POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH ARCHIVE
The creeping dictatorship of the Left...
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30 November, 2006
WOMEN TALK MORE BECAUSE THEY ENJOY IT MORE
It is something one half of the population has long suspected, and the other has always vocally denied: women talk more than men. In fact, women talk almost three times as much, uttering a staggering 20,000 words a day on average compared to men's 7000. They speak more quickly, devote more brainpower to chit-chat and get a buzz out of hearing their own voices, a female psychiatrist suggests.
In her book, The Female Mind, Dr Luan Brizendine says the disparity is caused by differences in the male and female brain. The sex hormone testosterone, responsible for moulding the male brain in the womb, shrinks the areas responsible for communication, emotion and memory, she claims. The result is that men chat less than females and struggle to express their emotions to the same extent. In contrast, women have more brain cells set aside for communication. And the act of talking triggers a flood of chemicals which gives them a rush similar to that felt by heroin addicts on a high.
Dr Brizendine, who runs a female "mood and hormone" clinic in the US and describes herself as a feminist, said testosterone also reduces the size of the section of the brain involved in hearing, allowing men to become "deaf" to the most logical of arguments put forward by women. Their brain power, however, is definitely superior when it comes to sex. Dr Brizendine believes the area responsible for sexual thoughts is twice as big in male brains. Studies have shown that, while a man will think about sex every 52 seconds, the subject crosses women's minds just once a day, said said.
Dr Brizendine, whose findings are based on her analysis of more than 1000 scientific studies, added: "There is no unisex brain. Girls arrive already wired as girls, and boys arrive already wired as boys. Their brains are what drive their impulses, values and their very reality." Other scientists, however, are sceptical about the effects of testosterone on the brain. Deborah Cameron, an Oxford University linguistics professor, said the amount we talk is influenced by the social environment we live in.
Censorship = Tolerance and Diversity?
Sometimes even obvious possibilities may not be mentioned
Satoshi Kanazawa, a virtually unknown professor of evolutionary psychology at the London School of Economics (LSE), has published in the pages of the British Journal of Health Psychology an article suggesting that ill-health and poverty in less-developed countries in Africa can be blamed on low IQs. Predictably, student activists have circulated an electronic petition across Europe calling on the well-known school to stand up for tolerance and diversity--by condemning Kanazawa.
Thankfully, these self-appointed do-gooders are off to a slow start. At the time I finished editing this column, the student petition, "LSE Lecturer: Research or Racism?" had only 151 signatures. Needless to say, I was not one of its signatories. It's not that I support Kanazawa (I don't even know who he is). Rather, I consider the petition's aim to be nothing more than a call for censorship. I'm not sure I like that.
I also bristle anytime student activists and other pimple-faced do-gooders decide what views or opinions I should be protected from. But more than anything else, the petition embodies the worst kind of political correctness and is, with no hyperbole intended, fundamentally dangerous to the very idea of academic freedom.
In my way of thinking, if you really aim to be diverse and tolerant--as an individual, institution, or society--then I think freedom of thought and liberty of opinion (no matter how objectionable) is fundamental. I am therefore perplexed by a petition that calls for institutional condemnation of a professor. How can censorship of a particular view--no matter how obtuse or misguided it may be--be equated to standing up for tolerance and diversity?
Now, let's be up-front about things here: Racist or racialist theories are repugnant. And Kanazawa may be shown to have, in the end, some questionable views. But I'm not ready to label him a racist or eugenicist yet since I haven't read his article (and I'm not about to blindly trust the British tabloids). His publishing record is certainly provocative and includes such choice works as "Why beautiful people are more intelligent", "You can judge a book by its cover", and "The myth of racial discrimination in pay in the US".
But the truth is I am not in the least bit interested in discussing Kanazawa or his article. What concerns me is the well-intentioned but wholly misguided reactions to his ideas. In other words, the problem is not Kanazawa but the LSE petition and the authoritarian liberals signing it. Their morally righteous and knee-jerk reaction to ideas deemed "dangerous" frankly terrifies me much more than Kanazawa himself
To be sure, this is the first that any of us studying journalism here have ever heard of Kanazawa. But I have little doubt that the Kanazawa story will get bigger in the coming weeks--especially as the petition spreads and if the LSE continues to admirably defend the professor's right to publish controversial research.
Of course, in the US, we've seen this all before: earlier this year, when John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt published their paper "The Israel Lobby"; in, 2005, when Larry Summers at Harvard raised questions about gender and academic achievement in mathematics; in 2004, when Samuel Huntington published Who Are We?, on America's national identity and Hispanic immigration; in 1994, when Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein co-wrote The Bell Curve. It's no different on the other side of the Atlantic. In March, Leeds University forced the early retirement of a professor accused of racism because he supported the ideas of Murray and Herrnstein (which have, by the way, almost nothing to do with race but everything to do with the erosion of social cohesion in the US). And incidents of political correctness abound in England and across the Euro-zone.
That's why with regards to Kanazawa, I am surprised that the LSE hasn't yet fired him. (The last time I saw this kind of back-bone in defense of free speech was when the Danish government refused to condemn the news daily Jyllands-Posten for publishing a dozen cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.)
What to do about Kanazawa? Laissez faire, laissez aller, laissez passer. Let him continue to put his ideas into circulation--by publishing articles, lecturing, giving provocative presentations--and watch just how quickly the marketplace of ideas at the LSE and elsewhere will churn with indignant responses to his outrageous claims. I have no doubt that his work will eventually serve as a catalyst for others to carry out their own research. Some of these researchers will overwhelm him with reams of new data. Others may eventually (si Deus vult) prove him flat-out wrong--and effectively reduce him to academic irrelevance.
But liberty of thought and mind is vital. And if there is one place in the world where crack-pot ideas can be discussed and hair-brained schemes explored without fear of retribution it should be in the halls of academe. It is precisely because the LSE is a diverse and tolerant [academic] institution that it should do nothing about Kanazawa and leave the professor to his fever swamps. Let the student petitioners gnash their teeth.
Starbucks again in the sights of the success-haters
Starbucks was accused yesterday of "playing Russian roulette" with its brand as a row over prices for Ethiopian coffee farmers intensified. As an Oxford academic lambasted the American coffee shops chain, Jim Donald, Starbucks' chief executive, was preparing to visit Ethiopia tomorrow for talks with Meles Zenawi, its Prime Minister, The Times has learnt.
Douglas Holt, the L'Or‚al Professor of Marketing at Oxford University's Said Business School, accused Starbucks of hypocrisy and abuse of power and said that the company was in danger of damaging its name among its educated middle-class customers by opposing Addis Ababa's attempts to trademark Ethiopia's coffee varieties in the United States.
The international coffee chain had worked hard to cultivate a progressive image, selling fair trade and "ethical" products and promoting sustainable development among the poorest coffee-growers, he said. "In their rash attempt to shut down Ethiopia's applications, [Starbucks] have placed the Starbucks brand in significant peril. Starbucks customers will be shocked by the disconnect between their current perceptions of Starbucks' ethics and the company's actions against Ethiopia," he said. He claimed that Starbucks' stance was likely to hit profits much harder than any price rises brought about by trademarking.
Oxfam said last month that the Ethiopian growers selling to Starbucks earned between 75 cents and $1.60 a pound on beans that Starbucks sold at up to $26 (13.40 pounds sterling) a pound. The aid organisation issued a strongly worded statement accusing Starbucks of actively blocking Ethiopia's trademark bid.
Starbucks, in turn, denied this and issued a statement demanding that Oxfam stop its attack. Oxfam took out full-page advertisements on the issue in The New York Times and two Seattle-based newspapers. Starbucks said that trademarks were not the best way to help growers and suggested a regional certification alternative that it said was used in many countries to brand premium food and wine. It made no sense, the company said, for trademarks to be geographically based, as in the Ethiopian application for three regional names. Starbucks added that it consistently paid premium bean prices and that between 2002 and 2006 it had quadrupled its Ethiopian coffee purchases.
"We support the recognition of the source of our coffees and have a deep appreciation for the farmers that grow them," the company said. "We are committed to working collaboratively and continuing dialogue with key stakeholders to find a solution that benefits Ethiopian coffee farmers. We have had recent conversations with Oxfam about planning logistics for a stakeholder summit. "Our investment in social development projects and providing access to affordable loans . . . has been recognised for its leadership within the industry," it said.
Getachew Mengistie, the director-general of the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office, said that Addis Ababa had studied the merits of both trademarks and certification and found that trademarks would strengthen the position of farmers, enabling them to get a reasonable return for their product.
Professor Holt said: "With a certification mark, Starbucks and other Western coffee marketers would still have full control over Ethiopian coffee brands." Trademarks would require licences for companies wanting to use the names - giving the coffee producers a commercial asset that they could control.
Starbucks declined to confirm or deny Mr Donald's visit. Oxfam said that it had invited supporters to fax Mr Donald in protest and that more than 70,000 people had done so. "Speciality coffees in other regions of the world can get up to 45 per cent of the retail price, compared with the 5 to 10 per cent Ethiopians are currently receiving," Oxfam said. "We're meeting with Starbucks again next week and are hoping there can be progress." Ethiopia's growers could earn $88 million more per year with trademarks, it said. Starbucks declined to respond directly to Professor Holt's comments.
Brian Smith, research fellow at Cranfield University and author of Guarding the Brand, questioned Professor Holt's assertions. He said that Western consumers had limited sympathy with subsistence farmers in Africa and although they might be prepared to pay 5p more for a fair trade latte, they might not walk an extra 50 yards to another coffee shop to avoid Starbucks and its policy on trademarks. "I don't see this doing Starbucks significant long-lasting harm . . . Starbucks will handle this in an intelligent manner, offering an alternative," he said.
29 November, 2006
CHICAGO SLOW TO LEARN
Anti-Christmas idiocy is receding worldwide this year but not yet in Chicago
A public Christmas festival is no place for the Christmas story, the city says. Officials have asked organizers of a downtown Christmas festival, the German Christkindlmarket, to reconsider using a movie studio as a sponsor because it is worried ads for its film "The Nativity Story" might offend non-Christians.
New Line Cinema, which said it was dropped, had planned to play a loop of the new film on televisions at the event. The decision had both the studio and a prominent Christian group shaking their heads. "The last time I checked, the first six letters of Christmas still spell out Christ," said Paul Braoudakis, spokesman for the Barrington, Ill.-based Willow Creek Association, a group of more than 11,000 churches of various denominations. "It's tantamount to celebrating Lincoln's birthday without talking about Abraham Lincoln." He also said that there is a nativity scene in Daley Plaza - and that some vendors at the festival sell items related to the nativity.
The city does not want to appear to endorse one religion over another, said Cindy Gatziolis, a spokeswoman for the Mayor's Office of Special Events. She acknowledged there is a nativity scene, but also said there will be representations of other faiths, including a Jewish menorah, all put up by private groups. She stressed that the city did not order organizers to drop the studio as a sponsor. "Our guidance was that this very prominently placed advertisement would not only be insensitive to the many people of different faiths who come to enjoy the market for its food and unique gifts, but also it would be contrary to acceptable advertising standards suggested to the many festivals holding events on Daley Plaza," Jim Law, executive director of the office, said in a statement.
Officials with the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest, which has organized the event for several years, did not immediately return calls for comment. The festival started Thursday.
An executive vice president with New Line Cinema, Christina Kounelias, said the studio's plan to spend $12,000 in Chicago was part of an advertising campaign around the country. Kounelias said that as far as she knew, the Chicago festival was the only instance where the studio was turned down. Kounelias said she finds it hard to believe that non-Christians who attended something called Christkindlmarket would be surprised or offended by the presence of posters, brochures and other advertisements of the movie. "One would assume that if (people) were to go to Christkindlmarket, they'd know it is about Christmas," she said.
BRITISH GOVERNMENT DISCOURAGES MARRIAGE
The scandalous way that Labour has allowed State handouts to undermine marriage was exposed last night. A newlywed couple revealed how they were told by a Government welfare official: "You'd get more money if you split up." Janet and Mark Fensome were advised by their local Job Centre that if they wanted extra money in handouts, the best thing to do was to get divorced because under existing rules, couples who live apart get more. They had married three weeks earlier and were shocked to find out that the welfare official was right - but they refused to take the advice and complained to their MP.
The Job Centre's manager later apologised for the advice and said the official had acted wrongly. But aides to Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton has confirmed that, technically, the official was right: if the Fensomes had split up they would get an extra 25 pounds a week - or 1,250 a year. The Tories claimed that this showed how Labour has downgraded marriage and encouraged family break-ups by making it profitable to become single parents. Shadow Work and Pensions Minister Andrew Selous, who by chance is the Fensomes' MP, said: "John Hutton says he wants to encourage families together but Job Centres are telling people to do the opposite."
Mrs Fensome, of Houghton Regis, near Dunstable, in Bedfordshire, said: "We went to sort out a problem with our benefits after we came back from our honeymoon in Blackpool. "The woman at the Job Centre said, "If only you were split up and you were both single, it would be much easier to deal with and you would get more money too." I couldn't believe it." Mother-of-four Mrs Fensome, 41, who is training to be a marriage guidance counsellor, married engineer Mark on September 9. She helps with the local Cubs and Scouts and gave up work to care for her two infirm parents. Mr Fensome has been with the same engineering firm for more than 20 years but has been off work on incapacity benefit since suffering a nervous breakdown. For most of his time off work, Mr Fensome, 44, did not claim a penny in benefits and lived off his savings. When The Mail on Sunday visited the family yesterday, one of Mrs Fensome's teenage sons was practising the clarinet and another was doing his maths homework.
After their honeymoon in Blackpool paid for by friends and family, the couple went to Dunstable Job Centre Plus to sort out their benefit entitlements as a married couple. "The Government says it believes in families and yet it is advising people to part to claim more benefits. It doesn't make sense,' said Mrs Fensome. They were so shocked by the advice, they went to Bedfordshire South West MP Mr Selous, who complained to the head of Bedfordshire Job Centres. "I told him it was completely out of order,' said Mr Selous. "He apologised and said the official should not have said it and it was not their policy to advise people to break up. I want an assurance that this is not happening in other Job Centres."
The tax and benefits attack on marriage under Labour started when Gordon Brown abolished the married couples' tax allowance. The Tories claim the new system for helping people with children is biased against couples because single-parent families get the same amount in tax rebates as a couple where one parent stays at home to bring up the children. There are other handouts where couples can claim more by breaking up. Divorced couples can claim two portions of housing benefit and council tax rebate. Single parents get a 22.20 housing benefit premium. The unemployed can also claim more in income support and job seekers' allowance. In both cases a couple who split up can claim an additional 25 pounds a week. A single person gets 57.45 a week in income support. A couple who are both claiming receive a total of 90.10, or 45.05 each. The difference for two people is 24.80 a week or 1,289.60 a year.
A total of 200 million pounds of income support was claimed fraudulently last year - 130million going to people claiming to be lone parents. The Department for Work and Pensions launched a campaign last month to crack down on people pretending to live alone to get more. Billboard posters show a woman standing in a circle with the slogan: "But pretending I live on my own doesn't make me a benefits thief." The Department of Work and Pensions said: "The rate of benefits paid to couples reflects the lower cost of shared living expenses. It costs more for a single person to run a household than a couple."
Australia: "National identity" trumps "multiculturalism"
The term "multiculturalism" is out and "shared identity" is in under a new framework for Australian society. The Federal Government yesterday moved to redefine what it means to be a nation that accommodates people from many ethnic backgrounds and different parts of the world. In an address to the Australian National University, parliamentary secretary for immigration Andrew Robb said the term "multiculturalism" which had loosely defined Australia's ethnic policy for the past 30 years was vague and open to misinterpretation and abuse. "Some Australians worry that progressively the term multicultural has been transformed by some interest groups into a philosophy, a philosophy which puts allegiances to original culture ahead of national loyalty, a philosophy which fosters separate development, a federation of ethnic cultures, not one community," he said.
The Howard Government has long been a critic of so-called "mushy" multiculturalism. But this is the first time an alternative doctrine has been articulated. It is part of wider debate on Australian values and the failure of some Muslim immigrants to integrate, including a proposal by Opposition Leader Kim Beazley to make all new arrivals in Australia sign a values pledge. Fuelling the debate was the universally condemned statement last month by Australia's leading Muslim cleric, Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, comparing immodestly dressed women to uncovered meat.
Mr Robb said shared values - not a shared homeland - should be the "glue that binds" Australians. "A shared identity is not about imposing uniformity. It is about a strong identification with a set of core values, whilst permitting a large measure of personal freedom and 'give and take'." Mr Robb said said simply "co-habitating a space" was not a strong basis for a cohesive, trusting society. "A community of separate cultures fosters a rights mentality, rather than a responsibilities mentality. It is divisive. It works against quick and effective integration," he said. "Those who come here should unite behind a core set of values, a shared identity."
Labor's citizenship spokeswoman Annette Hurley said changing a word would not improve a sense of shared identity. "I think the public is looking for some action," she said.
28 November, 2006
Extremist views? Bring them on, we're ready
By Mick Hume
Back when I was a revolting revolutionary student, Labour students who ran university unions operated under the delusion that shutting up their opponents was the same as defeating them. Thus they demanded No platform for everybody from fascists (which included Tory ministers) to Zionists or the Moonies. Twenty-five years later those student politicians are running the country. And to judge by the Governments new guidelines about Islamic radicalism on campus, they have learnt nothing.
The guidelines issued by Bill Rammell, the Higher Education Minister, tell universities how to combat violent extremism in the name of Islam by spotting extremists, banning outside speakers or informing the police. Just about everything, in fact, except the one thing thats needed: some good arguments to explode the conspiracy theories of Islamic radicals.
Despite insisting that the Government supports freedom of expression, the guidelines definition of unacceptable extremism lumps incitement of social[?], racial or religious hatred in with terrorist acts, as if words and bombs were more or less equally dangerous.
There should be room for intellectual extremism of all sorts at university, the one place where young people ought to be free to experiment with ideas as well as everything else. Yet these days our ivory towers look more like fortresses of intolerance. Lecturers are wary of raising edgy questions that might offend some students, while freedom-phobic student union leaders seek to outlaw whatever-phobic words or images.
If debate is suppressed and the crazed ideas and conspiracies of Islamic radicals are never openly challenged, they can only fester and spread. Any attempt to silence them increases their credibility. And guidelines that leave the impression that the Government is afraid of a few bearded students are even better publicity for these groups.
Somebody needs to throw some intellectual grenades into university life, with arguments to incite hatred of illiberalism, whether it is offered in the name of Islam or of combating Islamophobia. Instead the only argument the guidelines propose concerns the radicals distorted interpretation of Islamic texts. Students can look forward to more sermons about the real meaning of being a Muslim from those noted Islamic scholars in new Labour.
Back in my day I recall one Labour union official with a megaphone, ordering Manchester University students to ignore Moonie leaflets. These people want to brainwash you! DONT LISTEN TO A WORD THEY SAY! So in the name of free-thinking, you tell students what not to think about. Today, who needs a megaphone when you have the Minister for Higher Education?Source
Diversity is divisive
A new manifesto looks set to kickstart a debate about how multiculturalism fosters tribalism and political victimhood.
The manifesto of the New Generation Network (NGN), published this week, has thrown out an impressive challenge to improve the national conversation about racism. Amongst other things, the manifesto calls for a proper debate about multiculturalism, an end to ‘communal politics’, and it criticises self-appointed ethnic ‘community leaders’ for hijacking certain issues (read the manifesto in full here). Perhaps inevitably, much of the debate it has provoked so far is focused on the comments about self-appointed leaders. However, these issues can only be fully understood in the context of official anti-racism measures that have been built up over the past two decades.
As NGN states, we have come a long way since the first Race Relations Act was created in 1976. Back then, racist attacks were more common and prejudice more evident in the immigration service, police, employment, housing and education. Thirty years on, racism is clearly in decline, thanks to the efforts of many progressive activists and the gradual cultural integration of ethnic groups in society.
Yet in many ways, our society is much more anxious about race than before. Early findings from the 2005 Home Office Citizenship survey show that nearly half of all people (48 per cent) questioned believed that racism had got worse in the past five years. This was a rise from 43 per cent in 2001. White people were more likely to say this than ethnic minorities, suggesting that perception does not reflect the reality experienced by most people.
Why has this strange paradox emerged? While people from ethnic minority backgrounds are today less likely to confront old-fashioned racism, they are much more likely to confront multicultural policies and practises that racialise them. The principle of equality – that all people should be treated the same regardless of their skin colour or ethnic background – has now been replaced with the principle of diversity, where all cultural identities must be given public recognition. While this sounds nice and inclusive in principle, the overall effect is that people are being treated differently, which fuels a sense of exclusion.
The ‘race relations industry’ has expanded massively on the back of government policies, legislation and funding. Most public services – housing, healthcare, arts and cultural provision, voluntary support, public broadcasting, and policing – have strategies to accommodate the supposedly different needs of ethnic users. Many organisations now have targets to ensure they are employing enough ethnic minorities.
The effect of such measures, however, is not to get rid of racial categories, but to reinforce their grip on our consciousness. For example, there has been much debate about the lack of ethnic minorities in the media and arts sectors. The reasons are complex, and can be explained by different aspirations, socioeconomic factors and cultural expectations (many of which also affect the white working class).
But the dominance of racial thinking leads to the simplistic explanation that the ‘white male establishment’ is full of bigots. This leads to positive discrimination schemes that put ethnicity before talent, and results in the hired hand being sent to work in this or that department as the unofficial spokesperson for their ‘community’. No wonder these individuals then think there is racism in the sector where they work, when they are so obviously treated as ‘the token ethnic’. Diversity policies often appear as the flipside of old racial thinking, making us see people’s ethnicity first and their (often diverse) talents and interests second.
The most pernicious effect of this new racial thinking is how it fosters tribalism between ethnic and religious groups. They end up competing for resources on the basis that they are more excluded and vulnerable than others. Some Muslim lobby groups have argued that Christian groups already have public funding for their schools and services, so they should, too. In response, there are now Hindu and Sikh organisations demanding their own concessions lest they feel left out. The demand to wear the headscarf one day spurs the demand to wear the crucifix the next. There is a perverse incentive to assert one’s victimisation by others, rather than build alliances. In this climate, no wonder everyone thinks that racism and discrimination is rife.
To challenge the dominance of identity politics, we need to champion an alternative universalist approach. This wouldn’t mean bland similarity, with everybody talking and looking the same. Instead, it would help us challenge the imposition of formal, ethnic categories and allow us to develop richer differences based on character and interests.
A major step towards the universalist approach would be to dismantle the countless diversity policies that encourage people to see everything through the prism of racial difference. We should get rid of ‘tick box’ measures that do nothing to address underlying inequality in areas like employment. And we should interrogate the claims of victimisation made by some organisations to get their slice of pie. If the NGN will help to expose some of the damage being done in the name of diversity, I welcome it.
Long Beach, Calif.: Hate crime charges filed against black youths: "Eight black youths have been charged with hate crimes and felony assault in the brutal beating of three white women on Halloween night. The youths _ seven girls and one boy _ pleaded not guilty Wednesday. If convicted, they face punishments ranging from probation to confinement in a youth facility. The attack happened at a Halloween block party in the posh Bixby Knolls area of Long Beach known for elaborate Halloween decorations and fancy candy. Police said the black youths hurled racial insults at the women -- two 19-year-olds and a 21-year-old -- and punched and kicked them. One was hit with a skateboard and both suffered broken bones and other injuries. They said the attackers shouted, "I hate whites" and other profanities during the assault. The local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People expressed dismay over the incident and said the organization would monitor the case to ensure a fair trial."
27 November, 2006
Liberty belle becomes a pin-up for extremism
Shami Chakrabarti is to Britains intelligentsia what Posh Spice was to teenage girls. Well, if success and celebrity are synonymous. Always available to perform on the Today programme or in the columns of serious newspapers, the director of Liberty has made herself the closest thing this country possesses to an intellectual pin-up girl. But in making her instant opinions so universally available she has done little for the cause she claims to promote.
The core challenge to democracy since September 11, 2001, has been to achieve proportionality between the competing priorities of individual liberty and public protection. Ms Chakrabarti has come down relentlessly on the quasi-anarchist side of the debate. Her defence of individual rights against collective needs takes the demos out of democracy and leaves her organisation marooned on the extra-parliamentary left of politics.
In her enthusiasm to see the good in every terrorist suspect and a heart of unalloyed evil in each successive Home Secretary, the lady from Liberty has revealed extraordinary naivety about Labours favourite tactic. Acquired from Bill Clinton, the trick known as triangulation seeks to popularise government policy by contrasting it with the views of unpopular minorities. Ms Chakrabarti never rejects the invitation to play the extremist.
Almost single-handedly she has shifted the civil liberties lobby so far beyond the parameters of mainstream opinion that ministers pray she will oppose them. Their logic is simple: if Liberty objects, Middle Britain will automatically conclude that a policy is pure common sense.
Ms Chakrabarti easily achieved her ambition to reassert Libertys prominence after its name change from the National Council for Civil Liberties. But since then, through reams of anti-terror law and attempts to control asylum and antisocial behaviour, she has forgotten what the civil in that historic title meant. Libertys guiding principle should be John Stuart Mills advice that The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people. By championing the errant individual to the detriment of the majority she ignores it completely.
Few mistakes better illustrate this debilitating flaw than Libertys backing for Graeme Chessum, the Nottinghamshire man banned from his local pubs for behaving aggressively towards staff at one of them. The Pubwatch scheme under which he is excluded is a fine example of community action against antisocial conduct. As such it achieves the utilitarian ideal of the greatest good of the greatest number. By threatening to challenge it under human rights legislation Liberty extends beyond absurdity its directors faith that high profile is preferable to high principle.Source
Working mothers need the free market, too
By John Stossel
Last week, my "20/20" co-anchor, Elizabeth Vargas, returned from maternity leave. Her first story was on the "mommy wars." "Why," Elizabeth asked, "has so little been done on issues like paid maternity leave; safe, affordable child care; and flexible work schedules?"
I understand her pain. Elizabeth has a lot of responsibility: a full-time job, plus two young kids at home. I would find it overwhelming. But does that mean the government should impose leave, day care, and flex-time policies on employers or make taxpayers bear the cost for the choices women make?
No! All these well-intended laws have unintended consequences, and the consequences are usually worse than the problem they were meant to solve. When governments require companies to provide paid maternity leave and other benefits, many firms avoid hiring women. How is that good for women?
But Elizabeth got support from Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who said government has to take charge. "Listen, we did that on child labor laws," he said. "If we'd left it up to business alone to decide that, I suspect there would have been many who would still be employing infants." Even if Dodd were right that it took government to end child labor - there's evidence to suggest he's not - is he saying women need to be protected like children? That hardly sounds enlightened. Dodd says businesses wouldn't suffer under his mandate because "in every study that's been done on areas of productivity, profitability and growth, 90 percent of the employers [who provide such amenities] have reported either no negative impact or actually a positive benefit."
Gee, if that's true, why do we need a government mandate? If offering paid leave and day care is good for companies, they will offer those benefits. Some do already. But other companies think the burden of such promises would bankrupt them. I wouldn't dismiss that concern so quickly. People who risk their own capital make better decisions than a politician who imposes policies on others with little risk to himself.
Elizabeth pointed out that most countries have "family friendly" laws paid for by the taxpayers. But women in those countries pay a price. In Europe, the unemployment rate for women is over 10 percent - double the rate in the United States. From 1970 to 2003, employment in the United States increased 75 percent, by 58.9 million jobs. Yet in France, Germany and Italy, where many job benefits are mandated, employment grew only 26 percent, by 17.6 million jobs. And many of those new jobs were in government!
If a woman wants a career and a family, that's great. But why must government force other people to help her out? Forcing companies to behave in a certain way just limits the marketplace of possibilities.
Leaving workplace choices to women and employers creates better opportunities for both. The forthcoming book by Michelle Bernard of the Independent Women's Forum, "Women's Progress: How Women Are Wealthier, Healthier and More Independent Than Ever Before" points out that American women have never enjoyed more options or such a high quality of life. From 1997 to 2002, the number of female-owned businesses climbed 20 percent to 6.5 million firms.
That happened because in America, despite numerous attempts by bureaucrats to kill it, the entrepreneurial spirit lives. Let's not suffocate it with government rules that will only reduce women's choices.
It's wrong for politicians to treat women like damsels in need of rescue from the whims of employers. Women need what all of us need: the freedom to make decisions for themselves in a competitive marketplace.
26 November, 2006
Britain: School helper who refused to remove her veil is sacked
A teaching assistant who refused to remove her Muslim veil in the classroom has been sacked. Aishah Azmis dismissal from a Church of England primary school in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, followed a lengthy period of suspension over her insistence on wearing the niqab in lessons led by a male teacher. She had already failed to persuade an employment tribunal that she was a victim of religious discrimination and harassment by Kirklees local education authority.
Mrs Azmi, 24, said that it was her Islamic duty to wear the black veil, which covered her face except for a narrow slit at the eyes, in the presence of adult males who were not her blood relatives.
Headfield Junior School argued that its pupils, many of whom are learning to speak English, found it difficult to understand what Mrs Azmi was saying when her mouth was hidden.
In a statement issued yesterday, the LEA said that the school governing bodys staff dismissals committee had recently held a hearing to discuss Mrs Azmis case.
As a result of the hearing, the committee decided to terminate the employment of the employee concerned, it said.
Shahid Malik, the Labour MP for Dewsbury, said that the Azmi case had not been about religion but about seeking the best possible education for children at the school.
More than 90 per cent of Headfields pupils are Muslim, many of them learning English as a second language.
Earlier this year, Ofsted criticised exceptionally low standards of achievement by pupils and said that many of the schools difficulties were caused by speech and communication problems.
Mr Malik said: Im obviously disappointed that a compromise could not be reached. While I defend her right to wear the veil in society, its very clear that her wearing the veil in the classroom inhibits her ability to support children.
When she was observed during lessons, the tribunal heard that, it was readily apparent that the children were seeking visual clues from her which they could not obtain because they could not see her facial expressions.
Mrs Azmi did not wear the veil when she was interviewed for the Headfield post, nor at her first training day, but problems arose soon after she started work on a one-year fixed contract last September. Although the schools other female Muslim teachers wore a headscarf, Mrs Azmi insisted on wearing the niqab.
Mrs Azmi taught at the school for only a few weeks before being told that she must be unveiled during lessons. Soon after she went on long-term sick leave due to stress. She was suspended on full pay in February and took her case against the school to an employment tribunal which sat for four days in July.
Kirklees LEA renewed Mrs Azmis one-year contract after it expired on August 31, even though she was under suspension at the time.
When the tribunal issued its findings last month, it rejected her claims of discrimination and harassment but awarded her £1,000 for injury to feelings caused by the way her case was handled.
Mrs Azmi, whose appearance before the tribunal was a test case brought under new religious discrimination regulations, vowed to continue her fight for the right to wear the niqab.
She attacked the Government for treating ethnic minorities as outcasts and said that she was fearful for the consequences for Muslim women in this country.
Mrs Azmis lawyer, Nick Whittingham, of the Kirklees Law Centre, said that he had not yet received a decision in writing following this weeks disciplinary hearing.Source
Multicultural Manners: Removing a full-face veil at work is simply politeness
Quite a long time ago, having briefly joined the herd of twentysomething backpackers who eternally roam Southeast Asia, I found myself in Bali. Like all the other twentysomethings, I carefully read the Lonely Planet backpacker's guide to Indonesia and learned, among other things, that it was considered improper for women to wear shorts or trousers when entering Balinese temples. I dutifully purchased a Balinese sarong and, looking awkward and foreign, wore it while visiting temples. I didn't want to cause offense.
I thought of that long-ago incident while in London last week, where a full-fledged shouting match has broken out over Islamic women who choose to wear the veil. This particular argument began when a Yorkshire teaching assistant refused to remove her full-face veil-a niqab, which covers the whole face except for the eyes-in the presence of male teachers, which was much of the time. She was fired, she went to court, and a clutch of senior British politicians entered the fray.
Jack Straw, former foreign secretary, called the full-face veil a "visible statement of separation and of difference." Prime Minister Tony Blair added that he could "see the reasons" for the teaching assistant to be suspended from her job. What followed was predictable: accusations of racism, charges of discrimination, and disagreement about whether the veil was even a valid topic of discussion. If Blair and Straw are really concerned about the fate of Islamic women, shouldn't they be more interested in underage marriages, or wife beating, or something more important?
The short answer is yes, probably the politicians should be interested in something more important. But the curious fact is that the veil won't go away as a political issue. The French have banned not only the full veil but also head scarves in schools. Some German regions have banned the head scarf for civil servants, and they are not permitted in Turkish universities at all. Slowly, the issue is coming to the United States: Just this month, a Michigan judge dismissed a small-claims court case filed by a Muslim woman because she refused to remove her full-face veil. Critics call the veil a symbol of female oppression or of a rejection of Western values. Defenders say the veil is a symbol of religious faith and that it allows women to be "free" in a different sense-free from cosmetics, from fashion, and from unwanted male attention. Debate about the veil inevitably leads to discussions of female emancipation, of religious freedom, and of the assimilation, or lack thereof, of Muslim communities in the West.
And yet, at a much simpler level, surely it is also true that the full-face veil-the niqab, burqa, or chador-causes such deep reactions in the West not so much because of its political or religious symbolism, but because it is extremely impolite. Just as it is considered rude to enter a Balinese temple wearing shorts, so, too, is it considered rude, in a Western country, to hide one's face. We wear masks when we want to frighten, when we are in mourning, or when we want to conceal our identities. To a Western child-or even an adult-a woman clad from head to toe in black looks like a ghost. Thieves and actors hide their faces in the West; honest people look you straight in the eye.
Given that polite behavior is required of schoolteachers or civil servants in other facets of their jobs, it doesn't seem to me in the least offensive to ask them to show their faces when dealing with children or the public. If Western tourists can wear sarongs in Balinese temples to show respect for the locals, so, too, can religious Islamic women show respect for the children they teach and for the customers they serve by leaving their head scarves on but removing their full-face veils.
It would, of course, be outrageous if Tony Blair or the French government were to ban veils altogether-just as it is, of course, outrageous that Saudi Arabia bans churches and even forbids priests from entering the country. But just because Christians and Jews are persecuted in some parts of the Muslim world doesn't mean we need to emulate them. In their private lives, Muslim women living in the West should be free to cover or uncover their faces, using veils or head scarves, as they wish.
Still, freedom to practice religion in the West shouldn't imply freedom to hold jobs that impinge on that practice. An Orthodox Jew should not have an absolute right to work in a restaurant that is open only on Saturdays. A Quaker cannot join the Army and then state that his religion prohibits him from fighting. By the same token, a Muslim woman who wants to cover her face has no absolute right to work in a school or an office where face-to-face conversations are part of the job. It isn't religious discrimination or anti-Muslim bias to tell her that she must be polite to the natives, respect the local customs, try to speak some of the local patois-and uncover her face.
Why We Hate Identity Politics
Our item Wednesday about an incident in which airline passengers were alarmed by a group of imams praying in Arabic brought this interesting comment from reader Dennis Gibb:
"Recently, my wife and I were on a trip to Europe and we changed planes at Kennedy Airport. When we reported for our overseas flight, we found that we were accompanied by a large number of ultra-Orthodox Jews, who are a familiar sight in New York with their beards, long sideburns, black clothing and hats. As we sat waiting for the flight, the rabbi with the Jewish men announced that they were all going to perform their normal sundown prayer early because they did not want to frighten anyone on the plane with what might, to the uninformed, have sounded like an Arabic prayer.
It is so PC that these supposed Islamic scholars have so little sensitivity to what is happening in the world that they would insist on imposing actual Arabic prayers on an airplane filled with people uniformed as to the reason or the nature of the activity?
This is an excellent point. Look at the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Web site, and you'll be hard-pressed to find any indication that CAIR cares about the feelings of Americans who, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, have perfectly understandable apprehensions about being on a plane with Arab men chanting "Allah, Allah." We're not arguing that the passengers were in the right, only that if they overreacted, their overreaction was understandable in light of recent history. By demanding sensitivity while refusing to offer any in return, CAIR is behaving boorishly, abusing the good nature of the American character.
Practitioners of identity politics not only act like jackasses while insisting that they are entitled to sensitivity. They also claim to advocate "diversity" while demanding that others march in ideological lockstep. The Pioneer Press of St. Paul, Minn., reports on one example:
It started out as a who's who of Twin Cities law firms joining forces to lure minority attorneys to Minnesota. But the Twin Cities Diversity in Practice group set off a tempest when it excluded a firm that handled a pair of landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases challenging affirmative action. The group's leaders said letting the Minneapolis law firm of Maslon, Edelman, Borman & Brand join the effort would hamper its mission: to make the bar more racially diverse. . . .
Maslon's managing attorney said she and others in her firm were mystified by the group's decision to deny them membership. "We agree with their mission, absolutely agree with their mission," said Terri Krivosha, chairwoman of the Maslon firm's governance committee. . . .
The controversy centers on Maslon attorney Kirk Kolbo, who represented three University of Michigan applicants--two for an undergraduate program and one for the law school--who sued as part of a class action because of the school's raced-based admissions policies.
If Maslon itself had colorblind hiring policies, the exclusion would make sense, but Krivosha tells the paper that her firm is committed to "diversity": "We are moving on to work for an inclusive legal community and an inclusive law firm. Diversity is a bedrock of our firm." But the Twin Cities DIP group insists the firm be ideologically pure in its choice of clients
25 November, 2006
BRITISH AIRWAYS IN TROUBLE
Its stupid policy of allowing non-Christian religious attire only was asking for trouble
Ms Eweida, a former member of BA's check-in staff who has lost her appeal to wear a tiny cross outside her uniform, has become a Christian cause celebre. She has the support of nearly 100 MPs. More worryingly for BA, churches are railing against the airline. There is talk of a Christian boycott of the airline worldwide. Only for the worldly is it still the world's favourite airline.
