The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

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31 March, 2007


Thousands of prisoners are being given keys to their cells in the latest farce to hit the criminal justice system. They can roam in and out virtually at will under a scheme designed to give them more "respect and decency". The astonishing measure prompted a furious response from MPs last night, who warned that the human-rights culture was out of control.

It will provoke a furious public backlash at a time when prisons are overflowing and dangerous offenders are being tagged and freed into the community. Official figures revealed that 5,747 of the 9,577 offenders in Yorkshire prisons have keys for 'privacy locks' to protect themselves and their belongings. Although many of them are at open prisons and youth offenders' institutes, others are in standard closed prisons for those who have committed serious crimes such as muggings, burglary and theft. It also emerged that some youth prisons now call offenders 'trainees' or 'residents'.

Governors in other parts of the country are also understood to have introduced the key scheme. Shipley Tory MP Philip Davies accused the Government of "turning prisons into hotels". He said: "People will be horrified to know so many prisons give inmates their own keys. It will reinforce their views that the regime is far too lax and cushy. "These people are banged up for a reason. But the Government seems more concerned about the human rights of criminals than those of their victims, who are footing the bill to keep them in increasingly pleasant surroundings."

Blair Gibbs, director of the Tax-Payers' Alliance, said: "It is hard to believe we live in a serious country any more when you hear lunacy like this. Our politicians are clearly not capable of running anything that resembles an effective criminal justice system."

Home Office Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said: "It's mainly used for people who are soon going to be released or in open prisons. "It's all part of providing incentives to encourage them to take more responsibility for themselves, to give them a little bit more respect and decency." He stressed that the prisoners' locks could be over-ridden by staff keys and insisted: "There are no security issues about this. The keys are for their own cells and nowhere else."

The revelation will still reinforce concern that prisoners' 'rights' are increasingly being pandered to. In the financial year that ended last March, 8.8 million in compensation was paid out to prisoners - almost 15 times as much as just two years earlier. Cases included:

2.8 million for medical treatment for a prisoner who failed in a suicide bid.

750,000 for nearly 200 drug addicts who suffered withdrawal symptoms after they were forced to go 'cold turkey'.

80,000 for three illegal immigrant convicts who were not deported quickly enough, opening the door for hundreds of similar claims.

200 each for prisoners whose DVD players were taken away because they watched pornography.

There was also the case of Gerry Cooper, who sued the Home Office after falling out of a bunk bed in his cell. Inquiries by Mr Davies showed that of Yorkshire's 15 prisons, six give keys to all their inmates and three based the decisions on category of offence and personal circumstances. The six who deny them to all offenders, include top-security Wakefield, where Soham murderer Ian Huntley is serving life.

Governors at Hull Prison, where 50 per cent of inmates have keys, suggested the practice was there to help prisoners protect themselves from others. The prison said: "The facility is overridden by staff keys and is seen as of additional benefit to vulnerable prisoners by providing extra protection."

The inquiries also unearthed the fact that young prisoners at Askham Grange prison are called 'residents', while at Wetherby they are 'trainees'. Earlier this year, Derbyshire chief constable David Coleman was accused of 'madness' after refusing to release pictures of two escaped murderers amid fears it might breach their human rights. He claimed they posed 'no risk' to local people.


Multicultural Europe and its suicide

So-called dialogue with the Islamic world and relativism regarding marriage, the dignity of women, and sexual equality in the name of multiculturalism is destroying European identity and doing away with womens rights

The ideology of multiculturalism, i.e. blind tolerance toward any culture and tradition, is destroying European identity and is above all doing away with human rights and, more specifically, women's rights. A prime example is the increasing tolerance in European countries toward polygamy.

In theory, polygamy is prohibited in Italy and in Europe. But it increasingly happens, in the name of multiculturalism, that Muslim immigrants are registered as polygamists in the European continent: if a man is Muslim and married in his country of origin with 4 wives, we cannot but accept this as a given. All this goes against European laws and constitutions - which affirm monogamous families - but, in the name of a misplaced respect for cultures, any solution is deemed acceptable.

Tolerance for polygamy?

In Italy, some constitutionalists are suggesting, for the sake of letting people have it both ways, that only one wife be recognized as such, while the others are considered concubines: this would settle the situation of various Muslims who already have a wife in their country of origin and take another in Italy. Others think that a distinction could be made between civil marriage (at City Hall, with just one wife) and religious marriage in a mosque, where polygamous marriages could be celebrated. Naturally, to do this, they are proposing that the articles of Italian civil law, which affirm monogamy and the equality of men and women, not be read. A similar trend is spreading in Greece. In certain areas where Muslims are the majority, the government has accepted the principle that they manage themselves with their own norms. And so, in Athens, polygamy is prohibited, but in Muslim-majority areas, it is allowed, again in the name of cultural respect.

Multiculturalism is doing a lot of damage. Firstly to common sense: if a man is married in Senegal with a woman and in Italy with another, this cannot be defined as monogamy. A crime remains such whether it is committed in Italy or abroad. Such tricks are actually a way to suggest loopholes for polygamy. Thus, if an Italian wants to have more than just one wife, all he needs to do is to convert to Islam!

But multiculturalism is above all damaging to the dignity of women. Polygamy in Italy is prohibited in that it is contrary to the principle of equality between men and women. It would be useful to Islam too to affirm this principle. In Islamic society, in fact, women cannot be polygamous (only men have that "right"). The same is true for repudiation, which is permitted to a man, but not to a woman who, however, can ask her husband the favour of repudiating her. Affirming monogamy is thus the way forward on the path for an overall effort in favour of women's rights.

The Imam of Venissieux and women

To understand the humiliation in which women live in the Islamic world, I would like to recall a fact that sparked much debate in France. Last February 20th, the courts definitively rejected an appeal made by Imam Abdelkader Bouziane. An Algerian-national, Sheikh Abdelkader, imam of the mosque of Venissieux, near Lyon, a polygamist and father of 16 (sixteen) children (14 of which French citizens) had been living in France since 1980.

He had been ordered on February 26, 2004, to leave the country by Interior Minister Sarkozy, for his inflammatory speeches and for incitement to hatred, but the ordinance was not enforced. On April 20, following an interview in the "Lyon Mag" newspaper, he was again served an expulsion order for his statements against women, in particular for having said that "the Koran authorizes a Muslim, in certain cases, to beat his wife," that women must subjugated themselves to their husband and were not equal to men.

On April 23rd, the administrative tribunal of Lyon suspended the expulsion ordinance and rejected the Interior Ministry's request. The imam went back to France in May 22. On October 5, 2004, the State Council cancelled the expulsion suspension, and the next day the iman was again expelled to Orano in Algeria. On June 21, 2005, the Lyon court declared him once again free, but on October 14, he was convicted in absentia. The imam filed an appeal, but on February 6, 2007, the courts definitively rejected his case.

The "Regards de femmes" Association of Lyon, which had sued the imam, declared: "The right to dignity, to respect, to the integrity of her body belongs to every woman in France. It will not be possible from now on to legitimize violence against women on the pretence of religion." .....

The Koran: wife beating is allowed

Various readers were up in arms, but in the end the imam defended himself saying that this is the Koran. And he's right. If we open the Koran at Sura 4, verse 34, we can read: "Men have authority over women due to the preference that Allah concedes to them over the other and because they spend their property [for women]; Good women are therefore obedient, guarding under secrecy that which Allah has preserved [sex]. [2] ; As for those on whose part you fear insubordination, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do nothing further against them; Allah is high and great."

Last week on Al Jazeera, I heard another imam explain the four conditions for beating a wife: not on her face; without drawing blood; without breaking bones; not in the presence of children. If all this is insufficient, one must resort to extreme punishment, i.e. the man deprives his wife of sexual relations.

The Koran is also explicit on the question of the superiority of men to women; according to the Koran, Charter 2 (The Cow), Verse 228: "Divorced women should keep themselves in waiting for three periods; and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs, if they believe in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have priority to take them back during this time if they wish for reconciliation; and they [women] have rights equivalent to their duties, on the basis of good custom, but the men are superior. Allah is Mighty, Wise."

The Italian edition published by the Union of Islamic Communities and Organizations in Italy (UCOII) includes a long footnote (absent on the on-line version) on the phrase "but men are superior":

"In a pitiful effort to standardize Islam to Western culture, certain modernist commentators have written that superiority has only to do with the right of men to repudiate their wife, a faculty which is not reciprocal. In reality, it is a much more important and fundamental matter for the maintaining of balance at the individual, family and social levels.

"Man and Woman are two complementary realities that exist unto each other. If this were not so, Allah (glory be to Him the Most High) would not have formed Eve from Adam's rib, he would have furnished each gender with complete reproductive organs, etc., etc. "The physical structure of men is capable of great exertion and significant exploits, that of women, of steady labour and great endurance of pain.

"Male sensitivity is entirely exterior, projected outside the realm of family and tends to become public and political. That of women is interior, careful of oneself, aimed at the protection of that which has been acquired and to the acquisition of simple means of sustenance and security.

"Male psychology is imaginative, creative, experimental, risk-loving, desirous of novelty, of affirming the Self, usually ample and superficial. That of women is concrete, traditional, risk-hating, desirous of certainty, of conserving what is "mine", usually profound and limited.

"In the realm of family, the respect of the Laws of Allah and of the Sunna of the Messenger can create situations that require an affirmation of power that mortifies the complementarity of spouses. But apart from complementarity, there is the problem of leadership, in the family and in society, which does not mean predomination, oppression or the lack of recognition of female predominance in a number of sectors and circumstances. Allah (Glory be to Him, the Most High) assigns this management role to the male. It is an onerous and difficult task that men would often willingly do without, and for which he must respond before Allah."

This apologetic comment, written by an Italian converted to Islam, mirrors the opinion of traditionalistic ulemas, avoiding their excesses. It assigns specific tasks to men and to women, tasks which are unchangeable because determined by God, which claim to correspond to the nature of one and the other. It is obvious that such a distribution of roles, established by God for eternity and valid for all times and cultures, is hardly compatible with Western mentality and is often incompatible with the laws and constitutions of Europe.


Is it possible to accept this teaching in the name of the respect for cultures and religious tolerance? This is the serious question faced by all Western countries.

I don't know if the flag-wavers of multiculturalism realize how much human damage they cause. Actually, it is increasingly clear that so-called multicultural tolerance is only acquiescence to a subtle form of racism. In the name of cultural difference, in fact, everything is left to proceed on parallel tracks, without envisaging any progress, integration or betterment in the name of human dignity.

It is time for Europe to understand that religious law cannot prevail over civil law and that, above every form of tolerance, there is a country's constitution. If this does not happen, Islam will be given carte blanche to colonize our customs.



LAST Sunday was Neighbour Day. The idea behind the day is simple and worthwhile. Neighbours are encouraged to say hello to one another. Neighbour Day was started by Melburnian Andrew Heslop in 2003 and is now celebrated throughout the country. The concept has been welcomed by politicians from both sides of politics, federal and state governments and local councils.

It is ironic that governments support Neighbour Day, given government regulations are a chief cause of the decline in the sense of community in our neighbourhoods. Forty per cent of Victorians engage in some sort of voluntary activity, and voluntary organisations are central to strong neighbourhoods. Yet government rules are putting the future of those organisations and what they do at risk. Community initiative is being stifled as regulations become so burdensome that many volunteers find that their participation is simply not worth the trouble.

Fund-raising sausage sizzles are now subject to 40 pages of regulation from the Department of Human Services. It is a legal requirement that functions appoint an "event co-ordinator", who must complete a checklist of more than 30 questions, ranging from the time the event started and finished, to whether the area was free of pests, to the name, address and phone number of anyone who supplied food. To conduct a sausage sizzle will probably require two separate permits from the local council. One permit to authorise the fund-raising and another to allow food to be sold.

The purpose of all this bureaucracy is, of course, to prevent food poisoning. And, possibly because of additional regulation, a few people have been saved from an upset stomach. But there is a trade-off. As governments make it harder and more complicated to run voluntary activities, volunteers become less willing to organise those activities. People no longer attempt to help themselves, and instead they look to government for the solution to their community's problems.

It might be obvious, but what is often forgotten is that voluntary organisations are run by volunteers. Even if they wanted to, volunteers don't have the time to navigate their way through 40 pages of instructions, fill out five pages of paperwork, and then wait 14 days for council approval, all so that they can cook some sausages. Common sense has been replaced by adherence to a rulebook. Most people understand that buying food at a school fete is different from buying it at a commercial restaurant. Many of the issues council health inspectors try to solve could be fixed by simply declaring that anyone purchasing at a community event does so that their own risk.

The modern-day mania for "risk management" has eliminated a range of activities previously conducted by voluntary associations. While risk was once an accepted part of everyday life, now it is something that must be eliminated.

For a number of years a group of volunteers has operated an after-school sports program for children living on an inner-city housing commission estate in Melbourne. The program was supported by an AFL club whose players regularly visited the estate to teach drills to the 30 children who attended each week.

This year, with the program growing and consuming more time, the volunteers decided to hand over the running of the program to a local government agency. The first requirement from officials at the agency was that the program institute a "risk management" plan and that every volunteer have a "position description". It didn't matter that the worst accident any child had ever experienced was a bump on the head, and that volunteers had spent years working quite happily without "position descriptions". The result was that because none of the volunteers had the time or expertise to complete the necessary paperwork the program was cancelled.

Victorians would be surprised to know there's a state government department responsible for voluntary organisations. It's called the Department for Victorian Communities and its mandate is to work "with local people throughout Victoria with the mutual goal of strengthening communities". The department is even running an inquiry into the red tape faced by community groups. So far nothing much has happened. Maybe a new and radical approach is necessary. The best thing government could do is get out of the way. Rather than attempting to abolish the inevitable risk associated with practically anything a community group does, government could let people make their own choices. It is hoped that as attitudes change back to what they once were, we may no longer need to be reminded to say hello to our neighbours.


Can you combine a career with motherhood?

By Australian journalist Caroline Overington

YOU cannot have it all. That's the message that Carmel Tebbutt imparted to women when she stepped down from the NSW ministry to spend more time with her six-year-old son, Nathan. It's the same message that Natasha Stott Despoja sent to women, when she announced that she would not stand for re-election in 2008, to spend more time with her two-year-old son, Conrad. Tebbutt said she didn't want other mothers to think it was impossible to "combine a career and being a mother".

But it's true, you can't have a high powered career if you're a mother, not unless you: a) have a husband at home who does not work; or b) have paid help (or a doting grandma) to pick up the kids from school, supervise their homework; put them to bed; prepare the school lunches; and provided you can live with the guilt of never being there for any of the significant moments in your child's life.

Most women can't do it. It feels wrong - indeed, it probably is wrong - to be pounding away at a career while your children lie sobbing in bed, wondering why you're not home. That's why most mothers work part-time: three or four days a week, even in high-powered jobs. And that's why it's simply not true that you can't have it all.

You can, it's just that most women don't want it all - not if "all" means spending most of their waking hours away from their children. Given a choice between a career and the kids, most women will go for a bit of both, thank you. Don't tell anyone, but for most of us, that is having it 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, 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.


30 March, 2007

Lesbian asks court to ban homosexual adoptions

Sara Wheeler's life has become a contradiction. Once a proud lesbian, she's now a pariah in the gay community. Once in a committed relationship with a female partner, she's rethinking her sexuality. And now she's doing something she once would have considered unthinkable - arguing that gays don't have the legal right to adopt children. Wheeler is coming to grips with the fact that she's become an outcast for taking this step in a custody fight for her child. But she says that isn't what her fight is about: "It's about motherly rights."

Wheeler, 36, and her partner, Missy, decided to start a family together and share the Wheeler last name. In 2000, Sara Wheeler gave birth to a son, Gavin, through artificial insemination. Two years later, they decided Missy Wheeler should adopt the child and legally become his second parent. Georgia law doesn't specifically say whether gay parents can adopt a child, so the decision was up to a judge in the Atlanta area's DeKalb County. After an adoption investigator determined that both partners wanted it, the judge cleared the request.

The couple's relationship later soured. Missy Wheeler wouldn't comment for this story, but her attorney, Nora Bushfield, said Sara became involved with someone else and wouldn't let Missy and Gavin see each other. Sara Wheeler acknowledged the other relationship, saying "regardless of my action, it doesn't make me a bad mother."

Sara and Missy Wheeler had split by July 2004, and Missy was fighting for joint custody of the boy. The two sides do agree about one thing: The case is about a mother's rights. "Everybody seems to forget we're not talking about lesbian rights," Missy Wheeler's attorney says. "We're talking about a child who's been bonded with a mother."

Sara Wheeler made the legal argument that, since nothing in Georgia law specifically allowed gay adoption, the adoption should be tossed out. Her first lawyers warned her the case could set gay rights back a century. She hired a new attorney and asked the DeKalb County court to toss the adoption that she had previously pushed for, claiming it should never have been approved because it runs afoul of state law.

News of the tactic whipped up Atlanta's gay community, one of the largest in the South. Lambda Legal, a gay rights group, made a legal filing with the Georgia Supreme Court supporting Missy Wheeler. "There's something about this case that's just tragic," said Greg Nevins, a lawyer for the group. Laura Douglas-Brown, editor of Southern Voice, the city's main gay newspaper, penned a column accusing Sara Wheeler of "self-hating." "We owe it to each other not to lash out in ways that damage the entire gay community," she wrote. "Your own family may be destroyed, but don't destroy ours, too."

Sara said she felt like she had no choice. "I'm not doing anything else a mother wouldn't do to fight for her son," she said. "Some people may think it's the unthinkable, but if they were put in my shoes, they'd do the same thing." It didn't go so well. Her lawsuit seeking to throw out the adoption was rejected by the DeKalb County judge and then the state Court of Appeals. Then the Georgia Supreme Court, in a 4-3 vote in February, declined to hear the case. Only months earlier the court had upheld the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage, which Georgia voters overwhelmingly approved in 2004. Justice George H. Carley, who voted with the minority in the gay adoption case, declared he was "at a loss to comprehend" why the court refused to consider a case of such "great concern, gravity and public importance."

Sara Wheeler is asking the state Supreme Court to reconsider her case. Such a request rarely succeeds, but the narrow vote gives her hope that one justice might be swayed. "There's nothing that states this is an acceptable adoption," she said. "If Georgia wants to allow it, it needs to make proper laws." As the legal motions flew back and forth, the two women established a workable routine. The 7-year-old boy goes to Missy Wheeler's place every other weekend and on Tuesday nights. The rest of the time Sara Wheeler ferries him to karate practice, plays tag with him outside her apartment and takes him out for pizza every Friday.

The case has taken a toll on Sara. Aside from a few gay friends, she has turned away from the gay community. She no longer dates, and doesn't go to gay clubs or events any more. She said she is rethinking whether she is still a lesbian or whether she should abandon dating for good. "I just don't feel comfortable in that scene," she says. "I'm just trying to figure it all out." She knows she's seen as a betrayer; but in a sense, she feels she was the one betrayed. "Before I'm anything - gay or lesbian - I'm a mother," she says. "And the most important thing is to make sure my son has a relationship with his biological mother."



Muslim GPs fail to respect the confidentiality of Muslim women patients, Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, has claimed. Ms Hewitt, who represents a constituency in Leicester with a large ethnic minority community, said: "I have had Muslim women give me chapter and verse on very distressing breaches of confidentiality by Muslim GPs. "Some women patients feel they cannot trust their own GP. If they talk to him about a very difficult situation concerning domestic violence or sexual health problems they fear that he will share that with other members of the community." Ms Hewitt had touched on the issue earlier in a speech to the Fabian Society but elaborated her concerns in an interview in Pulse.

A report published last year by the Muslim Women's Network lends some support to Ms Hewitt's charges. It said: "Women did not trust professionals from within their own communities to be always bound by professional rules of confidentiality." The report is based on conversations with Muslim women throughout the country.

But Asian GPs reacted strongly to Ms Hewitt's remarks. Dr Vijoy Singh, chair of Leicestershire and Rutland Local Medical Committee, which covers Ms Hewitt's constituency, said: "No GP would break confidentiality because if they break it, they are liable to be sued. She's out of touch." Prakash Chandra, Local Medical Committee chairman in Newham, which has many Muslim residents, told Pulse: "It surprises me that Patricia Hewitt would make such a statement. This is not a problem I have come across."

A spokeswoman for the General Medical Council (GMC), which investigates complaints against doctors, said: "The GMC is aware that some groups of patients may have added concerns about the confidentiality of their personal information." In the past year, she said, 11 doctors had been referred to a fitness to practise hearing for allegations involving the intentional disclosure of patient information. A spokeswoman for the British Medical Association (BMA) said: "Breaching confidentiality is extremely serious and any doctor who does must be prepared to justify their actions to the General Medical Council."

Jo Haynes, editor of Pulse, said: "These are serious accusations. You would hope Patricia Hewitt has some firm evidence to back up her decision to single out Muslim doctors in this way." Ms Hewitt said: "This is not a direct accusation against Muslim GPs - it is a call for sensitivity from all parts of the health service."

Haleh Afshar, professor of politics and women's studies at York University and chair-woman of the Muslim Women's Network, said she believed that Ms Hewitt had been commenting on issues raised in its own report. "We said that this is a concern that is shared by all women, but the difficulty for Muslim women is that sometimes they don't have the option of going to a GP outside their community." Dr Reefat Drabu, a GP in Southampton, said that she found the accusations offensive. "I'm a Muslim doctor" she said. "Confidentiality is paramount not just for the GP, but for the whole practice. To breach confidentiality in my practice is a sackable offence."


Rebranding the Enemy

Post lifted from American Thinker

The Left has developed no end of tricks to manipulate debates without the trouble of making a case or putting together an argument. Many of them have been in wide use for decades without ever being identified, much less counteracted. One example widely seen in recent weeks is a technique closely related to what the PR industry calls "rebranding": taking a group that is loathed for any number of good reasons - terrorists, criminals, druggies, what have you - and subtly reworking their image over time to present them instead as victims.

One group that benefited from this style of makeover was the American criminal class. During the 1950s, research carried out by criminologists and psychologists was misinterpreted by the liberal elite to mean that criminals were not responsible for their actions, that they had been coerced into violating the law by forces beyond their control, such as poverty, lack of education, mental disorders and so on. "It's not their fault, society is to blame", became the watchword of the day. Newspaper editorials, films, and television programs repeated the concept until, by the end of the decade, it had became the consensus view. It found policy expression through such programs as decriminalization of minor offenses, sentence reduction, probation rather than prison, and a general vilification of the police. In the end, it acted as a major driver of the great crime wave of the 60s, one of the worst disasters this country ever endured, and one still not widely understood.

The same technique has been utilized to reform the reputations of drug addicts, assorted sexual deviants, the Sandinistas, the Palestinians, and other enemies of civilization. As a rule of thumb, if the group is vulnerable to counteraction by the status quo, they become victims. If, on the other hand, they can stand on their own in open defiance, like Castro or the Viet Cong, they're treated as heroes.

Recent days have seen this process applied to the Jihadis. The first example involves Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Al Qaeda's infamous KSM. You don't have to believe the account contained in his confession claiming responsibility for every disaster since the Hindenburg to be aware that KSM is quite a vile piece of work, who at this moment is exactly where he ought to be. It's a little difficult imagining anyone thinking otherwise.

That is, if you hadn't considered Human Rights Watch. No sooner had KSM's hearing taken place than Kenneth Roth, the organization's executive director, questioned its legality and whether the confession was obtained by torture.
"We won't know that unless there is an independent hearing," he said. "We need to know if this purported confession would be enough to convict him at a fair trial or would it have to be suppressed as the fruit of torture?"
This was followed in short order by comments from senators Carl Levin and Lindsey Graham -- who were present at the hearing -- calling for an investigation into KSM's treatment at the hands of U.S. forces, thus falling in with the Al-Qaeda's rule 18: always claim you were tortured. Levin and Graham (who I thought was Republican) displayed considerable sympathy for KSM in their statement:
"...he views himself as a warrior, motivated by religious teachings, and seeks his place in history."
None of these exercises is complete without the participation of an academic, preferably a full professor. Anthony D'Amato of Northwestern University assured that we were not disappointed. In a short opinion piece D'Amato compared the KSM hearing to the Stalinist show trials of the 1930s, even though the proceeding was not a trial and was not open to public view.

D'Amato was particularly upset over the confession, which, like many, he found unlikely. But instead of attributing it to good tradecraft (KSM taking credit - if that's the word I'm groping for - for many attacks might conceivably take the heat off of vulnerable Jihadi networks), D'Amato compared it to the bizarre confessions of Stalin's victims. The problem with this interpretation is that with few exceptions (the Kirov assassination, for instance) most of the purge trial "conspiracies" never took place. I don't mean to batter D'Amato unduly - though he doesn't seem to know very much about the purges - but I hope he does believe that 9/11, the Khobar Towers, and the embassy attacks actually happened. One James Fetzer is enough.

KSM was not alone. Taha Yassin Ramadan, Saddam Hussein's vice-president who was hanged in Baghdad last week for complicity in crimes against the people of Iraq, underwent much the same treatment. It's difficult to imagine an individual better deserving of Ramadan's fate. But here we have the International Center for Transitional Justice, and Human Rights Watch (once again) declaring
"the evidence against him was insufficient for the death penalty."
The UN also wieghed in, with human rights chief Louise Arbour contending that the trial "failed to meet the standards of due process."

What's happening in these trials is unprecedented. They mark the first time that the victims, rather than a third party or international tribunal, have sat in judgment on their tormentors. If any similar proceeding deserves disdain, it's the Hague Tribunal, which spent years on the preliminaries of Sloboban Milosevic's trial before he finally died of a heart attack. In Iraq they know the virtue of keeping things humming. While the Iraqi effort may have its failings - as any pioneering attempt will - the regime trials will be studied for generations. And we can be sure that tyrants across the wide world are having sleepless nights every time the trap falls open in Baghdad.

A little closer to home, we find yet another aspect of the same routine. A high school in Colchester, Connecticut has, in the kind of role-playing game that delights modern educators, sent teenage girls walking around wearing burqas. They got precisely the kind of response - catcalls and insults - that you'd expect from a place packed with teenage boys. But the teachers and administration were no less than aghast:
"It's unacceptable," Superintendent Karen Loiselle said. "It's imperative students who are victims of those comments report them immediately and it will be taken very seriously. In this case, it has opened an important conversation."
These role-playing games, introduced in the 60s by a third-grade teacher named Jane Elliot,have never achieved anything apart from instigating the kind of behavior they were supposed to suppress. This exercise is no exception. But it's distinctly possible it wasn't meant to be. It happens that the entire affair was arranged by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Once that's understood, it begins to become clear why American girls were sent around wearing the major contemporary symbol for human degradation. It wasn't to "start a conversation", or to bridge gaps between ethnic groups. It was a con game to kick off a confrontation, in which Muslims - and not just any Muslims, but those of the most reactionary type - could be portrayed as victims. And the teachers and administrators of Colchester, as unworldly and ignorant as almost all such, fell right into it.

Is there anything involving Muslims that the media won't attempt to exploit? Well, now that you mention it... Between March 4 and 7 an event took place in St. Petersburg, Florida that may well rank as one of the most important of 2007. The Secular Islamic Summit was the first international gathering of moderate Muslims on record, featuring speakers Ibn Warraq,Irshad Manji, and Wafa Sultan, among many others, calling for an Islamic reformation based on principles of tolerance, separation of church and state, and individual rights. It's a brave effort, one deserving of all support - and one that went virtually unmentioned in the American media.

Similarly, in late March the moderate American Islamic Forum for Democracy offered to pay the legal costs of bystanders threatened with lawsuits by the imams taken off the airliner in Minneapolis last November. The imams have threatened to sue a number of passengers who may (or may not) have reported their activities. It's difficult to see this as anything other than intimidation, and unfortunately, it's the exact sort of thing many judges enjoy waxing Solomonic about. In that context, the Islamic Forum's offer comes as a breath of fresh air.

But how widely was it reported? Not at all. A single story in the Washington Times , and that was about it.

Because, of course, there are no victims involved. The legacy media, with its customary inability to adequately address issues of complexity, has come up with a working template: that Muslims are victims and common Americans, whether in government or out, are the victimizers. Nothing about Muslims as citizens, nothing about Muslims as compatriots, nothing about Muslims as allies need ever see print or airtime in their universe.

The danger of this should be obvious. The Jihadis are working night and day to strike at this country, and eventually they will succeed. When the blow falls, the entire newsprint facade of "Muslim as victim" will be blown to pieces, a collateral casualty of Jihadi efforts. The attempt to rebrand the likes of KSM and Ramadan will fall apart. Leaving what in its place?

Leaving absolutely nothing, certainly no image of Muslims as individuals worthy of respect. We may then see the backlash against Muslims that we've avoided for so long. As has happened all too often, the media will have been instrumental in creating the very situation it claimed to be trying to prevent.

It's all unnecessary. It is not, and has never been, the media's place to carry out psychological warfare campaigns against its own audience, no matter how lofty the purpose. Simply reporting the news is more than enough. And "news" includes events such as the Secular Islamic Summit and the admirable gesture of the American Islamic Forum. With the time that's left over, they can delve into the true nature of KSM and Ramadan, not to mention organizations like CAIR. And with that information on hand, Americans can probably be depended on to draw the proper conclusions on their own.


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.


29 March, 2007


With the current breastbeating about slavery in Britain (no-one would guess that it was actually Britain that ENDED slavery), it seems important to get clear just what was actually happening before 1807. I think that the following extract from The Encyclopedia Britannica would be a total surprise to 99.9% of Brits:

Black slaves exported from Africa were widely traded throughout the Islamic world. Approximately 18,000,000 Africans were delivered into the Islamic trans-Saharan and Indian Ocean slave trades between 650 and 1905.

In the second half of the 15th century Europeans began to trade along the west coast of Africa, and by 1867 between 7,000,000 and 10,000,000 Africans had been shipped as slaves to the New World.

Although some areas of Africa were depleted by slave raiding, on balance the African population grew after the establishment of the transatlantic slave trade because of new food crops introduced from the New World, particularly manioc, corn (maize), and possibly peanuts (groundnuts).

The relationship between African and New World slavery was highly complementary. African slave owners demanded primarily women and children for labour and lineage incorporation and tended to kill males because they were troublesome and likely to flee. The transatlantic trade, on the other hand, demanded primarily adult males for labour and thus saved from certain death many adult males who otherwise would have been slaughtered outright by their African captors

I guess I am naive but is there not some cause for THANKS somewhere in there?


Of all the stories I have covered about what is now called the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, few have been more remarkable than the disaster that has just befallen David Dobbin, a 43-year-old Cheshire farmer, who derived his entire livelihood from a large dairy herd. His 567 cows, including pedigree Ayrshires and Holsteins, had won prizes, and were worth upwards of 500,000 pounds.

In 2005 Cheshire trading standards officials, acting for Defra (one hopes Cheshire's taxpayers do not mind officials whose salaries they pay acting for a government department) began a long series of visits, to inspect the documentation required for Mr Dobbin's cattle under EC rules. The more they attempted to check the animals' eight-digit ear tags against their EC "cattle passports", the more they claimed to have found "irregularities", although they failed to explain how many or what these were.

Last November, on Defra's instructions, the officials seized all Mr Dobbin's passports, making it illegal for him to move animals off his farm and all but wiping out his income. Last month, serving him with a "notice to identify", they removed his herd to another farm, stating that, under EC regulation 494/98, it was their intention to destroy all 567 animals.

Dating back to the BSE panic, this diktat says that "if the keeper of an animal cannot prove its identification in two working days, it shall be destroyed without delay" and "without compensation". These powers, as I noted when the regulation was issued in 1998, were unprecedented. Nevertheless the regulation permits officials to destroy only animals that cannot be identified. Defra has never claimed that the paperwork for most of Mr Dobbin's cows was not in order, only that the officials had found "what they believed to be an unacceptable level of non-compliance with the regulations", and that this "could have serious implications for the protection of the human food chain".

Less than an hour before slaughter was due to begin, Mr Dobbin's combative Liverpool lawyer, David Kirwan, got a High Court injunction, giving the cows a stay of execution. He also won leave from Mr Justice Goldring for judicial review, on the grounds that Defra was acting beyond its powers. But this month, as the injunction expired, Defra insisted that, unless Mr Dobbin could prove the identification of every one of his animals, they must still be destroyed. Since all his passports, the most obvious means of identification, had been confiscated, this was impossible.

Defra told the court that Mr Dobbin would instead have to provide DNA identification for each animal, within two days. This would have been technically impossible, even if Defra had not moved the cows elsewhere and refused him access. The need to proceed with the slaughter, Defra argued, was urgent, because it had no resources to look after the cattle properly, causing severe "animal welfare" problems. The judge felt he had little option but to give the go-ahead, and on March 8 and 9 the cows were destroyed.

All Mr Dobbin can now hope for is that the judicial review may confirm that Defra acted outside the law. The officials agreed in court that they had never used these powers on anything like such a scale before. It has not been claimed that Mr Dobbin's animals posed any health risk (BSE this year is down to a single case). His only alleged offence was "non-compliance" with complex bureaucratic procedures, to an extent which Defra still cannot specify. For this he has seen his livelihood go up in smoke, without a penny in compensation.


Changing a bulb is risky at the BBC

With a few simple precautions, thousands manage it every day. Yet BBC staff have been stopped from replacing lightbulbs because of concerns for their health and safety. Instead, the corporation is paying up to 10 pounds for each replacement bulb to be fitted.

The situation came to light when Louise Wordsworth, a learning project manager with the BBC, complained. "I called up to ask for a new lightbulb for my desk lamp and was told that this would cost 10 pounds," she wrote in a letter to Ariel, the corporation's magazine. "On telling them I'd buy and replace the bulb myself (bought for the bargain price of 1 pound for two bulbs) I was told that it was against health and safety regulations. So guess how many BBC colleagues it finally took to change a lightbulb (risking life and limb to do so)?"

A BBC spokesman confirmed that there had been a number of complaints, but said that each request was judged on its merits to save staff time.

As for Ms Wordsworth's unanswered question, three years ago it was calculated how many people it takes to change a BBC lightbulb. The member of staff left in the dark would need to find a clerk to get a reference number so that the repair could be paid for, then report the fault to a helpline. An electrician would ask the store manager for the part and install the bulb, making a total of five people.


The Road to serfdom: How a civilization collapses

In Israel, as in the rest of the free world, we are witnessing the death by a thousand cuts of free thought. Last month, two students at Cambridge University's Clare College became victims of this state of affairs. The students dedicated an edition of their satire magazine to the one year anniversary of the global Muslim riots which followed the publication of caricatures of Mohammed in the Danish Jyllands Posten newspaper. As the students recalled, those riots led to the deaths of more than a hundred people.

Although the British media refused to republish the caricatures, British Muslims held terrifying protests throughout the country where they called from the destruction of Britain, the US, Denmark and Israel and for the murder of all who refuse to accept the global domination of Islam.

In their magazine, the students published some of the caricatures and mocked the Muslims for their hypocrisy in accusing British society of racial prejudice while calling for its violent destruction. The Muslim reaction was apparently swift. Fearing for their lives, the students were forced into hiding. But the Muslims were not alone in their anger. Clare College set up a special disciplinary court to consider action against the students. And the Cambridgeshire police opened a criminal investigation against them in late February.

The persecution of these students provides a case study of the two-pronged offensive being carried out today against Western culture. First there are the jihadists, who call for our destruction. Then there are the leftist intellectuals and public figures who defend radical Islamists and work to silence those who criticize them by criminalizing speech and condemning free thinkers as racists. The direct consequence of this two-pronged offensive is the repression of free thought.

Four years ago, US President George W. Bush called the invasion of Iraq "Operation Iraqi Freedom." The intention was clear. The purpose of the war was not merely to bring down Saddam Hussein's murderous, terror-supporting regime. It was to bring about the defeat of the vile world view that supported the regime and to replace that view with the values of freedom, tolerance and democracy. Four years on, US forces continue to their heroic fight to bring order and security to that violent land. But the purpose of their efforts is no longer clear. The US no longer pushes the Iraqis or the greater Arab world to abandon jihad in favor of freedom.

Earlier this month, columnist Joel Mowbray gave evidence of the Bush administration's abandonment of the war of ideas in a Wall Street Journal expose on the US taxpayer financed Arabic language television network Al-Hurra. The US launched Al Hurra in February 2004 to compete with jihadist television networks like Al Jazeerah. Its stated aim was to present a liberal, pro-democracy and pro-human rights voice to the Arab world. Yet, as Mowbray reported, since former CNN producer Larry Register was appointed to lead the network last November, that aim fell by the wayside.

In December the network began allowing itself used as a platform by arch terrorists like Hizbullah commander Hassan Nasrallah and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. Last month, when the Israeli Islamic movement began attacking Israel for conducting an archaeological dig by the Al Aksa mosque, Al-Hurra's coverage of the story was more extreme than Al Jazeerah's. Palestinian Authority mufti Ikremah Sabri was brought on live and accused Israel of throwing rocks and bombs into the mosque and of denying medical care to those it had supposedly wounded. Al-Hurra has also hosted an al Qaida terrorist who rejoiced in the Sept. 11 attacks on America.

As is the case in Britain, the Bush administration's decision to largely abandon the ideological battlefield is the result of an uncompromising and unrelenting ideological and political assault against the voices that justify the war against the global jihad generally, and against the hawks in the Bush administration specifically.

Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and John Bolton -- and arguably Scooter Libby -- were all forced from their positions in the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House after coming under unrelenting attack by the Left which all but accused these men of treason for their vigilant support of the war against Islamic totalitarianism. A central component of the onslaught against them was the repeated claim that their support for Israel is what brought these men to delude America into believing that the global jihad is a threat to US national security. One of the central players in this concerted attack has been the billionaire George Soros. Soros is an anti-Zionist Jew with a troubling past. Specifically, by his own admission in interviews with 60 Minutes in 1998 and PBS in 1993, Soros collaborated with the Nazis in seizing Jewish property in Budapest in 1944.

Author Serge Trifkovic, who is currently researching a biography of Soros tells of a Holocaust survivor in Hungary who claims that the reason Soros was allowed to remain free was "the boy's special knowledge of the Jewish community and its attempts to protect its property from confiscation." Since 2003, Soros has donated more than $100 million to radical left wing groups and to the political campaigns of far-left anti-war Democratic candidates in the US. His money has made him one of the most influential forces in the Democratic Party.

After Hamas won the Palestinian election last January, Soros turned his guns against Israel. Last October he announced his intention to work with left wing American Jewish groups such as Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, American Friends of Peace Now, and the Israel Policy Forum to form an effectively anti-Israel lobbying group that will compete with the pro-Israel American-Israel Public Action Committee. Soros accuses AIPAC of making common cause with the war hawks and so harming US and Israeli national security.

This week Soros laid out his anti-Israel views in the New York Review of Books. In a longwinded screed entitled, "On Israel, American and AIPAC," Soros presents an incoherent hodge-podge of sloppy logic and contradictory statements. On the one hand, he acknowledges that Israel's withdrawal from Gaza radicalized the Palestinians and brought Hamas to power. On the other hand, he insists that further Israeli withdrawals will cause the Palestinians to moderate. While he acknowledges that Hamas is a terror group, he insists that the US must recognize it and force Israel to recognize it and that AIPAC is responsible for neither recognizing Hamas as a legitimate political force in the region.

Soros claims to want peace for Israel. Yet he demands that the US and Israel embrace the Saudi plan which calls for Israel's effective destruction through a forced Israeli withdrawal from Judea, Jerusalem, Samaria and the Golan Heights and the demographic destruction of the Jewish state through unimpeded immigration of 4-5 million foreign-born Arabs. In effect, Soros's arguments make clear that protestations aside, the advancement of human rights and peace cannot possibly be his true goals. Rather, what seems to interest him most is the erosion of the US-Israel alliance. A US abandonment of Israel is seen as a necessary component of an overall strategy for causing the US to cease its fight against the global jihad.

In her visit here in Jerusalem next week Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to pressure the Olmert-Livni-Peretz government to continue diplomatic contacts with the Hamas-Fatah terror government through PA Chairman and Fatah commander Mahmoud Abbas. In light of the administration's weakening stand on Hamas, it is clear that Soros's views have taken hold in ever-widening policy circles in Washington.

In advancing their anti-Israel views, Soros and his allies, (most recently, New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof), invoke the work of radical leftist Israeli organizations like the Geneva Initiative, B'tselem and Peace Now. Like Soros, these organizations claim to act for the advancement of peace and human rights. And like Soros, these organizations effectively cooperate with pro-jihadist groups in eroding Israel's ability to defend its rights as a Jewish democracy.

The public storm that ensued this week after Jews in Hebron took control of a building they recently purchased in the city was a clear example of this leftist-jihadist collusion. In demanding that the IDF move immediately to eject the Jews from the building they had bought, Peace Now and B'tzelem ignored human rights and openly advocated the abrogation of the human rights to Israeli Jews to purchase and hold property. In so doing, they lent their support to the racist jihadist view that Jews must be barred from stepping foot in so-called Arab areas.

B'tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that whether the Jews purchased the building or not was immaterial. In her words, "Our opposition in principle is that these settlements should be evacuated anyway and that there shouldn't be these pockets in Hebron." She added that "other than watching and making sure that [the sale] was done in a legal way, the IDF has the obligation to make sure that settlers don't take over more areas."

In so arguing, Michaeli gave effective Jewish Israeli support to even more outrageous statements by Arab Israeli parliamentarians. As she claimed that the IDF's job is to fight Jews, Arab MKs Ibrahim Sarsour and Muhammad Barakei participated the PA's "Jerusalem First" conference in Ramallah. Sarsour called for "Muslims and Arabs" to "liberate Jerusalem." Sarsour declared, "Just as the Muslims once liberated Jerusalem from the Crusaders, so must we today believe that we can liberate Jerusalem. It is not an impossible dream."

Barakei accused Israel of trying to "empty Jerusalem of its Palestinian inhabitants." Calling Jerusalem a "national issue, not just a religious issue," he called on Palestinians to act immediately to "reclaim the city."

As for Hebron, on Tuesday MK Taleb a-Sanaa called for an international boycott of Israel in response to the Jewish purchase and takeover of the building.

The Arab MKs spoke against the backdrop of Israel's first Arab cabinet minister Raleb Majdlah's refusal to sing the national anthem and the publication of a University of Haifa poll showing that 76 percent of Arab Israelis believe that Zionism of a form of racism and that 28 percent of Arab Israelis deny the Holocaust. Needless to say, no criminal investigations into possible treason charges have been opened against the Arab politicians.

A clear line connects the Cambridge students, the Americans in Iraq, and the situation in Israel. The leftist-Islamist front is eroding the free world's sense of justice. Rather than assert our liberal, democratic values and defend our freedoms, fearing leftist condemnation, politicians and opinion shapers have permitted themselves to become shackled to ideologies that negate everything the free world stands for.



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.


28 March, 2007

"Homosexuality Is Not Hardwired," Concludes Head of The Human Genome Project

Francis S. Collins, one of the world's leading scientists who works at the cutting edge of DNA research, concluded that "there is an inescapable component of heritability to many human behavioral traits." However, he adds, "for virtually none of them, is heredity ever close to predictive."

In reviewing the heritability (i.e., influence of genetic factors) on personality traits, Dr. Collins referenced the research of Bochard and McGue for the estimated percentage of these traits that can be ascribed to heredity. The heritability estimates for personality traits were varied: General Cognitive Ability (50%), Extroversion (54%), Agreeableness (42%), Conscientiousness (49%), Neuroticism (48%), Openness (57%), Aggression (38%) and Traditionalism (54%).

Such estimates of heritability are based upon unbiased, careful analyses of studies conducted with identical twins. The studies lead to the conclusion that heredity is important in many of these personality traits. It is important however, to note that even in such studies with identical twins, that heritability is not to be confused as inevitability. As Dr. Collins would agree, environment can influence gene expression, and free will determines the response to whatever predispositions might be present.

Dr. Collins succinctly reviewed the research on homosexuality and offers the following: "An area of particularly strong public interest is the genetic basis of homosexuality. Evidence from twin studies does in fact support the conclusion that heritable factors play a role in male homosexuality. However, the likelihood that the identical twin of a homosexual male will also be gay is about 20% (compared with 2-4 percent of males in the general population), indicating that sexual orientation is genetically influenced but not hardwired by DNA, and that whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations [emphasis added]." The heritability estimates for homosexuality is substantially lower than General Cognitive Ability, Extroversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, Openness, Aggression and Traditionalism!

Dr. Collins noted that environment--particularly childhood experiences--as well as the role of free will and choice affect us all in profound ways. As researchers discover increasing levels of molecular detail about inherited factors that underlie our personalities, it's critical that such data be used to illuminate the issues, not provide support to ideologues. Citing such dangers, Dr. Collins referred to the book written by activist Dean Hamer, who declared the discovery of the "God gene" (this same author also is associated with "discovering the gay gene"). Dr. Collins noted that the "evidence" in Hamer's book "grabbed headlines," but was "wildly overstated."

A reviewer in Scientific American suggested that Hamer's book on the "God gene" should have been titled, "A Gene That Accounts for Less than One Percent of the Variance Found in Scores on Psychological Questionnaires Designed to Measure a Factor Called Self-Transcendence, Which Can Signify Everything from Belonging to the Green Party to Believing in ESP, According to One Unpublished, Unreplicated Study."

Unfortunately, much of the research in areas such as homosexuality has been misrepresented; not only in the media, but also by the scientists themselves through a tendency to overestimate the quantitative contribution of their findings. Regarding the contributions of genetics to areas such as homosexuality, Dr. Collins concluded, "Yes, we have all been dealt a particular set of cards, and the cards will eventually be revealed. But how we play the hand is up to us."


Germany's Top News Anchorwoman Leads "Anti-Feminist" Revolution

Admitted to regretting her three divorces, and condemned abortion

A leading German TV-moderator and anchorwoman of the country's top newscast caused an uproar last year when she admitted to regretting her three divorces, and condemned abortion, Die-Tagespost reported. Eva Herman published her account of the fatal flaws in a career-oriented lifestyle in a bestselling book entitled "The Eva-Principle: Towards a New Femininity", released last year. Now she's published a second book, this one containing letters from women supporting her rejection of feminist self-fulfillment propaganda, reported The Spiegal news magazine.

Her sequel, Dear Eva Herman, captures the responses of women who welcomed the admission that professional success had not compensated for the loss of genuine family life. "The fact you've been criticized as being a traitor towards women shows just what sort of femi-fascism we have to live under nowadays," one woman wrote.

In The Eva-Principle, Herman tore open the issue of abortion as a violation of the woman, blaming pro-abortion laws for minimizing the trauma of abortion as nothing worse than going to the dentist. Her book was founded on a rejection of the feminist goals of emancipation, career success and self-fulfillment, replacing them instead with the "radical" goals of motherhood, home-maker and marriage-partner. "Let's just say it loud," Herman wrote. "We women have overburdened ourselves -- we allowed ourselves to be too easily seduced by career opportunities."

Herman's books are part of a new wave of anti-feminism in Germany, The Speigel reported, with growing numbers of professional women rejecting the feminist drive for career success in favor of a return to family life and motherhood. Herman encouraged women to leave professional work environments for the "colorful world of children" and discover their "destiny of nurturing the home environment."

Response to her revelatory work was extreme, with feminists in outrage over the perceived betrayal of one of their own. Others found Herman's statements a relief. With the lowest birthrate in Europe at just 1.3 children per woman, the country's reproductive crisis lends weight to the arguments of the "new feminism"-- despite a massive government-funded initiative to encourage women to have more children, Germany's birthrate has failed to improve significantly.


When government tunes in

The First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech has complex implications, but it clearly means two things: The government cannot tell you what to say, and it cannot tell you what not to say. That is your own business, and if you conduct it in a way the government dislikes, the government can take a flying leap.

Unless by "government" you mean the Federal Communications Commission. It operates on the assumption that in its special realm, the First Amendment is a nonbinding resolution. So while Potomac paper-pushers would never dream of issuing orders to newspapers, book publishers, filmmakers or bloggers, they feel complete freedom to tell TV networks and radio stations what to do. And the broadcasters see little choice but to comply.

An example of what happens when they don't comply came in a recent dispute between the agency and Univision, the giant Spanish-language network. Federal law requires TV networks to air at least three hours of educational programming aimed at children every week. Univision put on soap operas it claimed were of educational value to kids. But the FCC disagreed and fined the network $24 million for failing to carry out its government-imposed duties.

This is just part of the agency's plan to tighten its control of what you watch. Last year, it mounted a crackdown on indecency that raised the interesting philosophical question of how the F-word can morph from indecent to not indecent. The FCC, you see, says F-words are not all alike. If Tom Hanks uses the term in "Saving Private Ryan," it's OK, but if Cher uses it on an awards telecast it's not.

