

"For six long years, the Bush Administration has only seen the families that matter to them. It's been a government of the few, by the few, and for the few," Clinton continued.

"But when I take office in January 2009, we'll finally be able to define success by more than the bigotry we stopped and the bad decisions we prevented. America will finally have a president who moves this country forward."

"She is calling anyone, specifically the President, but anyone else like the President who doesn't embrace her brand of moral relativism [a bigot]," said Matt Barber, Concerned Women for America's Policy Director for Cultural Issues to LifeSiteNews.com.

"If the dynamics were such that we had Hillary Clinton in the oval office and a liberal controlled congress then I think there is no doubt . that she will essentially remove any barrier to protection between first amendment freedoms and the radical homosexual agenda."

Clinton promised a broad expansion of federal hate crimes laws, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and the end of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in the military.

Barber explained ENDA and the hate crimes legislation are imperatives of the homosexual agenda that "set the table for religious persecution and puts us on a slippery slope to silence any opposition to homosexual lifestyle that is rooted in sincerely held religious beliefs."

Clinton has positioned herself as the de facto leader of homosexual activists in the United States when she told the homosexual activist group, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), "I am proud to stand by your side" and spoke enthusiastically of the "agenda we are pursuing."



The two most personally decent groups of people I know, by and large, are the Brits and the Israelis. The basic decency of the vast majority of people in those countries needs no defense. Which makes it all the weirder and more stomach-churning that the British college teachers union just voted to boycott Israel's universities and colleges.

There is something so grotesque and Kafkaesque about this move that it simply cries out for explanation. Why would England, home of the "Mother of Parliaments," support the destruction of a small and besieged country that has managed to maintain the only true democracy in the most treacherous neighborhood in the world? Why would professors and teachers, who are presumably dedicated to free speech and thought, be opposed to the free exchange of information with such a democracy?

Ten years ago Europe was appalled over ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. Today the British vote to open the door to ethnic cleansing in Israel. I've talked to British and Israeli friends about these things over the years. Two British academics have simply told me that they feel ashamed of their country. No one I know over there has defended it.

It's now clear that the anti-Israel boycott reflects the politics of Britain today, much like a surgical wound reflects the anatomy of the human body. The boycott move shows the powerful return of the anti-democratic Left in Britain, very similar to the Stalinist Left that did so much damage to Britain and the West in the 20th century. It also shows the new power in British academic institutions of Islamic fascists. A major fact is that the same UCU board that voted to deligitimize Israel also voted to block police inquiries about Islamist recruiting on university campuses. The message is clear. The academic Left will protect Islamofascists on campus.

The anti-Israel boycott further undermines democracy in Britain, which has seen a steep decline in its sovereignty with the rise of the European Union. More than 30,000 pages of regulations governing Britain and the rest of the EU have been unilaterally decreed out of Brussels. Parliamentary sovereignty is out of fashion. British foreign policy is increasingly to be run by Brussels, and the British armed forces are to be merged into the European Union. Killing the Anglo-American alliance is a major goal of these political maneuvers.

So the boycott is bad news for Israel's universities, but also for British freedoms and for America's strongest alliance in Europe. It should alarm all of us. Ask not for whom the bell tolls/It tolls for thee... as an English poet wrote, in an age that was not so different after all.

The majority of university professors in the UK are personally decent people, who were of course not consulted in the boycott vote. But they are intimidated by the code of Politically Correct conduct that now pervades all of British life is pushed by the hard Left, the BBC, radicals in the labor unions, and in the political parties. In places like London there is an explicit alliance between the hard Left and Islamist forces, as Melanie Phillips shows so chillingly in her book Londonistan. The threat of Islamist violence also shapes academic decisions in Britain today.

British universities therefore must live with the deep shame of a vile and anti-democratic action performed in their name. After all, they allowed the election of the union agitators who have been working to destroy Israel for years. Viciously slandering Israel and of course the United States has become socially acceptable in Europe today, and Britain is no exception. Both of those hatreds are very selective: no such superhuman standards of moral conduct are applied to Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, or Zimbabwe, or France for that matter. Politically Correct intimidation governs British society, which is as frightening in its own way as Cromwell's witch-hunts four centuries ago. The spirit of the witch-hunt is alive today, and Britain's academics, and for that matter Britain's Jews, seem to be frozen in fear. Given the dark history of Europe this is another throwback to a mad past.

Today UK universities allow Islamist imams to recruit terrorists without restraint, even after fifty innocent citizens were blown to shreds on the London Underground. British police estimate that more than two thousand British Islamofascists are ready to commit acts of terror. The universities silently acquiesce in hate campaigns mounted by Islamofascists and the hard Left. Those fanatics threaten violence against people who speak up against them, including teachers and students, just as the Hitler Youth did in its time. But we should not feel we are immune to the same forces in America, not after Harvard University fired its president for speaking a politically incorrect truth. Our campuses are also under siege.

It is still true that for evil to triumph it is only necessary for good men to do nothing; and it is also true that raising your voice in the face of threats and intimidation takes a lot more guts than keeping your mouth shut. The majority in Britain have therefore stayed silent in the face of a rising tide of fanaticism on their soil. Hatred has been allowed to become endemic. And of course, the most immediate victims are those who live there.

So this is a moment of historic shame for Britain and its cowed universities, the more so because the boycott vote was completely predictable. It culminates a long and systematic anti-Israel campaign in the Guardian and in the six-billion dollar-a-year involuntary fee-funded BBC, which laid the foundations for today's fall from grace. Alas, Britain is no longer the tolerant and humane country it once was.

The British Left, which spearheads the hate-Israel movement, has always been prone to a kind of Stalinist fanaticism, a psychological need to destroy scapegoats and idealize dictators. So this is not new. Martin Amis has written about the dangerous failure of the British Left to repudiate its Stalinist past. Amis' father Kingsley Amis was a life-long Stalin supporter. In Koba the Dread, Martin Amis tried to explain why Stalin and his followers were never denounced. It is a deeply shameful and frightening history --- frightening because of what it means for the future. Because the fanatics we see today are no different from the Stalinist fanatics of the 1930s. Today, we can even see a new Hitler-Stalin Pact in the making, as Socialist Workers' Party members and Islamofascists march side by side in the streets of London. The extremes touch hands again.

For the True Believers of the Left the crumbling of the Soviet Empire was not a sign of failure. Instead, it was a kind of opportunity to renew their faith. The Left could now argue that the Soviet Union was not a true test of Communism after all. One hundred million dead victims of Marxist regimes were not enough. If that kind of thinking isn't profoundly mad and twisted, I don't know what is. It could only spread by intimidation, and that is of course what Political Correctness is all about: It makes free speech dangerous and allows the Left to seize power, step by step. Today, BBC Radio 4 reports that its audience considers Karl Marx to be the greatest philosopher of all time. That is just a reflection of what the BBC has been drilling into its listeners day after day for all these years: It's a push-poll for the Ministry of Truth.

Americans tend to idealize our political mother country. The freedom-loving English-speaking tradition did lead to Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, but with quite a few mad totalitarian swings, which never quite stopped, all the way from Cromwell's witch-hunting years to the PC Left of the 21st century.

It is important for Americans to understand Europe's never-ending fascination with totalitarians. James Bond was not just a fantasy but an outright historical lie. The truth is that the Soviet KGB had British intelligence totally penetrated from the 1930s onward, because they selected their spies from promising young Communists at Cambridge University in the decades before. The Soviets also made good use of the homosexual underground that long existed in Britain, which gave its adherents lifelong practice in living two separate lives. So the top Soviet spies in British intelligence were commonly gay Cambridge graduates who were dedicated Communists. On the royalist side, King Edward VIII tried to persuade Hitler to make him the Nazi puppet king in England. In response, Churchill had Edward exiled to Barbados during World War II.

It was the absolute faith of totalitarianism that made it all so seductive. Communism presented a fanatical, absolutist answer to all questions in life. So did fascism. As insane as it may sound, even today, for Leftist Europeans, Karl Marx is still the Prophet of the future. Failures simply don't count.

Americans always make the mistake of thinking the British to be much more democratic than they really are. When we see the Coliseum in Rome, the great Cathedral at Chartres, and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, we rarely remind ourselves that those top tourist destinations stand for three kinds of violent European regimes --- from the brutal Roman Empire to Napoleon's mad attempt to stroke France's national ego by killing millions of other Europeans. In so many ways Europe is a mad place, as mad as the Middle East. It has simply been defeated time and time again. But that does not automatically make for a democratic mindset. The sad fact is that British democracy is in steep decline today, and nobody seems to care.

"Giving in to the totalitarian temptation," as German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer described his own youth, has always appealed to the Brits as well as other Europeans. Europe's bloody-minded professors have an attraction to totalitarianism, one that keeps popping up throughout history like some recurrent plague. Hitler and Stalin were not the first; unfortunately they were not the last either. Both Hitler and Stalin fancied themselves as high-flown European intellectuals, writing books and articles about politics, linguistics, race, and the nature of art. After their crimes were exposed, Europe's scribbler class simply looked for new mass-murdering heroes to worship. In the 1950's Jean-Paul Sartre sensed a shift in the political winds, and changed his powerful public support from Josef Stalin to Mao Zedong. Mao was even then murdering his own people by the millions, as Sartre must have known. He didn't care. It was all for a good cause.

Just a few years ago Europe proved itself completely unable to see Saddam Hussein's evil for what it obviously was, and to celebrate his overthrow with a sigh of relief. France and Germany tried their damndest to sabotage American policy toward Saddam, by hook or by crook. Today's difficult Iraq War is due in part to that constant sabotage by the Western Left, both in America and Europe.

It is not an accident that Saddam's Baath Party was a carbon copy of Europe's fascist parties of the 1930s. The Baath Party learned its craft from Europe. Saddam Hussein was a European-style dictator, like Franco, Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin. Today Europe again turns a blind eye to Ahmadi-Nejad's Islamofascist regime reaching toward nukes in Tehran. They simply hope they are not themselves in danger; it's their usual self-deception; soon, they will be fifteen minutes from Tehran by ICBM. Europe's proudly proclaimed "pacifism" is only passivism in the face of clear and present evil.

Along with a worship of absolutist politics, Europe's intellectuals have a record of hating democracy. Napoleon famously sneered that Britain was only "a nation of shopkeepers" --- petit bourgeois capitalists. Both the Communists and Fascists voiced the same contempt for Anglo-American democracy, and practically all of Europe's most famous intellectuals of the 20th century were totalitarians of one kind or the other. Mussolini and Mitterand actually managed to become both prominent Fascists and leading Socialists in a single lifetime.

The most revealing book about European politics is Julien Benda's Treason of the Clerks (that is, the intellectuals), written in the 1950s, but still as relevant as ever. It is a badly written book in many ways, but its point is made clear in the title: Benda pointed out that all of modern European politics is governed by the intellectual class, which always manages to betray its own peoples to serve itself. Socialism is of course a pure product of European intellect, starting from Plato's Republic to Karl Marx by way of Friedrich Hegel. Each of them celebrated their own version of dictatorship by the intellectuals. Not surprisingly, socialism serves the intellectual apparatus that it keeps in power. Europe today is still governed by elites who have contempt for democracy. Consider how they feel about the voters having a voice in the so-called "European Constitution," for example.

And there's the answer, I believe, to my question about the anti-Israel boycott. Why are the British university unions boycotting a free and democratic country, besieged by dictatorial murder cults? Because the universities are filled with bloody-minded professors, just as Churchill said. They are still searching for a True Belief. Relatively small numbers are Muslims, but Muslim fanatics have been allowed free reign by the Left, neo-Stalinists who have worked their way into positions of power, covered by the doctrine of Political Correctness. British universities are the breeding grounds of a new Left-fascist alliance, which operates by intimidation and media control, just as the old one did. Britain is no longer the country that defied Hitler. Instead, it has fallen back into another and darker identity.


Muslim sexual fears

When you meet the Somali-Dutch writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali, you can't help but notice she is a great beauty, far more so than photographs might suggest. She is one of those rare, graceful creatures who transcends racial and cultural stereotypes and is just exquisitely beautiful in anyone's language.

This is not a random sexist observation, made during an afternoon discussion with Hirsi Ali in the Crows Nest offices of the Centre for Independent Studies on Tuesday. Hirsi Ali's beauty in a way defines her, a strictly brought-up woman from Mogadishu who renounced her Muslim religion and her God, who lives in America as a 36-year-old emancipated, well educated, divorced, childless, atheist feminist with a Jewish boyfriend. It must have given her power over men from the start, a dangerous advantage in a culture defined by its toxic suppression of feminine power.