British Airways is at fault. For it is mishandling for a religious issue, betraying both its multicultural principles and a huge potential market. For, Ms Eweida not only has a strong argument of freedom of religious expression on her side, but also hundreds of millions of potential passengers. The 2001 census showed that 71.1 per cent of Britons identify themselves as Christians. According to Aquarius, a marketing consultancy focused on religious affairs, there are 2.1 billion people who call themselves Christian, by comparison with 1.1 billion who describe themselves as secular, non-religious, agnostic or atheist. The devout represent a powerful market: The Passion of the Christ has grossed $613 million at box offices worldwide.
British Airways has previously struggled with icons. When it came to removing the flag from the tailfin, it underestimated patriotism. Now, it has misunderstood the nature of modern faith. There are a growing number of Christians who feel threatened by secularism. Spiritually, the world is more polarised and politicised. Christians, particularly evangelicals, are adopting the activist habits of other religious communities.
By sticking to its guidelines on uniforms, BA is insensitively, perhaps unintentionally, appearing to use its professional code to make a secular case. People of faith expect not just tolerance, but respect. BA needs to show it.
UN Violence Report: Laced with Myths and Misandry
Kofi Annan will be stepping down from his secretary-general position in a few short weeks. Annan's resum, features such highlights as the 1994 Rwanda massacre, the Oil-for-Food mega-scandal, and his molly-coddling of aides accused of personal misconduct. But Kofi had one more trick up his sleeve. Last week he released his long-awaited report bearing the grandiloquent title, the Secretary-General's Study on Violence Against Women. Even by United Nations' standards, the report is an embarrassment.
The World Health Organization has documented that 14% of men die of violence-related causes, compared to only 7% of women. And dating violence researcher Murray Strauss has shown that women around the world are twice as likely to initiate severe violence as men. Sounds to me like men are the higher-risk group. But in the Alice-in-Wonderland world of the United Nations, the shrill message is, "Violence against women persists in every country of the world as a pervasive violation of human rights and a major impediment to achieving gender equality." Apparently men's higher death rate doesn't comport with the UN's gender equality agenda.
Throughout the document, truth-twisting and myth-mongering run amok. On page 31, for instance, the report claims that women around the world suffer from economic inequalities -- thus sidestepping the fact that the "feminization of poverty" myth was debunked long ago.
On page 42 we're told, "The majority of the victims of human trafficking are women and children." Wrong again. The recent United Nations report, Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns, noted, "it is men especially who might be expected to be trafficked for forced labor purposes." On page 44, Annan recounts the victimization that women in armed conflict endure, somehow ignoring the uncomfortable fact that men are three times more likely to die of war-related injuries than women.
Although the report claims to be opposed to violence against women, it repeatedly calls for violence directed against unborn baby girls, just so long as it goes under the rubric of "reproductive health services." Don't expect the Motley Matrons of Mischief to be logical. And so it goes.
But the UN report goes beyond hoary myths, half-truths, and bald-faced lies. It also seethes with anti-male misandry. For the conspiracy theorists who believe that brutish males are to blame for all the woes of world, the report will come as music to their ears. The shrieking begins on page 28 where we are warned, "Patriarchy has been entrenched in social and cultural norms, institutionalized in the law and political structures and embedded in local and global economies." That's a remarkable statement, considering that when men get voted into power, the first thing they do is to pass laws that benefit the ladies. Ever heard of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid? All three are massive social welfare programs that were enacted by men -- primarily to benefit poor and elderly women. Start telling that patriarchal oppressor stuff to the men who risk life and limb toiling at dead-end jobs so their families can lead more comfortable lives. And can someone explain to me why those haughty patriarchs end up dying five years sooner than their wives?
Once you start to believe in the grand patriarchal plot, the mind clouds over and facts become irrelevant. It becomes a convenient boogeyman to infuriate women and bludgeon the consciences of fair-minded men.
Three years ago I documented how the rad-fems were operating behind the scenes, ever extending their baleful tentacles throughout the UN system. Even though those women never hesitated to spread their Ms.-Information, they were careful to conceal their real intentions. But the Study on Violence Against Women opens up the debate. Never before have the UN feminists advanced the patriarchy theory so boldly. Never before have they presented their Marxist-inspired views in such a high-profile UN publication. And never before have they tried to stereotype and smear men in such a calculated manner. History teaches that when a segment of society is viewed as dangerous, the next step is to strip away their civil rights and expel them from their communities. Have we forgotten the lessons of religious minorities in central Europe in the 1940s?
But the feminist attack is even more hideous, because it seeks to undermine the family, the heart of an orderly and moral society. Call it the newest front in the escalating Culture War. It's directed at men, women, and children. And it aims to destroy the traditional family. So on December 31 Kofi Annan, former tourism director from Ghana, will move on, secure in the knowledge that he indeed left his mark on the world, for better or for worse.
OK to mock Catholics?
The same tribunal previously held that it was illegal to mock Islam
Is telling Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott to keep his rosaries off a women's ovaries freedom of speech or religious vilification? A member of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal will judge when he either allows or strikes out a claim by Right-to-Lifer Babette Francis, who wants controversial T-shirts sporting the slogan banned. Mrs Francis claims T-shirts bearing the words "Mr Abbott, keep your rosaries off my ovaries" vilify Catholics and incite violence.
The YWCA, which makes the T-shirts, fought yesterday to have her legal action struck out, arguing it fails to meet the strict parameters of the Racial and Religious Vilification Act. Barrister for the YWCA, Melanie Young, said the words were a metaphorical expression used during robust debate and did not incite hatred, severe ridicule or serious contempt. The T-shirts sparked widespread outrage when one was worn into Parliament by Greens senator Kerry Nettle during heated debate over who should control the abortion drug RU486.
Representing herself in her VCAT claim, Mrs Francis said yesterday the words offended her, vilified Catholics and stirred anti-Catholic bigotry. "For a Christian organisation like the YWCA to stir up that type of bigotry is outrageous," she told the hearing yesterday. Mrs Francis argued that some people would interpret the slogan literally, believing Catholics would literally place their hands on a woman's ovaries. She said some people who didn't accept Catholicism might find certain church practices, such as the sprinkling of holy water, as "weird". Mrs Francis wants the YWCA to stop making the T-shirts and make a $10 donation to Helpers of God's Precious Infants.
But Ms Young said some people would find the slogan witty, others would say it was an astute metaphor and some would say it was offensive. VCAT senior member Rohan Walker will hand down his decision on whether or not to strike out Mrs Francis's claim at a later date.
Sydney Christmas celebrations restored
Worries about "offending" Muslims seem to have been dumped
Asian tourists recognised the bearded man in the suit as the wheeled sleigh made its way down Sydney's George Street. "Santa" and "Merry Christmas" they called as they took photographs of the carriage drawn by two police on horses with antlers on. The sleigh had pulled out of Sydney Town Hall five minutes ahead of its scheduled 8pm departure, because Nita Lyon's 21-month-old daughter was screaming at the sight of the red-suited gent.
Ms Lyons, her daughter and son Kaylan sat facing the jolly bearded man who had one arm locked in a jovial embrace around Clover Moore, wearing a red silk top and black slacks. No one seemed to recognise her as Sydney's Lord Mayor. They thought Ms Moore, who has participated in many a Gay Mardi Gras and was the inspiration one year of a float, was most likely Mrs Claus.
But last night was her night of redemption in the hearts of more than 8000 of the city's children and their parents who turned out in Martin Place to see the lights of a 20 metre Christmas Tree brighten the city tower scape.
Last night Lord Mayor Moore, who two years ago was branded the "Grinch" for cutting back dramatically on the council's festive season bunting displays, showed there is no bah hum bug in her. Sydney City Council is spending $500,000 this year on public displays and decorations.
As the "sleigh" turned into Martin Place Ms Moore, Santa, and Ms Lyons and her children, from the Redfern community centre, were greeted by a happy ovation of "Santa, Santa, Santa" from thousands of beaming children's faces, many held aloft in their parents' arms.
Among the most chuffed was five year old Zachary Lewis of Parklea who won a Sun Herald coloring competition to help Ms Moore turn on the 19,000 lights of Sydney's Martin Place Christmas tree to the cheers of the crowd as sky rockets burst overhead. He just beamed with happiness and was lost for words as he clutched a special unopened present given to him by Ms Moore. "He's absolutely smitten with excitement, he got to meet Santa," his father Gordon, an IT specialist said.
24 November, 2006
Boston University group offers white scholarship
Looking to draw attention to what they call the "worst form of bigotry confronting America today," Boston University's College Republicans are circulating an application for a "Caucasian Achievement and Recognition Scholarship" that requires applicants be at least 25 percent Caucasian. "Did we do this to give a scholarship to white kids? Of course not," the scholarship reads. "Did we do it to trigger a discussion on what we believe to be the morally wrong practice of basing decisions in our schools and our jobs on racial preferences rather than merit? Absolutely." The scholarship, which is privately funded by the BUCR without the support of the university, is meant to raise awareness, group members say. BUCR member argue that racial preferences are a form of "bigotry." The group has a similar view on affirmative action.
The application for the $250 scholarship, due Nov. 30, requires applicants be full-time BU undergraduate students and one-fourth Caucasian and maintain at least a 3.2 cumulative GPA. Applicants must submit two essays, one describing the applicant's ancestry and one describing "what it means to you to be a Caucasian-American today."
BUCR President Joe Mroszczyk said he spoke to Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore before publicly releasing the scholarship to make sure it would be legal. Mroszczyk said BUCR members also talked to others beforehand, some of whom were initially "agitated or upset" but understood the point after members explained themselves, he said. "If you give out a white scholarship, it's racist, and if you give out a Hispanic scholarship, it is OK," the College of Arts and Sciences senior said. "It is the main point. We are not doing this scholarship as a white-supremacy scholarship."
La Fuerza Co-Chair Sara-Marie Pons, who is also on the Admissions Student Diversity Board, said although she agrees with BUCR's claim that racial preference is "contradictory to our American ideals of freedom and equality," she feels American history justifies today's affirmative action." Our country oppressed people of color for centuries while everyone else who was 'preferred' continued to succeed and lead our country in all aspects," the School of Management senior said in an email. "The goal of a university in striving to admit more students of color is a positive movement to increase the diversity of its institution."
Pons said the university's diversity creates a "better learning environment" and "dynamic discussion." She said she believes minority-specific scholarships serve an important function. "While I can see the controversy over scholarships toward specific ethnic groups, we need to keep in mind its intention," she said. "The [group-specific] scholarship is there to increase the interest of students in that group to continue their education and reach the equality that we all strive for."
After the recipient is chosen, BUCR plans to host an event to honor the winner and speak about the award, as well as hold a forum discussion about racial preference, Mroszczyk said. Mroszczyk said the BUCR borrowed the scholarship idea from the College Republicans at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I., which sponsored a similar award in 2003. Former RWU College Republicans President Jason Mattera said the "whites-only" scholarship was meant to be a parody, but it brought harsh media attention to their campus.
Mattera, now the Young American's Foundation National Spokesman, a group supporting the conservative movement, said the idea was spurred when RWU administrators "compiled a list of scholarships for people of color only." Although Mattera, a Puerto Rican, would have been eligible for some of these scholarships, he said he still wanted to "expose the inequities."
RWU College Republicans adviser June Speakman said the organization started receiving complaints as soon as it released the scholarship. Despite protests, 15 students applied for the scholarship. "It was a way to make their protests highly visible, provocative," she said. "They stuck to their guns. They were steadfast."
Speakman said the scholarship was discontinued after its first year when the national and state Republican parties severed ties with RWU College Republicans. Mattera said people were aware the scholarship had "nothing to do with racism," but the Republican National Committee still did not want to be affiliated with the scholarship. "The RNC under [former chair] Ed Gillespie disagreed with me," Mattera said. "For Ed Gillespie to be dismissive or to imply that there was racism, he lacked any type of -- to put it bluntly -- balls in standing up against racial preferences. It would have been a great opportunity."
Regarding BU's adaptation of this scholarship, Mattera said he is glad the BUCR is interested in continuing to promote awareness. "I guarantee that once this happens, be ready for hypocritical charges of racism, and be ready to be attacked," Mattera said, "but once they attack you, the hypocrisy is exposed."
Hatred of normal family life?
It's ironic that since a lot of US airlines - airlines everywhere, actually - treat you like cattle that they also might get a bit squeamish over the thought of a dairy. But last month a nursing mother was ejected from a plane about to take off in Vermont because she was trying to breastfeed her baby
The extraordinary tale has sparked a discrimination complaint from the mother, Emily Gillette, and a huge embarrassment for the airline, Delta. The brouhaha here has also sparked a form of protest being dubbed "lactivism". Over the past week there's been rolling breastfeeding sit-ins where dozens of nursing mothers position themselves in front of the Delta airline counters in protest and, like maternal gunslingers, unleash their bosoms and latch on their babies.
Ms Gillette, her husband Brad, and their then 22-month-old daughter, River, were removed from an October flight from Burlington to New York after a flight attendant asked Ms Gillette to cover up while she was breastfeeding the girl. Freedom Airlines was operating the flight on behalf of Delta Air Lines. Ms Gillette, 27, filed a complaint against both airlines with the Vermont Human Rights Commission alleging that the airline violated a state law that allows women to breastfeed "in any place of public accommodation".
Ms Gillette told USA Today she took a window seat in the second-last row and her husband took the aisle. She began nursing River, using one hand to hold her shirt closed. She told the newspaper: "I was not exposed." But the flight attendant approached, tried to hand her a blanket and asked her to cover herself, she recalls. "You're offending me," Ms Gillette quotes the woman as saying. "I'm not doing anything wrong and I will not cover up," Ms Gillette says she said in response. Ms Gillette says the flight attendant walked away and a few minutes later, a ticket agent boarded and said the flight attendant had ordered them removed. The airline arranged for a hotel for the family for the night and a flight with a different airline the next morning.
"No woman should ever be ashamed of breastfeeding," Ms Gillette says. She wants "both airlines to create policies that protect a woman from being harassed for feeding her child on an airplane". Freedom Airlines spokesman Paul Skellon says breastfeeding on a plane is OK if it's done in a "discreet way".
Forty-three states in the US have instituted rights for women breastfeeding. This reporter's wife was told last year to cease breastfeeding in a public hall of a federal office, despite laws saying it is legal to do so. Congress passed a right to breastfeed in 1999, which governs all federal buildings and parks.
In Defense of Spiderman
By Glenn Sacks
The mayor of London compares him to Osama bin Laden. He's been dubbed a "menace" holding a city for "ransom," as well as a lunatic and an extremist. What has 36 year-old David Chick done to arouse such anger? He loves his little daughter, from whom he's been forcibly separated, and he had the courage to do something about it.
The now world famous Englishman recently ended his traffic stopping, six day, one man protest atop a 150 foot high crane near the Tower Bridge in London. Dressed as Spiderman because he is his two year-old daughter's favorite comic book character, Chick says his daughter's mother has not allowed him to see his girl for eight months and has tried to alienate her from him. Interviewed by English newspapers, the ex-girlfriend admits blocking the standard yet paltry twice a month visitation which English courts have granted Chick. To date, she has declined to offer a reason publicly.
Chick is one of hundreds of thousands of English fathers who have been cut off from their children after divorce or separation. Their voices have crystallized into a widely popular campaign by the activist group Fathers 4 Justice. This campaign seeks to reform the family law system to allow divorced and unwed fathers to play a meaningful role in their children's lives.
The English Lord Chancellor's Department admits that mothers win custody in about four-fifths of all cases in English and Welsh courts, and English courts are notorious for their failure to enforce fathers' visitation rights. According to Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips, "some senior judges recently acknowledged that with so many contact [visitation] orders being flouted by mothers, the law is being brought into disrepute."
When one judge recently did transfer care of a child from the child's alienating mother to the father, it was such an event that it merited inclusion in Phillips' column. In reality, these types of transfers should be more common, and would no doubt have a salutary effect on the behavior of parents who try to prevent their children from seeing their exes.
Chick's plight will sound familiar to many American fathers. According to the Children's Rights Council, a Washington-based advocacy group, more than five million American children each year have their access to their noncustodial parents interfered with or blocked by custodial parents. And while politicians and the media hammer away at absent fathers on both sides of the Atlantic, they too often fail to examine the critical role that family courts and vengeful exes play in creating the problem.
To the minimal extent that defenders of the current system have been forced to justify mothers' actions, they claim--as the mayor of London now does--that these men often should not have access to their children.
This is no doubt true on occasion, but is inaccurate in most cases of access and visitation denial. Those opposing fathers' rights claim they are defending women and children from abusive fathers. However, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the vast majority of child abuse, parental murder of children, child neglect, and child endangerment are committed by mothers, not fathers. In addition, decades of research, including that carried out by the National Institute of Mental Health, show that women are just as likely to be violent towards their spouses as men are.
According to Carol Plummer, Chick's sister, "David would never harm his daughter or Jo [the ex-girlfriend]. He doesn't want custody of his daughter, he just wants to see her. But Jo is making him suffer by depriving him of seeing his daughter, who is his life."
Though one can sense a smear campaign against Chick on the horizon, two weeks of digging for dirt on him have turned up little. He was convicted of cannabis possession three years ago and of public indecency (for consensual sexual activity) while a teenager. According to Chick's brother Steven Reed, in the cannabis conviction David took the rap for his ex-girlfriend.
Chick says: "[My daughter] is the most precious thing in my world. I was there for the scans when she was still in the womb, I was there for her birth. I fed her, bathed her, got up in the night with her, cuddled her when she cried. "Now I'm just another statistic--another dad who has no part in his daughter's life. For me, it is a living bereavement."
Today fathers in England, America and most of the Western world stand upon a foundation of sand, knowing that our loved ones can be ripped away from us and there is often little we can do about it. We invest our lives in the children we love and tell them that we will always be there for them. But in the back of our minds we can't help but think of a question which Spiderman no doubt considered before he began his ascent up that crane hanging over Tower Bridge: will we be allowed to?
Australia: Hatred of Christian political party
A hate campaign has emerged in the eastern suburbs as vandals link the Family First party to the American white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan. Mitcham candidate Miriam Rawson was this week shocked to find KKK had been scrawled on her Blackburn North billboard and a white hood painted over her face. It was the third time the billboard had been vandalised, and four other signs have been stolen.
But Ms Rawson, 28, a teacher and first-time candidate, believes it was not a personal attack but a vicious campaign against the party's values. "Everybody knows that we need to rebuild our schools, but when you start to touch on issues such as looking to reduce the number of abortions in Victoria . . . that starts to push a few buttons," she said. "Obviously there's something that's made them react to what Family First is about so violently they've felt they've had to express themselves that way."
Ms Rawson, who has filed a complaint with Nunawading police, challenged the "cowards" to come forward. "I'd be quite happy to face them in an open debate in public," she said. "Let them have their say and I can respond in a mature, non-criminal way. "When I first saw it I thought, 'Why are you doing this to me?' "But something inside me went, 'I'm going to campaign even harder,' and I have been. It's been almost like a blessing in disguise."
23 November, 2006
The Sloppy Thinking of Affirmative Action Defenders
Comment from Sweden by Stefan Karlsson
I have previously on this blog adressed the injustice of affirmative action- and the negative effects of it in three countries that has it: America, South Africa and Malaysia.
Recently, affirmative action lost big in Michigan. Despite being badly outspent and opposed by both the Democratic and Republican establishment, by big media, by big business (including the big 3 car makers in Detroit who despite their financial troubles thought they could afford to sponsor the no-camp), by the unions and by the clergy, the proposition to ban affirmative action in Michigan won an overwhelming victory, 58 to 42.
I have now stumbled upon a piece by left-liberal columnist Gene Sperling, who attacked the proposition in Michigan and defended affirmative action. It is a quite instructive example of the faulty thinking underlying affirmative action. He for example claims that a measure designed to ensure that people are treated according to their qualifications will reduce the number of skilled people. Rather odd claim since it is always the most qualified who has the best chance of learning the skills taught at universities. So how does he motivate it? Well, like this:
"First, the MCRI would impede our capacity to deal with projected skills gaps in our workforce. A bipartisan Aspen Institute report, led by David Ellwood, dean of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, found that the U.S. pool of workers aged 25-64, which grew 44 percent over the last 20 years, won't expand in the next 20. Meanwhile, blacks, Hispanics and women -- groups underrepresented in the areas of science and engineering -- will make up a bigger proportion of our workforce.
To increase the pool of skilled workers in areas critical to our economy, we need an all-out national effort to boost the percentages of women and minorities who want degrees in science, engineering and math."
As for the first part about the projected stagnation in the labor force, I don't see how that is really relevant for the admission criterias. As long as the number of admitted students is the same it doesn't matter what admission criterias you have for that fixed number of seats.
Or actually, since surely the number of graduates rather than the number of freshmen students is what matters, criterias based on qualifications will best help meet any skill shortage since qualified students are much more likely to be able to graduate.
The experience from California after they abolished affirmative action is that while admission of blacks and hispanics dropped sharply at elite universities, the graduation rate of those that remained rose sharply. And more importantly, overall black and hispanic university admissions did not fall as they instead attended less demanding universities. And with the course being less demanding, the total number of black and hispanic graduates increased significantly after affirmative action was abolished.
Meanwhile, the number of white and Asian graduates also rose. The experience from California shows conclusively that affirmative action at universities reduces, not increases the number graduates of all races including blacks and hispanics.
As for the second part about how blacks, hispanics and women will be a higher proportion of the workforce in the future, that will indeed imply a less skilled workforce provided the average skills of the specific race and gender groups are raised.
But if we are to remedy that, what's needed is improved educational performance of blacks and hispanics in elementary school and high school. Trying to pretend the performance gap from lower levels of education doesn't exist when deciding admission criterias will not do any good-as affirmative action will again only mean fewer graduates.
Moreover, what in case will be needed is more skilled students-whether they're black, hispanic, white, Asian or whatever. Further increasing the number of white or Asian graduates will be just as good for the economy as increasing the number of black and hispanic students even if the black/hispanic share of the workforce increases (There are certainly room for that as there are many whites/Asians who aren't college graduates). Sperling has another line of argument , namely:
"Second, the MCRI ignores the business case for diversity, made by Fortune 500 companies in an amicus brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court case Grutter v. Bollinger that unsuccessfully challenged the University of Michigan Law School's policy of considering race as one factor in admissions.
As the Fortune 500 brief says, ``today's global marketplace and the increasing diversity in the American population demand cross-cultural experience and understanding.''
For our nation's businesses, competing in the global economy places a premium not only on diverse workforces, but on workers who can thrive in racially and ethnically diverse contexts. This point is critical because it underscores the fact that a diverse student body benefits both minority and white students by giving everyone the chance to form friendships with those from different geographic, ethnic and racial backgrounds."
First of all, to think that ideas are innate to certain races and that diversity of ideas require racial diversity is in fact a blatantly racist concept, as Michael Berliner and Gary Hull of the Ayn Rand Institute points out. And as this racist concept is false, there is no evidence that racial diversity will boost competitiveness. Japan, South Korea and China are ultra competitive, scaring the shit out of American business who in desperation go to Washington D.C. for assistance in the form of protective tariffs. And yet Japan and South Korea is two of the world's most homogenus societies, and so are for all practical purposes China too (Most of China's non-Chinese minorities are in poor, marginalized provinces like Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia)
He then carries on by saying: "Supporters of the MCRI, such as its author Ward Connerly, chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute, believe that we should see the slightest consideration of racial diversity as the moral and legal equivalent of our most pernicious past practices of discrimination. Yet, our shameful history of excluding, segregating and imposing second-class citizenship on minorities shouldn't be used as a rationale to handcuff universities from taking steps to ensure a racially diverse student body."
And why not? On that, he says nothing. Racial discrimination is always irrational, regard of whether it is against blacks or against whites and Asians.
Homosexuality and Income Inequality
By Don Boudreaux
In this popular YouTube video, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (aka: Borat) is in his gay fashonista character Bruno; Bruno is interviewing unsuspecting "gay converter" Pastor Quinn. When Bruno asks the Pastor why homosexuality is wrong -- "So why is being gay so out this season?" -- Pastor Quinn responds: "because there are people who find homosexuality to be repugnant to them."
Bad reason. Undoubtedly many people do find homosexuality to be "repugnant to them" -- but why should we care about these sentiments? It's a big world with lots of people. Inevitably, nearly every human activity, including many peaceful ones, will be repugnant to some people. Some activities more than others, of course, but so what? (Personally, it's very unpleasant for me to imagine my parents having sex -- "eewwww!" -- but I don't want to force them to sleep apart; I don't even want them to stop having sex.)
Civilized persons immediately understand that what consenting adults to with each other is no one else's business. The fact that some people find other people's peaceable activities to be repugnant, upsetting, immoral, unpleasant, odd, or whatever, is utterly irrelevant -- or should be utterly irrelevant. Person A's attitude about peaceable person B's actions is no justification for public policy aimed at saving person A from whatever disquiet he or she suffers as a result of person B's activities.
Now I have no idea what Pastor Quinn really does. If all he does is to offer his services to persons who come to him voluntarily, I have no real complaint (although I must say that I find it a tad bit repugnant).
Most self-described "liberals" and "progressives" would agree with all that I write above. So why do these "liberals" and "progressives" believe that income inequality is worthy of the state's attention? No doubt, they find income inequality repugnant. They don't like it and they want to do all that they can to rid society of it -- just as Pastor Quinn doesn't like homosexuality and wants to do all that he can to rid society of it.
One reason might be that some of these "liberals" and "progressives" believe that wealth is a fixed stock; the more that Bill Gates has the less that persons living in New Orleans's Ninth Ward have. Whether or not this is true is a factual question. But economics and history teach me that this fixed-stock-of-wealth view is robustly wrong. In a market-oriented society (which the U.S. still is), the pattern of income "distribution" that emerges is merely the consequence of uncountable numbers of peaceful, consensual capitalist acts (affected, it is true, by tax policy -- which takes more money from high-income earners than from low-income earners).
My sense is that most of the antagonism toward income inequality does not rest on the fixed-stock-of-wealth view. My sense is that most of this antagonism is surprisingly like the antagonism that Pastor Quinn and his flock have toward homosexuality: they find it repugnant and, therefore, conclude that their own sentiments are sufficient reason to try to solve the alleged problem. Bad reason.
If there's one thing far worse than the BNP, it is using a botched political prosecution of that far-right party as another stick to beat free speech and jury trials
Comment by Mick Hume
The state stages a transparent politically-motivated trial of weak opponents, in order to lay down the law on the limits of official tolerance. Unfortunately the authorities fail to persuade the jury, which finds the dissident politicians not guilty. In response to this embarrassing failure to get their way, government ministers declare that the law must be changed, in order to ensure that their enemies are found guilty of crimes against society next time.
To some, this might sound like the stuff of a police state in a ‘banana republic’, or perhaps of the sort of dystopian futuristic drama beloved of the BBC. But in fact it is what happened in the UK last week, when the leader of the British National Party was cleared of stirring up racial hatred by attacking Islam, and New Labour ministers had an authoritarian tantrum in response.
(However, it is funny you should mention the BBC, as the broadcasting corporation was heavily involved in this little piece of real-world political theatre – scarier than anything seen in its conspiracy dramas.)
The case was prompted by an undercover BBC documentary. The BBC secretly filmed a meeting of BNP supporters, during which Nick Griffin, the party leader, condemned Islam as ‘a wicked, vicious faith’. In the media-inspired furore that followed, Griffin and Mark Collett, BNP publicity director, were charged with incitement to racial hatred. Griffin repeated his views on Islam from the dock. After their first trial, the jury failed to reach a verdict. Last Friday a second jury found them both not guilty.
On hearing of this disgraceful display of independent thinking by the jurors of Yorkshire, New Labour and the rest of the anti-racist establishment immediately threw all of its toys out of the pram. No less a figure than chancellor Gordon Brown, prime minister in waiting and a man not noted for hot-blooded political speeches, immediately intimated to the BBC that this sort of thing would not be tolerated on his watch. ‘I think any preaching of religious or racial hatred will offend mainstream opinion in this country and I think we have got to do whatever we can to root it out from whatever quarter it comes. And if that means we have got to look at the laws again, then we will have to do so.’
Other New Labour ministers were quick to join the chorus, while one anti-racist campaign condemned the verdict as ‘a travesty of justice’ because ‘the BNP are guilty of inciting racial hatred’, as if the party should have been on trial for its views in general, rather than Griffin for anything specific he might have said or done. Insiders pointed out that the government’s attempt to introduce a tough law against incitement to religious hatred had been defeated earlier this year; surely the failure of this prosecution for incitement to racial hatred proved that law was needed now? And there were mutterings about the problem of trying such cases before unreliable juries – particularly when, as almost every report made clear, this was an ‘all-white’ jury.
Here on spiked we have no sympathy or time for racists. But this carry-on is far more worrying than anything the BNP might say. The political motives behind the prosecution were transparent. First the BBC played its self-appointed role as broadcasting wing of the Commission for Racial Equality, with a programme clearly scripted to ‘expose’ the fact that the BNP is not a friend of immigrants and Islam (shock horror!). Then the state stepped in and announced the decision to prosecute the BNP pair the day before the launch of last year’s General Election campaign – a campaign in which bashing the BNP became a ploy for all the major parties to demonstrate their decency. It now seems that even West Yorkshire police were concerned that this heavy-handed exercise would present the BNP with a ‘no-lose opportunity’, whatever the eventual outcome of the trial.
If there is one thing worse (and a lot worse) than the feeble far-right, it is the state using that little political faction as the pretext for another political clampdown on liberty and democracy. After all, it is not the BNP that is now planning to introduce new laws further to limit freedom of expression, laying down new rules about what we are allowed to say about religion, or floating ideas in high places about the ‘problem’ of jury trials. Griffin can only vent his illiberal prejudices at private meetings of his party activists. The government has the power to try to turn its illiberal prejudices into public custom and law.
Chancellor Brown’s statement that we cannot tolerate opinions which ‘offend mainstream opinion in this country’ sums up the outlook of the political class today. There is a powerful mood of conformism, of intolerant tolerance, an attitude of ‘You cannot say THAT!’ which seeks to restrict the terms of public debate. And in this climate, offending what is deemed to be ‘the mainstream’ often seems to be considered the worst offence of all. You can have all the ‘diversity’ you want, so long as it does not diverge too far from the centre. The mainstream is the only stream in town (see The age of intolerant tolerance, by Mick Hume).
As we have consistently argued on spiked, however, free speech is not divisible. Expression cannot be half-free. And the ‘freedom’ to say only what does not offend the mainstream is no freedom at all. Indeed, as champions of free speech from Mill to Orwell have long pointed out, it is only the fringe, ‘extreme’ or unconventional opinions that need protecting – mainstream opinion is quite capable of looking after itself.
If defending fully free speech is important as a general principle, it is also politically vital in the particular circumstances of today. The unresolved problems of division and tension in our society are not going to be addressed by burying them underground and forcing everybody to abide by an empty etiquette of tolerance. That is simply storing up more explosive trouble for the future. We need genuine tolerance that allows the expression of views with which you vehemently disagree, more clear opinions and sharp debate not less, a no-holds barred argument about the sort of society in which we want to live. That must involve the liberty to criticise Islam, Christianity or any other religion as wrong or even ‘wicked’ – the freedom for Griffin and the BNP to attack Islam, for Muslim radicals to denounce the Pope, or for Sir Elton John to call for a ban on all religion as homophobic. It also, of course, includes the freedom of religious types to tell the likes of me that we are going to hell.
The law on incitement is a dangerous instrument that needs to be handled with great care even when it applies to a real crime such as murder. When we are dealing with racial or religious hatred, however, incitement laws have no place. It is a peculiar situation where feeling hatred itself is, quite rightly, not a crime, but incitement to that non-crime can itself be deemed a criminal offence. The criminal law is here intruding into the realm of ideas and thought-policing, and it should be shown the door again. If a racist instructs somebody to go and attack a mosque, and hands him the petrol can, he should be held responsible. But if somebody were to hear the likes of Nick Griffin say Islam is wicked, and then takes it into his head to launch such an attack, the speaker cannot be held to account for the actions of another. However unpleasant words might be, we need to insist upon the distinction between speech and deed (see ‘Free speech’ is more than a slogan, by Dolan Cummings).
I recall a case from America a few years ago, where a racist firebrand who told a crowd of (largely armed) supporters that America would be better off without blacks and Jews was found not guilty of conspiracy to murder. As his defence lawyers argued, in a free society, so long as we are dealing with words rather than violent actions, people should be free to hate.
As I always have to insist at this point, we are not interested in upholding any human right to be racist. This is not primarily about Griffin and Co, it is about freedom for the rest of us – our liberty to listen to all of the arguments, stupid as well as sensible, and judge the truth for ourselves. That is the freedom the authorities now seem to fear most of all. The venom that they direct against the BNP reflects their fear that the simpleton white working classes are putty in the hands of such rabble-rousers. Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, backed Brown’s call for a change in the law after last week’s case, on the ground that ‘what is being said to young Muslim people of this country is that we as a country are anti-Islam and we have got to demonstrate without compromising freedom that we are not’. It sounded as if he was suggesting that the BNP speaks for Britons! Solution? Shut them up – without compromising freedom, of course.
Whatever else it might be the BNP does not represent Nazism on the march. Indeed, in some ways it embodies an eccentric version of the fashionable political attitudes of the age: Griffin has welcomed the rise of the politics of ethnic diversity, in which whites vote BNP while Muslims vote RESPECT, and both he and Collett emerged from court wearing blue ribbons for their cause.
The BNP is an empty receptacle for the disaffection of sections of the white working class who have never read its programme, but feel intensely alienated from the mainstream of the political class. And this cack-handed attempt to crack down on its views from on high will hardly alter that state of affairs. Indeed, the tragedy is that the BNP has now been able to claim the high ground as the champion of free speech. It will have turned many a stomach to see Griffin standing on the steps of the court boasting that ‘They can’t take our FREEDOM!’ But the government’s response – to threaten to change the law to do just that – is more sickening, and can only make matters far worse.
It is high time we had a campaign for free speech and genuine tolerance, in defence of jury trials and democracy, and against illiberalism in all its forms, whether it is directed at immigrants or white voters. No doubt that might ‘offend mainstream opinion’, and upset New Labour as well as the BNP. But it’s a free country – isn’t it?
22 November, 2006
Harrods bans soldiers on Poppy Day
Might the fact that Harrods is owned by a Muslim have something to do with it?
A serving Army officer was banned from entering Harrods on Remembrance Day in case his uniform upset other shoppers. Lieutenant Daniel Lenherr had just taken part in a parade honouring Britain's war dead when the London department store turned him away at the door. The security guard told him other customers might be intimidated by the uniform.
The 26-year-old soldier, who serves in the 1st regiment of the Royal Horse Artillery, had been at commemorations in Hyde Park Corner last weekend when he decided to visit the shop with his wife Michelle and their one-year-old son. Mrs Lenherr, who lives in Tidworth, Hampshire, said: "We were horrified when we were refused entry on a day when we honoured the men who sacrificed so much for our freedom. I find it sad this can happen."
The store has stood by their dress policy, saying: "There is a long-standing tradition at Harrods that would normally preclude customers who are wearing non-civilian attire from entering the store. "A lot of people assume that somebody in uniform is either there on official duty, which could cause them alarm, or they assume they're a member of staff and ask them where the lavatories are and so on."
But the shop came under fire for its ban. Shadow Defence Minister Mark Harper said: "It's an outrageous slap in the face to our Armed Forces who are serving our country around the world. On Remembrance Sunday it's even more of an insult. I cannot see any legitimate reason for a shop not to let in members of the Armed Forces in uniform."
And Thomas Carter MBE, a former Warrant Officer in the Royal Horse Artillery, said Mr Lenherr had been treated disgracefully. The 78-year-old said: "Harrods' policy is a load of rubbish. It treats members of the Armed Forces as sixth-rate citizens. It definitely makes it worse that it was on Remembrance Sunday, as that's the day everybody wears uniform." Rival department stores Selfridges and Harvey Nichols said they had no problem with service personnel entering their stores in uniform.
AN "INCORRECT" VIEW OF AIDS IN AFRICA
At just twenty-six, economist Emily Oster may have the highest controversies-generated-to-years-in-academia ratio of anyone in her field. That's because, as a Ph.D. student at Harvard, she chose to hop the fence and explore a topic already claimed by doctors, social scientists, and policy wonks: the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Her studies suggest some uncomfortable possibilities-not least that the so-called experts have gotten their approach to the crisis dead wrong. Now a Becker Fellow at the University of Chicago, Oster continues to blur academic boundaries with further work on AIDS and a volatile new interest: the reported wave of female infanticide in Asia.
When I began studying the HIV epidemic in Africa a few years ago, there were few other economists working on the topic and almost none on the specific issues that interested me. It's not that the questions I wanted to answer weren't being asked. They were. But they were being asked by anthropologists, sociologists, and public-health officials. That's an important distinction. These disciplines believe that cultural differences-differences in how entire groups of people think and act-account for broader social and regional trends. AIDS became a disaster in Africa, the thinking goes, because Africans didn't know how to deal with it.
Economists like me don't trust that argument. We assume everyone is fundamentally alike; we believe circumstances, not culture, drive people's decisions, including decisions about sex and disease. I've studied the epidemic from that perspective. I'm one of the few people who have done so. And I've learned that a lot of what we've been told about it is wrong. Below are three things the world needs to know about AIDS in Africa.
1. It's the wrong disease to attack.
Approximately 6 percent of adults in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with HIV; in the United States, the number is around 0.8 percent. Very often, this disparity is attributed to differences in sexual behavior-in the number of sexual partners, the types of sexual activities, and so on. But these differences cannot, in fact, be seen in the data on sexual behavior. So what actually accounts for the gulf in infection rates?