In all this, the agency has the support of Congress, which last year passed legislation raising the maximum fine for violations from $32,500 to $325,000. The point of this sort of enforcement is to protect children and, in the words of President Bush, "help strengthen families." But parents who want to shield their kids from bad language on TV already have ample means to do so -- via channel blocking and V-chips that can be used to filter out programs with content they regard as inappropriate. The FCC says these methods are ineffective because parents don't use them. More likely, parents don't bother because they don't think the problem is serious enough to justify the effort to shield kids from words they've already heard on YouTube. To insert the federal government is not a way to strengthen the authority of parents but to circumvent it.

You might think a Democratic Congress would be less inclined to brook federal interference with free expression, but dream on. While Republicans like to crack down on "bad" programming, Democrats like to demand "good" programming. When the Univision fine was announced, it won applause from Rep. Edward Markey, Massachusetts Democrat, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet. In this regulatory environment, freedom is not a factor: Anything not forbidden is compulsory.

The idea that we need the FCC to assure educational opportunities for children is nonsense on stilts. In the first place, there are plenty of channels, from PBS to the Discovery Channel, that offer nothing but educational programming. If parents don't like what Univision offers, they have plenty of alternatives. In the second place, any parents truly interested in exposing their children to intellectual stimulation are more likely to shut the TV off than turn it on.

Even if more educational programming would be a good thing, what business is that of the government? More G-rated films would be a good thing, too, but we don't force movie studios to produce them. That goes back to the First Amendment, which puts Hollywood beyond the reach of official busybodies. Movie studios make what they choose, and moviegoers decide whether they or their kids will see them: No government required.

The Supreme Court long ago sanctioned regulation of speech on radio and TV on the grounds that broadcast frequencies are scarce and not accessible to all. But with the advent of cable and satellite transmission, which is how nearly 90 percent of Americans get their TV shows, the scarcity argument collapses. The number of potential channels is now unlimited.

Today, most viewers no longer distinguish between cable and broadcast programs. So having different rules for each makes about as much sense as having different regulations for odd- and even-numbered channels. It's high time broadcasters were placed under America's original rule on how the government should regulate free expression: Don't.



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.


27 March, 2007

Hero fireman faces official punishment for risking his life in a rescue

This really IS the Unhinged Kingdom

A fireman is facing disciplinary action after plunging into a river to rescue a drowning woman. Tam Brown, 42, is the subject of an internal investigation by Tayside Fire and Rescue because he breached safety rules during the rescue in the River Tay in Perth. He spent eight minutes in the cold water and at one stage feared that he would be swept to his death. But after dragging the 20-year-old woman to safety he was told by his employer that he had acted improperly by risking his life.

Mr Brown, who has 15 years' experience as a fireman, was hailed as a hero by the young woman's family but Tayside Fire and Rescue said that he had broken the brigade's "standing instructions" on safety procedures.

He said yesterday: "I was expected to watch that young girl die in front of me. As a father and a caring human being, I couldn't live with myself if I'd had to do that."

The woman, who has not been identified, is believed to have jumped into the river on March 6 as "a cry for help". A member of the public called 999 and she was thrown a rope, but she was in danger of being sucked under by the current.

Many drowning victims die before the emergency services arrive. Mr Brown said: "We had seconds to act. The girl was losing consciousness. We had one harness, so I put that on and went down 20ft on a safety line, grabbed her and held her out of the water. My colleagues tried to pull us towards steps, but the current was so bad and the rope was pulled so hard it snapped. "My own life hung in the balance as I swam for the steps with her in my arms. But we got there and were pulled out. I was in the water for eight minutes and it was heart-stoppingly cold, but we saved her."

The brigade's rules state: "Personnel should not enter the water." The fire crew should instead have tried to haul the woman out using poles and ropes. Stephen Hunter, chief fire officer of Tayside Fire and Rescue, admitted that fire engines in Perth were not equipped with the correct poles and ropes, but insisted that Mr Brown had broken the rules. He said: "Firefighter safety is of paramount importance to us. Although our duties include rescues from flooding, there is no statutory obligation to carry out rescues from moving water. "We know they broke procedure because we know he went into the water. We are investigating exactly what happened, and once that is concluded we will consider what action is necessary. That could include disciplinary action."

Steve Hill, chairman of the Perth branch of the Fire Brigades Union, said: "Not one senior officer has congratulated Tam or the other officers who attended that night. They should be elated they saved a life but are traumatised that they face disiplinary action instead." He added: "Contradicting an order can lead to dismissal. If Tam hadn't gone in, the public might have tried to save her and we could have ended up with several dead."


UK Regulations Barring Religious Schools from Teaching Against Homosexuality Approved

Sexual Orientation Regulations Pass House of Lords

The UK's Sexual Orientation Regulations, that will make it illegal for Christian schools, services and businesses to operate according to their religious principles, passed its last hurdle last night in a vote in the House of Lords. A last minute attempt to defeat the legislation failed. A motion by Baroness O'Caithain that would have scrapped the Regulations on the grounds of anti-religious discrimination was voted down 168 votes to 122. The regulations will be implemented at the end of April.

During the brief debate, Baroness Detta O'Caithain said the SORs are seriously flawed and drew attention to the now notorious breaches of proper democratic procedure by the government who, she said, did not allow proper parliamentary scrutiny. The Peers were not allowed to change the wording of the law but only to vote yes or no. With the passage of the SOR's, she said, the state had decided that "a citizen's right to manifest sexual orientation is absolute, but the right to manifest religious belief is not."

Hundreds of Christians and others concerned for democratic freedom of religious expression attended a prayer rally outside the Houses of Parliament while the debate took place in the House of Lords. While they were given little time in Parliament or the Upper House, the SOR's have been the subject of months of debate in the media since the beginning of January when the Catholic Church, the Church of England, Evangelical, Muslim and Jewish groups warned they would spell the effective end of freedom of religious expression in Britain.

In early January, Cormac Cardinal Murphy O'Connor, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, made international headlines when he said that attempting to force Catholic adoption agencies to adopt children to homosexual couples would leave the Church no choice but to close the agencies. Others said that there was more at stake than only one group or social service, but that the democratic principle of freedom of religious expression was under direct threat. Since the January decision by Prime Minister Tony Blair, a government document was released indicating that the school curriculum would be included and faith-based schools would not be allowed to teach traditional social mores "as if they were objectively true."

While Cardinal Murphy O'Connor indicated that he still held out hopes that some form of accommodation could be found in the twenty-one month "adjustment period" granted churches, others were less sanguine about the government's good will. LifeSiteNews.com spoke to Fr. Timothy Finigan, a priest of the Archdiocese of Southwark and the founder of the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life who said, "I don't think it will be productive to negotiate with the government over this. Clearly the regulations are as they are and they have shown that they are not prepared to negotiate or make concessions. The offer of the adjustment period shows that."

While the exemption requested by the Church for the adoption agencies was turned down by Tony Blair, what they got with the government's offer of a delaying period, said Fr. Finigan, "was a kind of stay of execution. But there's nothing there for them. In the meantime, they still have to refer children to be adopted to homosexual couples." Militant gay activists, he said, will almost certainly now move on to the next phase of test legal cases against smaller Christian or Muslim institutions such as schools or boarding houses. "The one thing the government doesn't want to see right now is priests and ministers in prison. That means they are going to start with schools or businesses. They've been pushing hard in education for years," Fr. Finigan said.

Since 1944, Catholic schools in Britain have been partially subsidized by the government. Lord Pilkington of Oxenford said that inasmuch as the SOR's assert that individual "human rights" trumped the rights of voluntary societies, they challenge the democratic foundation of the state. "It is absolutely wrong for a democratic state to assert that the churches and their voluntary societies cannot follow their doctrine merely because the state pays the money. In this, as I say, they break 200 years of tradition." Lord Pilkington said.


Muslim moderate seeks police protection

One of Australia's most important Muslim leaders has sought police protection after criticising controversial cleric Sheikh Taj al-Din al-Hilali. Tom Zreika, president of the Lebanese Muslim Association - and Sheikh Hilali's employer - said he received non-stop phone threats yesterday after he released a document urging greater integration and for Muslims to "mend their ways".

The report, prepared for a national meeting of imams in Sydney this weekend, says some Muslims are "ruining it" for all and that Australians have "had enough" of Muslims. His report also recommends that imams become involved in community activities such as voluntary firefighting and surf lifesaving.

Mr Zreika said he was threatened recently after saying, "I can't tolerate this freak show", following recent remarks by Sheikh Hilali. But yesterday, after the contents of his paper were publicised, the threats, from Muslims, came non-stop. "They just say, 'Mate if you don't shut your mouth we are going to come and fix you up'," Mr Zreika said. "I know they are Muslims because they quote Muslim prayers."

In his paper, Mr Zreika, a barrister, says the vast majority of non-Muslims understood and empathised with Islamic issues in Australia, but a small group of Muslims were inciting anti-Islamic feelings. "Only when we mend our ways and we respect our fellow country people can we demand tolerance and forbearance." Among Mr Zreika's suggestions for the new board of imams, which will be responsible for accrediting prospective clerics, are that imams should be citizens or permanent residents and not have been members of suspicious groups. He says they must do everything possible to prevent radicalism or fanaticism.



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.


26 March, 2007

Why are SUVs so incorrect?

Comment from Britain

How did the 4x4 - that big-wheeled, boxy jeep beloved of `Chelsea mums' and footballers - become public enemy no.1 in the environmentalism debate? Listening to anti-4x4 campaigners, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this one breed of car is responsible for destroying the planet. It is widely expected that UK Chancellor Gordon Brown will announce in his Budget tomorrow that Vehicle Excise Duty for the 225,000 least fuel-efficient cars bought in Britain since last April - which includes most 4x4s and also sports cars - will be doubled, rising from 210 to 400 pounds a year. This falls short of what green anti-4x4 campaigners are demanding; they want road tax to be raised to somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 pounds for `the worst offending cars', especially 4x4s, which are described as `vile', `vulgar', and damaging both to the environment and to social cohesion.

The 4x4 has become the bˆte noire of the chattering classes. Pop into any dinner-party gathering in the leafiest of Britain's leafy suburbs and you are guaranteed to hear someone bemoaning these big vehicles as they pass around the pesto. There is more to this anti-4x4 fever than a desire to protect the environment or pedestrians from exhaust fumes. Rather it seems to be underpinned by a snobbery against the `wrong' kind of consumption, especially the kind indulged by apparently unsophisticated noveau riche types who garishly like to flaunt their wealth with their mock-Tudor homes, big hair and big cars.

When you think about it, the obsessive focus on 4x4s in the debate about cars and pollution is pretty crazy. These jeeps make up a tiny minority of the cars in action across Britain. There are an estimated 30million regularly-used vehicles in the UK, and those labelled the `least fuel-efficient' - which include sports cars and other vehicles as well as the hated 4x4 - number only 225,000. Putting motorists off buying 4x4s by making them more expensive to run will do Sweet FA to reduce the level of pollution caused by car use.

The level of CO2 coughed up by a 4x4 is not that much greater than various other modern machines. Campaigners say that 4x4s emit more CO2 than most other cars - that may be true, but they emit less CO2 than some of the things we use in the home day in and day out. According to research published in 2005, one cycle of a kitchen dishwasher releases around 756g of CO2, more than double that produced by a short spin in a Range Rover Turbo Diesel, which releases 299g per kilometre. Using a petrol lawnmower for an hour releases more than 1,000g of CO2. Why are there no campaigns against `evil' dishwashers, or demands that Gordon Brown slap big fat taxes on lawnmowers?

There is also little hard evidence that, when involved in collisions, 4x4s are more dangerous for motorists and pedestrians than other cars. Of course, none of us would like to be on the receiving end of a speeding 4x4 - but nor would we want to be hit by a big red bus, a delivery truck, a black taxi or even a Mini for that matter. According to Chris Patience, head of technical policy at the Automobile Association (AA): `There is no shared characteristic of 4x4s that make them any more or less aggressive towards pedestrians compared to a "normal" car.' Patience even claims that 4x4s might be less harmful to pedestrians when there is a collision. `Typically, pedestrians hit by cars wrap around the front of the car and their head hits the bonnet', he says, and because 4x4s tend to have more space between the bonnet and the engine beneath it, they create something of a `crumple-zone for the head'.

It is not really what these cars do that winds up campaigners, but rather what they represent. They're big brash symbols of conspicuous consumption. And at a time when we're encouraged to be meek and to constantly consider what impact our behaviour might be having on the environment, buying a 4x4 and showing it off to the other mums at the schoolgates or your mates at the football ground is the contemporary equivalent of a mortal sin.

It isn't so much the car that the campaigners can't stand (after all, they like big red carbon-producing buses) but rather the people who tend to drive them - whether it's uppity working-class-done-good people, or country folk who talk in posh tones and probably watch Top Gear. You can tell this is about more than pollution and pedestrians if you listen to the language used to describe 4x4 drivers. They're talked about in the most vituperative terms, not only as polluters but as Bad People. The website of the UK campaign group the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s describes itself as a collection of `concerned citizens' and 4x4s as `The Bad Guys'. It says its aim is to make driving a 4x4 as `socially unacceptable as drink-driving'.

London mayor Ken Livingstone says mums who drop their kids at school in 4x4s are `complete idiots'. A left-leaning British think-tank, the New Economics Foundation, describes 4x4s as `Satan's little run-arounds'. In the US, a website called What Would Jesus Drive? (not a 4x4, apparently) says pollution from 4x4s `has a major impact on human health and the rest of God's creation'. So 4x4 drivers are not only dangerous and greedy and anti-social - they're ungodly, too.

These are clearly moral judgements masquerading as concern for the environment. Look into the trunk of the anti-4x4 campaign and you will find generous doses of snobbery, mean-spiritedness and neo-luddism.


Immigrants being blamed for the negativity spawned by the British Left

Can immigrants be blamed for lack of loyalty to a country that seems to have lost faith in itself?

UK Chancellor Gordon Brown's recent initiative to ensure that immigrants feel a proper sense of loyalty to Britain has been criticised for being either too little too late or just plain daft. Brown said last month that immigrants should do some `community work' before being granted British citizenship. For Brown, citizenship should be a `kind of contract' with `rights and responsibilities'. This follows on from other proposals suggesting that immigrants should be `encouraged' to learn English and should take tests to demonstrate that they know what Britain is all about and that they wish to be part of it.

Enforced community service is unlikely to engender a sense of belonging. But then, what really seems to be behind the latest demands for immigrants to buy into Britishness is a lack of any positive, coherent sense of what it is to be British amongst the British elite itself. This weakened sense of Britishness has nothing intrinsically to do with immigrants. And yet, more and more, a situation that is the result of various complex historical and political factors is being represented as a problem to do with immigration. This is itself a problem for the rest of us, as it means attention is misplaced upon immigrants and energy is misdirected towards helping immigrants to fit into something that isn't really there.

Take education. It is argued by some that there has been a `downward drag' in standards due to there being too many immigrant children in the classroom. My guess is that pupils today are more disadvantaged by an educational establishment which is not able, or willing, to assert the need for teaching English language and literature to take precedence over the need to be `multicultural' than they are by the presence of pupils who do not speak English very well.

Some believe that a big problem in the health service today is that patients don't understand their doctors, and apparently have to strain to make sense of what the man or woman with the strange accent is saying. What about all the other major problems with the health service, from a lack of resources to the transformation of the NHS into a behaviour-policing outfit? Time and time again, problems that are the result of the actions and policies of the British authorities are being ascribed to immigrants `failing to fit in'. Few ask what exactly there is for them to fit into.

Most Indian immigrants of my parents' generation felt positively hostile to certain British institutions. For example, many were distrustful of the British Army and supported the Quit India Movement, the civil disobedience movement launched in India in 1942 in response to Mahatma Gandhi's call for the immediate independence of India from Britain. Yet simultaneously they felt an affinity with British society and culture. This meant they wanted to make a break with their country of birth in order to be part of a society perceived as going forwards.

Financial gain was not uppermost in their minds. Individual freedom, meritocracy and social mobility were high on the list of attractions. Even when they arrived in the UK and realised that these things were not available to all on an equal basis, their belief in, and desire to be part of, British life remained. They believed that by working through institutions and popular organisations such as trade unions and political parties, many people - themselves included - could improve their lot.

The dynamic engendered by British society at that time was strong enough to inspire people all over the world. Today what immigrants once sought to do spontaneously (learn the language and culture) has to be imposed by government - not primarily because immigrants have changed, but because British society represents less of what they want to sign up to.

Rather than address more difficult issues - that Britain today is less than inspirational on the world stage, is less of a meritocracy, more socially stratified and a place where individuals are more closely monitored in virtually all aspects of our lives - politicians and pundits tear their hair out wondering why on earth immigrants don't appear to want to be part of and to celebrate British culture.

Maybe they do. Maybe they don't. I can see no reason why it should matter to anyone. Many people live outside their countries of birth; they work and socialise without conflict. Yet they do not feel that they necessarily belong to, or have to belong to, the country they have chosen to live in. People may feel contradictory affiliations; and something as subjective as a sense of belonging frequently waxes and wanes over time. A more confident, forward-looking society would be more relaxed about these facts.

Whatever measures or cod `solutions' the British political caste comes up with, people's subjective sense of belonging cannot be created by diktat. One of the few positive virtues of British society that politicians often cite is its tolerance. It is ironic, then, that the present government is so intolerant of people who do not conform to its increasingly long list of absurd criteria of what makes for a `good British citizen'.

Still, as long as the focus remains on what immigrants do or don't do to prove their loyalty, the heat is off looking at ourselves, and identifying what the real problems are and what some real solutions might be.


Australia's humane British founders

Leftist historians give the impression that Australia's founders were genocidal military dictators. But many of Australia's early colonial leaders were human rights activists ahead of their time, as Keith Windschuttle documents below. Australia's first governor, Capt. Phillip was anti-slavery before Wilberforce! Following the documentation below is a summary of what the Leftists say -- and a rebuttal of it

According to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the 200th anniversary of his country's abolition of the slave trade tomorrow offers the chance to say how profoundly shameful slavery was. Equally, however, it provides the occasion to commemorate those who abolished the trade. In 1807, the British were the first people in the world to do so. This was one of the great feats in the history of human freedom and its originators and their motives deserve to be understood and celebrated today.

Moreover, there was a strong connection between the British colonisation of Australia and those who campaigned against slavery. Today, our contemporary historians avoid this topic. Hence, few Australians are aware of how powerful the abolitionist sentiment was in colonial Australia or how strongly English abolitionists influenced the political and moral foundations of this country.

Soon after British secretary for home affairs, Lord Sydney, appointed him the first governor of NSW in September 1786, Arthur Phillip drew up a detailed memorandum of his plans for the proposed new colony. In one paragraph he wrote: "The laws of this country (England) will of course be introduced in New South Wales, and there is one that I would wish to take place from the moment his majesty's forces take possession of the country: that there can be no slavery in a free land, and consequently no slaves."

In all of Australia's founding documents this statement stands out starkly. There are no other appeals to great principles, no declaration of independence, no constitutional preamble full of nation-building sentiment. Instead, we were founded by bureaucratic correspondence from the British Home Office to the Admiralty, the Navy Board and the Treasury, by other letters, commissions of appointment and warrants for transportation, and by one act of the British parliament concerned mostly with "the transportation of felons and other offenders". Hence Phillip's paragraph above, especially his unequivocal and spare avowal, "there can be no slavery in a free land", is probably the best founding proclamation we have.

It was a remarkable declaration to make at the time. For a start, it demonstrated that its governor and those who appointed him had more ambitious plans for the new colony than they made public. "A free land" meant much more than a dumping ground for convicts. Phillip clearly expected NSW eventually to be composed largely of free settlers. Moreover, Phillip's objection to slavery was noticeably ahead of his time. At this distance, it may seem part of the stock opinion of the day, just one more expression of the abolitionist movement that persuaded the British parliament to outlaw the transportation of slaves on the high seas. But there was more to it than that. As Phillip said, the laws of England did not permit slavery. The ownership and sale of human beings had been illegal in England since the early Middle Ages, but by the 1700s the growth of the slave trade to the Americas saw thousands of black slaves employed as servants in London, Edinburgh and other urban centres. In the celebrated James Somerset case of 1772, Lord Mansfield found that English law did not permit slavery and that black servants were free to go as they pleased.

Nonetheless slavery still thrived across the British Empire. The merchant fleet of Liverpool dominated the transport of slaves from Africa to the Americas; the sugar plantations of Britain's Caribbean colonies were dependent on slave labour; and slavery was widespread in the Muslim realms of British India. Moreover, Britain's former colonies in North America had just formed an independent union based on an appeal to freedom and equality, yet still they housed almost 700,000 slaves.

Phillip wrote his memorandum before the abolitionist movement gained public momentum. At the time, to take a stand for this moral cause put him decidedly on the progressive side of politics. The abolitionists' parliamentary leader, William Wilberforce, decided to take up the issue only in May 1787, eight months after Phillip declared his own attitude. The abolitionist evangelicals in the Church of England and their Quaker supporters were then a marginal group of activists. Their spokesman, Thomas Clarkson, had not yet begun the speaking tours of British cities that were to make abolition a popular cause. By 1791, when Wilberforce introduced his first bill to abolish the slave trade, the movement had made progress but parliament still rejected it decisively by 163 votes to 88.

Although the evangelicals were the main force behind the abolitionist movement and Wilberforce its best-known politician, Phillip had not been greatly influenced by them. Indeed, he was not an especially religious man. His 1786 memorandum discussed his proposed colony's housing, health care, clothing, relations with the Aborigines, rewards and punishments for convicts, land grants, shipping regulations, exploration and trade. Conspicuously, he mentioned neither religion nor the church. In practice, he seemed to regard religion primarily as a utilitarian device for maintaining social order and good behaviour.

Instead, he took a more secular political position that saw slavery as an offence against the tradition of "the freeborn Englishman" that defined his country. This was a political and a folk tradition that extended back at least to the English Civil War but probably much further. It meant that no one in England could be born into slavery, bondage or vassalage. All were born with inalienable rights to freedom.

Phillip was also the inheritor of the British naval tradition that looked down on Europe's original imperial powers, Spain and Portugal. Since the Spanish Armada, English Protestant sailors had been nourished on a diet of anti-Spanish stories designed to show that the adherents of the Catholic Church were capable of any cruelty. Tales of the atrocities of the Spanish Inquisition and the brutal treatment of African slaves and the indigenous people of the Americas entrenched the sentiment.

A further influence on Phillip was the humanitarian movement that emerged within the British Enlightenment in the late 1700s. This movement, which had support from early British anthropologists and the Anglican Church, emphasised the unity of humankind. All human beings, whatever their skin colour, were members of the one species and were thus equal, both at law and before God. This sentiment led several Scottish intellectuals to openly condemn slavery, especially Adam Smith in The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), plus George Wallace and Adam Ferguson. In England, William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-69) made a firm break with Roman law on the subject.

In April 1787, Phillip made another memorable statement that applied this egalitarian sentiment to the Aborigines of NSW: "Any Man who takes the life of a Native will be put on his Trial the same as if he had kill'd one of the Garrison. This appears to me not only just but good policy."

Since his early 20s, Phillip had found slavery repugnant. As a junior naval officer on a tour of duty to the Caribbean in 1760-62 he saw the Spanish and British slave plantations on Jamaica, the Leeward Islands and Cuba. "By the time he left the lavish islands," writes his biographer Alan Frost, "Phillip has come to see that behind their gleaming skin lurked a gruesome skull." The evil commerce and the lot of the slaves, Frost records, made an abiding impression on the young naval officer. Phillip spent the years 1775-78 in Brazil as a captain in the Portuguese navy. During a lull in duties at sea, he made an investigation of the king of Portugal's Brazilian diamond mines. He discovered much about Brazil's "Forbidden District", where 5000 African slaves mined diamonds under the constant gaze of their individual overseers. This experience confirmed his aversion to slavery.

Phillip's successors as governors of NSW, John Hunter, Philip Gidley King and William Bligh, were all naval men who shared similar ideas and experiences. All had served in the West Indies or North America and subscribed to the same naval values and humanitarian spirit. They had directly encountered or heard tales of the slave trade to the Americas much like that experienced by Lachlan Macquarie in August 1809 while en route to NSW. Off the Brazilian coast, Macquarie's ship accosted a Portuguese slaver bound for Rio de Janeiro carrying 540 African females. Disease had broken out and, to prevent the infection from spreading, the captain had thrown 50 live women overboard. Elizabeth Macquarie was shocked. Her husband's biographer, John Ritchie, records: "Elizabeth's humanity shuddered at this monstrousness and caused her to think of the abolitionist William Wilberforce."

As well as the Enlightenment tradition of the naval officers, the Australian colony harboured a vigorous evangelical movement. Evangelicalism was a reform movement that arose within the Church of England in the late 18th century. It aimed to apply the principles of the Gospels to social life. Its main causes were penal reform, the abolition of slavery and missions to the native people of the empire. The founding of NSW as a convict society in the Pacific, where the Australian and Pacific Island tribes seemed ripe for conversion, was tailor-made for the movement. Although Wilberforce's main project was the abolition of slavery, he was also concerned with improving the living conditions of convicts, Aborigines and Pacific Islanders. From the outset, he took a close interest in NSW, soliciting reports from his evangelical followers in the colony and acting as patron of their appointments. He successfully nominated the colony's first two chaplains, Richard Johnson and Samuel Marsden.

He thought the key to good colonial order was religious observance. In 1792 he wrote to home secretary Lord Dundas saying he had information from NSW that among "the higher, as well as the lower ranks, a degree of open profligacy and vice is allowed if not encouraged there". He urged Dundas "to introduce and keep alive amongst the bulk of the people such a sense of religion as will make them temperate and orderly, and domestic and contented".

Until 1796, Lachlan Macquarie had unquestioningly accepted slavery. He was then a captain in the British army in India. At the time, India had a population of eight million slaves and the institution had existed since time immemorial. Indeed, in 1794, when he joined his regiment in Calicut, Macquarie purchased two slave boys from the market in Cochin. His first wife, Jane, was the daughter of the chief justice of Antigua in the West Indies and she owned a small number of slaves there. Jane died of consumption in 1796 and in her will she set her slaves free. Her husband followed her example and emancipated his Indian slaves, enrolling them in a parish school at Bombay to learn to read and write.

Later, as military secretary to the governor of Bombay, Jonathan Duncan, and as a friend of wealthy merchant Charles Forbes - two Englishmen who endorsed the emerging humanitarian sentiment of the time - Macquarie became a critic of slavery. He returned to England in 1807, the year of the abolitionists' victory, and caught the enthusiasm for their cause. That year he married his second wife, Elizabeth, and came under the influence of her religious outlook, especially her belief that all human creatures were equal in the eyes of God.

These views changed the course of Australian colonial history. Determined to avoid any comparison between convict transportation and slavery, Macquarie radically reformed the punitive regime for convicts, turning it into a program for their regeneration. He moderated corporal punishment, reduced life sentences to 15 years and reprieved numerous convicts sentenced to death. Where Bligh had granted two pardons during his 18-month term as governor, between 1810 and 1820 Macquarie gave 366 absolute pardons, 1365 conditional pardons and 2319 tickets-of-leave (certificates of exemption from compulsory labour). He granted land to emancipists (pardoned convicts) and expirees, and even invited some to dine with him. He appointed former convicts as magistrates, as assistant surgeon, acting surveyor, civil architect and poet laureate. To celebrate St Patrick's Day in 1810, Elizabeth Macquarie invited to dinner 58 convicts and their overseers.

Although Lachlan Macquarie's generosity and clemency sowed seeds of dissension among the free settlers that eventually brought him down, he demonstrated that a penal regime of this kind worked. Most successive governors kept his policies largely intact. The long-term result was that probably more than half of the 160,000 convicts transported in 80 years were transformed from the criminal subcultures of their youth into useful citizens: farmers, tradesmen, soldiers and, in a small but notable number of cases, successful professional and business men and women. Transportation to Australia became history's most successful large-scale experiment in penal reform.

Macquarie translated Wilberforce's agenda into policy towards the Aborigines. He established the Native Institution for Aboriginal children; he settled Aboriginal adults on a farm at George's Head and gave them seed and tools; he built huts for others at Elizabeth Bay and gave them a boat, fishing tackle, salt and casks; in 1814 he inaugurated an annual gathering and feast for all the Aborigines of the Sydney region.

Left-wing historians today record with some satisfaction that all his Aboriginal policies eventually failed. They still demonstrated Macquarie's intention towards the Aborigines, which was to give them the gift of British civilisation. He regarded them as his equals and thought that with only a little assistance they could make the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture.

In the 1820s, two other Australian colonial governors, Ralph Darling and George Arthur, owed their positions partly to the reputations they gained for actions against the slave trade. Other prominent Australian colonists who had dealings with Wilberforce in London or who gained positions here on his recommendation included navigator Matthew Flinders, lieutenant-governor Charles La Trobe, judge Barron Field; merchant and philanthropist Robert Campbell, banker and newspaper editor Edward Hall Smith, author Nicholas Liddiard, pastoralist John Leake and Anglican clergyman Thomas Hassall.


Leftist historians hide Australia's humane past

The idea that slavery was an affront to humanity that had no place in a free land was part of the original definition of what it meant to be an Australian. Unfortunately, in today's academic climate in which the Left dominates history and the prevailing mind-set is to disparage our origins, very few academic historians discuss these issues. Anyone looking to the Oxford Companion to Australian History for insight will find its editors, Graeme Davison, John Hirst and Stuart Macintyre, did not think the abolitionists worthy of an entry or even a mention in the subject index.

Moreover, although NSW founder Arthur Phillip's original anti-slavery declaration was once well known to earlier generations of students, historians today rarely mention it. Even when they do, their intention is usually to qualify it heavily. For instance, in The Europeans in Australia (1997), Alan Atkinson calls Phillip's statement "almost gratuitous", then tries to make him look the odd man out in the colony by saying that once he returned to England, the officers of the marines hoped the Aborigines "might be harnessed to a form of slavery on the current American model".

This claim is hardly credible. The sole evidence for it is half a sentence written in 1795 in the diary of the alcoholic, dissolute magistrate Richard Atkins, a long-time adversary of the officers, who did not name those concerned. Moreover, Atkinson neglects to inform his readers that the other half of Atkins's sentence mocks the very notion. The full sentence Atkins wrote was: "They seem to adopt the Idea that the Natives can be made Slaves of, than which nothing can be more false, they are free as air and Govr. Phillip's conduct was highly approved of for reprobating that idea."

Worse still, students of Australian history taught by the present generation of university lecturers are swamped by allegations that colonial officials were guilty of genocide against the Aborigines. According to Ann Curthoys and John Docker of Australian National University, joint editors of the 2001 edition of the academic journal Aboriginal History, Britain was the most "overtly genocidal" of the European colonial powers and its colonisation of Australia produced a genocide comparable to that of Nazi Germany. Most other authors in that journal agreed with them.

Since genocide is a crime of government and a crime of intent, this accusation is disturbing. If true, it means that all those Australian colonial officials who supported the abolition movement, who were proteges of William Wilberforce and who publicly declared that all human beings were equal before the law, must have been liars and hypocrites. Moreover, their words must have been the opposite of their deeds not just once but consistently across several decades and throughout many colonial administrations. In other words, the accusation is implausible on these grounds alone and is evidence not of the intentions of our founders but of how something has gone seriously wrong with the historical interpretation that prevails in this field.

Today, on the rare occasions it is discussed in Australian history books, the abolitionist movement that triumphed in 1807 usually figures only as an introduction to the campaign in the late 1830s to end convict transportation. Those colonists and their English supporters who were opposed to transportation often compared it with slavery. It is true that Britain's Molesworth Committee of 1838, whose report effectively ended transportation to NSW two years later, did use the comparison with slavery to capitalise on abolitionist sentiment in the wake of the 1833 act outlawing the ownership of slaves in the British Empire.

This makes recent historians think they are licensed to repeat the charge as if it were true. In her volume of the Oxford History of Australia (1992), Jan Kociumbas calls the convict regime variously "slavery" (her scare quotes), semi-slavery and a system of slave labour. This analogy is false since convicts could not be bought or sold in Australia and most were sentenced to fixed terms, after which they were free to remain here or return home. And unlike slaves, their children were always born free. Hence, it is historically inaccurate to use the term today to describe what the convict system was really like.

However, in an era when readers of Australian history are so readily seduced by the pseudo-scholarship of books such as Robert Hughes's bestseller The Fatal Shore, which portrays the convict era as Britain's equivalent of Joseph Stalin's gulag archipelago, bad news is obviously what sells. That Australia's founders were so closely connected to, and so strongly motivated by, one of history's great movements for human liberation is, for some perverse reason, something we now prefer not 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, 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.


25 March, 2007

Britain: Throwing celery now incorrect! (It's true)

Even though it has never done any harm. Hard to imagine that it could!

Is the right to bear celery a civil liberties issue? It certainly wasn't what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they drafted the US constitution. However, this week's news that Chelsea Football Club has banned celery from Stamford Bridge has pushed this humble vegetable to the forefront of the civil rights agenda. To paraphrase Voltaire: I don't like to eat celery, but I'll defend to the death your right to throw it.

Celery throwing, in case you weren't aware, is a slightly surreal Chelsea tradition that dates back to the 1980s. The vegetable throwing is an accompaniment to the famous `Celery song', a paean to the erotic properties of the humble apium graveolens dulce: `Celery, celery, if she don't come, I'll tickle her bum, with a lump of celery'.

Until this week the origins of the chant were a mystery to me. However, after trawling football websites, I came across the theory that the chant is based on a Chas and Dave recording of a traditional cockney singalong called `Ask Old Brown To Tea'. Not being particularly familiar with the Chas and Dave canon, I consulted my friend Ed, a self-confessed aficionado of the London pub rockers. He confirmed that the Chas and Dave connection was correct. The original lyric was, `Ask Old Brown to tea, and his family, if he don't come, I'll tickle his bum, with a lump-a celery'. Chas and Dave recorded a version on an old Christmas album, which then became a hit among travelling Chelsea fans on a tour of Sweden in 1981, and a tradition was born.

However, the football authorities haven't always taken kindly to celery throwing. In 1996, Gillingham FC banned celery from the Priestfield stadium after a goalkeeper complained that he had been struck by the vegetable. In 2002, four Chelsea fans were prosecuted and fined for `throwing celery without lawful authority' during the FA Cup semi-final against Fulham. The latest clampdown on celery throwing came after the Carling Cup Final, when Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas was showered with celery as he went to take a corner. Fabregas wasn't injured by the flying vegetables. In fact, the young midfielder, who is probably used to an entirely different calibre of makeshift missile in his native Spain, looked rather bewildered.

Although nobody was hurt, the FA has launched an investigation into this and another celery-throwing incident involving Chelsea fans and the club has decided to make Stamford Bridge a celery-free zone. `The throwing of anything at a football match, including celery, is a criminal offence for which you can be arrested and end up with a criminal record', said a statement on the club's website. `In future, if anyone is found attempting to bring celery into Stamford Bridge they could be refused entry and anyone caught throwing celery will face a ban.'

As I've argued before on spiked, a policy of banning specific objects that might be used as missiles will always be subverted by human ingenuity (1). If celery is banned, then fans will simply throw coins, cigarette lighters, or mobile phones instead. In 2002, a linesman was struck by a half-eaten meat pie at Millwall's New Den. Is a bunch of celery more hazardous than a meat pie? How many people, I wonder, have been injured by celery at a football match? According to Home Office figures there were 78 arrests for missile throwing in the 2005/6 season, only 16 of which were at Premiership matches (2). The fact that only seven Chelsea fans were arrested for throwing missiles in all competitions last season doesn't suggest a particularly widespread problem. Moreover, it is not possible to tell from the statistics whether these arrests were for chucking celery or more bog standard projectiles such as coins or plastic bottles.

The police may, of course, have been taking a softly-softly approach to celery throwing, so I contacted the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) to find out whether flying celery is a health hazard. `I don't think we can find any instances of people struck by vegetables at sporting fixtures,' Roger Vincent from the RoSPA press office told me. Vincent thought that, while throwing bunches of celery might be dangerous, there wasn't anything wrong with fans waving the vegetable. (Perhaps Chelsea fans should follow the lead of the campaign for safe standing and start a `safe celery' campaign.)

Next I tried the Football Licensing Authority (FLA), which was set up after the Hillsborough disaster to oversee stadium safety. According to the FLA website, the rate of fan injuries at football matches in the 2005/6 season was one injury per 32,449 spectators, of which 65 required hospital treatment (3). Two thirds of these injuries resulted from trips, falls or contact with turnstiles, while half of the remaining injuries were scalds from hot drinks. What about flying vegetables then? I rang the FLA to find out. `There is nothing on record to say anyone's been injured by a vegetable,' said Nikki Rutherford who compiles the FLA injury statistics. `We did have one person choking on a meat pie but that was about all,' she added. So, there you have it, the half-time catering is far more hazardous to spectators than flying celery.

Chelsea might be despised for their new-found wealth and success but celery throwing remains one of their more endearing traits. The spectacle of thousands of Chelsea fans singing their lewd ditty and hurling celery is guaranteed to bring a smile to the face of most football fans, regardless of club allegiance. However, the football authorities evidently fail to see the funny side. Celery is now salata non grata at Stamford Bridge. Worse still, the club is urging supporters to ring a special hotline and inform on anyone seen throwing celery inside the stadium. A celery hotline, for Christ's sake! George Orwell himself couldn't have made it up.


The deceptions behind the Pro-Homosexual `Hate Crimes' Bill

Far left Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has once again introduced his so-called "hate crimes" bill to provide special federal protection for homosexuality, cross-dressing, and transsexualism. H.R. 1592, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007, is a rehash of his 2005 bill, according to sources in Congress. H.R. 1592 claims there is an epidemic of "hate" against homosexuals and cross-dressers that is so pervasive throughout our nation, that local law enforcement officials are overwhelmed in dealing with the problem. In addition, Conyers' and his congressional cohorts claim - without any evidence whatsoever - that homosexuals, cross-dressers, etc., are so persecuted in their home states that they are fleeing into neighboring states to avoid persecution.

The legislation asserts that violence against these groups forces "such members to move across state lines to escape the incidence or risk of such violence." Liberals also claim things are so bad for homosexuals, cross-dressers, etc., that these individuals are prevented "from purchasing goods and services; obtaining or sustaining employment, or participating in other commercial activity."

The bogus claim that interstate travel is involved in "hate," is needed by Conyers to invoke federal involvement in local law enforcement through the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution. "Conyers has created a whole false scenario about hordes of homosexuals and cross-dressers fleeing across state lines in order to justify his dangerous hate crimes bill," said TVC Executive Director Andrea Lafferty. "If there is such a mass migration of homosexuals, cross-dressers and drag queens across state lines, I wonder why the mainstream media hasn't reported on this national tragedy? Of course, the truth is that there is no migration of fear-filled drag queens or homosexuals crossing state lines to avoid being beaten up."

Contrary to what John Conyers claims, there is no epidemic of hate against individuals because of their sexual orientation. FBI hate crime statistics from 2005 (the latest available) report only 1,171 cases of sexual orientation bias against individuals. Of those, 301 were listed as "intimidation," which is name-calling. Another 333 were listed as "simple assault," which is pushing or shoving. Only 177 were listed as aggravated assault against a person because of his sexual orientation.

"In a nation of 300 million, the existence of 1,171 "hate crimes" against individuals hardly constitutes a national epidemic that is overwhelming local police departments or sheriff's departments.


Britain: A war of words over the 'Yid Army'

Ignore the touchy PC brigade: the fans of north London football club Tottenham Hotspur should be allowed to call themselves whatever they like.

YID - Your Ideal Dating - is an international Jewish dating site. Yid Vicious is an American klezmer (Jewish East European folk music) band. Yid Kids is a clothing line for newborns. Yid Army is the fan club of Tottenham Hotspur, a North London football club. Though the word ‘Yid’, which is the Yiddish ethnonym for Jew, has historically often been used as a pejorative (for an anti-Semite, simply calling someone a ‘Jew’ is a term of abuse), in these cases the word has no racist connotations. On the contrary, it is used humorously and, for Yid Army, it was originally a case of positively reclaiming a racial slur from rival supporters and throwing it back in their face.

Yet now, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club is conducting a ‘full consultation exercise’ over their fans’ habits of referring to themselves as the Yid Army because of fears it can give rise to ‘casual anti-Semitism’. A meeting next week will be attended by representatives of the club and its supporters’ trust, the Kick It Out anti-racism campaign, the Football Association, the Premier League and the Community Security Trust, a Jewish defence organisation.

There are various theories as to exactly when Spurs fans started referring to themselves as Yids and Yiddos. By most accounts, such words were originally used as an anti-Semitic provocation by opposing fans, but the Spurs, who have always had a sizeable Jewish fan base, took it over in the 1960s as a badge of honour. They thereby lessened its racist impact and got one up on their rivals.

Now, there are growing concerns that the Yid Army itself is causing racism because apparently people who don’t really understand the history of the term can become ‘casual anti-Semites’. It seems that so long as something offends someone somewhere – regardless of whether it was said informally or with racist intent – it can be construed as racist.

Two incidents over the past couple of weeks have reignited concerns that chants and phrases that have been bandied around football terraces for at least 40 years can give rise to anti-Semitism inside and outside sport stadiums.

During a Sunday football match, West Ham United fans were filmed chanting slogans such as ‘I’d rather be a Paki than a Jew’ during half-time at Upton Park. A week later, eight boys from Chauncy School in Hertfordshire were arrested for apparently saying ‘Yid Army’ at their teacher’s leaving do. This incident was also filmed and when the teacher, David Appleman, saw the video on the internet, he reported his students to the police, accusing them of making anti-Semitic remarks. According to the school’s headteacher, Dennis O’Sullivan, Appleman is ‘looking delighted, smiling and shaking hands with each of the boys’ on the video. O’Sullivan has criticised the police for treating the 15 and 16-year-old boys as criminals and said that ‘it is sad to see that he [Appleman] has made a complaint against our students without telling us’ (1).

O’Sullivan said: ‘We have Spurs supporters chanting “Yiddo! Yiddo!” about themselves at matches. I wonder if we will see the police making arrests at the next home match.’ (2) Well, considering the current consultation exercise and demands from the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) that fans stop calling themselves Yiddos or the Yid Army, it seems neither football matches nor schools are safe from the language police these days.

Spurs fans say that the term Yid is part of the Tottenham subculture and that ‘some people not used to hearing the word used in this way may find it offensive, but genuine supporters usually try to explain to them that it is really an ironic term of endearment – and, importantly, that its use by Spurs fans has stopped its use as real racial abuse by rival supporters’ (3). Even if Tottenham supporters are today largely non-Jewish, Yid Army is simply the term they use to identify themselves as a group with a common interest, and to position themselves against rivals.

One fan said the word Yid is ‘part of our identity and we should be proud of it. It is not racist. It’s about sticking together and responding sensibly to the bullying of others many years before.’ Another fan said that ‘like a great many non-Jewish Spurs fans, my link to this great club goes back to the Jewish community. I am proud of the club’s Jewish links, and those links are celebrated by the fact that we identify ourselves as yiddos’. He added: ‘If there are certain sections who are offended by our own yid chants, perhaps it would be good for them to talk to the fans and learn why we sing it and find out how proud we are of the club’s Jewish heritage. In fact, if we stopped calling ourselves yids, this Jewish heritage would be less obvious for all to see.’ (4)

No doubt, things can get rowdy on football terraces where rivalry is expressed through taunts and insults, but demands that Spurs fans stop using words like Yiddos show that increasingly people aren’t even allowed to decide what to call themselves – never mind what they choose to call their rivals. This is despite the fact that the history of the Yid Army is bound up with popular fights against racism. These days, it seems racism can only be fought on our behalf, by anti-racist quangos and officials.

The link between language and racism is not as clear-cut as it is made out to be by those who want to clamp down on offensive speech. Not only because offence is often in the eye of the beholder, but also because taken out of context and held up to the standards of political correctness, phrases and chants lose the significance they have in their original settings. So the fact that West Ham fans are anti-Spurs, not anti-Semitic, is seen as irrelevant because the words they use to express it are not acceptable according to new and ever-widening definitions of ‘hate speech’.

Chants at sports stadiums should not be interpreted literally. An obvious case in point are the basketball games between Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel, where a common chant from the Jerusalem supporters is ‘Ya Saddam ya habib udrub udrub Tel Aviv’. Hapoel fans adopted it after news programmes showed Palestinians chanting it on rooftops during the Gulf War. It means ‘Saddam, darling, bomb Tel Aviv’ in Arabic.

While the Yid Army turned the tables on their rivals and helped change the word Yid from an insult to a badge of honour, some supporters are seen as ostracising others who may be offended or even as causing anti-Semitism amongst schoolkids and justifying others’ racism. At a 2003 UEFA anti-racism conference, Chelsea chairman Ken Bates said: ‘It is hard to criticise Chelsea fans for calling Tottenham supporters something that they call themselves.’ (5)

The Yid Army website asks why, when fans have used the term Yid Army since the 1960s to deflect racism, it is seen as a problem now. Indeed, this is a sign of our times, of today’s growing tendency to divide society into those who cause offence, those who are easily offended, those who can be easily ignited by offensive words and those who need to police the public in order to minimise such speech.

But reading various Yid Army discussion forums, the Yiddos themselves seem more than capable of distinguishing between racist and affectionate speech. As one puts it: ‘I’m Jewish and a Spurs fan and I’m very proud that Spurs fans - whether they’re Jewish or not - have taken up the yiddo name as a badge of honour. I think that’s what anti-racism is about: people standing together whatever their race/origin/skin colour etc and shoving it back in the racists’ faces.’ (6) Another fan is more to the point: ‘I’m not jewish but i am a yid. Tottenham always will be the yid army and that is that. For any f u k e r who think political correctness is the way to go can go fuk themselves. im fed up with the s**t. coys. YID ARMY’


Australia: Deceitful Leftist historians

Manning Clark, our most famous Left-wing historian, has been caught in a lie - nothing new. But how other historians have excused it explains much. Much that is rotten in the telling of Australian history.

Clark was a Stalinist whose History of Australia is marked by hatred of the British, the rich and the Liberals. But only after his death was there muttering about his many dodgy facts. This month, Clark's biographer, Mark McKenna, himself a historian, announced another untruth. Clark often claimed he witnessed Kristallnacht -- Hitler's infamous pogrom against Jews in 1938. Actually, said McKenna, Clark didn't get to Germany until weeks later.

But, of course, McKenna wouldn't say Clark had "lied". No, he said he didn't doubt Clark knew of Kristallnacht and had reacted to it, telling a "moral truth": "In this sense, there is no fabrication." It felt right.

Klaus Neumann, a Swinburne University historian, is just as delicate: "Clark, too, may have fashioned a story of his life in line with what he thought was expected of him at that point in his life. He did not set out to dupe his readers . . ."

Isn't that the heart of the Left's take on not just history: to say what's expected, rather than what is true? That may explain how historians have insisted, against the facts, that there was a stolen generation and a Tasmanian genocide. "Moral truths" are now confused with real ones.



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.


24 March, 2007


David Blankenhorn may be best known as an advocate for the importance of fathers, but the 51-year-old think-tank founder and author is about to step onto the firing line with a much more controversial issue: gay marriage.

The Harvard-educated Mississippi native is a former VISTA volunteer and community organizer who has made a career of thinking about big issues and telling others what he believes. He's written scores of op-ed pieces and essays, co-edited eight books and written two: the 1995 Fatherless America, which attributes many of society's ills to the lack of involvement of fathers in children's lives, and now, The Future of Marriage. In it, he argues kids need both a mother and a father, and because same-sex marriage can't provide that, it's bad for society and kids. "We're either going to go in the direction of viewing marriage as a purely private relationship between two people that's defined by those people, or we're going to try to strengthen and maintain marriage as our society's most pro-child institution," he says.

He may sound like a conservative Christian, but Blankenhorn says he's a liberal Democrat. "I'm not condemning homosexuality. I'm not condemning committed gay relationships," he says. But "the best institutional friend that children have is marriage, and if grownups make a mess of it, the children are going to suffer." Blankenhorn's attempts to raise consciousness about the importance of fathers led him to help inspire the creation of the National Fatherhood Initiative, a non-partisan group promoting responsible fatherhood. For 20 years, he has focused attention on the fallout of what he sees as a breakdown in the family.

He bristles when people call his think tank conservative; he wants to look deeply at America's core values, and he sees the Manhattan-based Institute for American Values, founded in 1987, as a catalyst for analysis and debate among those with differing views. The institute's budget of some $1.5 million largely comes from foundations, corporations and individual donations, which support studies, conferences, books and other publications. "People who say we're a conservative organization are just trying to call us names because they think it'll stigmatize us," he says, clearly rankled that his motives are so often misunderstood.