Her beauty is both an insult and a reproach to an Islamism so deeply troubled by female sexuality that it routinely mutilates the genitals of little girls to keep them "pure". In her best-selling autobiography, Infidel, Hirsi Ali describes her gruesome experience of female circumcision at five, and the heart-rending screams of her younger sister. It underlines her critique of her former religion, that its oppression of women is the root of all that ails the Muslim world. "You don't need a Freud to understand that the core problem with Islam is sex and sexuality," she said on Tuesday, citing comments from Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly. "By describing women as raw meat and men as wild dogs [Hilaly revealed] a world view that is sexually centred."

As a Dutch MP, Hirsi Ali rose to worldwide prominence in 2004 after the murder of the filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Muslim extremist outraged by a short film, Submission, which Hirsi Ali helped make. In it misogynist verses from the Koran were painted on the naked body of a Muslim woman. Pinned to van Gogh's chest with a knife was a death threat against Hirsi Ali and she has lived with round-the-clock protection ever since. When she visited the Centre for Independent Studies on Tuesday she had three state-supplied bodyguards.

Hirsi Ali was the superstar of last week's Sydney Writers' Festival, drawing sellout crowds and standing ovations. But her criticism of Islam as a religion in need of profound reform, and of multiculturalism as another religion which condones Islam's repressive practices, has made her enemies among the intellectuals of the liberal-left establishment. They have labelled her a reactionary polemicist in bed with neo-conservative Islamophobes, and expended endless words on whether it is culturally insensitive to criticise a religion that advocates stoning a woman to death for adultery.

She is a refreshing antidote to those who try to politely explain away the barbaric subjugation, enslavement and murder of women around the world in the name of Islam. "If you improve the conditions for women you would change the religion the fastest," she says.

But if you accept the idea that women wield the most power in their individual sexual relationships with men, and certainly that they have power over their young sons, then you have to ask how Islamic culture could remain so oppressive towards women without the support of women. On Tuesday Hirsi Ali skated over the question of why Muslim women are complicit in their own subjugation. She acknowledged it was her grandmother who secretly had her circumcised against her father's wishes.

Her father, a Somali opposition politician and "modern man" who adored his spirited oldest child, had "considered the practice barbaric [and] had always insisted that his daughters be left uncut", she writes in Infidel. "My grandmother was concerned I would not find a husband [unless circumcised]. From her point of view she was doing me a favour," she said on Tuesday. "Women think they have to be submissive because that's what gets you ahead."

But she also pointed to the phenomenon in some Muslim countries of mothers-in-law instigating honour killings and stoning of their daughters-in-law. In many cases the subjugated mother exerts her power through her son, and in the Middle East often is defined by him, being known as mother of Mohammed, rather than wife of Osama. "The boy child is the key to the lock but that all goes away when [he marries]," Ali said. Marriage "takes away her boy child and all her anger and resentment is then projected onto the bride".

The Arab-American writer Nonie Darwish has written on the mother-in-law problem and what she calls the "impossible family dynamics of Islam". When men are free to marry multiple wives, the result is "strained and hostile relationships among women in the Muslim world . constant fear of envy". The channelling of female resentment against other women is but one of the catastrophic consequences of subjugation. It may also play a role in the reluctance of Muslim migrant families to integrate in the West.

It is perhaps unsurprising that Muslim families would not want to unleash their daughters into a culture in which Paris Hilton is the dominant female archetype and young girls are prematurely sexualised and objectified. Such women would not be the ideal wives for the precious sons of Muslim mothers. Hirsi Ali acknowledged that "90 per cent" of the complaints she heard from Dutch Muslim families about Western culture were "legitimate. They worried that Dutch culture would overtake their children with drugs and sex."

But she concluded that Muslim children were only vulnerable to Western vices because their parents "haven't prepared them". This overlooks the fact that non-Muslim families in the West also struggle with the effects of a decaying moral culture. Hirsi Ali says the West can "win the war of ideas if we persuade as many Muslims as possible [of the benefits] of equal opportunities for women and men, gays and heterosexuals". This will happen only if Muslim mothers can be persuaded that their sons will not be lost to wanton women.



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

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

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


7 June, 2007

British Firemen Fight Their Union's PC Policy

Leaders of the fire service union are facing a challenge over a system which gives special treatment to black, gay and women members. Delegate at next week's conference of the Fire Brigades Union will hear a call from two branches that minority groups should no longer have extra votes in deciding its affairs. But the leadership of the Leftwing union, including general secretary Matt Wrack, is anxious to crush the idea.

The FBU's 19-strong executive includes representatives from 'equality sections' for blacks, gays and women. Objectors say this 'political correctness' means members of those groups have more votes than other firemen. A gay black fireman, for example, has a say through his black and gay representatives as well as his regional member while a white heterosexual gets just the regional vote.

This system is under attack in motions from Nottinghamshire and Northern Ireland. Union leaders, however, point out that there are no objections to other special interest groups for officers, emergency room workers and part-time firemen. An FBU spokesman said: 'The executive has decided unanimously to oppose these motions.'


Heroic Scottish fireman escapes being fired

But only because of publicity

A hero fireman who faced the sack for jumping into a river to save a drowning woman has been cleared. Tayside firefighter Tam Brown, 42, faced disciplinary proceedings for rescuing the 20-year-old from the River Tay in Perth in March because his actions contravened brigade regulations. Tayside Fire&Rescue rules state firefighters should not enter the water but throw lines and talk instead.

After the Sunday Mail exclusively revealed Tam's plight and the subsequent nationwide furore over the threat to him and his commander David Wallace, fire chiefs have now told the men that no disciplinary action will be taken.

Yesterday, Tam, a fireman for 15 years, said: "We're very relieved common sense has won the day but the regulations haven't changed. I'd still face disciplinary action because I'd still have to do the same thing tomorrow if I saw a drowning person."

Tayside fire chiefs are now establishing a working group to report on what extra measures need to be brought in.


Pick your Discrimination

Are Americans ready for a black president? This is the attempt that open minded leftists use to silence any criticism of Barrack Obama. It goes unsaid that anyone who dares vote against Barrack is a "racist" and if he loses his presidential bid, our nation is still racist.

They want to say the same thing about Hillary Clinton. "Are we ready for a woman president?" Hillary not getting elected just proves that we're a sexist society where gender can still hold you back. Of course, with a black man on one side and a woman on the other will we hear about how racist/sexist liberal voters are in primary where they have to choose between one or the other? The answer is no. It's good enough that libs throw these people up as tokens so they can make outrageous accusations.

And the flip question opens: Why aren't you a racist/sexist for voting against someone who is white or male? The answer to this comes back to basic liberal philosophy. They don't really believe in equality between anything, they just want to appoint themselves referee and keep score. They think that as ref, they should be above the game. The problem is that in our society everyone has to play.

Libs have been telling us our society is intolerant and unaccepting since the sixties. After forty plus years of attempted integration, our culture is still sorely devoid of chances for minorities and women. Leftists point out that there are still places that are white only (like exclusive country clubs) and places that are male only (like various organizations.) A forty year struggle to break in to these various things is far too long. The existance of these things demonstrates how rotten we are. People should be viewed as and treated equally regardless of skin color and gender. Okay, I'll go along with all of that.

Enter the Congressional Black Congress. This is a cliche that was formed in the late 60's by blacks, for blacks. Their stated purpose is to make sure that they get better government goodies than other races. They support the equalitarian idea of affirmative action (you know, those laws insure our equality by giving some of us special perks denied to others that don't have the same skin color?)

But they're not the only hypocrits. Enter the National Organization of Women (NOW). This organization was founded in 1966 with the stated purpose of equality between the sexes. But in 41 years they've never had a male president. Talk about an "old boys club". You'd think that as zealous about sexual equality as they are, they would have had at least one male lead them. But no, in typical left wing fashion their rules and regulations only apply to everyone else. They're excluded because women have a lower score than men and thus can get away with more. Too bad this isn't equality, it's just a group of pigs living like humans and calling it better.

I guess you'd have to be lib to understand.


The beady eyes of Britain's official Puritans are now focusing on wine-drinking

Middle-class wine drinkers will be the focus of government plans to make drunkenness as socially unacceptable as smoking, The Times has learnt. Under the plans published today, a fresh audit is to be conducted by the Government into the overall costs of alcohol abuse to society and the National Health Service. “We want to target older drinkers, those that are maybe drinking one or two bottles of wine at home each evening,” a Whitehall source said. “They do not realise the damage they are doing to their health and that they risk developing liver disease. We are not talking here about the traditional wino.”

The assault on Middle England’s drinking habits is part of a three-strand approach, which will also target underage drinking and heavy alcohol consumption among those aged 18-24. “There are growing numbers of people turning up in hospital with drink-related diseases and drink-related injuries. They are getting younger and more of them are turning up needing treatment,” the source added.

The move comes as The Times has been told that the British Medical Association is to investigate measures used in other countries to curb excessive alcohol consumption. Doctors’ leaders are also calling for pubs and restaurants to display warnings stating how many units of alcohol are contained in drinks served by the glass.

Today’s strategy, by the Home Office and the Department of Health, broadens the Government’s offensive against excessive drinking, with the focus moving beyond teenagers and the binge-drinkers to include those regularly sipping wine at home. As part of the strategy, ministers wish to highlight the increasing burden that drink-related disease is placing on the NHS, which four years ago was estimated to be costing between £1.3 billion and £1.7 billion. Ministers want drunkenness in public to be as socially unacceptable in ten years’ time as smoking or drink-driving is today.

Last night Ian Gilmore, President of the Royal College of Physicians, gave his full support to the focus on the health costs of heavy drinking. “We really need the spotlight more on health. While crime and antisocial behaviour is important it’s too easy to concentrate on that because it’s somebody else causing the trouble. “When you look at health it’s more uncomfortable because there’s a very significant percentage of the population already drinking at potentially hazardous levels." With alcohol costing 54 per cent less in real terms than in 1980, Professor Gilmore, a liver specialist, also called on the Chancellor to raise drink taxes. “We know from international evidence that it’s measures that tackle price and availability where one can really make a difference. There is a very clear link between price and consumption. It’s never been cheaper in real terms than it is now.”

All alcoholic drinks sold in bottles and cans will be expected to carry labels disclosing the number of units and recommended safe drinking limits by the end of next year. The strategy is also expected to require pubs, supermarkets and off-licences to display health warnings on alcohol at the bar or tills, as well as labels. But the British Medical Association said yesterday that such measures did not go far enough, adding that customers in licensed premises needed better information to raise awareness of the dangers of excessive drinking and drink-driving. Vivienne Nathanson, the head of science and ethics at the BMA, said: “It is not the nanny state. It is about informed choices. It is hard for the average person to work out how many units are in a drink these days. Glasses of wine are much larger than they used to be and many beers and wines are much stronger”.

Although ministers are seeking voluntary agreements with the £30-billion-a-year industry on safe drinking messages, there is private concern that drinks firms have been slow to act over the issue. A spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association said: “We are in discussion with government about how to make people more aware about how much they are drinking.”



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

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

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


6 June, 2007

Chair correctness in the Unhinged Kingdom

Firefighters in Greater Manchester are facing disciplinary action over claims they slept on a station floor instead of their new reclining chairs. Three men, based in Bury, are being investigated for "involvement in the use of unauthorised rest facilities". It is claimed they broke regulations by using sleeping bags on the floor rather than the œ400 chairs. The chairs were installed as part of modernisation programme to replace all beds in the region's 41 fire stations.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said the men were all asleep as a team of inspectors from the fire service carried out a spot check early one morning. "We have now christened them the furniture police," said Manchester regional secretary Kevin Brown. Mr Brown said the service launched an investigation into the incident and the men were due to appear before a level three disciplinary hearing on 14 June. "A level three hearing leaves open the possibility for dismissal - this is how ludicrous this is," said Mr Brown. "Obviously what we are looking for is for common sense to prevail. "These people work a 15-hour night shift and they are entitled to take rest periods."

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said the inquiry concerned "involvement in the use of unauthorised rest facilities". "A full internal investigation into this matter is under way and no further comment can be made at this time," a spokesman said. The service bought more than 300 of the chairs last year after chiefs decided to remove beds from dormitories across the region. But firefighters were not allowed to sit or lie on the devices before reading a four-page health and safety manual.


Local liberals learning new lessons on `diversity' in Washington D.C. area

While President Bush and pro-amnesty members of Congress are pushing an unpopular immigration "reform" bill that would bestow American citizenship on millions of people who have no regard for America's laws, liberal Democrats across the Washington region are increasingly complaining about overcrowded houses, noise, loitering and general public nuisance - all caused by illegal aliens. These local liberals are in no mood for "celebrate diversity" chants.

Listening recently to frustrated folks call a local radio talk show to vent about illegal aliens loitering in front of stores and cramming into $400,000 houses in their neighborhoods, I wondered if those same liberals accused pro-enforcement Americans of being "nativists," "xenophobes" and "racists" for complaining about the same problems. Now that illegal aliens have migrated to their neighborhoods, such liberals have become pro-enforcement all of a sudden.