According to my research, the major difference lies in transmission rates of the virus. For a given unprotected sexual relationship with an HIV-infected person, Africans are between four and five times more likely than Americans to become infected with HIV themselves. This stark fact accounts for virtually all of the difference in population-wide HIV rates in the two regions.
There is more than one reason why HIV spreads more easily in Africa than America, but the most important one seems to be related to the prevalence of other sexually transmitted infections. Estimates suggest that around 11 percent of individuals in Africa have untreated bacterial sexually transmitted infections at any given time and close to half have the herpes virus. Because many of these infections cause open sores on the genitals, transmission of the HIV virus is much more efficient.
So what do we learn from this? First, the fact that Africa is so heavily affected by HIV has very little to do with differences in sexual behavior and very much to do with differences in circumstances. Second, and perhaps more important, there is potential for significant reductions in HIV transmission in Africa through the treatment of other sexually transmitted diseases. Such an approach would cost around $3.50 per year per life saved. Treating AIDS itself costs around $300 per year. There are reasons to provide AIDS treatment in Africa, but cost-effectiveness is not one of them.
2. It won't disappear until poverty does.
In the United States, the discovery of the HIV epidemic led to dramatic changes in sexual behavior. In Africa, it didn't. Yet in both places, encouraging safe sexual behavior has long been standard practice. Why haven't the lessons caught on in Africa? The key is to think about why we expect people to change their behavior in response to HIV-namely because, in a world with HIV, sex carries a larger risk of death than it does in a world without HIV. But how much people care about dying from AIDS ten years from now depends on how many years they expect to live today and how enjoyable they expect those future years to be.
My studies show that while there have been very limited changes in sexual behavior in Africa on average, Africans who are richer or who live in areas with higher life expectancies have changed their behavior more. And men in Africa have responded in almost exactly the same way to their relative "life forecasts" as gay men in the United States did in the 1980s. To put it bluntly, if income and life expectancy in Africa were the same as they are in the United States, we would see the same change in sexual behavior-and the AIDS epidemic would begin to slow.
3. There is less of it than we thought, but it's spreading as fast as ever.
According to the UN, the HIV rates in Botswana and Zimbabwe are around 30 percent, and it's more than 10 percent in many other countries. These estimates are relied on by policymakers, researchers, and the popular press. Yet many people who study the AIDS epidemic believe that the numbers are inflated. The reason is quite simple: bias in who is tested. The UN's estimates are not based on diagnoses of whole populations or even a random sample. They are based on tests of pregnant women at prenatal clinics. And in Africa, sexually active women of childbearing age have the highest rates of HIV infection.
To eliminate the bias, I took a new approach to estimating the HIV infection rate: I inferred it from mortality data. The idea is simple: In a world without HIV, we have some expectation of what the death rate will be. In a world with HIV, we observe the actual death rate to be higher. The difference between the two gives an estimate of the number of people who have died from AIDS, and we can use that figure to estimate the prevalence of HIV in the population.
My work suggests that the HIV rates reported by the UN are about three times too high. Which sounds like good news-but isn't. The overall number of HIV-positive people may be lower than we thought, but my study, which estimated changes in the infection rate over time, also drew a second, chilling conclusion: In Africa, HIV is spreading as quickly as ever.
DEMOCRACY AND SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
By Jeff Jacoby
Matt Foreman, the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, was celebrating Arizona's defeat of a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. "It is always wrong to put basic rights up for a popular vote," he said, "and it is nearly impossible for any minority to protect itself when that happens. But today in Arizona the impossible happened."
Constitutional democracy is incompatible with the rights of minorities? That would have come as news to champions of American liberty from John Adams to Martin Luther King. They would have been even more taken aback, to use no stronger term, by the suggestion that there is a "basic right" to homosexual marriage, something American law has never permitted.
Once, Americans who considered themselves progressive had faith in the collective wisdom of the citizenry and fought to extend the franchise to more people (e.g., women) and more decisions (e.g., the election of US senators). Their democratic confidence reflected a civic conviction as old as American independence itself -- that "governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." But don't talk to advocates of same-sex marriage about the consent of the governed. They appear to regard democracy as a snare to be avoided. Hence their preference for securing gay marriage by judicial command, as in Massachusetts and New Jersey. And hence their aversion to letting voters decide whether the definition of marriage should be changed.
"History is replete with examples of advances in civil rights that would not have been tolerated had they been put to a popular vote," wrote Kathleen O'Connor, president of the Women's Bar Association, about the petition by 170,000 Massachusetts voters for a constitutional amendment defining marriage. "If our Bill of Rights were today submitted for voter approval, it would be defeated as too radical."
Even more scornful of democracy was the Berkshire Eagle. "If civil rights were a matter for the ballot box," the largest newspaper in western Massachusetts editorialized on Nov. 8, "blacks would undoubtedly still be drinking from separate water coolers and riding in the back of buses." When the Massachusetts Legislature corruptly avoided voting on the petitioners' amendment, ducking the vote required by the state constitution, the paper cheered its lawlessness. "Civil rights should never be determined by a majority of voters," it declared. "Ballot questions are blunt instruments, lacking the delicacy of legislation."
It is hard to say which is sadder: the contempt for ordinary Americans that such comments reflect, or the ignorance of American history underlying them. To begin with, it wasn't through "blunt" ballot measures that Southern buses and water fountains were segregated. It took the "delicacy of legislation" to write something so abominable into law. Nor was it by means of a judicial bolt from the blue that segregation was finally crushed. It was through the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- a legislative milestone that would never have been reached if not for the fact that a majority of white Americans supported it.
To be sure, there were court cases, such as Brown v. Board of Education, that played a role in extending civil rights to citizens of every race. But those rulings didn't conjure newfangled "rights" out of thin air. They restored rights that had been created democratically and were already supposed to be the law of the land. The 14th Amendment -- approved by Congress and ratified by three-fourths of the states in 1868 -- had guaranteed equality and due process to blacks and whites alike. The Civil Rights Act of 1875 had barred discrimination in public accommodations. But the Supreme Court had gutted those protections -- for example in 1896, when it authorized streetcar segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson. It wasn't democracy that failed black Americans during the long decades of Jim Crow. It was a judiciary unwilling to protect the equality that the democratic process had guaranteed.
The republican form of government to which all Americans are entitled makes them the source of the constitution(s) under which they live. The only valid civil rights are those that have the consent of the governed. Their legitimacy comes from the democratic process, not from judicial fiat or political correctness. "I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves," Thomas Jefferson said, "and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion." Same-sex marriage will never be a civil right until the people in their discretion make it one.
21 November, 2006
Christian Union under Threat, Students Prepare for Legal Action
Christian Unions across Britain are preparing to take legal action as they face increasing persecution from university authorities which deem them 'too exclusive'
Christian Unions across Britain are seeking legal advice after four university campus branches were banned from official lists of societies or denied access to university facilities and privileges. Now Christian Unions at Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and Birmingham universities are seeking legal advice in the face of accusations that they are excluding non-Christians, promoting homophobia and discriminating against those of transgender sexuality.
The 150-strong Christian Union in Birmingham was suspended this year after refusing to alter its constitution to allow non-Christians to address meetings and to amend its literature to include references to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and those of transgender sexuality. Edinburgh University has banned an event run by the Christian Union called PURE which promotes a traditional biblical view of personal and sexual relationships.
The university defended the ban, saying that PURE was in breach of its equality and diversity policy because PURE claims that any sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage is not God-ordained. The pressure came principally from the Gay and Lesbian Society at Edinburgh University and follows the university's decision last year to ban copies of the Bible in its halls of residence after protests from the students' union.
The Lawyers' Christian Fellowship criticised the decision to ban PURE, saying, "This incident is an attack on freedom of speech in an institution where an open exchange of views and a search after truth should be strongly upheld. "In this instance the Christian Union is being denied freedom of expression because what they say and believe is uncomfortable for some groups in the university."
Christian Unions elsewhere are also coming under increasing attack. Christian students are threatening to take Exeter University and students' guild to court over human rights breaches after the university temporarily suspended the Christian Union from the official list of student societies on campus. The Exeter Christian Union - which has a 50-year history at the university - has also had its Student Union bank account frozen and has been banned from free use of students' guild premises or advertising within guild facilities.
Exeter University's student guild claims the Christian Union constitution and activities do not conform to its Equal Opportunities Policies, which have only recently been introduced.Exeter Christian Union told the university Thursday that it would take legal action after 14 days if it was not fully re-instated as a student society by the guild with full rights and was allowed to call itself the Christian Union. Emma Brewster, Christian Union worker at Exeter University said: "This is a fundamental issue of freedom of speech and of common sense. Legal action is the last thing we want to take, and we certainly don't relish it, but we are fully prepared to stand our ground for truth and freedom. "We want to be able to study in a university that allows students - of all faiths and of none - to freely express their views from whatever stance they might take, be able to disagree with one another, and yet to co-exist alongside one another. Surely that is a truly democratic society?
"The Christian Union here, as at almost every university in the UK, holds the orthodox Christian views which churches of all denominations have also held for 2,000 years. In 50 years, this is the first complaint about our name and what we stand for."The action currently taken by the guild does nothing to enhance the reputation of Exeter University, or its students to prospective employers, nor does it demonstrate that this university seeks to encourage all its students to freely develop their ideas, thoughts, values and beliefs."
The Lawyers' Christian Fellowship has provided informal legal advice to the students at Exeter but expects a wave of legal action to follow. "We haven't seen examples of this sort of discrimination against any other groups and we are puzzled by why Christian unions seem to be being singled out," said Andrea Minichiello Williams, public policy officer for the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship in The Times.
Meanwhile, the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF), the umbrella group for the 350 Christian Unions across Britain, said that the Christian Unions faced a struggle "unprecedented" in their 83-year history.Pod Bhogal, the fellowship's head of communications, said: "The politically correct agenda is being used to shut people up under the guise of tolerance when, in fact, you tolerate anything other than the thing you disagree with The UCCF has asked that as many people as possible write to the Principal of Edinburgh University to express their disapproval at the censorship of the Christian Union at the university.
VAWA: The fast food of law
As I reflect on my own experiences with domestic violence and the pretense of help our abuse system claims to offer, I find myself feeling most sorry for today's victims. As the years pass, our domestic violence systems under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) offer less and less help to the most severely battered, but ever increasing rewards for those who operate the systems.
I encounter a frightening number of victims of severe battery with the same story to tell; they went through the courts and things got worse for them, almost immediately. I have experienced this myself, personally. An expansive annotated list of government and academic studies supporting these concerns is in the article "Domestic Violence Awareness Month" by Richard L. Davis.
For the past twelve years, the American taxpayers have supported VAWA and other domestic violence programs, which have grown to $1 billion a year. Why do we not only keep such a failure operating, but also expand its influences and funding year after year? I believe it follows the same logic as our society's affinity for fast food -- instant gratification. It is quick, easy to get and satisfies an immediate personal desire. However, that satisfaction is hollow and short lived, and often creates unintended, unexpected problems for the consumer. Meanwhile the sellers make a fortune selling their ineffective and often harmful product. In order to keep the money rolling in, they must actively promote it to keep people accepting it, wanting it, and believing it is a good thing for everyone, regardless of the facts. To these ends, each year we dedicate a month to promote everything the Violence Against Women Act pretends to bring us, under the guise of protecting women from abuse and providing service to those that have suffered it.
Prior to the July 19, 2005 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for the reauthorization of VAWA, many people, including myself, tried to tell our side about the failures of VAWA. Several scientists with decades of experience studying the dynamics of intimate partner violence also requested to testify at this hearing. However, even after running full-page ads in the Washington D.C. based newspapers expressing our concerns, we were all denied time to speak at the hearing. Who did testify? A retired NBA basketball legend, a movie star, and a vice president of a cosmetics company. If these are qualifications the U.S. Senate considers appropriate for someone to testify as an expert on the subject of VAWA, whom would they invite to testify about violence on prime time TV? A few Tibetan monks perhaps?
So what went wrong? Any system polluted with ideological propaganda, whose operation is rife with fraud and real victims are nothing more than marketing tools is destined to failure. Unless, what it perceived as a failure was the intended, designed result. If misery does love company, then maybe the one success of VAWA has been to make sure victims of extreme domestic brutalities have plenty of company.
The women of True Equality Network, most of who are themselves victims of severe domestic violence, have spent almost five years in the courthouses interviewing over 15,000 plaintiffs in domestic violence cases just before they entered the courtroom. The overwhelming number of those interviewed did not attempt to mask the real reasons they filed a domestic violence claim: control, money, and revenge -- for everything you could possibly imagine -- everything except acts of domestic violence. Subsequently, True Equality Network asked prominent members of the counties in which the plaintiff surveys were conducted to interview the judges who heard these cases. Every single one of the judges interviewed corroborated the study's findings of pervasive levels of false claims of domestic violence in their court. These judges also state they know that the attorneys in these cases -- including Legal Services Corporation Grantees -- are suborning perjury by scripting the statements of the women in these cases. Moreover, they expressed concern that their District Attorneys were not prosecuting these acts of fraud.
Renowned professors and scientists who have reviewed this study series have said that the study was conducted using proper scientific methods and has produced ".significant findings that need to be widely published and cited." Among those supporting this study is Dr. Don Dutton of the University of British Columbia, who is planning to duplicate this study in the Canadian court system. Along with Dr. Dutton, numerous civil rights organizations requested True Equality Network to produce a training manual for conducting this study. With this tool, interviews of domestic violence plaintiffs are now being conducted in all 50 US states and starting soon in Canada.
Our abuse shelter investigation has discovered some disturbing activities. This includes shelters operating prostitution services, drug dealing, sheriff's deputies working as "pimps," and shelter staffers arranging to have the shelter clients provide sexual favors to law enforcement officers in exchange for the officers' false testimony in court.
The existing system must be solving some concern or no one would support it. Then whom does it help and in what ways? It is well known and reported that false allegations of domestic violence have long been the tactical weapon of choice to gain advantage in contested custody cases. This provides financial rewards not just to the women, but also to the states through a vast array of federal funding sources. Many of these sources have nothing to do with domestic violence, such as increased incentives from federal child support collection funding, TANF, HUD, and many others, giving the states as much incentive to perpetuate the fraud as those that are actually perpetrating it.
Two special reports from RADAR - Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting, are worthwhile reading: "Perverse Incentives, False Allegations, and Forgotten Children" outlines the monetary motivators for filing false allegations of domestic violence and "An Epidemic of Civil Rights Abuses: Ranking of States' Domestic Violence Laws" covers which states provide the greatest incentives for perpetrating these acts of fraud. The bottom line is: our abuse support system seems to be supporting everyone, except the severely abused. We are nothing more than media fodder used to foster sufficient public guilt to keep the fraud funded. By parading photos of our battered bodies before the public and Congress the domestic violence coalitions can keep the pork barrel full. It doesn't take a scholar to realize that if the beatings decrease so may the funding. This makes us acceptable and maybe even necessary losses.
ANTI-MILITARY BIGOTRY BY THE BAY
Comment by Jeff Jacoby
"In the first place God made idiots," observed Mark Twain. "This was for practice. Then he made school boards." The San Francisco Board of Education's 4-2 vote last week to abolish the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program, which has been active in the city's high schools for 90 years, tends to support his view.
Why is JROTC being done away with? It isn't for lack of interest. More than 1,600 San Francisco students currently take part in its voluntary activities. "Kids love this program as if it's family," notes the San Francisco Chronicle. It is "a program that students and their parents wholeheartedly support." Finances aren't the problem either. Operating JROTC costs the city less than $1 million out of an annual school budget of $356 million. Nor is the problem bad management. The Chronicle reports that "no one has offered an alternative as coherent and well-run as JROTC." Safety? Also not a problem. Though cadets have uniforms, they carry no weapons; the nonviolent programs emphasize leadership, self-discipline, citizenship, and teamwork. "This is where the kids feel safe," says one JROTC instructor, retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert Powell.
And the problem certainly isn't an absence of diversity. In a story on JROTC cadets at Galileo High School, Chronicle reporter Jill Tucker writes: "These students are 4-foot-10 to 6-foot-4. Athletic and disabled. College-bound and barely graduating. Gay and straight. White, black, and brown. Some leave school for large homes with ocean views. Others board buses for Bayview-Hunters Point." Several of the students come from immigrant families. At least one is autistic.
So what is the problem with JROTC? There isn't one. The problem is with the anti military bigotry of the school board majority and the "peace" activists who lobbied against the program on the grounds that San Francisco's schools should not be sullied by an association with the US armed forces. "We don't want the military ruining our civilian institutions," said Sandra Schwartz of the American Friends Service Committee, a far-left pacifist organization that routinely condemns American foreign policy and opposes JROTC nationwide. "In a healthy democracy . . . you contain the military." Board member Dan Kelly, who voted with the majority, called JROTC "basically a branding program or a recruiting program for the military." In fact, it is nothing of the kind: The great majority of cadets do not end up serving in the military.
But then, facts tend not to matter to smug ideologues like Schwartz and Kelly, who are free to parade their contempt for the military because they live in a nation that affords such freedom even to idiots and ingrates. It never seems to occur to them that the liberties and security they take for granted would vanish in a heartbeat if it weren't for the young men and women who do choose to wear the uniform, willingly risking life and limb in service to their country.
According to The Chronicle, scores of JROTC students were on hand when the school board met last week; many of them burst into tears after the vote. Sad to say, they should probably have seen this coming. For in its trendy anti military animus, the school board was hardly breaking new ground.
In 1995, San Francisco's board of supervisors wiped the city's famous Army Street from the map, renaming it Cesar Chavez Street. Last year, city supervisors refused to allow the retired USS Iowa, a historic World War II battleship, to be docked in the Port of San Francisco. Like the school board vote, the spurning of the Iowa was intended as a slap at the US military and the foreign policy it supports. Supervisor Chris Daly explained his vote against accepting the battleship by announcing: "I am not proud of the history of the United States of America since the 1940s."
In 2005, San Francisco voters handily approved Measure I, a nonbinding ballot question dubbed "College Not Combat," which called for the exclusion of military recruiters from public high schools and colleges. The prevailing political attitude was summed up in a Weekly Standard headline: "San Francisco to Army: Drop Dead."
Not everyone feels that way. To his credit, Mayor Gavin Newsom excoriated the school board last week for "disrespecting the sacrifice of men and women in uniform" and warned that killing JROTC would only accelerate the flight of city residents from the public schools. "You think this is going to help keep families in San Francisco?" he asked. "No. It's going to hurt." Going to? For 1,600 kids now faced with the death of a program that infused their lives with purpose, camaraderie, and self-respect, the hurt has already begun.
20 November, 2006
UK: Muslim cop banned from guarding Blair
The super-correct Mr Blair does not mess around with his own safety
Britain's Metropolitan Police is being sued by a Muslim officer upset he was removed from the force protecting dignitaries like Prime Minister Tony Blair. Constable Amjad Farooq, 39, had his special security revoked and was removed from the Diplomatic Protection Group after just six weeks, The Independent reported Tuesday. Farooq said he was told he had failed a security background check because two of his sons had attended a mosque associated with a Muslim cleric linked to a suspected terrorist group.
He claims in his legal challenge he was informed his presence on the unit might upset the U.S. Secret Service, which works with the department's close-protection unit, The Telegraph reported. Farooq is claiming racial and religious discrimination against the department for the December 2003 incident, and a tribunal will hear the case next year, the reports said. Last month, at the height of the Israeli-Lebanon conflict, another Muslim constable was excused from guarding the Israeli Embassy in London because of concern about his family's Lebanese links.
Don't always believe the victim
Two recent news stories differ in significant details but share a common message: false accusations of sexual abuse kill innocent people and devastate lives. The stories reveal the terrible human cost imposed by the often heard demand, 'always believe the victim'. In these cases, the accuser should have been asked for more evidence.
Item One: A sailor kidnapped and killed a Marine corporal because a woman in whom he was romantically interested implicated the Marine in a gang rape that never happened.
Item Two: After learning from his wife that their 2-year-old daughter had been molested by a neighbor, a father stabbed the accused man to death. Police later determined no sexual assault had occurred.
Both men have been arrested for murder. The sailor has pleaded 'guilty'; the father, whom police found covered by the dead man's blood with the murder weapon nearby, has pleaded 'not guilty'.
The stories differ in significant ways. For example, the sailor's girlfriend admits to inventing the rape. Despite questions about whether a 2-year-old could coherently make the accusation, the girl's mother insists that her daughter said the neighbor "put it" on her belly and her nose..."He comes to me in the starry nights." In short, the first woman lied; the second may have been mistaken. Lies and mistakes are common causes of false accusations. But even if the causal factor differs, both stories highlight the need for accusations to be weighed and investigated by an unbiased third party before they are acted upon.
The stories share other common elements. Two innocent men are dead. The lives of two others are destroyed. No charges have been brought against the women although police are examining the possibility that the mother knowingly filed a false police report.
Those who committed the murders properly bear the brunt of legal and moral responsibility. But anyone who spreads a false or mistaken accusation must assume some responsibility for its fall-out, if only on a moral level. And society should realize that the death of two innocent men is the logical and predictable consequence of the demand to always believe the 'victim.'
It is natural for a man to believe his girlfriend and vice versa; it is natural for parents to believe a child. But acting to punish another person solely on the basis of belief literally kills innocent people. For ten years, I have argued that both the law and society have embraced a fundamentally wrong approach to accusations of sexual abuse. The approach reverses the presumption of innocence and assumes that an accused is guilty until proven innocent. It also includes giving false accusers a 'free pass'; that is, until recently, it was rare for those who filed false reports to be punished by law.
The issue of false accusations is often debated in terms of statistics and studies with ad hominem attacks punctuating the exchange. When a sympathetic face emerges, it is usually that of the 'victim' or of a hypothetical future victim who 'will be discouraged from speaking out' if society demands evidence before rendering belief. Only now, in debacles like the Duke rape case, have people started to look instead into the faces of those being destroyed by accusations.
No one wants real victims to suffer one moment longer or to repeat their stories one time more than justice requires. But real victims are not threatened by a demand for evidence. And, as difficult as it may be for lovers and parents who believe accusations, they must realize that acting on a mistaken belief has life-and-death consequences.
Two responses I commonly receive when asking for evidence before believing an accusation of sexual assault are: "you are only concerned with men's rights" - men being the presumed perpetrators; and, "you don't care if victims are discouraged from speaking out." (As a woman who has been raped, the latter has a bitter irony.)
The first charge is easily dispelled. Consider the two preceding stories. The name of the Marine who was murdered was Justin L. Huff, age 23. He was the husband of Rebecca Huff and the father of five-month-old Justin, who carries the name of a dad he will never see. The last text message on murdered Huff's cell phone came from Rebecca: "I love you and I miss you very much." The name of the neighbor who was stabbed to death in his own bed was Barry James. James' 87-year-old blind mother, for whom he cared, found the blood-soaked body of her son.
Those who demand automatic acceptance of accusations may harden their hearts against a murdered father and loving son. But they are also turning away from Rebecca Huff and James' mother. Are they not women?
The second charge is that punishing faux victims will discourage real ones from speaking. That's an odd loop of logic. It is equivalent to saying that exposing lies discourages the truth or stamping out fraud reduces honesty. The opposite is true. Women (and men) are brutally victimized every day. If victims get a reputation as being liars or careless about evidence, then instead of receiving automatic belief, they will be automatically dismissed.
Both responses are wrong. Accusations are deadly serious and they destroy lives. There is a necessary line between 'believing a victim' and acting against the perpetrator. Those who argue for believing accusations without hard evidence are helping to erase that line. In doing so, they do not defend victims. They create them.
For someone who is "denied" free speech, this guy sure gets a big hearing
A leading British historian has sparked a row about free speech in America after an article criticising Israel prompted a backlash from Jewish groups and the cancellation of meetings where he was due to speak. Tony Judt, a liberal Jew and former kibbutznik, was accused of calling for the destruction of Israel after he wrote an article in The New York Review of Books in 2003, and in The Sunday Times, arguing for the creation of a secular bi-national state of Jews and Palestinians.
More than 100 leading academics signed a letter in last week's New York Review of Books protesting at the suppression of Judt's talks.
The former Oxford history don, who has been professor of European studies at New York University for 20 years, again became a magnet for criticism this year when he defended an essay written by Stephen Walt of Harvard and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago which criticised the "Israel lobby" in America.
Judt was due to give a talk on the subject of the lobby at the Polish consulate in New York last month, but it was cancelled at an hour's notice after two Jewish organisations, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, signalled their displeasure. "The phone calls were very elegant but may be interpreted as exercising a delicate pressure," said Krzysztof Kasprzyk, the Polish consul-general.
Judt said: "It is a very sensitive issue for Poles. They are uniquely vulnerable because the country has a long history of moral ambivalence towards Jews." The historian also withdrew from a lecture on the Holocaust at a Catholic college in New York after learning that it was to be picketed by Holocaust survivors dressed in pyjamas.
The academics' letter supporting Judt - whose latest book, Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945, was well received and was Cherie Blair's holiday reading this summer - said: "The Polish consulate is not obliged to promote free speech. But the rules of the game in America oblige citizens to encourage rather than stifle public debate."
Judt intends to hit back with a lecture on December 4 in New York on self-censorship and free speech in open societies. "I've been accused of being a self- hating Jew, a conspiracy theorist and an anti-semite," he said. "It's absurd but it is an echo of what is said to non-Jews when they criticise Israel."
He contrasted the lively debate about his views in Israel to the reaction in America, where he has been accused of advocating a "genocidal liberalism" that would lead to the slaughter of Jews. Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, admitted that a member of his staff had rung the Polish consulate, but denied that he had sought to cancel Judt's talk. "We are perturbed by his views but not enough to prevent him from speaking," Foxman said.
19 November, 2006
SOME VERY "INCORRECT" FINDINGS ABOUT ATTRACTIVENESS
Psychologists have long demonstrated that we tend to perceive physically attractive people as not just easy on the eye but more intelligent and competent as well. That this perception might not be strictly rational could be concluded from the finding that the beautiful are seen as better than the rest of us in such apparently unrelated tasks as piloting an aircraft.
This tendency to see the attractive as bearing a host of other desirable qualities also explains why an attractive defendant is likely to be given a more lenient sentence or even be let off by a jury. The effect is profound - both genders see physically attractive men and women as more intelligent and good. Even very young children perceive better-looking teachers as more intelligent. As it is unlikely that children are prejudiced by personal biases arising from their own feelings of attraction or of falling in love, it would appear that something profound is at work.
The evolutionary psychologists Satoshi Kanazawa from the London School of Economics and Jody Kovar of the University of Pennsylvania in the US have published research that argues that the beautiful really are more intelligent. Their paper, actually entitled: "Why beautiful people are more intelligent", rests on genetic and evolutionary principles. Women prefer more intelligent men, as has been repeatedly confirmed by research. Most men place physical attractiveness as their highest valued feature in women. So it follows that if there are genes for attractiveness and intelligence, over time these will tend to cluster in the products of liaisons between the good-looking and the intelligent.
A less palatable conclusion is that in a competitive market the less intelligent and less physically attractive are left to mate with each other.
Before the appalled turn the page in disgust at such a politically incorrect theory, it might be useful to consider the science here. Kanazawa and Kovar point out that physical attractiveness is not as superficial as is commonly held, and is definitely not merely in the eye of the beholder. Infants as young as two months gaze longer at a face that adults judge to be more attractive. Twelve-month-olds also play significantly longer with facially attractive dolls. Because two to 12 months is not enough time for infants to have learnt the cultural values of beauty through socialisation, this suggests standards might be innate.
Cross-culturally, there is considerable agreement in the judgment of beauty among a host of racial and national groups, including those as widely separated as the Ache of Paraguay and the Chinese. In none of this research does the degree of exposure to western media have any influence on people's perception of beauty. This consensus appears to exist because it is possible to derive a mathematical formula that predicts how attractive a face or body is according to key proportions. The essential point is that attractiveness seems to be rooted in symmetry. Attractive faces are more symmetrical than unattractive ones. The symmetry of your body and face also appears to be associated with how genetically fit you are and how many developmental setbacks you suffered in the womb and while growing up. Resistance to parasites and other pathogens has been shown to be related to how symmetrical bodies are.
Beauty is now seen by evolutionary biologists as a kind of "health certification" guaranteeing that if you mate with such a person you are mingling your genes with higher-quality genetic material. How symmetrical a face is can now be measured from a scanned photograph, with a computer program measuring the sizes of, and distances between, various facial parts. Such programs assign a single score for physical attractiveness, which correlates highly with scores of prettiness assigned by human judges. Beauty therefore appears to be an objective and quantitative attribute of individuals a bit like height and weight.
Daniel Hamermesh and Jeff Biddle, economists at the University of Texas and Michigan State University, published a study in the American Economic Review in the 1990s entitled "Beauty and the Labour Market", which found that relative to average- looking women, below-average-looking women are married to men with significantly less education.
Kanazawa and Kovar cite five previous studies that have found an association between physical attractiveness and intelligence, including a recent comprehensive meta-analysis (a pooling of all the data from a variety of studies). The authors of the meta-analysis are so convinced that physical attractiveness is a strong sign of superior intelligence that they dismiss the maxim "beauty is skin deep" as a myth.
But as the concept of intelligence is deeply controversial, evolutionary theorists have looked for a real world measure of success that should correlate with IQ. Irene Frieze led a team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh who, in their study of MBA graduates, found that more physically attractive men have significantly higher starting salaries and their advantage increases over time.
For women, attractiveness has no effect on starting salaries but better-looking women earn significantly more later in their careers. In their sample, men earn $2,600 more on average for each unit of attractiveness (on a five-point scale), and women earn $2,150 more.
Kanazawa and Kovar caution against the mistake of using attractiveness as a measure of intelligence and vice versa. They point out their finding is only of an association that, while statistically significant, is an imperfect one. Certainly you should never choose the pilot of your aircraft merely on their looks.
Stupid accusation about Tasmania from a leading British newspaper
The stupid political correctness described below is added to by the newspaper's accusation that the Tasmanian blacks were "eradicated by genocide". The accusation is scurrilous but is a favourite of Leftist historians worldwide. All the evidence shows that the Tasmanian blacks were already dying out when white men first arrived and that their demise was hastened by the diseases of the white settlers to which the blacks had no immunity. See here and here
One of the world's most significant collections of human remains is to be lost to science, after the Natural History Museum (NHM) today agreed to repatriate it to an Australian aboriginal community. Bones and teeth from 17 aboriginal Tasmanians, which were collected in the 19th century, will be sent back to Australia next April, where they are expected to be cremated.
The specimens are the first from the museum's collection of almost 20,000 human remains to be repatriated since the law was changed last year to allow it to do so. The request from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC), supported by the Australian Government, was accepted by the museum's trustees even though its own scientists had argued strongly that it should be kept intact as "a particularly important collection to the global scientific community." The ruling sets a precedent that could ultimately see thousands of items from the NHM's collection returned to indigenous communities for burial or cremation. Although 54 per cent of its human remains are from the UK, all those from abroad that are less than 1,000 years old could now qualify for repatriation if an appropriate request is made.
The Australian Government has already begun negotiations about the return of a further 450 items that originated in Australia, and Native American and New Zealand Maori groups are also in discussions with the museum. The prospect of losing so many specimens from one of the world's foremost repositories of human remains has dismayed some scientists, who argue that they retain great importance. Original remains are valuable for studies in fields as varied as human evolution and forensic science.
The Tasmanian collection is particularly signficant because the island has been isolated from the Austrialian mainland for thousands of years, and its aboriginal population offers valuable insights into human evolution that cannot be obtained from other sources. A few dozen museum specimens are all that remains of this unique ethnic group, which was eradicated by genocide in the 19th century.
"Failure to maintain scholarly access to these remains would reduce the ability of all people to know aspects of their common heritage, to the detriment of both the Tasmanians and the wider community," NHM scientists said in their response to the repatriation request. "The Tasmanian human remains must continue to be available for scientific research, either at the NHM or at another repository."
While most scientists accept the case for repatriating remains where a clear line of descent to living individuals or communities can be proven, many object to the idea of granting broad claims where ancestry is less certain. Some modern aborigine groups can trace descent to full Tasmanian aborigines, but have heavily interbred with other populations. The NHM's trustees, however, agreed to the TAC submission, which argued that the remains were taken without consent from an oppressed people, and should be returned for cremation in accordance with local spiritual and religious traditions.
The museum, however, has approved a three-month period of extensive scientific research on the remains before they are returned, including DNA analysis and CT scanning. The TAC had explicitly asked that no further research be conducted on the specimens. Michael Dixon, the museum's director, said: "This is something of a momentous day for the museum. It is a landmark decision, following our first opportunity to consider the repatriation of human remains. "We acknowledge our decision may be questioned by community groups or by some scientists. However, we believe the decision to return the Tasmanian remains, following a short period of data collection, is a commonsense one that balances the requirements of all those with an interest in the remains."
Chris Stringer, Head of Human Origins at the museum, said: "I regret the future loss of scientific data from these specimens," he said. "If the Tasmanian people in the future want to investigate their own past, they will no longer be available."
The decision marks only the second time that a national museum has agreed to repatriate human remains since the Human Tissue Act allowed them to do so. Prior to last year, the NHM and other state collections were banned from parting with any of their specimens by the British Museum Act of 1963. This provision was repealed following the Palmer Committee's 2003 report into collections of human remains, which recommended that institutions should normally seek to return such specimens if an appropriate modern ethnic group requested them.
Several private collections, such as the University of Manchester, the Royal College of Surgeons and the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford, have already returned specimens voluntarily, and the British Museum has returned cremation ash bundles to Tasmania since the law was changed. The NHM will also return a skull of an aboriginal Australian that was exported illegally in 1913. This decision was not contested by scientists.
"RACISM" TO EVICT A TROUBLESOME FAMILY?
An envoy from a leading European human right agency chided Slovenia on Thursday for its treatment of a Roma family, saying it was "unacceptable" to remove them from their home because their Slovene neighbors wanted them out. Thomas Hammerberg, a commissioner of the 46-nation Council of Europe who came to Slovenia to examine the case, said it contained "racist and anti-Roma elements," and urged the government to fight xenophobia more vigorously. "Regardless of the circumstances, it is unacceptable that a group of people has to abandon their home because a majority population wishes so," Hammerberg told reporters in Ljubljana. "As Slovene citizens, Roma must have the same right as other citizens to choose where they want to live."
The 32-member Strojan family — including 14 children — was forced to leave the village of Ambrus, just outside the capital of Ljubljana, late last month, after hundreds of their Slovene neighbors approached their settlement and demanded that they leave. Villagers accused the Strojans of polluting the environment and the nearby source of water. They said a man that lived with Strojans had beaten a villager and left him in a coma.
Police, which came to protect the Gypsy — or Roma — family, eventually decided it was safer to escort them out of the village. The family is now settled in a former refugee center, and a government plan to move them to another village failed because villagers there protested against it.
Hammerberg said hate speech and threats to Roma have increased across Europe, and that the case showed that Slovenia was "not immune" to that. A European Union report issued this year showed that Roma were still the most discriminated against in Europe.
18 November, 2006
The nursery rhyme police - British parents to take lessons in reading and singing
Parents could be forced to go to special classes to learn to sing their children nursery rhymes, a minister said. Those who fail to read stories or sing to their youngsters threaten their children's future and the state must put them right, Children's Minister Beverley Hughes said. Their children's well-being is at risk 'unless we act', she declared. And Mrs Hughes said the state would train a new 'parenting workforce' to ensure parents who fail to do their duty with nursery rhymes are found and 'supported'.
The call for state intervention in the minute details of family life followed a series of Labour efforts to reduce anti-social behaviour and improve educational standards by imposing rigorous controls on the lives of the youngest children. Mrs Hughes has established a national curriculum to set down how babies are taught to speak in childcare from the age of three months. Her efforts have gone alongside a push by other ministers to determine exactly how parents treat their children down to how they should brush their teeth.
Tony Blair has backed the idea of 'fasbos' - efforts to identify and correct the lives of children who are likely to fail even before they are born - and new laws to compel parents to attend parenting classes are on the way. This autumn is likely to see an extension of parenting orders that can force parents to attend parenting classes so that they can be used on the say so of local councils against parents. For the first time, parenting orders are likely to be directed against parents whose children have committed no criminal offence.
The threat of action against parents who fail to sing nursery rhymes was unveiled by Mrs Hughes as she gave the first details of Mr Blair's 'national parenting academy', a body that will train teachers, psychologists and social workers to intervene in the lives of families and become the 'parenting workforce'. Mrs Hughes said that it was necessary for children to develop 'emotional intelligence and flexibility, and to have good problem-solving and interpersonal skills too.' She added: 'These attitudes start with good family experiences, in the home, with strong, loving, aspirational parents. So supporting parents and providing good early years education can pay dividends here.'
Mrs Hughes said: 'It is now clear that what parents actually do has a huge impact on children's well-being and capacity to succeed, both at the time and in future. 'Some parents already know that reading and singing nursery rhymes with their young children will get them off to a flying start - often because this is how they themselves were brought up. 'For other parents without this inheritance these simple techniques are a mystery and are likely to remain so - unless we act and draw them to their attention.' She added: 'If friendly and skilful early years practitioners work in partnership with disadvantaged parents, as co-educators of their children, these gaps in children's development and achievement can be narrowed.'
The National Academy for Parenting Practitioner, Mrs Hughes said, would operate from next autumn to train a parenting workforce and 'support the Government's parenting agenda as it develops'. She did not mention any figures for the cost of the scheme.
Mrs Hughes condemned the way governments before 1997 thought they had no role in the upbringing of children, which it 'regarded as the entirely private arrangements families make.' She praised the Government's record of pouring billions into state benefits for single parents, into providing subsidies for childcare, into pushing mothers into work, and into the 'Sure Start' children's centres. 'Over the past 10 years what I have described is, I believe, an example of the enabling 21st century state in action,' Mrs Hughes said. Without Labour's policies, she said, 'we would be on the road to ruin, that is back to where we were 10 years ago.'