But as much as his passion for families impresses those who know his work, his blunt outspokenness can be off-putting to people on both sides of the political spectrum. He even criticizes the marriage movement, of which he is considered one of the founders, saying it has "stagnated." "It's one of the reasons I wrote the book," he says. "I want to stir the pot as much as I can."

Colleagues praise him

"My impression of this guy is he's really devoted his life to family issues and would probably do that if no one paid him at all," says Jonathan Rauch, a senior writer at National Journal magazine and a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution who has been on opposite sides of the podium with Blankenhorn.

"David has a lot of respect for ideas," says Maggie Gallagher, a former affiliate scholar with the institute and a strong opponent of same-sex marriage. He "created a new niche. He pulled together top scholars from a variety of disciplines concerned about family fragmentation who were not part of the Religious Right, and he gave them a home."

Sociology professor Judith Stacey of New York University says some in the family field view Blankenhorn as a "right-wing political advocate." But "I see him as more complicated than that." So does William Galston, a domestic policy adviser in the Clinton administration and a senior fellow at Brookings. "My impression is on matters of civil rights and economics and social justice, he's the same warm-hearted Southern liberal he was when he started," Galston says. "It might be more accurate to say a strand of thinking about the family and the culture that in contemporary circumstances is regarded as conservative is something that's become a stronger part of his thinking."

Some academics, including Stacey, suggest the institute lacks objectivity because its work is not subject to scholarly peer review. Blankenhorn rebuffs such claims. "Almost all our work is done in teams of people. We review each other's work constantly," he says. "So it is utter hogwash for somebody to say something like that."

Says Stacey: "I'm one of his favorite targets. We have opposing views on the relationship between social science research about families and public policy about families. Not only do we disagree about the policies, but we disagree about what the research says."

Theodora Ooms, a consultant on family policy who has known Blankenhorn since the mid-1980s, calls him "relentless. . He says he is open-minded, but I find him rather rigid and close-minded." Blankenhorn admits he has a "pushy" side. "I've had fallings-out over differing opinions about what was best to do about what we were working on at the time - not too many of them, though," he says. "If he really disagrees with something, you'll know it," says Galston. "I've never had a problem with it, but I suspect others may."

Blankenhorn wasn't always such a polarizing figure. His sixth-grade teacher chastised him for talking out of turn and told him he was a "leader child." "She said, 'If you do things, the others will follow you,' " he recalls. "That was such a dramatic moment for me. . I've wanted to play that role and have tried my best to play that role since I was a kid."

He originally planned a think tank for community organizers, but he became increasingly frustrated in bringing about social change and decided civil society and the family were areas where he could have an impact. Now, two decades later, the institute has broadened its scope to include projects on Islam's relationships with the West and an examination of thrift as an American core value.

Growing up in the South

Blankenhorn says he avoided the gay marriage issue for years and didn't get into civil unions in his book because it's not directly linked to his concern over marriage as "society's most pro-child institution." He has been clear about other family issues: Marriage is good for kids. Voluntary single-motherhood isn't. Neither is divorce. He says he couldn't skirt same-sex marriage any longer because allowing gays to marry and form families conflicts with children's right to know and be raised by their two biological parents.

His book also cites a new analysis he did on 35 nations from the 2002 International Social Survey Programme, which shows marriage is weakest in nations where support for gay marriage is strongest. "I'm not saying one causes the other. I'm just saying they go together," he says. "If you do support marriage and want it to be this robust social institution, then you ought to think twice about saying you're for gay marriage."

Blankenhorn's childhood in Jackson, Miss., where his parents still live, emphasized family and church. His father worked in insurance, and Blankenhorn says he was a role model; his mother ran the church Sunday school. Both were Presbyterian deacons and elders. Blankenhorn played sports, was president of his freshman class and of his church youth group. The family's church was the first in his area to allow black worshipers. Racial prejudice and public school desegregation had a profound impact on him, causing him at age 15 to try to bridge racial rifts. He founded the Mississippi Community Service Corps, which recruited black and white high school students to join together to tutor elementary school kids. When his father's job transferred him to Salem, Va., in Blankenhorn's junior year of high school, he re-created the service corps by contacting all the church youth groups in the Roanoke/Salem area.

Blankenhorn hadn't planned to go out of state for college, but he ran into a former student from his old high school who urged him to apply to Harvard. That student, Carey Ramos, now a New York attorney who has represented the recording industry in online copyright cases, says Blankenhorn impressed him. "He was clearly very bright and articulate," Ramos says. "What struck me was how determined he was and how he had the qualities of a leader. I thought he would wind up doing interesting things."


Take care not to exceed the acceptable doses of tolerance

The meaning of multiculturalism has changed over the decades, to the point where it often stands for cultural relativism

LISTEN to the debates about multiculturalism and you will soon find yourself wondering what exactly is meant by the term. At some point 40 or 50 years ago people might have used the word multiculturalism, if at all, to refer to the rather new phenomenon of restaurants suddenly serving foods from across the world: food that was, on the whole, far better than the then bog standard Anglo-Saxon fare. In the same way, the term might back then also have encompassed novel dances, different music, unusual art, and so on.

Of course this old-fashioned usage of the term covers things that are today wholly uncontroversial. If there's anyone out there who prefers a processed cheese sandwich on white bread to a Thai green curry or an Indian aloo gobi, I haven't met the person. But assuming he exists, I doubt he's too worried about the threat to Australia's long-term survival posed by his local restaurant's vindaloo specials on Friday nights. Nor do I think the neighbourhood Turkish restaurant's weekly belly dancer is keeping him up at night.

Of course the notion of multiculturalism does have a more recent, more controversial side to it, one that is separate from this older sense. Aside from signalling a host of interesting new cuisines and captivating dances and things of that ilk, multiculturalism can also be shorthand for a package of beliefs that I would boil down to these two.

First, there's the spoken or unspoken proposition that no culture's beliefs, practices or achievements are any better (or worse) than any other's. This basic proposition often goes under the name of cultural relativism.

The second basic aspect of new multiculturalism, one not unrelated to the first, is the feeling or sense (for it is rarely openly defended) that tolerance is always good, that there is no limit to what one should be tolerant of and prepared to defer to.

Both these claims, the cultural relativist one and the anything goes tolerance one, are in my view wrongheaded. To the extent that defenders of multiculturalism mean either or both of them, they defend a very unattractive product. It is one that should be jettisoned in Australia, not least in our schools.

Here's why. Take cultural relativism. Some of the ideas it encapsulates are distant cousins of the great philosopher David Hume's scepticism, especially his version of moral scepticism. Such moral sceptics hold that moral evaluating is ultimately a function of human sentiments; that there are no transcendent, objective moral qualities; that for humans, morality is a function not of reason but of sentiment.

But nothing in Hume's moral scepticism prevents us from weighing likely consequences. Indeed, and despite his sceptical first principles, Hume was a great empiricist. We can, he thought, judge and weigh people's actions in terms of their effects. The same goes for cultures. If one culture emphasises education while another promotes lying on the beach, we can most certainly say which will be the wealthier culture and the one that will discover antibiotics and build jet aircraft. Even if there are no transcendent right choices, a basic awareness of likely consequences means you can't choose the beach and then complain about your short life span, lack of modern medicine, and absence of consumer choices.

The problem with proponents of cultural relativism is that they don't understand their own sceptical foundations. Scepticism forces one to make consequences king. And on those criteria, some cultures look awful: they don't encourage the reading or translation of books, they stifle curiosity, they stamp out free speech and free inquiry by equating dissent with apostasy.

The point is that even moral sceptics lack grounds for treating cultures as equivalent. For them, too, cultures can be weighed and judged. The practices of, say, female genital mutilation or slavery can be condemned on the basis of what they engender. Not much support there for cultural relativism's and the new multiculturalism's lazy attitude of "everything is as good as everything else".

What about the unrestrained apotheosis of tolerance? Is that a virtue? The ancient Greeks understood virtues as the quality of being good at various things: good at courage, good at charity, good at frugality, good at tolerance, and so on. But the ancients understood these virtues also in terms of moderation. Too much of anything could be bad. Some frugality is definitely a good thing, but too much makes you a miser or cheapskate. A plentiful amount of courage is essential, but too much leads to recklessness. Even tolerance, in healthy doses a most wonderful attribute, can turn into nothing more than weakness.

We should strive to be tolerant of much in life. But not everything. It is not a good thing but a bad thing to tolerate the neo-Nazi thug, the child-murdering suicide bomber, the serial rapist, the fanatic who professes to have a pipeline to God and aims to kill those who disagree.

Of course the new multiculturalism never makes such absolutist support of tolerance explicit. To do so would reveal how absurd such a thorough-going refusal to pass judgment ultimately is. But that absolutism is nevertheless there, lurking quietly in the dark corners of this modern-day catechism. Seen in this way, we might still be sceptical about the effectiveness of asking new migrants to take English tests, say, but we can understand the motives. They are honourable ones. And we can and should shudder when our schools treat some of this dogma as near gospel, to be force-fed to our children. We might even hope for the day when the older sense of multiculturalism again becomes the dominant one.


The modern-day sin of denial

Would-be Inquisitors can no longer rely on the power of the Church or the authority of religion to silence their opponents. Indeed, Western society seems incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong these days. We're more comfortable with talking about values in the plural, rather than any single value that everyone can embrace; instead of the truth, society prefers to lecture about `truths'. On most issues, we are free to pick and choose our beliefs and affiliations. Educators tell university students - especially in the social sciences and humanities - that there's no such thing as a right or wrong answer. Instead of enforcing a explicit moral code, the authorities seek to police behaviour through diffuse rhetoric that avoids dealing with difficult questions; they talk about `appropriate' and `inappropriate' behaviour, for example.

Paradoxically, the absence of moral clarity today gives rise to an illiberal and intolerant climate. At a time when moralists find it difficult clearly to differentiate between right and wrong, they are forced to find some other way to draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. So they seize examples of unambiguous evil - paedophilia, the Holocaust, pollution - in order to define potential moral transgression. Today's heresy hunters strive to construct new taboos. The most ritualised and institutionalised taboo in Western society is to question the Holocaust, or to refuse to stand opposed to it. Numerous countries now have laws against Holocaust denial. In Austria, denying the Holocaust can lead to a 10-year prison sentence. Targeting Holocaust deniers allows politicians to occupy the moral high ground, which explains why, this month, German justice minister Brigitte Zypries called for a Europe-wide ban on Holocaust denial and the wearing of Nazi symbols.

The Holocaust has been transformed into an all-purpose moral metaphor adopted by a variety of special interest campaigns and crusades. This Holocaust brand has been co-opted for other experiences, too; we now hear debates about the African-American Holocaust, the Serbian Holocaust, the Bosnian Holocaust, the Rwandan Holocaust. Anti-abortionist crusaders protest about the `Holocaust of fetuses' and animal rights activists denounce the `Holocaust of seals' in Canada. Such manipulation of the Holocaust metaphor turns an historic tragedy into a caricature. Many US Jews were angered when an animal rights organisation launched a campaign that compared the slaughter of livestock to the murder of Jews in the Holocaust. A campaign exhibition, called `Holocaust on Your Plate', juxtaposed images of people in concentration camps with pictures of animals in pens.

Many co-opt the Holocaust brand to win legitimacy and backing for their campaigns. And they insist that anyone who questions their version of events should be treated in a manner similar to those who deny the real Holocaust. `Do Armenian citizens of France not deserve the same protection as their Jewish compatriots?', asked an advocate of criminalising the denial of the Armenian genocide of 1915 (5). In the past two decades, accusing someone of denial has become the twenty-first-century equivalent of labelling them a heretic. Those who deny the claims of fashionable campaigners and causes can expect to be censored and treated with intolerance. Following the precedent set by laws against Holocaust denial, the French National Assembly passed a law in October last year that could sentence to a year's imprisonment anyone who denies the Armenian genocide.

The act of denial has been transformed into a generic evil. This is clear in the way that the stigmatisation of denial has leapt from the realm of historic controversies over genocides to other areas of debate. Denial has become a kind of free-floating blasphemy, which can attach itself to a variety of issues and problems. One environmentalist writer argues that the `language of "climate change", "global warming", "human impacts" and "adaptation" are themselves a form of denial familiar from other forms of human rights abuse' (6). It seems that some people can no longer tell what a difference in opinion looks like - it's all just `denial'.

The charge of denial has become a secular form of blasphemy. A book written by an author who is sceptical of today's prevailing environmentalist wisdom was dismissed with the words: `The text employs the strategy of those who, for example, argue that gay men aren't dying of AIDS, that Jews weren't singled out by the Nazis for extermination, and so on.' (7) This forced association of three highly charged issues - pollution, AIDS, the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews - shows how denial has become an all-purpose blasphemy.

Once denial has been stigmatised, there are demands for it to be censored. Consider the current attempts to stifle anyone who questions predictions of catastrophic climate change. Such sceptics are frequently branded `global warming deniers', and their behaviour compared to that of anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers. Some advocate a policy of zero tolerance towards the climate change deniers. `I have very limited patience with those who deny human responsibility for upper-atmosphere pollution and ozone depletion', says one moral crusader, before declaring: `There is no intellectual difference between the Lomborgians [those who adhere to the arguments of the sceptic Bjorn Lomborg] who steadfastly refuse to accept the overwhelming evidence of human-caused global warming from scientists of unquestioned reputation, and the neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers' (8). The heretic is condemned because he has dared to question an authority that must never be questioned. Here, `overwhelming evidence' serves as the equivalent of revealed religious truth, and those who question `scientists of unquestioned reputation' - that is, the new priestly caste - are guilty of blasphemy. Such a conformist outlook can be found in the writings of sanctimonious British journalist, George Monbiot, who recently wrote: `Almost everywhere, climate change denial now looks as stupid and unacceptable as Holocaust denial.' (9)

Heresy-hunters who charge their opponents with `ecological denial' also warn that the `time for reason and reasonableness is running short' (10). It seems that ecological denial, refusing to embrace the environmentalist world view, makes one complicit in a long list of `eco-crimes'. Some journalists argue that, like Holocaust deniers, those who refuse to accept the sacred narrative on global warming should simply be silenced in the media. `There comes a point in journalism where striving for balance becomes irresponsible', argues CBS reporter Scott Pelley in justification of such a censorious orientation (11). From this illiberal standpoint, the media have a responsibility to silence global warming deniers by whatever means necessary.

Crusaders against denial don't only wish to silence their opponents. In the true tradition of heresy-hunting, they also want to inflict punishment on those who deny the true faith. Anyone who denies the official consensus on the spread of AIDS can be castigated as an `AIDS denier' - and `if Holocaust deniers deserve to be punished, so do Aids deniers', argues one advocate of state repression: `It is high time African governments outlawed denial of the epidemic, and persecuted those who perpetuate misinformation about AIDS or in any way undermine efforts to tackle it.' (12)

Illiberal opponents of `climate change deniers' are demanding the same. One Australian journalist wrote last year that, as `David Irving is under arrest in Austria for Holocaust denial', perhaps `there is a case for making climate change denial an offence'. Why? Because it is a `crime against humanity, after all' (13). David Roberts, a journalist for the online magazine Grist, would like to see global warming deniers prosecuted like Nazi war criminals. In a vitriolic tone characteristic of dogmatic inquisitors he argued: `We should have war crimes trials for these bastards.some sort of climate Nuremberg.' (14)

Denial, it seems, is the contemporary equivalent of what traditional religion used to classify as a sinful or dangerous idea. A long time ago, theocrats recognised that the authority of their belief system would be reinforced if they insisted that `God punishes disbelief' (15). Moreover, blasphemers had to be punished because of the evil impact their blasphemy might have on others. Today's inquisitors have adopted this approach, insisting that repressing arguments is `responsible behaviour' since it protects people from `wrong arguments' and disbelief. The transformation of denial into a taboo reflects the conformist dogmatism that is widespread today.

It's worth recalling, as Arthur Versluis reminds us in his important book The New Inquisitions, that the term heresy derives from the Greek word hairen, which means `to choose'. `A "heretic", then, is one who chooses, one who therefore exemplifies freedom of individual thought', notes Versluis (16). And what connects the Inquisition with the activities of heresy-hunters today is `perhaps the most important of all: the "crime" in question is fundamentally a "crime" of thought.' (17)

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word denial denotes the act of `asserting (of anything) to be untrue or untenable'. That is why denial has been inextricably linked to critical thought throughout the ages. Those who deny the official version of events have always faced hostility, and sometimes physical repression. Today, the word denial has become denuded of its radical and critical associations. Instead it is used as a synonym for refusing to acknowledge the truth - as in Holocaust Denial. In its colloquial and everyday usage, denial is seen as an act driven by base and dishonest motives. This draws on the psychoanalytical usage of the word. In psychoanalysis, denial means the suppression of painful and shameful recollections and experiences. In today's therapy culture, people who express views that contradict our own are often told that they are `in denial' (18). It has become a way of discrediting their viewpoint, or shutting them up.

Contemporary culture encourages the public disclosure of emotion - and it encourages the recognition and acknowledgement of others' feelings (19). In these circumstances, denial has come to be seen as a negative emotional response. One account says denial represents the refusal to `recognise a disturbing or painful reality' (20). So being in denial is the polar opposite of acknowledging pain and other uncomfortable facts. In an age that prides itself on public confessionalism, the charge of denial is a powerful expression of moral disapproval. People can be forgiven for doing drugs or drinking too much, so long as they go on a 12-step recovery programme and acknowledge their wrongdoing. Denial, on the other hand, is seen as a symptom of a destructive and dangerous personality; part of a disease that dooms the individual to behave self-destructively. According to one account, alcoholism is `the disease of denial' and `denial is the life-blood of addiction' (21). In popular culture, denial often serves as a marker for a sick mind. One self-help website informs the world that the `disease of denial kills more people every year than any other disease'. Apparently `it also maims, cripples, disables and incapacitates more people, and those close to them, than anything else' (22).

When denial is then attached to a painful historical event like the Holocaust, it ceases to be merely self-destructive and apparently becomes a threat to others, too. Denial is not simply the psychological attribute of an individual - it has become a cultural force that threatens people's wellbeing. In the domain of culture, denial has acquired powerful physical and existential attributes with apparently grave consequences for its victims. The criminalisation of denial is most developed in debates about genocide. According to Gregory Stanton, former president of Genocide Watch, denial represents the final stage in what he calls the `eight stages of genocide', and moreover it is among the `surest indicators of further genocidal massacres' (23). From this perspective, denial is not simply an act of speech; it is part of the physical act of extermination.

Therapy culture encourages people to interpret their emotional distress as being more painful and damaging than physical distress. And from this perspective, the pain caused by denial is portrayed as uniquely grave and hurtful. This is what Elie Wiesel meant when he characterised genocide denial as a `double killing', because he believes it also murders the memory of the crime. This transformation of words and metaphors into weapons of mass destruction has also become part of the green alarmists' strategy. Psychobabble about individuals in denial who cannot acknowledge the truth is cited as an explanation for why the public is not always in a state of panic about the impending environmental apocalypse. Indian journalist Mihir Shah has described it as the `environment denial syndrome' (24). Others preach that `we can intellectually accept the evidence of climate change, but we find it extremely hard to accept our responsibility for a crime of such enormity'. In this case, the deniers are condemned for refusing to accept responsibility for an enormous crime. According to George Marshall, this shows that denial is a fundamentally immoral deed. `Indeed, the most powerful evidence of our denial is the failure to even recognise that there is a moral dimension with identifiable perpetrators and victims', he argues (25).

Free speech is sacred

Is it ever legitimate to criminalise free speech? There's little doubt that people who deny or attempt to minimise the significance of the Holocaust are motivated by the basest of motives. They often believe that the wrong side won the Second World War, and they wish to rewrite history in order to legitimise Nazism. They are sometimes obsessively anti-Semitic. There are some very good reasons for taking up cudgels against those who would write concentration camps and gas chambers out of history.

But there are also some very bad reasons for crusading against Holocaust denial. One is the idea that denial offends the sensibility of Jewish survivors. Free speech cannot be free speech if people do not enjoy the right to offend their fellow citizens. The demand that we acknowledge the pain and suffering of any particular group of victims has more to do with moral policing than a desire to affirm historical truths. One critic of Holocaust denial, the author DD Guttenplan, argues that the debate is not about the minutiae of historical detail. `To fail to acknowledge the pain felt by Holocaust survivors at the negation of their own experience - or to treat such pain as a particularly Jewish problem which need not trouble anyone else - is to deny our common humanity.' (26) Perhaps. But turning history into a form of therapy designed to affirm the feelings of victims risks transforming a debate into a method of social engineering.

Some argue that Holocaust denial is a problem because, as more and more of the survivors die, there will be no one left to counter the claim that this terrible event was a myth. Others worry that young people surfing the net will inevitably encounter anti-Semitic websites and will lack the historical nous to see through the propaganda. Yet bureaucratic intervention and censorship cannot prevent such ideas from gaining people's attention. Even from a narrow pragmatic perspective, the policing of speech does not work. In the age of the internet ideas cannot be banned out of existence.

However, free speech is not a matter of pragmatic convenience; it is a fundamental democratic principle. This was recognised by the French National Assembly in 1789 when it stated: `The free communication of thought and opinion is one of the most precious rights of man; every citizen may therefore speak, write and print freely.' This right has become divisible, it seems. Western societies find it difficult to live according to their principles. Pragmatic politicians and legal theorists continually lecture us about how free speech is not an absolute right. Others claim that free speech is an overrated myth. We spend more time discussing how to curb free speech than we do extending it. And every time curbs are introduced on one form of speech, they serve as a prelude for censoring another form. Thus, the criminalisation of Holocaust denial has led to the repression of other denials of conventional wisdom.

It is particularly unfortunate that science has been mobilised to assist the policing of free thinking. Sections of the science establishment argue that the debate on global warming is finished, and that those who deny the so-called scientific consensus ought to be ostracised. But science cannot be legitimately used to close down debate. At its best, scientific research can provide us with evidence of important problems - but how society interprets that evidence is subject to controversy and debate, to political, moral and cultural factors. Every culture has something different to say about what is an acceptable level of risk, how much pain people should be expected to put up with, and about what is safe. Claims made about safe sex, child safety and environmental pollution are the product of cultural interpretation, as are the many threats to the world that apparently lie ahead. Science has some very important things to say about these problems that cannot and should not be ignored. But science does not provide the answers as to what a problem means for society, and how we should deal with it. That is why no subject should be treated as a taboo. It is also why science should not be used to end a discussion. In our search for meaning, we are entitled to argue and debate and freely express our views about everything. And in our conformist era, a healthy dose of disbelief is no bad thing.

One final point. Today's mood of intolerance towards free speech resonates with public opinion. One of the most disturbing developments of past two decades is the loss of support for freedom of speech amongst the wider public. This was confirmed in the recently published British Social Attitudes Survey, which indicated that a larger section of the British public (64 per cent) support the right of people `not to be exposed to offensive views' than support the right for people to `say what they think' (54 per cent). The report concluded that the `general public is generally less convinced about civil liberties than they were 25 years ago' (27). Only a small majority of the public takes free speech seriously. The survey also suggests that these illiberal attitudes pre-date the war on terrorism, and therefore cannot be blamed on the political atmosphere created post-9/11. That fact alone underlines the scale of the challenge facing those of us who still take freedom and liberty seriously.


23 March, 2007

Safety obsession misguided: Horseplay is an important part of child development

Playground roughhousing has long been a tradition of children and adolescents, much to the chagrin of several generations of parents who worry that their child will be hurt or worse, become accustom to violence and aggression. But animal research may paint a different portrait of rough and tumble play; one that suggests that social and emotional development may rely heavily on such peer interaction.

In an article published in the April issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, Sergio and Vivian Pellis of the University of Lethbridge reviewed multiple studies involving animals, and found a link between rough and tumble play and social competence.

For example, adult rats deprived of peer interaction, (and thus rough and tumble play), reveal an inability to comprehend the hierarchy of social structures. In the rat kingdom, when a young male attempts to establish residency in a colony, he is promptly targeted for attack by the dominant male rat. Rats that have been reared with peers quickly learn to remain crouched and motionless in such an instance in order to avoid the dominant male's attention. Play deprived rats, on the other hand, continue to scurry about which ultimately invites further serious attacks.

Coordinated movements appear to suffer in the absence of rough and tumble play as well. Rats, as most other mammals, rely heavily on coordinated movement for both cooperative (e.g. sex) and competitive (e.g. defending a piece of food) situations. Rats that are reared in isolation have impaired ability to coordinate their movements appropriately with opponents. This coordination, say the authors, can be learned through the constantly shifting body motions that take place during playfighting.

Deprivation from peer interaction appears to have neurological consequences as well. Juvenile play fighting has been found to stimulate the release of certain chemical growth factors in the cerebral cortex, an area the authors describe as the "social brain." Among the structures in the social brain is the orbitofrontal cortex, an area known to be involved in social discrimination and decision. As logic would tell us, the less growth is promoted in this area, the greater the likelihood of impaired movement coordination, perception of social cues, and the like.

But does the behavior of rats provides any insight into our own, seemingly more complex development? Apparently so, say the authors, who cite evidence that there is considerable overlap between animal and human play, particularly for play fighting. "The knowledge thus gained," writes Pellis "can provide the clues to the correlated consequences of those processes that can be studied in humans."


Why Europeans Should Support Israel

One of the most frustrating things to watch is the powerful anti-Israeli and sometimes outright anti-Semitic current that is prevalent in too much of Europe's media. Bat Ye'or's predictions about Arab anti-Semitism spreading in Europe as the continent's Islamization and descent into Eurabia continues have so far proved depressingly accurate. This trend needs to be fought, vigorously, by all serious European anti-Jihadists. Not only because it is immoral and unfair to Israelis, which it is, but also because those who assist it are depriving Europeans of the opportunity to fully grasp the threat and understand the nature of the Jihad that is now targeting much of Europe as well.

In 2005 the Norwegian police issued a mobile security alarm to Carl I. Hagen, leader of the right-wing Progress Party. Mr. Hagen had criticized Islam and could see no similarity with the concept of morality and justice found in Christianity. During the 1990s, Mr. Hagen was one of the few politicians who protested against giving money to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as a part of the Norwegian-brokered Oslo Peace Process.

Hagen said that if Israel loses in the Middle East, Europe will succumb to Islam next. He felt that Christians should support Israel and oppose Islamic inroads into Europe. In an unprecedented step, a group of Muslim ambassadors to Norway blasted Carl I. Hagen in a letter to the newspaper Aftenposten, claiming that he had offended 1.3 billion Muslims around the world. Other Norwegian politicians quickly caved in and condemned Hagen. Maybe Norway, "the country of peace" and home to the Nobel Peace Prize, will get along just fine with Islam, "the religion of peace."

Although some political leaders such as Mr. Carl I. Hagen have a clear understanding of what's going on, they are unfortunately few and far between. Most European media commentators are hostile to the Jewish state of Israel, partly because they get angry with anybody defending themselves against Islamic Jihad instead of surrendering, and partly because they want to project their own feelings of guilt from the Holocaust onto Israel by recasting the Jews as villains and the Palestinians as victims.

French filmmaker Pierre Rehov made the film Suicide Killers where he interviewed the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. He warns that we are facing "a neurosis at the level of an entire civilization," a "culture of hatred in which the uneducated are brainwashed to a level where their only solution in life becomes to kill themselves and kill others in the name of a God. I hear a mother saying `Thank God, my son is dead.' Her son had became a shaheed, a martyr, which for her was a greater source of pride than if he had became an engineer, a doctor or a winner of the Nobel Prize. [...] They don't see the innocent being killed, they only see the impure that they have to destroy." Rehov believes that we are dealing with "a new form of Nazism" that it is going to spread to Europe and the United States, too.

Spanish journalist Sebastian Villar Rodriguez claims that Europe died in Auschwitz: "We assassinated 6 million Jews in order to end up bringing in 20 million Muslims!" Yet in 2007, Ciempozuelos, a small Madrid suburb, refused to commemorate Holocaust Day and opted instead to commemorate the `Day of Palestinian Genocide.' In Britain following Muslim pressure, the Bolton Council scrapped its Holocaust Memorial Day event. The Muslim Council of Britain asked for a Genocide Day to protest the Israeli "genocide" against the Palestinians. The secretary-general of the MCB, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, has earlier compared the situation of Muslims in Britain to Jews under Hitler. We thus have the absurd situation where the Nazis of today are presented as Jews while the Jews are presented as Nazis.

French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut thinks that Auschwitz has become part of the foundation of the European Union, a culture based on guilt. "I can understand the feeling of remorse that is leading Europe to this, but this remorse goes too far." It is too great a gift to present Hitler to reject every single aspect of European culture. This is said by the Jewish son of an Auschwitz prisoner.

The Holocaust was an unspeakable crime. It also did massive damage to Europe's own identity and cultural confidence, and is one of the major causes of Europe's seeming inability to withstand the ongoing Islamic Jihad. As Hugh Fitzgerald notes, "Fortunately for so many, and for the Arabs, the victory of Israel in the Six-Day War promptly provided a reason to depict Jews as villains, not victims. This found an eager audience of Europeans, who were already eager for psychological reasons to find fault with Jews so as to avoid thinking unduly about the behavior of many European peoples and states during the war. [...] The damage done to the morale of Europe because of the destruction of European Jewry has been great. If Western Europe, or the West generally, were after all that has happened to permit Israel to go under, Europe would not recover."

He warns that those who believe sacrificing Israel would in any way stop the global Jihad are very wrong. On the contrary, "The loss of Israel would fill the Arabs and Muslims with such triumphalism that their Jihad in Western Europe and elsewhere (including the Americas) would receive a gigantic boost. The duty is to make sure that Islam covers the globe; that Islam dominates, and Muslims rule." Europeans need to understand how closely intertwined are the fates of Israel and of Europe itself. The term "Judeo-Christian" is not a cliche. We cannot defend Western civilization without defending its Jewish component, without which modern Western culture would have been unthinkable.

The religious identity of the West has two legs: The Christian and the Jewish ones. It needs both to stand upright. Sacrificing one to save the other is like fighting a battle by chopping off one of your legs, throwing it at the feet of your enemies and shouting: "You won't get the other one! We will never surrender!" We could always hope that our enemies will laugh themselves to death faster than we bleed to death, the Monty Python way of fighting. Maybe that works, but most likely it will leave us crippled and pathetic, if not dead.

I agree with Mr. Finkielkraut: To reduce absolutely everything about Europe to gas chambers, thereby allowing the Nazis the opportunity to expropriate everything that has been created during thousands of years, is to grant Adolf Hitler victory posthumously. We should not award him that pleasure, especially since what would replace Western civilization would be Islamic culture, the most warlike and anti-Semitic on earth, and greatly admired by Mr. Hitler for it.

We cannot change what has happened in the past. We should, however, consider it our duty to combat anti-Semitism in the here and now and make sure that the remaining Jews both in Europe and in Israel are safe. This is not just because it is our moral and historical obligation, which it is, but also because we only gain the right to defend ourselves against Islamization of we grant the same right to Israel. Likewise, we can only begin to heal our self-inflicted civilizational wounds if we embrace the Jewish component of our cultural identity.


Free Radical: Ayaan Hirsi Ali infuriates Muslims and discomfits liberals

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is untrammeled and unrepentant: "I am supposed to apologize for saying the prophet is a pervert and a tyrant," she declares. "But that is apologizing for the truth." Statements such as these have brought Ms. Hirsi Ali to world-wide attention. Though she recently left her adopted country, Holland--where her friend and intellectual collaborator Theo van Gogh was murdered by a Muslim extremist in 2004--she is still accompanied by armed guards wherever she travels.

Ms. Hirsi Ali was born in 1969 in Mogadishu--into, as she puts it, "the Islamic civilization, as far as you can call it a civilization." In 1992, at age 22, her family gave her hand to a distant relative; had the marriage ensued, she says, it would have been "an arranged rape." But as she was shipped to the appointment via Europe, she fled, obtaining asylum in Holland. There, "through observation, through experience, through reading," she acquainted herself with a different world. "The culture that I came to and I live in now is not perfect," Ms. Hirsi Ali says. "But this culture, the West, the product of the Enlightenment, is the best humanity has ever achieved."

Unease over Muslim immigration had been rising in the Low Countries for some time. For instance, when the gay right-wing politician Pim Fortuyn--"I am in favor of a cold war with Islam," he said, and believed the borders should be closed to Muslims--was gunned down in 2002, it was widely assumed his killer was an Islamist. There was a strange sense of relief when he turned out to be a mere animal-rights activist. Ms. Hirsi Ali brought integration issues to further attention, exposing domestic abuse and even honor killings in the Dutch-Muslim "dish cities."

In 2003, she won a seat in the parliament as a member of the center-right VVD Party, for People's Party for Freedom and Democracy. The next year, she wrote the script for a short film called "Submission." It investigated passages from the Quran that Ms. Hirsi Ali contends authorize violence against women, and did so by projecting those passages onto naked female bodies. In retrospect, she deeply regrets the outcome: "I don't think the film was worth the human life."

The life in question was that of Van Gogh, a prominent controversialist and the film's director. At the end of 2004, an Islamist named Mohammed Buyeri shot him as he was bicycling to work in downtown Amsterdam, then almost decapitated him with a curved sword. He left a manifesto impaled to the body: "I know for sure that you, Oh Hirsi Ali, will go down," was its incantation. "I know for sure that you, Oh unbelieving fundamentalist, will go down."

The shock was palpable. Holland--which has the second largest per capita population of Muslims in the EU, after France--had always prided itself on its pluralism, in which all groups would be tolerated but not integrated. The killing made clear just how apart its groups were. "Immediately after the murder," Ms. Hirsi Ali says, "we learned Theo's killer had access to education, he had learned the language, he had taken welfare. He made it very clear he knew what democracy meant, he knew what liberalism was, and he consciously rejected it. . . . He said, 'I have an alternative framework. It's Islam. It's the Quran.' "

At his sentencing, Mohammed Buyeri said he would have killed his own brother, had he made "Submission" or otherwise insulted the One True Faith. "And why?" Ms. Hirsi Ali asks. "Because he said his god ordered him to do it. . . . We need to see," she continues, "that this isn't something that's caused by special offense, the right, Jews, poverty. It's religion."

Ms. Hirsi Ali was forced into living underground; a hard-line VVD minister named Rita Verdonk, cracking down on immigration, canceled her citizenship for misstatements made on her asylum application--which Ms. Hirsi Ali had admitted years before and justified as a means to win quicker admission at a time of great personal vulnerability. The resulting controversy led to the collapse of Holland's coalition government. Ms. Hirsi Ali has since decamped for America--in effect a political refugee from Western Europe--to take up a position with the American Enterprise Institute. But the crisis, she says, is "still simmering underneath and it might erupt--somewhere, anywhere."

That partly explains why Ms. Hirsi Ali's new autobiography, "Infidel," is already a best seller. It may also have something to do with the way she scrambles our expectations. In person, she is modest, graceful, enthralling. Intellectually, she is fierce, even predatory: "We know exactly what it is about but we don't have the guts to say it out loud," she says. "We are too weak to take up our role. The West is falling apart. The open society is coming undone."

Many liberals loathe her for disrupting an imagined "diversity" consensus: It is absurd, she argues, to pretend that cultures are all equal, or all equally desirable. But conservatives, and others, might be reasonably unnerved by her dim view of religion. She does not believe that Islam has been "hijacked" by fanatics, but that fanaticism is intrinsic in Islam itself: "Islam, even Islam in its nonviolent form, is dangerous."

The Muslim faith has many variations, but Ms. Hirsi Ali contends that the unities are of greater significance. "Islam has a very consistent doctrine," she says, "and I define Islam as I was taught to define it: submission to the will of Allah. His will is written in the Quran, and in the hadith and Sunna. What we are all taught is that when you want to make a distinction between right and wrong, you follow the prophet. Muhammad is the model guide for every Muslim through time, throughout history."

This supposition justifies, in her view, a withering critique of Islam's most holy human messenger. "You start by scrutinizing the morality of the prophet," and then ask: "Are you prepared to follow the morality of the prophet in a society such as this one?" She draws a connection between Mohammed's taking of child brides and modern sexual oppressions--what she calls "this imprisonment of women." She decries the murder of adulteresses and rape victims, the wearing of the veil, arranged marriages, domestic violence, genital mutilation and other contraventions of "the most basic freedoms." These sufferings, she maintains, are traceable to theological imperatives. "People say it is a bad strategy," Ms. Hirsi Ali says forcefully. "I think it is the best strategy. . . . Muslims must choose to follow their rational capacities as humans and to follow reason instead of Quranic commands. At that point Islam will be reformed."

This worldview has led certain critics to dismiss Ms. Hirsi Ali as a secular extremist. "I have my ideas and my views," she says, "and I want to argue them. It is our obligation to look at things critically." As to the charges that she is an "Enlightenment fundamentalist," she points out, rightly, that people who live in democratic societies are not supposed to settle their disagreements by killing one another.

And yet contemporary democracies, she says, accommodate the incitement of such behavior: "The multiculturalism theology, like all theologies, is cruel, is wrongheaded, and is unarguable because it is an utter dogmatism. . . . Minorities are exempted from the obligations of the rest of society, so they don't improve. . . . With this theory you limit them, you freeze their culture, you keep them in place."

The most grievous failing of the West is self-congratulatory passivity: We face "an external enemy that to a degree has become an internal enemy, that has infiltrated the system and wants to destroy it." She believes a more drastic reaction is required: "It's easy," she says, "to weigh liberties against the damage that can be done to society and decide to deny liberties. As it should be. A free society should be prepared to recognize the patterns in front of it, and do something about them."

She says the West must begin to think long term about its relationship with Islam--because the Islamists are. Ms. Hirsi Ali notes Muslim birth rates are vastly outstripping those elsewhere (particularly in Western Europe) and believes this is a conscious attempt to extend the faith. Muslims, she says, treat women as "these baby-machines, these son-factories. . . . We need to compete with this," she goes on. "It is a totalitarian method. The Nazis tried it using women as incubators, literally to give birth to soldiers. Islam is now doing it. . . . It is a very effective and very frightening way of dealing with human beings."

All of this is profoundly politically incorrect. But for this remarkable woman, ideas are not abstractions. She forces us back to first principles, and she punctures complacencies. These ought to be seen as virtues, even by those who find some of Ms. Hirsi Ali's ideas disturbing or objectionable. Society, after all, sometimes needs to be roused from its slumbers by agitators who go too far so that others will go far enough.



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.


22 March, 2007

UK: Red nose ban

Health and safety chiefs have banned guests at Comic Relief Does Fame Academy from wearing red noses. Producers planned to give the soft foam noses to contestants' friends and family during the live shows. But officials at London's historic County Hall feared the noses may be a fire risk, reports the Daily Mirror.

A show insider said: "It's a bit ridiculous to stop adults in the audience from wearing red noses. "It's a shame because the show is to raise money and it might have encouraged more people to go out and buy the noses if they saw them on telly."

A spokeswoman for show-makers Endemol said: "It is true red noses are not allowed - but neither are newspapers, bottles, bags and all manner of other items. "We are filming in a Grade II listed building and anything that is a potential fire risk or can cause damage when dropped is not allowed. We are working with essential equipment only."


Hollywood Hasn't a Clue

by Arlene Peck

Sometimes, I think I'm talking to the wall when I seek to educate the Hollywood crowd in the hope of somehow getting them to realize that we are in a war. We're facing a real war, with an enemy who wants to actually kill us. If the Islamist savages had their druthers, we'd all be beheaded or living in submission to whatever it is that they think is Allah's will.

Actually, I think that we, in the US, are so soft that we have no concept of what terror is. In the star-studded surroundings in which I live, I am usually astounded at the utter lack of comprehension of what is facing us. When I say "us," it's a collective thing - Jew, Christian, Buddhist, white, black or purple. If you're not one of them, the Islamists want us dead.

Theirs is a culture that thrives on, and lives for, death. It's difficult to face the reality of terror when you live in a home with security systems and bodyguards behind gated walls. Most of us don't know what it's like to walk outside and find the car gone, or up on blocks with the wheels gone. For sure, we can't imagine catching a bus on which someone is riding next to us with a bomb under his or her coat. With the Hollywood crowd, everything is "over there." The media gives coverage to people who make their livings pretending to be someone else. And courage in Hollywood is getting up the guts to ask for another five or ten million dollars for a picture.

I tend to speak in basic terms. Some have even dared to call me "politically incorrect," and frankly, I don't give a diddly-squat. The people out here, and probably most people around our wonderful country, don't have a clue as to the dangers lurking. I tell it like I see it, folks; and Hollywood, as I know it, is oblivious to the real terror. Their version of a "terror attack" would be when the mechanic for their new Lexus goes back to visit family in Tijuana, or the hair stylist moves without leaving a forwarding address. A shortage of Botox would be a major disaster. Frankly, I find it difficult to work with people who have no sense of mission. Out here, the only "mission" that I see concerns whether the agent called with an audition.

To tell the truth, I think I'd rather deal with the stupid than the indifferent. Although I truly think that most of those living around me have the IQ of an eggplant when it comes to realizing the immediate danger we're facing, there is an off chance that they can be educated. How do I get them to see that they cry for endangered baby seals and dolphins at peril in the sea, yet ignore that men treat their farm animals better than the women in many Middle Eastern countries? Somehow, Hollywood cannot grasp the significance of 'honor killings' when one of these women is raped. In sick, evil minds, this brings shame to the family and, naturally, the victim must be killed.

I am surrounded by an elite group of stars who have fashion shows for children, yet somehow fail to see that there is a culture that glorifies sexual contact with infants and "marrying" children less than ten years old. Worse, Hollywood holds major fund-raisers for the new boy on the horizon with an educational background in a Wahabee school - that scares the begeeses out of me. Obama for President?

Yet, folks, it's even more heartbreaking to see that Israel is floundering, having lost the fire in her belly. Until the past few years, I may have been upset and angry with Israel's leadership, which I saw was becoming increasingly more corrupt and incompetent, but it's difficult to have any warm fuzzy feelings when the President of Israel is suspected of rape. Ehud Olmert, the Prime Minister, has a stack of charges for which he is being investigated; the least of which should be gross incompetence. No one trusts the candidate in the running for Commissioner of Police. Who else? Oh, the Tax Commissioner is on the verge of being charged for criminal activity and has already resigned. Did I leave anybody out? Oops. Let's not forget the chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee being investigated, as probably most of the Knesset ought to be.

It's bigger than George Bush or Dick Cheney or Olmert's thirst for power and greed combined. I never once felt that the Jews of Israel wavered in their commitment. And, because of that and despite the distance, it was easy for me to think and respond to the Jewish State as if I was an "American-born Israeli." When living there, I found it amazing how even the secular Jews were proud to be Jewish. They cherished their Jewishness to the core. Because they were proud to be Jewish, so was I. I was ecstatic to be part of that. It was that sense of purpose that made us all feel that we were one people.

That's why, after going to a few breakfast meetings with some powerful ministers and good old down home preachers, interspersed with some well-known rabbis, I was also delighted to see that there is now a Christian-Israel nexus in place, with both of these communities working together to face the serious issues that concern us. This is an annex of the organization that I have named "Hollywood Against Terrorism". I figured, this way, you could be a red or blue state. It would be possible to be either Right or Left, with the blandness of the title. However, the mission isn't bland.

For some reason, the people in Hollywood are listened to. Why, I'm not too sure, as I've rarely found anyone here familiar with the problems facing us, or well educated or well traveled enough to know the situation enough to discuss it.

Just to give you an idea of what a coma they exist in, I'll tell you about a lovely lady I recently had on my television show. She is a very big soap star and truly a caring person who works selflessly on several organizations, and even travels to Africa every year to bring a child back for heart surgery. Yet, when I tried to get her to put her name on the list of concerned celebrities, she looked blankly at me and said, "I don't think so. I'd really like to help but it's really not my thing."

Her "thing"? She, and the rest of us, better start making it our "thing" or we're lost.

For years, I have been writing in my columns that we better pay attention and accept the fact that nothing that has been going on in the Islamic `crusade' - which seems to have exacerbated over the past ten or 15 years - has anything to do with Israel (other than the pure hatred that Muslims, as taught from Islamic texts, have for the Jews). And now, the Islamists are openly showing that the Christians are also in their sights. For that matter, so is any other group that doesn't grovel at the foot of their prophet, Mohammad


Free-range children a product of family evolution

Parents shouldn't lay all the blame on unscrupulous marketers and the media for the rising sophistication of their tweens. OH how we love to bitch and moan about the age of the evil Ms: merchandise, media and marketing. We're all agreed the Ms undermine family values, inculcate materialism and feed off our avaricious, competitive natures. Their effects are disastrous, especially when it comes to our vulnerable children. Yet we're like moths to the flame, lemmings to the cliff. While we're busy ranting about our heavily commercialised culture, we're hitting the malls in throngs, buying our children everything they ask for and drowning in debt to keep up with the Joneses' kids. Our suspicious minds are caught in a trap; we are at once cynic and sucker, blaming the bastards and yet buying into it all. And nowhere is this more apparent than in discussion about tweens.

If you believe media analysts, the concept of a tween was created a couple of decades ago by Machiavellian marketers who saw that children aged between six and 12 could be more fully exploited. All these shysters needed was a clever spin on the youthful aspiration to be grown up. And so ensued the demise of childhood as we knew it. One minute our eight-year-olds were healthy innocents, contentedly playing with sexless Kens and Barbies, viewing nothing worse than Skippy. The next they were overweight, prematurely sexualised, brand-name junkies, addicted to screen-based games and fanatics for the cult of celebrity. The tween was born and now it's all gone too far for us to pull it back. We throw our hands in the air. Damn the Ms.

The truth, if we can handle it, is that marketers don't work in a cultural void. The opportunity to cash in on tweens has its origins in the post-1960s evolution in family relationships. With divorce becoming an acceptable option and growing opportunities for women in the work force, children in this age group were being given more responsibility for their own care. They were starting to make decisions about their social lives, their homework routines, their sporting and other extracurricular commitments, their personal hygiene and their food consumption.

Old ideas of strict discipline and hierarchical structure within the family were being tossed out in favour of friendship-based relationships, and parents accorded their children equal rights within the family. At the same time a guilt factor was coming into play. Keenly aware that their children may be lacking quality time with their elders, parents became more likely to acquiesce to their children's demands, spend more money on their children and give their children more money to spend on themselves.

Enter personal computers and the internet. Children of this age group were uninhibited about screen-based games and new forms of communication. They accepted and appreciated the ways in which technology took them well beyond their neighbourhood, gave them freedom of information and allowed them to form different kinds of relationships with their peers.

Parents were slower to come to grips with this new era, giving children yet another layer of control over their own lives. As the authority and influence of the family decreased, the authority and influence of peers weighed in more heavily. Traditionally it wasn't until the teen years - 13 onwards - that the approval of friends became vital. That convention was shifting: children at a younger age were becoming seriously concerned with being "in". These pre-adolescents were sitting ducks for a teen spin on their toys, clothes, music and other merchandise. A new echelon of consumers had arisen: free-range children, highly dependent on the opinion of their peers, equipped with the technology to influence each other and with money to spend. It was a marketing bonanza, a vein to be mined.

Tweens, then, are not merely a commercial construct, the outcome of a malevolent marketing campaign waged against innocent, vulnerable bystanders. They are the result of decades of significant change in Western society, the reshaping of family dynamics along with the widening reach of media, technology and marketing.

While we bleat about the loss of traditional childhoods, let's remember that the traits of tweenhood - consumer sophistication, technological ability, a need to be part of the in-crowd and an assumption of equal rights in family decision-making - have evolved in response to the time-poor, information-rich, commercially motivated political environment that we sustain.

Modern children are multi-tasking and media-saturated. The influences external to family are unprecedented and unmapped. This is tough on parents. Maintaining codes of conduct and instilling core values in articulate, opinionated, technologically adept, consumer-savvy tweens is a whole new ball game. Perhaps we find it easier to blame marketers for the demise of a childhood that is no longer relevant than to take responsibility for the children we now have


Liberalism a luxury during war

IN one of the more compelling episodes of The West Wing, filmed after the September 11 terrorist attacks, Democratic president Jed Bartlet is confronted by a harrowing decision. Should he authorise the assassination of a minister of the government of Qumar, a fictional Arab nation, who moonlights as a terrorist mastermind and is involved in a foiled attempt to blow up the Golden Gate Bridge? Like any good Democrat, Jed is troubled. Let’s bring him to court, he says. Can’t happen, responds Leo McGarry, the tough-minded chief of staff. He tells the president: “This is the most devastating part of your liberalism. There are no absolutes.”