A Republican called in to say her Democratic friends labeled her a racist when she'd complain about illegal immigration. She'd tell them something like, "You just wait until it happens to you. Then you'll be singing a different tune." It's happening to them, and they are singing a different tune. It turns out that liberals in half-a-million-dollar houses don't like living next door to a single-family house filled to the brim with illegal aliens who park on the front lawn, throw trash everywhere and urinate outside.

Congressional Democrats don't talk about such discontent among their constituents, but locals are keenly aware that the federal government has abdicated its role as immigration law enforcer. State and local governments are compelled to assume control.

Democrats on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in Virginia may be ousted in November if they don't deal with the growing problems. Rick Gordon, a homeland security consultant, told The Washington Post that "Enough is enough. These frauds need to go!" He complained about an illegal alien boarding house in his neighborhood, and Supervisor Penelope Gross told him "The county's hands were tied." (Turque, Bill and Brulliard, Karin, "Overflowing Fairfax Homes Split Neighbors," Washington Post, May 13, p. A1) Gordon emphasized that his was no "right-wing Nazi community. . Everybody is a liberal Democrat."

Local governments are forced to try to fix what the federal government will not. Last year, in the town of Herndon, the people removed the mayor and two town council members who voted for a day labor center. The town applied for and obtained permission to begin 287(g) immigration enforcement training, which will give local law enforcement the authority to carry out federal immigration laws.

Citizens in Manassas organized a group called "Help Save Manassas" to raise awareness of the negative effects of overcrowding and loitering. Leesburg is considering adopting stricter regulations on overcrowding. The Virginia House of Delegates passed a measure that would block public funds to charities and other organizations that provide services to illegal aliens.

Some black residents in the Brentwood section of Northeast Washington have gone on record to complain about illegal aliens - who litter and urinate - gathering near the Home Depot in their neighborhood.

Perhaps it will take a lot more overcrowding, loitering and public urination for congressional Democrats (and the Republican president) to understand the urgent need to enforce immigration laws currently on the books instead of writing new ones to reward lawbreakers with American citizenship. Local liberals are learning a valuable and important lesson: Not all "diversity" is worth celebrating.


Australian police and courts not interested in punishing racist attacks by Muslims

They were walking home after a night at the Woolooware Golf Club - two men and two women - when a Toyota Camry pulled up and the driver asked: "Have you been at Cronulla today?" One of the men, Dan, replied: "It's bullshit down there. Don't go there."

It was an innocuous answer, but the six men in the Toyota had earlier been part of a 100-car convoy that assembled in Punchbowl and made its way to the southern beaches that night, December 11, 2005. They had already been involved in violent incidents at Maroubra and Brighton-le-Sands, part of the self-styled "intifada" that exposed the inertia of the police and the court system. The full magnitude of this inertia is yet to be fully understood. The failure is ongoing.

Dan's response didn't really matter. These men were not on a peace mission. The car doors were flung open. "Get the Aussie dogs!" one of them shouted. Dan told his friends: "Run!" They began sprinting down the street. Then he heard another comment: "Get those f---ing Aussie sluts."

He stopped. Even though there was a group of malignant strangers chasing him, something more forceful than fear pulled him up. "I turned around and fronted them," he told me. "As the first one got to me I punched him in the head. He went down. It was a good punch." He was swarmed. "They knocked me down. I was face down, with my arms up to cover my face. I had one on either side of me, kicking my head. It was like a pendulum. The other guys were stabbing me and whatever." The stabbing would have been worse except that the knife was struck with such force that the hilt broke off, leaving the blade stuck in Dan's back. The attackers stopped and drove off after another car approached. Dan was prostrate on the street.

"There was blood everywhere," he said. When someone walked over Dan said he could feel something in his back. "There's a knife, it's broken off," the man said. "Fair enough," Dan replied. "I pulled out my mobile and called the ambulance." There were so many emergency calls that night that a TV crew arrived before the police. He heard a shocked policewoman screaming down the radio: "He's bleeding out!"

Why had he stopped to face a fight he could not win? "Because," he replied, "when I heard them say 'Get those sluts', I thought, 'What are they going to do to those girls?"' He knew that young men like these - men who used "Aussie" as an insult, who hunted in packs, who called non-Muslim women "sluts" - had committed numerous gang rapes and sexual assaults in Sydney. They had sexually confronted and intimidated hundreds of young women over the years. He decided to absorb the attack so the women could get away. He almost died in the process.

Despite the hundreds of violent incidents on this night and the two nights that followed, not a single major conviction and sentence has been handed down. In Dan's case, it took the help of the media. The police were able to break the case after a TV news broadcast of an appeal for witnesses on May 23 last year. The broadcast showed photographs of a beige 1988 Camry sedan, and the first three letters of its registration, plus police computer images of three of the attackers.

Soon after, calls began coming in to the phone of Yahya Jamal Serhan, 21, of Chester Hill. Police recorded various unidentified males telling Serhan that his father's car was on the news and one of the police images looked like him. Serhan and another who cannot be named because he was under 18 at the time were charged with affray and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Earlier this year, the police prosecutor Sergeant Brett Eurell, presenting the prosecution case, told a court: "This was a joint criminal enterprise by members of a group of males who engaged in an unprovoked, racially motivated, premeditated attack." He opposed bail in order to protect the witnesses. The magistrate, Paul Falzon, after reading the statement of police facts, concluded: "They believed someone would roll and provide information to police, that they had to locate that person and bash him. Now, that is not consistent with innocence."

Serhan and the other assailant were convicted. Both had been in prison for nine months pending the trial. They were sentenced to time served. So on the last day of the trial they walked free. The other four men in the Toyota that night were never identified by Serhan and his accomplice. They were never charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

For leaving an innocent man to die on the street in an unprovoked attack, two men were sentenced to nine months in prison and four men got away with it. Nor were their violent actions elsewhere that night ever the subject of prosecution.

"I had been warned by the detectives to be prepared for the worst," Dan told me. "I was told what would happen and then it did actually did happen. I couldn't believe it. I believed that, given the severity of the assault, and their refusal to name the other guys in the car, these guys would be locked up for three or four years. They just walked away." Dan went into a decline after the trial. He has been receiving counselling. He, along with every one of the victims in the nine gang-rape trials involving young Muslim men in Sydney in recent years, went to the courts for justice and got a circus.



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

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

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


5 June, 2007

Why PBS banned me

By Melanie Morgan

Conservatives have traveled a long and arduous road to get our voices heard, fighting the inherent bias in the media and cultural institutions in our nation. The advent of talk radio, the Internet and cable news channels has allowed more Americans to hear both sides of the political debate, but many hurdles still remain. That fact became clear to me this week on a number of fronts.

One of my employees at the pro-troop, nonprofit group I lead, Move America Forward, was put in an awkward position when his son was asked by the principal of his school to remove the sweatshirt he was wearing. What offensive statement was emblazoned on his shirt? Was it profanity or nudity or an incitement to violence, as so many of our youth today wear imprinted on their clothes?

No. The sweatshirt had an American flag displayed on it, along with the message, "These Colors Don't Run." On the back was this text: "National Support Our Troops Tour" and an accompanying list of cities and dates. That was it. There was nothing political mentioned, no mention of Iraq or Afghanistan or anything else.

According to the principal, the shirt might offend one of the Muslim students, as Muslims comprise 20 percent of the student body at this school. This might help to explain the recent poll that found 1 in 4 young Muslim Americans say they support suicide bombings by Islamic terrorists. Apparently, more than 1 in 4 school administrators also support kowtowing to the demands of radical Islamists. This situation reminded me of the banning of the American flag by an Oceanside, Calif., school following the protest rallies in that city by those supporting illegal immigration.

What is happening to our nation? It's not just children who are being targeted by the liberal thought police. This week, the executive producer for the "News Hour with Jim Lehrer" on the publicly funded PBS network put out a statement declaring that I was being banned from ever appearing on that show again. The ban was issued as a result of my appearance on the program opposite a veteran from Operation Iraqi Freedom who is now an anti-war activist affiliated with the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org. The anti-war activist and I engaged in a spirited, but civil, debate, with each of us interrupting the other an equal number of times. Both the other guest and I were cordial and cooperative with the anchor, Judy Woodruff.

So, what pronouncement did the PBS producers make against the anti-war activist? None. Instead, Linda Winslow, executive producer for the "News Hour," issued a statement declaring that only I, the conservative guest, would be banned: "Since the program is produced live, we can't do much to eliminate rude guests from your television screen once the segment has begun; what we can do is guarantee you will never see that person on our program again."

Yes, PBS, a network funded by public tax dollars, has decided only liberal voices will be tolerated, and that any conservative who dares to speak up and challenge liberal activists will be silenced.

The silencing of conservatives occurred on other fronts as well. Last week, I told you about far-left British "journalist" Damien Benson, who had declared that he could not in good conscience report on the thoughts or beliefs of those who supported the war on terrorism. Benson explained that those who disagreed with the actions of Sen. Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to surrender in Iraq were undermining the "peace process" there. Apparently, to the far-left reporters in the UK, the "peace process" means surrendering to jihadists and al-Qaida terrorist cells.

After my column exposing Mr. Benson's atrocious censorship appeared, he angrily contacted me and informed me that he would be filing a protest with the American embassy. Yesterday, his line manager, David McDonald, contacted my office to file a protest with me for having the nerve to expose Benson's bias and censorship of conservative views. It's really amazing - liberals have gone beyond censoring conservative views in news accounts; now they make threats against those who dare expose the bias of the liberal media.

Is it any wonder that liberal leaders such as Pelosi and Reid feel so confident in defying American values? Pelosi can travel to Syria to appease terrorist leaders, and Reid can tell our troops that they've "lost," because they know that the media will properly spin their thoughts in such a way as to make the liberals look good and any conservative opponents look bad.

Well, I won't stand back and be silenced. One of the things we conservatives can do is bypass the mainstream media. Thanks to websites such as WorldNetDaily, talk-show hosts such as Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, and cable networks such as Fox News Channel, we have outlets that will allow conservative opinions, considered taboo by the liberal elite, to be heard.


White jazz incorrect

Jazz is the great cultural achievement of America where blacks took a leading role as creators and practitioners, and where blacks and whites and eventually Asians, Latinos, and well, everyone, performed and listened in harmony (literally and figuratively). That era ended yesterday, thanks to the forward-thinking "progressives" of the San Francisco Bay Area. Race is now more important than music, according to authoritative local commentators and practitioners.

Jazz has now fallen to the level apparently requiring affirmative action. The word "tragedy" leaps to mind. We are moving in the opposite direction from a society where everyone is presumed equal and race is an irrelevant criterion. So much for Dr. King's "content of our character" hopes.

Yoshi's jazz club, a very prominent jazz venue in Oakland's Jack London Square entertainment district has, in the words of the San Francisco Chronicle, been "shamed" by its failure to judge the worth of jazz musicians on the color of their skin, instead of the content of their artistry. The managers of Yoshi's jazz club said Friday that issuing a 10th anniversary CD with no African American musicians was "a huge mistake" and "a major oversight." In the wake of complaints by some African American musicians and community leaders, the club issued an apology and withdrew the disc. Here is where Yoshi's now says it went wrong:

Kajimura [the club's owner] and Yoshi's artistic director Peter Williams attributed the botched CD to haste and expediency. "This was done on the spur of the moment, and we didn't have a lot of time and research to put into it," said Kajimura. Yoshi's began working on the project in late March to mark the club's 10 years in Oakland in May.

Eight of the 10 tracks, from four different musicians, came from Concord records, one of the world's largest recording labels. The other two came from San Francisco radio station KFOG's archives. "That was the easiest, quickest thing to do," said Williams. "We assumed Concord would have the most music recorded live at Yoshi's."

The crime, then, is in failing to regard skin color as a major criterion.

Williams said race and ethnicity are "things that I just never think about when I'm booking the club. It always comes out that we have a great mix. I'm very comfortable with what we've done."

Apparently in this day and age, especially in the "progressive" Bay Area, one must always devote time and effort to racial bean-counting and careful allocation of everything on the basis of race. It doesn't matter if your business is a small one (Yoshi's is not exactly a multinational conglomerate, despite its international prominence and importance in the world of jazz), race must always be considered an important standard for judging every decision. Colorblindness is a crime.

Yoshi's was following the old way of thinking in jazz, and now that old way is judged bad by the leading lights of the Bay Area. As Matthew May reminded us yesterday, in the old days (you know, the era of Jim Crow), black and white jazz musicians were indifferent to race. The only criterion was, "Can he play?" Today, the "enlightened" minds demand a racial consciousness that puts the old apartheid regime of South Africa to shame.