Mrs Hughes did not refer to independent reports on the success of Sure Start commissioned by Whitehall which say that despite £20 billion of planned spending it has been a failure in helping the most deprived children who are its target.
Critics of Government family policies condemned the 'nursery rhyme' intervention plan as intrusive and arrogant yesterday. Jill Kirby of the centre right think tank Centre for Policy Studies said: 'This is the micro-management of family life. 'They have told us the books that our children should read and how to brush their teeth. Now they tell us what we should sing to them. 'This is what happens when a government has failed to do anything at all about the real problems of family breakdown, fatherless families and neglect of children. It is setting about wasting its time and our money.'
Anastasia de Waal of the Civitas civic values study group said: 'The problem in the real world is not that people are bad parents but that they are not parenting at all. We know that some children hardly see their parents and many don't have two parents at all. 'This is just one more worthless scheme that will have no impact at all on children's lives.'
New powers for councils to impose parenting orders are expected to be announced in the Queen's Speech tomorrow. Part of Mr Blair's 'Respect Agenda', they extend current powers for courts to instruct parents of children who commit crimes to attend parenting classes. Mrs Hughes' parenting workforce will include local council social workers who are likely to have the new powers.
Her speech to the National Family and Parenting Institute - an organisation set up by Labour eight years ago to further its family agenda - ignored the question of two-parent families which has begun feature in left-wing debate. Mr Blair's Government has long declared that all families are equal. However, in recent weeks Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton has acknowledged that children with two natural parents fare better. Last week the Blairite think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research, also acknowledged that children brought up by single parents are more likely to end up without jobs and on state benefits.
PEOPLE DYING FROM FAILURE TO QUARANTINE AIDS
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control announced its recommendation that the entire population be regularly tested for AIDS. The implications of this recommendation demonstrate the deleterious effect that political correctness has on logical, earnest and truthful inquiry. The CDC has always been touted as the ultimate source for information and decision-making in public healthcare. With their track record they seem invincible. Now they are calling for routine AIDS testing of everyone. This is tantamount to throwing in the towel and admitting that their strategy to control the AIDS epidemic has been an utter failure.
The frequency of not only AIDS, but the whole panoply of sexually transmitted diseases is a catastrophic calamity on the level of global warming. How did we get in such a state where we cannot even limit the spread of fragile diseases that cannot live outside the human body for more than a few seconds?
Despite the propaganda to the contrary, it hasn't been for lack of money or concern. Mortal disease, especially when spread by sexual contact or blood, gets everyone's attention quickly. Any sense of complacency was based upon physician-encouraged confidence in the medical establishment to do the right things to cure or contain the epidemic.
When AIDS was first recognized in the early 1980s it should have been treated in the same manner as any outbreak of a transmittable disease, but it wasn't. The standard public health model required the people with whom the patient had made contact of the type that could transmit the disease to be interviewed and - if necessary to controlling the spread of the disease - quarantined. All through the prior years of the 20th century civil rights issues had been raised concerning the use of the public health model. In every case the benefit to the public was determined to be paramount and the concerns were reasonably addressed; and it worked.
Why was this "silver bullet" plan not used? Because it wasn't politically correct. The CDC, in its official history of AIDS, cites political pressure from gay activists as a major factor in not utilizing the proven standard public health model. As the administrator for the first AIDS clinic in the Pacific Northwest I know this to be true from my own professional involvement.
Political correctness then and to this day often precludes the use of best measures in disease control. All human life is precious. The CDC - of all organizations - should have not been influenced by politics. It should have led the charge for treating this awful syndrome of diseases the same as it did for other epidemic diseases.
Instead it gambled with the social engineering approach - and it lost. The CDC caved in to power politics. And now it's officially admitted defeat.
What shame we bear to all those who have died and will continue to die of this and the other sexually transmitted diseases that have become not just epidemic, but endemic to us now.
Since AIDS in Western populations seems to be almost entirely transmitted by anal intercourse, I doubt the author's apparent inference that the population at large is at risk -- but the CDC is undoubtedly being PC in its call for universal testing. It is trying in an indirect way to deal with the fact that failure to quarantine AIDS is killing many homosexuals who might otherwise have survived
"DIVERSE" COMPANIES FAIL TO DELIVER IN SOUTH AFRICA
"Hallelujah!" I said to myself yesterday as I listened to a radio report on Trevor Manuel's speech to the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday. There was more than a hint of concern in my mind too, but let's deal with the happy bit first. In case you missed it, and it wasn't difficult with all the screaming arguments around the Civil Unions Bill, which passed on the same day, this is what the Honourable Minister of Finance said, in essence: government tender awards should not only consider being race and gender representative, but also meet the tender specifications. Hallelujah!
He went on to produce two proofs, one concerning a road that fell apart after two years of use and the other being the substandard build quality of RDP houses on a site in Mpumalanga. Both projects were completed by companies that satisfied all the PDI requirements but were lacking in everything else.
It may not sound like much to the outsider, but I'd like to see a possible swing that may just change the direction of the economy in it. You see, the government and its parastatals are by far the biggest customers in this country. This is a fact of life. So is the empowerment. Combine with standardised and heavily scrutinised tender processes and you have our system where fitness is judged on a combination of ability to deliver and political correctness.
The whole country benefits from a situation where the biggest purchaser actively encourages companies to transform by making it easier for them to win business. That's theory. In reality, as the Hon Minister would seem to agree, things are a quite a bit different.
Political correctness is a form of cancer that takes over any system it touches. It lives only to grow. Introduce it into the tender system and soon BEE requirements are favoured above everything else, including actually being able to get the job done.
And reason why things are like that are simple: Bureaucrats need to keep their jobs. In the information technology world there used to be a saying: nobody ever gets fired for buying IBM. (Today, it is more likely Microsoft.) In South Africa today, award a tender - any tender - to a non-transformed company, even if it delivers a brilliant job, internal controls or the media will kick off a storm of epic proportions. Fingers will be pointed, and jobs may be lost. On the opposite side, award a tender to a transformed company and you're safe, even if billions are lost. And bureaucracy exists first and foremost to keep bureaucrats from losing their jobs. Sounds like a no-brainer to me. So everybody plays it safe.
That may all have worked out okay(ish) if our government coffers were bottomless. Sadly they are not, and South Africans are getting somewhat vocal in demanding delivery. Frankly they couldn't give a damn that the house crumbling around them was built the politically correct way. What would make them happy is even if a "politically incorrect" company built the house to spec but was then obliged to spend a significant chunk of the profit made in the process on helping the community out in other ways. But that kind of lateral thinking is too dangerous to even contemplate articulating within the halls of government. Too much tinkering with the dogma. And the careers could be wrecked.
Which brings us back to that worry that comes with Manuel's sudden insight. Anyone who cherishes a political career would never, ever, touch this issue. What are you going to achieve, beyond giving the opposition (internal and otherwise) plenty of ammunition by daring to suggest that tax money should be spent effectively?
Trevor Manuel is on top of his game at the moment, a minister that actually delivers, and he clearly doesn't mind going head-first into the hornet's nest. Laudable. Maybe his speech is a beginning of something bigger, maybe it was planned at the government meetings and given to the country's favourite minister to announce. If it happens to be the initiative only of his own, I wonder what it does for his future career, though.
17 November, 2006
NOT ALL RACISM IS INCORRECT
Some interesting points from a Leftist writer
Writing in 2000 after almost 10 years of fighting in the Balkans, Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek noted that much of the commentary on the war revealed as much about the prejudices of the commentators as it did of the combatants. In particular, Zizek observed the barely concealed racism running throughout much of the commentary on the Balkan wars: the conflicts were portrayed as the latest in a long history of vicious melodramas among infantile peoples whose cultures remained mired in tribal barbarity.
Such comments were all the more remarkable because they often came from people who would never dare apply such appalling stereotypes to other cultural groups, such as African Americans. But because the Balkans is part of Europe, and therefore "part of us", such sensitivities could safely be dispensed with. In Zizek's words, "The Balkans constitute a place of exception with regard to which the tolerant multiculturalist is allowed to act out his/her repressed racism."
With the release of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, we might add central Asia to the places of exception. There is a similar thread of repressed racism running through the enjoyment of the Borat movie. Since few of us will ever go to Kazakhstan or meet Kazakhs who might be offended by such caricatures, it's the perfect place on which good multiculturalists can safely project our prejudices.
The Kazakh Government's flat-footed attempts to counter the poor image of Kazakhstan presented in the film have only helped to reinforce such images. Late last November, for example, Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Yerzhan Ashykbayev threatened Borat's creator, Sacha Baron Cohen, with "legal measures" for his continued pillorying of Kazakhstan. In a sublime twist, Borat responded by supporting his "Government's decision to sue this Jew" - Baron Cohen is Jewish - before going on to boast of Kazakhstan's progressive and pluralistic culture, illustrated by the news that homosexuals no longer have to wear blue hats, that women are now allowed to travel on the insides of buses and that the age of consent had been raised to eight.
To some extent, the Kazakh Government misses the point of the Borat film, insofar as most of the jokes are not targeted at Kazakhs at all. Kazakhstan is simply a convenient stick with which to poke fun at a culture that is so ignorant of the rest of the world that it swallows the idea that there exists a whole country populated by boorish fools who have only incompletely made it to modernity.
His clumsy attempts to ingratiate himself with his host enable him to get away with murder. At one point in the film, Borat addresses a US rodeo audience and, in his mangled English, enthusiastically pledges Kazakhstan's support for "your country's war of terror", to the rapturous applause of the crowd.
But even accepting this, Cohen's Borat routines are a roundabout way of mocking people - both in the US and in Kazakhstan - who are different from, and have had few of the opportunities enjoyed by, liberal multiculturalists.
To some extent, of course, all humour trades in caricatures, and Borat relies on the ignorance of his victims. What's telling about Borat, though, is the precise contours of the caricature: his misogyny, racism, and homophobia - all of which are presented as entirely normal and natural - are the exact inversion of liberal multicultural politics.
By embodying everything liberal multiculturalists oppose and opening them up to ridicule, Borat works to prop up our own commitment to liberal tolerance. He conjures up a distant people and place through which liberal multiculturalists can distinguish themselves, thereby confirming everything that they are not.
WORD GAMES ABOUT LEFTISM
Conservatives are suicidally polite. We feel bound to act nice, and so we go along with whatever euphemism the Left chooses for itself. On their side, Democrats loudly argue for truth in advertising for baldness cures-- but not in the marketplace of political ideas, where telling the truth is a lot more important. That is why the Left constantly seeks new PR labels to disguise itself. Using the word "socialism" is taboo in American politics, but today the Democratic Party is socialist at heart. Even "liberal" isn't accurate any more, because today's Democrats are hardly the party of Cold War liberals like John F. Kennedy and Harry S Truman. Instead, they have fallen back on fuzzy, wishful Marxism. It's where they feel most comfortable.
The Left is now pushing for yet a new PR label, "progressive," which gently rings the old Marxist chimes for those in the know. If you call yourself a progressive, everybody who doesn't agree must be a Neanderthal. But words mean things, and "socialist" is simply more accurate than either "liberal" or "progressive."
On Iraq the key to Democrat thinking is that they are internationalists-they despise nationalism of all kinds, seeing it as the cause of wars. But the old Communist anthem was of course "The Internationale." Internationalism is a defining feature of socialism, going back to the 19th century. It is our fundamental difference on foreign policy. Conservatives see American patriotism as a saving grace. A widespread faith in the goodness of our country brought us through the dangers of the 20th century. Sure we made mistakes, being human, and politics being what it is. But for conservatives, the United States is still the last, best hope of mankind. The anti-American media therefore constantly tries to undermine pro-American feelings. Instead, they look to socialist Europe and the socialist UN; against a century of facts, they would place our safety in the hands of strangers. That is presumably what Senator Hillary Clinton had in mind last week, when she called for more "internationalism" in American policy.
We stand at a point in time where we are now in the process of redefining both American internationalism and American interests. ... It is essential that we win this war against these borderless terrorists, but it is, I believe, critical that we once again recommit ourselves to that American internationalism that I mentioned in the beginning.
But "American internationalism" Is an oxymoron; it contradicts itself. After 9/11 we know perfectly well what "American Internationalism" really means. It means that we pay for NATO and the UN, protect Europe with a nuclear umbrella for sixty years, and then, when terrorists cause mass civilian deaths in New York City and Washington, DC, the Europeans will scream and yell at us when we try to preempt further attacks. For socialists, internationalism comes first and America a very distant second. We have no true allies in Europe, except for Britain, and Tony Blair is now losing his job over faithfully sticking by our alliance. Senator Clinton's "American internationalism" is a slogan for milking Uncle Sam and screwing him at the same time. If you doubt it, consider this story from the Washington Post by Thomas Edsall, June 28, 1998, in the happy days before 9/11.
President Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are seeking to take advantage of the unprecedented number of Western governments controlled by center-left parties to turn their "third way" political strategies in the United States and Great Britain into an international movement.
Third Way Socialism means piggy-backing Labour socialism on top of Maggie Thatcher's capitalism: Taxing the free market just enough to support the socialist state. Today, the free market in Britain is being taxed to sink British sovereignty into the greedy arms of the EU, utterly corrupt and anti-democratic. The people of Britain have now been so deeply indoctrinated that they hardly notice it any more. For the Left, politics is too important to be honest about. It has that in common with Islamist fascism.
If and when American conservatives decide to call a socialist a socialist, the Left will scream that it's is a McCarthyite smear. But is the word "socialism" defamatory or just the plain truth? In their hearts the Left believes, it believes fervently (in private), in caucusing with the Elect. Socialism is a coherent political philosophy, painting a rosy future of peace and equality forever, if only the really good people achieve total power; in reality, the socialist fantasy just keeps slamming into a wall of failures, disasters, tyrannies, massacres and miseries wherever it's tried. But conservatives can't even point to the Left's endless record of failure if we don't dare to use the word "socialism." We have to find the courage to say the s-word.
If you want to know what socialists really believe, read one Labour Councillor, Terry Kelly from Scotland. If Mr. Kelly seems like a nut-ball to you, keep in mind that he speaks for most of British Labour-- especially those who hate the traitor Tony Blair. He also sounds exactly like Moveon.org and the hard Left of the Democrat Party, which is now taking credit for the Leftist takeover of the US Congress. Writes Mr. Kelly:
I'm a Socialist who believes in equality, peace and the redistribution of wealth, I oppose Racism, Sexism, Sectarianism, Nationalism and any kind of discrimination. Best wishes for a Socialist future.
There. He said it. It's just the plain truth. Less than 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the horrific past of Stalin and starvation is flushed down the memory hole. Socialists have not changed even one little bit. Reality has had no impact, because they are a millenarian sect that always has its eyes on an imaginary future. Yet peace and love are hard to find in Mr. Kelly's high-whine rantings. Councillor Kerry passionately hates America, Israel and Republican "thugs." His fidelity to "tolerance" does not include tolerance for the ideas of other people. These are the folks who control Europe, and who greeted the Democratic win last week with loud Hosannas. George Orwell is always relevant. A former socialist himself, he became a passionate advocate of truth-telling. Remember this:
In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
Perhaps conservatives should think of themselves as truth-telling revolutionaries in a time of wall-to-wall deceit. Using the s-word is a step in the right direction.
The essay above is right to stress the importance of knowing history but should also have mentioned what American "Progressives" were like in the past. Before WWII, American "Progressives" were essentially Fascist. Only the details have changed
Pro-Homosexual Democrats To Push Anti-Christian `Hate Crime' Legislation
With the Democrats taking control of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives this January, we can expect the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and its pro-homosexual surrogates newly elected to Congress, to begin an aggressive push for passage of a "hate crimes" bill designed to provide federally protected status to the behavior of homosexuality. This hate crimes bill is likely to be a re-engineered version of the old Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act (LLEEA). The pro-homosexual, anti-Christian Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is another bill that will be revived as part of the homosexual agenda.
Americans voted for a change in Congress. They obviously have not seriously considered the kind of changes they may have to cope with once the homosexual agenda goes into full swing in the Senate and House.
The homosexual goal is to create protected minority status for homosexuality as though it were equal to such immutable characteristics as race. The side-effect of this effort will be to criminalize criticism of homosexual conduct and to violate religious freedom and freedom of conscience. It is also likely that all attempts to pass a constitutional marriage amendment will be dead on arrival in the Senate.
Newly-elected Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey (D) who defeated pro-family Senator Rick Santorum (R) has already indicated his plans to push for a hate crimes bill that includes "sexual orientation" and "gender identity." Casey's announcement is payback to HRC for its strong support of his race for the Senate. Gender identity, for those unfamiliar with the term, is code for an individual who thinks he is the opposite sex. (This includes cross-dressers, transvestites and transsexuals.) Sexually confused individuals will be a protected minority if Casey and his minions in the Senate have their way.
HRC is encouraged by the election of Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota to the U.S. Senate. She defeated rival Mark Kennedy. Klobuchar is a proponent of pro-homosexual hate crime legislation; HRC raised thousands of dollars for her campaign.
In the House, HRC has applauded the election of such pro-homosexual and pro-abortion individuals as Gabby Giffords of Arizona who defeated Randy Graf for homosexual Jim Kolbe's (R) seat. Kolbe is under investigation by a U.S. Attorney in Arizona for his role in taking two House pages on a camping trip in 1996. Kolbe has admitted he was aware of Mark Foley's inappropriate emails with House pages as far back as 2000.
In Florida, an HRC-endorsed Democrat Ron Klein defeated 13-term Republican Claw Shaw in the 22nd District. Klein can be expected to payback HRC with homosexual-affirming legislation when he takes office in January.
With both the Senate and House now under control of Democrats and dozens of pro-homosexual lawmakers, all Americans must be prepared to endure serious threats to their freedom of speech, their right to make employment decisions as business owners, and their religious freedom in the business world.
TVC did everything in its power to educate and inspire our supporters to vote for candidates who uphold traditional morality. We tried to warn voters what would happen should liberals gain control of Congress in January. We fear our predictions will be correct-and religious freedom and free speech will die by a thousand cuts-beginning in 2007. Fortunately, the people can change course in 2008, after they've seen the horrors to be offered them by the sick ideology of homosexual activists and liberals. My hope is that the damage done to our cultural foundations will be minimal during these next two years of liberal occupation. With Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House and Harry Reid as Senate Majority leader, God help us.
16 November, 2006
U.K.: ANOTHER CRACKDOWN ON HUGGING
The anus running this school should be delighted that the kids are affectionate towards one-another
A school has told pupils to avoid hugging because they are taking too much time to reach their lessons. Callington Community College, a mixed comprehensive in Cornwall with 1,250 pupils, said hugging had begun to cause "problems". The headmaster, Stephen Kenning, wrote on the school's website: "Hugging has become very acceptable amongst students. This has led to some students believing that it is okay to go up to anyone and hug them, sometimes inappropriately. "This is very serious not only for the victim but also for anyone accused of acting inappropriately. To avoid putting anyone at risk please avoid hugging."
Yesterday, Mr Kenning added: "During the changing of lessons, girls were hugging each other and taking too much time to get to lessons. "We also had complaints from other students about inappropriate hugging. It was going on too often and people were abusing it. The school has not banned it. However, it is being discouraged and we are asking pupils to cut out anything unnecessary and only hug when they need to hug." Pupils would not get into trouble if they ignored the advice, he added.
However, Kath Pascoe, a local councillor who has two grandchildren at the college, said: "I don't see anything wrong with hugging - better that than fighting and arguing. Surely it can't take that long to get to lessons?"
Mr Kenning said he had had one complaint from parents about the anti-hugging drive and that pupils had taken the advice on board. David Cohen, a member of the British Psychological Society and author of the book Body Language said hugging was a basic human instinct. He said: "Human beings are touchy-feely creatures by nature. It is only a problem if you invade someone's personal space. Surely it is better youngsters get the human contact they need innocently. If you ban it, they are far more likely to seek it round the back of the bike sheds." Pupils said there had been detentions at the school for hugging, and a "naming and shaming" policy in assembly.
UK: Fox hunters outfoxing the law
Eighteen months ago hunting was banned. Or was it? The hounds are still running, foxes are still being killed and the number of people taking part has actually increased. As the new season begins, Stephen Moss saddles up and discovers how the hunts are outfoxing the law.
'Are you pro or anti?" Florence (aka Florrie, aka Flossie) asks me. "Neither," I insist, sitting firmly on the fence. "I'm here to report, to see both sides, to be objective, to tell it as it is, to -" "Yes, but are you pro or anti?" she asks again, seeing through my obfuscation. Florrie is nine, and nine-year-olds just won't put up with bullshit.
"My children have grown up marching," says Florrie's mother, Philippa Mayo. She is the head of the Countryside Alliance's hunting campaign, and one of the reasons I am sitting on a horse, about to follow the hounds across the Leicestershire countryside.
Eighteen months ago, hunting was banned. Remember? Hounds were going to be slaughtered; red coats abandoned; huntsmen sacked. It was the end of hunting - and probably the end of rural life, too. Today, however, there are more hunts than there were at the time of the ban; more hunters, too, according to the Countryside Alliance. No stores selling hunting gear have gone bust. Indeed, business is buoyant, according to Jane White at equestrian store Calcutts in Sutton Scotney, Hampshire. "There was a drastic dip in 2004, the year of the ban," she says. "People didn't know what was going to happen. Last year saw a slight improvement, and this year has picked up incredibly. A lot of people have taken it up." Hunting, a banned activity, appears to be booming.
Mayo lives in a village on the border between Leicestershire and Rutland. This is a place where everyone says good morning; despite the November chill, elderly ladies engage in lengthy conversations outside the post office; and the newsagent's counter is covered not with copies of Closer and Heat, but with Horse and Hound, the Field, Sporting Gun. Here, field sports call the shots.
Mayo has convinced me that I should ride with the Cottesmore in my quest to discover how hunting has survived the ban. She is lending me a horse and promises to keep me company during the hunt. I haven't ridden for four years, so anything could happen. The Cottesmore is what might be called a middle-ranking hunt - not as posh as the neighbouring Quorn, but more upscale than the farmers' packs in Wales and the West Country. There are about 70 riders this Saturday morning, with another 40 or so people following in cars. Hunting's car followers are often forgotten, but they are a vital part of its ecology.
The other misconception is that all these 70 riders are engaged in the act of hunting. They aren't. The only people who hunt are the professional huntsman, his two whippers-in (also usually professional hunt servants), and two or three trusted volunteers. They and the hounds do the hunting; everyone else - "the field", in the jargon - tries to keep up as best they can. But they are expressly forbidden to get too close in case they distract the hounds. Hunting is a secretive activity, often undertaken in wooded areas that are out of bounds to the field, and largely impenetrable to the non-expert. All of which makes it very difficult to decide whether huntsmen are acting legally.
And that is the crux. Does the legislation outlaw hunting or not? Those who succeeded in getting the Hunting Act on to the statute books in 2004 are in no doubt - hunting is banned. "Hunting live quarry is illegal," says the RSPCA's Becky Hawkes. "If dogs are not being kept under control and people going out hunting are aware of that, then the law would be broken." "Any pursuit or chase is illegal," insists Barry Hugill of the League Against Cruel Sports. They are right - up to a point. There it is in the first line of the act: "A person commits an offence if he hunts a wild mammal with a dog." Couldn't be clearer. Except there are a further five words in that sentence: "... unless his hunting is exempt." Those five words - and the list of exemptions in schedule one of the act - have been the salvation of hunting. One exemption in particular has been manna to the hunters: "Flushing a wild mammal from cover is exempt hunting if undertaken for the purpose of enabling a bird of prey to hunt the wild mammal." And so hunts have begun using packs of hounds in combination with birds of prey.
Today the Cottesmore is out with its golden eagle, Anna (they did think about calling it Notil, as in Notil-eagle, but pulled back). It is perched on the arm of its handler, Vernon Moore, and is the most important participant in the day's hunting. Without the bird of prey, it would not be legal to flush out a fox using a pack of hounds. All that would be permissible would be the use of a pair of hounds to flush out a fox to be shot. Some hunts are using the latter exemption, but it is the presence of a bird of prey that permits the hounds to work as a pack of 30 or 40 - the essence of hunting, in the view of connoisseurs. "The exemptions in the act allow us to do an awful lot," admits Mayo, "and the mood is much more optimistic now than it was. For so long we had the ban hanging over us, and then the worst that could ever happen happened. Now we're over that huge hump. We've survived two seasons, and for the first time in years there is a real prospect of my grandchildren being able to hunt. Meltdown didn't happen." ....
The hunts are using every grey area in the act. What they cannot afford is a chase across open country, which would be a clear breach of the law, might be witnessed or photographed, and could end up with the huntsman in court. Overall, it's a mess, a farce, a typical British fudge that leaves no one happy except the lawyers......
The ultimate objective, of course, is repeal, and for the hunters there is a knight on a white charger on the horizon. David Cameron has pledged that, if he becomes prime minister, he will allow another free vote on the issue. With a Conservative majority, backed by a group of Labour pro-hunters and about half the Lib Dems, the hunts are convinced they will get repeal. All they have to do is sit tight and live with pseudo-hunting for the next four or five years....
Seed says the present chaos helps no one - least of all the foxes, which are being shot in far greater numbers than when farmers left them for hunts to deal with. "The hunts are continuing; the hounds are continuing; all those misguided parliamentarians have done is condemn a far greater number of foxes to a slower and longer death." When hounds kill, hunters argue, death is instantaneous. A man with a rifle may only wound a fox, leaving it to die lingeringly.
SHOOTING EAGLES OK IF YOU ARE AN INDIAN?
Federal prosecutors are appealing a judge's decision to dismiss a case against an American Indian who shot a bald eagle for use in a tribal religious ceremony. U.S. Attorney Matt Mead filed notice Wednesday that he will ask a federal appeals court in Denver to overturn U.S. District Judge William F. Downes' dismissal of a case against Winslow Friday, 22, a Northern Arapaho Indian who acknowledged shooting a bald eagle in March 2005.
Friday could have been sentenced to up to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine if convicted.
Eagle feathers are a key element of ceremonies of the Northern Arapaho and many other tribes. Downes said in his ruling last month that the government's actions have shown "callous indifference" to American Indian religious beliefs.
Friday's lawyers argued that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service generally refuses to grant permits allowing tribal members to kill bald eagles, even though federal regulations say such permits should be available.
"It is clear to this court that the government has no intention of accommodating the religious beliefs of Native Americans except on its own terms and in its own good time," Downes wrote.
Friday said in a telephone interview that other Indians complain that a federal repository that dispenses eagles killed by cars or power lines works too slowly and sometimes provides remains of poor quality. The judge said Friday's tribe also argued that such birds are not considered "clean" for ceremonies, and that the hunting of a bald eagle is in itself a religious act.
"The way it was told to me, the eagle takes the prayers that we have here, takes them up to the creator," Friday said. "That's one main reason that we believe in it so much, it does that. It's an offering -- you want it to be nice."
More than 5,000 American Indians are on a waiting list to receive eagles from the National Eagle Repository in Colorado, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife papers filed in Friday's case. The agency gets only about 1,000 dead eagles per year, meaning applicants can expect to wait about 3 1/2 years for an entire carcass to be sent to them, according to the court documents.
About 7,700 nesting pairs of bald eagles live in the lower 48 states, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates. The species was reclassified from endangered to threatened in 1995.
Robert Rogers, Friday's attorney, said he doesn't think the ruling will allow American Indians to declare open season on the birds, but that the case highlighted problems they were having obtaining permits.
"If a person did not try to work with this permitting process that has now been outed, I think he might not succeed in this motion, and he would probably be convicted for doing the same thing," Rogers said.
TOLERANCE AND OPEN-MINDEDNES -- SAN FRANCISCO STYLE
No tolerance for military training
The sounds of staccato drumming and boots pounding on pavement filled the midday air Saturday on Market Street as both veterans and civilians turned out under cloudy skies to pay homage to the nation's armed forces at San Francisco's Veterans Day parade. Traveling west from Second Street to City Hall, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Veterans for Peace, Filipino American veterans and others proudly represented their military comrades. The marching units, drum corps and drill teams from seven San Francisco high schools kept the tempo upbeat. Onlookers included tourists, locals out for a stroll and shoppers, but veterans and the parents of students in the high school JROTC paid close attention as the procession strode by.....
Ray Smith, an Army Vietnam War veteran who runs the JROTC program at Mission High School, said that he and other former soldiers believe that the military cannot abandon the mission in Iraq. "Rumsfeld never should have been in charge, but now we can either run like cowards or we can stay until we get the job done," Smith said. "Even though it was a bad idea in the first place, we have to try to get back our credibility in the world ... all we can do is try."
The other issue troubling Smith was the strong possibility that the San Francisco school board will decide Tuesday to discontinue the JROTC program at Mission High and six other San Francisco high schools at the end of the school year.
A majority of board members say the benefits of the 90-year-old program are not worth the association with the U.S. military, an institution they consider discriminatory, homophobic and at odds with the mission of public education. Nearly 1,600 San Francisco cadets go through JROTC roll call each day. "There's a lot of mixed emotion on campus right now," Smith said. "A lot of the students are torn up about it. ... It's a real depressed situation."
Luis Aguilar, a member of the Galileo High School drum corps, said he can't imagine not having the drum corps next year. "I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning thinking about this parade; I love the drum corps," said Aguilar, who is 17. Danielle Meskell sat on the steps of City Hall and watched her son Thomas, 14, march as part of the Galileo JROTC unit as the parade came to a close. Meskell, 37, who also participated in JROTC at Galileo, but did not serve in the military, said she hopes the school board decides to preserve the programs. "The kids learn leadership, they learn how to present themselves and apply themselves; it's a very good thing for them."
After 90 years in San Francisco high schools, the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps must go, the San Francisco school board decided Tuesday night. The board voted 4-2 to eliminate the popular program, phasing it out over two years. Dozens of JROTC cadets at the board meeting burst into tears or covered their faces after the votes were cast. "We're really shocked,'' said fourth-year Cadet Eric Chu, a senior at Lowell High School, his eyes filling with tears. "It provided me with a place to go.''
15 November, 2006
A straight-talking black bishop of the church of England
The Archbishop of York has launched a withering attack on BBC bias, the chattering classes and the consumerism surrounding Christmas. Dr John Sentamu also questioned the right of Muslim women to wear the veil in public, saying it did not "conform to norms of decency". Dr Sentamu, who ranks second in the Anglican church hierarchy, used an interview to rail against what he described as the destruction of Britain's Christian heritage by the wilfulness of the chattering classes.
Some of his strongest comments were reserved for the BBC, which he claimed was biased against the Church of England. "We get more knocks. They can do to us what they dare not do to the Muslims," he said. "We are fair game because they can get away with it. We don't go down there and say, `We are going to bomb your place.' It is not within our nature."
The Ugandan-born cleric, 57, said that Britain's minorities could not expect society to be reconfigured around them. When asked whether it was right for Muslim women in Britain to wear the full veil in every aspect of their lives he replied: "Muslim scholars would say three things. First, does it conform to norms of decency? Secondly, does it render you more secure? And thirdly, what kind of Islam are you projecting by wearing it? "I think in the British context it renders you less secure because you stick out and it brings you unwelcome attention. On the first question, I don't think it does conform.
"You know, when I visit Orthodox synagogues I never take a cross. When I go into Muslim mosques I take it off. When I go into a Sikh temple I cover my head. And I can't simply say, `Take me as I am, whether you like it or not'." "I think the thing is in British society you can wear what you want, but you can't expect British society to be reconfigured around you. No minority can expect to impose this on the public or civic life."
The Archbishop's comments put him at odds with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who has defended the right of Muslim women to wear the full veil, arguing that it would be politically dangerous to ban visible signs of faith.
Dr Sentamu's views on society's rejection of Christian heritage will probably be shared by the majority of the Church's senior clerics. He criticised the consumerism that surrounds Christmas, highlighting the recent arrival of a Chinese cargo ship laden with consumer items. Dr Sentamu said that Christmas should be a more charitable occasion. "Do we need those toys?" he asked. "I would suggest that this Advent we should be eating less and not spending so much. Give up a little bit and find charities that give clean water.
"Also, support our farmers, buy more products from this country, If you lose farmers, you are going to lose this green and pleasant land."
Perhaps his strongest criticism was reserved for those who rejected the country's Christian heritage. The Archbishop, who had trained as a lawyer in Uganda before fleeing Idi Amin's rule in 1974, said: "When I was in Uganda, everything that was British was the best. If you went to a shop to buy a ruler, you looked for one that said `Made in Britain'. But now this country disbelieves itself in an amazing way. "It almost dislikes its own culture. It doesn't realise that the arts, music, buildings have grown out of a strong Christian tradition. John Betjeman would be shocked that the nation is not interested in helping preserve these things."
He claimed in an interview with today's Daily Mail that the urban liberal elite were to blame. "They see themselves as holding the flag for Britain and that Britain is definitely secular and atheist. I want them to have their say, but not to lord it over the rest of us."
Dr Sentamu also said that parental neglect of children was leading to children's behavioural problems that could not be blamed on schools. "Once children have reached 11 and you have not been with them, then you have lost them. That is the difference between what happens in a Jewish home or a Muslim home, where the raising of children is paramount," he said.
ON THE BBC
"We get more knocks. They can do to us what they dare not do to the Muslims. We are fair game because they can get away with it. We don't go down there and say, `We are going to bomb your place'. It is not within our nature."
ON THE VEIL
"I think the thing is in British society you can wear what you want, but you can't expect British society to be reconfigured around you. No minority can expect to impose this on the public or civic life."
ON THE `CHATTERING CLASSES'
"They see themselves as holding the flag for Britain and that Britain is definitely secular and atheist. I want them to have their say, but not to lord it over the rest of us."
Christian charity bans Christmas themed children's gifts
Christian charity Samaritan's Purse fears anything relating to Jesus may offend Muslims
It is a Christian charity bringing Christmas cheer to needy children abroad. So its decision to ban Jesus, God and anything else connected with its own faith has been greeted with little short of puzzlement. Operation Christmas Child, run by the charity Samaritan's Purse, sends festive packages to deprived youngsters in countries ravaged by war and famine. Donors are asked to pack shoeboxes with a cuddly toy, a toothbrush and toothpaste, soap and flannel, notepads, colouring books and crayons - but nothing to do with Christmas. Stories from the Bible, images of Jesus and any other Christian literature are expressely forbidden - in case Muslims are offended.
Yesterday the charity's policy of censoring its own faith was described as political correctness gone mad. Last Christmas, Britons filled 1.13 million shoeboxes for Samaritan's Purse to send to children abroad. But Barbara Hill, who works at the worldwide charity's UK headquarters in Buckhurst Hill, Essex, said: "Anything we find in the boxes which has a religious nature will be removed. "If a box was opened by a Muslim child in a Muslim country they may be offended so we try to avoid religious images." The charity has also banned war-related items such as Action Man-type figures, as well as chocolate and cake.
Yesterday the policy was condemned as "bizarre". John Midgley, cofounder of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, said: "It seems extraordinary that a Christian charity is so concerned about political correctness that it is banning itself from its own core values. "We have members from all faiths who would be appalled at this patronising sort of attitude." Mike Slade, the Rural Dean of Locking, Somerset, added: "Personally I think it is a great shame that we can't share the gift of Christmas which comes from the Christian faith with children all over the world. "I think a number of Muslim people would respect Christians sharing their faith as they would accept respect from us. Political correctness is increasingly creeping into many spheres of life. We are very sad to hear about this."
A Church of England spokesman said: "We are very clear that in Britain, Muslims are not offended by Christians celebrating Christmas." But he added: "In other parts of the world, in Muslim countries, if Muslims have strong values that would regard this as a hostile act, it is different. "Ideally, a child would receive a present with a Madonna and Child card, but if that is not possible, it is more important than the aid gets through than the Christian message."
The appeal sends shoe boxes from Britain to children in countries including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Romania, Serbia, Sudan and Mozambique. Although no Christian literature is included in the boxes, the charity does separately distribute Christmas stories from the Bible and encourages Bible study in areas where it gives toys out. A spokesman for Samaritan's Purse, which was introduced to Britain by evangelist Billy Graham and is run internationally by his son Franklin, said: "Christianity motivates many of our supporters to help children in need. We are a Christian charity and that's about helping people. "But it's our policy not to put religious, political or military items in boxes which go to areas of different cultures. "All shoeboxes are checked in the UK warehouses in case someone has ignored the instruction and put such an item into a shoebox and, if found, any such item is removed."
Devoutly Christian MP Ann Widdecombe said: "Either this is being done in the name of Christ or it isn't. This is Christmas, a Christian festival. If it's being done for Christmas, there is no reason on earth why they should not have Christian symbols." Last year, Lambeth Council in South London renamed its Christmas street decorations 'Winter Lights' to avoid offending non-Christians, while several years ago, Birmingham City Council notoriously rebranded the Christmas holidays 'Winterval'.
Britain's latest "human rights" nonsense
ALMOST 200 criminals who were forced to stop taking drugs in jail have won payouts of up to ś5,000 each from the Prison Service. The awards were made after the Home Office "reluctantly" settled out of court a test case brought by six inmates. The payouts will go to 198 applicants and not just the six involved in the test case who alleged that "cold turkey" withdrawal treatment forced upon them amounted to assault.
The Home Office defended the decision to settle the case out of court, which was taken on the advice of Government lawyers who warned that the Prison Service was likely to lose. A Home Office spokeswoman said: "It was decided, however reluctantly, to settle these cases in order to minimise costs to the taxpayer. "These cases concern action against medical practice in prison which dates back to the early 1990s."
Six inmates and former inmates who used heroin and other opiates were granted leave to sue the Home Office in a test case this year. They alleged that the "cold turkey" withdrawal they were forced to undergo amounted to assault.