Dramatic television assassinations aside, McGarry’s observation is especially poignant as the long war against Islamist terrorism unfolds. Recalibrating the balance between individual freedom and national security is a hotly debated issue. And rightly so.

The post-Cold War peace has given rise to a comfortable and complacent liberalism, a liberalism that caused what the 9/11 commission report called a “failure of imagination” in understanding Islamist terrorism. A liberalism that means many of us are uneasy at the means required to confront an enemy almost as deadly, if less conventional, as the 20th-century totalitarians. Interrogations, Guantanamo Bay, military commissions and new anti-terrorism laws aimed at home-grown jihadists are part of a post-September 11 world.

That world means enduring endless fury from those who talk of moral absolutes, refusing to acknowledge the true nature of terrorism and trying to stoke our liberal unease. Whichever way you cut it, the civil libertarians do the bidding of terrorists when they cling to the halcyon days of peace without threats. Close down Guantanamo Bay? Excellent news for the infidel killers. Junk the military commission? Even better. Overturn anti-terrorism laws? Great news for those in our suburbs plotting our destruction. Claiming the high moral ground, the Law Council of Australia and its confreres say it’s all done in the name of individual liberty and justice, of course.

The problem is that using perfect justice - a Rolls-Royce legal system beloved of the legal lobby - for terrorists means treating them like ordinary criminals. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is proof why that can no longer apply. His confessions last week suggest he is the Mr Big of terrorism. Arrested in Pakistan in 2003, KSM has admitted to 29 terrorist plots ranging from September 11 to beheading American journalist Daniel Pearl, assassination attempts against Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter (just proving that Democrats are also infidels), Pope John Paul II, bombing the nightclub in Bali, planning second-wave attacks in the US and Australia. Now, maybe KSM is just an Islamist braggart who figures if you’re going to meet your maker and a bevy of blessed virgins, better to beef up your CV. But boasting aside, KSM is evil.

Yet sure enough, out came the claims that the guy confessed under duress because he has been detained for years, most recently at Guantanamo Bay. As one American pundit told ABC radio, Gitmo is the problem. (Right about now, we’re due to see a photo of KSM as an angelic nine-year-old.) Actually, Gitmo is part of the solution of keeping enemy combatants off the battlefield. Back in 2004, in Hamdi v Rumsfeld, the US Supreme Court affirmed the US Government’s right to capture and detain, without criminal charge or trial, enemy combatants until hostilities cease.

We don’t know what happened to KSM during his detention. In his evidence to the Combatant Status Review Tribunal, he claimed mistreatment. But he also said his confession to that tribunal was not coerced. If you still think the confession is bollocks, go to the evidence amassed by US authorities, as outlined in paragraphs (a) to (v) of the unclassified transcript of the tribunal’s proceedings released last week.

A computer hard drive seized when KSM was captured contained information about the four planes hijacked on 9/11, including codenames, flight numbers, pilots’ names, hijackers’ names, photographs of the hijackers, pilot licence fees for Mohammed Atta, images of passports, chat sessions with hijackers, letters to Osama bin Laden, spreadsheets of financial assistance to families of al-Qa’ida members. And on it goes.

When asked which bits of evidence he disputed, KSM quibbled about only four points. He denied receiving funds from Kuwait or telling al-Jazeera TV that he headed al-Qa’ida’s military committee. And he objected to all those paragraphs of evidence, preferring they be rolled into one “to avoid creating the false perception that there are more allegations against me specifically than there actually are”. Oh, and he pointed out that his name was misspelled. OK, let’s concede the paragraphs, perceptions and spelling mistakes. KSM is still a grade-A terrorist.

And so, fortunately, Guantanamo Bay is home for this enemy combatant for some time to come. Just as it has been for David Hicks. Those who continually cry “Too long” have missed the problem here. There is a war on. Peacetime justice does not work in a time of war. US ambassador Robert McCallum has revealed that of the 335 detainees released from Gitmo to date, about a dozen have been recaptured or killed after they resumed playing Jihad Joe on the battlefields in Afghanistan or Iraq. It’s a dangerous mistake. These guys don’t reform like your run-of-the-mill peacetime criminal.

The other apparatus constantly disputed by the peacetime justice advocates is the US military commission. And just watch the criticism heat up with Hicks, due to be arraigned next week. So let’s go back to what the US Supreme Court said last year in Hamdan v Rumsfeld. The court held, unanimously, that military commissions are a lawful means of trying and punishing those captured during the war on terror. The court struck down the original commission on the basis that congressional authority was needed if the commission’s procedures differed from those of ordinary courts martial. So the US Congress has approved a new military commission conforming to that Supreme Court ruling.

It won’t satisfy the Hicks supporters. These people rally against measures aimed at boosting national security the moment individual freedoms are curtailed. It’s a trade-off most of us accept. We know freedoms are not absolute.

Terrorists are not ad hoc robbers planning a bank heist. Their aim is to kill us. Lots of us. Taking them at their word means adjusting our liberalism. Failing that, our liberalism will be our downfall.



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.


21 March, 2007

French High Court Affirms Lower Courts' Rejection of homosexual `Marriage'

Declares that "under French law, marriage is a union between a man and a woman."

Yesterday, France's highest court upheld the decision of a lower court and rejected the 2004 `marriage' of two homosexual men. The court declared the marriage annulled declaring that "under French law, marriage is a union between a man and a woman."

In 2004, Noel Mamere, Mayor of the Bordeaux suburb of Begles, illegally `married' the two men despite a prior warning from then President Jean-Pierre Raffarin that "any elected official who does not respect the law in this matter. will be exposed to the sanctions provided for by the law." Mam‚re ignored both the law and the warning and carried out the ceremony. The state prosecutor immediately initiated annulment proceedings for the `marriage' and Mam‚re was publicly criticized by several political figures and received a month long suspension of his mayoral duties as punishment.

Previous attempts by the homosexual couple to appeal the annulment in lower courts have also ended in rejection. Among other reasons, lower courts have argued that unmarried couples - both homosexual and heterosexual - already enjoy many privileges usually reserved to married couples, according to 1999 legislation which legalized civil unions, known as Partes Civil de Solidarit‚ (PacS). The PacS legislation allowed unmarried couples to share certain welfare and employment benefits, file joint tax returns, and enter into property agreements together.

As in other parts of the world, gay `marriage' is currently a hot and controversial topic of debate in France but even more so as French citizens face their upcoming presidential election in April of this year.

The two front-runners in the race, conservative Nicolas Sark”zy, leader of the Union for a Popular Movement party and S‚golŠne Royal, member of the left-wing Socialist party have waged many of their campaign battles around the issue. Sark”zy has vowed that, should his party win, he would affirm current French law that outlaws gay `marriage' and forbids homosexual adoption of children. Royal on the other hand, in a complete change from her previous "no gay-marriage" stance, has rallied the gay rights community by promising to legalize gay marriage and adoption.

As previously reported by LifeSiteNews.com, a commission formed by the President of the French National Assembly advised in 2006 that, despite recognition of the fact that the French concept of family has become "more diverse and less institutionalized", homosexual marriage and adoption and artificial procreation for homosexual couples should not be permitted under French law.

The purpose of the commission, entitled Information Mission, was to investigate where, if at all, French law should be updated to better protect the rights of children and to reflect changes in the French family. The commission spent a full year in an attempt to give complete attention to all viewpoints on the matter. The final report argued that, with gay marriage would necessarily come gay adoption because "Marriage is not merely the contractual recognition of the love between a couple; it is a framework that imposes rights and duties, and that is designed to provide for the care and harmonious development of the child."

The commission also concluded that, due to the procreative nature of marriage, natural marriage must be preserved. "This corresponds to a biological reality, that same-sex couples are naturally infertile, and to an imperative, that of helping the child develop his/her identity as necessarily coming from the union of a man and a woman."

In its conclusions, the commission publicized their findings saying that their ultimate decision to advise against gay marriage and adoption was "to affirm and protect children's rights and the primacy of those rights over adults' aspirations."


Vote to stop homosexual-rights law, bishops told

Bishops of the Church of England are being urged by their flock to turn out en masse on Wednesday for the Lords debate on equal rights for gay couples wishing to adopt. In an open letter sent to all the diocesan bishops of the Church, more than one fifth of the lay members of the General Synod urge the 26 bishops in the Lords to help to overturn the Sexual Orientation Regulations at its final vote. Many peers and MPs from across all parties are unhappy with the way the changes to adoption law have been processed through Parliament. Hundreds of Christians are expected to turn up for a peaceful protest vigil outside Parliament on Wednesday during the debate.

The Roman Catholic Church has led the campaign against the regulations, which could put its adoption agencies out of business because it would flout Catholic teaching for them to accept public funding to facilitate gay adoption.

Protesters also fear the regulations will compromise the teaching programmes in faith schools, which will not be exempt. They are warning of "substantial danger" that it will be illegal under the regulations for faith schools to continue to teach that sex outside marriage is wrong.

If the bishops are successful in persuading the Lords to defeat the regulations, it is certain to fuel the Government's determination to press for a 100 per cent elected chamber. If bishops were included, it would be with a nominal role only, without voting rights. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, told The Times that if the Lords reforms went ahead on this basis, the Church of England should press for disestablishment.

In their letter, more than 40 members of the General Synod quote the present Archbishop, Dr Rowan Williams, as saying: "We in the UK do not have anything like this history of top-down rule by regulation. "We have in practice taken for granted that the State is not the source of morality and legitimacy but a system that brokers, mediates and attempts to coordinate the moral resources of those specific communities, the merely local and the credal or issue-focused, which actually make up the national unit. "This is a `secular' system in the sense that it does not impose legal and civil disabilities on any one religious body; but it is not secular in the sense of giving some kind of privilege to a nonreligious or antireligious set of commitments or policies. Moving towards the latter would change our political culture more radically than we imagine."

The lay members continue: "Given the great significance of this vote, many people would understand that the responsibility that Bishops undertake as members of the House of Lords requires them on such occasions to vary their crowded timetable in order to attend the debate. "Many Christians will be praying outside Parliament at the same time, giving up other activities that could rightly claim their attention. "We also note the spirited defence made last week of the role of the Bishops in the House of Lords by the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Chelmsford. Important substance would be given to their words if all the Bishops in the Lords were to attend to vote."The regulations were dealt with last week by a House of Commons committee of 16 MPs, which met for 90 minutes. Christian protesters are complaining that even the MPs on the committee itself had been appointed just 15 hours before it met and the room arranged for the debate was so small that there was not enough room for all the MPs.

Observers present reported that the meeting started in confusion and that only four MPs were allowed to speak on the regulations before the vote was passed in favour. Eleanor Laing, the Tory MP, supported the Regulations and said that "her brand of Christianity" preached "live and let live". On Wednesday Baroness Andrews will move that the draft regulations be approved. The aim of the regulations is to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in relation to providing goods, services, facilities, premises, education and public functions.


Ga. Senate panel OKs Confederate month

A panel of Georgia lawmakers signed off Thursday on a plan to create a Confederate heritage month, even as legislative leaders reacted coolly to a push to apologize for the state's role in slavery. Sen. Jeff Mullis' bill would dub April as Confederate History and Heritage Month to honor the memory of the Confederacy and "all those millions of its citizens of various races and ethnic groups and religions who contributed in sundry and myriad ways to the cause of Southern Independence."

The unanimous vote by the Senate Rules committee - which sent the plan on to the full Senate for consideration - comes days after black lawmakers announced plans to ask the state to officially apologize for its role in slavery and segregation-era laws. Virginia's legislature last month passed a resolution expressing "profound regret" for the state's role in slavery, and lawmakers in Missouri and Congress have proposed similar measures.

Democratic Rep. Tyrone Brooks, chairman of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, said it's discouraging to see the Confederate month proposal moving ahead after leaders of the Republican-controlled House and Senate said they're not in favor of apologizing for slavery. "Georgia needs to recognize and apologize and atone for its part in the slave trade, as Virginia has done," Brooks said. "Until we do, I think there will continue to be resistance from African-Americans and others who are serving in the General Assembly" to efforts like Confederate month.

Mullis, a Republican, said his bill was not a response to the slavery-apology movement. "I'm from Chickamauga, so it seemed pretty appropriate for me to do something to commemorate the War Between the States," Mullis said. His family owned land at the site of the Battle of Chickamauga, the Civil War's second-bloodiest battle and the South's last major victory. Mullis has supported efforts to create a Civil Rights History Month in Georgia but opposes a slavery apology. "If I had done something personally, yes, I would apologize," he said.

The state's branch of the NAACP called the push for a Confederate month hypocritical. "Although the supporters of the Confederate history bill feel responsible to honor the past deeds of their ancestors through official governmental action, they resist all notions that they have any responsibility to apologize to their ancestors' victims through official governmental action," said Edward Dubose, president of the group's Georgia chapter. "That reeks of hypocrisy."

Brooks, who said black lawmakers plan to officially introduce their slavery legislation next week, said he hopes Mullis' bill at least will encourage discussion. He said he's not necessarily against the idea of a Confederate month - as long as similar recognition is given to the state's black history. "All of Georgia's history should be promoted and respected and highlighted," he said. "Hopefully this will lead us into some meaningful dialogue."


Australia: Extremists take over mosque

HARDLINE international students have wrested control of a major NSW mosque, ousting the local cleric amid accusations the group is rapidly converting followers to extremist Islam. Up to 150 university students from Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Egypt who follow the fundamentalist Wahabbism ideology were central to the overthrow at the weekend of the executive board of the Newcastle Muslim Association.

Deposed association president Yunus Kara yesterday accused the students of pushing for new leadership of the port city's mosque in order to advance their own extremist agenda and continue "brainwashing" local Muslims. "The international students have used their puppets to come forward and dictate," Mr Kara told The Australian. "They're driving them to whatever ideology that (suits them). Their ideology is extremism ... but they teach under the banner of Islam."

But the association's newly elected treasurer, Michael Cawley, denied the claims of the ousted leadership, accusing them of labelling opponents Wahabbis. Mr Cawley, a convert, said the international students were merely visitors to the mosque and had no control over the new leadership. "Basically, what happened is anyone who didn't agree with the (former) president's point of view were labelled Wahabbi," said Mr Cawley. "It's unfair."

Newcastle Mosque's deposed imam, Bilal Kanj, who was also voted out on the weekend, said while the students openly denied their Wahabbi beliefs and radical Koranic interpretations, they were converting people during prayer group meetings and other religious gatherings. "If you were to ask them, they will deny they're Wahabbi," said the Australian-born cleric, who moved to Newcastle three months ago to work as a full-time spiritual leader. "They play it very discreetly. We've been studying them all of our life and we know how to spot them very easily."

Mr Kara said the international students were aged between 20 and 30, and were known to make home visits to members of the port city's 600-strong Muslim population to preach their beliefs. This home preaching may suggest that the appointment of a new imam is not an immediate priority of the new leadership. Mr Kara said radical students have gathered more support over the past two years after they began to flock the mosque in larger numbers. He said an absence of proper religious leadership at Newcastle mosque over the past 30 years -- prior to Sheik Bilal's appointment - also meant the students could exploit the void to spread their own ideologies.

Sheik Bilal said the students were becoming more proficient at spreading their isolationist messages. "During my presence here it was very, very quick," he said. "Because they went really, really hard with (preaching) their beliefs." Sheik Bilal said the students were becoming popular with the locals by adopting name-and-shame tactics, spreading lies about the town's moderate Muslim leadership.


20 March, 2007


Muslim cashiers at some local Target stores who object to ringing up products that contain pork are being shifted to other positions where they don't need to, the discount retailer said Saturday.

The Star Tribune reported this past week that some Muslim cashiers at local Targets had declined to scan pork products such as bacon because doing so would conflict with their religious beliefs. They would ask other cashiers to ring up such purchases, or sometimes customers would scan those items themselves, the newspaper reported.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. has now offered its local Muslim cashiers who object to handling pork the option of wearing gloves while cashiering, shifting to other positions or transferring to other nearby stores.

More here

Homosexual Fairy Tales Anger Christians/Muslims In UK

Parents in Britain are angered over the nationwide plan to teach children as young as four about homosexuality through fairy tales and children's books. The plan, "No Outsiders" is being backed by the Department of Education and is designed to help schools adjust to a new law mandating the affirming of homosexual conduct in Britain's schools. The law goes into effect later this year.

One school is already using the fairytale, "King & King" to tell the story of a prince who rejects three princesses before falling in love and marrying another prince. A school in London is having children ages 4 to 11 rehearsing for a performance of an opera called "The Sissy Duckling," about a duckling who loves cooking, cleaning and art.

Stephen Green, director of the British group Christian Voice, is angered by the new program. "This is tantamount to child abuse. The whole project is nothing more than propaganda aimed at primary school children to make them sympathetic to homosexuality." Green also noted that the program could expose children to sexual predators by making them think "that two boys fiddling with each other ... is perfectly normal. "Parents should be able to have the peace of mind of knowing that school is a safe place. And to have their children indoctrinated with pro-homosexual propaganda is an abuse of the trust parent place in schools," said Green.

Tahir Alam, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain also expressed concern about the teachings. "Why are we introducing these ideas to such young children. A lot of parent will be very concerned about the exposure of their children to such books, which are contrary to their religious beliefs and values."


The sound of silence

On Feb. 20, The A.P. reported from Afghanistan that a suicide attacker disguised as a health worker blew himself up near "a crowd of about 150 people who had gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open an emergency ward at the main government hospital in the city of Khost." A few days later, at a Baghdad college, a female Sunni suicide bomber blew herself up amid students who were ready to sit for exams, killing 40 people.

Stop and think for a moment how sick this is. Then stop for another moment and listen to the silence. The Bush team is mute. It says nothing, because it has no moral authority. No one would listen. Mr. Bush is losing a P.R. war to people who blow up emergency wards. Europeans are mute, lost in their delusion that this is all George Bush's and Tony Blair's fault.

But worst of all, Muslims, the very people whose future is being killed, are also mute. No surge can work in Iraq unless we have a "moral surge," a counternihilism strategy that delegitimizes suicide bombers. The most important restraints are cultural, societal and religious. It takes a village - but the Arab-Muslim village today is largely silent. The best are indifferent or intimidated; the worst quietly applaud the Sunnis who kill Shiites.

Nobody in the Arab world "has the guts to say that what is happening in Iraq is wrong - that killing schoolkids is wrong," said Mamoun Fandy, director of the Middle East program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. "People somehow think that killing Iraqis is good because it will stick it to the Americans, so Arabs are undermining the American project in Iraq by killing themselves."

The world worries about highly enriched uranium, but "the real danger is highly enriched Islam," Mr. Fandy added. That is, "highly enriched Sunnism" and "highly enriched Shiism" that eats away at the Muslim state, the way Hezbollah is trying to do in Lebanon or the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or Al Qaeda everywhere.

One result: there's no legitimate, decent, accepted source of Arab-Muslim authority today, no center of gravity "for people to anchor their souls in," Mr. Fandy said. In this welter of confusion, the suicide bombers go uncondemned or subtly extolled.

Arab nationalist media like Al Jazeera "practically tell bin Laden and his followers, `Bravo,' " Mr. Fandy said. "The message sent to bin Laden is that `You are doing to the West what we want done, but we can't do it.' This is the hidden message that the West is not privy to. Unless extreme pressure is applied on Muslims all over the world to come up with counter-fatwas and pronounce these men as pariahs, very little will happen in fighting terrorism."

"The battleground in the Arab world today is not in Palestine or Lebanon, but in the classrooms and newsrooms," Mr. Fandy concluded. That's where "the software programmers" reside who create symbolic images and language glorifying suicide bombers and make their depraved acts look legitimate. Only other Arab-Muslim programmers can defeat them.



Mercer was sacked 10 days ago as his party's homeland security spokesman, after having given an interview to a Times Online journalist about life in the army, an institution in which he served for half of his 50 years, before he became an MP in 2001. During this ill-fated and deeply regretted conversation, Mercer announced that it was not unheard of for ethnic minority soldiers to be called such things as "black bastard" - just as obese squaddies would occasionally be referred to as "fat bastards". Mercer said both insults were equally tantamount to bullying and quite unacceptable. He also said he'd come across plenty of black soldiers who had howled "racial prejudice" when upbraided for their indolence or uselessness.

All of this stuff was, when published, deemed either "offensive" or "racist" or both by his party bosses, despite, when you read the quotes in context, it is plainly neither. Anyway, he insists the interview was off the record and he harbours a fair amount of bitterness towards the journalist (hitherto a family friend) who none-theless gleefully wrote the whole thing up.

Within hours he had been sacked by David Cameron without being given much of a chance to explain his side of things. At the time, he said he agreed with the decision to sack him. Time, though, has perhaps ever so slightly altered this perspective....

It is not inconceivable that he could one day cross the floor of the house - though, despite his present rancour, I wouldn't bet on it. What he is most definitely not, though, is metropolitan. Not being properly metropolitan effectively got him sacked. "Politicians have got to understand that people outside of London view the world differently from those who live in the capital. They think very different things. And you need the votes of the people outside London to win a general election. It is a different world out there."

In his constituency of Newark, in rural Nottinghamshire, he says he has been "astonished" and "overwhelmed" by the support he has received in the wake of his abrupt defenestration. The local party, I'm told from elsewhere, has taken down the photographs of David Cameron from its walls. The e-mails have poured in - some 2,500, according to Mercer. "And were any of them critical of what you said?" I ask. "Yes. Seven of them. Actually six, because one chap e-mailed me again to apologise and retract his criticism." Do you think that what you said was wrong? "No, God no, not wrong. But I phrased it clumsily, I think." You would stand by your assertion that calling someone a black bastard and a fat bastard are just about equal in their manifest unpleasantness? "Yes, of course. They're both bullying, they're both hurtful. No real difference."

Mercer is certainly not a racist; his record, as a colonel in the Sherwood Foresters, was of incessant and successful recruitment within the area's black and Asian community. At one point, all five of his company sergeant-majors - recruited and promoted by Mercer - were black. Leroy Hutchinson, who served as a corporal under Mercer, said: "He never tolerated racism. Not a single one of his men would consider him a racist."

So, it is not racism that has done for Patrick Mercer's career. It is something altogether more damaging and corrosive to modern politics: candour. This is not the first time that he has been frustrated to the point of exasperation by punishment being meted out to people who speak what they believe to be the truth, in an unvarnished manner. "It's one thing I learnt from being in the army. You speak clearly and unambiguously, directly and without obfuscation. Then people understand what you mean. In politics, the reverse is true. The whole point is to obfuscate and prevaricate, to get up on your hind legs instead of stating clearly what you mean and proceeding to act." It is now that he becomes animated, talking about the thing that truly concerns him - indeed, scares the hell out of him.

"Take security in London. Nearly two years since 7/7 and not a thing, not a single thing has been done to improve our security on the Tube. Not a thing! We are exactly where we were two years ago. And then, the other day, I received an enormous document on my desk - paid for by the taxpayer, commissioned by the government - entitled The Definition of Terrorism. A great long semantic work explaining exactly what terrorism is . . ." He throws his hands up in exasperation. "I mean, I'm sure it has its place. Somewhere. But it's not the point. People will be killed. And we are mulling over the philosophy of what constitutes terrorism."

He is loyal to the army, too, describing the recent court martial (and acquittal) of six soldiers accused of allowing Iraqi detainees to be abused as a "political show trial". But his experience of internment in Northern Ireland (where he worked in plain clothes) makes him ill-disposed towards the government's wish to detain terrorism suspects for longer than 28 days without trial.

He is as candid about his misjudgments as he is about those policies where he feels he has been proven right (or, worse, is about to be proven horribly right). For example, he was one of the Conservative party's most stoical supporters of the invasion of Iraq. Got that badly wrong, didn't you, mate? "Yes, yes, yes," he says, head in hands. "Badly wrong. I should have listened to Hans Blix [the UN weapons inspector] when he begged me and other members of the select committee to give him just six months more. We should have done that, no doubt about it." He insists, however, that he believed Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

It is all too easy to consign Patrick Mercer to a box marked gung-ho backwoodsman (something that I suspect his leader has already done). But it is to miss the essential point, which is that Mercer is a plain-spoken maverick within a community of politicians where such qualities are punished rather than rewarded. For a man brought up within the rigid discipline of the armed forces he is refreshingly unconventional.

In 2000 he gave up his military career and asked me for a job on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme (where I was editor) - a brave and frankly ludicrous decision by someone who had never trained as a journalist (and a pretty ludicrous appointment on my part, too). But it worked; he was brilliant. He was a natural journalist, concise and sharp and possessed of a greater knowledge of military matters than all the other BBC defence correspondents put together. He was regarded with intense suspicion by the largely liberal-tinted producers on Today - but he won them over. Using his military intelligence, he broke a string of important stories and risked his neck from beyond the front line in Kosovo.

His interviews with the programme presenters became the stuff of legend, for their clipped and wry observations. Are depleted uranium shells dangerous, Patrick? "Spoil your day," he replied. But beneath this parody of the stereotypical army officer was a deep understanding of geopolitical forces and a gentle Conservative sensibility.

What will he do now, I ask? His options are many and varied. He could keep his head down and hope for political rehabilitation in a couple of years, although if I were Patrick, I wouldn't hold my breath too long. He seems to be inimical to the current vision of Conservatism, though I cannot think of any better-equipped politician to preserve our domestic security. Or he could coalesce around him like-minded Tories, the legions of disaffected nonmetropolitans, and bide his time, waiting for the climate to change and occasionally firing heavy ordnance in the direction of his leader.

What does Conservatism mean to you, Patrick? "Freedom of speech!" He announces, the eyes glinting. Ah yes, that. And what else? "Trusting in the individual to make the best of himself." Anything else? "Having principle." Oh dear me, principle. This is all terribly old-fashioned stuff, don't you think? So is David Cameron a man of principle, I ask him?

"He is the leader," says Mercer. Yes, I know he's the leader. I asked you if he had principle. "He is the leader," he repeats. Yes, I persist, but does he have principle? He finishes his glass of water, smiles a little, narrows his eyes and, from the other side of the table, sticks two fingers up at me. "He is the leader," he says, with finality and stands to leave, which is when the pretty waitress, intrigued by something about this man, asks him what he does for a living. Disgraced Tory politician, love. But he'll be back.



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.


19 March, 2007

Britain: And these little piggies might offend Muslims....

A school production of Roald Dahl's Three Little Pigs has turned the heroes into three little puppies for fear of offending Muslims. Dahl's play, in which he reworks Little Red Riding Hood to include the pigs, is being put on by Honley Church of England School, in Huddersfield, with 250 primary pupils from other schools singing along.

Gill Goodswen, who is one of the organisers of the Kirklees Primary Music festival behind the changes, said: "We have to be sensitive if we want to be multi-cultural. It was felt it would be more responsible not to use the three little pigs."

She said the committee had to consider the feelings of children who would be singing along, not just the performers. "We feared that some Muslim children wouldn't sing along to the words about pigs," she added. "We didn't want to take that risk. If changing a few words avoids offence then we will do so."

One parent, a mother-of-three, said: "Surely there are much worse things to worry about in the world than a story about three little pigs? It is really ridiculous."

Local councillor Terry Lyons said: "I can't believe that Muslims would be offended. This is pandering to a few extremists. People will take umbrage at this decision, making it easier for the BNP to recruit."

Mohammed Imran, of the nearby Hanfia Mosque and Educational Institute, said he welcomed the thinking behind the decision but did not think it was necessary. He pointed out that Islam does not ban the mentioning of pigs but added: "They are obviously trying to involve children rather than exclude them."

But Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley, said: "My view is that the people responsible for this are completely bonkers. It is the type of political correctness which makes people's blood boil. "As usual it is done in the name of ethnic minorities but it is perpetrated by white, middle class, do-gooders with a guilt complex and far too much time on their hands."


Australia: Code of silence makes rise in Lebanese Muslim crime hard to solve

The report below is coy about details of the crime concerned but it is not too hard to make an educated guess. In these days of official coverups in the name of political correctness, one has to have a good memory of how individual incidents played out to get to the truth -- and NSW police complaints about non-co-operation from the Lebanese Muslim community have often been made. If there were NO ethnic dimension to the problem you can be sure that would have been stressed. It's getting to be like the USA or Britain -- where failure to mention the race of a criminal tells you that he was black

NSW police are solving fewer sexual assaults, abductions, armed robberies and other serious crimes than they were able to a decade ago. Research by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics shows the likelihood of detectives catching a rapist within 90 days of an attack has fallen since 1995 from one in two to less than one in four.

Acts of indecency are also half as likely and other sexual offences almost 20 per cent less likely to be successfully investigated within three months, the 10-year analysis shows. Arson cases have become 30 per cent harder to crack, while the chance of nabbing a thief who specialises in breaking into cars has plunged by more than a third to a paltry 2.6 per cent.

Despite an overall crime decline over the past two years, recent bureau data also shows some offences being committed more often than in 1995. Fraud is up 72 per cent - perhaps explaining why police are 66 per cent less effective at solving it. On the other hand, fewer people are being murdered, which coincides with a 10 per cent improvement in homicide investigations. However, a 35 per cent decrease in robberies involving a firearm, when matched by a 27 per cent decline in clear-up rates, was both puzzling and concerning, bureau director Don Weatherburn said.

"Certainly there's been a decline in clear-up rates for sexual assault which, as an offence category, has increased," he said. "But why has there been a similar decline for armed robbery even though there's been a fall in the total number of offences that detectives have to investigate? "I don't know, is the short answer to the question. It's one you'd have to address to police."

Bond University criminologist Professor Paul Wilson said it "could be that there are a whole lot more amateurs randomly engaged in armed robberies who are managing to get away quickly and are then proving hard to catch". "Or, it could be that police are not concentrating on the crime as effectively as they used to," he said. Opposition police spokesman Mike Gallacher said the figures indicated long-term neglect of police resources by the Government.


Australia: Death threats over Muslim comments

Muslims do their best to prove the Rev. Nile correct

NSW Christian Democratic Party leader Reverend Fred Nile says he has received death threats over his call for a moratorium on Islamic immigration to Australia. Mr Nile, who is recontesting his upper house seat at the March 24 state election, on Saturday called for a 10-year ban on Islamic immigration. He wants the immigration department to give preference to persecuted Christians while studies on the impact of Islamic immigration are carried out during the moratorium. Mr Nile has previously called for a ban on the wearing of full-face scarves in NSW.

Today, he said he and another Christian Democratic Party (CDP) candidate had received death threats in recent days. On Friday, a man had telephoned Allan Lotfizadeh, the CDP candidate for the western Sydney electorate of Auburn, and said: "You Christian pig. You are dead", Mr Nile said. Yesterday, Mr Nile said, a man approached a CDP election worker at Granville and asked her where Mr Nile lived, and what he had against Muslims. He had then said: "Tell Fred Nile I am going to act out my faith on him".

Mr Nile said he believed the threats were linked to his statements on Islamic immigration and full-face scarves. "I think, if they're talking about the Muslim issue it's related to the Muslim issue," he said. Mr Nile said the threats, which have been reported to police, highlighted the need for the immigration moratorium. "The reason why I called for the moratorium is because of what's happening in France and Holland where the Muslim minority are becoming militant," he said.

Prominent Muslim community leader Keysar Trad condemned the threats against Mr Nile. "Anybody who thinks of making death threats should cease and desist and anybody who knows anybody who's making threats should call the police," he said. Mr Trad said many members of the Islamic community had been the victims of threats and verbal or physical abuse. "Now he (Mr Nile) has an idea what it's like for us," Mr Trad said.

A split appeared to emerge in the CDP over the immigration issue today, with Mr Nile's fellow upper house MP Gordon Moyes indicating he had reservations about the policy. "In the Christian Democratic Party we are instructed to vote on issues according to our conscience and therefore we can have different points of view on some issues," Dr Moyes said. "I have some differences with Fred on this matter but Fred is the one standing for election so I'm not getting into that debate."


Launch of Gender equality in Australia's aid program

Speech by The Hon Alexander Downer MP Minister for Foreign Affairs at the launch of Gender equality in Australia's aid program. Nobody official is mentioning it but it IS a poke in the eye for Muslim countries

I am delighted to be here today to launch the new gender policy for Australia's overseas aid program for two reasons. Firstly it reflects the government's conviction that everyone should have the chance to succeed in life - women, men, girls and boys. Secondly it strikes a personal chord for me. I have three wonderful daughters and I am eternally grateful that they have grown up in a society which guarantees them equal access to education and to health services. They are free to make decisions relating to the sort of life they wish to create for themselves and the children they may one day have. Our society gives them opportunities to earn their own incomes and become leaders if they choose.

When I look at my daughters I find it difficult to accept that hundreds of millions of women around the world still do not have access to even the most basic services - clean water, education, health centres. They and their families are living on less than $1 a day. This gender policy reflects the yawning gap in opportunities by focusing on areas we consider to be fundamental to achieving gender equality-

- improved economic status

- equal access to health and education by women and men

- equal participation in decision making and leadership

- and greater gender equality through regional cooperation efforts

All too frequently there is a temptation to treat gender as an add-on issue, rather than as a central challenge of development. The White Paper on the overseas aid program, which I released last year (26 April), places gender equality at the centre of efforts to reduce poverty and increase the effectiveness of aid.

Inadequate or under-investment in social and economic opportunities for women limits economic growth and slows poverty reduction. Disparities in education and employment, in access to land, credit and public services are not just morally unfair, they make for bad economics.

We know through analysis and observation that societies are healthier where women are more educated and there is a high social and economic return from investing in women's health and education. Mortality rates fall, household income rises and children almost certainly have a better quality of life if their mothers are healthy, educated, economically active and are respected members of society .

If South Asia, Sub Saharan Africa and the Middle East had had the same gender equality in schooling as East Asia did between 1960 and 1992, per capita growth in those regions would have been higher by a half to nearly one percentage point per year. Stimulating economic activity is a vital part of the fight against poverty -no country has ever succeeded in reducing poverty without first achieving economic growth.

I find it interesting that recent articles in the Economist magazine have noted that the employment of women has done more to encourage global growth than have either new technology or the new giants China and India during the past couple of decades. In South-East Asia, products made or grown by women dominate two-thirds of the region's export industry - the most dynamic sector. We want to see women continue to make economic advances. Through the aid program we will help provide women with access to financial services, training and technology and will support business enterprises led by women.

One of the most valuable contributions the aid program can make is to improve the health and education of women and children in the Asia Pacific region. In partnership with governments, the broader community and other donors we have made good strides in both areas.

But we are confronted by the fact that in several countries in the region - PNG, East Timor , Laos, Cambodia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India - a woman is 50 times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than she would in Australia. Women in poor countries are also far more susceptible to HIV than women who are educated, have access to health services and are in a position to negotiate safe sex. In many places, women's low social status also makes them vulnerable to domestic abuse. Domestic abuse not only hurts women and their families but economies too. A few years ago the Reserve Bank in Fiji estimated the direct and indirect cost of violence against women in that country to be over 200 million Australian dollars, which at the time was equivalent to seven per cent of their Gross Domestic Product.

I am pleased to say that Australia will help countries evaluate programs aimed at reducing domestic abuse to make work in this area more effective. We are also firmly committed to building on the good work that has been achieved in education. In Indonesia for example we are in the process of building two-thousand schools that support universal education and encourage both boys and girls to remain at school. This is a tremendous step forward and will give Indonesian children - and in turn their children - opportunities that eluded their parents and kept them in poverty. I will be visiting Indonesia next week and look forward to inspecting the progress of construction of the schools program.

It is logical that since women represent half the world's population, they should have an equal say in decision-making and represent half of our leaders. However globally, women are still heavily under-represented in parliaments. In the Pacific for example, representation is particularly low. In 2005, the number of women in Parliaments was on average just three per cent. Having women in positions of leadership means they can develop policies and frame laws that influence behaviour and determine the equitable allocation of economic and social resources.

Women's role in building the right environment for stability is often overlooked. Bougainville is a very powerful example of the role played by women in resolving conflict and setting in place the building blocks for stability. After 10 years of fighting the women had had enough. Through their formal and informal networks they were able to influence and shape a better, peaceful future for all Bougainvilleans. It's a stark reminder of the positive power of involving both men and women. To ignore 50 per cent of the population is simply bad policy.

And we all know, particularly in this House, what happens when you implement bad policy. You get bad outcomes. We often discuss gender equality as though it only concerns and benefits women. This is not the case. Societies advance more successfully when everyone has the chance to realize their potential. We will not achieve gender equality without the involvement of men, on equal terms with women. Gender equality is a responsibility that is borne by us all. There is increasing awareness of the benefits to men themselves of promoting equality, beyond just the knowledge that they have done the right thing. The general health and well-being of families and communities has a positive flow-on effect to everyone. And amongst all this there is growing awareness that men are often disadvantaged by the constraints of masculinity. Hopefully discussions about these issues will become louder and more mainstream.

So it's clear - an essential ingredient needed to reduce poverty is equality for both men and women. Challenging and changing long held beliefs and values takes time as we know from our own experience in Australia. But we also know from that experience that achieving equality elevates society in general. It advances human development. I commend to you the Australian Government's policy on gender equality in our aid program.



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.


18 March, 2007

District gags 14-year-olds after 'gay' indoctrination

'Confidentiality' promise requires students 'not to tell their parents'

Officials at Deerfield High School in Deerfield, Ill., have ordered their 14-year-old freshman class into a "gay" indoctrination seminar, after having them sign a confidentiality agreement promising not to tell their parents.

"This is unbelievable," said Matt Barber, policy director for cultural issues for Concerned Women for America. "It's not enough that students at Deerfield High are being exposed to improper and offensive material relative to unhealthy and high-risk homosexual behavior, but they've essentially been told by teachers to lie to their parents about it."

In what CWA called a "shocking and brazen act of government abuse of parental rights," the school's officials required the 14-year-olds to attend a "Gay Straight Alliance Network" panel discussion led by "gay" and "lesbian" upperclassmen during a "freshman advisory" class which "secretively featured inappropriate discussions of a sexual nature in promotion of high-risk homosexual behaviors."

"This goes to the heart of the homosexual agenda," Barber said. "The professional propagandists in the 'gay-rights' lobby know the method all too well. If you can maintain control of undeveloped and impressionable youth and spoon-feed them misinformation, lies and half-truths about dangerous, disordered and extremely risky behaviors, then you can control the future and ensure that those behaviors are not only fully accepted, but celebrated." He said not only is forcing students to be exposed to the pro-homosexual propaganda bad enough, but then school officials further required that students sign the "confidentiality agreement" through which they promised not to tell anyone - including their own parents - about the seminar.

Barber said that also aligns with the goals of the disinformation campaign being run by those in the pro-homosexual camp. "That's what homosexual activists from GSA are attempting to do, and that's what DHS is clearly up to as well."

The situation, according to district Supt. George Fornero, was partly "a mistake." He told CWA, the nation's largest public policy women's organization, that requiring children to sign the confidentiality agreement wasn't right and the district would be honest with parents in the future about such seminars. But CWA noted that even after the district was caught, parents still were being told they were not welcome to be at the "freshman advisory" and they were not allowed to have access to materials used in compiling the activist curriculum.

Barber noted the damage being done is significant. "Until DHS and other government schools across the country are made to stop promoting the homosexual agenda, kids will continue to be exposed to - and encouraged to participate in - a lifestyle that places them at high risk for life-threatening disease, depression and spiritual despair," he said.


"Insensitive" history about Iran

The day-to-day details in the film are fictional but the Spartans at Thermopylae have long been an honoured part of Western history. One would think that anybody concerned about Iran getting a bad image would be directing their protests to the main source of that bad image -- President Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollahs

The Iranian community in the US and Canada is very keen on e-petitions as a form of protest. The latest issue to grip Iranian expatriates is the Hollywood blockbuster 300. According to the protesters, it projects an "irresponsible" and "distorted" image of ancient Persia. The film, which has broken US box office records, is a special effects-laden depiction of a battle in which a small Spartan army resisted a Persian invasion. It is based on Frank Miller's epic graphic novel about the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC.

The film shows the Spartan king and his army of 300 - white, muscular soldiers - strongly resisting Xerxes and his savage Persian army of hundreds of thousands. The film has stirred controversy among Iranians across the world, but it is the expatriate community in North America that have been the loudest voice opposing an "assault on its culture and tradition".

Iranian bloggers started their campaign against the film a week ahead of its opening. Bloggers have taken offence at the way in which the Persians have been depicted in the film and the way the battle of Thermopylae has been narrated. Award winning Iranian blogger and journalist Omid Memarian has been among these voices. He is worried about what he sees as historical discrepancies in the film. "Not only does it give the wrong outcomes to battles, it grossly misrepresents the Persians and their civilization. "It is unfortunate that very few curriculums in the US cover world history and it is very easy to misdirect the general public on historical facts."

Mr Memarian is also concerned about the film's balance. "Let's not forget that Cyrus the Great, Xerxes's grandfather, drafted the first declaration of human rights in 539 BC, freeing hundreds of thousands of Jews from Babylonian slavery."

Iranian officials have joined the angry protests and some are seeing it as part of a wider campaign against Iran. Javad Shamaqdari, a cultural advisor to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said it was "plundering Iran's historic past and insulting this civilization". He branded the film "psychological warfare" against Tehran and its people. A daily Iranian newspaper, Ayandeh-No, recently carried the headline "Hollywood declares war on Iranians".

Omid Memarian is not surprised at the reaction to the film due to what he calls "skewed media coverage on Iran and anti-Iranian rhetoric which has escalated in the US".

Warner Brothers, the film's producers, has been quick to explain that "the film [is] a work of fiction, loosely based on an historical event". A statement by the company said: "The studio developed this film purely as a fictional work with the sole purpose of entertaining audiences; it is not meant to disparage an ethnicity or culture or make any sort of political statement."

Some bloggers and commentators have opposed the petition against 300 on the grounds that there are bigger battles to fight - such as opposing what is seen as the increasing threat of military action against Iran. Salman Jariri, a Farsi blogger, published an open letter addressed to the protestors. "The actions of leaders of third world countries has a more destructive effect on the westerners' perception of these countries than Hollywood productions," he said.



As my colleague James Harding wrote in times2 this week, there's a vibrancy about London these days that easily eclipses New York or Paris or Tokyo. To many residents, perhaps, life in London may be a struggle against rising crime and a crowded Tube and overpriced housing, but from an international perspective, it is truly the world's preeminent urban locale. In fact, in anything other than the most literal, geographic expression of the term, London is really no longer an English city at all. Its great economic dynamo, the City, powers corporations from Shanghai to Seattle. Its labour force, drawn to it by the opportunities of its free markets, is much more polyglot and multinational than any other urban concentration in the world.

But there's salt to this strawberry. London's political culture has been uprooted from its English heritage. It is run - if you can call it that - by a sort of postmodern communist Mayor, whose political voice - minus the annoying nasal whine - would sound right at home in Paris, Bologna or San Francisco. It hosts a metropolitan elite that loftily gazes three ways: outward, at the supposed superiority of anything not British; inward, at its own ineffable genius; and down its elegantly pampered nose, at the provincial trivialities that consume the dreary lives of the rest of the population.

But worst of all; much more, much more baleful than any of these irritations, is the political, cultural and intellectual hegemony exercised by the ultimate self-serving metropolitan monopoly, the BBC. Much worse because, unlike mayors and snobs, its domination of the rest of the country is so complete and so permanent.

On a recent trip back to Britain, I happened to hear on the BBC an interview with Helen Mirren, shortly before her Oscars triumph. Amid the usual probing sort of questioning that is the currency of celebrity journalism ("How do you manage to look so young? Is there anyone since Shakespeare who has come close to matching your talent?") one particular gem caught my attention.

Dame Helen was asked how difficult it had been to play such an "unsympathetic character" as the Queen, the eponymous heroine of her recent film. She replied, quite tartly, that she didn't find the Queen unsympathetic at all and launched into her now familiar riff about how she thought Elizabeth II really, surprisingly, quite agreeable.

It was a little incident, a small crystal in the battering hailstorm of drivel that pours daily through the airwaves. And yet to my mind it signified something so large. It had nothing to do with politics or Iraq or America. It was so telling in its revelation of prejudices and presumptions precisely because it was on such a slight matter as the sensibilities of an actress.

It betrayed an absolutely rock-solid assumption that the Queen is fundamentally unsympathetic, and that anyone who might still harbour some respect for the monarch - or indeed for that matter, the military or the Church, or the countryside or the joint stock company or any of the great English bequests to the world - must be some reactionary old buffer out in the sticks who has not had the benefit of the London media's cultural enlightenment. More than that, the question - all fawning and fraternal and friendly - contained within it an assumption that, of course, every thoughtful person shares the same view.

You really do have to leave the country to appreciate fully how pernicious the BBC's grasp of the nation's cultural and political soul has become. The groupthink and assumptions implicit in almost everything broadcast by BBC News, and even less explicitly by much else of the corporation's output, lie like a suffocating blanket over the national consciousness.

This is the mindset that sees the effortless superiority, at every turn, of benign collectivism over selfish individualism, exploited worker over unscrupulous capitalist, enlightened European over brutish American, thoughtful atheist over dumb believer, persecuted Arab over callous Israeli; and that believes the West is the perpetrator of just about every ill that has ever befallen the world - from colonialism to global warming.

I'm often told, when I take on like this, that I'm ignoring the quality of BBC output. But I spent almost a decade in the employ of the BBC and I can say, without demeaning my gifted colleagues at The Times, that it has probably one of the highest concentrations of talent of any institution in the world. But that, of course, is the problem. It perpetuates its power by attracting and retaining an educated elite that is distinguished by its unstinting devotion to collectivist values. I've no doubt it does what it does very well. It is what it does I object to.

A necessary word here about our sponsor. Anything critical of the BBC written by an employee of Rupert Murdoch is instantly dismissed. It's not an unreasonable instinct. Outside Murdochland it is solemnly assumed that each morning the drones of News Corporation are given their marching orders on how to interpret every event so that it conforms precisely to the commercial and political instincts of the proprietor.

In the real world, not only does the Murdoch media have only a fraction of the reach of the BBC, but a casual glance at its output demonstrates it is far less monolithic in its outlook than is the BBC.

Fortunately, in the US this week, I was struck by an article on the oped pages of The New York Times, the very citadel of leftish political correctness. Written by an apparently completely sane professor at a prestigious US university and entitled "Biased Broadcasting Corporation", it assailed the BBC's Middle Eastern services for their consistently anti-Western tone and content.

When the editorial pages of The New York Times accuse the BBC of anti-Western bias it is worth taking notice. It is a little like Osama bin Laden accusing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of being a bit harsh on the Jews. It suggests that in other, even pretty unlikely, parts of the world, people are waking up to the menace to our values represented by the BBC. The British sadly, seem curiously content to remain in thrall to it.


Australia: The very incorrect Pauline Hanson gives Muslim warning

Pauline Hanson will urge major political parties to stop the flow of Muslim immigrants into Australia when she launches her bid to become a senator this year. Warning Australia could go down the same road as some European countries, where she says racial tension are "out of control", Ms Hanson says federal politicians will eventually have to decide on Muslim numbers in Australia. "We have to decide now whether we want to go the way Britain, France and the Netherlands have gone," she says in an exclusive interview in today's print edition of the Herald Sun. "England's being lost. It's losing its identity and its way of life."

Ms Hanson also denies she is re-entering politics for financial gain, claiming the major political parties need a shake-up. She says the Muslim way of life is totally opposite to the Australian way, citing instances of multiple marriages, the forcing of women to wear the burqa, closure of pools to males and shopping centre bans on Christmas decorations. "The fact is they're Muslim first and Australian second," Ms Hanson says.

She is also releasing her life story, entitled Untamed and Unashamed, which is to be launched this month by Sydney broadcaster Alan Jones.



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.


17 March, 2007

A fight over principles in France

The verdict in the Charlie Hebdo case was originally expected to be handed down last Thursday but has been postponed to next Thursday now. That would seem to be of some concern as a verdict in favour of the magazine and against the Muslim plaintiffs was almost universally expected. To remind readers what it is all about, I reproduce below a post from the British blog EU Referendum -- written in early February, when the case was initiated

As we have pointed out before, it is not the Continental countries that were found wanting in the War of the Danish Cartoons, but Britain. To be quite precise, the British media, not a single one of whom dared to reprint the cartoons, bleating idiotically about not wanting to upset people. Especially people who might come after you, one suspects. The Guardian and the Independent have had no problems about printing anti-Semitic cartoons of the kind that could have come out of Der Stürmer.

One of the magazines that did do the right thing was the French Charlie Hebdo, now sued by the Grand Mosque of Paris and the Union of French Islamic Organizations for inciting racial hatred.

It is not that they want censorship, they whine, but they do not think cartoons that make fun of Islam should be published.
A televised debate between Charlie Hebdo publisher Val and Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Paris Grand Mosque, broke up acrimoniously on Tuesday after they squabbled over the limits of free speech.