In the realm of jazz, the monumental contribution of African-Americans to world culture, blacks are now relegated by "progressives" to the status of fragile, weak outsiders, so uncertain of their own merit, so lacking in standing that they require special consideration and support lest they fall between the cracks. A protected species, in other words. I had always thought blacks were not just in the front of the bus, they were in the driver's seat when it came to jazz. Now, blacks have been moved to the back of the jazz bus. Ironies abound in the decision of Yoshi's to withdraw its original 10th anniversary compilation CD.

When the new CD is made, [Williams] added, it will include African American musicians recorded live at Yoshi's on such labels as Verve, MaxJazz and Blue Note. That will involve more elaborate negotiations for rights and licensing fees.

Translation: the new CD is going to cost more. So much for making high quality jazz available to the widest possible audience. Can jazz really afford to lose any more listeners?

Yoshi's had sold about 500 of the 1,000 CDs it began offering on its Web site last month. The disc, the first made by Yoshi's, was not distributed to stores.

Translation: about 500 lucky jazz fans now have an instant collector's item, all but certain to skyrocket in value. Question: what becomes of the unsold CDs? Are they now so offensive that they must be shipped to the nearest landfill to become solid waste? If so, the clever garbage truck crew has a nice little gold mine on their hands if they spot the valuable trash. So:

Are we going to hear cries that the CDs must be destroyed? After all, if they are so somehow harmful that they must be withdrawn, then isn't it an act of "racism" to recycle them through unofficial channels? Should they be treated the way Hitler treated books by Jews, and burned in a public bonfire? If so, someone please call Al Gore and tell him about the pollution that will result. Or maybe Yoshi's must go to the expense of hiring a shredding machine, to protect the world's from the sounds of melanin-deficient jazz musicians.

Running a jazz club is never a route to fortune. I don't know the state of finances at Yoshi's, but I suspect that the financial blow of junking 500 CDs, along with the extra royalty costs and other expenses associated with a new affirmative action version of the 10th anniversary disc, are material, as they say in the world of financial reporting. If Yoshi's were to quietly sell the 500 politically incorrect discs on ebay (at the moment of writing this piece 68 jazz CDs recorded live at Yoshi's are on sale at ebay), the "shame" could actually become a minor financial bonanza. I would certainly a pay handsome sum for one of the forbidden discs, as they mark a historic turning point - the moment when blacks became a protected species in the world of jazz.

But if Yoshi's were to salvage its investment in this way (and thereby be able to host more jazz musicians - "more than half of the musicians who play Yoshi's are African American"), what are the odds that it would be denounced as a racist act? With people like Glen Pearson, an African American musician and College of Alameda instructor, waiting to pounce, I'd say almost a certainty. Here's what Pearson had to say to the Chron:

"If Yoshi's is calling this an oversight, then maybe there needs to be a larger discussion about the dynamic of what jazz is all about."

Silly me, silly Yoshi's. We thought jazz was about music. It turns out that it is about racial grievances.

This sad tale hits me in the gut because of a bit of personal history. Growing up in Minneapolis, which was in the 1950s a metropolis with very few black residents, the first black person I ever really met and sat down and talked to as a child of about 11, was a jazz musician, the great Eugene Wright, best known as the bassist in the Dave Brubeck Quartet in its "classic" phase. His kindness and consideration toward me, a youthful jazz fan and son of a former jazz vocalist, made a huge impression on me, both for his musical artistry and for his wonderful friendly and engaging personality. Race simply wasn't an issue, and in the 1960s that was a pretty rare experience. Gene, along with the upbringing my parents provided, set my racial template to "everyone is the same." Evidently, even in jazz, that way of thinking is obsolete. And I cannot describe how sad I feel about it.



Comment by Jeff Jacoby

The detailed survey of American Muslims released by the Pew Research Center last week attracted considerable attention, the polarized nature of which was reflected in the headlines of Washington's two daily newspapers on May 23. "Survey: US Muslims Assimilated, Opposed to Extremism," the Washington Post cheerfully proclaimed. By contrast, the Washington Times grimly announced: "Young US Muslims back suicide attacks."

As those headlines suggest, the Pew results were put through the political spin cycle the moment they became public. Liberals tended to focus on the upbeat finding that most of the nation's 2.3 million Muslims are blending successfully into the American mainstream. Conservatives were more likely to home in on the troubling evidence that a minority of American Muslims, especially among those under 30, defend terrorism and support radical Islam.

But the news that Muslims in the United States, two-thirds of whom were born abroad, are assimilating in the American melting pot and happy with their lives here should be welcomed by Americans left *and* right.

According to the Pew survey, 72 percent of US Muslims rate their community an "excellent" or "good" place to live, and 71 percent believe in the American work ethic -- you can get ahead in America if you're willing to work hard. More than six in 10 see no conflict between a devout Muslim and living in a modern society, and 62 percent say it is acceptable for Muslims to marry outside their faith. (Under Islamic law, Muslim women may not marry non-Muslims.)

There's more good news. "With the exception of very recent immigrants," Pew notes, most Muslims "report that a large proportion of their closest friends are non-Muslims." A plurality (43 percent) believes that "Muslims coming to the US should try and adopt American customs, rather than trying to remain distinct from the larger society." An even larger plurality (49 percent) says that mosques should "keep out of political matters" and not "express their views on day-to-day social and political questions."

All of which is reassuring evidence that the assimilative traditions and institutions in American life are still doing their job. It is good to see that the old American paradigm of *E Pluribus Unum* encompasses Muslims, too. Even better that it is doing so despite the identity-group politics and disdain for assimilation so fashionable among the politically correct.

Unfortunately, the good news in this survey doesn't neutralize the bad. And the bad news is that a small but alarming minority of American Muslims readily express support for jihadist terror and its perpetrators.

Asked whether suicide bombing and other forms of terrorism that target civilians can be justified "to defend Islam from its enemies," 78 percent answered "never." But 1 percent said such massacres can "often" be justified, 7 percent said "sometimes," and 5 percent said "rarely." Another 9 percent declined to answer. Among younger Muslims, the numbers were even worse. Only 69 percent flatly condemned all Islamist terror. More than one in four -- 26 percent -- endorsed jihadist murder in at least some circumstances.

Equally distressing: 5 percent of US Muslims have a favorable opinion of Al-Qaeda, while 27 percent refuse to give an opinion. Support for Osama bin Laden's lethal network is actually higher among US-born Muslims than among immigrants -- and highest of all among black American Muslims.

Who was responsible for 9/11? Only 40 percent of American Muslims will acknowledge that Arab terrorists committed the worst terrorist attack in US history. An astonishing 60 percent either deny that Arabs were involved or decline to answer the question.

It has been endlessly reiterated that the great majority of Muslims are peaceful, moderate, and no threat to anyone. That is assuredly true. It is also true that a minority of Muslims espouses radical and dangerous beliefs, and that some of them are prepared to translate those beliefs into violence.

A few Muslim men, mostly Saudi, were all it took to murder 3,000 Americans and wreak billions of dollars in damage on 9/11. A handful of Muslims, inflamed by jihadist teachings, sufficed to carry out most of the Islamist atrocities of the past 30 years. A minority can commit great evil -- especially when it lives amidst a majority that doesn't challenge its hateful ideology and confront those who promote it.

In the Pew survey, only 8 percent of American Muslims said terrorism in the name of Islam is often or sometimes justifiable. But 8 percent of 2.3 million Muslims is 184,000 people who support suicide bombings and beheadings in at least some instances. That is not a trivial threat. And it cannot be effectively suppressed unless the moderate Muslim mainstream actively repudiates and anathematizes Islamist ideas.

Like all cancers, the malignancy of radical Islam starts small. Happily, the American Muslim body politic has the strength and resources to defeat it. The question is, does it have the will?

Efficient use of time incorrect

Richard Wiseman, professor of the public understanding of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in England, has done another of his `wacky' behaviour studies. This time he's researched the speed of walking in 32 countries - and he has concluded that our legs, and therefore our lives, move too fast. This discovery has got cultural commentators guiltily confessing that `the Universe's metronome ...has enslaved me', and others admitting that they have become `addicted' to BlackBerrys or `doing two things at once' (1). Such dramatic responses to a study into the speed of walking, alongside green campaigns such as the slow food and slow travel movements, show that many consider the pace of contemporary life to be dizzily spinning off the milometer, and set to send us all into physical and spiritual turmoil. So, are we all living far too `fast lives', and would we benefit from slowing down?

The walking study forms part of Wiseman's latest book, Quirkology. Wiseman is known for his earlier research into off-the-wall topics like superstition and smiling, but it is his work on the pace of life that has really captured the media's attention. His study asks, `Is your speed of life too fast for your own good?'. The answer is `yes' if you are a dreaded Type A: `impatient, excessively time-conscious, and finds relaxation difficult.' It is far healthier, apparently, to be a Type B: `don't tend to get stressed by the hustle and bustle of modern-day living.' (2) [That Type A/B typology and its health claims have long ago been discredited. See here]

Significantly, the professor acknowledges that if you're a Type A, `This might help you be productive'. But he warns that there is a high price to pay: `your relationships and health could suffer as a consequence.' On the surface, this may be a study of speedy walking and what it reveals about our apparently stressful speedy lives. Yet if we took our anthropologist goggles off for a moment, we would realise that dashing along the pavement is not the act of a crazy automaton species. Rather, walking quickly is about saving what some perceive to be valuable time. Often we do things quickly in order to preserve and expand our relaxation time.

This is the paradox that the pace-of-life experts miss: speed and efficiency are not simply part of a vicious cycle on the `hedonic treadmill'; instead they are often about freeing up time to use as we wish. Yet even this spare time we create is not spared the hectoring of today's slow-living lobby: psychologists and green moralisers also wish to colonise and set in slow motion our personal, private spaces.

Wiseman's results showed that the pace of life is now `10 per cent faster than it was a decade-and-a-half ago'. He argues that a lot of this speeding-up is `technology-driven': `What's amazing is that these days you press send on an email and if someone hasn't responded in 10 minutes you think "where are they?"'(3) No doubt there is some truth in that - but is this really a sign of childish impatience, or part of a desire simply to get things done? Listening to Professor Wiseman and other speed-cynics, you would think that the adult population is now a collective victim of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Previously reserved for badly-behaved or loud children, the ADD diagnosis appears to have filtered into everyday language and consciousness: we're all now considered to be fidgety adult toddlers, suffering information-overload and over-stimulation from an aggressive bombardment of stimuli, be it advertising, computer games or rolling news coverage.

Behind all the concern about speedy living, there seems to be an overarching disgust for convenience and our apparently `quick-fix culture'. The anti-speed lobby postures puritanically against ease, comfort and consumerism; it seems to loathe these things because they allow people to do lots of different things at once and to get news, information and music (via iPods) on demand. Today, it seems, it is more ethical to shop, cook and travel slowly rather than in a hurry. Consider the issue of cooking.

In recent years, a slow food group has emerged as a `resistance movement to fast food'. It started in Italy but it has spread and grown exponentially: it now exists in 100 countries and has 83,000 members. The movement encourages people to grow their own produce, within their own `eco-regions', and to take their time both with the production and the preparation of food. However, look a little closer and the slow food movement's central philosophy is less about celebrating lengthy marinades and more about looking snootily upon the fast food-scoffing masses: `We consider ourselves co-producers, not consumers.. [We were] founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people's dwindling interest in the food they eat.' (4)

Dwindling interest in what we eat? In fact, people seem more obsessed than ever with their diets. Yet this notion that we just put any old grub in our mouths without thinking it through - just as we allegedly allow ourselves to be bombarded with 24-hour news and information without filtering it - captures a central prejudice of the slow-living lobby: that people have become automatons, rushing around and doing things without thinking about the consequences.

Elsewhere, it is now assumed that the slow shopper is an ethical shopper. Ethical shoppers boast about their leisurely consumer antics and brag of `browsing' independent bookstores rather than simply clicking on Amazon and getting their tome in the post the next day. Articles in Sunday newspaper supplements frequently praise the beloved second-hand emporiums over the ruthless book chains, arguing that it is more pleasurable to buy a book in a small dusty shop rather than in a supermarket-style massive bookstore. Yet online book sales figures contradict this picture: such sales continue to rise, as vast numbers of people opt for the convenience of buying reading material online rather than in an old backstreet store. Again, we can glimpse an elitist grain in the slow-living lobby, for whom the masses' methods of buying stuff - what they refer to as `frenetic' or `hysterical' shopping - is inferior to the slower, calmer consumer experience (5).

There is also a slow travel movement. Instead of rushing to fly in the skies (which of course causes pollution) slow travellers make a virtue of crawling around the globe and being the `right kind' of tourist, as `it's not just how we get there that's important.but how we behave when we're there.' (6) In other words, slow travellers are not like the vulgar hordes who go on cheap breaks. A key tenet of today's green behavioural law is that you should take part in gentle leisurely travel, in order to minimise your carbon footprint: such travel is apparently physically pure, in the sense that it is `stress free' and uncontaminated by speed.