David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, said the case set a disastrous precedent and accused John Reid, the Home Secretary, of failing to protect the public. Mr Davis said: "Presumably the Government does not want to be embarrassed by losing such a case under its own human rights legislation. "Drugs are a scourge on society and completely undermine all our other efforts to fight crime. By doing this Mr Reid would be letting down the taxpayer, the victims of these offenders and the drug addicts themselves. The precedent would be disastrous."
Ann Widdecombe, the Tory former Prisons Minister, said: "It is an insult to every victim and every law-abiding person. "As far as I'm concerned there is no human right to continue a drug habit when you go to prison. This Prison Service will be paying out money it should not be."
The prisoners were bringing the action based on trespass, because they say that they did not consent to the treatment, and for alleged clinical negligence. The criminals also claimed breaches under Articles 3 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which ban discrimination, torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and Article 8, which enshrines the right to respect for private life.
A Saudi court has sentenced a gang rape victim to 90 lashes of the whip because she was alone in a car with a man to whom she was not married.
The sentence was passed at the end of a trial in which the Al Qateef high criminal court convicted four Saudis convicted of the rape, sentencing them to prison terms and a total of 2,230 lashes. The four, all married, were sentenced respectively to five years and 1,000 lashes, four years and 800 lashes, four years and 350 lashes, and one year and 80 lashes. A fifth, married, man who was stated to have filmed the rape on his mobile phone still faces investigation. Two others alleged to have taken part in the rape evaded capture.
Saudi courts take marital status into account in sexual crimes. A male friend of the rape victim was also sentenced to 90 lashes for being alone with her in the car.
The court heard that the victim and her friend were followed by the assailants to their car, kidnapped and taken to a remote farm, where the raping occurred. The victim was quoted by Okaz newspaper as saying she had expected harsher penalties for the assailants, especially as they had pleaded not guilty.
Her husband and family said that they would appeal to the court Saturday for harsher penalties for a crime that has shocked public opinion in Saudi Arabia and been the subject of months of debate.
14 November, 2006
Martini Moms toast a rebellion against parental correctness
When Laura Hunter welcomes up to half a dozen fellow mothers to her suburban New Jersey home for an afternoon childrens play hour, she follows a strict routine. The children are ushered into the playroom or garden and given cups filled with apple or orange juice. Then Hunter gets out her real glasses and pours margaritas for the mums.
They have become known as the Mommies Who Drink, after the title of a new book by Brett Paesel, a California writer who urges mothers not to sacrifice their lives to child-rearing. Their cocktail of choice is the momtini a potent Martini designed to make mothers feel better about the hours they are obliged to spend responsibly sober.
To the chagrin of Americas guardians of rigid parental correctness which frowns on the intake of alcohol anywhere near anyone under 21 increasing numbers of bored, frustrated or just plain thirsty mothers are flaunting their cocktail playgroups as a symbol of their liberation from domestic drudgery. I adore my children and feel fortunate to have been able to stay home with them, but I also love Martinis, shoes, novels and a well-used swear word, said Susan Wagner, who describes herself on her Friday Playdate blog as a martini-swilling, shoe-shopping, writer mom-of-two.
Melissa Summers, a Michigan mother who invented the term momtini, attracted so many readers to her Suburban Bliss blog with accounts of serving bloody marys at childrens playgroups that she now sells T-shirts, coffee mugs and underwear emblazoned with the logo.
These arent mothers who are getting wasted, noted J D Griffioen, a contributor to Bloggingbaby.com. The drink is a symbol that they havent completely let go of who they are, and havent let their kids overrun their lives entirely.
The trend has stirred concern and criticism from psychologists and child development specialists who have warned that mothers are in danger of becoming alcoholics and their children are at risk from drunken driving on the way home. Conservative parents are appalled that their children might be exposed to other playgroup mothers swigging chilled chardonnay.
Keep drinking during playdates, sneered one blog contributor. Then maybe you can all get together in the ER (emergency room) a few years from now when one of your kids wraps their car around a tree in a drunken stupor . . . like their moms taught them to do.
Yet other mothers see the trend as a long-overdue backlash against helicopter parenting over-protective parents who hover over every phase of their childrens lives.
There is no guilt in craving social situations that arent wholly centred around everyones children, said Christie Mellor, whose book The Three-Martini Playdate was intended as a tongue-in-cheek riposte to over-obsessive parents.
She said she was driven to rebel when she attended a pyjama-rama party at a California bookshop. It was a Friday evening and the parents as well as the children were dressed in pyjamas for story reading.
I didnt wait all this time to become a grown-up so that I could spend my weekend nights in my pyjamas singing along with a stuffed bunny, Mellor said. She added that she was not advocating that mothers drink three Martinis her book was meant to be a metaphor for having more fun in your life and having a grown-up life.Source
Addressing the rising tide of British anti-Semitism, the British columnist Nick Cohen recently wrote, "Anti-Semitism isn't a local side effect of a dirty war over a patch of land smaller than Wales. It's everywhere, from Malaysia to Morocco, and it has arrived here. If you challenge liberal orthodoxy, your argument cannot be debated on its merits. You have to be in the pay of global media moguls. You have to be a Jew."
Robert Wistrich, a scholar of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, also examines the history of modern anti-Semitism in Britain, pointing out that "Great Britain is today second only to France in serious anti-Semitic incidents reported among European countries." Wistrich documents the persistence and wide reach of anti-Jewish mainstream prejudice, particularly among the media and the upper echelons of British society - "the same group that supported Hitler in the 1930s."
Thus, the Muslim promotion of anti-Semitism in England has been very successful, perhaps because it has been able to graft onto longstanding, well-established British anti-Semitism. Most disturbing, "anti-Semitic sentiment is a part of mainstream discourse, continually resurfacing among the academic, political, and media elites," often taking the form of unsubstantiated, unreasoning criticism of Israel, while Arab terror is condoned or excused.
We should not be surprised. The Brits have never much liked Jews - their unwritten law being, "no Jew can be a gentleman" - and their greatest writers, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Dickens, T.S. Eliot, Kipling, even the sainted George Orwell, have all had their innings at Jew-bashing.
And now, the Israeli Jews are taking on, in the eyes of the Brits, and especially the British left, all the grossness that Shakespeare once imputed to Shylock: that they are bloody-minded, implacable killers of their helpless, innocent victims. The only difference between Shakespeare's portrait and that drawn by both the British extreme right and the left is that now Shylock goes armed: now he has his own country and his own army.
As long as the Jews were weak and dispossessed, the Brits limited themselves to well-bred anti-Semitism: snide references to "Sammies," and the like. But with the advent of Zionist pioneering, when Shylock started amassing land and collecting an arsenal, British cultural anti-Semitism escalated: it became politicized, and even militarized. The cycle of British wars against the Jews was initiated.
The British war effort was at the outset ambivalent, indecisive. From '36 to '39, when the Palestinian Arabs, upset by the influx of Jewish refugees from Hitler, started a three-year Intifada, the British Mandate authorities in Palestine alternated between grudging support of the embattled Jews and outright sabotage of their efforts at self-defense. On one hand, they made Jewish arms illegal, and forced the Hagana people to hide their store of antiquated rifles under kibbutz manure piles. On the other hand, they assigned one of their most brilliant field officers, Orde Wingate, to be a kind of T.E. Lawrence of the Jews, and to train them, in his Special Night Squads, in the arts of irregular warfare.
However, as the Brits mobilized for the coming war against Hitler, their policy makers resolved their ambivalence in favor of appeasing the Arabs, and outright hostility to the Jews. Together with Hitler, they acted so as to create the maximum tally of dead European Jews........
It appears that the game is afoot once again, with the task no longer out-sourced to Palestinians alone, but to the much larger body of radical Islamists now piling into Britain, all eager for the treat. The Brits still limit themselves to talk, but from all accounts, the chatter in the trendiest salons, at party congresses both of the Left and the Right, at A-List dinner parties and scholarly gatherings, has become obsessively, fiercely anti-Israel, anti-Zionist and at times frankly anti-Semitic, to the point where the received and conventional wisdom has it that Israel has no right to exist, and should be eliminated. Again, this genocidal act will presumably be left to radical Islam, or to Iran's nukes, while the British gentlefolk avert their eyes - or in a few cases, feast them.
The Brits tolerated Hitler's anti-Semitism because, out of fear, they wanted to appease him, and because many of them covertly shared his obsession with the Jews. They fostered Arab anti-Semitism as a way of keeping their access to Middle-Eastern oil, and later as a way of holding on to Palestine. But now, when there are fewer, obvious strategic reasons for their Jew-hatred, it appears to be more vigorous than ever. Explaining this, the Brits will cite the Jews' oppression of the Palestinians, and more recently, their punishment of Lebanon. In effect, they might hint, the Palestinians have become the body of Christ, and the Jews are up to their dirty tricks, crucifying him yet again in Palestine.
In effect, the Brits are telling us how compassionate they are, in contrast to those bloody Christ-killers. Bully for them; but as they stress Brit idealism, they avoid any mention of Brit fear - the fear of militant Islam that appears to be gripping all of Europe now, and that - I would suggest - is partially alleviated through anti-Semitism. The Brit's rationales for that anti-Semitism are designed to do them credit, as possessors of superior conscience, but they mask some smelly motives.
We have never truly appreciated the terror inspired by terror tactics - especially suicide bombing, and in particular the destruction of the Twin Towers. As the great towers collapsed into billowing smoke and fire, they called to mind the fearsome imagery of nuclear war, combined with the retributive judgment of Almighty God. Linked to such overwhelming images, the terrorists and their faith have become more terrifying than we are willing to admit.
But denied motives can still drive our acts and our ideas. Along with the rest of what is now being called "Eurabia," the Brits are soothing the Muslims among them by acts of appeasement. In 1938, they bought a year of peace by offering Czechoslovakia to Hitler; now, for a temporary peace, they offer Muslims a piece of the Jews who are like the unlucky passenger tossed from the sled to appease the ravening wolves. Once again, Albion may have found the cohort that will kill Jews for it, leaving the Brits, temporarily at least, "sans peur et sans reproche" - without fear and without blame.
The correctness of deafness
The Leftist "all men are equal" dogma now means that some deaf people refuse to recognize that they have a disability
Since last May, Gallaudet University, the world's only university designed entirely for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, has been rocked by protests over the selection of a new president. Jane K. Fernandes was scheduled to take over from I. King Jordan in January. On Oct. 29, after protesters shut down the Washington campus for more than two weeks, the board of trustees revoked Fernandes's appointment. This fiasco is a striking example of identity politics gone mad.
In 1988, protesters rebelled against the appointment of a hearing president, Elisabeth Singer, and demanded a deaf president (something Gallaudet had never had since its founding in 1864). Singer resigned , and Jordan was appointed in her place. Fernandes, the Gallaudet provost whom Jordan wanted to see as his replacement, is also deaf; but to some, "not deaf enough." She grew up lip-reading and speaking and learned sign language only as a graduate student.
In recent weeks, anti-Fernandes students and professors have denied that their objections had anything to do with her not being deaf enough, and have accused her of raising the issue to pose as a victim of political correctness. However, the Washington Post reports that the protesters backed off the "not deaf enough" complaint only when they realized that it wasn't likely to garner sympathy from the outside world. They focused instead on Fernandes's supposedly autocratic and intimidating leadership style and her alleged lack of interpersonal skills (one critic quoted by the Inside Higher Ed website even noted that she didn't smile enough). There were also vague charges that she is insufficiently committed to fighting racism. Yet none of these gripes seem sufficient to justify the passion that led to her ouster: the protests included hunger strikes and threats of violence. Some of the criticisms publicly leveled at Fernandes are overtly rooted in identity politics.
In a letter to the Post , Gallaudet English professor Kathleen M. Wood excoriated both Fernandes and Jordan for taking the position that Gallaudet is for all deaf students. This misguided inclusiveness, Wood asserted , had attracted deaf students who were "not integrating into Deaf culture" and resisting the use of sign language. She ended her letter by stating, "The new Gallaudet will not be for everyone." "Deaf culture" -- that's Deaf with a capital D -- has flourished at Gallaudet. It is a radical movement that views deafness not as a disability but as an oppressed minority status akin to race, and also as a unique linguistic culture. The movement holds that there is nothing wrong with being deaf, only with how society has treated deaf people.
Few would deny that, historically, deaf people and others with disabilities have endured stereotyping, bias, and unfairness. Much progress has been made toward seeing people with disabilities as whole individuals, toward focusing on what they can do, not on what they can't . But it's a leap from this understanding to the bizarre idea that the lack of hearing is no more a disability than being female or black. (Verbal communication aside, surely being unable to hear environmental sounds often places a person at a serious disadvantage.) The majority of deaf people do not belong to Deaf culture. It is estimated that at most a quarter of profoundly deaf people in the United States use sign language. Yet at many schools for the deaf, signing has been dogmatically treated as the only acceptable communication; children with some hearing have received little training in auditory and speaking skills. Deaf schools that promote "oralism" have been targeted for protests.
More harmful still, Deaf activists have railed against cochlear implants, which enable many deaf children to gain functional hearing; some deaf parents have denied implants to their children on ideological grounds. The activists also oppose research into cures for deafness through gene therapy and other means. To them, attempts to "fix" deafness amounts to nothing short of genocide.
Fernandes herself embraces Deaf culture, but she does not want it to be isolated from the hearing world or exclude those who don't meet purist standards of "Deafness." She also believes that the deaf community must deal honestly with the challenges posed by advances in medicine. When this sensible view is rejected under pressure from a handful of radicals, it is a testament to the madness that can prevail when oppressed-minority status becomes a weapon to silence critics.
13 November, 2006
Britain: CCTV picture 'infringes conwoman's human rights'
Jewellers in Kensington being targeted in their shops by a thief have been told not to put up warning pictures of the woman - because it would infringe her human rights. The latest trader to fall victim to the con artist was even told by police to detain the thief herself.
CCTV footage shows the woman distracting a young shop assistant as she pockets thousands of pounds of expensive rings and necklaces. Posing as a wealthy woman from Dubai, she snatches jewellery after asking junior assistants to fetch or wrap up other items. She then says she has to get a credit card from her driver and disappears - only for shocked staff to discover that stock is missing. Jewellery designer Isabel Kurtenbach, 38, became the latest victim when 2,000 pounds of white gold and silver rings, necklaces and earrings were stolen on Tuesday afternoon. The thief struck when she left a 24-year-old assistant in charge of her shop - Isabel Kurtenbach Design in Kensington Church Walk.
Ms Kurtenbach said: "I know the woman well, all the shops around here do. She knows I will ask her to leave, so she comes when I'm not here. She is well-spoken, well-dressed and claims to be from Dubai. She says she is very rich and owns lots of property there." Ms Kurtenbach added: "It is only when you look closely and see her teeth and fingernails - which are in a terrible state - that you realise it's all a lie."
Police have still not collected the CCTV footage from Ms Kurtenbach, but she was advised by a Pc over the phone to try to hold the woman herself, dial 999 and wait for officers to arrive. Ms Kurtenbach said: "I could not believe it - this woman is a criminal. If I tried to stop her she might attack me, she might have a knife."
Other traders are so sick of being targeted they have asked Ms Kurtenbach to give them a picture of her that can be put up in their shops to warn staff. But when Ms Kurtenbach asked the police officer if she could do this she was told it would be an infringement of the woman's human rights.
Michelle Manguette owns the nearby Manguette Jewellery store and told how the same woman stole items worth 3,000 pounds four years ago. She said: "The woman asked to see lots of stock and then said she was going to get her card from her driver. Then she disappeared. "She comes around every year, but won't bother trying if I'm here because she knows I know her. She looks to see if an assistant is here on their own." The woman also visited Manguette and another jewellery shop in the area in the latest attempt but was asked to leave.
The owner of a nearby clothes shop, who asked not to be named, told how 1,000 pounds of cashmere jumpers were recently taken from her shop. She said: "She came in and took some stuff into the changing rooms. Then she said she was going to get her credit card from her driver. "But she never came back and then I noticed the jumpers were gone. I was furious and went after her, but it was too late."
A Scotland Yard spokesman confirmed officers were investigating the latest theft.
Retail Giants Wal-Mart, Target Rediscover Christmas
Post lifted from Slapstick Politics
In a sign that this week's GOP loss had nothing to do with a tide against conservative values, retail giants Wal-Mart, Target, and Macy's discovered their hearts and bottom-lines were two sizes too small and have rediscovered Christmas (video):Wal-Mart made clear Thursday that it's kicking off the "Christmas" season.You mean that people have the freedom to acknowledge Christianity while still being inclusive, the way the founders intended? What a shock!
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other retailers are giving the holiday's name top billing once more, replacing the presumably more politically correct and recently -ubiquitous "Happy Holidays."
The moves come after criticism last season by Christian groups, angry and worried that in losing the greeting, the stores were weakening the holiday's meaning.
Minneapolis-based Target Corp. was criticized early last season by the Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Association for using the phrase "Happy Holidays" in advertising.
. . .
Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart is encouraging employees to offer up whichever holiday greetings are more comfortable or appropriate, from "Merry Christmas" to "Happy Kwanzaa."
Target has issued no greeting guidelines to its employees, Heath said.
"Team members can say whatever they feel is appropriate to guests," she said.
They also found out how bad ignoring Christmas is for business:Wal-Mart has told its employees that it's OK to once again greet shoppers by saying "Merry Christmas" this holiday season instead of the generic "Happy Holidays."How will Wal-Mart, Target, and others spread the Christmas cheer this year? Here's how:
CNN confirmed that Wal-Mart will announce Thursday that it plans to use the phrase "Merry Christmas" in products and around its stores this holiday season.
The announcement comes a year after religious groups such as The American Family Association and The Catholic League boycotted retailers including Wal-Mart last holiday season for excluding the word "Christmas" from products sold in stores.
"We, quite frankly, have learned a lesson from last year," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Linda Blakley told USA Today in a separate report. "We're not afraid to use the term 'Merry Christmas.' We'll use it early, and we'll use it often."This holiday shopping season, Wal-Mart's specific references to Christmas will include:Last year, John Gibson's book The War on Christmas highlighted the growing PC "holidays" appellation and a creeping disdain by liberals, atheists and ACLU types for all things "Christmas". It appears the battle has shifted as marketing directors realized that given this country's large Christian population, Christmas should be embraced, not rejected or supplanted by meaningless platitudes like "happy holidays". These stores will recognize the other holidays occurring at this time of year, and will have products available for them as well.
A 60 percent increase in seasonal merchandise selections renamed from "Holiday" and labeled with "Christmas."
Renaming of the The Holiday Shop to The Christmas Shop, an area with items for shoppers' Christmas decorating needs.
Addition of "Days till Christmas" countdown signs.
Customers will see Santa and "Merry Christmas" on gift cards as gift-giving options this Christmas.
Christmas carols piped in stores throughout the holiday season.
Employees at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club are being encouraged to greet customers utilizing various glad tidings inclusive of, but not limited to, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah and Feliz Navidad.
At Walmart.com, there will be dedicated pages for Christmas and other holidays, including Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.
All ads but one will use "Merry Christmas" as a tagline.
Ads in Spanish will wish shoppers "Feliz Navidad."
Some departments will be renamed - for example, what was "Holiday Music" last year becomes "Christmas Music."
Adding Christmas signage in all of its department stores.
Playing up Christmas this year in its TV, print and radio advertising.
The knee-jerk elimination of any reference to Christmas, especially in the retail context, for the sake of a handful of thin-skinned individuals unable to coexist with a few (million) dusty old Christians and in the name of multicultural/political correctness/diversity thuggishness is short-sighted financially.
Glad to see that the bottom line, as well as a rediscovery of every retailers' target market--Christmas shoppers--puts Christmas back in the stores, where it belongs!Glad to see retailers acknowledge the views of one of the largest segments of their consumer population, and treat them with respect. The phrase is freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. That is, of course, until the ACLU finds out about this nefarious "Christmas" scheme.
Merry Christmas! (only 44 days!)
Britain: The hidden white victims of racism
Last weeks horrifying trial of three Asians is part of a worrying trend, says Brendan Montague in the London "Times"
No one who saw Angela Donald giving her dignified statement that justice had been done outside the High Court in Edinburgh as the racist murderers of her 15-year-old son were jailed last week could feel anything but sympathy. For Margaret Massey there was more, though a sense of fellow-feeling and anger.
Kriss Donald was snatched off the street by an Asian gang and subjected to a terrible ordeal: beaten, stabbed, doused in petrol and set ablaze. Masseys son Lee, a rugby player, was also the subject of a racially motivated attack when he was set upon by a gang of Iraqi asylum seekers out looking for someone to hurt. He and two friends were stabbed in a car park in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, in October 2003. Lee was then thrown into the air and suffered devastating brain injuries when one of the gang used a car to run him down. Three years later he has not fully recovered.
Massey still feels aggrieved that in her view the police inquiry was hindered by political correctness because officers feared that reporting that a white man had been so brutally attacked by asylum seekers would further fuel racial tensions following several such brawls in the area.
The police didnt charge 13 members of the gang even though I believe there was some evidence, she says.
If our Lee had run over one of the Iraqis he would have been arrested right away and sent to prison for the rest of his life. The police are nervous when white people are attacked. In this area this is happening more and more often.
The killing of Stephen Lawrence 13 years ago sparked off an orgy of soul-searching throughout liberal Britain.
But we have never quite acknowledged that violence comes from both sides. Gavin Hopley, 19, was kicked to death by up to eight Asian men in Oldham in February 2002. Six men were convicted of violent disorder and theft offences but no one has been convicted of his murder.
An Asian gang was also responsible for the violent killing of 17-year-old Ross Parker, who was savagely stabbed with hunting knives during an attack in Peterborough in 2001. David Lees, 23, was run over and killed during a fight between whites and a gang of Asians in Prestwich, Manchester, only last month.
There has been numerous inquiries and new legislation since the Lawrence case and almost everyone concerned with race relations will confirm that policing in cases involving race has improved immeasurably since that tragic event.
However, the debate about the white victims of racist attacks seems to have progressed no further in the past 10 years because of fears of political correctness and the threat of the far right making political capital out of personal tragedy.
Sir Ian Blair, Britains most senior police officer, even attacked the press as institutionally racist in January this year because cases such as the killing of Tom ap Rhys Pryce, the solicitor, had gained more publicity than the equally terrible death on the same day of Balbir Matharu, who had tried to stop thieves ripping the radio from his car.
An extensive search of national and regional newspaper reports, however, shows that cases involving black and minority ethnic victims are widely reported, while there is an almost total boycott of stories involving the white victims of similar attacks. Is this because newspapers fear their reports appearing on BNP leaflets, or because the police are less likely to issue appeals for help?
Peter Fahy, chief constable of Cheshire police and spokesman on race issues for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: A lot of police officers and other professionals feel almost the best thing to do is to try and avoid [discussing such attacks] for fear of being criticised. This is not healthy.
The silence means it is impossible to know how many white people are victims of racist attacks in todays multicultural Britain and whether they are right to feel aggrieved that the attacks they suffer do not appear to get the same recognition as those of black victims.Source
BRITAIN: CAT CORRECTNESS DEFEATED
A government guide that tells pet owners to provide private lavatories for their cats - and "mental stimulation" to prevent them getting bored -is to be withdrawn. The draft code of conduct for cat owners was drawn up by the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) alongside the Animal Welfare Bill, which received royal assent in Parliament yesterday. But after protests by MPs, the department admitted that it was scrapping the document because it was "over the top" and too "prescriptive".
The code states that a breach of its recommendations would not constitute an offence in itself but would be taken into account when judgments were made on whether an offence of cruelty had been committed. The 17-page document lays down rules that cat owners should abide by to ensure the health, safety and happiness of their pets. It says cats "need to go to the lavatory somewhere where they can behave naturally and feel comfortable". Like humans, it says, they value their privacy. "Your cat should have somewhere private to go to the toilet with sufficient clean litter." Equally vital, its says, is the need to provide entertainment and mental stimulation to cats. "Cats that are kept indoors or prefer this lifestyle rely on you to provide everything for them. "You should ensure your cat gets enough mental stimulation from you and from its environment so that it does not become bored and frustrated."
Ann Widdecombe, MP and cat-lover, who protested about the "lunacy" of the code in the House of Commons this week, welcomed its withdrawal. The former Tory Home Office minister said it was the product of a government that interfered in all aspects of life. Miss Widdecombe, who has two cats, Arbuthnot, 12, and Pugwash, 11, said she was also flabbergasted to read in the code that all cat owners should be aware of the exact weight of their animal if they were to be safe from prosecution. She told MPs: "I am now being told that I commit an offence if I cannot say - which I cannot - how much my cat should weigh in order to keep me within the law, relevant to its bone structure, its size and its breed."
A spokesman for Defra said the draft code would be replaced by a new document that would be more thoroughly thought through. It would not be available until 2008. A similar code would be produced for dog owners. "We start with a clean slate," said the spokesman. "This draft document was over the top."
The main body of the Animal Welfare Bill, which received wide support on all sides of the House, allows the police and other organisations such as the RSPCA to intervene in cases where people fail in their duty of care to animals. Previously they could intervene only in cases where animals were suffering.
12 November, 2006
AMAZING LOSS OF BASIC VALUES IN BUREAUCRATIC BRITAIN
Judges have attacked a fire authority which asked for an injured fireman to be denied compensation because he "should not have attempted to save a driver's life".
John Pennington was involved in a desperate bid to free a trapped driver following a multiple pile-up on the M25. During the rescue attempt the experienced firefighter lost part of his left forefinger while using a power ram in a last-ditch effort to save the stricken motorist, who later died.
He was awarded compensation, but Surrey fire officials said Mr Pennington should never have been involved in the rescue attempt as he was not trained to use the equipment. Appealing against the pay-out, Surrey Fire Service and Surrey County Council have spent thousands of pounds arguing firemen must put their own safety first, even if that means abandoning accident victims to their fate. But judges at the Court of Appeal yesterday dismissed the claim as "unrealistic", saying Mr Pennington had "acted reasonably" in attempting to save the driver's life.
The 46-year-old arrived at the crash scene to find a critically-injured lorry driver trapped in his crushed cab. After a colleague was "overwhelmed by fatigue and exhaustion", Mr Pennington stepped in to take over the power ram which was being used to straighten out the mangled metal. He had never used the equipment before and his hand got caught in its workings, injuring his finger despite the fact he wore protective gloves.
Last year a judge awarded Mr Pennington, of Selsey, West Sussex, 3,115 pounds compensation for the injury. But county fire officials have since spent several times the sum on an unsuccessful legal bid to strip the firefighter of his pay-out.
Rejecting the appeal, Lord Justice Pill said: "Without any training or experience on the ram, Mr Pennington took over the urgent attempt to save life. "I find quite unacceptable the authorities approach to their duties as employers in such circumstances."
Fire officials claimed it was Mr Pennington's decision to use the ram and that firefighters "must put their own health and safety first, however unpalatable the consequences." The judge added: "The implication is that Mr Pennington ought not to have taken over from the leading hand and should not have attempted to save the driver's life. "Not only is it unrealistic to conclude that Mr Pennington should not have continued with the rescue attempt, but he did what was expected of him. On the evidence, he acted reasonably." Agreeing that the authorities' appeal should be dismissed, Lady Justice Arden said: "It was a situation of great stress, with the life of a road traffic victim at stake. "There is no doubt that the fire and council authorities must have expected firemen to be called upon to use this machinery in some fairly horrific road accidents. "They must have expected him to do his best in this situation and he was entitled to training to help him do so without risk to himself. "On that basis it was not only Mr Pennington's own devotion to duty, without more, that was causative of this injury. The lack of training played a role too."
Motoring campaigners condemned the authorities' stance and encouraged people to come to the aid of stricken drivers. "Everyone should do their utmost to save an injured motorist and Mr Pennington should be commended for his actions, not dragged through the courts," said a spokesman for the Association of British Drivers. "The fire and council authorities' approach is ridiculous. They should be encouraging people to save lives, not discouraging them."
A DELUDED MARCH TO OBLIVION?
European nations protesting Saddam Hussein's death sentence, as they protested against forcing secrets out of captured terrorists, should tell us all we need to know about the internal degeneration of western society, where so many confuse squeamishness with morality. Two generations of being insulated from the reality of the international jungle, of not having to defend their own survival because they have been living under the protection of the American nuclear umbrella, have allowed too many Europeans to grow soft and indulge themselves in illusions about brutal realities and dangers. The very means of their salvation have been demonized for decades in anti-nuclear movements and protesters calling themselves "anti-war." But there is a huge difference between being anti-war in words and being anti-war in deeds.
How many times, in its thousands of years of history, has Europe gone 60 years without a major war, as it has since World War II? That peace has been due to American nuclear weapons, which was all that could deter the Soviet Union's armies from marching right across Europe to the Atlantic Ocean. Having overwhelming military force on your side, and letting your enemies know that you have the guts to use it, is being genuinely anti-war. Chamberlain's appeasement brought on World War II and Reagan's military buildup ended the Cold War.
The famous Roman peace of ancient times did not come from negotiations, cease-fires, or pretty talk. It came from the Roman Empire's crushing defeat and annihilation of Carthage, which served as a warning to anyone else who might have had any bright ideas about messing with Rome. Only after the Roman Empire began to lose its own internal cohesion, patriotism and fighting spirit over the centuries did it begin to succumb to its external enemies and finally collapse. That seems to be where western civilization is heading today.
Internal cohesion? Not only does much of today's generation in western societies have a "do your own thing" attitude, defying rules and flouting authority are glorified and Balkanization through "multiculturalism" has become dogma.
Patriotism? Not only is patriotism disdained, the very basis for pride in one's country and culture is systematically undermined in our educational institutions at all levels. The achievements of western civilization are buried in histories that portray every human sin found here as if they were peculiarities of the west. The classic example is slavery, which existed all over the world for thousands of years and yet is incessantly depicted as if it was a peculiarity of Europeans enslaving Africans. Barbary pirates alone brought twice as many enslaved Europeans to North Africa as there were Africans brought in bondage to the United States and the American colonies from which it was formed. How many schools and colleges are going to teach that, going against political correctness and undermining white guilt? How many people have any inkling that it was precisely western civilization which eventually turned against slavery and began stamping it out when non-western societies still saw nothing wrong with it?
How can a generation be expected to fight for the survival of a culture or a civilization that has been trashed in its own institutions, taught to tolerate even the intolerance of other cultures brought into its own midst, and conditioned to regard any instinct to fight for its own survival as being a "cowboy"? Western nations that show any signs of standing up for self-preservation are rare exceptions. The United States and Israel are the only western nations which have no choice but to rely on self-defense -- and both are demonized, not only by our enemies but also by many in other western nations.
Australia recently told its Muslim population that, if they want to live under Islamic law, then they should leave Australia. That makes three western nations that have not yet completely succumbed to the corrosive and suicidal trends of our times. If and when we all succumb, will the epitaph of western civilization say that we had the power to annihilate our enemies but were so paralyzed by confusion that we ended up being annihilated ourselves?
Dutch to ban Muslim veils?
The Dutch government has announced that it would seek a way of banning the wearing of burqas and other Muslim face veils in public places, possibly becoming the first European country to impose such a ruling. The announcement comes at a time when the debate on such veils and whether they prevent Muslims from integrating has gathered momentum across Europe and drawn comments from leaders such as Britain's Tony Blair and Italy's Romano Prodi.
Last December Dutch lawmakers voted in favour of a proposal by far-right politician Geert Wilders to outlaw face-coverings, partly on security grounds, and asked Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk to examine the feasibility of such a ban. Ms Verdonk said the fact veils were worn for religious reasons could bring new legislation into conflict with Dutch religious freedom laws, but signalled the government would try to find a way around this. "The cabinet finds the wearing of a burqa undesirable ... but cannot at present enforce a total ban," she said after a cabinet meeting.
Existing legislation already limits the wearing of burqas and other total coverings in public transport or schools, Ms Verdonk said, but the cabinet would discuss imposing as wide a ban as possible next week. "The government will search for the possibility to provide a ban," her spokeswoman told Reuters.
The Muslim community estimates that only about 50 women in the Netherlands wear the head-to-toe burqa or the niqab, a face veil that conceals everything but the eyes.
The Dutch may have been among the first to legalise cannabis, prostitution and euthanasia - earning them a reputation for tolerance - but in recent years they have pushed through some of Europe's toughest entry and integration laws. Social and religious tensions have escalated in the last few years, exacerbated by the murder of film director Theo van Gogh by a Dutch-Moroccan militant in 2004.
Dutch Muslim groups have complained a burqa ban would only make the country's one million Muslims feel more victimised and alienated, regardless of whether they approve of burqas or not. "What the government is doing now is totally disproportionate to the number of women who actually wear the burqa," said Ayhan Tonca, chairman of an umbrella group of Dutch Muslim organisations. "The legislation we already have to protect people for security reasons is adequate," he added.
Hope, a Dutch-born Muslim, said she wore a niqab because she wanted to. "Nobody has the right to forbid it. If someone decides I cannot wear it then I will feel suppressed," she said. The Netherlands would be the first European state to impose a countrywide ban on Islamic face coverings, though other countries have already outlawed them in specific places. In 2004, France banned overt religious symbols such as Muslim headscarves, large Christian crosses and Jewish skullcaps from schools, arguing they were contrary to its separation of church and state.
11 November, 2006
"Persistent standing" incorrect
British weirdness extends even to football
A club in trouble needs all the backing it can get from its own supporters. So, what does West Ham do? It punishes its fans for standing up too much. Last week, 20 season ticket holders received letters from the club saying: `You have ignored repeated requests to remain seated and are therefore placing the club in jeopardy of losing capacity. As a result you are banned from attending Upton Park for two matches.' Don't you just love traditional cockney hospitality?
There are a lot of stupid, petty regulations at football these days. There's a law, for example, that prohibits spectators from drinking alcohol within sight of the pitch. Why? Well, God knows what might happen? A tantalising glimpse of luscious green turf, the heady scent of freshly mown grass.it's enough to drive an Englishman stark raving bonkers. There are all sorts of silly edicts about what you're not allowed to take through the turnstiles - I remember a blind caller to Danny Baker's radio phone-in show recounting how his white stick had been confiscated by stewards.
But the ban on persistent standing at football match has got to be one of the most asinine rules ever invented. The Football Licensing Authority says that persistent standing is a health and safety hazard. Run that past me again? I can see how setting off fireworks or hurling missiles might be dangerous. But persistent standing? It's got to be one of the most unthreatening, innocuous activities known to mankind. Persistent standing isn't considered hazardous in any other social context. People persistently stand all the time - at bus stops, on railway platforms, in banks, at supermarket checkouts - and nobody bats an eyelid. But stand up at a Premiership football match and you're a hooligan. Ridiculous! Persistent standing isn't even proscribed under Sharia law - a measure of how draconian this ban is.
The Football Licensing Authority claims that persistent standing could lead to fans toppling like dominoes or else falling off the upper tier of a football stand. Have these things ever happened? No. How many football spectators have been killed our seriously injured as a result of persistent standing in all-seater stadiums? None. `What about Hillsborough?' say the football authorities. It's a tired old refrain. Invoking Hillsborough is not so much an argument as a dishonest method of closing down any debate about standing. But did anyone die at Hillsborough because of persistent standing? No. The overcrowding which led to 96 Liverpool fans been crushed to death was caused by what Lord Justice Taylor's official report described as the `failure of police control'.
West Ham fans have waged a protracted battle with the club over their right to stand during games. A group of enterprising fans have set up the Stand Up Sit Down campaign which is calling for `safe standing' sections at football grounds. Now, I'm all in favour of fans standing up if that's how they prefer to follow their team. And yes, dishing out bans for persistent standing is a very shabby way to treat your own season ticket holders. But I'm not sure I want licensed standing sections either.
Stand Up Sit Down argue that enforced seating is responsible for the muted atmosphere at many Premiership stadiums. Excuse the pun but I don't think their argument stands up. The minority of fans who prefer to stand up are usually the ones making all the noise anyway. Give them their own safe standing enclosures and they'll still be vocal but it doesn't follow that everyone else will join in. Enforced seating is just one of a number of factors that have contributed to the deathly hush at football grounds. The restrictions on alcohol consumption, the rules governing obscene chanting, the piped music blasting out over PA systems: these measures have all contributed to the pacification of football crowds.
What I object to isn't so much being forced to sit down but no longer being free to support my team as I see fit. It's not just enforced seating; it's the broader regimentation of fan conduct that's the problem. I don't want official permission to stand any more than I want to be forced to sit down. But nor do I want a raft of rules circumscribing drinking, chanting, swearing, and smoking. And it's the unshackling of fans from all these killjoy constraints that we should be standing up for.
Forget race, we have prejudices you haven't dreamt of
Roland White attended a diversity training class that revealed how fed up we are becoming with enforced cultural sensitivity
In our modern multiracial world, it is no picnic being called Mr White. People do tend to make such assumptions. Which is why I am sitting in a rather dreary hotel in the Midlands, staring at a flip chart and waiting to receive my very first dose of diversity training.
The first thing you notice is that were not particularly diverse. My classmates all work for an NHS team that looks after drug addicts. There are 14 white people, and just one black woman. Our instructor is also a white male, Laurence Harvey. He is certainly not the stereotypical diversity trainer. A former salesman and drummer in a small-time rock band, he became interested in the world of equality and diversity while working as a police constable in Northampton. But while he might be an unusual teacher, I suspect that we are a very typical class. All of us have been sent here by our employers, and very few of us look grateful.
What do you expect from todays course? asks Harvey brightly. Why did you come here? Because weve been told we have to, says one woman with brutal honesty. A male colleague is even more frank. He is bald and stocky, and looks by his own description like a thug. Ive been on lots of these before, he says, tucking a pencil behind his ear, and Im interested to see which racial group is fashionably more equal these days.