"If we can't criticise religion anymore, there will be no women's rights, no birth control and no gay rights," Val said in the raucous TV debate.

Boubakeur said the controversial cartoon showing Prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban was not simply satire, but an insult against all Muslims by suggesting they were all terrorists.

"We don't want censorship, we don't want the sacred to be protected by blasphemy laws or medieval jurisdiction," he said.

Boubakeur said last week he wanted to show that reprinting the cartoons was a provocation equal to acts of anti-Semitism or Holocaust denial, which are both banned under French law.
Um, well, of course, anti-Semitic attacks have gone up in France (and in Britain) in the last few years and many of them originate with the Muslim community. Those attacks are not simply words or cartoons but actual physical acts against people, schools, cemeteries and synagogues.

To repeat for the benefit of those of our readers who do not bother with most of what we write: this blog does not believe Holocaust denial should be illegal in any country.

It seems that the case may well be one of the seminal ones in French legal history, though in a different way from the Al-Dura one, which we wrote about here and here.
Politicians, intellectuals, secular Muslims and left-wing pressure groups have lined up behind Charlie Hebdo, arguing that Muslim groups have no right to call for limits on free speech.

"I just cannot imagine the consequences not only for France but for Denmark and Europe if they lose the case," Fleming Rose, the Danish editor who first published the cartoons, told a news conference with Charlie Hebdo publisher Philippe Val.
The left-wing newspaper, Libération has reprinted the cartoons, saying quite firmly that it is not words or pictures that kill but bombs. True enough and time it was said forcefully. Are we going to see a similar outburst of bravery in our media or will it all be left to the blogs again?

The Passive-Aggressive Jihad

Post lifted from David Thompson

Last week, I noted how the language of religious coercion has undergone a softening since the era of William Berkeley, and how old struggles for censorship and dominance are now routinely couched in the rhetoric of personal injury: "No-one would use words like 'authority' and 'power.' Not about Islam. Not out loud. Now we hear about much fluffier things, like 'feelings', 'prejudice' and 'sensitivity.' It's the passive-aggressive approach." Efforts to control what can be said about Islam - and by extension what can be thought about it - have been recast in terms of supernatural sensitivity and an allergy to criticism. Or, no less shamefully, as a reaction to `racism.' 

As, for instance, when the Abu Bakr Jamia mosque in Cambridge invoked a "compassionate and merciful" Allah to intimidate staff and students at a Cambridge college, while describing an innocuous student newspaper as "hate speech" and an "incitement to ethnic hatred." Or when that tragicomic convert to Islam, Yvonne Ridley, pompously declared: "My faith is my nationality and when you attack it you are being racist." Some have resorted to other, no less tendentious, ploys; most recently with the notion of "cultural racism" - a term that's used freely in certain quarters and without clear definition, but which nonetheless imprints on the reader an unmistakable suggestion of nefarious intent.

In his recent Civitas report, We're (Nearly) All Victims Now, the criminologist Dr David Green explains how, "politically-recognised victim status... has begun to do lasting harm to our liberal culture. Groups who have been politically recognised as victims are starting to use their power to silence people who have had the cheek to criticise them." Green goes on to argue: "Modern victim groups create entrenched social divisions by defining opponents as oppressors who not only must be defeated by the state, but silenced by the state."

These efforts to short-circuit realistic debate have proved all too successful, not least among those whose political outlook is premised on Designated Victim Groups and claims of collective guilt. It seems the word `Islamophobe' - like its pseudo-synonym, `racist' - has acquired the status of a declamatory WMD. Deploying the term, even by vague insinuation, can generally be counted on to shut down the frontal lobes of pretty much anyone on the left, like some rhetorical kryptonite. Loaded as the term 'Islamophobia' is with connotations of irrationality, those who brandish it as a talisman of virtue may suppose they're defending the weaker party against unfair attack. In practice, they may simply be excusing the party with the weaker argument, or no argument at all.

Thanks to Franklin at Artblog, I stumbled across another textbook example of this passive-aggressive pantomime, this time involving the cartoonist Doug Marlette and his "offensive" cartoon `What Would Muhammad Drive?' The background for the cartoon and the "outrage" that followed - inflamed and co-ordinated by the dubious "civil rights" organisation CAIR - can be found here. The piece is worth reading in full, not least for some tips on how to deal with being denounced as a tool of Satan. But I thought I'd share some of Marlette's comments on the incident as they illustrate the mechanics of professional victimhood:
"Can you say `fatwa'? My newspaper, The Tallahassee Democrat, and I received more than 20,000 e-mails demanding an apology for misrepresenting the peace-loving religion of the Prophet Muhammad - or else. Some spelled out the `else': death, mutilation, internet spam. `I will cut your fingers and put them in your mother's ass.' `What you did, Mr. Dog, will cost you your life. Soon you will join the dogs . . . hahaha in hell.' `Just wait . . . we will see you in hell with all Jews.'

The onslaught was orchestrated by an organization called the Council on American-Islamic Relations. CAIR bills itself as an `advocacy group.' I was to discover that among the followers of Islam it advocated for were the men convicted of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre. At any rate, its campaign against me included flash-floods of e-mail intended to shut down servers at my newspaper, as well as viruses aimed at my home computer. The controversy became a subject of newspaper editorials, columns, web logs, talk radio, and CNN. I was condemned on the front page of the Saudi publication Arab News by the secretary general of the Muslim World League.

The threads that connect CAIR and the literary fatwas. are entreaties to `sensitivity', appeals to institutional guilt, and faith in a corporate culture of controversy avoidance. Niceness is the new face of censorship in this country. We are in deep trouble when victimhood becomes a sacrament, personal injury a point of pride, when irreverence is seen as a hate crime."
It's difficult to adequately convey the dishonesty of this flourishing grievance industry and the scoundrels who exploit it. But such is its effectiveness in coercing genuflection and self-censorship, a precedent has been set. As has previously been noted, the Bishop of London and the Dean of Southwark have all too readily embraced the rhetoric of victimhood practised so expertly by our most prominent Muslim lobby groups, whereby howls of bogus injury are accompanied by vague threats of "social disorder" and demands for special treatment.

Crudely summarised, that rhetoric runs along the following lines: "Poor us. Feel our pain. We're victimised by words, even statements of fact. You owe us for our injury. So do as we say." Perhaps we'll soon have a grievance arms race on our hands, as various Tribes of Perpetual Hurt and Indignation follow the Islamic model and vie for the upper hand, with tears in their eyes and a list of unilateral demands: "Feel my pain." "No, feel my pain!" "My pain is the greatest! Feel it! Feel it now.!" And with each exhortation to empathise and comply, a little more freedom may well be lost, perhaps irretrievably, along with a little more honesty and a little more self-respect.

Dissecting British prejudice about Australia

A comment below on the Patrick West article by Guy Rundle, European editor of the Australian Leftist magazine, "Arena". It is a long time since I have seen a copy of Arena and it has only a little of its content online but I surmise that, like "Spiked", it is these days more a magazine of retired Marxists than of current Marxists. It is, however, a lot "Greener" than "Spiked". Green is a common refuge for former Reds. The article below certainly does not spare the Left. I am slightly pleased that Mr Rundle has picked up Mr West's incorrect spelling of "schooner". I thought of mentioning that as a pointer to Mr West's lack of erudition but concluded that it was a bit trivial

`The Victoria and Albert Museum is hosting an exhibition of Kylie Minogue's costumes' said Sandi Toksvig on a recent episode of BBC Radio 4's News Quiz. `It's on loan from the Australian Arts Centre, which is now presumably empty.' Boom boom. As far as anti-Australian gags go, that is pretty much par for the course. Increasingly, British views of Australia - especially as expressed by the middle-class commentariat - take as their starting point the idea that Down Under symbolises all that is cultureless, naive and vulgar.

As an Australian in Britain, you simply get used to it. More often than not such anti-Australian sentiments find their expression in the leftish mainstream press, where ostensible liberalism often serves as a mask for cultural elitism. It was a bit of a shock, then, to open up spiked last week and find in Patrick West's TV column every British cliche about Australian culture and life stuck into one article.

Based largely, it would appear, on conversations with a few ex-pats, West's startling conclusion is that Australia is not the sunny, fresh-minted utopia of Neighbours, but is more like the Gothic suburban fantasy of Kath and Kim - a cultural predicament which has apparently driven from Australia not only record numbers of smart people but also just about the whole A-list of Aussies, from, er, Clive James to Germaine Greer. However, wherever they go, Australians retain a childlike naivet‚ which comes to the fore when they've had a skinful, says West, which is very often of course. Oh, and the women will push you to the floor and have your fly open before you've even finished your `scooner' (sic).

Well, if your research sample is the front bar of the `Shebu Walkie' (the Walkabout beer barn in Shepherd's Bush, London) over a schooner (a beer) or two, then inevitably you're going to uncover those kind of back-of-the-beermat findings. Let's dispel a few of the myths in West's piece.

For a start, there's the ex-pat diaspora. There are around one million Australians living outside of Australia, or about seven per cent of the adult population. About half of them say they have left permanently, although a proportion of these subsequently change their minds (1). By contrast, the number of British citizens living overseas is 5.5 million, or about 12 per cent of the adult population; around 100,000 Brits a year leave Britain permanently (2). Their most favoured destination is a place called Australia, with Spain coming second.

True, the make-up of British and Australian ex-pat communities differs, with the British composed of more retirees and fewer professionals than Australia's diaspora - but that is simply a consequence of Australia being part of the global periphery. Like Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland and many other fairly sparsely populated places, Australia's citizens are responding to the increased mobility afforded by globalisation, and to the creation of global capitals like London and New York, which offer professional opportunities that are unavailable in their homeland.

The second mistake in West's article is his claim that all Australia's leading intellectuals have left. This leaves me no choice but to take the odious path of cultural boosterism and reel off a list of those who haven't left, or didn't leave, Australia: Nobel Prize-winning novelist Patrick White; world-class poets Les Murray and AD Hope; Nobel Prize-winning scientist Peter Doherty; philosophers David Armstrong and Rai Gaita; Booker Prize-winner Thomas Keneally; France's most performed overseas playwright Daniel Keene; Pritzker (architecture's Nobel) winner Glenn Murcutt; actor (now artistic director) Cate Blanchett; scientist Tim Flannery. There are many more.

Those whom West cites as ex-pats (and he left out the most talented ex-pats, such as novelist Peter Carey and critic Meaghan Morris) are overwhelmingly those who are either global travellers, such as John Pilger, or metropolitan performers such as Germaine Greer (who alternates between A-list work and Celebrity Big Brother-style fiascos) and former clip-show host Clive James. It's those who stayed - such as White, Murray or Murcutt - who produced world-class work, connecting local traditions to global modernism. Maybe West hasn't heard of them because they don't work in his narrow world of the London media.

What is really awry in West's piece is that he has missed the way in which the image of Australia is used within British culture and debate for purposes that have nothing whatsoever to do with the southern continent. The fashionable disdain in Britain for the suburbanism that dominates the image of Australian life is a barely disguised form of prejudice directed at working-class and mainstream culture, displaced in such a way that it can avoid charges of naked elitism.

There's no doubt that Australia has a different set of class relations to Britain - and that is partly because Australia has a far smaller cultural elite (or core of knowledge/cultural producers, to put it more technically) and larger suburbs of detached houses with gardens and a cultural life largely based around mainstream (and mostly American) films, TV and music. In terms of comfort for basic wage-earners, Australia is one of the most congenial societies yet devised, though it is at the same time frustrating and unsatisfying for those who want a more cosmopolitan lifestyle. Hence the grousing from the professional diaspora who have either permanently relocated to London or are in the first flush of enthusiasm for London life (usually put paid to by a couple years of London rents, rain and trains).

Yet even a cursory glance around everyday British culture - from Big Brother to the half-hour lobotomy of Emmerdale or Gillian McKeith's poo TV, to Soho on a Saturday night - should show that Britain is hardly lacking in cheerful assertive vulgarity. So why does the Australian version get such a kicking, especially from the left or `progressive' direction?

The answer, of course, is because it's safe to bash Australia. No one from the liberal or left-leaning fraternity can come out and say - as Simon Heffer or Theodore Dalrymple have done - that the British working classes are a slatternly disgrace. So instead such disdain is displaced on to a white settler country which does have - mainly in rural areas - all the residual racism common to white settler countries. And then such disdain is presented as a critical and progressive attitude. So in West's article we find that the kind of thing once patronisingly said about blacks - that they have a joyful sense of rhythm - can now be transferred on to white Australians (or Kiwis or South Africans or the Irish) who are praised for their naive childlike drunkenness that we jaded metropolitans have long since lost.

This easy chauvinism serves another purpose, too. It assuages the all-pervasive anxiety amongst the left-liberal elite that mainstream culture is actually winning - that Jade Goody, Garry Bushell and Girls Aloud are setting the pace today, and that the remaining institutions of liberal elite culture (Radio 4, the Guardian, David-fucking-Hare) are being pushed to a position of utter irrelevance reminiscent of, well, Australia. More and more British liberals project their fears for their own self-preservation against the hordes on to a nightmare vision of Australia, where they imagine the hordes have been victorious.

The point is that Australia is ahead, not behind, the curve the UK is on - it is dealing with the problems that any society faces when it has started to satisfy the basic needs of a large section of the population. Kath and Kim is neither a clown show nor a proletarian minstrel turn. It is a slightly rueful self-reflection on the difficulties you face when you have got everything you think you wanted - the house, the garden, the holidays, the shopping centres - and now you're wondering what else you can do. Not understanding that, Mr West, leaves you looking, well, a bit of a galah.


Australian approach to Islamofascism more realistic

Comment from British writer Melanie Phillips

Coming from Britain to Canberra to interview members of the Australian government is like leaving a fetid malarial swamp to be douched with fresh cold water from a mountain spring. These guys are so on-side in the great fight for civilisation against barbarism that they make `Bush's poodle' Tony Blair sound like a Harold Pinter wannabe on a bad day in Basra.

As Britain impatiently awaits the disappearance of the Prime Minister it has impaled on the turnpike of Iraq, as it pulls troops out and as both Gordon Brown and David Cameron delicately signal that they will distance themselves from US foreign policy, John Howard's government is increasing the number of Australian soldiers in Iraq and its ministers remain passionately committed to the battle for democracy in the Arab and Muslim world.

Their scorn for the current British mood of defeatism and appeasement is palpable. What, for example, does Foreign Minister Alexander Downer think about those in Britain who claim that the Iraq war has made the world a more dangerous place? `Their proposition that we should let the extremists win in Iraq and that will reduce terrorism is like saying, let Hitler take France and that will secure things a bit more. Or that if only we hadn't taken on Hitler he wouldn't have bombed the East End. It's a completely fatuous proposition. For the extremists, it's fantastic that people are saying this -because the logical conclusion is to surrender.'

What does Attorney-General Philip Ruddock think of the British government's long-standing opposition to what it sees as America's indefinite detention of terror suspects without a proper trial in Guantanamo Bay? `This shows an ignorance of the rules of war, which recognise you are entitled to hold those who engage in hostilities against you until the end of that war. It's not a question of holding people indefinitely because generally you expect to see a war conclude. `This is not war as conventionally understood. It's something worse. If people are waging war by using unconventional weapons in order to target civilian populations, you tie your hands behind your back by saying you must treat this as a normal breach of the law. We have an obligation to protect the safety and security of our populations. Law enforcement in its traditional sense does not protect our community.'

As for Treasurer Peter Costello on the subject of radical Muslims in Australia -well, he's hardly likely to win the Tories' Patrick Mercer Memorial Cup for cultural sensitivity: `Basically, people who don't want to be Australians, and they don't want to live by Australian values and understand them, well then they can basically clear off.'

The Australian government understands something that many in the beleaguered administrations of both Blair and Bush (not to mention the British Tories or US Democrats) just don't get. The Aussies grasp that the free world is under sustained attack from the same enemy on a myriad global fronts; that taking the path of appeasement on any one of these fronts is to undermine that world's whole defence; and that it is busy undermining itself at every opportunity.

In Britain, Blair is portrayed - unflatteringly - as Bush's closest foreign confidante. In fact, the Australian Prime Minister John Howard is said to be more influential, stiffening the Bush spine against Blair's obsessive fantasy that a solution to the Israel/Palestine impasse will somehow magically deflate the Islamist global balloon and reinforcing the Americans in the surge in Iraq.

His government is solid in the belief that the war in Iraq simply must be won. `If we were to withdraw from Iraq it would make Darfur look like a Sunday afternoon picnic', says Downer. `There would be widespread massacres spreading through the country. Neighbouring countries wouldn't just stand back; they would feel a kith and kin obligation to become engaged and once they were dragged into this cauldron the consequences would be horrific. It would be the greatest victory al Qaeda had ever had and would energise their forces around the world, including in Britain.'

To a Britain which parrots the Islamists' line that the war in Iraq is, on the contrary, the principal recruiting sergeant for terror, Downer retorts that in south-east Asia, the war in Iraq has produced a decline in support for Islamist extremism and terrorism. `Partly this is because the Indonesian government has promoted the notion of moderate Islam. The world's largest Islamic country and our next door neighbour is a vigorous democracy, where people are able to dissent from government and form political movements. That's why I believe that democracy is a very important means of defeating terrorism. The claim that brown guys don't do democracy is just outrageous. So if you happen to be Asian or Arab you're supposed to enjoy oppression? Just bring on the evidence!'

One can't help wondering how this most neo-con of foreign ministers would fare if transplanted by serendipity into those temples of overseas appeasement in London's King Charles Street or Washington's Foggy Bottom.

Of course, the Aussies' moral and political clarity springs in large measure from the robustness of John Howard himself. Howard's political genius - his Liberal party has won four general elections on the trot - derives from his extraordinary ability to articulate the values and aspirations of Middle Australia. And those values are shaped most fundamentally of all by Australia's place on the globe. Australia sees itself as profoundly vulnerable: an outpost of European civilisation surrounded by alien ideologies, which might at any time have designs upon a rich country with a huge land mass but too small a population to defend it. The outcome is that Australia is driven by the need to retain the protection of the US, and also to hose down any global disturbances which might conceivably affect it.

So apart from Iraq its troops are currently engaged in more than a dozen other regional conflicts. But the big thing that Howard understands is that the war upon civilisation is being waged both from without and from within. He arrived at this view through two seminal events in 2001. The first was 9/11, which he witnessed at first hand since he happened to be in Washington that day. The second was the hijacking of that year's anniversary celebration of Australian federation by those perpetrating historical myths to portray Australia as fundamentally illegitimate.

As a result, his government is leading from the chin against both Islamist radicalism and the multicultural orthodoxy which paralyses the country's ability to acknowledge the reality of such a threat. So not only has it taken tough measures against illegal immigration and is now tightening its citizenship requirements, but at a stroke abolished multiculturalism by renaming its Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Of course, effective policy is about more than such grand gestures; but they certainly help shape public debate. It's that elusive quality called leadership. Howard has got it. We haven't. Oz rocks.



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.


16 March, 2007

Muslim distortions about Israel brought to you from UCLA courtesy of the Israel-hating "Los Angeles Times"

Post excerpted from SCA

The LA Times published an Op-Ed piece, Why Does The Times Recognize Israel’s ‘Right To Exist’?, by Saree Makdisi. The piece is a toast to drivel,absurdity and deceit, masquerading as ‘informed thought.’ Mr Makdisi provides a textbook look at malignant narcissism and the consequences of that behavior (an accurate, if unflattering review by his peers can be found here).

In the Op-Ed piece, Makdisi begins his remarks with outright and characteristic deceit:

First, the formal diplomatic language of “recognition” is traditionally used by one state with respect to another state. It is literally meaningless for a non-state to “recognize” a state. Moreover, in diplomacy, such recognition is supposed to be mutual. In order to earn its own recognition, Israel would have to simultaneously recognize the state of Palestine. This it steadfastly refuses to do (and for some reason, there are no high-minded newspaper editorials demanding that it do so).

It is not “meaningless” when a ‘non-state’ not only refuses to ‘recognize’ a state, but also insists on destroying that state, her inhabitants and publicly promises a new genocide (Mr Makdisi cannot make those pesky audio tapes, video tapes, newspapers, school curricula and ‘religious’ broadcasts go away).

In addition, Mr Makdisi also cannot make the opposite true- if the Palestinians are a non-state, they are not automatically entitled to any kind of special recognition or support by Israel or the international community any more than are the more deserving Kurds or a thousand and one other indigenous groups.

The Palestinians are a recent political construct and no more, who came into being after Egypt and Jordan washed their hands of them. Makdisi would predictably argue that Israel too, is a recent political construct, and to some extent, he would be correct. The reality of course is that the Palestinian political entity came to the show later on and as such, are a day late and a dollar short. Mr Makdisi is free to adopt an Orwellian dance of historical revisionisim and deny Jewish history and ties to the Holy land as do some of his colleagues, but it seems clear he wants to maintain the facade of intellectual credibility.

Makdisi continues:

Second, which Israel, precisely, are the Palestinians being asked to “recognize?” Israel has stubbornly refused to declare its own borders. So, territorially speaking, “Israel” is an open-ended concept. Are the Palestinians to recognize the Israel that ends at the lines proposed by the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan? Or the one that extends to the 1949 Armistice Line (the de facto border that resulted from the 1948 war)? Or does Israel include the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which it has occupied in violation of international law for 40 years - and which maps in its school textbooks show as part of “Israel”?

For that matter, why should the Palestinians recognize an Israel that refuses to accept international law, submit to U.N. resolutions or readmit the Palestinians wrongfully expelled from their homes in 1948 and barred from returning ever since?

What mindless drivel! Makdisi is attempting, in his own words, ‘recycle meaningless phrases than to ask - let alone to answer - difficult questions.’

Israel’s borders were absolutely defined until the Arab world insisted that they would redefine them, permanently, in 1967.

In 1967, Egypt kicked out UN peace keepers from the Sinai Peninsula. They massed troops on Israel’s borders and threatened her destruction. Radio broadcasts at the time, monitored and recorded, exhorted Arab troops to an orgy of destruction, rivers of blood and rape- literally, saying these was Islamic destiny. Syria followed suit, massing borders on Israels northern flank. The Gulf of Aqaba was blockaded (an act of war in itself) and despite pleas from Israel to Jordan’s King Hussein, he too was to enter the fray.

In response, Israel called up it’s armed forces and reserves and on June 5, 1967, launched a preemptive strike against Egypt, Syria and Jordan. It was over in 6 days. By then, Israel has crossed the Suez Canal and had taken Gaza (Dayan said, “Give me 12 hours and I can be in Cairo…”

Israel offered the land back, for peace, secure borders and mutual recognition. The Arab countries said no and ratified that ‘No’ in The Khartoum Declaration of 1968. There it was decided that violence would not cease until Israel and her inhabitants were destroyed.

Makdisi seems oblivious to the reality of realpolitick. Virtually every nation in the world came into existence by way of conflict of one kind or another. Further, Makdisi makes no mention of Palestinian and Arab world textbooks that make no recognition of Israel at all. Nor does he deal with the reality that the Palestinian curricula and media have made the physical destruction of Israel- and Jews- a reality. Makdisi also does not address the perverted religious component of that reality.

Makdisi’s concern for the Palestinians is touching. That said, his concern for the equal number of Jews booted out of Arab nations at the time is non existent. He seems to conveniently forget that UN Resolution 194 was intended to address the rights of all refugees in the region.

Saree Makdisi and UC Berkeley’s Sandy Tolan (we wrote about Tolan here) share a similar ideological platform. They differ in a few significant ways, however.

Tolan is self serving- that is, Sandy Tolan has found a niche to exploit and does so with great solemnity and with an all knowing, didactic approach (”let me explain what is really happening”). That is ideal for the NPR pablum that allows Tolan a showcase for his shallowness. That he needs to break with reality is a necessary trompe L’oeil, much like that of the Three Card Monte huckster that needs to deceive to make a living. He knows he’s deceiving everyone watching, but hey, it’s a living and besides, he means well.

Saree Makdisi is another story. His kind of deceit is much more significant, because his deceit is predicated on defending and then promulgating an agenda of hate.

Makdisi wants you to believe he ’speaks our language’ and shares ‘our cultural values,’ his ideas are meritorious and his interpretation of events in the Middle East are correct. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

He says say the Palestinians are `just like us,' only misunderstood, because of the Israel, AIPAC, and the conspiracy theory du jour. They have kids, go to work, come home and have dinner, and they want the exact same thing we do. Sounds reasonable, right. The Palestinians are just like the Israelis, right? They are the same, right?

Well, there are a few differences Saree Makdisi neglects to mention. He would have you believe that just because Palestinians agree that hamburgers, fried chicken and pizza are terrific, we are all the same

The same Palestinians who come home and have dinner and worry about report cards are also teaching their children to hate and sometimes, even to kill some people of different races or religions. They believe in the racist and bigoted rhetoric of their society and swell with pride as their children march to the latest Hamas marching ditty, ‘Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the Gas!‘ and they listen attentively as Palestinian media reinforce racism, bigotry and hate as ‘honorable’ expressions of Palestinian ‘dignity.’

That is like saying the Ku Klux Klan is a fine and upstanding organization because they have bake sales and sponsor Little League baseball teams. Truth be told, there is very little, if any, difference between what is taught in Palestinian schools and what is KKK ideology.

Makdisi and his ilk blur the the lines in the Middle East out of contempt for democracy and freedom and to further a racist agenda.

His claim to be motivated by ‘justice’ or `peace' is laughable. In supporting causes whose fundamental underpinnings are hate, intolerance and for the denial of participation by those who are different from themselves, he is exposed for who and what he is and who and what he believes in.

Saree Makdisi is no more concerned about `justice' or `peace' than is the Ku Klux Klan- and he knows it.

From a political standpoint, Israel has every right to demand recognition and renunciation of violence from the Palestinians. For decades, the ‘occupation’ of the West Bank and Gaza, brought on by the Arab world and their subsequent refusal to negotiate for peace, has been the most benign occupation in history.

That said, Israel does not need recognition from the Palestinians or even the Arab world. They are among the most backward, corrupt and dysfunctional regimes in history. Israel stands to gain absolutely nothing from diplomatic ties with the Arab world.

Outside the Arab world, Israel has relations with almost every single nation on earth. Even nations that do not have formal relations maintain a not so discreet ‘open door policy.’ Israel and the rest of the civilized world maintain world class exchanges of scientific, educational, technological and cultural programs.

According to the UN Human Development Report, the Arab world is at the bottom of the education barrel. If Saree Makdisi really cared about the welfare of the Palestinians or the Arab world, he would be demanding that the Palestinians and Arab world forge ties with a nation that could offer them so much- and would, despite their mistreatment. That alone speaks volumes about the differences between western democracies and democratic values and the dysfunctional Arab world.

After Hate Speech, the war against ‘Mate Speech’

As the language police turn their attention to banter between buddies and football-ground chants, no area of life is safe from the censors.

Over the past 10 to 15 years, governments in the West have instituted laws against ‘Hate Speech’. To varying degrees they have criminalised the use of racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic or anti-religious words by groups or individuals on the basis that they might incite hatred and possibly even violence against vulnerable minorities.

Now, if recent cases in Britain are anything to go by, the language police are turning their attentions to what we might call ‘Mate Speech’. They’re cracking down on banter between buddies, throwaway chants at football matches, and words uttered in informal, behind-the-scenes settings, on the basis that someone somewhere, if they ever caught drift of these words, might possibly be offended by them.

Welcome to the humourless society, where no off-the-cuff remark, gag or utterance is beyond the sanction of the sanctimonious word-watchers.

Last week, Conservative MP and former army colonel Patrick Mercer was sacked from the Front Bench by party leader David Cameron for saying the words ‘black bastard’ in an interview with The Times. Mercer said: ‘If someone is slow on the assault course [in army training], you’d get people shouting: “Come on you fat bastard, come on you ginger bastard, come on you black bastard.”’ Cameron said Mercer’s words were ‘completely unacceptable’ and within three hours of their being published in The Times he had kicked Mercer out of the shadow cabinet.

Also last week, eight schoolboys aged 15 and 16 were arrested in Hertfordshire, England after a couple of them chanted ‘Yid Army’ at a leaving do for Jewish teacher David Appleman. ‘Yid Army’ is a knowing term used by fans of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club to describe themselves, in recognition of the fact that much of Spurs’ traditional support came from the Jewish community in north London. Apparently Mr Appleman was ‘smiling and shaking hands with the boys’ when the incident occurred, but when he later saw a video of it on YouTube he made a complaint to the police.

Meanwhile, the police force investigating allegations of racist behaviour in the Celebrity Big Brother house in January have announced that they’re dropping the case. Who can forget the CBB incident (however much we might have tried), when an argument over Oxo cubes between reality TV has-been Jade Goody and Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty – which reached its heady conclusion when Goody said the phrase ‘Shilpa Poppadom’ – caused an international stink? The Crown Prosecution Service said that while what occurred in the house ‘was clearly offensive, it was not criminal’.

Phew. It’s not a crime – yet – to say someone’s name and then put the word ‘Poppadom’ after it.

Perhaps the most striking thing about these ‘Mate Speech’ incidents is the separation of words from intent. No one really thinks Patrick Mercer is a racist. Even those denouncing him for using ‘insensitive words’ point out that he isn’t racist and has probably done some good work in the army. The schoolboys chanting ‘Yid Army’ were using a football-ground chant that is not remotely anti-Semitic in intent; indeed it is chanted by Jewish fans of Tottenham Hotspur. And the police investigating the CBB affair have failed to uncover any evidence that the words used in the house – which ranged from ‘liar!’ and ‘fake!’ to a suggestion that Shilpa Shetty should ‘spend a day in the slums’ – had racist underpinnings.

The lack of any racist intent is clear from the fact that there are no ‘victims’ in these cases. Mercer did not say ‘black bastard’ to one of his black constituents or to a black journalist; he merely described, in a quiet and polite interview with The Times, what sometimes gets said on army training courses. Likewise, despite their best efforts, the police looking into CBB did not find anyone who thought they were a victim of racism. In interviews with the housemates, ‘everyone stated that they had not witnessed or perceived they were the victim of any racist behaviour’.

It would seem that schoolteacher David Appleman did not think of himself as a victim of an anti-Semitic slur at the time that the schoolkids were chanting ‘Yid Army’, but later changed his mind when he saw a video on YouTube. And now there are demands for Spurs fans to rethink their ‘Yid Army’ tag, despite the fact that no one in Spurs circles thinks of it as an insult that harms them: they’re the ones who chant it!

The fact that you can have an outcry, even a police investigation, over words that are not racist in intent, and which have not harmed anyone, takes censorship to a terrifying new level. These days, it doesn’t matter what your words mean, or who you say them to. It doesn’t even matter if they are true; for example, whether you think it is right or wrong that this kind of thing happens, Patrick Mercer is no doubt correct to state that during army training the phrase ‘come on you black bastard’ is used to spur on black soldiers doing obstacle courses. Rather it is assumed that there are certain words and phrases you simply cannot say these days – anywhere, anytime, to any person, or for any reason whatsoever.

So Jade Goody may not have been racist when she said ‘Shilpa Poppadom’, but you just cannot use cultural references to have a pop at people you don’t like these days. Patrick Mercer was not being racist when he pointed out that those responsible for training soldiers sometimes say ‘come on you black bastard’, but you cannot say those two words – ‘black bastard’ – anymore. The ‘yiddos’ of the Yid Army have ‘taken back’ the word yid and turned it into a badge of footballing pride – but don’t they know that you shouldn’t say the word yid in any context or at any time?

Some are understandably perplexed by this censorship of individuals who have not attacked or slurred anyone else (and who are sometimes referring to themselves!). In The Sunday Times, Rod Liddle confesses to being ‘poleaxed by the strange logic’ behind the Mercer incident, where a shadow cabinet minister is given the boot for saying something that was intended to be neither racist nor offensive, but rather was an attempt to ‘explain, with candour, what he’d observed during his time serving this country as a soldier’. Where does this perplexing censorship come from?

The idea that words can be offensive, even racist, even if they are not intended as such – and even if they are not aimed at anyone else or if the person they are aimed at does not consider them to be racist or harmful – was institutionalised by the Macpherson Report of 1999. Based on an inquiry into the investigation of the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in London, the Macpherson Report established a new definition of a racist crime and racist slur. It said that an incident should officially be deemed racial if anybody – not just the victim, but ‘anybody else’ – considers it to be racial. Such a sweepingly relativistic view of offensive speech and criminal action has become institutionalised in policing, politics and public debate in Britain.

And it has given rise to a stultifyingly censorious climate.

Speech is no longer a matter for the speaker and the listener; rather it has been laid open to third parties, to the perceptions, sensitivities and judgements of ‘anybody else’.

So what was once par for the course on army training courses – where soldiers may have been called ‘ginger bastard’ or ‘black bastard’ in order to toughen them up – is now seen as ‘completely unacceptable’ because others outside of the army culture judge it to be racist. Where Shilpa Shetty did not consider Jade Goody’s mouthy insults to be racist, they were still widely discussed as such – by numerous journalists, quango officials and politicians – because people outside of the CBB house perceived them as racist. And while ‘yid’ is used as a term of endearment by Spurs fans – tough, because there are people outside of Spurs who reckon it is anti-Semitic and thus should never be uttered.

In post-Macpherson Britain, ‘offence’ is no longer something specific between two parties, where one person might intend offence and another person might take it. Rather, offence has become a moral judgement that can be made by anyone against your words and their meaning. Words are no longer judged in context, or in terms of the impact they made on the person they were aimed at; rather they are judged by an ever-broadening category of offensiveness that can be wielded by anybody who heard your words, whether in person or, in the case of Patrick Mercer, through a newspaper story, or in the case of CBB over the TV airwaves. 

This policing of our words by the catch-all category of ‘anybody else’s offence’ alienates us from what we think, say and believe. Our words are no longer our own; anyone who hears them can attach a meaning and intention to them, beyond what we ourselves meant and intended. This massively dents our right to speak freely with one another, and it undermines our own responsibility for what we say. Apparently it is no longer for us to decide with our friends or colleagues or fellow football fans what kind of words and phrases to use, and how and when to use them; rather it is the judgements of others that really count. And, of course, it will always be the most over-sensitive souls, those who make a profession of seeking out and exposing ‘offensive words’, who will butt into our everyday exchanges and declare that they are offensive.

I always hated the campaigns against Hate Speech. They were underpinned by an insulting view of the public, who were thought to be easily cajoled into becoming hate-fuelled racists or anti-Semites. And they were more concerned with brushing prejudice under the carpet – silencing its practitioners – rather than having the argument out and really doing something to challenge inequality. The new campaign against ‘Mate Speech’ that the post-Macpherson politics of offence has given rise to is far, far worse. It has turned ‘offence’ from something real and direct into a free-floating moral code that can be used to judge anybody’s words at any time. And it intrudes into the most intimate aspects of our lives.

When any words said by anyone in any context can be perceived by anybody else who hears them, or who hears of them, as offensive, then really no area of life is free from censorship: not the football stadium, the workplace cafeteria, the rough and tumble of a training course, the school playground. And when our words can end up being judged as racist and harmful even when we meant them innocently, the end result can only be self-doubt and self-policing: we become uncertain about what to say and when to say it. We internalise the new censoriousness; our words stick in our throat.

This is deeply troubling. We need areas of life that are free from the judgements of officialdom. It is in these areas where we experiment with words and ideas and forge friendships with like-minded individuals. Football fans bond through stadium chants; soldiers become a coherent squadron by developing their own codes of conduct and lingo, however bizarre they might seem to the rest of us; schoolchildren take risks with words in the playground, away from the formal, stuffy classroom. Closing down these informal arenas - by opening them up to the sensibilities of ‘anybody else’ - is not only illiberal; it does harm to our ability to make and sustain real and humane relationships.

It is time we took back responsibility for working out amongst ourselves what we should think and say, and responsibility for the consequences of our utterances. Our thoughts and words should not be the business of ‘anybody else’, that sly codeword for the new thought and speech police who believe they know what’s best.


John Howard: Australia's "strong horse"

Comment from America by former Harvard sociologist Thomas Lifson

One foreign leader who makes me stand up and cheer is John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia. In the last year, Howard has gained increased prominence for his willingness to stand up  for a truth too few other leaders in the democratic West are willing to speak:

The truth is that people come to this country because they want to be Australians. The irony is that no institution or code lays down a test of Australianness. Such is the nature of our free society.

It would however be a crushing mistake to downplay the hopes and the expectations of our national family. We expect all who come here to make an overriding commitment to Australia, its laws and its democratic values. We expect them to master the common language of English and we will help them to do so.

When leaders lead with courage, others are inspired. Howard's Treasurer, Peter Csotello when one step further, and told immigrants who want to bring sharia law to Australia that they should move to a country where they will be more comfortable. Howard backed him up!

Now, further proof that leadership in these matters works

FIVE of the nation's most powerful Islamic clerics, including Sheik Taj al-Din al-Hilali, have been banned from talking to the media by Muslim leaders for delivering "anti-Australian" messages.
Australia's Lebanese Muslim Association (the largest group of Muslim immigrants to Australia are the Lebanese) is concerned that comments to the effect that women who dress immodestly deserve to be raped harm them.

LMA president Tom Zreika yesterday told The Australian the letter was issued to end the "perceived un-Australian viewpoints given by some clerics".

"One of the big issues is the double-speak by the various imams," Mr Zreika said.

He added that the messages some clerics delivered in Arabic contradicted comments given in English while talking to the mainstream media.

"They go on to the Voice of Islam and talk about something which really isn't in accordance with our views as Australians.

"(While) most of our clerics are selected on the basis that they have Australian values and Australian characteristics ... some of them haven't (lived) up to that."
If only CAIR would take such a position! But don't hold your breath.


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.


15 March, 2007

When CAIR criticizes a Muslim

Post lifted from American Thinker. See original for links

When will a spokesman from CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) finally attack a foreign Muslim for not respecting American culture and democratic norms? Why, when the offending Muslim says that the Islamic faith needs to be reformed to purge out its violence, misogyny, and primitive tribalism, that's when.

A few days ago, one of America's great talk-show hosts, Glenn Beck, interviewed CAIR's Tampa boss, Ahmed Bedeir, alongside Dr. Tawfiq Hamid, a man who years ago was a jihadi in Egypt's Islamic Brotherhood, then freed himself from Islamofascist brainwashing and is now trying to encourage reform and freedom of thought within Islam. Well, what person with a brain and a soul could find fault with that? CAIR's Bedeir could. Watch here via YouTube

"You're coming to my town. I live in St. Petersburg, Florida, and nobody's engaging the Muslim leadership that's already organized. You're not from this country. When you come to a country and you want to have dialogue about Islam, guess what, you're gonna have to join and engage the Muslim community, because that is the community you're trying to reform."

Wow. Imagine if some patriotic pale-faced American deigned to tell an uppity Muslim migrant that "You're not from America. You're coming to my country. If you think you have something to add here, you have to dress like us, and you have to talk like us, and you have no right to criticize us in an open forum..." What do you think would happen? Every fax machine across the fruited plain would be spewing out CAIR's condemnations of this "xenophobia...insensitivity...hate speech...cultural chauvinism...islamophobia...[and hey, what the heck]...RACISM!!"

But CAIR's Ahmed Bedeir feels safe to go on the airwaves and tell an escapee from Islamic terror that he has no legitimacy because: "You're not from this country."

We old Cold Warriors recall that for decades the Kremlin used legal "front groups" (e.g., the "US Peace Council") here in the US to build up public support for The Cause, while Moscow actually called the shots. We also recall that those front groups reserved their most vicious attacks for those refugees from the belly of the beast, who possessed unusual inside knowledge of Communist strategy and the real conditions inside the Workers' Paradise. People like Vladimir Bukovsky, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Zdzislaw Rurarz, and Anatoly Sharansky.

Dr. Hamid is in good company, while CAIR walks in the disgraceful and disgraced footsteps of those who enjoyed the benefits of a free society while working overtime to destroy it.

Another vacant "racism" controversy in Britain

Those who condemn Tory MP Patrick Mercer confuse political incorrectness with something more serious. I myself had something to say on this matter on Tongue Tied. Post below lifted from "The Guardian" (!) -- which see for links

Poor Colonel Mercer, he is denounced as a racist, summarily dismissed from his front bench post and roundly abused on the BBC's Question Time by five of the dimmest panellists ever let into a TV studio. Be clear about this, Patrick Mercer is not a racist, nothing like a racist: rather he is the victim of a collective reflex in the political class, a reflex which has all the complexity of a tape recording and which speaks received standard opinion.

What the colonel was actually trying to do with his remarks about "fat bastards," "ginger-haired bastards" and "black bastards", was to ask for a sense of proportion, the very last thing routine political minds could hope to find. He was saying that the army is a rough-mouthed place, happily adjusted to top-of-the register adjectives without going to law. That is surely right. Indeed Mr Mercer is being slightly euphemistic. It would be less likely that the noun, around which the adjectives "fat," "ginger" or "black" usually gathered, would be anything so eirenic as "bastard." In the army, as at the football stadium, it would be "c*nt" or "wanker." A pity really that Mr Mercer didn't get himself hanged for the sheep of "c*nt" rather than the genteel lamb of "bastard." That is a word rapidly passing out of offensive use, as "bugger" has long been. "There's a canny bugger; have you got your milk money?" is standard parent-to-child usage between Jarrow and Ashington.

The reaction of the professional reactors to "black bastard", - not uttered second person vocative, merely remarked as natural rough soldier talk - is perfect Victorian middle class. It is Thomas Bowdler, cutting the dirty bits out of Shakespeare, it is old-lady-ish, prim, hands-over-ears, Frinton-on-Sea, unhand-me-sir niminy-pimmery of a very high order. It is also close to a sort of right-thinking McCarthyism. For "commie subversive," read "racist".

Mr Mercer told the truth: that hard words pass among men, likely to be blown apart fighting Mr Blair's futile wars, as being not very important. Soldiers, if they do not start grown-up, quickly become so, learning what matters, the point made with fierce eloquence by the black sergeant who ran to his colonel's defence. "I've talked with him eaten with him, shared the night sky with him, and I tell you he isn't a racist."

This is the perspective which the colonel, with a slightly clumsy choice of words, was commending to us. Another part of that perspective is real, foul-breathed, in-your-face racism. Try the Stephen Lawrence case which, for the record, the liberal media were slow to make trouble over. The trouble came, through his personal acquaintance with Neville Lawrence, from that highly prejudiced about most things, four square Tory and inspirational editor, Paul Dacre. It was the Daily Mail which to its eternal glory, did the screaming headlines where screaming headlines were absolutely needed. Racism lies among the other street killings, the monkey noises I heard at a Yorkshire football ground a week or two back. It was racism in capitals when an Israeli minister said of the Palestinians generally "they are lice."

There is too, a good deal of covert racism in the way ministers talk about and behave to the illegal immigrants whom they promise to give such a bad time. These are foreigners who, for having failed the target-let criteria of all-too fallible boards, are commonly treated like convicted criminals, incarcerated, abused, the door kicked-in at six in the morning before they are taken in handcuffs to the airport. These are foreigners we can really behave badly to, with the home secretary to guide us.

What really distinguishes racism from a touch of politically incorrect stocking is intent, what the law call "malice." Do the words complained of express hatred for someone or for a set of people? Do they seek, in the language of the libel law, to incite "hatred ridicule or contempt"? The point about Mr Mercer's reference to cries of "get a move on you black bastard," was that he was convinced that they didn't. It was rough boys' talk. But this useful nuance is clearly lost upon David Cameron, whose response on Thursday was the sort of flashy weakness which masquerades as strength. "Oh my God, the press will be after us. We mustn't step out of line, mustn't give offence mustn't reason a case through. Sack him at once. Won't that be super PR?"

When Ted Heath fired Enoch Powell in 1968, he went against the grain of half his party and against a far larger corpus of public anti-black feeling than exists now. He was giving a genuine lead and, for all Powell's wrong headed virtues, he was right to sack him. Heath was being brave. Cameron is being commonplace, limp, tide-borne, fashionable, not inclined to think when he can be seen to mimic action. He comes over as a slight unmeritable man slavering in the best Pavlovian fashion before jumping through all the received standard hoops. He is a politician not worth trying to be interested in.

I repeat the words of Mr Mercer's black sergeant. "I have worked for him, eaten with him, shared the night sky with him and he is not a racist." That's good enough for me, but clearly not for David Cameron. Mr Mercer is indeed not a racist, but out of cowardice and mediocrity of mind and spirit, David Cameron has sacked him. The thing speaks for itself.


Australia: Hardline Muslim clerics urge tax cheating

Hardline Muslim clerics are encouraging their followers to cheat the tax system because they consider paying income tax contrary to Islamic law. Muslim leaders have warned that fundamentalist imams who put sharia law ahead of Australian law are also condoning welfare fraud and the cash economy as tax-evasion methods.

Sydney-based Islamic leader Fadi Rahman told The Australian that the extremist clerics who were preaching messages against paying income taxes were also staunchly opposed to Western ideologies, including the Australian way of life. He said he had heard hardline clerics at Friday sermons in Sydney highlight the importance of cheating the tax system. "I mean, just like how you've got clerics (with) extreme views who are telling the Muslims in the Western world to declare war against the very country that they live in and the very country that is paying for their day-to-day life, you'll find that these are the clerics who are telling them to dodge the tax system," said Mr Rahman, a youth leader and the president of the Independent Centre for Research Australia. "Tax, itself, is not allowed in Islam. So they (clerics) encourage them that if there's any way that you can dodge paying the tax, then you should do it."

The Australian understands that the clerics pushing for tax evasion espoused a fundamentalist form of Islam called Wahabbism. While sharia law does not require Muslims to pay taxes, it does require them to pay zakat (alms) towards charitable causes.

Prominent Islamic cleric Khalil Shami, who said he had heard of imams encouraging tax evasion but had no direct knowledge of it happening, warned spiritual leaders to abide by Australian laws, saying tax evasion was a form of "theft" that would serve only to undermine the government help given to the Muslim and mainstream communities. "They have to give the right advice to the people because we come to this country and we have to follow the law of this country," said the imam of Penshurst mosque, in Sydney's southwest. "Everything that the Government do, we have to support it, we have to stand behind it ... to help the land and to help the law of the land."

The fundamentalist Ahlus Sunnah Wal-Jamaah Association, which is headed by Australia's most radical cleric, Mohammed Omran, hit back at suggestions that its imams - including Abdul Salam Mohammed Zoud, who heads the group's Sydney branch - were among those calling on their flock to cheat on their taxes. "Of course we pay taxes and we go as far as to collecting money from our Muslim communities and donating it to organisations (such as the Royal Children's Hospital) to help," said the Wahabbi organisation's spokesman, Abu Yusuf. He said the authorities should deal with tax cheats "as they would with anyone else breaking the law".

Muslim community leader Keysar Trad, who worked at the tax office for 14 years, said he believed some Islamic fringe groups would include "cheating on taxes" as part of their teachings. "We know that some fringe groups within the community have some aberrant teachings," the president of the Islamic Friendship Association said. "If one of those fringe groups was giving a message that did not serve society as a whole ... such as cheating on taxes, I would not be surprised." Mr Trad said he was often told by "conservative" clerics to quit his former job at the tax office because they considered it contrary to sharia law.

Mr Rahman, who helps young Muslims turn away from radical Islam and steer clear of criminal activities, said hardline Muslim clerics were not fazed that their followers were "double-dipping" by working cash-in-hand to avoid paying tax and collecting social security benefits on the side. "While we work hard to pay our taxes, it's not fair on the rest of us," he 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, 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 March, 2007

Hate crime legislation will target your freedom of speech

A battle has been waging during the opening months of the 110th Congress over proposed Hate Crime legislation. The main bill currently before the House is H.R. 254, titled, "The David Ray Hate Crimes Prevention Act," introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX).

Opposition is growing to the legislation because hate crime laws would make certain types of speech a federal offense, allowing federal "thought police" to interfere in the law enforcement authority of states and local government. Such interference is blatantly unconstitutional.

HR. 254 would require every state to pass and enforce "anti-hate" laws, making it a federal crime to express bias against specifically federally protected groups. Some hate laws have been interpreted to mean documents like the Bible are hate literature and preaching from it is hate speech. Nowhere was this more clearly shown than in England under a similar law, where two men who called Islam "wicked" were indicted, and now face seven years in prison. The British law blatantly says "truth" cannot be used as a defense.

The main force supporting the bill is the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). This group was behind passage of the British law. The ADL is a radical organization, which routinely charges organizations more to its right, of hate speech. It appears that nearly any organization that does not accept the ADL's worldview is marked for advocating hate.