Now even Japan, the emblem of fast lane living, has places like Kakegawa, which proudly declares that it is a `Slow Life City'. `Slow Life Cities' have been built in response to what is described as `international speed sickness'. Carl Honor,, author of In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed, argues that `the global affliction of the hurry virus has afflicted every corner of the planet'. So now speed is seen as a disease, a `virus', which is making us ill. This looks like an updated version of the old religious idea that fast and `selfish' living is morally wrong and those who partake in it will be struck down.

The demand that we should be inefficient for ethical reasons is a demand for us to leave the `rat race'. That term has been dusted down and relieved of its 1960s, teenage-angst associations with `the man' or `the system'; it now enjoys pride of place as the major descriptor of contemporary living. Popular culture titillates us with invitations to escape the city and buy a house in the country; to escape into a rural idyll or a slower lifestyle abroad. In the various celebrations of slow living today, we are effectively being sold the fantasy of a slower life as the answer to individual and social problems. Instead of asking how everyday life might be improved further, and made more joyous and fruitful, greens and others say: `Just slow down, forget about it..'

The pace police's obsession with work-life balance effectively turns old-fashioned labour dynamics into psychological issues. What was previously described as alienation or workplace exhaustion is now presented as a poor lifestyle management or the fault of a dangerously manic disposition. And so the solution to work problems is discussed at a psychological level, too: it is not to demand better pay or conditions, but rather to slow your life down in order to make yourself feel calmer and, apparently, happier.

The lifestyle gurus offer a false sense of empowerment with their prescriptions to `chill out'. Feeling lacklustre? Stuck in a pointless job? Blame your materialistic impulses, slow down, search your inner self for answers. In truth, speed and industriousness can reap their own rewards, if they are fired by worthy ambitions. Speed is about packing more into life - and therefore the rejection of speed looks to me like a rejection of the dynamic possibilities of life itself. Of course, advocating speed for its own sake, Jeremy Clarkson-style, would be as banal as embracing the new slow ethos. But if pace means embracing technology that allows us to have more free time in which to relax, experiment or even try to realise new collective possibilities, then bring on the speed sickness. There is much to be gained from operating in fast forward.



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

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

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


4 June, 2007

Mexican bigotry OK

Miss USA, Rachel Smith, legally visiting Mexico City as a Miss Universe contestant, was greeted with boos and catcalls. Except when she slipped and fell. Cheers! But according to one wire service she deserved the hostility because of the country she represented.

In the days leading up to the final selection, Miss USA Rachel Smith endured boos from the public because of her country's attitude toward Mexicans living there.

Oh, so they weren't rude after all; the US is. But relax because according to another news report

The treatment of the Tennessee beauty queen was nothing personal. It had more to do with Mexico's sometimes tense relationship with its powerful northern neighbor.

U.S. athletes have sparked a similar response. In 2005, when the U.S. played Mexico during a World Cup soccer qualifier, the crowd booed the U.S. national anthem and a smattering of fans chanted "Osama! Osama!" during the game.

So four years after 9/11 our southern neighbors are cheering for the man who caused the deaths of 3000 Americans. But yet, by the millions they still want to move here. Nothing personal. During the interview segment of the pageant, as the Mexican audience raucously booed her, the ever gracious Miss Smith

smiled and spoke in Spanish. "Buenas noches Mexico. Muchas gracias!" which earned her some applause and some chuckles.

However, despite her polite guest attempt to learn the native language

Even an opening "hola" might not have helped Smith, who faced long odds for simply being a gringa

Gringa! Female white person! But that's not anti white racism or bigotry. In Mexico, that's understandable. Sanctioned. But of course.


"Correct" parenting

Most parents, myself included, have become accustomed to living with a subtle sense of unease. It's there in the playground and at the schoolyard gate. It permeates the atmosphere of children's parties and sporting events, the doctor's office, the supermarket checkout. It is a sense of watching and being watched; most of all, it is a feeling of being judged that seeps into every area of our lives, undermining confidence and transforming parenthood from a straightforward part of life into an angst-ridden ordeal.

I know this because I serve on the advisory board of Park Slope Parents, the second-largest parents' group in the United States and certainly the most well-known. Day in and day out, I watch parents struggle together to overcome the effects of a parenting culture where one wrong move at the playground, one forgotten snack, risks incurring the wrath of fellow parents, non-parents and even the media. And that is why it was worth travelling thousands of miles to the UK to attend Monitoring Parents: Childrearing in the Age of `Intensive Parenting', an international gathering of social scientists at the University of Kent at Canterbury (1).

If parenting is a big issue in the US, it is possibly even more so in the United Kingdom where seemingly almost any aspect of parenting can be politicised and made the subject of public policy. The conference set out to inject some rigour and objectivity into the discussion. And though the halls of academia seem a long way from the playground, and parents weren't the intended audience, it would be hard to find anything more timely or relevant, or actually reassuring. The evidence is unequivocal: you aren't just imagining it - being a parent today is different than in the past.

Academics studying a wide range of topics, from family size and teenage motherhood to infant feeding and literacy, demonstrated how intensive parenting, with its assumptions about the vulnerability of children and imperative for a high degree of parental involvement, is the single most important factor shaping childrearing today. So much so that many delegates I spoke with had not set out to study parenting at all but had shifted their focus as their research made it impossible to ignore this issue.

What is intensive parenting? Ellie Lee, senior lecturer in social policy at the University of Kent and organiser of the conference, explained that parenthood has become `highly emotionally demanding, more and more child-centred, reliant on expert guidance and so increasingly medicalised. Parenthood has also become shaped by risk consciousness, in a context where parental actions are frequently deemed potentially risky for children.' Media historian Susan Douglas discussed how a culture of intensive parenting plays havoc with mothers' self-esteem, sets mother against mother, and undermines women's rights. Sociologist Frank Furedi, author of the influential critique Paranoid Parenting, argued that contemporary culture normalises parental incompetence, through its assumption that parents need ever-increasing amounts of advice and `support' in matters of everyday life, while at the same time promoting the notion that parents' actions determine everything about their child's life, from cradle to grave.

In practice, this means that parents are under constant scrutiny from other parents, professionals and policymakers. Everything from giving birth to what we feed our children to the risks we do or don't allow them to take in everyday life is considered a legitimate area for concern and intervention. So, Rebecca Kukla of the University of South Florida gave a critical appraisal of the notion that `you are now what your child eats', to the extent that even a single hotdog-of-convenience apparently risks ruining a child's palate and ultimately jeopardising their long-term health and mental wellbeing.

Public policy initiatives aimed at `supporting' parents almost never improve things and sometimes make them far worse by denigrating parents' ability to rise to the occasion. Young fathers surveyed described parenting classes they were compelled to attend as `problematic and sometimes embarrassing'. One study of teenage mothers, who have been singled out for `intensive support' by the New Labour government, found that they were strikingly positive, capable and far less in need of official intervention than policymakers believed.

Perhaps the most intriguing discussion of the conference and the most confounding aspect of intensive parenting is that so many people appear to choose to do it. At its most extreme, families adopt parenting lifestyles such as so-called `attachment parenting' that rely on close physical contact between mother and child for an extended period. And though physically and emotionally demanding, parents derive a sense of moral superiority from choosing what they believe is a more natural, yet scientifically enlightened way to raise their children. In fact, such practices are neither natural nor scientific but the logical conclusion of the view that individuals, good or bad, are simply extensions of how well they were `parented'.

Most of us don't set out to go to these extremes but the same basic principles influence everything we do. Canadian academic Stephanie Knaak explained that we don't so much make decisions as choose within ever-narrowing parameters of what is acceptable. As an example, she pointed to the question of bottle-feeding versus breastfeeding in several editions of Dr Spock's childcare manual. In early editions of Dr Spock, breastfeeding and formula feeding are both treated as acceptable alternatives that take the needs of the parents into account. In contrast, the most recent edition makes it clear that breastfeeding is the morally superior choice and the needs of mothers are no longer part of the equation. Sure, you can formula feed, but you'd better have a good excuse.

The inescapable conclusion of all of this is that parenting culture today is bad - and bad on many levels. Reducing parents to the passive recipients of expert advice not only squelches parents' creativity, spontaneity and resourcefulness; it also destroys what intensive parenting purports to celebrate: the rich, complex relationships we have with our children.

What can we do? According to Frank Furedi, many parents do instinctively resist `intensive parenting'. They make the `wrong' choice, they lie to professionals about what they do, and some simply tell the truth and face the consequences. But no one can resist intensive parenting all the time without some cultural counterpoint to back them up. The sociologists at this conference, many of them parents themselves, have taken the first steps toward creating this counterpoint by holding up the culture of intensive parenting to critical scrutiny and challenging its underlying assumptions. And for those of us caught up in it? Let this conference serve as validation: don't believe the hype, trust your instincts, and know that you are a better parent than the `experts' could possibly know.


eHarmony Sued In California For Excluding Homosexuals

The popular online dating service eHarmony was sued on Thursday for refusing to offer its services to gays, lesbians and bisexuals. A lawsuit alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of Linda Carlson, who was denied access to eHarmony because she is gay. Lawyers bringing the action said they believed it was the first lawsuit of its kind against eHarmony, which has long rankled the gay community with its failure to offer a "men seeking men" or "women seeking women" option. They were seeking to make it a class action lawsuit on behalf of gays and lesbians excluded from the dating service.

eHarmony was founded in 2000 by evangelical Christian Dr. Neil Clark Warren and had strong early ties with the influential religious conservative group Focus on the Family. It has more than 12 million registered users, and heavy television advertising has made it one of the nation's biggest Internet dating sites.

The company said the allegations of discrimination against gays were false and reckless. "The research that eHarmony has developed, through years of research, to match couples has been based on traits and personality patterns of successful heterosexual marriages," it said in a statement. "Nothing precludes us from providing same-sex matching in the future. It's just not a service we offer now based upon the research we have conducted," eHarmony added.

According to the lawsuit, Carlson, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area, tried to use the site's dating services in February 2007. When she was denied access, she wrote to eHarmony saying that its anti-gay policy was discriminatory under California law but the company refused to change it. "Such outright discrimination is hurtful and disappointing for a business open to the public in this day and age," she said.

Carlson's lawyer Todd Schneider said the lawsuit was "about changing the landscape and making a statement out there that gay people, just like heterosexuals, have the right and desire to meet other people with whom they can fall in love." Carlson's lawyers expect a significant number of gays and lesbians to join the class action, which seeks to force eHarmony to end its policy as well as unspecified damages for those denied eHarmony services based on their sexual orientation.


Philly City Council Ends 79-Year Boy Scout Lease Over Refusal to Accept Homosexual Leaders

This is probably contrary to Federal law protecting the Scouts

Philadelphia City Council voted yesterday to end a nearly 80-year-old lease held by the Boy Scouts local branch over the group's adherence to a national policy banning actively homosexual leaders. The ongoing dispute pitted the Scouts' Cradle of Liberty Council against homosexual activists over the organization's refusal to adopt an official policy welcoming homosexuals into leadership. The City, under pressure by activist groups, wants the Scouts to either alter the organization's policy or start paying market rent for the use of the historical Beaux Arts building, where the Scout headquarters has been housed since 1928 for a nominal rent.

The resolution permitting the city to end the lease was introduced unexpectedly, according to coverage by the Philadelphia Inquirer, and passed 16-1 with no debate. City councilors stated their hope that the resolution would generate leverage for the city by and open the door to talks resolving the dispute.

Homosexual activist organization Equality Advocates Pennsylvania pushed the city to act on the scout's lease, the Inquirer reported. Executive director Stacey Sobel said yesterday that the Boy Scouts should not be able to use taxpayers' dollars to discriminate against homosexuals.

Scouts take an oath of duty to God as part of their membership, and actively homosexual individuals are not permitted as leaders. Although the Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that as a private organization, scouts could restrict homosexuals from leadership, scout groups have faced opposition from local officials revoking privileges where they have refused to alter policy based on the demands of homosexual activists.

The American Family Association of Pennsylvania said the city was caving to the pressure of homosexual activists, in a press release earlier today.

"With an alarming number of children facing violent deaths on the streets of Philadelphia, the city's answer is to target one of the few organizations that offer purpose and meaning to these children. Of the 64,000 members the Cradle of Liberty Scout Council serves, 40,000 are in Philadelphia alone," said Diane Gramley, president of the AFA.

"The Scouts' policy banning open homosexual leaders is the right policy. Would the parents of Girl Scouts want a man to be their daughter's Scout leader? No and neither do parents want a man who is sexually attracted to other males to be Boy Scout leaders. Common sense should prevail here, but it's not."