Later in the morning we will be asked to tick off our own prejudices from a list of 36 possible targets. These include men with ginger hair, women with tattoos, Germans on holiday and caravan drivers. If you are a ginger-haired German on a caravanning holiday this might be an uncomfortable moment. But there is something missing. Because Id bet that right at the top of many peoples list of dislikes is diversity training itself.
We are all supposed to be embracing diversity, but the evidence suggests were not embracing it all that warmly. According to the Migrationwatch pressure group, around 726,000 immigrants arrived in London in the 10 years up to 2005. In response, 606,000 Londoners seem to have packed up and moved to other parts of the country. We have an example right here on our course. She is a secretary who arrived in the Midlands three years ago from north London. I was beginning to feel that I was the foreigner, she says.
I couldnt actually say that I was proud to be English because that wasnt acceptable. Some people go even further. According to figures released last week, nearly 200,000 Britons emigrated last year.
The Orwellian attitude adopted by parts of the race relations industry has not helped. When Oona King wanted to adopt a child, a social worker queried her application form. The former Labour MP had described herself as mixed race. The white social worker, after taking advice from a black colleague, insisted the correct term was now dual heritage.
Just last week two workers on the London Underground were hauled before a court and quickly cleared over an incident involving a bag of black jelly babies. Station manager Victor Cooney told the court: One time I gave him a bag of jelly babies and he called me a racist because there were too many black ones in the bag.
It was also reported last week that Kirklees council in West Yorkshire has just reversed a long-term equality policy that among other things banned the phrase political correctness. Council leader Robert Light explained: Nowadays we all live in a diverse community and we realise that this sort of simplistic approach belittles the concept of equality.
Its a change that is long overdue, especially in the world of diversity training. Under the old-fashioned approach, people usually white people were often forced to role play so that they could explore the depths of their supposed bigotry. On a previous course I was asked how I wanted my coffee, says my stocky male classmate. When I said black I was told that was not acceptable and I should have asked for coffee without milk. On another course he listened resentfully as a black tutor explained how white people could never truly understand discrimination.
Perhaps the most controversial diversity specialist is an American called Jane Elliott, who divides her classes into blue-eyed and brown-eyed. The brown-eyed classmates then get to mock their blue-eyed workmates. According to Elliott, this gives them a feeling of what it is like to be black. Elliott, by the way, is white.
Critics of this approach say it creates bitterness and resentment. They also insist that it doesnt work. In a report published in September, Harvard professor Frank Dobbin said diversity training simply wasnt worth the money. For the past 40 years companies have tried to increase diversity, spending millions of dollars without actually stopping to determine whether or not their efforts have been worth it. Certainly in the case of diversity training the answer is no.
Yet its still big business. It was recently reported that Scotland Yard alone had spent £450m on equality and diversity in the past three years. And in that time, race discrimination claims have risen by 24%.
Harvey and his company, Actuate Learning and Development, have a completely different approach. In fact he hardly mentions race at all. Dont look at people as members of any racial group, he advises, but approach them as individuals. Previous courses have told people about taking their shoes off when visiting a Muslims house, he says. The trouble is, not all Muslims will ask you to take off your shoes. On the other hand, I might ask you to remove your shoes if I have a new carpet put in. Its just a question of common sense.Source
Lifelong Labour supporter Maureen Freely has been at the thick of family policy for a decade as an author, academic and political commentator and as a mother of four. But she can take no more. The government, she argues, has killed family life. And all the evidence points to Tony Blair being the main culprit
Let me begin with a confession. For the past 10 years I have led a double life. The first was with my family, my colleagues, my students, my neighbours and my friends. The second I spent with those who set the rules by which we live. These are the politicians, civil servants, academics and activists who gathered together after new Labours landslide victory to transform family policy. Their brief was to formalise the relationship between government and parents: in bald terms, to turn parents into a new breed of line managers. For if families were right to expect the government to provide proper public services, then the government was right to expect families to turn out proper children. And if they didnt, well, it was only right that the government step in to sort them out.
Did I ever buy this? No. I had my doubts from the beginning. I feared that the people at the top were interested in families only because they saw in them a source of cheap labour. No, let me correct that. A source of unpaid labour. Slave labour. They werent very happy with these substandard children we were producing: we were now to be improved. As alarmed as I was by that prospect, I was more alarmed by the factory imagery in which it was couched. Taken literally, the future of Blairs and Straws and Blunketts dreams was an assembly line, along which we, the parent line managers, would impose company discipline to produce the highest-quality product at the lowest possible cost.
For 10 years, I tried hard to convince myself it was wrong to read too much into a metaphor. This couldnt be what they really meant. Committed Labourite that I was, I had to believe they were castigating parents in the press so they could fob off the Daily Mail. But it wasnt just blind faith that lulled me. At the conferences, seminars and panel discussions I attended, the talk was very different. Here I found many others who lived double lives like mine. Whatever their professional titles, they had first-hand experience of the hell that is working parenthood. Like me, many had lived through separation and divorce. Married or unmarried, theyd had to care for their parents as well as their children. They had concluded as I had that the way we lived today was mad and unworkable. Which was why they were here. Why we were all here. But, reader, we were conned.
Ill begin as the villains of this piece so often do, by naming and shaming: Harriet Harman, who brokered the new deal for single mothers so they could know the dignity of work and give their children a future, but forgot to join the dots; Jack Straw, who dazzled the nation with his bright new package of joined-up policies that promised not just to support families, but to treat them as partners in the enterprise, only to swan off to the Foreign Office, after which nothing ever joined up again; Gordon Brown, who tried but failed to end child poverty; David Blunkett, who, having found lazy teachers, feckless parents and their wayward children to be the source of all social ills, went on to hector and punish them; and last but not least, Tony Blair, the man at the top, who did not just neglect to join up his own policies, but sometimes seemed to go out of his way to make sure they failed.
He has not just turned parents into line managers, but vastly augmented our job description: never before have we been expected to work to such high standards or faced such an array of legal sanctions should we fail to make the grade. Never before have we been expected to do so much with our children in so little time. For we are less and less likely to be at home with them, and more and more likely to be in paid employment which is, I think, just where Blair wants us. But he has failed to honour his side of the bargain. Though he set up systems that might have made it possible to square the circle, he has starved most of them of funds, making it impossible for them to deliver. He has also refused to heed the messages coming from his own experts, whose studies consistently show that parent support only works if it is respectful, responsive and non-punitive. Instead he has encouraged his disciples to take a fire-and-brimstone approach with failing families. His definitions of failure have become so broad that the day cannot be far off when they subsume us all.
If families are worse off today than they were 10 years ago, its Tony Blair who has the most to answer for. So, in the spirit of fair play, let me acknowledge the ways his government has helped many families, at least in some small way. Of course youll know about these already. Whenever a new one is introduced, his spin machine ensures maximum coverage.
The government has increased child benefit and introduced a working families tax credit and a childcare tax credit that has been taken up by 6m families. The 12.5 hours weekly free entitlement to childcare now covers 38 weeks of the year. It has opened 1,000 Sure Start Childrens Centres, all in underprivileged urban areas, offering comprehensive and integrated services to almost 1m children and their families. It has extended paid maternity leave and introduced two whole weeks of paternity leave for new fathers, and given all parents with children under six and the parents of disabled children under 18 the right to ask for flexible working hours. It has significantly increased childcare provision, largely in the private sector, and offered special assistance to lone parents wishing to return to work. In 2004 it launched a nationwide policy called Every Child Matters, which pledges to provide greatly extended parent and child services, using schools as the hub, by the end of the decade. But it has failed to create a level playing field for women at work, or men at home. Why? Because its afraid. Afraid of what Business Might Say. This despite the fact that the business case for work-life balance is well rehearsed. Blair could declare it a national priority, suggest to business and other concerned parties that working together to figure out a better way of integrating work and domestic responsibilities would benefit us all, and even (as research has shown) increase productivity. What nation can prosper if it sends well over half its population to work dog-tired?
Instead of addressing the central contradiction of our time, Tony Blair has pretended it isnt there. Though hes put more pressure, much more pressure, on mothers to go into paid employment, he has done next to nothing to address the discrimination against mothers in the workplace. After nine years of lip service to equality, 20% of women still face dismissal or financial loss because of a pregnancy. If they choose to work part-time while their children are young, they will earn 40% less per hour than men doing the same job full-time. If they return to full employment after only one year in part-time work, they will still be earning 10% less 15 years on. Some losses they will never recover: despite recent tinkering, pensions are still designed for people who work full-time all their working lives, thus discriminating against those who take time off to care for their families.
But what about men? Shouldnt they shoulder some of the responsibility? Increasingly, they are. After three decades of arguing about where a womans place really was, a recent EOC (Equal Opportunities Commission) poll found that only 15% of women and 20% of men in this country think women should stay at home. Fathers, meanwhile, are spending more time with their children, undertaking about one-third of their care. Where mothers have jobs, one-third cite fathers as the main carer. So it should make a difference that they now have the right to ask their employers for flexible work. Sadly, it doesnt. Since 2003, 19% of eligible mothers and 10% of eligible fathers have requested flexible hours, but employers (who have the right to say no) still view mens requests less favourably. This reflects and reinforces the idea that women should put their children first and accept second-class status at work. It also dooms men, especially family men, to work the longest hours in Europe.
And for what? According to calculations by the accountants Grant Thornton, many middle-class households can expect to see half their income disappear in taxes, either when they earn it or when they spend it. According to Ernst & Young, rises in income have not matched rising energy costs and council taxes, making Britains families 10% worse off than they were four years ago. So even if some can afford flexible work and the penalties it brings, reducing working hours is not an option for most of us. And still the government bangs on about parenting standards. When, I ask, are we to practise what they preach? How dare they preach at all? Their own record on childcare Im sorry, but this makes me angry is a disgrace. Almost a decade after the glittering launch of its National Childcare Strategy, there is still only one registered place for every four children under eight. Most of those places are private businesses, and half of all nurseries fail. As the governments own inspectors have found, most existing nurseries offer substandard care.
Childcare costs continue to be prohibitive. The Daycare Trusts 2005 survey found that the typical cost of a full-time place with a childminder was £127 a week, or over £6,600 a year. A full-time nursery place for a child under two was £141 a week in England, or £7,300 annually. In some parts of the country it was £18,000. This may explain why 42% of lone parents actively seeking work say the scarcity or cost of childcare prevents them getting a job.
Though Gordon Brown has seemed to offer generous support to Sure Start (integrated child centres), the people on the ground say it doesnt begin to cover its expansion costs. There are, in addition, concerns about his emphasis on urban areas, which means there is very little help on offer for the also deserving rural poor. And though Browns much-vaunted tax credits have made a real difference for many lower-income families, they are so complicated and so hard to calculate, even the Treasury seems to have trouble understanding how they work. There have been serious cockups, with the Treasurys computers overpaying almost 2m families an average of £1,000 in tax credits, then, without prior notice, clawing the money back, forcing many of those families to live on food parcels. The Child Support Agency (CSA), founded under Thatcher to make nonresident fathers pay for their childrens support, was this year announced to be under review for the third time in its 13-year existence, having clocked up £3.4 billion in unrecovered payments. We are now assured it is to be scrapped and replaced with a more streamlined body. But yet again, the details are still to be disclosed.
Which brings us to the D-word yet another abject failure. Though officially committed to shared parenting after separation and divorce, and fully aware that our family court system is a disaster exacerbating conflicts between parents, creating conflicts where none existed, and often permanently excluding one parent, generally the father, for reasons anybody who was not a judge or a family court welfare officer would call capricious the government has changed nothing. It has commissioned a few reports and pilot projects and left it at that. Meanwhile, families continue to travel through this discredited system at the rate of 80,000 a year.
If we calculate that the average family includes two children, we can see that family courts affect the lives of a quarter of a million men, women and children annually, and often adversely.
Not a very good deal, then, this family business. In a poll of over 2,000 adults last October, the EOC found that nearly three out of five thought it was harder for working women to balance work and family life than 30 years ago. Over half of men aged 35-44 thought it was harder for men. This may explain why our birth rate is falling. At 1.8 per woman, it is not at its lowest point ever, and is by no means the lowest in Europe (that honour goes to Germany, where only 700,000 babies were born last year, in a population of around 80m), but is well below replacement rate. Half a century ago, only 10% of women reached the end of their fertile lives without bearing children. Now that has doubled. It is sure to rise.
A recent Guardian/ICM poll found that 64% of men and 51% of women thought that it was more important for women to enjoy themselves than to have children. Only 32% said bringing up children was more important than material success. Sixty-one per cent of men and women said that living comfortably was more important than having children. When asked what put them off the idea of having children, 63% cited the career demands and the difficulty of balancing these with family life, and 54% cited the high and rising costs. These views are in line with those measured in other European countries with declining birth rates. Wherever it is hard for parents to combine work and family, fewer and fewer even want to try.
But even the men and women who decide to forgo families may find themselves obliged to care for their parents. And if they dont? For one thing, they should give up all hope of inheriting the family home. The government will want it sold to pay for the substandard care it will provide in their stead. The governments record on elder-care is even worse than it is on childcare. But if you asked me where its greatest failure is, I would have to say education.
I say this even though two of my children went through the system during the 1980s and 90s, and were not (in my view) well served by the Tories. But I have two younger children who started school around the same time Blair came into office. And I teach at Warwick University, where for 10 years now I have been asked to bend and twist as the government exercises its will from on high. I see the same patterns in my childrens schools. Blair inherited a system fraught with problems, and his policies have exacerbated all of them, first by bombarding teachers at every level of the system with targets that do not take into account what we actually do, then by forcing us to assess our students and ourselves by quality-assurance standards that were designed and I mean it literally this time for factories. If we fail to fashion ourselves into the right sort of worker, turning out the right sort of product, we are severely punished.
But at least Im never asked to turn around and punish my students parents. This is what teachers at primary and secondary level are now expected to do. It began in the late 1990s with home-school contracts. Before long, parents were being prosecuted and even jailed for failing to stop their children playing truant. Under the new education bill, parents who fail to keep children excluded for five days or less, under lock and key at home, even if they are single and in employment, will face the same sanctions.
This government has vastly expanded its repertoire of punishments for parents it deems to be substandard. It has at the same time convinced people that such parents must be dealt with harshly because they refused earlier offers of help. In fact, and contrary to the spin generated by an endless parade of initiatives, pilots and taskforces, there are huge swathes of the country where there is no help whatsover for parents struggling with difficult or distressed children.
Here we come to new Labours strangest and most fatal flaw: it trashes its own programmes. By this I mean it sets up or underwrites parent-support organisations which it presents to the nation at glitzy launches, then forgets. Or if it doesnt forget them, it grossly underfunds them, so all they can do is operate a modest website. Let me describe a few of these for you. Since its inception seven years ago, the government-funded National Family and Parenting Institute (NFPI) has been working hard to gather together all academics, professionals, and activists concerned with family policy to discuss best practice. It has fostered and disseminated research, so anything the government does, it can do on the basis of solid evidence. It has also engaged with parents, reflecting their views back to government, and arguing for policies that meet parents needs. During the same period, the EOC has campaigned tirelessly for an end to the pay gap, mothers and fathers rights at home as well as in the workplace, and pension reform. Source
10 November, 2006
Free church parking banned as 'discriminatory'
A thin excuse for anti-Christian attitudes. They could have extended free parking to the 1% who are of other faiths if discrimination was the concern
A city council is to impose new car parking charges for Sunday morning church services so they are not 'discriminatory to other faiths and religious praying days'. Plymouth City Council had allowed free parking in some car parks for church-goers, but now has brought in a ś1-an-hour charge so they do not offend other faiths. The move has angered church groups in the city, and a protest letter has been sent to the authority.
A council parking representative replied, explaining that free parking would be discriminatory. "The basis of your representation was rejected on the grounds that the current free parking on a Sunday morning is discriminatory to other faiths and religious praying days," they said. "Dispensation is not given to other religions."
Church regular Mary Hooker, 66, said: "It is rather unforgiving. I have been going to church for 50 years and I have never had to pay."
The 2001 census survey revealed that the combined total of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs in Plymouth amounted to 1.1 per cent of the population. The city has one Mosque which serves all of the Muslim population, estimated to be around 800, Plymouth also has one Buddhist centre, serving about 470 people, and one Synagogue for nearly 200 practising Jews in the community. There are 150 Christian churches in the city.
The charges are part of a range of changes to car parking tolls across the city. The income from all of the Sunday charging proposals will be approximately 144,000 pounds.
The rector of Plymouth's biggest church, St Andrew's, has said that the authority's reasoning "betrays a total lack of understanding of the multi-faith agenda and serves only to divide communities." The Rev Nick McKinnel said: "It does seem extraordinary to invoke other faiths as a reason to charge those who go to church."
British Left attacks charities
They want everybody to be dependant on the government
Next week, the new Charities' Bill will finish its passage through Parliament. It should become law before the end of the year. In spite of being billed as "the biggest review of charity legislation in the past 400 years", it has generated very little comment. This is surprising, because the Bill will vastly increase the power of the Charities' Commission to dissolve charities, confiscate their endowments and assets, and give them to what the Commission considers a more genuinely "charitable" cause.
That threat is alarming and real. It used to be taken for granted that organisations devoted to education, to religion, or to the relief of poverty, were automatically providing a "public benefit". The new legislation dissolves that assumption. Even more worryingly, it also leaves it up to the Charities Commission to decide what constitutes a "public benefit". There is no guidance in the legislation on how that slippery notion should be defined. Ministers and members of the Commission have referred to "case law", but there is almost none, precisely because, for the last 400 years, there has been so firm a consensus that education, religion and the relief of poverty constitute public benefits.
It means that the Commission will be able to use whatever definition of "public benefit" it likes. The motive behind redefining that notion seems to have been the desire to ensure that charities benefit all the public, not just some small section of it. That is why, for instance, schools and hospitals that charge fees are being threatened with the withdrawal of their charitable status: they are said only to benefit people who can afford to pay, and not the whole of the British public.
In fact, every charity benefits a portion of the population rather than all of it: charities for disabled people benefit those who are disabled; hospital charities benefit sick people; charities for women benefit women rather than men. and so on. Charities for starving farmers in the Third World do not benefit the "public" in this country at all. And as for charities for animals, they do not benefit people of any description, unless you count the pleasure some people get from knowing that animals are being cared for.
So will the Charities' Commission now declare the RSPCA and the hundreds of other organisations that dispense money and care only for animals, or only for men, or only for children, or only for people in the Third World, as ineligible for charitable status because they do not benefit the whole British public?
The preposterousness of that idea is obvious, and it demonstrates that the "public benefit" test will, in practice, simply amount to the bureaucrats on the Commission deciding whether they approve of the aims of a given organisation. If they do, it will be allowed charitable status and reap the enormous benefits that flow from it, from tax-breaks to the possibility of organising public collections. If they do not, the Commission will declare the organisation no longer a charity. And then, under the new Bill, its endowments can be seized and given to a charity of whose aims the bureaucrats do approve.
This is a terrifying extension of arbitrary, unaccountable state power, albeit under the guise of a quango rather than a government department. The charity sector is one of the few parts of modern Britain that actually functions pretty well at the moment. It is vigorous and effective, and provides services worth billions every year, largely because the Government hasn't managed to get its paws all over it. This new law is going to change that. Unfortunately, it now seems too late to do anything about it. And this time, the whole British public will be the loser.
BRITISH WRITER GETS IT
In a riveting speech to The New Culture Forum last night, the writer and broadcaster Douglas Murray warned that Britain was in danger of taking the path to cultural defeat if it continued to stifle criticism of, and debate about, the threat of fundamentalist Islam.
Speaking to a packed audience at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies - an audience which included Lord Trimble, Paul Goodman MP and many high-profile journalists - Murray declared that just as there was no right to respect, so there was no right not to be offended. `I believe we must speak out - and for very immediate reasons. Silence on the problems of Islam elevates Islam. It affords it a unique place in our culture that it does not deserve and should not have. You do not have to be believers in a thing to propagate it. We do so by our silence. Our fear and self-censorship are complicity: they act as a votary.
`Every day cartoonists in the Western free press portray democratic leaders of the West as baby-killers, baby-eaters and homicidal maniacs,' he told the meeting, which was chaired by the NCF's director Peter Whittle, and which also included a lively audience discussion. `At least we now know why they don't draw cartoons even touching on Islam. ` `Cutting-edge' novels routinely and boringly lambaste the traditions of the West or pretend that the Western tradition doesn't even exist. But write a novel mentioning Mohammed, and Salman Rushdie can explain the consequences to you.'
Murray, who wrote the critically praised book `Neoconservatism: why we need it', went on to explain how the canard that by mentioning the problem, you are yourself the problem, had sunk deep and was the degraded response of a people whom seemed, to him, to be asleep.
He talked in depth about the experience of the Netherlands, where, almost exactly two years ago, Theo Van Gogh, the director of the short film Submission, about women's experience under Islam, was murdered in the street by an Islamic fanatic. The audience then watched a screening of the film, which because of the perceived `sensitivity' of the subject matter, has rarely been seen since van Gogh's death.
Murray explained that the uproar and protest which followed in Holland had, however, proved to be short-lived. `Some writers and public figures took the decision to stop mentioning Islam,' he went on. `One friend of mine, a prominent newspaper columnist before van Gogh's murder, vowed never to write about Islam again. I asked him once how he felt about the decision he had taken and he was clear: `The terrorists have won' he said.
After talking about the rapid demographic changes in Holland, and quoting a government report from 2004 which concluded that by 2017 the majority of the people in the country would be non-Dutch, Murray left the audience with a serious question. `Europeans are going to have to start asking: do we want to keep what we have? Do we want to salvage something? Or is there genuinely nothing which we wish to save?' he said. `I recommend to you - go to Amsterdam and walk around. Look at the woman in the burkha, and the druggy baby-boomer running the cannabis cafe and ask yourself who is going to be running this place in twenty years time.'
And the feminist non-response
Unveiled women who get raped deserve it. That's the pedagogy preached by the Mufti of Australia, Sheikh Taj al-Din al-Hilali, who recently sparked an international stir by pronouncing that women who do not veil themselves, and allow themselves to be "uncovered meat", are at fault if they are raped. This is nothing new, of course, and it is somewhat mysterious why the Sheikh's comments have caused any shock at all, since his view is legitimized by various Islamic texts and numerous social and legal Islamic structures. And that is why back in September 2004 in Denmark, al-Hilali's Australian counterpart, the Mufti Shahid Mehdi, declared exactly the same thing, stating that unveiled women are "asking for rape."
All of this, in turn, explains the skyrocketing epidemic of Muslim rape in non-Islamic countries. Muslim newcomers are significantly overrepresented among convicted rapists and rape suspects throughout European nations such as Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Scandinavia. No wonder why many Muslim rapists openly admit their actions and justify them smugly with casual references to their religious and cultural beliefs. This horrifying phenomenon was on display in a court trial in Australia last year, in which a Muslim rapist, going by the name "MSK", taunted his sobbing 14-year-old victim and proudly professed the legitimacy of his sexual assaults on young girls by explaining that his victims were not veiled -- as the Islamic religion mandates women to be.
"MSK" is from Pakistan. He is doing in Australia what he learned best back home: in some of the most notorious rural areas of Pakistan, gang rape is officially sanctioned as a legitimate form of keeping women marginalized and "in their place." As noted earlier, certain realms of Islam help institutionalize this form of violent misogyny. The Koran, for instance, permits Muslim men to enslave - and have sexual relations with - the women of unbelievers captured in the spoils of war (Sura 4:23-24). The Islamic legal manual 'Umdat al-Salik, which is endorsed by Al-Azhar University, the most respected authority in Sunni Islam, sanctions this violence, affirming that Muslims can enslave captured infidel women and make them concubines.
To compound this pathology, a notion has developed within the system of gender apartheid in which Muslims like "MSK" have grown up: the idea that a woman who does not veil herself is somehow responsible for any sexual or physical harm done to her. In the psychopathic mental gymnastics that occur in the perpetrators' minds, the unveiled woman must be sexually punished for violating the "modesty" code. Thus, when Islamic Muftis like Sheikh Taj al-Din al-Hilali and Shahid Mehdi declare that women who refuse to wear headscarves are "asking for rape," they are merely regurgitating a popular theme in many segments of Islamic culture.
In traditional Islamic law, rape cannot be proven unless four males testify as witnesses (Sura 24:4 and 24:13). In other words, raped women cannot get justice anywhere Islamic law prevails. More horrifying still, a woman who has the courage to say she was raped, and fails to produce the four male witnesses (which is obviously almost always the case), ends up being punished because her accusation is regarded as an admission of pre-marital sex or adultery. And this is why seventy-five percent of the women in prison in Pakistan are behind bars for the crime of being a victim of rape.
In Holland, myriad women now bear the horrible scar that has infamously become known as "smiley," whereby one side of the face is cut up from mouth to ear - a war mark left by Muslim rapists as a warning to other women who don't veil themselves. In France, the phenomenon of Muslim gang rape as punishment for non-veiling even has a word to describe it: "tournante" (take your turn). In areas where Muslims form the majority (i.e. the Muslim suburb of Courneuve, France), even non-Muslim women feel pressured to veil themselves in fear of Muslim sexual and physical punishment.
In the context of this epidemic of Muslim violence against women, and the open legitimization of it pronounced by Islamic clerics, one would think that the Western feminists of our time would be up in arms, sympathetically coming to the side of their raped sisters and standing up for women's rights in general. But this is just not the case. The West's leftist feminists are responding with an apathetic heartlessness and deafening silence.
It's all very much understandable and expected, of course: it is politically correct and cutting-edge to scream with moral indignation about a woman's right to an abortion in the West, but to actually care for - and come to the public defense of - the female victim of a gang-rape committed by Muslims is unthinkable. This is so because admitting the Muslim rape epidemic, and the theology and institutions on which it is based, and denouncing it, would violate the central code of the "progressive" leftist faith: anti-Americanism and cultural relativism. No culture can be said to be better than any other - unless it is American culture, which is always fair game for derision and ridicule. But to criticize any Third World culture in general - and an adversary culture in particular - is to surrender the political cause and faith.
The worldview of Oslo Professor of Anthropology, Dr. Unni Wikan, is perfect in representing leftist feminists' stand on Muslim rape and Islamic gender apartheid. Wikan's solution for the high incidence of Muslims raping Norwegian women stresses neither the punishment of the perpetrators nor the repudiation of the Islamic theology that legitimizes such abuse of women. Instead, Wikan recommends that Norwegian women veil themselves. This is because, in Wikan's view, Western women must take their share of responsibility for the rapes, since they are not dressing and behaving according to Muslim understanding. The Norwegian women, in her view, are to realize that they live in a multicultural society and should, therefore, adapt themselves to it. Sheikhs Taj al-Din al-Hilali and Shahid Mehdi would be proud.
It has long been evident that Western leftist feminists couldn't care less about real actual breathing women; they care only about their ideological beliefs. For them, the victims of Muslim rape can be easily forgotten and dismissed -- for the pursuit of their ultimate goal: to aid and abet the West's totalitarian enemies and to wreak the destruction of their own free societies which bestow the individual liberties and rights that they despise and abhor.
9 November, 2006
U.K.: Incorrect to face the reality of black crime
From the figures below it looks as if blacks are even more the source of crime in the UK than they are in the USA
RACE watchdogs are to investigate Britain's national DNA database over revelations that about three-quarters of young black men will soon have their profiles stored. Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, will examine whether the database breaches race relations laws. "This is tantamount to criminalising a generation of young black men," Mr Phillips said. An estimated 135,000 black males aged 15 to 34 will be entered in the crime-fighting database by next April, equivalent to 77 per cent of the young black male population in England and Wales. By contrast, only 22 per cent of young white males, and 6 per cent of the general population, will be on the database.
All arrested crime suspects have their DNA taken and their profile stored for life, even if they are later cleared or the arrest is found to be a case of mistaken identity. Children under 10 also can have their DNA recorded.
Mr Phillips said his team will investigate whether the policy of retaining DNA from suspects, who are never convicted of a crime, results in discrimination against black men, who are more likely to come into contact with police than their white counterparts. "Statistics suggest that black males are more likely to be stopped simply because they are young black males," he said. "This figure is just perpetuating this stereotype, and does nothing to instil confidence in a measure that seeks to serve all members of our community. It is provocative, unfair and unjust and will do little to reduce crime." If the commission discovers that the database fails to comply with the law, it will consider what legal steps can be taken, Mr Phillips said.
The new figures, calculated from the Home Office's own projections, will fuel fears that Britain is becoming a "surveillance society" in which some ethnic groups are monitored more closely than others. The figures arise from Home Office projections released to Bob Spink, a Conservative MP, which show that by April 2007 the DNA database will hold 3.7 million profiles, including 3 million "white-skinned Europeans" and 257,099 "Afro-Caribbeans".
The Home Office could not break down the figures for each ethnic group by age or sex. But, in general, 82 per cent of individuals on the database are male, while 64 per cent are aged 15 to 34. It means that, assuming a similar sex and age balance for all ethnic groups, there will be 135,000 young black men on the database next April. Figures for the last census in 2001 showed there were 175,000 black men, aged 15 to 34, in England and Wales.
The calculation method has been endorsed by experts, including Dr David Owen, of Warwick University's Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations, who described the figures as "disturbingly high". Professor Sir Bob Hepple, QC, who is leading an inquiry by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics into the DNA database, said they would add to concerns about discrimination.
Britain: Christmas defended
Christian leaders go marching as to war today, aiming to put their stamp on the debate about the role of religion in modern public life. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, are introducing a new think-tank report that challenges the secular dream of taking Christ out of Christmas or anything else. Among the report's targets are "the annual rash of winterval stories" about councils that try to rename Christmas as part of a trend towards politically correct public symbolism that ends up as "insipid and uninspiring".
The report comes as the Royal Mail eschews religious imagery on its Christmas stamps, which go on sale today. The stamps feature Santa Claus, a reindeer, snowmen and a Christmas tree. The Church of England said that it "regretted" the omission of a Christian theme.
The new think-tank, Theos, named after the Greek word for God, issues its report, Doing God: A Future for Faith in the Public Square, at a time of controversy over the role of religion. The past few weeks have seen rows over faith schools and Muslim veils, a British Airways employee fighting for her right to wear a cross and the atheist scientist Richard Dawkins entering the bestseller lists with his book The God Delusion.
The heads of British Anglicans and Roman Catholics argue that British society is experiencing a "moment of perplexity" when new questions are being asked about the place of religion in public life and debate. "Issues of belief and faith, of how human beings experience the world, have rarely been so important in a society, or so badly misunderstood," they say. In a joint foreword, they welcome the conclusion of the report that faith is not just important for human flourishing, but that society can only flourish if faith is "given space" to contribute and challenge. "Many secularist commentators argue that the growing role of faith in society represents a dangerous development," the archbishops say. "However, they fail to recognise that public atheism is itself an intolerant faith position. If we pay attention to what is actually happening in the United Kingdom and beyond, we will see that religiously inspired public engagement need not be sectarian, and can in fact be radically inclusive."
The report by Nick Spencer, a researcher and writer on religious trends, takes its title from the comment by Tony Blair's former press officer, Alistair Campbell: "We don't do God." The report argues against confining faith to the private sphere, and says that religion will play an increasingly significant role because of the return of civil society, research about the role it plays in happiness and the politics of identity. Mr Spencer also says that faith is the answer to consumerism, or what he describes as "chequebook citizenship". He advises public figures to take care if introducing God into debate and to make sure that they are not doing so for personal or divisive reasons. But he adds: "We should not react with bewilderment when a public figure does `do God'. We should be less scared of public figures citing religious texts in mainstream contexts. We should be more willing to treat other value systems as coherent, reasonable and even valuable rather than as primitive or grotesque mutations of the liberal humanism to which every sane person adheres."
The comments drew rapid fire from the National Secular Society, whose vice-president, Terry Sanderson, said: "This report is self-serving, self-deluding and a recommendation for the imposition of a new authoritarianism on an unwilling population. The idea that religion should play an even bigger part in the public arena than it does already is one that will bring a backlash. The British public does not want its life to be dictated by religious institutions, which it sees as nasty, small-minded and controlling. "Atheists or secularists may ask questions that archbishops would prefer not to hear, but religious intolerance in Britain, especially over freedom of speech, comes almost exclusively from Christian evangelicals and minority faiths."
The Royal Mail said that Christmas stamp designs alternate between religious and non-religious every year. Last year's set included a controversial image of a man and a woman with Hindu markings worshipping the infant Christ.
Britain: Incorrect to refer to immigrant problems
A Conservative councillor has been suspended from the party after a racist e-mail was sent from her account that instructed foreigners to "P*** off - we're full". Ellenor Bland, who stood as a parliamentary candidate in last year's election, was reported to race relations watchdogs by Liberal Democrats who branded the message as offensive and deeply unpleasant.
The e-mail, sent from Ms Bland's address, included a poem about Pakistani immigrants coming to Britain to claim benefits, along with a cartoon of the white cliffs of Dover bearing the offensive phrase. The text, entitled Illegal Immigrants Poem, describes how a migrant comes to Britain "poor and broke" and makes money by claiming welfare benefits before inviting friends from his home country to join him. They take over the area after white neighbours move out.
Ms Bland, who represents the Conservatives on Calne Town Council in Wiltshire, denied sending the message. But she admitted knowing the contents of the poem and said no offence could be caused by it, calling the reaction political correctness gone mad. Ms Bland, who runs a clothes shop in Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, lives in the village of Quemerford and has been a Calne town councillor since 2003. She said that the e-mail had been sent by her husband. "I haven't sent anything that I'm accused of sending. Someone else did. My e-mail address is something that's used by my husband, too. It's not my personal e-mail account." She added: "From what I remember of it, it was a very light-hearted poem. We have Asian friends and we work well together and all accept each other's different ways."
A senior Conservative said that Ms Bland had been suspended from the Tories' election candidate list and from the party pending an investigation into the allegations surrounding the e-mail. A spokesman said: "The Conservative Party disassociates itself entirely from the sentiments in this poem. Ellenor Bland has been suspended from the candidates' list and from the party pending a full investigation."
Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat chairman of campaigns and communications, said: "It is totally unacceptable for elected representatives to be distributing this kind of material. Racism has absolutely no place in British politics and I am asking the CRE to advise on what further action can be taken. If David Cameron wants to retain any credibility he must immediately take the strongest action against the person responsible."
The poem had also appeared on the website of Boris Johnson, the Conservatives' higher education spokesman. But the MP said that it had been posted on a message board by a visitor to his site and that he had no idea that it was there. "It's an utterly dreadful poem and I condemn it unreservedly," he said. "I had absolutely no knowledge it was on my website."
I cross ocean poor and broke
Take bus, see employment folk.
Nice man treat me good in there.
Say I need to see welfare.
Welfare say, "You come no more,
We send cash right to your door."
Write to your friends in motherland.
Tell them, "Come fast as you can."
They come in turbans and Ford trucks.
I buy big house with welfare bucks!
Britain crazy! They pay all year,
To keep welfare running here.
We think UK darn good place.
Too darn good for the white man race!
If they no like us, they can scram.
Got lots of room in Pakistan!
SOME GREAT SARCASM FROM MIKE ADAMS:
I'm certain that news of my resignation will disappoint readers who have enjoyed my columns critiquing UNC-Wilmington's leftist orthodoxy over the last several years. But I know their disappointment will be outweighed by UNCW's joy upon hearing of my decision to leave the university. In fact, effective today, I'll be leaving to begin my new career as a Winston Smith Professor Emeritus of Social Work at Missouri State University.
I have decided to take the position at MSU for two reasons: 1) I want to commit the rest of my career to the intellectual rape of my students by forcing them to lobby the state for policies that violate their deeply held religious beliefs, and 2) MSU encourages professors to intellectually and spiritually rape their students - even defending them when they are caught in the act.
I'm certain it comes as a surprise to many that a man who has fought so long and hard against political indoctrination in higher education would suddenly do an about-face and join the very forces he has battled with such passion. It reminds me of the time my undergraduate psychology professor started to develop an uncontrollable nose twitch coupled with a desire to stuff his office from wall to wall with things he really didn't need. It wasn't that he found rats to be desirable. But after years of observing them, he did start to mimic their behavior.
And I'm certain it will surprise many that my career path will lead to MSU - as opposed to Brown, UC-Berkeley, or UT-Austin. I wouldn't have expected it either - not until I heard about the case of MSU Social Work student Emily Brooker. Emily's trouble began when she was forced by Social Work Professor Frank G. Kauffman to write a letter to the Missouri State legislature urging representatives to pass legislation that would allow gays to serve as foster parents and even to adopt children. When Emily refused to do the assignment - because of her religious objections to homosexuality - she was punished. Her complaint about the assignment led to a formal disciplinary hearing.
The hearing was typical of those at most universities. Emily was given no lawyer nor was there any written record of what happened. But she reports that she was asked very personal questions about whether she believed that homosexuals are sinners. And then she was written up for openly confessing her religious objections concerning homosexuality.
Even though the Alliance Defense Fund has decided to represent Emily in a First Amendment lawsuit, I've decided to take the job at MSU. This decision is the result of my opinion that MSU is going to stand firm and defend Professor Kauffman (firstname.lastname@example.org). Accordingly, during my first week at MSU, I plan to assign students to the following projects with assignments depending on important demographic variables:
1. Black students will write to the Missouri legislature to ask them to re-segregate schools - provided, of course, that the separate black schools are "equal" to the white schools.
2. Wealthy students will be asked to write the legislature to ask for expanded government welfare programs and higher taxes.
3. Feminists will be asked to write the legislature to ask for more restrictions on abortion and for laws mandating the wearing of undergarments and the shaving of armpits.
4. Divorced men will be asked to petition the legislature for increases in alimony payments.
5. Asians will be asked to petition the Department of Motor Vehicles for stricter driver competency examinations.
6. Jews will be asked to sign a petition asking Missouri to add a state holiday celebrating the birthday of Yasser Arafat.