Freedoms of speech and hate crime legislation are not compatible. Many organizations who advocate hate crime legislation, such as the ADL, are pushing for control of the Internet to stop "hate speech." While most people would interpret hate speech as being on the lines of neo-Nazi white supremacy, in reality the ADL really means groups which advocate issues like free enterprise, property rights, gun rights, etc.

In 2005, the ADL targeted the Freedom 21 Conference as an advocate of hate speech. Prior to the conference in Reno, Nevada, the ADL sent out alerts about the gathering. Their premise that Freedom 21 was advocating hate was the group's advocacy of private property rights. The ADL believes ownership of private property is a social injustice that oppresses the poor.

Others are now advocating that skeptics of global warming theories be denied the right to speak out. Still others advocate making it a crime to use the term "illegal aliens." Reason and rationality are thrown out the window for political correctness under so-called hate speech.

To preserve freedom of speech in America H.R. 254 must be stopped. In fact, now that many are protesting the bill, supporters on Congress are trying a new tactic. While using H.R. 254 as a shield, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers is quietly gathering support for yet another hate crimes bill entitled, The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007. This bill is actually worse than HR. 254. Both must be stopped. Call your congressman and demand he/she stand for free speech and against any hate crime legislation


UK Tribunal: Christian Judges Must Award Homosexual Couples Adoptive Children or Resign

Yesterday, the Employee Tribunal in Sheffield of South Yorkshire county, Britain informed Andrew McClintock that, despite his religious beliefs, he may not refuse to preside over adoption cases that would place a child in a home with homosexual parents. The tribunal also ruled that McClintock had not suffered any religious discrimination, despite the fact that McClintock was forced to quit his job in order to uphold his Christian conscience.

In his case, McClintock argued that, not only did his orders compromise his Christian beliefs, but they would compel him to act against what he thought to be in the best welfare of the child. He argues that he had no choice but to resign.

The tribunal's ruling says, "If a judge personally has particular views on any subject, he or she must put those views to the back of his or her mind when applying the law of the land impartially."

After the Civil Partnerships Act was passed in 2005, McClintock requested that he be excused from cases involving adoption by homosexual couples because, not only did homosexual adoption contradict his religious beliefs, he thought that placing a child in such a home would be removing them from "one kind of harm only to face another hazard."

As previously reported by LifeSiteNews, McClintock resigned his job in 2005 after he was informed by his managers that he would not be permitted to excuse himself from specific cases. McClintock had served as a magistrate judge in Britain's Sheffield County for 18 years.

McClintock took legal action against the British Department for Constitutional Affairs suing them for religious discrimination. McClintock's attorneys argued that his request to be excused from certain specific cases should be permitted under Regulation 10 of the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003.

McClintock's attorneys also utilized expert witness testimony in the case which claimed that "there was little research into the effect of same-sex nurture on children's development, and that what had been established was worrying."

After hearing of the tribunal's verdict McClintock said, "More needy children will be fuelling this experiment in social science and suffering what the experts call mother-hunger or father-hunger. This ruling is going to make it harder for many conscientious people - whether they are [Justices of the Peace] in the family court, or otherwise involved with children, or maybe with different matters of conscience.

He continued, "Anyone who holds seriously to the traditional morals and family values of Jews, Christians or Muslims will think twice before taking on such a job."

A spokesman for the gay rights group Stonewall was quoted in a BBC article commenting on the recent ruling said, "We are not surprised at the outcome and the tribunal's decision made it clear that people in public service cannot pick and choose which laws they comply with. While not disrespecting anyone's private religious views, all public figures have to work within the legislation and in these cases in the best interests of the children involved."

Andrea Williams of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship, on the other hand, condemned the ruling saying, "This case is a clear picture of how Christian faith is becoming privatized in society. It is yet another example of the repression of Christian conscience and signals the prevalence of a secular 'new morality' and the erosion of Christian values at the expense of our children's welfare."

Britain is rife with similar controversy as the British government prepares to introduce new guidelines and legislation to the already present Sexual Orientation Regulations of 2003. According to the website Christian Concern For Our Nation the new legislation, "will make it illegal for providers of goods, services, facilities, premises, education or public functions to discriminate against the recipients on the grounds of their sexual orientation i.e. whether they are homosexual, heterosexual or bisexual.

Among other things, the legislation would make it mandatory for schools to teach homosexuality as equal to heterosexuality. Private venues would not be allowed to refuse their services to groups promoting homosexuality. Adoption agencies, regardless of religious affiliation, would be mandated to facilitate homosexual adoption.

Archbishop Nichols of Birmingham delivered a harsh criticism of governmental entities in a recent sermon, "It is simply unacceptable to suggest that the resources of faith communities, whether in schools, adoption agencies, welfare programmes, halls and shelters can work in co-operation with public authorities only if the faith communities accept not simply a legal framework but also the moral standards at present being touted by the Government." Nichols has threatened that all Catholic adoption agencies will close down if the legislation is approved.


While Critics Blame Catholic Church for AIDS Deaths Stats Show Just the Opposite

Church's accusers have not done the homework or are deliberately misreporting the facts

The Catholic Church is killing "millions" because of its teaching on chastity and fidelity in marriage and needs to change its "policy" on banning condoms in the fight against HIV/AIDS, according to a popular and apparently perpetual theme in mainstream journalism.

Commentators, especially from Britain, regularly pronounce that the late Pope John Paul II, and his successor Benedict XVI, are personally responsible for the deaths of millions of people because of their opposition to contraception, particularly condoms.

The Guardian's Polly Toynbee, on the occasion of the death of John Paul II, called the Vatican, "a modern, potent force for cruelty and hypocrisy." Toynbee said with the "ban on condoms the church has caused the death of millions of Catholics and others in areas dominated by Catholic missionaries, in Africa and right across the world. In countries where 50% are infected, millions of very young Aids orphans are today's immediate victims of the curia."

Catholic readers of the mainstream press are familiar with the regular appearance of articles speculating on whether the Pope will "lift the ban" or approve the use of condoms to stop AIDS.

Last week the Times' religion correspondent, Ruth Gledhill, wrote on her weblog that she and Times colleague Richard Owen in Rome, were "inundated" with emails, calls "and other tips" wondering if the Pope intended to lift the "ban" on condoms in his Ash Wednesday homily that afternoon.

The rumour was entirely false, she said, but it was followed the next day with a letter speculating that Pope Benedict would lift the ban on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the publication of Donum Vitae, a document that reiterated the Catholic teaching on the sinfulness of artificial contraception, including barrier methods.

Gledhill quoted John Coventry of the aid organization, ActionAid, that promotes condom use for AIDS prevention. Translating Catholic teaching on chastity and fidelity in marriage as "anti-condom ideology" Coventry said it "has got in the way of pragmatic approaches to preventing the spread of the disease."

"For the Pope to relax Catholic attitudes to condoms would send a clear signal that it is not acceptable to prevent access to potentially life saving materials - in this case condoms - on grounds of religious belief," Coventry said.

Coventry's comments were mild compared to Toynbee in 2005 when she compared John Paul II to Vladimir Lenin: "they both put extreme ideology before human life and happiness, at unimaginable human cost."

Toynbee wrote, "Disgracefully, the European rich quietly ignore the church's outlandish teachings on contraception without rebelling on behalf of the helpless third-world poor who die for their misplaced faith. Those 'civilised' Catholics have as much blood on their hands as the Vatican they support."

A short examination, however, of the HIV/AIDS rates of those African countries that have a large Catholic population shows that the Church's accusers have not done the homework or are deliberately misreporting the facts. The available statistics show that countries with a large Catholic percentage population, show significantly lower rates of HIV/AIDS infections than countries with mostly non-Catholic populations.

2003 statistics from the World Factbook of the US Central Intelligence Agency, shows Burundi at 62% Catholic with 6% AIDS infection rate. Angola's population is 38% Roman Catholic and has 3.9% AIDS rate. Ghana is 63% Christian, with in some regions as much as 33% Catholic and has 3.1% AIDS rate. Nigeria, divided almost evenly between the strongly Muslim north and Christian and "animist" south, has 5.4% AIDS rate.

Strongly Christian Uganda continues to frustrate condom-pushing NGO's by maintaining its abstinence and fidelity AIDS prevention programs and one of the lowest rates of AIDS in Africa, at 4.1%. Uganda's population is listed by the CIA Factbook as 33% Roman Catholic and 33% Protestant.

Of African countries with low Catholic populations, Botswana is typical with 37.3% AIDS, one of the highest in Africa, and 5% of the total population Catholic. In 2003, Swaziland was shown to have a 38.8% AIDS infection rate and only 20% Catholic population.


Jewish dingbats in Australia

When in 2001 the French ambassador to the UK made an off-the-cuff remark calling Israel a "shitty little country", he was articulating a feeling that is commonly seen and heard throughout Europe whether in immigrant ghettoes or at posh dinner parties. And while in Europe opposition to Israel is largely cloaked in strategic cowardice - Western support for a Jewish state only makes us a target for Islamic terrorism - across the Middle East all the demented ancient fantasies of anti-Semitism, from blood libel to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, are still given wide airing.

All of this is useful to bear in mind given news of the formation of Independent Australian Jewish Voices, which claims to "dissent" from the supposed uniformity of opinion among high-profile Australian Jews on the subject of Israel. Yet even as IAJV purports to take the moral high ground it promotes a dangerous moral equivalence between Israel, a legally sanctioned state created by the UN, and its neighbours who have since its birth repeatedly tried to push it into the sea.

And we wonder what controversial Israeli actions they feel they are not allowed to disagree with. Yitzhak Rabin's signing of the Oslo Accords, which enshrined the principle of land for peace only to be roundly violated by the Palestinians? The growth of the Kadima party, which was formed by no less a hawk than Ariel Sharon and is predicated on giving up territory for security, and which is now the largest party in Israel? Likewise their wilfully naive analysis of Israeli-Arab relations ignores the reality of Middle Eastern geopolitics and the bloody struggle between Sunni and Shia Islam. Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's antagonistic comments towards Israel have failed to provoke uproar in Europe. But Iran's nuclear ambitions have lifted tensions throughout the Middle East and forged a new level of co-operation between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Certainly, Israel is not without sin. But it is a democracy that has voted repeatedly for peace and coexistence. This will not be possible until its enemies come to the same conclusion.



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.


13 March, 2007

Rising ethnic crime in Australia

We are all considered to be too immature and irrresponsible to be told which ethnic groups are the problem but you don't have to be Einstein to guess that the Lebanese Muslims are high on the list -- followed probably by the Vietnamese. The Han (Chinese) and the Jews will be low on the list. "New Zealanders" (Maoris and other Polynesians) have a high rate of criminality but they probably do not figure much in the sort of crime discussed below

It’s not considered politically correct to draw links between crime and ethnic groups. But that’s what South Australian police force has done in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry on organised crime, warning ethnic based groups are an fast emerging threat. The submission also foreshadows potential struggles between the ethnic groups and more traditional organised crime networks for control.

"Ethnic based crime groups not currently recognised as high threat are beginning to emerge and will continue to evolve. This may cause some conflict with crime groups that currently exist,” South Australia Police says in its submission.

“These emerging groups bring with them their expertise associated with particular criminal commodities and it is likely that they will expand their interests once they are familiar with the Australian legislative and criminal environments. “In time individuals will break away from these ethnic based groups and become significant entities in their own right. “ The submission says there is an intelligence gap when it comes to what is known about ethnic crime groups in Australia.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission is holding an inquiry into the future impact of organised crime. It will look at the best strategies to tackle the threat and investigate whether present laws are adequate.

The SA Police submission says the most under-reported serious offence associated with organised crime is extortion. “It is a very profitable form of crime and in the absence of complaint, there is no evidence to substantiate related charges. Assets derived from the extortion are legitimised using the business structures available to crime groups,” it said. “Victims and witnesses are intimidated and extremely reluctant to report the crime and/or give evidence. “

In a separate submission SA’s Director of Public prosecutions warns that the move to easy “low document” loans and reduced checks before banks issue credit cards is proving a boom for fraudsters. The submission says it has become relatively easy to for an offender to secure a loan or a credit card over the telephone, online or by fax using forged documents. The banks or financial institutions make “minimal verification checks”, making them vulnerable to high organised fraud.


British Catholic fightback against homosexuality

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, has called on his flock to join a campaign against new gay rights laws. Archbishop Nichols urged Catholics in the city to write to their MPs in protest at the Sexual Orientation Regulations, published last week by the Government.

The Catholic Church has led a campaign against the regulations, which make it illegal to discriminate against gay couples when placing children for adoption. The Church says that this goes against its teaching and that its adoption agencies would be forced to close as a result.

In a letter read out at services yesterday, Archbishop Nichols said that the regulations implied an understanding of the family and of children's needs in which the claims of same-sex couples were placed above the beliefs of all major religions.


Our primitive ancestors not so "noble" after all

It is known that primitive people today are anything but peaceful but the myth that OUR ancestors were peaceful is often pushed. Despite the evidence below, however, Leftists will no doubt continue to cling to their Rousseauian myths

Life for the first people to settle down to farm in Britain was far more violent than previously supposed, research suggests. Far from a peaceful expansion into empty and fertile lands, the transformation from hunter-gatherer to farming society was riven with conflict and change. New techniques have allowed archaeologists to pinpoint ages of Early Neolithic, long-barrow burial mounds more accurately, forcing them to revise virtually every assumption about Britain's first farmers. Early Neolithic society, dating about 3,900BC to 3,300BC, was much more diverse than previously realised, with differences between rites and beliefs noticeable in communities only a few miles from each other.

Long barrows have until now been regarded as burial places that were used for several hundred years as the resting places of chieftains and Neolithic VIPs. New dating on six barrows shows that they were open for only a few decades and were likely to have been used by everyone in the community, making them Neolithic village graveyards.

One barrow, Wayland's Smithy, near the Uffington White Horse in Oxfordshire, could have been opened and closed in a day to hold the remains of villagers killed in a raid. Three of the 14 bodies were found with the arrowheads that are presumed to have killed them and the other 11 are now thought likely to have died at the same time. The new evidence, with revised dates for five other burial barrows, means that archaeologists will have to spend the next 20 years reassessing their understanding of the period when farmers took over from hunter-gatherers in Britain.

Four of the barrows assessed by the new dating were contemporaneous yet were all shut up in different ways, suggesting much more diverse beliefs during the era of how "ghosts and spirits" should be treated. Previously, the different methods of depositing bodies and closing the barrows were held to be indicative of customs and beliefs changing over time. The new findings suggest that rather than commemorating long-dead tribal chieftains or heroes, the people were keeping alive memories of their friends and families. At Hazleton North in Gloucestershire, offerings of meat were placed in chambers 20 years after burials ceased, suggesting that people were visiting their parents' graves. Archaeologists were able to provide precise dates for the six barrows by using a new technique that combines radiocarbon dating with Bayesian statistics.

Radiocarbon dating, callibrated by dendrochronology, is accurate to about 250 years with Early Neolithic remains but when combined with Bayesian statistical analysis, in which artefacts are assessed by such things as the soil they were found in, dates accurate to a decade can be reached.

Alex Bayliss, a radiocarbon dating expert with English Heritage, said: "Maybe the idea of an egalitarian, peaceful land is not as true as we thought." Of Wayland's Smithy, she said: "Maybe this is the result of an epidemic of collective violence. Maybe there was a cattle raid where most of the women and children fled to hide in the woods and the men stayed to fight and lost the battle." Michael Wysocki, of the University of Central Lancaster, said that the period appeared to have been one "of increasing social tension and upheaval".


What’s behind the ‘new anti-Semitism’ in the West?

Frank Furedy below takes a cautious line but still sees Israel as being demonized

The game of ‘spot the anti-Semite’ currently being played in intellectual circles misses what is new in expressions of the oldest prejudice today.

So, who is an anti-Semite today? It is very difficult to answer that question, since virtually no one in the West is prepared to acknowledge that they dislike Jewish people or Jewishness. Yet some commentators insist that we are confronted with a new phenomenon – ‘The New Anti-Semitism’ – which is apparently thriving and becoming increasingly menacing.

For evidence of a new form of the oldest prejudice, they point to a rise in the number of physical and verbal attacks on Jewish people in Europe; to the expansion of anti-Jewish hatred and prejudice to the Muslim world; and to what they consider to be prejudice dressed up as political criticism, where hatred and invective against the Jews is expressed through anti-Zionism and the criticism of Israel.

In recent months, the debate about the new anti-Semitism has shifted to the US. There, a number of individuals critical of Israel and Israeli policies have been accused of being anti-Semitic. In turn, the critics of Israel argue that the charge of anti-Semitism is a mendacious attempt to deflect legitimate criticism of Israeli policy, particularly in relation to the Palestinians.

Unfortunately it is quite easy to become disoriented in the debate about the new anti-Semitism, since its focus is often on what people ‘really mean’ rather than on what they actually say.

Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal is one of those who argues that many critics of Israel are motivated by an anti-Semitic impulse. However, he acknowledges that it is difficult to demonstrate, convincingly, that someone is anti-Semitic. ‘[There] aren’t many anti-Semites today who will actually come out with it and say “I hate Jews”’, he notes. Therefore, ‘spotting an anti-Semite requires forensic skills, interpretive wits, and moral judgement’ (1).

However, combining forensic skills, interpretive wits and moral judgements is not necessarily conducive to searching for the truth. Rather, such methods of ‘investigation’ might lead individuals to see something that isn’t there. Making a moral judgment call about what an individual really means is a highly subjective act, which can be influenced by the judger’s own prejudices and by other cultural and political assumptions. If such a method for ‘spotting an anti-Semite’ were to become institutionalised, we would surely end up with a definition of anti-Semitism so entirely subjective and detached from intent that it would become all but meaningless. Just as we already have ‘unwitting racism’ in the UK, perhaps we would end up with accusations of ‘unwitting anti-Semitism’ against those judged by other people’s interpretive wits to be anti-Semitic.

Stephens’ call for moral judgements on what people really mean can only encourage an inquisitorial climate. Yet he does highlight a genuine problem with public debate today. We live in a world where speech is heavily policed, and where people are actually discouraged from saying what they genuinely believe. People habitually censor themselves in anticipation of the charge that they are defying some contemporary speech code, whether formal or informal. Increasingly, fear of being told ‘You can’t say that!’ is giving rise to a culture of self-censorship. At a time when calling someone ‘old’ instead of ‘elderly’ is likely to lead to charges of insensitivity, or using the word blind or handicapped can cause a storm of controversy, people have become careful indeed about what they say and how they say it.

Matters are even more complicated when it comes to anti-Semitism. Since the Holocaust, and especially in recent decades, very few in the West have openly expressed anti-Jewish sentiments. Indeed, in some European countries it is illegal to make anti-Semitic comments, and even where it is not illegal, there are powerful cultural barriers against holding or giving voice to such views. The marginalisation and even criminalisation of public expressions of anti-Semitism are in part understandable responses to the tragic events of the Second World War. They are also a consequence of what we might call the sanctification of the Holocaust.

In recent years, the Holocaust has been elevated to the status of a secular truth and a moral compass. At a time of great moral uncertainty in the West, the Holocaust increasingly serves as a unique symbol of evil, and thus atoning for it is seen as an act of virtue. There are Holocaust Memorial Days, through which governments communicate their key values, including multiculturalism, anti-bullying and the protection and promotion of self-esteem. There are more and more Holocaust museums and memorials that seek to remind us what can happen when we lose our humanity. The Holocaust is now taught as part of citizenship or religious studies classes in numerous schools, and is discussed in a growing number of ethical and moral schoolbooks aimed at children.

It is not an exaggeration to say that this transformation of the Holocaust into a secular sacred symbol underpins the West’s entire moral universe today. That is another reason why, even by the standards of the prevailing climate of self-censorship, explicit anti-Semitic pronouncements are relatively so rare. This symbolisation of the Holocaust also helps to explain some of what lies behind today’s ‘new anti-Semitism’.

Is the genie out of the bottle?

Those who believe that there is a new anti-Semitism also fear that the moral authority of the Holocaust is being breached. One critic of the ‘new anti-Semitism’, Alvin Rosenfeld, writes that ‘despite the huge scandal of the Holocaust, which most Jews probably thought would prevent public manifestation of anti-Semitism from ever appearing again, the genie is once more out of the bottle’ (2). According to Rosenfeld, author of a pamphlet on the new anti-Semitism published by the American Jewish Committee, Jew-hatred has become globalised and has become particularly virulent in the Muslim world. He is especially concerned about what he considers to be the emergence of a strident anti-Zionist sentiment in the West, one that increasingly calls into question the right of Israel to exist.

In essence, Rosenfeld’s pamphlet is a response to the growing influence of anti-Israeli criticism among American public figures and intellectuals – including some Jewish thinkers. In recent years, and over the past year in particular, Israeli policy has come under fire from a variety of public figures in the US. Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer’s controversial criticism of the ‘Israel lobby’ in the London Review of Books and former president Jimmy Carter’s attack on various Israeli policies are symptomatic of a new mood of estrangement from Zionism within Washington. At the same time, numerous intellectuals – Tony Judt, Tony Kushner, Adrienne Rich – have also laid into Israel, attacking its policies and its global role.

Rosenfeld, like many of his co-thinkers, takes the view that ‘anti-Zionism, in fact, is the form that much of today’s anti-Semitism takes, so much so that some now see earlier attempts to rid the world of Jews finding a parallel in present-day desires to get rid of the Jewish state’ (3). In a world where it is still not permissible to be openly anti-Semitic, it is of course possible that some hide their real thoughts about the Jews behind attacks on Israel. But is that what motivates the new band of anti-Israeli critics? Or is it the case that, as John Judis, senior editor of the American magazine The New Republic argues, ‘what these charges are meant to do is to raise the warning flag of anti-Semitism over certain opinions, placing them beyond argument’? (4)

Before answering that question, it is important to note that the genie may indeed have escaped from the bottle. The sanctification of the Holocaust, the institutionalisation of this horrific event as a new moral absolute to guide our societies, has had the predictable effect of breeding cynicism, and in some cases giving rise to contestation over the meaning of the Holocaust. Consider Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent sponsorship of a conference questioning the Holocaust: that is only the most striking illustration of an attempt to hit out at the West by undermining the moral meaning of the Holocaust, an historic episode that is now tied so closely to Western governments’ sense of moral purpose and vision.

Even more significantly, some have sought to divest Israel from any association with the moral authority of the Holocaust. Critics of Israel, some unconsciously, others consciously, try to turn the symbolic authority of the Holocaust against Israel. So opponents of Israel frequently accuse the Israeli government of acting like the Nazis. Respectable media outlets in the West now regularly claim that Israel is engaged in ethnic cleansing, genocide, crimes against humanity, all of which invite comparisons between Israel and the Nazis. Some critics liken Theodor Herzl, the founding father of Zionism, to Adolf Hitler. Israeli or Jewish complicity in Israel’s war crimes is said by some to be even more comprehensive than the complicity of the German people with the crimes of the Nazis. Some talk of the ‘Nazification’ of Israeli society, suggesting a role reversal, whereby Jews become the twenty-first century equivalent of their former oppressors.

In any intense debate, it is easy to get carried away and exaggerate the sins of your opponents, to go over the top and slander your enemy – especially in our morally illiterate times, where it has become common to denounce your enemy for being ‘like the Nazis!’ Viewed in this context, it seems that calling Israelis ‘Nazis’ does not make you a closet anti-Semite. Rather it represents a sordid rhetorical strategy for laying claim to the moral authority of the Holocaust. At the same time, the association of Zionism with Nazism looks like an attempt to dispossess Israel of the moral authority it derives from its association with the Holocaust. Effectively, ‘ownership’ of the Holocaust, which today confers authority on those who uphold its memory, is now being contested by the opponents of Israel. In this sense, at least, the genie is indeed out of the bottle, though not in the way that many of the critics of the new anti-Semitism understand it.

Demonising Israel

In a confused and confusing debate, where much of the focus is on what people apparently ‘secretly mean’ and where there is an emerging competition over the Holocaust, it can be difficult to get to the truth. However, as a rule of thumb, it is worth judging people by what they say and do rather than what we think they mean. The criticism of Israel should be interpreted as just that. To criticise Israel, even to call into question the legitimacy of the Jewish state, is not, in itself, an act of anti-Semitism. Even the harshest denunciation of Israel can be inspired by motives that have nothing to do with anti-Semitism. It is certainly difficult to characterise the arguments put forward by someone like American commentator Tony Judt as anti-Semitic. Therefore, it is possible to draw the conclusion that some wield the charge of anti-Semitism against their opponents in order to defend Israel from legitimate criticism.

However, something very peculiar is emerging in the debate about Israel today, on both sides of the Atlantic. Increasingly, Israel is depicted as the biggest threat to world peace and stability. The Walt and Mearsheimer article not only suggested that the pro-Israel lobby had more or less hijacked Washington’s foreign policy; it also implicitly called into question the loyalty of American Jews to America and its interests. These days, you do not have to look very far before finding someone who is convinced of the omnipotence of the American Jewish lobby. In recent weeks colleagues of mine on both the left and right of the political spectrum have tried to convince me that were it not for the Jewish lobby there would be no war in Iraq.

This view of the American Jewish lobby as an omnipotent global conspiracy springs from a growing tendency to demonise – not just criticise – Israel. Israel is represented as a malevolent society sui generis. It alone faces regular demands for academic and commercial boycotts. It is frequently described as the greatest threat to global stability, and portrayed as an intensely racist and barbaric society. Once upon a time, leftists viewed Israel as a guard-dog of imperialism; these days they are more likely to discuss it as the very seat of the Empire. Whatever the motivations behind this demonisation of Israel, it does seem that Israel is judged by a double standard by a rising number of influential thinkers and activists.

For a variety of reasons, Israel has come to bear the cross of the West’s sins. In Europe in particular, there is a powerful sense of weariness towards Israel. ‘If only it would go away, then we would have a chance for peace in the Middle East’, is the fantasy view of some European officials and writers. Others simply resent Israel’s claims to special status on the basis of its links with the Holocaust – which is why there is a growing trend to turn the moral power of the Holocaust against Israel. The West’s estrangement from Israel today does not mean it is ready to rethink its transformation of the Holocaust into a new moral symbol. All that it means is that the West increasingly embraces the ‘good Jews’ who were the victims of the Nazis, while distancing itself from the ‘bad Jews’ who are alive and kicking in Israel.

In today’s climate of self-censorship, moral uncertainty and competition over the Holocaust, it does not look as if the genie of the ‘new anti-Semitism’ will return to the bottle anytime soon.



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.


12 March, 2007

Hate-filled peaceniks

It would seem bizarre that a group calling itself the "Western New York Peace Center" would actually be inciting hatred. But for those of us who have seen the rise of virulent anti-Israeli campaigning on campuses, it's no longer hard to believe. What has most troubled our SPME members in Buffalo is that the local organization that goes by the "Peace Center" name uses the guise of peace to teach intolerance to students, on campus. A highlight was the Peace Center's co-sponsorship of a speech at the University at Buffalo by Norman Finkelstein, who used the stage to share his view that Israelis want to turn themselves into an Aryan race and that the Jewish name "Ari" stands for "Aryan," along with other similarly informed observations.

After careful study of the Peace Center's record of sponsoring events in the Buffalo area, we issued a four page statement on January 31, 2007, and distributed it widely. Twenty of our members signed, representing Erie Community College, SUNY College at Buffalo, SUNY College at Brockport, and my own institution, the University at Buffalo, which is also part of SUNY. After documenting the Center's grossly distorted statement about events in Jenin and its record of sponsoring virulent speakers, our statement concluded that the organization's actions have belied its ostensive commitment to peace. Nonetheless, since peace has to be pursued in dialog with adversaries, we offered to be open to conversation with the Peace Center, though we conditioned our offer on the Peace Center's willingness to publicly apologize for at least one event, its co-sponsorship for Finkelstein.

The Buffalo Jewish Review printed our statement in its entirety over two issues. According to the editor, Mrs. Rita Weiss, it is the longest article ever to appear in the paper, which has been published since the early 20th century. The statement was also distributed around the world by the NGO Monitor, recognizing the Western New York Peace Center as another politicized nongovernmental organization that capitalizes on public good will-traditionally extended to nonprofit organizations claiming a humanitarian cause like peace-to pursue a partisan and inflammatory agenda against Israel. Locally, our case was briefly covered on WBFO, the local National Public Radio affiliate. The director of the Peace Center defended its sponsorships simply as cases of upholding free speech and providing an additional perspective.

Let me conclude by reflecting on this fallback to the free-speech defense. It's a poor retort, for several reasons. Local anti-Israel activists are not civil libertarians-they do not go out of their way to defend speech coming from those they disagree with. Nor, for that matter, are the Israel-haters' speech rights threatened; on campuses and political rallies around the country, virulent anti-Zionism has center stage. What is more, support for free speech is no reason to invite hateful speech. Free speech is a political right, not a campus or institutional obligation. The claim that Israelis want to become Aryans is not a "perspective" that illuminate understanding, but rather a slander, lie, or stupidity that obtrudes on perspective. It is for this very reason that no faculty member is obligated to invite pederasts to speak about childhood safety or the KKK to speak about racism: non-invitation in such cases upholds the very meaning of civilized discourse, which must progress by successively examining moral claims and excluding demonstrable lies. It's revealing that a supposed peace organization, when confronted with evidence that pierces its humanitarian pretense, would resort to the free-speech defense. That it is unable to confront criticism against its claims, and instead merely defends its right to make them, reveals the vacuity of its position.


British schoolboys arrested over `racist taunts'

A typical British police over-reaction. All that happened was a bit of juvenile cheekiness -- a repetition by some kid or kids of a sporting expression that drew attention to the teacher's Jewishness. At a time when calls to the British police for assistance are routinely ignored, one could only hope that they would react with the vigour shown below to complaints of burglary, assault etc. Under Ingsoc (Orwell's abbreviation of "English Socialism"), thoughtcrime is more important than real crime. I have zero tolerance for antisemitism but this was just kids being kids.

Eight teenage boys were arrested in class after a film shown on the internet was alleged to show them shouting racist taunts at a teaching assistant, David Appleman, during his leaving party. Police took the 14 and 15-year-olds out of Chauncy School at Ware, Hertfordshire, drove them off in vans and questioned them for nine hours at Bishop's Stortford police station. They were fingerprinted, photographed and had DNA swabs taken. A spokeswoman said that reports of a racist incident were being investigated.

The film was made in December and posted on the YouTube video-sharing website. Police are believed to have removed it for examination. The youths were released on police bail. A Hertfordshire Police spokesman said: " "We take allegations of this nature very seriously and we believe we acted accordingly."

Dennis O'Sullivan, Chauncy School's head teacher, said: "When these boys realised that Mr Appleman was leaving they prepared a tribute to Mr Appleman for his last lesson. "David is seen on video looking delighted, smiling and shaking hands with each of the boys." It is thought that the alleged racist comments followed afterwards.

Mr O'Sullivan said he believed that Mr Appleman had complained to police, adding: "It is sad to see he made a complaint against our students without telling us." He continued: "None of us should accept racism in any part of our lives." Police said that investigations into the matter were ongoing.


We read elsewhere:

They were accused by Chauncy's former technology assistant, David Appleman, of making anti-Semitic remarks during his leaving party in December. It is alleged that 'Yid Army' was shouted - a nickname for Tottenham Hotspur's Jewish supporters that is often heard at football grounds.

'Politically Incorrect' Web Site In Beta

A Burbank, Calif.-based, self-described "politically incorrect comedy network" launched last month with comedy, games, networking and user-generated video.

Now in beta, OURcountry.com delivers nine irreverent channels of politically incorrect videos, outrageous games, and networking opportunities that appeal to South Park conservatives with the functionality of both MySpace and YouTube. You can create online issue campaigns and upload video clips to build a group of friends and volunteers online. Some of the special video programming includes "Border Bloopers" and "Feed the Supermodels."

"We are building an online community of people for the other half of America," said social director Jonathan Moore. "OURcountry is a place for those who’ve grown tired of the liberal bias on other social networking sites. On our site you can connect with people you want to meet and launch your career to the next level.”

OURcountry.com's development team includes Lee Troxler, a high tech entrepreneur and producer of "FahrenHYPE 9/11"; Gabe Abelson, a one-time comedy writer for late-night hosts Jay Leno and David Letterman, and Floyd Brown, former executive director of Young America's Foundation.


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.


11 March, 2007

Mothers and fathers make ideal staff

Working mums and dads rejoice -- kids don't have to be career poison, a new study has found. Parent workers are better able to handle workplace stress, multi-tasking, negotiation and conflict resolution, it says. The survey of 347 managers, published in the latest American Journal of Applied Psychology, buries long-held assumptions that children and career don't mix. It found that parents make happier and more productive workers, and that child-rearing develops skills that become useful at work.

Co-author Marian Ruderman, of Clark University in Massachusetts, said it was the first study that showed being a parent improved not just personal well-being but work performance. "Being able to manage the demands of children and running a household helps respondents better mange the stress of work," her co-author Laura Graves said. "Family experiences help managers develop the ability to see other's views -- a capacity critical to supervising others, working in teams or relating to superiors."

Dr Graves said businesses could learn from the results. "While many organisations have adopted family-friendly policies, most still assume a family focus will detract from performance. "Our research suggests a family-focused manager may be the leader your company should have."



That seems to be the implication of a recent Harvard article. Summary below lifted from Taranto

The Harvard Crimson reports on a telling trend among selective universities:

While Harvard leads the nation in black student yield numbers [the fraction of accepted applicants who enroll], a high proportion of those enrollees may be recent black immigrants, not African Americans, a new study found. The study's goal was to examine reasons behind the high level of diversity in heritage and socioeconomic levels within black student populations at 28 American universities, said Camille Z. Charles, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. The report was published in last month's American Journal of Education (AJE).

According to data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen conducted in 1999, immigrants account for 26.7 percent of black students at the universities used in the AJE study. At Ivy League schools, the statistic reached 40.6 percent. Because first- and second-generation immigrants only accounted for 13 percent of all 18- and 19-year-old black students, according to the Current Population Survey conducted the same year, the numbers show that recent black immigrants are represented in these universities at higher proportions than in the general population, the study says.

The terminology here is awfully confused. For one thing, "second-generation immigrants" would seem to mean not immigrants at all, but native Americans whose parents are immigrants. For another, as we've noted before, the exclusion of immigrants from Africa (and their children) from the category "African-American" shows how senseless is the politically correct employment of that term. You wouldn't say, "His parents are immigrants from Ireland, so he's not Irish-American."

What is clear here, though, is that, at least as measured by enrollment in elite universities, black immigrants and their children are succeeding in America far more, on average, than blacks whose families have been in the U.S. for generations--i.e., the descendants of slaves. This is a strong argument against the proposition that black underachievement in America is primarily the result of present-day racism. How to explain the disparity? The Crimson article offers this:

Charles said the gap had less to do with value systems of immigrants as a group, and more with who immigrants tend to be. "In practical terms, immigrants, no matter what color they are, are a highly selective group of people," she said. "At some level, there will always be an immigrant-native difference because you only get the most motivated, best prepared, cream-of-the-crop set of immigrants," since their families have had to leave their native countries and start anew in the United States, she said.

Dear fun police, you'll never take me alive

By Caroline Overington

Late in 2004, gadfly Christopher Hitchens was asked by his editor at Vanity Fair to take a walk around New York City, breaking all manner of rules. Hitchens did as bidden: he sat on a milk crate, put his feet on the subway seats and rode a bicycle without putting both feet on the pedals. (It must have been something to see, since Hitchens often wears his shirts open to the waist to better display the hair on his belly, apparently known as the "Pelt of the Hitch".) He tried to smoke while drinking at a bar, putting forward the position that cigarettes improved his memory and digestion, and made him a finer writer. Still, he was quickly told to put it out.

For this orgy of lawlessness, Hitchens could have been fined many hundreds of dollars. The point, of course, was to demonstrate how safe (and dull?) New York has become, with so many petty rules in place. Surely the people would soon rise up and riot? In fact, it's getting worse. Last month, a New York lawmaker proposed a ban on the wearing of gadgets such as iPods while crossing the street because people have been killed doing just that, oblivious to cars while grooving away to loud music. There is talk of banning the word nigger - even in music - because it's so offensive.

Hitchens says there is "nobody good enough in the world" to be a censor, let alone of language. "No one should have that job," he said recently. "That is a flat-out fundamentalist proposition to me." Why, he complained, "is one not allowed to go to hell in their own way?"

Of course, what starts in New York spreads like lava across the globe and so the pettiness has come to Australia. Last week two Sydneysiders were banned from smoking in their home, a decision that came after organisers banned the Mexican wave at the cricket, which came after Sydney's Waverley Council announced a plan to ban trans fats, which came after music fans were warned not to wave Australian flags at the Big Day Out.

Then, last week, organisers announced a list of restrictions for the walk celebrating the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. People would not be able to just turn up on the day and saunter with abandon. Walkers would have to register in advance and say how many people would be in their group. They wouldn't be able to bring a skateboard or an excited puppy. Worst of all, they would be told what time they could start walking, and there would be no stopping on the way.

Australian Privacy Foundation chairman Roger Clarke who, as with Hitchens, has had it up to here with officialdom, says the issue is basically one of "gutlessness; we are quivering at the ludicrous". My colleague Peter Lalor, author of The Bridge, is also dismayed. In his magnificent book, he tells the tale of a nine-year-old boy who rode more than 1400km on horseback, unsupervised, from Leongatha in Victoria just to make the official opening. But that was 1932: now, even Lalor admits he won't let his nine-year-old cross the street without supervision.

We know why it's happening, of course: we are trying to take the pain and risk out of living. The trouble is, it can't - and shouldn't - be done. When I wrote about the rules for the bridge walk in The Weekend Australian last Saturday, a kind reader got in touch to say: "Yes, it's as if the length of life is the only thing that matters." Which, in turn, is like that old joke: if you give up alcohol, cigarettes, red meat and magnificent sex with people you hardly know, you may not live longer but it will certainly feel like it.

I can't count the number of reckless things I've done in the past week, but here's a sample: I rode my retro-styled motor scooter to the beach wearing not leathers but a bikini; I dived from a cliff into the sea at Tamarama while carrying a handful of my recently departed dog's ashes, even though the beach was technically closed and there were blue bottles all about, because I wanted to have one last swim with her; I sat in the garden with a neighbour and we laughed and drank so much red wine that we forgot it was a school night and let the children fall asleep in their uniforms on the loungeroom floor.

The following day, we bounced around on our trampoline, which is the old-fashioned type with no fence around it, so we could have fallen off at any time and snapped a bone. And when it started to rain we got so soaked we had to peel off our clothes. None of it was safe, not all of it was painless, but we felt magnificently happy and alive, and that is more important.



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.


10 March, 2007


Lewis Libby has now been found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice for lies that had absolutely no legal consequence. It was not a crime to reveal Valerie Plame's name because she was not a covert agent. If it had been a crime, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald could have wrapped up his investigation with an indictment of the State Department's Richard Armitage on the first day of his investigation since it was Armitage who revealed her name, and Fitzgerald knew it.

With no crime to investigate, Fitzgerald pursued a pointless investigation into nothing, getting a lot of White House officials to make statements under oath and hoping some of their recollections would end up conflicting with other witness recollections, so he could charge some Republican with "perjury" and enjoy the fawning media attention.

As a result, Libby is now a convicted felon for having a faulty memory of the person who first told him that Joe Wilson was a delusional boob who lied about his wife sending him to Niger. This makes it official: It's illegal to be Republican.

Since Teddy Kennedy walked away from a dead girl with only a wrist slap (which was knocked down to a mild talking-to, plus time served: zero), Democrats have apparently become a protected class in America, immune from criminal prosecution no matter what they do.

As a result, Democrats have run wild, accepting bribes, destroying classified information, lying under oath, molesting interns, driving under the influence, obstructing justice and engaging in sex with underage girls, among other things.

Meanwhile, conservatives of any importance constantly have to spend millions of dollars defending themselves from utterly frivolous criminal prosecutions. Everything is illegal, but only Republicans get prosecuted.

Conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh was subjected to a three-year criminal investigation for allegedly buying prescription drugs illegally to treat chronic back pain. Despite the witch-hunt, Democrat prosecutor Barry E. Krischer never turned up a crime. Even if he had, to quote liberal Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz: "Generally, people who illegally buy prescription drugs are not prosecuted." Unless they're Republicans. The vindictive prosecution of Limbaugh finally ended last year with a plea bargain in which Limbaugh did not admit guilt. Gosh, don't you feel safer now? I know I do.

In another prescription drug case with a different result, last year, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (Democrat), apparently high as a kite on prescription drugs, crashed a car on Capitol Hill at 3 a.m. That's abuse of prescription drugs plus a DUI offense. Result: no charges whatsoever and one day of press on Fox News Channel.

I suppose one could argue those were different jurisdictions. How about the same jurisdiction? In 2006, Democrat and major Clinton contributor Jeffrey Epstein was nabbed in Palm Beach in a massive police investigation into his hiring of local underage schoolgirls for sex, which I'm told used to be a violation of some kind of statute in the Palm Beach area. The police presented Limbaugh prosecutor Krischer with boatloads of evidence, including the videotaped statements of five of Epstein's alleged victims, the procurer of the girls for Epstein and 16 other witnesses.

But the same prosecutor who spent three years maniacally investigating Limbaugh's alleged misuse of back-pain pills refused to bring statutory rape charges against a Clinton contributor. Enraging the police, who had spent months on the investigation, Krischer let Epstein off after a few hours on a single count of solicitation of prostitution. The Clinton supporter walked, and his victims were branded as whores.

The Republican former House Whip Tom DeLay is currently under indictment for a minor campaign-finance violation. Democratic prosecutor Ronnie Earle had to empanel six grand juries before he could find one to indict DeLay on these pathetic charges - and this is in Austin, Texas (the Upper West Side with better-looking people). That final grand jury was so eager to indict DeLay that it indicted him on one charge that was not even a crime - and which has since been tossed out by the courts. After winning his primary despite the indictment, DeLay decided to withdraw from the race rather than campaign under a cloud of suspicion, and Republicans lost one of their strongest champions in Congress.

Compare DeLay's case with that of Rep. William "The Refrigerator" Jefferson, Democrat. Two years ago, an FBI investigation caught Jefferson on videotape taking $100,000 in bribe money. When the FBI searched Jefferson's house, they found $90,000 in cash stuffed in his freezer. Two people have already pleaded guilty to paying Jefferson the bribe money. Two years later, Bush's Justice Department still has taken no action against Jefferson. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently put Rep. William Jefferson on the Homeland Security Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat, engaged in a complicated land swindle, buying a parcel of land for $400,000 and selling it for over $1 million a few years later. (At least it wasn't cattle futures!) Reid also received more than four times as much money from Jack Abramoff (nearly $70,000) as Tom DeLay ($15,000). DeLay returned the money; Reid refuses to do so. Why should he? He's a Democrat.

Former Clinton national security adviser Sandy Berger literally received a sentence of community service for stuffing classified national security documents in his pants and then destroying them - big, fat federal felonies. But Scooter Libby is facing real prison time for forgetting who told him about some bozo's wife.

Bill Clinton was not even prosecuted for obstruction of justice offenses so egregious that the entire Supreme Court staged a historic boycott of his State of the Union address in 2000. By contrast, Linda Tripp, whose only mistake was befriending the office hosebag and then declining to perjure herself, spent millions on lawyers to defend a harassment prosecution based on far-fetched interpretations of state wiretapping laws. Liberal law professors currently warning about the "high price" of pursuing terrorists under the Patriot Act had nothing but blood lust for Tripp one year after Clinton was impeached (Steven Lubet, "Linda Tripp Deserves to be Prosecuted," New York Times, Aug. 25, 1999).

Criminal prosecution is a surrogate for political warfare, but in this war, Republicans are gutless appeasers.



Wrapping up her address to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington Friday, bestselling author and right-wing poison-mouth Ann Coulter took a witless swipe at former US senator John Edwards: "I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards," Coulter said, "but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot.' So . . . I can't really talk about Edwards."

Judging from video of the event posted on the Internet, Coulter's asinine crack was greeted with laughter and some applause. But condemnation was swift. The Edwards campaign posted the video on its website, along with a statement accusing Coulter of having "brought hate-speech politics to a new low" -- and asking supporters to "help us raise $100,000 in 'Coulter Cash' this week to keep this campaign charging ahead." Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean called Coulter's comments "hate-filled and bigoted," and urged Republicans to "denounce her hateful remarks."

They needed no urging. John McCain's campaign slammed Coulter's statement as "wildly inappropriate." Mitt Romney's spokesman called it "offensive." Rudy Giuliani said "there should be no place for such name-calling in political debate." But the candidates' rebukes were tepid compared with the scalding outrage from movement conservatives. "There are enough spewers of mindless filth, vulgarity, and hatred" in American life, fumed the influential Michelle Malkin . "We don't expect . . . that garbage at the nation's preeminent conservative gathering." The editors of RedState.com announced curtly that "Ann Coulter doesn't speak for us," and said it should be "the last time a candidate for public office willingly accepts her endorsement or appears on the same stage with her." Boston's Dean Barnett , a notable voice at HughHewitt.com , was concise in his appraisal: "Idiotic. Disgusting. Stupid. Moronic."

At GOPUSA.com, Cliff Kincaid blasted Coulter's "bizarre behavior and utterances" and urged the conservative weekly Human Events to drop her from its masthead. Rick Moran of Rightwing Nuthouse pronounced Coulter a "despicable woman" who "deliberately uses hate language to get a rise out of the left and get the rest of us talking about her." A slew of conservative bloggers simultaneously posted an open letter lambasting Coulter's invective as "intolerable" and "vicious," and urging that she henceforth be dropped as a speaker. "How can we teach young conservatives to fight for their principles with civility and respect," they demanded, "when Ann Coulter is allowed to address the conference?"

Meanwhile, Coulter wasn't the only performing pundit to say something appalling last Friday. On his HBO talk show "Real Time," Bill Maher defended liberals who lamented that last week's terrorist attack in Afghanistan didn't kill Vice President Dick Cheney. "If this isn't China," Maher asked, "shouldn't you be able to say that? . . . I have zero doubt that if Dick Cheney was not in power, people wouldn't be dying needlessly tomorrow." The audience applauded and laughed. A moment later Maher said it again, even more emphatically: "I'm just saying, if he did die, other people -- more people -- would live. That's a fact."

Considering the reaction to Coulter's crude taunt, it isn't surprising that Maher's all-but-explicit assassination fantasy triggered an avalanche of criticism. Except that it didn't. There was no statement from Howard Dean, no denunciation from the presidential campaigns, no storm of protest from liberal bloggers repelled by Maher's remarks.

Like Coulter, Maher has a history of repugnant statements. After a riding accident left Christopher Reeve crippled for life, for example, Maher praised the horse: "If you try to make a horse jump over something that it doesn't want to jump over, I think it really should throw you off its back." In November, he said on CNN that "the people who really run the underpinnings of the Republican Party are gay," specifically naming GOP chairman Ken Mehlman. But while Coulter's latest puerile insult drew lavish media attention, Maher's far more offensive remarks barely caused a ripple.

A Nexis search Monday turned up 91 stories mentioning "Ann Coulter and John Edwards" in the previous 2 1/2 days. There were four that referred to "Bill Maher and Dick Cheney." Google News listed more than 900 web pages dealing with Coulter/Edwards, but only 15 concerning Maher/Cheney.

If there is one thing America's polarized public discourse desperately needs, it is fewer smears and slurs. If there is another, it is an end to the double standard that loudly condemns hate speech when it comes from the right, while barely noticing when it spews from the left. Coulter and Maher may win cheap laughs, but some kinds of "humor" are distinctly unfunny. Political passion has its place in the marketplace of ideas. Poison doesn't -- and neither does anyone who can't tell them apart.


Affirmative action at work in Australia

Hiring someone on the basis of what they have between their legs is not likely to lead to a top quality appointment -- as Queenslanders are learning about their feminist governor. The post is largely ceremonial but, being vice-regal, is very prestigious. The Leftist Queensland government that appointed her to the post is known for affirmative action appointments -- in the legal system particularly. The governor is formally the head of the legal system. She would appear to be a rather arrogant and unpleasant person when not on her best behaviour. Vice-regal figures are normally expected to be beyond reproach

Government House has been thrown into turmoil with the dramatic arrest of a footman, the theft of jewellery and allegations of harassment and bullying. Police said Darren Andrew Sills, 39, was arrested in a swoop on Government House, but was still on the run yesterday after skipping bail. Sills served Governor Quentin Bryce and visiting dignitaries.

The security breach is further embarrassment for Ms Bryce, who has been criticised for what staff say is her autocratic style. Police said the Sills warrants related to "relatively minor" thefts at Cairns, and were unrelated to the reported theft of four valuable rings from Ms Bryce's personal jewellery box. The rings were reported missing a month before Sills joined the staff. The Order of Australia medal awarded to the Governor's husband, Michael Bryce, was considered to be of little value by the thief.