"Efforts to appease never work. Homosexual activists want a pro-gay policy expressly stating that the Cradle of Liberty Scout Council will accept open homosexuals. They are not concerned with the well-being of the children of Philadelphia and surrounding counties, but instead choose to use them in an effort to make an example out of the Boy Scouts," Gramley said.



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

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

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


3 June, 2007

How to End 'Islamophobia'

It's up to Muslims

Islamic organizations regularly accuse non-Muslims of "Islamophobia," a fear and disdain for everything Islamic. On May 17, this accusation bubbled up again as foreign ministers from the Organization of the Islamic Conference called Islamophobia "the worst form of terrorism." These ministers also warned, according to the Arab News, that this form of discrimination would cause millions of Muslims in Western countries, "many of whom were already underprivileged," to be "further alienated."

In America, perhaps the most conspicuous organization to persistently accuse opponents of Islamophobia is the Council of American Islamic Relations. CAIR has taken up the legal case of the "Flying Imams," the six individuals who were pulled from a US Airways flight in Minneapolis this past November after engaging in suspicious behavior before takeoff. Not long ago, CAIR filed a "John Doe" lawsuit that would have made passengers liable for "malicious" complaints about suspicious Muslim passengers.

In an interview at the time, CAIR spokesman Nihad Awad accused Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.) of being an "extremist" who "encourages Islamophobia" for pointing out what most people would think is obvious, that such a lawsuit would have a chilling effect on passengers who witnessed alarming activity and wished to report it. We can only assume that Mr. Awad believes flyers should passively remain in a state of fear as they travel and submissively risk their lives. In this case, Congress is acting appropriately and considering passing a law sponsored by Mr. King that would grant passengers immunity from such lawsuits.

It may seem bizarre, but Islamic reformers are not immune to the charge of "Islamophobia" either. For 20 years, I have preached a reformed interpretation of Islam that teaches peace and respects human rights. I have consistently spoken out--with dozens of other Muslim and Arab reformers--against the mistreatment of women, gays and religious minorities in the Islamic world. We have pointed out the violent teachings of Salafism and the imperative of Westerners to protect themselves against it.

Yet according to CAIR's Michigan spokeswoman, Zeinab Chami, I am "the latest weapon in the Islamophobe arsenal." If standing against the violent edicts of Shariah law is "Islamophobic," then I will treat her accusation as a badge of honor.

Muslims must ask what prompts this "phobia" in the first place. When we in the West examine the worldwide atrocities perpetrated daily in the name of Islam, it is vital to question if we--Muslims--should lay the blame on others for Islamophobia or if we should first look hard at ourselves.

According to a recent Pew Global Attitudes survey, "younger Muslims in the U.S. are much more likely than older Muslim Americans to say that suicide bombing in the defense of Islam can be at least sometimes justified." About one out of every four American Muslims under 30 think suicide bombing in defense of Islam is justified in at least some circumstances. Twenty-eight percent believe that Muslims did not carry out the 9/11 attacks and 32% declined to answer that question.

While the survey has been represented in the media as proof of moderation among American Muslims, the actual results should yield the opposite conclusion. If, as the Pew study estimates, there are 2.35 million Muslims in America, that means there are a substantial number of people in the U.S. who think suicide bombing is sometimes justified. Similarly, if 5% of American Muslims support al Qaeda, that's more than 100,000 people.

To bring an end to Islamophobia, we must employ a holistic approach that treats the core of the disease. It will not suffice to merely suppress the symptoms. It is imperative to adopt new Islamic teachings that do not allow killing apostates (Redda Law). Islamic authorities must provide mainstream Islamic books that forbid polygamy and beating women. Accepted Islamic doctrine should take a strong stand against slavery and the raping of female war prisoners, as happens in Darfur under the explicit canons of Shariah ("Ma Malakat Aimanikum"). Muslims should teach, everywhere and universally, that a woman's testimony in court counts as much as a man's, that women should not be punished if they marry whom they please or dress as they wish.

We Muslims should publicly show our strong disapproval for the growing number of attacks by Muslims against other faiths and against other Muslims. Let us not even dwell on 9/11, Madrid, London, Bali and countless other scenes of carnage. It has been estimated that of the two million refugees fleeing Islamic terror in Iraq, 40% are Christian, and many of them seek a haven in Lebanon, where the Christian population itself has declined by 60%. Even in Turkey, Islamists recently found it necessary to slit the throats of three Christians for publishing Bibles.

Of course, Islamist attacks are not limited to Christians and Jews. Why do we hear no Muslim condemnation of the ongoing slaughter of Buddhists in Thailand by Islamic groups? Why was there silence over the Mumbai train bombings which took the lives of over 200 Hindus in 2006? We must not forget that innocent Muslims, too, are suffering. Indeed, the most common murderers of Muslims are, and have always been, other Muslims. Where is the Muslim outcry over the Sunni-Shiite violence in Iraq?

Islamophobia could end when masses of Muslims demonstrate in the streets against videos displaying innocent people being beheaded with the same vigor we employ against airlines, Israel and cartoons of Muhammad. It might cease when Muslims unambiguously and publicly insist that Shariah law should have no binding legal status in free, democratic societies.

It is well past time that Muslims cease using the charge of "Islamophobia" as a tool to intimidate and blackmail those who speak up against suspicious passengers and against those who rightly criticize current Islamic practices and preachings. Instead, Muslims must engage in honest and humble introspection. Muslims should--must--develop strategies to rescue our religion by combating the tyranny of Salafi Islam and its dreadful consequences. Among more important outcomes, this will also put an end to so-called Islamophobia.


Popular children's cartoon attacked on childish grounds

This is for anyone who thinks that political correctness is an English-speaking phenomenon. The cartoon exploits of Asterix may be enjoyed by millions of children around the world, but the ancient Gaulish hero has just been declared unfit to be official ambassador for children's rights. He is too French, too violent, he perpetuates stereotypes and his outlook conflicts with the spirit of the European Union.

That, at least, is the view of the French branch of Defence for Children International (DCI). Asterix and his fat friend Obelix ran into trouble after Dominique Versini, the state Children's Defender adopted them to promote the United Nations convention on the Rights of Children. Albert Uderzo, the 80-year-old co-creator of Asterix produced an online album and devoted the proceeds of his birthday tribute album this year to the children's cause.

The DCI organisation says that Asterix conveys an "archaic...hierarchical" world at odds with the "revolutionary" values of the 1989 convention. This stresses the child's existence as a being with rights while children in Asterix are fragile objects that need to be protected, said Jean-Pierre Rosenczveig, a senior juvenile judge who heads the French DCI.

Asterix also projects "a Gaulish vision which ignores the intercultural reality of French society," they say. His constant resistance against the Romans and other foreign invaders sends altogether the wrong message in the peace-loving European Union.

In a 19-point list, the organisation lists the other negative ideas that Asterix projects. "The universe of Asterix and Obelix, two characters devoid of parents, spouses or children, makes few references to family relationships and these are most often reduced to conjugal relations and stereotype representations," it says. There was no room for "gangs of trouble-making and challenging children," it said.

It congratulated Obelix for tackling the problem of obesity but faulted the cartoon for failing to deal with unsanitary housing. The child defenders are also upset that Asterix delivers "a eulogy to tribal, hierarchical, society with frequent references to a chief." The right to education is sadly depicted by a woman school-teacher telling pupils: "Get into rows in silence please," adds the DCI.

Versini, a former junior minister who was appointed by President Chirac last year, called the fuss "a storm in a teacup". "We thought that the adventures of Asterix would enable us to speak to children about their rights with humour and tenderness," she told Le Monde. Her campaign continues over the objections of the rights organisation.

They used to split French cartoon fans into two camps: Asterix and Tintin. If you loved one, you didn't go for the other. I have always been a Tintinophile. The world of the late Herge's boy reporter is far richer and deeper than the antics of Asterix (more on that later). After the death in 1977 of Rene Goscinny, the brilliant story writer, the Uderzo-only Asterix lost its satirical side and has since played to sentiment. Behind their jargon, his detractors at the Defense des Enfants International just seem to be annoyed by the wholesome childish flavour of this Asterix world


Captain Cook was a wise and compassionate man

The report below corroborates many other reports of him by non-political writers -- including of course Cook's own detailed journals of his voyages and other reports by those who accompanied him. To modern-day Leftist historians, however, his heroic voyages of discovery in the Pacific on behalf of the British navy -- including the first reports of the East coast of Australia -- are just another example of evil white men exploiting noble primitive people. A short biography by Richard Alexander Hough offers good factual background

It was high summer, 1774, when Georg Forster crossed the Antarctic Circle on board Captain James Cook's ship Resolution. But as he recalled several years later, it did not feel, look or sound like summer to the 118 men shivering with cold and fear on the converted coal carrier. "Fogs and storms alternated with each other; often a storm would rage even during dark fogs; often we did not see the sun for a fortnight or three weeks," wrote Foster, who was 17 at the time. Vast masses of ice "emerged from the sea like floating islands", moving unseen until the last moment, encircling the ship. "How often were we terrified by being able to hear the waves breaking on the ice without being able to lay our eyes on the object of our fear," reflected Foster in a remarkable essay written in German in 1787, but only now published in English.

More revealing, though, than the conditions during the three-year expedition - Cook's second great voyage of exploration - is the picture that emerges of the conduct of the captain. Not only did Cook deny himself many of the pleasures due his position, but he showed uncharacteristic "fatherly care towards his men", Foster, a German naturalist, philosopher and polyglot adventurer, said. "At just the right moment he allowed them to have a party. Or, when the weather was too cold or the work had exhausted the crew, he would personally serve an invigorating drink." He even gave up his own quarters to make the overworked sailmaker more comfortable.

Foster's essay goes some way towards restoring a hero's reputation that has been tarnished by a series of recent "revisionist" histories. "There has been a bit of a backlash against the traditional idea of 'Cook the great white explorer'," says Nigel Erskine, curator of exploration at the Australian National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour. Indeed, books written from the point of view of indigenous people - such as the acclaimed Discoveries by Nicholas Thomas - have so moved minds that Cook is in danger of being rebirthed as "someone who shot his way round the Pacific".

Now, belatedly, the publication of Foster's essay Cook, der Entdecker (Cook, the Discoverer) - accompanied by a facsimile of the original German text - provides yet another correction. Erskine says Foster had the literary skills to transport readers with no knowledge of life at sea into the shuttered wooden world of the Resolution. "When the sea is very rough the mast may swing up to 38 degrees from the perpendicular," he writes. "At such times I have seen the tip of the yardarm immersed in the crest of a wave. "Every wave, therefore, swings a sailor on a yardarm some 50 yards up the mast through an arc of 50 to 60 feet."

From such vivid accounts, Cook re-emerges as a hero - not just an extraordinary finder of far-off lands, but a man who combined courage, compassion and a seafarer's eye for detail. Ultimately, Foster eulogises Cook, who was clubbed to death in Hawaii in 1779. "I imagine him as one of the beneficient heroes of antiquity who, on the wings of eagles, ascended to the assembly of the blessed gods."

Foster had sailed with his father, Johann Reinhold Foster. It was not a happy trip: a shipmate later described Foster snr as an "unsociable, ill-tempered, lying, bribing, knavish . piratical pretender of knowledge". On their return, relations with the British establishment deteriorated further, as the Fosters became involved in a strikingly modern wrangle over publication rights to Cook's voyage.

In a limited edition of 1050 copies, Foster's essay is the sixth book in the museum's Australian Maritime Series. Derek McDonnell, of the publisher, editor and translator Hordern House - which tracked down a copy of the German book in Massachusetts - says: "Cook is still a superstar."



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

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

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


2 June, 2007

The Ugly Liberal Is Back

Post lifted from Stratasphere

Many are too young to remember the ugly liberals of the 60’s and 70’s who spit on soldiers and yelled ‘baby killer’. Some might remember the ugly liberal showing up again early in Bill Clinton’s first term when the spit on and heckled young boy scouts who were simply marching in the American flag to an Democrat event. Well, the ugly liberal is back it seems, and as ugly as ever:

Vandals burned dozens of small American flags that decorated veterans’ graves for Memorial Day and replaced many of them with hand-drawn swastikas, authorities said Monday.
Forty-six flag standards were found empty and another 33 flags were in charred tatters Sunday in the cemetery, authorities said. Swastikas drawn on paper appeared where 14 of the flags had been.

Members of the American Legion on this island off Washington’s northwest coast replaced the burned flags with new ones Sunday afternoon.

The vandals struck again on Memorial Day after a guard left at dawn, the San Juan County sheriff’s office said. This time, the vandals left 33 of the hand-drawn swastikas.