7. Gays will be asked to petition the government for stricter licensing requirements for hairdressers.
8. Democrats will be forced to vote for Republican candidates.
9. Lesbians will be asked to sign a petition banning softball, and, finally;
10. United Methodist preachers will have to sign a bill forcing United Methodist preachers to actually preach the Holy Scripture on Sunday instead of just talking about their feelings.
I can hardly tell you how great it feels to finally have a job where I can obtain personal satisfaction by forcing people in other groups to do things they find to be offensive - even if it violates their conscience or some deeply held religious conviction. I'm going to start my new job by writing (email@example.com) a note of thanks to my new colleague. Without Professor Kauffman I never would have made the transition from ordinary professor to extraordinary bigot and tenured fascist.
8 November, 2006
Classes on etiquette may be needed again
A comment from Smith college -- an elite Massachusetts girls' college. They are very "liberal" but are discovering that once-mocked conservative ideas had a point
Over Family Weekend my parents and I were fortunate enough to encounter a new species of Smithie in her own habitat. We were having a nice calm brunch in one of the houses when we spotted her - using both hands, without utensils, to shovel food into her mouth. She then proceeded to bend down to her plate of food to take a bite out of her coffee cake in order to avoid straining her arm muscles. Luckily, we were finished with our food already because between laughing hysterically and being completely disgusted, there was no way any of us were going to take another bite.
Having discovered this new species, I have a recommendation for Smith College: please, please, please, someone teach these people some etiquette. Smithies today laugh when the old etiquette classes are mentioned. They covered table manners, how to be a hostess, small talk, party etiquette and the like. But maybe these "classes" weren't such a bad thing. Flash forward five decades and people are still judged on their etiquette. While you may not realize it, when your potential boss takes you out to lunch for your interview, he or she is testing you. You may not like the reality of it, but no one is going to hire you if you are going to embarrass the company when you have to take a client out to a nice dinner to schmooze them.
Beyond business, I would rather not go to a school famous for students who perpetually embarrass themselves in public because of their habits. Nobody is suggesting that you need to learn how to make a perfect quiche and stand by your hypothetical husband when his boss comes home for dinner. However, there will be a time when you have to step out of this little Smith bubble, and when you do, you are going to have to know that it is rude not to bring a hostess gift and what each piece of silverware is for when there is more than just a fork, a spoon and a knife. Actually, that would probably be a good place to start since so many Smithies don't bother to use even these three basic instruments.
No one likes taking etiquette classes because no one likes being told that they are wrong and that they have to stand up straight and cross their legs at the ankle and butter each piece of bread individually when it would be much easier to just do it all at once. But those of us who were taught proper etiquette either by our parents or by our parents forcing us to go to lessons that involved old women and fancy tea times appreciate the value of such lessons and are appalled, whether you like or not, at the way people at this school eat. The next time you are eating with those disgusting habits, and the people at the next table are hysterically laughing, assume it's you they are laughing at and pick up a damn fork.
British town hall tyrants waging class war
"We are the masters now," Labour Attorney-General Sir Hartley Shawcross sneered at the Tory opposition during a stormy Commons debate in 1946. It was a comment that reflected a mood of arrogant triumphalism within Labour following its general election landslide of a year earlier.
Today, a similar mood of political arrogance seems be growing within our town halls. No longer the servants of the British public, municipal bureaucrats now appear to believe they have the right to harass and punish local citizens who are deemed not to be behaving in the correct ideological manner. And, as with most forms of institutional bullying, the increasing authoritarianism of local government is perpetrated in the name of civic progress.
The decision by Richmond council in south-west London to hammer owners of large cars is a further example of this worrying trend. Self-righteously parading their supposed environmental credentials, the Liberal Democrat burghers have come up with a sliding scale of charges for residents' parking permits, under which those with Jaguars, Range Rovers or 4x4s will see a 200 per cent increase in their bills to some 300 pounds a year.
The justification for this municipal larceny is that the high emissions from such vehicles are creating long-term damage to the planet. So, in the twisted mindset of Richmond's rulers, a local resident wanting to park his own car outside his own house in his own street has been transformed into a nasty polluter who should be heavily penalised for his selfish irresponsibility. Though presented as an environmental measure, in truth this is little more than an act of class war against the affluent. It is a form of megalomania by the council to try to dictate patterns of car ownership within its boundaries.
But Richmond's decision is part of a wider pattern of ideological fervour that is sweeping across local authorities, trampling on personal rights and demanding complete obedience to a fashionable Left-dominated political agenda. We can see a similar approach in the official obsession with recycling, which has reached such a lunatic level that individuals are now being criminalised for allegedly failing to dispose of their waste correctly. In one bizarre case last week, Michael Reeves, a writer from Swansea, was fined 200 pounds for putting an item of junk mail in a recycling bag meant for glass. Mr Reeves denied the charge, and there was no evidence against him, either from witnesses or CCTV footage. But traditions of natural justice mean nothing to the green revolutionaries of the town hall, who refuse to tolerate any dissent.
Indeed, the recycling maniacs of the Devon local authority of Teinbridge are now acting just like apparatchiks from the old East Germany, urging the public to act as spies against those failing to comply with the new municipal creed. "People who can't or won't recycle," proclaims a leaflet from Teinbridge. It continues with the menacing words: "Do you know someone in your road who is not doing their bit," before giving out the number of a hotline that snitches can ring to get hold of the local Stasi, sorry, recycling "sheriff". In this fixation with recycling, more than a third of all town halls have now ended weekly refuse collections. As a result, both fly tipping and the rat population is on the increase as streets become dirtier.
But the town hall tyrants are not interested in debate, only in submission to their bureaucracy. We can see the same arrogance in their relentless increases in council tax bills, which have gone up by more than 90 per cent in the past decade, or in the way they use health and safety as an excuse to throw around their weight; Bristol council recently banned its tenants from having doormats outside their front entrances because they were deemed a "tripping hazard". Local authority schools now feel they have the right to rummage through pupils' lunchboxes to ensure full compliance with healthy eating policies.
The crackdown on smoking in public, which will come into force next year, will give further scope for municipal oppression. Sutton council, which, like Richmond, is run by the Lib Dems, is banning smoking anywhere near council buildings or parks. Even tenants in their own homes have been told that they cannot smoke in the presence of council employees.
Political hectoring can also be seen in the aggressive promotion of multi-culturalism, which schools and social services now regard as their primary civic duty, under which any firm doing business with a town hall has to follow lengthy contract compliance regulations to prove its commitment to diversity.
The causes of promoting anti-racism, protecting children's health and saving the planet have proved the ideal weapons with which town halls can beat the public and expand their bureaucratic empires. And their influence is about to become even stronger, as the Government pledges to give local government more powers in the name of devolution.
One particularly worrying development is the proposal that, in order to carry out a revaluation of properties for council tax, municipal officials be given the right to enter homes and take photographs of every room. Anyone who refuses to comply will be liable to a fine of up to 1,000 pounds. The detailed information gained from these intrusive surveys could see council tax bills rocket, as is already happening in Northern Ireland, where such a scheme is now being tried out; average bills are expected to go up by 50 per cent next year as a result.
This mounting abuse of power by town halls brings nothing but misery and expense to most of the public. A fortune is being squandered on endless tiers of management, on sprawling departments of pen-pushers, while key services such as education, refuse collection and social work are not delivering. As we saw in the old socialist tyrannies of eastern Europe, the more the politburos declared their determination to uphold the public good, the deeper became their contempt for the public. It is time some of our town hall officials recognised who is paying their bloated salaries.
Australia: A Leftist State government authorizes Christmas celebrations in schools
With an opt-out for those few who want it -- which is a reasonable compromise. Anybody would think that they are facing an election soon! (They are)
Students must be allowed to withdraw from Christmas celebrations for religious reasons, schools have been told. A Victorian Education Department memo sent to government schools issues advice about how to celebrate Christmas. It says schools need to be mindful of the secular nature of the government school system. "It is not appropriate to promote adherence to a particular religion or denomination of a religion," it says. "Accordingly, students must be allowed the opportunity to withdraw from planned events."
The memo also reminds schools to provide "appropriate opportunities" to celebrate the festive season. But it states it is up to school communities to decide the precise nature of celebrations. The memo says this could include telling of Christmas stories, nativity scenes, concerts, trees and decorations.
Sent by Office of School Education's Deputy Secretary Darrell Fraser, the letter also recommends an additional "inclusive" event. "In schools with particular diverse populations, in addition to any Christmas celebrations, consideration ought to be given to an inclusive end-of-year event, such as a concert and/or valedictory assembly - in which all students and members of the school community can participate freely," it reads.
The memo was sent to principals and school councils on October 24. Premier Steve Bracks last year encouraged schools to celebrate Christmas after some schools banned it for fear of offending non-Christian children. A school in the outer northern suburbs was accused two years ago of taking Christmas out of festive celebrations. Parents complained that the school had banned carols, saying "Merry Christmas" and even placed restrictions on festive wrap. But the school denied the ban, saying their concert was focused on student work rather than the festive season. Kindergartens and childcare centres have also previously not allowed Santa in.
Parents Victoria executive officer Gail McHardy said she welcomed the memo. "I think it is being more than reasonable. It is good for keeping community harmony and so hopefully everyone can celebrate," she said. Education Department spokesman Paul Barber said the guidelines were all about common sense.
Hugging gets a black mark in the schoolyard
A comment from Australia
My brother called me the other night, if not looking for answers, then at least despairing of the society we have become. He wanted to know why our children were being denied the opportunity to grow up as carefree as we did. His concern was prompted by a report that a Victorian high school had cracked down on hugging. The school also wanted to stop kissing and even shaking hands in the schoolyard. Basically, putting a full stop on physical contact at any time, it seemed to him. Bottom line: it did not want pupils showing affection to each other.
The acting principal said school was a place for learning, not loving. A week later another Victorian school had joined the restriction on hugging. The principal of a high school in Melbourne said his school was worried about inappropriate contact between the students. The schools had the right motive. They wanted to protect students from unwanted hugs, but I think this could have been done better than enforcing a blanket ban on hugging. Why not just teach kids to ask first before hugging?
So, I can understand the schools' decision and I can understand my brother's loss of faith in community standards. Take it as fact that more schools will take this no-hugging policy on board. That is how political correctness works. The problem is as always when imposing measures of zero tolerance that we end up with less, in this case a less joyful and free-spirited schoolyard. We are left with something a little more austere and reserved. And so that will become the norm.
It saddens me to think that our children might be taught to see such signs of affection as something bad and I wonder where all this will lead. Some time ago, schools in New Zealand and the US started banning hugging on school grounds using the same excuse. Many cited that it was not the act of embrace they did not like, but that hugs could be delivered inappropriately. Within a year, the ban became a matter of public policy in many US primary schools.
At the weekend, I read that schools in Britain had started to enforce the hugging ban. A teacher at a school in Cornwall told parents and students that hugging was out of bounds because it made youngsters late for lessons and, in some cases, was leading to inappropriate embraces. The school was even naming and shaming students who persisted.
It is madness. When did a hug between school friends become something shameful? How can we justify punishment of children when a hug is delivered as an innocent gesture of friendship? Granted, there can be occasions when a student receives an unwanted hug, but wouldn't it be better to address that by teaching our children to respect each other rather than going to such extremes that soon even a smile might be construed as something more sinister.
My little brother said many fellow parents were confused. He asked how can parents teach their children that an embrace between parent and child or siblings and their friends is something special, but in the schoolyard it is bad behaviour?
I just wonder why schools here have made the first anti-hugging move. Is it because they have experienced problems themselves, or because they have read about schools overseas doing the same thing and have decided to join the trend?
These days, the term political correctness has become a sneering description of an adherence to a doctrine that lacks humanity. The more I think about it, the more I think the anti-hugging lobby fits that sad description all too well. If a child wants to hug another child after scoring a goal in a schoolyard game of soccer then damn the teacher who scolds him or her and damn the school that cannot work out a policy that does not distinguish between an innocent child and a sexual predator.
About 20 years ago, National Hugging Day was started in the US as a heartfelt message for peace, love and understanding. Now, Sydney's Juan Mann is known internationally as a serial hugger thanks to his YouTube video that has had more than four million hits. He wanted to hug people to cheer them up and is now working on a global hug day. I'm with you, Mann. Come on people, group hug.
7 November, 2006
Prejudice against white Eastern Europeans OK
`Britain faces an explosion of crime when Romania and Bulgaria join the EU,' warned the Sun newspaper this week. According to a `secret Cabinet memo', Eastern European gangs will trigger dramatic increases in street violence, vice rackets, cash point theft and fraud. Some 85 per cent of robberies at cash points, the report said, is said to be committed by Romanians. Quite how the authorities have worked that out is anyone's guess. But it's clear that Eastern Europeans are now targeted as a problem-in-waiting by the police, politicians and pundits. So just what is so awful about these Eastern Europeans?
Since the summer, panics and prejudices about migrants from the former Eastern Bloc countries have been aired by left and right alike. They've ranged from the age-old Malthusian concerns of `too many people, not enough resources'; to last week's statement by Trevor Phillips that Bulgarians and Romanians have racist attitudes towards black people. Now, Romanians are a bunch of sex-traffickers and cash-point robbers ready to wreck havoc in the UK. `It doesn't bode well for the future', said Sir Andrew Green of Migration Watch.
When preposterous figures such as `Romanians commit 85 per cent of crime at cash points' is peddled by the government it doesn't bode well for John Reid's sense of perspective. Are there even enough Romanians in the UK to commit nearly all robberies at cash machines? Do teams of Romanians travel the breadth of the UK to make sure no cash-machine is left safe? According to those ridiculous figures, they must certainly have to.
Panics surrounding ethnic groups and criminality are, of course, nothing new. Back in the 1970s, the press and Metropolitan police force launched the infamous `mugging' panic. Then it was young black men who were said to be causing an `epidemic' of street robberies across Britain, even though such recorded crimes had gone down since the peak of 1968. The moral panic was accepted because it confirmed and exacerbated racial prejudice and hostility to black people. Today, the government and media's drive against Eastern Europeans is also driven by panics and prejudices, but of a different but no less reactionary kind.
Even though it has benefited the UK, the relatively big hike in migration from Eastern Europe has rattled New Labour on a number of levels. Firstly, the free-movement of migrants in and out of the UK goes against their regulatory, controlling instincts. UK Home Secretary John Reid's plans to impose a limited quota on migrants from Romania, for instance, says more about New Labour's target-driven approach to governance than any real consideration on migration and the economy.
More importantly, though, it seems any discussions on Eastern Europeans can be aired freely precisely because they're white. After all, who could accuse them of playing the `racist immigration card'? Therefore, low-life scare stories about cash robbers and sex traffickers wouldn't be loudly proclaimed if the migrants were from Africa. White migrants are considered fair game because, as Mick Hume has pointed out, it's a reflection of how the political class sees white working-class Britons too. When Trevor Philips said that Bulgarians have backward attitudes towards black people, and therefore should be denied entry into Britain, he could have easily followed that up with: `haven't we got enough of those types of people already?'
It's worth remembering that a few years back, a leaked government memo reckoned that British pensioners couldn't be accommodated into New Britain because of their dated `racist attitudes'. Clearly, though, it hasn't stopped with pensioners either. Younger generations of white Britons and now Eastern European migrants are either under suspicion or downright guilty of harbouring hostility to non-whites. The old pub philosophy of `there's good and bad everywhere amongst people', it seems, no longer applies.
All this, though, is simply a consequence of `objective subjectivism' that lies at the heart of multicultural thinking. What this means is that humans are no longer seen as transformative agents, but having fixed or `essential' characteristics passed on through traditions, values and beliefs. So according to the sociologist Tariq Modood, ethnicity or cultural belonging should be viewed `as being essential to a person's characteristic as skin or eye colour'. In other words, there's no escape from our cultural heritage.
This is why today black people are viewed solely as victims of slavery and racism and therefore objects of pity. British Muslims are seen either as victims of Islamophobia and therefore inherently anti-western and/or ultra-religious, while whites are viewed as racial supremacists itching to cause pogroms or go lynching. If humans really are automated products of generational cultural influences, then it makes sense to manage them accordingly. This is why the language used to justify restrictions against Eastern European migrants and to regulate the `backward' white masses of Britain are often the same. What it really demonstrates, however, is the deeply anti-human thinking of official, multicultural thinking.
It's no longer enough that morality has been re-drawn around who is considered racist or anti-racist (though more often, officialdom is in the latter, self-flattering camp). Instead, the essentialist outlook of multiculturalism means that some groups in society will be guilty through historical association, rather than anything they've actually done. The current hysterical panic against the supposed racism, and now the criminality, of Eastern Europeans says as much about what the political class thinks of white Britons over here as it does Romanians and Bulgarians over there.
U.K.: A BISHOP WHO GETS IT
The Church of England's only Asian bishop, whose father converted from Islam, has criticised many Muslims for their "dual psychology", in which they desire both "victimhood and domination". In the most outspoken critique of Muslims by a church leader, Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, said that because of this view it would never be possible to satisfy all their demands. "Their complaint often boils down to the position that it is always right to intervene when Muslims are victims, as in Bosnia or Kosovo, and always wrong when the Muslims are the oppressors or terrorists, as with the Taliban or in Iraq," said Nazir-Ali. "Given the world view that has given rise to such grievances, there can never be sufficient appeasement and new demands will continue to be made." The failure to counter such beliefs meant that radical Islam had flourished in Britain, spread by extremist imams indoctrinating children for up to four hours a day, he said.
Nazir-Ali added that rigorous checks, from which the government had retreated in face of Muslims' protests, should be imposed to ensure that arriving clerics were committed to the British way of life. "Characteristic British values have developed from the Christian faith and its vision of personal and common good," said the bishop in an interview with The Sunday Times. "After they were clarified by the enlightenment they became the bedrock of our modern political life. These values need to be recovered to help us to inculcate the virtues of generosity, loyalty, moderation and love."
Nazir-Ali, who was born in Pakistan and whose father converted from Islam to Catholicism, said radical Islam was being taught in mosque schools across Britain. "While radical teaching may not be happening everywhere, its presence is felt across the country. It affects all Muslims," he said. "The two main causes of the present situation [rising extremism] are fundamentalist imams and material on the internet." He proposed to filter out imams who might whip up extremism: "They must be vetted for appropriate qualifications, they must have a reasonable knowledge of the English language and they must take part in a recognised process of learning about British life and culture."
The government, after lobbying from Muslim groups, retreated from proposals to toughen entry requirements put forward by David Blunkett, the former home secretary, two years ago. Plans to require foreign clerics to sit a test on British civic values a year after arriving were cancelled along with the introduction of a requirement to speak English to conversational level.
Nazir-Ali also criticised women wearing veils that cover the whole face. Tony Blair called the full veil a "mark of separation", but Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said any curbs on wearing it would be "politically dangerous".
Nazir-Ali drew attention to a "huge increase" in the wearing of Muslim dress in Egypt, Malaysia and Pakistan, saying that in Britain there were circumstances where the full veil should not be worn: "I can see nothing in Islam that prescribes the wearing of a full-face veil. In the supermarket those at the cash tills need to be recognised. Teaching is another context in which society requires recognition and identification."
Nazir-Ali, 57, was born a Catholic in Karachi, converted to Protestantism and was received into the Church of Pakistan at 20. He settled in Britain in the 1980s and became the youngest bishop in the world at 35.
Muhammad Abdul Bari, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said his comments were not "very helpful for community relationships".
Australia: Politically correct solutions to black crime fail
The rate of Aboriginal imprisonment has increased by almost 55 per cent since 1991 despite more than $400 million spent on programs to cut the rate after the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody. Two reports to be published today say the $400 million in Federal money and a host of state and territory reforms to reduce Aboriginal contact with the justice system have failed to cut imprisonment rates - and there are no signs of improvement.
The reports, by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, say the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal rates of imprisonment continues to grow and is now far greater than the gap between blacks and whites in the United States.
According to one of the reports, Indigenous Over-representation in Prison, the rate of Aboriginal imprisonment has risen 23 per cent in the past six years, despite the huge injection of funds after the publication of the royal commission report in 1991. The director of the bureau, Don Weatherburn, said that while the data gathered for the reports varied, depending on whether it had been adjusted for age or other factors, it was clear the problem was worse than ever - and far worse than in the US.
At the end of 2004 the black male imprisonment rate in the US was 6.95 times the white male imprisonment rate while "the crude [non-age adjusted] imprisonment rate for indigenous Australians is more than 16 times higher than the corresponding imprisonment rate for non-indigenous Australians", the report says.
The royal commission found that the high number of Aboriginal deaths in custody was largely explained by Aboriginal overrepresentation in prison. That finding prompted federal governments to spend $400 million on programs to keep Aborigines out of jail by reducing their economic and social disadvantage and reducing discrimination against them in the justice system. The bureau found this money, along with state legislation to decriminalise public drunkenness, provide alternative punishments and make prison a last resort, had "not met with much success". The bureau found "no evidence of bias on the part of sentencing courts" when dealing with Aborigines.
The reason Aborigines were 2® times more likely than non-Aborigines to be jailed when facing a court was that they had longer criminal records, were convicted of more serious violent offences, committed more multiple offences, often breached previous court orders and were much more likely to have reoffended after being given an alternative to full-time imprisonment such as a suspended sentence.
The reports identified drug and alcohol abuse as the best predictors of Aboriginal imprisonment and said the quickest way to reduce the rate of Aboriginal imprisonment was to cut access to drugs and alcohol. Dr Weatherburn said almost a fifth of the $400 million had gone into treating drug and alcohol programs, but society's "reluctance to tackle the supply side of the equation has seriously constrained out [the] capacity to reduce alcohol-related crime . it makes no sense to preach restraint while increasing availability". He urged a host of measures to cut access to alcohol and drugs by helping Aboriginal people enforce controls that they wanted. "Where the Aboriginal community agrees to restrict supply, it's critical that police enforce that."
6 November, 2006
Women, science and the gender gap
More feminist pseudoscience at work
THE DEBATE over gender and science, which helped bring down Harvard President Lawrence Summers this year, has been revived by a new report from the National Academies, ``Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering." The report endorses the view that the predominance of men in scientific fields is due not to biological differences and personal priorities, as Summers suggested, but to gender bias and unconscious institutional sexism. But is this an effort to find out the truth, or to stamp out heresy?
The makeup of the panel that produced the report is revealing. Chaired by University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala, known for her commitment to feminist causes, the panel included a number of strong proponents of the belief that women in science are held back primarily by sexism and that aggressive remedies to these biases are needed. Noticeably absent were proponents of other viewpoints -- including such female scientists as Vanderbilt University psychologist Camilla Persson Benbow or Canadian neuroscientist Doreen Kimura, who argue that biological sex differences influence cognitive skills in some areas.
The report has been hailed as a decisive refutation of what panel member Ana Mari Cauce, executive vice provost of the University of Washington in Seattle, dismissed as ``myths" about women in science. A Reuters story stated, ``A committee of experts looked at all the possible excuses -- biological differences in ability, hormonal influences, childrearing demands, and even differences in ambition -- and found no good explanation for why women are being locked out."
But a look at the report, available online from the National Academies Press, shows a much more complex picture. For instance, the report points to the narrowing gap between boys' and girls' mathematics test scores as evidence that there are no innate differences to inhibit female success. But average test scores are not a good indicator of what it takes to be successful in the scientific field. As the report briefly acknowledges, male scores have far greater variability, with more boys clustered at the bottom, among children with severe learning disabilities, and at the top, among the highly gifted.
The report attempts to neutralize this fact by pointing to a study that found that many women and men in the science, engineering, and mathematics workforce have SAT math scores below the ``gifted" level. But there's a caveat: the study looked not primarily at the highest achievers, but mainly at lower-level professionals with bachelor's degrees. If fewer average women than average men go into these fields, maybe because their interests lie elsewhere, is that really a problem?
The body of the report also supports, rather than rebuts, the view that childrearing is a major factor in gender disparities. It cites a study that ``found single women scientists and engineers [were] 16 percent more likely than single men to be in tenure track jobs five years after the PhD, while married women with children were 45 percent less likely than married men with children to be in tenure track positions."
Yet these facts are treated as a result of discrimination against people with family responsibilities and of the outmoded assumption that a scientist has a spouse to take care of such matters. Proposed remedies include more family-friendly policies. But what if single-minded devotion to work really is essential to outstanding success in science?
None of this is to say that women are incapable of being outstanding scientists -- many women are, and their advances in these fields have been spectacular -- or that nothing can be done further to reduce the gender gap. Cultural stereotypes undoubtedly play a role in the fact that even mathematically and scientifically gifted girls are more likely than boys to choose ``human interest" professions rather than science.
We can also do more to reduce lingering prejudice against mothers who are not primary caregivers for their children, and against fathers who are. But even with these changes -- which need to take place in the culture as a whole, far more than in academic and scientific institutions -- the ratio of women to men in science and engineering may always remain below 1-to-1.
Ultimately, the report is a missed opportunity. It could have addressed the personal and family choices women could make to maximize their career potential, or looked at the factors in the high achievement of Asian-American women in science. (Asian-Americans are virtually ignored in all the talk of minority women in science.) Instead, it upholds an orthodoxy of female victimization. Women, and science, deserve better.
Intolerance, a San Francisco treat
The events mentioned below are an old matter now but the implications are not
SAN FRANCISCANS may think of their town as a haven for tolerance, but once again, S.F. supervisors are showing the rest of America how intolerant The Special City can be. Forget a flower in your hair. If you come to San Francisco, be sure to wear a muzzle on your brain. Criticize a supervisor, and some supes will do their utmost to get you fired.
Last week, KGO radio talk-show host Pete Wilson made some comments about a child born to Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who is gay, and Rebecca Goldfader, who is a lesbian. As Wilson put it, a baby is "not an experiment. It is not an opportunity to see how far you can carry your views on parenting, alternative lifestyles or diversity in family structures." And: "Look around you, folks. You think the high divorce rate in this country has been, generally speaking, good for kids? So, why not start out divorced? See if that'll work." (While I am sure Dufty's daughter is a beautiful child, I, too, wonder if this Instant Family will last.)
Wilson supports same-sex marriage and gay parenting. Doesn't matter. Last week, S.F. Supervisors Tom Ammiano, Chris Daly, Ross Mirkarimi and Aaron Peskin held a press conference at which they called Wilson "homophobic" and demanded that he resign his job. Yes, San Francisco is very tolerant -- unless you hold the wrong opinion. Then the supes will try to get you fired.
Dufty, to his credit, wrote in an e-mail to Wilson that read I do not want you to "resign or lose your position over this incident." Wilson marveled Monday that Dufty "showed more class than anyone else in this." Be it noted, Wilson has apologized -- not for his misgivings about parenting and children -- but for using "inappropriate" and overly personal language. Still, the uproar may not be over, as Wilson also anchors ABC7 TV news.
Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-S.F., did not call on Wilson to resign and now says, because Wilson has apologized, it is time to move on. Still, Leno also raised the question Monday of whether "it is inappropriate for Wilson to be wearing those two hats" -- that Wilson can't be a "loose cannon" on the radio and "an impartial anchorman." Be it noted that some journalists see a real conflict of interest in Wilson working as an anchorman and talk-show host. Then again, no one complained about the two hats before. Wilson has opposed the war in Iraq, and they weren't wringing their hands about his credibility then.
Judith Appel, executive director of the alternative-family Our Family Coalition, would not tell me if she thought Wilson should lose his job, or not. She attended the anti-Wilson event as it provided an "opportunity" to highlight alternative families with "adults who love their children."
Ammiano is the last man in the world I'd want for that mission. Deliberately ignoring Wilson's point, Ammiano accused the talk-show host of trying to "dehumanize a week-old baby." He declared that Wilson's "manhood is threatened." Noting that he would never criticize Wilson's offspring, Ammiano added, "I would never ask how much grunting and sweating there was -- and God knows it probably it didn't last very long -- at that kid's conception." Feel the love?
OK. That's the sort of puerile patter one routinely hears from Ammiano. What I don't understand is why Ross Mirkarimi -- the rare adult city pol, and a man who knows better -- was standing in that crowd. Leno, who like Ammiano is gay, told me, "I'm not going to criticize those supervisors." As he sees it, S.F. and gays are "the aggrieved party. We're the ones who are getting beaten up." Ammiano accused Wilson of "abuse of privilege," Peskin cited "abuses" of power. Except in this case, gays and S.F. supes are in power -- and they're trying to get a man fired for expressing views they don't like. They clearly don't appreciate the beauty of free speech: When you don't like what someone says, you talk back. You don't silence dissenters, unless you are afraid of what they say.
If you want the world to understand who you are, you show understanding for others. If Ammiano wanted to send a message -- that when the gay lobby has power, straight Americans will enjoy less freedom -- he could not have done a better job.
An interesting test for an Australian "Human Rights" watchdog
I'm betting that the Mufti will be allowed the defence of free speech -- a defence the HREOC did not allow when they prosecuted two Christian critics of Islam. In my view both the Christians AND the Mufti were entitled to say what they did without legal penalty. The HREOC might however weasel out of this one by claiming no jurisdiction (The Sheik lives in another State -- NSW)
A Melbourne grandmother has accused Muslim cleric Sheik Taj el-Din el-Hilaly of inciting racial hatred and of sexual discrimination. Elaine Davidson made her complaint against the "divisive" mufti to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission this week. Mrs Davidson said she was deeply offended by el-Hilaly's reported comments in a service last month that claimed immodestly dressed women invited rape and were like "uncovered meat". "I'm a white, Western woman of high morals and I was offended," she said, adding that she wants a personal apology and may take civil action against the mufti. "I'm not doing this to be vindictive or anything else. As a woman I'm just sick of this man mouthing off. "He's making sweeping generalisations. Anyone who's not a Muslim woman or of his ethnic origin is being hurled into this melting pot of meat thrown to the cats."
Mrs Davidson, 52, a recreational health lecturer from Melbourne's outer east who specialises in sexual health issues, said she had complained verbally to the commission. She would reinforce it with a letter this week. "I am incensed, disgusted, offended and I feel internally brutally bashed by him," she said. "He has incited racial, religious and sexual hatred. "It's a human rights issue. I need to be protected as an Australian woman."
The mufti's Sydney friend, Keysar Trad, said the cleric "did not address the comments to her (Mrs Davidson), did not make them about her".
5 November, 2006
Britain's Bonfire night: an annual display of pyrotechnical correctness
Fireworks! How about watching virtual pyrotechnics on a laptop in your bedroom with the curtains drawn, listening to recorded bangs on your iPod with the volume down and enjoying an organic hot dog labelled "This Dog May Be Hot"?
Far-fetched, perhaps. But so are reports that a Devon rugby club is showing a video projection of a bonfire at its fireworks party to avoid the costs of meeting health and safety regulations. Our local school has cancelled its display, because of a shortage of "trained firework lighters" (how long is that course?) and new guidelines on how far fireworks should be from people. We are a long way from the common sense advice on the old family fireworks box to "Light the blue touchpaper and retire immediately".
The annual explosion of pyrotechnical correctness about safety and "noise pollution" around firework night follows on from the Hallowe'en panic. There have been calls to ban children trick-or-treating as begging with menaces. Our local police sent out extra patrols on Hallowe'en, a spokesman explained, "because it is dark". Church figures gave warning about children falling prey to Darkness of another sort. Our young daughters dressed up as witches, went out with the neighbours and had a great time in the dark. Pity that so few would open their door.
What many people seem most anxious about today is not loud bangs, but noisy young people who they fear might explode at the drop of a witch's hat or a sparkler. Kids have always let off steam around Guy Fawkes night. I grew up with boys who enjoyed such traditional pastimes as throwing bangers (now banned) at cats, and firing rockets at bedroom windows. In those pre-trick-or-treat days, we sat in the street with a raggedy Guy asking strangers for money (which some gave us) without getting arrested.
Now youthful fooling around is equated with crime. One police spokesman told the BBC that his force would be "cracking down hard" on Hallowe'en antisocial behaviour, such as "knocking and running away from doors". In my day that was called Knock Down Ginger. The cowardly version was Knock Down Rosebud, in which you threw something at the door. The worst you would get was a rocket from the neighbours, or a "banger" round the ear from your dad. Today Ginger and Rosebud might expect ASBOs.
One MP told a youth justice conference this week: "The police are being called too often to tackle behaviour that only a few years ago would have been handled by teachers and parents." It would have been a good point had it not been made by Tony Blair, whose Government has encouraged us all to send up distress signals to the ASBO-happy authorities.
We also used to sing a song about building a bonfire, with "The teachers on the top/Put the prefects in the middle and burn the bloody lot." I hope that has been banned as incendiary hate-speech, if not for failing to comply with health and safety guidelines.
The incorrectness of travel in wacky Britain
New Labour’s deep-seated hostility to popular mobility is holding back advances on roads, railways and in the air
Is the New Labour government concreting over the countryside, as greens suggest, so as to appease the all-powerful road lobby? Does it also pander to what one green columnist has referred to as `anti-social bastards who believe they should be allowed to do what they want, whenever they want, regardless of the consequences', to the `extreme libertarianism now beginning to take hold here', to an individualism that `begins on the road'?
Well: between 1997, when New Labour came to power, and 2004, the latest year for which figures are available, Britain opened 284 miles of new major roads and motorways. That's a grand total of 40 miles a year. Not too impressive, for the world's fifth largest economy.
Don't expect chancellor Gordon Brown's November pre-Budget report, or Sir Rod Eddington's late-running transport review, to bring about the swift, massive, nationwide renovation of short- and long-distance transport infrastructure most people want. Brown has already hinted that Eddington, ex-CEO of British Airways, will favour new transport within cities more than between them. That would anyway fit with general government policy, which is to confine new housing, and the working class, within cities, on brownfield sites.
In practice, the Eddington report will probably boil down to more bus lanes in cities and more cycleways, too; as well as more road tolls, pay-as-you-drive road pricing, urban congestion charges, urban parking charges, and general gas-guzzler charges. Already environment secretary David Miliband has sent Gordon Brown a letter recommending higher vehicle excise duty for fuel-inefficient cars - along with a rise in air passenger duty and the extension of VAT to flights.
Don't expect Department for Transport (DfT) secretary Douglas Alexander to dissent from this mania for new pricing schemes in road transport, rather than capacity expansion or technological progress. On 26 May, Alexander told Tony Blair he would be `seeking innovation and opportunities across all transport modes'. But by 27 June, he announced that only a tiny part, if any, of his Transport Innovation Fund would even improve major roads, let alone build new ones.
TIF money will rise slowly, from about 275 million pounds in 2008-9 to 2.75 billion by 2015. Initially, at least, most of it will go not on new roads, but on tinkering with traffic management, road pricing schemes, and the enhancement of gauges on those railway lines that carry freight. And like Crossrail, the `schemes' that Alexander says will now be `taken forward' will be taken forward for.`business case development and appraisal'. In the same spirit, Gordon Brown says that the Eddington report will `feed into' his own spending review `from 2008-11'
Well, let's not be too hasty! For the Department Against Transport (DAT), innovation means cutting car journeys, taxing them, and subjecting them to state surveillance through IT. Road congestion and the pollution that attends it are to be solved not through building more roads, for it is thought that selfish motorists will want to drive on them. Instead, New Labour innovation in road transport is now about cramming motorway drivers on to the hard shoulder.
The government has a deep-seated hostility to popular mobility. Of course, it justifies its coercive campaign to change motorists' behaviour in terms of the CO2 issuing from use of conventional petrol. But what does it propose to do about petrol use in terms of new technologies? In March, Brown's Budget ordered transport fuel suppliers to make five per cent of their product available as carbon-friendly biofuels by 2010/11. But the Department Against Transport has since found a new, more important worry. It frets about the `serious risk' that biofuels could themselves be developed `from highly unsustainable sources'. Yes, though biofuels take just 0.25 per cent of the UK transport fuels market at present, the government sees their further development as dangerous. And genetically-modified super-cellulose as the best possible substrate for biofuels? New Labour will never support it.
Government shows a similar disdain for innovation in Britain's major rail links. Germany can hope to put its recent accident with magnetic-levitation trains behind it. China can hope to spread its own version of maglev westwards, to Tibet. But Britain is different. As the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, the country's only new major rail line for many years, finally nears completion, the government has allowed Eurostar to strip Ashford, near the Thames Gateway mass housing development, of high-speed trains to Brussels - the political capital of Europe.
Still, in London, there appears to be a positive development. The government has decided to grant legal powers and planning consents to Network Rail in respect of its `Thameslink 2000 rail enhancement scheme' - better north-south railways for the nation's capital. But take a closer look. As DAT minister Stephen Ladyman stressed to parliament, `It is important to note that these decisions do not amount to a final go-ahead for the projects'.
If it is ever finished properly, Thameslink will be improved less around innovation, and more around tunnels that were built back in 1866. The whole atmosphere surrounding rail is steeped in lethargy. For proof, take Transport for London (TfL), the Ken Livingstone bauble that has just found 363million for Balfour Beatty and Carillion to extend the East London line by.2.25 miles. by 2010. Never bashful, TfL continues to protest that `concerns' about Thameslink raised by London Transport back in June 2000 `are still valid': the link's `strong emphasis on outer suburban services' means that it has few benefits for Londoners. For broadminded TfL, Thameslink is therefore of little value.
With air travel, too, New Labour runs a campaign to denigrate technological innovation. Earlier this month, Douglas Alexander told flying enthusiasts in Washington, DC: `We need to develop a coherent strategy encouraging and promoting technical improvements and operational gains - not just in aircraft design and fuel technologies, but also in areas such as air traffic control, which can have a significant impact on emissions.'