Staff are bitter they are under suspicion while the case remains unresolved. Meanwhile, staff are leaving in droves with departures including three chefs, an under butler, a chauffeur, a personal assistant and a second footman. Staff complain of unnecessary interference by Ms Bryce, who even insisted that gardens be torn up so purple and pink flowers could be planted for International Women's Day.

There has been an exodus of long-serving staff since Ms Bryce, an ardent feminist, was given the plum job in July 2003. The vice-regal crisis worsened this week with whispers of possible strike action in support of a chauffeur, Lee Sinn, who told his union he had been bullied by management. He was supported by the Sergeant of Arms, Terry Hunter, who also filed a harassment claim with the Queensland Public Sector Union against management. Mr Sinn was infuriated when ordered to remove a small indigenous badge from his lapel. Mr Sinn said yesterday his issues were with managers, not the Governor, who had always treated him courteously.



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.


9 March, 2007

How my eyes were opened to the barbarity of Islam

By Phyllis Chesler

Once I was held captive in Kabul. I was the bride of a charming, seductive and Westernised Afghan Muslim whom I met at an American college. The purdah I experienced was relatively posh but the sequestered all-female life was not my cup of chai - nor was the male hostility to veiled, partly veiled and unveiled women in public.

When we landed in Kabul, an airport official smoothly confiscated my US passport. "Don't worry, it's just a formality," my husband assured me. I never saw that passport again. I later learnt that this was routinely done to foreign wives - perhaps to make it impossible for them to leave. Overnight, my husband became a stranger. The man with whom I had discussed Camus, Dostoevsky, Tennessee Williams and the Italian cinema became a stranger. He treated me the same way his father and elder brother treated their wives: distantly, with a hint of disdain and embarrassment.

In our two years together, my future husband had never once mentioned that his father had three wives and 21 children. Nor did he tell me that I would be expected to live as if I had been reared as an Afghan woman. I was supposed to lead a largely indoor life among women, to go out only with a male escort and to spend my days waiting for my husband to return or visiting female relatives, or having new (and very fashionable) clothes made.

In America, my husband was proud that I was a natural-born rebel and free thinker. In Afghanistan, my criticism of the treatment of women and of the poor rendered him suspect, vulnerable. He mocked my horrified reactions. But I knew what my eyes and ears told me. I saw how poor women in chadaris were forced to sit at the back of the bus and had to keep yielding their place on line in the bazaar to any man.

I saw how polygamous, arranged marriages and child brides led to chronic female suffering and to rivalry between co-wives and half-brothers; how the subordination and sequestration of women led to a profound estrangement between the sexes - one that led to wife-beating, marital rape and to a rampant but hotly denied male "prison"-like homosexuality and pederasty; how frustrated, neglected and uneducated women tormented their daughter-in-laws and female servants; how women were not allowed to pray in mosques or visit male doctors (their husbands described the symptoms in their absence).

Individual Afghans were enchantingly courteous - but the Afghanistan I knew was a bastion of illiteracy, poverty, treachery and preventable diseases. It was also a police state, a feudal monarchy and a theocracy, rank with fear and paranoia. Afghanistan had never been colonised. My relatives said: "Not even the British could occupy us." Thus I was forced to conclude that Afghan barbarism was of their own making and could not be attributed to Western imperialism.

Long before the rise of the Taleban, I learnt not to romanticise Third World countries or to confuse their hideous tyrants with liberators. I also learnt that sexual and religious apartheid in Muslim countries is indigenous and not the result of Western crimes - and that such "colourful tribal customs" are absolutely, not relatively, evil. Long before al-Qaeda beheaded Daniel Pearl in Pakistan and Nicholas Berg in Iraq, I understood that it was dangerous for a Westerner, especially a woman, to live in a Muslim country. In retrospect, I believe my so-called Western feminism was forged in that most beautiful and treacherous of Eastern countries.

Nevertheless, Western intellectual-ideologues, including feminists, have demonised me as a reactionary and racist "Islamophobe" for arguing that Islam, not Israel, is the largest practitioner of both sexual and religious apartheid in the world and that if Westerners do not stand up to this apartheid, morally, economically and militarily, we will not only have the blood of innocents on our hands; we will also be overrun by Sharia in the West. I have been heckled, menaced, never-invited, or disinvited for such heretical ideas - and for denouncing the epidemic of Muslim-on-Muslim violence for which tiny Israel is routinely, unbelievably scapegoated.

However, my views have found favour with the bravest and most enlightened people alive. Leading secular Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents - from Egypt, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Syria and exiles from Europe and North America - assembled for the landmark Islamic Summit Conference in Florida and invited me to chair the opening panel on Monday.

According to the chair of the meeting, Ibn Warraq: "What we need now is an age of enlightenment in the Islamic world. Without critical examination of Islam, it will remain dogmatic, fanatical and intolerant and will continue to stifle thought, human rights, individuality, originality and truth." The conference issued a declaration calling for such a new "Enlightenment". The declaration views "Islamophobia" as a false allegation, sees a "noble future for Islam as a personal faith, not a political doctrine" and "demands the release of Islam from its captivity to the ambitions of power-hungry men".

Now is the time for Western intellectuals who claim to be antiracists and committed to human rights to stand with these dissidents. To do so requires that we adopt a universal standard of human rights and abandon our loyalty to multicultural relativism, which justifies, even romanticises, indigenous Islamist barbarism, totalitarian terrorism and the persecution of women, religious minorities, homosexuals and intellectuals. Our abject refusal to judge between civilisation and barbarism, and between enlightened rationalism and theocratic fundamentalism, endangers and condemns the victims of Islamic tyranny.



Something odd happens, even to the mightiest of organisations, when they are confronted by a judge in chambers and a smooth-tongued counsel. The threat of an injunction, especially one sought by the Attorney-General, is enough to reduce them to meek compliance. They forget to remind the court that the best response to any damaging disclosure is the one articulated by the Duke of Wellington: "Publish and be damned!" Thus it was that the BBC caved in, last Friday night, to Lord Goldsmith's application for an injunction, which prevented it running a perfectly legitimate story about an alleged Downing Street cover-up. Instead of appealing immediately, the BBC sat back and waited for someone else with a bit more gumption to scoop it.

Injunctions are nearly always a sign of political or personal embarrassment and should nearly always be resisted. They are an act of desperation on the part of a litigant who has something to hide and nothing else to hide behind. They have the effect of drawing far more attention to the matter in hand than would otherwise have been the case, and they fail in the long run. More to the point, they are an infringement of freedom of expression and the public interest.

Only in cases of gross contempt of court, where publication may damage a forthcoming trial or lead to the discharge of a jury, can injunctions be justified. It is up to the judge to point out that if the story complained about is defamatory, a breach of confidence or otherwise contentious, then the litigant should sue rather than suppress. Governments like to add national security to the list of forbidden subjects, but even that is usually a smokescreen. As a veteran of a three-year battle on behalf of The Scotsman newspaper against Mrs Thatcher's Government, which argued, right up to the House of Lords, that the memoirs of a Cold War spy would shatter the edifice of the State, I know whereof I speak. She lost. The Government survived.

Quite why the Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith, should have compromised his independence in this way is a mystery. His claim that the BBC's story, about the role of a Downing Street aide in the cash-for-peerages affair, may have compromised Scotland Yard's inquiries scarcely stands up to scrutiny. Most of the regular leaks have clearly emanated from police sources, so it is hard to argue that this latest one is suddenly unacceptable.

Lord Goldsmith should have told them briskly that their attempt to suppress the story amounts to prior restraint, has no basis in law, and that, if the police think they have a case for contempt, they can institute a prosecution in due course. He may have added that, since no case, even if brought, is likely to come to court in less than two years, the idea that a leaked memo might influence a jury so far ahead is improbable.

Instead, he has opened himself to the accusation that he is seeking to protect the Government from further humiliation. The injunction thus becomes the latest in a list of half-hearted attempts at censorship, such as Tony Blair's bid to prevent the Daily Mirror revealing his alleged conversation with George W. Bush over bombing al-Jazeera.

We should by now have learnt from the United States, where the Supreme Court will always presume in favour of free speech. The prime test case was that of the Pentagon Papers, when the Nixon Administration argued that publication of stolen documents revealing confidential negotiations over Vietnam constituted a threat to national security, on the ground that other nations would no longer trust the US to keep its secrets. The Supreme Court threw out that case and The New York Times published the results. It was a far better advertisement for American self-confidence than a cover-up. Today no one can recollect much of what was in the Pentagon Papers; but the failed attempt to suppress them is still remembered.

Challenging interfering governments should be a prime responsibility of the media. But it takes time, and involves risks, which managements too often shrink from. My three-year legal marathon on The Scotsman exposed that paper to potential costs of hundreds of thousands of pounds - picked up, instead, by the taxpayer after we had won. When The Wall Street Journal challenged an attempted injunction by a Saudi businessman over a story about financing terrorism in 2001, that case, too, went all the way to the Lords and might have cost the newspaper, had it lost, more than $4 million. The Journal argued that a fundamental principle was at stake, and was praised by the courts for its "responsible journalism".

So, courage - moral as well as managerial - is required in defence of media freedom, and the BBC has as much of a responsibility here as any newspaper. It does not, however, have a great track record. When, at the outset of the Hutton inquiry, ITV presented the case for televising the proceedings, its lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, QC, invited the BBC to join him in the action. The BBC refused, perhaps because it thought that the outcome might compromise it as well as the Government.

The time has come, then, for a new slogan to be added to the legal lexicon - something along the lines of "embarrassment is no defence in law". It is as well to remember that Wellington scrawled "Publish and be damned!" on the back of a letter he had received from his mistress, who was threatening to include his name in her scandalous memoirs. He was not only declaring his immunity to exposure, he was defying a potential blackmailer. He may observe today that the line between blackmail and an injunction can be a fine one.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH, 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 March, 2007

Do not appease hatred

(The article below is by Melanie Phillips. You can hear her answering criticisms in a radio interview here)

LONDONISTAN is a term of abuse coined by the French for a Britain that has allowed itself to become the European hub of al-Qa’ida. To me, it’s also a state of mind, when people not only seek to appease but come to believe and absorb the ideas and assumptions of the enemy that intends to destroy them writes Melanie Phillips

It’s a state of mind that applies not just to Britain but throughout the West, where people refuse to face up to the reality of the jihad because they can’t bring themselves to accept what must follow.

It’s so much easier to take refuge in alternative explanations, particularly ones that blame themselves for their own victimisation. And just as they embrace their enemies, so they turn against their allies.

In Britain, the mainstream view is that Israel is the cause of the world’s problems. People believe Israel is the cause of Islamic hatred of the West, global terror and world instability, and that the Jews are putting them directly at risk. They believe Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians is the cause of Islamist rage; that the US was attacked on 9/11 only because it supported Israel; and that the only reason Britain is at risk from Islamist terror is because it supported the US in the Iraq war.

This rampant hatred of the US and Israel has come to dominate and distort political debate.

It was hysteria over Israel’s conduct of the Lebanon war last summer that forced Tony Blair out of office earlier than he had intended to go. Indeed, sometimes it seems that Britain has turned into a latter-day Salem, with Israel, the US and their defenders the latter-day witches to be thrown to the flames.

Everything that happens is seen through the prism of this perceived conspiracy by Americans and Jews recklessly to put the world at risk in pursuit of their own interests. So Iran’s threat to commit genocide against Israel, and its race to obtain the nuclear weapons to put this often repeated threat into practice, is dismissed as mere rhetoric and instead the biggest threat is perceived to be an attack by the US against Iran.

There is a persistent refusal to accept that we are in the throes of a holy war waged on the Western world for more than 25 years without our even recognising it because it doesn’t fit our definition of war. It is a world war being fought in many disparate theatres with many proximate causes, but all with one single coherent aim: to defeat Western civilisation, establish Islam as the dominant power in the world and restore the medieval caliphate.

We can see the outcome: in the daily violence in the French suburbs, sanitised by the French Government but described by French police as a permanent intifada; in the similar violence in Belgium; in the murder of Theo van Gogh in The Netherlands and the terrorisation of Dutch politicians who speak out; and in the global riots, kidnappings and murders after the re-publication of the Danish Mohammed cartoons.

Yet little of this is reported and, when it is, it is generally presented as the fault of those being terrorised. Thus the French riots are blamed on French prejudice towards immigrants; the cartoon riots on media insensitivity towards Muslim feelings; and moves by the ultra-liberal Dutch or the Danes to ban the burka or restrict immigration as racism or xenophobia.

People have short memories. They think Islamist terrorism started with 9/11. But the jihad against us started back in 1979, when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini established his theocracy in Iran and declared his intention to wage war on the West and subjugate it to Islam. At the time, we weren’t listening. But this ignited political Islamism across the world, gave rise to the rival Wahabi version in Saudi Arabia, ushered in a procession of terror attacks against Western interests throughout the 1980s and ‘90s, and exported Islamic theocratic rule as a global project.

At the same time, Britain and Europe experienced a mass influx of Muslims as the borders opened and the poor south migrated en masse to the north. The problem is that, unlike other immigrant groups, successive generations of Muslims have failed to integrate and instead try to colonise their host countries.

People are rightly concerned not to tar all Muslims with the brush of Islamist conquest. Indeed, many Muslims in Britain and across the world are deeply opposed to the jihad; Muslims are its most numerous victims. That’s why I use the term Islamism, to distinguish those who believe in Islamic conquest from those who merely draw on Islam for spiritual sustenance. But at same time, it is false to deny that Islamism is the dominant force in the Muslim and Arab world, false to deny that it is radicalising millions of Muslims in the West, and false to deny the huge inroads it has made into Western society through this pincer movement of terrorism and cultural pressure.

For instance, opinion polls suggest that 40 per cent to 60 per cent of British Muslims would like to live under sharia law in Britain; almost one-quarter say the 7/7 bombings in London can be justified because of the war on terror; and nearly half think 9/11 was a conspiracy between the US and Israel. Why is Britain getting all this so grievously wrong? Briefly, it’s because for decades its intelligentsia and political class have hollowed out British identity and values, creating a vacuum that is being exploited by radical Islamism. Britain has not only lost belief in itself as a nation but European liberals have turned against the very idea of the nation itself.

Rooted in the particulars of history, religion, law, language and tradition, the nation is seen as the cause of all the ills of the world, from prejudice to war.

So Britain’s own culture has had to give way to multiculturalism. And this is the core of the muddle that is paralysing us. Because many people think multiculturalism is all about showing respect and tolerance to other cultures and faiths. Well, we should all support respect and tolerance. But that’s not what multiculturalism is at all. The doctrine of multiculturalism holds that all minority values must have equal status to those of the majority. Any attempt to uphold majority values over minorities is a form of prejudice. That turns minorities into a cultural battering ram to destroy the very idea of majority culture at all.

A liberal, tolerant society - which is what Britain once was - welcomes and respects minorities. But the deal since the Enlightenment invented tolerance has been that, while the state makes no demands on minorities practising their faith and culture in the private sphere, minorities make no demands that the state adopt their own practices. Minorities do their own thing, but where their values conflict with the bedrock values of majority culture - freedom of speech, monogamy, women’s rights - they must give way.

Many Muslims do not accept this. And multiculturalism gives them the muscle to insist that their practices must become mainstream. That’s why in Britain we have areas under the informal parallel jurisdiction of sharia law and growing pressure for it to become incorporated into mainstream British society.

But precepts such as polygamy, the subordination of women or the death penalty for apostates or gays are totally inimical to Western society.

It is only if we act against the ideology that is spreading falsehood and hatred, and stop its advance under the umbrella of minority rights, that we have any chance of defending the free world. That means - while showing respect to Muslims who derive only spiritual sustenance from their faith - reasserting Western values and resisting any attempt to subvert them. It also means facing down in public the lies spread about the West.

Only if we stop deluding ourselves and take such action necessary for our survival will we stop sleepwalking to defeat.


Australia's great Leftist fraud

A much acclaimed but very strange far-Left historian -- Leninist in looks and Leninist in sympathies. Towards the end of his life he was a great Australian Labor Party hero. The article below scrambles to put an acceptable face on his demonstrable dishonesty. No conservative would be treated so indulgently. But truth has never concerned Leftists much, of course. Reality-denial is an essential part of being a Leftist. They even admit openly that for them "There is no such thing as truth". More background on Clarke here

As an old man looking back on his life, Manning Clark claimed to have seen with his own eyes the horrors of Kristallnacht. Witnessing this notorious Nazi pogrom changed his life, said Clark, and made him the historian he was. It became the most famous story of a great storyteller. "I happened to arrive at the railway station at Bonn am Rhein on the morning of Kristallnacht," he told the poet John Tranter in 1987. "That was the morning after the storm-troopers had destroyed Jewish shops, Jewish businesses and the synagogues. Burned them and so on . I saw the fruits of evil, of human evil, before me there on the streets of Bonn."

But Clark was not there that day. The historian's biographer, Mark McKenna, reveals this week in The Monthly that Clark did not reach Nazi Germany for another fortnight. The person who saw the broken glass and smoking synagogues on that morning in November 1938 was the woman Clark was to marry. "It was Dymphna Lodewyckx, not Manning Clark, who witnessed the immediate aftermath of Kristallnacht."

It's not a small point. In the last dozen years of his life, Clark told the story on radio, on television and in newspapers. He wrote a most moving version in his memoirs: "Dymphna was there on the platform at the Bonn railway station when I stepped off the train early in the morning of 8 November, 1938. We walked in ecstasy up the stairs of the Bonn railway station, out of the darkness below into the light. We were in for a rude shock. It was the morning after Kristallnacht."

McKenna was shaken by the discovery that Clark could not have been there that morning to see the wreckage that foretold the Holocaust. But there was no doubt about it. Working on the Clark family papers last year, McKenna found a letter Dymphna Lodewyckx had written from Bonn to Manning Clark in Oxford a couple of days after these events describing the smashed shops, the ruined synagogue and a rabbi's house in flames: "The violence was over when I came - but the crowds were everywhere - following the smiling SS men, children shouting in excitement, grown-ups silent ."

At first McKenna thought he had made a mistake. "Like many others, I had taken Clark at his word. I had even quoted the Kristallnacht story in my published work. I reread Dymphna's letter carefully, checked Clark's diary entries, and saw that it was impossible for Clark to have been in Bonn on the morning of 10 November. As his own diary confirms, he did not arrive in Bonn until 26 November."

This revelation is bound to reignite the controversies that have blazed around Australia's most famous historian since Clark emerged in the late 1970s as a public defender of the Whitlam government. These attacks culminated in 1999 in an eight-page "investigation" in Brisbane's The Courier-Mail condemning the historian as a communist, an agent of influence and perhaps a Soviet spy. That attack collapsed in derision [according to whom? The facts reported were not challeged, only their interpretation], but the 16 years since Clark's death have seen continuing questioning - both academic and political - of his sweeping six-volume narrative of Australian history, and of the quirky persona he created for himself of the Old Testament prophet in a battered Akubra.

Even so, Clark remains the nation's most influential historian. McKenna's biography, due for publication next year by Melbourne University Press, is one of at least two under way. Presenting his Kristallnacht discovery for the first time to an academic conference last year, McKenna had no doubt the historian set out to deceive. "I am convinced that Clark chose deliberately to place himself on the streets of Bonn, knowing full well that he was not there. This was Clark's inner lie. But he had also told the story in public, and traded on his audience's trust in him as a historian."

McKenna asked: "Does this make Clark a fraud?" His answer then was yes and no: while inventing the details of that morning said a great deal about Clark's self-dramatising character, McKenna didn't doubt for a moment that what Clark learnt of the pogrom and what he saw of its aftermath a few weeks later had the profound impact he always claimed. McKenna writes: "In this sense, there is no fabrication."

But in a chunk of the biography published this week in The Monthly, McKenna has taken a big step back from his original allegation of deliberate deceit. "I believe that the older Manning Clark did possess some awareness of the fact that he was not present on the morning after Kristallnacht," he writes. "But to claim to know the extent to which he was conscious of it is to claim to know the inner depths of his mind." [Can conservatives use that defence too?] The fallible memory of an old man must not be ruled out, argues McKenna. "I know I can never recover what he truly remembered, the memory of his inner voice, the voice only he heard."

But McKenna, a fellow in history at Sydney University, acknowledges the big problem for Clark is the retelling of the Kristallnacht story in the 1990 autobiography A Quest for Grace. Here Clark quotes other letters of his and other diary entries from those months in 1938. "It seems highly unlikely," McKenna told the Herald, "that Manning did not see the letter that showed quite clearly that Dymphna was there the morning after Kristallnacht and not him."

The historian's son, The Australian Financial Review journalist Andrew Clark, has told the Herald, "Mr McKenna has discovered what he believes is a discrepancy in the dates of my father's visit to Bonn . He is not contesting that my father visited my mother in Bonn after Kristallnacht, just the precise date of his arrival." He argued that the fact his father was recalling events 40 or 50 years in the past "goes some way in explaining any alleged discrepancy in dates".

Clark faults McKenna for not providing readers with a full context of those events. "If he had done so, readers would have known that at the alleged time of my father's arrival in Bonn, the Nazis' murderous acts against Jews was still in evidence." He regrets McKenna did not speak to him: "Not because I am my father's son, but because I had extensive conversations with my late mother about this period, conversations which vividly confirmed the enormous impact this evil act . had on my father."

If another round of the so-called Culture Wars is to be fought over Manning Clark's reputation, this piece of operatic scene setting - "both romantic and tragic", writes McKenna, "like Verdi doing Shakespeare" - will be the focus of renewed and perhaps savage controversy. Had Clark forgotten he was not there? Had his wife's memories become his own in a 50-year marriage? Was he mischievously pulling our legs? Or was he setting out to deceive? McKenna is hoping for a nuanced discussion of his discoveries, not one that simply slams Clark's credibility. "He created himself as a myth, cultivating a theatrical persona of the people's priest and sage, telling history as parable. And as the Kristallnacht epiphany reveals, the moral of the parable always mattered more than the facts." [An historian for whom facts do not 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.


7 March, 2007

Britain: Oxford professor in free speech row

Critics backing off under counter-attack, however

An MP has defended the rights of academics' free speech after students called for an Oxford don to be sacked because of his links to a migration thinktank and a charity devoted to the selective breeding of humans. Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, said provided the views of the don were "legal and delivered lawfully he had every right to express them without fear or retribution from his employer." Dr Harris spoke out after David Coleman, a professor of demography, became the third academic in the last eight months to find himself at the centre of a row over freedom of speech.

Last November, London School of Economics lecturer and evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa was accused of reviving the politics of eugenics when a journal published his paper alleging that African states were poor and suffered ill-health because their populations were less intelligent than people in richer countries. Four months earlier, Frank Ellis at Leeds University became the first university lecturer to be suspended under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. His suspension came after he told his student newspaper that black people and women were genetically intellectually inferior. Dr Ellis took early retirement last summer.

In the latest row over academics and free speech Professor Coleman hit back at the students who are trying to get him sacked. He accused them of bringing the university into disrepute and said the freedom of informed comment and analysis was something academia should "cherish." Prof Coleman retaliated after student members of the Student Action for Refugees (STAR) launched a petition calling on the university to "consider the suitability of Coleman's continued tenure as a professor of the university in light of his well-known opinions and affiliations relating to immigration and eugenics." The petition referred to the don's honorary consultant role with the migration watchdog and thinktank, MigrationWatch UK. The students are also unhappy about his membership of the Galton Institute - a charity focusing on eugenics.

Professor Coleman told the Oxford student newspaper Cherwell: "Under no circumstances will I refrain from using my academic title." He criticised those students campaigning against him and said they should consider their own future at the university. He said: "It is a shameful attempt of the most intolerant and totalitarian kind, to suppress the freedom of analysis and informed comment which it is the function of universities to cherish." "I am ashamed that Oxford students should behave in this way. It is the signatories who will bring this university into disrepute, and it is they who should reconsider their membership of this university," he added.

Kieran Hutchinson Dean, the student who helped organise the petition, told Cherwell that STAR did not expect the university to agree to its demands for Professor Coleman to go. But he said: "By offering interviews as a 'professor of Oxford University' he lends credibility to his political viewpoint. "The main point of the petition is to raise awareness of his views and affiliations amongst students. We do not expect anyone to agree, but think that it is an interesting and important debate to have."

Commenting on the row MP Dr Harris said it was important that academics maintain their right to free speech. In a letter to Cherwell he wrote: "As long as he (Coleman) does not claim to speak on behalf of the university, he is at liberty to set out his academic background. "The price of us all enjoying academic freedom and free expressing is that we provide those freedoms even to those with whom we disagree, and this campaign is illiberal and totally counter-productive."


If we want open borders, we need open debate

The Oxford students calling for the censure of an anti-immigration professor are selling short both the case for open borders and academic freedom -- say two other Oxford students in the article below:

Not to be outdone by their peers at other universities who have banned the Daily Mail and the Sun, or tried to censor the word ‘gay’, a group of Oxford students is leading a campaign to sack a professor for expressing opposition to immigration (1). Student Action for Refugees (STAR) has organised a petition calling for David Coleman, professor of demography at St John’s College, Oxford, to refrain from using his academic title when discussing immigration publicly, because it ‘brings the university into disrepute’.

STAR has also urged the college to ‘consider the suitability of Coleman’s continued tenure as a professor of the university, in light of his well-known opinions and affiliations relating to immigration and eugenics’. The professor helped found the anti-immigration think tank MigrationWatch and is a member of the Galton Institute, formerly the Eugenics Society.

Coleman, who, backed by the university and the University and College Union, has refused to stop using his title, undoubtedly holds unpleasant views. His main aim is to refute the utilitarian case for immigration by arguing that long-term population decline is benign, and that its economic effects can be managed through making ‘somewhat painful adjustments to workplace participation, the retirement age and pensions funding’. Immigration, he concludes, is simply not worth the risk to ‘social cohesion’ and the added pressure on public services (2).

There is plenty to object to in this miserabilist, neo-Malthusian analysis. Given the choice between being forced to work harder and longer, while receiving miserly government pensions, and accepting immigration, most people would choose the latter. Even so, Coleman presents a false dichotomy between lowering our aspirations and accepting the possibility of social chaos. This reflects his own reactionary lack of political imagination. And yet, rather than offering a progressive political alternative – and putting the case for freedom of movement for all migrants – STAR and others prefer to silence critics of immigration.

Indeed, Kieran Hutchinson Dean, the STAR campaigner who organised the petition against Coleman, told us: ‘We always knew he was a respected member of the university, and we don’t question his work.’ Instead, the main aim is to ‘raise awareness of his affiliation to eugenics’ and to ‘make people more aware about these links because this might change their views on his credibility’. Coleman ‘gives MigrationWatch added credibility, which we think is potentially quite dangerous’, says Hutchinson Dean, because MigrationWatch produces reports criticising immigration.

Behind today’s attempts to restrict free speech, whether it is the government or a group of students leading the charge, is a degraded view of other people as either witless sponges who will unthinkingly soak up whatever they are told, or potential fist-swingers who, given any encouragement, will become racists or xenophobes. So Hutchinson Dean and STAR do not question the validity of Coleman’s academic research, instead just denouncing it as ‘dangerous’.

It is precisely because the public debate about Britain’s immigration policy turns on narrow technocratic questions about population growth and the country’s skills base, rather than any vision of what sort of society we want to live in, that the views of an obscure professor of demography can carry so much weight. Students concerned about the status of immigrants might be better advised to challenge the government’s immigration policy, which is based on narrow, utilitarian calculations of economic benefit. The perfectly reasonable aspirations of economic migrants or the rights of refugees don’t get a look in.

Yet STAR seems confused as to what its position is on immigration. Hutchinson Dean told us that he personally has no position on whether there should be limits to immigration. In fact, STAR ‘doesn’t have a position as a group’: ‘Some of the people involved think that we should have open border policies, and that all borders are inherently racist. Others think that we do need immigration controls, but that the policies that are in place now are unfair and unjust’. The only thing that STAR agrees on, he says, is that detention centres are ‘immoral, but as an organisation we don’t debate the fine points of the theory, and how and what the ideal immigration system is’.

It is hardly surprising, then, to discover that STAR confines itself to providing creative writing workshops for internees at the Camp Campsfield detention centre for immigrants in Oxford, joining demonstrations to have the camp closed, sending protesting postcards to the home secretary, and trying to shut up Professor David Coleman.

Meanwhile, some of those who do have a particular position – like Teresa Hayter, author of Open Borders: The Case Against Immigration Controls – also refuse to counter Coleman’s arguments in public. Hayter says: ‘I support the petition. I don’t think he should be a professor at the university.’ Hayter refused to ‘go up on a platform with him’ at a recent debate organised by King’s College, London, because MigrationWatch statistics ‘receive a lot of exposure and publicity on the website of the BNP, the tabloid press and even on the BBC’. Coleman should not have been ‘given a platform in the knowledge of his opposition to immigration and also…of his long association with eugenics’, which is ‘a dangerous, frightening doctrine’, continues Hayter. ‘I do not feel it is possible to have any sort of polite, or honest, or academic debate with these people’.

Yet if those of us who support an open-border policy are going to win the argument, and win people over, then surely we need to take on the likes of MigrationWatch. The attempt to shut down the anti-immigration lobby means that the debate about immigration is never had out, and thus never won. As John Stuart Mill pointed out, the truth is so complex ‘that very few have minds sufficiently capacious and impartial’ to grasp it in its entirety; rather ‘it has to be made by the rough process of a struggle between combatants fighting under hostile banners’ (3). Even if we were to regard the argument against eugenics, racism and limits to immigration as completely true, ‘if it is not fully, frequently and fearlessly discussed, it will be held as a dead dogma, not a living truth’ (4).

Pro-immigration views are in danger of becoming ‘dead dogma’ today, because the automatic response of many progressives is to silence anyone who criticises these views, branding them, as Hayter does Coleman, ‘little more than a plausible front for the BNP’. The positive case for an open society is rarely aired while MigrationWatch is slammed for publishing statistics that opponents would rather hush up – under the elitist assumption that people will react negatively to them.

The pursuit of truth through sceptical enquiry and debate is precisely the purpose of academic freedom. If we cannot have free speech and open debate at universities, then where can they exist? Hutchinson Dean tells us that he wanted to ‘open a debate on the limits of academic freedom’. The point of Mill’s insight is that there can be no imposed limits. No matter how dubious someone’s affiliations might seem, they cannot be used cheaply to discredit or undermine a point of view by association. Everyone must be allowed to express their viewpoint, and it is only through a debate about the ideas, not affiliations, that the truth may emerge.

Attempting to silence views you disagree with reveals a desire to impose your own judgements without letting others make their minds up for themselves. That has nothing to do with free thinking, which is what university life is supposed to be about – isn’t it?

Leftist racism

"Racialism" is a softer descriptive version of the race consciousness demanded by the MainStream Media, and by the folks who mis-educate our children at major universities--the two institutions where you will most often encounter the unholy trinity of Diversity, Multiculturalism, and Affirmative Action.... if you listen to the trainers, minority contractors and civil rights "leaders" representing the Diversity Industrial Complex, who make their livings by perpetuating a myth that we're all a bunch of bigots, you would have to conclude America hasn't moved past the era of Theodore Bilbo and the White Citizens Council.

Left liberal hallucinations about rampant racism are fed not just by indoctrination of the young on college campuses but by almost daily news "reporting" that demands we see everything from individual medical conditions to public school test scores and access to the internet through the prism of race and ethnicity. All of these disparities can be traced to economic and educational achievement differences among individuals, arbitrarily grouped into demographic cohorts by those who demand we imagine racism as a master narrative explanation.

Media and academic insistence on tribal identity consciousness begets foolish public policy initiatives, like the Virginia legislature's recent "apology" for the Commonwealth's history of slavery. Weren't the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 rather more substantive apologies?

The cup may be half full in the fight against liberal racism. Many of us who were sold on identity politics in our youth have been de-programmed with intelligent work by courageous black writers like Shelby Steele and Thomas Sowell, who have braved Amish-style shunning to tell the truth about race. As I often challenge my political journalism students, if you want to end race consciousness in America, stop enforcing race consciousness!

More here

6 March, 2007

Political Correctness - The Revenge of Marxism

I have heard people who have grown up in former Communist countries say that we in the West are at least as brainwashed by Multiculturalism and Political Correctness as they ever were with Communism, perhaps more so. Even in the heyday of the East Bloc, there were active dissident groups in these countries. The scary thing is, I sometimes believe they are right.

But how is that possible? Don't we have free speech? And we have no Gulag?

The simple fact is that we never won the Cold War as decisively as we should have. Yes, the Berlin Wall fell, and the Soviet Union collapsed. This removed the military threat to the West, and the most hardcore, economic Marxism suffered a blow as a credible alternative. However, one of the really big mistakes we made after the Cold War ended was to declare that Socialism was now dead, and thus no longer anything to worry about. Here we are, nearly a generation later, discovering that Marxist rhetoric and thinking have penetrated every single stratum of our society, from the Universities to the media. Islamic terrorism is explained as caused by "poverty, oppression and marginalization," a classic, Marxist interpretation.

What happened is that while the "hard" Marxism of the Soviet Union may have collapsed, at least for now, the "soft" Marxism of the Western Left has actually grown stronger, in part because we deemed it to be less threatening. The "hard" Marxists had intercontinental nuclear missiles and openly said that they would "bury" us. The soft Marxists talk about tolerance and may seem less threatening, but their goal of overthrowing the evil, capitalist West remains the same. In fact, they are more dangerous precisely because they hide their true goals under different labels. Perhaps we should call it "stealth Socialism" instead of soft Socialism.

One of the readers of Fjordman blog once pointed out that we never had a thorough de-Marxification process after the Cold War, similar to the de-Nazification after WW2. He was thinking of the former Soviet Union and the countries in Eastern Europe, but he should probably have included their Marxist fellow travellers, their sympathizers and apologists in the West. We never fully confronted the ideology of Marxism, and demonstrated that the suffering it caused for hundreds of millions of people was a direct result of Marxist ideas. We just assumed that Marxism was dead and moved on, allowing many of its ideals to mutate into new forms and many of its champions to continue their work uninterrupted, sometimes filled with a vengeance and a renewed zeal for another assault on the capitalist West.

We are now paying the price for this. Not only has Marxism survived, it is thriving and has in some ways grown stronger. Leftist ideas about Multiculturalism and de-facto open borders have achieved a virtual hegemony in public discourse, their critics vilified and demonized. By hiding their intentions under labels such as "anti-racism" and "tolerance," Leftists have achieved a degree of censorship of public discourse they could never have dreamt of had they openly stated that their intention was to radically transform Western civilization and destroy its foundations.

The Left have become ideological orphans after the Cold War, or perhaps we should call them ideological mercenaries. Although the viable economic alternative to capitalism didn't work out, their hatred for this system never subsided, it merely transformed into other forms. Multiculturalism is just a different word for "divide and conquer," pitting various ethnic and cultural groups against each other and destroying the coherence of Western society from within.

At the very least, the people living in the former Communist countries knew and admitted that they were taking part in a gigantic social experiment, and that the media and the authorities were serving them propaganda to shore up support for this project. Yet in the supposedly free West, we are taking part in a gigantic social experiment of Multiculturalism and Muslim immigration every bit as radical, utopian and potentially dangerous as Communism, seeking to transform our entire society from top to bottom, and still we refuse to even acknowledge that this is going on.

In Norway, a tiny Scandinavian nation that was until recently 99% white and Lutheran Christian, native Norwegians will soon be a minority in their own capital city, later in the whole country. And still, Norwegian politicians, journalists and University professors insist that there is nothing to worry about over this. Multiculturalism is nothing new, neither is immigration. In fact, our king a century ago was born in Denmark, so having a capital city dominated by Pakistanis, Kurds, Arabs and Somalis is just business as usual. The most massive transformation of the country in a thousand years, probably in recorded history, is thus treated as if it were the most natural thing in the world. To even hint that there might be something wrong about this has been immediately shouted down as "racism."

Eric Hoffer has noted that "It is obvious that a proselytizing mass movement must break down all existing group ties if it is to win a considerable following. The ideal potential convert is the individual who stands alone, who has no collective body he can blend with and lose himself in and so mask the pettiness, meaninglessness and shabbiness of his individual existence. Where a mass movement finds the corporate pattern of family, tribe, country, etcetera, in a state of disruption and decay, it moves in and gathers the harvest. Where it finds the corporate pattern in good repair, it must attack and disrupt." This corresponds exactly to the behavior of much of the Western Left in our age.

In Germany, Hans-Peter Raddatz in his book "Allahs Frauen" (Allah's Women) dissects the destructive attitude of Multiculturalism that is shared by many civil servants, journalists, politicians and lawyers in Germany and the EU. In particular, he documents how the German Green Party has a program for dismantling and dissolving the Christian "Leitkultur," or common culture, that so far has been the foundation of Germany and the West. Raddatz thinks that the decades of Muslim immigration are used as an instrument for breaking down the institutions, norms and ideas that the Left has earlier tried to break down through economics. From powerful positions in the media, public institutions and the system of education, these Multiculturalists are working on a larger project of renewing a Western civilization that, according to them, has failed.

A Norwegian newspaper called Dagens Naringsliv exposed the fact that the largest "anti-racist" organization in the country, SOS Rasisme, was heavily infiltrated by Communists and extreme Leftists. They infiltrated the organization in the late 1980s and early '90s, in other words, during the downfall of Communism in Eastern Europe. They went directly from Communism to Multiculturalism, which should indicate that at least some of them viewed Multiculturalism as the continuation of Communism by other means. It speaks volumes about the close connection between economic Marxism and cultural Marxism. They just have different means of reaching the same ends.

Much of the political Left is simply engaged in outing their opponents as evil, instead of rationally arguing against their ideas. Attaching labels such as "racist" or even "Fascist" to anyone criticizing massive immigration or Multiculturalism has become so common that Norwegian anti-Islamists have coined a new word for it: "Hitling," which could be roughly translated to English as "to make like Hitler." The logic behind "hitling" is a bit like this: "You have a beard. Adolf Hitler had facial hair, too, so you must be like Hitler. Adolf Hitler liked dogs. You have pets, too, you must be like Hitler. Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian. You like carrots, you are just like Hitler."

Any "right-winger" can be slimed with such accusations. Curiously enough, the reverse is almost never true. Although Marxism may have killed 100 million people during the 20th century and failed in every single society in which it has ever been tried out, there seems to be little stigma attached to being a Leftist. The fact that Leftists can get away with this and claim to hold the moral high ground amply demonstrates that we didn't win the Cold War. We let our guard down after the fall of the Berlin Wall and never properly denounced the ideology behind it. This is now coming back to haunt us.

One member of an anti-immigration party in Britain stated that to be called racist in 21st-century Britain is "the same as being branded a witch in the Middle Ages." He's probably right, which means that anti-racism has quite literally become a modern witch-hunt....

Political Correctness is Marxism with a nose job. Multiculturalism is not about tolerance or diversity, it is an anti-Western hate ideology designed to dismantle Western civilization. If we can demonstrate this, an important part of the battle has already been won.

Much more here

Ireland Threatens to Pull $1,000,000 from Catholic Pregnancy Service for Refusing Abortion Referrals

Sadly, straying priestly pricks have discredited the church in what once was Holy Ireland

The Irish government has threatened to pull nearly 650,000 Euros in funding from CURA, the pregnancy advice service of the Catholic Church in Ireland. The government's Crisis Pregnancy Agency has demanded that CURA distribute the State-backed "Positive Options" leaflet, which informs women in crisis pregnancies of organisations that legally refer to foreign abortion clinics, or else it will lose government funding.

The Catholic agency has reneged on its agreement with the government to circulate the "Positive Options" leaflet after four Donegal women counsellors for Cura, Ann Farren, Mary Kelly, Phil Murray and Pauline Roarty, made it public that they were required to distribute the leaflet, which would contradict Catholic beliefs on the sanctity of life by referring women to places facilitating abortions.

Two year's ago CURA's president, Bishop John Flemming, advocated distributing the "Positive Options" leaflet on the grounds that research had shown that the more counselling women in crisis receive, the less likely they are to opt for abortion. However, once the information became public, the Catholic hierarchy supported the CURA objectors, although they are still under suspension for breaching confidentiality, and have been barred by Bishop Flemming from attending this weekend's annual CURA conference in Galway.

Discussions have been going on since former CPA chairwoman Olive Braiden warned Bishop Fleming last April that she would cut off CURA's annual funding unless it resumed distribution of the leaflets. Bishop Fleming told Braiden that the bishops' conference had referred the matter to its doctrine commission and was awaiting a response.


Muslims too sensitive, says His Eminence

Muslims are overly sensitive and are the only migrants to have plotted violence against Australia, Catholic Archbishop Cardinal George Pell has claimed. Dr Pell said Muslim leaders needed to develop more appropriate responses to criticism. "In a democratic society, every group is criticised - Prime Minister (John) Howard said quite rightly last year that if Catholics rioted in Australia every time they were criticised, there would be regular riots," Dr Pell said. "It's not appropriate that Muslims regularly reply to criticism with insults, denigration and evasions while avoiding the point of issue, and unfortunately we've seen too much of this from some Muslim public personalities." The comments came during Dr Pell's appearance on a panel about Muslims and non-Muslims in Australia as part of the national deliberative poll.

Dr Pell, who began studying Islam after the attacks of September 11, 2001 on the US, said he had met "many wonderful Muslims". "But there are Islamists who are at war with the Western world - most of the victims of these extreme Muslims are fellow Muslims," he said. "So its important to distinguish accurately your real friends from your enemies and from those who only seem to be friends."

Dr Pell said integration was a "key tool" for a harmonious and secular democratic society. "Equal rights however, carry with them equal responsibilities - problems arise when minorities demand special consideration that places them outside the law as it applies to other citizens," he said. "Flexibility and adaptability are called for when refugees and immigrants arrive in our country but there is a limit in (adopting) minority demands beyond which a democratic host society cannot go without losing its identity."

Dr Pell said there was a small minority of Muslims "who really don't identify with Australia at all and are hostile to it". "There seems to be some significant evidence that some of them are planning violence against us here and elsewhere - that doesn't seem to happen in any other migrant group," he said.

Sydney Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali sparked controversy last year when he compared immodestly dressed women to uncovered meat and suggested that rape victims who did not wear Islamic dress were as much to blame as their attackers. He later appeared on Egyptian television to say Westerners were "liars and oppressors" who had less right to live in Australia than Muslims.

Dr Pell said a fear of Muslims had been "created" by the September 11 attacks in 2001, the Bali bombings of 2002 and 2005 and the attacks on London transport in 2005. He said Muslims in Australia were offered the same rights as other citizens but he doubted non-Muslim minorities in the Muslim world were afforded the same equality. "I don't think that's the case. I don't think we could be having a meeting like this in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia," he said. "Christians are being harassed, they're being persecuted and even sometimes in the Sudan being sold into slavery. I would like to know where my Muslim friends stand on this issue."

Sheik Mohammed Omran, from Melbourne's Islamic Information and Support Centre, said it was important to consider why Muslims were fighting against the West. "Why has the youth of England betrayed England even though they are fifth or sixth generation?" Sheik Omran said. "We have to learn from the mistakes of others and not repeat it here." Sheik Omran said Australia had a responsibility to make Muslims feel welcome. "You are the host. When I come to your house as a guest and you welcome me with an open heart, I see your generosity as a human - it doesn't matter what I believe in, I will love you and care for you as much as you care for me," he said. Muslim countries had been great allies of the West during the fight against "our first enemy", communism, and Australia still had a close alliance with Indonesia, which has the world's biggest Muslim population, Sheik Omran said.


5 March, 2007

Elitism and government housing

Lynsey Hanley’s book Estates: An Intimate History titillates the Guardian-reading class’s fascination with a poor and excluded ‘underclass’.

Estates: An Intimate History is marked all over with the stamp of authenticity. The ‘intimate’ in the title means she grew up in a large council estate in Birmingham called ‘The Wood’, and that today she lives on an estate in East London. This fact has impressed her editor, Granta‘s Ian Jack, and her many reviewers rather too much, and maybe Hanley, too. Millions of people grew up in estates, and it is not a revelation that they can write. I did not grow up on a council estate, but in redbrick terraces in Halifax, and like Hanley I too co-bought a house on an ex-council estate (thank you, Mrs Thatcher), but it never occurred to me that this granted me any special insight.

Still, Estates is well written, full of anecdote to make the argument that growing up in council estates visits a terrible stigma on millions of people. But is it true? Hanley’s argument echoes the many debates on the supposed ‘underclass’, a stratum of society that was doomed to failure by birth – birth in council estates in this variation. Happily, there is no evidence to support the idea that there is a permanent underclass. In 1992, Nick Buck of the Economic and Social Science Council found that there simply was no evidence to support such a proposal (1). Statistics on long-term unemployment show that those out of work for more than a year are only 20 per cent of the total and falling. All the evidence is that there is a churn of people in and out of poverty, with the economic cycle rather than personal fecklessness being the main aggregate determinant.

But if people are not fated to repeat the errors of their parents, social science researchers are fated to repeat those of their predecessors. In 2004, the Social Exclusion Unit report Breaking the Cycle imagined it had discovered ‘an intergenerational cycle of deprivation’, ‘transmission’ and ‘inheritance’ of disadvantage (2). A little over a decade earlier, the American social commentator Charles Murray tickled middle-class anxieties with his The Emerging British Underclass (3). Murray overplayed his hand, though, with his follow-up book The Bell Curve, which asserted that intelligence (or IQ, intelligence quotient, to be precise) was genetically inherited, and that IQ determined social class. Here, Murray made the argument too explicit, and embarrassed his target audience of the ‘cognitive elite’ by insisting that black people were around 15 per cent less clever than white people (4).

Before Murray, British Conservative minister Keith Joseph gave a speech at Edgbaston in 1974 bemoaning the cycle of deprivation that led the malingering unemployable ‘problem families’ to pass on their habits to their children (5). But then, we had heard all of this before back in the 1880s in the debate about the ‘residuum’ - a graceless metaphor for the undeserving poor that pictured them as the shit that stuck to the bottom of the sceptic tank (6). The real meaning of the Social Exclusion/Underclass/Residuum debates was that it was the middle classes who felt disturbingly alienated from society, but projected that feeling on to an underclass that was largely of their own imagination.

Hanley, though, does not talk directly of the underclass, but of people who live on ‘estates’, a word that means for her ‘council estates’. Hanley is aware of the pitfalls: ‘depictions of working-class life are often either hopelessly sentimental or offensively vilifying’, she writes. Still, the mass housing becomes, in her shorthand, a dismissal of the masses within, ‘endless tragic boxes with people in them’. She checks herself – ‘I’m ashamed to reduce people like this, for I know that every one of them has a story far more fascinating than the flat face of their house would ever reveal’ – but still she presses on. Hanley’s descriptions tell us about her, about her alienation from her subjects, as much as they do about her subjects. ‘Having a child before you know what to do with it; sidling up to people like me and asking them if you’ll buy ten Lambert and Butler; passing round a two-litre bottle of sparkling perry’ (8) – well, surely most of us have done at least two out of three, one time or another.

Hanley cites John Carey’s insightful book The Intellectuals and the Masses. There, Carey shows how intellectuals masked their loathing of the common herd by attacking their mass consumer goods (tinned food was a particular horror, as was ribbon development) instead of attacking them directly. But Hanley does not hear the echo of that middle-class snobbery in her own descriptions of ‘pretend house boxes’, or in the disbelieving cry ‘could a residents’ association even exist here?’. It is a common mistake people make discussing houses to confuse social prejudice with aesthetic judgment. People are often repulsed by the idea that houses are boxes, failing to notice the obvious that boxes are a very good shape, and that beautiful Georgian terraces are boxes, just like LCC estates.

When Hanley writes ‘concrete is a harsh and unfriendly-looking material’ it seems obvious, like the David Mamet character who says ‘everyone likes money, that’s why it is called money’. Hanley has not noticed that the association of concrete and harshness has been inculcated in us by its uses, rather than arising out of its intrinsic character.

As a description of the development of social housing policy, Hanley’s blind spots are revealing. She takes on face value the good intent of the early reformers and their ‘nineteenth-century crusade to house the poor in clean and comfortable surroundings’. Yet the vicious prejudices against the residuum that underlay their desire to break up the slums have been well documented for more than a quarter of a century, thanks to historians Gareth Stedman Jones (Outcast London, 1971), HJ Dyos (Exploring the Urban Past, 1982) and most recently Jerry White (London in the Nineteenth Century). When the poor were decanted from their north St Pancras slum into the new Somerstown estate, their clothes and furniture were burnt in a public ceremony, with local dignitaries looking on as they were bundled into a fumigating wagon decorated with giant papier maché fleas, bedbugs and rats.