Liberalism has been so devoid of original thought for so long their only offering is immature hate. The thrill of being a juvenile deliquent seems to be the one last dumb trick some fo these jerks can muster. Slashing tires during elections, running out of state to avoid losing votes and defacing graves. The tell tale signs of small minds confused by reality.

I am not saying the sad sacks exist only on the left. No one can ignore the idiocy of the Phelps clan. But the Phelps represent one screwed up family, not a political movement.

Update: Sadly there is more vileness here:

As veterans and their families filtered in to a local American Legion on Memorial Day, they found a somber scene.

Swastikas were sprayed all over the Manoa American Legion building in Delaware County, prevalently displayed and polluting the patriotic look of the veterans' sanctuary.

“I was just shocked to think that someone would come to a place like this and desecrate it with a swastika," said Phil Miller of American Legion Manoa Post 667. "Especially on Memorial Day. It’s just horrible."

And here.

Standing ramrod straight in dress blues and crisp khakis, the seven color guard members lifted their rifles for one of the most solemn moments of any Memorial Day parade, the 21-gun salute. Hundreds who had gathered to witness the tribute watched in silence.

Just then, the eggs came flying. One glanced off a tree branch, and landed far away from the marchers in yesterday’s Memorial Day Parade in Rockland, said Ryan Durfee , a former Marine who was marching in the color guard. Another crashed 8 feet in front of the color guard.

And here:

Vandals used a large landscaping stone to shatter a monument to Korean War veterans in northeast Iowa, authorities said.

About $3,000 in damage was done to the monument’s limestone edging and a black marble panel, which is inscribed with the names of veterans who were killed in action, police said. The monument is in a small park on the north edge of downtown Oelwein.

And more here:

he American Flag waves in front of a statue honoring our nation’s veterans, but the now headless statue at Kiwanis Memorial Park in Richland has, to some, become a symbol of something else.

“It goes to show me that people today simply don’t understand what the cost of freedom is all about,” said Lt. Col. Craig Minnick. “If they did, they wouldn’t do anything like this.”

And here:

Just days after several American flags were stolen and burned in Natick, the community came together to show its resolve and patriotism on Memorial Day.

NewsCenter 5’s Shiba Russell reported that vandals who struck last Thursday, burning decorative American flags in town trash barrels around the town square, did not dampen the enthusiasm of residents who showed up for Memorial Day ceremony.

They raised the flag over the square to the strains of the American national anthem, and all the flags from war memorials that were burned were replaced.

It seems this is how the mature lefties react when they lose votes in Congress. Pathetic.

Obsessive censorship in Britain

Five months on from the airing of the British reality TV show, Celebrity Big Brother, there is still a great deal of handwringing and finger-pointing over the crass remarks made by reality TV has-been Jade Goody and other contestants to the Indian actress, Shilpa Shetty. Goody and two other celebs have been accused by some of bullying Shetty in a `racial manner'.

Last week, the British media regulator, Ofcom, rode into the CBB debacle on its high horse, dispensing censorious writs against Channel 4. Elsewhere, London's Metropolitan Police Force (Celebrity Division) announced that it is considering questioning CBB contestants again after `new evidence' regarding their behaviour emerged. Ironically, the individual at the centre of the storm - Shetty - has dismissed the catty behaviour of Goody, Jo O'Meara and Danielle Lloyd as ignorant but not racist, and hardly worth dwelling on. So why can't Ofcom, the police, Labour MPs and commentators leave this tired and over-egged `controversy' alone?

According to Ofcom's judgement on the affair, Channel 4 made `serious editorial misjudgements' in its handling of various incidents in the CBB house, such as by broadcasting Goody's reference to Shetty as `Shilpa Poppadom' (1). Ofcom complains that the CBB producers `failed to contextualise or justify the inclusion [of this comment]'. Perhaps Channel 4 should have aired a warning along the lines of: `This programme contains the opinions of foul-mouthed celebrity chavs which some viewers may find disturbing.'

But then, bizarrely, Channel 4 has also been criticised for covering up other `incidents of racism' in the CBB house. Thus, says Ofcom, the channel could be accused of `condoning the behaviour of some of the housemates because interventions were felt to be too late' (2). So Channel 4 is slammed both for failing to censor allegedly racist material and also for censoring allegedly racist material.

For many media pundits, this all proves that the executives at Channel 4 are not fit to run a public broadcasting channel (a cursory glance at Channel 4's dismal, prurient and mocking output would surely have confirmed that fact, without the benefit of an Ofcom report). Yet in their rush to cheer Ofcom for rapping Channel 4's knuckles, and for raising a question mark over garish reality TV programmes that give airtime to wannabes and airhead celebrities, commentators have failed to ask the most pressing question: what right do the unelected stuffed shirts at Ofcom have to decide what Channel 4 should or should not show the public?

Commentators and politicians have given their nodding approval to Ofcom's insidious brand of `liberal censorship'. Censure by Ofcom is justified on the grounds that it is protecting the viewing public (which includes children, don't forget!) from material that is `offensive', `inappropriate' and `unacceptable'. Why don't we be done with it and employ Ofcom representatives in actual TV studios and behind the cameras, so that they can make sure that everyone in TV-land behaves according to its strict guidelines? I loathe Big Brother and the public school nihilists who produce it as much as the next journalist. But having Ofcom dictate the terms of British broadcasting is a far worse prospect, and a disaster for TV on a par with bringing back soap-in-the-sun Eldorado.

Channel 4 has been ordered to broadcast a summary of Ofcom's findings ahead of three of its programmes: the first episode of the new Big Brother series, which starts on 30 May, as well as before the first re-versioned showing of BB the following morning and before the first eviction show. Even Dermot O'Leary's meejah-bloke prattle would sound positively enticing in comparison with a long boring mea culpa about where Channel 4 allegedly sinned against Ofcom's commandments. What next? Will Ofcom reprimand the producers of Big Brother for not apologising for Britain's role in the transatlantic slave trade? Much has been made of the fact that, after a great deal of political and media campaigning by community groups and certain MPs, 45,000 people complained about the bullying incidents on CBB. What about the other five million or so people who watched the show and didn't complain? Do they not count? Behind the claims that Ofcom is providing a useful service to the public, in fact this is about an unelected minority dictating to the rest of us about what we can watch; Ofcom is Mary Whitehouse dressed in liberal attire.

As I have argued previously on spiked, the Goody/Shetty row, and the response to it, revealed much about the role that race and `anti-racism' play in British society today. At a time when the authorities find it increasingly difficult to forge any meaningful consensus on what British society is for, being against racism or `intolerant behaviour' has stepped in to fill the vacuum in moral values. The more atomised and fragmented individuals appear to be, and the more isolated established institutions feel from wider society, the more that `anti-racism' is rolled out in an attempt to create a new sense of Britishness and British values.

Goody's crass behaviour was described by everyone from Trevor Phillips of the Commission for Racial Equality to the Sun as an `outrage', an embarrassment to the nation's moral standing - yet in truth, such outbursts are actually quite useful for the political and media elite in the sense that they can be used to reinforce the new moral framework. This is why institutions such as Ofcom, the Met and the political establishment can't let the CBB debacle go (even after its main `victim', Shetty, has got over it): they need such examples of intolerant behaviour in order to force everybody else into line.

The implication behind today's official `anti-racism' is that the mass of British people are only a cigarette paper away from starting pogroms against ethnic minorities. This is what Ofcom means when it refers to the `context' of Goody and Co's jibes against Shetty. It is implying that without `context' - that is, paternalistic guidance about acceptable language and behaviour, issued by bodies that know better than the rest of us - the masses will run around calling Indian people `poppadom', or worse. Although Ofcom is ostensibly slapping Channel 4's wrists, its actual intended target is CBB viewers, who apparently cannot be trusted to watch scenes of negative behaviour. To counter the alleged damage done to the public by these scenes, Ofcom now insists that Channel 4 apologises not just once, but three times, to make sure that we viewers get the `correct' message loud and clear.

Another message has been transmitted by the obsession with CBB: namely, that Indians living in Britain are victims, too. In recent years, we have been constantly told that Muslims and black youth face insurmountable obstacles in British society, and thus they need special treatment to help them to deal with their alienation. By contrast, first- and second-generation Indians have largely been left out of this victimising process (which is often a self-fulfilling one). That is one reason why Indian youth are far less preoccupied with ethnic identity than their Muslim or black peers - it is also why, crucially, they tend to do considerably better at school, too. Most Indians in Britain do not consider their ethnic background and skin colour as a barrier to advancement or, judging by some of my Indian students' chatter about gigs and clubs in Camden, as a block against taking part in mainstream British society.

Thus, many British Indians wrote off the CBB debacle. They seemed to view it as a hugely overblown controversy, and one which was massively unrepresentative of their own experience of living in twenty-first-century Britain, and especially London. Could the continual parading of Shetty over the past five months, and her alleged victimisation at the hands of three representatives of what one journalist called `thick white Britain', be part of an attempt to encourage young Indians to see themselves also as a `race apart', as a victim class? Certainly, Labour MP Keith Vaz, who has stepped in to the debate to demand an apology from Channel 4, seems keen to promote the idea that Indians are the latest victims of modern Britain, rather than one of its hidden success stories. After all, the way to win public recognition these days is by playing the victim card rather than the success card.

Five months on from the CBB debacle, we don't need any more on-air apologies or handwringing. Rather, we could do with saying `F off' to Ofcom and all the other peddlers of today's censorious and divisive PC outlook.


The morally blind "Amnesty" organization

They think in terms of race rather than in terms of harm done to people. So who are the racists? Article below by Australian columnist Andrew Bolt

AMNESTY International has a lethal dose of our new intellectual disease - the racism of the anti-racists. It's got it so bad that what was once the world's most admired human-rights group can no longer tell the moral difference between a democrat and a dictator. At least, not when the democrat is as white as - yes! - John Howard, and the genocidal despot is not.

Amnesty's secretary-general, Irene Khan, last week released its 2007 report, and in its foreword listed what to her were the greatest threats to human rights. "Today far too many leaders are trampling and trumpeting an ever-widening range of fears," trumpeted Khan, a Bangladeshi Muslim whose own country, by the way, is under military rule. And she named four leaders - no one else - who demonstrated to her this kind of "myopic and cowardly leadership".

The Muslim and morally blind Ms Khan above. Not an unusual combination of attributes. Muslim respect for human life and their love of Western civilization is well-known

First, was our own Prime Minister Howard - prime evil for stopping boats of illegal immigrants. Second, was US President George Bush, for invoking "the fear of terrorism" just "to enhance his executive power". (I know, that fear was invoked not by Bush, but by terrorists on September 11, 2001, and ... but we're interrupting Khan's lecture.) Trailing in third place, in Khan's pantheon of evil, was Sudan's Islamist President, Omar al-Bashir, behind a genocide in Darfur that's killed some 200,000 people. Last was Robert Mugabe, who has turned Zimbabwe into a cemetery for the starving, although Khan merely accuses him of grabbing land for his supporters.

This grouping of two leaders of free democracies with two genocidal thugs is bizarre, but does have supreme virtue for the modern anti-racist racist. See? Two whites were "balanced" by two dark-skins. Two Westerners by two Third-Worlders. Two Christians by a Muslim and an old Communist. What could be fairer? And that fake balance - so kind to the cruel - ran right through Khan's essay. A typical line: "The politics of fear has been made more complex by the emergence of armed groups and big business that commit or condone human rights abuses." How about that? Al-Qaeda (which Khan never mentions by name) is no more deadly than a big business like Nike.

Here's another: "If unregulated migration is the fear of the rich, then unbridled capitalism, driven by globalisation, is the fear of the poor." Perfectly balanced. The capitalism that actually makes poor people richer, is thought by Khan to be as scary as the race riots and no-entry immigrant enclaves of France, or the bomb plots of jihad-minded sons of immigrants in Britain.

Nowhere does she note that the West is swamped by migrants from the East precisely because the East has too little capitalism. And, of course, too many dictators. Nor does Khan acknowledge that the fears expressed by her hated Western politicians have very real causes, often originating in lands ruled by Muslim theocracies and autocrats.

You might think I've read too much into one article, but Khan has form in likening the worst to the West, and seeing an equivalence between those defending the West and those trying to destroy it. Three years ago, for instance, she said that of all the horrors of the world, the US-led "war on terror" (her scare quotes) was "the biggest attack on human rights, principles and values". Honest. To Khan, defending ourselves against Islamist terrorists is deadlier to human rights than, say, the brutalising of Zimbabwe, the mass murder in Darfur, the state oppression in China, the civil wars in Algeria and Sudan, the withering of democracy in Russia, the Islamist fascism of Iran, and the open jail of North Korea.