With its 787 Dreamliner, a long-haul, mid-sized plane to be flown for the first time next year, Boeing is struggling with composites and engines that, it hopes, will make a machine 20 per cent more fuel-efficient, per passenger, than previous models. Virgin's Sir Richard Branson has said he will invest 1.6 billion to try to put biofuel, not kerosene, into his jets. Some complain that these technological developments are all too little, too late. But what did Douglas Alexander add in the next sentence of his speech? `Relying on technology alone is not enough.'
Maybe so. But relying on new technologies would make a refreshing change from New Labour's ceaseless, tech-lite, authoritarian attempts to wean us stupid, selfish babies from our alleged `addiction' to the car and plane. It would make a change from promises of innovation in rail that amount only to recycling the underground tunnels of properly ambitious but physically diminutive Victorians. It would mean funding more and better international research into higher fuel efficiencies on the road and in the air, not hating motorists and plane users enough to want to tax - or ration - their every movement. Technology alone is not enough. But state controls on personal transport behaviour are always too much. To make people feel guilty every time they drive or fly will be the final triumph for British parochialism.
Multiculturalism 'a dirty word' in Australia
The Howard Government is looking to scrap the word "multiculturalism" as part of a major revamp of ethnic policy. In a move seen as a shift in emphasis away from fostering diversity and towards increasing integration and responsibility among migrants, the Government is canvassing alternative words to describe how ethnic communities harmoniously integrate into Australian society. The de facto minister for multiculturalism, parliamentary secretary Andrew Robb, yesterday confirmed to The Weekend Australian that he had told a meeting of the government-appointed Council of Multicultural Australia that he wanted to scrap the word from a redrafted multiculturalism policy. The committee members did not have their membership renewed when their terms expired at the end of June.
Mr Robb said he had not decided yet whether the CMA would be reconvened. "I'm keen to see a body but what its composition is and what its role is (are yet to be determined), I've got all the Muslim issues as well so I just haven't finalised it yet," he said. Mr Robb, parliamentary secretary for Multicultural Affairs, said a discussion was held at the meeting about the term "and the fact that it means all things to all men and all women and that there are a lot of other ways that what is being mentioned can clearly be expressed".
"I expressed my frustration that the term is not often helpful because different people listen to it and give different meanings to it and a lot of the others expressed similar frustrations," Mr Robb said. The current policy expires at the end of this year and is now being reviewed by policy-makers. The new approach comes less than 12 months before the next election and follows the Cronulla riots and the comments of Australian mufti Taj Din al-Hilaly that women who did not wear veils provoked men to rape them.
Versions of the policy have received bipartisan support since the Office of Multicultural Affairs was established in 1987. Former members of the CMA yesterday told The Weekend Australian they were concerned about Mr Robb's plans. Former CMA member Yasser Soliman, a Victorian multiculturalism commissioner, said he had raised his concerns about the lack of consultation and doubts about the future of the council. Mr Soliman said he had attended with Mr Robb the discussion about alternatives to the term "multiculturalism". "Our understanding was there was a lot of effort to find an alternative name to the multiculturalism policy because it carried negative connotations," he said. "I suggested 'multiculturalism II' because it implies that it was evolving." Another suggestion was the "integration policy".
Fellow former CMA member Tom Stannage said he was concerned about the new policy. "Clearly Andrew Robb and the cabinet are doing a whole lot of reshaping and developing a whole new vocabulary and so forth," Professor Stannage said. CMA members at the dinner had challenged Mr Robb to use the word multiculturalism more frequently because it was government policy, Professor Stannage said. "I've followed some of Mr Robb's public pronouncements - I'm worried about them but I can't do much about them," Professor Stannage said. "I expect references to unity and diversity will be lost from the new policy because of the diversity thing going out."
4 November, 2006
Racial preferences through the back door
On Tuesday, Michigan voters will be considering the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, a ballot measure that would make it unlawful for public employers, public contractors and public schools, to discriminate or grant preferential treatment on the basis of race, ethnicity, skin color, gender or national origin. The initiative was spearheaded by Jennifer Gratz, a white woman who was denied admission to the University of Muchigan and took her lawsuit to the Supreme Court, which ruled the university had violated the constitution, but still allowed that some use of racial factors was justified.
Calfornia's Ward Connerly, who led the similar Proposition 209 to passage in California 10 years ago, has been assisting her, and the San Francisco Chronicle is covering his efforts as an outside agitator. Of course, they don't use that term, but a bit of nuance may be there.
Civil rights groups like the NAACP and the Urban League have visited Michigan in recent weeks to oppose the initiative. And experts from UC Berkeley have gone to speak about the dropping proportion of African American students in California's public colleges and universities and the impact the ban has had on admissions at law and medical schools.
The article makes no mention of the efforts of some of these same groups in California, supplemented by academic insiders, to subvert if not flout the law in California. In a separate story on a separate day, the Chron reports in a deadpan tone on a conference at UC Berkeley of those who think we still need a butcher's thumb on the scale when it comes to certain special minorities getting into the elite campuses of the University of California system.
The University of California disproportionately serves the state's highest-income, best-educated families, and UC needs to look beyond test scores so high-school graduates from all backgrounds get a fair chance of being admitted, say two faculty reports released Friday. UC should consider dramatically cutting the number of freshman applicants guaranteed admission because their high-school grades and UC eligibility test scores are highest, the reports say.
At the same time, the university should drastically increase the number of slots awarded after a comprehensive review of all applications from students with at least a C average on UC-required prep courses, the reports say. Comprehensive review of a broader applicant pool would point up such qualities as leadership and "spark," according to one report, which argues that such factors are better predicters than SAT scores of a student's success..
Why on earth should admission to the most demanding and rigorous campuses be presumed to be a matter of distributional equity? It is a matter of who can understand, master, and use the education, not a matter of handing out benefits to aggrieved constituencies.
Membership on the Berkeley football team is not regarded as a matter of distributional equity. Where is the state's large Asian American population when it comes to the Cal Bears, who are Rose Bowl hopefuls this year? Cal and UCLA are playing Saturday and it will be broadcast on ABC for the nation to see. Please keep a count of all the Asian American players you see on the field. It won't be too demanding. Asian Americans constitute almost half the students at the two highly competitive campuses - because of their hard work and intelligence, not because they were handed a boon by an all-caring goverment.
The same goes for the football teams. The members were selected because of their excellence. I want to have future surgeons, lawyers, engineers, and philosophers gradauted by schools comprised of the best and the brightest, not some C-average students with hard luck stories.
If the football teams were selected on the racial distribution theory, nobody would be hjarmed the way an incompetent surgeon or engineer can cause harm. But nobody dares suggest such a system for football teams because the incompetence would be visible to everyone watching on TV and in the stadia, and there would be consequences.
The people have spoken in California, as they will speak in Michigan next week. The elitists who condescend to certain minorities by the bigotry of lower expectations insult the voters, subvert the law, and damage higher education and society through their intended back door manipulation of the admissions systems. They are despicable, yet self-righteous.
I hope Michganders follow California and Washington State, and pass this initiative. It is time to say "no" to the racial engineers and their racism.
OLD FEMINIST NONSENSE BEING CHALLENGED
Dozens of student athletes and coaches from colleges that have lost their teams because of Title IX enforcement will be rallying at the U.S. Department of Education headquarters today to urge reform of the federal anti-discrimination measure they say is unfair. The rally is being billed as the largest event ever held to protest provisions of Title IX that instruct colleges receiving federal funds to ensure the proportion of male and female athletes reflects the general student population. About 150 people are expected to participate in the 11 a.m. event, organizers said.
Leading today's protest will be representatives of 10 varsity teams at Virginia's James Madison University. The teams are slated to be eliminated next July to comply with Title IX. Sixty-one percent of the 17,000-member JMU student body is female and 39 percent male, so under Title IX, 61 percent of athletes should be women. The JMU teams affected include seven men's and three women's teams or a total of 144 students and 11 coaches. "Men and women are standing together in this protest," said Jim McCarthy, spokesman for the College Sports Council, a national coalition of college coaching groups, as well as coaches, athletes, parents and educators.
He noted that an official of the Independent Women's Forum, as well as the coach and all members of JMU's women's swimming team, will be among the protesters. The women's swim team would not be cut, but members want to make it clear that they object to the loss of JMU's male swimming team and nine other teams, Mr. McCarthy said.
Other teams to be cut are men's archery, cross country, gymnastics, indoor track, outdoor track and wrestling, and women's archery, gymnastic and fencing.
Today's protesters will include Wade Hughes, who recently lost his job as wrestling coach at Howard University because of Title IX enforcement. "The same thing happened to him two years ago at George Washington University," Mr. McCarthy said.
Title IX legislation dates back to 1972. But Mr. McCarthy said it was guidelines President Clinton added in 1996 that said "schools had to make athletic rosters identical with enrollment which made quotas inescapable." He and others seeking the abolition of the proportionality requirement would like to see it replaced with surveys colleges would provide students when they register to assess their ability and interest in participating in various sports.
Lilian Dorka, an Education Department spokeswoman, said some protesters today will be meeting with the department's two most senior civil rights officials after the rally. Asked whether the proportionality provisions of Title IX could be changed, she said that would be "a very complex issue," and there would "first have to be a legal assessment."
Australia: Australia's foremost Muslim cleric triggers an uproar when he likens women who don't wear an Islamic headscarf to "uncovered meat" and blames them for attracting sexual predators. "If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or the park . . . and the cats come and eat it," says Sheik Taj al-Din Hilali, "whose fault is it, the cats' or the uncovered meat? If [the woman] was in her room, in her home, in her headscarf, no problem would have occurred."
Afghanistan: The kidnappers of Italian photojournalist Gabriele Torsello threaten to murder him unless Abdul Rahman, an Afghan Christian convert, is returned to Afghanistan and handed over to an Islamic court. Rahman lives in Italy, which granted him asylum earlier this year, when he faced the death penalty under Afghanistan's sharia law for converting from Islam to Christianity.
Iran: The president of Iran calls Israel "a group of terrorists" and threatens to harm any country that supports the Jewish state. "This is an ultimatum," warns Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for the elmination of Israel and the United States. "Don't complain tomorrow." Days later, the deputy director of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization confirms another stride forward for the country's illicit nuclear program: With the injection of gas into a second cascade of centrifuges, Iran has doubled its uranium-enrichment capacity.
Thailand: Islamist terrorists bomb a column of Buddhist monks as they collect offerings of food in Narathiwat, a city in southern Thailand. One person is killed; 12 are injured. The attack is the latest in a bloody week that has included multiple shootings and another fatal bombing.
France: Another Muslim intifadah rages in France. Hundreds of cars are torched nightly and passenger buses set ablaze with Molotov cocktails. One such fire in Marseille leaves a 26-year-old woman in a coma with burns covering 70 percent of her body. "We are in a state of civil war, orchestrated by radical Islamists," says police union leader Michel Thoomis. "This is not a question of urban violence any more. It is an intifadah, with stones and firebombs." So far this year, more than 2,500 police have been wounded in clashes with rioters.
Britain: In a "true Islamic state," sexually active homosexuals would be executed, says Arshad Misbahi, an imam in Manchester's Central Mosque. According to interviewer John Casson, the imam explains that while executions "might result in the deaths of thousands," they would be worthwhile "if this deterred millions from having sex and spreading disease."
Not all the news is bad. NATO forces have recently killed scores of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan . Czech intelligence agents thwarted an Islamist plan to seize the Central Synagogue in Prague on Rosh Hashanah, hold the Jewish worshipers hostage, and then blow up the building with its occupants. A proposal to let Muslim taxi drivers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport refuse service to passengers carrying alcohol was scrapped in the wake of vehement public opposition. And the world's mightiest fighting force continues to kill Islamofascists in Iraq, currently the key battleground in the global jihad.
But there can't be much question that at this point in the war against radical Islam, the radicals are on the march. From Ahmadinejad's swagger to Hezbollah's war on Israel to the plot to blow up jetliners leaving London, our enemies are aggressive, relentless, and unequivocal in their determination to defeat us. Meanwhile, Western Europe is turning into Eurabia before our eyes, as a fading native population with its effete secular culture of pacifism and relativism is superseded by a surging Muslim cohort. Most Muslims are not Islamists or terrorists, of course. However, most of them keep quiet in the face of the radical offensive. That is all the radicals need to keep driving the jihad forward.
"If this country lets down its guard, it will be a fatal mistake," President Bush said last week. Yet too many Americans seem unable to recognize the threat, or to believe that they, their liberties, and the lives of innumerable human beings are truly at stake in a deadly global war. But radical Islam is not going away. Like Nazism and communism, it is (in Senator Rick Santorum's words) "an ideology that produces the systemic murder of innocents." Like those earlier totalitarianisms, it will go on murdering until it is crushed. Like them, it is impervious to appeasement and contemptuous of weakness. The longer Americans sleep, the farther the jihad advances.
3 November, 2006
THE UNHINGED KINGDOM AGAIN: TRULY DEMENTED LOCAL GOVERNMENT PC
A council has warned staff against using the phrase 'political correctness' at work because it might offend people. A booklet outlining 'equality' policy to council workers claims using the term at work can be damaging and even linked it to the Ku Klux Klan. The bizarre publication also orders staff not to use words like 'policeman', 'fireman' and 'chairman', suggesting they are classic examples of 'exclusionary language.' While the word 'ethnic' is also outlawed for being not 'appropriately descriptive.'
The 44-page training book called 'Equality Essentials' has been used for staff training courses at Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire. The publication outlines forms of damaging behaviour in the workplace and rates them on a five-level scale. The authors claim that moving things around on someone else's desk is as serious as punching or kicking them. And workers are instructed to come up with 10 things they can do every day to make colleagues feel better.
Tory MP for Shipley Phillip Davies, a patron of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, branded the pamphlet 'extreme and patronising.' 'How much is it costing to produce all this garbage?' he said. 'The policy is full of either the blindingly obvious or utterly ridiculous nonsense.'
A section of the 'PC booklet is devoted to denouncing the use of the words 'political correctness'. It states:'Political correctness is often used to describe what some of us think are unnecessary changes which don't really bother anyone. 'The term political correctness was coined in 1988 by John O'Sullivan III, who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. He was making an after dinner speech complaining about how Black Americans were being allowed to take the jobs traditionally reserved for the white majority because of a wave of political correctness. 'Since then the phrase political correctness has almost universally been used to decry changes which aim to prevent offensive behaviour.' It goes on to say because this takes the form of 'blaming the victim, denying peoples experience or expressing the view of a popular majority,' using the phrase can represent a 'physical attack.'
The authority's new Tory leader Robert Light blamed his political opponents and said the booklet was no longer being used by council staff. 'We don't think it is relevant to use this booklet. We are trying to achieve the situation where the council has a more professional, modern approach. Diversity is still an issue for us but we will be taking a common sense approach rather than being part of the PC culture. 'Kirklees Council has had the title of most PC Council in Yorkshire and we are determined to change that view.'
Mr Light added:'References to the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi Germany are really extreme to use in a training guide even as a reference, it's very bizarre. 'I find it more unbelievable that they complain about the use of the word ethnic when it is the term that Government bodies, think-tanks and local leaders all use. It's very off the wall.' Kirklees Council employs more than 18,000 people and has a budget of more than 470 million pounds.
PERSECUTED SCOTTISH FIREMEN GET HELP
The songwriter behind one of the most famous gay anthems has promised o50,000 to a group of firemen disciplined for refusing to hand out leaflets at a Gay Pride march. The Rev George Hargreaves, a former music mogul who is now a Pentecostal minister, still earns an estimated o10,000 a month in royalties from the 1985 pop song So Macho. The single was recorded by Sinitta, with an even camper B-side called Cruisin', and became an instant hit in gay clubs across Britain, thanks to its catchy disco tune and cheesy lyrics, which included the line: "He's gotta be big and strong, enough to turn me on."
More than 20 years later, its proceeds are to be used to help to fund a legal appeal by nine officers from Strathclyde Fire and Rescue who were punished for refusing to attend a gay parade. Mr Hargreaves, who believes that homosexuality is a sin, said he believed that the human rights of the firefighters were violated after they refused to attend a Pride Scotia event in Glasgow in June. The officers at the Cowcaddens station, led by watch manager Brian Herbert, claimed that they acted on moral grounds when they disobeyed an order to hand out fire safety literature at an event billed as a "gay, bisexual and transgender festival". They said that they also feared that they would be kissed by excited revellers.
Their stand was supported by the Fire Brigades Union, but the officers were sent written warnings and ordered to attend "diversity training" courses. Mr Herbert, who is just two years from retirement, was demoted to crew manager, resulting in a salary loss of 5,000 pounds per year.
At an internal hearing in Glasgow yesterday the firemen appealed against the punishments, arguing that they were entitled to object on grounds of conscience and that the public relations exercise was not a core part of their duties. The result is expected to be made public later this week. The men are likely to take the case to court if they are not exonerated formally. Their stance has attracted condemnation from gay rights groups, but was supported by the Roman Catholic Church, which said that obeying one's own conscience was "a higher duty than that of obeying orders".
Mr Hargreaves says that he owes his life to a firefighter who rescued him from a house fire when he was a boy. He is now pastor of the Hephzibah Christian Centre in Hackney, East London. He has homes in London and Scotland and plans to stand for Scottish Parliament next May. In an election broadcast on behalf of his party, the Christian Party, he said: "Consider the influence of minority interests, such as the homosexual lobby, on all aspects of society, simply because they've made their presence felt. The ancient city of Sodom could have been saved if only righteous people could be found." Last night he said: "I am not homophobic. In my music days I had many friends who were heterosexual playboys and many who were gay playboys. As we say in the Church, we love the sinner, whilst hating the sin."
An affirmative action appointment comes unglued in Australia
Note: In Australia, it is customary to refer to someone with even a small amount of black ancestry as an "Aboriginal" -- mainly because of the various special benefits that attracts from governments -- such as appointing people lacking in judicial temperament to the magistracy
The company director strip-searched and jailed for contempt of court by the nation's highest profile Aboriginal magistrate, Pat O'Shane, is seeking damages for wrongful imprisonment. Paul Makucha says while he welcomes Ms O'Shane's referral to the NSW Judicial Commission's conduct division, it had come "too late" and that he had still not received an apology for the incident.
Ms O'Shane, the first Aboriginal barrister in Australia and a former head of the NSW Aboriginal Affairs Department who in 1998 was named one of Australia's 100 National Living Treasures, now risks being removed from office after senior members of the NSW judiciary referred her to the disciplinary tribunal. The state's top judges moved against Ms O'Shane, who was appointed a NSW magistrate in 1986, after she clashed with Mr Makucha in a civil case, jailed him for contempt, heard part of the case in his absence and then ruled for the other side. Mr Makucha, 60, was strip-searched, photographed and imprisoned for a day after being cited for contempt in July 2004. "They stripped me, made me lift my scrotum and bend over so they could examine my rectum and made me stand naked in a designated place," Mr Makucha told The Australian last night. He had been imprisoned from 11am to 4pm and was then given 35 minutes to raise bail of $500 to avoid spending a weekend in jail.
In November last year, the NSW Court of Appeal overturned Ms O'Shane's judgment and found that she had denied Mr Makucha procedural fairness and had made "wholly unreasonable" interpretations of his intentions. The court said Mr Makucha had behaved badly, "but it was hardly contempt in the face of the court". "The magistrate's behaviour ... when the defendant was unrepresented was quite inappropriate," the Court of Appeal judges said. "The exercise by the magistrate of a little tact from the beginning of the defendant's conduct to which she took exception would have gone a long way."
Mr Makucha said the inquiry into Ms O'Shane's conduct was excellent news but it was far too late. He had complained about Ms O'Shane to state Attorney-General Bob Debus in 2004, soon after the incident had taken place. The Judicial Commission includes the head of Ms O'Shane's own court, Chief Magistrate Graeme Henson. An adverse finding would need to be tabled in state parliament and could trigger a vote by both houses - the only constitutional way of removing judicial officers.
However, Mr Henson last night declined to discuss Ms O'Shane's future or to reveal whether he was present at the meeting of the commission that convened the inquiry. The affair is set to become a test case for reforms to disciplinary proceedings involving NSW judges. Ms O'Shane's conduct will be investigated by a three-member panel known as a conduct division that will be made up of serving or retired judges. While most of the commission's proceedings are conducted in secret, the reforms require the conduct division to consider whether it's in the public interest for the matter to be resolved publicly.
Mr Makucha has been a frequent litigant and has clashed with the bench before. In 2003, while representing himself, he was frequently found to have breached the rules of evidence to the extent that magistrate Gail Madgwick threatened to call the sheriffs. He was in court at the time after taking out 10 apprehended violence orders against neighbours at the Toaster apartment building at Circular Quay. Mr Machuka had found a strange car in his parking spot at the building that he thought represented a terrorist threat.
Mr Debus refused to comment on the affair yesterday. This is the latest in a series of incidents involving Ms O'Shane. In October last year, she threw out a case of offensive behaviour against a 27-year-old drunk who told police "youse are f...ed", arguing she was "not sure there is such a thing as a community standard any more". In 2001, Ms O'Shane survived an earlier complaint to the commission for saying some women invented stories against men in rape and domestic violence cases. In 2000, she survived another complaint and later described the commission, headed by NSW Chief Justice Jim Spigelman, as a "kangaroo court".
2 November, 2006
Leftist cartoonist Leunig supports the Mufti:
Michigan is challenging affirmative action
Jennifer Gratz sued the University of Michigan in 1997 for discrimination because she could not attend the university, because preferences were given to minorities. In 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case that satisfied no one. The university could take race into consideration for the purpose of diversity but could not use rigid formulas to do so.
Since then, Gratz has been active lecturing on the unfairness of affirmative action, and now the public will vote on Proposal 2 on November 7. It will amend the State Constitution to "outlaw consideration of race and gender in deciding which applicants get into college, who receives government jobs and what businesses secure state and local contracts." As of today it is a tight race.
If it passes, Michigan will join California and Washington where similar measures passed. Ward Connerly, who helped pass the California initiative, plans to take the initiative to other states if it passes in Michigan. Not surprisingly, "Virtually every religious, political, business and civic organization in Michigan opposes the measure," as well as both gubernatorial candidates. (Article from the Chicago Tribune, 10/19/2006.)
Ending affirmative action is only part of this story. We are also seeing a trend where states and municipalities are taking actions in lieu of federal action. On immigration, some cities are sanctuaries, whereas Indiana is considering controlling illegal immigration on its own. Abortion activists are working hard to put into place local laws that would kick in if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
British Labour party loses faith in multi-culturalism
At his press briefing yesterday, the Prime Minister made it clear his Government's approach to cultural diversity had changed. He may have couched his position in careful language, but the conclusion was inescapable: integration, rather than multi-cultural separatism, is now official policy. By saying that he "fully supported" the decision of Kirklees council to suspend the Muslim teaching assistant who had refused to remove her veil at work, and then reinforcing this point with the observation that the veil was a "mark of separation", Mr Blair removed any doubt about the Government's position.
He was, in effect, affirming that the contentious views expressed over recent weeks by Jack Straw, Ruth Kelly and John Reid were not maverick individual opinions, but part of a larger, concerted revision of the Cabinet's stand. Mr Blair, unsurprisingly, wanted to avoid the appearance of an outright volte-face: at one point, he suggested that there should be "a balance between integration and multi-culturalism". This would be a logical impossibility, since the policy of multi-culturalism, as it has been understood and practised, is antithetical to integration.
Ministers are now clearly ready to embrace the argument that they have attacked for many years as insensitive, even bigoted: if Britain is to succeed in absorbing diverse peoples, ethnic minorities must accept the mores of their adopted country. Private religious observance should always be respected, but its practices cannot be permitted to contravene either civil law or the social rules that make community life workable.
Most crucially, the Government's new stand implies that there is an obligation on the part of all those who settle in this country to relate to the larger society and to accommodate its expectations. As the shadow home secretary, David Davis, has said, we cannot afford to encourage a form of "voluntary apartheid" by allowing minority groups to withdraw into cultural isolation. Mr Davis described this as a "series of closed societies within our open society". In fact, such separatism, which the philosophy of multi-culturalism promoted, is a threat to the very existence of an open society.
Mr Blair announced yesterday that he wants an "open and honest debate". That debate is already under way and it is becoming more open and honest by the moment. If ministers wish to engage in it, they must explain how they intend to deal with the small proportion of the British Muslim population that is aggressively opposed to integration, and acknowledge the need for an education system that equips the young of all races with the historical understanding and national pride they need to participate fully in British life.
Biased media under pressure in Australia
Prime Minister John Howard says he didn't pressure the ABC to shelve popular comedy show The Glass House. The ABC yesterday axed the weekly panel show hosted by comedian Wil Anderson, which has been accused of anti-government bias.
"I have not axed the program," Mr Howard said on Adelaide radio 5AA today. "If it has been axed, then it has been axed by a decision of the ABC, I haven't asked that it be axed." Mr Howard said he occasionally watched the program, which also features comedians Dave Hughes and Corrine Grant, who is involved in the ACTU's workplace rights campaign. "I don't watch it - occasionally will flick it on but not very often," Mr Howard said. "I do not tell the ABC what programs it should run. I respect the independence of the ABC. "From time to time, if the ABC treats a news item in an unbalanced fashion I will say so, and I will say that in relation to other programs as well."
The ABC gave no explanation for their decision not to continue the satirical program apart from telling the cast and crew yesterday that not all shows could be renewed.
Anderson posted a blog last night promising to "go out with all guns a'blazing". "It's been a really fun five years," he said. Co-compere Hughes said axing the show made little sense. "We have had our best ratings ever," he said.
The show was at the centre of a storm of allegations of anti-Howard Government bias and there has been speculation it is the latest casualty in the "culture wars". It was axed just one day after Liberal NSW senator Connie Fierravanti-Wells said during a grilling of ABC executives that co-host Corrine Grant had been guilty of a serious conflict of interest because she was the public face of the ACTU's workplace relations campaign. And it follows revelations the ABC will pay a new chief censor $280,000 a year to investigate and monitor instances of bias on ABC programs.
The show had been achieving its highest ratings since it first went to air in 2001 - with average audiences of 728,000. The program regularly outrated commercial programs in the same time slot and this year won a peak audience of almost 860,000 viewers. Anderson, Hughes and Grant regularly make jokes about John Howard and US President George W. Bush, provoking critics to accuse them of bias. But during a recent show Anderson responded to criticism by saying if Mark Latham had been in power they would be having a great time.
1 November, 2006
Diversity is another word battered beyond recognition by liberals and progressives. Orwellian NewSpeak has made the word diversity into a bangalore torpedo to undermine the defenses guarding civilized society. Liberal-socialists, with our educational system in the vanguard, have made diversity into an end in itself, a principle of materialistic social justice.
In education, for example, the goal of diversity is elevated to a higher status than providing the best possible education for students. Diversity is, not an educational principle, but a correlate to Lenin's program to create the New Soviet Man via material factors imposed by intellectuals. Students are somehow to be made better by the corruption of a system that supposedly is devoted to academic excellence.
As economist Thomas Sowell has so articulately observed many times, poorly prepared students, of whatever race, gain nothing by being admitted to colleges with academic standards beyond their reach. Either the better students are held back, or the poorly prepared students are discouraged and eventually drop out. Nothing is gained by the mendacity of liberal-progressive educators giving every student a minimum grade of B. Victims of grade-inflation have simply been set up for failure and embittered cynicism in real-world job competition.
Less well prepared students can get a good education at colleges with less stringent academic standards. Students who earn Bs and As in those colleges can have the priceless gift of real self-respect based on their own hard work.
Diversity of the liberal-progressive stripe has disastrous consequences for the survival of the United States. Economically we see its results in the widening gap between linguistic, mathematical, and scientific competence of average American graduates and their overseas counterparts. In an increasingly technical world, the United States is suffering, not only from inflated production costs arising from the welfare state and unionism, but from falling behind in the innovation curve.
We can celebrate the diversity of our student bodies, but at the cost of fewer and fewer Nobel Prizes for science awarded to Americans in the future, along with more and more manufacturing transferred overseas.
At a more fundamental level, diversity is moral relativism masquerading as virtue. Liberal-progressives paint diversity as a democratic principle of equality. It is, in fact, the opposite. Rather than supporting an equal opportunity on the basis of merit, the doctrine of diversity confers special privileges based on non-essential factors such race and ethnicity.
Morality, a unifying factor essential for social survival, is replaced by the selfishness implicit in diversity, which subtly teaches the view that gratifying personal desires is more important than voluntarily working with others for the common good.
If any culture, and any set of moral standards (except, of course, for those of Judeo-Christianity), is as good as the next, why should we be surprised when business executives behave as they did in Enron and Tyco? If highly-qualified students are passed over in the college admission process for manifestly less qualified students, only for reasons of diversity, how can qualified students avoid cynicism about society's rules?
The Latin roots of the word diversity mean to bend apart, to diverge, in other words the opposite of unity. In that sense, diversity is opposed to the concept of the United States itself: e pluribus unum, i.e., one nation from many colonies and many peoples. Had diversity in the liberal-progressive sense been the order of the day, there would have been no War of Independence in 1776 and no Constitution in 1787-89. The colonies would have remained independent units, relishing their diversity, but unable to resist the tyranny imposed by Parliament and George III.
How did we fall off the tracks? In the early decades of the 20th century, Columbia University sociologist Franz Boas and his acolytes Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead sold the modernist intellectuals in Greenwich Village the socialistic hypothesis that cultures and human behavior standards are relativistic and merely the product of their surrounding material circumstances of economy and geography. Materialistic factors - government regulation, income redistribution, and education - were theoretically capable of perfecting society, but only if society's common cultural standards could first be removed. The unifying characteristics that Tocqueville observed in Democracy in America in 1833 - the Christian religion and respect for tradition and the rule of law - had to give way to the intellectual vision of a Brave New World. Along with diversity, we got the doctrine of multi-cultural education in the 1970s.
Diversity as an iconic end in itself leaves us defenseless against La Raza's Reconquista movement to impose Hispanic culture and the Spanish language upon the Southwestern and Western states and, ultimately, to separate them from the United States and incorporate them into Mexico.
Worse, the doctrine of diversity supports the anti-Americanism rampant on American college campuses. Making diversity an educational goal leaves students convinced that 9/11 was our fault, that al Queda was merely redressing justifiable grievances against the feeble vestiges of Judaism and Christianity in our nation.
None of that is to disparage the multitudes of national, racial,ethnic, and linguistic origins of our burgeoning population. It is to say rather that those people coming here from so many different parts of the world do so to enjoy the benefits of living in a nation unified by common understandings about morality, private property rights, the rule of law, individual responsibility, and the work ethic.
Far better than the liberal-progressive worship of diversity is returning to the paradigm of the melting pot that prevailed at the beginning of the 20th century. Let every national, ethnic, and language group proudly celebrate its heritage and pass that heritage along to its children. But let all of us be unified, not divided, as one nation seeking the common good.
TIME TO RETIRE THE RACE CARD
By Jeff Jacoby
Senator Joseph McCarthy is long gone from the American scene. No longer do political combatants try to score points by falsely accusing others of communist sympathies. But if classic McCarthyism is dead, racial McCarthyism is alive and well. No election season nowadays seems complete until someone has played the race card and maliciously charged someone else with bigotry.
Sometimes the racial slander takes the form of an ad. During the 2000 presidential campaign, the NAACP aired a vile television spot that showed a pickup truck dragging a chain; in a voiceover, the daughter of James Byrd -- who had been dragged to his death in a Texas lynching two years earlier -- said that when then-Governor George W. Bush opposed a 1999 revision in the Texas hate crime law, "it was like my father was killed all over again."
The 2006 edition of racial McCarthyism features TV ads, too. But this time it is the ads themselves -- and by extension the Republicans they are meant to benefit -- that are being falsely smeared as racist. In Tennessee, the GOP aired a commercial poking fun at Harold Ford, the black Memphis congressman who is in a battle with former Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker to succeed Bill Frist in the US Senate.
The ad parodies several of Ford's political positions through mock interviews with people defending or agreeing with him. "Terrorists need their privacy," a woman indignantly insists. "Ford's right," says a hunter wearing camouflage, "I do have too many guns." A Wilford Brimley look-alike declares, "Canada can take care of North Korea -- they're not busy." And a bare-shouldered bimbo squeals, "I met Harold at the Playboy party" -- a reference to Playboy's 2005 Super Bowl bash in Florida, which Ford attended. The ditzy blonde returns at the end to whisper, with a wink, "Harold: call me!"
It was a witty, entertaining ad -- and it promptly had liberals and Democrats and even the odd Republican screeching about how "racist" it was. The NAACP issued a press release calling it "racially charged political propaganda" akin to "The Birth of a Nation," D. W. Griffith's paean to the Ku Klux Klan. Salon described it as an "attempt to inflame white bigotry about interracial relationships and white fears of black male sexuality." Vanderbilt University professor John Geer breathlessly told AP: "I've not met any observer who didn't immediately say, 'Oh, my gosh!' It was a race card." Senator McCarthy, call your office.
Now, it is conceivable that some of the people claiming to see this inoffensive ad as racist are sincere, and not just going along with a toxic lie for political reasons. After all, some people once saw communists under every bed. And even when a cigar is just a cigar, some people can't help snickering about sex. But the plain fact is, there is nothing remotely racial about the Tennessee ad. The best proof of that is that *the ad would be just as effective if Ford were white.* The blonde party-girl isn't a coded reference to interracial dating. Her appearance in a Republican campaign commercial isn't a subliminal reminder of the Democrat's color. It is a cue that the Democrat, who campaigns as something of a goody-goody -- one of Ford's campaign spots was filmed in a church -- may be a little less straitlaced than he lets on.
The same litmus test exonerates Republican Kerry Healey's much-maligned TV commercials against Democrat Deval Patrick in the Massachusetts governor's fight. In one ad, a woman of indeterminable race is shown walking to her car in a parking garage, while a voiceover reminds viewers that Patrick has "praised a convicted rapist." Another ad shows a picture of Carl Songer, a white cop-killer Patrick represented and saved from death row. Both ads imply that Patrick is too soft on crime; both are harsh and heavy-handed. But neither one makes even a veiled reference to race, and it is disgusting to see them slandered as racist. Patrick may be black, but either ad would be precisely as effective if he were white.
From the moment Patrick won the Democratic primary, partisans angled to lob the race mudball at his Republican opponent. Just two days into the general election campaign, the state's Democratic Party chairman accused Healey of coming "close to race-baiting" by discussing illegal immigration. It was a disgraceful accusation -- and a hint of the racial McCarthyism to come. Enough. McCarthy is gone. The race card should be too. In Massachusetts, Tennessee, and every other state, don't voters of every race deserve better?
Australia: Leftist public broadcasters under scrutiny
Liberal [party] senators have attacked SBS executives, claiming the broadcaster exhibits pro-Arab bias, broadcasts "smut" and "pornography", and fails to clearly identify and label terrorist organisations to its viewers. And SBS is not the only public broadcaster under fire. The ABC, represented by new managing director Mark Scott, also faced hours of interrogation from Liberal senators and Labor's communications spokesman, Stephen Conroy, at a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra yesterday. Subjects in contention ranged from the ABC's controversial new editorial guidelines, which come into effect in March, to allegations of bias in Middle East coverage and labelling of terrorist organisations.
ABC executives confirmed during yesterday's hearings that a new position announced by Mr Scott for policing of editorial impartiality will carry a salary of between $150,000 and $280,000. Mr Scott told senators the ABC board would have a role in the appointment, with deputy chairman John Gallagher on the selection panel. Board participation in editorial appointments was "not atypical." All ABC staff, including high-profile journalists and presenters, will be required to undergo training in the new editorial guidelines. Mr Scott rejected repeated assertions from Senator Conroy that the new guardian of editorial impartiality would act as the "chief censor" of the ABC.
Two Liberal senators, Victoria's Michael Ronaldson and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells from NSW, meanwhile, criticised SBS about its reporting of the recent Lebanon-Israel conflict. Senator Fierravanti-Wells claimed high-profile SBS presenter George Negus expressed "pro-Arab" sentiments. She also alleged that SBS had "sided" with David Hicks, the Australian held at Guantanamo Bay, and exhibited "a rather equivocal view of terrorism". In addition, she said that SBS broadcast "smut and pornography" through foreign movies and through adult animation programs such as Striperella.
SBS managing director Shaun Brown defended the broadcasters' policy of "neutrality" in the identification of terrorist organisations. He also categorically rejected the suggestion that SBS broadcast pornography. Programs such as Striperella, he said, followed "a tradition at SBS to support adult animation".
Senator Ronaldson criticised Mr Scott for failing to bring key ABC executives to Canberra to face questions, and took issue with "subjective" ABC coverage of the recent Lebanon conflict. He became increasingly frustrated with Mr Scott's answers as the estimates hearing unfolded and raised concerns about various correspondents' reporting from the Middle East. "Such a good start and now you are back with the pack, Mr Scott," Senator Ronaldson told him yesterday.
ABC television head Kim Dalton has come out in support of the Media Watch program and its presenter, Monica Attard, rejecting speculation that satire would be blunted by the new editorial policies. Mr Dalton said Media Watch would return next year with a new executive producer and he hoped Attard would remain as presenter. "I think she does a great job and has an extraordinary reputation as one of our leading, award-winning journalists," he said. The job of executive producer has been advertised nationally. Current executive producer Peter McEvoy announced his departure before the unveiling of new editorial policies aimed at removing any bias from ABC programs.
Mr Dalton said he did not want to reflect on how the program could be improved. "I think it's a really important program. I think it serves a really important purpose in our media environment in Australia at the moment. It's clearly a very entertaining and popular program, and it will remain so," he said. Mr Dalton played down suggestions that Media Watch would become a panel-style show, adding that such speculation did not come from within the ABC. The show's essential role would remain that of a watchdog that looked at "the practice of media in an increasingly complex and globalised environment", he said. Endorsing the program's its single-presenter format, he said: "It is a short program, it's 12 or 13 minutes on a Monday night . (Viewers) are looking for something that has pace and edge and I'm not sure you can achieve that through a panel show."