Hanley thinks that Ebenezer Howard, author of The Garden Cities of Tomorrow, something of a model for town planners, was a ‘cross between Karl Marx and William Morris’. In fact Howard got his ideas from Edward Bellamy, the author of Looking Backward, and reformer Octavia Hill – people Morris angrily denounced as ‘workhouse socialists’ and ‘five per cent philanthropists’ whose concern for the poor still ‘takes it for granted that the workers must be in the main paupers’ (7).

Hanley’s soft spot for the Victorian reformers carries over into the town-planning pioneers at Port Sunlight, Letchworth, the London County Council’s pioneering interwar estates and even Nye Bevan’s stint as housing minister in the first Labour government. Hanley entertains the illusion that we failed to take the better road to a wholly nationalised rented sector – believing that if only the government had carried through a plan to do just that ‘the riots at Notting Hill in 1958 would never have happened’. But the state sector was just as capable of using race to divide tenants, as it did in Tower Hamlets, fostering a generation of hate.

But this elevation of the early origins of council housing only serves as a counterpoint to heap scorn on the later engines of council house growth – that is, Tory Harold Macmillan, housing minister in the 1950s, and Labour’s Richard Crossman, who took over in the 1960s. Hanley faults these two for mass-producing cheap estates, like the one she grew up on, while careful Nye took his time to get it right. But she is as unfair to Macmillan and Crossman as she is naive about Bevan and Letchworth.

We can agree with Hanley when she says ‘but of course it’s not socialism: it’s a kind of ghettoisation’. But then it was daft to think that access to a consumer good, even a big one like a house or flat, would alter the social relationship that distinguished the upper class from the working class. What Macmillan and Crossman did do, which their successors have signally failed to do, was to build enough houses, not just to replace the old housing stock, but also to increase the number of homes overall. Hanley has a point when she says that they made them cheap, and that created problems in construction, including in system-building that was sabotaged by corner-cutting contractors. Hanley retells the story of the four people killed when the East Ham tower block Ronan Point collapsed in 1968. But she only reproduces the prejudices of the time: ‘[T]he problem with buildings is that, like anything man-made, they are subject to our desire to experiment.’ This is the kind of reaction against modernism that has taken us 30 years to get over – or not, in Hanley’s case.

Hanley likes social housing in principle, just not the fact of it. So when it comes to Thatcher’s sell-off of council houses in the 1980s, Hanley, having rehearsed all the prejudices against council housing, suddenly leaps to their defence. Indeed, she blames the council tenants themselves for having a detrimental impact on social housing policy: ‘In taking so enthusiastically to the idea of buying their homes from the council, over a million British households participated in the dismantling of mass public housing in Britain.’ But for all the reasons that she herself outlined, their experiences told them that they could hardly make a worse job of managing their property than the council did. In fact, the transformation in housing tenure since the 1960s only goes to show that there is nothing permanent or even enduring about the division of society into estate-dwellers and respectable society. Today, thanks mainly to cheap mortgages, a massive 73 per cent of people live in homes they own (8).

Hanley’s exclusive fixation on social housing misses out the real housing problem – which is that too few, overall, are being built. Today’s fear of change has created a real social problem, which is that we are building so few houses each year that we are not even managing to replace the dilapidated stock, let alone meet the additional demand that comes from population growth and family change. Among the excuses that the authorities have made up for not building more is a fear of social division if new building does not meet precise goals of social mixing – a fear that Hanley adds to with this book.

One suspects that Hanley’s attitudes to council housing are more closely related to her recent experience of having bought a flat on an East London council estate than her upbringing. There she was involved in a referendum to have the management of the estate pass from the council to a Registered Social Landlord. Despite her social housing ideals, Hanley seems to have rejected the left’s Campaign to Defend Council Housing and instead quite enjoyed the resident activism of the government’s Housing Choice agenda.

Looking back, Hanley wants to have good social housing that does not become a signifier for class discrimination. But it is class division that makes housing into a symbol of social worth. She mocks the pretensions of those whose homes nearby council estates were masked by high hedges and trees. But Hanley had her own version of the snob’s Leylandii barrier: ‘I started getting the Guardian on weekdays and the Observer on Sundays…the newsagent had to get them in especially. It felt as if everything was opening up to me: the richness of culture, the power of language, the usefulness of politics and, most importantly, the possibility of deep and lasting friendships rather than bully-acquaintances.’

Clearly, there are more subtle ways of signifying social hierarchy than estates.



From the earliest days Christianity has been opposed to slavery. In his Letter to the Galatians, St Paul wrote: "As many of you that have been baptised in Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. We were all one in Jesus Christ." Undoubtedly Christians have compromised with slavery - as with other social evils - in the course of history, but the orthodox Christian doctrine is one of liberty and equality.

The Christian belief was the inspiration in William Wilberforce's long campaign to end the slave trade. His Bill received the Royal Assent on March 25, 1807, 200 years ago. That was the most important of all the great reforms of the 19th century; essentially it was a Christian reform, inspired by the Protestant conversion of Wilberforce himself. March 25 was the old New Year's Day; it is also the feast of the Annunciation of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

We live in an age when modernists regard religion with something approaching panic. It is like the Devil's attitude to Holy Water. There was a comic example of Christianophobia in The Sunday Times yesterday. Michael Portillo, who used himself to be seen in Brompton Oratory, was hyperventilating at the idea of David Cameron going to church. "I worry," he wrote, "because men of power who take instruction from unseen forces are essentially fanatics . . . I would be more reassured to hear that the Tory leader goes to church because that is what it takes to get a child into the best of state schools, not because he is a believer."

Perhaps this neurotic response to Mr Cameron's habit of going to church reflects Mr Portillo's recognition that religion is again becoming an important influence on society. Many of the current news stories show that religion is back in public consciousness; for those who feel uneasy about religion, that is unwelcome.

Islam is, of course, the alarming religious issue that will not go away. In the 20th century the world failed to adjust to two major belief systems, nationalism and Marxism. Now we face a similar global challenge from Islam, which opposes Judaism in Israel, Hinduism in India, Buddhism in South East Asia, Christianity in Europe and America and modernism in the whole advanced world. We certainly cannot say that all religious influences are benign; al-Qaeda is a religious cult, but a perverted one.

Religion turned William Wilberforce into a Protestant saint, but Wahhabism has turned Osama bin Laden into a devil.

The rise of militant Islam in the 21st century is, however, part of a much broader phenomenon. In the United States there has been the extraordinary resurgence of fundamentalist Protestantism, sufficiently strong to win two presidential elections for the Republican Party. In Britain, an inflow of Catholics from Eastern Europe, particularly Poland, has revitalised the Roman Catholic Church, which now has the largest Christian congregation in the country. The worldwide Church of England has been divided by a battle of moral convictions. All of these religious movements challenge modernism, that popular mix of materialism, scientism and political correctness that had seemed to be carrying all before it.

The modernist attack on religion was based on the victory of science, and particularly of neo-Darwinism. Yet science was open to the same challenge as religion; it could explain only half the world. The scientists, or some of them, sneered at religion for being unable to explain the developments of nature. Yet science itself was unable to produce a science-based morality for society. Marxism attempted to create a scientific social order that ended in monstrous and bloodthirsty tyranny. Social Darwinism either meant eugenics and the slaughter of babies who were not thought fit to survive, or it meant nothing. The Social Darwinism of George Bernard Shaw, or indeed that of Adolf Hitler, has been rejected by mankind.

The world needs religion to address the moral issues. In the advanced societies it is these moral issues that now mock us. Europe and North America are hugely wealthy regions, but they are morally impoverished. Broken families, drugs, booze, youth gangs, crime, neglect of children and the old, the sheer boredom of shopaholicism, terrorism, the inner-city slums, materialism itself, are all the marks of a global society in decline. Societies can be judged by their care for children. Social education must start in the family and must have a moral basis. Children need to be taught to distinguish between right and wrong. A recent report by Unicef showed Britain as 21st out of 21 advanced countries in the welfare of children; our national failure is a shame and a disgrace.

In 19th century England, the revival of Christianity provided the basis for a century of social reform. The religious revival spread across all the Christian churches; in the Church of England there was the Evangelical movement as well as the High Church movement. The Roman Catholic Church attracted thousands of new converts. The Methodists and other Nonconformists devoted themselves to the welfare of the poor and the working class. The Salvation Army took its trumpets into the pubs and slums and offered a new hope.

The 19th century was an age of social reform based on religious revival and the Christian faith. The 20th century was an age of religious decline and of accelerating decline in social cohesion as well as in faith. "Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey/ When wealth accumulates and men decay."

These are lines from Oliver Goldsmith's moving poem, The Deserted Village in the 18th century. If they seem to apply to our modern societies, religion is not the problem; it is the only possible remedy.


4 March, 2007

Any sensitive soul can play the chief censor these days

The British House of Fraser chain has pulled a promotional poster from its 61 department stores across the UK and Ireland after one woman complained that it was `racist'. Promoting this season's fashionable colours, the poster declared: `Black is back, White is right.' The woman who complained said these words reminded her of a 1960s racist poem. The store's management pulled the ad, seeming to accept the woman's assertion that the marketing team must not be very `culturally aware'.

Society has always had its fair share of self-appointed moral guardians, usually groups of individuals with that unfortunate combination of over-sensitivity and over-zealousness. Such illiberal groups, made up of hundreds or just scores of people, have been able to convince individuals, businesses and councils to back down over the merest slight or `risque' advert or campaign - and thus to police public space and debate. Yet now we have moved from the tyranny of the minority to the tyranny of the individual, where one seemingly thin-skinned complainant can determine what is appropriate for the rest of us to see and hear. This is more pernicious than anything Mary Whitehouse's army did in the past.

Recently, tiny groups of people, or just one person, have been able to censure other people's speech and actions. In 2004, the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom) upheld the complaints of three people who had taken offence to Somerfield supermarket's advert for a meat dish which included the use of the word `faggot', on the grounds that the word is also derogatory slang for a homosexual. spiked recently reported on a similar row over a West Midlands pub selling something called `The Michael Barrymore Pie: Faggots Swimming in Gravy' - here, too, a very small number of complaints managed to turn this misplaced piece of pub humour into a national controversy (see Why we're standing by our un-PC pie, by Neil Davenport).

A series of incidents involving `anti-Welsh racism' has demonstrated that complaints from fewer than a dozen people can lead to censure. A publican in Somerset, England who pinned a Welsh flag on her wall so that patrons could take pot shots at it on St George's Day (it was the only dragon she could find) received a visit from the police after a single complaint was made. A single viewer of BBC 1's Question Time instigated an investigation by the police into a Daily Mail journalist for supposedly having made `offensive and belittling' comments about the Welsh during the programme. Yet when 81 people (also a very small number, of course) complained about the TV ads for Pot Noodle, which depict Welsh miners digging for noodles down a coalpit, their complaint was not upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Clearly this is not a numbers game. The fact that there was 81 times more indignation over Pot Noodles than there was over a journalist's comments on Question Time is irrelevant, both to the official regulatory system, where, in Ofcom's case, only one complaint is required to initiate an investigation, and to the question of free speech more broadly. Why should it be any more acceptable for one person or 81 people or 81,000 people to determine what the other 60million of us can see, hear and watch?

Even when there are `high' numbers of complaints, which apparently justify taking censorious action, we are still actually talking about tiny minorities of outraged individuals. Barclay's Bank retracted an advert showing a man being stung by a bee following 290 complaints, mostly from allergy sufferers (standing up for their `cause', presumably). A Fanta ad was pulled after 272 people complained that it was `disgusting' - it showed individuals spitting out streams of Fanta from their mouths. What kind of people could seriously be offended by that? Following the complaints, the ad was restricted to post-watershed (that is, post-9pm) TV, in case children might be tempted to copy the people in the Fanta ad and spit their drinks everywhere.

In these instances, there is not even the pretence of being democratic. Democracy is about empowering the majority over the dictates of a minority. In the new forms of minority censorship, we have the empowering of the individual; the endowing of each citizen with the power and influence to be the gatekeeper of decency. This might sound well and good.empowering even. In reality it is censorious and belittling. One might even say it is offensive.

The upholding of complaints made by a tiny group of people or even a single individual turns every one of us into the potential eyes and ears of regulators, the footsoldiers of every jumped-up interest group in the country. Take the couple of police officers who complained about an advert for a Wearside law firm. The promotional poster advertised the fact that everyone who is taken to a police station is entitled to free legal advice. It was placed opposite the main police station in Sunderland and showed an attractive woman dressed as a sexy copper waving handcuffs under the words: `It's a fair cop! (but it might not be)..so let [our solicitors] advise, assist and defend you.' Following the police officers' complaints, the law firm removed the poster.

This was not a case of the long arm of the law intruding into citizens' lives. Rather the couple of cops who complained were speaking as ordinary citizens, defending not the image of the police against uppity lawyers but rather the integrity of female officers against an ad they found to be `sexist'. It seems that even when the police demand censure these days, it is as small groups of offended individuals rather than as a body of armed men.

Today, it isn't only those who have been personally offended who file complaints; now the morally righteous tend to complain on behalf of others. A Swansea receptionist made a complaint to the police after she witnessed a man shout `Sieg Heil!' at an Asian woman from his car as he drove past. The man was a BNP member, and he was fined; he argued that the case should never have come to court as the victim of his spiteful words never actually complained. He has a point.

The fact that an increasing number of statements, adverts and actions are withdrawn as a result of individual complaints is the inevitable outcome of trying to defend any group from ever being offended. Today's culture of inoffensiveness, the idea that `You can't say that!' if it hurts someone's feelings, has given rise to censure based on tiny numbers of people claiming to have felt offended. Once society accepts that it is legitimate to protect individuals or groups from the subjective category of `offensive' speech or expression, then that gives carte blanche to individuals everywhere to demand the removal of things they don't like. At least the old censors claimed to be democratic, to represent a `silent majority' or `public decency'; of course this was nonsense, because in fact they tended merely to dress up their own values as the nation's values.

Today, by contrast, groups like Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority openly respond to tiny handfuls of complaints, using the bogeyword of `offensive!' to remove certain words and images from the public realm. The consequence is an unmistakable narrowing of what is acceptable and unacceptable speech, and the spread of both formal and informal speech codes. Such minority censure can only encourage ignorance and heightened sensitivity amongst the public. We might update Burke's dictum: all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to complain


Colorado Springs neighborhood: we must stop this, “homosexuals are moving in”

Post lifted from STACLU

Story: Identity crisis: As gays move in, some fear loss of the area’s character

Some heterosexual residents of Colorado Springs, home base for the conservative group Focus on the Family, are worried that the morals, culture and history of their neighborhood could be lost in the process, and they have started a campaign to preserve its character. The city, meanwhile, is spending $100,000 on a plan aimed at keeping the area’s heterosexual identity intact.

Homosexuals “are welcome as long as they understand this is our community,” said Phyllis Strait, a leader of Keep Colorado Moral Coalition, a group formed eight months ago to address the shifts in the neighborhood in recent years.

It continues with the political aspect of the movement:

“Having a specific neighborhood politicians can point to, can go to and shake hands or kiss straight babies, has really solidified the heterosexual vote, our political muscle,” said longtime community activist Ida Hayder at a forum in November.


Being an extremist homosexual means never having to notice your own hypocrisy. The real story is from (surprise, surprise) the San Francisco Chronicle:

Story: S.F.’s Castro district faces an identity crisis: As straights move in, some fear loss of the area’s character

Some gay and lesbian residents of the Castro are worried that the culture and history of their world-famous neighborhood could be lost in the process, and they have started a campaign to preserve its character. The city, meanwhile, is spending $100,000 on a plan aimed at keeping the area’s gay identity intact.

Heterosexuals “are welcome as long as they understand this is our community,” said Adam Light, a leader in the Castro Coalition, a group formed eight months ago to address the shifts in the neighborhood in recent years.

“Lesbian babies.” Sick folks. Sick.

“Having a specific neighborhood politicians can point to, can go to and shake hands or kiss lesbian babies, has really solidified the gay vote, our political muscle,” said longtime community activist Tommi Avicolli Mecca at a forum in November.

No, there’s no Homosexual Agenda.


This sort of thing has become chronic under Britain's Labour government but the Leftist NSW government has the same virus

When the Sydney Harbour Bridge opened in 1932, more than a million people turned up to celebrate. They came on foot and by old-style tram, and they danced all over the road. One boy, aged nine, rode a horse 1300km unaccompanied just to get there on time. But that was 1932, when people were robust, capable of crossing the road without a note from the Premier.

If you imagine the free-wheeling 1930s spirit will reign when the bridge opens to the public for its 75th birthday on Sunday, March 18, think again. At this year's walk, you won't be able to wake up, decide it's a lovely day, put on a pair of sandals and just go. You'll be told when and how and even with whom you can walk. You will have to register before the day, which means going to a website, giving your name and getting a ticket, which will in turn give you a time-slot - say 10am-11.30am - during which you'll be allowed to set off. If you're walking in a group, the organisers want to know how big it is. And you won't be allowed to add to the group once your number is approved. You can only walk one way, and you won't be allowed to stop. There will be no lunches on the bridge.

The organisers - it's the Premier's protocol department, apparently, although the event is sponsored by The Sydney Morning Herald - provide all manner of advice that adults were once thought not to to need: comfortable walking shoes are "critical" while sunscreen is "important", and there must be no rollerblades, no skateboards, no bicycles, no popping open the champagne, and - perhaps worst of all - no glorious golden retrievers straining at the lead. No pets at all.

There will be an Aboriginal smoking ceremony, but that has organisers in a spin. Children, the elderly, the asthmatic and the weak of heart, consider yourself warned. Organisers say: "Smoke may irritate eyes and throat so ALL bridge walkers are advised to stay upwind of the smoke drums".

Pedestrians on the bridge yesterday couldn't understand it. Jogger Ally Corbett said the bureaucracy could "ruin the fun". And Kieran Knox, walking hand-in-hand with Natalie Meredith, said: "I reckon they should block it off and have a festival".

The regulations come during a week in which a Sydney couple were told they couldn't smoke in their own apartment because it annoyed the neighbours. The week before, the Mexican wave was banned at the cricket. And Waverley Council in Sydney's east wanted to ban Australian flags on Bondi beach, air-conditioners and swimming pools.

There was a time when adults were able to pop outside without a hat -- and if they got sunburnt, well, bad luck, it was a lesson learnt, and one to pass on to the kids. Now the Government steps in to warn us even about the perils of getting blisters on the back of our feet. Scott Crebbin, a spokesman for the bridge walk, said: "It's about ensuring it's safe, comfortable and spread across the day."


3 March, 2007


Arrogant American Leftists who think that they can overturn centuries of basic church teachings

- The Vatican's second highest juridical authority has rejected the appeal of an American leftist group, Call to Action (CTA), to overturn a decree of excommunication by the bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska, who called the group an "anti-Catholic sect".

A letter from the Apostolic Signatura, the Catholic Church's supreme tribunal and the highest judicial authority after the Pope himself, dismissed the group's attempt at appeal with a terse message that it had "no competence" to overturn the decree. The Signatura's letter reiterates a December letter from the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops, Giovanni Cardinal Battista Re, upholding the 1996 decree. In his letter, Re said CTA and the other groups were "causing damage to the Church of Christ" and that the bishop's action "was properly taken within your competence as pastor of that diocese."

Re agreed with Bruskewitz's description of the groups named in the decree as "totally incompatible with the Catholic faith". They also included the abortion lobby groups Catholics for a Free Choice and Planned Parenthood and the euthanasia advocacy group the Hemlock Society.

Call to Action is the US' leading anti-Catholic organization, founded in the 1960's to agitate within the Catholic Church to overturn Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life, marriage and the meaning of the priesthood. At the time, CTA responded to the decree by holding a press conference in Washington DC and boasted that the decree had caused a "bonanza" of publicity for their cause and a wave of new memberships.

A formal decree of excommunication has always been extremely rare throughout the history of the Catholic Church and has typically been used as a last resort. It can be overturned by the bishop or the Pope when the individual concerned pledges to return to the normal practices and beliefs of Catholicism.

Rachel Pokora, president of Call to Action-Nebraska responded that the group would continue to attempt to overturn the decree saying they would be consulting canon lawyers. She told local media that she objected to the term "sect" because it implies Call to Action is "somehow heretical".



By Jeff Jacoby

Is marriage intrinsically connected to bearing and raising children? Advocates of same-sex marriage often argue peremptorily that it is not . "In today's society," Yale law professor William Eskridge asserts in The Case for Same-Sex Marriage, "the importance of marriage is relational and not procreational." The privileged status of marriage in modern society, in other words, has to do with the love and commitment of the spouses, not with the needs of any children those spouses may produce. In its 2003 Goodridge decision mandating same-sex marriage, the Massachusestts Supreme Judicial Court was even more emphatic. To the argument that the state's interest in marriage is connected to procreation, the SJC replied categorically: "This is incorrect."

As evidence that marriage and childrearing are not fundamentally related, same-sex marriage proponents frequently point out that married couples aren't required to have children. No law prevents infertile couples from marrying or orders childless marriages dissolved. If procreation is so important to marriage, they say, why should elderly couples, or couples determined not to have children, be permitted to wed?

Now a group of same-sex marriage supporters in Washington state has taken that argument to what even they describe as an "absurd" length. Archly calling themselves the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance, the activists are promoting Initiative 957, a ballot measure that would restrict marriage rights to men and women capable of bearing children.

Couples would be required to have a child within three years of getting married, or their marriage would be annulled. Non procreating couples could stay together if they wished, but their union would be classified as "unrecognized," and they would be legally ineligible for marital benefits.

To be sure, the activists behind this proposal don't expect it to become law. Even if voters were to approve something so outlandish, the Washington Supreme Court would strike it down. Alliance organizer Gregory Gadow says the initiative is offered "in the spirit of political street theater." On the group's website, however, his tone takes on a harder edge. "At the very least, it should be good fun to see the social conservatives who have long screamed that marriage exists for the sole purpose of procreation be forced to choke on their own rhetoric."

But Gadow and his fellow activists are assaulting a straw man. No mainstream opponent of same-sex marriage claims that having children is the sole purpose of wedlock. Marriages can serve any number of purposes, as diverse as the people entering into them -- cementing the bond between devoted partners, guaranteeing financial security, having a legitimate sexual outlet, ensuring companionship, and so on. People get married for various reasons; the desire to raise a family is only one of them.

What makes marriage a *public* institution, however -- the reason it is regulated by law and given an elevated legal status -- is that it provides something no healthy society can do without: a stable environment in which men and women can create and bring up the next generation, and in which children can enter the world with mothers and fathers committed to their well-being.

Because sex between men and women makes children, and because children tend to do best when raised by their mothers and fathers, society has a vested interest in encouraging long-term, monogamous, heterosexual marriage. True, not all married couples reproduce. But every opposite-sex marriage has the ability to give a father and a mother to any child the couple creates or adopts. That is something no same-sex couple can provide, which is one reason homosexual marriage has never become a social institution.

Of course procreation is not the only reason to marry, but to insist that marriage is not closely related to having children is like arguing, to use an analogy offered by marriage scholar David Blankenhorn, that cars are not intrinsically connected to driving. "When you acquire ownership of a car," Blankenhorn writes in his forthcoming book, The Future of Marriage, "society does not impose upon you a binding obligation to drive it. If you buy a car but fail to drive it, the state does not for that reason revoke your driver's license. . . . Cars can be about many things, including pleasure, aesthetics, economic gain, and social status." But whether any particular car is driven or not, cars and driving are intrinsically linked.

Similarly, whatever the circumstances of any married couple, marriage and procreation are intrinsically connected. Men and women make babies; babies need mothers and fathers. That is why there has always been a public stake in the marriage of husbands and wives. And why no such stake exists in the union of same-sex couples.


Years ago, radical advocates told America that Super Bowl Sunday resulted in very high rates of domestic violence. Last year, the world was convinced that 40,000 female sex slaves would be smuggled to Germany for the World Cup Finals. Radical women's studies departments and students annually celebrate "V-day", a dark substitute for Valentine's Day, to stop rape and sexual abuse of campus women purported to be endemic. Hysteria arose over claims that "date rape" is commonplace. And the Violence Against Women Act is built on the notion that if women are ever violent, it is solely in self-defense.

History proves all the above claims are substantively false. It is time for legislators and the media to expect more than theory or unsupported statistics before playing the fool for radical women's advocates. Here is the truth on the above issues:

Domestic violence rates for Super Bowl Sunday are only marginally higher than normal (See here). German police reported finding only five cases of sex slavery associated with the world cup (See here). V-Day has been proven to be little more than a self-aggrandizing event to promote feminist values and irrational fear of men. More recently, the "date rape" myth has been exposed for what it is: a way for binge-drinking women to conveniently and profitably pass the blame (See here). No major study has ever demonstrated that domestic violence is caused by gender of the offender: men and women are equal initiators of serious domestic violence (See here).

Politicians and journalists who disregard science do great damage to society, families, and children (See here). Witch hunts have never helped anyone. Journalists can make front-page headlines and do a great service publishing the truth rather than serving as megaphones for the rumor mill so accustomed to leveraging ill-begotten federal entitlements by crying wolf.


2 March, 2007


George Orwell's epic Nineteen Eighty-Four set out a chilling vision of Britain under totalitarian rule. But for New Labour, the novel seems to be regarded not so much as a warning as a blueprint for action. The machinery of the state is taking on ever larger powers of intrusion into our lives, bullying, lecturing, taxing and watching. Driven by the ideologies of equality and environmentalism, civic bureaucrats see themselves as the masters of the people rather than servants, hence their enthusiasm for ID cards, racial monitoring and, now, the continual surveillance of motorists.

Local government is a central part of this process. Our town halls are filled with officials who have lost the concept of public service. Instead, they feel they have the right to demand more money from us, to threaten us about the way we dispose of our rubbish, to spy on our every car journey, and to hector us about the joys of multicultural diversity.

Municipal pen-pushers are fast becoming the shock troops of Big Brother Britain, as was graphically demonstrated by the news that councils may be given authority to tag cars and use the council tax revaluation exercise not only to take more of our cash, but also as a means of acquiring detailed information on every household.

In a dramatic extension of town hall extortion, residents could find themselves having to pay higher taxes because they live in a quiet neighbourhood, are close to local facilities or have made improvements to their properties. Inspectors could be given powers to demand entry into homes to take photographs and demand information from the owners.

During the council tax revaluation in Wales in 2005, people were warned that, if they did not fill in detailed questionnaires about their houses, they could face forcible entry from officials. In a typical piece of political deceit, the Welsh were promised that there would be no overall increase in taxation, but the revaluation led to huge rises, with four times as many homes moving up the tax bands as down.

Now the experiment is likely to be repeated across England. Individuals are to be punished for wanting to enhance their home or enjoy a prosperous, tranquil neighbourhood. This is socialism with a vengeance, class envy masquerading as fiscal rebalancing. Local government is being turned into a mafia-style protection racket: pay more if you want a quiet life.

What is disturbing is the way that self-important bureaucrats may be allowed, supposedly for council tax purposes, to ask for data about our lifestyles as well as our properties. In fact, the programme for the municipal revaluation includes a section with no fewer than 287 different questions about personal lives, covering everything from holidays or political party membership.

Ministers will no doubt claim that the tax reassessment will concentrate purely on property values. But that will hardly be convincing, given Labour's sorry record. The 2001 Census was transformed from a straightforward headcount into a national farce by the obsession with ever more detailed questions, especially on ethnicity. Similarly, because of the institutional neurosis about "equality of access", students applying to university now have to provide details about their parents' economic and social status.

Nor has local government shown much respect for personal privacy or individual freedom. Bullying the public has become one of the central characteristics of the modern town hall and, like all forms of political oppression, it is usually carried out in the name of the public good. So, brimming with self-righteous zeal over the nation's health, councils are recruiting thousands of anti-smoking officers to enforce the ban on smoking in public places, which comes into effect in July. Similarly, they are using bogus concern about the environment to enforce increasingly complex rules on recycling, abandoning traditional weekly collections and threatening heavy fines, even jail terms, against those who show insufficient adherence to the fashionable new green creed.

In one outrageous recent case, a 78-year-old wheelchair-bound multiple sclerosis sufferer was sent a letter by Burnley council after he made the understandable error of placing an empty orange carton in a container meant for cardboard, warning him that any further recycling misdemeanours would result in a 1,000 pound fine and a criminal record.

It is unlikely that the town hall inspectors will show much restraint over revaluation. Yet this exercise could be far less complex and controversial if local authorities were less grasping. The reason council tax is becoming ever more hated is because municipalities are so spendthrift. On average, tax bills have doubled in the past 10 years, though the public has seen little improvement in services.

Last week, the Audit Commission, the independent financial watchdog, reported that the majority of councils had raised their standards of management over the past year. They were, however, starting from a worryingly low base and a substantial number of councils have actually become weaker. In truth, the education system is a national scandal, failing to provide basic literacy and numeracy and only sustained by bloated subsidies and inflated exam results. The quality of elderly care, social services, and street cleaning hardly reflect the large sums they receive.

Too many authorities are self-perpetuating bureaucracies, squandering money on paper-shuffling hierarchies of top-heavy management and armies of overpaid, unnecessary officials. Just as an example, Lambeth Council, named by the Audit Commission as one of the worst-performing authorities, is recruiting a œ79,000-a-year "Director of Campaigns and Communications", the aim of whose job is to "build a lasting dialogue with our citizens". It is unlikely that any Lambeth citizens would notice if the post were to remain unfilled. Waste is endemic in local government.

Productivity in the workforce is low, absenteeism high. And too much activity is geared towards social engineering rather than providing efficient services, as reflected in the disastrous drive to promote multiculturalism, which has done so much to tear apart the fabric of urban Britain.

If local authorities were properly managed and less bureaucratic, they would not have to make such excessive demands. The need for all the stealth taxes and bullying inspections would disappear. But that would entail a wholesale change in the culture of the state sector, for the contempt for the taxpayer only reflects a wider arrogance towards the public. It is up to all of us to sound a trumpet blast against the march of official tyranny. When the inspectors come knocking, we should show them the door. Unlike Winston Smith, we must never learn to love Big Brother.


Rhode Island Attorney General Imposes Same-Sex "Marriage" Recognition on State

Attorney General Patrick Lynch effectively imposed legal recognition of same-sex unions on the state of Rhode Island last week when he issued a letter calling for the recognition of homosexual unions performed in Massachusetts.

Lynch's sister is lesbian--one week before issuing the letter, the attorney general attended the same-sex "marriage" of his sister and her partner in Massachusetts. Pro-family groups have said the situation is a clear conflict of interest on Lynch's part and amounts to an abuse of power. "This abuse of power should sound the alarm for Rhode Island's pro-family voters and spark a movement to introduce a marriage protection amendment so that the state's position on marriage is no longer in doubt," Americans For Truth said in a statement.

Lynch denied that his personal interests were at play in the decision, saying his sister's situation had "zero impact" on his decision to offer support to homosexual unions. While Lynch's letter is a non-binding opinion, it will carry significant weight in the state. Many state agencies are expected to begin recognition of same-sex unions based on the attorney general's explicit approval of the move.

Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin, of Providence, RI, spoke out against Lynch's move and accused the attorney general of allowing himself to be swayed by homosexual activists, Catholic World News reported Feb.26. "It is clear that the attorney general's thinking on this issue has been influenced by the relentless gay agenda so prevalent in our state," Bishop Tobin said.

He pointed out that Lynch made his announcement on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Catholic penitential season of Lent, and said the move toward recognition of same-sex unions "has given us another reason to repent of our sins."

Massachusetts' Superior Court Judge Thomas Connolly ruled that the state should grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples from Rhode Island, in a decision released last October. At the time, Lynch said the ruling would not change Rhode Island's prohibition against homosexual "marriage".

"This ruling does not authorize same-sex marriages in Rhode Island, and it does not mean that Rhode Island will recognize a same-sex marriage performed in Massachusetts," Lynch said in a statement.

While Rhode Island's marriage laws use the terms "bride" and "groom" in defining marriage, the state does not have a constitutional amendment in place that specifically prohibits homosexual "marriage."



For all that Hollywood pretends otherwise

It is rare that a Hollywood film takes up a subject like William Wilberforce (1759-1833), the British parliamentarian who devoted nearly his entire 45-year political career to banning the British slave trade. Alas, a lot of people watching "Amazing Grace," Michael Apted's just-released film, may get the impression--perhaps deliberately fostered by Mr. Apted--that Wilberforce was a mostly secular humanitarian whose main passion was not Christian faith but politics and social justice. Along the way, they may also get the impression that the hymn "Amazing Grace" is no more than an uplifting piece of music that sounds especially rousing on the bagpipes.

In fact, William Wilberforce was driven by a version of Christianity that today would be derided as "fundamentalist." One of his sons, sharing his father's outlook, was the Anglican bishop Samuel Wilberforce, who wrote a passionate critique of "The Origin of the Species," arguing that Darwin's then-new theory could not fully account for the emergence of human beings. William Wilberforce himself, as a student at Cambridge University in the 1770s and as a young member of Parliament soon after, had no more than a nominal sense of faith. Then, in 1785, he began reading evangelical treatises and underwent what he called "the Great Change," almost dropping out of politics to study for the ministry until friends persuaded him that he could do more good where he was.

And he did a great deal of good, as Mr. Apted's movie shows. His relentless campaign eventually led Parliament to ban the slave trade, in 1807, and to pass a law shortly after his death in 1833, making the entire institution of slavery illegal. But it is impossible to understand Wilberforce's long antislavery campaign without seeing it as part of a larger Christian impulse. The man who prodded Parliament so famously also wrote theological tracts, sponsored missionary and charitable works, and fought for what he called the "reformation of manners," a campaign against vice. This is the Wilberforce that Mr. Apted has played down.

And little wonder. Even during the 18th century, evangelicals were derided as over-emotional "enthusiasts" by their Enlightenment-influenced contemporaries. By the time of Wilberforce's "great change," liberal 18th-century theologians had sought to make Christianity more "reasonable," de-emphasizing sin, salvation and Christ's divinity in favor of ethics, morality and a rather distant, deistic God. Relatedly, large numbers of ordinary English people, especially among the working classes, had begun drifting away from the tepid Christianity that seemed to prevail. Evangelicalism sought to counter such trends and to reinvigorate Christian belief.

Perhaps the leading evangelical force of the day was the Methodism of John Wesley: It focused on preaching, the close study of the Bible, communal hymn-singing and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Central to the Methodist project was the notion that good works and charity were essential components of the Christian life. Methodism spawned a vast network of churches and ramified into the evangelical branches of Anglicanism. Nearly all the social-reform movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries--from temperance and soup kitchens to slum settlement houses and prison reform--owe something to Methodism and its related evangelical strains. The campaign against slavery was the most momentous of such reforms and, over time, the most successful.

It is thus fitting that John Wesley happened to write his last letter--sent in February 1791, days before his death--to William Wilberforce. Wesley urged Wilberforce to devote himself unstintingly to his antislavery campaign, a "glorious enterprise" that opposed "that execrable villainy which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature." Wesley also urged him to "go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it."

Wesley had begun preaching against slavery 20 years before and in 1774 published an abolitionist tract, "Thoughts on Slavery." Wilberforce came into contact with the burgeoning antislavery movement in 1787, when he met Thomas Clarkson, an evangelical Anglican who had devoted his life to the abolitionist cause. Two years later, Wilberforce gave his first speech against the slave trade in Parliament.

As for the hymn "Amazing Grace," from which the film takes its name, it is the work of a friend of Wilberforce's named John Newton (played in the movie by Albert Finney). Newton had spent a dissolute youth as a seaman and eventually became a slave-ship captain. In his 20s he underwent a kind of spiritual crisis, reading the Bible and Thomas … Kempis's "Imitation of Christ." A decade later, having heard Wesley preach, he fell in with England's evangelical movement and left sea-faring and slave-trading behind. Years later, under the influence of Wilberforce's admonitions, he joined the antislavery campaign. The famous hymn amounted to an autobiography of his conversion: "Amazing grace . . . that saved a wretch like me." In the most moving moment of the film--and one of the few that addresses a Christian theme directly--the aged and now-blind Newton declares to Wilberforce: "I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great savior."

This idea of slaving as sin is key. As sociologist Rodney Stark noted in "For the Glory of God" (2003), the abolition of slavery in the West during the 19th century was a uniquely Christian endeavor. When chattel slavery, long absent from Europe, reappeared in imperial form in the 16th and 17th centuries--mostly in response to the need for cheap labor in the New World--the first calls to end the practice came from pious Christians, notably the Quakers. Evangelicals, not least Methodists, quickly joined the cause, and a movement was born.

Thanks to Wilberforce, the movement's most visible champion, Britain ended slavery well before America, but the abolitionist cause in America, too, was driven by Christian churches more than is often acknowledged. Steven Spielberg's 1997 "Amistad," about the fate of blacks on a mutinous slave ship, also obscured the Christian zeal of the abolitionists.

Nowadays it is all too common--and not only in Hollywood--to assume that conservative Christian belief and a commitment to social justice are incompatible. Wilberforce's embrace of both suggests that this divide is a creation of our own time and, so to speak, sinfully wrong-headed. Unfortunately director Apted, as he recently told Christianity Today magazine, decided to play down Wilberforce's religious convictions--that would be too "preachy," he said--and instead turned his story into a yarn of political triumph. The film's original screenwriter, Colin Welland, who wrote the screenplay for the acclaimed and unabashedly Christian "Chariots of Fire," was replaced.


Random breath testing and how to lie with graphs

Excerpt from Prof. Brignell

The Times came up with the perfect illustration of how the media collude with the State to justify draconian legislation and curtailment of liberty. The headline was Random breath tests to hit drink-drivers. The graphic artist employed two of the main elements of chartmanship (suppressed zero and bizarre aspect ratio). To the uneducated eye it looks like a cut and dried case for oppressive action:

Here is the same chart without the chartmanship:

Even the most innumerate bigot would not offer this as evidence for the most innocuous of laws. An experienced experimentalist would conjecture that it represents a constant with added random noise. Yet it is essentially exactly the same graph.

No doubt there is further dubiety in the original data. What is meant by drink-drive fatalities? Do they include cases where an entirely blameless party subsequently fails a test? At this point activists would be offering accusations of condoning child murder etc. When reason fails, appeal to emotion. It is perhaps fair enough to say that such an individual took the risk and must accept the punishment, but that is quite a different matter from including the case in data purporting to establish causality. Given the track record of the authorities, it would be entirely reasonable to expect various further fiddles.

Random breath tests are tantamount to wrongful arrest, a deprivation of liberty without justification. It has long been illegal in our society. Once random arrest creeps in for one circumstance, it is easy to add it in for others. Police suddenly have the right to make people queue at road blocks for hours while they process them. You would no longer need any laws to apprehend people. You could stop them for wearing the wrong football favours or political rosettes."It's purely random, Mate!" That is how free societies come to an end: death by a thousand small and entirely reasonable cuts.

1 March, 2007

Assaulted Sidewalk Counselor Speaks Out about Abortion and Miscarriage of Justice

Daniel Heenan has been fighting for justice from Planned Parenthood and the Metropolitan Police Department since 2004, when he says he was assaulted by a Planned Parenthood security guard while counseling women outside Planned Parenthood's D.C. abortion clinic.

Heenan now teaches history and religion at Our Lady of Hope Catholic School in Sterling, VA. He has written about his experiences for LifeSiteNews.com and how he believes there is an insidious link between abortion and the miscarriage of justice he experienced. Heenan believes the incident also confirms that abortion is really a spiritual battle as well.

What Heenan describes is an alleged account of collusion between the justice system and Planned Parenthood to attempt to deny him due process of law. Heenan writes that D.C. police officers deliberately failed to perform their duty while witnessing security guard Harry James assault Heenan from behind, and then the officers warned Heenan not to file charges.

One officer, wrote Heenan, later intimidated sidewalk counselors with lewd comments and then threw him against a fence threatening him with arbitrary arrest. Heenan told LifeSiteNews that the case against Planned Parenthood would have remained buried if not for the insistence of one lone police officer, Lt. Smith, who for his pains was later transferred out of the district. "As committed Catholics, honesty is important to us. As committed abortion proponents, deceit and dishonesty is part and parcel of their business," says Heenan, who charges that Planned Parenthood obstructed and perjured their way through the investigation.

Heenan says he had much assistance from The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which provided a substantial legal team to represent him in his actions against Harry James and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. "I have been terribly dismayed to learn that all the witnesses of the defense have described themselves as Catholic or as having been raised Catholics," Heenan told LifeSiteNews.com, adding these pro-abortion "Catholics" wore their faith as "a badge of honor.

However, the nature of the battle for life is not just political or legal, but also spiritual, writes Heenan, and means that Christians must zealously pass down and spread the fundamentals of their faith, or else new generations may "become casualties of the culture of death and moral relativism".


The woman is always right: Not this time. There ARE some bitches

British fireman wins 100,000 pounds in sex-bias case

A fire-service controller whose career was destroyed by a string of spurious complaints by a female colleague was awarded more than 100,000 pounds in compensation yesterday. The complaints made against John Owers, a controller with Devon Fire and Rescue Service, over a period of three years led to him being banned from his own control room, even though investigations found that he had done nothing wrong.

Sarah Kelly, a fellow controller, made 16 formal complaints, including one that Mr Owers should not have taken a holiday in August and another that he had failed to attend a colleague's leaving party. Last year an employment tribunal upheld Mr Owers's claim that he had been the victim of sexual discrimination. It was told that Devon fire brigade had treated him as the wrongdoer even though Miss Kelly's complaints were consistently found to be spurious.

No action was taken against Miss Kelly even though she continued to complain about Mr Owers. Of the 16 complaints, 10 were rejected as too trivial to investigate. The other inquiries found no evidence that Mr Owers had done anything wrong. Among the complaints was one that Mr Owers had stared at her and another that he had addressed her boyfriend, a fire-fighter, as "mate". [Which is a normal form of address in many parts of England]

Miss Kelly, 37, eventually left her job and now lives abroad. The tribunal was told that when Mr Owers complained about the false accusations, he was ignored. A personnel officer told him: "If you had been a woman the whole thing would have been handled differently."

Devon fire brigade agreed a settlement at the start of a remedy hearing. Mr Owers, 53, agreed to accept an undisclosed settlement, understood to be about 100,000. He was claiming for loss of earnings and pensions after being forced out of his job, as well as damages for hurt feelings and compensation for the stress that he suffered during the case. The settlement was approved by John Hollow, the tribunal chairman, who had found the fire service guilty of sex discrimination.

He said: "As time progressed the claimant began to feel increasingly abandoned and unsupported. No action was being taken by his employers, as far as he could judge, to bring the situation to a conclusion. "It is sufficient for us to note that the respondents have concluded that Mr Owers was not at fault and have never instituted any disciplinary action against him as a result of Ms Kelly's allegations. "We are satisfied that the treatment afforded to Mr Owers was less favourable than that afforded to Ms Kelly. Whenever there was a perceived infringement of the restrictions and a complaint was made by Miss Kelly this was investigated. "By contrast, when he complained no investigation was undertaken. We found the respondent's conduct less than impressive. Firm and effective management should have been brought to bear at a very early stage."

Mr Owers, from Exmouth, told the original hearing: "I had done nothing wrong. She has a right to make an accusation but when she had done it six times I wanted to know when they were going to turn round to her and say, `Enough is enough'." Devon fire brigade said that it had done everything it could to be evenhanded and insisted that it gave Mr Owers the same support as Miss Kelly. After the case, Mr Owers said: "I am pleased and relieved this matter has been resolved and I look forward to building a new life."


Australia getting it right about immigrant integration

Comment from American writer Herb London. There is another article here (or here) by Prof. London on the moral and intellectual vacuity of the student Left

In 1966 Australia's trade with Japan exceeded its trade with the United States and with Britain. At that time, it became increasingly difficult for Australia to maintain the exclusionary White Australia policy. That didn't stop Australian officials from trying. The Japanese at first were considered "Caucasian" under immigration provisions. But that stance was obviously unsustainable. Gradually and incrementally, the policy was revised to treat Asians as equals with Europeans.

But the liberalised immigration policy did not address the domestic condition of new immigrants. Was it desirable to have them integrated into Australian life? If so, how was this to be achieved? Or did it make more sense to have the immigrants relate to the larger culture through a form of modest separation - what can be described as cultural pluralism?

For decades, Australia countenanced the latter position, celebrating the cultural diversity of its immigrant population. It is now clear, however, that this celebration has turned into questioning and criticism. In some cases, physical separation has led to divisions in matters of national loyalty and adherence to national laws. As a result, the Government is moving from British-style multiculturalism to a policy of integration.

Although it might seem trivial, Australia has changed the name of its Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. This is one manifestation of an intense debate about what it means to be Australian, as rising nationalism is fuelled by worries that the nation is being torn apart by competing immigrant value systems.

Several incidents in which local Islamic groups have pledged loyalty to sharia (Islamic law) instead of the Australian constitution might be the catalyst for this national debate. The Prime Minister, John Howard, has often voiced his displeasure with multiculturalism, but he is acting to tighten requirements for attaining citizenship, including extending the waiting period and promoting a written test for new citizens.

Malcolm Turnbull, erstwhile parliamentary secretary and now the Minister for the Environment, gave voice to this policy shift by noting, "There was a time in the 1990s when I feared that multiculturalism was heading to a stage where the concept of Australia would cease to exist. So concerned were we about our ethnic or cultural backgrounds, we would forget what we were today, and Australia would be seen less as a nation than as just a place where people lived but did not call home."

The newly assertive voices on this matter are saying Australia is a liberal, democratic, English-speaking society, and it is up to new arrivals to adjust to this reality. About 25 per cent of Australians were born outside the country, more than in any other nation except Israel. The debate is addressing how far Australia should modify its identity in order to accommodate new arrivals.

In December 2005 a mob of white Australian youths, incensed by what they considered the harassment of women by Lebanese youths on a Sydney beach, went on a rampage, beating anyone with a Middle Eastern appearance. This riot left a scar on the nation that is still visible.

Muslims contend the policy shift is a form of discrimination that suggests that if you aren't white, you are "less equal". But Howard has addressed this concern: "You can't have a nation with a federation of cultures. You can have a nation where a whole variety of cultures constantly influence and mould and change and blend in with the mainstream. The core culture of this nation is very clear; we are an offshoot of Western civilisation."

Howard knows what he believes and believes what he knows. Moreover, he is unafraid to speak his mind, as he showed recently in condemning the US senator Barack Obama's misguided call for a timeline to withdraw troops from Iraq.

In a Western environment where the force of political correctness prevails, it is difficult to assert the superiority of Australian culture. To do so invites opprobrium from the multiculturalists. But no amount of criticism can change reality. Howard and Australia deserve congratulations for doing what is appropriate and right. If only we had a John Howard in the US.


Anti-white bias in the South Australian Fire service

Surely the only criterion for selection as a fireman should be how good the person is likely to be in putting out fires. Lives could be lost by having incompetents on the fire trucks

A special Metropolitan Fire Service training course to help people pass tough entry tests has been restricted to women, Aborigines and ethnic minority groups, causing tension within MFS ranks, the firefighters union says. The "pre-application" pilot program run by the MFS has been criticised by firefighters, who say it is unfair to the hundreds of male Anglo-Saxon applicants who miss out every year.

The MFS is accepting applications for full-time firefighters in the metropolitan area and Port Pirie as part of its latest recruit course, expected to start by June. Recruitment data, obtained by The Advertiser under Freedom of Information laws, reveals the MFS is still failing to attract more applicants from diverse backgrounds. The FoI data shows there were 34 women invited to undertake the most recent recruiting process last year, nine people born overseas and 81 whose parents were of non-English background. This compares with 497 Anglo-Saxon male applicants invited to try out. The course success rate is just 8 per cent.

United Firefighters Union of SA president Bill Jamieson said there was a "great deal of angst" within MFS ranks about the special policy. "On the balance of fairness, we can't support this special program," he said. "The same opportunities are not given to other recruits, and in this case it is the employer helping them to pass."

MFS Chief Officer Grant Lupton said the course was designed to "level the playing field" in order to meet State Government targets of increasing the participation of women and Aboriginal people in the public sector. He said there were just four female full-time firefighters in a force of about 800. "All government agencies have a responsibility to reflect the community they serve," he said. "We serve a diverse community in South Australia yet our workforce doesn't reflect that at all. When I've got fire trucks rolling up to a job it would be great to have a woman, an indigenous person or an Asian there, rather than just all white men."

Emergency Services Minister Carmel Zollo yesterday said the State Government was "an equal opportunity employer . . . it is important that everyone has the opportunity to apply for jobs". Opposition emergency services spokesman Mark Goldsworthy said the MFS policy had merit.