The following year, Khan even called Guantanamo Bay the "gulag of our time" - this time making a prison for 400 suspected terrorists seem as terrible as the vast Soviet network of forced labor camps in which millions of innocent civilians were jailed in conditions so brutal that countless of them died. This outraged Pavel Litvinov, a former Soviet "prisoner of conscience" adopted by Amnesty, who warned: "By using hyperbole and muddling the difference between repressive regimes and the imperfections of democracy, Amnesty's spokesman put its authority at risk."

I wish. In fact, Khan's anti-racist racism and consequent likening of white democrats to black totalitarians has made her a hero. In 2004, she was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize and invited to give the University of South Australia's annual Hawke Lecture, broadcast across the land by the ABC. How the audience at that lecture cheered Khan as she cried there was a "feeling in many parts of the world that the West has lost its moral high ground to advocate human rights" - an irrational feeling she has tried harder than most to whip up. Those cheers confirmed that Khan simply reflected a suicidal tendency among the West's intelligentsia to see the worst in the West and the best in the totalitarians pledged to destroy it.

Want recent examples? There are our prominent Leftists - ABC host Phillip Adams, propagandist John Pilger, columnist Jill Singer, Islamist Keysar Trad - who've invited Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez to visit and "inspire" us. That is, when he's not too busy closing down TV stations that criticise him, rigging laws to stay in power and calling George Bush a "devil".

There's Age cartoonist and National Living Treasure Michael Leunig, who similarly draws Bush as a devil, Howard as a murderer and Israel as Auschwitz, but demands we treat terrorist chief Osama bin Laden as our "relative" and "consider (his) suffering". There's the Melbourne University Press boss, Louise Adler, who two weeks ago likened al-Qaeda recruit David Hicks to Nelson Mandela.

There's University of Technology Sydney's Islamic law lecturer, Jamila Hussain, who this week called visiting author Ayaan Hirsi Ali an "extremist" who should stay "where she came from" when real extremists - Muslim ones - have forced this liberal Sudanese-born feminist and critic of misogynist Islam to bring her bodyguard to ensure she doesn't suffer the fate of her former colleague, director Theo van Gogh, assassinated in 2004.

Or take the Global Peace Index released this week by The Charitable Foundation of local IT millionaire and philanthropist Steve Killelea. It rated Australia at 25 in its ranking of countries most at peace - and the US at just 96, below even Syria, China, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia and Libya. Democratic Israel was rated the least peaceful of all, apart from Sudan and Iraq. Not one report I saw of that survey drew the obvious conclusion: that this was madness. That this was a manifestation of a moral blindness among our elites.

And now Amnesty International is as blind as the rest, flailing at the very societies that most protect the freedoms it claims to defend. How defenceless we are, when even this once-great defender of human rights now treats us as one of the deadliest enemies of all.



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

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

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


1 June, 2007

Jihad-by-lawsuit fails in Boston

The American system of litigation, allowing anyone to sue anyone for anything, thereby inflicting major costs (for legal counsel and time) on any enemy, is an open invitation to legal thuggery by the wealthy. Proposals to implement the English system, whereby the loser in a lawsuit pays the winner's legal costs, have always run into fatal opposition by those protectors of the rights of the little guy, the tort lawyer lobby and its captive political party, the Democrats.

In this era of deep-pocketed Islamic groups, it was inevitable that this available tool would be exploited by groups seeking to stifle any criticism of Islam or radical Islamists. The phrase "jihad-by-lawsuit" has been invented to cover such instances, the most recent of which is CAIR's notorious lawsuit threatened against passengers on the USAirways flight in Minneapolis who alerted authorities of the suspicious behavior of the Flying Imams.

But long before the Imams asked for seat belt extenders for svelte clergy, a particularly troublesome lawsuit was brought in Boston in 2005, by the Islamic Society of Boston, against private groups and individuals as well as selected press outlets, which brought to light embarrassing details of a deal between the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the ISB, handing over land for construction of a new mosque at an extraordinarily cheap price. Solomonia brings us the good news that the ISB has completely dropped the lawsuit. Quoting from a press release of the David Project, one of the groups sued,

"The David Project has announced that the Islamic Society of Boston ("ISB") and its officers have withdrawn all of their claims against all of the citizens who raised concerns about the ISB, its funding and its leadership, as well as all of their claims against the Boston Herald, Fox-TV and the various journalists whose investigative pieces about the ISB in 2003 and 2004 disclosed damaging information about the ISB and its controversial land deal with the Boston Redevelopment Authority ("BRA"). The ISB and its officers have abandoned all of their claims against all of the defendants they sued 2 years ago, without payment to the ISB or to them of any money whatsoever.

The ISB's decision to drop all of its claims against all of the 17 defendants it sued back in 2005 alleging "defamation" and accusing them of conspiring to violate its civil rights comes just months after the defendants--who included a Muslim cleric, a Christian political science professor and the Jewish daughter of Holocaust survivors, as well as Boston civic leader William Sapers and national terrorism expert Steven Emerson--had begun through their lawyers to conduct discovery into the ISB's financial records, its receipt of millions of dollars in funding from Saudi Arabian and other Middle Eastern sources, its contributions to certain organizations and the records of certain of its officers and directors. The ISB's abandonment of its lawsuits comes only weeks after two of its original Middle Eastern Trustees, Walid Fitaihi of Saudi Arabia and Ali Tobah of Egypt, suddenly resigned as Trustees just before they were required to submit themselves to the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts court hearing the case.
While this is a victory, it could be a Pyrrhic one, for immense costs have already been inflicted, and there is not much prospect that they can be recovered. It is not at all uncommon for meretricious litigation to be dropped when discovery looms. If the defendants are tied up and impoverished, the litigant may accomplish its purpose without a courtroom victory. On the other hand, it is always dangerous for financial goliaths to push around a group which models itself on David:

"We were determined from the beginning to act the way citizens should, by asking questions about this matter and by refusing to be intimidated into staying silent," said David Project founder and President Charles Jacobs, "and we intend to continue as we have before. Indeed, the evidence that has emerged about the transaction, about the BRA's failure to do due diligence into those whom it chose to subsidize and about the funding and the leadership of the organization that received this public subsidy is of extremely deep concern. That evidence not only vindicates the reporting of the courageous journalists whose investigative work broke the story back in 2003 and 2004, but validates many times over the concerns expressed by the good and decent citizens-Muslims, Christians and Jews- who refused to stay silent."

"Those citizens were vilified by the ISB for having had the courage to speak out", said Jacobs. "The ISB's abandonment of its claims without payment of one dollar to them, coming as it does as the ISB was ordered to turn over evidence, speaks more eloquently than anything else could about the truth of what these citizens said, about the validity of their concerns, and about the lack of merit to the ISB's allegations that they had been `defamed' and had been financially `damaged'. Above all, the ISB's ultimate abandonment of its lawsuits speaks eloquently about the importance of refusing to be bullied and intimidated into silence."

If the BRA is forced to reveal its incompetence or worse, perhaps some meaningful reforms will be possible.
The best possible outcome, however, would be for this case to gain publicity, and help press the case for implementing the English rule for lawsuits, as a matter of national security.

I wonder how many profiles in courage awards we will see for the Boston Herald and WXNE, the Fox-owed affiliate in Boston, which stood up to the bullies who used lawsuit intimidation to try to silence reporters digging into public corruption? In a world of an unbiased journalistic establishment, there would be Peabody Awards, Pulitizers, and other awards of merit. If, as I expect, the journalistic establishment averts its eyes and moves on, that will be another nail in the coffin of their reputations. Congratulations to all the defendants. May they press on. Let us watch the reaction of the MSM to this case, It is a victory for freedom of the press.


The Islamic youth bulge as the real danger

If the leaders of the American-led "Coalition of the Willing", had known Gunnar Heinsohn's research, they most likely never would have left their troops in Iraq or Afghanistan. They would probably quickly abandon any thought of intervention in Sudan's Darfur province. They would tell the Palestinian 10-children-families that the West no longer will pay for their unrestricted childbirth. Western opinion-makers and politicians would also abandon their pet theory that virtually any act of violence in a belt from Northern Africa to the Philippines in addition to miscellaneous acts of terror all over the world are caused by the unsolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And worst of all seen from the prevalent political consensus in Denmark and the rest of the West: Heinsohn does not believe, even for a second, that economic aid and hunger relief in countries plagued by large youth populations can prevent wars, social unrest, terror or killings. On the contrary he is convinced that the material aid in some cases can start the killings. This is because starving people do not fight, they just suffer. However, if you give a lot of young men enough to eat and a certain education, in a society where there are too many young men so that not all can get the recognition and position that they feel entitled to, it can lead to violence.

About this the 63-year-old professor of sociology at the University of Bremen, in 2003 wrote in his sensational and quite politically incorrect book S”hne und Weltmacht: Terror im Aufstieg und Fall der Nationen [Sons and World Domination: Terror in the Rise and Fall of Nations]. The book became widely known and talked about, after the prominent German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk characterized the work as being as groundbreaking as Karl Marx's Das Kapital. Sloterdijk thought that the book could pave the way for a new realism with in the field, one that could be called "Demographic Materialism".

Heinsohn is not concerned about the absolute size of populations, rather the share of teenagers and young men. If this share becomes too big compared to the total population, we're facing a youth bulge. The problem starts when the individual family puts three, four, or more sons into the world. Then they start fighting for access to the positions in society that give power and prestige. Then you have a lot of boys and young men running around filled with aggression and uncontrollable hormones. Then we get the killings, until sufficiently many have been killed and their number matches society's ability to provide positions for them.

According to Heinsohn, 80% of world history is about young men in nations with a surplus of sons, creating trouble. This trouble can take many forms - a violent increase in domestic crime, coup d'‚tat attempts, revolutions, riots, and civil wars. Occasionally the young commit genocide to assure themselves of the positions that belonged to those they killed. Finally, there is war to conquer new territory, killing the enemy population and replacing it with one's own.

But, as Heinsohn emphasizes again and again, the unrest and the violent acts that the youth bulge causes have nothing to do with famine or unemployment. In his book he described it in this way: The dynamic in a youth bulge - it cannot be emphasized too often - is not caused by the lack of food. A younger brother, who as a stable hand for the firstborn son can be well-fed and perhaps even fat, does not seek food, but position, one that can guarantee him recognition, influence and dignity. Not underweight, but rather potential losers or the d‚class‚ are pushing forward. (p. 21)

Unfortunately, the Western world in recent years is facing a gigantic youth bulge in large parts of the Muslim world. This bulge is created by a Muslim population explosion. In just five generations (1900-2000) the population in the Muslim countries has grown from 150 million to 1200 million - an increase of 800%.


Gay bar win opens can of worms

HOTELS and nightclubs should be given the green light to ban men or women at venues with a "gender imbalance", the Australian Hotels Association said yesterday. The AHA made the claim yesterday after a landmark decision at the state planning tribunal allowing a Melbourne gay pub to ban heterosexuals.

AHA state CEO Brian Kearney said the decision should lead to more leniency for venues wanting to address the issue of gender balance. "We are hopeful this decision might result in a more flexible attitude to publicans who want to ensure a good mix of men and women at their venue," Mr Kearney said. "There have been a few cases before VCAT by hotels wanting the right to refuse entry to males or females when the balance isn't right, but they have been overwhelmingly rejected."

The Herald Sun yesterday revealed the owners of Collingwood pub the Peel won the right to refuse entry to straight men and women. Owner Tom McFeely argued the exemption, under the Equal Opportunity Act, would help prevent "sexually based insults and violence" towards its gay patrons. Mr McFeely said that while the pub welcomed everyone, its gay clientele had expressed discomfort over the number of heterosexuals and lesbians coming to the venue over the past year. "We've had instances in the past where, for example, a bucks' night has come up to the Peel or a hens' night," he said. "Our whole atmosphere changes immensely."

Mr McFeely said that before the ruling it was illegal to refuse entry to a large group of people based on sexuality, making his gay customers uncomfortable and unable to express their sexuality freely. He said there were more than 2000 venues in Melbourne that catered to heterosexuals, but his pub was the only one marketing itself predominantly to gay men. "Heterosexuals have other places to go to, my homosexuals do not," Mr McFeely said.

But he said there had already been a backlash against the decision, with dozens of people phoning with homophobic abuse. "The phone honestly hasn't stopped ringing and that's sad," Mr McFeely said. "But it also, in my head, demonstrates the need for this type of thing because there is still quite a bit of homophobia in the general community."

The Peel yesterday received support from the Equal Opportunity Commission, which said gays had the right to socialise in a safe place. "From my understanding this was not a move for a blanket ban of straight people. It was a decision taken to maintain the safety of the hotel's gay patrons," EOC chief Helen Szoke said. Ms Szoke said while the decision was unique, it did not necessarily open the floodgates for other venues wanting discrimination exemptions. "Each case before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal is looked at on its own merit," she said. "It is not OK in all cases to ban men or women just to get the gender balance right." [So she has prejudged the matter]



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

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

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